From Linguifex
Jump to: navigation, search



Brooding is a language spoken in the land of Harken, purportedly created at the dawning of the Last Age by Clyde P. Riddlesbrood.


Some of the cast of Harken, which features many lines of dialogue and song lyrics in Brooding. Clyde P. Riddlesbrood stands on the left.
Riddlesbrood and the Greatest Brochure in the World

Brooding was created by Scott L. Hamilton for the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company based on elements developed by the theater’s director Ryan Long. In the fall of 2014, development and curatorship of the language was assumed by BenJamin P. Johnson.

Brooding has been featured in Riddlesbrood’s theme song, the 2012 play The Dark Side Show, the 2015 play Harken, and the 2016 novel Riddlesbrood and the Greatest Brochure in the World.

Both Scott’s and Jamin’s involvement with Brooding was facilitated by the Language Creation Society (LCS).

General Structure

Languages can be classified (at the extremes) as either synthetic or isolating. Synthetic languages are those languages where much of the sentence and grammar is built into larger words. The extreme are Amerind languages where a single word translates as “I went down to the stream to catch a fish and cook it for dinner.” The other end is languages where grammar is based on word order with lots of little words - Chinese is much like this. Most languages are in between (English is more isolating than Spanish, Latin is more synthetic than Spanish, etc). Brooding falls in the middle with some of the core grammar built into words, but in other places, word order is important.

The basic order of a Brooding sentence is Subject-Verb-Object. This means that the subject comes before the verb, and if there is an object it follows the verb. This is like English. This order is somewhat variable due to things like adding words, artistic license, etc. The one thing that is invariable is that the verb is always the second constituent in the sentence. If you were to add something to the beginning of the sentence (an adverbial phrase, starting off with saying something like “So...” or “Meanwhile,” etc.), that phrase would take the first place in the sentence. The next phrase has to be the verb phrase, and the subject moves to after the verb. Any object will be after the subject. Languages with this structure are known as V2 languages.

(Note, a constituent can be a single word or a phrase. ‘I’ in “I love you” is one constituent. In the sentence ‘The man down the road loves you’, the whole phrase ‘The man down the road’ is one constituent.)



b /b/ as in ‘bee’
p /p/ as in ‘pea’
d /d/ as in ‘deed’
t /t/ as in ‘tea’
g /g/ as in ‘get’
k /k/ as in ‘key’
f /f/ as in ‘fee’
th /θ/ as in ‘thin’
s /s/ as in ‘see’
z /z/ as in ‘zed’
sh /ʃ/ as in ‘she’
kh /x/ as ch in German ‘Bach’
h /h/ as in ‘he’
ch /t͡ʃ/ as in ‘cheek’
Nasals and Liquids
m /m/ as in ‘me’
n /n/ as in ‘need’
ng /ŋ/ as in ‘ring’
l /l/ as in ‘leaf’
r /ɹ/ as in ‘reed’
Semi-Vowels / Glides
w /w/ as in ‘we’
y /j/ as in ‘yea’
  • All but kh are pretty much pronounced as in standard English
  • th is always pronounced as the ‘th’ in thin (/θ/), never as the ‘th’ in thee or they (/ð/)
  • l always pronounced like the ‘l’ in leaf (/l/), never like the ‘ll’ in all or ball (/ɫ/)
  • g is always pronounced like the ‘g’ in get (/ɡ/), never like the ‘g’ in ‘gee’ (d͡ʒ)

Consonant Blends and Clusters

Several of the sounds have a ‘blended’ version. A consonant blend is two consonants in a row pronounced one after the other. Most of these blends only appear at the beginning of syllables. While these blends are represented by a single letter in Brooding orthography, they are two consonant sounds (and this subject to Brooding word structure rules that apply to two consonants in a row).

All obstruents in Brooding, with the exception of the affricate ch. may be followed by a liquid; voiced obstruents are followed by <r> and unvoiced by <l>. Finally, another group of clusters can be formed from <s> plus an unvoiced stop.

br /bɹ/ as in ‘bread’
pl /pl/ as in ‘plea’
dr /dɹ/ as in ‘drum’
tl /tl/ not an English sound. t followed immediately by l
gr /gɹ/ as in ‘grow’
kl /kl/ as cl in ‘clean’
fl /fl/ as in ‘flee’
thl /θl/ as in ‘athlete’, but at the beginning of a word.
sl /sl/ as in ‘sleep’
zr /zɹ/ not an English sound. z followed immediately by r
shl /ʃl/ as schl in ‘schlep’
khl /xl/ not an English sound. x followed immediately by l
hl /hl/ not an English sound. h followed immediately by l
sk /sk/ as in ‘skill’
sp /sp/ as in ‘spill’
st /st/ as in ‘still’
  • As noted above a few of the blends do not occur in English. They take a little practice to say, but aren’t hard. Avoid putting a sound between the sounds - English speakers might have a tendency to insert a vowel in there (like some people pronounce sphere as ‘suh-fear’)


ee /i/ as ee in ‘bee
i /ɪ/ as i in ‘bit’
ae /e/ as ay in ‘bay
e /ɛ/ as e in ‘bet’
aa /æ/ as a in ‘bat’
a /ɑ/ as a in ‘father’
uh /ʌ/ as u in ‘but’
aw /ɔ/ as ou in ‘bought’
o /o/ as oa in ‘boat’
oo /u/ as oo in ‘boot’
ai /aɪ̯/ as i in ‘bite’
au /aʊ̯/ as ow in ‘cow

Contrasting Vowels

Brooding has a concept of contrasting vowels. These are pairs of vowels that are used in various grammatical operations. Some processes require you to take a vowel from a word and change it to its contrasting vowel. For example, if the vowel is ‘oo’, it changes to ‘o’. If it is ‘o’, it changes to ‘oo’.

Here are the pairs of contrasting vowels:

aa a
ae e
ee i
ai au
oo o
aw uh


Syllables in Brooding come in the format (C)(C)V(C)(C). (The C’s are consonants, the V is a vowel.) The ones in parentheses mean they are optional. What that means is that there is a single vowel at the center of every syllable, and there can be up to two consonants before the vowel and up to two consonants after the vowel.

