Bźatga (/ˈbʒatgɐ/) is an Indo-European language spoken by the tribes of the Enśi Bźata "The Bźatan Islands", a small archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the people of these islands, the language came with their ancestors from a land called Prêńa along with a knowledge of metalworking and the sacred horse.
Phonology and Orthography
Bźatga is written with the following 19 letters of the Latin alphabet:
a b c d e g i j l m n o p r s t u v z
In addition to these base forms, called primary or unmarked letters, diacritics are used to create secondary and tertiary forms, which are collectively called the marked letters. In the case of vowels, secondary forms represent pretonic and therefore unstressed variants and are marked with a breve, e.g. răvełsemi "I have seen". Secondary forms of consonants are iotised variants of the primary sounds and are marked with an acute accent, e.g. craśu "drier". Most tertiary forms of both vowels and consonants are marked with the caret (ê, ô, ŝ and ẑ), but ł is the tertiary form of l.
The table below shows the various forms of the letters:
Additionally the letters î and û occur in diphthongs deriving from vi, *ji and *vu; e.g. doû, doî "black" from **dovu, **dovi. The resulting diphthongs are identical in pronunciation to their unmarked counterparts and the convention is purely orthographic.
Taken together the following letters may occur in Bźatga orthography:
a ă b c ć d e ĕ ê g ǵ i ĭ î j l ĺ ł m n ń o ŏ ô p r ŕ s ś ŝ t u ŭ û v z ź ẑ
Bźatga contains the following consonant inventory:
|Plosive||p b||t d||k g|
|Fricative||β||s z||ʃ ʒ|
|Affricate||t͡s d͡z||t͡ʃ d͡ʒ|
Bźatga has the following eight pure vowels:
|Front||Near- front||Central||Near- back||Back|
Note: /ɐ/ is an allophone of /a/ found in unstressed final or pretonic position.
In addition there are the following six diphthongs: /aj/, /ɛj/, /ɔj/, /aw/, /ɛw/, /ɔw/.
Stress placement is regularly on the first syllable of a word. The only exception to this is in words with an unstressed prefix, the vowel of which is marked with a breve, e.g. căbrova "tribesman" /kɐˈbrɔvɐ/.
Bźatga has a number of phonetic processes which affect the spelling and pronunciation of words in inflexion and composition.
Iotisation is the process by which an inflexional j affects the preceding consonant. It is seen, for example, in the comparative forms of adjectives and in some verb forms. All consonants, except j itself, are affected by iotisation, in the following ways:
- most consonants change to their secondary form, e.g. ĺasa "clear, blue", cpv. ĺaśu "bluer".
- d and t become ć and ǵ respectively, e.g. môde "soft", cpv. môǵu "softer".
- p, b and m are simply followed by the letter j, e.g. caba "crooked", cpv. cabju "more crooked".
- v becomes j, e.g. dova "black", cpv. doju "blacker".
Palatalisation is an allophonic process whereby certain consonants are affected by a following i. This mainly affects the sonorants l, n and r, which are altered to their secondary form, and the letters d and t which become ẑ and ŝ respectively. For example, dana "gift", pl. dańi, pata "pool", pl. paŝi.
A summary of Iotised and Palatalised consonants is given below:
Alternation of j/i and v/u
As stated above, there are six dipthongs in Bźatga: ai, ei, oi and au, eu, ou. These are only permitted to occur before a consonant or at the end of a word. When any of these comes to occur before a vowel, the second element becomes j or v respectively, e.g. saide "(he) seeks" but saja "seek!". The same is true in reverse, so dova "black" becomes doudra "blackness".
Because of this alternation, only a, e and o can usually occur before j and v. In a few rare cases the combination iv occurs, which becomes jû before a consonant, e.g. ĺiva "colour" becomes ĺûleda "colourful, coloured".
