- 1 Introduction
- 2 Alphabet and Pronunciation
- 3 Pronouns
- 4 Numbers
- 5 Articles & Determiners
- 6 Nouns
- 7 Adpositions
- 8 Adjectives
- 9 Verbs
- 10 Adverbs
- 11 Sentence Structure
- 12 Easter Eggs
Maltcégj is an a priori, agglutinative, semi-analytic head-initial language created by BenJamin P. Johnson in 2001. It has a strict VSO sentence structure that is modified with large numbers of verbal and nominal particles.
Alphabet and Pronunciation
- Primary stress is indicated in words of more than one syllable with an acute accent over the primary vowel. In diphthongs, the accent is placed on the first vowel.
- Where two vowels appear together but are not a diphthong, the second vowel is marked with a diæresis if it is a front vowel, or with a single dot if a back vowel (i.e. ï, ÿ, ë, ȧ, ǫ̇, ȯ, u̇), e.g. oï.
- Even if this would not result in a standard diphthong, this convention is still followed any time there are two disyllabic pertingent vowels, e.g. kúluï ‘all’, itáliȧ ‘Italy’.
- If the second vowel is stressed, however, the first vowel is marked instead, e.g. italiáno → italïáno ‘Italian’.
- (NB: This stylistic rule is followed rather loosely, and often only applies to the letters <ë> and <ï>.)
- No capital letters are used.
Native Writing System
Maltcégj is also written using a featural alphabet which treats the vowels as diacritics, and also uses diacritics to describe manner of articulation and consonant clusters. In all there are only seven “letters”; all other phonetic functions are filled by diacritics or modifications of these seven characters. (Actually, there are really only four: the labial, dental, palatal, and glottal forms are just directional variations of the same character, and the rhotic is just a turned lambdic.)
The default characters are the voiced continuants. (NB: The default form is used by /h/ because there is no unvoiced equivalent.)
[More coming soon...]
|p||/p/|| as in put
pul [pʰul] ‘he’
|b||/b/|| as in bat|
badj [bʰaʤ] ‘to have’
|t||/t/|| as in top
talp [tʰɑlp] ‘head’
|d||/d/|| as in dog|
dið [dʰið] ‘beautiful’
|k||/k/|| as in keep
kat [kʰɑt] ‘dry’
|g||/g/|| as in get|
gelk [gʰɛlk] ‘to give’
Initial stops have a tendency to be aspirated.
|pf||/p͡f /|| as in German Pferd
pfatɮ [p͡fɑt͡ɬ] ‘spit’
|bv||/b͡v /|| as in obvious |
bvrac [bvɾɑʃ] ‘sparrow’
|ts||/ʦ/|| as in gets
frants [fɾɑnʦ] ‘France’
|dz||/ʣ/|| as in adze|
xandz [xɑnʣ] ‘Chinese character’
|tc||/ʧ/|| as in church
tcitsíc [ʧi’ʦiʃ] ‘to sneeze’
|dj||/ʤ/|| as in judge|
djáska [‘ʤɑskɑ] ‘cinnamon’
|tɮ||/ƛ (t͡ɬ)/|| as <ll> in Icelandic alla
txatɮ [txɑt͡ɬ] ‘slap’
|dɮ||/λ (d͡ɮ)/|| as in Xhosa indlovu|
ódɮo [‘o.d͡ɮo] ‘mouth’
There are eight “pure” affricates in Maltcégj, though none are represented by their own unique character. For more information, see Consonant Clusters, below.
|f||/f/|| as in foot
faurx [fau̯ɾx] ‘heat’
|v||/v/|| as in very|
víktro [‘vik.tɾo] ‘tree’
|þ||/θ/|| as <th> in thing
þad [θɑd] ‘man’
|ð||/ð/|| as <th> in then|
ðak [ðɑk] ‘to say’
|s||/s/|| as in sing
salméilo [sɑl’mɛi̯.lo] ‘apple’
|z||/z/|| as in zoo|
zendj [zɛnʤ] ‘paint’
|c||/ʃ/|| as <sh> in shoe
cul [ʃul] ‘prophesy’
|j||/ʒ/|| as in French jamais|
jadíȯ [ʒɑ’di.o] ‘sun’
|x||/x/|| as <ch> in German Bach
xac [xɑʃ] ‘difficult’
|ǧ||/γ/|| as <g> in Spanish amigo|
ǧénba [‘γɛn.bɑ] ‘apricot’
|h||/h/|| as in hello|
hanák [hɑ’nɑk] ‘person, human’
|m||/m/|| as in man|
márga [‘mɑɾ.ga] ‘house’
|n||/n/|| as in nose|
nyj [nɪʒ] ‘grain’
NB: There is no realization of as nasal as /ŋ/, even before a velar obstruent. In many cases, an epenthetic <e> may intervene between <n> and a velar (e.g. hánek ‘grandfather’, from Hank), but even when it does not, the letters are pronounced independently (e.g. gýnko /’gɪn.ko/ ‘ginko’, not **/’gɪŋ.ko/).