Before the vowel, the allowable consonant (or consonant blends) are listed below. As an aside, each of these has its own character in the Brooding alphabet, so there will always be only one character before the vowel (if any at all).

  • Consonants: b, p, d, t, g, k, f, th, s, z, sh, kh, h, m, n, l, r, y, w, ch
  • Double consonants: br, pl, dr, tl, gr, kl, fl, thl, sl, zr, khl, hl, st, sp, sk

After the vowel is most commonly a single consonant (if anything), but two are possible. Here are the possibilities:

  • Single consonants: b, p, d, t, g, k, f, th, s, z, sh, kh, h, m, n, ng, l, r, ch
  • Double consonants: lb, lp, ld, lt, lg, lk, lf, lth, ls, lz, lsh, lkh, lm, ln, lng, rl, bz, ps, dz, ts, gz, ks, mz, nz, ngz, nd, nt, st, sp, sk


Words are made of syllables, of course, but they have some additional rules.

  • No sequences of vowels in a word (one vowel after another).
  • No double consonants at the end of words.

Some parts of speech have specific requirements in their ‘basic’ forms. The basic form of a word is the form the word takes when not modified at all to fit into a sentence.

  • Nouns - Basic nouns end with a syllable of the form: C(C)VC. That is a single or double consonant, followed by a vowel then by a single consonant.
  • Verbs - Basic verbs always have at least two syllables. The first syllable is just a vowel (no consonants in the basic form). The last syllable is C(C)VC, like the last syllable of a noun. There can be any number of syllables between those two syllables.
  • Adjectives - Adjectives end in a vowel.

Writing System and Orthography

Floating heads: gedreen e doon/wis
Masques: gedreen e doon/wis

In addition to the transliteration system outlined above, Brooding also uses a writing system comprised of two sets of characters: seeing characters and blind characters. Seeing characters form an alphabet, with each seeing character representing a Brooding sound. The blind characters are logograms used in various ways.

These “faces” (called gawbren) may be used in various props, illustrations, or even mimicked by actors to tell a “story within a story.” The angle of the head may also be manipulated to create dual meanings. On the left are two examples of a clue which could mean “Gate of Faces” (gedreen e doon) or “Gate of Dreams” (gedreen e wis).

Writing conventions

Brooding is written primarily as an abjad, omitting the vowels in most cases. The only time that the vowels are required is when they appear at the beginnings of a word.

In addition to the abjad, the blind characters are used in several different ways:

  • When used as a solitarily as a word, they represent an particular entire word.
  • Some blind characters can be used in pairs to indicate other words.
  • In nouns and verbs, they symbolize a grammatical operation - such as the noun being plural or the verb being in the past. While this does not affect the spelling of the word, it does change relative meaning of the word and how the word is spoken.
  • A particular blind character indicates that the word is actually a sequence of numerals.

Additionally, since the seeing characters cover all of the sounds in Brooding, words can be spelled out phonetically, vowels and all. This includes words usually symbolized by a blind character, or a noun or verb modified by a blind character. This is not the common usage, but allows for greater flexibility for artistic and/or surreptitious uses.

Brooding is generally written left-to-right with lines written top-to-bottom. However, when used in an image or in another context, there may not be lines of text. Various visual elements can be used to connect parts of the sentence together (pointing hands, direction of open eyes, presence of various forms of beards, etc.).

Other writing conventions

  • Word boundaries are indicated by the eyes of the faces. The eyes looking to the right indicates the first letter of a word, while the eyes looking left indicates the end. The eyes are straight ahead if in the middle. This may or may not be visible on blind characters, however, so determining if a blind character is part of a word or not will depend on looking at the eyes of surrounding characters.
  • In Brooding, sentences are organized not with periods but by the angle of the faces. The head turning right indicates the beginning of a sentence, while the head turning left indicates the end. The faces in the middle are always looking straight ahead.
  • A paragraph in Brooding is smaller than in a conventional English text and is used in clusters that can be spread out all over the page. Each paragraph begins with a Tined Character (A character with a three-tined or forked beard) similar to how a paragraph in English is started with an indent.
  • In Brooding, kerning can be used to indicate a hushed volume, a secret conversation, or just a side note to the text. This is accomplished by making the characters closer together or the space between them narrower.

Structure of a Character

A sign, containing the Riddlesbrood logo in the middle, which reads, klaan, ‘the proper or correct way to do something.’

Brooding characters are all faces. While the exact face is variable, what determines which character a face is depends on the state of three features of the face: eyes, mouth and tilt.


Which of the eyes are closed or not indicate the state of the eyes. The eyes of a Brooding face can be in one of four states:

  • both eyes open
  • left eye closed
  • right eye closed
  • both eyes closed

NB: In terms of discussing letter structure, left and right eyes are from the perspective of the face, not of the reader.


The mouth of a Brooding face can be in one of six states:

  • mouth closed
  • mouth open
  • mouth open with teeth visible
  • mouth open with teeth clenched
  • mouth puckered
  • tongue out


  • The exact expression on the mouth (smile, frown, smirk, etc.) is not relevant as long as the mouth is recognizable as one of the above.
  • The primary difference between ‘teeth visible’ and ‘teeth clenched’ is whether the teeth are touching.
  • ‘Puckered’ might be tight or loose, but visibly puckered.
  • The traditional Brooding characters with tongue out show the tongue sticking out very far and down. In practice, however, as long as the tongue is obviously out of the mouth is allowable. Teeth being visible is irrelevant in this case.


The vertical tilt of the face is the last distinguishing feature of a Brooding character.

