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Current documentation outline

From:Adrian Morgan <morg0072@...>
Date:Sunday, September 10, 2000, 7:09
I'll be releasing the current documentation of my conlang in about a
week, but I thought I'd give an outline now:

[page 1]

The documentation begins with the following answer to the question,
"What is the Gzarondan Language?":

   It is a /conlang/ (aka /artlang) - a language that isn't really
   spoken but was invented for the fun of it.

   I have no linguistic training, but there is plenty of well-written
   material available for people who want to invent a language. A
   good conlang should be original yet believable, just like good
   science fiction. The art is to convince the audience that even if
   the fictional grammar /doesn't/ exist, there's no reason why it
   /couldn't/. It helps to appreciate how surprisingly variable human
   languages are, because there are plenty of precedents for exotic
   grammars even in the real world, but in general conlanging is about
   imagination rather than knowledge.

   A /good/ conlang doesn't require much linguistic experience, but an
   /excellent/ conlang certainly does/. My own conlang lacks a natural
   level of redundancy and is also very incomplete. More experienced
   conlangers are welcome to use it as a "seed" for a bigger and
   better creation.

   Many words are borrowed or adapted from those in real languages,
   mainly English, Welsh and Swedish. Dictionaries have proven a
   fertile word source. However, the language makes no attempt to
   borrow words consistently and there is no fictional history
   associated with the language.

The rest of the first page of my documentation overviews numerics and the
alphabet, answering the following questions:

 - Is the counting system similar to English?
 - What are the symbols and words for digits?
 - How are larger numbers formed?
 - Are these numbers nouns or adjectives?
 - Are there both capital and lower case letters?
 - How does the alphabet differ from English?
 - Are there any diacritical marks?
 - What is the order of the alphabet?

[page 2]

The second page covers pronunciation, covering:

 - Why are Greek letters used so strangely?
 - In general, how do I pronounce the vowels?
 - What about exceptions?
 - Which are the easiest consonants to remember?
 - How do I pronounce the other consonants?
 - What about diacritics?

The answer given to the first question is:

   In my handwriting, the first stroke of /every/ English letter
   begins near the top. Lowercase 'd' and 'e' are technically
   exceptions, but there are /no/ letters in which the first stroke
   begins near the base. I find this uniformity pleasing, so I
   considered only the few Greek letters that also have this feature.
   My choice was therefore motivated by aesthetics and not by the
   original function of the letters, the two being mutually exclusive.

[page 3]

The third page deals with phonetic constraints, covering:

 - What tips will help me interpret phonetic constraints?
 - How are phonetic classes defined?
 - What sequences of consonants are illegal ANYWHERE in a word?
 - What else is illegal ANYWHERE in a word?
 - What is the general structure of a syllable?
 - What other constraints are active within syllables?

[page 4]

This page covers stress and general rules about affixes. Questions
answered are:

 - How are most words stressed?
 - What other rules determine stress?
 - How do affixes work?
 - What happens if adding an affix contravenes a phonetic constraint?

[page 5]

This is where the grammar starts. Questions answered are:

 - What is the sentence word order?
 - What are byverbial and inverbial adjectives?
 - How are noun phrases arranged?
 - What about verb phrases?
 - How do conjunctions work?
 - How do relative clauses work?

A few of the most important points:

 * Word order is SVO ordinarily but SOV if the object is an adjective
   (the form of the adjective is modified)
 * Every noun phrase contains an article, a noun, or both. Basic tense
   information is carried by the article of the nominative noun and
   not by the verb as in most languages. Articles and pronouns are the
   same wordgroup; 'he' in 'he came' equals 'the' in 'the man came'.
 * Verbs can carry a more exotic array of tenses (i.e. aspects, etc)
   to compliment the nominative article.

[page 5]

Questions answered are:

 - What distinctions are made in the article?
 - What grammatical genders are there?
 - Are there polite and familiar forms of reference?
 - How does plurality differ from in English?
 - What are the short articles?
 - What are the long articles? [i.e. nominative]
 - How do I exclaim vocatively?

[page 6]

Questions answered are:

 - What are some simple nouns?
 - What are some simple verbs?
 - What role does the verb play in indicating tense?
 - What are some simple adjectives?
 - How are verbs and adjectives negated?
 - How are participles formed?

The current vocabulary of root nouns is (and this is alphabetical):

leader/government, constructiveness, cloth, eye, boy, sea, sword,
drink, girl, mountain peak, fang/sharp tooth, effort/hard work, goat,
morning, farm, afternoon, dog, expert, meeting/gathering, law, meal,
colour, person, butterfly, God, savannah, forest, company, spider,
chimney, lump, house, earth, time, heart, space.

The current vocabulary of root verbs is:

to do without, to split in half (intrans), to speak, to think /
perceive as true, to act compulsively or obsessively, to want, to
live, to go / travel.

The current vocabulary of root adjectives is:

several, distant, careful, sick, little, treacherous / dark,
beautiful, pleasant (of memory or friendship etc), all, some, quiet,
small amount of, depressed, fast, alternative, true, deeply content /

[page 7]

Questions answered:

 - How are byverbial adjectives formed?
 - What other affixes convert within a given wordclass?
 - What other affixes convert between wordclasses?
 - What are some prepositions?
 - What are some conjunctions?

The meanings of some affixes are: whilst enjoying one's self;
initiator or manufacturer of; whilst in grief, pain, shock etc; with
boundless potential to be; permanent group of; without; to use for
intended purpose; full of; to bring about the existence, emergence or
realisation of; coming from; an instinct or deep inclination to
perform, create or be; consistent with principles, criteria or
philosophy of; belonging to; something characterised by a tendency to;
a gathering concerning; system of/for.

[page 8]

This is the final page, answering:

 - How is equivalence expressed?
 - How are passive sentences constructed?
 - How is possession indicated?
 - What is the retropossessive form?
 - How do I ask questions.

web.       | Here and there I like to preserve a few islands of sanity | within the vast sea of absurdity which is my mind.
member/    | After all, you can't survive as an eight foot tall
dragon     | flesh eating dragon if you've got no concept of reality.