Aterran Imperial

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Modern Standard Imperial
Drikva Yakke
Pronunciation[ˈdrik.va ˈjak.ʃe]
Created byBenJamin P. Johnson,

creator of:

curator of:

Date2020
SettingPlanet Aterra

Drikva Yakke /ˈdrik.va ˈjak.ʃe/, or Modern Standard Imperial, is a standardized analytic language developed from an earlier creolized form of of various ancient languages, though it still retains a rather deep orthography from an earlier form. It is written in the Imperial Script (Kuggi Yakke /ˈkuɡ.ʒi ˈjak.ʃe/), which is an alphabet originally written vertically in syllable blocks, but is now most commonly written left-to-right in individual letters. The block-form letters are still commonly used similarly to how majuscule letters are used in Latinate scripts.

The Imperial Language is actually a snapshot of several languages over the course of several centuries. While the written language changed very little in that time, the spoken language changed significantly, and the word order and syntax became much more rigid. In a way, it is analogous to Latin, the Classical form of which would barely be understood by speakers of Vulgar Latin a few centuries later, but the word forms remained largely the same.

Phonology

Consonants

  Labial Dental Coronal Palatal Dorsal
Stop p · b t · d     k · ɡ
Affricate pf · bv   ts · dz tʃ · dʒ (kʃ) · (ɡʒ)
Fricative f · v θ · ð s · z ʃ · ʒ · h
Nasal m   n   ŋ
Lateral   l (ɬ) · ɮ    
Lateral Affricate     tɬ · dɮ    
Tap     ɾ    
Approximant       j  

Vowels

  Front Back
High i · · u
  ɪ · · ʊ
Mid e · · o
  ɛ · · ɔ
Mid æ · a ·

Diphthongs

There were no diphthongs in Old Imperial; The modern diphthongs are contractions of earlier bi-syllabic constructions. E.g. meu ‘I’ was pronounced as /ˈme.u/ rather than the modern /mew/.

  Front Back
Mid-High ej ew
Low-High aj aw

Writing System(s)

