> Date:    Sat, 18 Nov 2000 15:58:43 +0100
> From:    "Tommaso R. Donnarumma" <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Ishtalo grammar sketch

> Hello!

> Here's a quick and dirty grammar sketch of my brand new
> language Ishtalo.  I've been cuddling bits and fragments of
> this language (silly me!) since the day I watched to (or
> should I say listened to) _Dances with wolves_ (the movie
> with Kevin Kostner;  the Italian title was like this, but
> Italian translations of movie titles are often far away
> from the original).

It was "Dances with Wolves" in English too. Funny thing though, in the
book the native Americans were Comanches, but in the film they all
spoke Lakota (plains Sioux) - wakan tanka!.
From my store of useless information I can tell you that the Lakota called
the Comanche "Sinteh'la Wicas'a" or Rattlesnakes. As far as I know Comanche
and Lakota belong to completely different language families, and as
someone has already said, they might have no more in common than say
English and Basque!

> I'm no expert of Indian languages, so I didn't attempt to
> recreate one, although a few features of Ishtalo are inspired
> by actual Indian languages (the inversive voice, for example;
> or the interaction between quality predicates and argument
> marking, a trait I took from Chickasaw, together with the
> word _chokma,_ "good").  Perhaps someone among you will be
> able to tell me if Ishtalo happens to resemble an Indian
> language nonetheless...

I don't know about Indian languages, but the way your articles are
developing, they look very much like Bantu noun class prefixes, which
are added to verbs, adjectives etc. in agreement.

The "definitives" in Saprutum are similar, but not as Bantu-like as
your articles. see :

I'm still writing this up, so forgive me if I don't comment on your sketch
in detail for a while, I want to finish writing up my grammar before I
lose the "feel" of it.

>  /ch/ and /sh/ are prepalatal
> (I know no ASCII-IPA for them);

[tS] and [S] where "S" is standing in for a "long-s"

> [6] nechokma n'oka
>     ne    =chokma ne    =oka
>     3D.F.S=good   3D.F.S=young.person
>     "The girl is good" or "The good girl"

When the verb comes first in the sentence, then natlangs tend to have
the adjective and genitive follow the noun. You could then distinguish
   nechokma n'oka - the girl is good
   n'oka nechokma - the good girl

In Saprutum the word forms are different too, stative verb -XYuZ-,
adjective -XaYiZ- (from abstract noun XaYZ-), so from the root TWB
(to be a good person) you get : tawbum - goodness; tawibum - good (adj.)
and letwubi - to be good. The sentences are then :
   wetwubu webnatum
   we       twub       u       we  bn    at   um
   3.human to be good present  3.h child fem. subject
   The girl is being good

   we  bnat u    tawib um
   3.h girl nom. good  nom.
   The good-girl

A bit more emphatic would be "webnatu wetawibum" lit. 'the girl the good
one' which is almost as ambiguous as your sentence, because if the
two parts are fully stressed and put in the accusative in apposition to
one another, that is :
    webnatam wetawibam
this then means "the girl is good" or "is the good one" i.e. good by nature
in contrast to "wetwubu webnatum" above, which only means that she's being
good *now*.

Anyway, that will have to do for now.


> Failflyr,

> Tommaso.