Yeah sorry, today I’m not writing about my new book deal or my new way of writing or whatever. I’ve had a tough week, so today I’m rewarding myself. Today I’m writing about generating new words in my ergo-absolutive alternate-history constructed language.
Today we’re talking about Middle Court Podzran (or, as it its speakers called it, Fash Kramoan Pta’osha), as it was spoken from around 1000 to the 1200s BCE in what is in our world Egypt.
Fash Kramoan Pta’osha means “the Official Mouth of Pto’a,” and it’s a good place to start looking at word-derivation.
“Mouth” was an easy enough word to derive. Fash is simply from (real) Hurrian fashi, and its meaning stayed the same until 1250 BCE.
But “official” was harder to get. Its root is the (real) Hittite word kram, which meant “temple.” In my alternate history, the Podzrans borrowed this word (as krom) early in their dealings with the Hittites, when their relations were peaceful. In the “equative case,” the word is kramoan (“as-a-temple”), and it’s used here as an adjective Fash Kramoan, “the mouth/language (used/spoken) in the name of the temple.”
In the same way, I made “priesthood” (kramokhat, “temple-ish-ness”), “palatial” (kramoa, “temple-like”), “law” (kramoat, “temple-like-ness”), and others, and at the same time worked out some worldbuilding on Middle Podzran society (as in, they were ruled by priest-kings).
A priest-king, then, is hashekhk kramantosha, or “he-who-is-heard of the law,” which brings up my last trick today, the suffix –k, which comes from the real Hurrian suffix –ki, and meant “person to whom.” In other words, it’s like the -ee in “escapee” (person who escapes) and “employee” (person who is employed). Hashekh means “to hear” so “hashekhk” is “he-who-is-herd” (“she-who-is-heard” would be hashekhkat, a priestess-queen).
That’s the fun of an ergo-absolutive language – everything is backward compared to English. “A giver” is khak (from kha, “to receive”) and “a beneficiary” is ak (from a, “to give”)! That lets me generate all sorts of fun words from my list of verbs, such as “a parent” (khahut’ak, one who is asked), “a statue” (manak, one who is built), “a victim of cannibalism” (hak, one who is eaten as meat), “a nun” (orkt, one who is eaten normally), “a troll” (oskhk, one who is fled from), and “a slave” (onrak, one who is gathered).
And because Hurrian is “backward” (imagine that its default verbs are passive), it has a special ways to make a verb “frontward” (that is transitive or antipassive). Hat means “to eat meat/to be eaten as meat,” but haatagh (transitive) means “to eat something as meat” and haatan (antipassive) means “to make someone eat meat” (i.e. to exercise someone or make them work). You can even combine them! Hateghan (transitive-antipassive) means “to make someone hungry to eat something as meat” (i.e. to tempt somebody with something). In this way you can generate all sorts of weird words.
Want your own weird word? Check out this twitter feed.