Virtual Verduria

 

Verdurian reference grammar

PhonologyConsonantsVowelsPhonotacticsSyllabificationStress

The AlphabetDiacriticsCapitalizationPunctuation

MorphologyVerbal morphologyInfinitivePerson/number endingsTensed forms Full examplesIrregularities ConditionalImperative classical ParticiplesNominal morphologyCases Masculine Feminine Poetic accusativeFinal stressIrregularities AdjectivesArticlesPersonal pronounsOther

Derivational morphologyNominalizationsAdjectivizationsVerbalizationsCompounds Prep + verbTwo-word Sound patternsGender adjustmentDiminutives / augmentatives

Parts of speechThe verbal systemTimeAspectConditionalInfinitiveParticiples Past/presentOne who doesGerund ReflexivesValence Reducing Increasing PitfallsDitransitives NounsNominativeAccusativeDative Of relation Genitive PartitiveLocations NP orderNouns on nounsGender mismatchesAnaphoraPersonal Subject PredicatesObject GenderReflexivesEach otherImpersonal tuFormal you IndefiniteDeterminersArticlesDemonstratives Quantifiers AdjectivalVerbal KiesFassecOzë Prepositions Case Prefixes Numbers MorphologyCardinalsMathematics

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Dialects

SamplesEffect/CountereffectThe wagerAbend P.I.

 

Verdurian reference grammar

Phonology

Consonants

The consonants of Verdurian are shown below: romanization in boldface, IPA in normal type below.
labialdentalalveolarvelaruvular
stop p b t d č c g k
p b t d k g q
fricative f v ď s z ř
f v ð s z ʀ
š ž
ʃ ʒ
nasal m n
m n
liquid l r y
l ɾ j
Dentals t d are dental, as in Spanish, not alveolar-palatal, as in English.

c g are never ‘soft’— that is, c is never [s] and g is never [dʒ]. s should not be voiced between vowels (though this is characteristic of Avéle dialect).

The use of c k for /k q/ is admittedly quirky, but results in spellings that look much less exotic— clek rather than kleq. (Besides, not all dialects pronounce k as /q/.) To pronounce a /q/, start with /k/ and move the tongue backwards; the sound should be much lower in pitch. In American English, the final consonant in milk is uvular [q].

Once you have k /q/, you can pronounce ř, which is the same sound fricativized. It’s the same as the French r. If you find it difficult, the kh sound [x] is acceptable. The simple r is a flap, as in Spanish caro (not carro); it’s much like the t in American English later.

We have /ð/ in English: it’s the voiced th in this, then. In handwriting, I use the caron over the D, which works for capital Ď, but Unicode makes the lowercase into ď. In some Almeological materials, where I use the Maraille font, you may see the d-caron.

H is simple in Mažtane: it’s always silent. The élite in Žésifo pronounce it as [h].

Doubled consonants must be held longer: prene, prenne sound different.

Before y, ë, or iV, consonants tend to be palatalized. This is especially noticeable with n and l, which become [ɲ ʎ].

S tends to voice before voiced stops, and m n assimilate in place of articulation to a following consonant, whether or not these are indicated orthographically. Thus sbayu = [zba ju], imseltan = [in sɛl tan].

Romanization note: If you don’t have access to the carons, you can write č ď ř š ž as ch dh rh sh zh. (Writing in Word, I've set up AutoCorrect shortcuts so I can insert the Unicode characters easily.)

Vowels

There are seven clear vowel phonemes and one marginal one:
front mid back
high i ü î u
i y ɪ u
mid e ö o
ɛ ø o
low a
a
English speakers must be careful to pronounce vowels clearly, not reducing them or turning them into diphthongs. They should not be colored (much less replaced) by a following r.

There is a tendency to lax i u o before a final consonant, if unstressed: kekom [qɛ qɔm], caďin [ka ðɪn], besyun [bɛ sjʊn]. This is widely viewed as a fault and if you ask a Verdurian to repeat the word they will use full vowels.

This characteristic is ancient, and in Old Verdurian plurals in -it had become [ɪt]. The vowel remained after the t was lost, producing plurals like caďinî [ka ði nɪ]. This contrasted with original final -i as in labi. This was highly useful for maintaining distinctions in the verbal morphology, so final -î is carefully indicated and pronounced there, and indeed spread to other declensions. It’s never written in any other positions, even if it’s pronounced there.

ä is simply a long a [a:]. Phonologically there is probably no reason it cannot be analyzed as /aa/. Some dialects lose the length, or pronounce it differently from Mažtane.

ë is always pronounced [jɛ], and palatalizes the previous consonant— thus lë [ljɛ] or [ʎɛ]. It is simply an orthographic variant of ye.

U and i tend to become semivowels when adjacent to another vowel. Thus uestu [wɛ stu], iosu [jo su], audec [aw dɛk], ecai [ɛ kaj]. Again, if you ask people to repeat a word they will give the vowels their full values. Note that is [ijɛ], because ë = ye.

A final -y after a consonant should be taken as an -i: ličy [li tʃi], verdury [vɛɾ du ɾi]. It’s an orthographic convenience which distinguishes masculine from feminine nouns. However, it reverts to [j] when it’s no longer final, as in verduryem.

A corollary: the word dy is pronounced di.

Phonotactics

The maximal syllable is CCVCC.

The initial CC can be one of

  • Stop + (liquid or s): platir, druk, gliny, nrüsk, pser; but no mr-
  • Fricative + (liquid or s): froe, Vlerë, sram, fsiy
  • (f or s) + stop: scafi, snugá, steklo, ftore
  • stop + t: ptaleo, ktuď, ctuzete
  • consonant + y: tyurma, lë, syel
Exceptions can be found, but they are mostly borrowings, and subject to regularization: e.g. nkaš (from Ismaîn) and sbayu (from Naviu) are normally pronounced enkaš, zbayu. Words like streli are normalized to sreli.

The final CC can be one of

  • (liquid or s) + stop: alb, etald, urk, kest, nrüsk
  • liquid + fricative: olf, urs
  • n + stop: šank, viond, pelant
There are a small number of oddities, such as keks, bakt, seft.

Syllabification

Divide before a single consonant: i-fo-ru, ba-ra-hi-ne-i.

Divide double consonants: pren-ne.

If a consonant cluster can begin a syllable, let it: Ke-bri, e-glé-rec, pi-flec, su-sre-vo-lu, re-mlot-ka, ra-spu-yo, ba-sfa-he, na-si-tse, al-ce-dla, šri-fta.

Otherwise divide: am-rab, gar-lo, mus-čo-te, es-ďi-tel.

Keep Vu, Vi, uV, iV together: au-dec, to-scei-o, ue-stu, io-su.

Divide between any other adjoined vowels: se-or, nu-o-tan.

Don’t divide words based on morphological boundaries: im + oligec = i-mo-li-gec; im + leben = i-mle-ben.

Stress

Though Verdurian has free stress, the penult is normally stressed.

Stress can always be found from the orthographic (or romanized) form:

  1. Stress the syllable with an acute accent: á é í ó ú
  2. Otherwise, the first syllable with a diaresis: ä ë ö ü
  3. Otherwise, the penult.
For determing the penult, count vowels in diphthongs even if the syllabification rules keep them together (dru-KEI, es-NAI), and do not count y (ŽA-ney) unles it’s the only vowel (ver-DU-ry).

As an example, here is a short paragraph with stress and syllabification marked.

Šm Debere fue audäm im Curesin u drukán zië Gn Andaleon, so depirom dy tróune rëco lë ne šriftanáen. Oligulu ciozë colre ne domán lië nočín iž lädecan lië, ktë otál esnai.

ŠRI-ftom de-BE-re fue au-DÄM im cu-RE-sin u dru-KÁN zi-Ë graž-DA-nin an-da-LE-on, so de-PI-rom dy TRÓU-ne RË-co lë ne šri-fta-NÁ-en. o-li-GU-lu cio-ZË COL-re ne do-MÁN li-Ë no-ČÍN iž LÄ-de-can li-Ë, ktë o-TÁL e-SNAI.

The Alphabet

The letterforms and names of the Verdurian alphabet, in Verdurian order:
The order is mostly that of the Cuêzi alphabet which is its ultimate source, and shows some phonetic insight: we go from vowels to stops to fricatives/liquids. In Caďinorian times the letters were renamed (previously Cuêzi names had been used) and the order changed to make a memorable rhythm.

The letters y š č ž were added during the Dark Years.

Diacritics

The romanized diacritics directly represent Verdurian ones; see the Orthography section for details.

The umlaut ¨ represents the lenge, a ‘long’ vowel— though only ä deserves the name.

The acute ´ represents the vuáë. To Verdurians, this is the line which indicates stress as well as the one used over voiced consonants (at least in the ancient forms). The romanization of course only uses it for stress.

The breve is used over i. I romanize this as î, though I used to use ĭ, which you can probably find in some old materials.

The circumflex ^ represents the mole, used by scholars for laxed vowels; and the macron – represents the lenge cuzea, used to represent the long vowels of Cuêzi.

Capitalization rules

The uppercase forms are, as in our alphabet, also the ancient forms. In Old Verdurian, only the lowercase letters were used; after the conquest of Žésifo there was a vogue for using the ancient forms, mostly as decoration. Often important words were uppercased.

Since the invention of printing, the use of capitals has been reduced to one rule: the first letter of a sentence, of a proper noun, and of a title is capitalized.

Ya ivrice so ivram <Eta soî aďî.>
compl read-past-3s the book-acc / about the-m.p god-p
He’s read the book “On the Gods.”
Some unexpected corollaries:
  • Adjectives and generic nouns derived from place names are not capitalized: verdúry ‘Verdurian’.
  • Names of months and weekdays are not capitalized: išire, ceďnare
  • Titles and honorifics are not capitalized: Alric dalu ‘King Alric’
In some cases, the rules affect words needed for Almeological studies, and English rules are used for these, within English text.
  • First names and surnames are capitalized, but not patroynmics: Alric vlaranei Vleteon. Outside the grammar I will write Vlaranei.
  • In geographical terms, the common noun is not capitalized: etald Verdúran, zëi Mišicama.
  • The rare geographical names with two or more words follow the ordinary rule: Lebe obad, Hežina nanei. In maps, however, I will write these as Lebe Obad, Hežina Nanei.
Note that ‘St. Paul’ as a person is nëron Pavel. As a geographic name it should really be Nëron pavel, but Verdurians do write Nëron Pavel.

Where we use boldface, Verdurians may capitalize the word.

As a convention, modern scholars use the majuscules for any text in Caďinor, including single words. (However, if the entire text of a book is in Caďinor, it’s printed with ordinary Verdurian capitalization conventions.)

Punctuation

The bolyáše kešaš ends as sentence. It can be reduplicated to mark an ellipsis, or the end of a passage, quotation, or another extent of text.

The cues marks a question, the iskriča an exclamation.

The kešaš is similar to our comma, but also takes the place of our semicolon. Verdurian grammars usually say to write a kešaš whenever you would pause in speech. This may be less useful for non-native speakers. If you use it where you’d put a comma, you won’t go far wrong.

You can double it to indicate a longer pause.

Also note that it introduces quotations, at the beginning of the paragraph.

The šircaî are used to set off any expression: parentheticals, quotations, titles of artistic works, and side thoughts.

In Verdurian sample texts, I’ve used < > where Verdurians would use the šircaî, and introduced direct quotations with — as a representation of the kešaš. I have not attempted to precisely mirror Verdurian usage of the kešaš with commas.

Verdurians do not have any equivalent to our italics. For emphasis, in handwritten text, and some books, it’s common to write the word in larger letters. In printed books, sometimes the letters are separated by spaces:

Mižao dy et r a z r u, řo dy et r a š r u.
say-1s sub I-acc shave-past-1s / no sub I-acc have.sex-past-1s
I said that I shaved, not that I had sex.
Similarly, a sentence might be de-emphasized by being written smaller.

There is no firm convention on writing foreign words. In a non-linguistic work, if they are not too many, they may be enclosed in šircaî on first reference. In textbooks and the like, various expedients have been tried: a thicker font; all caps; or (rather elegantly) text in another color.

Morphology

I’ve kept this section focused on what forms exist and how to make them. Only the basics are given on how to use them; that will be fully covered in the next section.

Verbal morphology

Overall, verb forms can be divided into three classes:
  • The infinitive, which is invariable
  • Tensed forms, which conjugate by tense, person, and number
  • The conditional and imperative, which show person and number only
  • Participles, which decline as adjectives
In addition, there are particles used to express aspect.

Infinitive

The citation form of the verb is the infinitive, normally used after another verb, or as a substantive.

There are five infinitive endings: en an ir er ec. All five go back to Caďinor, where there were inflectional differences between all of them, but in Verdurian we need only refer to three conjugation classes— N, R, C, from the last letter (the class letter).

That is, the only thing affected by the vowel in the infinitive ending is… the infinitive ending. Everything else depends only on the three conjugation classes. (However, it’s not quite the case that only the infinitive is affected; the imperative is based on the infinitive.)

The verb root, which is the basis for conjugation and derivation, is formed by removing the infinitive endings.

Person/number endings

The tensed, conditional, and imperative paradigms are all marked for person and number. The personal endings depend on the overall conjugation class (N/R/C):
N R C
1s ai u ao
2s ei eu eo
3s e e e
1p am um om
2p o o o
3p u ü u

Verdurian grammars refer to these with the pronoun names se, le, il, ta, mu, ca.

Mnemonics:

  • 3s e and 2p o are the same for all classes.
  • The 3p forms are almost the same; just remember ü for the R class.
  • The 1p endings all end in m. The preceding thematic vowel recurs in the 1s and 2s.
  • The 2s ending is e plus the thematic vowel.
  • The 1s ending is a plus the thematic vowel, but in the R class –au becomes –u.

Tensed forms

There are four tenses: present, past, past anterior, and future. These correspond simply enough to time; the past anterior is used for events before the time of narration.
  • The present is formed from the verb root + the personal endings.
  • The past is formed from the verb root + the class letter + the personal endings.
  • The other two tenses use a class-specific prefix.
Thus schematically the pattern is always root + X + personal endings, where X is given by the following table:
N R C
Present - - -
Past n r c
Past anterior ner re cer
Future m ret t
Note that the past anterior X begins with the class letter.

The past tense derives from the Caďinor remote past; the substitution occurred when sound changed cause the Caďinor past and present to merge in most forms.

The past anterior derives from the Caďinor definite past anterior, but the endings have been normalized, and the class letter inserted by analogy with the past.

The future derives from the Caďinor remote present, which had future as well as potential or conditional reference.

Full examples

Here are sample conjugations for lelen ‘see’, baďir ‘hit’, and 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 lelnerai baďreu elircerao Past Anterior
2s lelnerei baďreeu 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

Irregularities

Things are not quite that simple, however. There are both verbs with irregular forms, and patterns which change whole sets of verbs.
Present tense
Some verbs have irregular forms, bolded in the following list. Regular plural forms are omitted.
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, lü
mizec say mizao, mizeo, mis
šrifec know šrifao, šris, šri
žanen come žai, žes, že
žusir sell žui, žus, žu
Derived forms of these verbs also use these endings: cummis, onžai. However, derivations of esan are regular: adesai.

If the verb root ends in ž, this changes to g ecept in the 2s/3s, and in the 3p R forms:

Nožen squeeze nogai, nožei, nože, nogam, nogo, nogu
Lažec get lagao, lažeo, laže, lagom, lago, lagu
Dyužer lust for dyugu, dyužeo, dyuže, dyugum, dyugo, dyužü
Historically, these g’s are relics rather than innovations. Caďinor g changed to ž before a front vowel, so lages > laže, lagont > lagu.
Past and past anterior tense
Esan has suppletive forms in the past: fuai, fuei, fue, fuam, fuo, fueu. However, the regular esne is used for existential ‘be’. Derived verbs do not use the suppletive forms: adesnai etc. The past anterior is regular: esnerai etc.

The verb dan ‘give’ would have regular forms *dnai, *dnei, etc.; these instead become donai, donei, etc.; past anterior donerai etc.

Kies ‘do what’ has the irregular past root kaiv-; thus kaivai, kaivei, …; past anterior kaiverai

In addition note the following patterned 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)
Examples:
  • ocan > osnai, lädan > lāznai, legan > ležnai
  • žečir > žedru, visanir > visandru, rizir > ridru
  • cučec > cušcao, emec > encao, mižec > mižao
  • meclir > mécliru, ivrec > ívricao
Again, these are relics of sound changes, and occur in the past anterior as well.
Future tense
The future of dan is domai, domei, etc; of kies is kaimai, kaimei, etc.

Note these patterned 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)
Examples:
  • lačan > ladmai, legan > ležmai
  • žečir > žedretru, visanir > visandretu, rizir > ridretu
  • ivrec > ivritao, meclir > mecliretu

Conditional

The conditional is formed from the verb root + cel + the personal endings.
1s lelcelai baďcelu elircelao
2s lelcelei baďceleu elirceleo
3s lelcele baďcele elircele
1p lelcelal baďcelum elircelom
2p lelcelo baďcelo elircelo
3p lelcelu baďcelü elircelu
The conditional of dan is doncalai...; that of kies is kešelai… Note these patterned changes, which are the same as those for the C verbs in the past tenses.
  • All verbs: c c = sc, č c = šc, m c = nc, s c = š, z c = ž
  • C+ liquid, any class > CLi (never stressed)
This tense does not derive from Caďinor; it was formed from the auxiliary caelan ‘suppose’.

Imperative

There are forms for the imperative for all six person/number combinations in Verdurian. The non-second person forms can be taken as hortatives: let me go, let him go, etc.

They are formed by adding the personal endings to the infinitive. The vowel in the infinitive ending only appears in the infinitive and the imperative.

1s lelenai baďiru elirecao
2s lelenei baďireu elireceo
3s lelene baďire elirece
1p lelenam baďirum elirecom
2p leleno baďiro elireco
3p lelenu baďirü elirecu
The imperative looks a lot like the past tense, and historically that’s what it is. (Compare French si nous allions? ‘shall we go?’— literally a past imperfect.)

Kies lacks imperative forms.

The classical imperative
In addition to the ordinary imperative, there is an alternative known as the classical imperative, which is a survival from Caďinor.
2s leli baďu elire
2p lelil baďul elirel
These forms have come to be seen as extremely rude; they are only used for servants or enemies, and often not even then. They are found in the Aďivro, and have certain legal uses— e.g. a plaintiff is invited to the judge’s table with Žani! ‘come!’

Participles

The participles are formed as follows. They are declined as regular adjectives.
Present participle lelec baďec elirë
Past participle lelul baďul elirul
Gerund leläm baďäm eliräm
The only variation by conjugation class is the present participle -ë for C verbs.

Nominal morphology

The parameters of Verdurian nominal declension are gender, case, and number.

There are two genders, masculine and feminine. Caďinor had a third gender, neuter, but this was merged with the masculine in Verdurian.

In the citation form (s.nom.), masculine nouns end in a consonant, o, u, y, or a. Feminine nouns end in a, ia, i, e, ë. The only overlap is a; thus the gender of a noun is apparent by inspection except for nouns in a. The vast majority of these are feminine; the few exceptions are indicated in the dictionary as n m.

(As noted, final y is pronounced i, so these endings are distinguished in writing but not in speech.)

The different endings define ten declension classes. Endings differ somewhat between classes.

Cases

There are four cases (one less than Caďinor; the ablative has been lost).
  • The nominative is used for the subject of a sentence, for predicates after esan ‘be’, and after a few prepositions, notably i.
  • The accusative is used for the direct object of a sentence, and after prepositions expressing movement— im selä ‘into the river’.
  • The dative is used for the indirect object of a sentence, and for most prepositions, when movement is not implied: im selen ‘in the river’, sam värecan ‘without danger’.
  • The genitive is used for possession: selë sannoë ‘the lord’s river’.
(For oddities in case usage, see below.)

Masculine declension

Here are the regular masculine declensions:
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
 
θ - o u i a
Case endings can change word stress; reď, reďán; dalu, daluë; katy, katii. Outside grammars, Verdurians usually write î as i. As this causes confusion (cf. reďî, reďi), I always retain the î.

Mnemonics:

It’s useful to isolate a thematic vowel θ for each paradigm.

  • The acc usually ends in m.
    • In the consonantal and a paradigms, the s acc is the same as the nom.
    • In the other paradigms, the s acc is θ + m.
    • In the o u i paradigms, the p acc is om.
  • The dat always ends in n.
    • In all but the consonantal paradigm, the s dat is θ + n.
    • The p dat is θ + in.
  • The s gen always ends in i.
    • In the u i paradigms, it’s θ + i.
    • In the rest, it’s ei.
  • The p gen ends in ë.
    • In the o u a paradigms, it’s θ + ë.
  • The p nom always ends in i or î.
    • In the o a paradigms, it’s θ + i.
    • In the rest, it’s î.
To put it another way, the ‘best behaved’ paradigm would be
nom acc dat gen
singular θ θm θn θi
plural θi om θin θë
The exceptions to this:
  • o: s gen ei
  • u: p nom î, p acc om
  • y: s dat stressed, p nom î, p gen
  • a: s acc = s nom, s gen ei

Feminine declensions

Here are the regular feminine declensions:
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
 
θ a ia I e ë
For the i e ë paradigms, the s dat and p dat endings are identical.

Mnemonics:

  • The s acc normally ends in a.
    • But note ia > iam, ë > ä.
  • The p acc is always em.
  • The dat ends in n.
    • In the singular it’s θn.
    • In the plural it’s en, except i > in.
  • The s gen is a bit hopeless, but always has an e in it.
    • The e ë paradigms have the expected θi.
    • Given a > e, we’d expect ia > ie, and ë is just an orthographic variant.
    • i > ë can be taken as analogy from a > e.
  • The pl gen is always .

Poetic accusative

Objects tend to appear in unusual places in poetry, and an accusative that looks the same as the nominative could cause confusion. Therefore a poetic accusative has been devised. This only affects the singular.
  • Consonantal declension: em
  • But: words in -Vh > -Vhm, e.g. šohm
  • A declensions: ä
The temptation should be resisted to use these special forms anywhere else, even in archaizing language.

Final stress

If the s nom ending is stressed, all endings should be stressed. E.g. aknó aknám aknón aknei; pisá pisá pisán pisé. This includes plural forms. Stressed î reverts to i. Thus aknói, pisí.

Irregularities

Certain nouns ending in c ca d g ga t have a different form in the plural. E.g.
bröca > brösî pants
kud > kuzî holes
log > lož words
řit > řič pans
verat > veraďî boars
Not all such words are affected; the dictionary will indicate irregular plurals. These alternations are the relic of sound change: cf. Caďinor brueca > bruecet, verať > veraťit.

Adjectives

There are four adjectival paradigms:
m f
1 - a
2 e ë
3 y y
4 ë a
If there is a nominal paradigm with the same (s nom) ending and gender, the endings are identical. So for instance paradigm 1 mön, möna ‘diseased’ are declined exactly like reď, rana. In paradigm 2 (e), the masculine declension is
s e em en ei
p î em ein eë
This is as expected, except for the p nom/acc (î em instead of *ei *om). The feminine forms match feminine nouns in –ë. In paradigm 3 (y), the masculine forms match masculine nouns in –y. Feminine nouns are:
s y ya yan ye
p î yem yen yië
Except in the nominative, these are identical to the feminine nouns in a but with an inserted y. In paradigm 4 (ë), the masculine declension is
s ë ä ën ëi
p ëi óm ëin ëë
This is as expected with θ = ë, except for the s acc ä, and the stressed p acc.

