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")