Let’s make a language, part 25c: Business (Ardari)

Ardari has a large vocabulary for dealing with business, and its agglutinative nature expands that even further. But we’ll stick to the basics here.

Business itself is prejn; in Ardari, the same word can also stand for “economy” or “a transaction”. This is different from the actual root for “to trade”, chachen-, which refers to any sort of exchange.

Grammatically, a number of “business” verbs can be ditransitive, taking two objects. These include mänyt- “to borrow”, dyem- “to buy”, khipy- “to lend”, and vird- “to sell”. In all of these cases, the indirect object is in the dative, and it marks the other party in the transaction besides the speaker.

Back in the list of words, we see a few interesting and idiosyncratic derivations. “Generous” is derived from the noun tyamin, meaning “charity”, which thus also stands for “generosity”. And dròv is the root for dròvymat “greed”, rather than the other way around. Also, the general term for money, dènyèr, is a loan, possibly deriving from the French denier, but almost assuredly related in some way to Latin denārius.

Finally, the Ardari verb fors- “to own” carries much of the same connotations as its Isian counterpart. It’s more than a simple possessive, rather indicating the possession of something worth having in the first place. The derived adjective forsynt, however, has a bit of an idiomatic meaning: it’s considered poor form to use it to describe human beings, as it connotes a master/slave relationship, something Ardari speakers do not approve of. The further derivation ärforsynt, though, is used as a religious term referring to demonic possession, and it only refers to people. Language is strange sometimes.

Word list

  • business: prejn
  • cheap: zelk
  • cost: kamnad
  • expensive: long
  • generous: tyaminösat (from tyamin “charity”)
  • greed: dròvymat (from dròv “greedy, grasping”)
  • job: kroll
  • money: dènyèr (borrowed)
  • poor: nydor
  • rich: agris
  • to accept: lèp-
  • to borrow: mänyt-
  • to buy: dyem-
  • to gain: gir-
  • to get: baj-
  • to keep: chòll-
  • to lend: khipy-
  • to lose: malyos-
  • to offer: makej-
  • to own: fors-
  • to receive: bèrill-
  • to reject: lèghan-
  • to sell: vird-
  • to steal: tyek-
  • to store: jols-
  • to trade: chachen-
  • value: säfyn

Let’s make a language, part 25b: Business (Isian)

Isian, as we have seen before, is spoken by a culture that tends more towards the old-fashioned. It’s not the highly corporate environment of the West, nor the planned, centralized systems common in the East. It’s its own thing, really, a kind of land out of time.

Lucky for us, that makes things easier. We can look at the basic terms below (I’ll assume you can follow along), but I’ll pick out a few that have more nuanced meanings.

First up, masca, “to trade”, is a kind of catch-all. It’s intended more for the economic type of trading, a generic term for buying, selling, bartering, etc. That’s why “business” is translated as the derived noun mascanas. The Isian word might be better considered as “to do business with”.

“Cheap” and “expensive”, dib and gowan respectively, follow the style of other large/small pairs by having distinctive vowels: the high, front vowel i is characteristic of “small” things in many languages. “Poor” and “rich”, on the other hand, might seem backwards, but this could mean that the quality being measured here is poverty rather than wealth. Or it’s just happenstance. That’s a more likely explanation.

Next up, cosen is “money” when used as a mass noun. As a count noun, however, it means something closer to “price” or “amount”. (The difference is that count nouns take articles and quantifiers, while mass nouns don’t.)

And then we come to ama. It’s a bit of an oddity in Isian. It’s strictly translated as “to own”, and it does have an element of possession as its primary connotation. But it’s different from the simpler fana “to have”, because it carries a secondary meaning: the object being owned has monetary value to its owner.

