Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Grammar Crumbs: Genitive-Dative Alignment

While the Grey Tongue uses the standard plain-old, boring-old Germanic cases (Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Accusative, yes in that order), I’ve been gradually giving a little more responsibility to the Genitive, such as taking over certain rôles like the standard Germanic “accusative of time.” (E.g. ‘today’ – in Gothic hina dag or himma daga – is hisdagis, or sometimes hindag in specific circumstances.)

I’ve recently noticed that this has created an interesting dichotomy between the Genitive and the Dative, where they’ve started to grow into rôles of opposites: Dative being generally analogous to “to/for/towards” and Genitive to “from/of/away from.” This is particularly notable among the pronouns, which occur frequently in the genitive as well (rather uncommon in Germanic languages except for Icelandic, but there it’s actually replacing or mirroring the dative rather than contrasting with it.)

E.g. His ist mīn skenča ‘This is a gift from me’, which contrasts with His ist skenča mīns ‘This is my gift’ or ‘This is a gift of mine.’

Saturday, September 28, 2019


Sure, why not? I saw this floating around the conlang Twitterverse and it seemed like fun, so I decided to put it together for Valthungian.

hunǧ (gen. hundis, pl. hundas)
kātus (gen. kātus, pl. kǣtis)
fǭs (gen. fǭsis, pl. fǭsas)
wulfs (gen. wulvis, pl. wulvas)
čukin (gen. čukinis, pl. čukina)
matnǣkwern (gen. matnǣkwernis, pl. matnǣkwerna)
frusk (gen. fruskis, pl. fruskas)
swīn (gen. swīnis, pl. swīna)
berna (gen. bernins, pl. bernans)
kūs (gen. kūs, pl. kȳs)
ketnin (gen. ketninis, pl. ketnina)
mūs (gen. mūsis, pl. mȳsis)
ǣjus (gen. ǣjus, pl. ǣjus)
heruts (gen. herutis, pl. herutas)
bīja (gen. bījans, pl. bījans)
fivlaðra (gen. fivlaðrans, pl. fivlaðrans)
wivaris (gen. wivaris, pl. wivaris)
skilðukua (gen. skilðukuns, pl. skilðukuns)
snaka (gen. snakins, pl. snaknas)
naðra (gen. naðris, pl. naðras)
agiþǣša (gen. agiþǣšis, pl. agiþǣšins)
krāba (gen. krābins, pl. krābnas)
fuglas (gen. fuglis, pl. fuglas)
marikivra (gen. marikivrins, pl. marikivrans)
fišk (gen. fiškis, pl. fiškas)
ulvandus (gen. ulvandus, pl. ulvandis)
gǣts (gen. gǣtis, pl. gǣtis)
skēp (gen. skēpis, pl. skēpa)
ara (gen. arins, pl. arnas)
aniþs (gen. aniðis, pl. aniðis)
🦢 swans (gen. swanis, pl. swanas)
rātus (gen. rātus, pl. rǣtis)
hana (gen. hanins, pl. hanans)
ēmate (gen. ēmačis, pl. ēmačis)
mūstrinǧ (gen. mūstringis, pl. mūstringas)
tanþuǧus (gen. tanþuǧužis, pl. tanþuǧuža)
mareswīn (gen. mareswīnis, pl. mareswīna)
hāfs (gen. hāfis, pl. hāfas)
snīga (gen. snīgins, pl. snīgnas)
hwals (gen. hwalis, pl. hwalas)
serafa (gen. serafis, pl. serafas)
kamilus (gen. kamilus, pl. kamilis)
🦛 āwamárþe (gen. āwaméršis, pl. āwaméršis)
hornanasa (gen. hornanasis, pl. hornanasas)
ljuga (gen. ljugins, pl.ljugnas)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Shameless Pilfering of Morphology

Just a little grammar snippet for you.

Looking at the history of Valthungian, the period between Griutungi (the dialect of Gothic that was likely the main parent of Valthungian) and Middle Valthungian occurred mainly in northern Italy and some other areas of southern Europe, and borrowing from Vulgar Latin and its subsequent descendants was fairly rampant. One such borrowing that occurred around the time of Old Valthungian was the borrowing of the Latin genitive plural ending –ōrum to replace Valthungian’s earlier –ē and –ō, which had by that time were starting to undergo some final unstressed vowel degradation and were in danger of vanishing from the language completely, leaving a bare root.

Classical Latin –ōrum was borrowed from Vulgar Latin –ōrũ into Old Valthungian –ōru, which eventually became Middle Valthungian –oru and Modern Valthungian –aro.

Some examples:

Gothic NS: bagms ‘tree’, andeis ‘end’, handus ‘hand’, wata ‘water’ → GP: bagmē, andjē, handiwē, watanē
Griutungi: bagms, andīs, handus, watar bagmē, andjē, handiwē, watanē
(early) Old Valthungian: bagms, endīs, handus, watar bagmē, endjē, hendjugē, watanē
(later) Old Valthungian: bagms, endīs, handus, watar bagmōru, endjōru, hendjugōru, watanōru
Middle Valthungian: bagms, endīs, handus, watr bagmoru, endžjoru, hendžjugoru, watanoru
Modern Valthungian: bagmas, endis, handus, watra bagmaro, enǧiro, henǧigaro, watanaro

Grammar sub-snippet: Why does watanaro still have so many vowels? Shouldn’t it be watnaro?

