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Conlang beginnings (was Re: GROUPLANG: cases (was: noun and verb roots))

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Sunday, October 18, 1998, 2:07
Herman Miller wrote:
> Hmm... That brings up an interesting question. How do other conlangers > build their languages? I've always done it by starting with short phrases > and building up from there. I figure out how a language says "bats fly" or > "the cat saw the mouse" or "the moon is made of green cheese" before > working up to more complex sentences. If I don't have quite the right noun > case or verb aspect for what I want to express, I'll add, rearrange, or > expand others to fit.
I start out with phonemes. Do I want a lot? Few? Should I have uvular sounds? Etc. Then, I go on to some basic morphology (cases, if any, some verb forms), and a few basic words. Then, I experiment around with some sentences like "He hit his brother", or "I fell", simple transitive and intransitive sentences. Verbs always take the longest, since I'm never sure exactly what I want verbs to inflect for until I've worked on it for some time. Nouns are occasionally changed too. As I experiment around, I work out the syntax I want. However, I've recently started a new project where that doesn't work. I'm working on an isolating language, so I have to start "backwards" from my usual system - I need to start with syntax, since there will be little or no derivation and no inflections. -- "It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father was hanged." - Irish proverb ICQ: 18656696 AOL: NikTailor