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I'm creating Merovian (meroo) constructed language since about 2004 and I have yet to settle down on standartisation. Merovian currently has 5 word groups and "other words".

Noun Verb Adjective Science/Field of study/Work industry Executor/Noun conjugated in a way that refers to the agent who's doing the thing non represents

Other words are broad, catch-all category that includes items such as: and, if, me, you, us, also, etc.

Is there a word category I absolutely must have?

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  • Klingon (tlhIngan-Hol), which was created by a linguist, claims to have only nouns, verbs, and "chuvmey", with chuvmey covering anything that's not a noun or a verb. May 25, 2023 at 11:06
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    Curious: why is "Science/Field of Study/Work/Industry" a whole category separate from "Noun"? Also, why is "Executor/Noun" also separate from "Noun"? It looks a lot like an agent noun.
    – elemtilas
    May 31, 2023 at 4:08
  • You are correct. It is an agent noun. I was already "translating back to English" from my creation. The difference is, say you have a noun "wood" - you can add a suffix thus rendering a woodworker (agent) or forestry (field). The intention here is to decrease necessary words to describe the thing/agent/field into one word as that is one of the most common structures all languages have anyway. A real example: ariket (architecture, planning), ariketer (architect, builder), ariketeo (architecture, science). This is meant to be as antithesis of immense synonyms virtually all languages have.
    – Artis Zel
    Jun 6, 2023 at 8:32

2 Answers 2

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Word


You can get away with having only one category, and this has been done before. I won't claim to have read very deeply into how it works, but Tom Breton came up with an invented language in the 1990s that works at least as a proof of concept that you can get away with making a language that has only nouns in it. Technically, in addition to all of its nouns, he uses four grammatical "operators", which are punctuation marks, but those could easily be replaced by nonce words.


Check out this ancient relic of an invented language in all its ur-internet glory here! --- ALLNOUN.

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It seems to be generally agreed that all languages have "nouns" and "verbs"—or if you prefer, some way to refer to entities and some way to refer to predicates.

Everything else is optional, or can be covered by one of these categories. Treating pronouns as a subset of nouns, for example, is quite common. In Swahili, many English adjectives are expressed with nouns instead: to say that something's green you use -a kijani, literally "of leaf". Same for most prepositional phrases: "the cat is in the box" is paka iko ndani ya sanduku, "cat is-located interior of box". Akkadian uses nouns for most English determiners and quantifiers: "all the kings" is šarrū kalû=šunu "kings, entirety of-them". In Mandarin, most English adverbs and prepositions are expressed with verbs, sometimes called "coverbs": instead of doing something "for you", you attach the extra verb phrase bāng nǐ "(and) help you".

The hardest things to reduce to either nouns or verbs are small grammatical markers, like "and" (a conjunction). But some languages do without these entirely: in Ancient Egyptian, for example, there's usually no explicit marker of how one sentence connects to the previous one. Others, like Biblical Hebrew, mark this on the verb instead of using a separate word.

So, is there any language that has only nouns and verbs, and no other categories? Probably not. I certainly can't think of any. But for any category other than nouns and verbs, there's some language that doesn't have it. So the answer to "is there any other category I absolutely must have" is no. Every other category can be done without.

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