How to start a conlang?

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How to start a conlang?

Postby Dennis » Thu 09 Jul 2009 9:14 pm

How do you start a decent conlang?

First writing some sentences in the conlang, then define grammar and vocabulary afterwards?

Or write some grammar, then try to make sentences and just see what kind of vocabulary you get?

Is a full grammar system needed first(ly?) to make a decent conlang or not?

I tend to make a base for a conlang, then find myself out of inspiration, put it away for some time, and forget about it...
Speak: Dutch, English
Something between reading and speaking: French, German
Read: Latin, Ancient Greek

Japanese: somewhere around JLPT 4 level (out of 5), I guess. Also, I (should) know around 250-300 kanji.
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby scottrupe_1 » Sat 11 Jul 2009 4:59 pm

I start with the phonology. (which is all I've got on my current one [http://srconlangs.yolasite.com])
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Declan » Sat 11 Jul 2009 5:38 pm

Have you come across http://www.zompist.com/kit.html or Pablo Flores' version of it?
Native: English
Very good: Irish
Reasonable: German, French
Very basic: Latin.
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Kloiten » Sun 12 Jul 2009 4:46 am

Dennis wrote:How do you start a decent conlang?

First writing some sentences in the conlang, then define grammar and vocabulary afterwards?

Or write some grammar, then try to make sentences and just see what kind of vocabulary you get?

Is a full grammar system needed first(ly?) to make a decent conlang or not?

I tend to make a base for a conlang, then find myself out of inspiration, put it away for some time, and forget about it...


I would definitely start with the phonology and up, but I guess you could just write down random sentences and then draw out the grammar, effectively going "backwards". Much harder though, but it's possible! :lol:

Are you planning to post your conlang(s) up anytime soon?
Fluent: English, русский язык
Proficient: français, 日本語
Beginning: suomi, davvisámegiella, 中文 (普通話), norsk, cymraeg
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Jayan » Wed 15 Jul 2009 7:01 pm

Are there any guidelines as to what word class to start the grammar off with (i.e. nouns, verbs, etc.)?

Should syntax wait until after grammar?
Native/Fluent: English (on a good day :P)
Pursuing fluency: Dansk
Entertaining self with: 日本語
Up next: русский язык
Eventually: Gaeilge|Deutsch|Kiswahili|Suomi
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Twix93 » Sun 02 Aug 2009 11:41 am

Yeah, http://www.zompist.com/kit.html is great for beginners at conlangs.

What works for me personally (I'm not an expert myself though) -
1. Play around with phonology first, decide what sounds you like. Then add any extra dimensions (e.g. tone/pitch, voiced/voiceless, vowel length) Then decide on syllable structure and stress.
2. Decide on how to write the conlang - firstly in the Latin alphabet and then maybe in an invented conscript.
3. Decide the basics for the grammar - Isolated? Agglutinated? Etc. Then make a list of ideas e.g. list of cases, list of tenses, particles etc. and then put them into words and affixes in your conlang (Deciding irregularities if wanted at this point).
4. Lexicon - create simple words first (also simple particles or affixes e.g. -ness, -able) and then build up and combine them into more complex vocabulary and compound words.
Native: English
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Also interested in: Eskimo-Aleut languages, Finnish, Volapük, Lojban, Icelandic, Scandinavian
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Dennis » Mon 07 Dec 2009 8:23 pm

How long does it take you to have a small conlang, one that is not yet ready to, let's say, converse with, but at least has basic grammar and lexicon?

I know that the point is not to create as many conlangs as you can, but rather create a complete conlang, but I am still curious.
Speak: Dutch, English
Something between reading and speaking: French, German
Read: Latin, Ancient Greek

Japanese: somewhere around JLPT 4 level (out of 5), I guess. Also, I (should) know around 250-300 kanji.
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Neqitan » Tue 08 Dec 2009 2:56 am

Dennis wrote:How long does it take you to have a small conlang, one that is not yet ready to, let's say, converse with, but at least has basic grammar and lexicon?

The fastest I've done it is about 10 hours. Image
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Remd » Fri 11 Dec 2009 7:01 pm

But, have you been able to find people to converse with using one conlang you have created? I think it is...well, almost impossible.
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Re: How to start a conlang?

Postby Rhamos Vhailejh » Wed 23 Dec 2009 9:34 pm

The first thing I do when creating a conlang is get punched in the face by inspiration. Usually in regards to some kind of writing system or phonological idea. So that's where I start: the phonology and the writing system. After that I get into verb tenses and forms (past, present, future, infinitive, etc). Then I'll create one verb for testing purposes (usually the word go, which in my strongest conlang is åjaa (AYE-aah or aye-AAH, depending on the circumstances). After playing around with verb forms for a bit, and making sure they fit together, I move on to the pronouns, since one can easily create a full body of pronouns in one sitting. Then I'll move on to pronoun modifications (like plural, possessive, etc.) and test those around for a little with various forms of my test verb and see if they all fit together. At this point I'll make a test noun (usually the word store, since it works well with go, which in my strongest conlang is purho (POOR-hoe) (please ignore the slanderous transliteration. lol). At this point, I'll get started on noun cases (nominative, genetive, accusative, etc.). Since my conlangs are all at least somewhat agglutinative, I usually end up making lots and lots of these, often inventing my own cases (examples being what I call the "equative" case, being an essive case denoting equality or sameness (purhoksi: the same store), and the "supraperlative" case, being an internal locative case denoting "throughout." (purholjeira: throughout the store)). And now, with our verb tenses and our test verb and our test noun, and our noun cases and our pronouns, we have enough to make a sentence (using my own conlang as an example): Purhovöl seiessa'åjaahinde: "Let's go to the store." Everything in that sentence had been made during the steps I provided. Purho is our test noun, -völ is our new allative case, sei is our first person pronoun, -essa is our plural, åjaa is our test verb, -hin is our present tense verb suffix, and -de is one of our newly created verb forms denoting a request or a command for the immediate future. You see that? Now we have a fully functioning sentence and it didn't take that long, did it? Now you have to get into adjectives and adverbs (be creative), methods of expressing various levels of sureness, etc., and make yourself a few hundred nouns and verbs. Presto.
~ Rhamos Vhailejh
Antellieksijim arrvvi'keödetval kyrrhessö'ällkunnön. Tuntooi'åhešška hänessa'etevåmus. Suuluejj køramiienjim tyysyvöl'työjennön.
Projects: Old Dwojin (discontinued), Modern Duojjin, Pзhowз, Elemental, and an unnamed conlang (hiatus)
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