Zurvár Language and Culture - Grammar Part 2


Once you've got your basic verb statement sorted out, you'll probably want to start messing around with it. After all, why say "Spot bites Jack" when you can say "Spot bites Jack savagely"? In Zurvár this job is acomplished by the use of "modifiers".

A modifier is basically what English speakers would call an "adverb", however in Zurvár there is no distinction between adverbs (altering the meaning of a verb) and adjectives (altering the meaning of a noun). For instance in English you'd describe a horse as "quick" (adjective) and its running "quickly" (adverb). In Zurvár you'd use the same word (toklas) for both jobs...

dáyered toklas - The horse is quick
yered holfracalket toklas - The horse runs quickly

(There actually was a distinction between adjectives and adverbs in Old Zurvár, but it fell out of use around 800 years ago.)

In a verb statement, modifiers are added after the verb. In the example above holfracalket is the verb "to run" (with some modifications for tense). In a noun statement, they follow the noun.

There are two basic types of modifiers. The first are "derived modifers", that is they are generated from a noun by the addition of the "-urn" suffix. For instance...

mirč - The dark, darkness
mirurn - Dark

taká - A mess, a tangle
takáturn - Tangled up

The second type are "unique" modifiers. These are word in their own right and do not derive from other words, although they are often related to them.

táká - Pale
důtá - Hard, tough, resiliant
mestár - Cool, chilly

(In general "unique" modifiers are descended from Old Zurvár adjectives, while "derived" modifiers from adverbs. For instance in Old Zurvár mirá - darkness, mirátá - dark, mirurn - darkly)


Zurvár lacks what might be described as "ascribtion verbs", that is the special verb forms English uses to ascribe properties to nouns, ie: "was, am, will be, were, are, is". Instead Zurvár uses a prefix (dá-) to shift the noun being described into "Ascribtion tense".

Normally a noun followed by a series of modifiers is taken to describe or indicate a specific thing, for example...

bonavápű ganálű - The blue conifer

However when the noun is put into ascribtion tense the phrase ascribes the modifier to it...

dábonavápű ganálű - The conifer is blue

The same qualifiers that are used with verb phrases may be used in ascribtion phrases to change the meaning...

dábonavápű ganálű etá - The conifer may be blue
dábonavápű ganálű kert - The conifer is not blue

Pronouns are always assumed to be in ascribtion tense, and never take the dá- prefix.

The prefix may be applied to a modifier if modifiers are required to both describe and be ascribed to the noun. In this case it acts as a divider between the describing and ascribed modifers...

bonavápű ganálű dáraleturn - The blue conifer is burning


Numbers form the bulk of the class of Zurvár words called numerics. Numerics (as the name would suggest) are used to supply numeric information about an object, and so could be understood as part of the modifier class. However there is one important distinction between numerics and modifiers. Modifiers are placed after the word they affect, while numerics are placed before it. For example...

yered - A horse
ver yered - Two horses
yered táká - A pale horse
ver yered táká - Two pale horses

All numbers are (by definition) numerics, however there are at least six other numerics in the language. Mon means 'more than one', placing this before a noun is the standard way to indicate plurals in Zurvár. Fádá means 'many', 'a great number of', 'lots'. In contrast kûn means 'few', 'a small number of', 'a handful'. Tárl means 'more', and bedárl means 'less', their use implies comparison with another quantity. Finally câdárl means 'all'. To summarise...

yered - A horse
mon yered - Horses
fádá yered - Lots of horses
kûn yered - A few horses
tárl yered - More horses
bedárl yered - Less horses
cârdárl yered - All horses