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Learn the Tongue of the Sunless World

Discussion in 'Chaos Space Marines' started by Kilrane, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    Nostraman Grammar and Usage Notes
    1. Introduction

    Please keep in mind that, although a lot of information is presented here, in this edition the language is VERY limited. This edition is focused on giving the language some structure and with it the ability to produce basic phrases and sentences; much like a basic language primer. With this in mind, the language is quite predictable not yet very “flowery.” In later editions, we can add more tenses, question words, location and time phrases, and more ways to combine and create new words and phrases.

    We are going to provide a vocabulary that can be useful in later creative constructions of new words and phrases. Some words are directly from the original text, some are new creations using given root words, and many are completely new (i.e. not found in the original text). In the following sections, I will explain how to pronounce the language and to produce phrases and sentences.

    2. Sounds

    First, the sounds of the language are what give it its aesthetic character. Most of the language seems to follow English conventions of sound and spelling. For example, it is unclear from the given text whether there is a difference in sound between “a,” “aa,” and “ah.” So working under the assumption that each letter is pronounced, resulting in subtle differences in pronunciation. The following chart shows all the distinct sounds found in Nostraman. Those without notes are pronounced as in English.


    Some vowels are followed by consonants which in English would not necessarily be pronounced. In Nostraman, they are always pronounced.


    Incompatible Sounds

    When vowels from different syllables meet, they can either both be pronounced, or one can be contracted. The appearance of an apostrophe (‘), as in kosh'eth tay “thank you very much” indicates a vowel has been contracted, either because of idiom or because it clashed with a vowel from a different syllable. (ex. kosh’eth “many thanks” = koshi + eth). There is no hard and fast rule for which vowel is contracted and which kept.

    When two consonants meet, such as at the end of one syllable and the beginning of another, they can either both be pronounced or have a vowel such as “i” or “a” placed between them. Some consonant combinations are very awkward and necessitate vowels, such as “sh+sh”, “th+th,” but there is no rule to govern which are acceptable and, if unacceptable, which vowel to use. This decision is up to the aesthetic of the speaker.

    3. Syllables

    In English, syllables can end in almost any consonant sound and multiple consonants can be pronounced without a vowel in between (i.e. consonant clusters). Nostraman is more limited in this regard. Only certain consonants can come at the end of a syllable, and there are fewer observed permissible consonant clusters.

    Syllables are divided like this:

    nereoss – ne . re . oss

    mahfu – mah . fu

    kothrillay – koth . ril . lay


    The following chart shows observed permissible consonant clusters at the beginning and ending of syllables (more can be added). If there are two consonants in the middle of a word, then they are part of two different syllables and therefore not a cluster (ex. jasca = jas . ca, not ja . sca) NOTE: consonants that are part of the vowel (i.e. ay, ah, ey, eh) are not included in these rules.


    As of now there are not many, but more acceptable clusters can arise.

    4. Basic Sentence

    As a self-described “flowery” language, there is no one correct way to form a sentence in Nostraman. Generally, the verb comes after the subject before the object, but not every sentence has a verb and not everything that is a verb in English is a verb in Nostraman. And, like in English, words can occupy multiple categories. What might be a sentence fragment in English might be acceptable in Nostraman. In addition, understanding utterances is highly based on context. Pronouns, subjects, or objects are not always overtly stated because it is thought to be implied.

    To be

    In Nostraman, “to be” is not a verb. In order to say that something is an adjective, one must use a pronoun with the suffix –illa. Similarly, to say that something is a noun, the auxiliary word van is added. Moreover, this construction can be used for location, time, phrases and anything that describes the subject. See the chart below for examples


    When a subject is added, the pronoun must still be used. It is like saying “the woman, she is good”. See the chart below for examples.


    guide continued below
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  2. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    Word Order

    As stated earlier, the default word order in Nostraman is subject-verb-object. However, this is far from the only correct way to form sentences, especially considering that a subject or verb does not always need to be present. The chart below shows some basic Subject-Verb-Object sentences, along with some alternate ways they can be formed.


    Verb Conjugation

    As seen in “I am sitting” above, verbs conjugate according to the person and number of the subject, so pronouns are optional. Most verbs conjugate in the same way, but the verb “to have” conjugates a bit differently from the others. In this version of the language, the only tense is a general one, which can mean past, present, or future depending on the context. The chart below has all the conjugations.


    5. More Complex Sentences

    Subjects and Topics

    In Nostraman, there are no markers for subject, object, etc. However, there is a topic marker “-s” which can go at the end of a word. The “topic” can be placed on the subject, object, even certain adjectives or adverbs—whatever is being highlighted. This topic can then be said pretty much anywhere in the sentence, including the beginning. This marker is also used when addressing people. See the following chart for examples, including some earlier sentences rewritten in a different way.

