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I have basically landed on the desire to create a conlang with the following features (for now):

  • Only one syllable base words, which have the form cvc ccvc or cvcc (consonant and vowel). There are only about 1k-2k possibilities based on my phonology.
  • All other words are derived from these base words.
  • I might add cvcvc words, of which there are at least 50k possibilities.
  • But in essence, words never end in a vowel.

These "base" words symbolize the union of the 3:

  1. Verb: i (action)
  2. Noun: a (object)
  3. Adjective: u (feature)

So to make it into one of these 3 forms, this is what my question is. On one side, looking at Mini lang, adding a leading standalone vowel makes it so it clearly says "what comes next is a noun/verb/adjective phrase". However, I don't really like the sound of it given all my words end in consonants, it sounds too choppy. I much more like the sound of languages like italian or spanish, which mix ending in vowels with ending in consonants. The vowel-ending makes it seemingly more fluid.

So instead of doing it exactly like Mini lang, I was thinking of have a trailing joined vowel, at the last word of the noun/verb/adjective phrase.

So take this English sentence:

I quickly walked with the big gray wolf.

So while in Mini lang, (I think) you would write it sort of like this (I don't know Mini lang, so this just uses the standalon vowel letters and makes up the remaining words according to my patterns):

a mim u kwik i wak u kon dan big a gris wolf.
([object] I [feature] quick [action] walk [feature] with the big [object] gray wolf)

So it's choppy sounding. But prefixing with the standalone vowel makes it clear that what follows fits a certain pattern.

However, change it up and make the vowel joined to the end of the last word in the pattern, and it sounds smoother:

mima kwiku waki kon dan bigu gris wolfa.

But my question is, will this work out? Will it create confusion? I don't know how to reason about this and tell if it would work in the end for an SVO language. What should I learn to figure this out ,or if you know if it will work or not, what is your thinking?

Basically this is a question about the viability of two similar approaches:

  1. Prefixing a phrase with a standalone vowel.
  2. Suffixing the last word of a phrase with a joined vowel.
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  • You're already inflecting, why not double down? Go ahead and put the noun/verb/adjective marker on one end, and some sort of PNG or TAM or other agreement marker on the other end. The simplest one would be to just mark the modifier for the type of word it modifies. And you don't have to limit yourself to adjective modifying noun or verb: your own sentence has a prepositional phrase that could be parsed as a noun (wolf) modifying an adjective (kon)
    – No Name
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 9:21

1 Answer 1

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Putting a marker onto an entire phrase to indicate its role in the sentence is fairly common. We see it in English for example, where we stick 's onto a noun phrase to indicate it's the possessor of something else. In English, we specifically put this marker on a phrase, not a word, unlike in Latin:

The (king of England)'s name
*The king's of England name

The main thing to watch out for is that you can end up with a lot of these markers piling up. In English, we avoid this by always putting the marker after the phrase, and the marked phrase before its head (the thing it's attached to), which means the markers always end up inside the phrase. Sumerian puts the marker after the phrase, but puts the phrase after its head, so the markers end up on the edge of the phrase and can pile up:

mu ensik ŋirsu=ak=ak=še
mu (ensik (ŋirsu=ak )=ak )=še
name (ruler (Girsu=of )=of )=for
"for the name of the ruler of Girsu"

But this isn't necessarily a problem. Sumerian did just fine with these stacks.

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