A Little bit of Lisnäit – 5: Pronouns and affixes

For the last few weeks I’ve been working a lot in my latest conlangs That’s why I made so many posts about the Triband Language. But that doesn’t mean I abandoned my other conlangs nor that I forgot my ol’ good Lisnäit 🙂


Previously, I have already spoken about Lisnäit nouns and verbs. Now, the turn has come for both affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and pronouns (which often behave as suffixes in Lisnäit).

Unlike most Lisnäit words, which are based  in three-consonants-long roots, Lisnäit pronouns are made from roots which consists of a single consonant (except for hu which means <nobody>):

Root Pronoun

L

I

S

You (singular)

R

He/she/it, third person singular

N

Inclusive we

D

Exclusive we

W

You (plural, y’all)

T

They

HU

Nobody, no one, anybody.

M

Who? What? (interrogative pronoun)

P

Alternative third person pronoun

As seen above, some of those pronouns differ with the ones English-speakers are used to, so a number of explanations must be made.

To begin with, Lisnäit uses completely different pronouns for singular you and plural you (you all, you and other people). On the other hand, pronouns based in R (such as ‘ra‘) can mean either he, she or it as gender marking is completely optional in this conlang (I’ll explain how gender suffixes work near the end of the post).

There are two Lisnäit pronouns which may be translated as ‘we’: Na and Da. The difference between them lies on whether they include ‘you’: whereas the former means “we including you, you and I (and possibly other people)”, that is, ‘inclusive we‘, the later means “we, I and other people, but not you“, thus being exclusive we.

The so-called ‘alternative third-person pronoun’ P is a completely optional yet interesting feature of this language. It means exactly the same as pronouns base in the root R (the regular third person pronoun meaning he, she or it), but it’s only used when two such pronouns must be used for different people. This may be clarified by an example. Consider the following sentence:

Marco went to his house.

That sentence could be interpreted in two ways by an English speaker. Most-usually, we would assume that Marco went back to the place where he lives, his house. However, it could also mean that our friend went to the house of another person:

Peter: Have you heard anything about John?
Mary: Yes, Marco went to his house yesterday.

There, <his> clearly doesn’t mean Marco’s but John’s. This ambiguity is prevented in Lisnäit by using the P pronoun in the second time:

Amarko’ glayu wäseid-rou.
Marco went to his house (Marco’s).

Amarko’ glayu wäseid-pou.
Marco went to his house (John’s).

Pronouns follow the same declination patterns as nouns (you may read about them here). Inflected pronouns consists of the corresponding root followed by a vowel or diphthong (which marks the case).

Cases are applied exactly in the same way as in regular nouns. Thus, the word <I> would be when it’s the subject of a transitive verb, la when it’s the subject of an intransitive one, and words such as lou, le and lu would mean <my>, <to me> and <inside me>.

Lä wasru si.
I saw you.

Theoretically, every pronoun-case combination could be use, sometimes yielding rather strange results such as wei <(going) towards you (plural)> and rui <while he/she/it, during his/her/its turn, etc.>

Bäkano’ galay wei!
A bull is running towards you! (The kind of thing a Lisnäit would say during Spanish San Fermin festivals)

Räkna Awiktorya’ e’omup rui.
Queen Victoria was very beloved during her (reign).

As I said before, pronouns often behave as suffixes (which, unlike other suffixes, are always separated from the previous word by a dash). Particularly, possessive pronouns are often suffixed to the thing which is owned: wäsad-lou (my house), whereas a pronoun for either the object or the subject of a sentence may be suffixed to the verb: Wasru-si = ‘(I) saw you’.  It’s extremely uncommon for a verb to have suffixes for both the subject and the object: *Wasru-si-lä (I saw you).

It’s also common for pronouns to be dropped. So the phrase “I saw you” may be shortened to <Wasru> (‘saw’) as long as contexts make it clear.

Interrogative pronouns (those based in the root M) behave more or less like any other pronoun in Lisnäit, which is not the case in English and other European languages. Owing to this, I made the following table which lists all the possible forms of this pronoun alongside an English translation.

Word form Case English translation

ma

Intransitive ‘Who’ or ‘What’ (intransitive verb subject)

mau

Ablative ‘Who’ or ‘What’ (used with some particles and affixes)

Nominative ‘Who’ or ‘What’ (transitive verb subject)

mäi

Referential As for whom/what?

me

Dative To whom?

mei

Allative To where?

mo

Genitive Where (does it came) from?

mou

Possessive Whose?

mi

Acusative What? Who? (used when it is the object of the verb)

mia

Instrumental By means of using what?

mu

Locative Where?

mui

Temporal locative When?

