The Verdurian Language
This page contains a brief introduction, a sketch of the essentials of Verdurian, and a helpful chart of inflection for easy reference. There's more... so much more... see the links below.
© 1997-2018 by Mark Rosenfelder. All rights reserved. Sixth Edition.
Verdurian, known to its speakers as soa Sfahe, the Speech, is the language of about 55 million people in the Eretald plain in the southern hemisphere of Almea. The kingdom of Verduria itself takes up about a third of this territory, and is one of the most advanced and powerful states on the planet.
Verdurian is heavily dialectalized, each country and province having its own distinctive way of speaking; it’s fair to say that if you traveled more than about 250 km from Verduria city, you wouldn’t be able to understand the peasants— though you could probably get on with the lords and the shopkeepers.
That is, the dialect of the city, Mažtane, is a lingua franca throughout Eretald, including areas like Barakhún and Ismahi where the people speak entirely different languages. As Verduria has colonized islands and enclaves around the world— Leán, Karímia, Jebruk, Sitfi, Téllinor— it can be said to be one of the first Almean languages of worldwide scope, and its traders and colonists have brought back words from around the world.
It has a rich history of scholarship and literature, so that it is virtually a requirement for the Almeologist. For the same reason it’s been a gateway to the other cultures of Almea: we could hardly have come to understand Cuzei, Xurno, or Arcél without Verdurian grammars and histories to lead the way.
Verdurian is the direct descendant of Caďinor, the language of the Caďinorian Empire, which flourished two thousand years ago. Barakhinei, Benécë, Ismaîn, and Sarroc also descend from Caďinor. All of these are members of the Central subfamily of Eastern; thus Verdurian is distantly related to Cuêzi, Curiyan, Xurnese, Čeiyu, and the Naviu and Čia-Ša languages.
This edition is thoroughly rewritten. Sometimes that means removing things that now make me cringe, such as the ancient trope of explaining sounds by going through the alphabet. Other changes:
I've removed some material intended to introduce Verduria and Almea, and explaining the relationship to Caďinor; all this is much better explained now elsewhere in Virtual Verduria.
Ave drukin soe Sfahei,
Soa ceřecoma lü so dalum.A pause to explain the glossing conventions.
As you can see, Verdurian has a definite article, so. But it has no indefinite article:
Ceřecoma lü dalum.
Gender normally operates as you’d expect with human referents: dalu king, ceřecom alchemist, maris husband, baraďu brother are masculine, elrei queen, ceřecoma alchemist, cira wife, sädra sister are feminine.
But every other noun is gendered too, without pattern: cuenda f. festival, gunë f. armor, precok m. apricot, cuon m. dog, fulüra f. ink, řusi f. muscle, losu m. moose, and so on. Fortunately almost all nouns can be identified by their dictionary form: nouns ending in a consonant, u, o, y are masculine; those ending in a, e, i, ë are feminine.
Soa lerežë ceřecoma done šön fäboš soán dobren dalun.And verbs agree with the subject of the sentence in number, singular or plural.
Verbs are also inflected by person: prosai ‘I walk’, prosei ‘you walk’, prose ‘he/she walks’. As person information is marked on the verb, subject pronouns are rarely necessary.
Object pronouns, either direct or indirect, go before the verb:
Soa ceřecoma ilun done šön fäboš.
Soa ceřecoma ilet done soán dobren dalun.
Soa ceřecoma ilet ilun done.Note that the painting, being masculine, is referred to using the masculine accusative pronoun ilet ‘him’. There is a word for ‘it’, but it’s only used for things that have no gender, such as sentences. negate a sentence, insert řo before the verb:
Soa ceřecoma iler ilun řo done.Other negative words, like nikto ‘no one’, still require the řo.
Nikto iler ilun řo done.question is simply to inflect the voice upward. It’s also common (and it’s usual in writing) to use the introductory particle esce:
Esce soa ceřecoma iler ilun done？Interrogative pronouns are, as in English, fronted:
Kiom soa ceřecoma ilun done?
Šrifao. I know.That is, there are two past tenses, one being used for events previous to the time being discussed. Compare:
Zola nesne im zonán 3467, ac marinerai im zonán 3465.The conditional is used with if conditions, but also wishes, including those simply introduced with the particle ut:
Ut šrifcelao! Would that I knew!Aspect distinctions are made using adverbs:
Dénuo prosai. I walk a lot.Relative clauses are formed using the interrogative pronouns.
Ihano lü soa frälina.
so suleom ke lü soa frälina
soa frälina ket lü Ihano
Use the reflexive:
Soa Sfahe zet mis zdesy.Use the impersonal pronoun tu:
Tu mis soa Sfaha zdesy.Use OVS order:
Soa Sfaha mis so žen zdesy.Increasing valence, a causative verb šesan adds an argument to a verb:
So dalu šesne mizec soa Sfaha soán kebrenán.
Verbs: lelen ‘see’, baďir ‘hit’, elirec ‘live’
Irregular roots: past esan → fu; dan → don; kies → kaiv;
Future dan → dom; kies → kaim
Past root changes
Future root changes
Adjectives (m f)
Definite Article (so)
Relative and interrogative pronouns