Archeologists digging in my spare room have at long last reunited a lost notebook with its tattered first page, and I have rediscovered a language I had previously remembered only from a single surviving utterance.

In 1988, a 16-year-old highschool junior, I ran across the idea of polysynthetic, verb-based languages in the encyclopedia, if I recall correctly. What I remember from that point on is that I put together a few words, ran into difficulties in deriving various nouns from verbs in ways that *I* felt were "natural" and "not cheating", and gave the whole language up as impractical. What I did not remember is that I had worked on it sporadically for a few months, had 20 verb roots, 5 pronouns, 4 tenses, 3 noun class endings and 3 adverbs, and that I had used it in at least two letters to a friend! Also, I did not recall that my original inspiration had been Apache, a fact I would still be in the dark about had I not been reading old letters.

Awkwardly, however, I have the lexicon but not most of the utterances that went with it (probably scattered among my Chem and Trig notes), and one utterance found in my diary that has particles not found in the lexicon!

Anyway, presented for your enjoyment, here is "tanlenodelénadepéla", or "what we speak".


	Vowels appear to be a, e, i and o.  An acute accent is used
	on the first syllable of a root and the first syllable of 
	any suffix to the root, for disambiguity.

	Consonant inventory is  p b t d k l n z ', an amazing testament
	to my restraint in building my first ever conlang with an actual 

	Phonotactics are also ridiculously minimal: all syllables are
	[CV[n], very Japanese.


The verb paradigm

Extant examples order finite verbs thusly:



	ta	de	bélale
	3pS	AOR	be.beautiful
	it	is beautiful

	tan	le	ze	láne	déki
	3pS.ACC	1p.S	FUT	read	later
	it	I	will	read	later

The noun paradigm

The noun is ordered as follows:


Nouns referring to humans take a GENDER prefix, o- for male and e- for

Nouns may be the subject or the object of the verb phrase from which they
are built.  They may have just a SUBJ pronoun, just an OBJ pronoun, both,
or (apparently) neither, if the lexicon entry for "detélepéla", n. love,
is to be believed.

All surviving nouns in the lexicon and extant utterances use the aorist
"de" for their TAM particle.  If I were actively developing the language
now, I would permit other TAM particles here, and create the appropriate

The V is the verb root that forms the nucleus of the noun.  One
extant example adds a second "TAM.V" after the first one, with an
implicit "and".  I am not sure I approve of this.

The CLASS suffix is one of: zána, a singular person or object; zéta,
plural persons or objects; or péla, a mass noun.  If I were actively
developing the language, I would add a separate class of abstract
nouns, reserving péla for words like tadezólepéla, water, and using
the abstract class for words like "love", above.

Nouns having the ACCUSATIVE suffix, in a departure from normal head-marking 
practice, agree with the accusative pronoun in the clause's main verb.


	ta	de	zóle	péla
	3pS	AOR	flow	mass
	flowing substance

	tan	de	kíne	de	láne	zána	n
	3pS.ACC	AOR	write	AOR	read	sing	ACC
	written and read thing (accusative)
	letter (accusative)

Problem particles

The following lexical entries are problematic:

	la-	on
	di-	at
	ni-	to
	-'i	when

There are no extant utterances using the above prepositions and adverb, 
and since the paradigms were never laid out except in examples, the 
position of these prefixes in (presumably) the noun complex is unclear.  
If I had to guess, I'd imagine they came in first (outermost) place.

	dona-	"have changed, have done in the meantime"

This appears to be an expanded form of do- "past tense", and I assume
I meant it to reflect the English present perfect tense.  If I had it
to do over again I would stay far away from relexing the English tense

	-ni	not glossed, probably means "if" or "that"

This is found only as a suffix to a verb in an untranslated utterance, 
and appears to nominalize or subordinate the verb, as it is followed
by a finite main verb in the example.

The Pronouns

A word about my methods back then is probably in order here.  In my
early conlanging, I was a strict JIT conlanger: coin no word (or particle)
before its use!  (Amusingly, this allows me to reconstruct with some 
confidence some of the missing utterances, just by looking at what order
I added roots and particles to the list.)  During the time that I was 
adding to this lexicon, I found a use for first person singular, third 
persons plural and singular, and second persons plural and singular.  
No first person plural is recorded.  (In coining the name of the language 
tonight, I shoved first and second persons singular in there as an 
impromptu inclusive "we" to cover this defect.)

Pronouns as we have them:

	Sing.	Plur.
1st	le
2nd	no	po
3rd	ta	ki

Pronouns take the accusative suffix "n" to become object pronouns.

Tense, Aspect and Mood

The following TAM particles are recorded:

	de-	aorist (habitual or characteristic action)
	pi-	present continuous
	ne-	imperative
	do-	past tense
	dona-	present perfect
	'o-	obligative mood, unless I misread the shorthand for "should"
	li-	abilitative mood (is this the right term for "can"?)
	ze-	future tense
	bo- or debo-	not glossed; might mean "would"

Clearly, had I continued I would have populated this space with every
TAM combination known to English (and no others :)


Three adverbs are listed: déni "much", 'íki "not", and déki "later".

Verb roots

The meat of the lexicon.  The following verb roots are attested:

	zóle	to flow
	bélale	to be beautiful
	télile	to sparkle on something
	lóbe	to freeze? (writing unclear)
	líle	to make a babbling sound, as a brook
	kíne	to write
	lénade	to speak
	tóbe	to harrass, bully
	kánite	to hate
	téle	to love
	kónade	to touch
	láde	to ramble on (speaking)
	lótene	to come
	lípe	to look
	péline	to grow
	bílake	to miss (as in miss someone)
	pílibe	"a bad word" (I needed a rude verb, didn't care what it meant)
	láne	to read
	délole	to see
	lóne	to wait
	kálete	to like? (not glossed)

Derived nouns

Extant examples of nouns derived from verb roots:

	kidetóbezéta	bullies
	Otadelénadezána	"Speaker" (a name)
	tadezólepéla	water
	Etadekínezána	"Writer" (my name)
	nontadetélezána	your friend (literally, "one who loves you")
	detélepéla	love
	Etandebílakezána	"She who is missed" (a name)
	tandekínedelánezána	a letter
And that's it. A lot more than I ever realized I had, a lot less than would be needed to speak it. No interrogative mood, no comparatives, no possession or adjectives (the latter not strictly necessary, but usually at least a small closed class exists!), no numbers. But at last I have it typed in!

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Last updated: 7/13/2007