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Laramin is turning 10: Happy Birthday!

10 years ago at 10pm in a swimming pool of Kuala Lumpur, the idea of what would become the constructed language Laramin loomed in a mind... :)

Etymologie Indo-Européenne en Dictionnaire

Voici enfin une copie intégrale en PDF de ce dictionnaire plein de révélations, pour 10Mo seulement. Le texte est passé en reconnaissance de caractère et peut donc être recherché par mot-clef avec CTRL+F.

Grandsaignes d'Hauterive, Dictionnaire des Racines des Langues Européennes (1948)


(Cliquez sur l'image pour ouvrir le pdf)

J'avais posté dans cet article un début de résumé de ce dictionnaire.

Etymologie chinoise : Livre de Leon Wieger

Voici une copie du livre écrit en 1916 par le père jésuite Dr. Léon Wieger, qui discute de l’étymologie chinoise, essentiellement sur la base du dictionnaire antique Shuowen 说文解字, avec quelques distances critiques.

Léon Wieger, Caractères Chinois (1916)


(Cliquez sur la photo pour ouvrir le pdf)

Une lecture fascinante, qui tord le cou à quelques mythes. Par exemple 明 qui est en fait la combinaison de 囱 + 月, la lumière de la lune à travers une fenêtre, et donc pas de soleil comme on le croit à la vue de la forme moderne. Oncle Hanzi est du même avis..
Wieger propose aussi que 字, représentant un enfant dans une maison, signifie d'abord "enfanter", puis "caractère d’écriture composé", considérant les 字 comme descendants des caractères simples 文. (voir p298) C'est le sens de 说文解字 : "discuter le 文 simple, et analyser le 字 composé".

Continue reading...

Link back Vietnamese and Chinese with Neo Nom

Neo-Nom a method to transcribe Vietnamese into modern Chinese characters, in order to immediately show the equivalences between the two languages. The aim is to help people learning either language to make connections with the other. It also indirectly draws connections with Japanese and Korean.

pdf here: Introduction to Neo-Nom

Example:
Tất cả mọi người sinh ra đều được tự do và bình đẳng về nhân phẩm và quyền lợi.
调特自由平等人品权利。

Continue reading...

Around Chopstick Languages (Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean)

Here is a list of articles and documents related to Chinese or Vietnamese:

  • Etymology of Chinese Characters, with proposes and illustrates 3 more sinogram generation mechanism, on the top of the 6 traditional.
  • Neo Nom 新喃 , a Japanese-inspired reconstruction of the ancient script Nôm, for learning purpose! If you know a bit of Chinese, that will gives you some keys to consolidate Vietnamese with what you know.
  • Chinese Etymology with Dr. Wieger's book (French), an in-depth etymological introduction, based on the seal script, the Shuowen and critical views of it.
  • Waseikango 和制汉语, a list of the Chinese words created by Japanese during the Meiji era, to describe new western concept. I’ve compiled the list myself from 2 sources.
  • Shuowen 说文解字 , an online XLS copy of the ancient etymological dictionary, with 11,100 entries. I’ve heavily customized it to analyze the text through excel functions and extract data systematically.
  • KoreoViet 韩越南字 , A Korean-inspired phonetic script for Vietnamese.
  • Voc Pro, a vocabulary list for professional context (technical, office) with translations in Vietnamese, Chinese, German, Spanish, and Bahasa.
  • Graphical Etymology of sinograms, a selection of few graphical etymologies.

Poème : Psaume 2 sur musique de Tallis

Le psaume 2 est particulier par son intensité et sa concision en 12 versets. Plusieurs mises en musiques ont été réalisées, et c'est la mélodie de Thomas Tallis qui m'a inspiré cette traduction versifiée :

