Gorbesh Grammar (book)

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by Casimont Nalbiro


Gorbesh, an important language in the cultures of four races, is long overdue for a systematic description of its grammar. These notes describe the two main streams of Gorbesh today, as used by the Gorbesh, the Kaldar, the Gnomes, and the Nirejis.

The first is Current Gorbesh, the native language of the Gorbesh themselves and of the educated classes of the other three races, especially in formal and ceremonial uses. The official name for the dialect is "Imperial Gorbesh", but other races often call it "hard Gorbesh". The other dialect is Gnomish (or more properly, Gnomish Gorbesh), the form in everyday use among the Gnomes, the Nirejis, and many Kaldar.

The Gorbesh (and even some Gnomes and Kaldar) regard the Gnomish dialect as corrupt and its use as a sign of illiteracy but it is nevertheless in wide use, and most Gnomes pay no heed to disparaging comments about their speech. As a Gnomish saying puts it, "Liduas ose toful bat luen ose ket": Life is short, and so am I.


  Pronouncing Gorbesh .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   3


  2.1 Verbs  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   5
      2.1.1 Person and Number  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   5
      2.1.2 Tense  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   6
      2.1.3 Forms derived from verbs .  .  .  .  .   7
  2.2 Adjectives and Adverbs   .  .  .  .  .  .  .   9
  2.3 Quantifiers  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  10
  2.4 Nouns  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  11
  2.5 Pronouns  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  12
      2.5.1 Personal Pronouns  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  12
      2.5.2 Relative and Interrogative Pronouns  .  13
      2.5.3 Demonstrative Pronouns   .  .  .  .  .  13
  2.6 Conjunctions  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 13
  2.7 Prepositions  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 14


  3.1 Phrase Order  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 15
  3.2 Clause Order  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 16
  3.3 Negatives and Imperatives .  .  .  .  .  .  . 16


1.1 Single vowel letters and the sounds they represent.

     a  -like-  In stressed syllables: a in "cat";
              in unstressed syllables: a in "alive" or "cola".
     e  -like-  e in "met", "den", "bell".
     i  -like-  In stressed syllables: ee in "meet" or "seen";
              in unstressed syllables: i in "mitt" or "bin".
     o  -like-  o in "note" or oa in "boat".
     u  -like-  In stressed syllables: oo in "moon" or "hoop";
              in unstressed syllables: oo in "hood" or "good".

1.2 Letters that have the same use in Gorbesh and Common:

     b, d, f, h, l, m, n, p, r, t, v, w, z.

1.3 Other single-letters representing consonant sounds:

     g  -like-  g in get" or "tag".  Always "hard".
     j  -like-  j in "jab" or "eject".
     k  -like-  k in "kite" or "tack".
     s  -like-  By itself, like s in "save" or c in "rice",
                never the z sound, as in "rise".
     y  -like-  y in "yell" or "yak", never the vowel sound as
                in "my".

1.4 Letter combinations and the sounds they represent:

     ai  -like-  i in "hide" or "fine".
     au  -like-  ow in "how" or "town".  (continued)
     ch  -like-  ch in "choose" or -tch in "catch".
     sh  -like-  sh in "shirt" or "rash".

1.5 Stress placement:

 Two-syllable words put the stress on the first syllable and
 three-syllable words on the middle syllable.  Words of more
 than three are stressed on the next-to-last syllable.

     ukula 'alone': u-KU-la    zuwarek 'nowhere': zu-WA-rek
     sero 'head': SE-ro        aramosa 'rich': a-ra-MO-sa


2.1 Verbs 2.1.1 Person and Number

 The form of a verb is determined by the person and number of
 its subject.  A suffix for person and number is added to the
 root of the verb (the verb without the -e infinitive ending).
 The suffixes: First Person   Singular: (none)  Plural: -er
               Second Person  Singular: -et     Plural: -ert
               Third Person   Singular: -en     Plural: -ent
      Ubave: "to keep"                  Ose: "be"
 "I keep"        ket ubav         "I am"        ket os
 "thou keepest"  epet ubavet      "thou art"    epet oset
 "he keeps"      von ubaven       "she is"      vel osen
 "we keep"       kert ubaver      "we are"      kert oser
 "you keep"      epert ubavert    "you are"     epert osert
 "they keep"     vonert ubavent   "they are"    vonert osent

 NOTE: Gnomish uses the first-person singular and plural forms
 for all persons.  Examples:
   Singular: ket/epet/von/vel/an ubav   ket/epet/von/vel/an os
   Plural:   kert/epert/vonert ubaver   kert/epert/vonert oser

2.1.2 Tense

 Gorbesh distinguishes three tenses, present, past, and future.
 The past tense is formed by adding e- to the verb (or el- if
 the verb begins with a vowel):

