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4lsh “Every Word Can Be Abbreviated To Four Letters”

Version 1.1

While I was researching a topic for this blog I came across the webpage “Every Word Can Be Abbreviated To Four Letters”. Last night, while pondering what a long word “maintenance” was, I was reminded of this page.
Can any English word be represented by four letters? There will be a few homographs. An early one I encountered was that “short” and “shirt” might both be “shrt”. “Shorts”, however, worked as “shts”.  As the author of the page says, sometimes using five letters is necessary for clarity. Context plays a part, and use more letters if the meaning is unclear.
This idea has some merit as a shorthand for informal communications using type. A number of complimentary ideas occurred to me, in a system I call 4lsh:
The first is that any noun (four letters or otherwise), becomes possessive by placing an apostrophe at the end. Unlike formal English, the apostrophe is always at the end, it never sometimes occurs before an “s” when used genitively. It can be used to mark a pronoun as genitive, when necessary. For example “their” becomes “thr’”. Apostrophes are still used to mark abbreviations and omissions. “Cant” and “wont” are different words to “can’t” and “won’t” so using the apostrophe increases clarity (which should be the guide in using any grammar system!).
Third person present inflection of verbs is dropped. “Needs” is just “need”, “thinks” is just “thnk (tink?)”. The “-ly” of some adverbs can be dropped if the meaning is clear. In Scots and informal English, this is already done for some words. For example “want it bad”, rather than “want it badly”.
Plurals are made by adding a terminal “-s”. Plurals of four-letter contractions will be five letters, the last letter being “-s”. Where possible irregular plurals are regularized. “Chlds” is “children”, “goozs” is “geese”, “knifs” is “knives” and “sheps” is “sheep”. Since this is a variant of English there will always be exceptions. “Oxen” is already an understandable four-letter plural, although “oxs” is possible.
Getting phonetic can help in the creation of 4lsh words. “Actn movi” is “action movie”. “Nslv” is “enslave”. “Thru” for “through”. Some words are clearer as hybrids of phonetic and traditional, “whol” being “whole”.
While vowels are used in 4lsh, one of the first moves in creating a word is to see what it looks like without its vowels. “Maintenance” becomes “mntnnc” for “mtnc”. Certain terminal letter combinations will often represent a particular phoneme, or similar phonemes. A terminal “-g ”is often “-ing”“-r” is often “-er”, “-or”, “-ar” or “-ir”. “-d” is “-ed” and adding it to a 4lish word makes a past tense or passive participle. “-l” will often be “-al” but may be “-le”, while “-bl” is “-able”. or “-ible”. “-n” may be “-ion” or “-en”. “-st” is either “-est” or “-ist”, depending on the word. Being English-based, there will be exceptions! The original page suggests “addr” for “address”, but it could be read as “adder”. “Adrs” might be an alternative for “address”.
4lsh can be combined with other abbreviation systems such as that proposed by Molee or Dutton’s single-letter Speedwords and correlatives.
For English, Molee initially suggested nine abbreviations, but expanded the system in later books:
e (the), b (be) hd (had), v (of), bn (been), n (and), t (to), h (have), hs (has), nsf (etc), u (you), shl (shall), shd (should), wd (would), cd (could), whc (which), whn (when), whr (where), wht (what), thn (then), tm (time), ths (this), thr (there), tht (that), cm (come), cn (can), wl (will), ws (was), wth (with), s (is), z (as).
An ampersand (&) could be used for “and”, but “n” is more convenient on a keyboard. It could be confused with “no” unless the capital is reserved for “no”. “nsf” for “etc” is redundant. Possible additions to the Molee codes are: cnt (cannot/ can’t), wnt (won’t), bt (but), wr (were), thr’ (their), ar (are), bg (being), xg (thing), ys (yes), x (it) and nt (not), the latter compounding with cd, shl, shd, wd etc.
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Diinlang 2.0: Prepositions Group 3

Version 1.

