On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM, Leonardo Castro <[log in to unmask]>wrote: > 2012/11/18 Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> > > > 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 example is that a name for squirrel in Brazil is > "quati-mirim" (little coati). Also, the dog was called "jaguar" by Tupi > speakers while the jaguar itself was "jaguareté" (true jaguar). > > > > > > 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". > > > > Why not a generic "synonym dictionary" with many possibilities of > expressing some idea by compoundings? > I think because it really depends on the conculture. For a single language, it seems sufficient to just develop one's own scheme and stick to it while developing the language further. However, it would have been indeed a very good thing if someone could have composed such a compound dictionary, with examples from natlangs and conlangs. And not necessarily compounds, though. For instance, it was a kind of revelation for me when I learn that that the Arabic words for "down" and "lamp" are derived from the same root. Even the "bird" and "airport" were quite striking. I wish I've had such a reference resource as a well for imagination, rather than seeking through several dictionaries simultaneously, trying to figure out what I want and where can I find it.