Wednesday, October 19, 2011

513 and rising. Seasons.

I made some changes to a couple of affixes that has resulted in yet another revision to the vocabulary list. Here is the link to the Revised Revised version. 

I will get around to changing the link on the right. (It is on the right, isn't it? I always get that wrong.)

There are 513 entries in the document now. This isn't a full listing of all Nevashi words. The pronouns aren't there, for instance. Despite some omissions, I am glad I've kept it almost complete and updated regularly. Now I just need to get that other document re-written. I am working on it, but it has been extremely slow going because my personal life hasn't been especially conlanging-friendly lately.

Nevashi is the first conlang I've done that has never had a paper version. This was one of my goals for the project; I wanted to begin to work in a searchable and more shareable format. Of those two things, searchable is by far the more important of the two. The charm of looking for things in hand-written documents wears off pretty quickly when you're doing a lot of translations.

We've moved on to the half of the year during which I accomplish the most in my creative pursuits. This season is called kana in Nevashi. It's autumn and winter taken together. The same word can be used to mean cold weather in a general sense too.

Autumn is kana gwisot, "cool kana". Winter is kana gwisel, "freezing kana".

 Although I didn't make any notes on it, it would appear that the good people of Nevash measure the two seasons from equinox to equinox. The word for "south" is pakana, or "toward kana" and north is palora, "toward lora". (Lora is the other half of the year.) I will have to assume that they've generalized north/south as being "that direction on this side of the east-west line", based on where the sun is rising and setting. (I can only assume that's what I was thinking, since I didn't write anything down.)

In any case, kana is the season during which I do most of my conlanging, writing, painting, and so on. I get introspective and spend a lot of time thinking about life, the universe, and everything. During lora, I'm too busy running around outside and chasing kids. It's my care-free season.

Do y'all have a conlanging season? Or am I just a freak?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out-of-date documentation

The grammar I have linked over there on the right is terribly, terribly out-of-date. I plan on working on that a little bit today. It's still going to be very informal. Writing it all out in a conversational tone helps me get over my aversion to writing it out at all, and it makes it easier reading for my friends who aren't really all that interested in languages but are curious about what it is that I do.

In any case, whatever comes out of the revision will be better than the best available documentation for ea-luna. For instance, the ENTIRE documentation for ea-luna verbs is this:
 (ma/buna) (ae/ewe) (ema/ide) (eni) (uma/punu/bana) 
That makes perfect sense to me, but it really doesn't tell anyone else much of anything useful. That's what I am working from on my end, though, for most of my languages-- just a cheat sheet for my own benefit that needs to be expanded and explained before it is fit for public consumption.

On an different, but perhaps not wholly unrelated, note, the Nevashi word du jour, newly minted just this morning, is semosva, "procrastination" (or, more literally, "not-doing-ness"), which is just shy of simosva, "laziness".

Friday, September 2, 2011


Recently there was a post I replied to on the Conlangs group on Facebook that asked for verbs that mean "play" or "have fun". I shared and then offered a brief explanation for voya and lon, which mean "play (pretend or with toys)" and "play (a game or sport)". I was questioned about which verb would be used for playing with a ball. I offered a non-explanation that there was some overlap and that the meaning could be shaded in different ways. Now I am going to offer a better explanation.

Voya is open-ended play. If you're out throwing a ball back and forth, that's voya. Lon is competitive play, or any game where score is kept. If you and a friend are throwing the ball and seeing who hits a target more, that's lon. If you're throwing the ball at the target by yourself, it's lon if you're counting hits and trying to improve your numbers, but it is voya if you're just throwing the ball at the target for fun and not even keeping track. I have voya listed with ta, the sense of which is "doing" or "acting". (When I am showing the most likely combinations, I list them in first person singular and present(non-past) tense for the sake of simplicity and consistency, so ta voya is "I play".) Lon is listed with ka, the sense of which is "moving" or "going". On the other hand, if I am building with blocks, that might actually be fa voya, since fa indicates making, building, creating, and that sort of thing, while playing chess would probably be ta lon, since chess isn't particularly active. It might even be sa lon, since it is a thinking game.