  1. Pourquoi ce bruit dans les nations? Ces peuples aux projets vains ?
  2. Pourquoi les rois ont défié l’Éternel et son Oint ?
  3. Brisons, disent-ils, leurs liens, leurs chaînes ! Du joug, soyons sauvés!
  4. Mais Dieu dans les cieux se moque bien d’eux, de leur orgueil insensé.
    .
  5. Puis il leur parle en sa colère, fureur et épouvante !
  6. C’est moi qui ai sacré mon roi, sur Sion, montagne sainte.
  7. Décret du Seigneur : Tu es mon fils, engendré en ce jour.
  8. Demande-le moi, je te donnerai les nations pour toujours.
    .
  9. Sceptre de fer, tu les bris’ras, tel le vase du potier.
  10. Maintenant, rois, devenez sages ! L’instruction recevez !
  11. Servez l'Éternel avec crainte, tremblez de joie suprême.
  12. Embrassez le Fils, craignez sa colère. Heureux qui l’aime !

Voici le chant original, en anglais :


Another choir video , and here a cello version.

(1) Why fum'th in fight the Gentiles spite, in fury raging stout?
Why tak'th in hand the people fond, vain things to bring about?
(2) The Kings arise, the Lords devise, in counsels met thereto,
against the Lord with false accord, against His Christ they go.

(3) Let us they say break down their ray of all their bonds and cords
We will renounce that they pronounce their laws as stately lords
(4) But God of might in heaven so bright Shall laugh them all to scorn
The Lord on hie shall them defy they shall be once forlorn?

(9) With iron rod as mighty God, all rebels shalt thou bruse:
And breake them all in pieces small, as sherdes the potters use
(10) Be wise therfore ye kinges the more, Receive ye wisdomes lore:
Ye judges strong of right and wrong, advise you now before

(11) The Lorde in feare your service beare, with dread to him rejoyce:
Let rages be resist not ye, him serve with joyfull voyce
(12) The sonne kisse ye lest wroth he be, lose not the way of rest:
For when his ire is set on fire, who trust in hym be blest!

 

Voici enfin la flamboyante version de Heinrich Schutz , baroque, sur les paroles de la bible Luther :
(1) Warum toben die Heiden und die Leute reden so vergeblich?
(2) Die König im Lande lehnen sich auf und die Herren ratschlagen miteinander wider den Herren und seinen Gesalbten.
(3) Lasset uns zerreißen ihre Bande und von uns werfen ihre Seile.
(4) Aber der im Himmel wohnet lachet ihr. Und der Herr spottet ihr.
(5) Er wird einest mit ihnen reden in seinem Zorn und mit seinem Grimm wird er sie erschrecken.
(6) Aber ich habe meinen König eingesetzt auf meinem heilgen Berge Zion.
(7) Ich will von einer solchen Weise predigen, dass der Herr zu mir gesagt hat: Du bist mein Sohn, heut hab ich dich gezeuget.
(8) Heische von mir, so will ich dir die Heiden zum Erbe geben und der Welt Ende zum Eigentum.
(9) Du sollst sie mit einem eisern Zepter zerschlagen, wie Töpfe sollst du sie zerschmeißen.
(10) So lasst euch nun weisen, ihr Könige und lasst euch züchtigen, ihr Richter auf Erden.
(11) Dienet dem Herren mit Furcht und freuet euch mit Zittern.
(12) Küsset den Sohn, dass er nicht zürne und ihr umkommet auf dem Wege. Denn sein Zorn wird bald anbrennen. Aber wohl allen, die auf ihn trauen.

Polyglot Adventures

This week I've got some ideas about playing cards to stimulate multi-lingual workshops! The principle is basically to tell stories using several languages..

It is played with "Story cards" showing pictograms suggesting several ideas and words, "Language cards" indicating the tongues to be used, other "Mode cards" indicating tense (past present future) or focus (work jargon, emotions, slang, formal, etc.), and "Action cards" consumed to switch languages and modes.

