Difference between revisions of "Tovasala"

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Of the language's six tenses, only the Present is unmarked. The remainder are represented by prefixes ''nupé-'' (Recent Past), ''pé-'' (Simple Past), ''plé-'' (Discontinuous Past), ''fé-'' (Future), and ''péfé-'' (Future in the Past). The last ''é'' becomes ''er'' before vowels, as in ''pévéyim'' (I saw) and ''ferintadisim'' (we'll be inside).
 
Of the language's six tenses, only the Present is unmarked. The remainder are represented by prefixes ''nupé-'' (Recent Past), ''pé-'' (Simple Past), ''plé-'' (Discontinuous Past), ''fé-'' (Future), and ''péfé-'' (Future in the Past). The last ''é'' becomes ''er'' before vowels, as in ''pévéyim'' (I saw) and ''ferintadisim'' (we'll be inside).
   
Tovasala is {{wp|split ergativity|split-ergative}}--pronouns are {{wp|nominative-accusative}}, but regular nouns and numbers are {{wp|ergative-absolutive|absolutive-ergative}}: ''Judiya véyat <u>mio</u>'' (Judy sees <u>me</u>), ''Josefo peruslenat <u>té</u>'' (Joseph was served <u>by you</u>), ''Guispellés pémankat <u>Anyieba</u>'' (The biscuits were eaten <u>by Anne</u>), ''Fémouvvéyisim <u>trigiebe</u> kimonni'' (We will be visited <u>by three</u> kings). The standard constituent order, as in English, is Subject-verb-object (SVO); the traits of its conjugation system render it in many cases as Verb-object (VO).
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Tovasala is {{wp|split ergativity|split-ergative}}--pronouns are {{wp|nominative-accusative}}, but regular nouns and numbers are {{wp|ergative-absolutive|absolutive-ergative}}: ''Judiya véyat <u>mio</u>'' (Judy sees <u>me</u>), ''Josefo peruslenat <u>té</u>'' (Joseph was served <u>by you</u>), ''Guispellés pémankat <u>Anyieba</u>'' (The biscuits were eaten <u>by Anne</u>), ''Fémouvvéyisim <u>trigiebo</u> kimi'' (We will be visited <u>by three</u> kings). The standard constituent order, as in English, is Subject-verb-object (SVO); the traits of its conjugation system render it in many cases as Verb-object (VO).
   
 
Tovasala is a {{wp|zero copula}} language, except when ''sujar'' (to be [identified as]; used exclusively in encyclopedia/newspaper articles and news reports) is involved.
 
Tovasala is a {{wp|zero copula}} language, except when ''sujar'' (to be [identified as]; used exclusively in encyclopedia/newspaper articles and news reports) is involved.

Revision as of 20:54, 18 October 2020

Tovasala
A work by Reginald Routhwick
Type Constructed language and map project
Topics Language, Linguistics, Grammar, Morphology, Compounds, Agglutination, Grammatical case, Conjugation, Mapmaking, Worldbuilding
Setting(s) North Atlantic Ocean
In development since September 29, 2016

Tovasala, né Réformáti/Relformaiké/Relformaide and abbreviated as RFM,[1] is a constructed language created and developed by Reginald Routhwick. Although earlier incarnations were sketched in 2009 and 2014, it did not take off in its current form until September 2016, when it spun off from The Sevton Saga into its own separate project via the launch of a dedicated semantic wiki on the now-dormant Referata farm.

The name of the conlang is derived from tovassa (товасса), the Itelmen word for "ten". Tovasala is also the fictional North Atlantic realm where the eponymous language is spoken, and in-universe, the etymon is a reference to its ten administrative regions.

Development

On April 11, 2009, Routhwick began a "Draft for a New Language as Will Be Used in The Sevton Saga with these seven "Basics":

  1. The working name for this language is Réformáti, so named for its efforts to integrate characteristics of Europe's Romance languages into an English-like lexicon.
  2. The language primarily uses almost all letters in the Latin script, except q, which will be found in imported words.
  3. French and Spanish should influence it to an extent, along with their root language, Latin.
  4. All nouns in this new dialect will fall into three groups as in English: masculine, feminine and neuter.[2]
  5. In most cases, possession will be expressed as in Swedish.
  6. All verbs will have the same two last letters: -er.
  7. The language will be spoken as it is spelt, save possibly for the silent h.

