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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:39 pm 
Sumerul
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I felt like doing something a little different, so I’m making a less serious “world-free” conlang that could reasonably be inserted into various fantasy settings. Since I’ve always been fond of Tolkien’s Black Speech, this is a language that would be spoken by standard fantasy orcs or other “monster people” species. I hope to make it both fit the phonaesthetic stereotype and be interestingly distinctive.

Terghbaz: An overview

Terghbaz (“Orcspeech”) is:
  • SVO, and displaying a mix of head-initial and head-final traits
  • Low on synthesis, heavy on analysis
  • Heavy on consonant clusters, closed syllables, and monosyllables, leading to a “terse” feel
  • Very liberal in its use of a relatively small number of grammatical inflections

It is also significantly inspired by the odder features of English. I’ve never done a deliberately Englishy conlang and thought this would be fun.

Within the general constraints of “spoken by standard fantasy orcs”, Terghbaz is designed to be fairly flexible in what kind of culture it can be assigned to. To that end, the vocabulary will be fairly generic and the inclusion of numerous terms will be optional depending on details of the setting.

Phonology: Inventory and phonetics

Segments are followed by their romanization in bold.

/m n/ m n
/(p) b t d ts dz tʃ dʒ k g/ (p) b t d tz dz ch j k g
/f v s z ʃ ʒ χ ʁ h/ f v s z sh zh kh gh h
/r l/ r l

/i e a ɤ o u/ i e a ŭ o u
/aj aw/ ai au

Terghbaz is slightly unusual in lacking /p/ despite having all of /m b f v/. It does have [p], but only in the sequences [sp] and [ʃp]. Since [f] does not occur after /s/ or /ʃ/ (and prefixes ending in these sounds convert it to [p]), it is simplest to treat [p] as an allophone of /f/ after sibilants.

The language is also unusual in that not only does it lack phonemic glides, it nearly lacks them phonetically as well. Glides occur exclusively as part of the diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/. /v/ and /dʒ/ derive from older glides, though, as evidenced by their use to break vowel-vowel hiatus.

Both of the liquid consonants are phonetically velarized: /l/ is always dark [ɫ] and /r/ is a velarized alveolar trill [rˠ].

As in English or German, the voicing distinction in stops is based in part on aspiration. Voiceless stops are strongly aspirated word-initially (devoicing the beginning of a following sonorant) and lightly aspirated elsewhere, although they are never aspirated at all after /s/ or /ʃ/. (Note that because of this rule and its distribution, [p] is never aspirated.) Voiced stops have delayed onset of voicing word-initially and are fully voiced elsewhere.

The vowels /i u e ɤ o/ have lax allophones [ɪ ʊ ɛ ʌ ɔ] in closed syllables, as well as in open syllables before /r/ or the uvular fricatives. /a/ is normally an open central vowel, but is retracted to [ɑ] in the vicinity of liquids and uvulars (in either direction), as are the beginnings of the diphthongs. For most speakers some subsets of the vowels merge in fully unstressed syllables, but which subsets vary, so I have left them differentiated in the transcription, with one exception: A merger of /a/ and /ɤ/ into [ɐ], here written a, is present for the vast majority of speakers. Mergers of /i/ and /e/, and of /u/ and /o/, are common. Also common is a two-way opposition of some higher central vowel for /i e u/ and a lower one for /ɤ o a/.

/m/ and /n/ merge into [ŋ] before velars and [ɴ] before uvulars, respectively. In both cases the nasal is written n.

Phonology: Phonotactics

The syllable structure of Terghbaz can be summed up as “English with gaps filled in and more places for dorsals to go”. Most possible syllables are covered by the form (S)(C)(L)V(L)(N)(C)(K), where:
  • S is a sibilant fricative
  • L is a liquid
  • N is a nasal
  • K is a velar stop

Aside from the final velar stops, this differs from English by allowing voiced sibilant + consonant onsets, alveolar stop + /l/ onsets, /m/ plus liquid onsets, and /h/ + liquid onsets.. While Terghbaz is quite content to allow voiceless and voiced consonants to abut across syllable boundaries, within an onset or coda cluster obstruents must agree in voicing. (Note that I said “obstruents”; /sn/ and /zn/ are both possible onsets, for example.) Syllables that occur but are outside this formula include ones with dorsal consonant + /n/ or dorsal + /v/ as onsets. Clusters ending in /v/ are not subject to the voicing rule, e.g. the common onset /kv/, which still has a voiced fricative (delayed, because of the aspiration on /k/).