Several playing styles came to my mind as i was crafting the first items:

  • Circle of Interpreters: players form a circle, languages are chosen as link between each player of the loop. Each has 3 story cards in hand. One by one, they lay a story card, and tell the scenario to the player on their left according to the required idiom. The next one adds another story card to the sequence and translates the whole narrative again to his neighbor. This game is rather collaborative, but we may give penalties to incorrect interpreters! This playing style only requires each player to speak 2 languages.
  • Free for All: players sit around 3 central decks of cards showing Languages (those that all players can speak), Modes, and Story. Each player has 5 story cards and 3 action cards. A first speaker is selected randomly, and starts telling a (logical!) scenario by laying down his story cards on the story deck. At least one sentence must be made for each card. At any point of time, another player can raise one of his story cards, and will take over the speaker at the end of his sentence. Logical junctions and grammatical correction are necessary, but complains from other players must be made in the same language! If the contribution of the contender is proven incorrect, he takes back his card. Any player can use action cards to switch tongues and modes, even in the middle of a sentence! The winner is the one using up all his story cards.

Practically speaking, printed paper was fixed on beautiful poker cards with tape. Kings Queens Jacks are kept to serve as "Action cards". Jacks and Queens switch to the next language of the pile, while Kings allow to select any tongue directly.

Here are all the graphics !

Facebook post

How many languages do you speak?

Here is an embarrassing and wonderful question! Language is about sharing, listening and talking, and that implies inviting the others to speak one of these languages, but crossing the thin line between sharing and showing off is quick…

A fair answer should quantitative, giving the gradual levels of mastery. For me it would be between 3 and 8. Mwaaahaha!

Etymology of Chinese Characters

Like other written languages, Chinese has built a system of connections between meaning, sound, and shapes. Its partly ideographic nature enables some direct links between meaning and shapes.

It has been proposed in one of the earliest Chinese dictionary (Shuowen 說文解字) that Chinese characters are created following 6 methods (LST 六書通). Here I'm proposing 3 more!

Continue reading...

Further Improvements to Esperanto / Plibonigi Esperanton !

Esperanto, the most successful created language for international communication, has been a wonderful encounter for me! It is the easiest language I know, while still being very accurate and elegant. But above all, its simple and powerful structure gave me the passion of learning foreign languages (and also create some..)

As a living language, it is subject to evolution, under the guidance of the Akademio.

Below are few ideas. Some are reasonable evolutions <Konsentebla>, others are downright utopias <Revolucieska!>

Continue reading...

Chinese Characters with 亼

亼 represents an inverted mouth, pointing downwards, while 口 is an upright mouth. The characters using it generally bear the idea of gathering and harmony.

  • 合) . . 合he2 means "conjunction, to fit, together". Here 2 mouths are meeting to talk, hence the idea of union. Characters using 合 for its meaning include: 答da2 "to reply, respond" (where 合 can mean "correspond", with the bamboo key used in 符合), 答da1 "to be in agreement", 翕xi4 "to agree", 㒆chi4 "to gather together", 洽qia4 "to blend with, be in harmony", 䆟ke4 'corresponding, appropriate", 恰qia4 "just, proper", 拾shi2 "to pick up, collect, tidy up", 拿na2 "to take, hold" ("close one's hand on something?" since 合 can mean to close by joining two corresponding parts, like windows.) The idea of closing might have generated these variations keeping both the sound and idea: 盒he2 "small box", 蛤ge2 "clam", 颌he2 "jaw".
  • 侖) . . In the character 侖lun2, the mouth 亼 reads a book 册, meaning "discussion, consideration", and nowadays "logical coherence". The variations are: 论lun4, "debate, discourse" (giving 理论 "theory" and 论文 "thesis"), and 伦lun2 "normal human relationships, coherence". They use 侖 both for its sound and meaning.
  • 龠) . . 龠yue4 is an ancient flute, with the mouth 亼, a bamboo flute body which became 冊, and 3 holes 品. The Shuowen comment underlines the multiplicity of sounds and musical harmony: "樂之竹管三孔以和眾聲也 從品侖侖理也". 龠 is also a unit of volume (50ml) worth half of 合ge3 (100ml). 龠 serves as semantic part for the idea of "blow" in 龡 chui4, the archaic form of 吹.
  • 和) . . 和 is today an homonym and nearly a synonym of 合. 和 means "and, union, peace, harmony", with an archaic writing 龢he2 = 龠yue4+禾he2. 禾 is used for the sound. Just like in 龡, 龠 was simplified into 口.
  • 龤) . . 龠 is also used to write 龤 xie2, which is homonym and nearly synonym of 谐xie2 and 协xie2, "harmony and agreement". We can note here the phonetic proximity between 和, 合, 协, 谐, and 龤, close to the middle Chinese pronunciation preserved in Vietnamese as Hiệp (合, 协, 谐, and 龤).
  • 集) . . 亼 can also be read as an archaic variant of 集 ji2, meaning "collection, to gather". In 集 we see birds 隹 gathering on a tree 木.
  • 令) . . In 令 ling4 "order, to command, to cause", the summoned order, the mouth 亼 is giving order to a kneeling man 卩from above. Here "order" bears the dual meaning of "command" and "organization".
  • 命) . . 令 has its variation 命 ming4 "life, fate, command, to assign", same as above, like a cinema director assigning roles.
  • 會) . . 會hui4, traditional form of 会, is composed of 亼, 曰 (yue1: speak), 丷, and 日. Following these components, we can trace back the logical connections of the various meanings: 聚会 to meet up, 会议 to discuss, 理会 to understand, 会 to know how, can, and future certainty. An archaic form of 会 is 㣛ta4 "to walk, to meet, to gather, to be able, to realize". 会 can also be pronounced kuai4 and mean "accounting, to balance an account", again: gathering and harmonizing!

