“Susana, get yourself up! Get dressed!”
Susana awakened, excitedly. Today was an important day: her future husband, Mihel, had come. Mihel was the son of a farmer, an important farmer of Vyat. Susana’s father and Mihel’s father had arranged the marriage. Was he handsome? Was he kind? She washed and got dressed, and went downstairs.
“Susana, come!” said Susana’s mother. “Here is Mihel, son of Ihano!”
“Yes, yes, take a look at him,” said her father. “He’s very rich!”
There was Mihel. He was not very handsome. He was short, and very young. He looked at her. She looked at him.
“My name is Mihel,” he said.
“My name is Susana,” she said.
“You’re very beautiful,” he said. “The words of my father were correct.”
“He said, the girls in the city are pretty. The girls of Vyat are very different— they have the faces of horses. It is very important, to have a pretty wife.”
Later, Susana and her parents were talking. “Well, my daughter,” said her father. “Is he a good man?”
“Don’t marry him,” said her mother. “He wants a pretty wife, but truly, he is not handsome. It isn’t good— I don’t trust him.”
“No,” said Susana. “Marry me to him. I will be the prettiest girl in Vyat!”
A marriage links two extended families, and creates a whole set of mutual relationships and obligations. The families give each other gifts and feasts. The groom is expected to pay a bride-price (noscado), as a token of his ability to support a wife. With all this, it's no wonder that marriage is considered too important to leave to the parties concerned to decide; and divorce is extremely rare.
Marriages for love are not unknown, however. They are more common in modern than in medieval times, more common in the city than in the country, and more common among the upper and lower classes than among the bourgeois (for whom social advancement is most important).
Do arranged marriages work? Tolerably well— better, most Verdurians would suggest, than love matches, which can end as suddenly as they began.
masc. fem. sing. nom. beluán beluana sing. acc. beluán beluana pl. nom. beluanî beluanî pl. acc. beluani beluanem
The numbers 1 to 3 (an, ďun, ďin) are regular declension I adjectives; so you say:
Dhunî redelcë crežnu ana čura er ďini luomi.
Two women ate one pear and three apples.
The imperative. The singular imperative is the simplest Verdurian verb tense, with no irregularities at all. You simply add the personal endings (the same ones used with the present and past tenses) to the infinitive. All you have to remember is the distinction between singular and plural you.
žanen 'come' → žanenei! you (sing.) come! žaneno! you (pl.) come!
You can also form first- and third-person imperatives this way:
lädan 'go' → lädanam! let's go! rihan 'look' → rihane! let him look!
Reflexive verbs. Verbs where the subject acts upon itself are called reflexive. In English these are marked with special pronouns. There is a special reflexive pronoun in Verdurian, zet/zam, but it is used in the third person only— for the first and second person, the ordinary object pronouns are used.
zet lavan to wash oneself zet ečitan to wake up et lavai I wash myself et ečitai I wake up eř lavei you wash yourself eř ečitei you wake up zet lave he/she washes him/herself zet ečite he or she wakes up tam lavam we wash ourselves tam ečitam we wake up mun lavo you wash yourselves mun ečito you (plural) wake up zam lavu they wash themselves zam ečitu they wake up
This pattern is common enough that it has a name: zet lavan is called a reflexive verb. Verdurian uses reflexive verbs in a number of circumstances where English would not, as shown by the example of zet ečitan.
The reflexive verb needs its object pronoun— you must say et lavai, not just lavai, although you can say "I washed" in English.
The special object pronoun zet (plural zam) is used for both male and female subjects. Don't use ilet or ilat in its place— that means something different. Compare:
Susana zet ečitne. Susana woke (herself) up.
Susana ilat ečitne. Susana woke her (that is, someone else).
Ihano zet lavne. Ihano washed himself.
Ihano ilet lavne. Ihano washed him (that is, someone else).
The genitive. The genitive of a noun has as its basic meaning possession; in this sense it's comparable to the English possessive case: piro Susane, Susana's father; hutor Ihanei, Ihano's farm. Note that the genitive always follows the noun.
