Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One small adjustment to a single word

Marigold, the flower formerly known as tajíta, is now called tají.

Somewhere in an earlier entry, when I was translating sentences, there was someone called "Little Marigold"--
Was: Tajítsha
Is: Tajísha

This is a legitimate name for a Nevashi girl-- both Tají and its diminutive, Tajísha-- although there is probably some teasing around how close it is to taje ("husband") by the meaner children.

Nevashi In Action: Congratulations

I had an occasion to congratulate someone, but Nevashi came up short. I have since remedied that.

First, I looked up the etymology of "congratulation" and then searched out and considered how other languages handle congratulations. In the end, I found that I already had the words I wanted: Anta jeya! ("There is happiness!" or maybe "It is a joy!")

So, there is no verb "to congratulate", but you might say something like, Za twen ea-jeyam voz. (1st+past+give share happiness-acc his/her.), "I shared his or her happiness.") or perhaps just ja tel vosh, "anta jeya" (1st-past-speech speak (3rd person-epicene-dative-pronoun), "There-is happiness".; "I told him/her "congratulations".)

A note in passing...
There are not separate words for 'speak', 'talk', and 'say' in Nevashi at this point. There are variations on the one word, tel, that mean to talk loudly, to whisper, or to talk a lot, and there are different words that specifically mean "shout" (magan), "tell a story, recite, or make a speech" (hlal) and "pray" (nedh), but there is yet no distinction as made in English for the three words above. I think it might stay that way unless I see a pressing need to change that.

There are other parts of even the limited vocabulary it has already developed that are a lot more specific than English. (See gwelva, the variations on "love", and/or the words that might be covered by "healthy" in English.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Greeting Formula, Shufshevél Customs

I have been working on cards for the conlang card exchange, and the greeting I have settled on is Pa imev yevam, vekum, wa imlam dez gyet Shuf-shevélat! This builds on the previously formulated "pa imev...dez" ("I wish for your...") formula created for birthday greetings.

I think I might keep this as a set greeting/blessing/cursing formula and work on some grammar to handle more complex thoughts about what one person wants another person to be/do/whatever.

Shuf-shevél or Shufshevél is the Nevashi fish celebration, which is exactly that the name means. Once mainly a fishing and seafaring island culture, fish represent prosperity and fertility for the Nevashi. The symbolism remains, even for mainland Nevashi, who are mainly farmers, traders, and merchants, far removed from their roots. Blue, green, and gold are the traditional colors of this holiday, carrying much the same significance as the fish.

On Nevash, the custom is for each household to buy or make an unfired clay pot in the shape of the fish. Small token offerings, such as coins or bits of food, are placed in the mouth of the pot. There is a procession down to waterside in the morning of the first day of the celebration, where the pots are tossed into the water. Those inland on the island may go to the nearest river or lake instead. With that out of the way, the real festivities begin-- there's a lot of feasting, drinking, singing, and gift giving. Fish-shaped jewelry is a popular gift, widely believed to bring good luck.

Originally, the festival was held after the trees had lost their leaves but before freezing temperatures set in, on whatever day the local temple declared auspicious. It has become loosely associated with the winter solstice due to contact with cultures that celebrate that occasion, and the increasing centralization of religious and civil authority has led to more and more towns and villages holding their festival on the same day as the capital city. The length of the festival is determined by either the local temple or the temple in the capital city, as determined by the same sort of augury that sets the date of the start of the celebration.

Mainland Nevashi, removed from the island culture, still celebrate the festival, but with customs that have evolved to fit their circumstances. It is still a celebration with a lot of feasting, drinking, and gift-giving, with slightly different details. Those communities in close contact with solstice celebrating cultures may have both night or sun themes, in addition to the traditional fish motif, but they still call it Shuf-shevél.

Almost every mainland family owns a fish-shaped vase, which tends to be very ornately decorated in the colors of the holiday. A fish festival vase is often the gift of choice to a newly married couple from the bride's parents-- either an heirloom or a newly purchased one. Wishes are written on pieces of paper and put into the vase on the first day of the festival, which tends to run a full 5 days on the mainland. On the last day of the festival, the wishes are thrown into a fire unread-- it's considered very bad luck to read anything that goes into the vase.

The second day usually involves a blessing of tools of work, in order to bring prosperity. The remaining days each have a different theme, such as "gratitude" or "remembering Nevash", etc, varying from community to community. Every day involves parties and feasting, with menus varied to fit the theme of the day. On the last day of the festival, the wishes are thrown into a fire unread-- it's considered very bad luck to read anything that goes into the vase.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I posted this as a Facebook status:

Eki kyudit ya hoan sanzonaz wera, cora, wa moci.
3rd-pl-go change-toward the leaves trees-gen yellow, red, and brown.
(The leaves of the trees are turning yellow, red, and brown.)