Word list

  • business: mascanas
  • cheap: dib
  • cost: chake
  • expensive: gowan
  • generous: nemis (“generosity”: nemiros)
  • greed: sumat
  • job: bor
  • money: cosen
  • poor: umar
  • rich: irdes
  • to accept: achine
  • to borrow: mante
  • to buy: tochi
  • to gain: elge
  • to get: gana
  • to keep: ifa
  • to lend: hente
  • to lose (possession of): pulo
  • to offer: acate
  • to own: ama
  • to receive: rano
  • to reject: nuyana
  • to sell: dule
  • to steal: toya
  • to store: odaga
  • to trade: masca
  • value: luros

Let’s make a language, part 25a: Business (Intro)

In today’s world, business is big, well, business. Commerce, economy, capitalism rules all. So it’s not surprising that we have a lot of words to describe such a topic. But it wasn’t always that way, and a lot of the terms we use to talk about business are, in fact, derived from strange places.

On the wealth of nations

The idea of value, of course, is about as old as civilization. From the first time one man noticed that his neighbor had something he wanted, we’ve had an economy. When trades became possible, when people became settled enough that they could diversify, business was born. Business then begat money, credit, coin, currency, and all those other nifty things we associate with wealth today.

Word-wise, a lot of basic terms in the business sphere are pretty old. Some English terms (e.g., gold) have come down almost directly from the Indo-European days with little change in meaning. Many others derive from Latin (credit, coin) or Greek (economy). Business itself is an example of an Anglo-Saxon native, dollar is a German loan, and so on.

Tracing the etymology of business and commerce words tells us a lot about the economic history of the English language. A lot of the “technical” terms are classical in origin, stemming from the past few centuries. Words that came about in medieval times represent concepts that existed in those times, and it’s clear that the Romans had an idea of credits and debts. In the oldest days, there might not have been a thriving stock market, but there was indeed a stock market.

“Stock” is meant here as “livestock”, which brings us to the next point: even if there’s no money, that doesn’t mean there’s no wealth. Coin only came about as an easier way to keep track of wealth, but anything can have a price. Land, cattle, grain, slaves, or anything a culture considers valuable will eventually be bought and sold, and the traders will need words to talk about those actions. The earlier they “discover” business, the more likely the base terms will be native, rather than loans from more advanced neighbors.

The day job

It doesn’t take a lot of sophistication to work out the rough outline of an economy. The things people do often will quickly become named, and those things a culture treasures will be among the first in line for native words. An agrarian society built upon a complex system of barter will have a much different set of “core” words than a highly capitalist mercantile empire. An expanding nation full of coinage will spread its money words to its penniless neighbors, as with the Roman denarius, whose descendants can be found throughout the Western world: dinars, deniers, and the “d.” abbreviation for pennies (whether old English coins or American nails).

Work itself can also be the subject of linguistic invention. Today’s English takes a functional approach to that, usually deriving an agent noun out of an action verb (programmer, cameraman). We’ve already seen some of that in earlier parts, but it’s pertinent here, too. And it’s another case where history and etymology mix: although many terms are simple agent derivations, we’ve got a few that aren’t, and those tend to be older.

Tools of the trade

On a more mundane level, the simple acts of trade, being so commonplace, so ancient, will almost certainly be nativized, if not fully native. We buy and sell, we trade and offer. Then again, we also exchange, accept, and reject, and all those are Latin loans. But those aren’t exactly newcomers to the language. They’ve been around. People use them all the time, because they do those things all the time, and the words aren’t considered foreign except by the most extreme purists.

So, once again, we can see the connection between language and culture. Business starts small, with trades, purchases, barter, payment, loans, and the like. Most everybody throughout history has done something of that sort, so there are common words to describe such actions and concepts in most languages. Loanwords will only come about here when an outside force presses them upon the speakers.

As economic science progresses, the terminology grows, but the same golden rule remains. A corporation might seem like a relatively recent invention, but the word is Latin, derived from corpus, the body. Pecuniary is a word that comes from ancient roots related to cattle, a valuable material good in such times. Economy itself? Greek, from an term roughly describing management or administration. The big-business words of today, like quant and blockchain, might not have the same pedigree, but they’re no less a product of their time.

Coming up

The next two weeks will see the usual posts for Isian and Ardari. Next month, however, is another “off” month for the series. Instead, I’ll be making a new translation special, just as soon as I figure out something to translate. Then, we’ll come back in July for Part 26, a study of government. Hopefully, ours won’t be as awful as the real thing.

