Tag: conlangs

As #Lexember Begins, #Eamarubhe

This is the language that I am building.

ɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈmɑ.ˌðu.βɛ
bh = β
r = /ɾ/ in all places but before /u/, /ɒ̈/, and /ɑ/, where it is /ð/

ɛ͡ɒ̈.m is a root for empire, and Eama, great empire, is a global power. ɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈmɑ.ðu (Eamaru) means esteemed imperial language, and ɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈmɑ.ˌðu.βɛ (Eamarubhe) is just a more pretentious way of saying the language of the Eama. This is a language spoken in the Canyon region of Ameisa 20,000 years or so before the beginning of Epiphany.

Here are my first seven days of work.

Day One. 

H̱ez. /ħɛz/. House, domicile, dwelling. H̱ezn. /ħɛz.ˈn̩/, housed, stable. H̱eznbhe. /ħɛz.ˈn̩.ˌβɛ/, one’s own house or the house relevant to the discussion.

Llokt. /ɬokt/. Deity. Lloktn./ɬokt.ˈn̩/, divine. H̱ez lloktn /ħɛz ɬokt.ˈn̩/, divine house, the part of a temple where the deities’ icons are housed that can be shut off from the outer part of the temple.

Day Two.

I͡y.ˈkɛ i.ˈɸɛ͡ɒ̈ ðy.ˈsoʔ.ˌn̩ sɑk fɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈko ðɒ̈.ˈʔɑv ɾim.
Iuke ifhea rusoḥn sak feako ðaḥav rim.
I will probably hear it in the lecture hall.

Llet. /ɬɛt̪/ Panel, pane, thin flat surface. Llet kteafhn /ɬɛt̪ ktɛ͡ɒ̈ɸ.ˈn̩/, solar panel.

Day Three.

Rum. /ðym/. Blanket. Rum ebhan /ðym ɘβ.ˈɑn/, heated blanket.

Ðum. /ðym/. Brick. Ðum e dium tisn /ðym ɛ di͡ym t̪is.ˈn̩/, a brick of dried [plant name]. H̱ez e ðum ful /ħɛz ɛ ðym fyl/, house of bricks.

Day Four.

kə.nɑb.ˈn̩.ˌzi y.ˈny lɛ͡i.ˈso kɒ̈͡y ɾim
Kenabnzi unu leiso kau rim.
I have been searching for a fugitive.

Kenabor. /kə.ˈnɑb.ˌoɾ/, to run very quickly. Kenabnzi /kə.nɑb.ˈn̩.ˌzi/, fugitive, someone in flight. Zaut kenabn /zɒ̈yt̪ kə.ˈnɑb.ˌn̩/, a person who runs athletically. H̱ez kenabn /ħɛz kə.ˈnɑb.ˌn̩/, indoor track. Tavak kenabn /t̪ɒ̈v.ˈɑk kə.ˈnɑb.ˌn̩/, outdoor track.

Day Five.

Teas sak ei neð teita teitn.
t̪ɘ.ˈɒ̈s sɑk ɛ͡i nɛð t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈɑ t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩
Satiety is not found in the districts of the poor.

Teit /t̪ɛ͡it̪/,  Food, generic. Teitn /t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, adj, related to the kitchen and cookery. Llet teitn /ɬɛt̪ t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, any type of flat cookware or dinnerware. Kta teitn /ktɑ t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, grow light. Teit nun /t̪ɛ͡it̪ nyn/, a type of cuisine eaten by mourners and ascetics.

Day Six.

H̱ale. /ħɒ̈.ˈlɛ/ Household shrine. H̱alea /ħɒ̈.ˈlɛ.ˌɒ̈/, a temple that is on a family’s private property. H̱ale tavn /ħɒ̈.ˈlɛ t̪ɒ̈v.ˈn̩/, an outdoor shrine on a family’s property.

Day Seven.

Avuyor. /ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌyoɾ/ If reflexive, to bring. If non-reflexive, to take [to others]. Teit meða avuyo bo zalva /t̪ɛ͡it̪ mə.ˈðɑ ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌjo bo zɒ̈l.ˈvɑ/, le may be bringing food. Teit meða avuyo bo za /t̪ɛ͡it̪ mə.ˈðɑ ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌjo bo zɑ/, le may be taking food.

