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Tips for making new vocabulary
Posted: Posted December 1st, 2011 by Aterius
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I have been searching for quite awhile about natural, easy ways to generate new vocabulary for my conlangs (for my conworld eedixelem) but I have been having trouble finding a reliable and sensible source. Most people just suggested using a random word generator or taking an already existing language (like Latin) and changing a few letters (sapientia-kabenteea) and making a new conjugation. I don't have enough money for "the language construction kit" but I did get a glimpse, but it was more of a tease. But the basic idea revolved around roots. So my question is "how do I make these roots and what are some good modles to go by?" and also "what are some other affective (effective?) techniques to making more words"?

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Basing vocabulary on roots is definitely the hard way.

You could study Chinese a bit to get an insightful grasp on how roots can creatively construct new words (some are very clever).

I just use phoneme replacement and scrambling for Latin or other languages to generate vocabulary (since most people don't, or won't, notice).

But were I going by roots, I'd do it in reverse.

Get a good list of the most common words, and break them down into simpler words to describe them.

Then get that simple word list, and combine as many as you can, and further break them down.


Oven:

fire+heart+box

Fire might be elemental. Or it might break down into: Baby sun (or something)

Heart and box probably wouldn't be.

Heart:
life sound

Life might be elemental.

Sound might also be elemental.

box:
corner hold

Neither probably are elemental.

Corner:
hard change

hold:
Have stay


Stay might break down into: No change

Hard might break down into: Dead Stay

Where dead may break down into: no life

Have might break down into: life baby no life

Life might even break down into: fire change



Try to break it down until it's made up of the most primitive words

In this case: Fire, Change, No, baby, sound

Let's say: Sher, Dyeh, Gah, Mou, Ah, Keh (respectively)

(I didn't use the baby sun thing for fine, so sun would probably have fire in its root somewhere later)


Oven = fire + heart + box =
sher + (life + sound) + (corner + hold) =
sher + ((sher + dyeh) + keh) + ((hard + dyeh) + (have + stay)) =

sher + ((sher + dyeh) + keh) + ((((gah + (sher + dyeh)) + (gah + dyeh)) + dyeh) + (((sher + dyeh) + Mou + gah + (sher + dyeh)) + (gah + dyeh)))

Now just simplify:

sher + (sta + keh) + ((((gah + sta) + uhdi) + dyeh) + ((sta + Mou + gah + sta) + uhdi))

Stay is uhdi, life is sta

sher + tak + (((ast + uhdi) + dyeh) + ((sta + Mou + gah + sta) + uhdi))

Heart is tak, death is ast

sher + tak + ((stud + dyeh) + (stumgis + uhdi))

Hard is stud
Have is stumgis

sher + tak + (stuyeh + sumsee)

Corner is stuyeh
Hold is sumsee

sher + tak + stisum

Box is stisum

Oven is... shtakzim (or something like that)


Do that enough, without enough words, and you'll end up with common themes to fill out your elemental table (probably a couple dozen words that grow and merge and become more words, then merge again).

You can use find and replace as you break things down, and then to put them back together (as long as you use parentheses or some other logic to it to make sure they recombine in the right order).


If you half develop a couple languages, you can merge them based on the dominance of different cultures and the usefulness of the words, and then combine them more into more elaborate words.

Takes a lot of work, though, to do that to thousands of words.

Posted December 1st, 2011 by Blake
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Blake
 

Thanks :D I've been needing that!! So what/how many words do I need? (I realise that there isn't an exact number but any guestamate is perfect)

Posted December 1st, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 

Please, please, please correct the spelling!

"Aggulation" just doesn't exist.

Think "Word-stick-together-ing".

An "agglutinating" language is a "wordsticktogetherish" language.

"Agglutinating" has "glu[color=#AAAAAA]e" in it.

"ag glu ti na ting".

If you can remember that "agglutinating" means "gluing bits together", you'll remember how to spell it.

I can only imagine "aggulation" means something like "throating things together".

I can't vote until that's been changed.

