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Speaking Beladanese, Chapter II

by Lexi Summer Hale (@velartrill)

Time to learn some new words so you can discuss high fashion and dead goats with all your high-society friends! The first new word is cardastache "be fashionable" and it's pronounced [kaɖasˈtat͡ʃe].

But oh no - there's a new symbol here! And what happened to the r, anyway? Well, as it turns out, Beladans have a habit of running certain sounds together. For the last few centuries, the letter ‹r› has tended to disappear when it's near a compatible consonant, and it changes that consonant instead of being pronounced itself. The Beladan ‹rd› sound is just like ‹d› except you curl your tongue up behind your upper teeth a little. This may sound strange, but if you say [aɾde] fast enough a few times, you'll start to see why - it's really very easy to run those sounds together and produce what we call a retroflex consonant

Beladanese has a few of these sounds: ‹rd› = [ɖ], ‹rt› = [ʈ], ‹rs› = [ʂ], ‹rch› = [ʈ͡ʂ], and rl = [ɭ]. But you shouldn't have to memorize all of these - just remember that when you see an ‹r› next to another consonant, don't pronounce the ‹r›, just roll your tongue up behind your teeth and pronounce the next consonant.

Phew! Now that we've got that out of the way, let's try some exercises with last chapter's vocabulary and the word we just learned. Try to pronounce all of these!

  1. The tree is fashionable.
    Cardastache te cambe.
  2. Cardastache te tira is.
    My uncle is fashionable.
  3. My mother is fashionable.
    Cardastache te ar is.

Now you might be starting to notice something odd. Beladanese has all these verbs that mean things we express in English as adjectives. We say something "is fashionable" or "is on fire," but the Beladans just say "cardastache" or "puenche," just like any other verb. That's because Beladanese doesn't have adjectives! Everything that we express as an adjective in English, the Beladans just have a verb for.

You might also have noticed that "cardastache" and "puenche" have the same ending - "che". There's actually a reason for this! "(a)che" is a special suffix that turns a noun into a verb. "cardastache" is really "cardast-ache," and "puenche" is really "pan-che". (We only use the "ache" form when the word would be hard to pronounce otherwise.) "cardast" means "fashion" and "pan" (why not "puen?" we'll get to that soon!) means "fire", and we turn these into descriptive verbs by tacking on "(a)che".

Let's try using these rules to figure out new verbs from roots you already know.

  1. I am maternal.
    Is arche.
  2. Mother is avuncular (uncle-like).
    Tirache te ar.
  3. Uncle's daughter is girly.
    Falche te fal tira.
  4. The tree is arboreal.
    Cambeche te cambe.

The meaning isn't always totally predictable, but in general if you have a noun and need a word that describes that noun, you can just stick "(a)che" on the end and you'll have a perfectly serviceable verb.

Now, so far all the nouns we've seen have been singular. Singular nouns are all fine and good, but when you're talking about what's fashionable or not, it helps to be able to talk about more than one thing at a time. In Beladanese, this is what determiners are for. So far, we've only learned one determiner, te, which carries the sense of "one single thing." The next determiner to learn is cue, which is just the same as te but tells you you're talking about more than one thing. It's pronounced [kwe], like in the English word "walkway."

Now let's try some examples. Here's a new verb to use: hacara "to rule" [haˈkaɾa].

  1. I rule the trees.
    Is hacara cue cambe.
  2. My mother rules my uncles.
    Hacara te ar is cue tira is.
  3. Parna te fal cue cambe.
    The girl's fucking the trees.

You may have noticed something funny about these examples - we always used a singular noun in the subject position. There's a reason for that. Plurals are a little bit more complicated in Beladanese than just trading out one word - there are some rules for verbs too. For most verbs, it's pretty simple: if the subject (which is Beladanese is always the first argument) is plural, you stick a -m on the end. Let's give it a try.

