The Kuvian Language

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Axiem
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The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 04:41

The Kuvian language is spoken by the citizens of Kuvia, in the world of Mto—the thread for the world itself is here.

The Kuvian language is heavily standardized by the Ministry of Language, and the standardization is brutally enforced across all publishing in the nation. This has led to a not-always-organic feel to things, though the law-abiding citizens of Kuvia have quietly acquiesced to changes over the centuries. Besides, all of the old books we have are written in modern Kuvian; it hasn't changed at all ever, right?

As a caveat, my primary source for this is a Markdown document, which doesn't always end up translating well into BBCode. My apologies. At some point, when I feel like my Mto site is not utterly crappy, I'll link to the actual HTML pages for things.

Anyways, let's start with phonology:

/m n (ŋ)/ m n (ng)
/p b t d k g/ p b t d k g
/d͡ʒ/ j
/f v s z x ɣ h/ f v s z kh gh h
/ɹ j/ r y
/l/ l

/i u/ i u
/e~ɛ (ə) o/ e (e,a) o
/æ ɑ/ ä a

/iɛ iu io iə ea/ ie iu io ia ea

As a meta note, because this language ultimately is shown through names of people and places, I did aim for it being such that readers could get reasonably close without having to pay too close of attention to a "how to pronounce Kuvian" page.
Last edited by Axiem on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 15:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 04:59

I skipped phonotactics when I posted phonology. That's because I'm really bad at figuring it out. Syllables are usually (C)(C)V(C) I think. It'll come out with vocabulary.

Speaking of which, now let's talk about nouns.

Kuvian is (I hope) a highly inflected fusional language. That means, for instance, that nouns decline.

There are 3 grammatical genders: -et class, -a class, and -n class. This is based on the ending of the noun.

There are 3 grammatical animacy grades:
  • Animate: This is used for humans.
  • Subanimate: This is used for animals and slaves.
  • Inanimate: This is used for inanimate things.
Nouns decline against 7 cases:
  • Absolutive - Subject of inanimate verbs. Dictionary form, also the vocative.
  • Agentive - Subject of transitive verbs.
  • Patientive - Object of transitive verbs.
  • Lative - Indirect object of transitive verbs.
  • Genitive - Possession
  • Partitive - Indicates partialness, and used for indicating number/amount
  • Instrumental - Indicates noun by which a verb happens
With that, I can spam charts! Please forgive the open/closing of o tags; I use them in my source document to use CSS to render Kuvian text appropriately.

et-class nouns (sample word <khret>, "book")

Code: Select all

|              | Animate        | Subanimate     | Inanimate      |
| :----------- | :------------: | :------------: | :------------: |
| Absolutive   | <o>khret</o>   | <o>khreleg</o> | <o>khro</o>    |
| Agentive     | <o>khretes</o> | <o>khrit</o>   | <o>khrit</o>   |
| Patientive   | <o>khraz</o>   | <o>khraz</o>   | <o>khrev</o>   |
| Lative       | <o>khretel</o> | <o>khrel</o>   | <o>khral</o>   |
| Genitive     | <o>khretre</o> | <o>khret</o>   | <o>khrer</o>   |
| Partitive    | <o>khros</o>   | <o>khros</o>   | <o>khros</o>   |
| Instrumental | <o>khresej</o> | <o>khres</o>   | <o>khresem</o> |
a-class nouns (sample word <mora>, "tradition")

Code: Select all

|              | Animate        | Subanimate     | Inanimate      |
| :----------- | :------------: | :------------: | :------------: |
| Absolutive   | <o>mora</o>    | <o>moreg</o>   | <o>moro</o>    |
| Agentive     | <o>moras</o>   | <o>moreg</o>   | <o>morek</o>   |
| Patientive   | <o>morat</o>   | <o>moranet</o> | <o>moren</o>   |
| Lative       | <o>morun</o>   | <o>morul</o>   | <o>moralem</o> |
| Genitive     | <o>morost</o>  | <o>morod</o>   | <o>morupa</o>  |
| Partitive    | <o>morules</o> | <o>mored</o>   | <o>morupa</o>  |
| Instrumental | <o>morebaj</o> | <o>moraj</o>   | <o>moraj</o>   |
n-class nouns (sample word <ghin>, "knife")

