Sunday, July 29, 2007

Small changes & notes

Made changes in the grammar today re: demonstratives. There are some previous examples that I need to go back and fix-- pretty much all previous instances of "alath" need to be changed to "aláth" to show the irregular stress.

I bought a new notebook, since my son thinks my old notebook may have gotten packed. The new one is like the one I already had, except a different color. It's a 2 subject, college ruled Five Star (by Mead?)notebook that has plastic covers on front and back PLUS a nylon fabric cover for the spiral binding and a plastic holder for 3x5 cards in the front. The plastic covers and the cover for the binding make it really durable as a go-everywhere, portable conlanging notebook. I think I bought the first one either at the grocery store or at Happy Harry's (aka Walgreen's-- they were a local chain that got bought out and kept the old name). The second I bought at Wal-Mart today. They should be pretty readily available (in the US), in any case.

My other all-around great notebook for dragging around is a Moleskine large reporter's notebook that I picked up at Waldenbooks while I was working in the mall. It's really nice, but it is also REALLY expensive, as notebooks go. It was my treat to myself that week.

Many more changes and additions to the grammar later this week. Lots to do over the next few days, so I don't know how much I'll get done, but you know I'll be thinking about it. Relative clauses should be popping up as a topic soon, and then I'll start some translations.

I've got a couple of idioms for the language planned:
a.)"to be in someone's eye, " meaning "to be getting on someone's nerves" ... Complete with the exclamation, "Get out of my eyes!"
b.) "to lick the cat's fur" -- a person who licks the cat's fur is the kind of person who has to do everything themselves because they are such a control freak. This is like the boss who gives you a job, then pushes you out of the way to do it himself. Needless to say, the connotations are on the negative side.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday update

The notebook I'd been using to develop Teliya Nevashi (Hereafter, "TN" or "Nevashi") is still missing. I've decided to forge ahead with what I recall and make up the rest as I go. There's a lot of new material in the grammar, some of which is going to require revision of previous examples. The new stuff is subject to change as I actually work with it, since it is mostly straight out of my brain without any testing.

There are a few changes that I need to document-- my notebook had a rather ugly system for indicating sex on pronouns, but I've come up with something a little more elegant (I think), in the form of using selected noun sex suffixes as prefixes on pronouns. The hideous "vo'utu", ("him", acc.) from the system documented in my notebook and used previously in one of the examples, would become "uvot" under the new rule. The new rule is simpler to remember too: a- for female, u- for male, and they can be used (optionally) on any pronoun. I will add this into the Gender and Sex section when I get half a chance.

I am going to go over to my mother's house and see if my notebook is over there. Wherever it is, it is in the company of my copy of Describing Morphosyntax. If I don't find the notebook, Nevashi will go on. If I don't find the book, I'll be very sad.

In other news, I've eliminated SVO from my possible word orders. Now VSO and VOS are battling it out for galactic supremacy... Oh, wait... that was a different movie.

I sort of stopped rather abruptly. I have been getting kids dressed and ready to go since then. They have shoes on now, and are looking at me impatiently, so I'm going to go. I'll be back very soon. I promise.

EDIT: Threw in the new rule and I think I fixed all the instances of "vo'utu"... I didn't use "find & replace", but rather ran my eyes down the document looking for it, so I may have missed a couple. There are some formatting issues in the current publish of the grammar as well. I'll fix those sooner or later.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Notes on A Wednesday

I am going to keep republishing the grammar doc as I work on it in Google Docs, and also post notes on the side about what's going on around the language.

I am revising the pronouns across the board, so the few examples used in the grammar so far will have to be fixed when the dust settles. Pronouns have cases and I was planning on transferring those directly to the nouns (lock, stock and barrel, as they say) but I am not entirely sure right now.

I have SO much work to do in the next few hours, it may be a day or so before I get back to it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Teliya Nevashi Grammar


This language is called Teliya Nevashi, ("Nevashi Language", or just "Nevashi"). It's gone through several names over the last 6 months or so, but I think I am going to stick with this one, now that the world it comes from (Ianea, previously the language name, now the whole world) has started crystallizing in my mind. It is spoken on Nevash, a tiny island nation off the east coast of a major continent that still remains officially nameless.

