Letilan

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Letilan is one of the languages of Letila. It is characterized by very long words and a love of suffixes.

OOC: Letilan is of a language category known as polysynthetic. The creator of this language happens to be known in conlanging circles for his love of polysynthesis.

Alphabet

Sounds (Phonology)

  • p -- As in spot /p/
  • t -- As in step /t/
  • k -- As in scar /k/
  • s -- As in sand /s/
  • š -- As in ship /S/
  • m -- As in mix /m/
  • n -- As in name /n/
  • py -- Palatalized p /p_j/
  • ty -- Palatalized t /t_j/
  • ky -- Palatalized k /k_j/
  • my -- Palatalized m /m_j/
  • ny -- Palatalized n /n_j/
  • r -- As in Spanish perro /r/
  • ř -- As in Dvořák /r_r/
  • l -- As in line /l/
  • l -- As in Spanish llama /L/
  • a -- As in father /a/
  • i -- As in Misato /i/
  • u -- As in flute /u/
  • e -- As in bait /e/
  • o -- As in core /o/
  • ä -- As in cat /{/
  • ü -- As in German /y/
  • ö -- As in German /2/

Note: In some dialects, ty is pronounced like English "chip" rather than as a palatalized /t/.

Writing (Orthography)

Letilan is usually written in the Letilan script, which is hard to pidginhole. Historically, it was written in Chinese characters, which the Letilans learned from the Japanese. However, it was quickly realized that these characters were poorly suited to writing Letilan.

To remedy this, the prime minister of Letila (this was a long time ago, before Letila went anarchist) called for a great reform to Letilan writing. A new script, based on Japanese kana and Korean hangeul was drafted and the Chinese characters started to fall out of use. Today, they are occasionally seen on older signs, however.

Grammar

Nouns

Nouns come in five noun classes: black, white, red, yellow, and green. For nonhuman nouns, this describes their actual or metaphorical color. For human nouns, it describes their favorite color. Note that default classifications are used if the favored color is unknown, so a socialist would fall in the "red" category if nothing else is known about them.

Note that nouns may have a hyphen at the end in the vocabulary section. If so, this is because they have no default color or favorite color and would be supplied with one in speech. Note grey is grouped with either black or white depending on how dark or light it is.

Note also that "green" encompasses blue as we think of it while "black" includes violet and indigo.

singular plural
black -a
white -o
red -e -ei
yellow -i -ie
green -ua -üä

To illustrate, here are a few basic nouns and their various forms:

Verbs

The Letilan verb is very complex compared to the English verb. It inflects for the color, number, and person of the subject and object. Furthermore, it is ergative, meaning that the subject of an intransitive verb is considered an object rather than a subject. It's as though you say "Fall him" for "He falls".

Technically, the subject in such a language is said to be in the ergative class while the object is in what termed the absolutive class (yes, I know, that's a lot of -ives). The difference is that while in English, the experiencer of an intransitive verb is considered a subject (the doer of the verb, even if it isn't actually acting), in this language, it is considered the object of the verb.

The inflections for 1st and 2nd person are shown in this handy chart. Luckily, they only show number and case, not color. As can be seen, they are suffixes.

ergative plural absolutive plural
1st person -üøi -kai -tia -tiè
2nd person -sü -siö -üai -tời

Here are the inflections for 3rd person, which do distinguish color. Note that in many of these suffixes, the plural is formed by adding -i after the singular marker, but it does not occur regularly.

ergative plural absolutive plural
black -tui -??? -??? -???
white -tüe -süo -??? -???
red -söi -tiö -??? -???
yellow -siø -??? -??? -???
white -tua -tii -??? -???

The inflections are suffixes, attaching to the verb at the back. The ergative marker, if present, goes first while the absolutive marker comes second.

The verbal stem now needs inflections for tense, mood, and aspect. It can take markers for many other things, too, which can result in some very complex verbs. These suffixes are added to the ends of verb stems.

past present future
imperfect -??? -???
perfect -??? -??? -???

A basic sentence in Letilan can now be made. We will translate "The sand was yellow". First, the word coc’ak meaning roughly "sand" or "soil" is used. To express yellow, a verb is used, rather than an adjective as in English. The verbal root for "to be yellow" is pem-.

Now, the verb must be inflected for the the color, number, and case of the sand. Remember that the absolutive case is used because the verb is intransitive and the sand is singular and yellow. Hense, the suffixfix -??? is used.

Finally, the verb must be inflected for tense. The tense and aspect here is past perfect, so the suffix -??? is used.

Vocabulary

Nouns

  • ???- -- person, human
  • ???- -- child
  • käm-- -- god, deity
  • kyen- -- dog
  • ??? -- water, liquid
  • ??? -- snow, ice
  • ??? -- soil, sand
  • til- -- land, nation
  • anaka -- anarchy
  • ??? -- government
  • ??? -- property, theft
  • ??? -- freedom
  • ??? -- revolution
  • ???- -- car
  • ???- -- house

Verbs

  • ???- -- to see
  • ???- -- to eat
  • ???- -- to drink
  • ???- -- to travel (to)
  • ???- -- to fly
  • ???- -- to be red
  • ???- -- to be yellow
  • ???- -- to be green
  • ???- -- to be black
  • ???- -- to be white
  • le- -- to be beautiful
  • ???- -- to be big


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