is a language of mine that has steadily grown to become my current conlang in the making after Kozea
(which you might be acquainted with either through my YouTube channel KozeaDaily
or the conlangery podcast). To some extent, it carries on with it some basic ideas from Kozea (such as the lack of a proper copula or an auxilary verb indicating possession) but also diverges a great deal from it (there are no nouns or adjectives [these are both technically verbs in Vanga] or any grammatical sexual gender distinction and the alignment is ergative).
Vanga can basically be described as a fairly polysynthetic verb-only* language with noun** incorporation and no grammatical sex, although it does display gender in the form of a distinction between animate/active objects and inanimate/inactive ones. Due to this nature, meaning can be given through a great deal of affixes. It has prefixes, suffixes, infixes and circumfixes. It is an absolutive-ergative language.
* There is, in fact, a marginal set of true nominals. The pronouns.
** Since there are no proper nouns, I will instead refer to this as root incorporation further on.
I have programmed an online dictionary
for the language, but I just wiped it clean of all its contents as the old information is no longer valid. I will refill it as soon as I can with the new stuff.
Here are some abbreviations of my glosses
that you might want to be aware of:
<CONTR> = contraction – Indicates that a word is the contracted form of another.
<ABLAUT> = ablaut – Indicates that the word has simply had an ablaut. This usually has a causative meaning.
IMPS = impersonal – No certain person is doing the action.
ESS = essence – The rough equivalent of a copula.
SEMBL = semblative – Indicates that something is alike something else.
REL = relative – Indicates the function of a relative pronoun ('that'; 'who'; 'which'). You will see this a lot.
INT = interrogative – As a root, an interrogative pronoun. As a suffix, an interrogative mood.
DEM = demonstrative – As a root, a demonstrative pronoun.
It might be good to be aware of the fact that I like to be extremely detailed when writing my glosses and thus write the original
meaning of each part of a compound word instead of an actual meaning
, but I will gloss it as bleed-carry-REL.ANIM-GEN
; "which belongs to one who carries blood"
). Proper clarifications will be given as literal translations after the proper translations.1 Phonology, phonotactics, orthography and romanisation
The language contains a fair amount of sounds and through allophony they grow to a slightly obscene amount, but I can assure you, there are worse things to be found in the real world. We shall begin with the phonomes. That is, the sounds that I will write between slashes, and that will be a rare sight since those transcriptions are very undescriptive when it comes to the main dialect, of which the pronunciation has diverged a fair amount from the time when the orthography, which the romanisation seeks to mimic, was first created.
Monopthongs, geminated and not:
/aː a ã eː e ẽ iː i ĩ oː o õ uː u ũ yː y ỹ æː æ œ/
⟨á a ą é e ę í i į ó o ǫ ú u ų ý y y̨ ǽ æ œ⟩
Diphthongs and the one triphthong:
/a͡u ã͡ũ a͡i ã͡ĩ e͡i ẽ͡ĩ e͡y ẽ͡ỹ e͡u ẽ͡ũ i͡u i̯e͡u o͡u õ͡ũ o͡y õ͡ỹ u͡i ũ͡ĩ æ͡i æ͡u œ͡u œ͡y/
⟨au ąu ai ąi ei ęi ey ęy eu ęu iu ieu ou ǫu oy ǫy ui ųi æi æu œu œy⟩
/l̩ m̩ n̩ ŋ̩ s̩ ʃ̩ z̩ ʒ̩/
⟨ĺ ḿ ń ńn ś śs ź źz⟩
/p t k d ɡ q h f w j l l̥ m m̥ n n̥ ŋ ŋ̊ s z ʃ ʒ/
