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Categorical (was Re: Typologic survey, part I)

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Sunday, January 28, 2001, 3:49
Yoon Ha Lee wrote:
> Dumb question: what exactly is meant by "categorical vocabulary"?
A conlang like Ro, where the form of the word is determined by its meaning. Umm, that's not very clear, is it? :-) In Ro, the first letter was determined by a broad category. I can't remember details, so I'm just making up details. Say, D- means "human", then -e- might mean "adult female", -a- "adult male", -o- "male female child", -u- "male child", so that words having to do with women would start with de-, men would be da-, and so on. The third letter would be determined by a further subcategorization of the "woman" category, and so on. Thus, words with similar meaning look similar ... a major flaw, IMO. Words with very different meanings can safely be similar or even identical (the two meanings of "bat" can easily be distinguished by context), while words with similar meanings should be different ... imagine the problems that could arise if you misheard in a chemistry classroom, say, "kaladante" meaning nitrogen as "kaladanti" meaning oxygen! :-) -- Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon A nation without a language is a nation without a heart - Welsh proverb ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTaylor42