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.