Re: favorite aspects of conlanging
|From:||Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>|
|Date:||Monday, July 2, 2001, 15:53|
On Tue, 26 Jun 2001 22:08:50 -0600, Tom Tadfor Little <tom@...> wrote:
>But this got me to wondering--do the rest of you have "favorite" aspects of
>language design, areas where you seem to get all sorts of ideas without
>even trying, and "drudgery" aspects--things that you do to make the
>language presentable, but that you don't actually derive much pleasure
>from? And for those of you who've been at this for years--do those category
>boundaries shift with time?
My favorite aspect of conlanging is the modeling of the evolution of a
language. I like to take a known linguistic system and to lead it
through a series of not improbable changes to an internally consistent
target condition, sometimes very different from the original.
The initial idea of such target point can be about different
structural layers. Sometimes it comes from phonology (and this is
indeed the easiest case); sometimes from syntax and/or its interplay
with morphological categories (and some list members may remember that
one of the first posts of mine here was about developing Latin into an
active-stative lang); but most often it's about morphonology - the
level where sounds meet with morphological techniques, and which I
tend to see as the language's actual stuff that I want to feel with my
To illustrate what I mean, I'd like to cite some examples from
Celvechic, a conlang I'm working on, which represent several
perfectly regular verbs belonging to same conjugation (class).
The forms shown below are meant to be easily (and unequivocally)
analyzable for the imagined native speakers, and are given in the
following order: past tense (1 sg) - passive participle - gerund
('I did' - 'done' - 'doing'):
heletta - me@le:?a - heus?a 'to mock, taunt'
?eno@sta - mennuita - ?eulta 'to slander, calumniate'
?oleulta - meuGle:nu - ?auznu 'to flirt (with)'
veheulta - mailhe:nu - ve@nu 'to forget, neglect'
tono@ta - me@rnuiha - taulha 'to tire, exhaust'
(Of course, I've intentionally chosen such roots where alternations
look most bizarre; in other verbs the relationships between different
forms appear more transparent, e. g.:
loseufta - me@lse:fu - loisfu 'to suck')
Somehow such alternations make me feel that I'm dealing with something
'real', obeying to certain laws of its own rather than just my
You might notice that I haven't mentioned lexification. Since typically
I start from a well attested ancient natlang, this problem is solved
more-less authomatically (in theory; in practice, writing down the
lexica is the most time-consuming part of conlanging anyways). Which
makes me wonder if my current attitude stems from having realized the
absurdity of the task of producing two or three thousands roots
(IMO needed for a naturalistic conlang) from scratch...