Let’s make a language, part 24c: The mind (Ardari)

As with Isian last week, I’m not going to bother with the rundown of Ardari vocabulary. Let’s focus on the cases where it doesn’t match up with the glosses in the list instead.

First up is tor- “to agree with”. You’ll notice the parenthetical down there; “to agree” is tory-, a derived intransitive. Thus “I agree with you” is torotya, while simple “I agree” is toryma, with the usual split-S concord trickery.

The Ardari word for “sad”, jysall, is a bit harsher than its English counterpart. To be jysall, you have to be really sad, like “in tears” level! Anything else is merely umil “unhappy”.

With tèch “nice”, it’s something of the opposite. “Nice”, for a speaker of Ardari, is good, wholesome, kind, thoughtful, and even pretty. It’s possibly more general than the English word is in formal contexts, but about the same as in colloquial speech. The man who picks up that bag you dropped is tèch, but so is the bag itself, if it was, say, a Christmas present.

In much the same vein, trodyn “wise” has a bit of an expanded meaning in Ardari. A good idea is trodyn, as are your elders. Anything that makes you laugh can be considered säv “funny”, but you have to be beyond hopping mad before you’re considered nyol “angry” instead of merely urkwis “un-calm”.

Regular derivations exist for pretty much all the words below. Adjectives can easily be turned into nouns: nyolymat “anger”, trodynymat “wisdom”, milyëmat “happiness”. (Note the slight change in that last one to prevent the awkward letter sequence -yy-.) Verbs work, too: salmönda “love”, bejëkön “thinker”, toròs “agreeable”, chòmnyn “action” (an irregular example).

Word list

  • angry: nyol
  • brave: noll
  • calm: kwis
  • funny: säv
  • happy: mil(y)
  • intelligent: sund
  • mind: broma
  • nice: tèch
  • sad: jysall
  • thankful: därynt
  • to act: chòma-
  • to agree: tory- (trans. “to agree with”: tor-)
  • to decide: bèlse-
  • to fear: nurh-
  • to feel: luch-
  • to hate: jad-
  • to know: trod-
  • to learn: prèll-
  • to love: salm-
  • to remember: ingri-
  • to teach: sydon-
  • to thank: där-
  • to think: bejë-
  • to want: majtas-
  • wise: trodyn

Next time

Remember, no posts for this series next month. We’ll be back in May to look at how Isian and Ardari talk business. Until then, have fun exploring the minds of your own conlangs.

Let’s make a language, part 24b: The mind (Isian)

There’s not too much to say about the collection of words this time around, and I’m not going to bother with the whole “here’s what they can do” deal again. You should have a pretty good idea of that by now. Instead, we’ll look at some of the connotations that are different in Isian.

First off, mac “mind” refers more to the abstract notion of a thinking organ, as opposed to sayban “brain”. The latter only talks about that physical bit inside your skull, while the former can’t refer to it at all. It’s a more defined distinction than in English, where the two terms can be almost interchangeable.

Second, itey “funny” indicates humor, but not most of the other senses of its English counterpart. An Isian joke would be itey, but not something oddly shaped. (That’s not to say you can’t use it in a metaphorical sense, but it’s not the dictionary definition.)

Similarly, erda “act” isn’t used for a movie star. It’s more of a general term, probably better translated as “to take action”. It can also function in the sense of “to make oneself become”, as in erda yali “cheer up” or erdacan halu “I’ve calmed down”.

The word cobet, translated below as “intelligent”, also means “sentient” or “sapient”, in a technical context. But almerat “wise” can mean both of those, too. In this sense, almerat is more “philosophical”, while cobet is more “scientific”.

Finally, essentially all of the terms in the list below have regular derivations. Isian speakers can talk about happiness by saying yaliros, and they can be unhappy (but not necessarily sad) with ayalin. Agreement is awconas, hatred uldinas, and so on. True wisdom, or almeratos, is something few speakers believe exists, but that doesn’t mean they don’t strive for it.