There are three options for vertical tilt:

  • head striaght ahead
  • head tilted downward
  • head tilted upward

Seeing Characters

Standard Brooding letters are faces with at least one eye open. These are called seeing characters (as opposed to blind characters). These characters each represent sounds in Brooding, either single sounds or ‘blends’, double consonants that can appear at the beginning of a syllable. Every possible sound or blend that can begin a syllable has its own character in Brooding.


a /a/
aa /æ/
e /ɛ/
ae /e/
< i >
i /ɪ/
ee /i/
ai /aɪ̯/
au /aʊ̯/
oo /u/
o /o/
aw /ɔ/
uh /ə/


p /p/
b /b/
t /t/
d /d/
k /k/
g /g/
f /f/
th /θ/
s /s/
z /z/
sh /ʃ/
kh /x/
h /h/
m /m/
n /n/
ng /ŋ/
l /l/
r /ɹ/
w /w/
y /j/


pl /pl/
br /bɹ/
tl /tl/
dr /dɹ/
kl /kl/
gr /gɹ/
fl /fl/
thl /θl/
sl /sl/
zr /zɹ/
shl /ʃl/
khl /xl/
hl /hl/
sk /sk/
sp /sp/
st /st/


Sometimes seeing characters can be used on their own in place of a word. In this case, they act much like a blind character in that they represent the entire word as a sort of abbreviation. There are two ways that a solitary seeing character can be interpreted:

  • Each seeing character has a name. A solitary character can represent that name instead. It could be an actual name, or the name used in a metaphorical sense.
  • Some of the characters are associated with a numeral or number. One of these characters alone can symbolize that number.

The above possibilities are in addition to the possibility that a single seeing character might represent a word that is a consonant or blend followed by a vowel. All of these usages are ambiguous and a reader will have to determine from context which seems appropriate.

A sequence of seeing characters can be a sequence of numerals as well, if all of the characters could potentially be numerals. This is indicated by the inclusion of the blind character number indicator. The blind character itself can appear anywhere in the numeral sequence.


Blind Characters

Blind characters are faces in the Brooding writing system with both eyes closed. Unlike the other characters, which represent specific sounds or blends, blind characters serve a number of different functions, depending on how they are used. We’ll go through each use below.

Solitary Characters

Blind characters can be used by themselves to symbolize single words, usually words with syntactic functions.

leed leed I
sloon sloon you
fosh fosh he/she
tluht tluht it
tleste tleste when
tlande tlande where
otlai otlai like
felde felde because
tlelma tlelma if
aeram aeram to be
zraeram zraeram not to be
auplen auplen there is
zrauplen zrauplen there is not
daebuh daebuh and

Paired Characters

Some blind characters paired with another character stands for specific words as well. Note that the order of the characters is not important, just that they are together in a two character word.

Brooding-fslahsh.gifBrooding-under.gif tlauspuh in order to
Brooding-fslahsh.gifBrooding-tilde.gif tootlende while
Brooding-fslahsh.gifBrooding-at.gif stooslaedi instead
Brooding-fslahsh.gifBrooding-equal.gif klodeste in addition
Brooding-hl.gifBrooding-and.gif hlaibren how many
Brooding-hl.gifBrooding-under.gif hlaifelde why
Brooding-hl.gifBrooding-dollar.gif hlaitlande where
Brooding-hl.gifBrooding-tilde.gif hlaitleste when
Brooding-hl.gifBrooding-closepar.gif hondra either/or

Noun Modifiers

Blind characters, when in a noun word, indicate the declension on the noun. This indicates case and number in the standard ways for Brooding. The character can appear in the word, except the beginning. In the noun, only the mouth on the blind character - the tilt is irrelevant, though the default is usually straight.

Subject Object
Singular - Brooding-caret.gif
Plural Brooding-num.gif Brooding-minus.gif
Mass Brooding-and.gif Brooding-openpar.gif

Verb Modifiers

Blind characters, when in a noun word, indicate the conjugation on the noun. This indicates the tense of the verb, the aspect and whether the verb is negated or not. The character can appear in the word, except the beginning.

Non-Past Verbs

Affirmative Negative
Perfective - Brooding-plus.gif
Progressive Brooding-caret.gif Brooding-openpar.gif
Habitual Brooding-minus.gif Brooding-under.gif

Past Verbs

Affirmative Negative
Perfective Brooding-and.gif Brooding-perct.gif
Progressive Brooding-at.gif Brooding-exclam.gif
Habitual Brooding-equal.gif Brooding-closepar.gif

The solitary blind faces for aeram, zraeram, auplen and zrauplen can be combined with the above verb modifiers into paired characters to indicate the appropriate conjugation of the verb. Note that in this pairing, the affirmative/negative feature of the verb modifier is ignored; rather the inherent one in the verb is used instead.


Brooding nouns, in their basic form, always end with the sequence consonant-vowel-consonant (i.e. they cannot end in a blended consonant, see above).


Nouns can be marked as singular, plural or ‘mass’ (collective). Mass nouns are nouns that where there are multiple entities in the group, but the group is considered as a coherent whole. For example, a bee would be singular, bees would be plural and a swarm of bees would be a mass noun.

Let’s look at the word for ‘tree’: geeth

  • The basic noun is singular: geeth
  • To make it plural, you take the last vowel in the word and add it to the end of the word: geethee
  • To make it a mass noun, you remove the last consonant: gee


  • raap - a war
  • raapaa - wars
  • raa - a series of wars, warfare in general
  • chendim - a shoulder (part of the body)
  • chendimi - shoulders
  • chendi - a group of shoulders (probably used to refer to both shoulders at once as in ‘you have a good head on your shoulders’)


Case indicates the function of the noun in the sentence. Brooding marks either the subject of the sentence (the one doing the action) and the object (the one being done to, if any).

The subject of the sentence works just like above. If the tree is doing something, it is said as geeth. If it is more than one tree, it is geethee and if it is a group of trees, it is gee.

However, if the noun is the object of the sentence, it is modified. You start off with the form marked for number, as above. Then you take the contrasting vowel of the last vowel and put it at the beginning of the word.

For example, if something is being done to a tree, take the word as above geeth. Next, you take the last vowel and find its contrasting vowel: i. Then add it to the front: igeeth. It works the same for plural igeethee and mass igee.

Modifying Nouns

Modifying nouns is done in a number of different ways. Almost all of the modifiers for a noun come directly after the nouns they modify.

