Conlang Relay 22/łaá siri

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«sa'riya'aá saayu' laa'á yayusaá»

sa'riya'aá łu'aarlí saaraałaa'atłii'. satłilayaa ruuła saaliraaratłu laasí ruulaya' łiyá'. li łiraaya', raár 'ursała tłii'aa'liyu laa'i łiila'ú. raár liyalayaa li tłaalurraa'u, silisilayii'i yuu lii'aa'yii'i liyalayaa yuu tłaraatła'arrá. 'ursała silisilayii'i lii'aa'yii'i la'ya', tłayaá sałaa' raaraa'ra. tłayaá 'ursała tłiiraa'aartłí lirsa riiraa'łuu', laya 'ursała luu'łaya' laarsula riisiiraalasu. sa'riya'aá satłilayaa ruulayaa tłasa li łiraaratłú, laarsu larsaá li'aa'tłaa. liyiya laarsula tłiya' lii'aa'saá sa! 'ursała laayiya yuu liirá sa'riya'aá laarsula yuu łiiraaratłú. la'łá, 'ursała liłur'aar'aár lilułurłaayá. sa'riya'aá 'ursała lurtła'aa'ú, laayiya łitłara sa. ruuła tłasa li'ayú laayiyár liilurtła'aa'ú. ruuła sa'riya'aá satłila łi'i laayiya tłitłá. luu'ła tłasa liiyu' luu'łayii'i liilalasú. wa!

Interlinears and Translation

Laras Drabas-al Cǿphiro-l-ol

song fall-LOC merchant-PART-LOC

'song of the merchants' fall'

sa'riya'aá saayu' laa'á yayusaá

SENT\merchant SAA-DIR\fall about song-ABST

'Song about the falling merchant'

A-phramal-sa cǿphiro ganas-an.

AOR-prepare-3SG merchant trip-ALL

'The merchant prepared for a trip'

sa'riya'aá łu'aarlí saaraałaa'atłii'

SENT\merchant IMM-IMM-DIR\ready SAA-INFR-journey

'The merchant readied himself to journey'

A-dragane-sa vegil-im im trango-n-u-e-sa móla.

AOR-load-3SG wagon-O.PL PL.O pull-IMPERF-COND-SUBJ-3SG donkey

'He loaded up the wagons that the donkey would be pulling'

satłilayaa ruuła saaliraaratłu laasí ruulaya' łiyá'

thing-INAN donkey-ANIM SAA-POT-HAB-INFR-pull C cart-INAN=at IMM-NEAR-DIR\

'He put things on the carts that the donkey would be pulling'

Sí dragane-sa im vegil-im

when load-3SG O.PL wagon-O.PL

'When he loaded the wagon,'

li łiraaya'


'While putting [things on the wagon]'

i-sel-a-sa janam chvamal chvanal.

AOR-see-O.SG-3SGchild-O company-PART dog-PART

"he saw a child in the company of dogs.'

raár 'ursała tłii'aa'liyu laa'i łiila'ú.

SENT\child dog-AN DIST-DIST-VIS-be.with C IMM-DIST-DIR\see

'he saw a child that was with dogs'

Sí chol-n-a am janam changal-am,

when become-IMPERF-O.SG DEF.O child-OBJ hungry-O.ANIM.SG

'As the child grew hungry,'

raár liyalayaa li tłaalurraa'u,

SENT\child food-INAN while DIST-ABST-POT-INC-INFR-feel

'as the child began to feel hunger'

ah-arratha-sa am cath am phante-a-sa matal.

AOR-enter-3SG DEF.O house DEF.O find-O.SG-3SG food

'He entered the house to search for food'

silisilayii'i yuu lii'aa'yii'i liyalayaa yuu tłaraatła'arrá

house-INAN=in P food-INAN in.order DIST-ABS-INFR-find

'he entered into the house in order to find food in there'

Sí arrantha-sa a chvana am cath,

when enter-3SG DEF dog DEF.O house

'When the dog entered the house'

'ursała silisilayii'i lii'aa'yii'i la'ya',

dog-ANIM house-INAN=in ABST=at

'when the dog entered the house'

a-darval-e-si ethlini cham.