Here are the nominative and genitive forms for the types of words we've learned so far, in the form of phrases. As shown, the article and adjective agree in case with the noun they modify.
so šön maris the handsome husband → soei šönei marisei the handsome husband's so dobre avo the good grandfather → soei dobrei avei the good grandfather's soa šöna cira the pretty wife → soe šöne cire the pretty wife's soa dobrë meca the good daughter → soe dobrëi mece the good daughter's
The singular genitive for both of the masculine noun classes we know ends in -ei, as does the masculine form of adjectives in -e and masculine so.
soî šönî marisî the handsome husbands → soië šönië marisië the handsome husbands' soî dobrî avoi the good grandfathers → soië dobreë avoë the good grandfathers' soî šönî cirî the pretty wives → soië šönië cirië the pretty wives' soî dobrî mesî the good daughters → soië dobrië mesië the good daughters'
All feminine nouns, and the consonant class of masculine nouns and adjectives, have a plural genitive ending -ië. Masculine -e adjectives and masculine -o nouns just add -ë to the dictionary form.
2. Translate into Verdurian:
A mother's son; a good father's daughter; a farmer's day; the dog's house; the kind husband's future; a good barbarian's mead.
Invent more such expressions of your own.
3. Write some sentences to describe Susana and Mihel. What's your opinion: Ilun mariane? Or Rho ilun mariane? Can you give the reason for your answer in Verdurian?
4. Describe (in Verdurian, of course) some of the things that might happen early in the morning in the household of Ihano, his wife Reveca, and their children Tito and Atónia.
From Verduria city, Vyat is not far: two days by horse. Atónio, a poor student, wishes to travel to Vyat, but he does not have a horse. Perhaps he can hire a carriage? He talks to his friends.
“Let’s go to Vyat,” he says. “It’ll be pretty cool. The house of the poet Boďmorey is in Vyat, on the Eärdur, and you can buy sausages that are simply wonderful.”
“I don’t want to go to Vyat,” says Ihano, his friend. “But I have a remote cousin in Pelym. To go to Vyat, you go to Pelym first. Let’s go to Pelym. Afterward, you can travel from Pelym to Vyat.”
“Vyat is too far and to travel is too expensive,” says Lavreto. “Why go to that city? You are not a friend of the poet, are you? His poems are boring.”
“To be honest, I have a girlfriend in Vyat,” says Atónio. “She’s the daughter of a farmer, not rich, but very pretty. I can’t live without her.”
“This is indeed serious,” says Ihano. “How to send Atónio to Vyat? By boat?”
“Well, by boat it’s a week,” says Lavreto. “What about his classes?”
“What’s more important— classes, or love? Let’s send him inside a barrel.”
And that is what they did. Atónio hid inside a barrel, and his friends put the barrel on a boat which was going to Vyat. Unfortunately, in Pelym, the sailors found him inside the barrel.
So Atónio did not get to Vyat at all.
Nonetheless, in a pre-industrial society he doesn't have many options. Vyat is about 130 km from Verduria city, and two days suffice by horse only because the town lies on the Svetla, the great river of the Plain, and there's a good road along the river. A pity Atónio isn't from Pelym, which is just 30 km from the city!
Almean horses, by the way, would look rather odd to us, since their ears hang down rather than point up.
If you want a good horse, look for a barbarian. The nomads, of course, virtually live on their horses, and breed the fastest, hardiest horses on Almea.
Siča lädam Verdurian. We're going to Verduria.
Another usage of the genitive, by the way, is the opposite construction:
Siča žanam Vyatei. We're coming from Vyat.
The dative also used for the indirect object:
So hutorom de so luom frälinan er soa čura suleomán.
The farmer gives the apple to the maiden and the pear to the young man.
The dative usually ends in -n. Indeed, all you do for nouns in -o or -a and masculine adjectives in -e is to add -n:
Ihano → Ihanon to Ihano
Susana → Susanan to Susana
so breve avo → soán breven avon to the short grandfather
For nouns ending in a consonant, you add -án instead: šual → šualán; and for feminine adjectives in -ë you change the ending to -en:
šual → sualán to the horse
soa dobrë frälina → soan dobren frälinan to the good maiden
In the plural it's a bit more idiosyncratic:
so šön meď → soin šönin meďin to the handsome sons
so dobre kuzulo → soin dobrein kuzuloin to the good cousins
soa beluana meca → soen beluanen mesen to the beautiful daughters
soa bomë lotka → soen bomen lotken to the old boats
Prepositions. Most prepositions are followed by the dative: im Vyatán 'in Vyat'; u Abendán 'near Abend'; sam soan frälinan 'without the girl'; ab milkan 'with a sausage'.
