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Lesson #3: Articles and Pronouns
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How articles and pronouns work in Iteloge Nowernve
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 6 Jun 2020, 21:51.

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Articles and Pronouns

Definite and Indefinite Articles

In the Modern Tongue, articles are words that "introduce" a noun, indicating number and definiteness, among other things, and are always placed before a noun (in some cases before an adjective or list of adjectives that precede a noun). The lack of an article before a noun indicates a tacit definite article, with the added connotation that the modified noun is more "permanent"; for example, the difference between "sel do kaödiyo mbof Soksan" and "sel kaödiyo mbof Soksan" (both meaning "he is the warlord/ruler of Soxan") is that the latter is implied to be a permanent position. As a result, some nouns are more likely to drop the definite article. This is the case with words such as "amife" ("friend"); "sem de amife dof Höafo" would imply the speaker is Höafo's only friend, and that the friendship is temporary. "Sem amife dof Höafo" would be preferred.

Just as nouns and adjectives, articles have a rigid gender and plurality, as outlined below:

TypeNumberNeutral FormPhonoaesthetic NeutralMasculine FormPhonoaesthetic MasculineFeminine FormPhonoaesthetic Feminine
DefiniteSingular de do da
Plural des*dos*das*


For the singular indefinite articles, there is a phonoaesthetic form that is preferred when the following word begins with the same letter as the ending. Rather than "o orko" ("an orc"), one must use "oŋ oɾko". Note that this does not aply to definite articles; "do orko" is the correct form. In this case, /o/ needs to be pronounced twice (/o.o/) rather than as a long vowel (/o:/). Likewise, "de orke" must be pronounced /de.oɾke/ and not /dʝoɾke/; and "do elfo" must be pronounced /do.elfo/ and not /dw̝elfo/. Diphthongisation as a general rule is discouraged in the Modern Tongue, at least in formal speach, though speakers of certain dialects tend to do so without noticing. Despite this fact, it is considered acceptable to pronounce "de orke" as /de:ʝoɾke/ and "do elfo" as /do:w̝elfo/.

There are, however, more language-wide phonoaesthetic rules which apply to the articles marked with an * on the previous table: though the spelling remains the same, the pronunciation might change when the following noun starts with a ⟨c⟩, ⟨ç⟩ or ⟨s⟩. Soxanites tend to place a /ə/ between these sounds, pronouncing "des swadhes" ("the swords") as /desə svaðes/ or /des.svaðes/. Feordhian Modern tends to instead pronounce this as /deʃ svaðes/.

Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns

Personal pronouns replace nouns or noun phrases. There is no distinction between emphatic, prepositional or prepositional nouns, meaning that "lo", for example, serves as "he", "him" and "himself". Personal pronouns are sorted in the following way:

1st PersonInclusiveNeutralmemes
2nd PersonNeutraltetes
3rd PersonAnimateNeutralleles
4th PersonImpersonalone

The use of the neutral forms of personal pronouns (excepting the inanimate and impersonal pronouns) is very unusual if the speaker knows the real-life gender of the noun being replaced because the neutral form is usually reserved for unknown gender. The exception is when the pronoun is referring to someone who is non-binary, agender or (in some cases) intersex. Non-sentient beings are referred to with the inanimate pronouns "ste" (this/it) and "sle" (that/it). Demonstratives are considered pronouns only when replacing a noun, and articles when preceding them. Calling a person or even beasts and monsters by "ste", "sle" or any of their gendered variants (which are not recognised by the Modern Institute) is considered highly offensive. It's similar to calling a person "it", "this" or "that. However, using demonstratives as articles (including their gendered forms) is acceptable; for example, "slo döarfo" ("that male dwarf") or "sta elfa" ("this female elf").

The Modern Tongue has both inclusive and exclusive plural first-person pronouns; "mes" and its gendered forms include the addressee or addressees, whereas "nes" and its gendered forms exclude them. Prayer, for example, often employs the exclusive forms, as the supplication comes from a group of people that excludes the deity or deities in question.