The "Draft's" first page continued with terms for "Saying Hello..." "...and Goodbye"; an overview of numbers from one to a million (on, tou, tre, vor, sink, six, síet, oche, nine, des; vidri [20]; senti [100]; milli [1,000]; une millon [1,000,000]); a summary of the Réformati alphabet; and the sounds used therein.

Page 2 featured sections on Nouns; Occupations and Titles; Countries; Peculiarities; Articles (§ Definite and § Indefinite); and Verbs. In the last of these, the -er was now -ir; an example present-tense paradigm for komprendir (to understand) followed; and the only irregular verbs were esir (to be) and avir (to have).

Half of the third page dealt with the Past Tense, Future Tense, Imperative, Past Participle, Past Perfect Infinitive, Present Perfect Infinitive, Present Participle, and Subjunctive forms of verbs; conjugations of polir (to be able to), volir (to want), and bolir (to need); and a table summary listing the markers. The remainder was devoted to Pronouns, Conjunctions, Question Words, Adjectives, and Adverbs.

Page 4 featured the first (and only) full-fledged translations of proto-Tovasala: "Nótro Péro, ki est en Zíel..." (The Lord's Prayer), and "Parké Díus tal aimi la Terre..." (John 3:16). "Parké Díus" was added on the 19th, along with a brief note on Quotations that same day; one more section, dealing with Possessive Contractions, came on the 27th. Around that same time, Routhwick developed extended paradigms for the verbs, plus one for a bonus in kréir (to cry).

In later years at r/conlangs, Routhwick occasionally brought up this early version whenever the opportunity arose, brushing it off as a French + Spanish "relex" but all the same touting it as what the fictional realm's native speakers started out with. On its relation to the Sevton workflow, he wrote in January 2020: "Exactly for what purpose in the proceedings, I can't recall."

Another experiment with Réformáti (via an OpenOffice file) took place in late 2014, and showcased the conlang's first brush with agglutination. This attempt went no further than two pages.

Around the time of his 30th birthday, Routhwick made a list of potential root words for a potential revival. After two months, this gave way to the launch of the Relformaiké Dictionary on September 29, 2016, a semantic wiki hosted by Referata. With that, the conlang was officially divorced wholesale from Sevton and became its own project.

As summer 2017 approached, Routhwick felt that the -aiké part of the name was too artifical in appearance and sound. This led to the so-called "Great Suffix Swap", wherein -aik (the past participle marker) traded places with -aid (the conditional/subjunctive).[3] The resulting rebrand to Relformaide took effect that August.

By 2019, the Relformaide database contained information on over 3,200 morphemes sourced from over 320 languages, most of them in the Core Base class. (Several roots were also filed under Base or Special, depending on the circumstances.) From the beginning, Routhwick always intended to make RFM machine-readable à la Lojban.

That spring, however, a hacker caused havoc across Referata's network, tampering with the wiki farm's Site Settings, exploiting a heretofore undiscovered security leak, and harassing a user who reverted their vandalism the September prior. Routhwick, an administrator at Referata's home site, tried his best to help (as was founder Yaron Koren behind the scenes). Although the leak was patched and the hacker subsequently blocked, the damage was already done. The Relformaide Dictionary, and three other wikis Routhwick previously opened, were affected as well, and the network thereafter suffered from slow speeds in the fallout's wake. Before it was too late, he managed to back up almost every morpheme table up to that point (via the Export feature), along with the indispensable Grammar (via an external PDF conversion site). Over the next twelve months, he was all but nervous about heading back thanks to the incident, although he occasionally perused Koren's MediaWiki hub and the associated tweet feed of parent firm WikiWorks for any updates.

Around the same time as the hack, however, a listing on the New Pages feed of Wiktionary (a sister project to Wikipedia) gave Relformaide the inspiration for its new name: товасса (tovassa), a word in the Itelmen language meaning "ten". (Itelmen is a Kamchatkan language spoken in Siberian Russia.) Soon after the discovery, Routhwick announced the conlang's latest rebrand with an r/conlangs post on the fictional North Atlantic realm from which it hailed.

