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OLD Issues

  • Will borrowed words from hanzi-using languages be written as in that language, like 大君 for tycoon?
    I should expect so. —Muke Tever | 07:15, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
  • What do we do about concepts that differ between European and Asian langauges? There are hanzi for both older brother and younger brother while IE only has one, and there's no hanzi to distinguish cow from bull. I'm working from Japanese; there may be other characters in use in other languages.
    Well, *gwou- appears to not be gender-specific to start with, so it could just use 牛. Family terms may be a problem, we may just have to choose a "nearby" character arbitrarily and claim semantic drift. —Muke Tever | 07:15, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
  • I disagree with the usage of 男 and 女. For hero, there is the perfectly good 英 (Japanese: ei; Mandarin: ying1). For queen, there's 妃 (Japanese: kisaki; Mandarin: fei1) [primarily used for princess in Japanese though]. We could invent some, for instance, by composing 女皇, or we could use digraphs like Japanese; for instance, 明日 does not decompose into anything (in contrast to, say, something like 神風).
    The roots of hero and queen originally had the basic meaning of "man" and "woman". So there. :) --Vlad 07:47, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
  • Japanese has no word for "in", expressing it as "at the middle of". Is there a 字 we could use for it?
    Hmm, there's 在, which is Chinese basically for "is located at/in". Prepositions may be another rough spot. However maybe we could some of the 字 that stand for locations that Japanese doesn't use prepositions for as prepositions (though probably not 中, which could maybe stand better for *medhyo, En. middle, La. medium, Grc. mesos). —Muke Tever | 22:08, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)

Out of the choices for *al- [old] that were put up, I suspect "老" would be the better choice, as its meaning from what I can tell is closest to the original (something like "grow [old]"). Besides "old" and "altus" it also shows up in "alumnus", "adolescent", "adult", etc. [If not actually another character entirely? hmm...]

古 seems more likely for, say, *sen-, la: "senex", whence senior, senate, etc. (though for such a simple character maybe it should go to a more common root) —Muke Tever | 22:24, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)

  • In Japanese, 古 (mostly) refers to the age of objects, not people, so I don't think it would be appropriate for senex. --Vlad 22:37, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
  • Thirteen is three-ten, and thirty is thrice-ten. How do we distinguish pairs like these? It looks like this'll produce a whole lot of homographs. --Vlad 01:58, 2 Oct 2004 (PDT)
    • I like the word you coin for this. I suggest we fix this by writing down the infix, like in Japanese, ao(i)mori (green forest) vs. Aomori (place name). Maybe something like 三十 and 三回十 (or 三次十, or even 三ice十) (Granted, none of those will even look natural in Chinese or Japanese, the very fact is that they are ordering the morphememes in reverse is bad enough) - 刘 (劉) 振霖 04:59, 2 Oct 2004 (PDT)
    The -ty is not the same "ten" as |ten| is. It's from a Germanic element *tigu- (which may or may not be related) meaning something like "decad, group of ten" so we might use a separate character such as 拾 or perhaps better 什. [Similar goes for like Latin, where -gint- marks decads and -decim teens].

