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.

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.

Today, We Feast; Tomorrow, We #Lexember

Tomorrow is #lexember. I’m not a #NaNoWriMo person because, as an academic librarian, my achievable word count the month I write an academic article column for a science librarian journal is more like 20-30K. I’ve never understood why #NaNoWriMo is during peak academic output season.

This year, my word count was even lower because I was suffering from the Cold from Hell for most of October, which impacted my to-do list in November. I usually don’t get sick, especially not for three weeks, but 2017 is the year I started submitting short stories and poems to lit mags again. People handle rejections in a variety of ways, but my brain does it by having vivid flashbacks to every bullying event I experienced between second grade and my junior year of high school, which raises my anxiety, cortisol, and loneliness, which all depress my immune system. Anything my brain processes as social ostracization/rejection can trigger that.

Moving on from darkness, #lexember will be fun this year. I started conlanging in my teens. It’s actually how I learned English grammar and usage. When I was sixteen or seventeen, I spent an entire summer glued to Wikipedia’s linguistics pages. I took both Old English at Smith College and a class on Tolkien and Old English while studying abroad at Royal Holloway for a semester junior year. I took French all four years, and I actually skipped from intensive elementary to literature courses because my professor flagged me as a student who would be bored in the intermediate class.

A lot of this early stuff influenced how I wrote Tveshi, which has a sound pattern like the bastard child of Latin, Old English, and something vaguely Japanese. Google Translate usually tries to autodetect it as Indonesian. But the other effect of Tveshi being so old is that it was my most developed language and is the brutal survivor of WordPerfect and a variety of other file formats before I discovered the LaTeX linguistics packages. Tveshi is in pain.

Tveshi dict example. My dictionary is in pain!!!
A screencap of my Tveshi dictionary. The blue entries are ones that are complete. The black entries are the ones that I have not edited. If I scrolled up to B-D, I’ve done a much more comprehensive job of fixing this, but I wanted to show you the Worst Case Dictionary Page.

For #lexember, my plan is to work on the Tveshi lexicon by fixing and expanding the dictionary and the word usage examples so I can eventually put this online with my other constructed languages. Tveshi needs so much TLC that it’s ambitious, too, to think that I can finish it in just one month — realistically, this probably won’t be a reality until February.

But Tveshi is my fuzzy child blanket language, the one I started out with, and it deserves to be recognized and not forgotten while I work on my newer conlangs like Mamltab, Narahji, and Classical Atarahi. Even if the people who speak it have a brutal history.

And I’ll leave you with a piece of Epiphany that is translated into Tveshi (with some Narahji sentences):

Mė ni ai sinnah kin tai aråhit liju mė modahem helai kefu Sapaji ni hasė tauhuoć peshė. Mė modahetaio Narahjiyui, Xai ku tsekto xikanosaịrru tsurhjas tsansakssa. Ueileluyuo, so narahịptis åsseka nia feasåć nia ratịtuć, sakit va koushesu moda aushi nia tsekto va thåtosui lithi moda aushi lo nia lė da jinnahio lir rer hjakait.

I dont know how to translate what I said next because the Sabaji dont have a way to say it. In Narahji, it reads, Xai ku tsekto xikanosaịrru tsurhjas tsansakssa. For the future, if this goes into an archive, sakit is a very specific word for apologizing, and tsekto is a form of alienation, both for people who have been left out.