Lotath is the name of the language of one of the peoples in my story. It’s not really based on any other language. It’s very vowel rich, but more like Finnish and less like Polynesian languages. This page is a work in progress, and the language may change a lot over time. Below is the language reference for Lotath, written as an in-world document. Enjoy.
– Dave S. Koster
Lotath, the language of the Jai.
Lotath has two recognized modes, formal and common. A third manifestation also exists, spoken mostly by those Jai of the clouds, it is an intermediate form of the formal and common, but considered more of a bastard dialect than anything. To an outsider, these may be difficult to distinguish as formal elements are present in the common mode, yet in different and far more rigid measures than intermediate. For the native speaker, the informal use is easily recognized as a simplification of words.
The traditional writing system for Lotath is known as Petath. Petath is an abjad, written along a long string from top to bottom and left to right, which uses obligatory diacritic marks, usually to the right of the consonants. Other alphabets, based on Petath, were also developed by peoples withing in the Jai sphere of influence, prior to the fall of their empire. Two of these are known as Hwoleng, and Talinga. Both are typical alphabets, written from left to right top to bottom, where each letter is represented. Many Jai writings dating from near the end of their empire used these two alphabets over the Petath.
Little is known about the precursor language to Lotath, as it generally pre-dates written records maintained by the Jai. All three modes of the language contain clear remnants of disused methods of speech. Jai education was, and is, regarded as a rigid institution where deviation is not permitted. Thus, the language has changed little from the earliest existing writings to the most modern available texts. It is, however, hard to find clear evidence on this point as after the Great War of Chaos, most Jai knowledge was destroyed along with the empire.
This article is intended as a brief guide to the Lotath language and how it is used.
In Lotath, nouns are always preceded by an article, with the single exception of proper names in the common mode. An example of this would be: sukiv Ji Borgav (The Ji Borgav). The common would drop sukiv Ji leaving only the proper name. However, there are special articles used to designate importance. Formal Lotah is highly nuanced on this point and often designates some amount of importance on everything. The spoken form employs inflection on these special articles to distinguish between formality and actual importance. These special articles are used in the form of the following infix modifiers:
ao – Meaning totally unique across time and in the world (the only one ever)
ol – When inserted into a proper name, is used in the same way English uses ‘The Great’, though can also be used for any notorious person
oil – Similar to ol, except this is the plural form.
These infix modifiers replace the first vowel after a consonant in a word, before any pre-fixes have been added.
Lotath splits definite articles into several categories: Animate, inanimate, male, female, and spirit (even when the spirit identifies as male/female). Each of the following words are equivalent to the English word the.
Kiv – Single inanimate object
Kaiv – Two inanimate objects
Kai – More than two inanimate objects and mass nouns. (recall a mass noun is a thing like water)
These words may also be used when the intent is to give offense.
The other definite articles (the/this) are as follows. Note that letters in () are only used in the formal mode.
(l)ekiv – the for female, or animal of unknown gender
(s)ukiv – the for male, or person of unknown gender
(l)ekai – plural form of (l)ekiv
(s)ukai – plural form of (s)ukiv
(m)oki – the for a singular spirit
(m)okai – plural form of (m)oki
(k)ami – Same as English this, used for inanimate things/situations
vit – This when speaking about an animal, offensive when used to refer to a person
feth – This when speaking about a person or spirit.
use of a definite article associated with an owned object signifies the owner has only one of the owned noun.
Sí – Inanimate form of a/an
Sai – Plural form of sí, similar in usage to the English word some, in cases where some would be used as an article.
(l)esí – a/an female or animal of indeterminate sex
(s)usí – a/an male or person of indeterminate sex
(m)osí – a/an for spirits
sa – follows esí/usí/osí to make plural. sa is an archaic plural form usually used when ai infix muddies the meaning when applied.
The subject of ownership preceeds the owner in all cases. The following are prefixes to the named owner.
da – Male form of owned by
de – female form of owned
d’ – mixed gender plural ownership, or ownership when gender is unclear/unknown
t’ – inanimate ownership, almost always used in situations describing a property of an object or person.
Examples of ownership:
bajul datolbara (is tolbara’s horse)
More to come…