Word list

  • angry: hayka
  • brave: abor
  • calm: halu
  • funny: itey
  • happy: yali
  • intelligent: cobet
  • mind: mac
  • nice: nim
  • sad: nulsa
  • thankful: nichodo
  • to act: erda
  • to agree: awco
  • to decide: sade
  • to fear: poyo
  • to feel: ilsi
  • to hate: uldi
  • to know: altema
  • to learn: nate
  • to love: hame
  • to remember: noga
  • to teach: reshone
  • to thank: nicho
  • to think: tico
  • to want: doche
  • wise: almerat

Let’s make a language, part 24a: The mind (Intro)

Humans are not alone in having emotions, desires, and mental capacities. We are, however, alone on this planet in having the higher cognition functions commonly described as sapience. (Now, there’s nothing saying alien species can’t have the same, but that’s a different post.) And we’re also alone in possessing the full capabilities of language. In this part of the series, we’ll look at how those two uniquely human attributes combine to produce the linguistic expression of our minds, and how a language can encode those attributes.

The center of thought

Cogito ergo sum, goes the saying, and it may be one of the most profound in existence. I think, therefore I am. It’s pure humanity distilled into three words of Latin, five of English. We are thinking beings. We can think about thinking. And we can speak about thinking.

Thought, then, is going to play a part in any language’s vocabulary. We have the English verb think to start, obviously, but that’s far from the end of the story. Not only can we think, but we can know. We can understand or comprehend. We can deduce, perceive, and reason. All these are related to thought and cognition, but in different ways. Knowing something is true, for example, is different from knowing (i.e., recognizing) a person’s face; some languages split this distinction into two verbs. Understanding and comprehending are likewise slightly different, but then there are languages out there that combine the two into a single term.

Without veering too far into philosophy, it’s still easy to see the potential for a lot of vocabulary variation. How a culture’s speech divides the linguistic space of thought tells a lot about how they think. It’s not quite the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (language determines thought patterns), but you might think of it as a weaker form.

Of course, talking about the mind’s function is a lot easier for us than for, say, the ancient Greeks. But most of our technical terminology comes from classical sources, formed following the usual agglutinative patterns of English scientific vocabulary. A conlang might look to its own “classical” cousin for inspiration, or it might borrow from a more advanced neighbor, or its speakers could instead choose to coin their own terms. That’s up to you.

The seat of emotion

Although the ancients may have considered the heart the source of human emotion, we now know it comes from the brain. So emotions therefore fall under the category of mental terms, too.

Emotion is easy for us to recognize, for reasons that should be fairly obvious—society probably couldn’t function if we didn’t know how to read the unspoken signals of our fellow man. So it’s not surprising that many languages have a native stock of emotion words. We can say we’re happy or sad, for instance. We can talk about feeling love or envy towards another. But every language runs out eventually; there aren’t any native English words for ennui, acedia, or Schadenfreude, among many others.

Humans all feel roughly the same variety of emotions, too (ignoring psychopaths and the like), so there’s going to be a good cross-linguistic alignment of emotion terms. One language may have three different kinds of “happy”, but you can bet none of them are going to indicate anger. (For non-human conlangs, this is another chance to get creative. Short-circuiting basic assumptions regarding emotion will very easily give a culture an alien feel.)


There’s a lot to the mind. Philosophers wouldn’t have spent the last few thousand years talking about it otherwise. It’s the center of our humanity, the source of thought, reason, logic, and emotion. What we do with it is up to us, but how we talk about it is a matter of language. There’s not too much room for variation here, except in the margins. As long as we’re thinking, we’ll have a verb to say that’s what we’re doing. As long as we can feel happiness, there will be a word for it.

Strictly speaking, the next part of this series, Part 25, is supposed to be about business. However, I’ve got other plans for the month of April, including some Patreon and Amazon releases, so I’m putting off the next installment of “Let’s Make a Language” until May. I’ve been going at it for about two years now, and I think I deserve a break.

Let’s make a language, part 23c: Food and drink (Ardari)

As with Isian, for the Ardari post I won’t be adding too many culture-specific words. Remember that these two conlangs are supposed to be a base on which to build. We’ll stick to generalities here.

For Ardari fès and fan (food and drink, respectively), the situation is largely the same. The three-meal structure is a little older, however, with indrajat “breakfast” and vòllrajat “lunch” being a bit fluid in their timing, but dèllar “dinner” always coming last.

