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5. Tlharithad by Kelly Drinkwater

Texts | Grammar and Notes | Lexicon | Interlinear | Abbreviations
Previous (Alex Fink, Sabasasaj) | Next (Jim Henry, gjâ-zym-byn)


"Rakaisar Kedhre Hyanhamataro"

Hyanhamahyenadenhiate thare. Kia itondishe hyenare thana, kia kaisarosi idotsa tsere, kia isiboi thare "tsai!" rabaitaro zomimona. Do inas thare rakaisarosi, do itiamori thare: "Throme nhao kaisar kedhre taro?" Itotaro tsere: "Ka! mat tha kaisar kedhre taro." Kiakia, itiamori thare: "Nhakasoitsha nhaore rabapagro thasi iakodzholhi rhoshin nhaona?" Itotaro tsere: "Azhdosoitsha nhaore rabasiboi rapapagro, asazhd pagro thare." Kia itakros ototarore stare kamasasi thana, kia itenosirekaine rakaisarosi. Priostozedhi thare tsesi okora.
  Smooth English

"The Stone That Talked"

I walked along a beach. My foot went off/away from the path, and then it hit a stone, and then I heard something saying "ow!" I held the stone and asked it: "You're not really a stone that talks, are you?" It replied, "Yes! I am a stone that talks." Next, I asked it: "Do you want to narrate your whole life story for me?" It replied, "If you wanted to hear the narration, I would narrate it." This reply got me angry, and then the rock got thrown from my hand into the sea. I will not see it again.

[Translator's Note: That "if" is counterfactual, by the way. The implication is, you wouldn't want to hear the narration.]
Smooth English Translation of the Sabasasaj Text

"The Stone Talks"

While I walk along the beach, my foot goes off my path and something says "ow!" where my foot puts me: a stone. I ask the thing in my hand: "Are you indeed a talking stone?" "I am indeed a talking stone," it replies. Next I ask it: "Would you want to narrate about your whole life for me?" "At any time that you wanted to hear it, I would want to narrate it," it replies. Because this thing it said makes me angry, by my effort I throw out what goes in the sea. It will never again have seen.

[Translator's Note: I probably parsed the last sentence wrong, but I couldn't figure out where I had messed up, so I put it into Tlharithad as "I will never see it again".]


Grammar and Notes

Phonemes & Orthography:
/p b t d k g s z/ <p b t d k g s z>
/S Z T D K K\/ <sh zh th dh lh l>
/R\ m n N 4 C/ <rh m n nh r hy>
/a e i o/ <a e i o>

(Exception: /Nk Ng/ are written <nk ng> instead of <nhk nhg>.)

Permitted consonant clusters:
/tS dZ st zd ts dz St/ permitted anywhere
/tK dK\ T4 D4 Zd (plosive)4/ not permitted word-finally
/Zd mp mb nt nd Nk Ng/ not permitted word-initially
/(nasal)4 4(nasal) 4(plosive)/ only permitted word-medially

Permitted diphthongs:
/ai ei oi ao/ permitted anywhere
/ia io/ not permitted after /K\/ or /C/

Most affixes have an "optional" sound at the point where they attach (e.g. the end of a prefix). This optional sound will drop if it would result in a forbidden cluster/diphthong. Optional sounds are shown in parentheses in the lexicon.

Grammar Stuff


Constituent order is usually VSO. This is rarely rearranged. Rearranging is obligatory in relative clauses (the relativizer, standing in for some noun, comes first). Also, in a normal sentence, if something besides the verb comes first, it gets heavily focused. Very heavily, it better be important.

Morphosyntactic alignment: Tlharithad is fluid-S in intransitive clauses. S acts like A or P based on some combination of voluntariness and control (to be honest, this needs a lot more working out). In ditransitive clauses, Tlharithad is dechticaetiative. (See the ZBB thread

Tlharithad is mainly dependent-marking and head-initial. It is more agglutinative than English, but not fully agglutinative.

Noun cases are shown by suffixes:

  • Ergative: -(a)re
  • Accusative: -(o)si
  • Genitive/Possessor: -(a)na
  • Dechticaetiative: -(e)lhi

To express a benefactive (X verbs Y for Z's benefit), the verb is used ditransitively. X is ERG, Y is DCH, and Z is ACC.

Sometimes, an argument may be left out from a transitive verb. This only happens when the left-out argument was just recently mentioned (and it would most likely be shown as a pronoun if it were left in). Be careful if you see a verb with just one argument. It may be an intransitive verb with a fluid-S argument, or a transitive verb with one argument left out. Transitive and intransitive verbs are indicated in the lexicon.

TAM and Evidentials: These are prefixed to the verb. A Tense prefix has two parts. The first part indicates distance from the present (in this text, "some months" and "some years"). The second part indicates past or future. Both parts are required, unless the verb is in the present tense. Present tense is unmarked.

