Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The History of Vayoti

The language called "Vayoti"” (VAH-yo-tee) is an Indo-European (IE) language representing its own distinct branch (as do, for example, Greek and Armenian). The surviving populations of Vayoti-speakers are to be found primarily in western Turkey and Bulgaria. This would appear to be the area in which the Indo-European (IE) speakers, soon to become IE-Vayotians, arrived at some time between 4000 and 3500 B.C.  

Analysis of the language provides strong evidence for the actual experience of these IE settlers in the land they made permanently their own. It appears that the settlers (having come from…?) encountered another population, one speaking a non-IE language for which there is no historical evidence apart from its profound affect on the language of the IE newcomers and intrinsic contribution to Vayoti. It further appears that these two peoples quite successfully intermingled and fused into one.

The reason for the last conclusion is a simple one: the extent and depth to which the earlier population’s tongue (the substrate) fused into the new IE arrival, despite the radically different forms of the two languages. (One might imagine the outer body of a bear being forced to fit and function on the skeletal frame of a horse, which conveys some notion of the remarkable, even outlandish, synthesis of the Indo-European and substrate language represented by modern Vayoti.)

Only sustained intimate contact could have facilitated such an unlikely melding. Moreover, such a process can only have taken place between two peoples of roughly similar strengths numerically, culturally and technologically. Intermarriage and a general tolerance for both languages (and their traditions) must be presumed.

While, ultimately, the Indo-European quality of the evolving language prevailed, penetration by the substrate was such, in the most extreme instances, as to produce words composed of IE consonant-roots but vowel patterns from the substrate!

A striking example of this melding is provided by a class of Vayoti verbs formed on a (c-)v-c-v-c-v [c=consonant, v=vowel] pattern, in which the IE roots are manifest in the consonants but there is nothing in IE to account for the pattern itself.  

For the reasons just stated, it is generally accepted to refer to both populations and their languages as "proto-Vayotian", the one being IE-Vayotian and the other Substrate Vayotian.  

Among the elements of the language clearly predating the arrival of the Indo-Europeans are:

1. The Alphabet: The Vayoti alphabet contains 80 letters. (See section "Alphabet.") These letters represent a "letter-concept" foreign to most Indo-European languages. For instance, the first four letters of the alphabet (each represented by its own sign in the Vayotian alphabet) are b, bl, br and bw. The concept that each of these is a distinct sound-unit (not merely a "combination of letters") intrinsically determines pronunciation and the distinguishing between words.

2. Pronouns: These are purely non-IE; there is no relation in the least between the Vayoti pronouns (both the subject and object forms) and any other pronoun forms across the entire range and history of Indo-European languages.

3. Numbers: Equally non-IE and, in fact, formed on the same sequence of consonants from which the Vayoti pronouns are formed. Compare, for example: bo (I) and bus (one); ka (you) and kus (two), etc. Moreover, the progression of vowel-sounds (o, a, i, e, u) in both the pronoun and number systems does not correspond to any other IE languages. There is a system of written number representation that appears to bear no relation to Arabic or any other number system and, most likely, to have originated among the Substrate Vayotian population. Modern Vayoti-speakers use both the Arabic, "international" numeral system, for communications beyond their own community, and the ancient Vayotian numerals for intra-community purposes.

4. Verb system: Fundamentally speaking, there is no "conjugation" of verbs in Vayoti (à la "do, does, did"), but there is a system of tense and aspect determiners which clearly comes right out of the substrate language; it has no IE basis.

5. The "missing" genitive: Certainly the most startling feature of Vayoti is the utter absence of both a genitive case (the "of"-case in inflected languages) and a word equivalent to English "of" (French/Spanish "de"). There is not even anything comparable to the Hebrew genitive construct. The rather wide range of nuances and conceptual connections represented by English "of" is covered, in Vayoti, by an equally wide ranges of other words or constructions to serve the same purpose.  For example, where we in English might say, "Son of God; city of New York; a day of grief; a heart of stone; the Man of Galilee; the story of Cinderella", the Vayotian equivalents are broadly translatable as "God's Son; city New York; a grief day; a stony heart; the Man from Galilee; the story about Cinderella."

