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On 31 Aug 02, at 15:23, Roberto Suarez Soto wrote:

>         What do you think is the basic vocabulary to start a conlang?
>         I was thinking that there are a few verbs that, because of its
> everyday use or significance, should be the first to be "created": to
> be, to have, to live, to die, to go, to come.

Careful there. Some of those high-frequency verbs are used in special
ways in English and related languages which you may or may not wish to
duplicate. For example, there are a number of languages which need no
copula (so "I doctor" means "I *am* a doctor"), so "to be" is not
necessarily universal. Also, adjectives need not necessarily be
attached to a noun by a verb ("The tree *is* green"); they could be
verbs themselves (as in Japanese), or one could use a case construction as in
Ebisedian. (I imagine that languages which have no noun copula do the same
thing with adjectives; certainly Russian does -- "the tree green".)

Also "to have" -- the meaning as a full verb is possession, which some
languages render by constructions such as "X is on me" or "X is to me" rather
than "I have X". And remember that "have" is also used a lot as an auxiliary
verb; you may or may not wish to duplicate that feature. (Depends a bit on how
close to a natlang -- specifically, a Eurolang -- you want your language to

Similarly with "to do", which is also a common auxiliary verb in English, as
are "to get" and "to make" (in the causative sense).

This thread which happened recently on sci.lang may be interesting in this
(should be all on one line)
Someone asked for translations into Hebrew of 10 common English verbs, and
there was a little discussion on why some of them do not have an equivalent.

> And of course, the basic personal pronouns: I, you, he/she/it, we, you,
> they.

Again, you can decide what distinctions to make. Will you distinguish between
formal and informal pronouns for second (and possibly third) person? Will
there be a formal 2pl pronoun? Will you distinguish between "he" and "she"?
What about "they" -- will there be one pronoun for, one for,
and one for mixed? Or all in one? Or just masc. and fem., with one of them
being used for mixed groups?

If your nouns have grammatical gender, will there be one third person pronoun
for each gender? Will gender look like sex (i.e. masculine, feminine, and
possibly neuter) or will it have more categories? If nouns have gender, will
the pronoun agree with the grammatical gender of the noun or with the sex?
(For example, would objects always be "it" and people receive the pronoun
appropriate to their sex? For example, in German, girls are "it" because the
word "Mädchen" has the diminutive suffix -chen which always makes a noun

Basically, beware of just creating an Angloclone or a Euroclone -- unless, of
course, that is your intent! :)

Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>