Unresolved Issues

  • Are there appropriate characters for prefixes and suffixes? A feminine suffix for regina and vixen would be useful, but not nearly as useful as the various suffixes Latin uses.
    A lot of the prefixes are just the regular prepositions, so we could use their 字 for them...—Muke Tever | 22:08, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
    Suffixes will be harder, as a lot of them outside a few basic ones like *-no- and *-to- they're pretty locally focussed. For example the suffix of vixen (*-i(:)n-) doesn't appear to be the same suffix as that of regina (originally *-niH2-, apparently)... For suffixes, then, perhaps we can break the root-correspondence and go for functional correspondence instead (but that'll mean establishing a standard set of correspondences, and finding a way to handle synonymous suffixes...)... Either that or just spell suffixes out. —Muke Tever | 22:08, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
  • How do we distinguish between a native word and a borrowed word using the same character? Will they be distinguished at all?
    Hmm. We could use a kind of furigana/ruby to spell out the word... or maybe use a 字 that represents the source language as determiner/disambiguator? —Muke Tever | 07:15, 30 Sep 2004 (PDT)
    Yeah, English in particular is going to have the onyomi/konyomi problem in spades. I recall a proposal (can't find it now) to use (optionally brush-stroke-styled) futhorc for okurigana. It would work for furigana, too, and it's an appealing proposal. But I wouldn't want to spell out every reading in full. I suggest minimal phonetic disambiguation. Let's take for an example break/frac-/frag-/-fring-/ and kin. Assume (I haven't checked) that in English overall, break is the most common reflex. Then, in standard orthography, it gets the bare character. (Well, OK. Actually, some of the senses of brake count here too: sheet-metal brakes and canebrakes are cognate with break, but vehicular brakes are not. So we'll need to sample a corpus, see what fraction of brake citations have those senses, and adjust the frequency counts to inflate the frequency of break and deflate brake accordingly.) Maybe frac- is next, so we write it with the character plus a ruby f; and then frag- with f, possibly a filler symbol, and g. By the time we get down to frangible and infringe, we've added the n and a vowel character, and then we hit friable, where we spell the root fr and use a symbol that means there are not other unwritten consonants, but that we are spelling the reading out in full. Of course, that's the generic public-schools-and-newspapers standard; a scientific journal might adopt a house style guide that says frac- or frag- is written without ruby, and require a b for break; likewise a tort law publication would surely write infringe without annotating it every time. There's one other problem with this, which is the spelling of vowels; vowel systems of English dialects vary like mad even before you try to spell them with an orthography (like futhorc or Roman letters) that reflects an archaic form of the system. It's not such a problem for frangible and infringe, but there could easily be some IE root that has two reflexes in English that differ only in vowel, and whose vowels are pronounced very differently in different dialects. We could adopt the heavy approach, which is to declare or create a reference dialect and spell the vowels according to it, or we could adopt a lighter approach: Repurpose the vowel runes as vowel-quality runes that mean 'front,' 'back,' 'high,' 'low,' 'tense,' 'lax,' or what have you. (Faking up, of course, a fairly mnemonic pairing so that the 'i' rune means either 'high' or 'front', etc.) Then we write these pairs with minimal indication of the necessary contrast, and let each reader render the particulars of the vowel according to dialect. I think this is much prettier, more flexible, and more Han-like (Hanly? Hannish?) than trying to explicitly render the full pronunciation from one reference dialect would be. Eritain 21:07, 6 December 2006 (PST)
  • What's to be done about words that replace the original IE stem? If 犬 is to be English hound, then what will dog be?
  • What about taboo forms?

-to- suffix

For the suffix *-to-, which in most languages (except, um, Greek) represents a completed action, I suggest maybe 了, which in Chinese forms a similar function (marking perfective aspect). So for example en: "right" and la: "rect(us)" would be 「王了」. —Muke Tever | 06:35, 2 Oct 2004 (PDT)

  • I'm not sure, but I'm guessing this developed into the Latin perfect participle. What about the thematic vowel? Would that be written, or considered part of the root? That would be nice, as it makes the conjugations appear a lot more orderly. :) --Vlad 22:05, 2 Oct 2004 (PDT)
Yeah, it's the participle. It's also the English participle and past tense in -ed, and also the ordinal number marker -th: 四了 = fourth/quart(us), and 十了 = tenth/tithe... I think we can get away with dropping the stem vowel when there's no (or little) ambiguity, but it may become a problem later... that and ablaut. It seems all fine to add letters to the end of a word but they don't look the same in the middle. We may have to import Bopomofo or some such. ;) —Muke Tever | 06:44, 3 Oct 2004 (PDT)
Where do you get your information? :) I feel like I'm missing out. --Vlad 08:09, 3 Oct 2004 (PDT)
My main sources are Calvert Watkins, American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (much of which is available online, [1]),
Andrew Sihler, New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin,
and Julius Pokorny, Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (whose data is at ) —Muke Tever | 13:22, 3 Oct 2004 (PDT)
  • Won't it look a bit odd, having all those English verbs of Latin origin ending with -ate written as though they were pas tense? And then reduplicating for the real past tense? Ugh.. --Vlad 23:24, 4 Oct 2004 (PDT)
    Perhaps... I guess that's what we get for borrowing so many verbs in participle form :|
    For cleanliness' sake, isn't there a 字 that indicates the previous sign be doubled? 々, I believe. We could use that for reduplication too, maybe.
    Hmm, the basic sense of "了" is "perfect", which is something that is basically default in English anyway: imperfects ("progressives") are marked specially, with -ing. Thus e.g. 予(na)了 "donate" doesn't get used in any imperfect constructions: only in things like "I donate [regularly]" (habitual), "[If] I donate" (irrealis), and "I [will/should/like to] donate" (infinitive). If it was past, we'd have "予(na)了々" (it will look like a "rule" that verbs in -了 take a ppl in -々) or "(was) 予(na)了ing". So it mightn't look too odd, except in the case of verbs that have 了-less homographs.... —Muke Tever | 07:19, 5 Oct 2004 (PDT)