Supposedly, a number of languages such as Tok Pisin have only two prepositions. In practice I suspect there are a variety of workarounds and some other words or phrases serve as prepositions too.
With Diinlang we have a similar situation, in that the words “per” and “di” can be used for most prepositional needs. These are not the only prepositions in Diinlang, and the addition of “ad” and “po” greatly increases the flexibility of a learner’s vocabulary. From here it is but a short step to add words such as “in”, “eks”, “up” and so forth. The prepositions of Diinlang are a good place to start building your vocabulary.
The third group of prepositions are, unfortunately, still a work in progress. This page will hopefully see numerous updates, so check the version number.
To the prepositions learnt in groups one and two we can add the word “kom”, meaning “with”. We have already encountered this word as a conjunction, but it can serve as a preposition too. “As” is another word we have already seen in use that may act like a preposition. The meaning is the same as in English, but applications are a little wider.
Still open to change are our terms for BEFORE and AFTER. These have both spacial and temporal uses. The words selected may be “pre” and “pos”, respectively.
The remaining words in group three are still being developed. Words/concepts that need translation include:
AGAINST: Some conlangs have used “contra” or “anti”, and these may be valid Diinlang words due to their use in Internation Scientific Vocabulary (ISV). It would be desirable to have a more compact Diinlang word. Also, to my mind “contra” and “anti” have a different meaning to how the word is used in context such as “The brick is leaning against the wall.”
ALONG: As in “Move along the path”.“trans” is a possible candidate, and has ISV precedents, but I am not really happy with this.
ACROSS: as in “The black rod is across the white rod.” “Tran” has been suggested, but it may be a little too close to “trans”.
AROUND: In English this word can indicate a location, a course or an approximation: “I will be around the bandstand at around three. Go around the fair.”. The ISV-derived “sirka” can be used, but a more compact Diinlang term is also desirable.
ABOUT: “The bricks are about the ball.” I considered the Portuguese “por”, although this has many alternate uses and may be too similar to prepositions such as “per”.
BESIDE: Whether a specific word for this is needed has to be decided. Combinations of existing words may serve instead, for example “ad siy” = “to (the) side”.
OPPOSITE: A term or word for this needs to be determined.
PASS: A word that can combine with directives to create terms equivalent to “overpass”, “underpass”, “bypass” etc.
BEYOND: this use may already be served by the word “vong”, meaning “yonder”.
AT: The English word “at” is derived from the Latin “ad” , meaning “to”. A literal equivalent does not exist in many languages, so I have tried to avoid it in Diinlang. Alternate words include “ad (to)”, “on (on)” and “veng (near)”.
BY: is another word for which a variety of other words can be used instead. These include veng, on, per and di.
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Diinlang 2.0: Asking Questions.

Asking questions in Diinlang is very easy. The grammar of Diinlang resembles that of English but is more regular and simpler.
Asking a question in English often uses inversion. One says “Have you a phone?” instead of “You have a phone?”. English also makes use of “do-support” so the above inquiry might be “Do you have a phone?”. Diinlang makes use of neither mechanism, so the equivalent translation would be “Yu av je fohn?
In fact, a Diinlang speaker would generally add the interrogative “ke” to the sentence and say either “Ke yu av je fohn?” or “Yu av je fohn, ke?” As you can see, this may occur at either the start or the end of a sentence. In the initial position you can think of it as having a similar function as “do-support”, although the literal meaning of “ke” is not “do”. At the end of a sentence it is rather like how some English speakers will add “eh?” to the end of a question. Alternately, think of it as an audible question mark.
On its own, ke means “what?” It can be combined with a number of other words to construct alternative interrogations, which would usually be used at the start of a sentence. Some of the possibilities are:

Ke? What?
Ke do? Where? (What place/ area?)
Ke per? Why (What for?)
Ke tem? When? (What time?)
Ke zem/jhen? Who? (What person?)
Ke li? How? (What manner?)
Ke jeve/un? Which one? (What each?)
Ke ving? What is that/there?
Ke vang? What is this/here?
Ke ta? How much/big?
Ke taz How many?
Note that a different word (su) is used for who, what, which, that when they are used as relative pronouns for connecting parts of sentence.
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Diinlang 2.0: Thickness Modifiers.

The four thickness adjectives/adverbs are:
Gou.
Dep.
Eng.
Sou.
Gou denotes vertical distance, mainly of something that is solid or continuous. If something is tall it is “tagou”, if someone is short the are “kogou”. Mountains are tagou, but so is the Earth’s crust. For altitude and vertical distances through the air you would use “up”. You could describe a thick cloud as tagou, however.
Dep is also vertical, and covers such properties as deep, depth and deepness. Dep therefore usually describes downward directions. Water or a hole might be dep. “Kodep” is shallow, “tadep” very deep. Like any modifier these can be modified as comparisons or superlatives.
Eng is width and is horizontal. “Koeng” is thin or narrow, “Taeng” is broad. Using “ze-” or itas a prefix makes it obvious that a statement is relative to an object’s orientation, rather than the speaker’s viewpoint.
Sou is horizontal depth or thickness. You might say that the drawers of a desk are “tasou”, for example. Sou also sees uses that in English we might use “long” for. If a trip is a long way through a deep forest in Diinlang tasou would be used for both “long” and “deep”.
Gou, dep, eng, sou.
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Diinlang 2.0 Prepositions Group 2

Version 1.4

Here is the second group of updated prepositions for Diinlang 2.0. These are probably the class of words Ogden called “directives”. To facilitate learning the prepositions will be given in clusters of no more than seven items. 