|l||/l/|| as in lamb|
lexét [lɛ’xɛt] ‘much, many’
|r||/ɾ/|| as in Spanish pero|
ráta [‘ɾɑ.tɑ] ‘child’
|ɮ||/ɮ,ɬ/*|| as in Zulu indlala|
ɮat [ɮɑt] ‘tooth’
* <ɮ> becomes devoiced to /ɬ/ when it occurs adjacent to an unvoiced obstruent (most frequently in the clusters <pɮ>, <tɮ>, and <kɮ>), e.g. txatɮ [txɑt͡ɬ] ‘slap’.
** While technically liquids, <ʌ> and <ʀ> never occur non-syllabically, and are better treated as vowels.
|w||/w/|| as in wood|
wʌf [wɫ̩f] ‘bone’
|ẏ||/j/|| as <y> in you|
ẏála [‘jɑ.lɑ] ‘bird’
|i||/i/|| as <ee> in beet
ílǫx [‘i.lɔx] ‘knee’
|u||/u/|| as <oo> in boot|
ucát [u’ʃɑt] ‘mustard’
|y||/ɪ/|| as '' in bit
ylk [ɪlk] ‘louse, nit’
|o||/o/|| as <oa> in boat|
tcok [ʧok] ‘to go’
|e||/ɛ/|| as in bet
éjva [‘ɛʒ.vɑ] ‘mouse’
|ǫ||/ɔ/|| as <ou> in bought|
ǫ́bri [‘ɔ.bɾi] ‘niece’
|a||/ɑ/||as in father|
adína [ɑ’di.nɑ] ‘sister’
|ʌ||/ɫ̩/|| as <le> in middle|
ʌ́nax [‘ɫ̩.nɑx] ‘shopping’
|ʀ||/ɹ̩/|| as <er> in better|
wʀn [wɹ̩n] ‘(maternal) grandparent’
<ʌ> and <ʀ> are considered vowels in Maltcégj and never occur non-syllabically. However, they are not subject to the same diacritic rules for other non-diphthongs as other vowels (though they are still marked when stressed).
|ai||/ɑi̯/|| as <i> in high
skwai [skwɑi̯] ‘lemon’
|au||/au̯/|| as in German Haus|
mlau [mlau̯] ‘what’
|ei||/ei̯/|| as in weigh
eict [ei̯ʃt] ‘game’
|eu||/ɛu̯/|| as <ew> in Welsh ewro|
ðeup [ðɛu̯p] ‘foot’
|oi||/ɔi̯/|| as in oil|
moin [mɔi̯n] ‘warmth’
|3sg||pʌ||“they”||general or non-specific||peibj||--|
|1pl||jalk||we||general or exclusive||jeltc||játci|
Some of the most basic elements of language, pronouns will take the place of the subject in most sentences. Maltcégj pronoun structure does not differentiate much from that of English with the exception of a formal and informal second person, and the formal is very infrequently used, but there are “optional” pronouns which may offer more clarity. Just remember to use mélminei when you’re speaking to someone with whom you would use a title in English (e.g. faculty members, judges, business associates, &c). Otherwise, the pronouns above will get you through most situations.
If you want to be more specific, however, you can use the plural particle ak with the singular pronouns (with the exception of jǫg) to make them plural. You can optionally add ak to mélem and mélminei to further explain that you are referring to more than one person. You can also use ak with the third person pronouns if you explicitly want to annotate gender. Note, however, that saying akpʌ́ is technically incorrect: This should more accurately be parþ, but akpʌ́ is common in speech, just as saying they in English is common to refer to a singular person whose gender is unknown or unclear (as in “Someone left their notebook here.”)
