Thursday, 5 August 2010

Reflexive pronoun

Tulvan has a reflexive pronoun that is used to indicate the middle voice and also the reflexive. This pronoun is completely invariable and can be used with any other pronoun, it will always refer to the subject of the verb in any given sentence. The pronoun is sim. So you can say something like Lev kwam sim I look at myself of course meaning "in a mirror". This same pronoun would be used in such sentences as "I comb my hair" or "Know thyself", the last one being rendered in Tulvan as; Ëvudi sim Know (your)self, which is the Tulvan translation for the ancient greek phrase in Delphos' Oracle.

Noteworthy to note that the salute Primi sim is used to mean Take care! and, of course, primin sim would be used for a group of people. As mentioned above the reflexive is invariable.

Lev totene sim They look at themselves (masc.)
Lev tegene sim They look at themselves (fem.)

Primi sim Take care!
Primin sim Take care, you guys!

And so on. When asked a riddle and the child can't think of answer asking for a hint, a Tulvan might say

Tulvi sim siv! Think for yourself!

Posing the child a challenge.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


vb. to hear, to listen, to give heed. The act of paying attention to what is being said and listening.

It is most frequently used in the sense of 'giving heed' or also used to ask for attention. Ëvpaki (kem) is a common phrase to ask for attention, or also to shut someone up when you want to comment on something that was just said, which happens quite a lot in Tulvan discussions, specially about poilu. Also very much used is ëvpak vu mem 'you don't listen to me'.

Monday, 26 July 2010


n. logic, good-sense, the ability to perceive and/or utilize empirical thinking in an efficient train of thought.

This word has a special meaning to Tulvans. It is in fact used about sentences or thoughts which have sense or are 'logical', but its connotations can also go as far as to use it to assess someone's sanity. Many Tulvans will think not being logical in speech is a kind of madness. This is not to say that they are always logical, but upper classes are disgusted to engage on futile conversations and often will look down to those who do. The motto of the Society of Tulvan Grammarians is:

Think and speak with logic

A praise among Tulvan scientists is to say that something is 'poilui' or 'logical', as in 'well-formulated according to the rules of logic'. While the academia lingers on in this belief, the youth are starting to think 'ilipoilu' and outside the box, with varying degrees of achievements. The famous phrase 'that is not logical' rendered in Tulvan as:

Ëv si ilipoilu or ëv ilipoilu

Is close to calling someone a liar.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Weak Tenses

Weak tenses are a group of tenses and aspects in the lines of the Strong tenses, but with the difference that the root is not modified and a prefix is used which is k(V)- being (V) = any vowel. So we have in this category the Habitual aspect, the Perfective aspect, the Future tense and the Conditional. The Habitual takes the prefix ki- and denotes an action that continues through time, a habit or an ongoing action.

Kilev kwam. I see (everyday), I am seeing, I am used to seeing.
Kitulv kwam. I think (everyday), I am thinking, I am used to thinking.
Këvud kwam. I know (everyday), I am knowing, I am used to knowing.
Kithark kwam. I use (everyday), I am using, I am used to using.
Kiprum kwam. I speak (everyday), I am speaking, I am used to speaking.

These can be further developed into the past tense habitual, so:

Kiluev kwam. I used to see, I was seeing.
Kitaulv kwam. I used to think, I was thiking.
Këvaud kwam. I used to know, I was knowing.
Kithuark kwam. I used to use, I was using.
Kipraum kwam. I used to speak, I was speaking.

Then we have the Perfective aspect, which indicates an action that has been completed or done already. The prefix is ka- so:

Kalev kwam. I have seen.
Katulv kwam. I have thought.
Kaëvud kwam. I have known.
Kathark kwam. I have used.
Kaprum kwam. I have spoken.

Then the Future tense, which uses the prefix ku-, so:

Kulev kwam. I will see.
Kutulv kwam. I will think.
Kuëvud kwam. I will know.
Kuthark kwam. I will use.
Kuprum kwam. I will speak.

Finally, in the Weak Tenses, we have the Conditional, which takes the prefix kya-, so:

Kyalev kwam. I would see.
Kyatulv kwam. I would think.
Kyaëvud kwam. I would know.
Kyathark kwam. I would use.
Kyaprum kwam. I would speak.

The conditional construction needs a special post in Tulvan, which will come very soon.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Strong Tenses

Tenses in Tulvan are divided in two groups: Strong Tenses and Weak Tenses. Again I would like to mention that the usage of the word "tense" in this context owes entirely to Tulvan classification. It is in fact a translation of the first scholars of Tulvan of the appropriate Tulvan term for them. The fact is that this groups tenses along with aspects and moods, which were actually historically related and developed thus. This is how Tenses are taught in Tulvan cathegories of strong and weak. The Strong Tenses are the ones which involve changing the root of the verb, these are: the Aorist, the Aorist participle, the Past, the Imperative and the Subjunctive. The Aorist is the normal form of the root and is translated as Simple Present or Gnomic Aorist, a kind of general present.