At heart, this is a personal artlang for entertainment purposes. I am imagining the land and people to go along with the language as the primary creation, rather than the other way around. My end goal is to have a language that is learnable and usable by Earthling humans (i.e., me) and generally pleasant to my ear. I will likely make up stories around it as I go. I just do that. It's mostly a priori. It is likely to have borrowings, outright stolen words, and inside jokes imported from Earthish natlangs. I just do that too.

It's generally VSO, although case markings make flexible word order possible. All verbs have an auxiliary component. It's turning out to be pretty complex, but I really am trying to avoid throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. It prefixes more than it suffixes, I think. So far.

I am writing and re-writing this introduction as I go.

Teliya Nevashi is still in the turbulent early stages of development. Expect changes, large and small, without warning, as I discover which things work and which things spend an awful lot of time hanging around the break room. Also, right now, this document is mostly my attempt to put my handwritten notes into some sort of sensible order, so some parts may need more polishing and explanation. The terminology may not be exactly right in some places. Corrections, literal glosses, and other details will hopefully appear in the next iteration of the grammar, after I get this rough draft out there.

Phonology and Roman Orthography

a /a/ ([a]. [@])

b /b/

c /tS/

d /d/

dh /D/

e /e/ ([e], [E])

f /f/

g /g/

h /h/

i /i/ ([i], [I])

j /dZ/

k /k/

l /l/

m /m/

n /n/

o /o/

p /p/

r /r/ ([r], [4])

rh /R/

s /s/

sh /S/

t /t/

th /T/

u /u/

v /v/

w /w/

x /x/ ([x], [G])

y /j/

z /z/

zh /Z/

' /?/

Syllables are (C)(C)V(C). I have a really long list of allowed initial consonant clusters which should basically be C+r, C+rh, C+l, C+w and C+y. The first syllable usually carries the primary stress. Irregular stress is marked with an acute accent on the vowel. Double consonants are pronounced long/both pronounced.

We'll see how this plays out in practice. Phonology is one of the things I am least interested in, and I'd rather write it descriptively after the fact than try to formulate it ahead of time just so that I can break the rules in the first 5 minutes. I think I've got a plan here that is flexible enough that I can stick to it.

Please forgive me if the orthography is a tad inconsistent in the rest of this document. I am trying to get it fixed, but the truth is that it has changed a lot over time and I am still not particularly happy with it. This language needs a native writing system so that I don't have to feel so bad about how ugly it is in the Latin alphabet.


General Sense of the Auxiliary Present, Future (Non-Past) Past
be m b
do, act t d
make, create, build f v
go, move k g
receive, have, feel, perceive (senses) p b
give, think s z
bodily functions, music, speech c

These don't necessarily translate very directly to English, and the "general sense of the auxiliary" as given above may just indicate what sort of content verb it is usually associated with. Varying the auxiliary can change the sense or meaning of the whole verb phrase.
For example:
pa sul lat.
1st-sing.-present-aux(perceive) see it-acc.
I look at it. (i.e. purposefully in order to see/perceive)
ca sul lat.
1st-s-pres.-aux (bodily function) see it-acc.
I see it. (i.e. light bounced off of it and landed on my eyes and has entered my awareness)

Person & number

Person/number Form (affixes)


1st singular -a ma
1st plural inclusive e- -a ema
1st plural exclusive i- -a ima
2nd singular -e me
2nd plural i- -e ime
3rd singular -i mi
3rd plural e- -i emi
4th singular (3²*) -o mo
4th plural e- -o emo

*4th person is a 3rd person, 2nd party, e.g. "John (3rd) saw him (4th) and he (4th) said he (3rd) was lying." Any additional parties also take 4th person verbs/pronouns. ("... and he (4th) said the lawyer (4th) was calling for him (3rd).") ...This is subject to change, depending on how I feel about it after I've lived with it for a while.
Affixes (for the auxiliary, in no particular order)
inceptive lu- (luma, luima)
perfect vl(V)- (V inserted before a consonant = the next vowel. e.g. vlaba, vlidi, vleze; vlime for vl+ime)
(coercive) causative* -v ("olugav adad", "I made myself begin to run"; "jav lutel uvot", "I made him begin to speak".)
causative* -x ("Jax nash vot", "I fed it.")
potential fw(V)- (V inserted before a consonant = the next vowel. e.g. fwama, fweme; fwemo for fw+emo )
optative zhu- (zhuma, zhuema)
conditional ne(y)- (nema, neyema)
deontic (mild/guilt motivated or unwilling-but-obligated) sl(V)- (slama, slema; sleme, slime)
deontic (strong/duty or pleasure motivated) b(V)- (bama, bema)
mirative (surprise!) c(V)- (cama, cema; "ciji tel", "surprisingly, he spoke")
verity/"anti-mirative" (really, truly, as expected, "of course!"-- by context. The "I told you so" affix) rh(V)-
reflexive o- (always the first element when present) ("oca tel"; "I talk to myself")

