Conlang Relay 17/Sχáskari

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Relay text in Sχáskari

Évag żáldum·va·da ántam żazrá, aχtá médumiya·va ántar muid, dand ósas, hażán·da saṡká isprastás dadánas. Aχtávas hażán ha saθnas ósis, saṡká·tav·da ántas rahrav, hażán kávnis ar matá saθnás ósas. Árdan rádvanan ha satáṡ adás, Pálsavi Vráθkart·tav kávnati aχtáv dandust prastás dadánar.

Aχtá dandu·tav ha haznas dadánas, hażán·da żáni saṡká·tav maċántas dadánas. Navéd, saṡkán·tav ha thaχtás ósas, hażán·da médumiyas na saχántas dadánis.

Saṡkán·tav żáni námas ɣa dándus·tav phalbáṡtas dadánas, aχtá saṡkán jasváṡtas dadánas. Dándun matá satáṡ ósas, hażán ha saθnás am ósas, ha·da trúsaṡ ósas. Dandun·tav málstas ósas.

Saṡkán·tav hányei daṡnás ósas. Dóuċan·tav médumiya·av spohtás dadána, aχtá hażán saṡkí aχtá saṡkí dahnándas dadána. Saṡkát·tav dand·tav khaltas ósas, saṡkát·tav mażnás dadánar.

Translation into English

When the world was young and the mountains high, there was a man who fed a lynx. Although he knew that the lynx is a dangerous animal, he was not afraid. Everyone knows that the White Archers have given men dominion over all animals.

And the man decided to tease his lynx. However, the lynx wanted to return to the wilderness.

The lynx threw the man onto his back and attacked him. The man was afraid, and did not know what was happening. The man fled.

The lynx roared loudly. The roar shook the mountains, and many other lynxes arrived. The lynxes chased the man and ate him.

Vocabulary list

In the wordlist, all verbs have been given in the citation form (the present participle) followed by the past participle, as the derivation of the latter from the former is rarely regular. Similarly, each noun is given in the patientive singular, along with the noun’s inflectible stem.

The part of speech is noted throughout: abbreviations which might not be immediately transparent are an. com. and in., denoting a noun’s gender: these stand for animate, common and inanimate respectively.

Sχáskari POS Gloss
·da [rel.] relative complementiser
·tav, ·va [det.] the
am [neg.] negative particle
ar [pp.] because of
árdan [conj.] because
aχtá [conj.] and
aχtáv, aχtáva- [n, com.] dominion, control
aχtávas [conj.] although
dahnánaṡ, dahnándas [vi.] to approach
dand, dándu- [n. an.] man
daṡaṡ, daṡnás [vi.] to bark
douċ, dóuċa- [n. com.] bark
évag [rel.] when
ɣa [pp.] onto
ha, hażán [pron.] third person singular pronoun (genitive żáni)
hadaṡ, haznas [vt.] to decide to do
hain, hánya- [adj.] loud
ispratáṡ, isprastás [vt.] to feed
jasváṡaṡ, jasváṡtas [vt.] to attack
kávan, kávna- [n. an.] animal
khaláṡ, khaltás [vt.] chase
maċánaṡ, maċántas [vt.] to scare, to tease
máltaṡ, málstas [vi.] to flee, to run away
matá, matá- [n. com.] fear
mażáṡ, mażnás [vt.] to eat
médum, médumi- [n. in.] mountain
muid, mudya- [adj.] high
na [pp.] towards, to
nam, náma- [n.] comm. back (body part)
navéd [conj.] however
pals, pálsa- [adj.] white
phalbáṡaṡ, phalbáṡtas [vt.] to throw
pratáṡ, prastás [vt.] to give
rádvan, rádvana- [n. an.] everybody
rahr, rahra- [adj.] violent
saṡká, saṡká- [n. an.] lynx
satáṡ, saθnás [vt.] to know
saχámaṡ, saχántas [vi.] to return
spováṡ, spohtás [vt.] to shake
thagáṡ, thaχtás [vt.] to want
trúsaṡ, trústas [vi.] to happen, to occur
vráθkar, vráθkar- [n. an.] archer
żáldum, żálduma- [n. in.] earth, world
żazrá, żazrá- [adj.] young

Grammar notes

Sχáskari is a resolutely head-final language, exhibiting SOV word-order, postpositions rather than prepositions and adjectives and genitives before their nouns.