⟨p t k d g q h f w j l ḷ m ṃ n ṇ nn ṇṇ s z ss zz⟩
/pː tː kː dː ɡː qː hː fː wː jː lː l̥ː mː m̥ː ŋː ŋ̊ː ʃː ʒː/
⟨pp tt kk dd gg qq hh ff ww jj ll ḷḷ mm ṃṃ nnj ṇṇj ssj zzj⟩
This is all fairly nice and clean, but this is not the true story. Looking at all
of the allophones (some of which are extremely marginal, though) of the main dialect, the picture looks more like this:
Monopthongs, geminated and not:
[aː ɑ ã ɛː ɛ ɛ̃ iː ɪ ɯ ĩ ɔː ɔ ɔ̃ ʊː ʊ ʊ̃ yː ʏ ỹ æː æ œ]
Diphthongs and the one triphthong:
[a͡ʊ ã͡ʊ̃ a͡ɪ ã͡ɪ̃ ɛ͡ɪ ɛ̃͡ɪ̃ ɛ͡ʏ ɛ̃͡ʏ̃ ɪ̯œ͡ʊ œ͡ʊ ɔ͡ʊ ɔ̃͡ʊ̃ ɔ͡ʏ ɔ̃͡ʏ̃ ʊ͡ɪ ʊ̃͡ɪ̃ æ͡ɪ œ͡ʏ]
[l̩ l̥̩ ɫ̩ ɫ̥̩ m̩ m̥̩ ɱ̩ ɱ̩̊ n̩ n̥̩ ŋ̩ s̻̩ z̩ ɕ̩ ʑ̩]
[p t k ɡ ɣ q h ç ɧ ɧ̽ f ɸ v ʋ ʍ w j θ ð l ɫ l̥ ɫ̥ ɬ m m̥ ɱ n n̥ ŋ ŋ̊ s̻ z ɕ ʑ]
[pː tː kː ɣː qː çː ɧː ħː ɸː ʍː wː jː θː ðː l̥ː mː m̥ː ɱː nː n̥ː ŋː ŋ̊ː ɕː ʑː]
The orthography thus isn't always entirely obvious for the main dialect (the variety that will be used throughout this presentation). The main things to be aware of include that /l/ is realised as [w] between vowels and finally after a vowel and that stop consonants may be stuck in here and there; /sn sl hn hl/ are realised as [s̻tn̥ s̻tl̥ htn̥ htl̥], for example, and /ws/ becomes [wps̻]. This happens between word boundaries too.
Also, /ld ln/ are simply realised as geminates [lː nː] and the original geminate /lː/ is actually devoiced to /l̥ː/. Another thing to be well aware of is that /i/ (regardless of length and nasality) becomes [ʊ] before glides and the velar nasal (that is, /w j ŋ/). Before a velar nasal, also /a æ y œ/ become [ɛ a œ ɔ], respectively, and /q/ turns preceding /a i y l/ into [æ ɛ͡ɪ œ ɫ]. /af of œf æf/ are [a͡ʊɸ ɔ͡ʊɸ œ͡ʊɸ œ͡ʊɸ] and /ef if yf/ are [ɛ͡ɪç œ͡ʏç œ͡ʏç] (however, before another vowel, /if yf/ become [œ͡ʏɸ œ͡ʏɸ]).
Also, voiceless sounds tend to devoice others. In clusters with voiceless stops, for example, /l/, all nasals and voiced stops are devoiced. In clusters with stops and nasals, /f v w/ become [p], which is reflected in the romanisation. Glides might turn into each other in each other's vincity.
As for the true orthography, it is a script of mine, and it actually is less clear than the romanisation; it makes no difference between ⟨p w f⟩, for example. I will show this script at a different time.
The basic syllable structure is something like (C)(C)(C)V(C)(C)(C), where V can be a vowel or a syllabic consonant. The language displays a great amount of vowel harmony
. Vowels of morphemes that change depending on the harmony enforced by the stem will be denoted by ⟨A⟩ and vowels in morphemes that demand a specific harmony will be marked with an underscore, such as ⟨a
⟩. If a word has an unpredictable harmony, I might say so explicitly by saying that it has 'X harmony', where X is the vowel in lowercase.Stress is always on the first syllable of a word.2. Verbs
Oh, boy. This will be a big section. As you have understood by now, verbs are a great deal in Vanga, and constitute the great majority of its lexicon and grammar. Let us take it easy, one step by one.2.1 Agreement
To be aware of the agreement is probably a good thing to begin with. Vanga inflects for three tenses
(present, past and future) in two moods
(indicative and subjunctive/imperative) in four persons
and three numbers
(singular, dual and plural). Every verb also has an impersonal form that agrees with none of these things, and, very importantly, two so called relative
forms, which are used to approximate nouns. Let us have a look at this.
