Thursday, 23 September 2010

Sentence 4.4

Ei dashayon kú bolon châ, ei kodnen dashayon kú bol châ

What's the difference between bolon and bol you ask? Well let me tell you.

A bolon of tea has a handle, a bol of tea has no handle. That's what the above sentence says. Of course you have to remember that the structure of this sentence is topic-marker possessed at possessor. This was what I was trying to cover with yesterday's entry.

So this is the difference between bolon and bol. A bolon is a cup with a handle. Thing-nouns are regarded as big and physical. A bol is a drinking bowl that can be held in one hand. In contrast to the thing-noun the masculine noun is considered smaller and finer (yeah, right!) So the two words imply a difference in size. This contrast was taken from Swahili where small things are KI-class and large things are MA-class. Ghostian has adopted this onto its gendered nouns. Whether it has done this consistently will be found out from future entries. We'll find out.

As an aside I was interested to watch an episode of the entertaining and informing comedy quiz show QI hosted by Stephen Fry where he explained that because the Chinese discovered china pottery they never developed glass and associated technologies, like lens-making, until the modern age when it was introduced by the colonial powers. If I'm using these Chinese-to-English dialogues to establish the culture of the ghostians it will be interesting to see if the same holds true to them as well.

Yesterday I saw a school leaver's hoodie which had on the back what looked like the lion of St Mark carrying a long banner coloured red, yellow, red. It inspired me to think that the ghostian flag could be made into a similar banner. The ghostian flag is a horizontal tricoleur of yellow-blue-yellow based on the original dust covers of the Teach Yourself Language Books produced by the English Universities Press.

As for the heraldic animal that bears the banner, I think it might be a hadrosaur. When I walk through the gardens and see the ducks I think that a grazing duck-billed quadruped would look rather neat. It goes without saying that The New Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon is one of my favourite books. So there you have the ghostians and their crazy duck-billed heraldry!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Sentence 4.3

Ei kakaya rashlikana kú bolon châ ye bole châ?

I have been thinking about this sentence for a while now. How to get it correct, and how to find time to post it. The second is obvious. Stop dithering and post it. What difference is there between a bolon and a bol. Well for a start a bolon is a thing-noun, and a bol is a masculine noun. I've also had to bend a rule here, as I think bolon and bol should both be in the dative which for both would be bole. So bolon still has the nominative/accusative ending to accentuate the difference.

It interests me that there is two words for cup in ghostian, and they differ in grammatical gender. The difference will be explained in the next entry. Let's look at other parts of the sentence. The abstract noun rashlikana comes first after the topic marker. Abstract nouns are usually feminine nouns without the a-ending of other feminines. It's added here because it comes after the topic marker and needs to be dative in form. Feminine dative nouns keep the a-ending of the nominative form. Kakaya is the feminine form of the interrogative adjective What kind of.

The preposition doesn't mean between, it means at, especially at one's home, or at one's workplace. It's also used as the verb 'have' after the topic marker. The possessor follows the preposition . So this sentence is understood to mean A bolon and a bol have what difference? (That's beginning to make better sense now.) is usually followed by a genitive. It appears thing-nouns do not change in the genitive case.

There is another rule about ya which is if it comes after an indirect object it changes to ye, which it has done before bole as it comes after the preposition .

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sentence 4.1 and 4.2

A nashiwatse ten tuon chet?

Ten tí yodin bolon chân

Another day another dialogue. This one is between two friends. In the original version they were A and B. When I was writing it up on my computer I named them after the internationally famous stars Iko and Ipe. They were looking for a job after their last gig and seemed to fit in well. I think I have been a bad influence on them as by the end of this dialogue they have wandered off looking for cigarettes! (Smoking is not cool, kids!) So I will keep them anonymous for now.

Sentence 1 has been covered before, it means What is this called? I've made a change since the last time I wrote it because I realised that reflexive verbs can use the short enclitic -se rather than the longer form sebio which is used for 'oneself' or 'you'. There's a gap in the polite second person pronoun and sebio has stepped in to fill it. That's another story. The verb nashiwantse means 'to call a thing' (not a person, different verb).