Articles

There is only one article in Verdurian, so ‘the’.
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
Despite the vocalic ending, these are simply the endings of the 1st adjective paradigm. Recall the phonetic rule that oi is pronounced [oj]. In the case of so, this applies to oe as well. Furthermore, o > w before a stressed vowel in just this word. So as pronounced, the paradigm is:
m f
S nom so soa
S acc so soa
S dat swan soan
S gen swey soy
 
P nom soy soy
P acc soy soym
P dat soyn soyn
P gen soyé soyé

Personal pronouns

There is one pronoun per normal verbal ending, except that there are feminine/masculine/neuter forms in the 3s.
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
The singular and plural ‘you’ must be carefully distinguished.

The formal ‘you’ is the impersonal pronoun tu. In this usage only, the accusative is .

The suppletive accusative forms go back to Proto-Eastern. Pronouns often have accusatives in t, which goes back to Caďinor.

Mnemonics:

  • The accusative, if not suppletive, ends in t or m.
  • t is only found in the singular, m in the plural.
  • The dative always ends in n.
  • The genitive always ends in ë.
  • The 3s m/f/n distinction is lost in the genitive, which is always lië

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
Derived forms of these words (ifkio, nibke, etc.) are declined the same way. Nëcto, nikto, što decline like eto. Nibcë, ticë, ifcë decline like ktë.

Mnemonics:

  • Ke/kaë decline like the personal pronouns.
  • The remaining pronouns have identical nom/acc.
  • niš fsya zdesy cečel decline as if they were nouns.

Derivational morphology

Where the affix has a meaning (e.g. cole, tene), the derivation is usually productive. But irregularities abound in this area; it’s always wise to consult the dictionary.

Compounds often show voicing assimilation (ak + büt > agbüte ‘useless’) or POA assimilation (pren + buš + oš > prembušoš ‘corkscrew’). But this may not be the case in newer coinages (imnišan ‘annhiliate’) or with less common affixes (hipdalom ‘consul’).

See also kinship terms; prepositional prefixes.

Nominalizations

Action eo ceštan > cešteo overthrow, iduran > idureo desire
ea ašir > ašea thought, zamben > zambea feigning
o žanen > žano coming
(ir >) ia lavisir > lavísia dance, salďir > salďia feeling
-tion esa celëtir > celëtesa judgment, rizuir > rizesa amusement
abstract át basom > basomát slavery, gunë > gunát armormaking, melnitát gratitude
object, act ë rihan look > rihë mirror, vulir > vulë will
result el advečaen > advečel response, nasitan carry > nasitel cargo
object griman pull > grimoš drawer, mepuyan > mepuyoš pump
diminutive ul cira > cirula wifey, cuon > cuonul doggie, sefulo little boy
(OV) ek fana stream > fanka brooklet
(Caď.) ima nier holy > nierima shrine > niëma park
augmentative áš cuon > cuonáš huge dog
(Caď.) un, on pere first > perun million, nier holy > nëron holy
collection ora curaya raason > curayora argument, log word > logora dictionary
occupation om alaďea > alaďeom musician, testasan > testasom weaver
ec ihtüan > ihtüec fisherman
-ist ilo nanilo Nanese, utuilo follower of Utu
study viso dascoviso zoology, säteviso architecture
-ologist visanom dascovisanom zoologist
area ana beom > beomana barony, mot > motana sheepfold
building náe haltnáe camp, nuva bed > nuvnáe bedroom
idiosyncracy otá caďinotá Caďinorism, tisirotá witticismn
-ocracy gués dalugués monarchy, žengués democracy
wrong mal bem head > malbema headache, lübor love > mallübor sexual immorality
disease arda Caď. Agasan poke > agasarda cholera, piza pixie > pizarda pederasty (or desire for pixies)

Adjectivizations

general ise cel between > celise mutual, lübec love > lübise romantic
ete olotë feeling > olotëte sensitive, zadi meaning > zadete meaningful
ë droë right > droëë rightful, lelesa faith > lelesë faithful
quality se brac > bracse glorious, dyuž > dyušše lustful
-phile cole aďicole godly, ličicole litigioius
full tene baltene tactful, muyotene perilous
like com- comdalue princely, comdruke amiable
without sam- samlele blind, samsrame shameless
un- řo- řofasíl difficult, řolele invisible
(Caď.) bu- buďaye wrong
bad mal- dobre good > maldobre hypocritical, mese benevolent > malmese frivolous
-able oti- otibeže movable, oticunëse trustworthy
weakening šue fálšue whitish, tardíšue a bit late

Verbalizations

from N (m >) an duav debt > duavan owe
(f >) en biyeta vote > biyeten elect
(-I >) ir fikši > fikšir whip
cause im- imagrenir persuade, imseoran purify, increšir grow
be verbed äm eliran cum live with > cumeliräm fiancé, nizener avenge > nizenäm grudge
inceptive za- začoran burst into tears, zaridir start laughing
use body part ačir leve lip > levatir kiss, pili eyelash > pilačir blink

Compounds

Preposition + verb

Many verbs are formed or modified with a prefixed preposition. Many are fairly transparent, but many have particular lexical meanings.
adžanen arrive
comšaynir resemble
celsfahen converse
iskričen exclaim
cumlelen witness
onžanen return
cumnuven sleep with
suriluvan illuminate

Two-word compounds

Some of the most common patterns are shown. (Hyphens are used to show the components; the words are not written hyphenated.)
Adjective + noun čiš-cöre weak-heart = apathetic
ďin-cota three-side = triangle=
lert-log clever-word = aphorism
tës-vuáë all-voiced = unanimous
Adjective + verb fsur-šuščan hungry-die = starve
lebe-řaner new-keep = maintain
tës-pitir all-drink = carouse
Noun + noun caln-aďom fortress-priest = chaplain
piď-nuva baby-bed = crib
sus-luoma earth-apple = potato
Noun + verb kela-dan interest-give = invest
me-puyan water-push = pump
žen-mize people-say = proverb
PP ak-ženy against-people = malicious
ir-tëse above-all = supreme
pro-letka for-coin = prostitute
Verb + noun cues-rëcen ask-meet = introduce
tem-pleran have-pleasure = enjoy
vu-läde want-go = ambitious
Miscellaneous anië prusi bar of single ones = anieprusi singles bar
ci er ce this and that = cierceyen waver
dos fasadán back to fron = dosadan retreat
eto er tot this and that = etertót argument
muďe nirto most often = muďnirto generally

Sound patterns

I must also mention onomatopeia, which has provided words for animal noises (coe ‘caw’, cucurú ‘cock-crow’, řaf ‘bark’), everyday sounds (bris ‘sound of breaking glass’, dširan ‘rip’, kluš ‘splash’, kopan ‘drip’, křumban ‘explode’), human noises (dacdacir ‘babble’, hüan ‘sigh’, řarkir ‘spit’), and even such words as fikši ‘whip’ and tompom ‘drum’.

Words such as tsisir ‘glitter’ and sfešer ‘flash’ can be seen as synaesthetic— attempts to evoke visual effects using sound. Bedorcan ‘stumble’ is explained as iconic: the tongue stumbles over the palate as a man stumbles over the ground.

Verdurian offers tantalizing evidence for the claim that front vowels, especially i represent smallness and brevity, while back vowels (especially u) represent largeness or slowness:

  • Piďa baby, licre poor, erme shallow, miy spoonful, ris grain, niš nothing, lebe new, sitre sudden, piya instant
  • Bolë big, mäzun giant, noróum vast, pote deep, bogaty rich, ďuro flagon, cucuri unit of weight, muše many, muďe more, bome old, hora hour
There are of course exceptions: pav small, macre thin, diminutive –ul, gliny long, muán least.

Gender adjustment

For surnames, names of professions, animal names, and other purposes, Verdurians sometimes wish to create the opposite-gender form of a noun. The rules for making feminine nouns:
Original ending New ending Example
-cons -a Arin > Arina
-o -e Pavleto > Pavlete
-u -i Žiradu > Žiradi
-u sbayu > sbayua
-ey -ea Belgey > Belgea
other –y -i Zanuy > Zanui
For making masculine nouns:
Original ending New ending Example
-a -a Andona (decline like masculine nouns in –a)
-e -e Azure (decline like masculine adjectives in –e)
-ë Elutë (decline like masculine adjectives in –ë)
-i -y Pavley

Diminutives and augmentatives

As English speakers are not used to diminutives, it’s worth going over their several meanings.
  • To refer to something small: činule small plate, atunul small room
  • To refer to something young: voyakul new/young soldier, venul fawn
  • To express affection: Ihanulo Johnnie, mecula dear daughter
  • To express disdain: uestulu little man, aldeula two-horse town
Of course, some words, like sefulo (< sefo ‘boy’) may be used in all four ways, sometimes all at the same time. Not infrequently, a diminutive acquires a lexicalized meaning— avulo great-uncle, roful groove, prosúlia lane, egula needle. The dictionary includes many words that fossilize the OV diminutive –ok/ka (grakok pea, milka sausage, druk friend) or the Caďinor diminutive ima (calima knuckle, curka hen, yonka bread roll, treka turtle).

In not-quite-parallel, the augmentative can be used

  • For something large: arbáš big tree, uestóš tall or fat man
  • For something important or respectable: bortáš major gang, agumáša huge problem
  • To express a jocular familiarity: Ihanášo, pirášo
  • To express ironic disdain: cilóš copper, dobráše goody-goody
And augmentatives too are lexicalized: Iliacáš ‘larger moon’, oraž ‘storm’; using the Caďinor -ond, nëron holy, ftoron billion, pavona wagon, cumuna town, davonu whale.

You can combine both suffixes to express a sort of exasperated affection. If your mother calls you Ihanulášo, you don’t know if you’re getting a hug or a slap, but probably the latter. Calling someone a seruláš ‘little big man’ is however a clear insult— it suggests someone who’s ‘too big for their britches’ or ‘playing out of their league’.

See also the Names page for the alternative suffixes used with names.

Parts of speech: User manual

This section goes through the various parts of speech and tells how each is used.

However, things involving multiple clauses live in the Constructions chapter.

The verbal system

Time

There are four realis tenses, as opposed to the single irrealis paradigm, the conditional.

Past, present, and future are used quite strictly according to time.

So dalu levatre soa elrea.
the king kiss-past.3s the-f queen-acc
The king kissed the queen.
E prokio tenom sazem.
be-3s why have-1p prince-p.acc
That is why we have princes and princesses.
Lädmai Deštain er ronmai soi šoom.
go-fut.1s Deštai-dat and check-fut.1s the-p.acc cabbage-p.acc
I will go to Deštai and check out the cabbages.
The past anterior is only used in contrast with the past, to refer to events well previous to the current moment of the narrative.
Ašru so cairam kiam pišneram činem taë.
think-past.1s time-acc when smash-past.ant.1p plate-p.acc we-gen
I thought of the time when we had smashed our plates.
Sen cuesnai kiel so sätevisano ftennere so cebrel.
I-dat ask-past.1s how the architect plan-past.ant.3s the building
I wondered how the architect had designed the buidldng.
As the translation suggests, this often corresponds to our past perfect. However, the past anterior is more freely used in Verdurian. A flashback, for instance, might be entirely written using it.

As the future tense is compact and inflected, it’s used much more consistently than in English. If the event happens in the future, use the future, even if English slips into the present:

Zaftra lädmai.
tomorrow go-fut.1s
I go tomorrow.
Tróumei so řuk apros pasreteu soa silva.
Find-fut.2s the castle after pass-fut.2s the woods
You will find the castle after you pass the woods.
There’s one usage of the past tense which is technically past, but pragmatically a weakening. If you want something, you should normally say Vulu dy… “I want…”. But that may come off as too brash, so you say:
Vulru len cuesan, vulreu et cumlädan caunáen?
Want-past-1s you.s-dat ask-inf / want-past-2s I-acc accompany-inf coffeehouse-dat
I wanted to ask you, did you want to go get some coffee with me?

Aspect

The realis tenses are unmarked for aspect. That is, technically prosnai could mean any of I walked, I was walking, I finished walking, I used to walk. More accurately, we could say that the simple past implicates but does not imply that the action was completed.

For more precision, these aspect adverbs are used before the verb:

dénuo habitual
siča progressive
ya, yatá completive
núnece nearness to present
za- inceptive
Dénuo (habitual)
Dénuo emphasizes that the action is habitual, continual, or repetitive.
Crežnai dénuo ne Coronan.
eat-past.1s habitual at Corona-dat
I always ate at the Corona.
Žai dénuo šriftanáen sam ivroin esë.
come-1s habitual university-dat without book-p.dat I-gen
I keep coming to the university without my books.
If a word already implies a habit— e.g. fsëgda ‘always’, nirto ‘often’, ceďnarî ‘on Ceďnares’— you don’t need to add dénuo too:
Apros Abend fäsrete soa Corona, fsëgda crežnai ne Curulen.
after Abend leave-past.ant.3s the-f Corona / always eat-past.1s at Star-dat
After Abend left the Corona, I always ate at the Curulë.
Siča (progressive)
Siča, like the English or Spanish progressive, or like Russian perfective verbs, emphasizes the ongoing or durative nature of the action. It normally does not imply completion.
Siča ivricao pro peran dënán.
prog read-past.1s for whole-m.dat day-dat
I read all day long.
It’s often used to mention what someone was doing when something else happened:
Siča läznai Deštain, kiam rësnai uestum cum hep ciren.
prog go-past-1s Deštai-dat / when meet-past-1s man-acc with seven wife-p.dat
I was going to Deštai, when I met a man with seven wives.
Zaesmai sam sënzan esmai ďuna horî; kaimei siča?
incep-be-fut-1s without affair-dat be-fut-3s two hour-p / do.what-fut-2s prog
I’ll be free at two o’clock; what will you be doing then?
As little can really be accomplished in the present moment, the simple present usually implies imperfectivity, and thus siča is redundant. But it can be used to emphasize that the action is not done:
Řo voiteceo, siča crežnai elčena!
no enter-inf-2s / prog eat-1s lunch-acc
Don’t come in; I’m in the middle of eating lunch!
Núnece (closeness to present)
Núnece places the action very close to nun, now. With the past it means just; with the future it means about to.
Brisru núnece čína mire sen… fäsu Ahuenain.
break-past-1s now-ly plate-acc mother-dat I-gen / leave-1s Xurno-dat
I just broke a plate of my mother’s… I’m leaving for Xurno.
Núnece ivricao dernä cëmura.
now-ly read-past-1s last-f-acc page-acc
I just read the last page.
Lädmam núnece tróuan lesteam— vulei cumlädan?
Go-fut-1p now-ly find-inf restaurant-acc / want-2s accompany
We’re about to go look for a restaurant. Want to come with?
With the present, the emphasis is on the action happening (perhaps contrary to expectation). It can be translated right now or right this minute.
Lädam núnece!
Go-1p now-ly
We’re going right this minute!
Ya, yatá (completive)
Both of these adverbs, like the Russian perfective verbs or the Chinese particle le, emphasize that an action is completed.
Ya ívricao <So tombam Abolineronië>.
compl read-past-1s the fall-acc Abolineron-pl.gen
I’ve read “The Fall of the Abolinerons”.
Kiam ya lavisram, crežnam.
when compl dance-past-1p / eat-past-1p
When we were done dancing, we ate.
Ya elirtao dobrem elir.
compl live-fut-1s good-acc life-acc
I will have lived a good life.
The difference between ivricao and ya ivricao is subtle and pragmatic. The bare verb, as mentioned, implicates completion, but ya specifies it. The intention may be to stress that the action was done, or that it was done at least once. Or it may have a perfect meaning— that is, it implies that the finishing has present relevance. If I’ve read the book, for instance, that can be taken to mean I don’t care about spoilers, or I’m ready for the test, or I can’t be made to read it again.

Yatá can usually be translated already. With just one verb, it emphasizes that the action is done:

Yatá immezinnai atún esë.
already clean-past-1s room-acc I-gen
I already cleaned my room.
With two verbs, it marks one action well prior to the last. As such it’s an alternative to the past anterior.
Kiam adžannei, crežneram.
when come-past-2s / eat-past.ant-1p

Kiam adžannei, yatá crežnam.
when come-past-2s / already eat-pas -1p
When you arrived, we had already eaten.

Ya is more emphatic and contrastive— “You may think it wasn’t done, but it was.”
Ya immezinnai atún esë.
compl clean-past-1s room-acc I-gen
I DID clean my room!
Ya has the meaning ‘indeed’, and always bears this meaning if it’s not directly before the verb, or with stative verbs in the present:
So dën fue ya šoruan.
the day be.past-3s indeed dark
The day was indeed dark.
Susana ya lü frälinem.
Susana indeed love-3s maiden-p.acc
Susana really loves girls.
With actions that can be completed (but aren’t), ya in the present implies the subject’s strong intent to finish.
Ihano ya lave soem činem.
Ihano indeed wash-3s the-f.p.acc dish-p.acc
Ihano is washing the dishes (and will finish).
Ya ivrao ci-proklul ivram.
Indeed read-1s that-cursed-acc book-acc
I’m reading that cursed book (to the bitter end).
In the past (or future) tense, with stative verbs, ya/yatá imply that the process ended. The meaning is the same as řo…nun.
So dën ya fue šoruan.
the day compl be.past-3s dark
So dën řo fue nun šoruan.
the day no be.past-3s now dark
The day was no longer dark.
Za (inceptive)
The prefix za refers to the beginning of an action, or its early stages:
Mira začorne, ac piro zaridre.
mother incep-cry-past-3s / but father incep-laugh-past-3s
Mother burst into tears, but Father burst out laughing.
Zavisanu ne šriftanáen I Verdúria.
incep-study-1s at university-dat of Verduria
I’ve just started studying at the University of Verduria.
With stative verbs, the focus is on the moment the state came to be:
Ihano zašrifce, dy cira zië fue řocepelë.
Ihano incep-know-past-1s / sub wife refl-gen be.past-3s unfaithful-f
Ihano learned (now knew) that his wife was unfaithful.
Verdurian grammarians like to claim that za is the equivalent of the Caďinor dynamic tenses. Some such usages are fairly transparent: šadan ride > zašadan mount; tenec have > zatenec obtain. Other are baffling— lädan go > zalädan go quickly, crešir grow > zacrešir mature— until you compare them to the Caďinor dictionary. Fortunately these pedantic uses are rare.

The conditional

The conditional is Verdurian’s sole irrealis tense. It is used for unreal or hoped-for situations. Its primary use, in if statements, will be discussed in the Constructions chapter. Here I’ll discuss how it’s used in single-verb statements.

The simplest use is the expression of a wish using the particle ut:

Ut Ënomai ešele azurë!
wish Ënomai be-cond-3s blue-f
If only the sun were blue!
Ut expressions resist most transformations— they can’t be questioned, for instance, and you can’t add a consequent. About the only thing you can do is subordinate them. This is vivid and suggests that you are reproducing someone’s actual words or thoughts.
So imfát miže, dy ut Ënomai ešele azurë.
the child say-past-3s / sub wish Ënomai be-cond-3s blue-f
The child said, if only the sun were blue!
Drukî lië ilan mižu ut fäšele so čuč.
friend-p she-gen she-dat say-past-3s wish leave-cond-3s the-m.acc bastard-acc
Her friends told her to dump the bastard.
An ordinary wish is expressed using the realis tenses— usually the future, since the hoped-for event hasn’t occurred yet. (This can be taken as a survival from Caďinor, since the Verdurian future derives from the remote tenses, which were simply a generalized irrealis.)
Vulu dy fäsrete.
want-1s sub leave-fut-3s
I wish he’d leave.
However, the conditional can be used with wishes or beliefs if the point being made is their unlikelihood.
Ci-nižezom zure dy ēsele sazë.
this-chimney-man wish-3s sub be-cond-3s prince
This chimney sweep wishes he was a prince!
Řede dy soî urazoi ešelu anokulî zië!
believe-3s sub the-m.pl bird-pl be-cond-3p ancestor-pl refl-gen
He believes that he birds are his ancestors!
In English, we use the conditional for (possibly hypothetical) past events later than the narrative moment. Verdurian uses the future in such cases:
Ametne tranoš zië; aprostece iler silorme.
bring-past-3s knife-acc refl-gen / later it-acc need-fut-3s
He took his knife— he would need it later.
Be careful with sentences where English still uses its rapidly vanishing subjunctive. E.g. compare these possible translations of It will be necessary that the dancer be gay.
Fayrete dy so firitom esme deníe.
necessary-fut-es sub the dancer be-fut-3s gay

Fayrete dy so firitom ešele deníe.
… be-cond-3s gay

Both are possible, but the conditional doesn’t have the same meaning as in English. Here it means that it’s exceedingly unlikely that this requirement can be met. If the condition is reasonable, the version with esme should be used.

Infinitive

The infinitive can be seen as a nominalization— or a half-nominalization, since it can be used as a noun but can’t be inflected as one.

It can be used as such, where we would generally use a gerund or an abstract noun. As such, though it is not declined, it takes singular verbs and masculine adjectives:

Lelen e ředec.
see-inf be-3s believe-inf
Seeing is believing.
Šrifec e dobre.
know-inf be-3s good-m
Knowledge is good.
It retains the ability to have objects and adverbials.
Epan lelen soi elcari esme řoeššane.
can-inf see-inf the-m.p.acc elcar-p.acc be-fut-3s impossible
To be able to see the elcari will be impossible.
Naturally, it can be used as the object of a verb. Note that Verdurian has no auxiliary verbs; verbs like ‘can’ or ‘must’ are ordinary verbs which take an infinite object.
Epai nuotan.
can-1s swim-inf
I can swim.
Silorai šrifec soa oresta.
need-1s know-inf the-f truth-acc
I need to know the truth.
Žanmu tam pasetir.
come-fut-3p we-acc visit-inf
They’re coming to visit us.
In English we can’t say things like “I am musting” or “you will should”, but these are fine in Verdurian: siča devu..., ladmei...
Vulu epan lelen.
want-2s can-inf see-inf
I want to be able to see.

Where we would or could say “in order to”, the preposition pro should be used:

Uvru yem esë pro lelen.
open-past-1s eye-pl.acc I-gen for see-inf
I opened my eyes [in order] to see.
Where we would introduce a sentence with a participial phrase, Verdurian uses še with the infinitive. This is an extension of the use of še with nouns, e.g. še dalu ‘being king’.
Še lelen so ilneam, so brigom pavece ridre.
as see-inf the-m.acc bishop-acc / the bandit small-ly smile-past-3s
Seeing the bishop, the hoodlum smiled slightly.
Note that this expression can be backed, especially if short. In writing, make sure you place a comma (kešaš) before it.
So brigom cuesne řolerežem tyurmul zië, še ridir.
the bandit ask-past-3s unhappy-m.s.acc prisoner-acc refl-gen / as laugh
The hoodlum interrogated his unhappy prisoner, laughing.
Though the object of a sentence can have its own še clause, this should not be fronted (nor preceded with a comma):
So brigom cuesne ilneam še friser.
the bandit ask-past-3s bishop-acc as shake
The hoodlum interrogated the shivering bishop.

