Merging nouns, verbs, and adjectives

  1. One problem with this is that you need to be clear about how a word relates to another word. For example, a word has the two meanings of "eyes" and "see", then when does it mean "eyes" and when does it mean "see"? When it is connected with other words, what kind of meaning does it have in which case? If there are still "noun position" and "verb positions" in the syntax, and these two different positions are used to distinguish the two meanings of the word, then there is actually no "merging noun and verb", but just " nouns and verbs are spelled the same".

  2. I haven’t started working on the full syntax rules yet, because of things exactly like this. Currently I’m thinking of using SVO word order like English, simply because it’s what I’ve used all my life. With an established word order it should be easier to determine meaning, but not completely clear in all cases. It’s a step in the right direction but I definitely have more work to do, context can only do so much.

  3. Many Salishan languages have been argued to have only two word classes: substantives and clitics. Clitics are basically function words, but substantives are the real meat and potatoes, and they can function as nouns or verbs. For example the word for “rock” which we usually think of as a noun could also be a verb meaning “to be a rock,” and from there you might expect semantic drift to make things even more interesting. There is a catch, though: morphology. The Salishan languages are often described as polysynthetic, so it’s easy to tell whether a word is functioning as a noun or verb based on what morphology it’s taking (I.e., agreement morphology might indicate that it’s behaving as a verb). To that end, I would argue that fully merging nouns, verbs and adjectives such that any word can behave as any part of speech without taking derivational morphology probably makes the most sense when word order isn’t the only thing differentiating. I’m not sure how much synthesis you want in your language, but if that doesn’t appeal to you an alternative is extensive use of zero-derivation. I’ve seen other commenters explaining this phenomenon, but basically you could make zero-derivation a very productive process in your language which applies to many words but not all words. This would allow you to blur the lines without having to dive into the madness that is polysynthesis (not that it’s not fun, it just takes a lot of work to do well imo).

  4. I think poly is the path here. Zero-derivation is great, but it can’t go as far as I want. Time to really dig into polysynthesis and get a good system working. Thank you for the idea!

  5. So Im no language expert, but, if I understand correctly, there are both 'denominal verbs/deverbal nouns', and also something zero-marking. In Ossetian, the word ныхас can mean word/conversation/village meeting. Хистӕр means both history, and 'elder', and context informs the rest of the meaning. Context can be surprisingly informative, but again I am no expert on this stuff :P

  6. Getting meaning from context isn’t the most elegant solution, but I can definitely work with it. Since almost every word can be used as an adjective, it should be very easy to convey context with just a few words. If I say “I pa’la deer” it’s clear I’m saying that I see deer, not talking about the eyes or appearance of the deer. I’m going to do some research into Ossetian, as well as denomial verbs and deverbal nouns, see what I can learn. Thank you!

  7. For example articles may be always required for nouns, and verbs conjugate with a lot of auxiliary words to help differentiate between them. Polysynthetic words may work too

  8. I hadn't thought about it that way, but English definitely does this. Not as commonly and flexibly as I'm thinking here, but since it's an existing concept that makes it easier in some ways.

  9. i mean you coukd yeah with zero-deriving just start conjugating the noun like a verb and boom got a verb, same goes for any other way

  10. Yeah context still leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation, because we cant assume people understand like we do, thats why zero-marking is very rare.

  11. Context will be both my best friend and my worst enemy here. I’m looking into ways to clarify words in their verb and adjective states, hopefully I’ll find something useful

  12. Your idea reminds of Zero-Derivation. in a simplified way, Zero-Derivation is the derivation of a new word into a new part of speech without inflection or new morphemes being used.

  13. It basically is zero derivation, just turned up to 11. I'm a native English speaker so of course I'm familiar with English's use of it, maybe that's where my subconscious got the idea.

  14. I might be missing your goal entirely, but my method of doing similar combining strategies is many different prefixes and suffixes

  15. I like that idea, it's simple but effective. I'm using several click consonants but hadn't chosen a purpose for them yet. They're very distinctive so they would be a great fit, especially because I'm using strictly open syllables. Thanks for the idea, I'm going to use it!

  16. I have heard once or twice that Samoan works like this, although I have not done sufficient research to confirm or refute that. However in the world of conlangs I can think of, I believe ithkuil and Lojban do this, but only lexically, there's still a noun vs verb gramatical distinction just it comes in through what gets done to the root word rather than inherent to the root, and full on merging happens in toki pona.

  17. At first I really was just relexing English, just making three closely related words into one. I’m taking it in a different direction now. I’m thinking about assigning a full concept to just one syllable, like “Pa” could represent sight, eyes, the act of seeing, somethings appearance, and everything else related to sight. Multiple syllables can be strung into a sentence-word, a single word or pair of words that contains the full meaning. I like the idea a lot but I have a lot of work to do first.

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