Virtual Verduria

A grammar of Verdurian

Introduction

Phonology

Phonology - The Alphabet - The Numbers
Morphology Verbal morphology - Nominal morphology - Adjectives - Articles - Pronouns - Derivational morphology
Syntax The use of the verb - The use of the noun - The noun phrase - Anaphora - Prepositions - Sentences - Transformations
References Dialects - Kinship terms - Time and Weather - Conventional expressions - Examples - Verdurian Names
Thematic Dictionary - Modern terrestrial terminology
English to Verdurian Dictionary - All the words; over 400K
Verdurian to English Dictionary - All the words the other way; over 400K
Practical Course - Lessons for learning the language
Some Verdurian texts
Verdurian poetics
The Language Construction Kit

© 1997 by Mark Rosenfelder. All rights reserved. Fifth Edition.


Introduction

Verdurian-- known to its speakers as soa Sfahe, the Speech-- is the language of about 55 million people in the Caďinorian Plain in the southern hemisphere of Almea. It is the chief language in the kingdom of Verduria, in Ctésifon, Curiya, Svetla, Erenat, and many of the smaller Caďinorian principalities. It is also widely spoken in the Western Wild and in western Dhekhnam.

As the language of the most progressive and powerful state in the South of Almea, it is also the lingua franca of the whole South, widely known to traders, scholars and diplomats as far as Inex, Moreo Ašcai, and Uytai. It is certainly the first language for the serious scholar of Almean culture, history, or society. In addition it has a distinguished history and a rich literature, and an English-like legacy of words from around the world.

Verdurian is heavily dialectalized, regional dialects being found in each principality and Verdurian province. The standard language under Verdurian law, and the chief literary language in the Plain, is the Mažtane dialect, that of Verduria city; it is this form of the language which is the focus of the present work.

Only two other dialects have any literary development: those of Avéla (due to the importance of the city in the printing industry and as a center of the Eleďe religion) and Ctésifon (the former center of the Empire). Neither of these is strikingly different from Mažtane, especially in written form. The more divergent dialects, such as those in Hežina and Bešbalic, are largely rural and unwritten.

History

Verdurian, along with its sister tongues Barakhinei, Ismaîn, and Sarroc, derives from Caďinor, which in turn derives from proto-Eastern, the language of the men originally found in the northern reaches of Xurno, who invaded the Caďinorian and Xurnese plains about four thousand years ago. (For details see the Historical Atlas of Almea.)

The Eastern invaders were divided into Cuzeians and Caďinorians; of these the first, settling in the Eärdur valley, were the first to be civilized, and gained an ascendancy over the others. The Cuzeians have left a rich cultural legacy, and thousands of words, comparable to the Greek vocabulary found in Latin. Examples of Cuêzi words in Verdurian include aguma 'problem', celäu 'swordsmanship', dunalál 'planet', hicet 'number', iliu 'iliu', onemu 'treatise', rocá 'epic', and uverë 'clothes'.

The Caďinorians learned civilization from the Cuzeians, and war from constant fighting with Munkhâsh, to the east; they built the empire which spanned the Plain and spilled into the valleys of the Shkónoro and the Khoneda as well. The vast majority of Verdurian words, both simple and learned, are Caďinor: baďir 'hit', crur 'leg', esan 'be', horže 'barley', mey 'water', ravir delight, šeíra 'palace', žoc 'eight', etc.

Caďinor is a highly inflected, rich, sophisticated language, a language of empire. An example of classic Caďinor, circa Z.E. 1600:

Taun doroť doni, taun cuom dekascu,
Im eria esistea sautea ctani.
Seťaiom emize, icteleilec, veťurec!
Atrabantos sai, aiďie belor,
Krensis er zol ir scehuin urestuin;
Kesuieim, khuni, mactaneim alterai.
Leruie avestea scehiae viocteie
Nun voci, icteleilec, veťurec!
Ket lerii guesos erin advaltes?

Give us a sign, show us a wonder!
Enter here into my throne room,
Tell us a story, you prophet, wanderer.
I am the Emperor, friend of the Gods,
Holy and powerful above all men,
Knowing countries and peoples and cities.
So now call up the most fearsome
Of your spirits, you prophet, wanderer--
Which power of yours compares with mine?
--Mellilones of Casuon
Šant Vëndromei (the Song of the Prophet), c. 1420

The Caďinorian empire fell, and with it the linguistic unity of the Plain. Peoples mixed, barbarians invaded, education and communications declined. By about 2400 a large portion of the Plain was speaking what we now call Old Verdurian (OV), though its speakers referred to it as Caďino.

Tan doni dorot, tan cuom dekašcu.
Žtanni im asié saatam,
Roconter šcant, žtánnutom, vajic!
Ai Atrabat Dallu, âďiye druug,
Křezmy er zuol ir šciin euestuin;
Kesuyem, khini, mažtanem šrifao.
Nun apeli so afcor eppei
Lye vyožyé, žtánnutom, vajic!
Ky šray lye huepe nib asié?

After centuries, power and civilization again arose, this time in Verduria, inconsiderable in the days of the emperors, but now the center of a continent-wide trading network. A modern translation of the same passage (c. 3480):

Donireu dorot, ontenei miura!
Imžanenei säta esë,
Raconter pomäa, vëndrom, vagec!
Se ai Elordalu, aďië druk,
Řem er zol ir tësein uestuin;
Scurem šrifao, ženi, mažtanem.
Nun vocanei so muďe durnä
Lë itianië, vëndrom, vagec!
Kî gués teneo ke vaute esë?

What has changed in these two thousand years? Phonologically, Verdurian has lost three consonants, ť, kh and h', and has gained four new ones (č, š, ř and ž). It has developed three new vowels (î, ü, and ö). It has simplified word endings and consonant clusters, and monophthongized diphthongs: sautem --> säte, aeďie --> aďië, ctanen --> žanen.

In morphology, Verdurian has lost the ablative case and the inflected comparative and superlative (e.g. vestes 'worst'), and regularized the declensional system. It has lost the remote and dynamic verbal inflections, relying more heavily on analytic forms and regularizing conjugation. Word order is no longer free, and syntax is more complex.

Vocabulary and idiom have changed extensively. Some of the processes to be noted:

A map of the grammar

This is a Reference Grammar, not a textbook for learning Verdurian. It is intended to present an organized and concise reference to the language, including some of its more advanced principles, to one who already knows, or is learning, the language.

We move, rather traditionally, from phonology to morphology to syntax. The syntactic section, following modern trends in linguistics, is rather longer than that of the usual grammar. Finally we append some discussion of specialized topics, such as kinship terminology and Verdurian dialects.

Examples have been liberally provided, as the only way to achieve a correct Verdurian style is to be exposed to good Verdurian. To the same end several short, annotated passages in Verdurian prose have been appended to the Grammar.

Verdurian words and sentences are generally given in transliterated form only. I have felt that this is kinder to those who wish to know something of the language without studying it deeply, while presenting no difficulty to those who do know the script.

Parallel works

My Practical Course in Verdurian may be used by those who wish to acquire a working knowledge of Verdurian. It begins with the easier and most-used aspects of the language, and proceeds to the harder and more obscure bits.

The learner will of course find the English and Verdurian Dictionary invaluable, and an important complement to this Grammar, containing many examples and points of grammatical, semantic, and etymological detail which could not be included here.

The Thematic Dictionary of Verdurian groups words by subject, allowing easy learning of vocabulary and explaning many of the categories and concepts that underlie the lexicon.

Other areas of this website contain information on proto-Eastern, Caďinor, Barakhinei, Ismaîn, Cuêzi, Wede:i, Flaidish, Elkarîl, and others, including comparative tables of inflection, detailed etymologies, and distribution maps.

Language cannot be divorced from culture, and the materials assembled in Virtual Verduria form an essential reference on Almean biology, cultures, and belief systems in general, and on the kingdom of Verduria in particular.

Finally, a short work, Subrel er Aksubrel ('Effect and Counter-effect', a tale of magic), has been prepared as a first long reading. A fair number of other Verdurian texts are also available at Virtual Verduria.

Literature

Once such texts have been mastered, there is a whole universe of Verdurian literature to explore. A good place to start is Icovo Mirtíy's collection of Verdurian folk tales. The stories of Mitušek are very accessible, and good preparation for the novels of Idor and Boroďéy. The playwrights Zeorey and Šaymeon are not difficult, nor is the poet Išicreya; her colleague Oron requires some knowledge of Verdurian stylistics. These writers are all Verdurian, except for Šaymeon (Ctésifoni) and Boroďéy (Avélan).

From earlier centuries, but still highly readable, are the novelists Šmirulo and Gal, the essayist Debere, the dramatist Belgobán, and the poet and essayist Margiteya. The Svetlan philosopher Necocréy is somewhat difficult without some familiarity with Caďinorian thought. Cistile is worth reading, not only for his commanding position in Verdurian philosophy, but for his point of view, which a terrestrial will find quite distinctive. The poetry of Kúbinor, Duke of Pelym, is highly influential but almost opaque to the non-Verdurian.

The Eleďe Book of Eleď, Book of Mihel and the Ciröma (Count of Years) are excellent examples of Verdurian religious writing. The Aďivro (God-book) of the pagans is a liturgy plus commentary, dull and difficult stuff; a better pagan sourcebook is Mirtíy's collection of Caďinorian myths. The philosopher Čurmey, though a shock to Almean readers, will probably strike American readers as sympathetic and amusing, a Verdurian Voltaire.

Text written before the reign of the Verdurian kings (2943) generally cannot be understood without study of Old Verdurian. Those who enjoy disregarding good advice may however start with the medieval epic Soa pomaae Erbreei (Chronicle of Ervëa) with the facing-page modern translation by Šemeli Grogeca.

Two short passages by Mitušek and Margiteya and one from Mirtíy's collection are appended to the end of this Grammar as examples of Verdurian style.

Ave drukin soe Sfahei,
Mark Rosenfelder
Oak Park, December 1994


Virtual Verduria