Whenever the combinations **ji and *vu would occur as a result of inflexion or derivation, the consonant is lost and the remaining i or u forms a diphthong with the preceding vowel. The same occurs to the combination *ovi, which becomes oî. The second element of a diphthong formed in this way is marked by a caret, not to show a difference in pronunciation from the unmarked form, but to show the absence of the consonant. This process can clearly be seen in the declension of the adjective dova "black": dova (NAsg), doû (GDsg, < *dovu), doî (Pl, < *dovi). Note also the change of *iji > î and *ivu, *iju > jû (e.g. bźija "power, status", GDsg. bźû, pl. bźî).
Alternation of l/ł
The letter l may only stand in pre-vocalic position, whether word initially or medially. When the sound comes to stand before a consonant it alternates to ł, e.g. vela "seeing" but vełdoja "visible".
Sound To Spelling Correspondence
|E e||/ɛ/||Ĕ ĕ|
|I i||/i/||Ĭ ĭ, Î î|
|O o||/ɔ/||Ŏ ŏ|
|U u||/u/||Ŭ ŭ, Û û|
*a represents /ɐ/ in final unstressed syllables, ă represents the same sound in pretonic syllables
Nouns have no grammatical gender but are marked for case and number. There are two cases: the Nominative-Accusative (NA) which is used for the subject and direct object of verbs; and the Genitive-Dative (GD) which is used following prepositions and in some other constructions. Each case is marked in the singular and plural.
Nouns belong to one of four declensions based on the NASg. Indefinite:
- 1st and 2nd declension end in a vowel (-a or -e)
- 3rd declension end in a consonant
- 4th declension have a stem in -n but a NASg in a vowel, usually -u.
- stem-final consonants may undergo palatalisation in the plural, e.g. vade "oracle", pl. vaẑi.
- stem-final v or j may also disappear before -i and -u according to rules set out above, e.g. căbrova "tribesman", pl. căbroî.
- a number of 3rd declension nouns have a NASg. ending in a vowel, e.g. tei "house", mau "place", neu "sky".
- a group of 4th declension nouns has an NASg. in -Cu (where C represents any consonant) but a stem in -Con-, e.g. camvu "whelp, lad", pl. camvone.
The following nouns are irregular:
Like aģi are maģi "mother" and braģi "brother".
A vestigial vocative case exists when addressing people or things directly. In most cases, the singular form of the vocative is identical to the NASg. (e.g. Bracźi "Bracźi!"), but for masculine personal names of the 1st declension, the vocative ending -e is used, e.g. Craumare "Craumara!". In the plural, all nouns are identical to the NAPl., e.g. braģa "brothers!".
A specifically polite or respectful form of the vocative, ending in -u, is used only when showing extreme deference and is particularly associated with words denoting people of high authority, e.g. bźaŝnu "(your) majesty)", teźnu "(my) lord".
Bźatga has a definite article, -zda, which is suffixed to the inflected form of the noun. The article itself must agree in case and number with the noun: NASg. -zda, GDSg. -zdu, NAPl. -ẑi, GDPl. -zdou.
- vêrazda "the man"
- meńiẑi "the women"
- pa aunazdu "to the river"
In cases where the noun ends in -z, the NASg. article is written 'zda, e.g. drouz'da "the priest".
Use of the article is generally avoided wherever the sense of definiteness is stated or inferred from context. However, it may be added to ranks, relationship names or personal names to indicate deference and respect, e.g. maģizda "the mother", Dounźijazdu "the Dounźi".
Adjectives follow the noun they qualify and agree with that noun in number and case. Adjectives belong to one of two declensions much like those of nouns, according to the sound at the end of the word. There are no definite forms of adjectives.
The comparative adjective is formed by adding –ju to the stem, which undergoes iotisation where possible, e.g. maŕu "greater" < mara, seńu "older" < sena, doju "blacker" < dova. Comparative adjectives are not inflected for case or number.
The comparative may be followed by vra "than" and an GD singular or plural noun, e.g. maŕu vra teje "bigger than a house", vałģu vra ģeviẑi "more powerful than the gods".