Orthography & Romanization

Hrz Vrt Rom IPA Description Example
a a~ɑ Like 〈a〉 in English father. aggè ‘some’
ae aj Like 〈i〉 in English wine. blaesh ‘144’
ao aw Like 〈ow〉 in English house. lhao ‘above’
à æ Like 〈a〉 in English bat. pàn ‘child’
b b Like 〈b〉 in English bot. beblizh ‘pair of eyes’
bb bv Like 〈bv〉 in English obvious. rabba ‘to swim’
bh v Like 〈v〉 in English very. Identical to 〈v〉, but from an earlier /bʰ/. raebh ‘new’
d d Like 〈d〉 in English day. dehi ‘to do’
dd dz Like 〈dz〉 in English adze. Identical to 〈tz〉, but from an earlier /dd/. yadde ‘old’
dh ð Like 〈th〉 in English this. (Never as in thin.) kladha ‘9’
dl Not an English sound. Identical to 〈dlh〉, but from an earlier /dl/. dlaka ‘snake’
dlh Not an English sound. The sound of 〈d〉 followed immediately by 〈lh〉. dlhu ‘not’
dzh Like 〈j〉 in English joke. dzhote ‘young’
e e Like 〈e〉 in Spanish vero. etlh ‘4’
ei ej Like 〈ay〉 in English day. hei ‘you all’
eu ew Like the 〈e〉 in egg followed immediately by 〈w〉. meu ‘me’
è ɛ Like 〈e〉 in English bet. shviè ‘ice’
f f Like 〈f〉 in English foot. Identical to 〈ph〉. fortal ‘rope’
g ɡ Like 〈g〉 in English get. (Never as in gel.) gathka ‘to steal’
gg ɡʒ A little like 〈gg〉 in English suggest. A 〈g〉 followed by a 〈zh〉 (see). ngaggè ‘sometime’
h h Like 〈h〉 in English have. hati ‘to finish’
i i Like 〈i〉 in English machine. ilè ‘1’
ie Like 〈ye〉 in English yet. iel ‘other’
iu ju Like 〈you〉 in English you. dhiun ‘right side’
ì ɪ Like 〈i〉 in English bit. trìdla ‘why’
k k Like 〈k〉 in English keep. kashkì ‘very’
kh Like 〈ct〉 in English action. Identical to 〈kk〉, but from earlier /kʰ/. khìth ‘dirty’
kk Like 〈ct〉 in English action. Identical to 〈kh〉, but from earlier /kk/. ukka ‘6’
l l Like 〈l〉 in English laugh. lavani ‘year’
lh ɬ~ɮ Not an English sound. Like 〈ll〉 in Welsh llygoden, but usually voiced. lhat ‘tooth’
m m Like 〈m〉 in English man. mahe ‘house’
n n Like 〈n〉 in English no. nente ‘star’
ng ŋ Like 〈ng〉 in English singer. (Never as in finger or ginger.) ngun ‘whenever’
o o Like 〈oa〉 in English boat. tho ‘in front of’
ò ɔ Like 〈au〉 in English caught. òla ‘father’
p p Like 〈p〉 in English put. paen ‘large’
ph f Like 〈f〉 in English foot. Identical to 〈f〉, but from earlier /pʰ/. phamba ‘to fall’
pp pf Not an English sound. Like 〈pf〉 in German Apfel. From earlier /pp/. veppat ‘smoke’
r ɾ Like 〈r〉 in Spanish pero; like 〈t〉 in (American) English water. riggu ‘red’
s s Like 〈s〉 in English soap. sakha ‘to strike’
sh ʃ Like 〈sh〉 in English shoe. shukh ‘seed’
t t Like 〈t〉 in English table. ‘person’
th θ Like 〈th〉 in English thing. (Never as in these.) From earlier /tʰ/. thra ‘8’
tl Not an English sound. Identical to 〈tlh〉, but from an earlier /tl/. tlaste ‘distant’
tlh Not an english sound. Like 〈tl〉 in Nahuatl coyotl. tvetlh ‘16’
ts ts Like 〈ts〉 in English cats. Identical to 〈tt〉. yatsù ‘left side’
tsh Like 〈ch〉 in English chair. metsha ‘here’
tt ts Like 〈ts〉 in English cats. Identical to 〈ts〉, but from earlier /tt/. mittè ‘just, only’
tz dz Like 〈ds〉 in English ads. Identical to 〈dd〉, but from an earlier /ts/ that became voiced. atze ‘island’
u u Like 〈oo〉 in English boot. umè ‘2’
ua Like 〈wa〉 in English want. ruan ‘daughter’
ue we Like 〈we〉 in English went. guelh ‘brown’
ui wi Like 〈wee〉 in English week. kuis ‘grey’
ù ʊ Like 〈oo〉 in English good. phetùk ‘brother’
v v Like 〈v〉 in English very. Identical to 〈bh〉, but from earlier /w/. vae ‘for’
y j Like 〈y〉 in English yes. yagre ‘heavy’
z z Like 〈z〉 in English zoo. azokha ‘ash’
zh ʒ Like 〈si〉 in English vision or 〈g〉 in French genre. lezh ‘will be’

You will note that there are several combinations which appear to have identical pronunciation. This is due to sound changes during the creolization of the Imperial language which have created mergers. For example, the kh in thikhe [ˈθie] ‘sharp’ and the kk in thrakku [ˈθɾau] ‘like that’ are both pronounced like the ksh in thraksha [ˈθɾaa] ‘like this’. However, in Old Imperial, they were pronounced [ˈtʰieː], [tʰrɑkˈkũ], and [tʰrɑkˈtʃɑ], respectively.

The Imperial Script (Kuggi Yakke)

Though this guide uses almost exclusively Romanization for describing the Imperial language, that Romanization (as described above) is derived directly from the Imperial “Alphabet” known as Kuggi Yakke (“Imperial Writing”). The Yakke script is arranged in “blocks” of syllables consisting of (minimally) a single vowel, and may contain various types on onsets and codas, each syllable basically forming a square shape. In most modern writing, this square format has been ignored due to constraints on space, and writing has become more compact, but the block style is still a default for signs, titles, important words, and other functions, a bit like majuscule letters or italics might used in Latin scripts, or hiragana in Japanese. These are not direct analogies, of course, but be aware that block script is usually used to set apart important words from other text.

