by Max Barry

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The Oster Language

A Quick Guide to the Oster Language

The National Library of Ostehaar, in Porohare; where the Supreme Institution for Scholarship on the Oster Language sits



Modern Oster (presented in this guide) is a Linkmixed language - The result of a several-hundred-year fusion of Old Oster (also called First Oster, which is a proto-gaelitic language native to the area) and Nyssic influence since the 17th century.

By law, official documents are written in Oster, road signs are written in English, Oster, and Nyssic, and the three languages are learned in school. High-class events are sometimes held in Oster. The Supreme Institution for Scholarship on the Oster Language sits today in the National Library of Ostehaar, in Porohare.

In 2014 a poll presented Osters with the question: "In which of the languages you use in your daily routine?" - around 61% responded Oster, and the remaining 39% responded Nyssic or English. Most respondents to the poll said that when speaking to a foreign citizen, they would use English or Nyssic and not Oster. Another question was: "How well do you speak Oster?" - The results showed that almost all Osters were adequate Oster speakers (64% responded "Fluently" and 26% responded "well enough"; the remaining 10% were divided roughly equally between the options "partially", "not so well", and "not at all").

For quick lessons in Oster for self-teaching, go here.

For information on Oster names, read here.

For Oster lexicon, go here.



Phonology:
Consonants | Vowels
Grammar:
Nouns and articles | Pronouns | Verbs | Aspects and tenses | Adjectives | Adverbs | Prepositions and conjunctions
Negation | Sentence structure | Questions | Imperatives | Conditional sentences
Conversational Oster:
Oster Numerals | Days and Months | Meeting | Tourism | Literature | Swear words



Phonology

Consonants

Unlike the vowels, consonants in Oster are mostly similar to English, with only a few exceptions. The following table shows the 22 consonant phonemes found in most dialects of Oster, and their respective phonemes in English, if there are.

Consonant

Similar English consonant

Notes

B

B

-

C

TS

Almost not used

D

D

-

F

F

-

G

G

As in "green", not as in "cage"

H

H

Used also to extend vowels (see below)

J

~ZH

Similar to the Russian ZH, see Linkhere

K

K

-

KH

~KH

Similar to the German KH, see Linkhere

L

L

-

M

M

-

N

N

-

P

P

-

R

R

Similar to the Dutch "tap", see Linkhere

S

S

-

SJ

~SH

Similar to the Russian SH, see Linkhere

T

T

-

TH

TH

Only the ~T sound, not the ~D

V

V

-

W

W

Almost not used, pronounced Linkthis way

Y

Y

Almost not used

Z

Z

Almost not used


In recent years, and especially among youth, the unique Oster SJ and J are sometimes pronounced similarly to the English SH and the simple ZH (without taking the tongue a bit more backwards).

Vowels

The vowels of Oster differ very little between dialects, so it can generally be summarized into the following table. Diphthongs in Oster can be created by adding the letter "H" after the vowel, thus extending it a bit.

Vowel

Examples from other languages

Sound

A

The German tag

Linkhere

AA

The English law

Linkhere

E

The English bed, but more open

Linkhere

I

The English free, but shorter

Linkhere

O

The British accent thought

Linkhere

U

The German fuss

Linkhere

Diphthong

Examples from English

Notes

AH

die, fly, fight

-

EH

stay, made, bait

-

IH

greed, lean

A longer sound, with an almost silent E in the end

OH

goat, alone

-

UH

boot, suit, mute

A longer sound


There is a single special-case diphthong which uses the consonant Y - The diphthong EY, which is pronounced the same as EH in Oster. It is very common in words containing the syllable EYE, which is therefore pronounced similarly to the AYA in the phrase bay area or the AYI in the phrase say it.

The Diphthongs AU (loud), IA (yard), and IE (yes) don't exist in Oster, and are sometimes pronounced as AAV, JAA, and JE (respectively) by Oster speakers.


Grammar

Nouns and articles

Like in English, Oster nouns (excluding the pronouns) do not have grammatical gender. In Oster there is also no distinction between countable nouns and uncountable nouns, and no distinction of case - Meaning all nouns (again, excluding pronouns) remain in their original form in all kinds of sentences.

There are no indefinite articles in Oster (like the English "a" and "an"). Identifiable nouns are indicated by the articles nakh or na, with no difference regarding singular or plural forms. Nakh is used more often, although both form are correct in every sentence. Na is mostly used when the definite article follows a preposition ("to the", "over the").

Pluralization in Oster is achieved by the suffixes ir or er for nouns ending with a consonant or a long vowel, and sir or ser for nouns ending in a short vowel..

Pronouns

Oster inflects pronouns into three grammatical cases: Nominative (subject), genitive (possessive), and dative-accusative (object, direct or indirect).

