Sehimu Thinara: Advanced

Grammatical sketch by Mark Rosenfelder as of 12 Mar 2013

This document is an overview of Sehimu Thinara (aka ST). It’s not a set of lessons, but I’ve tried to explain things starting with the basics, leaving ‘stuff you don’t need at first’ for the later sections. If you’ve never read something like this, take your time. You may have the experience that it all makes sense and you think you’re remembering it all, and then suddenly it becomes baffling. At that point, take a break, or re-read the earlier sections.

ST is not difficult, but it is a different language with its own logic, and it takes time to learn a new language. It also helps if you try out the language! Read it out loud. Share it with other players. The ST forums can be used to practice.

Phonology Consonants

Here are the consonants of Sehimu Thinara in the phonological grid used by linguists.

labial dental /alveolar retroflex velar glottal
stops p b t d k g
fricatives f v th s z sh zh kh h
nasals m n
liquids l r
semivowels w y

Almost all of these sounds are pronounced as they are in English. The laws of magick are not picky about precise places of articulation, so long as the sounds are kept distinct.

The only unfamiliarities may be:

Zh, the sound of s in measure, or the French j in bonjour.
Kh, the sound of ch in German Bach or Scots loch. If you have trouble, place your tongue in the position to pronounce k and breathe out hard; this raspy sound is kh.

Some warnings, though:

G is always hard, as in get; it never has a j sound as in germ.
Th is always unvoiced, as in thin, never voiced as in this.
• Likewise, S is always unvoiced, as in boss, never voiced as in rose. The voiced sound is always written z.
• Very occasionally the sounds s and h adjoin. This produces no confusion in the ST alphabet, but in romanization it looks like sh. To prevent mispronunciation, we insert a hyphen, as in as-ham ‘cruel’. This is pronounced as-ham, not ash-am.
H can end a syllable, as in sahme ‘fail’. We’re not used to this in English, but it’s not hard to say at all— try it! If you know Spanish, this is like the word reloj ‘clock’.


The vowels have the continental values found in Spanish, Italian, or Japanese:

a like a in father, taco, small— never as in mate
e like e in bet
i like i in machine, Akiko, macaroni— never as in mite
o like o in hotel, taco, piano— not as in hot
u like u in haiku, tiramisù— not as in mutt

They retain their values in diphthongs: ay sounds like our word I; aw sounds like the vowel in house.

Two vowels in a row should be pronounced as separate syllables: khaif ‘die’ is pronounced kha-eef.

A vowel can be lengthened, as in na-th ‘weave’. Pronounce this simply by lengthening the vowel: na-ath. The – symbol imitates the symbol used in the ST alphabet.

English speakers are notorious for their muddied vowels. We’re always adding a w or y sound to vowels or reducing them to shwa (the weak uh sound at the end of China). Try to avoid this in ST! Pronounce vowels with a clear, pure sound, especially at the ends of words. Thinara ‘knowledge’ is pronounced thee-NAH-rah, not thuh-NARR-ruh.


The laws of magick do not care much about stress, but ST scholars prefer to stress the next-to-last syllable.

Thus sehimu thinara ‘hidden knowledge’ is pronounced se-HI-mu thi-NA-ra.

Recall that two vowels in a row are separate syllables; so yauna ‘five’ is pronounced ya-U-na.

Try to end syllables with a vowel: say thi-NA-ra, not thin-AR-a.

The apostrophe

The apostrophe isn’t a sound, but a separator. A word like ya’me-sa ‘show’ is pronounced exactly as if it were written yame-sa. However, the apostrophe tells you that it’s made of two parts, the prefix ya and the root me-sa. So you would look for it in the lexicon under me-sa.

As we’ll see, ST verbs can have multiple prefixes— e.g. ur’va’ya’me-sa ‘not going to show’. This would be much more difficult and confusing if we wrote urvayame-sa!

Prefixes don’t count as separate words for the purpose of stress. Ur’va’ya’me-sa just has one accented syllable (me). However, Magi may put a light secondary stress on the first syllable.


The majority of the vocabulary is organized by roots, each of which is a combination of three letters which usually belong to the same sphere.

Bio rufekh f kh r sh
Forces geytu g k t y
Matter dapvo d p v z
Mind he-sos h m s u
Quantum bowazh b o w zh
Soul eline i l n th

The word for these spheres in ST is zokrul, which you’ll notice has one sound from each of the six spheres (and also has the meaning ‘six’). There are roots that belong to multiple spheres; these generally have less magickal power.

Cluster patterns

Given a root CCC, there will be four basic words formed with different vowel patterns:

Basic root CvCvC
Short root CvvC
Alt 1 CCvC
Alt 2 CvCC

These words will all be related in meaning, though the connections may be subtle or metaphorical. The basic root is the closest to a common meaning for the root. The short root uses only two of the three consonants. In compensation it has two vowels. It’s generally a common, simple term.

Here’s some examples using the roots Kh F R, Y G T, and P Z V:

Basic root khafur decay yegot protect pazev make
Short root khaif die yaug build ziva part
Alt 1 okhfor dissolve aygit defense apzev abyss
Alt 2 khufra rot yegtu field pazvu spike


A basic feature of the roots is that reversing them changes to an opposite meaning, or at least a complementary one. Some examples:

ketig fire gitek ice
devop acid poved base
fekhar woman rakhef man
sauhu war uhuas peace
inith create thini destroy
zhowa circle awozh point
pivda easy avdip difficult

We’ll see the same principle used in other areas, such as numbers and locators.