6. Absence of diphthongs: There are no diphthongs (ai, au, ei, iu, etc.) whatsoever in Vayoti. There are only the five "pure" vowels: o, a, i, e, u (pronounced in the "Latin" way: oh, ah, ee, eh, oo). This absence of diphthongs certainly came from the Vayoti substrate and forever modified the general "sound" of the IE language with which it assimilated. Thus, Vayoti cannot be said very much to sound like any other language in the IE family (it has been suggested that its "melody" is remotely suggestive of Hindi).

7. Noun endings: With relatively rare exceptions, Vayoti nouns end either in a vowel (any one of the five) or in one of these five endings, -ov, -am, -iz, -en, and –ur. These certainly arose from the substrate; there is no basis in Indo-European for them.

8. Absent prefixes: Again with relatively rare exceptions, the Vayoti language avoids the construction/conceptualization of terms by resort to prefixing ("support, deport, import, comport…"). This almost obstinate rejection of prefixes is dramatically unlike other Indo-European languages and presumably goes back to the  Substrate Vayoti manner of expression. Evidently, Substrate Vayoti had few or no prefixes and its speakers were at a loss what to do with them in IE Vayoti, so that the whole convention more or less was rejected.

9. Mesopotamian borrowings: A significant portion of the SubstrateVayoti vocabulary indicates ancient interactions with the populations of Mesopotamia dating back as far as Sumer.

A brief sampling of Vayoti

Much more detailed explanation is to follow, but here I will provide a preliminary glimpse into the living language, with a selection of sentences.

I will show first the smooth English version, then the Vayoti version and then, underneath the Vayoti, a literal word-for-word, in the same order, English translation.

Please take note:

1. The "Vayoti version" cannot be considered "true" Vayoti, because Vayoti has its own alphabet (which, for the time being, I am not technically able to present here). Thus, all Vayoti, written in the Latin alphabet, must be considered transliteration.

2. There are no diphthongs. Therefore, “y” is always a consonant. A word like “ka’y’ta” consists of three syllables: ka-y-ta. It doesn’t rhyme with “pie-la” or “pay-la”! The y-syllable is a “hard” y, just like you hear at the beginning of “you”.

3. The consonant “kh” in Vayoti is the “guttural” sound you hear in German, Russian, Scottish, Hebrew, etc. It is not as strong as Scottish “loch”, but perhaps a bit more forceful than German “ich”.

4. When “sh” is written with a bold “s” (sh), it indicates that these are two separate sounds, not the single sound we write as “sh” in English. Rather, “sh” is a true “s”, and then a true “h” sound. When you see “shr”, the “hr” sounds like a very breathy “r”, e.g., “beshren” (bes-hren) which means “rain”.

5. There are no accent marks (at least, to indicate vocal emphasis) in written Vayoti. (The only written “accent” in Vayoti indicates a doubled consonant, not a stressed syllable per se; though it should be added that doubled consonants tend to coincide with stressed syllables.)  In the  transliterations below I will underline the accented syllables. Doubled consonants are slightly lingered upon, similar to Italian.

6. The difference between, say, "ll" and "l'l", or "ff" and "f'f" in a word is that a double consonant with no apostrophe in the middle (ff) is a "sustained" consonant, but the same consonant appearing twice with an apostrophe in between (f'f) represents two syllables. When written in the Vayoti alphabet, the sustained consonant is represented by writing the letter once, with an accent grave over it, while the two-syllable version is represented by writing the letter twice.

7. A number of grammatical points will be explained below; these explanations may be taken as a sort of mini-primer in Vayoti grammar.


