Classical Arithide adjectives

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Adjectives in Classical Arithide, in accordance with the language's left-branching nature, are generally placed before the noun they modify (as with adverbs), but may technically be placed anywhere in a sentence due to the extensive case-marking system. This latter point is definitely true only for the standard dialect of the Equora dynasty; adjectival case-marking was rare before and gradually fell out of favour after the time, and even in the Equora, was an innovation adopted from the dialects of western Calagia and Demedria.

As such, in Classical Arithide, adjectives were a rather nebulous class of words, and their indeterminate, halfway-house status contributed to their amorphism, or rather polymorphism, over the years, and indeed, a cursory glance at the adjectives in a certain text and the way they are inflected is one of the surest ways to discern the period from which it came.

The prestige tongue of the Equora dynasty, the most widely written and recognised variant, and the common modern benchmark for "standard" Classical Arithide, had two types of word, of more or less equal ubiquity, that could be considered as "adjectives":

  1. Verbal adjectives, also called adjectival verbs, depending on the academic source, which were technically stative verbs, and constitute the vast majority of Classical Artihide adjectives. These were and are quoted in dictionaries in the infinitive verb-form.
  2. Nominal adjectives, or adjectival nouns, again depending on academic source, which behaved grammatically as nouns, like Latin adjectives. These were and are quoted in dictionaries in the nominative singular of the first declension.

It is worth noting that while nominal adjectives understandably decline for case, even verbal adjectives, when used attributively, take case-endings as well.

Verbal adjectives

Most words that could conceivably be used with an adjectival function were technically stative verbs, e.g. egnēn, "black", or literally, "to be black", having the ability to conjugate for tense, mood and aspect while modifying a noun, whether predicatively or attributively. These adjectives behaved much like the "i-adjectives" of Japanese. While predicative use of verbs as adjectives was expected, the attributive property grew out of a grammatical device, now largely disused, of making verbs into modifiers by displacing them to the front of nouns rather than behind them, as is the usual SOV order.


Verbal adjectives typically belong to the consonant-stem conjugation (see Classical Arithide conjugation).

An example of a verbal adjective would be nistēn "fast", or literally "to be fast". Predicatively ("the car is fast"), it would be conjugated nista to mean "it is fast", or niste to express that it used to be fast. When the adjective is used attributively ("the fast car"), the aspectual participles are used instead, and while past states still retain the use of the perfective aspect (nistēm), the imperfective aspect is employed for current states (nistī).

  • Viringa nista. The car is fast.
  • Nistī viringa dagemenum dakte. The fast car stopped in front of the house. (lit. "is-fast sedan house-front-at stopped")

The existence of this present- and past-state distinction enables some handy locutions as well:

  • Ielanēm konkanditis egnī assula levē agare The sky that was once blue but now black with rage howled ferociously (Osces, Poetry)

To form the future tense, the simple future ending is not used with adjectives; rather, -allān, cliticised from the verb hallān "to become", is used as an auxiliary, taking on the present tense and imperfective aspectual ending.

Attributive usage & case-marking

Case endings are, logically, not required with predicative uses of verbal adjectives, not only because the adjective can only, by definition, be in the nominative, but also because the adjective is, here, grammatically a verb (since the adjective itself encompasses the copula), thus inflecting only for time and not case. With attributive use, however, cases are marked, though generally no endings are appended in the nominative. When the adjective modifies a noun in a case other than the nominative, however, case endings become necessary for purposes of disambiguation:

  • Viringa nistī fyre. The fast car left.
  • Viringatis nistītis fyre. (I/We/You/He/She/It/They) left in the fast car. (lit. "by the fast car")

c.f. Viringatis nistī fyre. I/You (sg.)/He/She/It who is fast left in the car. (singular due to nistī; plural nominative would be nistīēs)

The adjective takes on the case endings of the appropriate lexical class, i.e. the one to which the noun being modified belongs. Exceptions are that nouns of the sixth declension (agentive nouns) take adjectives declined in the fifth declension, and that declension VIII nouns (derivatives) take adjectives declined as per declensions I, II, III or IV according to their nominative ending.

