Lemizh

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Lemizh
lemỳzh.
Pronunciation[lɛmˈɯ̀ʒ]
Created byAnypodetos
Date1985
SettingAlt-history Europe
Native toLemaria
Indo-European
  • Lemizh
    • Lemizh
Early form
Proto-Lemizh
Lemizh alphabet
SourcesProto-Indo-European
Official status
Official language in
Lemaria
Map of Lemaria.png
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Lemizh ([lεmˈiʒ], native pronunciation: [lɛmˈɯ̀ʒ]) is a language I invented with the aim of creating a grammar as regular and simple as possible. It was originally intended as an international auxiliary language. However, it turned out that a simple grammar is not necessarily a grammar that is easy to learn: the more ways of simplification I found, the further away it moved from Indo-European and probably all other familiar language structures. Expecting anyone to learn Lemizh, at this point, would be unrealistic.

So I needed a new justification for the language: enter the Lemizh, a people living to the west and north of the Black Sea in an alternate history that slowly drifted away from ours between two and eight millennia ago. Of course, it is extremely unlikely that they would speak a language that was completely without exceptions. To be precise, the chances are two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand seven hundred and nine to one against. But they say that everything has to happen somewhere in the Multiverse; and everything happens only once.

History

Early stages

Lemizh is an Indo-European language and, together with Volgan, constitutes one of the ten recognised branches of the Indo-European language family. This branch is also called Lemizh, to the disgruntlement of Volgan linguists.

Proto-Lemizh, the ancestor of Lemizh and Volgan, is very poorly attested in form of some papyri found near the northwestern shore of the Black Sea, to the north of the Dniester Liman, dated about 2700 BC. Old Lemizh, by contrast, is fairly well attested. It had predominantly subject–verb–object (SVO) word order and was a quite typical old Indo-European language, but with a couple of interesting quirks:

  • Adjectives were lost as a separate part of speech, being replaced with participles ("white" > "being white").
  • Finite subordinate clauses had their subject in the case of the clause: the subject of a local clause was in the locative case without having a local meaning in itself.

The earliest known documents from this stage of Lemizh were probably written around 2100 BC along the northern and western shores of the Back Sea.

Ghean and Middle Lemizh

Ghean ([ˈɣɛən]) is a language with no known genetic relationships. It was spoken by a people of unknown origin, who subdued the Lemizh tribes in around 1000 BC and ruled for infamous three generations. Ghean was an inflected register tonal language with strict verb–subject–object (VSO) word order and head-first phrases. It had verbs, nominals (a combined noun/adjective/participle part of speech), pronouns and particles.

The Gheans discouraged the use of the natives' language, but obviously tolerated Lemizh words (or rather word stems) to stand in for unfamiliar Ghean ones. The grammar of simple sentences was easy enough to learn for the Lemizh, as they were used to inflection and head-first phrases, and likely still knew VSO sentences from poetry. After two or three generations, the natives must have spoken a creole with a more or less Ghean grammar but an abundance of Lemizh words, especially outside the core vocabulary. This is a quite unusual development as most creoles draw their lexicon mainly from the dominant group, and tend to be grammatically more innovative. (The Tanzanian language Mbugu might have had a somewhat similar development with more or less analogous outcomes.) After the disappearance of the Gheans, Lemizh patriots tried to revive their old language, which failed spectacularly for the grammar but reintroduced many Lemizh words of the core vocabulary.

The last three millennia

While Middle Lemizh as spoken after the Ghean occupation already had a non-Indo-European and unusually regular grammar, this trend was to continue over the following millennia. The factive case was innovated to express verbal nouns, which eventually supplanted verbs altogether. (At least part of the blame goes to the Tlöngö̀l, an epic novel published in 1351, which popularised the use of verbal nouns.) The tonal system was simplified to the present two-way pitch-accent system. Pronouns lost their status as a separate part of speech. The last particles died out a few hundred years ago, leaving the language with a single part of speech which is often called a "verb" but, historically speaking, is really a nominal. This means that the concept of parts of speech does not make sense in Modern Lemizh.

This article describes the dialect spoken to the north of the Danube delta, which prevailed against other variants and is considered the standard language today.

Orthography and phonology

The alphabet is phonetic: each letter corresponds to a certain sound, and each sound is represented by a single letter. The direction of writing is left to right. This article uses the standard transcription of the native Lemizh alphabet as given here:

Letters of the Lemizh alphabet
Lemizh alphabet.png
a e y i o ö u ü l rh r ng m g d b k t p gh zh z dh w x sh s th f

Consonants

bilabial dental alveolar postalveolar velar
nasals m [m] ng [ŋ]
plosives (voiceless • voiced) p [p] • b [b] t [t] • d [d] k [k] • g [g]
fricatives (voiceless • voiced) f [ɸ] • w [β] th [θ] • dh [ð] s [s] • z [z] sh [ʃ] • zh [ʒ] x [x] • gh [ɣ]
liquids lateral approximant l [l]
approximant rh [ɹ]
trill r [r]

The plosive-fricative combinations pf, ts, tsh, kx and their voiced couterparts only occur at word boundaries and in compound words. They are not pronounced as affricates but as separate sounds. The same applies for other combinations of a plosive plus another consonant (pm, tl etc.), as well as for two identical plosives (kk etc.): the release of the first plosive is always audible.

Vowels

front back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
close i [i] ü [y] y [ɯ] u [u]
open-mid e [ɛ] ö [œ] a [ʌ] o [ɔ]

Two consecutive different vowels are pronounced as a diphthong; two consecutive identical vowels as a long one. Single vowels are always short.

Lemizh uses moræ for structuring words: a short syllable equals one mora, and a long syllable equals two. In Lemizh, every vowel is the centre of a mora; consequently, two consecutive vowels result in two moræ or one long syllable.