Lev kwam. I see.
Tulv kwam. I think.
Ëvud kwam. I know.
Thark kwam. I use.
Prum kwam. I speak.

The Aorist Participle is formed by the infixation of -y to the first vowel of the root. The only exceptions are the verbs that begin with rë- and ëv- prefixes. The meaning of these is that of a preceding condition or situation, almost an anterior tense, in the lines of the sentence "Do this and then do that". It is commonly translated as "having X, I do Y". So we have:

Leyv kwam. Having seen...
Tuylv kwam. Having thought...
Ëvuyd kwam. Having known...
Thayrk kwam. Having used...
Pruym kwam. Having spoken...

So for instance a sentence like tuylv kwam, ëv kem means "Having thought, I am", or even "Once I have thought, I am". Another example would be "Think and see!" this would be rendered into Tulvan as tuylv mem levi, using the imperative in the second verb.

The past is a little tricky. It has two forms depending on the verb. It uses the infixation of a- in the first thematic vowel in all verbs except the ones where that vowel is -a or -e, in which u- is used. So again we have:

Luev kwam. I saw.
Taulv kwam. I thought.
Ëvaud kwam. I knew.
Thuark kwam. I used.
Praum kwam. I spoke.

This is equivalent to the Aorist Past or the Simple Past. Then we have the imperative, this is an almost weak tense, because it employs the suffix -i, as in the title, so:

Levi. See!
Tulvi. Think!
Ëvudi. Know!
Tharki. Use!
Prumi. Speak!

The imperative takes the suffix -in for the plural. So Prumi "speak!" referred to a singular "you", but Prumin "speak!/let's speak!" referred to a plural "you" or a plural first person. Finally we have the subjunctive very related to the imperative, it takes the form of the simple past plus the imperative suffix.

Luevi kwam. That I may see.
Taulvi kwam. That I may think.
Ëvaudi kwam. That I may I know.
Thuarki kwam. That I may I use.
Praumi kwam. That I may I speak.

This tense is rare, but it can be used as a lighter form of the imperative. It can also take the plural form -in.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


Tulvan doesn't conjugate for person, but has a vast array of tense conjugations. In fact, in Tulvan we will find that conjugations and tenses also include some other fields that in other languages would be included as moods and aspects. The language posses an Aorist, Past, Future, Conditional, a Perfective aspect, Habitual, Imperative and a Subjunctive voice, apart from participles. While some tenses relay on infixation of some kind in the root of the verb, some other use a prefix particle. This has lead scholars to the assumption that some constructions and tenses were more natural in Tulvan or were real Tulvan and other were a late addition to the system.

Accordingly, Tulvan categorizes some as tenses such things as the aorist and the subjunctive, which scholars believe weren't actually such in Ancient Tulvan, but then evolved into them. And so, the general term for "tense" was retained in latter Tulvan. In fact, the word for "tense" in Tulvan covers a grey semantic field which includes moods and aspects. So you will find a subjunctive rendered as a "tense" for the sake of organization and because of how original they were conceived. Strong tenses will include, then, a subjunctive and a habitual, while the weak tenses will include a perfective.

Unlike English or many modern European languages which use a paratactic strategy, that is two clauses joined by a conjuction 'I eat and see', Tulvan uses an hypotactic strategy. This mean it uses a system called circumstantial participle, so the same sentence would be in Tulvan 'Having eaten, I see', akin to Ancient Greek.

Next, tenses in Tulvan.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


This time, I bring you the pronouns, the step before going into verbs.

Tulvan distinguishes between 1st person singular absolutive and ergative. This differentiation is employed when dealing with transitive/intransitive verbs but also with regards to volition. Commonly the 1st person singular ergative is used to indicate volition or intention with certain verbs. Example:

Lev kem uroth. I see a woman. (i.e. I see there is a woman as I pass by or in general)
Lev kwam uroth. I see a woman. (i.e. I'm looking at the woman, even sometimes it can mean that you are staring at her)

The distinction is subtle. Other pronouns don't really have this duality, this is because only oneself can know if you intend to do something or not. Even though this is so, modern Tulvan developed a marker to denote ergativity in other pronouns. The pronuns are as follow:

kem, kwam. 1st singular absolutive and ergative. kemen. 1st plural
mem. 2nd singular. memen. 2nd plural
teg, tot. 3rd singular fem and masc. tegen, toten. 3rd plural fem and masc.