1. Word about Jesus went through all the countryside.
 malva    da   yeshwa    elel     itar     salorr    to   ka’y’ta.
2. Ruth said to her husband's mother, "Don't forbid me to go with you to your home."
rut  zhun spel ites slu vada-ksa mitra, "ban but bro ste g'hal komkra ites klu tumft."
3. As king, I declare a day of remembrance.
o  horiz, bo  werzho  jon  mnrur  d’yun.
(as--king--I--proclaim/announce+aspectual suffix.--a--remembrance--day)
4. Please excuse me from this meeting; I am going through great difficulties right now.
telbel   mahaf   bro  id    sif   ksur;   bo   biyellu   kom   strovurzn   ste    mekris   oshur
(please--forgive--me--from--this--meeting--I--experience--with--difficulties--(adj. particle)--big--now)
5. There were some kind of nuts strewn all over the place.
ye     zhun     knovzn      shtiz   fat       sprevtu   salorr      to   shtam.
(there [is/are/was/were]--(time)--nuts--kind--what--strewn--all--the--place)
6. Yesterday evening at sunset (time), as the twilight was becoming darkness in the east and the sky shone red in the west, a deep feeling of peace came upon me.
  t’k’yerun   dov’yun   ige   swelevad   tur,   t’rur   to   khilis   shan   wirtla   droyoti   isa   to herrvlisu  zhef   to   awettam   shan   chelagan   rodi   isa   to   tovlisu,   jon   frimeyytankva   ste   dovkis atean   itna   bro.
(yesterday--evening--at--sunset--time--while--the--twilight--(time)--become--darkness--in--the--east--and--the--sky--(time)--shine--red(ly)--in--the--west--a--peace--feeling--(adj. particle)--deep--came--onto--me)
7. There is no throne as high as the throne of God
   banye     galur    gu      harlaf    so      so     to   galur       gu   edwoksa.
   (not-is [negative form of "ye"]--throne--that--high--so/as--so/as--the--throne--that--God's)
8. Once we were orphans under the power of sin and death, but now he has made you heirs with Christ and given you an inheritance of eternal life and light.
 bustur   po   fwi   horpizzn   ifwed  to  horval    gu    bwirkhksa   zhef   tsovksa,   gela    odnur    di     zhun   kwerrzhu  kra   herftizzn   kom   khristu    zhef   dozhu   kra   jon  horven   araf   gwevanta   zhef   fa’y’lis    ste  ayu.
(once--we--were--orphans--under--the--power--that--sin's--and--death's--but--now--he--(time)--make/create+asp.--you--heirs--with--Christ--and--give+asp.--you--an--inheritance--in--life--and--light--(adj. particle)--eternal)

Grammatical Notes 

Sentence 1 

malva    da   yeshwa    elel     itar     salorr    to   ka’y’ta.
There is very little to add by way of explanation here, as this very simple sentence was intentionally chosen for its close correspondence to English syntax. 

Sentence 2
rut  zhun spel ites slu vada-ksa mitra, "ban but bro ste g'hal komkra ites klu tumft."
Here, there is more to explain! "zhun", denoted underneath as "time", is a Time Particle, which places the following verb in the PAST.  There is no Aspectual Suffix on spel, because the following word is the preposition ites. Note that "with you"is a single word in Vayoti.

Sentence 3
o  horiz, bo  werzho  jon  mnrur  d’yun.
Here we encounter an Aspectual Suffix for the first time. It is the suffix -zho, added to the verb wer (proclaim). This is the transitive suffix, indicating that the verb takes a direct object. The direct object of the verb here is mnrur d'yun. Note that "a day of remembrance" is, in Vayoti, "a remembrance day". Because of the complete absence of a true genitive, Vayoti resorts to a multitude of different formulations to express the many things our "of" is capable of expressing.This example demonstrates that Vayoti avails itself far more liberally of the kind of construction represented by such English phrases as "the city park" or "the library windows" or "a food market", i.e., where a noun placed before a second noun creates a "genitive" relationship. Vayoti uses such a "formula" even to say such things as "a remembrance day", which in good English is "a day of remembrance."

Sentence 4
telbel   mahaf   bro  id    sif   ksur;   bo   biyellu   kom   strovurzn   ste    mekris   oshur
We will not stop to note too much in this example. Just notice that the Imperative is, like in English, simply the verb with nothing attached to it. Note that bro(me) is the "object" form of the pronoun bo (I). Also, notice that in Vayoti the verb "to experience, go through, contend with", biyellu, requires the preposition "with" (kom). Because of the immediately related preposition "with" the verb biyellu needs no Aspectual Suffix. The Adjectival Particle ste marks mekris as an adjective.


Sentence 5
ye     zhun     knovzn      shtiz   fat       sprevtu   salorr      to   shtam.
(there [is/are/was/were]--(time)--nuts--kind--what--strewn--all--the--place)
ye, with the necessary Time Particle following, fulfills the function of English "there is/are/was/were/will be/would be/would have been." Here, ye zhun means "there were". The only other point of particular note here, for now, is that the Vayoti word for "all", i.e., salorr, is sufficient to express "all over" without the addition of a preposition equivalent to English "over". Notice the odd idiom by which English "some kind of" is expressed in Vayoti by "kind what" after the noun: nuts kind what = some kind of nuts. 