What to do with all the synonyms? There are probably 5+ roots meaning "to shine"; I can't use the same hanzi for all of them! -- Ran 13:52, 3 Oct 2004 (PDT)

There are synonymous and near-synonymous hanzi as well. Kanjidic has at least ten 字 with a gloss of at least "shine" as well: 輝照耀陽暉曄焜煥煕熈... Ideally we'd pick 字 that have in their use connotations similar to those that show in their descendent words, though this mayn't always be possible.
Note also that PIE meanings, though usually given pretty definitely, are somewhat flexible as well. For example the basic form given for a root is a verb, although many are used just as much so for nouns as well (which means that even a "verb" root doesn't need to be spelled with a "verb" 字). —Muke Tever | 19:13, 3 Oct 2004 (PDT)

Thinking of breathing life into this again..perhaps there's a better way of going about the assignment of 字 to roots? --Vlad 03:03, 7 Nov 2004 (PST)

(Yeah, lack of action I partly blame on myself; I haven't been in a creative way at all lately, whether for conlangs or otherwise...) —Muke Tever | 06:34, 7 Nov 2004 (PST)


Would it be going to far to create our own 字? I was thinking for dog (and OE docga) we could have 犬 (hound) with some phonetic on the side. --Vlad 04:42, 7 Nov 2004 (PST)

Hmm, I don't know. Does unicode have a method for building 字 this way? Or would they be all divided online? (I suggest 狗, btw.) —Muke Tever | 06:34, 7 Nov 2004 (PST)
I'm not sure. But if there is a way, there probably aren't any fonts that do it anyway... There is combining grapheme joiner (034F). :shrugs:--Vlad 21:49, 7 Nov 2004 (PST)
Kind of -- there's the "Ideographic Description Characters" block at U+2FF0-U+2FFF which has metacharacters for things such as "character composed of two characters side-by-side" etc. -- pne 09:30, 10 July 2006 (PDT)

And so 犬狗 = hound-dog. Let's hear it for redundancy! :-P

Archived stuff

Older content that may or may not be superseded:

IE Meaning English Latin Greek
*ad- to, near, at at ad
驅 / 趕 *ag- to drive, draw, move ag(o), ag(ere), eg(i), ac(tus)
*agh- a day (considered as a span of time) day, daw(n) (d- is a bit suss)
*agro- field (probably derivative of *ag-) acre ager, agr(i)
*aik- to be master of, possess ough(t), owe, ow(n)
襲 ? *aim- copy aem(ulus); im(itor), im(itari), im(itatus)
*ais- to wish, desire as(k)
壽 ? *aiw-, ayu- vital force, life, long life, eternity  ? aev(um); ae(tas); ae(ternus) (→eon)
*ak- sharp egg (to egg on), ha(mmer)? ac(us); ac(er), ac(ris), ac(re)
*akʷ-ā- water is(land) aqu(a)
*al- beyond o(ther), el(se) il(le)?; ul(s), ul(tra); al(ter); al(ius) (→allo-)
*al- to grow, nourish ol(d), el(der) al(tus); al(mus); al(o), al(ere), al(ui), al(tus)
*al- all all, al(beit), al(ready), al(so), al(though), al(ways)
*albho- white elf? alb(us)
幻 ? *alu- in words related to sorcery, magic, possession, and intoxication ale
*ambhi, m̥bhi around (probably *ant-bhi, from both sides)  ? amb(io); amb(ulo) (→amphi-)
*an- on on
*anə- spirit/breath, to breathe ani(mus); ani(mal); (halo < *ans-lo-?) ἄνεμος
*angh- tight, painfully constricted, painful
鬼 ? *ansu- spirit, demon
*ant- front, forehead
*apo-, ap- off, away
*ar-, arə- to fit together
*arg- to shine, white; the shining or white metal, silver
燃 ? *as- to burn, glow
行 / 年 *at- to go; with germanic and latin derivatives meaning a year (conceived as "the period gone through, the revolving year")
*āter- fire
*au- to perceive
*aug- to increase
耀 *aus- to shine
*aus- gold [may be same root as 耀 *aus- shine] aurum
禽 / 鳥 / 隹 *awi- bird
伯 / 叔 / 舅 *awo- an adult male relative other than one's father
*ayer- day, morning
*ayes- a metal, copper or bronze
*bak- staff used for support
*bel- strong
耀 ? *bhā- to shine
曰 / 云 *bhā- to speak
*bha-bhā- broad bean
好 / 良 *bhad- good
*bhag- to share out, apportion, also to get a share
*bhāgu- arm
*bhāgo- beech tree
*bhardh-ā- beard
*bhares-, bhars- barley
*bhau- to strike
*bhegʷ- to run
*bhei- a bee
*bheid- to split; with Germanic derivatives referring to biting (hence also to eating and to

