Lilitika is an inflected
language, which means that in order to form words correctly in a sentence, the spelling and pronunciation changes slightly with context. English, by contrast, is a very inflectionally poor language, using only a handful of suffices (such as -(e)s for plurals or -ing for imperfect verbs) in order to communicate how the sentence fits together. For the most part, it relies on word order to determine what adjectives and nouns mean what, or even if the speaker is asking a question. Furthermore, we use prepositions
, such as "on" or "at", in order to convey things like location, destination, or time of occurrence. Lilitika also has a preposition system, but it is not required as often as English's is. (We will discuss them in the chapter Prepositions
Each different role a word can adopt in a sentence is called a case
by linguists. To understand the grammar of a language properly, you must know the cases it uses and what meanings they convey. We will use the following sentence for our examples in Sarasí:
Sarah, I walk Jane's dogs in the park out of guilt for her with a passion, from the forest to the river, from dawn till dusk every day.
- Nominative. This indicates the subject of the sentence, which is the person performing the action, such as "I" in the sentence above. Sometimes the meaning of this is reversed, however; in the sentence "my leg was bitten by the dog," the leg is the subject, not the dog. (Such sentences are said to be in the passive voice rather than the active voice; we will encounter them in Verbs IV.)
- Accusative. This indicates the direct object of the sentence, which is what the action is being done to. Not all sentences have a direct object. In the example sentence, the dogs are the direct object.
- Vocative. This indicates the person being addressed. "Sarah" is the audience in this sentence, even though she does not participate in what is happening.
- Instrumental. Instruments are things the subject uses to accomplish the task, such as tools or mindsets. "With" often indicates an instrument in English, but it can also indicate what Lilitika speakers think of as a second subject: "I drew the picture with the pencil" is an instrumental usage, but "I went with Amelia to the theatre" is not.
- Genitive. This indicates a possessive, equivalent to "Jane's" in the sentence above or "of home" in "Memories of home filled her mind." In some languages (including archaic English) it is possible to use these as free arguments in the sentence without a noun to modify, such as "She partook of the juice" to mean "She drank from the juice."
- Nominative Complement and Accusative Complement. These are used in 'being' statements and 'changing' statements to convey the final state:
We made her our leader.
- nominative complement: I am a student.
- accusative complement:
- Ablative. Expresses the origin of an action. "From the forest" and "out of guilt" in the sentence above would both be in the ablative case.
- Locative. Expresses the location of an action. "In the park" above would be in the locative case.
- Dative. Expresses the destination or objective of an action. "For her" and "to the river" in the sentence above would both be in the dative case. The literal destination is often called the allative, and indeed in some languages the case is called dative-allative, but for our purposes we will simply call it the dative.
- Egressive. Expresses the starting time of an action, e.g. "from dawn" in the sentence above.
- Temporal. Expresses the time of an action, e.g. "every day" in the sentence above.
- Terminative. Expresses the ending time of an action, e.g. "till dusk" in the sentence above.
- Identify the roles of each noun in the sentence, and their corresponding cases in Sarasí Lilitika.
- My friend and I went to the store by train.
- After the rain ended, they drove us out onto the street with their dogs.
- Why were we in the city yesterday?
- Back home, it's monsoon season.
- The truth shall set you free.
- When will you stop wasting our time? (Hint: the verb is "stop.")
- Put this above your other priorities.
- Select an appropriate phrasing for each combination of noun and case.
- winter + ablative
- we + accusative
- yesterday + egressive
- him + nominative
- a schoolroom + accusative complement
- academia + dative
- home + dative
- me + genitive
- they + nominative complement