Derivational morphology

ST has a rich system for creating related words from a root.

Part of speech change

The easiest English gloss for an ST root may be a noun or a verb. But it may be best to think of the roots as verbs— in particular, imperatives. That’s why they work as spells: they are instructions to the laws of magick.

To form an abstract noun, add –a, or if the root ends in a vowel, –ra.

agyek shatter agyeka shattering
gayit move gayita motion
shurkhe adapt shurkhera adaptation
viaz serve viaza service
thina know thinara knowledge
bazhew attune bazhewa attunement

To form an adjective, add –i, or after a vowel, –li.

bawazh time bawazhi temporal
fekhar woman fekhari womanly, feminine
gitek ice giteki icy
taug star taugi stellar
nautho universe nautholi cosmic, universal
eline spirit elineli spiritual

For verbs, the –i form has an active meaning:

sahme fail sahmeli failing, unsuccessful
ketig fire ketigi burning, on fire
shakher gestate shakheri gestating, pregnant
sehim hide sehimi hiding, deceptive

An alternative adjective –u has a passive meaning:

sahme fail sahmelu failed
ketig fire ketigu burnt
shakher gestate shakheru being gestated, fetal
sehim hide sehimu hidden

The prefix ya forms a causative:

me-sa see ya’me-sa show
dauv pure ya’dauv purify
vaped weak ya’vaped weaken

Lin ‘more’ and nil ‘less’ form comparatives with adjectives, and with verbs, a form of causative specifying relative quantity:

ketig fire lin’ketig increase the fire
nil’ketig lessen the fire
vi-r young lin’vi-r younger
nil’vi-r older

Simple variations

A diminutive can be formed by replacing one or more vowels with i:

fekhar woman fikhir girl
gitek ice gitik frost
devop acidic divip sour
aktaug sun aktig moon
ketig fire kitig flame
bewa minute biwa second

Likewise, an augmentative is formed by replacing the main vowel with au (to reinforce this, another vowel may change to o):

renakhaf father reunakhof grandfather
rafash sickness rafaush contagion
sahu combat sauhu war
vidza steam vaudza smoke

An intensive can be formed by repeating the middle consonant at the end.

ze-d noise ze-dad cacophony
aygat throw aygatag fling
hadamu take hadamud grasp
semaha forget semaham amnesia

The prefix ur is something like our –less: it specifies a lack of the action or object in question.

roshakh blood ur’roshakh anemia
za-d water ur’za-d dehydrate
fa-r sex ur’fa-r chastity
vedaz air ur’vedaz asphyxiate

There are a number of short roots than can act as prefixes. Often the resulting combination is somewhat simplified.

za-d water + ranfash parasite = zadrafash leech
za-d water + khaif die = zakhaif drown
ra(khef) male + ri-kh sibling = rari-kh brother
ra(khef) male + fior child = rafior son
zho: again + fi-kh born = zhofi-kh reborn
rug down + zhew press = ruzhew pull

Sphere-letter derivations

For any word formed with the above rules, variations can be formed by adding another syllable, normally after the first consonant. The syllables themselves belong to a sphere, with the following meanings:

Syllable Examples
da object fikhir girl fidakhir breast
gayit move gadayit vehicle
du substance taug star taudug hydrogen
shufekh alert shedufekh adrenaline
na person rakhef man renakhaf father
shakher gestate shanakher mother
bo-w cast (a spell) bonaw Magi
bo place ketig fire kebotig hell
ketga nuclear force kebotga nucleus
to object shakher gestate shatokher cocoon
na-th weave na-toth loom
ke force usam touch ukesam shock
vedaz air vekedaz radiate
r biological vepaz guard vrepaz pet
vedaz air vredaz oxygen
so speech sehme rage sesohme scream
inith create sinith speak
hu emotion thelna good thehulna happy
yegot protect yehugot care for

Note that derived words can be modified in turn:

shanakher mother -i shanakheri motherly
vedaz air + ke vedekaz radiate
ukesam shock dimin. ukisim spark
renakhaf father augm. reunakhof grandfather
shubofekh brain + ur ur’shubofekh lobotomy

Categories in ST

A root in ST often covers a wide range of words in English. Sometimes this is due to the tendency of English to borrow indiscriminately— e.g. we have ‘solitary’ and ‘alone’, both of which can be expressed by masu; or ‘sickness, illness, disease’, all of which are expressed as rafash.

But often it’s because ST is not designed for humans, and thus doesn’t have separate roots for distinctions that humans find important. E.g. shifra, which you’ll see in many of my examples as the word for ‘dog’, really means any canine animal, including wolves, foxes, jackals, and coyotes.

If you need to be more specific, there are often conventional adjectives— e.g. dogs as opposed to other canines are ur’sha-ri shifra, literally un-wild canines.

Basic command syntax

ST is optimized for spellcasting; the simplest sentence is thus an imperative addressed to the laws of magick.


Any root alone forms a command, which is why it can be used as a spell.

Such commands can be understood as having default role assignments:
• The subject is the Magi (spellcaster).
• The object is ‘you’, the victim of the spell— normally, whatever the Magi is concentrating on.

Some roots are inherently reflexive— they act on the Magi.
• The default time is immediately; the default duration depends on the semantics of the root but is normally short.

If the root is inherently nominal, the implication is “use the thing in the normal way”. Examples:

afkher dwarf make smaller
gitek ice freeze
othaun void destroy

This varies by root, and it’s idiomatic. The default action is of course whatever is described on the associated card.