The simplest form of any verb is the third person singular present indicative
which has no affixes at all and is just the bare stem. As all verbs make use of affixes of all types, including infixes, dashes will be used to indicate such opening points. For example, the stem ko-g
means 'to shake'
, and the position of the dash indicates that we could, for example, attach the past tense infix -(A)l(A)-
, which would yield kolug
; 'he/she/it shaked/was shaking/has shaked/had shaked'
Sometimes, parentheses with an additional form with more dashes will be used to indicate that the stem might change when affixes are applied. For example, the phonotactics prevent the cluster /sk/ from appearing at the end of a word, contracting it to /s/, but as /sk/ might still be the underlying form of the stem, which will reappear when suffixes are attached, we get stems such as ú-s(k-)
('to be bright'
), which in the simplest form is just ús
('he/she/it is bright'
), but in another form, such as the first person, is úskuj
('I am bright'
The past and future tense suffixes almost always shorten a long stem vowel. We thus also get the past forms ulskuj
('I was bright'
) and usl
('he/she/it was bright
; this is obviously a slightly irregular form since the infix -l-
has jumped after the position indicated by the dash – also remember that the aforementioned phonotactics render this as [ʊs̻tl̥] with an epenthetic [t]).2.1.1 Person
Let us begin with person agreement. This is indicated through a suffix after the stem. This suffix agrees with the vowel harmony of the stem.
1P: -(A)j (for some irregular verbs, especially for stems ending in glides, the glide is simply geminated or left unchanged)
4P: -A[i=y,a=u]n (this one can only become /y/ or /u/)
For some examples, let's swap ús
for a stem that is 100 % regular instead. The stem vi-ld
means 'to talk'
. Not a bad word to learn in the beginning, either.
1P: vildij; 'I speak' (speak-1P.SING)
2P: vildim; 'thou speakest' (speak-2P.SING)
3P: vild; 'he/she/it speaks (3rd person)' (speak.3PS)
4P: vildyn; 'he/she/it speaks (4th person)' (speak-4P.SING)
Note how the fourth person indeed becomes /yn/ rather than /in/, as stated before. Now, you might also wonder exactly what differentiates the fourth person from the third person, as they're both clearly translated the same way into English. The fourth person in Vanga has multiple purposes. It may sometimes be used for reflexive actions ("3PS hit 3PS"
would mean 'A hit B'
while "3PS hit 4PS"
would mean 'A hit himself'
) and other times for disambiguation when there are two different third persons present ("3PS said that 3PS would come"
would mean 'A said that B would come'
while "3PS said that 4PS would come"
would mean 'A said that he (A himself) would come'
Moving on, the numbers are conveniently placed all the way on the other side of the verb, right before the stem. This goes for compound words, too. In compound verbs, the number is still marked on the very last verb of the compounded one, and not at the beginning of the entire thing. Less conveniently, number can be a bit tricky to work with in modern Vanga, due to contraction of the ancient prefixes, that used to be very straight-forward back in the days.
Despite the ancient forms no longer being present, I will still explain them, as they are good to know, for they are indeed still the underlying forms, and knowing those will be helpful in determining the modern forms. It can generally be said that in the past, the forms used to be singular Ø-
(that is, nothing, as we saw above, when inflecting for the singular in all four persons just fine, with no prefix attached), dual Ah-
and plural An-
Now, the /h/ and /n/ of these prefixes quite consistently merged with the initial consonant of the stem of the verb (if there was one), meaning that the dual caused devoicing
and that the plural caused nasalisation
. In the process of this, the initial vowel of the prefix was also lost. However, this loss did not occur when the stem was already devoiced/aspirated or nasal. Instead, the original stem consonant was kept, the prefix one was removed, and instead the vowel was kept. In the case of stems beginning with a vowel, the consonant of the prefix was kept, but the vowel (of the prefix, not of the stem) removed.
This means that we have a few things to think about. We need to know what every consonant devoices/aspirates and nasalises into, for one. If this doesn't even happen, we need instead to remember to keep the vowel of the prefix and remove its consonant and leave the consonant of the stem intact. Nothing will make this clearer than examples, so let us look at some. First, let us look at a table of the consonant mutations.188.8.131.52 Devoicing and aspiration
/Ø/ –› /hØ/
/h/ –› /hː/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/j/ –› /hj/
/w/ –› /hw/
/t/ –› /ht/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/d/ –› /hd/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/k/ –› /q/
/q/ –› /hq/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/g/ –› /hg/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/l/ –› /l̥/
/l̥/ –› /hl/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/m/ –› /m̥/
/m̥/ –› /hm/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/n/ –› /n̥/
/n̥/ –› /hn/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/ŋ/ –› /ŋ̊/
/ŋ̊/ –› /hŋ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/s/ –› /hs/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/z/ –› /s/
/ʃ/ –› /hʃ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/ʒ/ –› /ʃ/
/v/ –› /f/
/f/ –› /hf/ (prefix vowel is kept)
Clusters already beginning with /h/ geminate the /h/ and keep the prefix vowel, such as /hj/ –› /hːj/ (prefix vowel is kept).