AOR-fiorbit-O-S.PLrelatives that

'The relatives forbade that'

tłayaá sałaa' raaraa'ra

SENT\relative NEG ABS-ABST-RPRT-permit

'[the merchant heard that] the relatives did not permit that'

A-tala-sa a-n chvanan am nasate-sa

AOR-tell-3SG DEF-DATdog-O DEF.O sit.down-3SG

'He tells the dog to sit down."

tłayaá 'ursała tłiiraa'aartłí lirsa riiraa'łuu'

SENT\relative dog DIST-DIST-INFR-sit C ABS-DIST-RPRT-order

'the family members command the dog to sit'

a a-traga-sa sa-m rotha-m-an.

DEF AOR-tie-3SG 3-O bush-O-ALL

'And ties him to a bush.'

laya 'ursała luu'łaya' laarsula riisiiraalasu.

and dog-ANIM plant-ANIM=at rope-INAN ABS-DIST-APPLIC:DIST-INFR-bind

'and tie the dog to a bush/tree with rope'

Sí trangge-sa o cǿphiro im bredesim imin vegilin,

when pull-3SG DEF.SG merchant DEF.PL.Ofreight- PL.O DEF.PL-ALL wagon-ALL

'When the merchant pulls the freight towards the wagons,'

sa'riya'aá satłilayaa ruulayaa tłasa li łiraaratłú,

SENT\merchant thing-INAN cart-INAN to while IMM-NEAR-INFR-carry

'while the merchant carries things to the cart,'

i-sel-a-ma am né thana on lin phelin.

AOR-see-O-1SG DEF.SO NEG be-IMP SG-DAT rope enough

'I see that there is not enough rope'

laarsu larsaá li'aa'tłaa

rope sufficient-ABST ABST-NEAR-VIS-lack

'[he sees] he lacks a sufficient quantity of rope'

Mar i-sel-a-ma lin anthar!

but AOR-see-O-1SG rope other

'but I see another rope!'

liyiya laarsula tłiya' lii'aa'saá sa!

but rope-INAN DIST=at ABST-DIST-VIS-exist PRT

'but over there is a rope I see!'

Sa a-natraga-sa am chvana-m.

so AOR-untie-3SG DEF.SO dog-O

'So he unties the dog'

'ursała laayiya yuu liirá sa'riya'aá laarsula yuu łiiraaratłú

dog-ANIM so PRT ABST-DIST-DIR\release SENT\merch rope-IN in.order carry

'so the dog is released for the merchant to get the rope'

A e-béa-sa a chvana dróanth a chvaranth crach-an.

DEF AOR-begin-3SG DEF dog run-GER DEF make-GER noise-ALL

'and the dog begins running and making noise'

la'łá, 'ursała liłur'aar'aár lilułurłaayá


'then [to his dismay] the dog begins running around and barking loudly'

U-poch-a-sa sa om cǿphiro-m,

AOR-spook-O-3SG 3 SG.O merchant-O

'he frightens the merchant'

sa'riya'aá 'ursała lurtła'aa'ú

SENT\merch dog-AN NEAR-IMM-INVS-DIR\fear

'the dog frightens the merchant'

a a-tlapha-sa o cǿphiro am chvanam.

DEF AOR-slap-3SG DEF.SG merchant DEF.SO dog-O

'and the merchant slaps the dog'

laayiya łitłara sa


'so he hits the dog'

A i-leph-a a chvana a-m-an mólan a u-poch-sa a móla.

DEF AOR-yelp-O DEF dog DEF.O.ALL donkey-DAT DEF spook-3SG DEF donkey

'the dog yelps at the donkey and frightens the donkey'

ruuła tłasa li'ayú laayiyár liilurtła'aa'ú

donkey-AN towards ABST-NEAR-DIR\yelp because NEAR-DIST-POT-INC-DIR\fear

'the dog barked towards the donkey so he grew frightened'

A i-tiphe-sa a móla om cǿphirom a im bredesim.

DEF hit-3SG DEF donkey DEF.SO merchant-O DEF PL.O freight-O

'and the donkey hits the merchant's freight'

ruuła sa'riya'aá satłila łi'i laayiya tłitłá.

donkey-AN SENT\merch thing-INAN IMM-NEAR-POSS then DIST-NEAR-DIR\hit

'and then hit the merchant's things [by accident]' I-phringi so om-on rotha-m-an a aphlaca. Â!

jump 3 DEF-ALL bush-O-ALL DEF get.stuck hey!