Note: towards the end of the dynasty the innovation of a final -m, borrowed from the perfective participle, with the imperfective participle (leading to egnīm etc.) spread to adjectives as well, and subsequently gave rise to the -im adjectival ending of Modern Arithide.

Nominal adjectives

The nominal adjectives, which behave as nouns like their Latin counterparts, do not, due to their nature, conjugate for time-distinctions unlike the verbals. In addition, as they are technically nouns, their semantic scope does not include a copula, and in predicative usage such an equating verb is frequently needed to express what would, with verbal adjectives, be encoded in the conjugation; innovation, however, reanalysed some nominal adjectives as nouns, and subsequently deriving verbal adjectives through the suffixation of the general-purpose adjectivaliser -nēn (see #Deriving adjectives from nouns below).

Many adjectives in the nominal class tend to be concerned with appearance, e.g. oluros "ugly, out-of-shape", vobulos "pitch-dark", nassos "deepest, ulterior, core". Exceptions include all the adjectives of colour, which are morphologically derived from the names of the individual colours by affixing -nēn, and are hence verbal in nature.


Nominal adjectives can be further divided into two groups based on their declension behaviour. Most nominal adjectives are of fixed declensions, i.e. their declension class is invariable regardless of the class of the noun they are modifying: in the nominative, vobulos aumos "dark cave" (declension I), vobulos hael "dubious personality" (V), or vobulos vosi "suspicious step/move" (VII). Such adjectives are quoted in dictionaries in the nominative singular form.

Not all adjectives of invariable declension class belong to the first declension, however. Certain, like lisis, lisit- "wispy" are declension VII adjectives, which means they decline as follows, differently from pan above: listīs baletēs, listitē sivianēs and lisiterei foritēnēs.

  • N.b. With lisis, lisit-, as with all other Classical Arithide words, syncope occurs, that is reflected in the orthography, of the -i- in the sequence -sit- when in an unstressed syllable or when another -i occurs immediately after the -t. Another commonly known example of such syncope is with the passive voice.

There exist also some adjectives with variable declension classes. One of them is lef "big" 1 , which adopts its target noun's lexical class and declines accordingly. Hence:

  • levēs baletēs "grand possibilities (VIII)"
  • levanēs sivianēs "of big towns (II)"
  • levēnēs foritēnēs "to big miners (VI)"


Lef, when used predicatively, has a verbal form levēn, which is a mixed conjugation verbal, taking vowel-stem endings with the stem lep-.

Pan "all"

The adjective pan is unique, in that as a mass adjective it does not have a plural form. With other similar adjectives, the plural would be used in the above examples. In later Classical Arithide pan would lose even its case endings and become a completely invariable adjective. The following is an example of the standard declension of pan:

  • pan baletēs "all possibilities (VIII)"
  • panan sivianēs "of all towns (II)"
  • panae foritēnēs "to all miners (VI)"

Derivatives from verbs

The participle forms of verbs could also be used as adjectives, without further modification. These derivative adjectives fall under the nominal class, and are not availed the subtle distinctions of present and past states as are the adjectives of the verbal class. The participle adjectives are all of variable declensions, and they conjugate as per the declension class of the noun modified.

  • Īde tath zurōnēs enēn mēsēs labi, futisi lārīē segē nollos.
    alas again cruel.PL return.INFIN Fate.PL call.IMPF, hide.IMPF-and.CLIT swimming.PL.ACC eye.PL.ACC sleep.NOM
    "Alas again the cruel Fates are calling me back, and sleep is obscuring my swimming eyes." (Lēspēs, Laments)

Similarly to verbal adjectives, these derived adjectives were affected by the rise of the use of final -m late in the Equora.


The comparison of Classical Arithide adjectives ("as ... as ...", "more ... than" etc.) makes extensive use of cases and suffixes, as elaborated in the sections below.


Equivalence can be expressed in any of a number of ways, and with the example sentence "The tree is as tall as the house" we have the following possible locutions, with noteworthy areas grammatically annotated:

  • Kisag dagena siōnna.
    tree house.EQUIV tall
    Here the equating particle -ena "like" is attached to the reference.
  • Kisag dag siōnna.
    tree house.ESS tall
    The reference here is in the essive case to signal equivalence.
  • Kisag dagen opena siōnna.
    tree house.GEN same.EQUIV tall
    Here the comparison is explicit.

