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Questions tagged [grammar]

The grammar of a language, or its "rules", covers its phonology, morphology, syntax, as well as the semantics of its affixes and function words

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"Turing-completeness" in conlangs

Programming languages & programs are often said to be Turing complete when it's possible to simulate any Turing machine with it. I'm now designing a constructed language for my game and I want ...
RedClover's user avatar
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34 votes
6 answers
1k views

How can syntactic ambiguity with pronouns be avoided?

Due to the way pronouns work in place of any particular noun (subject or object) in the sentence, this often leads to ambiguous grammatical constructions. Take this phrase in English for example: ...
hyper-neutrino's user avatar
34 votes
2 answers
933 views

Are there any grammatical aspects which do not have parallels in natural languages?

In Describing Morphosyntax, Payne uses a number of diagrams for visually explaining aspects and what they say about actions relative to time. Payne outlines the following, all of which occur in ...
L. L. Blumire's user avatar
21 votes
7 answers
1k views

How do languages manage to make sense with a free word order?

Many of the world's natural languages, and some conlangs, have a free word order, so that the words can be put in any order with it still making sense. If they can't use word order to indicate the ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
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17 votes
3 answers
2k views

Grammar concepts required for every conlang

Is there a method to make sure that a constructed language contains all the necessary grammar concepts, e.g. to make sure that a concept like genitive case or a construct state is present? For ...
Christian's user avatar
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16 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the difference between tense and aspect?

Many conlangs contain tense, some contain aspect as well or instead, and much of the recommended reading for conlangers assumes that you know what tense and aspect are and what the difference between ...
Sparksbet's user avatar
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14 votes
3 answers
785 views

What are the defining traits of a Euro-centric conlang?

I know that a Euro-centric conlang is a conlang based mostly on Indo-European grammar, or more generally a conlang that is written from a worldview (conscious or not) that the "normal" language is ...
e dt's user avatar
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13 votes
4 answers
705 views

Should I use “double o” in Toki Pona?

In Toki Pona, the small word o has several meanings. In the official book Toki Pona: The Language of Good, it says The particle o has three uses: (1) after a noun phrase to show who is being ...
peterorme's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
289 views

Is the concept of “spatial aspect” attested in any natural language?

As described here, Aspect refers to the grammatical marking of the relation between topic and eventuality time, that is, it marking in what way the time an action actually occurs relates to the time ...
Sascha Baer's user avatar
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11 votes
5 answers
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What is the word “li” in Toki pona, grammatically?

In Toki pona, words are never inflected, and many words can act as a noun, verb or adjective in different contexts. The word "li" usually separates the subject from a predicate, and “e” goes before ...
peterorme's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
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What verbs should be irregular in a naturalistic conlang?

I've read that the most commonly used verbs in a language are almost always irregular, and for the most part the irregular forms of verbs can be traced to an archaic form being preserved in the ...
Scriptifex's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
352 views

Languages where the part of speech of a root is "fixed"?

By way of introduction, this question is about a quirk of Esperanto, but there is a general conlang question at the end, I promise. In Esperanto, every root has a natural grammatical part of speech, ...
Pseudonym's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
431 views

How would the grammar of a conlang develop as a creole from other languages?

Assume that the backstory of a conlang is that it developed from a set of other languages. In other words, speakers of these (different) languages were living in the same area and were communicating ...
Christian's user avatar
  • 481
10 votes
3 answers
244 views

Usage of different plural systems in the same language

Let's assume a language once had an extensive plural system, indicating singular/dual/paucal/plural distinctions on nouns, pronouns, verbs, et cetera. Over time, as has happened in real languages, ...
Keith Morrison's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
389 views

Should I include morphology in my proto language?

Most, if not all natural languages have some form of morphology, such as noun case or poly-personal agreement. However, these features are usually evolved from prepositions and auxiliary verbs, and ...
Tateran's user avatar
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9 votes
5 answers
644 views

Syntactic word that carries no meaning - is there a name for that?

Is there a name for words that exist purely for syntactic reasons and carry no lexical meaning? Reason: Some forms of sentence in my language don't have verbs, but information such as tense and mood ...
qwertyu63's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
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How can I add irregularities to a morphological paradigm?