Participles

Past and present
The past and present participles are used and declined like any other adjective.
Mira rasfolžeca řo fäse meď imočul.
mother care-pres.part-f no leave-3s son-acc abandon-past.part-m.acc
A loving mother does not abandon a strayed son.
Participles cannot take objects, subjects, or adverbials. Participles are not used to form extended verbal forms, as in English:
  • The present participle cannot be used as a progressive; use siča instead.
  • The past participle cannot be used to form a perfect or passive. For the perfect, use ya; for the passive, see the Valence section.
  • While we’re at it, they can’t be used as a gerundive (“I like walking”); use the infinitive.
This may be confusing, as you will see sentences like this:
Ai hežec.
be-1s guard-pres.part
I’m watchful.
Yes, you can translate hežec as ‘watching’, but this is a description of myself, not an action I’m performing. Think of it as short for Ai hežec ctel “I’m a watchful person.” If you want an action “I’m watching”, use Siča hežai.
One who does
The present particle, used as a substantive, is also the “one who does” nominalization. Those in –ec decline as masculine nouns, and those in –ë as feminine ones, no matter what the sex of the referent is:
Ilu e telna brigë er ila e lerte curayec.
he-nom be-3s fine-f fight-pres.part and she-nom be-3s clever-m think-pres.part
He is a fine fighter and she is a clever thinker.
Names of professions normally don’t change gender… but some do; see the dictionary.
Gerund
The gerund can be considered a future participle. Thus leläm means ‘(that which is) to be seen.’
Kio fue ontäm.
what be.past-3s show-gerund
Q.E.D.
Šrifcom dy so řulo fue kekäm.
know-past-1p sub the clown be.past-3s kill-gerund
We knew that the clown was to be killed.
The gerund of an intransitive verb is used with an active meaning. (If it helps, its morphosemantic role is thus ergative. If it doesn’t, forget I said anything.)
Caisar, ta núnece šuščämî len ontu lon.
Caesar / we now-ly die-gerund you.s-dat show-1p honor-acc
Caesar, we who are about to die salute you.
Mižu, dy esäm ešele, ac řo fue.
say-past-3p / sub be-gerund be-cond-3s / but no be.past-3s
They said that what would be would be, but it wasn’t.
Like the other participles, it cannot take a direct object— but it can take an indirect one.
Sen miže so cues cuesäm osänán sen.
I-dat say-past-3s the question-acc ask-gerund-acc master-dat I-dat
He told me the question to be asked of my master.

Reflexives

Reflexives are verbs where the subject acts upon themselves. In English we use special pronoun forms with added -self. Verdurian uses the ordinary pronouns in 1st and 2nd person, but a special reflexive pronoun ze/za is used in the third person.
1s et lavai I wash myself
2s eř lavei you wash yourself
3s zet lave he washes himself / she washes herself
1p tam lavam we wash ourselves
2p mü lavo you wash yourselves
3p zam lavu they wash themselves
In English, verbs of personal grooming often omit the object (“I washed and shaved”). Don’t omit the reflexive in Verdurian: et lavnai er et razru.

Indirect objects work the same way, but using the dative:

1s sen mizao I talk to myself
2s len mizeo you talk to yourself
3s zen mis he speaks to himself / she speaks to herself
1p tan mizom we speak to ourselves
2p mun mizo you speak to yourselves
3p zan mizu they speak to themselves
in the plural, the reflexive is also used for mutual actions. E.g. mü lavo can also be “you wash each other”.
Ä ar, mira, tam lübom!
oh yes / mother / we-acc love-1p
Oh yes, mother, we love each other!
When using the infinitive as a substantive, use zet or zen:
Zen ředec faye so kensomán.
refl-dat believe necessary-3s the-dat trickster-dat
To believe himself is necessary for the con man.
The reflexive is also used, as in Spanish and French, to reduce valence; this is discussed below.

Though any transitive verb can be used reflexively, some verbs take on a particular lexical meaning. Such cases are listed in the dictionary. Some examples:

denomen dismiss zet denomen resign
feyen pity zet feyen complain
imbasulen lower zet imbasulen crouch
meyan water zet meyan indulge oneself
metan place zet metan meddle
tróuen find zet tróuen be situated
zendan signal zet zendan express oneself
<Golios> zet celmete ufëa.
(golios) refl-acc translate-3s face
‘Golios’ means ‘face’.
Sazë, eř duisireu cum melašten com dalun, řo com dobun.
prince / you.s-acc behave-inf-2s with noble-p.acc like king-dat / not like pal-dat
Prince, behave among nobles like a king, not like an old friend.

Valence

Valence is the number of arguments of a verb. There are three lexical levels in Verdurian:
  • No arguments— impersonal verbs. In English these require a dummy subject ‘it’, but in Verdurian the verb can be used alone. The 3s endings are used.
    Benfeye, ac zaftra pluyrete.
    pleasant-3s / but tomorrow rain-fut-3s
    It’s nice out, but tomorrow it will rain.
    Faye zet abilen dör domán.
    necessary-3s refl-acc clothe outside house-dat
    It’s necessary to wear clothes in public.
  • One argument— intransitive.
  • Two arguments— transitive.
These are marked v impers, vi, vt in the dictionary.

In addition, transitives and intransitives are subdivided. Intransitives are marked either vi Ag Agentive (or active), or vi Pt Patientive (or stative), according to the semantic role of the subject. There is at least one syntactic aspect of this behavior: Že-clefting can’t be used with Patientive verbs.

Quite a few verbs are marked vt ø. This means that the object is optional; to put it another way, that the verb can be used intransitively with no change in the semantic role of the subject. E.g.

So šaden dečipline šual lië ditavul, Nižžue.
the knight dismount-past-3s horse-acc 3s-gen favorite-m.acc / smoky
The knight dismounted from his favorite horse Smoky.

So šaden dečipline.
The knight dismounted.

A verb marked just vt requires an object: *So lekaro onživne “*The doctor cured” is illegal.

Finally, vt/vi Pt means that a verb can be used either intransitively or transitively. With these verbs, the semantic role of the subject varies with the valence. E.g. with brisir ‘break’, the subject is the Agent if it’s used transitively, Patient if it’s used intransitively.

So imumbrom brisre so aknám.
the burglar break-past-3s the window-acc
The burglar broke the window.
So aknó brisre.
The window-nom break-past-3s
The window broke.
Reducing valence
Often we aren’t interested in the Agent— we want to reduce a transitive verb to intransitive, focusing in the Patient. In English we usually do this with the Passive, but this is not available in Verdurian.

If you want to omit the Agent entirely, the easy solution is to use the reflexive, as in French or Spanish:

Žusretu zaftra ši-dafrom taë.
sell-fut-1s tomorrow all-furniture-p.acc we-gen
I’m selling all our furniture tomorrow.
Dafroi zam žusu zdesy.
furniture-p.nom refl-p.acc sell-3p here
Furniture is sold here.
There is no actual reflexive meaning here— no one takes this as meaning that the furniture is anthropomorphically selling itself. This isn’t to say that an author can’t pun on the reflexive meaning:
—Zet tróunai im šriftanáen. —Eř iššelceo?
I-acc find-past-1s in university-dat / you.s-acc lose-past-2s
“I was located at the university.” “Were you lost?”
The above dialog makes use of the literal meaning of zet tróuen, ‘find oneself’.

You can also simply use OVS order:

Rahelin done soa žorta Ihano.
Raheli-dat give.past-3s the-f.acc flower-acc Ihano
Raheli was given the flower by Ihano.
Soa žorta done Ihano Rahelin.
The flower was given by Ihano to Raheli.
If the nom and acc are identical, as they often are, a pronoun should be inserted to clarify:
Susana ilat levatre Abend.
Susana-acc she-acc kiss-past-3s Abend-nom
Susana was kissed by Abend.
The impersonal pronoun tu can also replace the Agent. This is similar to generalized uses of “they”, “one”, “you”, or “people” in English, but is perfectly simple and colloquial.
Tu zam žuse dafrom zdesy.
impers refl-p.acc sell-3s furniture-p.acc here
They sell furniture here.
Another option is simply to leave out the subject. The object can be fronted, though this is avoided if the accusative is not distinctive.
Kekne so múrtanim.
kill-past-3s the-acc múrtany-acc
The múrtany was killed.
So múrtanim kekne.
The múrtany was killed.
This is completely ordinary if the Agent was referred to previously— 3rd person pronouns are not required in Verdurian. It has a literary or bureaucratic air when the Agent has never been referred to.
Increasing valence
The usual way to add an argument is to use the causative verb šesan. Schematically:
S-nom V-endg O-acc → causer-nom šes-endg V-inf O-acc S-dat
Raheli šesne šantan šant Ihanon.
Raheli-nom cause-past-3s sing-inf song-acc Ihano-dat
Raheli made Ihano sing a song.
Mima, ilun šes’nei dešen et baďir!
Mommy / he-dat cause-inf-2s quit I-acc hit-inf
Mommy, make him stop hitting me!
Some other verbs follow the same construction, notably mifan ‘let’, befelan ‘order’, isletuen ‘forbid’. With intransitive verbs, šesan in effect creates a transitive:
Bengi meî šesu dešen soán tšurán, ac so tšur šese cipan soan cüen.
most-p water-p cause-3p cease the-dat fire-dat / but the fire cause-3s burn-inf the-f.dat oil-dat
Most liquids put fires out, but fire makes oil burn.
The prefix im creates a derived causative, which is simply treated as a transitive verb: e.g. lelen ‘see’ > imlelen ‘show’. (This prefix can be broadly applied to adjectives, but not to verbs if they’re not already in the lexicon. E.g. don’t invent a verb *imkekan ‘cause to kill’.)
Pitfalls
The dictionary indicates valence, and it’s always wise to check it, in case a verb doesn’t work like English. Things to watch out for:
  • Verbs where the intransitive requires a reflexive pronoun: zet colir ‘gather’, zet imšoruan ‘darken’, zet noyer ‘drown’, zet uvir ‘open’
  • Verbs which take a dative where we use the accusative: marian ‘marry’, cumoteran ‘understand (people)’, dobrefassec ‘benefit’, ďiloran ‘forgive (a person)’, raconter ‘tell (someone)’, ředec ‘believe in’
  • Verbs which require a preposition in English, but not Verdurian: e.g. rihan ‘look at’, prezuir ‘pass by’, agolec ‘deal with’, išan ‘search for’, fsorer ‘go out with’, rašir ‘have sex with’
  • If the verb is not marked vt/vi or vt ø, it can’t be used both transitively and intransitvely. If it’s vt, use zet to form the intranstive; if it’s vi, use šesan to form a transitive.

Ditransitives

Grammatically, a ditransitive is a verb with two objects; the classic case is verbs of giving.

In Verdurian, these are simply transitive verbs with an additional dative argument:

Mira zen done soán meďán milka er carďä.
Mother refl-dat gave.past-3s the-m.acc son-acc sausage-acc and sword-acc
His mother gave the boy a sausage and a sword.
A curious case is verbs of naming. Perhaps because it’s so important to know the form of the nominative to properly decline a noun, the name is given in the nominative:
Et nomai Raheli.
I-acc name-1s Raheli
My name is Raheli.
Soî caďinî nomnu curulä taë Ënomai.
the-p Caďinorian-p name-past-3p star-acc we-gen Ënomai
The Caďinorians named our star Ënomai.
In English, verbs of appointment are ditransitive, but these use the preposition še in Verdurian:
So dalu lunurne so nižezom še belgosannon.
the king appoint-past-3s the-m.acc sweep-man-acc as general-dat
The king appointed the chimney sweep general.
The verb marian ‘marry’ is ditransitive; you only get the full argument structure when the officiant marries one person (acc.) to another (dat.). One person is married to (dat.) another.
So cliďu marine Rahela Ihanon.
the priest marry-past-3s Raheli-acc Ihano-dat
The priest married Raheli to Ihano.

Raheli marine Ihanon.
Raheli marry-past-3s Ihano-dat
Raheli married Ihano.

All about nouns

I will say little about the basic case usage:
Nominative — subject of sentence
Accusative — direct object
Dative — indirect object
Genitive — possession
So elcar done nëron katim soin probesomin Tomaei.
the elcar give.past-3s holy-acc chamberpot-acc the-m.p.dat follower-p.dat Tomao-gen
The elcar gave the holy chamberpot to the followers of Tomao.
However, there are plenty of complications and other uses to talk about.

Nominative

The nominative is used for the subject of a sentence, and for vocatives.
Soa gurë ašre soi loži anëlii. Mižere, <Gurë, ašireu ci-loži.>
the-f lion consider-past-3s word-p.acc angel-gen / say-past.ant-3s / lion-nom / think-inf-2s this-word-p.acc
The lion considered the words of the angel. It had said, “Lion, consider these words.”
It’s also used for predicatives— the NP following esan ‘be’, adesan ‘become’, ocan ‘become’, paretir ‘seem’, silirec ‘tend to be’, šaynir ‘appear’, and vauter ‘be worth’.
Ci-urs e dobre urs.
this-bear is good-m.nom bear-nom
This bear is a good bear.
Paretre lebe uestu, ac řo vautre sul so bome.
seem-past-3s new-m.nom man-nom / but no be.worth-past-3s only the-m.nom old-m.nom
He seemed like a new man, but he was worth only as much as the old.
Esce graženka Conta mun vaute tvedec ořulî?
Q honorific-f count-f you.pl-dat worth-3s thirty gold.coin-p.acc
Is Madam the Countess worth 30 gold pieces to you?
In Caďinor, the verb nomen ‘name’ took two accusatives. This became awkward in OV, when accusatives did not always give the correct declension class. Therefore the name was given in the nominative, the namee remaining in the accusative.
Et nomnai vremya Ihano, ac siča et nomai Šual-imutorec.
I-acc name-past-3s then Ihano / but now I-acc name-3s horse-tame-pres.part
At that time I called myself Ihano, but now I am called Tamer-of-Horses.
For similar reasons, the nominative is used after the prepositions eta ‘about’ and i ‘of’: eta Aď ‘about God’; Šriftanáe i Verdúria ‘University of Verduria’.

Finally note that the preposition še can be used with either dative or nominative, with different meanings. Compare:

Še dalun e mudray.
as king-dat be-3s wise
As kings go, he’s wise.

Še dalu, eř imřisai.
being king-nom / you.s-acc liberate-1s
Being the king, I free you.

In both cases the role is given, but with the nominative it’s being asserted as pragmatically relevant— because someone is in this role, something follows, or an imperative or performative may be given. (Also, you can use še dalun for a hypothetical, but še dalu only if the subject of the sentence is in fact king.)

Accusative

The accusative is used for direct objects.
Řo creženo soi činziki.
no eat-inf-2p the-m.p.acc gooseberry-p.acc
Don’t eat the gooseberries.
Where we have a verb plus a prepositional phrase, Verdurian often has a transitive verb taking the accusative. Check the dictionary for case usage.
Ředao Aď.
believe-1s god-acc
I believe in God.
Lemano ce-ranem!
remove-inf-2s that-frog-p.acc
Get rid of those frogs!
Esce Šm Čurmey malmiže so Dalum?
Q honorific-m Čurmey ill-speak-past-3s the-m.acc king-acc
Did Mr. Čurmey speak ill of the King?
The accusative is used after all locative prepositions when describing a motion rather than a location; see Prepositions.

Dative

The dative is used for indirect objects. A rough guide to identifying these beasts: in English they can either be preceded by to or for, but can also appear without these prepositions if they come before the direct object. The dative normally follows the accusative.
Lübor miže <ar> soan frälinan.
love say-past-3s yes the-f.dat maiden-dat
Love said yes to the girl.
So imlelel fue abbosát viminen.
the concert be.past-3s success-acc Viminian-dat
The concert was a success for the Viminian.
Beom mife kesuä lië čilán ruromán.
baron allow-3s land-acc 3s-gen each-dat peasant-dat
The baron allows each peasant his own land.
Case usage doesn’t always match English, however. As always, the dictionary will give case usage. Note the cases in these sentences:
So cliďu marine Akula Prišan.
the priest marry-past-3s Akula-acc Priša-dat
The priest married Akula to Priša.
Akula marine Prišan.
Akula-nom marry-past-3s Priša-dat
Akula married Priša.
Raheli ďilorne mesožä lië Ihanon.
Raheli forgive-past-3s lie-acc 3s-gen Ihano-dat
Raheli forgave Ihano for his lie.
Raheli ďilorne Ihanon.
Raheli forgive-past-3s Ihano-dat
Raheli forgave Ihano.
The dative is used after most prepositions; see Prepositions.

In a nominalized phrase, the dative represents the direct object: lübor Mihelei Veačin, Mihel’s love for Veači.

A destination may be given by the dative alone, or by ad plus dative:

Žanam (ad) Deštain, ac řo vežaam.
come-1p (to) Deštai / but no run-1p
We’re coming to Deštai, but we’re not running.
Esli piro mižele řo, lädanei miran.
If father say-cond-3s no / go-inf-2s mother-dat
If father says no, go to mother.
With time expressions, the dative alone represents placement in time: utron ‘in the morning’.
The dative of relation
It’s considered quite improper to use the genitive for elders or persons of higher rank. E.g. osan esë ‘my master’ seems to be a claim that one owns the master. Instead you use the dative: osän sen, literally ‘a master to me’. Compare Aď len ‘your God’, piro ilun ‘his father’.

With persons of equal rank, or the same generation within a family, one can use either the genitive or dative. The latter sounds more formal. That is, you’d actually call your brother baraďu esë, but (say) in a legal document you might call your elder brother baraďu sen.

This can cause ambiguities in subject position:

Osän sen proetce dy fue oresta.
master I-dat sweat-past-3s sub be.past-3s truth
My master swore that it was true.
OR A master swore to me that it was true.
Context will normally handle any problems. (In speech, you'd group osän sen together in the first meaning, sen proetce in the second.)

Genitive

The genitive is used to express simple possession. It’s normally placed after the noun. It can also appear in predicate position.
So elcar deprenne uverä anëlii.
the elcar remove-past-3s clothes-acc angel-gen
The elcar took off the angel’s clothes.
Pyeru, ac ci-katy e soei Dalui.
regret-1s / but this-chamberpot be-3s the-m.gen kin-gen
I’m sorry, but this chamberpot is the King’s.
You don’t use the genitive (nor articles) with one’s own body parts.
So belgom lavne cruri er nagem.
the warrior wash-past-3s leg-p.acc and foot-p.acc
The warrior washed his legs and feet.
So belgom lavne cruri er nagem soei imfátei.
the warrior wash-past-3s leg-p.acc and foot-p.acc the-m.gen child-gen
The warrior washed the child’s legs and feet.
As noted above, you don’t use the genitive, but the dative, with elders and persons of higher rank. So you say snugá esë ‘my servant’, meď lë ‘your child’, baraďu lië ‘his/her brother’, but osän sen ‘my master’, Aď tan ‘our God’.

However, organizations, regions, and abstractions, however lofty, take the genitive: neron esë ‘my guild’, pironáe taë ‘our fatherland’.

An extension of the normal genitive is the patronymic: Ihano Ihanei, “Ihano (son) of Ihano”.

In nominalized phrases, the genitive represents the original subject: lübor Mihelei Veačin, Mihel’s love for Veači.

Partitive
The genitive is also used to express composition— what something is made of: celzer sürei ‘cheese sandwich’, šalea tšurei ‘air of fire’ = ‘hydrogen’.

It’s also used as a partitive, where we would use ‘some’ or ‘any’. This usage is parallel to French expressions with de.

Řo vulu lemei. Vulu šerëi.
no want-1s milk-gen / want-1s beer-gen
I don’t want any milk. I want some beer.
So nëron prese cairei lë.
the holy ask.for-3s time-gen you.s-gen
The holy man is asking for some of your time.
The genitive is optional following a quantifier, but the meaning changes subtly.
So elcar pitre mušem ďulem.
the elcar drink-past-3s many-f.p.acc beer-p.acc
The elcar drank many beers.
So elcar pitre mušem ďulië
… many-m.s.acc beer-p.gen
The elcar drank many of the beers.
The first sentence is straightforward, and focuses on the raw numbers: many glasses were consumed. The second focuses on the beer: a large fraction of the total available was consumed.

Morphologically, in the second sentence muše ‘many’ is treated as a noun. (Or, if you like, it’s singular, because it’s no longer modifying ‘beer’. Rather, ‘of the beers’ is modifying it.)

A related use is to show membership: the genitive is used to refer to the group something belongs to.

Ďanël e uestu testasomië.
Ďanël be-3s man weaver-p.gen
Ďanël is a man of the Weavers.
Ana šantecië ftuže orel. Ila islelene.
one-f singer-p.gen offend-3s ear-acc / she vanish-inf-3s
One of the singers offends my ear. Make her disappear.
With locations
As the dative alone can indicate direction, the genitive alone indicates movement away, optionally preceded with de:
So bulondom žane (de) Deštaë.
the baker come-3s (from) Deštai-gen
The baker comes from Deštai.
So ailuro tombru mette.
the cat fall-past-3s table-gen
The cat fell off the table.
As an extension, the genitive forms a modifier giving the source or birthplace:
Ai caizure.
Be-1s Caizura-gen
I am Caizuran.

Soî pomodorî ruruldanei fsëgdá močü.
the-p tomato-p Ruruldan-gen always rot-3p
Tomatoes from Ruruldan always rot.

Kio e muďe čačë dy šual viminë? Šual šuščat.
what be-3s more slow-m than horse Viminia-gen / horse dead-m
What’s slower than a Viminian horse? A dead horse.
Such genitives can be turned into substantives. Morphologically, they are simply reinterpreted as the s.nom of a noun and declined normally; note that they will always be feminine.
Soa pelymei rësne soa caizura im domán soe vyateë.
the-f Pelymian-nom meet-past-3s the-f.acc Caizuran-acc in house-dat the-f.gen Vyatese-gen
The Pelymian met the Caizuran in the house of the Vyatese.
However, there are also distinctive adjectives of nationality, e.g. verdúry, caďin, ahuerne, kebrén. These are used in preference to the genitives.

NP order

The normal order of items within a noun phrase:
Determiner
Single adjective
Noun
Multiple adjectives
Genitive
Prepositional phrases
For “determiners” see below; the major instances are the article so, and quantifiers.
lübor love
so hutorom the farmer
dobre alaďeom a good musician
mušî telnî luomî many fine apples
sfutece kekec malát a quickly killing illness
nrüskece taye dalu taë our foolishly brave king
arb dobre er verde a good green tree
soî čeltî eromî ne dverán the evil southerners at the door
As indicated, a single adjective usually precedes the noun, while multiple ones follow it. This rule is often broken, however. A postposed adjective has something of the feeling of a nonrestrictive clause or an afterthought.
Žanme redelcë hautë ne dverán.
come-past-3s woman tall-f at door-dat
There came a woman, tall, at the door.
Multiple adjectives may be placed before the noun if they fit together well: beluana suletë redelcë ‘a beautiful young woman’ works; daluesa fsura redelcë ‘a jovial, hungry woman’ is awkward. A single-word genitive is likely to move before any adjectives, and occasionally before the noun:
Cira eyurë er nasitsë drukei esë
wife lovely-f and pregnant-f friend-gen I-gen
My friend’s lovely and pregnant wife
→ Cira lië eyurë er nasitsë
His lovely and pregnant wife

→ Lië cira eyurë er nasitsë

Nouns on nouns

Generally nouns can’t modify other nouns directly. Instead, try one of these methods:
  • Use an adjective: alaďete fako ‘musical box’
  • Use a preposition: fako and alaďdean ‘box for music’
  • Use the genitive: imbemát imfátië ‘education of children’
  • Create a compound: hutorsnugá ‘farmhand’
The one exception is that a name may be followed by a name or title:
Evar šoh Pelymei Evar, duke of Pelym
druk esë Ihano my friend Ihano
šerë Corona Corona Beer
prosia Hovard Hovard street
so ivro <Pomäe Nícolei> the book “The story of Nícolo”
šual esë Rose my horse Red

Gender mismatches

Verdurians are used to the arbitrariness of gender, and have no problems with feminines like sazë ‘prince’, gurë ‘lion’, řořa ‘minstrel’, opfë ‘victim’, caizure ‘Caizuran’ applying to males, or lescom ‘market-seller’, fodro ‘witch’, or irestát lë ‘your majesty’ applied to females. They may be amused but are hardly bothered that risora ‘semen’ is feminine, and huvon ‘egg’ masculine.