Sentence 6 

(For this instance I will show the "smooth" English version as well, to help keep the meaning of the sentence in view)

Yesterday evening at sunset (time), as the twilight was becoming darkness in the east and the sky shone red in the west, a deep feeling of peace came upon me.
  t’k’yerun   dov’yun   ige   swelevad   tur,   t’rur   to   khilis   shan   wirtla   droyoti   isa   to herrvlisu  zhef   to   awettam   shan   chelagan   rodi   isa   to   tovlisu,   jon   frimeyytankva   ste   dovkis  atean   itna   bro.
There is a lot to look at in this sentence, so let's dive in:
Note that, while in English it is sufficient to say "sunset", Vayoti prefers to stipulate "sunset time", which is the Vayotian manner of expressing something like "the time of sunset."
After "khilis" (twilight) we find the Time Particle shan, which indicates that the verb following is in the past continuous. Thus, the twilight "was becoming" (not "became").
Most verbs take what are called Aspectual Suffixes, such as -zho, -zhu, -zhi and others. These indicate whether the verb takes a direct object or not, or is perhaps reflexive, or perhaps a completed (perfective) action, among other things. Note that wirtla has no such suffix. Why? It's because wirtla belongs to the category of -ala verbs. These are verbs ending in -ala, or, less often, simply -la, and they all convey the idea of being (something), i.e., of condition or state. For example, hagrala means "to be rich".  wirtla is one of these verbs. -ala verbs do not take an Aspectual Suffix.
The verb chelagan (shine) is a perfectly normal, i.e., "regular" verb. You can see it has the Time Particle shan in front of it, indicating a past continuous (the sky was shining). However, there is no Aspectual Suffix. One might expect chelaganzhi, with -zhi the Aspectual Suffix indicating that this is (here) an intransitive verb. The reason the Aspectual Suffix is absent here is that verbs do not require Aspectual Suffixes when they directly relate to a following preposition, the preposition here being isa, i.e., "in". The sky was shining (red) IN the west.
"Red" carries an adverbial connotation here ("redly"). In Vayoti there is no difference, form-wise, between adjectives and adverbs--they constitute one grammatical class: modifiers. When a Vayoti modifier directly follows a verb, it is adverbial in its function. When a modifier is intended adjectivally, then it follow the noun it modifies, but not immediately: the particle ste is placed between the noun and its adjective. We see this particle in the next part of the sentence.
The most foreign construction here, to an English-speaker, will be at the conclusion of the sentence: "a peace feeling ste deep" ("ste" being untranslatable).
As you can see, it translates as "a deep feeling of peace". But why?
Remember that there is no "of" in Vayoti. Therefore, a "feeling of peace" is, in Vayoti, "a peace feeling".
Next, remember that, as just noted, an adjective takes the particle ste, which stands between it and its noun. Here, the adjective "deep" modifies the "feeling of peace". Thus we place ste after "peace feeling", then the adjective "deep."


Sentence 7
banye     galur    gu      harlaf    so      so     to   galur       gu   edwoksa.
   (not-is [negative form of "ye"]--throne--that--high--so/as--so/as--the--throne--that--God's)
banye is the negative form of ye; in the present tense banye, like ye, is sufficient. In the past and future tenses, both ye and banye require Time Particles after them. Notice that there is no indefinite article ("a") before galur ("throne"), or any other word connoting anything like English "any". An indefinite article, jon,  exists in Vayoti, but Vayoti syntax often omits it where we would expect it (or its counterpart, any, in negative constructions) in English. gu means "that/which/who," and is frequently sufficient in itself to convey the notion "which is", without the actual use of the verb "to be." The construction so...so is the Vayoti equivalent to English "as...as...". The construction is a bit different from English as "so so" is almost always found in exactly this construction; as if we were to say in English, "He is tall as as I" rather than "He is as tall as I", or "I have never been embarrassed as as I was today!" for "I have never been as embarrassed as I was today." Notice that the Vayotian construction for "God's throne" is literally "throne that God's."


Sentence 8
(Again I will include the smooth English translation)
Once we were orphans under the power of sin and death, but now he has made you heirs with Christ and given you an inheritance of eternal life and light.
 bustur   po   fwi   horpizzn   ifwed  to  horval    gu    bwirkhksa   zhef   tsovksa,   gela    odnur    di     zhun   kwerrzhu  kra   herftizzn   kom   khristu    zhef   dozhu   kra   jon  horven   araf   gwevanta   zhef   fa’y’lis    ste  ayu.

