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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.