For nouns in Ardari, we can afford to be a little more daring. As we’ve decided, Ardari is an agglutinative language with fusional (or inflectional) aspects, and now we’ll get to see a bit of what that entails.
Three types of nouns
Ardari has three genders of nouns: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Like languages such as Spanish or German, these don’t necessarily correspond to the notions of “male”, “female”, and “everything else”. Instead, they’re a little bit arbitrary, but we won’t make the same mistakes as natural languages when it comes to assigning nouns to genders. (Actually, we will make the same mistakes, but on purpose, not through the vagaries of linguistic evolution.)
Each noun is inflected not only for gender, but also for number and case. Number can be either singular or plural, just like with Isian. As for case, well, we have five of them:
- Nominative, used mostly for subjects of sentences,
- Accusative, used mainly for the direct objects,
- Dative, occasionally seen for indirect objects, but mostly used for the Ardari equivalent of prepositional phrases,
- Genitive, indicating possession, composition, and most places where English uses “of”,
- Vocative, only used when addressing someone; as a result, it only makes sense with names and certain nouns.
So we have three genders, two numbers, and five cases. Multiply those together, and you get 30 possibilities for declension. (If you took Latin in school, that word might have made you shudder. Sorry.) It’s not quite that bad, since some of these will overlap, but it’s still a lot to take in. That’s the difficulty—and the beauty, for some—of fusional languages.
Masculine nouns in Ardari all have stems that end in -a. One example is kona “man”, and this table shows its declensions:
Roughly speaking, you can translate kono as “men”, kone as “of a man”, etc. We run into a bit of a problem with konon, since it could be either accusative or dative. That’s okay; things like this happen often in fusional languages. We’ll say it was caused by sound changes. We just have to remember that translating will need a bit more context.
Also, many of these declensions will change the stress of a word to the final syllable, following our phonological rules from Part 1.
Feminine noun stems end in -i, and they have these declensions (using chi “sun” as our example):
The same translation guides apply here, except we don’t have the problem of “syncretism”, where two cases share the same form.
Neuter nouns have stems that can end in any consonant. Using the example of tyèk “house”, we have:
A couple of these (genitive plural, vocative) are recycled from the masculine table. Again, that’s fairly common in languages of this type, so I added it for naturalism.
Unlike Isian, Ardari doesn’t use separate words for its articles. Instead, it has a “definiteness” marker that can be added to the end of a noun. It changes form based on the gender and number of the noun you’re attaching it to, coming in one of a few forms:
- -tö is the general singular marker, used on all three genders in all cases except the neuter dative.
- -dys is used on masculine and most neuter plurals (except, again, the dative).
- -tös is for feminine plurals.
- Neuter nouns in the dative use -ö for the singular and -s for the plural.
The neuter dative is weird, partly because of a phonological process called “haplology”, where consecutive sounds or syllables that are very close in sound merge into one. Take our example above of tyèk. You’d expect the datives to be tyèkètto and tyèkodadys. For the singular, the case marker already ends in -t, so it’s just a matter of dropping that sound from the “article” suffix. The plural would have two syllables da and dys next to each other. Speakers of languages are lazy, so they’d likely combine those into something a bit less time-consuming, thus we have tyèkodas “to the houses”.
Even though I didn’t actually introduce any new vocabulary in this post, here’s the same word list from last week’s Isian post, now with Ardari equivalents. Two words are a little different. “Child” appears in three gendered forms (masculine, feminine, and a neuter version for “unknown” or “unimportant”). “Friend”, on the other hand, is a simple substitution of stem vowels for masculine or feminine, but you have to pick one, although a word like ast (a “neutered” formation) might be common in some dialects of spoken Ardari.
- sword: èngla
- cup: kykad
- mother: emi
- father: aba
- woman: näli
- child: pwa (boy) / gli (girl) / sèd (any or unknown)
- friend: asta (male) / asti (female)
- head: chäf
- eye: agya
- mouth: mim
- hand: kyur
- foot: allga
- cat: avbi
- flower: afli
- shirt: tèwar