Code: Select all

|              | Animate        | Subanimate     | Inanimate      |
| :----------- | :------------: | :------------: | :------------: |
| Absolutive   | <o>ghin</o>    | <o>ghineg</o>  | <o>ghil</o>    |
| Agentive     | <o>ghins</o>   | <o>ghilest</o> | <o>ghilest</o> |
| Patientive   | <o>ghinez</o>  | <o>ghilez</o>  | <o>ghilez</o>  |
| Lative       | <o>ghintal</o> | <o>ghinul</o>  | <o>ghinul</o>  |
| Genitive     | <o>ghinte</o>  | <o>ghibre</o>  | <o>ghilte</o>  |
| Partitive    | <o>ghis</o>    | <o>ghispa</o>  | <o>ghispa</o>  |
| Instrumental | <o>ghirej</o>  | <o>ghiem</o>   | <o>ghiem</o>   |
Finally, number and definiteness are indicated with an article before the noun:

Code: Select all

|            | Singular  | Plural     |
| :--------- | :-------: | :--------: |
| Definite   | <o>ta</o> | <o>tel</o> |
| Indefinite | <o></o>   | <o>sel</o> |
E.g. <ta storel>: "the table"
Conworld: Mto
:con: : Kuvian
Axiem
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 05:03

There's a lot I'm still figuring out, both about Kuvian and how to make a good conlang. And also how to present a language, especially in a forum such as this. Questions/feedback/criticism is very welcome; I want to get better at this.

(This is why I picked Kuvian for the first language of Mto to really delve into, because it's not my darling language/culture of the world, because I know I won't do it as well)
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Ebon » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 09:42

Axiem wrote: /b p t d k g/ p b t d k g
This looks like a typo, did you mean to switch b and p around in the orthography?

As for tables, if you have them rendered properly, why not just take a screenshot? I'm on mobile and they look weirdly squished together, making them awkward to read.

What do you use, say, animate declensions for words that are inanimate for? (Or are they just in the table for demonstration purposes?)

Do your grammatical genders influence anything beyond the declension patterns?
I like your declension patterns, by the way.
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Lao Kou » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 11:42

Axiem wrote:I want to get better at this.
Appreciable.
(Kuvian ... because it's not my darling language/culture of the world, because I know I won't do it as well)
I appreciate the role of a sketchlang and what it can do, but I personally find it difficult to enthuse about a lang which could vanish in a nonce. I enjoy what I've seen, but if it's not your darling language...
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Frislander » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 12:49

You don't need those <o> tags: you can get rid of them.
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 15:18

Ebon wrote:
Axiem wrote: /b p t d k g/ p b t d k g
This looks like a typo, did you mean to switch b and p around in the orthography?
Yeah, it's a typo :( I'll fix it.
As for tables, if you have them rendered properly, why not just take a screenshot?
Because then you'll see the stand-in font choices I'm using until I decide what I really want :P

The main problem with screenshots is that they're harder to copy-paste from, though I don't know if that's a high concern. I'll see what I can do about getting screenshots.
What do you use, say, animate declensions for words that are inanimate for? (Or are they just in the table for demonstration purposes?)
In general, you wouldn't (unless you were very intentionally wanting to suggest that say, a book suddenly gained human intelligence). However, since there are animate, subanimate, and inanimate things in each noun class, it makes sense to just put it all in one table. Also, some nouns that we would consider inanimate are often declined in an animate fashion; the best example is <kut>, which is an irregular et-class noun: it means "Law", and is always animate.

Names, also, fall into one of the three classes. So if you were referring to a fellow human as a peer, you would decline it as animate; if as a slave (or if being insulting by referring to them as a slave/animal), you would use subanimate; and if as a corpse, you would use inanimate.

Ultimately, it makes the most sense to put it all in one table. Once I expand the vocabulary more, I'll probably swap out the example word with one that makes more sense in all three animacies.
Do your grammatical genders influence anything beyond the declension patterns?
The declension of attached adjectives and pronoun choice, but otherwise, I don't think there's any. There's a lot I've yet to figure out, though, so don't quote me on that! :D
I like your declension patterns, by the way.
Thank you! :)
Lao Kou wrote:I appreciate the role of a sketchlang and what it can do, but I personally find it difficult to enthuse about a lang which could vanish in a nonce. I enjoy what I've seen, but if it's not your darling language...
I think this is a mischaracterization. Mto is the world I'm throwing my creative momentum behind, and Kuvian is a language of Mto, and the novel I'm working on is set in Kuvia (and therefore ostensibly, all the characters' dialogue is in Kuvian). It's not going to vanish or anything, and I do intend on fleshing it out a fair amount.