In case you are unfamiliar with the idea of inclusive and exclusive we, only use jǫ́lmin when the person you are addressing is part of the “we” in question, i.e. if you can replace it with “you and I”, or “you and the rest of us”; otherwise, always use jalk. (jalk can be used in an inclusive or exclusive sense if none is specified; jǫ́lmin can only be inclusive.)
In fact, pronouns in Maltcégj are even a little simpler than those in English, because there are no cases to decline. Possessives (my, your, his, our, &c.) are formed by adding the preposition u- to the word being possessed, and the accusative case (me, him, her, them, &c.) by adding the postposition -a to the pronoun.
The reflexive pronouns are used when the verb of the sentence is being done to the subject of the sentence by the subject of the sentence; that is to say, when we would use the word “-self” in English (e.g. myself, yourself, yourselves, themselves, &c.)
The reciprocal pronouns are similar to the reflexive (and in many languages they are identical), but they apply only to plural subjects when the action of the verb is being done to another member of the same plural group. (In English this is generally translated as “each other.”) Compare, for example:
blaiðák parþ pyldj
‘they are talking to themselves’
blaidák parþ píkci
‘they are talking to each other’
|1,000||seþ sam||thousand (=ten hundreds)|
|100,000||seþ cep||hundred thousand (=ten ten-thousands)|
|1,000,000||sam cep||million (=hundred ten-thousands)|
|10,000,000||seþ sam cep||ten million (=ten hundred ten-thousands)|
|1,000,000,000||seþ jak||milliard/billion (=ten hundred-millions)|
|10,000,000,000||sam jak||ten milliard/billion (=hundred hundred-millions)|
|100,000,000,000||seþ sam jak||hundred milliard/billion (=ten hundred hundred-millions)|
|1,000,000,000,000||cep jak||billion/trillion (=ten thousand hundred-millions)|
|10,000,000,000,000||seþ cep jak||ten billion/trillion (=ten ten-thousand hundred-millions)|
|100,000,000,000,000||sam cep jak||hundred billion/trillion (=hundred ten-thousand hundred-millions)|
|1,000,000,000,000,000||seþ sam cep jak||billiard/quadrillion (=ten hundred ten-thousand hundred-millions)|
Maltcégj numbers are base-10 (decimal), but they increase incrementally instead of in the more regular groups of three or six. Therefore, numbers through 999 are enumerated just as they are in English, but the number 1,000 is considered “ten hundred,” or seþ sam. Thereafter, 10,000 is cep, 100,000 seþ cep ‘ten ten-thousands’, 1,000,000 is sam cep ‘one hundred ten-thousands’, 10,000,000 is seþ sam cep ‘ten hundred ten-thousands’, and 100,000,000 is jak. The next increment after jak is gwil, which has a value of ten quadrillion (or ten billiard if you’re from some parts of Europe), followed by ǧan, which is a number large enough that you shouldn’t ever need it unless you’re counting individual atoms, but it’s something like one hundred nonillion (10³²).
Compound numbers are spoken as they are written in English, from left to right, (optionally) inserting indicators for tens, hundreds, thousands, &c., so “twenty-nine” is daiséþ nein ‘two tens nine’, while 3,587 is transéþ fremsám relkséþ dan ‘three tens five hundreds eight tens seven, or thirty-five hundred eighty-seven’. Easier still, and less subject to misinterpretation, the numbers can simply be read from right to left, as in tran frem relk dan ‘three five eight seven’. These are all correct, just as it’s correct in English to say “three thousand five hundred eighty-seven,” “thirty-five hundred and eighty-seven,” “thirty-five eighty-seven,” or even (somewhat less correctly) “three five eight seven.”
The number “zero” should always be read as zo, not bleg, though the two words are interchangeable in some circumstances. When the last digit is zero, however, it should be read as “seþ,” or “sam“ if two zeros… It may sound a little strange, but we do the same thing in English. For example, 780 should be read dan relk seþ ‘seven eighty’; 7,800, dan relk sam ‘seventy-eight hundred’; 78,000, dan relk seþ sam, ‘seventy-eight thousand, &c.
With the exception of the number ‘one’, the particle gji indicates ordinality, much like the suffix -th for numbers 4 – 10 in English. Any number ending in ‘one’ takes the ordinal adám, just as we say first and second in English rather than **oneth or **twoth.