The superlative adjective is formed by adding the suffix -jva to the stem, causing iotisation, e.g. seńva "oldest". The superlative noun is declined like other 1st declension adjectives to agree in case and number with its noun (note that the GDpl. is identical to the NAsg: gentazda viģva "the most beautiful girl", pa gentvazdou viģva "to the most beautiful girls"). Superlatives may also take the article to form a substantive, e.g. doivazda "the blackest (one)".
The following adjectives are compared irregularly:
- dava "good", vela "better", veĺva "best"
- drôga "bad", vaća "worse", vaćva "worst"
- agsa "near", nesa "nearer", neśva "nearest"
An equative structure can be formed with the particle co + adjective + saule + GDsg. noun, e.g. co peura saule bove "as strong as an ox".
Qualitative adverbs are formed from adjectives by adding the Oblique article -zdu to the Oblique form of the adjective, e.g. maruzdu "largely, greatly", arvuzdu "quietly". Comparative and superlative adverbs may also be formed in this way, e.g. nesuzdu "nearer", maŕuzdu "more greatly".
Adverbs of time include: zdeva "today", abreja "tomorrow", de "yesterday", na "now", menkezdu "often", eńasu "ever".
The cardinal numbers occur before singular forms of nouns. Only ôna "one" is inflected for case.
The lower numerals are:
- 1-10: ôna, da, ći, peudre, pepe, seś, seća, oću, nava, dega
- 11-19: ônzega, dazga, ćizga, peǵzega, pepzega, seźega, sećzega, oćzega, nauzega
The decades from 20 to 100 are: vegŝi, ćigot, peǵgot, pepcot, seśgot, sećcot, oćcot, naucot, cata.
These are nouns which stand in the NASg. before a NASg. noun. Vegŝi is indeclinable and cata is a 1st declension noun; the others are all 3rd declension.
Numbers like "26" or "69" are formed with the unit followed by the decade in the OSg., e.g. seś vegŝi "26", nava seśgota "69". Nouns may be placed between the two numerals in the NASg., e.g. seś vera vegŝi "26 men", nava teja seśgota "69 houses".
Ordinal numbers are adjectives of the 1st declension, which behave like any other. They ordinals from 1-10 are: ćata, aĺa, ćića, peuǵa, pepda, seśda, sećveda, oćveda, naveda, degveda.
Personal pronouns distinguish three persons in the singular and plural. Unlike some other languages, Bźatga does not distinguish gender in the third person singular, so e means "he, she, it". Both singular and plural have a Nominative-Accusative and separate Dative and Genitive forms.
The NA pronouns are used as subject and direct object of the verb. As subject, they are really suffixes which attach to the verb directly. The 3rd person e is not added to verbs, which generally end in a vowel, so for example, carde implicitly means "he/she/it loves" unless another subject is stated. As direct object, the pronouns precede the verb directly, e.g. e cardemi "I love him", Maĺgu tu vełse "Maĺgu saw you".
The Dative forms are used following prepositions, e.g. cate ju "with him/her/it", a zna "from us".
The Genitive pronouns are used as possessive adjectives, preceding the noun as in English, e.g. jara aģi "their father", ta teje "your house".
The demonstrative pronouns each have two forms: a) one referring to humans, deities and sometimes animals; and b) one referring to inanimates and abstracts.
The demonstratives may be used:
- as pronouns proper, standing alone as the subject or object of a verb etc., e.g. seu aĺdemi "I want that"
- as adjectives preceding a definite noun, e.g. soda vêrazda "this man.
The interrogative pronouns are pje "who", used for humans, deities and sometimes animals, and pêt "what", used for inanimates and abstracts. These are not declined for case or number. When the pronoun is the object of the sentence, the verb must be in the passive and the subject follows in the Gen.-Dat. e.g. pêt zlaźsore Vervosu "what did Vervosa kill?" (lit. "what was killed by Vervosa?"), but pje Citvena vełsa? "who saw Citvena?".