Posted December 1st, 2011 by chiarizio
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Blake, I am returning to conlanging because of that idea.
Thank you.

Posted December 2nd, 2011 by Quillwraith
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Sorry!! I never actually like "read" the word, just looked at it, if you know what I mean? Basically I understood it, I just never pronounced it so thanks for pointing that out I'll make sure not to mess that up again, however for some reason when I go in to edit the poll options don't show up anymore (I'm a total newb to this site and forums overall, I'm pretty far behind for a 16 year old)


Posted December 2nd, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 

Eldin/Aterius:

I think I've fixed it.



Quillwraith:

Thank you. I'm glad I could help.


Aterius:

You're quite welcome.

You need to make a few thousand words for a good functional language.

You only need a few hundred for a superficial language.


Instead of trying to guess how many words you need, I suggest you consider your application.

Think or some other con-languages that are developed enough that such a level of development would suit your application.

Then, just see how many words they have- I'd be inclined to use the smallest number of words that will function.

You can find lists of the hundred (or thousand) most common English, Chinese, Spanish, etc. words and phrases.

I would start there.

Posted December 2nd, 2011 by Blake
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Blake
 

A question just popped in my head for the first time, which may answer itself, but I'm typing as it comes to my head just in case I forget. What makes some words or letters more common than others, I'm sure grammar has to do with letters and people's laziness has to do with words, bubwhat else?

Posted December 2nd, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 

A question just popped in my head for the first time, which may answer itself, but I'm typing as it comes to my head just in case I forget. What makes some words or letters more common than others, I'm sure grammar has to do with letters and people's laziness has to do with words, bubwhat else?


Sometimes it's just pure luck (maybe not, but it's the best model we have). Sometimes words just stick by chance.

Sometimes its because it's "easier" to pronounce, but that's sort of subjective.

Posted December 3rd, 2011 by cybrxkhan
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Thanks everyone for your help ^-^ I've been needing that. I'll probably be posting details on my conworld and conlangs soon, Ill post the link here when I do, for those who care

Posted December 5th, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 


Sometimes it's just pure luck (maybe not, but it's the best model we have). Sometimes words just stick by chance.

Sometimes its because it's "easier" to pronounce, but that's sort of subjective.



Yep. A culture usually develops common phonemes, and they're easier to pronounce just because they're used to pronouncing them.

There are some things I can barely pronounce at all, while those who can think English is impossible to pronounce correctly (and it may be nearly so, for them).

Posted December 5th, 2011 by Blake
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Blake
 

how much grammar is necessary? i have made many conlangs where i write so much grammar and i feel it's either not enough or too much and just toss it aside for future inspiration but I've never learnt what exactly is "enough" for a language to work and form complex sentences.

Posted December 5th, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 

how much grammar is necessary? i have made many conlangs where i write so much grammar and i feel it's either not enough or too much and just toss it aside for future inspiration but I've never learnt what exactly is "enough" for a language to work and form complex sentences.

You need as much syntax as you don't have morphology, and you need as much morphology as you don't have syntax.

If your language is not very synthetic -- if it's nearly isolating or nearly analytic -- then it doesn't have a lot of morphology, but it probably has a lot of syntax. Morphemes that are inflections in other, more-synthetic languages, will be separate words in yours. You'll probably have many more "minor" parts-of-speech in your language than there are in more-synthetic languages. You'll need syntax to know which more-prominent word your minor part-of-speech goes with.

OTOH if your language is highly synthetic, whether very agglutinating or very fusional, your morphology is going to be a lot more complex (or at least big). As a result your syntax can be a lot simpler. Clauses will be a lot shorter, typically consisting just of a one-word verb and a one-word noun for each participant that's not a pronoun. Morphemes that are separate words in a highly analytic/isolating language, will be affixes in your language. You'll have fewer parts-of-speech, because you'll need few minor parts-of-speech.

At an extreme, you may do without adpositions at all because your case-endings say everything adpositions could; you may do without adverbs at all because various affixes that might go on verbs or adjectives say everything adverbs could; you may do without pronouns because your verbs inflect (or derive) to tell everything about any pronominal participant that a pronoun could; and you may do without verbal or clausal conjunctions because affixes on the verb tell you everything conjunctions could.

