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A Grammar for a Pictographic conlang

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 16, 2008, 20:55
I'm working out the grammar of my pictographic conlang "Pikto". It's very
preliminary, but the basic idea is to keep the number of pictographs to a
reasonable minimum. I'm hoping 400 to 500 unique pictographs will cover a large
lexicon by using compounds.

The basics, from my website:

 Capitol letters in the literal translation indicate symbols used for their
phonetic value to further specify a previous symbol, with a phonetic hint, as
in "flower DF" for "daffodil", or "bird K" for "crow". The hint letters are
standardized, with the shortest hints for the most common words. Thus "bird R"
might be "robin", whereas "bird RV" might be "raven". The symbol for water
might mean "water", or it might mean some generic liquid, especially when
modified with a phonetic hint as in "water P", or "flame water P", which might
stand for "petrol" or "gasoline". There will be one alphabetical symbol for
each of the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet.

Most verbs will be indicated with one of very few verbs followed by a noun,
adjective, or gerund. Thus "play" would be "do game", "sing" would be "make
song", and "sleep" would be "do sleeping". When no tense marker symbol is
present the verb is assumed to be in the present tense, or in the established
tense of the discourse. Thus, in a story which begins "Once upon a time",
unmarked verbs are assumed to be in the past. Tense markers include "will", for
actions soon to take place, "did", for actions already completed, "begin" for
actions beginning to take place in the present ("He is starting to run."), and
"doing" for actions begun in the past but still going on.

When an adjectives follows the word it modifies it is taken to be an ordinary
adjective. When the adjective precedes the word, it is taken to be compounded
with the word to change that word's fundamental meaning. For example, "man
small" means "a man who is small" while, "small man" means "boy". Thus "small
cat small" would be interpreted to mean "small kitten", where "small cat" =
"kitten". The only exception is that when an adjective modifies a proper name
it precedes the "namer dot": "little (dot) edward" rather than "(dot) edward
little". When the adjective is considered to be part of the name, as in Robin
Hood's sidekick Little John, it would be written "(dot) little john". "John"
would be written phonetically as "JN" or "JON" depending whether it was clear
from the context that the name is "John" rather than "Jan", "Joan", or "June".
Later references to "John" in the same context will simply be written as "J".

Many adverbs are translated as "intensely" or "unintensely" to indicate an
intensification or de-intensification of the natural action of the verb. Thus
"run intensely" means "run quickly", "sleep intensely" means "sleep soundly",
and "fall unintensely" means "fall gently".

Reduplication of an adjective intensifies the adjective. Thus "small small" means "tiny",
and "big big" means "huge". Reduplication of a verb indicates repetition of the
action, as in "run run" for "run again".

My web page, under construction, gives translations for 21 sentence so far, as
pictographs (fragz.ttf font required) and as Roman alphabet glosses.

The lexicon so far contains about 70 or 75 words and pictographs.



Rik Roots <rik@...>