Verdurian preposition usage does not always match that of English. If you stick to the basic meanings defined above you won't go far wrong; for metaphorical meanings, be sure to check the dictionary. As well, note that many expressions that require a preposition in English don't use one in Verdurian: voyir ciran esë 'send to my wife'; rihan soa frälina 'look at the girl'; lädan Vyatán 'go to Vyat'; žanen Vyatei 'come from Vyat'.
With prepositions of motion, the accusative implies movement, the dative, location. Compare:
Metnu Ihanam im bečka (acc.).
They put Ihano into a barrel. (He started out outside, now he's inside.)
Tróunu Ihanam im bečkan (dat.).
They found Ihano in a barrel. (He started out inside and he's still inside--no change.)
Adverbs. Adverbs can be formed from most adjectives by removing the ending and adding -ece: dobre 'good' → dobrece 'well'; beluán 'beautiful' → beluanece 'beautifully'.
Adverbs typically go after the verb— not at the end of the sentence as in English.
Susana uve lasece so ďer. Susana opens the door tiredly.
Susana de lerežece kuna licrem redelcem. Susana gives money to poor women happily.
Aspect markers. Verdurian uses adverbs where English would use auxiliary verbs, to mark aspects of the action. These adverbs precede the verb.
Siča marks the progressive— it indicates that the action is still going on.Ya marks the perfective— it emphasizes that the action is over and done with.
Atónio siča veturne Vyatán. Atónio was travelling to Vyat (he was on the way).
Atónio ya veturne Vyatán. Atónio travelled to Vyat (he's already there).
Some stative verbs imply a progressive aspect all by themselves, and don't need help from any adverbs. For instance, if you want something, that's an ongoing thing, you don't need siča. (Similarly, you don't have to say "I am wanting it" in English.) In the same way So belgom fue malsfaom implies that the warrior was always a barbarian.
You'd think ya couldn't be used with such verbs; but in fact it can be, in an odd and yet logical way. Since ya implies completion, or a change of state, when used with stative verbs it implies that the state is over, it's done with. Thus:
So belgom ya fue malsfaom. The warrior was no longer a barbarian.
Comparatives. The adverb muďe is used for both "more" and "most". You slip in the definite article so for the superlative (most):
muďe beluán more beautiful
so muďe beluán the most beautiful
If you want to indicate what you're comparing something against, you use dy:
Susana e muďe šöna dy soî frälinî Vyatei. Susana is prettier than the girls of Vyat.
With the superlative, the group of lesser beings is put in the genitive:
Ihano e so muďe bome suleomië. Ihano is the oldest of the young men.
Verbs in -c. If the infinitive of a verb ends in -ec, it's conjugated as follows:
-ao elirao I live voitao I enter -eo elireo you (sing.) live voiteo you enter -e elirre he or she lives voite he or she enters -om elirom we live voitom we enter -o eliro you (pl.) live voito you enter -u eliru they live voitu they enter
The ilu/ila, mu, and ca endings are just the same as for verbs in -n. The se and le endings change the final -i to -o, and the ta ending changes the -a- to -o- as well.
Two of the verbs we've learned have some irregular forms.
-cao elircao I lived voitcao I entered -ceo elirceo you (sing.) lived voitceo you entered -ce elircre he or she lived voitce he or she entered -com elircom we lived voitcom we entered -co elirco you (pl.) lived voitco you entered -cu elircu they lived voitcu they entered
Two of the verbs we've learned have irregular past roots:
2. Create some sentences using multiple prepositional phrases. Some should use the dative, some the accusative. (See the Grammar section if you're not sure what that means.)
3. Translate into Verdurian:
the most important of the lessons
happier than a horse
more handsome than a barbarian
the shortest of the cousins
the most excited of fools
4. Pick a short text and decide, for each verb in the text, whether you would use siča, ya, or nothing at all if you were translating the text into Verdurian.
5. Write an alternative ending to the story, in which Atónio reaches Vyat.