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Descriptive Suffixes: -ke/-se/-ye
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Ancient Kaelic's nine descriptive suffixes
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 22 May 2020, 04:18.

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Ancient Kaelic does not have grammatical gender. However, it does have a system of nine suffixes that indicate gender and age/superiority that can be used to add detail/specificity to nouns and pronouns. It is most commonly visualized as this 3x3 grid:

-ka
young/inferior male
-ken
young/inferior female
-ke
young/inferior neutral or unknown
-sa
adult/equal male
-sen
adult/equal female
-se
adult/equal neutral or unknown
-ya
elder/superior male
-yen
elder/superior female
-ye
elder/superior neutral or unknown



They are formally applied to living things; e.g., aru (dog) becomes aru-ka (male puppy).

Most notably, there are no overtly gendered words (e.g., boy, grandmother, queen). Each of these is indicated by a generic word that then has the gender indicated by the suffix.

  • boy = "young male person" (el-ka)
  • grandmother = "elder female grandparent" (mama-yen)
  • queen = "female head of state" (vumael-yen)


When applied to people, the age/superiority portion usually directly indicates age, not rank, though the connotations that age=superiority is a part of the culture.

Note that "age" in this context refers to general age categories, e.g., childhood, teens, adults, elders. You are not expected to immediately know whether your birthday is before or after everyone you meet! When unsure, -se is usually safest.

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Pronouns

ke/se/ye suffixes can be used on pronouns in object position to indicate the speaker's relationship with that person or thing. For example, army officers often use pola-ke and polam-ke (inferior "you") to emphasize rank when giving orders.

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What if age and superiority are opposite?

In cases when someone younger explicitly has higher rank than the speaker (e.g., a young ruler or army officer), the rank is prioritized. Implication is "elders are higher rank by virtue of being elder"

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Nonliving Things

When applied to non-living things, they are considered "poetic" affixes, used to enhance the nouns in informal ways that lean on cultural connotations, approximated here:

-ka
small and messy
-ken
small and cute
-ke
inferior
-sa
robust
-sen
beautiful
-se
standard
-ya
weathered or stubborn
-yen
wise or gnarled
-ye
superior


This has led to fewer unique nouns in the language that cover nuanced differences, as the ke/se/ye suffixes cover much of it. For example, a raft is a "young male" boat (moret-ka).

Common canonized versions of this poetic affixing have been added to the lexicon as derivatives of their base words.
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