In all the above examples, the subject "tree" is in the nominative case; in all the cases it can be replaced with the topical case, kisagai.


The most common method to construct a positively comparative adjective ("more ... than") is to use the suffix -or, which appends to the adjectival stem; negatively comparative adjectives are made with -ys. To the resultant comparative are then affixed further articles of agreement, such as lexical class, case and number. In predicative uses of nominal-class adjectives, the presence of the comparative precludes the need for a copula or verbalisation (as seen with siōn "tall" in the past few examples).

Comparatives can, however, also be formed by periphrasis, and at times a combination of the two methods:

"The tree is taller than the house."

  • Kisag dagōn siōnor.
    tree house.ABL tall.COMPP
    This is the most common method. The reference is in the ablative, and the adjective is comparative.
  • Kisag dagōn siōnna.
    tree house.ABL tall
    Here only the reference is marked with the ablative case.
  • Kisagae dagōn siōnor.
    tree.DAT house.ABL tall.COMPP
    The emphasis here is on the tree as being taller.
  • Kisagae dagōn siōnna.
    tree.DAT house.ABL tall
    Again, the comparative is dropped.

"The tree is not as tall as the house."

  • Kisag dagae siōnys.
    tree house.DAT tall.COMPN
    This is the most common method. The reference is in the dative, and the adjective is comparative.
  • Kisag dagae siōnna.
    tree house.DAT tall
    Even the presence only of the dative case on the reference signals the subject's deficiency.
  • Kisagai dagos siōnor.
    tree.TOP house.NOM tall.COMPP
    Again, the phrasing suggests a deficiency on the tree's part.
  • Kisagōn dagae siōnor.
    tree.ABL house.DAT tall.COMPP
    Here the house is emphasised as being taller.
  • Kisagōn dagae siōnna.
    tree.ABL house.DAT tall
    The comparative was simply dropped.


Positive superlative adjectives are formed simply by appending -ad-, followed by the appropriate nominal or verbal ending as required; negative ones add -uss-. This method applies for both the predicative and attributive uses of adjectives.

  • Aska nēsērē siōnnada.
    Aska boys.LOC tall.SUPP
    Aska is the tallest amongst the boys.
  • Aska nēsērē siōnnussa.
    Aska boys.LOC tall.SUPN
    Aska is the least tall amongst the boys.

Deriving adjectives

The derivation of adjectives mostly involved nouns as roots, except with the participle forms of verbs. Most derivations involve the affixation of adjectivalising suffixes to noun stems, i.e. the form without any grammatical ending (didek- < didekos),

e- and o-

These two prefixes make modifiers of nouns, the former according a positive meaning, and the latter a negative.

E.g. dira "personal condition" becomes edira "feeling well", or odira "feeling under the weather".

Applicative adjectivaliser -nai

The adding of the adjectivalising suffix -nai to a noun turns the noun into an adjective (more broadly speaking, a modifier) of applicative denotation: root nouns are not all related to their derivative adjectives in the same way. The suffix is made up of two parts, the first (-n-) being the marker for modifiers, and the second (-ai) indicating intransitivity.

Phonetic assimilation takes place in cases where appending the suffix gives rise to certain consonant clusters:

  • -kn > -gn: didekos, didek- "strength" > didegnai "strong"
  • -fn > -vn: leif, leif- > leivnai
  • -bn > -mn: leber, leb- "tail" > lemnai "tailed"
  • -tn, -dn, -rn > -nn: dīmotos, dīmot- "law" > dīmonnai "lawful, legal"; sōdos, sōd- "fear" > sōnnai "fearful, afraid; "klara, klar- "horn" > klarenai "horned"

When the noun stem ends in an -s, a geminate consonant or a consonant cluster, an epenthetic -e- is inserted before the suffix; with s-stem nouns the sibilant is voiced:

  • -sn > -zen: thalasos, thalas- > thalazenai
  • geminates: lassos > lassenai
  • clusters: midra "minister" > midrenai "ministerial"

All other unlisted consonant clusters are permissible. Note also that in all instances -gn is pronounced [ŋn] as elsewhere.

