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What is Hlasturs?

A little over a year ago, I got my first client through the LCS Jobs Board –provided by the Language Creation Society to link conlangers and creative people looking for conlangs in their projects.

I won't say more about the exact nature of the project, or the internal lore thereof, but I will exemplify the language and its alphabet to help you understand what exactly does "ordering a conlang for a project" means.

Text

Trý sáþi fill sáþí rilppí­sog zor­ka grí besk bý ? Þærd urt arþ ritt, karþs­va træ dod frú­zeþ gvaks­jækk. Ged galþ óbauk !

Hlasturs text in the Kalgl script

Listen!

"Did the black bear and the white bear depart for the western mountains? I want to speak with them, because the've eaten far too much of my cows. Now my cows are no good!"

Analysis

Trý is the long stem of tur "black". Grammatically, it's a verb; the long stem is used, among other things, in relative clauses like here : "the (being) black bear".

Sáþi is the word for "bear". There are no definite or indefinite articles.

Fill is the long stem of fill "white". Why are they identical? Lengthening a stem implies vocalic changes which are here blocked by the final doubled consonant.

Sáþí is "bear" again, this time with a suffixed conjunction -i "and" modifying a final vowel. This suffix has a distinct form in the native script, as if we'd written .

Rilppísog translates to "western", but is actually the genitive of rilppís "West", literally : "of the West".

Zorka is the plural form of zor "montagne". Several plural suffixes are in variation following the semantics of the noun; -ka is for inanimate nouns, but I think now that it would have been more appropriate tu use -lib, the suffix for inanimates habitually encountered in big numbers (such as mountains); alas, I already sent the complete dictionary to my client, no second thoughts possible.

Grí is a postposition meaning "towards". Postpositions are the same lexical class as prepositions, but placed after a word rather than before, as the name shows.

Besk is the synthetic past tense of bes "to go". The past tense should be obtained analytically through the use of an auxiliary, but some high-frequency verbs kept a simpler form, in poetry or in archaic language.

literally means "what?"; at the end of a sentence it is a question particle.

Þærd is the subject pronoun "I". I can't say more about it without going on a tangent --an entire post really-- about personal pronouns, their forms and uses...

Urt is the short stem of "to talk" ; long stem is rýt. Short stem is used here because it's what the following auxiliary asks.

Arþ is the object form of the third person plural pronoun karþ "they". Only third and fourth (more on that below) person singular pronouns have a specifically oblique ("to him, to her") form, that would have been used here.

Ritt is the short stem of "to want". Do note the placement of the object pronoun, between "want" and "to talk"; placing it after ritt would trigger an interpretation of the latter as a future auxiliary verb. Without an object pronoun, this sentence would have been ambiguous as to whether "I want to talk" or "I will talk" is meant.

Karþsva is the pronoun karþ with a conjunction -sva "because". When two sentences are linked, suffixed conjunctions go onto the first word of the second sentence (more exactly onto the last word of the first phrase, which may be a lone noun, or a noun qualified with an adjective, a genitive, etc.)

Træ is the determiner "several, many".

Dod can be translated by "my", and comprises a semantically hollow determiner do and the suffixed form of the first person singular -d. In the native script, this word has its own glyph.

Frúzeþ is the plural form of frúz "cow". The suffix -(e)þ applies only to animates.

Gvaksjækk comprises a preverb gvag- meaning "to exagerate", and sjækk which is another irregular past (for sepp "to eat"). This stem modification finds its source in an older stage of the language in-universe, where *sepki evolved regularly into *sekki > *sekk > sjækk.

Ged is the adverb "now". Normally, adverbs go after the subject, however here its initial position makes it the topic, the pivotal element in the sentence helping contrast the former situation with the current situation.

Galþ is the subject form of the fourth person plural... what is exactly a fourth person, grammatically ? When the discourse already has a third person referent like here karþ designating the two bears, a new refernt can be introduced with a fourth person pronoun; galþ has frúzeþ "cows", the object of the previous verb, as an antecedent.

Óbauk is a verb/adjective bauk "good, to feel good" with a negative prefix ó-. It is short-stemmed, a form used alone only with imperatives, conditionals and, like here, statives; a dynamic verb like sepp "to eat" needs to be long-stemmed (síp) to express present tense.

Aesthetic goals

I was asked to let the language sound and read like Old Norse and Slavic languages. The result seems to me to resemble the former more; another pecularity suggested by my client is the absence of nasal consonants (m n), explained in-universe with the desire to sound the least possible like another, despised people, who uses nasals a lot in its language (appropriately named Mymlurs).

The Hlasturs writing system, kalgl, is an alphabet, written top-to-bottom and right-to-left. It lacks some distinctions like long vowels (á é í ó ú ý) versus short vowels (a e i o u y), and a few words or morphemes have a logographic representation, like -i and dod.

Conclusion

The only things I was directed for were the sound and the written aspect of the language. No pressure regarding the grammar. So, I could have conjugated verbs regularly (a past suffix, a future suffix), use gender rather than obviation, use a subject-verb-object order, use but one plural affix... would readers or watchers have noticed any difference? Probably not; only language enthusiasts. But I am one of those and that's why I wanted a depth to this conlang: between Dovahzul from the videogame Skyrim, a superficial cipher of English (verbal bases can be used as nouns as is, the genitive is obtained with a preposition or a suffix, the infinitive is formed with a preposition), and Tsolyáni from the tabletop RPG Empire of the Petale Throne, which distinguishes six "I" according to social ranking, general attitude prefixes on nouns and no distinction between cardinal ("two") and ordinal ("second") numerals... I'd rather talk about the latter to the general public, even if it is more likely to have heard of the former.

1 thought on “Qu’est-ce que le hlasturs ?

  1. SyS

    Bon­jour Alexis,

    Je trouve que cette phrase enre­gis­trée nous en dit bien plus long à nous, néo­phytes, sur la com­plexi­té des langues que tu crées.
    Bra­vo pour ton tra­vail, remar­quable, et à bien­tôt pour d’autres décou­vertes sonores, je l’espère !

    Reply

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