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Learning Matoran: Lesson 6

Posted by Tolkien , in Matoran Language, Long Entries, linguistics, Language and Etymology, Bionicle Feb 12 2013 · 174 views

LEARNING MATORAN

- LESSON 6 -

 
Well, it’s been a long time. Time makes for changes. Change is scary. But after a long hiatus, I’ve worked up the motivation to post another installment of this project. Recently, I have actually been surprised to see some interest in the continuation of this endeavor, and for that I am grateful.
 
I’m afraid the changes to this conception of the Matoran Language have been significant--enough so that some of the previous lessons are now a bit outdated. This installment will deal with a more in-depth description of verbs in Matoran. Luckily, I never delved too deeply into the verbal system in previous lessons, so the changes won’t really be apparent. The pronominal system is largely intact, so check out Lesson 5 if you need a refresher. Nouns won’t make an appearance at all, so you don’t have to worry about them. One extremely minor change: I have been using the macron diacritic over a vowel to indicate a long vowel (ā, ē, ō, etc.), mainly as a space-saving convention. A double vowel is technically more in line with the orthography of Bionicle names, and it can still be used.
 
One final note: the tone of this “revised” lesson may be slightly less user-friendly than the tone of prior lessons. I’m afraid that that is an unfortunate result of the more in-depth nature of the topics discussed here. If you are really interested in learning more about some particular facet of this version of the Matoran Language, but find that the discussion here is worded obtusely or in a confusing manner, or if you have any general questions at all, feel free to leave a comment and let me know or send me a PM. Otherwise, have fun.
 
I. Verbs: Overview.
 
Verbs in Matoran are different from the typical English verb. They are made up of a stem and a verbal particle. There are three major verbal particles that will be mentioned here: ha, ya, and ma. These particles basically serve to indicate that the stem with which they are paired is of the category “verb” (rather than another category, such as “noun” or “adjective”). Some examples of common verbs are ka ma “to move”, ora ha “to speak”, and mat ya “to use/master”.
 
The combination of stem+particle will be referred to as the verbal complex.  This complex does not always form a rigid unit, since the particle can be separated from the stem in many cases. A few examples will illustrate (recall that the first person subject pronoun is o “I”):
 
1) a. o ka ma   “I move.”
    b. o ma ka   “I do move.”
    c. o ora ha   “I speak.”
    d. o ha ora   “I do speak.”
 
(1a) compared to (1b) and (1c) compared to (1d) show one particular difference in the positioning of the particle with respect to the stem. If the particle is placed before the stem, it serves to emphasize the “reality” of the event described, much as in English. Placing the particle after the verb is the more standard procedure, however. Note that, in both cases, the subject (o “I”) precedes the entire verbal complex (stem+particle). It is a general rule for subjects to precede the verbal complex (especially when they are pronominal).
 
The particle ya is slightly irregular compared to ha and ma. When it is positioned before the stem, it is essentially “split”, leaving behind a vowel i, while a is displaced before the stem as usual (mat ya > a mat i).
 
In writing, the stem and particle can be written either as separate units (as above), as a single unit (i.e., kama, maka), or as separate units joined by a dash (ka-ma, ma-ka). It is usually standard procedure to write the stem and particle as a single unit when the particle follows the stem (kama), but as separate units (joined by a dash or not) when the particle precedes the stem (ma ka, ma-ka, but not usually maka). These are not hard-and-fast rules, but I will follow them in most cases for the sake of clarity in the discussions that follow.
 
II. Verbs: Inflection.
 
Verbs in Matoran are inflected for Tense and Aspect. Tense takes the form of Present Tense, Past Tense, and Future Tense. Aspect takes the form of Imperfective Aspect (non-completed action) and Perfective Aspect  (completed action).
 
IIa. Tense.
 
Tense is encoded on the verbal particle by modification of the basic form of the particle.
 
Present Tense is the simplest, with no change to the particle:
 
2) a. oraha > o oraha “I speak.”
    b. matya > o matya “I use (smthg.)”
    c. kama > o kama “I move/go.”
 
