Classical Arithide declension

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See also Classical Arithide grammar for more information

Owing to the language's inflectionary nature, Classical Arithide nouns, pronouns and certain of its adjectives must be declined (i.e. inflected) to provide grammatical meaning. A group of words that decline in the same way is known as a "declension class". There are 5 declension classes for nouns and the same for adjectives; pronouns are generally irregular.

Declension classes

Nouns in Classical Arithide are classed into different declensions based on their semantic meaning. This lexically based categorisation means that each declension class represents a broad group of nouns that share a certain characteristic. Traditional grammatical analysis takes the number of declension classes in Classical Arithide to be five, on top of which are various subgroups that decline in slightly different ways from the parent class.

Declension I, with the characteristic nominative singular ending -os, is the most productive declension class of all. It is associated with morally and emotionally neutral abstractions: states (valonos "peace"), qualities (fyginthos "dangerousness"), acts (leatos "act of worship") as well as other types of concepts (sonos "daily life"). As may be noted the supine verbal noun (i.e. "the act of doing something") also falls under this declension.

Declension II nouns take the ending -as and refer to places: kitaras "hall", sivas "town", leatas "place of worship. The verbal noun of location (i.e. "the place where something is done") falls under declension II.

Declension III nouns take the ending -ir, and can be differentiated into classes III-a with simple -ir, and III-b with -rir. This declension comprises nouns with negative moral or emotional denotations or connotations: vokir "evil", kirir "faux pas", kreisantir "grief of bereavement".

Declension IV is the most general declension class. Its nouns have no characteristic nominative singular ending but instead shares it with declension V (-a), and its lexical scope is practically unlimited; Class-IV nouns can refer to items, animals, plants or any other non-human, non-divine object. E.g. arotha "carpet", hegra "vine", izia "coin".

Declension V comprises nouns referring to the human, the divine or the socio-cultural aspect of life: thelera "neighbour", venera "deity", kunera "currency". Complex historical reasons have given Class V nouns the double nominative ending of -era, the final part of which (-a) is shared with Class IV. There is a subgroup, V-b, whose nominative singulars end in -on but otherwise decline identically with regular Class-V nouns: these are the special agentive nouns (see next section), generally formed from verbs but occasionally found fossilised elsewhere in words belonging to other parts of speech.

These five declension classes can be broadly classified into two categories: concrete nouns (IV, V) and abstract nouns (I, II, III).

Distinction between -thera and -on

Both the nominative singular endings -thera (V-a) and -on (V-b) indicate people, or agents. While in surviving Classical Arithide texts only the latter seemed to be sufficiently lexemic to be productive (as the agentive noun suffix, for one), there existed a semantic distinction between the two suffixes that persisted long enough for the -thera ending to experience a resurgence in productivity in the vulgar tongue, and hence subsequently the koine and the modern standard.

The lexeme -on was straightforward: it simply denoted any person who committed any action, and could be freely attached to any verb due to its broad semantic scope:

  • serēn "to write" > seron "one who writes, the person who wrote"
  • terēn "to weave" > teron "one who weaves, the person who wove"
  • damēn "to carry" > damon "one who carries, the person who carried"

It is even possible to attach -on to secondary verbal stems, e.g. participle forms. Compare:

  • seron "one who writes", "one who wrote" VS
  • seiron "the one writing" VS
  • serāson "one who has written", "one who has been published"

-Thera, on the other hand, was more restrictive: this suffix could be used only to denote such persons as professionals, passionate believers, or members of the family and so on. In other words, the action in question could not be a casual, one-off incidence, but had to be done by virtue of vocation, profession, conviction, or social role. Note the semantic contrast between the examples in the above paragraph and those that follow:

  • serēn "to write" > sesthera "author"
  • terēn "to weave" > testhera "tailor, seamstress"
  • damēn "to carry" > danthera "porter"

The above examples also demonstrate the regular phonological assimilation undergone in nominalisation.

For more, see Classical Arithide conjugation#Verbal nouns.

