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Well, forming such kind of dictionary was precisely what I have been doing
the last days while deriving "modern" Janjarin from proto-Janjarin. Or,
rather, creating the bulk of proto-Janjarin vocabulary, once I've
understood how I want to form "modern" words from the older ones.

Or do You propose creating some kind of universal English-English
dictionary?

On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 6:41 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> An idea for a dictionary of two-word definitions:
>
> In a conlang that derives new nouns by compounding "fundamental" nouns with
> other nouns, verbs, or adjectives, there is a lot of flexibility as to
> which nouns are "fundamental" and which nouns are "derivative". A sea-going
> culture might have a fundamental noun for "boat", but consider a "wagon" to
> be a "land-boat". On the other hand, a landlocked culture might have come
> up with a fundamental word for "wagon" and only later found a need for a
> word like "sea-wagon".
>
> An interesting exercise, before even deciding on a phonology or any
> grammatical principles of a new conlang, might be to decide on the type of
> environment in which the conlang was born (desert, jungle, seaside,
> mountain side,...) and what technological level existed at the time the
> language sprang into existence (stone age, bronze age,...). Armed with
> these two bits of information and perhaps even a rough idea of the myths
> and legends of the people and some idea of how their culture looked, a
> preliminary dictionary could be compiled, in English, listing nouns and
> identifying each either as "fundamental" or giving their two-word
> "definition".
>
> This dictionary would eventually become the foundation of the conlang
> dictionary once roots were invented for each "fundamental" noun, verb, or
> adjective. For example, in the area of body coverings (gear/wear = gwear)
> such as "headgear" and "footwear", we might add these definitions to the
> English version of the two-word dictionary:
>
> backpack: load gwear
> beast: FUND (non-human animal)
> cold: FUND
> foot: FUND
> gloves: hand gwear
> gwear: FUND (gear/wear - item of clothing or worn equipment)
> hand: FUND
> hat: head gwear
> head: FUND
> horse: load beast
> in(ner): FUND [adj]
> leg: FUND
> load: FUND (Stuff carried or transported)
> neck: FUND
> overcoat: cold gwear
> pants: leg gwear
> rain coat: rain gwear
> rain: FUND
> scarf: neck gwear
> shirt: trunk gwear
> shoes: foot gwear
> trunk: FUND (The trunk portion of the human body)
> underwear: in(ner) gwear
>
> Building such a dictionary in English would go a lot more quickly than
> building it in a new conlang since no time would be wasted in dreaming up
> new roots for every new entry. What is known of the culture and environment
> of the people would guide the construction of the dictionary. Once
> relatively complete, the dictionary would serve as a source for derivations
> in the conlang. Each time a new root is invented for the conlang a text
> editor search function could find all the derived words that need that new
> root and the conlang dictionary would more or less build itself on the
> skeleton of the English two-word dictionary.
>
> --gary
>