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Tong-cho-la, a philosophical language

From:Joe Fatula <fatula3@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 16, 2003, 7:08
As promised, here is a little sample of Tong-cho-la, which is (sort of) a
philosophical language.  All words are either basic roots or comprised of
basic roots put together.  Most roots are free, in that they can exist on
their own, a few are specifically determinants, some indicating which
general class something belongs to.  The basic roots are all things that
people might need to speak about on a regular basis, with more abstract and
scientific categories being described using the more common terms.

For example, "ta-leowalkailu" means "the horse-cart".  It breaks down into
several pieces.  First, the entire noun belongs to the category marked by
"ta", meaning that this is an inanimate object that is generally box-like in
shape.  In this category, "leo" is used to mean something fast and
vehicular.  In its own native category, "leo" is the word for horse.  How do
we distinguish them?  The initial determinant is required when a word is
independant.  "ta-leo" means the vehicle.  "sa-leo" means the horse.
Continuing with the example word, "wal" means "wheel", "kai" means to hold
or have something, and "lu" means the doer of the action specified
immediately before.

Listing out the components, we can see that this is a:

- box-shaped
- vehicle
- wheel
- possessing

A word like "automobile" makes a lot of sense, seeing that it is capable of
motion on its own.  Everything here would still apply, but we would put it
in the "ta" category, indicating that it is mobile and animate on its own.
But if there were some confusion between a car and some strange alien
creature, newly discovered, that happened to possess wheels, we could add
"metal" or "oil-eating" or perhaps "human-controlled" to the car's
description.  But once everyone in the conversation knew that we meant a
car, simply "ta" might be enough to refer to it.

Remember that human speech does not make the same distinctions all the time.
If I were talking to a farmer, we might refer to Holsteins and Jerseys, and
we'd both know exactly what we were talking about.  But to someone else, I
might have to specify that I was talking about Holstein-type dairy cows.
Why all the extra specification?  So that the listener knows what exactly
we're talking about.  In the conversation with the farmer, it would be
redundant information, so we just talk about the two types of cattle with
the specifiers that distinguish them.

Or consider place names... I could tell my friend to meet me at the corner
of 1st and Market, and he and I would meet at the same place.  But if I
called up my cousin, I'd have to specify the city.  And if I talked to my
friend in Mexico, I'd have to specify which region the city was in, as there
are many by that name.  But if I said to my friend around here, "Meet me at
the corner of 1st and Market in San Jose, California, in the US," he'd look
at me kinda funny.  Or if I said, "Meet me at three in the afternoon on
Tuesday, April 15th, 2003," I'd get the same reaction.  Why not just say,
"Meet me at three this afternoon,"?  And that's exactly the way people do

By the way, Tong-cho-la is also supposed to be easy for most people in the
world to pronounce.  It doesn't make any voiced/unvoiced distinctions, no r
vs. l, only a small set of final consonants, five cardinal vowels with the
outermost three making most distinctions, etc.


H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>