That's it for now!
If you see some mistakes or important missing things so far, let me know. Thanks!

PS: I call (improperly for sure!) "Variations" of a character the combination of a given source character used both for its meaning and sound, together with a specification key. E.g. :
仑 => 论, 伦
合 => 盒, 蛤, 颌
令 => 命
分 => 份
In cases where the sound changes significantly, the resulting character becomes some kind of 会意字 (compound ideogram), although the construction is clearly in 2 steps (first 亼 + 口 => 合, then 合 => 答, 洽, 䆟, 恰, 拾, 拿, etc.)

References:

  • http://www.chineseetymology.org
  • Pleco Chinese dictionary app

Alfuni script: Universal, but not too much

After the 2 scripts of last September, which were adapting the principles of Alfuni to specific situations, here is the latest version balancing a wide range of sounds, with minimalist graphical variation. Some will blame a lack of contrast, but i do like the regularity and harmony it gives!

(as usual, the table links to the TTF font, for those who'd like to write with it, or tweak it further!)

One key originality of this script is to propose a logical link between consonants and vowels. This idea first came in 2008 with the Phono-Braille.

It also proposes a selection of tones and punctuation, but the table is already big..

Sample in classical Chinese:

Link to the language creation forum: Alfuni

Cardinal Cycle, a universal cultural framework?

Through the creation of the Hylian language, I've drawn correspondences between space (cardinal points) and time (sun, moon, seasons, life). More recently with the attempt to encompass all fields of education into 4 groups, I've been suggested a comparison with the European 4 elements. That triggered an extension of the initial "cardinal cycle" into something connecting all the Eurasian continent!

The Chinese cardinal points introduces a 5th item, central to the 4 others. This suggests similar central points, with transcendent character compared to the 4 others.

One thing at least is not universal: the link between the cardinal points and the moments of the day (through the position of the sun), which is only valid in the northern hemisphere. North-South is reversed in the southern hemisphere!

We see that Chinese culture is built between cycles of even and odd number. On one hand the Yin-Yang duality, the cycle of 4 seasons, and 4 cardinal points, often combined with the 8 combinations of the Taoist trigram. On the other hand, the cycle of the 5 agents, 5 music notes, 5 tastes, and then extended into the cycle of the 10 heavenly roots through multiplication by Yin-Yang.
However with the 5 agents, the "earth" holds a status similar to the others, not central.

For those who saw the movie "Divergent", we can also match the 5 factions following this order: Amity (farmers), Dauntless (fighters), Candor (judges), Abnegation (selfless servants), and Erudite (scientists).

