Monday, December 31, 2012

31 Days of Lexember

Well, we have reached the end of Lexember and the end of 2012. I actually completed this month long challenge, albeit with some early and some belated entries. These were not the only words created in December. The total number of entries in the Revised Revised Lexicon grew to 655.
  1. Urad Hristi, Christmas
  2. nashín, meal
  3. gitcea, noon. git, middle, center.
  4. tath, root. pwentath, ginger
  5. cevek, deer
  6. umo, bear (the animal)
  7. bron, to be tired (with ca); to be bored (with sa
  8. sashín, candy
  9. hula, circle
  10. ka'encel, depressed. ka'encelva, depression.
  11. nanal, to study, in the sense of learning something academic, what you do to prepare for an exam.
  12. suthol, to study something to learn about it, research, "do a science"
  13. gwisa, ice. gwisha, frost
  14. vegaviozh, truck
  15. kis, to be named. kisa, name.
  16. yun, to be brave (with ma), to explore (with ka)
  17. col, milk
  18. lemyan, river
  19. drus, meat, flesh, muscle. siru, organ, organ meat. sirurí, guts, internal organs (collectively)
  20. hin, cloud
  21. badh, cow
  22. zopa, sheep
  23. zhwes, goat
  24. peya, chicken.
  25. thes, to dance (with ka)
  26. grayu, raven. gawa, crow
  27. hom (with sa), to think. homa, thought or idea. homsiru, brain.
  28. hlet, to lead (with fa), to persuade (with ca).In the "in charge" sense.
  29. byu, after (in a sequence of physical objects), following (adj)
  30. joa, to save or rescue (with sa). joava, rescue or salvation
  31. pie, to jump (with ka). ropie, to leap up (ka), to pounce upon (ta)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nevashi In Use

A little story I wrote in Teliya Nevashi:

Eci dev ecu ecufios in Grayu wa Gawa, gyet oesi mur ala ti dhil keshas ged. Fish mise zo inim osal i Gawa im uje ofu fi ec im iane, ofu vici nan. Ci talala wa ki roho’a pa ya lemyan i Grayu.

Raven and Crow sit on a rooftop, debating about which one is more clever. Crow fills a jar using stones in order to raise the water, in order to drink. Raven laughs and flies to the river.

While I am posting that, I might as well post this translation of Psalm 146: 3-4:

(ESV: Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.)

Seya imoroishi inim hletif, im jenve seke kwe seya vesi joa inim denet lia. Gyet ci gorem, lumi an ash rakesh; gyet dha ceba kova, ci gorem tash rohoma voi .

And translated back:
Do not trust leaders (captains), nothing more than a human that cannot rescue you. When he dies, he becomes earth (dirt) again; on that same day, his plan also dies.

I don't have a word for "princes" yet, but "leaders" or "captains" is more culturally appropriate. I do have the words for "when his breath (or spirit) departs," but I decided to go with the blunter, more direct approach.

The new grammar is getting test driven and tweaked as I go lately. I should break it down for you, but it is after midnight and I should have been in bed hours ago. Maybe soon. No promises.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Big Ol' Name Post

My fifteenth word for Lexember was kis, to be named. I thought I would take a moment here to explain how  kis works in practice.

Ma kis im Mia. 
1st/non-past/be be-named DO-singular Mia.
I am named Mia. My name is Mia.

Mish kis il ambai cei im Sherry it lash.
3rd/singular*/be/causative be-named Subj-dual parent my DO-singular Sherry IO-singular me(dat.)**
My parents named me Sherry.

The name is the direct object. The subject of kis is the person who is named, or the person doing the naming when the causative is used. In the event that you are using the causative, talking about someone naming someone or something else, the recipient of the name is the indirect object.

Two grammar points here:
* Although it is mentioned in the grammar, it's worth noting here that the dual counts as singular for the purpose of conjugating verbs. I very nearly made a little error there myself, so I decided to mention it, even though it is unlikely anyone else will be writing any sentences in Nevashi.  And if someone did, what are the chances that it would have a dual subject?

