Old Arvandran




The two tables below give the phonemes in use in the Old Southern tongue, given in a romanized form, along with their representation in IPA/ASCII, plus examples from English.

Romanization IPA/ASCII English example
a/A/as "a" in "father"
ae/&/as "a" in "sad"
ai/aI/as "i" in "high"
ei/eI/as "a" in "day"
i/I/as "i" in "bit"
ii/i/as "ee" in "feel"
ou/oU/as "o" in "go"
u/U/as "oo" in "boot"

Romanization IPA/ASCII English example
k/k/as "k" in "keen"
g/g/as "g" in "give"
s/s/as "s" in "see"
z/z/as "z" in "zoo"
f/f/as "f" in "far"
v/v/as "v" in "vote"
p/p/as "p" in "p"
b/b/as "b" in "boy"
t/t/as "t" in "tall"
d/d/as "d" in "dog"
th/T/as "th" in "think"
dh/D/as "th" in "the"
l/l/as "l" in "lad"
r/r/as "r" in "rat"
n/n/as "n" in "not"
nq/N/as "ng" in "ring"
m/m/as "m" in "more"
w/w/as "w" in "was"
wh/hw/as "wh" in "why"

When spelling words in a romanized manner, if sequences of characters would become ambiguous, an apostraphe is inserted to resolve the ambiguity. For example, in the word fei'in, "rose", the apostraphe is given. Although there is no phoneme in Old Southern which is romanized as a lone "e", there is an "ii". The transcriber felt that this would improve readability where there is no access to the original script.

Phonemic Combinations

Syllabic Structure

3.0 Morphology

3.1 Verbs and Inflections

Conjugated verbs are composed of four elements:

verb stem + speaker's tense + event tense + event scope

If the speaker's tense is the present tense, then that marker may be omitted. The same markers are used for the speaker's tense and the event's tense, and so it is not uncommon to see a duplicated marker within inflected verbs.

Both speaker's tense and event tense are subject to agreement. The speaker's tense marker must be one of the first person markers, although it may be under any tense and may be singular or plural. For purposes of tense agreement, no distinction is drawn between first person inclusive and first person exclusive.

The event tense will carry agreement with the subject of the sentence. For purposes of verb tense agreement, third person masculine, third person feminine and third person indeterminate are grouped together as "third person, animate".

Verb Tenses

Present TenseSingular Plural
1st person-ad- -al-
2nd person-id- -il-
3rd person, animate-ud- -ul-
3rd person, inanimate-ur- -ur-

Recent Past TenseSingular Plural
1st person-am--ap-
2nd person-im--ip-
3rd person, animate-um- -up-
3rd person, inanimate-us- -us-

Distant Past TenseSingular Plural
1st person-an--as-
2nd person-in--is-
3rd person, animate-un- -us-
3rd person, inanimate-ut- -ut-

Future TenseSingular Plural
1st person-ath--ak-
2nd person-ith--ik-
3rd person, animate-uth- -uk-
3rd person, inanimate-urb- -urb-

Event Scope Markers

-ait Point in time.
-ain Time interval. When used with present tense, implies that "now" is inside the interval.
-iim Time interval start, indicates event beginning.
-iik Time interval end, indicates event ending.
-ounq Eternal.
-oul Eternal start, implies forever more from tense point.
-ous Eternal end, implies event had always been up to that point.
-ouz Cyclical. Event repeats, but tense marks a particular cycle spoken of.
-ouk Intermittant. Event repeats, but with no particular cycle.

Examples of Verb Inflection

These examples use variations on the sentence "she runs". As stated in the Pronouns section, the third person feminine pronoun is "ata". The verb root for "to run" is iikael.

ata iikaeladudouk = "She runs", lit. "I assert that she does run".

iikael -ad- -ud- -ok
v. int. "to run" 1st pers. sing. pres. 3rd pers. sing. anim. pres. intermittant

ata iikaeludouk = "She runs". A proper alternative form of the above, as present tense speaker markers may be dropped.

ata iikaeladudain = "She is running", lit. "I assert that she is running now".

iikael -ad- -ud- -ain
v. int. "to run" 1st pers. sing. pres. 3rd pers. sing. anim. pres. time interval

ata iikaelasunouk = "We knew her to run", lit. "We did assert that, at that time, she did run at times".

iikael -as- -un- -ouk
v. int. "to run" 1st pers. pl. dist. past 3rd pers. sing. anim. dist. past intermittant

ata iikaelasudain = "We knew she would run" (context: speakers observe that she is running).

iikael -as- -ud- -ain
v. int. "to run" 1st pers. pl. dist. past 3rd pers. sing. anim. pres. time interval

3.2 Moods

Moods are expressed as prepositions which may be applied to most any content word in an utterance.