Adjectives of approximation

Adjectives of approximation, of which examples in English include "salty", "boyish" and "songlike", indicate the similarity of the noun described to the referent that forms the root of the adjective. Adjectivalisers of similarity in Classical Arithide include:

  • -(i)ēlēn, verbal; "resembling, looking like" (derives from the noun hael "characteristic")
    alar "bird" > alarēlēn "birdlike"
  • -ītos, nominal; "having the character of"
    dhīs "fest, celebration" > dhidītos "festive"; nēs "boy" > neītos "boyish"
  • -ōrēn, verbal; "having or full of"
    ves "breeze" > vetōrēn "breezy"
  • -assēn, verbal; "-ish"
    nēs "boy" > neassēn "boyish"

Adjectives of relevance

Familiar adjectivalisers of relevance in English are mostly Hellenic in origin: -ic, as in poetic "in the manner of a poem/poet" or Tantric "regarding the Tantras"; -ous, as in famous "having a lot of fame". Classical Arithide has the following:

  • -(i)kios, nominal; "in the manner of" (derives from the verb ikēn "to pass")
    paryos "poem" > parykios "poetic"
  • -(i)nos, nominal; "-(i)an", characteristic of; related to
    zier "people" > zīrinos "human"
  • -(i)vēn, verbal; "having a tendency to"
    fignēn "to light up and start burning" > fignivēn "easily flammable"
  • -(i)ōs, -(i)od-, nominal; "consisting of"
    orathos "religion" > orathōs "religious, infused with religion"
  • -essēn, verbal; "believing in" (derives from hessēn "to believe")
    elamos "freedom" > elamessēn "libertarian"

Adjectives of belonging

Under this category fall adjectives that describe the "belonging" of a person, an object etc. to another, like the English suffixes -(i)an ("Egyptian", "Republican"). There are in Classical Arithide the ones below:

  • -ēthos1

, nominal; indicates nationality or origin
Lybein "Lybia" > Lybēthos "Lybian"; Isphea > Isphēthos "Isphean"

  • -udēn1

, verbal; "to be of a nationality or origin"
Areth > Arudēn "to be an Areth"; Isphēthos > Isphudēn "to be an Isphean"

  • -(i)meos or -(e)mios, nominal; indicating a certain style
    ante "water" > antimeos/antemios "fluid like water, fluent like water"

1 These two suffixes are used complementarily.

Derivation from adjectives


Most adverbs are formed from adjectives:

  • with the ending in place of the declension endings for nominal-class adjectives (aretis "emotionally painful" > aretiē "painfully"),
  • by appending -ur to the stems of verbal adjectives (milnai "vivacious" > milnur "vivaciously"), or
  • by using -ider for certain adjectives, including all variable-declension ones (kar "gentle" > karider "gently").

These endings convert adjectives to adverbs as predictably as the English suffix "-ly".


Deriving nouns from adjectives ("sweet' > "sweetness" etc.) involves two different processes in Classical Arithide, a different one for each of the nominal and verbal classes.

Verbal adjectives form their nouns regularly as with other verbs, by simply subtituting the verbal infinitive ending -ēn:

  • With the supine ending -os to form the noun of quality (identical to the English endings "-ness" or "-(i)ty");
  • With the agentive ending -on to form the substantive noun (as with English "libertarian" > "libertarian").

Nominal adjectives form their nouns with different suffixes from the verbal class. While some derivations appear irregular, it is due to phonetic changes that have obscured the relationship between the adjective and its derivative. To the stem of the nominal adjective is appended:

  • -(i)thos to form the noun of quality that declines with declension VIII;
  • -(i)tā (from -tata) to form the substantive noun that declines with declension V.


Verbs that can be formed from adjectives can be divided into two general types: transitive (e.g. "sweeten", "simplify") and intransitive ("ripen"). In Classical Arithide, to form the former group of verbs, one simply has to add the causativising verbal suffix -ārēn to the adjective's stem; the latter group comes about through more various ways—by adding -erēn (mal > malerēn "to ripen"), by simply adding the verbal suffix -ēn to the stem, or by arbitrary inflections (histos "holy" > histamēn "to sanctify").

See also