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Larethian verbs

From:Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Date:Wednesday, December 1, 2004, 12:00
I finally ditched my plans for a messy, irregular verb system for Larethian, and
consoled myself to an orthogonal one. Despite my inability to keep my apartment
from turning into a royal mess, I'm clearly no good at creating truly irregular
linguistic systems. Anyway, I think what I've come up with this far is pretty
cool too.

To begin with, we've got two tenses (present and past), two aspects (imperfect
and perfect), two moods (indicative and subjunctive) and two voices (active and
passive). If this seems euroclony, bear in mind that the language is _supposed_
to have faintly Germanic feel to it - fourteen levels or evidentials and
symmetrical voice systems are right out I'm afraid. Since ASCII has lousy
support for 4D arrays, the various tense/aspect combos are shown as per the
below table for the various mood/voice combos:


Using _has-_ "see" as exmaple:

Active Indicative:
has-  hastum-
ahas- ahastum-

Passive Indicative:
hasja-  hasjam-
ahasja- ahasjam-

Active Subjunctive:
hasi-  hasim-
ahasi- ahasim-

Passive Subjunctive:
hasizi-  hasizim-
ahasizi- ahasizim-

(Some reminders on pronunciation; 'h' is [h] initially and [G] between vowels,
's' and 'z' are [z] and [D] between vowels, and 'sj' is [Z], but still

As you see, tense and aspect marking is analytic, with a- for past and -m for
perfect, while mood/voice marking is fusional.

That's sixteen basic stems. I've not settled on the personal endings, but I'm
imagining there'll be about ten of the things, making for some 160 inflected
forms of each verb. To this will come a few jussives/imperatives (I was tempted
to add the jussive as a "full" mood, but I just can't see much use for a passive
past perfect jussive, and it's not like I need any _more_ orthogonality), and
some infinite forms (complete with case marking, no doubt).

One personal marking is set in stone already; -ah "I". So we get _hasah_ "I see"
and so on. With stems ending in -i, we get -jah; _hasijah_ "I would see". I'm
not sure what I'll do with froms in -a-; probably one 'a' will just drop,
giving forms like _ahasjah_ "I was seen".

(Final 'h' is [x] by the way).

That was what I had to say on verbs, for the moment. I've also considered the
native writing system, a bit, and decided that Larethian is written in a
modified version of the Meghean alphabet, which drops Meghean's 'h' letter, and
adds new ones for sounds that don't exist, or have unwieldy representations, in

This leads to two issues. First, that the same original letter is transliterated
'c' for Meghean and 'k' for Larethian. I don't think this is really a problem,
and wouldn't like the orthographic results of changing it. Second, that 'h' is
used to transliterate one Meghean letter and an unrelated Larethian one. The
simple solution would be to use 'x' for the Larethian one - I'd probably denote
the corresponding phoneme as /x/ anyway. But I don't really like the look of
_xasjamax_ [haZamax], _axasax_ [aGazax]. In particular, 'x' for [h] irks me.
You might say it's considerably saner than Meghean _hachatear_ [jaxatSar], and
you'd be right, but my objection is rather aesthetic here. Do people think it's
a problem that needs fixing?

Temporarily accepting 'x', the Larethian alphabet in transliteration thus is:

p b m t d n k g ñ r l s i e a o u f z x j w

Cf the Meghean:

p b m t d n k g ñ r l s i e a o u h

where 'k' is normall romanized as 'c'.