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building from primitives

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Thursday, November 29, 2007, 12:06

Jörg Rhiemeier writes:
> The problem I see with such schemes is that the world is way too > complex. How do you say 'spaghetti' or 'kimono', or 'quantum > chromodynamics' or 'morphosyntactic aligment', in an oligosynthetic > conlang?
Easily done: you lexicalise a compound or derivation (with a specilised or even slightly adjusted meaning). Start with translating those loans -- this makes them easy to grasp in English for a start. Then try to find a mapping to not too many lexemes in your conlang and lexicalise the result. Done. If you allow portemanteaus, you can further shorted long words. One mis-conception of Toki Pona that is often spread and repeated for some reason is that it has only 118 words. It only has 118 roots plus a lexicon of compounds. Look at Sonjas page -- both are given there, the lexicon being quite small yet, but the idea is quite clear and I hear the community has more words they mostly agree on. If there wasn't another thing about Toki Pona, namely that the creator does not *want* it to be used for, say, scientific conversation, then you could very probably make it an all-purpose language. Well, ok, you might want to think about whether the selected 118 roots are a good choice to start with for an all purpose lang, but the mere number is not a problem. Some natural polysynthetic languages do not have that many more roots (e.g. Kalaallisut, Náhuatl or Blackfoot IIRC), although for a direct comparison I suppose they do have too many.
> In
Ach, I don't want to go into an auxlang discussion. I will stay focussed on discussing the design of a speakable conlang regardless of advocacy. **Henrik