Writing in Binary

A map of the Kalqaiki Islands that shows the extreme differences between high and low tides.

I’ve worked from maps for science fiction stories since I was in my mid- to late teens. According to writers on the Early Internet, a good map grounded a science fiction world in reliable possibilities.

There was a lot about geology I didn’t know, though, until I became a geology librarian and started going to geosciences colloquia and talks. As an English major, astro minor, who graduated about 10 years ago (technically, my job is to liaise to the astro, geo, and physics departments, and geo at the uni includes paleontology), the only geosciences class I had was planetary science. As an elective senior year, I took a course on natural disasters.

Planetary science had taught me the signs of water on Mars and the types of terrain common on planets. On Ameisa, for example, the region called the Canyons is actually chaos terrain, and it’s the oldest rock on the planet — the chaos terrain extends even beyond the shores of Narahja to the islands of Nasja, which are the peaks and plateaus of the terrain as it tapers off towards the other continents.

What I did not integrate into my maps at the time was an understanding of wet and dry zones in rotating planets — which I learned about in a geo colloquium about three years ago — but that ship has sailed on Ameisa, so to speak. One of the reasons global warming on Earth is causing changes in rain patterns is that the equator is wet, an area beyond the equator in both directions is dry, and then it becomes wet on towards the temperate zones and the poles. The equatorial wet zone and the dry bands that follow them in the northern and southern hemispheres grow wider as a planet warms, according to many scientists who study such things. There is very little desert on Ameisa, even in the zones that are typically dry. On the map below, Bisa, Marzū, and Qapwā are equatorial desert due to an ecological catastrophe.

The other thing I didn’t integrate was the impact of Ameisa being one part of a binary planet system, which would make it highly tectonically active due to tidal heating from Laseå. I just didn’t want to deal with earthquakes.

What I ended up doing on Ameisa was making broad areas of the landscape nigh uninhabitable due to earthquake zones and megatsunamis. The entire east coast of the Shēdak is uninhabitable — there’s a mountain range along the coast constantly pummeled by tsunamis — and most people in Qawākam live inland on its big island. I also looked at innovators and engineers on Earth who were designing tsunami-proof buildings for those societies that do live in tsunami zones.

The planet Ameisa, with some light annotations about political units (countries).
Ameisa. You can tell I set a lot of stories here by the degree to which I provide political/logistical annotations. I have other maps of Ameisa with more clutter on them.
Laseå, the other planet in the binary system.
Laseå. I don’t set very many stories here, and this is my only map of the world. (Except I have a Draft 1 of this one.)

Meditations on binary planet system dynamics led to Kalqaiki, now uninhabited for millennia. (Context: My Aeon Timeline goes on for ~35,000 years.) At one point in the distant past, a bunch of rich people found this island range and decided to turn it into a recreational/resort playground. It was Ameisa’s first spacefaring age, the wealthy were egregiously out of touch with the masses, and they left a lot of infrastructure on the island range to deal with the inconvenient earthquakes and tsunamis.

The people who lived on Kalqaiki for generations after the fall of that civilization were the descendants of the voluntary and indentured staff who set up their lives on these islands. Kalqaiki was also the only place on Ameisa with a plant that could be ground to make legit blue pigments. It grows in the intertidal marshes there, and for a long time, the plant was not grown anywhere else.

There is no word for blue in most of my conlangs; I almost always use the word opaque or some variant because blue eyes, the sky, and the sea are all illusions of color. For darker blues, much of the time I write the words purple or indigo, we’re actually talking about dark blue and navy — color words occupy a different semantic space in my work than they do in traditional English usage. Of course, purple and indigo just as often mean colors we assign to the semantic space of purple and indigo, too.

A map of the Kalqaiki Islands that shows the extreme differences between high and low tides.
Kalqaiki islands. The part still above water during high tide is the part that was once inhabited, now in ruins.

