Introduction - history, setting
Phonology - phonological constraints, affixation, mutation
Morphology - nouns, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, numbers, verbs, conjunctions
Derivational Morphology - nominalizers, pronominalizers, adjectivizers
Syntax - constituent order, noun phrases, passive constructions, questions, complex sentences
Originating in the coastal region of Áorfoen, Áorfoenni has spread into the northern lands of Ethelíd. It is now spoken as far west as the Lun-Tora and the isle of Mídhíon, and east to the border of Malgaria.
Áorfoenni shows some similarity with Estéldir, once spoken in Ethelíd, though this may be due mainly to prolonged contact rather than showing common ancestry. Malghas and Corioni to the east are possibly related to it as well. The languages of the northern plains show very little connection to Áorfoenni aside from recent military and agricultural borrowings.
In earlier times, the Áorfoenni (the speakers of this language) were confined to the lands around the southern sea, calling their language "Elodyen", which simply meant "the way of speaking", or less metaphorically, "the language". But increased contact with the other lands led to a sense of Áorfoenni identity, separate from the other peoples of the world.
Power, in Áorfoenni culture, belonged to those with honor (cuthl). Those who fought bravely, traveled far, and gave freely to the people deserved the glory, and so it was the aspiration of every young man to win this battle-fame for himself. The invention of the chariot in Áorfoen allowed a new kind of warfare, one that elevated the richest warriors above the crowd, letting them fight one another for the greatest glory. At the same time, the kingdoms of Ethelíd, across the mountains to the north, were under attack by nomads of the plains.
The custom in Áorfoen was that the kingship of a region would pass to one of the king's sons, though it was never certain which one it would be. The sons of a king would lead bands of prominent warriors across the land in an attempt to prove their worth. This constant warfare in a search for cuthl had begun to take its toll on the Áorfoenni kingdoms. When the northern kingdoms of Ethelíd began to fall to the steppe nomads, a new field of battle opened up to the Áorfoenni nobility. Led by the two sons of the king of Fáorn Ruádh, highly mobile bands of charioteers and light cavalry streamed into Ethelíd.
The northern kingdoms were soon overcome, and the entire land of Ethelíd passed into Áorfoenni control. The two sons who started the invasion established the twin kingdoms of Ármelgin, recognizing their father as high king (duntedh). The invading warbands soon invited brothers, sisters, and cousins to come and join them in this new, thinly populated land. After a few years, the Áorfoenni outnumbered the native Estéldirs, and the Estéldir language began to give way to Áorfoenni.
Áorfoenni has 27 phonemes, 18 of which are consonants.
labial dental alveolar velar stops fricatives nasals liquids
S is pronounced  normally, but s before i or í is palatalized, being pronounced , somewhat like ti in English ratio. In some texts, si is written şi to remind the reader of its pronunciation, but this is not reflected in the Áorfoenni writing system.
Ł is silent, nothing more than a brief hiatus between vowels, indicating a consonant that has been muted.
Áorfoenni has nine vowels, one of which is a diphthong.
front back high low diphthong
Á, é, í, o, and u are the five cardinal vowels of Spanish or Italian.
I is similar to i in English bit, though it can vary from this to a much more central sound. When before another vowel, it is much closer to í.
E is similar to e in English bet.
A is between a in English father and u in rudder. The distinction between á and a is no longer present in some areas.
Áo is the same as ou in English sound, or au in German Bauer.
Note that c is always a velar stop, like English k, even when before a front vowel: cedveth "hillfort" is pronounced ked-veth. Ch is a velar fricative, as in German, not an affricate like English ch: návdách "door" is pronounced more or less like nahv-dahh with a heavy h-sound.
Stress is relatively even across the word, with some preference shown to the penultimate and ultimate syllables. Lax vowels (i/e/a) are less likely to be stressed, but stress is definitely not phonemic in Áorfoenni.
Words may not begin with a consonant cluster, and they almost never end with a stop.
If an affix causes two of the same vowel to be adjacent to each other, they merge into one. (For this, a/á is considered one vowel, merging to á. Likewise with e/é > é and i/í > í.)
