Trari is a new language begun by Bruce R. Gilson on August 30, 2009. It was developed as a result of an inquiry made somewhat earlier about Voksigid to its creator, asking whether it was open for learning by the Conlang learner's group. Though ultimately Voksigid was not chosen, the interest that was shown in it encouraged the creator of Voksigid to do some more public language construction. Not to do anything that would hurt the chances of somebody learning Voksigid, but to put some more of his ideas in a form that could be used in a later project of the same type. Trari is the first of his creations to be compiled into such a form.
Trari is what some people have called an "engineered language" or "engelang," though its creator prefers to call these types of constructed languages "experimental languages." That is to say, it is designed to provide features that the constructor might want to see whether they would be interesting, perhaps even to see if the mental processes involved in composing thoughts into a special language might give some insights into meaning. Probably the best-known of these languages are the "logical languages" such as Loglan and its offshoot, Lojban. Voksigid also falls into this category, but the particular ideas behind Trari are almost 180° removed from Voksigid.
The inspirations for Trari are three in number:
- Lojban was designed to have self-segregation, which means that the word divisions are obvious in a stream of spoken sounds in the language. While self-segregation was rejected for Voksigid, the idea has some interest to its creator, and, after seeing some ideas for how to produce self-segregation in a constructed language very recently, felt that some of them seemed rather far-fetched in terms of whether anyone could actually employ the rules on the fly, and others would so restrict the phonology of the language that the number of reasonably different sounding words would be exceedingly small. In Trari, an attempt was made to avoid both these problems; whether the attempt has succeeded is one of the things that will be found out if anyone chooses to learn it.
- Many years ago the language creator saw the specifications of Vorlin, created by Rick Harrison. While there were not a lot of things that he liked about in it, there was one that he thought extremely interesting: its radically limited inventory of verbs. (Vorlin has gone through many changes in the ensuing years; apparently this particular feature of Vorlin changed in about 1996, but the reference here is to the particular phase in Vorlin's development which was seen by the Trari's creator.) Actually, it was only the basic verbs that were so few in number; Vorlin made a lot of verb-plus-noun compounds that functioned as verbs, but the need to combine these into single words was not really there; the fact is that only four verbs sufficed for the whole language: be, become, and two others. Trari is based on this concept of having a minimal inventory of verbs, with copulative-verb-plus-noun phrases used to replace nearly all of the verbs of typical languages. (The comparison to Voksigid, where verbs are basic and nouns are verb derivatives, illustrates how oppositely-conceived Trari and Voksigid are.)
- In the design of Voksigid, the use of large numbers of prepositional phrases led to a problem in analyzing the dependencies. If there are two prepositional phrases in a row, do they both modify the same noun, or do they nest, with the second phrase modifying the object of the preposition in the first? While a solution was arrived at (see rule 6 of the Voksigid syntax document), the language creator was not totally happy with it. The Trari "circumposition" rule was designed as a different way of handling such typs of syntax problems, which really occur in all languages with prepositional phrases.
Trari was not intended to be proposed as an international auxiliary language. The self-segregation requires that the morphemes/lexemes be fitted to a fairly strict phonological pattern, which means that it is impossible to make maximal use of internationally-recognizable forms, which to the language creator is an indispensible requirement for an IAL.
Trari vs. Praet
While developing Trari, the creator of the kanguage came up with some additional ideas which seemed inappropriate to change Trari to incorporate, so he began another project, Praet. Praet incorporates some concepts shared with Trari, and differs in some ways. Because of the priority of Trari, the discussion of Trari here will not generally refer to Praet at all, but the discussion of Praet will reference Trari where it is useful to do so.
Trari, at present, has an extremely limited vocabulary. This is not a deliberate design feature; it merely means that only those words that were needed to demonstrate how Trari works. If anyone is interested in the language, the creator of the language should be contacted so the vocabulary can be expanded to something usable.
As Trari has not been planned as an IAL, the vocabulary has been derived in a fairly arbitrary manner: some words/morphemes from existing languages (nye from Russian, smao from English and Scandinavian, etc.) looking for forms that meet Trari's word structure rules, without any consistency in the choice of sources, while randomly constructing others in an a priori manner.