Grammatical cases

Fully declining a noun requires expressing its 11 cases:

  • Nominative, which marks the subject of a verb; the nominative is the case in which a noun or pronoun is cited in the dictionary, hence it is also known as the citation case
  • Topical, which marks the topic of a sentence
  • Accusative, which marks the object of a verb
  • Genitive, which marks possession by
  • Dative, which marks motion towards, and by extension benefaction to etc.
  • Locative, which marks location (with places) or indicates shift of grammatical focus (with objects and people)
  • Ablative, which marks motion away or existence apart, and by extension is used with prepositions such as parō "about, regarding" or etel "by (agentive)"
  • Instrumental, which marks instruments, and by extension accompaniment, using the preposition etel "with"
  • Vocative, which marks direct address
  • Connective, which is an open-ended stem form to which certain affixes or other nouns are appended, e.g. salumos "heaven" + innos "top" > saluminnum "in heaven" (lit. "on heaven"; innos is in the locative) and allas "city" + dolō "around" (from dolos "surroundings") > alladolō "around the city" 1
  • Essive, which marks existence as


Alladolō (connective + prep.) must be distinguished from the similar dolō allior (prep. + ablative); while both might be translated as "around the city", the former refers to the areas outside and surrounding a certain city, while the latter refers to places all around within the city: alladolō siethē sena "there are flowers around the city" vs. dolō allior siethē sena "there are flowers all about the city".

Of these, the connective and essive cases in all nouns are identical, resulting in 10 effective cases. Should the need arise to differentiate the two, however, the essive may take on the auxiliary suffix -sanos (lit. "semblance, condition, state").

First declension -os

Nouns and adjectives of the first declension take the following endings, illustrated by thiftios "temptation":

sg. pl.
Nom. thiftios thiftiēs
Top. thiftiou thiftiēu
Acc. thiftio thiftiē
Gen. thiftioi thiftiēi
Dat. thiftiae thiftiēā <*thiftiēiae
Loc. thiftiōm <*thiftioum thiftiēum
Abl. thiftiōn thiftiēn
Ins. thiftitis1 thiftiētūs
Voc. thiftiō thiftiē
Ess./Con. thiftie, thifti- thiftiē, thiftiē-


As seen, vowel-stem nouns lose the thematic -o- in the instrumental singular. Consonant-stem nouns, however, retain the vowel: klevos "force" becomes klevotis.

Second declension -as

Nouns and adjectives of the first declension take the following endings, illustrated by thiftias "place of temptation":

sg. pl.
Nom. thiftias thiftiais
Top. thiftiau thiftiāi
Acc. thiftia thiftiai
Gen. thiftiai thiftiās
Dat. thiftīs1 thiftīei1
Loc. thiftium thiftiām
Abl. thiftior2 thiftiēri
Ins. thiftiātis thiftiaitis
Voc. thiftiā thiftiai
Ess./Con. thiftia, thiftia- thiftiai, thiftiai-

1 The actual endings are -īs and -iei. With -i- stem words, a simple, long -ī- results in both cases.

2 The actual ending is -ior. In this case the -i- in the case ending is elided.

Third declension -ir, -rir

In Classical Arithide, nouns that end in -ir in the nominative singular are descended from the older -ydr̩, i.e. they were originally considered part of the Old Arithide "Society & Culture" declension, but regular phonological erosion has made it a separate declension class of its own. Sound change also introduced a variant stem, -ir-, and both forms appear liberally throughout Classical Arithide texts.

Vokir "evil" (Class III-a) is declined as follows:

sg. pl.
Nom. vokir vokirēs
Top. vokyrō, vokirō vokirau
Acc. vokiri vokirai
Gen. vokirin vokirīs
Dat. vokiri vokirei
Loc. vokirum vokirium
Abl. vokirior vokirēri
Ins. vokyrū, vokirū vokir
Voc. vokiri vokirē
Ess./Con. vokire, vokir- vokira, vokirē-

Class III-b nouns (ending in -rir) take the same endings, but with -id- in the stem rather than -ir- as the preceding r- blocks rhotacism.

Fourth declension -a

Steima "measurement illustrates the declension paradigm for Class IV nouns:

sg. pl.
Nom. steima steimeia
Top. steimeu steimaiā
Acc. steime steimai
Gen. steimus steimeus
Dat. steimi steimēi <*steimaii
Loc. steimera steimaira
Abl. steimōn steimēn
Ins. steimibas steimaibas
Voc. steimā steimāī
Ess./Con. steime, steim- steimaie, steimai-

Fifth declension -ra

Theler "neighbour" and agnon "doer" are declined as below:

sg. pl. sg. pl.
Nom. theler theleis agnon agneis1
Top. theleu theleiā agnona agnēna
Acc. thelor thelei agnone agnēne
Gen. thelus thelius agnonus agnēnus
Dat. theleīs thelīei agnoni agnēni
Loc. thelera thelirē agnonim agnēnōm
Abl. theleōn theliēn agnonōn agnēnēn
Ins. thelet(is) thelitū agnonū agnēnū
Voc. thelā thelī agnonā agnēnā
Ess./Con. thele, thele- theli, theli- agnon, agnon- agnein, agnein-

1 The form -eis is a contraction of the older -ēnis; the former is more often seen in later texts, but the latter remains widespread and the standard for formal and serious topics.