Also, at an extreme, syntax may be totally unnecessary for expressing anything semantic; it may be used solely for pragmatic purposes. For instance, if all dependent-words agree with all head-words and vice-versa -- thoroughgoing double-marking everywhere -- then you could scramble the order of the words in your clause anyway you like and still be able to figure out which head went with which dependent.

Pretty much anything you need to say, you need to decide which way (or ways) to say it:
Lexically (make up a brand new word)
Morphologically (change an existing word)
or Syntactically. (put words next to each other in a particular order).

If you pick "lexically" and/or "syntactically" nearly all the time, your language will be Isolating but Fusional, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but, there you are; that's how you could do it.

If you pick "morphologically" nearly all the time, your language will be highly Synthetic and/or Fusional; and you really won't be putting much burden on Syntax, so your Syntax could be very simple, maybe just "say all the words in any clause before you start saying any of the words in the next clause".

-----------------------

Do I seem to have understood your question?
Do I seem to have answered it?
If that helped, let me know; if it didn't, maybe you could re-phrase your question?

Posted December 5th, 2011 by chiarizio
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I need a language that is basically a trade language for a region and has major influences from most the languages in the region and influences the future languages of the continent and eventually the world, so what kind of system would be best to be able to adopt many different forms of syntax and morphology. Do I need to be heavier in morphology or syntax or vice versa? What kind of grammar systems would be best? Or does it just simply depend on a secific senario: i.e. Contrast roman language to phoenecian language, or English to Chinese, one is bigger and more influential for historical reasons another for the actual language?


Posted December 5th, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 

I have to agree with Blake "Basing vocabulary on roots is definitely the hard way. " I am probably the most illerate person here when it comes to conlanging, but it I find it to be fun. A lot of my languages start out as base, the first organized, recorded. Definitely harder than just piecing together a lexicon.

how do I make these roots and what are some good modles to go by?


As I said, I'm no expert at this. For me, I look at a few guides then a couple of the more base languages to understand how they evolved. Usually from there I can piece together how language evolved on a world or section of a world. Whether it is right or wrong *shrug* But I at least can explain why it did evolve into current usage.

Try looking at the base languages of the world. Some that have never (basically) had contact with outside languages. Even those without written script have proven useful. Try the construction language kit, also.

Posted December 6th, 2011 by Seeria
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Seeria
 

A good vocabulary-building and grammar-building exercise for conlanging, is to post all your posts here in your conlang(s) (after posting them in a language the rest of us can read, of course!)
That is, each post consists of what you want to say, then a translation of it into each of your conlangs that you want to build the lexicon or morphosyntax of.
That way you're likely to come up with the most common words early, and also the most common grammatical constructions.

Posted December 6th, 2011 by chiarizio
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Thanks chiarizo!! That's a pretty good idea. Btw I have posted where I'm at in my conlang, all but the complete vocabulary. Which still isn't much, you can find it in the same forum under "this is what I have so far..." I would LOVE some feed back as soon as possible ^-^ if it isn't too much trouble for y'all!

Ańalećezan oīńal chiarizio-ku (assuming you're a guy). Aneīi ūlesće unapheda-ku. Ints, s kagele s conlang (lascetesć aznīasće-ku). (the language is supposed to be ancient so I'm gunna be lazy and leave that where it is)

Posted December 7th, 2011 by Aterius
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Aterius
 

You should join one of
http://zbb.spinnwebe.com/
or
http://aveneca.com/cbb/
or
http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=conlang&A=1
to post to when you're mainly interested in conlangs.

When you're mainly interested in conscripts or neographies or artificial scripts or constructed scripts, you should join
http://conscripts.s4.bizhat.com/.

Here (http://conworlds.fun/cwbb/) is very good (possibly the best) when you're conworlding, but you might also be interested in
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/geofiction/ for the places, and/or in
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/conculture/ for the cultures.