Word Order

The order of modifiers for a noun are as follows:

noun demonstrative adjectives possessor prepositional-phrases relative-clauses

Note that only the noun itself is required. Any of the other elements in the noun phrase can be left out or included as needed. The relative order between them is invariant, however.


Adjectives directly follow the nouns they modify. For more details on adjectives, see the Adjectives section.


Sometimes you want to say something belongs to something else. You turn a noun into a possessive noun to do so. If we have someone named Klaid (Clyde in English), we make it a possessive by inserting an l after the last vowel. klaid becomes klaild. So ‘Cylde’s tree’ is translated as geeth klaild.

Prepositional Phrases

Propositional phrases (i.e. “On the water,” “with a duck,” etc.) can be appended to modify a noun. See the Prepositions section.

Relative Clauses

A relative clause is a short clause that describes the noun. In “The tree that burns,” the relative clause is “that burns.” A relative clause is like a mini-sentence embedded after the noun. In our example, you could visualize it as “The tree (it burns).” In English, we add “that” on the beginning and remove the pronoun that refers to the noun. The noun is called the ‘head’ and “that” is called the relativizer. The head noun might be the subject or the object of the clause. If I say “The tree that burns,” the tree is the thing burning - it’s the subject of the burning. However, I can say “The tree that I burn.” In that case, the tree is the object, the thing being burned.

In Brooding, a relative clause starts with the relativizer, followed by the verb, the subject then the object (if any). This seems different than the usual sentence order (SVO) but it adheres to the V2 nature of the language - the verb is always the second constituent (the first in a relative clause is the relativizer).

There are two relativizers: ai and au. Which you use depends on how the head fits into the relative clause. If the head noun is the subject of the relative clause, ai is used. If it is the object, then au is used.

So let’s take the above example. If I say “The tree that burns down,” the head is “tree,” and the relative clause is “that burns down,” that you can look at as “The tree (it burns down).” In that clause, the tree is the subject (it is what is burning). So it’s the subject of the relative clause. When you write the clause, you use the relativizer ai:

geeth ai aekhlaat
tree REL/SUBJ burns
‘The tree that burns.’

(Note: there is no object listed after the verb because there is nothing the tree is doing the burning to.)

If I say “The tree that I burn,” the head is the same (tree), but the tree is now the object, the thing being burned. In this case, the relativizer is au instead of ai:

geeth au ootawnaekhlaat leed
tree REL/OBJ cause-burn I
‘The tree that I burn.’

(Note: There is a subject in the relative clause - leed (“I”) - since “I” am doing the burning. It appears after the verb because the verb is always second. Also, the verb is slightly different. aekhlaat means something is burning. I am making it burn, so the verb is literally “to cause-to-burn.” For more on that construction, see the section on Verbal Causation).

One thing to remember is that the relativizer is based off of where the head noun fits into the relative clause, not where it fits into the overall sentence. Look at the following sentence:

leed agen igeeth ai aekhlaat
I see tree-OBJ REL/SUBJ burn
‘I see a tree that burns’

The tree is an object of the sentence, but is the subject of the clause (it is what I see, but it is what is burning). So ai is the appropriate relativizer, not au.


Brooding uses four demonstratives:

ti this (right here, in my hand)
de this, the (here)
ga that, the (there)
klau that (distant)

Note that Brooding has no distinct words for articles (e.g. “the,” “a/an”). Rather, when “the” would be used in English, a Brooding speaker would use a demonstrative instead. There is no equivalent to “a/an.”

Noun clauses

A noun clause is a clause that, instead of modifying a noun, replaces a noun in a sentence. English has a few versions of a noun clause. For example, in “He saw that I hit him,” “that I hit him” is a noun clause. It is the action “I hit him” that is being seen. In this case, it is the object of the sentence. English sometimes drops the “that” (e.g. “He saw I hit him”), but it still remains as a replacement for a noun.

The other English variation is to use an infinitive verb in places of a noun: “I want to hit him.” This is equivalent to “I want that I hit him.” Once again, “I hit him” is the object of the noun.

In Brooding, there is only one form for this sort of construction. The action of the dependent clause is converted into a noun (as per the rules for nominalization) and then it modified by prepositional phrases and relative clauses. In Brooding, “I want to hit him” would be:

leed okhair indpeg leeld oofruh fosh
I want hit-action I-POSS of he/she
‘I want to hit him.’ (Literally: “I want my hitting of him.”)


Denominalization is converting nouns into other parts of speech.

To Verbs

Initiation: prefix aw-

To say that the subject is becoming the noun, you add the prefix above to change the noun into a verb. This creates an intransitive verb.

  • awfoos - to become a cow

Causation: compound with ootawn-

To say that the subject is causing the object become the noun, compound the noun with the verb ootawn.

  • ootawnfoos - to turn into a cow, to cow-ify

Verbing: compound with osen-

To ‘verb’ a noun, that is to make a verb that means to use the noun or engage with the noun in a typical way (e.g. ‘google’ as a verb), compound the noun with the verb osen.

  • osenraap – to war, to make war (literally ‘do-war’).

To Adjectives

Similarity: suffix -ee

To have an adjective that means having the quality of the noun, suffix ee to the end.

  • foosee - cow-like, cow-ish, cow-y

Association: suffix -ingee

To have an adjective that means pertaining to the noun, suffix ingee to the end. This is actually creating a new noun by suffixing ing, then suffixing ee to make it an adjective.

  • raapingee - martial

Lacking: suffix -yuh

For an adjective that means lacking the noun, suffix yuh.

  • daroonyuh - nameless


Pronouns in Brooding are listed below. There are a few differences from English pronouns, however.

There are different pronouns for you-singular and you-plural.

There is no gender split in the 3rd person pronouns (no he/she). However, there is a split between people and non-people. (he/she vs. it). There is a separate third person plural for groups that are all non-people.

Several of the pronouns have an alternate ‘clique’ or ‘in-group’ version. These are for referring to people who are part of your clan, group or ‘side’ to things. When speaking to a stranger, it is customary to assume that they are not part of the group until you learn otherwise.