Terghbaz does not allow vowels to abut word-internally. Where this would happen, the hiatus is broken with a consonant. After /i/ and /aj/, that consonant is /dʒ/. After /u/ and /aw/, it is /v/. After all other vowels, it is /g/.

Phonology: Prosody

Terghbaz is a stress-accented language, like English, German, or Russian. Stress is phonemic, although the majority of words receive a primary stress on the first root syllable and secondary stresses on every second syllable after it, or on the next root syllable if applicable. Stress manifests as a greater length of the syllable in question accompanied by a raises, falling pitch. The general tonal pattern of a sentence is gradually lowering pitch regardless of the type of sentence, although certain clause-final particles such as the interrogative bauga have a rising pitch.

A note

Most European languages have some subset of the coronals (especially /n t d s l r/) as the most common consonants. In Terghbaz the most common consonants are the dorsals and the rhotic.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

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Last edited by Chengjiang on Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:47 pm 
Sanno
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Chengjiang wrote:
Since I’ve always been fond of Tolkien’s Black Speech...
[*]SVO, and displaying a mix of head-initial and head-final traits
[*]Low on synthesis, heavy on analysis
[*]Heavy on consonant clusters


Interestingly, the Black Speech may be SOV, and at least puts prepositional phrases before the verb; it also has plenty of synthesis, and a very restricted number of clusters, although it does seem to like closed syllables.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:13 pm 
Sumerul
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Salmoneus wrote:
Interestingly, the Black Speech may be SOV, and at least puts prepositional phrases before the verb; it also has plenty of synthesis, and a very restricted number of clusters, although it does seem to like closed syllables.


I’m quite aware of this. As I said, I wanted this language to fit the stereotypical phonological traits of what orc names and languages sound like in modern fantasy. I’m not actually basing the morphology or syntax on the Black Speech. The Black Speech was just the thing that got me interested in this kind of sound originally, and in hindsight there wasn’t much point in bringing it up.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:06 pm 
Osän
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This looks pretty well made so far. The phonotactics seem well thought out, and while the sturdiness of /ʌ/ seems odd, Im guessing you chose that on purpose fully aware that it stands close to two of the other vowels. Some people say that English lax vowels, especially /ʌ/, have a rude sound. Did that influence your choice? It could be that they only sound rude because they occur only in closed syllables, and mostly in closed stressed syllables.

I imagine you might need a few more rules on the phonotactics to prevent clusters like /χk/ at the end of a word ... or is that allowed? If so I'd be tempted to include either uvular allophones for the stops or (less likely) velar allophones for the fricatives ... but I could be wrong about this. What I do know is that velar/uvular clusters are generally not found when both of them have the same MOA.

The phonology is actually not much different from English. Im not sure if thats on prpose, but if you later find you want a language with a sharper bite, you could ocnsider adding ejectives and/or pharyngealized vowels, both of which are found in Caucasian languages which I find to be the "sharpest" and harshest languages Ive ever heard in person. (though to be honest, Ive probably only ever heard one of them: Georgian, which doesnt have the pharyngeal vowels, but does have nice things like "miqvarkhar" ~ "I love you" and a few words with four or more initial consonants in a row). I remember once I was eating lunch at the mall and a really beautiful woman next to me started choking on her noodles and just couldnt stop. I grabbed her around the belly and squeezed as hard as i could but she kept going and i realized she was trying to communicate in her language, some Eastern Caucasian language that has like 79 consonants. I think she said "thanks Im okay!!" but it sounded more like "kʷhq̇'ṭəśḳiqā"

Will this language have grammatical gender?

Oh, also, what about clusters + h? Not a problem for the phonology, but the Romanization could get ambiguous if, for example, /s/ + /h/ can occur over syllable boundaries (or even within a syllable).

Can /ts/ contrast with a sequence of /t/ + /s/ or are you listing it as a single phoneme to show that it can "fit" in a single slot in the syllable strucutre rather than occupying two?

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:17 pm 
Sumerul
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Soap wrote:
This looks pretty well made so far. The phonotactics seem well thought out, and while the sturdiness of /ʌ/ seems odd, Im guessing you chose that on purpose fully aware that it stands close to two of the other vowels.


I did. It’s actuslly inspired somewhat by Bulgarian’s /ɤ/, and like that vowel it coalesces situationally or completely with /a/ for some speakers.