Mood Morpheme Meaning
koulNegation, used with verbs and adverbs
koutNegation, used with nominals
meiQuery, used to form questions
pourAbsolute certainty

Examples of use of Mood Prepositions
talmarir (n, pl.) "cats" (sing. talmar = "cat")
savit(v. tr.) "to see"
-imaccusative case marking
liina (dem.) cardinal numeral two + indefinite demonstrative
vou(pro.) first person singular

vou savitadait liina'im bou talmarir = "Those two things I see may be cats". Notice that the mood marker bou has been placed between the noun talmarir and its demonstrative article. This indicates that the speaker is certain that there were two entities, and is speculating only on what their identity might be.

vou savitadadait liina'im ri talmarir = "I'm not sure those two things (animals) I see are cats". Here the speaker is more making a statement on the uncertainty of his/her own perception.

vou koul savitadadait liina'im talmarir = "I don't see two cats". This might mean that either 1) the speaker doesn't see anything at all in response to a query about two cats, or 2) the speaker doesn't see them but is allowing for other evidence of the cats' presence.

vou savitadadait kout liina'im talmarir = "I don't see two cats". Here the speaker indicates that he/she sees cats, but there are fewer or more than two of them.

vou savitadadait liina'im kout talmarir = "I see two (not) cats". The speaker sees two entities, but they definitely are not cats.

dar mei savitadimait liina'im talmarir = "Did you see two cats?". The speaker is inquiring about what was seen.

dar savitadimait mei liina'im talmarir = "Did you see two cats?". The speaker assumes the listener did see cats, but is inquiring about how many.

3.3 Nominal Phrases

3.3.1 Pronouns
The pronouns are given as used in the nominative case.

Person Singular Plural
Firstvouvouir (inclusive[1])
voulir (exclusive[1])
Third, masculineila
Third, feminineata
Third, indeterminate[2]soulasoulir
Third, inanimate[3]tantanir

[1] The first person plural inclusive covers the speaker, the listener, and optionally, others. The first person plural exclusive covers the speaker and others, but not the listener.

[2] The third person indeterminate gender is used when the gender of the entity spoken of is not known, or not relevant to the topic. It is appropriate to use for people as well as for animals, although it would be unusual to use it if a known person is being referred to. For some sentient races, such as the Dragons, it is considered rude to not use this pronoun. For a group of entities, the third person indeterminate plural is used, even if the group is known to be composed entirely of males or entirely of females.

[3] The third person inanimate is used for things which are not recognized as having individual volition. This includes minerals, natural forces, most artifacts, and plants.

Old Southern does not use an unspecified "it" as a subject. For example, instead of the English "It is raining", it would be said "The sky is raining" or "The cloud(s) is/are raining". For a passing thundershower it would be "The cloud is raining", but for rain from an overcast sky the subject would be "the clouds". Of course, if "the sky" or "the clouds" had been previously mentioned in the discourse, the inanimate pronouns could be used as referents.

tafir (n, pl.) "clouds" (sing. taf = "cloud")
tanq(v. tr.) "to rain, to sprinkle some liquid"
seisir(dem.) definite plural

seisir tafir tanqurain = "It is raining", lit. "The clouds are raining".

3.3.2 Demonstratives
Demonstratives are nominal prepositions which distinguish entities within a discourse. When present, demonstratives will take case markings as suffixes. Demonstratives have singular and simple plural forms. Plurals can also be expressed by quantifiers, in which case the quantifier form will supercede the simple plural form.

Demonstratives are never used by themselves, as may be done in English with the words "this" or "that".

Demonstratives shown below are given in the nominative case.

Dem. sing. Dem. pl. Function Usage
sei seisir Definite Used to indicate an entity which has previously been mentioned in the discourse.
na nasir IndefiniteUsed to introduce an entity into the discourse. When used with the "possible" mood bo it refers to an abstract, unidentified entity. Also for logical "there exists". When used with the "certainty" mood pour, it denotes that the speaker believes that such an entity exists, but cannot further identify it.
tir tirir Speaker proximate Used to indicate an entity which is close to the speaker.
vaen vaenir Listener proximate Used to indicate an entity which is close to the listener.
airoul airoulir Non-proximate Used to indicate an entity which neither close to the speaker or to the listener.

3.3.3 Quantifiers

Quantifiers are used as prefix modifiers on demonstratives. The quantifier roots are shown here:

maenq"a few", generally three to five.
dhim"some", generally five or more.
whiith "many", generally 20 or more, occasionally used for 10 or more.

