Wednesday’s Word – mar

mar adv. not

Today’s word is a less content bearing than the first two entries, and is more functional and therefore this post is more of a grammar post than the previous entries have been.

Mar works more or less like the English “not”; though, it can occur with any verb and does not need a helping verb (as this sentence exemplifies). Perhaps it better to say it works like the German “nicht”.

De ana laiv mar.
de                an-a               lai-v           mar.
1s.NOM      love-PRS      3sf-ACC     NEG
I do not love her.

normal speed:  slow:

(Word order in Mychai is used largely for discourse purposes, so while the above word order matches that of English well, it need not.)

Mritac mar ith?
mrit-a-c                            mar        ith
think-PRS-question       NEG      2s.NOM
Don’t you think?

So far so good, but now the simplicity of mar ends: mar agrees with the verbal paradigm, though to a very limited extent. There are six conjugations of verbs in Mychai. This is analogous to the French –ir, –er and –re verbs. The conjugation is based entirely on the vowel that indicates the present tense. They are the A/Â, E/Ë, I/Y, O, U and the diphthong conjugations (ending in –ai, –au, –oi or –é (-ei)). The paradigms can be found in the grammar.

What’s important is that the vowel in mar agree with conjugation. For most of verbs, its straight forward. If the present tense of the verb ends in –a or –â, mar is used; if it ends in –e or –ë, mer is used; if it ends in –i or –y, mir is used; if it ends in –o, mor; if it ends in –u, mur. However, diphthong-final vowels don’t show such simple agreement, rather they all take mar.

Okay, that’s pretty simple. More or less you just match the final vowel of the verb with the vowel of the negative particle. But agree with the paradigm is more accurate. For example, the past tense of oine (to become tired), is oinau. One might think that since the past tense ends in a diphthong (-au as in “Ow that hurt!”), that mar must be used. However, the verb oinau in the present tense ends in –e, therefore mer is appropriate.

Thus:
Le oinau mer.
le               oin-au                     mer
1s.ABS      tire-PAST.PFV      NEG
I didn’t tire.


However, not all instances of English “not” can be translated to one of the forms of mar. When used in negative imperatives (negative commands), the particle hoi is used. Hoi does not agree with the verb.

For example:
Hoi valais ithi.
hoi val-ais ith-i
NEG run-FUT.IPFV 2s.VOC
lit. not will be running, you!
Don’t run!

Hoi also has some modal functions when not in the imperative (perhaps this will be a future post).


Mychai has a handful of “special” adverbs that must agree with the verb they modify in pretty much exactly this way. These are cin (cen, can, con, cun) “again, once more”; rem (rim, ram, rom, rum) “never, not once”; mim (mem, mam, mom, mum), which doesn’t translate to English, but marks that the action of the verb was not completed or was attempted but not completed to satisfaction. Something like “tried to”. (Now that I look at it, mam could also use its own entry!). The bolded versions are those that are used with the diphthongs as well as the conjugation they obviously go with. Thus cin is used with verbs ending in –i, –y and –au; not can, if the exact pattern from mar were carried over to cin.

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2 Responses to Wednesday’s Word – mar

  1. Wm Annis says:

    I’m very fond of mam. The Hopi variety of this is the particle as (IIRC). It’s a useful little word.

  2. Pingback: Wednesday’s Word – hoi | Mychai – a conlanger's blog

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