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morphological structure of Arakis

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 3:16
NOTE: I apologize if this is a duplicate post, but a message I sent from
this account two *weeks* ago just bounced from the list, and since I never
saw replies to my messages (though at the time I figured people were busy or
there wasn't much to reply *to* <wry g>) I'm beginning to think none of my
past two weeks' posts made it through.

*Finally* had time to do some conlanging.  (You wouldn't believe what having
an aunt for a dentist does to your appointment schedule.)  Currently I'm
working on Arakis, the ancestor-tongue for Chevraqis (and others that
someday I might get around to, if I survive my last semester of undergrad
study, among other things).

Arakis has the ever-boring triconsonantal morphology with which I am so
enamored.  :-)  (If I were a Semitic-language-speaker I would possibly be
less enamored of it, but so it goes.)

Verbs: C_CaCu (infinitive form)
Adjectives: C_CiCu ("infinitive" form)
Nouns: CeC_Ca

(Adjectives can either be used stative-ly, like verbs; they can also be used
in "infinitive" form to modify nouns or verbs.)

Infixes in the blanks are obligatory (as you may have noted, infixes go in
the first syllable for verbs/adjectives, and in the second syllable for
nouns), and come from the below:

(using Kirschenbaum throughout for Arakis, with the exception that "r" is
tentatively the alveolar flap)

     verbs/adj     noun
e   generic          state
ej   causative        doer (professional)
a    instrumental     tool
aj   habitual         doer (casual)
o    intensive        emphatic
i    attenuative      diminutive

(I hope I counted those spaces right...I can't figure out how to get my
email to show a nonproportional font.)

There is theoretically a vague correlation between what an infix means in a
verb/adjective and what it means in a noun.

Sample paradigm (is that the word?):

root morpheme: CNR

verb infinitives:
cenaru: to carry a weapon
cejnaru: to cause to carry a weapon, or to conscript
canaru: to use in order to carry a weapon
caynaru: to carry a weapon often or usually
conaru: to *really* carry a weapon or carry *lots* of weapons or maybe a
*big* weapon
  (Arakis does not generally make number distinctions)
cinaru: to sort of carry a weapon (a slacker?) or carry a broken weapon or
maybe a
  *small* weapon

adjective "infinitives":
ceniru: to be sharp
ceyniru: to sharpen
caniru: to use to sharpen
cayniru: to often be sharp, or to often sharpen
coniru: to be very sharp
ciniru: to not be particularly sharp

noun forms:
cenera: sharpness
ceneyra: soldier
cenara: weapon
cenayra: conscript or someone who happens to be carrying a weapon at the
  (maybe the cook is brandishing a frying pan)
cenora: a master of weapons
cenira: novice soldier, or someone who isn't very good with weapons

(Note: variations of meaning are somewhat idiosyncratic with regards to the

Probably not very original, but it was fun to come up with, if sometimes a
headache.  :-p

The daughter-language Chevraqis later adds static vs. dynamic distinctions
in the verb, but the Arakis go carefree without having to worry about it.

Yoon Ha Lee

How firm the stones feel
there beneath my sandaled feet
until the earthquake...

from Little Sister, by Kara Dalkey