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Grammar and Glossary for Eretas mk4

From:Keith Gaughan <kmgaughan@...>
Date:Monday, November 3, 2003, 17:19
Hello all! NOMAIL's off again.

While I've been away, I've been putting a lot of work into Eretas to get
rid of the bozo-factor that hangs around the language. I'd really
appreciate any feedback and suggestions anyone can give, no matter how

The document below is an ASCII-fication of the PDF document at [1]. Along
side everything, I'm trying to build a set of TeX macros to make
documenting conlangs easier. Once they're mature enough, I intend on
releasing them. Mind you, there's still a lot of work left, including
code to convert the files to HTML.





                           A Constructed Language
                              by Keith Gaughan

This document details--in a rather disorganised fashion--the preclassical
Eretas language. This is the language spoken by the theocracy culture that
was the source of the Porteressians. I do not know their name, but that
doesn't matter currently.

Eretas has gone through a lot of changes since I first started it. It began
as a brainfart, which I called Iritasa. One night in October 2001, I took
that mess and tried to put some shape on it. One description I got for it
was "It looks rather like Tolkien's Quenya with a triple helping of Finnish
and umlauts 75% off the menu price". In retrospect Eretas, or Eritas as it
was called then, did look somewhat like that.

I took that comment to heart when I read it. I didn't want the language to
be some kind of Tolkien rip-off--whatever influences there were in there
from his languages, I wanted them to be influences and nothing more. The
language should have a character of it's own.

1. Eretas as a language is supposed to seem vaguely familiar to anybody who
knows an Indoeuropean language. It's supposed to sound and look fairly
pleasant, but not so much as to be sickly sweet[1].

[1] This is one of the more off-putting aspects of Tolkien's languages for
    me, and one I wanted to avoid.

2. Phonology and Orthography.

Eretas has two series of consonants: the _velar_ series and the _palatal_
series. Note: where two consonants are seperated by a slash, the consonant
one the left is the voiced form and the other the unvoiced.

                 Nasal  Stop   Fricative  Lat. Fric.  Lat. Approx.  Flap
    Bilabial     m       b/p
    Labiodental                 v/f
    Dental               d/t   dh/th
    Alveolar     n              s/s       hl         l              r
    Alveoplatal         dj/tj  sj/sj
    Palatal      nj     gj/kj    /hj
    Velar        n       g/k     /h

Virtually all consonants can be palatalised. The letter <j> is used to
indicate palatalisation. Where in the above chart a consonant is marked with
<j>, the consonant radically changes position when palatalised.

A palatal <r> sounds like the <r> in the Czech <Dvorak>.

3. There are certain consonants that may be written doubled. These are <m>,
<n>, <l>, <r>, and <s>. Doubled consonants represent several phenomena:

 1. Lengthening of the sound.
 2. Intervocalically, it _binds_ the consonant to the previous mora, and the
    following vowel is lengthened to compensate. This has an effect on word
    stress to be discussed later.
 3. <s> is voiced intervocalically and finally after a vowel. Doubling
    expresses it unvoiced.
 4. Eretas has six vowels, five of which correspond to the classical latin
    series with one addition: the vowel represented by <y> is pronounced as
    an open rounded back vowel.

                                   i     u
                                    e   o
                                     a y

Stress, as in Spanish, generally falls on the penultimate syllable. When it
does not, stress is marked with an acute accent, e.g. <me'osses> 'rain'. [2]

To do: Explain morae in Eretas and how it affects stress and length

[2] In the native orthography, stress is indicated by special versions of
    the vowel glyphs that evolved from two consecutive instances of the

5. Phonotactics.

Eretas is phonotactically very simple and allows only the following syllable
shapes: C1VC2, and C1VC2C1 finally.

V  is required and may be one of <a>, <e>, <i>, <o>, <u>, or <y>.
C1 is optional and may be one of <b>, <d>, <dh>, <f>, <g>, <h>, <k>, <l>,
   <hl>, <m>, <n>, <p>, <r>, <s>, <t>, <th>, <v>, or <ts>. These may all
   be palatalised.
C2 is optional and may be one of <m>, <n>, <l>, <hl>, <r>, or <s>.

6. Final consonant clusters are exceptional. Earlier in its history, Eretas
lost its final vowels and consonants. Final nasal, rhotics, sibilants and
liquids had their quality infused into any vowels they were next to, but
effect has now gone. The effect of these final vowels and consonants is
felt in some conjugation irregularities. I don't as yet know what these are,
however. [3]

[3] One I do know is that word ending in the cluster <ns> were once <nts>,
    and this creeps back into these words sometimes. <ts> finally is always
    reduced to <s>. It's also worth pointing out that the <s> in these
    clusters is _unvoiced_.

