I finished The Centuries Unlimited this week, so you’re getting some conlanging! This project’s goal was simple: derive the tenses (and voices and aspects) of verbs from prepositions.
For example, the epic poem Tipi-kan-tan-Tuta (Tipi from outside of Tuta) has as its first line: “Tipi pi-tan-kan kan-tan-Tuta” meaning “Tipi come-behind-from from-behind-Tuta.” “Behind” gives us the idea of “the past” and also “outside,” while “from” yields “long ago.” In the tin-Tuta language, it’s considered poetic to make tense/prepositions mirror each other like that, and all stories begin with a verb in that V-tan-kan tense, which is the narrative or distant past.
Here’s the rest of the poem of Tipi-kan-tan-Tuta. Can you tell what the other tense/prepositions mean? Can you tell where the story comes from?
Tipi pi-tan-kan kan-tan-Tuta.
Long ago, Tipi came from outside of Tuta.
(Tipi is a supernatural trickster, denizen of Kiti, the underworld)
(Tuta is the country where tin-Tuta is spoken).
Ka katu-kin kin-tupiku.
Right now, he wants (to be) in negotiations.
Ka ki-kin kin-kipitu.
He is in trouble right now.
Kuta kan-ka ki-pin pin-tapa.
At the moment, his delay is because of tapa.
(tapa is mystical essence that humans are said to have and which tipi crave)
Ana ka ki-pan-kun pan-kuki.
And he is not above theft.
(this expression works the same way as in English)
Ka tuku-pun pun-patapati.
He appears by a warrior.
Kiti-pan pan-pititi. Ka kutu-pin pin-kupika
(Who is) playing on the pititi. He always performs with passion.
Ana tipi kiki-kin kin-pakankapinputuka puka-kin,
And, at Pakankapinputuka, Tipi suddenly jumps to say,
(Pakankapinputuka is a village in Tuta, derived from a phrase meaning “the sawed-off-trunk-of-the-putuka-tree)
“Pata, papu-kin kin-ku ti kutu-tin-kin kin-ku.
“Son, you should allow that I will perform briefly near you.”
(Pata is a term used by older people to address younger, male people)
“Ti tutipu-kin ku kupu-tun tun-ti. ana ti kiti-pan pan-pititi,
“I suppose that you are still learning about me. I also play on the pititi.”
“Ana ti tutipu-kin katu-tin-kin ki-kin kin-putu,
“And I suppose that you will want to be in a contest,
“Ti tapipu-pin pin-ku.”
“(So) I am gambling with you.”