'and jumps into the bush and gets stuck. hey!'

luu'ła tłasa liiyu' luu'łayii'i liilalasú. wa!

plant-AN towards ABST-DIST-DIR\fall plant-AN=in ABST-DIST-DIR\entangle hey

'and falls into a plant and gets entangled in it. hey!'


łaá siri is an artlang with verb-final clauses. Word order is not conditioned on thematic role (subject, agent, patient, etc), it is instead based on precedence in a hierarchy of animacy. Nouns of higher animacy occur leftmost; the order of precedence is SENTIENT (human, animate) >> ANIMATE (nonhuman, animate) >> INANIMATE >> ABSTRACT (noncorporeal).

Nominal Morphology

Nominal morphology is fairly straightforward. Bare nouns delimit broad semantic spaces, which are narrowed by the use of animacy classifiers (suffixes). The classifiers are: ​​

SENTIENT (human)
ablaut of root's final nucleus to -aá-
ANIMATE (nonhuman)

'ABSTRACT (noncorporeal): -saá

  • this suffix is in a state of flux & alternates freely between -la and -layaa based on prosodic word shape

If this system of animacy is confusing, here is |a PDF which explains it in great detail.

After suffixes you may find enclitics of location -- this cliticize right after the suffixes above.

Verbal Morphology

Verbal morphology is significantly more complex than nominal morphology. Verbs inflect with prefixes only -- conjugation is templatic. Here is the template:


[S/O DEIXIS] is morphological marking of the physical position in space of the subject and object relative to the deictic center of the discourse (usually the center is the speaker, but in this text, it is the "merchant" because he is the main character of the poem). łaá siri does not mark for person and it does not have personal pronouns. The entire system of deixis compensates for this. You can think of deixis as morphologically encoded demonstratives "here," "there," "over there," etc. For instance, if I were to make the statement: The cat is chasing a mouse, the verb "chase" would conjugate for the deixis of the subject ("the cat") and the object ("a mouse") relative to me (the speaker) -- if both the cat is near me, but the mouse is farther away, it would be NEAR-DISTANT, but if the cat were farther away and the mouse were running towards me, it might be DISTANT-NEAR. It is very relative and flexible.

If this is unclear, this PDF may be helpful.

Subject Prefixes

IMMEDIATE ("here," deictic center)
NEAR ("there")
DISTANT ("over there")
ABSENT ("elsewhere, not in the speaker's field of vision")
ABSTRACT ("somewhere, nonspecific reference")

Object Prefixes


There is a special prefix saa- which is used in infinitives, gerunds, gnomic aspect, or nonreferential conjugations (i.e. verbs which have no specific subject or object). saa- is fills the slot where you would usually find [S/O DEIXIS].

All verbs are morphosemantically transitive. Intransitive verbs are derived in one of two ways:

Null Subject The null subject is an ABSTRACT subject prefix l- on the verb with no overt referent in the discourse. In this case, the real subject of the utterance is treated as the object in verbal morphology. This is very common, so beware!

The second way is mentioned below.

łaá siri has the ability to derive causatives with no overt morphology. Causatives are just derived by taking a verb root which would usually be detransitivized and keeping it transitive. For instance: l-u-tła'aa'ú. "I am afraid." (with a null subject) ł-i-tła'aa'ú. "I frightened you." (with full [S/O DEIXIS]) These null causatives allow locative verbs to behave as "put-type" predicates. For instance, the verb "be in" can be used intransitively to mean "x is in y" but also transitively to mean "x puts y in z." In these cases, the destination (z) is marked with a locative enclitic as an oblique argument.

[VALENCE] has three functions in this text:

lu- (derives an intransitive verb, the [S/O DEIXIS] conjugations in these kinds of verbs are congruous (i.e. IMM-IMM, DIST-DIST, NEAR-NEAR, etc.)
-r (because the word order of łaá siri is dependent on the hierarchy as mentioned above, word order is not a reliable for determining who is the subject and who is the object, so if an entity of lower animacy is acting on an entity of higher animacy, the inverse morpheme is used -- this only occurs once in the text)
sV- (the applicative promotes an instrument from an oblique position to a core argument of the verb. the V in the prefix will change in accordance with the deixis of the instrument, e.g. sii is analyzed as APPLIC:DIST, su is APPLIC:IMM, etc.)

