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Re: Basic vocabulary when starting a conlang

From:David Peterson <digitalscream@...>
Date:Saturday, August 31, 2002, 18:54
In a message dated 08/31/02 6:23:46 AM, ask4it@GPUL.ORG writes:

<<I was thinking that there are a few verbs that, because of its
everyday use or significance, should be the first to be "created": to
be, to have, to live, to die, to go, to come.  There should also be a few
basic words, as: man, woman, child, life, death, sky, earth, water,
fire, god. And of course, the basic personal pronouns: I, you,
he/she/it, we, you, they. >>

    Just a note: Be careful with this.  While all languages have ways to
*express* these verbal and nominal ideas, they don't all do so with one word,
or any word at all.  Arabic and Russian, for example, have no verb for "to
be" (in the present tense, at least).  You don't always have separate words
for "to go" and "to come".  Neither Russian nor Arabic, again, has a verb for
"to have" (both express possession with a prepositional phrase).  There can
be many different words for "to live", whether you mean to live at a place,
in a place, be alive, to thrive, etc.  "To die" is pretty standard, but why
not have the basic verb "to be dead", and the verb "to die" a derivation, "to
become dead"?  I've never seen it, but there's no reason why it couldn't
happen.  Man, woman, and child I'd say are pretty basic, but the rest could
be reached with compounds, depending on how you imagine it.  And the
pronouns.  While every language has first and second person pronouns,
according to some survey I'm forgetting (and there could be exceptions; why
not?), many don't have third person pronouns, and some not plural pronouns.
And then some have even more, with dual and trial pronouns, and
distinguishing gender for second person, first person, and then with
inclusive exclusive distinctions you get more...
    So, the moral is thus: Translates concepts, not words.  And that's my
tidbit for the day. :)


"fawiT, Gug&g, tSagZil-a-Gariz, wAj min DidZejsat wazid..."
"Soft, driven, slow and mad, like some new language..."
                    -Jim Morrison


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
bnathyuw <bnathyuw@...>