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Grammar of Old Solar

Contents

Nouns

Nouns are, by far, the most common item on the corpus. Regretably, this works as much to our disadvantage as it helps, since it leaves us with a bewildering array of rules, complications, and irregulars which must be painstakingly pieced together into a coherent, logical system.

Gender

Old Solar, like many Latin languages, appears to divide its nouns into masculine and feminine genders. There is one attested noun occuring in both genders: hross, feminine form *hressn. Besides the addition of the final -n, the only difference between the words is the change from  -o- to -e-. It would appear, then, that the gender of Old Solar nouns is determined by (or, perhaps more accurately, marked by) the (first?) vowel. Masculine nouns are marked by -o- and feminine nouns are marked by -e-.

With this knowledge, we can speculate that the nominative form of *cord (which we know to be feminine by its plural form, see Pluralization, below) is *cerd.

Our supposition concerning -o- and -e- is futher supported by the fact that Hnohra and Hyoi are known to be masculine names and that Hleri is known to be a feminine name.

We can also speculate that Hnoh and Hnoo are masculine names; based on other names (Hyahi and Hrikki) we can speculate that -a- also marks masculine nouns and that -i- also indicates feminine nouns (which is consistent with the rules of pluralization); thus we can assume that Hrinha and Hnihi are feminine nouns; we cannot determine the gender of Hlithnahi without knowing which vowel determines gender.

There are, however, a few irregulars: Whin and eldil are both masculine but have -i- as their primary vowel.

Pluralization

Pluralization of masculine nouns
ending in a consonant
or vowel other than a
rule example
1. start with singular noun hross
2. add -a hrossa
Thus hross becomes hrossa
Pluralization of masculine nouns
ending in a
rule example
1. start with singular noun hnakra
2. replace (first?) vowel with é **hnékra
3. move replaced vowel after next consonant **hnéraka
4. replace final -a with -i hnéraki
The swapping of the k and r is probably
caused by an unknown phonlogical rule
Thus hnakra becomes hnéraki
Pluralization of feminine nouns
ending in a consonant
or vowel other than i
rule example
1. start with singular noun *hressn
2. add -i hressni
Thus *hressn becomes hressni
Examples of irregular pluralization
singular plural
oyarsa oyéresu
hnau hnau

One might expect that the pluralization of a noun would be one of the simplest processes a language possesses (while you nod at how logical that seems, try to ignore, for example, geese, mongooses, feet and goosefoots). Unfortunately, this is not the case with Old Solar. Let’s start with a few examples:

That seems to be simple enough, but it doesn’t help explain this:

If you’re thinking that there still might be a simple explanation, it’s because you haven’t seen these ones yet:

Then, just to confuse matters a little more, let’s add in:

Now that we have the facts laid out, let’s see what we can make of them.

One thing that we notice immediately is that hross and hmân are masculine nouns, whereas *hressn and *cerd are feminine nouns. The first rule that we can determine, then, is that masculine nouns are pluralized by adding -a and feminine nouns are pluralized by adding -i.

Moving on to the irregular é-formations, we note that hnakra and oyarsa are masculine nouns. The reason for the irregular plurals, then, is likely that both words already end in -a and thus, by whatever rules govern these “irregulars”, become hnéraki and oyéresu instead of **hnakraa and **oyarsaa.

We note first that in both cases the first vowel (excepting any initial vowel) becomes é. In hnakra, the replaced a moves past the next consonant, splitting the cluster, and a final -i is added, replacing the -a (note that this is very similar to pluralization in Surnibur). The strange switching of k and r is probably explained by some phonological rule of which we are ignorant. In oyarsa, however, an e is added past the consonant following the changed vowel, also splitting a cluster, and a -u replaces the -a.

Since the pluralization of hnakra is semi-regular (a similar formation being attested in Surnibur, a “child” of Old Solar), we can guess that it is how masculine nouns ending in -a are usually pluralized. The pluralization of oyarsa is probably either a “real” irregular, or the difference stems from some distinction between it and other masculine nouns of which we are unaware.

Although it is nowhere attested, feminine nouns already ending in -i probably have similar, special rules.

The pluralization of *Perelendra (a genitive form of Perelandra, which is apparently a feminine noun), Perelendri, suggests that if a masculine or feminine noun ends in a vowel other than -a or -i, respectively, the plural suffix replaces the final vowel.

Finally, the plural of hnau (which is also hnau) has a few possible explanations, none of which are verifiable. The most likely are that it ends in a diphthong, which might cause a word to have special pluralization rules, or that it might be neuter in gender (which is possible, given that the word can refer to male or female beings).

Possessive Case

Old Solar noun cases
(*cerd)
  singular plural
nominative1 *cerd *cerdi
possessive *cord cordi
genitive ? ?
(Perelandra)
  singular plural
nominative Perelandra -
possessive ? -
genitive *Perelendra Perelendri

There are three nouns attested in the possessive case: hru, the possessive of hrû, *cord, the possessive of *cerd (we can guess that the nominative form is *cerd, since the plural of *cord, cordi indicates that it is a feminine noun), and harendrimar, the possessive of *harandramar.