[MOOD/ASPECT] must co-occur.

used for stating fear or dismay of the subject/speaker (to x's dismay, unfortunately...).
if this co-occurs with the INFERENTIAL evidential raa-, it indicates the speaker's certainty of an event (like "probably") but if it co-occurs with the DIRECT evidential, it should be treated as a modally neutral indicative (i.e. it contributes no meaning).
something that happens frequently or as a matter of habit
an event or state which is beginning or starting to be realized (to begin x-ing, to get adj, to become, to start, etc.)

[EVIDENTIALITY] is another core category of verbs. It indicates the speaker or subject's source of knowledge. There are two "pure" evidentials in łaá siri:

raa'- (for things you come to know by hearing)
'aa'- (for things you come to know by seeing)

These don't translate too easily into or from English. The reportative is like "I heard..." and the visual is like "I see..."

In addition to these two "pure" evidentials, there are two more complicated evidentials which encode evidentiality AND epistemic modality.

this evidential is realized as a "pitch toggle morpheme"**
  • The INFERENTIAL raa- indicates that the speaker or subject is making a statement whose truth they are uncertain of, namely a guess or a supposition. However, the reason that this evidential is more complicated is that it ALSO is used as a marker of irrealis events (i.e. events or states which are supposed/hypothesized to occur but are not actually occurring at the time of speech).
    • The DIRECT is used for facts or statements whose truth has been established, and also for events which have conclusively occurred. It is indicated with a "pitch toggle morpheme" which changes the underlying pitch structure of verbs. Here's an example:

a. la'u: "to see" b. ł-i-la'ú "I saw you" In (a) is the underlying root. In (b) is the conjugated verb with a pitch toggle morpheme indicating the DIRECT evidentiality. The accute accent shows this.

Basically you can just compare the verb root in the text to the verb root in the word list and if they differ only in accute accents, you know it's the pitch toggle morpheme.


Besides nouns and verbs, there's not much else to worry about. Adverbs always precede verbs. There are a few particles which are glossed in the wordlist. One thing I did not discuss is the syntax of relative clauses and possessives.

There are some "deictic postpositions" which are defective verbs that only conjugate for [S/O DEIXIS]. Each deictic postposition can mark either possession (in which case SUBJECT = possessor, OBJECT = possessum) or relative clauses (in which case [S/O DEIXIS] = laa-).

Also, clausal complements (as in I saw that you left) to verbs may either be in the order VO or OV, but with the word order OV, the clausal object has the postposition lirsa after it. Otherwise it's just VO with no postposition after the clausal O.


I have copied these right from my dictionary because this is fastest, please excuse any superfluous things (i.e. extra meanings, I have tried to cut down as much as possible!).