hunting) and woodworking

*bheidh- to trust, confide, persuade
耀 ? *bhel- to shine, flash, burn; shining white and various bright colors
*bhel- to blow, swell; with derivatives referring to various round objects and to the notion of tumescent masculinity
*bhel- flower, thrive, bloom bloom, blossom, [blood] flos, folium φύλλον
*bhelgh- to swell
繫 / 束 / 縛 *bhendh- to bind
負 / 孕 *bher- to carry; also to bear children
*bher- bright, brown
*bherəg- to shine; bright, white
*bhergh- to hide, protect
*bhergh- high; with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts
呼 / 吸 *bhes- to breathe
覺 / 察 *bheudh- to be aware, to make aware
存 / 生 *bheuə-, bheu to be, exist, grow
*bheug- to bend; with derivatives referring to bent, pliable, or curved objects
*bhlē- to blow
*bhleu- to swell, well up, overflow
*bhoso- naked
兄 / 弟 *bhrāter- brother, male agnate
*bhreg- to break
*bhreu-, bhreuə-, bhreəu- to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn; with derivatives referring to cooking and brewing
*bhrū- eyebrow
*dā- to divide
*dail- to divide
*daiwer- husband's brother
*dakru- tear lacri(ma) δάκρυ(ον)
此 / 是 *de- demonstrative stem, base of prepositions and adverbs
顯 / 宣 *deik- to show, pronounce solemnly; also in derivatives referring to the directing of words or objects
*dek- to take, accept
*dekm ten
*deks- right (opposite left); hence, south (from the viewpoint of one facing east) dex(ter) δεξ(ιός)
*del- long
計 / 數 *del- to recount, count
*dem- house, household
*demə- to constrain, force, especially to break in (horses)
*dens- learn, use one's mind δάω (*dnso:) "learn", redupl. δι-δάσκω (→ didact-) "teach"
*dent- tooth
*der- to split, peel, flay; with derivatives referring to skin and leather
䁐 ? *derk- to see (draco) δρᾰκών, δέρκομαι
堅 / 木 *deru-, dreu- to be firm, solid, steadfast; hence specialized senses "wood", tree" and derivatives referring to objects made of wood
*deu- to lack, be wanting
*deu- to do, perform, show favor, revere
*deuə-, dwaə long (in duration)
*deuk- to lead
*dhē- to set, put
*dhegʷw- to burn, warm
*dhē(i)- to suck
建 / 築 *dheigh- to form, build
*dher- to hold firmly, support
*dhers- to venture, be bold
示 / 祭 ? *dhēs- root of words in religious concepts
*dheu- to flow dew
死 / 亡 *dheu- to die dea(d), dea(th), die
深 / 虛 *dheub-, dheubh- deep, hollow deep
成 ? *dheuə- to close, finish, come full circle (probably related to *dheu-, to die) tow(n) fu(nus)
*dheugh- to produce something of utility  ? (teukhos)
*dhghem- earth  ? hum(us); hom(o), hom(inis) (khthon)
*dhgh(y)es- yesterday yes(terday)
插 / 修 ? *dhīgʷ- to stick, fix dig? fig(o), fig(ere), fixi=fic(si), fixus=fic(sus); fi(bula)
*dhreg- to draw, glide drink, drench, drow(n)
*dreibh- to drive, push; snow drive, drove
*dhreu- to fall, flow, drip, droop drea(ry), dro(p), droo(p) (thruptein)
女 / 閨 / 娘 *dhugəter- daughter
*dhwer- door, doorway (usually plural) door for(as); for(is); for(um) (thura)
(play) 玩 / 耍 / 嬉 *dlegh- to engage oneself play maybe (in)dulg(eo)
*dn̥ghū- tongue tongue lingu(a)
給 / 予 *dō- to give d(o), d(are), de-d(i), d(atus) (didonai, dosis, doron)
*dus- bad, evil, mis- (derivative of *deu-, to lack) (→dys-)