Accent

Lemizh has got a two-way pitch-accent system, in that accented moræ are not only spoken louder (as in English), but also have either a lower or a higher pitch than the surrounding unaccented ones. The accented mora is always the ultimate or penultimate of a word. The vowel at the centre of a low-pitch accented mora is transcribed with a grave accent, the vowel at the centre of a high-pitch accented mora with an acute accent.

Accented vowel letters
Lemizh accented vowels.png
à è ì ò ö̀ ù ǜ
á é ý í ó ö́ ú ǘ

Phonotactics

Phonotactics is rather permissive in Lemizh. A mora has the following structure, where the bracketed parts are optional:

  • (O)(N)(L)V(L)(N)(O)

V is the mora's vowel, L a liquid, N a nasal, and O an obstruent that can be either a P(losive), a F(ricative), FP, PF, FF, FFP, FPF, or PFF. Word-initial consonant clusters cannot contain more than three sounds. No geminate consonants (*ff etc.) occur within a mora. Consecutive plosive-fricative or fricative-plosive combinations within the same mora must have the same sonority – either both are voiced, or both are voiceless. A plosive cannot have the same place of articulation as a following consonant with the exception of rh and r. *dzh, *ddh and their voiceless counterparts are also prohibited within a mora.

Word boundaries, including those within compound words, are always mora boundaries. Where mora boundaries would still be ambiguous, liquids and nasals are assigned to the earliest possible mora (as the m in lem·ỳzh.), and obstruents to the latest possible mora.

Morphology

All words are composed of the following parts:

  • Prestem + inner case + poststem + outer case

Prestem and poststem form the stem, or the lexical part, of the word. The division of the stem into two portions is similar to English verbs such as sing/sang/sung, where the lexical part is s–ng while the vowels i/a/u convey grammatical information. The stem always denotes an action (but never a state, a person, a thing, a property, etc.) and thus resembles our verbs. The prestem can contain any sounds, or it can be zero (i.e. consisting of zero sounds). The poststem can only contain fricatives and plosives, or it can be zero as well.

The inner case is represented by one of the eight vowels, optionally followed by a liquid (the primary case suffix) and/or a nasal (the secondary case suffix). The outer case has the same structure. For the first word in each sentence, the main predicate, the outer case is missing.

Each case is defined by its descriptor: for example, the factive case denotes an action, the nominative a sender, the locative a place. The stem and the inner case's descriptor determine a word's meaning.

Examples

  • wàx. w–x is the stem for "speak", -a- denotes the inner factive, so this word means "an action of speaking", translated as the verb "to speak" or the verbal noun "speaking".
  • wèx. -e- denotes the inner nominative, so this word means "a sender of speaking" or "a speaker".
  • àrdh. ∅–dh (having a zero prestem) is the stem for "eat", -ar- denotes the inner locative: "a place of eating".

The customary citation form of a word is the one with inner factive.

Primary cases and their descriptors
Case vowel Primary case suffix
none l rh r
Plot cases Causal cases Temporal cases Spatial cases
1 a factive (fact):
action
affirmative (aff):
fact (point in causal chain)
temporal (temp):
time
locative (loc):
place/region
2 e nominative (nom):
source, sender
causative (caus):
direct cause
ingressive (ing):
starting time
elative (ela):
starting point/region
3 y accusative (acc):
content
contextual (ctx):
causal context
durative (dur):
duration
extensive (ext):
spatial extent
4 i dative (dat):
sink, recipient
consecutive (cons):
direct consequence, effect
egressive (egr):
closing time
illative (ill):
end point / ending region
5 o tentive (ten):
intention
intentive (int):
intention (intended point in causal chain)
episodic (eps):
episode, "act"
scenic (sce):
scene, "stage"
6 ö comitative (com):
company
persuasive (psu):
reason
digressive (dig):
time away from which
ablative (abl):
place/region away from which
7 u instrumental (ins):
means, tool
motivational (mot):
motivational context
progressive (prog):
time that is passed
prolative (prol):
crossing point/region
8 ü benefactive (ben):
beneficiary
final (fin):
purpose, aim
aggressive (agg):
time towards which, temporal aim
allative (all):
place/region towards which, spatial aim

Each primary case has two corresponding secondary cases:

  • a partitive case formed by adding ng (such as -ing- for the partitive dative or -erng- for the partitive elative) with the descriptor the set from which the source (sink, place, etc.) is thought to be taken: wèngx. is "the set from which the speaker is thought to be taken", i.e. "the speaker, among others".
  • a qualitative case formed by adding m, with the descriptor the basis of comparison for the source (sink, place, etc.): wèmx. informally translates as "someone like a speaker".

The plot

Every action denoted by a stem is considered a flow of information that comes from a source (sender), transports a content, and reaches a sink (a recipient). The terms "sender" and "recipient" may be more familiar, but "source" and "sink" are more accurate in not necessarily meaning living beings.

Consequently, a Lemizh action looks somewhat like this: nominative  accusativeDreieckGreenMIDDLE.png dative

This is called the action's plot. Here are some examples:

Inner factive Inner nominative Inner accusative Inner dative
wàx. "to speak, to talk, to tell; (an action of) speaking" wèx. "one telling something" wỳx. "a tale" wìx. "one who is told something"
dà. "to give; (an action of) giving" dè. "one giving something" dỳ. "a gift" dì. "one who is given something; one who gets something"
làzhw. "to help" lèzhw. "one helping" lỳzhw. "help (given)" lìzhw. "one whom is helped"
mlàtx. "to melt" mlètx. "one melting something" [mlỳtx.] mlìtx. "a melted thing"
xöàgh. "to produce a sound; to hear" xöègh. "one producing a sound" xöỳgh. "a sound" xöìgh. "one hearing something"
àdh. "to feed; to eat" èdh. "one feeding someone" ỳdh. "food" ìdh. "one being fed; one eating"
ià. "to love" iè. "one loving someone, a lover" iỳ. "a beloved" iì. "a beloved"

Importantly, there are no rules for which cases to use with which words. Both iỳ. (acc) and iì. (dat) mean "a beloved". The former describes the beloved as the content of love, the one being lovingly thought of, while the latter implies that the love reaches them, like words or gifts reach their recipient. Likewise, the reason why mlỳtx. is not translated in the table above isn't that "melt does not take the accusative", as grammars of other languages would say, but that "a content of melting" does not seem to have any obvious meaning. If someone wanted to describe, say, sun rays as content transported from the sun to the snow to melt it, they could well use mlỳtx. to express the concept.

Case usage is governed solely by the cases' descriptors; it is up to the speaker how to use them given some word's meaning and some context. If the wind opens a door, is it the source of the action of opening (ngèt.), the means of opening (ngùt.), or the cause (ngèlt.)? All are grammatically correct; the speaker decides which possibility best expresses their intention.

Nouns

Nouns, adjectives and verbs do not correspond to any concepts in Lemizh grammar. Using these terms is just an attempt to describe the grammar from an Indo-European viewpoint.

A large number of nouns are not derived from verbs in most languages: froth, ship, lion and many others. In Lemizh, however, we have verbs such as psràxk. "to froth", àksh. "to build a ship or ships", and làw. "to make a lion or lions". We will call these nominal verbs.

Looking at the verb àksh., the shipwright (nom) gives the building materials (dat) the properties or the function of a ship (acc). He confers, well, shipness on the materials. The shipness is sent by the shipwright, not because he is acting, but because he is the source: the image of the ship, so to say, comes from his head and materialises in wood, iron, ropes, and linen. In short, these words mostly appear with inner accusative.

Inner factive Inner nominative Inner accusative Inner dative
psràxk. "to froth" psrèxk. "one frothing something" psrỳxk. "a thing having the properties of froth = froth" psrìxk. "a frothed thing, a frothed liquid"
àksh. "to build a ship" èksh. "one building a ship, a shipwright" ỳksh. "a thing having the properties of a ship = a ship" ìksh. "building materials for a ship, materials made into a ship"
làw. "to make a lion" [lèw. "one making a lion"] lỳw. "a thing having the properties of a lion = a lion" [lìw. "building materials for a lion, materials made into a lion"]

Another very common kind of nouns are tool nouns, formed with an inner instrumental case:

  • ghstù. "a sail" is derived from ghstà. "to sail", literally "a means of sailing",
  • pslù. "scissors" from pslà. "to cut with scissors",
  • saxùf. "a trumpet" from saxàf. "to play the trumpet",
  • skrùzh. "a finger" from skràzh. "to work with one's fingers".

Inflection

As mentioned above, all words can inflect for (outer) case. Thus, we have the nominative forms wàxe "(an action of) speaking, talking, telling", e "a giver", lỳwe "a lion", the causative lỳwel "because of a lion", the elative lỳwer "(starting) from a lion", etc.

Lemizh words do not inflect for number or gender. If desired, we can express this information by forming compounds. (Note the duplication of the inner case vowel; the first occurrence in each word is called the epenthetic case of the compound. The underlying grammar will be described later.)

Neutral Singular Dual Plural Feminine Masculine Feminine singular etc.
giver dè. de. dedwè. demlè. de. deèx. deberè.
lion lỳw. lywrỳ. lywdwỳ. lywmlỳ. lywbỳ. lywỳx. lywbyrỳ.
compound with rỳ. "one" dwỳ. "two" mlỳ. "several" bỳ. "female; woman" ỳx. "male; man" "female" and "one"

Adjectives and numerals

There is no difference between adjectival and nominal verbs: they mostly appear with inner accusative. This is the same situation as in, say, Latin, where albus can mean "a white one" as well as "white". Numerals are basically a sub-category of adjectives.

The inner consecutive case translates certain abstract nouns.

Inner factive Inner nominative Inner accusative Inner dative Inner consecutive
làbdh. "to whiten something, to make something white" lèbdh. "one whitening something" lỳbdh. "a white thing; white" lìbdh. "a thing made white; whitened" lìlbdh. "the consequence of whitening = whiteness"
gmrà. "to warm, to make something warm" gmrè. "one warming something" gmrỳ. "a warm thing; warm" gmrì. "a warmed thing; warmed" gmrìl. "the consequence of warming = warmth"
dwà. "to make two things/individuals" dwè. "one making two things" dwỳ. "two (things)" dwì. "something made into two (things)" dwìl. "the consequence of making two things = twoness"

However, emotions aren't viewed as properties in Lemizh: a happy or angry person is one sending happiness or anger, just as a loving person is one sending love. The inner causative plays a notable role with verbs of emotion.

Inner factive Inner nominative Inner accusative Inner dative Inner causative
pthàb. "to be angry" pthèb. "an angry one; angry" pthỳb. "the content/object of one's anger" pthìb. "one that one's anger reaches" pthèlb. "one causing someone anger; one annoying someone"

Inflection

Of course, adjectives can be compounded to express number and/or gender in the same way as nouns. Furthermore, we can form compounds expressing various degrees. (The epenthetic consecutive -il- in these compounds will also be explained later; it is actually the main application of the abstract nouns just mentioned.)