  3. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator


    Adjectives, adverbs, and other modifiers tend to come after the word that they modify. This includes phrases. See below for examples



    At this point there a few negating words. The main negating word is “ni,” and there is also “nuray” for “none” or a zero amount of something. “to have” is irregular in its negation. See below for examples.


    6. Conjugation Notes


    Most nouns end in an “a” in the singular, and change the “a” to “i” in the plural. However, some words do not follow this rule. If a noun ends in –ia, it adds an –n to pluralize.


    Some words are both singular and plural, and do not end in “a” at all. These words can be described as plural either by adding the suffix “-eth” meaning “many”, or by adding the word “neha,” meaning “unit of” or “group of,” before or after. “Neha” is a word that can be pluralized with “i” to mean “groups of.”


    Kinship and Gender Terms

    Many languages have terms that have both gender and familial connotations. Even if two people are not biologically related, they might be addressed with familial terms according to their age. Have combined old and new words and rules to create new terminology:

  4. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    Nostraman Grammar and Usage Notes

    2nd Edition

    1. Introduction

    Welcome to Edition 2. In this edition I have expanded the vocabulary and grammar rules significantly to provide for more creative options of building phrases and sentences. The selected vocabulary draws heavily from the source material available. In the following sections I will explain how to use the new features to create sentences with more complex meanings. I will also explain the process I use to create names so you can try it for yourself.

    2. We have come for you

    As requested, I specifically tried to translate the saying “We have come for you.” Below I list a couple of ways this can be expressed. Some of these include the directional “ma” meaning “to,” “in the direction of,” “for,” or “in order to.” It comes after the noun modified and is typically used with possessive pronouns.

    There could also be other ways to express this, so feel free to experiment with other ways.


    3. Name Creation

    Names vary widely across cultures and languages. Some cultures draw names from other languages, typically older and altered to fit the sound system of their own language. Other cultures use words from their own language, meaning many names are simply words. Names can either follow the exact sound system of the language, or have their own distinct character. As a reminder, here is the basic sound system of Nostraman.


    Some vowels are followed by consonants which in English would not necessarily be pronounced. In Nostraman, they are always pronounced.


    When I create names, either for people or places, I tend to start with meaningless words that sound good, and then add meaning later. Even if it does not follow with the rest of the language, this can be easily explained with the idea that names evolved and changed separately from other words, or have been borrowed from other languages/cultures. Konrad Curze, for example, does not seem to fit with the Nostraman language, so it could be from a more ancient version of the language or a different one altogether.

    If I want names with meaning, I tend to go for a very literal piecing together of smaller words, which I can then change the spelling or pronunciation to make more aesthetically pleasing. Again, this does not have to %100 follow the rules of the language because names tend to be separate and draw from more ancient origins. Typical name elements can include descriptive physical or personality traits, family/clan ties, occupations, or locations. See below for a few examples. Notice how many of the elements have been shortened or altered.

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  5. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    4. Adjective and Noun formers

    Nostraman uses a lot of suffixes to form new words from root words. Most of these suffixes have notes about usage in the vocabulary spreadsheet. Suffixes that form adjectives can be added to nouns or verbs, and those that form nouns can be added to adjectives or verbs. A few of these are detailed below.

    Often verbs or verb root words will occur without conjugation. When this happens, it is usually being used as an infinitive “to do something”, a gerund “doing something/ the doing of something”, or an adjective/adverb “that does something/ who does something”. See the below chart for examples:


    Adjective markers

    · -atha

    o means “of” or “from” such as a possessive or a description of origin​

    o can also mean “like” or “-ly”​

    · -itha

    o means “full of,” “like,” or “characterized by”, such as English “-ful” or “-y”​

    · -un

    o means “without,” the opposite of “-itha”

    Noun markers

    · -ia

    o -ing, the doing of a verb, -ness, the being of an adjective

    o –ship, - ment, -hood etc the being of a noun​

    · -ruthi (can also be adjective)

    o absence of, without​


    5. Location / Time

    In many languages, markers used for location can also be used for time. The same principle can work in Nostraman. Suffixes describing physical location can also describe metaphorical connections.

    Here, there

    · seyro

    o “here,” as in with the speaker in physical or metaphorical location

    o shares a root word with “sey” meaning “now”​

    o can be used as a noun or adjective/modifier​

    · amro​

    o “there” as in away from the speaker in physical or metaphorical location

    o can also mean with the speaker but in a different time frame

    o can be used as a noun or adjective/modifier​

    “with” -l, -il, -al,

    The marker “-l” (or “-il”, “-al”) comes up a lot in Nostraman samples. I have given this the versatile meaning of “with.” This can mean physically with or “with regard to,” and can be used as an alternate way of designating subjects or topics. It also carries a meaning similar to many English prepositions.