When gendered terms exist, the right one should be used. Also see the section on changing gender, which applies to things like surnames and common, large animals. For other animals you can always use ser ‘male’ or žonë ‘female’— or just go with the natural gender; there’s usually no need to worry if a suri ‘mouse’ is male or female.

Occupation names are mostly masculine. Some centuries ago this was not the case, but these days to call a woman a criveca would seem as odd as calling her an authoress. If you’re uncertain, check the Dictionary.

Nonetheless, all this leads to a puzzle if you’re introducing a referent but not by name: how or when do you communicate their sex? Here are the rules and some suggestions.

First, adjectives must agree with their noun. So if your first sentence is

So crivec sulete fue nižnise— řo tence loži.
the-m writer young-m be.past-3s miserable-m / no have-past-3s word-p.acc
The young writer was miserable: they had no words.
you can’t change the adjectives to signal that the writer is a woman. The sentence, for a Verdurian reader, is ambiguous.

Second, if you introduce a pronoun, it agrees with the referent, and it’s quite permitted to throw in a subject pronoun simply to show the sex:

So crivec sulete fue nižnise— ila řo tence loži.
the-m writer young-m be.past-3s miserable-m / she no have-past-3s word-p.acc
The young writer was miserable: she had no words.
Of course, you could use a noun that gives it away immediately.
Soa criveca frälina sulete fue nižnisë—řo tence loži.
the-f writing-f maiden be.past-3s miserable-f / no have-past-3s word-p.acc
The young woman writer was miserable: she had no words.
(Criveca is here used as an adjective, so the feminine form is fine.)

More subtly, you could start with an adjective used as a substantive, which will match the referent’s gender.

Soa vulädë fue nižnisë. Fue crivec er řo tence loži.
the-f ambitous-f be.past-3s miserable-f / be.past-3s writer and no have-past-3s word-p.acc
The ambitious one was miserable. She was a writer and had no words.
You could also just trudge on— letting the gender come up only when it was unavoidable, as in my story “The Rogues”. If anything this is easier in Verdurian, where subject pronouns are rarely used.

What if there is no gender to give, because it’s a generic antecedent? Then you use the gender that corresponds to the word:

Esli lelcelei viminä co ďitelán, ilat kekenei.
If see-cond-2s Viminian-acc along road-dat / she-acc kill-inf-2s
If you see a Viminian on the road, kill him. (literally: her)
A few gender curiosities:
  • If you’re talking about a baby and don’t know its name, you generally use feminine gender— matching piďa ‘baby’.
  • Similarly, an unnamed child is masculine, after imfát. But for anyone above puberty, it’s preferred to give a sex-linked term.
  • Some gay men like to use feminine pronouns, others don’t.
  • Quite a few stories and plays involve disguised gender. The convention is to use pronouns matching one’s disguise. Thus, a heroine who puts on male attire will be referred to as ilu until she takes it off.

Anaphora

Personal pronouns

There are eight personal pronouns, plus a reflexive pronoun.
1s se I 1p ta we
2s le you 2p mu you
3s il it 3p ca they
ilu he
ila she
s refl ze -self p refl za -selves
Subject position
You can normally omit pronominal subjects, as the information is encoded on the verb.
Žannai, lelnai, vencru.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
Using the personal pronoun is emphatic (Le lelne! You saw it!) or constrastive (Se tróunai, er řo le! I found it, not you!)

However, conjoined subjects may require explicit pronouns.

Mihel er se prosnam ad desin, er Ďanëla er ilu onžannu.
Mihel and I-nom walk-past-1p to bridge-dat / and Ďanëla and he return-past-3p
Mihel and I walked to the bridge, and Ďanëla and he returned.
In English we might say “Mihel and me”, but you must always use se in subject position in Verdurian.

The verb with conjoints is always plural, and agrees with the highest person present— i.e. it’s 1p if se/ta are involved; otherwise 2p if le/mu are involved; otherwise 3p.

Predicates
Pronouns used as predicates (that is, after esan, šaynir, adesan, and similar verbs) are accusative, not nominative: E et, it’s me. Note that nouns in predicate position are nominative: E dalu, he’s a king.
Object position
Object pronouns are placed before the verb, accusatives before datives. This can be considered a retention of Caďinor’s basic SOV order.
Sen mižu dy ila läznei,
Er et ilun pavetno:
Sen done dobrelóg
Ac miže dy řo nuotai.

They told me you had been to her
And mentioned me to him.
She gave me a good character
But said I could not swim.

Pronominal gender
If a pronoun has an antecedent, or even an implied referent, only ilu and ila can be used. The choice is based on the gender of the antecedent noun.
Soa ďeletá e lyö imbušäma. Mira sen ilat rälne.
the-f sauce be-3s very tasty-f / mother I-dat she-acc cook-past-3s
The sauce is very tasty. My mother cooked it.
As noted above, if you are referring to a specific person, use the pronouns that correspond to their sex.
Žane, fsëgdá žane. Ilet lelei?
come-3s / always come-3s / he-acc see-2s
Something comes, always comes. Do you see it? (literally: him)
However, if you’re referring to an idea, a proposition, or an infinitive, you use il. (Spanish speakers have a similar behavior with lo.)
Ihano miže dy Abend ya fäsre, ac řo iler ředao.
Ihano say-past-3s sub Abend compl leave-past-3s / but no it-acc believe-1s
Ihano said that Abend had left, but I don’t believe it.
Šrifec e dobre. Ozë ilon ontenam lon.
know-inf be-3s good-m / thus it-dat show-1p respect-acc
Knowledge is good. Therefore we show it respect.
Reflexives
When can you use the reflexive? Naturally, anywhere in a sentence, referring to the subject. This includes rearrangements where the antecedent comes last.
Raheli pitre vin zië.
Raheli drink-past-3s wine-acc refl-gen
Raheli drank her own wine.
Vin zië pitre Raheli.
wine-acc refl-gen drink-past-3s Raheli
Her own wine was drunk by Raheli.
Note that Raheli pitre vin lië could only mean that she drank someone else’s wine.

When a new subject is introduced (e.g. in a subclause or a later clause), it becomes the antecedent of ze. E.g. in this sentence zet can only refer to Ihano, the subject of its clause.

So imbemec řede dy Ihano zet duisre dobrece.
the teacher believe-1s sub Ihano refl-acc conduct-past-3s good-ly
The teacher believes that Ihano behaved himself well.
Propositions and infinitives don’t “count” as new subjects, so you can get a ze referring to the main clause subject:
Ihano mis dy pitir vin zen e dobre.
Ihano say.3s / sub drink-inf wine-acc refl-dat be-3s good-m
Ihano says that to drink wine is good for him.
Some special rules apply to ze used within the subject. It doesn’t refer to the subject itself, so it can point to something else. Within a main clause, it can refer to an object later in the sentence:
Mira zen done soán meďán milka er carďä.
mother refl-dat gave.past-3s the-m.acc son-acc sausage-acc and sword-acc
His own mother gave the boy a sausage and a sword.
And within a subclause, it refers to the subject of the clause that contains it:
Ihano zašrifce, dy cira zië fue řocepelë.
Ihano incep-know-past-1s / sub wife refl-gen be.past-3s unfaithful-f
Ihano learned that his wife was unfaithful.
It may seem odd that the reflexive has a nominative form, but recall that some prepositions take the nominative:
So šriftom řo sfahne sul eta ze.
the doctor no speak-past-3s only about refl-nom
The doctor spoke only about himself.
However, like other pronouns, it appears in the accusative after esan:
Soa elrei on e zet.
the-f queen again be-3s refl-acc
The queen is herself again.
Each other
The equivalent of ‘each other’ is pere ftore, literally ‘the first to the second’. The words must agree in gender and number with their referents. Pere will be in the nominative; ftore in the case appropriate for its position in the sentence. This should be clearer with some examples:
Fsya disu pere ftorem im ci-mažtanan.
everyone hate-3s first-nom second-acc in this-city-dat
Everyone hates each other in this town.
Mira er meca pasetrü perë ftorä ši-dënán.
mother and daughter visit-past-3s first-f-nom second-f-acc every-day-dat
Mother and daughter visited each other every day.
Mižu pere ftoren, <Nëron, nëron, nëron.>
say-3s first-nom second-dat / holy holy holy
They were saying to one another, “Holy, holy, holy.”
Where our “each other” is the object of a preposition, the preposition occurs in between pere and ftore:
Soî baraďî brignu pere ak ftoren.
the-m.p brother-p fight-past-3p first-nom against second-dat
The brothers fought with each other.
Recall that the reflexive can also mean “each other”; pere ftore makes it quite clear that you don’t intend a purely reflexive meaning.
Impersonal tu
The impersonal pronoun tu is widely used, in contexts where we’d say “one”, “everyone”, “people”, “you”, or “we”, or “someone”— anywhere the particular subject is not referenced.
Tu šri Mihel.
Impers know-3s Mihel-acc
Everyone knows Mihel.
Tu řo epe cunësan Ďekhamä.
impers no can-3s trust-inf Dhekhnami-acc
You can’t trust a Dhekhnami.
Tu řo creže legua cum manoin tuë, esyule.
impers no eat-3s soup with hand-p.dat impers-gen / dear
We don’t eat soup with our hands, dear.
It’s less usual, but certainly possible, for tu to be used in object position:
So crivát Gn Čurmeii tu gene.
the writing honorific-m Čurmey impers-acc bother-3s
Mr. Čurmey’s writings bother people.
As noted above, tu is one of the ways of reducing valence.
The formal you
Like many European languages, Verdurian has T/V forms— familiar and formal you. The familiar you is le; the formal is tu. This distinction is made only in the singular; for plural referents, always use mu.

(For Romance speakers: the form is a reminder that tu is a 2s pronoun, but don't confuse it with the familiar!)

Tu takes 3s agreement.

Esce dy tu vule myasei gudunei?
Q sub imper want-3s meat-gen antelope-gen
Would you like some antelope meat?
In this sense only, the accusative is .
Tü cunësai, ac řo cum mecan esë.
impers-acc trust-1s / but no with daughter-dat I-gen
I trust you, but not with my daughter.
Unlike the personal pronouns, it can’t be omitted in subject position, except in subordinated or conjoined clauses.
Tu aše dy (tu) onžanme soán domán ktë (tu) fue otál ošte?
Impers think-3s sub (impers) return-fut-3s the-m.dat house-dat where (impers) be.past-3s so drunk-m
Do you think you’ll return to the house where you were so drunk?
As both formal ‘you’ and the impersonal pronoun are widely used, some confusion is inevitable. E.g.
Tu šrifce dy tu kekne snugá tuë?
impers know-past-3s sub impers kill-past-3s servant-acc impers-gen
could mean any of:
Did you know that someone killed your servant?
Did someone know that you killed their servant?
Did someone know that someone’s servant was killed?
Context will normally provide the correct meaning. On the other hand, in any situation where you’d use formal ‘you’, a certain level of confusion may be desirable.

The use of formal tu is tricky; it’s used for those of high social status, and also by those who serve them or aspire to that status. At the same time, those of lofty status often make a point of using le with a wide circle of acquaintances— the overuse of tu is a sure marker of the arriviste. Some specific rules:

  • You use tu with everyone, even servants and bystanders, at court or at law.
  • Nobles, rich men, officers, high-ranking clerics, and other lofty figures will be called tu by everyone, except family members of their generation or older. Servants will be called le, except for the highest ranks (e.g. one’s chief of staff).
  • Among bourgeois peers who don’t know each other well, tu is common in the city— less so in the countryside. The transition to le is a happy occasion.
  • High-end merchants call their clients tu, and vice versa. Those who mostly sell to the general public will use le, unless a client looks rich.
  • The first rank of anything— clerics, police, military— is considered working class, and thus not entitled to be called tu.
  • An upper class child will call its parents tu; a lower-class one, le.
  • Husbands and wives call each other le. A nicety of upper-class behavior, however, is to use tu until the marriage.
  • Universal schooling, at least at the primary level, is becoming a norm in Verduria, but school has its origin in the middle classes. Teachers are addressed with tu, students with le.
  • However, professors make it a point to avoid tu entirely at the university.
  • Religious language was fixed before the formal tu developed. Therefore you always address God or the gods with le.
  • An author addresses his reader with le. (However, if you’re writing a letter, or anything else addressed to a particular person, you use the pronoun you’d use with them in person.)
Le cumprenei? You understand?

Indefinite pronouns

The ‘person’ and ‘thing’ indefinite pronouns— nëcto ‘someone’, što ‘something’, and their like— must be declined.
Esce so paute fsye e zdesy, iy tu deprenne nëcton?
Q the coat everyone-gen be-3s here / or impers rob-past-3s someone-acc
Is everyone’s coat here, or did someone get robbed?
Unlike the personal pronouns, they are placed after the verb when used as objects:
Soa režžina lelne što, ac sfahce nikton.
the maid see-past-3s something-acc / but speak-past-3s nobody-dat
The maid saw something, but spoke to no one.

Determiners

The class of determiners in Verdurian is comprised of:
  • the article so
  • the demonstratives ci-/ce-
  • the interrogative
  • the quantifiers
They always occur at the beginning of a noun phrase, and only one of the three can be used at a time (with one exception, discussed under Quantifiers). The general pragmatic/semantic function can be said to be the same, too: they all identify which referents we are talking about, out of the class named by the NP.

Articles

There are no indefinite articles. As a first approximation, the lack of the article so can be taken as an indefinite reference.
Eř deuverenei. Řo itëšireu— ai šriftom.
you.s-acc strip-inf-2s / no worry-inf-2s / be-1s doctor
Take off your clothes. Don’t worry— I’m a doctor.
The definite article so will cause few problems for English speakers. As in English, its pragmatic message is “You know which one I mean.” This is often because it was just referred to, but it may be that it’s obvious in context, or because of the frame of reference. (If I start talking about the inn, it’s obvious that “the innkeeper” is the innkeeper of that inn.)

If you’re used to French or Spanish, you will want to omit it for abstract nouns (lübor ‘love’) or to name a class (šatu caua, “I like coffee”).

It’s avoided in locative or genitive expressions: im atunán ‘in the room’; cire óuandei ‘the neighbor’s wife’s’.

You also omit it with a person’s body parts: zet cesune oreli, he scratched his ears.

In a passage with few characters, it is not necessary to repeat so with each reference:

So cuon er so ailuro eu drukî. Cuon ride še slušir misotém ailurei. Ailuro e arašó rizuec.
The dog and the cat be-3p friend-p / dog laugh-3s as hear-inf joke-p.acc cat-gen / cat be-3s quite amusing
The dog and the cat are friends. The dog laughs at the cat’s jokes. The cat is quite amusing.

Demonstrative prefixes

Ci- and ce- are clitics, attached to the first element of the NP, which is often not the noun.
Ce-rana crežne ci-uestum.
that-frog eat-past-3s this-man
That frog ate this man.
Ci-telnî redelcî lübu ce-ďuni šadeni.
this-fine-f.p woman-p love-3p that-three-m.p.acc knight-p.acc
These fine women love those three knights.
As they’re prefixes, they can’t appear alone. If you want them to appear alone, you are probably looking for the indefinite pronouns.

Interrogative kî

The interrogative ‘which’ must precede a NP, which is fronted as other interrogatives are.
Kî teša faššeo?
which mess-acc do.what-past-2s
Which mess did you make?
Kî sädra vuleu, Aďia iy Lelesa?
which sister-acc want-2s / Aďia or Lelesa
Which sister do you want, Aďia or Lelesa?
Kî mažtanan lädam?
which city-dat go-1p
What city are we going to?

Quantifiers

The most common quantifiers:
suy none
nib any
pey few
ti- some
des several
muše many
benge most
čil each
ši- every
tëse all
These cannot be used with so, even if the equivalent in English is fine: peyî luomî kiom tenao ‘the few apples I have’.

Ci-/ce- can be used only with pey and des: ci-peyî luomî ‘these few apples’.

Ti-/ši- are clitics, like ci-/ce-, attached to the first word of the NP: ti-telnî sätî ‘some fine halls, ši-mažtanan ‘in every house’.

So šaden otere ti-telnem redelcem im Pelymán.
the knight know-3s some-fine-f.p.acc woman-p.acc in Pelym-dat
The knight knows some fine women in Pelym.
The remaining quantifiers are regular adjectives: mušî uestî ‘many men’; čilen redelcen ‘to each of the women’, suy dalu ‘no king’.

Like other adjectives, they can be used as substantives:

Tu apelue mušem, ac tu divee peom.
impers call-3s many-acc / but impers choose-3s few-acc
Many are called, but few are chosen.
(Suy and nib can be used this way, but it’s more natural to use the indefinite pronouns nëcto ‘someone’, što ‘something’ nikto ‘nobody’, niš ‘nothing’.)

The quantifiers above are those used with count nouns. With mass nouns, or with fractions of an object, you use the following quantifiers, plus the singular genitive:

suy none
pav little
muatë half
bolë much
benge most
perë all, the whole
Thus suy luomei ‘none of the apple’, bolë ženei ‘much of the people’, perë tonei ‘all of the rice’. Note that the partitive can be understood as having a null quantifier meaning ‘some’.

The quantifiers can affect pronouns, which for this purpose act like mass nouns:

suy taë none of us
bolë caë many of them (literally, much of them)
perë muë all of you
English has a transformation called Quantifier Hopping, which allows quantifiers to move about in the sentence: All his friends have gone → His friends have all gone; Both the boys left → The boys both left. This can’t be done in Verdurian— place the quantifier at the head of the NP only.

Adjectival anaphora

The anaphor tal ‘such’ refers to a previously mentioned quality:
Cira esë vulre bolyášem verdem katim, ac řo epnai tróuen talem.
wife I-gen want-past-3s big-m.p.acc green-m.p.acc chamberpot-p.acc / but no can-past-3s find-inf such-m.p.acc
My wife wanted big green chamberpots, but I couldn’t find such.
Ihano e haute po ďinen čimen er ďinin manoin, er Ďanël řo e tal.
Ihano be-3s tall-m at two-f.p.dat pace-p.dat and two-m.p.dat hand-p.dat / and Ďanël no be-3s such-m
Ihano is 2 čimas 2 manos tall, and Ďanël isn’t that (tall).

Verbal anaphora

Kies ‘do what’

The verb kies is at root an interrogative verbal anaphor; it can be translated ‘to do what?’ That is, it questions and replaces the entire VP.
Kaiam?
What are we doing?
Řo šrifao dy Ihano kiet.
no know-1s sub Ihano do.what-2
I don’t know what Ihano is doing.
Kaimei zaftra?
do.what-2s tomorrow
What are you doing tomorrow?
Kiel vuleu dy kiai?
how want-2s sub do.what-1s
What do you want me to do?
It can be used in non-interrogative statements, with the meaning ‘do things’.
Raheli kiet fsëgdá kiel baraďu zië kiet.
Raheli do.what-3s always how brother refl-gen do.what-3s
Raheli always does what her brother does.
So prade kiet dënán; so kaltén kiet nočín.
the honest do.what-3s day-dat / the thief do.what-3s night-dat
The honest man does things during the day; the thief does things at night.

Fassec ‘do that’

Just as you can give a noun, then refer to it using the demonstrative eto, you can name an action, then refer to it with the demonstrative anaphor fassec. It can usually be translated ‘to do that’ or ‘to do it’.
Ken vulei šesan relir ce-mesta? Ihano fasste tro čáčece.
who-dat want-2s cause-inf sow-inf that-field-acc / Ihano do.that-fut-3s too slow-ly
Who do you want to sow that field? Ihano will do it too slowly.
Ä, sen mifanei fassec.
ah I.dat allow-inf-2s do.that-inf
Oh, let me do that.
Soa piďa lele dy mira kiet, vule fassec.
the-f baby see-3s sub mother do.what-3s / want-3s sub do.that-inf
The baby sees mother do something and wants to do that.
—Tu deve ametan soa carďë šadenan. —Se fasstao.
impers must-3s bring the-f.acc sword-acc knight-f.dat / I-nom do.that-fut-1s
“Someone must bring the sword to the (female) knight.” “I’ll do it.”
Note that ‘doing’ includes stative and even impersonal verbs:
Soî rihî löseltu er soî surcotî meii otál fassu.
the-f.p mirror-p reflect-3p and the-m.p surface-p water-gen also do.that-3p
Mirrors reflect, and water surfaces do (that) too.
Pluyre zetra er fasste zaftra.
rain-past-3s yesterday and do.that-3s tomorrow
It rained yesterday and it will do the same tomorrow.
Fassec is often used where we’d use verbal anaphors like do so, or deletion of all but the auxiliary:
Mižao dy kekmai so ďëfkum, er ya faššao.
say-1s sub kill-fut-1s the-m.acc monster-acc / and compl do.that-past-1s
I said that I’d kill the monster, and I did.
Ihano tësišne soem cavem Errukei, er otál fašše Raheli.
Ihano explore-past-3s the-f.p.acc basement-p.acc Erruk-gen / and also do.that-past-3s Raheli
Ihano explored the dungeons of Erruk, and so did Raheli.
Fassec can take the meaning ‘be busy, do things’, which is close to one sense of ‘do’:
Piro sen fas bolëce ši-dënán.
Father me-dat do.that-3s much-ly each-day-dat
My father does a lot every day.
But there are important differences with ‘do’:
  • There is no Do-support in Verdurian; don’t imitate the ‘do’ in sentences like “I don’t think so” or “Do you even lift?”
  • If ‘do’ has a generic object (“do it, do that, do so, do things”), leave it out— the object is implied with fassec.
  • If the sentence is interrogative, you’re probably looking for kies.
  • Specific lexical meanings generally require a different word: e.g. How are you doing→ Kiel läde; Don’t do evil → Řo mevano im čeltán; I did the dishes → Lavnai some činem.

Ozë

Forms of fassec can be left out if the adverb ozë ‘thus’ is present:
Ihano šrifce so advečel er ozë (fašše) Samuilo.
Ihano know-past-3s the-m.acc answer-acc and thus (do.that-past-3s) Samuilo
Ihano knew the answer and so did Samuilo.
Vulu lädan Deštain; ozë le?
want-1s go-inf Deštai-dat / thus you.s
I want to go to Deštai; what about you?
If a verb is given, ozë should be interpreted in its ordinary meaning of ‘thus’.
Avula ivre so crif; ozë avulo suspilavme.
grandmother-dim read-3s the-m.acc ledger-acc / thus grandfather-dim suffer-fut-3s
Grandma is reading the ledger, so Grandpa is going to suffer.

