The BG Language Creation Guide

#3: Nouns and Nominal Morphology

Material to cover

Making words

Now that you have a set of segments, it's time to make words. This is easier than you might think. We'll begin with a list of nouns.

To get started, look at the list of assigned English words and just pick one. Then, consulting your list of segments, make up a possible word in your language. Write it down next to the English word ... and you're done making your first word. From there, carry on making words until you begin to see how you might combine morphemes in novel ways that please you. This is one of the places where art, poetry, politics or whimsy slips into your language creation task. Make your language reflect something new, charming, alarming, startling or beautiful.

Think about how yu want the words to sound. are there lots of complicated consonant clusters around single vowels making short words like /skwap/, /ToiNk/, or /Stlorkspiltsk/? Or, does your language have long words in simple syllables like /labilamana/, /kipapi/, or /amasakabu/? Are you going to allow consonants at the ends of your words? Is it going to sound right to you to allow two vowels to come together in a word like /naial/ or /oie.luk/? How many consonants do you think you want to allow at the beginnings of words: english allowsthree in words like 'strike' and 'splat' but hawaiian allows only a single consonant before there has to be a vowel.

As you make your words, keep the following in mind:

Establishing Nominal Morphology

In addition to creating the list of nouns below, you should address these questions and submit them with your work: For each question, provide as many glossed examples as you need to be clear. Do not simply make a list of the information required: write a sentence or two explaining each.

For Example

You will use the
Leipzig Glossing Rules to gloss your words. Here are the abbreviations for the affixes you will need for this assignment:

About the Humble Hyphen

The presence and placement of hyphens indicates a great deal about the status of morphemes in your language. Follow these guidelines:

The 40 Nouns to create *

Please create the following words. Make sure you use hyphens to separate all the morphemes. Include which noun class a word belongs to (if any) and anything irregular about it (as in anirregular plural form.) Turn in your set of words alphabetized by English translation as shown here. Include any extra words you create along the way.

1. the name of your language
2. ashes
3. bird
4. branch
5. child
6. cloud
7. day
8. earth
9. egg
10. fire
11. fish
12. forest
13. friend
14. hand
15. heart
16. house
17. idea thought
18. leaf
19. man
20. moon
21. mountain
22. night
23. person
24. rain
25. river
26. root
27. sand
28. seed
29. sky
30. smoke
31. star
32. stone
33. story
34. sun
35. tree
36. water
37. woman
38. --- animal of your choice
39. --- animal or object of your choice
40. --- vegetable, fruit or other plant of your choice

* If you're wondering how I chose these words, the list itself is a version of the Swadesh word list. This list was originally proposed by American linguist Morris Swadesh in the 1950s. The idea is that there are certain words, basic to all cultures, that are unlikely candidates for borrowing. Thus, a field linguist who started with these words would get a better sense of the basic phonemic and morphological situation in a language by avoiding long or borrowed forms. His list was relatively short (under 200 words) and versions of it are used by field linguists to this day. Here's where you can see an example Swadesh Lists on Rosetta Site

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Updated 2/16/2011