Lexember Days #4-7: Yes, Tveshi was my first conlang.

I only have one LaTeX page of my incredibly poor late-teens-early-twenties dictionary decision to go in the A section. Then, I can move on to the remainder of the alphabet.

‘Tis the Season

Lexember has been nice because I’ve spent a lot of time building up derivative words and ensuring that semantic drift is elegant and culturally useful to the people who speak this language. This will be a very long dictionary — with many words related to sacred texts. While in my early 20s, I started by rendering short passages of sacred texts in Tveshi itself.

There’s a folder on my computer called Old Files for Reference — Not Sorted. In it, I have things like this:

While weeding the fields, Kakinne looked across the row at Sehet Añi. “Why do you help,” le said, “when you have all the comforts of your station?”
The esteemed one said, “Why do you help when you have a family to nurture?”
“I cannot provide for them if they have nothing to eat.”
Sehet Añi smiled at lim and threw the weeds le had gathered over ler shoulder. “And that is why I, too, must toil.”

An earlier version of Tveshi looked like [1] below. The ì has since changed to an ị because I have reserved acute and grave accents for tonal sounds in Aòḥám and other languages. I’ve switched from ë to ė for noting final schwas because ë now indicates rough-breathed vowels. À is now å.


Ukhìnni nifìpis inokhiać Kakinnë dishàm Àñis: Kuàćitait ćà likha? Ćà haoà hàgi ćàlimë fàdyinep.
Kuaćitait ćà likha ìfà lis ćà haoà sejàtho afàgoinit?
Më ni fàgoinaut goiñë ìfeti sher ni haoa nijal ahàgoilit.
Àñi làumem vehë vo haćadem hoieinoić pes genëm. Hùf! Ña mekha và mekha kouripis hata-mëi.


Note: This is not an edited translation, but a rough one. You can see that the places I’ve done literal translations are in sloppy, pseudo-linguistic notation.

Anifịptis inokhiać, Kakinne disham hueilumėa anni Añis. “Kuaća likhasio ćå,” los vė modaha. “Ćå hat mefamosio ćathu ćalimi.” [Lit. You.FORM have law.CAUS a comfortable foundation.]
Gaih Sehet Añi modaha, “Kuaća likhasio ćå? Ćå hat sejatho låfuapui nia ahinit.”
“Mė ni ćualera takhị å sher haoiera nijalė.”
Sehet Añi laumem vo haućadem pussåmėalumėa kourinnịsio hueić nifi. [Sehet Añi smiled and.same-subject threw shoulder.ABL+above work.CAUS toil-plants.] “Helai atai mė mathemauptu, seno mėisa.”

The phrase seno mėisa literally means together-echo ourselves. It means me too.

The differences between these are (a) that I developed a better understanding of linguistics and (b) that I abandoned some grammatical elements that I was trying out in favor of developing Tveshi consistently. [2] is so much better from a linguistic standpoint.

Embers from My #Lexember Twitter Posts

Day 4

Raika /ˈɾaɪ.kʼʌ/ n. Printing press. From rai sikahi /ɾaɪ si.ˈkʼɑ.çi/, essence-adj ink. Adjective raikahi /ɾaɪ.ˈkʼɑ.çi/, printed. Verb araikait /ʌ.ˈɾaɪ.kʼaɪt̪/, to print. Modaraika /moʊ.dʌ.ˈɾaɪ.kʼʌ/, a character in its print, not handwritten, form.

The verb ahairaikait means to press, to pressure, to persuade and derives from hai raikahi, consciousness being pressured. It’s used to describe persuasiveness, too, as hairaikahi, persuasive.

Day 5

Kher /ʀɛɾ/ n. Keepsake box. Colloq., something of little interest to others. The adjective kheri /ˈʀɛ.ɾi/ means hidden or out of sight. The verb akherit /ʌ.ˈʀɛ.ɾit̪/means to hide, to conceal.

Day 6

Upa /ˈu.pʌ/ n. Desire, nonsexual. Adj upahi /u.ˈpɑ.çi/ — desirous, compelling. The verb aupit /ˈɑu.pit̪/ is to desire nonsexually; be compelled by; be obsessed with. Kin upa /kʼin ˈu.pʌ/ (“the upa”) means platonic crush (person) or deep hobby (activity).

