Øynduyska – some examples (1)

I’ve finished for now with Øynduyska, at least in the sense of posting a sketch on this blog. But I’m still translating some things and fiddling with some details, so I thought I’d share four very small (one line) translations, with explanations.

Yes, a couple of things are slightly different from in the foregoing discussion, and represent minor changes I’ve made since then. [or mistakes, of course…]

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Øynduyska- XVI (Questions, Imperatives, Catenatives)

Near the end of this first phase of Øynduyska.



Formal polar questions, like negations, generally require a modal auxiliary. This modal verb takes the inquisitive suffix -a, and is fronted: machta ðu ðam bylda? – “are you building it?” (lit. “might you be building it?”). Leading questions – less appropriate in formal speech, but common colloquially, additionally employ the Wackernagel particles ay (for positives) or ney (for negatives): machta ay ðu ðam bylda? – “you are building it, aren’t you?”

The chief exception to this pattern is the questioning of adverbs and of prepositional phrases. Such questions may follow the general structure – machta ðu ðam lawli bylda? – “are you slowly building it?” – but where they are the particular focus of the question it is also possible to front the element, and add an interrogative element to it directly. In the case of adverbs and some prepositions, this element is the particle an, directly following the adverb or preposition; for other prepositions, it is simply the suffix -a attached to the preposition. In the case of the preposition an, the preposition is entirely replaced by the interrogative preposition, . Thus, ina ða hussa, machta ðat ligga? – “does it lie within the house?”; ná ða bóka, machta ðat ligga? – “does it lie on the book?”; lawli an machta ðu ðam bylda? – “is it slowly, that you build it?”

Modal auxiliaries are not required, however, with copulas, which instead are fronted themselves, and themselves take the -a suffix: isa iss cąld? – “is ice cold?”

In colloquial speech, but rarely in formal contexts, polar questions may simply be formed from indicative statements, followed by a subordinate clause: typically an is? for present events, an was? for past events, or an są? or an bia? for certain requests. Thus, byld ðu ðam, an is? – “you’re building it, yes?” or byld ðu ðam, an są? – “build it, if you would?”

Content questions meanwhile require interrogative pronouns or adjectives. The basic interrogative pronouns are fann (“who?”) and fassa (“what?”), alongside fónn (“how?”), fara (“where?”), fiðr (“to where?” and “how much?”), fása (“from where?” and “why?”), fǫffáða (“why?”), fien (“with what instrument?”), and fanna (“when?”). Fann and fassa further have the dative forms fąna and famma respectively, and the shared genitive fössa, and may be preceded by prepositions: befós fössa? – “beside what/who?” Certain prepositions however combine with the pronoun to yield special fused forms: awann (“on/in whom?”) and awassa (“on/in what?”), athann (“to whom?”) and athassa (“to what?”), and beocha (“with whom?”).

In fann and fassa content questions, the questioned element is fronted, the interrogative taking the place of an argument, and any non-copular, non-modal verb sent to the rear: fössa ðu saoch? – “who/what did you see?”; fann ði saoch? – “who saw you?” Modal verbs and copulas instead show subject-verb inversion: fann is he? – “who is he?” However, this construction is regarded as somewhat brusque, and may easily be interpreted as accusatory or commanding; a more indirect phrasing is generally prefered. In more formal contexts, this employs a modal verb: fössa dorsht ðu sevha? – “who might you have seen?”; fann dorsht ðam bylda? – “who might have built it?” In more colloquial contexts, a relative construction may instead be used: fann was, sam ðam byldi? – “who was it that built it?”

Questions employing the other interrogatives likewise relegate the verb to the rear, but otherwise leave the clause unaltered: fanna ðu henn saoch? – “when did you see him?” The indirect constructions are not required here, although they may sometimes be employed for additional politeness, formality, or disambiguation. For example, the ambiguous beocha ðu henn saoch? – “with whom did you see him?” – may be rephrased as either beocha was he, sam ðu henn saoch? (“with whom was he that you saw?”) or beocha was ðu, sam henn saoch? (“with whom were you who saw him?”).

In addition to the interrogative pronouns, Øynduyska also possesses two interrogative adjectives, filie (“which?”) and fliecha (“what sort?”). These act similarly to fann and fassa, except that they are often accompanied by the noun they modify: filie macacca is, sam ða cuppa menn hav upybrǫka? – “which monkey is it who broke my cup?”



The imperative may be conveyed simply through intonation and subject dropping: byld ðam! – “build it!” Such a command is likely to be seen as urgent, but also as uncouth and impolite.

Alternatively, the preterite subjunctive form of the verb may be employed, for a more polite and gentle request: bylday ðam! – “build it!”

