This document explores the speech of the lower classes of Verduria-city in the 3400s, commonly called Basfahe ‘low speech’ or ‘vulgar speech’.
It's preparatory to the study of Modern Verdurian (MV), spoken in the 3670s, which will be described in an upcoming document. The Verdurian of 3480— what we’ve known and loved for years— will be identified as Early Modern Verdurian (EMV).
Sometimes dalum, katim > dalom, katom, from the plural paradigm.
Many speakers merge the singular and dative plurals, using the singular masculines and the plural feminines— note that this takes the simpler forms in each gender. Thus:
In Basfahe, the dative of possession is replaced by the genitive (dalu sen > dalu še), and dative NPs are double-marked with ad: dalun > ad dalun. The end result is that except for pronouns and lexicalized expressions, the dative is largely a prepositional case.
nom. dasco dalu katy esta rana lavísia EMV s. dascon dalun katín estan ranan lavísian EMV pl. dascoin daluin katuin estain ranen lavisen Basfahe dascon dalun katín estan ranen lavisen
In literature, the poor are represented as saying ilem/ilam for (3s.acc) ilet/ilat. This is an anachronism— this usage died out in the 3200s.
Basfahe speakers had trouble distinguishing lë and lië, and many now regularized the latter to ilë.
The plural reflexive forms (za, zam…) were lost— the singular forms were used instead. That is, zam lelu ‘they see themselves’ > zet lelu.
Basfahe speakers avoided impersonal tu, including its use as a formal ‘you’. Instead you can use (so) žen ‘people’ or equivalents such as zevî ‘guys’:
Žen ȟo ’pe cunësan Ismaem.It’s also proper to use the 1p— Ȟo epam cunësan Ismaem. Or the 2s: Ȟo epei…
Tu řo epe cunësan Ismaä.
people not can-3s trust Ismaîn
You can’t trust an Ismaîn.
In general the use of tu is a distancing strategy, and the ethos of Basfahe is directness and inclusion.
Obviously those who had to (e.g. servants) used the formal 2s tu. But Basfahe speakers never used it among themslves.
Ihano done anelom ad Rahelin.Exception: time expressions like utron ‘in the morning’ survive, as well as lexicalized constructions like ladan žesán ‘go home’.
Ihano done anelam Rahelin.
Ihano give.past-3s ring-acc to Raheli-dat
Ihani gave Raheli a ring.
Ihano ilan done anelom.
Ihano ilan done anelam.
Ihano 3sf-dat give.pat-3s ring-acc
Ihano gave her a ring.
As noted, the dative of possession is not used: osán Ihanei ‘Ihano’s master’.
The genitive is rarely used as a partitive. It’s correct in Basfahe to say Vulu šerä for ‘I want some beer’. If you want to emphasize that you want just part of it, use tórece or torec ‘in part’.
Zevu, kiel faseo?
friend / how do.2s
Dude, what are you doing?
In EMV a preposition can be turned into a dative: imán ‘inside’, dörán ‘outside’, hipán ‘below, downstairs’. In Basfahe the preposition alone can be used: ladan im ‘go inside’.
The prepositional prefixes are rarely if ever used.
Ji bešun ilë e rožy?Another is to postpend eto ‘that’:
E dy besyun lë e rožy?
Q boyfriend 3-gen be.3s crazy
Is your boyfriend crazy?
Imbogatir e rožy, eto?
Is getting rich crazy?
Ȟo šatu so zevom ke ȟeje še ilun uteke.
Řo šatu so uestum u ken cira esë uteke.
no like-1s the dude-s.acc who chick 1s.gen 3sm-dat hang.out
I don’t like the dude my wife is hanging out with.
Pruso, ilan marine cečel, Ihano, Raheli.
Prusin, ilan marine cečel, Ihano, Rahelin.
inn / 3sf-dat marry-past-3s there / Ihano / Raheli
The inn, he got married to her there, Ihano and Raheli.
Esli ešelei čume, ilavricelei dör.
Esli ei lerte, ilavrcelei dör eton.
if be-irr-2s smart / stay-irr-2s outside
If you got brains, you’ll stay out of this.
