How to Construct a Language: Part 3

The Language Family of Nysâerith

Previously we have talked about history of Nysâerith, so I won’t repeat that here.

When the great mages perished, every kingdom and every tribe attempted to safeguard their knowledge of Nysâerith. This resulted in several descendant languages. Today I’ll talk about one such language, which I call Therfanzir. This was spoken by the people of the sunflower valley. These people had bountiful harvest and temperate climate. They had very little use of magical powers.

Therfanzir will be a mixed language and it will have many loanwords from other languages. For the sake of simplicity, I shall only describe the sound changes of Therfanzir here.

Sound Changes in Therfanzir

Compared to Nysâerith, Therfanzir is a much simpler language. It got rid of the long vowels, many of the consonant sounds, and even stress marks. Here is a list of important changes. Many of these rules were influenced by famous sound changes in spoken languages, such as Grimm’s Law and Great Vowel Shift of English.

Vowel Changes
• Long Vowels: The long vowels are either dipthonged or transformed into a short vowel.
• a:i > ei, a:e > ɛ, a:>e
• i: > ai
• e: > i
• u: > ou
• o: > y
• Short Vowels:
• ɔ > o
• last sound i > dropped
Consonant Changes
• d > t > θ
• b > p > f
• ɣ > x > h > drop
• (stress on ʋ) ˈʋ > w
• ʃr > rʃ if there is a vowel sound before and after ʃr
• θr > rθ if there is a vowel sound before and after θr
• s/os at the end > drop
• in at the end > m

All stress marks are also dropped.

How to Construct a Language: Part 2

I am back again with new updates. I made several changes to Nysaerith. I added stress marks, accented letters and constructed more words. Starting from now, I shall use the phonetically correct pronunciation Nysâerith.

I am also working on the linguistic family of Nysâerith. I created a direct successor of Nysâerith that I call Therfanzir (IPA: /θrfanzir/). It was spoken by the people of the sunflower valley. It deserves its own post.

The Story So Far

In a fantasy universe, Nysâerith is the language of the magic itself. It binds the world and guides it. Words in Nysâerith have real magical power. Those who speak become one with the world, and the world bend to their will. They are called mages. There were many mages in the early days. They could move mountains, call upon storms. However, soon their desire for power corrupted them. They fought and massacred each other until no-one who truly understood Nysâerith was left alive.

Many years have passed since then. Now Nysâerith is only preserved in ancient runes and in the incantations that were passed down orally. As the language evolved, its magical power also waned significantly.

Now you might wonder if all it takes is to muster a language to become an expert mage, wouldn’t everyone just become mages? The answer is no. Nysâerith is a magical language. Understanding Nysâerith is same as understanding the intricacies of nature. As a result, interpretation of Nysâerith comes from how one observed the world. It varies from person to person. Two speakers of Nysâerith may not understand each other, despite speaking the same language. Think of it as two people expressing the same feelings in two unrelated languages, like English and Japanese. The feelings are there, but expressed differently.

This is why repeating another mage’s spells won’t have the same effect. When incantations are passed down across the generations, they gradually lose effectiveness as the background information is forgotten. That being said, the closer two people are (say in a family, a tribe, or a kingdom) the more likely they are to understand each other.

What you see here can be called my interpretation of Nysâerith.

Major Changes

• Dropped some of the consonants that I did not use such as /ð/ and /ʒ/
• Added accents for short and long vowels
• Included front high rounded /y/ sound
• Added stress marks. Nysâerith syllable stresses are quite predictable. Here are some rules for stressing:
• Monosyllabic words are never stressed.
• Certain sounds such as /ʋ/, /x/ are always stressed except in monosyllabic words.
• No two consecutive syllables can be stressed.
• If none of the rules above are violated, syllables with long vowels are stressed.
• If none of the rules above are violated, the stress falls on the second syllable in disyllabic and polysyllabic words.

How to construct a Language: Part 1

I am currently taking MIT’s ConLang class. Over the course of this semester, I’ll construct a fictional language called Nysaerith (IPA: /njsa:eriθ/). I think the best way to improve upon a project like this is to get a ton of feedback. So, I’ll post periodical updates on my progress. Let’s get started!

No language can exist without a fictional world. So, I’ll set the background first. In a fantasy universe, Nysaerith is the language of the magic itself. It binds the world and guides it. Words in Nysaerith have real magical power. Those who speak

become one with the world, and the world bend to their will. They are called mages. There were many mages in the early days. They could move mountains, call upon storms. However, soon their desire for power corrupted them. They fought and massacred each other until no-one who truly understood Nysaerith was left alive.

Many years have passed since then. Now Nysaerith is only preserved in ancient runes and in the incantations that were passed down orally. As the language evolved, its magical power also waned significantly. If this was a fantasy novel, the main character would travel around the world to reconstruct Nysaerinth haha.

Anyways, I think this background is sufficient.

Phonemes

Here is the phonemes of Nysaerinth and also a list of twenty words. You’ll notice that there are several uncommon consonants and long vowels. This is intended because I want this language to sound mystical and rhythmic. Later I’ll write many spells in it.

Some Words

I am continuously improving the language, hence some discrepancy in the future posts is expected. That being said,  any criticism of my word list is welcome!

A Probabilistic Model for COVID-19 Outbreak

As I am writing this blogpost, MIT is about to close until next fall and the undergrads are essentially getting evicted from the dorms.

Last two days were some of the most stressful days I have ever had. I have tons of work to do, but I cannot concentrate because I need to make sure my visa status will be okay, I need to pack my belongings and hopefully I’ll find a place to go.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the US. This was expected. While MIT’s take on this is understandable, was it really necessary?

Let me try to answer that.

Let’s start with a small campus with $$N$$ students where a small number of students $$\eta$$ have been tested COVID-19 positive. I’ll also assume that the campus is in a state of lockdown — no student leaves the campus and no person from outside enters the campus.
Continue reading A Probabilistic Model for COVID-19 Outbreak

An Introduction to Variational Autoencoders

Variational Autoencoders (VAE) are really cool machine learning models that can generate new data. It means a VAE trained on thousands of human faces can new human faces as shown above!

Recently, two types of generative models have been popular in the machine learning community, namely, Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) and VAEs. While GANs have had more success so far, a recent Deepmind paper showed that VAEs can yield results competitive to state of the art GAN models. Furthermore, VAE generated images retain more of the diversity of training dataset than GAN counterparts. Continue reading An Introduction to Variational Autoencoders

The Maths Behind Logistic Regression

Let’s have a look at this god-tier math puzzle. Only one out of seven gets it right, and the other six don’t. So, what are the odds for solving it correctly? 1 to 6. Generally, if $$p$$ is the probability that someone will get it right, then his/her odds are $$p/(1-p)$$.

However, it isn’t necessarily true that $$p=1/7$$ for every person because some people are smarter, some have better education and so on. Hence, $$p$$ also depends on the person attempting the puzzle. In a Bayesian framework, we capture this dependence with conditional probability.

Want to Fight Climate Change? Don’t Waste Food

A few days ago, my roommate and I were getting dinner at an Japanese restaurant. While we waited for food, we were having a brief discussion about the recent heat waves in Europe. Both of us felt very sad about these changes. Continue reading Want to Fight Climate Change? Don’t Waste Food

A Week of Poetry: Day 4

By Shel Silverstein

And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.

A Week of Poetry: Day 3

Sonnet 130

By William Shakespeare

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks; Continue reading A Week of Poetry: Day 3