Prepositions

The following chart is provided for reference; the glosses are only for the prototypical meaning. Preposition usage varies spectacularly between languages; consult the dictionary for variations and unexpected uses.
Location
acota apart from dör outside of prî facing
ad to, toward hip under, below sa through
apprî in front of hipco downstairs sur on
apros following im in, among šircau around
away from ir above tra over, across
cel between irco up tras beyond
co near is out of u next to
de from, off of preceding
derë behind ne at, by
Time
apros after coprós since before
azike until cune around pro during
Other
ab using except po at the rate of
acota away from com like, as pro in return for
acřó except for cum with sam withou
ak against de from, off še upon, being, as
and for eta about
arad despite i of

Case usage

Prepositions are followed by the dative, except as indicated below.

First, eta ‘about’, i ‘of’, and še in the sense of ‘being’ are followed by the nominative.

Siča pratnam eta so reďunát cel čilin taë.
progr chat-past-1p about the-m.nom space-nom between each-p.dat we-gen
We were talking about the space between us all.
Še šriftom, Ihano läde ši-dënán ad Šriftanáen I Verdúria.
being doctor / Ihano go-3s every-day-dat to university-dat of Verduria
Being a doctor, Ihano goes every day to the University of Verduria.
Second, with locative prepositions, the dative is used for current location, accusative is used for movement to the place indicated. In English we express this using the prepositions in/into and on/onto, but in Verdurian it applies to all locative prepositions.
Im soan scurin in the country
Im soa scura into the country
Cam lelnam hipco soan ďitelán.
they-acc see-past-1p down the-m.dat road-dat
We saw them down the road.
Soa pavona läzne hipco so ďitel.
the wagon went down the-m.acc road-acc
The wagon went down the road.
However, the prepositions ad ‘toward’ and is ‘out of’ always indicate motion, and are used with the dative only.

Prepositional prefixes

Unusually, Verdurian has a set of prefixes which can be applied to prepositions.
Re- far rehip far below; recu distantly related to
Sy- touching syco alongside; sypak almost exactly
Zdi- component zdiderë on the back of; zdisur on the top side of
Im- inside imderë inside the back of (a hollow thing)
f- throughout fšircau all around, fsa ‘throughout
cu- roughly cune nearby, around; cuir somewhere over
Soa čana kio fue sysur soán raín tombre, er cäselî zië eu fsur polán.
The-f pot which be-past-3s touch-on the-m.dat shelf-dat fall-past-3s / and bit-pl refl-gen be-3p throughout-on floor-dat
The pot that was on top of the shelf fell, and its pieces are all over the floor.
Lelai so rakan— e imsur soan čuratan.
See-1s the-m.acc roach-acc / be-3s inside-on the-dat hearth-dat
I see the roach: it’s on the inside top surface of the hearth.

Numbers


 
Cardinal Ordinal Fraction Combination +10
0 niš niše
1 an pere perë dežán
2 ďun ftore muatë dva- decďún
3 ďin tvere dinë tve- decďín
4 par četve bargë če- decpár
5 pan pane panëe pa- decpán
6 sués suese suesëe sue- decsués
7 hep hepe hepëe ë- dechép
8 žoc žoce žocëe žo- dežóc
9 nev neve nevëe në- desnév
10 dec dece decëe
100 šatem šateme šatemë
 
1000 mil
100,000 leh
1 million perun
1 billion ftoron
1 trillion tveron

Morphology

The cardinals from 1 to 3 are declined as regular adjectives: ana redelcë ‘one woman’; ďinî elcarî ‘three elcars’; ďunië daluë ‘of the two kings’. Four and above are invariable: par dalî. When you’re counting or doing arithmetic, 0 is niš, but combined with a noun you use suy, as in suy uestu ‘no man’.

Ordinals are regular adjectives: so četve iliu ‘the 4th iliu’; ftorë žina ‘the second girl’. There are suppletive forms only for 1 to 4; the rest all just add e.

Likewise, beyond the suppletives for ½ through ¼, to form fractions you turn the e of the ordinal into ëe. These are treated as nouns: panëe ivrei ‘1/5 of the book’.

Cardinals

As you can see, the general formula for the teens is dec + units, with the unit stressed. (11, 18, and 19 were regular in Caďinor, but suffered some sound changes on the way to Verdurian.)

Multiple of 10 are formed by the combination forms plus dec. Thus dvadec, tvedec, čedec, … nëdec. For units, the exact same patterns are found as in the teens:

21 dvadežán
22 dvadecďún
35 tvedecpán
49 čedesnév
81 žodežán
98 nëdežóc
Multiples of 100 are the combo forms plus šatem, stress falling on the combo form. Thus dvášatem, tvéšatem, etc.

Multiples of higher numbers are not compounds, just adjunctions: par mil ‘four thousand’, hep perun ‘7 million’.

Under this scheme, it can easily be seen that 233,097,254,675 is dvášatem tvedecďín ftoron nëdechép perun dvášatem pandecpár mil suéšatem ëdecpán.

Mathematical symbols

The ordinal symbol is simply a small-sized e. In romanization I write e.g. Mëranac 2e = Mëranac ftore, Mëranac the 2nd.

Reciprocals are written with a small sign resembling the diaresis of ë. In romanization it's .

Negative numbers are formed with sam plus the dative (for declined numbers): -2 = sam ďunán ‘without two’, -10 = sam dec.

2 + 2 = 4 ďun er ďun eu par two and two are four
5 – 2 = 3 pan sam ďunán eu ďin five without two are three
7 x 6 = 42 hepe sues e čedecďún seventh six is 42
10 / 5 = 2 decë panëe e ďun tenth 1/5 is two
You say a fraction 5/7 and a division 5 / 7 the same way, panë hepëe.

The formula for multiplication and division doesn’t lend itself to words. Instead you substitute tëscole ‘multiplies’, čilde ‘divides’. In old-fashioned books you added tot before the e, but this is no longer necessary.

Ruk tëscole deyodimam (tot) e gués.
Velocity multiply-3s mass-acc (that.one) be-3s power
Velocity times mass is momentum.
Lagu scurë čilde dimam ženei e el lagu ctelei.
income land-gen divide-3s sum-acc people-gen be-3s central income individual-gen
National income divided by population is mean individual income.
As an extension of this, the reciprocal is the čildul, so the expression 1/v (where v = velocity) would be ruk čildul.

Rather than using π, Verdurians use 1/π, called orondei— the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Thus our π would be orondei čildula.

The square of 10 is called este dec, and so on. A very old name for a million is este mil, while este leh is 1010 or 10 billion.

Other exponentials are named using the cardinals. Thus, the cube of 10 is tvere este dec. (Yes, this means ftore este dec is the same as este dec. At first the cube was ftore este, but this proved too confusing. Today pere este dec would be 101, and niše este dec is 100.)

This can be generalized to nib estát ‘any power’ = ‘exponential’. Going with the metaphor, to raise a number to a power is to estair ‘exult’ it.

The symbol is a doubled multiplication sign. The order of the numbers is opposite ours, but matches the spoken expression.

The square root of a number is its ruda ‘ore’. Thus √2 is ruda i ďun. Higher roots are named with ordinals: 3√27 is tverë ruda i dvadechép.

Again, the root symbol is a doubled division sign. The numbers do appear in our order, but still match the spoken expression.

If 10 ^ 3 = 1000, we can say log10 1000 = 3. In Verdurian:

Tvere este dec e mil. Estát po dec i mil e ďun.
third great ten be-3s thousand / power rate ten of thousand be-3s three
The third power of 10 is 1000. The base 10 logarithm of 1000 is three.
The term for a natural logarithm is telne estát, literally ‘fine power’. Thus ln 10 is telne estát i dec. The name for e itself is zetcimeca (referring to the fact that the derivative of ex is itself).

The log symbol is based on the first two letters of Estát. The base can be omitted if it’s either 10 or e... the author had better tell you which they are using.

The derivative of a function is its cimeca. Its integral is a piyadimo.

When formulas become too complex, you can use the šircaî < >. Unlike English, Verdurian allows these to be pronounced: hicet… tot. Note that a bracketed expression isn’t a number and thus requires the alternative multiplication/division verbs. Thus:

5 / <2 + 8> = ½.
Pan čilde hicet ďun er žoc tot e muatë.
five divide-3s number two and eight that be-3s half
A function is a ďeltesa ‘change’. Suppose we have a function representing velocity (ruk). We might say:
Ruk ne pan piyen e čedecsues.
velocity at five instant-p.dat be-3s forty-six
Velocity at 5 piyî equals 46., i.e. v(5) = 46.

Constructions

This chapter discusses various syntactic constructions, roughly in order of commonness.

Sentence order

The unmarked sentence order of Verdurian is SVO (subject-verb-object). More precisely:
Subject
Pronominal direct object
Pronominal indirect object
Verb
Adverbs
Nominal direct object
Nominal indirect object
Prepositional phrases
Some examples:
So lyö brune urs ale. Ursî brunî er beluanî alü.
the very brown-m bear get.on-3s / bear-p brown-m.p and beautiful-m.p get.on-3s
The very brown bear gets by. Brown and beautiful bears do.
Urs prosne im prusi er desidre šerä.
bear walk-past-3s in bar-acc and order-past-3s beer-acc
A bear walked into a bar and ordered a beer.
Urs sen done šerä zië er ilat ilun ondonu.
bear I-dat give.past-3s beer-acc refl-gen and she-acc he-dat return.past-1s
The bear gave his beer to me and I gave it back to him.
Šual prenne asuena soei lapisei nrüskei co ursán.
horse take-past-3s chair-acc the-m.gen rabbit-gen fool-gen next.to bear-dat
A horse took the foolish rabbit's seat next to the bear.
Šual racontre piďä lengä er skukaeca soán čironán.
horse tell-past-3s story-acc long-f.acc and boring-f.acc the-m.dat elephant-dat
The horse told a long and tiresome anecdote to the elephant.
Ilat racontre durnece, ac so čiron řo ilun slušre acotál.
She-acc tell-past-3s bad-ly / but the elephant no he-dat listen-past-3s anyway
He told it badly, but the elephant wasn't listening anyway.

Re-ordering

Caďinor had fairly free word order, and Verdurian grammarians often claim that their language allows the same freedom. One grammar claims that all the following are possible:
Soî aelutrî redelcî pasetrü soa säta lätecië belgomië.
the-f.p virtuous-f.p women-p visit-past-3p the-f.acc hall-acc athletic-m.p.gen warrior-p.gen
The virtuous women visited the hall of the athletic warriors.
Soa säta lätecië belgomië pasetrü soî aelutrî redelcî.
Lätecië belgomië pasetrü soa säta soî aelutrî redelcî.
Pasetrü soa säta soî redelcî aelutrî belgomië lätecië.
Redelcî soî belgomië säta soa lätecië aelutrî pasetrü.
Aelutrî belgomiue lätecië pasetrü redelcî säta soa soa soî.
These range from the possible to the absurd (the last example simply alphabetizes the words— I’ve substituted English orthographical order). Even in poetry, you won’t see examples like the last two.

What do you see? The most important principle is to place the topic first. The topic or focus is the referent, what we’re talking about; the comment is the new information, what we’re saying about them.

Raheli läzne pasetir baraďum zië. Ac baraďum tu keknere.
Raheli go-past-3s visit-inf brother-acc refl-gen / but impers kill-past.ant-3s brother-acc
Raheli went to see her brother. But someone had killed her brother.
The first sentence is in unmarked order, but that also means that Raheli can be assumed to be the topic. The comment comes next: that she is visiting her brother. In the second sentence, baraďu is the topic, and comes first, though grammatically it’s the object. (This is optional; the unmarked SVO order is always OK.)

The first alternative of the “virtuous women” sentences above would be natural if soa säta “the hall…” was the topic; the second, if “the athletic warriors” were the topic.

It’s something of a literary trope, but fairly common, to use SO order— that is, to place the object right after the subject, fronting or backing the verb. It’s used to emphasize the relationship between related things:

Mirî imfáti lübu.
mother-p child-p.acc love-3s
Mothers love children.
Fsëgda ďuvësü dalî belgosannom.
always mistrust-3p king-p general-pl.acc
Kings always mistrust generals.
E miyire dy cumnuvu frälinî frälinen.
be-3s natural sub make.love-3p maiden-p maiden-p.dat
It’s natural for girls to sleep with girls.

Negation

A sentence is negated by placing řo before the verb. It precedes any pronominal objects.
Emanél řo tróune bem detranul im ďitelán.
Emanél no find-past-3s head-acc severed-m.acc in road-dat
Emanél didn’t find a severed head in the road.
Emanél řo ilet tróune im ďitelán, ac im silvan.
Emanél no he-acc find-past-3s in road-dat / but in woods-dat
Emanél didn’t find it in the road, but in the woods.
You can place řo before any element to specifically negate it. With NPs this contrasts with suy (below), and is best translated “it was not X that…”
Emanél tróune bem řo detranul im ďitelán.
Emanél found a non-severed head in the road.

Řo Emanél tróune bem detranul im ďitelán.
It wasn’t Emanél who found a severed head in the road.

Emanél tróune bem detranul řo im ďitelán.
Emanél found a severed head (but) not in the road.

Other negative words

The following negative words also require řo.

Nikto – no one, nobody

Nikto řo tróune bem detranul im ďitelán.
Nobody found a severed head in the road.
Čamzelî sežlórië řo eu dobrî nikton.
bite-p insect-p.gen no be-3p good-m.p nobody-dat
Insect bites are good for no one.
Niš – nothing
Dembrea řo e niš sam ďulan.
existence no be-3s nothing without ale-dat
Existence is nothing without beer.
Niš řo žombre voyak verdúrim.
nothing no scare-3s soldier-acc Verdurian-m.acc
Nothing scares a Verdurian soldier.
Suy – not any, none
Suy uestu řo e nezi. Suyî uestî řo eu neziora.
none-m man no be-3s island / none-m.p man-p no be-3p archipelago
No man is an island. No men are an archipelago.
Ci-paz řo dobläde suya legua.
This-fish no suit-3s none-f.acc soup-acc
This fish doesn’t go with any soup.
Ni…ni… — Neither/nor
Ni so hutorom ni soa griužina řo rësne ni cont ni ilneam.
nor the farmer nor the-f maide meet-past-3s nor count-acc nor archibishop-acc
Neither the farmer nor the maid met either a count or an archbishop.
Nikagdá – Never
Ašru dy řo lelcelai nikagdá mot cum ožren.
think-past-1s sub no see-cond-1s never sheep-acc with wing-p.dat
I thought that I would never see a sheep with wings.
Nikudá — Nowhere
Řo lelai nikudá so dalum er išnai im soen ďunen parënáen.
no see-1s nowhere the-m.acc king-acc and seek-past-1s in the-f.p.dat two-f.p.dat casino-p.dat
I see the king nowhere, and I’ve looked in both casinos.
Řóece — not at all
Řo vulu řóece etertotan.
no want-1s at.all argue-inf
I do not at all wish to argue.
Nun – no longer
Řo snucai nun sannam ke zeřaše cum alyon.
no serve-1s no.longer lord-acc who season-3s with garlic-dat
No longer will I serve a lord who seasons with garlic.
Ger — hardly
Motî cum ožren řo eu ger peržano i alyo.
sheep-p with wing-p.dat no be-3p hardly source of garlic
Winged sheep are hardly a source of garlic.
Sul — only
Onžanenei— so alyo řo e sul samďeve idiko.
return-inf-2s / the galic no be-3s only harmless-m peculiarity
Come back: the garlic is only a harmless peculiarity.
In English ‘hardly’ and ‘only’ are not negative expressions— but they are in French.

If it applies to the whole sentence, sul should be placed after the verb. It can be placed before any other element, however.

Sul so dalu řo ontne so ivram elrein.
only the king no show-past-3s the-m.acc book-acc queen-dat
Only the king showed the book to the queen.
So dalu řo ontne so ivram sul elrein.
only the king no show-past-3s the-m.acc book-acc only queen-dat
The king showed the book only to the queen.
All these words (except nun ‘now’) retain their negative sense when used alone, e.g. in answer to a question:
Ktën läznei? —Nikudá.
Where did you go? —Nowhere.
Kaivei? —Niš.
What did you do? —Nothing.
If you really want to negate the negation, you must use a subordinate clause:
Řo esne nikto ke řo tróune bem.
no be-past-3s nobody who no find-past-3s head-acc
There was no one who didn’t find a head.
(If you said Nikto řo tróune bem, it just means “Nobody found a head.”) Or:
Řo e dy nikto řo tróune bem.
no be-s sub nobody no find-past-3s head-acc
It’s not that no one found a head.

Questions

Yes/no questions

There are three ways to form yes/no questions:

First, you can simply inflect the voice upward, with no change in word order.

Soa elrei creže alyam?
the-f queen eat-3s garlic-acc
Does the queen eat garlic?
Eto e soa pradë almea, iy řo e sul murebode?
this be-3s the-f real-f world / or no be-3s only fantasy
Is this the real world, or is it just fantasy?
Second, you can use a tag question. There are three variants, depending on whether the sentence is negated, and which alternative you consider more likely:
Sentence is your guess tag question
Affirmative affirmative řo e?
Affirmative negative iy řo?
Negative negative řo e?
Negative affirmative iy ar?
Soa elrei (řo) ditave alyam, řo e?
the-f queen (no) like-3s garlic-acc
The queen (doesn’t like)/likes garlic, doesn’t she?
Alyo žane de arbán, iy řo?
garlic come-3s from tree / or no
Garlic comes from a tree, right?
Řo ya ivrceo Čurmeim, iy ar?
no compl read-past-2s Čurmey / or yes
You haven’t read Čurmey, have you?
The second two sentences suggest that the speaker is not comfortable with their statement, positive or negative.

Tag questions are quite colloquial and should not be used in writing.

Finally, you can use the particle esce. To question the whole statement, place it at the front.

Esce so dalu ditave lenocsem?
Q the king like-3s blonde-p.acc
Does the king prefer blondes?
Esce can also be inserted directly before the element to be questioned.
So dalu ditave esce lenocsem?
the king like-3s Q blonde-p.acc
Is it blondes that the king prefers?
Alyo žane esce de arbán?
garlic come-3s Q from tree
Is it from trees that garlic comes?
To answer a yes/no question, you can use ar ‘yes’ or řo ‘no’. In place of ar, however, you can repeat the verb, or use a form of fassec ‘do that’.
Lelnei tot?
Did you see that?
—Lelnai.
see-past-1s
I did.
—Faššao.
do.that-1s
I did.
And in place of řo you can negate the verb or fassec:
—Řo lelnai.
I didn’t.

Interrogative questions

Interrogatives are fronted, as in English:
Ke boďne Ihanam?
who kick-past-3s Ihano-acc
Who kicked Ihano?
Ket boďne Ihano?
who-acc kick-past-3s Ihano-nom
Who did Ihano kick?
Kiom metnei im fakam?
what-acc put-past-2s in box-acc
What did you put in the box?
Až kion tombreu?
off what-dat fall-past-2s
What did you fall off of?
Kî malsfaom vule legua?
which barbarian want-3s soup-acc
Which barbarian wants soup?
Ktë zet prene so kenek Řanorán?
where refl-acc take-3s the camel-acc Rhânor-dat
Where do you take the camel to Rhãnor?
Prokio vulreu zer com mirtilen?
why want-past-2s pizza with blueberry-p.dat
Why did you order a pizza with blueberries?
If you have more than one interrogative, only one is fronted:
Ke läzne ktën?
who go-past-3s where-dat
Who went where?
English speakers should be careful about case:
  • use ke/kio for subjects, ket/kiom for direct objects, ken/kion for indirect objects
  • use ktë for location, ktën for destination, ktëi for source of movement
English uses its interrogatives as exclamations: How foolish! What fun! How beautiful she is! Don’t do this in Verdurian; instead use tal ‘such, so’: Tal nrüsk! Tal mísia! Tala beluana e!

Adverbials

The normal position for adverbs is right after the verb. English speakers should be careful with this, as we often place it at the end by default.
Raheli ivrice arastece so ivram alcedle.
Raheli read-past-3s careful-ly the-m.acc book-acc magic-gen
Raheli read the book of magic carefully.
You can move the adverb before the verb, or front it. It rarely occurs at the end.
→ Raheli arastece ivrice so ivram alcedle.

→ Arastece Raheli ivrice so ivram alcedle.

Single-word datives of time and place usually occur after the objects, but can be moved before them, or fronted:
Soa šadena lelne so ubir nočiín.
the-f knight saw-past-3s the-m.acc vampire-acc night-dat
The knight saw the vampire at night.
→ Soa šadena lelne nočiín so ubir.

→ Nočiín soa šadena lelne so ubir.

Prepositional phrases that modify the VP normally occur after the objects, but can be fronted.
Uvrum so akná pro šalean sfëzan.
open-past-1p the-m.acc window-acc for air-dat fresh-f.dat
We opened the window to get some fresh air.
→ Pro šalean sfëzan, uvrum so akná.
However, this is discouraged if the PP modifies an NP. It’s not ungrammatical, but it’s the sort of dislocation that is usually found only in rhetoric or poetry.
Pasetrum so nrüsk sur ciman.
visit-past-1p the-m.acc fool-acc on hill-dat
We visited the fool on the hill.
→ Sur ciman pasetrum so nrüsk.

Transformations

In the following sections, I’ll use some of the terminology of generative grammar— particularly the idea of transformations. You can think of these as things we can do to sentences to make new sentences.

We’ve already seen some of these. For instance, changing SVO to OVS, forming questions and negatives, and replacing NPs (or other things) with anaphora, are all transformations. The English passive is another example.

In many cases it’s convenient to posit an underlying form which is transformed; this underlying form may not be a “proper sentence”— that is, it doesn’t match surface structure. For instance, we can derive

John wants to go.
from an underlying
John wants [John go]
The brackets, by the way, are a convention to mark a subclause (or S). I could also draw this as a tree, but it would make the grammar far longer.

This may seem to introduce an ungrammaticality, but it actually simplifies what we need to explain. Go normally takes a subject; if the structure is really

John wants [to go]
we’d have to explain why go sometimes has a subject and sometimes doesn’t. We’d also have to explain why we understand that it’s John who’s going here. By writing
John wants [John go]
we solve both problems. “John go(es)” is a normal sentence with a normal subject. It’s also semantically satisfying: it does seem that meaning is that John wants something, and what he wants is that John goes. (He certainly doesn’t want just “going”.)

To produce the surface sentence, we supply a transformation that deletes the redundant John and inserts to.

The more you look, the more transformations you find. Here’s a particularly strange one from English:

[for X to please John] easy

→ It’s easy to please John.

→ John is easy to please.

For why it’s strange, let’s look at the corresponding sentence in Verdurian:
E fasíl pleran Ihanam.
be-3s easy please-inf Ihano-acc
It’s easy to please John.
We can’t do the second transformation (“John is easy to please”), because Ihanam is accusative! There’s no way in Verdurian to make this into a sentence about Ihano. Because John is not marked for case, it’s easy for it to be the subject of is and the object of please.

Another convention of generative grammar will be useful: incorrect sentences will be marked with an asterisk. (I’ll also de-bold them, because I don’t want you to skim the grammar and think they’re correct Verdurian!) So if I write this, I mean that the sentence is bad Verdurian:

*Ihano e fasíl pleran.
John is easy to please.
Finally, for the purpose of this grammar, the “underlying forms” provided here are only deep enough to help explicate the constructions at hand. I haven’t attempted to provide deep structures of a full theory. If your curiosity is piqued, however, see my Syntax Construction Kit!

