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A detour into Binalda

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Friday, July 27, 2007, 3:26
I've been spending some time thinking about this idea of an _a priori_
auxlang that isn't a philosophical language, and I've got some ideas for
a tentative start. Nothing is definite, not even the name, but I have to
call it something, so for the moment it's Binalda.

The vowel inventory is pretty standard for these things: /a e i o u/.
The consonant inventory, on the other hand, is a little different:
fricatives have voiced and voiceless allophones.

"v" [f] ~ [v]
"z" [s] ~ [z]
"j" [S] ~ [Z]
"h" [x] ~ [G]

One of the key things that needs to be done "right" with this kind of
language is word-building. No one is going to learn a language with
thousands of unrelated words that don't remind them of anything in
languages they already know. So the number of roots that need to be
memorized should be kept to a minimum, preferably under 1,000. And the
language needs a good productive system for generating vocabulary from
existing roots. On the other hand, stringing together too many affixes
can make the words too cumbersome to be useful. So there's a balance
that can only be established by creating a large vocabulary and seeing
what ends up as being too awkward.

For the moment, I'm assuming that I can use two-syllable roots for most
of the basic concepts, and build from there by adding one-syllable
prefixes or suffixes. So the word "binalda" is from the root "nalda"
meaning "to express". But I might end up preferring suffixes instead of
prefixes. A lot will depend on how the stress patterns end up.

Several possibilities for the stress patterns (stress is non-phonemic):

With prefixes:
word-initial ('nalda, 'binalda, 'debinalda)
root-initial ('nalda, bi'nalda, debi'nalda)
word-final (nal'da, binal'da, debinal'da)

With suffixes:
word-initial ('nalda, 'naldabi, 'naldabide)
root-final (nal'da, nal'dabi, nal'dabide)
word-final (nal'da, nalda'bi, naldabi'de)

The two of these I seem to prefer at the moment are root-initial with
prefixes and word-final with suffixes. The choice will have an effect on
word order in general (distinguishing between one-syllable words and
affixes). For example:

ka le nalda te mi
ka le binalda te mi
ka le debinalda te mi

If stress is word-initial, the fact that "ka le" are separate words and
"de- bi-" are prefixes is obvious. Otherwise, there's no clear way to
tell whether one of these is a separate word or a prefix. But then, if
stress is word-initial, it's not clear whether "te mi" are separate
words or suffixes.