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Hi,

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On 27 Feb 2012, at 20:26, Logan Kearsley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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
> "instrument-symbol-draw"?

You could just have a verb that means "to rock" or "to be a rock", and then syntax or morphology which makes it clear when the lexeme is being used in the nominal sense, e.g., with verb-final word order, agreement, and non-pro-drop (and bearing in mind I don't know the phonology of your language):

Di                 donaxi
Di                 di-onax-i

3.SG.INAN 3.INAN-be.rock-PRES.REALIS.

"It is a rock"

With nominalisers:

Onaxna              pha

Onax-na            pha

Be.rock.NOM.  there

"The rock is there"

With cases:

Onaxł             tlalac

Onax-ł           tlalac

Be.rock-ABS be.white.NONPAST

"The rock is white"

With particles:

Dičuhna uq onax tã

Di-čuh-na               uq    onax tã

3.INAN-hit-3.ANIM with rock  the

"He hit it with the rock"

You could also do the same with tones, e.g.

Onáx (mid tone, high tone) + low tone for the definite article/nominalisation/absolutive case => ònàx

For the difference between "pen/pencil/ink" and draw/write, you could allow the verb "to be a pencil, etc.) to be transitive, meaning something like "it pencils [e.g. a cartoon], use compounds ("be.lead-be.writing.instrument" for "pencil" vs. "be.oil-be.writing.instrument" for "pen"), or use idiomatic derivational suffixes (e.g. be.pencil.NOM.AUG => pen, or be.pen.PEJ.ERG => pencil.
> 
> 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.

Depending on what you're looking for, homophony could make your conlang more naturalistic. Also, you could disambiguate (some/all) homophones by derivation, compounding, and/or tone, so that

pox - sickness/book

vs.

póx (high tone) - teepee

vs.

pôx (falling tone) - white.man

or pox-wut (sickness/book-bad) - sickness 

vs.

pox-połłi (sickness/book-pen) - book
> 
> 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?
> 
> Aside from that, I don't really have many good ideas, so I'm way open
> to suggestions, links to grammars of weird natlangs, etc.
> 
> -l.
> 
> *The current working name for my Romantic lang, for those who remember
> prior updates on that project.

HTH