Yes and no. Watnaro is common enough in usage, but the retention of the unstressed /a/ here has to do with the development of Valthungian prosody, particularly throughout the Middle Valthungian period when a lot of vowels were jumping ship en masse, when the language came to have a much stricter iambic meter, so many unstressed vowels were retained and some were even added between two stressed syllables.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Swējuga X, īðanǭðan Y: The X-er the Y-er

In Valthungian there is a handy formula: Swējuga ___, īðanǭðan ___. 
This is roughly equivalent to the English formula “the ___-er the ___-er.”
Literally it translates to “So much ___, that then still then ___.” (Gothic gets weird with its conjunctions, and Valthungian just doubles down on them.) The comparative form of the adjective should be in its uninflected adverbial form (usually –is if its inflected form takes –iža).
Swējuga mikilis, īðanǭðan batis. ‘The bigger the better.’
Swējuga langis lečiðit, īðanǭðan wersis gengiðit wisna. ‘The longer it takes, the worse it will be.’
You can also use the same construction with mǣs / mǣža or mitnis / mitniža and noun phrases, e.g.
Swējuga mat mǣžna ǣgums, īðanǭðan grēðo mitnižna (ǣgums). ‘The more food we have, the less hungry we’ll be.’
Swējuga birœ́uǧistu mǣs, īðanǭðan tīman langižna þik lētiþ þat guþ þīna ta livna. ‘The more you complain, the longer your God lets you live.’

Saturday, April 6, 2019

In the meantime...

I recently posted this in the Valthungian Facebook group, and thought I might as well add it here to the bloggosphere too.

Gǣl Ǭstra! (‘Happy Spring!’) – It just occurred to me that I should write something up about the various uses of “Happy” in Valthungian.

There are easily half a dozen words that could translate directly to ‘happy’ in English, but they are not all equivalent. When describing a person who is happy – i.e. a person who feels happiness – the most common words to describe them are fās, glaþs, or frǭs. Swēgnas is particularly celebratory – ‘jubilant,’ perhaps – and wižniǧ is more of a generally happy demeanor.

When wishing someone happiness on a holiday – i.e. an event which causes or evokes happiness – the options are greatly reduced. A day cannot be glaþs or wižniǧ or frǭs – these only apply to people.* The most common, used for most holidays, is fās; however, Christmas is always blīþ.** Of course, this is further complicated by the gender of the holiday in question, because irregular adjectives like fās and frǭs can have very different forms, e.g. neuter, fagun masculine, and fagua feminine… at least in the accusative, which is all we’re concerned with when wishing people happy things.

For holidays which begin with a vowel, rather than have an awkward pause in “fā … ǭstra!” use gǣl instead. Like the complement of glaþs, gǣls always refers to a happy event or occasion, and is never used to describe a person.***

Here are some Valthungian holiday wishes for reference:
  • Merry Christmas, Happy Yule – Blīþ Ǧul, Blīðna Ǧultin
  • Happy New Year – Blīþ/Fā Njuge Jēr
  • Happy Imbolc/Candlemas – Fā Halbwastra
  • Happy Spring/Vernal Equinox/Ostara – Gǣl Ǭstra
  • Happy Mayday/Beltane – Fagun Halbsumbra
  • Happy Mid-Summer/Litha – Fā Linþ
  • Happy Lughnassadh/Lammas – Fagun Halbharvist
  • Happy Fall/Autumnal Equinox/Mabon – Gǣl Harve
  • Happy Halloween/Samhain – Fagun Halbwintro
  • Happy Birthday – Fagun Gabórþisdag
  • Happy ____ Day – Fagun ____(+genitive) Dag

* Think of the word glad in English, discounting the particularly old-timey usage of things like “glad tidings.”
** Just like it’s always merry for Usanians instead of happy.
*** Well, it can be, but it doesn’t mean ‘happy’. German speakers, you know what I’m talking about!

Lexember 0nth: I quit!

Hello, Gothlings! It’s me, you know, that guy who writes here every day for two-thirds of December and then otherwise maybe twice a year. Anyway, I’m trying to make an effort to post a little more regularly and provide content that people might actually want to read. This isn’t one of those posts that has useful content or that anybody would want to read, but I just wanted let you know that they’re coming.

Mostly I wanted to post here today to say:

I quit Lexember!

Don’t get me wrong – I love Lexember, and it’s a great idea, but December is a bad month for me, and after three years of trying (two of which you can autopsy here on this blog), I realize it’s just not sustainable going into the holidays. Not to mention trying to get everything organized to have something in a nice format (e.g. on Contionary) to link to from a blog, and Facebook, and Twitter, and all that other junk. So for those of you wondering why my Lexember entries end abruptly each December with a dozen or so days to go, that’s why.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lexember 19th: ‘stare; overlook’


/ferˈwiːt.nɑ/ v.st.1 trans. to stare at, to gawk at.
Via Middle and Old Valthungian from Griutungi ferwītan, cf. Gothic fairweitan, from ProtoGermanic ferweitaną.



