Here is a brief summary of essays that I've written over the past several years about the design of artificial or 'constructed' languages. Do not confuse artificial languages (henceforth ALs, also called 'conlangs') with computer programming languages. Although my approach to language design is formal, the languages that I discuss are intended to be used by people to communicate with each other. In some of the essays, I also discuss how to design these languages so that they are 'computer-tractable'; that is, languages that can be used by people, but which can also be used to communicate easily and accurately with computers.
This essay discusses how to select the phonemes of a language based on what the language is intended to accomplish, and on how much pronunciation difficulty is acceptable.
This essay discusses how to design the surface morphology of a language (i.e. the 'shapes' of words) such that the words are easy to pronounce as well as computer-tractable.
How to design a language with a morphology similar to Arabic and other semitic languages.
This article provides a brief description of linguistic universals, and then recommends some books that discuss universals in much more detail.
This essay discusses syntax, and how certain aspects of syntax can differ among natural languages. It also teaches how to use a modified version of Backus-Naur form to define the syntax of a language, and provides a complete syntax for an AL that is extremely flexible while also being extremely simple and easy-to-learn.
This essay discusses anaphora and how they can be implemented without ambiguity in an AL.
This essay discusses one approach to dealing with words of opposite meaning. For a much more thorough treatment of opposites, read the monograph Lexical Semantics, discussed below.
This essay discusses how changes in transitivity are accomplished among natural languages, and how the apparent flexibility of a system like that of English is not only uncommon, but also not really flexible. For a much more thorough treatment of transitivity, read the monograph Lexical Semantics, discussed below.
This is a very brief introduction to a word design system. For a comprehensive treatment of the same topic, read the monograph Lexical Semantics, discussed below.
This is actually a complete monograph on the topic of word design. It attempts to discuss the semantics of all of the concepts that a language will need to represent, and how to design words to represent these concepts in a regular and semantically precise way. It illustrates the techniques by means of a sample language (called Ladekwa) that is both easy-to-pronounce and morphologically self-segregating.
WARNING! This monograph is very long (about 700 kbytes)!
This essay is about the use of metaphor in ALs, why they should be avoided, and how they can be avoided.