Ithkuil/Lesson 2

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The meaning of roots (which could be found in a dictionary) are rather abstract. This lesson described the first step in deriving words from roots in Ithkuil, where their meaning becomes more concrete.

Roots[edit]

Roots are Ithkuil's most basic semantic units, the things that one could find in an Ithkuil dictionary such as the Ithkuil lexicon. All Ithkuil formatives are derived from a limited number of roots. Each root consists of a consonants cluster of 1 to 5 consonants. There are approximately 3,600 roots, of which just over 900 have been assigned meanings. Although they are allowed, no five-consonant-cluster roots have been assigned meanings.

Stems and pattern[edit]

The meaning of roots (which could be found in a dictionary) are rather abstract. The first step in deriving words from roots in Ithkuil is prepending a vowel to the root. This is where the meaning becomes more concrete.

There are three stems associated with each root. Each stem comes in three patterns, one holistic and two complementary ones. Holistic stem 1 typically refers to the most general manisfestation of a root, whereas holistic stems 2 and 3 typically refer to more specific manifestations associated with the root. Each holistic stem has two complementary stems associated with it, which refer to the complementary concepts related to the holistic stem. The specific meaning of complementary stems depends somewhat on the root. Two examples are given in the tables below:

Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
nuclear family member
(a)mm-
male nuclear family member
emm-
female nuclear family member
umm-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
parent
omm-
child
âmm-
father
ömm-
son
êmm-
mother
îmm-/ûmm
daughter
ômm-
Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
higher-order animal lifeform
(a)q-
human
eq-
non-human higher-order animal lifeform
uq-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
male higher-order animal lifeform
oq-
female higher-order animal lifeform
âq-
(human) male
öq-
(human) female
êq-
male non-human higher-order animal lifeform
îq-/ûq-
female non-human higher-order animal lifeform
ôq-

Pronunciation[edit]

Ithkuil has several sounds that do not exist in English. Moreover, it also distinguishes between some sounds that are not distinguished in English, although they occur in English. Also, some familiar sounds are written in an unfamiliar way. Below is a short pronunciation guide to the sounds encountered in this lesson

Symbol IPA Audio Description
a [a]
Like the <a> in Spanish or Italian. Some English dialects also use this sound.
e [ɛ]
Like in English bed.
u [ʊ]
Like in English pull.
o [ɔ]
Like in English short in non-rhotic accents.
â [ɑ]

Note: It should a bit "heavier"
(i.e. back) than in this sound file
Like bath in British English.
ö [ø]
[œ]

Like in French feu.
Like in French neuf.
ê [eː]
Like a long version of the first part of English ate.
î [iː]
Like in English sea.
û [uː]
Like in English pool.
ô [oː]
Like a long version of the first part of English boat.
mm [mː] Like English m, but longer.
q [q]
Uvular, unaspirated. Somewhat like English k in skin, but further back in the mouth, with the tongue touching the uvula. It is not accompanied by a puff of air. This sound should be properly distinguished from k.
[pʰ] Aspirated. Like English p in pin. It is accompanied by a puff of air somewhat stronger than in English.
rr [r]
Trill. Like the rr in Spanish perro.
k [k]
Unaspirated. Somewhat like English k in skin. It is not accompanied by a puff of air.
ż [d͡z]
Like d + z.

Vocabulary[edit]

Wherever necessary, the meanings of the holistic stems 2 and 3 and complementary stems are specified. Keep in mind that all formatives carry verb-like and noun-like meanings, regardless of whether one is specified.

-pʰ- = branched and/or leaved plant (i.e. tree or bush)
Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
branched and/or leaved plant
(a)pʰ-
leaf
epʰ-
bark
upʰ-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
wood
opʰ-
seed
âpʰ-
root
öpʰ-
flower
êpʰ-
branch
îpʰ- / ûpʰ-
sap
ôpʰ-
-rr- = cat
Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
cat
(a)rr-
male cat
err-
female cat
urr-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
wild cat
orr-
bred/domesticated cat
ârr-
wild male cat
örr-
bred/domesticated male cat
êrr-
wild female cat
îrr- / ûrr-
bred/domesticated female cat
ôrr-
-by- = dog
Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
dog
(a)by-
male dog
eby-
female dog
uby-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
wild/feral dog
oby-
domesticated/pet dog
âby-
wild/feral male dog
öby-
domesticated/pet male dog
êby-
wild/feral female dog
îby- / ûby-
domesticated/pet female dog
ôby-
-kl- = water in natural motion
Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
(a) flow (of water)
(a)kl-
sprinkle, shower
ekl-
free-falling water, cascade, pour
ukl-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
water component of flow
okl-
channel component of flow
âkl-
water component of sprinkle/shower
ökl-
trajectory component of sprinkle/shower
êkl-
water component of cascade/pour
îkl- / ûkl-
trajectory component of cascade/pour
ôkl-
-ż- = day/night
Holistic stem 1 Holistic stem 2 Holistic stem 3
day, 24-hour period
(a)ż-
sky
eż-
degree of sunlight
uż-
Complementary stems Complementary stems Complementary stems
daytime
oż-
nighttime
âż-
daytime sky
öż-
nighttime sky
êż-
daylight
îż- / ûż-
natural darkness
ôż-

Exercises[edit]

Practice pronouncing the sounds described in the Pronunciation section, both by imitating the sound files and by pronouncing the various stems encountered in this lesson.

Take the roots from the above vocabulary section and prepend the vowels to derive their holistic and complementary stems the same way as in the examples. What do these mean? (answers)


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