Enaselvai: A Sketch of a Constructed Language

Enaselvai: A Sketch of a Constructed Language

Author: Jonathan Lipps

MS Date: 12-01-2008

FL Date: 08-01-2016

FL Number: FL-00003B-00

Citation: Lipps, Jonathan. 2008. «Enaselvai: A Sketch of a
Constructed Language.» FL-00003B-00, Fiat
Lingua, . Web. 01
August 2016.

Copyright: © 2008 Jonathan Lipps. This work is licensed

under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

Fiat Lingua is produced and maintained by the Language Creation Society (LCS). For more information
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Enaselvai: A Sketch of a Constructed Language1

Jonathan Lipps

1

Modified from a paper written in 2003 to support a project for a course on the history of the English
language at Stanford University, taught by Dr George H Brown.

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 1

Introduction to Constructed Languages

There are about 7,000 languages currently in use around the globe, though that

number has been rapidly shrinking due to onset of mass communication modalities and
the need for once-isolated groups to communicate readily. From a modern perspective,
this reduction is a good thing; since the days of Descartes and Leibniz, through to the
more recent introduction of Esperanto by Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof, there have been
those who dream of a universal language, accessible to and learned by all. The
‘miscommunication’ or confusion present when confronting the language barrier, on the
other hand, is seen negatively, since it stands in the way of commerce, or perhaps efficient
administration of a political state.

Some view this line of thought with skepticism or unease. If the oft-oppressive
steamrollers of global business or political homogenization pave the way to this linguistic
utopia, what will become of the rich heritages of those, less linguistically fortunate, whose
languages are slowly moved offstage, making way for an interminable monolangue?
Language and culture are inextricably intertwined, and the fervor with which some clamor
for a universal tongue may simply veil a desire for a universal culture.

At the same time, no one would suggest (outside of a handful of ardent Classicists,

maybe) that we artificially add languages back to the worldwide total. Languages can be
constructed; but to insist that their use be adopted simply to increase linguistic diversity is
absurd. Still, constructing a language is not therefore a laughable exercise. Linguistics
professors might find the practice a worthy vehicle for explaining concepts, or for testing
certain theories about ‘natural’ language. In actual fact, the field seems to be dominated
rather by hobbyists or authors, who dream up fantastical tongues for the science-fiction
realms which have sprouted, weed-like, in the wake of J.R.R. Tolkien’s linguistically
creative novels.

Enaselvai

The motivations are not yet exhausted: I place myself in still another category, one

that does not even attempt to relate a purpose for the development of a language.
Constructed languages can be mere play, a joyful excursion into that most human of
realms, but with a paintbrush rather than a magnifying glass. Here linguistic knowledge
and exactness are beneficial, as a wide variety of brush styles are to a painter, but by no
means necessary. Reflection on the workings of one’s mother tongue provides the
essential tools, however unlikely alone to produce a work of genius.

I fancy that when some artists look at a blank canvas sitting on the easel, the white

square expands to become, for a time, the complete reality in which the artist works.
Faced god-like with the moment of creation, there is an expectation and an exhilaration as
the first broad strokes are made. With language it is the same—the first word to be written
is the seed of another world, holding within it a thousand possibilities, each one in turn
being solidified as a grammatical rule is hypothesized, or a declension imagined. Then,
the first complete sentence forms fresh tracks in a silent, snowy landscape, where all is
pristine, unsullied as yet by the vagaries of use and the requirements of practical
communication. A language is formed, we can even say with artistic innocence, which

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 2

has not been used for power gains or to oppress the poor. Of course, it may be
completely useless for all that, or nigh unpronounceable—but it can still be beautiful.
That beauty, ultimately, was my only aim when beginning to work on the

constructed language Enaselvai, in 1999. And indeed, though I was then without, and still
lack, extensive formal training in linguistics, the first forays into that unformed philological
world were rapturous. They were, as one would expected, more rapturous than the
subsequent, smaller modifications and additions made as time went on: the tenth word to
be dreamed up was infinitely grander than the thousandth. Accordingly, the years have
passed with the only additions to the lexicon being made whenever inspiration struck. It
is time, however, to set forth some of the larger structures of the language, in an attempt to
define it in a basic linguistic fashion and make the art of it, though incomplete like
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, available.