There is no slang term for orel ‘ear’, but you can easily produce orelul, oreláš, orelye, orelako, etc. Vowel reduction adds relye, relako, relobo, etc.
-ul- diminutive -áš- augmentative ãk (m), ẽk (f) pejorative -obo (m), oni (f) affectionate-pejorative -(e)no, -ye affectionate diminutive -ako, -uto, -ena
In Basfahe, there’s a language game, Sfapa, similar to our Pig Latin or French verlan. It’s based on partial reduplication of the stressed syllable, usually with a different homorganic consonant:
It’s sometimes said that such wordplay is intended to confuse the cops. However, cops (and innkeepers and novelists) very quickly pick up underworld slang.
besya > bepi girlfriend boua > bovo mark, victim bröca > bröpa pants bruȟo > bruvo belly druk > drutu friend fale > fapa silver coin flanec > flama nose ismaë > zmazu Ismaîn boc > borbo die (for gambling) pičo > pibičo drink polne > pomone naked pruso > prupu innkeeper sfahe > sfapa Sfapa itself tyurma > čudu prison žaye > žača foxy
It’s the nature of slang to change, so this (incomplete!) list is most appropriate for 3480. (On the other hand, certain slang words have staying power. English kids is at least 300 years old, dude is half that, cool is almost a century old.)
Especially offensive words are italicized. I really don’t want you going to Verduria, blasting these words about, and getting punched.
With the (plentiful) sexual terms, I’ve supplied very bland glosses; I don’t think the reader will need help to come up with vulgar equivalents.
I’ve already applied Basfahe’s phonological change, so some of these words will not match the standard dictionary. But I haven’t included incipient or sporadic changes (e.g. šual > šal).
Also worth a look are the many vivid idioms of Basfahe, such as these:
word meaning literally… acen scold, tell off abbr. ‘admonish’ aďrašec priest god-screwer alcalë vagina treasure alir deal with (Flaidish) Ataféy VIP, big boss (emperor Attafei) baco vagina (Caď.) bruȟo belly, gut animal stomach boďpila head, esp. a bald one ball borpo drunk (invar.) (Flaidish) boua mark, victim cow bouan john, trick bull bumuše brainless scarce buona cool, great cacian fire; be fired break off caleon blowhard, showoff (after the king) caumen blow off (Caď) cipošir get angry be a teapot ciuto cop dim. of cilu cišuran have a crush on weaken clačir spill the beans break crusul tense, uptight stretched cruy vagina hollow cũdrožir impregnate leaven cũguan whine, complain (Sfapa) culanul loot, treasure cake čekizen bore, be tedious saw čine face plate činek boss triangle čosa crap; thing (taboo-def.) čuč asshole spotty čuma crap plague čume brainy čuza shit daluy fancy; good in bed royal deďaner trick, steal from shear deëžul naked plucked demetan vomit, or poop unload depolnir get dressed un-naked zet desizer have a drink be quenched destaven wipe out, kill extinguish dodoir sleep (baby talk) drukul amigo, pal (abbr.) duisir steal, swipe lead (an animal) dvažoc menstruation 28 enalir go away Ertala self-important idiot (after the king) eže homey neighborhood zet faban take the blame paint oneself fazis good-for-nothing do-nothing fečel boss, jefe (Flaidish ‘swallow’, play on fedjel ‘chief’) fipu buttocks split (Sfapa) flanec nose smeller fodro bitch witch foračir have anal sex forë anus (Old Verdurian) frifi coward, scaredy-cat shake friser dance shake fsetec complain, whine fart futaš fuck Caď. ‘fill’ galumo ship bathtub gara breast swelling gob penis mushroom gobačir ejaculate goly face animal’s face goma belly, gut (Flaidish) grogec annoy, irritate mill guya prostitute hiȟaner get drunk soak host nerve, chutzpah