New Conlanger Stuck, would you help?
|Date:||Friday, September 28, 2001, 20:36|
OK, I am new to the conlanging community, and I want to create a language, which I
am currently calling Latik.
I have chosen 10 vowel sounds and 20 consonant sounds. Each sound has one
letter, making the pronunication regular.
I have decided that funtion of each word will be determined positionally, in the
format Subject - Verb - Direct Object - Indirect Object.
Oviously, not all sentences will have both or any objects.
The part I am stuck on is figuring out how my verbs will conjugate, in such a way
as to cause high "language density".
If you take a sentence and translate it into several languages, such as "I walked
to school.", you can count up how many syllables each sentence has. The ones
with lower syllable counts for the same sentence are "highly dense" languages.
For the language I would like to create, I would like to achieve the same density
as English or better. On average, if I translate a sentence into both English
and my yet-to-be created language, I would like to find that on average the
Latik version has the same or fewer syllables than the English version.
Where I am stuck is that I don't know how to create a regular formula for verb
cojugations that are as syllabically compressed as English.
The one thought I had was that perhaps all verbs conjugate by changing the vowel
of the main syllable.
The problem with this idea is that, as you look at all the possible combinations
of consonants and vowels that make up a syllable, there are four, Vowel,
Consonant-Vowel, Vowel-Consonant, and Consonant-Vowel-Consonant. (Clusters of
consonants like "tr" can be treated as a single consonant sound for this
With 10 vowels and 25 consonants and one syllable, that would normally give 10
single Vowel words, 250 Consonant-Vowel words, 250 Vowel-Consonant words, and
6250 Consonant-Vowel-Consonant words. When you add in the two syllable words,
you get a ton more, BUT....
If you make the vowels do the duty of conjugation, you cut down all the potential
words, for shifting one vowel to another cannot make a new words if all that
does is indicate a new tense of the old word.
Now our numbers for the four single syllable word patterns are something like 1,
25, 25, and 625 - a paltry number of single syllable words, forcing us to
create mostly two syllable words in our newly created lexicon, and with that
shift, the "language density" takes a hit.
One way English avoids losing language density is in the addition of terminators
that don't add syllables, such as walk -> walked, which is really pronounced
walkt, or change -> changed, pronounced "chandg-d", not "change-ehd." Is this
the only way to compress a language, to have harsh "dipthongy" terminators?
What is the advice of the countless readers and writers of the list on acheiving a
conlang of high density (when spoken) and utility?