Fenekere is the first constructed language that we created. It was designed to be a mythological linguistic root for all languages for the purposes of our fiction. It is a language of the gods, so to speak. It is a very unflexible language, with a fixed vocabulary that cannot easily be expanded to accommodate new concepts and things. However, it also has an absolutely enormous vocabulary of 923,521 root words.
In our fictional mythology, when Eh gave birth to all of their children, the Ktletaccete, and created the Earth out of their own body for their children to live on, each of Eh's children had an Art that they were the master of. One of the Ktletaccete was the Linguist, and one of the first things they did was to create a language for their siblings to speak to communicate with each other. They named this language Fenekere.
What the Linguist did was to give each of their siblings a unique name that consisted of four syllables, and that name would function as a root word in Fenekere. They gave Fenekere 31 consonents in order to accommodate the population of the Ktletaccete, which as 900,000. This created 923,521 root words, so the extra root words were assigned to the linguistic structures of Fenekere itself, a set of pronouns, and names for the natural laws and elements. Each root word functions as if it mean, "the Artist of performing this Art".
Until the Ktletaccete encountered other cultures, Fenekere served their purposes wonderfully, and many works of fiction and history were written using it. However, upon the tearing of the Hole in the Sky and the arrival of Outsiders, Fenekere proved insufficient to communicate with other peoples, and it was used in the construction of a pidgin and then a creole with the dominant language of the Outsiders, Mäofrräo.
Root words in Fenekere consist of four consonantal phonemes and four vowels, making four syllables, with this structure: CvCvCvCv. The romanization appears to have consonantal clusters, such as CC and CCC, but in the original orthography these are represented by single characters. The default vowel, denoting the root meaning, for all four syllables is <e>. This renders the word to be a proper noun referring to an individual who performs a particular art or skill, an emotion, an element, a part of speech, or certain body parts that are considered elemental in nature.
All other primary words in Fenekere are derived from these roots by altering the vowel structure. As each syllable can contain one of five vowels, a table of these modifications looks like this:
As you make sense of this and read the following grammar, it is important to remember that nearly any combination of words and word particles is considered to be a legitimate sentence. But minor differences in placement of prefixes or vowels chosen for derived words can sometimes make enormous or very subtle changes in meaning. A listener may well be able to puzzle out what you mean, even if you get something slightly off, but until you get a feel for the subtle details it is always good and acceptable to double check.
To accommodate a broader range of grammar structures and alter the purpose of a sentence, Fenekere has some auxiliary words. Most of them can stand alone in the sentence or clause and provide logical meaning to the whole structure. Many of them often serve time as prefixes as well, lending their meaning to the word that they are attached to (though this meaning alters in some ways, depending on which word they modify).
The three most important particles are 'uu, 'ii and 'oo.
'uu is the command or imperative particle. Placing it within a sentence transforms that sentence into an imperative or command. Depending on the structure of the sentence, this could translate into English as “May this happen...” or “You should do...” or in some other similar fashion. Note that it is entirely possible to create an past tense imperative sentence, though it is more common to use the pluperfect form of the verb in this case.
'ii is the interrogative particle. Placing it within a sentence turns that sentence into a question. If there are one or more pronouns within the sentence, the dominant pronoun becomes the focus of the interrogative voice. “This” or “that” becomes “what”, “they” becomes “who”, “here” becomes “where”, all without altering the morphology of that pronoun. It's meaning changes without it's structure changing (the particle takes care of that). The hierarchy of pronoun placement is as follows:
verb > subject > object > adverb > adjective of subject > adjective of object > adjective of adverb > adjective of adjective > object of adverb > verb of adverb > object of recursive verb.
Other ways of designating which pronoun is the subject of the question, that override this hierarchy, include stress or emphasis when speaking, underlining the word in written form, placing the pronoun at the beginning or end of the sentence, or placing the pronoun directly after the interrogative particle.
But, the most conventional method is to simply craft the sentence so that the pronoun of question is the soul noun in the subject clause. Most speakers and writers unconsciously employ two or more of these techniques.
'oo is the speculative particle. Placing this in a sentence is similar to adding “perhaps” to an English sentence. It means that the speaker is uncertain about the truth of the sentence. These particles can be mixed, with more than one per sentence. The hierarchy of the particles is as follows: speculative>imperative>interrogative. Meaning that if you included all three in a sentence, it would be similar to asking the English question, “Maybe you should do this?” Including just the imperative and interrogative particles, renders a question like, “Should you do this?” Etc.
Almost all of Fenekere's prefixes can work as stand alone particles. The way that they behave as such, however, varies from prefix to prefix. Most of the time, however, they are attached to a word and modify that word's relation to the rest of the sentence. These serve a whole variety of purposes.
