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18 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 ...
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11 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, ...
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11 votes
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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 ...
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11 votes
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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 ...
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 ...
8 votes
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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, ...
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6 votes
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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 ...
  • 1,512
4 votes
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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 ...
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 ...
  • 3,636
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 (...
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 ...
  • 3,636
4 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
  • 1,071
4 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. Think of the activities which were more common during the evolution of the ...
  • 296
4 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 ...
  • 2,965
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 ...
3 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 ...
  • 351
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 ...
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 ...
  • 296
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 ...
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) ...
  • 3,636
2 votes
Accepted

Is it attested for noun classifiers to be coopted for directionality?

Such a system is indeed attested! And not only that, it’s actually surprisingly common. Usually the category is called andative and venitive, for ‘going’ and ‘coming’ respectively (though I prefer ‘...
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2 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, ...
  • 1,356
1 vote

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

The thing about languages is that they can all say the same things. If it can't say something, it hasn't come across the concept yet. And when it has, it will make up or borrow a word to fill the gap. ...
  • 211
1 vote

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

There is of course Esperanto, conflating 2nd person singular and plural (let's ignore ci), very much the same as in English. Although, since the verb does not change (by person/number), I would not ...
1 vote

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

Existing Other Person Conjugations The wikipedia page on Grammatical Person, has this to say (emphasis mine): Some Algonquian languages and Salishan languages divide the category of third person into ...
  • 111
1 vote

What verbs should be irregular in a naturalistic conlang?

Well, the statement is demonstrably untrue. Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) doesn't have irregular verbs, because verbs aren't conjugated. Quechua doesn't have any. And languages like Inuktitut has ...
1 vote

Swadesh List for Verb Infinitives?

Note that a break down of concepts according to part-of-speech (like verb, noun, adjective, adverb, etc.) does not generalise well over the languages of the world. The amount of verbs—whatever you ...
1 vote

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

While international auxiliary conlangs based on Romance languages, such as the ones you're thinking of, typically get rid of most of the verbal conjugation, there are in fact naturalistic Romance-...
1 vote

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 ...

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