  1. My mother is fashionable.
    Cardastache te ar is.
  2. My mothers are fashionable.
    Cardastachem cue ar is.
  3. The tree is on fire.
    Puenche te cambe.
  4. The trees are on fire.
    Panchem cue cambe.

Uh oh! Now what's going on? There's something screwy with puenche - why isn't it "puenchem?" Well, this is where things get tricky. The word puenche comes from isn't "puen" but pan, as we pointed out earlier, and pan is a stem-changing word, which means that in certain circumstances, the -a- in the middle is swapped out with something else. There's a whole class of words in Beladanese that work like this - it's a remnant of a much more complicated declension and conjugation system in Old Beladanese. Luckily, we don't have to deal with that - but we do have to deal with the mess it left behind.

So, here's the rule. Pan is a ue-stem word. That means when we have a verb in the singular present tense, we swap out the -a- for a -ue-. But when we have a plural, it goes back to its old stem - the -a-. All ue-stem words work just like this - the only problem is, you can't tell at a glance if a word is ue-stem or not.

There's one more rule for ue-stem nouns. The word for fire is pan but you might still see puen used sometimes, in phrases like hanagan puen "physicist". That's because stem-changing words are all that's left of the Old Beladanese declension system, and pan still changes to puen in special circumstances. The main time this happens is when we make a possessive construction like we went over in the last chapter. So when we say "I'm fucking the fire," we just say "Is parna te pan," but if "fire" is part of something else, like in "physicist," then we say Is parna te hanagan puen "I'm fucking the phycisist." In linguistic terms, the stem variation codes the genitive case of stem-changing nouns, which is unmarked in most nouns.

Okay, phew. Let's try something more fun: talking about dead goats.

You may recall from earlier that Beladanese doesn't have adjectives. The way we say "dead" is to use the verb corde, but if it's not an adjective, how do we use it to describe a noun? We can say Cordem cue gabra "The goats are dead," but what if we wanted to say "dead goats are fashionable?"

As it turns out, Beladanese has a special trick that makes this super easy! You can take any verb and stick it after a determiner in a noun phrase to mean "the thing that does this." Let's look at some examples.

  1. te hacara ar
    the ruling mother, the mother who rules
  2. cue cordem gabra
    the dead goats
  3. cue panchem cambe
    the trees that are on fire
  4. te parna fal
    the girl who fucks
  5. the girly uncle
    te falche tira
  6. my fashionable tree
    te cardastache cambe is
  7. uncle's dead trees
    cue cordem cambe tira
  8. the arboreal elf
    te cambeche hali

See how this works? Now at long last, we can put together the sentence you've been waiting for.

Cardastachem cha cordem gabra. "Dead goats are fashionable."

Wait, what? Cha? Where did this come from!? Well, as it turns out, there's one more determiner we need to learn. You can only use cue when you're talking about some particular, distinct thing. In English, we use the indefinite plural when we're talking about things in general - "cats are cute," "men are pigs," "martians are the number one threat to America" - but this is actually very unusual. Most languages use the definite singular - in Spanish, we don't say "los gatos son hermosos" unless we're talking about particular cats - instead, we say something like "el gato es un animal hermoso." And in Beladanese, we need to use a special determiner. That's where cha comes in. Note that we still use plural markers on the verbs!

For the next exercise, don't worry about the verbs and nouns - just decide whether you should use cha or cue in each case.

  1. The uncles are fashionable.
    Cardastachem cue tira.
  2. Uncles are fashionable people.
    Cardastachem cha tira.
  3. Elves are stealing our men, you know.
    Tamandem cha hali cha corma cambari.
  4. Those elves over there, they're running off with our husbands!
    Tamandem cue hali cue tigal cambari.

As you can tell, there isn't always a smooth translation between English and Beladanese - some of the things Beladanese expresses grammatically, you can only express through context in English. That's why literal translations don't always work - it's too easy to miss important information.

That's enough for this chapter. Come back for Chapter III when you're ready to learn how to talk about people besides yourself, your uncles, and your mothers!