v. (Of animate things) to cry out in shock or pain [Null Subject verb].
deic.pp. (Idiomatic) Used as an oblique marker of the topic of verbs of speaking, saying, telling, ABOUT, REGARDING.
v. 1. to be (at the) ready, to be prepared to do something [Null Subject verb, animate subject]; 2. to prepare to do something, to ready for something [Causative verb].
v. to sit [Reflexive verb].
v. 1. to run or jog to somewhere; 2. to move something quickly.
deic.pp. 1. Used for expressing possession of disposable things which the possessor feels little attachment to, typically inanimate; 2. Used for forming locative subordinate clauses, roughly similar to English "where" clauses.
v. 1. to perceive, be aware of, or take notice of something; 2. to sense or feel smth with intuition or one's gut, though there may not be a physical manifestation of what is felt (note: "to feel food" is an idiom which means "to be hungry")
n. +ANIM: general term for those of the genus Canis, DOG.
v. to move across terrain, TO TRAVEL, TO GO ON A JOURNEY
v. 1. (Of humans) to yell, scream, speak with a loud and intimidating manner; 2. (Of animals) to bark, roar or growl.
v. to verbally command someone or something (animate) to do something, TO ORDER.
phrase. "after..."
phrase. "when/while..."
v. 1. to see, look at, stare at something
1. n. +SENT ANIM: refers to one's hand, paw, wing, and wrist or (colloquially) finger(s); 2. n. +INAN: refers to claw(s), talon(s), and nail(s) on one's hand; 3. n. +ABSTR: a sufficient quantity
1. v. to capture something or someone by force; 2. v. to make something or somebody come to a stop, TO HALT; 3. v. to bind or tie somebody or something up (as a restrictive act); 4. n. +INAN: bonds, bondage, items used for tieing up captured opponents;
v. to get stuck inside something (+yii'i) which is tangled and chaotic, TO GET ENTANGLED [Null Subject verb].
free variant of laayiya Used pre-sententially rather than as an adverb.
(fr. var. laarsu) (Decomposition: laar, lasu) n. +INAN: rope, thread, cord, any of many long, thin strings of fabric used for mending, tieing, etc.
(fr. var. laya) adv. Used to show the outcome of a conditioned event, THEN, SO THAT, TO THE POINT THAT, SO AS TO.
adv. Used to show the cause of a conditioned event, BECAUSE, SINCE.
adv. Used with consecutive phrases using this adverb, during, at the same time as, WHILE (v:INFR).
post. Complementizer used for subordinating verbal arguments which are clauses.
n. +INAN: foodstuffs, general term for things consumed by humans and animals
1. v. to be in a quantity of two [Null Subject verb]; 2. v. to accompany someone, TO GO WITH;
coordconn. Occurs between clauses to emphasize contrast or difference, equivalent to BUT, HOWEVER, WHEREAS.
n. +ANIM INAN: generic term for plants, vegetation, trees, flowers, FLORA.
v. 1. to let smb do smth, to give permission, to be permitted, TO ALLOW, TO PERMIT; 2. to release a captive, untie bonds, or let somebody or something out of one's control [Null subject verb or Causative verb].
v. 1. to pull or drag something along; 2. to tug something; 3. to carry an item in one's hands to someplace
n. 1. +SENT ANIM: (a) youth, child, young living thing;
1. n. +SENT: someobody upon which trust or wishes are placed; 2. n. +ANIM: a beast of burden, general term for horses and donkeys; 3. n. +INAN: a vehicle used for transportation of large items or large numbers of things; 4. v. to carry something physical or bear something abstract
prt. Clause-final particle which asserts a point, declaration, or observation with emphasis.
n. merchant
prt. Used to negate verbs which have either a visual, inferential, or reportative evidential morpheme.
n. 1. +SENT ANIM INAN ABSTR: (Non-interrogative) an unspecified or unknown entity, SOMETHING, ANYTHING; 2. +SENT: (Interrogative) who, what or which person; 3. +ANIM INAN ABSTR: (Interrogative) what or which thing.
v. 1. to be real, to exist; 2. to be true (factual); 3. to be alive, to live; 4. Existential verb equivalent to English "there is". [Note: Null subject verb.]
deic.pp. 1. Used for expressing relationships between entities and their attributive qualities; 2. Used as a complementizer for clauses which describe the head noun, similar to English "that" or "which".
n. 1. +SENT ABSTR: dream, dreamscape; 2. +INAN: protective dwelling or a building that is lived in, HOME, HOUSE; 3. +INAN: general term for buildings.
v. to hit or strike something or someone by accident.
1. v. to have nothing of something, to lack something; 2. v. to not exist;
v. 1. to search for, pursue, or seek something; 2. to find something after searching [v:TERM].
v. 1. to be cautious or careful out of fear [Detransitive verb]</nowiki?; 2. (Of something) to frighten someone, to be frightened of something <nowiki>[The causer is the subject in this case. The verb behaves as a causative form of the intransitive.].
v. to hit, punch, strike something on purpose
post. Used to mark the thing relative to which movement towards is occurring, TO, TOWARDS.
n. 1. +SENT: one's family members or relatives
loc.v. to be located at.
1. v. to have nothing of something, to lack something; 2. v. to not exist;
tłi Deictic pronoun used for entities distant from the speaker or the deictic center of the discourse, DISTANT PROXIMITY.
prt. Used to call the listener's attention to something, like "hey!" or "yo!". </nowiki>[Note: /w/ is not a phonemic consonant but is used in this pragmatic discourse marker, similar to how English "tsk" is a dental click despite the lack of a phonemic click.]</nowiki>
n. 1. +SENT: voice; 2. +ANIM: pleasing or euphonic sounds; 3. +ABSTR: song.
loc.v. 1. to be inside of, inner, within
v. to fall on or into something unknowingly or by accident [Null Subject verb].
adv. 1. used to indicate purpose or intent, IN ORDER TO [Coordinating two consecutive phrases can be used to expressed "do x for y," where x is what is done and y is the clause expressing to purpose or intent.]
Conlang Relay 22
Exolangs Ring General Ring Poetry Ring
Pete Bleackley — iljenatorch
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