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Questions tagged [vocabulary]

For questions about developing the vocabulary of a conlang

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8 votes
7 answers
2k views

How many words should I create in a conlang?

Question 1: How many words are minimal for a naturalistic conlang? (1000, 1500, 3000 or even more) Question 2: How many words do the conlangers usually create?
0 votes
1 answer
54 views

Pros/cons for grasping/groking/using novel concepts, new made up words (sound sequences) or multi-word terms composed from simple words?

I am back to thinking about how one could best represent the plethora of concepts from the human perspective. Whether we should invent new words (which are basically arbitrary sound sequences, using ...
8 votes
2 answers
404 views

Designing a vocabulary for geographical features

I want to draw a map of a fictional world resembling Europe in climate and basic geographic features (so there are rivers and lakes, alpine mountains, mittelgebirge, marsh lands and bogs, some plains ...
6 votes
1 answer
185 views

Naming language based on real language

I apologize if similar question has already been answered, I tried to look for it but didn't find anything. I'm trying to make a simple naming language that looks/sounds vaguely like nahuatl (if I ...
7 votes
1 answer
221 views

Creating Fictional Slavic Place Names

I have a very simple question regarding a small problem I cannot find a single satisfying answer to. I am trying to create a country with a prominent Slavic culture. In my story, an alien world has ...
3 votes
1 answer
57 views

Polysemies in Proto-Languages: Ways of Formation & Construction?

I'm curious about (and also stuck at) the natural formation and ways of construction of polysemies in naturalistic conlangs / natural languages. More specifically: I'm constructing the vocabularies of ...
-1 votes
2 answers
75 views

What exactly is meant by gerund words in English, and how to translate them into this conlang?

I have a conlang with a very simple grammar. All words are "base words" and start and end with a consonant, and there are 5 vowel suffixes to convert those base words to the 5 forms of words ...
1 vote
1 answer
29 views

To limit or not to limit vocabulary in a conlang, what are the possibilities?

I have a list of ~4k words in my conlang, which I've boiled down from English concepts to what I would call the "base list" of words. In theory, everything can be built upon these words. I ...
3 votes
2 answers
139 views

Is there a general strategy to build vocabulary for chemical elements?

I continued building vocabulary for my conlang, and now I'm trying to name chemical elements. Here's the concept: The major speakers of this conlang are angels, and some of them have lived for a long ...
4 votes
1 answer
92 views

Term for common derivational suffixes which are also standalone words

I'm here trying to learn a better term for the type of suffix I seem to have made. I'm writing a grammar, so I'd like the term to seem right to folks like you. Compounds? Like compound word modifiers--...
2 votes
2 answers
62 views

How is it not ambiguous that the parts don't add up to the whole when creating compound words?

This question was sparked off a recent question: Are Sanskrit words more than the sum of the parts? I am serious when I ask, because as an outsider to Sanskrit, I would think the parts would add up to ...
3 votes
1 answer
56 views

Are there languages where traditional verb features exist on nouns, or noun features on verbs, etc.?

I am looking at the sidebar on Wikipedia. Are there languages which have "case" or "gender" or "number" or other "noun features" but instead of (or in addition ...
10 votes
4 answers
350 views

How do swear words work in real languages?

How many swear words should you have in a conlang, and how are they designed? What is their purpose really? And should any other "regular" words be constructed out of them? Like if "bar&...
23 votes
10 answers
4k views

What's a good starting place to work on vocab?

Obviously, generating a lexicon is very time-consuming, and there's so much that needs to be done, I often find myself suffering with analysis paralysis, because I just can't decide where to begin. ...
5 votes
1 answer
299 views

Is it natural that different quantities with the same physical dimension are distinguished by adverbs?

My conlang is very literal to human perception, and I continued building vocabularies for physical quantities. Though in a previous question, I brought an exotic trick to describe length (namely, give ...
1 vote
1 answer
68 views

How do languages which have adjectives after the noun work with complex phrases?

Say I have a phrase like these: The seat of the great rock of the north. = The north('s) great rock's seat - 北方(的)巨石的基座/底盤. The man of the forest of the east. = The east('s) forest's man - 東方(的)叢林的男人....
2 votes
0 answers
30 views

Theoretical way to limit terms in a conlang while also allowing for distinguishing similar concepts/things?

