Virtual Verduria

 

The Verdurian Language

This page contains a brief introduction, a sketch of the essentials of Verdurian, and a helpful chart of inflection for easy reference. There's more... so much more... see the links below.
Introduction
The basics
Morphological summary

Reference Grammar • Intimidating, but complete
Verdurian Dictionary • All the words
Practical Course • Lessons for learning the language
 

Thematic Dictionary
Modern terrestrial technology
Some Verdurian texts • and more at Almeopedia
Subrel i aksubrel • Extended text in Verdurian
Verdurian Names
Verdurian poetics

The Language Construction Kit

© 1997-2018 by Mark Rosenfelder. All rights reserved. Sixth Edition.


Introduction

Verdurian, known to its speakers as soa Sfahe, the Speech, is the language of about 55 million people in the Eretald plain in the southern hemisphere of Almea. The kingdom of Verduria itself takes up about a third of this territory, and is one of the most advanced and powerful states on the planet.

Verdurian is heavily dialectalized, each country and province having its own distinctive way of speaking; it’s fair to say that if you traveled more than about 250 km from Verduria city, you wouldn’t be able to understand the peasants— though you could probably get on with the lords and the shopkeepers.

That is, the dialect of the city, Mažtane, is a lingua franca throughout Eretald, including areas like Barakhún and Ismahi where the people speak entirely different languages. As Verduria has colonized islands and enclaves around the world— Leán, Karímia, Jebruk, Sitfi, Téllinor— it can be said to be one of the first Almean languages of worldwide scope, and its traders and colonists have brought back words from around the world.

It has a rich history of scholarship and literature, so that it is virtually a requirement for the Almeologist. For the same reason it’s been a gateway to the other cultures of Almea: we could hardly have come to understand Cuzei, Xurno, or Arcél without Verdurian grammars and histories to lead the way.

Verdurian is the direct descendant of Caďinor, the language of the Caďinorian Empire, which flourished two thousand years ago. Barakhinei, Benécë, Ismaîn, and Sarroc also descend from Caďinor. All of these are members of the Central subfamily of Eastern; thus Verdurian is distantly related to Cuêzi, Curiyan, Xurnese, Čeiyu, and the Naviu and Čia-Ša languages.

By contrast it is not related to Kebreni and Dhekhnami to the east, nor to the Somoyi-Meťelyi languages to the west.

Changes in the 6th edition

The 5th edition of the grammar is the one that was on the web for over twenty years. Though serviceable, it’s old-fashioned in some ways, and hard to use in others.

This edition is thoroughly rewritten. Sometimes that means removing things that now make me cringe, such as the ancient trope of explaining sounds by going through the alphabet. Other changes:

  • All sentences now include glosses.
  • There is a good deal of new material on syntax, especially on how features interrelate.
  • The lexicon now consistently marks valence, and in more detail.
  • The grammar itself is easier to navigate, and can be displayed on one page.
I’ve also made the grammar harder, in a sense: it assumes some linguistic knowledge, and goes deeper on many topics. It saves time not to explain the basics; if you do need the basics, reading the LCK (preferably in print form) or reading the lessons instead should do the trick.

I've removed some material intended to introduce Verduria and Almea, and explaining the relationship to Caďinor; all this is much better explained now elsewhere in Virtual Verduria.

Ave drukin soe Sfahei,
Mark Rosenfelder
Oak Park, July 2018

The basics

Let’s be honest: many of you are going to keep reading till you get bored. That’s fine, but I think we’d both prefer that you get a good overall sketch of the language rather than some fraction of the inflectional morphology.

Sentence order

The normal sentence order is SVO (subject verb object):
Soa ceřecoma lü so dalum.
The-f alchemist-f love-3s the-s.acc king-s.acc
The alchemist loves the king.
A pause to explain the glossing conventions.
  • A hyphen separarates morphemes, so alchemist-f means that there are two morphemes, ceřecom ‘alchemist’ and a ‘feminine’.
  • A dot separates meanings within a single fusional morpheme. Thus s.acc means that the ending um indicates singular accusative, and these meanings can’t be separated.
  • 3s means “third person singular”.
  • To save space, nouns are not marked as m (masculine) or nom (nominative), and verbs are not marked as pres (present tense), unless required for clarity.

As you can see, Verdurian has a definite article, so. But it has no indefinite article:

Ceřecoma lü dalum.
alchemist-f love-3s king-s.acc
An alchemist loves a king.

Case

Verdurian has four cases— nominative, accusative, dative, genitive. They’re used as you would expect based on German or Latin. Here, dalu ‘king’ changes to accusative dalum because it’s the direct object.

Gender

Verdurian is a gendered language: every noun is classified as masculine or feminine. The sample sentence thus tells us that the alchemist is a woman.

