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Creating vocabulary with Awkwords

July 27th, 2011

A while ago, I became aware of Awkwords, which lets you generate random words matching a given pattern.

I thought I’d try to use that to create words for Ilatamiutitut, so I had a go at creating patterns that would sound like Inuktitut.

I started by taking all the headwords from Spalding’s Multi-dialectal Outline Dictionary (with an Aivilingmiutaq base) that were nouns and verbs, trying to omit clearly-derived ones. (This was also the reason for only taking lemmata at the beginning of paragraphs, since lemmata inside paragraphs were usually derived from the first one. But this is not always the case; going through and adding more by hand might make for a more balanced “corpus”, at the expense of a lot of additional work, given the size of the dictionary.)

Then I wrote a script to analyse the nouns for things such as the distribution of initials, finals, medial consonant clusters, number of syllables, and the like.

After that, I turned the results into a set of rules for Awkwords and gave the script a spin.

I was fairly satisfied with many of the results; they do look fairly Inuktitut-like, and I even spotted a few of the words I already knew, such as nanuq or sila, amongst the results.

Here’s a run of 16 items I did just now: asanuuq – puqqulumukĊ‚uq – tuamiptamaq – iritiq – paaq – ajijaq – ulit – nuqqi – kivaqiq – aak – mimat – isaaluq – utakpiq – maqsaapi – sirlapatiq – tasaq. What do you think?

Since the dictionary I used a base is based on a phonologically fairly conservative (western) dialect, there are some consonant clusters that you won’t see in more eastern dialects of Inuktitut such as North Baffin or South Baffin, let alone Greenlandic, where consonant clusters such as -pt- tend to get assimilated. (For some details on such assimilation in various dialects, see Section G of Inuktitut Linguistics for Technocrats.)

  1. Jake
    April 26th, 2013 at 01:14 | #1

    Awkwords recently ceased to function. Is there any other similar site?

    • pne
      April 26th, 2013 at 06:29 | #2

      I noticed that a while ago, too – a pity.

      The original awkwords site at http://bprhad.wz.cz/awkwords/ still worked then, but even that has gone, now.

      However, it was possible to download awkwords as a ZIP file (a collection of PHP scripts along with some supporting HTML, CSS, and images) and I appear to have done so a couple of years ago – I could email you the ZIP file if you want.

      Perhaps I’ll even get around to installing it here on conlang.mizinamo.org at some point.

  2. littleblueflower
    May 25th, 2013 at 12:34 | #3

    just wondering: which software do you use for script creation?

  3. pne
    May 25th, 2013 at 12:47 | #4

    @littleblueflower what do you mean? Like for creating a font?

    My conlangs so far have only used existing characters so I haven’t made fonts for those. I did start making a font for someone else (before I ran out of steam) and I used Fontforge for that.

    Or do you mean script as in computer programming? I mostly do my own programming in Perl. Awkwords is in PHP, but that’s not by me.

  4. Austin Blanton
    May 31st, 2013 at 14:53 | #5

    Could you perhaps do a guide on how to take the words that it gives you, and build a language from it? Perhaps, how you pick and choose what to keep, etc. I’d like to be able to create a language for my books.

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