I was really unsure where to put the colors in the sentence because it felt a little weird to have the subject between the change-to verb and the things that are being changed to. 'Change' (to, from, or unspecified) is a motion verb in Nevashi, so I will have to meditate on exactly how it works with the "destination" part, and whether or not that part works differently depending on whether or not it is a noun or an adjective.

The vocabulary file is up to 297 entries. A lot of those words are related to one another, though. I am looking forward to generating a lot more useful words soon. (More in both quantity and quality.)

I made a few changes to the vocabulary file as well, adjusting the meaning of some words, and replacing 'fiosfis' with 'fiosa', still allowing 'fiosfis' as an alternate choice, along with a few other possibilities. (Fiosa, "house")

I will likely be posting the grammar as a web page soon. I just haven't decided where I will have it hosted and how I will present it. Most likely it will look just like the current document with a few changes and editing. I have more things to add to the grammar yet, but it is coming along a little at a time.

I have been working on yet another project, but it's not ready for public viewing of any sort yet. I guess I am experimenting with method at this point. This other project ('Ezedani' or 'Ezedan') is not as interesting as Teliya Nevashi, in terms of features, so far, but it has a different purpose, and I've learned a little bit about faster development through consistent use already. There's just not a lot of 'there' there yet. (That last sentence made me smile.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Need to do updates

I have created some additional vocabulary on paper that needs to make it into the lexicon spreadsheet. I have some grammar that's evolved that needs to be described. I am promising myself to do all that on Thursday.

I have also been working a little bit on ea-luna, as well. I'm reconstructing it from what I can find and what's in the notebook. The grammar was never written down beyond sets of sample sentences showing the solutions to problems I encountered. There's a pretty set formula for sentences (that is also mirrored in clauses within sentences), so it's not really difficult to learn. It's either made simpler or made far more complicated, depending on your point of view, by all the things that can potentially be omitted if the speaker believes they are reasonably obvious from the context. Not to mention the things that are usually omitted!

Anyway, in the midst of all of this, I've been giving some thought to my methods, what has worked and what hasn't worked so well for me. My efforts may be changing a bit as I move toward producing more language-in-use rather than spending too much time producing more desciption of how it should work in theory.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

6 days short of a year later...

When I make changes to the Nevashi grammar, I include the date of the addition or change. Today I added the causative+imperative in order to make "start the car" and "turn on the light" possible with the vocabulary that already exists, and I noticed that I added the regular imperative on 4/29/08. That's where the title of this post comes from.

And here's the new bit:
Imperative+causative. -(i)xi, s.; i- -(i)xi, pl., e.g. "muzhuxi ya otomom", "start the car" (run+causative_imperative the car-acc.)or "isivixi ya ombam", "Turn on the lamp, y'all." (pl-be active-causative_imperative the lamp-acc.)
Unlike the -shi imperative, the final i is never dropped. [Added 4/23/2009]

I haven't had time to work on the language much lately. I hope I'll get some work done on it this week. I'm going to continue doing translations and addressing grammar issues as they arise. I've got tentative solutions to a few problems I've encountered that also need to be documented and road tested.

Also, I'll be working on creating new words, both in the course of translation and by categorical lists. While I am at it, I need to find a way to work zabli and ovni into the language. Zabli is a nonsense word my 10-year-old daughter was saying recently, and then I was flipping through channels on the TV and passed a show about UFOs, which made me think (one meandering path of thought later) that ovni sounds like a Nevashi word. So does "ufo" for that matter.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Six more sentences

The next 6 sentences yielded more new vocabulary. They were also a little trickier than the first 8, but I guess that's the general idea of the graded sentences.

I will have to recheck this one and the previous entry with eight sentences to fix the grammatical errors I've almost certainly made, but in the meantime, here's a stab at the next six:

9. School began again. Ludi siv rakesh ya tholfis.

Lu-di siv rakesh ya tholfis.
inceptive-past-3rd s. be-in-session(active/on) again the school.

I don't know exactly why the definite article is required here, but it is. Siv may turn out to be really useful, since it can be used in sentences like, "All the lights in the house are on."

And it just made it really obvious that I need a way to use the causative and imperative together, in order to get it around to being useful in sentences like "Turn on the TV!" Back to the drawing board on that one.

10. The child ran quickly. Gi adad nisas ya mishtu.

Gi adad nis-as ya mishtu.
Past-3rd run quick-adv the child.

There's that mishtu again. Nis is quick or fast, -as makes it an adverb.

