Archive for November, 2010

A brief introduction to Nuirn, pt. 12 (Verbs 5: present middle and simple future)

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

What follows is likely the easiest set of verb paradigms in Nuirn: the present middle and the simple future active.

These are the last verb forms in Nuirn formed from the present infinitive stem.

The present middle

In current Nuirn, the present middle voice of any regular verb is formed by a reliable rule. You drop the final -n from the second infinitive and replace it with -s. This form serves as the conjugated finite form for all persons and numbers, and also as the middle infinitive.

Thus, for our model verbs bruca and brise, "to use" and "to break" respectively, the conjugations go:


brucas ec                                           I get broken, am broken
brucas þú                                          you get broken, are broken
brucas han                                       he gets broken, is broken
brucas hón                                        etc.
brucas þet

brucas uí
brucas í
brucas þey


brises ec
brises þú


Syntax, translation, and usage

The Nuirn middle voice is a versatile and frequently encountered verb form. There are a number of ways to translate it in English:

gets __________ed
is _________ed
becomes __________ed
turns __________ed
_________s itself


As an essentially invariant form, it is usually used in current usage with a full pronoun rather than a clitic. In older Nuirn, it had synthetic foms, a few of which survive, mostly in fixed phrases and fossil forms. The ones that still have some currency are:


-mey, former first person singular: brisemey, "I am broken"
-stan, stón, former third person masc., fem. Forms
-(e)unsaí, former first person plural form: struntunsaí, "we become intoxicated"

With some intransitive verbs, usage requires that the subject be cast in the accusative case rather than the nominative case:

Þórstas mey, "I am thirsty".
Hygec er siùcas mey. "I think I'm getting sick".

Because the pronoun here is not in the nominative, it does not have to appear directly after the finite verb in a main clause, and can wander freely: mey þórstas…..

With verbs referring to weather and similar phenomena, it is used with a null subject:


Reghnas.                                   "It is raining"
Sólas.                                          "The sun is shining"
Standhas, yn ías ecki.              "The traffic is bumper to bumper" (lit. "It gets stood, and it does not get gone.")

As such, it also functions as a general impersonal form. The verb "to be" has impersonal forms: is, "there is", and also bhí (plene, bhíth), which figures mostly in the conjugation of the eventive sequence.


Deponent and defective verbs.

A number of verbs are used chiefly in the middle voice. Weather verbs are one category; there are others, such as baþas "bathe" and rennightheas "wash yourself".

Aian "to say" is an important defective verb. It has two active forms: aiec and aistiú, "I say" and "you say". It has a weak preterit, aidde, which is regular. But the commonest encountered form of this verb is aiteas, an irregular middle voice form that means "it is said".

The simple future

The simple future is easily described. Except in the third person singular, it is a possessed second infinitive. It is only used with pronominal subjects, and as such, they must remain glued to the end of the verb in main clauses:


brucanam                               I will use
brucanaës                              you will use
brucanan                                he will use
brucanón                                she will use
brucanet                                  it will use


brucanavus                            we will use
brucanaí                                 you (pl) will use
brucanay                                they will use


briseneam                             I will break
brisenes                                     …..



The simple future calques English's "I have to…." construction, and is used in similar contexts. It suggests duty or obligation. More general or abstract futures are formed with a variety of auxiliaries, such as the general and colorless sculla and munna, and the somewhat more imperative fáa and gete, which have some of the force of English "shall".


Tuesday, November 30th, 2010



the East.

The second sentence of the Babel text:

il ñatta jarēþa rūānnie il ñatta jamāesa japōññe sū jekiēn xīnār il aþ ñatta āke jamāramma;

contains the word rūānnie which is rÅ«- + ānnie, the stem for “east”. rūānnie therefore means “from the east” and rā- + ānnie or rānnie means “to the east”. There is also sÅ«- + ānnie for “at/in the east” but the form is sūānnien with a final -n like the singular noun jānnien. All the compass direction words follow this pattern more or less. The final -n is akin to the -(e)n suffix used with clan names when they are turned into stative nouns.

The word occurs in the first clause of the second sentence. The clause is ñatta jarēþa rūānnie. ñatta is the relational ñi inflected for a 3rd person paucal (or collective in this usage) agent. jarēþa is a singular noun that means “journey”. So the first clause can be translated as “they made a journey from the east”.


Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'meliki'.


  • (adj.) beautiful
  • (v.) to be beautiful, to have beauty
  • (n.) beauty
  • (n.) beautiful one, beautiful person

Ipe mata kivio meliki!
“What a beautiful sight!”

Notes: Or perhaps “vista” would be a better translation. This was the image I had in mind:

A Japanese rock garden.

That’s a nice little rock garden, complete with plants and bushes. I wouldn’t mind having that as my front yard.

