FOUR FEATURES OF SPOCANIAN GRAMMAR
A brief introduction
Spocanian grammar is a rather complicated matter, with lots of irregularities and exceptions, not unlike the majority of other natural languages. It is often thought that Spocanian has been created as another auxiliary language (like Esperanto), but it was always my intention to construct a language that is as 'natural' as possible. This is the reason why it could never exist within a void: it needs to be used in a 'real' world, even though an imaginary one.
West-Spocanian (or simply Spocanian) is not an Indo-Germanic language, though there is possibly some Indo-Germanic influence. What is more, the language has a few typical syntactic features that are not found in other known languages, for instance a tense system expressed by way of different constituent orders, not by verbal morphology. This is illustrated in (1).
(1) neutral tense Jân stinde eft letra. John write a letter John writes/is writing a letter. past tense Jân eft letra stinde. John a letter write John wrote a letter; J. has written a letter. future tense Stinde Jân eft letra. write John a letter John will write a letter.Another typical feature is the use of the so-called Resultative, a case expressing that the referent of a noun 'no longer exists', i.e. animates are usually dead, while inanimates have been destroyed, though lexicalized interpretations are possible too.
The Resultative (RS) is basically expressed by shifting the penultimate stress to the last syllable. This is orthographically shown in the doubling of the consonant immediately after the stressed vowel. In addition, monosyllabic words take a suffix. A few examples are given in (2) and (3).
(2) Ef 'jan tôrte ef chat. > Ef 'jan tôrte ef chatte. The boy kicks the cat. The boy kicks the cat to death. (3) Eup ef sejis tânpe. > Eup ef sejiss tânpe. she the dish drop she the dish-RS drop She dropped the dish. She dropped the dish to smithereens.In (3), the past tense is expressed by the inverted order Object~Verb.
A third example of a syntactic rule unknown in Indo-Germanic languages
is the following: Spocanian has so-called determinants, expressing
the relation between the main and subordinate clause.
(4) Do ma tinde fesért, ef bidalilóme. he REASON stays home, it rains-SUBORD He is staying home, as it is raining.The determinant ma expresses a 'reason', and the suffix -ilóme indicates that ef bidale (it is raining) is a subordinate clause. Another example:
(5) Tu ny hurtiyrât, tu meanilóme kiygt. you NEG.RESULT hurry-must, you arrive-SUBORD late You must hurry, so as not to be late.The determinant ny expresses a 'negative result' (translated as 'so as not to'); in Spocanian, the modality expressed by 'must' has an equivalent with the suffix -ât.
If there are subordinate clauses before the main clause, or if the main clause is lacking, then it is possible to use a conjunction in Spocanian too. Compare (4) and (5) with:
(4') Do tinde fesért mitulanis? - Janof ef bidale. he stays home why - because it rains Why is he staying home? - Because it is raining. (5') Fittof tu nert meane kiygt, tu hurtiyrât. in-order you not arrive late, you hurry-must In order not to be late, you will have to hurry.Note that the determinant ny (so as not to) does not have a conjunctive equivalent, but that we have to combine the conjunction fittof (in order to) with the negation nert (not).
Finally, a fourth feature by which Spocanian distinguishes itself from (most) other languages. Spocanian has two different passive forms: in the accusative-passive (A.PASS), the object is promoted to grammatical subject; in the dative-passive (D.PASS), the indirect object is promoted to grammatical subject. The two passives are distinguished by different verbal suffixes. Compare:
(6) Miko kette ef mimpit ón Leta. Miko gives the book to Leta. (7) Ef mimpit kettelije pai Miko ón Leta. the book give-A.PASS by Miko to Leta The book is given by Miko to Leta. (8) Leta kettelitâ pai Miko enn ef mimpit. Leta give-D.PASS by Miko OBJ the book Leta is given the book by Miko.Note that in (8) the object (ef mimpit) is marked by enn. In principle, subject, object en indirect object are always marked by the determinants (not prepositions!) pai, enn and ón. In active sentences (like (6)) the object marker enn is usually omitted, yet in passive constructions like (8) it is essential.
Also passives like (7) and (8) can be put in the past or future tense by way of a change in word order:
(7') Ef mimpit pai Miko kettelije ón Leta. the book by Miko give-A.PASS to Leta The book was/has been given by Miko to Leta. (past tense: verb after the second constituent) (8') Kettelitâ Leta pai Miko enn ef mimpit. give-D.PASS Leta by Miko OBJ the book To Leta the book will be given by Miko. (future tense: verb in first position) Etc.The passive endings -lije and -litâ have the variants -ilomije and -ilomitâ, which also serve as subordinate clause markers. Compare (4) with:
(9) Do ma tinde fesért, blul dôxilomije ef bidalos. he REASON stays home, it expect-PASS.SUBORD the rain He stays/is staying home because rain is expected.The suffixes -ilomije en -ilomitâ are in fact fusions of -ilóme + -lije resp.
-ilóme + -litâ.
SPOOKSOLIY ÂRGEFF 16.10.2000
© Rolandt Tweehuysen