I'm wondering if someone has compiled a list of fundamentally distinct characteristics (verbs, adjectives, nouns)? I'm aware of the Toki Poni language, but that's TOO minimalist, it neglects important, universally fundamental properties. I'm also aware of Donald Brown's Human Universals, but that lists more social traits and less fundamental properties of the universe and life.

For example, a minimalist, distinct list would be something like this:


  • Dimenion: A measurable aspect.

    • Horizontal: ...
    • Vertical: ...
    • Sagittal: ...
  • Quantity: A countable aspect.

  • Size: The quantity of dimension.

  • Norm: The middle quantity of a set.


  • True, Positive: The existence of.

  • Neutral, Null: The non-existence of.

  • False, Negative: The opposite existence of.

  • More: Having additional to.

  • Less: Having subtraction to.


  • Add: To join the quantity of.

  • Subtract: To disjoin the quantity of.

  • Have/Possess: Of one's own.

Of course this list could go on, but I'm trying to list just enough to make a point. Thus, something like "tall" could essentially be minimally defined as "more vert than norm". While that surely seems more effort than just saying "tall", such a distinct minimalist list could still be useful.

Are there any resources for something like this?

  • 2
    Sounds like Anna Wierzbicka's Natural Semantic Metalanguage. Though it isn't anywhere near as ornate as minimalism.
    – jlawler
    Jul 24, 2017 at 2:01
  • 1
    This doesn't really seem to be related to Chomskian Minimalism, so I'll remove that tag.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 24, 2017 at 2:21
  • 1
    @jlawler Yes!!! That's precisely what I was looking for! Thanks for that reference! Jul 24, 2017 at 3:54


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