Affixes (for content verb)
Imperative (s) -ishi , e.g., "telishi!", "speak!"
Imperative (pl) i- -ishi, e.g. "itelishi!", "Speak, you guys!"
(second person aux. is usually omitted, but can be added for emphasis, e.g. "ce telishi!" )
Passive o- (ji onash ya nashiya. (3rd-past-AUX passive-eat DEF food), "The food was eaten.")
Down/toward kyu- (gi kyuadad. He came running. He ran (to here.) )**
Up/Away ro- (gi roadad. He left running. He ran away.)**
Un-, reverse si(') (glottal stop before a vowel) (ano, "make, create, build, put together"; si'ano, "take apart, disassemble, unmake")

O- is always reflexive when it appears on an imperative.

Affixes can be "stacked", e.g. "zhuluka adad", "I want (or wish) to begin to run." Different combinations and/or differently ordered sequences will have different meanings or connotations, but I don't know what those are yet.

Affixes normally used on the first (auxiliary) part of the verb may move to the second (content) part of the verb under the following circumstances:

(a) in the case of either causative, when the meaning of the affix applies to the object (the actual doer of the action) rather than the subject (the coercer): "zhucav tel uvot", "I want to make him speak" vs. "cav zhutel uvot", "I make him want to speak."

(b) the affix load of the auxiliary becomes awkwardly heavy.

*The grammar for these is always the same. What applies to one applies to the other. The coercive causative implies that one party compelled the other to do something by physical force or force of authority, while the other causative simply says that someone made something happen or made it possible for something to happen: "Ci nash" ("it eats") > "Cav nash vot" ("I make it eat", or possibly "I forcefed it.") > "Cax nash vot." ("I feed him/her.") OR "Ji gorem" (It died.) > "Jev gorem vot" ("You killed it." implying murder or execution(?)) > "Jex gorem vot." ("You killed it." Judgement neutral. Maybe "it" was the chicken for dinner, for instance.)
** kyu- and ro- imply motion, either literal or metaphorical, and can be used to add motion to an otherwise motionless verb. "Ca roselis", "I go away singing."
The copula is an with the 'be' aux. ("Ma an tikit.", "I am a squirrel.") An could be used across the board as an "empty" verb, but I haven't really explored that yet. The subject and the predicate part of a sentence containing an as the verb are both in nominative case and separated by go: Mi an Julie go tikit. "Julie is a squirrel."
Other things that are "To Be" in English
dev = be located at a place (place in acc.) (k-aux.: ka dev Johnstownam. I am in Johnstown.)


Anta is a special (aux.) verb used in cases where there is no subject. It is used with weather, for example, and to indicate the existence or location of something. The part that follows anta is treated as part of the verb, even if it would otherwise normally be a noun.

"anta sibó.", "It is snowing", "It will snow".
"anta ti'i aláth", "There is a cat here."

The past tense is "anda". Affixes apply as usual, allowing for such classics as "Vlanda kyuti'i", "There had been a cat coming this way." (Or, more literally perhaps, "There had been catting toward (us).")

Negation, Yes, No and Yes/No Question Tagging

For all verbs except anta, seya is added before the verb. (Seya ma an tikit.,"I am not a squirrel.")
Yes/no questions can be tagged with seya, or the basic form of the auxiliary (i.e. stripped of affixes) of the main verb of the sentence, or with both:
Gi adad, seya?
PAST-3rd-aux run, no?

Gi adad, gi?
Gi adad, gi seya?

No is "seya". To answer "yes", repeat the basic form of the auxiliary as above (or the whole verb): "gi" or "gi adad" to answer the example questions.

The negated form of "anta" and "anda" are "seanta" and "seanda". The question tagging is done in the same way and is answered with anta/seanta (anda/seanda):
Anta nashiya aláth, seanta? (There is food here, no?)
Anta nashiya aláth, anta?
Anta nashiya aláth, anta seanta?