Mood/Evidentiality are indicated by a set of prefixes (including everything that doesn't specifically pertain to tense in the TAM/Evidentials section of the lexicon). One mood/evidential prefix *must* occur on the main verb of every sentence. These prefixes include the "in my experience" evidential, the Nonevidential, the "counterfactual IF" mood, and the two yes-or-no-question markers, _nhak(a)-_ and _throm(e)-_. There are many more that do not occur in this text.

In a narrative story such as this text, where every single sentence has the same TAM/evidential marking, after the first appearance of this marking you can skip it and just put the Nonevidential prefix.

The copula is null, but still takes the mandatory TAM and evidential marking. Arguments of the copula appear as stems without case suffixes.

Reduplicating the first CV of a verb (or the first VC if the verb starts with a V) forms a noun indicating "the action of Verb" or "an instance of Verb being done".

The relativizer, _kedhi_, stands in for a noun and acts much like English who/which/that. The constituent order of relative clauses is rearranged so that _kedhi_ appears at the beginning. In this text, _kedhi_ appears in the Ergative case, and is phonetically eroded from _kedhire_ to _kedhre_.

A word on "and". Two types of "and" appear in the text. One, _kia_, indicates actions or states occurring in sequence. The other, _do_ indicates actions or states that occur simultaneously. When listing several items with either form of "and", one "and" is placed before *each* item in the list. Like this: "Ocean, beach, and sky." _Do ekaine do nhiate do sira._

Motion verbs have three parts: Origin-Method-Destination. Origin and Destination are both nouns. Either or both may be null. Method is a verb, or often, a noun used as a verb. For example Car (n) and Drive (v) are the same word. The Method cannot be null. If the manner of motion is unknown or unimportant, use the semantically empty verb "go", _she_. TAM/Evidential stuff goes before the Origin. If there is a phonotactic crash between Origin and Method, drop sounds off the end of Origin till there is no more crash. Ditto for Method and Destination; drop sounds off Method. "Walk from beach (in)to ocean." _Nhiatehyenekaine._

The prefix _rab(a)-_ indicates what, for ignorance of a better term, I'll call secondary predicates. Secondary predicates are verbs that follow words such as "want to", "must", and "can". So, for example, "eat" would be the secondary predicate in "I want to eat", and it would take the _rab(a)-_ prefix. "Want" and "hear" are the only ones that appear in this text: "I want to say 'Help!' ", "I hear him say 'Help!' ".

In Tlharithad, when you have an emotional reaction to something, you say "it has my emotion". So like this: "Ithkuil has my amazement." This metaphor can be extended. "It grabbed my liking" means that you really weren't disposed to like it at first, but eventually you did. "I gave it my liking" means that you were very much disposed to like it, and you did. "It refused my liking" means that you wanted to like it, but you couldn't.

Finally, a quick note about the one adverb in this text. It's just a bare verb stem, shoved into the sentence in a random place. If you want to say "verb1 in a verb2ly manner", using verb2 adverbially, just take the bare verb2 stem and shove it into the pre-existing verb1 sentence somewhere.



(v tr) transitive verb; (v intr) intransitive verb; (v m) Method verb (for motion verbs); (pn) pronoun. Hyphens at one or both ends of a word indicate that it is a prefix, suffix, or infix. Sounds in parentheses disappear if they would cause a phonotactic crash.

Verbs, Nouns, Pronouns:
akros: (v tr) grab
dhi: (v tr) see
dotsa: (v tr) hit, strike, touch
ekaine: (n) sea, ocean
hyena: (n) foot, (v m) walk
iakodzho: (n) life, life story
iamori: (v tr) ask
kaisar: (n) stone, rock
kamasa: (n) anger
mona: (n) thing, object
nas: (v) have, hold
nhao: (pn) Second person singular
nhiate: (n) beach, strand
okora: (v intr) repeat, (adv) again
ondi: (n) path
otaro: (v intr) reply
pagro: (v tr) narrate, tell (a story)
she: (v m) go (semantically empty)
siboi: (v tr) hear
sira: (n) sky, (v m) fly from being thrown (as opposed to flying with wings)
soitsha: (v intr) want
taro: (v intr) speak, say
teno: (n) hand
tha: (pn) First person singular
tse: (pn) Third person singular

TAM/Evidential Stuff:
-anh(a)-: past tense
azhd(o)-: "if-counterfactual" mood
hy-: "some months" distance from the present
-iost(o)-: future tense
i(t)-: Nonevidential
ma(t)-: In my experience, from first hand observation (evidential)
nhak(a)-: Marker for yes-or-no questions, not expecting any particular answer
pr-: "some years" distance from the present
throm(e)-: Marker for yes-or-no questions, expecting an answer of No
ze(n)-: Negative

-(a)na: genitive/possessor case marker
-(a)re: ergative case marker
asazhd: then (from if-then)
de(n)-: along (a linear thing, such as a road)
do: and (for actions or states occuring simultaneously)
-(e)lhi: dechticaetiative case marker
ka: yes!
kedhi: relativizer, "who"
kia: and then (for actions or states occurring sequentially)
kiakia: next, then, subsequently
-(o)si: accusative case marker
rab(a)-: prefix introducing
ra(n)-: the; definite article prefix (note: indefinite stuff is unmarked)
rhoshin: entire, whole (determiner)
tsai: ow!
zom(i)-: REALLY indefinite stuff (like the some- in sometime, someday,



The following interlinear was provided by Kelly at the conclusion of the relay, and was not included in the text she sent to Jim Henry.