The English gloss for some roots is an adjective, e.g. ge-k ‘cold’ or su-ho ‘empty’. As spells these mean ‘be cold’, ‘be empty’.


The aspect particle bab may be used to specify the duration of a spell. The word itself is modified to indicate the precise timing:

bab default duration (useful for cancelling a previous spell)
ba start the action and don’t stop
ab stop the action
baba repeat the action at intervals

(This is the intention of the Magi; whether they have the power to do it is another question. E.g. you may not be able to put another person on fire permanently using ba ketig ‘fire’.)

The duration can be affected by changing the vowel:

bib shorter than usual
ba-b longer than usual
baub quite a bit longer than usual


As we’ve seen, ab can be used to stop a spell. To prevent it from being cast, use kas, which can be translated ‘do not’.

Thus a basic protection against fire is.

kas ketig.
Kas ketig.
ASPECT.prevent fire
Prevent fire.

(Note that kas combines the ideas of force k and mind s.)

If another Magi has begun a spell, you can use wo-b (the opposite of bo-w ‘cast’) to counter it.

If they’ve already cast the spell, you must recognize what it is, and explicitly end it or dispel it; e.g.

ab ketig.
Ab ketig.
ASPECT.stop fire
Stop fire.

[using the ‘ending’ aspect particle]

ketig Tolon.
Ketig tholon.
fire dispel
Dispel the fire.

[using the verb ‘dispel’]

Explicit objects

One or more objects can be specified before the verb.

We’ll see below how noun phrases work; for now we’ll just focus on definite nouns— which happen to be bare roots. For instance:

afKer lo Sifra ba ketig.
Afkher lo shifra ba ketig.
dwarf and canine ASPECT.start fire.
Set the dwarf and the dog on fire.

This sentence assumes that the laws of magick can easily identify which dwarf and which dog are meant. There may be only one of each in the vicinity, or the Magi has already specified which ones are meant.

Don’t leave out the conjunction lo, because then the object would be afkher shifra— which means a dwarf dog, perhaps a chihuahua.

You can use the conjunction utan ‘or’, but the laws of magick will then make a random choice.

Noun phrases

Let’s talk more about noun phrases.

For spellcasting, noun phrases are used to specify a precise referent. Consider the laws of physics to be pedantic and unimaginative: you must apply the rules precisely.

ST is consistently head-final. That is, for any type of phrase, the modifiers come first, then the thing modified. For a noun phrase, that means the noun comes last.

(It normally does in English, but there are exceptions.)

NP order

An indefinite (descriptive) noun phrase has the following order:


The simplest locators are just demonstratives. There is a three-way distinction:

nis these (near the Magi)
nes those (close by)
naut those (farther away)

You can also read these as “here”, “there”, and “yonder”.

If there are three dogs in the area, you can distinguish them by distance:
nis shifra this dog
nes shifra that (nearish) dog
naut shifra that dog (way over there)

These can also refer to clumps of dogs. So if there are two dogs near you and five dogs farther off, nis shifra means ‘these dogs’.

Quantifiers specify how many things to operate on. The ordinary quantifiers are:

hizh none
hur some
kaush many
saukh all

Numerals (e.g. sar ‘one’, yezh ‘two’, vis ‘three’) are also quantifiers, and are more useful in spellcasting.

ST doesn’t have plurals— if you need to specify that you’re referring to more than one of a thing, you use a quantifier.

Hur always means ‘more than one’. If you mean some part of something, use ziva ‘part’ instead— e.g. ziva shifra ‘part of the dog’.

Quantifiers can be used in two ways:
• To help specify which group you mean. Suppose again that there are various clumps of dogs in the area. Just using demonstratives isn’t clear enough, but expressions like these are precise:
nis sar shifra this one dog
nes vis shifra those two dogs not far away
naut yezh shifra those three dogs farther off
• To specify a choice among referents. If there are three dogs nearby, then nis sar shifra means ‘one of the dogs near me’.

The laws of magick will randomly choose according to your quantifier. You could also say just vis shifra to mean that two of the dogs in the area are to be affected, or hur shifra ‘some dogs’ to refer to an unspecified number.

The default quantifier is saukh ‘all’ (which means it can be left out in imperatives).

In non-imperative statements, quantifiers are used as in English— i.e., you might say that hur shifra ‘some of the dogs’ were barking.

Adjectives can be used to pick out more precise referents:
zhowali yaubog a circular building
khaifi fekhar a dead woman
za-di shifra a wet dog


Using a noun alone indicates that the listener— whether it’s a person or the laws of magick— can identify which one you mean. That is, a bare noun is equivalent to using the definite article ‘the’.

Thus shifra ketig means ‘set the dog on fire.’

A longer, descriptive noun phrase is used when you are specifying or introducing a referent. This corresponds to using the indefinite article ‘a(n)’. So you might have a command like

nis vis za-di Sifra ketig.
Nis vis za-di shifra ketig.
these two water canine fire.
Set these two wet dogs on fire.

If you want to do something else to them, the root is enough:

Sifra tagko.
Shifra tagko.
canine lightning
Hit the dogs with lightning.

Personal pronouns

You can also use a pronoun. There are six basic pronouns, one for each sphere:

quantum ezh
soul (including people) el
mind em
bi0logical er
force ek
matter ez

The general rule is, whatever word you’re thinking of, you use the pronoun belonging to its sphere.

For instance, shifra ‘dog’ is biological, so its pronoun is er. So you can also cast the above spell as

er tagko.
Er tagko. lightning
Hit them with lightning.

