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Re: Basic vocabulary when starting a conlang

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Saturday, August 31, 2002, 18:04
On Sat, Aug 31, 2002 at 07:48:18PM +0200, Philip Newton wrote:
> On 31 Aug 02, at 15:23, Roberto Suarez Soto wrote: > > > What do you think is the basic vocabulary to start a conlang? > > > > 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. > > Careful there. Some of those high-frequency verbs are used in special > ways in English and related languages which you may or may not wish to > duplicate. For example, there are a number of languages which need no > copula (so "I doctor" means "I *am* a doctor"), so "to be" is not > necessarily universal. Also, adjectives need not necessarily be > attached to a noun by a verb ("The tree *is* green"); they could be > verbs themselves (as in Japanese), or one could use a case construction as in > Ebisedian. (I imagine that languages which have no noun copula do the same > thing with adjectives; certainly Russian does -- "the tree green".)
In Malay (and Indonesian, I believe), that is precisely what you do: pokok itu merah. tree that red "That tree is red." (Note that _itu_ is a demonstrative; in Malay, demonstratives come *after* the noun.) Interestingly, Malay *does* have a copula _ialah_. Just that it's not used in such contexts. So the distinction is finer than just either having a copula or not having a copula.
> Also "to have" -- the meaning as a full verb is possession, which some > languages render by constructions such as "X is on me" or "X is to me" rather > than "I have X".
[snip] Ebisedian uses the equivalent of "X is to me". Of course, with Ebisedian noun cases it is much more compact: "X(cvy) me(rcp)". T -- Written on the window of a clothing store: No shirt, no shoes, no service.