The Elder Folk

The Elder Folk were one of the primordial civilizations of the Hidden Lands. It is unclear whether the Elder Folk were once civilization or many.  The existence and near ubiquity of the Elder Tongue suggests that the Elder Folk who colonized the Sunrise and Sunset Lands were of one cultural stock.  However, the existence of some cultures and languages whose linguistic heritage is markedly different (e.g., Greatvale, Kastan’ose, Norrist) argues for a much more diverse ancestral group than is commonly supposed.

The Elder Folk civilization first appeared around 7000 PC and developed what they referred to as “the sciences”—written language, mathematics, architecture, bronze working, and agriculture; in short, all the technologies of civilization.  Although the Edler Folk invented writing, they left behind no written records of their history and much of what is known (or believed) about them is the stuff of legend.

They were reported to have been masters not only of the “sciences”, they were masters of the “arts”—more commonly known as magic.  The few stories that have survived from the two-thousand year period the Elder Folk were on the Hidden Lands present a complex and bizarre portrait of a people grounded in the ordinary and using the tools of the extraordinary.  It is said that they built simple cities of brick and stone that floated in the air, tethered by rope ladders to the ground.

Beginning in the the mid-sixth millennium PC, the Elder Folk began to explore the world and founded a number of colonies on both the Sunrise and Sunset Lands.  In a window that lasted about 500 years, waves of emigres left the Hidden Lands for these colonies on the shores of the Middling Sea.  Toward the end of this period, all contact with the Hidden Lands was cut off, including the location of the Hidden Lands themselves, an event usually assumed to be the result of magic.  There is a fair amount of debate as to whether the explorers and emigres were aware of some impending disaster or whether it caught them unawares. In any event, the lack of an enduring written record of the period has meant that any knowledge of the Elder Folk’s time in the Hidden Lands has been communicated only through legend.

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

Pronunciation is generally the same as in English. IPA values are given below:

Theme ITheme IITheme IIITheme IVUniversalVowels
dhðkkzhʒww  oo
hh xggch    uu
The thematic table, above, in the Elder Tongue script
The thematic table, above, in the Elder Tongue script

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.

ethra  air
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  earth
geto thing

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.

zazh  fire
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 water
lara  woman

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:

efath, efathua-efath, a-efathu
geto, getohua-geto, a-getohu
djasu, djasuhua-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:

efath, efathuefath-a, efathu-a
getogeto-a, getohu-a
djasudjasu-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-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-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.

Ime  Imeha  we (excl)[2]
mehu  we (inc)
IIpe  youpehu  you (pl.)
III a.the  itthehu  they
III  itkehu  they
III f.ze  he/itzehu they
III w.le  she/itlehu  they

On occasion, the pronouns the and thehu can be used for persons of unspecified, indeterminate, or ambiguous gender, much the way “they” is used in contemporary English. However, ke and 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)ThatThoseThisThese

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

efath tha  the truth
kadam ka the earth
djasu zo that man
larahu lihu these women
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.

III a.-eth-ethu
III e.-ek-eku
III f.-ez-ezu
III w.-el-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

kadmawe(hu)eperson (people)-awe, suff. = “-ite”, “-ling”, “of”
tungeway, path 
thavaawordb’thava = “to speak”
dhifa-gnadeschoollit, ‘thought-house’
ethilaabluelit. ‘sky-color’
kogodebusiness, dealings 
tegaerun, courseb’tega = “to run”
kodangemaking, creationb’kodang = “to make”
illalirawocean/seaLit. “mother water”
uzhfevil, wickedness 
allawgood, goodness 
hethoaspirit, ghost, demonperhaps akin to geto, “thing”
takataart, drawing 
magaelarge person, giantused with particle va to make the adjective “large”
mikiesmall personused with particle va to make the adjective “small”
detegaevoyageb’detega to voyage
dutugaetraveler, voyager 
kadungewritingb’kadung to write
uthuadesert, an empty place 
yaruluwbeautyva-yarulu, “beautiful”
duguespade, 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”.