For instance, in Fenekere, each verb has an implied preposition embedded within it that takes effect when an object is placed with the verb (they also have implied objects, if no object is provided). Some of these prefixes alter that prepositional meaning. And they may do so in different ways depending on if they are attached to the verb, the object, the subject, an adjective, or an adverb. A detailed description of how this works is provided below under the heading “Tricks with Prefixes: Prepositions, Moods, Voices and Aspects”.
Another way in which these prefixes alter words is by describing their relationship to other words of their position. If you have two objects, and you put the prefix for “greater” in front of one of them, then it describes that object as being larger than the other one. Finally, some prefixes will denote number, possession, or some other adjectival property applied to the word.
The way that each prefix interacts with the rest of a sentence is slightly unique to that prefix and is described in its definition.
The numbers in Fenekere are based on the alphabet, which makes the system base 31. The consonants count from zero to 30, and the vowels are used to mark decimal placement. This covers whole numbers only, and has an upward limit of over 2 million, but with a definite upward limit. "e" represents the “ones” digit. "a" represents the 31s digit, and so on. To signify that a character is a number it is written backwards, or with the vowel first in the romanization, like so, "ef", meaning “one”.
To use a number in a sentence, however, it must be given some grammatical markers. In this way it is turned into a particle. This works similarly to the auxiliary words above, but with some slight differences. The typical method is to attach two syllables to the end of the number, each starting with a " ' " or glottal stop. The first appended syllable tells the part of speech that the number falls into. This is usually a "u", meaning it is an adjective or adverb. The second appended syllable tells the part of speech that it is modifying, like the third syllable does in a root word. So, to say that there is one of something, or that something happens once, you'd render it thusly:
ef'u'o or ef'u'a
If you want to say that something happens first, you would turn it into a prefix, like so:
(insert numerical chart here)
Fenekere root words are all proper nouns. From those proper nouns, a whole slew of other kinds of nouns can be derived. This effectively works the same way with every root word, regardless of the nature of its original meaning.
To identify any given word as a noun, the second syllable must contain an "e", an "a", or an "i". Given that, any of the other syllables may contain any combination of the other vowels, and this entire combination describes exactly what the noun means and where it falls into a sentence.
As described in the “Root Words” section above, the first syllable acts as sort of an article for the noun, telling whether it is definite, indefinite, or a variation of an idea or concept held by one or more people.
The third syllable defines which subclause the noun belongs to, whether it is the subject of the sentence, or the object of a verb of one of the subclauses.
The fourth syllable defines the relation of that noun to the meaning of the root word. The root word is generally considered to be an agent capable of performing a verb.
If a noun ends with an "e", it is an example of that agent.
If a noun ends with an "a", it is an example of the verb, a noun describing an action.
If a noun ends with an "i", it is an agent, but one that is an imitation of the root, such as an unskilled artist, an imposter, or something that just happens to be performing the verb but otherwise has another purpose.
If a noun ends with an "o", it refers to the product of the verb, such as a poem which is produced by the poet.
If a noun ends with a "u", it refers to the effect of the product of the verb, an effect once removed, such as the reactions of an audience upon reading or hearing a poem.
A novel example of the kind of noun you can create from a root might be “funimaru”, from the root “fenemere” meaning “the Poet”. Referring to the derivatives chart above, you can see that it means something like, “the commonly held stereotype of an audience's reaction to a poem” and it falls into the object position of a sentence.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and adverbs in Fenekere all have a "u" in the second syllable. Otherwise, they work quite a bit like nouns. To work out the meaning of an adjective or adverb, figure out it's meaning as if it were a noun, and then apply the phrase “of or like” to the beginning of that. So, “funumaru” would be saying that the object of the sentence is “of or like the commonly held stereotype of an audience's reaction to a poem.”
You can tell the difference between an adjective and an adverb by the third syllable, which tells you which word it modifies. If it is an "e" or an "a", it modifies one of the nouns, and is therefore an adjective. If it is an "o", it modifies the primary verb. If it is an "i" it modifies the primary adverb.
And if it is a "u", it modifies the subject's adjective. All of these are technically considered adverbs. However, whether a word is an adverb or an adjective does not have bearing on its definition, only the word which it modifies.
The tricky aspect of Fenekere adjectives and adverbs is that they can either mean there is a similarity to the noun from which its derived, or it can be a possessive form of that noun. Normally, this is implied by a combination of the context of the sentence and the particular derivation of the noun. For example, “fenumere” would almost always be interpreted to mean “belonging to the poet” while “fenumera” would almost always be interpreted to mean “like or in the manner of composing a poem,” unless it's obvious from context that either word should be interpreted otherwise.
