How to Not Verb

Logan Kearsley lived in multilingual Belgium for three years as a child, but didn’t realise other languages were cool before moving back to the anglophone United States, where he started conlanging at a still-young age and eventually studied Russian in high school. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Masters in Linguistics, and has had the opportunity to study a wide variety of languages while working to develop software for teaching and learning foreign languages at the university level and researching language pedagogy.

Abstract

“Can a language exist without verbs? What would such a language look like?” These are perennial questions in many conlanging communities. They do not, however, have a single unique answer. Whether a language can exist without verbs, or what that question even means, fundamentally depends on how one chooses to define “a verb”–something which is not universal between language or between linguistic theories. Under any given definition of “a verb”, however, a number of different strategies have been investigated by different conlangers over the years for eliminating the category from their languages. In this article, Logan Kearsley surveys some of the strategies that have been tried, with an analysis of which definitions of verblessness they do or do not meet, and provides reference materials and recommendations for other conlangers who may wish to tackle this kind of project themselves.

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The Creation of Meaning

Olivia Nelson is a 17-year-old high school senior living in Pennsylvania. Her interest in language started at a young age as she began noticing the imprecision of English. As she learned more about the study of language, her education became more specific. She has recently focused in on etymology, language construction, and linguistics, while formally studying Chinese and American Sign Language. Today, she excels at providing unrequested lectures about linguistics to her classmates during their lunch period.

Abstract

In this presentation, The Creation of Meaning, Olivia Nelson reviews the process for creating a language, as well as the foundation of constructed languages. Her research, primarily using The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson and other scholarly texts, outlines the basics of creating a language to a lay audience. Within the presentation she explores what brings meaning to language, arguing that a dictionary is an outline for what a word means, and the true definition of the word lies in a culture’s repeated use in a consistent context.

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Dothraki Relative Clause Structure

Caroline Elizabeth Melton has a BS in biology from the University of Memphis and an MA in linguistics from Stony Brook University. Currently a PhD student in biology and bioinformatics at the University of Memphis, she looks for any excuse to compare language change to biological evolution, to the exhaust of her professors.

Abstract

In this analysis, I aim to objectively assess the claim that Dothraki is a naturalistic language by comparing its case system and relative clause structures to known morphological and syntactic universals common to natural language.

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The Journey Into Conlanging & The Way Back Home

Carl Avlund is a conlanger from Denmark. He graduated from Osted Friskole in 2017, Eriksminde Efterskole a year later, and is currently attending Gefion Gymnasium in Copenhagen, studying Ancient Greek and Latin. He expects to graduate in 2021 and plans to apply for University of Copenhagen afterwards in order to study linguistics. His conlanging can be summarized as a mixed focus between diachronic realism and phonological, morphological, and syntactic aesthetics. He primarily works on two related languages called Kotekkish and Pakan.

Abstract

In his short text, The Journey Into Conlanging & The Way Back Home, Carl Avlund tells the general story of how conlanging became a part of his life, one that many conlangers may recognize themselves in. Over the course of three pages, he details his initial fascination with language, how and why he began constructing languages, and where it has led him.

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Designing an Artificial Language: Opposites

Rick Morneau is a long-time language creator who lives in rural Idaho. In the early 1990s, he wrote a series of essays on language design that proved to be quite influential in the early language creation community. Their quality has endured since their original publication, and continue to be read and enjoyed by language creators the world over.

Abstract

This essay discusses one approach to dealing with words of opposite meaning. For a much more thorough treatment of opposites, read the monograph Lexical Semantics.

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Trompe l’Œil Conlanging—Or How to Fake Depth in a Conlang

Sylvia Sotomayor has been conlanging since she read Tolkien at an impressionable age. She is best known for the Kēlen language, which won a Smiley Award in 2009. She is currently the Treasurer of the Language Creation Society, and keeps the membership rolls and the LCS Lending Library.

Abstract

In this short essay, longtime conlanger Sylvia Sotomayor illustrates some simple ways to give one’s conlang the illusion of depth.

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Qaʃn̩ħeoħelə awo Nħeoħelə: A Grammar and a Cultural Reference for the People of Ħelə

Ariel Robinson is an analyst out of Boston, MA. Since graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Cognitive Science and Linguistics, she’s leveraged her ability to “translate” complex concepts from one domain into another, including how geopolitics affect businesses and end-users’ emotions affect hackers and cybercrime.

Abstract

This paper describes a culture, language, partial lexicon, and creation myth Robinson originally created as a student at Wellesley College. Of note are the close ties between the spiritual underpinnings of the People of Ħelə and the phonetic inventory, where each vowel represents one of the four elements and the characteristics with which it is associated. The language is highly morphemic—rooted in Robinson’s study of Semitic languages—which was helpful in word formation in the beginning but posed a larger challenge during the second revision and expansion of the content. Though she wasn’t completely sure as a college student how she might use her creation in the future, Robinson has been percolating and has plans to incorporate the language and culture into a future novel.

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Xyric Folk Tales, Version 1

Raymond Scherer first became interested in linguistics when he took Spanish for the first time in the 8th grade. Since then, he has engaged in a few language creation efforts and created the Xyric language as part of a school project, but has since expanded it. He currently studies German and Spanish but has aspirations to study other languages once he becomes fluent. He plans to study aerospace engineering in college.

Abstract

This is a collection of various folk tales in the Xyric language. This collection contains five different short stories, including their creation story in which the Great Boulder creates the world. It also includes a story about a man saving his son, a man becoming the wind, a swearing pet, and a woman that raises birds.

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Me Nem Nesa: A Phonological Analysis of Dothraki

Sanjeev Vinodh is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Linguistics and Cognitive Science. His interests include phonology, pragmatics, persuasive speaking, and p-alliteration. Sanjeev also teaches two classes at Berkeley: Magic: Theory and Deception, and Charisma: The Art of Genuine Connection.

Abstract

This paper provides an analysis of three phonological processes found in David J. Peterson’s conlang Dothraki (created for the HBO series Game of Thrones)—”r” alternations, vowel laxing, and stress assignment—including a discussion on the language’s typological tractability. This was Sanjeev’s final project for Linguistics 111, Phonology, taught at UC Berkeley.

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Designing an Artificial Language: Anaphora

Rick Morneau is a long-time language creator who lives in rural Idaho. In the early 1990s, he wrote a series of essays on language design that proved to be quite influential in the early language creation community. Their quality has endured since their original publication, and continue to be read and enjoyed by language creators the world over.

Abstract

This essay discusses anaphora and how they can be implemented without ambiguity in an AL.

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