11. Yellow daffodils nodded gaily. Egi henaf jeyas denduloran wera.

Egi henaf jeyas dendulora-n wera.
3rd pl.-Past nod happy-adv daffodil-pl yellow.

Henaf, dendulora, and wera are new words. From henaf are hen (up) and naf (down). (Too precious? Deriving those from "nod" or vice versa. Probably. So is talala for 'laugh'. But I like the sound of those, so they are staying.)

12. Little Marigold cried bitterly. Ji pluva le'osias Tajítsha.

Ji pluva le'osi-as Tajítsha.
Past-3rd-s. cry bitter-adv Marigold-dim.

I had to assume that Marigold (Tajíta) is used as a name here, since it is capitalized, so I just put the diminutive on it. Tajítasha probably would have been equally correct, and I might have gone that way if TN was a penultimate-syllable-stressed language, but since it isn't, I thought Tajítsha sounded nicer.

Le'osi is a new word. I sort of felt like the glottal stop was underused, so there it is. I decided to go with a pretty literal English>TN rendering, with "bitterly" being translated exactly. I can easily see flavors being used not only for that sort of emotion, but expanded far beyond where they might appear in English, and with the flavors assigned to different emotions than you might expect if you speak English. (I tend to associate emotions (and words) with flavors and smells anyway, so this is appropriate for Nevashi from the "culture of Me" point of view.) I rather I briefly considered "sourly" for this particular translation, but "sour" has more melancholy and less anguish in it.

13. All the people shouted. Eji magan ya jenen shen.

Eji magan ya jenen shen.
3rd pl-Past shout the people all.

"All the people" gave me fits. I considered "Shena kye ya jenen" ("All(n) consisting-of the people") and several other alternatives before settling on just using "all" as an adjective for "the people". It also means "total" or "complete", so I think it implies "all of this".

I thought about telozh for shout, but I think magan represents a higher volume than that. It (the word) sounds bigger. Telozh is your Uncle Danny talking over everyone else at Thanksgiving. Magan is your Aunt Betty telling him to "SHUT UP!" when she just can't take any more.

14. I recited twice. Ja hlal ravan.

Ja hlal ravan.
1st s.-past recite twice.

Ravan comes from ra+van (ra+two). Cf. Rakesh, again. ra+more.

Hlal is a new word. There are a lot of initial consonant clusters permissable that I haven't been using, and I love hl and hr, so there it is. This word means "to tell a story, give a speech, or recite". Derived from it is hlalim, "story, speech, recitation".

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First 158 words of Language X

I found a bit of a conlang in a little notebook that was at the bottom of one of my totebags. It's mostly just a word list, and now it is HERE. There are no notes about grammar to accompany the list. WYSIWYG.

I was able to tease some of the intended phonology out of notes with that were with certain entries on the list. |c| = /tS/, |x| = /S/, |j| = /Z/, as noted in many of the entries.

The pronouns have two forms-- the first is an honorific form you might use with someone you perceive to have authority or to be of a higher social status. That much surfaced in my memory when I was putting it all into that spreadsheet. 

There are two words for "book", and I really don't know that there's a difference between them, except that one seems derived from "read" and the other from "write", so I guess it depends on whether you see books primarily as something written or something read.

Some of the words were obviously begged, borrowed, or stolen from English or Spanish. There seem to be some derivational affixes in there (mostly prefixes), but I haven't broken them down to see what, if anything, they contribute to the meaning. 

It's not much of anything, but I've come to the conclusion that more documentation is better than less. I've been toying with the idea of a collaborative language project, so I wonder if this would work as seed vocabulary for such a thing. 

I've been involved in a few collaborative conlangs that eventually fizzled (some sooner than others). I've been wondering if a collabolang (which is REALLY fun to say) might be more successful if it were built for a specific purpose-- for instance, as an in-game language for a guild in some massively multiplayer online RPG.

And with that, I now return you to your regularly scheduled Teliya Nevashi... 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eight sentences

Teliya Nevashi has no marking for collective/mass plurals like "birds", nor does it have marking for habitual actions, so these first ones were pretty straightforward...
Sort of.

1. Birds sing. Eci selis shanan.
2. Children play. Eti voya mishtun.[1]
3. Dogs bark. Eci buf kevrin.
4. Bees hum. Eci zhun mintan. 
5. Baby laughed. Ji talala Bene.[m]; Ji talala Bena. [f.]  
6. The sun shines. Si donu ya cea. 
7. The wind blows. Si feyu ya shushu.
8. The car started. Luti muzhu ya otomo. [2]

[1] Speakers of Nevashi are apparently much more age and gender conscious than speakers of English, because there are words for boy and girl at different age ranges (infant, toddler, preschooler, school kid (5-11), teenager (12-17)) that would be in far greater circulation than mishtu, which is a gender neutral word for a minor (non-adult). And though some people might consider it sexist and awful, the male form would probably be used for mixed groups and mass plural as well. So, while this is a correct and straightforward translation, a native speaker might well say "Eti voya levten." (Levte = boy, 5-11.) 
[2] Ha! A use for the inceptive! Muzhu refers to the running or working of engines, motors and machines, so this could be translated back as "The car began to run."