    When a word ends in a vowel, only “-l” is added. Otherwise, it is up to the speaker whether to use “-il” or “-al.” Like topics, “with” phrases can occur anywhere in a sentence. If at the beginning, it is implied as the subject or topic. Elsewhere, it is implied to modify the word it follows. See the following chart for examples.


    “on”, -ss, -oss

    Similar to “with,” –ss can be added to words to indicate location. I’ve given it the meaning “on” but it can also mean “at,” “by,” “in,” etc. It can be used to attach objects in physical proximity, or even traits located metaphorically in relation to each other. For example, it can be used to mark time periods such as “when,” or “at/by the time of.” It can also describe how something is done, as in “by using something,” or “by doing something.”

    This sounds similar to the topic marker –s, but is held for a longer time. If a word ends in a vowel sound, just “–ss” is added; with a consonant sound “-oss” can be added unless the consonant allows for –ss (or –s, -sh) after it (see the compatible consonant chart in 1st edition). Also, if a word ends in “s”, “ss”, or “sh” (e.g. aash - leg), then the ending can be dropped in favor of “-ss” (e.g. aa’ss – on leg). NOTE: many words include –ss, but it doesn’t always indicate “on.”

  6. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    6. Verb and Sentence modifiers

    Markers on the verb or used independently in sentences can be used to join clauses and add extra layers of meaning.

    Past tense

    Recall in the previous edition that we only had a “generic” tense which could mean past, present, future, etc. This edition includes the addition of a past tense marker “-in” which simply is added to an already-conjugated verb. You can also get creative and add it to any word that you’d like to convey as being associated with the past. Note that this marker is optional. See the chart below for examples.


    Imperative, Commands and Requests

    When forming commands and requests, there are different levels of formality: formal, informal, and very informal. Imperatives can be used in the second person, as well as in first (i.e. “Let’s go) or third (i.e. “One goes”).

    · -shia, -eshia

    o at the very informal level, one can simply use the second-person verb marker

    o alternatively, the verb root word can be used

    o this is used in cases of disrespect, urgency, or a very close relationship with someone​

    · -ca, -ica

    o somewhat informal, moderate respect

    o when verb ends in vowel sound, -ca is used

    o when verb ends in consonant sound, -ica is used​

    · -cara, -icara

    o very formal, high respect

    o when verb ends in vowel sound, -cara is used

    o when verb ends in consonant sound, -icara is used ​


    Modal Verbs; can, must

    Modal verbs change the “mode” of a sentence, adding a layer of meaning such as what is possible and what is required. These “verbs,” or more properly particles, can be placed anywhere in the sentence, also probably best near the word that is the main focus of the modal.

    · sur

    o “must,” “have to”

    o connotes the verb or sentence described is required or unavoidable​

    · tol

    o “can,” “able to”

    o connotes the verb or sentence described is possible or allowable​



    Conjuncations are used to join clauses, offer options, or put words in a list.

    · shol

    o or

    o used like the English “or” to offer different options in a list of words or different clauses​

    · zol

    o and

    o used like the English “and” to describe a list of words or join different clauses​

    · sha/shar

    o because, because of

    o used like the English “because”/”because of” to describe a cause-solution relationship between words or clauses

    o unlike English, used after the word which is implied to be the cause​

    · lali na sha / lalil na sha

    o therefore, because of that

    o used like the English “therefore” or “so” to describe a cause-solution relationship between clauses

    o can come anywhere in the clause, referring to a previous clause or action

    o “lali” and “na” both mean “that”, but “lali” refers specifically to something previously stated

    § similar to “laliss” – on it/that​


    Question words

    Yes-or-no questions are the same as statements, but have a rising inflection at the end of the sentence. Otherwise there are a few question words which can replace any word in a sentence.

    “What”/”which”/”who” can replace nouns and verbs, and occurs in the same spot as the noun/verb replaced. When replacing nouns, it can also take on topic and location markers. When replacing verbs, it conjugates like the verb. “How” replaces adjectives/modifiers, and occurs where they would occur.

  7. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    Nostraman Grammar and Usage Notes

    3rd Edition
    1. Introduction

    This was a major update with lots of words added. With the plethora of new vocabulary, we tried to expand upon words that would be useful in battle as well as threats/insults. In keeping with what we’ve seen of Nostraman culture, there are quite a few vulgar/”curse” words describing anatomy and bodily functions. We’ve added some grammar rules that might be useful, but this edition focused mostly on vocabulary.