I stink at chess. Playing against me is ti lon. Playing against someone good may be si lon. (I put these in 3rd person, since I don't normally play chess against myself. That would be reflexive anyway.)

Very few of my existing verbs have been stretched out as far as they could go. Most have one suggested usage. Some have two. I'd like to see more of them expanded along the lines of nedh, which defined this way: "pray (ca); meditate (sa); carry out a religious ritual (fa); worship (ta)".

If you wanted to shade the meaning of a verb a particular way, you might find this list handy:
  • 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/j 
The former is the non-past, the latter is past. Yes, the past tense of both ma and pa is ba. That wasn't a mistake. I like my languages a little messy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A vocabulary installment

Earth now has a name in Nevashi. It's Ashea, which comes from ash, "land, earth, dirt". That's not terribly original, but I do like the way it fits together with Ianea, which comes from iane, "water". It should probably have been Asha, but I like the matching forms.

Two other recent words are tuzhel and benaséd. They both mean "pregnant". The former would literally be something like "in an active state of being heavy" and the latter means "with child".

Tuzhi, the ordinary word for heavy, is also new.

And there's a word for "human" now, jenve, which combines jen ("person") and ve, which is the common part in "animal" and "pet", which must have to do with living beings.

The recently revised vocabulary list is at, if that link works.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tinkering, Aesthetics, and Carving Up Time.

I will have to do a significant re-write of the documentation for Teliya Nevashi in the near future. There are many sweeping changes coming along.

I am making some changes to the whole phono-mess. I am going to collapse my two r's (rh /R/ and r /4/) into one, which will be /r/ or /4/, and x /x/ will disappear into h /h/. Both changes affect the word xirhos ("how many"), which will become hiros. I do think that's an improvement. Part of me will miss rh and x though. Having those in addition to r and h was just asking for trouble from the start, and that was not an accident.

I also don't see the point in actually writing in the glottal stop when the most common place it occurs is between two identical (consecutive) vowels, and it always occurs in that case. There are a few other places I've put it, but it really wouldn't be missed from those places.

As described in the previous entry, I am making changes to the way nouns work, and I am scrapping the entire set of personal pronouns for new ones. (I will probably keep de for 2nd person, but the rest are history.)

All of the examples will have to be rewritten for these changes. That alone could take a while. It will give me a chance to get a feel for how the changes work out in practice. There's quite a lot of work to be done, and that's not counting things not written anywhere that need to be documented. All of this tinkering is good for my mental health, though, since it keeps me from worrying about other things going on in my life.


I have something to confess about the aesthetics of my conlangs: sometimes I make things ugly on purpose. And I don't mean, "This is an ugly concept, so it should have an ugly word." I mean that I quite often create things that aren't necessarily pretty to me because they are ugly in an interesting way or because a certain amount of ugliness makes a language feel more well-rounded to me. Otherwise, every word ends up sounding like "fishery" or "lilacs", words that I particularly like in English. For every "lilac fishery", there has to be a "salt water" (which sounds ugly to me, especially in my native dialect).


Teliya Nevashi has two verb tenses: Past and Non-Past. The non-past covers present and future, but it also covers the very recent past. If something happened an hour ago, that's still non-past. If it happened last week but *feels* like it just happened, that's non-past too. This recent past bleeding into the present that's bleeding into the near future reflects how I carve up time in my own mind, and tends to be a thread running through my various conlangs, even when they have more tenses. What's "present" is a little fuzzy for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nouns: A Progress Report...

I decided to completely scrap my set of personal pronouns and to revise how nouns are marked for number and case. It's taking me a while to come up with the set of pronouns that I really like, but in the meantime, I can share this much about nouns:

Nouns & Pronouns (Again.)

I’ve never been ecstatically happy with the noun and pronoun systems of Nevashi, so this seems like a good time to try something new.

Currently, there are a set of declensions based on suffixes. This proposal is for a system that parallels the way that verbs work, as suggested (by David Peterson?) at one point when I was kvetching on CONLANG-L about how unhappy I was with my nouns. While I am overhauling nouns, pronouns are getting reworked too.

The genitive has shifted to -i, which is also the most common adjectival ending. This was a change that mainly had to do with sound, but it is also consistent with the established (alternative) practice of using adjectives to show possession.

