Thuva-Tha: The Elder Tongue

The language of the Elder Folk who inhabited the Hidden Lands before The History began.  Their civilization is no more but their ancient language survives as a ritual language in many of the cultures of the Lands Under the Sun.

I. Alphabet and Pronunciation

The Elder Tongue is written in the Elder Script, also called kedeng. The script can be written either left-to-right, right-to-left (as in most sacred texts), or in boustrophedon (“as the ox plows”) style, alternating between right-to-left and left-to right.

Pronunciation is generally the same as in English, although the vowels are monophthongs, closer to the vowels of Latin than to the diphthonged vowels of English. IPA values are given below:

Theme I Theme II Theme III Theme IV Universal Vowels
f f f t t t s s s l l l p p p a a a
v v v d d d z z z r r r b b b e e e
T th θ n n n S sh ʃ y y j m m m i i i
D dh ð k k k Z zh ʒ W w w       o o o
h h h x g g g C ch         u u u
    N ng ŋ J dj            

A. Thematics

Consonants are organized into four themes (see, Gender, below), a set of universals, and five vowels.

II. Nouns

A. Gender

The Language has four genders based on the four ancient elements: air, earth, fire, and water

1. Air

The Air, or Ethra Gender is identified by the presence of the thematic consonants of the First Theme (f,v,th,dh,h).  It is used for abstract nouns and gasses.

eTra ethra air
efaT efath truth

2. Earth

The Earth, or Kadam Gender is identified by the presence of the thematic consonants of the Second Theme (t, d, n, k, g, ng). It is used for ordinary neuter inanimate nouns.

kadam kadam earth
geto geto truth

3. Fire

The Fire, or Zazh Gender is identified by the presence of the thematic consonants of the Third Theme (s, z, sh, zh, dj, ch).  It is used for masculine animates and for forms of energy.

zaZ zazh fire
Jasu djasu man/male

4. Water

The Water or Alir Gender is identified by the presence of the thematic consonants of the Fourth Theme (l, r, y, w).  It is used for animate feminine nouns and liquids.

alir alir water
lara lara woman/female

B. Subjective Form (Absolute)

The subjective form, also known as the absolute, is the basic, lexical form of the noun.  There are no, standard patterns for nouns in any particular gender other than the thematic consonants used in them.  The Elder Tongue generally resists consonant clusters, but they are found.  All the forms given in the section on gender, above, are in the Subjective Form.

The subjective form is used for the subject of a sentence or for the predicate nominative.

C. The plural

The plural is formed by adding (h)u to the end of a word.  If the word ends in a consonant, the h does not appear.  Even when appearing between two vowels, it is not often pronounced, and often is manifested as a slight pause or lift between vowels. [1]

efath  truthefathu truths
djasu man/maledjasuhu  men/males
lara woman/femalelarahu  women/females

D. Objective Form

The objective form is used for the direct object of the main verb.  It is formed by prefixing a- to the noun, whether singular or plural:

Subjective Objective
efaT, efaTu efath, efathu a-efaT, a-efaTu a-efath, a-efathu
geto, getohu geto, getohu a-geto, a-getohu a-geto, a-getohu
Jasu, Jasuhu djasu, djasuhu a-Jasu, a-Jasuhu a-djasu, a-djasuhu

E. Bound Form

The bound form is for any noun used with a preposition.  It is formed by suffixing -a to the noun.  In the plural, the suffix follows the plural ending:

Subjective Bound
efaT, efaTu efath, efathu efaT-a, efaTu-a efath-a, efathu-a
geto, getohu geto, getohu geto-a, getohu-a geto-a, getohu-a
Jasu, Jasuhu djasu, djasuhu Jasu-a, Jasuhu-a djasu-a, djasuhu-a


III. Adjectives

As with all words in the Language, adjectives are formed from the noun.  Strictly speaking, there are no pure adjectives in the Language, and all adjectival constructions are in fact noun phrases.

