For more details, history, and sociolinguistics of Parra, please explore its homepage.
| Parra |
|Spoken in:||Crimea (Cirima, Кирима)|
|Total speakers:||2 million|
|Basic word order:||SVO|
Parra is a Romance language created for the Tauridian Republic of Crimea in Ill Bethisad. Crimea is "a melting pot of Greeks, Turks, Mongolians, Crimean Goths, Crimean Tatars, Russians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Germans, and Yiddish-speaking Jews" (not to mention Bulgarians, Roma, and Karaim, Kymchak, and Romaiote Jews, plus possible communities of Italians and Cossacks). Parra began with the question, "What does such a country use for a lingua franca?" and finding a very literal answer.
- 1 Historical overview
- 2 Letters and sounds
- 3 Pronouns
- 4 Demonstratives
- 5 Nouns
- 6 Verbs
- 7 Adjectives
- 8 Word Order
- 9 Vocabulary
- 10 Texts
Parra evolved from Lingua Franca, brought by Italian merchants to their colonies, controlled from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Parra, derived from the Italian verb parlare, to talk, is the form that LF took when it was adapted for communicating between Crimea's many language groups.
Parra evolved from LF in three phases. Phase 1 was the LF brought into the Black Sea originally. This LF was an eastern branch of the language used throughout the Mediterranean, so Parra's base includes some influence from Catalan, Narbonese (IB's Occitan), and Arabic. In general, though, this eastern variety was more Italian than the LF used further west in places like North Africa.
Phase 2 happened when the Crimeans adopted LF for use within the peninsula in the 15th century. The dominant languages were Tatar and Turkish, and besides contributing many words, these languages changed the sounds of what we can now call Parra, most notably enforcing Turkic front-back vowel harmony onto most words. So for example, the 1st-person plural possessive pronoun de nos (LF) > denos (phase 1) > denös (phase 2). The ö /2/ and ü /y/ sounds occurred in Phase 2: they had already been present in the Ligurian dialect of the Genoese, but now they became phonemized.
Phase 3 occurred from the late 18th century with the Russian takeover of Crimea. The Turkish consonants were unrounded to /o/ and /i/, returning Parra to a five-vowel system. Palatalization of consonants also occurred. So the word for eye is exe (phase 3, modern Parra) < öciö (phase 2) < euchio [2kio] (likely Ligurianized pronunciation in Phase 1). Many, many Russian loanwords also came into the langauge during this time.
The language has developed beyond a mere trade pidgin, but it has never creolized (that is, it has never become a home language).
Letters and sounds
Parra has five vowels and 17 consonants. Modern Parra is left with the same 5-vowel system as old Lingua Franca, having lost the ö and ü sounds that were present in the second, Turkifying stage of the language.
As an auxiliary language, Parra gravitates toward a simple phonology. Open syllables are preferred, diphthongs are not present, and consonant clusters often collapse. Both can be seen in the derivation of "to buy:" comprar > copra.
Cyrillic: а б к ч д э ф г и й л м н о п р с ш т у в х Latin: a b c ç d e f g i j l m n o p r s ş t u v x Phoneme: /k/ /tS/ /j/ /S/ /x/
In written Parra, one letter corresponds to exactly one phoneme. There are no digraphs or doubled consonants (natively, the name of the language is actually spelled Para, and only English spelling has 2 r's).
The Cyrillic alphabet is the most widely used one for Parra. Latin is second, used more than you might expect. Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Armenian scripts can also be used.
Penultimate stress was overwhelmingly prevalent for all words in Phase 1; now, under Turkic influence, stress is on the final syllable when it is heavy or closed (CVC) but on the penultimate when the last syllable is light or open (CV). Anything else is indicated with an acute accent (increasing the glyphs in the Parra alphabet from 22 to 27).
So, cusa (girl) is stressed on the first syllable, woman (cadun) on the second. Final light or open syllables are stressed mostly in transparent loanwords (alá, god) or in situations where the last syllable wore off with time, but its memory remains (bisogno > bisé, need).
Most of these sounds are present in most of the mother tongues of Crimea. The Mongolian community theoretically has the hardest time, lacking six of the consonants of Parra, but presumably 700 years in Crimea has modified their dialect to something closer to their neighbors. The Turks lack the /v/ while both they and the Italians lack the /x/. Russians pronounce ç and ş more palatally than other speakers.
The rhotic sound /r/ is usually described as an alveolar trill, but many speakers produce it as an alveolar tap /4/ some of the time.
Parra has no native speakers, so there is no "native accent." Speakers should simply pronounce the sounds as clearly and unambiguously as they can.
Largely unchanged from old Lingua Franca:
- 1st = mi
- 2nd = tu
- 3rd = il (M), ila (F)
- 1st = nos
- 2nd = vos
- 3rd = ils
Possessive pronouns are placed after noun possessed. They originated as prepositional phrases.
