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Re: THEORY: irregular conlangs

From:Padraic Brown <pbrown@...>
Date:Friday, October 1, 1999, 18:38
On Fri, 1 Oct 1999, Sally Caves wrote:

> Daniel Andreasson wrote: > > Am I right or wrong? I know many of you (as I once) > > want an extremely logical language, one that you > > have to invent because there aren't any logical > > natlangs. But those of you who persue a natlangy > > touch of your conlang, how far do you go in your > > irregularities?
I never really understood the point in a logical language, so can't really sympathise with the loglangers. At the other end, I would prefer a language that exhibits plenty of irregularity, but doesn't race too far away from its paradigm. E.g., I like working with Indo-European so I can't really do all the things that Navajo or Swahili do. Were I to indulge, I'd no longer have something recognisably IE.
> > I would like to go further. I would like to invent more > idioms, variant spellings, allow more irregularities to
Hurray! Someone else who doesn't believe in one word one spelling! :)
> develop in my verb forms, and to come up with some really > wild combinations of prepositional prefix and verb that > produce meanings that you absolutely can't derive from > their combination... such as happens ALL THE TIME in natural > languages. The Germanic and Celtic languages are very rich > in this regard. Swifan in OE means to "move," but onswifan > means "to intervene." _Wendan_ in OE means to turn but > _awendan_ means to translate. _beir_ in Irish comes from > the old trusty IE to mean "bear," "carry," but add any kind > of prepositional prefix to it and you get all sorts of > "illogical" semantic changes.
:) As might be expected, Kernu functions similarly. Most verbs get along in life with their preverbs in a perfectly ordinary fashion. Decker means "speak" addecker means "talk to"; poner and apponer mean "put", deponer means "remove". Certain sets of preverb wreak utter havoc with meaning though, and stride through life shrouded with impenetrable fogs. Quite intending to trip up learners at every step. Once you learn that, as far as dictionaries are concerned, do- and ad- mean the same thing (to, towards), then dodecker and doponer might seem to be synonymous with addecker and apponer. But it's at moments like these that the language turns on you and bites you in the bum. Dodecker means "deliver a sermon" while doponer can mean variously "point to", "indicate", "curse", "write", and dozens of other things depending on the object of the verb. Vordecker doesn't mean "talk over one's head" (vor- does mean over); it means "chastise" or "holler at". Doferer (do-, to; ferer, carry) means "accompany" or "court"; soerponer (soer-, over, on top) means "knock over" or "knock out". Soertraer (traer, pull or drag) means "open the tap" or "pour a drink".
> I think the trend in conlanging, and I might be wrong, is > away from "logical" towards "natural." Am I right?
I think you are probably right here. Most of the language examples (as above) and most of the questions seem to be in this direction. Most of us are dealing with cultures (human and otherwise) which on the whole tend to eradicate the possibility of a natural, logical langauge (people are not logical after all). It's probably due at least in part to the separation of Auxlang; since those sorts of langauges seem to tend towards simplicity and logic.
> When I conducted the "Lunatic Survey" a year ago, I > got the sense, too, that the exotic was in more demand > than the logical.
Have you thought of circulating that again for all the (relatively) new active members? Padraic.
> > Sally > > > ============================================================ > SALLY CAVES > > (bragpage) > (T. homepage) > (all else) > ===================================================================== > Niffodyr tweluenrem lis teuim an. > "The gods have retractible claws." > from _The Gospel of Bastet_ > ============================================================ >