To form an adjectival phrase, two nouns are connected by the particle va (based on ava being).  If one wanted to say “a blue house” one would take the word ganad house and the word ethia blue and connect them with the adjectival particle va.  The definite article is placed after the modified noun:

ganad va-eTia ganad va-ethia blue house (lit. ‘house being blue-one’)

If the noun in question is definite, the definite article is placed after the entire adjectival phrase:

ganad va-eTia ka ganad va-ethia ka the blue house

Note that the definite article agrees with the modified noun (here ka agrees with ganad, both earth gender not ethia, air gender).

IV. Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns cover three persons and two numbers.  In the first person, there are three numbers, a plural exclusive (“we, but not you”) and a plural inclusive (“we, including you”).  In the first and second person, all pronouns are of common/indeterminate gender.  In the third person, there is a pronoun for each gender.  Where those being described are of more than one gender, the earth gender plural is used.

  Singular Plural
I me me  I meha
meha  we (excl)[2]
mehu  we (inc)
II pe pe  you pehu pehu  you (pl.)
III a. Te the  it Tehu thehu  they
III e. ke ke  it kehu kehu  they
III f. ze ze  he/it zehu zehu they
III w. le le  she/it lehu lehu  they

On occasion, the pronouns Te the and Tehu thehu can be used for persons of unspecified, indeterminate, nonbinary, or ambiguous gender, much the way “they” is used in contemporary English. However,ke ke and kehu kehu cannot be used in this way, except as an insult.

V. Demonstrative Pronouns/Adjectives

Demonstrative pronouns and the Definite Article are based on the personal pronouns (which may in fact be a form of a demonstrative).  The Definite Article and the Demonstratives are as follows.

Def. Art. (the) That Those This These
Ta  tha To  tho Tohu  thohu Ti  thi Tihu  thihu
ka  ka ko  ko kohu  kohu ki  ki kihu  kihu
za  za zo  zo zohu  zohu zi  zi zihu  zihu
la  la lo  lo lohu  lohu li  li lihu  lihu

The definite article and the other demonstratives, like all adjectives, follow the noun they modify and take the same case modifiers as their nouns.

efaT Ta  efath tha  the truth
kadam ka  kadam ka the earth
Jasu zo  djasu zo that man
larahu lihu  larahu lihu these women
i-larahu-a lihu-a  i-larahu-a lihu-a  with these women 

VI. Relative Pronouns

VII. Verbs

The foundation of the Language is the noun.  All verbs, therefore, are derived from the base noun form.  In each tense, personal endings are added based on the personal pronouns. Because of the specificity of the personal endings, an explicit subject need not always be used.  If the noun stem ends in a vowel, the e is elided.

  Singular Plural
I em  -em emu  -emu
II ep  -ep epu  -epu
III a. eT  -eth eTu  -ethu
III e. ek  -ek eku  -eku
III f. ez  -ez ezu  -ezu
III w. el  -el elu  -elu

A. Infinitive

The infinitive is formed by adding b’ to the unaugmented verbal noun stem.

dhifa  thought     b’dhifa  to think

B. Present Tenses

1. Simple Present

The simple present tense is formed by adding the prefix ba- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The simple present is translated by the English simple present.

b’zazh  to set on fire

Iba-zazhem  I set on fireba-zazhemu  we set on fire
IIba-zazhep  you set on fireba-zazhepu  you set on fire (pl.)
III  it sets on fireba-zazhethu  they set on fire
III  it sets on fireba-zazheku  they set on fire
III  he/it sets on fireba-zazhezu  they set on fire
III  she/it sets on fireba-zazhelu  they set on fire

b’dhifa  to think

Iba-dhifam  I thinkba-dhifamu  we think
IIba-dhifap  you thinkba-dhifapu  you think
III  it thinksba-dhifathu  they think
III  it thinksba-dhifaku  they think
III  he/it thinksba-dhifazu  they think
III  she/it thinksba-dhifalu  they think

2. Present Continuous

The present continuous tense is formed by adding the prefix aba- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The present continuous is translated by the English present continuous.