An enormous part of the Tveshi, Iturji, and Ịgzarhjenya social systems incorporates the idea of sacred friendships. Thus, their languages all have specific words for terms that are difficult to find in English outside of either philosophical posts about the various types of love in Ancient Greece and Rome or the contemporary asexual community. These sacred friendships usually exist alongside marriages; marriages are often neither for love nor for sex.

Day 7

Anna /ˈɑ̃.ðʌ/ n. Ideal. As an adj, anni /ˈɑ̃.ði/ means best-case scenario, best of our world. Verb annit /ˈɑ̃.ðit̪/ means to idealize, to set up. Derivative terms include hui anni, a good fit; huei anni, a crop row; kusa anni, the peak of one’s career; and sikouikara anni, activism.

Notes on Epiphany: Oratory in Ịgzarhjenya Languages (and Iturji)

When I was reading the 56 Hikol piece about Tehjen, I did not render Narahji in the IPA — although retrospectively, that would have been easier. I would have needed way fewer takes than I had to do to get this right!

That piece is written in pre-reform Narahji, which you can tell because the possessive word is mosmur instead of momuThe prefix mos- is used to indicate possessiveness, and mur is the first person singular indirect object pronoun. People in Narahja practice diglossia up until 1897, when the language is course-corrected.

My words bring horror. People call me Desertion.
My skin is the color of cliff-rock, and it flakes like cliffrock.
The Great Canyon dark devours my soul.
My body becomes it, and the Canyon-Dark becomes my mind.
It rips my brain into small pieces that are the Canyon’s rivers,
And my blood is the soil that nourishes the people with fruit.
Such is my fate to serve for all time:
I revolted against our ways, the Karatha, the Tesekhaira, the ruler!
I chose to be alone, and what a mistake! I am no more.

That is this in English — but in Narahji, it becomes:

I mukro bezurælotek kul magdu mosmur xai Tehjenan manlịdgu.
I neä ruaịgzærmobæ glabdeml i blesgị mosmur xai lagịgzæla.
Ku klazæxub mosmur gleglælaben ku Narahjịgz lịbịmị̈nobæ.
Kusanglabdemlben omdag ku glịklazæ mosmur; radag kusanglabdemlben ku kovta.
ku koværna belæla kul ösyosnosyosjab xai kul bizar ragazị glabdæl bakus
Xai i ëiza glabdeml i ịtö, ku sjenä i hjenganas nokla i ëiza.
I dom mosmur glabdeml lexai fubä, gåmịtit kolborị:
Ku tsærgbị mosbyur, Katatyan, Kerosyan, ñæ Deimolan natzssaịtrun!
Tselvit bladeissaịtrun, xai ku narlị glabdeml kolborị! Boglabdesunuakba.

The text exists somewhere between a poem and prose — it’s not in a formal metric style. This is quite common in Narahji because oratory and poems are recited differently from ordinary speech. Certain vowels, such as iou, and a, are lengthened and have a higher pitch even when they are not stressed. It produces an extremely stylized form of speech. Below is the text I actually worked from while doing the reading, which contains both the lengthened vowels and the original word stresses.

Ī mūkrṓ bezū́rælōtek kūl magdū́ mosmū́r xai Tehjénān manlịdgū́.
Ī nehā́ rūaịgzærmobæ glābdéml i blesgị́ mosmū́r xai lāgị́gzæla.
Kū klāzæxū́b mosmū́r gléglælaben kū Nārāhjị́gz lịbịmhịnōbæ.
Kūsānglābdémlben ōmdāg kū glịklāzǽ mōsmū́r; rādā́g kūsānglābdémlben kū kōvtā́.
kū kōværnā́ bélæla kūl hōsyōsnōsyṓsjāb xai kūl bīzā́r rāgāzị́ glā́bdæl bākū́s
Xai ī heizā́ glabdéml ī ịtthṓ, kū sjenhā́ i hjengānā́s nōklā́ ī heizā́.
Ī dōm mōsmū́r glābdéml lexai fūbhā́, gåmịtī́t kōlbōrị:
Kū tsærgbị́ mōsbyū́r, Kātātyā́n, Kerōsyā́n, ñæ Deimṓlān nā́tzssāịtrūn!
Tselvī́t blādéissāịtrūn, xai kū nārlị́ glābdéml kōlbōrị! Bōglābdésūnūakbā.

