A little bit of Lisnäit – 4: Verbs and adjectives

Julius Caesar's 'Vini,vidi, vici' (I came, I saw, I conquered) rendered in Lisnäit. Vertical Sikäitt (the alphabet) is read in columns from right to left.

In my previous post about Lisnäit, I explained how most nouns worked. Now, I’ll be speaking about verbs, which work in a very similar way (so it’s worth reading the last article). Apart from that, I’ll also explain the basics about Lisnäit adjectives; most of which often behave as subclass of verbs.

Once again, the meaning of a word is given by its root and its stem (for example, while glayu and nïsaru are Stem-III (CCVCV pattern), wasur has a CVCVC pattern and is, thus, a word derived from a first stem). Whereas the pair of vowels (or diphthongs!) which are inserted into the root determined number and case for nouns; they determine other grammatical information such as aspect and tense for verbs.

The first vowel indicates the aspect (if I wanted to be more accurate, I should say that both vowels mark aspect and time).

Vowel

‘Aspect’

Explanation

a

Eventual

A ‘punctual’ , momentary action.

au

Periodic

A ‘punctual’ action happens repeatedly

o

Continuous

The state or action happens during a period of time

ou

Interrupted

The state is true for a series of periods of time

u

Initial

The state or action has happened since the beginning

ui

Final

The action/state is true since a moment X for undefined period of time

ao

Gnomic

The state is always true, the action is always happening

So as to clarify the meaning of some of those ‘aspects’, I made the following timelines:

Timelines for Lisnäit aspects. Red marks the actions/states. As these are aspectual marks, no point of reference (such as 'present') is provided.

In addition to marking this, the first vowel also aids to tell whether a word is a noun or a verb (verbs can only have those vowel groups as first vowel).

Note: When I say first vowel I am always referring to the first vowel which is inserted in the root. Vocalic prefixes may be added to verbs, so the vowel which I call the first vowel may actually be the second or the third in the word.

Those 7 aspects combine with 12 ‘tenses’ resulting in 84 wordforms for affix-less verbs.

Vowel

‘Tense’

Explanation

a

Present

The action/state occurs at the moment

au

Unknown

The time when the event took place is omited or unknown

ä

From-Present

The state is true since this moment

äi

Prior-Present

The state was true until the present

e

From-Future

The state will be true since a given point in the future

ei

Prior-Future

The state will be true until a given point in the future

i

From-Past

The state/action has been true since a given point in the past

ia

Prior-Past

The state/action was true until a given point in the past

o

Future

The action/state will happen in the future

ou

Uncertain-Fut

The action will eventually happen some day in the future

u

Past

The action/state happened in the past

ui

Unc.-Past

The action happened in an uncertain point in the past

Unlike aspects, tenses need a reference point: the present, marked in green in the timelines below:

The potential combination of aspects and times can lead to words with highly precise meanings. For example, some time ago, I used the word moräiwï which I translated as ‘It has stopped raining’.

This word comes from the root M-R-W ‘rain’. As it has a CVCVC structure, it’s derived from the first stem which means ‘rain’ or ‘pour’ as a noun and ‘to rain’ as a verb. As it’s first vowel is o, we can tell that it is a verb. This o also marks ‘continuous aspect’: the action (raining) happened not at a single moment but during a period. Then, the second vowel ai indicates that the action was taking place until the present: That, even though it had been raining, it isn’t raining now: it stopped raining.

Lisnäit verbs are usually indexed into wordlists and dictionarys with au as first vowel and  o as second vowel. So, if you looked in a dictionary for the words ‘to rain’, ‘to come’, ‘to see’ and ‘to conquer’, they would appear as maurowï, glauyo, wausor y nïsauro. It doesn’t have an actual meaning, it’s just a convention.

Affixes

Lisnäit verbs are often added prefixes and/or suffixes with various grammatical functions. These are the two most important prefixes:

  • E- forms the passive voice. It turns a transitive verb into an intransitive one, compare wausor ‘to see’ with  ewausor ‘to be seen’.
  • O- forms the imperative mood, which is used for orders: Owasar! = ‘See!’.

These prefixes can be used at the same time Oewasar ‘Be seen!’ or ‘Show yourself!’.

Suffixes are often added so as to mark the subject, direct object and/or indirect object of the verb. They are optional, since they can often be guessed from the context. I’ll explain more about the pronouns (both independent and as suffixes) in the next little bit of Lisnäit.

Adjectives

It is possible to split Lisnäit adjectives into two big groups: Ä-class adjectives which are derived from other words and O-class adjectives which could be regarded as a special kind of verbs.

The former are formed by adding the suffix Ä-that‘ to word (which can be either a verb or a (often inflected) noun). Examples:

kïtälu (in a prison) → äktälu (emprisoned, ‘that is inside a prison’)
u wasar (doesn’t see) → ä’uwasar (blind, ‘that doesn’t sees’).

The latter class is formed as regular verbs with o as first vowel and no second vowel, with an ï placed instead.This ï helps to tell stem I and stem II adjectives apart, and is often dropped in stem II and stem III words.

For instance, let’s consider the root R-M-N which means ‘Human being, person’, and the three O-class adjectives which can be derived from it: human, adult and humanoid/humanlike:

Stem I: romïn /’ro.mɨn/ “human”.
Stem II: romnï /’rom.nɨ/ or /romn/ “adult”
Stem III: rïmonï /rɨ’mo.nɨ/ or, much more often, /rɨ’mon/ “humanoid or humanlike”

Lisnäit adjectives have only one form, so they don’t have to match their nouns’ gender, number or case. They are most-commonly placed after the noun they modify, but it’s possible to place O-class adjectives before the nouns as long as this doesn’t lead to missinterpretations.

Till next post! See you!

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Posted on 2011/09/04, in English, Lisnäit (en). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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