Past Tense changes the vowel of the particle to -ō (can be written -oo or just -o in shorthand; -ō develops from earlier -ā, showing that the formation of the past tense was originally just lengthening of the particle vowel a > ā):
 
3) a. ora ha > o orahō “I spoke.”
    b. mat ya > o matyō “I used (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kamō “I moved/went.”
 
Future Tense changes the vowel of the particle to (can be written -ee or just -e in shorthand; develops from an earlier diphthong -ae, showing that the formation of the future tense was originally the addition of a vowel -e to the particle vowel -a > -ae).
 
4) a. ora ha > o orahē “I will speak.”
    b. mat ya > o matyē “I will use (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kamē “I will move/go.”
 
Tense inflection can also occur with the reversed particle+stem configuration, in which case the tense-marked particle is simply displaced before the stem (e.g., orahō > hō-ora, matyē > ē-mati, etc.).
 
IIb. Aspect.
 
Aspect is encoded by the addition of an aspectual particle to the verbal complex. If no aspectual particle is added, the interpretation is ambiguous between the different types of aspect (e.g., imperfective, perfective, etc.). Aspectual particles always follow the verbal complex, regardless of whether or not the complex is stem+particle (e.g., ora ha) or particle+stem (ha ora):
 
Imperfective Aspect is equivalent in meaning to the progressive construction in English (be+...-ing: "I am/was/will be playing with Legos."). It is indicated by the addition of the particle ana to the verbal complex. This particle frequently merges with the stem or particle preceding it, taking on the form of a suffix more than an independent particle. In such cases, it can be written either as -na or -‘na. The imperfective particle can be used with all tenses: present, past, and future:
 
5) With present tense:
    a. ora ha > o oraha ana > o orahana OR o oraha’na “I am speaking.”
    b. mat ya > o matya ana > o matyana OR o matya’na  “I am using (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kama ana > o kamana OR o kama’na “I am moving/going.”
 
6) With past tense:
    a. ora ha > o orahō ana > o orahōna OR o orahō’na “I was speaking.”
    b. mat ya > o matyō ana > o matyōna OR o matyō’na  “I was using (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kamō ana > o kamōna OR o kamō’na “I was moving/going.”
 
7) With future tense:
    a. ora ha > o orahē ana > o orahēna OR o orahē’na “I will be speaking.”
    b. mat ya > o matyē ana > o matyēna OR o matyē’na  “I will be using (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kamē ana > o kamēna OR o kamē’na “I will be moving/going.”
 
These tense/aspect combinations can also occur with the reversed particle+stem configuration, in which case the aspectual particle still follows the verbal complex and instead attaches to the stem itself (rather than the particle):
 
8) With present tense:
    a. ha-ora > o ha-ora ana > o ha-orana OR o ha-ora’na   “I am speaking.”
    b. a-mati > o a-mati ana > o a-matyana   “I am using (smthg.)”
    c. ma-ka > o ma-ka ana > o ma-kana OR o ma-ka’na   “I am moving/going.”
 
9) With past tense:
    a. ha-ora > o hō-ora ana > o hō-orana OR o hō-ora’na   “I was speaking.”
    b. a-mati > o ō-mati ana > o ō-matyana   “I was using (smthg.)”
    c. ma-ka > o mō-ka ana > o mō-kana OR o mō-ka’na   “I was moving/going.”
 
10) With future tense:
    a. ha-ora > o hē-ora ana > o hē-orana OR o hē-ora’na   “I will be speaking.”
    b. a-mati > o ē-mati ana > o ē-matyana   “I will be using (smthg.)”
    c. ma-ka > o mē-ka ana > o mē-kana OR o mē-ka’na “I will be moving/going.”
 
Perfective Aspect is equivalent in meaning to the perfect construction in English (have+...-ed: "I have/had/will have played with Legos."). It is indicated by the addition of the particle anga to the verbal complex. This particle frequently merges with the stem or particle preceding it, taking on the form of a suffix more than an independent particle. In such cases, it can be written either as -nga or -‘nga. The perfective particle can also be used with all tenses: present, past, and future:
 
11) With present tense:
    a. ora ha > o oraha anga > o orahanga OR o oraha’nga “I have spoken.”
    b. mat ya > o matya anga > o matyanga OR o matya’nga  “I have used (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kama anga > o kamanga OR o kama’nga “I have moved/gone.”
 