Neutral Diminutive Augmentative Absolute Comparative Superlative
warm gmrỳ. gmrilzhrỳ. "lukewarm" gmrildmỳ. "hot" gmrilghngỳ. "absolutely hot" gmriltỳzhd. "warmer, hotter" gmrilỳst. "hottest"
white lỳbdh. lilbdhzhrỳ. "whitish" lilbdhdmỳ. "very white" lilbdhghngỳ. "absolutely/completely white" lilbdhtỳzhd. "whiter" lilbdhỳst. "whitest"
compound with zhrỳ. "few, little, a bit" dmỳ. "much, many" ghngỳ. "every, all, the whole" tỳzhd. "more" ỳst. "most"

Verbs

Most verbs correspond to Lemizh words with an inner factive. However, as Lemizh stems always denote an action, the notable exception are stative verbs such as:

  • zdìls. "to sit", literally "the consequence of sitting down (zdàs.)"
  • gwìlt. "to know", literally "the consequence of learning (gwàt.)"

Inflection

  • Person is not expressed with inflection but with pronouns.
  • Number is conveyed by compounding pronouns with numerals. While verbs (i.e. words with an inner factive) can be compounded with numerals, ftraskmlà. does not mean "we/they sneeze" but "(there are) several acts of sneezing" (i.e. someone sneezes several times and/or several people sneeze).
  • Voice (active/passive) is absent in Lemizh; word order serves a similar function.
  • Tense is expressed by compounds with an epenthetic temporal case (-arh-), or with certain inner cases. The latter option is preferred if possible, as it is more concise.
Neutral Present Past Perfect Future Intentional
to sit down zdàs. zdarhs. zdarhsprilkà. zdìls. (cons) zdarhsprà. zdòs. (ten)
compound with pronoun prilkỳ. "back" prỳ. "front"

Note that the translation of the perfect with inner consecutive coincides with the translation of stative verbs: "having sat down" in the strict perfect sense of "the consequence/effect of this action exists" means the same as "to sit". Likewise, "whiteness" can be expressed as the abstract concept of "having whitened something".

  • Mood corresponds to compounds with certain verbs for the most part. There is no equivalent to the subjunctive mood, as subordinate clauses are irreal (i.e. not necessarily real) by default. Here are some common formations:
Indicative Imperative Commanding imperative Interrogative
Polite imperative
Optative
to feed, to eat àdh. adhpràk. adhdàxt. adh. adhlàxt.
compound with pràk. "to request" dàxt. "to command" pà. "to ask" làxt. "to want"
  • Aspect is a very diverse category, expressed by a variety of compounds and syntactic structures in Lemizh.

Pronouns

The two demonstrative pronouns are technically nominal verbs:

  • tà. "to make this/that one", typically used with inner accusative: tỳ. "this/that (one)"
  • gwà. "to make someone/anyone, something/anything", with inner accusative gwỳ. "someone/anyone, something/anything"

The eleven relative pronouns play a far more prominent role in Lemizh grammar. Their scope is much wider than the one usually associated with the term. As they are closely tied to Lemizh syntax, they are described further down.

Syntax

Level of words

There is only one more grammatical category: the level of words, which is the main building block of Lemizh syntax. A word can be of first level (the highest), of second level (the next highest), of third level (still one level lower) and so on; there is no limit for the number of levels, but non-positive word levels (zero, −1, etc.) are forbidden.

The first word in a sentence (the main predicate) is of first level by definition. The level of the next word is determined by the main predicate's accent and by the type of pause between the two words, the level of the third word is determined by the accent of the second and the pause between these two, and so on.

Here is the complete list of pause/accent combinations.

Following pause Accented vowel Type of accent The level of the next word is …
in speech in writing
barely audible space inner case low lower by 1
high lower by 1, and agentive* (a)
outer case low equal
high higher by 1
a bit longer comma (·) inner case low higher by 2
high higher by 3
outer case low higher by 4
high higher by 5
the longest full stop () inner case low none; end of sentence

* The agent is the initiator of the action (more informally, the one who does the action).

The Rules

A schematic sentence with the words represented by their level numbers

The word levels determine the structure of a sentence.

Rule One of sentence grammar. A word of level n is subordinate to the nearest word of level n−1 in front of it; the parole acts as a word of level zero.

All words of second level are subordinate to the main predicate (which has first level). A word of third level is subordinate to the next second-level word in front of it, and so on. In other words, Lemizh sentences are strictly head-first. The main predicate itself is subordinate to the parole, the action of speaking (or writing) the sentence in question, which consequently has level zero.

Rule Two. An object of a word in a sentence is a word subordinate to the former, its predicate, plus all of its own objects.

In the diagram, the main predicate's three objects are enclosed in ellipses. Objects of the same word are called sibling objects or just siblings, and the word they are subordinate to is their predicate. Note that predicate and object are relative terms like parent and child.

The table of level markers implies that only the first object of a predicate can be marked as agent. (This has been interpreted as Lemizh having VSO word order, although a subject is not quite the same as an agent, and Lemizh grammar strictly speaking does not have the concept of a subject.)

Rule Three. The outer case of the first word of an object defines its relation to its predicate's stem via its descriptor; the outer case of a level 1 word is zero.

This is what we would expect from a language that inflects for case: the nominative object defines the source (sender) of the action named by the stem of its predicate, the accusative object its content, the temporal object its time, etc.

Examples

give-FACT-1

föpysryfè

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-2A

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-2

lusỳi.

Lucy-ACC-DAT-2.

dá föpysryfè dwywỳ lusỳi.

give-FACT-1 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-2A bottle-ACC-ACC-2 Lucy-ACC-DAT-2.

Father Christmas gives Lucy a bottle.

The stems of the three objects are nominal verbs ("to make a bottle" etc.), hence the inner accusatives. The outer cases indicate the sender, content and recipient of the action of giving, respectively. The agent is specified independently of the plot arrow; note the difference:

give-FACT-1

lusyì

Lucy-ACC-DAT-2A

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-2

föpysrỳfe.

