Virtual Verduria


Basfahe • Basfahe

This document explores the speech of the lower classes of Verduria-city in the 3400s, commonly called Basfahe ‘low speech’ or ‘vulgar speech’. Speakers of Basfahe 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).

For clarity, I’ll cite Basfahe in blue, standard EMV in black.

First, a word on sources. We don’t have recordings till the late 3500s. We do have attempts at representing Basfahe in novels, plays, and newspaper articles. Then there are misspellings, grammarians’ complaints, and a few scholarly papers. All of this has to be considered carefully and skeptically: people without training in phonology mis-hear, and there was a long tradition of what we might call fake Basfahe— a way to represent servants and street urchins and bandits in literature. Examples:

  • The poor are represented as using 1p for 1s: Hro epam erh colapren ‘I can’t help you’. This dates back literally centuries, and if it ever had any relation to reality, it was about peasants in Ctésifon, not slumdwellers in Verduria.
  • That hro for řo is also suspect: the actual sound was [x]. People knew [h] from several southern dialects, but had no way of perceiving or representing [x].
  • Representations of lower-class speech are full of Viminianisms (e.g. az for ‘god’, wi for ‘loves’. There was very little Viminian influence on Basfahe, but audiences found it comic.
  • Verdurians found foreigner-talk funny, so literature is full of comic Kebreni, Ismaîn, Flaids, and Xurnese all butchering Verdurian— e.g. it was considered hilarious to address an important man using feminine gender. Inevitably the trope was applied as well to dumb or low-class speakers. (An early comic strip has a comic male servant whose tagline is Ai pyereca ‘I’m regretful.’)
Fortunately Verdurian scholars have done the work for us; the best treatment is Someše Hutoreya’s Soa Basfahe (3532). Even this requires caveats— Basfahe was not a monolith; the dating of sound changes is very inexact; sometimes our reconstruction of a particular sound is no more than a best guess.

Later sources are also valuable— those recordings, for instance, or Toťio Pohneu’s 3594 monograph Soa sfahe prosië Verdúria-mažtane. But how people spoke in 3594 won’t be the same as how they spoke in 3480, and it’s always a pitfall to assume that features of later Basfahe, or Modern Verdurian in general, existed in earlier Basfahe.

Some writers and scholars (not those cited above!) have exaggerated the “ungrammaticality” of Basfahe. Bad grammar is an easy way to get laughs and mark differences. But native speakers of Basfahe had— with the exceptions listed below— mastered the case system, the gender system, the tense system. There are actually more divergences from 3400s EMV in Modern Verdurian, partly because of historical change, partly because 3600s Verduria-city had a much higher foreign-born population. But those changes shouldn’t be blindly pushed back into the past.

This is not of course a standalone grammar; it’s a list of differences from the Verdurian reference grammar, and follows the same order. Anything not mentioned can be assumed to be the same as in that grammar.


Let’s begin with some sound changes that are clearly attested in the 3400s, and apply unconditionally:
  • Palatalization (due to y or ë) tends to change to fricativization or affrication:
    • sy > š, zy > ž
    • ty > č, dy > j
    • No evidence yet for a change to ny, my.
  • ř is pronounced [x] or [h], which I will write ȟ
  • ts > č: tsesi > česi.
  • Consonants are not doubled— prenne is prounced like prene.
  • Similarly, ä is not lengthened, but it preserves the stress: lädeca > ládeca.
  • A nasal before a final stop is nasalized: šank > šãk, viond > viõd. This may also apply earlier in the word, especially in unstressed syllables: imbraki > ĩbraki. Word-final nasals do not nasalize.
It’s common, but not universal, for word-initial stop + t or nasal + liquid, to be separated by an epenthetic vowel, usually that of the main syllable: ptoc > potoc, mlake > malake.

More sporadically, unstressed vowels may be lost, though only if the resulting consonant cluster is phonologically permitted: baraďu > braďu, belacát > blacát.

Basfahe seems to be more consistent on voice assimilation than the standard language. Thus kazčal > kasčal, mažtana > maštana, ředtao > ȟetao. Some speakers inserted an epenthetic vowel instead: kazičal, mažitana, ȟeditao.

The evidence for monophthongization is controversial. It seems to have started among some speakers by this time, but was not necessarily applied everywhere. It particularly affected vowel sequences beginning with unstressed u/o— thus uestu > ostu, šual > šal. We can see three instances in this fragment:

Ȟo sešo, Piro, e braďo še.
= Řo e sešue, Piro, e baraďu esë.
not be.3s heavy-m / father / be.3s brother 1s-gen
He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s m’ brother.
The general trend is ue/uo > o, ua > a, ui > ü.

