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