The verb to be in Glaubaal

Is, am, are, was, were, be. Today we look at the most irregular verb in English, its myriad used, and how to cover the vast territory it inhabits in Glaubaal constructions.

The Lands of Be

Be is a very busy word in English. It’s conquered a great deal of conceptual space, and holds it with an iron fist. While it is certainly possible to speak or write without using any of its permutations, doing so cuts off a vast array of possible utterances. I’ll give an example of a few of the constructions I can come up with for now.

  • John is a man

In this sentence, John is the subject, and a man is what is called a Predicate Nominal. They are connected together using a linking verb, one of to be‘s favorite uses. The predicate nominal can be far more complex than “a man.” For instance, “John is the one who the old man predicted was going to save us all,” has a rather complex predicate nominal. But it’s still a noun phrase being linked to another noun, and thus attached to John by the same linking verb.

Glaubaal, of course, can connect two noun phrases together. It strikes me as unlikely that any natural language would develop where such a construction was impossible. Glaubaal, however, refuses to employ a linking verb for this purpose. A literal translation of the phrase “John is a man,” using glaubaal grammar, would be “John he man.” For linking a predicate nominal to its subject, a pronoun is employed, at least in third person constructions like the ones used as an example. In the first and second person a suffix is added to the pronouns used in such constructions.

dZan dUs wog
dʒɑn dʊs ɰog
John 3 man
John is a man

  • John is tall

In this sentence we’re connecting the subject, John, to an adjective called a Predicate Adjective. English likes us to employ to be again for this construction. Note that unlike the predicate nominal, the predicate adjective doesn’t take an article. The a in our first example is not only marking the indefiniteness of the noun, but also forcing us to interpret what follows as a noun instead of an adjective. In Glaubaal the pronoun fulfills this role, but when linking a noun and an adjective this marker is unnecessary.

Glaubaal’s method of conveying a predicate adjective makes use of a null copula. This means that no link is needed between the noun and its adjective. John is tall would translate directly to “John tall.”

dZan tul
dʒɑn tul
John tall
John is tall

  • I am ashGlaw

Names are important. They give us a means of identifying ourselves and others, and they help us establish our idea of self. English comfortably uses to be for this purpose as well, but Glaubaal has a very specific construction for this idea in the first person.

In the third person this would probably be taken as any other predicate nominal. For example, “this is tall John” would equate to “this he John tall.” But if you were asked your name the construction differs. Whereas I would reply “I am ashGlaw” in English, in Glaubaal the utterance would be “ashGlaw awng.” The end of that sentence, awng, could be translated to “I am called,” but it’s not a literal translation at all.

To be honest, I don’t know what part of speech this word even is. The phrase is very fossilized, possibly existing as a contraction of a much longer, but no longer used utterance. It’s only used in the first person, but use of any other phrase to offer your name to others isn’t idiomatic. You can convey the idea without it, but you sound weird if you do.

  • The book is on the table

Much like the earlier constructions, this use of to be is linking a noun with something. In this case it’s a Predicate Locative, a noun phrase that deals with location. These constructions are dealt with differently than the predicate nominal, however.

In these cases a linking verb is used. Unlike English, there isn’t just one verb, though. Depending on the subject of the sentence the linking verb can vary greatly. What they all have in common, however, is that they’re verbs which deal with position. For example, to stand, or to rest.

Urg grIzO dozap
ʊɻg gɻɪzə ˈdoz.ɑp
book rest.3 table.on
The book rests on the table

  • There are people who agree with me

Here we’re talking about existence. The example sentence is intended to inform a listener as to the existence of a group of people, who presumably the listener can’t simply observe for themselves. English happily uses to be for this task, and this is perhaps the most prototypical usage of the word. To be is to exist, after all. Glaubaal has a verb which conveys extence, and this is the only construction in which it is used.

dUv jisO, tolf amat krujAZO IzIf
dʊv jisə, tolf ɑmɑt kɻu.jæ.ʒə ɪz.ɪf
3.PL exist.3, person.PL REL.what agree.3 1.with
They exist, people who agree with me


Small Translation Challenge

This is a short, one-sided dialogue I wrote, translated, and glossed. The top line of each sentence is in Glaubaal’s script. The line below that is transliterated in the International Phonetic Alphabet. The third line is the gloss, and the fourth is a translation in English.