For what it’s worth, řo e is commonly written ř’e, while MV definitely has ȟo. Hutoreya has no less than three possible explanations:

  • Ř’e [xe] is earlier Basfahe, not an instance of oe > o at all.
  • Ř’e was the best attempt at some intermediate stage of the sound change, perhaps [xə].
  • It was already [xo], but this would confuse speakers of the standard, so ř’e was a convention which represented the merger but not the actual vowel sound.
Some speakers in the 3400s had already lost front rounded vowels (lübor > libor), but there is ample evidence that most had not.

For almost any of the changes described for MV, there are some scholars who trace them back to the 3400s or earlier, but I follow Hutoreya who does not.

Verbal morphology

There’s a tendency to regularize the person/number endings. Generally this means conjugating R verbs as if they were C; however, the 1s is not affected. E.g.:
baďu, baďeu, baďe / baďum, baďo, baďü
> baďu, baďeo, baďe / baďom, baďo, baďu
Compare the C conjugation elirao, elireo, elire / elirom, eliro, eliru.

The future tense of R verbs is simplified: ret > t, also matching C verbs. Thus:

baďretu, baďreteu, baďrete / baďretum, baďreto, baďretü
> baďtu, baďteo, baďte / baďtom, baďto, baďtu
Or baťtu etc, with voicing assimilation.

The past anterior is never used in Basfahe.

For many speakers, the imperative has merged with the past tense: rihnei = ‘you looked’ or ‘look!’. It’s also common to use the present tense as an imperative: rihei! It can be emphasized with the interjection ey, thus Ey rihei!

Nominal morphology

Where there is a separate accusative, it’s increasingly regularized to -m. Thus:
nom. dasco esta casi leve
EMV dascam esta casa leve
Basfahe dascom estam casim levem
Speakers vary in which of these changes they use; the dascom column is most common, next dascom + estam, next all four.

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:

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 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.


1s.gen esë > ešé, and often just še.

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 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.
Tu řo epe cunësan Ismaä.
people not can-3s trust Ismaîn
You can’t trust an Ismaîn.
It’s also proper to use the 1p— Ȟo epam cunësan Ismaem. Or the 2s: Ȟo epei…

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.

Case usage

The dative alone survives only for pronouns. Compare:
Ihano done anelom ad Rahelin.
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.
Exception: time expressions like utron ‘in the morning’ survive, as well as lexicalized constructions like ladan žesán ‘go home’.

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’.

Verbal anaphora

Kies ‘do what?’ is still used, but an alternative is kiel fasec, literally ‘how (do you) do that’. Thus:
Zevu, kiel faseo?
Druk, kiei?
friend / how do.2s
Dude, what are you doing?


The distinction between ‘movement to’ and ‘movement at’ is blurred. Im atunán can be used for both “in the room” and “into the room”. To emphasize the movement, the preposition can be repeated: im atunán im.

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.


Basfahe has innovated two new ways to ask questions. One is to precede or follow the sentence with dy (pronounced ji); this derives from E dy…?
Ji bešun ilë e rožy?
E dy besyun lë e rožy?
Q boyfriend 3-gen be.3s crazy
Is your boyfriend crazy?
Another is to postpend eto ‘that’:
Imbogatir e rožy, eto?
Is getting rich crazy?


Relative clauses, beyond the simplest ones, usually include a resumptive pronoun:
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.

Constituent Dislocation

As noted in the grammar, colloquial speech allows free use of Constituent Dislocation, with pronouns added to the verb complex. Dislocated constituents may be unmarked for case:
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.


The subtleties in the use of the irrealis tend to be lost in Basfahe. Usually both clauses of an if clause are irrealis:
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.

Pragmatic particles

Review the list of particles (and swear words) given in the reference grammar— they apply to all colloquial speech, especially Basfahe.

Word games

Words are often altered with suffixes. Most of these are shared with the standard language, though some are met there only in nicknames.
-ul- diminutive
-áš- augmentative
ãk (m), ẽk (f) pejorative
-obo (m), oni (f) affectionate-pejorative
-(e)no, -ye affectionate diminutive
-ako, -uto, -ena
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.

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:

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 sometimes said that such wordplay is intended to confuse the cops. However, cops (and innkeepers and novelists) very quickly pick up underworld slang.


The flavor of Basfahe, and its variation from the standard, is mostly conveyed by its words.

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).

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
Also worth a look are the many vivid idioms of Basfahe, such as these:
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


Here’s a short dialog in Basfahe.
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 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 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 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 horse-pl.acc / dude / thirty yesterday / and be.1s in pot-dat
Not so fast, guy. 30 up front and I’m in.

User manual

Who uses Basfahe, and when? It belongs to the “lower classes”; but as a reminder, in the 3400s that describes the majority of the population of Verduria-city. It’s not (just) an underworld thing; it belongs to the whole working class. Those with an education will speak EMV; of course, almost everything that’s written is written in EMV.

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 lost-pl.acc / 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.
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.
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
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.

Virtual Verduria