Up/lo are the Diinlang words used for “up” and “down”. Their use is a little more general than their English homophones. One possible option is to have a single term for vertical height/altitude and use “ko” for low/decreasing properties and “ta” for high/increasing. This may still need another property for things below the observer. In the system below up and lo are relative to the observer or another reference. If you look up you would describe something using “up”, if down, “lo”. “Ta” and “ko” then describe if the distance is large or small, respectively. Up and lo can be used with the words “ta ”(large/big) and “ko” (little/small) to make positives, comparisons and superlatives. This gives twelve potential combinations but some of these will see less use than others. The potential combinations are as follows:

taup            very high/ high above
artaup        more higher
ustaup        highest/ top
koup           not very high/ just above
arkoup       less higher
uskoup       least highest

talo        very low/ low down
artalo    more lower
ustalo    most lowest/ bottom
kolo       not very low/ just below
arkolo   less lower
uskolo   least lowest 

Dek/lev are right/left, collectively called “siy” (side(s)). If necessary these can become positives, comparisons and superlatives, as can other directives. Dek/lev often combine with pronouns to make the Diinlang equivalent of “my left”, “your right”. When the third person pronoun is used (ze, zo, za or it), zelev means “port” and zedek or itdek means “starboard”. Directions are relative to the front of the object, creature or vessel, assuming it has an obvious front.
Van/hin are front/back. These can be combined with pronouns, positives, comparisons and superlatives if necessary.
In/eks are in/out. These four pairs of words can be remembered by visualizing a cube or box. It has six sides and also an inside and outside. Diinlang  uses “in” for some uses not commonly seen in English. “In” is used as a preposition for travelling to geographical and physical locations. The Diinlang for “Are you going to France?” is “Ke (yu) bi go in Franca?” It could be said this is a contraction of “into” in English. Rather than travelling “on a train” or “by a train” Diinlang uses the more logical “in un trayn”, although “on un trayn” may also be used.
The words above can combine with other words for related meanings. The word “do” (pr. doh) means a place or location. “Usta-up-do” is thus the highest part of something. “Indo” is inside of something. In an older post I suggested the word “ru” for surface, and this could be used like do. The prepositions ad, po and di can be combined with the words mentioned above, to describe a location in relative terms. “Ad/po zedev” means to/from portside. Ad syn” – beside/to the side”. Inad =into, although adin may be more logical.
The directives can be combined with “go” to describe movement in a particular direction. “Upgo” is to move upwards/ascend, “eksgo” is to move outwards. This mechanic extends to other words. Trago” would mean to move-through and imigo to move between.
Sub/ov respectively mean under/below and above/over.  “Sub” is used with this meaning in many languages, but its antonym “super” has become fuzzier in its meaning, and is a little long, so “ov” can be used instead. There are alternate terms that can be constructed using the words above. “Up po”, literally “up from” can mean above, and “lo po” down-from, or under.
A related system to the above will be constructed for describing height, depth, width and thickness.
Group 2: Up/lo, dek/lev, siy, van/hin, sub/ov.

Since I first wrote this page I came across the Novial adverbs subu (down, downwards), inu (inside) and eku (out, outside), derived from the prepositions sub (under), in (in) and ek (out of, out from). These are simple and clear. To these I suggest up/upu for up/upwards, above.
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Diinlang 2.0 Prepositions Group 1.

Here is the first group of updated prepositions for Diinlang 2.0. To facilitate learning the prepositions will be given in clusters of no more than seven items. It will be noted, however, that some of these are pairs of related words, such as on/af and ad/po. “In” is a word in Diinlang with the same meaning as in English, and is used in the below. In and its complement will be formally introduced in a later post. 