12) With past tense:
    a. ora ha > o orahō anga > o orahōnga OR o orahō’nga “I had spoken.”
    b. mat ya > o matyō anga > o matyōnga OR o matyō’nga  “I had used (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kamō anga > o kamōnga OR o kamō’nga “I had moved/gone.”
 
13) With future tense:
    a. ora ha > o orahē anga > o orahēnga OR o orahē’nga “I will have spoken.”
    b. mat ya > o matyē anga > o matyēnga OR o matyē’nga  “I will have used (smthg.)”
    c. ka ma > o kamē anga > o kamēnga OR o kamē’nga “I will have moved/gone.”
 
These tense/aspect combinations can also occur with the reversed particle+stem configuration, in which case the aspectual particle still follows the verbal complex and instead attaches to the stem itself (rather than the particle):
 
14) With present tense:
    a. ha-ora > o ha-ora anga > o ha-oranga OR o ha-ora’nga   “I have spoken.”
    b. a-mati > o a-mati anga > o a-matyanga   “I have used (smthg.)”
    c. ma-ka > o ma-ka anga > o ma-kanga OR o ma-ka’nga   “I have moved/gone.”
 
15) With past tense:
    a. ha-ora > o hō-ora anga > o hō-oranga OR o hō-ora’nga   “I had spoken.”
    b. a-mati > o ō-mati anga > o ō-matyanga   “I had used (smthg.)”
    c. ma-ka > o mō-ka anga > o mō-kanga OR o mō-ka’nga   “I had moved/gone.”
 
16) With future tense:
    a. ha-ora > o hē-ora anga > o hē-oranga OR o hē-ora’nga   “I will have spoken.”
    b. a-mati > o ē-mati anga > o ē-matyanga   “I will have used (smthg.)”
    c. ma-ka > o mē-ka anga > o mē-kanga OR o mē-ka’nga “I will have moved/gone.”
 
IIc. Stem changes and irregularities.
 
Oh dear! You thought you were going to get off easy, didn’t you? Well, don’t be too nervous: most of these “irregularities” are pretty straightforward:
 
- Verbal complexes containing the particle ha exhibit a strengthening of h to kh when it occurs between vowels. Thus:
 
17) a. ora ha > orakha (basic present tense)
       b. ha ora > ha-ora (basic present tense, particle+stem order, no strengthening)
       c. ora ha ana > orakhana (present imperfective)
       d. ha-ora ana > ha-orana (present imperf., particle+stem order, no strengthening)
 
- Verbal complexes containing the particle ma in which the stem ends in a vowel (e.g., ka ma “to move/go” but not jut ma “to decay”) exhibit an assimilation of m to n in the presence of the imperfective particle ana, along with an overall reduction of the verbal complex itself. This only occurs in the present tense:
 
18) a. ka ma ana > kamana > kanna (present imperf.)
       b. ka mō ana > kamōna (past imperf., no assimilation/reduction)
       c. jut ma ana > jutmana  (present imperf., no assimilation/reduction)
 
[Does (17a) look familiar? How about (18a)? If you’re familiar with the previous Lessons (Lesson 3, to be precise), you may recognize that these “irregularities” are essentially the same as the “stem gradation” of older versions of the Matoran Language. The end result is very similar, but the original system of “stem gradation” had no real etymological basis, so it was significantly revised. Is it a blast from the past, or just a horrible over-complication? I don’t know!*]
 
*I don’t care!

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Chapter I

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"Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a blog-hole, and that means comfort."

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A Short Bio of the...Author?

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The author of this blog currently resides in the rather dry, bare, sandy climate of the southwest United States. He is a graduate student and teaching associate at his university, currently working toward a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics.

His primary interests include such -ologies as mythology, philology, etymology, syntax, and phonology, along with a healthy passion for historical linguistics binding all these bewildering fields together. Some less academic hobbies include reading classical literature and mythology, high and epic fantasy, science fiction, and the occasional Tolkien biography, as well as attempting (and mostly failing) to write fiction modeled after these genres.

