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Post by OTʜᴇB » 15 Jul 2018 19:32

I haven't touched the CBB in too long (I've been somewhat less dead on the Discord server though).

I'm working on a DnD campaign that I'll be going through with a group of friends, so there'll likely be a corresponding thread in the world-building side where I go through that side of this all at some point.

vodlem is the name of the language that is spoken in my DnD world. The name stems from vod and lem, meaning World Language, and is the only language in the region (it's not a large place).

All the people in this DnD world will speak this language, and the aim of it is to add an extra layer of challenge to the campaign where the players will need to gradually pick up the language to be able to understand things. To avoid frustration, I'm trying to make the language on the simple side for a native English speaker. It's a mixture of isolating and agglutinating, and my original goal was "you could write out the grammar on 2 sides of A4". That seems to have already been failed as I'm sat here with my 13 sides of A5, but I'm still trying to keep it on the simple side and that seems to be going ok. The isolating nature of it means that vocab will be much easier for the players to learn as there won't be different forms of any given words, but a lot of grammatical words are made by combining lots of components into one word with plenty of meaning.

In terms of formatting, I'll put all the info here, then use replies for discussing ideas or suggestions/opinions.

So, this is vodlem:

Phonology, Romanisation, Writing system

Code: Select all

/ p b t d k ɡ / < p b t d k g  >
/  m   n   ŋ  / <  m   n   ng  >
/     ɾ l j ʀ / <     r l j rh >
/  v   ʒ   x  / <  v   gh  x   >

/ a ɑ ɛ ɪ ɔ ʊ / < a aa e i o u >
For the writing system, I decided to go with an alphabet as it would be familiar to to the players. I don't have a good image/diagram for it yet, but I'll add one here as soon as I have one.

There is a CVC syllable structure. r and j are not allowed at the end of syllables.
Base grammar
I decided to go with an OSV word order not just because it's the best order, but because it's different enough from English to pose a challenge without requiring excessive re-ordering (it's just putting the object at the start a la Yoda). Adjectives/adverbs are placed after the noun/verb they describe in no particular order.

An article/plural marker come before the noun, followed by adjectives. If there is more than one noun to be in one part of a sentence then they may be added. At the end of the noun phrase is placed a case marker of either AG (agent) or PA (patient). vodlem has an active morphosyntactic alignment, which is now my favourite. The Subject of a transitive verb gets the AG case and the Object of a transitive verb gets the PA. With an intransitive verb, the case depends on the verb. An intransitive verb that is not done to the subject gets the AG, where one that is done to the subject gets the PA. An example would be "he ate" vs "him tripped". A basic example sentence:

lemle e en paa en ax pa lemle
/lɛm.lɛ ɛ ɛn pɑ ɛn ax pa lɛm.lɛ/
book POS 1SG PA 1SG AG PST read
book of me I read
I read my book.

Note: "read" is past tense.
Negative, Tense, Aspect, Mood
All 4 of these are combined into a single particle that sits just before the verb. These are the base components:

  • Affirmative AFF "did" --- -
  • Negative NEG "didn't" --- nu
  • Multiple Negative MNEG "never did" --- nurh
  • Past PST "did" --- pa
  • Present PRE "do" --- (a)
  • Future FUT "will do" --- ve
  • Simple/Habitual SIM/HAB "do" --- -
  • Progressive PROG "doing" --- ro
  • Inceptive INCEP "start doing" --- ixo
  • Continuative CONT "still doing" --- aavi
  • Terminative TERM "finish doing" -- oghi
  • Realis REAL "do" --- -
  • Conditional COND "would do" --- lu
  • Imperative IMP "must do" --- mu
  • Potential POT "might do" --- mit
  • Hypothetical HYP "nearly did" --- naa (only allowed past tense; can't be used with MNEG)
These are then combined with relatively simple rules. When adding one to the end that starts with a vowel, remove a vowel from the end of the existing word if there is one. For example, ve+ro=vero whereas ve+oghi=voghi. PRE is only "a" if the particle is AFF.PRE.SIM.REAL i.e. there's nothing else to put in the word - otherwise, it's treated like all the other "-" parts.
As said before, vodlem uses active morphosyntactic alignment, so the case used on the subject of an intransitive verb depends on the verb itself. The AG particle is ax where the PA particle is paa. These are placed at the end of the noun phrase for each component of the clause, so for instance:
*en ax i ang ax a lemle
is not valid as while there are 2 nouns being the subject, the AG particle should only be applied once:
en i ang ax a lemle
1SG and 2SG AG PRE read
I and you read

There are other cases too that are done differently. The LOC (locative) case is done by suffixing "ixo [noun]" after a clause, where the noun is the location at/in which the event occurred. Motion-based cases are done in exactly the same way:
Initiative INITI "starting at/from" --- ixo
Terminative TERMI "ending at" --- oghi
Prolative PROS "via" --- aavi
Notice the similarity to the Aspect markers.

Motion and position in time is done using exactly the same cases as for motion and position in space.

Ownership and relation are done in the same way. The subject noun sits before the particle "e" and the thing being related to sits afterwards. For instance, lemle e en literally translates to "book of me", but would be understood as "my book". Conversely, lemle e od aaklem would be "book of spells" and be "a spell book". I can then go a step further and say lemle e od aaklem e en which would literally mean "book of spells of me" and be understood as "my spell book".