The particle used to denote ergativity in those pronouns which didn't use to have a volitional duality is -e. So:

mem, meme. 2nd erg and abs. memen, memene. 2nd erg and abs.
tote, tege. ... totene, tegene ... etc

Note that 1st plural can be kemen or kemene, there is no such thing as *kwamen.

Lev memen kem. You see me. (no ergative)
Lev memene kem. You are looking at me. (ergativized)

It is optional for absolutive pronouns to take the accusative.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

nwir, poini

Nwir, n. sky, the area containing the clouds and celestial objects. The physical sky as opposed to the ground.
Poini, n. heaven, bliss, a feeling of complete satisfaction and well-being. Metaphysical concept of heaven, Elysion, blissfulness.

In this case the differentiation is between two words to refer to "sky, heaven". The first one is more physical than the last one. But the difference doesn't end there. In Tulvan thought they don't think of the sky as a place of rest for the glorious dead or as a reward. They believe in states of mind, so the "heaven" is a state of mind, which can be said of a number of situations. To have a good idea can be refered as having a "heaven-like moment", or even that kind of warm feeling of happiness can be rendered as poini. The idea of heaven being the upper skies would be puzzling to all Tulvans.

It has been noted the similarity between this word, poini, and other words, such as poilu, approximately meaning our "logic". To Tulvans having high reason and logic is the closest they can think of being in heaven or bliss. Wether this words were related in long lost past or if it's a coincidence is now a lost knowledge. Needless to say many speakers of this language would like to think so nonetheless.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Adjectives in Tulvan are invariable in number, declension or gender. They follow their respective nouns and they are divided in two main groups. There are full adjectives and derived adjectives, the last type are marked by an attributive prefix i-. One will notice that sometimes an English adjective doesn't have a full adjective in Tulvan. Even though this could be fixed by the attributive making it a derived adjective, sometimes this can give an awkward expression for native Tulvans.

This is the case, for example, with such words as "good" in most common greetings. This is not expressed by an adjective in Tulvan, but by a word meaning "well-being" as a noun. Also this is the case for some more complex derived adjectives. Needless to say colors belong to the full adjectives category. So we have for example:

trum ni nari. Good night.
but actually; "well-being in the night (for you)".

Adjectives always follow their noun:

Crum nus. The old man.
Utim cip. The new tree.
Nwir cnara. The black sky.

This also applies to derived adjectives with the attributive prefix.

Crum itrum. A good man.
Roth icrum. A mannish woman.

So adjectives are quite simple, invariable and don't agree with the noun they modify.

Gud dapau crum itrum uroth itrum. A good man must look for a good woman.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Nouns and Declension

As I pointed out below, Tulvan is a highly analytical language. What means it has only but lost all of its declensional system, if it ever had one. Only one declensional case remains, the Accusative. The accusative is used in nouns to mark the direct object of a verb. The mark of the accusative in Tulvan is the affix -u. It can sometimes behave as a suffix and sometimes as a prefix. This phenomenon was named allotaxy a term coined by the first specialists on Tulvan, and is phonetically conditioned by the letter in which the previous word ends or the next word begins with, wether it is a consonant or a vowel to avoid C-C or V-V.

So for instance, in the example below "cur mem uspär? Do you want some water?" the u- marks the accusative because mem ends in consonant and spär begins with one. But for example in a sentence like:

Levi crumu nus. See an old man!

It is perfectly valid to put the -u as a suffix. Which again in turn would change when I say:

Lev kwam ucrum nus. I see an old man.

Even though, in this particular case, either prefix or suffix forms are valid, thus lev kwam crumu nus, is also valid. Depending only on personal taste, a different case would be:

Lev kwam ucrum ëv nus. I see a man (who) is old.

Where the accusative marker could not be suffixed. In cases where both the previous word ends in a vowel and the next one begins with a vowel the word preceding usually has precedence. Although some dialects show different patterns. The only other marker nouns posses is the number marking, the plural. This marker is -n, -en for consonant ending words. So a word like utim tree, would have a plural utimen trees. This also applies for pronouns and verbs.

Lev kwam utimen nus. I see the old trees or I look at the old trees.

In fact the difference between look at/see is given by the pronoun. This and also other markers affecting other kinds of words will be explained in subsequent posts.

Monday, 17 May 2010

baw, spär

Today... two words, which are related with each other.

Baw, n. non-potable water, usually a great still body of such water.
Spär, n. potable water, water which has undergone treatments to ensure its potability.