Many morphological processes cause initial or final consonants to mutate in predictable ways. These are lenition, fortition, and velarization. Of these, lenition is the most widespread.
At the beginning of a word:
c > łí
ch > łí
d > dh
f > fí
g > zh
gh > zh
l > łí
n > ní
s > si
t > th
v > ví
Note that si/sí lenites to sí, just as if it were an affix, rather than a mutated consonant. If a consonant at the end of a word lenites, it follows the same rules as at the beginning except for:
c > ł
ch > ł
f > f
l > ł
n > n
s > s
v > v
To give an example of how lenition works, let's look at one situation where nouns lenite - after the preposition ce "in". We have cora "pasture" which changes to ce łíora "in the pasture". Or tara "well", which becomes ce thara "in the well".
Consonants fortify at the beginning of a word as follows:
c > ch
ch > c
d > zh
r > zh
g > c
gh > c
l > ł
s > si
t > łí
th > s
Once again, si/sí fortifies to sí. At the end of a word, all consonants fortify in the same manner except:
t > ł
For example, words fortify after the conjunction a "and". Let's take the words lon "salt water" and gáe "fresh water". To say "lon and gáe", we say "lon a cáe".
At the beginning or end of a word:
d > g
dh > g
gh > g
s > su
t > c
th > thu
If the s that is being velarized is followed by e, i, or í, the vowel disappears, being replaced by u. Nouns can take an article, na which means "not a" or "not the". This article causes velarization of the initial consonant. Dáras "jaw" changes to na-gáras "not a jaw". But siádven "paint" becomes na-suádven "not paint".
Nouns - articles, declension
Pronouns - personal pronouns, question words, other pronouns
Verbs - conjugation, causative, progressive, cessative, negation, relative forms, irregular siá
Áorfoenni nouns may take an article, and must be declined with respect to case and number. A maximally-inflected noun is of the structure:
An article is generally not required, but may be used to make the meaning clear. They are written with a dash separating them from their nouns, as il-siugáden "some wolves".
definite é-- indefinite il-- negative na--velarize
Articles don't distinguish singular vs. plural, so il- means either "a" or "some".
Na- means "not a" or "not the", and causes velarization of the initial consonant. For example:
Siá el é-sulan, na-ceran!
is that the-moon-ACC not-sun-ACC
That's the moon, not the sun!
Nouns fall into five different declensions, each named for a noun in that declension. Nouns decline for number (singular and plural) and three cases (nominative, accusative, and prepositional).
falcen "warrior" singular plural nominative falcena falcenin accusative falcenán falcenárn prepositional falcen falcenír
Falcen-declension nouns lose a final vowel in the plural. Those with final consonants undergo final fortition in the singular nominative and accusative. For example, consider leth "light" and áora "land".
leth sg. áora pl. nom. lesa áorin acc. lesán áorárn prep. leth áorír
fera "river" sg. pl. nom. fera ferar acc. feran ferarán prep. fera ferarn
All nouns in this category end in a vowel, so it's simply a matter of adding a suffix.
ídedh "star" sg. pl. nom. ídedh ídedhín acc. ídedhín ídedhíne prep. ídedh ídedhín
Singular ídedh-declension nouns undergo final lenition in the accusative and prepositional cases. The plural causes voicing of certain final consonants. Let's look at védínt "burden" to see these changes.
védínt "burden" sg. pl. nom. védínt védíndín acc. védínthín védíndíne prep. védínth védíndín
rí "jewel" sg. pl. nom. rí rínídh acc. rín ríníodin prep. rí ríní
Like the fera nouns, all rí-declension nouns end in a vowel.
thal "stone" sg. pl. nom. thal thalen acc. thalan thalénan prep. thal thalen
Thal-declension nouns undergo final velarization in the singular accusative and singular prepositional cases. Plural thal nouns that end in a vowel take a slightly different set of endings. Consider eledh "language" and gáe "fresh water".
eledh sg. gáe pl. nom. eledh gáeden acc. elegan gáedénan prep. eleg gáeden
Any noun used with a preposition must be in the prepositional case.
