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Lilitika Grammar
Core reference for Íomanazinení and Zeyetaní forms
The following is a minimalist description of the grammar of archaic Lilitika, one of the predecessors of the Lilitic language, as well as its namesake. It describes developments from the pre-Venrafivía period, 5–200 lilpo. (See dialectical history.) For changes after the Venrafivíai, see Lilitika Grammar II.

Lilitika from this time period is roughly grouped into two systems of grammatical rules, often termed Íomanazinení and Zeyetaní. Íomanazinení derives most of its forms from Oksí Lilitika (see Lilitika Grammar Pre-History), and the Zeyetaní forms were later derived through recombination of these with some influence from Late Palace Oksirapho. However, the two are not entirely distinct chronolects or dialects; the Lilitai continued to use Íomanazinení forms as a "formal" register for many centuries, even after the colonization of Thet. Such "Neo-Íomanazinení" can be distinguished from "palaeo-Íomanazinení" by its pairing of newer lexical items and grammatical conventions with the older inflections and word order.

Because of the common grammar and verb inflection system, these two varieties of Lilitika are collectively referred to as Archaic Lilitika.

Parts of Speech

Lilitika has verbs, verb modifiers (adverbs), adjectives, adjective modifiers (also considered adverbs), nouns, particle modifiers (prepositions and some adverbs), interjections, articles, conjunctions, sentence modifiers (sentential adverbs) and mood particles. Most other functions are accomplished through prefixes and suffixes. Numerals representing quantity, cardinality, and other forms normally represented as determiners are expressed as numerical adjectives.

For the most part, these categories are familiar. There are a few exceptions:

  • Particle modifiers alter the case of a noun or mood of a verb to be more specific. Noun particle modifiers are largely equivalent to English prepositions, and share the effect with the noun's actual case. A common example is venes. They are placed before the noun and its adjectives. Particle modifiers for nouns regularly end in -es, but verb particle modifiers are irregular. Noun modifiers that make the item being described unreal (such as nat) and actually affect the meaning of the word in the sentence, rather than simply refining the case ending, are not generally regular. There are few attested verb modifiers, as most either merged into mood particles or suffixes in the language's early development. hedí is a peculiar example of an adjective modifier which is used solely with the genitive case.

  • Mood particles go at the very end of a sentence and contribute to the verb's mood. A common example is dí, which converts a statement into a question. "Ro resenis" means "You are sleeping", but "Ro resenis dí?" means "Are you sleeping?" Many important mood particles have merged into verb affixes, such as the modifiers and irrealis moods listed below.

  • Verbs

    A minimal verb in Archaic Lilitika consists of the root and tense marker. The infinitive of a verb ends in .



    Lilitika's tense marker endings include both actual tenses and some moods, with additional implications for aspect. The system uses five time windows, with some overlap. The traditional endings are summarized as follows:

    ending dpstpst presfut moodaspectdesc
    -iris x IND - happened, long ago
    -ir x IND - happened recently
    -is x IND - happens
    -ilis x x IND IPFVhappens or is about to happen
    -il x IND - will happen
    -im x x IMP - do this now or later
    -iril x x x x PROPH- it was expected that x would happen
    -ihí x x x x IND AOR aorist; see below
    - - infinitive; see below

  • -ir indicates the past tense. This derives from the present tense of íré, which was initially used as an auxiliary verb to indicate that the subject of the sentence possessed the experience of participating in the action described; that it was a part of the subject's nature.

  • -iris, the deep past tense suffix, survived through poetic use, indicating a deeper past tense sense for a while, before finally supplanting the -ir form entirely. When both appear in a passage, -ir usually refers to events of the past day and -iris refers to time before that. -iris is the standard tense for recounting anecdotes and hence many stories, although -íhí may also be used for that.

  • -is indicates the pure present tense.

  • -ilis, which pre-dates the bare -is, may very rarely be used to indicate the present tense or the immediate future, e.g. sai ahilis ím: let's change. This is generally called the liquid present, liquid future, or nonpast. Occasionally, this tense is used to indicate that an activity is ongoing, similar to the -en- infix. The -ilis ending itself may be confusing due to need- and change-related verbs that already end in -ilé, and may not necessarily change meaning, such as moilé. Verbs with diphthongs which can semantically support -ilis as a suffix, however, such as tsoilé, split the diphthong and contract the il, e.g. tsoïlis, not *tsoililis.

  • -il indicates the future tense. It comes from the auxiliary verb ílé, just like -ir comes from íré, which means 'to need or want'. Like -ir from íré, the meaning is that the essential nature of the sentence's subject requires or wants this event in order to be true to fate.

  • -iril indicates a prophecised or expected future, i.e. the future of the past. Unlike -il with the kin potential mood particle, events spoken of using -iril may have already transpired, failed, or be impossible.

  • -im may sometimes be used as a tense indicating that the audience should carry out an action in the near future. It is a contraction of "-ilis ím," and constitutes an irrealis imperative mood. In prose and poetry it may also be used as a contraction of "-ihí ím," and hence denote actions that the author thinks a character should do. Use the ím particle explicitly if "-il ím" is desired. -im is rarely seen in palaeo-Íomanazinení.

