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2. Kēlen by Sylvia Sotomayor

Texts | Grammar | Lexicon
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"la jakīþa jatēnnā"

il talōnte il tiēlen ñi le rā jahāwekien nō il ñi le marā ānen jarāka jawāna sū jakīþa pa antēnnā ōl;

ē ñalla jakīþa jatēnnā rā lekū mē ōl aþ telme ien la riēn makīþa matēnnā kēñ;

temle ke makīþa matēnnā ien jalā la liēn makīþa matēnnā;

telme jakēña mo makīþa matēnnā ien tō wā terle jasōra xiēn jē jaþīña tōkēñ;

temle jerrasōr ien tō la liēn makīþa matēnnā mapēnne lā;

tō ñi le manūra tō jerrasōr nīkan makīþa matēnnā tō tūaþ ñalla ja rā anālhāri mē ānen antāken;

ilwae sela jarūna wā mo lerōña to jakīþa jatēnnā jē nā;
  Smooth English

"The Talking Rock"

Yesterday I was going along the beach when I moved with a false step on top of a rock with the ability to talk.

I moved the talking rock up into my hand, and said to him, "Are you a talking rock?"

The talking rock said to me: "Yes I am a talking rock."

I asked the talking rock, "Why didn't you say something about the path?"

He replied to me: "Because I am a mean talking rock!"

The reply of the talking rock made me angry so I moved it into the ocean with force.

I have never re-seen the talking rock at all.




First, the grammar consists of relationals [R], substantives [S] (aka nouns and adjectives), and other smaller word classes (pronouns, modifiers, clause-level modifiers, prepositions, conjunctions, and mood markers). Basic syntax is:

  • [ClMod] R SP [Mood]

Some phrase structures:

  • S Mod
  • S Prep S Mod
  • Conj S Conj S
  • PN Mod

Relationals are explained somewhat in the lexicon. There are four of them: la, pa, ñi, and se. la and se can inflect for tense, and ñi and se can inflect for person. Some person inflections are listed in the chart below:

0 -alla-arra-amma -erle-emle -emre

Se becomes s- when inflected, and ñi becomes ñ-.

Substantives come in several differing inflections: inanimate singular, inanimate plural, inanimate collective, animate singular, animate plural, animate collective, stative, obligatorily possessed. Inflection involves various prefixes and suffixes:

  • j(a)- inanimate
  • m(a)- animate
  • an- inanimate collectives and statives
  • l(e)- 1p obligatorily possessed
  • r(i)- 2p obligatorily possessed
  • m(a)- 3p obligatorily possessed
  • -a|-e|-0 singular, stative
  • -i plural, inanimate collective
  • -ien animate collective (accompanied by reduplication of initial cons)

Two or more substantives in apposition with the same inflection refer to the same entity.

Singular, plural, collective, and obligatorily possessed are fairly self-explanatory. Stative tends to refer to abstractions and attributes.

Animates generally refer to persons or other entities with the status of persons. Inanimates refer to everything else. One can use an inanimate inflection with a person (real or honorary), but that use is derogatory - essentially stripping the entity of person status.

Pronouns come in two sets: full and reduced. Full is for use in formal situations and reduced is generally used in less formal situations. It is customary and considered friendly and amiable to use 1p reduced in conversation. But, it is also informal and therefore inappropriate in certain contexts. In other contexts, it is considered rude, or at least arrogant, to use 1p full pronouns. As to 2p, it is always considered rude to use the 2p reduced pronoun. 2p full is always polite and expected. And for 3p, there is no inanimate 3p full pronoun, only animate ones.

Conjunctions are almost always coordinating, with a conjunction preceding each phrase being connected.



ālhār [S] ocean
ānen [Prep] with, how, when followed by a stative noun, creates a clause-level modifier
aþ [Conj] and then

ē [Conj] and
errasōr [S] reply

hāwekien [S] beach, strand

ien [PN] denotes a relative clause with se
il [Conj] when, then, while
ilwae [ClMod] never

ja [PN] 3p inanimate reduced, it
jalā [ClMod] yes, agreed
jē nā [ClMod] ever, at all

ke [Prep] denotes a source with se
kēñ [Mood] question particle
kīþ [S] rock, stone
kū [S] hand

la [R] a relational, la X denotes that X exists and usually then says something about X
lā [Mood] emphatic or exclamatory particle
le [PN] 1p reduced, I, me, we, us
liēn [PN] 1p sg full, I, me

mē [Mod] inside, into, in
mo [Prep] denotes a goal or experiencer with se

ñi [S] a relational, ñi X denotes that X has recently undergone a change in state or location, ñi X + Locative Prep denotes motion
nīkan [Prep] with, together with, also marks an associative or genetive relationship
nō [Mod] along, beside, near
nūr [S] anger, angry

ōl [Mod] up, over, on, on top of

pa [R] a relational, N pa X or pa N X denote that X is part of a preceding whole (N)
pēnn [S] mean, nasty, disliked

rā [Prep] to (location)
rāk [S] step
riēn [PN] 2p sg full, you
rōñ [S] eye
rūn [S] visible again, seen again

se [R] a relational, se X denotes that X has a source or generator and also a goal or experiencer
sōr [S] word
sū [Prep] at

tāken [S] force, strength
talōnte [Mod] yesterday
te [R] past tense form of se
tēnnā [S] having the ability to talk or speak
tiēlen [ClMod] past non-punctual
þīñ [S] path
to [Prep] denotes an inanimate source with se
tō (1) [Prep] denotes an inanimate agent or force with ñi
tō (2) [Conj] why, because
tō tūaþ [Conj] therefore
tōkēñ [Mood] why, kēñ prefixed with tō

wā (1) [Mod] none, not
wā (2) [ClMod] negation particle
wān [S] wrong, false

xiēn jē [Prep] about, concerning

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