Quote:
Some people say that English lax vowels, especially /ʌ/, have a rude sound. Did that influence your choice?


It did.

Quote:
I imagine you might need a few more rules on the phonotactics to prevent clusters like /χk/ at the end of a word ... or is that allowed?


It is! Velars become uvular next to uvulars, as (IIRC) is common in French.

Quote:
The phonology is actually not much different from English. Im not sure if thats on prpose, but if you later find you want a language with a sharper bite, you could ocnsider adding ejectives and/or pharyngealized vowels


I was considering that, but I’ve decided that I like the phonology as is. Also, most of the similarity to English is on purpose, because it amuses me that in a lot of respects English actually fits what fantasy seems to consider ugly in languages.

Quote:
Will this language have grammatical gender?


No.

Quote:
Oh, also, what about clusters + h? Not a problem for the phonology, but the Romanization could get ambiguous if, for example, /s/ + /h/ can occur over syllable boundaries (or even within a syllable).


/h/ has a more or less modern Germanic distribution: It can’t follow consonants within a syllable, it can’t show up in the coda, and while it can follow other consonants across a syllable boundary this is limited to cases where it’s also a morpheme boundary. Thus, sources of orthographic ambiguity exist but are limited.

Quote:
Can /ts/ contrast with a sequence of /t/ + /s/ or are you listing it as a single phoneme to show that it can "fit" in a single slot in the syllable strucutre rather than occupying two?


It does marginally contrast with the cluster; I omitted the tie bar out of laziness. Mretsa /mret.sa/ “catlike; feline” forms a minimal pair with mretza /mre.t͡sa/ “(he/she/it) creeps”. In the former, the /e/ is laxed and slightly shorter in duration since the syllable includes a coda, while in the latter the vowel is tense and slightly longer. Additionally, in the former the /t/ may have a separate release from the /s/, although this distinction is likely to not exist in rapid speech. Now having said this, I’m not sure there will be any minimal pairs that don’t involve a syllable boundary (nothing like Polish czy vs. trzy), but this type of distinction seems to be generally accepted as sufficient to define affricates as phonemes in many languages.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:00 pm 
Sumerul
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Note: I slightly modified the vowel system from my original post: /ɤ/ now has significant allophony and some level of vowel reduction in unstressed syllables exists.

Morphophonology: The Great Terghbaz Vowel Shift

Rather like English, Terghbaz had a chain shift of long vowels to new values at one point in its past. Unlike English, Terghbaz then proceeded to merge several of its vowels post-shift, mainly by merging similar short and long vowels.

Pre-shift, Terghbaz had the following vowel inventory:
/i u e ə o a/
/iː uː eː əː oː aː/

These vowels changed in the following fashion, in approximately the order given here:

[əː] > [wa] > [va] or [a] depending on other factors
[iː] > [aj]
[uː] > [aw]
[eː] > [iː]
[oː] > [uː]
[aː] > [oː]
[ə] > [ɤ]

Some time after this shift, vowel length ceased to be contrastive, becoming instead allophonic based on the presence or absence of a syllable coda, and thus the remaining long vowels merged with their new short counterparts. Still later this length variation became tenseness.

The sequence [wa] from former [əː] did some interesting things when [w] shifted to [v]. The [w] was deleted after labials, as well as after the sequences /Cr Cl Cn/. After onsets consisting solely of /r l n/, the new [v] metathesized with them, leading to [vr vl vn]. [hw] became [f]. Because the consonant that we write j was some sort of dorsal palatal obstruent at the time, clusters of it and [w] became [gv]. Lastly, in other situations [wa] simply went to [va].

Early Terghbaz shortened long vowels when they were followed by at least two short-vowel syllables or at least one long-vowel syllable in the same word. Thus, certain suffixes in modern Terghbaz cause former long vowels to shift to their old short counterparts. In some cases this actually reflects the history of the root; in others it has been extended to original short vowels by analogy. Also, in some cases the suffix has lost a vowel since the era when this rule solidified. Thus, the suffixes that cause this to happen must be memorized. Former [əː] can lead to some strange alternations, e.g. gvan “sheep” versus jŭnkaur “shepherd”, or fadz “beer, ale” versus hŭdzknezh “festival”.

Morphophonology: Ablaut

Terghbaz uses vowel ablaut to distinguish between verb forms and to distinguish verbs from deverbals, like many IE languages and like the Germanic languages in particular. I haven’t worked out the specifics yet, but I do know that strong verbs back and/or lengthen the vowel (as of the pre-shift values), e.g. baza “(s/he) speaks” vs. buz “spoke”.