Now that we have all of this sorted out, let's try to apply this to a word or two. Why not the two ones from before? That is, vi-ld
. Let us inflect for some dual through devoicing or aspiration.
ús –› hús [hʊːs̻] ('the two of them are bright') – DUAL-be_bright.3P184.108.40.206 Nasalisation
úskuj –› húskuj [ˈhʊːs̻kʊj ('we both are bright') – DUAL-be_bright-1P
usl –› husl [hʊs̻tl̥] ('they were both bright') – DUAL-be_bright<PAST>.3P
vild –› fild [fɯlː] ('they both are speaking') – DUAL-speak.3P
vildij –› fildij [ˈfɯlːʊj] ('we both speak') – DUAL-speak-1P
villdim –› filldim [ˈfɯl̥ːɯm] ('ye both spoke') – DUAL-speak<PAST>-2P
/Ø/ –› /nØ/
/h/ –› /n̥/
/j/ –› /jŋ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/w/ –› /mp/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/t/ –› /d/
/d/ –› /v/
/k/ –› /ŋ̊/
/q/ –› /ŋk/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/g/ –› /ŋ/
/l/ –› /l/ (prefix vowel is kept and nasalised)
/l̥/ –› /l̥/ (prefix vowel is kept and nasalised)
/m/ –› /m/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/m̥/ –› /m̥/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/n/ –› /ŋ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/n̥/ –› /ŋ̊/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/ŋ/ –› /ŋ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/ŋ̊/ –› /ŋ̊ː/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/s/ –› /ns/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/z/ –› /nz/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/ʃ/ –› /nʃ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/ʒ/ –› /nʒ/ (prefix vowel is kept)
/v/ –› /m/
/f/ –› /m̥/
Applying these should be easy by now.
ús –› nús [nʊːs̻] ('they are bright') – PLUR-be_bright.3P
vild –› mild [mɯlː] ('they speak') – PLUR-speak.3P
Since you might also want to see an example of the stem vowel being kept and maybe even nasalised, I will end this part by telling you that mý-n
('to be soft'
) in the plural becomes imýn
) in the plural becomes ąlaij
and finally ha-f
('to be long and thin'
) in the dual becomes ahhaf
There are three tenses in Vanga; present
(unmarked and assumed unless otherwise is specified), past
. We have already had a look at the past tense infix. We saw that the basic form is -(A)l(A)-
. It can also be a syllabic -ĺ-
between two consonants in some words. The future is -(A)st(A)-
. Both of these will usually, as stated before, shorten any long stem vowel of a monosyllabic stem.
| PRES. | PAST | FUT.
3PS | vild | villd | vistild
3PS | ús | usl | usst
1PS | úskuj | ulskuj | ustsskuj
3PS | laij | lailj | laistss
1PS | laijj | lailj | laistssaj
3PS | haf | halp | hastaf
1PS | hafaj | halpaj | hastpaj
As you might notice, there can be little things and special rules to keep in mind for a lot of verbs, but don't be discouraged. Some of them are just plain irregular and otherwise you will probably pick up some patterns soon enough. Note that hastpaj
is realised with an epenthetic [s̻] as [ˈhas̻ts̻pɑj].2.1.3 Mood
We are nearly done with the most basic and familiar set of verb inflections by now, before we move on to more exotic stuff. Vanga has two proper moods. These are the indicative
and the subjunctive
. The indicative is unmarked and assumed if otherwise is not specified. The subjunctive is used to express wishfulness, uncertainty and slight possibility. It also doubles as the imperative
The subjunctive is generally -(A)z-
. In the past and future tense it has merged with those affixes and yielded -(A)sl(A)-
, respectively. Thus ús
is actually the same in the past subjunctive as in the past indicative for the third person, as both become usl
. The first person, on the other hand, can perfectly differentiate the indicative ulskuj
from the subjunctive uslskuj
(pronounced [ˈʊɬːkʊj]). The future subjunctive is in third person uzd
and first person ustsskuj
(in this case, the first person subjunctive becomes the same as its indicative counterpart because of devoicing due to the sounds at the latter part of the stem).220.127.116.11 Moody helper verbs
While these are the only true moods of Vanga, some other things sure do come close to it. AnA-n
is a defective verb (it cannot be used alone and it takes on the vowel harmony of the parent word) that is used as a suffix to indicate will. That is, it functions as a desiderative
mood marker, but functions as a normal verb in a compound and is where to put the entire specification of the action; number at the beginning of this stem, and not at the beginning of the entire compound word, tense and mood at the dash, and person at the end.
