I lurve triconsonontal roots, hereinafter ‘3C’. I tried to deny it, but I just can’t anymore. I’m still going to use that other phonology for something, but I’ve gotta have me some of that consonontal action.
Arabic, Hebrew and Egyptian, the three best-known 3C languages, are all pretty heavy on the kinds of sounds Tolkein put into the Black Speech. Lots of velars and glottals, lots of weird consonant combinations. So I’m going to dump all that.
What sounds do I like? T and D are neat, also S and Z. In which case I should have t d s z as well. M and n. R, the tap rather than the English retroflex. I have a sneaking fondness for retroflex t’ and d’, but I think I can live without them. L and K, the “Welsh double-l”. I’ll live without the voiced version of the lateral fricative. If I’m going to have p and b I should have f and v. Also j, which I am going to depart from X-Sampa in spelling y, and w. And some of my legacy roots need k and g. I think that’s enough consonants: 9,261 possible roots should be plenty. Consider the scary fact that your average person uses something like 1500 different words for a day’s conversation–and that, yes, that includes all conjugations of “to be”. I’m going to use 5 vowels rather than the Semitic 3, and possibly tone distinctions. Could be fun if weird to have the difference between, say, singular and plural be the difference between á and à.
For my paradigms, I am going to use a format whereby 1, 2, and 3 represent the three consonants of the root. Therefore, in the root kls “language, speaking”, k is 1, l is 2, and s is 3.
I’ve got three roots to play with, one “nounlike”, one “verblike”, and one “adjectivelike” in English: brt “tree”, kls “language, speaking” and nfr “beauty”.
1o2i3 – basic noun related to the root: borit, tree; kolis, word; nofir, beauty While we’re at it, augmentive prefix “ba-” and diminutive “ti-” for baborit, huge tree and tiborit, sapling or dwarf tree.
1a2i3 – instrument: kalis, language; nafir, cosmetic I can’t think of any particular use for an instrument related to trees, but I’m open to suggestions. A seed/acorn, maybe?
ik1u23 – agent, one who Xs: ikkuls, speaker; iknufr, beautiful person Again, tree problem, though there’s potential for RPGs: “He’s an ikburt!” “Hell, more ents.”
1u2u3 – the act of Xing: kulus, the act of speaking; nufur, the act of being beautiful. Son of tree problem.
e1a2a3 – product: ebarat, wood; ekalas, a speech; I can’t really see a use for beauty considered as a general substance, but if there were one it’d be enafar.
1e2o3 – collective: berot, collection of trees, also tiberot, grove and baberot, forest
Plurals…hmmm. For now, I’m going to go with “penult vowel gets a high tone, last vowel gets a low tone”. kólìs, words; ebáràt, woods (as in “different kinds of wood” rather than “collection of trees”)
Arabic has a pattern for “profession related to X”, but I’m going to have to think about that for a while. It’s probably useful enough to include.
a12u3 – infinitive of a verb describing a state: abrut, to be a tree; anfur, to be beautiful. You can use ti-and ba- here too, for things like tiabrut, to be a little like a tree and báanfur, to be very beautiful. Note that the first A gets a high tone; this always happens when two identical vowels are stuck together.
e12o3 – infinitive of a verb describing an action: eklos, to speak. I don’t think there’s a useful distinction between “being beautiful” and “beautifulling”, but I may be wrong. The latter implies a more active role, I guess, and might be useful for literary purposes.
1u22e3 – infinitive, “to make something X”, and note the 2nd C is doubled: barret, to make into a tree; kulles, to cause to speak; nuffer, to beautify
1i2a3i – infinitive, “to become X”: birati, to become a tree; nifari, to become beautiful
sa1a23 – adjective: sabart, treelike; sakals, speaking; sanafr, beautiful Voice the s to a z to make an adverb: zanafr, beautifully
1u2o3 – combining state for compound words: drw black and pst bird, so durowposit, blackbird.
12e3 – construct state. Yay obscure grammatical stuff. kles pósìt, the language of birds
I am sure I’ll think of more paradigms eventually, but that should do for now.
More roots: rrk, angry; kLS, stubborn; kln, dog; Skn, random; lrs, music
Verb conjugations tomorrow maybe.