Weekend Conlanging Plans

Since I won't be at the Language Creation Conference this weekend, except through the magic of Internet simulcast, I thought I might actually do some conlanging this weekend instead.  To that end, I've printed the first two lists of graded sentences from Gary Shannon's site -- this one and this one -- to translate, in order to work out some grammatical knots and expand the Nevashi lexicon. 

I am hoping to develop a more comfortable relationship with the language on my way to fluency, and that's the other part of why I will be translating all those sentences. I start every language with the intention of becoming fluent in it, but those good intentions usually fail to produce the results I'd like. 

I was able to use ea-luna to some degree once upon a time, but that was a long time ago. I've got an urge to translate those sentences into ea-luna at the same time that I am working on the Nevashi translations, but that would probably be counterproductive in several different ways. I will give ea-luna some attention in the near future, but for now, I am working mainly on TN.

Speaking of what projects I am working on (or not working on), I opened a little notebook that was in the bottom of the totebag I've been using to carry my books around and discovered the beginnings of yet another language. I am going to take a little time this evening to document the vocabulary and grammar notes from that. It's not much of anything and it doesn't even have a name, but it might yet have words I can steal, or it might later develop into something more than what it currently is. In any case,  if there's one thing I've learned from ea-luna, it is that having a single hardcopy of any given bit of conlang documentation is a bad idea. Multiple electronic copies FTW. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tiny little updates

There have been a few new vocabulary items added to the dictionary, and the grammar has had a derivation section added back into it.

That is all. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pa an gwisel, and other notes to myself.

This particular entry is mainly for my own benefit, to remind myself to make some changes to the grammar later.

'To be' covers a lot of ground in English. Nevashi has a few different words for concepts that are covered by "be" in English, notably separate words for "to be located in a place" (e.g., as in "I am downtown.") and "to be in a given mood" (e.g., as in "I am happy.") Those are dev and vok, respectively.

"Pa an gwisel" would mean "I am cold." It uses an, which limited pretty strictly to connecting one noun with another in other circumstances, but here it is accompanied by the feeling/perceiving verb bit (pa) instead of the ordinary, default "be" one (ma).** This represents an extension of an to express the experience of physical sensations.

Also, this includes a new way of deriving adjectives from verbs (and probably nouns as well), using -el.
Gwis, "to freeze" > Gwisi, "frozen, icy"
...> Gwisel, "cold, freezing"

Pwen, v.,"to burn"; n., "fire" > Pweni, "burnt"
...> Pwenel, "hot, fiery, burning"

Also, I must remember to add numbers > 100 and new vocabulary.

Later this evening, I hope to write an entry outlining the differences between pa vok jeya vs. pa jeya vs. pa gan jeya. No promises though. 

(**As a bit of trivia, the distinction would disappear in the past tense, since both of those particular bits would become "ba"...)

The State of the Language, February 2009

Teliya Nevashi (hereafter, Nevashi) grew slowly in 2008. There was some minor vocabulary growth and a few grammar tweaks. It was mostly neglected. There wasn't even a lot of undocumented, behind-the-scenes development. On the positive side, the online documentation for Nevashi remains up-to-date. If I make a change offline, I am documenting it online fairly reliably.

My goals for 2009 include further fleshing out the grammar, building a large amount of vocabulary, and to create some texts in Nevashi, both translated and original. The first vocabulary advances will be in numbers and covering the domestic sphere, plus a long list of verbs I've put together.

I've got some ideas about creating an introductory level instructional text (or multimedia presentation of some sort). I don't really expect too many people to take that much interest in it, but I think putting it together may help me clarify some issues for myself, as well as being fun for me.

For right now, I am going to concentrate on Earth Nevashi (or, perhaps more whimsically, Nevashi-In-Exile), as a personal language, rather than Ianea Nevashi, the language as it exists within the fictional world of Ianea. There are two reasons for this. The first is that all of my conlangs are ultimately personal languages, even if I try to do something else with them. I just can't help myself. The second reason is that I am reevaluating where the Nevashi people and culture fit into the world. Development of Ianea continues, very slowly, but the geography is undergoing some radical changes.

So that's where we are right now and where we're going. Onward and upward!