Still can't do vocabulary :S

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Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Wed 13 Jul 2016, 15:26

I have this for my language so far. It is based around monosyllabic words. I have created a list of 140 word roots to create vocabulary from, but I have no idea how to go from root to word, or how to combine roots without adding extra syllables. All the roots are between 1 and 3 of the consonants in a word (there is a maximum of 6).
Spoiler:
Phonology and Romanisation
P: /p t k/ ⟨p t k⟩
N: /m n/ ⟨m n⟩
F: /x/ ⟨h⟩
A: /w r̆ j/ ⟨w r y⟩
V: /ɪ ɛ ʌ a/ ⟨i e u a⟩
L: /iː ɛː uː ɑː/ ⟨ī ē ū ā⟩
G: /ɪʔɪ ɛʔɛ ʌʔʌ aʔa/ ⟨i’ e’ u’ a’⟩

Word Structures
(P/N) V/L/G (P/N/F)
(V/N) P (A) V (V/N) (P/F) - NF is not possible
(V/N) P (A) V (V/N) (p/k t)
(V/N) P (A) L (P/F)
(V/N) P (A) G (N) (P/F) - NF is not possible
(V/N) P (A) G (N) (p/k t)
How should I approach it? How should I choose what vowels to put in and where? I just can't get my head around it because it seems too arbitrary.
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by elemtilas » Wed 13 Jul 2016, 18:09

OTheB wrote:I have this for my language so far. It is based around monosyllabic words. I have created a list of 140 word roots to create vocabulary from, but I have no idea how to go from root to word, or how to combine roots without adding extra syllables. All the roots are between 1 and 3 of the consonants in a word (there is a maximum of 6).

How should I approach it? How should I choose what vowels to put in and where? I just can't get my head around it because it seems too arbitrary.
There are a number of ways to go from root to word. The simplest, of course, is the "root word" itself. In English, very many words are of this kind (though, mostly on account of all the once existing morphology having been lost or misplaced somewhere): see, hear, man, girl. These serve as "roots" onto which various morphological bits can be attached (sees, hearing, men, girly); and are of course "words" in their own right.

The next most simple method is semantic broadening. This is where "girl" means not just "female child" but also, by extension, "female adult", "female friend", "female lover", etc. It can also come to be applied to boys in a deprecative way: "don't be such a girl!" Here, no morphological changes have been wrought, only additions of sense & usage.

Next, consider various morphological strategies. Here we're talking about meaningful pieces that add to the basic meaning of the root. In English, these are things like -ness, -ful, -some, wan-, un-, be-, etc. So you can take the basic root "girl" and make it "girl-like" with the addition of a suffix; and then "un-girl-like" with the further addition of a prefix.

Note that in English, not all roots work with all affixes. "In-" can often be synonymous with "un-", the former being derived from Latin, while the latter is Nativeborn. We can add "in-" to corrigible, giving incorrigible; but we can't add "un-" to make *uncorrigible. We can however add "un-" to rightable, but not "in-".

Never fear homophony or homomorphology. Sometimes morphological affixes turn out identical in form, sound or shape. That's okay! Sometimes they are utterly orthogonal as regards meaning or use; sometimes they are confusingly similar. Sometimes the same word can have two absolutely opposite meanings. Take a look at these words: "see-s" and "see-s". One is a verb, with its characteristic third person present singular ending; the other is a noun, with its characteristic plural termination. Take a look at these words: "inflammable" and "inflammable". Both are adjectives, but they mean exactly the opposite of one another. One is composed of inflam- + -able and means liable to catch fire; the other is composed of in- + -flammable and means unable to be set on fire. This happy circumstance comes about because, in Latin, the external form "in-" derives from two entirely different PIE roots, "*n̥-" (not) and "*en-" (in or into).