What follows is my attempt to briefly sketch, as exactly as I can with the linguistic

knowledge I’ve accrued by accident over the years, the various facets of the Enaselvai
language. Subsequent to this examination, I will provide a tiny subset of the lexicon,
which has been used to form an example text in the language. This is the ‘Babel Text’
(from the biblical book of Genesis), which has come to be accepted as a standard, proof-
of-concept first translation for constructed languages by enthusiasts. Finally, I’ll say a few
words about the Enaselvai writing system, and show an example of its use. (I will not,
however, go into any detail there, because the writing system is for purely ornamental
purposes and therefore clumsy).
Now, to the language.

Enaselvai Phonology

Enaselvai has 21 basic sounds. They are as follows:

Vowels:

a – as in ‘father’
e – as in ‘bed’
i – as in ‘sit’
o – as in ‘open’
u – as in ‘true’

Consonants:

l – as in ‘melon’
s – as in ‘song’
r – un-rounded and flapped, as in Spanish ‘para’
d – voiced, with slight friction, like ‘th’ in ‘the’
w – aspirated, as in ‘where’
v – as in ‘very’
f – as in ‘father’
p – not aspirated, as in Spanish ‘para’
n – as in ‘no’
m – as in ‘melon’

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 3

c – always hard, as in ‘cut’
g – always hard, as in ‘go’
y – intervocalic, as in ‘you’
t – not aspirated, as in Spanish ‘tema’
th – unvoiced, as in ‘path’

The 21st sound is [h], which is never transcribed. All the vowels, it should be noted,

are short vowels, and should be pronounced as in Spanish.

With regards to phonotactics, the only prohibitions are *VVV and *CCCC. In
practice, CCC is extremely rare. Most words are simply …(V)CVCV(C)… It is also the
case that VV cannot occur, where V is the same vowel in both cases.

However, a word might begin with an initial V which is the same as the final V in
the preceding word. It is in this instance that the sound [h] is inserted in pronunciation,
much like the rule for pronouncing final t in French, to avoid a glottal stop.

Otherwise, VV occurs quite frequently, and in each case is to be pronounced as a

glide. Clusters beginning with i therefore sound like they begin with y, and those
beginning with u as though they begin with w.

Sometimes it is desirable to separate an occurrence of VV into two distinct syllables,

so that it is not a glide. In this case, the diaeresis (¨) mark is used. To separate a
diphthong beginning in a, e, or o, the mark is conventionally placed over the second
vowel, as in aë, eï, oä. For diphthongs beginning in i or u, the mark should fall on the first
vowel, for example ïo, üa.

The accentuation of Enaselvai words is simple. Enaselvai uses stress-based

accentuation, and the accent is always placed on the penultimate syllable of the root form
of a word (or the ultima, if the word is just one syllable). Knowing the root form is
important: if a word has a one-syllable suffix added, the accentuation is ‘persistent’, and
the accent is on the antepenult. For example, the word edicavei [help] is, with the accent
optionally specified, edicávei. On the other hand, edicaveima [help me] is pronounced
edicáveima. (But note that, as in classical Greek, the accent cannot be further away from
the end of the word than the antepenult).

Enaselvai Syntax

The greatest difficulty posed by Enaselvai syntax is the word order. Since Enaselvai

is an uninflected language, word order is of paramount importance. While English is
basically SVO (Subject-Verb-Object), Enaselvai is VSO (Verb-Subject-Object). Therefore,
in the sentence Silsi parto cim [The man made a ring], silsi [he made] is the verb, parto
[the man] is the subject, and cim [ring, a ring] is the object.

The VSO scheme describes the broad structure of a sentence. Of course, each part

can be complex. There might be both a direct and an indirect object, for example, in
which case the indirect object follows the direct object. Or, the subject might be a
compound phrase, such as parto statuvin tela [the man standing over there]. In each case,
the modifiers for a verb or noun will be as close as possible to the verb or noun. Thus:
Silsi parto statuvin tela cim [The man standing over there made a ring].

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 4

Adverbs precede the verbs they modify. So in the sentence, Celerat dramedi [She

runs quickly], the adverb celerat comes first.

Adjectives, similarly to Spanish, directly follow the nouns they modify. Example:

Silsi parto anon statuvin tela cim [The strong man standing over there made a ring].
Adjectives have some loose agreement rules, which will be discussed under the
Morphology section.

