How (Not) to Speak Wenja : Izila (His-hílax)

A Grammar of Izila (His-hílax)

 
 
Preface: the Izila People

Izila is an Indo-European language spoken by the Izila tribe, which lives in the southern part of Oros.  Theirs is a sedentary agrarian society, which is led by a divine warrior queen.  All Izila speak the Izila language, and some even speak Wenja, when necessary. The word Izila is a simplified pronunciation of His-hílax, which means “the language of the Masters”.

How Words are Made
The structure of words in Izila is much more complicated than in English.  Like in Spanish & German, you can add lots of different types of endings to words to indicate that word’s function within the sentence. For instance, in Spanish, for “I walk” you would say camin-o, but “you walk” is camin-as. This use of suffixes is found pretty much everywhere in Izila.
There are two basic types of words in Izila : nominals (nouns, adjectives, and pronouns) and verbs.  Let’s start with the nominals.
Nominals:
There are six basic facts about the Izila nominals you need to know.
1.       Like in Spanish, nouns may be classified according to one of two genders.  While in Spanish nouns may be either masculine or feminine, in Izila nouns may be either animate or inanimate.  Pretty much everything is inanimate in Izila, except for those entities that the Izila believe are capable of rational thought. Thus:
a.       The Izila, respected Wenja, and the gods are considered to be animate: Ménsos ‘the moon god’, Súxlis ‘the sun god’, Roshánis (Izila name), Sáyla (female Wenja gatherer).
b.      All animals, plants, non-living objects (such as rocks), disrespected Wenja, and all Udam are considered to be inanimate: hárs ‘bear’, búúlis ‘bush’, kéuhom ‘cave’, Wóga(male Wenja crafter), (Udam name).
c.       All of this will become important later when we learn to use adjectives and pronouns; see (6.) below.
2.      Like in English, there are 2 numbers in Izila: singular (one) and plural (many).
a.       sem bákom ‘one berry’ ~ dwo báka ‘two berries’
b.      sem gwér ‘one beast’ ~ dwo gwér ‘two beasts’
3.      In English we use lots of prepositions with our nominals.  These prepositions allow for nouns to have different functions in the sentence: “on the rock” (location), “to the rock” (direction), “with the rock” (using the rock as an instrument), etc.  In Izila they like to avoid prepositions and instead use suffixes attached to the ends of their nominals to convey these types of meaning.  There are eight of these suffixes in Izila; each has a singular form & a plural form:
a.       Nominative: use this form if the N is the subject of the sentence
Roshánis dómom démheti.                  
‘Roshani builds a house’
b.      Genitive: use this form if the N possesses something else
Rosháneis hegnígweru bélistom.         
‘Roshani’s fire-spear is the strongest.’
c.       Accusative: use this form if the N is the object of the sentence
Roshánim káideti.                          
‘Wah strikes Roshani’
d.      Dative: the “to” form
Hegnígweru Roshánei dohəm.
‘I gave a fire-spear to Roshani.’
e.       Ablative: the “from/by” form
Hegnígweru megi Rosháneisdoxto.
‘A fire-spear was given to me by Roshani’
f.        Instrumental: the “with” form
Kəmtom Údam Wénja kwe Roshánihe gwenom.
‘I killed 100 Udam & Wenja with Roshani.’
g.       Locative: the “in/on” form
Mókom Rosháni hesti.
‘There’s a fly on Roshani.’
h.      Vocative: use this form if the N is addressed in the sentence
Rosháni, kwór hesi?                             
‘Roshani, where are you?’
4.      To make matters even trickier, Izila uses different suffixes depending on what sound the word in question ends with. So, if the word ends in an -o (dómo- ‘house’), it will use one set of endings.  If it ends in an -i (Rosháni- ‘Izila commander’), it will use yet another set of endings.  All together, there are five classes of nouns and adjectives.
a.                   The o nouns (such as dóm-om‘house’):

