The Permanent Ad Hoc Committee presents

Ad Hoc Language Puzzles and Fun

Prof. John Lawler, University of Michigan Linguistics (Emeritus)

Beginners' Puzzles Origins

    Q:   What do the following languages have in common?
    A:   They're all Conlangs.
Phonetics, [fnɛɾɨks], /fənɛtɪks/

Turkish is a synthetic agglutinative language, with standard SOV grammar. It is very different from English. Here are five puzzles and some handouts and solutions.

If you get through these, you will understand how Turkish Vowel Harmony works. This is a topic, and a phrase, that is so arcane it functions as an ingroup marker for linguists and other cool people; nobody else has ever heard of "Turkish Vowel Harmony".

Lushootseed is a Salishan language of Washington State. Like all Salishan languages, and indeed like all languages in the Northwest Coast Sprachbund, it is polysynthetic, which means it is just about as different from English as it can be.

Here are seven puzzles made from Lushootseed sentences; these are not simple. But they are fun. If you get through these, you will understand inflection.

Last modified June 29, 2014