  • -inkai, a contraction of "-im" with the gnomic particle "kai", creates an atemporal imperative, known variously as the subjunctive, optative, or jussive form. It is used generally in adverbial clauses alongside oshu, "for the purpose of", creating a statement of potential utility: sarasíús oshé trúinkai vis = "it is easy to see." When used at the head of a sentence, such as Vinkai izzéú tsú asa Stillai oisthebiris apes asa atshalai..., the result is an atemporal optative or concessive ("Were it only that the goddesses resided in the stars...") Both of these uses are degenerate from the barely-usable infinitive imperative (*-é ím kai), in which they would gloss as "it is easy for the purpose of always being seen" and "For all time the goddesses are to merely reside in the stars," respectively. This usage occasionally appears when translating creation myths from other cultures, but was never employed in any narrative of the Lilitasa because of its bluntness.

  • -íhí (sometimes unstressed as -ihí) is a tenseless aorist, i.e. it inherits its tense from context. The aorist is generally used to list out several steps in a larger events, such as the sequence of actions during the rehearsal of a play, reconstruction of a historical event, or a set of instructions for carrying out an activity. Heavy use of the aorist is atypical of proper Íomanazinení; see the dialect section on the aorist, below, for rules on alternatives.

  • -é, the infinitive form, is unused in Archaic Lilitika and most later chronolects. It appeared in Oksí Lilitika whenever a helper verb was invoked. As the few helper verbs Lilitika employed transformed into suffixes. It now functions primarily as the "dictionary" form. In places where infinitives would normally be used in Indo-European languages (such as subclauses) exact verb agreement is required.

  • Aspects

  • -at- indicates the perfect aspect. The task described has been finished; translate into English as "had/has/will have ~ed."

  • -en- indicates the progressive aspect. The task described is ongoing at the time of description; translate into English as "was/is/will be ~ing."

  • -ep- indicates the inchoative aspect. The task described is just beginning; translate into English as "started/starts/will start to ~."

  • -esh- puts a verb into the passive voice (reversal of subject and object), which is regarded as an aspect by Lilitic grammarians because its equivalent in the Ksreskézaian languages originated as an "undoing" indicator, analogous to the nato- prefix. Resulting constructs with the passive voice often resemble the syntax of ergative-absolutive languages. Translate into English as "was/is/will be ~ed." Many verbs, such as dúteshé, have this permanently included in their roots as part of the dictionary form.

  • -ah- is a rare synonym of -esh- found in verb roots derived from thahé. In post-Zeyetaní dialects where passive verbs inflect non-agglutinatively, it should be removed just as -esh- is removed.

  • Timeline and Perspective

    Despite being a heavily inflected language, it is not generally idiomatic in Lilitika to have any form of subject-verb agreement, and hence a subject is mandatory unless obvious from context (see alúé (ighikhete).) However, a set of such endings does exist, found mainly in early poetry where the highly fixed verb-final word order prevented their noun-like endings from being confused with noun clauses.

    When these suffixes are invoked outside of poetry, they are generally used to contrast multiple accounts of events: Likha trúirita, elka rifa mí noví stikha trúiritifa, "I say I saw her, but you say you saw another person." The 'universal' perspective is thus factuality.

    Another, more obscure use of these suffixes which became rather well-known in later years is to convey not merely perspective, but timeline, i.e. for reconciling concretely different experiences of history modified by time travel. In this mode, the 'universal' perspective is the directed acyclic graph of causal events that led to the non-paradoxical editing of time. As the Lilitai never had time travel capability, it is safe to say that the uses of this were limited to fiction and academic discourse.

    Oksí and Íomanazinení endings, as originally conceived:

  • speaker: ita/ite/ito/itu (gender-dependent)
  • universal: itossa
  • subject: itifa/itife/itifo/itifu (gender-dependent)

  • Zeyetaní endings:

  • first person: ita/ite/ito/itu (gender-dependent)
  • second person: idra/idre/idro/idru (gender-dependent)
  • distant-second person: itra/itre/itro/itru (gender-dependent)
  • third person: úla/úle/úlo/úlu (gender-dependent)
  • universal: itossa

  • Modifier-Based Irrealis Moods

    Remember: an irrealis mood means the event described has not necessarily happened. For example, 'rezvé' means 'must be', not 'to be because it is necessary'.

  • alez-: the action explicitly did not occur, will not occur, must not occur, etc.

  • rez- ("must"): the subject is compelled in some way to carry out the action.

  • ifez- ("want"): the subject is compelled by desire to carry out the action.

  • riz- ("should"): the subject is compelled by law, agreement, or rules to carry out the action.

  • ossez- ("must always"): the subject is compelled by its nature to carry out the action.

  • Conditional Modifiers

    Unlike the other moods, these are prefixed onto verbs as proclitics. They may be promoted to verbal adverbs with -ai (surai, desai, zúlai, zhurai), or to sentential adverbs with -éú (suréú, deséú, zúléú, zhuréú). This latter usage is particularly common for clarity. (Also, remember that the adverb suffix -ai is replaced in later dialects.)

    The condition of a conditional sentence may occur before or after the effect. Each component of the conditional sentence would be grammatically complete if the conditional modifier were removed.

  • sur: if. The condition cause is automatically considered hypothetical, and outlines some condition that will lead to a stated outcome if it is met. Sikhasa hefril kin, roi suralezlatis ím: "we could die, if you do not stop."