Subject ("I see")

Possessive ("my book")

Object ("see me")

1st sg. (I)

Sjer \ Sje

Her

Fehr

2nd sg. (you)

Na

Hant

Fas

3rd sg. masc. (he)

Ran

Saad

Ahfer

3rd sg. fem. (she)

Rene

Sahde

Ehfir

3rd sg. neut. (it)

Sart

Bru

Ehses \ Ehs

1st pl. (we)

Ja

Jethis

Jehes

2nd pl. (you)

Nohr

Nethis

Nehes

3rd pl. (they)

Rihne

Sant

Fihre

The possessive pronoun form ("mine") is exactly the same word as the possessive determiner ("my"). So the phrase "my book" would be her fruhm, and the phrase "the book is mine" would be nakh fruhm khoht her.

Verbs

The basic form of a verb in Oster is the Infinitive, and it is the same as the form of the verb in third-person singular past tense (for example the English wrote or reached). Forms of verbs in Oster are:

Third-person singular past tense; Infinitive (English: wrote, reached) - Called Fohdem in Oster

Third-person singular present tense (English: writes, reaches) - Called Kesjdem in Oster

Present participle (English: writing, reaching) - Called Eterund in Oster

Gerund form (in English, unlike Oster, the last two are the same form) - Called Maalit in Oster

Regular Oster verbs are divided into three types, and for each type they have the same prefixes or suffixes indicating one of the four forms. There is also an irregular type of verbs, which have different prefixes or suffixes.

Regular type 1

Regular type 2

Regular type 3

Irregular (varies, examples)

3rd sg. past; Infinitive

dar, esjt

faal, khaab

johesj, sjobar

zohlt, brokhe, gaardi, drovast

3rd sg. present

darst, esjtist

faalt, khaabit

johesjte, sjobarte

zolst, brakht, gvart, drovaste

Present participle

sedar, sehesjt

sefaal, sekhaab

sehejohesj, sehesjobar

sejolt, sebrakh, segaard, sedrehv

Gerund

darna, esjtehna

faalen, khaaben

johesjna, sjobarna

zolten, brokhen, gaarden, drovahna

Aspects and tenses

Aspects (what is usually called "tenses") are created in Oster using the auxiliary verbs "be" and "do".

3rd sg. past; Infinitive (was)

3rd sg. present (is)

Present participle (being)

1st sg. (I)

Jo

Jost

Sihd

2nd sg. (you)

Jeht

Jehst

Sehde

3rd sg. masc. (he)

Ejt

Est

Sant

3rd sg. fem. (she)

Ejt

Est

Sant

3rd sg. neut. (it)

Kho

Khoht

Sokht

1st pl. (we)

Vart

Varst

Svart

2nd pl. (you)

Varte

Varst

Svart

3rd pl. (they)

Khad

Khast

Sekhad


3rd sg. past; Infinitive (did)

3rd sg. present (does)

Present participle (doing)

1st sg. (I)

Vat

Vast

Sevat

2nd sg. (you)

Vaht

Vahst

Sevaht

3rd sg. masc. (he)

Vehet

Vehest

Svehet

3rd sg. fem. (she)

Vehte

Veste

Svehte

3rd sg. neut. (it)

Oft

Ohst

Ohet

1st pl. (we)

Vihd

Vihst

Svihd

2nd pl. (you)

Vad

Vost

Sevad

3rd pl. (they)

Vard

Vorst

Sevard


The verb "has" is not an auxiliary verb in Oster.

The aspects of the Oster language are created using the following formulas.

Formula

Example

Simple past

(3rd sg. past)

Na faal sihen (You ate an apple)

Simple present

(3rd sg. present)

Na faalt sihen (You eat an apple)

Complex past

(conjugated past "do") + (3rd sg. past)

Na vaht faal sihen (You were eating an apple)

Complex present

(Present participle)

Na sefaal sihen (You are eating an apple)

Perfect

(conjugated past "be") + (3rd sg. past)

Na jeht faal sihen (You've been eating an apple)

Simple future

(to) + (Present participle)

Na to sefaal sihen (You will eat an apple)

Complex future

(tehe) + (Present participle)

Na tehe sefaal sihen (You'll be eating an apple)

The passive voice is formed using the verb "be" with present participle of the verb in question. As there is no future form for verbs in Oster, the future form of the verb "be" is created using the simple future formula ('to' + present participle of "be").

  • An apple was eaten by you - Sihen kho sefaal du fas

  • An apple is eaten by you - Sihen Khoht sefaal du fas

  • An apple will be eaten by you - Sihen to sokht sefaal du fas

Notice that the verb "be" in the examples above refers to the apple (it), as the subject of the sentence, and not to the person, and accordingly the pronoun is in an object (dative-accusative) form.

Adjectives

Adjectives in Oster have no distinct form, but can be sometimes created from nouns by the addition of a suffix, such as -mar/ar (ardekastar, meaning defensive), -tes (brontes, meaning harmful), etc.; or from other adjectives using a prefix: ihb- (ihbardekastar, meaning indefensive), etc.

All adjectives in Oster can be used both attributively, as part of a noun phrase, or predicatively. Meaning, the adjectives in phrases such as "a drunken sailor" and "the sailor was drunk" would be the same.

Many adjectives, especially the short ones, have comparative and superlative forms in -em and -em dan, such as jenem and jenem dan (taller and tallest). Others require the Oster words equivalent to more and most - The words pehd and pehen.