In English, prepositional phrases tend to come after the direct object of a sentence.
In Enaselvai, the reverse is true. Example: Gaedra serc thelasato espere [I kissed a girl by
the sea]. Here, serc thelasato [by the sea] precedes espere [a girl].

Enaselvai Morphology: Verbs

Verbs are the heart of Enaselvai, and their privileged status is only accented by their

position at the head of a sentence. There are two different verb conjugations (the First and
Second) in use, which I will detail here. A verb in either conjugation can be inflected
according to the dimensions of person, number, tense, voice, and mood. There are three
persons (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), two numbers (singular and plural), seven tenses (the Present,
Perfect, Imperfect, Simple Past, Pluperfect, Future, and Future Perfect), two voices (active
and passive), and three moods (indicative, subjunctive, and imperative). A verb can also
be in its infinitive form, which lacks the above distinctions.

Before I lay out the conjugation schemes, let us take a look at some useful

preliminary information.

The Personal Endings, which are used in both conjugations, are as follows:

Singular Plural

1st Person -a
2nd Person
3rd Person

-u
-i

-ae

-ue
-ie

Many features of Enaselvai verbs, some which go beyond the grammatical categories
listed above, are indicated via a verb prefix, which in writing is followed by an apostrophe
(‘). The verb prefixes are as follows:

Conditional protasis prefix – le’
Conditional apodosis prefix – lea’
Reflexive prefix – se’
Subjunctive prefix – te’
Perfect prefix – la’

At times, more than one prefix might need to be used simultaneously. In that case,

the above list gives the precedence of the prefixes. For example, Le’la’nuvie… [If they
have begun…].

Finally, we must mention two other particles: the Imperfect Modifier, which is an

infix, -an-, and the Passive Modifier, which is also an infix, -n-.

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 5

Now to the First Conjugation. The dictionary form of the verbs in this class always
ends in -v-r, -y-r, or -w-r, and is in fact the infinitive form. The entire verb without these
last three characters is called the stem. The first character after the stem (i.e., v, y, w) is
called the theme consonant. There are actually nine theme consonants—three for each
tense scheme (past, present, and future). Each of the seven tenses actually uses a verb
form from one of those three schemes. The following table gives the theme consonants for
each tense scheme:

Present
-y
-v
-w

Past
-m
-s
-l

Future
-f
-t
-r

So, a verb like vianwar [to educate, teach] has three ‘principal parts’ depending on the
tense scheme: vianwar, vianlar, vianrar. (So vianlar is the ‘2nd principal part’ of the verb
vianwar). Notice that the -a- after the theme consonant is unchanged. These forms are
used to conjugate the various tenses. Let us examine each in turn. I will use a variety of
verbs to illustrate the different theme consonant sets.

Present Tense (Present)
Active: stem + theme consonant + personal endings
Passive: 1st principal part + personal endings
Active

vianwar [to train] Singular
vianwa
1st Person
vianwu
2nd Person
3rd Person
vianwi

Plural
vianwae
vianwue
vianwie

Passive
Singular
vianwara
vianwaru
vianwari

Plural
vianwarae
vianwarue
vianwarie

Perfect Tense (Present)
Active: perfect prefix + stem + theme consonant + personal endings
Passive: perfect prefix + 1st principal part + personal endings

Active

morwer [to kill] Singular
la’morwa
1st Person
la’morwu
2nd Person
la’morwi
3rd Person

Plural
la’morwae
la’morwue
la’morwie

Passive
Singular
la’morwera
la’morweru
la’morweri

Plural
la’morwerae
la’morwerue
la’morwerie

Imperfect Tense (Past)
Active: stem + theme consonant + imperfect modifier + personal endings
Passive: 2nd principal part + imperfect modifier + personal endings

telwar [to shout]
1st Person

Active
Singular
tellana

Plural
tellanae

Passive
Singular
tellarana

Plural
tellaranae

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 6

2nd Person
3rd Person

tellanu
tellani

tellanue
tellanie

tellaranu
tellarani

teallaranue
tellaranie

Simple Past Tense (Past)
Active: stem + theme consonant + personal endings
Passive: 2nd principal part + personal endings

