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Speaking Beladanese, Chapter IV

by Lexi Summer Hale (@velartrill)

So far, we only know how to talk about yourself, in terms of pronouns. That's a pretty big accomplishment in a language that's as obsessed with status as Beladanese, but it's pretty limiting not to be able to talk about other people with you. Let's start off this chapter by learning how to say "we" and "us" - don't worry, it's nowhere near as complicated.

There are four different ways of saying "we" in Beladanese. The first is cambari. Any woman can use this no matter if she's a slave or a freewoman and no matter who she's talking to or who's in her group. What does matter tho is if the woman speaking means to include the person she's talking to in the "we" - this is what's called "clusivity" in linguistics. When a woman says cambari, what she's really saying is "me and you (and possibly some others)."

That's not very useful if she's accusing someone of slander on behalf of her clan! She'd want to use a word that meant "me and them, but not you," and that's what campende is for. Let's practice these two a bit.

  1. (f) You and me are stealing slaves.
    Cambari tamande cha bostagan.
  2. (f) She and I steal the forest!
    Campende tamande te cambescan!
  3. (f) You, me, and him are fashionable.
    Cambari cardastachem.
  4. (f) Me, him, and her, we have a goat.
    Campende bosta te gabra.

Wait a minute, why are we using these pronouns in (3) and (4)? Aren't they only for women? Actually, we use "campende" and "cambari" whenever we're talking about a group with at least one woman in it - at least, in the formal standard of the language. Actual usage may vary, since women don't lower themselves to take men's dialects particularly seriously. Old Beladanese had a much more complicated paradigm with pronouns for mixed-gender groups, but modern Beladanese is much simpler.

Groups with only men in them use the pronouns "cuarenda" and "cuarande" in the same way as "cambari" and "campende."

  1. (m) Me and you, we're fashionable.
    Cuarenda cardastachem.
  2. (m) Me and him steal goats!
    Cuarande tamande cha gabra!

And that's all there is to first-person plural pronouns in Beladanese! So now we know how to translate "I" and "we" in any context, which is all very well and good if you're a self-centered sort who only ever talks about yourself, but odds are you're going to want to talk about other people too. So let's take a look at second-person pronouns.

Second-person pronouns are how you talk about the person you are talking to. In English, we only have the one - "you". Beladanese, as you probably expected, has severeal. Second-person pronouns in Beladanese are different from first-person pronouns in that you always use the same pronoun for the same person. First-person pronouns are relative, expressing differences in social rank, but second-person pronouns are absolute.

The simplest second-person pronoun is "ras," which you use when you're talking to a freewoman. You would never use it in reference to a man or a slave. Unlike in English, Beladanese second-person pronouns explicitly code number. You only use "ras" when you're talking to exactly one freewoman. If you're talking to more than one, you would say "inganda." Try to translate the examples below, with the new verb mesca to want.

  1. You are fashionable.
    Ras cardastache.
  2. You are on fire.
    Ras puenche.
  3. Y'all are fashionable.
    Inganda cardastachem.
  4. (f) I'm fucking you, friend.
    Is ras parna.
  5. (f) I'm fucking your slave, you wretches.
    Iranda parna te bostagan inganda.
  6. (m) I want you, ma'am.
    Ascarna ras mesca.

If you're talking to a female slave, you use the pronoun "rasuinda." If you're talking to more than one female slave, you use "rasuendi."

  1. (f) I want you, slavegirl.
    Enna rasuinda mesca.
  2. Ascuala bosta te gabra rasuendi.
    I have your goats.
  3. (m) I want you, slavegirls.
    Ascuala rasuendi mesca.
  4. Rasuinda cardastache.
    You are fashionable.

Note that while the translation of (3) above sounds very aggressive in English, this is because of cultural differences and information lost in translation. "Ascuala" is a submissive pronoun, which men are expected to use around family and to female slaves. To a Beladan slave, (3) would be respectful and politely flirtatious. If the man in question substituted "cuala" for "ascuala," the meaning would become much more aggressive, and if he substituted "ascarna" for "ascuala," it would become much more submissive. Beladanese actually has a word, "ascarnache," that refers to a stereotype of a very shy man who uses "ascarna" with everyone, even slaves.

(1) is exactly as aggressive as it sounds, of course, and is the sort of thing that a Beladan freewoman would get in a lot of trouble saying to a slave who wasn't a bedslave or a sex worker whose labor they had already paid for.

If you're talking to a male slave, you use the pronoun "acora," or "aceri" [aˈkeɾi] if you're talking to more than one.

  1. (f) I want you, slaveboy.
    Enna acora mesca.
  2. You are fashionable, slaveboys.
    Aceri cardastachem.
  3. Acora mesca cha cardastachem gabra.
    You want fashionable goats.

Finally, to talk to a freeman, should you ever deign to do so, you would use the pronoun "rachenda," or "raginda" in the plural.

  1. You are fashionable, good sirs.
    Rachenda cardastachem.
  2. (f) She and I want you, dudes.
    Campende raginda mesca.
  3. Cuala bosta cue gabra rachenda.
    Hey man, I have your goats.

And that's all there is to it! Almost. 1PL pronouns have this tidy little rule where you default to the feminine form in mixed-gender groups. 2PL pronouns, unfortunately, do not, and this is where things get really messy. If you're talking to a crowd of slaves and freefolk of all genders, how do say "y'all?" It involves the word chi "and".

You're all fashionable! Rasuendi chi inganda chi aceri chi raginda cardastachem!

That's right, you literally have to say "You and you and you and you are fashionable!" The order of the pronouns is also fixed - you mention female slaves first, then freewomen, then male slaves, then freemen. Nobody is happy about this, and the younger generations are starting to use the word "chichense" [t͡ʃiˈt͡ʃenze] as a 2PL pronoun for mixed groups, but this is still looked on as very informal. It's not likely to be accepted among older generations any time soon.

Finally, we're going to cover one last bit of grammar: how to say "no" in Beladanese.

In English, when we make a verb negative, we use "not" or "don't/doesn't." So the negative of "I eat" is "I don't eat;" the negative of "I am" is "I am not." In Beladanese, we don't have a separate word that means this. Instead, we add a suffix to the verb. Verbs that end in -e take the -ncue suffix; verbs that end in -a take the -ncua suffix. Let's practice making some sentences negative.

  1. Is cardastache. "I am fashionable."
    Is cardastachencue. "I am not fashionable."
  2. Ras puenche. "You are on fire."
    Ras panchencue. "You are not on fire."
  3. Asmari bosta te gabra ras. "I have your goat."
    Asmari bostancua te gabra ras. "I do not have your goat."
  4. Inganda cardastachem. "Y'all are fashionable."
    Inganda cardastachencuem. "Y'all aren't fashionable."
  5. Rasuendi chi aceri bostam cue gabra enna. "You slaves have my goats."
    Rasuendi chi aceri bostancuam cue gabra enna. "You slaves don't have my goats.
  6. Parna te tira is cha gabra. "My uncle fucks goats."
    Parnancua te tira is cha gabra. "My uncle does not fuck goats."
  7. Asmari mesca cha cardastachem gabra. "I want fashionable goats."
    Asmari mescancua cha cardastachem gabra. "I do not want fashionable goats."

Note that in (2) above, we use the pan- stem instead of the puen- stem for "fire." This is another situation where stem-changing verbs use their base form.

That's it for this chapter! Come back next time to learn some more complex clause-embedding strategies!