The definite article is ya. There is no indefinite article. Ya has many uses, including sitting out in front of wordds that aren't even nouns, such as predicate adjectives. It is the odd. It is also used with inalienable possessions (mainly relatives and body parts) when it is clear to whom they belong. (Examples to follow soonish. I promise.)

Here and There, This and That (Demonstrative stuff)

Demonstrative adjectives come before the noun. The pronouns and words for "here" and "there" are based on these, and there are four, as follows:

Ath -- This, these -- near both speaker and addressee -- aláth, "here (by us)" -- athis (pronoun)

Kas -- This, these -- near speaker but not addressee -- alkás, "here (by me)" -- kasis (pron.)

Dha -- That, those -- near neither speaker nor addressee -- aldhá, "there (away from us)" -- dhas (pron.)

Sa -- That, those -- near addressee but not speaker -- alsá, "there (by you)" -- sas (pron.)
The pronouns can optionally take the sex-specifying suffixes when referring to people, animals, spirits, and/or other things perceived to have a natural gender. (athise, athis+e, "that male one")
When used to refer to something previously mentioned and/or not physically present, use ath/athis for "this" and dha/dhas for "that".

Nouns, Pronouns, and Adjectives


Nouns and pronouns have dual and plural forms, marked with suffixes. Dual counts as singular for purposes of conjugating verbs. (Believe me, I agonized over whether dual was singular or plural for verbs for minutes and minutes. This feature is subject to change if I feel differently about it after lunch.)

Dual: vowel final, -l. teliya> teliyal, "2 languages"

consonant final, -(V)l where (V) is the vowel of the preceding syllable. tikit > tikitil, "a couple of squirrels"

Plural: vowel final, -n. teliya> teliyan, "(more than 2) languages"

consonant final, -(V)n where (V) is the vowel of the preceding syllable. tikit>tikitin, "squirrels (>2)"

Personal pronouns

Person singular dual plural
1st la lal ("you and me") lan (inclusive)/ilan(exclusive)
2nd de del den
3rd vo vol von
4th xo xol xon
The cases for noun and pronouns, as of this morning, are:


Dative (prepositional, locative, etc., by usage.) -- Just calling this "dative" for convenience, since that's one of the things it does and might be seen as its primary function.

These are marked with suffixes that are added after the number marking, as follows:

Markings on Pronouns:

Nominative (null)

Accusative -t, -et (following consonant)

Genitive -z, -ez

Dative -sh, -esh

Declension demonstrated on 1st person pronoun, la:

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative la lal lan / ilan
Accusative lat lalet lanet / ilanet
Genitive laz lalez lanez / ilanez
Dative lash lalesh lanesh / ilanesh
Other pronouns follow the same pattern. It might be noted that subject pronouns are usually dropped, as person and number are marked on the verb.

Markings on Nouns:

Nominative (null)

Accusative -m, -am (following consonant)

Genitive -z, -az (following consonant)

Dative -t, -at (following consonant)

Sample declension paradigms for tikit, "squirrel" and teliya, "language":

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative tikit tikitil tikitin
Accusative tikitam tikitilam tikitinam
Genitive tikitaz tikitilaz tikitinaz
Dative tikitat tikitilat tikitinat
Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative teliya teliyal teliyan
Accusative teliyam teliyalam teliyanam
Genitive teliyaz teliyalaz teliyanaz
Dative teliyat teliyalat teliyanat
The genitive is used regularly on pronouns, but often is replaced on nouns with the adjectival suffix, -i:

Nashiya Jonaz ("Jon's food") and Nashiya Joni ("Jon food" or "Jonnish food") are equivalent, and the latter may be more common. (We'll see how it pans out as I write in and translate into the language.) The genitive form is probably more formal. Regardless of which form is used, they follow the possessed noun.

Gender and sex

(I suspect this heading is going to get me a bunch of hits from folks who will be disappointed to see that this is a conlang grammar.)

There is no grammatical gender in Teliya Nevashi. There are, however, a set of derivational suffixes that relate the root to one or the other sex. These can be used on animate creatures (cats, dogs, lawyers) to indicate the sex of the creature(s) in question, or on inanimate objects to specific sex-related usage. For this, we're going to drag out that poor squirrel as an example of the first. (Yes, I am paying the squirrel overtime.)

Female: -a, -sha (diminutive connotation), -i

Male: -e, -we (diminutive connotation), -u

A female squirrel would be "tikita" or maybe "tikitsha". A male squirrel would be "tikite" or "tikitwe". (Tikiti is an adjective, but might also have an unknown usage as a noun. Tikitu* doesn't currently exist, but is conceivable as another squirrel-related noun, or perhaps as a personal name.)