For example, úskunun
means 'he wants to be bright'
means 'I want to be bright'
(‹nn› comes from ‹n› + ‹j›, which is not a valid cluster). Adding to this a tense marker gives, for example, úskunulun
('she wanted to be bright'
). With the subjunctive we can get úskunuzn
('it would want to be bright'
) and combining it with a tense, we can make úskunuslun
('he would have wanted to be bright'
) or úskunuzdun
('he would be [going to be] bright'
). The dual present indicative would be úskhunun
('they both want to be bright'
) and the plural equivalent is úsknunun
('they want to be bright'
Note how the ú
remains long, since it is no longer the recipient of the tense marking but just works as a semantical prefix in the compound verb.2.1.4 Impersonal form
The impersonal form a verb is a single form that not inflected for any of the above things. No person, no number, no mood and no tense. It is simply a form that denotes an unspecified or meaningless subject. It can often be used to translate English sentences using 'one'
, when impersonal, or sometimes even 'they'
as in 'they say that […]'
). The ending is -Af
Examples are vildif
[ˈvɯlːœ͡ʏç] ('one speaks'
) or úskuf
[ˈʊːɕkʊɸ] ('one is bright'
).2.2 Relative forms and nominal approximation
This is probably the most interesting part of the language. This is, to a great extent, how the language copes with the lack of nouns and adjectives, although not the only way (the other way is root incorporation).
Vanga has the two suffixes -(A)h
(relative animate and active
, glossed as REL.ANIM
) and -(A)s
(relative inanimate and inactive
, glossed as REL.INANIM
). The latter is much more prone to leaving out the vowel than the former. The basic meaning of the relative animate is '[one] who Xs'
, where X is the meaning of the verb (in the case of ús
, '[one] who is bright'
) and the basic meaning of the inanimate one is '[one] that is Xed'
(in the case of vild
, '[one] that is spoken'
, but since ús
a copula-coloured verb, the inanimate relative of that word has the same meaning as the animate one, but is used with inanimate things).
As the first suffix combines both animacy and activity it does not only signify something that is carrying out the action (rather than being affected by it), but also requires that the signified thing is living, or considered to be alive or sapient in one way or the other. For example, our friend ús
has given rise to the animate relative askah
, indeed quite irregular in its sudden shift of vowel harmony, with the meaning of 'fire'
(and by semantic extension today also 'morning
' and even 'hello
' as a shortening of the phrase for 'good morning'
), quite literally meaning '[one] who is bright'
and because of popular belief, at least at the time, considered a living actor.
Its more regular, inanimate counterpart uskus
gives the meaning of 'torch'
or simply 'light'
and through use of the causative suffix, that we will take a look at another time, there is also ýzdus
(do not confuse this familiar shape with the future subjunctive) which means 'colour'
. As for vild
, we can derive animate vildæh
; "[one] who speaks"
– note that the vowel is æ
rather than something like i
or perhaps y
; this is because the relative suffixes are a little less flexible than certain others and seek to come as close to a
as possible) and inanimate vils
; "[that] which is spoken"
So far, there is of course not much to convince you that these forms should not just be considered regular nouns, as in any other language with nouns, but hold your horses, please. There is a reason for these forms to be called relative
and for their literal translations to contain relative pronouns such as 'who'
. It is because these forms are what correspond to relative clauses in English too and may even connect attributes to their objects.2.2.1 Attributes
Let's look at this concept. Starting out with attributes might be a good thing to do, since these most closely correspond to the equivalent construction in English. Let us approximate adjectives, once again using our, by now quite well-known, good, old acquaintance ús
and speak of the bright sun using the new word we just learned. For now, askah
is fine off treated as though it were just a noun, like in English.askah úskuh
; the bright sunbe_bright<ABLAUT>-REL.ANIM.ABS be_bright-REL.ANIM
See what happened there? Except for the ablaut, both words are glossed exactly the same way. What did happen? The old word askah
has of course become quite lexicalised by now, and the modern relative animate form has been straightened out by analogy. Speakers might not necessarily even realise that these words share a common stem to this day.
Now that that's settled, let us ponder this just a little bit more. A literal translation could be "which is bright which is bright"
. Are you starting to understand why these are called relative forms and why I claim that Vanga is verb-only? The very same inflection that gave us a nominal approximation also doubles as a relative clause and even an attribute. For good reasons, of course. It is, in fact, two relative clauses.
Now, let us remove one of the relative markers and see what happens.askah ús
; the sun is brightbe_bright<ABLAUT>-REL.ANIM.ABS be_bright.3PS
"which is bright is bright"
I suppose no explanation is really needed here. The relative marker was removed and the naked stem is thus to be interpreted as the third person singular indicative in the present tense, as this is the most basic form a verb can have in Vanga.