  • "Rakaisar Kedhre Hyanhamataro"
  • ra-kaisar kedhi-re hy-anha-ma-taro
  • DEF-rock who-ERG months-past-IME-speak
  • "The Stone That Talked"
  • Hyanhamahyenadenhiate thare.
  • hy-anha-ma-hyena-denhiate tha-re
  • MONTHS-PST-IME-foot.v-[to]along:beach 1SG-ERG
  • "I walked along a beach." (lit. "footed along")
  • Kia itondishe hyenare thana, kia kaisarosi idotsa tsere,
  • kia it-ondi-she hyena-re tha-na, kia kaisar-osi i-dotsa tse-re,
  • and.then NONEV-[from]path-go foot-ERG 1SG-GEN, and.then stone-ACC
  • NONEV-hit 3SG-ERG,
  • "My foot went off the path, and then it hit a stone, ..."
  • kia isiboi thare "tsai!" rabaitaro zomimona.
  • kia i-siboi tha-re tsai raba-i-taro zomi-mona
  • and.then NONEV-hear 1SG-ERG ow COMP-NONEV-speak INDEF-thing
  • "...and then I heard something saying "ow!"."
  • [Note: I forgot to put an ergative case marker on zomimona; that should read zomimonare.]
  • Do inas thare rakaisarosi, do itiamori thare:
  • do i-nas tha-re ra-kaisar-osi, do it-iamori tha-re
  • and NONEV-hold 1SG-ERG DEF-stone-ACC, and NONEV-ask 1SG-ERG
  • "I held the stone, and I asked, ..."
  • "Throme nhao kaisar kedhre taro?"
  • throme-0 nhao kaisar kedhi-re taro
  • Q.NO-be 2SG stone who-ERG speak
  • "You're not really a stone that talks, are you?" (lit. "Are you a stone who speaks?", but throme- expects an answer of No, which works like this English negative-question construction)
  • Itotaro tsere:
  • it-otaro tse-re
  • NONEV-reply 3SG-ERG
  • "It replied: ..."
  • "Ka! mat tha kaisar kedhre taro."
  • ka! mat-0 tha kaisar kedhi-re taro
  • yes IME-be 1SG stone who-ERG speak
  • "Yes! I am a stone that talks."
  • Kiakia, itiamori thare:
  • kiakia, it-iamori tha-re
  • next, NONEV-ask 1SG-ERG
  • "Next, I asked: ..."
  • "Nhakasoitsha nhaore rabapagro thasi iakodzholhi rhoshin nhaona?"
  • nhaka-soitsha nhao-re raba-pagro tha-si iakodzho-lhi rhoshin nhao-na
  • Q-want 2SG-ERG COMP-narrate 1SG-ACC life.story-DCH entire
  • "Do you want to narrate your whole life story for me?"
  • Itotaro tsere:
  • it-otaro tse-re
  • NONEV-reply 3SG-ERG
  • "It replied: ..."
  • "Azhdosoitsha nhaore rabasiboi rapapagro, asazhd pagro thare."
  • azhdo-soitsha nhao-re raba-siboi ra-pa~pagro, asazhd pagro tha-re
  • if.CNTF-want 2SG-ERG COMP-hear DEF-NMLZ~narrate, then narrate 1SG-ERG
  • "If you would want to hear the narration, then I would narrate."
  • Kia itakros ototarore stare kamasasi thana,
  • kia it-akros ot~otaro-re stare kamasa-si tha-na
  • and.then NONEV-grab NMLZ~reply this anger-ACC 1SG-GEN
  • "This reply got me angry, ..." (lit. "grabbed my anger")
  • kia itenosirekaine rakaisarosi.
  • kia i-teno-sire-ekaine ra-kaisar-osi
  • and.then NONEV-[from]hand-sky-[to]sea DEF-stone-ACC
  • "...and then the rock got thrown from my hand into the sea." (lit. "The stone involuntarily skyed [flew] from my hand (in)to the sea.")
  • Priostozedhi thare tsesi okora.
  • pr-iosto-ze-dhi tha-re tse-si okora
  • YEARS-FUT-NEG-see 1SG-ERG 3SG-ACC repeat
  • "I will not see it again." (lit. "I will not repeatingly see it many years in the future")



The following abbreviations are used in the interlinear above.

  • CNTF: counterfactual
  • COMP: "complementizer" (what I called "secondary predicates" in the Grammar section)
  • IME: "from firsthand experience" evidential
  • NMLZ: verm nominalizer for "the action of Verb" or "an instance of Verb being done"
  • Q: yes-or-no question marker
  • Q.NO: yes-or-no question marker, expecting an answer of No

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