Introducing: Honskhardn (and Phonetics)

So apparently a few people were actually interested in this constructed language I’m working on this month.

Which is kinda cool but also a little frustrating, since this particular language is vested in a lot of prior work I’ve done — which is to say, there’s a lot inform people about before getting to the language itself.

So let’s get started.

So a few months back, I finalized a grammar for a constructed language I’d been working on for some time, called Pretistelen (< link to the Google doc). Pretistelen is meant to be a large piece of background worldbuilding for a set of novels I’ve been working on (incidentally, the same world that the Biocrystal system will be used in).

However, Pretistelen itself as described in the grammer I wrote is spoken 800 years before the events of the novel. So I’ve also been working on a set of daughter languages used in the novel’s temporal setting. In particular, four I’ve determined to be relevant to the story (out of 10+ I could have easily gone for, and six that I’d originally planned for).

The language I’m working on this month, Hónskhardn, is one of the less relevant of the four, and the least complicated, historically and culturally; so it felt like the best daughter language to start on, to sort of experiment with what I could do with these languages. To try to find the happy medium between changing too much and changing not enough.

So we’ll see how that works out.

Let’s begin with the phonetics.

I’ve had the phonology of this language more or less set in stone for years; the real trick for them, however, is proving to be the orthography — that is, how to represent all those sounds without resorting to the IPA. I think I’ve found a solution for Hónskhardn, at least, but I’m not entirely satisfied with it still.

Hónskhardn has 29 consonants and 13 vowels. Not including allophones, length contrasts, and diphthongs. But we’ll still list most of those.

a /ɑ/ This is the “ah” at the back of the throat, as in English “father” or “pardon”.
á /ɑ:/ An accent mark indicates that a vowel is long. As in English “wad” or “sod”.
ae /æ/ This is the “ah” at the front of the mouth, as in English “bat” or “pass”. NEVER pronounce this as in “rate” or “Caesar”.
aé /æ:/ As in English “pad” or “bad”.
b /b/
d /d/
dh /ð/ Soft “th” sound, as in “this” and “those”.
dl /dɮ/ A voiced lateral affricate. Basically take “lh” from below and add it to a “d”.
dz /dz/
e /e/ This always has an “ey” sound, as in the word “freight”.
e /ɛ/ The “eh” in “get” or “wreck”. Yes, I know it’s weird to have <e> representing two different sounds. This is the main problem I’ve been facing.
é /e:/
f /ɸ/ Basically just the “f” sound, but more forward in the mouth.
g /g/ Always pronounced hard, like “get” or “gain”. NEVER as in “gin” or “gyro”.
gh /ɣ/ A non-English sound produced by starting to produce a “g” and then releasing a continuous stream of air from the throat. Or, if you prefer, simultaneously pronouncing “g” and “h”.
h /h/
i /ɪ/ The “ih” in “gin” or “bit”.
í /i:/ The “ee” sound in “machine”. NEVER as in “bite”.
j /j/ Pronounced as in German; that is, it’s always the consonantal “y” sound.
j /ɥ/ Pronounced by producing the consonantal “y” sound but with rounded lips. Unlike <e> and <o>, I’m not concerned about this one using the same letter as /j/, since I’ve only had it appear in a couple of words total.
k /k/
kh /x/ As in the German “ch”. Produced by pronoucing “k” with a continuous stream of air from the throat. I’d like to use <x> to represent this, but I feel readers will very easily misinterpret it as “ks” instead.
l /l/ Always pronounced as light (“light”, “list”), never as dark (“poll”, “hill”), even at the end of syllables. For best results, make sure your tongue is touching your top front teeth when pronouncing this.
lh /ɬ/ Pronounced more or less by producing the “l” and “h” simultaneously. The equivalent of the Welsh “ll” sound.
ll /ʟ/ Basicaly the dark “l” sound, but darker. Produce by pronouncing an “l” but with the tongue in the position for producing a “k” or “g”.
m /m/
n /n/
ng /ŋ/ The “ng” sound from “sing” or “rang”. Not that this sound may occur at the beginning of syllables as well as at the end.
o /o/ Always as in “code” or “road”.
o /ɔ/ As in English “for” or “core”. Another problematic letter being used for an extra sound.
ó /o:/
oe /ø/ Yet another non-English sound, most similar to the German “ö”. Produced by pronoucning “ey” and then simultaneously rounding the lips.
oé /ø:/
p /p/
r /r/ Always trilled, NEVER as in the English “r” or the French/German “r”.
s /s/
t /t/
th /θ/ The hard “th” sound, as in “thin” and “thimble.”
tl /tɬ/ Produced by pronouncing the “lh” sound after a “t”.
ts /ts/ Pronounced in full, as in German “z”; NEVER as English speakers pronounce “tsumani”.
u /ʊ/ The sound in “good” and “should”.
ú /u:/ The “oo” in “uber” or “blue”. NEVER with the “y” sound in front of it, as in “cute” or “huge”.
v /β/ See note on “f”.
w /w/
y /ʏ/ A non-English sound, pronounced like the German “ü”. Basically, pronounced as in “ih”, but with the lips rounded.
ý /y:/ Pronounced as in “ee” but with the lips rounded.
z /z/

