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Questions tagged [vocabulary]

For questions about developing the vocabulary of a conlang

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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
  • 701
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. ...
user avatar
19 votes
6 answers
3k views

How to keep track of a language?

At the moment I have my fictional language written down in a notebook, but as the vocabulary increases its becoming harder and harder to find words. I am adding new words all the time, so writing ...
Ajnatorix Zersolar's user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
503 views

How can I make my conlang's borrowings naturalistic?

As something of a follow-on to my question about “naturalizing” conlangs, I’m looking for any information - actual tools would be nice, too, if available - for “borrowing”...
Jeff Zeitlin's user avatar
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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&...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 &...
Mosconi's user avatar
  • 103
10 votes
1 answer
392 views

Organizing a lexicon in a logographic writing system

A little background before my question: I am an amateur in mid-development of a logographic writing system, not necessarily a whole language with phonetics. As I develop, I don't so much care about ...
BenjaminF's user avatar
  • 203
9 votes
3 answers
453 views

Swadesh List for Verb Infinitives?

I was looking through Wikipedia's Swadesh Lists recently and wondered if there was anything like a Swadesh list for verb infinitives, similar to how Spanish verbs work (to be, to want, to eat, to know,...
FoxElemental's user avatar
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?
USERNAME GOES HERE's user avatar
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' ...
Vir's user avatar
  • 1,296
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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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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?
Gabriel Tellez's user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
310 views

Is there an open-source set of topics and vocabulary for making a language tutorial?

Does anyone provide a freely available or licensable template that conlangers can use to develop a lesson plan? Specifically, I'm thinking about how a lot of language books divide vocabulary and ...
Jetpack's user avatar
  • 221
8 votes
0 answers
92 views

Free word building in Interlingua

There is even a Wikipedia article on Free word building in Interlingua stating that it is feasible to apply derivational affixes in Interlingua productively even when none of the so-called control ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
  • 11.3k
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Nathaniel Robinson's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
111 views

Methods to avoid similarity in lexicons [closed]

When creating words I have often run into the problem that too many words sound similar even when I have allowed many different phonemes. Are there methods to avoid too much similarity between words, ...
Someone's user avatar
  • 529
7 votes
1 answer
250 views

Has anyone analysed the invented languages in the Earthsea books?

Ursula K Le Guin's Earthsea stories contain vocabulary and utterances from three invented languages. The first step to fleshing these out into fully developed conlangs would be to list all the ...
Tommy Herbert's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
180 views

What types of words should one start with when creating a language from scratch? [closed]

Is it more appropriate to start by creating nouns, verbs, general sentence structure words ie "the, a, or", or from somewhere else, when creating a language from scratch? Would it be more proper to ...
Dragon's user avatar
  • 463
6 votes
2 answers
136 views

Adding entire musical concepts to expand vocabulary

I want my language, Syn, to be as precise, efficient, unambiguous, and aesthetic as humanely possible. To do that, I think even the texture, dynamics, rhythm, and the likes should be accounted for. ...
Kyle Zabala's user avatar
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 ...
Zuzka Houšková's user avatar
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
5 votes
3 answers
723 views

How can I name my days of the week?

In my conworld, months are divided into twelve-day weeks. That seems a bit too long (since I recall that people complained that the ten-day weeks of the French Republican calendar were too long), so I'...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
5 votes
4 answers
199 views

Alternate direction systems for spatial reference

What are some alternative direction systems besides egocentric direction systems (left, right, &c)? Some natural languages use {north, south, east, west} like Guugu Yimithirr and Tzeltal (Maya) (...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,715
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). ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
5 votes
5 answers
431 views

Good Real World Languages to Base Proto-Lang Vocabulary

I'm working on a conlang that requires a LOT of work, particularly in the sound changes from proto-lang to the current version. Instead of creating a whole set of words from nothing, I am ...
Aezyc's user avatar
  • 487
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 ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
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 ...
Dannyu NDos's user avatar
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 ...
Oron61's user avatar
  • 53
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 ...
Dannyu NDos's user avatar
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 ...
Foofoo9906's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
150 views

What are some strategies for setting verbs apart from other words without knowing it's a verb

In languages with conjugated verbs there is usually a similar structure across verbs that makes them easy to recognize even if you do not know the word. For example in German, all verbs after the ...
rtpax's user avatar
  • 255
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Blue Skin and Glowing Red Eyes'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
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--...
Vir's user avatar
  • 1,296
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Mike Fleitz's user avatar
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 ("...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
3 votes
2 answers
2k views

Words for Mercy in Toki Pona?

I would like to translate Bismillah Ir-Rahmani Ir-Rahim into Toki Pona. The parts I'm struggling with are the Rahma part, and the Raheem part, as they encompass similar but subtly different meanings ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
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 ...
Dannyu NDos's user avatar
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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" ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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'...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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 ...
atzlt's user avatar
  • 193