Category Archives: Lisnäit (en)
As I explained in a previous post, Lisnäit uses base-12 numbers. This affects many areas of the language, one of them being the way Lisnäit speakers divide days and years. Today, I’m explaining Lisnäit time units, which are a rather complex area.
The fundamental time unit is the day, called Sälna (plural säilna).However a day is consider to start when the sun rises, not at midnight (actually, it rather starts in a fixed hour in the morning, not at the actual sunrise).
Just like we do, Lisnäit speakers have weeks, but they are 12 days long. This groups of a dozen days are called yeselna (plural yeseilna). The first two days of a yeselna are free days (sort of a weekend), then there come 4 workdays, another free day and 5 more workdays. Of course, that’s the most usual arrangement, some people’s working schedules may be reorganized just as they are often modified in the real world. The duration of a Lisnäit month is variable, so weekly evaluations are more common than monthly evaluations.
With the exception of the first day (called sälnä’an), weekdays don’t have names. They are just referred as “second day” (sälna et) and so on.
Lisnäit’s is actually a lunisolar calendar: both moon and seasonal cycles are taken into account. A new month starts with the closest sälnä’an (the first day of a yeselna) to a night with a full moon. Should two sälnä’an be equally away from a full moon, the month would start with the last one. Because of this definition of a month, all months (and also all years) begin a new week (so there is no need for a calendar to know the weekday of a date), but the duration of a month can vary greatly, being either 2 yeseilna long (24 days) or 3 (36 days). The average duration of a month is roughly 2.5 yeseilna or 30 days (not unlike ours).
Years (called ‘äitayï, singular ‘ätayï) begin with the month whose first day is the closest to March equinox (when spring starts in the north hemisphere and autumn begins in the south). The duration of a year also varies, so a 365.25 days long tropic year (called i’ätayï) is often used for science, economy, astronomy, etc.
Not only a Lisnäit year may have a different amount of days, but also a different numbers of months. It can be either 12 or 13 months long. Unlike weekdays, months are named from the first to the last. Name etymologies are usually associated with Southern Hemisphere seasons.
- Lämna Nowi, young month (for being the first one). Near March.
- Lämna Rosnï, orange month (because of falling autumn leaves). Near April.
- Lämna Mämïräi, month of memory (there is a celebration where the past, ancestors and those who have passed away are commemorated during this month). Near May.
- Lämna Gälse, cold month (near (southern) winter). Approximately in June.
- Lämna Gäläis, ice month (winter). Near July.
- Lämna ʔäitäir, the month of the storms. Near August.
- Lämna Isäntäi, sunrise month (southern spring is coming, plants sprout again, which makes for a (metaphorical) sunrise). Near September.
- Lämna Kräinou, the month of passions (because of a celebration similar to St. Valentine’s day). Near October.
- Lämna Räisäil, flower month. October-November.
- Lämna Säläin, Sun’s month (because it is close to the southern Summer solstice). November-December.
- Lämna Fäinäir, fire-month (because of the bonfires of the December solstice celebrations). December-January.
- Lämna Kolïr, hot month (because of summer). January-February.
- Lämna Sonïm, additional month, leap month (because not all years have a 13th month). February-March
One of the best things about conlanging lies on the possibility of making words whose meaning can’t be mapped exactly to a single word in other languages. Today, I’ll talk to you about two such words I’ve got to like a lot.
Theng-thun noun sáāthengen /saː˧˥tʰeŋ˧en˧/ is one of my favorite words among all my conlangs. It refers to the unconscious changing of topic during a conversation. It’s something that happens to everyone. You start chatting with some friends about something and, after a while, you are no longer talking about it but about a seemingly unrelated! Furthermore, it’s hard to recall exactly how you ended up talking about that. That’s saāthengen about.
The word literally means something like “far-speaking” (sáā = far, theng = speak, en is a suffix for making abstract nouns), symbolizing how the speakers get farther and farther from the original topic.
This word could also be applied to the Wikipedia Effect which happens when you click on links on Wikipedia’s articles until you arrive to an article that doesn’t seem related at all with the initial one. But I should better not talk about this… I should focus on this post’s topic… so as not to fall into sáāthengan.
Lisnäit verb tïdauro is another interesting word. It means to try to do good things though with bad results. A good example would be when someone wants to help but ends up bothering (even though they don’t mean it). There are also a pair of related nouns: tïdära for these actions and tïdoramäna for the clumsy good-willed people who often do this. No one would be particularly happy on being called a tïdoramäna, but it’s neither an insult 😉
Käsal Alisnot P : Näitäis
/’kæsal alis’not ep ‘nai̯tai̯s/
A little bit of Lisnäit 7: Numbers
Wait! Why is there a P instead of a “7”? Well, you’ve just been introduced to one of the features of Lisnäit numbers: that they are often written with letters. But that is far from being the only interesting thing about them!
Different languages treat numbers differently, most of them group quantities in tens (10), hundreds (10²), thousands (10³) and so on, so they are said to employ base-10 number systems. According to WALS (World Atlas of Language Structures, an excellent resource to find out statistics about linguistic features), 75% of the 196 examined for such purposes relied on base-10 number systems.
So, that’s a really common treat among natural languages… it’s not surprising that many conlangers seeking for originality use other bases. Even Tolkien did so! I would dare to say that base-12 is the most common as far as conlangs are concerned (base-20 is more common for natural languages). English speakers are used to this kind of system at some extent because of dozens. Additionally, a group of 12 can be split in 6 different ways (1 group of 12, 2 groups of 6, 3 of 4, 4 of 3, 6 of 2 and 12 of 1) which is a real advantage when dealing with fractions. This Wikipedia article may come in handy if you’re not familiarized with other numerical bases.
Lisnäit’s numbers are also base-12 (also known as duodecimal). The number 87, for example, wouldn’t be represented as 8×10+7 but as 73 (from now on I’ll use red for base-12 numbers) which would be read as seven dozens and three 7×12+3=84+3=87. Such a number in Lisnäit is epyes.
When I wrote the posts about Lisnäit nouns and verbs, I explained how sïräisa words (those derived from triconsonantal roots) worked. However, there are more kinds of words whose inflection is a bit different. Today, I’ll speak about them, which are mainly compound and foreign words.
Many Lisnäit compound words simply consist of two words stacked one after the other. ‘ekusgauloyï, Lisnäit for ‘to swim’, is an example of this. It’s composed of ‘ekus (in the water) and gauloyï (go, move), so it’s meaning could be said to be ‘to move (oneself) in the water’.
The ‘head word’ (this is, the one with the main meaning) is always the last one:
‘ekus (in the water) + gauloyï (to move) → ‘ekusgauloyï (to swim)
gauloyï (to move) + ‘ekus (in the water) → *gauloyï’ekus (in the move-water)
Only the last part is inflected. The conjugation/declension pattern is the same as if it had been isolated:
‘ekusgauloyï =to swim
‘ekusgalay = swim/swims
sämrotärad = sand
sämrotäerod = from every kind of sand
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 🙂
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>):
|He/she/it, third person singular|
|You (plural, y’all)|
|Nobody, no one, anybody.|
|Who? What? (interrogative pronoun)|
|Alternative third person pronoun|
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.
In my previous post about Lisnäit, I mentioned that most nouns were made up from triconsonantal roots. The others are mostly compound words which I will explain in further posts.
Every Lisnäit root has three different stems with different though related meanings. These stems are distinguished by the pattern used for inserting vowels or diphthongs in the otherwise consonant-only root. Apart from indicating the stem, these vowels mark many important aspects of the word, such as whether it is a noun, a verb or an adjective, and grammatical information like number and case (nouns) or tense (verbs).
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 most conlangers do (I think), I often read things about various languages, both conlangs and natural languages. Sometimes, while reading, I come across some interesting feature which I’d like to use in a conlang of mine. Two years ago, I was diving in that sea of information we call Wikipedia when I arrived to an article which explained how Semitic languages as Arabic and Hebrew derived a great number of words from triconsonantal roots such as KTB ‘write’ in which vowels and further consonants are inserted so as to form words such as kataba (he wrote), naktubo (we will write) but also less expected words such as aktaba (he dictated) or maktab (office). Even though I had read about this word formation system before, I was very impressed and so I decided it was worth making a new conlang.
It was also influenced by two other conlangs: John Quijada’s Ithkuil which probably is the most complex and precise language ever spoken and Lojban (by the Logical Language Group) a conlang whose structure is so logical that it could be spoken by computers. My conlang, however, was not intended to be logical nor so precise, but rather an artlang, an artistic conlang. Lisnäit (/lis’nait/, the conlang) proved to sound much nicer than what I expected and ended up being one of my favourite conlangs.
The image on the left is the word Alisnäit (also the name of the conlang, I’ll explain why there’s an extra a in further posts) as written in the vertical version of Sikäitt /si’kai.tɨt/ Lisnäit’s native script.