The Basics of D'ni Grammar

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The following article is written from an In-Cavern (IC) perspective. All fictional events should be considered real.

D'ni (D'nE) is not an Earth language, but because the D'ni are so similar to humans physically and mentally, their language has similarities to some of our native tongues.

D'ni is often compared with Hebrew, since the two languages have similar characters and sounds. But there are many differences, with the most obvious being that D'ni is written left to right, unlike Hebrew.

The D'ni alphabet has 24 characters, but there are more than 24 consonants. These are created by adding indicator marks to a letter. For instance, the character for a "v" sound (v) is the same character for a "b" (b), only the "b" has a dot over it. Generally, any consonant without a dot is a fricative, meaning it's produced by air pressing continually between the tongue and lips. A consonant with a dot over it contains a stop, meaning that the air is cut off. In the case of a dotted "v," the air is stopped by the lips. By adding indicators to their vowels, the six D'ni vowel letters are expanded to eleven vowel sounds in their spoken language.

D'ni follows a familiar noun-verb structure. Adjectives follow the nouns they modify. Adverbs follow the verbs they modify. Quantifiers such as "very," "extremely," and "really," which add emphasis to phrases, are indicated by numbers from one to twenty-five. The higher the number, the stronger is the emphasis. For example, the phrase "I am a little tired" in D'ni becomes, literally, "I am tired to two." "I am very tired" would be, "I am tired to twenty." To exaggerate something, the D'ni would use a number over twenty-five. "I am incredibly tired," in D'ni could be written or spoken as, "I am tired to thirty."

There are a number of important prefixes and suffixes in D'ni. Verbs use a suffix to indicate both number and person (this is similar to Spanish). For example, the D'ni word for eat is "rees" (rEs), which is the form it takes when you say "I eat." The suffix "en" (en) is added to indicate that he, she, or it eats; "rees-en" (rEsen). "They eat" uses the suffix "eet" (Et); "rees-eet" (rEsEt). "We eat" uses "et" (et); "rees-et" (rEset). "You eat" (singular) uses "em" (em); "rees-em" (rEsem). "You eat" (plural) uses "tee" (tE); "rees-tee" (rEstE). You can change this phrase to a command by adding the additional suffix "ah" (a). To order an individual to eat, you would say, "rees-em-ah!" (rEsema)

Verbs use a prefix to indicate the past, present, and future. To say that you have finished eating, the phrase is "ko-rees" (KorEs). To say that you are currently eating, the phrase is "do-rees" (DorEs). To say that you will eat later, the phrase is "bo-rees" (borEs). Other forms of the prefix are:

  • kodo (KoDo) (past progressive): kodo-rees (KoDorEs) (I was eating)
  • le (le) (perfect): le-rees (lerEs) (I have eaten)
  • kol (Kol) (past perfect): kol-rees (KolrEs) (I had eaten)
  • bodo (boDo) (future progressive): bodo-rees (boDorEs) (I will be eating)
  • boko (boKo) (future perfect): boko-rees (boKorEs) (I will have eaten)
  • bodol (boDol) (future perfect progressive): bodol-rees (boDolrEs) (I will have been eating)

Other common prefixes are "re" (re) for "the." The D'ni word for "book" is "kor" (Kor), so to indicate "the book," the phrase is "re-kor" (reKor). The word "and" is "ga" (ga), so to indicate "and the book," you would say "ga-re-kor" (gareKor).

Suffixes can indicate ideas such as plural and possession. To make a noun plural, add "tee" (tE) to the end. The work for "books" is "kor-tee" (KortE). To indicate possession, add the suffix "okh" (ok), which roughly corresponds to "of." The phrase "Gehn's book," in D'ni is structured "book of Gehn," and is written, "kor-okh Gehn" (Korok gen).

An adjective, such as "garo" (garo) ("mighty"), can be changed to a noun with the suffix "th" (T), as in "Garoth" (garoT) (Mighty One). You can change the same adjective into an adverb with the suffix "sh" (S); "garosh" (garoS), as in "mightily."

There is also a special set of characters called the "Garo-hevtee" (garohevtE), meaning "Great Words." These symbolize important ideas of groups of words, and are used when writing Ages and Linking Books.