A new trick for vocabulary

You might have noticed that vocabulary is one of the things, which I care very deeply about in conlangs. The posting I get most links to details the creation of vocabulary. Now that I am reading Steven Pinker’s book The Stuff of Thought, I realize that there is a different trick to look at what might be missing in vocabulary. Apparently it was originally invented by Bertrand Russel in the 1950s, even though not for conlanging. What you need is a basic word, like to eat. Now create a progression from the best connotation to the worst one. This can be two or three steps. here a German example: ich esse, du schlingst es runter, er frisst. (I eat, you eat (hastily), he eats (like an animal)). Or in Tsali: Uka anda, oparlki hima (I eat, you eat (undeservedly or too much)). Here is an english example with another term: I exploring my sexuality, you are promiscuous, she is a slut*. Using longer terms and idioms is perfectly okay and even encouraged.

Feel free to post some degrees of connotation of your conlangs (with explanation) into the comments.

* I would like to point out the hypocrisy of this term or rather, the lack of a male equivalent. So I am going to announce to use the term slut from now on also for males :þ

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Comments

  • Sylvia Sotomayor  On January 10, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Ah, irregular verbs. 🙂

    Bernard: It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it: I have an independent mind; you are an eccentric; he is round the twist.

    (From Yes, Minister)

    See also:
    http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiIrregularVerbs

  • Keri  On January 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for posting this- neat idea. I’m definitely going to play around with this in my conlang. I have some trouble with semantic creativity that I need to work on, so exercises like these are great =)

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