Clique Outsider
I leed
you (sg.) sloon druhnshoon
he/she fosh bashen
it tluht
we lee radla
you (pl.) sloo druhnshoo
they (an.) fo bashe
they (inan.) tluh

Possessives and accusative cases are marked as all nouns.


Prepositional phrases are used to modify nouns or modify verbs. In either case, they present more details about the noun or the action the verb describes.

They begin with a preposition followed by a noun phrase (see Modifying Nouns for what can be in a noun phrase). Note that a prepositional phrase can have a noun phrase in it that itself has a prepositional phrase. The noun in the noun phrase has the subject case, though it can be any of the three numbers a noun can be.

Basic prepositions themselves are one to two syllables, ending in a vowel. However, some prepositions are compound words made from a basic preposition and another word.

Locational (“Essive”) Prepositions

The basic location prepositions are:

ma at
aw in
thai on

From there we get more complex prepositions:

awzra outside of (exessive)
awchee between (interessive)
koma above (superessive)
yeema below (subessive)
cheema near (proximal)
staima behind
yuhneema in front of
khauma beyond
tima touching (pertingent)
dema beside

Motion (“Lative”) Prepositions

The basic motion preposition is:

aa to

Complex prepositions for motion are:

ma at
aw in
thai on

From there we get more complex prepositions:

awyaa into (illative)
aastai toward
aayuhnee away from (ablative)
aazraw out of (elative)
aati by way of (instrumental)
aatima along (vialis)
aataw through (translative)

Relational Prepositions

Relational prepositions describe a relation between items.

Basic prepositions of this type are:

e of, associated with, characterized by
chee with (committative)
se of, from
skau for, for the benefit of (benefactive)
pa for (recipient), indirect object
bae about, regarding

Complex relational prepositions are:

zrachee without, lacking (caritive)
tichee using, by means of (instrumental)
ese made of, comprised of (exessive)

Guidance on using prepositions

What exact prepositions are used for what situation varies wildly between languages, and Brooding is no exception. The following sections provide guidance for how a Brooding speaker would translate situations where usage varies from English usage.

Translating ‘of’

Where an English speaker would use ‘of’ to describe an association or something being characterized by something else, a Brooding speaker would use the preposition e. This would include phrases like “weapon of choice,” “friend of mine,” and “man of wealth and taste.”

When an English speaker would use ‘of’ indicate something that is comprised of something, like “book of words” or “band of thieves,” the Brooding speaker would use ese.

In indicating origin as in “Robin of Locksley,” a Brooding speaker would use se.

Translating ‘from’

“From” is used in English to indicate origin, both in general (“I’m from the city”) and in specific “I came from inside.” Brooding uses different terms for these two usages.

To indicate origin of an action or motion, aazraw is used.

To indicate origin in general, the preposition se would be used instead.

For the more archaic use of “from” involving making something out of something else (as in “something from nothing”), using tichee (so literally “something using nothing”) is better.

Translating ‘to’

The word “to” gets used a lot in English, but the uses are split up in Brooding.

In situations involving motion, and the subject going somewhere, such as “going to the store,” Brooding uses the motion preposition of aa.

However, in those cases in English in which “to” would indicate a recipient of some sort for, Brooding uses pa. For example “I hit the ball to her,” pa is used to translate “to.” In English this is often referred to as the indirect object.

Translating ‘for’

In determining which preposition to use in place of “for,” the key difference is whether the meaning noun in the phrase is a benefactor or just a recipient. For example, in “I made a cake for you,” “you” benefits from it, so skau would be used.

In the case of a phrase like “I have a letter for you,” “you” is the recipient, and pa would be used.

In something like “for example,” you’d use an adverbial phrase (see Adverbs) with otlai to something like “in the manner of an example.”

Translating ‘by’

“By” can be used to describe both location and means in English.

In Brooding, location would use cheema to mean “near” instead. To describe means, as in “by hook or by crook,” Brooding uses tichee.


All verbs in Brooding are multi-syllable. The first syllable is a single vowel - this vowel is called the ‘key vowel’ of the verb. The last syllable ends in Vowel-Consonant.

Tense and Aspect

Tense indicates the time frame in which an action happens. Aspect, on the other hand, indicates its internal consistency.

Three aspects are marked in brooding:

  • perfective - the action described is being looked at in its entirety - it began, it ended.
  • progressive - the action is being looked at as underway - it’s ongoing.
  • habitual - the action is something that happens on a regular basis

We’ll use the example verb: agen “to see”

The perfective version of the verb is the basic of the verb: agen

leed agen
I see

‘I see.’

The progressive form of the verb takes the key vowel and appends it to the end of the word: agena

leed agena
I see-PROG

‘I am seeing.’

The habitual form is a little more complex. The last vowel of the verb is moved to the end, and is replaced by the key vowel: agane

leed agane
I see-HAB

‘I see (often, usually).’

Brooding has two tenses: past and non-past. The non-past timeframe is usually present, but you can indicate a future through a mood auxilary.

The past version of a verb is where the key vowel of the verb is replaced with the contrasting vowel. So agen becomes aagen.

leed aagen
I see-PAST

‘I saw.’

leed aagenaa

‘I was seeing.’

leed aagaane

‘I used to see.’


Negation of verbs is marked by adding zr to the beginning of the verb. This applies to all versions of the verb.

Affirmative: agen
Negative: zragen

leed zragen
I NEG-see

‘I do not see.’

leed zraagaane

‘I did not used to see.’


Nominalization is converting a verb into a noun. Brooding has several ways of doing this. In all cases, it involves inserting sounds after the key vowel. In some of those cases, the key vowel is replicated (where listed below, it is symbolized with V).

