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Tirelat is essentially a Sangari language

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Monday, January 5, 2004, 22:31
As I think I've mentioned, I've been trying to revive Tirelat. I think it's
probably one of my more fully developed languages, and it's been fairly
successful. But the problem was that I kept changing it; the documentation
kept getting out of date, so I could never be sure what information was
accurate. Also, a few of the later complications, like gender, weren't very
well thought out, and made it difficult to use the language.

Then I got started with Lindiga, and wanted to develop the language without
doing translations (just original writing). It sounds good in theory, but
there never was enough time, especially during the final months of Alter
Echo development. Then Outrage Games was closed down, and conlanging wasn't
one of the high priorities on my mind as I looked for a new job. But now
I'm settled in Minnesota with a new job, and for the moment I've got time
for conlanging again. As much as I like Lindiga, it'd take a long time to
get it up to the level that Tirelat was, especially without doing
translations. So I decided to go back to Tirelat for a while.

Now, I've made a New Year's resolution to put more effort into developing
my non-human worlds -- their languages, music, cultural background, art,
and so on. So it occurred to me that one of the problems with Tirelat is
that it never really belonged to anyone. I've wondered about who might
speak a language like Tirelat before, but today it occurred to me that I
could kill two bugs with one stone. I never described any languages for the
Sangari, and there are features of Tirelat that make it well suited for a
language spoken by the Sangari.

Here's the latest Tirelat phoneme inventory. It seems well-suited for a
Sangari language; they're biologically the same species as Zireen, so their
languages probably have some similarities with Zireen languages.

p b     t d             k g             i i:    1 1:    u u:
        t_s d_z
m       n               N               E E:
        r_0 r
f v\    s z     s` z`   x G             a a:            O O:
        K l
w               j

Note that what I've now got as /w/ and /j/ will probably end up being
allophones of /i/ and /u/. /o/ is uncharacteristic of Zireen languages, but
not unknown. As I've previously mentioned, a vowel system more typical of
Zireen languages is /a e i u/, without /o/; the fifth vowel if any is more
often /@/. But this looks like a pretty reasonable Zireen phonology, with
the voiceless /r/ and lateral fricative /K/ sounds, and the retroflex /s`/
/z`/. The voiced stops are less common in Zireen languages; véry unusual,
in fact; /p/ also tends to be lost. I might try substituting ejective stops
for the voiced ones. Still, it looks pretty reasonable for a Sangari

One of the really cool things about Tirelat is the verbal morphology. It's
pretty much agglutinative, except that tense and evidential morphemes are
fused into a single morpheme.

pronoun + root + derivational suffixes + mode + negative/question +
evidential/tense + aspect

(The placement of the negative/question morpheme has changed from my
previous descriptions; it used to come after the evidential/tense marker. I
don't know how much sense this makes, but for a while I was experimenting
with having "generic tense/aspect" forms of some evidentials, so the
negative/question marker couldn't go between the tense and the aspect.)

What makes this suitable for a Sangari language is the obligatory nature of
the evidential morphemes. Since they're fused with the tense markers, you
can't make a positive assertion of a fact without specifying why you
believe it -- whether it's hearsay, direct observation, personal
experience, inference, prediction, hypothetical, opinion, or definition.
One of the stereotypes about the Sangari is that they're essentially furry
Vulcans without the green blood; logical reasoning is a huge part of their
cultural tradition. That's an oversimplification (like saying that Zireen
cultures are all about sex), but a language like Tirelat with obligatory
evidentials seems like just the thing for a Sangari culture.

Another nice thing is that Tirelat uses base-12 for numbers. The basic
roots are mu (0), li (1), dhlaa (2), kim (3), reega (4), vakki (5), zem
(6), telihl (7), syt (8), langu (9), nidi (10), fozha (11), kazh (12). Once
you get past twelve, you start going "twelve-one", "twelve-two",
"twelve-three", and so on; Tirelat has basic roots for 12, 144, 1,728, and
20,736 (the first four powers of 12). Since Zireen and Sangari have eight
fingers, they never use the decimal system; base 6 and 8 are common, and
like Chispa speakers, they often use base 12 for mathematical purposes.

One problem with making Tirelat a Sangari language is that I've already
decided the Zireen language Virelli is written with the Vlika script, an
early version of which is used in Tirelat. So either I'm going to have to
come up with a new script for Tirelat, or for Virelli, or make Virelli a
Sangari language instead of a Zireen language, or come up with a reason
that Virelli speakers would use a Sangari alphabet. It would've made more
sense if the Sangari, rather than the Zireen, came up with the Ljoerr
writing system used in Jarda. Jarda is essentially a relexified Zireen
language with a vocabulary derived from the raccoon language Kianarthal.
Actually, Ljoerr would work well for writing Tirelat, but Vlika isn't well
suited to writing Jarda.

languages of Azir------> ---<>---
hmiller (Herman Miller)   "If all Printers were determin'd not to print any  email password: thing till they were sure it would offend no body,
\ "Subject: teamouse" /  there would be very little printed." -Ben Franklin


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>