I am working on a conlang (took a little break). I would like to limit the number of "terms" (single words, either 1 or 2 syllables) to less than or equal to 10,000. Given the word-formation ...
2 votes
2 answers
76 views

Are there examples of languages where prepositions are treated as nouns/verbs/adjectives instead?

I am struggling figuring out how to consider "function" words (like particles or prepositions) in a conlang. Verbs, nouns, and adjectives have been relatively straightforward but not these ...
4 votes
1 answer
116 views

The pros and cons of having the same word be a noun, verb, and/or adjective at the same time?

I have this burgeoning principle of "let all words be in a base form such that the base form means the abstraction behind a noun, verb, and adjective". Then you realize a word into one of ...
2 votes
2 answers
70 views

Do you make a word then give it meaning, or do you think of a meaning and assign a word to it?

I wonder which is more effective, creating a list of conwords then giving definitions or, creating a list of definitions then assigning conwords?
5 votes
2 answers
387 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
50 views

Do all words derive from one word form, or can one word form have many similar meanings in different parts of speech?

I am basically getting to the crux of my assumption in the conlang I am working on. That is, treating every word as a "base", which can be realized into either a verb, noun, or adjective, or ...
1 vote
1 answer
53 views

Ways of having the equivalent of -ed (past participle) or -ing (present participle/gerund) in conlang?

You can turn verbs/nouns into adjectives using participles like this: The big-eyed monkey. The jumping spider. The loved rabbit. However, I don't think these structures exist in Chinese, for example,...
3 votes
2 answers
59 views

How to turn "with", "and", "together", and related words/constructs into verbs or nouns?

I am trying to have every word have a corresponding noun and verb, to see if it's possible. Currently I am focusing on prepositions, which need some massaging for the conlang I'm working on, as I don'...
5 votes
1 answer
211 views

How can my conlang say "hot/cold" without ambiguity?

I'm creating a conlang for worldbuilding, and I'm building vocabulary for basic physical adjectives such as "long/short", "heavy/light", and "hot/cold". The major ...
2 votes
1 answer
92 views

Technique to use lots of homonyms and not make things confusing in a conlang?

I just learned today really how prevalent homophones are in Chinese, some of which are listed here. I asked a similar question about how to say Chinese sentences using all the variations of meaning of ...
7 votes
3 answers
225 views

How do languages distinguish formal and casual noun phrases?

It turns out that it appears Chinese has about 100 "base" (1-character) words for various foundational animals, and then the rest of the animals are combinations of those bases (or other ...
3 votes
3 answers
179 views

How to structure sentences to be able to distinguish between verbs, nouns, and adjectives etc.?

In my budding conlang called Tune, I have "base" words which start and end with a consonant, either 3, 4, 5, or 6 sounds, with 1 or 2 vowels. Examples: tun ("tune") tunan ("...
2 votes
2 answers
138 views

What is the difference between city, county, state, and nation (and others)?

This is kind of along the lines of my last question on why words for "say", "tell", and "talk", etc.. But it is more philosophical, not sure if it's better for the world-...
3 votes
2 answers
173 views

Why does English have the word "say", "talk", and "tell", on what to create words for in a conlang?

I am going through word lists in a few different languages and am noticing what they make into words. In Hebrew, for example, they have words both for to x and to be x-ed, like "to merge" ...
2 votes
1 answer
210 views

What to do when my conlang has a word that means something in one of my languages?

This is a bit subjective problem. As a Hungarian who knows English, I have the high ground when it comes to making up words, as I can mush the English and Hungarian words together with some outliers (...
2 votes
2 answers
79 views

What parts of speech (nouns, adj., verbs, etc.) could be limited to make a language with fewer words?

Essentially, in the English language how many adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, etc. could be combined to make the language possess a single word for a term. E.g. huge, giant, enormous, and big could ...
3 votes
2 answers
190 views

How to safely import loan words in a conlang?

