1. Ithkuil Initial Text


“Âkale Zatqî’asâlgoù”

Tasedhu tu éijvaisente apšařteldhú uţcaetöát.
Ôndasaldhóňg ôčnoezgêêçt hwúp’ai’seza ôxaelöat.
Iùřţ ork airîxhalúi tu erdh epšasořk ta ëitmalòptûňň embatumxe öň ekoltatâlgârçê.
Aičhalûc’ tu draptróq’ ate’s tçi’adhuaňž uţcotuafföňé slötöwa idras te żâ’ôsuams.

English Translation

“A Descent Into Madness”

I’m wasting my life re-enacting weird scenes from my dreams.
I’m hoping to make sense of my mind’s fruitless schemes.
I try over and over to figure out where I belong.
but the maps have been faked and the roadsigns are blurred.
So I’ll make my own rules for living in chaos
and let nightmares be my guides in the dark.

Grammar and Vocabulary

  • Default word order is VSO or VOS. Placement of a noun before the verb gives it semantic focus. Placement of a noun at the beginning of a sentence topicalizes it.
  • Ithkuil nominal formatives (i.e., nouns) mandatorily inflect for eight morphological categories, while verbal formatives (i.e., verbs) mandatorily inflect for 22 categories. However, the majority of these categories are often in their default/baseline modes which are unmarked. In order to simplify the intralinears below, I have not indicated unmarked categories, and for default categories that are marked but do not impact the semantics, I have indicated these by empty brackets [ ].
  • In the intralinears, rather than specifically indicate the Pattern, Stem, and Designation of each root (an Ithkuil root has 2 designations, each of which has 3 patterns, each of which has 3 stems, for a total of 18 stems), I have simply provided the gloss of the resulting stem.
  • Many Ithkuil affixes are portmanteau in nature, i.e., combining many separate morphemes into a single affix. All stems and most affixes are monosyllabic, often even a single phoneme, whether consonant or vowel. In the interlinear analyses below, the multiple morphemes of a portmanteau affix are separated by forward slashes (/) whereas morphemes represented by phonological elements are separated by hyphens.
  • The Ithkuil equivalent to a subordinate clause is called a “case-frame.” The sentence to be subordinated is placed within the main sentence in the same position that a declined noun would be placed, and the verb of the subordinate sentence is placed clause-initially and marked for the same case as that declined noun would be marked. Additionally, the verb is marked for FRAMED Relation to indicate the start of a case-frame. Usually, if the subordinated sentence is not at the end of the main sentence, then a suffix indicating the end of the case-frame is placed on the last word of the subordinated sentence to indicate that the next word returns to the main sentence.
  • Ithkuil allows for stem incorporation; a word-stem can be incorporated with a primary stem to create a single word. The semantic relationship of the incorporated stem to the main stem is described by a word-final vocalic suffix.
  • Suffixes that take degree markers from 1 to 9 (e.g., COO1/2) can also be used as autonomous words without being suffixed to a noun or verb (i.e., they become like clitics), conveying the same basic meaning as the suffix.
  • The various abbreviations used for the grammatical categories are explained following the intralinears, along with a description of the particular category. Note that many Ithkuil morphological categories bear names (e.g. ABSOLUTIVE) from traditional linguistic terminology but do not correspond exactly in usage to the traditional term.

Âkale Zatqî’asâlgoù

STA-‘descent”-[OBL]-[ ]-RPS STA-inc.stem:‘mind’-main.stem:’feeling.of.”inner.balance”’-ALL-PRX-OPF2/5-AFI/AMG

Tasedhu tu éijvaisente apšařteldhú uţcaetöát STA-‘be.alive’-[OBL]-PRX-EFI1/3-AMG 1m-IND DYN/FRAMED-‘enact’-INS-PRX-ITN1/3-RPS STA-‘act/action’-OBL-U/CPN-SEN1/3-AMG STA-‘dream’-OGN-U-1m/ATT

Ôndasaldhóňg ôčnoezgêêçt hwúp’ai’sez ôxaelöat STA-‘conclude.from.analysis’-[OBL]-PRX-SEN1/5-MD321/7 STA-‘object.of.one’s.intention.or.diligence’-REF-PRX/U/ASO/CST INE-STA/FRAMED-‘seek.to.accomplish’-COR-PRX-TPR1/3 STA-‘image.in.one’s.mind’-OGN-[ ]-ATT/1m

Iùřţ ork airîxhalúi tu erdh epšasořk ta
MD043/5 SCS1/7 DYN-inc.stem:’use.reason’-main.stem:‘know.fact’-[OBL]-[ ]-ISR/FNC 1m-IND STA-‘manifest/be’-[OBL]-PRX-MD091/7 1m-OBL

