Grammatical terms in Kebreni

Posted by Philip Newton on 5:59 8/13/01

In reply to: (none)

Grammatical terms in Verdurian appear to be pretty complete, but I was wondering what Kebreni call their verb inflections.

My first guess was that they would have words for "benefactive", "polite", "subordinate", and so on, but a little thought led me to a different system. Since their verb inflections depend to a great extent on changing vowels and moving them around while keeping the basic consonantal structure intact (except for possible voicing and devoicing), I can imagine that they might take a similar approach to Arabic.

In that language, I am told, grammarians take the verb f-`-l (or f-3-l, f-?-l; fa-`ayn-lam) "to do" (dictionary form fa`ala) and use its forms as the name of the corresponding general verb form. So, for example, "taktabi" would be the "taf`ali" of k-t-b (the example here is quoted from memory and may be incorrect).

The corresponding verb in Kebreni would be "tasu" since that means "to do"; however, this has a suppletive form "soru" for the polite forms, making it slightly less suitable (since "suro" does not correspond very well morphologically to, say, "kurina").

Two possible "solutions" that come to mind are (a) to inflect "tasu" "irregularly" (actually, regularly) when it is used to construct names of grammatical forms (so the "perfective polite" form would be called the "turisa" form despite the fact that the "turisa" form of "tasu" is not "turisa" but "suro"), or (b) to pick a different verb (preferably, IMO, one ending in -Cu rather than -uCy and having the form CVCu rather than, say, CVCCu or CVVCu). A couple of possibilities are zaru "exist, be there", diru "work", nizu "speak", nuitsu "think", and kanu "see". (I presume "baku" is not a good choice for the paradigmatical verb [grin].) Which one was actually chosen depends, I suppose, on the philosophy of Kebreni grammarians.

Under this approach, it would be a bit more difficult to talk about, say, the benefactive form in the absolute since there is no single word for "benefactive", only forms for "benefactive imperfective, benefactive perfective, benefactive volitional polite perfective" etc. But it might be sufficient, and would seem more natural.

"The volitional is formed by ..." would then probably be said as something like "The *adesu* form is formed from the *tasu* by ..." even though it can also be formed from the benefactive or *tesi* form: tasu - tesi - edesi, but "edesi" is also a kind of "adesu", in a way, since both are volitionals.

Could you ask your sources what method they use natively to describe their grammar?

And a related question: have you any idea what Kebreni call parts of speech? I could imagine descriptive forms (such as are used sometimes in German grammars: "main word" = noun, "do word" = verb, "how word" or "quality/attribute/property word" [Eigenschaftswort] = adjective) or borrowings from Cadhinor if they don't have their own words.


Mark responds:

Heh... in the moment between seeing the subject line and reading your posting, I thought about the Arabic system, which is wonderfully clever. It's much better than having to refer to (say) chantait as the "third person singular past imperfect indicative."

The verb I'd choose is nizu 'to say'. So you can name all the forms by running Philip's verb conjugator.

I'll get back to you on the other grammatical terms.

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