Language notes index

These are meant to be very concise notes on each language. I have grand plans to devise an XML format for such notes. That way, not only could you arrange the presentation any way you choose, by using different stylesheets (for example, group the verbs by conjugations, with all then tenses together, or by tenses, with all the conjugations together; but you could also read them in as data for machine processing. I can't find one that anyone else has done; this might imply that it's a stupid idea; or perhaps just an unusual one. Perhaps translation engines use such a format, but, if so, they haven't published it anywhere where I can find it. I'd be interested to hear if you know of any documentation on existing such formats.

Note that, whereas language books often state the most general case first, followed by the exceptions, these notes start with the most specific case and work towards the general (as a computer scientist might expect -- like an extended condition such as cond in Lisp or an if ... then ... else if ... chain in other languages. This way, when you get to one that matches what you're looking for, you know you can stop looking, rather than having to read the rest to see whether you're on an exception.


These don't yet have much in them; I'd be interested in feedback on the idea of them (and on inventing an XML format to handle such data).

I've got some Emacs-Lisp for handling these pages.


Name with a capital letter
Metasyntactic variable
Name all in lower case
Grammatical function
Text in quotes
Literal text
Word concatenation (with spaces if used in that language)
Concatenation to make a word
Concatenation to make a word
Apply function to parameters
a ~= b
True if a matches the pattern b
< ... > (in a pattern)
Something surrounded by word beginning and word ending, that is, a word (or sequence of words)
(...) (in a pattern)
Remember what matched this part of the pattern, for later reference with a number
The numberth thing remembered by (...) in a pattern
a+ (in a pattern)
One or more of a
a* (in a pattern)
Zero or more of a
[abcdef] (in a pattern)
Any of abcdef; abcdef may also be a named thing, surrounded by colons, such as :Vowel:

Note: I am an amateur enthusiast about languages, and not a linguist. I don't know any of these in depth, and these notes will almost entirely have come from learning languages from books. I made these notes for my convenience, because I don't like ploughing through the verbiage around the actual information in typical language books; I've put them here in case others with the same preference find them useful.

I'd very much welcome corrections, especially from native speakers.

If you want a definitive answer on something, you should find someone who knows the language properly!

[Languages index]
John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Mon Nov 12 17:24:02 GMT 2007