On Mon, 27 Feb 2012 13:26:44 -0700, Logan Kearsley <[log in to unmask]>

>Mev Pailom* is very verb-oriented; there are small classes of
>prepositions, grammatical particles, and pronouns, and everything else
>so far is regularly derived from basically verbal roots. This has
>resulted in an explosion of vocabulary for abstract concepts and for
>concrete things that are easily associated with activities (like bed =
>"locative-sleep", hand = "instrument-do"), but it's leaving me without
>an easy way to form specific concrete nouns; e.g., what activity goes
>with "rock"? How does one distinguish "pen", "pencil", or "ink" from

My first suggestion would be *not* to distinguish them, at the basic level,
mindful of the fact that languages differ in what semantic divisions are
reflected in basic-level categories (and wanting to avoid an English
lexical-structure bias).  If you need to speak of pens and pencils in
cÚntrast to one another, then stick on whatever disambiguatory modifier you
need: "liquid drawing-tool" vs. "sticklike drawing-tool"?  "erasable d.-t."
vs. "unerasable d.-t."?  But in most contexts this modifier would be

>I'm averse to just making up a whole lot of basic nominal roots
>because I don't want a) to shift the character of the language too
>much or b) to impinge on the phonological space that's available for
>the regular derivational system to grow into; e.g., if there's a
>verbal root R-K and an unanalyzable noun "rok", the pattern -CoC- is
>excluded from possible use in the derivational system, or else we risk
>homophony, which eliminates potentially hundreds of possible derived
>words for the sake of one basic root.

Why isn't a little homophony tolerable?

>So, I am looking for various morphological strategies that can are
>used for nominals in other verb-oriented languages.
>For the pen/pencil/ink sort of problem, I was thinking of using
>classifiers to distinguish different possible meanings of general
>nouns; regarding which, does anyone know of a good large list of noun
>classifiers / counters used in various languages?

Hm.  I get the feeling that would sometimes help but often not.  My
impression is that natlang classifiers tend mostly to be based on
shape+size+consistency, or broad functional groups (rarely does it get finer
than "tools"), or broad associational groups (e.g. men's objects vs. women's
ones).  Ink is liquid whereas both pens and pencils are sticklike; the
latter two are less likely to be distinguished in a class system, but maybe
(oldschool) pencils could be made to fall in a "trees & their products" class/  

My impression is that, in the verb-prominent native languages of North
America, one of the common strategies for naming particular objects is just
nominalizing a whole verb phrase, with whatever necessary modifiers in it. 
Along the lines of "ink" = 'writing-tools are filled with it'.