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"Useful languages"

From:Karapcik, Mike <karapcik@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 12, 2002, 23:20
        I'll throw a penny into this pot....

| -----Original Message-----
| From: Florian Rivoal [mailto:florian.rivoal@ENS.INSA-RENNES.FR]
| Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2002 4:54 PM
| Subject: "Useful languages"
| Hi every one
| When it comes to conlanguing, I think it is very useful to
| have a large knowledge about natlangs. It would like to know
| what language you think is useful to know. Not if it is
| spoken by many people or any thing like this. I mean Languages
| that are exotic enough to make you think about features that do
| not exist in your mother language, and that could be useful for
| conlaging. I will start with my own list of languages I know,
| and what I like of them.
| Florian
| *Japanese for :

        I strongly agree. I had two semesters of Japanese in college, and
I'll be re-taking it, and continuing up to level 4, so I can apply for a
master's in linguistics.
        Japanese is just strange. Anything "commonly understood" by all
participants is simply dropped. A statement can be changed to a negation,
question, emphatic statement, or rhetorical question if the person is
showing a good or bad reaction.
        The verbs are also conjugated by time instead of person/number, with
variations for politeness. Also, the tense times usually have at least two
close meanings (-des/-mas technically means "have recently done" or "do
often", but is usually used as a simple present tense).
        Also, in general, in the polite form, it's basically considered rude
for any of your utterances to have actual content. Those who have studied
Japanese get this (half) joke.

        Let's see, I'll also throw in:

        You "conjugate" verbs by what causes ("triggers") the verb. It is
often, but may not be the "subject" in the Western sense, and the agent may
be considered irrelevant. The trigger could be the Object, Indirect Object,
Beneficiary, Location, or a few other obscure triggers.

        Two reasons. First, it shows that you can have a very rich,
flexible, and useful language with a very short and simple set of
grammatical rules. Esperanto does a lot with very little.
        Second, it's an agglutinative language, and it relies heavily on
agglutination. There are roots, meaning affixes (prefixes and suffixes), and
grammatical suffixes. You can mix almost anything to come up with very
interesting words. For example, "gekurontoj" means "men and women who will
be running", such as participants in an upcoming race.
        The list of correlatives (who, what, when, how much, any reason,
etc.) is also a very nice idea.

        More affixes.
        Sweet Goddess Brigid, the affixes never end......
        While I think Klingon goes a little too far, it does almost
everything with affixes. For verbs, things like time tense, subject *and*
object person/number, command, negation, and more are all prefixes and
suffixes. Nouns also have layers and layers of affixes.
        It's also interesting in that the word categories are "noun",
"verb", and "leftover". Adjectives and adverbs are treated as verbs. So,
"quickly" would be "<it:no-object><fast><act-present>".

Any Native American language:
        They all have interesting qualities. I have a text on Cherokee, of
which I've skimmed parts. One thing I distinctly remember is that most
transitive verbs have "infixes" (a syllable added to the middle of the verb)
that indicate if the object is a person, an animal, a hard solid, a liquid,
something diffuse or diaphanous, and a few other qualities. So, as an
example given, if you say, "Please pass the gravy", the verb for pass *must*
have the infix for a liquid direct object. If you stick in the infix for
solid, it would imply that the gravy is very lumpy, and would be taken as a
joke or insult by the cook.

Hebrew or Arabic:
        The consonantal root system is a neat idea, and it can work very

        You have to learn grammar inside and out for Latin. Good for general

Well, that's all I can think of for now. I'm sure others will be added.

Mike Karapcik   *       Tampa, FL
Network Analyst *       USF campus
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Research Center
ConlangCode: v1.1 CIT!h !u cG:M:R:S:G a+ y n29:2
B+++/R:Wic A+ E+ N1 Is/d K ia-:+ p-- s- m o P S----


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