ne of, in relation to, on the topic of
ne + am "me" > de'm
ne + í "you" > dí
ne + é-- > dé--
ne before a vowel > n'
vedun ne ferarn "king of rivers"
vedun n'ídedhín "king of stars"
dé-gálvé "of the captain"
ae of, belonging to (usually physically touching or attached to), made of, comprised of, partitive (as in "a bit of cheese")
ae + am > aem
ae + í > ad'í
ae before a vowel > aedh
é-gera aedh é-nínethu "the sheep's head"
il-échir ae thíchín "a field of thorns"
án to, toward
án é-neru "to the sea"
acra from, away from, on behalf of, with the authority of, before / earlier than
Am éda acra é-gálvé. "I speak on behalf of the captain."
acra é-siugáden "away from the wolves"
ce lenite at, in, during, among, for the good of
ce + é-- > cé--
ce before a vowel > cedh
é-genesien ce zhenédh "the wisdom in a question"
cé-pálgénaní "for the good of the people / among the people"
cedh Ecsur "during winter"
ídh for, with a goal of
Suram ídh asi de’m. "I am looking for my father."
Am sián án é-modh ídh anamugul udhun, am sián án é-neru ídh mugul udhun.
"I went to the mountain to challenge him, I went to the sea to fight him."
es through, by way of, using
es é-modhen "through the mountains"
íáda es videdh "to point with a spear"
ín with, along with, alongside, beside, next to
é-falcen ín videdh "the warrior with a spear"
cern é-neru "into the sea"
cecrí from within, out of, by (a person acting)
fethon cecrí é-sáísia "strength from within the heart"
mélga gudh é-evsia "green under the snow"
gédan to under
Tesiadh é-témbedh gédan véth. "The thief goes under the wall."
dachr from under, by order of
dachr é-vedun "by order of the king"
al over, above, across, beyond, after
al é-násiug dé-duntedh "after the death of the high king"
alán to over/above/across/beyond, against, contra
Muguladh alán é-nalethu. "He fights against the darkness."
ulách from over/above/across/beyond
il-rí ulách é-neru "a jewel from across the sea"
Áorfoenni has a reasonably large set of personal pronouns, distinguishing number for all categories, formality for second person, inclusive/exclusive we, and animacy for third person. The second and third person plural pronouns clearly derive from the singular forms, using various plural endings. Each pronoun has nominative, accusative, and prepositional case forms.
singular plural 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd informal formal inanim. animate excl. incl. informal formal inanim. animate nom. am í ve aí ath na edh ír ver aír ádha acc. man íni van ín udhun nun édini ínir vanar ínen udhna prep. am í vá ín ath nuch édi ír vár ínen ádha
The inanimate/animate distinction is used much as we use he/she vs. it in English, using ath for people and higher animals, and aí for everything else. A good rule of thumb for when to use an animate vs. an inanimate pronoun for an animal is this - Does anyone care what gender the animal is? If it's a housefly, probably not - it's aí. But it makes a great deal of difference whether a horse is a mare or a stallion, so you'd use ath. But you can't carry English gender pronouns over to Áorfoenni, which doesn't make such distinctions.
Formal pronouns are used with those considered to be your superiors, whether by age, wealth, power, or social standing. Informal pronouns are always used when speaking to children, even if their father is the king.
Exclusive we (na) means us, but not you. Inclusive we (edh) means us and you, or me and you.
Questions are formed with a special set of interrogative pronouns.
adverb-like náctu where, in what place neren to where crazha from where nodu by what route ándu why elédu how octo when ocsiar whether, if férdé with what name, called what thalíon using what thing
noun-like nom. acc. prep. molcu molcun mol what engé engén eneg who
adjective-like athoga which nudhní whose
This class of pronouns is actually an open class, as more can be created from adjectives.
eth "this" sg. pl. nom. eth ethen acc. ethuan ethénan prep. ethu ethen
el "that" sg. pl. nom. el elen acc. elan elénan prep. el elen
Unlike "this" and "that", eth and el can only be used as demonstrative pronouns, not adjectives. In English, it's acceptable to say "this book" or "that car", since "this" and "that" can be used as demonstrative adjectives. They can also be used as pronouns: "this is a book". Compare this usage with "he", which can't be used as an adjective: "he clerk" isn't allowed, but "he is a clerk" is allowed.