However, there are prefixes that can be used to clear this up when necessary. For instance, “firuu-” is the prefix for possession. It behaves differently when attached to a noun or a verb, but when attached to an adjective or adverb, it turns that adjective or adverb into an undeniable possessive noun. If attached to the primary adverb, this means that the verb is performed in the same exact method as the new possessive noun normally performs it, i.e. “in the way of -”.
Fenekere verbs can be identified by an <o> in the second syllable, and they can fall into five different locations in a sentence as defined by the third syllable. Furthermore, each verb position can contain more than one verb, making it possible for an acting agent to perform more than one action. To compound this, the verbs do not have to share the same tense, though they will tend to share the same voice due to the context of the sentence's syntax.
There are five tenses in Fenekere, governed by the five vowels like most everything else is, this time as placed in the last syllable. These tenses include: future, present future anterior, past, and pluperfect. Future anterior can be approximated in English with the phrase “will have been”. Pluperfect can be approximated with “has been”.
Because this last syllable is usually what tells us the relation a word has to the root, this means that verbs do not have this aspect. Instead, the verb is always assumed to be an act as defined by what the root word is capable of doing. “Fenemere” is “the Poet”, or “the Artist of Making Poetry”, therefore, the verb form “fenomere” means “to make poetry.”
Almost all Fenekere verbs contain within their meanings an implied object and an implied prepositional meaning. This can usually be worked out by understanding the meaning of the root word in combination with the context of the sentence. “The Artist of Making Poetry” will, when performing his verb, create “poetry”. And if an object is provided explicitly in the sentence, the nature of that object will suggest a prepositional relationship. If it's a person, then it can probably be assumed that the poem was made “for” that person. If it's a language, then it can probably be assumed that the poem was written “in” that language. And if it's a medium, it can probably be assumed that the poem was written “in” that medium. Prefixes applied to either the object or verb can be used to clarify this, or even explicitly use a different preposition altogether, such as “about” or “above”.
Transitive v.s. Intransitive
The flexibility of Fenekere verbs, with an optional implied object, means that any verb can be either transitive or intransitive. The interpretation of the verb relies entirely upon whether or not an explicit object is supplied in the sentence. And, regardless of word order, an object can always be identified by the vowel in its third syllable. Likewise, the subject.
If there are multiple verbs and one or more objects, all of the verbs are considered transitive and active upon the whole collection of objects. This is true even if the verbs do not share the same tense.
Passive voice, in Fenekere, is achieved by simply leaving out the subject. In fact, you can have a full sentence simply by using one verb alone. For example, a sentence consisting of just the word “fenokero” would mean “poetry was composed”.
The exception to this is if the imperative particle 'uu is used. Then the sentence becomes a command, with an implied second person.
There are five possible complete subclauses in any given Fenekere sentence. These can be added to by using specific prefixes, but this gets clumsy and is usually avoided.
These five main subclauses revolve around the five verb positions, but are named after their respective subjects. There's the subclause of the subject, the subclause of the verb, the subclause of the adjective, the subclause of the adverb, and the subclause of the object. In each of these cases, the named word position acts as a subject of a clause that mimics the adjective-subject-verb-object structure of the main subclause of the subject. This can be visualized in the form of a word web.
Also worth noting is that connecting words do not need to be present to create a logical sentence. For instance, if you have the adjective of the object you don't actually need the object. This is particularly useful in a copula such as “fe bedodeha neku'ate” which means “I am happy”. It also means that some pretty strange sentences can be created, but the practice is to work out what that sentence most likely means rather than to declare that the sentence is gibberish.
Regarding the limited number of clauses that a sentence can contain, a complex recursive logic is
usually constructed by stringing together multiple sentences and linking them through a common pronoun referring to the subject or object of a focal sentence. When speaking, this can be further indicated by simple emphasis and stress. In written form, there are some punctuation that can aid in this as well. This is covered in detail below, in the section titled “Recursive Structure”.
Fenekere prefixes can be attached to any word. Also, there is no official upper limit to the number of prefixes that can be attached to a word, though in practice it is usually just one or two. This creates some subtleties of logic that can be manipulated by just how the prefixes are appended. The order in which prefixes are appended to a word, as well as just which word they are appended to can change how they effect the entire sentence. In this way, the meanings of specific words can be manipulated, prepositional phrases constructed, or moods, voices and aspects can be altered. This is similar to the way that English uses word order and auxiliary words to do the same kind of thing, except that the prefixes are typically attached to a word rather than placed alone in a sentence.