silver [to do]
1st Person
2nd Person
3rd Person

Active
Singular
silsa
silsu
silsi

Plural
silsae
silsue
silsie

Passive
Singular
silsera
silseru
silseri

Plural
silserae
silserue
silserie

Pluperfect Tense (Past)
Active: perfect prefix + stem + theme consonant + personal endings
Passive: perfect prefix + 2nd principal part + personal endings

divor [to eat]
1st Person
2nd Person
3rd Person

Active
Singular
la’disa
la’disu
la’disi

Plural
la’disae
la’disue
la’disie

Passive
Singular
la’disora
la’disoru
la’disori

Plural
la’disorae
la’disorue
la’disorie

Future Tense (Future)
Active: stem + theme consonant + personal endings
Passive: 3rd principal part + personal endings

vuyer [to see]
1st Person
2nd Person
3rd Person

Active
Singular
vufa
vufu
vufi

Plural
vufae
vufue
vufie

Passive
Singular
vufera
vuferu
vuferi

Plural
vuferae
vuferue
vuferie

Future Perfect Tense (Future)
Active: perfect prefix + stem + theme consonant + personal endings
Passive: perfect prefix + 3rd principal part + personal endings

Active

savor [to allow] Singular
1st Person
2nd Person
3rd Person

la’sata
la’satu
la’sati

Plural
la’satae
la’satue
la’satie

Passive
Singular
la’satora
la’satoru
la’satori

Plural
la’satorae
la’satorue
la’satorie

All of the First Conjugation verbs follow these rules without exception.
Now, on to the Second Conjugation. Like First Conjugation verbs, these have three

principal parts, and it is the 1st principal part which is the dictionary form of the verb.
This principal part, for Second Conjugation verbs, always ends in -d. The verb athed
[clean], however, is not the infinitive form. Thus, the principal parts of Second

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 7

Conjugation verbs are typically written like athed-, athedr-, athedl-, to show their
incompleteness. The infinitive form adds -um to the 1st principal part, thus athedum [to
clean].

The stem of a Second Conjugation verb is the 1st principal part without the final -d.

Then, for athed, we can see the schema for each of the three principal parts—the verb
ends in -d-, -dr-, -dl-, respectively. In this conjugation, there is just one set of these ‘theme
sounds’.

Finally, while the verb prefixes remain the same, the imperfect modifier becomes -n

for Second Conjugation verbs.

There should be no need for complete examples for each tense, but I will give the

schemas along with one example each:

Present Tense (Present)
Active: 1st principal part + personal endings. Example: saeda [I go]
Passive: stem + passive modifier + theme sound + personal endings. Example: nectandie
[They are owed]

Perfect Tense (Present)
Active: perfect prefix + 1st principal part + personal endings. Example: la’saeda [I had
gone]
Passive: perfect prefix + stem + passive modifier + theme sound + personal endings.
Example: la’nectandie [They had been owed]

Imperfect Tense (Past)
Active: 2nd principal part + imperfect modifier + personal endings. Example: saedrana [I
was going]
Passive: stem + passive modifier + theme sound + imperfect modifier + personal endings.
Example: mendrani [it was being used]

Simple Past Tense (Past)
Active: 2nd principal part + personal endings. Example: saedra [I went]
Passive: stem + passive modifier + theme sound + personal endings. Example: mendri [it
was used]

Past Perfect Tense (Past)
Active: perfect prefix + 2nd principal part + personal endings. Example: la’saedra [I had
gone]
Passive: perfect prefix + stem + passive modifier + theme sound + personal endings.
Example: la’mendri [it had been used]

Future Tense (Future)
Active: 2nd principal part + personal endings. Example: saedla [I will go]
Passive: stem + passive modifier + theme sound + personal endings. Example: mendli [it
will be used]

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 8

Future Perfect Tense (Future)
Active: perfect prefix + 3rd principal part + personal endings. Example: la’saedla [I will
have gone]
Passive: perfect prefix + stem + passive modifier + theme sound + personal endings.
Example: la’mendli [it will have been used]

All the examples given so far have been in the indicative mood. It is also possible to

form commands in Enaselvai, thus utilizing the imperative mood. Each of the
conjugations has a specific way of forming commands:

For second-person commands, both singular and plural, First Conjugation verbs

follow the pattern: stem + 1st principal part theme consonant + -ei. For example: Silvei!
[Do!]. The third person imperative (again both singular and plural) is -eo, as in Silveo! [Let
it/them be done!].