7. There are some obvious restrictions on which consonant clusters may
appear together. First of all, nasals with stops or fricatives must be at
the same point of articulation. In the native script of Eretas, nasals are
denoted using a special character called a nasal characteristic. The
of the _nasal characteristic_ when unmarked for position changes depending
the position of the other consonants it shares the cluster with.

8. Nouns.

Currently, I only know a bit about nouns. I know that one of the noun
declensions, the one containing all the agentive forms of the verbs, has
the agent nouns falling into two categories: _open_ and _closed_. Open nouns
end in a vowel while closed nouns end in a consonant.

There are three open endings: <-y'>, <-o'> and <-u'>[4], and these
to the gerund endings <-an>, <-en> and <-in>. The plural markers for the
open nouns are <-adas>, <-edas> and <-idas>. Example: <Sjolan> 'Travel',
<Sjoly'> 'Traveller', <Sjoladas> 'Travellers'.

[4] As you've no doubt noticed, stress in agent nouns always falls on the
    final syllable. This, though regular, is still marked.

Closed agent nouns are derived by dropping the gerund ending and 'opening'
the final two consonants. The vowel used to open it is the vowel of the
gerund ending, e.g. <kaldan> -> <kalla'd>, <fenlen> -> <fene'l> [5].

[5] Cf. <fenlen> and <imarrellen>. One might expect that <fenlen> would have
    a form more like <fenellen>, or <imarrellen> like <imarlen>, both being
    compounds of the verb <ellen> 'do' and a noun. However <imarrellen> is
    a neologism, whilst <fenlen> has been in use for quite a while and has
    already gone through some changes.

The doubling of the penultimate consonant is not always predicable, except
via the word's etymology. Pluralisation is simply a matter of adding the
suffix <-as>. Example: <vellestan> 'pierce', <vellessa't> 'piercer',
<vellessatas> 'piercers'.

9. Pronouns, Demonstratives and Articles.

Information on pronouns is a bit sparse right now. Suffice to say that I
know the noun <essu> 'Thing, Entity, Individual' is commonly used a an
impersonal pronoun and sometimes as a general 3rd person pronoun. More
commonly used are the demonstratives as 3rd person pronoun. I'm not sure
what their shape in all forms is right now.

    Deixis  Pronounal  Definite
    This    nar        ir
    That    nal        il
    Yon     nan        in

Formerly, the pronounal and definite forms were identical. The definite form
ended up being attached as a clitic to the previous word, causing <na> to
wear away, causing the <r>, <l> and <n> to become syllabic. It later
seperated [6] again and gained epenthetic <i>.

[6] Is this even possible?

The 1st and 2nd person pronouns in their most basic forms are <e> and <se>

There are no plural forms for pronouns.

10. Conjunctions.

I know of only one co-ordinating conjunction currently, <'l> 'and'. This
clitic attaches itself to numbers and verbs. With nouns, the concommitative
case is used.

11. Verbs.

I know little or nothing of verbs at the moment except that virtually all
verbs require an auxiliary to be used. The only surviving forms for most are
the imperative, the verbal nouns (of which there are many), and the verbal

12. The Imperative is formed in a similar way to the agent noun of a verb.
With where the verb is open, it's simply a matter of dropping the ending,
e.g. <mjuhlin> -> <mjuhl>, <thaorellen> -> <thaore'l>. Stress is on the
final syllable if unmarked on the gerund. With closed verbs, it shares the
same form as the agent noun, e.g. <vellestan> -> <velessa't>.

13. The 'that which was/is/will be done' Verbal Noun. I only know of one
instance of seeing this, and that's the word <ellevas> 'history' (lit. 'that
which was done'). It comes from the verb <ellen> 'do'. I haven't a clue how
it's formed for other verbs yet. [7]

[7] Nor do I even know its proper name!

14. The Agent, just for confusion's sake, and because it ended up there
    first, for an explaination of it, see the section on Nouns.