The interrogative adverbs are:
- pane "when"
- pare "why"
- cô "where"
- pede "how many, how much"
- pjeta "how"
The indefinite pronouns include:
- paba "everyone, everything"
- neba "someone, something, anyone, anything"
- oĺazda "all"
All these decline like first declension nouns. The first two may be used adjectivally, preceding a noun with which they agree in case and number, e.g. pa pabu vêru "to every man". The adjectival form of oĺazda is oĺa "all, every, whole" which must precede a definite noun (unless abstract), e.g. oĺi ebiẑi "all the horses".
Verbs have two tenses (past and non-past), two voices (active and passive) and each verb is marked for person, number and relativity. Mood is restricted to the indicative (unmarked) or imperative but quasi-moods may be indicated by means of the conditional and modal prefixes (see below). Most verbs also have a verbal noun, present participle, past passive participle and a participle of necessity.
Verbs possess a relatively simple agglutinative morphology. Each verb consists of a stem to which affixes denoting such things as tense, person and voice are added. The position of the affixes is restricted, with the stem (e.g. vel- "see") taking Position 1, and the other affixes as follows:
- Position 2 must be filled with one of the tense-marking suffixes d for the non-past or s for the past (e.g. vełd- "sees", vełs- "saw"). In imperative verbs the position is held by the imperative suffix a (e.g. vela "see!").
- Position 3 denotes voice and is empty when the verb is active, but contains or when passive (e.g. vełd- "sees", vełdor- "is seen").
- Position 4 is usually empty, but is filled by ja when the verb is relative (vełśa "who saw" < vel-s-ja).
- Position 5 is always theoretically filled by a suffix denoting person. In most cases these are identical to the NA pronouns, with an epenthetic e following consonants (e.g. vełdemi "I see", vełsoreśi "you were seen"). When the subject is a noun or a 3sg pronoun, the ending is -e, but this disappears following relative ja (e.g. vełde "he/she/it sees", vełģa "whom he etc. sees" < vel-d-ja). Only the 2nd person pronouns may be used with the imperative (e.g. velatu "see!").
- Position 0 may be empty or filled by one of the several prefixes:
- ră functions somewhat like a subjunctive or modal particle, introducing a sense of uncertainty to the verb. It can be translated as 'may' or 'would' (e.g. răvełseje "they may have seen", răvełdeśńi "we may see"). It cannot be used with the imperative. The negative form is răn (e.g. rǎnvełdeje "they may not see").
- nă is the negative, which may be used with any of the suffixes (e.g. năvełsemi "I did not see", năvełģaśi "whom you did not see").
- mă is the conditional, used with the past or non-past to mean "if ..." (e.g. măvełdetu "if you see", măvełsoremi "if I were seen"). The conditional cannot be used with the relative suffix, but combines with the negative as măn (e.g. mănvełdetu "if you don't see").
The table below summarises the position of the affixes in relation to the stem:
|Position 5 |
răn (neg. modal)
măn (neg. conditional)
|(e)mi (1sg) |
Verbal Nouns and Adjectives
The verbal noun is formed by adding -a to the stem and is declined like a 4th declension noun. It functions as an abstract noun denoting the action of the verb, e.g. vela "seeing, vision, sight". The direct object of the verbal noun follows it directly in the Genitive (for pronouns) or GD (for nouns), e.g. zlaźa eja "killing him", vela Noine "seeing Noi".
Two irregular verbal nouns exist: bôda "to be" (1st declension), which has irregular verbal stems (see below), and aća "go" (1st declension), which is conjugated regularly on the stem au-. Both of these verbs have numerous compounds, which are conjugated like the simple verbs, e.g. vagaća "emptying, draining (intrans.)", vagauseje "they emptied", vrăbidetu "you overcome", vrăbôda "overcoming".
