So I would like to learn how to construct a grammar from scratch. In order to do this the first step is collecting data, primarily texts, and compiling a dictionary. I think this can be simulated for a language like Xhosa by using the Xhosa Wikipedia as the corpus, and then we already have the phonology and orthography spelled out here. The only other resource missing is the definition of the words, like you would get from field recordings by having the speaker show you things and whatnot. We can simulate this by going to Google Translate and getting the translation of some words.
Now without referencing any other external resources, especially any grammars, I would like to simulate what a linguist sort of does and figure out the grammar of the language. As if I was out in the Amazon and just got back from recording a bunch of speakers, and transcribed it into an orthography.
Wondering what you do at a high level. How to go about figuring out the grammar. From my understand this means basically figuring out the "morphosyntax", which means the morphology, or word structure, and syntax, or basically sentence structure. So figuring out verb and noun classes, prefixes and suffixes, and patterns and irregularities and such.
Wondering what that takes. How to begin. I would just like to get a sense of what it takes and how to do it. This paper suggests a 500-800 page reference grammar takes ~5-10 years to complete, so I don't plan on doing anything like that. But I would like to know better what you do to at least figure out the patterns in the language, I am not much interested atm in actually writing a grammar. I am more interested in the techniques used to figure out the patterns in the language. About as rich as my understanding goes so far is this:
- get dictionary of words
- identify patterns in words
- identify affixes
- identify word classes
- identify patterns in sentences
- look for orderings of word classes
- identify sentence templates
But a lot of parts seem to be missing there, as it's still unclear what exactly doing that stuff would look like at a high level.