Reviewer: Ancient Relic Signed
April 24 2014
Chapter 10: Bonus Chapter: Nephilim Dictionary
I like the line about positive and negative words. There's a concept in linguistics called phonaesthemes. It's an idea that a sound or pair of sounds can be related to meaning. For example, glisten glimmer gleam glare and glow are all related to light, and all start with gl.
I'd recommend adding suffixes for inanimate objects, and making gender markers optional.
You should have a word or prefix/suffix that means "not". You could also have one that emphases that something is the case.
The subject of a sentence is the thing doing the action, and the object is the thing the action is being done to. In "I saw the car", I is the subject, saw is the verb, and the car is the object.
When coming up with syntax, the first question I would ask is: what's the word order? There are nine word orders, each combination of Subject Verb Object. In English, the subject comes first, then the verb, then the object. We call that SVO. Other languages have subject-object-verb, or SOV.
Another question is how flexible do you want the word order to be? English is very rigid with word order. This is because the subject and object are indicated by their position in the sentence. If you changed "I saw the car" to "The car saw me", you would change the meaning of the sentence.
Other languages, however, are very flexible. In Latin, you can put the words in any order you want, and they'll still mean the same thing. This is because Latin (and a lot of other langauges do this) indicates the subject and object by the way the noun end. Femina is a woman who is the subject of the sentence, and feminam is a woman who is the object of the sentence. Their meaning doesn't change if you rearrange the sentence, but it will change if you change the word's ending.
These are called cases. The nominative case is the subject. The accusative case is the direct object, and there's a dative case for indirect objects. In "I gave the book to you", I is the subject, the book is the direct object, and you is the indirect object. Indirect objects often appear in sentences about giving (datum is Latin for giving). This is a massively simplified account of Latin grammar, by the way.
How many cases can a language have? Finnish has 16. Most of those cases are about location. Think of it as merging a preposition with the word it modifies (this is a process that can make new cases). When making a language, you can think about how many or few words it'll use. You can use separate prepositions and have a lot of words (English is like this), or you can use a pile of prefixes and suffixes (or infixes - the one and only English infix is fan-fucking-tastic).
There are numbers you can use beyond singular and plural. Some languages have a dual number, for pairs or for two things. In Sanskrit, deva means god, devau means a pair of gods, and devaa is many gods. Other languages have a paucal number, for a few, and a trial number, for three.
With verbs, you can have a built in subject. Many Indo-European languages do this with verb endings. In Polish, mam is I have, masz is you (singular) have, ma is he/she/it has, mamy is we have, macie is you (plural) have, maja is they have.
You should think about verb tenses, aspects and moods. You have tense. Aspect is whether something is completed or not. A simple aspect distinction would be completed vs ongoing. Moods include the indicative (a statement of fact), the subjunctive (hypothetical statements - English equivalents include "Let us do this" or "Were is possible..."), or the optative (for wishes).
I need to stop sometime, before I write a new linguistics textbook.Author's Response:
Well now, this is quite a lot of information. I thank you for taking the time to write this.
First off, thanks for informing me about phonaesthemes; I didn't realize that was what it was called. Now that I know I'll probably be applying that idea more in the language. Since it is a primative language it will most likely apply only to universal constants and things that appear quite often and are related.
I'd like a bit more information on adding the suffix for inanimate objects. Do you mean a word that can be combinded with another to indicate an inanimate object? or something like the connector suffixes which for now only include past, future, and present tense? Also on the subject of gender markers; they are optional, and exist primarily for words associated with people.
A "not" word is a good idea. I could make it mean just "not" when alone and "opposite" when used in a compound word. This would reduce the total number of required words by simply allowing me to indicate when something is the opposite.
The final word order I had in mind is basically everything first then the subject. At least for now. Its hard to explain what my idea is, so I'll just post a couple of sentence examples with translation in the dictionary chapter. For now here's a basic compound word to give you the general idea. "Skiŕ’Kala" translates literally to "Foreign person". the word describing the person is in front, and the subject is in the back. If a gender marker needed to be added it would be behind "Kala" thus modifing it. Finally, "Voeŕ Skiŕ’Kala" translates to "kill foreign person" (kind of a brutal example I know). So, i guess the word order, or one of the word orders is... "Verb,object,subject". I need to think about this word order thing for a while. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
After writing this example I might just remove "Sha'Kala" entirely. It seems to create more conflict than it solves. I also already have a term for "me", which I could just expand to cover all they ways to refer to one's self. What do you think about this?
Lastly, the dual number idea is a good one. the giants are just like humans in that they have two eyes, two genders, legs, arms, etc etc. A concept to indicate duality might make a good addition to the language. Though I'm not sure about the triple number. Perhaps I could use that one, although the idea of a word to indicate duality seems like it'd be much easier to integrate.