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CONLANG  March 2013, Week 4

CONLANG March 2013, Week 4

Subject:

Re: A Philosophical Language as Proto-Conlang

From:

Patrick Dunn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 14:39:12 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (107 lines)

I love this idea, and it's one that occurred to me before.  I even tried to
codify a little game for it, which I called oligame: you'd start with a
limited number of roots, and then use them to derive a language.  I never
got much beyond mulling it over, though.


On Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Imagine a conlang built on the principles of a philosophical language
> consisting of monosyllabic words with broad basic meanings. However,
> in getting from the protolang to the "finished" conlang you would use
> processes of fusion, erosion, vowel mutation, etc., that would
> eventually completely disguise the philosophical nature of the roots.
>
> The initial roots would be monosyllabic names of concrete objects,
> actions, and parts of objects like body parts. The lexicon would be
> completely concrete with no words for abstract concepts like
> "happiness", or "friendship", and no adjectives or adverbs, let alone
> prepositions or articles. Verb tenses would, of course, be out of the
> question. There might not even be any pronouns to begin with, and
> counting words might be initially limited to "one, two, three, many".
> The lexicon should probably contain pointing words "this" (near me),
> "that" (near you), "yonder" (far from both of us), also monosyllabic.
>
> Sentences would consist of agent/subject before object/patient with
> action either between those two or after both, with no initial
> preference for either. Two or more consecutive sentences that share
> the same agent/subject could be chained together with a comma
> replacing the repeated agent/subject. That way "Man walk. Man leave
> hut. Man come river." could be condensed into "Man walk, leave hut,
> come river." That would be the only sentence template initially
> defined.
>
> Words may only be coined by putting together philosophical roots, but
> other processes can then be applied to the result. Words may also be
> put together in set phrases which can then become idioms which might
> then be shortened or simplified to create new words. Words can change
> roles so that "Man walk, leave hut, come river." could come, after
> many centuries, to mean "Man walk from hut to river." as the original
> monosyllable "leave" ends up being used as if it were a preposition
> "from". Perhaps with another new coinage to replace the verb "leave"
> with the compound "go-leave" where the word for "leave" has come to
> mean "from". Likewise, "come" eventually takes on the meaning "to", so
> that "come river" eventually means "to river".
>
> Abstract nouns like "friendship" and "beauty" would initially be
> created with compound words or set phrases used metaphorically.
> Adjectives would come from concrete nouns used as exemplars of the
> trait described. "leaf" or "grass" might be used to mean "green", and
> "elephant" might be used for "large". Later, those words my experience
> vowel shifts when used in an adjectival sense in order to distinguish
> them from the concrete objects, but their roots in the concrete might
> still be detectable. In any case it should be possible to document the
> history of a word back to its original protolang monosyllables, even
> if the final word no longer bears any resemblance to its original
> roots.
>
> For example, suppose the pointing word "ho" means "this/here", and the
> word "yi" means "person". We could coin a first person singular
> pronoun from the set phrase "ho yi" = "this person" Later that might
> be eroded to "hoi", and later still to "oi". Only the vowels remain
> from the original "ho yi", but the conlang now has a first person
> singular pronoun with a documented pedigree, rather than some
> arbitrary word coined out of thin air.
>
> Similarly, "you" might begin as "ta yi" = "that (near you) person",
> and "he/she" might be "pen yi" for "yonder person". Later, "ta yi"
> might, over many centuries, become "tai" -> "tau" -> "dau" as long as
> each step is something that can be justified in some reasonable
> manner, and is not just some radical, arbitrary change. "this", "that"
> and "yonder" might diverge further from "me", "you", and "he" by
> compounding with "thing" to become "this thing" ("hojin"), "that
> thing" ("tajin"), and "yonder thing" ("penji"), and the original
> "this/that/yon" ("ho/ta/pen") might fade from use and disappear from
> the modern language entirely.
>
> In every case, new coinages must come from using what already exists.
> Likewise, novel grammatical structures should be derived by simple
> steps from the existing grammar. "I use ax. I chop tree." condenses to
> "I use ax, chop tree." Shifting emphasis to the tree, and reducing the
> prominence of "ax" might give "I chop tree, use ax.", slightly
> demoting "use" to the effective role of a preposition. Eventually, the
> monosyllable for "use" begins, functionally, to look more like a word
> for "with", we could allow the sentence "I chop tree with ax." to
> emerge as a natural consequence of the changing role of the
> monosyllable for "use/with".
>
> If you want a definite article, then you will have to derive it from a
> pointing word, or an emphasis word (which might have to be created via
> metaphorical use of some concrete root). But what you can't do is just
> declare _ex catherdra_ that the definite article exists and is spelled
> "la".
>
> Anyway, that's my morning random brain dump.
>
> --gary
>



-- 
Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for
order from Finishing Line
Press<http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm>
and
Amazon<http://www.amazon.com/Second-Person-Patrick-Dunn/dp/1599249065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324342341&sr=8-2>.

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