6. Semkanya Text


Standard Register

(as pronounced, reformed redakùn spelling)

Kadaväxhetùs Dëhagu Kemùlan

Tizi amegÿtadoda. Ëhùnùszai xhyu estimadora. Tizi sùkyu nukakai akabzexhatev sônzatora. Tilkai ÿmexhekatevzi tilkai dissirekzi gandýnek til annaihëxënashai tizai omoxhekbadetaz kemùlekara. Dissireknai äxhkëtorän shiru allekelanek kemùlänvai tizai sùkyu omoxhekkai ýränzi jethônitora. Vem omoxhekzi tôronai kuryänvai tilkai katäxhzi mirëxashai kanùxhzai tilanek kurakara. Akabzëbadkai oharùxhzi asanu kahùyùxhzi vem omoxhenatevkai annainzi asabadu môragômäxh jethônäxëra.


Textbook Register

(for teaching children to read)

Kadav.äxh.etùs Dëhag.(n)u Kemùl.a.n

Ti.zi amega.ÿt.a.do.da. Ë.(h).ùnùs.zai xhy.(n)u estim.a.do.ra. Ti.zi sùky.(n)u nuka.kai akabzë.äxh.atev sônz.a.to.ra. Ti.(e)l.kai ÿmexh.ek.atev.zi ti.(e)l.kai dissir.ek.zi gandi.anek ti.(e)l annai.(h).ë.xë.na.shai ti.zai omô.äxh.ek.bad.etaz kemùl.e.ka.ra. Dissir.ek.nai äxh.këtorä.n shir.(n)u al.(e)l.ek.el.anek kemùl.ä.n.vai ti.zai sùky.(n)u omô.äxh.ek.kai ýr.ä.n.zi jethôn.i.to.ra. Vem omô.äxh.ek.zi tôro.nai kurai.ä.n.vai ti.(e)l.kai kata.äxh.zi mir.ë.xa.shai kanu.axh.zai ti.(e)l,anek kur.a.ka.ra. Akabzë.bad.kai oharu.äxh.zi asa.nu kahùyu.äxh.zi vem omô.äxh.en.atev.kai annai.(e)n.zi asa.bad.(n)u môra.gôm.äxh jethôn.ä.xë.ra.


English Translation

Descending into Madness

I awaken! You go quickly. I have always lived for today. In my dreams, I pursue grand visions – go wherever my dreams lead me. I follow them, and don’t get what I desire, but I know my ability to imagine was everything. I try to see my path, but melancholy turns toward me. Now, in the end, only one thing scares me: that the guide living in my mind is entirely evil.


Grammar and Vocabulary

  • Concepts and terms crucial to the translation exercise are bulleted.

Semkanya is the hegemonic language of the Antimony Empire (Semkakai Vaihadetexh), in a setting described as “on another world, in another dimension, 15,500 years from now.” It’s descended from a technical dialect of Japanese, and has co-evolved in a sprachebund with east Siberian dialects of Russian. It’s used extensively in the novel Crimson Darkness (Venusworld, Volume 1).

The language is left-branching, and its sentences follow a relatively inflexible SOV word order. Fronting can bring direct and indirect objects to the beginning of a sentence, making them of paramount importance. Typically, the subject and object consist of one or more noun phrases, with free-standing modulatives stacked before each stem-grouping, followed by the assembled case structure. The verb phrase always comes last, beginning with modulatives before the stem, followed by the assembled tense structure. For this exercise, grammar is used less ambiguously than usual. Pronouns are uncommon, so appear here mainly for clarity.

  • Semkanya does not have grammatical gender. When required topically it has to be rendered using mammalian sexual terminology. The words xihen (man) and xahen (woman) contain anatomical root morphemes considered vulgar in English.

The exercise text is in a Romanization of Reformed Redakùn spelling. It’s generally phonetic, but the diacritical marks are meant to replicate matres lectionis in the redakùn alphabet, and some letter combinations have special uses: ä (cat), ë (whey), ï (ur), ô (pot). ù (put), y (eye), ý (yah), ÿ (fünf), xh (an aspirated rough breathing), h (glide character for linking vowels, acts as either a w-glide [after o, u] or y-glide [after a, e, i]).

