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Re: Categorical (was Re: Typologic survey, part I)

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Sunday, January 28, 2001, 15:39
On Sat, 27 Jan 2001, Nik Taylor wrote:

> 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! :-)
Funkiness. :-p I guess it could be fun to play with, but it's a bit too restrictive for my personal tastes. I *like* quirky word-shapes, and ambiguity is fun. (What is life without the ability to make bad puns in a conlang? <G>) Thanks for the explanation! Cheers, YHL