The answer is It's a tea cup. The new word is bolon, cup. I will be saying more about it in my next entry. Suffice to say it is a neuter noun. Ghostian doesn't say 'cup of tea', instead it puts the two words together without a joining word. Châ has taken the accusative ending because it comes after the verb in that position.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Get your things

Te tua dost o bodú. Dua bodúta kiriben.

Duen. Bodúta kiriben

These two sentences bring Dialogue Three to a close so I will do them together. Pupil says I will get those things. Then we will write. Teacher agrees and says Good. We will write.

The word 'to get' is dohant. Ghostian reverses the arrangement of the sentence from English. The things to be gotten, te tua, move from the object position after verb to the subject position in front of it. The agent of the verb is marked by a special preposition o to show this is who does the action. So dohant is really a passive verb: Those things are gotten by me. Dost would be the most common form in the present tense, the plural form dohen is only used after pronouns, which in this case would be te, those, these, standing alone. Dos, the first person singular form, would be exceedingly rare.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Making a list (and checking it twice)

Dribí ninâ bodúta tí yodna tugikan, yodin pipas, yodin inon a yodna slina. Dua penglúyen yodne bekken wodata, ya malant inon

Ye gods, what a lot of new words this sentence introduces. What Teacher says is We need a pen, a paper, some ink and a slate. Then add a little water and mix the ink.

When a subject is used with dribí it comes after the long preposition ninâ, on, is used. Bodúta is the plural of bodú, I. So 'we need' literally means 'needs on us'.

What follows is a list of things. Each is a different gender, and sometimes case. Tugika is a writing tool, a pencil, a pen, or a brush. Context will make it clear which it is. It is a feminine noun and takes the accusative ending. Pipas, paper, a masculine noun, does change its form in the accusative. Inon, ink, is a thing-word, like tuon, thing. The plural would be ina like tua. All thing-nouns are neuter. Slina is feminine. Because it follows the accompanitive particle a it is not in the accusative case.

Ya is a little devil of a word. It sneaks into sentences every where. At the beginning of a sentence it might be used to mean 'let us' or to soften a command so it means 'would you'. In the middle of a sentence it can mean 'and' or 'with' and the word after it is dative. If the word after it is feminine it becomes yi, and plural then ye. If the word before it drops the Y and becomes a, e, i. It's a tricky little thing. (I'm not sure if I've mastered it myself yet!)

Teacher's second sentence also introduces new words. Penglúyant is a verb meaning to add, it has the plural ending in the sentence above following Teacher's first sentence so it's (We) add. I think the verb malant, mix things, is usually found as a verbal noun.

The word for water is wodata. It's a plural noun, I think the singular form has dropped out of the language (unless I need it for other things later on, like derivatives). So the indefinite article yodne, and the adjective bekken, little, both have plural endings to agree with wodata. I'm still undecided if adjectives follow the noun, or precede it. I think I'm more comfortable with this order.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Needs must

Ei kiriba, a tí dribí kakaye tua

I'm having one of those sentences that leads me to revise an earlier one.

Pupil asks What do we need for writing. That's how we would say it in English. The order is different in ghostian.

The topic comes first. It is the word kiriba preceded by the topic marker ei. The topic marker is a weaselly word in ghostian. It blurs between being a preposition, a verb, or a particle. It can mean 'for' or 'about' or 'there is', depending how it is used. Kiriba has dropped the accusative ending used in earlier sentences. The plain noun is the form used after ei.

After the topic the main clause uses the word dribí, need or necessary. In ghostian this is a plural noun, and with , is, are, is used to mean 'we need'. The pronoun can be assumed here. The object after the verb is kakaye tua, what kind of things. Tua is the plural form of neuter noun tuon, thing. Before it the interrogative adjective kakai also changes to the plural adjective.

Looking for words in the earlier dialogues I realise that dribí is the word I wanted when the Host in the first dialogue said 'no need'. It should be kodnen dribí. I shall have to go to the complete dialogue at Frathwiki and correct it. I think it works better, which is a purely subjective thing, of course.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sentences 21 and 22

Nam, kin bodú wol tai úwed

Dok, yao reb mapena melion úwidant kembí

Two sentences today. The second does not introduce new material. There are some useful comparisons between them.