Women aren’t the only ones to cook (lòsty-) in Ardari society. Men do, too, but only in certain ways. It’s the man’s job, for instance, to cook certain kinds of meat (arba). And either sex can bake (päk-), especially if they’re baking bread (namis päk ky). Frying (taynönda) is usually a woman’s job, though.

Ardari speakers eat more meat than their Isian neighbors, and they like their beverages. In addition to vingo (“wine”, usually imported), they have a drink made from a kind of milk (mechi) that is at least as alcoholic. If you don’t like that, though, you can always opt for simple obla “water”.

Soups and stews (both senses are covered by the general term zow) are common, usually laden with different kinds of èlyat “spice”; the historically recent introduction of New World crops expanded this part of the Ardari chef’s repertoire considerably. Salt (akor) used to be just as important, but modern advances have demoted it to just another type of seasoning.

Word List

General terms
  • beverage/drink: fan
  • dinner: dèllar
  • food: fès
  • meal: rajat
  • oven: gralla
  • to bake: päk-
  • to cook: lòsty-
  • to drink: kabus-
  • to eat: tum-
  • to fry: tayn-
Specific foodstuffs
  • bread: nami
  • cheese: kyèsi
  • flour: plari
  • honey: wychi
  • meat: arba
  • milk: mechi
  • oil: dub
  • salt: akor
  • soup: zow
  • spice: èlyat
  • sugar: susi
  • water: obla
  • wine: vingo

Let’s make a language, part 23b: Food and drink (Isian)

There aren’t too many new words this time around, but that’s because (as I said in the intro post for this part) many “meal” terms are largely untranslatable. In addition, a lot of foods simply use the terms for the plant or animal they are derived from, so choch “chicken” can refer to both the bird and its meat, and an Isian speaker can eat puri “apples” just as easily (grammatically speaking) as he can grow them.

So let’s take a look at a few words that are specific to the preparation and consumption of food and drink. First, we’ll start with the basic terms for those two concepts: tema and jasan. Isian speakers used to only have two basic meals (aydis) during a day, but modern times have imported the three-meals-a-day standard. Two or three, the most important is dele, “dinner”, meant to be eaten with one’s family after a long day.

It’s usually the Isian woman who cooks (piri). Some men do, but this is the exception rather than the rule. One popular type of cooking is baking (atri, “to bake”), in which food is placed into an oven (otal). There are, of course, other methods, however.

As with many societies, the most important ingredient for most foods is flour, or cha, which is most often used to make pinda, a kind of bread. Dinner usually includes a kind of meat (shek) somewhere, sometimes in a dab “soup”, and often prepared with hac “salt” and various jagir “spices”; the old days, when seasonings were restricted to the wealthy, are long gone.

Dairy products are common, with mel “milk” often being turned into such products as kem “cheese”. For sweetening, Isian speakers have sugar (sije), but some recipes instead call for simya “honey”. As for drinks, water (shos) is the simplest, but many adults are not opposed to a glass of uni “wine”.

Word list

General terms
  • beverage/drink: jasan
  • dinner: dele
  • food: tema
  • meal: aydi(s)
  • oven: otal
  • to bake: atri
  • to cook: piri
  • to drink: jesa
  • to eat: hama
Generic foodstuffs
  • bread: pinda(r)
  • cheese: kem
  • flour: cha
  • honey: simya
  • meat: shek
  • milk: mel
  • oil: gul
  • salt: hac
  • soup: dab
  • spice: jagi(r)
  • sugar: sije
  • water: shos
  • wine: uni

Let’s make a language, part 23a: Food and drink (Intro)

Food. It’s wonderful, it’s delicious, it’s nutritious. We need it to survive, but we have turned that necessity into one of the great simple pleasures of life. And let’s not forget about drinks, either. Without applying our knowledge of foods to the beverage side of things, we’d essentially be limited to drinking water and fruit juice.

In language, terms relating to food and drink can make up a large portion of a lexicon. There are just so many ways of creating a meal, so many ingredients you can use. The sheer size of this linguistic smorgasbord can be enormous. So let’s break it down into a few subtopics.


