The house was enormous. Cool and airy, it sprawled over a hillside overlooking the sea. The furniture, the tapestries, the statues— all were treasures.
Pavel wandered the house, looking at everything.
A servant approached him. “Would you have some little cakes, sir?”
“Thank you,” said Pavel.
The servant bowed, and walked away— without giving Pavel any cakes.
He came upon an older gentleman, smoking pipeweed on a balcony.
“Hello, sir,” said Pavel.
“Good day, young man. I believe I don’t know the name. You would have arms?”
“I don’t have any arms, I’m afraid. My name is Pavel Tihonei Karley.”
The old gentleman offered Pavel a small card, which had a picture of a fish and two red swords, and the name MEDRO ÖRNRICEI TELNE TÄL in gold.
“Yes indeed, Lord Täl— your father is the marquis, right?”
“He would be that, yes.”
The servant with the little cakes came by again. “Would you have some little cakes, sirs?”
“I would,” said Lord Täl.
The servant used a pair of tongs to pick up a cake and offer it to the lord, who took it.
Pavel decided to see if he would be lucky this time.
“I would too,” he said.
It worked [literally, it came thus]. The servant picked up a cake and gave it to Pavel. He then left, silent as a cat.
“I don’t understand,” said Pavel. “Before, I said Thank you, and he didn’t give me the cake.”
“You would not be, perhaps, much acquainted with fine houses? Thank you means that you appreciate the host’s kindness, but do not want the offering. Perhaps I will ask how you know this noble house?”
Pavel finished eating his cake— it was very small.
“You know, my grandfather is a banker,” he said. “The family owes us lots of money [literally, money and money].”
The Verdurian noble ranks are šoh (duke), surcont (marquis), cont (earl), hipcont (viscount), and beom (baron). The title comes just before the family name; thus Lord Täl's father is Örnric surcont Vešdan: Örnric, the marquis of Vešdan, or just surcont Vešdan.
Often a noble family has more than one title, and bestows the excess on the heir. Lord Täl is not the heir, however, and so he is simply referred to or addressed as (Medro) telne Täl, literally "worthy Täl". Note that the family name differs from the title, as it often does. Only the titleholder (and his or her spouse) can be referred to be the title.
The reading only hints at the complexity of noble manners. For instance, the servant calls the two men graženomî, because Pavel is not a noble. If he addressed Lord Täl alone, he would have to say sanno 'lord'.
Fortunately for Pavel, the former custom for a commoner receiving a noble's čunima— to kiss it— is no longer observed.
Esce piro lë et ditave? Does your father like me?
You can also insert esce before one item in a sentence, to question it or ask for confirmation:
E esce paž im foruneon? Is there a fish on the balcony?
E paž esce im foruneon? Is there a fish on the balcony?
You can also append řo e? to a statement, much as we add "isn't it?", "don't you?", "right?", and so on:
Susluomî zet crežu ab vilkan, řo e? You eat potatoes with a fork, don't you?
If the sentence is negative, add iy ar? instead.
Hutorom řo elire im řükán, iy ar? A farmer doesn't live in a castle, does he?
The conditional. The conditional is formed by adding -cel- in between the verb root and the personal endings.
lädcelai I will go vulcelu I will want voitcelao I will live lädcelei you (s.) will go vulceleu you will want voitceleo you will live lädcele he will go vulcele he will want voitcele he will live lädcelam we will go vulcelum we will want voitcelom we will live lädcelo you (pl.) will go vulcelo you will want voitcelo you will live lädcelu they will go vulcelü they will want voitcelu they will live
Some roots change when -cel- is added:
Esli so malsfaom sfahe, řo ilun cumprencelam.
If the barbarian spoke (literally, speaks), we wouldn't understand him.
Esli tencao šerä, ešelai lereže.
If I had had a beer (literally, if I had...), I would have been happy.
Esli maris esë řo esme šön, et kekcelai. Iy ilet.
If my husband isn't (literally, won't be) handsome, I'd kill myself. Or him.
The conditional may be used alone, but we can always assume there is a unexpressed condition, even if it's as vague as "if it were only that way (which it isn't)".
Rho maricelai frälinan Vyatei.
I wouldn't marry a girl from Vyat. (If there was one, if one was offered to me.)
By extension the conditional can be used merely to soften a statement or a request. The aristocrat in the reading uses it this way in almost every sentence— not a model to follow!
The partitive. Besides its possessive use, the genitive is used to indicate composition: čena pažei 'a meal of fish', verae vinei 'a glass of wine', tecai ořei 'a dagger of gold'.