The pronoun el can be used for any sentient being— humans and up— even if you originally referred to them with a word from another sphere, like sanahu ‘soldier’.

If a root doesn’t belong to a sphere (e.g. imito ‘box’), use ez. (Except for people, who are always el.)

There’s also a second person pronoun esa. This should never be used when casting a spell, because you’re not addressing a person, but the laws of magick.

When a Magi is giving commands, he is of course the subject— there is normally no need to refer to himself, and thus there is no first person pronoun. Bonaw ‘the Magi’ takes the place of ‘I/me’ in narrative.

If a spell is normally offensive, you need a special instruction if you want to apply it reflexively, to yourself. For this you can use the argument ezhow ‘self’:

eZow ketig.
Ezhow ketig.
self fire.
Set me on fire.

None of these pronouns have plural forms.

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns can be formed using the quantifiers plus once of the sphere syllables, which we also met in derivational morphology:

da object, thing saukhda everything
na person hizhna no one
bo place sarbo in one place
to manner, tool hurto in some way
ba time kaushba at many times

Here’s the full set:

hizh none
da hizhda nothing
na hizhna no one
bo hizhbo nowhere
to hizhto no way
ba hizhba never
sar one
da sarda one thing
na sarna one person
bo sarbo in one place
to sarto in one way
ba sarba once
hur some
da hurda something
na hurna someone
bo sarbo somewhere
to hurto somehow
ba hurba sometimes
kaush many
da kaushda many things
na kaushna many people
bo kaushbo in many places
to kaushto in many ways
ba kaushba at many times
saukh all
da saukhda everything
na saukhna everyone
bo saukhbo everywhere
to saukhto in every way
ba saukhba always


Although ST is designed for casting spells, it can be used like any language, to describe events, tell stories, ask questions, write manuals, gossip, etc.

Elements common to imperatives are the same, but we’ll need some extra concepts.


It would be embarrassing to be talking about the dog and accidentally set it on fire. The most important thing in using ST narratively is to tell the laws of magick that you’re not giving a command.

This is done with a verbal prefix that also indicates tense and mood.

Actual events (realis)
u’ present
me(h)’ past perfective
is’ past imperfect
va’ future
Possible events (irrealis)
yau’ present or future
nai’ past

(Use me’ before a consonant and meh’ before a vowel.)

The imperfect is used like the English progressive, to indicate that an action was in progress.

There’s no present progressive— u’go-t means both ‘falls’ and ‘is falling’.

The irrealis is used when the event is doubtful or hypothetical. Note that fewer distinctions are made in the irrealis.

(If these terms seem difficult, just focus on the ‘real’ part. Use the realis when the even really happened. Use the irrealis when there’s something unreal about it— you’re not sure it happened, or it’s a supposition or a counterfactual.)


Shifra u’ketig. The dog is on fire.
Shifra me’go-t. The dog fell.
Fior is’go-t. The child was falling.
Rari-kh va’ketig. (My) brother will be on fire.
Shifra yau’ketig. The dog may be on fire.
Shifra nai’go-t. The dog might have fallen.

You can add the aspect particle bab as well, in all its variants:

Sifra baba me’ketig.
Shifra baba me’ketig.
canine ASPECT.repeat PAST-fire.
The dog kept getting on fire.
rari-K ab va’go-t.
Rari-kh ab va’go-t.
brother ASPECT.stop FUTURE-fire.
My brother will stop falling.
niKif ba yau’KafuS.
Nikhif ba yau’khafush.
boy ASPECT.start IRR-fire.
The boy may have fallen asleep (i.e., started sleeping).

The tense particles may be used with the adjective endings (active –i, passive –u). Compare:

el ez me’hamsa he wrote it
me’hamsalu written
ez meh’okhfor it dissolved
meh’okhforu dissolved
el ez u’hamsa he is writing it
u’hamsali writing
yau’hamsali possibly writing

These adjectivizations can be used as more precise participles.


The prefix ur’ negates a verb:

Sifra ur’u’ketig.
Shifra ur’u’ketig.
canine NOT-PRES-fire.
The dog isn’t on fire.
Sifra lo aSfer ur’yau’nilan.
Shifra lo ashfer ur’yau’nilan.
canine and cat NOT-IRR-hate.
The dog and the cat may not hate each other.

To specify that an object was not involved, use the quantifier hizh ‘none’:

hiZ Sifra u’ketig.
Hizh shifra u’ketig.
none dog PRES-fire.
No dog is on fire.

In negative sentences, the realis is used for relative certainty: you’re quite sure that the dog isn’t on fire. The irrealis suggests that you don’t know:

Sifra ur’yau’ketig.
Shifra ur’yau’ketig.
dog NOT-IRR-fire.
The dog may not be on fire.

Subjects and objects

A descriptive sentence, unlike a command, can have multiple arguments.

A transitive sentence ideally follows this form:

subject an’object verb

Sifra an’aSfer me’Sarfa.
Shifra an’ashfer me’sharfa.
dog SEP-cat PAST-seize.
The dog seized the cat.

The particle an separates subject and object. It’s attached to the first word of the object NP. If you just said shifra ashfer this would be interpreted as a single object— a doglike cat.

A pronoun replaces an entire NP, so it’s always clear that it’s not connected to the previous NP. Thus an is optional with pronouns:

Sifra er me’Sarfa.
Shifra er me’sharfa.
dog PAST-seize.
The dog seized it.
Sifra an’er me’Sarfa.
Shifra an’er me’sharfa.
dog PAST-seize.
The dog seized it.