Maltcégj uses the particle ak before a noun to indicate that it is plural, but this particle is not used when a number is present. For example, ‘book’ is klag, ‘books’ is aklág, but ‘two books’ is klag dai (no ak). (See Maltcégj#Nouns for more on the use of the plural.)
If using decimals in numbers, the word dat is used to mean ‘point’ or ‘dot’, though it literally means ‘seed’ or ‘egg’.
Articles & Determiners
Maltcégj has no definite article, and the indefinite article am is only used to specifically represent the number ‘one’. Its use of articles in this respect is very similar to Latin or Russian; definiteness is only expressed using the terms úli ‘this’, úla ‘that’, and úlot, ‘that (other) yonder’ (or, respectively, the proximal, medial, and distal deixes). There are additional deixes which are used primarily for discussing time (see Pro-Forms).
Correlatives and Pro-Forms
Most of the pro-forms in Maltcégj stem from combinations of common words, such as ‘this’ + ‘time’, meaning ‘now’, or ‘that’ + ‘thing’ meaning ‘that’. However, it is important to note some historical changes to the language to fully understand how the current forms came to be as they are.
Maltcégj is a head-initial language, like modern Japanese, but the language family from which it is descended, Baraqesh, was head-final, like most modern Indo-European languages. That is to say that forms like ‘who’ (‘which person’) were originally in the order in which we use them in English today, but eventually reversed in the grammar (‘person which’). However, before this reversal occurred, many forms were contracted, particularly those with mlau ‘what’, so there is a duality of some seemingly unrelated forms. For example, ‘when’ (‘what’ + ‘time’) can be both ðláimlau (literally ‘time-what’) and mlai, a contraction of an earlier *mlauðlai.
The deixes ja, la, and þa always precede the noun they modify, even when they are used independently. (For more information on these, see Measurement of Time.)
Still other forms have no relation to the base form, but are listed here for convenience.
The most common correlatives can be found below.
|lað (‘person’)||lað mlau, mlað (‘who’)||klað, kalk (‘who’)||lað bleg, blað (‘no one’)|
|lak (‘agent’)||lak mlau, mlak (‘what’)||klak, kalk (‘that’)||lak bleg, blak (‘nothing’)|
|ðrax (‘thing’)||ðrax mlau, mlax (‘what’)||klax, kalk (‘which’)||ðrax bleg, blax (‘nothing’)|
|arán (‘place’)||arán mlau, mlarán (‘where’)||klarán (‘where’)||arán bleg, bláran (‘nowhere’)|
|ðlai (‘time’)||ðlai mlau, mlai (‘when’)||klai (‘when’)||ðlai bleg, blai2 (‘never’)|
|kþið (‘manner’)||kþið mlau, mlið (‘how’)||klið (‘how’)||kþið bleg, blið (‘no way’)|
|mára (‘quantity’)||mára mlau, mlára (‘how much/many’)||klára (‘how much/many’)||mára bleg, blára (‘none’)|
|hímiem1 (‘reason’)||mlímiem (‘why’)||klímiem (‘why’)||blímiem (‘for no reason’)|
|lað (‘person’)||lað úli, jlað (‘this person’)||lað úla, ðrað (‘that person’)||lað ulót, þlað (‘the other person’)|
|lak (‘agent’)||lak úli, jlak (‘this thing’)||lak úla, ðrak (‘that thing’)||lak ulót, þlak (‘the other thing’)|
|ðrax (‘thing’)||ðrax úli, jlax (‘this’)||ðrax úla, ðrax (‘that’)||ðrax ulót, þlax (‘that (other)’)|
|arán (‘place’)||jarán, jlarán3 (‘here’)||larán, ðrarán (‘there’)||þarán (‘up there, ahead’), þrarán (‘elsewhere’)|
|ðlai (‘time’)||jaðlai, jlai, nak (‘now’)||laðlai, ðraðlai, nos (‘then’)||þaðlai (‘in the future’), þraðlái (‘some other time’)|
|kþið (‘manner’)||kþið úli, jlið (‘like this’)||kþið úla, ðrið (‘like that’)||þkíð (‘some other way’)|
|mára (‘quantity’)||mára úli, márað (‘this much’)||mára úla, márað (‘that much’)||mára ulót (‘that other amount’)|
|hímiem1 (‘reason’)||ðrímiem (‘because’)||þrímiem (‘for that reason’)|
1 The word hímiem (‘reason’) is no longer used, but lives on in the pro-form contractions, where it is used exclusively over its nominal replacement, frulúþ.