Sentential arguments

We’re used to thinking of verb arguments as NPs or pronouns, but very often the subject or object is another sentence.

Sentential objects

The simplest way to do this in Verdurian is to use the subordinator dy ‘that’. We can leave out the that in English, but dy is required in Verdurian, except in a direct quotation.
Anëla miže [dy fuai salë múrtany].
Anëla say-past-3s [sub be.past-1s dirty-m múrtany]
Anëla said (that) I was a dirty múrtany.
Anëla miže, <Ei salë múrtany.>
Anëla say-past-3s / be-2s dirty-m múrtany
Anëla said, “You are a dirty múrtany.”
Vulu dy fäsrete.
want-1s sub leave-fut-3s
I wish he’d leave.

Sentential subjects

English is a little wary of sentential subjects, but Verdurian is not. For instance, this sentence sounds completely fine:
[Dy Ihano e ërece čiron] e otinimaše.
That Ihano be-3s really elephant be-3s probable
That Ihano is really an elephant is probable.
In both languages, we can back the subclause:
E otinimaše [dy Ihano e ërece čiron].
be-3s probable that Ihano be-3s really elephant
*Is probable that Ihano is really an elephant.
→ It’s probable that Ihano is really an elephant.
English requires one more step, the insertion of a dummy subject it. This is unnecessary and indeed incorrect in Verdurian. (Compare simpler sentences like Pluye “It’s raining.”)

In English, the first construction, with the sentential subclause in subject position, is limited to ‘be’ and a few more verbs (‘imply’, ‘follow’, ‘suggest’, etc.). In Verdurian about any verb of thinking or valuation works this way. E.g.:

Dy Ihano e ërece čiron parete.
sub Ihano be-3s really elephant be-3s probable
*That Ihano is really an elephant seems.
Dy soa sazë disne šuali doblädne soin belgosannon.
sub the-f prince hate-past-3s horse-pl.acc suit-past-3s the-m.p.dat general-p.dat
That the prince hated horses suited the generals.
The clause can also be backed:
Parete dy Ihano e ërece čiron.
It seems that Ihano is really an elephant.
Doblädne soin belgosannon dy soa sazë disne šuali.
It suited the generals that the prince hated horses.
As a general rule, anything that can be said, can be subordinated:
—Aaaaa!
—Kiom mižeo?
—Mižao dy Aaaaa!

“Aaaaah!” “What did you say?” “I said Aaaaah!”
Voyakî mižu dy ut tu ešele atabo.
soldier-p say-3p that (wish) impers be-cond-3s emperor
The soldiers say, if only you were emperor.
—E ďëfku cečel?
—Nkašai dy ar.

be-3s monster there / fear-1s that yes
“Is there a monster there?”
“I fear so.”

Serial verbs and Equi NP deletion

Many verbs can be followed by another verb. But it’s simpler to take this as a degenerate case of taking a sentential object. E.g., it’s evident that vulir ‘want’ can take an S:
Raheli vule [dy Ihano rälme].
Raheli want-3s sub Ihano cook-fut-3s
Raheli wants Ihano to cook.
So when we see
Ihano vule rälan.
Ihano want-3s cook-inf
Ihano wants to cook.
we can derive this from an underlying
Ihano vule [dy Ihano rälme].
Ihano want-3s sub Ihano cook-fut-3s
Ihano wants Ihano to cook.
The transformation here is called Equi NP Deletion— the “equivalent NP” Ihano in the subclause is deleted. (We also delete dy and turn the finite verb into an infinitive. Or perhaps the underlying form is already an infinitive.)

Now, a very small category of verbs seem to take a VP (verb phrase) as their object:

Ihano epe rälan.
Ihano can-3s cook-inf
Ihano can cook.
This has the same surface form as Ihano vule rälan, but the full-S form is not possible:
*Raheli epe [dy Ihano rälme].
*Raheli can Ihano cook.
In English ‘can’ is an auxiliary, with special rules— e.g. auxiliaries can be directly negated (“John can’t cook”) while ordinary verbs require Do-support (“John doesn’t cook”). But Verdurian has no auxiliaries; epan is just a regular verb, with a full range of forms:
Ihano vule epan rälan.
Ihano want-3s can-inf cook-inf
Ihano wants to be able to cook.
Esli Ihano epcele rälan, incurcele soem frälinem.
if Ihano can-cond-3s cook-inf / impress-cond-3s the-f.p.dat maiden-p.dat
If Ihano could cook, it would impress the ladies.
Are there any other syntactic differences between verbs like rälan (taking an S) and verbs like epan (taking a VP)? At least one: the first category can also take a nominalized S, the second can’t.
Raheli vule so rälát Ihanei.
Raheli want-3s the-acc cooking-acc Ihano-gen
Raheli wants Ihano’s cooking.
*Ihano epe so rälát zië.
*Ihano cans his cooking.
As we’ve seen, the infinitive can be used, along with its arguments (but no subject), in place of an NP:
[Lelen Žésifam] e [salďir so estát Caďinasei].
see-inf Žésifo be-3s feel-inf the-m.acc greatness-acc Caďinas-gen
To see Žésifo is to feel the greatness of Caďinas.
And after še, an infinitive is used where we would use the progressive, to say something about what the subject of the sentence was doing:
Še [ivrec so tom], so suloro ya zet suriluvne.
as read-inf the-m.acc volume / the monk compl refl-acc illuminate-past-3s
Reading the volume, the monk was enlightened.

Whether

You can also subordinate a clause using esce. This is of course the question particle, and esce S still means “Is it true that S?” It corresponds to English whether.
Řo šrifao esce Žendrom pasetre ërece soi syelauni.
no know-1s whether Genremos visit-past-3s really the-m.p.acc moon-p.acc
I don’t know whether Genremos really visited the moons.
(We can also use ‘if’ in such sentences; don’t use esli in this way in Verdurian.)

Nominalization

An S can be nominalized, with some simple rules:
  • the subject turns into a genitive
  • the object turns into a dative
  • adverbs turn into adjectives
Raheli rälne piďvolemece boumyasam.
Raheli cook-past-3s reluctant-ly beef-acc
Raheli reluctantly cooked beef.
piďvoleme rälát Rahelë boumyason
reluctant -m cooking Raheli-gen beef-dat
Raheli’s reluctant cooking of the beef

Other forms of subordination

English has quite a range of ways to subordinate an entire S:
I want him to come.
We waited for him to come.
We’re waiting for his coming.
That he arrives at all is unlikely.
We don’t know whether he will come.
He really surprised me by coming.
Destroying the city would be fun.
His destroying the city was not unexpected.
We expect the destruction of the city.
The range of options in Verdurian is far less:
finite clauses with dy
infinitive clauses
nominalizations
subordination
In particular, don’t try to use gerunds (as in destroying the city).

Relative clauses

Subordination using ke

Like English, Verdurian forms relative clauses using the interrogative pronouns. We can see this process as acting on an underlying full S.
Ihano žesglašne vetra so uestum domán zië.
Ihano invite-past-3s yesterday the-m.acc man-acc house-dat refl-gen
Ihano invited a man to his house yesterday.

→ so uestu [Ihano žesglašne vetra so uestum domán zië]
the man [Ihano invited the man to his house yesterday]

→ so uestu [Ihano ilet žesglašne vetra domán zië]
the man [Ihano invited him to his house yesterday]

→ so uestu ilet [Ihano žesglašne vetra domán zië]
the man him [Ihano invited to his house yesterday]

→ so uestu [ket Ihano žesglašne vetra domán zië]
the man [who(m) Ihano invited to his house yesterday]

So uestu [ket Ihano žesglašne vetra domán zië] ambre ralinem.
The man who Ihano invited to his house yesterda loves plays.

That is, the procedure is: move (or copy) the relativized noun in front of the S; replace it with a pronoun in its original location; move the pronoun to the front; replace it with a form of ke, or kio for inanimates.

Why do we think the pronoun is an intermediate step? Because you can leave it in, in Verdurian. An alternative form of the same sentence:

So uestu [ket Ihano ilet žesglašne vetra domán zië] ambre ralinem.
The man who Ihano invited to his house yesterday loves plays.
This is paralleled in dialectal forms of English: The man who John invited him to his house.

This allows some forms which would otherwise be impossible. E.g. in English, we can’t relativize a conjoint. Verdurian allows it, so long as a pronoun is left behind:

E so uestu [kë so piro besye esë e druk lë er Ihanei].
be-3s the man [who-gen the father girlfriend-gen I-gen be-3s friend he-gen and Ihano-gen]
*This is the man of whom my girlfriend’s father is a friend of Ihano and (him).
Be careful to use the right form of ke. We used ket above because the head noun (so uestu) is the object in the subclause. If it’s the subject, we use ke:
Soa redelcë vule adesan belgoma.
the-f woman want-3s become-inf warrior-f
The woman wants to become a warrior.

→ soa redelcë [ke vule adesan belgoma]
The woman [who wants to become a warrior]

Raheli yane soa redelcä [ke vule adesan belgoma].
Raheli admires the woman [who wants to become a warrior]

In the last sentence, note that soa redelcë becomes soa redelcä— it changes to accusative, because it’s the object of yane ‘admires’. But ke doesn’t change, because it’s part of the subclause. The rules are simple—
  • The head noun is declined according to its position in the main clause
  • The subordinator (here ke) is declined according to its position in the subclause
—but may not come naturally to English speakers, especially if they’re not quite sure how to use whom. However, once you’re used to the Verdurian accusative, this should be quite easy!

English allows the subordinator to be deleted: The woman Rachel admires. But you cannot delete ke (or other subordinators) in Verdurian.

If the subclause only contains the verb and a subject, there’s a tendency to back the NP:

so šadena ket lü Raheli
the knight-f who-acc love-3s Raheli
the knight that Raheli loves

Other subordinators

Kio ‘what’ is used when the head noun is not human:
Ihano rälne abžankece so ailuram [Alésia ilet amenne žesán].
Ihano cook-past-3s accident-ly the-m.acc cat-acc [Alésia he-acc bring-past-3s home-dat]
Ihano accidentally cooked the cat [Alésia brought it home].
→ Ihano rälne abžankece so ailuram [kiom Alésia amenne žesán].
Ihano cook-past-3s accident-ly the-m.acc cat-acc [what-acc Alésia bring-past-3s home-dat]
Ihano accidentally cooked the cat [that Alésia brought home].
(Gods, other species, and anthropomorphized animals use ke.)

Ktë ‘where’ relativizes places, e.g.

Tu maltrure so dom [ktë crešru].
impers destroy-past-3s the-acc house [where-nom grew-past-1s]
They destroyed the house where I grew up.
What’s the underlying form? We might expect it to be
Tu maltrure so dom [crešru im ilun]
They destroyed the house [I grew up in it]
This is possible, but the surface form for that is
Tu maltrure so dom [im kion crešru]
They destroyed the house [in which I grew up]
A better analysis is that there’s an intermediate transformation: im ilun becomes cečel ‘there’, which is what ktë relativizes. This fits in with the fact that if a pronoun is left behind, it’s cečel, not ilun:
Tu maltrure so dom [ktë crešru cečel].
*Tu maltrure so dom [ktë crešru im ilun].
Similarly, kiam ‘when’ relativizes vremya ‘then’:
Rašrum soán dënán [kiam piroi lë fueu im Vyatán (vremya)].
sex-past-1p the-acc day-dat [when father-p you.s-gen be.past-3s in Vyat-dat (then)]
We made love the day your parents were in Vyat.
If the head noun is fairly vacuous, like “the day”, it can be omitted:
Rašrum [kiam piroi lë fueu im Vyatán].
sex-past-1p [when father-p you.s-gen be.past-3s in Vyat-dat]
We made love when your parents were in Vyat.
The same applies to ktë, if the head noun is something vague like ‘the place’.
Onžanmai (so čel) [ktë crešru].
return-fut-1s (the place-acc) [where-nom grew-past-1s]
I will return to where I grew up.
Or perhaps we should say that these clauses simply require no head. There’s no other explanation for why we can use expressions with kiel ‘how’, prokio ‘why’, and kedimo ‘how much’ as arguments.
Řo šrifcao [kiel soî surî voitcu im tiplüba lë].
no know-1s how the-f.p mouse-p enter-past-3p in wig-acc you.s-gen
I don’t know how the mice got into your wig.
Tu řo epe tenec nikagdá [kedimo vule zerei].
impers no can-3s have-inf never how.much want-3s pizza-gen
You can never have as much pizza as you want.

Headless relatives

Verdurian allows headless relative clauses. These can be seen as a transformation that deletes a vague head (‘the person, the thing’).
Nëcto [ke zet desize] řo e kežul.
someone [who refl-acc quench-3s] no be-3s zealot
Someone who drinks is no zealot.
→ [Ke zet desize] řo e kežul.
Epei lelen so ctel [ke že]?
can-2s see-inf the-acc person-acc [who come-3s]
Can you see the person who’s coming?
→ Epei lelen [ke že]?
Esce skadretum ečomum [ket Gaiei skadre]?
Q punish-fut-1p student-acc [who-acc goddess.of.fate punish-past-3s]
Shall we punish a student whom Fate has punished?
→ Esce skadretum [ket Gaiei skadre]?
So ctel [ke ride dernece] řo cumprenne soa mizotá.
the person [who laugh-3s last-ly] no understand-past-3s the-f.acc joke-acc
The one who laughs last didn’t get the joke.
→ [Ke ride dernece] řo cumprenne soa mizotá.
Suppose you want to use this construction in the genitive or dative: I’ll give the ring to whoever asks. You try:
*Domai so anelam [ke presrete].
give-fut-1s the-m.acc ring-acc [who ask-fut-3s]
*I will give the ring who asks.
You can’t do it, because ke presrete can’t be placed in the dative. (This also prevents clarifying with ad.) Here you have to keep the vague head noun or pronoun:
Domai so anelam totán [ke presrete].
give-fut-1s the-m.acc ring-acc that.one-dat [who ask-fut-3s]
I will give the ring to the one who asks.

Indefinite referents

The relative clauses above refer to specific persons or things. If we’re not sure they exist, or if there may be a wide range of referents, this is signalled in two ways:
  • The head noun is not marked by so.
  • The verb in the subclause is conditional.
Compare:
Išam so uestum [ke sfahe eteodäola].
seek-1p the-m.acc man-acc [who speak-3s Eteodäole-acc].
We are looking for the man who speaks Eteodäole.
Išam uestum [ke sfahcele eteodäola].
seek-1p man-acc [who speak-cond-3s Eteodäole-acc].
We are looking for a man who speaks Eteodäole.
The first sentence definitely states that this man is known and exists; the second, that he may or may not exist.

If we leave the subclause in the realis, we have an intermediate or unmarked amount of definiteness. We are neither signaling that the man is a known entity, nor that we’ve quite unsure if he exists.

Išam uestum [ke sfahe eteodäola].
We are looking for a man who speaks Eteodäole.

Nonrestrictive clauses

Relative clauses may be restrictive or nonrestrictive. A restrictive clause is like a determiner (perhaps it is a determiner): it restricts the referents we’re talking about. E.g.:
so uestu [ke pasetre zaftra]
The man that visited yesterday
The subclause is essential for identifying the referent; we can’t just say so uestu. Compare:
Pasetru Ihanam, ke zet marime calon.
visit-past-1s Ihano-acc / who refl-acc marry-fut-3s Calo-dat
I visited Ihano, who is getting married in Calo.
This is non-restrictive: the subclause merely adds some information about Ihano and could have been left out.

There are two ways of emphasizing that a clause is restrictive:

First, replace ke/kio with dy. In this construction the pronoun must be left in.

Řo ambru so uestum [dy Raheli ilet ambre].
no like-1s the-m.acc man-acc [sub Raheli he-acc like-3s]
I don’t like the man that Raheli likes.
Second, insert tot ‘that one’ before ke/kio:
Řo ambru so uestum [tot ket Raheli ambre].
no like-1s the-m.acc man-acc [that.one sub Raheli he-acc like-3s]
I don’t like the man, the one that Raheli likes.
And there’s a way to emphasize that a clause is nonrestrictive: precede it with er ‘and’.
Pasetru Ihanam, er ke zet marime calon.
Visit-past-1s Ihano-acc / and who refl-acc marry-fut-3s Calo-dat
I visited Ihano, who is getting married in Calo.

Conditions

The use of esli ‘if’

If conditions follow the formula esli <condition>, <consequence>.

Prototypically, the condition is realis, the consequence irrealis:

Esli Mihel ilan marine, ila ešele lerežë.
if Mihel she-dat marry-past-3s / she be-cond-3s happy-f
If Mihel had married her, she would be happy.
Ac esli e Aďei, řo epcelo iler ceštan.
but if be-3s god-gen / no can-cond-2s it-acc overthrow-inf
But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it.
Note that English uses the perfect in the condition; Verdurian uses the simple realis, of whatever tense is appropriate for the event. E.g. if the event occurs in the future, use the future:
Esli Mihel ilan marime, ila ešele lerežë.
if Mihel she-dat marry-fut-3s / she be-cond-3s happy-f
If Mihel marries her, she will be happy.
The above sentences allow the uncertainty of the condition. If we want to emphasize that the condition is unlikely or impossible, it can be placed in the irrealis:
Esli lotka tencele siirom, ešele pavona.
if boat have-cond-3s wheel-p.acc / be-cond-3s wagon
If a boat had wheels, it would be a wagon.
Esli urs ešelai, ešelai urs sfahec.
if bear be-cond-1s / be-cond-1s bear talk-pres.part-m
If I were a bear, I'd be a talking bear.
Grammarians claim that the use of the conditional in the condition implies esli, so you can leave it out (Urs ešelal, urs sfahec ešelai). But this sounds rather literary.

Placing the consequence in the irrealis implies that there is at least some uncertainty. We can switch to the realis, which implies logical certainty. In this case, duya ‘then’ is necessary:

Esli ei Pelymei, duya řo ei Vyatei.
if be-2s Pelym-gen / then no be-2s Vyat-gen
If you’re from Pelym, then you’re not from Vyat.
Esli lädmei Žésifon, duya lelmei soa Šeíra soië ataboë.
if go-fut-2s Žésifo-dat / then see-fut-2s the-f.acc palace-acc the-m.p.gen emperor-p.gen
If you go to Žésifo, you will see the palace of the Emperors.
(It’s still not certain that you are from Pelym, or that you’ll go to Žésifo. But if these conditions are met, we’re saying that the consequences are certain. By contrast, in the very first example above, you can’t really hold it against us if the girl isn’t happy after marrying Mihel.)

The consequence may be an imperative. Here, whatever the likelihood of the condition, it must be in the irrealis:

Esli lelcelei Okron, badaireu. —Äaa!
if see-cond-2s Okron / scream-inf-2s / (scream)
“If you see Okron, scream.” “Aaaagh!”

Implied ‘if’

Sometimes the if condition is implied. In such cases the consequent is always irrealis:
Ešele tal dobre dalu!
be-cond-3s such-m good-m king
I would be such a good king [if I were one]!
Še šircaoran lë, maricelai soan žinan.
as situation-dat you.s-gen / marry-cond-1s the-f.dat girl-dat
[If I were] in your situation, I would marry the girl.
Řo badacelu ifkiel et važe.
no scream-cond-1s however I-acc hurt-3s
I wouldn't scream however much it hurt.

Comparatives

The full form of a comparative is
<comparator> <adjective> dy <comparison class>
The comparators are muďe ‘more’, muán ‘less’, and otál ‘as much as’. They are invariable adverbs. The comparison class is placed in the nominative for nouns, the accusative for pronouns.
Ci-pavona brunë e muďe ružë dy tot.
this-wagon brown-f be-3s more red-f sub that.one
This brown wagon is redder than that one.
Řo, miželao dy ce-pavona azurë e muán ružë dy eto.
no / say-cond-1s sub that-wagon blue-f be-3s less red-f sub this.one
No, I'd say that that blue wagon is less red than this one.
Graženomî! Niš řo e otál ruže dy ce-šual grize!
gentleman-p / nothing no be-3s as.much red-m sub that-horse gray-m
Gentlemen! Nothing is as red as that grey horse!
Sul Aď e otál mudray dy tü, dalu sen, er ya cečel řo sen e sënul.
only God be-3s as.much wise-m sub impers-acc / king I-dat / and even there no I-dat be-3s certain
Only God is as wise as you, my king, and even there I'm not certain.
The use of dy suggests that these have an underlying S, and in fact these can occur, though the adjective is stated only if it’s different.
Mália e muďe režnë dy sädra zië e ežcuda.
Mália be-3s more pretty-f sub sister refl-gen be-3s ugly-f
Mália is prettier than her sister is ugly.
When the comparison class is obvious, you can leave it out:
Ditavai Máliam, prokio e muďe režnë.
prefer-1s Mália-acc / because be-3s more pretty-f
I prefer Mália, because she’s prettier.
You can compare quantities as well, using the genitive:
Tenao muďe ivroë dy eř.
have-1s more book-p.gen sub you.s-acc
I have more books than you.

Superlatives

The formula for superlatives is
So <comparator> <adjective> is <comparison class>
Alaďea e soa muán škuašy is soen lelitsalen.
music be-3s the-f less silly-f out.of the-f.p.dat art-p.dat
Music is the least silly of the arts.
The comparison class may also be expressed using the plural genitive (without is):
Mália e soa muďe režnë atabeië.
Mália be-3s the-f more pretty-f empress-p.gen
Mália is the prettiest of the empresses.
Again, you can leave out the comparison class if it’s obvious.
Mália e soa muďe režnë.
Mália is the prettiest.

Fun with esan

Several transformations involve esan ‘be’.

Esan inversion

Any sentence of the form X (esan) Y can be inverted to Y (esan) X. This can’t always be done in English.
Ihano e estë brune urs.
Ihano be-3s great-m brown-m bear
Ihano is a great brown bear.
→ Estë brune urs e Ihano.
A great brown bear is Ihano.
Ihano e et.
Ihano be-3s I-acc
Ihano is me.
Et e Ihano.
*Me is John.

Existentials

Besides its use as a copula, esan can be used as an existential:
E malsfaom ne dverán.
be-3s barbarian at door-dat
There’s a barbarian at the door.
Eu ďinî čurî er calië im fakon.
be-3p three-f.p pear-p and asparagus-gen in box-dat
There are three pears and some asparagus in the box.
In the past tense, in this sense you use esne/esnu instead of fue/fueu.
Esne malsfaom ne dverán.
be-past-3s barbarian at door-dat
There was a barbarian at the door.
Esnu ce-ciín elutî serî.
be-past-3p that-epoch-dat virtuous-m.p male-p
In that epoch there were virtuous men.
There’s a related transformation: any argument X of a sentence can be fronted and focused with E X dy…
So uestu pasete so urs čilán dënán.
the man visit-3s the-m.acc bear-acc each-m.dat day-dat
The man visits the bear each day.
E uestu dy pasete so urs čilán dënán.
There’s a man who visits the bear each day.
E urs dy so uestu pasete čilán dënán.
There’s a bear that the man visits each day.
E čilán dënán dy so uestu pasete so urs.
It’s every day that that the man visits the bear.
As this is an existential construction, the past is esne.
Esne uestu dy pasetre so urs čilán dënán.
There was a man who visited the bear each day.
You can apply e dy to the sentence as a whole. This may not seem to mean much (“It’s that X is true”), but it can be useful. It applies a slight distancing effect.
Prokio so syel e azure? —E dy řo e verde.
why the sky be-3s blue-m / be-3s sub no be-3s green-m
“Why is the sky blue?” “It’s because it isn’t green.”
Presumably because of this softening effect, genteel speech uses e dy to soften requests or what would otherwise be impertinent observations or questions. This should be used rather than the conditional for such purposes.
E dy vulu caue.
be-3s sub want-1s coffee-gen
I would like some coffee.
E dy soa graženka e ana?
be-3s sub the-f miss be-3s single-f
Are you single by any chance?