There are three verbal adjectives:
- The Present Participle is formed by adding the prefix ĕ- to the verbal noun when it begins with a consonant or ĕn- when it begins with a vowel, e.g. ĕvela "seeing", ĕneza "eating".
- The Past Passive Participle is formed with the suffix -da (1st declension) added to the verb stem, e.g. vełda "seen", ezda "eaten".
- The Participle of Necessity, equivalent to English adjectives in "-able", "-ible" and "-worthy", is formed with the suffix -doja (1st declension) added to the verb stem, e.g. vełdoja "visible", zlazdoja "killable".
Summary of Verb Forms
|Stem: vel- "see"||Active||Passive|
|Past Passive Participle||vełda|
|Participle of Necessity||vełdoja|
The verb "to be" is translated with two separate verbs, the copula es and the substantive verb bide.
The copula is used to join a subject with a noun or adjective predicate, e.g. Citvena sena es "Citvena is old". The forms are:
- Present tense: es
- Past tense: jat
- Present relative: eśa
- Past relative: jaća
There is no verbal noun and no verbal adjectives. Neither es nor jat take take the usual final -e unless to represent the 3rd person singular pronoun, e.g. breća ese "she is beautiful" but źinezda breća es "the queen is beautiful".
The substantive verb denotes existence and may be used alone (e.g. abrazdemi ćese bidemi "I think therefore I am") or to join a subject with an adverbial predicate (e.g. boveźńi e tejezdu "we were in the house"). The forms are:
- Present tense: bide
- Past tense: bove
- Present relative: biģa
- Past relative: boja
- Imperative: bje
- Verbal noun: bôda (1st declension)
- Present participle: ĕbôda (1st declension)
- Participle of necessity: bidoja
These are the main prepositions in Bźatga. Generally speaking, when the preposition denotes location it is followed by the Nom-Acc. of nouns and pronouns, but when it denotes movement it is followed by the Gen-Dat. of nouns and the Dat. of pronouns. Appropriate cases are given below.
- a "of, from" (GD)
- abe "around, about, concerning" (NA or GD)
- are "before, beside" (NA and GD)
- cate "with, by" (instrumental) (GD)
- će "through"
- e "in, into, within"
- eća "out, outside" (NA or GD)
- jatra "between, among" (NA or GD)
- oca "near, by, at"
- pa "to, until" (GD)
- saule "like"
- sebu "without"
- tra "across"
- vjezu "with" (comitative) (NA)
- vona "under, below, beneath" (NA or GD)
- vor "on, over, above" (NA or GD)
- vret "against" (NA)
Note the distinction between cate, used in phrases such as ezsemi cate ĺeju "I ate with a spoon", zlaźsoreje cate vjalu "they were killed by a wolf"; and vjezu, used in phrases like ezsemi vjezu braģi mi "I ate with my brother".
- dec "and"
- dec ... dec... "both... and..."
- seude "also"
- nove "or"
- nove... nove... "either... or..."
- nadec "nor"
- nadec... nadec "neither... nor..."
- ećra "but, except"
- a "if"
- pada "when"
- tar "whilst"
- cita "before"
- pa "until"
- ce "though"
The basic word order is SOV.
- verazda menazda carde "the man loves the woman"
- Maĺgu edra vełse "Maĺgu saw a bird"
Pronoun subjects are expressed as part of the verb and do not occur separately.
- brava ezdemi "I am eating bread"
- badazda ģigseje "they climbed the mountain"
Indirect objects are placed at the beginning or end of the SOV structure.
- ma aģi sevą vrăcanse pa mô "my father taught me to hunt" (hunting to me)
- pa tejezdu ańanu ausetu "you went to the wrong house"
Adjectives follow nouns.