There are two sets of things that can precede nouns that can carry number and case markings. The first set is for use in any case where the noun, like the cheese, stands alone. The second set is case-and-number-marked definite article, demonstrative adjectives, and prepositions:

singular dual plural
Nom. (Optional) i il in
Genitive i’i ili ini
Accusative im ilim inim
Dative it ilit init

(I had thought, at first, that the nominative and genitive singular would be the same, but the glottal stop just isn’t getting enough play, so there it is, where it will suddenly become extremely common.)

Ya (The definite article, now with fabulous new marking)
Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ya yal yan
Genitive yai yalai yanai
Accusative yam yalam yanam
Dative *etc* yat yalat yanat

(And, of course, it butchered the tables in the copy & paste. Y'all are bright. You'll figure it out.)

Everything else will likely follow the pattern of ya there, except for some vowel changes as necessary. As usual, any ending that requires a vowel will echo the last vowel before it.

There's the possibility, under this system, of an empty, placeholder noun (similar to the magical verb an.) I am not sure what that would be or how it would be used, but the possibility is intriguing to me.

These changes will require me to change (or at least provide the alternative using this system) for every example in the documentation. I haven't decided if I will simply replace the existing noun-related section or present this as an alternative scheme.

Nevashi has always had alternate versions, which is one of the things I've lost in the existing documentation online. This is a shame because I've always enjoyed that aspect of this particular project. At one point, I had been working on a Babel text translation, and three versions emerged that were radically different in terms of structure, using exactly the same vocabulary set. I wish I had kept that, because it would give some insight into the overall development of Standard Teliya Nevashi, and also demonstrate how broad the shadow grammar really is.

(I can't think of a better way to describe the undocumented or underdocumented alternative grammars than "shadow grammar".)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bits & Pieces

Once upon a time, I had a chat on Facebook about what kind of gender system a race of insectoids might have. I had a thought or two on that matter that turned into this, which I found in a file oh-so-descriptively named "notes.txt":

Animate/Edible (most plants and animals, water, and enemies)
Inanimate/Edible (meat; grains, cooked, processed or manufactured foods)
Animate/Inedible (people, poisonous plants and animals, spirits, emotions, fire)
Inanimate/Inedible (Most concrete, inanimate objects)

The difference between 'pig' and 'pork' is one of gender-- a pig is A/E and pork is I/E.
Abstract concepts are assigned gender according to where they seem to best fit metaphorically. Animate and inanimate could also be seen as moving/stationary-- “Murder” is probably A/I because it is an action (moving) committed by living things (animate), while “neglect” might be I/I, because it is a sort of non-action.

Also in this file was a paradigm showing what I will assume is the present indicative of a verb tos or tosva. I know what tosva is ("there is, there are"), so I guess I was just working back from there to coax a more useful verb out of it.

Anyway, I thought I'd post some orphaned bits and pieces while I work on a potential overhaul of Nevashi nouns, which is taking me longer to write up than I initially thought it would. (It's actually two different possible alternatives to the system in the documentation now.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do fwata an.

Do fwata an is "because I can."

This is a bit of grammar I've used before, but never put into the grammar document explicitly. An is just there to complete all the required parts of the verb, since "can" and "do" are both contained in fwata.

I was giving some thought to another blog (as if I kept up with the ones I already have) of translations and compositions in Nevashi, and maybe with guest appearances of ea-luna, Myjador (or however I was spelling that last), and that unnamed conlang I've been secretly working on. I thought I'd call it either "Do Fwata An" or "Mufmuf".

If you've ever needed to say that someone writes too much, mufmuf is your verb, modeled on tel/teltel. Si mufmuf. ("S/he writes too much.") And isn't that fun to say?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Visiting Nevash: Travel from the Mainland

I've been having mixed feelings about Teliya Nevashi recently. I am not in love with it right now, but I am not in loathe with it either. I think some sweeping changes to the phonology will do a lot to make me happier with it, and there are still few enough words that I could apply the changes manually.

On top of that, I've got a new conlang pecking at the windows of my brain like that obnoxious raven from the poem. I would like to develop a conlang that's specifically a 'personal auxiliary language' for actual, general use by me. That's probably going to be my major summer project.