Clefting

A similar transformation, Clefting, fronts an argument with e, replacing the rest of the sentence with a relative clause.
Ihano lelne vetra besya zië.
Ihano saw-past-3s yesterday girlfriend-acc refl-gen
Ihano saw his girlfriend yesterday.
→ E Ihano ke lelne vetra besya zië.
It’s Ihano who saw his girlfriend yesterday.
→ E besya zië ket lelne vetra Ihano.
It’s his girlfriend that Ihano saw yesterday.

Other transformations

Constituent dislocation

In colloquial speech, VSO order is almost always maintained, but constituents can be fronted or backed, leaving pronouns behind (except in subject position).
Frédrot Sevney vule pleran soi aďi.
Frédrot Sevney want-3s please-inf the-m.p.acc god-p.acc
Frédrot Sevney wants to please the gods.
→ Soi aďi, Frédrot Sevney cam vule pleran.
the-m.p.acc god-p.acc / Frédrot Sevney they-acc want-3s please-inf
The gods, Frédrot Sevney wants to please them.
→ Vule pleran soi aďi, Frédrot Sevney.
He wants to please the gods, Frédrot Sevney (does).
Prusin, ilan marine cečel, Abend, Rahelin.
inn-dat / she-dat marry-past-3s there / Abend-nom / Raheli-dat
At the inn, he got married to her there, Abend and Raheli.
In the last example, note that the constituents retain their correct cases. However, in urban speech this is not always true. This usage arose among immigrants who perhaps did not know all the right forms, but has spread to the native population:
Pruso, ilan marine cečel, Abend, Raheli.
inn-nom/ she-dat marry-past-3s there / Abend-nom / Raheli-nom
At the inn, he got married to her there, Abend and Raheli.

Deletions

There are various transformations that eliminate redundant material.
Sluicing
All but the interrogative can be deleted from an S, if the rest of the sentence is identical to the main clause.
Tu šutne šerä im nuvan esë, er vulu šricao [ke šutne šerä im nuvan esë].
Someone spilled beer in my bed, and I want to know who spilled beer in my bed.
→ Tu šutne šerä im nuvan esë, er vulu šricao ke.
impers spill-past-3s beer-acc in bed-dat I-gen / and want-1s know who
Someone spilled beer in my bed, and I want to know who.
Gapping
If conjoined sentences share an object, the first identical object can be deleted.
Keadau sätne soi toromi Atabei, er Ervëa cumpožne soi toromi Atabei.
Keadau established the institutions of the Empire, and Ervëa perfected the institutions of the Empire.
→ Keadau sätne, er Ervëa cumpožne, soi toromi Atabei.
Keadau build-past-3s and Ervëa perfect-past-3s the-m.p.acc part-p.acc Empire-gen
Keadau established, and Ervëa perfected, the institutions of the Empire.
In Verdurian you can delete the second O instead; this doesn’t work in English, though it can be corrected by adding a pronoun.
→ Keadau sätne soi toromi Atabei, er Ervëa cumpožne.
*Keadau established the institutions of the Empire, and Ervëa perfected.
Stripping
More miscellaneous identical components can be deleted.
Brigai ďëfkom ši-dënán, ac řo brigai ďëfkom ši-dënán cum cuyon.
I fight monsters every day, but I don’t fight monsters every day with a spoon.
Brigai ďëfkom ši-dënán, ac řo cum cuyon.
fight-1s monster-p.acc every-day-dat / but no with spoon-dat
I fight monsters every day, but not with a spoon.

Negative raising

A řo from a sentential argument may be moved to the main clause:
Ašu dy Ihano řo žanme iž nerondenán.
think-1s sub Ihano no come-fut-3s before Néronden-dat
I think that Ihano won’t come till Néronden.
→ Řo ašu dy Ihano žanme iž nerondenán.
I don’t think that Ihano will come till Néronden.
Curiously, other negative words don’t come along:
Ašu dy Ihano řo žanme nikagdá.
think-1s sub Ihano no come-fut-3s never
I think that Ihano will never come.
→ Řo ašu dy Ihano žanme nikagdá.
I don’t think that Ihano will ever come.
(In English, this transformation requires changing ‘never’ to ‘ever’. But nikagdá is unchanged in Verdurian.)

Pronoun hopping

Colloquially, pronouns have a tendency to migrate before the finite verb. (This is discouraged in formal writing.)
Vulu ilun sfahen.
→ Ilun vulu sfahen.
he-dat want-1s speak-inf
I want to speak to him.
Compare Spanish Quierlo hablarle → Le quiero hablar.

Že-clefting and raising

This is similar to clefting, but uses žanen ‘come’, and has the meaning “It happens that…” or “It turns out that…”
Abend marine Susanan. → Že dy Abend marine Susanan.
Abend marry-past-3s Susana-dat / come-3s sub Abend marry-past-3s Susana-dat
Abend married Susana. → It turns out Abend married Susana.
It’s possible to raise the underlying subject (but not any object) to the main clause:
→ Abend že dy marine Susanan.
Abend come-3s sub marry-past-3s Susana-dat
Abend turns out to have married Susana.
One curiosity of Že dy: you can’t use it with intransitive statives (those marked vi Pt in the dictionary): *Že dy dembeu “I turn out to exist.”

Semantic fields

Polite expressions

In this section I’ve used le. You should know by now when and how to change it to mu or tu.

Greetings

One Verdurian grammarian has claimed, Esli šrifao kiel tu emayeo, duya šrifao ktëi žes. “If I know how you greet people, I know where you are from.” This is not far off: greeting styles vary by region and class. I’ll cover only the common ways of speaking in Verduria city. The polite way to greet someone is by wishing them a good day:
Dobre utro. / Dobrë šueza. / Dobre vëčer.
Good morning. / Good afternoon. / Good evening.
(If you’re still up at night, you still say Dobre vëčer.)

If you’re the laconic type, you can mutter or omit the dobre. But this would be quite disrespectful toward a superior.

With people you know, you can venture Emai ‘Hello’ instead.

Ave ‘hail!’ is a tad more formal. It’s suitable for greeting strangers, or for people you havent seen in awhile. In formal situations, you will want to address someone by title or honorific, and lay on the obsequiousness.

Estát lë, emayao er lukai.
greatness you.s-gen / greet-1s and bow-1s
Milord, I greet you and bow to you.
When the other person has repeated your greeting, you ask them how they are. This is purely formal: you are not expressing curiosity, and everyone will always be doing fine. Typically:
—Kiel len bože? —Bože, dëkuy, er len? — Lyö dobrece.
how you.s-dat fare-3s / fare-3s thanks and you.s-dat / very well
“How are you doing?” “Well, thank you, and you?” “Very well.”
With intimates this can be simplified:
—Kiel läde? —Řo et feyai.
How go-3s / no I-acc complain-1s
“How’s it going?” “I can’t complain.”
With close friends you can be jocular:
—Esce bo’? —Kiel řo?
Q fare / how no
“What’s up?” “Nothin’.”
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’d use formulas like these:
Lereže eř rëcen. / Muďe lereže se.
happy you.s-acc meet-inf / more happy I
Pleased to meet you. / The pleasure is mine.
Devec lë. / Kiel eř epai snucan?
debtor you.s-gen / how you.s-acc can-1s serve-inf
At your service. / How can I serve you?

Other polite expressions

Urave. / Dëkuy. / E niš.
Please. Thank you. You’re welcome.
Et ďiloranei. / Pyeru.
I.acc forgive-inf-2s / regret-1s
Excuse me. / I’m sorry.
Ad onlelán. / Esme fruece. / Ravec fue.
To reseeing-dat / be-fut-3s early-ly / delightful be.past-3s
Goodbye. See you soon. It’s been a pleasure.
Kiel eř nomei? — Et nomai Ihano.
How you.s-acc name-2s / I-acc name-1s Ihano
What’s your name? / My name is Ihano.

Kinship terms

In Lewis Morgan’s terms, Verdurian has an Eskimo system (like English) which can be clarified into a Sudanese system.

Direct descent

Direct descent
m f meaning
predavo predava great- grandparents
avo ava grandparents
piro mira parents
baraďu sâdra siblings
meď meca son/daughter
nepo nepa grandchildren
Indirect descent
avulo avula great-uncle/aunt
onavulo onavula great-uncle's children
kuzulo kuzula 2nd cousin (avulo's grandson)
vlay vlaya uncle/aunt
kuzo kuza cousins
nemo nema nephew/niece
By marriage
maris cira spouse
bopiro süra mother-in-law
bomeď nora son-, daughter-in-law
ulëc ulëca brother-, sister-in-law

Prefixes

Prefixes are used for more precision.

bo: in-law

There are suppletive terms for some in-laws, as shown above. In general, bo + X identifies someone who has married family member X (of the opposite sex). For ancestors, though, bo + X means your spouse’s X: your boavo is your spouse’s avo.

an- Eldest

The eldest among siblings. Commonest is ammeď ‘eldest son’, but your anvlay can be important, as he’s the head of the family if he’s older than your father and your grandfather is dead.

Mi maternal, pi paternal

These indicate whether the family member is on the mother’s or father’s side. Thus pivlay ‘father’s brother’, miava ‘mother’s mother’, pikuzo ‘cousin on the father’s side’.

ba fraternal, so sororal

These indicate descent from your brother or sister. Thus banemo ‘brother’s son’, sanema ‘sister’s daughter’.

leb step-

Used for relatives by remarriage: lebmira ‘stepmother’, lebbaraďu ‘half-brother’.

on- child of

This is sometimes used productively: e.g. onnepo ‘great-grandson’, onkuzo ‘child of a cousin’, onnemo ‘great-nephew’.

Notes

Remote ancestors are numbered: your great-great-grandfather is your ftore predavo, and so on. Unless you’re a genealogy freak or a royal, you can content yourself with predavo for great-grandfathers and above, and indeed your predavoi are your ancestors in general.

If necessary, your great-grandson is your ftore nepo, and so on. (Of course you’d actually say onnepo, but his son is your tvere nepo.)

The prefixes are never necessary— if you want to refer to your onavulo as avulo, that’s fine. (But the suppletive in-law forms must be used. Your wife’s mother cannot be mira; she’s always süra.)

In ordinary usage you don’t stack prefixes, though this may be done by genealogists.

The English kinship system can be extended laterally— sixth cousin twice removed— though no one will understand it if you do. The Verdurian system cannot. (Ftore kuzulo can be used, but it means ‘son of a kuzulo’, not ‘third cousin’.) Anyone further out in your own generation is a kuzulo. Indeed, in a large enough clan most people will be kuzuloi; thus the term for ‘extended family’, soa kuzulora.

Time

Telling time

The Verdurian day has 24 hours (horî) and begins at dawn (solial). Thus:
E kî hora? What time is it?
E solial. 0h It’s dawn. = 6 a.m.
E ana hora. 1h It’s one. = 7 a.m.
E ďinî horî. 3h It’s three. = 3 a.m.
E decsués horî. 16h It’s 16. = 10 p.m.
The older system was to number the hours from eldën ‘noon’, zakát ‘sunset’, or elnočy ‘midnight’.
E ana hora šueze. 1h-š It’s one in the afternoon. = 1 p.m.
E ďunî horî nočii. 1h-v It’s one in the night. = 7 p.m.
E par horî utrei. 1h-u It’s one in the morning. = 4 a.m.
(Wait, 1h-v? The v is for vëčerei, which has probably been replaced by nočii because it’s shorter.)

The megua is 1/12 of an hour (i.e. 5 minutes), and the piya is 1/100 of the megua (i.e. 3 seconds). Half and quarter meguî are also used. Thus:

10hm dec horî er muatë 4:30 p.m.
9h9 dec horî muán bargë 3:45 p.m.
10h3 dec horî er bargë 4:15 p.m.
6h1 sues horî ana 12:05 p.m.
5h11 pan horî dežán 11:55 p.m.
= sues horî muán ana
2h7,20 ďunî horî hep er dvadec 8:36 p.m.
Almea’s day is actually a little less than half an hour longer than ours— that is, 2% longer. As this is barely even perceptible I’ve ignored it in giving equivalents.

Days of the week

The week (hepdën) is made up of seven days, dedicated to natural objects or gods:
day named for
scúreden the country
širden Išira, goddess of light
fidren Fidra, goddess of the night
calten Caloton, god of the sun
zëden the sea (or Ažirei its goddess)
néronden Nečeron, god of craft and markets
ceďnare Enäron, chief of the gods
Verdurians typically work six days and have ceďnare off. They also have néronden morning off every other week— originally, to go to market.

Worshippers of Eleď refer to ceďnare as sabato.

The year

The Almean year is a bit over 328 days, and begins with the spring equinox. A leap-day, kasten, comes every 5th year, except in those divisible by 300. (The 300-year rule has only been applied once, in 3300. Before then, the pagan hierarchy would adjust the year when the summer solstice came more than a day early or late.)
month #days meaning season
olašu 27 beginning demeča spring
reli 27 sowing
cuéndimar 28 festival
vlerëi 28 a planet esta summer
calo 27 heat
recoltë 28 harvest
yag 27 hunt peleti fall
želea 27 calm
išire 28 a planet
šoru 27 dark iveri winter
froďac 27 cold wind
bešana 28 promise
The planets Išire and Vlerëi are the brightest in Almea’s sky. The other month names are more descriptive of the seasons in the south of Eretald. In Verduria itself the growing season lasts from olašu to yag and one can often raise two crops.

Other time expressions

In Verdurian, age is something you ‘have’ (tenec):
Kedimo zoni tenei? How old are you?
Tenao dvadecďín zoni. I am 23 years old.
Ředao dy tene decsués zoni. I believe he’s 23 years old.
Londrot Täl, še 23 zonî. Londrot Täl, age 23.
Řo tencom sul 16 zoni. We were only sixteen.
To express how long ago something happened, use esan:
E ďinî dënî.
It was threee days ago.
This construction, though it’s a full sentence, acts like an adverbial and can be added to another sentence.
Trounerai so Sannam esne ana hora.
find-past.ant-3s the-m.acc lord-acc be-past.3s one-f hour
I had found the Lord one hour before.
E an hepdën dy Frédrot creže ne prusin Frédrotei.
be-3s one-m week sub Frédrot eat-3s at bar-dat Frédrot-gen
For one week Frédrot has been eating at Fred’s Bar.

Weather

Verbs relating to weather are impersonal (without even a dummy subjet): belfassec ‘be fair’, pluyer ‘rain’, neyžen ‘snow’.
Belfašše, ac vremë pluyre.
be.fair-past-3s / but then rain-3s
It was nice out, but then it rained.
Other expressions of weather use žanen ‘come’:
—Kiel že? —Že froe.
how come-3s / come-3s cold
“How’s the weather?” “It’s cold.”

Pragmatic particles

Many of these are what old grammars called “interjections”, and struggled to define. They generally have a pragmatic rather than a semantic function— that is, they are used to manage the conversation: take turns, hold the floor, signal dispreferred responses, and so on. I’ve also included those that express emotion in a lexicalized way.

I’ve given an English equivalent or two, but don’t take those very seriously.

Ec – hey! — Interrupts, asks for the floor, changes topics. Attracts attention from afar, in a humble way (compare ey).

Ec! Mižu eta cavî i Erruk?
interj / speak-3p about cellar-p of Erruk
Excuse me; are you talking about the dungeons of Erruk?
Ä – ah, oh — Pays attention; noncomitally acknowledges an answer or observation. Expresses surprise, fear, or pleasure. Often prolonged (Ää...); if calm, this expresses a firm avoidance of comment.
—Cira lë e žaye. —Äa.
wife you.s-gen be-3s cute-f / interj
“Your wife is a fox.” “Ah.”
Nu – so – Changes topic; gets back on track; challenges someone on relevancy. Often expresses “So what?” or “What do you think?”
…er miže, <Dvadec falî, com mažtanan!> …Nu, eta so hecu Aďei.
and say-past-3s / twenty silver-p like town-dat / interj about the nature god-gen
“…and said, ‘Twenty bucks, same as in town!’ …Anyway, back to the nature of God.”
—Viminî eu glupî. —Er nu?
Viminian-p be-3p stupid-p / and interj
“Viminians are stupid.” “Yeah, so?”
Ö – uh, er — Holds the floor; covers a momentary lack of words. Marks dispreferreds.
E dy vulu šrifec… ö… žusu zdesy… ö… esce zet žuse… ö… lanika žusnë?
be-3s sub want-1s know-inf / um / sell-3s here / un / Q refl-acc sell-3s / un / underwear lace-gen
I would like to know, um, they sell here, um, do you sell, um, lace underwear?
Niš – OK, fine — Agrees with an idea and moves on. Gets past momentary pauses or embarrassments. Accompanies a correction.
Niš, kaiam proše?
interj / do.what-1p next
OK, what do we do next?
Ay – ouch – Expresses pain or remorse. May be prolonged (Aaay). In a normal tone, expresses mild disapproval.
—Lelenei, grimmai lapis is šapan! — Ay, ce-žou nikagdá řo beže.
see-inf-2s / pull-fut-1s rabbit-acc from hat-dat / interj that-trick never no function-3s
“Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” “Oh, that trick never works.”
Ča – well – Resumes after a digression or interruption; emphasizes the truth of an unlikely story. Ending a turn, asks for enthusiasm or agreement.
Vuleu emec ci-carďä, ča?
want-2s buy-inf this-sword-acc interj
You’d like to buy this sword, huh?
Ey – ho! Hey! – Calls attention or points out an error. Expresses confidence or annoyance.
Ey, desidero šekešan, eu otrî kaë vižiu.
interj order-inf-2p finally / be-3p other-p who-p wait-3p
Hey, order already, there’s other people waiting.
Uy – oh – Empathizes or consoles. Expresses disgust, surprise, shame.
Uy, esli maris esë fašše, ilet kekcelai.
interj if husband I-gen do.that-3s / he-acc kill-cond-1s
Oy, if my husband did that, I’d kill him.
We’d might as well cover profanities here too.

The strongest are religious: ab Calton! ‘by Caloton!’ ab Aďán! ‘by God!’ These are of course short for a full vow:

Proetao ab Mëranacán dy nizenmai uazam lë.
vow-1s by Mëranac-dat sub avenge-fut-1s bird-acc you.s-gen
I swear by Mëranac that I will avenge your bird.
Somehow it’s more serious to swear by a god’s body parts— ab krofán Caltei! ‘by the blood of Caloton!’ This produces the very common kroďi (from krof aďië ‘blood of the gods’). It’s also more serious to curse (proklir) rather than vow (proetec).

There’s also čuza ‘shit’, futaš ‘fuck’. These are strong enough that you’ll often hear the genteelisms čuma ‘plague’, fužul ‘dark’, or taboo-deformations čosa, furaš.

Dialects

The map above shows both the dialects of Verdurian and neighboring languages. The different yellow colors are an attempt to show distance from Mažtane, the dialect of Verduria city. Orange indicates other Central languages.

Non-linguists greatly overestimate the importance of the language/dialect distinction. About all linguists will say is that dialects should be mutually intelligible, but even this should be considered a heuristic, not a strict principle. Intelligibiity may be affected by exposure, may be one-sided, and may exist in a continuum from full to no understanding.

There is also a clear political aspect to both. Barakhinei, Ismaîn, and Sarroc are associated with long-standing states (Barakhún, Ismahi, Sarnáe). Verdurian can be seen as the language of the central Svetla corridor from Verduria-city to Žésifo, an area which has frequently been united politically, and has cultural reasons not to diverge too much. The southern areas have not, in general, developed strong national identities that might have contributed to forming separate languages.

Dialects are almost never written as such: most of the Verdurian-speaking area writes, when it writes at all, in Mažtane— although in the far south, the pre-reform spelling is still used. (The Abolinerons required Ctésifon to use the reformed spelling when they ruled it, 3304-58.)

Note: the dialect descriptions in the old grammar are extremely outdated. They will be replaced with descriptions on Almeopedia.

Samples

This is only a sampling of the Verdurian texts available.

1. Effect/Countereffect • Subrel i aksubrel

This is a story about magic. This passage introduces a magician, and sketches the disdain and fear in which magicians are held.
Esne lial im soán ďitelán, er peren fuaín zet lelne Zeirdan.
be.past-3s rise in the-dat road-dat / and first-m.dat time-dat refl-acc see-past-3s Zeirdan.
There was a rise in the road, and for the first time Zeirdan came into view.
So veturec kešašdone pro ilet rihan.
the traveler pause-past-3s for he-acc look-inf
The traveler paused to look it over.
Ne ci-čelán řo fue sul ošora žofië er goratië kaë kašlelnu ir epesen letuen.
at this-place-dat no be.past-3s only heap roof-p.dat and tower-p.dat who-p peek-past-3s over thick-f.p.dat wall p.dat
From this distance it was only a jumble of roofs and towers peeking out over heavy walls.
Irestî fsën fueu so aďnáe Ažireë, er so řuk sazëi, com znuren fificen zië azurei er ořei.
supreme-p all-dat be.past-3p the temple Ažirei-gen / and the castle prince-gen / with flag-p.dat flying-f.p.dat blue-gen and gold-gen
Dominating all of them were the high tower of Ažirei’s temple, and the castle of the Prince, with blue and gold banners flying.
Tras soan mažtanan esne soa zië; řo zet lelne ne zdesín, ac esne yela selei in šalean.
beyond the-f.dat city-dat be-past-3p the-f sea / no refl-acc see-past-3s at here-dat / but be.past-3s idea salt-gen in air-dat
Beyond the city was the sea; it could not be seen from here, but there was a hint of salt in the breeze.
Zeirdan fue muďe piďë ce-zonin, ac eššane otál muďe orgölse, prokena esne iž dy Ánabar Sanno er Ašeli Saza zam lelnu, er soa Sazë řo orayne sul soin aďin.
Zeirdan be.past-3s more small-f that-year-p / but perhaps thus more proud-f / because be-past-3s before sub Ábabar lord and Ašeli princess refl.p-acc see-past-3p / and the-f prince no serve-past-3s only the-m.p.dat god-p.dat
Zeirdan was smaller in those days, but perhaps prouder; for Lord Ánabar and the Princess Ašeli had not yet laid eyes on each other, and the Prince answered to none but the gods.
—Až ban, le, ab Calton, řurce femë vuá. Agbaneu so ďitel.
away road-acc / you.s / by Caloton-dat / snarl-past-3s rough-f voice / block-2s the road-acc
“Get out of the way there, by Calto,” snarled a rough voice. “You’re blocking the road.”
Esne yari šučië.
be-past-3s sound pig-p.get
There was a sound of pigs.
So veturec zet orivne lelen pavona hutoromei ab uolán, com ďinen iy par bolyášen šučen še sešuen nasçuran lië.
the traveler refl-acc turn-past-3s see-inf wagon-acc farmer-gen using ox-dat / with two-p.dat or four big-f.p.dat pig-p.dat at heavy-f.dat burden-dat 3s-gen
The traveler turned around, to see a peasant’s ox-drawn cart, heavily laden with three or four large hogs.
So hutorom ilu siça prosne co soan pavonan.
the farmer he progr walk-past-3s along the-f.dat wagon
The peasant himself was walking alongside.
So veturec prosne čima cotán ďitelei.
the traveler walk-past-3s pace-acc side-dat road-gen
The traveler stepped to the side of the road.
Dezike prezure, so hutorom ulelne soa sutana lië, er ufëa zië ďeltne.
while pass-past-3s / the farmer notice-past-3s the-f.acc robe-acc 3s-gen / and face refl-gen change-past-3s
As he passed, the peasant noticed his robes, and his face changed.
—Pyeru, pyeru, papapre. Řo prennai ke ei...
sorry / sorry / murmur-past-3s / no take-past-1s who be-2s
“Sorry, I’m sorry,” he murmured. “Didn’t see who you were...”
—E sešue nasitel. Eššane epai len colapren tižuy.
be-3s heavy-m cargo / perhaps can-1s you.s-dat help-inf somehow
“That’s a heavy load. Perhaps I could help you somehow.”
—Řo, urave, miže so hutorom, žombrelse. Řo e niš. Řo vulu tü genir. Ad onlelán.
no / please / say-past-3s the farmer / scared / no be-3s nothing / no want-2s impers-acc bother-inf / to reseeing-dat
“No, please,” said the peasant, looking alarmed. “It’s nothing. Don’t want to disturb you. Goodbye.”
Er šesne tibec soán uolán zië ifkiel epne.
and cause-past-3s hurry-inf the-m.dat ox-dat refl-gen however can-past-3s
And he hurried his ox on as best as he could.
So veturec ilet rihne, com piďan rizin ne ufëan zië.
the traveler he-acc watch-past-3s / with small-f.dat smile-dat at face-dat refl-gen
The traveler looked after him, with a half-smile on his face.
Proše prenne so mišek cuplë kio curce tësä ziëca lië, er prosne fasadán.
Then take-past-3s the bag-acc canvas-gen what hold-past-3s all-f.acc possession-acc 3s-gen / and walk-3s front-dat
Then he picked up the canvas bag that contained his earthly possessions, and marched on.