The iku for meliki is a bit curious. I can see some of me in there, but a box has replaced the image of the woman. In the middle is the circle determinative, which denotes positive things. I think I may have made a box there not only to fit the circle, but also to indicate a face (so it’s like it’s an image of a beautiful person). I guess that qualifies it as one of a number of iku types, but ikuleyaka seems the most appropriate classification.

nilusu: innocent

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Example: Xe’nilusu. Kansu mi’la’mekuv indite’het’ny!
(1S-be.innocent. Kansu 3S-PST-steal cherry-PL.)
I am innocent. Kansu stole the cherries.

Nilusu is an odd name, especially since his connotation is a bit different from the expected one. Someone who is nilusu does not necessarily be naïve it might very well be that he knows badness and temptation but remains free of it due to her/his strength of character. Naïvety is not a virtue to the rejistanis as much as it sometimes seems to be in our culture (‘child-like innocentce and purity’).

The denotation of it being the opposite of guilty of course exists as well.


Monday, November 29th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'tiva'.


  • (n.) knife
  • (v.) to cut, to slice
  • (v.) to use a knife
  • (adj.) sharp

Tiva ia i katata i’i.
“Cut me some jerky.”

Notes: Since I brought it up recently, I thought I’d introduce the word tiva, which means “to cut”, roughly (the base word was “knife”, or a short cutting implement). The iku is a fairly straightforward combination of ti and fa.

Back when I coined this word (while I was at Berkeley), I had a pair of sandals whose brand name was “Tiva”. The “logo” (if that’s what it was) on the box was a gigantic spider, which turned me off quite a bit. The sequence was a licit Kamakawi word, though, so I thought I’d use it somewhere. I didn’t want it to be “spider” (too obvious), but somehow I thought it worked well as “cut”, and it’s been “cut” ever since.

ān tēna

Monday, November 29th, 2010


ān tēna

This phrase is a combination of the numeral one (ān) and a modifier meaning “all of a set” (tÄ“na). Together they denote a complete set of one. In the first sentence of the Babel text:

iēlte la anmārwi pa antaxōni ān tēna;

ān tÄ“na modifies yesterday’s word antaxōni “language” to make a phrase meaning a set of only one language. So the sentence can be translated as:

Once long ago, the world had only one language.

High Eolic word of the day: evál

Monday, November 29th, 2010

evál (noun): cloud. Occurs as the main element in Eválun (Eoleon) and Evála (Eolla).

ca ngúrnavam evál-á cránartemec
I see.IMPERF cloud.ACC-PL sky.INESS
“I see clouds in the sky”

The symbolism of clouds is very important in Eolic culture: after all, Eoleon itself means “Land of the Cloud”, and Eolla (the capital of Eoleon), in its High Eolic form Evála, means “City of the Cloud”. Clouds are associated with beauty, but also with high places, the sky, and heavens. The implication is that the kingdom of Eoleon, nestled high in the mountains – literally, among the clouds – towers over those of the lesser peoples surrounding it, and elevates the moral, spiritual, and martial worth of Eoleon’s inhabitants over that of all other places.

ikimdu’het: soap

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Example: Xe’kaska ikimdu’het’ny ,min’yjanu oejelu, het.
(1S-like soap-PL ,3PL-emit.smell beautiful, this)
I like soaps which smell beautiful.

Well, yes, I do. Good smells are one of the things which improve my mood when it needs improving. Mornings normally count as such a situation.

I am not sure why the word is as it is. The word reminds me of a well-smelling soap though, so it is fitting. ‘ikimdu means to lather and an ikimdu’he makes soap.


Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'i'ava'.


  • (v.) to drift, to be adrift
  • (adj.) adrift
  • (n.) drifting

Au u’upi Kalavene…
“The Bears are adrift…”

Notes: Up by three in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter, the Berkeley Bears stopped the Washington Huskies three straight times on the goal line.

Unfortunately, there was a fourth down…

And so Berkeley finished 5-7, and will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since my junior year of college. Add to that that we lost the Big Game, and, well… I’ll be glad when this year’s done with.

Week 11

  • Tennessee 24 Washington 17
  • New York Jets 27 Houston 25
  • Baltimore 33 Carolina 0
  • Philadelphia 38 New York Giants 28
  • San Diego 44 Denver 17

That’s 4-1 again, which takes me to 39-15 on the year.

Oh, and remember when I said to take note of that Baltimore-Carolina prediction last week? The final score ended up being Baltimore 37 Carolina 13. So it wasn’t a shutout, but it was a pretty bad blowout.

Here are my Week 12 predictions:

Week 12

  • Green Bay 33 Atlanta 29
  • Cleveland 36 Carolina 12
  • Oakland 20 Miami 12
  • Indianapolis 31 San Diego 24
  • San Francisco 33 Arizona 27

That Green Bay score is wishful thinking. I’m playing my best friend in fantasy football this week, and I’m going to need a couple of miracles to beat him—including a huge day by former Berkeley Bear Aaron Rodgers as his Packers take on the Atlanta Falcons.

Just five hours to kickoff! I should probably get some sleep…


Sunday, November 28th, 2010



antaxōni is generally translated as “language”, though it includes more than speech and grammar. It specifically includes pragmatics and kinesthetics and customs of a culture.

ñi antaxōni cī;
“Fiat lingua!”