Note, however, that Vanga prefers VS (verb-subject) word order in non-relative settings when no object is present, and thus the preferred form of the latter sentence would actually be ús askah
Let's take the nominal approximation a step further. While Vanga works with relative verbs, these do take case inflections and function more similarly to real nouns in this sense. However, only active (animate) ones can take the ergative case. Inanimate ones are, as their second name inactive
implies, locked into the absolutive case and, since they may only receive actions, other cases such as the instrumental.
Despite the language having ergative alignment, the ergative
case itself is actually quite rare, thanks to convenient verbs and root incorporation, and we can safely ignore that case for now. More useful is the dative case
, which can be used to denote for whose purpose an action is carried out, or towards whom it is. This ending is -nA
, applied directly after the relative suffix, giving animate -AhnA
. It is, of course, not applicable for inanimate ones.
Let us learn some new vocabulary before we look at this in action.u-w
; 'to eat'
; 'to drink'
; 'to consume'ma-g (ma-ks-)
; 'to invite'
; 'to hold'
; 'to offer'uwma-g (uwma-ks-)
; 'to invite for dinner'
; 'to make dinner plans'vœljæh
for short) (æ
You know how to make the past and the first person by now. You also know how to make the dative. Let's go.uwmalaksaj vœljæhnæ
; I invited a girl for dinner
"I dinner-invited for (a) girl"
You might notice two things here. For one, the object is after the verb even though I said that VS word order is only preferred when there is no object. The reason for the girl to be placed at the end of the sentence here anyway, is to emphasise that it was not a girl necessarily known before (it was 'a girl'
; not 'the girl'
, which would have been suggested by putting her before the verb).
The other thing you might notice is the bizarre glossing of the word for 'girl'
. Well, I told you that I like to be detailed in my glosses, and that was no lie. However, I also made sure to comfort you by promising to explain the most obscure things, and I will. The word for 'boy'
, for short) is similarly glossed as SUPESS-carry-REL.ANIM.ABS<CONTR>.ABS
Now, what this literally means, in the case if the girl, is "who carries above (the belly)"
and for the boy "who carries below (the belly)"
. Carry what? Protrusions! Genitals for the men and breasts for the women, obviously. The longer forms that we see are already contractions of the longer original words, glossed with <CONTR>
, and the even shorter forms have been colloquially contracted further, which would give <CONTR><CONTR>
Let's learn just one more case-like construction before we go. The semblative
, which denotes that something is like
something. This is not a true case since it can be applied to genitive constructions (see below) and even entire clauses and slapped onto other cases, like the dative. The shape of it is -AlAltA
.vœljæhhælæltæ; like the girlSUPESS-carry-REL.ANIM.ABS<CONTR>-SEMBL
This unambiously translates as 'like the girl'
, for 'like a girl'
has a dedicated, contracted form; vœljǽhltæ
.2.2.3 Genitive constructions
Apart from the two relative forms, there is actually yet a third way to approximate nouns. This is to use the genitive form of an already derived relative animate one, which basically gives a sense of "which belongs to one who Xs"
. As the number and person agreement determine to whom the thing belongs, this kind of nominal this is impossible to inflect in any way. Neither case nor number nor person. Absolutive is implicit and number is undefined.
Now, let's wade through a bunch of related vocabulary before we get to the point of this!ṃý-l(j-)
; 'to cut'
; 'to carve'
(can also mean 'to write'
in slang as a back-formation of œyhmýl
; '(a) cut'
; 'to say'
(due to a fossilised collective form, the plural stem is not *nœym
; 'to write'
(both written message and glyph); 'text'
Now, where does this bring us? Well, if œyhmýljæh
means one "who word-cuts"
(= an author), then just ṃýljæh
on its own means one "who cuts"
, of course. Now this might not have the widest application on its own, but it can be used with genitive derivation to create a nominal approximation with a related meaning. The genitive
case ending is -2A
, where the 2
stands for gemination of the previous consonant, so the regular genitive of this word would be ṃýljæhhæ
This would indeed be used if one would actually want to talk of something "belonging to one who cuts"
, but the tooth of time has also ground this into the contracted form ṃýhlæ
, with a specific meaning of 'knife'
. Surely that which belongs to the one who cuts is the knife! Now, due to the aforementioned lack of number inflection in words of this kind, this might as well also mean 'knives'
or 'two knives'
. It will have to be determined by context.ṃýl ṃýhlæ
; the knife cutscut.3PS cut.3PS-REL.ANIM-GEN<CONTR>
We can actually change the person of the relative animate actor to determine whose knife it is. If we change it to the first person, the full form would be ṃýljjæhhæ
, which, for the sense of 'knife'
, is contracted to ṃýhljæ
[ˈm̥œ͡ʏhʎ̥æ] and gives the meaning of 'my knife'
. The literal translation could be "which belongs to me, who cuts"
. Second person yields ṃýlmæhhæ
, contracted to ṃýhlmæ
[ˈm̥œ͡ʏl̥m̥æ] ('thy knife'
What if we want to indicate possession of something where the nominal is not formed out of a genitive which conveniently provides us with the simple tool of just changing the verb's actor? The answer is suffixes. Let us look at different affixes.2.3.1 Possession
The knife part was easy. How about 'my letter
or 'his girl[friend]'
? There are twelve suffixes for this. Just multiply by the four persons by the three numbers.