Starting in late May 2020 and continuing into June, the creator mustered up enough courage to head back to the Dictionary, undo the damage from last year's spree, and forge ahead with several dozen new roots and a few updates to its grammar. Referata, however, unexpectedly went offline at the end of June, causing his enthusiasm to wane again. Although Referata resurfaced in the clearnet a few more times afterward (until as late as August), Routhwick had already moved on with a slew of music-curation tasks related to the Adanson Jukebox from Unspooled.

The Referata scenario was one of several factors leading to the October 2020 launch of this ByetHost wiki, intended as a new home for Tovasala/RFM and Routhwick's other creative ventures. Several days after it opened, he made his first RFM-related comment since the outage, a reply to an r/conlangs thread asking about grammatical features that respondents later ditched. (Tovasala tried its best with classifiers the previous May, but opted for special rules for plural forms instead.)

Despite the "Dictionary" part of the site name, the morpheme tables vastly overtook the entries in quantity; none of the latter ever left the demo stage during the Referata days.

Project summary

As taken from rfm.referata.com, via Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (December 22, 2018)

Relformaide is a new constructed language created by Reginald Routhwick, inspired by the Romance language branch of Indo-European. Thanks to its flexible and agglutinative nature, it is capable of emulating various natural languages and producing thousands of words from hundreds of base roots.

Brief grammar

Tovasala is a "worldlang" initially inspired by the Romance branch of Indo-European, even sharing several hundreds of the same terms as its forebears. Words in Tovasala fall into ten word classes: articles, pronouns, nouns, numerals, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, adpositions, conjunctions, and interjections. In addition, there are three numbers (Singular, Dual, and Plural), four genders (Sentient, Nonsentient, Masculine, and Feminine), four persons represented by seven pronoun stems, and more than 80 adpositions and suffixes corresponding to various grammatical cases.

Tovasala has 26 suffixes placed at the end of words, referred to as "termisons" (fuindättimes). The noun termisons are -e (for inanimate and neuter subjects), -o (for males), and -a (for females). Adjectives end with -i; adverbs with -u; and some interjections with -(a)t. 20 termisons are reserved for verb conjugations, the most in any class. Adpositions, conjunctions, and the remaining interjections retain their bare forms.

Of the language's six tenses, only the Present is unmarked. The remainder are represented by prefixes nupé- (Recent Past), pé- (Simple Past), plé- (Discontinuous Past), fé- (Future), and péfé- (Future in the Past). The last é becomes er before vowels, as in pévéyim (I saw) and ferintadisim (we'll be inside).

Tovasala is split-ergative--pronouns are nominative-accusative, but regular nouns and numbers are absolutive-ergative: Judiya véyat mio (Judy sees me), Josefo peruslenat (Joseph was served by you), Guispellés pémankat Anyieba (The biscuits were eaten by Anne), Fémouvvéyisim trigiebo kimi (We will be visited by three kings). The standard constituent order, as in English, is Subject-verb-object (SVO); the traits of its conjugation system render it in many cases as Verb-object (VO).

Tovasala is a zero copula language, except when sujar (to be [identified as]; used exclusively in encyclopedia/newspaper articles and news reports) is involved.

Nation of Tovasala

A QGIS map of the eponymous nation of Tovasala was announced with the rebrand, and was hinted at a couple of times before then. According to Routhwick, it is ultimately a rework of Redvale/Valecko, an earlier paper-map project he briefly touched on under his real name in the early 2000s. (Redvale/Valecko even had its own language, Covesse, and was the larger northern neighbour to what was once named Hartford's Island and later became Cicaldia.) With competition from Routhwick's other projects (and Tovasala's own documentation) standing in the way, plans are on hold as of December 2021.

The fictional realm's language institute, Lingusonte, promotes the language as Tovasala Relformaidi to distinguish it from the much older, more analytic version.

Notes

  1. Pseudo-ISO 639 code chosen for the subdomain of its site's original Referata incarnation.
  2. As Routhwick later learned from research, English has no real grammatical gender except in pronouns.
  3. The old name now means "something that ought to reform" (rel-form-aik-e; again-form-sjv-n) in the current version of Tovasala.