Some examples of loan words: Human names like "Paul" or "Bhavya". Proper nouns like "White House" or "United States". Using any word at all from the other ...
8 votes
4 answers
158 views

How many different interjections like 'aha,' 'oh' would you make up for a conlang?

I wonder if other people have thoughts and experience on this topic from the conlanging perspective. Have people with lots of translation experience found the distinction between (for example) 'aha' ...
4 votes
1 answer
106 views

How would a language of whistles work

The language consists of 3 different tones: high, medium, and low. There are trills (~), chords(=), neutral tones (-), rising tones (<), falling tones (>), and rising/falling tones (^). Would ...
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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
100 views

Evolution of irregular declensions and conjugations from reconstructed proto-languages

In designing an artificial dialect of the Greek Language, most words and inflections have predictable patterns with a well-guessed/documented evolution which show the origin of the word's roots and ...
3 votes
3 answers
555 views

I want to build a language that expresses the maximum amount of information with minimal words spoken

I'm trying to come up with a conlang for a setting where spoken word casts magic etc. In this case, a group of wizards, etc. Develop arcadian, which functions to give the most information with the ...
4 votes
2 answers
335 views

How do conlangs/natlangs have prefixes suffixes and not get them jumbled up?

When thinking how to build a conlang system of prefixes/suffixes, I get stuck right at the beginning: how do you prevent clashes within the prefix/suffix/base system? By that I mean the following. Say ...
5 votes
2 answers
129 views

How do I change the word order of this complex sentence?

I have an English sentence that I need to switch the word order of so I can translate it into my conlang smoothly, but the sentence is pretty complex and I’m not sure how to go about it. The sentence ...
5 votes
3 answers
195 views

Words for numbers in a language with bijective numeration

Bijective base-k numeration (or k-adic numeration) is a system of writing numerals such that the digits are 1 through k. Thus counting in bijective base-12 (such as my conlang Atili has) works as ...
5 votes
3 answers
112 views

What is the variety of ways one can deal with absorbing words from different languages in a conlang?

The conlang I am working on has very strict rules on word formation: They must start and end with a consonant They can only have single vowels between consonants (which can be in consonant clusters). ...
5 votes
2 answers
151 views

How long do words get in other languages, and how hard are long words to say or read?

So I have a list of basic words in my budding conlang. I would like to construct compound words now, like we do with Latin/Greek in English (e.g. "hyacinthoides"). One word I can create in ...
2 votes
2 answers
92 views

What are some key languages which don't have distinctions between me, myself, and I?

I am working on a conlang and would like to treat "I" or "me" or "myself" as one thing, "me", as a noun I guess. Are there languages that do this, that don't ...
4 votes
2 answers
172 views

How to create words which will be unambiguously parsable in a conlang?

Right now I am working on this, a list of words to translate into the conlang. At first I started by manually deriving the words from Hebrew/Arabic/Sanskrit/Greek/Latin/English/Spanish, but then found ...
2 votes
2 answers
120 views

How do you write a language without the word "to" preceding verbs?

I am working on a fantasy language and am perplexed by the true meaning of the word "to" in English, at least when it appears before a verb, as in these sentences. I want to go somewhere. I ...
10 votes
2 answers
141 views

How to modernize a dead language vocabulary

This is an enthusiastic question: Currently I'm studying Akkadian for fun, but as it is a dead language, the vocabulary may have some missing words/concepts. For example, I didn`t found a word for &...
5 votes
1 answer
232 views

Syllabic restriction/word boundaries set by IPA? Or it is decided by language creator

When creating syllables we basically require an onset, nucleus, and a coda. Now, usually, all language have an onset, and the coda is fairly optional. Before creating a phonetic system, we first ...
8 votes
2 answers
817 views

What is the minimum number of words needed for a conlang?

What would the minimum number of words needed for a conlang, while still being able to speak with about the same level of information passed as a natural language?
5 votes
3 answers
376 views

Is there any general rule for constructing a word? Example: "q" or "w" should not end a word, something like this

I am developing 4 conlangs (sparish, old sparish, elvian and barrish (need a new name)) for a story which is used by humans of Spar, Northern Sparian, Elves/Aspian, Barrians of south respectively. I ...