The map above is rough — a story doodle of the islands. Kalq- is a prefix that loosely translates to all in the conlang, which I added to the map after doing a bit of linguistic work on the three languages spoken on the islands. The conlang includes a phrasebook section with sentences like:

  • Ude nimdarmo ði xixto dið nuaxe. The earthquake forecast today is bad. Lit., Forecast with respect to earthquakes at today bad.
  • To amu zi, muðpaiðo sis etpu ðai? Is a tsunami coming? Lit., Yes or no, directionally here me-wards comes tsunami?
  • Emo nuaxe dið mebo? What is the strength of the earthquake?
  • Podel pilo tal nimnuaxe. The earthquake is a 9.4.

One of the things I have to account for in Laseå-Ameisa is the massive difference between high and low tide — the kilometers of saltwater marshes and their impact on trade routes, plus what features in the landscape make for a good harbor when the difference between high and low tide is so vast. On my major continent maps, cities are inland on the waterways; most rivers show tidal features for a ways inland.

All in all, I agree with the idea that maps are important — but I think that especially for settings that are not a direct Earth-Moon system clone —— such as binary planet systems, Trojan worlds, and the like —— it’s important to recognize the gaps in one’s knowledge and seek to get a good enough (not perfect) grasp of how things like basic geology impact the daily lives of people. One can go to talks, read some good books/audiobooks, or even look around on the arXiv at preprints on exoplanets to see how scientists think about these very different worlds. And then the maps, conlangs, and stories will just get even more fun.

A Short Conlang Sketch: Gnaseklahi

I’m moving a few older posts from Tumblr to my main conlang blog. This is a sketch of a language used in The Seven Papers for naming/cultural purposes — done in under an hour, the document flexible and malleable as I worked my way through what I needed. Over the course of writing, I expanded it a bit; this is not an exact duplicate of what I posted on Tumblr.

This language was spoken in North Tvaji before the Sabaji invasion. I needed to use it in one of the stories because so much military conflict happens there, and at that specific point in The Seven Papers, it’s used by a lot of refugees.

I have characters named Tashung, Jumeidis, Ćana, Asğang, Tajei, and Sadva in that section whose native language is Gnaseklahi. As is typical, the -hi suffix is actually a Tveshi suffix that I’m applying to a non-Tveshi language; this is because the reference language for the work is Tveshi.

Gnaseklahi

Vowels

Plain vowels: i, ị, u, e, æ, a, å
Diphthongs: o, au, ei, ai, ia

Consonants

Voiced stops (S): b d g
Unvoiced stops (U): s t k
Affricates/fricatives/Generic Buzzy Category (F): v ts s dz z j sh ć hj h
Approximants (Y): l y ğ
Flaps/trills (T): r rr
Nasals (N): n gn m

Syllable Structure

FV(S)
NV
UV(F)
VF
VN
V
YV(N)
SYV(N)
UYV(N)

Word Order

OVS for normal sentences.

VSO for imperatives.

This language is agglutinative, like other Ịgzarhjenya languages. The living language most related to it is Khessi.

Vocabulary

Articles

Active nouns: æm/m’ sing; kæv/k’ pl.
Passive nouns: lị/l’ sing; vei/v’ pl.

Articles are contracted in front of starting vowels. M’asğị, the/a seed.

Words

Tash. nA. Beauty.

Tarrė. nP. Darkness, as in a lack of light.

Asğị. nA. Seed.

Tajei. advj. Loud-voiced.

Taj. nA. Oratory.

Sad. nP. Delight.

Ćanei. advj. Friendly.

Ćan. nA. Friend.

Ćau. nA. City.

Ćodei. nA. Country.

Kria. nA. Rock. Krias, in the company of the rock.

Gnasi. nP. Industriousness.

Menk. nA. Word.

Nautke. nA. Surrender.

Neke. nA. Color.

Ailer. nP. Dawn.

Jumei. advj. Used to describe things that uphold the world. An epithet of Saämatsra.

Jumeidis. name. One who is in the company of that which upholds.

Suffixes

When adding suffixes to words, if vowels touch (and are not an allowed diphthong), -m- or -l- is inserted in between. This depends on whether the root is classified as active (-m-) or passive (-l-). For words with no noun form, the mediator is -h-. Some suffixes have their own vowel separators, marked with parentheses.

