Fifth Linguifex Relay/Nessanese

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Thanks to User:Praimhín for noticing my errors, to User:Chrysophylax for his grammar input, and to User:IlL for letting me join late

Páphēnai Néssa Text

Ηθάσπη παινἐνόναση πας χυίλλη ἑνόυση καιπή,

πάχα ύδεςμαι αθάσση.

Λαι βαζήα: ἱναι, πάζι ιντυκόσον θαλόςκαι δαώνι,

λαι παςμα παιλώ ήια λαι βυλόνι λαι θαυίσι

– ἱα μαζήυα πασθαδάς.

– ναι Παιναζόυθαι Άωβύαἰ, Υλόψα θόυρροξ


Ēthái̧pē painenónąsē pai̧ chýillē henóusē kaipḗ,

pácha ýdei̧mai athái̧sē.

Lai bazḗa: hínai, pázi intykóson thalóskai daṓni,

lai pai̧ma pailṓ ēia lai bylóni lai thavísi:

hía mazḗva pai̧thadás.

– nai Painazóųthai Aōbýai, Ylópsa Thóųrrhox


The Nessa (or Nyssa) people have a strong maritime background combined with an expansionist and exploratory drive. As a result they frequently come in contact with other more disjoint cultures who had presumably spread in different directions to the Nessa long ago, and thus have acquired different customs.

This is a poem that was first come upon by a Nessanese outrigger pilot. The poem was translated without regard for meter or other artistry, as procuring resources in the foreign language was difficult enough. An attempt to discern the author's social role was made based on their apparent pen name, Ylópsa Thóųrrhox, who was presumably someone who hunts for wild dogs in order to tame them.

It is the guess of the translator that the society this poem originated in must have been both primitive, lacking dogs of their own such that they must find strays in the wilds, but also sophisticated, such that they can write poetry.

Others have suggested that the Ylópsa is in fact not a wild dog, despite vague descriptions given, but is a mythical beast, thus explaining why a society capable of such sophistication would want to collect them rather than breed them from existing stock.

In such a case, the original author may simply be using an extravagant pen name.

Regardless of the background, it is hoped the poem will speak for itself, despite the conversion to the Nessanese language.


Line #1
Ηθάσπη παινἐνόναση πας χυίλλη ἑνόυση καιπή,
Ēthái̧pē painenónąsē pai̧ chýillē henóusē kaipḗ,
/e'θaj̊pe pεnε'nonase paj̊ xyl:e hε'nuse kεpe/
ēthái̧-pē pai-in-henón-en-sē pai̧ chýillē henón-sē kai-pḗ
want-1s CAUS-PERF-content-(PATfoc)-1p.INCL like before content-1p.INCL ACT-1s
Line #2
πάχα ύδεςμαι αθάσση.
pácha ýdei̧mai athái̧sē.
/'paxa 'yðεj̊mε a'θaj̊se/
pácha ýdei̧-mai← ←athái̧-sē.
despite later-STAT← ←die-1p.INCL
Line #3
Λαι βαζήα: ἱναι, πάζι ιντυκόσον θαλόςκαι δαώνι,
Lai bazḗa: hínai, pázi intykóson thalóskai daṓni,
/lε ba'ze.a 'hinε 'pazi inty'koson θa'loskε d(a)'o:ni/
Lai bazḗ-a: hí-nai⇇, pázi in-tykós-on thalóz̊-kai← ←daṓn-i,
and understand-PAT: 3s-GEN⇇, future PERF-(grow/sprout)-LOC fallowland-ACT← ←leaf-PL,
Line #4
λαι παςμα παιλώ ήια λαι βυλόνι λαι θαυίσι:
lai pai̧ma pailṓ ḗia lai bylóni lai thavísi:
/lε paj̊ma pε'lo: i:.a by'loni θa'viz̊i/
lai pai̧-ma pailṓ ḗi-a lai bylón-i lai thavís-i:
and like-STAT← ←go sun-PL₂ and moon-PL and year-PL
Line #5
– ἱα μαζήυα πασθαδάς.
– hía mazḗva pai̧thadás.
/'hi.a ma'zeva paj̊θa'daz̊/
– hía ma-zḗva pai̧-thadás
– 3s STAT-breath like-long_ago
Line #6
– ναι Παιναζόυθαι Άωβύαἰ, Υλόψα θόυρροξ
– nai Painazóųthai Aōbýai, Ylópsa Thóųrrhox
/nai/ /pεna'zuθε/ /(a).ō'by.ε/, /y'lopsa/ /'θur:oks/
nai← ←Pai-nazón-thai← ←Aō-býas-i Ylópsa Thóųrrhox
GEN← ←CAUS-(tame/familiar)-PAT← ←dog-wild-PL [personal name]


ACT – actor
CAUS – causative
GEN – genitive
INCL – inclusive
LOC – locative
PAT – patient
(PATfoc) – patient focus
PERF – perfective
PL – plural
PL₂ – plural #2 (used mostly where the normal plural doesn't make phonetic sense)
STAT – stative

Grammar notes

While the above gloss should go a long way towards familiarising foreigners with the Nessanese language, some important things to note include:

  • There is little clear distinction between verbs and nouns morphologically speaking.
painazón = tame smthing; one who tames
  • An exception: a(n)- is generally a clear verb marker as it marks transitivity.
  • Word order tends to be VSO (the syntactic pivot tends to follow the verb).
  • The verb, or noun in its role, will focus one of its arguments. This makes that argument the syntactic pivot.
  • The syntactic pivot (subject)'s case is generally unmarked.
  • Modifiers follow their heads.
aō-býas = dog-wild = a wild dog.
  • Noun cases are generally preposed or prefixed, but they can be joined onto the preceding word. This can be for 3 reasons:
  • Phonology: because the preceding word is more likely to be phonologically affected by the following consononant, e.g.: painazón thai-aōbýas ⇒ painazóų thai-aōbýas ⇒ painazóųthai aōbýas,
  • Semantics: because the speaker is attempting to indicate some sort of special relationship between the phrases,
  • Style: because the speaker felt like it.
This is an optional process.

Pass the Particle Parcel

The latter "particle passing" is indicated with arrows. For example, later-STAT← ←die-1p.INCL indicates that the STAT particle has been given to later by die; the prefix ultimately applies to die though. And finally, indicates that a particle applies to an entire clause.

Infinitives and Imperatives

A verb phrase that is an argument to another verb (e.g., I want to eat) may focus patients instead of the actor. The patient voice is also often used for imperatives.

Noun cases and Verb focus

The language has the following noun cases:

  • Actor – kai-
  • Patient – thai-
  • Locative – -on
  • Oblique – ho-
  • Instrumental – (h)e-

The correlate with the following focus/voice affixes verbs use:

  • Actor – a(n)- (transitive), mai- (stative or active)
  • Patient – -a, -en-
  • Locative – -on
  • Oblique – -i
  • Instrumental – (h)e-

Other verbal particles

  • pai- is a causative marker.
  • The perfective aspect particle is -(i)n-, which goes after any other prefixes and before the root.