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On Sun, 18 Nov 2012 09:41:39 -0800, 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".

How do you handle words where the modifier of the noun is itself modified, like fly-catch-bird?

>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