Saturday, February 26, 2011

Verb Tenses, Accentuation, &c.

I think one of the things that I'm most concerned about w/r/t learning Solresol is verb tenses. They're expressed by adding either Dodo, Rere, Mimi, &c. (Typically denoted in writing as DO or RE instead of dodo or rere) before a verb, which is simple enough as far as conjugation goes - but the fact remains that many of the forms are utterly foreign to me (imperfect indicative? pluperfect subjunctive?). I suppose I'll just have to brush up on my grammar. I know some from Spanish (which I have a basic decent grasp on. It helped me learn more on imperfect vs. preterite &c), but I'll still have to learn quite a bit. Many different verb tenses are expressed by each of the 7 words, which is probably more helpful than it is confusing - it'll at least increase my chances of being right.

There's also accentuation, which is quite a bit easier than the various verb tenses. I think it's just stuff that takes getting used to, and reading Gajewski's book more carefully.
From what I gather (from Sudre and Gajewski) -

  • To indicate the feminine, one puts a horizontal line above the last syllable - this isn't a stress accent; it's pronounced by prolonging the vowel of the syllable "as if it were double" (Do-o, So-ol, Fa-a, &c)
  • To form the plural, one places an acute accent on the final consonant. This is also not a stress, one pronounces it by prolonging the consonant "as if it were double". (lla, ssi, &c. (no advice is given on how to prolong the sound of a 'd'. Just one of the awkward things with Solresol again I guess))
  • To indicate various parts of speech (noun, adjective, adverb, person doing something) one writes a horizontal line above the syllable in question (I assume above the vowel). This is a stress accent, as far as I can tell. Gajewski said to prolong it as if it were double, but I could see that causing confusion when also writing in a plural. Sudre, however, said it would suffice to rinforzando the syllable - a musical term meaning a sudden emphasis.
  • If a word is preceded by a word such as 'this', 'that', 'the', or really anything that introduces it, the accents and marks go on that descriptive word, and the other word is 'perfectly understood'.

I feel like that clears things up for me, personally; I had to write it down to really understand the differences.

While I'm on the topic of verbs, I dug up a list of what I deemed the most useful verbs. These should be the first verbs that one should learn in this language, in my opinion:

Faremi - to be
Silami - to dislike, hate
Famisol - to possess, to have (also as an auxiliary verb)
Remila - to give
Sollasire - to know (a fact)
Fasolla - to do, to bring about
Farefa - to go
Domilado - to say, to speak
Dosolre - to eat [EDIT - This is Gajewski's definition. According to Sudre, Dosolre means "Believe", so that's how I'm using it.]

I believe that a verb with no 'tense' word before it (dodo, rere, mimi, &c.) is interpreted as either the simple present tense or the infinitive, depending on the context.
I'll be working on memorizing these words and the two letter words that I still don't know -

(Also, it's worth mentioning that the word order in Solresol is subject-verb-object and noun-adjective. (courtesy of ))

I would say goodbye in Solresol, but I'm unsure how. (large lexical gap there, in my opinion. Perhaps I will discover it later)
Dore milasi dom´i!
(my attempt at putting an accent on a consonant - perhaps I'll just use an apostrophe henceforth.)

Friday, February 25, 2011


Solresol (Langue Musicale Universelle) is a language created by François Sudre in the mid-nineteenth century. It is an "a priori" language, meaning that it's vocabulary is not based on any existing languages - Solresol is actually based on the musical scale.

Every word in Solresol is composed from only seven syllables (the musical scale) - Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, and Si. In the current musical scale, "So" is used instead of "Sol", and "Ti" in lieu of "Si" - at the time that Solresol was created, the latter were used, so it is appropriate to continue their use when using Solresol.
I discovered Solresol around a year ago, and I recently decided to explore it deeper. This blog is my way of organizing my thoughts and presenting my ideas and input to the (virtually nonexistant [EDIT - not anymore! Check more recent posts]) online Solresol community (if they happen to find me... perhaps I shall need to find them).

