Fèdzéyí, the language of too many verbs

Introduction

Fèdzéyí is one of my older conlangs. It was created in 2015, and the original ideas for the conlang are very different than how it turned out.

The then-unnamed conlang was one of three languages in a language family, all three of which were spoken by a fictional people who lived in and around a canyon. At that point, there were some influences from Romanian, of all languages. I’d already decided that the language strucure would resemble Japanese (CVN syllables), but with tones.

At this point, I decided that the original idea for the conlang needed to be scrapped. I scrapped the language family idea entirely and decided to take inspiration from Mandarin & Navajo, two languages I was looking into at the time. I had a very poor understanding of both of those languages, and it showed.

Eventually, Fèdzéyí moved away from those incluences and became something of its own. Fèdzéyí means “circle language”. When I named it, I still had the idea of making it be spoken by a fictional group of people. After some time, I abandoned that entirely and kept the name.

Fèdzéyí is primarily based on verbs. All verbs have a “base” form that is monosyllabic, with grammatical particles attching to them. Most nouns are derived from verbs with an accompanying class suffix. There are very few “true” adjectives; most of the time, verbs are used in their place as descriptors.

Phonology

Fèdzéyí has a syllable structure of CVN, where:

  • C = any consonant or /kw/
  • V = any vowel
  • N = /n/ or /ŋ/

/m/ was originally included as a final, but I dropped that when I realized that would create too many base words.

Consonant inventory:

  • Nasals: /m/, /n/, /ŋ/
  • Stops: /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/
  • Fricatives: /f/, /v/, /s/, /z/, /ɕ/, /ʑ/, /h/
  • Affricates: /tɕ/, /dʑ/
  • Approximants: /l/, /j/, /w/
  • Trills: /r/

I spent some time deliberating on whether I wanted a voicing or aspiration distinction on the stops, and also whether or not I wanted to include /f/ and /v/, and whether I wanted to delete /r/ entirely and only have /l/.

Vowel inventory:

  • Front: /i/, /u/
  • Central: /ə/, /a/
  • Back: /u/, /o/

There was originally a distinction between long and short vowels, but again, it created too many base words.

Fèdzéyí has three tones: level, rising, and falling. The rising tone is indicated with an acute accent, and the falling tone is indicated with a grave accent.

Verb Construction

A verb is constructed in the form Modifier-Adverb-Stem-Mood-Tense.

“Modifiers” are particles that indicate positivity (vùn) or negativity/negation (éng). You can use verb with vùn prefixed to indicate that you completed an action (such as if you were asked if you already took out the trash). Éng is used in largely the same way.

Adverbs are just verb stems that are used to modify the main verb. There’s nothing particularly unique about them.

Fèdzéyí has four moods: indicative (keun), subjunctive (dzo), conditional (), and imperative (). The three tenses are past (heu), present (da), and future (dzí).

I once considered marking person and number on the verbs since the conlang is so verb-heavy to begin with, but decided against it as it would make the words too long for my own liking.

Noun Construction

This is where things get fun.

The vast majority of nouns are based on verb stems. They’re constructed in the form Determiner-Verb Stem-Class-Number/Numeral-Case-Adjective.

There are proximal, medial, and distal determiners. They’re either singuar or plural, and this is a bit redundant with the numeral being marked elsewhere, but you know what? Redundancy is a part of most (all?) natural languages, so I have no problem putting it into this conlang.

  • Proximal: dà, dàho
  • Medial: tú, túho
  • Distal: néng, néngho

There are ten noun classes, and they’re used to create nouns out of verb stems:

  • People: wu
  • Animals: lu
  • Plants: ò
  • Heavenly objects, weather: é
  • Body parts: neu
  • Human-made objects (tools): mùng
  • Vehicles, methods of transport: ngèù
  • Human-made inanimate objects: kwí
  • Naturally-occurring inanimate objects: ye
  • Abstract inanimate concepts: dzé

Let’s look at the name of the language, Fèdzéyí:

  • = verb, to enclose/encircle
  • dzé = noun class, an abstract inanimate concept
  • = noun, a language

+dzé creates the noun “circle”. is one of the few nouns that isn’t based on a verb, and means “language”.