2 While blai may still be found in some texts, it is not generally used due to its homophonous relationship with the progressive particle (see Verbs).
3 jláran is gradually becoming obsolete and has been broadly replaced by járan.
Maltcégj nouns are relatively straight-forward. They do not inflect for case or number. Nouns are always the first word in a noun phrase (that is, they precede adjectives and adpositions), though genitive constructions may be constructed in ways that may seem contrary to this assertion (more on the genitive under Adpositions).
Nouns with two syllables which may double as verbs tend to have initial stress while the verb form has final stress, but this tendency is by no means a rule.
While there is no specific plural form of nouns, there is a plural particle, ak-, which can be optionally prefixed to the noun stem to specify plurality. ak- is never used when a number is present or any other indicator that would already imply a plural.
téfʌðu jamp ‘four tables’
téfʌðu lexét ‘many tables’
Adpositions in Maltcégj are generally suffixed to the nouns they modify. They undergo very little inflection (so it is not considered a case system per se), but there is some variation in some nouns which end in vowels, as shown below. (Nouns can only end in the vowels <i>, <a>, <ǫ>, <o>, and <u>. Nouns cannot end in <e> or <y>. Nouns ending in <ʌ> take regular consonant endings except before -ʌ and -ʌk, where the final <ʌ> of the noun becomes <l>. Nouns ending in <ʀ> take regular consonant endings except before -ʀ, which becomes -hʀ. Most changes, however, simply involve adding an epenthetic <h> before the prefix or adding a diæresis or dot to the vowel of the adposition.
|-||-i-||-a-||-o-||ek klag gnir.<brThe book is green.’||Nominative||-||(Nom.)||(Nom.)||-||Subject.|
|a||-iȧ||-aha||-oȧ|| dydkulóm jǫg klága.
‘I saw the book.’
|að||-iȧð||-ahað||-oȧð||‘to the book’||Dative||to||zu (+ Dat.)||ad||al||Indirect object.|
|ai||-iȧi||-ahai||-oȧi||‘through (the middle of) the book’||Perlative||through||durch (+ Acc.)||per|
|aj||-iȧj||-ahaj||-oȧj||‘during/throughout the book’||Temporal Durative||during||während (+ Gen.)|
|ala||-iȧla||-ahala||-oȧla||‘between the books’||Intrative||between, among||zwischen, unter (+ Dat.)||inter||Automatically implies plural.|
|alm||-iȧlm||-ahalm||-oȧlm||‘without the book’||Abesso-caritive||without||ohne (+ Acc.)||sine|
|alx||-iȧlx||-ahalx||-oȧlx||‘on (the side of) the book’||Adessive||on||an (+ Dat.)|
|ap||-iȧp||-ahap||-oȧp||‘on (top of) the book’||Superessive||on||auf (+ Dat.)|
|arak||-iȧrak||-aharak||-oȧrak||‘(leaning) against the book’||Revertive||against||gegen (+ Acc.)||versus|
|av||-iȧv||-ahav||-oȧv||‘after the book’||Postessive||following||folgend, zunächst||post|
|eð||-iëð||-aheð||-oëð||‘around the book’||Circumessive||around||um (+ Acc.)||circum|
|eki||-iëki||-aheki||-oëki||‘up to/until the book’||Allato-terminative||until||bis (+ Acc.)|
|eloï||-iëloï||-aheloï||-oëloï||‘about/concerning the book’||about||über (+ Dat.)|
|em||-iëm||-ahem||-oëm||‘over/above the book’||over||über (+ Dat.)||supra|
|ei||-iëi||-ahei||-oëi||‘in the book’||Inessive||in||in (+ Dat.)||in(tra)|
|fra||-ifra||-afra||-ofra||‘with books’ (as in ‘strewn’)||with||mit (+ Dat.)|
|i||-ihi||-ahi||-oï||‘for the book’||Benefactive||for||für (+ Acc.)|
|ið||-ihið||-ahið||-oïð||‘before/prior to the book’||Temporal||before||bevor (+ Dat.)||ante|
|ij||-ihij||-ahij||-oïj||‘after the books’||Temporal||after, according to||nach (+ Dat.)||secundum||post|
|ili||-ihili||-ahili||-oïli||‘next to/beside/near the book’||Apudessive||next to||neben (+ Dat.)||prope|
|im||-ihim||-ahim||-oïm||‘along(side) the books’||Vialis||along||(Dat.+) entlang|
|is||-ihis||-ahis||-oïs||‘instead of the book’||Excambiative||instead of||statt (+ Gen.)|
