Friday, September 2, 2011


Recently there was a post I replied to on the Conlangs group on Facebook that asked for verbs that mean "play" or "have fun". I shared and then offered a brief explanation for voya and lon, which mean "play (pretend or with toys)" and "play (a game or sport)". I was questioned about which verb would be used for playing with a ball. I offered a non-explanation that there was some overlap and that the meaning could be shaded in different ways. Now I am going to offer a better explanation.

Voya is open-ended play. If you're out throwing a ball back and forth, that's voya. Lon is competitive play, or any game where score is kept. If you and a friend are throwing the ball and seeing who hits a target more, that's lon. If you're throwing the ball at the target by yourself, it's lon if you're counting hits and trying to improve your numbers, but it is voya if you're just throwing the ball at the target for fun and not even keeping track. I have voya listed with ta, the sense of which is "doing" or "acting". (When I am showing the most likely combinations, I list them in first person singular and present(non-past) tense for the sake of simplicity and consistency, so ta voya is "I play".) Lon is listed with ka, the sense of which is "moving" or "going". On the other hand, if I am building with blocks, that might actually be fa voya, since fa indicates making, building, creating, and that sort of thing, while playing chess would probably be ta lon, since chess isn't particularly active. It might even be sa lon, since it is a thinking game.

I stink at chess. Playing against me is ti lon. Playing against someone good may be si lon. (I put these in 3rd person, since I don't normally play chess against myself. That would be reflexive anyway.)

Very few of my existing verbs have been stretched out as far as they could go. Most have one suggested usage. Some have two. I'd like to see more of them expanded along the lines of nedh, which defined this way: "pray (ca); meditate (sa); carry out a religious ritual (fa); worship (ta)".

If you wanted to shade the meaning of a verb a particular way, you might find this list handy:
  • be m/b 
  • do, act t/d 
  • make, create, build f /v 
  • go, move k /g 
  • receive, have, feel, perceive (senses) p /b 
  • give, think s/z 
  • bodily functions, music, speech c/j 
The former is the non-past, the latter is past. Yes, the past tense of both ma and pa is ba. That wasn't a mistake. I like my languages a little messy.

No comments: