< 4: Queranaran by Padraic Brown Idaltu by Lars Finsen 6: Xunumi Wudu by Sylvia Sotomayor >

Translated by: Lars Finsen
Awyasijoshinnerellqepajarchymxzaidaltuxza. Qabawjoyneshaqekajahiwkulsayamngme.
Yatintyakjoshasentoqemirqeshambaraxza. Katseshoqeshakurkubza. Arahulewkeshango.
Iqeqabawamchishaqehiwkulshodxa. Mnepurchjoshaqeshuluda.
Dagujoshoqeshadxaqaichfarja. Hulewkestoqesha. Araqabawmisha.
Hwyjofederfannqemirqemarwallaxzashinnerell. Yatinzuheshoshambarabxa.
Iqesihteshosentoxa. Awyasimeqehuxuxurshinnerellxza. Hnunawahimeqebengsihangme.
Smooth translation: Missing
Translation of previous torch Missing
Interlinear Missing
Glossary/mini dictionary
akud (a) last
arj (a) wild
awyasi (v) be
baja (n) joy
baju (v) find
bau (interj.) dog’s bark
bawa (v) bark
bele (v) fear
beng (n) news
buqi (n) wildness, madness
cheha (n) hunger
chuk (a) strange, bent, crooked
chym (n) land
dagu (v) show
diru (n) tree
dawa (n) day
efal (a) many
faxe (v) break
faza (n) pot
Federfann (n) personal name
gar (v) bring
hafa (v) kick
hala (n) food
hamnetu (n) journey
hantu (n) front
haqe (v) see
hara (v) trade, exchange, switch
harahamnetu (n) trading journey
haramano (n) merchant
hawa (n) river
heri (v) destroy
hiwkul (n) gold (yellow stone)
hule (v) eat
hurxura (n) wagon
huxu (n) brother
hwy (v) love
Idaltu (n) place name
jen (v) speak
kaje (v) go
kame (v) grasp
kamo (n) family, parents
kanu (v) tie
katse (v) hold, keep
kocha (n) basket
kole (v) fall
kolu (n) fall
koza (n) house
kuna (n) woman
kurku (n) cage
kwano (n) male dog
laxa (v) loosen
loqi (v) jump
makaq (n) word
makaqware (n) story
mako (n) boy
mano (n) man
mari (v) walk
Marwalla (n) place name
me (pron) 1s
miro (n) ruler, king
mora (n) mare, female horse
nawahi (v) wait, expect
nguki (v) be shocked, surprised
oh (interj.) surprise
p (a) near, proximate
pajar (n) princess
para (n) edge, side, shore
purch (v) beg
qabaw (v) weave
qaich (n) animal
qarto (n) knot
qazu (n) piece
qechu (n) end
qiru (n) door
qudu (n) inside
qurduni (v) be insufficient
quxa (v) look, look for
sayam (n) grass
Sento (n) personal name
sha (pron) 3s, fem.
Shambara (n) place name
shi (pron) 3s, neut.
Shinnerell (n) personal name
sho (pron) 3s, masc.
shu (pron) 3s, inanim.
shule (v) liberate, get free
shulu (n) freedom
siha (n) fight
sihte (v) fight
sto (pron) 3p
tano (v) pull, draw
tanxane (v) harness (a draft animal) to something
tinu (v) sit
tuku (v) show, display
tyak (v) steal
wiltengu (v) not will
ware (n) rope
weda (v) hit
wola (n) greatness, bigness, muchness
wæri (v) make, prepare
xogu (v) be hurt, feel bad
xur (a) young
za (pron) demonstrative
zahe (v) put, set
zeqe (v) run
zuhe (v) appear, turn up

- (null) unmarked: present tense, indicative mood, active voice,
punctual-stative aspect, singular number, absolutive case
a (a) progressive - emphasising progress in action
ad (t) past
amchi (m) negative conditional - negation of verb states a condition for another
ara (a) contrary - indicating contrariness to the previous statement
bxa (c) locative - indicates place
da (c) benefactive - what an action is done for the benefit of
dbe (m) jussive - indicates an order
dxa (c) dative - marks indirect object
esmu (a) simultaeous - indicates simultaneous action
etse (a) terminative - marks finalising action
hi (c) allative - indicates movement towards
hnu (a) intensive - intensifying the action
iqe (a) inceptive - marks start of action
iqne (a) inchoative - marks start of state change
jo (t) past
kaja (v) potential - marks ability to do the verb
kla (c) circumferential (around, about)
lju (m) desiderative - indicates wish
lu (c) instrumental - means, manner (adverbial) or time
mi (m) conditional - verb states a condition for another action
mne (a) iterative - marks repetition
ngme (c) ablative - movement or action away from, out of
ngo (v) middle - allows the subject of a transitive action to be marked other
than by the ergative, for example to act upon itself.
fa (n) plural
pu (c) adessive - marks adjacent location
qe (c) ergative - marks the subject in a transitive action
qqa (c) superessive - marks location on top of something
ptu (m) speculative - marks speculative statement
she (a) continuous - marks continued action
so (c) illative - movement into
tli (c) prosecutive - movement along, across
wke (e) quotative - marks a statement that the subject has been told
xa (c) comitative - marks accompaniment, togetherness
xza (c) genitive - possession
yatin (a) episodic - marks a particular episode
yne (e) reportative - marks the reporting of unwitnessed events
za (c) translative - marks turning from one state to another
zfe (c) pertingent - marks something that touches another thing
æki (a) delimitative - indicates finite extent
Grammar notes
Idaltu is designed to be a non-recursive language. It has been theorised that
recursion is the only feature of language unique to humans (Hauser, M., Chomsky,
N. & Fitch, W. T. 2002. The Language Faculty: What is it, who has it, and how
did it evolve? Science, 298, 1569-1579.), which I interpret to mean that it was
the last major innovation of human speech before we reached the condition we
have today, a modern, flexible language with full freedom of expression.
Recursion probably is hard-wired in us, because it is a reasonable guess that
features that are universal or near universal in human language (or human
characteristics in general) are hard-wired. Many of the other universals (or
near-universals) that do not depend on recursion are present in Idaltu. However,
it does not, by definition, have statements and clauses like normal human
language. Instead, I will refer to them as calls. They are more structured than
usual animal calls, and the structural elements are similar to the ones of
modern language, thus I will mostly use commonplace terminology when referring
to them. Each call has this structure:
arguments>, where only the VERB is mandatory.
Which looks pretty commonplace for a polysynthetic language at first glance. In
my model of language history the languages were polysynthetic at first when they
reached the recursive stage, and have been evolving towards more analytic
structures since, though not necessarily in a linear fashion.
In place of a complex syntax, Idaltu has complex semantics. The things we can
say just by adjusting the syntax a little, or a lot – in principle there's no
limit – Idaltu has to invent new words for. It has been suggested
(http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6027/346.abstract) that there is a
correlation between the size of a language's phoneme inventory and its
geographical distance from the site of the origin of the human species. This
indicates that pre-human language had rich phoneme inventories, which is an
advantage if you need such a large vocabulary. But the evolution of logical
structures like the above probably reduced the need for huge inventories a bit,
as before them you had to invent new words for each logical distinction. The
phonetic ability of humans probably evolved to its full extent before this
logical structure evolved. Then the need for it declined, and modern languages
get by with just a small fraction of the sounds that it's actually possible for
us to make. For Idaltu, I propose a comparatively rich inventory, which I will
represent by the reasonably close Latin letters and digraphs to save me from too
much work. I'm not a natural IPA typist.
Each of the subject, object or other arguments above are nominal items. They are
declined for singular, dual and plural number and for a large number of cases.
Pronouns are not in principle different from other nouns and work in the same
way. Since the nominal arguments are marked, they can switch places for
emphasis. The scheme above is the neutral one. All nouns as well as verbs have
theme vowels, and attribute markers can be inserted between them and the roots.
The structure of a nominal argument is as follows:
NOUN-<attribute>-<theme>-<number>-<case>, where only the NOUN is mandatory.
There is a large number of verbal aspects, plenty of moods and a number of
voices, but only 3 tenses, past, present and future.
For the vocabulary below I have used Bengtson's and Ruhlen's 27 Proto-World
reconstructions (http://www.jdbengt.net/articles/Global.pdf) as my main
inspiration. Not because I believe they have reached an accurate description of
what language was like before it started to diverge, but because I like them and
think they are a nice starting point for this experiment. I think however that
the freedom of word invention, which amounts to the starting point for
divergence, was evolved long before the invention of recursion, so Proto-World
belongs to a much earlier stage than Idaltu. But the 27 of B & R have a
moderately rich phoneme inventory which is suitable for my purpose. Sergei
Starostin's online database
has been useful for the rest.
Idaltu is currently very experimental and so far I have done away with all
verbal and nominal class distinctions. But I can foresee that something will
crystallise out of the theme vowel system if I ever have time to work further on