I often wonder when working on Spem if it would be better to make a word a verb or an adjective. Any word that can be either could be the other. For example, "run" could be an adjective in its base form meaning "running", and we could convey "run" with "be running". Likewise, "green" could've been a verb meaning "to be green", and we could get the adjective with "I used the one that greens", instead of "I used the green one".
The insight I've had is that verbs and adjectives have the following tradeoff:
- Verbs are slowed down when used subordinately, because they require "that".
- Adjectives are slowed down when used as the core of the sentence, because they require "is".
- If a word will usually be used as the core of a sentence, it should be a verb.
- If it'll usually be used subordinately, it should be an adjective.
This doesn't solve all the instances of the question just like that, but it'll help me make better decisions faster to have illuminated this wisdom.
It's also interesting to note that in Japanese, relative clauses don't take a separator word and go before the noun they modify, meaning verbs don't pay a speed penalty when used subordinately. I really did consider that for Spem but I decided against it on the grounds of intuition/clarity; the content of the relative clause should not come before the modified noun or any indication that it's a relative clause, because that's a recipe for confusion such as garden path sentences. But of course the question's still open. If you have thoughts, don't hesitate to post them because I'll absolutely change anything about this language if I can be convinced it'd be better a different way, no matter how big an overhaul it'd require.
But, notably, that's what I do with adjectives. My de facto standard as of now is to put adjectives before nouns. My reasoning is that adjectives are usually too short for the above to be a problem, and also adjectives are more likely to be things that substantially change how the noun should be interpreted rather than just specifying. For example, "false prophet" is a better order than "prophet false". On the other hand, I favor "journalists who tell lies" over "lie-telling journalists".