In terms of morphosyntactic alignment, the language is an active language of the fluid-S subtype: as such the sole argument of an intransitive verb can be marked like either the patient or agent of a transitive verb, depending on whether the subject exerts control over the action or not. This doesn’t really come into play in this passage, although it should be noted that this does effect gapping: where two clauses are coordinated, with identical subjects and objects in both, it is the object (the patientive argument) which can be omitted. In a phrase like “he shot it and he killed it”, English can omit the second “he”, while Sχáskari would omit the second “it”.


Nouns are straightforwardly divided into three genders (animate, common and inanimate) which can effect agreement with other parts of speech. In this passage, we have examples of two out of the three numbers, and examples of all five cases.

  • Patientive: used to mark the most patient-like argument of a transitive verb. The singular is the citation form of the noun, marked by no particular ending. The other cases and the patientive plural are marked by applying endings to an inflectible stem: as the derivation of this from the citation form is not always straightforward, the inflectible stem for each noun has been given in the wordlist. The plural patientive of animate and common nouns is formed by applying -i to the inflectible stem (dispacing any final vowel) while that of inanimate nouns is formed by applying -ya to the same.
  • Agentive: used to mark the most agent-like argument of a transitive verb. In the singular marked by applying -n to the inflectible stem, and in the plural by applying -t.
  • Genitive: used to denote that a noun qualifies another noun, either with the sense of possession or possibly a somewhat looser association. Aside from the genitive of the 3rd person singular pronoun żáni, we only have a genitive plural in this sample: it is formed by applying -ti to the inflectible stem.
  • Dative: used to denote the indirect object. The only example we have is a dative plural: formed by means of adding -st to the inflectible stem.
  • Postpositional: used to mark complements of postpositions. In the singular, formed by applying -s to the inflectible stem, while in the plural the -s is added to the patientive form.


The only determiners present in this sample are are the definite articles, which are clitics suffixed to the noun. Animate and common nouns use ·tav, while inanimate nouns use ·av.


Adjectives do not agree with their nouns in case or number. Adjectives qualifying animate nouns add -v to their inflectible stems.

Adjectives used appositively rather than predicately suffix -i to their stems (in adjectives qualifying animate nouns, this suffix is applied after the animate marker -v): this attributive inflection causes the final -a of an inflectible stem to raise to -e.


Verbs in Sχáskari are somewhat tricky. In normal speech, like the register in which stories of this sort are written, lexical verbs are generally not inflected synthetically for tense: instead, tense and aspect are conveyed by means of periphrastic constructions:

  • The imperfective or durative aspect is marked by means of a periphrasis using the existential verb ad- and the present participle.
  • The perfect aspect of transitive verbs is marked by the verb dan- “to do”, and the past participle.
  • The perfect aspect of intransitive verbs is marked by the existential verb ad- and the past participle.

As the inflection of the two auxiliary verbs is hopelessly irregular, it would be unfair and somewhat pointless to offer full paradigms of regular verbs and ask you to work it out from there. Instead, I’ll give the tensed forms for the two verbs and the copula, which is also used in this passage, and the number markers:

Existential verb: ad-

indicative subjunctive
Present adá- adí- 

Preterite óda- ódi-

“To do” dan-:

indicative subjunctive
Present dána- dáni-

Preterite dadána- dadáni-

Copula: ta-:

indicative subjunctive
Present tá- tei-
Preterite ánta- ánti-

Verbs agree in number with the subject (the agentive argument in transitive verbs, the sole argument in intransitive verbs, the first element in a copular sentence) in number and gender. The plural marker for both genders is -r. The singular marker used with animate and common nouns is -s, which is only used in the past tense. The singular marker used with inanimate nouns is -m.

The formation of the two participles is also rather irregular, so in the wordlist both the present and past participles are given.

The complementiser

Subordinate and relative clauses are marked off from their matrix clauses by being introduced by the complementiser ·da. This is a clitic and cannot stand in clause-initial position: as a result it is cliticised to the right of the first lexical word in the clause.