  • des: then. The outcome clause with 'des' is a certainty, but irrealis. The mood particle 'kin' can be employed for possible outcomes, but in the absence of 'des,' as in the example given for 'sur' above. Sikhasa des hefreshil, roi sur alezlatis ím: "we will die, if you do not stop." (The middle dot is added for clarity and does not appear in the Lilitic writing.) With no 'sur' clause, 'des' can be translated as "would", and provides a conditional mood: Sikhasa des egatis, "we would have left."

  • zúl: else. The sentence is a certain outcome, but irrealis. Combine with 'kin' for possible outcomes. Sikhasa zúl hefreshil kin, roi sur alezlatis ím: "we could die unless you do not stop."

  • zhur: else if. The sentence is hypothetical. Sikhasa des hefreshil, roi sur alezlatis ím, sifasa resil kin, roi zhur latis: "we could die unless you do not stop, but otherwise we could sleep if you do stop."

  • Noun Cases

    Nominative. The subject of a sentence is the person or object performing the action. Independent sentences may have no subject if the verb is transitive but being used reflexively, e.g. sau aʳliris, "(I) took myself." Intransitive verbs only have a subject, e.g. sa giris, "I went." More formally the reflexive pronoun uvihu is given as the object in reflexive sentences: sa uvihau aʳliris, "I took myself."

    Supernominative or nominative complement. The subject complement of a sentence is a noun used when describing what the subject is or is becoming. The Lilitic subject complement case is almost never used; instead the more familiar object case is usually employed.

    Accusative. The object describes a noun being directly affected by an action—walking a dog, eating food, et cetera. The accusative case may also be used in reflexive transitive verbs (see nominative definition, above.) To construct a sentence in the passive voice, see the esh aspect infix for verbs, above.

    Transaccusative or accusative complement. The object complement describes what the object is becoming. In "we elected John president," 'John' is the object and 'president' is the object complement. Be careful of constructs like "we elected John to be president," as this can be constructed word-for-word in Lilitic and produces nonsense (Sai émanaziris tsé Yônno mítevíô vis: "we elected 'John is president' (to some unstated position).").

    Ablative. The origin case describes what the location or condition that began or preceded the events of a sentence. In "I ran from John," "I got it from John," and "I recovered from depression," the English word 'from' is equivalent to the Lilitika case. Preceding circumstances and other causes that push the speaker to perform the action are also marked with the ablative, e.g. "I ran home because school ended" would be translated Sa kwes tsumefe illudústa klatiris sivliris. (I ran home because from that school finished.)

    Dative–allative. The destination case describes the location or condition which is the objective of a sentence. This may be moving to a location, giving something to someone, or creating a set of circumstances. Using causes with the naked dative should be avoided; consider English examples "I ate this for I was hungry" or "I did this for justice". Instead, use oshes or kwes as prepositions, e.g. Sifa olikhe kwes olrilekhtíumefe setiris, "I ate this because of hunger" (with the ablative case, since hunger was the starting condition) and Sifa olikhe zeyeta oshes sariris, "I did this for the purposes of justice" (with the destination case, since justice is the goal).

    Locative. The location case describes the location or conditions under which the sentence is occurring. This condition does not change over the course of the sentence.

    Temporal ablative or egressive. The since case describes the time at which the sentence started.

    Temporal. The while case describes the time during which the sentence occurred. It is ambiguous about whether the events happened during or exactly at the time described. (This can be disambiguated with wes and les.

    Temporal dative or terminative. The until case describes the time at which the sentence ended.

    Vocative. The imperative addressee is a noun being ordered to do something. It normally doubles as the subject of the sentence. Rífa, elihke wonis: You, learn that. There are three different ways of forming an imperative in Lilitika; see section under dialectical shifts.

    Instrumental. The instrumental case describes a tool or method being used by the subject to accomplish the sentence's goals.

    Genitive. The possessive case is an adjective-forming suffix that indicates ownership of one noun by another, comparable to the English -'s ending. The genitive was not well-developed in Archaic Lilitika and is only used for this purpose.

    Formal (Oksí, Íomanazinení) Noun Declensions

    The root of any noun in Lilitic ends in a short -u. The construction of a noun as used in a sentence consists of several components, strung together in the following order:

        <root>[class marker][case]<gender>

    Like verbal inflection, this system of noun declensions in Lilitika is very agglutinative.


    feminine: -a (plural: -asa)
    masculine: -o (plural: -ozo)
    neuter: -e (plural: -ete)
    undeclined: -u

    (The plural of the undeclined gender is never used, but it has been invented by grammarians to be -udu.)

    When reading the dictionary, roots listed with undeclined gender are those that either experience a swing between feminine and neuter depending on historical context (see below) or are possessions of something and thus inherit its declension (such as akhanu ('south'), which is a property of a planet, or afaiku ('silhouette'), which is a property of an object or person.)

    Gender in Lilitic most often corresponds to physical sex; as a result, the vast majority of common nouns are declined in new compositions as neuter. However, certain artefacts inseparable from their corresponding genders (such as clothing, body parts, and representations such as statues) are gendered, as are older terms from Ksreskézaian and words which have been forcibly gendered by poets. These phenomena are very prominent in Lilitika.