Just like the relative suffixes, these strive to reach a
in the vowel harmony. So if 'letter'
, then 'my letter'
surely must be *œyhmýlsjæ
, looking at that table, right? No. That is not correct. Why? Because /sj/ is not a permitted cluster. This was turned into /ʃ/ quite some time ago in the history of Vanga. The correct word thus is œyhmýlssæ
. What about 'his letter'
, right? That's what it says in the list! Nuh-uh. Yet another unpermitted consonant cluster, and this one I have actually told you about already. /sw/ becomes /sp/. The word is œyhmýlspæ
We already know the word for to write
by now, so let's get writing that letter of ours. Of his, too.œyhmýlssæijæ [œym]iṃýlj
; we are writing our lettersay-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-POSS.1P [say-]PLUR-carve-1P
[ˈœ͡ʏhm̥œ͡ʏl̥ɕæ͡ɪjæʲ ˈœ͡ʏmɪm̥œ͡ʏʎ̥]œyhmýlspæ œyhmýl
; he is writing her lettersay-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-POSS.3P say-carve-3P
Okay, so we are writing our letter and he is writing his letter. Great! ... Wait a second. He is not writing his letter. He is writing her letter? Her? Whose? Who is she? Why isn't he writing his own letter? Well, I have already explained this. If you want reflexivity, you must use the fourth person. If you use the third person on both the actor and the possessed thing, the possessor of the possessed thing will not be the actor. Let's try again.œyhmýlspænæ œyhmýl
; he is writing his (own) lettersay-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-POSS.4P say-carve-3P
There we go. Much better. I think we are done here.2.3.2 Direct and indirect objects
Vanga has a fair amount of suffixes to mark objects of actions. The very same set of suffixes that mark the direct objects are also used to mark indirect object and the disambiguation actually is precisely the same as the context that allows us to determine that the 'him'
in the English sentence 'I love him'
is direct while in 'I gave him the book'
it is indirect. It's simply obvious. Let us look at thirteen of these suffixes. The first twelve are the same as for the possessive suffixes and the thirteenth one marks a demonstrative object ('this'
) and can be used to say things like ('I love this'
Fairly similar and not much irregularity, actually. What we can determine here is that the -nA-
seems to mean that the suffix marks an object and that the rest of the affix determines which object it is. As for the h
in the demonstrative -nAhi
, this is directly traceable to the demonstrative pronoun hæ
, meaning 'this'
, and is one of the very few true nominals in the language. Let's drive them for a test run!
We can expand on the sentences we just wrote. Let's make him write that letter of his (not of hers) to someone. Maybe he could write it to her. Maybe it's not to a girl. This actually cannot be that simply determined in Vanga, as there is, yet again, no such grammatical distinction between sexes. It doesn't really matter, though, now does it? Let's get going.œyhmýlnæwi œyhmýlspænæ
; he is writing his letter to hersay-carve-3P-OBJ.3PS say-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-POSS.4P
Note how the preferred word order changed back to VS when the object affix was added. Maybe we could even call this VOS (verb-object-subject). That is, after all, the order in which the participants of the sentence appear.
