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The Kwendyngu Language

This is only an introduction to the most important features of Kwendyngu.

General Notes
When the proto-Tua invaded Tuadem, they and the previous inhabitants (the Hilatua) developed a pidgin to allow communication. Because the proto-Tua quickly established dominance, their language became a prestige language. It therefore provided the majority of the vocabulary of the pidgin. Because of the numerical superiority of the Hilatua, however, the grammar, while simplified as all pidgins are, was influenced by that of Hiladyngu.

The new language, which we might call pre-proto-Kwendyngu, soon creolized into proto-Kwendyngu. This became the standard language of the land, and the ancestor of both Kwendyngu and the various dialects of the Common Tongue.

At some point, the religious intelligentsia decided to create from it a synthetic language suitable for religious and philosophical thought. This was the birth of Kwendyngu proper, the "holy language." In part the impetus to create such a language came from the proto-Tua concept of the gods speaking their own language.

The synthetic origin of Kwendyngu was soon forgotten, and the belief arose that it was the language of the gods, and that the gods had given it to men.

The intelligentsia had already spoken a dialect of proto-Kwendyngu which possessed a higher percentage of proto-Tua words than that spoken by others. This is the reason for there being so few Hiladyngu words in Kwendyngu.

Kwendyngu was codified by grammarians and priests at Belso Kela to regularize it. Many specialized terms desired for religious and philosophical speculation were also added. Some of these were taken over from Proto-Tua, some were brought in from Hiladyngu, and some, quite frankly, made up. The resulting language kept the simple nature of proto-Kwendyngu grammar, and in fact simplified it even further, removing irregularities. This fit in with the concept of it being a divine language; the gods were, after all, the enforcers of order, so their language must be one of order.

As one might expect, in both the Common Tongue and Kwendyngu words relating to war, weaponry, and domesticated horses come from Proto-Tua. Words for agriculture and many religious concepts, objects, and acts, come from Hiladyngu.

Hiladyngu was definitely non-Indo-European. It does not seem to be related to any surviving language.

Non-Indo-European features of Kwendyngu which may have their origins in Hiladyngu include:
1. No cases
2. Mutations for changing the function of a word.
3. Reduplication for emphasis
4. No distinction between adjectives and adverbs
5. Prepositions used for tenses.

These features may also have been the result of the pidginization process; reduplication, for instance, is common in pidgins.

The vocabulary is mostly Indo-European. The words are based on a variety of forms, almost randomly it seems. Thus some are based on the root form, but others on the nominative singular (nouns) or present (verbs).

Hiladyngu had only verbs, prepositions and particles, and proto-Kwendyngu followed this pattern. This is not completely true; nouns and modifiers were used, but were considered by the Hilatua to be merely transformed versions of verbs, and to have no real identity of their own. An odd effect of this is that there are a number of verbs that are backformed from Indo-European nouns, but then the Tua believe the noun form to be a secondary formation from the verb, which even means that in some cases alternative forms of the noun exists, based on different ways of mutation.

Hiladyngu was very rich in prepositions, whereas Proto-Tua was very poor. Aa a result, most of the prepositions in Kwendyngu are Hiladyngu. The Hilatua were quite pleased to have new prepositions to play with, however, and some of the Kwendyngu prepositions are Proto-Tua, although with changes.

Proto-Tua, on the other hand, like all early Indo-European languages, was highly inflected. In the mix that resulted in Kwendyngu, all endings were dropped. Even the plural is formed by following the noun with the Hiladyngu word for "many" or "more than one," and that is not usually used when the plurality is clear from context, such as in a sentence with number words.

Prefixes and suffixes do occur in Kwendyngu, although they are rare. The most common prefixes are "Po-" and "Na(s)-," both signifying that which the action of the verb is performed upon. The most common suffixes are "-(o)th(o)," meaning "one who, something that,", "-t(o)," the masculine ending, and "-ja," the feminine ending.

Proto-Tua: The language spoken by the invading Tua.
Hiladyngu: The language spoken by the pre-Tua inhabitants of Tuadem.
Common Tongue: The descendant of the language resulting from the mix of prot-Tua and Hiladyngu.
Kwendyngu: The language synthesized from the mix of proto-Tua and Hiladyngu.

Other than the importance of verbs, the most striking feature of Kwendyngu is the existence of mutations, which serve as indicators of word type. Verbs are considered the basis of all words (except prepositions and particles) and other types are formed from them by mutation.

A verb typically begins with what the Tua would consider a "soft" consonant: a voiceless, a fricative, a sibilant, or an "h". To form a noun the verb is "hardened" - it is voiced or roughened in some way. To form a modifier, the noun form is then softened again to a different form than the original verb.