Basic verb:

  • agen - to see

Action: insert nd

  • andgen - the act of seeing, sight

Agent - particular: insert r

  • argen - one who sees (at this moment in time), witness, observer

Agent - habitual: insert l

  • algen - one who sees (often, on a regular basis), seer, watcher

Patient: insert sp

  • aspgen - one who is seen

Result: insert t

  • atgen - that which is seen

Instrument: insert shlV

  • ashlagen - something used to see with

Location: insert chV

  • achagen - a place where something is seen

Nominalization can also be used with other forms of verbs as well. For example:

  • zralgen - one who does not see
  • aatgen - that which was seen

Serial verbs

Brooding allows verbs to be put in immediate sequence with each other in a construct called a serial verb. This is usually to describe a series of actions that are closely associated, especially in quick succession.

For example:

leed aagen oodit awaen
I see-PAST run hide
‘I saw, ran, and hid.’

In this case, the verbs ‘see’, ‘run’, and ‘hide’ are all in sequence and act as a single constituent. Note that only the first verb (aagen) is marked in the past - the rest of the verbs are just listed in their basic form. Also note that this isn’t a long compound verb. The words are pronounced separately, but as the same phrase.

Object Incorporation

A form of compounding for verbs in Brooding is called object incorporation. This is when the object of the sentence is combined with the verb. For example, instead of saying “He hits the cow,” the object incorporated version of the sentence would be “He cow-hits.”

To incorporate the object, the verb is appended to the object form of the noun to create the new verb. The key vowel of the new verb is the first vowel of the new word. That new verb can be inflected like any other verb.

fosh ipeg ofoos
he/she hit cow-OBJ
‘He hits a cow.’
fosh ofoosipeg
he/she cow-OBJ-hit
‘He hits a cow.’ (Literally: “He cow-hits.”)

This is a productive procedure in Brooding - you can do it with any sentence with a single word object. However, it is more likely to be used when incorporating the object gives a distinct meaning. By using an incorporated object, the verb would indicate a specific idiomatic meaning, or a connotation to the action that would be specific to that combination of verb and object. An example from English would be ‘cow-tipping’, which has a more specific meaning. Or it would contrast to a verb like ‘waiter-tipping’ (the two having very different meanings).

Verb operations


Compounding with the verb ootawn (to cause) creates a verb where the subject is the entity causing and the object is what is being affected. For intransitive verbs, the new verb is transitive in that it takes an object.

leed awaen
I hide
‘I hide.’
fosh ootawnawaen ileed
he/she cause-hide I-OBJ
‘He hides me.’ (He make-hides me.)

Note that you can still use cause as just a verb in conjunction with a noun clause. The difference between the two is similar to English - the wordier version implies a level of separation that the compound does not.

fosh ootawn andwaen oofruh leed
he/she cause hide-action of I
‘He causes me to hide.’ (Literally: “He causes the hiding of me.”)

Reflexives and reciprocals

Sometimes the subject is doing something to itself. Or a number of subjects are doing something to each other. These are reflexives and reciprocals. These use special object words.

  • Reflexive - oo
  • Reciprocal - oone
leed ipeg oo
I hit REFL
‘I hit myself.’

fo ipeg oo
they hit REFL
‘They hit themselves.’
fo ipeg oone
they hit RECP
‘They hit each other.’

As in English, you can use a reflexive as part of emphasis for an intransitive verb (“I hide myself”). However, in Brooding, you explicitly have to make the intransitive verb a transitive one:

leed ootawnawaen oo
I cause-hide REFL
‘I hide myself.’ (“I cause-hide myself.”)

Passive voice

In English, we can de-emphasize the object (or omit it entirely) through the use of a passive voice, such as “The cow is seen.” If the subject is mentioned at all, it is in a prepositional phrase: “The cow was seen by me.”

In Brooding, a passive is made by omitting the subject and just having an object. However, given that Brooding is a V2 language, the verb MUST be second. So the object moves to the front of the sentence. If the subject is mentioned at all, it is in a preposition phrase using ite.


leed agen ofoos ga
I see cow-OBJ that
‘I see that cow.’


ofoos ga agen
cow-OBJ that see
‘That cow is seen.’
ofoos ga agen ite leed
cow-OBJ that see by I
‘That cow is seen by me.’


Predicates are clauses that involve saying something about the subject (what it is, where it is, etc.) In English, the majority of this is done with the verb ‘is’. This type of verb is called a copula, since all it does is link a subject to something.

The copula verb in Brooding is aeram. It is treated as a regular verb:

leed aeram yuhneeshe
I COP cold
‘I am cold.’
fosh eram dootham
he/she COP-PAST sibling
‘She was a sibling.’

Note: When equating the subject with a noun (it is something), the object of the copula is not in the accusative (object) case. Rather, the subject case is used in both places to indicate equation.

When referring to location, the copula can be used with a prepositional phrase as an object:

leed aeram ata fosh
I COP with he/she
‘I am with him.’


Existential predicates indicate that something exists. In English, we use “there is” or “there are” to indicate this. Brooding has its own verb for this: auplen. Like the copula, this is a verb and can have aspect, tense, negation, etc.

In existentials, there is no object, we are just saying something exists.

geeth auplen
tree EXIST
‘There is a tree.’

Possessive predicate

Possessive predicates indicate possession of something. In English, this is its own verb “to have.” Brooding uses a copula to express this along with a prepositional phrase.

daroon aeram chee leed
name COP with I
‘I have a name.’(literally “A name is with me”)


Adjectives all end with a vowel.

Unlike nouns and verbs, adjectives do not change depending on their use in a sentence. They always follow the noun they modify.

Degree compounds

Brooding has a unique ‘degree’ system for adjectives. Adjectives can be compounded with degree words or numbers to indicate variations in meaning. The degree words are:

  • stai - very
  • thle - even
  • yuhnee - very not

Let’s start with the word for ‘happy’: taefuh

“Very happy” would be staitaefuh. “Very unhappy” would be yuhneetaefuh. However, by adding numbers (1 - 4 and negative 1 - 4) different degrees are available. When adding the number, the last consonant of the number is dropped.

Positive numbers are positive degrees and negative numbers are negative degrees. There isn’t an exact translation of each degree - the numbers are often used idiosyncratically by people based off of their opinion and in context.