ëitmalòptûňň embatumxe öň ekoltatâlgârçê
MNF-‘formal.representation’-[OBL]-[ ]-REA2/7-CTR1/6 STA-‘geographical.area’-OBL-U-DPT1/9-RPS STA-inc.stem:‘course/route’- main.stem:‘written.message’-OBL-U-OPF2/5-MLR2/5-ATH/RPS

aičhalûc’ tu draptróq’ ate’s tçi’adhuaňž DYN-‘fashion/create’-[OBL]-DIR-SQC1/6 1m/IND [STA]-‘rule’-RPV/PRX/U/COA/CPN-DSR1/7 STA-‘be.alive’-PUR-PRX STA-‘instance.of.spacetime’-CNR-PRX/N-DSG2/1

uţcotuafföňé slötöwa idras te żâ’ôsuams STA-‘dream’-ERG-U-PLE2/1-COO1/2-RPS ENB1/2-1mEFF DYN-‘guide’-[OBL]-PRX 1mABS





1m = First person monadic; the equivalent to the pronoun “I” ABD1/3 = a suffix meaning “the setting where … / the place where…”

ABS = ABSOLUTIVE case, used to identify the patient of an act(ion) initiated by an agent who is other than the patient him-/her- /itself.

AFI = AFFINITIVE format: appears in words containing an incorporated stem; indicates that the incorporated stem is associated with, or acts in conjunction with the primary stem.

AGN2/1 = a suffix meaning “with the anticipated maximum resulting effect possible” / “to the maximum effect possible”. Furthermore, this is a Type-2 suffix, indicating that the resulting concept constitutes a new gestalt entity which almost always triggers a lexical change when translating into English. E.,g., “to eat” + AGN2/1 = “to stuff oneself”

ALL = ALLATIVE case: indicates the the direction/destination of motion or a motive action
AMG = AMALGAMATIVE context: signifies that the state/act/event as a whole has profound implications personally, socially, philosophically

and/or psychologically, to the extent that one’s “world” is changed.

ASO = ASSOCIATIVE affiliation; indicates that the particular noun/verb serves a specific purpose or is being spoken of in a context associated with human purposes, benefits, goals, designs, etc.

ATH = AUTHORITIVE format: appears in words containing an incorporated stem and indicates that the incorporated stem specifies the entity of/for which the primary stem is the indirect/enabling cause or derivational source.

ATT = ATTRIBUTIVE case: used to refer to a noun which inalienably experiences the effects of, or otherwise has an affective (i.e., unwilled or involuntary) relationship with another noun, either as a temporary or permanent attribute, characteristic, or experience, whether physical or psychological, objective or subjective in nature. Examples: his pain, Mother’s guilt, the child’s cough, Dorothy’s mood, Davey’s happiness, the teacher’s stubbornness, my needs.

CNR = CONCURSIVE case: serves as a “temporal locative” signifying the beginning and ending boundaries of time during or at which an act, state, or event occurs, the whole of which being considered a single contextual situation. Examples of usage would be He prays during lunch, She studied hard last night, I won’t visit until then (i.e., during that period in time).

COA = COALESCENT affiliation: COALESCENT affiliation indicates that the members of a configurational set share in a complementary relationship with respect to their individual functions, states, purposes, benefits, etc. This means that, while each member’s function is distinct from those of other members, each serves in furtherance of some greater unified role.

COO1/2 = a suffix/clitic meaning “and / also / and furthermore”

COR = CORRELATIVE case. Among the many different functions of this case in Ithkuil, it is used in conjunction with FRAMED relation to create a “shortcut” way of creating a case-frame equivalent to a simple relative clause, e.g., “…that/which X” often in conjunction with DSC Function as an equivalent to applying a descriptive adjective to a head noun in English.

CPN = COMPONENTIAL configuration: indicates a grouping or set of the basic stem units, the individual members of which are physically dissimilar or non-identical and are either in physical contact with one another, physically connected via some linking medium, or in sufficiently close contact with one another so that the group moves or operates together. except that the individual members of the configurational set are not physically similar or identical to each other. Examples of English words/entities which would be translated using the COMPONENTIAL are a freight train, a cascade of (mixed) fruit (i.e., a continuous stream of fruit falling), a line of ticketholders, a parade of floats, a pattern of musical notes.

CST = COMPOSITE configuration; indicates that the stem is to be re-interpreted as comprising a composite entity of non-identical members consolidated together into a single segmented whole; the total configuration of objects constitutes an entirely new gestalt- like entity usually requiring a lexical change when translating into English. E.g., “musical note” + CST = “melody”.