The exact correspondence between a root verb and the noun formed from it is more a matter of intuition than rule. When there is more than one possible noun that can be formed from a single verb, in some cases these nouns are formed by different mutations (and thus these forms become standardized), or one is considered to be the basic form (also becoming standardized), with the other nouns formed with suffixes or prefixes.

The mutations are arranged in families that overlap to an extent. There are also sub-families. The progression of sounds in these groupings are not always linguistically comprehensible, but are often merely conventions.

1. The "g" family
a. h-kh-k-g
b. h-gh-g

2. The "d" family
a. h-th-t-d
b. dh-d

3. The "j/z" family
a. h-j-zh-dzh
b. h-sh-s-z
c. zh-z

4. The "l" family: h-lh-l-ll

5. The "b" family
a. f-v-b
b. f-p-b

6. The "n" family
a. f-v-mj-m-n-d
b. f-v-mw-m-n-d
c. mj-nj-n-d
d. mw-nw-n-d

7. The "r" family: h-rh-r-rr

8. The "w" family: h-wh-w-v

It is important to note that these families are not formally delineated in Kwendyngu, nor are the words formed from them. Except for the words standardized as explained above, it is theoretically possible to use a different one of the choices in the families with sub-families each time a word is used. In practice, however, standards are arising at the time of the book, but since there is neither grammar nor dictionary they have no official standing. The closest thing to an authority is the Book of Hymns. The forms used there are usually followed, although this is not always possible, since the Book of Hymns does not itself always use the same variant.

As an example of the way in which these families are used, "to milk" is "melgo". "Milk" (the noun) is "nelgo". "Milky" (and at least potentially "milkily") is "njelgo". It could also be "nwelgo", although "njelgo" is preferred. This demonstrates several principles of Kwendyngu. First, the verb is considered the first form. Second, the modifier is based on the noun form rather than the verb form. Third, there are sometimes several choices for a mutation, but one is frequently the preferred one.

Prepositions describe relationships between nouns. They can be temporal, spatial, or figurative. They follow the verb and precede the noun to which they refer. They are also used as verb tenses, in which case they precede the verb.

Prepositions do not mutate.

No distinction is made between time and space; "in" a house ("ny domo") is the same as "in" (Kwendyngu uses this rather than "on") a day ("ny hamer").

There are actually two words for "in," one from Proto-Tua ("ny") and one from Hiladyngu ("so"). They are used interchangably, except that "ny" is the only one used for the present tense.

Word order is very rigid. The only exception is that a noun preceded by a preposition which shows its function in the sentence may be put after the verb for emphasis.

The basic word order is VP + SP. That is, the verb comes first, and the object is considered to be part of that verb.

In a more expanded form:
(Mood) + (Tense) + Verb + (Adverb) + (Object) + (Object modifier) + (Subject) + (Subject Modifier). This makes Kwendyngu look like a VOS language, which is a very rare kind. However, that is an illusion from the point of view of a native speaker. The primary element in a sentence is a verb, but the object is considered to be part of the verb, since the object is a necessary part of describing what is going on. From a Kwendyngu point of view, then, the order is OV.

VTense + Ver + VMod + DO + DO Mod. + "no" + Ind. Obj. + IO modifier +Subj. +Subj. Mod. (Unlike the English "to,:" the indirect object identifier "no" is not optional.)

Opi + VTense + Verb + VMod. + Prep. + Ind. Obj. + IO Mod. + Dir. Obj. + DO Mod. (Subject understood. May be included after Verb Mod. if not. Note that an imperative sentence may be in any tense.)

If a question word (who, what, etc.) is used, it replaces the subject in the declarative word order. If no question word is, the sentence starts with "Kwas" and then follows the declarative order. With "kwadh," "when," a tense is not normally used.

Relative clauses
Many constructions that in English would be relative clauses are handled by the moods in Kwendyngu. Others that in English would require the use of a pronoun are expressed as adverbial phrases. For example:

"The man I see." -- "Wiro nas dho sam". Literally, "The man on see I."
"The man whom I saw" -- "Wiro py nas dho sam". Literally, "The man past-tense on see I."
"The man who sees me." -- "Wiro en dho sam." Literally, "The man in sees me."

The verb stems are the infinitives and they are not ever changed to reflect tense, mood, or person. Tenses are formed with prepositions. Although it is easiest for English speakers to think of the tense as modifying the verb, it in fact modifies the entire sentence, except in case where there is a subordinate clause with its own tense.