I had to make a decision with characters like Karatau Meiyenesi (Kurutimi) in the audio. As an Iturji upper-class person of the jomela gender who has extensive training in oratory and politics, Kurutimi would speak in Tveshi, Iturji, and Narahji using an affected oratorical style. The Iturji follow the Ịgzarhjenya (Khessi, Narahji, &c.) in that. It’s a sign of status. I tried out some of ler sentences in English using oratory-like diction, and it was over-the-top. I compromised on that.

This recitation is thus one of the few places where the oratorical style actually comes out and bites the reader.

Lexember Day #3

I spent about an hour and a half working on my Tveshi dictionary and wrote up about 10-15 entries, which included derivative words based on prefixes, suffixes, and compounds. I have a group of “unclaimed” words that I am using to fill out roots that I don’t have yet and that don’t make sense as compounds. Here are a few words!

Hakha /ˈhɑ.ʀʌ/ (NN). Fortune. Adjectives hakhi or hohi, fortuitous. Verb ahakhit, to twist, to turn, to spin. Common derivative terms include nuahakha, ill fortune; peaira hohi, habitable planet; nåhakha or nåkha, a slang pejorative used to indicate the situation of an inexperienced person being placed in a position that le is not excelling at; Iahakha, the name of the Goddess of Fortune; aihakha, computer program; aumịhohi, dead, an alternative term; ohakhakouri, fortune-teller who tells lots and auguries, not a direct oracular conduit to the gods.

One realization: I’ve never actually written down the compound word rules for Tveshi, so I certainly hope that I have applied consistent rules over the long count. So — I detoured a bit to write them up.

For most compound words, the Tveshi add the words straightforwardly. The lower-register word for god, yåssị /ˈjɒ.ʂɪ/, is combined directly with the word narajar, to make the term narayåssị /nʌ.ɾʌ.ˈjɒ.ʂɪ/, god-jar. This is a slang term for a professional oracle. This new noun can easily be transformed into an adjective or a verb. The word ćeno /ˈt͡ʃɛ.noʊ/, replacement, comes from ćė no, wind-echo.

Some compound words arise from noun phrases. The word unnadaso, lexicon, comes from unnan modasioć, and the noun phrase was once very common. Typically, as slang replaces esteemed usage, the final two syllables of the first root are retained, and any final consonants are lost from them — especially nasals.

The modifier word retains one to two syllables, and its terminate vowel is almost always -o or a strong -a, the only sign that a word is a holdover from a noun that had a case modifier (i.e., modasioć means caused by words). The word nokho /ˈnoʊ.ʀoʊ/, well, comes from the words no khianua, echo avoiding light.

Lexember: Days 1-2

I wanted to translate “lexember” into Tveshi. It would have been an ideal Day One, but yesterday, I participated in running an internal conference about data + society — so, needless to say, it was overambitious given that I had to be at work early.

So I started yesterday by fixing the next entry on my docket. When I was in my early 20s, for some reason, I listed all of the words in Tveshi as verbs when Tveshi derives its verbs from nouns. Any noun in Tveshi can become a verb or an adjective. Adjectives add either -i or -hi to the end depending whether the final sound is a consonant, a strong vowel, or a weak vowel. To make verbs, one adds the prefix a- (which means pure or ideal when used as a noun prefix; it gradually became a mandatory verb prefix to emphasize that something was an infinitive) and the suffix -it or -ait. There are also quite a few irregular verbs because Tveshi is a conquest contact language. Most other conquest contact languages are extremely regular because bureaucrats form language committees and streamline things, but Tveshi is so politicized that … well, you know how Senatorial debates can get.

This is why B-D is the most clean part of my dictionary.

Day 1

Gaiga. /ˈgaɪ.gʌ/ (NN). A prayer or petition to a higher power. The word for a statement of praise to a divinity is iahuilei. Gaigahi /gaɪ.ˈgɑ.hi/ is the adjective form, and agaigait /ʌ.gaɪ.ˈgɑ.haɪt̪/ is the verb to pray.

There. Simple.