- 1st = demi
- 2nd = dedi
- 3rd = dil (M), dila (F)
- 1st = denes
- 2nd = deves
- 3rd = deles
esi = oneself, oneselves, each other
Inherent reflexive actions were largely lost in LF. Esi < özü, a Crimean Tatar pronoun that serves as an all-purpose reflexive in Parra. Under Russian influence the use of reflexives has expanded, namely for reciprocal actions and for anticausative physical actions; but _inherent_ reflexives per se have not come back.
- Constantin para esi = Constantine is talking to himself.
- Oso dila ropato esi = Her bone broke (itself).
- Ils ama esi = They love each other.
Parra's "normal" demonstrative pronouns are:
- ves = this
- vel = that (near listener)
- o = that (over there)
- vesi = these
- veli = those (near listener)
- oju = those (over there)
Only the singular forms are used proclitically (before nouns). So:
- Veli baca = Look at those.
- Vel omu baca = Look at those people.
The direction words for here and there (and "over there") can be used before nouns in exactly the same way as demonstratives. In fact, the direction words are more common than the "regular" demonstratives in the proclitic position. Note that the two Romance-derived words are mandatory reduplicated forms (see also "Vocabulary," below).
viví = here.
- Tuto viví çocucu sabu nagino = All these children know how to read.
lalá = there.
- Vanto pecem lalá discu videjo? = How much for those video disks (near you)?
ojer = there.
- Ci vive a ojer ca? = Who lives in that house (over there)?
Parra, predictably, has no cases. Each noun's grammatical role is determined by word order and prepositions. (For example, de marks a possessive and per an indirect object.)
Plural suffix is -i or -u, added after a final consonant or in place of a final vowel.
- calar = stick; calaru = sticks
- cana = dog; canu = dogs
For singular nouns that end in -i or -u, the phantom suffix *-ji/*-u is realized simply as a shift in stress to the final syllable.
- embibi = drinker, tavern customer; embibí = drinkers, tavern customers
In general, Parra, like most auxiliary languages, resists a lot of complex affixes. The pressures of Tatar vowel harmony, which could distort affixes beyond recognition for new speakers, limited affixing even further. But a few have caught on.
The word omo (person) has become a prefix for creating "person" nouns from verbs, nouns, and adjectives. It is reduced to om- before an initial vowel or b, and simply o- before an m. Before back-vowelled words, this prefix becomes eme-, em-, or e-.
- omobasara, shopkeeper (<basara, market)
- omalá = "man of god" (cleric regardless of creed) (<alá, god)
- embibi = drinker, tavern customer (<bibi, to drink)
- omuru = beggar (<muru, to beg)
- emedebit = debtor (<debit, debt)
- emexane, bartender (<mexane, tavern)
The suffix -ije, ultimately from either Latin or Arabic, can create abstract nouns. After a vowel it reduces to -je. This is not terribly common for verbs, since verbs are regularly used as nouns without modification. The back-vowelled form of the suffix is -uja, -ja.
- merin = sailor; merinije = seamanship
- cabi = big; cabuja = bigness, vastness (cabi unmarked simply means "size")
- papa = father; papaja = fatherliness (homophone with the fruit, but seldom cause for confusion)
- adam = man; adamuja = manliness
- SNORuja = SNORism
Parra has lost the most distinctive feature of old Lingua Franca, the use of the infinitive -r forms for all verbs. Part of this was simply phonetic wearing-down and a preference for open syllables. But also at play was some influence from Romance 3rd-person indicative verb forms - the least suffixed forms - in an early phase of the language. So most Parra verbs end in vowels.
In a few cases, the -r was preserved; the verb for "make," for example, is not fa, but fara; notice that here an a was added through analogy to other verbs. Fa is still a part of the language as a modal verb.
Tense and aspect
Verbs are not inflected for person or number. There are two tense/aspect forms, a present/imperfective and a past/perfective. Past/perfective is indicated with the suffixes -(a)to and -(i)te. Combinations of these and the copula sa can express a range of tenses and aspects.
- Cadun copra pese = A woman buys/is buying a fish. (present/imperfective)
- Cadun coprato pese = A woman bought/has bought a fish. (past/perfective)
- Cadun sa copra pese = A woman will buy a fish. (future)
- Cadun sato copra pese = A woman was buying/used to buy a fish. (past imperfective)
- Cadun sato coprato pese = A woman had bought a fish. (pluperfect)
The bare, uninflected form of the verb is often used to express actions in the past or future, especially when these actions are immediately relevant to the present. It is more common to say "Cadun copra pese" than "Coprato pese" if the fish is in her hand right now.
The particle of negation, ne, is placed just before the verb.
Passive voice can be done using a reflexive construction...
- Ves pese coprato esi = This fish was bought (lit. "bought itself")
...or using the perfective form as a modifier:
- Ves sa pese coprato = This is a bought fish.
The copula (sa) is usually deleted, except for emphasis. So are subject pronouns, by the way:
- Ca dedi bela = Your house [is] beautiful.