"Sy" ("to be") is only rarely used with a modifier. Instead a verb form is used which is a softened form of the modifier. For example, instead of "An sy makhit sam" for "I am ticklish", common usage is "An vakhit sam". Of course, the belief is that the softened form was the original. "Sy" is mostly used with a noun. "I am a man" is thus "An sy wiro sam". It is at least theoretically possible to say "An whiro sam", but that is not done in practice.

Present: An (Freqently omitted, esp. before "sy") ("In")
Present Ending: Nas ("On")
Present Originating: Au ("Away From")

Past: Py ("Before")
Past Ending: Pynas ("Before On")
Past Originating: Pythi ("Before During")

Future: Da ("To")
Future Ending: Lo ("Beyond")
Future Originating: Anga ("Into")

The future is used only for cases in which it is extremely likely that the future event will indeed happen. If such a certainty is not possible, a subjunctive future is used instead.

An Ending tense is one where the action indicated began earlier than the basic time, but ended in the basic time. An Originating tense is one in which the action indicated begins in the basic time and continues on from that. The simple tense may be translated either by the English simple tense or the English progressive; the incompleteness of the Ending and Originating tenses does not equate to the progressive.

Indefinite time - Nu
This tense is used in prayers and stories to describe the present time within the composition. The English equivalent is the past tense. It is also used in religious compositions to show that an event is not considered to have happened at any particular time. In such compositions it may be combined with the continuent preposition "Ci", to indicate an event that is considered to be existing at all times.

Imperative - Opi
(Not always used; subject unecessary if understood.)

Polite Imperative - Kwopi
("Kw" (subjunctive) + "At")

Present, past, future, and imperative are known as "simple tenses." The others are known as "modified tenses."

If the tense is the same throughout a sentence it need only be given once, even if there is more than one verb. In informal speech the tense is frequently omitted if it is the same as the preceding sentence or is understood. Tense is also omitted in prayers, poems, and stories unless the tense varies from the historical present. If there is a modifier indicating the time an action occurred, the tense (if a simple one) is omitted.

Auxiliary verbs (can, need, want) are followed by "an" + verb. "I can sing."--"Magh an somen sam."

Active - Tense + verb
Passive - Tense + verb + "Nas" ("On") + object + "Haga" (Agental With) + subject. There need not be a subject.

Hypothetical (subjunctive) - "Kw(a)"-tense + verb. This was probably originally a contraction of "what if" or it may simply be the interrogative prefix with an extended form before consonants.

Conditional - When this, then that. Condition + "Shem" + result. For example, "Whenever he comes home I see him"--Nas fo shem dho sam." If the conditional and hypothetical are both used the meaning becomes "if this, then that." For example, "If he comes home I will see him"-- "Kwen nas fo shem dho sam."

Emphatic - "Pip" + tense + verb. (Possibly a reduplicated "opi.")

Tense Emphatic - Reduplicated tense. For example, "Anan"--"In the present, not otherwise."

Many nouns are formed from verbs. They may be formed by several methods:
1. Resultant nouns (nouns that arise as a result of an action) may be formed by adding "po-" as a prefix.
2. Objective nouns (nouns upon which an action is performed) may be formed by adding "na-" as a prefix.
3. Gerundal nouns are formed by preceding a verb stem with "e(d)".
4. Agental nouns are formed by adding -(o)th(o) as a suffix.
5. Most nouns, however, are formed by moving to the "high" end of the consonant series to which the beginning sound of the verb belongs. Nouns that we would translate as having a "-ness" at their ends are formed by moving to the top of the consonant series.

There are no genders or cases. However, living beings are considered to have a gender for purposes of replacement by pronouns. The female form is standard except for animals with horns, antlers, or tusks, and certain plants. Case is indicated by sentence order and by prepositions. Genitive case is formed by putting the possessor in front of the possessed, with "rhai" ("to have") between them, if the possessed is adherent, and "sy" ("is") if it is inherent. Thus "wiro rhai hekwo," "the man's horse," but "wiro sy rymo," "the man's arm."

Plurals of nouns are formed by following the noun with "vy." This a separate word, not an inflection, and as a result it does not affect the accent pattern of the original word. Plurals are not necessary when a modifier is used that indicates plurality. Thus "widha" ("the tree"), "widha vy" ("the trees), "widha ter" ("three trees"). This applies to numbers and to other modifiers such as "misa" ("most"), "megha" ("many"), "kokom" ("all"), etc.