o-nouns
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
os
om
oi
a
gen
osyo
osyo
ohom
ohom
acc
om
om
ons
a
dat
oi
oi 
oibi
oibi
abl
od
od
oibi
oibi
inst
ohe
ohe
ois
ois
loc
oi
oi
oisu
oisu
voc
e
oi
a
                        So, dómom ‘house’ (subj.), dómosyo ‘house’s’, etc.
b.                  The ax nouns (such as Izílax‘land of Izila’):
ax-nouns
singular
plural
nom
ax
ahas
gen
ahas
ahom
acc
am
ans
dat
ahai
abi
abl
ahad
abi
inst
aha
abi
loc
ahi
aksu
voc
a
ahas
Izílax ‘Land of Izila’ (subj.), Izílahas ‘Land of Izila’s’, etc.
c.                   The i nouns (such as Roshán-i ‘Roshani’):

i-nouns
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
is
i
eyes
i
gen
eis
eis
ihom
ihom
acc
im
i
ins
i
dat
ei
ei
ibi
ibi
abl
eis
eis
ibi
ibi
inst
ihe
ihe
ibi
ibi
loc
i
i
isu
isu
voc
i
i
eyes
i
Roshánis ‘Roshani’ (subj.), Rosháneis ‘Roshani’s’, etc.
d.                  The u nouns (such as hís-u ‘spear’):
u-nouns
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
us
u
ewes
u
gen
ous
ous
uhom
om
acc
um
u
uns
u
dat
ewei
ewei
ubi
ubi
abl
ous
ous
ubi
ubi
inst
uhe
uhe
ubi
ubi
loc
ou
ou
usu
usu
voc
u
u
ewes
es
hísu ‘arrow’ (subj.), hísous ‘arrow’s’, etc.
e.                   The consonant nouns (such as nók ‘murder’):
Consonant
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
s
es
– / a
gen
os
os
om
om
acc
əm
əns
– / a
dat
ei
ei
bi
bi
abl
os
os
bi
bi
inst
he
he
bi
bi
loc
i
i
su
su
voc
es
es
                        nók ‘murder’ (subj.), nekós ‘murder’s’, etc.
5.      Like nouns and adjectives, pronouns have different forms, too.
1st person
 “ I ”
“ we ”
nom
ego
wei
gen
men
nos 
acc
me
nos
dat
megi
nos
abl
med
ənsmed
inst
moi 
nozbi 
loc
moi
ənsmi
voc
— 
2nd person
“ you ”
“ y’all ”
nom
tu
yus
gen
teu
wos
acc
te
wos 
dat
tebi
wos 
abl
twed
usmed 
inst
toi
uzbi 
loc
toi 
usmi 
voc
— 
— 
3rd person
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
so
tod
soi
ta
gen
os
tos
sohom
tohom
acc
som
tod
sons
ta
dat
osmoi
tosmoi
soibi
toibi
abl
osmod
tosmod
soibi
toibi
inst
soi
toi
soibi
toibi
loc
osmi 
tosmi 
soisu
toisu
voc
6.      Now that we’ve seen all of the nominal forms, let’s talk a bit about the two situations where gender matters.
a.       The first situation involves adjectives.  When an adjective modifies a noun in Izila, it needs to agree in number, grammatical function, and gender. Adjectives modifying animate nouns must be marked as animate; adjectives modifying inanimate nouns must be inanimate.
Izila hyéudos bélos hesti.
The Izila warrior is (a) powerful (person).
                        Udam hyéudom bélom hesti.
The Udam warrior is (a) powerful (thing).
Puyós hrégnis Súklim hyáktor.
The pious queen worships Suxli.
Hákromhísu Údam káydeti.
                        The sharp arrow hits an Udam.
b.      The second situation involves the use of pronouns.  When an Izila speaker uses words such as “him” or “it” instead of a full noun, she is using a pronoun. 
Roshani speaks with the (Izila) queen. Roshani speaks with her.
Roshánis hrégnis wérti. Roshánis soi wérti.
Roshani speaks with the (Udam) slave. Roshani speaks with it.
Roshánis kwálhe wérti. Roshánis toi wérti.
7.       Sometimes you’ll want to use adjectives to compare one nominal with
another. In these cases, you’ll be using two types of suffixes:
a.       Comparative:
                                                        i.            Add the suffix -r-: bélor- ‘stronger’, sólwor- ‘safer, more whole’, hwápor- ‘worse’, plétur- ‘broader’, tépir- ‘hotter’, etc.
                                                      ii.            When comparing two nouns, using the ablative form to indicate “than”: Roshánis prókod bélors hesti. ‘Roshani is stronger than the interrogator.’
b.      Superlative:
                                                        i.               Add the suffix istó-: belistó- ‘strongest’, solwistó- ‘safest’, hwapistó- ‘worst’, pletwistó- ‘broadest’, tepistó- ‘hottest’
                                                      ii.               To indicate the “X-ist” of a group, use the genitive: Roshánis sólwohom Izíla belistós hesti. ‘Roshani is the strongest of all Izila.’
8.      Important nominal suffixes:
a.                   Agent: add -tor- to the verbal root (e).  Examples: léktor
‘gatherer’, séktor ‘winner’, áutor ‘caretaker’ (lit. ‘carer’), etc.
b.                  Patient/Participle: add -tó- to the verbal root (,
when possible). Examples: hmiktós ‘pissed on; piss man’, lektó- ‘gathered’, sektó- ‘conquered’, utó- ‘cared for; patient’
c.                   Active Particle: add -(o)nt- to the verbal root (,
when possible): legónt- ‘gathering’, segónt- ‘conquering’, uwónt- ‘caring for; liking’
d.                  Instrument: add -trom to the verbal root (e). Examples:  
                          léktrom ‘tool of gathering; scythe’, séktrom ‘tool of winning; 
                          battle-tool’, áutrom ‘tool of caring; sponge’
e.                   Action: add -mən to the verbal root (e). Examples: légmən
‘gathering’, ségmən ‘winning’, áumən ‘caring’
f.                    Abstract/Infinitive: add. -ti to the verbal root (e). Examples:
lékti ‘gathering’, sékti ‘winning’, áuti ‘caring’
Verbs:
Now that we’ve taken a look at the nominals, let’s move onto the other major class of words in Izila: verbs. Like the nominals, Izila verbs use suffixes, too. There’s a lot of information that’s encoded in these suffixes.
1.       This information may be:
a.       Person:
                                                        i.            First:   the speaker is the subject, either “I” or “we”
1.       bérmi ‘I carry’
2.      bérme ‘we carry’
                                                      ii.            Second: the addressee is the subject, either “you” or “y’all”
1.       bérsi ‘you carry’
2.      bérte ‘y’all carry’
                                                    iii.            Third: someone else is the subject, “he, she, it” or “they”
1.       bérti ‘he, she, it carries’
2.      bérənti ‘ they carry’
b.      Number: singular (one) vs. plural (many)
                                                        i.            Singular: bérmi, bérsi, bérti
                                                      ii.            Plural: bérme, bérte, bérənti
c.       Tense:
                                                        i.            Present: the action is happening right now (true present) or is about to (future)
1.       bérmi ‘I carry, I am carrying, I will carry’
2.      bérənti ‘they carry, they are carrying, they will carry’
                                                      ii.            Past: the action has already happened
1.       bérəm ‘I carried, I was carrying’
2.      bérənt ‘they carried, they were carrying’
d.      Voice:
                                                        i.            Active: the subject is performing the action
1.       bérti ‘he carries’
2.      bérənti ‘they carry’
                                                      ii.            Mediopassive: use this when making reflexives, passives, or other special situations
1.       Reflexives: Xoreséi bértor ‘he carries himself to the mountain’
2.      Passives: Roshánihe bértor ‘he is carried by Roshani.’
3.      Some verbs always use the MP even when have an active-like meaning, like sekw- ‘follow’: Izíla hyéudos Údam hyéudom séktor ‘The Izila warrior follows the Udam warrior.’
e.       Mood:
                                                        i.            Indicative: what you use normally to make a statement
1.       Hegnígweru bérme.  ‘We carry firespears.’
2.      Hegnígweru bérsi.  ‘You carry firespears.’
                                                      ii.            Imperative: what you use in commands (only present)
1.       Hegnígweru bérme!  ‘Let’s carry firespears!’
2.      Hegnígweru bér!  ‘Carry firespears!’
                                                    iii.            Subjunctive: what you use to indicate possibility, probability, or uncertainty  (only present)
1.       Hegnígweru béroime‘We should (might, may) carry firespears.’
2.      Hegnígweru bérois  ‘You should (might, may) carry firespears.’
2.      Here is the complete list of endings:
Present
Active
MP
1s: “I”
mi
har
2s: “you”
si
tar
3s: “he/she/it”
ti
tor
1p: “we”
me
meda
2p: “y’all”
te
dwe
3p: “they”
nti
ntor
Past
Active
MP
1s: “I”
m
ha
2s: “you”
s
ta
3s: “he/she/it”
t
to
1p: “we”
me
meda
2p: “y’all”
te
dwe
3p: “they”
nt
ntor
Imperative
Active
MP
1s: “I”
2s: “you”
di / e
so
3s: “he/she/it”
tu
tu
1p: “we”
me
me
2p: “y’all”
te
te
3p: “they”
ntu
ntu
Subjunctive
Active
MP
1s: “I”
oim
oihar
2s: “you”
ois
oitar
3s: “he/she/it”
oit
oitor
1p: “we”
oime
oimeda
2p: “y’all”
oite
oidwe
3p: “they”
ointi
ointor
How Sentences are Made
Now that we’ve seen how both nominals and verbs work in Izila, let’s make some actual Izila sentences. The standard order in these sentences is:  SUBJECT + OBJECT + VERB. 
                        Hegnéis   blóg    té     gwərhetu!
                        Hegni’s   flames   you may.consume!
                        ‘May the flames of Hegni consume you!’
Adjectives precede nouns:
                        Méga háwi   diwí       pitnáxti.
                        Large     bird      sky-in  flies.
                        ‘A large bird flies in the sky.’
Possessives precede nouns:
                        Rosháneis hegnígweru bélistom.
Roshani’s  fire-spear             strongest
‘Roshani’s fire-spear is the strongest.’
Prepositions follow nouns:
                        Pélhubi wetezbó    Izíla   Izílam           démhat.
                        Many       years-ago     Izila   L.of.Izilam  conquered.
                        ‘Many years ago the Izila conquered the land of Izila.’
However, words may be moved around in the sentence if the speakers want to emphasize a particular word or phrase.  If speakers want to emphasize the object, they move it to the beginning of the sentence.
Izílam           pélhubi wetezbó    Izíla démhat.
                        L.of.Izilam   many       years-ago    Izila conquered.
                        ‘The land of Izila, the Izila conquered many years ago.”
If speakers want to emphasize anything else, they move it right before the verb. 

