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Asian Grammar, Meet Latin Vocabulary.


Every language is a slacker*.


Languages change through time. And as they do, their grammars evolve toward simplicity. Declension for case, number, and gender; agreement of person and number for modifiers; complex verb paradigms—all of these grammatical mechanisms atrophy, because they are non-intuitive and therefore inefficient. Thankfully, a grammar of word order aided by particles can do all this work with much less fuss and sweat (Chinese grammar is a good example). An alternative is standardized affixes which function as case markers and part-of-sentence markers (Japanese grammar is a good example).


*Except maybe Lithuanian.


You can say that again.


Note that particles and other grammatical mechanisms often complement the grammar of word order; that is, they offer redundant information. This redundant information appears necessary for spoken communication. Some examples: the honorifics of Japanese, the class markers of Chinese, and the definite/indefinite articles of English all continue to be important not for their formal grammatical role (politeness, disambiguation, definiteness) but because the declensions that marked nouns as nouns disappeared long ago. They indicate, ‘the following word is a noun.’


All Roots Lead to Rome.


A vocabulary based on Latin roots presents a problem for speakers of Asian languages, which do not tolerate complex consonant clusters. How is a native speaker of Japanese or Chinese supposed to manage a fabricated word like * construi (‘construct’)? Palato provides a simplified, accessible, and pleasing phonology by a) using alternate Romance language roots ( facini fashion, contruct) and b) inserting -u- into consonant clusters much as the Japanese do ( coruda string < cord).


Ergo, Sum It Up.


When you study Chinese and Japanese, you realize just how whacked-out Indo-European and Semitic grammars are. Grammatical gender, different classes of verbs, and maybe even the binyanim …they all seem like bad mistakes. How did these prove useful to our illiterate ancestors? And the further back in time you go, the more complex these grammars get!


But, of course, every language comes with a certain amount of baggage. What I’ve done with Palato is to try to create the basis for a flexible but totally regular grammar combined with a simple phonology and well accepted (and expected) base of latin words.


Why waste your time like this?


Lighten up, it’s just a thought experiment.

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