There is actually very little information around on Solresol, and much of it (as far as I'm aware) has only turned up recently at the hard work of dedicated people.
[EDIT - This next paragraph is also not true anymore]
The primary source that I will use is Boleslas Gajewski's grammar of Solresol, published in 1902 (after Sudre had died). I am using this because: 1. It seems to be the most prevalent online source for most other people that are using Solresol; 2. It is the most accessible to me (an English speaker); and 3. I don't believe that Gajewski would have intentionally changed major facets of the language, so any discrepancies I am assuming are changes that Sudre made but which we do not have in publication (most of Sudre's work, as far as I know, is missing).
This work is available at these links (I provide several in the off chance that some of them stop working (as far as I can tell they are all the same)) :

The second source I will be using is Sudre's book on Solresol, Langue Musicale Universelle [EDIT - again, not true anymore. This is really my main (only) source for vocabulary now]. I am using this second for many of the reasons provided above - primarily because it is less accessible. It only appeared online relatively recently (sometime in late 2009), and it is A. in French (which, alas, I do not speak); B. In a PDF format that doesn't allow one to search for words; C. The dictionary does not spell out words, it simply provides a picture of a musical staff with the notes on it, rendering it nigh impossible to read and reference; and D. it's just really long and the scanned pages are rather difficult to read. So basically it's just really inconvenient.  - However! It does contain some valuable information that I can decipher with motivation and the help of Google Translate, so it is an indispensible reference. The problem is that it is sometimes contradictory to Gajewski, so I had to create an order of priority, and Gajewski was just so much easier and more prevalent. 
The PDF book can be found here:

There are also several dictionaries and references which are definitely worth linking to and which I will certainly use:
(Note in the above the use of "Ti" instead of "Si" - I will of course use the latter, but it's worth mentioning that this dictionary is slightly less practical)
(The weakness in the above is that it is in English alphabetical order, not Solresol alphabetical order)
(This is a site on the number system)
(The above is a flashcard group that I created to help with learning Solresol - it is in progress, but I would encourage anyone interested to check it out; vocabulary in this language can be hard to process, and the flashcards certainly help. (note also that there is a checkbox to ignore stuff in parentheses - they are there to help the learner; it is unreasonable to have to type it all))
(The above is helpful information on the various methods of expressing Solresol, including the shortahand)

Personally, I feel that from what I know of Solresol, it is an awkward language to speak - there are rules of emphasis that are difficult to grasp and employ (questions that arise include, "How do I not put stress on any of the syllables??"), and the repitition tends to make it run together. It's not impossible to do, but it seems more inconvenient (also, the chances of meeting someone who understands (or even knows about it) are very slim). For those reasons I feel that Solresol should be, primarily, a written language. It is one opinion, of course, but it makes sense. There is a shorthand that can be used to write it which makes it look less repetitive, and it is easy to mark accents while writing. I am learning Solresol for mostly personal reasons; I see it as more of a "secret code" with which I can write things to myself without others understanding than as a language with which I will frequently communicate with others. I am, of course, open to using it as a communication tool, but I feel that it is so obscure that such incidences (even on the internet) will be uncommon. [EDIT - actually, it turns out communication might be easier than I though :) ]

Solresol is unique in its ability to be expressed through a large variety of means - spoken words, music (both written and played), colors (red through indigo and violet (seven total)), numbers, written words (and abbreviations), and the written shorthand. I admire this versatility, and it is one of the things that attracted me. It seems the most useful language if one were to frequently need to communicate in secret code (which I secretly wish I did). Solresol just offers a unique opportunity to think about language in a different way, and I'd like to delve in deeper.

So there it is. My reason for creating this blog is just to express my ideas more clearly to a hopefully not too nonexistant audience, but at least to myself. I also realize that there are certainly some words and/or phrases that are just missing in Solresol, and need to be created. I plan on creating some for my use and (hopefully) for others as well, which can't happen if I don't put it on the internet somewhere.

Well that's all -
Bye :)