However, it is also common for requests and commands to be couched in periphrastic constructions. Most prominent are the relatively cold construction formed upon a prepositional predication – lieg het á ði ðam ta bylda, “you are to build it” (lit. “it is on you to build it”) – and the more graceful construction formed with ląthalątha ði ðam bylda, “let it be that you build it”. The lątha construction may also be used in the third person (singular or plural), or in the first person plural, with jussive and cohortative forces respectively.


Embedding and Catenatives

Some Øynduyska verbs are capable of forming, in theory, chains, by taking another verb as their object, or as part of their object.

In such a situation, the embedded verb is placed into the infinitive, preceded by the preposition ta, and it is preceded by its subject and object, if any. The subject is dropped if it is identical to the subject of the matrix verb. If the matrix verb is transitive and takes objects in the nominative or genitive, the subject of the embedded verb will be placed in the genitive, if it is not also semantically a transitive object of the matrix verb, and in the nominative (or dative, for pronouns) if it is; if the matrix verb takes objects in the dative, however, the subject of the embedded verb takes the dative; if the matrix verb is separable, its preposition attaches to the subject of the embedded verb as though it were its object. If the matrix verb is intransitive, however, the subject of the embedded verb remains in the nominative (or dative). Thus, member ech av hem ta bylda, “I remember he builds” (with a separable verb demanding the dative), börr ech hem ta bylda, “I make him build” (in which the subject of the verb is also directly affected by the matrix verb), and varcweeð ech hem ta bylda, “I promise he will build” (with an intransitive matrix verb), but hóp ech henn ta bylda, “I hope he will build” (in which the matrix verb is transitive, but the subject of the embedded verb is not semantically its object, being unaffected by it).

This catenative structure is, for many verbs, contrasted with a ‘relative’ structure with sam and a subjunctive (member ech av hem sam he bylda, “I remember of him that he builds”; hóp ech sam he bylda, “I hope that he builds”). The catenative structure is generally preferred, with the relative structure typically reserved for emphasis, and for situations where more precision regarding tense and aspect is required. Also available is a ‘direct’ construction employing the cataphoric pronoun ðusmember ech av ðus: he byld – “I remember this of him: he builds”. The direct construction is even more emphatic, but commonly used in reporting speech.

An additional complication arises in the case of embedded questions. Here, the catenative construction must be employed, and employs a distinct set of pronouns, modified forms of the interrogatives: fanna and fassa become fa and fas and so forth. Thus, kną ech fa ta byld, “I know who builds” (or “I know who built”; tense and aspect are lost from embedded verbs).

Øyndusyka – XV (Coördinate, Subordinate and Relative Clauses)

Øyndusyka isn’t finished yet…

Coördinate and Subordinate Clauses

Attached to a main clause may be one or more additional, secondary clauses. In Øyndusyka, these fall into two types: coördinate clauses, and subordinate clauses.

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Øyndusyka – XIV (Negation, Topicalisation)

The Øyndusyka project begins to near its end, but not before a good deal more syntax gets presented…


Nominal negation is straightforward: the noun is placed into the genitive plural, and the preceding negator náva is employed: thus, náva hussa, “no house”.

Negation of verbs is more difficult. In general, the verbal negator precedes the verb, and this is seen unproblematically when object fronting has caused the verb to thrown to the back of the clause: ða huss ech ná byld, “the house, I didn’t build”. Copulas and modal verbs, likewise, have no difficulty in this respect, given their default second-position location, but must display inversion with their subjects: iss is háss, “ice is hot”, but ná is iss háss, “ice is not hot”.

However, where the verb is required to be the first element of a clause, it is impossible for it to be preceded by a negator. In these cases, a modal is employed as an auxiliary, with secondary negation on the main verb by means of the particle na; a wide range of modals are found in this function, particularly for events in the present (or future), often encoding an epistemological or evidentiary force – so, ná macht he ðam na bylda, “I am certain it is not possible for him to build it”, against ná cu he ðam na bylda, “it is possible he may not build it” or “I hear he may not build it”. Where no particular intent is present beyond negation, the modal ech dar is typically used in the aorist, progressive, or perfect: ná dar he ðam na bylda, “he doesn’t build it”. In other tenses, the modal dorsht is used: ná dorsht he ðam na bylda, “he didn’t build it”.

As in other modal expressions, it is typical to only use the aorist or preterite tenses, although other forms are on occasion found.

Where a verb is negated and has an indefinite object or subject, the indefinite argument must also be negated, with the particle na; in this case, negative agreement on the main verb is not required. Full negation with náva may also be used, with emphatic effect: ná dorsht ech na huss bylda, “I did not build a house”; ná dorsht ech náva hussa bylda, “I did not build any house” or “I did not build a house at all”. An even more emphatic alternative is to use nawt, with the genitive plural of the noun: ná dorsht ech nawt hussa bylda, “I have never built even a scrap of a house”. Nawt may also be used more generally as a negative indefinite pronoun, when agreement on the main verb is required: ná dorsht ech nawt na bylda, “I built nothing”.