Some vowels are dropped before forming suffixes. These vowels are e/ė and .

-ung. Possessing a quality. Transforms a noun into an adjective.

-ang. Being similar to.

-an. Within.

-ğan. City suffix. Gnasiğan, Kriasğan.

-ei. Common adjective/adverb suffix.

-s. Sociative case. In company of.

-(d)i. Suffix carrying the quality of -ness. Makes adjectives into nouns. Gnasi, industrious. Ćaneidi, friendliness. Kriameidi, rockiness.

-va. Indicates that there are many of the noun. This is how plurals are made with passive nouns.

-heyė. Denotes a noun’s centrality or importance. Ćau-heyė, City-central. This is the capital city.

-kæ. Indicates that there are many of a noun. This is how plurals are made with active nouns.

-ta. Politeness suffix for women. Tashung-ta.

-alar. Most high. Politeness suffix for women in positions of authority.

-itu. Politeness suffix for men. Ćana-itu.

-veğæ. Gender-neutral politeness suffix. Tajei-veğæ.

-a. Naming suffix applied to nouns. Gender-neutral.

-o. Naming suffix applied to nouns. Feminine.

-au. Naming suffix applied to nouns. Gender-neutral.

-otni. “At.” Both temporal and locative. Ailerotni. At dawn.

When a Librarian Writes Conlangs

I saw a question on Twitter that was posted on Metafilter about words for librarian in “geek languages,” which was retweeted with a #conlang hashtag. Right now, I’m not sure if the original poster intended this to be mentioned in the conlang communities. I mean, there are popular geek conlangs, and then there is the vast ecosystem of conlang work happening … but it’s my birthday, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Classical Atarahi

Earlier this year, I drafted a novella about a librarian on Atara, so it’s about library science in a far-future setting. Classical Atarahi is the international prestige language on Atara. I do have a rich vocabulary to describe librarians because I needed to develop some poetic-sounding metaphors for what librarians in that society do.

As a secondary concern, I want the novella to fight back against tropes and misunderstandings about librarianship in a broad sense. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me occasionally get angry about novelettes, novellas, and other stories that conflate libraries and archives or that place library science in a dusty realm of books. (And there is some great historical fiction about librarians, but that still leaves those of us in the profession after about 1970 out of pop culture’s conception of what a librarian is.) As an academic science librarian in 2018, the only time I routinely touch books is when I read them on my lunch break. A librarian working in 1918 couldn’t do my job without training and vice-versa just due to how much the professional skillset has shifted.

So what does this mean about far-future library science? Well.

The Classical Atarahi word for librarian is derived from the word for datum (the singular form of data). Atarahi societies have always had computing infrastructure. They have always had some level of AI processing. Librarians in Atarahi society work in tandem with AI routines, human archivists, and other information professionals to deliver information services. They are a public service for everyone, from firms and companies to private citizens and families, with a complex referral system.

Amil is the word for datum in Atarahi, pronounced /ˈä.mil/. The plural form is amilenta, /ˈä.mil.ən.ˌtɑ/. The formal word for librarian comes from the term amiyī hekwakabī, data-plunger. Library science on Atara is filled with metaphors about diving, plunging, and immersing, much like the surviving esoteric text from Greco-Roman Egypt called The Book of Thoth, which makes allusions to hunting and trapping for scribal work. The commonly-used Classical Atarahi word for librarian, amiyas, /ˈä.mi.ˌjɑs/, is the word amil put in the same adjective-as-noun form that is used for personal names.

Note that the vocabulary above doesn’t include archivists. Library-archive hybrid places typically use amiyas to describe their employees. Archivists are called something else.

Narahji

Classical Atarahi is not the only language for which I have developed this vocabulary. Narahji, an Ịgzarhjenya language, has separate language to describe its data flows (which includes both fiction and nonfiction scrolls/books, maps, poetry in various media, qualitative/quantitative data, et cetera) from its archival information. The terminology related to archives and archivists is related to the Narahji verb for to remember. The terminology related to librarians is related instead to words describing datastreams, information flows, and discovery systems.

