Posts about Reisu every Monday and Thursday

Friday, February 26, 2010


Omniglot has a lot of cool things, but one of my favorites is it's page on the 12480 script. There are several different scrips all along this concept, and you can write anything with it that can be expressed with a numeric value. In this way the scripts survive so long as numbers survive.

My favorite is the color script. I've often thought of making a conlang involving colors. Perhaps for a sentient group of alien octopus. The colors correspond to symbols within several of the other scripts, as well as IPA sounds, roughly a consonant and a vowel for each color.

12480 is inspiring for me, and if nothing else you should at least scroll down to the bottom and look at the sample scrips. They are gorgeous.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Reisu conjunctions! These are words that can link two clauses, or words. I don't think any other explanation is needed here.

BoBut, yet
MoSo, therefore

As a side note, a lot of these words can be used to start prepositional phrases as well as join clauses.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The linguistsics of texting

What do you think about txt speak? I am personally not a fan. The shortening makes me think the writer is either stupid, or an annoying child for the most part. I know I'm not alone in thinking this. I think majority of those that make up "the internets" would agree. Grammar and spelling nazis occupy most internet spaces.

So then how do I defend things such as lol, orly?, and others that I do use. Well, those seem ok to me, but what criteria I am using to determine this I don't know. This conundrum is what makes articles like this one interesting to me.

So does it help, does it hinder? Is it annoying, useful, what? I still haven't decided.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wild bird songs vs domesticated bird songs

So here's a really interesting article about what happens to bird songs when a bird is domesticated. Basically the song changes from something very constructed to something very unconstructed when a bird has been domesticated for a few generations. It's interesting, and they are applying what happened to these birds to what may have happened to our primate ancestors.

The hypothesis is that we are self-domesticated apes, and what this ends up meaning is perhaps why we have such a sophisticated language, and other primates do not, is because we took a few evolutionary steps backwards before going forwards. I don't really like using those terms, because in this sense backwards has a negative connotation, but I can't say I don't agree. It makes sense, and I can believe this really happened. I'd like to see more studies on this to confirm the hypothesis.

Monday, February 22, 2010

To be, the copula

"It depends on what your definition of 'is' is" -Bill Clinton

He got made fun of for saying that, but when you think about "to be" really means so many things in English. The sentence "I am" is so powerful because of it's ambiguity, and multiple meanings.

Reisu doesn't have such an over arching concept as this verb does in Engish. It's more broken down.

Kuala - To be the same as in identity.
Al kuala tivu.
      Al is the suit (of armor).

Luta - To belong to a specified class or group
Eisa luta emodo.
      We are people.

Maino - To have or show a specified quality or characteristic
Denu maino gura.
      The baby is hungry.
In many cases 'hola' for feel can also be used. This is mostly for first and second person subjects. For example this same sentence in first person: 'Ei hola gura'. I am hungry. (literally: feel hungry). But "Denu hola gura.", while comprehensible sounds awkward.

Reiki - To consist of, or to be made of
Laza reiki aa xusu.
      The ocean is all water.

Lamu - To be like, or have specified significance.
E lamu komonaxi.
      He's (like) a lion.

Kutu - To exist
Ei geki, mo ei kutu.
      I think, therefore I am

There are lots of other ways we use 'to be' of course, but we could just as well substitute other verbs even in English, so I won't cover that in this post, or it will become too long :)

One other fun thing with copula-type verbs in Reisu is they can be omitted if the contexts provides sufficient clues to render the copula obvious. In this case the object becomes a verb. For example:

     Ei okila bofi doro fe mama eino. E larelaila, kata e xodila
          I saw an old picture of my mom. She was beautiful, when she was young.

In this sentence it's obvious we are saying that the mother has beauty and has youth (maino). So instead of saying "E mainola larelai, kata e mainola xodi" we make larelai (beautiful) and xodi (young) into verbs. Both "E mainola larelai" and "E larelaila" are correct and appropriate in this context.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Learn Na'vi

It's been a while since Avatar came out; it's even steadily falling down the charts. I personally loved the movie, and the Na'vi conlang only heightened my suspension of disbelief.