- cu mara "a large dog"
- eba vida "a white horse"
There is no relative pronoun, the relative being expressed by the verb. The syntax of a relative clause depends on whether the antecedent is the agent or patient of the verb. When the antecedent of the relative is the agent (grammatically the subject), the word order is Agent + Relative Verb (+ Object)
- verazda carģa mi "the man who loves me"
- ebazda teśśa "the horse which ran away"
When the antecedent is the patient of the verb (which would usually be the direct object in English), the verb must be in the passive and the agent may be omitted or indicated by cate "by". The the order is Patient + Relative Passive Verb (+ cate + Agent):
- tejezda daisoŕa pa laruzdu mara jat "the house which burnt down was large"
- cuzda magdoŕa cate mi dova es "the dog which I feed is black" (i.e. "which is fed by me")
An alternative, more colloquial, way of expressing this is to place the relative clause as a normal SOV clause in apposition to the patient noun. The remainder of the main clause then follows after the resumptive pronoun so/se, which agrees with the patient noun in number and case. The order here is: Patient + Subordinate clause + so/se + Object/Predicate + Verb
- tejezda, daisore pa laruzdu, se mara jat "the house which burnt down was large (lit. "the house, it burnt down, that was large")
- cuzda, e magdoremi, so dova es "the dog which I feed is black" (lit. "the dog, I feed it, that is black")
This method of apposition is used where English uses a genitive or prepositional relative, e.g.
- verazda, eja breced cardemi, so brause "the man whose daughter I love has died" (lit. "the man, I love his daughter, he died")
- ĺazazda, cełse e ju, se vra lava jat "the hole in which she hid was too small" (lit. "the hole, she hid in it, that was too small")
Agent nouns and instruments are formed from verbs with the suffixes -jde or -(a)dra (e.g. (e.g. ģiģde "climber" < ģig-, ĺaźdra "spade" < ĺaź-). Agents can be formed from verbs or nouns with -ju (e.g. gańu "killer" < gan-) and this can be added to adjectives to describe a person or thing bearing that quality (e.g. daju "good person" < dava). -vera is added to nouns, verbs or occasionally adjectives meaning "person associated with" (e.g. vezvera "woodsman" < veza). The ending -jaju is added to nouns to mean "seeker of" or "lover of" (e.g. gaĺaju "megalomaniac" < gala "power").
Diminutives can be formed from nouns with -ńa (e.g. menńa "little woman" < mena) and from adjectives with -ga or -ca (e.g. douga/douca "little black one" < dova); -ca tends to have more negative overtones.
Abstracts are formed from nouns and occasionally adjectives with -aća, creating states or actions (e.g. ģevaća "divinity" < ģeva), or -reda (e.g. brêćreda "confusion, disorder"), and from nouns alone by -sa (e.g. źisa "kingdom" < źi). -dra, -ja and -dud form abstracts from adjectives (e.g. daudra "goodness" < dava, vêĺa "honesty" < vêla, joucdud "youth" < jouca). -da and -t are used to form abstracts from verbs (e.g. carda "love", cart "beloved").
The following suffixes are used to form adjectives:
- -ga is added to nouns forming general adjectives of quality (e.g. neuga "heavenly").
- -źa is added to nouns meaning "full" (e.g. ounźa "fearful").
- -la may be added to nouns, adjectives or verbs (e.g. dońla "human").
- -led is added to nouns to mean 'covered with' or to adjectives to modify the sense (e.g. vjadled "bloody", jeńled "coldish, cool").
See also Verbal Adjectives
Verbs are usually formed from nouns either by using the stem directly (e.g. cazde "he regrets" < caza "regret"), or by iotising the final consonant of the stem (e.g. roģde "he travels" < roda "wheel").
The verb aća "go" (stem au-) is compounded with adjectives to form verbs meaning "become, make, turn" and with nouns meaning "be, act as" (e.g. vidaude "it whitens, it turns white", vidaća "whitening", źijausemi "I acted as king, I ruled").
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Paba dońa gańdore saule źa dec căsazla abe breja dec jańona. Ćela mezde dec brêde, dec răĺeide ăbvezane pa eja cêĺu cate slodu a braģaću.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
The Night's Watch Pledge
Noć nesaude dec na ma vrălôgata cende.