Adjectives change for comparison only, and are not divided into any special categories.
avr "far" íonel "new" mélga "green" sielda "soon" comparative avzhen "farther" íonełen "newer" mélgan "greener" sieldan "sooner" superlative é-avredhu
1 ní iní nídi 2 gí búí gídi 3 vedh vedech vedhi 4 cedach cedaghé cedachi 5 tegudh tegudech tegudhi 6 gíven gívenech gíveni 7 ívu ívuch ívudi 8 evídh evídhech evídhi 9 níoni níonich níonidi 10 médhin médhinech médhini
Cardinal numbers (one, two) are for saying how many there are, ordinals (first, second) are for saying where something is in a list, and iteratives (once, twice) say how many times something happens. Áorfoenni ordinals cause selective final voicing of their root, being regularly formed from the sixth on.
There are nine different conjugations of verbs in Áorfoenni, each named for a verb of that conjugation. Verbs inflect for aspect, voice, and person. Verbs in their default form function as infinitive or imperative. A maximally-inflected verb is of the structure:
Ver n-egnásugadh, mugul!
ver n-eg-násudh-adh mugul
you NEG-REL-die-3ANIM fight
You who are not dying, fight!
gan "to burn" active passive 1st sg. ganam ganeín pl. ganár ganáren 2nd inf. ganaí ganeín formal ganan ganáren 3rd inanim. gana ganín anim. gan ganaraen
Gan verbs undergo final fortition, except in the 3rd inanimate. Notice how the 1st and 2nd person passives are the same? Use the subject pronoun with passive gan verbs to prevent confusion.
dínodh "to name" active passive 1st sg. dínodham dínodhamaen pl. dínodhár dínodhambraen 2nd inf. dínodhaí dínodhanaen formal dínodhan dínodhandraen 3rd inanim. dínodha dínodhaín anim. dínodh dínodhraen
Dínodh verbs have the same forms as gan verbs in the active voice, and just like gan verbs, they undergo fortition except in the 3rd inanimate.
tem "to take" active passive 1st sg. temí temidhín pl. temídh temídín 2nd inf. temí temidhín formal temídh temídín 3rd inanim. tem temín anim. tem temídín
Tem verbs undergo lenition, except in the 3rd inanimate. Use the subject pronoun with tem verbs to avoid ambiguity.
mugul "to fight" active passive 1st sg. mugula mugulagén pl. muguludh muguludaen 2nd inf. mugula mugulagén formal muguludh muguludaen 3rd inanim. mugul mugulun anim. muguladh muguladaen
Mugul verbs undergo final velarization. Always use the subject pronoun with mugul verbs.
esien "to understand" active passive 1st sg. esienam esienamaen pl. esienamadh esienamadaen 2nd inf. esienan esienanaen formal esienanadh esienanadaen 3rd inanim. esienu esienugén anim. esienudh esienudaen
Esien verbs undergo final velarization. As each form is distinct, an esien verb does not require the use of a subject pronoun.
sura "to seek" active passive 1st sg. suram suramín pl. surar suraraen 2nd inf. suraín suranaen formal suran surandraen 3rd inanim. surazha suradan anim. surar suradraen
Sura verbs do not require the subject pronoun.
tedhi "to stand" active passive 1st sg. tedhi tedhigén pl. tedhin tedhidaen 2nd inf. tedhi tedhigén formal tedhin tedhidaen 3rd inanim. tedhi tedhiní anim. tedhin tedhidaen
Tedhi verbs generally require the subject pronoun.
ivi "to live" active passive 1st sg. ivim ivimín pl. ivimidh ivimidín 2nd inf. ivini ivinín formal ivinídh ivinídín 3rd inanim. ividhi ividhidín anim. ivididh ividhidín
Ivi verbs are easily distinguished, with only the passive 3rd person forms the same, so the subject pronoun is not required.
tha "to proclaim" active passive 1st sg.
pl. thamadh thamadaen 2nd inf.
formal thanadh thandaen 3rd inanim.
anim. tharu thagudh
Tha verbs do not require the subject pronoun.