Irregular nominatives

The nominatives of certain nouns do not follow the declension paradigms strictly as set out above. Most notable among these are the first, fourth and fifth declension nouns that end in combinations of either a long vowel or consonant + -s. This phenomenon is due to regular phonological processes, which have seen significant syncopation and elision erode affected words to their current forms. E.g.:

Declension I

  • -fos > -wos > -ōs
    • *safos "shade" > saōs, acc. saō, gen. savoi, dat. savae, loc. saōm, abl. saōn, ins. saftis
      Observe the fortition that occurs of -w- when followed by >2 vowels (savoi) or by a vowel other than -o- (savae). The original -f- is also retained in the instrumental case where the consonant that follows it obstructs the sound change. The plural is not affected similarly due to the absence of conditioning criteria.
  • (-oCos >) -oFos > ōs where C represents any voiced plosive, and F any voiced fricative except /v/
    • *bogos "swelling" > bōs, acc. , gen bōi; the remainder are formed regularly from bog-
    • *orathodos "religious" > orathōs, acc. orathō; the remainder are regular (orathod-)
      This process also affected nominal adjectives, as shown.
  • -osos > os by haplology, e.g. *kiosos "gap, gulf, emptiness" > kios, kios-, otherwise regularly declined

The irregularities exhibited in declensions IV and V are older, and caused more by fricativisation and general lenition than by syncope and elision. There is no tendency that can be generalised, but rather an assortment of commonly used nouns that have been phonologically eroded.

Declension IV

  • *dad "hand" > dadz > daz > das, acc. dade/daze, nom. pl. dadāī, acc. pl. dadai/dazai; the remainder are regular.
    • *ad "sea" follows a similar path to become as, but its stem was permanently altered to az-, i.e. gen. azus, acc. pl. azai etc.
  • *vet "breeze" > vets > ves, acc. vete, gen. vetus etc. regularly
  • *tor "step" > tos, acc. tore, gen. torus etc. regularly
  • *reg "day" > reɣ > > rēs
    The stem was permanently altered to rē-, i.e. acc. , gen. rēus, acc. pl. rēai etc.
  • *gent "bloodline" > gēn, acc. gente, etc. regularly
  • *gjor "tongue" > , acc. iore, etc. regularly with stem ior- [jor]

The pronominal declensions were also affected by these changes, as evidenced in the genitive singular and the possessive series (e.g. nes, net-).

Declension V

  • *aidonr̩ > aidōr, nom. aidōra, gen. aidonin etc. regularly with stem aidon-
  • *katasr̩ > katār, nom. katāra, gen. katasin etc. regularly with stem katas-

In addition, there are also two Class-II nouns that exhibit irregular nominatives: ilēthēs "world", stem ilēthēa-; itās "port", stem itāna-.

Due to the age of the processes that resulted in these irregular forms, nouns that were formed in these productive classes were not subject to such elisions.

These reductive processes only kicked in when the consonants mentioned above were in isolation, i.e. they did not occur as part of a cluster. In addition, the behaviour of the vowels immediately before the affected consonants exhibits a degree of variation that is not entirely regular or predictable. While much of the time they remain unchanged, in certain nouns the high vowels [i] and [u] may be lowered to [e] and [o] (which was not reflected in the standard orthography but gleaned from informal correspondences and writings).

Most problematically, for reasons of stress and perhaps scansion, they might sometimes be lengthened: e.g. the stem of kūs "proper" is actually kur-, and that of dhīs "festival" is dhid-. The occurrence of -ū- and -ī- in these cases appears to be entirely arbitrary, especially given the precedents of words like das, dad- "hand" that do not undergo compensatory lengthening.

Irregular nouns

Main article: List of Classical Arithide irregular nouns

As with all languages, Classical Arithide has its share of irregularly-declined nouns, some of them being among the most commonly used.

In addition to that, most personal names in Classical Arithide are irregularly declined (e.g. Pereos, gen. Fini; Symbakos, voc. Sebeō). See also Areth names#Classical declension for more on personal name declensions.

See also