Virtual Verduria

Lé (Létɔ̂ŋ)



CompoundsNominal derivationsAdjectival derivationsVerbal derivations
PronounsPersonal pronounsHonorificsOmitting pronouns
The noun phraseDemonstrativesQuantifiers Numbers
Basic sentence structureOther case markersThe mô construction
The time slotTime cliticsIndefinite time pronounsTime NPsTime clauses
The place slotPlace cliticsPlace expressionsPostpositionsPlace clauses
QuestionsYes-no questionsOther interrogatives
Adjectives and modalsVerbal modifiersModal adjectivesIf clausesComparatives
Semantic fieldsGreetings and closingsOther polite expressionsPragmatic markersThe dayLarger time periodsFamilyNamesDespectivesDivinitiesMeasurements

ExamplesA mother’s wedding prayer for her sonOn fighting menSeeking enlightenmentThe quotable Nyekhen



, or more properly Létɔ̂ŋ, is the language of Belesao. The country is actually composed of three Beic ethnicities: the Nér in the east, the Lé along the coast, and the Pàn to their south, upriver. Even this picture is too neat; every large city is really the focus of a dialect, and these can quite successfully resist the three standards.

These are only some of the Beic languages, which extend from Pahsau in the west, through Łeisau, Hàɔráŋ and Mâɔráŋ, then Belesao, to ânhɛ̀ and Mɔłɔsou in the east. (In these words we see several cognates of the Lé word sàɔ‘country’.)

The largest Lé city is Jansɛ̀, the capital; but it’s only been the capital for four hundred years. Before then the center of power was a succession of cities, trending historically northward along the Lɛn. The earliest Bé civilization actually began in the Pàn area, in the city of Héjùs. Each of the successive capitals had an influence on the Lé language; besides Jansɛ̀ the most important dialect is that of the previous capital Kêkè. Some have described literary Létɔ̂ŋ as the language of Kêkè spoken with a Jansene accent. This may be accurate as regards literature per se, but the vocabulary of administration and commerce is largely Jansene.

The language described in this sketch is the written standard, which is also used as a lingua franca for government, commerce, and science.

The study of the dialects, and indeed the Beic languages, is impeded by the writing system, which was first devised in the 1800s under the Men’s Empire, adapted from the syllabographic Uyseʔ script. The glyphs were borrowed both phonetically and semantically, and the writing system does a fairly poor job of representing Lé phonology. This is an advantage to the Bé, since the system can be shared (with a huge caveat, below) by all Beic languages, but it’s an annoyance for the foreign linguist. Only Kebreni and Verdurian sources (supplemented by some vague Lé descriptions, and some evidence from rhymes) allow us to give the standard Jansene readings of the glyphs. In some cases we know readings in other dialects or languages and can guess at some of the sound changes, but this doesn’t extend to tone.

The major caveat is that each major Beic nation has created its own version of the glyphs, and over the centuries these have drifted apart far enough that one nation can’t read another’s language without training. (The Minče nation of Rimasača has created yet another variant, this one a syllabary.) This is in line with Beic cultural norms, which recognize a common cultural heritage but do not exclude strong national identities. By contrast the Uyseʔic peoples have much more of a feeling that they are a single ethnicity divided into multiple political units (with the corollary that the recognized center of culture is Uytai).

The glyphs at left are read, right to left, Létɔ̂ŋ. The Lé writing system is an adaptation of Uyseʔ logographs. was borrowed phonetically, from the word leʔ‘beetle’; the glyph is a stylized representation of a beetle. Tɔ̂ŋ was borrowed semantically, from the word seʔ ‘speech’; the moustache-looking grapheme below it is a diacritic, a picture of a tooth, that indicates that the word begins with t (without it the glyph is used for the word se, a subordinator).

For comparison, the same glyphs are given at right in Uyseʔ form; these are pronounced Leyseʔ.



labial dental alveolar velar glottal
stops p
affricates č
fricatives s h
liquids l
nasals m n ŋ
There’s no g; it’s likely that h derives from an earlier *g.

Lé has early voice-onset time— b and d are strongly voiced, as in French.

Make sure your dentals are really dental, not alveolar as in English. However, č and j have their point of articulation farther back, very much like the English sounds.

A telltale of lower-class Jansene speech is [x] for h. In compensation the upper class pronounces their h’s lightly and may even drop them. Upriver it’s a simple [h].

ł is an affricate lateral— i.e. start with the tongue held for [t] and release into a lateral [l] rather than a fricative [š] as in č. The standard language distinguishes [ł] and [tl]— the former is more explosive— but some dialects merge them. If tl is intervocalic, the syllable division is between the consonants.

In Jansɛ̀, r is retroflex, rather like American r; upriver it’s an approximant, more like British r. Don’t pronounce it as a tap. Make sure you distinguish e and ɛ (and also o and ɔ) before an r.


front mid back
high     i u
mid-high e o
mid-low ɛ ɔ
low a
English speakers should be careful not to lax their ɛ or u, nor to diphthongize e or o, while those who suffer from the cot/caught merger should clearly distinguish ɔ and a.

Unstressed, low tone final -e, as in the clitics re and je, is often laxed, but to [ɪ] not [ɛ].

Especially in Jansɛ̀, there’s a tendency to nasalize vowels before n or ŋ: Pàn [pãn52]. This may even contaminate later vowels in the word; Jansɛ̀ itself is often pronounced [dʒã22 sɛ̃52].

In words ending in -r the vowel + r acts as a diphthong— there’s a smooth transition from the vowel to the r.


There are five tones, transliterated a á à â ǎ; the base contours in Jansɛ̀ are 22 24 52 453 213. These vary spectacularly by region even within Lé.

(If you’re new to tones, these specifications are a five-point scale, from 1 = low to 5 = high; 3 is the pitch of your natural speaking voice. Click the diagram to hear the tones.)

These are modified by tone sandhi, which applies across word boundaries but not breath groups:

áá = 24 34
àà = 52 32
ââ = 453 44
ǎǎ= 213 22
First tone is modified after certain of the other tones; this is particularly noticeable with clitics, which are always first tone.
aa= 22 33
áa = 24 22
àa = 52 33
âa = 453 44
ǎa = 21 44
In addition, the first syllable in an utterance is likely to be higher by a step (e.g. á = 35)— except for commands and dispreferrred responses, where it will be lower (á = 13).

Tone is relative to a speaker’s usual pitch, of course, and to the overall intonation of the sentence, which tends to fall for statements, rise for questions.

Low pitch seems to be associated with an attitude of superiority. Overall, women, especially those in authority, tend to cultivate a low voice, while men speak above their natural pitch. Women speaking to men are observed to speak lower yet, and men speaking to women raise their pitch— a very chastened male will speak in a falsetto. (All these behaviors tend to disturb visitors from Eretald.)

Another sound sample:

ís łɛ́ŋ tlu Kɛbrì na dɔ̀n jɔhù hibo re kle.
If you love Kebri so much, you should marry it.


A syllable has the form
(C)(r, l)V(V(r), ŋ, n, s).
(r, l) can only occur after stops, with the exception that sl- is allowed. (It’s been theorized that ł derives from earlier *hl, and even earlier *gl.)

The only allowed diphthongs are and ae. As indicated, the offglides are lowered compared to our [au] and [ai]. (This is a characteristic feature of Lé and Pàn as opposed to the other Beic languages; compare the words Maume, Mɔłɔsɔu.)

In the few cases where consonants appear twice in a row (e.g. ŋánnèn), they must be pronounced doubled.


As Lé is isolating, stress is not so much a property of words but of breath groups. There is a tendency to stress and draw out the last word in a breath group— excluding clitics. Thus Bélésààɔ‘Belesao’, Bélésààɔ‘in Belesao’. (“Stress“ here means increase in volume, not pitch.)

Due to the structure of Lé, breath groups often correspond to constituents and end in a clitic. For instance:

Insòŋ čus | pràɔ krɔ | krǎl čor łu.
archer shoot | arrow INSTR | practice PURP PAST
The archer shot the arrow for practice.


There is no inflectional morphology at all, but compounds can be formed. Here are some of the common patterns.

Nominal derivations

Verbs may be used as nouns (if you like, nominalization via the null morpheme), especially for abstractions:
tǎn know; knowledge
like; enjoyment
An associated object or substance is often formed by adding a classificatory root:
urinate +‘water’ → sìłǎ urine
jîr ask +‘word’ → jîrdǐŋ question
nîn produce +‘goods’ → nînhé produce, production
rɛ̀ fight +‘season’ → rɛ̀sčìŋ war
In some cases the name of a plant has been turned into an adjective, and this process used to rename the plant:
trǒ sourfruit → sour; +‘fruit’ → trǒnɔ̌ sourfruit
joŋ sugarcane → sweet; +‘reed’ → joŋhì sugarcane
in - member of, person who (prefix):
łó study → inłó student
jǔŋ gang → injǔŋ gangster
sòŋké bow women in army → insòŋ archer
tló - boss, chief:
rǎe administer → rǎetló administrator
sɛ̀ city → sɛ̀tló mayor
- inhabitant (female or unmarked):
Jansɛ̀lɔ woman from Jansɛ̀
Kɛbrìlɔ Kebreni woman
Kúŋlɔ Uytainese woman
Don’t add to Bé ethnic names:
‘a Lé woman’
- male partner or consort; male animal; male inhabitant
Létɛ male Lé
háɔ elder → háɔtɛ elder’s husband
tràŋ queen → tràŋtɛ queen’s consort
baɔ dog → baɔtɛ male dog
Jansɛ̀tɛ man from Jansɛ̀
Kɛbrìtɛ Kebreni man
nèn - building, place:
łó study → łónèn school
goods → hénèn warehouse
ŋán boat → ŋánnèn wharf, pier
jùs - place devoted to an activity:
kràɔ salt → kràɔjùs salt flat
swim → jîjùs swimming pool
sàɔ - country:
Nér an ethnic group → Nérsàɔ their land
łó - domain of study, school of thought
hǎe mind → Hǎełó rationalist school
kùr steer → kùrłó navigation
brɛ̌ŋ machine → brɛ̌ŋłó engineering
-r, which eats the final consonant of a word, forms a diminutive:
kɛ̂ŋ older sister → kɛ̂r big sis
mother → bǎr mommy
baɔ dog → baɔr doggie
čó house → čór hut

Adjectival derivations

je (the genitive particle) forms adjectives:
sɛ̀ city → sɛ̀je urban
dòŋǎ the visible world → dòŋǎje earthly, mortal
tlìn rule → tlìnje administrative
Kɛbrì Kebri → Kɛbrìje Kebreni
kɛs outside → kɛsje outer
-r softens the meaning of an adjective:
màɔ old → màɔr getting on in years
čǐ fat → čǐr chubby
kroŋ stupid → kror dim
negates an adjective:
wise → dìdɛ unwise
hàr just → hàrdɛ unjust
sòŋ far → sòŋdɛ not far
Reduplication intensifies an adjective’s meaning—it’s that and more so:
brɛ́ canny → brɛ́brɛ́ sharp as a knife, ultra-smart
dlin crowded → dlindlin packed, crammed full
crazy → pépé batshit insane
Note that reduplication always triggers tone sandhi.

łu— etymologically the same as the past tense morpheme though it has a separate glyph— is similar to our past participle (but should be used as a modifier, not a substantive):

čo sink → čołu sunken
die → dòłu dead
krò finish → kròłu finished, done

Verbal derivations

jâɔ - verbalizer (with a nominal object)
love → jâɔ nù na make love
slɛ fool → jâɔ slɛ na play the fool
hôŋhàɔ parrot → jâɔ hôŋhàɔ na babble, prattle
hùn - reflexive action:
sǎɔs clean → hùnsǎɔs clean oneself
brù kill → hùnbrù kill oneself
Reduplication suggests emphasis, extra intensity or care, loudness, or finality:
eat → sɔsɔ wolf down, eat like a pig
tlɛ̂ŋ flap → tlɛ̂ŋtlɛ̂ŋ keep flapping
čo sink → čočo sink down forever
ruŋ buzz → ruŋruŋ buzz loudly and annoyingly
nɛ̂ fear → nɛ̂nɛ̂ be scared shitless


Personal pronouns

singular dual paucal plural
trǎɔ I jàɔ we two dràɔ we few rur we all
ís you jís you two drìs you few łís you all
éŋ she jéŋ those two drèŋ those few łéŋ they
Pronouns are divided by person and by number. Dual applies to two persons, paucal to a few (two to four or so), plural to more than that. The non-singular forms derive from fusion with a lost preposed particle, with the exception of rur‘we all’.

In the 3s only, sex is distinguished. The non-singular forms can refer to any sex. éŋ and are reserved for animate beings; inanimates use the demonstratives. The unmarked form is the feminine— if the sex of an animal or person is not known, use éŋ.

Pronouns are used with case markers:

rɛn tràɔ na łís re łu.
woman follow I OBJ you.all DAT PAST
The woman followed me on behalf of you all.
The genitive is formed with the usual je clitic, but there are suppletive forms for the singular pronouns. These are fused abbreviations: trǎɔ je → tras.
tras my
is your
es her
pos his


Honorifics are added after names, titles, and personal pronouns when they refer to superiors. The honorific is never added to trǎɔ.
îr ordinary
àn noble
nàɔ royal
àr ís àn ŋɛ̀ pláe na má?
Q you HON want soup Q
Does your excellency want soup?
Deities, members of the Béjan, certain religious figures, and foreign ambassadors are entitled to the noble honorific. However, political officials, military officers, and heads of enterprises only get îr (unless of course they are noble or royal).

Equals never use honorifics speaking to each other— that is, they are not markers of formality (like vous or Usted), but of respect due a superior.

Within a (non-noble) family, older generations, male and female, should be addressed with îr. In rural areas, and among nobles, husbands address wives with îr.

The archaic tradition was for women to use the honorific when addressing older female family members of the same age cohort (sisters and cousins), and men when addressing females (except those of a lower class). Some sources still depict peasants talking this way, but this is only a literary convention.

Lé does not have a tradition of replacing pronouns with titles or phrases (‘your honor’,‘your grace’,‘your majesty’); ís nàɔ is all you need to address the queen.

One never applies an honorific to oneself— except for queens speaking formally, who use nàɔ (not *trâɔ nàɔ) as the 1s pronoun.

Omitting pronouns

Pronouns are optional, and can be omitted if they’re obvious from the context. However, pronouns-with-honorifics are not. This creates a pattern where in a conversation between an inferior and a superior— a boss and employee, a matriarch and a younger relative, a parent and child— both parties refer to the superior with pronouns, to the the inferior without.
àr nù trǎɔ na má?
Q love I OBJ Q
Do you love me? (Superior to inferior)

ís îr na.
love you HON OBJ
Yes, I love you. (Inferior to superior)

For clarity, most of the sample sentences in this grammatical sketch include pronouns, but not honorifics. They would thus sound a bit off (though not actually wrong) to Lé ears. The Examples section is more characteristic of actual pronoun usage.

There is no impersonal pronoun, though omitting the pronoun may have the same effect: Tɔ̌ŋ hina,‘They say so’. For clarity one may supply tlɔrlɔ‘most people’.

The noun phrase

Order within an NP is as follows:
demonstrative number single-attribute noun quantifier multiple-attribute
The single-attribute slot can be filled with either an adjective or a postpositional phrase which does not itself contain modifiers.
ŋɛs dlǐ this bird
jû dlǐ one bird
his jû jɔ̀ŋ dlǐ that one smart bird
jɔ̀ŋ dlǐ júŋ some smart birds
sâr je dlǐ júŋ some birds of the night
ŋɛs dlǐ čɛ̀ŋ all these birds
The multiple-attribute slot can include multiple adjectives, multiple postpositional phrases, or complex postpositional phrases.
dlǐ jɔ̀ŋ as míŋ
bird smart and brilliant
the smart and brightly colored bird

pɛčó pùŋ héŋ sɛ̀ nɔ
temple river by city in
The temple in the city by the river

pɛčó lùná je sɛ̀ júŋ nɔ
temple east of city some in
the temple in some eastern city

There are no morphological plurals; all the words and examples discussed here may refer to one or more things. Explicit quantifiers or numerals must be used to specify number.

As we’ll see, subordinate clauses follow the noun, but in fact syntactically they’re not part of the NP at all— they form a separate consituent following the NP-plus-case-marker constituent.


ŋɛs this ŋɛr this person ŋɛpo this thing
his that hir that person hibo that thing
The first column is used to modify an NP (e.g. ŋɛs‘this woman’).

The other words serve as entire NPs: Ŋɛrhibo na‘This person likes that thing.’ Ŋɛpo and hibo serve as third person pronouns for inanimates.

There are no articles.


Quantifiers include the following.
mán no, not any
júŋ some, a few
tle many
tlɔr most
čɛ̀ŋ all, every
kis other
These normally follow the noun, but if they are the only modifier they may precede it: cf. dlǐ čɛ̀ŋ or čɛ̀ŋ dlǐ‘all birds’, but ŋɛs dlǐ čɛ̀ŋ‘all these birds’.

There’s no word for‘both’, but one can say e.g. rò dlǐ čɛ̀ŋ, literally‘all two birds’.

Quantifiers can only used to modify an NP. To serve as an entire NP, the indefinite pronouns are used:

mánlɔ no one mánbo nothing mánnɛ never mánnèn nowhere
júŋlɔ someone júŋbo something júŋnɛ sometimes júŋnèn somewhere
tlelɔ many people tlebo many things tlenɛ often tlenèn many places
tlɔrlɔ most people tlɔrbo most things tlɔrnɛ most times tlɔrnèn most places
čɛ̀ŋlɔ everyone čɛ̀ŋbo everything čɛ̀ŋnɛ always čɛ̀ŋnèn everywhere
kislɔ another kisbo another kisnɛ another time kisnèn elsewhere
These are quite regular, and the system can be extended with more precise words— e.g. mántɛ‘no male’, mándǐŋ‘no word’ (e.g. “I said nothing“), mánkí‘no instant’, mánčó‘no house’ (“He’s nowhere in the village“). However, once you leave the set of vague common words, or add modifiers, the quantifier comes last: drɔŋ mán‘no sword’, dì lɔ mán‘no wise woman’.

Sentences with any of the negative quantifiers or indefinite pronouns must be negated (with initial dɛ́ŋ).

For related interrogatives, see Questions below.


The Bé number system is octal; this comes from the distinctive Bé way of counting, using the fingers to count digits, and the thumbs to count eights.

To count 1-8, you use the fingers, starting with the left little finger (indeed, the fingers are named jûhɛ̌ŋ, ròhɛ̂ŋ, etc., up to rɔ̀rhɛ̂ŋ, the right little finger). As a corollary, perhaps, Lé point with the left little finger.

(The Lé would feel they understand Dr. Evil’s famous gesture. Pointing at your lip is the same as saying Ŋɛsdǐŋ na tɔ̌ŋ‘I say these words’, i.e.‘Believe it, lady.’)

Then you repeat the process, varying the position of the thumbs, as follows. A blank cell indicates that the thumb is relaxed.

left thumb right thumb
9-16 bent down
17-24 bent down bent down
25-32 bent down
33-40 held against index finger
41-48 touch base of pinky
49-54 touch base of pinky touch base of pinky
55-64 touch base of pinky
Note the thumb sequence 0 - L - LR - R. Among the Mɔłɔ it’s 0 - L - R - LR instead; the Mɔłɔ consider this more logical, but the other Bé find it awkward: their way requires only one thumb movement per octade.

The Linaminče languages also have octal systems, as they learned counting from the Bé.

x 8x +x 8x 1/x xth
1 rɔ̀r jûs rɔ̀r
2 krɛ̀ ròs tlàn čiŋ láe
3 jùr súr jùs lón jaŋ jùrkɛ
4 čɛr jês čɛs łùr bičɛr čɛrkɛ
5 bàɔ bàs prûŋ bibàɔ bàɔkɛ
6 bàr čɛnɛ̀ bɔ̀s rɔ̀rprûŋ bibàr bàrkɛ
7 târ bɛ̀nɛ̀ tâs tlànprûŋ bitâr târkɛ
8 rɔ̀r tlàn lónprûŋ brɔ̀r rɔ̀rkɛ
Note that there are special names for the multiples of 8; these mostly derive from the action of the thumbs— e.g. krɛ̀ 208 means‘the left thumb’.

Numbers from 9-63 are named using the combining forms (the +x column), which derive from fusion of the numbers with as‘and’. Thus jûs rɔ̀r 118 =9 , čɛs súr 348 = 28, tâs bɛ̀nɛ̀ 778 = 63.

Multiples of 1008 (64) are formed with the digit + tàn, a combining form of tlàn: thus ròtàn 2008 = 128, bàɔtàn 5008 = 320.

These can be concatenated with the lower digits using as‘and’. Note that the digits appear in the opposite order as English:

jûs rɔ̀r as ròtàn
+1 eight and two-64
2118 = 137
čɛs súr as bàɔtàn
+4 thirty8 and five-64
5348 = 348
tâs bɛ̀nɛ̀ as bɛ̀nɛ̀tàn
+7 seventy8 and seven-64
7778 = 511
10008 (512) is lón and works much like 64.
ròs hí as bàrtàn as jùrlón
+2 fifty8 and six-64 and three-512
36528 = 1962
10,0008 (4096) is łùr, but five-digit numbers are counted by multiples of 512 instead. E.g. čɛs súr lón = 34008 = 14336.

100,0008 (32768) is prûŋ and works much like lón.

Scholars form higher numbers by multiplication: rɔ̀rprûŋ 86 = 262144; tlànprûŋ 87 = 2,097,152; lónprûŋ 88 = 16,777,216, łùrprûŋ 89 = 134,217,728, and finally prûŋprûŋ 810 = 1,073,741,824.

Fractions and ordinals of larger numbers are formed by changing just the first number; e.g. bičɛs súr as bàɔtàn 1/5348, čɛskɛ súr as bàɔtàn 5348th. To form mixed fractions, combine the ordinal and fraction:

jùrkɛ bičɛr
three-ORD FRAC-four
This in turn can be concatenated with a whole number, again using as:
jùrkɛ bičɛr as târ
three-ORD FRAC-four and seven
7 ¾

Basic sentence structure

The basic sentence order of Lé is SVOPT, where P and T refer to place and time:
sɛ̌n júŋ sa na krɛn łu.
woman buy some wine OBJ here PAST
The woman bought some wine here.
However, as the object is explicitly marked with the clitic na, word order is fairly free. OSV is normally used for topicalization, while OVS carries the pragmatic implicature that the subject is newly introduced. Note that this often corresponds to our use of the definite and indefinite article:
Júŋ sa na sɛ̌n łu.
some wine OBJ woman buy PAST (OSV)
Some wine was bought by the woman.

Júŋ sa na sɛ̌n łu.
some wine OBJ buy woman PAST (OVS)
Some wine was bought by a woman.

Lé avoids having a subject NP followed directly by another NP, so SOV and VSO are rarely seen.

Other case markers

Na is just one of a family of case markers, with similar syntactic behavior:
disposal (object; see below)
la causative
na accusative (object acted upon)
sɛs ablative (source, origin)
re dative (beneficiary, destination)
krɔ instrumental (tool)
bu comitative (with); carrying
čor purpose, intention
łin like, in the way of
about, as to, regarding
ta as, in a state of, while being
All the case markers are clitics, and thus trigger tone sandhi.

Lé tends to be more consistent with cases than English.

Unexpected case usages are marked in the lexicon.

Multiple cases generally appear in the order given in the table:

sɛ̌n júŋ sa na injǔŋ sɛs sáŋ re łu.
woman buy some wine OBJ pirate ABL daughter DAT PAST
The woman bought some wine from the pirates for her daughter.

Insòŋ čus pràɔ krɔ krǎr čor łu.
archer shoot arrow INSTR practice PURP PAST
The archer shot the arrow for practice.

Ta is used to describe the subject’s state or status: tlɛ́ ta‘while naked’, tràŋ ta‘as queen’, is inbràe ta‘as your lawyer’.

Any constituent can be topicalized by moving it before the verb, and marked as new information (or as an afterthought) by moving it ahead of its normal position.

Injǔŋ sɛs sɛ̌n júŋ sa na łu.
pirate ABL buy some wine OBJ woman PAST
As for the pirates, some wine was bought from them by a woman.
The causative normally occurs first, before the subject:
Háɔ la trâɔ saɔr prołó na łu.
matriarch CAUS I abandon accounting OBJ PAST
The matriarch made me give up accountancy.
Sometimes Lé uses a causative where we’d use a different case analysis:
Papa sǔs / Lɔ la papa sǔs.
baby suck / woman CAUS baby suck
The baby is nursing / The woman is nursing the baby
A vocative (which has no case marker) can be placed at the front of the sentence, or more rarely after it; the subject should always be explicitly stated.
Slɛ, dɛ́ŋ ís sɔ dà na.
idiot NEG you eat leaf OBJ
You idiot, you don’t eat the leaf.
If the object is the same as the subject, the reflexive deverbal using hùn- must be used, rather than simply omitting the object as we can do in English: éŋ hùnsǎɔs łu ‘she washed (herself)’.

The mô construction

can be used in place of either na (direct object) or re (indirect object), but is always topicalized, and must always refer to something definite.
Pàŋ mô trǎɔ čun łu.
book OBJ I read PAST
I read the book.

Ŋúlɔ mô éŋ bre sò na łu.
beggar OBJ she give money OBJ PAST
She gave the money to the beggar.

Summarizing all uses of is difficult, but a good heuristic is that it implies disposal— the item is taken care of, disposed of. Thus the first example might be paraphrased “I’m done with that book“, the second as “She got rid of the beggar (by giving her money)“.
This construction is also used where we might say “What I did to — was —.“ E.g.:
éŋ mô pô sârjâ łu.
she OBJ he cheat PAST
What he did to her was to cheat on her.

The time slot

A sentence may optionally contain a time indication at the end.

Time clitics

The simplest of these is one of the time clitics:
dɔr earlier past
łu past
klae later on
kɔr just now
mar now
drae in a moment, about to
trun future
We’ve already met łu as the simple past tense. A narrative set in the past can use dɔr to refer to earlier times, similar to our past perfect or the Verdurian past anterior:
éŋ čun pàŋ na łu rǐ trǎɔ pàŋ dɔr.
she read book OBJ PAST because I read EARLIER.PAST
She read the book because I’d read it first.
Similarly, klae is used to refer within a past narrative to later events which are still past. We sometimes use the conditional for this.
Trǎɔ brâ drɔŋ na łu rǐ trǎɔ hîr klae.
I take sword OBJ PAST because I need LATER.ON
I took the sword because I would need it (later).
All three past particles are found in the response of a ghost summoned by a Lé magician and asked about its life:
Trǎɔ lù dɔr, rɛ̀s łu, dò klae.
I be.born EARLIER.PAST fight PAST die LATER.ON
I was born, I fought, I died.
Where the English translation compresses the events aphoristically, the effect of the Lé sentence is a breathless rush through time.

Kɔr expresses that an event just happened, drae that it’s just about to. These can be combined with the other clitics to refer to past or future time:

Trǎɔ hù čó re łu; éŋ čun pàŋ na kɔr łu.
I enter house DAT PAST / she read book OBJ JUST.NOW PAST
I entered the house; she had just finished the book.
Kɔr is often used with a perfective sense: the action is done now, it’s taken care of. This is often emphasized with the construction:
Drɔŋ mô trǎɔ brâ kɔr.
sword OBJ I take JUST.NOW
I’ve taken the sword.
If no time clitic is present, its assumed to be mar ‘now’. Explicitly inserting mar is usually done to contrast with a different time. There isn’t a direct equivalent of‘then’ in the sense of‘at that time’; use the simple clitics instead.

Indefinite time pronouns

The indefinite pronouns (and their variations) can also fill the time slot; they can also be restricted to a time period using the time clitics.
mánnɛ never
júŋnɛ sometimes
tlɔrnɛ most times
čɛ̀ŋnɛ always
Jansɛ̀ pâ dlindlin as prɛ́s čɛ̀ŋnɛ (łu).
Jansɛ̀ be busy-busy and malicious always (PAST)
Jansɛ̀ is (was) always terribly busy and devious.

Time NPs

The time slot may also be filled with a NP referring to time, plus a clarifying clitic:
krin until, before
ras since, after
tur on (it happened sometime during this span)
čɔŋ during(it happened all through this span)
Jǎɔ nù jâɔ na jɔ́rnɛ tur.
we.two do love OBJ previous-day on
We made love yesterday.

Jǎɔ nù jâɔ na jɔ́rnɛ čɔŋ.
we.two do love OBJ previous-day during
We made love all day yesterday.

Trǎɔ jɛ̀s ís re łɛ̌n ras.
I visit you.s DAT dinner since
I’ll see you after dinner.

Dɛ́ŋ trǎɔ bùr sa na líŋnɛ krin.
not I drink liquor OBJ holiday until
I won’t drink liquor until the holidays.

Time clauses

An entire subclause can specify the time, followed by the subordinator senɛ, then one of the above time clitics:
Trǎɔ tǎn inprãr na éŋ tɔ̌ŋ łu senɛ tur.
I know culprit OBJ she speak PAST SUB during
When she spoke, I knew the culprit.

Trǎɔ nù ís na mǐ is dlàɔ na łu senɛ ras.
I love you OBJ see your face OBJ PAST SUB since
I have loved you ever since I saw your face.

The subclause is the time slot for the main clause; don’t add a second time clitic.

A time clause, or a time NP, but not a single-word clitic, can be fronted to topicalize it:

Rɛ̀sčìŋ ras dɛ́ŋ trǎɔ ŋír rà.
war since NEG I possible sleep
Since the war I haven’t been able to sleep.

The place slot

A sentence may optionally indicate location, just before the time slot. The place slot works much like the time slot.

Place clitics

There is only one place clitic, krɛn‘here’.
Tras tlɛ̀ lûr ŋǎɔ krɛn.
my damn younger.sister infest here
My goddamn sister is infesting this place.

Place expressions

An NP can be combined with the locative clitic ro, which can be glossed as‘in’,‘at’,‘on’,‘by’— whatever the most basic place relationship is with the given noun or pronoun.
sɛ̀ ro in the city
łas ro on the ocean, at sea
trɔs ro in the box
nà ro in one’s heart
ís ro by you, there
Ŋar ro by Ŋar, at Ŋar’s place
Just as there’s no word for‘then’, there’s no word for‘there, in that place’. Instead you use explicit indications such as ís ro ‘by you’, čó ro‘at the house’.


More precise locatives are formed using postpositions:
nɛ̀ across
héŋ near (to)
sòŋ far (from)
in, inside
kɛs outside, out of
jês to the right of
krɛ̀ to the left of
kɔ̀s above, over, on
tran away from, against
din between, amid, among
je of
nae apart from, except, without
‘side, direction’ is a semi-productive means of forming even more postpositions:
łasná north of ‘sea side’
prɔ̌ná south of ‘cold side’
lùná east of ‘sunrise side’
dòná west of ‘sunset side’
bɔrná under, below ‘bottom side’
jɔ̌sná before ‘front side’
dlùnná downriver ‘flow side’
nɔ̀rná upriver ‘drag side’
sɛ̀ná downtown ‘city side’
sùŋná downstairs, to the ground ‘ground side’
łɛ́sná upstairs, upward ‘roof side’
krǎná up (a tree) ‘branch side’
čóná homeward ‘house side’
dlàɔná facing ‘face side’
krɛnná on this side ‘here side’
Postpositional phrases can be used alone with ro to fill the place slot:
Ŋar łɔŋ nɔ̀rná ro łu.
Ŋar go upriver LOC PAST
Ŋar went upriver.
Or they can be appended to a noun phrase:
Ŋar hós sɛ̀ pùŋ nɛ̀ re łu.
Ŋar city river across to PAST
Ŋar came to the city across the river.
Note that ro is omitted when it modifies an NP.
čó jês mîn the tree to the left of the house
Mɔ̀lɔ lù sàɔ the country to the east of the Mɔłɔ
sɛ̀ kɛs pɛčó the temple outside of town

Place clauses

An entire subclause can specify the location, followed by the subordinator sero:
Jàɔ jǎɔ nù na ŋín hǎ sero trun.
we.two do love OBJ ŋín bloom SUB FUT
We will make love where the ŋín flowers bloom.


The simplest imperative is a single verb: saɔr! ‘go away!’ sɛ̌n! ‘buy it!’

Anything more complicated requires the imperative particle kle, which replaces the tense clitic. If no subject is provided, non-honorific‘you’ is assumed.

Dlɛ̌n hé na trǎɔ re kle.
show goods OBJ me DAT IMPER
Show me the goods.
A first or third person subject, or honorific‘you’, may be provided. This is not quite so peremptory— it’s more of a‘should’ than a‘must’.
Rur saɔr mǎslù ras kle.
we.all leave sunrise before IMPER
Let us away ere break of day.


Yes-no questions

The general formula for questions is to use the introductory particle àr and the final particle :
àr trǔŋ lɔ lɔ̂n ís na ?
Q bad woman hurt you OBJ Q
Did the bad woman hurt you?
To reply in the affirmative repeat the verb— Lɔ̂n ‘(Yes, she) hurt) me’— or more formally say something like Hibo don‘It’s certainly that’. To reply negatively say Dɛ́ŋ (‘No’), or Dɛ́ŋ hibo don‘It’s certainly not that’.

Mǎr instead of adds a tentative or apologetic tone, something like our tag questions. It can be used without initial àr, making it suitable for turning a statement into a question partway through.

ís îr klùŋ trǎɔ na mǎr?
you HON hate I OBJ Q
You despise me, don’t you?
Ŋé can replace to add an ironic or sarcastic air (all the more so if it’s drawn out).
àr háɔ čàosí ŋé?
Q matriarch menstruate Q
Is the matriarch PMSing or what?
To question a particular element, add the clitic te after it, and omit àr:
Čǐ lɔ te hɔ́r ŋɛs ŋódà na łu ?
fat woman Q choose this roll-up OBJ PAST Q
Was it the fat lady who ordered this sweet roll?

Čǐ lɔ hɔ́r ŋɛs ŋódà te na łu ?
fat woman choose this roll-up Q OBJ PAST Q
Was it this sweet roll that the fat lady ordered?

Other interrogatives

The interrogatives are formed with bɛ́ ‘which’, itself an interrogative adjective. The queried element is usually fronted, and an interrogative clitic inserted at the end of the sentence.
bɛ́ which
bɛ́bo what
bɛ́lɔ who
bɛ́nɛ when
bɛ́nèn where
bɛ́ čor why
bɛ́ krɔ how, using what
bɛ́s whose
Bɛ́lɔ jí bròs na tras čaelu ro łu ?
who put lizard OBJ my tea at PAST Q
Who put the lizard in my tea?

Bɛ́bo na ís sɔ kɔr ?
what OBJ you eat JUST.NOW Q
What did you just eat?

Bɛ́ tɛr na ís ŋɛ̀ ?
which lad OBJ you want Q
Which boy do you want?

Bɛ́nèn čùŋké hós łu mǎr?
where artillery go past Q
Um... the artillery went where?

Bɛ́ krɔ ís lús trǎɔ na łu ŋé?
which INSTR you find I OBJ PAST Q
However did you find me?

Any of the cases can be queried with bɛ́, on the model of bɛ́ čor‘for what = why’.


To negate a sentence, add dɛ́ŋ at the front:
Dɛ́ŋ rur tlɛ̌n na łu.
NEG we start fire OBJ PAST
We didn’t start the fire.
A specific element is negated by adding the clitic (but dɛ́ŋ is still required):
Dɛ́ŋ éŋ ŋɛ̀ bǎɔsa na.
NEG she want NOT OBJ
It’s not wine that she wants.

Dɛ́ŋ éŋ ŋɛ̀ bǎɔsa na.
NEG she NOT want OBJ
It’s not her that wants wine.

( is also used as a suffix to form negative adjectives; these don’t need dɛ́ŋ.)

A negative question replaces initial àr with dɛ́ŋ:

Dɛ́ŋ drìs klàɔ mán tlúr na ?
NEG you.few display no banana OBJ Q
You have no bananas?
Replies are the same as for affirmative questions— klàɔ‘we have them’ (but this may be drawn out in this case: klàààɔ), dɛ́ŋ‘we don’t have them’.


Subordinate clauses are marked with the clitic se. The entire subclause follows the constituent it attaches to.
Let’s look at a sample sentence—
Dǎr nù injǔŋ na łu.
girl love gangster OBJ PAST
The girl loved a gangster.
and look at the four possible relativizations. The subclause is shown in blue, the main verb in red.

S in subclause, S in main

Dǎr nù injǔŋ na (łu) se jɛ̀s trǎɔ na łu.
girl love gangster OBJ PAST SUB visit I OBJ PAST
The girl who loved a gangster visited me.
S in subclause, O in main
Trǎɔ jɛ̀s dǎr na nù injǔŋ na (łu) se łu.
I visit girl OBJ love gangster OBJ PAST SUB PAST
I visited the girl who loved a gangster
O in subclause, S in main (note the stranded na)
Injǔŋ dǎr nù na (łu) se jɛ̀s trǎɔ na łu.
gangster girl love OBJ PAST SUB visit I OBJ PAST
The gangster who the girl loved visited me.
O in subclause, O in main (again, with stranded na)
Trǎɔ jɛ̀s injǔŋ na dǎr nù na (łu) se łu.
I visit gangster OBJ girl love OBJ PAST SUB PAST
I visited the gangster who the girl loved
As shown, łu is optional in the subclause, since it’s identical to the time slot in the main clause.

Sentential arguments use the special pronoun hina (= his na‘that OBJ’), which takes the place of the complement in the main sentence, allowing the complement to be placed either before or after it:

Pô tɔ̌ŋ hina łu, hà jû pɛ łɔ̌.
he say SUB PAST / just one goddess exist
He said there’s only one god.

Hà jû pɛ łɔ̌, pô tɔ̌ŋ hina łu.
just one goddess exist / he say SUB PAST
There’s only one god, he said.

Trǎɔ drɔ̌n hina čɛ̀ŋnɛ, Kɛbrìtɛ ŋan plɔ̀r.
I hold SUB always, Kebri-men habitually lie
I have always maintained that the Kebreni are liars.

There’s no grammatical difference between direct and indirect reported speech; it’s generally obvious from the pronouns, language, and tenses used:
Tras bǎ tɔ̌ŋ hina trǎɔ re łu, dɛ́ŋ trǎɔ jâɔ héŋnâr na tɛ mɛ.
my mother say SUB I DAT PAST / NEG I do attention OBJ males ABOUT
My mother told me I was insufficiently careful with regards to men.

Tras bǎ tɔ̌ŋ hina trǎɔ re łu, ís pǎ tlɛ̀ dliŋlɔ.
my mother say SUB I DAT PAST / you be damn mud-woman
My mother told me “You’re a goddamn slut.“

If a clause serves as the subject, hibo‘that one’ stands in for it in the main clause:
Hibo prɛ̀n, dɛ́ŋ trǎɔ pǎ hà jûje insîbó.
that-thing seem NEG I be sole spy
It seems that I am not the only spy.
An alternative form of subordination is nominalization of a clause, with objects turned into genitives. These are particularly useful for intentives and instrumentals:
Trǎɔ drɛ̌ tînłó na →
I learn carpentry OBJ
I’m learning carpentry.

→ Trǎɔ jɛ̀s éŋ re tînłó je drɛ̌ čor łu.
I go she DAT carpentry of learn INTENT PAST
I went to her to learn carpentry.

Pô de tras łàɔrá na łu →
he strip my skirt OBJ PAST
He removed my skirt.

→ Pô háe trǎɔ na tras łàɔrá je de krɔ łu.
he surprise I OBJ my skirt of remove INSTR PAST
He surprised me by removing my skirt.


Lé conjunctions are simple: any constituents can be joined with a conjunction.
as and
trâe in order that
dɔ̀n therefore
but, however
kru rather than, and not
bâerè just as, in the same way, likewise
Pánaɔ as Ŋar
Fánao and Ŋar

dòná sǔ lùná ro
in the west or in the east

Inbràe as pɛlɔ si hîr trǎɔ re.
lawyer and priest fast need I DAT
I need a lawyer and a priest, fast.

Klɛ̀ŋ jǎɔ as sɔ łâtrô na łu. cook and eat water-rat OBJ PAST
The old man cooked and ate the swamp rat.

Trǎɔ nù pô na drɛ́s jǎɔ.
I love he OBJ because skillful cook
I love him because he cooks well.

As implies that both conjoints are involved equally. If not the comitative is preferred:
Pánaɔ hós inbràe bu trun.
Fánao lawyer COMIT FUT
Fánao is coming, along with her lawyer.

Adjectives and modals

Verbal modifiers

There is no separate class of adverbs; adjectives can be placed directly before the verb to modify it.
Inplɛ́s si tɔ̌ŋ łu.
thief fast speak PAST
The thief spoke quickly.

Modal adjectives

The modals are adjectives, which can be used to modify either nouns or verbs.
As modal As adjective
rɛŋ should recommended, moral
čàe must obligatory
ŋír maybe; possibly possible
blɛ̀ŋ unlikely unlikely
łɔ̂s may; be permitted permissible
don surely, certainly sure, certain
tǎn knows how to knowledgable
ŋan habitually habitual
pǎe hypothetically, if supposed
ŋɛ̀ want to wanted
prɛ̀n seem to seeming, apparent
Čàe tǎn tlâe na.
must know region OBJ
You gotta know the territory.

Prołó pǎ čàe tǎn.
accounting be must know
Accounting is obligatory knowledge.

àr ís tǎn jî má? Trǎɔ don bàn hina.
Q you know swim Q / I surely hope SUB
Can you swim? I sure hope so.

Negating ŋír gives the meaning “impossible, cannot“; for “maybe not“ use blɛ̀ŋ instead.
Dɛ́ŋ ís ŋír jɛ̀s jinlɔ àn re ŋɛsŋɛ čɔŋ.
NEG you visit possible noblewoman HON DAT this-day DURING
It’s impossible to have an audience with the Lady today.

If clauses

If clauses are a combination of the modal adjective pǎe with a conjunction such as dɔ̀n:
ís pǎe łɛ́ŋ tlu Kɛbrì na dɔ̀n jɔhù hibo re kle.
you if most adore Kebri OBJ therefore marry DAT IMPER
If you love Kebri so much, you should marry it.
Tense can be indicated, but don’t use the past tense just because English does (“If I fell in love with you...“). Use the past only for conditions that occurred in the past.

The consequent will often have a modal (‘this is what should or must or might happen in that case’); if it doesn’t it can be taken as a logical consequence.

ís pǎe hós čódin ro kɔr, is bún pǎ slûr.
you if walk street in JUST.NOW / your feet are dirty
If you were walking in the street, your feet are dirty.
If the chain of consequences continue, one can add pǎe (or more formally his pǎe) to each:
—Trǎɔ pǎe pǎ kǎɔ dɔ̀n rɛŋ sɛ̌n bɔ̀ ŋán na.
I if be rich therefore should buy big boat OBJ
If I were rich I’d buy a big boat.

—As pǎe bùr sa na čɛ̀ŋnɛ. As pǎe pǎ jûn.
and if drink liquor OBJ always / and if be cock
And drink all the time. And be an asshole.


The formula for comparatives is
<comparand> <comparator> <adjective>
where the comparator is one of:
As comparator As intensive
łɛ́ŋ much more / most exceedingly
dláɔ more very
bâe as same
less not very
hǒho much less / least exceedingly not
éŋ pǎ jo mɛ dláɔ si.
she be jaguar ABOUT more fast
She’s faster than a jaguar.
A comparative expression can be used wherever an adjective can, such as before a noun or verb:
éŋ jo mɛ dláɔ si tí.
she jaguar ABOUT more fast run
She runs faster than a jaguar.
If the comparand is omitted, it can be taken as the generality of such things— in effect the comparator becomes an intensive, as shown in the last column: dláɔ si‘very fast’, łɛ́ŋ si‘really really fast’.

There’s no syntactic superlative, but the‘extreme’ comparators, especially given a particular or small set of comparands, can be pragmatically taken as indicating a superlative:

éŋ pǎ łónèn mɛ łɛ́ŋ si rɛ̀.
she be school ABOUT much.more fast girl
She’s the fastest girl in the school.

Semantic fields

Greetings and closings

The commonest greeting, used with equals, is ì! ‘Hello!’ The reply is ɔ̌, which serves in general as an acknowledgement or agreement (i.e. where we’d say “Uh huh“ or “OK“).

With someone you’d use the ordinary honorific with, add their name and the honorific. e.g. ì Łáɔ îr! “Hello, Ms. Łáɔ!“

In formal situations, or with nobles or royals, more elaborate greetings are used. One of the simplest is

Hós łu, Línɛ àn. PAST / Línɛ HON
I have come, Lady Línɛ.
She will reply ís hós łu “You have come.“

The very same exchange can close the conversation—hós means‘come or go by foot’. In the event you came by boat, you use instead.

An all-purpose closer is Trɛ ís na “Bless you“, with honorifics if appropriate.

Other polite expressions

The commonest way to make a request is to phrase it as a question, replacing the particle with ǔn (often pronounced in a drawn-out nasalized way):
àr ís jí tras drɔŋ na trǎɔ re ǔn?
Q you put my sword OBJ I DAT REQ
Would you please hand me my sword?
It’s not a Bé custom to say “thank you“— even receiving a gift from a superior, one simply bows reverently. This can be very disturbing to visitors from Eretald; noticing this, some Lé when speaking to Ereláeans take to prefacing virtually every statement with Sire, the Kebreni expression for thanking someone for their actions.

On hearing bad news, one says Bǒ ís re “My condolences“; one can also explicitly ask for condolences:

Bǒ drào re kle!
condole we.few DAT IMPER
Condole with us!
To apologize, one generally uses one of these formulas:
Trǎɔ saɔr tras dǐŋ na.
I abandon my word OBJ
I apologize for my words.

Trǎɔ saɔr tras dlɛ̀n na.
I abandon my conduct OBJ
I apologize for my behavior.

One can add a qualifier (e.g. tras jáŋ dlɛ̀n‘my outrageous behavior’), but specifics should be left for subsequent sentences.

Pragmatic markers

These can occur either at the beginning or the end of a sentence.
Marker Usage
mɛ̌ Marks dispreferreds.
Mɛ̌ dɛ́ŋ Kúŋsàɔ prɛ̀n drê tràŋ na.
well / NEG Uytai seem have queen OBJ
Well... Uytai doesn’t really have a queen.
ɔ̌ Expresses acknowledgement, agreement, or simply that one is listening.
Ɔ̌ bàr tlúr na.
OK six tlúr OBJ
Mm hmm, (you want) six bananas.
trɛ́s Excuses jostling or interruptions.
Trɛ́s— àr nonnèn łɔ̌ krɛn má?
excuse / Q customs here Q
Excuse me, is this the customs office?
kisbo mɛ Marks a sudden change of topic.
Kisbo mɛ júŋlɔ tân brù ŋɛs drûr na má?
another-thing ABOUT someone know kill this monster OBJ Q
So... anyone know how to kill this monster?
hibo łɔ̌ Ends a digression (of one’s own).
Hibo łɔ̌... łɛ̌n mɛ.
that.thing / dinner ABOUT
Anyway, what about dinner?
ŋé “Yes but...“— acknowledges or simply dismisses a point, but insists that it’s really irrelevant (see also Questions).
éŋ tlɛ̀ ŋan plɔ̀r ŋé.
she damn habitually lie yeah
Yeah, sure, but she’s still a damn liar.
ɛ Prolongs a turn or marks dispreferreds; can occur anywhere in the sentence.
Trǎɔ ŋɛ̀ čaelu na ɛ... bluŋ bu rɔ̌r čaelu na.
I want tea OBJ um bluŋ COM warm tea OBJ
I’d like tea um... warm tea with bluŋ [a spice].
dɔ̀n “So...“— acknowledges a point, but presses on to insist on something or demand action.
Dɔ̀n bɛ́bo na jàɔ jǎɔ trun má?
therefore what-thing OBJ we.two do FUT Q
So what do we do now?
Expresses surprise or appreciation.
his tɛr pǎ prépré!
wow that guy be sexy
Wow, what a sexy guy!
è As a clitic, expresses commiseration or self-pity; as an interjection it’s the word for “ouch!“
His tras rɛ̀ ŋan plɛ̀ŋ bún na è.
that my girl habitually tread.on foot OBJ ow
Oy, that child of mine is a handful.

The day

Most people divide the day () according to the position of the sun.
Time Etymology
mǎslù dawn sun birth
númǎs morning sun rising
prámǎs noon sun high
bɛ́mǎs afternoon sun falling
mǎsdò dusk sun death
sâr night
For more precise timing, the daylight hours are divided into eight periods called brɔ̀r (literally eighths), which are numbered using the ordinals: e.g. sé brɔ̀r‘first hour’ = 6 to 7:30 a.m.; čɛrkɛ brɔ̀r‘fourth hour’ = noon to 1:30 p.m. Astronomers and sailors have extended this to the nighttime; e.g. sâr je láe brɔ̀r ‘second hour of the night’ = 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Only scientists really care about any further division, and they’ve settled on defining the ‘instant’ as 1/908 (i.e 1/72) of a brɔ̀r— that is, 1.25 minutes. This value has the advantage that it’s one fourth of a Verdurian megua, allowing easier translation of Verdurian works on physics and navigation.

There is no idea of a week.

Larger time periods

There are only two seasons in the Bé rain forest: łɛ̀‘monsoon season’ and jučìŋ‘dry season’ (dry in the sense that it’s not raining buckets).

Years (łuŋ) are numbered according to the reign of the current queen. The current queen, Líŋhír, came to the throne in 3457, so the year is currently tâs krɛ̀ 278 = 23; in a historical account we’d write Líŋhír je (łuŋ) tâs krɛ̀.

For more careful accounting, months (sáečìŋ) are counted, one month being the period of the moon Iliažë (Sáemàe). There is no attempt to make the months fit into the 328 days of the year. One might refer to this month (ŋɛs sáečìŋ), last month (jɔ́r sáečìŋ), and next month (trun sáečìŋ), or use the number of months again dating from the queen’s accession. The current month, as of olašu 3480, is ròs rɔ̀r as čɛrtàn 4128 = 266.


The prototypical family () is all the female descendents of one old woman plus their husbands and unmarried children. It’s most comfortable when it has two daughters of mature age, perhaps twenty members in all.

For more on Lé families, see the Almeopedia article on Beic sex roles, or the biography of Múr.

Here are the basic kinship terms, sorted by age cohort:

cohort term gender gloss
-2 + háɔ f matriarch
-2 f grandmother
-2 + kae f * elder: i.e. any woman of -2 cohort not the háɔ
-1 f mother
-1 nás m father (i.e. mother’s husband)
-1 tres f * aunt: older sister of mother
-1 ŋûn f * aunt: younger sister of mother
ego kɛ̌ŋ f older sister
ego lûr f younger sister
ego ri m brother
ego čɔ̌ŋ f * older cousin
ego f * younger cousin
ego bɛ̂n m * cousin
+1 sáŋ f daughter
+1 m son
+1 f * niece (daughter of any sibling or cousin)
+1 pɛ̀ŋ m * nephew
+2 ŋâe f granddaughter (one’s daughter’s daughter)
+2 slin m grandson (one’s daughter’s son)
+2 jǎsáŋ f * niece’s daughter
+2 jǎŋor m * niece’s son
The terms marked in the gender column with an asterisk should be taken as remainder categories: they cover whoever is left in that cohort of the appopriate sex (and relative age, for cohorts 0 and -1). Often enough a includes more distant branches, and the kinship terms take no account of distance, except for direct descent.

The most general term can also be used to refer to the entire cohort; e.g. tras sà čɛ̀ŋ (lit.‘all my cousins’) is everyone of my age.

is only used if one’s grandmother isn’t the háɔ (generally because her mother or sister is háɔ instead).

Háɔ overrides any other term which might apply except for .

One’s own husband is a čětɛ. The husbands of all other female relatives can be derived by adding -— e.g. trestɛ‘aunt’s husband’, sáŋtɛ‘son-in-law’.

Given the generalization rule, one can refer to the set of all the men in the a woman can have sex with— her husband and those of her sisters and cousins— as sàtɛ, or sàtɛ čɛ̀ŋ‘all the cousins’.

There aren’t simple terms for brothers of female relatives above cohort 0, since they leave the . They may keep in touch, of course, and one can refer to them with formulas such as tres je ri‘aunt’s brother’. Similarly the daughter of your son is called tɛ je sáŋ‘son’s daughter’; she can’t be called ŋâe as she is not part of your .

If you’re a male, you marry into a new , and for kinship terms you follow a simple rule: you call everyone what your wife does. (She herself is your hùlo.) So you call her mother , her younger sister lûr, and so on. In rare cases one might want to specify that the relationship is hùro‘by marriage’; your birth relatives can be qualified as lùje‘by birth’.

The general term for a female family member is jɔlɔ. The men are usually divided into the čětɛ (the husbands, literally those who have been accepted) and the saɔrtɛ (the younger males, literally the leavetakers— those who will be leaving when they get married). If for some reason a man never marries, he’s a blɛ́tɛ (‘stay-man’). There’s also a non-gendered term injɔ for any family member, but it sounds a bit bureaucratic.

Anyone who dies becomes an ôn, an ancestor. A that’s recently split off from yours is a bâeôn, literally‘same ancestor’.

Talking to or about someone from a male-dominated culture, Lé adapt these terms as best they can. In a literary context one might try to use native terms. One borrowing has proved useful: hàɔhór, from Uyseʔ hyauhyor, for‘patriarch’ or any male head of family. (Note the different tone from háɔ.)


Lé names (âe) are one- or two-word phrases of transparent meaning. Many are traditional (there’s a tendency to re-use names within a ), but there is no fixed stock of names, and new combinations can be freely invented.

One-word names, typical of rural areas, usually fall into one of these categories:

Most names can be applied to either gender (unless the underlying word is gendered; e.g. ó and nàŋ‘beautiful’ are feminine and masculine respectively). However, names may be chosen following Beic stereotypes:
Thus names like Los ‘carefree’ or So ‘playful’ are perfectly appropriate for males, but would be ironic or slightly insulting nicknames for females. The graver virtues such as Kàɔ‘honor’ would seem hifalutin applied to males.

If you never leave your hɛ́nèn, your usual haunts, one syllable is enough of a name. In the cities it’s more usual to give two-word names. Here are some samples:

Dɛ̀hàr mercy and justice
Dìlɔ wise woman
Dìnà wise heart
Dɔjíŋ loyal to Jíŋ (a goddess)
Hìnŋáe golden eye
Hònkǎo silk riches
Jolɔ jaguar woman
Kǎɔtrun rich future
Kosmàe worthy mistress
Kûnrɛ̀s brave fighter
Lánhós graceful walk
Lédǎɔ Lé glory
Línɛ happy day
Líŋhír good omen
Líłáɔ happy dream
Łáča enthusiastic effort
Ŋinàŋ little beauty
Nílàe gate of peace
Nînlâe flower decency
Ŋíntàe flower fragrance
Rɛ̀snà fighting spirit
Rínŋáe silver eye
Sɔnjɔs black hair
Tàehǎ fragrant blossom
Tâɔnà only heart
Tlarŋáe sparkling eye
Trɛlù blessed birth
Trɛŋáe blessed eye
Trɛ̌ssáe reach heaven
Lé often take or are given new names as a sign of taking on a new career or identity. Princess Hìnŋáe of Mɔłɔsɔu, for instance, took the name Tâɔnà after her enlightenment. The lover of the pirate empress Ŋíntàe had the name Čiŋpé‘half-crazy’, a nickname given upon her entrance into the gang.

Nicknames are formed with the diminutive -r (Lâr, NáeNáer, Ɔ Ɔr, LínɛLínɛr) or with simple qualifiers (Bɔ̀ Lâ‘big Lâ’; Ŋí Náe‘little Náe’; So Ɔ‘cute Ɔ’, Mào Línɛ ‘old Línɛ’).

Reduplication forms babytalk names, which may also persist as nicknames: Lâlâ, Náenáe, Ɔɔ, Lílí.

For both formulas, only the first syllable of a two-syllable name is used: Dɛ̀hàr → Dɛ̀r or Dɛ̀dɛ̀.


Some of the strongest terms in Lé are religious: nàdòłu‘damned, unenlightened’, pɛnae‘godness, immoral’, tlɛ̀‘damned, rejected (by the goddesses)’. ‘goddess’ also serves as a sort of religiously tinged intensifier— e.g. pɛbru‘goddess-lamed’, pɛpé ‘goddess-crazy’, pɛpɔ̌ŋ‘goddess-sick’ all suggest afflictions beyond the ordinary— conditions so unusual they must be caused by divinities.

Only a little less charged are words related to excreta: plù‘shit’, ‘piss’, dlòje‘vomitous’.

But perhaps more interesting are the range of terms expressing the Bé view of the sexes, something of a distorted mirror image of our own. For instance, there are quite a few words for unsatisfactory types of men:

bǎrtɛ a man too attached to his mother
bíbi puppy; a weak or cringing man
čɛ̌hǎs an amusing but useless fellow; boy toy
hàbɔr a man with a nice body but an ugly face
hónplè male prostitute
inbandrás groper, a man who touches too much or inappropriately
intùn a man who always seems to be fighting other men
krútle irrational, emotional, masculine
màeŋor bossy boy; a boy who acts like a girl
mɔ́ŋtlùs a man who tries to help but only makes things worse
mûnje stubborn or dangerous like a nawr bull
ɔ̌stɛ a man who bosses his wife around
pàshón impotent man
sârjâtɛ an unfaithful, cheating man
sôstɛr boy toy; a man good at lovemaking but too frivolous to marry
tré drone; a cheating male
trô rat— a very insulting term for males only
trǒtɛ a man who never seems to talk
úŋhór horndog, a man consumed with sex
Compare ɔ̌stɛ, màeŋor, krútle with our virago, tomboy, hysterical. But these are not pure reversals; e.g. a màeŋor is‘girlish’ in the context of a society where girls take charge and dominate. It wouldn’t occur to any Lé to call weak or gentle behavior‘girlish’— that’s bíbi‘puppyish’.

Other terms simply view men as sex objects:

hór dick, cock; general slang for a male
ìsuje having the delicate beauty and hesitant manner associated with early (male) youth
kér well-formed male ass; cute guy
lamítɛ hottie, a man who makes you swoon
líŋrɔ̌ŋ lusty lad, nice piece of ass
prɛ́ŋprɛ́ŋ a well-built man, an Adonis
sodlàɔ good-looking (esp. of men based on the face)
tǐkɔ̀ a man highly skilled at foreplay
tláejɔs with long and beautiful hair (associated with aristocratic men)
Pín‘fuck’ can be put in this category; its root meaning is to grasp with the beak or muzzle, used of animals— the imagery is a woman grabbing at a penis like a hungry animal. Males must make do with the much less vivid lírhù‘enter the pussy’.

Feminists talk about the vanishing female perspective in male-dominant societies. The female perspective is of course normalized and celebrated in Beic society:

Of course there are despective terms for women; indeed, as women are considered the more serious moral agents, these are much more condemnatory than the male-focused terms above.
dɛ́ŋrɛ̀ a young girl given to contradicting her elders
dliŋlɔ promiscuous woman,‘man-izer’
dòŋǎje worldly, earthly, non-spiritual, mortal
hóndaŋ geld (of animals); cut or damage the penis as a punishment
hùs weak, fragile, wimpy
kàɔdɛ dishonorable, worthless
kûndɛ cowardly
mɔ̀tló tyrant, dictator
ràjùs sleep around, sleep outside one’s
slìs cruel, sadistic
trǔŋŋɛ̀ perversion (esp. incest)
ǔdù a large parasitic worm, similar to a guinea worm; a woman who refuses to work or support her family
Not all of the words above are technically restricted to women, but in a Lé context they sound strange or pretentious applied to men. E.g. kàɔ‘honor’ is an attribute of a warrior or aristocrat— all females in Lé culture— so it would be odd to accuse a male of being kàɔdɛ.

The Lé have no obsession with virginity (indeed, the term kâɔrir‘virgin’ was borrowed from Kebreni, and is mostly used to describe mahés‘female prostitutes’, another borrowing). As a corollary sleeping around is no great sin. For a woman to do it (ràjùs) is a little worse than for a man (sârjâ) simply because she’s supposed to be a stronger, less animalistic being. On the other hand, to sexually assault someone (banmǎn) is a much more serious crime for a man.


The Lé goddesses and gods () are associated with personalities rather than portfolios. Traditionally, upon coming of age at about eleven, a Lé would choose a particular divinity (of either sex) whose aspects matched or complemented their own.

The major divinities:

Name Gender Attributes
Dlɛ́s m wild and unconventional, seductive and anarchic
ìsu m beautiful, young, innocent
Jíŋ f ambitious and haughty
f malignant and dangerous
Lín f playful, uncareful, and lustful
Łas m wild, strong, alternately merry and furious, narcissitic
Ŋisú f sunny and helpful
Ŋòŋ m miserable, degraded, depressed
Sáemàe f intelligent, cold, eccentric
Sɔn f authoritarian, hard-working, disciplined
Tɔ̀ f dark and sullen
These names also serve as semantic archetypes, through compounding:


The basic units of length:
Unit Relation In kráɔ Metric Etymology
brɔ̀r 1/8 kráɔ 1/8 2.18 mm ‘one eighth’ (of kráɔ)
kráɔ base unit 1 1.746 cm ‘nail’ (width of Queen Trɛlù's fingernail)
čɛr 4 kráɔ 4 6.984 cm ‘(width of) hand’
kisná 2 čɛr 8 13.97 cm ‘other way’ (i.e. length of hand)
tláe 3 kisná 2441.9 cm ‘length’
kribún 2 tláe 48 83.8 cm ‘full foot’ (i.e. a step with both feet)
ŋâeniŋ 16 kribún 384 6.704 m ‘turn’s granddaughter’
sáŋniŋ 8 ŋâeniŋ 6144 107.3 m ‘turn’s daughter’
niŋ 8 sáŋniŋ 49,152 858 m ‘turn’ (of ox plowing, i.e. length of a field)
mǎs 8 niŋ 393,216 6.866 km ‘sun’, how far you can walk in a brɔ̀r, 1.5 hours
The notional length of a field, 1 niŋ, when squared gives a measurement for area, the kriniŋ: 858 m2 = 73.6 hectares = 182 acres. This is inconvenient for actual fields, which are measured in ŋâekriniŋ of 1/64 this size (1.15 hectares).

Mɔłɔ measurements have the same names, but the brɔ̀r through the kribún are 1/12 larger. Thus the Mɔłɔ kráɔ is 1.89 cm.


A mother’s wedding prayer for her son

This is a traditional text, at least a century old, its author unknown, though it’s said to have been written by a mother whose son would be living a long way off, and thus that she would never see again. It’s the sort of thing that’s recited at weddings, or these days printed with a sentimental scene and given to the young man as he moves to his new . It expresses a traditional and conservative piety enlivened by the pathos of farewell— though the vast majority of newly married men live close enough to their birth to visit.
ís pôn dró ta mar as ís jɔhù kɔr.
you become mature AS now / and you band-entry
You are now fully a man; you are married.

Pɛ tras as is trɛ ís re as mɛ̀ŋ ís re kle.
my and your goddess bless you DAT and instruct you DAT IMPER
May my Goddess and yours bless and instruct you.

Hùlɔ re ís dɔ as jé pǎ kle; dɛ́ŋ trǎɔ dɛ is tló pâ, éŋ pǎ.
wife DAT you loyal and strong be IMPER / NEG I NOT your mistress be / she be
Be loyal and strong for your wife; she, not I, is your mistress now.

Tláɔ jɔ je háɔ mǐ ís re líŋŋáe bu kle.
new band of chief look you DAT favor COMIT IMPER
May the matron of your new family look favorably on you!

Tláɔ innà na lús ís trun as rɛ̀ na bre pɛ trun,
new friend OBJ find you FUT and children OBJ give goddess FUT
You will find new friends and the Goddess will give you children,

dɛ́ŋ nɛ mán krò dɛ́ŋ trǎɔ braŋ ís na nù krɔ senɛ tur.
NEG day none end NEG I remember you OBJ love INSTR SUB on
but no day will pass when I do not think of you with my love.

Pɔ̌ŋčìŋ tran as rɛ̀sčìŋ tran ro pɛ sî ís re kle,
sickness away and war at away goddess protect you DAT IMPER
May the Goddess keep you from sickness and war,

mǒ kiskrɔ pǎe pǎ, rur lɔs dòŋǎ ro táe čìŋ čɔŋ.
but otherwise if be / we.all reside death-world at short season during
but if it is otherwise, we are in the realm of death only a short time.

On fighting men

The short story “The Rogues“ is mine, but based on Beic sources, especially the collection of Fánao and Ŋar stories made by Indâe of Maume. This conversation (not actually drawn from her account of the temple of Kâ) is taken from Indâe’s book, Ŋar as Pánaɔ je tɛ̌nnâr dàe (Genuine stories of Ŋar and Fánao, 3458).

Fánao is a Mau form of the original Ayalampan Vanawa; the best representation in Lé is Pánaɔ.

An English narrative customarily includes authorial observations, but in Lé it’s common, as here, to simply set the scene, then show only the characters’s speeches, as in a play.

Pánaɔ re hù mɛ̌ŋ łu as ór dabà ŋɛs dadǐŋ łu.
Fánao DAT enter idea PAST and begin this converse-words PAST
Note the topicalization in the first clause (the idea, being new, moves to the end).
An idea occurred to Fánao, and she began this conversation.

—Práŋ his rɛ̀smɛ kle, éŋ tɔ̌ŋ hina łu. Dɛ́ŋ jéŋ pǎe pǎ dɛ Bé dɔ̀n àr bɛ́bo na ís jǎɔ má?
consider that fight ABOUT IMPER / she say SUB PAST / NEG they.two if be not Bé therefore what-thing OBJ you do Q
—Consider that fight, she said. What would you have done if they weren’t Bé?

—Bɛ́bo ís tɔ̌ŋ má?
what.thing you say Q
—What do you mean?

—ís pǎe trɛ̌s bâe čìŋ re mǒ lɔ as tɛ klě krâerǐŋ na as kúŋ łàɔrá na.
you if reach same situation DAT but woman and man wear blue-skin OBJ and Uytai clothes OBJ
In Lé both skin and clothes are‘worn’ (klě).
—You come upon the same scene, but the woman and man are blue-skinned, wearing Uytainese dress.

—Trírrá, trǎɔ hǎerɛn ís na kɔr. Hibo prɛ̀n Bé kɛs, tɛ kru lɔ mǎn. Čàe dlɔ́r hina tɛ tlìn sero prɔ̌ná sû Kapáłà ro.
barbarian i understand you OBJ JUST.NOW / that-thing seem Bé outside man and.not woman attack / must deduce SUB men rule SUB south or Qapalya at
Note that the proposition tɛ kru lɔ mǎn serves as the antecedent for both the previous and the following clause.
—I understand you now, barbarian. Outside the Bé, it would seem that the man was attacking, not the woman. In the south, or in Qapalya, where men rule, you would have to interpret it thus.

—Dɔ̀n bɛ́bo na ís pǎe jǎɔ má?
therefore what.thing OBJ you if do Q
—And what would you do then?

—Pǎe mǎn jéŋ.
if attack those.two
These statements continue a hypothetical situation, so they use pǎe.
—Attack both of them.

—Mêr tǎn hina, tɛ drɛ́s tǎn rɛ̀s. Łéŋ ŋír pǎ slìs as dláo jé.
cat-dim know SUB men skillful know fight / they possibly be cruel and very strong
Literally, “Kitty knows...“ No one but Fánao would be advised to call Ŋar‘kitty’.
—Men can fight well, you know, little cat. They can be cruel, and they have enormous strength.

—Mûn łin, mǒ dɛ́ŋ rur jàn łéŋ na inrɛ̀s čor.
nawr.bull like / but NEG we.all appoint they OBJ soldier PURPOSE
—Like a nawr ox, but we don’t make them warriors.

—Lé je łís ràr klîs łís je ràbo na. Tɛ re bre drɔŋ na Mɔ̀lɔsàɔ ro as łéŋ mîr rɛ̀s čor drɔ̌nké sǔ héŋké ro. Is tir pǎ łéŋ je drɔŋ mɛ dláo hùt.
lé GEN you.all too you.all GEN bed OBJ / men DAT give sword OBJ Mɔłɔsou in and they serve fight PURPOSE defense or infantry in / your dagger be they of sword ABOUT more weak
The Lé idiom is literally “used to your own beds“.
—You Lé are too used to your own traditions. Even in Mɔłɔsɔu the men are given swords and serve in the army, either as defenders or as forward infantry. Your dagger wouldn’t stand against their sword.

—As mûn je bláɔ mɛ. Dɔ̀n bɛ́bo má?
and nawr.bull of horn about / therefore what-thing Q
—Nor against a nawr’s horns, and so what?

—Dɔ̀n ís nɛ̂ rɛ̀s mɔ̀lɔ inhéŋtɛ dlàɔná.
therefore you fear fight Mɔłɔ infantry-man face-direction
‘Directly’ is really a place clitic:‘to the face’.
—So you would be afraid to fight a Mɔłɔ swordsman directly.

—Dɔ̀n ísòŋná. Mǒ bɛ́bo ís mɛ má? Trǎɔ ŋɛ̀ mǐ hina ís rɛ̀s mɔ̀lɔ inhéŋtɛ na. Trǎɔ don sòjí ís héŋ ro.
therefore far-direction / but what.thing you ABOUT Q / I want see SUB you fight Mɔłɔ infantry-man OBJ / I sure bet you near at
You bet‘near’ your favorite,‘far from’ the one you think will lose.
—Then indirectly. But what about you? I’d like to see a fight between you and a Mɔłɔ swordsman. Surely I would bet on your side.

Seeking enlightenment

The following is a portion of the story of Lady Tâɔnà, the founder of the Nàłó or Interiorist school of philosophy. It’s largely quoted from the Tâɔnàje Pàŋ (Book of Tâɔnà, 2157), the canonical source on her life and teachings.

(Tâɔnà was Mɔłɔ, but the text is cited in its standard Lé reading.)

The concern here is the relationship between the Inner World (nɔŋǎ), the spiritual world which underlies this one and which is the true home of all rational spirits, including human souls, and the World of Death (dòŋǎ), the world we find ourselves living in.

Enlightenment (nɔtǎn) is literally‘inner-knowledge’, i.e. knowledge of nɔŋǎ. But one leaves the mortal world by dying; nɔtǎn is also a word for death. Death is not final if one believes in an immortal soul (hɔ́), but the ambiguity of nɔtǎn colors Lady Tâɔnà’s story.

Hìnŋáe nàɔ dláe hina łu, éŋ nàɔ hù nɔŋâ re čɛ̀ŋnɛ čor.
Hìnŋáe HON decide SUB PAST / she HON enter DAT always INTENT
Hìnŋáe was her birth name; it and the pronoun éŋ are followed by the royal honorific— she was a princess.
Princess Hìnŋáe decided to enter the inner world for good.

Mǒ hɔ́je tliŋhás la éŋ nàɔ pà łu.
but spiritual firefly CAUS she HON stop PAST
But a firefly spirit stopped her.

—Bɛ́ čor ís nàɔ ŋɛ̀ hù nɔŋǎ re má?
which INTENT you HON want enter DAT Q
“Why do you wish to enter the inner world?“

Hɔ́je tliŋhás tɔ̌ŋ tɛ́r senɛ hà tur, as dɛ́ŋ ŋír mǐ hibo na dɛ́ŋ tɛ́r senɛ čɔŋ.
spiritual firefly speak glow SUB only on / and NEG possible see that-thing OBJ NEG glow SUB during
Note the restrictive time clauses in each half of the sentence, each with an implied subject (the firefly).
The firefly spoke only when it was lit, and when it was unlit it was invisible.

—Rǐ dòŋǎ čǎr trǎɔ na.
because tire I OBJ
“Because I am tired of the mortal realm.“

—Bo pǎe čǎr ís na, dɔ̀n dòŋǎje pǎ.
thing if tire you HON OBJ / therefore mortal be
“To be tired of things is mortal.“

—Hibo don.
that-thing certainly
“That is so.“

—Dɔ̀n ís nàɔ hù senɛ ras ɔ̀ŋ pâ dòŋǎ ro.
therefore you HON enter SUB after still be in
The time clause is topicalized.
“Therefore, entering, you will still be in the mortal realm.

ís nàɔ pǎe ŋɛ̀ hù nɔŋǎ re dɔ̀n čàe drɛ̌ jǎɔ na dɛ́ŋ saɔr dòŋǎ sɛs senɛ čɔŋ.
you HON if want enter DAT therefore must learn do OBJ not leave ABL SUB during
Overall this is an if-then clause. “Without leaving dòŋâ“ is expressed as a time clause in the negative.
To truly enter the inner world you must learn to do so without leaving the mortal realm.“

Bɛ́ krɔ jǎɔ má?
which use do Q
“How is this done?“

Drɛ̌ hina, ís nàɔ pǎ krɛn mar.
learn SUB / you HON be here now
A sentential object subordinated with hina.
“By learning that you are already here.“

Dɛ́ŋ hibo sus tɔ̌ŋ mánbo łu, as rǐ dɛ́ŋ ŋír mǐ hibo na dɛ́ŋ tɛ́r senɛ čɔŋ, dɔ̀n dɛ́ŋ ŋír tǎn hina, hibo blɛ́ sǔ saɔr.
NEG that-thing additional say nothing PAST, and because NEG possible see that-thing OBJ NEG glow SUB during, therefore NEG possible know SUB, that.thing remain or leave
It said no more, and as it was invisible when not speaking, it was impossible to know if it was there or had gone.

Hìnŋáe nàɔ dláe łun na bo mɛ łu.
Hìnŋáe HON decide reflect OBJ thing ABOUT PAST
Princess Hìnŋáe resolved to reflect on this.

Dɛ́ŋ éŋ nàɔ tǎn jǎɔ nànnèn ro lɔlɔ je trɛ̌nja čɔŋ.
NEG she HON know do palace in crowd of head-fall during
She could not do this in a palace, amid the interruptions of other people.

éŋ nàɔ saɔrtɔ̌ŋ es innù re łu as hós pùŋ re drûrsàɔ je ór kɔr se łu.
she HON leave-speak her friend DAT PAST and walk river DAT wilderness of beginning mark SUB PAST
The edge of settlement was monster country (drûrsàɔ). There’s very little of this left in the Bé, mainly a few swamps or inhospitable highlands.
She said farewell to her friends and walked to the river that marked the beginning of the wilderness.

éŋ nàɔ de łàorá na as mɛ̌n ŋǐs na łu.
she HON strip clothes OBJ and discard knife OBJ PAST
She removed her clothes and discarded her knife.

Plî pùŋ tlɛ́ ta; dɛ́ŋ nîn mánbo na.
ford river across naked STATIVE / NEG bring nothing OBJ
She crossed the river naked, bringing nothing with her.

éŋ nàɔ blɛ́ jû łuŋ čɔŋ; dɛ́ŋ sɔ mánbo na as dɛ́ŋ bùr łǎ nae mánbo na łu.
she HON stay one year during / NEG eat nothing OBJ and NEG drink water except nothing OBJ PAST
She stayed there for a year, eating nothing, drinking nothing but water.

éŋ nàɔ tân hina łu, dɛ́ŋ mánbo tǎn lɔ̌n éŋ nàɔ na, rǐ dɛ́ŋ éŋ nàɔ łɔ̂s saɔr dòŋǎ sɛs.
she HON know SUB PAST / NEG nothing know harm she HON OBJ / because NEG she HON permitted leave ABL
She knew that she could not be harmed, because she was prevented from leaving the mortal realm.

Mǒ dɛ́ŋ lús nɔtǎn na łu.
but NEG find enlightenment OBJ PAST
However, she did not find enlightenment.

éŋ nàɔ čì hina jû łuŋ ras, trǎɔ rɛŋ kìn his tliŋhás na kle!
she HON exclaim SUB one year after / I should swat that firefly OBJ IMPER
After a year she exclaimed, “I should swat that firefly!“

Hɔ́je tliŋhás tliŋ éŋ nàɔ héŋ ro łu, ís nàɔ pǎe tân púr!
spiritual firefly blink she HON near at PAST / you HON if know try
The firefly blinked next to her: “Try it, if you can!“

The quotable Nyekhen

Nyekhen (Nìkɛ́n) was a Krwŋese general— an obscure figure in the Bé, but when I found these lines translated in a Lé source I thought they would make an instructive contrast with the corresponding Uyseʔ text.

The translator uses male pronouns— the Bé are perfectly aware that Nyekhen and his culture are male-dominant. But Hyemsurist writings are normally gender-switched: generic nawar‘he’ becomes éŋ ‘she’.

Dǐŋ pǎ trǔŋhɔ́; ŋɛpo la tɛ ŋír prǔn drɔŋ na, mǒ dɛ́ŋ tǎn mɛ̀ŋ ŋɛpo je ho na.
word be evil-spirit / this-thing CAUS man possibly pick.up sword OBJ / but NEG know teach that-thing of use OBJ
Words are devils, which may lead a man to pick up a sword; but they can never teach him to use it.
(Advised by an enemy envoy to surrender)
Tɛ je dǐŋ pâ hà hun, es drɔŋ pǎe pǎ krɔ̀r ro.
man of word be wind only / his sword if be sheath in
A man’s words are just wind, if his sword is sheathed.
(After someone advocated using a ruse in battle)
Trǎɔ ho jû hà jâo na. Hibo pǎ, inblû mɛ dláɔ jé pǎ.
I use one trick only OBJ / be / enemy ABOUT more strong be
I only use one trick. That trick is to be stronger than the enemy.
(Asked if he had a backup plan in case a charge failed)
Rur dò trun.
we.all die future
We die.
(Asked if he ever felt fear)
ís la nɛ̂ kle, as dɛ́ŋ ís rɛŋ ŋê hibo mɛ.
you CAUS fear IMPER / and NEG you should worry that-thing about
Note the causative without an explicit subject.
Cause fear, and you need never worry about that.

Ŋír bre drɔŋ na brɔ̀ŋtɛ re, mǒ dɛ́ŋ hibo la pô pǎ inrɛ̀s, bâerè dɛ́ŋ lês je haprùr la pô pǎ dlǐ.
possible give sword OBJ farm-man DAT / but NEG that-thing CAUS he be soldier / same.way NEG feather of turban CAUS he be bird
In this case, respecting local color, the translator has used borrowed haprùr‘turban’ rather than, say, native čô‘hat’.
A farmer may be given a sword, but it no more makes him a soldier than a feathered headdress makes him a bird.

Tɛ tǎn rɛ̀s trâe dlís pos lɔ na, mǒ pô dláɔ mɔ̀ rɛ̀s trâe čǎŋ kis tɛ je lɔ na.
man know fight in.order.that save his woman OBJ / but he more hard fight in.order.that seize other man of woman OBJ
Men will fight to save their women, but will fight harder to seize other men’s.

Tɛ je lɔkos pǎ bɛ́ krɔ pô jâɔ inblû dlàɔná čɔŋ drê rɛ̀sbo na se. Slìsnà pǎ nɛ̂nàje— brɔ̀ŋtɛ čɛ̀ŋ tân čeče inblû na tlǒn dɔr na se.
man of worth be which INSTR he do enemy facing during have weapon OBJ SUB / cruel be cowardly / farm-man every know abuse enemy OBJ defeat EARLIER.PAST OBJ SUB
The measure of a man is how he faces an armed foe. Cruelty is cowardice: any peasant can abuse the defeated.

ís dò ŋǐs krɔ tliŋ sǔ brɔ̀r ro sǔ màɔčìŋ krɔ rɔ̀r łuŋ čɔŋ... ŋɛpo je bɛ́ na ís nɛ̂ má?
you die knife INSTR moment or hour in or old.season INSTR eight year during... this.thing of which OBJ you fear Q
To die in a moment or an hour from the blade, or over a decade from old age? Which of these is more to be feared?

(Before his last battle, told that the enemy had more men)
Dɔ̀n łéŋ drê rur mɛ dláɔ dòŋàɔ.
therefore they have we ABOUT more corpse
Then they will have more corpses.


The lexical category may be taken as a prototype— the same root can often be used as verb, noun, and adjective.

ɛ is alphabetized after e, ɔ after o.

1354 words

âe v name, call
âedǐŋ n name [‘name-word’]
ajé n the Hake people of Mɔłɔsɔu [Hake Hake]
àn pt honorific for nobles
ân a free
ândɛ a not free, oppressed
Ânhɛ̀ n a Beic nation between Belesao and Mɔłɔsɔu [‘free coast’]
ár v burn
àr pt question particle
áraŋ n yam [Tombwe ʔaraŋge]
árkà n ash, ashes
árłu a burnt; brown
ársǐr n caramel
ársǐrtɛ n Tžuro or Fananaki [‘caramel (colored) man’]
as cj and
n mother
bâe a same; same as
bâedɛ a different
bâeôn n a jɔ descended from a recent common ancestor [‘same-ancestor’]
bâerè cj just as, in the same way, likewise
bǎmɛ̀ŋ n guru, religious teacher [‘mother-teacher’]
ban v touch
bàn v hope
bandrás v grope [‘sneak touch’]
banmǎn v rape, sexually assault [‘attack-touch’]
baɔ n dog
bàɔ q five [fusion of bɛ̀s jû ‘another one’]
bǎɔsa n stripcorn wine
bàr q six [fusion of bɛ̀s rò ‘another two’]
bǎr n mommy
bǎrtɛ n a man too attached to his mother
bàs q plus five (combining form)
a great; used as an ethnonym for anyone in the Beic zone
béjan n convention, parliament [‘great council’]
Bélésàɔ n the name of the country [‘great Lé country’]
Béłas n the ocean, esp. that north of the Bé [‘great sea’]
bésɛ̀ n large city, metropolis
bétlìn n empire
Bétlu n Bé religion
bɛ́ pr which
bɛ̀ v drop, fall
bɛ́bo pr what
bɛ̀hoŋ v sit down, get down, relax [‘drop-sit’]
bɛ́lo pr who
bɛ́mǎs n afternoon [‘falling sun’]
bɛ́n v lack, run out, need
bɛ̂n n male cousin
bɛ́nɛ pr when
bɛ̀nɛ̀ q 56 [‘across another’]
bɛ́nèn pr where
bɛ̀pri v lie down, get down; go to sleep [‘drop-lie’]
bɛ̀s a another; extra
bɛ́s pr whose
bi pt prefix forming fractions: bičɛr 1/4
bíbi n puppy; a weak or cringing man
bín n soot; (colloq. or in compounds) ink; write
bínłǎ n ink [calque on Uyseʔ myulnwet]
bínłó n writing [‘write-study’]
bís v play a game; game
blàe n tail
blâŋ n egg
bláɔ n horn
blâr n ass, butt, buttocks
blɛ́ v stay, remain
blɛ̀ŋ a unlikely, implausible
blɛ́tɛ n ‘old sir’; an older unmarried man within a jɔ
blû v oppose, counter, fight back
bluŋ n a spice, something like cardamom, also used as a medicine
bo n object, thing
v watch, observe
n a red-stalked grass mostly used as decoration
v condole (event in acc., person condoled with in dat.)
bǒ ís re my condolences
bɔ̀ a big, large
bɔ̌ a ugly
bǒdǐŋ n condolences
bɔ̀s q plus six (combining form)
bɔ̀sò a expensive [‘big-money’]
bɔr n bottom, base
bɔrbɔ a servile, abject, subservient
bɔrje a lower, inferior; humble
bɔrná pp on the bottom of, under, below
brǎ v take, grab
bràe n law
braŋ v remember
bre v give
brɛ n meat, muscle
brɛ́ a sharp, canny
brɛ̀ŋ n machine, device
brɛ̀ŋłó n mechanics, engineering [‘machine-study’]
brɔ̀ŋ n clearing, plot; farm or rural village— one family’s plot or settlement
brɔ̀ŋlɔ n peasant, farmer (woman or default)
brɔ̀ŋro a public, (already) known [‘in the clearing’]
brɔ̀ŋtɛ n peasant male
brɔ̀r q, n one eighth; a period of 1.5 hours (i.e. 1/8 of daytime); length measurement of 1/7 kráɔ, 2.18 mm
bròs n lizard; name given to the rebels in the 3040s civil war
bru a lame, crippled
brù v kill
bu cl comitative (with, accompanied by, carrying)
a red
bun v serve, attent, wait on
bún n foot
bùŋ n chameleon— a type of lizardwith great powers of camouflage; a deceitful person
búŋòs n a type of caterpillar highly poisonous to the touch [‘red caterpillar’]
bùr v drink, swallow
bùr sa na drink liquor, get drunk
bús v draw
búsbo n drawing
ča v struggle, labor, make an effort
čáe v smile
čàe md must, have to; obligatory, required
čáečáe a obsequious, falsely cheerful [‘smile-smile’]
čaelu n tea [‘tea beverage’, the first syllable is Uyseʔ]
čáŋ a hungry; be hungry
čǎŋ v seize, capture; loot; imprison
čǎŋčó n prison, jail [‘seizure house’]
čào n blood
čàorǔ n ruby [‘blood jewel’]
čàosí v menstruate [‘piss blood’]
čǎr v drag; bore, tire
če v damage, injure, wound
čé a green
čě v accept, receive
čéhás n an iridescent green beetle; a woman’s name [‘green-beetle’]
čeče v torment, torture, abuse
čén n back
čérǔ n jade [‘green jewel’]
čětɛ n husband [‘accepted one’]
četrǔŋ v punish
četrǔŋŋâ n hell [‘punishment realm’]
čɛ n root
čɛ̌ n a gerbil-like rodent, very busy, numerous, and easily caught
čɛ̌hǎs n an amusing but useless fellow; boy toy [‘gerbil-dude’]
čɛ́n v offer, present; propose (as a candidate or spouse)
čɛnɛ̀ q 48 [‘across hand’]
čɛ́ŋ n tool, utensil
čɛ̀ŋ q every, all
čɛ̀ŋbo pr everything
Čɛ̀ŋhɔ́ n the All-Soul or universal soul (the Divinity in orthodox theology)
čɛ̀ŋhon a having all attributes (said of Divinity)
čɛ̀ŋlɔ pr everyone, everybody
čɛ̀ŋnɛ pr always
čɛ̀ŋnèn pr everywhere
čɛr n/q hand; four; length measurement of 4 kráɔ = 6.984 cm
čɛs q plus four (combining form)
čɛ̀s a tired of being pregnant
či v tick, click
čǐ a fat
čì v shout, exclaim
čǐ v itch, aggravate
čibrɛ̀ŋ n clock [‘tick machine’]
čǐčǐ n louse [‘itch-itch’]
čiŋ q half
čín n fish
čìŋ n season, time; situation, state of affairs
čǐr a chubby, portly [‘fat’ + dim.]
čo v sink, immerse
čó n house
čǒ v splash; chatter
čô n cap, hat
čódin n street [‘between houses’]
čóhù n door [‘house entry’]
čołu a sunken
čóná pp (towards) home [‘house direction’]
čɔŋ pp during (through the entirety of a time period)
čɔ̌ŋ n cousin: older female in same age cohort within jɔ
čor cl purpose case marker
čór n hut, cabin [‘little house’]
čú a still, calm; a river in Belesao
čù v suck
čù n an unknown plant referred to in the Ùrlǔ
čúdɛ a slightly anxious or upset [‘not-still’]
čun v perceive; read
čùŋ v throw, toss
čùŋbís n a game involving throwing pebbles at a target
čùŋké n artillery (as a section of the army)
čûr n revenge
jǎɔ čûr na take revenge (victim in dative)
čus v shoot (arrows), fling
da v orate, give a speech
v like, enjoy
n leaf
dabà v converse, talk [redup. of da]
dàčɛ́ŋ n plate, dish [‘leaf-tool’, i.e. a leaf used as a plate]
dadǐŋ n conversation, talk, speech
dàe n story, tale
dâe a best, top, élite
dán n (raw) clay
dàn n ceramic, fired clay
daŋ v cut
daɔ a bright; white
dǎɔ n glory
daɔhès n steel [‘white metal’]
dáɔr v sculpt, carve
dáɔrbo n sculpture
dǎr n girl (above 11, unmarried), maiden
dás a together
dásčó n nunnery, monastery [‘together house’]
dásłó n military nationalistm of 3500s
dáslɔ n nun
dásnâr v (act in) harmony, cooperate; name of an early dynasty [‘work together’]
dástɛ n monk
de v strip, peel; remove, take off (clothing)
desú n stripcorn [‘strip-grain’, as the covering must be removed]
v come or go by boat
cl not
dɛ̀ n compassion, mercy
dɛ́ŋ pt no, not
dɛ́ŋrɛ̀ n a young girl given to contradicting her elders [‘no-girl’]
v laugh
a wise
dìdɛ a unwise, imprudent
díje a funny, amusing [‘of laughs’]
din pp between, amid, among
dǐŋ n word; speech, term, expression
díŋbís n word game, esp. a guessing game
Dìpàŋ n the Book of Wisdom, orthodox synthesis by Línɛ
dítɔ̌ŋ v joke [‘laugh-say’]
dláe v decide, commit
dlán v foresee, foretell
dlánłu a foreseen, predicted
dlánłudɛ a unforeseen, unpredicted, unexpected
dláo adv more than; very
dlàɔ n face
dlǎɔ a slow
dlǎɔlɛ̌r a dim-witted; tongue-tied [‘slow tongue’]
dlàɔná pp facing; face to face; directly
dlàɔsê n painted face decoration of Jɔ́sists [‘face-paint’]
dlé n iliu
dlɛ̀ a soft
dlɛ̀n n conduct, behavior, manners
dlɛ̌n v reveal, show
dlɛ̌ntɔ̌ŋ v interpret; translate into Lé
Dlɛ́s n a god of the mountains, thus of wildness and unconventionality, depicted as seductive and anarchic
dlɛ̂s v sew
dlǐ n bird
dlídi n spider
dlin a busy, active, crowded
dlindɛ a not busy or crowded, inactive
dlîŋ n mud, slime
dliŋlɔ n promiscuous woman, ‘man-izer’ [‘mud woman’]
dlís v save, rescue
dlǐs v split, divide
dlǐsbo n wall [‘divider’]
dlǐsłu a split, divided
dlò v vomit
dlòje a disgusting, sickening [‘vomitous’]
dlɔ́r v pull; interpret, deduce
dlùn v flow; current; drift (downstream)
dlùnná pp downriver
dlur v rub, stroke
n lime, chalk
v death, die
n the old god of death
dółu n parchment [dółu trír ‘limed (i.e. not tanned) hide’]
dòłu a dead
don a sure, certain
dòná pp west [‘sunset direction’]
dòŋǎ n this world, Almea [‘death world’]
dòŋàɔ n corpse [‘die-body’]
dòŋǎje a worldly, earthly, non-spiritual, mortal
dòsɛ̀ n cemetary, funerary complex [‘death city’]
a dedicated, loyal
dɔ́ n clitoris
dɔdɛ a disloyal
dɔ̀n cj therefore, thus
dɔr cl far previous time
dɔrčìŋ n the past [‘previous season’]
drae cl in a moment, about to
drán v extend, stretch
dránłu a extende, stretched
Dránłułó n Sâɔist school emphasizing sex worship and technique
drào pr we few
drás v sneak
drìs pr you few
drě n vine
drê v own, possess, have
drêdɛ a ascetic, modest [calque on Uyseʔ syalen]
drèŋ pr those few
drɛ̌ v learn
drɛ̌ jî na learn to swim
drɛ́s a skillful, skilled, able
drɛ́sdɛ a maladroit, clumsy, unskilled
drin v freeze
drinje a frozen
drinłǎ n ice [‘frozen water’]
drintlù v snow [‘freeze-rain’]
dró a mature, adult
drɔ̌ v dance
drɔ̌n v hold, keep; maintain, aver
drɔ̌nčɛ́ŋ n fork [‘hold-tool’]
drɔ̌nké n defense garrison [‘holding group’]
drɔŋ n sword
drɔŋplè n mercenary [‘sell sword’]
drù v carry; hang (things)
drǔ n tree cat, a small feline predator (cf. V. arkoša)
drùku n strap, sling (held over the shoulder for carrying things) [‘hang-band’]
drûr n monster
drûrsàɔ n wilderness, virgin forest [‘monster-country’]
v shiver; orgasm (of women)
è intj ouch! ow!; oy
éŋ pr she, her
es pr her, hers
ɛ pt uh (prolongs a turn or marks dispreferreds)
adv just, only
v bloom, blossom; blaze
hàbɔr n a man with a nice body but an ugly face [‘only below’]
háčà n truca oil
háe v surprise
hǎe n mind, thought
hǎeje n rational, rationalist, intellectual, pragmatic
Hǎełó n pragmatic or rationalist school of philosophy [‘mind school’]
hǎenâr v imagine, create [‘mind-make’]
hǎenârłu a imaginary, fantastic, unreal
hǎerɛn v understand, grasp [‘mind-follow’]
hán n meet
hàn v hate
háɔ n elder (of a family); chief (of a gang)
hàɔ n parrot; name of a river and the people inhabiting its valley
hàɔhór n patriarch [Uyseʔ hyauhyor ‘grandfather’]
Hàɔní n the capital of Hàoráŋ
Hàɔráŋ n a nation in the Hàɔ valley
hàɔsú n top, blouse [Uyseʔ hyausu]
háɔtɛ n elder’s husband
haprùr n turban [Uyseʔ hafrul]
hàr a just, fair
hàrdɛ a unjust, unfair
hás n beetle
hǎs n nose; (slang) dude, guy
hǎskɔ̀s a gay, homosexual (of males) [‘above a dude’]
hǎskɔ̀stɛ n gay man
n goods, merchandise
Héjùs n a city at the confluence of the Lɛn and the Čú [‘goods place’, i.e. ‘trading post’]
hénèn n warehouse [‘goods building’]
héŋ pp near
héŋje a near, nearby
héŋjɛ̀ n armor strengthened with metal bands [‘infantry armor’]
héŋké n infantry, sword and spear component of an army [‘near group’]
héŋmǐ v look over, size up; flirt (of women) [‘near-see’]
héŋnâr n care, attention [‘near work’]
jǎɔ héŋnâr na work or act with great care
hés n metal ore
hès n (refined) metal
hétáo n trade, commerce [‘move goods’]
hɛ́ a familiar
hɛ̀ n coast
hɛ̀bús n maritime chart; large-scale map [‘coast drawing’]
hɛ́n n inner peace, serenity [Uy. hyem]
hɛ́nèn n one’s haunts; neighborhood [‘familiar place’]
Hɛ́nsɔ̀r n the Hyemsur religion or philosophy
hɛ̀ŋ v count
hɛ̌ŋ n finger
Herdúr n Verduria [Keb. Verdura]
hɛs n scar
hɛ́s n bark (of tree)
a tight; 40
n cane, reed; pen
hibo pr that thing
hídà n a fast-growing reed grown for biofuel
hìn n gold
hina pr that
hir pr that person
Hír n one of the old gods, associated with wisdom
hír n omen, sign [from Hír]
hîr v need (subj = object needed, dat = who needs it)
his q that
hisdǐŋ n the former; what was said a moment ago [‘those words’]
ho v use, employ
adv less than; not very
hǒho adv much less than; least
hon n attribute, property
hón v expand, swell
hòn n silk
hónbɔr n testicles [‘under penis’]
hóndaŋ n geld (of animals); cut or damage the penis as a punishment
hónmo n penis [‘expanding organ’]
hónplè n male prostitute [‘sell penis’]
Hònpó n the silk islands off Mǎɔráŋ
hôŋ a multicolored
hôŋhàɔ n a type of parrot [‘multicolored parrot’]
jǎɔ hôŋhàɔ na babble, prattle
hór n dick, cock; (slang) dude, man [dim. of ‘penis’]
hós v walk, come or go by foot
hóstɔ̌ŋ v greet, introduce (a speech or article) [‘come-speak’]
hɔ́ n spirit, soul
hɔ́je a spiritual, immaterial
Honslīnár n Neinuoi [Uyseʔ Ħomswiʔnyounar]
hɔŋ v be sitting, be relaxed
hɔ́r v choose; order, ask for
hɔ́rłu a chosen; one’s chosen goddess
v enter, join; entry; occur (ideas, events); object takes dative
huhín n pump [Uyseʔ fuħin]
hùlɔ n wife [‘enter (i.e. marry)-woman’]
hun n breeze, light wind
hùn pt reflexive prefix
hùnčɛ́n v present oneself; flirt (of men)
Hunhɛ̀ n the leading city of Nérsàɔ [‘windy coast’]
hùnsaɔr v regret, repent [‘leave oneself’]
hùnu n government, administration [Keb. vunu]
húŋ n smoke
hur v breathe, breath [‘little wind’]
hùro a by marriage, -in-law [‘in entrance (i.e. marriage)’]
hùs a weak, fragile, wimpy (as a female)
í a thin, narrow
ì intj hello!
jǎɔ ì na greet
in pt member of, person who
inbandrás n groper, a man who touches too much or inappropriately
inbédɛ̀ n sage, saint, especially in Hyemsur [‘person of great compassion’]
inblû n enemy, opponent [‘oppose-person’]
inbràe n lawyer [‘law person’]
inbraŋ n rememberer (in ancient times, an assistant who remembered entire texts for you); scribe
inbun n servant [‘serve person’]
inhéŋ n infantry soldier [‘near person’]
inłó n student, novice, apprentice
injɔ n member of the same jɔ
injǔŋ n gangster, bandit, pirate
inkú n grape wine [Keb. ingu]
inmán n philosopher [‘wise person’]
inmɛ̀ŋ n teacher [‘teach-person’]
innà n friend [‘heart-person’]
innâr n craftsperson, artisan [‘craft-person’]
innù n lover, concubine [‘love-person’]
inplè n vendor, seller
inplɛ́s n thief, robber, burglar [‘steal person’]
inprãr n criminal, culprit, villain
inrɛn n follower; believer
inrɛ̀s n fighter; warrior, soldier (of any branch) [‘fight person’]
insîbó n spy [‘spy person’]
insòŋ n archer [‘far person’]
insùŋdlán n geomancer
intáo n trader, merchant
intùn n a man who always seems to be fighting other men [‘quarreler’]
íŋ n waist
îr pt general honorific
ís pr you (singular)
is pr your (singular)
Ìsu n a god, associated with beauty, youth, and innocence
ìsuje a having the delicate beauty and hesitant manner associated with early (male) youth
ja v fall or hit suddenly (e.g. branches against face)
v cheat
jàfà n an aromatic herb, proof against insects
n niece (daugher of a sister)
jàe n lightning
jan n council, meeting
jàn v appoint; choose (for a task) (task uses purposive)
janlo n councilwoman, member of parliament
Jansɛ̀ n capital of Belesao [‘meeting city’]
jantló n president
jaŋ q one third
jáŋ a shocking, outrageous
jàɔ pr we two
jǎɔ v do, act like (verbalizer); cook
jâo n trick, ruse
jàr n gallene (type of turkey)
jás n ginger
jǎsáŋ n niece’s daughter [‘niece-daughter’]
je cl of, belonging to
a strong, strength
jédɛ̀ n compassionate strength (of an ideal warrior)
jéŋ pr those two; both
jês n right side; the right thumb; 32
jêsje a right-hand; on the right
n sand
jɛ̀ n nawr leather; armor
jɛ̂n a kind, nice
jɛ̂ndɛ a unkind, rude
jɛ̀s v visit, go see, meet with (+dat)
v put, set, hand over
pt expresses surprise or appreciation
v swim
jîjùs n swimming hole, swimming pool [‘swim place’]
jin a high, noble
Jǐn n chief of the old gods
jinlɔ n noblewoman, landlady [‘high woman’]
jinnèn n mansion, noblewoman’s residence or palace [‘noble building’]
jintràŋ n empress [‘high queen’]
Jíŋ n an ambitious and haughty goddess
jîr v ask
jîrdǐŋ n question
jís pr you two
jo n jaguar (type of large predatory cat)
Joní n a city on the Lɛn [‘jaguar gate’]
joŋ a sweet, sugary [originally the word for sugarcane]
joŋhì n sugarcane (a type of reed with a sweet core)
jotú n rifter [‘jaguar people’]
n family (an elder, her descendants, and their spouses); also used for temples, army units, gangs
jɔčɛ̌ v marry (for females); induct (into a gang or institution) [‘band accept’]
jɔhù v marry (for males; female takes dat), marriage; be inducted into (a gang or institution) [‘band entry’]
jɔlɔ n female family member
jɔ̀ŋ a smart, clever
jɔr n neck
jɔ́r a previous
jɔ́rnɛ n yesterday [‘previous day’]
jɔs n hair
Jɔ́s n the supreme deity in Jɔ́sism [from Linaic]
Jɔ́stlu n Jɔ́sism
jɔ̌s n front
jɔ̌sná pp in front of, before
ju a dry
q one
jučìŋ n the dry season
judà n paper [‘dry leaf’]
judrɛ̌ n rope [‘dry vine’]
jûje a only, sole
jûłu a united; federal, national
jun a natural, normal, to be expected (even if not typical)
jùn v be standing, be erect
jûn n type of mushroom; cock, dick; asshole, prick
jundɛ a unusual, strange, abnormal
júŋ q some, a few
jǔŋ n gang, band; (archaic) wild, lawless
júŋbo pr something
júŋhon a particular, individual; (of deities) specific, non-universal [‘some attributes’]
júŋlɔ pr someone, somebody
júŋnɛ pr sometime, occasionally
júŋnèn pr somewhere
jùr q three
jûs q plus one (combining form)
jùs n camp, place dedicated to an activity; neighborhood (of a city)
jùs q plus three (combining form)
jùsčó n inn, hotel [‘camp-house’]
jûhɛ̌ŋ n left little finger; (v) point [‘one-finger’]
n dirt, soil
n a malignant goddess
kâdǐŋ n curse [‘word of Kâ’]
kae n family elder (woman of grandmother’s generation not the háɔ)
káe n mountain
kàɔ n honor, respect; (politics) nationalist
kǎɔ a rich, wealthy
kàɔdɛ a dishonorable, worthless
Kàɔjan n senate, upper house after 3562
kâɔrir a virgin (a term largely restricted to the sex trade) [Kebreni gauryr]
Kapáłà n the nation of Qapalya
n group, corps; army; political party
kéjan n military council, junta; the 3547 revolution
kɛ̌kè n refreshment, relaxation; name of a city
kêŋ n keng nut
kér n well-formed male ass; cute guy
kerán n leader of a Hyemsurist school [Uyseʔ keʔram]
pt suffix forming ordinals
kɛ̀ a open, opened
Kɛbrì n Kebri [Kebreni]
kɛ̀jɔ n gang (euphemism) [‘open family’]
kɛ̌ŋ n older sister
kɛs pp outside, out of
kɛsje a outer; foreign
kɛslɔ n outsider, foreigner
kɛsná n outside, exterior
kɛsŋǎ n the exterior or physical world
kɛsrè n the way of kɛsŋǎ, i.e. pursuing merely physical goals
kɛssò n retail price; gross profit [‘outer price’]
kɛstɔ̌ŋ v speak a foreign language; translate (into a foreign language)
n instant, moment
v hear, listen (sound in acc., person in abl.)
kìn v spank, swat
kis a other, another
kisbo pr something else, another thing, the other
kiskrɔ adv otherwise, some other way [‘other’ + instr.]
kislɔ pr someone else, another person, the other
kisná adv the other way, in the other direction; (n) length measurement of 8 kráɔ = 13.97 cm
kisnɛ pr some other time, another time
kisnèn pr elsewhere
klae cl later on (near past)
klâe v prepare or process (for further work or cooking); gut (a fish or animal); ferment (streff to reduce toxins, or the first stage in making beer); draft (a paper)
klâełu a prepared or porcessed (for further work); rudimentary
kláɔ a safe, solid
klàɔ v display, show; have for sale or use; ready (a weapon)
klāɔ pran na string a bow
kláɔdɛ a unsafe, risky
klè n a poison found in the jungle
klě v wear, be wearing; have (skin, plumage, decorations)
klɛ̀ŋ n an older man
klɛ̌s n platform, table
klí n star
klîs v be used to, accustomed to; habit, custom
klo n snake
klós v mock, deride
klɔ́r n rage at someone for being the same way for years on end
klùŋ v hate, despise
ko a young
kočìŋ n youth
kokó a idiotic, epic fail [Uyseʔ khokho ‘stupid’]
kos n value, worth, virtue
n skill
kɔr pt just now, a moment ago
kɔr v mark, signal, indicate
kɔ̀s pp over, above, on (top of)
kɔ̀skɔ̀s a overbearing, supercilious
kɔ̀sje a superior, upper
kɔ̀stló n military officer [‘over-leader’]
krǎ n branch
krâe a blue
krâerǐŋ a Adurise (i.e. southern race) [‘blue-skin’]
krán n fiasco, fuckup [Uyseʔ khram ‘bother’]
krǎná pp upward (in a tree) [‘branch side’]
kráɔ n fingernail, toenail; base length measurement (1.746 cm)
kràɔ n salt
kràɔjùs n salt flat [‘salt place’]
krǎr v practice, test
kre cl imperative particle
krê n deed, action, feat
krɛ̀ n left side; the left thumb; 16
krɛ̀je a left-hand; on the left
krɛn cl here
krɛnná pp on this side (of)
krɛ̌s v tie, tie down
kri a full; packed, overflowing; complete
kribún n pace (step with both feet); length measurement of 48 kráɔ = 83.8 cm [‘complete foot']
krìdi n printed book [Keb. kriidi]
krìdiłó n printing
krìdibrɛ̀ŋ n printing press
krin cl until, up to
kriniŋ n area measurement (73.6 ha) ['full turn']
krò v end, finish
kròje a last, final
kròłu a finished, done, over with
kroŋ a stupid, dumb
Kròŋǎkáe n the high mountains south of Belesao [‘end of the world mountains’]
kror a dim, not bright [‘stupid’ + dim.]
krordɛ a not clever but not stupid either
krɔ cl instrumental case marker
krɔ̀ v thunder
krɔ̀čùŋ n cannon [‘thunder-catapult’]
krɔn n raft, punt, cargo boat
krɔ̌ŋ v ladle, serve
krɔ̌ŋčɛ́ŋ n ladle, spoon [‘serve-tool’]
krɔ̌ŋčɛ́r n small spoon
krɔ̀prùr n gunpowder [‘thunder dust’]
krɔ̀tlá n gun, musket [‘thunder-hurl’]
krɔ̀r n type of long bean; sheath
kru cj rather than, and not
krú n liver; source of base (more masculine) emotions
krúprô a anxious about being a father for the first time
krútle a irrational, emotional, masculine[‘liverish’]
ku n strip, band
a pregnant
kûn a bold, brave, daring
kûndɛ a cowardly (of females)
kúŋ n Uytainese [‘Krwŋ’]
Kúŋsàɔ n Uytai [‘Krwŋ country’]
kùr v aim; steer, navigate (a ship)
kùrhès n magnet; compass [‘steering metal’]
kùrłó n navigation [‘aim study’]
kûr n wheel [Uyseʔ kwer]
kûrkrɔn n wagon, cart [‘wheel-raft’]
la cl causative
láe q second
lâe n virtue, decency
láepɔ̌ŋ n resentment over having to permanently take a second position [‘second-disease’]
lâetɛ n the ideal husband (esp. in the devotion cults, submissive to the point of grotesquerie)
lamítɛ n (slang) hottie, a man who makes you swoon [‘makes wet’]
lán n grace
làn v bite
làɔ v set aside; pay rent or taxes
làɔr n portion; rent, taxes
n an ethnonym, originally a dynasty (the root of Belesao)
ledí n lens; glasses [Keb. leidi]
ledíłó n optics
Léłas n the Lé Sea (gulf of the ocean just north of Belesao)
lèlěs n wing [redup. of ‘feather’]
lěs n feather
Létɔ̌ŋ n the language of Belesao
a female
Lɛn n the main river of Belesao
lɛ̌r n tongue
lɛ̌rmɔ́r n cunnilingus [‘tongue-labia’]
a happy
Lín n a goddess of playful, uncareful, and lustful personality
línhù v screw, have sex with (vulgar; of males) [‘enter pussy’]
línmo n female genitals, vulva [‘Lín organ’]
línnɔ n vagina [‘genitals-interior’]
líŋ a good
líŋŋáe n favor, esteem [‘good eye’]
líŋnɛ n holiday [‘good day’]
líŋrɔ̌ŋ n lusty lad, nice piece of ass [‘good crotch’]
Líŋsàɔ n paradise [‘good country’]
lîs n lake
lír n pussy [dim. of Lín]
lîr n pond
lírhù v fuck, have sex with (very vulgar; of males) [‘enter vagina’]
lón q 512 (10008); a battalion of 512 soldiers
loŋ v wonder, marvel
loŋje a wonderful, marvelous
los a carefree, easygoing
n woman, matron; wife
lɔkos n personal merit, character, temperament [‘person-worth’]
lɔlɔ n crowd, people [redup. of ‘woman’]
lɔ̂n v hurt, harm
lɔnù n lesbianism, lesbian sex [‘woman-love’]
lɔnùlɔ n lesbian
lɔs v live, reside
lɔtɛ n human being [‘woman-man’]
v birth; be born
v sing
n a god of ambiguous gender, musical, vain [‘song’]
lǔdǐŋ n song, music (as sounds)
lùje a by birth, natal
lùje nás a man’s father by birth (as opposed to his father-in-law)
lǔłó n music (as an art) [‘song study’]
lǔlɔ n musician
Lùłɔ̌r n the mountains east of Mɔłɔsɔu [‘east elcari’]
lún n hole; window
lùná pp east [‘sunrise direction’]
Lùní n the capital of Ânhɛ̀ [‘east port’]
Lǔpɛ n a name for the old god Hír [‘singing god’]
lûr n younger sister
lús v find
lǔtɛ n bard (of hunter/gatherer times); male musician
łá n enthusiasm, excitement
łǎ n water; juice, liquid
łâ a lucky
làe n peace
łán v run a family or institution from a secondary position
łáɔ v dream
łàɔ v wrap, fold; dress, put on (clothes)
łàɔdɛ a naked for religious reasons [‘clothes-less’]
łàɔrá n skirt; clothes, outfit [‘wrap-cloth’]
łár a drunk [dim. of ‘water’]
łárdǐŋ n a joke that’s only funny when you’re drunk [‘drunk-word’]
łas n sea, ocean; also worshipped as a (male) god, wild, strong, and conceited
łasdrûr n ktuvok [‘sea monster’]
łasje n marine, maritime; narcissistic, exciting and wild but dangerous
Łaskrɛnsàɔ n Arcél [for Łaskrɛnnásàɔ ‘this side of sea land’]
łasná pp north [‘sea direction’]
Łasnɛ̀sàɔ n Ereláe [‘across sea land’]
łasní n port, harbor [‘sea gate’]
Łata n a city in Mɔłɔsɔu [Hake Lyata ‘city’]
łǎtrô n swamp rat [‘water rat’]
łe n fire, flame
łéŋ pr they, them
łɛ v rot, spoil, become corrupt
łɛ̀ n monsoon
łɛłu a rotten, spoiled, corrupted; (in Jɔ́sism) the powers that be, the corrupt establishment
łɛłudɛ a unspoiled, uncorrupted
łɛ̌n n dinner, (main) meal
łɛ́ŋ adv much more than; most
łɛ̀r n a long light dress in Uytainese style [Uyseʔ hler]
łɛ́s n roof, ceiling
łɛ́sná pp upstairs, upward
łi n an ethnonym for a western Bé people, locally łei [from Łima]
łìn v kiss
Łima n the main river in Łeisau [from Linaic]
Łimaní n the capital of Łeisau
Łimatú n the Linaic people of the upper Łei [‘Łima people’]
łin cl like, in the way of
łíŋ n adept, graduate (of a school or workshop)
łís pr you all (more than a few)
łìs a merry, joyful
Łisàɔ n the nation of Łeisau
łó v study
Łójùs n Schools Quarter
łónèn n school, seminary [‘study building’]
łɔ̌ v there is, there are; exist, be (existential)
łón a newly and happily pregnant
łɔŋ v go (on business, for some time, but with the expectation of returning)
łɔ̌r n elcar
łɔ̂s md may (be allowed); allowed, permissible
łu cl past tense
łuhì n streff
łun v meditate, reflect
łún n circle
łuŋ n year
łùr q 4096 (10,0008); an army of 4096 soldiers
łùrjan n high council of the old Lé army [‘council of łùr’]
łùrtró n general (commander of a łùr)
łǔr n guts, intestines
łûs v permit, allow
łusa n fermented streff
pt question particle
màe n mistress (of an institution), abbess
mâe v braid, plait
mâeku n (narrow) waistband [‘braided band’]
màeŋor n bossy boy; a boy who acts like a girl [‘mistress-boy’]
mahés n female prostitute [Keb. maḣec]
mán q no, none, not any of
mǎn v attack, assault
mánbo pr nothing
mǎnde v strip and abuse (a punishment or humiliation meted out by women on each other) [‘attack-strip’]
mánhon a ineffable, undescribable; (philosophy) not assignable to human categories [‘without attributes’]
mánlɔ pr no one, nobody
mánnɛ pr never
mánnèn pr nowhere
màɔ a old
màɔčìŋ n old age [‘old season’]
Mǎɔmê n the capital of Mǎɔráŋ [‘Mǎɔ mouth’]
Mǎɔ n a river in Mǎɔráŋ; the Beic ethnic group living there
Mǎɔráŋ n a Beic nation [‘Mau valley’]
mar pt now
mǎr pt tentative question particle [má + diminutive]
mǎs n sun, Ënomai; length measurement of 8 niŋ = 6.866 km
Mǎsdɛjùs n the Unsunlit Quarter of Jansɛ̀ [‘sun-not-place’, due to the darkness of its narrow streets]
mǎsdò n sunset, dusk; evening [‘sun death’]
Mǎsdòkáe n the western mountains [‘sunset mountains’]
mǎslù n sunrise, dawn [‘sun birth’]
Mǎslùkáe n the mountains separating Belesao from Mɔłɔsɔu [‘sunrise mountains’]
n mouth; delta, river mouth
n cat
mêhón n fellatio [‘mouth-penis’]
měr n kitty, kitten [‘cat’ + dim.]
mɛ̂n v discard, throw out, leave (an object)
mɛ̌ŋ n idea; mental image, imagination
cl about, as to, regarding; than
mɛ̌ pt well... (marker for dispreferreds)
mɛ̀ŋ v teach, instruct (student in dative, topic in acc.)
mɛ̌s a blunt, dull
v see, look at; regard
mîn n tree
mínmê n treemouth, a large, agile lizard which hunts in trees
mînnèn n rain forest, jungle (i.e. the Bé environment) [‘tree-place’]
míŋ a radiant, brilliant; brightly colored; (politics) liberal
mír n jug, jar, bottle
mîr v serve, contribute
mímí a wet, sexually excited
mo n organ, feature
cj but, however
cl disposal clitic
moŋ n lip
mɔ̀ a hard
mɔ̌ n refresh, restore, stimulate
mɔ̀čɛ n hardroot [‘hard root’]
mɔ̀lɔ n an ethnonym for an eastern Beic people [‘hard women’]
Mɔ̀lɔsàɔ n the Beic nation east of Belesao, native Mɔłɔsɔu [‘Mɔłɔ nation’]
mɔ̀nɔ̌ n a fruit resembling pineapple [‘hard fruit’]
mɔ́ŋ n bone
mɔ́ŋtle a bony
mɔ́ŋtlùs n a man who tries to help but only makes things worse [‘bony elbow’]
mɔ̌páŋ n lunch, supper (subsidiary meal) [‘refresh-meal’]
mɔ́r n labia
mɔ̀tlìn v rule as a tyrant [‘hard-rule’]
mɔ̀tló n tyrant, dictator [‘hard-mistress’]
mûn n nawr bull
mûnje a stubborn or dangerous like a nawr bull
múr n a type of tree
na cl accusative case marker
n direction, side
n heart; seat of intuition and will
v spring, hop
nàdòłu a damned, unenlightened [‘dead heart’]
nae pp apart from, except, without
náe n pride
naečár n opening bid; an unreasonable proposal, esp. one meant to snag the unwary [Uyseʔ nyoytsal ‘selling price’]
nàje a disciplined, determined, intuitive, feminine [‘of the heart’]
nàłó n interiorist or skeptical movement philosophy [‘heart school’]
nàn a royal, governmental
nân n tooth
nânłún n gear [‘toothed-circle’]
nànnèn n palace [‘royal building’]
nânnon n customs duty [‘royal share’]
nàŋ a handsome, beautiful (of males)
nàɔ pt honorific for royals
nǎpran n crossbow [‘spring-bow’]
nâr v work; make or craft
Nârjùs n Craft Quarter (of Jansɛ̀ and other cities)
nârnèn n workshop, factory
nàro a secret [‘in heart’]
nás n father (i.e. mother’s husband)
n sorghum
v smell
nèn n building, place
Nér n one of the old gods; ethnonym for the people of eastern Belesao
Nérsàɔ n the nation of the Nér
n day
nɛ̀ pp across
nɛ̂ v fear, be afraid of
nɛ̂nà n cowardice [‘fear-heart’]
nɛ̂nàje a cowardly
nɛ̂nɛ̂ v be scared shitless of
nɛ̀r n hip
nɛ̀rrá n decorative loincloth (worn over the skirt) [‘hip-cloth’]
n gate, portal; port
nín v search, seek
nîn v bring; produce, cause
Nìntú n Nyandai [Nyan + ‘people’]
nînhé n produce, production, yield; results
nìní n mouse
niŋ v turn; length measurement of 858 m
nîr v touch affectionately and intimately but without wanting to have sex
nîrdɛtɛ a a sàtɛ who no longer touches you
n grandmother
non v share
nonnèn n customs office
pp in
nɔ̌ n fruit
nɔje a inner, interior
nɔná n inside, interior
nɔ́ŋ a feeling slow and bloated (esp. by pregnancy)
nɔŋǎ n the spirit realm underlying this world [‘inner world’]
tǎn nɔŋǎ na become enlightened; pass on, leave the mortal world
nɔŋàɔ n avatar, incarnation [‘embodiment’]
nɔ̀r v push upriver, drag upstream
nɔrè n the way of nɔŋǎ— pursuing righteousness without asceticism
nɔ̀rná pp upriver
nɔsò n wholesale price, producer’s cost; net profit [‘inner price’]
nɔtǎn n enlightenment, spiritual discernment; death of the body [‘inner (world) knowledge’]
nu n air
v rise; lift, raise
v love, appreciate
jǎɔ nù na make love
núhoŋ v get up (from a lying to a sitting position), wake up [‘rise-sit’]
nújùn v stand up, get up [‘rise-stand]
númǎs n morning [‘sun rising sun’]
nún n womb, uterus
nurúrnèn n a Hyemsurist study center [half-calque on Uyseʔ nrulso]
núsùŋ n hill [‘rising land’]
ŋá n breast
ŋǎ n world
ŋáe n eye
ŋâe n granddaughter
ŋǎe n glyph, character [Uyseʔ nwai]
ŋâekriniŋ n area measurement of 1/64 kriniŋ = 1.15 ha [‘granddaughter kriniŋ’]
ŋâeniŋ n length measurement of 1/64 niŋ = 670.4 m [‘granddaughter turn’]
ŋan md habitual, habitually
ŋán n ship, boat
Ŋánjùs n the Ship Quarter (neighborhood near the docks)
ŋánnèn n wharf, pier, dock; a Lé city [‘boat place’]
ŋántló n ship captain
ŋàɔ n body, flesh; physical, material
ŋǎɔ v swarm, infest, haunt (occupy a place in a bothersome way)
ŋàɔje a physical; real (not imaginary)
ŋàɔmɛ̌ŋ n icon, image [‘physical idea’]
ŋáɔr n the nawr ox
ŋar n farm cat; a woman’s name
ŋás n streff milk
ŋássa n fermented ŋás
ŋé pt used for ironic or sarcastic questions
ŋê v worry, be anxious
Ŋɛ̌ n one of Belesao’s rivers; an old god [apparently an old word for the mínmê lizard]
Ŋɛ̌sɛ̀ n a city at the mouth of the Ŋě
ŋɛ́ v caress, fondle
ŋɛ̀ v desire, want
ŋɛ̌n n a type of epidemic or plague which appeared in the 2700s
ŋɛŋ n lacquer
ŋɛ́ŋɛ́ v have sex with (partner in comit.)
ŋɛ́n v bow, bend; ritual of reverence
ŋɛŋhé n lacquerware [‘lacquer goods’]
ŋɛpo pr this thing
ŋɛr pr this person
ŋɛs q this, these
ŋɛ̀s a straight
ŋɛ̀saɔr n novice in a religious institution [‘want-leave’]
ŋɛsdǐŋ n the latter, what was just said [‘these words’]
Ŋɛsdǐŋ na tɔ̌ŋ That’s what I say; so I say; believe it
ŋɛsŋɛ n today [‘this day’]
ŋi a little, small
ŋì v twist, coil; spin (cloth)
ŋín n a type of large perfumed flower
ŋir n murk, muck
ŋirdǐŋ a insincere, duplicitous [‘murk-word’]
ŋír md might, maybe; possible
ŋǐs n knife, blade
ŋisò a cheap [‘small price’]
Ŋisú n a goddess (of sunny and helpful disposition)
ŋó v roll, roll up
ŋódà n sweet roll, dessert roll [‘roll-leaf’]
Ŋòŋ n a god, depicted as a small naked fat man, associated with misery and degradation
ŋor n boy (under 12)
ŋôr n ball; a projectile for a catapult
ŋôrbís n ball game
ŋôrčùŋ n catapult [‘ball-throw’]
ŋòs n caterpillar
ŋɔ́ n nipple
ŋǔ a wet, moist
ŋú v beg
ŋúlɔ n beggar
ŋù v swallow; (slang) have sex with a man
ŋûn n aunt: younger sister of mother
ŋur n flat
ŋǔr a horny, aroused [‘a little wet’]
ŋurbo n sandal [‘flat thing’]
ó a beautiful, lovely (of females)
ôn n ancestor (any deceased member of one’s jɔ)
ór v start, begin
os n chest, trunk
ɔ̌s n a large bird whose male is noted for extravagant plumage
ɔ̌stɛ n a male ɔ̌s; a man who bosses his wife around
ɔ n flower
ɔ̌ intj acknowledgment
ɔ̀ŋ a still; ongoing
v stop (to stop someone is a causative)
v be (predicative)
pǎe md hypothetically, supposing, if
pàn n an ethnonym for the people of upper Belesao
Pànkrê n the ancient epic of Belesao
páŋ n food, meal
pàŋ n book [Uyseʔ pham]
páɔ n vision
paɔró n provocation, paradox (esp. as spiritual teaching) [Uyseyʔ pyauhroy]
papa n baby
pǎr n dynasty
pás a enough, sufficient
pàs v break, malfunction, not work
pâs n the west; the westernmost Beic people
pàshón n impotent man
pàsłu a broken
Pâsní n the main city of Pahsau, locally Pahni [‘west port’]
Pâssàɔ n the westernmost Beic nation, locally Pahsau
a crazy, mad
v fly
n goddess, god; (esp. in philosophy) Divinity
pɛ̌ v float, drift (in the air)
pɛbru a afflicted by the gods [‘goddess-lame’]
pɛčó n temple [‘god-house’]
pɛje a divine, godly
pɛlɔ n priest, priestess [‘god-woman’]
pɛnae a godless, immoral [‘without goddess’]
pɛ̀ŋ m nephew
pɛpé a insane, deranged, cursed by the gods [‘goddess-crazy’]
pɛpɔ̌ŋ a mortally ill; sick as a dog [‘goddess-sick’]
pɛ̌s v owe
pɛ̌ssò n debt [‘owe-money’]
pɛ̌té n petay, a weed and the cloth made from its seeds [‘float-brush’]
pín v grasp with the beak or muzzle; fuck (of females)
pláe n soup
plâɔ n belly, stomach
plè v sell
plɛ̀ŋ v tread on, trip on
plɛ̀ŋ bún na get in the way, be a handful
plɛ́s v steal, rob
plɛ́słu a stolen, illicit
plî v ford, wade
plîjùs n ford, crossing
plitrír a stinking, fetid, esp. the smell of a ship after a months-long journey [Uyseʔ pwithril ‘smelly’]
plô n brain; (v) tan
plôłu n leather; (a) tanned
plɔ̀r v lie, deceive
plù n shit
pr he, him
n island
pôn v become, change (new state takes ta)
pos pr his
pɔ̌ŋ a sick
pɔ̌ŋčìŋ n sickness [‘sick-season’]
pɔ̌ŋdɛ a healthy
pɔ̌r n a hallucinogenic plant
prá a tall, high
prábo n shoe, boot, sandal with ankle band [‘high thing’]
práe n the spinnerfly (source of silk)
prámǎs n noon [‘high sun’]
pran n crescent; bow
práŋ v think about, consider; calculate, reckon
prâr n crime, wrongdoing
pràɔ n arrow
Prátɛ n the consort of the god Sâɔ
pré a tasty, delicious
prépré a very tasty; sexy
prɛ̀ a empty
prɛn v boil
prɛ̀n md seem; seeming, apparent; appearance; aspect (of a deity)
Prɛnpó n an island north of Mɔłɔsɔu [‘boiling island’]
prɛ́ŋ n male pectorals; the male chest
prɛ́ŋprɛ́ŋ n a well-built man, an Adonis [redup. of ‘chest’]
prɛ́s a malicious, devious, tricky
pri v be lying; rest
prín n amber
pro n balance, stasis
prô a newly pregnant and anxious about it
prołó n accounting [‘balance study’]
prɔ̌ a cold
prɔ̌ná pp south [‘cold direction’]
prɔ̌ŋǎ n the world outside the rain forest: the mountains and the south of Arcél [‘cold-world’ or ‘south-world’]
prɔ̌r a cool, not too cold
prɔ̌s n forehead, temple
prû v wander, ramble
prǔn v pick up; glean; try out
prùŋ a ancient
prûŋ q 32768 (100,0008)
Prùŋpàŋ n the Ancient Books, early Bé writings
prùr n dust, powder
púdàn n an emperor of the nomads [Ōkmisan pūdam]
púdàntú n the Ōkmisan [‘pūdam people’]
pùŋ n river
pùŋbús n chart, map (compare hɛ̀bús) [‘river drawing’]
púr v try, attempt
pùr n brook, stream [dim. of ‘river’]
n cloth, fabric
v sleep; sleep with (takes comit.)
ràbo n hammock, bed [‘sleep thing’]
ràe n a flowering vine; also an epic heroine
rǎe v execute (orders), see to it, administer
rǎetló n minister, administrator
ràjùs v sleep around, sleep outside one’s jɔ (esp. of women) [‘bed-camp’]
rán n storm; heavy wind
ráŋ n valley
Rãɔ n the main river of Mɔłɔsɔu, native Rou
ràprû n one who sleeps with all the men in her jɔ’s age cohort [‘wander-bed’]
ràr adv too, too much
ràrmɛ̌ŋ n the sense of one’s eyes glazing over from poring too closely over long lists of information [‘too much ideas’]
ras cl since, after
re cl dative case marker
n way, method
rèn a quiet, silent
rèn n (archaic) leader of a hunting party [‘quiet’]
Rènpɛ n a name of the old god Jǐn [‘god who is a rèn’]
rês n cup
rɛ̀ n girl (under 12), child
rɛn v follow
rɛŋ md should, ought to; recommended, moral
rɛ̀s v fight, go to war
rɛ̀sbo n weapon, arms [‘fight-thing’]
rɛ̀sčìŋ n war [‘fighting season’]
nɔje rɛ̀sčìŋ civil war
rɛ̀sdɛ a pacifist; tolerant [calque on Uyseʔ thanen]
ri n brother
a fascinating, compelling, enchanting
cj because
rín n silver
rǐŋ n skin
rǐr n ear [‘little skin’]
rís v push
ro cl by, at, in(basic location)
q two
rɔ̌ v fall back in love with someone against one’s better judgment
Ròbùŋ n a city on the Ŋɛ̌
ròs q plus two (combining form)
rɔ̌ŋ n crotch; genitals (of either sex)
rɔ̌ŋkɔ̀s n loincloth [‘over crotch’]
rɔ̀r q eight [fusion of rò čɛr ‘two hands’]
rɔ̌r a warm, lukewarm [dim. of ‘hot’]
rɔ̌s a hot
n insect, bug
n gem, jewel
run a yellow
ruŋ v buzz, hum, murmur
ruŋrú n fly [‘buzz-insect’]
rur pr we all (more than a few)
Rurpɛ n Bé religion and philosophy [‘our gods/divinity’]
rǔs a wrong, incorrect
sa n liquor, wine
n cousin: younger female in same age cohort within jɔ; any female within one’s age cohort
sàčó n tavern, pub, bar [‘drink-house’]
sáe n sky, heavens
sáečìŋ n month (28 days, period of Iliažë) [‘sky-season’]
Sáemàe n the moon Iliažë; a goddess of cold intelligence [‘sky-mistress’]
Sáetɛ n the moon Iliacáš [‘sky-man’]
sáeùn n cloud [‘sky-fog’]
sàn n grass
sáŋ n daughter
sáŋniŋ n length measurement of 1/8 niŋ = 107.3 m [‘daughter turn’]
sàɔ n country, nation; sub-federal state of Belesao
sâɔ n light (in density); the four light elements; the deity of Sâɔism
Sàɔjon n the Mɔłɔ parliament, locally Sɔujɔn [‘national council’]
saɔr v leave, depart, go away; abandon; repent, apologize, be sorry for
saɔrdǐŋ n apology [‘leave-word’]
saɔrlɔ n ascetic [‘leaving (the world) woman’]
saɔrtɛ n younger male family member [‘leaving man’]
saɔrtɔ̌ŋ v say goodbye, close (a speech or article) [‘leave-speak’]
sǎɔs v wash, clean
sǎɔsłu a clean, cleaned
Sâɔtlu n Sâɔism
sâr n night
sârjâ v be unfaithful, cheat (esp. of men) [‘night-cheat’]
sârjâtɛ n an unfaithful, cheating man
sârjin n moon [‘night-noble’]
Sârjir n the moon Naunai [‘little moon’]
sârpáɔ n night instruction for adolescents [‘night-vision’]
sàs n deer
sàtɛ n cousin’s husband; the husbands within one age cohort
rà sàtɛ kɛs ro commit adultery (lit. sleep outside the sàtɛ )
se pt subordinator
a first, chief
n color; paint
senɛ pt time subordinator
sero pt place subordinator
sérǎetló n chief minister [‘first minister’]
sɛ̀ n city, town
sɛ̀je a urban
sɛ̀ná pp towards town
sɛ̌n v buy, purchase
sɛ̌nhé n purchase (things bought), cargo
sɛ̌nnèn n shop, store [‘buy-place’]
sɛ̌ŋ n needle
sɛ̌ŋbús v tattoo [‘needle-draw’]
sɛ̌ŋbúsbo n tattoo
sɛs cl ablative case marker
sɛ̀tló n mayor [‘city boss’]
si a fast, quick
v piss, urinate
v protect, hide
sìłǎ n piss, urine
sîbó v spy on [‘hide-watch’]
silɛ̌r a glib, untrustworthy [‘fast tongue’]
sín n bee
Sîpó n a city on the Lɛn, the Lé capital [‘protected island’]
sǐr n nectar, sugar
slé v capture
slɛ n fool, idiot
jǎɔ slɛ na play the fool
slin n grandson
slìs a cruel, sadistic
slìsnà n cruelty [‘cruel heart’]
slù v dig
slǔr a dirty
so a cute; playful
v blow
n type of small shell; money
sodlàɔ a good-looking (esp. of men based on the face) [‘cute-face’]
sòkos n value (of a thing), worth, price [‘money-value’]
sòjí v bet, wager (for/against → near/far) [‘put money’]
sòŋ pp far from
sòŋdɛ a not far, at a medium distance
sòŋje a far, distant
sòŋké n bow women, archery component of an army [‘far group’]
v eat
sɔn a black, dark; name of a goddess of authoritarian aspect who encourages hard work and discipline
sɔ́n a right, correct
sɔnhès n iron [‘dark metal’]
Sɔnjɔs n the founder of the Lé dynasty [‘black hair’]
sɔ́nłó n orthodoxy, correct teaching [‘right study’]
sɔnsín n hornet, bumblebee (a very large black bee) [‘black bee’]
sɔntlìn n authoritarianism, conservativism
sɔ̀r n social harmony [Uy. sur]
sôs v make out, play or mess around sexually
sôstɛr n boy toy; a man good at lovemaking but too frivolous to marry
n grain, seed
n pair, couple; both
cj or
sùŋ n soil, earth, ground
súŋ v add
Súŋdǐŋ n the ancient Commentaries [‘add words’]
sùŋdlán n geomancy [‘soil-foretelling’]
sùŋná pp downstairs, to the ground
súr q 24 [‘little pair (of thumbs)’]
sus a additional, extra, more
sǔs v suck; (caus.) nurse
sǔsłǎ n milk (of humans only) [‘suck-liquid’]
ta cl as, in a state of, while being
táe a short
tàe n fragrance, perfume
tàenîn n a fragrant red flower
tákis n horse [Ōkmisan htāknejig]
tàn q combining form of 64
tǎn v know, knowledge, science; know how to; knowing
táo v move; exchange, trade
târ q seven
tás v hit
tás čǐ na scratch (person in dat.) [‘hit the itch’]
tâs q plus seven (combining form)
tâɔ adv only, just
te cl question element
n underbrush; a weed or useless plant (in a garden plot)
tèŋ n teng bean
tetán n Uytainese martial arts [Uyseʔ theʔthan]
n male; son; young man
Tɛbétlìn n the Men’s Empire (historical dynasty) [‘male empire’]
tɛn v release, liberate; (intr.) escape, get free; (philosophy) salvation, englightenment, release from rebirth
tɛ́n v shine, give (much) light; light
tɛ̌n a true
tɛ̌n v release (something penned or tied up); ignite
tɛbâełó n movement for male equality
tɛ̌ndɛ a false [‘untrue’]
tɛ̌ndǐŋ n fact; truth [‘true word’]
Tɛnłó n a school of Hyemsur which offers fast enlightenment
tɛ̌nnâr a genuine, real (not faked) [‘true-craft’]
tɛ̌nnârdɛ a fake [‘not-true-craft’]
tɛr n lad, guy, dude [‘man’ + dim.]
tɛ́r v glow, be alight, give (a little) light [dim. of ‘shine’]
v run
tin a sharp; acidic
tîn v attach, join; assemble (things)
tînłó n carpentry, joinery
v make out, engage in foreplay
tǐkɔ̀ n a man highly skilled at foreplay
tín a pretty, lovely (suggestion of immaturity)
tir n dagger [‘sharp’ + dim.]
tîr n twig [dim. of ‘stick’]
tîs n stick
tlá v hurl, toss
tláe a long; (n) length; measurement of 24 kráɔ = 41.9 cm
tlâe n territory, region
tláejɔs a with long and beautiful hair (associated with aristocratic men)
tláekú a the state of being overdue for birth [‘long-pregnant’]
tláerá n robe [‘long dress’]
tlàn q 64 (1008); a company of 64 soldiers
tláɔ a new
tláɔlù n rebirth (as a punishment for a sinful life) [‘new birth’]
Tláɔsɛ̀ n the capital of Mɔłɔsɔu, native Klɔusa [‘new city’]
tlǎɔ a heavy
tlǎɔ n heaviness; the four heavy elements; sin
tlǎɔje a sinful
tlar n spark, glint
tle q many, much
tlě a wide, thick
tlebo pr many things
tlějɔs n a shaman, or his/her dreadlocks [‘thick-hair’]
tlěku n wide waistband, cummerbund [‘wide band’]
tlelɔ pr many people
tlenèn pr many places
tlenɛ pr often
tlɛ̀ a damn, fucking [abbreviation of tlɛ̀nłu ‘exiled’]
tlɛ́ a bare, naked
tlɛ̀n v exile, reject, cast out
tlɛ̀nłu a exiled, rejected
tlɛ́rɔ̌ŋ a bare-ass; someone too poor or unsophisticated to wear clothes [‘bare-crotch’]
tlɛ̂ŋ v flap, wave
tlìn v administer, rule; realm
tlìnčǎŋ n coup d’état, revolution [‘seize power’]
jǎɔ tlìnčǎŋ na seize power
tlìndɛ a humane, benevolent (as a ruler) [calque on Uyseʔ pauʔen]
tlìnje a administrative, governmental
tliŋ v blink, flash; moment, instant
tliŋhás n firefly [‘blink-beetle’]
tlís a smooth
tló n leader (e.g. of a work group or a military unit), mistress, master
tlô v pull
tlǒn v defeat, vanquish
tlɔr q most
tlɔrbo pr most things
tlɔrlɔ pr most people
tlɔrnɛ pr most times
tlɔrnèn pr most places
tlɔ́s n wood
tlu v adore, worship
tlu n adoration, worship; sect
tlú v pierce, stab
tlù v rain
tlúčɛ́ŋ n drill, borer [‘piercing tool’]
tlúr n a soft banana-like fruit
tlùs n elbow
toŋ v hunt
Tɔ̀ n a goddess, of dark, sullen aspect
tɔ̌ŋ v speak, say, tell; speech, utterance
tɔ̌ŋdɛ n silence, esp. as a religious practice
tɔ̀pɔ̌ŋ n depression, melancholy [‘Tɔ̀ sickness’]
tɔrjú n interest (financial) [Uyseʔ turtsil]
tràe a annoyed at being pregnant at an inconvenient time
trâe cj in order that, with the intention that
tran pp away from, against
tranbís n keep-away, tag; a game involving running from someone
Tràŋ n an early dynasty
tràŋ n queen [from the dynasty; originally Tràŋháɔ ‘head of the Tràŋ’]
tràŋtɛ n queen’s consort
trǎɔ prn I, me
trâɔ n waterfall
tras prn my, mine
Tré n the old god of sex
tré n drone; a cheating male [from Tré]
tres n aunt: older sister of mother
trɛ v bless, sanctify
Trɛlù n the first queen of Belesao, 2267 [‘blessed birth’]
trɛłu a blessed, holy
trɛ̌n n head
trɛ̌nja v fall on the head; interrupt
trɛ̌n n stone, rock
trɛrè n the way of divinity— rejecting the physical world and directly pursuing absorption into the All-Soul
trɛ́s pt excuse me! [fusion of trɛ ís na ‘bless you’]
trɛ̌s v reach, attain, come upon, encounter (+dat)
trɛ̌słó n the Attainment or individualistic school [‘attain-school’]
tríbo n pouch, bag [trírbo ‘hide-thing’]
trír n fur, hide; (v) skin
trírčɛ́ŋ n scraper, tool for skinning
trírrá n barbarian, rustic [‘fur-clothes’]
tris v play, have fun
trô n rat; a very insulting term for men
trǒ a sour [named for the fruit]
trǒnɔ̌ n sourfruit; a type of fruit
trɔs n box, container
trɔ̌s n powdered dried hardroot flour
trǒtɛ n a man who never seems to talk [‘sour-man’]
trû v float (in the water)
trûklɛ̌s n raft [‘float-platform’]
trukà n truca (fiber palm)
trun cl later on, future
Trunčìŋ n the future
trunnɛ n tomorrow [‘next day’]
trǔŋ a bad, evil
trǔŋhɔ́ n evil spirit, demon [‘evil-soul’]
trǔŋłɔ̌r n múrtany [‘bad elcar’]
trǔŋŋɛ̀ n perversion (esp. incest)
n people, nation
tùn v quarrel; fight among themselves, like men or young animals
tur cl on, at, in (sometime within a time period)
tûr v squeeze
ǔdù n a large parasitic worm, similar to a guinea worm; a woman who refuses to work or support her family
un n animal
ùn a transparent, clear
ǔn cl particle for requests
ùndàn n glass (material) [‘clear ceramic’]
ùndǐŋ a sincere, without duplicity or double dealing
ùnrês n glass (for drinking) [‘clear-cup’]
úŋ a horny (of males, usually despective)
ùŋ n fog; steam
Ùŋbéłó n the Steam University
úŋhór n horndog, a man consumed with sex
ûr n worm
ùr n spell, incantation
Ùrlǔ n the most ancient Bé scriptures [‘spell-songs’]
ús n path, trail; road

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