Language Construction Workshop

This is a pathway through the digital garden based on the contents of my course Language Construction Workshop.

Week 1: Introduction

What is a language and what does it mean to construct a language? In this session, we learn enough of the basics of linguistics to figure out what we need to do to make our first conlang.

  • What is language?
  • [[ Components of language - grammar and the lexicon ]]
  • [[ Descriptive and prescriptive grammar ]]
  • Conlang pitfalls
  • [[ Standard Average European and linguistic diversity ]]
  • [[ Subsystems of language ]]
  • [[ Writing sound - the International Phonetic Alphabet ]]
  • [[ Phone and phoneme ]]
  • [[ Phonological inventories ]]

Week 2: The Sounds of Your Language

What gives a language its unique sound? In this session, we learn how to classify different types of sounds and use that information to create a palette of sounds for your language to draw on. Then we learn how to combine these sounds to make words according to a unique blueprint for your language.

  • [[ How speech sounds are made ]]
  • [[ Consonants and vowels ]]
  • [[ Vocing and phonation ]]
  • [[ Classifying consonants - places of articulation ]]
  • [[ Classifying consonants - manner of articulation ]]
  • [[ Classifying vowels ]]
  • [[ Diphthongs ]]
  • [[ Syllables and syllable structure ]]
  • [[ Stress ]]

Week 3: From Words to Sentences

This session is about going from the language’s first words to the language’s first sentences. To do this, we learn the different strategies languages use to package meaning into words. Then we learn about the different ways languages express relationships between words. This gives us the tools to start making sentences.

  • [[ What is morphology ]]
  • [[ Expressing morphology - bound and free morphemes ]]
  • [[ Morphological typology - the division of labour between morphology and syntax ]]
  • [[ Reading interlinear glosses ]]
  • [[ Lexical categories ]]
  • [[ Grammatical categories ]]
  • [[ Grammatical tense ]]
  • [[ Grammatical number ]]
  • [[ Basic grammatical relations - subject and object ]]
  • Basic word order

Week 4: Filling in the Grammatical Gaps

In this session, we expand the grammar we created in the previous week to do the things a language needs to express beyond the simple sentence. By the end of this week, you will be able to tell a simple story in your language.

Week 5: Delightful Complications

This week we take your nicely laid-out rules and start adding complications and exceptions. We look at how irregularity in language is the most regular process of all. We also examine how words change their form and meaning over time and see to express aspects of the culture and history of the language’s speakers through the language itself.

Week 6: Show and Tell

We end with some suggestions on how to develop the languages from this starting point.

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