Another method is the atom-smasher method. As the name itself suggests, you take two roots and click them together like legos. Atom-smasher, brindle-wort, man-child, tow-truck, cheese-burger. English doesn't really care what the shapes of the two roots are, we don't care what languages they come from, we just smack em together and tell them to play nice: taco-shack, water-pump, fire-hydrant. English does have some typographical rules that determine how such root compounds are spelled (.i., whether we write them as a single word, a hyphenated word or two separate words). In my opinion, this is really neither here nor there, but as far as English goes, it's something to be aware of.

Some languages will care about the boundaries, and may require extra buffering vowels or syllables. It's entirely up to you how to go about this alchemy. In Queranaran, for example, two roots can be placed together, other instances will require a liaison syllable, still others are compounded with pseudoconjunctions: marccencranna is a kind of large, sweet black colored berry and the word is composed of marccens, sweet and cranna, berry (the -s is actually an inflexional marker, the root being marccen-); huryo-ng-lahottesse is a flatbread pitsa and the -ng- in there is simply a liaison particle, a way to smoothen the transition from one root to the next; locuala an crushardo (birth canal) - here an is a pseudoconjunction that kind of means something like "of" or "as regards to" or "in connexion with".

As for "what vowels to put in there" -- that will largely be a matter of trial and error, paying attention to what your invented language is telling you about itself and time spent with it so that you become comfortable with what sounds right.

For example, I recently came across the noun forming prefix i- in a more formal way just recently. Most Queranaran prefixes don't really affect the roots they are attached to. Some will experience or cause assimilation or a minor change in the following consonant such as voicing or devoicing. But i- has rather more far reaching effects. It not only attracts the primary stress to itself, but it also causes a chain of umlaut-like effects throughout the rest of the word. For example, the word cóyahag means "tail". Adding i-, a kind of reductive~diminutive~almost deprecative prefix, yields ícuyâg and means "penis" or "pigtail" or any kind of "clipped appendage". You can see that the stress shifts from the root to the prefix and also that the vowel O becomes U and further that the extended syllabic structure -aha- collapses into a simple long vowel. Depending on the vowels in question, various alchemies result. Point being, it took a pretty good understanding of how Queranaran should sound as well as some trial and error to get the results that fit the language best.

There is no cooky cutter answer here and no step-by-step foolproof method (even if the books say to the contrary). Just take a look at the above strategies, and any others you may come across and adapt them to the invented language you're working on.

And of course, feel free to show-and-tell or seek constructive criticism here!
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by Lambuzhao » Wed 13 Jul 2016, 18:28

years ago, I'd have taken a list of major Greek/Latin roots in English, and matched the new conlang's vocab to those.
Then, I'd make combinations of two or more new roots to make yet more vocabulary.

But this relexes too much Latin and Greek (and English), and for your purposes, if I understand you rightly, you want the new vocab to be one-syllable words.

Hmmm....

Reminds me of Chinese, where the 'beyond radical' Hanzi characters have a phonetic component and an etymological component, yet the character itself is one syllable. Mind you, not all hanzi characters work this way. BTW, this subset is called 形声字 / 形聲字 xíngshēngzì \ Semantic-phonetic compounds or pictophonetic compounds.

OtheB, you might want to investigate a strategy like that?
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Wed 13 Jul 2016, 19:32

This is all helpful. I will likely use a form of the atom-smasher method for combining roots as I have a variety of possible consonant arrangements, but this will create conflicts. For instance, "pw" is the root "to be unaffected, or turn to someone or to resist, oppose/shield". Then "kh" is the root "power/strength/might/powerful/to strengthen/to improve". So I could mash them together to get "pwkh". This goes against the consonant rules so I'd need to pick from: pwk, pwh, or kwh, all of which are roots themselves.

pwk : objects in the sky/space (clouds/sun/moon/stars)
pwh : monster/dangerous creature
kwh : mushroom/fungus
If you were wondering

Maybe a form of sound changes to retain all the consonants? I could have h > t for it to all be valid, thus giving "pwkt", but "kt" means "air/gas/fart/to smell". I could simply dismiss these, but my brain is too fond of order to let exceptions like this happen. I could even go to an extreme and have multi-word words, or maybe I should just rework my word structures so these can't arise, such as:
(V/N) P (A/P) V (V/N) (P) (t) (V) (F/N)
which yields words like "mpreipteh" which can have up to 7 consonants and would allow "pwkh". These have multiple syllables "m.preip.teh" which is a shame.