Additionally, Hónskhardn has five diphthongs and four syllabic consonants.

Diphthongs: ai (“aye”), au (“cow”), ei (“hey”), oi (“toy”), and ou (“tow”).

Syllabics: m, n, ng, r. These only appear at the end of words, in more or less the same fashion as in English.

The stress is pretty simple: it always falls on the last syllable, unless that syllable is a syllabic consonant; then it falls on the second-to-last syllable.

So the name of the language is pronounced hon-SKHAR-dun. (hone-SCAR-dun, but with the “c” replaced with a velar fricative?)

My main concern is with “o” and “e”, since I feel the orthography should really distinguish between /o/ and /ɔ/, and between /e/ and /ɛ/. But I’m not sure how to do that without having to get into some really crazy digraphs or using more diacritics.

Thoughts? I guess?


Wonder Woman Analysis

So this was a film.

It was a good film. I’d watch it again, probably. I’d probably suggest you watch it. It wasn’t bad, that’s for sure. I guess I kinda have mixed feelings about it.

I don’t know. Maybe it was too hyped for me, or I just didn’t notice all the really good parts. I did have quite a bit of criticism for the film, which I’ll get to (a lot of it deals with spoilers, but I’ll put up a tag when we get to that part). I really wanted to like this film, at least.

First, this was clearly made for 3D. I saw it in 2D, so I got a bunch of shots that were like “Isn’t this so awesome in three dimensions? Here, we’ll slow down the action for a shot so you can appreciate how awesome the shot is in three dimensions.” A lot of the action (particularly the action regarding Wonder Woman) felt very CG, a little in the uncanny valley.

Overall the plot felt a little cliche, very much like we’ve been here before. I kinda get this, we wanna start at the beginning when a new superhero shows up, but eventually doing a superhero origin story for every superhero gets a little tiring. (I’m looking forward to Spider-man: Homecoming, because that one promises to not be an origin story.) Diana / Wonder Woman herself had character development that oscillated from decent and fun to awkward and cliche, ultimately, unfortunately, ending on the latter.

The characters were a lot of fun, particularly Steve Taylor’s band of misfits (cause of course they’re a band of misfits, but hey, I loved them). The villains were also good, mostly. Most of the Amazons were cool too, though I have some issues with Hippolyta (Diana’s mother).

***Spoilers Begin***


I was rather confused with what is supposed to have happened when, especially after the revelations at the end. So in the past, at some point, the gods fought one another, which ended in Ares being cast out and Zeus’s death/the conception of Diana. This is all implied to have happened at some point in the distant past, but by 1918 she’s only physically in her twenties (granted, none of the Amazons seem to age much past beyond that point either — which probably comes with their immortality thing).