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-2.

dá lusyì dwywỳ föpysrỳfe.

give-FACT-1 Lucy-ACC-DAT-2A bottle-ACC-ACC-2 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-2.

Lucy takes a bottle from Father Christmas.

We need not mark an object as agentive if we consider this information unimportant. The English translations are only rough approximations:

give-FACT-1

lusyì

Lucy-ACC-DAT-2

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-2

föpysrỳfe.

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-2.

dà lusyì dwywỳ föpysrỳfe.

give-FACT-1 Lucy-ACC-DAT-2 bottle-ACC-ACC-2 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-2.

Lucy gets a bottle from Father Christmas. Lucy is given a bottle by Father Christmas.

Rule Three defines outer case in a way that mirrors the definition of inner case. This allows for an operation called inversion (symbolized "⇔"):

làzhw

help-FACT-1

wèxi.

speak-NOM-DAT-2.

wáx

speak-FACT-1

lìzhwe.

help-DAT-NOM-2A.

làzhw wèxi. ⇔ wáx lìzhwe.

help-FACT-1 speak-NOM-DAT-2. ⇔ speak-FACT-1 help-DAT-NOM-2A.

[Someone] helps the speaker. ⇔ The one being helped speaks.

Both sentences claim that the sender of speaking is the recipient of helping. The equation is wèx. = lìzhw., the speaker = the one being helped.

Rule Four. An instance of a word stem designates a specific action.

in the above sentence does not just mean "to give", it refers to one specific action of giving. Such an action may involve several givers (as in "They give something") and need not even be temporally or spatially contiguous (as in "They are giving something every Christmas"). In other words, each spoken or written instance of the stem d– refers to a certain subset of all the giving there is.

This rule ensures that all the objects refer to the same action of giving as the predicate itself.

Rule Five. A case characterises the action it refers to completely with regard to its case descriptor.

For example, the nominative object "Father Christmas" has to name the complete sender of the above instance of giving. This excludes from this instance all giving not done by Father Christmas. So each object places a restriction on the action of giving the main predicate refers to. Thus, the subset of giving meant by this instance of dà. – what the sentence is ultimately talking about – is defined more and more precisely with each additional object. (The same is true not only of the main predicate but of all words in a sentence.)

Rule Six. A missing object is equivalent to the absence of information about its descriptor.

Above sentences do not have, for example, locative objects, so Rule Five cannot place a restriction on the place of giving. Because of Rule Six, this does not mean there are no restrictions on the location, but only that this kind of information has not been included in the sentence (for example, because the speaker does not know about it, considers it irrelevant, assumes that the listener already knows or – perhaps most importantly – that the listener can infer it). In fact, everything not useful for understanding a sentence should be omitted to save the listener processing effort. (See the inversion example above, which omits the nominative "someone".)

Rules Five and Six imply that every instance of a word has exactly one action (which, however, need not be contiguous), one sender (which can consist of several people), and so on: Five excludes additional senders if one nominative object is already present, and Six gives meaning to missing objects, establishing them as an integral part of Lemizh sentence grammar.

Rule Seven. Given an object and its predicate, the predicate is considered more real and the object more hypothetical.

as an object as a complete sentence
dà. to give; giving An action of giving exists = Someone gives something.
zdìls. the consequence of sitting down = to sit; sitting The consequence of sitting down exists = Someone sits.
dwìlw. the consequence of making a bottle The consequence of making a bottle exists = A bottle exists; there is a bottle.
sklè. one building a bridge One building a bridge exists = There is someone building a bridge.

Noun phrases

Forming noun phrases does not require any new grammatical rules. In the following example, the inner case of "give" is changed to the nominative, yielding "one giving something, a giver", and everything is pushed down one level. The third-level words are still sender, content and recipient of the action of giving, as outer cases define relations to the predicate's stem per Rule Three.

dmàt

see-FACT-1

tryxkì

beaver-ACC-DAT-2

dée

give-NOM-NOM-2

föpysryfè

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-3A

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-3

lusỳi.

Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

dmàt tryxkì dée föpysryfè dwywỳ lusỳi.

see-FACT-1 beaver-ACC-DAT-2 give-NOM-NOM-2 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-3A bottle-ACC-ACC-3 Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

The beaver sees the one giving Lucy a bottle, Father Christmas.

Regarding the verb "see", note that the beaver is in the dative, being at the receiving end of the optical stimulus or information. Marking the beaver as agent would translate as "The beaver looks at the one …".

Rules Four and Five guarantee that the giver is identical to Father Christmas: both are the sender of the same instance of the stem d– "give" (the giver via its inner nominative, Father Christmas via its outer nominative), and both are the complete sender of this action. This type of construction, where an object's outer case matches its predicate's inner case, is called a bracket. Brackets are very widely used:

Apposition Attributive adjective Attributive pronoun/determiner Attributive numeral Attributive participle

iakopỳk

Jacopo-ACC-1

saxèfy.

trumpet-NOM-ACC-2.

iakopỳk saxèfy.

Jacopo-ACC-1 trumpet-NOM-ACC-2.

Jacopo, a trumpeter

ghstù

sail-INS-1

lỳbdhu.

white-ACC-INS-2.

ghstù lỳbdhu.

sail-INS-1 white-ACC-INS-2.

a sail, a white thing = a white sail

ỳksh

ship-ACC-1

gwỳy.

some-ACC-ACC-2.