** I don't think that it has been previously mentioned anywhere, but it has become an established practice with me that pronouns still carry the case markings from the old grammar even when used with the indirect object marker. I can't say why. It just is.

So, how do you ask someone what their name is? I have a couple of ways to ask:

Kisa dei, mi an eyos? (lit., "Your name, it is what?")
Me kis eyos? (lit., "You are named what?")

The former would probably be the more usual way of doing it. The second, I am not so sure about. I think maybe it should be "Me kis im eyos?" -- that is, making "what" (eyos) the direct object of kis-- but that's not the way it used to be done, and I am not 100% sure I will make that change, no matter how logical it is.

For about 15 seconds, I considered a "How are you named?" option, but that wouldn't really make much sense, since the thing you are looking for is a "what"-- the thing that would be the object of the verb.

And that brings us to the current list of personal names in Nevashi. The list is short so far.

Feminine Names
  • Taji, Tajisha - Marigold
  • Delya - Victory
  • Sema - Beautiful
  • Omanet - Sailor
  • Yuna - Brave
  • Umosha - Bear

Masculine Names
  • Delyafan, Delyafano - Victor
  • Edhél - Strong
  • Oman - Sailor
  • Yun - Brave
  • Semu - Beautiful
  • Umo, Umowe - Bear

Unisex Names

  • Imevi - Hopeful
  • Imevazha - Worthy of Being Wished For
  • Edhélva - Strength
  • Shaoshan - Owl
  • Kyun - Explorer (from ki yun, "he/she explores", possibly under the influence of kyu-, "away/down")
  • Cevek - Deer

Yeah, a lot of those feminine names end in an unstressed a. I know, I know. Sue me. So do some of the unisex names... so there! Actually, this is just general usage; sex-and-gender isn't really such a big deal on Nevash. The only definitely masculine or feminine names up there are the ones that end in -sha (f) or -we (m), which are sex-specific diminutives. Go ahead, name your son Tajiwe. Nobody will laugh. I promise.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The First 9 Days of Lexember.

It is 9 days into Lexember. Here's a list of the new words so far: 

  • Urad Hristi, Christmas
  • nashín, meal
  • gitcea, noon. Also, git, middle, center.
  • tath, root. Also, pwentath, ginger
  • cevek, deer
  • umo, bear (the animal)
  • bron, to be tired (with ca); to be bored (with sa)
  • sashín, candy
  • hula, circle

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chairs, Rebels, and Closing on 600.

Nevashi finally has a word for "chair," deviya, so I will no longer be able to joke that it has a word for "non-dualism" but not one for "chair".  This new word is dev (to be located/stand/sit) + iya. It is modeled on meriya, bed, which is from mer, to sleep.  Neither of these words fits especially well with the general meaning of -iya, which normally turns a verb into a noun that is the usual object of that verb: nash (eat) + iya = nashiya (food). I think this must be some sort of furniture-related exception. I had thought that perhaps it should be "devvi," since -vi indicates a tool or instrument, but that doesn't really seem to fit with the idea of furniture in my mind either. I like these words the way they are, so that's what they will be.

Another recent word I am especially fond of is fafari, rebellious or mutinous. I would say that it is derived from faru, to be opposed to, but that's not actually how it happened. "Faru" was reverse engineered from "fafari".  File that under "Confessions of a Conlanger."

There are fewer than 10 words left until Nevashi hits the 600 word mark. It's at 592 right now. There's a flurry of new words coming soon that will put me well into the 600's.

After some conversation with Peter Bleackley (@PeteBleackley) on Twitter, a new word-building event was born: Lexember (link is to his blog post about it). That's a word a day for the 31 days of December. I am working on my list. I think I may do three words a day: one for Nevashi, one for ea-luna, and one for my embryonic personal auxiliary language, which I am currently calling "Maus"-- from "Mia Auxlang" and my crazy, enduring love of rodents.  I'll be tweeting new words and posting them here as well. I hope to see plenty of #Lexember tweets, or posts elsewhere, with lots of interesting words to look at.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Not too long ago, I attempted to console someone by saying, "Don't mistake low tide for failure." It later struck me as a particularly Nevashi thing to say. Last night, another saying came to mind and struck me as something that the Nevashi would appreciate: "A rising tide lifts all boats." I realized then that I didn't have the words to translate either of those things.