Di, may be used as one of the default prepositions of Diinlang. It denotes an association or origin, so can mean “of/from, from, since, by” If you are stuck for a preposition, di will often serve. A play is “of/from” Shakespeare rather than being “by” him, so di is used. A person is of/from Rome, so di. “Book di Shakespeare”, like the English equivalent “Book of Shakespeare”, is a little ambivalent. To stress that something is about or by a subject we may use “on” instead.
On, as in English, means “on” or “about/concerning”. “On” can be used to mean “about” in the context of “a book about …” The literal translation in Diinlang would therefore be “a book on”. Constructions such as “talk about…” could either be “talk of (yak di)…” or “talk on (yak on)…”. On is also sometimes used where English would use at. The ball is not at the edge but on the edge. The Diinlang word for “off” is “af”.
Ad” is the word used for “to” in Diinlang. It may also used like “at” in English for contexts such as “at 7.00pm”. In Diinlang you can also say “..as 7.00pm” rather than “at” In Diinlang the opposite of “ad” is “po” meaning “from” or “away”. This is more concerned with direction but there is some overlap with “di”. For example “left of (di) ship” or “left from (po) ship” can sometimes be used interchangeably, but may also have distinct differing meanings. Ad, po and di are often used with words for directions. One way to say something is over/above something is “…up po/di...”.
Per” is used a little more broadly in Diinlang than in English. “Per” is used for “for” in uses such as “leave for Rome” or “bus for Milan”. In the past Diinlang has also used “pro” to mean “for” in the context of being in favour of something or inclined towards something. This usage needs to be considered in greater depth. When in doubt, use per before pro. Per may introduce an intended goal or recipient: “Work per money”. An exchange: “Money per nothing.” An intended period of time: “Gone per a week”. Something favoured or represented: “I spoke per you/ voted per it”. As in English it can mean “for each”, “in accordance with.” or “to each, in each” : miles per hour, price per person, per your idea. It can mean “through/using” in contexts such as “leave per the door”. The reflexive pronoun se combines with per to create per se with the same use as in English. Statements that cannot use di” may be understandable with per”.
Veng, is a Diinlang word for “near” and can be used as a preposition. Veng is one of the words that should be considered where you would use “at” or “by” in English, and this can be used instead of “by” or “at”. Rather than “meet by the café” or “at 7.00pm” veng can be used in either case.
Tra. In Italian “tra” and “fra” are interchangeable and mean “between” or “within (a time)”. Diinlang now uses the word “tra” to mean “through”, as is done in several other conlangs. The Diinlang word “dia” also means “through”.
Imi is the Diinlang preposition meaning “between”, “amoung”, “during” or “within (a time)”. The English “I get married in two years” would use “imi” rather than “in” in Diinlang. “Imi” can mean “than” in comparisons. Jon arta imi Dean = Jon bigger between Dean = Jon bigger than Dean.
Group 1: di, on/af, ad/po, per, veng, tra, imi.
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Diinlang 2.0: Useful Verbs

Afrikaans makes no distinction between the present and infinitive forms of verbs, with the exception of the verbs for “to be” and “to have”. Diinlang uses the bare infinitive for all verbal uses, although the past form may be optionally suffixed with “-te”. I suspect there may be no need to form clauses with a full infinitive. If a full infinitive is needed it is formed with the word “du”, rather than the word for “to”, “ad”. Thus we have the verbs “du bi” and “du av”. The verb for “to do” is only written as “du”, not “du du”. To name a verb in Diinlang we state its infinitive/pastform.
The verb “bi/bite” has a number of uses, one of which is as an auxiliary verb. Placed before another infinitive it makes the verb of continuous/ progressive aspect. Zo bi go = He is going.
Similarly, the verb “av/avte” acts as an auxiliary making a verb of perfect aspect. Zo av go = He has gone. The two auxiliaries are used together to create perfect progressive forms. Zo av bi go = He has been going. A verb to create habitual statements is planned (possibly “iban”, used as an auxiliary.
The verb “ge/gete” is another auxiliary which has the effect of making a clause in the passive voice. Zo ge nyam = He got chewed. “-ge” placed at the end of an infinitive makes the past/passive participle of a verb.
Par/pate” is a very useful verb for using as a copula. Par means “to seem, or to appear to be”. In English we often say that something is something. Par makes a less definite but more realistic statement. Ving ave par blu hu = That bird appears blue coloured. Used as a suffix/terminal compound -par describes something has having a resemblance to something else. Hence “Avepar” would mean bird-like or birdoid.
Ija/ijate” is a verb that means “begin to cause”, “become” or “start to be.” and is thus used to make inchoative or inceptive statements. The suffix -ija is used to create inchoative/ inceptive verbs from other roots. “Za redija” would the equivalent of the English “She reddens”.