One of the hallmarks of humanity is cooking. How many other animals go to the trouble of preparing food over a fire, or in a sealed box, or in boiling water? And cooking is an ancient practice, one shared by essentially every culture on Earth. We might do things a lot differently from our Neolithic ancestors, but they’d understand our reasons.

But there’s more than one way to cook. Think about all the different implements in your kitchen, and how each one serves a different purpose. We can bake, boil, roast, or fry our food, for instance. Fancier meals can be sautéed, modern ones microwaved. If you’re cooking Chinese, you might stir fry (a compound phrase). A Southerner like myself may instead want something barbecued. And the list goes on.

That’s just for the cooking part itself. Before that, we often perform a number of preparatory steps, and these can also fall under the umbrella of food-related vocabulary. A meal might call for diced tomatoes or chopped onions, for example. Sometimes, we’ll have to tenderize meat or slice some vegetables. Later on, we may need to stir. Many of these words are plainly derived—diced pieces of a food look like dice, naturally—but some can be native.

Let’s not forget the tools we use to cook, either. We’ve got the oven for baking, the stove for a lot of other jobs. Modern American homes are equipped with a microwave oven (usually shortened to microwave, which also functions as a verb, as we saw above). The cabinets will be full of pots and pans, as well as spoons, knives, and the like. Also, we’ve already seen things like cups and bowls that are needed by any would-be chef.

Preparing, like anything else to do with food, is culture-specific, but the basics are fairly general. Still, that hasn’t stopped a number of loanwords entering English, and the same would be true for any other language that comes into contact with a new way of making food. We’ve got, for example, the wok, used in Asian cuisine. There wasn’t a good word to describe the process of sauteing, so we borrowed the one the French used when they taught it to us. As we’ve seen so often, borrowings will be for those things the native language doesn’t already have words for, especially those concepts that aren’t really native.


Human nutritional needs have forced upon us the broad outline of a diet. We all need protein, carbohydrates, a set of vitamins and minerals, and at least some fat (not too much, though). Conveniently enough, in every location where civilization developed, the local flora and fauna offered some way of getting everything we require. For example, the Americas don’t have native wheat—it first grew in western Asia—but corn is a decent substitute, nutritionally speaking. Well, except that it doesn’t provide some essential vitamins. But never fear: beans do, and they grow in practically the same place! The same is true around the world.

Which plants and animals a culture eats will be very dependent on where—and when—that culture lives. In modern or future times, there will be a greater variety of food on the table. Pre-industrial cultures, by contrast, will have a more restricted set of “native” foodstuffs. In general, you can follow the guidelines in parts 19 and 20 for this.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. We eat a lot of different things, and most of them, even in ancient times, came from somewhere else. The most famous of these would have to be the spices. For millennia, these have been some of the most sought-after substances in the world, fueling wars, imperialism, colonialism, trade, exploration, and so much more. Had cloves and cinnamon and cardamom been native to France, Italy, and Britain, the world today would be a very different place. And many of the words we use for these spices are borrowed, often through a chain of languages that might include any of French, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Sanskrit, Malay, Chinese, and many more. On a more mundane note, simple salt is a necessary ingredient for our lives, and it’s far more likely to have a native name.


When do your speakers eat? We’re used to three meals a day nowadays, but that’s far from an absolute. And even when it is the case, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll always be breakfast in the morning, lunch around noon, and an evening dinner or supper. (What about second breakfast? Elevenses? Afternoon tea?) Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t gloss your conlang’s meal names into our three, but here’s a place to add in those subtle connotations. As an example of my own: one of my conlangs, Virisai, is spoken by a culture that values lunch as the most important social meal of the day, using it as a break from work, a time to converse with one’s friends, and so on. For them, breakfast is more perfunctory, just enough to wake you up, and dinner is strictly for family.

Whatever you do here, you can work on as many little details as you like. Maybe your speakers have words for different spoons. Perhaps a knife for cutting meat is named differently from the one that cuts pies. Or there could be a different set of meals for some days—or times when there are no meals at all, as with Islam’s Ramadan. Anything like this could have a native word or phrase to describe it.