Affixes blend into their surroundings according to some complex rules, including apocope, h-apenthesis, vowel coloring, and diacritical diphthongization. This is reflected in Standard Register. If there is any confusion, consult the Textbook Register to see what is happening. Gemmination is non-grammatical and can be ignored. The language is weakly stress accented and has moraic timing.


  1. The Verb System

The structure of the verb phrase:


Note everything is in some sense optional, but you will usually see root plus at least one affix.

a) Tense: 

Time Evidentiality Infix
past unwitnessed ï
past witnessed i
present supposed ä
present known a
future indefinite ë
future definite e


b) Participle: Participles are indicated by the infix -n- in all tenses. In addition, verbs are changed to nouns by representing them in the known-present participle, thus roughly like an English gerund.


c) Aspect:

Type Meaning Infix
emphatic shall ka
intentive will xa
resultative was done
conditional could/would
subjunctive might
perfective done/instantaneous do
continuitive ongoing to


d) Mood:

Type Meaning Infix
infinitive to do an act -(v)s
indicative statement -ra
interrogative question -në
imperative determinate command -ta
optative optional command -na
excitative exclamation/emotion -da


  1. The Modulative System

Modulatives are unbound morphemes which stack before stems they modify in noun and verb phrases.

a) Determinatives: answer questions as to the specificity of a noun or verb phrase, such as this or that one, which one, why, how, how many, how much.

  • examples:

Vem = the, that, those, etc.

Jarth = a, an, some, etc.


b) Adnomials: Describe the qualities of a noun or verb stem, taking the place of adjectives and adverbs. They usually stack between the determinative and the modal. Most adnomials take the magic suffix –(n)u, which will adnomialize any stem morpheme. In addition, adnomials can form compounds with other stems, as bound morphemes. Thus, sanu sar (a white-colored plain) and sanasar (whiteplain).


c) modals: Unbound morphemes which indicate the modality of a phrase, or sentence. Not used in the exercise.

Type Meaning Morpheme
reportative rumor, hearsay ôm
inferential inference, guess vidë
optative wish xhäl
dubitative doubt thë
interrogative questioning data är


d) Modulative Affixes: These are a special class of modulatives which, while available in the inventory of adnomials, are most usually seen as affixes to unbound morphemes and morpheme bundles (i.e., words). It is characteristic of these affixes that they cause vowel coloring as well as h-apenthesis and some apocope.

  • examples:

Äxh- = not

-(ä)xh = thing

-(e)n = being, person


Flatomodulatives are used to magnify or diminish root words in some way.

  • examples:

-bad = inflate

-rän = deflate

-tor = conflate

-sen = deflate

-(e)k = plural


Archaic cases are found in the combined objective case (dative and accusative) for pronouns, adding –(e)l. Genitives of pronouns add –kai to the objective case.

  • examples:

ti = I, til = me, tilkai = my

tik = we, tikel = us, tikelkai = our

ë = you, ël = you, ëlkai = your


  1. The Noun System

a) Standard Cases: The ergative -zai is only used once in a given sentence, if at all, connecting main subject to main direct object. For example:

“I broke the window.” I is ergative

“I went bankrupt.” I is nominative.

  • -zi (nominative), -zai (ergative), -nai (accusative), -ni (dative), and –kai (genitive) are used in the exercise.
Class Type Infix Meaning
subjective nominative zi subject of noun phrase other than main transitive actor
subjective ergative zai actor of main transitive verb against main accusative
objective accusative nai direct object [ilpadùr form –(e)l]
objective dative ni indirect object [ilpadùr form –(e)l]
possessive genitive kai possessor’s possession
possessive compositive kùhi made up of
possessive benefactive for the benefit of, use of, for purpose of
associative instrumental (ä)xh by means of (apocope drives vowel coloring)
associative sociative in association with, collaborative
associative comitative de with, in companionship, mutually
prolative motivative because of actor (I did this because…)
prolative resultative ze because of action (this happened because…)
prolative evaluative understood to be, thought to be
prolative translative le turned into a


b) Conjunctive Cases: As with other cases, conjunctives can be stacked rightwards from the stem to achieve the necessary meaning. Uniquely, conjunctives will accept a private äxh- modulative affix to reverse or semantically shade their meaning. Note that Semkanya has no subordinating conjunction equivalent. This function is usually absorbed periphrastically by locative and/or instrumental cases.