The causative is formed using the prefix an-, ana- with root verbs beginning in a consonant other than n.
násudh "to die" > anásudh "to kill"
áver "to hear something" > anáver "to make someone hear something"
The progressive is formed using the prefix án-, ání- when the root verb begins in a consonant.
"I am closing the door."
The cessative is formed with the prefix t-, te- before a consonant.
dín "to give" > tedín "to cease giving"
Verbs are negated with a separated prefix ni-, or n- before a vowel. This prefix causes lenition.
aí gana "it burns" > aí ni-zhana "it doesn't burn"
The verb of a relative clause uses a prefix to indicate this, ec- before unvoiced consonants, and eg- before voiced consonants and vowels.
Dín cuthl án il-pálgéna ectesiar alán é-Lon Ledír.
give honor to a-man REL-travel-3ANIM across the-Lun.Ledír
Give honor to a man who has traveled across the Lun-Ledír.
As in many languages, the most irregular verb is "to be", siá. Here is a complete chart of the most useful forms of siá.
infinitive singular plural 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd informal formal inanim. animate informal formal active siá sián siách siénídh siá siedh siémidh siágha siérídh siérá causative anasiá anasián anasiách anasiénídh anasiá anasiedh anasiémidh
anasiérídh anasiérá cessative tesiá tesián tesiách tesiénídh tesiá tesiedh tesiémidh tesiágha tesiérídh tesiérá negative ni-siá ni-sián ni-siách ni-siénídh ni-siá ni-siedh ni-siémidh ni-siágha ni-siérídh ni-siérá
Other forms are possible, such as ni-anasiá "to make not", but these are all regularly derived.
a fortify and
a before a or á > e
é-duntedh a é-tembedh "the high king and the thief"
il-áora ne ándhu e ándía "a land of milk and honey"
ím and, for natural/inseparable groups or pairs
methelen ím váníen "bucks and does"
ádhin ídh cudul "hot or cold"
The -dedh suffix is used primarily with verbs, though it can be used with nouns and adjectives as well, indicating a person of that action, thing, or quality. With verbs, it is generally productive, showing some assimilation to preceding consonants.
-dedh word > noun (idedh): "person of X, Xer"
ís "hunt" > ístedh "hunter"
thedíon "east" > thedíondedh "easterner"
mizha "foreign" > mizhedh "foreigner"
The suffix -den behaves much the same as -dedh, though it is not as productive.
-den word > noun (idedh): "person of X, Xer"
evedh "obey" > evedhen "servant"
anásudh "kill" > anásudhen "killer"
neru "sea" > neruden "sailor, fisherman"
Adjectives can be made into a noun of their quality using -on. The resulting noun is usually of the thal declension, though there are some exceptions. This process is generally productive.
-on adj. > noun (thal): "Xness"
él "slow" > élon "slowness"
sielda "soon" > sieldon "imminence"
asienral "communal" > asienralon "similarity"
Unlike most languages, Áorfoenni has an open class of interrogative pronouns, as more can be derived from adjectives by adding a prefix, a-, and a suffix, -é.
a- -é adj. > question word: "how X"
adh "old" > ádhé "how old"
mélga "green" > amélgaé "how green"
él "slow" > aélé "how slow"
sielda "soon" > asieldaé "how soon"
A suffix -el can change a noun into an adjective of its quality.
noun > adj.: "Xlike"
íon "youth" > íonel "young"
leth "light" > ledhel "radiant"
násiudh "death" > násiudhel "dead"
tera "sun" > teral "sunny"
The simplest sentence in Áorfoenni is a command, VO.Avno é-návdách!
Open the door!
Other than just the verb and the object, you can flesh out a sentence like this with other things, like adverbs or prepositional phrases.
Tem il-marcarán án cedázh.
bring a-fruit-ACC.PL to home-PREP
Bring some fruit home.
Most of the time, however, you'll need a subject to make a statement, in which case it's VSO.
Dín é-gálvé il-sián án asi de'm.
give-3ANIM.SG the-captain-NOM a-dog-ACC to father-PREP of me
The captain gave my father a dog.
Statements can have prepositional phrases or adverbs in them, and they can go just about anywhere. Adverbs often go before the verb, while prepositional phrases are likely to be at the end of the sentence, but there's no rule one way or another.