(Since there’s a word for “encircle”, I decided to create verbs for other shapes – en-rectangle, en-triangle (èn), en-square, en-parallelogram – because why not?)

Let’s look at a couple more nouns I’ve created:

  • do “to gift ” + kwí “human-made inanimate object” = dokwí “a gift”
  • fo “to swim”+ vàng “to be scaly”  + lu “animal” = fovànglu “fish”
  • mi “to meow + lu “animal” = milu “cat”
  • “to count” + dzé “abstract concept” = nèdzé “number”
  • ngí  to fly” + ngèù “vehicle” = ngíngèù “airplane”
  • shé “to flow” + é “heavenly object” = shéé “water”
  • tsà “to know” + dzé “abstract concept” = tsàdzé “knowledge”

There are a couple of numbers: singular (not marked), “some” (meun), a general plural (ho), and a mass plural (kún). If an exact number is needed, you can just put a numeral in that slot instead.

There aren’t as many cases in Fèdzéyí as in some of my other conlangs, primarily because…I didn’t want to deal with very many. That’s the whole reason.

Fèdzéyí cases:

  • Nominative: unmarked
  • Genitive: ú
  • Accusative: shí
  • Dative:
  • Instrumental: yún
  • Locative: vi
  • Adessive: ní
  • Inessive: dzu

Like adverbs, adjectives are verb stems that are used to modify the noun.

Sentence Structure

Naturally, word order is Verb-Subject-Object. Due to the number of cases, it can actually be more flexible than that, but there’s really no reason to use anything other than VSO.

If the sentence is a question, then the question word comes at the beginning of the sentence. Question words are:

  • dèn – when, at what time
  • eng – who, what person
  • – what
  • gè nèdzé – how many
  • – why
  • úng – where, at what place
  • yu – a generic question word that’s used when none of the others apply

Following are examples of each question word:

Dèn lódzodzí waho?

  • When do we leave?

Eng tú?

  • Who is that?

Eng ténkeunda milushí?

  • Who owns the cat?

Gè tú?

  • What is that?

Gè nèdzé zhekeunda ingho wínkwídzu?

  • How many people are in the house?

Kí éngdzekeunda ngóho?

  • Why aren’t you sleeping?

Úng zhekeunda ngó?

  • Where are you?

Yu túlu milushí?

  • Is that (animal) a cat?

July 2018 Painting Practice

In July of 2018, I decided I wanted to practice digital painting. I made a rough sketch, inked that sketch, and then decided I’d paint it with a couple of different palettes to see what I could do with it.

forestpractice_inks

This was way back when I was still trying to figure out how to paint, and what particular style I wanted to use. I’d seen plenty of people paint underneath digital inks and produce great paintings, so I wanted to try that out for myself.

forestpractice_paint

This was my first attempt. I don’t remember where I got the palette from. I might have picked random colors on my own. I don’t even remember which brushes I used, though since I did this in Clip Studio Paint, I’m going to assume that I used the dense watercolor brush for at least some of it.

I still like this one. The colors are too smooth in some places (the grass), but the colors ended up pretty good overall. Also, I think the yellow sky makes it look ominous.

forestpractice_palette 01

This was my second attempt, which is kind of….bleh? I didn’t bother blending colors for this one or even trying to paint anything. Just blocked out the colors and left it like that.

I think the colors here are a bit too natural. Nothing actually sticks out.

forestpractice_palette 02

Third attempt. I like this a lot better than the previous one. At this point, I’d decided I wasn’t going to worry about blending, and focused instead on blocking out colors to see if they would work well.

And this one does work well! Even though the colors are still “natural”, they’re a lot bolder than the previous attempt.

forestpractice_palette 03

Fourth attempt. If I ignore the first actual painting, this is my favorite. It’s got all the colors I like the most! It’s also the most similar to the kind of digital paintings I do nowadays.

Perhaps…I should repaint this in my current painting style?

Qitiniasaaq, the language of the Qitiniina

Background & Introduction

I created Qitiniasaaq in 2016, sometime after I’d created Kitlinar. It’s less complete than Kitlinar, since the first version of The Gate at the End of the World only had one Qitiniina character and the Qitiniasaaq language wasn’t spoken.

kitlinqitinmap

I never bothered creating any specific dialects for it like I did with Kitlinar, even though it’d likely have many more dialects. I guess what I’m describing here is the Kuulitaisaa dialect.