      Faze: "to get"                  Ose: "to be"
   "I got" - ket efaz             "I was" - ket elos
   "thou got'st" - epet efazet    "thou wert" - epet eloset
   "he, etc. got" - von efazen    "she, etc. was" - vel elosen
   "we got" - kert efazer         "we were" - kert eloser
   "you got" - epert efazert      "you were" - epert elosert
   "they got" - vonert efazent    "they were" - vonert elosent

 The future tense is formed by adding o- to the verb (or ol- if
 the verb begins with a vowel):

       Krushe: "to leave"
   "I will leave" - ket okrush
   "she will leave" - epet okrushet
   "he, etc. will leave" - von okrushen
   "we will leave" - kert okrusher
   "you will leave" - epert okrushert
   "they will leave" - vonert okrushent

2.1.3 Forms derived from verbs

 Six different endings change the form of the verb to show that
 the word is being used differently in the sentence; these end-
 ings are -e, -a, -o, -i, -in, and -sha.

 Infinitive.  All verbs are listed in the Gorbesh Dictionary in
 their infinitive forms, that is, the root of the verb plus the
 -e ending of the infinitive.
    bule "to break"   chabike "to bury"  ilave "to heal"

 Past participle: root + a (or + na if the root ends in a).
 Functions as an adjective.
   bula "broken", as in "it's broken", "a broken promise".
   chabika "buried", as in "buried treasure".

 Present participle: root + o (or + no, if the root ends in o).
 Functions as an adjective.
   Example: with chigoe "to retreat"
   chigono "retreating", as in "the retreating army".

2.1.3 Forms derived from verbs, continued

 Gerund: root + i (or + ni, if the root ends in i).
 Functions as a noun.
   Example: with kiyuhe "to end":
   kiyuhi "ending", as in "the ending of the story".

 Agent: root + in (or + hin, if the root end in i).
 Becomes a noun meaning "Someone who does the verb".
   From: dulane "murder", we get dulanin "murderer, assassin"
   From: glaiye "to teach", we get glaiyin "teacher"

 Result: verb (Note: not the root) + sha.
 Becomes a noun meaning "The result of the verb".
   From: kauje "to dream", we get kaujesha "a dream",
   From: kore "to kiss", we get koresha "a kiss".

2.2 Adjectives and Adverbs

 All adjectives in Gorbesh end in -a (but not all words ending
 in -a are adjectives).  When the suffix -n is added to an ad-
 jective, the resulting word is an adverb:
     nesa 'bad', nesan 'badly'
     uriba 'final', uriban 'finally'
     hagina 'free', haginan 'freely'

 Both adjectives and adverbs can be compared by adding the suf-
 fix -i or -ai for the comparative degree (when comparing two),
 and adding -hai for the superlative degree (more than two).
                    Adjective             Adverb
      Base form:   buksa 'angry'       buksan 'angrily'
      Comparative: buksai 'angrier'    buksanai 'more angrily'
      Superlative: buksahai 'angriest' buksanhai 'most angrily'

      Base form:   gra 'huge'          gran 'hugely'
      Comparative: grai 'huger'        granai 'more hugely'
      Superlative: grahai 'hugest'      granhai 'most hugely'

2.3 Quantifiers

 Actually a subclass of adjectives, quantifiers are those words
 which always come before other adjectives in Common, "both" or
 "some", for instance: "both old tents", "some hot tea".  These
 quantifiers are placed before the noun in Gorbesh, whereas the
 other adjectives follow the noun.  Thus, in the phrases above,
 the order of the words in Imperial Gorbesh would be (literally
 translated) "both tents old", "some tea hot".

 NOTE: in Gnomish Gorbesh, both quantifiers and adjectives come
 before the noun, just as in Common.

 The quantifiers are:
   "a, an" - sa          "enough" - dosta    "much" - knuva
   "all" - ga            "every" - usaya     "no" - zu
   "another" - hadsha    "few" - ahsa        "only" - pipa
   "any" - ash           "many" - sruha      "other" - vona
   "both" - knika        "more" - uzoai      "several" - imiza
   "each" - kima         "most" - uzohai     "some" - osh

2.4 Nouns

 Gorbesh shows the function and number of nouns by joining suf-
 fixes to the end of the word.  Nouns that are the subjects of
 their clauses add the nominative suffix.  Nouns that are modi-
 ifying other nouns add the genitive suffix.  And nouns used as
 the object of a verb or preposition take the objective suffix.
 Use the forms -ahi, -aha, -aham when the noun ends in s or sh.
                    Nominative   Genitive     Objective
 Singular suffixes:  (none)        -a           -am
         "knife"     hikas        hikasa       hikasam
         "lizard"    kinik        kinika       kinikam
         "dragon"    ameshi       ameshia      ameshiam

 Plural suffixes:    -hi/-ahi     -ha/-aha     -ham/-ahaam
         "knife"     hikasahi     hikasaha     hikasaham
         "lizard"    kinikhi      kinikha      kinikham
         "dragon"    ameshihi     ameshiha     ameshiham

 NOTE: Gnomish uses no ending on singular nouns, and uses only
 the -am ending for any plural noun.