Niphtora /ni.pʰtoʊ.ˈrɑ/ is library science. A librarian is a niphtorakri /ni.pʰtoʊ.ˈrɑ.kʼri/, and a library is kisaiga lịniphtora /kʼi.sa͡ɪ.ˈgɑ lɪ.ni.pʰtoʊ.ˈrɑ/, library building. The prefix lị- changes depending on whether kisaiga is a subject or direct/indirect object. In pre-conquest Narahja, while city libraries often contained archives, most archival content was found in specific archival institutions or museums. The exceptions were national libraries, which had strong archival collections.

Tveshi

Finally, the Tveshi language actually collapses librarians and archivists together into a single term. (I talked about this in #Lexember, too.) A library or archive is called an innodå /ĩð.ˈoʊ̯.dɔ/. A librarian or archivist is an innodåkouri /ĩð.oʊ̯.dɔ.ˈkʼou̯.ɾi/.

Unnodå /ũð.ˈoʊ̯.dɔ/ is the word for an archive if one wants to be specific, and it can be suffixed with -kouri to make it clear one is talking about an archival professional. Oinnodå /ɔĩ̯ð.ˈoʊ̯.dɔ/, library, can be suffixed in much the same way. The reason for this is that the national libraries in Tveshė are also the country’s archives, so while a library campus may (and often does) include multiple buildings, they all organizationally fall under the same bureaucratic structures.

How I Use Pronoun Systems to Reflect Conlangs and Concultures

So, I started doing something very different during the first decad of February — writing a story in the universe of Seven Papers that makes use of the pronouns he and sheLe is also there, but is not used for every character.

Epiphany and stories like it use GNP for everyone, and I’ve gone into some reasons why in the additional documentation for Epiphany — there are many genders, and I want to emphasize both the conlang context and the cultural experience of gender. My short stories in Seven Papers also use gender-neutral pronouns. Here’s how I determine what kind of system I’m using:

  • First person: Is the character speaking a language without gender-inflected pronouns? And does the setting have more than two culturally contextual genders? Use GNP for everyone.
  • Third person (which is usually actually first person in a roundabout way): In the setting, would this story be written in a privilege language that uses gender-neutral pronouns? And does the setting have more than two culturally contextual genders? If so, use GNP for everyone.

The story I’m writing now is the first third-person story I’ve written where the privilege language is Classical Atarahi. Classical Atarahi is a Sāqab language that dates to a few thousand years after the human colonization of the planet Atara. It’s the international standard language on that planet, coexisting alongside many languages that evolved from creoles or the passage of time. Speakers learn it alongside their native languages. Upper classes typically take names in Classical Atarahi; middle and lower classes typically have names in their native languages.

To take a bird’s eye view, Sāqab cultures have restricted gender-inflected pronouns that correspond to he and she. They’re restricted because they cannot be used for anyone who has not completed a gender initiation ritual, and they’re bestowed on men and women. Gender initiation practices mean that Sāqab rarely ever use gender-inflected pronouns for cultural outsiders, barring diplomats.

This leads to a host of misunderstandings, such as the idea that he and she are desirable status markers. The Sāqab peoples ran the last interplanetary empire before its collapse, so Sāqab cultures exist on four planets: Ameisa, Atara, Mntaka, and Qamaq. (Although, to be honest, Mntaka has significant Leissi and Hǫ́ Tiá influence, too, and there are a few diaspora communities on other worlds.) On Ameisa, the Great Peninsular Sāqab countries confer higher status on women due to some significant cultural shifts, so many Tveshi, Iturji, and Narahji speakers mistakenly identify she as a formal pronoun. Karatau Meiyenesi, a character who appears in many of my stories, asks to be referred to using the Malzmā language’s she in formal settings and le in less formal settings to emphasize that jomela in Tveshi culture do receive initiation into their gender and are not sselē. Le knows Malzmā well and is completely aware that le’s queering usage.

