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Notes on Orth

This document represents my current understanding of Orth, along with some sample sentence constructions.


Phonemics, Pronunciation, and Orthography in Transliteration

"kh" is a voiced glottal fricative, as in "Bach"

"e" is a long "A" sound, as in "bay"

"r" is palatalized and retroflex, sometimes including an alveolar trill

"shr" is a palatal fricative, as in the Mandarin 是.


From the standpoint of Earth languages, Orth has a very standard phonology and an unusual but not entirely unprecedented grammar. It seems that Orth does not have many of our standard parts of speech per se, but that via its declension system, almost every morpheme may fulfill roles that Earth linguists would ascribe to nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and even prepositions. There are no articles in Orth, and there is no copula. There are several particles, used to indicate anchor points and case relationships for relative clauses.

In Orth, words may be inflected into any of the following grammatical cases, depending on the role the word is playing within a sentence:

Name Usage
Agentive Indicates an agent or cause
Effective Indicates an effect
Accusative Indicates an object on which an effect is produced
Instrumental Indicates means by which an agent produces an effect
Genitive Indicates posession

You will note that the Agentive, Accusative, Instrumental, and Genitive cases have certain similarities to Nominal, Accusative, Dative, and Genitive in some Earth languages—notably Latin. This similarity is most apt with respect to the Accusative and Genitive cases. There are subtleties with respect to Agentive and Instrumental which make them not entirely a match with their Latin counterparts, and these are addressed below.

The simplest Orth sentences consist of single words, which may be in any grammatical case. No single part of the Orth sentence is compulsory—anything which may be understood from context may be omitted. Within a simple sentence, word order is determined solely by the desired emphasis which the speaker/writer wishes to give. Emphasized words occur first in a sentence.


Recursion is accomplished without the use of separate relative pronouns, by a special set of case markers. These case markers distinguish between levels of the sentence. This is an unusual construction from the standpoint of Earth languages, so I will illustrate with an example using English vocabulary:

The boy who played games hurt his wrist.

This utterance is a combination of two separate sentences: "The boy played games" and "The boy hurt his wrist." In English, and other Earth languages, we use relative pronouns to indicate that it is the same boy.

In Orth, we compose the final utterance by constructing the two subsidiary sentences separately. In the main clause ("the boy hurt his wrist") we use the standard declension markers, referred to when necessary as Agentive-0, Accusative-0, and so on. In the subordinate clause ("the boy (who) played games"), we use the secondary declension markers, referred to as Agentive-1, etc. The grammatical role of the subordinate clause in the entire utterance is determined by a case-specific particle, which is omitted when the agentive clause in the subordinate clause is anchored to the agentive clause in the main clause—as it is in this example. This means that the word in the agentive role in the subordinate clause is the anchor word with respect to the entire sentence, and that the subordinate clause itself takes on the agentive role in the entire sentence). Even though it is not strictly required by the grammar, it is common for words in the same relative clause to be grouped together in a sentence.

In the case of sentences with more than two clauses, tertiary declension markers may be used. In sentences with more than three clauses, multiple groupings of either the secondary or tertiary declension markers may be used. In these cases, it is usually ungrammatical for words in each of the relative clauses to be discontiguous within a sentence.

Orth Declensions

Orth has three known declensions at this time. In addition to this, the personal pronouns are declinable but completely irregular.

First Declension

First declension words are the oldest in Orth. They always end in "e" in the agentive case and are usually accented on the final syllable in that case. The most ancient proper names and most agricultural vocabulary are in the first declension.

First declension words are declined based on word stem. To find the stem, remove the final "e".

For vocabulary, see the vocabulary list.