CTR1/6 = a suffix equivalent to the English conjunction “but” in indicating a contrasting qualification to a previous phrase.

DIR = DIRECTIVE illocution; equivalent to the imperative mood of English and other Indo-European languages,

commanding/directing the addressee to be or do something.

DPT1/9 = a suffix meaning “a map/blueprint/schematic diagram of . . . ”

DSG2/1 = a suffix meaning “purposeless(ly) /random(ly) / utterly unorganized / chaotic(ally)”. Also: this is a Type-2 suffix, indicating that the resulting concept constitutes a new gestalt entity which almost always triggers a lexical change when translating into English. E.,g., “travel” + DSG2/1 = “wander”

DSR1/7 = a suffix meaning “one’s own, one’s private…, one’s personal . . .”

DYN = DYNAMIC function, indicating that the verb indicates an action or causal event, rather than a non-causal state

EFF = EFFECTUATIVE case: identifies the noun acting in the semantic role of ENABLER, the noun which initiates a causal chain of events, ultimately resulting in a final event. An example would be pulling out the plug of a filled bathtub thereby causing it to empty. This case should therefore be carefully distinguished from the ERGATIVE case. Ergatively marked nouns imply that the action undergone by the patient is the same action directly initiated by the agent, whereas EFFECTUATIVE nouns imply a chain or series of cause-and-effect actions. For example, in the Ithkuil translation of the sentence The clown emptied the blood from the tub, the clown could be marked either as an AGENT by means of the ERGATIVE case, or as an ENABLER using the EFFECTUATIVE case. The former would mean the clown poured out the blood himself, while the latter would mean he let it drain (i.e., by pulling the plug). Such case distinctions eliminate the need for Ithkuil to have separate verbs for ‘to drain,’ ‘to pour’ or ‘to empty.’ The Ithkuil verb used in translating the sentence would simply mean ‘to remove.’

EFI1/3 = a suffix meaning “wasteful / accomplishing little; to waste one’s time doing…”

ENB1/2 = a suffix meaning “by granting of permission” – often used with the EFF case to indicate the means of enablement

ERG = ERGATIVE case, identifying the agent of a causal verb, where the agent is a different party than the patient who undergoes the result of the verb.

FNC = FUNCTIONAL Context focuses on those features of a noun/verb that are defined socially by ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, convention, cultural status, use, function, benefit, etc. It serves to identify not what a noun/verb existentially is/does, but to convey subjective contextual meaning, relevance or purpose. For example, the sentence “There’s a dog on the porch” in the FUNCTIONAL indicates more than a mere static description of a scene, but rather implies that the scene has a subjective impact/purpose, e.g., that the speaker has a phobia of dogs, or because he’s been awaiting the return home of his lost dog, etc.

FRAMED indicates that the word is the initial verb of a case-frame, the Ithkuil equivalent to a subordinate clause (see Helpful Notes section above).

IND = INDUCIVE noun case, identifying the initiator of an agential action in which the agent and the patient are the same entity, i.e., the patient of a self-initiated action

INE = INCOMPLETIVE Version, indicates that the verb represents an act or action that fails to succeed or be, e.g., “enlarge” + INE _“fail to enlarge”

INS = INSTRUMENTAL case, identifying the means or instrument by which something happens or is done.

ISR = INSTRUMENTATIVE format: a suffix appearing in verbs having an incorporated stem. INSTRUMENTATIVE format indicates that the incorporated stem specifies the means, cause, or instrument of causation of the primary stem, so that the sentence I clubbed him would be translated by incorporating the stem for ‘club’ into the stem for ‘hit/beat’ plus the INSTRUMENTATIVE format, rendering a sentence literally translatable as I club-hit him or I club-beat him [= I hit/beat him with a club].

ITN1/3 = a suffix meaning “again and again / keep X-ing over and over [focus on habit, not periodicity]” LOC = LOCATIVE case, identifying the location of something or where something takes place.

MD043/5 = suffix meaning ” attempted, attempt at a …; try to, attempt to”. Furthermore, this is a Type-3 suffix, indicating that it is not to be applied to the word as a whole, but only to the adjacent suffix.

MD091/7 = suffix meaning “expected; be supposed to” MD321/7 = suffix meaning “hoped-for; hope/wish to”

MLR2/5 = suffix meaning “illustration/picture/graphic representation explaining X”. Furthermore, this is a Type-2 suffix, indicating that the resulting concept constitutes a new gestalt entity which almost always triggers a lexical change when translating into English. E.,g., “written message” + MLR2/5 = “(instructional) sign/placque”

MNF = MANIFESTIVE function: indicates that the verb represents a manifestion or naming of the identity of a specific entity; this is the nearest equivalent to the X=Y “be” copula of identification in Western languages, as in She is a manager, That man is secretly a clown, Dogs are mammals, Mrs. Beasly is a fat crone.