In Sāqab cultures, those without initiation, including children, use a pronoun set I am translating as le. Men and women learn distinct writing systems; sselē (the culture’s other gender) can learn all systems, and they can move between men and women’s segregated spaces in households and society freely. Gender initiates lose the ability to move freely. In some Sāqab countries like Midway Island, only sselē are eligible for Chancellor, the chief of the executive branch of government. In other countries like Demza, Chancellorship is open to anyone, but sselē typically occupy the office.

So what happens when you’re talking about someone who grows up in a story? In most cases, adults will use le when describing someone’s childhood, with a marker in the introductory sentence that means le who eventually took she. It doesn’t translate easily into English. The words girl and boy are typically not used until a child’s mid-teens, and they indicate someone who is a candidate for womanhood or manhood — le’s going to preparatory classes for gender initiation and can’t use a gender-inflected pronoun yet.

Here’s an example: Īðī māqomu us mīki hēramōkotgēzi gotomis. Tisoðwō ramōkotgēzi. At five, le herself loved rain. Le danced in it. The -gēzi on the verb indicates gender-neutral third person singular. Gotomis is the standalone pronoun for a woman, which translates to both she and herself. Subsequent sentences use -gēzi without the additional pronoun. There’s also a special standalone pronoun for children, tīta.

One of my favorite things to do while writing a story is to figure out how to best convey culture/language through my own language choices. When I need a gender-neutral pronoun (GNP), I almost always use le — at least in fiction writing. Singular inflection is important to me, but the initial consonant is also very clear even for speakers coming from non-l/r distinction languages. None of the characters in stories set in the Seven Papers speaks English, so I can focus on what I want out of GNP — a pronoun that reflects the social mores of the work’s reference language.

Outside of the Seven Papers setting, I use whichever GNP makes the most sense, and that really relies on knowing the story and its character(s). I have one that uses some singular they because it takes place in 2013 during the Anthesteria, it is written in close third person, and it makes sense given its common usage. Another story uses ze; this is set in the close future (several centuries ahead). In both, GNP coexists with the gender-inflected pronouns he and she. I’ve got an idea percolating for a story set a few more hundred years from now where they is singular and th’all is plural.

I hope that y’all have found this interesting as a linguistics groupie and conlanger’s perspective on making active choices about choosing pronouns to use in stories. Otherwise, I’m happily chugging away at this outline about an Atarahi librarian apprentice.

Lexember Days #8-16: Teachers and Ancestors

Lexember has been going well, and one of its biggest benefits is that I’ve started rendering things in IPA. Going forward on my podcast, I think I will actually just render Tveshi and Narahji words in IPA for my script version — it’ll be a lot easier to minimize my American vowel accent that way.

This is the “teachers and ancestors” post, so named because I want to start out with a longer word that I cannot fit in tweets — the Tveshi word for teacherfågoim /ˈfɑ.go͡ʊim/.

Fågoim is a good word for showing something important with Tveshi articles. Tveshi articles are not mandatory in most cases, nor are they used often. Here’s an example:

Mesh fayiem gefai mėi.
/Mɛʃ ˈfɑ.jiɛ̯m ˈgɛ.faɪ̯ ˈmɛ.ʔi./
We performed last rites for my grandmother.

This directly glosses to:

Mesh fay-iem gefai mei.
1PL perform-last-rites-PST-PL grandmother 1S-POSS.

There is no article present in the actual Tveshi accompanying grandmother.

Articles, where they appear, come after the noun in most cases. In these places, one uses an article for emphasis. They come before the noun in others. The difference between kin/emị kena (an obsession or crush) and kena kin (the desire) relies on whether the article precedes or follows the noun. In the former case, it’s necessary for meaning; in the latter, it’s emphatic. One could actually say emị kena emị to refer to a crush emphatically.

Words like teacher, on the other hand, showcase some formality features in modern Tveshi that involve articles. One’s own teacher is fågoim mėi, as an example — the word teacher with the possessive pronoun.

To show respect to a teacher one has never had, the archaic articles for people are used in front of the word, not after — emị fågoim.

Within philosophical schools, someone who is not directly one’s teacher is referred to with the article feim, typically reserved for ghosts in old liturgical texts. This is because the ghost of that person’s teaching are within one’s own teacher.

