Operation Infinite Vocabulary
|From:||Danny Wier <dawier@...>|
|Date:||Monday, February 10, 2003, 10:58|
Question: Is there a system for languages, especially IAL's, that facilitates
the expansion of vocabulary using affixation, compounding, even inflection
that's open-ended, with a potentially unlimited vocabulary, while making words
(and phrases) easier to write/pronounce, more regular, and preventing
excessively long words and phrases.
All languages probably do this, but I'm wondering about one with a more
controlled extension system. I'm considering a future conlang project
tentatively called Dragon, which is an extremely agglutinative language, a
phonology inspired by Basque, Dravidian, Australian, Uralic-Yukaghir,
Chukchi-Kamchatkan and Eskimo-Aleut, strict SOV word order, ergative, noun
classes instead of gender, frequent use of verbal nouns, and possibly hundreds
of noun cases.
Dragon was spoken by a group of highly-advanced reptilian species from tens of
millions of years ago: part dinosaur, part alligator/crocodile, with advanced
human-like intelligence, speech and culture (and maybe magical powers), but
mysteriously disappered, leaving not even fossil evidence. They may re-appear in
the future in an apocalyptic-type setting, a result of time travel to the near
future (not so near for them).
I have the phonology already worked out, in fact. Stops occur in many points of
articulation but voice and lack of voice is not phonemic. Syllable structure is
V, CV, VC or CVC, but two consonants together must assimilate to become a
geminated (long) consonant. No word may begin or end with a doubled consonant.
Vowels are either short, long or diphthongal, and word-final vowels must be
The stops: bilabial /p/, dental /t[/, alveolar /t/, retroflex /t./, palatal /c/,
velar /k/, uvular /q/ and glottal /?/.
In common speech, intervocalic non-geminate consonants become homogenic voiced
fricatives: /B/, /D/, /r/, /r./, /j/, /G/, /R/, /h\/.
Nasals appear in all locations as stops: /m/, /n[/, /n/, /n./, /J/, /N/, /N\/,
Laterals are /l/, /l./, /L/ and possibly /5/. There are no rhotics or semivowels
except as lenition of stops (see above).
Vowels are /a/, /a:/, /i/, /i:/, /u/, /u:/, /ai/ and /au/. Short vowels tend to
disappear when final or followed by single consonants in common speech.
In many ways, the language is a type of anti-Tech, with no voiced or glottalized
stop distinction, no affricates, fewer laterals, much longer words, strict word
order, word-initial stress, agglutination rather than inflection, no prosodic
pitch accent, inherent vowel length rather than accidental, and the fact that
Dragons are for the most part evil while Techian Elves are good. The Dragons
seek to re-conquer the earth, enslave the birds and destroy all mammals.