ỳksh gwỳy.

ship-ACC-1 some-ACC-ACC-2.

a ship, something = some ship

mỳs

mouse-ACC-1

trỳy.

three-ACC-ACC-2.

mỳs trỳy.

mouse-ACC-1 three-ACC-ACC-2.

mice, three individuals = three mice

nỳzd

bird-ACC-1

gangèy.

sing-NOM-ACC-2.

nỳzd gangèy.

bird-ACC-1 sing-NOM-ACC-2.

a bird, a singer = a singing bird

Such phrases can be easily extended. This example contains two accusative brackets ("a singing bird" and "a sad child"):

ngỳzd

bird-ACC-1

gangèy

sing-NOM-ACC-2

zhngỳi

child-ACC-DAT-3

speghý

sad-NOM-ACC-4

ytfỳarh.

night-ACC-TEMP-3.

ngỳzd gangèy zhngỳi speghý ytfỳarh.

bird-ACC-1 sing-NOM-ACC-2 child-ACC-DAT-3 sad-NOM-ACC-4 night-ACC-TEMP-3.

a bird singing to a sad child at night

Adverbially used adjectives are phrased with factive brackets. However, changing the predicate's inner case leaves the object's outer factive intact, losing the bracket.

gangà

sing-FACT-1

txỳska.

loud-ACC-FACT-2.

gangà txỳska.

sing-FACT-1 loud-ACC-FACT-2.

(an action of) singing, a loud thing = loud singing = singing loudly, to sing loudly

nỳzd

bird-ACC-1

gangèy

sing-NOM-ACC-2

txỳska.

loud-ACC-FACT-3.

nỳzd gangèy txỳska.

bird-ACC-1 sing-NOM-ACC-2 loud-ACC-FACT-3.

a bird, a loud singer = a bird singing loudly (The action of singing is a loud thing.)

As genitive constructions have a wide variety of meanings, there is no single Lemizh equivalent. The typical translation for constructions indicating possession is with the benefactive case, but other cases frequently occur. Everything depends on the object's relation to the predicate's stem per Rule Three.

dwỳw

bottle-ACC-1

lusỳü.

Lucy-ACC-BEN-2.

dwỳw lusỳü.

bottle-ACC-1 Lucy-ACC-BEN-2.

Lucy is the beneficiary of making the bottle.
The bottle is made for Lucy.
Lucy's bottle

give-ACC-1

ỳxe.

male-ACC-NOM-2A.

dý ỳxe.

give-ACC-1 male-ACC-NOM-2A.

The man is the sender of giving.
the man's gift

rhỳst

dream-ACC-1

ytfỳarh

night-ACC-TEMP-2

filpskỳy.

midsummer-ACC-ACC-3.

rhỳst ytfỳarh filpskỳy.

dream-ACC-1 night-ACC-TEMP-2 midsummer-ACC-ACC-3.

The midsummer night is the time of dreaming.
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Dependent clauses

Non-finite and conjunctional clauses employ the same principles as above:

láxt

want-FACT-1

föpysryfè

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-2A

dày

give-FACT-ACC-2

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-3

lusỳi.

Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

láxt föpysryfè dày dwywỳ lusỳi.

want-FACT-1 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-2A give-FACT-ACC-2 bottle-ACC-ACC-3 Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

Father Christmas wants to give Lucy a bottle. ("Father Christmas" is omitted from the dependent clause per Rule Six.)

The difference between English gerund clauses and finite that-clauses roughly translates into a difference between an inner factive (action) and an inner affirmative (fact).

dmàt

see-FACT-1

tryxkì

beaver-ACC-DAT-2

dáe

give-FACT-NOM-2

föpysryfè

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-3A

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-3

lusỳi.

Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

dmàt tryxkì dáe föpysryfè dwywỳ lusỳi.

see-FACT-1 beaver-ACC-DAT-2 give-FACT-NOM-2 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-3A bottle-ACC-ACC-3 Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

The beaver sees [the action of] Father Christmas giving Lucy a bottle. (The dependent clause could also be in the accusative to focus on the optical information transmitted to the beaver.)

dmàt

see-FACT-1

tryxkì

beaver-ACC-DAT-2

dále

give-AFF-NOM-2

föpysryfè

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-3A

dwywỳ

bottle-ACC-ACC-3

lusỳi.

Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

dmàt tryxkì dále föpysryfè dwywỳ lusỳi.

see-FACT-1 beaver-ACC-DAT-2 give-AFF-NOM-2 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-3A bottle-ACC-ACC-3 Lucy-ACC-DAT-3.

The beaver sees [the fact of] Father Christmas giving Lucy a bottle. The beaver sees that Father Christmas gives Lucy a bottle.

Some examples of dependent clauses translating into objects in various cases:

fngà

try-FACT-1

kshngày.

shout-FACT-ACC-2.

fngà kshngày.

try-FACT-1 shout-FACT-ACC-2.

[She] tried to shout [but this was difficult because of her sore throat].

fngà

try-FACT-1

kshngàu.

shout-FACT-INS-2.

fngà kshngàu.

try-FACT-1 shout-FACT-INS-2.

[She] tried shouting [as he hadn't heard her when she had spoken quietly]. (Shouting is the means of trying.)

pàf

stand-FACT-1

làxtöl

want-FACT-PSU-2

dmàty

see-FACT-ACC-3

föpysrỳfe.

Father Christmas-ACC-NOM-4.

pàf làxtöl dmàty föpysrỳfe.

stand-FACT-1 want-FACT-PSU-2 see-FACT-ACC-3 {Father Christmas}-ACC-NOM-4.

[He] stood up because [he] wanted to see Father Christmas.

Relative clauses are structurally identical to (extended) attributive participles as described above; they are brackets: a bird which sings to a sad child at night = a bird singing to a sad child at night. This is also true of clauses with relative adverbs:

ngỳw

valley-ACC-1

gangáry

sing-LOC-ACC-2

lỳbe.

flower-ACC-NOM-3A.

ngỳw gangáry lỳbe.

valley-ACC-1 sing-LOC-ACC-2 flower-ACC-NOM-3A.

a valley, a place of the singing of flowers = a valley where flowers sing

Adverbially used clauses, unsurprisingly, are factive brackets …

Predicative

Relative pronouns

Stems of relative pronouns (not to be confused with the pronouns of the same name in English or Latin) refer to actions by pointing to another stem or to a parole: they are anaphoric. Here is the full list:

Level Type I Type II
Verb The target is the stem of Verb The target is the stem of
n (does not occur because it would refer to itself) à. its preceding same-level word
n−1 wà. its predicate fà. its predicate's preceding same-level word or parole
n−2 dhà. its predicate's predicate thà. its predicate's predicate's preceding same-level word or parole
n−3 zà. its predicate's predicate's predicate sà.
n−4 zhà. shà.
n−5 ghà. xà.

They are highly versatile, corresponding to various structures in other languages. Recall that a sentence's parole has level zero:

Reflexive First person (singular) Second person

wáx

speak-FACT-1

wìe.

PIn−1-DAT-NOM-2A.

wáx wìe.

speak-FACT-1 PIn−1-DAT-NOM-2A.

The recipient of speaking is its sender.
to talk to oneself. He is talking to himself.

dráw

dance-FACT-1

dhèe.

PIn−2-NOM-NOM-2A.

dráw dhèe.

dance-FACT-1 PIn−2-NOM-NOM-2A.

The sender of the parole is the sender of dancing.
I am dancing.

dráw

dance-FACT-1

dhìe.

PIn−2-DAT-NOM-2A.

dráw dhìe.

dance-FACT-1 PIn−2-DAT-NOM-2A.

The recipient of the parole is the sender of dancing.
You are dancing.

Rule Four of sentence grammar ensures that the reflexive example means "He is talking to himself" as opposed to, say, "He is talking to one being talked to" (which would be wáx wìxe. speak-fact-1 speak-dat-nom-2a, with two different instances of the stem "speak").

Possessive determiner Vocative

zdìls

seat-CONS-1

ngỳzdy

bird-ACC-ACC-2

zeú

PIn−3-NOM-BEN-3

tỳar.

this-ACC-LOC-2.

zdìls ngỳzdy zeú tỳar.

seat-CONS-1 bird-ACC-ACC-2 PIn−3-NOM-BEN-3 this-ACC-LOC-2.

The sender of the parole is the beneficiary of making a bird.
My bird is sitting there.

wáx

speak-FACT-1

dheè

PIn−2-NOM-NOM-2A

zdhèzhi

friend-NOM-DAT-2

zìe.

PIn−3-DAT-NOM-3.

wáx dheè zdhèzhi zìe.

speak-FACT-1 PIn−2-NOM-NOM-2A friend-NOM-DAT-2 PIn−3-DAT-NOM-3.

The recipient of the parole is the friend. (nominative bracket)
Friend, I am talking to you.

The type II pronoun in the following example points to the stem of eating. With the inner accusative, the pronoun refers to the content of eating, which is the sweet. (As with brackets, Rules Four and Five guarantee that the pronoun refers to the same content of the same action of eating as mentioned in the first sentence.)

ádh

eat-FACT-1

dheì

PIn−2-NOM-DAT-2A

mlỳdhy.

sweet-ACC-ACC-2.

ràsh

like-FACT-1

fỳy.

PIIn−1-ACC-ACC-2.

ádh dheì mlỳdhy. ràsh fỳy.

eat-FACT-1 PIn−2-NOM-DAT-2A sweet-ACC-ACC-2. like-FACT-1 PIIn−1-ACC-ACC-2.

I am eating a sweet. [I] like it.

Derivational morphology

From a Lemizh point of view, dè. "giver" and dỳ. "gift" aren't derivatives of dà. "to give" but grammatical forms of the same word. The only piece of true derivational morphology is compounding.

Compounds

Forming a compound from a two-word sentence

Rule One of compounding. A compound word is constructed from a two-word sentence – predicate and object of which become modifier and head of the compound, respectively – in the following way:

  1. Prestem:
    1. the object's prestem
    2. the object's inner case
    3. the object's poststem
    4. an optional separator
    5. the predicate's prestem
  2. Inner case
  3. Poststem: the predicate's poststem
  4. Outer case

Note that the object's stem comes before the predicate's; and also that the object's outer case (and, less importantly, the predicate's inner case) is lost. The object's inner case becomes part of the compound's prestem and is then called its epenthetic case. The separator can be used, for example, if the word boundary would be unclear otherwise, or for placing the second part of the word on a new line.

làxt

want-FACT-1

àdhy.

eat-FACT-ACC-2.

adhlàxt.

eat-FACT-want-FACT-1.

làxt àdhy. ⇒ adhlàxt.

want-FACT-1 eat-FACT-ACC-2. ⇒ eat-FACT-want-FACT-1.

[She] wants to eat. (See the inflection of verbs.)

Here, the lost accusative ending has to be deduced from context.

Rule Two. In the relationship between the original predicate and object, the rules of sentence grammar are retained as far as applicable.

The consequences of this rule are somewhat technical; but the last one, pertaining to degree of reality, is important for correctly interpreting compounds.

  • Rules One to Three of sentence grammar are not applicable to compounds, as can be easily seen.
  • Four: Both modifier and head are instantiations of specific actions in the original sentence (which however do not necessarily match the instantiation of the compound).
  • Five: The epenthetic case characterises the head completely with regard to its descriptor.
  • Six: The only overt object of the modifier is the head. All other objects are missing and thus indicate the absence of information about their descriptors.
  • Seven: The modifier has a higher degree of reality than the head. Therefore, the above compound does not claim that she actually eats.

