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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 fingers. 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 imagination... 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... Basilius