Mirad Grammar/Why Mirad?
Native Roots vs. Foreign BorrowingsEdit
- In English, we have many words like ichthyology, which baffle younger speakers of the language, because they are borrowed from a foreign language, in this case, classical Greek. This word, which could just as easily and more rationally be the Anglicized fishlore, means the science of fish. If a word in English relates to fish, why is fish not a part of the word? Even for modern day Greeks to understand the word ιχθυολογία (ichthyologia), they have to know the ancient root ιχθύς (ichthys) for fish, which has long been supplanted by the current word everyone uses, ψάρι (psari). What I'm saying is that the vocabulary of English, as is the case in many other natural languages, is a hodgepodge of borrowings, irregular spellings, and words cobbled from obscure roots that have little recognizability for the average speaker.
- While English is a melting pot of words, there are some languages that do less borrowing and less non-discriminate formation of words that do not associate with one another through some root or pattern. Icelandic, for example, does not borrow very much from other languages and its words are formed using roots familiar to speakers of that language. The Icelandic word for library is bokasafn, which literally, is book collection ( = saving). Any child in that language knows what the word means immediately, because it is composed of root words that are obvious. The English word library makes sense only if you know the Latin roots libr- (book) and -ary (place of).
- Arabic, by contrast, is a language that has a system of word-building based on a rational association of consonants and vowel patterns, such that most all the words relating to books and writing contain the three consonants k-t-b. Over the centuries, the system has been polluted with irregularities, but at least the consciousness of associations of words based on a root pattern is there and is still used today to coin new words.
- In Turkish, the bulk of words having to do with knowledge contain the native root bil. Because of this, most of these words will be grouped on the same pages in a dictionary. For example: bildik known, bildirim announcement, bilecen know-it-all, bilgi knowledge, bilgili knowledgeable, bilgin scolar, etc. A word such as unknowability inevitably contains the root bil and can be learned fairly easily by a young student of the language.
- Mirad has a vocabulary-building system with approximately 400 morphemes (word bases) that are used to form derived words in the same sense family in accordance with a set of word-building rules. Words that are related semantically will share the same bulk of letters. For example, iva (happy), ivla (glad), and ivra (delighted) share the root morpheme iv- and differ only in one letter. The opposite of happy is derived by switching the vowel in the root morpheme from i to the negative counterpart u, such that uva means sad. Similarly, uvla (dissatisfied) and uvra (glum) are opposite counterparts to the extended iv- words.
- In Mirad, every letter of a word has some semantic or grammatical function. All words are part of a system. If you know the word for to lengthen, then you automatically know the word for to shorten. The rules for deriving new words from existing words are consistent across the language. In Mirad, there is no such thing as irregular conjugation of verbs as in English write, wrote, written. Nouns are pluralized in one way only across the board, unlike the multiple, unpredictable ways German words are pluralized. Prepositions have one meaning, as contrasted with the multiple, inscrutable meanings of Russian prepositions.
- Words in Mirad are pronounced as they are written, with no exceptions. One letter is used for one sound. Only Roman letters are used in the alphabet, and there are no pesky diacritics (accents). Word stress is regular.
Random vs. Systematic Word-buildingEdit
- What if we took this root association to the maximum degree and ensured that all words in a language were constructed on logical, associational, and regular principles with roots that are obvious to the learner? That would be the way Mirad does it.
Deriving Opposites by Vowel-switchingEdit
- A very simple principle in Mirad is that a good portion of the vocabulary can be guessed by the learner without looking up words in the dictionary. All descriptive adjectives can be changed to their opposite with a simple change of vowel. For example, if you know fia (good), then you automatically know fua (bad). This is possible by knowing the rule of contrastive vowels: i is a positive vowel and contrasts with u, a negative vowel. Similarly, a contrasts with o, so that the opposite of aza (strong) is--you guessed it--oza (weak). In fact, if you know that e is an intermediate vowel, then you understand that eza means moderate. These simple principles of word-building mean that students of the language can cut down on their learning time by at least 50%.