bone ȟeje girl, broad; wife abbr. ‘woman’ Iãko Joe Blow; everyman abbr. Ihan(ank)o ĩbrakošan steal into the sleeve iluve money shiny zet ĩpočen pass out drunk bury oneself iripuli! bottoms up! (glasses) upside-down zet ĩšagir vomit empty oneself ispolnir remove clothes skin isu very enough ivrorom homosexual bookseller kadul ass dim. ‘buttocks’ kadulolf brown-noser ass-nose kaduloma piece of tail kasčal monster horrible kebrén gibberish Kebreni language kîčosa whatsit which-thing klokan kill knock klušan piss splash zet klušan bungle, fuck up piss oneself koprul drunk distilled koška girl, chick female cat kroďi damn! blood of gods ktüec give head; cheat suck zet ktüec fuck up, mess up suck oneself kuda vagina hole labir kiss abbr. ‘use lips’ lácati nice outfit cotton lečec gambler scatterer lef crime boss wolf leful pimp wolfie lertáš big brain clever lescoma prostitute marketwoman leta penis coin luana fox, looker abbr. ‘beautiful’ luru red wine Luyšor (Sfapa) maco wimp; bourgeois dough Mália VIP woman, boss lady (an empress) meloš beer honey mémia loser turkey mẽse cool, neat wavy meunen tell off, reprimand plow meyan lie, exaggerate irrigate micose depressed moldy mimu scam, gaffed object (Kebreni) miškičy delicious nagobo hobo, bum foot guy narnë breast orange nilne woman skirt nižny wiped, exhausted prone õleta tit for tat change olf crime boss nose (play on lef) orto dummy toe oskanáe bed louse land pabatan chatter, talk a lot talk (Sfapa) pasetir have sex visit pav kid small pelačir uncover, figure out shovel up peza beer hops pilačec eye blinker pilke testicle ball, bullet pona mannish; dyke hero prenan understand, get it take procesen flatter, con massage proletka prostitute for money girl prozec penis piercer pusan rib, kid flea puyok clitoris button rälec pregnant baking raše frigging sexual riasni vagina; woman thigh rizdan have sex fertilize ružkadul moneylender (play on ružkunom) ryotka frigid woman ice girl seše easily, no sweat dry sevnilna tramp, easy girl raise skirt skičir shut up clench sišen have sex slip söl drunk solial! get wise! (or get up!) sunrise sosir squeal, gossip whisper subu idiot subuďuďa nonsense idiot drool suian speak up squeak suin loose, easy susurkse shorty undersized šari marijuana weed šaute hair hide, skin šida cool dude šriftom doc, skilled person professor šoz stuff thing šušnáe ruin, abandoned place graveyard šuten ejaculate; screw spill šuyan give head tabošaše pregnant lumpy tecai penis dagger tocan have sex bounce tompec hit, beat drum tričec have sex poke tričešuča sword, swordsman pig-poker trogan affect, concern touch zet trogan masturbate touch oneself unyaga foot hoof urk penis log valitan go to bed; be stunned fall over vetra up front, right away yesterday vimin idiot Viminian yez story, anecdote (Flaidish) yezačir B.S., tell tall stories yolno small boy knee yolye small girl knee zdesir look, dig here zëföy clothes seaweed zevu dude, man (Keb.) žẽte silver piece (abbr.) žižyo piss; white wine (imitative) žoubo con man trick guy
ad ombrilin! ‘to the navel’ = goodbye (play on ad onlelán)
beďir soem obelom ‘observe the clouds’ = be laid flat
bežir soi oreli ‘make the ears work’ = listen
brugiven so ȟayzöm ‘twist the faucet’ = start or stop crying
bulõdir culanul ‘bake a cake’ = speechify, make a big deal of something
cel ďunin bouanin ‘between two bulls’ = in a fix
com bardinon ‘like a coyote’ = cleverly, or impudently
com Ervëan ‘like Ervëa’ = rich, loaded
com ktuvocán ‘like a ktuvok’ = intensifier for anger, madness, drunkenness, etc.
com murtanin ‘like a múrtany= intensifier for annoyance, irritation, etc.