Éducation Totale - Mapping out Education

The recent reading of the Wikipedia article on Jedi (the Star Wars frenzy can spark meaningful thoughts!) has lead me to realize how various fields of teaching and education can complement each others. Jedi are said to be "Polymaths", a word implying the mastery of many fields of knowledge, and at the Renaissance, mastery of arts as well. Since Jedi, like most Asian monastic traditions, blend rather physical training and wisdom, I came out with the following map of education:

The 4 fields of learning (Sport, Art, Science, Wisdom) are linked to 4 components of the person (Body, Heart, Mind, Soul), and nurture them with 4 types of food or accomplishment (health, beauty, science, peace).

Further, 4 types of historical teaching are proposed, giving emphasis on pairs of fields.

  • Sport+Art : Antique education as proposed by Plato
  • Art+Science : Renaissance polymath, like Da Vinci
  • Science+Wisdom : Medieval scholastic
  • Wisdom+Sport : Asian monachism

It is to be noted that back then, the definitions of the 4 fields were not as restrictive as shown here. For instance, Asian monks haven't excluded science but have been including part of it into their wisdoms.

  • The horizontal axis is about Power: Can and Know, "Pouvoir et Savoir". By combining horizontally Sport and practical Sciences, we could also imagine another very pragmatic education model: a nation of robots with no emotions (Equilibrium) nor conscience ! (Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World)
  • The vertical axis is about Feeling: Conceive and Receive, The combination of Art and Wisdom: people alternating between nerdy passionate creation, and peaceful selfless bounty to one another.

Maybe an accomplished man has to explore and balance all these fields?

I've integrated this map into the broader cardinal cycle.

Facebook post

Alfunepta script: Alfuni on 7 segments

Here is a version of my universal script Alfuni, simplified to fit a 7 segment digital display. This script is not strictly phonetic as it is mostly meant to offer a panel of characters to write most languages of the world. Letters can bear several phonetic values. The script can even be used with simple literal match, eg: write "Fountains" instead of the phonetic "Fawtenz", especially when Alfunepta doesn't have the required sounds.

The TTF file is available by clicking on the picture.

Here is the usual 1st article of the universal declaration of human rights, as sample text (literal match is used):

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Alfunanto script: Alfuni for Esperanto

In the wake of some discussions about new Esperanto writing systems, I had the idea of recycling my old Alfuni script for the reduced scope of Esperanto sounds.


(click on the picture to download the TTF font)

  • Plosives are tall, fricatives are deep, africatives are therefore both tall and deep.
  • Mute are straight, voiced are crooked.
  • Nasal and approximant are marked by a hook
  • Vowels are small

Letters within a word can be grouped without ambiguity, which saves space. I also introduce the consonant Dz, for the sake of symmetry.

Simplifications include the combination of vowels into the consonant table, a feature that i tend now to always keep (W and U, Y and I, clearly match. H and A match in Arabic)

Here is the 1rst article of the universal declaration of human rights:

Ĉiuj homoj estas denaske liberaj kaj egalaj laŭ digno kaj rajtoj.
Ili posedas racion kaj konsciencon, kaj devus konduti unu la alian en spirito de frateco.

Hylian, a language with musical roots!

My constructed language now explores the possibility of links with the melodies of the Zelda universe, looking for known words and roots, and then extracting new roots to create new words!

Around the Vietnamese Language

Here is a quick summary of several creations around Vietnamese:

  • A Korean-inspired phonetic script: KoreoViet
  • More recently, a Japanese-inspired reconstruction of the ancient script Nom, for learning purpose! If you know a bit of Chinese, that will gives you some keys to consolidate Vietnamese with what you know : Neo Nom

Laramin now goes fully ideographic !

Since 2012, a new script has been developed for Laramin, my first constructed language. More than ever it fits the project since it's purely ideographic.

Laramin has always put the emphasis on "meaning in itself" as far as such thing is possible. That is, all derivations, declensions, and conjugations are done using radicals with independent meaning. The targeted reading experience is to have a very analytical language structure (all words and grammatical aspect can be broken down to few fundamental ideas) only using direct visual symbols. (not like: "A" is a deformed ox head loosely pronounced "a", which in some contexts is an indefinite article..)