    In Oksírapho, Lilitika's primary parent language, the gender system was somewhat different and had an artificial–natural alignment, with -o meaning being the artificial gender and -a being the natural gender. As the Lilitai were not of the Ksreskézai, they were filed under the natural gender by their masters. After attaining their freedom, the Lilitai recategorized the -o gender as essentially masculine, in recognition of the extreme imbalance between the sexes in Ksreskézaian society, although the distinction is not entirely clean. The words westo and sampo are both Lilitic coinages that gained a masculine declension in part because they were seen as courageous and nostalgic concepts, respectively.

    Feminine Fossilization

    In addition, there are a number of semi-personified concepts that the exclusively female Lilitai identified with themselves, some holdovers from ancient languages that still use their ancestral gender in poetic cases (such as atsha from astra), and a whole era in the history of the Lilitai during the Years of the Fringe where the feminine gender was used almost exclusively, spawning many more fossilized feminine usages.

    Masculine Fossilization

    There are also a small number of fossilized masculine usages, such as sampo, where a longer word (sanlí poalelía) was abbreviated until it ended with an 'o', which then became the gender marker. Because the Lilitai characterized the patriarchal Ksreskézai as masculine, words that deal with duty, honour, determinism, strength, or belongingness to such a social hierarchy are more prone to masculine fossilization.

    Gender of Letters

    The names of the letters are all given in the dictionary as having explicit genders and are always kept in these genders. Most of these derive directly from the place of articulation of the corresponding phoneme.

    The Class Marker

    The affix "in" means the speaker is referring to the class of [noun]s, or about [noun]s in general, and is typically combined with a singular gender. Certain abstract nouns may always include the "in" infix, and are usually feminine or neuter.

    Case Endings

    nominative: if (optional)
    supernominative: (u)fil
    accusative: ikh
    transaccusative: (u)khil

    ablative: (u)mef
    dative–allative: (u)mekh
    locative: (u)mel

    egressive: (u)pef
    terminative: (u)kekh
    temporal: (u)tel

    vocative: íf

    instrumental: iw

    The case marker may be dropped in a sentence for various reasons of brevity and representing ambiguity. An unmarked noun is generally assumed to be the subject of the sentence, but can be assumed to be something else by either process of elimination (i.e. the sentence clearly has a subject with a transitive verb, but no object) or using hints from a special mood particle (such as the reciprocal locomotive, in which case the sentence may contain two or more unmarked locations which the subject is interacting with.)

    Compact (Zeyetaní) Noun Declensions

    In casual language these are used in a mixture with the formal declensions. Certain nouns may be habitually associated with a particular formal/informal form in a given case, although such developments are not grammatically ruled.

    case f sing f pl n sing n pl m sing m pl
    NOM a ai ú ai o oi
    NOM_COMPas ais ús aiz os oiz
    ACC au asa é et ô ôt
    ACC_COMPaus ad és ed ôs ôd
    ABL afal afía efal efía ofôl ofío
    DAT akal aklai ekal eklai okôl okloi
    LOC al alai el elai ol oloi
    EGR apas apai epas epai ôpos ôpoi
    TRM akas akai ekés ekai okos okoi
    TMP alta altai eltú eltai ulto ultoi
    VOC ífa ífai ífú ífai ífo ífoi
    INS awa awai ewú ewai owo owoi

    Adjectives and Adverbs

    Formation: [emphasis][negation]<root><suffix>

    Modifiers in Lilitika and Oksirapho function similarly to their function in Indo-European languages: adjectives affect nouns, adverbs can affect adjectives or verbs, and sentential adverbs affect the whole sentence. For the most part, adverbs are formed by replacing the -í suffix on an adjective with the dialect-appropriate adverb suffix (the early -ai suffix had to be replaced when that became a common plural.)

    Adjective-modifying adverbs are relatively rare, but are always obvious because they must be placed directly in front of the adjective they affect, and verbal adverbs must either directly precede or follow the verb. Their roles and functions are comparable to those in English.

    The difference between an adverb and a sentential adverb is subtle; sentential adverbs are often used to provide linking material (such as with pronominal adverbs) or commentary on the tone of a situation. In some cases there may be no distinction between an adverb and a sentential adverb, however, and the sentential adverb simply provides more grammatical flexibility by divorcing the adverb from the verb. Sentential adverbs must always go at the start of the sentence. Fínanéú, sifa likhe setis, "In spite of the situation, I ate it." versus Sifa likhe fínanai setis, "I ate it mockingly."


    adjective: í
    adverb: ai (Íomanazinení), az (Zeyetaní), or ad (some Venrafivíai)
    sentential adverb: éú
    comparative: yéra
    superlative: yéreza

    Comparatives and superlatives are equivalent to "-er" and "-est" in English (e.g. énamorí, énamoryéra, énamoryéreza, "salty, saltier, saltiest.")

    The comparative and superlative forms behave as adjectives despite their unusual endings, but cannot be combined with suffices. A comparative or superlative adjective that does not modify a noun but is in a copular sentence is assumed to be a noun in the subject complement case.

    Use the reduction prefix (below) to form comparatives or superlatives of lessening: linzénamorí, linzénamoryéra, linzénamoryéreza, "undersalted, less salty, least salty." It is considered incorrect in most situations to combine either a comparative or superlative with kel-, lai-, kas-, or genda- (see below).