Mė ćalimem em fågoim lịfa nossu vėi gopesem.
I comforted a teacher.HON when ler.FORM student died.
(Em is the object form of emị.)

Mė ćalimem fågoim mėi lịfa nossu gopesem mėshepui.
I comforted my teacher when a student among us died.

Mė ćalimem fan fågoim lịfa nossu gopesem mėshepui.
I comforted a teacher.HON when a student among us died.
(Fan is the object form of feim.)

The adjective henefågoini, teacherless, is a pejorative used against socially disruptive teachings or those who adhere to them. Fågoini is the adjective teaching, as in nonakhė fågoini, a teaching forest used in forestry and agricultural education.

Sifågoim indicates the education industry, with fågoinekouri meaning a teacher in the context of primary and secondary education. Fågoinekouri is never used for philosophical school teachers or teachers in higher education.

Ufågoim is often used for university-level faculty.

The verb afågoinit means to teach, to nurture a teaching in someone. The word for families instructing/teaching children is amolit, with the adjective moli and noun mola. Fanagoć mėi mola athuait mesh. My parents taught us to sing sacred songs.

#Lexember on Twitter

On Day 9, I realized that many on Twitter might not realize that I am doing 20-30 entries a day, as I intend to fix my Tveshi dictionary and grammar this month despite how daunting a project it actually is.

To select which entries to tweet, I think about which ones are (a) cool and (b) can fit in a single tweet. Sometimes, this fails because things like ancestors and ghosts are cool — but a snapshot tweet of what I’m doing is my intention. I have plenty of short entries, such as:

åsseka, book
geha, peak
modakoura, committee
hahi, broken
feaså, scroll
hjo, bed

… and none of these has a lengthy entry. (Well, geha does.)

Day 8

Noña /ˈnoʊ̯.ɲʌ/ n. Quietude, stillness, restfulness.
Adjective noñi /ˈnoʊ̯.ɲi/, quiet, still, restful. Evokes the quality of silence near the winter solstice when walking at night in snowy stillness.
Verb anoñit /ʌ.ˈnoʊ̯.ɲit̪/, to rest, to be still, to be quiet.

Day 9

Atiato /ʌ.ˈt̪iɑ̯.t̪o/ n. StreamAtiatohi /ʌ.t̪iʌ̯.ˈt̪o.çi/, stream-likeAtiatohit /ʌ.t̪iʌ̯.ˈt̪o.çit̪/, to stream. Colloquially, atiato describes things that are steady, but manageable & habitual.

The Tveshi version of the Internet is called atiatoennaji /ʌ.t̪iʌ̯.t̪oʊ̯.ə̃ð.ˈɑ.ʒi/, streamspace-of-peopleAtiatoenna /ʌ.t̪iʌ̯.t̪oʊ̯.ˈə̃ð.ʌ/ is used to describe public goods and benefits paid for by the citizenry.

I decided to post this word predominantly due to Net Neutrality. The Tveshi Internet is very unlike ours, as social media platforms beyond an online forum system do not exist. One generally communicates via text or vid.

Day 10

 /dɛ/ n. StoneDi /di/, durablemade of stone.
As a verb, adit /ˈɑ.dit̪/, to solidify, is used in metaphor to describe things that are made solid like stone.
Colloquially, di is used to refer to reliable people.

Day 11

Daiahė /ˈdaɪ͡a.hə/ n. The quality of being in good order; orderly symmetry. Efịhjo femị hat daiahė. That bedroom feels right (and is clean).
Daiahi /ˈdaɪ͡a.çi/, clean, well-ordered.
Adaiahit /ʌ.ˈdaɪ͡a.çit̪/, to clean, to put in order.

Day 12

Ćaofo /ˈtʃɑo̯.foʊ̯/ n. VineAćaofoit /ʌ.ˈtʃɑo̯.fo͡ʊit̪/ is to vine. A blood-vine tree is called called yoi thoćaofoi /jo͡ʊi θoʊ̯.ˈtʃao̯.fo͡ʊi/or yoi kouveshi /jo͡ʊi kʼou̯.ˈvɛ.ʃi/, tree blood-vining or heart-containing tree.