In addition to these things, he also harbors the deep-set enjoyment of the Bionicle sets and storyline essential to any hapless LEGO geek who has made the decision to become a member of the BZPower community. Without it, he obviously wouldn't be here writing this, and you wouldn't be reading it. This fact is, in part, what inspired his lasting interest in the art of pixeling, a skill that he apparently isn't all that bad at, although you might never know it, seeing as his severe lack of motivation and excess of procrastination usually prevents him from producing anything much at all.
 

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= Some Writings =

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Unknowledge [Review] - (Epic) Finalist in Epics Contest #7: Murder Mysteries. Unknowledge centers around the mysterious death of Toa Moihu and ensuing investigation by Toa Ros, interwoven with the quest to uncover the reality behind the dark nature of the Dedh-See Scroll. Ultimately, the truth that Ros discovers and is forced to confront may be darker than anyone could have imagined.

Judgement [Review] - (Epic) Judgement opens with a death sentence pronounced upon Toa Jor, watch-Toa of Metru Nui. It then follows the events leading up to this shocking scene, with the arrival of Toa Jovan, bearing grave news concerning the fate of the universe itself, as well as a plan to stop it.

Windows Through the Void [Review] - (Epic) Windows is a serial inspired by the old online serials of Bioniclestory.com. Serial 1 follows Takanuva, Toa of Light, as he journeys across the void to a world of dark trees and night, only to find that he must accomplish another task before his original quest can be completed.

The Time - (SS) A semi-mythic account of the origin of Avan, the first Matoran, in the Time Before Time--the Time of the Great Beings.

Despair - (SS) 1st Place winner of the 2010 Library Summer Olympics (SS category). "Despair" is a prequel to the epic Unknowledge, beginning with the arrival of a mysterious Toa in the city of Moa, deep within the Waste. His motives are unknown, as the nature of the dark Kanohi he wears. But the subsequent arrival of Toa Ros soon sets things in motion, leading up to an epic confrontation between hope and despair.

Dust - (SS) The Dark Hunter Devastator returns to Karzahni, his native land. He must find the Matoran called the Builder and retrieve a stolen tablet, but along the way his encounters with the crazed, broken Matoran and the dreaded Karzahni himself provide him with a sliver of new perspective in this land of dust and living death.

A Storm is Coming - (SS) Entrant in the (now stalled) Lesovikk's Hiatus contest. It tells the tale of Toa Lesovikk's three-day battle with a Rock Lion in a strange land where it never rains and the encounter he has there with the castaway Toa Jovan. Can Lesovikk find the strength to finish his task, or will the memories of his past defeat him? A storm is about to break.

Remember [Archive] - (SS) The Mountains of the Matoran are a strange place, but even stranger are the discoveries to be made within them. Two Agori venture deep into the heart of the mountains, and soon their plight becomes a struggle for survival as they try to escape the strange corridors of this dark place. But at the end of their journey lies a revelation more shocking than they could ever have imagined.

The Coming of the Toa - (SS) 3rd place Judges' Choice winner of Short Stories Contest #8. A glimpse into an alternate history of Bionicle, where something has gone terribly wrong. Kua seeks to discover what it is that the Matoran have lost, the darkness in their past. But can even he resist the power of the darkness that lies beneath?

The End - (SS) Nga-Ro has waited for so long in the darkness and cold of the ruined city. He has forgotten much. But now...even he must find the strength to resist the darkness of death and remember his duty. For the end has come...

The Sight - (SS) 1st place winner in the 2012 Flash Fiction Marathon (Visions Category).

The Power - (SS) 1st place winner of the 2012 Library Summer Olympics: Artistic Gymnastics Reimagine (Bionicle category).

Once Whole - (SS)

Hue #1471 - (SS)
 
Looming - (SS)

 
Static [Review] - (Co-authored Epic, OTC) Gold medalist in the 2012 Library Summer Olympics: Epics Unlimited Prompt Relay. Co-authored with Grant-Sud Rises, Velox, and Legolover-361.

Ever Up - (SS, OTC)

Long Day - (SS, OTC)
 
Beyond the Ridge of Tears - (SS, OTC)
 
The Trumpet Sounds - (SS, Blog)



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