  • draugetaefuh - amazingly happy, ecstatic (4-happy)
  • shlautaefuh - delighted, very happy (3-happy)
  • raitaefuh - moderately happy (2-happy)
  • mauwetaefuh - a little unhappy (-1-happy)
  • maudraugetaefuh - completely in despair (-4-happy)

Degree-specific adjectives

There are some adjectives which can’t be used on their own, but must be used with degree words as above. These usually refer to things that are often continuums, like temperature, light levels, etc.

For example, the adjective for temperature is she.

  • staishe - hot
  • thleshe - room-temperature
  • yuhneeshe - cold

Numbers are used as well:

  • maudraugeshe - freezing cold
  • draugeshe - boiling hot
  • mauweshe - chilly
  • weshe - warm

(More information about degree-specific adjectives can be found in the Numbers section.)

Converting to other parts of speech

Brooding has a few regular processes that it uses to change adjectives into other parts of speech

To Nouns

Abstraction: add -d

Adding a -d to the end of an adjective creates a noun that is the abstraction of the quality the adjective describes, like how the suffix ‘-ness’ is used in English.

  • taefuhd - happiness
  • shed - temperature
  • yuhneeshed - cold (cold-ness)

To Verbs

Initiation: prefix aw- and suffix -ng

To say that a subject is beginning to have the quality that the adjective describes, you go through a special process of turning the adjective to a verb. First aw- is added to the front and becomes the key vowel for the new verb. -ng is added to the end. This creates an intransitive verb.

  • awtaefuhng - to become happy


Comparative constructions compare two things relative to each other.

The general form of a comparison is the quality being compared, the type of comparison and then what is being compared to.

The types of comparisons are:

stai more
thle as much as, equal
yuhnee less
taefuh stai sloon
happy more you
‘happier than you’
ko thle floothlenem
high equal kite
‘as high as a kite’
zee yuhnee foos
fast less cow
‘less quickly than a cow’

Comparative phrases can be used after copulas as a predicate, after otlai as an averbial phrase or after a relativizer in a relative clause.

leed aeram taefuh stai sloon
I COP happy more you
‘I am happier than you.’

fosh esaaf otlai ko thle floothlenem
he/she sing like high equal kite
‘She sings like she’s higher than a kite.’
otdelthing de ai zee yuhnee foos
vehicle this REL/SUBJ fast less cow
‘This vehicle which is less quick than a cow’


Adverbs are a vague category in English. In Brooding, they are more defined. There are no single adverb words in Brooding. Rather, adverbs are expressed entirely through adverbial phrases and clauses. These are used to modify the action of the verb, and usually appear at the end of the sentence. However, they can appear at the beginning to indicate importance or to reduce ambiguity.

Where in English we would add an ‘ly’, Brooding uses an adverbial phrase with the preposition otlai. For example, ‘happily’ would be otlai taefuh (literally “as if happy”).

Those times when an adverb would indicate time (“tomorrow,” “ a long time ago,” etc), the preposition tootlende is used. Example: tootlende hlaud (literally “during now”)

More complex adverbial clauses use an adverbial preposition followed by a sentence to make a dependent clause, for example “When I see it” is an adverbial clause. This would be tleste agen leed awtluht.

Note: The clause and the sentence it modifies still must adhere to the verb-second rule of Brooding. This means in the clause itself (if it contains a dependent clause) the adverbial preposition is the first constituent. Thus, the verb is next, not the subject. Additionally, if the adverbial phrase is first in the sentence, then it is the first constituent and the main verb is next.


leed agen awtluht otlai taefuh - “I see it happily.”

otlai taefuh agen leed awtluht - “Happily, I see it.”

Here is a list of adverbial prepositions:

time - tleste

  • tleste agen leed awtluht - “When I see it”

location - tlande

  • tlande agen leed awtluht - “Where I see it”

manner - otlai

  • otlai agen leed awtluht - “As if I see it/Like I see it”

purpose - tlauspuh

  • tlauspuh agen leed awtluht - “So that I see/in order that I see it”

reason - felde

  • felde agen leed awtluht - “Because I see it”

simultaneous - tootlende

  • tootlende agen leed awtluht - “While I see it”

conditional - positive - tlelma

  • tlelma agen leed awtluht - “If I see it”

conditional - negative - zretle

  • zretle agen leed awtluht - “Unless I see it”

concessive - yuhslo

  • yuhslo agen leed awtluht - “Although I see it”

substitutive - stooslaedi

  • stooslaedi agen leed awtluht - “Instead of me seeing it”

additive - klodeste

  • klodeste agen leed awtluht - “In addition to me seeing it”


Combining different phrases and sentences together uses conjunctions. In English, these are words and phrases like “and,” “and not,” “but.” Brooding has similar words, but there are some distinctions that Brooding has that English doesn’t. Different types of conjunctions are available depending on what is being joined: phrases or clauses.

Words and Phrases

Phrases have a specific set of conjunctions:

ee and
khlau and not
zro neither/nor
o or
haw either/or


sloon ee leed
you and I

lee khlau fosh
we and not him

fosh zro leed
neither he nor I

leed o sloon
me or you


Clauses have their own conjunctions. We’ll look at them in groups.

daebuh - and (concurrent), also, as well as
shenga - and (consecutive), and then

The difference between the two above ‘and’s is a subtle one. In English, we use ‘and’ to string things that happen in order but are connected, such as “I asked and he answered.” This is different than when they are happening at the same time (as in “I asked and I prayed”). Brooding has two different words for each case. daebuh means they are simultaneous, while shenga is more equivalent to “and then.” Note that while shenga is almost always used in reference to time and sequence. daebuh, however, can be used in non-time-specific situations.

Other clause conjunctions are:

obroo or
khlaeba and not
zrege neither/nor
hondra either/or
oot but

Commands and Questions


Commands are formed with the ‘subject’ of a followed by the verb in its basic form. The verb can be negated as well. (If needed, the a sound is elongated to distinguish it from a following vowel)

a oodit
IMP run
a zroodit
‘Don’t Run!’


Yes-No questions

Yes-no questions are formed by starting the sentence with the question marker hlai, followed by the verb, then subject and object if applicable.

hlai agen sloon ofoos ga
QUES see you cow-OBJ that
‘Do you see that cow?’