Classification of sounds
The sounds in Trari are classified into three major groups: pure consonants, sonants, and pure vowels. The sonants, in turn, are divided into consonantal and vocalic forms, giving all together four sets of phonemes. (The term "semivowel" is used to refer to the consonantal form of a sonant.) A table of the 36 phonemes in Trari is given below, in an order based on this classification. They are written in Trari orthography, but a pdf file showing the phonetic equivalent of all Trari letters and digraphs is available for download.
Word structure rules
Every word must begin with a pure consonant followed by a semivowel. No semivowel may occur following a consonant other than at the beginning of a word. This produces self-segregation, where the word boundaries are obvious when a stream of phonemes is heard.
Two consonants of different voicing may not occur together. Thus, in the name Trari, the first r actually is pronounced as a voiceless r because of the t preceding it. As a result, the q which would mark a semivowel as voiceless is not necessary, and the orthography omits it. This normally is only significant at the beginning of words because of the word structure rules.
Two consecutive vowels may never be found together. If the word derivation rules would lead to this condition, an h is inserted.
(See also the discussion on the syntax page.)
Verbs are conjugated for tense, with the suffixes -nu for present, -pa for past, and -fu for future:
- gli syenu cnan = he sings
- gli syepa cnan = he sang
- gli syefu cnan = he will sing
The bare forms sye and vya are used as infinitives, and also where the gerund would be used in English. These four forms (infinitives and the three tenses) are the entire conjugation of the two verbs in the language.
(See also the discussion on the syntax page.)
There is no case inflection of nouns in Trari. All the cases other than the nominative of other languages are expressed by circumpositions, as described below.
The plural of nouns is expressed by a suffix -z if the singular ends in a vowel, or -iz if it ends in a consonant.
Because of the word structure rules, the addition of a prefix always causes a modification to the beginning of the word receiving the prefix. The semivowel at the second phoneme position from the beginning becomes the corresponding vowel, and because this would create a pair of consecutive vowels, which is not permitted, an h is inserted between this newly created vowel and the vowel that followed it. Thus, with the prefix nye, which means "opposite of," attached to the word smao, meaning "little thing," the compound meaning "large thing" is nyesxmhao.
Roman alphabet for Trari
On this site, the Roman alphabet is used. If a Trari alphabet is constructed, it would be expected that separate symbols would be used for each phoneme, without the digraphs used here.
All 26 letters are employed, but the letters q and x are used in an unconventional manner, forming digraphs which are special representations of particular Trari phonemes: qfollowed by any semivowel devoices it, so qn represents a voiceless [n] sound, and x followed by a sonant letter makes it syllabic (and thus a vowel). Note that after a voiceless consonant, the q is unnecessary and thus not written, since two consonants of different voicing may not occur together, while the combinations xy and xw are unnecessary because they would simply represent the same phonemes as i and u.
(See also the discussion on the morphology page.)
Trari is based on a sentence pattern in which no verbs exist except for copulative verbs. There are two verbs: sye, meaning "to be," and vya, meaning "to become." No other verbs exist in the language, and instead there are nouns which can generally be translated as "someone/something that <verb>s." Thus, instead of a verb meaning "to sing" there is a noun cnan, meaning "singer," and "he sings" is simply gli syenu cnan.
The word order in a sentence is uniformly subject-verb-complement. Since there are no verbs other than copulative verbs, the concept "object" does not exist.
(See also the discussion on the morphology page.)
As stated above, many of the Trari nouns take the semantic values of verbs of other languages. The correct translation of most English verbs is sye plus a predicate complement which has the meaning as given in the previous section of this page.
Absence of adjectives
Adjectives are unnecessary in Trari. In most cases a noun whose translation is "<adjective> thing" or "<adjective> one" suffices. The word is juxtaposed with the word for the noun in the original language. So if slaem means "loud one," a "loud singer" is simply someone who is both a singer and a loud one, so could be expressed as cnan slaem or slaem cnan. (Since a person who is both loud and a singer can equally well be described as a person who is both a singer and loud, both orders are equally correct, but might be differentiated in their emphasis.)
