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Lilitika Grammar
Lilitika Grammar II
Describing Venrafivía and Sarasí dialects.
This document describes the development of Classical Lilitika through its early phases, from its origins in the Venrafivíai, or "slang" dialects, up to the end of the Sarasí period. Sarasí proved to be a much more viable literary language than the Archaic-period dialects had, and as a result a larger portion of the population chose to express themselves in metre than had previously. In addition, Sarasí would subsequently give rise to both Illeran and Ketalán, and later dialects such as Dísséan and Academic Lilitic would draw reference back on the literary abundance of the period.

Common Venrafivíai changes

Adverb endings

In addition to -ai and -az from Íomanazinení and Zeyetaní, other suffices, most notably ad, appeared in most dialects where -ai was unusable. The Venrafivíai with 'adí' also contract -urí + -adí to -udí.

Case reduction

Like many Terran languages, the locative and temporal cases atrophied during the Venrafivíai period. In Lilitic this is accomplished by placing all such words in the locative case, but using an appropriate particle modifier. The -es stem of the particle modifier is removed and replaced with the ending that would have originally been found on the noun.

koisumefa (from home; Íomanazinení formal) ->
koisafal (from home; informal) ->
mes koisafal (from at home; informal) ->
mafal koisal (from at home; Zeyetaní inflections) ->
mavan koisas (from at home; Sarasí inflections)

When no other preposition is used, the prepositions wes (when), les (during), and mes (at) can be inserted.

Other cases are unaffected by this change, although the subject complement is generally replaced with the direct object in sentences where a copula is employed.

This pattern of case reduction was abandoned in the Sarasí Lilitika standard, but was readopted again later by Illeran.

In some cases the nominative case is used in place of the locative, e.g. to emphasize a plural which would otherwise be invisible. Sarasí texts often decline their prepositions in order to convey this, even though it is, strictly speaking, ungrammatical; this eventually was replaced with using caseless (Íomanazinení unmarked) forms instead.

If multiple prepositions are present, only the last one is inflected. When used to disambiguate the temporal locative, wes and les should go last.

Imperatives (continued)

Various Venrafivíai dialects reintroduced the ím particle as a way to let the tense co-exist with the imperative trait. This was incorporated in the Sarasí standardisation, and used whenever -im (which is liquid present or aorist depending on context) was insufficient. Thus distant requests would be "Ra olé saril ím" (You will do this), and nearby requests would be "Ra olé sarim" (You are about to do this), and really urgent requests would be "Ra olé saris ím" (You do this). However, it might be more natural to ask "Alez ra olé sarenis kwedzin dí?" (Why aren't you doing this now?)

The vocative survives mostly in fringe cases when the speaker needs to clarify to whom she is addressing, such as at the start of a speech or when listing off orders to a group of people. It is not generally the same as the subject of a sentence, and a sentence must contain either -im or ím to be imperative. Hence "Rífa, olé saril" means "You will do this" to a speaker of Zeyetaní, but "You, this will be done" to a speaker of Sarasí or later dialects.

Venrafivíai conjugation

Certain Venrafivíai dialects may permit the appending of arbitrary pronouns or nouns to verbs, using either i, ú, or the word il ("of") as a linker, thus -ista (by a woman) and -isa (by me) are not uncommon. Some Venrafivíai eliminated the nominative case almost entirely in favour of such constructs. Others simply drop the initial "i" from the Zeyetaní endings. (See Timeline and Perspective.)

Constructs such as vissa (I am) and virdra (you were) were particularly persistent irregularities in spoken Lilitika long after the Venrafivíai dialects were marginalized by restandardization. Many speakers struck compromises by simply placing the sentence's subject after the verb, i.e. vis sa, which is pronounced more or less the same as the Venrafivía form vissa.

Example conjugation—'Mota' argolect

See the section on Sarasí conjugation for the definitions of unfamiliar tenses. Shown are the feminine forms, which were the default; these can be replaced with masculine or neuter forms for dramatic effect.

The Mota argolect (Mota lí Venrafivía) was the common dialect aboard the Mota, one of the Lilitai's two major colony ships. It showed a generally conservative pattern to the person-enhanced Zeyetaní standard, but with a few innovations such as the inversion of compound verb endings (e.g. "isir" for standard "iris".)

Active Voice

tense1st2ndd. 2nd3rd1st pl.2nd pl.d. 2nd pl.3rd pl.Ossa
d pastisirisiritaisiridraisiritraisirúlaisiritaiisiridraiisiritraiisirúlaiisiritossa
f impimilimilitaimilidraimilitraimilúlaimilitaiimilidraiimilitraiimilúlaiimilitossa

Passive Voice

tense1st2ndd. 2nd3rd1st pl.2nd pl.d. 2nd pl.3rd pl.Ossa
d pastessiressiritaessiridraessiritraessirúlaessiritaiessiridraiessiritraiessirúlaiessiritossa
f impemilemilitaemilidraemilitraemilúlaemilitaiemilidraiemilitraiemilúlaiemilitossa

Formal nominative clarification in FPIC constructs

In Íomanazinení, unbound nouns could be used with FPIC particles to show they had no normal role in the sentence:

    Sa lí fladegifa dzheruvíkha vis.
    My fingernail is red.