b’dhifa  to think

Iaba-dhifam  I am thinkingaba-dhifamu  we are thinking
IIaba-dhifap  you are thinkingaba-dhifapu  you are thinking
III a.aba-dhifath  it is thinkingaba-dhifathu  they are thinking
III e.aba-dhifak  it is thinkingaba-dhifaku  they are thinking
III f.aba-dhifaz  he/it is thinkingaba-dhifazu  they are thinking
III w.aba-dhifal  she/it is thinkingaba-dhifalu  they are thinking

C. Future Tenses

1. Simple Future

The simple future tense is formed by adding the prefix be- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The simple future is translated by the English simple future.

b’dhifa  to think

Ibe-dhifam  I will thinkbe-dhifamu  we will think
IIbe-dhifap  you will thinkbe-dhifapu  you will think
III  it will thinkbe-dhifathu  they will think
III  it will thinkbe-dhifaku  they will think
III  he/it will thinkbe-dhifazu  they will think
III  she/it will thinkbe-dhifalu  they will think

2. Future Continuous

The future continuous tense is formed by adding the prefix ebe- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The future continuous is translated by the English future continuous.

b’dhifa  to think

Iebe-dhifam  I will be thinkingebe-dhifamu  we will be thinking
IIebe-dhifap  you will be thinkingebe-dhifapu  you will be thinking
III a.ebe-dhifath  it will be thinkingebe-dhifathu  they will be thinking
III e.ebe-dhifak  it will be thinkingebe-dhifaku  they will be thinking
III f.ebe-dhifaz  he/it will be thinkingebe-dhifazu  they will be thinking
III w.ebe-dhifal  she/it will be thinkingebe-dhifalu  they will be thinking

D. Past Tenses

1. Simple Past

The simple past tense is formed by adding the prefix bo- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The simple past is translated by the English simple past.

b’dhifa  to think

Ibo-dhifam  I thoughtbo-dhifamu  we thought
IIbo-dhifap  you thoughtbo-dhifapu  you thought
III  it thoughtbo-dhifathu  they thought
III  it thoughtbo-dhifaku  they thought
III  he/it thoughtbo-dhifazu  they thought
III  she/it thoughtbo-dhifalu  they thought

2. Past Continuous

The past continuous tense is formed by adding the prefix obo- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The past continuous is translated by the English past continuous.

b’dhifa  to think

Iobo-dhifam  I was thinkingobo-dhifamu  we were thinking
IIobo-dhifap  you were thinkingobo-dhifapu  you were thinking
III a.obo-dhifath  it was thinkingobo-dhifathu  they were thinking
III e.obo-dhifak  it was thinkingobo-dhifaku  they were thinking
III f.obo-dhifaz  he/it was thinkingobo-dhifazu  they were thinking
III w.obo-dhifal  she/it was thinkingobo-dhifalu  they were thinking

3. Past Perfect

The future continuous tense is formed by adding the prefix ebe- to the base noun stem and adding the personal endings.  The future continuous is translated by the English future continuous.

b’dhifa  to think

Ibobo-dhifam  I have thoughtbobo-dhifamu  we have thought
IIbobo-dhifap  you have thoughtbobo-dhifapu  you have thought
III a.bobo-dhifath  it has thoughtbobo-dhifathu  they have thought
III e.bobo-dhifak  it has thoughtbobo-dhifaku  they have thought
III f.bobo-dhifaz  he/it has thoughtbobo-dhifazu  they have thought
III w.bobo-dhifal  she/it has thoughtbobo-dhifalu  they have thought

E. The verb b’ava ‘to be’

The verb b’ava is completely regular based on the noun stem ava  being.

ba-avam, ba-avap, ba-avath, ba-avak, ba-avaz, ba-aval, ba-avamu, ba-avapu, ba-avathu, ba-avaku, ba-avazu, ba-avalu

F. Verbal Short Forms

In conversation and in poetry, the personal endings can be dropped where the subject is explicit.

