We have minimal languages with few words, like Toki Pona, and I have made a rough language with about 4000 words which covers most of what you would need to say as base concepts (4000 base concepts), as an extremely rough estimate. Then you combine these things to get the millions of specific concepts, roughly speaking. But these languages, as far as I know, have "modern" grammars roughly speaking.
In doing a conlang, and thinking of languages like Vietnamese, Chinese, or even Hebrew, Arabic, and Swahili, you always want to make it speakable like a "modern natural language".
I have a line of imagination whereby I'm thinking that early in language evolution languages might not have been fully formed into "natural" languages like they are today. Instead they might have been, well, for lack of a better term, "primitive". By primitive I mean, they would have lacked subtle grammatical concepts and may not have even had "words" for highly abstract concepts. In thinking briefly about it, words like even "move", "make", "do", etc., these are all extremely abstract. Actions like "jump", or "sleep" or "climb" are easy to point to, as are comparing things to get adjectives like "red", or objects like "tree" and "leaf". So there is potentially a long gap in language development between realizing we need words for the abstract concepts to make it easier to talk about things, and when we just had things for the obvious concepts (things/features/actions which you can easily point to, for example).
In addition, I try and think how they could have even come to the idea of creating chains of sounds (like words), and it seems that would be a long evolution. Maybe they started realizing they could make individual sounds ("mm"), then two-sound chains ("ma"), then further 1-syllable sounds, then to two syllable sounds. Who knows. But in guessing, I would like to build a conlang which takes 1 syllable words and sequences them into a thought, without making it flow smoothly like a modern natural language.
Are there any languages like this (conlangs, creoles, etc.)? Any sources of inspiration I should take a look at?
What I'm imagining is something like:
Tree. Climb. You. Me.
Tree. Climb. You. Me.... Eat. Fruit... Take. Nap... Then. Walk. There (gesture point).
Well, really, "take" is an abstract concept. So it would be like "Nap" instead probably.
The order of the words seems like it would be more fluid rather than fixed (English is more fixed word order). You would talk slower because you need to let an imagination sink in for each word stated (in the listener), since all this is new.
- Tree (point to tree, pause for a few seconds)
- Climb (gesture climbing, pause for a few seconds)
- You (point to you, pause for a few seconds)
- Me (point to me, pause for a few seconds)
I don't have a better way of thinking about how a "primitive" language might look. I don't mean it needs to be choppy and stereotypically "caveman-like", but that's what it seems like I'm saying. But no, I am trying to say something where each word has magical meaning, which you have to ponder to understand, and use other associations and gestures to get the meaning of the speaker, before there are grammatical niceties like adpositions and such (assuming English in this example), or affixes.
Are there any conlangs like this which I could look at? If so, knowing a quick example of how it works would be helpful. If not, what about creoles or pidgins, how do they compare? If nothing comes to mind, how could you string together concepts without modern natural language grammatical niceties, in your imagination?