The word actually reminds me a lot of the English word gaga, which makes me think Lady Gaga. I was like, “Really, teenage me? You didn’t realize what this word looked like?” Except what language is complete without words that are uncomfortably like the names of American celebrities.

Day 2

Let’s translate the word lexember into Tveshi. This was more complicated than I wanted because I had to invent the word for lexicon. I decided that the Tveshi word for lexicon would have come from the term a story of words. Here are some additional discoveries:

  • I have never made the words story or history. I did make the word fiction, though, so all is not lost.
  • For some reason, the suffix -kol never made it from my Tveshi calendar terminology document into my conlang document. I’m fixing this and adding the month terminology to my conlang materials.

For the words story and history, I decided that Tveshi doesn’t differentiate the two explicitly in the dictionary. Here are my entries for  story/background/history  and time:

Unnan /ˈũ.ðɑn/ (NA). Story, history, especially in the sense of background. Pl. unnamua /ũ.ˈðɑ.muɑ/. Adjective is unnani /ũ.ˈðɑ.ni/.

The double nn is pronounced by nasalizing the prior vowel and articulating a /ð/ by tipping the tongue against the edge of the upper teeth. It’s different from the voiceless /θ/ in Tveshi, marked th, which is voiced in a similar dental position to the English sound.

A storyteller is a unnanekouri. A historian is an åhunnanekouri. Natural history is oihunnan, which means that people who study in fields related to natural history are oihunnanekouri. Geology is hohunnan, and geologists are hohunnanekouri. Cultural histories are called unnaji (pl. unnajić).

Ko /kʼoʊ/ (NN). Time. The word kolị /ˈkʼoʊ.lɪ/ is month, and the word hokolị /hoʊ.ˈkʼoʊ.lɪ/ is season. The suffix for month is -(e)kol.

Lexember, then, relies on the word lexicon, which I made out as:

Unnadaso /ʊ̃.ðʌ.ˈdɑ.soʊ/ (NP). Lexicon. This comes from unnan modasioć, story caused by words.

Lexember is Unnadasokol /ʊ̃.ðʌ.dʌ.ˈsoʊ.kʼoʊl/, the word lexicon using the month suffix -kol.

Day 2.5

Gaisị /ˈgaɪ.sɪ/ (NP). Reverence, respect. The adjective has limited use. The word Gaih /ˈgaɪç/ is used as an honorific for deities in hymns, for one’s matriarch, and one’s parents. The verb form is agaisit /ʌ.ˈgaɪ.sɪt̪/, to revere, to respect. The word is strongly linked to måt gaisi /mɔt̪ ˈgaɪ.si/, the term for ethical teachings about one’s place in the family and broader social world.

When Great Houses Fall

This is (another) partial repost from Tumblr, but it’s relevant to the past few Epiphany episodes — a proverb came up there that is extremely important to how the Tveshi view class and social position.

Tveshi is spoken in a society that is highly traditionalist and that values the family above all else. However, the society has excellent social services, and there is a sense that powerful families are only powerful for a short period of time before they decline.

One needs to understand that for their societies, many families are centuries or millennia old, at least in surname. They go through highs and lows. The wealth inequality rate is quite low, too. The wealthy only have 10x as much as the poorest.

Thaukinị ni sėis kouria håge å pė sålotha sosejaluyio sejathopu helia ića diråhi fepu.

An earthquake does not care if it rumbles beneath the house of a great family or a humble one.

The ė is just to ensure that people pronounce the schwas at the ends of words; the å is an /ɒ/. Th and s are always voiceless þ and s.

Thaukinị is a natural-gender noun that means “earthquake.” It takes the pronoun  (given to nouns describing aspects of the natural world, Class N) and the reflexive N-class pronoun sėis.

Akouriait is a complex Tveshi verb that technically means, “to fashion.” Here, it is being used in the phrase sėis kouria håge, which means “fashions itself remorse.” This is the way that emotions and states of being are assigned to a subject. To say that something is remorsefulthaukinị va hågi, would be extremely informal and impolite.

Soseja is a compound word from so (house) and sejatho (family). It refers to the matriarchal seat of a family, or the family home in which the matriarch resides.

Family, sejatho, takes the noun class requiring the pronoun .

Helia ića diråhi fepu literally means “or one humble of family.”