So all the so-called question words or “WH words” are translated to Lisnäit using pronouns with the root M.

Other affixes

Lisnäit has a great variety of affixes, most of which are suffixes. However, prefixes are very important since some are widely used.

The most common prefixes consist of a bare vowel:

Prefix Use Used on

a

Indicates that the following word is a proper name. Proper names, loan words

ä

Means that. Its main use is to form adjectives. Nouns and verbs

e

Passive voice marker Verbs

i

The following word is used figuratively, as a metaphor. All kinds of words

o

Makes the imperative form of a verb. Verbs

u

Negative prefix, similar to English un-, in-, dis, etc. All kinds of words.

I’ve already spoken about some of those prefixes (ä, e and o) in the previous post, while the others haven’t been introduced yet.

The A- prefix is mandatory for all proper names. That’s why the name Marco in the example above was translated as Amarko’. Two further changes had to be done. First, the name must be converted to Lisnäit’s orthography which, for instance, always uses the letter K for /k/, so the C in Marco is changed to a K. Then, we must check that the name ends in consonant. All Lisnäit names must end with a consonant. If the name happened to end with a vowel, an extra consonant must be added, most commonly (a glottal stop).

The usage of the a- prefix prevents names from being confused with similar native words; compare the Spanish name Marta (which would become Amarta’) with the Lisnäit word for “kills”: marta (such a name as Amarta’ would be probably considered unlucky by Lisnäit speakers because of that resemblance).

This prefix also appears in the Lisnäit name for the language itself: Alisnäit.

I-, the ‘metaphorical prefix’ is one of the features I like the most about Lisnäit. It turns any word into a metaphor (I suppose literature teachers would love it!). Consider the sentence ‘Käran-lu sänwa-ohi” whose literal translation is “Since then, my heart is never-melting ice”. Such a phrase could be said to be quite meaningless as long as it wasn’t said by a snowman or a glacier! However, if we add the i- prefix to the word sänwa (never-melting ice, permafrost), every Lisnäit speaker would recognize it as a metaphor, thus interpreting the sentence ‘Käran-lu sänwa-ohi” as <Since that moment, my heart has been cold, sad, lonely and hopeless like the never-melting ice deep in a glacier>. Quite poetic, isn’t it?

Even though it’s customary to use i- for metaphors, it may be dropped, specially if there are many words with i- nearby. In fact, it would have been more accurate to use the prefix also on the word käran (heart) as it didn’t refer to the blood-pumping muscle but to the emotions.

This are some useful suffixes:

k: Causative suffix, it’s used to make verbs whose meaning is ‘to cause a thing‘ or to ‘force an event to be‘. Example: ‘olis ‘blue’ + k‘auliskï ‘paint blue’.

ts: Desiderative suffixe: the speaker wishes that something had happened or that something happens: Dïmanaub ‘lucky + oho “be-FUTURE” + tsDïmanaub-ohots ‘Good luck!’ (literally: I wish you are lucky!).

t y s: Mean ‘this‘ and ‘that‘ respectively: Wasdas = That house, ‘irest = For that flock/group of (flying) birds.

Lisna means ‘language’, so the word Lisnäit after all just means this language (quite unimaginative, I know).

b: With, along, in company of. Whereas the instrumental case means with as in ‘with a tool’ (by means of using a tool), the suffix -b means with as in with somebody.

It’s always added to words in the ablative case: Laub: with me.

i’ and o’ are (completely optional) gender suffixes: i’ is used for females whereas o’ is used for males. Unlike most other suffixes, i’ and o’ are placed before the last vowel of a word as long as that vowel  is not followed by a consonant:
CV + i’ → Ci’V
CVC + i’ → CVCi’

Examples:
Rou + i’Ri’ou (Her)
‘äsle + o’ → ‘äslo’e (for an old man)
but ‘äras + i’ becomes ‘ärasi’  (female bird) instead of  *‘äri’as.

H: It’s the Lisnäit equivalent of English ‘to be‘: äras-ha = (it) is a bird. It’s usually placed after nouns or adjectives as a suffix, but it’s also possible to use it as an independant verb.

Being just one letter long, it’s conjugation is a bit different than that of  the other verbs, usually being V1-h-V2 (where V1 and V2 are the vowels which mark aspect and tense in common verbs). When V1 is a, it may be dropped: ‘äras-aha = ‘äras-ha.

Ras äe äsokäit-lä  ohäi. Wasuirïts-wi!
That’s all so far! See you!

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Posted on 2011/10/01, in English, Lisnäit (en). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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