Gender normally operates as you’d expect with human referents: dalu king, ceřecom alchemist, maris husband, baraďu brother are masculine, elrei queen, ceřecoma alchemist, cira wife, sädra sister are feminine.

But every other noun is gendered too, without pattern: cuenda f. festival, gunë f. armor, precok m. apricot, cuon m. dog, fulüra f. ink, řusi f. muscle, losu m. moose, and so on. Fortunately almost all nouns can be identified by their dictionary form: nouns ending in a consonant, u, o, y are masculine; those ending in a, e, i, ë are feminine.

Agreement

Adjectives agree with nouns:
Soa lerežë ceřecoma done šön fäboš soán dobren dalun.
The-f happy-f alchemist-f gave.past-3s pretty-m.acc painting-acc the-m.dat good-m.dat king-dat
The happy alchemist gave a pretty painting to the good king.
And verbs agree with the subject of the sentence in number, singular or plural.

Verbs are also inflected by person: prosai ‘I walk’, prosei ‘you walk’, prose ‘he/she walks’. As person information is marked on the verb, subject pronouns are rarely necessary.

Indirect objects

The same sentence shows off the dative, used for indirect objects.

Object pronouns, either direct or indirect, go before the verb:

Soa ceřecoma ilun done šön fäboš.
the-f alchemist-f he-dat gave.past-3s pretty-m.acc painting-acc
The alchemist gave him a pretty painting.
Soa ceřecoma ilet done soán dobren dalun.
the-f alchemist-f he-acc gave.past-3s the-m.dat good-m.dat king-dat
The alchemist gave it to the good king.
Soa ceřecoma ilet ilun done.
the-f alchemist-f he-acc him-dat gave.past-3s
The alchemist gave it to him.
Note that the painting, being masculine, is referred to using the masculine accusative pronoun ilet ‘him’. There is a word for ‘it’, but it’s only used for things that have no gender, such as sentences.

Negation

To negate a sentence, insert řo before the verb:
Soa ceřecoma iler ilun řo done.
the-f alchemist-f it-acc him-dat not gave.past-3s
The alchemist didn’t give it to him.
Other negative words, like nikto ‘no one’, still require the řo.
Nikto iler ilun řo done.
nobody it-acc him-dat not gave.past-3s
No one gave it to him.

Questions

The simplest form of a question is simply to inflect the voice upward. It’s also common (and it’s usual in writing) to use the introductory particle esce:
Esce soa ceřecoma iler ilun done?
Q the-f alchemist-f it-acc him-dat gave.past-3s
Did the alchemist give it to him?
Interrogative pronouns are, as in English, fronted:
Kiom soa ceřecoma ilun done?
what-acc the-f alchemist-f him-dat gave.past-3s
What did the alchemist give to him?

Tenses

Verdurian has four realis tenses, plus a conditional.
Šrifao. I know.
Šrifcao. I knew.
Šrifcerao. I had known / I knew before.
Šriftao. I will know.
That is, there are two past tenses, one being used for events previous to the time being discussed. Compare:
Zola nesne im zonán 3467, ac marinerai im zonán 3465.
Zola born-past.3s in year-dat 3467, but marry-past.ant.1s in year 3465
Zola was born in 3467, but I had married in 3465.
The conditional is used with if conditions, but also wishes, including those simply introduced with the particle ut:
Ut šrifcelao! Would that I knew!

Aspect

Aspect distinctions are made using adverbs:
Dénuo prosai. I walk a lot.
Siča prosai. I’m walking.
Ya prosnai. I’ve walked (it’s done).
Núnece prosnai. I just walked.
Núnece prosmai. I’m about to walk.
Zaprosnai. I began to walk.

Relative clauses

Relative clauses are formed using the interrogative pronouns.
Ihano lü soa frälina.
Ihano love-3s the-f maiden
Ihano loves the girl.
so suleom ke lü soa frälina
the youth who-nom love-3s the-f maiden
the young man who loves the girl
soa frälina ket lü Ihano
the-f maiden who-acc love-3s Ihano
the girl that Ihano loves

Valence

There is no passive in Verdurian. There are several ways to defocus or omit the subject of a transitive verb:

Use the reflexive:

Soa Sfahe zet mis zdesy.
the-f speech refl-s.acc speak-3s here
Verdurian is spoken here.
Use the impersonal pronoun tu:
Tu mis soa Sfaha zdesy.
impers speak-3s the-f speech-acc here
Verdurian is spoken here.
Use OVS order:
Soa Sfaha mis so žen zdesy.
the-f speech-acc speak-3s the people-nom here
Verdurian is spoken by the people here.
Increasing valence, a causative verb šesan adds an argument to a verb:
So dalu šesne mizec soa Sfaha soán kebrenán.
The king cause-past.3s speak the speech-acc the-dat Kebreni-dat
The king made the Kebreni speak Verdurian.