Then we come to the vowels. I'm thinking of using these in place of affixes as actual affixes would simply lead to extra syllables. I'm just not sure what "affixes" I'd need as I'm limited to 24 possible vowel variations for a given set of consonants. None of my roots give meaning such as "not" or "across" etc. so I'd need a select few of them.

Then it occurs to me that I don't know how I would decide what selection of vowels and roots would mean what. What would my earlier example mean? Should I start with a word and choose roots? Or randomly select vowels and roots until I find something I can give meaning?
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by Keenir » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 03:46

OTheB wrote:This is all helpful. I will likely use a form of the atom-smasher method for combining roots as I have a variety of possible consonant arrangements, but this will create conflicts. For instance, "pw" is the root "to be unaffected, or turn to someone or to resist, oppose/shield". Then "kh" is the root "power/strength/might/powerful/to strengthen/to improve". So I could mash them together to get "pwkh". This goes against the consonant rules so I'd need to pick from: pwk, pwh, or kwh, all of which are roots themselves.

pwk : objects in the sky/space (clouds/sun/moon/stars)
pwh : monster/dangerous creature
kwh : mushroom/fungus
If you were wondering
maybe pwakh means "invulnerable, immune"

or, if it goes against consonant rules...maybe...bwakh or pwagh? (bwagh?)
Maybe a form of sound changes to retain all the consonants? I could have h > t for it to all be valid, thus giving "pwkt", but "kt" means "air/gas/fart/to smell". I could simply dismiss these, but my brain is too fond of order to let exceptions like this happen.
the dismissable things might be useful, true -- each time you come across one, make a mark next to it. maybe they've all got something in common, either in phonotactics, meanings, or in some other way.

worst case, every language has gaps in what they can describe and what they can talk about; that'd just make your conlang even more natural.
Then we come to the vowels. I'm thinking of using these in place of affixes as actual affixes would simply lead to extra syllables. I'm just not sure what "affixes" I'd need as I'm limited to 24 possible vowel variations for a given set of consonants. None of my roots give meaning such as "not" or "across" etc.
...or at least none do as yet.
:)

or, perhaps things like "not" and "across" don't have their own words, but arise from combinations of other words - like how in English we'd say "I'm not fairly unsure I saw anything, officer"...while other languages have evidential affixes which modify their word for "see"ing based on their certainty.
Then it occurs to me that I don't know how I would decide what selection of vowels and roots would mean what. What would my earlier example mean? Should I start with a word and choose roots? Or randomly select vowels and roots until I find something I can give meaning?
and, not or.
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by Xing » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 11:08

OTheB wrote:I have this for my language so far. It is based around monosyllabic words. I have created a list of 140 word roots to create vocabulary from, but I have no idea how to go from root to word, or how to combine roots without adding extra syllables.
Well, it's difficult to have compound words without adding extra syllables. (That's one reason natural languages frequently have words with more than one syllable). It might be easier to create derivational suffixes that are non-syllabic. For instance, you could have a causative suffix -k. The question is what would happen when it's attached to a root that already ends in -k. You might let the causative form be identical to the 'basic' form of the word. Another strategy is to insert an epenthetic vowel – but that would of course violate the one-syllable constraint. (And it's another reason why natural languages frequently have words with more than one syllable...)