Another particle, "sha," is used to imply great multiplicity. In this sense it means "as many as possible, under the circumstances." It may be used, for instance, in addressing a group: "wiro sha, opi kwa sam" means "all of you men, come with me." It is used as well in non-specific contexts to mean "all that is at all possible." For instance, "sy gweter Hyhavertor swa": "There are four (and only four) High Priests." Note that in this case "four," ordinarily "kweter," is being treated as the subject of the sentence, and thus becomes a noun, "gweter." Even if the accompanying number is used as a modifier, "sha," unlike "vy," may still be used.

An interesting use of this is found in the Book of Hymns, where "zy sha" is used to mean "the Universe;" that is, "all that is (and can be)." A parallel construction is "thotho sha," "all that is done (and can be done)." A combination of these, "zy kwe thotho sha," means "absolutely everything."

Nouns can have tenses. For instance, "py mynati zhe domo fo" means "he thought about a house," but "mynati zhe py domo fo" means "he thinks about a house which no longer exists."

I -> Sam
You (s.) -> Wo
He -> Fo
She -> Soth
It, One -> Van
We inclusive -> Wa
We exclusive -> Na
We double -> Dwa
You plural -> Wy
You double -> Tywy
They (m.) -> Fa
They (f.) -> Sath
They (n.) -> Va

The possessive is formed as if they were ordinary nouns.

No reflexive form is used unless needed for emphasis.It is formed by intensifying the pronoun (Sysam, Wywo, etc.).

The referential pronoun
This is the term used in Kwendyngu for the word "dad", best translated in English as "each other." For instance, "They saw each other"--"Wes dhoh dad foma dad."

Modifiers follow the thing modified. There is no distinction between adjectives and adverbs; adjectives are modifiers which follow nouns and abverbs are modifiers which follow verbs.

If a modifier is preceded by "sy" that indicates that a specifically inherant quality is being described. A specifically adherent quality can be preceded by "nas." Neither of these is very common except in philosophical discussions.

Verbs become object modifiers merely by following a noun and operative adjectives by being preceded by "en." Nouns become modifiers by changing the initial consonant to an unvoiced or fricative form. Verbs may also be changed to modifiers by going through the noun phase first, of course.

The comparative is formed by adding the particle "vy" (the same as the plural marker for nouns) after the modifier.

Superlatives are formed by adding the particle "sha" (the same as the multiple marker for nouns) after the modifier.

Modifers may have tenses. For instance, ‘py mynati zhe domo raudho fo" means "he thought about a red house," but "mynati zhe domo py raudho fo" means "he thinks about a house which is no longer red."

A "ne" at the beginning of the sentence modifies everything in the sentence. If a single element is negated but the sentence as a whole is positive, "ne" is used as a modifier. Compare "ne rhai neleg sam," "I don't have milk" with "rhai neleg ne sam," "I have no milk." In the first sentence the emphasis is on the lacking, while in the second it is on the thing which is lacked. Both may be used at the same time to emphasize the negating; "ne rhai neleg ne sam," "I don't have no milk," is perfectly grammatically in Kwendyngu, and means, "I am not in possession of particularly milk."

There are no articles.

And -> Adh.

And -> Kwe. This is used between nouns in a list, and "adh" is used to link other types of words, or phrases. For instance, "Py somen adh wev fo" -- "he sang and danced," but "Py sy somentho kwe wevtho fo" -- he was a singer and a dancer."

Or -> Ol.

And/or -> Dor.

Either/or -> Used when it is wanted to emphasize alternatives. Examples: "Either he or she did it."--Wes je ho lol fom lol when. " "Either he did it or she did it."--"Wes je ho lol fom ho lol when ho."

Numbers are treated as modifiers, following the thing modified. They may also be used as nouns. If they modify a noun no plural is needed on the noun.

Cardinals: .............................. Ordinals:
1 - Sem ................................... Semto, Pair
2 - Dwo ................................... Dwo
3 - Ter ..................................... Terto
4 - Kweter .............................. Kweto
5 - Penek ................................ Penko
6 - Swek ................................. Sweto
7 - Septem ............................. Septo
8 - Keto ................................... Keto
9 - Newem ............................. Newemo
10 - Dekem ............................ Dekemo
11 - Deksem .......................... Deksemto
12 - Dekdwo
13 - Dekter
20 - Dwotem (or Wikimti) .... Dwotemto (or Wikimto)
21 - Dwotemsem
30 - Tertem
40 - Kwetem
50 - Penetem
60 - Swetem
70 - Sepetem
80 - Ketotem
90 - Newetem
100 - Deketom
1000 - Ghesel

Dozen: Zherk (actually 13, rather than 12)

Question Words
Who -> Kwo
What ->Kwe
Why (purposal) -> Kwess
Why (causal) -> Kwer
When -> Kwad
Which -> Kwoko