You may have assumed that this language has some phonological and orthographical influences from the Inuit languages, and you’d be correct. It also has some inspirations from Finnish – primarily in the number of cases it has.

Consonants

[ɴ] is an allophone of /n/ and only occurs at the end of words.

LabialAlveolarPalatalVelarUvular
Nasalmnŋ(ɴ)
Stopptkq
Fricatives
Approximantlj

Vowels

Vowels are either long or short. Diphthongs are the same.

FrontBack
Closei iːu uː
Opena aː

Syllable Structure and Stress

Syllable structure is CVC, where:

  • C = any consonant
  • V = any vowel or diphthong

The majority of syllables are CV, with CVC syllables mainly occurring word-finally.

Primary stress usually falls on syllables with long vowels.

Orthography

Letteraaaiiijkl
Sound/a//aː//i//iː//j//k//l/
Lettermnngpqst
Sound/m//n//ŋ//p//q//s//t/
Letteruuu
Sound/u//uː/

Pronouns

Qitiniasaaq didn’t even have any pronouns until I started cleaning up all my notes a couple of months ago. That’s how little grammar I made for this language – it’s basically a glorified naming language!

As a result, the pronoun system is fairly standard and boring:

PersonSingularPlural
1stliinliinik
2ndsanasanamik
3rdmainmainik

Nouns

Nouns are marked for case & number. They can also take on a demonstrative determiner as an interfix. Adjectives are fused onto the end of the noun, and any noun can be used as an adjective without any modification – til can mean both “ice” and “icy”.

Short phrases formed with the genitive case tend to become one word, such as qitiniasaaq “tundra’s language”. This is broken down into qitin “tundra” + ia “genitive” + saaq “language”.

Qitiniasaaq is also ergative-absolutive instead of nominative-accusative like most of my languages – another major influence from the Inuit languages.

SingularPlural
Ergative-kaa-kaamik
Absolutive-(m)ik
Genitive-ia-iamik
Dative-inuu-inuumik
Comitative-pi-pimik
Instrumental-qui-quimik
Abessive-miu-miumik
Ablative-tautaumik
Allative-kaai-kaaimik
Adessive-laa-laamik
Inessive-qu-qumik
Elative-sau-saumik
Illative-naa-naamik

Verbs

Verbs are declined for tense, mood, and voice. They aren’t declined for person, but pronouns can be stuck onto the end of the verb.

  • Tenses: far past, past, near past, present, present habitual, near future, future, far future
  • Moods: indicative, conditional, imperative
  • Voice: active, passive

I think Qitiniasaaq is the first language where I made a distinction between near & far past/future tenses. That’s something I’ve used in other conlangs I’ve created since 2016.

Not all conjugations in the table below exist – I haven’t yet figured out which ones don’t:

Far pastPastNear pastPresentPresent hab.Near futureFutureFar future
Ind. (A)-timi-mi-kami-lii-katuu-tuu-tituu
Ind. (P)-timisa-misa-kamisa-sa-liisa-katuusa-tuusa-tituusa
Cond. (A)-timimiiq-mimiiq-kamimiiq-miiq-liimiiq-katuumiiq-tuumiiq-tituumiiq
Cond. (P)-timimiiqsa-mimiiqsa-kamimiiqsa-miiqsa-liimiiqsa-katuumiiqsa-tuumiiqsa-tituumiiqsa
Imp. (A)-timikui-mikui-kamikui-kui-liikui-katuukui-tuukui-tituukui
Imp. (P)-timikuisa-mikuisa-kamikuisa-kuisa-liikuisa-katuukuisa-tuukuisa-tituukuisa

Here’s an example of the passive/active voice:

Kaalaliiliin Qitiniasaaq.

  • I speak Qitiniasaaq.
  • speak.PRS-HAB.IND.ACT.1SG Qitiniasaaq.ABS

Kaalaliisaliin Qitiniasaaq.

  • Qitiniasaaq is spoken by me.
  • speak.PRS-HAB.IND.PASS.1SG Qitiniasaaq.ABS

Resemblance to the Greenlandic Inuit word “kalaallisut” is entirely coincidental. Seriously!