What's next?

If you're new to these arts, this is the place to ask "stupid" questions and get directions!
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Dixi
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What's next?

Post by Dixi »

I'm new to conlanging. I recently learned what is all about and I'm thrilled about making my first conlang. I already selected a phonology for my conlang, created a handful of root words and a fixed syllable structure. However, not having knowledge about linguistics, I have no idea about what is next, you could say I am suffering from "conlanger's block". Could I have some ideas about how the next step would be and some help overall? Thanks.
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lsd
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Re: What's next?

Post by lsd »

the only real advice for conlang is to use it to make it live...
a simple way is to translate, translate and translate...
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sangi39
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Re: What's next?

Post by sangi39 »

Dixi wrote: 19 Nov 2019 16:53 I'm new to conlanging. I recently learned what is all about and I'm thrilled about making my first conlang. I already selected a phonology for my conlang, created a handful of root words and a fixed syllable structure. However, not having knowledge about linguistics, I have no idea about what is next, you could say I am suffering from "conlanger's block". Could I have some ideas about how the next step would be and some help overall? Thanks.
A handy start for me was Mark Rosenfelder's Language Construction Kit (which he eventually wrote up as a book, but I haven't read that yet), which is specific to conlanging, of course, but also looking into what real-world languages do (for example, look at the grammars of languages like Japanese, Navajo, Latin, or whatever you can get your hands on), and even trawl through Wikipedia articles (for example, start with articles on phonology, morphology, grammatical category, and syntax, and just read and click).

I tend to say this a lot, but, honestly, nothing solves "conlanger's block" like a good bit of reading. For example, I knew I wanted Proto-Sirdic to have grammatical gender, but I didn't want to use the same sort of masculine/feminine/neuter systems seen in Indo-European languages. So, I sat down, Googled "grammatical gender" and just got to reading until I stumbled across a language that had a system that made me go "woah, cool, that could work", and got to making it work.

Another thing a fair chunk of conlangers do is create a culture/world that the conlang can exist within. As you flesh out the culture and the word, you might find that there are parts of your language, especially the vocabulary, that might also need fleshing out.

Another aspect some conlangers look into, which sometimes plays into conworlding (the creation of constructed worlds), is historical linguistics (again, reading being a thing worth diving into here). This can lend a hand in creating "quirks" within the language (like morphophonology, grammatical irregularities, suppletion, and you can also use it as a sort of "handwave" for lexical borrowings, i.e. there are a handful of borrowings in English that come from Hindi, and you want to do something similar you can either come up with a whole language and then borrow from it, or just create a quick sketch of a language, cobble together a few words and say "these words were borrowed into X from Y" and call it a day).

Definitely reading though. Start out with what you know, and expand from there. And, of course, never be afraid to ask questions [:D]
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Pabappa
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Re: What's next?

Post by Pabappa »

Everybody has their own style. I've never read any kind of help manual at all, although I've read up on a few natlangs here and there ... so my strategy is just to brute force everything until I find something that works.

I dont recommend my method, unless you're willing to spend 20 years on one language and still have just a few dozen words and a phonology, but one advantage of doing it this way is that I know what I *dont* like and wont waste time creating more languages like the ones Ive discarded. And beside all of the failed projects, I did eventually make a language I love, that has 7000 words and a relatively complete grammar. But it's taken me a long time.

Also my languages are not very realistic. If you want realism, it helps a lot to know how natural languages work. But if realism isnt your goal, you probably wont need to do quite as much work to get something you like.
I'll take the theses, and you can have the thoses.
Tanni
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Re: What's next?

Post by Tanni »

Dixi wrote: 19 Nov 2019 16:53 I'm new to conlanging. I recently learned what is all about and I'm thrilled about making my first conlang. I already selected a phonology for my conlang, created a handful of root words and a fixed syllable structure. However, not having knowledge about linguistics, I have no idea about what is next, you could say I am suffering from "conlanger's block". Could I have some ideas about how the next step would be and some help overall? Thanks.
In a certain sense, "next" to phonology is morphology. (Or even more precise morphophonology, especially if your language should encompass vowel harmony.) If your language is not totally isolating (isolating means that you do not want morphology), then you could go on with making inflectional affixes. An affix is a generic term for prefix (which is added to your word root at the beginning) or a suffix (which is added to the word root at the end). Many languages have suffixes, e. g. the English -s in plural forms like cats or dogs. There are also infixes and circumfixes. An example for a circumfix is the German word ge-bau-t (built), where the circumfix is ge- -t. It is derived form the infinitive "bauen", which means "to build". The -en is a suffix, which can mean either the infinitive or the first Person plural or the third Person plural. (This is called syncretism) The root is "bau". The root can also be used as a noun: "der Bau", meaning "the construction", "the building" or "the structure".

So you can make up a paradigm for your verbs, where prefixes and suffixes indicate the categories Number and Person:

Assume the word root for "to come" is "rel". You have 1th, 2nd and 3rd Person: I; you; he, she, it in the Singular (In English, there is a Gender distinction in the third person singular) and also in the Plural: we, you, they. You might wish to show the category of Number by a prefix, e. g.
se- for Singular and ma- for plural. You might want to show the category Person by suffixes: -it for 1th Person, -ul for 2nd Person and no marking for 3rd Person. Then, your paradigma would look like that:

I come -- serelit
you come -- serelul
he,she, it comes -- serel

we come -- marelit
you come -- marelul
they come -- marel

One possibility for vowel harmony would be to change the vowel of the suffix so that it fits to the vowel of the word root:
As the sound [e] is a front vowel, you might wish that the vowel in the suffix is also fronted: so the [ u ] of the suffix -ul could become
either [e] or [ i ] or [y] (In German, the phone [y] is orthographically rendered as <ü>. So you can use [ ] to denote phones (sounds)
and < > to denote the way a certain sound is written down orthographically.) So the forms serelul and marelul e. g. might become serelül and marelül, respectively. Please check out the IPA chart and especially the Interactive IPA Chart.
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Evni Öpiu-sä
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Re: What's next?

Post by Evni Öpiu-sä »

I suggest the first text you translate is CEFR level A1.
:fin: - C2
:eng: - ranges from A2 to B2
:swe: - ranges from A1 to A2
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jimydog000
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Re: What's next?

Post by jimydog000 »

I like to select a default word order. Then think about linguistic typology, I usually have these categories in my head: synthetic, analytic and other; and that is sometimes enough to then go down the categories and do the fun stuff.
I like to look at https://lingweenie.org/conlang/hypomnemata.pdf . It feels like ground zero as compared to sifting through linguistic papers, WALS data, and language lessons.
Now that I'm thinking about it, there is a really good resource thread on this forum.

The next issue I usually have is with a dictionary, for some conlangs an excel spreadsheet might suit them. But most langs will have multiple definitions of one word, so a tool like LaTeX, online, or software is pretty good. alternatively you can write it out in plain text.
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