What do we do if we want to include yet another object? Can we stack the suffixes? We can indeed, but we need to remove the first part (the nA-
) of the second suffix we add, and we also need to change that final -i
if the first suffix into an A
before we attach the second suffix to it. Let us make him write his letter to her for our sake
. Why not the both of us
, more specifically, and milk that polysynthesis while we can?œyhmýlnæwæljænti œyhmýlspænæ
; he is writing his letter to her for the sake of the both of ussay-carve-3P-OBJ.3PS.1PD say-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-POSS.4P
[ˈœ͡ʏhm̥œ͡ʏŋœ͡ʊwæljæn̥tɯʲ ˈœ͡ʏhm̥œ͡ʏl̥s̻pænæ]2.3.3 Essence and copular approximation
I did say that there is a way to approximate the copula. Of course, a great amount of verbs inherently carry the meaning 'to be X'
. These generally only describe attributes, though. What about the actually essence or state of being something? How do I say 'it is a boy'
? Is there a verb meaning 'to be a boy'
? Sure there is, because the word that translates to 'boy'
could itself be said to have that meaning, since it is actually the form of a verb. However, Vanga does not work like that, and I think you can figure out why through the previous examples.
Instead, Vanga comes with something called an essence suffix
. In the order of things, possessive affixes come before it, but object affixes come after it. This can be thought of as yet another defect helper verb, such as the desiderative AnA-n
, but it barely displays any vowel harmony and has no tense or mood inflection. It is only inflected for number and person and is more similar to the possessive and objective suffixes.
; it is a lettersay-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-ESS.3PS
; I am a girlSUPESS-carry-REL.ANIM.ABS<CONTR>-ESS.1PS
; thou art a boySUBESS-carry-REL.ANIM.ABS<CONTR>-ESS.2PS
; this is a lettersay-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-ESS.3PS DEM.ABS
[ˈœ͡ʏhm̥œ͡ʏl̥s̻pœn hæ]œyhmýlssæwœn hæ
; this is my lettersay-carve-REL.INANIM.ABS-POSS.1PS-ESS.3PS DEM.ABS
[ˈœ͡ʏhm̥œ͡ʏl̥ɕœ͡ʊwœn hæ]vœuḷḷmǽlæltæwœnnælji æiji
; she doesn't look like thy girlfriend to meSUPESS-carry-REL.ANIM.ABS<CONTR><CONTR>-POSS.2PS-SEMBL-ESS.3PS-OBJ.1PS NEG
[ˈvœ͡ʊl̥ːm̥æːwæl̥tœ͡ʊwɔŋæljɯʷ æ͡ɪjɪ]2.4 Negation
There's a new word, too, in the last sentence. æiji
. It is a general negative
word meaning 'not'
. It is almost invariably placed at the end of the clause no matter which of these meanings it is intended to convey. Despite its polysynthetic nature, Vanga does not have any way to express negation as an affix. This word also means 'no'
as an interjection.2.5 More relative clauses
While the relative suffixes presented already give us some opportunities for translating a lot of English relative clauses, we still can't get too advanced with them, so let us move on and look at some other different subclause markers.2.5.1 Conditional/temporal suffix or conjunction
The conditional clause can be translated into English using the word 'if'
, and the temporal one using 'when'
. These ones can be formed in two ways, that are both analogous to each other.
The first way, very similar to what is done in English, is using the word vaha
, which is actually the genitive of the third person singular personal pronoun, glossed as 3PS-GEN
, and thus also translates into 'its'
. It can be used either before or after the headword of the clause.al-g (al-k-)
; 'to sleep'ál-m
; 'to go'allkaj, vaha allam
or allkaj, allam vahaI was asleep when he leftsleep<PAST>-1PS 3PS-GEN go<PAST>.3PS
or sleep<PAST>-1PS go<PAST>.3PS 3PS-GEN
[ˈal̥ːkɑj ˈvahɑ ˈal̥ːɑm] or [ˈal̥ːkɑj ˈal̥ːɑɱ ˈvahɑ]
Two options here, then. Now, this construction gave us the translation 'when'
. Then how do we get it to translate into 'if'
, like I mentioned? The answer is very simple; we use the subjunctive.ma-nt
; 'to grieve'
)maslantaj, aslam vahaI would be sad if he leftgrieve<SUBJ.PAST>-1PS go<SUBJ.PAST>.3PS 3PS-GEN
[ˈmas̻l̥ɑn̥tɑj ˈas̻l̥ɑɱ ˈvahɑ]
The other way of doing this is to replace vaha
with the temporal
(pronounced [Øzɪ]) after the personal suffix of the verb.allamazid allkajI was asleep when he leftgo<PAST>.3PS-TEMP sleep<PAST>-1PS
"At the time of him leaving, I was sleeping."
[ˈal̥ːɑmɑzɪʲ ˈal̥ːkɑj]aslamazid maslantajI would be sad if he leftgo<SUBJ.PAST>.3PS-TEMP grieve<SUBJ.PAST>-1PS