Second Conjugation verbs simply add -ei or -eo to the 1st principal part to form the

imperative. Thus: Athedei! [Clean!] and Athedeo! [Let it/them be cleaned!]

Note that the first person imperative, strictly speaking, does not exist in Enaselvai.
Instead, to make exhortations, the future tense is used. For example, Saedlae! [Let’s go!]

The subjunctive mood is indicated by the presence of the subjunctive prefix te’. Any
finite verb form can be made subjunctive in this way. The subjunctive’s use parallels that
in Spanish and other Romance languages, for instance in purposes clauses, with verbs of
wishing, hoping, etc… Example: Tumada celerat te’erivi [I hope he/she comes quickly].
Similarly, any finite verb may be made reflexive using the prefix se’. Reflexivity in

Enaselvai refers only to those cases where the subject and the direct object are the same.
Example: Se’morli [He killed himself].

The two conditional prefixes are used the form if…then clauses. The main verb in

the ‘if’ clause I call the protasis, and the main verb in the ‘then’ clause the apodosis. The
protasis takes the prefix le’, and the apodosis the prefix lea’. Thus the two halves are
distinguished morphologically. Example: Le’edicavuma lea’edicavamu [If you help me, I’ll
help you]. Notice that even the apodosis in this example is rendered in the present
tense—it is acceptable to use either the present or the future tense in Enaselvai, whereas
the same case in English requires the future tense.

Finally, we must mention infinitives. As in many Indo-European languages,

infinitives are used when verbs take other verbs as complements. Desilya saedum [I want
to go], for example, has saedum [to go] in the infinitive. Infinitives are also used when the
verb is treated as a noun, that is when it refers to the conceptual action of a verb.
Example: Vi morwer naivan [Killing is bad].

Enaselvai Morphology: Nouns

Nouns in Enaselvai are very simple. Nouns have no gender, and only two cases (the

‘definite’ and ‘indefinite’ cases). Of course, they retain the distinction between singular
and plural. Nouns may end in any vowel or consonant, but it is useful to note that nouns
derived from verbs typically end in a vowel.

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 9

The standard lexical form (the ‘dictionary form’) of a noun is considered to be
singular and indefinite. Plurality and definiteness are denoted by suffixes, which may be
combined. With just these two suffixes and their contraction, we can exhaust all the
possible inflections of Enaselvai nouns.

The plural suffix for nouns is -th. Thus the noun espere [woman] may be pluralized

as espereth [women]. If the noun ends in a consonant, the suffix is -ith. So par [man]
becomes parith [men].

The definite suffix is -to. The presence of -to is analogous to using the definite article

‘the’ in English. (Without it, a word is considered to be general, indefinite, or referring
only to one entity). Example: parto [the man] vs par [man, a man].

If a noun should be both plural and definite, the suffix is -sto (or -isto if the noun
ends in a consonant). This form is simply -thto modified for phonological reasons. Thus,
we can form the sentence: Erivie esperesto [The women are coming]. Remember, as a
remark on pronunciation, that adding any of these suffixes does not change the accented
syllable, so esperesto, with the accent shown, is espéresto—the accent has ‘persisted,’ and
falls on the antepenult.

Enaselvai Morphology: Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives in Enaselvai have very little morphological character. Most adjectives

derived from verbs end in -n, but there is no requirement that they do so. Adjectives, as
has already been mentioned, follow the nouns they modify directly, and must agree with
them in number. The dictionary form of an adjective is singular, and the plural suffix is
the same as for the nouns: -th / -ith. Example: esperesto vanith [the good women].

Adjectives do not have to agree with nouns in terms of definiteness.
Adverbs have no morphology to speak of. It should simply be noted that most

adverbs, due to their derivation, end in -t.

Enaselvai Morphology: Participles

Participles are verbal nouns or adjectives. They can be formed very usefully from
any finite verb. Since plurality will be indicated in the verb being modified via the person,
there is no need for the participle to take the plural suffix. If it is being used substantively,
however (as happens frequently in classical Greek), it should observe the rules for the
definite suffix.

Example 1: Macset respasie paristo thanodien [The dying men breathed deeply]. In
this example, thanodien is the (adjectival) participle, from the verb thanod- and the finite
form thanodie [they are dying]. Notice that the present tense has been used, as is the case
for all participle forms.

