I think Tolkien’s phonæsthetic theory was correct, as shown later by studies on phonetic symbolism (albeit a whole less universal and more varied than he imagined). In particular I think his notes on conlanging as an expression of the individual’s inherent language (in «A Secret Vice») hold. I also think synesthesia is involved, and that everybody is a little bit synesthetic.

It follows that I think ppl with stronger forms of synesthesia would make great conlangers.

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(also follows that automated vocabulary generators are bad)

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@nohomosuperior if you accept phonetic symbolism (which I do), it follows that some sounds are more appropriate for some meanings (cf. Berlin-Kay statistics on American native languages and other modern ideophone research).

it follows that a sound generated by a human for a given meaning will intuitively have more fitness (in the Tolkenian aesthetic sense) than one that is generated purely out of phonotactics, without adding meaning into the algorithm.

@melissaboiko
Appropriate objectively, by language, or by speaker? Also do u have any links?
I've never put much stock into phonoaesthetics because it didn't seem useful enough but it'd b sick as hell if I could leverage it into conlanging lol, creating base roots and morphemes is the bane of my existence

@nohomosuperior all of the above; some phonosemantic tendencies are, as far as the data goes at least, universal (e.g. the contradictory tone contour, size/politeness correlation, vowel openness/size correlations); some are language- or language family-specific (e.g. the slithery, slimy, sluggish associations of sl- in English); some are individual aesthetic tendencies.

@nohomosuperior (unless your algorithm does phonosemantic statistics, in which case I want to see it x3)

I should reword that and be less judgemental. My interest in conlangs is 100% on the artlang side purely for aesthetics, so instead of saying a technique is 'bad' I should say 'is less fruitful for what attracts me to conlangs'.

@nohomosuperior but universality is a red herring; the point is that a given individual's linguistic aesthetics will reflect all of basic physics, human species, and this one individual's languages, cultures, position in history.

So if you offshore vocab generation to a purely phonetic algorithm, it's this holistic, personal sound-symbolic fitness that's lost.

(will look up articles later)

@melissaboiko
Yeah shoulda specified universal in known human natlangs lol

@melissaboiko
I use awkwords or gen to test out phonology and orthography, then to generate candidates for roots from which I choose kinda randomly, then derive from there
But I usually get stumped by lexicon bc I'm bad at choice and it means choosing base concepts and chunks of sound to associate them with 😱

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