So, I'm trying to make something with a naturalistic feel, even though the current phonetic system distinguishes about 38 phonemes... Let's say I'll tackle this later. I have issues with grammar... I ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
153 views

What are some options for alternative contrasts in demonstratives?

Most languages contrast demonstrative in a "here/there/over there" distance system, with two to five grades (with some referring to the hearer's location too). I'm looking for a different concept for ...
Circeus's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
99 views

State-based analogue to distributive case

I am developing conlang that has grammatical cases system for nominals that for each spatial case there is state-based case. In Finnic languages grammatical cases that denote states occur, examples ...
Мікалас Кaрыбутоў's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
182 views

good naturalistic system for Germanic language?

I hope this isn't too redundant of a question... I was hoping somebody could briefly summarize what general features languages descended from proto-Germanic tend to have? I understand all the ...
helsy's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
195 views

In what ways are grammatical genders useful?

In a previous question about making a language easy to learn as a second language I suggested that grammatical genders have very little usefulness. A couple of people, however, suggested that ...
Kevin's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
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How to conjugate "fhtagn" in R'lyehian?

The accepted translation of Lovecraft's "Cthulhu fhtagn" seems to be "Cthulhu dreams". How would one conjugate "fhtagn" to get the word derivations "dream", "dreamer", "dreaming". This answer had a ...
George C's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
190 views

Would these features be naturalistic in this scenario?

Background I am planning a naturalistic Goidelic language which shall have quite an influence from Old Norse – probably at least 1/4 or 1/3 of the vocabulary to be of North Germanic origin, as well ...
Tomsk's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
231 views

Is Irrealis and Evidentials Compatible?

I and other people are making a collaborative conlang. It features mood/evidentiality contrast. There are 4 moods: Indicative Imperative Optative Conditional There are also 6 evidentials: Direct ...
Xwtek's user avatar
  • 173
7 votes
3 answers
159 views

What features should I include in a presentation of a heavily inflected conlang that copies the format of 19th century grammars?

I'm toying with an idea for my next project: Remember those old-fashioned grammars of heavily infected languages with reams of paradigms for declensions, conjugations, and agreement rules--not to ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
189 views

Where should I start planning my grammar?

I'm about creating my first conlang grammar, I know a few general characteristics yet I don't truly know where or how I should start to outline it. I only have messy pieces of informations about. From ...
Meymey's user avatar
  • 71
7 votes
1 answer
108 views

Term for the converse of "instrumental"

We can make a noun for the instrument of an action, by taking the verb for the action and adding an instrumental marker.[1] For instance, in English, we can add "-er",[2] like so: I cut the box ...
Tim Pederick's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
301 views

Conlang where the initial consonants of words have meaning?

A lot of languages, both natural and constructed, mark things like part of speech, gender/noun class, tense, and what not with suffixes. But what about prefixes? I think that would make more sense ...
user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
156 views

Can a language exist without transitive verbs?

I'm developing my first conlang (no name yet) for a story and came up with an interesting idea: all verbs are intransitive, and objects are added with prepositions. So, a sentence like "I eat ...
solarisNT's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
211 views

How can I explain the origin of the dual number in my Slavic-influenced East Nordic conlang?

The language I am creating is derived from East Norse and heavily influenced by Slavic. It has a quite complex grammatical structure - for example, it has not only taken over the two additional cases ...
MedwedianPresident's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
100 views

How to Indicate Idea Flow

Are there any other schemes to indicate the flow of words/thoughts in writing? (Outside of what I have researched.) I am specifically asking about how languages present complete grammatical statements ...
PipperChip's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
136 views

Does Dovahzul have the same grammar rules as English, or are they different?

I have recently been reading this page about the Dragon Language, and I was curious about whether if it and the English language share grammer rules. They seem to have similar bases (organized ...
The Mattbat999's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
147 views

How to reanalyse collectives in High Valyrian?

Note: For the purposes of this question, please do not assume that the Tongues of Ice and Fire Wiki is correct1 unless it references somewhere else. The High Valyrian [grammatical] number page of the ...
Mithrandir24601's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
390 views

How to break out of the English mold when creating a conlang (specifically in regards to word modifiers)?