When I talk about blood-vines or blood-vining trees in Epiphany, I am never being metaphorical. These are not actually trees. They are a type of life-form on Ameisa that moves extremely slowly, a plant-esque fruiting animal. The fruits are complete protein sources within which the eggs hide. They bleed real Ameisi blood.

Day 13

Fu /fu/ n. PatienceOfui /ˈoʊ.fui̯/, patientAfuit /ˈɑ.fui̯t̪/, to wait for.
Mė fuata fauyo. /Mɛ ˈfuɑ̯.tʌ ˈfaʊ̯.joʊ̯./ I had waited for a parent. This is using the expectant verb mood, which is a bit hard to make idiomatic in English.

To make the verb to consider, one uses the suffix that means towards. Depending on the noun class, this could be -su-sui, or –sėa. The suffixes for towards and inside of/in have actually merged somewhat, and towards is often now shortened to -s for all noun classes. I’m rendering it in the formal version below.

Mė fuata fauyosui. /Mɛ ˈfuɑ̯.tʌ ˈfaʊ̯.joʊ̯.sui̯./ I had expected to consider a parent.

Day 14

Faya /ˈfɑ.jʌ/ n. Ancestor. Appears as fayi /ˈfɑ.ji/ for ancestral. The verb afayit /ʌ.ˈfɑ.jit/ is used for death or last rites.

Mesh fayiem gefai mėi. /Mɛʃ ˈfɑ.jiɛ̯m ˈgɛ.faɪ̯ ˈmɛ.ʔi./ We performed last rites for my grandmother.

Vė vas fayem. /Vɛ vɑs ˈfɑ.jəm./ Le died.

Fakha /ˈfɑ.ʀʌ/ n. Ghost, restless dead, disturbance. Fakhi /ˈfɑ.ʀi/, to bear ill will of the deadAfakhit /ʌ.ˈfɑ.ʀit̪/, to haunt, to bear malice towards.

In slang, one uses the term fakha to refer to a friend with whom one has fallen out — and depending on tone, it is either pejorative or regretful.

Fakha emị meshem mė vo nịnni mohuyem moda nusi.
ˈfɑ.ʀʌ ˈɛ.mɪ ˈmɛʃ.əm mɛ voʊ̯ ˈnɪ̃.ði moʊ̯.ˈxu.jəm ˈmoʊ̯.dʌ nusi.
The ghost forgot me and never wrote a comforting word.

Which leads me to something else: There are two words for and in Tveshi. Vo /voʊ̯/ is used when the subject of the two phrases is the same. Nia /niɑ̯/ is used when the subject is different in the next phrase.

There are also positive and negative words for but:

petai /ˈpɛ.t̪aɪ̯/
pehia /ˈpɛ.çiʌ̯/

Vė vas fayem petai ćå deihat uhio. (positive connotation)
Vė vas fayem pehia ćå deihat uhio. (negative connotation)
Le died, but you achieved a success.

Day 15

(Note: You may see that I changed this title. That is because Dec. 15 is the one I forgot to hashtag, and I was like, wait, but it’s the 16th! That’s why.)

Khaira /ˈʀaɪ̯.ɾʌ/ n. Weapon. Adjective okhairahi /oʊ.ʀaɪ̯.ˈɾɑ.çi/, weaponized. Verb akhairait /ʌ.ʀaɪ̯.ˈɾɑ.çit̪/ means to harm, beat violently, hit, pummel. Reflexively, it means that no weapon was used.

Shåsso sėis khairaou ånnon.
ˈʃɔ.ʂoʊ̯ ˈsɛʔ.is ˈʀaɪ̯.ɾʌo͡ʊː ˈɔ̃ð.oʊ̯n.

The storm likely hit the coast.

Day 16

Hau /haʊ̯/ n. BoneHaui /ha͡ʊi/, bonyAhauit /ˈɑ.ha͡ʊit̪/ means to obstruct, to block.

Gianịhau /giʌ̯.ˈnɪ.haʊ̯/ is the term used for xylophone.

An oihau /ˈɔɪ.haʊ̯/ is the wall of a house that faces the street.

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.

[1]

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.

[2]

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.