Hru, “blood of” is attested in Arbol hru, “Arbol’s blood” or “blood of Arbol”, *cord, “field of”, is attested in *Arbol-ef-Cordi, “Fields of Arbol”, and harendrimar, “hill of”, is attested in Tai Harendrimar, “Hill of Life”. All of these examples indicate that if a noun, Y, is made possessive it means “of Y” and that X Y, where Y is possessive, means “X’s Y” or “Y of X”.

It seems that to make a noun possessive, one mutates the (first?; but this cannot be the case with *harandramar) vowel: û becomes u, e becomes o and a becomes e. Rules for other vowels cannot be determined.

If one wishes to pluralizes a possessive noun, it appears to be done following the rules whereby the nominative form would normally be pluralized. Cordi, for example, would mean “fields of”.

Genitive Case

In addition to its possessive case, Old Solar would appear to also have a genitive case. The genitive is similar to the possessive in function, but whereas the possessive indicates ownership (Arbol hru, the blood belonging to Arbol, *Arbol-ef-Cordi, the Fields belonging to Arbol), the genitive indicates an association or origin: Hlab-Eribol-ef-Cordi, the language associated with the Fields of Arbol, Oyarsa-Perelendri, the oyéresu associated with Perelandra.

The two attested examples of the genitive in Old Solar are those already given: Eribol, the genitive of Arbol and Perelendra, the genitive of Perelandra. These are used in the phrases Hlab-Eribol-ef-Cordi, “the language of the Fields of Arbol” and Oyarsa-Perelendri, “the Oyéresu of Perelandra”. Thus, X Y, where Y is genetive, means “Y’s X” or “X of Y”.

In both cases, the genitive is formed by changing a (which?) vowel to e. An -i- is added to Arbol in the formation of Eribol, although it is not entirely clear why.

A genitive noun, it would appear, is pluralized by following the same rules one would use to pluralize its nominative form. The meaning of the plural genitive is curious however: Oyarsa-Perelendri means not “Oyarsa of Perelandras” (which would not make sense, given that Perelandra is a single planet), but “Oyéresu of Perelandra”. Thus, it would appear that pluralizing the genitive does not pluralized only the genitive (or, in this case, even the genitive), but the entire phrase it is used, without the need for pluralizing the other (plural in English) nouns, which is why the phrase is Oyarsa-Perelendri, not **Oyéresu-Perelendri.

Articles

A definite article (English “the”) is attested: ef in *Arbol-ef-Cordi, “the Fields of Arbol”. Articles appear to come before the noun they modify.

It should be note that ef modifies a feminine, plural, possessive noun, although whether this affects the definite article’s formation, along with virtually all other information concerning articles, is unknown.

Adjectives

The corpus contains but a few adjectives, but we can still determine a bit about their use in Old Solar.

Formation

Many of the attested adjectives (thulc, *malac, *perel, *glund, *lurga, *mit, *har and *mar) have no known noun form; two, however, do: *hress, plural hressa, the adjective form of hross, and hnau, that adjective form of hnau.

In the *hress, the o of hross is mutated into an e. In hnau, the noun is simply used as an adjective.

Based on the way that the adjectives are used, it seems that the e-formation is used to make adjectives meaning “pertaining to [noun]”, whereas the noun-formation is used to make adjectives meaning “[noun]-like”. There are probably other formations as well, although we have no way of knowing what they are.

Pluralization

Pluralization of adjectives
rule example
1. start with singular adjective *hress
2. pluralize as you would the adjective’s noun form hressa
Thus *hress becomes hressa

Adjectives seem to be pluralized the same way that their noun form is: *hress adds -a to make hressa, just as would hross.

It is interesting to note the usage of the plural adjective: hressa, despite its plurality, is only attested as modifing a singular noun, hlab. It would appear that, instead of the adjective needing to agree in number with the noun it modifies, the number of the adjective actually affects its meaning: hressa appears to mean “pertaining to all the hrossa”, whereas *hress would, presumably, mean “pertaining to a single hross”.

Position

The adjectives without attested noun forms are only ever seen used in the making of compund words (usually with handra). *Hress, however, is attested as modifying a noun: Hressa-Hlab, “hrossian language”.

Adjectives appear, then, to come before the noun they modify.

Verbs

Three verbs are attested: wondelone, hlutheline and urendi. Wondelone and hlutheline are probably infinitives, although they might be conjugated into the third-person singular (conditional?). The final -ne on both might be indicative of either an infinitive or that tense (although it might also be the -elone/-eline, with the -o- and -i- indicating some difference of which we are unaware.

Urendi is conjugated inot the third-person singular, present (?) (Maleldil is the subject), although a second-person singular direct object may also be indicated in some way (the sentance is Urendi Maleldil; no meaning is given, but it seems to mean something on the order of “God bless you”2). Beyond these simple observations, nothing more can be said.

Sentance Structure

The only attested sentance is Urendi Maleldil. No meaning is given, but it seems to mean something like “God bless you”. If this is the case, the verb proceeds the subject, although it is not clear if Old Solar is an OVS, VOS or VSO language; simple objects, it would seem, can be indicated on the verb itself.

Also, as discussed above, adjectives seem to come before the nouns the modify.

1 – assuming, of course, that Old Solar is nominative-accusative, not absolutive-ergative.
2 – MacPhee calls this a “blessing” (ths ch. 17, sub. 6, para. 66), but since he doesn’t actually speak Old Solar (ths ch. 10, sub. 4, para. 11) that doesn’t prove anything.

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