cum alyon er ĩdán ‘garlic and pepper’ = with sass
cum sažin mišun ‘with an empty sack’ = hungry
cum sudán er calton ‘with sweat and By-Calto’s’ = with great effort
cum tësem iëžom ‘with all the feathers’ = all dolled up
crežen fornom zië ‘eat one’s hay’ = eat up; or, mind one’s business
čine Enäronei ‘Enäron’s face’ = poker face
dan urek bečkan ‘teach the barrel a lesson’ = drink a lot
demišen so mišum ‘unpack the sack’ = get down to business (or to details)
dešen soi šuali ‘stop the horses’ = slow down, hold up
druk Fifelei ‘friend of Fifel’ = gay
druk Tolereë ‘friend of Tolerei’ = kinkster, pervert
ečitan so ciutom ‘wake the cop’ = make a ruckus
egulen so mišum ‘sew the sack’ = shut up
esan im čanan ‘be in the pot’ = be involved, be in
faban soa lácatim ‘paint the cotton’ = have a bloody fight
faban soem parnem ‘touch the mountains’ = exaggerate
fako Lagei ‘Lagos box’ = hoax
fasil com huvonán ‘easy as an egg’ = simple as pie
fasil com nuvan ‘easy as bed’ = simple as pie
griman soa traca ‘pull the cart’ = toil, do a job
ȟark guye ‘whore’s spit’ = bilge, slop, any tasteless drink
ȟo esan u X ‘not right near X’ = need X
ȟo ulelan ďun iy ďin ‘can’t tell two or three apart’ = be sick, bleary, or hung over
ĩsisul ab ȟarkán ‘polished with spit’ = dressed up
kumpen soi rakani ‘stomp the cockroaches’ = dance furiously
labir Enäron ‘kiss Enäron’ = die
ladan proseon ‘go for a siesta’ = shove off, leave
ladan visaner soa letuä ‘go study the wall’ = go out to urinate
olotan brunem nočim ‘experience a brown night’ = have diarrhea
onlelan so prãdom ‘see your dinner again’ = vomit
oreloš im bröcan ‘pillow in the pants’ = pot-belly
platir soán fericomán ‘pay the funeral director’ = die
põdre com Maranhán ‘bold as Maranh’ = cheeky, brassy
praten civrum com oȟán ‘talk the copper like gold’ = flatter, exaggerate
pro Ervëan ‘(fit) for Ervëa’ = first rate, grand
sam iluven ‘without shiny’ = free, or penniless
sesuan so golim ‘wet the muzzle’ = drink liquor
sevan nilna ‘lift the skirt’ = have sex
siča faitan ur ‘be turning into clay’ = be done for
so dõyoš e seltavul? ‘the candle is lit?’ = do you get it now?
sučat im nuvan ‘dead in bed’ = hung over
šenan so olf ‘test the nose’ = stink
šesan friser soem letuem ‘make the walls shake’ = cause a ruckus
tombir so ansel ‘drop the key’ = blab, snitch
tompec soi ȟaom ‘thump the edges’ = just miss, have a close call
tromir com pizan ‘fool like a pixie’ = trick, fool
ublian mira zië ‘forget one’s mother’ = fall in love, or go astray
ublian soa lukona ‘forget the chin’ = gape at, mouth open
vauter hupom ‘worth a tuft of grass’ = be worthless
zovec par cruri ‘play four-legs’ = have sex
žalan soa ya (sur X) ‘rub the eye on X’ = have X in mind or in sight
žesan sur žicsen ‘live on cushions’ = have it easy
žõbrulen soi rakani ‘scare the roaches’ = wake up or carouse at night
Mihel: Demišam so mišum: am ďin, se, soa nilne, er so šriftom. Ac ȟ’ am u tričešučan.
unpack-1p the.s.m.acc sack-acc / be.1p three / 1s the.f skirt and the.m doctor / but no be.1p next.to poke-pig-dat
Mihel: Let’s get down to brass tacks: there’s three of us— me, the chick, and the professor. But we’re short a pigsticker.
So Pav: Ji par šidî? Matisî, ȟo cam ĩbrakošai. Vulo klokan zevum?
Q four dude-pl / purse-pl / no 3p-acc in-sleeve-1s / want-2p knock dude-acc
The Little Guy: Four dudes? I ain’t stealing purses. You wanna whack a dude?