In the meantime, I've decided to work on a phrasebook for tourists visiting Nevash. I thought I'd put it here in installments as I go, since it will probably take me a long time to complete. Here's a small installment, some useful phrases for the boat ride to Nevash from the mainland:

Where is the boat?
Ya omo, mi dev alos?

I am seasick. I am very ill. Please kill me.
Ca omosivek. Ca sisivek. Gorhemixi lat, so pe net.

Don't vomit on my boat!
Seya sinashish omot laz!

Only one new word here: so ("if")
I didn't have an expression for "please" that I could find, so I went with "if you choose". I am not sure what sort of verb "choose" is. I was thinking pa (for the 'recieve'/'have' aspect) or sa (for the 'think') aspect. I think that sa net might be closer to "I decide" and pa net is perhaps closer to "I select". Anyway, I have rendered please as so pe net, "if you choose."

'Seasick' is 'boatsick' (omosivek). Hanesivek, literally 'seasick', refers to the symptoms of drinking sea water. It is also used to mean "crazy" or "stupid". (Or both crazy and stupid. Or reckless.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Vlaca nash xixirhuzh shmalonam.
I have eaten too many marshmallows.

Xirhuzh -- a large quantity of. Xirhos existed as a question word meaning 'how much/many', and looking at the other question words, I can only assume that 'xirh' means 'amount, quantity, number (count of items)'. Xixirhuzh, then, means a very large amount of something, or too much/many.

Xirhot -- a small quantity of. Xixirhot would mean a tiny amount, or too little of whatever it is.

Shmalo -- A word derived from the English, presumably because the Nevashi, upon first encountering this strange food, misheard the name as "my shmalo". The mistake dug itself in and refused to be turned out.

I had a dream and woke up with a new Nevashi word in my head. It was something that ended with the -séd suffix, and contained an entirely new root... but I don't even remember what the general topic might have been. Maybe it will come to me while I take a nap to sleep off the marshmallow binge.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Word For Today

I don't think I can commit to a word a day, but I do have a word for the day, along with its relatives.

Ora, true (adj); to tell the truth (v. with sa); to act honestly (v. with ta)
Oram, a truth, something that is true (n.)
Orabwa, truth (n.)

I can imagine ora'el as an emphatic form of the adjective, but I'll have to let that roll around in my mind for a while before I can divine the specific connotations of it. It might mean "honest" or "correct"... But ora'el hasn't quite landed yet.

Google docs doesn't want to cooperate with this particular laptop, so it will have to wait until later to join the official document.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Translation exercise from the CONLANG list

The following is from the CONLANG list. (I hope Amanda doesn't mind being quoted here.) I was pretty happy about this translation for a few reasons. The first is that it plugged a couple of glaring holes in my vocabulary ("cook" and "enjoy").

As I was looking through the words I do have, I found "fire (n), burn (v)" and related words, and also "warm (n, v)", but decided to go with something completely different for "cook". It gives me something else to build new words with. (For instance, "pwenulam" (fire+cook) could be used for grilling or barbecuing.)

Anyway, here's the post with the quoted part in italics and my response in bold:

On 3/12/2011 10:50 PM, Amanda Babcock Furrow wrote:
> I've been meaning to put out this translation exercise ever since Penzey's
> sent my husband the bumper sticker he couldn't resist "fixing" - from
> "Love people. Cook them tasty food." to "Love people. Cook them. Tasty!
> Food!"
> So, the exercise is: show us how different these two sentences are IYCL!

In Teliya Nevashi:

Hulishi jenenam. Ulamishi nashiyam anási vonesh.
Like(neighborly love)-IMP people-ACC. Cook-IMP food-ACC delicious them-DAT.

Jemishi jenenam. Ulamishi vonet. Anási! Nashiya!
Enjoy-IMP people-ACC. Cook-IMP them-ACC. Delicious! Food!

I was really torn about whether or not to use the imperative here, since
I also have an optative (which would suggest that it is desirable to do
these things) and a couple of varieties of 'should' that vary by the
degree of obligation (or the degree to which you'd feel guilty if you
didn't). In the end, I think I am happy with the way it turned out. And
they are pretty fun to read aloud too. (And I do need the practice
speaking the language aloud.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Update. No New Content Today... Yet.