- No, ne sa = no, [it] is not.
Avá is a verb that simply indicates existence, equivalent to the English "there is." Uniquely, it can be placed before the subject of a sentence, after the subject, or at the end of the sentence, depending on what the speaker chooses to emphasize (see "Word Order," below).
- Ne avá bona mexane a Çancoj. }
- Bona mexane ne avá a Çancoj. } = There are no good bars in Dzhankoy.
- Bona mexane a Çancoj ne avá. }
There is a separate locative "be:" da.
- Mama demi ne da a ca = My mother is not at home.
Parra has a rich supply of modal auxiliaries. Some include:
- Tu bisé para = You have to speak.
- Tu fa para = I wish you would speak.
Potential: Felí (<felice, happy, derived from constructions meaning "I am happy to do it.")
- Tu felí para = You can speak.
In early Parra, adjectives usually followed nouns in the regular Romance way, but could be placed before them. Under the influence first of Turkic and then of Russian, the Parra adjective moved entirely before the noun. An adjective is only used after a noun in statements of fact - sentences in their own right with "missing" be verbs.
Demonstratives and numbers precede the adjectives, while possessives follow the noun.
- Bela ca = (the) beautiful house
- Bela ca demi = my beautiful house
- Viví bela ca demi = this beautiful house of mine
-ic or -uc is the main adjective suffix, though it's more common to use prepositional constructions than adjectives formed from suffixes. So, to say "Ukrainian man," adam de Ucrajina is more common than Ucrajinic adam.
Word order is SVO for most sentences.
- Mi ne fara vel = I don't do that.
Parra indicates one mood, imperative/optative, by switching to an SOV order.
- Vel ne fara = Don't do that.
- Tu vel fa ne fara = I wish you wouldn't do that.
- Nos vel fa ne fara = Let's not do that.
Beyond this basic template, there is a certain amount of flexibility on the placement of modifiers and indirect objects, which are generally indicated with prepositions. Time expressions generally prefer the beginning of the sentence, and imperative/optative sentences prefer to put all modifiers before the verb, but it's certainly OK to flout either rule and still have a grammatical sentence. Influenced by Russian, information (other than the core elements of S O and V) can be placed at the end of a sentence for emphasis.
- Mi ne copra per tu xat = I didn't buy you the bread.
- Mi ne copra xat per tu = I didn't buy the bread for _you_.
Word order does not change for questions, but the question particle saba removes some ambiguity. Saba developed from the same verb as sabu, "to know." Saba is mandatory after yes/no questions, optional after others, where it emphasizes the "questionness" of the sentence.
- Tu copra xat saba? = Did you buy the bread?
- Ci copra xat? = Who bought the bread?
- Ci copra xat saba? = Who bought the bread, anyway?
Saba can also be used alone, where its meaning has broadened to mean, "Really?"
Besides using saba, it is also possible to emphasize a "Wh" question by repeating the question word. Normally, the question word is simply inserted into the declarative sentence in place of the missing information, without changing word order. Putting an additional question word at the beginning emphasizes the speaker's sense of urgency, confusion, curiosity, etc.
- ova = where
- Tu anda ova? = Where are you going?
- Ova tu anda ova? = Hold on, where are you going?
- Ova tu anda ova saba? = Where in heaven's name are you going, anyway?
Since many "question words" are also used outside of questions, saba or repetition can remove ambiguity. Without any context or intonation, Tanic dedi avó vanto omu can mean either "There are many people in your family" or "How many people are in your family?" Adding another vanto to the beginning, or saba to the end, makes it more clear that you are asking a question.
The original base of Parra is a form of Italian, "neutralized" to resemble Vulgar Latin. Words for the most basic concepts, and words dealing with matters that were most often discussed at the wharf or the marketplace, are the ones where the Romance forms have persisted the most.
Words dealing with agriculture, plants, land, and food are the most likely to come from Greek, Armenian, and Gothic. A large number of words, including very basic ones, are from Tatar and Turkish. A couple of common words bear mentioning for their testimony of a dark past: adam (man), cadun (woman), çocu (child), and escer (free) come from Turkish, a memory of Turkish merchants' control of the slave trade. Russian also contributed a huge share of words, especially those dealing with government and modernity.
Later immigrants' contributions tend to be smaller in scope (daspir, "beer," from the German, for example). Modern words for academic or technological concepts are surprisingly likely to be borrowed directly from Latin. This is owing to the Snorists' promotion of Latin, the universal language of science, in the schools. The teaching tended not to be very good, so most Crimeans only have a smattering, but its influence is felt. Such modern words are important in one of Parra's fastest-growing contexts, labels for consumer products.
Compounding remains a productive process in Parra and is another way to form new words. So is Reduplicatng syllables or words. There are a few examples of reduplicating weakening semantically and becoming mandatory: dada, not da as expected, is the word for "give."