Traditionally the Yakke script was written vertically from top to bottom in columns from right to left. Recently it has become more common to write it horizontally from left to right, but unlike languages like Chinese or Japanese, where writing direction has changed but character orientation has remained constant, Yakke script written horizontally also changes the direction of the written characters, so a horizontal text can simply be turned 90° to become a vertical text, more like how Mongolian or Manchurian are vertical scripts derived from Sogdian, a vertical script based on horizontally written Syriac.

In all there are three main types of characters: Onsets, secondary onset modifiers, and vowels. Onsets may use the entire width of the character, or may share the initial space with a secondary onset modifier. Vowels always use the entire width of the character (in the case of vertical script) or height (for horizontal).

Onsets

There are nineteen possible onsets: (Stay tuned for graphics!)

Hrz Vrt Rom   Hrz Vrt Rom   Hrz Vrt Rom   Hrz Vrt Rom   Hrz Vrt Rom
p t k s l
b d g z r
m n ng sh lh
v y h zh  

Secondary Onsets

There are eight possible secondary onsets, consisting of two groups: four which precede the primary onset (starting at the bottom of a stroke in the vertical or on the left for horizontal), and four which follow it (at the top or right, respectively): (Stay tuned for graphics!)

Preceding   Following
Hrz Vrt Rom Hrz Vrt Rom
s h
d r
t l
sh v

Nuclei (Vowels)

There are ten vowels or nuclei:

Tense   Lax
Hrz Vrt Rom Hrz Vrt Rom
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter i
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter i
i
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter ì
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter ì
ì
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter e
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter e
e
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter è
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter è
è
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter a
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter a
a
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter à
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter à
à
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter o
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter o
o
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter ò
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter ò
ò
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter u
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter u
u
Kuggi Yakke Horizontal Letter ù
Kuggi Yakke Vertical Letter ù
ù

There are no diphthongs in the writing system. Diphthongs are a recent development which evolved from adjacent syllables with no intervening consonants. In writing, they are still written as if they were two separate syllables. For example, meu ‘I’ is written as two blocks: me-u. However, this has led to modern non-block writing developing ligatures for the diphthongs which are beginning to take on their own shapes. Until such time as a spelling reform is implemented, however, the syllable blocks continue to be the standard.

Codae

Codae are ostensibly identical to the onsets, only written on to the right of the vowel (or below it in vertical script), but several of the onsets (such as p, b, d, ng, and z) are not used in coda position. The secondary onsets are also very rarely used, occurring only in dzh, tsh, tlh, and bh. Also note that syllables do not always fall into blocks as they do phonologically in polysyllabic words: There is a tendancy towards maximizing onsets which may not always be reflected in the writing.

Morphology

Substantives

Gender

All nouns are classified as either masculine or non-masculine. This is, of course, a grammatical construct rather than an anatomical one, and aside from including some specifically masculine words – such as òla ‘father’, phetùk ‘brother’, rosha ‘man’, &c – the masculine class is mainly notable for the feature that masculine nouns usually end in a vowel, while non-masculine nouns do not.

Number

Grammatical number is not automatically indicated on nouns, though a singular~plural distinction exists in personal pronouns. Grammatical number for nouns may be marked if necessary by way of reduplication (in the case of masculine nouns) or a pluralizing particle (in the case of non-masculine nouns), but is usually ignored when not explicitly required. The plural is never indicated in the presence of numerals.

A small set of nouns which generally come in pairs may have irregular dual forms. (See Dual Nouns below.)

Pluralising Masculine Nouns

Masculine nouns are pluralised through a process of reduplication.

In simplest terms, take the first letter of the noun, follow it by 〈a〉 (if the first vowel of the noun is a, o, or u) or 〈e〉 (if the first vowel is a, i, or e) and then add the singular noun. E.g.:

  • rosha ‘man’ → rarosha ‘men’
  • shi ‘animal’ → sheshi ‘animals’
  • kama ‘table’ → kekama ‘tables’

There are, of course, some exceptions and nuances, as well as flat-out irregularities:

  • If the first or second syllable of the noun is lax (i.e. contains à, è, ì, ò, or ù), it becomes tense (i.e. drop the accent mark). E.g.:
    • ‘wood’ → teti ‘woods’ (‘types of wood’)
    • ‘stone’ → deda ‘stones’
    • lòga ‘husband’ → laloga ‘husbands’
  • If a masculine noun begins with 〈ng〉, the 〈g〉 is dropped in reduplication, E.g.
    • nga ‘time’ → nenga ‘times’
  • If a masculine noun begins with an aspirate – that is, a cluster with 〈h〉 from an earlier aspirate in Old Imperial (i.e. bh, dh, kh, lh, ph, or th – but not sh or zh, which are just transcriptional), the 〈h〉 is dropped, E.g.:
    • lhadzhèlalhadzhè ‘mountains’
    • phetùk ‘brother’ → paphetuka ‘brothers’
    • thule ‘tree’ → tathule ‘trees’
  • If a masculine noun begins with vowel, it is pluralized like a non-masculine noun (see below).
Pluralising Non-Masculine Nouns

Non-masculine nouns are pluralised simply by preceding the noun with the particle kve. E.g.:

  • meth ‘place’ → kve meth ‘places’
  • paletsh ‘woman’ → kve paletsh ‘women’
  • trìl ‘reason’ → kve trìl ‘reasons’

Unlike masculine nouns, the kve particle does not affix to the noun and does not affect the quality of the vowels of the noun, except…

Pluralising Vowel-Initial Nouns

Both masculine and non-masculine nouns beginning with a vowel are pluralised by preposing the particle kv- as an affix, eliding the e. E.g.:

  • elin ‘mother’ → kvelin ‘mothers’
  • ebreth ‘wife’ → kvebreth ‘wives’
  • atze ‘island’ → kvatze ‘islands’


Irregular & Suppletive Nouns

There are several of the most common nouns which have irregular plurals. Some of the most common are:

  • òla ‘father’ → kvòla ‘fathers’ (not **kvola)
  • pàn ‘child’ → pepàn ‘children’ (not **kve pàn)
  • yìr ‘thing’ → kveyir ‘things’ (not **kve yìr)
  • ‘person’ → kvètè ‘people’ (not **tete). in particular has a number of irregular compounds. One commonality is that the lax vowel is almost never tensed as it would be in normal plurals. Some compounds are formed with kvè (rather than the expected **kve), while others use reduplication:
    • arratè ‘hunter’ → kvarratè
    • lurkatè ‘murderer’ → kvèlurkatè
    • shatviarratè ‘investigator’ → shatvikvarrat
    • shatvietè ‘teacher’ → sheshatvie, but
    • tetzavà ‘cyborg’ → kvètetzava ‘cyborgs’ (not **kvètètzava, using the irregular plural of or **tetetzava using the regular masculine plural)
Dual Nouns

Some non-masculine nouns, particularly those referring to body parts which come in pairs, use masculine-type reduplication when referring explicitly to the paired sense, and kve otherwise. E.g.:

  • bhèt ‘breast’ → bebhèt ‘pair of breasts’ → kve bhèt ‘(many) breasts’
  • blizh ‘eye’ → beblizh ‘pair of eyes’ → kve blizh ‘(many) eyes’
  • bresh ‘foot’ → bebresh ‘pair of feet’ → kve bresh ‘(many) feet’
  • dèt ‘horn’ → dadet ‘pair of horns’ → kve dèt ‘(many) horns’
  • dendor ‘leg’ → dedendor ‘pair of legs’ → kve dendor ‘(many) legs’
  • doman ‘hand’ → dedoman ‘pair of hands’ → kve doman ‘(many) hands’
  • noth ‘ear’ → nanoth ‘pair of ears’ → kve noth ‘(many) ears’
  • rinen ‘knee’ → rerinen ‘pair of knees’ → kve rinen ‘(many) knees’
  • yinkesh ‘wing’ → yeyinkesh ‘pair of wings’ → kve yinkesh ‘(many) wings’

While these “dual” forms almost always refer to grouped pairs of objects, they sometimes refer to sets of more than two, e.g. lhat ‘tooth’ → kve lhat ‘teeth’ → lelhat ‘set of teeth’. In the case of teeth, this may have originated with the dual sense of the upper and lower sets of teeth, and other sets were later analogized on this model.

Another slight irregularity is the (usually poetic) dual usage of thrin ‘heart’ to refer to couples in love, but generally the use of tethrin is discouraged in formal writing.