Larasem (for LARAmin SEMantic script) is made of simple visual components shared by all human civilizations: hand, foot, eye, tree, branch, cup, etc. Most Larasem combine several components to form an ideogram. This method can be compared to the Chinese 会意字 which also puts together ideographic components. More explanations can be found in the introduction PDF.

Here is a sample with the original text, translation with Latin script, phonetic script, and finally the ideographic script :

KoreoViet alphabet now on Omniglot!

The webmaster just gave me the green light for adding my constructed script into the big collection of his website Omniglot. (KoreoViet is an extension of the Korean writing system to transcribe Vietnamese.)

Hylian, a Language for Zelda

It's time to get this out of my to-do list: a constructed language that came to my mind in September last year!


(Click on the picture to see the introduction PDF.)

The challenge is to develop a language in the frame of the samples already present in the games of The Legend of Zelda. The universe of the games contains a lot of names (characters, places, items, events, etc.) which serve as basis for the vocabulary of Hylian here. It would therefore be relatively easy to learn for a fan, already familiar with the world of Zelda.

Here is the ad-hoc alphabet:


(Click on the picture to get the TTF font.)
"C" is pronounced like "Sh".

In short, words are based on Roots, formed of 3 consonants. These Roots can be derived with vowels. For example:
Zelda => ZLD, which can give :

  • Zolud: wisdom,
  • Zoldi: wise,
  • Zalod: sage,
  • Zilud: temple,
  • Ezoulud: to get wiser,
  • etc.

Here is another set of examples:

And here is an example of text:

Fans can discuss it on the Zelda Universe forum. For the language specialist forum, it's here: Hylien sur l'Atelier.

Some of you might remember a similar project, my first constructed language:
Laramin

Portes de Corne et d'Ivoire

Certains rêves révèlent parfois des réalités et connexions cachées de notre inconscient. A ce titre là, ils peuvent s’avérer plus "vrais" que le monde éveillé où règnent souvent les préjugés et dissimulations, par convention ou pudeur.

Homère a symbolisé cette idée dans l’Odyssée par un jeu de mot entre Corne/Ivoire (en grec Keras/Elephas) qui sonne avec Réalise/Trompe (en grec Krainoo/Elephairomai). Les rêves prémonitoires ou révélateurs venant par la porte de corne, tandis que ceux qui ne réalisent pas ou égarent viennent par celle d'ivoire.

Gates of Horn and Ivory

Cette idée m'est revenue ce matin à la suite d'un tel rêve. La veille au soir j'avais regardée le film "L'Histoire sans fin" qui parle aussi de l’équilibre entre imaginaire et réalité (le livre plus que le film apparemment, qui se conclue sur la liberté grisante de l’imagination). On m'a aussi récemment offert le livre "La création du monde" de Jean D'Ormesson, qui évoque cette référence de l’Odyssée.

Définition par présence ou absence

22 jan 2015 Shanghai

Je réagissais à un panneau chinois indiquant un passage adapté aux handicapés : 无障碍 C'est une définition par négation signifiant "sans contraintes", impliquant que les handicapés perçoivent davantage d’élément d'environnement comme des obstacles.

Suite à cette observation m'est venu cette pensée: Le monde descriptif semble pouvoir se séparer en deux catégories: les définitions par présence et par absence.

Celle par présence perçoit l'existant, comme un don.
Celle par défaut note le manquant, comme un du.

Celle par présence considère chaque chose comme disponible, reçue, et envisage COMMENT les combiner. C'est l'approche pragmatique/pratique.
Celle par défaut requiert une anticipation de ce qui devrait être, forgée par l’expérience, et cherche naturellement le POURQUOI du manque inattendu, causalité ou responsabilité. C'est une approche plus scientifique et juridique.