Declining in the First Declension

Agentive stem + "e" (default given form)
Effective stem + "oda"
Accusative stem + "ib
Instrumental stem + "ox"
Genitive stem + "skon"
Agentive stem + "pa-e"
Effective stem + "pamoda"
Accusative stem + "paib
Instrumental stem + "paox"
Genitive stem + "paton"
Agentive stem + "pe-e"
Effective stem + "pakhoda"
Accusative stem + "peab
Instrumental stem + "lo-ax"
Genitive stem + "ske-on"

Second Declension

Second declension words contain much of the scientific and religious vocabulary in Orth. They always end in one of the consonants {k, kh, b, p, f, v, t, d, r} in agentive case, which is the sole principal part. They are usually accented on the next-to-last syllable in agentive case. Neologisms in the area of technology are usually created in the second declension.

The stems of second declension words are used for declining them. To find the stem, remove the final consonant and the preceding vowel. Note that this may split up dipthongs, as in the case of "yaep" (God) where the stem is "ya" and not "y".

For vocabulary, see the vocabulary list.

Declining in the Second Declension

Agentive (original form)
Effective (original form minus final consonant)
Accusative stem + "ib
Instrumental stem + "okh"
Genitive stem + "skon"
Agentive (original form) + "yao"
Effective stem + "okhek"
Accusative stem + "paib
Instrumental stem + "omez"
Genitive stem + "leon"
Agentive (original form) + "peyao"
Effective stem + "pekhak"
Accusative stem + "baib
Instrumental stem + "zul"
Genitive stem + "xan"

Third Declension

The third declension contains most of the vocabulary borrowed from other languages on Arbre. They may have any ending, including those shared by first or second declension words. Most irregular words in Orth belong to the third declension. The SH and ZH phonemes appear only in third declension words.

Third declension words have two principal parts. One is the agentive form, the second is the stem. The stem usually consists of the initial portion of the agentive form, and is used for most declensions, but in many cases the stem is the full term itself.

For vocabulary, see the vocabulary list.

Declining in the Third Declension

Agentive (default given form)
Effective stem + "kan"
Accusative stem + "chak"
Instrumental stem + "wo"
Genitive stem + "ong"
Agentive (default given form) + "che"
Effective stem + "likan"
Accusative stem + "lidak"
Instrumental stem + "pewo"
Genitive stem + "song"
Agentive (default given form) + "khema"
Effective stem + "likhan"
Accusative stem + "khidak"
Instrumental stem + "khiwo"
Genitive stem + "ZHong"

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns exist in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person forms, as in many Earth languages, but there are singular/dual/plural forms, and the first person has "exclusive/inclusive" forms. That is, the following are all different words:

  • I
  • You and I
  • Someone else (not you) and I
  • You and some other people and I
  • Some other people (not including you) and I
  • You (single person)
  • You and someone else
  • You and two or more other people
  • He/she (single person)
  • They (two people)
  • They (more than two people)

Note that the personal pronouns are NOT marked with sentence level for relative pronouns! This may cause some ambiguities.

Number Agentive Effective Accusative Instrumental Genitive
1st, singluar be bon bena bina kheb
1st, dual inclusive chaa chia chula hodo todo
1st, dual exclusive cha ZHan ZHoru ZHechla ZHe
1st, plural inclusive sam samib sima osime nana
1st, plural exclusive ela eva elo elana ili
2nd, singular dul don duna dina adina
2nd, dual osha oshe mora ima kae
2nd, plural osh osho more ime ka
3rd, singular ulu ulon una uve ivo
3rd, dual ulule nulon nuna nuve nuvo
3rd, plural dulule mulon muna muve muvo

It is possible that some dialects of Orth attach these personal pronouns to words in the effective case, to form a more Earth-traditional conjugation system.

There are archaic forms of some of the above forms, used to convey respect.

Prefixes and Suffixes

Particle English Gloss
rea- -ium (source of, used to make)
pa- -gen (maker/generator of)
bit- -> bt- made out of, coming from
bu- shaped like, looks like, form of
liu- remeniscent of, reminds (someone) of
jek- completely unlike
yur- false, pseudo-
veno- above
nu- below
larma- equal to
jiji- -> jizh- repetition
oa- cessation
ya- absence
nokhi- beyond
lito- most, ultimate
dal- relatively
ben- together with
malure- innovative

Sentence Tense and Mood

Modifiers for the effective case are inserted between the word stem and the effective case ending. These endings are universal across declensions, with possible exceptions for irregulars. More than one of these modifiers may occur in a single word, for example, past habitual is formed by joining the modifier for "past" with that for "habitual". Note than not all of these combinations make sense, and that there are more to be documented—this construction is more or less Orth's version of prepositions.

