Rathvardic Rathvardic Inscription
An Artificially Created Language
We've all heard of them: people who have created their own language. Whether for reasons idealistic (Esperanto), reverential (Elvish), fanatical (Klingon), or practical (private 'jibberish' spoken by twins), certain ambitious persons have undertaken that seemingly overwhelming task of devising an alphabet and grammar, vocabulary and even literature. Why do they do it?

Well speaking for myself, I did it because I find it truly fascinating. After discovering Tolkien in junior high school--thanks entirely to my most influential mentor, "Magistra" Karen Knapp--I became intensely interested in comparative linguistics and artificial languages. Being the days before the internet, I did not know at the time that others had been doing this for years. Today they call themselves Conlangers ("constructed language-ers"), but at the time, I fancied myself one of perhaps only a handful of individuals world-wide who spoke a tongue understood by no other living person.

Originally just a writing system I would use to keep private notes to myself, my language developed and grew to include very rich grammatical rules, an extensive vocabulary with etymological considerations; and eventually inscriptions, hierograms (sacred writings), and poetry. Its grammer is inflected with three cases and encompasses several moods and three tense systems--each with a perfect and an imperfect--with simple and progressive action being synthetically represented. There are four adjectival/adverbial degrees, four genders; and singular, dual and plural suffixes along with a number of tranformative affixes and many logical conjunctions, correlators, subordinators, rogators, inquisitors, and gramatically active determiners. Rathvardic has a past history with a proto-language, "Slasing", and a future direction--a mutation vector.

Since I began this back in junior high, I have learned much about the spoken word. I've studied a number of languages (dead ones in particular!) and linguistics in general, and there is much I would do differently if I could, but like any speaker of any real language anywhere, I'm stuck with history and the mother tongue as is currently exists. I've been indulging the idea of starting fresh but have yet to actually begin. Till then, I'm the only speaker of Rathvardic and because it is the language of my personal notes, that is the way I wish to keep it.

I would consider it immensely satisfying if someone unfamiliar with constructed languages were to stumble across my own attempts and as a result, find the inspiration to undertake a similar labor of love. There can be no real practical outcome of such an undertaking--if we've learned anything from the failure of Esperanto--but as a work of art, even an intellectually abstract thing can be of great beauty. And when such a creation develops into its own literature and art and culture, then it has truly taken on a life of its own. It is the child that has grown up.

It is with this hope that I share the following short poem.

The Song of Autumn -- Mellúvil sei Tweith
Mellúviel méllär mim mórǔl órdhin:
thessái eth hen sívrǔn si éslis wǔlthsem.
Mim péntumin grǘntyǔl o cént ri ǔlin
dor élgura méllath sei ráme ei twéithorn
änésslathin créskän dor thárnär thénnyǔld.
Two Verse Translations
Softly sing of withered flowers,
falling leaves and twilight hours
when all the land expectant lies
and robins hush as summer dies.
* * *
Softly sing of falling leaves,
of withered flowers, twilight hours:
the golden summer's sad demise.

Feel the stillness, frigid fall;
oh how we long the thrush's song
to hear but all is silent.
Line-by-Line Analysis (extracted from context)
1 mórǔl órdhin, anastrophe.
2 thessái, Infinitive functioning as a gerund.

Because sívrǔn follows its associated preposition, eth, hen[s] not strictly necessary except to indicate definite pronoun.

éslis wǔlthsem, Ambidirectional construction: which noun-form functions as the adjective (no adjectival suffix present). Best taken as an appositive or a kenning.

wǔlthsem, Transliterative remark: Notice absence of a stress virgule on the stressed, first syllable. The stress occurs on the diacritically marked ǔ. Rule p16.

3 grǘntyǔl [sic?], Probably a scribe's omission of the final "d". Read grǘntyǔld. This word as it appears in the original MS has however been the subject of some scholarly controversy, opponents to this erratum designation claiming that it reflects an earlier, animate concept, i.e. that the flower (actively) allows itself to wilt rather than its being (passively) wilted by the heat of the sun.

cént... ǔlin, appositive.

ri, Auxiliary introduces weak hortatory subjunctive (rhetorical imperative mood). Rule p52.

4 méllath and ráme assumed to share the same implied article. If méllath were intended to take the indiscriminate article, then the implied hens and méllath would have been substituted by melláthim. Rule p31.

Note usage of both forms of the preposition, "of": line 2, si; line 4, sei. The latter adds to the assonance in line four.

ei, Preposition for änésslathin.

twéithorn, Poetic genitive (archaic Slasing form).

5 thárnär, "In such a manner as to remain that way," although rather verbose, would be more acceptable grammatically than, "remainly". "Permanently" is perhaps too strong, too final for a word that suggests eventual continuation, renewal.

Notice that the poem begins with mellúviel ("sing") and ends on the word thénnyǔld ("silenced"): "Sing... silenced."

The compound metrical structure characteristic of Rathvardic poetry remains perfectly regular throughout, in this case a chant-like coupling of pairs of dactyls in the first hemistich of each line with pairs of trochees in the second to quicken the end of the line.

[ ˇ | -ˇˇ | -ˇˇ || -ˇ | -ˇ | ] x 5

Notice how the final trochee of each line enjambs with the initial short syllable of the next line to create an apparent dactyl to introduce the two dactyls that follow; this eases the line breaks and in doing so, syncopates the second hemistich, now with its lone, two-syllable foot.

Another noteworthy feature is the over-all architecture of the poem: in an admittedly classical sense, the poem sounds perfectly balanced and complete by the end of the fourth line. The final coda line however, suspends our anticipation until we reach the final word, thénnyǔld, "silenced", thereby increasing its effect dramatically.

Copyright © 2004 - 2011 Brian Zegarski, all rights reserved.