Rule Three. Regarding all outward relations, cases (i.e. the compound's inner case [not to be confused with its epenthetic case], the outer cases of its objects, and cases of pronouns referring to it) refer to the head.

adhkmàr

eat-FACT-allow-LOC-1

mlỳdhy.

sweet-ACC-ACC-2.

adhkmàr mlỳdhy.

eat-FACT-allow-LOC-1 sweet-ACC-ACC-2.

a place where one may eat sweets; a place for eating sweets

ngengadàxt

run-FACT-must-FACT-1

fỳta.

fast-ACC-FACT-1

ngengadàxt fỳta.

run-FACT-must-FACT-1 fast-ACC-FACT-1

[He] has to run fast.

These examples talk about the location of eating, as opposed to the location of allowing; about eating sweets, as opposed to allowing sweets; the running is fast, as opposed to the necessity; etc.

Number and gender of nouns are compounds from brackets which are first inverted to turn the more salient word into the compound's head: dè mlỳe. ⇔ mlỳ dèy. "several givers" ⇒ demlè. "givers". The inner nominative (-e-) becomes the epenthetic case, and the new inner case also has to be a nominative per Rule Three. demlỳ. (inner acc), by contrast, is "something given by several people".

Compounds expressing degrees of adjectives are also formed from brackets. They have an epenthetic consecutive (-il-), which stems from the corresponding abstract noun: gmrìl dmỳil. ⇔ dmỳ gmrìly. "much warmth" ⇒ gmrildmìl. "heat" (abstract noun formed with inner cons), gmrildmỳ. "hot" (adjective with inner acc).

The analogues of the present and future tenses are formed like so – note that inversion changes the pronoun's stem along with its level:

zdàs

seat-FACT-1

dhàarh.

PIn−2-FACT-TEMP-2.

PIn−1-FACT-1

zdàrhsa.

seat-TEMP-FACT-2.

zdarhswà.

seat-TEMP-PIn−1-FACT-1.

zdàs dhàarh. ⇔ wà zdàrhsa. ⇒ zdarhswà.

seat-FACT-1 PIn−2-FACT-TEMP-2. ⇔ PIn−1-FACT-1 seat-TEMP-FACT-2. ⇒ seat-TEMP-PIn−1-FACT-1.

[She] sits down at the time of the parole. ⇒ [She] sits down now.

zdàs

seat-FACT-1

prỳarh.

front-ACC-TEMP-2.

prỳ

front-ACC-1

zdàrhsy.

seat-TEMP-ACC-2.

zdarhsprà.

seat-TEMP-front-FACT-1.

zdàs prỳarh. ⇔ prỳ zdàrhsy. ⇒ zdarhsprà.

seat-FACT-1 front-ACC-TEMP-2. ⇔ front-ACC-1 seat-TEMP-ACC-2. ⇒ seat-TEMP-front-FACT-1.

[She] sits down at a time in front [of the parole]. ⇒ [She] will sit down.

Example text

Lemizh text sample.png

stedrỳzh thìrhfi xtrỳghy.

krỳgh dghngireì prilxpilghkỳarh. mangỳ srungbỳng lyngghỳng yngshwỳng fỳü. zhöazhghngìl tmỳil. ghngàgzh smìa prỳal ghngyé dhàbdhy lunguỳ ùyl mỳu fplyxár tỳarh. dmát feì sxngengzè ishkènge. ghìlt krighmyngthxì xtrỳngghi swyshỳ ghỳxy fplyxòr zhöyzhỳm xngàrorm. dmìlt öngkrỳngty zhryỳ rèshy esfàsy sxngyzdmýi, usrỳngy xazhgèsty ghngỳeng, frekrỳngfy rilghdzhỳwby pthèby, dgheipysrỳngdy psrèby rhèzhem, dghistngỳngty ghỳxy zangỳa dghildhfmlýyrh, ngiftngyghtmỳngy krültlìy zùe gỳghda. xtrỳgh swyshý stedrỳzh thìrfi. dngilszhrìl bdhyrgzhyngỳng xüxtrỳngyng prilkỳarh ötìlil skmyngìlng ghỳngsilng. dngilszhìlwb ráxpy thìlfi. fö̀l gwiltngìlöl dmàty föpysryfỳ ngỳu.

rỳ zhryỳrh thìzgy gwiltngìly rhàghgy dmatngìe thìrfy. là xángska matngiè ytfỳyrh dmyý fplyxór dyxtngyngà mànga prilzhryngỳr iltỳngzhdyr. dmàt ytfỳarh ryý mìlngorh xngyì prilkyár mìlngorh xtrỳngghi kshrextý mengthxì prỳar zìe, fplỳngxe fywýr déngske xtryghè sxngezì xngỳnge.

The Legend of the Seventh Planet

A long time ago there was a tribe of nomads. They possessed neither writing nor houses nor horses. But they were truly human. They were curious; this means, above all, that they took interest in the useless, for the celestial objects were of no use to them yet. They looked at the Sun and the Moon. They had named the constellations and the six planets moving across the sky like the humans across the earth. They knew dim Mercury, who liked to hide in the glare of the Sun; Venus, the brightest of all; reddish and angry Mars; majestic father Jupiter; Saturn, who seemed to stand still for weeks; and even Uranus had been caught by their keen eyes. Six planets, and the legend of a seventh. Maybe it had been the minor planet Vesta, or a comet centuries or millennia earlier. Maybe it was the attraction of the number seven. For Neptune is invisible to the naked eye.

One youngster thought to himself that he could not live without seeing the seventh planet. He lay awake searching the sky for many nights, neglected his duties, and became thinner and thinner. And one night, lying with the Earth behind his back, and with the looping planets and the stars above him, he saw the depth of the sky and the planets circling the Sun, and among them the Earth.

External links

  • Lemizh homepage with comprehensive coverage of the language, including a dictionary with etymologies, information on the language's pragmatics, and more background information

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