    Emphasis Prefixes

    emphasis: ka(s)
    de-emphasis: lai(n)
    enhancement: kel
    reduction: linz/lis
    absence: gend(a)

    The emphasis and de-emphasis prefixes are used with comparative and confidence statements to point a trait out or diminish attention to it. Sifa kaspolurivíufila wes olshovutele vis, "I am definitely happy today!"

    The enhancement, reduction, and absence prefixes are used with qualitative adjectives to modify the extent specified. Sifa laigendapolurivíufila wes olshovutele vis, "I am sorta without joy today."

    Adjectives that are commonly combined with the kel- prefix are generally assumed to be "modest" without such a prefix; i.e. to have the right or natural amount of something. Thus evrí means "modest in height," not "of neutral height," nor "high," and may even be taken to mean "somewhat short," despite the fact that the root evru means "height." Lisevrí thus means "very short" and kelevrí means "tall." Additional extremities can be added with the adverb yerai.


    Formal Possession-Indicating Construct

    FPIC particles are a unique feature of Lilitika introduced in the Oksí chronolect to improve expressivity of the language's ability to describe relationships. They are highly analytical in their behaviour and, unlike conventional coordinating conjunctions, do not interrupt the natural grammatical flow of the sentence into which they have been inserted. Sifa lí atetíkha amis simultaneously indicates that the speaker loves a child, and that the child is hers.

    If a noun is inserted using the FPIC that is not part of the sentence's flow, care must be taken to ensure that its status is unambiguous. This usually leads to the "if" subject case ending being used in otherwise-casual language, although it has gradually become common to assume that the right-handed element is grammatically uninvolved if it is in the bare nominative without a marker. In Zeyetaní and later dialects, -e may be used in place of -ú to take a neuter noun out of the true nominative case, as -e is unused in later dialects, though this was unpopular in Zeyetaní because it sounds exactly like -é, the accusative.

  • owns: lí. Lau lí mí hippú sa survalis, "I dread she who owns a horse." The nature of this relationship is undefined and context-dependent; constructs such as "home person" and "person money" are equally valid.

  • of: il. Sifa il la il ra olíel vis, "I, of she who is yours, am here." The nature of this relationship is undefined and context-dependent; constructs such as "person il home" and "result il action" are equally valid.

  • The literary device íkwalitopé consists of framing constructions dependent on these particles in a reversed manner.

  • as (simile): ilú. Alesta ilú atshégía olíel viris; sa lau alaifoineshiris, "The hate which was like dusk was here; I was swallowed by it." This is a very strong comparison, implying that the subject (the hate) had all of the attributes of the object (dusk).

  • as (equivalent): idzhú. Alesta idzhú atshifa olíel viris; sa lau ossiliris oshes zeltetírekhta, "The hate which was sunshine was here; I needed it for living." This is a slightly weaker comparison, implying that the subject (the hate) fulfilled the role of the object (sunshine).

  • sibling to: ilí. Sa ilí ra olíel vis, "I, of her kind, am here." Like lí and il, the nature of the relationship is unspecified.

  • associated with: íé, or "híé" if necessary for clarity. Pola íé rahissa vis elíel repeshil, "Joy associated with truth will be found there." Not only is the nature of the relationship ambiguous here, but so is the direction of the relationship; it may be unknown, nonpolar, or alternating. One of the most common uses of íé is to add on a stateful adjective or epithet as a postmodifier, and is unusual in that the right-hand argument is normally an adjective: Sai widhé híé éthelí trafúím, "Let's read the book proper." (With nouns, direct apposition can be used.)

  • caused by (describing another relationship): kwí. Lifú kwí elú gendalé vis, "The thing which that caused is a problem." This is more or less a shorthand of "tsilu kwes".

  • Conjunctions

  • than: iv (e.g. Sa yerezíé iv élú setir, "I ate more than that," or Olú yerezíe iv dze tsilé sa setir vis, "This is more than that which I ate.")

  • then: des (e.g. Sa sefrai kelí talutele sivliris des lo latiris, "I ran for a sufficiently long duration that he stopped.") des can also be interpreted as a conditional mood marker; see the section titled Conditional Modifiers, above.

  • word levelclause level
    orsú -> síúshú -> shíú
    xornitúnatú -> natíú
    nornasú -> nasíúnashú -> nashíú

    The "í" was inserted in Zeyetaní to avoid conflict with sú ("I/me", gender-neutral nominative.) The other forms were modified to keep the pattern of formation consistent.


    A clause lasts from one of several special marker words until the matching verb. A clause can be extended past this verb by using a word-level conjunction, even though the following words are usually nouns and not more verbs, or a continued subclause can be inferred from context if the parent verb has already passed. See Sarthía's Stillelíai poem on the Lilitika Examples page for uses of the latter method.

    For a detailed syntactical treatment of how these words are used, see the dictionary categories complementizer and relativizer. Their behaviour can be summarized as follows: complementizers are pronouns which are incorporated directly into the parent sentence, and relativizers are pronouns that represent their focus in the subclause. Complementizers thus inflect according to their role in the parent sentence, and relativizers thus inflect according to the role of their focus noun in the subclause.

  • tsu. (Simple complementizer.) Starts an independent clause; generally equivalent to the complementizer usage of "that" in English, as it is generally used for describing an event: Sa tsé ro elurí geristonau seteniris trúiris = "I saw that you were eating that orange." An easy way to remember when to use "tsu" is that the grammar would break if it were replaced with "which" (relativizer; use tsilu or swu) or "this" (demonstrative pronoun; use élu).

