Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Taxonomic Vocabulary

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Friday, September 1, 2006, 16:02
On 8/31/06, Tasci <conlang@...> wrote:

> On Thu, 31 Aug 2006 15:23:56 -0700 > "H. S. Teoh" <hsteoh@...> wrote:
> > You're assuming that roots must necessarily be complete general. > > How about my idea to make the roots complete specific, and generalizing from > there? That's got problems of its own, but it might be something to consider > during the designing of the real vocabulary.
My gzb has both specifier and generalizer suffixes, for deriving a word for a specific kind of something and for a general class something belongs to. But it isn't a taxonomic language; most derivation is by typical head-modifier compounding, and special suffixes like these are used rarely compared to those with a more specific meaning.
> > > 1) Frequency of usage is more important than beauty of internal > > structure. You should cater to the fact that the most frequently used > > words should be most economical, even if the concepts themselves are > > very complicated and require a lot of specification in a taxonomic > > system. > > Perhaps it would be interesting to try a vocabulary that starts with the most > frequent words, and then has specifiers for related words, much in the way > our brain works by taking familiar concepts and following connections to > related concepts.
That might work, but again you would have the problem of words that are liable to occur in the same context sounding fairly similar. There are various sources for lists of the most frequently used words in various natural and constructed languages; you might refer to them to figure out what the most frequently referred-to concepts are likely to be.
> > 2) Words that refer to similar things in the same context preferably > > should be as different as possible.
> the same context though. Where does >the same context stop and the different words start? >I'm proposing to do it at the syllable level, though >that might not be workable. I think ultimately what
You could think of it in terms of distributional categories. If you think of few typical sentences using a given word, e.g. "see", The dog sees the cat. Can you see that owl over yonder? I didn't see it yet. and then blank out the given word, The dog ____ the cat. Can you ____ that owl over yonder? I didn't ____ it yet. and think of various other words that could easily occur in the same contexts -- I would venture to say those words (the class of transitive verbs, more or less) should be as phonetically distinct from each other as possible. A while ago there were a couple of threads about how to determine what is sufficient phonetic distance between words, which you might find helpful. See the archives for "Words with built-in error correction" early December 2005 and "Phonologically redundant vocabulary" and "Iterative conlang design with corpus analysis, Or, Build one to throw away" in mid-April 2006, and my essay: -- Jim Henry