Question words

In a sentence that is more complex than a yes or no, question words and phrases are used.

Hlendan Who (outsider)
Hleed Who (clique)
Hlaas What
Hlaitleste When
Hlaipa Where
Hlaifelde Why
Otlaihlai How
Hlaibren How much/many

The question word for the information being used is put into the sentence where the appropriate word would go.

druhnshoon aeram hlendan
you (outsider) are who (outsider)
‘Who are you?’ (Literally: “You are who?”)
foos ga odit ebri hlaipa
cow that run-PAST to where
‘Where did the cow run (to)?’


Basic Numbers

The Brooding number system is hexadecimal, which means that the basic numbers are counted up to fifteen before adding another digit, so the number “10” is equivalent to sixteen. (The numerals between 10 and 15 are often written as the letters A-F in hexadecimal notation, but only the words are used in Brooding.)

zero 0 zromed
one 1 wen
two 2 raich
three 3 shlaum
four 4 draugen
five 5 klaut
six 6 khlobed
seven 7 sken
eight 8 hoon
nine 9 saed
ten A thlad
eleven B feyeed
twelve C nawg
thirteen D braled
fourteen E raizeeg
fifteen F thlaan
sixteen 10 fluhn


  • sixteens (10~tens) - fluhn
  • two hundred fifty-sixes (100~hundreds) - tegen
  • four thousand ninety-sixes (1000~thousands) - stooraen
16 10 fluhn 256 100 tegen 4096 1000 stooraen
32 20 raichfluhn 512 200 raichtegen 8192 2000 raichstooraen
48 30 shlaumfluhn 768 300 shlaumtegen 12288 3000 shlaumstooraen
64 40 draugenfluhn 1024 400 draugentegen 16384 4000 draugenstooraen
80 50 klautfluhn 1280 500 klauttegen 20480 5000 klautstooraen
96 60 khlobedfluhn 1536 600 khlobedtegen 24576 6000 khlobedstooraen
112 70 skenfluhn 1792 700 skentegen 28672 7000 skenstooraen
128 80 hoonfluhn 2048 800 hoontegen 32768 8000 hoonstooraen
144 90 saedfluhn 2304 900 saedtegen 36864 9000 saedstooraen
160 A0 thladfluhn 2560 A00 thladtegen 40960 A000 thladstooraen
176 B0 feyeedfluhn 2816 B00 feyeedtegen 45056 B000 feyeedstooraen
192 C0 nawgfluhn 3072 C00 nawgtegen 49152 C000 nawgstooraen
208 D0 braledfluhn 3328 D00 braledtegen 53248 D000 braledstooraen
224 E0 raizeegfluhn 3584 E00 raizeegtegen 57344 E000 raizeegstooraen
240 F0 thlaanfluhn 3840 F00 thlaantegen 61440 F000 thlaanstooraen

More complex numbers are just strung together one after the other:

  • 19 = 13fluhn shlaum
  • 599 = 275raichtegen skenfluhn klaut
  • 34199 = 8597 - hoonstooraen klauttegen saedfluhn sken

Modifying Numbers


To create an ordinal (first, second, third, etc), compound the number with the deske suffix:

  • first - wendeske
  • second - raichdeske
  • 256th - tegendeske


To create a negative number, use the mau prefix:

  • -1 - mauwen
  • -37 (-55) - maushlaumfluhn sken
  • -100 (-256) - mautegen

Degree-Specific Adjectives

When a number is used with an adjective that requires degree specification (see Degree-Specific Adjectives), the final consonant of the number is dropped and the number is then prefixed to the adjective being modified.

4 extremely drauge-
3 very shlau-
2 somewhat rai-
1 kind of we-
0 as ... as thle-
-1 not very, kind of un- mauwe-
-2 moderately un- maurai-
-3 very un- maushlau-
-4 completely un- maudrauge-

Only the numbers 1 through 4 and the negative numbers -1 through -4 may be used. Avoid the temptation to use a higher number for the purpose of hyperbole: You will not succeed.

Compounding Words

Compounding words is pretty simple overall. Except for a few variations, the word creator just combine the words. Usually the ‘core’ word is the last word, with the modifier word or words first. Different parts of speech can be compounded together (the new part of speech is based off of the last word) and multiple words can be strung together as needed.

The tricky part in compounding relates to respecting the forms of Brooding words in the process. Here are some guidelines.

  • When compounding words leads to two vowels in a row in a word, drop the first vowel. For example: na + ethaignathaig
  • When compounding words leads to two duplicate sounds in a row, drop one of the duplicates.
    • If adding a verbal infix to change the part of speech results in a duplicate, add -uh-; e.g. aetol ‘to laugh (with)’, + t ‘(nominalization)’ → aetuhtol ‘communal laughter’, not **aetol.
  • When compounding words with verbs to make other verbs is a specific case, because the form of a verb is so specific. This is one of the places where Brooding becomes a bit more complex than normal.
    • In the case of object incorporation (see the section on Verbs), the object is first and the verb is last.
    • When compounding a verb with a noun, the order is reversed - verb first and then the noun.
    • When compounding a verb with an adjective, the order is the same as with a noun (verb then adjective), but -ng is added to the end of the word to satisfy the verb form.

Special compound noun forms

There are a few special compound forms with specific meanings that work with noun-noun compounds.

Possessive compounds

To make compounds that indicate a noun in possession of a noun, you compound the core word with the possessive form of the possessor noun. For example, “cow’s foot” would be foolshem (possessive form of foos: fools + hem). Note that the word is pronounced fools-hem, not fool-shem.

Conjunctive compounds

There is a special way of compounding nouns to mean x and y. It’s similar to English constructions like ‘salt and pepper’, but packing it into a single word. You connect the words with the i sound. You can use regular conjunctions, of course. However, by building a single compound word, the two concepts are tied very tightly.

kod + i + yeed

(also khlait ee driksta)

khlait + i + driksta
‘raves-and-kudos’ (‘hello’)