There are bits about Na'vi leaking out slowly but steadily. For example they have a base 8 system, which makes sense because they have 4 fingers. And it seems fairly regular if you don't have a problem speaking in 8s instead of 10s.

I'm still waiting for a Na'vi language book. They made the field guide, so why not?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Prepositions are something that gets me in languages I don't know well. Every language seems to use them differently, and there's rarely a hard and fast rule for exactly when each preposition is used. Sometimes many can be used, but only one sounds right. You get the idea. I have made some prepositions in Reisu, and I plan to flesh them out more when I start translating more things. For now I have English equivalents for this the best I can.

With (using)Ja
During/Among/In (not inside)Pa
Apart/Away fromBi
At (a specific place/time)Le
By (passive voice)Ba

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Complex calls for prairie dog predators

In a recent episode of Natural World, they showcased prairie dog calls. These rodents seem to not only have different calls for predators, but adjectives for those predators as well. The difference between a snake, and a particularly large snake for example.

I can't tell much difference between the calls, but the prairie dogs obviously can, and so can this guy apparently. Prairie dogs are very social animals who live in fairly large groups, so it makes sense they would have a sophisticated language.

If you have access to BBC I definitely recommend this show in general, but at least watch this particular episode. It's pretty interesting. Plus prairie dogs are so cute :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eht sdrawkcab gnikaeps lrig

NPR had a short clip last week on a girl that can speak backwards. Well, not really. She's just turning the letters in the word around pronouncing it as something that would be spelled similarly. Listen to the clip for a more full explanation.

This did spawn a thread in the conlang mailing list about jokelangs or ciphers that employed "backwards English". Gary of came up with Ersever to make backwards English more easily pronounceable. It's fun in the same way Pig-Latin is. Definitely worth a read.

Monday, February 15, 2010


So, in a a lot of my example texts there are questions, and you might have already figured out how to make questions, but here's where I'm actually going to explain it. Reisu has a SVO word order. This does not change when we have a question. The question word is still the object, so it still goes at the end.

Any sentence can be made into a question by adding nei, but there are other question words that get more specific. Like most things in Reisu there's a pretty simple pattern to it.

What, WhoKei
How much, How manyJei
What kindVei
Which, Which oneZei
Question particleNei

O hola mei?
     Translation: How do you feel?
     Transliteration: You feel how?
Kata neina zei?
     Translation: What time is it?
     Transliteration: Time says when?
Fagevo geri jei?
     Translation: How much for the blanket?
     Transliteration: Blanket(that) costs how much?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk

Why the classic New York accent is fading

I believe from personal experience that this article is true. Not from the perspective of the New York accent, but from a southern one. I grew up in the south, and have always lived in the south, but I lack any variation of a southern accent. The most southern I get is a few words here and there. Not only do southerners never guess I'm from the south upon meeting me, but other Americans very rarely do.

There's lots of reasons for this. My parents, who both grew up in the south don't have much of a southern accent, albeit more than mine. Virtually none of my friends do, and only a small amount of my peers do. The southern accent is and was definitely associated with lack of education, ignorance and just general stupidity. This stereotype exists in our society. I do have some southern friends that maintain their southern accents, and they are far from ignorant or stupid.

The old New York accent has much the same perception.

Is this a bad thing? I personally think it is. As a lover of accents it saddens me to see particularly unique ones die out. I imagine as generations go on accents associated with the working class, like southern and New York accents, will fade out of common use. However language, including accent, is organic. It changes as society changes. It's an unstoppable force that has been going on since communication's beginning. Without it we wouldn't have the language we have today at all. Loss of accents is simply one of the unfortunate side effects.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Conjugating modality

Besides what's covered in my previous verb conjugation post, verbs can also be conjugated for some modalities. This is done with prefixes.

To Need - Ru Fahei  
Ought to/shouldXifaheiXufahei

The basic positive and negative forms are mostly used for answer yes/no questions. The most correct way to answer a question is to repeat the verb with i- or u-.