There's a passage in either the LCK or ALCK where zompist laments having worked on Verdurian first, because he thought his other languages were much better, but Verdurian is the culture/language he likes the most. I'm trying to avoid that, by working at some of the other languages that populate the world while I cut my teeth at doing this well. That's not to say I have no passion for Kuvian; on the contrary, I have a lot of passion for it. And Situnyan. And Nairun. And Entleisian. And the other unnamed languages I've thought about. It's just not the language for the culture I've been poking at for a decade, and that helped bring this world alive for me. But now that I'm sitting in Kuvia, I'm enjoying it, and am enjoying building up the language.
Frislander wrote:You don't need those <o> tags: you can get rid of them.
For the HTML I have rendered from my markdown documents, I have CSS to render it differently, to separate out Kuvian from the body text visually, which is why I have <o> tags.

(Though, thinking about it, I can't imagine having a table that doesn't have Kuvian as its main body, so I can probably do some fancy CSS to make tables look right without marking every cell as Kuvian)
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Frislander » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 17:55

Axiem wrote:
Frislander wrote:You don't need those <o> tags: you can get rid of them.
For the HTML I have rendered from my markdown documents, I have CSS to render it differently, to separate out Kuvian from the body text visually, which is why I have <o> tags.

(Though, thinking about it, I can't imagine having a table that doesn't have Kuvian as its main body, so I can probably do some fancy CSS to make tables look right without marking every cell as Kuvian)
I mean in the tables here on the forum.
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 17:57

Frislander wrote: I mean in the tables here on the forum.
I'm copy-pasting out of my markdown document—which is why I say I can probably just tinker with the CSS so I can kill the tags entirely out of the Markdown document, instead of having to manually go in and hit the Delete key a bunch of times and then get all the table lines to line up again every time I want to post a table on here :)

Really, though, if people actually prefer images because they're better on mobile et c., I'll just go that way.
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Lao Kou » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 18:46

Axiem wrote:
Lao Kou wrote:I appreciate the role of a sketchlang and what it can do, but I personally find it difficult to enthuse about a lang which could vanish in a nonce. I enjoy what I've seen, but if it's not your darling language...
I think this is a mischaracterization. Mto is the world I'm throwing my creative momentum behind, and Kuvian is a language of Mto, and the novel I'm working on is set in Kuvia (and therefore ostensibly, all the characters' dialogue is in Kuvian). It's not going to vanish or anything, and I do intend on fleshing it out a fair amount.
Apologies for the mischaracterization. I will keep watching.
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Wed 05 Oct 2016, 02:29

I've been cleaning up my tables in the markdown, now that I've done some fancy CSS. I'm posting a cleaned-up version here to see how it looks. Those that had issues with the tables before on a mobile phone, does this look better, or still weird?

Code: Select all

|              | Animate | Subanimate | Inanimate |
| :----------- | :-----: | :--------: | :-------: |
| Absolutive   | khret   | khreleg    | khro      |
| Agentive     | khretes | khrit      | khrit     |
| Patientive   | khraz   | khraz      | khrev     |
| Lative       | khretel | khrel      | khral     |
| Genitive     | khretre | khret      | khrer     |
| Partitive    | khros   | khros      | khros     |
| Instrumental | khresej | khres      | khresem   |
I'm also going to look into doing images, just copy-pasting from TextMate is a lot easier ;)

Hopefully I'll be able to post what I have on verbs later tonight!
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Ebon » Wed 05 Oct 2016, 16:05

The one you just posted looks like this to me on mobile:
Spoiler:
Image
Awkward, but readable.
The ones above with the <o> tags either look squished like above, or they do this:
Spoiler:
Image
Which makes understanding them a little tricky. :mrgreen:
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Re: The Kuvian Language

Post by Axiem » Wed 05 Oct 2016, 16:10

Yeah, looks like I need to go to images, then.
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