Possession

Possession is indicated with the adposition go. In addition to standard possession of nouns, it is also used with pronouns to form the basis of the possessive pronouns rather than a separate genitive-like construction. (Old Imperial, however, did use genitive pronouns which were lost after The Expansion.)

Yìrku go meu (ei).
‘That is my stone.’
(“That-thing stone of me [is].”)

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns in Modern Standard Imperial are simple in scope, including first and second person singular and plural forms, and third person singular distinction between masculine and non-masculine grammatical gender. The third person plural does not have a gender distinction. The first person plural does not make a clusivity distinction (meaning there is no differentiation between “we including you” and “we but not you.”)

The personal pronouns are:

Singular Plural
meu ‘I, me’ ta ‘we, us’
‘you’ hei ‘you (all)’
shva ‘he, him’ ‘they’
dehu ‘she, her, it’

Prepositions

Imperial has a small set of adpositions, many of which serve multiple purposes. While Old Imperial, which had a much freer word order, used both prepositions and postpositions, the modern language uses prepositions exclusively. Because the language does not inflect for case, this placement is very important.

Some of the more common prepositions are:

  Translation Equivalent Case Example
dhi under, on the bottom of Subessive Yìraggè dhi bresh go meu.
Something is on the bottom of my foot.
tzu under, beneath, below Sublative Thombir tzu .
The worm is under the rock.
go of, belonging to, related to Genitive tètsha òla go meu ei.
This is my father.
ke to, towards Allative ke shuthket ati?
Are you going to town?
khan without, lacking Abessive ta khan meti.
We will go without them.
lhao over, above Superlative Yaral lhao mahe hati thruga.
A bird flew over the house.
li behind Postessive Teggè li mitlu ei.
Someone is behind the door.
lu in, inside of Inessive Reshte lu yash.
The fish is in the water.
ma from, out of Delative Meu ma methku hati ngatsha thuri.
I just came from there.
na on, on top of, upon Superessive Thule na lhadzhei.
The tree is on the mountain.
ne on, on the side of Pertingent Shise ne blishmitlu.
The snow is on the window.
ngè through Translative Dehu ngè yathrèk hati vanda.
She walked through the forest.
thie with, in the company of Commitative Pàn thie shva gòla.
The child is with his father.
tho in front of, before Antessive Bebage tho mahei.
The dogs are in front of the house.
ti at, in (a location) Locative Shva ti mahe go shva.
He is at his house.
vae for, to Benefactive Metsha satha vae .
Here is a gift for you.

Adjectives

Adjectives, with the exception of numerals, almost exclusively follow the nouns the modify. Though that is slightly out of character for a language that is otherwise strong head-final, this is at least in part due to the language’s verb-final and optional null-copula status, as adjectives in many circumstances may be seen simply as verbs.

Nearly all adjectives can receive the suffix ei ‘to be’ in order to convert them into a verb; however, this copulative ending is usually optional. If no copula is indicated, the adjective may precede the subject if they make up the entirety of the sentence. E.g.:

Numerals

The Imperial numerals are duodecimal – that is, base-12 – as are numbers in most Aterran languages with the exception of Hakdor. For duodecimal transcription, 〈X〉 is used to represent ‘ten’ and 〈B〉 for ‘eleven’. Decimal equivalents are given in parentheses after the duodecimal.

The “teen” numerals are slightly irregular, having gone through an additional stage of sound change. Higher numbers are compounded with ya ‘and’.

dlhukat 0 tvalh 10 (12) umè tvalh 20 (24) tvalh 10 (12)
ilè 1 tvalè 11 (13) umè tvalh ya ilè 21 (25) umè tvalh 20 (24)
umè 2 tvamè 12 (14) umè tvalh ya umè 22 (26) shar tvalh 30 (36)
shar 3 tvashar 13 (15) umè tvalh ya shar 23 (27) etlh tvalh 40 (48)
etlh 4 tvetlh 14 (16) umè tvalh ya etlh 24 (28) pikh tvalh 50 (60)
pikh 5 tvapikh 15 (17) umè tvalh ya pikh 25 (29) ukka tvalh 60 (72)
ukka 6 tvakka 16 (18) umè tvalh ya ukka 26 (30) kvet tvalh 70 (84)
kvet 7 tvakvet 17 (19) umè tvalh ya kvet 27 (31) thra tvalh 80 (96)
thra 8 tvathra 18 (20) umè tvalh ya thra 28 (32) kladha tvalh 90 (108)
kladha 9 tvadhla 19 (21) umè tvalh ya kladha 29 (33) vuku tvalh X0 (120)
vuku X (10) tvuku 1X (22) umè tvalh ya vuku 2X (34) yosh tvalh B0 (132)
yosh B (11) tvayosh 1B (23) umè tvalh ya yosh 2B (35) blaesh 100 (144)