O amufu gaparu nei?
     Will you eat the apple?
     Yes/No (in the future)
     Yes/No (now)
     Yes/No (impolite, implies annoyance or frustration with the question)

The other modalities are used similarly to their English equivalents. For example will gets the prefix si-, and will not gets the prefix su-.

Just the prefixes:

Ought to/shouldXi-Xu-

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monkey's using syntax!

According to this article on they have found a group of monkeys that are using syntax. Syntax is something we have long considered uniquely human. The closest thing I've ever seen to another animal using syntax is sign-language Koko using "bean ball" to describe a pea. But that's really compounding, not syntax.

I imagine there are other animals besides us and Campbell's Monkeys that use syntax in their communication, but it's yet to be seen. The article suggests whale calls are a possibility. I would love to see a study on that with more conclusive evidence. I always imagined whale songs to be the closest real equivalent to the mythical language of the birds.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Swedish students conlanging for their senior project

There's some Swedish students that are creating a conlang for their senior project. It's a Germanic language based on English, German and Swedish. I am not a fan of Germanic languages myself, but I am a fan of helping out other conlangers. All they need is for as many people as possible to fill out a survey. No need to sign up on the unilang forum. They want the replies by email anyway.

Please pass this on to anyone you think may help them out!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Reisu uses a decimal, or base 10 system. The first 10 numbers are as follows.


Easy enough, and counting higher than 10 has a fairly regular pattern.

Xoa for eleven is simply ten plus one, and so on until you get to 19, Xonai. Once you get to the twenties you use a slightly different structure. Tuxoa for 21 is two times ten plus one. This continues until you get to ninety-nine, naixonai.

100 has it's own name, haku, but structure remains relatively the same.


Once you get to numbers this high sometimes hyphens make it easier to read. For example naihakunaixonai could be written as naihaku-naixonai. This is not required, it simply makes it quicker to read.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Verb Conjugation

I have a love-hate relationship with conjugating verbs. It's extremely useful in one way, and in another it's very hard for me to learn. The reason being is the irregular things in the conjugation, which seem to plague the most common verbs in any language. Currently I have not written any irregularities in Reisu. I assume verbs that are more natural to be irregular will come out in speaking, when they are easier to pronounce a different way, or something like that. My vision however is that they are still written the "correct" way. So without further adieu, here's a sample of simple conjugation in Reisu.

To Have - Ra Maino

So I want to clarify the designations I gave each type of verb in the chart, because I don't use those terms exactly correctly depending on what grammar guide you read. Basic is just that: present, past and future, which is achieved with no suffix for Present, and the suffixes -la and -fu respectively.

The progressive tense is used for continued or habitual action. This is achieved with the suffix -nu.

The perfect tense is for completed action, and has the suffix -du.

Here's a chart of just the suffixes.

Past Progressive-nula
Future Progressive-nufu
Past Perfect-dula
Future Perfect-dufu

Monday, February 1, 2010

Personal Pronouns

For Reisu the pronouns don't changed based on if they are the subject or object. So "ei" for "I", does not change to when it's the object. Where "I" changes to "me", "ei" is still "ei".

Here's a chart:
First PersonEiEisa
Second PersonOOsa
Third PersonEEsa

Another point here is the third person pronoun. There's only one, so there's no separation of gender here as there is in English. In fact there's no linguistic separation of gender in Reisu at all.

This also shows the pluralizer. It's -sa. This is used as a suffix for any noun that need to be pluralized.

The structure for possessive and reflexive pronouns are very similar.

Possessive PronounsSingularPlural
First PersonEinoEinosa
Second PersonOnoOnosa
Third PersonEnoEnosa

Reflexive PronounsSingularPlural
First PersonEinorifuEinosarifu
Second PersonOnorifuOnosarifu
Third PersonEnorifuEnosarifu

So, as you can probably tell -no is for possessive pronouns, and -norifu is for reflexive pronouns.

Like I said, pretty simple.