Verbs with a single argument are a little trickier, but the default interpretation is that it’s the object that’s given, just as in a command. Compare:

Sifra ketig!
Shifra ketig!
dog fire!
Set the dog on fire!
Sifra me’ketig.
Shifra me’ketig.
dog PAST-fire.
The dog was set on fire.

If you only want to give the subject, you can use a dummy object like hurda ‘something’:

feKar an’hurda me’ketig.
Fekhar an’hurda me’ketig.
woman SEP-something PAST-fire.
The woman set something on fire.

To be

The general word for ‘be’ is abu. For instance:

esa Sifra u’abu.
Esa shifra u’abu.
you dog PRES-be.
You are a dog.
Sifra an’Safar u’abu.
Shifra an’shafar u’abu.
dog SEP-animal PRES-be.
A dog is an animal.
raKef an’neloTi is’abu.
Rakhef an’nelothi is’abu.
man SEP-power-ADJ IMPERF-be.
The man was powerful.

In commands, including spells, you use the raw adjective, not abu:

el neloTi!
El nelothi!
PRO.soul IMPERF-be!
Make him powerful!

To say that something exists, use rinith ‘live’ for living beings, or ibanith ‘exist’ generally:

Sifra u’riniT.
Shifra u’rinith.
dog PRES-exist.
The dog lives (exists).
weZab va’ibanT!
Wezhab va’ibanith!
chaos FUTURE-exist!
Chaos will exist!

As shown, these verbs should be used when we’d say “There is…”

Yes/no questions

The suffix (s)um (related to umi ‘false) can be used to question an element within a sentence:

Sifra’sum u’ketig?
Shifra’sum u’ketig?
dog-QUES PRES-fire?
Is it the dog that’s on fire?
za-di’sum Sifra u’ketig?
Za-di’sum shifra u’ketig?
water-QUES dog PRES-fire?
Is it the dog that’s on fire?

To question the whole sentence, append haisum (literally ‘true-false’), and use the irrealis since the action is in doubt:

Sifra yau’ketig haisum?
Shifra yau’ketig haisum?
dog IRR-fire truefalse?
Is the dog on fire?

The answer is hais ‘yes, true’ or umi ‘no, false’.

This can be combined with the negation prefix ur:

Sifra ur’yau’ketig haisum?
Shifra ur’yau’ketig haisum?
dog NOT-IRR-fire truefalse?
Isn’t the dog on fire?

Wh: questions

Interrogative pronouns are formed like indefinite pronouns, using the special root tu:

tuda what (object)?
tuna who?
tubo where?
tuto how?
tuke why?

In English we move the interrogative to the beginning of the sentence, but this isn’t done in ST. Examples:

tuna u’KafuS?
Tuna u’khafush?
who PRES-sleep?
Who is sleeping?
esa an’tuna u’abu?
Esa an’tuna u’abu?
you SEP-who PRES-be?
Who are you?
esa tubo u’riniT?
Esa tubo u’rinith?
you where PRES-exist?
Where do you live?
sanahu an’tuda me’me-sa?
Sanahu an’tuda me’me-sa?
soldier SEP-what PAST-see?
What did the soldier see?
tuna an’zuvad me’me-sa?
Tuna an’zuvad me’me-sa?
who SEP-explosion PAST-see?
Who saw the explosion?
esa er tuba me’me-sa?
Esa er tuba me’me-sa?
you PRON-bio when PAST-see?
When did you see it?
Sifra tuto ebya u’riniT?
Shifra tuto ebya u’rinith?
dog how still PRES-exist
How is the dog still alive?
esa ez tuke ez’haim?
Esa ez tuke ez’haim?
you it why PAST-eat
Why did you eat it?

All these examples use the realis, meaning that we assume the event really happened and we are just probing for details. If you use the irrealis, you doubt the event in some way:

tuna yau’ketig?
Tuna yau’ketig?
who IRR-exist
Who, if anyone, is on fire?
esa bo:wa tubo nai’Tanalan?
Esa bo:wa tubo nai’thanalan?
you magic where PAST.IRR-learn
Where did you learn magic (if you did)?

Just by using the irrealis, the last example turns into an insult (you may have not learned magic at all).


As subjects are normally optional, first and second person pronouns aren’t usually necessary. However, use esa ‘you’ as necessary:

esa an’nis Sifra yau’me-sa haisum?
Esa an’nis shifra yau’me-sa haisum?
you SEP-this dog IRR-see truefalse?
Do you see this dog?

Usually you can just leave out any reference to ‘I, me’, as it’ll be obvious:

sar Srif u’me-sa.
Sar shrif u’me-sa.
one bird PRES-see?
(I) see a bird.

If there’s confusion (e.g. you’ve been using other pronouns), you can use bonaw ‘the Magi’ or ezhow ‘self’. Or even nis ezhow ‘this self’, which can’t be confused with anything else.

Adepts in ST say that one should never say ‘we’, as the referent is unclear: your school, your family, the two of us, or what? To say ‘you and I’ you can use the explicit bonaw lo esa, which has a conventional abbreviation lwesa.

It’s sometimes useful to refer to the opposite of ‘you’— ase ‘everyone but you’.


The locative particles can be used as prefixes to a single noun:
The whole expression may be used to modify either a verb or another noun:

imi’yegtu freKro
imi’yegtu frekhro
in-field tree
the tree in the field
Sen’aSfer sauhu
shen’ashfer sauhu
of-cats war
the war of the cats
el imi’yegtu me’gayit.
El imi’yegtu me’gayit.
PRON.soul in-field PAST-go
He/she went into the field.