Example 2: Macset respasie thanodiento [The dying ones breathed deeply]. Here we

can see the participle acting as a noun, representing ‘the dying ones,’ and making use of
the definite suffix.

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 10

Other Grammatical Notes

Some other features of the language, which do not fall strictly into the above
linguistic categories, but are more important than bare vocabulary, are outlined briefly
here.

The Personal Pronouns: Enaselvai has 8 personal pronouns, and they correspond

very closely to their English equivalents (but Enaselvai does distinguish between 2nd
person singular and plural):

ma [I], mu [you (s)], mi [he], li [she], ni [it], mae [we], we [you (pl)], ye [they]

Note that, while not an inflected language with regards to a grammatical gender, the

personal pronouns do allow specification of the gender of animate subjects.

Pronouns and the Direct Object: When pronouns are used as direct objects, they

can be appended to the verb that governs them. So, instead of writing Edicavei ma [Help
me], we write Edicaveima [Help me].

Possession: Possession is indicated by the use of the preposition em (of, or belonging
to a person or agent). ‘Of’ in general is translated, not by em but by en. Em, therefore, is
used for personal possession. If used with the personal pronouns, it is usually conjoined
(and in most cases contracted):

ema [my], emu [your], emi [his], emli [her], emni [its]
emae [our], emwe [your (pl)], emye [their]

This compound can even be treated as a suffix. For example, cir em ma [my ring]

can be written simply as cirema [my ring].

Affirmation and Denial: To respond affirmatively to a statement or a question, use ei

[yes]. The opposite is nai [no]. It’s important to note that ei [yes] is used when the
statement was correct, even if it was negative. So a question like “Didn’t you go to the
store today?” would receive the response ei [yes] if I did not go to the store.

Numbers: Numbers are formed by stringing together numerals in base ten, joined

with -e-. Thus, in munedaremonetir [4,247], mun is 4000, dar is 200, mon is 400, and tir
is 7. (The rest of the basic numbers can be found in the dictionary.) Ordinalization is
simple—just add -es. So cir [one] becomes cires [first].

Conversivity: Verbs can be made conversive (i.e., the action mutually affects or
benefits the subjects) by adding the suffix -se. Example: Edicasie [they helped] becomes
Edicasiese [they helped one another].

Let that suffice, therefore, for a brief introduction to Enaselvai grammar.

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 11

Babel Text Lexicon

Here, in order to give a sample of the Enaselvai lexicon, is a list of all the 65 words

that will be used in the Babel Text translation in the next section:

to plan

ad
alen
alten
apo
arneriver
arnsaed
asilan
aud
cam
camnulayur
cele
cena
cir
comuve
comuver
conad
descavor
disemed
duel
eän
eära
ec
eco
ele
em
en
ethnun
felon
ilaevar
incelu
lad
lairevar
lamved
las
ler
lige
los
med
na
nuver
oltoyen
orthan
panet
par
rei
reservor
roan

for (ad is a special particle denoting self-advantage)
all, whole
high, tall
then
to descend
to go down, descend
east
to stop
upon, on, across
to confuse
stone
which
one
word, speech
to speak

to discover
to scatter
city
with
world
now (introductory particle, not in the temporal sense)
but
this
of (possessive)
in, of
race, people
instead of
to understand
together, in common
to say
to burn, bake
to call, name
therefore
in order to, so that
glue
because
to use
and
to begin
impossible
sticky stuff (tar)
completely, thoroughly
man
by
to move
plain

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 12

secai
seled
selendrin
silver
simil
staver
taroc
tela
telyer
teron
tuwor
unaï
unaïlon
vanor
ver
vuyer
weth
ye

star
to build
tower, building
to do, make
like, same
to live, dwell
brick
there, in that place
to have
language, tongue
to know
no, not
nothing
god
to be
to see
as, as though
they

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 13

Translation: The Babel Text

The familiar Babel Text, found in Genesis 11:1-9, is a rich yet curious story of
humanity’s attempt to perform a marvelous feat of engineering. God, apparently, is not
happy with their progress and decides to humble them. It is very telling, given my
comments earlier, that humanity’s ‘secret weapon’ in the story is a universal language of
the kind I described in the introduction to this paper. What statement the story is making
about universal language is of course impossible to determine exactly, but at the least, the
theme shows the appropriateness of this text for translation into a constructed language
like Enaselvai.