Note that the verb "was", i..e, fwi, takes neither a Time Particle nor an Aspectual Suffix. This is because To Be is one of a special class of verbs, called "Triplet Verbs." Please see "Verbs" for more info on this! The English phrase "the power of sin and death" is rendered in Vayoti, "the power that sin's and death's", i.e., the power that is sin's and death's power. This, again, is one of the ways Vayoti compensates for the complete absence of a genitive. Another form of such compensation pops up towards the end of this sentence! The verb kwerr functions perfectly normally here in every way. It takes the Indefinite Time Particle zhun (meaning, the action happened in the past), and the Perfective Aspectual Suffix -zhu, which makes the verb "perfect", i.e., we translate it into English as "has made", not simply "made." Notice that the verb "gave" (do) does not seem to take a Time Particle; it does, actually--it shares the Time Particle zhun with the verb kwerr.
The preposition translated here as "of", in "an inheritance of..." is the Vayoti preposition araf. We do not have any exact equivalent for this word in English. It essentially means "in", but is not used merely to indicate that one is, for example, in one's house (there is a different preposition for that). One would use araf, however, to express that one's hand is in one's glove! This preposition also conveys the notion of "consisting in" or being "constituted of". Thus, in place of the English "of", Vayoti uses araf in an instance like this, to express that the inheritance consists of, is constituted by, eternal life and light.
Notice, too, that, just as in English, the difference between whether one is saying "give you" meaning "give to you" or "give you" meaning "give you to somebody" is understood from context. In both cases, the object form of Vayoti ka (you) is used, which is kra.
Just as there is a grammatical ambiguity in English as to whether the adjective "eternal" refers to both life and light, or just to life, so there is in the Vayoti version. 

Here are a few interesting Vayoti "sayings," with literal translation and explanation added: 

jon  vretra        ste             mnrazhi, mnrazhi! 
a     man    (adj. marker)      thinks,     thinks
"A thinking man thinks!" 
(The sense of this saying is, if you consider yourself an intelligent person, then...think! Note that this saying does not mean "A man who thinks, thinks!" The marker ste makes the verb mnrazhi a Continuous Adjectival Participle. To say "A man who thinks..." you would use gu instead of ste.) 

po  swi    pidokhzhi      zhef   opo   zwe   pidokhzhu
we    *       hope (intr.)**   and    we    ***      hope (perf.)****
"We will hope and we will hope." 
The literal translation of this saying fails to communicate its real meaning to the non-Vayoti speaker. 
* swi is the Future Continuous Time Particle, which conveys action continuing to go on in the future. Thus, the nuance of swi pidokh-- is that hope will be a constant, ongoing state. 
** pidokhzhi  The Intransitive Aspectual Suffix is the normal suffix for this verb, since "hope" cannot take a direct object. 
*** zwe is the Future Indefinite Time Particle, which does not connote an action in progress, but rather one assumed to be completed in the future. 
**** pidokhzhu  The Perfective Aspectual Suffix zhu suggests that the act of hope has attained its end. 
Thus, as innocuous, or even vapid, as "We will hope and we will hope" may appear in (poor) English translation, the actual import of the Vayoti saying may be freely "decoded" as: "We will keep on hoping until hope is ultimately vindicated." 

blu mitra zhun s’yuzho bro zhef bo zhun daveluzhi
my  mother  bore (trans.) me   and  I    was born (intrans.)

"My mother gave me birth and I was born." 

Again, the saying appears absurdly obvious and hardly "sage", but, again, that is because its real sense is lost in translation. Take note that actually two verbs are used here with reference to birth. 
The mother is said to s'yu, which simply means "to give birth." 
But the speaker does not say that he was "s'yutu", i.e., "born", using a participle of the same verb. 
Rather, he uses the verb davelu, with the Intransitive Suffix (it is not an action he performed on someone else!). 
The connotation of davelu is "to come into the world, start one's life, emerge to distinct, separate personhood." 
Thus, the gist of this saying may be broadly formulated as: "Yes, my mother gave me birth, but I'm the one who came into the world and had to launch out on my own destiny's path." Another nuance of this popular saying is that, "Since it's happened, it's happened, and you've just got to deal with it."