2. The wager • So zaklát

From the Racontî verdúrî ženei (Verdurian folk stories), collected and retold by Icovo Mirtíy, and published in 3262.

The use of the present tense is typical of such fables. Verdurian writers are not so wedded to the past tense as we are. Note the frequent use of dénuo to indicate habitual action over time.

A bardinó is a wild carnivore similar to our coyote. It’s a clever animal and greatly admired by Verdurians. Guryon is a masculinized and augmented form of gurë ‘lion’.

Bardinó er Guryon voitu im zaklatán lelen ke epe so muďe fasilece adesan dalum. Cummižu fäsir so zaklát apros pan zonin, er ši-zonán onrëcen.
coyote and lion enter-3s in bet-dat see-inf who can-3s the more easy-ly become-inf king-acc / agree-3s exit-inf the bet-acc after five year-p.dat / and every-year-dat meet-inf
Coyote and Lion made a wager to see who could most easily become a king. They agreed to meet once a year, and to end the contest after five years.
Bardinó proše divee scura er ilat veture, er rëce dénuo žen lië; yage cum Barsucán, er egule cum Arasnin, er tëcize er moleze cum Maršon.
coyote then choose-past-3s country-acc and she-acc travel-3s / and meet-3s people-acc 3s-gen / hunt-3s with badger-dat / and weave-3s with spider-dat / and hammer-3s and saw-3s with beaver-3s
Coyote then chose a country and travelled over it, and met its people; he hunted with Badger, and wove sweaters with Spider, and hammered and sawed with Beaver.
Pronun Guryon, ab mužon zië er řavican, abbose imlädan céšuaš belgomië, šualsannoi sur pakán kentán.
meanwhile lion / using roar-dat refl-gen and courage-dat / succeed-3s join-inf tribe-acc warrior-p.gen / horse-lord-p on near-m.dat plateau-dat
Meanwhile Lion, by means of his roar and his courage, succeeded in joining a tribe of warriors, horsemen on a nearby steppe.
Ftoren zonán Bardinó činece dénuo ečom pro imbeman dasculoin hicetevisam, alaďea, Caďinam, aluatas, eyurcrivát, plesčura, kestora, er lätát; er mušî caë divre peran fuaín ivrec er crivan, er oteran Aď.
second-m.dat year-dat coyote manage-3s prog school-ac for teach-inf animal-dim-p.dat mathematics-acc music-acc Caďinor-acc grammar-acc rhetoric-acc history-acc philosophy-acc and athletics-acc / and many-p they-gen learn-3p first-m.dat time-dat read-inf and write-inf and know-inf god-acc
The second year Coyote ran a school to teach the young animals mathematics, music, Caďinor, grammar, rhetoric, history, natural philosophy, and athletics; and many of them learned for the first time how to read and write, and to know God.
Guryon ci-tëmpon ya creže Urs, so šofom céšuašei lië, er prene nivam lië; ilet nkašu dénuo mil dascoi.
lion this-time-dat compl eat-3s bear-acc / the chief tribe-gen 3s-gen / and take-3s level-acc 3s-gen / he-acc fear-3s progr thousand animal-p
Lion at this time ate Bear, the chief of his tribe, and took his place; a thousand animals now feared him.
—Ečomoro? cuese Guryon drukán zië. Esce suzanei, dy eseyum adesan dalom?
schoolteacher / ask-3s liion friend-dat refl-gen / Q remember-2s / sub try-1p become-inf king-acc
"Schoolmaster?" asked Lion of his friend. "Do you remember that we're trying to become kings?"
—Otál le řo ei dalu, mis lef. Vižienam.
also you.s no be-3s king / say-3s wolf / wait-inf-1p
Note: lef is loosely used for bardinó for variety.
"You aren't a king either," said the other. "We'll see what happens."
Ac prošan zonán ërece Guryon ya adese dalum; duise céšuaš zië ab monin venceon ir dernén dalun, esten Čironán.
but next-m.dat year-dat / really lion compl become-3s king / lead-3s tribe-acc refl-gen with brilliant-m.dat victory over last-m.dat king-dat / great-m.dat elephant-dat
But the next year Lion, in fact, did become a king: he led his tribe to a brilliant victory over the last king, a great Elephant.
Cupe cum zen šefomi fäsulië céšuašië im nižyát: Čucul, Lefa, Örn, Lupek, Giuro.
box-3s with refl-dat chief-p.acc other-m.p.gen tribe-p.gen in submission-acc / leopard wolf-f eagle fox stallion
He personally boxed the other tribal leaders into submission-- Leopard, She-Wolf, Eagle, Fox, Stallion.
Nenén zonán Bardinó er druk zië Top ya tróuu lebem žuim méunen kio imcrešme irďimom po muaten, er veturu dénuo soa scura pro ilet imbeman soán ženán.
same-m.dat year-dat coyote and friend refl-gen mole compl find-3p new-m.acc way-acc plow-inf what increase-fut-3s yield-acc by half-dat / and travel-3s progr the-f.acc country-acc for he-acc teach-inf to-m.dat people-dat
The same year Coyote and his friend Mole discovered a new way to plow that increased one's yield by half, and travelled the land to teach it to the people.
Ti-kuna ilat ingrime Bardinó ozë, ac ilat doršete saten maladnáa.
some-money-acc she-acc receive-3s coyote thus / but she-acc spend-3s buiild-inf hospital-acc
Coyote got some money from this, but he spent it to establish a hospital.
—Nun ai Dalu, mis soa gurë. Permizao, dy činecteo ivrora?
now be-3s king / say-3s the-f lion / suppose-1s sub manage-fut-2s library-acc
"Now I am a King," said the great cat. "I suppose you'll become a bookseller now?"
—Ašcelu dy řo, mis Bardinó. Řo tenao diďam.
think-cond-1s sub no / say-3s coyote / no have-1s time-acc
"I think not," said Coyote. "I don't have the time."
Ya e dénuo fascotene četven zonán. E nabro i felnavira kio tësiše urzem scurem er zëem, er bolem opon ilet amene žesán.
indeed be-3s progr busy-m fourth-m.dat year-dat / be-3s captain of sail-ship what explore-3s strange-f.p.acc country-p.acc and ese-p.acc / and much-m.acc wealth-acc he-acc bring-3s home-dat
Indeed, he was very busy the fourth year. He captained a sailing ship that explored strange lands and seas, and brought back much wealth.
Ab torán zië, sate hižena domië, er cam done licrem.
using part-dat refl-gen / build-3s row-acc house-p.dat / and they-acc give.past-3s poor-p.acc /
With his own share he built a row of houses, and gave them to the poor.
Laže inclaesa prokena isvärece desi Lapisi er Egusfer is furnáen tšurecan.
gain-3s fame-acc because rescue-3s some-p.acc rabbit-p.acc and hedgehog from theater-dat burning-f.dat
He got some reknown by saving some Rabbits and a Hedgehog from a burning theater.
And eto tu ilet nome še Ovnelon.
for this imper he-acc name-3s at judge-dat
As a result of this, he was named a Judge.
Guryon otál e fascotene. Imrete naž zië ir perä kent, er imcuče er vence tësem scurem mažtanulem, ac tot Bardinei.
lion also be-3s busy-m / extend-3s realm-acc refl-gen over whole-m.acc plateau-acc / and invade-3s and conquer-3s all-f.p.dat country-p.dat civilized-f.p.dat / but that-acc coyote-gen
Lion was also busy. He extended his realm over the whole steppe, and invaded and conquered all of the civilized lands except Coyote's.
—Lelei dy ai nun Elordalu er Atabo, mis Bardinón. Prokio ya řo spureo? Zaklát taë e salädul!
see-2s sub be-1s now realm-king and emperor / say-3s coyote-dat / why indeed no give.up-2s / wager we-gen be-3s exited-m
Note: elordalu is the modern word for Emperor, atabo the Caďinor.
“You see I am now an Emperor and King of Kings,” he said to Coyote. “Why not just give up? Our wager is over!”
—Pan zonî, mis guren. Esli suvei soa ďayem, Guryon, ilat suvmei otál apros zonán, řo e?
five year-p / say-3s lion-dat / if follow-2s the-f.acc true-acc / lion / she-acc follow-fut-2s also after year-dat / no be-3s
“Five years,” said Coyote. “If you're right, you'll be just as right a year from now.”
Guryon cummis; ac sul apros anán iliažyošán, an hipom lië, Estecäh, opune er deprene gintram lië.
lion agree-3s / but only after one-m.dat month-dat / one underling 3s-gen / alligator / rebel-3s and seize-3s sash-acc 3s-gen
Lion agreed; but after only one month one of his lieutenants, an Alligator, rebelled and seized his throne.
Kaë fueu nižnî lië bistru ilet metan im tyurma, er soa Elória lië tombe im prak.
who-p be.past-3p subject-p 3s-gen rush-3p he-acc put-inf in prison-acc / and the-f kingdom 3s-gen fall-3s in dust-acc
His own subjects bustled to throw him in prison, and his Empire crumbled into dust.
Nenén zonán so Dalu scurë ktë žese Bardinó šušče sam imfátin, er tu biyete tësvuáece Bardinón.
same-m.dat year-dat the king country-gen where live-3s coyote die-3s without child-dat / and impers elect-3s unanimous-ly coyote-dat
That same year the King of the country where Coyote lived died, without children, and Coyote was elected King by acclamation.
Prinime, er načale dénuo mudraece, er tëse žen ilet veaďe.
accept-3s / and rule-3s progr wise-ly / and all-m people he-acc love-3s
He accepted, and ruled wisely, and he was loved by the whole nation.
Ne urokešen zonei, ab coamrabán zië še sanno scurë, tróue kiel lelen Guryon im fakon lië im scurin Estecähei.
at end-dat year-gen / using privilege-dat refl-gen being lord country-gen / find-3s how see-inf lion-acc in box-dat 3s-gen in country-dat alligator-gen
At the end of the year, using his privileges as a head of state, he managed to see Lion in his prison cell in the Alligator's land.
—Pyeru eř lelen im tyurman, mis.
sorry you.s-acc see-inf in prison-dat / say-3s
"I'm sorry to see you in jail," he said.
—Ya permizao, mis soa gurë. Ča, ya irzoveo, raf rafei.
compl suppose-1s / say-3s the-f lion / well / compl win-2s / justice justice-gen
"I'll bet," said Lion. "Well, you win, fair and square."
—Malbosa, druk esë. Žanenei et lelen kiam fäsreteu, voittom im otren zaklatán!
bad-luck / friend I-gen / come-inf-2s I-acc see-inf when exit-fut-2s / enter-fut-1p in other-m.dat wager-dat
"Bad luck, old friend. Come see me when you get out. We'll have another bet."

—Rauouar! adveče Guryon.
(roar) reply-3s lion
"Rawowar!" replied Lion.

3. Abend P.I.

This is the beginning of a story about Abend Monteneon’s days running the Corona, the most popular inn in the Išira district, now Fred’s Bar.

I never finished it, because I ran into plotting issues. Raymond Chandler once said that when his story ran into a snag, he’d have a gunman come in and start shooting. But Almean firearms aren’t that advanced.

So dën zanoyre im galumon— zanoyre, mizao— kiam ečitnai u nrüskán. Polnen, žonén nrüskán.
the-m day begin-drown-past-3s in bathtub-dat / begin-drown-past-3s say-1s / when wake-past-1s near dwarf-dat / naked-m.dat female-m.dat dwarf-dat
The day started to go downhill— started, mind you— when I woke up next to a dwarf. A naked, female dwarf.
Řo vulmizu piďä ctel; vulmizu husil elcar parnië. Tu cam lele im Coronan descairon, ac řo lelnai nikagdá žonä ížece.
no mean-1s small-m.acc individual-acc / mean-1s authentic-acc elcar-acc mountain-p.gen / impers they-acc see-3s in Corona-dat sometimes / but no see-past-1s never female-m.acc before
I don’t mean a small person; I mean a real dwarf, an elcar from the mountains. We get them in the Corona sometimes, but I’d never seen a female one before.
Acřó vetra nočín, parete, er tot fue šažy.
Except yesterday night-dat / seem-3s / and that.one be.past-3s empty
Except for last night, apparently, and that was a blank.
Nun ronnai er… aďî, řo vulu dy nimašeu dy sen cuesai fsëgdá eto, ac kiom tencao im bemán?
Now check-past-1s and / god-p / no want-1s sub assume-2s sub I-dat ask-1s always this.one / but what-acc have-past-1s in head-dat
I took a look now and— gods, I don’t want you assuming I always ask myself this, but what was I thinking?
Ila fue hautë po decpan manoin, cum epesen řusin snurei com felomán, ševein im ërece řočilisen čelin, er limuren com ďunin huvonin surogonulin.
she be.past-3s tall-f at fifteen hand-p.dat / with thick-f.p.dat muscle-p.dat rope-gen like sailor-dat / hair-p.dat in really unusual-m.p.dat place-p.dat / and breast-p.dat like two-m.p.dat egg-p.dat fried-p.dat
She was four feet tall, with thick ropy muscles like a sailor, hair in some really unusual places, and breasts like a couple of fried eggs.
Eta soa ufëa, ča, soî elcarî řo eu ërece ežcudî, eu dobrî im femen žuín cum revolun er olašán, er ila fue përece ozë.
about the-f face / interj / the-p elcar-p no be-3p really ugly-m.p / be-3s good-m.p in rough-m.dat way-dat with beard-dat and nose-big-dat / and she be.past-3s wholly thus
Note: judge Abend as you will, but elcari are an entirely different species. The Thinking Kinds cannot reproduce together and generally do not find each other sexually attractive.
As for the face, well, dwarves are not exactly ugly, they’re fine in a rugged, big-nosed, bearded kind of way, and she was all of that.
Leven tidimo muďe bolyášen er ševein irevolui muďe pošen kio surmetnu gust redelcëi.
lip-p.dat somewhat more big-f.p.dat and hair-p.dat moustache-gen more downy-f.p.dat what add-past-3s taste woman-gen There’s an implied cum— we’re still telling what the woman has— thus the datives.
Somewhat bigger lips and wispier moustache hair to add that feminine touch.
Siča sřonkre.
progr snore-past-3s
She was snoring.
Eseyru degriman. Esanei pruso, drukî esë mižu. Pitireu samlešele kiom vuleu!
try-past-1s deduce-inf / be-inf-2s innkeeper / friend-p I-gen say-past-3p / drink-inf-2s free-m what-acc want-2s
I tried to reconstruct. Be an innkeeper, my friends told me. Drink all you want for free!
Ar, ac eluá žou: kiam soî seorî pitü, so pruso řeze.
yes / but here.is trick / when the-m.p moral-p drink-3p / the innkeeper work-3s
Yeah, but here's the catch: when decent people are drinking you’re working.
Ďerî cüzü e ďinî horî utrei.
door-p close-3p be-3s three-f.p hour-p morning-gen
The doors close at three in the morning.
Tëspitcelu vremya, esli řo sternai desi řusiomi er fazisi kaëm nomai colaprecî.
carouse-cond-1s then / if no tend-past-1s various-m.p.acc thug-p.acc and deadbeat-p.acc who.p-acc name-1s helper-p
I could carouse then if I weren’t watching over the assorted thugs and layabouts I call a staff.
Ërece drukî esë sen mižu ut voitcele soa navirora celdonisä, kio e dobre konsél, ac řo e dobre mizo. really friend-p I-gen I-dat say-past-3p wish enter-cond-3s the-f.acc navy-acc commercial-f.acc / what be-3s good-m advice / but no
be-3s good-m saying
Note: Abend actually took their advice, earlier in life.
Actually my friends told me to join the Merchant Marine, which was pretty good advice, but it’s not as good a line.
Urë řo tëspitu. Řomuán řo suzanai niš apros ďunen horen.
thus no carouse-1s / yet no remember-1s nothing-acc after two-f.p.dat hour-p.dat
So, I don’t carouse. Only I don’t recall a thing past two.
Suzannai dy hozësnai Frédrot— dum sen: ižžorenei dy so cebrel elnora teke— er läznai ronan hunsä miďä im atunán Mëranacán.
remember-1s sub entrust-past-1s Frédrot-acc / note me-dat / ensure-inf-2s sub the building still stand-3s / and go-past-1s check-inf rowdy-f.acc celebration-acc in room-dat Mëranac-dat
I remember putting Frédrot in charge— mental note: make sure building is still standing— and going to check on a raucous party in the Mëranac room.
Řo suzannai suom nrüskem cečel, hoyan esnu bečka dobrëi ďule Célenorei— perä bečka, kion snucämî immeynu glacom— er žöh, er vin kopurul. Řo im nenan bečkan.
no remember-1s none-m.p.acc dwarf-p.acc there / although be-past-3p barrel good-f.gen ale-gen Célenor-gen / entire-f barrel / what-dat customer-p dip-past-3p mug-p.acc / and mead / and wine distilled / no in same-f.dat barrel-dat
Don’t recall any dwarves there, though there was a barrel of good Célenorian ale— an entire barrel, which the customers were scooping their mugs into— plus mead, plus brandy. Not in the same barrel.
Caleona keyne belacatisece ne ďerán iž impuyne.
Caleona knock-past-3s courteous-ly at door-dat before in-push-past-3s
Caleona knocked respectfully on the door before barging in.
—Ä, et ďiloranei, miže še lelen so nrüsk. Polne žonä, im merran dy iššelceo soa berda.
interj / I-acc forgive-inf-2s / say-past-3s at see-inf the-m dwarf / naked-m female-m.acc / in situation-dat sub lose-past-2s the-f.acc path-acc
“Oh, excuse me,” she said, seeing the dwarf. The naked, female one, in case you’ve lost the thread.
Řo fäsre, urë mižao, —Kio e?
no leave-past-3s / thus say-past-1s / what be-3s
She didn't leave, so I said, “What is it?”
—Tšure soa rälnáe, miže.
burn-3s the-f kitchen / say-past-3s
“The kitchen’s on fire,” she said.
Ča, tot že dy fue trasfahe. Řo fue pera rälnáe.
interj / that.one happen-3s sub be.past-3s exaggeration / no be.past-3s whole-f kitchen
Well, that turned out to be an exaggeration. It wasn’t the whole kitchen.
Niš, e bolyášë rälnáe, tot vulmizcele dy perë crur sar tšurcele, er esli tot žancele, gazimretu Šm Eleon, ke eseye činecan imčuzát ktë ilu er se er tësi óuandî platü po pan ořulem so iliažyoš im crif, er delažeo perä crif esli dom lë ya tšurcele.
interj / be-3s big-f kitchen / that.one mean-cond-3s sub entire-m leg east-m burn-cond-3s / and if that.one happen-cond-3s / suspect-fut-1s Dr. Eleon-acc / who try-3s manage-inf scam-acc where he and I and all-m.p neighbor-p pay-3s per five gold.coin-p.acc the month in ledger-acc / and receive-2s entire-m.acc ledger-acc if house you.s-gen compl burn-cond-3s
I mean, it’s a big kitchen, that would have meant that the whole eastern wing was on fire, and if that happened I’d suspect Šm Eleon, who’s trying to organize this scam where he and I and all our neighbors pay five gold a month into a fund, and you get the whole fund if your house burns down.
Iler nome akešui dernan and tšurán, er čilán fuaín kiam e tšur, muďe ženei cumlädu.
it-acc name-3s insurance last-f.dat for fire-dat / and each-m.dat time-dat when be-3s fire / more people-gen join-3p
He calls it a fire tontine, and every time there’s a fire more people join up.
Ac šrifeo, pro ce-kunan epai mondan otrem fazis, iy imbežir so cišitä čel im albán and manoin foruneei kio valitme ti-dënán kiam raspuye ti-viminë cečel, er še clesnyan bomen sežžihen, esce Šm Eleon ya řo tene isu kuna? Urë řo fue tot.
but know-2s / for that-money-dat can-1s hire-inf other-m.acc deadbat-acc / or fix-inf the-m.acc weak-m.acc place-acc in beam-dat for hand-p.dat balcony-gen what collapse-fut-3s some-day-dat when lean-3s some-Viminian there / and being frugal-f.dat old-f.dat raisin-dat / Q Dr. Eleon already no have-3s enough money-acc / thus no be-3s that.one
But you know, for that money I could hire an extra layabout, or fix the weak spot in the balcony railing that’s going to collapse some day when some Viminian leans on it, and for a frugal old prune doesn’t Šm Eleon have enough money already? So it wasn’t that.
Řo, řo fue sul cala cüe kio šesne tšuran ti-bomem kirkem. E prokio řanum ďunem bečkulem meii im rälnáen.
no / no be.past-3s only hot-f oil what cause-past-3s burn-inf some-old-f.p.dat rag-p.dat / be-3s why keep-1p two-f.p.acc barrel-dim-p.acc water-gen in kitchen-dat
No, it was just some hot oil that had set some old rags on fire. That’s why we keep a couple of small barrels of water in the kitchen.
Ča, e miyire dy so žen metnere šozi sur cam er desî fueu šažî, ac tróunam kiel kešen soi ogoni iž attróunu nibkiom cönei polfondei.
interj / be-3s natural sub the people put-past.ant-3s thing-p.acc on them-acc and several-f.p be.past-3p empty-f.p / but find-past-1p how stop-inf the-m.p.acc flame-p.acc before reach-past-3p anything-acc basic-gen structure-gen
Well, of course, people had put things on top of them and some of them were empty, but we did manage to put the flames out before they got to anything really structural.

Virtual Verduria