|it||-ihit||-ahit||-oït||‘behind the book’||behind||hinter (+ Dat.)||pone, post|
|iþ||-ihiþ||-ahiþ||-oïþ||‘under the book’||Subessive||under||unter (+ Dat.)||subter|
|lef||-ilef||-alef||-olef||‘like the books’||Comparative||like||wie (+ Nom.)|
|ʌ||-il||-al||-ol||‘by the book’||Agentive||by||von (+ Dat.)|
|ʌk||-ilk||-alk||-olk||‘by means of the book’||Instrumental||with||mit (+ Dat.)||cum|
|o||-iȯ||-aho||-ohȯ||‘from the book’||Delative||from||von (+ Dat.)|
|oc||-iȯc||-ahoc||-ohȯc||‘at the time of the book’||Temporal||at the time of||an (+ Acc.)|
|ok||-iȯk||-ahok||-ohȯk||‘with the book’||Commitative||with||mit (+ Dat.)||simul|
|ol||-iȯl||-ahol||-ohȯl||‘except for the book’||Exclusive||except for||außer (+ Dat.)|
|om||-iȯm||-ahom||-ohȯm||‘in front of the book’||in front of||vor (+ Dat.)||prae|
|ǫg||-iǫ̇g||-ahǫg||-ohǫ̇g||‘anti-book’||Contrative||against, anti||wider (+ Acc.), -feindlich||contra|
|ʀ||-ihʀ||-ahʀ||-ohʀ||‘pro-book’||for, pro||pro- (+ Acc.), -freundlich||pro|
|ul||-iu̇l||-ahul||-ou̇l||‘(made) of books’||Exessive||made from||aus (+ Dat.)||ex|
|ut||-iu̇t||-ahut||-ou̇t||‘out of the book’||Elative||out of||aus (+ Dat.)||ex|
|vul||-ivul||-avul||-ovul||‘because of the book’||Causal||because of||wegen (+ Gen.)||propter|
|u||uï-||uȧ-||uȯ-||‘-’s book, the book belonging to’||Possessed||‘s, of||(Gen.), von||(Gen.)|
Adjectives in Maltcégj generally follow the noun they modify.
However, when an adjective is used as a copula, it may stand on its own as a predicate to ek (‘to be’), or be treated as a verb in its own right.
|‘The grass is green.’|
Comparison, Superference, and Equation
In English there are two distinct ways to create the comparative and superlative when talking about adjectives: By adding the words “more” and “most” to adjectives of Latin derivation, and by adding the suffixes “-er” and “-est” to those of Germanic origin. (Granted, this is a little bit simplified, but that’s the general idea.) Maltcégj only has one word for each of these types of comparative and superlative, but there are a few other ways that we cheat our way around in English. I also include here the equative phrase “as … as” and the negative comparative and superlative “less” and “least.”
|amán||as…as, as much, equally|
All of these words precede the adjectives they modify, unless the adjective is used explicitly as a verb, and therefore the subject of the sentence. It is not uncommon or incorrect in this case to use ek as the verb and to treat the adjective as the object. When comparing the qualities of a specific noun, the postposition að is used as we would use “than” in English (or “as” when used with amán).
When any of these are used in combination with an adjective that begins with /b/ or /p/, the final /n/ changes to /m/, e.g. pan+bjólet=pambjólet ‘worse’. If the adjective begins with /m/, /n/ is elided entirely, e.g. nan+mot=namót ‘emptier’. (See Phonology.)
| ek pel akadínahað mes kúluï narandíð
(is she PL-sister-than her-own all most-beautiful)
| dið pel narán akadínahað mes kúluï
(is-beautiful she most PL-sister-than her-own all)
|‘She is the most beautiful of all her sisters.’|
| ek pul janád nambjólet
(is he today more-good)
| bjólet pul janád nan
(is-good he today more)
|‘He is better today.’|
| ek paj wíðocað amancalíc
(is it sky-as as-much-blue)
| calíc paj amán wíðocað
(is-blue it as-much as-sky)
|‘It’s as blue as the sky.’|
| ek paj vlágaranað panxac
(is it school-than less-difficult)
| xac paj vlágaranað pan
(is-difficult it school-than less)
|It’s less difficult than school.|
| ek klag palambokúra
(is book least-favorite)
| bokúra klag palán
(is-favorite book least)
|It’s (my) least favorite book.|
As Maltcégj is a “VSO” language, most sentences begin with a verb. Verbs can only be preceded by conjunctions and particles (most of which are prefixed to the verb).