One could take a step back and ask, in what sense would your language be 'monosyllabic'? It's easy to have each orthographic world (=any stretch of letters that's separated from other stretches of letters by spaces) being monosyllabic. That's a matter of convention – you could choose to write each syllable as an (orthographic) word. It's probably rather easy to have each phonetic or phonological word being monosyllabic. (That means, each syllable would receive independent stress and intonation.) What most difficult is to have each semantic word being monosyllabic. A functioning language - that at least somewhat resembles natural languages – might need thousands of words for daily conversation, and tens of thousands for various forms of specialised vocabulary. (But note that it's – for various reasons – impossible to set an exact number for 'how many words there is in language X', whatever some Youtube video might tell you...) So, unless you allow for extremely complicated syllables, you might want to allow for some extra syllables here and there.
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 13:40

Xing wrote:
OTheB wrote:I have this for my language so far. It is based around monosyllabic words. I have created a list of 140 word roots to create vocabulary from, but I have no idea how to go from root to word, or how to combine roots without adding extra syllables.
Well, it's difficult to have compound words without adding extra syllables. (That's one reason natural languages frequently have words with more than one syllable). It might be easier to create derivational suffixes that are non-syllabic. For instance, you could have a causative suffix -k. The question is what would happen when it's attached to a root that already ends in -k. You might let the causative form be identical to the 'basic' form of the word. Another strategy is to insert an epenthetic vowel – but that would of course violate the one-syllable constraint. (And it's another reason why natural languages frequently have words with more than one syllable...)

One could take a step back and ask, in what sense would your language be 'monosyllabic'? It's easy to have each orthographic world (=any stretch of letters that's separated from other stretches of letters by spaces) being monosyllabic. That's a matter of convention – you could choose to write each syllable as an (orthographic) word. It's probably rather easy to have each phonetic or phonological word being monosyllabic. (That means, each syllable would receive independent stress and intonation.) What most difficult is to have each semantic word being monosyllabic. A functioning language - that at least somewhat resembles natural languages – might need thousands of words for daily conversation, and tens of thousands for various forms of specialised vocabulary. (But note that it's – for various reasons – impossible to set an exact number for 'how many words there is in language X', whatever some Youtube video might tell you...) So, unless you allow for extremely complicated syllables, you might want to allow for some extra syllables here and there.
That's a good point. My language can have a vowel or nasal at the beginning before the actual syllable which does do what you suggested somewhat, however that nasal is also in many of the roots.
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 13:44

Keenir wrote: maybe pwakh means "invulnerable, immune"
It could, but "pwakh" is not a valid word as fricatives may only proceed vowels. Maybe I could expand my phonotactics so things like "kh" and "ph" are said as /kʰ/ and /pʰ/? That would remove a lot of the conflicts but still not all of them.
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by Keenir » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 17:08

OTheB wrote:
Keenir wrote:maybe pwakh means "invulnerable, immune"
It could, but "pwakh" is not a valid word as fricatives may only proceed vowels
and that's another step...jot down some words, and when you've got five or ten or a page row, stop and switch pencils/pens, and go "okay, that's a valid word/not a valid word/its a valid word but nobody uses it these days/etc"

also, by proceed, do you mean "follow" and "succeed" or "preceed" and come before" ?
. Maybe I could expand my phonotactics so things like "kh" and "ph" are said as /kʰ/ and /pʰ/? That would remove a lot of the conflicts but still not all of them.
hm...so, would that only be fore word-final "kh" and "ph"...or for all of them?
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 18:13

Keenir wrote:
OTheB wrote:
Keenir wrote:maybe pwakh means "invulnerable, immune"
It could, but "pwakh" is not a valid word as fricatives may only proceed vowels
and that's another step...jot down some words, and when you've got five or ten or a page row, stop and switch pencils/pens, and go "okay, that's a valid word/not a valid word/its a valid word but nobody uses it these days/etc"

also, by proceed, do you mean "follow" and "succeed" or "preceed" and come before" ?
. Maybe I could expand my phonotactics so things like "kh" and "ph" are said as /kʰ/ and /pʰ/? That would remove a lot of the conflicts but still not all of them.
hm...so, would that only be fore word-final "kh" and "ph"...or for all of them?
I mean follow as that's what proceed means. The opposite of "precede".