An alternative method of verbal negation – or more strictly clausal negation – involves the Wackernagel particles nöt and nasa. These are used when making specific denials: the latter tends to be more specific than the former. Both trigger agreement on the object. Thus byld nöt ech na huss, “No, I don’t build a house”, and byld nasa ech na huss, “No, I don’t exactly build a house”, or “I don’t build a house in that way”. These constructions are more marked than the modal negatives.



Where the subject of a clause is also its topic, it is typically found only as a pronoun in the clause itself, with the full noun or noun phrase attached (if necessary) either to the beginning or to the end of the clause. Typically, preposed topics indicate a change of topic, while postposed topics indicate continuity. Failure to reduce the subject to a pronoun typically indicates that the subject is not the topic, and represents new or surprising information.

Thus, breaka he ða cuppa up, ða tarb most likely indicates “regarding the bull, it breaks the cup” or “the bull breaks the cup”; ða tarb, breaka he ða cuppa up more likely indicates “whereas the bull breaks the cup” or “and as for the bull, it breaks the cup”. The more syntactically straightforward breaka ða tarb ða cuppa up instead implies the more marked “(it’s) the bull (that) breaks the cup”.

Objects are not dealt with in this way. Changes of emphasis toward discussing the object may sometimes by indicated where necessary by emphatic fronting of the object; objects that are established topics may be reduced to pronouns, but not with extraclausal full nouns adposed. If particularly necessary, periphrasis may be employed: breaka he ðat up, ða tarb – stąmm wi bi ða cuppa, “the bull breaks it – the cup, I mean” (lit. “he breaks it, the bull – we stand at the cup”).

Objects may also, where they are sufficiently clear from context, be simply elided entirely, but this may not occur when the object is the topic – in such cases, at least a pronoun must be found. Thus, upbreaka he, “he breaks (it/something)”, but breaka he ðam up, “he breaks (it/the thing we are talking about)”.

Postposed topics come between the core clause and any postposed adverbs, and usually come before postposed prepositional phrases: breaka he ðam up, ða tarb, befós ða treos, and breaka he ðam up, ða tarb, lawli.

Øynduyska – XIII (Syntax!)

Øynduyska continues…



Basic Word Order

The basic word order of Øynduyska, in main clauses, is VSO. Where there is an auxiliary, it occupies the ‘V’ slot and by default sends the main verb to follow the object: byld ech huss, “I build a house”, but heb ech huss ybyld, “I built a house”.

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Øynduyska – XII (Periphrasis Summary)

The Øynduyska project continues…

Periphrasis: A Summary

Øynduyska makes extensive use of periphrastic constructions, which may easily confuse the learner. For convenience, tables are provided summarising forms and functions.

First, a brief summary of tense usage:

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Øynduyska – XI (Passives, Impersonals, Subjunctives)

The adventures of Øynduyska trundle on…


The Passive and the Impersonal

Øynduyska possesses no morphological passive; instead, periphrastic constructions are employed.

The aorist and preterite passives are formed with the aorist and present tenses respectively of the copula senn, and a past participle with the prefix y-, where no inseperable prefix is present. The aorist passive is therefore very close to the compound past of an intransitive verb, and identical for verbs possessing an inseperable prefix. However, ambiguity is rare, as most verbs are lexically specified for transitivity. Ech em com, “I came”, must be a compound past form, because cwemma is an intransitive verb; ech em upybrǫka, “I am broken (by something)” must be an aorist passive, because upbreaka is transitive.

The compound and double past passives are formed with the auxiliary hebba, the past participle of senn, and the past participle of the main verb: hav ðat upybrǫka beon, “it was broken”; had ðat yetha beon, “it had been eaten”.

There are no specifically progressive, perfect, imperfect or experiential passives. Widespread use is made, however, of “impersonal” constructions: verbs that simply lack a subject. Impersonals, which may occur in any verbal form, are commonly used where the subject is unknown, general or unimportant, but do not shift emphasis to the object in the manner of a perfect. Thus, hav ðat yetha beon, “it was eaten”, may be contrasted with hav yetha ðat, “there was consumption of it”, or just hav yetha, “there was consumption”. Impersonals are also used for weather verbs: reyn in, “it rains”; lieg afti sniung, “it has snowed”.

The Subjunctive

Øynduyska possesses a morphological subjunctive, which is utilised in optatives, conditionals, commissives, indirect speech, and many subordinate clauses (although modal verbs may also convey some of these meanings, and more precisely). Any tense construction may be placed in the subjunctive – where an auxiliary is used, it simply takes the subjunctive form.

One difference, however, concerns predication, which is much simpler than in the indicative. Subjunctive stative predication always employs senn, and subjunctive transformative predication always employs wørða, neutralising the various distinctions made in the indicative.