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Word classification (was: ...)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 14:15

On Tue, 8 Jul 2008 16:04:57 +0200, Lars Finsen wrote:

> Hi, > Here is the classification system I used when I set up my first > substantial word lists in Urianian. There are 17 broad classes that I > modified as I went along to contain roughly the same number of words > and give me a good overview over each class as they grew. The names > of the classes indicate how further subdivision could be made, if > necessary.
The classification I use in my Old Albic thematic dictionary is currently this: 1. General 1.1. States 1.2. Time, Events 1.3. Effort 1.4. Space, Extent 1.5. Weights and Measurees 1.6. Contents 1.7. Shape and Form 1.8. Colour 1.9. Physical action, Movement, Transfer 2. Nature 2.1. The World 2.2. Substances 2.3. Weather 2.4. The Life Cycle 2.5. Plants 2.6. Animals 2.7. Body, Senses, Health 2.8. The Soul 2.9. Food 3. The Human Sphere 3.1. Society 3.2. Morality 3.3. Love and Family 3.4. Politics 3.5. Law 3.6. Nations 3.7. Conflict and War 3.8. Economy 3.9. Craft 3.10. Vehicles 3.11. Utensils 3.12. Houses, urban and rural life 3.13. Science 3.14. Religion 3.15. Art 3.16. Language 3.17. Magic I have modified it several times in the past and perhaps will do so again in the future. On Tue, 8 Jul 2008 16:53:22 -0400, Rick Harrison wrote:
> On the other hand, all categorizing schemes are arbitrary. Pondering the > best category for a concept sometimes seems fun but sometimes seems like a > waste of limited time and energy.
Sure. Any classification is to some degree arbitrary. This, however, is mainly a problem when you are designing a taxonomic language; when it comes to organizing the vocabulary of a language with arbitrary signs, the requirements are less strict, as long as you don't have large gaps in your classification (if in doubt, you can always add a "Miscellaneous" category). On Wed, 9 Jul 2008 01:36:17 +0100, And Rosta wrote:
> Classifications like the ULD's are useful as a way of ensuring that one has > semantic space sufficiently and evenly covered.
Exactly that is the reason why I keep my vocabulary in a thematic rather than an alphabetic dictionary.
> In working on my own conlang I have found that it is very useful to include > argument structure as a criterion. By 'argument structure' I mean what > Lojban calls 'place structure' or 'sumti(-place) structure'. In a language > in which grammatical behaviour mirrors logical properties, members of the > same semantic category behave alike if and only if they have the same > argument structure, and it's these that form natural rather than arbitrary > categories.
What exactly do you mean by "argument structure"? I assume you mean how many arguments a predicate has and which semantic roles (agent, patient, source, goal, ...) they occupy. In my opinion, such formal criteria are not very useful in organizing vocabulary, especially in a language like Old Albic which allows much fluidity in this regard. Of course, it again makes a difference whether you are using your classification merely to sort arbitrary words (as in a thematic dictionary) or to derive the word-shapes from it. In the latter case, it may be useful to encode the argument structure in the shape of the word. (For example, in my yet only very vaporously outlined loglang X-1, the number of arguments a predicate word has is encoded in its length: triliteral words are unary, quadriliteral words are binary, etc.) ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf