Codon is a language I am currently inventing based (loosely) off the rules governing RNA. It consists of a 64-word vocabulary.
This week, we go into some of the more arcane parts of speech as we choose vocabulary concepts. Next week will be grammar, and the final entry will deal with creating a writing system.
Previous entries can be found here:
Determiners (6 words)
A determiner is sort of a weird word, but it’s necessary. Determiners help you figure out what a noun is referencing: the girl, a child, some drinks, both cars. This can be through definite or indefinite articles (“the” or “an”), through quantitative words (numbers, “some”, “many”), possessives (“my”, “yours”), or demonstratives (“this”, “that”).
We already have quantitative words up in the nouns. So that leaves us with articles, possessives, and demonstratives.
We want one definite article: the indefinite can be implied.
And we want three possessives: my, your, theirs.
Leaving us with two words for demonstratives. “This” and “that” always seemed a little similar to me, so I’ll change it around. We’ll have “this” and “both or all”, something to demonstrate all choices in a set of options.
Pronouns (6 words)
A pronoun is a noun that can stand in for another noun: “he”, “it”, “I”.
If you’ve studied another language, you’ll understand how straightforward this section is. Three singular pronouns:
And three plurals:
CUCUCU: you (plural)
Adverbs (5 words)
An adverb is a modifier of a verb or verb phrase. We know them mostly as the “-ly” words: suddenly, happily, morosely. They also serve to answer questions: “in what way”, “when”, “how”, “where”, and “to what extent”. There are a number of adverbs that serve other functions in English, but we’re not going to bother with them for the moment: we’ll use our five words as the answerers of those questions and… Well, this.
CUUCAG: notes that an adverb is modifying another adverb
Because that happens. Wikipedia uses the example “she spoke very loudly”, where “very” modifies “loudly”.
The remaining four will be used for the questions. “How” and “in what way” have been combined.
CUUCGA: how/in what way (-ly)
CUUCUC; where (-ly)
UCAGAG: to what extent (-ly)
Note that these words do not actually make an adverb. Rather, once we establish a grammar, we can use these words to establish other phrases and words as adverbs. There’s another cool side effect to this: because these modifiers are words on their own, they can be used as question words as well.
We’ll work the details out when we get to grammar.
Adjectives (5 words)
Adjectives are basically the adverbs of nouns. They’re describing words: they tell you if something is dull or creative, brown or white, bombastic or mundane. And just as we have modifiers for the verbs, we’ll make modifiers for the nouns.
Wikipedia gives us the most common adjectives in English as: good, new, first, last, long, great, little, own, other, old. We’ll use five of these. “Good” we already have as an adjective, but it illustrates the need to adjectivise nouns, so:
UCAGGA: adjective modifier
“New” and “old” can be the same word, as can “first” and “last”. “Long” and “great” can be merged, and can be used to make “little” and “short”. “Own” can be used with a modified pronoun. Which gives us…
Two more. I pick from the Wikipedia list:
Conjunctions (3 words)
Conjunctions (which you may know from this wonderful video) connect concepts together.
Schoolhouse Rock gives three pretty-good ones: “and”, “but” and “or”. “And” and “or” are pretty popular: we also end up with “either” or “neither” or “nor”, or “into”. “And” is the opposite of “but”, as Schoolhouse Rock tells us, so we can just use “and”. So I’ll go with the following:
That seems to cover the basics.
Punctuation (4 words)
These we’ve already covered: three “stop” words and a “start” word. “Start” is pretty self-explanatory, but why do we need three “stop” words?
We don’t, really, but because it fits our rules we’ll find a way to use them. In fact, this seems like a perfect way to make tense. Each “stop” word will come at the end of a clause and designate at what place in time the sentence is set.
UCUCCU: occurred in the past
UCUCUC: is currently occurring
UCCUGA: will occur in the future
Extras (3 words)
We now have three extra words to do with as we please. One of these is already integral to our language, so I’ll designate it now:
UCCUCU: non or not, opposite of concept
Which leaves the following:
As I said before, I’m not specially trained in this. There are undoubtedly concepts that I have not covered, things I’ve overlooked. So I’m asking for input: what can we use these final two words for?
Comment with your answers below and we’ll go over it next time, before we delve into grammar.