I can only imagine the aspirated plosives working word final.

I'll take all the root forms and come up with a way of combining all of them in ways that will only produce valid words, then I can start sticking roots together.

Then I just need to define vowels. What would be 24 appropriate meaning modifiers to cover most vocab? Definitely a "not", maybe a "capable of", any others?
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by Keenir » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 19:07

OTheB wrote:
Keenir wrote:
OTheB wrote:
Keenir wrote:maybe pwakh means "invulnerable, immune"
It could, but "pwakh" is not a valid word as fricatives may only proceed vowels
and that's another step...jot down some words, and when you've got five or ten or a page row, stop and switch pencils/pens, and go "okay, that's a valid word/not a valid word/its a valid word but nobody uses it these days/etc"

also, by proceed, do you mean "follow" and "succeed" or "preceed" and come before" ?
. Maybe I could expand my phonotactics so things like "kh" and "ph" are said as /kʰ/ and /pʰ/? That would remove a lot of the conflicts but still not all of them.
hm...so, would that only be fore word-final "kh" and "ph"...or for all of them?
I mean follow as that's what proceed means. The opposite of "precede".
our dialects of English differ on that, then. for me, "proceed" suggests permission has been given, "proceed, ensign" for example.
I can only imagine the aspirated plosives working word final.

I'll take all the root forms and come up with a way of combining all of them in ways that will only produce valid words, then I can start sticking roots together.

Then I just need to define vowels.
wait...if you leave the vowels till last, how do you know that those combinations "will only produce valid words"? (I may be missing something obvious)
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 14 Jul 2016, 19:18

Keenir wrote:
OTheB wrote:
Keenir wrote:
OTheB wrote:
Keenir wrote:maybe pwakh means "invulnerable, immune"
It could, but "pwakh" is not a valid word as fricatives may only proceed vowels
and that's another step...jot down some words, and when you've got five or ten or a page row, stop and switch pencils/pens, and go "okay, that's a valid word/not a valid word/its a valid word but nobody uses it these days/etc"

also, by proceed, do you mean "follow" and "succeed" or "preceed" and come before" ?
. Maybe I could expand my phonotactics so things like "kh" and "ph" are said as /kʰ/ and /pʰ/? That would remove a lot of the conflicts but still not all of them.
hm...so, would that only be fore word-final "kh" and "ph"...or for all of them?
I mean follow as that's what proceed means. The opposite of "precede".
our dialects of English differ on that, then. for me, "proceed" suggests permission has been given, "proceed, ensign" for example.
I can only imagine the aspirated plosives working word final.

I'll take all the root forms and come up with a way of combining all of them in ways that will only produce valid words, then I can start sticking roots together.

Then I just need to define vowels.
wait...if you leave the vowels till last, how do you know that those combinations "will only produce valid words"? (I may be missing something obvious)
The vowel has no effect on what consonants can be used. If I take the consonants "pw_k" then whatever vowel I put where the underscore is will produce a valid word. So I can have all 24 of the following:
pwik, pwek, pwuk, pwak, pwīk, pwēk, pwūk, pwāk, pwi'k, pwe'k, pwu'k, pwa'k, pwiek, pwiuk, pwiak, pweik, pweuk, pweiak, pwuik, pwuek, pwuak, pwaik, pwaek, and pwauk.
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Re: Still can't do vocabulary :S

Post by OTʜᴇB » Tue 19 Jul 2016, 12:04

OK! I have it figured out. I have started making some rules for combining roots and have tweaked by syllable structure to allow an extra (P) (A) V (C) syllable to occur at the beginning of a word. Now I just need to figure out how to decide what each combination of roots actually means. I got stuck on the second one and can already tell this is going to be a very slow and painful process.
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