Skip to main content
20 votes
Accepted

Do any conlangs have verbs that change form depending on the object?

Yes. I am not familiar with any “well-known” conlangs, but a quick search reveals that Klingon verbs inflect for both subject and object. This is a phenomenon called polypersonal agreement and it is ...
Sascha Baer's user avatar
  • 3,482
12 votes
Accepted

What are the benefits of inventing irregular verbs in one’s conlang?

Irregular verbs are naturalistic. For this reason, even an international auxiliary language, namely IALA Interlingua, has irregular verbs to match its Romance source languages (that are famous for ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
  • 11.3k
12 votes

Do any conlangs have verbs that change form depending on the object?

CALS lists 9 conlangs where the verb only agrees with P in transitives, 20 where it can agree with either A or P, and a further 127 where the verb agrees with both A and P, though of the ones listed, ...
Gufferdk's user avatar
  • 2,367
11 votes
Accepted

Can Kēlen truly be considered verb-free?

Using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage as a good baseline of what a human language can communicate, there are several core verbs: Mental predicates: THINK, KNOW, WANT, FEEL, SEE, HEAR Speech: SAY ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 3,740
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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
  • 11.3k
8 votes
Accepted

How do Romance-based naturalistic conlangs deal with the different principal parts of a verb?

I answer first for two of my own invented languages, Kerno and Loucarian. Since the question is now broadened to invented IALs, I choose to add several additional sections: Interlingua, Sabir, ...
elemtilas's user avatar
  • 3,275
8 votes
Accepted

How likely is it for conlangs to have verbs that have the same conjugation as another verb?

This is known as suppletion: when a particular verb, for whatever reason, is missing some of its forms, and they have to be filled in by another verb. This is why "go" and "went" ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 4,616
7 votes

What are the benefits of inventing irregular verbs in one’s conlang?

An invented language should have in it what the glossopoet wants to put in it. Regardless of which point of the Triangle your language most closely identifies with, there is plenty of room for ...
elemtilas's user avatar
  • 3,275
7 votes
Accepted

Can a language exist without transitive verbs?

I'm reminded of how every so often a conlanger will have the bright idea that "hey, what if there was a language with no verbs?" And yet, the grammatical relationships that are mediated by ...
Arcaeca's user avatar
  • 714
6 votes
Accepted

Swadesh List for Verb Infinitives?

It's worth noting that there are PLENTY of word frequency lists around, but almost no one ever bothers to even try compiling cross-linguistic ones (for reasons that should be pretty obvious). Lists ...
Circeus's user avatar
  • 1,572
5 votes
Accepted

What verbs should be irregular in a naturalistic conlang?

The more used a verb is, the more likely it is to resist evolution. So the most popular verbs are likely to be the most odd. This is common with auxiliaries. Sometimes, irregular verbs form when two ...
Domino's user avatar
  • 316
4 votes

What are the benefits of inventing irregular verbs in one’s conlang?

Depends on what your goal is. If you want to create an auxlang, then you should have few, if any irregular verbs. If you want naturalism, then most natlangs have at least one irregular verb, though ...
bb94's user avatar
  • 361
4 votes
Accepted

Are there languages that don't prefix verbs with "to be" or "to do" in continuous or progressive aspect and the like?

Note that continuous aspect is kind of optional. Many languages don't express it at all by default, though there are always means to express it when emphasised or needed. Here's an example from a ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
  • 11.3k
4 votes

Are there languages with five conjugations? If not, how would one construct one?

If you have two features (number/person), it seems tricky to have five options (or any other odd number for that matter). However, there is an easy way: simply collapse singular and plural for one of ...
Oliver Mason's user avatar
  • 4,133
4 votes
Accepted

Structure only conlang? Nouns?

It happens with sign languages - often there are two "versions" of a sign language, the first one (less official, natural) is generally used by the community and has its own grammar, the second one (...
Radovan Garabík's user avatar
4 votes

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

There are several options; the most obvious ones I can think of are: Position: In Hawai'an (and Klingon), the verb is at the initial position of the clause. If there are multiple clauses in a complex ...
Oliver Mason's user avatar
  • 4,133
4 votes
Accepted

Is it reasonable for numerals to behave like verbs?

One clear-cut example of a language that treats many things like predicates, numerals included, is Khoekhoe. Khoekhoe marks many kinds of predicates the same way, including numerals. The paper argues ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,715
4 votes
Accepted

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

In Lojban, cmevla (proper nouns, like .alis.) are the only words ending in a consonant. Depending on how big your vowel inventory is, you could make all verbs end in a vowel and everything else end in ...
Cecilia's user avatar
  • 1,188
4 votes

How to get rid of "for" and "of" when making a conlang coming from English, aiming toward Chinese?

If you don't want your conlang to be a reskin of English, I recommend not trying to find "the Chinese equivalent of this English word". Words don't match up one to one between languages. ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 4,616
4 votes
Accepted

Specificities of VSO languages and common ones with SVO languages

As far as universals are concerned, VSO languages are generally "head-initial", just like SVO ones. In fact, it's common for languages to be categorized into "VO" versus "OV&...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 4,616
3 votes

Are there languages that don't prefix verbs with "to be" or "to do" in continuous or progressive aspect and the like?

English has two main ways of indicating the tense/aspect/mood/etc of a verb. Mood (a real event vs a hypothetical, etc) is indicated by a word at the very beginning of the verb phrase: can, should, ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 4,616
3 votes

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

What you want to avoid the most is to have too many rhyming words. A rhyme occurs when the last vowel and any consonants following it are the same. You could end all verbs using the same consonant or ...
Domino's user avatar
  • 316
3 votes
Accepted

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

Most (?) of natlangs do it differently, not by using this "infinitive prepositions". To have some real life examples: if there is an (morphologically marked) infinitive, it is often used in ...
Radovan Garabík's user avatar
3 votes

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

The to in English marks an infinitive, which is often used as a verb complement: I plan to eat a burger. Another way of expressing the same relationship (that your intention is to eat someting) ...
Oliver Mason's user avatar
  • 4,133
3 votes

Can Kēlen truly be considered verb-free?

Relationals in Kēlen have no other purpose, so are verbs in all but name. Kēlen is an engineering language, masquerading as an art lang. It doesn't have a history or proto-lang like some other art ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
3 votes

What are the benefits of inventing irregular verbs in one’s conlang?

A benefit to having irregular verbs in your conlang is shortening common words. If common words like "to be" and "to walk" were 4-5 syllables in some conjugations, your speakers might consider it a ...
Hannah Obranovich's user avatar
3 votes

Swadesh List for Verb Infinitives?

When designing some of my recent attempts at languages, I've used a list of Proto-Indo-European roots (taken from here). Looking at the verbs covered by those roots, you get a good list of verbs which ...
Keith Morrison's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

How to structure verb phrases (as opposed to noun phrases)?

Verbs like "wake up" and "turn on" are known as phrasal verbs in English, and they have some very interesting syntactic properties. For example, "turn on" (phrasal, ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 4,616
3 votes

Are there any general rules for creating verb conjugation for a conlang?

The first you should do is separating two things: What should be expressed in the conjugation, and the concrete design of the conjugation tables. Note that languages can exist without any verbal ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
  • 11.3k
3 votes

Can a language exist without transitive verbs?

Although I am not aware of any natural language that goes without the notion of transitivity, I think it is worth a try. For a broader point of view, you may want to study morphosyntactic alignment to ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
  • 11.3k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible