A little bit of Lisnäit – 2
There are three kinds of Lisnäit words:
- The ones which are derived from one of Lisnäit’s triconsonantal (consisting of three consonants,just like Semitic) roots. This kind of words are called sïräsa (/sɨ’ɾæ.sa/ plural sïräisa) in Lisnäit. Because the word sïräsa itself is derived from a Lisnäit root (S-R-S, the one shown in the picture above), it’s also “sïräsa“.
- “Short words”, words not derived from any (triconsonantal) root. This group includes particles, prepositions, suffixes, numbers and pronouns.
- Compound words, which may incorporate both short words and sïräsa.
Most Lisnäit nouns, many adjectives and nearly all verbs belong to the first group, they are derived from Lisnäit’s roots, so it’s easy to see how important they are. In this ‘chapter’, many aspects of them will be presented.
As said before, most Lisnäit words are derived from (or at least incorporate) roots, which are called särsa (/’sæɾ.sa/, comes from the same root as sïräsa) and consist of three consonants in a given order (S-T-R, S-R-T, R-S-T and R-T-S, for example, are all distinct, meaning star, fast,throw and texture respectively).
Each root has a general meaning as well as three (generally) more specific meanings for each stem (this concept is going to be explained later). For example, the root S-R-T means ‘star’ and its 3 stems mean ‘star’ (stem I), ‘celestial body’ (stem II, more precisely ‘any kind of shining celestial object (with the possibly exception of the moon and the sun’) and ‘star shaped’ (stem III).
Every Lisnäit root has three stems which are, basically, word patterns with a given meaning. Stems are distinguished by the way vowels are added between the consonants of the root.
It’s usually the most representative of the root (so it’s not surprising that roots will often have the same gloss as some Stem-1 word). In Stem-I words, vowels are inserted between the consonants, resulting in a CVCVC structure (where C is a consonant and V is a vowel):
LSN ‘Communication’ → Lauson ‘To communicate, to express oneself’
SRS ‘Linguistic root’ → Säras ‘Lisnäit’s root’
SRT ‘Star’ → Äsäerot ‘Stellar’ (incorporates prefix)
Due to Lisnäit’s phonology constraints, an ï /ɨ/ must be added if the word ends in Y or W: MRW ‘Rain’ → Moräiwï ‘It stopped to rain’
Stem-II words have CVCCV structure:
LSN ‘ Communication’ → Lisna ‘Language’ (the meaning of LSN stem-II is ‘verbal communication’)
SRS: ‘Linguistic root’ → Säirsa ‘Lisnäit root’s stems’
SRT ‘Star’ → Serta ‘A group of celestial bodies’ (you would say that Trojan asteroids are a serta)
Sometimes, an ï will have to be added so as to break some hard consonant clusters. For example, as MF could be mispronounced as ‘NF’ too easily, the Stem-II noun derived from RMF is Rämïfa and not *ramfa.
The structure of stem-III words is CCVCV:
LSN ‘Communication’ → Lïsäna ‘Gesture’ (LSN third stem means ‘non-verbal communication’)
SRS ‘Linguistic root’ → Sïräsa ‘A word derived from a triconsonantal root’
SRT ‘Star’ → Sïrotï ‘Star-shaped’
Given that many initial consonant clusters don’t fit Lisnäit sound patterns, an ï will be added so as to break them, as seen in the three previous words. While roots which take ï in the other stems are a minority, most do for stem-III. Stäna ‘city’ is an example of a word with no ï. When prefixes are added, the ï may be rendered unnecessary and be dropped, for example while rïhä’a ‘lifeforce’ takes an ï, urhä’aub ‘with no lifeforce’ (which i also derived from the third stem of RH’) doesn’t.
The exact meaning of a word does not only depend on its root and stem but also about its vowels which indicate, among other things, whether the word is a verb, a noun, an adjective, etc.
Lisnäit roots weren’t invented arbitrarily but following a similar process to that of Lojban gismu (to which Lisnäit’s roots are sort of an equivalent). These kind of Lojban words draw influences from many of Earth’s most widely spoken languages such as Spanish, English, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Arabic. For example, Lojban bruna comes from Chinese xiong (which is ciun when adapted to Lojban orthography), and bradr, brat and brata (from English (brother), Russian and Hindi).
Most Lisnäit roots were chosen similarly. First, I adapt the corresponding word in each of Lisnäit’s base languages which are Lojban, Arabic (both as a tribute to their influences to this conlang), English, Romance languages (because I’m familiar with them) Tolkien’s Quenya, Turkish and Greek (because I like their sound):
Lojban: ciska → siska → SSK
Arabic: katab → KTB
Romance languages: scribire → skribire → SKRBR
English: write → wrait → WRT
Quenya: tec → tek → TK
Turkish: yazmak → yasmak → YSMK
Greek: grapho → grafo → GRF
Then, the three most frequent consonants are chosen: S (4), K (4) and T (3). R also appears three times, but T is preferred because two of the words with T lack the other two consonants. Then, the order is decided:
SK 3 (ciska, scribire and yazmak) vs KS 0 → SK
ST 0 vs TS 0 → No preferences
KT 1 (katab) vs TK 1 (tec) → KT because Arabic lies higher in the list than Quenya
So, the resulting root is SKT: Write (which is also the root of Sikäitt, the name of Lisnäit’s script).
While most roots were formed in this way, there are some exceptions. For example the root SRS (linguistic root) was just taken from Semitic root ŜRŜ.
I’ll write about Lisnäit nouns next time. See you!