Relay 10/R

List of translations

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aib’ dem.adj. from aiba; this.
aibba, dem.pron. this thing.
androfaith, adj. beautiful, lovely, comely, handsome.
-ary, mot.prep. This suffix indicates forward motion toward, to, toward.
bom, prep. combined with rev-, or prefixed to the verbal noun makes what I call the “progressive gerundial” or continuative. SEE NOTES.
covy, mot.prep, cov- + y indicates motion. out of, from out of, out through.
covyil, mot.prep. +
de, abs. of derem, do, act, perform.
del-, pret. tense particle for a stative verb.
deldwav, tense part. + pron.; del- + twav
deyhsa, vt.v. from deyhsarem, want, desire, covet.
dhar, int.part. turns the clause into a question.
-dym. Deific suffix. Suffixed to any noun made from a verb, it puts the action in the realm of the gods. Example: dinmedym, a deific smile, a smile the gods make, a blessing, a fortunate event. SEE NOTES (under Miscellaneous).
-el-, pret. tense particle. It can prefix subject pronouns before verbs and suffix verbs.
ely, tense-marked pron. el- + ly.
ennyve, vt. absolute form of enyverem, eat.
etsa, dem.adj. that can function as a pronoun: this, this (one), the one in question.
euan, vi. absolute form of euanrem.
euanrem, vi. go, proceed.
ev, prep. by, with, by means of.
dam, pron. third person singular feminine object.
elnaowy, n. window.
fidimo, n. evil, iniquity.
fidimoht, adj. fidimo + adjectival ending.
fodyr, n. claw, talon.
fodyrma, vt.v. from fodyrmarem; fodyr + marem.
fyn, pron. second person plural familiar.
fynry, emp.pron. This form with fyn allows the subject pronoun to be fronted before the object and given emphasis.
fyratat, adj. n. fyrat + at: having an answer, knowing what to do, decisive.
glehdma, vt. from gledhmarem, to bloody, to do violence to, assault.
glehdmael, vt. glehdma + -el.
hadoht, adj. dark
hai, rel.pron. it, that, which.
hdarma, vt. from hdaro, “question” and -marem; ask, inquire.
hedrim, n. skin.hovik, n. house, home.
heredma, vt.v. from heredmarem, make hidden, hide, suppress.
hme-, mod. prefixes the pronoun and indicates irreality, or hypothetical situation. SEE NOTES.
hmefyn, mod.+ pron. hme + fyn
hovikkary, prep. hovik + -ary.
hteselivarn, voc. The vocative of tesilivarn.
htindralrem, sing.
htyme, n. account, story.
il,; in some cases it functions as an object epicene pronoun, when the gender of the being is unacknowledged (sometimes for pejorative reasons). “The one.” You can tell the difference, because the article usually comes before a noun, whereas the other is usually the object of a verb, or suffixed to a preposition.
keo, n. This is a noun made from kerem, “to see,” so glance, look, watching.
kerem, vn.vt. see.
koin, st.v. The absolute form of stative verb koindi.
koindi, st.v. know, experience, know by experiencing or hearing about.
kolva, sg.n. innards, inner organs, depths, heart, bowels.
la, poss.pron. feminine singular.
kwe, inter.pron. what (object form).
kwer, inter. kwe + dhar.
le, def. art. agentive.
-li, indef. art (suffixes the noun).
ly, pron. third person, singular nominative feminine.
ma, conj. but.
-maned, ni.v. this verbal suffix turns a noun into a non-volitional verb indicating an experience caused by this noun.
-marem, vt.v. this verbal suffix turns a noun into a volitional verb by indicating an action made with or by this noun, or causing an action to be made or done.
mim-, plural prefix.
mimmywem, pl.n. mim + ywem.
‘naowy, n. see elnaowy.
navvecma, ni.v. from navecmaned, a combination of navveco, “vomit,” and -maned, to make or experience; so: vomit, spew.
nel-, tense-particle, n- + el-. This form of the tense particle indicates that the verb is classed as non-volitional.
nelletsa, tense-marked pronoun: nel- + etsa.
nistro, n. game, sport.
nistroma, vt. from nistromarem, to make sport, play.
-n, pl. suffix.
ni-, pl. prefix.
nihhtevo, pl.n. ni- + htevo.
nuehrivar, n. stranger, outsider.
nuehrivarn, pl.n. nuehrivar + -n.
ouar, adj., pron. other, other thing mentioned.
öl, pron. first person singular object.
pera, vt.v, from perarem, seek, search for, examine, look into.
perim, ni.v. absolute form of perimbi.
perimbi, to be, exist.
pom, prep. with.
pomil, prep.+ pron. pom + il.
poy, adv. very, extremely.
pre, vi.v. from prerem, know, understand.
rev, v.part. This is the ostracized verbal noun suffix; an element has been infixed (pomil, or toil) in this case and according to the “Law of Detachability” (see NOTES--“Continuative”) the suffix has become detached. All it means is that the absolute form of the verb following the infix is actually a verbal noun.
revbom, rev- prefixed to bom.
rin, adv. about, concerning, of.
, conj. or.
rrö, pron. First person plural object inclusive.
ry, pron. first person singular subject.
ryppre, ry + pre.
sa, adv. purposive; it indicates purpose: for, to, and is used before verbal nouns.
send, conj. and (starts new sentences).
Sybua, see NOTES (under miscellaneous).
ta, adv.conj. an all purpose word that introduces comparisons, but also resultative clauses.
tamol, n. child.
tamoli, n. tamol + indefinite experiencer article -li.
tesilivarn, pl.n. tesily + -var + plural ending -n.
tesily, n. village.
to, prep. for, to.
tobre, n. thing. When used in the interrogative phrase, it means “what thing, what.”
toil, prep.+ pron. to + il.
tsö, pron. First person subject plural inclusive.
twav, pron. Third person subject plural.
-uar. Aspectual particle suffixed to the verb, expresses the “completive,” what we would call the “perfect.”
uehar, n. woman.
ueharli, n. uehar + indef. experiencer article -li.
um-, nom.prefix. Suggests being in a state of the noun that it prefixes; resembles our suffix -ness.
umssybua, n. um- + Sybua.
uo, conj. and.
‘vaiba, adv.conj. ev + aiba. An expression meaning “with this,” i.e., thus, therefore.
vakro, vt. absolute form of vn. vakrorem.
vakrouar, vakro + aspectual part. -uar.
vakrorem, vn.vt. empty out, hollow out, lay waste, or eviscerate.
-var, -ar, agentive suffix. It’s like “-er” in “worker,” or in G. “Berliner.” It turns a task or a thing into a person who does or engages in that thing.
ven, adj. good, fine, dear; adv. well.
vera, adv. not. Usually follows the verb in a main clause, but in a subordinate clause it precedes.
vil-, pej.pref. This augmentative prefix indicates badness, evil, excessiveness, and is attached to verbs and nouns alike.
vilennyve, vt. absolute form of verb vilennyverem: vil + ennyve.
vilkeodym, comp.n. vil + keo + dym.
vy-, negative prefix: indicates “no,” “un-” “absence of.”
vyfyratat, adj. vy + fyratat.
vylave, n. joy, delight, happiness.
vylavemarem, vn.vt vylave + -marem.
ynnehil, exp. behold, see, lo, look, pay attention, notice.
ywem, n. thing, matter, business.