Water, of course, is the most basic drink. Everything else, technically speaking, would be a beverage, and they’re quite specific to a culture. Still, we can draw a number of conclusions by looking around the world. Juice is popular, for instance, though the fruits used are local or regional. Tea and coffee are drinks of choice for billions of people today; your speakers might imbibe them, or have something of the same sort. (Another example of mine: the speakers of my Virisai conlang, being descended from Native Americans, have neither of these, but they have a caffeinated herbal drink made from a native plant.)

Alcohol itself isn’t a drink (unless you’re crazy enough to drink Everclear), but beverages including it have been made for thousands of years, in just about every corner of the world. We’re all familiar with beer (and some of us even know the difference between ales, lagers, stouts, etc.), and any culture you can name will have its own brew, with its main ingredient probably one of the local grains. Grapes are the most common providers of wine, another popular drink throughout history. Fermentation can create other concoctions than these, like the fermented milk of Mongolia. (And where there’s alcohol, there’s sure to be drunkenness and a backlash against the stuff, but that’s for another post.)

Most stronger stuff (usually all described as liquor by laymen) came about later, as distillation became a thing. Here again we see cultural varieties springing up. The Irish have their whisky/whiskey, the Russians their vodka. Scotch, brandy, cognac, moonshine…the list could go on forever. But it’s a sure bet that almost all the words on that list will be loans, except those for the local creations.

Next time

The world of food and drink can keep you occupied for a long time, whether you’re exploring it in word or in physical form. (I’m writing this the day after Christmas, so it’s the latter for me right now.) It’s a great place to delve into the culture behind your conlang, though. And not only that culture. Loanwords and coinages abound in our dietary vocabulary. Even the most American American won’t balk at eating pizza (an Italian word) or a hamburger (literally someone from Hamburg, Germany). We may have more loans than most, thanks to immigration, but I doubt you’ll find, say, a Brit who’s never heard of curry.

Once you’ve cleaned your plate, so to speak, it’s time to move on. After a meal is a good time for reflection, so our next topic will be the mind. We’ll look at our inner thought processes, and we’ll see how language attempts to describe them. For now, it’s time to go. All this talk about food has made me hungry.

Let’s make a language, part 22c: Around the house (Ardari)

Linguistically speaking, one of the main differences between Ardari and Isian is that the former doesn’t use compounding to create the names of its rooms. The basic term for a room is dan, but room names all use the -ègh suffix denoting a place or location where an action takes place. So the bedroom is rhèchègh “sleeping place”, the kitchen a lòstyègh “cooking place”, and so on. These are actually generic terms created relatively recently, and some Ardari people still use older, nonstandard words for them.

Inside the rooms, things are much as you’d expect. The bedroom has a mäs “bed”, the dining room features kombas “table” and söton “chair”. In the kitchen you’ll find a sink, or pläsimi. The list goes on, but that’s assuming you’re allowed in. Ardari speakers value their privacy, so the front door will often have a lock (èpri), for which you will need a key (äkja).

Because Ardari has its more complex nominal morphology, we can see a little more of the cultural context here. Note, for example, the gender of some of the words for tools and furnishings. The basket (vevi) is feminine, as are the pot (gyazi) and dish (alli), whereas the knife (yagha) is decidedly masculine. This is most likely a result of certain tasks once being seen as preferring men or women—Ardari women do the cooking and washing, for instance, while cutting things is more of a man’s job. Finally, there’s the curious case of the masculine äkja and feminine èpri; this may be most easily explained as a kind of sexual connotation. Keys fitting into locks, you know.

Word List

  • room: dan
  • bedroom: rhèchègh
  • bathroom: oznèrègh
  • kitchen: lòstyègh
  • dining room: tumègh
  • living room: simègh
  • blade: kirda
  • brush: sols
  • clock: khrona
  • fork: bènk
  • hammer: tojrin
  • key: äkja
  • knife: yagha
  • lamp: djol
  • lock: èpri
  • spoon: lyom
  • basket: vevi
  • bathtub: pläs
  • bed: mäs
  • bottle: cholya
  • bowl: ghob
  • box: aröng
  • chair: söton
  • cup: kykad
  • desk: kyard
  • dish: alli
  • pan: mir
  • pot: gyazi
  • sack: sòpya
  • sink: pläsimi
  • table: kombas