*dwo- two two, twe(lve), twe(lfth) du(o), bi(s), bi(ni) (duo)
*dyeu- to shine (and in many derivatives "sky, heaven, god") Tue(sday) di(es); de(us); div(us); di(s), di(tis); div(es), div(itis); Iup(piter), Iov(is); Iu(lius) (Zeus, delos)
*ed- to eat (original meaning "to bite") eat ed(o), ed(ere), ed(i), ed(itus); (pran)d(ium) first meal
*es- to be a(m), is; ye(s) es(se), s(um), es, es(t), s(umus), es(tis), s(unt) (einai)
*euH2- empty; to give out, lack, leave wane, want van(us), vac(are), vast(us)
*gʷā-, gʷem- to go, to come come, (wel)come, (be)come ven(ire) (bainein)
*ko(n)kho- shell[fish] coc(h)lea κόγχος, κόχλος
*k'won- dog hound canis κύων
*laiwo- left laevus λαιός
*me:-n- moon, month moon, month mensis men, mene μείς, μήνη
*ne not
*ōs- mouth os, oris
*paus- cease, stop, leave [behind] pausa (from grc): παύω
*peH2wr fire fire πῦρ, pyro-
*pneu- breath(e) sneeze, snore, sneer πνέω, πνοή, πνεῦμα
矯 / 王 ? *reg- to move in a straight line, with derivatives meaning to direct in a straight line, lead, rule righ(t)=矯了; rake (also rajah, maharajah from Sanskrit) reg(o), reg(ere), rexi=rec(si), rec(tus)=矯了us; rex=rec(s); reg(ula); rog(o), rog(are), rog(are), rog(avi), rog(atus)=矯了us Homograph Alert! (oregein)
*spek- see, observe, examine spy specere, species σκέπτομαι, σκοπός
響 / 音 / 聲 *swen- to make sound [swan] sono, sonare; sonus=音us
*upo- down, below, under up [!] sub ὑπό, hypo-
*weid- to see, know wit, wi(se)=見了 vid(eo), vid(ere), vid(i), vi(sus)
勝 / 克 *weik- to fight, conquer vinc(o), vinc(ere), vic(i), vic(tus)=勝了us
IE English Latin Greek German Mandarin Chinese Japanese
*seuH- [give birth] so(n) Soh(n) shēng じょう
*peH₃(i)- [drink] po(tus), bi-b(o) πόσ(ις), πί(νω) yǐn の(む)
*H₂eus- ear aur(is) οὖς Ohr ěr みみ
*okʷ- eye oc(ulus) Auge
*pH₂ter- father pater, patr(is) Vater ちち
*peisk- fish pisc(is) Fisch さかな
制 / 法 / 規 *yewes- [law] ius, iur(is), ius(tus) zhì / fǎ / guī
*lendh- land Land
男 / 雄 *wiH-ro (or *Hner-?) [male] (were-) vir nán / xióng ひと
女 / 雌 *gʷenH- [female] (queen) γυνή nǚ / cí おんな
*medhi- mid, midd(le) medi(us) zhōng なか
*maH₂ter- mother mater, matr(is) μήτηρ Mutter はは
*mūs- mouse mus, mur(is) μυς Maus shǔ ねずみ
*sneigʷh- snow nix=nic(s), niv(is) *νίψ (νίφα) Schnee xuě ゆき
*akʷa- [water] is(land) aqu(a) shuǐ みず
*wed- wat(er), wet, wint(er), hyd(ro)- und(a) hud(ōr) Wass(er) shī しめ(る)
*ghei-/*ghiems [winter] hiem(s), hiem(is) dōng ふゆ
*H₂weH₁-(nt)- wind vent(us) fēng かぜ
*wlkʷ- wolf lup(us) λύκ(ος) Wolf láng おおかみ
*wlp-e:- [fox] vulp(es) ἀλώπηξ きつね
*gʷou- cow bo(s, -vis) βοῦς Kuh niú うし
古 / 老 / 高 *al-(t-) old, (eld) alt(us) gǔ / lǎo / gāo ふる(い), お[い(る)], たか(い)
*melit- [honey] (mildew) mel (mulsus) μέλι みつ
雨  *reg- rain rig(are) regen あめ
圓 / 丸  *wel- [round] vol(vere) ἕλ(ιξ) yuán / wán まる(い)
*reg- [king, rule, right] right rex, reg(num), reg(ula) Reich wáng おう

English Words

男狼 werewolf *wiro-wl̥kʷo
男育了 world *wiro-al²-to

Latin Words

飲飲o, 飲飲re, 飲飲i, 飲飲了us bibo, bibere, bibi, bibitus
食ibilis edibilis
父icius patricius
魚ina piscina
飲io potio
飲to, 飲tare, 飲tavi, 飲tatus poto, potare, potavi, potatus

New Additions

I added a few French words and will continue if you guys have no complaints. Eosp 21:07, 19 February 2006 (PST)