abs. Absolute form (SEE NOTES under Verbs)
adj. Adjective
art. Article.
conj. Conjunction
def. Definite.
dem. Demonstrative.
indef. Indefinite.
int. Interrogative.
emp. Emphasized.
exp. Experiencer (non volitional subject or patient)
expl. Expletive
mot. Motive (see NOTES under Word Order)
n. Noun
ni.v. Non-volitional intransitive verb (SEE NOTES under Volitionality).
nt.v. Non-volitional transitive verb.
part. Particle.
pej. Pejorative.
prep. Preposition
pret. Preterite
pron. Pronoun.
rel. Relative
st. Stative (see NOTES--under Word Order)
voc. Vocative.
v. Verb.
vi.v. Volitional intransitive verb.
vt.v. Volitional transitive verb.
vn. Verbal noun

Teonaht (*)

Sally Caves

Ring A

Rin il tamol fidimoht il htyme ryppre

Ynnehil, ven htesilivarn! Il vilkeodym tsö koin vakrouar hai rrö.
Tamoli fidimoht uo ueharli androfaiht deldwav perim:
Etsa uehar ely hovikkary euan sa kerem il ouar, sa il vylavemarem, sa rev pomil nistroma, sa rev toil htindral.
Ma dam le ouar glehdmael, la hedrim revbom fodyrma, la kolva revbom vilennyve! Send il nihhtevo covyil ‘naowy nelletsa navvecma.
Kwer tobre hmefyn de? Fynry poy vyfyratat.
‘Vaiba öl fyn heredma ta vera hdarma hme le nuehrivarn (outsiders) rin aib’ umssybua, rö pera rö vilddeyhsa twav mimmywem hadoht.