These endings can also be used to derive nouns from non-nouns, by some very mysterious and irregular process that has nothing to do with their function as suffixes for specifying sex on neutral nouns.

Sex-specific pronouns

If it is desired or necessary to indicate sex on a pronoun, a- can be prefixed for females, or u- for males. For example, avo, ("she") and uvo ("he").

Diminutive and Augmentative

Diminutive suffixes can be used on nearly any noun, verb, adjective or adverb.

-et, -ot, -sha (f), -we (m)

Ex.: tel, "speak" + -et = telet, "whisper"

In the event that the addition of an

Augmentation by suffix:

-gyu, -uzh, -o, -ozh

Ex. tel, "speak" + -ozh = telozh, "speak too loudly for polite company"

Augmentation by reduplication:

Reduplication of the first syllable, or of an affix, intensifies the meaning of that word or affix:

ex: teltel (tel, "speak"), "talk too much"; teletet, (tel+et (dim) +et (dim)) = "whisper very softly", "barely audible whisper"

In certain cases, whole words may be reduplicated: cora-cora (Red-red, or "very red"). [I'll try to narrow down what cases those might be as I figure that out. Right now, colors are the only case I have imagined falling into this category. 4/26/08]


Most adjectives follow the noun they modify. There is no noun-adjective agreement.

Nouns and many verbs can be rendered into adjectives with the addition of the suffix -i

Comparative and Superlative & More Stuff

comparative: kesh

superlative: kekesh

These are equivalent to "more" and "most" when referring to a quality (i.e. with adjectives or adverbs). Keshi and kekeshi are used for quantity (i.e. with nouns.) In either case, they follow the word they modify.

Redder grapes

Adyen cora kesh

Grapes red more(quality)

More red grapes

Adyen keshi cora

Grapes more(quantity) red

Relative Clauses

A relative clause is opened with kwe and ended with lia. Kwe could be seen as more-or-less equivalent to "that" at the beginning of an English relative clause, but lia is purely grammatical and has no equivalent. If there are a number of relative clauses all nesting together like sleeping hamsters, lia is save til the end and not repeated in the middle.

ex.: ca sul ya ti'im kwe ji nash ya tikitam kwe jo nash ya nashiyam laz lia.

1st-pres-aux see def cat-acc that 3rd-past-aux eat def squirrel-acc that 4th-past-aux eat the food-acc 1st-pron.-gen REL-closer

I see the cat that ate the squirrel that ate my food.

This construction can also be used as a sort of verbal parentheses to allow you to insert remarks or additional information into a sentence. (Example to be added, along the lines of "I gave my book (the one that Jack gave to me) to my sister."

Numbers (Cardinal, Ordinal... maybe counters...)

Ordinal numbers are formed from cardinal numbers in a nice, simple way: -ad is added to the ordinal number.

Bi an Teliya Nevashi go ya teliya emad ano'i.

AUX COP Teliya Nevashi pred. the language first created.

Teliya Nevashi

Cardinal numbers in their unaltered form precede the noun they are counting. When they follow the noun, they take the suffix -as. An example of this might be when the number counts a noun that is currently part of an "anta" verb. Since nothing (generally, so far) comes between the auxiliary and the main verb, and the noun following anta acts as a verb, its number has to follow it as an adverb.

Anda teliya emas.

There-was language one.

There was one language.

In most cases, "one language" would be "em teliya", but someone might choose to use "teliya emas" in cirumstances where it isn't grammatically necessary for purposes of rhyme, meter, or style.

Numbers from 1-...whatever

1 em

2 van

3 od

4 kud

5 nosh

6 nosh-em

7 nosh-van

8 nosh-od

9 nosh-kud

10 vannosh

11 vannosh-em

12 vannosh-van

13 vannosh-od

14 vannosh-kud

15 odnosh

16 odnosh-em

20 kudnosh

25 noshgyu

26 noshgyu-em

30 noshgyu-nosh

35 noshgyu-vannosh

40 noshgyu-odnosh

45 noshgyu-kudnosh

50 vannoshgyu

74 vannoshgyu-kudnosh-kud

75 odnoshgyu

100 evrat (** I should work out an etymology for this. Otherwise, I am going to reuse it in a mainland language that the Nevashi people (will have) borrowed it from.)