Diwí     méga háwi   pitnáxti.
                        Sky-in  large   bird       flies.
                        ‘A LARGE BIRD flies in the sky.’
How Izila was Created
For those readers who are linguists, you may be curious about some of the phonological changes that have occurred in Izila.  For the most part, the creators have been extremely faithful to the standard conception of Proto-Indo-European and have only made changes that were absolutely necessary.  These changes include:
1.       All voiced aspirates have merged with voiced stops
2.      All palatals have merged with velars
3.      *H is lost in coda position, except in verbs and certain key words (máxter ‘mother’, dwáx ‘far’, etc.), where they are pronounced as /x/
4.      *H becomes /h/ in onset position, though is lost in difficult clusters
5.      Certain consonant clusters have been simplified either by deletion or by schwa insertion (decided on a case-by-case basis)

2 thoughts on “How (Not) to Speak Wenja : Izila (His-hílax)

  1. Hesu toi, Wenjapati,

    When looking at Izila verbs I notice that often there is an intermediary vowel in the past tense, but I haven't noticed a pattern for knowing what that vowel is. Is there a pattern or is it a word by word basis?

    Also I've really enjoyed all the Izila content the past few weeks I've been looking at it. I feel like they were under-explored in the game, and the closeness of this to our estimation of PIE make it interesting in a different way from Wenja. Not sure how to go about learning it better, but this and the Batari scenes are great.

    Anyway, thanks for this.

  2. Hésu toi< Joe! Sharp eye there. What you're seeing is called the "thematic vowel", which was used for certain verbs in actual PIE and was used to an even greater extent in Izila to make certain past tenses easier to say.

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