Siáráter vedh é-veduna cern é-noran.
yesterday come-3ANIM.SG the-king-NOM into the-village-PREP
The king came to the village yesterday.
Predicative statements are treated just the same as any other, using "be" as the verb.
Siá arana de'm il-ivídhen adh.
is mother-NOM of me a-woman-ACC old
My mother is an old woman.
If the subject is a pronoun though, the sentence is SVO, like English.
Na dínídh inínan dé-áor án vá.
we give-1PL dominion-ACC over the-land-PREP to you
We give you dominion over the land.
Am métha izhen é-modhénan acra am egnásuga.
I want-1SG see the-mountain-ACC.PL before I REL-die-1SG
I want to see the mountains before I die.
If the object is the same as the subject, fénr "face" is used as a special reflexive object.
Izhen ivídhen fénr n'ath.
see-3ANIM.SG woman face of-her
The woman saw herself.
Noun phrases are simply NOUN ADJECTIVE NUMBER, the exact reverse of English.
pálgénanídh íonel gí
man-PL young two
two young men
a tall tree
il-pálgéna egávezh án é-vedun
a-man REL-listen-3ANIM to the-king-PREP
a man who listens to the king
il-oden eganivídhidín siar ae násiudel
a-time REL-reanimate-3ANIM.PASSIVE all of the-dead-PREP
a time when all the dead are brought back to life
Siá é-méthen álé.
is the-woodworker-NOM tall
The woodworker is tall.
Siérá é-andenthalen íonel.
are the-tree-NOM.PL young
The trees are young.
Evegadaen é-elen por é-elen na-por.
obey-3ANIM.PASSIVE that-NOM.PL strong that-PREP.PL not-strong
The strong shall be obeyed by the weak.
Siérá ethen elénan íonel.
are this-NOM.PL that-ACC.PL young
These are the young.
A comparative statement has three crucial parts: the quality being compared, the noun considered, and the noun compared to. The noun being compared to is in the prepositional case, and the adjective quality being compared is in the comparative form.
Siá é-ázhin cuduledhu ádhinen é-pelí ádhinedhu.
is the-fire-NOM cold-SUPER hot-COMP the-soup-PREP hot-SUPER
The coldest fire is hotter than the hottest soup.
Siá na-modh álén ethu.
is no-mountain-NOM tall-COMP this-PREP
No mountain is taller than this.
Thagén il-cedázh de'm.
proclaim-3ANIM.PASSIVE a-house-NOM of me
I have a house.
Evegadaen é-ethen por é-elen na-por.
obey-3ANIM.PASSIVE this-NOM.PL strong that-PREP.PL not-strong
The strong shall be obeyed by the weak.
Simple yes/no questions have the same form as statements, with the addition of the particle na at the end of the sentence. This particle can be omitted, in which case the question is only distinguished from a statement by intonation.
Í vedhí na?
you come-2INF.SG QUES
Are you coming?
Answers to such questions repeat the verb from the question.
Yes, I am.
No, I'm not.
Negative questions are easy enough to make, as they use the same negative morphology as an indicative verb.
Ni-siách il-pálgéna adh na?
NEG-be-2FORM.SG a-man-ACC old QUES
Aren't you an old man?
Yes, I am (an old man).
No, I'm not (an old man).
Questions using interrogative pronouns don't move them to the front of the sentence as in English: What did you eat?, instead leaving them where they would be if they were regular nouns: You ate a sandwich. > You ate what?.
Izhenadh é-cedvethen engén?
see-3ANIM.SG the-sentry-NOM who-ACC
Who did the sentry see?
Í díní án ath é-nínethu a molcun?
you give-3ANIM.SG to him the-sheep-ACC and what-ACC
You gave him the sheep and what else?
Sentences as Objects
Tell them that the king is dead.
Everyone knows that the eastern pass is closed.
Yesterday you said we had five days' food, not two!
Tell them what you told me.
When the king's heir comes from across the sea, (then) it will rain.
If he betrays us, (then) kill him.
I don't live in the house where my grandfather died.
Today is when we are to be exiled.
The king says whether we are to be exiled.
© 2004 Joseph Fatula, all rights reserved.