  • tsilu. (Simple relativizer, restrictive.) Starts a restrictive relative subclause—that is, an aside that does not grammatically influence the parent sentence, but which reflects an important observation critical to its meaning. The last noun mentioned in the parent sentence becomes an element of the subclause, but its position is indicated by the inflection of tsilu: Samantha-la tsilikha eghilere setatir Lilitikha vis. Samantha-la is the subject of the first clause, but is represented by tsilikha in the subclause, where she takes on the object role. Tsilu can almost always be translated as "which".

  • swu. (Simple relativizer, non-restrictive.) As tsilu, but implying a more distant meaning, especially a non-restrictive subclause. This usage is considered more casual and lazy, but has notable poetic utility. Sta swa elíel viris lé trúiris: "The woman, who was there, saw it." Contrast this with Sta tsila elíel viris lé trúiris: "The woman who was there saw it."

  • oshu. (Purpose relativizer.) Starts a subclause of purpose. Functions grammatically as tsilu, in that its inflection corresponds to that of the preceding noun in the internal sentence. Generally used with the verb ending -inkai (the gnomic imperative) and some other hypothetical tense. Dzaltú oshú élé kotopil olíel vis = "the door which is for revealing that is here" (with kotopil indicating this purpose has not yet transpired, but will definitely occur); olú kedobíé oshé natúmúrinkai vis = "it is hard to heal." (Indicating that something is hard to heal as a general rule.) The -inkai case in this usage specifically indicates that the action would be undertaken by the listener or some other hypothetical person, and discusses the action as a general concern, not something that will definitely occur. With oshu, other cases may be used if the purpose is a specific concrete event that has happened or will happen.

  • hedu, hedí, and hedíu. (Topical relativizer, preposition, and complementizer, respectively.) These can all be translated as "about." They were invented in the Venrafivía period but may appear in Neo-Íomanazinení compositions. Traditionally, an FPIC clause with "il" or "il tsu ..." was used.

  • Mood Particles

  • dí/dhí. The interrogative. Use after normal questions in combination with the appropriate punctuation (the Lilitic question mark) or speaking tone.

  • ke. The middle voice. Either the speaker does not know the direction of action between two objects (with the dubitative or deductive mood), or (with no particular mood) action is transpiring in both directions. The nouns should be left as unmarked formal nouns.

  • kú. The destinate. This can be appended quickly to a sentence to indicate that the meaning of the origin and destinations are reversed. Usually used in cases where someone is returning home from where they left, for poetry and symmetry. A long series of trips between two points can be summarized (to mildly humourous effect) by repeating "kú," similar to repetition of "and back and forth" in English.

  • kí. The reciprocal locomotive. Like the middle voice, either the correct assignment of locations to origin/destination is unclear (with the dubitative or deductive mood), or (with any other mood), action is transpiring repeatedly or in tandem between two or more locations. This is often used when describing flows in a network, such as those of data, environmental carbon, or diplomatic discourse. The counting adjective kotúí is sometimes abbreviated to "kí" as well, although the disparate grammatical roles of the the two words rarely permit confusion. In early dialects this is typically used with just the locative case, but other forms of Lilitika may use it with the ablative (marking the initial origin), the allative-dative (marking the initial or final destination), or the genitive (marking a greater location where all movement occurs.) If all four cases are used, the locative indicates an intermediary point. By analogy with the middle voice, this was historically called the middle destinate.

  • kai. The gnomic particle. Used on its own, this indicates that the statement is generally true, e.g. "A planet orbits its star," pléa lí atshau fovis kai. (This form is often used with the class infix, i.e. "planets orbit their stars," pléina lí atshinau fovis kai.) It also appears in several subjunctive and optative situations, such as the subjunctive-optative-jussive form, with ím in the imperative: "hard to swallow," kedobivíe oshikhe alaifoininkai. kai is not needed in combination with sur, the conditional verb prefix, which provides the hypothetical; gnomic questions featuring "sur" are hence indistinguishable from ones in the immediate aspect.

  • lí. The deductive or dubitative. The sentence contains observations made from indirect evidence.

  • korr. The inferential/renarrative/dubitative. The sentence contains possibly-unverified claims made by others.

  • kin. The potential. The sentence describes something that could happen if circumstances permit: sikhasa hefril kin, roi suralezlatis ím: "we could die if you do not stop." There is also alezkin, "could not". Not to be confused with the subjunctive (-inkai) or the hypothetical (sur-).

  • ím. The indiscriminate imperative. This instructs the audience to create the described circumstances. Polurivikhe vis ím means "be happy now," and polurivikhe vil ím means "be happy later." Gradually this shortened to a verb tense ending, -im, which is uninformative about when action is to occur (but probably soon, as the speaker is clearly in too much of a hurry to say.)

  • kwedzin. Motivational or causal interrogative. Used with dí/dhí to create an inquiry about why something happened. Ra elé sarenis dí? means "Are you doing that?" but Ra elé sarenis kwedzin dí? means "Why are you doing that?" When applied on its own, kwedzin renders a sentence into 'the reason for ...', and is particularly useful with subclauses, e.g. sa tsé ra elé sariris kwedzin woisis, "I know why you did that." Or even more tersely, sa tsé kwedzin woisis, "I know why," without an actual subclause being stated.