Djasu za ba-thavaz a-efath a-tha
Djasu za ba-thava’ a-efath a-tha
The man speaks the truth

VIII. Participles

There are two kinds of participle, continuous (trad. “present”) and complete (trad. “past”).  They are formed similar to verbs in that they are based on a prefix affixed to the noun stem.

A. Continuous Participles

The continuous participle is formed by adding the

B. Complete Participles

IX. Non-indicative Moods

A. Subjunctive

B. Imperative

X. Prepositions

A. Spatial

LocationalDirectional ToDirectional From
erinelintoemout of
oronolontoomoff of
irby/alongsideilto alongsideimfrom alongside
nurunder/beneathnulto undernumfrom under
merbetweenmelto inbetweenmemfrom between
aragainsal(to) againstamfrom against
warbehindwalto behindwamfrom behind
larbefore/in frontlalto the frontlamfrom before
mererthroughoutmerelthroughmeremfrom among

B. Temporal

uat, when
oby (instrument)
iwith (accompaniment)

XI. Vocabulary

Entry Gender Meaning Notes
kadam kadam e earth  
kadmawehu kadmawe(hu) e person (people) -awe, suff. = “-ite”, “-ling”, “of”
geto geto e thing  
tuN tung e way, path  
alir alir w water  
eTra ethra a air  
efaT efath a truth  
Tava thava a word b’thava = “to speak”
zaZ zazh f fire  
Jasu djasu f male/man  
noten noten e day  
Difa dhifa a thought  
daN dang e work  
dum dum e place  
kedoten kedoten e year  
hav hav a number  
avaT avath a name  
genot genot e home  
kid kid e line  
haD hadh a sound  
ganad ganad e house  
akkadam akkadam e world  
Difa-gnad dhifa-gnad e school lit, ‘thought-house’
eT eth a sky  
eTila ethila a blue lit. ‘sky-color’
Dufah dhufah a storm  
kogod kogod e business, dealings  
tega tega e run, course b’tega = “to run”
kodaN kodang e making, creation b’kodang = “to make”
SaJa shadja f sun  
Tuva thuva a language  
Ju dju f son  
lir lir w daughter  
aZ azh f father  
illa illa w mother  
kag kag e stone  
wal wal w blood  
illalira illalira w ocean/sea Lit. “mother water”
kunud kunud e city  
uZ uzh f evil, wickedness  
alla alla w good, goodness  
heTo hetho a spirit, ghost, demon perhaps akin to geto, “thing”
takat takat a art, drawing  
maga maga e large person, giant used with particle va to make the adjective “large”
miki miki e small person used with particle va to make the adjective “small”
kuduma kuduma e world  
detega detega e voyage b’detega to voyage
dutuga dutuga e traveler, voyager  
kaduN kadung e writing b’kadung to write
mi mi n/a and  
kitik kitik e canvas  
uTu uthu a desert, an empty place  
vohu vohu e formlessness  
yarulu yarulu w beauty va-yarulu, “beautiful”
dugu dugu e spade, shovel

[1] This leads many to think that the base form is in fact u with an intervocalic h inserted between two vowels, as opposed to *hu with a dropped h before a consonant.  Were the base form *hu we would expect to see some aspiration in the preceding consonant: genot – *genothu home, homes.  Instead, we see genot/genotu.

[2] Some believe that meha may be a vestige of an earlier dual form “we two”.

6 thoughts on “Thuva-Tha: The Elder Tongue

  1. Pingback: Kadunghu Ka—The Writings of Illavallanism | The Lands Under the Sun

    • The Elder Tongue word for “beauty” is yarulu and so the adjective would be va-yarulu “being beautiful”. In the Kadunghu, it is reported several times that she declared things beautiful, which in the Elder Tongue would be va-yarulu. However, in Chapter 1, verse 13, where her speech is directly reported, the underlying text is yarulu, which is simply the word for “beauty” but translated in English as “beautiful.”

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