Nouns always live at the end of a noun phrase in ST. In English we put the locative phrase after the noun; in ST it comes before it.You can’t apply the locators as prefixes to a multi-word construction (a noun phrase). Instead, you must use the head-final construction with the locator at the end:

za-di Sifra zaS
za-di shifra zash
water dog nextto
next to the wet dog
yeZ ur’fa-nar zema
yezh ur’fa-nar zema
two NOT-lover like
like two virgins

Linguists call these postpositions, as opposed to Englishs’ preprepositions that go before their NP. I’ve used locator as a friendlier term.A list of all the locators:
Each of the locators can be formed into a verb of motion using the suffix gi (related to gayit ‘move’). E.g.:
In addition, the suffix –wo turns them into verbs of placement:PossessivesThe locator shen can be used to indicate possession:

Sen’fior Sifra
shen’fior shifra
of-child dog
the child’s dog

Rather than say shen’esa ‘your’, you can use the abbreviated form shes:

your dog

There is special form net for ‘my’:

my dog

Possessives should only be used only for clarity. In general, don’t use them for body parts, kin, or objects you’re holding. If you want to make your foot invulnerable, the spell is khaush ur’vaped; you don’t have to say net khaush ur’vaped. Similarly, if you’re talking about your father, renakhef ‘father’ will be taken as meaning ‘my father’.Verbs of givingVerbs of giving have an extra argument, the beneficiary or indirect object. This is expressed using the possessive locator before the verb. E.g.:

eZow an’Kashor Sen’Sifra me’madahu.
Ezhow an’khashor shen’shifra me’madahu.
I SEP-bone of-dog PAST-give.
I gave the dog a bone.

Note the order of the arguments in ST: the object given (the bone) comes first.The English sentence looks like it has two objects (the dog, the bone), but only the indirect object can appear with to: I gave a bone to the dog. In ST, the beneficiary must use a form of shen.The abbreviations shes and net come in very handy with these verbs:

raKef an’avizu Ses me’madahu.
Rakhef an’avizu shes me’madahu.
man SEP-stone your PAST-give.
The man gave you a stone.
feKar an’keza-d net me’madahu.
Fekhar an’keza-d net me’madahu.
woman SEP-alcohol my PAST-give.
The woman gave me alcohol.

AdverbsIf an adjective appears before the verb in a sentence, it modifies the verb— that is, it acts as an adverb.

esa Zwabali u’KauSgi.
Esa zhwabali u’khaushgi.
you slow-ADJ PRES-slow.
You’re walking slowly.

If the root is defined in the lexicon using an adjective, e.g. thelna ‘be good’, it still needs the adjectival ending when it’s modifying another verb:

Telnali sum’siniT!
Thelnali sum’sinith!
well-ADJ COMMAND-speak
Speak well!

The locator slotWe’ve now accumulated enough features that the full formula for sentences can be appreciated. It has just one more slot:subject an’object verb-modifiers verb Examples of various verb modifiers:Non-magical commandsSometimes it’s convenient to have another person do something, rather than the laws of magick. You want to preserve your Resonance, after all.The full form is to refer to the person directly, either with esa ‘you’ or a noun, using the prefix sum’:

sum’esa hamsa!
Sum’esa hamsa!
COMMAND-you write!
You, write!
sum’Sonir Sifra Soir.
Sum’shonir shifra shoir.
COMMAND-physician dog heal.
You, physician, heal the dog.

For brevity, you can leave out the reference and add sum directly to the verb:


NumbersMathematics has a close relation to the laws of physics, and ST is well suited to talking about mathematics.The numbers from zero to twelve:
Note that zokrul, the number of the spheres, has one letter from each sphere, as does the number 12.The ordinal numbers (first, second, third…) are formed with the ordinary adjectival ending –i: thus sari, yezhi, visiReciprocals are formed as antonyms. Thus:
(Can you divide 1 / 0 to form zhih? You can, in fact; that’s the name for aleph null, the cardinality of the set of whole numbers.)
Higher numbers are named very simply— by reading the digits from largest to smallest. Thus:
Negative numbers begin with ur:
The basic operations of arithmetic are represented X OP Y where the operators are one of
Lo ‘and’ can be used as an alternative for yokte.This also gives us a quick way to represent powers of ten (or of any other number):
The first two of these have abbreviated forms: mishezh ‘hundred’, mishis ‘thousand’.Numbers are divided into two orthogonal sets, known as yogrug ‘vertical’ and zayazh ‘horizontal’. The vertical set is our complex numbers; they can be named with the abbreviated prefix yo. So yo’sar is i, the square root of -1. A complex number such as 5 + 4i can thus be expressed yauna lo yo’thiks.A note on glossesThe sample sentences are starting to get more complicated. To help the learning process, I’ll supply a literal gloss immediately after the ST.Like this:

Sifra’sum u’ketig?
Shifra’sum u’ketig?
dog-QUES PRES-fire.
Is it the dog that’s on fire?

The glosses allow you to see the structure of the sentence before you’ve memorized the whole vocabulary. Here, you can see that the sentence consists of the root dog plus a question particle, then the root fire with the present tense prefix.Capitalized elements are grammatical particles or affixes.Sentences as argumentsOften the argument of a verb is an entire sentence. In this case we mark the subordinated sentence with un.Let’s look at an example. Start with a simple object:

eZow an‘vrepaz u’hamu.
Ezhow an‘vrepaz u’hamu.
self SEP-pet PRES-desire.
I want a pet.