M: Ȟo futaš, žalam soa ya sur šušnáen. So šriftom ilat peladre— tene culanul im, er e čistë com žayen im pruson ivroromië.
no fuck / rub-1p the.f.acc eye.acc on cemetary-dat / the doctor 3sf.acc dig.up-past-3s / have-3s cake in / and be-3s pure-f like fox-dat in tavern-dat bookseller-pl.gen
Fuck no, we got a ruin in mind. The professor researched it— it’s got loot in it, and it’s as untouched as a hot girl in a gay bar.
SP: Zdeseo, zevu, ȟo scesmai glavom še ifkiel im rašan gečilán. Epei tenec šöna čuza hip, ac co teneo ce-rašem kasčali.
look-2s / dude / no rattle-fut-1s sword-acc 1s.gen whatever in frigging-s.m.dat dungeorn-dat / can-2s have pretty-s.f.acc shit-acc down / but alongside have-2s that-frigging-m.pl.acc nasty-pl.acc
Look, dude, I’m not gonna rattle my sword in any frigging dungeon. Maybe you got great shit down there, but you also got frigging monsters.
M: Frifri ei? Ifkiel futaš, ci-mišek cum dvadec fapem vetra, lade ad otren orton.
coward be-2s / whatever fuck / this-bag with twenty silver.coin-f.pl.acc yesterday / go-3s to other-m.s.dat toe-dat
You yellow? Never mind, this sack of 20 shiny up front will go to some other fool.
SP: Dešei soi šuali, šida. Tvedec vetra, er ai im čanan.
stop-2s the-m.pl.acc horse-pl.acc / dude / thirty yesterday / and be.1s in pot-dat
Not so fast, guy. 30 up front and I’m in.
Basfahe is not exactly a dialect; it’s more of a register. Many speakers can speak Basfahe or EMV depending on circumstances… some can even master upper-class speech (Melaštei) as well.
The three-way distinction is of course simplistic. We could try to divide up the continuum much finer, or even look at specific neighborhoods. For more on this, see Hutoreya’s book.
It doesn’t take much to “clean up” Basfahe and create standard EMV with a Basfahe feel to it. The third sample text in the reference grammar, “Abend P.I.”, is an example. Nothing is incorrect and only a few slang words are used, but the vigor and irreverence of Basfahe— Abend’s native register— shine through.
At the same time, nothing falls flatter to Verdurian ears than a sudden dip into bad Basfahe— what we might call “youth pastor” or “Steve Buscemi” mode:
Ai pëse, iy lačai mizec micose, kiam ašu soi maucruseci, kaë řo šri dy Aď e, iy epe esan, drukobo can.
be-1s sad / or should-1s say moldy / when consider-1s the-m.pl.acc lost-pl.acc / who.pl no know.3s sub God be-3s / or can-3s be / pal 3p-dat
I’m sad, or should I say bummed, when I think of the lost souls who do not know that God is, or can be, their pally.
I should also emphasize that Basfahe need not be vivid, or full of slang, or concerned with sex and crime— these are just what sets it off from EMV. The following is also unexceptional Basfahe, and almost identical in EMV:
Cišurnai prî Rahelin, ac išrifao dy ȟo šri kio e nom ešé.If for some reason you wanted to use Basfahe in a written Verdurian text, my advice would be the same as if you wanted to represent a non-standard dialect in English: tone it down— a little dialect flavor goes a long way. To see what I mean, it might well accurately represent an English speaker’s dialect to write
Cišurnai prî Rahelin, ac iššrifao dy řo šri kio e nom esë.
weaken-1s about Raheli / but guess-1s sub no know-3s what be-3s name 1s-gen
I fell in love with Raheli, but she probably doesn’t know what my name is.
I feww ‘n love wi’ Rachel, but she prolly duh’n know whuh m’name is.but it’s tiring to read and does the character no favors. If we’re talking to someone, we’re only half-conscious of their dialect anyway, and less so the more the dialog goes on. Better to emphasize class and individuality with syntax and word choice.
I haven’t used the Verdurian alphabet in this section, for similar reasons. Contemporary writers might or might not attempt to reproduce phonological features of Basfahe; and for some of them (e.g. ȟ or j, or nasalization) they had no good representation.