  • The exercise uses –shai (and), -vai (but)
Type Meaning Infix Conjunction Äxh-
coordinating contrast shai and and not
coordinating exception vai but but not
coordinating alternative jai or nor
coordinating reconsideration zai yet otherwise
coordinating consequence thai so maybe so
correlating contrasting alternative shä either/or neither/nor
correlating inclusive/exclusive alternative both neither
correlating selective/exclusive list any none
correlating exclusive/selective list only not only
correlating inclusive/selective list thä all some


c) Locative Cases: There are twenty-eight locative cases in Semkanya which take the place of most prepositions, and stack rightwards from noun stems, as needed. Locatives are disyllabic –(v)cvc in form, with apocope applying vowel coloration. The table separates the case name prefix from its stem and suffix to simplify construction of the cases.

  • Note that Semkanya has lost its temporal locatives, so these have to be constructed from spatial locatives using adnomials to clarify meaning.
  • The exercise uses:

-ùnùs        apudlative            leaving vicinity of a spot

-atev          inessive               inside a hollow object/concept

-anek          adallative             going towards

-etaz           preablative           leaving from beside a spot

Infix ev ùs az ek
Prefix Essive Lative Ablative Allative Meaning
at In- atev atùs ataz atek in object
et Cont- etev etùs etaz etek in group
äd Super- ädev ädùs ädaz ädek on horizontal
ëd Sub- ëdev ëdùs ëdaz ëdek under horizontal
an Ad- anev anùs anaz anek at spot
ùn Apud- ùnev ùnùs ùnaz ùnek near spot
ët Pre- ëtev ëtùs ëtaz ëtek beside vertical
Meaning at position to destination from origin towards direction


Coordinate meanings of Locatives: 

Locative Case Meaning
inessive inside a hollow object/concept
contessive inside or among a group
superessive above or on top of something
subessive below or under something
adessive at a spot/place
apudessive near a spot/place
preësive against or right beside something or somewhere
inlative to a place
contlative into a place
superlative going onto a place
sublative getting under a place
adlative going to a spot/place
apudlative getting near a spot/place
prelative getting right next to a spot/place
inablative coming out of a place
contablative coming out of a group
superablative getting off of a thing
subablative getting out from under a thing
adablative leaving a spot
apudablative leaving the vicinity of a spot
preablative leaving from beside a spot
inallative going toward a hollow object you can enter
contallative going toward a group
superallative going upwards
suballative going downwards
adallative going towards
apudallative going close to
preallative going right next to



Semkanya dictionaries usually list roots and compounds in textbook register, with the most common grammatical endings. This list shows forms used in the exercise text.

Semkanya English PoS
akabzë time noun
akabzëbad right now adnomial
al her/she noun
amega eye noun
amegÿtas to awaken, to open one’s eyes verb
annain guide, leader (person) noun
annais to guide, lead verb
annÿxh guide (thing, as a book or sign) noun
asa one noun
asabadu entirely adnomial
asanu only adnomial
äxh thing noun
dëhagu downward adnomial
dissir desire, wish noun
dissiris to desire, want, wish, etc. verb
ë you noun
estimes to depart, leave verb
gandi where noun
gandinu wherever adnomial
ïtas to open verb
jethônos to be (copula form is the root jethôn) verb
kadav insane noun
kahùxh a scary thing noun
kahùys to scare, frighten verb
kana sorrow, sadness noun
kanu sorrowful, sad adnomial
katäxh pathway noun
kemùlùs to go verb
këtoros to receive verb
kurainu dark, darkness adnomial
kurais to darken verb
kurùs to come verb
miris to see (with eyes) verb
môragôm evil (name of the god Ahriman) noun
nuka daylight noun
oharu end, conclusion adnomial
oharùxh end noun
omoxh a mental image noun
omoxhen mind noun
saganas to seek, search verb
shiru behind something (implies hidden by it) adnomial
sônzais to exist, live verb
sônzyu existence, life adnomial
sùkai everything noun
sùkyu all adnomial
ti I noun
tôro road noun
vem the, that, those, etc. Implies uniqueness adnomial
xhyu quickly adnomial
xhyý quick adnomial
ÿmexh dream noun
ýris to know verb