Pupil replies to Teacher's question, No, but I am willing to learn. Nam means no and is used as an exclamation. After a negative the word for 'but' is kin. Wol is the first person singular form of the verb to want, to wish, to be willing. It is followed by the desiderative particle tai.

Teacher replies I will do my best to teach you. This sentence was used in an earlier dialogue. I will describe it briefly. Dok is a sequence or balancing word used to mean so or then. Reb is the first person word for strive. The phrase for 'best' is mapena melion. Melion is the neuter form of the adjective, better, used as an adverb. The particle mapena marks it as a superlative.

Two different words for 'I' are used in these two sentences. Pupil calls himself bodú the egalitarian first person, the equivalent of 'your servant'. Teacher addresses himself as yao, the superior first person used by persons formally in charge. As the form of the word comes from Indo-European languages I imagine that there has been some language shift to restrict its use.

Úwed and úwidant are different forms of the same verb. Úwed is the first person singular; úwidant is the verbal noun or infinitive verb. The underlying meaning is to come to know. In ghostian it translates both 'teach' and 'learn'.

I've just noticed I titled my last post a 'introducation' (sic)! I'm going to hide under a pillow!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A re-introducation

Yay! This blog is no longer disappearing into the void of its own sounding board. It has joined the the Conlang Aggregator Blog. Yes! *Pumps fist*

As most people read blogs from when they join them I should insert an introduction here.

I'm Andrew Smith. I did Brithenig. This is not a Brithenig blog, that language so has its own life now. This is a blog for creating an Eclectic Language Project. I pulled every Teach Yourself Grammar off the shelf and listed every irregularities in the grammar and non-English word listed in the contents of each. I broadly catagorized them as Verbs, Substantives, Prepositions, Pronouns and Chuvmey (a useful Klingon word that means leaftovers). A quick count and I have collected 56 grammars on my shelf. At the moment I am reading through Teach Yourself Chinese (1947: English Universities Press) and translating them into this new language. There is no extent grammar except of what I putting together and revising as I go. Bear with me.

The language is quite eclectic. It has a lot of rules which must be ferreted out and applied. It has three grammatical genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, marks plurals, and has a adjective system that combines gender, case and weak/strong adjectives. The verbs are more regular, although some common verbs appear to use endings from an older form of the language. What a challenge!

In English I call the language ghostian, the language of the pale people. They haven't told me their name for it yet. In one dialogue it has been called riaknia nena, national language, a borrowing from Chinese. The completed dialogues are being posted to FrathWiki.

I should finish with today's sentence:

A sapiet kiriban kodin?

Teacher asks Can you write? This introduces sapiet, the word for can or know how. The stem sapie- comes from latin. A introduces a question; kiriban is the word for writing; and kodin is used as a question tag, 'don't you?' The normal word for you, kembí has been dropped here presumably for length and is taken for granted.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I like

Duen. Bodú mí suk kiriban

I am in the process of organising for moving house, an activity that throws me into great anxiety. As a distraction I will post another sentence.

In this one pupil says Good, I like writing. Ghostians don't use a verb for liking, they use an adjective. It belongs to a set of adjectives, only a handful, that agree with the subject when in the predicate position. We have already met gotú, ready. Most adjectives in this position would default to the simple form which is used for the masculine case. Sad, but true. Apologies if you think this is chauvinist. It just happens that way. Let's hope that the ghostians can live out their equality even if their language doesn't.

Kiriban is the word for writing. It's a feminine noun and takes the accusative ending in this position because it is considered impersonal.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

To write

Bodúta ve kakiriben

The weekend has come about and I should take the time to introduce today's new sentence. It has a new word. In response to the pupil's question Teacher says We could write. The stem of the word is kirib-. It has the plural ending -en and the future marker ka-.

From these dialogues it seems to me that ghostian is selective about using the future tense. It prefers the unmarked present tense verb. Perhaps this may be the future action is continuing from the present moment. If the future tense is uncertain, or conditional, or in a subordinate clause then it will choose to mark it as future. It is an interesting detail to note.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

What else?

Nú dua shaleste knihan, ai bodúta kadachen chet satek?