_____________________________________________________________

What makes some words or phonemes[color=white]letters more common than others?

Grammatical function words (such as adpositions, maybe some adverbs in some languages, conjunctions, interjections(?), particles, and pronouns) tend to be more common than words with "heavy" or "full" lexical semantic content; unless the language is much more synthetic than analytic/isolating.

Grammatical function morphemes (such as inflectional and derivational affixes, such as those for aspect, case, definiteness, evidentiality, gender, mirativity, modality/mode/mood, number, person, pluractionality, polarity, pragmatic status, quality, tense, validationality, or voice) tend to be more common than root morphemes; unless the language is much more isolating/analytic than synthetic, or much more fusional than agglutinating.

In general, whatever preferences exist for some phonemes as opposed to others, are exaggerated in the root morphemes of words with heavy or full lexical semantic content, and are attenuated in grammatical-function morphemes and grammatical-function words.

There are also things that happen in superheavy syllables but not heavy ones, and things that happen in heavy syllables but not light ones.

Primarily-stressed syllables tend to allow more complex phonotactics than secondarily-stressed or unstressed syllables; and stressed syllables have different phonological statistics than unstressed syllables.

It's also worthwhile to contrast what happens in first stressed syllables from later stressed syllables, or last stressed syllables from earlier stressed syllables. And, to contrast what happens in first syllables from later syllables, or last syllables from earlier syllables.

The sounds in unstressed syllables tend to assimilate to those of adjacent stressed syllables. Unstressed syllables tend to get simplified or "lightened". If your con-speakers find a particular consonant-cluster difficult to pronounce it is likely that a conditional sound-change where it occurs will result in something a bit easier for them to pronounce.

OTOH if it becomes highly necessary to distinguish two sounds or otherwise the word is likely to be misunderstood, they may dissimilate from one another. This may, for instance, result in about the same frequency of /l/ as /r/, because any word that has two /l/'s changes one of them to an /r/ and any word that has two /r/'s changes one of them to an /l/. Or something.

Does any of that help?
Those are just suggestions for things which probably happen sometimes. I do not know of one explanation which covers every case, and I don't believe one exists. And, all other posters' suggestions were at least as good as mine.

Posted December 7th, 2011 by chiarizio
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A good vocabulary-building and grammar-building exercise for conlanging, is to post all your posts here in your conlang(s) (after posting them in a language the rest of us can read, of course!)
That is, each post consists of what you want to say, then a translation of it into each of your conlangs that you want to build the lexicon or morphosyntax of.
That way you're likely to come up with the most common words early, and also the most common grammatical constructions.


Just might have to take up that challenge when I'm complete enough with one of mine.

Are they ever done?!

Posted December 13th, 2011 by Seeria
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Seeria
 

Are they ever done?!


No.


Or, when they can function well enough to meet your needs.

So if all you want is a naming language, you don't need to that much, maybe some surface syntax and morphology and a couple hundred common and geographic nouns.

If you want to have dialogue in your conlang, I reckon you need to do roughly twice as much grammar as you think you want to use in your translations.

But really, no language is ever really "complete"; natlangs are in a constant state of flux (how you speak is different from your parents, and from their parents, and how your children speak will be different and so on), and conlangs usually have not enough of at least one out of syntax, morphology or vocabulary.


I don't mind though, I love conlanging XD

Posted December 13th, 2011 by Avjunza
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Avjunza
 

Just might have to take up that challenge when I'm complete enough with one of mine.

The point of "that challenge" is to inspire you to make up the vocabulary, and often the morphology, and sometimes the syntax, to make your post in your conlang.
In other words it helps you "complete"* your conlang in "the right order".
*"Complete" enough to correspond in it, thus probably to converse in it.

"Waiting until it's complete enough" is like not going in the water until you learn how to swim.

-------------------------------------------

Also: What Avjunza said.

Posted December 16th, 2011 by chiarizio
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Bump?

Posted May 5th, 2018 by chiarizio
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I ought to take my own advice at least once!

Posted December 23rd, 2018 by chiarizio
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