Note that final vowels in these combinations are often elided and in some cases old forms have become frozen, leading to some irregularities.

Name Marker Description  
Past perfect ta finished in the past  
Habitual gege happens again and again  
Far future chimele will happen in the far future  
Ancient past khata happened in the far past  
Desire to yu-o desire to achieve effect  
Subjunctive kai hypothetical  
Negation chekai not the case that used independently as a negative copula
Causation dolona is the cause of  
Passive periphrastic rara obligation. must occur  
Impossibility vena    
Logical requirement uret    

Odd Moods

Certain sentence moods in Orth require an adjustment in how parts of the sentence are declined. These odd moods are the subjunctive, the passive periphrastic, and the desire.

When declining words for a sentence in any of these odd moods, there is a case skew which comes into effect. A word which would normally be in the Agentive case is put into the accusative case, a word which would normally be in the Accusative case is put into the instrumental case, and a word which would normally be in put into the instrumental case is put into the agentive case. This is illustrated with the following example:

Mood English Orth Orth Explanation
Declarative Lio is tired. Liochak wali. Lio(accusative) tired(effective)
Subjunctive Lio might be tired. Liowo walikai. Lio(instrumental) tired(effective,subjunctive)
Desire Someone wants Lio to be tired. Bilatopamchak Liowo waliyu-o. Someone(accusative) Lio(instrumental) tired(effective,desire)
Passive periphrastic Lio must become tired. Liowo walirara. Lio(instrumental) tired(effective,passive periphrastic)

Causation and the Orth Copula

Orth has no copula per se. Statements of fact are translated most directly by placing the fact into the accusative case and using the sentential effective form of the word "cause". The literal English translation of such an Orth sentence might end up being something like, "Something unspecified causes X to be 5."

There is also a causative sentence mood, in which the cause morpheme is attached to the effective form of another verb. I haven't yet worked out the major implications of this.

Relative Clauses

In constructions including relative clauses, Orth uses a particle to indicate the relationship of the relative clause to the rest of the sentence. This relationship includes both grammatical role of the subordinate clause in the larger sentence as well as the level to which the relationship exists.

The particle is attached to the end of the anchor word, after its declension into the proper case for its role in the subordinate clause.

Destination Level Grammatical Role Particle
0 agentive chon (omitted by default)
0 effective ge
0 accusative shr
0 instrumental voto
0 genitive gupa
1 agentive chali
1 effective deli
1 accusative ursem
1 instrumental dani
1 genitive kheb
2 agentive puy
2 effective naxo
2 accusative jema
2 instrumental ivai
2 genitive chamcham

TODO: need examples here!

Number System

Base thirty-two. Integers are written and read in a manner similar to Japanese: N1 220 N2 215 N3 210 N4 25 N5.

When base ten numbers are required, words for "ten," "hundred," and "thousand," etc. are used as markers.


Documentation on mathematics goes here.

See the vocabulary list vocabulary items.


(extract notes from email)
-xxx (source)
-xxx (maker)


(extract notes from email)

Areas for Expansion of Documentation

  • Comparisons: X is more {interesting, expensive, red, etc} than Y.
  • Quotations: X said "Y".
  • Asking questions
  • Emphatic


Example 1

Erasmus, who is not very smart, joined the Order yesterday.

Unskilled(instrumental-1) thinking(effective-1) Erasmus(agentive-1)(anchor:1->0) yesterday(instrumental-0) Order(accusative-0) joining(effect-0).

Other Examples

Lament for the Third Sack.

Passage (incomplete).



The Orth equivalent of Earth's alphabet