N = NOMIC perspective: refers to a generic collective entity or archetype, containing all members or instantiations of a configurative set throughout space and time (or within a specified spatio-temporal context). Since it is all members being spoken of, and no individual members in particular. For nouns, the NOMIC corresponds approximately to the several constructions used for referring to collective nouns in English, as seen in the sentences The dog is a noble beast, Clowns are what children love most, There is nothing like a tree.

With verbs, the NOMIC designates an action, event, or situation which describes a general law of nature or a persistently true condition or situation spoken of in general, without reference to a specific instance or occurrence of the activity (it is, in fact, all possible instances or occurrences that are being referred to). English has no specialized way of expressing such generic statements, generally using the simple present tense. Examples of usage would be The sun doesn’t set on our planet, Mr. Okotele is sickly, In winter it snows a lot, That girl sings well.

OBL = OBLIQUE case, identifying a non-causal participant or referent, including the subject of a stative (non-dynamic) verb or the non-causal third-party “theme” of what in English are tri-valent verbs.

OGN = ORIGINATIVE case: identifies a noun as being the literal or figurative source of another, or which is the native location, origin, or usual locational context for another. , e.g., the man’s story (i.e., the one he told), our gift (i.e., the one we are giving), water from the river, the fruit of the tree, Fix the kitchen sink! (i.e. the one found in the kitchen), Desert rocks are so beautiful (i.e., whether being spoken about rocks taken from the desert or rocks still present in the desert), Northern women are easy-going.

OPF2/5 = a suffix meaning “something wrong with X, not functioning properly, something not right with X”. Furthermore, this is a Type-2 suffix, indicating that the resulting concept constitutes a new gestalt entity which almost always triggers a lexical change when translating into English. E.,g., “living figure / physical being” + OPF2/5 = “monster/monstrosity”

PLE2/1 = a suffix meaning “maximally unpleasant, horrible, ghastly, terrible”. Furthermore, this is a Type-2 suffix, indicating that the resulting concept constitutes a new gestalt entity which almost always triggers a lexical change when translating into English. E.,g., “pain” + PLE2/1 = “agony”

PRX = PROXIMAL Extension. For verbs, PROXIMAL indicates that the beginning and/or end of the verbal event/state/act and/or how long it has been going on is either unknown or irrelevant; only a portion of the whole act/state/event at hand is contextually important.

PUR = PURPOSIVE case: identifies a noun which characterizes or defines the purpose of, or reason for, another noun. The PURPOSIVE is subtly distinct from the APPLICATIVE above, in that the latter names the actual use to which a noun is put on a given occasion or in given context, whereas the PURPOSIVE defines another noun’s general function or primary reason for being, outside of any contextual instance, i.e., what the noun is used for all the time (or at least its intended use). It generally translates English ‘as,’ ‘of’ or ‘for’ when meaning ‘for the purpose of’ or alternately an English noun-noun expression or a compound noun. Examples of usage would be a coffee cup, a toolbox, a litter box, a trashcan.

REA2/7 = a suffix meaning “fake / pretend / mock; pretend to, fake X-ing”

REF = REFERENTIAL noun case, identifying the noun or verbal phrase about or concerning which, i.e., “about X; concerning X; regarding X’

RPS = REPRESENTATIONAL context: indicates that the word is being used as a metaphor
RPV = REPRESENTATIVE essence: indicates the word is being used in an irrealis, imaginary or potential context, i.e., that it does not refer to an actual tangible instance of something, but rather is being considered only in an imaginary or potential sense. SCS1/7 = a suffix indicating an intention brought to reality, e.g., “…and so I’m going to” or “…and so I did”. SEN1/3 = a suffix meaning “weird / odd”
SEN1/5 = a suffix meaning “normal / typical / not unusual or odd in any way / sensible / . . . makes sense”

SQC1/6 = a suffix meaning “therefore / based on the preceding . . . / as a result . . .”

STA = STATIVE function, indicating that the verb is stative (i.e., non-dynamic, non-causal) identifying a state rather than an action. Also the default function applied to all nouns.

TPR1/3 = a suffix meaning “upon further consideration/upon reflection”

U = UNBOUNDED perspective, has different interpretations depending on whether it is applied to a noun or a verb. With nouns, it is more-or-less the equivalent to the plural, indicating more than one of an entity. With verbs, in the absence of any additional aspect marking, it is more or less equivalent to past tense.