Touristic highlights

For connoisseurs of languages and conlangs, Verdurian has a few unusual features:

Morphological summaryMore

Verbs: lelen ‘see’, baďir ‘hit’, elirec ‘live’

N R C Tense
1s lelai baďu elirao Present
2s lelei baďeu elireo
3s lele baďe elire
1p lelal baďum elirom
2p lelo baďo eliro
3p lelu baďü eliru
 
1s lelnai baďru elircao Past
2s lelnei baďreu elirceo
3s lelne baďre elirce
1p lelnam baďrum elircom
2p lelno baďro elirco
3p lelnu baďrü elircu
 
1s lelai baďru elirao Past Anterior
2s lelnerei baďreu elircereo
3s lelnere baďree elircere
1p lelneram baďreum elircerom
2p lelnero baďreo elircero
3p lelneru baďreü elirceru
 
1s lelmai baďretu elirtao Future
2s lelmei baďretu elirteo
3s lelme baďrete elirte
1p lelmam baďretum elirtom
2p lelmo baďreto elirto
3p lelmu baďretü elirtu
 
lelec baďec elirë Present participle
lelul baďul elirul Past participle
leläm baďäm eliräm Gerund
lelcelai... baďcelu elircelao... Conditional
lelenai... baďiru elirecao... Imperative

Irregularities
Esan be ai, ei, e, am, eo, eu
fassec do fassao, fasseo, fas
kies do what kiai, kiei, kiet, kaiam, kaio, kaiu
lübec love lübao, lüo,
mizec say mizao, mizeo, mis
šrifec know šrifao, šris, šri
žanen come žai, žes, že
žusir sell žui, žus, žu

Irregular roots: past esan → fu; dan → don; kies → kaiv;
Future dan → dom; kies → kaim

Past root changes

  • N verbs: c n = sn, č n = dn, d n = zn, g n = žn
  • R verbs: č r = dr, m r = mbr, n r = ndr, z r = dr
  • C verbs: c c = sc, č c = šc, m c = nc, s c = š, z c = ž
  • C+ liquid (l/r), any class > CLi (never stressed)

Future root changes

  • N verbs: č m = dm, g m = žm
  • R verbs: č r = dr, m r = mbr, n r = ndr, z r = dr
  • C+ liquid, any class > CLi (never stressed)
Masculine nouns
servant animal king spittoon summer
s nom reď dasco dalu katy esta
s acc reď dascom dalum katim esta
s dat reďán dascon dalun katín estan
s gen reďei dascei dalui katii estei
 
p nom reďî dascoi dalî katî estai
p acc reďi dascom dalom katom estam
p dat reďin dascoin daluin katuin estain
p gen reďië dascoë daluë katuë estaë
Feminine nouns
frog dance helmet lip lion
s nom rana lavísia casi leve gurë
s acc rana lavísiam casa leva gurä
s dat ranan lavísian casin leven guren
s gen rane lavísë casë levei gurëi
 
p nom ranî lavísiî casî levî gurî
p acc ranem lavísem casem levem gurem
p dat ranen lavísen casin leven guren
p gen ranië lavísië casië levië gurië
Adjectives (m f)
1 2 3 4
s nom - a e ë y ë a
s acc - a em ä im ya ä a
s dat án an en ín yan én an
s gen ei e ei ëi ii ye ëi e
 
p nom î î î ëi î
p acc i em em om yem óm em
p dat in en ein en uin yen ëin en
p gen eë ië uë yië ëë ië
Definite Article (so)
m f
S nom so soa
S acc so soa
S dat soán soan
S gen soei soe
 
P nom soî soî
P acc soi soem
P dat soin soen
P gen soië soië
Personal pronouns
nom acc dat gen
I se et sen esë
You s. le len
He ilu ilet ilun lië
She ila ilat ilan lië
It il iler ilon lië
 
We ta tam tan taë
You pl mu mun muë
They ca cam can caë
 
Refl s ze zet zen zië
Refl pl za zam zan zaë
 
Impers tu tu/tü tun tuë
Relative and interrogative pronouns
nom acc dat gen
Who s ke ket ken
Who pl kaë kaëm kaën kaëne
What kio kiom kion kiei
This eto eto eton etë
That tot tot totán totë
 
Nothing niš niš nišán nišei
Everyone fsya fsya fsyan fsye
Everything fsë fsë fsën fsëi
 
Where ktë ktë ktën ktëi
Here zdesy zdesy zdesín zdesii
There cečel cečel cečelán cečelei

Virtual Verduria