I know the story of the evil child

Listen, good villagers! We know the curse that has hollowed us out.
There was an evil child and a beautiful woman.
The woman went home to see the other,
to entertain it, to play with it, to sing to it.
but it bloodied her, tearing her skin, devouring her innards,
and it spewed up the remainders out the window!

What must you do? You, you are answerless.
So you hide me so that outsiders won’t ask
about this Sybua-thing,* or seek or desire dark business.

* having to do with Sybua, the tantruming child, the symbol of arrested development.


You really only need to know a few things about Teonaht to grasp this text, which I have set out for you without an interlinear gloss, its parts divided up, so that it will become a kind of puzzle, a connect-the-dots cipher in which you will have to make decisions about who the speaker is, and the nature of the story.


Teonaht is an accusative language with some active tendencies. It is largely analytic in that it is lacking for the most part in case endings, and it depends on word order, and an array of affixes that can attach either to the beginning or the end of the word. These are all set out obsessively in the glossary. See below for examples illustrating the LAW OF DETACHABILITY.

Word order

Teonaht is relentlessly OV, and in literary Teonaht OSV: and because it is not synthetic, I resort to terms like subject and object instead of nominative and accusative. I don’t have a separate word for “indirect object,” and neither do the Teonaht. If the object is indirect, it is preceded by one of Teonaht’s vast array of prepositions that are either stative (within), or motive (into), or durative (during) or temporal (after, before, etc.). There are only a few of those here.

In the main clause, objects come first in literary Teonaht, then the subject, and verbs are always final. Very often case will be indicated helpfully by the article, which also expresses volitionality (see under Volitionality). So:

    il        mabbamba le            betö               nrina.  
    the (obj) ball         the (volitional subject) boy finds.

In subordinate clauses, however, word order is reversed, and mirrors that of the main clause, so it is VSO:

	il mabbamba le betö nrina deysha li gwenda hai.
   	the ball the boy found         wanted the girl    it.
	The boy found the ball the girl wanted.

“hai” here is a relative pronoun echoing “ball.” A subordinate clause is marked by the chiastic structure of noun verb verb noun. In the one that you will encounter here, it is marked by the resultative ta, and you will note that vera, an adj. meaning “not,” precedes the verb instead of following it as it normally does in a main clause. Le beto ain lo nrina vera. “The boy didn’t find it.”


Nouns have no case markings except for the possessive, and except for the Nenddeylyt nouns, none of which you have in this text.

Plural nouns have an array of prefixes or suffixes, the ones in this text being -n, ni- and mim-. Nenddeylyt nouns, however, have s-, se-, but you won’t see those here.

Vocatives are signaled by a fricatization of the initial stop in nouns beginning with stops.


Adjectives follow nouns in Teonaht with a few exceptions like ven and poy and other short words. The more elaborate adjectives are often made from nouns, in which case they have an adjectival ending, and these are numerous. In this text, you will see only -at or -aht.


I gave you all you needed to know under “Word Order” above, but it’s worth noting that prepositions will prefix the object article.


Verbs are one of Teonaht’s easiest parts of speech. There are no conjugations. There is the verbal noun, which indicates its substantive nature by attaching three different suffixes explained below under volitionality: -rem, -ned, and -ndi. All other forms of the verb take the “absolute” form, which means they are written without the verbal noun endings, and the nouns, pronouns, articles, and tense particles provide information about person, number, tense, and volitionality.

The difficulty in Teonaht nouns comes in its tense, modal, and aspect particles. Tense and aspect are expressed as particles that detach from the ends of their nouns and prefix the pronouns in front of verbs. This is called THE LAW OF DETACHABILITY. Modals will often do the same thing.

Adverbs and modals

Adverbs precede the verb, with the exception of vera, “not.”

A modal is a type of verb that modifies the absolute form of another verb as though it were an adverb. Examples: talrem: Il mabbamba ry tal nrina. “the ball I can find.” Sometimes, however, this is expressed as talry nrina, where the modal prefixes the pronoun. The only one you will have to be watchful for is hmened, an all purpose modal that suggests hypotheticality: should, would, could, might, may. That’s Teonaht’s only gesture towards a subjunctive or obligative.