The underlined portion is the object, what I want— in this case, a pet. Now suppose that what I want is that you get out of here. I’d say:

eZow an’un esa yau’Zabgi u’hamu.
Ezhow an’un esa yau’zhabgi u’hamu.
self SEP-SUBORD you IRR-out-go PRES-desire.
I want you to leave.

Again, the underlined portion is what I want: you leaving. You can see that it’s formed from the standalone sentence

esa yau’Zabgi.
Esa yau’zhabgi.
you IRR-out-go.
You might leave.

(Yau marks the irrealis. A desire is for a hypotethical situation— I don’t know if you will really leave or not! So desires should always use the irrealis.)The un tells us that the argument is an entire sentence, to avoid confusion.Here’s another example:

hanamsa an’un Sifra me’Kaif me’siniT.
Hanamsa an’un shifra me’khaif me’sinith.
scribe SEP-SUBORD dog PAST-die PAST-say.
The scribe said that the dog died.

(The dog really died, so the subordinated clause uses the realis prefix me.)Sentential arguments are a bit unwieldy, so some convenient variations are permitted. You can simply reverse the arguments:

Un esa yau’Zabgi an’eZow u’hamu.
Un esa yau’zhabgi an’ezhow u’hamu.
SUBORD you IRR-out-go SEP-self PRES-desire.
I want you to leave.
un Sifra me’Kaif an’hanamsa me’siniT.
Un shifra me’khaif an’hanamsa me’sinith.
SUBORD dog PAST-die SEP-scribe PAST-say.
The scribe said that the dog died.

If it’s obvious who did the wanting or saying, the subject can be left out:

un esa yau’Zabgi u’hamu.
Un esa yau’zhabgi u’hamu.
SUBORD you IRR-out-go PRES-desire.
(I) want you to leave.
un Sifra me’Kaif me’siniT.
Un shifra me’khaif me’sinith.
SUBORD dog PAST-die PAST-say.
(He/she) said that the dog died.

Finally, you can move the reported speech after the main sentence; this is expecially useful when the speech is long.

hanamsa me’siniT, un Sifra is’rafaS lo er me’Kaif lo el ur’is’Tehulna.
Hanamsa me’sinith, un shifra is’rafash lo er me’khaif lo el ur’is’thehulna.
scribe PAST-say / SUBORD dog IMPERF-sick and PAST-die and PRON.soul NOT-IMPERF-happy.
The scribe said that the dog had been sick, and it died, and he was unhappy.

(The un signals that we’re beginning a stretch of reported speech. Without it, everything is in the narrator’s voice: The scribe talked. The dog had been sick…)Modal verbs work like verbs of desire. Compare:

esa u’hesuna.
Esa u’hesuna.
you PRES-dance.
You are dancing.
esa un u’hesuna u’hamu.
Esa un u’hesuna u’hamu.
you SUBORD PRES-dance PRES-desire.
You want to dance.
esa un u’hesuna u’hakemu.
Esa un u’hesuna u’hakemu.
you SUBORD PRES-dance PRES-can.
You can dance.
esa un u’hesuna u’Tail.
Esa un u’hesuna u’thail.
you SUBORD PRES-dance PRES-must.
You must dance.

Hakemu ‘can’ is derived from hamu ‘want’— wanting plus the power ke to achieve it = ability!Relative clausesA sentence can also be subordinated to a noun.In many cases you can get by with the adjective forms of the verb— active –i and passive –u.

ketigi Sifra
ketigi shifra
fire-ADJ dog
a dog that’s on fire
sehimu Tinara
sehimu thinara
hide-PASSIVE knowledge
knowledge that’s hidden, hidden knowledge

You can even state an argument for the subordinated verb, using the possessive. Compare:

okawabi Sifra
okawabi shifra
bite-ADJ dog
a biting dog
Sen’tonageya okawabi Sifra
shen’tonageya okawabi shifra
DATIVE-thief bite-ADJ dog
a dog that bit a thief
okawabu tonageya
okawabu tonageya
bite-PASSIVE thief
a bitten thief
Sen’Sifra okawabu tonageya
shen’shifra okawabu tonageya
DATIVE-dog bite-PASSIVE thief.
a thief bitten by a dog

I’ve underlined the relative clauses. Note the different position from English. They come before the noun in ST, because ST is consistently head-final.Don’t forget the special possessives net ‘my’ and shes ‘your’:

net’okawabi Sifra
net’okawabi shifra
MY-bite-ADJ dog
a dog that bit me
Ses’okawabu tonageya
shes’okawabu tonageya
YOUR-bite-PASSIVE thief
a thief bitten by you

Rather than the dative + participle construction, you can relativize an entire sentence. You’ll have to do so, in fact, if the relative clause contains a complex noun phrase, or verb modifiers.If you want to use a full sentence, use the particle suya:

eZow an’suya er an’tonageya hohukhi me’okawab Sifra u’linan.
Ezhow an’suya er an’tonageya hohukhi me’okawab shifra u’linan.
self SEP-SUBORD SEP-thief angry-ADJ PAST-bite dog PRES-love.
I love the dog that angrily bit that thief.

The structure of the sentence is exactly the same as

eZow an’Sifra u’linan.
Ezhow an’shifra u’linan.
self SEP-dog PRES-love.
I love the dog.