    One request was to include more idioms (i.e. ‘things that mean one thing, but are use in a different way), so we came up with a few idiomatic phrases. However, we had to draw from outside sources and it was difficult to make them seem natural. It’s been shown that idioms are better when created “bottom-up” (i.e. from the speakers themselves and then incorporated into the standard language) rather than “top-down” (i.e. generated by a few people creating the language). So, instead we tried to provide the tools with which to make idioms, such as a rich vocabulary.

    2. Sounds in IPA

    When we first started there was a request made so here is a pronunciation guide in IPA. Lone symbols are pronounced as they would be in IPA, otherwise the English character is on the left with the IPA equivalent on the right. Nostraman words are spelled so that each character has exactly one sound. The only exception might be “y” which is pronounced [j] most of the time, but [ai] when a stand-alone vowel (i.e. no other vowels directly before or after)

    3. Vulgar and Curse Words

    Most languages have words used for cursing/threatening/insulting and Nostraman is clearly no exception. As such, this edition of the vocabulary is pretty R-rated. We have included multiple ways of expressing common body parts/functions in both vulgar and less vulgar ways. Some of these are evidenced in the text, others from our reliance on known Nostraman structure. The level of vulgarity is distinguished in the vocabulary as “vulgar” and “common.” “Common” terms are not necessarily polite ways of saying things, but are more mainstream and less vulgar than the “vulgar” ways.

    4. New idioms

    As stated before, there was some hesitation to come up with many idioms and idiomatic phrases, as I hope those using the language will come up with some of their own or translate ones they have seen in the text. Below are a few of the phrases included in the new vocabulary with examples of how to use them.

    5. -th/-ith – “essence of” “element”

    This is a pattern we noticed in sample texts from the lore, so it was made into a grammatical rule for forming new nouns. With “iron”, iron is the element itself and “-ith” simply reinforces that. This might be useful for more conceptual words like “shame.”

    6. one who does –rai

    Another way of making new nouns has arisen with the suffix “–rai” meaning “one who does”. This can be added to nouns, adjectives, and verbs alike and can describe people or things.

    7. -in/inside

    Similar to locative words like “at” and “with”, “in” or “inside of” is expressed with a suffix “-o” on the noun of location. Topic markers if applicable come after. This suffix can be used literally or metaphorically and with nouns of all shapes and sizes.
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  8. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    8. Locative and directional words

    So far, locatives have only been suffixes or postpositions used with nouns, but now there are specific cardinal and relative descriptions of location. In English, locative and directional words are often used with prepositions (i.e. “in front” “on the left”). In Nostraman, they are more like adjective/adverbs with the nature of the verb for the most part determining the relative location. An exception would be “from,” which modifies the adjective/adverb.

    9. Comparatives

    In order to set up comparative, one can use a comparative word with “-l” or “with” on the second noun. Instead of “bigger than…” it’s “bigger with…” It is understood that the noun without “with” is the superior of the comparison (i.e. the thing which is “more” “less” or “fewer”).

    10. Question words why, when, where

    More question words have been added now. Instead of appearing at the beginning of the sentence, question words replace the word they correspond to in the statement version of the sentence.

    11. If that, then…

    In English, the formula for a condition-result statement is
    · “if…then…” OR “if CONDITION, then RESULT”
    · “…, if ….” OR “RESULT if CONDITION”

    In Nostraman, however, the formula is
    · “…, if that then …” OR “CONDITION, if that then RESULT.”

    Note, this is similar to the pattern of “lali na sha” or “because of that”. “Ye” meaning “if” can be used with or without “lali na.”
    “Ye” is also used in the phrase for “otherwise” or “or else,” which is literally “if not then…”

    12. Conditional/hypothetical aspect “would”

    Following along from the previous section, a conditional or hypothetical aspect could also be useful in describing events that could happen (i.e. for threats). This form can add nuance to sentences with modal verbs like “can” (creating for all intents and purposes “could) and with the “if” phrase described above. This suffix can also be used with or without conjugation to describe person. With conjugation, it means that specific person/thing would commit the action; without such conjugation, the meaning falls more into the realm of “it may come to pass that..” or “may it be so…”
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  9. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator


    Since the site has almost ZERO BBCode support I'll be updating an Excel Spreadsheet that you can find here.

    Be sure to check out all of the tabs :)

    Edit 1: Updated to Second Edition!
    Edit 2: Updated to Third Edition!
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  10. Kilrane Kilrane Moderator

    That's all I have time for right now. Time to earn zee peh check!
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