Morphophonology: -g
,
I’m giving this ending its own section because it is far and away the most common morpheme, appearing on nouns and verbs alike.

The regular plural ending is -g. It has the allomorphs -k after voiceless consonants and -ig after velar stops. There is an exception to this last rule: Nouns with the agentive ending -ok end in -og in the plural rather thsn the expected *-okig. The ending triggers assimilation in final nasals, thus shrum “prophetic vision” yields shrung “visions”.

...Or rather, this is how it works in the most standard dialect that I’m mostly showing here. Many speakers extend the vowel epenthesis to all dorsal consonants (thus including the fricatives) or all stops (thus including /b t d/). These are actually mild conservatism, as the suffix previously contained a vowel that was lost in most environments. Still other speakers analogize the behavior of -ok to more, in some cases all, instances of final /k/, converting them directly tp /g/ in the plural. Lastly, some speakers delete final stops before this suffix, while transferring their voicing to it, e.g. mrek for standard mretk “cats”.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:10 pm 
Osän
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So the -/g/ morpheme marks plurality on both nouns and verbs?

Also, I might have found a tiny inconstistency, and if not, I have a question. You mention that -g has an allomorph of /k/ after non-velar stops, including /p/ ... but there is no [p] according to the description in the first post, except after sibilants ... and that post also says a syllable cannot end in a sequence of a sibilant plus a non-velar stop. Does this mean that words ending in, for example, /-st/ are not possible? That's perfectly OK, of course, but it would be an exception to the generalization that Terghbaz is English with the gaps filled in.

I like the fossilized word pairs like /gvan/ ~ /jŭnkaur/ .... obscurity it one of my favorite parts of word building. Its just more fun when words have histories.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:11 am 
Sumerul
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Quote:
So the -/g/ morpheme marks plurality on both nouns and verbs?


And predicate adjectives, too! The verbs are former deverbals and conjugate for number (of the subject) but not person.

The mention of /p/ was just sloppiness; there’s still no /p/. Also, the description I’ve given for the syllable structure is very rough and I’m still working out the details. That said, some two-obstruent sequences definitely can occur in the coda besides the +g/k ones, among them sibilant + stop.

Sch and zj

There are two common clusters in Terghbaz that deserve special mention; they are written here as sch and zj. These derive historically from sequences of a sibilant followed by /j/, or a sibilant followed by a non-labial stop followed by /j/. They are varyingly pronounced [stʃ zdʒ], [ʃtʃ ʒdʒ], [ʃː ʒː], or [ʃt ʒd]. (This last case is a merger with sequences sht zhd that are pronounced how you’d expect.) They’re probably best treated as clusters, as in Polish, rather than as phonemes as in Russian, but as they’re common and distinctive sounding, and the native writing system gives them their own letters, I thought they were worth a mention.

By the by, what does this sound like so far? I’d kind of been going for “Slavic-influenced Germanic language”, but I don’t know if that’s what it actually sounds like.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:32 pm 
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Chengjiang wrote:
By the by, what does this sound like so far? I’d kind of been going for “Slavic-influenced Germanic language”, but I don’t know if that’s what it actually sounds like.


From what I've read so far, it feels heavily Slavic in character to me. I'm not quite picking up on Germanic (yet) but the corpus here is very small. I do like the aesthetic though.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:41 am 
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I like this, an "orkish" sounding language was an idea that I played around with for a while without ever getting anywhere. I'm eager to see more.

Rather than Slavic, I would say based on what little vocab we have that it sounds a little bit like Persian - at least the name of the language does!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:40 pm 
Sumerul
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spanick wrote:
Chengjiang wrote:
By the by, what does this sound like so far? I’d kind of been going for “Slavic-influenced Germanic language”, but I don’t know if that’s what it actually sounds like.


From what I've read so far, it feels heavily Slavic in character to me. I'm not quite picking up on Germanic (yet) but the corpus here is very small. I do like the aesthetic though.


OK, I’ll keep that in mind.

Here’s an extremely scattered assortment of words thus far, to give some feel for the sound. Nouns are given in the singular (as in English, case barely exists), verbs in the infinitive.