Note: because of setting, a "spell book" will likely have it's own word rather than needing a whole grammatical construction, but I'm pulling examples from the existing lexicon that's 14 words strong as of writing this.

The other thing that can sit between two nouns like this is i meaning "and".
Connecting clauses
There are 7 words that can be used to connect clauses, and the construction is as simple as putting the word in the middle. The options are:
  • and --- i
  • before/then --- pa
  • after --- ve
  • but --- be
  • instead of --- nu
  • because --- lu
  • if --- vo
Notice the similarity to other grammatical particles.

Now, using those rules alone, you might come up with a construction like this:

lemle e od aaklem paa en ax pa lemle pa en ax pa aaklem
/lɛm.lɛ ɛ ɔd ɑk.lɛm pɑ ɛn ax pa lɛm.lɛ pa ɑk.lɛm pɑ ɛn ax pa ɑk.lɛm/
book of PL spell PA 1SG AG PST read then 1SG AG PST cast
book of spells I read then I cast
I read my spell book then I cast a spell

This can be made a little smaller given the rule that if the subject is omitted from the second clause, it is assumed that it is the same as in the first. This shortens our sentence to lemle e od aaklem paa en ax pa lemle pa pa aaklem.
Article, Plural
The article and plural marker sits in front of a noun. If it is an indefinite singular then the particle is nothing and isn't added, otherwise, the two components are combined in exactly the same way as the negative/tense/aspect/mood particle.

  • Definite DEF "the" --- de
  • Indefinite INDF "a" --- -
  • Near deixis PROX.DEI --- vi
  • Far deixis DIST.DEI --- ka
  • Singular SG "one" --- -
  • Plural PL "multiple" --- od
  • All UNI "all/every" --- ghod
  • Most UNI.DIM "most" --- odo
  • Some/few PL.DIM "some/a few" --- inod
  • No/none NEG "no/none" --- nod
Some examples:
All the = de+ghod = deghod
Those = ka+od = kod
None of these = vi+nod = vinod
Pronouns are nice and simple:
  • I 1SG --- en
  • Exclusive we 1PL.EX --- enod
  • Inclusive we 1PL.INC --- enodang
  • You 2SG --- ang
  • You (lot) 2PL --- angod
  • He/she/it 3SG --- om
  • Them 3PL --- omod
Questions come in 2 forms. The first involves substituting in unknowns and suffixing ke onto the end of a clause, the second involves using different words in place of ke.

For the first kind, the following words are used:
  • Person "who?" --- vun
  • Object "what [thing]?" --- vat
  • Action "what [was done]?" --- vel
  • Description "what [is it like]?" --- vim
  • Quantity "how many/much?" --- vut
As many of these can be subbed in as wished, and an answer would simply be the same sentence but with the unknowns filled in.

The second kind of question asks about an entire clause. There are 4 options:
  • Method "how [was this done]?" --- vaang
  • Reason "why [was this done]?" --- ven
  • Time/Location "where/when [was this done]?" --- vaad
In the DnD world, there are 7 main dungeons placed at equal intervals around the circular perimeter of the region. As a result, the inhabitants have developed a symbolic (if inconvenient) septal counting system. As it is just a very basic civilisation with no need for complex mathematics, negative numbers aren't needed and neither are fractions. The numbers 0 to 10 are as follows:
nu, ra, jon, kan, to, van, go, ranu
Numbers greater than 6 just string digits together. If there are lots of trailing 0s, then a quantative form can be used, so 300000 wouldn't be kanunununununu but instead kanu vangho.
To get the ordinal form of a number (first, second, third...), just suffix it with xa e.g. kanxa meaning "third". Repetivite forms (once, twice, thrice...) are done by suffixing gho on the end - hence the vangho in the example above.

Arithmetic is vocalised with simple words. Addition is done with i, subtraction with ni, multiplication with od, and division with nod. Order of operations is the same as here, so:
ranu kangho ni tonu nod jon, nod ranu ni kanvan is (1000-40/2)/10-35, which to decimal is (343-14)/7-26 = 329/7-26 = 47-26 = 21 which is kanu!

I also have a numeral system which I will add here when I get a good diagram of it.
That's all of it so far. On the todo list are times and dates, weights and measures, and more vocab.

I want to hear every thought you have on this. I don't care if you just think it's terrible (though I'd at least like a reason or two why) or if you think it's the best thing ever (I can only dream), but I want to make this a nice little language, but most importantly, keep it on the simple side. Thanks for reading!

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eldin raigmore
Posts: 6399
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 19:38
Location: SouthEast Michigan

Re: vodlem

Post by eldin raigmore » 16 Jul 2018 07:05

Well, I, for one, am kinda impressed!

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Joined: 14 May 2016 11:59

Re: vodlem

Post by OTʜᴇB » 16 Jul 2018 20:55

Thanks! I've been doing a bit on the world more recently, so I think this evening's plan is to start up that thread, then I'll come back to here with some diagrams and some new words. I'll be able to start translation challenges in no time! I'm actually pretty excited as I haven't really been able to participate in any of that stuff before, which can be a bit of a meh feeling.

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