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Stālāg (Terbian)

the language of the Terb


Terbian pronouns distinguish three grammatical persons (first, second and third), two numbers (singular and plural), two cases (core and oblique), and, for some persons, gender (masculine and feminine, with the masculine forms being chosen by default and for mixed groups).

In addition to the regular pronouns, Terbian has a parallel set of honorific pronouns for the second and third persons, distinguishing gender in the singular forms.

Each pronoun has a core case form and an oblique form. The regular (non-honorific) pronouns also have distinct possessive forms. The honorific pronouns employ the oblique to show possession.

Regular pronouns

The regular pronouns are used in everyday speech among peers and, in general, between people of roughly the same social standing. This includes members of a family (parents and children) and most members of the extended family. Professional colleagues, co-workers, other acquaintances and the occasional company down the road are all addressed using the regular pronouns, too.

     C      O       PSS          PSS (declined)

1s   å      ū       mån          mån, månō, månnu, månna
2s   lal    lalō    lan          lan, lanō, lannu, lanna
3sM  er     ē       ti (tit-)    ti, titō, tittu, titta
3sF  dar    dā      ta (tat-)    ta, tatō, tattu, tatta
1p   llu    llō     mallun       mallun, -ō, -nu, -na
2p   lallu  lalla   malan        malan, -ō, -nu, -na
3p   nok    nōk     nokan        nokan, -ō, -nu, -na

In educated speech, the possessive forms agree with the possessor in case and number, behaving like Class I adjectives. In colloquial registers and especially among the lower classes, however, this agreement is ignored and the basic forms of the possessives are used in all cases and numbers.

Honorific pronouns

The honorific pronouns are used mainly in contexts where the speaker is of a social rank markedly lower than the hearer or referent of the conversation. For some people it is also customary to use the honorifics to address anyone that does not belong to their village and looks important (or distinguished, or rich). Another context where honorifics are to be employed is when talking about dead people, especially not of one’s own family, and for renowned ancestors in general.

The King and the Queen, the ministers, the noblemen and the town elders all refer to, and address, each other using honorifics, at least in public; this norm of etiquette is not terribly important but tradition recommends “caution rather than offense”. Non-official statements such as discussions in assembly meetings are carried out using honorifics, but it is permissible to shorten them after their first occurrences (indeed, too much emphasizing the full form of the honorific can be taken as sarcastic).

      C          O               Shortened

2sHM  maikyĕ     maikyĕtō        miky, mittō
2sHF  maljåmmiz  maljåmmizdō     åmmiz, åmmizō
3sHM  tikkyĕ     tikkyĕtō        tiky, tittō
3sHF  tappakez   tappakezdō      takkez, takkezō
2pH   maikyĕtās  maikyĕtāskō     mittās, mittaskō
3pH   tikkyĕtās  tikkyĕtāskō     tittās, tittaskō

Table of correlatives

The following table summarizes the deictic words of Terbian. These are words like ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘here’, ‘now’, and the wh-interrogative words.

Terbian has three levels of locational deixis, unlike English, which has two (proximal ‘this’, distal ‘here’). Spanish has three levels of deixis too, but Terbian uses them in a more restricted fashion. The first level refers to objects closer to, or in contact with, the speaker. The second level refers to objects closer to the hearer (though not necessarily very close). The third level refers to objects not in view of the speaker, especially objects found behind physical obstacles to vision.

These deictics are used in discourse too, like the English ones. The first (proximal) level refers to things that have been just mentioned; the second (distal) level refers to things mentioned before, or to the general topic of the conversation. The third level is not used for discoursive deixis.

The deictics that work as pronouns, such as ande ‘this person’, tas ‘something’, etc., can be pluralized regularly as Class I nouns. Those ending in a vowel in the singular core form just drop it: andu ‘these people’, tassu ‘some things’.

The difference between ‘every’ and ‘each’ in the table is roughly the same as in English. ‘Every’ means ‘all, in general’, while ‘each’ means ‘every one, one by one’ (distributive).

Relative Query This That Yonder
Thing sa, sō isa, isō han, hān i, yō ĕs, ĕsō
Person tar, tā itar, itā ande, andō ite, itō ĕste, ĕstō
Adjective hib, hibō āb, ābō han, hān i, yō ĕs, ĕsō
Place nīr, nikō nīr, nikō hanis, hansō inis, insō ĕzīr, ĕzikō
Time dded, ddedō dded, ddedō atto, attō ikko, ikkō
Manner hizeb ezeb
Reason hikyo ekyo

Such Some None Every Each
Thing gwitsa, gwitsō tas, tasō ursa, ursō wikw, wikwō gawikw, gawikwō
Person gwitar, gwitā tatar, tatā urtar, urtā makw, makwō galmakw, galmakwō
Adjective gwib, gwibō tib, tibō urib, uribō ås, åsō galås, galåsō
Place tanīr, tanikō åznīr, åznikō galnīr, galnikō
Time tadded, taddedō urbaw attiko, attikō galded, galdedō
Manner gwizeb tazeb tūmaw
Reason takyo kyoraw

Terbian also has a special, additional set of locational deictics. These act as adjectives of Class I.

This side āgam That side īgim
Left-hand tirril Right-hand enr
Across ssŏs Edge-on ukwat
Over dbai Behind kēkey