Exponents

Higher numbers can be formed i the same way using exponents on a long scale:

tvalh 10 (12)
blaesh 100 (144)
latlha 1,000 (1,728)
tvalh latlha 10,000 (20,736)
blaesh latlha 100,000 (248,832)
thrakvi 1,000,000 (2,985,984)
tvalh thrakvi 10,000,000 (35,831,808)
blaesh thrakvi 100,000,000 (429,981,696)
latlha thrakvi 1,000,000,000 (5,159,780,352)
tvalh latlha thrakvi 10,000,000,000 (61,917,364,224)
blaesh latlha thrakvi 100,000,000,000 (743,008,370,688)
thrappa 1,000,000,000,000 (8,916,100,448,256)

Verbs

TAM Marking

Imperial verbs do not inflect, so indications of tense, aspect, mood, mode, evidentiality, voice, and other verbal features are indicated almost exclusively with particles.

Tense

The past tense is formed using the auxiliary verb hati. E.g.:

→ ‘He saw that tree.’ Shva thule ku hati veta.

The future is formed using the auxiliary ati, which follows the verb, or may be suffixed to the verb in some circumstances. E.g.:

→ ‘He will see that tree.’ Shva thule ku vetati.

Negation

Negation with dlhu

Negation is formed on most verbs by directly preceding the verb with the negative particle dlhu. E.g.:

→ ‘She will not teach you.’ Dehu dlhu shatviati dehu.
Negation with ruk

The copula ei and the null copula are negated by replacing the copula (if extant) with the negative verb ruk. Some other common verbs also use ruk for negation instead of dlhu. E.g.

→ ‘That child is not my brother.’ Pàn ku phetùk go meu ruk.

Irregularity & Suppletion

Many common verbs show suppletion or irregularity in one or more forms (in bold):

Present Negative Past Negative Past Future Negative Future
veta ‘to see’ (regular) dlhu veta hati veta dlhu hati veta vetati dlhu vetati
ati ‘to go’ ruk ati ganati ruganati meti ruk meti
dehi ‘to do’ dlhu dehi hati dehi dlhu hati dehi dedehi dlhu dedehi
ei ‘to be’ ruk gan(ei) rugan(ei) lezh ruklezh
hati ‘to finish’ dlhu hati hehati dlhu hehati hatati dlhu hatati
satha ‘to give’ dlhu satha hati satha dlhu hati satha sasathi dlhu sasathi
thuri ‘to come’ ruk thuri gan thuri rugan thuri thurati ruk thurati
→ He does not go into that house. Shva lu mahe ku ruk ati.
→ He went into that house. Shva lu mahe ku ganati.
→ He did not go into that house. Shva lu mahe ku ruganati.
→ He will go into that house. Shva lu mahe ku meti.
→ He will not go into that house. Shva lu mahe ku ruk meti.

Syntax

Word Order & Alignments

The basic order of Standard Imperial is SOV; that is: Subject, Object, Verb. However, as with many languages, it doesn’t fit quite so tidily into a single category. Intransitive or “objectless” clauses may be VS, and “verbless” predicative adjectival phrases may be AS or SA depending on various factors.

Typology

SOV~VS; VSO or SVO marked.

Morphosyntactic Alignment

Historically, Ancient Imperial was a heavily marked nominative-accusative language, though this description is rather nominal, as no inflection exists in modern Standard Imperial that might differentiate marked nouns. Modern Imperial shows tendencies toward an ergative-absolutive structure in its non-standard handling of objectless subjects and duplication of certain subjects to coerce them into transitive roles (see Bi-Transitive Verbs), but not enough to be able to consider it an ergative-absolutive language.