Language cross-breeding (and self-breeding)

Navigating across languages sometimes causes words to jump from one to another, especially with concise expressions. I owe "mamajujamente" to my Mexican friends who crafted it from Taiwan!

word meaning from in into
Berilalouer give way beri laluan Malay French
Nalier deny a compliment politely 哪里 Mandarin French
Tarofer refuse a gift politely until accepting it تعارف Persian French
Jaexmicono please.. خواهش می کنم Persian Spanish
Mamajujamente so-so 马马虎虎 Mandarin Spanish


And here is an attempt to develop (or reconstruct?) English words from an apparent regular pattern linking pairs of verbs. Verbs on the first columns are acting on a object (transitive), whereas those on the second column act on themselves, or at least without object. (intransitive).

E verbs A verbs Examples
fell fall Felling the tree: make them fall. (or fail?)
raise rise Raise your hand: make it rise.
lay lie Lay down your legs: let them lie.
bait bite Bait the fish: make it bite.
braid bride The bride braids herself to the groom (to breed? hmm..)


Interestingly in the 3 first lines or examples, we find that there is a shift from vowel E to A between the 2 columns. (phonetically we can convert raise=[rejz], rise=[rajz], lay=[lej], lie=[laj] ,bait=[bejt], bite=[bajt], braid=[brejd], bride=[brajd])


Following this rule, I (humbly) propose the following extensions:

Continue reading...

Indo-European Word Roots / Racines Indo-Européennes

More than 15 years ago, I came across a book called "Dictionary of Roots from Proto Indo-European (PIE) Languages". Back then I had been slightly into Greek roots, but not so much into languages as a whole. I much preferred spending time on exotic alphabets, which I believed where more harmonious and easier encompass. Languages, on the contrary, looked like immense and chaotic jungles, calling for a never ending journey... rather discouraging!

In 2006, I've met Esperanto, which became familiar to me within few days (as it would for anyone, that's the beauty of it!). Esperanto has totally changed my perception of grammar and lexicon, in a word, my perception of languages. It exemplified both a methodical construction and a harmonious simplicity. From then, languages have become a fascinating topic: Chinese, Malay, Persian, Arabic, Vietnamese, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Japanese, Spanish...

Last year I've suddenly rediscovered this dictionary and how it can wonderfully link words with unexpected connections. Here is a summary of the main PIE roots... I'm slowly preparing it and will update progressively. It's now filled until letter E!

Indo-European Roots

Some remarkable examples of kinship in English:

  • Art, harmony, arithmetic, article, arm
  • Fate, fable, infant, fame, symphony, profession
  • Physics, future, proof, be, build
  • Day, joy, divine, journal, Jupiter, Zeus
  • Educate, duct, duke, tie, team,
  • Police, dictate, index, digit, condition, avenge, attach, teach, take, toe
  • Fact, theme, thesis, difficult, factor, artificial, fashion, effect, profit, defect, facility, do, deed

In the provided DOCX document, examples are taken from these languages: Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, English, German

This Wikipedia article provides a broader spectrum of languages, covering each slice of the big PIE...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_vocabulary

Osmothèque: orgue à parfum miniature

Voici un coffret que j'ai fait confectionner l'année dernière, dans l'idée de rassembler 100 échantillons de parfum dans une petite boîte.

Etant donné que mes souvenirs se fixent particulièrment grâce aux odeurs, ce coffret joue un peu le rôle d'album photo, ou encore de compilation de musique. Il s'utilise comme un catalogue de voyage où l'on peut choisir la destination sous forme de lieu, d'instant, de couleur, d'humeur...

C'est aussi un peu comme un manuel de géographie grâce auquel je révise de temps en temps quelques senteurs exotiques, ou des groupes d'arômes difficiles à distinguer: "Burundi, Rwanda, Ouganda, lequel est plus rond? Plus vif? Plus suave? C'est comment déjà un parfum Chypré? Et poudré? Fougère? Vert?"

Je suis sûr qu'en entraînant régulièrement ses sens à discerner et nommer les choses, on gagne en acuité et largeur de perception; une sorte de supplément d'éveil. Cet entraînement est similaire à l'apprentissage ou approfondissement d'une nouvelle langue, ou encore la découverte de nouveaux concepts, comme une visite sur Wikipédia peut en offrir !