So that seems to imply that Diana’s childhood lasted for thousands of years, which seems a little silly. Though I suppose the alternative is that the time between the official beginning training with Antiope and the big practice fight right before Steve shows up takes the vast majority of those millennia. That being said, Diana seems way too naive for someone presumably several thousand years old.

The other possibility is that Diana really is only about in her twenties or thirties, but then that would mean that the war of the gods only happened about 20-30 years ago, so in the 1890’s. Which doesn’t seem very likely, given Ares’s role as warbringer. And the whole Greek aesthetic of the gods and the Amazons.


I had quite a few issues with this character. On the one hand, she seemed way overprotective of Diana; on the other hand, she was still permitting Diana to learn to fight and to do what she felt she needed to do.

But Hippolyta knew Diana was the god-killer, which makes her reluctance to get her daughter involved in training rather strange. More strange, however, would be the silence of the other Amazons at Hippolyta’s reluctance, since surely they would also know Diana’s origin and purpose. Antiope, at least, seems to be heavily pushing toward Diana’s training, but the others seem content to just follow Hippolyta’s lead.

I mean, I get that Hippolyta would be super wishy-washy on this: even if Diana is the god-killer, Diana’s also her daughter, and any parent wants to make sure their child is safe. So Hippolyta is trying to balance her duty as guardian of the Amazons (and Earth) and her duty as mother. But I guess I feel this internal debate could have been shown better. Perhaps if less focus had been on Diana at the beginning, but I don’t know how you’d balance all that.

I mean, you have ominous comments (which there were plenty of), but none of them hinted at this part of Diana’s nature.


Ohmigosh Ares.

I have to admit, I did not see that coming. And yet it was pretty brilliant: after all, we know the horrible armistice and the Treaty of Versailles basically directly lead to World War 2, which was even more horrible than the first World War. Though it still seems a little small-minded of him (indeed, for all his talk of bringing humanity to its destruction, Ares doesn’t seem to have really done that much). Perhaps the implication, though, is that WW2 would have been even worse with Ares’s influence.

I really liked Ares, particularly him talking about humanity’s faults. His initial arguments were pretty cool, but then they kinda devolved into “Weak weak weak!” which changed him from a villain I liked to super cartoony.

Diana’s retort “But love!” was also super cartoony, though. I really wanted to see them engage in actual debate, not this really bad cartoony stuff. I guess I wanted something more like this:

Diana: “But love!”

Ares: “Just a device to perpetuate their destruction across the world.”

D: “But dancing! And music!”

A: “Bonding exercises to convince themselves that their lives have any kind of good effect.”

And so on. Cause Ares at least seems to have his argument far better put together than Diana (though she has naive stubbornness on her side).

Linguistics and Isolationism

So as previously mentioned, the chronology of the Amazons seems a little unclear. Diana claims to speak hundreds of languages (okay, given, since she’s lived presumably a very long time), but among them modern Spanish and English.

Okay, but how does she know modern languages when she lives on an isolationist island hidden from the world?

I had the same issue with Atlantis: The Lost Empire, that after a few examples of speech, suddenly the Atlanteans are able to speak fluent English. Like, no, linguistics don’t work that way. I mean, you can get a good idea of how a language works from a small sample, but it’d have to be a very specific sample — not just any sample will do.

Does this mean there’s a squad of Amazons that keep tabs on the rest of the world? But as an isolationist culture, why would they find it necessary to learn so many languages? Or keep tabs on the world? (Perhaps to keep a watch for Ares?) But even then, why would they teach Diana so many languages? Surely she doesn’t need that many for fighting Ares? Unless Hippolyta and Antiope were expecting her to journey out into the world eventually. Or it was part of the standard education.

Further complicating this is that Diana’s read classical Greek texts, but doesn’t seem to have read anything more recent.

And then despite knowing modern languages, the Amazons don’t seem to have upgraded ever to modern weapons. Like, you know, guns. I mean, granted, they have crazy fighting skills and bullet-stopping armor (probably magic), but that doesn’t suddenly make guns obsolete or less useful than their bows and swords.

Anyway, those were my thoughts. Responses, things I missed?