  • Particle Modifiers

    This is a general lexical category containing prepositions (noun particle modifiers) and mood modifiers (mood particle modifiers), as well as alez. Most prepositions end in "-es" (e.g. venes and leres). In all cases these are placed before their target; prepositions precede even the later dialects' leading article.

    Question Words

    Questions can be formed simply by using the interrogative mood particle—this asks for confirmation that a sentence is true. In order to ask for other information, such as "who is that?", a template for the desired answer is stated using question words in place of the proper nouns or verbs. Like the subjunctive proxies tsu and tsilu, these are partially considered to be particles.

  • unknown noun: dzu. Dzifa likha vis dí? means "Who is that woman?"

  • unknown act: dzuvé. Lifa dzuvenis dí? means "What is she doing?"

  • why: kwedzin. Lifa elíumele vis kwedzin dí? means "Why is she here?"

  • All of these words can be used outside of questions, as well:

  • Elú vis dzús swé sa sithiris!: "That's what I said!"

  • Tsú ra dzuvatis saravíús vis.: "What you are doing is good."

  • Tsú ra elé setir kwedzin sau glotis.: "Why you did that confuses me."

  • Personal Pronouns, Names, and Articles

    first person: su
    second person: ru
    third person: lu
    this: olu
    that: élu

    In early Lilitika, names are formed as compounds of pronouns, e.g. Samantha-sa. Performing this on a common noun promotes it to 'the': widhe-le = "the storybook". When inflected with class status, the class marker goes to both parts (widhine-line) but sentence position goes only to the article portion (widhine-likhine). This changed with later advances; see dialectical features below.

    The compact numeral (one) is frequently used as the indefinite article, and has a comparable etymology and syntactical role to its English counterpart. However, it is not compulsory; the sentence "Sa wistonau trúiris" ("I saw lemon") is equivalent to "Sa mí wistonau trúiris" ("I saw a lemon").

    Because Lilitika was at first a consciously constructed language, other linguistic elements (such as possessives, quantities, and demonstratives) are realised as adjectives. These words usually bubble to the head of a list of adjectives, creating an ultimate word order along the lines of: "saní kí alví kelpeftí wistonasa-lasa" (my four round overly-ripe lemons-the.)

    Morphological and Phonological Flex

    Certain alternatives and drifts evolved very quickly in archaic Lilitika, and had changed even by the time of Zeyetaní. Some prominent ones are listed here:

  • The past-tense verb ending ir is often rendered or read as iris, even in formal language.

  • The adverb ending ai is replaced with az in non-formal language to prevent it from being confused with the nominative feminine and neuter plurals.

  • (word-level "or") conflicts with the singular neuter nominative first-person pronoun, used often in artistic accounts of inanimate objects, to translate ungendered languages, and to accommodate ungendered aliens. It becomes síú as a result. To match, shú (clause-level "or") becomes shíú, and natú (clause-level "xor") becomes natíú.

  • It is sometimes argued that -ish and -irish were used as spoken alternatives to -eshis and -eshiris, respectively, in Zeyetaní. This is supported by the lenition seen in the Sarasí verb endings and certain Venrafí schemes. It is known that spoken Zeyetaní often deviated quite severely from the written standard, but no written evidence of this particular phenomenon exists.

  • Common Derivational Morphemes

    é -> ekíu: Product of act.
    é -> ekhtíu: Act.
    í -> ivíu: Bearer of adjective.
    u -> uví: Identity.
    í -> ektu: -ness; the quality of ~.
    u -> urí: ~-having. (urí + ivíu -> urvíu)
    (n)- + (u -> uví): ~-ish (e.g. greenish)
    ven-: Under.
    ler-: Over.
    nept-: After.
    dek-: Before.
    alé-: Without.
    sole-: Few; little.
    é -> ezríu: ~er.
    u -> thebovíu or thíu: ~ maker.
    sív-: Top; over; above.
    tro(b)-: Bottom; under.
    ki(p)-: Center; within.
    u -> éyeru: Muchness.
    í -> íyerí: Much; fully.
    é -> ekíurivíu or ekwíu: Professional ~er.
    u -> úebé: To give ~ to.
    úu -> úí: n many; a count of n.
    í -> ilkúé: To make something ~.
    úu -> eví: nth.
    é -> ireshkí: Having been ~ed.
    úu -> anazekí: n-ary.
    u -> uvé: To be ~.
    /bé -> rlí: ~-being. (The r is superscripted.)
    u -> uloé: To use ~.
    é -> arobí: Able to be ~ed.
    é -> olebí: Able to ~.
    -: Genitive.
    tsho(m)-: Before.
    so(m)-: After.
    san(i)-: Near.
    gend(a)-: Without.
    u -> ildtu: Thing of ~.
    pef(í)-: Start.
    kekh(í)-: End.
    (n)-: Compositional similarity.
    no-: nato- + lú-.
    lai(n)-: Strongly.
    ka(s)-: Loosely.
    dzú(n)-: Functional identity (analogy or identity.)
    u -> iptu: Dimunitive ~.
    u -> iníu: Possession of ~.
    u -> ikúé: To make into ~.
    é -> elíu: Place where ~ing occurs.
    é -> arekhtu: ~ability.
    é -> olekhtu: Ability to ~.
    u -> (n/m/ñ)ota: aesthetics of ~.
    u -> thebé: To make a ~.
    u -> iku: ~'s method, style, or approach.
    é -> eneí: ~ing, either currently or eternally.