So as you may see, baw is not only any non-potable water, but it may also refer to the water in any lake, sea, or Ocean. Whereas spär is not only water that can be drunk, but also it implies that it has been treated to be so. Therefore, while you could drink water from a well or a river, you wouldn't be able to call it spär. Sometimes Tulvanians say baw ispär "potable still water" or bawspär to make the distinction.

This kind of water can be used to mean "a glass of water" as in the example below. But the "water of the sea" would undoubtedly be rendered as baw.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


vb. to think, to ponder. The act of engaging on a mental exercise to determine a solution or to analyze a problem.

It must not be confused with "to meditate" which has another different word. The best translation into English would be "to ponder", and a perfectly valid equivalent with be the latin "cogito". It must be noted that it should not be used to express "I think today might be a good day" or to express doubt or uncertainty. In fact the word means to think in the most active word.

cur mem uspär? Do you want some water?
kutulv kwam. I will think (about it...)

The famous phrase from Descartes is usually rendered; Tulv kwam, kik ëv kem. Cogito ergo sum.
Although the most common translation, it is subtly different from the idea conveyed in the original. So native speakers of Tulvan would make another reading from this phrase, which would appear very evident to them as "I have the volition to think, therefore I must exist/be, independently of anything else". This is because of the usage of different first person singular pronouns. Maybe the phrase would be better translated as Tulv kem, kik ëv kem. But this matter I will explain furtherly in subsequent posts.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

A Little History

Traditionally Tulvan is believed to be derived from the word "tulv" a verb meaning "to think". This, of course, can't be so. Many have argued that the original meaning of the term for the language was lost through time. But that it most probably was related term Tuluan. In fact the Tulvan meaning connecting it to tulv is a popular etymology. Many have indicated remains of writings connecting to Tuluan and an even older term, Tuluanna, the meaning of which is now lost.

In any case as a people so very devoted to thinking and reason, it was natural to assume that both words would merge with time in what is now known as Tulvan. This is also increased by the fact that Tuluan wouldn't be implausible as a verbal derivation from tulv. But with discoveries about Tuluanna, the folkloric etymological origin of Tulvan is now not widely supported by professionals.

Phonology and Writing

Tulvan is customarily written in roman characters with some diacritics to aid where some tulvan characters don't have a complete equivalent. For example, there are three kinds of k's, k, c and q, the first one is our normal [k] what we would expect in such English words as kill, kiss, keep, etc. On the other hand, the [c] represents a k without a breath, very much alike the distinction between Mandarin k and g. And finally the q is a guttural k, pronounced deeper within the throat. So we have k = [k'], c = [k], q = [kh, x]. However the distinction between kw and qu is that of breath. So kw = [kw'] and qu [kw].

Another difference is about the palatalized vowels, for instance some vowels are preceded by a soft [i] very much alike to Russian я and ю. So we have in Tulvan ë [ye], ä [ya] and ü [yu]. In fact maybe the cyrillic alphabet would be more appropriate most of the times.

All the rest are pronounced as spected in standard european. Let me elaborate, pretty much in a similar way to latin consonants and vowels, but without their exceptions.

so p, t, k, like people, totum, keeper
b, d, g like ball, dominus, goal
th like "thin" always
v, kw/qu, just as they would in very, quick

n, m, s don't need explanation. But when s precedes p or t, it sounds like sh, as in German.
l, r are pronounced as in latin or spanish, las, r never retroflex.

The only diphthongs are aw, ew, and ay, ey, uy, oy
Other combinations such as ai, ei, oi, au, eu, can exist but are not considered diphthongs but two syllables.

Well, this is all for phonology, I think this will give you a great grasp of how words are pronounced.

An Introduction

I created this blog to help in the progress of my language called Tulvan. It's been out there (or should I say 'out here'?) for quite a while now, getting some new ideas now and then. The main concept for the language was always that it belongs to stage in development a 1,000 years further than the languages we see here today. Not that it is more 'perfect' or more 'developed' or any of that subjective crap. What I mean by this is that the speakers of this language started developing a very specific language, more and more specific over time, as I believe happens nowadays in some natlangs. It has some very punctual concepts and meanings and many differentiated words for some other concepts. Words have only one meaning.

This was the main concept. Also I decided it does not necessarily behave like any other earth-language. While it has some features that are very particular of itself, it also lacks some concepts (i.e. declension) which could be explained as having evolved through time (this is what I mean when I say I picture it as having evolved through thousands of years). It has some remnants of other structures and grammar systems, but now very difficult to see. Well, you'll be the judges of that.

Each day I will update either a new word and define it thoroughly or some grammar concept or note about it, which will then be arranged by category and topic.

All I can say now is 'Prumin tulvan siv': Let's speak Tulvan! Which actually translates more to "Speak (imp. pl.) by means of Tulvan".