The concepts of cyclical change and flow (of time, of events, and in a more abstract sense too) are important in Nevashi culture. The tides would be symbolic beyond their practical importance to all the people living on the coast or on boats. So, I spent part of last night reading more about tides than I'll ever need to know, for the sake of better conlanging. (Conlanging has caused me to read about all sorts of things not directly related to languages and linguistics.) I had to adjust a couple of affixes, but I now have words for the rising and falling tides, plus high and low tide. (Slack, spring, and neap tides have yet to be Nevashized.)

Kyu- used to be an affix for verbs that meant "down or toward", but it now means "down or away". Ro- meant "up or away", but now it is "up or toward". This better matches the experience of the tide if you're standing on the beach, and that makes it a better fit for Nevashi culture as well.

Those weren't the only words missing, so I created a few more, and now Nevashi has over 550 words. Among those words are pora, "to be correct" and its opposite, sipora. These are related to ora, which means "true" (or as a ma verb, "to be true"; as a ta verb, "to be honest"; or "to tell the truth" as a ca verb). It must have been pa ora at one time, but got squished into pora and became a verb of its own, with sa. (That might be more than anyone wants to know. Consider it exposure of process.)

So, back to the things I wanted to translate:

Don't mistake low tide for failure.
Seya fremish yam sidelya gida yam ortortian.
NEG confuse-IMP the-DObject failure instead-of the-DObj lowtide.

I wasn't sure about it at first, especially with the preposition involved, but I've decided that this construction with both sidelya and ortortian as objects of frem makes me happy. Also, I decided to go with an imperative instead of a less direct "one shouldn't..." because I wanted it to be more than a suggestion-- more "cheer up!" and less "you really shouldn't be so unhappy."

The imperative in Nevashi can be a little ambiguous because it loses the meaning carried in the first part of the verb. Frem isn't one of the more confusing verbs, though, because there are other clues to disambiguate-- where it means "to be confused", it would be intransitive, so there wouldn't be any object following it. Where it would mean "to confuse (someone)", it would have the imperative+causative (which is -ihi in the new grammar: fremihi). The only remaining possibility is what you see here. (At least until other meanings for frem come along.)

A rising tide lifts all boats.
fi ec ya roian inim shenai omo.
3rd-nonpast lift the rising-tide pl-DObj all boats.

This is pretty straightforward. I was back and forth on shenai omo and omo shenai, but went with the former because numbers come before nouns, and shenai ("all") specifically refers to a quantity. (I still think the latter sounds better.)

So, there you have it! Two more things you can say in Nevashi.

Oh! One more thing! In the process of creating vocabulary today, I added two new items to my list of personal names: Delya (f, "victory") and Delyafan (m, "victor". Or more literally, "victory-maker")

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I can't read my own shirt.

Update! The collected translations are at .

Did I seriously publish a blank post? I don't remember doing that. I'm pretty sure that was an accident of some sort. Well, that's fixable. I'll just fill it up with something now.

I ran into a person I know, the mother of one of my son's friends, and she showed me her new tattoo, which she thought was in Latin, but I immediately recognized as Spanish. I posted about it on Facebook because I figure it is something that my language geek friends can relate to.

This rolled around in my brain for a little while, and I posted again that I thought I might create a line of t-shirts in obscure natlangs and/or conlangs that read "I can't read my own shirt." So, of course, I had to translate it into Nevashi: Seya pa nal yam yera cei.

This is wrong, however. I forgot the potential bit. It should have been Seya vapa nal yam yera cei. (It is a rule that every short translation I post in public will have at least one major error, and every long translation will have at least two major errors and a minimum of three minor mistakes.)

Before I get into my thought process below, I want to make a note that the emphasis of "my own" is expressed here with ya... cei, which is "the + my". I figure I won't remember that detail unless I write it down somewhere, and this blog is often that somewhere.

And I should note here, also, that ce is the first person pronoun that emerged from the reforms that I still haven't posted in their entirety.


