Conlang Relay 22/Skerre
A iritse e sneter
Te tari, kaweʔ a sneter te isaha ya iquerat. Tiriin a kitaan ne traarawo te wiyet-sa ir kitsaayin ye riyas e tsoo-seeta.
Te wisa yerot, hiyakor a sakar ne yese-sa. Quati a sakar, eyan toor eyeti a ihosi. Queyiin ya sehan. Quaasin a yese ya setsi – tsaar sa yikiin yesa a ana-sa ne yaka-sa sa koni – ir woor ye tisa.
Waha, queyiin a sneter. Toor equaas a wiyet-sa, ona nayi niʔee a quaas-sa. Siʔer, okaan a quaas e sakar, sosi te akik e setsi. Ara yoqua ir tsina ye taar etsoyi yesa. Hotaan tsa sneter a quaas ir riitsireen a yese! Naween ir ahorin ya sneter. Waanahi a taar ir ritseen sowa wiyet. Hikeekitsaa a wiyet ir rotatin ya kaakaak. Yariin tsa tii nerit.
The Fall of the Vendor
One time, a vendor was busy with preparations for travel. He put the basket and the cookware in his boat and he headed off down the river.
At a nearby place, a child was walking with his dog. The child was hungry so he wanted to find something to eat. He arrived at a dwelling. He tied up his dog to a tree – although his mother and father told him not to – and went inside.
Then, the vendor arrived. He wanted to tie up his boat, but his rope was too short. Next, he saw the child's rope, lying besides the tree. It was long enough and it was possible for him to reach it. The vendor grabbed the rope and set the dog free!
It barked and ran toward the vendor. He was afraid and fell from the boat. The boat lurched ahead and bashed in the various rocks. This completely destroyed it.
A huge issue in the Kopoıves text is that the story involved horses and carts, two things that the Skerre — as hunter-gatherers — are not familiar with. Thus, the decision to change the story to a water-based trader/vendor was an intentional one, not due to mistranslation. However, the story maybe was slightly more coherent with horses, dogs, houses, and carts
Skerre is a mildly synthetic language (almost isolating) in morphology and strongly-head-initial in syntax.
Some morphological constructions:
• -sa signals a third person possessor (Skerre does not have grammatical gender). This affix is conventionally separated from its host by a hyphen.
• -in, -an, -en, -yin (the form is phonologically-conditioned) signal perfective; that is, the state of affairs denoted by the accompanying stem is viewed as complete.
• hi- signals imperfective; that is, state of affairs denoted by the accompanying stem is viewed as incomplete.
• e- signals potential: most commonly, this means that state of affairs denoted by the accompanying stem should be interpreted as occurring in the future, but sometimes refers an
• Not all verbs have tense/aspect marking. Those that don't should be interpreted as on-going.
• There are a collection of affixes that help form deverbal nouns:
◊ i- creates 'action' nouns; that is, names for states of affairs (most general English translation '-ing')
◊ s- creates agent nouns; that is, names for doers within certain states of affairs (most general English translation '-er')
◊ t- creates inanimate item nouns; that is names for objects, usually man-made, that are associated with some state of affairs. Many are instruments used in the state of affairs, but other relationships are possible.
• There is a reduplicative prefix that can occur on nouns. Its shape is CVV, the C and V corresponding to the first two of the stem. This has a distributive meaning; that is, the resulting noun is the base nominal meaning distributed over space, time, and/or types. An approximate English translation might be 'various N'. This reduplicative prefix occurs inside of the deverbal nouns, if they both co-occur.
• rii- creates causative verbs, roughly 'make V'
• kee- creates anticausative verbs, roughly suppressing the 'make' meaning within a verb. Among other places, this prefix occurs in instances where the event is viewed as if it happened of its own accord.
Some further comments on the syntax
• Argument marking of full noun phrases follows an ergative-absolutive system
• Certain words (mostly verbs) govern particular function words that are unexpected from an English point of view.
• All modifiers follow their modifiers in Skerre, a few at a distance. Uninflected verbs can serve as adverbial modifiers.
• Skerre supplements its basic prepositions with relational noun constructions, which generally denote more precise spatio-relational concepts. These involve a location preposition + noun denoting a location + the possessive preposition + a noun 'object'
• Skerre has plenty of 'null anaphora': a pronoun will not be expressed, but just be understood from context. Often, the understood referent is the central participant in the previous sentence (or going back even further).
- (absolutive marker)
- long, be
- of the/of a (common noun follows)
- and (between verbal units)
- busy, be
- pilot a boat
- (negation particle)
- short/little, be
- with the/and (between NPs)
- too much
- hungry, be
- (complement clause marker)
- lie (on the ground, not fibbing)
- from the/from a (common noun follows)
- that one
- at, in, on (following NP must be inanimate)
- this one
- (ergative marker)
- although/though/even though
- be possible
- fearful/afraid, be
- go (perfective stem)
- to/towards the/a (common noun follows)
- close/near, be
- to him/her/it
- enough, sufficiently
|Conlang Relay 22|
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