Note that this is exactly like the use of such expressios as "woman driver" in English, though obviously there are other examples of the use of English nouns as adjectives in which the semantic value is quite different.
There are languages like English that use prepositions to combine with nouns to make modifying phrases, and others like Japanese that use postpositions. Trari uses pairs of words, that could be called "circumpositions," one preceding and one following the object. The two together delimit the phrase, though the semantic value of the two is different, soone can refer to the preposed part and the postposed part of the circumposition.
One might note that in some languages, such as German and Latin, the same preposition can be used with different cases to give two rather different meanings. Thus, in Latin, in hortum = "into the garden" while in horto = "in the garden." Trari uses the postposed part of the circumposition somewhat like the Latin and German use of case, but threefold rather than twofold:
- dran prak twao = into the park
- dran prak bray = in the park
- dran prak fro = from within the park
All spatial relations have this same three-way contrast, as do other relationships where a similar static/dynamic contrast exists. So, just as when something is a gift from one person to a second, it ceases to be a possession of the first and becomes a possession of the second, the prepositions "to" (with words implying a gift) and "of" (meaning "owned by") have a similar relationship:
- twid klaed twao = to the man (with verbs of giving/sending)
- twid klaed bray = of the man
- twid klaed fro = from the man (with verbs of giving/sending)
It is important to note that the use of the two parts of the circumposition to delimit the phrase makes it possible to express such different things as:
- crit twid klaed bray dran dwom bray
- crit twid klaed dran dwom bray bray
The first refers to a shirt that is "of the man" and "in the house" because both phrases modify crit. The second, by contrast, refers to a shirt that is "of the man in the house" because the second phrase, dran dwom bray, directly modifies klaed.
Coordinating and subordinating conjunctions are handled differently in Trari. Coordinating conjunctions such as zwa="and" and vwi="or" are single words, placed between the appropriate clauses. Subordinate clauses, like phrases, must be deliminated as to start and end, so there is a preposed and a postposed part. Unlike the circumpositions, the postposed part is always the same word kro.
Relative clauses are constructed like other subordinate clauses, with the pair of words kri...kro delimiting them. The pronoun kwi, is inserted in the clause as the relative, but does not alter the word order:
- Klaed syenu cnan = The man sings.
- Klaed syenu dran dwom bray = The man is in the house.
- Klaed, kri kwi syenu cnan kro, syenu dran dwom bray = The man, who sings, is in the house.
- Klaed syenu cnan, kri kwi syenu dran dwom bray kro = The man is the singer, who is in the house.
- Dwom, kri klaed syenu dran kwi bray kro, syenu smao = The house, in which the man is, is small.
In most languages, numerical expressions are considered adjective-noun phrases. For example, English three men is expressed as the adjective "three" modifying the noun "men." In Trari, numerical expressions have to be handled differently from other expressions which correspond to adjective-noun phrases. While "green apples" are objects that are bothgreen things and apples, "three men" are not objects that are both threesomes and men. Rather they are threesomes composed ofmen. So a circumposition meaning "of" (but specifically in the meaning "consisting of," not all the other meanings that "of" has in English) needs to be used. In Trari, this is the pair dlan...sni. (One could consider the number "one" as different, for "one man" really is a unity that is also a man, but it is more appropriate to be consistent, I think, and so the same type of expression is used.)
Therefore, a word which might be considered to mean "two" is really more correctly understood as meaning "a pair," and similarly for all numbers being represented in Trari by words meaning "group of <n>." Of course, these nouns can be used without accompanying dlan...sni phrases simply to mean "a group of <n> things," whenever one needs to expressthis concept. In other words, in an English-Trari glossary one might see "two = dwi" and "three = tri", but in fact dwi more correctly means a pair of things and tri more correctly means a threesome of things. In the following list, this should be understood:
- 1 = vwan
- 2 = dwi
- 3 = tri
- 4 = kwar
- 5 = kwin
- 6 = swik
- 7 = syete
- 8 = vyet
- 9 = znin
- 10 = dlek
As discussed earlier, the words above are used in expressions of the form tri dlan klaed sni = "three men" (literally "a threesome of men") or dwi dlan dwom sni = "two houses" (literally "a pair of houses").