I am working on a conlang. I have to some degree (i.e. a little bit) studied the grammar of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Sanskrit, and Hebrew, and know Spanish relatively well in comparison from ...
Lance's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
692 views

Does the grammatical and polysynthetic structure of my language preclude poetry?

My conlang, called Pandemonic for now, is a language with OSV word order, that uses synthetic prefixes and postfixes to both nouns and verbs. Only adjectives and adverbs, which always follow the word ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
275 views

Do we know languages which think about subordinate conjunctions (like 'as,' 'even,' 'while') differently than English does?

for my conlang, I am trying to think of how to do the subordinating conjunction 'as,' 'even,' 'while' (and related: 'even though,' etc.). In the languages that I know well enough to use these words (...
Vir's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
172 views

Structure only conlang? Nouns?

Are there examples of conlangs that are used by applying their structure such as grammar, sentence structure, intonation, means of combining words, etc… with other features of a given language or ...
alan2here's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
3 answers
194 views

Tips for making a conlang that uses an abjad?

I've been looking at Classical Hebrew a lot for inspiration on some features it has. Turns out, it wasn't what I expected (such as that its not actually a VSO language, it just looks like that due to ...
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
41 views

Lower than / Covered by

I am wondering if there is a distinction in any natural language between a preposition or postposition with the meaning "lower than" and a different preposition or postposition with the ...
Cheelin's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
304 views

Language with nominal TAM and no verbs: Ergative or tripartite?

I'm working on a language with nominal tense–aspect–mood (TAM), i.e. inflecting nouns instead of verbs. So, a sentence like "the woman sees the man", could be roughly translated to something like "the ...
MoholyNagy's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
143 views

How can I make complex relative clauses?

I can make simple relative clauses that share arguments just fine, but I struggle with certain clauses. Take the following English sentences: Someone killed* a person* I hated the killing*. You saw a ...
Mlvluu's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
2 answers
262 views

Soudwegian: A Swedish-German process similar to what happened to English and French?

The idea is that the Swedes retain a small bit of what is nowadays German territory that they conquered in the 17th century. This is now independent territory, Soudway, with a language of its own ...
Luís Henrique's user avatar
4 votes
6 answers
196 views

Help, drowning in Dative---What should inform my conlang's exact usage of it? Do languages ever have a "miscellaneous" case?

I am a native English speaker that wanted to make a conlang.... recipe for disaster, I know. My language has Nominative, Accusative, Dative and Genitive. I was having difficulty internalizing how to ...
CJ Lynx's user avatar
  • 49
4 votes
2 answers
127 views

I need help with understanding perfect, perfective, perterite, and pluperfect

After reading the definitions of perfect past, perfective past, preterite past, and pluperfect past, I am confused as to what their distinctions are. They all are past tense forms indicating a ...
Ylahris's user avatar
  • 633
4 votes
2 answers
96 views

Are words based on acronyms treated differently when the language changes over time?

Do sound and grammar changes affect acronyms, that can be pronounced as words, differently than other words in a language? Are words based on acronyms treated differently or not when sound/grammar ...
EveryBitHelps's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Do I really need plural grammatical number when my conlang deals with existence and uniqueness?

I continued building my conlang, and it's time to deal with grammars of nouns. In my conlang, nouns are categorized into three: countable, measurable, and abstract. This question is about countable ...
Dannyu NDos's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
228 views

How to prevent pronoun dropping in my language?

I have an idea for a language I am toying with where sentences have a fairly rigid structure, unfortunately I get the feeling that if I were to start with a precursor protolang (as part of me ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
129 views

What is the second most elaborate constructed language up to date after Esperanto?

What would be the most elaborate constructed language today in terms of size of vocabulary, complexity of grammar, number of exceptions to the rules of the language, etc.? If we exclude Esperanto, of ...
Maksim's user avatar
  • 259
4 votes
1 answer
64 views

is it naturalistic for a language to change alignment like this?

I'm working on another conlang for my world and its evolution, and one of the defining qualities of its handling for transitive verbs in sentences is using nominative-accusative alignment, but ...
Zackbuildit777's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
37 views

Is this lojban sentence grammatically correct?

Is "ta se klama" grammatically correct? Could I say "That is gone to" in lojban, without adding a zo'e to my sentence? Or would it have to be "That is gone to by something&...
Jayden Szymanski's user avatar