Below is the translated text, verse by verse. With the aid of the lexicon fragment in
the previous section, translation back into English should be straightforward. I have put
the uninflected forms of verbs in brackets for clarification, and included the entire verse in
English as well. The translation, incidentally, was done, given my own familiarity with
Greek rather than Hebrew, from the Septuagint.

1. Ec telsi eärato alen teron cir na comuve incelu. [Now, the whole world

had one language and a common speech.]

2. Descasie [descavor] parith reservien [reservor] asilan roan en Sainar na

stasie [staver] tela. [As men moved eastward, they found a plain in
Shinar and settled there.]

3. Ladriese [lad], “Siltae [silver] tarocith na panet lairetaeye [lairevar].”
Medrie [med] tarocith felon celeth, na medrie orthanith weth lige.
[They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them
thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.]

4. Apo ladrie [lad], “Seledlae [seled] ad duel eän selendrin vin [ver] alten

simil secaisto, ler te’turorae [tuwor] na unaï te’disemendlae [disemed]
cam eärato alen.” [Then they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a
city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a
name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole
earth.”]

5. Eco arnerisi [arneriver] vuyer Vanor duelto na selendrinto alten cena

selendrani [seled] rei paristo. [But God came down to see the city and
the tower that the men were building.]

6. Ladri [lad] Vanor, “Le’la’nuvie [nuver] silver weth ethnun cir comuvin
[comuver] teronto simil ele, lea’ti [ver] unaïlon cena te’conandi
[conad] silver rei ye oltoyen. [God said, “If as one people speaking the
same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do
will be impossible for them.]

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 14

7. Arnsaedlae [arnsaed] na camnulafae [camnulayur] teronto emye ler unaï
te’ilaeviese [ilaevar].” [Come, let us go down and confuse their
language so they will not understand each other.”]

8. Apo disemedriye [disemed] Vanor est tela cam eärato alen, na audie
[aud] seled duelto. [So God scattered them from there over all the
earth, and they stopped building the city.]

9. Las lamvendri [lamved] Vavel los camnulami [camnulayur] Vanor tela
teronisto em ethnunith alenith. Disemedriye [disemed] est tela cam
eärato alen. [That is why it was called Babel—because there God
confused the language of the whole world. From there God scattered
them over the face of the whole earth.]

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 15

The Writing System

Enaselvai, while it can, and normally does, use the Latin alphabet, has an

ornamental or ‘formal’ script of its own. There is little reason to detail the working of the
script here, but I will reproduce the Babel Text in that script without explanation, just to
give some idea of it:

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 16

Conclusion

We have now looked at almost all of the prominent features of the Enaselvai
language, as it currently stands. Only a fraction of the total vocabulary was given (there

Jonathan Lipps: Enaselvai – 17

are currently about 1,000 words). Many of the words, as should be apparent from the
examples, have some obvious derivation or other, from the (primarily Indo-European)
languages I’ve studied. Having ‘grown up’, linguistically speaking, in that tradition, I
suppose it is only natural that my ‘basic’ linguistic forms for words—those forms I have
tried to capture aesthetically via Enaselvai—sound very Indo-European themselves. Greek
and Latin influences are just the most apparent, no doubt due to the ‘elevated’
connotation those roots have for many Anglophones.

At the end of the day, Enaselvai will probably never have a single speaker. When it

comes to creating words for every-day use, and ensuring that the language be actually
speakable, motivation is certainly lacking. While I value linguistic precision to the extent I
can, given what I know of the science, that precision, for me, only serves to make the art
more artful—not more useful.

I do not expect that this paper will generate interest in learning or speaking

Enaselvai. Rather, I hope that the description given here will inspire thinking about
philology in general, about the limitless potential of words, and about how the language
faculty truly is a marvelous and indispensable part of our existence. Finally, I hope that it
will add to the evidence that play is possible in language, not just with words and phrases,
but with the large linguistic structures themselves. This recreation gives rise to the
realization that language, in a real sense, is not just humanity’s greatest and most
innovative tool, but also, as can be seen in the glorious details of all the world’s languages
(natural or otherwise), one of our most lasting forms of art.Enaselvai: A Sketch of a Constructed Language image
Enaselvai: A Sketch of a Constructed Language image

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