Pupil asks, Now that we have finished reading, what else shall we do? It's been a while since I wrote this sentence so I have to wonder how I constructed it. That happens a lot.

is obviously 'now', and it is lengthened with the balance word dua. Also note that when ghostian has a vowel after a short u or i the first vowel becomes a consonant so dua is pronounced 'dwa'. I imagine in the ghostian writing system these letters have a special form, perhaps reduced in size or shape so that they have become jers.

It seems that to finish doing something in ghostian means that the verb is said as definite. Shaleste, done reading (the book).

The question follows a SVO form with the question word in the object position, the common position for question words in ghostian. The initial question tag at the beginning of the clause is ai before a non-verb. When the verb is moved into first place, which happens like English and other languages the question tag is a.

After the question word chet, what? follows the adjective satek. It is translated as 'else'.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Correcting mistakes

Smiet. Da kinan tí duon

Teacher replies to the question, Yes, that method is good. He uses the affirmative verb, It is allowed for yes.

Kam bodú ve galeste salan, kulahú betant bodú

A second sentence, and a longer one too. Pupil says, If I make a read a mistake, please tell me. The word for 'if' is kam, after it the verb has become a conditional tense, adding the suffix ga- to a past tense verb. Salan is the word for mistake; and betant the word for to tell, to inform.

Teacher replies Shawoltaran, it is my duty. That word gets around!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Read, First, Then, After, Allow

Dok, kembí lest primon, dua bodú les posli ya kembí, smiet kodin?

Pupil replies Then, you read first, then I read after you, okay?

Some notes:

The verb stem for to read changes from leh- to les- if there is no vowel following. In ghostian if an 's' comes between to vowels in a word it turns into 'h'.

The word for first is primon. If an adjective is being used as an adverb it takes the neuter ending as it does here. So the stem of first is prim-. We will find first as an adjective as prim, with masculine nouns, and maybe as a short form with neuter nouns (I don't know what the rules will settle as yet); and prima with feminine nouns.

Dua is used between clauses and means 'then, but, again.

Posli is a preposition meaning after (in time). It takes the genitive case. As kembí doesn't inflect the accompanitive preposition is inserted between them.

Smiet is a verb meaning, may, or to be allowed. It is used here with the question tag to invite agreement.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Method, good

Da kinan tíhim duon

Again one sentence as it introduces new words. Teacher replies to pupil That method is not good. Kinan, arrangement, method, way, is a derived noun which is considered to be feminine, even without the a-ending of of most feminine nouns. The verb kinant means to arrange or to lay out.

Duon is the adjective form of the adverb duen previously introduced, and means good. As a predicate adjective it is not normally inflected for number and gender.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Listen to you

Kulahú lehant. Bodú kâ ot

I will do one sentence today. It has two new words. The pupil says to teacher Please read. I will listen.

is the word for listen, hear after the first person singular. In this position ghostian uses the simple verb stem. It is followed by the directional particle ot, which means Away from the speaker. In this case I am listening to what comes from you. Kânt is a word that cannot be used without directional particles. Dakânt would mean listening to me, hearing me.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dialogue 3.9-10

A ve kalehen bodúta kakanian knihan?

Pupil asks Do we read which book? Nothing new here. I should note that the stress in the word kalehen should be on the verb stem kalehen. Putting the stress on the prefixed syllable sounds wrong.

Ye bodúta ve kalehen ten lehayon

Teacher says Let us read this reader. Again this sentence uses words that we have already encountered. A new word is the neuter instrument lehayon made with the stem, to read, so an instrument for reading. Again the stress would have to be on the stem, not in this case the second syllable.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Dialogue 3.7-8

A ve kadachen bodúta chet?

So begins a series of questions making up a lesson. First the pupil asks What shall we do? The verb stem for to do or to make in ghostian is dach-. Here it has taken a plural ending, -en because the subject is bodúta, the plural of bodú, the prefix ka- marks it as future tense.

Ye bodúta ve kalehen

Teacher replies Let us read. He puts the plural accompanitive preposition to make it a jussive. The stem for the verb to read is leh-, and here it is marked as a future plural noun as above.