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Language

Here we give the theory behind our language. Here we selected the most usefull parts from the book. For any sources, please also take a look at the book. If you are looking to learn the language, please also visit Learn and Practice.

Phonology

Because not every language has the same set of phonemes nor the same number of phonemes, we have decided that nine distinctive categories should be made. The phonemes that belong to each respective category are allophones in our language. The categories in this were chosen according to mutual intelligibility, proximity according to the consonantal chart of the International Phonetic Alphabet, and manner of articulation. Furthermore, consideration has been given to the frequency of each phoneme and its subsequent category.Every category contains a phoneme that has a high rate of frequency in languages worldwide.
In order to retrieve theinformation regarding salience of the phonemes, the UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database (UPSID) and the Phonetics Information Base and Lexicon (PHOIBLE) were used. These databases document the frequency of every existing phoneme. The categories are as follows:

The first category contains the (bi-)labial plosives [b, p]. The bilabial plosives are found in 98.89% of all languages worldwide according to UPSID.
The second category consists of the coronal plosives, i.e., the dental, dento-alveolar, alveolar, and retroflex plosives, [t, d, ú, ã]. The coronal plosives are found in almost every language, however, no exact percentage is given regarding its frequency.
The third category contains the dorsal plosives and dorsal fricatives [k, g, q, å] and [x, G, X, K]. The dorsal plosives and fricatives are found in 99.30% of all languages worldwide according to PHOIBLE and UPSID.
The fourth category consists solely of the bilabial and labiodental nasal [m, M]. According to UPSID, PHOIBLE, and Maddieson(2013a), the bilabial nasal is the phoneme with the highest degree of frequency worldwide, with over 96% of all languages containing it.
The fifth category consists of the coronal and dorsal nasals [n, ï, ñ, ŋ, ð]. No exact percentage is known of the frequency of the non-bilabial nasals, however PHOIBLE states that over 80% of all languages contain a phoneme of this category.
The sixth category is what is called the ‘liquid’ consonants. All trills, laterals, and lateral approximants, as well as the coronal and dorsal flaps and taps [r, ö, R, ó, ì, Ð, ô, õ, l, í, λ, Ï, î, Õ] belong to this category. This class is considerable in size, but carefully chosen. Many languages contain one of these consonants, and differing phonemes are usually considered allophones if a differing phoneme is used, as is the case with /r/ and /l/ in Japanese and Korean (Ladefoged & Maddieson, 1996;Maddieson, 2013b; Takgi & Mann, 1995). No exact percentage is given for the frequency of these liquids.
To the seventh category belong the labial fricatives and labial approximants [�, F, B, f, v, T, ð, V, û, w]. These phonemes are found in 84.49% of languages worldwide. according to PHOIBLE and UPSID.
The eight category are the coronal sibilant fricatives [s, z, S, Z, ù, ü, C, ý, Ê]. According to UPSID, these phonemes are found in 88.03% of languages worldwide.
The ninth category consists of the palatal consonants [ç, J, j], which according to UPSID and PHOIBLE are found in 90% of all languages. A tenth quasi-category was made for glottal and pharyngeal consonants; however, we have decided to give these phonemes no meaning.
Atlan also makes use of the glottal stop [P]. However this sound is not notated in its orthography. Rather, it functions to differentiate two of the same vowels when placed next to one another. For example, ‘KA.AK’ could be confused with ‘KAK’ if there is no pronounced distinction between the two syllables, therefore the former should be pronounced as ‘KAPAK’.

For our language, five categories of vowels were made. As with the consonants, these are based on the salience of the vowels and its frequency in languages worldwide. The data regarding this is based on the same tools as for consonants; UPSID and PHOIBLE. Three of these categories were easily made because most languages contain this respective vowel. These are, from high to low frequency, [i, u, a], with respectively 92, 88, and 86% occurrence in languages worldwide. For the two remaining categories, a substantial lower frequency is noted for [e, o], with respectively 61 and 60% of the languages worldwide containing the vowel according to UPSID and PHOIBLE. These five categories were chosen because these five vowels are found in every language, and the frequency of the vowels [e, o] were found in roughly the same percentages in language families worldwide, with the exception of (some) Australian languages (Butcher, 2018; Moran & McCloy, 2019). Another extra vowel is used in our constructed language, namely the schwa [ə], but this vowel is not notated. Its function is to differentiate two of the same consonants that occur next to one another, similar to the use of the glottal stop. For example, in spoken Atlan, the difference between ‘AK.KA’ would be barely distinguishable from ‘A.KA’, therefore the former would be pronounced ‘AKəKA’ to retain the distinction.

Lexicon

To find the translations of different words, please visit the vocabulary page



Atlan’s lexicon is composed by adding together different semantic atoms (see: oligosynthesis). Meaning is specified by following the principle of a “semantic lens” which “zooms in” with every atom that is added, reducing the possible meanings of a word to a more defined meaning. The order in which atoms are added is structured hierarchically. The first atom specifies the most basic classification of the intended word, to which other atoms are appended which incrementally specify the exact definition. Two combinations of the same atoms that are ordered in different ways (e.g. AB and BA) will thus have different definitions. For example:

Bird + house = a pet bird (a bird pertaining to the domestic)

House + bird = a bird’s nest (the house of a bird)

Morphosyntactic atoms can be recognised by the fact that they contain one one consonant and syllable (not CVC). These are always put in front of the main semantic atom, again following the principle of hierarchy, and taking into account the scope of each atom. Any atom only determines the scope of the atoms that come after it, not the ones that come before it. For example: Predicate + not + life = (to be) inanimate Not + predicate + life = not (to be) alive
Finally, the plural marker comes at the very end of a word. The general order for compound words it thus:

morphosyntactic markers - main semantic root - specifying semantic atoms – plural

Because of their sheer quantity and diversity, words for specific human artifacts can sometimes be more challenging to synthesize. Phonetically approximated loanwords can be employed when referring to specific cultural artefacts or concepts (see chapter 3.7), marked b uage.
Expletives, better known as swear words, can be made by adding the prefix ´O´ to mark the exclamatory nature, followed by a literal translation of the word, which will thus be culture dependent (e.g.: ´shit´ = O.FES.TOJ)