Noun Phrases

The standard order ot most noun phrases is:

  1. Adposition
  2. Numeral
  3. Noun
  4. Demonstrative/Determiner
  5. Adjective (Phrase)
  6. Genitive (Phrase)
  7. Relative (Clause)

E.g. ‘…with those three thin men from the village who stole my brother’s dog’ would be translated more literally as “with three men those thin (ones) from village who dog of brother of me stole.”

thie shar rarosha ku meish ma shuthket,
with three men those thin (ones) from (the) village
cmt 3 pl-man dist thin del village
thie shar ra-rosha ku meish ma shuthket
tèla bagè go phetùk go meu hati gathka.
who (the) dog of (the) brother of me did steal
rel dog of brother of 1sg pst steal
tèla bagè go phetùk go meu hati gathka

Adjective Phrases

Degree adverbs precede the adjective they modify.

  1. Degree Adverbs
  2. Adjective

‘That was a very good dog,’ would be literally, ‘That (one) dog very good was.’

Tèku bagè kashkì savati gan.
that (onw) dog very good was
one-that dog aug good pst.cop
tèku bagè kashkì savati gan

Alternatively, because of the copula-optional nature of the language as concerns adjectives, it is also correct to render this as: kashkì hati savati bagè ku. (“Very was good dog that.”)

Verb Phrases

The typical verb phrase is arranged:

  1. Subject
  2. Object
  3. Spatial Adverb or Phrase
  4. Temporal Adverb or Phrase
  5. Standard Adverb
  6. Negative Marker
  7. Verb
  8. (Subject)[1]

Verb Phrases consisting solely of one-word subject and verb:

  1. Subject
  2. Verb

Copular Clauses

The copula in the Old Imperial language was ei, and was always required; however, in Modern Standard Imperial, the copula is optional in both equative phrases and phrases with adjectival predicates. E.g.:

In cases with an adjectival predicate (or other intransitive verbs) where the subject consists of a single word (usually a pronoun), the subject and verb may invert.

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are formed, in pretty standard fashion, by using the interrogatives as relative conjunctions. Relative clauses follow the noun they modify. E.g.:

Tèku bagè, tèla reshte go meu hati langa.
That (one) (the) dog is who fish of me did eat
One-that dog cop one-rel fish of 1sg pst eat
Tè-ku bagè tè-la reshte go meu hati langa

‘That is the dog who ate my fish.’

Seklesh kerei ngala yempath phamba.
(The) earth is-wet when the rain is-falling
Earth wet-cop time-rel rain fall
Seklesh kera-ei nga-la yempath phamba

‘The earth is wet when it rains.’

Bi-Transitive Verbs

Not to be confused with ditransitive verbs, which are merely verbs which take a direct and indirect object, bi-transitive verb construction is a unique feature in Modern Standard Imperial which is semantically more or less equivalent to a causative (though there are other types of causatives as well). These are verbs which are intransitive by default, but can be made transitive by adding an object. However, since the subject follows the verb in intransitive clauses, but precedes it in those containing a predicate, this set of verbs developed a context in which the subject becomes duplicated. E.g.:

(Here there is no object, and so the subject follows the verb.)

(Here there is a direct object, which triggers the sentence to revert back to its natural SOV order.)

  • ‘I teach.’
    (“I know I” → “I cause knowing.”)
    Meu shatviè meu .
  • ‘I teach you.’
    (“I you know I” → “I cause you to know.”)
    Meu shatviè meu .
  • ‘I teach you how to swim.’
    (“I you swim know I” → “I cause you to know how to swim.”)
    Meu rabba shatviè meu .

If the subject is a noun or noun phrase (rather than a pronoun), its equivalent pronoun will follow the verb. (A full noun can never follow a verb in Modern Standard Imperial.)

Some other examples of bi-transitive causatives are:

  Intransitive Transitive Bi-Transitive
ati to go -- to send (so sth)
darrana to sit to set (sth) to seat (so)
shatviè to know to know (sth) to teach (so sth)
thuri to come -- to bring (so sth)
traya to remain -- to leave (sth) behind
veta to see to see (sth) to understand

Vocabulary & Lexicon

Swadesh List

(For those of you who like this sort of thing.)