However, with Zeyetaní's dropping of formal infixes, it became ambiguous as to how to parse a sentence with FPIC particles but no infixes. By the Venrafivíai, it was established convention that any unbound singular noun should be put into Íomanazinení unbound form, and that only arguments which were bound that sounded the same as such (i.e. -a, -é, or -o) would require the classic formal infix (-if- for -a, -o, and emerging Saras. -é; -ikh- for older Zeyet. -é).

The sesu pronoun

sesu captures the previous FPIC particle and heads a noun complex that refers to the relationship described by that particle:

    Sa íé la sesú amau vis kai.
    Me and her, that relationship is love.

It is similar to English relative pronouns such as "that", but can only apply to FPIC relationships (in this case the one governed by íé).

Sarasí Lilitika inflection

  • Clusters in parenthesis disappear if they follow a vowel.

  • Clusters in square brackets disappear if they follow a consonant.

  • Other collisions between stem and ending letters resolve according to the standard rules (e.g. merging of é + é)

  • Empty table cells should be copied from the left.

  • The leading vowels in nominative complement (NC) forms are always silent, and are only included for legibility in the Latin alphabet. More careful transcription uses a middle dot ( · ) instead. They do not appear in Titína at all. saha or s·ha should be transcribed and pronounced as S followed by an aspirated A. The dot or intermediate vowel can be omitted entirely if the preceding vowel or consonant is unambiguous, e.g. in vúlha.

  • Adjectives and adverbs

    Adjectives end in -í if preceeding and -is if following. The -is form is particularly popular in generating copula-less statements of being, and derives from the Zeyetaní subject complement case (as/ais/ús/aiz/os/oiz).

    Adverbs end in -ya, -ad, -adí, or -adis. The -adis form is for postmodifiers, just like the -is suffix for adjectives. Sentential adverbs still end in -éú.


    Sarasí noun classes are not as gender-bound as earlier dialects, owing primarily to a fad of feminine names ending in "e", "ú", and "o". As a result, variant declensions are used when gender does not match grammatical class. Notably, the "o" declension is still the only class with a distinct masculine inflection.

    -a Declension

    The -a declension stems from the ancient Ksreskézaian 'natural' class. It originally contained all things that were not people or artificial. By the time of Zeyetaní, most such nouns had been reclassified in the -e declension, but any words considered of poetic importance remained in -a, as did most Lilitic names. The "nat" gender should be used for supernatural or poetic nouns without a true feminine or female character.

    sing. fem.sing. nat.

    -e Declension

    The -e declension was invented by the Lilitai in early experiments as an alternative to the -a declension as a political compromise; at first it was used to describe mundane things that did not feel "natural" or "synthetic" (e.g. dust), but later grew to encompass most objects. The -e ending in the "nat" gender is also used to describe things and groups of uncertain or mixed gender. The feminine -e declension is reserved for feminine names ending in -é, and to emphasize when an e-declension natural object has been feminized in some way, e.g. by becoming the possession of a woman, without destroying its natural -e character by feminizing it all the way.

    sing. fem.sing. nat.

    -o Declension

    The -o declension stems from the ancient Ksreskézaian 'artificial' class, and (at least mythically) predates the -a declension. It is used to describe all things created by the Ksreskézai, including themselves (the English word "Ksreskézai" comes from a Zeyetaní neuter plural.) The Lilitai, noting the male-dominated culture of their former masters, identified it as a masculine gender, although it already contained objects they considered neuter (such as buildings) and feminine (such as female Ksreskézaians.) Later additions to the -o declension include sensations compatible with the Ksreskézaian warrior culture (safety, victory, etc.) and new feminine names. Lilitai who later identified as Egrekeloi often used the masculine gender even before their awakening, as did many of the Ksreskézaian loyalists in the 1st C. lilpo.

    sing. artif.sing. malesing. fempl. malepl. fem.


    In Sarasí Lilitika, the perspective suffixes were distilled into permanent fixtures describing agency, rather than perspective. Thus Zíthara vité in Sarasí is equivalent to Sa Zíthau vis in Zeyetaní.

    The core tenses/moods are as follows:

  • Present, past, and future describe events that happen, that did happen, and that will happen, respectively, as in many other languages. They are simple tenses, modifiable by the aspect infixes listed further down.

  • The deep past (d past) tense is for referring to (a) prior events in stories set in the past, where an English speaker might resort to the past perfect, (b) ancient history, or (c) events from long ago. In Zeyetaní, the deep past almost completely dominated the past tense so that it was used for anything older than a day; Sarasí speakers tend to be less exaggerative.

