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39 votes
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"Turing-completeness" in conlangs

The best parallel for Turing completeness in human languages is the Natural Semantic Metalanguage. The NSM proposes that there is a limited set of basic semantic concepts which all human languages ...
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35 votes
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How can syntactic ambiguity with pronouns be avoided?

Here are three options you might want to consider: Noun classes assign each noun a class (well known examples include the gender systems of Indo-European languages, and also the more elaborate ...
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29 votes

How can syntactic ambiguity with pronouns be avoided?

In addition to the options mentioned by Adarain and Jan, various reflexives and reflexive-like operations can often be of use in dealing with such situations. English already has some reflexives, ...
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18 votes

"Turing-completeness" in conlangs

A language doesn't require grammatical structures specifically for expressing something to express it. In Chinese, there aren't separate future and past tenses. At the same time, it's possible to ...
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18 votes
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What are the defining traits of a Euro-centric conlang?

The term "Standard Average European" (SAE) pretty much covers it, and has been around since the 1930s. Haspelmath listed a number of typical "Euroversals" in a portion of the 2001 book Language ...
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17 votes
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What is the difference between tense and aspect?

When discussing tense, aspect, and mood, it's important to distinguish a given language's grammatical markers from the abstract concepts being described. Thus, linguists use the words temporal ...
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15 votes

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

It should be noted that in addition to relying heavily on one strategy, it's also possible to mix strategies is various different ways, relying on different strategies to back each other up. For ...
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13 votes
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Grammar concepts required for every conlang

Darkgamma's reply wasn't wrong, but I think it slightly misses the question. One way of ensuring that your conlang is able to convey a certain meaning/feature is to grab a text and start translating ...
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13 votes

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? The ...
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11 votes

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

Expanding on Sparksbet's answer, additional features, from the conlanging point of view as listed by Mark Rosenfelder in Advanced Language Construction (pp. 30-31), that tend to pile up on top of the ...
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11 votes

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

The way these languages do this is with inflections. Nouns, for example, can be declined to show cases, which tell the speaker things about what they are doing. Verbs can be used to show who the ...
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  • 1,255
11 votes

How can syntactic ambiguity with pronouns be avoided?

In addition to Adarain’s answer, the ambiguity can also be resolved in an out-of-the-box way. For example, English can use the former or the latter in place of an inflected form of he to distinguish ...
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11 votes
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Should I include morphology in my proto language?

I am not at all certain why you would assume that protolanguages must have no morphology. PIE is just a language like any other before or since. If we review the relevant article, the Font of All ...
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10 votes
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How to break out of the English mold when creating a conlang (specifically in regards to word modifiers)?

In the long term, learning another language reasonably well is probably the only way to get a "real feel" for how things can sound natural or not in other languages. That's a very ambitious ...
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  • 319
9 votes

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

Well, y'know, ANADEW and all that, but... As far as I know, there is no natural language with a grammaticalized antiperfect aspect--i.e., an aspect where the time of the action is after the reference ...
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9 votes
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How do languages manage to make sense with a free word order?

There are three main strategies for indicating grammatical relations in languages with free word orders. It is common for languages to have more than one of these, and to my knowledge all free word ...
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  • 3,511
9 votes

Conlang where the initial consonants of words have meaning?

Many languages mark things like those you mention at the beginning of a word. Noun class in Swahili and the other Bantu languages comes to mind. It doesn't require all roots to begin with a vowel; the ...
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8 votes

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

The key principle to understanding what is being uttered or has been written is to know how to put the words into a structural context. This is often explained in simple terms using the W questions: ...
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8 votes
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How would the grammar of a conlang develop as a creole from other languages?

I would think that it relates to the power structures behind the language communities, and to their relative size. This can be kind of observed with English after the Norman invasion. The basic ...
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  • 3,331
8 votes

What verbs should be irregular in a naturalistic conlang?

The first class of verbs that is often highly irregular are the auxiliary verbs. This does not only comprise to be and to have but also the modal auxiliaries (like must, can, shall, and will). They ...
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8 votes

Should I include morphology in my proto language?

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and Proto-Afroasiatic (PAA) are just the earliest ancestors we can reconstruct with reasonable certainty for their respective language families. That does not at all mean ...
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  • 301
7 votes

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

Besides the traits of Standard Average European given in Sparksbet's answer, another defining feature is the phonology and basis of the lexicon. Eurocentric conlangs draw their phonology and their ...
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7 votes

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

Apart from the morphological / grammatical angle, we can also understand meaning by context. A mournful song sang the choir. Except in the Land of Strange Tales, we know that choirs sing songs. ...
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  • 2,910
7 votes

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

I don't know of any languages where spatial marking is thoroughly compulsory in the same way aspect often is, however I do know of some potentially interesting cases of spatial marking. A lot of ...
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  • 2,247
7 votes

Should I use “double o” in Toki Pona?

The book by jan Pije and jan Lope says: We've learned how to address people and how to make commands; now let's put these two concepts together. Suppose you want to address someone and tell them to ...
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  • 171
7 votes

Should I use “double o” in Toki Pona?

Although one of the "o"s is usually dropped, you don't have to, especially if it adds a certain emphasis to something or has some poetic value in a song etc, or maybe if you're calling someone first, ...
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7 votes

good naturalistic system for Germanic language?

A long time ago, I was involved in a project named Folkspraak to create a Germanic conlang. It was entertaining, but it did not went very far at that attempt. Some grammatical hallmarks of Germanic ...
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6 votes

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

This is pretty common in natural languages. Think about English words -- most of them have an inherent part of speech and require derivational affixes to change that. "Anger" is inherently a noun and ...
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6 votes

What are some options for alternative contrasts in demonstratives?

As the linked WALS chapter already mentions, a common distinction is to contrast near speaker/near listener/distal rather than a simple distance constrast. One way to make such as system more "...
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  • 2,247
6 votes

"Turing-completeness" in conlangs

Let's first take note that no actual Turing-complete machine has ever been built, nor can one ever be built. Modern computers are good enough approximations for most purposes, but they are in reality ...
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