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|Nouns decline according to...|
|Verbs conjugate according to...|
Po-Ben-Vwwn, literally, "the songs", is a musical language first used by European monastic orders in the 12th century.
Po-Ben-Vwwn is a sung language, replacing the phonemes of a traditional language with a system of tones. A message in Po-Ben-Vwwn is communicated entirely through the melody produced by arranging these tones in a certain order, and doesn't rely on phonetics at all. Because of this, the same message could be communicated by singing, whistling, or playing a musical instrument.
There are three fundamental tones in Po-Ben-Vwwn. The first (represented here by the symbol _ ) maintains the pitch of the previously sung note; the second (represented by /) raises the pitch by a half-step; and the third (\) lowers it by a half-step. Each group of three tones together serves the same function in Po-Ben-Vwwn as one phoneme in a traditional spoken language. Thus, there are twenty-seven possible "phonemes". For ease of notation, I will represent each of these units using a letter of the Roman alphabet from here forward:
Correspondences to the Roman AlphabetEdit
|First two tones:||_ _||_ /||_ \||/ _||/ /||/ \||\ _||\ /||\ \|
Following this system, the word "\\//_\__/_/\\\__//\/_\/_\\_" ("the songs") is transliterated as "Po-Ben-Vwwn".
There are three types of "phonetic" unit in Po-Ben-Vwwn. Those where the third tone is the same pitch as the final tone of the previous cluster are known as "neutral" phonemes. Those with a final tone of a higher pitch than in the previous cluster are known as "ascending" phonemes, and those with a lower pitch are called "descending" phonemes. Out of the twenty-seven phonetic units, seven are neutral, seven are ascending, and seven are descending.
Each of the neutral clusters has been represented by a vowel (with the exception of "w", but alas, there are only so many vowels in the Roman alphabet), because they are the most integral components of any syllable in Po-Ben-Vwwn. As with vowels in a traditional spoken language, all syllables formed in Po-Ben-Vwwn will contain neutral phonemes.
"Consonant" clusters are allowed in the root of a word, but never between consonants of the same type (ascending/descending). Thus, the ascending phonemes can only be paired with descending phonemes, and vice versa. For example, the cluster "qf" is allowed, but "qr" would not be.
Finally, no more than two consonants may be placed together without a vowel to separate them. The cluster "fbg" would not be acceptable, but "fbag" would.
However, consonant cluster rules do not apply to the suffixes appended to a word. If the addition of a suffix forms a consonant cluster that would otherwise be illegal (as in the case of "ajmvwn", the vocative form of "house"), it remains unaltered.
The length of the last note in a word is doubled to mark the end of one word and the beginning of the next.
At the beginning of a speech (when there is no previous note to determine the relative pitch of the first note in a word), a speaker should produce one long, steady note, to establish the starting pitch for the listener. This avoids ambiguity between words like "po" ("the") and "ro" ("two")
There is no indefinite article in Po-Ben-Vwwn. The definite article, "po", is attached as a prefix to defined nouns.