  Imperial English   Imperial English   Imperial English
001 meu I 070 kvitta feather 139 nasta to count
002 you 071 platti hair (on head) 140 gvida to say
003 shva, dehu he, she, it 072 patuk head 141 shula to sing
004 ta we 073 noth ear 142 nopra to play
005 hei you 074 blizh eye 143 threka to float
006 they 075 gaman nose 144 blei to flow
007 tsha this 076 rigla mouth 145 brona to freeze
008 ku that 077 lhat tooth 146 varra to swell
009 metsha here 078 merka tongue 147 shakuth sun
010 methku there 079 krè fingernail 148 mirat moon
011 tèla who 080 bresh foot 149 nente star
012 yìdla what 081 dendor leg 150 yash water
013 methla where 082 rinen knee 151 yempath rain
014 ngala when 083 doman hand 152 midli river
015 thrakla how 084 yinkesh wing 153 uthka lake
016 dlhu not 085 kèba belly, abdomen 154 kespe sea
017 tash all 086 kigvezh guts, entrails 155 bitlun salt
018 gatzo many 087 nadzha neck 156 stone
019 aggè some 088 gesh back 157 thè sand
020 kith few 089 bhaya breast 158 sahal dust
021 iel other 090 thrin heart 159 seklesh earth, soil, dirt
022 ilè one 091 nuyom liver 160 druya cloud
023 umè two 092 godha to drink 161 ngeshet fog, mist
024 shar three 093 langa to eat 162 nash sky
025 etlh four 094 lenka to bite 163 keishi wind
026 pikh five 095 sanga to suck 164 shise snow
027 paen big, large 096 tlatta to spit 165 shviè ice
028 yetlh long 097 bhenkò to vomit 166 veppat smoke
029 bìku wide, broad 098 prahe to blow 167 nuk fire
030 yadla thick 099 harra to breathe 168 azokha ash, ashes
031 yagre heavy 100 netha to laugh 169 paksha burn
032 kie small, little 101 veta to see 170 athri path, road, trail
033 tzi short 102 kesta to hear 171 lhadzhè mountain
034 nesi narrow 103 shatviè to know 172 riggu red
035 meish thin 104 telka to think 173 merri green
036 paletsh woman 105 falta to smell 174 thibre yellow
037 rosha man 106 krakha to fear 175 lhasi white
038 person 107 gendzha to sleep 176 geka black
039 pàn child 108 budhra to live 177 naril night
040 ebreth wife 109 skobha to die 178 dashi day
041 lòga husband 110 lurka to kill 179 lavani year
042 elin mother 111 voka to fight 180 theda hot (weather)
043 òla father 112 arradae to hunt 181 amedi cold
044 shi animal 113 sakha to hit 182 pisash full
045 reshte fish 114 shaka to cut 183 raebh new
046 yaral bird 115 khegriè to split 184 kopra old
047 bagè dog 116 ditsha to stab, to pierce 185 savati good
048 svì louse 117 dlhage to scratch 186 kash bad
049 dlaka snake 118 tvanda to dig 187 yetsh rotten
050 thombir worm 119 rabba to swim 188 khìth dirty
051 thule tree 120 thruga to fly 189 gata straight
052 yathrèk forest, woods 121 vanda to walk 190 vòbh round
053 yakèt stick 122 thuri come 191 thikhe sharp
054 nithren fruit 123 nubhi to lie (down) 192 rog dull
055 shukh seed 124 darrana to sit 193 sheris smooth
056 din leaf 125 eska to stand 194 kera wet
057 kazin root 126 tviska to turn 195 akram dry
058 nuis bark (of tree) 127 phamba to fall 196 yadì correct, right
059 thuman flower 128 satha to give 197 dzhesa near
060 athe grass 129 korda to hold 198 tlaste far
061 fortal rope 130 kveda to squeeze 199 dhiun right (hand)
062 toma skin 131 bìna to rub 200 yatsù left (hand)
063 rundzhat flesh, meat 132 nodha to wash 201 ti at
064 tadlash blood 133 ridva to wipe 202 lu in
065 ikva bone 134 kuna to pull 203 thie with
066 grabh grease, fat 135 sidlha to push 204 ya and
067 ngusha egg 136 vaka to throw 205 dzhe if
068 dèt horn 137 durga to tie, bind 206 tritsha because
069 kadu tail 138 hovae to sew 207 arel name
  1. ^ There is a series of verbs derived from intransitive verbs where the subject is repeated after the verb in the manner of single-word subjects.