There is no inflection on verbs; all tenses, moods, aspects, voices, and modalities are conveyed by particles, which operate much like they do in Mandarin Chinese. (The equivalent Mandarin particles are included in the table below for further clarity.)
|men||吧,請||Jussive||mentcók. Please go.|
|cʌþ||嗎||Interrogative||cʌþ tcok mélem?1 Are you going?|
|bleg||不,沒||Negative||blegtcók mélem. You’re not going.|
|lǫ||-||Subjunctive||lǫtcég kleg lǫtcók mélem. It is important that you go.|
|dyd||了||Past||dydtcók mélem. You went.|
|nag||要||Future||nagtcók mélem. You will go.|
|dla||就,剛||Immediacy||(always combined with other particles – see below)|
|kwarþ||過||Perfect||kwarþtcók mélem. You have gone.|
|blai||正在||Progressive||blaitcók mélem. You are (in the process of) going.|
|kan||還||Continuative||kantcók mélem. You are still going.|
|gak||-||Habitual||gaktcók mélem. You (often/regularly) go.|
|kla||-||Terminative||klatcók mélem. You have stopped going.|
|guc||-||Inceptive||guctcók mélem. You have started to go.|
|rak||被||Passive||rakulóm mélem. You are seen.|
1 Unlike other particles, cʌþ does not combine with the verb; it stands on its own as an individual word.
The particles can be used in many combinations to create new tenses, moods, and aspects, but they must always be used in the very specific order above. Some of these combinations have undergone epenthesis, creating seemingly unique particles. Some examples:
|nakwarþ (nag + kwarth)||Future Perfect||nakwarþtcók mélem. You will have gone.|
|nagblai||Future progressive||nagblaitcók mélem. You will be going.|
|naglǫ||Future subjunctive||lǫtcég kleg naglǫtcók mélem. It is important that you would go.|
|dydnag||Conditional||dydnagtcók mélem. You would go.|
|dygwarþ (dyd + kwarth)||Pluperfect||dygwarþtcók mélem. You had gone.|
|dydblai||Imperfect||dydblaitcók mélem. You were going.|
|dydlǫ||Past subjunctive||lǫtcég kleg dydlǫtcók mélem. It was important that you went.|
|dydnakwarþ||Conditional perfect||dydnakwarþtcók mélem. You would have gone.|
|dydla (dyd + dla)||Immediate past||dydlatcók mélem. You just went.|
|nagdla||Immediate future||nagdlatcók mélem. You are about to go.|
|dydnagdla||Immediate future II||dydnagdlatcók mélem. You were about to go.|
|cleglǫ2||Cohortative||cleglǫtcók mélem. You’d better go.|
2 cléglǫ is a contraction of lǫtcég kleg lǫ ‘it is important that’.
There are more, but one step at a time. You can plug many of these together, but be certain to retain the strict order:
Adverbs in Maltcégj normally immediately follow the finite verb. (The exception are adverbial phrases and temporal adverbs, which immediately follow the subject.)
In order to create adverbs from adjectives, the particle lef- is prefixed (much as one would add –ly in English or –ment(e) in the Romance languages).
Measurement of Time
As discussed briefly in the section on Correlatives and Pro-Forms, time words can be modified with three particles: la- (‘past’), ja- (‘present’), or þa- (‘future’). When combined with a noun that begins with a vowel, the a- of each prefix is dropped.
ja- is a contraction of the older (now obsolete) proximal deixis jála, which is also contracted to jla- in some of the other Correlatives (see). Similarly, þa- is a contraction of the distal deixis þúla, which also contracts to þla- or þra-. (The older medial deixis was ðóra, which is unrelated to la-, but still used as contracted ðra- in other Correlatives.)