Teonaht marks verbs, articles, and tense particles for “volitionality.” It matters to the Teonim, but not necessarily to English speakers, whether a subject or a verb is volitional, i.e., whether a subject is an agent or an experiencer. An agent is willfully responsible for its actions, but not an experiencer. Verbal nouns in Teonaht reflect this difference; they are marked by -rem (volitional, agentive actions), -ned (non-volitional, experiencer actions), and -ndi (stative actions--to be in a state of something). So one who kicks is acting agentively, but one who sleeps is acting experientially. One who colds, blues, or absents or knowledgeables, is “acting” statively. Some verbs can take either the -rem or the -ned ending (whereas stative verbs are immutable): so nrinarem means “to find after actively looking” whereas nrinaned means “to stumble upon by accident.”

Volitional and Non-volitional Tense Markers

Those tense particles that become detached and prefix pronouns will express the volitional or stative condition. Here is an example with -es, the futuric particle.

     Il mabbamba ry nrines means “the ball I will find,” -es having been suffixed onto nrina, “find.”

But most frequently Teonaht detaches the suffix and prefixes it to the pronoun, under a condition called THE LAW OF DETACHABILITY:

     Il mabbamba esry nrina, “the ball will I find.”

If the verb is a -ned verb, and the action non-volitional, then you get:

     Il mabbamba nesry nrina. “I will stumble upon, or find by accident, the ball.”

If it is an -ndi or stative verb, then you will get:

     Le beto deslo hejvan, “the boy will not be there.” From hejvvandi, “be absent.”

The Continuative or Progressive Gerundial

Teonaht expresses some types of aspect or voice through combinations of preposition and verb noun, the only one that you’ll have to worry about here being the “progressive gerundial.” If you add bom (a variant on the preposition pom) to the verbal noun or gerund), you create what we think of as the progressive or the continuative: bom nrinarem, “finding, in the process of finding, while finding.”

Sometimes, due to the LAW OF DETACHABILITY, it is expedient or stylistically graceful to detach the -rem from the verbal noun and prefix it to the preposition. Hence you can also get revbom nrina, “with finding, while finding.” This occurs in the text, so watch for it.

Don’t confuse it with pomil nistroma: this simply means with + object pronoun + verb, or, turned around: verb with pronoun. The rev in front of that phrase has been detached, because the sa construction (sa means “for,” “to”) requires the verbal noun. It could easily have been written: sa pomil nistromarem, sa toil thindralrem.


These are expressed by the interrogative particle, explained in your glossary. Interrogative pronouns (what, which, why, etc.) are expressed by kwa or kwe preceding a noun, “thing, manner, mode,” etc.

Miscellaneous vocabulary

Teonaht is rich in words it derives from old mythologies, and two of the words in this text refer to old gods. This does not mean, however, that this text is about gods or mythologies, and I make this point because so many of our relays devolve into creation myths.

Vilkeodym is a compound with a secular meaning that you can provide yourself, although it does contain the seeds of an old superstition.

Umssybua is another compound that refers to an old god Sybua, the tantruming child who arrests development. I will let you arrive at a translation for this somewhat cryptic word and the light it sheds on the events of this text. You can review Teon’s old gods and their psychological significances, along with some of their expressions at my site:

Smooth translation of the text received (Asha'ille)

Behold: the story of the Evil Child.

There was an evil child and a beautiful woman.
You know, my close friends, the tragedy that strikes us down.
That one, the woman, came home to see the other, the child,
To take delight in it, play with it, sing to it.
But it assaulted her. It tore her flesh and ate her innards
and spewed the rest out from the window to the ground.
What should be done? We don’t know.
So we hide that creature so that outsiders don’t ask
About this atrocity, don’t seek, don’t covet dark things.


The intriguing difficulty with Arthaey’s text was noting the aberration in the empathic point of view. I struggled mightily over “aet” in her second line, a pronoun that really ought to belong to non-empathic beings. In one of her explanations, which I took to be significant (i.e, watch for it in this text), she writes “by deliberately using the non-empath pronouns and conjugations with a subject that would normally be expected to take the empathic ones, the author (or speaker) is signaling that there is something wrong with the subject. Mental patients and sociopaths typically evoke such usage.”

From this I deduced that the evil child itself was telling the story, which explains the change in pronoun in my Teonaht rendition. I also considered that the story is false, a tale told by a madman, and refers to a condition within the mind of the teller: so I deliberately used a word for “strike” “befall” (Asha’llean ghachiv) that suggested what was done to the mother, or beautiful woman: “eviscerated,” “hollowed out.” This is a fantasy told by a subject who considers himself an evil child, one who has destroyed and eaten his mother, but who also sees himself as a symbol of the repression of his society. He has been “hidden” (locked away in an asylum?) because his fellow citizens can only repress, but not correct, what he represents: the unbridled passion and violence of human nature.

© Jan van Steenbergen, Sally Caves, 29 Aug. 2004