I am messing around with a conlang and trying to figure out how to write sentences. Man this is hard, there are so many possibilities and I don't know where to start.
But basically, I am looking at Chinese right now for inspiration. I like the fact that it doesn't have any prefixes or suffixes (for the most part?), and everything is atomic. It seems like a cool way to build up meaning from pieces, rather than writing long words with many prefixes or suffixes like Turkish. English has suffixes and prefixes too but they are way less extreme than Turkish from what I've seen.
I would like to write a language with a sort of English-level of prefixes and suffixes, maybe like Spanish a little, because I like the sound of it rather than having every word be one syllable. But to accomplish this, it seems to require that I distinguish clearly between nouns and verbs and adjectives, by giving them different endings.
big-a red-a tree-o grow-i past-a
the big red tree grew
For example, adding
-a on adjectives,
-o on nouns, and
-i on verbs. Then using the Chinese-style past tense word rather than a special ending. But this works okay for single-syllable words like I've chosen. But not if you take into account a system where you might have words themselves which end in
-i, or if you have really long words like:
the prominent institution evaluated everything serendipitously
If you had that equivalent in a custom language, I can't see a system which clearly distinguishes between nouns and verbs and adjectives. You start adding prefixes and suffixes all over the place to try and distinguish things, etc.. But then I look at real languages, and they don't do that, they somehow just work. Why?
This brings me to Chinese. I don't know Chinese but I imagine there are words which can be either nouns or verbs, and in addition there seem to be no patterns to the pronunciation of nouns as opposed to verbs or adjectives. Yet somehow you can distinguish between them in a sentence. It is as if I am imagining the Chinese equivalent of this:
branch tree have flower
All of these words are both nouns and verbs, and yet we can pretty much gather the meaning that:
The branch of the tree has a flower
How do we do this? What system is in place for Chinese to allow you to distinguish the adjectives, verbs, and nouns in a sentence? I would like to use such a system as inspiration in a play conlang. It would help to know if it's possible to not require annotating adj/v/n with suffixes like I showed above, which just extends the words potentially unnecessarily. How does this work?