/ˌuv.rɑˈmut.nɑn/ v.wk.2 trans. to overlook, to neglect, to forget about.
From Middle Valthungian uvrmutnon, from Old Valthungian uvarmutnōn, from Griutungi ufarmunnōn, cf. Gothic ufarmunnōn, from ProtoGermanic ufarmunnōną.


Lexember 18th: ‘model, template’


/ˌɑv.rɑ.gɑˈrai̯s.nɑs/ n.st.f.i model, form, muse, original upon which something is designed or patterened.
From Middle Valthungian avrgarēfsns, from Old Valthungian avargarēhsns, from Griutuingi afargarēhsns, cf. Gothic *afargarēhsns, from ProtoGermanic *afargarēhsniz.


/ˌɑv.rɑˈmuns/ n.st.m.i model, paradigm, prototype, template.
From Middle Valthungian avrmuns, from Old Valthungian avarmuns, from Griutuingi afarmuns, cf. Gothic *afarmuns, from ProtoGermanic *afarmuniz.

While there is a lot of overlap between the semantic space of these two nouns, the main difference is that the former tends to deal with physical objects or people (e.g. a ‘model’ posing for a painting) while the latter is more conceptual (e.g. a ‘model’ for city planning).

Lexember 17th: ‘French’


/ˈfrɑŋk.iʃk/ adj.a French.
From Middle Valthungian frankišk, from Old Valthungian frankisks, Cf. Old High German frankisk.



/ˈfrɑŋk.iʃ.kɑ/ n.wk.f.ōn French (language).
From Middle Valthungian frankiško, from Old Valthungian frankiskō.


Rīks þiža Franka

/riːks ˈθi.ʒɑ ˈfrɑŋ.kɑ/ n.st.m.i France.
From Middle Valthungian þiže Franke (sā) rīks (“Kingdom of the Franks,” cf. German Frankreich), from Old Valthungian þižē Frankē sā rīks.


Lexember 16th: ‘cool, chilly’


/kau̯ls/ adj.i ‘cool, chilly’
Via Middle and Old Valthungian kōls from Griutungi kōls, from Proto-Germanic *kōliz.



/ˈkœy̑.li/ n.wk.f.īn coolness, chill.
Deadjectival noun from kōls, from Middle and Old Valthungian kœulī, from Griutungi kōlī, cf. unattested Gothic kōlei, from ProtoGermanic *kōlį̄.


Lexember 15th: ‘suffer’


/ˈθul.nɑ/ v.wk.3 to suffer, to endure. (Used with the genitive, i.e. to suffer from.)
Via Middle and Old Valthungian from Griutungi þulan, cf. Gothic þulan, from ProtoGermanic þulāną.


/ˈθy.lins/ n.st.f.i suffering, enduring.
From the verb þulan. (Verbal nouns from non-class-1 weak verbs were assimilated to the weak i-stem ending – including any applicable umlaut – around the time of Middle Valthugian. We would normally expect **þulans here, from a theoretical Middle Valthungian **þulens, from an attested Old Valthungian þulǣns, from Griutungi þulǣns, cf. Gothic þulains, from ProtoGermanic *þulainiz.)

Lexember 14th: ‘thunderstruck’

Swēva þīfuns þrundnas

/ˈswai̯.va ˈθiːfuns ˈθrund.nɑs/ adj.a thunderstruck, amazed, astonished, bewildered.
A phrasal adjective (the word þrundnas is declined to agree with its noun or pronoun), this is literally the phrase “as though struck by thunder,” i.e. ‘thunderstruck’.
From swēva ‘as though’ (from swē ‘so, as, like’ and iva ‘if, whether’) and þifuns, genitive of þīfua ‘thunder’, and þrundnas, past participle of þrindna ‘to strike’.


Lexember 13th: ‘fault, guilt, excuse’


/disˈkyl.pin/ v.wk.1ija to excuse, to exculpate.
From dis- ‘apart from’ and kulpa ‘guilt’.



/disˈkyl.pi/ n.wk.f.īn excuse, extenuating reason.
From the verb diskýlpin.



/inˈi.lɑ/ n.wk.f.ōn excuse, reason.
From Middle Valthungian inilo, from Old Valthungian and Griutungi inilō, cf. Gothic inilō, from ProtoGermanic *inilǭ.



/ˈkul.pɑ/ n.st.f.ō guilt, responsibility, wrong.
From Middle Valthungian kulpa, from Latin culpa ‘guilt’.
Syn: ferina



/ˈfe̞.ri.nɑ/ n.st.f.ō fault, responsibility, culpability.
Via Middle and Old Valthungian from Griutungi ferina, cf. Gothic fairina; further etymololgy questionable, possibly from ProtoGermanic *ferinō.
Syn: kulpa