Some of the most common constructions are listed below:
|ðlai ‘time’||laðlai ‘then, back then’||jaðlai ‘now’||þaðlai ‘in the future’|
|nad ‘day’||lanad ‘yesterday’||janad ‘today’||þanad ‘tomorrow’|
|temét ‘morning’||latemét ‘yesterday morning’||jatemét ‘this morning’||þatemét ‘tomorrow morning’|
|bará ‘afternoon’||labará ‘yesterday afternoon’||jabará ‘this afternoon’||þabará ‘tomorrow afternoon’|
|ápten ‘evening’||lápten ‘yesterday evening’||jápten ‘this evening’||þápten ‘tomorrow evening’|
|beríc ‘night’||laberíc ‘last night’||jaberíc ‘tonight’||þaberíc ‘tomorrow night’|
|danjád ‘week’||ladanjád ‘last week’||jadanjád ‘this week’||þadanjád ‘next week’|
|rúma ‘month’||larúma ‘last month’||jarúma ‘this month’||þarúma ‘next month’|
|avíl ‘year’||lavíl ‘last year’||javíl ‘this year’||þavíl ‘next year’|
These prefixes can also be used in with the word ðlai (above) to form adjectives meaning ‘past’, ‘present’, and ‘future’, respectively, as well as arán ‘place’, (which has some specific connotations depending on how it’s used).
The word order in Maltcégj is very strict. Because all aspects of the language are indicated by particles, there is no need to change the word order. Sentences are formed using a VSO structure; that is, verb – subject – object. This is the basis of every sentence, but there can be more to a sentence than just these components. Other components of a sentence are treated just as rigidly. Every clause will flow in the same order, even if it does not contain all of these elements:
I nicely gave the book to the man at his house this morning.
I [subject] nicely [adverb, i.e. how the action is taking place] gave [verb, past tense] the book [direct object, i.e. what is being given] to the man [indirect object] at his house [spatial clause, i.e. where the action is taking place] this morning [temporal clause, i.e. when the action is taking place].
If you rearrange these into the prescribed word order above, you get:
|I nicely gave the book to the man at his house this morning.|
|gave||nicely||I||the book||this morning||at his house||to the man|
|dydgélk lefbreuð jǫg jatemét pul umárgahíli þádað klága|
You need never deviate from this word order. To make an indicative statement into a question (whereby in English we would reverse the subject and the verb), simply add the particle cʌþ before the verb.
Aside from these sentence elements, there are a few other word order concerns to note:
- Adjectives always follow the nouns they modify (as in romance languages).
- Numbers also follow the nouns they modify.
- Adpositions always follow the nouns they modify (except u-).
- Phrases are “left-headed,” including numbers, possessives, genitives, adjectives, and others.
- When an adjective is used as the predicate of a sentence, it can be treated as a verb; however, you can also use the verb ek (‘to be’).
Just some fun coincidences, borrowings, and malamanteaux that I’ve collected here:
- ároc víktro ‘leaf’ – literally ‘tree feather’. The word ároc is no longer used in any other context.
- bláka ẏála ‘feather’ – literally ‘bird leaf’. The word bláka is no longer used in any other context.
- dat ‘seed’ – from ‘dot’.
- salgebúra ‘shock or revulsion over something stupid and offensive’ – a malamanteau of Hebrew גבורה and S.L.G.B.R. which stands for something stupid and offensive which I’ll keep to myself.
- tcápa ‘ring, circle’ – Goa’uld chappa-ai. (Originally that meaning was further extended by the postposition ai, wherein tcápaai meant ‘through the ring,’ but this was later broken by a phonological rule which rendered it tcápahai.
- Most kinship terms are names for members of my direct family or words that describe them. Just a few examples are:
- adína ‘sister’ - This is the name of my sister, Adina.
- katír ‘parternal grandparents’ - The plural form, akatír is from my home town’s old High School basketball team, the Halcotteers, which later came to be used locally to refer to any old folks from that town (i.e. from the era when we still had a High School). (The High School was actually in Fleischmanns, not Halcott, but that’s another story.)
- ǫ́bri ‘niece’ – the name of my niece, Aubrey.
- zadjámindz ‘great grandparents, mother’s father’s parents’ – Because my Bavarian great-grandparents, Katherine and Heinrich were “ze Germans.”
- salméilo wʌf akɮát ‘bon appétit’, which is an eggcorn for salméilol fak ɮat, ‘may the apple be tempting to the tooth’ but has now become standardized. It literally means ‘bone apple teeth’, itself an English eggcorn for bon appétit.