The "fourth person" or "impersonal" pronoun is mostly used to substitute collectives, such as "umanje" (humankind) or "yentlje" (people/sentient beings). It also works as an equivalent to "one" in English sentences such as "one can assume" ("one fowell acur") or "it" in sentences such as "it is important to see", though in cases like these, the pronoun is always dropped: "(one) sell nkigmotve wor". It is preferred over "te" and its gendered forms with sentences that in English might be expressed as "you should always expect the worst"; here, "you" isn't referring directly to the addressee, but rather to an unspecified collective of people.

Pronoun dropping is indeed the standard for all subject pronouns, as the verb conjugation clearly indicates to which grammatical person the subject belongs. Subject pronouns are usually kept when the speaker wants to emphasise the subject over the verb or the object, or to avoid ambiguity when multiple third-person pronouns from different genders could confuse the addressee.

Object pronouns are classified into direct or indirect. Direct object pronouns are the same as personal pronouns, but indirect object pronouns are combined with the prefix "af-", derived from the preposition "af" (roughly equivalent to "to" or "at"). Thus "ferdoned ste" translates as "forgive this", "ferdoned afme" is "forgive me" and "ferdoned afme ste" is "forgive me (for) this". "Ferdoned me" on the other hand, would be interpreted as "forgive my existence". Another example: the command "damed ste" is "give this (away)", "damed afste" is "give to it", and "damed afste sle" is "give this to it". The order is always indirect object before direct object.

Quantitative Articles and Pronouns

Nouns can also be preceded by quantitative articles. These indicate a specific or vague numerical value to the noun, indicating its quantity. These articles are not considered adjectives by the speakers of the Modern Tongue. They're sorted into the following categories:
  • Numerical: they indicate a precise quantity. Examples: öane ("one"), djeñ-ones ("eleven"), dràmles ("a hundred"). Besides "öane", all numbers are plural. When counting, they are considered nouns, and lose the "-s" indicating plurality. There is no article for "tsoore" ("zero")
  • Partitive: they indicate an unspecified quantity. Examples: öalkes ("some"), mbes ("many"), pöektes ("few").
  • Absolute: they indicate an absolute quantity. Examples: nejne ("no"), tates ("all"), nköade ("each").

In any instance in which they are used, they must agree with the noun they are proceeding in terms of grammatical gender and plurality. Additionally, any of these can be turned into a pronoun in order to replace a noun. In these cases, they are usually followed by "dzof stes/dzof sles" (roughly "of these/those/them"). For example, "I want one (of those/them)" would be "kem öane dzof sles". These additions are only considered necessary when the replaced noun might be too ambiguous.

Possessive Articles

Possession, when not involving a possessive adjective (which in the Modern Tongue would be limited to words such as "humans'" or "mine"), involve the use of what is considered a possessive article. Possessive articles are formed by combining the object's definite article with the possessor's pronoun, with the following structure:


These 130 possessive articles also exist in their adjective form: for example, "demve" as "mine" (singular inanimate possession, singular gender-neutral first-person possessor). It is unlikely that one would encounter a gendered possession; these possessives will usually be found in cases such as "dasmo frunt'has", meaning "my (female) dogs", or "doslas mbahitos", meaning "their (women's) husbands". In these cases, the possessive usually indicates a strong relationship or employment.

Note that possessives involving "ste", "stes", "sle" and "sles" are irregular in order to distinguish them from those involving "te", "tes", "le" and "les". The pronounciation of, for example, "decle" is /deʃle/. And in the case of forms such as "des'sles", the pronunciation can be /des.sles/ or /'desəsles/. And again, diphthongisation does not occur with possessives involving "one". Both the ⟨o⟩ and whichever vowel precedes it must be pronounced as separate syllables.
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