24.917 | Fall 2018 | Undergraduate

ConLangs: How to Construct a Language


Final Project

Final Project due last day of class

1. Write a partial grammar of your language that includes all the previous assignments. If you’ve changed things about your language since you handed in the assignments, that’s fine! Just update the grammar accordingly. For this part, you can basically just give me your previous assignments again, updated as necessary.

2. Make sure to give all of your examples in the following format:

(12) ობსიდიან წინგს

iθ-qarak’u ɮaudχ

3SG-hunger water.buffalo

‘The water buffalo is hungry’

That is, you should have:

  • an example number on the first line;
  • one line in the writing system you’ve invented, if you did that;
  • another line in IPA or a practical orthography;
  • a third line of morpheme-by-morpheme glosses;
  • and finally, a translation.

I will count off points for this if you don’t do it.

In the IPA line and the morpheme-by-morpheme gloss, if you have separate morphemes that are part of a single word, separate them by a hyphen (my verb above, for example, has a hyphen separating the agreement prefix from the rest of the verb). If you have a single morpheme that you would translate with multiple words in English, use a period to separate the words (that’s what I’ve done with ‘water.buffalo’ above).

Some languages can be quite difficult to gloss this way; for example, if your language had Semitic-style consonantal roots, you could end up with words like θaraθ ‘ate’, where the consonants were the verb ‘eat’ and the vowels indicated that the verb was in the past tense. If you have a system like that, it’s okay to fail to separate all the morphemes in the example (in this case, you’d have a gloss ‘eat.PAST’), and then to explain in the text how the verb is really structured.

As a rule of thumb, you need to do this every time you introduce a new piece of data. After that, you can refer to it in the main text if you need to (“My language uses agreement prefixes, such as the prefix iθ- ‘3SG’ in example (12)”).

3. Add discussion of one other topic. Here are some suggestions, but feel free to write to me if you have other things you want to explore:

  • discourse particles (like Japanese yo and ne)
  • kinship terminology
  • numbers
  • a language game
  • an honorific register
  • a historically related language or protolanguage

4. Translate at least four of the rules from the MIT Code of Hacking Ethics. Here’s one version of them:

  • The safety of yourself, of others, and of property should have highest priority. Safety is more important than pulling off a hack or getting through a door.
  • Be subtle; leave no evidence that you were there.
  • Brute force is the last resort of the incompetent.
  • Leave things as you found them or better. Cause no permanent damage during hacks and while hacking. If you find something broken, call F-IXIT.
  • Do not steal anything; if you must borrow something, leave a note saying when it will be returned and remember to return it.
  • Do not drop things without a ground crew to ensure that no one is underneath.
  • Sign-ins are not graffiti and shouldn’t be seen by the general public. Sign-ins exhibit one’s pride in having found an interesting location and should be seen only by other hackers. Real hackers are not proud of discovering Lobby 7, random basements, or restrooms. Keep sign-ins small and respect other hackers’ sign-ins.
  • Never drink and hack.
  • Never hack alone. Have someone who can get help in an emergency.
  • Know your limitations and do not surpass them. If you do not know how to open a door, climb a shaft, etc., then learn from someone who knows before trying.
  • Learn how not to get caught; but if you do get caught, accept gracefully and cooperate fully.
  • Share your knowledge and experience with other hackers.

As always, your translation doesn’t have to be literal.

Code of Hacking Ethics © unknown. (Source: https://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena/activity/h/htgamit/text/2005/HackingSection.txt) This content is excluded from our Creative Commons license. For more information, see https://ocw.mit.edu/help/faq-fair-use/.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2018
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