An extension of this is the partitive, where the genitive is used where we would use some or any:
Urave, vulu žöhei. Please, I want some mead.
Colreu milke? Did you get some sausage?
Rho sen primetne vinei! He didn't offer me any wine!
If you eat luomei 'some apple', there is some apple left; if you eat luom 'an apple', you've eaten the whole thing. Similarly, compare vulu žöhei 'I want some mead' with the barbarian's vulu žöh 'I want mead' in lesson 2. As the partitive always implies that one doesn't want all that is available, it's a mark of politeness; the barbarian is being rude.
You never use the partitive with explicit indications of quantity, such as determiners (ci-čura 'that pear') or numbers (ďuni koupem 'two fruits').
Preposition + verb. Prepositions are often prefixed to a verb to refine its meaning or indicate a location or direction:
až away + fäsir leave → ažfäsir go away až away + prenan take → ažprenan remove u near + lädan go → ulädan go alongside, approach ir above + lelen see → irlelen overlook, oversee ak against + žanen come → akžanen bump against, run into
From its meaning of 'in, into' (imelirec 'indwell'), im- has come to be a general causative: im- plus an adjective A means 'to make A'; with a verb V it means 'to cause to V':
aniže cool → imanižen cool down, make cool
lebe new → imleben renew, invigorate
ďaye correct → inďayec correct, make right
bogaty rich → imbogatir enrich
lelen see → imlelen publish (make to see)
metan put → imetan insert
If you go to Vyat, bring me some wine. If Susana had known that there are pretty girls in Vyat, she would not have married. I would remove that piece of furniture if I were you. I wouldn't accept an offer from the duke of Pelym.
2. Design yourself a čunima and describe what is on it, in Verdurian.
3. Describe a meal, using any Verdurian terms for food and drink you know. Use the partitive when appropriate.
4. Write a short conversation: Pavel's experiences at the dinner table of the Täl family. Peřaps Pavel tries to chat up a young woman, but the servant keeps interrupting.
5. Pick an earlier reading and narrate it in Lord Täl's voice. Use the conditional freely. Think about what adjectives he would use to describe the characters.
The policeman walked tiredly down the street. The summer night had been quiet, but had seemed very long. He wanted to do nothing but get into bed and sleep. Paradise, he thought, would be a place where you can always sleep when you want.
When he saw the naked man, then, he sighed. He was crazy, no doubt, or perhaps was was running from some adultery.
“Here now,” he said. “What’s all this then?”
The man looked at him. “Uh— good day, officer. I mean, good night.”
“By Enäron, man, don’t you know you’re naked? Where are your clothes?”
“It’s a long story....”
“I hope it’s a good story,” the policeman sighed. “Let’s begin. Where’s your clothes?”
“They’re stolen. Someone took them while I was in the water.”
“Did I hear you right? What water was this? It’s not raining, and the sea is far from here!”
“I was in the fountain.”
“You were in a fountain! Washing yourself, I suppose?”
“Well, I had to, in order to remove the smell of manure.”
“The smell of— now why did you smell like manure, you rascal?”
“I tripped and fell in the manure in a stable, while I was chasing the boy.”
“The boy? And why were you chasing some boy in the middle of the night? Were you full of beer?”
“I had to, officer. He had my key.”
“Yes, officer. The door of my uncle’s house was locked.”
“Because this boy had the key?”
“No, before that. The door wasn’t really locked, because I had my key all along, except I lost it, and the boy found it.”
The policeman sighed again. The man didn’t smell of beer, but he certainly acted like a man who had drunk too much.
“Don’t worry yourself any longer,” said the policeman. “You’ve had a difficult night, but we’ll put everything right for you now. Just tell me where your house is, and we’ll go back there.”
“In Pelym,” said the naked man.
“In Pelym! How... What... Where...”
“It’s a long story,” sighed the man.
If you're being attacked, a cilu will help you; but if you were attacked several days ago, he won't be very interested. If you want justice or revenge, you would more likely turn to your family, taking a few brothers or uncles to confront the malefactor— or, more likely, to negotiate with the malefactor's family and work things out.
If a terrestrial could visit Verduria, he would soon appreciate that pollution is not a modern invention. The quantity of risdoš produced in a populous city is enormous. Despite the efforts of the street cleaners (pelecî), you can hardly help fouling your shoes. At least the better neighbořoods of Verduria city have paved streets; smaller towns or bad neighbořoods with unpaved streets are an affliction, dusty in dry weather, and in wet, a mire into which pedestrians sink to their ankles.