We’ve simply modified it with an entire sentence (underlined above):

er an’tonageya hohuKi me’okawab.
Er an’tonageya hohukhi me’okawab. SEP-thief angry-ADJ PAST-bite
It angrily bit the thief.

ComparativesAs we’ve seen, simple comparatives are formed with lin ‘more’ and nil ‘less’: lin’vi-r rikhif a younger girl
nil’za-di shifra a less wet dogA comparison class is given using the postposition hol:

hol’To-l lin’vi-r riKif
hol’tho-l lin’vi-r rikhif
THAN-family MORE-young girl
the youngest girl in the family
dul’pabodez hol lin’zahar raKef
dul’pabodez hol lin’zahar rakhef
on-planet THAN MORE-beautiful woman
the most beautiful woman on the planet
imi’zeta-k Sifra hol nil’za-di Sifra
imi’zeta-k shifra hol nil’za-di shifra
in-rain dog THAN LESS-wet dog
a dog that’s less wet than the dogs in the rain

The superlative is formed with partial reduplication: lilin ‘most’, ninil ‘least’.ConjunctionsA list of conjunctions:
These can be used between any constituents of the same type:

ge-k lo za-di Sifra
ge-k lo za-di shifra
cold and wet dogg
a cold and wet dog
esa lo fiKir
esa lo fikhir
you and girl
you and the girl
raKef me’Kedgi loKana me’Zhabgi.
Rakhef me’khedgi lokhana me’zhabgi.
man PAST-near-go then PAST-out-go.
The man came, then left.
el me’Kedgi u-du hadum is’hamu.
El me’khedgi u-du hadum is’hamu.
PRON.soul PAST-near-go because drink IMPERF-desire.
He came because he wanted something to drink.
NauTo ba me’ibaniT, loanakh oTaun is’ibaniT.
Nautho ba me’ibanith, loanakh othaun is’ibanith.
universe ASPECT.start PAST-exist / before chaos IMPERF-exist.
The universe came into being; before, there was chaos.

ConditionalsConditional statements use the conjunction vaun ‘therefore’. If the condition is doubted or unreal, use the irrealis:

Saunahor an’Zotowa yau‘meham, vaun gadayit yau‘abu.
Shaunahor an’zhotowa yau‘meham, vaun gadayit yau‘abu.
grandmother SEP-wheel IRR-have / therefore vehicle IRR-be.
If grandmother had wheels, she’d be a vehicle.
bonaw an’bitoZo nai‘semaha, vaun yau‘Kaif.
Bonaw an’bitozho nai‘semaha, vaun yau‘khaif.
Magi SEP-sword PAST.IRR-forget / therefore IRR-die.
If I had forgotten my sword, I would be dead.

If the condition is known to be true, use the realis:

aktaug an’taug u‘abu, vaun ketga u‘meham.
Aktaug an’taug u‘abu, vaun ketga u‘meham.
sun SEP-star PRES-be / therefore nuclear.force PRES-have.
The sun is a star, so it has nuclear force.
bonaw an’bitoZo me‘semaha, vaun sum’esa an’seS net madahu.
Bonaw an’bitozho me‘semaha, vaun sum’esa an’sesh net madahu.
Magi SEP-sword PAST-forget / therefore COMMAND-you SEP-your MY give.
I forgot my sword, so give me yours.
zhab’za-d from the water
imi’yegtu in the field
zash’shifra next to the dog
dul’aktig on the moon
shen’ashfer of the cat
zema’ur’fa-nar like a virgin
Relative location
peth above
thep below, under
zhet behind
tezh in front
dul on
zay to the left of
zayazh beside
yazh to the right of
khed near
las between
bozh at
imi in
zhab from, out, outside of
khana after
anakh before
imi during, for
lokh for
khol against
shen of, to
hol compared to
amez unlike
zema like
tok using, with
pethgi go up, climb
imigi go in, penetrate
khedgi go near, approach
zhabgi go out, leave
bozhwo place, put
dulwo put on top of
imiwo put inside
zhabwo put outside
Adverbs Shifra ebya u-ketig.The dog is still on fire.
Ri-nav zhwabali me’khaushgi.The old person walked slowly.
Locations El imi’adavaizu me’khedgi.He/she ran into the city.
El tubo me’khedgi?Where did he run?
Times Na-th saukhba u’susam.The Weave is always listening.
Ezhow imi’zhowaba is’thanalan.I studied for a year.
Beneficiaries Renakher an’bitozho net me’madahu.My father gave me a sword.
hizh zero
sar one
yezh two
vis three
thiks four
yauna five
zokrul six
khor seven
irim eight
ozhya nine
min ten
yunash eleven
sodyir twelve
zher half
siv one third
skith one quarter
anuay 1/5
lorkoz 1/6
rokh 1/7
miri 1/8
ayzho 1/9
nim 1/10
shanuy 1/11
riydos 1/12
14 sar thiks
20 yezh hizh
58 yauna irim
7094 khor hizh ozhya thiks
177th sar khor khori
-1 ur’sar
-8 ur’irim
-58 ur’yauna irim
+ yokte add
etkoy remove
* o-zhbe multiply
/ ebzho- divide
^ shaukh augment
= abu be
5 * 3 yauna o-zhbe vis
2 + 2 = 4 yezh yokte yezh abu thiks
10^2 min shaukh yezh
10^3 min shaukh vis
10^4 min shaukh thiks
10^78 min shaukh khor irim
10^10^2 min shaukh min shaukh yezh
lo and
utan or
eran but, however
u-du because
lokhana then, afterwards
loanakh before
vaun therefore