6 Key Phrases for Testing/Creating Your Conlang

He doesn't want dem apples.
I got some cool ideas last week from Tim Ferriss. For any readers who haven't heard of him, look him up - he is an amazing guy who likes to find ways to beat the game, rather than play the game. I was watching this video and I wondered if I could apply any of his ideas to conlanging. Hestarts talking at the 6:35 mark about learning languages and he mentioned that using the following phrases helped one better understand the grammar and mechanics of a language (10:02 mark):

The apple is red.

It is John's apple.

I give John the apple.

We want to give him the apple.

He gives it to John.

She gives it to him.

I thought that it makes sense that the reverse must be true as well - that you should be able to use these as a way of testing out/creating the grammar and mechanics of your conlang! I wanted to try this out in a couple of simple ways to illustrate the concept, but we'll just do one per post.

First, let's use the "English as a conlang" concept I used once before.
Phonology: b, d, g, k, l, v, z, th (as in "the"), zh (as in "mirage"), w, ee, ay, aw, o, oo.
Morphology: (VC)CVC(I) (V=vowel C=consonant I=inflection, and parentheses means "optional") for nouns, verbs, and adjectives; (V)V(C) for everything else.
Syntax & grammar: OSV (Yoda syntax). Inflection is -ee: future tense (will be doing), -ay:  plural , -aw: descriptive/adjective, -o: past tense (was doing), -oo: present tense (is doing).
Vocabulary: the = ayth, apple = awbbul, red = wayd, John = Zhawn, give = geev, want = wawn, I = Eeawt, we = eezh, he = eeoz, him = ayoz, she = eeov, her = ayov. Is/be doesn't work in this morphology so I'm changing it to "bawz."

Red the apple is-being. = Waydaw ayth awbbul bawzoo. (add the -aw inflection to make red/wayd an adjective)
John's apple it is-being. = Zhawnaw awbbul eed bawzoo. (Rather than using apostrophe s to connote ownership as in English, John's name becomes an adjective here)
The apple to John I am-giving. = Ayth awbbul od Zhawn Eeawt geevoo. (I becomes Eeawt - pronounced like "yacht")
The apple to him we are-wanting to be-giving. = Ayth awbbul od ayoz eezh wanaw geevay. ("want to give" is shown by the current tense wanting and future tense giving)
It to John he is-giving. = Eed od Zhawn eeoz geevoo.
It to him she is-giving. = Eed od ayoz eeov geevoo.

As I was generating these translations I learned things. For example, I originally made the morphology (C)V(V) for everything else, but realized that with the inflections I noted, the last vowel of every word becomes important. So I reversed it to make the rest of it work. Look out for things like this as you test your conlang rules with these phrases.

And now you're a Four Hour Conlanger.

1 comment:

vidhatanand said...

Learning any language is hard. The main tedium is to learn Vocabulary and Grammar of Conlang. The words are many and to understand the context, meaning should be understood. For that one should have a strong hand over one's Vocabulary.