Singular Plural nom -y nočy mey fuáy -î nočî meî fuáî acc -im nočim meim fuáim -om nočom meom fuáom gen -ii nočii meii fuáii -uë nočuë meuë fuáuë dat -ín nočín meín fuaín -uin nočuin meuin fuáuin
The -y in this declension is really an orthographic variant of -i here, allowing us to keep it apart from feminine -i nouns. Given this, the declension is very much like the nouns in -u— in fact, the plural forms are identical to those of the -u nouns. The only thing to watch out for is the accent on the singular dative.
Nouns in -ia. Nouns in -ia decline a little differently from other feminine nouns in -a:
Singular Plural nom -ia prosia cogia Verdúria -iî prosiî cogiî acc -iam prosiam cogiam Verdúriam -em prosem cogem gen -ë prosë cogë Verdúrë -ië prosië cogië dat -ian prosian cogian Verdúrian -en prosen cogen
Unexpected forms are underlined.
Masculine nouns in -a. There is just one more declension of nouns in Verdurian— though since so few words belong to it you could just as easily call them irregularities. They are the masculine nouns in -a; about the only common ones (besides a few proper names) are esta 'summer' and azipa 'fat, grease'. They work like this:
Singular Plural nom -a esta azipa -ai estai acc -a esta azipa -am estam gen -ei estei azipei -aë estaë dat -an estan azipan -ain estain
Note that they decline exactly like nouns in -o, but with the o's replaced with e's.
Declension III adjectives: -y. The third of the four adjective declensions can be recognized by the -y ending in the singular nominative, in both genders. It goes like this:
Singular Plural masc fem masc fem masc nom. rožy rožy rožî rožî acc rožim rožya rožom rožyië gen rožii rožye rožuë rožyem dat rožín rožyan rožuin rožyen
Negative expressions. Verdurians say řo... nun, literally 'not now', where we would say 'no longer':
Řo ai nun malsfaom. I am no longer a barbarian.
Esli meď esë lädcele Vyatán, řo esmai nun meď esë.
If my son goes to Vyat, he will no longer be my son.
Řo... sul has the idiomatic meaning 'only'. (It's considered a limiting, thus negative element, and as you know negative words require řo in Verdurian.) Note that sul can be moved in front of the element which shows the limitation.
Řo piflao sul. I'm only flirting.
Řo emao šerä sul drukin esë. I buy beer only for my friends.
Sul cira zië řo cumprenne soi loži sannei. Only his wife understood the lord's words.
Word formation. Many Verdurian words form part of a family of related words, formed by adding various prefixes or suffixes. Some of the most common of these:
-náe indicates a place:
šual horse + náe → šualnáe stable
colir receive + náe → colnáe common room, reception area
šrifta knowledge → šriftanáe university
nuva bed → nuvnáe bedroom
kuna money → kunnáe bank
-om (feminine -oma) names an occupation or other associated person:
hutor farm + om → hutorom farmer
mal bad + sfahe speaks + om → malsfaom barbarian
cum with + yon bread + om → cumyonom companion (person you eat bread with)
belgo war + om → belgom warrior
kunnáe bank + om → kunnaom banker
-át is often used to turn adjectives or concrete nouns into abstract nouns:
inye kind + át → inyát kindness
rožy crazy + át → rožát craziness
hutor farm → hutorát agriculture
druk friend → drukát friendship
Eleď an aspect of God → Eleďát religion of Eleď-worship
on- indicates repetition or return:
on- + žanen come → onžanen return
on- + dan give → ondan give back
on- + lelen see → onlelen see again; cf. ad onlelán 'till we see each other again'
2. Rewrite the exercise in the form of a letter from the man to his friend. Don't forget his encounter with the policeman.
3. Make yourself a table of the declensions of Verdurian noun (there are five masculine declensions and five feminine ones). Don't use the same example words as were used in the Grammar sections of the lessons; choose your own. Find all the patterns you can— e.g. look at all the genitive singulars; all the accusatives; all the feminine plurals.
4. Look for instances of siča and ya in the reading. Why was each one chosen?
There's still more to learn about the language (though, thankfully, you've learned just about all the inflections already). You can look through the reference grammar for more. You can also practice using the document full o' readings.
You should also be ready to write messages in Verdurian on the Zompist BBoard. For this you might find the secret dictionary of modern and terrestrial vocabulary useful.