Conlanging Through Heraclitus

Sometimes translating things is a great way to get a feel for conlangs. I’ve been thinking more about mine over the past few days as I work through the solution I’ve finally found to finishing a novella about forest shrines and restless dead. That novella has been unfinished for a while, so I’m happy I figured out what the ending needed to be.

I found some Heraclitus — Ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν. I searched myself. To develop this into a conlang (rather than engaging in translation telephone), I checked the definitions for each of the words in a Greek-English dictionary so I could get a feel for whether the words had additional nuance. The word ἐμεωυτόν is masculine, referring in the translation to oneself.

The Narahji word for to search is nuadit.

Nuadssaịmịrru. I searched myself.

Nuadssaịmịrru omgoros. I searched myself. Emphasis on depth (goros).

The ị is the vowel in SAE bit; i is the vowel in beet. It’s always challenging to pick diacritics when a conlang has more vowels than English does. Narahji is OVS, and it puts prefixes on particles that serve as adjectives and adverbs. In this case, goros is linked to the verb with the prefix om-.

In Tveshi, the word to search is ahuimoshait. This is the verb to find (amoshait) with the prefix ui- added. Tveshi, unlike Narahji, is the familiar-to-us SVO.

Mė mėis uimosham. I searched myself.

The ė is the vowel in SAE bet; where it appears marked before another vowel, they are separated by a glottal stop. End-of-word ė is always marked to encourage pronunciation, as in peshė, pronounced peh-sheh (ˈpɛ.ʃɛ).

Both the Narahji and Tveshi examples rely on reflexive constructions using standard pronouns; there’s no gender in either Tveshi or Narahji pronouns, and it’s not relevant to generate a clarifying secondary sentence.

One could provide that distinction in Classical Atarahi with its status marker emphatic/reflexive pronouns, but that is usually not done. The verb here is moban, to search.

Mobikuset tom. I searched myself.

Mobikuset uṣēta. I searched myself. Could also be, Mobikuset uṣēta tom.

Here, uṣēta (the ṣ is a retroflex “sh” sound, meaning the tongue is curled back; the ē is a long ɛ), the honorific pronoun for scholars, is used — this is actually plausible given that Heraclitus was a philosopher. There are only special gendered honorifics for men and women who are in charge of gendered initiation rites, in which case one could write mobikuset neris or mobikuset neris tom for a man. This is likely not applicable.

I hope you enjoyed this brief conlang doodle.