The sentences were chosen to illustrate grammatical features, and to flow as natural speech, as opposed to a more formal register.

molat, aS kobIb nar.
molat      ɑʃ     ko.vɪb              nɑɻ
Greeting one know.STATE NEG
Hello, stranger.

jarSkOS tab fep.
jɑɻʃkəʃ tɑb fep
See.1 2    there
I see you there.

hilOx gIh aG Iv glawOS gIm.
hiləx     gɪh   ɑɣ    ɪv     glɑɰəʃ   gɪm
come.2 here and 1-PL speak.1 can
Come here, and we can speak.

mas hilOx pelam Ivgors?
mɑs  hiləx   ˈpe.lɑm ɪv.goɻs
Why come2 land     1-PL.POS.through
Why do you come to our land?

tolf ali nar tukO gIhors.
tolf             ɑli       nɑɻ    tukə        gɪ.hoɻs
person.PL many NEG travel.3 here.through
Not many people travel through here.

reN GeSOS tuk stofIb nar poS honOx him hAd Izem
ɻeŋ ɣe.ʃəʃ   tuk      sto.fɪb                 nɑɻ    poʃ   ho.nəx   him   hæd  ɪz.em
If    seek.2 travel trouble.STATE NEG then swear.2 must oath 1.BENE
If you seek safe travel then you must swear an oath to me.

glawOx tus Izem
glɑɰəx   tus   ɪzem
Speak.2 this 1.BENE
Say this to me:

senkOx pir aSnarg frItOS pelam tagiS
sen.kəx piɻ   ɑʃ.nɑɻg fɻɪ.təʃ   pe.lɑm tɑ.giʃ
Harm.1 shall noone what meet.1 land
I shall harm none that I meet in your land,

loraGOS pir temvUf tafob amat frItOS
lo.ˈɾɑ.ɣəʃ piɻ    tem.vʊf  tɑf.ob     ɑmɑt fɻɪtəʃ
Honor.1  shall wish.PL those.of what  meet.1
I shall honor the wishes of those that I meet,

vovOS pir stIS narg tukf Izgob, pOm kivUf bil.
vo.vəʃ    piɻ     stɪʃ    nɑɻg  tukf         ɪzg.ob      pəm    ki.vʊf      bɪl
Leave.1 shall mark none travel.PL 1.POS.of except track.PL foot
I shall leave no trace of my travels, save footprints

xlor tusem bel tag helO pir Iz Sorstat
xloɻ  tu.sem       bel     tɑg      he.lə     piɻ    ɪz ʃoɻs.tɑt
care this.BENE blood 2.POS allow.3 shall 1  pass.INF
For this care, your blood shall allow me to pass.

lor moj lASpOS tus vik tagawb
loɻ      moj  læʃ.pəʃ tus  vik    tɑ.gɑɰb
Good now wear.1 this  neck 2.POS.around
Good. Now, wear this around your neck.

tus itarSk jIrSk Izg amat hAdOx Ivem aG frakO tab dIfkOm
tus i.ˈtɑɻʃ.kə   jɪɻʃk  ɪzg      ɑmɑt hæ.dəx ɪ.vem          ɑɣ    fɻɑ.kə   tɑb ˈdɪf.kəm
This show.3  clan 1.POS what swear.2 1.PL.BENE, and bring.3 2      safety
This shows my clan that you swear to us, and brings you safety.

bisO tab dalwIst ag dovn Ivgem.
bisə       tab dɑl.ˈɰɪst   ɑg   dov.n̩         ɪv.gem
Grant.3 2     hospitality and protection 1.PL.POS.BENE
It entitles you to our hospitality and protection.

mesOx Iv mor kopat dUs viShu aG tfan tag hilOx dUsIf
me.səx  ɪv     moɻ       ko.pɑt      dʊs  viʃhu   ɑɣ   tfɑn   tɑg       hi.ləx   dʊ.sɪf
Give.2   1.PL reason take.INF  it     again and head 2.POS come3 3.with
Give us cause to take it again, and your head comes with it.

grakOx? lor
gɻɑkəx            loɻ
understand.2 proper
You understand? Good.

vovOx gIm
vo.vəx   gɪm
Leave.2 may
You may leave.

tukOx dIfkalt
tuˈ.kəx dɪf.ˈkɑlt
travel.2 safely
Travel safely.

jelGOS iraSkiS Ivg
jel.ɣəʃ    i.ˈɾɑʃ.kiʃ       ɪvg
Suffer.1 watch.IMP 2.PL.POS
You suffer our watching.

molat, aS hAdIb
molɑt       ɑʃ    hæd.ɪb
Goodbye one swear.STATE
Goodbye, sworn one.

gimbOS fUh amat GeSOS
gɪm.bəʃ fʊh      ɑmɑt  ɣe.ʃəʃ
Find.1   HORT what  seek.1
May you find what you seek.