15. The Continuative Noun. This means 'having done something'. It's useful,
    helps make the language compact, and is used all the time, but
    especially in storytelling. Stolen from Burushaski. Must explain in

16. Numbers.

These are currently quite tentative and very much subject to change. I'm
not quite happy with them. They seem too ad-hoc and messy even for a real

        Cardinal           Ordinal
     0  Nalova             n/a
     1  Este               Ester
     2  Vera               Verar
     3  Tome               Tomel
     4  Kannas             Kannar
     5  Tseala             Tsealar
     6  Ellas              Ellar
     7  Esselles           Essellar
     8  Verelles           Verellar
     9  Tomelles           Tomellar
    10  Kanselles          Kansellar
    11  Tselles            Tsellar
    12  Verlas             Verlar
    13  Este'l Verlas      Ester'l Verlas
    ... ...                ...
    18  Ellas'l Verlas     Ellar'l Verlas
    19  Esselles'l Verlas  Essellar'l Verlas
    ... ...                ...
    24  Tomlas             Tomlar
    25  Este'l Tomlas      Ester'l Tomlas
    ... ...                ...
    30  Ellas'l Tomlas     Ellar'l Tomlas
    31  Esselles'l Tomlas  Essellar'l Tomlas
    ... ...                ...
    36  Kanlas             Kanlar
    48  Tselas             Tselar
    60  Piado              Piadar
    ... ...                ...

After 60, things get yet more complicated... it's one kind of chaos I want
to remove from the language!

17. Eretas-English Glossary.

The collation order more-or-less follows that of English. However, the
letter <j> is not counted as a seperate letter. It is counted as an accent
on the previous consonant and is therefore ignored in collation. <Th>,
<dh> and <hl> are counted as letters by themselves (as they are in the
native script) and therefore matter in collation. For verbs, the agent
form is given in brackets. This is needed as in some cases the derivation
is irregular, e.g. <andan> -> <anna'd>.

                                    — A —

Adhosen (Adhoso')
  v. Deny.

  n. Fish.

  n. House.

Andan (Anna'd)
  v. Test; Trial.

Anvalaran (Anvalary')
  v. See.

  adj. Great; Much; Big.

  n. Unlimited potential; Purposefulness; Tao.

                                    — B —

Banan (Bany')
  v. Confuse.

  n. Warmth.

  adj. Warm.

  n. The Southern Lands.

                                    — D —

Daresin (Daresu')
  v. Scatter; Disperse.

  n. God.

  n. Pantheon.

                                    — E —

  n. Bird.

  adj. Young; New. (lit. 'Just made')

  n. The People, or Makers—the ancestors of the speakers of Eretas.

Ellen (Ello')
  v. Make; Do.

  n. Person. (lit. 'Maker')

  n. History. (lit. 'That which was done')

  n. Nation.

  n. Language.

  n. Thing; Entity; Individual. Used as an impersonal pronoun.

  n. Reputation.

                                    — F —

  n. Stroke; Line.

Fenlen (Fene'l)
  v. Paint; Write. (lit. 'Make strokes')

                                    — HL —

  n. Blueness; Blue.

                                    — I —

  n. The Eastern Lands.

  n. Redness; Red.

  n. Word.

Imarrellen (Imarrello')
  v. Coin a word.

  n. Conlanger. (lit. 'Word-maker')

  n. The Western Lands.

                                    — K —

Kaldan (Kalla'd)
  v. Smite; Hit.

  n. The Northern Lands.

  n. Strength.

Kassilen (Kassilo')
  v. Break; Give up, Fail (used reflexively with dative).

                                    — L —

  n. City.

                                    — M —
  n. Rain.

  n. Monkey.

Mjuhlin (Mjuhlu')
  v. Die.

                                    — N —

  n. Small, round, furry object.

  n. Dream; Wish.

  adj. Small.

  n. Smallness.

                                    — O —

  n. Song.

  n. Fear.

Ovean (Ove')
  v. Find; Discover.

  n. River.

                                    — P —

  n. A city name.

  n. Sixty.

  n. Animal.

                                    — R —

  n. Tightness.

  n. A kind of heavy, billowing, body-length cloak or coat.

  adj. Deniable.

                                    — S —

Sjakiran (Sjakiry')
  v. Scream.

  n. Homeland.

  n. Tower.

Salossan (Salossy')
  v. Blow.

  n. Wind.

  v. Sky; Heaven.

Sjesuin (Sjesu')
  v. Dispute.

  n. Time.

  n. Shinar (a transliteration).

Sionnan (Sionny')
  v. Declare.

Sjolan (Sjoly')
  v. Come from; Travel from.

  n. Traveller.

  n. Fuzziness; Furriness.

                                    — TH —

  n. Pebble.

Thaorellen (Thaorello')
  v. Count; Add. (lit. 'Do the stones')

  n. Accountant; Computer; Calculator.

                                    — U —

  n. World.

                                    — V —

Vallan (Vally')
  v. Share.

Valsan (Vala's)
  v. Drop; Remove.

  n. The Sun.

Vellestan (Vellessa't)
  v. Pierce.

Vellen (Vello')
  v. Agree.


Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>