The Conlanger's Lexipedia Paperback – 10 Nov 2013
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You want lists? It's got gobs of word lists at every granularity, grouped by themes. But it's also chock full of ideas! It helps you brainstorm about how to create words for your language, how to derive words from roots in all sorts of ways and create etymologies. It shows you different strategies that natural languages use for word formation. And it approaches the subject from a lot of different directions. Whatever your style is, I think there's something in it for you.
Just flipping through a few pages, there's nifty info about proto-languages, word classes and categories, the top 1500 words used in Fantasy and Science Fiction literature, triliteral roots, metaphors, semantic fields, how different cultures divide up their concepts of the world differently, kinship relations, animal taxonomy, and it goes on and on... tons of cool stuff!
It even challenges your notions of what a word IS and makes you think about where we arbitrarily draw those fuzzy borders around the set of semantic tidbits we lump together to call a word, so that your language won't end up a relex of your native tongue.
I was over the moon thrilled with what I got in the mail. It was actually so much more than I expected it to be. It clocks in at over 400 pages, with multitudes of useful, interesting information on each page. It's a fine liqueur of highly distilled conlanging excellence. I'm not even doing it justice; really, you should buy it. You will not be disappointed. Get it for your conlanging loved ones, they will love you back.
This seems incredible to me as it is typically the area of lexicon-building which intimidates and confounds conlangers the most, and I bought it largely with that in mind. While I would not say that the absence of such a section deprives the Lexipedia of much usefulness (far from it), it was an enormous disappointment and certainly an oversight on the part of the author.
The Lexipedia proves useful in some surprising arenas, however; indeed, the non-etymological sections possess a number of interesting and helpful observations of the lexicon-building process, and typological trends in vocabulary. The book additionally contains a fairly elaborate corpora of science fiction and fantasy literature, highlighting key sections of vocabulary for both genres that any author or conlanger would certainly need to pay particular attention to. The etymological section of the book (which comprises the bulk of it) is, in my opinion, its greatest strength. It tackles crucial clusters of vocabulary in all languages and provides, using an array of languages, excellent examples of various metaphorical approaches being used to capture the same semantic sense, and demonstrates examples of and differences between systems of derivation- which, in the absence of an explicit derivation section- is appreciated.
Over all, it is a book which fell short of my expectations and hopes as a conlanger, but one that remains useful nonetheless. Rosenfelder retains his seat as the Authorial Chief of How-to Conlanging as far as I'm concerned.
And it is!
Seriously, Rosenfelder provides exactly what he says - some useful lists, handy etymologies, basic introductions into some fundamental classes (this bok is worth it for the details on color and kinship alone), and general all around usefulness. I wish he'd written this book about 20 years ago. And that I had it then. More useful than "Describing Morphosyntax", and handier that three non-English dictionaries.
A must read for conlangers.