Gender, Number, Case: Nouns and PronounsEdit
There are four genders in Po-Ben-Vwwn": human, animal, plant, and inanimate. Nouns decline by gender, plurality, person, and case. There are six cases: vocative, nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, and ablative. The pronouns for each of these cases are as follows:
|1st Person Singular||rys|
|1st Person Plural||ryys|
|2nd Person Singular||ky'||ki'||ka'||kw'|
|2nd Person Plural||kyy'||kii'||kaa'||kww'|
|3rd Person Singular||vyn||vin||van||vwn|
|3rd Person Plural||vyyn||viin||vaan||vwwn|
|1st Person Singular||res|
|1st Person Plural||rees|
|2nd Person Singular||ke'||ki'||ko'||ku'|
|2nd Person Plural||kee'||kii'||koo'||kuu'|
|3rd Person Singular||ven||vin||von||vun|
|3rd Person Plural||veen||viin||voon||vuun|
|1st Person Singular||ser|
|1st Person Plural||seer|
|2nd Person Singular||'ek||'ik||'ok||'uk|
|2nd Person Plural||'eek||'iik||'ook||'uuk|
|3rd Person Singular||nev||niv||nov||nuv|
|3rd Person Plural||neev||niiv||noov||nuuv|
|1st Person Singular||syr|
|1st Person Plural||syyr|
|2nd Person Singular||'yk||'ik||'ak||'wk|
|2nd Person Plural||'yyk||'iik||'aak||'wwk|
|3rd Person Singular||nyv||niv||nav||nwv|
|3rd Person Plural||nyyv||niiv||naav||nwwv|
|1st Person Singular||esr|
|1st Person Plural||eesr|
|2nd Person Singular||e'k||i'k||o'k||u'k|
|2nd Person Plural||ee'k||ii'k||oo'k||uu'k|
|3rd Person Singular||env||inv||onv||unv|
|3rd Person Plural||eenv||iinv||oonv||uunv|
|1st Person Singular||ers|
|1st Person Plural||eers|
|2nd Person Singular||ek'||ik'||ok'||uk'|
|2nd Person Plural||eek'||iik'||ook'||uuk'|
|3rd Person Singular||evn||ivn||ovn||uvn|
|3rd Person Plural||eevn||iivn||oovn||uuvn|
Each of these pronouns may be used as an independent word, but they may also be attached as suffixes to mark the case of nouns (with the exception of the genitive and ablative cases; see below). For example, the sentence "I like it" would be written as "res nuv qut". To say "I like the house", attach the pronoun for "it" in the inanimate accusative form as a suffix to "ajm" (house); the sentence becomes "res po-ajm-nuv qut". To pluralize, use the pronoun for "them" instead: "res po-ajm-nuuv qut". Every noun must have an attached suffix.
Note: the genitive and ablative cases may NOT be attached to a noun as suffixes. They are always used as separate words. The sentence "I like my house" would be written as "res ajm-nuv esr qut", literally "I like a house [that is] mine".
Adjectives follow the nouns they describe, and must agree with their gender, number, case, and definiteness. Thus, "the thin woman" in the nominative translates as "po-mar'-ven po-eopl-ven".
The verb "to be" does not exist in the present tense in Po-Ben-Vwnn. Because of this, there is a potential ambiguity in distinguishing between the phrases "the thin woman" and "the woman is thin". With the latter, the adjective adopts the accusative case, becoming the object of the implied action "to be". "The woman [is] thin" becomes "po-mar'-ven po-eopl-nev".
Verbs exist in a root form and are not conjugated in the present tense. The past and future tenses are marked by the verb prefixes "ca" and "jy", respectively. "res qut" in the present tense ("I like") becomes "res ca-qut" in the past tense, and "res jy-qut" in the future tense.
|Past Tense||Future Tense|
The imperative, inquisitive, and subjunctive moods are expressed with verbal suffixes.
Because verbs do not conjugate for person, a subject pronoun is necessary even in the imperative. The command "come" for a single human would be written as "ke' gogv-ukh", "you come" with an imperative mood marker.
To write a compound sentence like "I want you to come", conjugate the first part as normal. The second half needs a subject pronoun in the nominative case, as normal, but the verb "to come" takes the subjunctive mood. Thus, the complete sentence is written as "res qxo ke' gogv-bw".
The verb "to be" does not exist in the present tense indicative. In the past or future tenses, or in a mood other than the indicative, the verb prefixes and suffixes may be used as independent words in place of the verb. Thus, "po-mar'-ven po-eopl-nev" ("the woman is thin") becomes "po-mar'-ven po-eopl-nev ca" ("the woman was thin"). To ask a question ("Is the woman thin?"), use the inquisitive marker: "po-mar'-ven po-eopl-nev arz".
To combine the past or future tense with a non-indicative mood, place the verb prefix and suffix together as a single word: "po-mar'-ven po-eopl-nev caarz" ("Was the woman thin?").