  • The liquid (liq) tense covers the inchoative present, the immediate future, and the progressive present. It is traditional to use this in place of the simple present as well in order to convey optimism. Égita may be translated variously as "I go," "I am going," or "I will go."

  • The aorist (aor) tense is used to continue a description of a series of events when the correct tense is already known or may be variable, such as when giving a set of instructions or recounting a story (although the past tense may be preferred for some literary styles.)

  • The imperative (imp) mood is used to express instructions that are to be carried out immediately. This is more specific than the Zeyetaní imperative -im ending.

  • The future imperative (f imp) mood is used to express instructions that are to be carried out later. Like the present imperative mood.

  • The subjunctive-optative-jussive (soj) mood is used to express wishes, desires, or repeatable actions. It derives from the subjective imperative (-inkai) of Zeyetaní, but was more heavily used: Oshekú sara aminrai tshayita, "For you to love me I do hope;" (optative) Oshekú lenú paitinkrai sarasíha vizé, "It is easy (for one) to see;" (purposive) Adíhoïnrai sarasadis, "I would have you breathe easily." (jussive) If used in an oshu subclause with tshayé or a similar verb (as in the first example) the parent verb is arguably redundant, and generally considered emphatic.

  • Verbs of Agency (Active Voice) (-é roots)

    Aspirate the leading vowel if the inflection results in a difficult or metrically inconvenient diphthong.

    s. 1sts. 2nds. d2nds. 3rdpl. 1stpl. 2ndpl. d2ndpl. 3rd
    d pastiritéidzéetéisúlaireiaidazaeteiaisúa
    f impintaindraintrainzaintinindinintrininzin

    General rule for forming plural verb endings: idr in 2p becomes id, é terminal becomes eia (causing leading <é> to lose its accent and become e), and terminal a becomes in, except for future which becomes eia too. Irregularities are marked with underlines.

    Verbs of Experience (Passive Voice) (-eshé, -ahé roots)

    s. 1sts. 2nds. d2nds. 3rdpl. 1stpl. 2ndpl. d2ndpl. 3rd
    d pastirishéidhéethéishúlaisheiaidhazaetheiaishúa
    f impinthaindaraintarainzarainthinindarinintarininzarin

    General rules for forming passive endings from active ones: inject fricatives in place of plosives and sibilants, reflecting merger of older esh infix with endings. When result is too complex, insert ar after plosive instead. Irregularities marked with underlines.

    The ² forms denote widely-accepted alternatives.

    Other moods and aspects

    The subjunctive mood is still communicated for non-imperative forms by bracketing with tsu, tsilu, oshu, swu, and other particles.

    The infixes for key aspects have been preserved and expanded:

  • Progressive: -en- infix (I am doing that.)
  • Perfect: -at- infix (I have done that.)
  • Inchoative: -ep- infix (I start to do that.)
  • Cessative: -ek- infix (I stop doing that.)

  • Ordering: -ep-/-ek- -at- -en-

    The enclitic particles for other moods and categories have been preserved:

    enclitic meaning
    passive destinate (inversion of dative and ablative)
    reciprocal locamotive (repeated flow between dative and ablative)
    ke middle voice (reciprocation between object and subject, or participation in an activity)
    kin potential (might)
    korr inferential renarrative (quoted from another)
    kai gnomic (in general)
    deductive or dubitative (inferred from evidence)
    interrogative (active verbs)
    dhí interrogative (passive verbs)
    kwedzin meaning interrogative (“why?”)

    Many irrealis moods formerly indicated only by prefixes are now optionally adverbs:

    prefix adverb meaning
    nato natya reversal (undo)
    alé/ez alya negation (do not)
    rez réya compelled (somehow)
    ifez iféya compelled by desire
    riz rizeya compelled by law
    ossez ossiya compelled by the universe

    "alya" can be combined with the others, to various effects; for example:

    alriz alrizeya not compelled by law
    rizalé/ez rizalya forbidden by law

    Late Sarasí neutralization of degenerate locatives

    The neutral case is the use of Íomanazinení-style unmarked noun endings to indicate a nominal has no grammatical role in the main structure of the sentence. This is normally used with unbound FPIC arguments (see Lilitika Grammar), and throughout most of the Sarasí period, the correct way to form a noun in the ablative, locative, dative, or temporal cases was to use the locative ending on the noun itself, and fully inflect a preposition if present. Later style has such a preposition becoming mandatory.

    By the end of the Sarasí period, however, this agreement became seen as redundant, especially since the dative case can represent the indirect object (thereby making the locative association spurious.) As a result, the neutral forms (-a/-asa, -e/-ete, -o/-ozo) became preferred in these situations, both shortening the singular forms by one phoneme and once more disambiguating plural forms.