Fauna, domestic

The sex and age prefixes are shown on the word for cattle as examples; they can be applied to most animals.
jer- male of X (X cannot be an orc)
ush- female of X (X cannot be an orc)
vŭrt- juvenile of X (X cannot be an orc)
hruk cow, head of cattle (generally assumed to mean a female without further context)
jerhruk bull
ushhruk cow, explicitly female (mostly used in conjunction with jerhruk)
vŭrthruk calf
gerd pig
fuz horse
baitz ass
shrak chicken
tord duck
laush goose
gvan sheep
traif goat
mret cat
sau dog

Fauna, wild

(Don’t take the exact selection of animals here too seriously. This list is going to be modified later to allow for a more multiple-choice approach to where the speakers live.)
khur deer
ghresh wild bovine, buffalo
zul wolf
deg bear
naugh fox
mauha lion
ertz squirrel
ŭlbin hedgehog
baichŭl badger
freskh weasel
orv mouse
urv rat
dezh rabbit
gradezh hare
sinz bird
kork crow
virfŭl sparrow
skrelt lizard
zhaukla dragon
ghont turtle
blov fish

Flora

fŭlb flower
tetzk thorn
vif leaf
eshp stem
dzob fruit
khast root
vuzd tree
shkod wood

Foodstuffs

kolv bread
kom egg
naik milk
fai oil
bas fat
krev meat

People

(As this isn’t designed for any particular setting, I’ve simply provided terms for some of the more common intelligent species in modern fantasy; they can be reassigned to refer to other species if needed.)

bazok sentient being, literally “speaker”
tergh orc
tzai adult female orc
gro adult male orc
vlich orc child (gender is usually indicated if needed by prefixing the adult terms, thus grovlich “boy”; tzaivlich “girl”)
benku human (non-orcs use the animal prefixes to distinguish them by gender and age)
jojot elf
vesk dwarf
kharm troll
dimik halfling
voz spirit

Natural features

jŭd rock
kvas water
shrem soil
mob plain
zor mountain
zit hill
flach sky
ogh wind
trekh cloud
ghutesh sun
fondz moon
vakhsh stars (collective; a single star is vakhshtzil, a “grain of stars”)

Body

kŭd bone
knu skin
bas fat
gausch sinew
krev muscle
vraus blood
ulzj brain
ŭrk gut, intestine
marg heart
spogh stomach
dzŭgish liver
neft lungs
blez eye
miv ear
shan nose
gorf mouth
ŭz tooth
lakh tongue
glusch throat
mav arm
shtok hand
gai leg
kaud foot
bekh chest
vaig back
dosk buttocks
dŭrk penis
trauf vulva

Basic actions

zaltan run
keften walk
skan see
khan say
bazan speak
nezhen make
stergen think
kreken eat
ghoven have
baugan not do

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:49 pm 
Sumerul
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Personal pronouns

jesh I
org we
kram you (singular; orc)
krang you (plural; orc)
ku he/she (orc)
kug they (orc)
et non-ego (singular; non-orc)
etk non-ego (plural; non-orc)

Note that only the first person plural is suppletive while the others are regular, and even then the first person plural appears to contain a plural suffix. Note also the distinction between pronouns to be used for orcs and pronouns to be used for non-orcs, the latter of which can be used with a second- or third-person meaning. (Non-orcs speaking Terghbaz would still use jesh to refer to themselves.)

The greater regularity of these forms than is common in SAE languages extends to possession; they regularly take the genitive suffix -u, thus jeshu “my”, kramu “your”, kuvu “his/her” with regular epenthesis.

Other pronouns

shval who
shŭz what; which
shŭjin when
shŭnd where
dershval why; how
fersh this
hŭrsh that
kaiza now
hŭrshin then
find here
fand there

There are more anaphora than this expressible as phrases, but I haven’t worked out the full determiner system yet. Shŭz, fersh, and hŭrsh can all be used as determiners, and can also all take the plural and genitive suffixes, e.g. hŭrshku “of those”. Shval pluralizes to shŭzg but genitivizes normally.

Articles

ka(r) a(n); the consonant-final form is used before vowel-initial words
raul some

Nouns in Terghbaz are definite by default. Definiteness is indicated by the absence of an article, thus raul saug “some dogs” versus saug “the dogs”. As its absence makes the noun definite, the plural indefinite article cannot be omitted as it is in English.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:46 am 
Smeric
Smeric
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Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2002 11:17 pm
Posts: 2206
Any more word on this? I was keen to find out how the verbs work.

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Duxirti petivevoumu tinaya to tiei šuniš muruvax ulivatimi naya to šizeni.


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