Even though I really enjoy writing stories (as well as some poems from time to time), I (almost) never write in my conlangs (I have done it with other’s though). I’d never really realised that contradiction (?) before I read a thread about con-literature in one of Facebook’s Conlang group, which made me want to write something new (instead of simple translations as I often do) in my own languages. I decided for Tengoko (/te’ŋo.ko/) to write it in since it is the conlang I feel most comfortable to use (with the exception of the conlangs based on my native Spanish). This poem/song was the result:

Poem in Tengoko (Kar script)

Tengoko song in old Kar characters (a heavily Chinese-influenced conscript constructed specially for Tengoko and its 'daughter languages')

Tengoko can be written in three different scripts:

Old Kar (image above): is a logographic-pictographic writing system. It works almost in the same way as Chinese (Hanzi) characters. Each character represents a syllable (most of which are morphemes on their own in Tengoko); some of which are pictograms (as the very last character which means ‘moon’), ideograms (as the last character of in the title (in red), which looks as an eye looking forward and means ‘future’ or ‘for’). On the other hand, some characters are complex; composed by two or more simpler ones. For example, the third character in the title, su which means song,  is made up from the character teng (to speak) and the character du (moon); the first one gives the reader a general idea of the meaning, while the second usually shares the same the same rhyme (du and su), but this is not always the case.

New Kar: It’s an evolution from Old Kar. It works exactly in the same way, but most characters are different due to a process of simplification (which also lead some pictographic characters to cease to be so obvious).

Tengoko Poem in New Kar characters

The same song in new Kar script. The text is written with a font I made which I'm afraid doesn't really capture the aesthetic I intended for it (closer to handwritten Kanji)

-Sibaz Runes:  In spite of their name, they bear no relation to real-world runes other than the shapes of some letters. Unlike Kar scripts which use hundreds of characters (one per syllable/morpheme), Sibaz are an alphabet. As such, it’s much more appropriate to write words whose meanings (or Kar characters!) are unknown and foreign words. However, boundaries between Tengoko syllables usually get blurred when written with Sibaz. It’s not uncommon for new-Kar texts to incorporate Sibaz runes so as to transliterate foreign names or to spell out words whose pronunciation may be unknown to some people. For example, if we wanted to write Babel’s seed in Tengoko (Baber e Arkenir, final L in Babel changes to R because Tengoko doesn’t distinguish between those sounds) would be written part in Sibaz (the foreign name Baber) and part in Kar (e arkenir):

Tengoko (Sibaz & Kar) Baber e arkenir - La semilla de Babel/Babel's Seed

Baber (Sibaz, black) e Arkenir (Kar, red)

Despite having such a number of scripts to choose from, most times I simply write it with the Latin alphabet (which could be regarded as a transliteration). Even though I recognize many Kar characters (I’m not able to recall them all, though) and can handle quite well with Sibaz; it’s still much easier to write and read with it (not to mention how difficult can be to write with your conscripts in a computer ;)). Here’s the transliterated text:

Kitengsuir zuer

Qazer keteng i reskoim wib zu
Yar zurita sahaqay rya bak du
Kir o ke zuer pazer tisezwi
Yar zet ke zumakir rekim sez yi

Yoqay kewi! Kewib! Kewib!
Zuer, zuer, zuer suay!
Kezet, kezet, kezet zuyoq!
Kewib, Kewib, kewib ti zu!
Zuer, zuer, zuer kesu!
Zuer, zuer, sa kitengsu!

Qazer keteng i reskoim wib zu.
Yar zurit bengusyay i bak mar du!

Now, I’ll make a phrase-by-phrase analysis of it I’ll employ again this five line format:
1-Text (transliterated)
2-IPA pronunciation
3-Word-by-word breakdown
4-Corresponding English glosses

Kiteŋsuir zuer (title)
/ki.teŋ.su’iɺ zu’eɺ/
kitengsu-ir | zu-er
kitengsu*-the | you-DAT
The Zuer Kitengsu (The Kitengsu ‘For you’)
Kitengsu are a (fictional) kind of songs  whose main characteristic is that each of its verses are repeated when sung. Particles usually behave as suffixes in Tengoko (although some must be placed before de noun they modify). The article the (-ir) and the dative (DAT, roughly equivalent to the English words for and to) are such examples.

Qazer keteng i reskoim wib zu
/ça’zeɺ kʰe’teŋ i ɺes.ko’im wiβ̞’zu/
qaz-er | ke-teng | i | res-ko-im | wib | zu
(s)-DAT | I-speak | that | every-time-in | love | you
I swear (lit: speak) to the gods that I will love you forever
In Tengoko the distinction between singular and plural is optional as number is often possible to guess from context (however, they can be indicated  as well). The word qaz could then be interpreted either as god  (qaznu)or gods (qaza). Given that the imaginary civilization which would speak Tengoko is polytheistic, it makes more sense to assume that gods was the meaning intended.would be  Verb’s subject and tense can also be dropped, for example the verb kewiber (I will love) is shortened to wib in this verb. The particle i (that) however, cannot be left out as it can be in English.

Yar zurita sahaqay rya bak du
/jaɺ zu’ɹi.ta sa.xa’ɣaj ɹja bak du/
yar | zu-rit-a | sa-haq-ay | rya | bak | du
because | your-eye-PL | it-shine-PRES | like | white | moon
Because your eyes shine like the white moon.
Here PL means plural and PRES means present tense. As well as being the pronouns for I and you, ke and zu can also be prefixed to nouns to denote possession (my and your respectively).

Kir o ke zuer pazer tisezwi
/kiɹ o’kʰe zu’eɺ pa’zeɺ ti’sez.zwi/
kir | o-ke | zu-er| paz-er | ti-sez-wi
heart | of-me | you-DAT | give-FUT | true-desire-with
I would willingly give my heart to you
Here, the possession is expressed differently. As well as prefixing ke and zu (valid for those pronouns only), we can express that an object A belongs to B by saying A o-B (roughly equivalent to English A of B but much less commonly used), B-e A (akin to B’s A; this is the most common way to express possession in Tengoko) or by using the genitive suffix -ar which literally means A. Thus, kekir, kir o ke, ke e kir and kir kear (or kear kir) mean exactly the same.

Yar zet ke zumakir rekim sez yi
/jaɺ zet̚’kʰe’kiɺ ɺe’kim sez’ji/
yar | zet ke | zu-mak-ir | rek-im | sez | yi
because | next_to me | your-face-the | always-in | want | be
Because I want your face to be always next to me
The word rekim actually is a shortened form of reskoim (in the 1st verse) and sez, which was used as a noun in the previous verse (desire), is used as a verb in this one (to want). It’s not uncommon for Tengoko words to behave in such manner, most words can be used either as nouns or verbs (with more or less related meanings)

Yoqay kewi! Kewib! Kewib!
/jo’ɣaj kʰe’wi ‖ kʰe’wiβ̞’ kʰe’wiβ̞’/
yoq-ay | ke-wi | ke-wib | ke-wib
(be)-IMP-PRES | I-with | my-love | my-love
Come with me (lit:Be with me), love of mine!
The first word is unusual (even for Tengoko) for being composed entirely of suffixes (the imperative patricle yoq, and the present-tense particle ay which empathizes that the action is willed to be done at the moment). In these cases, it can be assumed that the (omitted) verb is to be (so yoqay could be translated as “Be (with me) now!”). Once again, we come across a word which can be used both as noun and verb: wib which means either love or to love.

Zuer, zuer, zuer suay!
/zu’eɺ zu’eɺ zu’eɺ su’aj/
zu-er / su-ay
you-DAT / sing-PRES
For you! For you! I’m singing for you!

Kezet, kezet, kezet zuyoq!
kʰe’zet kʰe’zet kʰe’zet zu’joɣ/
ke-zet | zu-yoq
I-next_to | you-IMP
Next to me! Next to me! Be close to me!
Kezet means exactly the same as zet ke earlier in the text; most particles can be used in both ways. Although it makes little change in meaning if any, most particles are more likely to be used either at before the noun or suffixed to it. Zet for example is more often used before (zet ke is more common than kezet), while wi (with) is almost always used as a suffix (“wi ke” is almost non-existent when compared with “kewi“, even though the meanings of both are identical: with me). The verb is left out again in zuyoq which nonetheless includes the person prefix.

Kewib, kewib, kewib ti zu!
kʰe’wiβ̞’ kʰe’wiβ̞’ kʰe’wiβ̞’ ti’zu/
ke-wib | ke-wib | ti | zu
my-love | I-love | really | you
“My love, my love! I really love you!” or “I love, I love, I really love you!”
There is a word-play in this verse: the word ke-wib can be either interpreted as the noun love with a possessive prefix “my” or as the verb to love with a person suffix.

Zuer, zuer, zuer kesu!
zu’eɺ zu’eɺ zu’eɺ kʰe’su/
zu-er | ke-su
you-DAT | I-sing
For you! For you! I sing for you!

Zuer, zuer, sa kitengsu!
zu’eɺ zu’eɺŋ’su/
zu-er | sa | kitengsu
you-DAT | this | kitengsu
For you! For you! This kitengsu!
Apart from being the equivalent of the English pronoun it, sa also means this.

Qazer keteng i reskoim wib zu
/ça’zeɺ kʰe’teŋ i ɺes.ko’im wiβ̞’zu/
qaz-er | ke-teng | i | res-ko-im | wib | zu
god(s)-DAT | I-speak | that | every-time-in | love | you
I swear (lit: speak) to the gods that I will love you forever

Yar zurit bengusyay i bak mar du
/jaɺ zu’ɹit be.ŋus’jaj i bak maɺ du/
yar | zu-rit | beng-us | yay | i | bak | mar | du
because | your-eyes | beautiful-more | are | that (than) | white | round | moon
Because your eyes are more beautiful than the white full moon.
The verb to be (yi) fuses with the tense-suffixes os, ay and er (for past, present and future) to form yos, yay and yer respectively. While in English the moon is said to be full when it’s most visible, Tengoko call it a ’round moon’ (mar du). That’s by no way the only expression that changes, for example in Tengoko it’s not possible to say that somebody speaks in a language but somebody speaks with a language.

I’ll see you later! Widzu!


Posted on 2011/06/04, in English, Scripts, Tengoko (en). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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