I received a Kindle for Christmas from my son and his wife. (Actually, I am pretty sure that it was mostly from my daughter-in-law. She's sweet like that.) I am excited about the prospect of getting the grammar of TN into a Kindle-friendly format so that I can have an easily portable reference.

I need to update the grammar, and then I might create a "cheat sheet" version for the Kindle.

This afternoon, I plan on working out a simple Teliya Nevashi phrase book in order to have some useful conversational items together in one place.

I've been having a strong urge to start a new conlang, one that has the explicit purpose of being a personal auxiliary language (i.e. a conlang designed for everyday use in the real world by me... and anyone else interested). All my languages have this purpose, to some extent, but this is what I've been thinking about specifically for a new conlang now.

I'll try to resist, planning to redirect that energy toward TN, but I am not making any promises.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Fourth Annual State Of The Language

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2011!

Let's get right into this, shall we?

This year was another slow one for TN. I've actually spent a lot of time thinking about it, but not very much time actually writing those thoughts down. I feel like my current documentation of the grammar is really out-of-date and in need of revision, but still usable, if not particularly user friendly. The vocabulary continues to grow. It is up to almost 450 words, although this total number also counts alternate forms of the same word and words derived from other words. But, hey, I never turn down a good number!

I have come to the conclusion that I need to approach the language differently. Neglecting it really isn't doing much to improve it.

This is going to be the year of translations and composition for TN-- to work out the bugs in the grammar, expand the lexicon, and get myself a lot more comfortable with using it. I had wanted to post some audio files in 2010, but that idea fell through the cracks. This year, I am going to make some recordings, and hopefully have some other people make recordings as well. I predict some fairly major revisions coming to the grammar, and possibly to the phonology as well, as the language gets used more on paper and aloud.

I realize that this is pretty much exactly what I said last year, but it didn't pan out in reality, and it all still needs to happen if the language is going to get up off the paper and get some life into it, if you know what I mean.

On a completly trivial note, this blog (which is also the "official site" for the language) is getting a new look. I am tired of the old one, and the light green on dark green has been getting a little hard on my eyes.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about where TN is at and where it is going. Now it is time for me to go take a nice hot bath as a reward for getting in here for the fourth year in a row to post a "State of the Language". And on time, too!

Nashvi: A Vocabulary Installment

I have had this stuck among my draft posts for a while, so now I am winding it up and posting it. I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the Nevashi words for flatware (nashvi), mainly because I think of the words I want to use when I am walking to the store or in the shower or washing dishes, and then I forget them before I get a chance to write them down, so I have to invent them all over again later.

keb, to cut, slice
kebvi or kevvi, knife, blade
kebviozh or kevviozh, dagger, sword, machete (Anything in the large-to-very-large blade category)
vankebvi or vankevvi, scissors

The two forms shown are a matter of indecision on my part. It's my gut feeling that the 'bv' in this combination would eventually become 'vv', but I haven't decided if it is really going to do that at all, or if it would be spelled kebvi and pronounced kevvi, or be both spelled and pronounced kevvi. I haven't decided if this is some sort of general rule that might apply to other cases (e.g. would a hypothetical word kekxi become kexxi also?), if it is specific to that affix, or if it is sort of a weird thing about words for cutting-related tools. I haven't even formulated what the rule might be. That's something bubbling away on the back burner.

mek, to skewer or impale
meknash, fork
mekvi, skewer, spear

tum, to shovel or spoon (lift and move or measure with a shovel or spoon)
tumvi, shovel
tumviet, spoon

erhush, stir, mix together

luca, plate, disc
svado, bowl, dish
kalo, cooking pot, pan
iozina (or, alternately/more properly, iotzina), table (or board or plank; literally, "flat wood")

When I went to add these to the lexicon file, I found that I already had a word for "dish, bowl" (svado), which left kalo an orphan, so now it means a pan or pot for cooking. I was going to use it for table, but it sounded more bowl-shaped to me, so I decided to go the board=table route for table. I had to make a word for "wood" and then "flatwood" (because that sounded better than "cutwood" when I looked at both) and (SHAZAM!) we have a word for table.