2.5 Pronouns

2.5.1 Personal Pronouns

 The personal pronouns have different forms depending on their
 case, number, person, and gender.  The forms are:

         First Person               Second Person
      Singular   Plural         Singular       Plural
 Nom: ket (I)    kert (we)      epet (thou)  epert (you)
 Gen: keta (my)  kerta (our)    epeta (thy)  eperta (your)
 Obj: keto (me)  kerto (us)     epeto (thee) eperto (you)

                          Third Person
                  Singular                    Plural
      Masculine   Feminine    Neuter        All genders
 Nom: von (he)    vel (she)   an (it)       vonert (they)
 Gen: vona (his)  vela (her)  ana (its)     vonerta (their)
 Obj; vono (him)  velo (her)  an (it)       vonerto (them)

 Gender in Gorbesh follows biology.  If the thing represented
 by the noun is male, it is referred to by the masculine pro-
 noun, and if it is female by the feminine.  If the thing has
 no sex or if the sex is unknown, the neuter pronoun is used.

2.5.2 Relative and Interrogative Pronouns

 The following words are used both as relative pronouns and, if
 the suffix -ush is added, as interrogative pronouns.
   "how":  vin, vinush        "which":  tin, tinush
   "that":  tin, tinush       "who or whom": kon, konush
   "what": chin, chinush      "whose": kona, konusha
   "when": hin, hinush        "why": shin, shinush
   "where": warek, warekush

2.5.3 Demonstrative Pronouns

 Unlike many languages, Gorbesh uses only a single word, sinoi,
 for "this", "that", "these", or "those".

2.6 Conjunctions

 "although" kretes   "however" oviya   "than" mol
 "and" bat           "if" kos          "that" se
 "as" en             "or" vaos         "though" kretes
 "because" shoi      "since" sravik    "whether" za
 "but" nub           "so that" luen    "while" hauri

2.7 Prepositions (not all are listed here)

 "about" - omaz       "beyond" - fujaz    "out of" - napozz
 "above" - shutoz     "by" - li           "outside" - sivez
 "across" - eudiz     "down" - knaz       "over" - chaz
 "aft" - swoz         "during" - sagiz    "through" - lez
 "after" - misaz      "except" - goskiz   "till" - varez
 "against" - otekiz   "for" - baz         "to" - doz
 "ahead" - tuz        "from" - ranz      ; "toward" - dohiz
 "along" - nimiz      "in" - naz          "under" - lauz
 "among" - hahiz      "inside" - naz      "unless" - nubiz
 "around" - lariz     "into" - nahiz      "until" - varez
 "at" - koz           "near" - susiz      "up" - shuz
 "before" - ewoz      "of" - vaz          "upon" - itoz
 "behind" - swoz      "off" - topoz       "with" - srez
 "beneath" - konuz    "on" - toz          "within" - haz
 "besides" - siz      "onto" - tohiz      "without" - oniz
 "between" - koyez    "out" - zoz


3.1 Phrase Order

 The order of words in noun phrases is:
     Quantifier + Pronoun + Noun (+ Adverb) + Adjective.
 If present, a quantifier will always be the first word in the
 phrase.  Possessive pronouns such as "my" or "our" follow the
 quantifier, coming just before the noun.  Adjectives come next, after
 the noun; adverbs modifying the adjective precede it.
 Examples with word-for-word translations below the phrase:
   "my leather gloves"    keta tujahi viga
                          my   gloves leather
   "a big black horse"    sa moduja bara tolura
                          a  horse  big  black
   "some very easy money"   osh  voruya hon  aris
                            some money  very easy
   "both her sisters"     knika vela edrahi
                          both  her  sisters

 Adverbs modifying verbs occur immediately after the verb they
 modify, except for nak "not" which comes just before the verb.

3.2 Clause Order

 In statements and questions with interrogative pronouns, the
 order of the parts is: Subject, Verb, Object (if any).
   Knika vela barhi rinent Tatoham.
     "Both her brothers married humans."
   Ket bodujush doforos udenham.
     "I will hunt otters tomorrow."
     (Literally, I will-hunt tomorrow otters.)
   Kon dinhen buayaham aska lariz chumiam?
     "Who sells good weapons around here?"
     (Literally, Who sells weapons good...)

 In other questions, the order is: Verb, Subject, Object.
   Rinent knika vela barhi Tatoham?
     "Did both her brothers marry humans?"
     (Literally, Married both her brothers humans?)

3.3 Imperatives

 To form imperatives (commands, orders), Gorbesh uses the
 root of the verb + et (+ t if the root ends in a vowel).
 The subject "you" is understood in the sentence:
   Ubavet. "Keep (it)."    Chigwet! "Retreat!"
   Yot! "Watch out!"       Lujet! "Stop!"