And now onto the inside-my-skull stuff:

I thought with some dismay that it looked awfully choppy with all those little words. I'd been thinking for some time that I might like to eliminate some of the spaces between mandatory elements that are obliged to sit next to one another in a sentence with nothing between-- that space in the middle of a verb, for instance. I've decided against this, however, because the language has a fairly straight forward stress pattern (primary stress on the first syllable unless otherwise marked) which would be obscured or lost if the verb got smooshed together. This isn't such a big deal in a case like pa nal which would become panal, but if your verb is, say, olugav adad, then it would be little harder to tell that there's supposed to be stress on the first a in adad if it were written olugavadad.

There's no reason why the verb couldn't be merged, other than trying to preserve the rhythm of the language as it is and keeping it easy for me to read aloud. And then that first part might be used independently, too. The example above, olugav adad, means "I forced myself to begin to run." I can imagine circumstances in which  olugav ("I made myself start to (go)") could be used to answer a question. In the end, "I like it that way" is the only reason any conlanger needs to justify whatever weirdness they've got going on in their personal projects.

I'll leave it alone.


I did the same translation into ea-luna, where I rendered it thus: ewe ate lige la la-bagu-mupa.  I translated it correctly beforehand on paper and then typed wrong, once again leaving out the potential bit. (What is it with me and potentials? I dunno.)

Later, I reconsidered, deciding it should have been bagu-la-mupa instead of la-bagu-mupa, to show the emphasis in "my own" in English. Those are "this-my-shirt" and "my-this-shirt" respectively. This is conlang cross-contamination from the "the + my" construction in Nevashi. Previously it would have been "my + same" in ea-luna: la-mupa dati.

I think I'll keep both. More isn't always better, but sometimes it is.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Not To Call People

Let's say that you've moved to Nevash, and you're very angry at someone, and you want to call them something that fully expresses exactly how you feel about them at that moment. The word you are looking for is shufuma.

This literally means "fishmouth". It was originally  a derogatory slang word for a dockside prostitute. As you might imagine, there are many popular explanations for the expression, each more obscene than the last. It has spread far beyond the docks, even into the mountains and onto the mainland, as a very strong, general purpose insult.

If you're sitting in a Nevashi bar, wondering what it might be like to be hit over the head with a bottle in a brawl, try this sentence:
Mi an amá dei go shufuma. ("Your mother is a fishmouth.")

On the other hand, uma shufi just means "mouth of a fish". If you call someone (or their mother) that, they'll know what you intended to say, but the effect will be more comedy than insult. They might hurt themselves laughing at you, though, so you might get your revenge after all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The 5th Annual State of the Language Address

Well, dear readers, it is that time of the year again when I tell you that the language is developing very slowly and next year will be better. I had intended to say this in a video to mark the fifth year in a row that I've given an annual update, but that didn't work out. (I owe y'all a video this year.)

2011 was an eventful year for Teliya Nevashi. The way that nouns work has changed, I've started writing the new and updated version of the grammar, and the language finally has more than 500 words. There were some minor changes to some affixes, and there are going to be some teensy changes with verbs too, but all of that will appear in the Teliya Nevashi 2.0 grammar when it comes along.

I'd hoped to have the grammar written by January, but that was outrageously optimistic. I am not even going to pretend that I have any idea when it will actually be written, but I do hope to have a new version available some time this year.

Other than producing a new grammar for public consumption, I am hoping to hit 1000 words this year. The language lacks a lot of practical vocabulary for everyday use, so that will be my first priority. I'd like to be doing more translations than I have been, which should help the total count also.

I spent a good amount of my language building time in 2011 messing with ea-luna instead. It's a deeply flawed language in so many different ways, but I can't help but have warm, mushy feelings for it. It's the oatmeal in my heart. I am beginning to think that it deserves a blog of its own, or perhaps I should start a general conlanging blog to cover all the things that I'm doing that aren't Nevashi.

On a more personal note, 2011 was a year full of ups and downs, and when I've fallen into those downs, I've gotten a lot of support from my conlanger friends. Thank you, all of you who offered me kind words and a shoulder to cry on. You know who you are.