Here are the quantifiers as they combine with the demonstratives, all shown in nominative case.

maenqdhimwhiith iilwha
sei maenqseidhimseiwhiithseiillwhasei
na maenqnadhimnawhiithnaillwhana
tir maenqtirdhimtirwhiithtirillwhatir
vaen maenqvaendhimvaenwhiithvaenillwhavaen
airoul maenqairouldhimairoulwhiithairoul illwha'airoul

Examples of use of Quantifiers
talmarir (n, pl.) "cats" (sing. talmar = "cat")
dheimour(v. tr.) "to look at, to view"
savit(v. tr.) "to see"
-imaccusative case marking
vou(pro.) first person singular

maenqtir talmarir dheimouradudain vouim = "These (few) cats (here) are looking at me".

vou savitadadait dhimvaenim talmarir = "I see some cats there (near you)".

vou savitadamait whiithna'im talmarir = "I saw many cats". Use of na in whiithna'im indicates this is the first the cats have been mentioned in the discourse.

whiithsei talmarir dheimouradupait vouim = "The many cats looked at me". Use of sei in whiithsei indicates that the cats have been mentioned already.

iilwha'airoul talmarir dheimouralupait voulirim = "Countless cats looked at us".

3.3.4 Numerals
This culture works with a base 10 numeric system.

Number Cardinal Form Ordinal Form
1 ka kara
2 li lil
3 sou soun
4 rei rein
5 mour mourd
6 grou groum
7 nqi nqin
8 bae baes
9 trai traik
10 tha thand

Cardinal numerals are used to mark items during counting, and to answer questions of the form "how many?". Cardinal numerals are also used in combination with demonstratives, becoming a prefix on the determiner. One would not use both a cardinal numeral and a quantifier attached to a demonstrative at the same time.

Ordinal numerals indicate an items place in a sequence, and may be used to answer questions of the form "which one?". Ordinal numerals may also be used as modifiers on demonstratives. The numeral will again be combined as a prefix onto the demonstrative. Ordinals may be used in combination with quantifiers, in which case the components would take the order . This would be done to identify sets or groups of items.

(Examples to be provided TBD)

3.3.5 Case Markings
Pronouns, Demonstratives and Particles With Case Markings
NominativeAccusativeDative PossessiveInstrumental
vouirvouirimvouiratvouiraf vouirout
voulirvoulirimvouliratvouliraf voulirout
dardarimdaratdaraf darout
darirdaririmdariratdariraf darirout
ilaila'imilatilaf ilaout
ataata'imatatataf ataout
soulasoula'imsoulatsoulaf soulaout
soulirsoulirimsouliratsouliraf soulirout
tantanimtanattanaf tanout
tanirtanirimtanirattaniraf tanirout
seisei'imseiatseiaf seiout
nana'imnatnaf naout
tirtirimtirattiraf tirout
vaenvaenimvaenatvaenaf vaenout
airoulairoulimairoulatairoulaf airoulout
vava'imvatvaf vaout

4.0 Syntax

4.1 Sentence Structure

Basic sentence structure is SVO, although a fair flexibility is allowed due to the case markings on nominal phrases. Adjectival modifiers precede their head, and relational modifiers (similar to English prepositions) follow the head of the phrase.

Old Arvandran does not have a separate passive voice. But the effect can be achieved by not stating a subject.

Examples of use of subject presence and absence
dis (v. tr.) "to bring"
mart(n.) "horse"

vou disamamait na'im mart = "I brought a horse."

disamumait na'im mart = "A horse was brought." When the actor is unstated, the 3rd person, singular, animate tense marker is used.

ila disamumait na'im mart = "He brought a horse."

soulir disamupait na'im mart = "They brought a horse."

4.2 Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are formed basically by embedding sentences into each other. The embedding may be linked on nominal phrases, or on predicates which have been nominalized.

4.2.1 Nominal Phrase as Relative Clause

The simplest relative clauses derive from the combination of two sentences where a common nominal referent is used to link them.

dheimour (v. tr.) "to look at"
talmar(n.) "cat"
mart(n.) "horse"

sei talmar dheimouradunait ata'im = "The cat looked at her."

ata savitadumait ilam = "She saw him."

In this first example, "she" from the second sentence will be linked to, or embedded into, the "her" of the first sentence. The linked phrase from the outer sentence will be replaced by the relative particle va, which does take the appropriate case marking for the phrase (see table of cases). In the embedded clause, the particle gu is prefixed to the linked phrase.

sei talmar dheimouradumait va'im gu'ata savitadumait ilam = "The cat looked at she who saw him."

In this version, the object of the second sentence instead becomes the object of the first sentence. The uncombined sentences would be "The cat saw him", "She saw him", and the objects of both form the link. Notice that the word order does not need to change, due to the use of case markings, but it would still be proper.

sei talmar dheimouradumait va'im ata savitadumait gu'ilam = "The cat looked at him who she saw."

sei talmar dheimouradumait va'im gu'ilam savitadumait ata = basically the same meaning, but another translation might be "The cat looked at him who was seen by her."

Of course, any nominal phrase in either statement can particpate in the link. Here is "The cat looked at her", with embedded "The horse saw the cat", with "the cat" as the link.

va dheimouradumait ata'im sei mart savitadumait gusei talmar" = "The cat who the horse saw, looked at her." More literally: "The one looked at her, that was the cat the horse saw."

4.2.2 Predicate as Relative Clause

5.0 Lexicon

6.0 Orthography

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Last updated 99/10/08 -- L. Gerholz