Yatay Yatay Yotoh – Deconstructing Ubese Part II

You are going to want to make sure you read the first part of this post, here, but we are reverse-engineering Boushh’s language from Return of the Jedi.

boushh rotjThere are a few steps we have to take before we can begin translating phrases into our own version of Ubese. First step, phonology (the sounds of the language). We have to decide what sounds this language has (and doesn’t have). Known consonants: t, ch. Known semi-vowels: y. Known vowels: a, ay, o.
That’s not going to be enough sounds, even for a minimalistic language. I had to make some decisions about the phonoaesthetic of this language, and I decided that the tongue would never go past the teeth, either because of alien physiology or culture or whatever.

Also, to my ears, a b sound just doesn’t fit in with the phonoaesthetic of this language. In fact, I want to stay away from voiced consonants altogether. BUT, Boushh’s name has a B, he is supposed to be from Uba, and the Ubese’s name also has a B. Although sometimes explorer’s incorrectly name things due to the constraints of their own language, I found it difficult to rationalize striking out the B sound. SO, I decided to attach great importance to the B sound. So here’s the phonology I came up with:
Consonants – t, sh, ch, k, n, l, hh (an h sound further back in the throat), and y as a consonant or semi-vowel (B as well, but it won’t be in any common words); vowels – ee, ay, i, a, u, o (the six vowels compare with these six words: beet, bait, bit, bat, butt, boat). I decided to omit the P sound, because the B is so important, we don’t want another sound being confused with it, but the B is only used in holy names or something.

Next step, morphology (how the sounds of the language are put together). We already have a basic word demonstration in our examples, so lets stay with that . One word is basically a phrase, the meaning of which can be deepened, shifted, extended, etc. if the word is reduplicated, or different stresses are used. Words will consist of open-syllables (meaning the syllables start with a consonant and end with a vowel). I went to Fantasist.net to try out the phonology and see what kind of words I got from the word generator. I’ll post the entire word list it gave me here, so you can see the results: tiya, keeto, sheeli, kayyo, teechu, hhaylo, kashu, chuta, litay, naychu, sheenay, shosha, chayshay, tayyu, yaykay, chochu, sheehho, lanee, naylee, kayto, sheekay, kuti, hhahha, tayyi, luna, shushay, yohha, yakee, luhho, taynu, hheena, lalee, naku, kika, nuyee, yukay, kaysha, lochu, yoko, shayay, shuyo, yisha, tihhi, shocha, cheeni, koshay, kuhha, luno, yohho, tichay.

Remember, as you read these, that you have to use the correct vowels; some of the words look like they could be pronounced a certain way in English, i.e. kayyo looks like it could be pronounced with an i sound as in ‘hi,’ but that sound is not in the phonology – its kayyo and the ay sounds like bait or bray. Not all of them sound exactly right to me, but looking through them I could easily come up with phrases that “sounded right” to me, as though Boushh might have spoken them as well; “yakee, yakee, teechu,” or “shocha kayyo.”

Okay, back to the six sentences! Here are the sentences mentioned at the end of part I: The apple is red. It is John’s apple. I give John the apple. We want to give him the apple. He gives it to John. She gives it to him. Creating these sentences in the conlang will help us flesh out the grammar and syntax. So far, its fairly simple: whichever word comes first is the verb, which is inflected with the first vowel, and the second word is the object, which can also be inflected. So, by this rule, if you switched the phrase ‘yatay yotoh,’ to ‘yotoh yatay,’ the meaning would then become something like ‘He rewards my coming.’

We better nail down the inflection rule. The first vowel sound of a two-or-more syllable word will show the inflection. Ok, so I = a, you = i, it/he/she = o, we = ay, they = u. Yatoh = my reward, yitoh = your reward, yotoh = his reward, yaytoh = our reward, yutoh = their reward

“The apple is red.” First, how would this be said? I don’t think you would even say “apple;” it would be implied by context or by pointing at it. So you would basically be saying “It is red.” Even though we’re not using the word yet, let’s make the word for apple be “yocho,” and make the word for red be “keenay.” S0, The apple is red = Konay. Or, more literally, something like “It is redding.”

“It is John’s apple.” Again, I wonder how much would be said and not implied. First of all, John would be translated into Yohnu (no J sound and must use open syllables). It is such a simple, basic, young language that the more I thought it, the more I felt that they would not have a rule indicating possession. They would just point or hold up the apple and say “Yohnu!” This leaves it so open that I wonder if speakers would be too easily confused. So I made a rule anyway: possession is indicated with an added inflected syllable at the end of the word. Yohnuta = I am to-John. Yohnuto = It is to-John. Yohnutay = We are to-John. And so on. OR, you could also say Yochoto = Apple to-him, pointing at John or something. But, it is extremely rude to use this if you don’t need to; it implies the listener is stupid or something.

“I give John the apple.” I give = Kakee. Now, would we use the possessive rule again? , I think if you’re saying that you give something you would only spell out either the apple or to who you are giving, but not both. Kakeeto = I give (something) to-him. OR Kakee yocho = I give apple (to him).

“We want to give him the apple.” We want = Yayno. We give = Kaykee. But how do we communicate “We want to give” where we have not yet given? We need another rule here. Lets make a new suffix we can add to connote past or future tense. No marker for present tense, but -ko = past tense, -kay = future tense. So, Yayno kaykeekay yocho = We want (to) we give (in the future) apple.

“He gives it to John.” He gives = Kokee. He gives to-John = Kokee Yohnuto. No new rules needed. The it would be implied.

“She gives it to him.” She gives = Kokee. She gives to-him = Kokee toto. Again, no new rules needed. The it would be implied.

Okay, so this concludes part II. We have a phonology, morphology, some grammar and syntax, and a phonoaesthetic. This is pretty limited but we have something to work with.

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