Poème coloré "Constellation"

Un poème sur un thème linguistique inspiré par le Laramin: une voûte comparable à celle du Panthéon sur laquelle sont disposés les 100 symboles idéographiques, espace de la pensée, sanctuaire de l'esprit. Le locuteur se tient au centre de la salle pour parler à ce ciel, dont les étoiles scintillent au rythme de la composition du discours. Par la suite, la voûte s'est assimilé au firmament de la création, retenant les eaux d'en haut, au dessus duquel j'avais imaginé un palais, accessible par un tunnel vertical formant un orifice dans le centre du dôme céleste.

Je compte aussi le mettre en musique, et y ajouter un dessin pour former un autre triptyque !

Script du vieux Perse / Old Persian font

En fouillant dans mes dossiers, j'ai retrouvé aussi cette police d'écriture que j'avais préparée pour le vieux persan. Cette langue était celle de l'empire Perse jusqu'à ce qu'Alexandre ne le conquiert. Contrairement à ce que son allure de Babylonien ou Akkadien peut laisser imaginer d'idéographique, ce script était syllabaire: chaque caractère représente un son ou une syllabe.
Encore une fois, à toutes fins utiles, le voici !

Police Old Persian.ttf

Et avec dans tableau en dessous de chaque caractère est indiquée la lettre a taper pour obtenir le caractère en question:

Continue reading...

Script arabe et extensions

J'ai reçu ce matin un mail de mon ami iranien Reza. Comme il y avait un peu de texte en persan, je me suis essayé à le déchiffrer. Cela m'a rappelé un table résumé que j'avais fait il y a quelques années, organisant phonétiquement les lettres du script arabe, ainsi que les lettres ajoutées dans les script farsi (Persan d'Iran, ou Urdu du Pakistan) et jawi (Bahasa de Malaysie).
A toutes fins utiles, le voici !

En couleurs sont marqués les groupes se ressemblant visuelement.
Les lettres latines en rose indiquent les caractères introduits par le script jawi: Ny, Ng, V.
Les lettres latines en marron indiquent les caractères introduits par le script farsi: P, Z, J, Ch.

Etymologie croisée: Connexion-Fermeture

Voilà deux idées qui peuvent sembler incompatibles, voire contradictoires (On se ferme aux autres lorsque l'on coupe toutes connexions avec eux), mais qui se trouvent associées dans de nombreuses langues !

Le mot "concerner" contient un cet étrange paradoxe que l'on retrouve aussi en Chinois. Il porte à la fois l'idée de fermeture et de connexion. Le sens premier du mot dénote la relation logique connectant 2 choses, avec pour synonyme "affecter". Ce synonyme conduit au sens anglais de "concern" signifiant la préoccupation et l'inquiétude. L'idée de connexion se retrouve ici encore, mais dans le domaine affectif. L'idée de fermeture est aussi présente dans le mot si on le décompose: con-cerner ou co-cerner. On y retrouve l'idée d'entourer, d'enfermer.

En Anglais encore, le mot "close" signifie à la fois "fermé" et "proche" donc "en contact privilégié". En Allemand, "connexion" se dit "Anschluss", en utilisant la racine "Schluss" signifiant "clôture". Même en électricité, un circuit est dit fermé lorsque le contact électrique est établi et le courant circule...

Un coup d'œil à la langue chinoise confirme la coexistence de ces deux idées. Le caractère 关 seul a le sens de "fermé", mais il porte également le sens de connexion physique : 关系= "relation, contact", et de relation logique : 有关= "concernant".

Pour aller plus loin, on peut remarquer ces deux expressions parallèles en chinois:

  • 开心: Cœur-ouvert: heureux, se réjouir, plaisanter
  • 关心: Cœur-fermé: Inquiet, soucieux

On est tenté de voir des antonymes entre 开心/关心, ce qui rappellerait la bonne vielle sagesse de Socrate comme quoi le bonheur de l'ataraxie consiste à se détacher de tout. Cependant il doit bien exister un bonheur conciliable avec la compassion, empathie, ou autres connexions avec autrui... Attention donc aux langues qui véhiculent leur philosophie incognito !

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