    Dialectical Features

    There are a number of predictable alternative rules that were introduced quickly by Zeyetaní speakers, and co-existed more or less interchangeably depending on speaker and circumstance, such as the informal noun inflections described earlier. At different times and on different ships, these alternative rules fell into and out of favour, and were the basis for more dramatic diversions later in the language's development. For information on specific dialects, see the Dialectology of Oksirapho and Lilitic, as well as Lilitika Grammar II.


    The system of postfix articles (Samantha-sa) proceeded to a prefix system (sa Samantha) shortly after the standardization of Zeyetaní, with the article being placed after the prepositions (particle modifiers) but before the adjectives. This truncated in some lects to the formal subject ending (a Samantha, asa wistorai). The indefinite article is always , although many contexts do not require an explicit article and so ignore it entirely.

    Determiner Usage

    At first, Lilitika had no compunctions whatsoever about using as many determiners as needed for exactness. (A trait also highly visible in Oksí Lilitika.) This resulted in some very repetitive language being seen as 'proper,' e.g.

        Roní alí stozo-lozo tsilozo saní wistonasa setir roní alí stufilozo-lufilozo tsilozo olímele wes otalutele vis alezvis.
        The five men of yours who ate my lemons are not the five men of yours who are here now.

    While such a sentence never ceased to be grammatically correct, it was quickly recognized as unwieldy, and it became the norm to invoke determiners only to clarify ambiguity:

        Roní alí stoi tsiloi saní wistonai setiris alévis stoiz tsiloi olíel wes oltalta vis.
        Five men of yours who ate my lemons are not men who are here now.

    Or, even more to the point,

        Roní alí stoi tsiloi saní wistonai setiris olíel wes oltalta alévis.
        Five men of yours who ate my lemons are not here now.

    Although the Lilitai grammatically treat most determiners as adjectives, they still bubble to the head of the clause in most cases, suggesting that they are customarily considered a distinct lexical sub-category. Exceptional examples like asa zithí saní khrimai (the purple my hair) or saní foí e bízekíú (my complicated the work) may still be drawn to emphasize topicality:

        Asa zithí saní khrimai idzheshiris saní karsau, Nitorau, tsila kelmoaz oksinurí ferthías vis. Olas saní khrimina vis. Serlí lai vis zithías, khé serlí lai vis lúdenlías.
        My purple hair was given by my friend, Nitora, who is a very skilled artist. This is my hair. Some of it is purple, and some of it is black.

    In this example, the simpler constructs saní zithí khrimai (my purple hair) and asa zithí khrimai (the purple hair) would also have been acceptable, but their usage might lead a listener who had not heard the later sentences to believe that all of the speaker's hair was purple.

    Word Order

    In subclauses, the verb is used to frame the ending of the sentence, but in parent clauses it does not provide any particular advantage to place it consistently at the end of the sentence. As a result it may creep over noun clauses pragmatically, usually to avoid stacking verbs at the end of a sentence containing a subclause: 'Sa tsé ... vis vis' can be converted into 'Sa vis tsé ... vis'. Otherwise, the word order remains largely unchanged between Íomanazinení and Zeyetaní, although in later dialects more radical changes occurred.


    Oksí and Íomanazinení Lilitika were both syntactically very rigid, and it was considered grammatically unsound to form incomplete sentences in them, although poets did it anyway. Because of the level of inflection in the language, however, it is possible to omit entire verb and noun clauses and have them understood from context, much as in English. See alúé (ighet) in the dictionary for a full explanation.

    Use of the Aorist

    The aorist verbal ending, -ihí or -íhí, is used primarily to describe the steps in a process, given that the process has already been established contextually. Most of the time, speakers of Íomanazinení and Zeyetaní used a more specific tense instead; e.g. historical events are described with -ir or -iris, plans are described with -il, and instructions for a repeatable action with -il kai (they will be done later) or -ilis kai (they will be done immediately). However, this can get tedious with long lists, and means that the structural relationship is not specified.

    Some later forms may only use the aorist to avoid the gnomic liquid present (-ilis kai) for brevity's sake, whereas others use it at every opportunity, even sometimes in place of the simple present tense, or to tell a story.

    It is particularly common to use the aorist even in common speech when the time has already been stated unambiguously elsewhere in the sentence: Elí venakoalta, sai egihí: that night, we left.


    In Íomanazinení Lilitika, the only correct way to form an imperative sentence was to include an addressee in the vocative case along with a normal sentence. An irrealis mood, like riz- or ossez-, could be used to push the sentence into the near future and was considered less blunt than a realis sentence: "Rífa, olikhe saris!" (You, do this!) vs. "Rífa, olikhe rezsaris!" (You should do this!)

    In Zeyetaní Lilitika, the -im verb mood was added, making an explicit vocative marker no longer necessary—"Rífa, olé sarim!" and just "Olé sarim!" were equivalent. Since this mood impeded tense information, the irrealis prefixes became a way to suggest the same: rez- being the present tense and riz- being the future. To express an imperative in the past, "wes étaltú" (at then) could be added, but this was cumbersome and rarely used in narratives.

    Accidental use of -im in Íomanazinení texts is often an effective way of detecting neo-Íomanazinení inscriptions.

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