Using Consonants and Vowels to Vary DomainsEdit
- Another principle is that the beginning and/or closing consonants of a word in Mirad give you clues as to the meaning. All sentient creatures have the final stem consonant t, such that dat (friend), tot (god), at (I), tuzut (artist), and pit (fish) all refer to sentient creatures. The root stems of all words having to do with communication, begin with the letter d, eg. der (to say), dud (answer), dyes (book), dar (language), etc. The internal vowels of root stems very often indicate concepts such as sky, land, sea or up vs. down, or zeroth, first, second, or toward the speaker vs. away from the speaker, and on and on.
- In English, as in many other languages, there was probably some attempt to associate words in this way. Take for example, the series sing, sang, sung, song, singer, songstress or drip, drop, droop, dribble. More often than not, there is very little association among English words that are obviously distinguished by the one feature, size, eg. mountain, hill, knob, bump, pimple. In Mirad, these are all distinguished regularly by a scalarizing enumerative vowel. The Mirad days of the week are not a series of Roman- or Teutonic-related concepts, Moon-day, Tiw's-day, Woden's-day, Thor's-day, Freya's-day, Saturn-day, and Sun-day, all of which are a matter of memorization by the child or student of the language. Mirad days of the week consist rather of a series of words numerically arranged "day-one, day-two, day-three, etc. This is actually the approach taken by quite a few natural languages like Portuguese.
- The months, too, ought to be learned in 10 seconds, by knowing that an internal vowel of the root expresses the numerical order of the months. Again, there are some natural languages that do this. By knowing that jiab means month one, January, then by knowing how to count in the language, the word for September can be readily deduced as jiyub (month ten).
- The formulaic language of chemistry is a pretty good likeness of Mirad. There is a world-recognized symbolic, taxonomic relationship between H2O and C2O. Mirad goes a step further in naming the chemical elements by their number of electrons plus a consonant/vowel combination indicating whether the element is a solid, liquid, gas, etc. The Mirad word for hydrogen, therefore, is amsal. The stem vowel a is the number one for the number of electrons. The ms consonant combination means metalloid, while the al ending is a stub for mal meaning gas. Similarly, the stem vowels of the names of animals indicate their primary habitat: air, land, sea, or combinations of these. Other combinations of letters indicate whether the animal is domestic, predatory, wild, etc. From then on, its enumeration based on factors such as commonness, taxonomic relationships, etc. Likewise, with human and animal body terms, the stem vowel indicates location on the body, such as head, trunk, or limbs. Then another vowel delineates in a directional way where on the head: upper, middle, lower, and so forth. Just by looking at the word for a body part for the first time, by knowing the system, you can tell at least approximately that it is, say, a higher joint of the arm.
Words in the language can be mnemonically associated to body terms by changing the initial domain consonant accordingly, so, while teb means head, xeb in the x or work/action domain is boss, deb in the social/political domain is leader, etc.
- The following chart shows in this mnemonic echoing in action, where the letters before -ub suggest the domain:
Mnemonic Echoing DOMAIN WORD human (body) tub....arm work/action xub....subsidiary, branch plants fub....limb, branch, bough(of a tree) fish pitub....fin birds patub....wing flowers vosub....shoot, sprig society/politics dub....minister, department head building tomub....wing (of a building) vegetation vub....twig, offshoot animal potub....paw nature mub....promontory river mifub....oar things sub....ramification, offshoot table semub....flap (of a table) rotating things zyufub....rudder
In conclusion, Mirad uses many different techniques to short-cut the difficulty of learning new words or recognizing terms. The vowels, consonants, mnemonics, scalarization, taxonomy and many other methods are used to make the vocabulary as rational and intuitive as possible. Unlike in most natural languages, words like snow and sleet are going to have sounds in common in Mirad. I have never found a language other than Mirad where the words for ice, water, and steam are derived from one another even though we all know that are actually all H2O in different temperature states.