Nădvezde azla ma acu.
Mena năcaudemi, vlaẑi nădeudemi, koÎ năseidemi.
Miẑi năviścdemi dec văgana năbôźdemi.
Beudemi dec maurdemi oca ma mjazu.
Cavazda in tejaluzdu esemi. Vrălôģuzda vor cordazdou esemi.
Śćedazda ărģejģe vlaẑiẑi ẑi dońva esemi.
Ma beuda dec bźate ădnoudemi pa Vrălôgluzdu ẑi Noćezdu, ja znoće dec oĺva noćazdou raga.
Night gathers, and now my watch begins.
It shall not end until my death.
I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.
I shall wear no crowns and win no glory.
I shall live and die at my post.
I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls.
I am the shield that guards the realms of men.
I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
The Lord's Prayer
Ara aģi eśa e neuzda
Ta ava rănovaudore
Ta źisa rătaude
Ta aula răvreidore
Saule vor ajazda saule e neuzda
Ara barva ẑala da pa zna
Dec ara côĺi ĕćlugatu
Saule côĺi a ara nauẑi ĕćlugdeźńi
Dec źńi năvezatu pa caśredu
Ećra źńi văredatu a valu.
Our father, who is in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
Personal names usually consist of three elements:
- A forename, usually given at birth by the family and retained for life. These names consist of traditional elements, some of which do not occur as common words, and are intended to be aspirational, imbuing a sense of prestige and dignity on the bearer;
- An epithet, given at some later point in life and generally applied by the wider society. These names are descriptive and are designed to identify individuals, so are always common nouns or adjectives. They may change several times throughout a persons life.
- A family name, derived regularly from a prominent ancestor and generally used only in formal circumstances.
In addition, individuals may use a title based on their social position.
A person's forename, as in English, is the usual name by which they are called. In Bźatga this name usually consists of two elements which are taken from a relatively limited set of traditional words, many of which are inspired by nature or desirable characteristics. Below are the most common name elements:
Cų, Côn- "hound"
Eja "type of tree"
Eura "type of tree"
Vrena "type of tree"
Viga "handsome, beautiful"
Vida "white, pure"
|-ńa diminutive |
-vala "power (of)"
-vena "born (of)"
These elements are combined in pairs to form meaningful compounds. The first element of the compound usually loses its final vowel, e.g. Bleźmara "great wolf", Ratńa "little bear", Vidźi, Viģi "white king". The endings -ga, -ńa may be added to existing two-element names, e.g. Cônteźńa "little hound lord".
All forenames are unisex and words such as maĺa "prince" or teźna "lord" are considered equally applicable to males and females.
An epithet can refer to any distinguishing feature of a person and so can theoretically be almost any common noun, adjective or combination of the two. Common examples of epithets would be:
- physical characteristics, referring to hair or skin colour (dova "black, dark", vida "white", ĺeda "grey", dôna "brown"), defects (ćaga "purblind, having one eye, glee-eyed", caba "crooked"), or other notable features (bałmara "big penis", drônga "big hands").
- mental characteristics or personality (mala "bad, evil, corrupt", dava "good", mera "mad", cada "wise")
In some cases, epithets may come to be used as the usual form of a person's name.
Family names are formed from the name of a prominent ancestor by adding the suffix -eńa or -jana, e.g. Ratvaleńa "descendants of Ratvala", Craviģana "descendants of Craviga". In some cases they may be formed from a person's epithet, e.g. Cabgeńa "descendants of Cabga", Bałmaŕana "descendants of Bałmara".
- There is no clear rule governing whether an animal is referred to by the (a) form or the (b) form of demonstratives. Generally speaking it is a question of whether the animal is considered an individual (in which case it may well have a name) or simply one of a group. Riders' horses, pets, important farm animals and totems will usually take the (a) forms.