Knock! A man opens the door.
“Hello, Ihano!” says a young man. “How are you?”
“Fine, fine. But... please, young sir, who are you?”
“You’re Mihel? But who’s Mihel?”
“But don’t you know? Your cousin! My father is Nícolo.”
“You’re my cousin? And Nícolo, who is he?”
“Nícolo... His mother is Reveca.”
“Reveca Titei? She is indeed my aunt! And so you, Mihel, are my cousin. Welcome, cousin!”
“Reveca Titei? But no, my grandmother is Reveca Solomei. I’m sorry, Ihano. I must have the wrong house. [Literally, It isn’t the right house.]”
“Yes, I’m sorry. And besides, my name isn’t Ihano! My name is Atónio!”
The extended family generally lives nearby, and is available for family celebrations, business contacts, babysitting, emotional support, religious observance, and financial assistance. Significantly, Verdurian has two words for 'orphan': sampire, used for those without parents, and samženate for the more serious condition of not having a family.
Reveca Titei is called that not because her family name is Titei, but because her father is Tito. It's very common to call a Verdurian by his or her name (nom) and patronymic (pirei).
Uestu uve so ďer. subject verb object a man opens the door
Articles. Verdurian just has one article, the definite article so 'the'. There is no indefinite article— where we would say "a door" or "a father" in English, a Verdurian would just say ďer or piro.
Questions and negatives. There are several ways to form questions in Verdurian. The simplest is just to use a rising intonation of the voice:
E ďaye dom? Is it the right house?
To negate a statement, insert řo before the verb:
Piro esë řo uve so ďer.
My father doesn't open the door.
So uestu řo e sulete.
The man isn't young.
To be. The basic forms of esan 'to be' are:
ai (I) am ei (you) are e (he, she) is am (we) are eo (you all) are eu (they) are
Possessive pronouns. To indicate who something belongs to, you use the possessive pronouns, after the noun:
cira esë my wife maris lë your husband cira lië his wife maris lië her husband
2. Using the vocabulary from this lesson (or the glossary), make up some sentences expressing your relationship to people you know.
3. Using the conventional expressions, write a very short, polite conversation between two Verdurians who meet in the street.
The barbarian is dirty and tired. He sees a farm and a house. Knock!
—Farmer! Where are you, dog?
The farmer comes and opens the door. “Yes, sir?”
“I want mead!”
“You want mead! And you don’t know how to say please?”
“I’m a warrior, dog! I want mead, and right now!”
“Yes, yes, indeed. Wife! There’s a barbarian who wants mead!”
The wife comes and sees the barbarian. “Hello, sir. Is it you who wants mead?”
“It is. Are you his wife? You’re a beauty, my chick.”
The wife says nothing, but goes into the house. She comes again, carrying the mead. The barbarian drinks and goes. He doesn’t say thank you.
“That barbarian is a villain,” says the farmer.
“Yes indeed. That’s why he’s drinking his mead— and my spit.”
Malsfaom ('barbarian') literally means someone who 'speaks badly'— that is, someone who doesn't speak Verdurian. By convention speakers of Ismaîn, Kebreni, and Flaidish are not considered malsfaomî. So the word ends up referring to someone from outside the Caďinorian Plain; and in practice anyone in this category who might be met inside the Plain is likely to be one of the southern or western nomads (loosely including Kačanza and Caizura in this category), or someone from the western mountains or the Western Wild. Most of these are 'barbarians' in our sense— nomads, warriors, unfamiliar with the graces of urban civilization.
Many barbarians, however, are fine and courteous individuals, quite unlike the one in the reading.
se I le you (singular) ilu he ila she ta we mu you (plural) ca they
These are subject pronouns (that is, se is "I", not "me"). Since Verdurian verbs show person and number, it usually isn't necessary to use the subject pronouns at all. They're sometimes useful, however:
Gender. Verdurian nouns, as in French, German, or Greek, have gender. Each noun belongs either to the feminine or the masculine class. Words referring to males are usually masculine, and those referring to females are usually feminine; but this doesn't always hold, and gender assignments are often arbitrary.
Fortunately, the gender of a word is (with a very few exceptions) obvious from its form. For now all you need to know is that nouns ending in a consonant or -o are masculine, and nouns ending in -a are feminine.
Masculine: avo grandfather; hutor farmer; maris husband; dom house; cuon dog
Feminine: ava grandmother; tilka chick; cira wife; beluana beauty; besya girlfriend
The definite article has different forms for feminine nouns. You use so only for masculine nouns; for feminine nouns you use soa:
so maris the husband so dom the house soa cira the wife soa tilka the chick
Verbs. Verdurian verbs are inflected; that is, their endings vary to indicate tense, number, and person. The same is true of English; "comes", for instance, indicates third person, singular number, and present tense.
The dictionary form is the infinitive, corresponding to expressions like "to say" or "to go" in English. Infinitives for Verdurian forms always end in -an, -en, -ir, -er, or -ec.
We won't try to learn all the forms of the Verdurian verb yet; but you should know how to form the "he/she" form of the present tense. It's quite simple: you take off the infinitive ending (-an, -en, -ir, -er, or -ec) and add -e.
lädan go → läde goes tenec have → tene has uvir open → uve opens pitir drink → pite drinks lelen see → lele sees vulir want → vule wants
With this simple rule you can look up verbs in the dictionary and start using them. You should be aware that there are a few irregular verbs— though nowhere near the number you find in French or even English. We've already met a few of them:
esan be → e is žanen come → že comes mizec say → mis says
Double negatives. In Verdurian, any number of negative words adds up to a single negation. To put it another way, when you use a word like niš 'nothing', you must still put řo before the verb:
So hutorom řo lele niš. The farmer sees nothing.
2. What's the "he/she" form of the following verbs: řarkir spit, sfahen speak, prosan walk, crežen eat? Find some more verbs in the dictionary and construct the he/she form.
3. Invent a conversation between the barbarian and the farmer where the barbarian is a good deal more polite.