Syntax 101

So I wanted to pick up where I left off on the last post before Christmas, and talk about syntax and grammer a bit.

"Fa meshsak sosha o kulntht to tisiks afshra pefsi."
This pancake is going from zero to sixty within five seconds.
Or, more literally, This pancake is going from stop until sixty within five.

We're going to break this sentence down and figure out how you can construct grammer and syntax. Syntax could be defined simply as how words are ordered in a sentence. In English, we describe nouns with adjectives, or tell what the noun is, like so: "the bright room," "the room was bright," "the smooth, round ball," "the ball was smooth and round." In the case of "the room was bright," the room is the subject, was is the verb, and the brightness is the object. English is a SVO language, meaning that the ordering of the subject, verb and object are respectively, first, second, and third. In an SOV language, the sentence would be, "The room bright was." And its not hard to rearrange the syntax into all six possible combinations and see how the sentence changes. A fine article is here, by Rick Murneau, goes into many of the finer points here, and I highly recommend it.

This sentence is SVO, just like English. If it was SOV, it would be more like:
"Fa meshsak o kulntht to tisiks afshra pefsi sosha."
This pancake from zero to sixty within five seconds is going.

Also, this has a modifier-head format, where the modifiers come before what they are modifying, also, just like English. Lets change the SOV example into a head-modifer format:
"Meshsakfa kulntht to tisiks o pefsi afshra sosha."
Pancake(the) zero to sixty from five seconds within is going.

Now, I don't know about you, but the "is going" part of that last sentence doesn't sound right to me. It sounds like it should say "will go," or "will be going." And here is another issue to think about: tenses and cases. Tenses and cases DROVE ME CRAZY the first 100 times I thought about them, but again, the solution was just to simplify. For this mock-up lang we are playing with, lets create three tenses and three cases: future tense, present tense, past tense, and the tense case (which we just divided into three tenses), the descriptive case (adjectives, adverbs, etc.) and the plural case. We'll show what case or tense a word by adding a vowel sound to the end of a word: future tense= e (ey), present tense=a(au), past tense=o, plural case=i(ee), descriptive case=u(oo). So if we wanted to change sosha from "is going" (present tense) to "will go" (future tense), it would become soshe. What if we pluralized it? Soshi: what would that mean? Goings-on? Walks? Journeys? You decide in the end; whatever makes the most sense for you, and fits into the pattern of your conlang best.

So, our sentence has changed quite a bit from the beginning of the post.
From: "Fa meshsak sosha o kulntht to tisiks afshra pefsi."
To: "Meshsakfa kulntht to tisiks o pefsi afshra soshe."

Take a moment and just play. Look at my previous post called "Phonotactics," create your own SIMPLE phonotactics system, and create a few words and a simple sentence. Then play with your syntax and grammer.

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