Spocanian Archives  


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.
Such determinants are part of the predicate in the main clause, while the following subordinate clause is marked as such by a special suffix (SUBORD) after the main verb:

(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  mešanilóme    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 mešane 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)
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.

© Rolandt Tweehuysen
The Netherlands