Adverbs

Many Oster adverbs are formed from adjectives by adding the suffix -feht/eht, as in brontesfeht and rokheht (meaning harmfully and slowly). There are also many adverbs that are not derived from adjectives.

Adverbs indicating the manner of an action are generally placed after the verb, before its objects (for example, in English it would be said as We considered carefully the proposal instead of We considered the proposal carefully), although other positions are sometimes possible (We carefully considered the proposal). This also applies to adverbs of frequency, degree, certainty, etc. (such as often, always, probably, usually).

Prepositions and conjunctions

A single preposition may have a variety of meanings, often including temporal, spatial and abstract. Examples of common Oster prepositions are:

ast (of)

je (of \ for)

ent (in)

ihm (on)

imer (over)

maath (under)

bra \ braha (to \ towards)

fehkh (from)

lit (with)

du (by)

The principal coordinating conjunctions in Oster are:

Non-contrasting: as (and)

Alternative: raa (or)

Contrast or exception: fehe (but \ yet)

Non-contrasting negative: sje (nor)

Rationale: khaa (for \ because)

consequence: sith (so \ therefore)

The common correlatives in Oster are:

ehl X ehle Y (either X or Y)

ehl X ehle Y sind (neither X nor Y)

X as Y jehem (both X and Y)

sji X fehe Y (not X but Y or not only X but also Y)

Some common subordinating conjunctions in Oster are:

Conjunctions of time, including meher (after), egrekh (before), caal (since), khesj (until), veneht (while), and esjaal (when)

Conjunctions of cause and effect, including ekhaa (because) and saaz (as)

Conjunctions of opposition or concession, including agos (although) and omad (though)

Conjunctions of condition, including ihsj (if) and vehr (unless)

The conjunction ne (that or this), which may produce content clauses

Negation

A finite indicative verb (or its clause) is negated by placing the word ihnt after that verb. Unlike in English, no "do-support" (I go - I do not go) is needed in Oster, as the negation can be placed after any kind of verb (I go not instead of I go).

Few examples, using sentences mentioned above:

  • You didn't eat an apple - Na faalt ihnt sihen

  • You were not eating an apple - Na vaht ihnt faal sihen

  • An apple will not be eaten by you - Sihen to sokht ihnt sefaal du fas (remember that to is not the equivalent to the English will - to sokht is)

Other elements, such as noun phrases, adjectives, adverbs, etc., are negated by placing the word sind after them: ardekastar sind (not defensive), nakh jenem dan sind (not the tallest), etc.

Sentence structure

A typical sentence contains one independent clause and possibly one or more dependent clauses, although it is also possible to link together sentences of this form into longer sentences, using coordinating conjunctions (see above).

Oster syntax is essentially of SVO (subject–verb–object) type; the verb precedes its object in the verb phrase, and the subject of the clause precedes the verb.

Questions

Unlike modern English, Oster allows questions to be formed by inverting the positions of verb and subject, and again no "do-support" is needed.

  • did you eat an apple? - Faalt na sihen?

  • Were you eating an apple? - Vaht na faal sihen?

  • Will an apple be eaten by you? - To sokht sihen sefaal du fas?

The above concerns yes-no questions, but inversion also takes place in the same way after other questions, formed with interrogative words:

dehe (where)

dehthe (when)

dehne (how)

dehem (why)

dahm (which)

daher (whose)

erde (who)

ehre (what)

Imperatives

In an imperative sentence (one giving an order), there is usually no subject in the independent clause, and the simple 3rd sg. present form of the verb is used:

  • Eat an apple! - Faalt sihen!

Conditional sentences

Unlike in English, conditional phrases in Oster don't have a fixed grammatical formula, but are rather a result of using the different verbs which are relevant for this kind of sentence, along with the "base" verb of the sentence in their gerund form.

For example, I can find in Oster is sjer thalt zolten (lit. I can finding). The verb thalt is the 3rd sg. present form of thal. Therefore to say I could find in Oster, one would use the 3rd sg. past form and say sjer thal zolten.

The same applies to the verb lehn (would): The English sentence I would (in the past) find will be in Oster sjer lehn zolten, and the meaning of the Oster sentence sjer lehnt zolten is I would (now) find.

A more complicated example would be the English sentence if I knew you would come, I would have come - In Oster it will be ihsj sjer khaab na lehn horten, sjer jo lehn horten.


Conversational Oster

Oster Numerals

Cardinal:

0| naal
1| ehn
2| te
3| dreh
4| khaar
5| sjej
6| siht
7| soht
8| oht
9| neh

10| dek
11| ehndek
12| tehek
13| drehek
14| khehek
15| sjehek
16| sihtek
17| sohtek
18| ohtek
19| nehdek

20| tehen
21| tehen ehn
22| tehen te
23| tehen dreh

30| drehen
40| khehen
50| sjehen
60| sihten
70| sohten
80| ohten
90| nehen

100| braan
101| braan as ehn
110| braan as dek
111| braan as ehndek
200| tehebraan
300| drehebraan

999| nehbraan as nehen neh
1000| falsj
2000| te falsj
3000| dreh falsj
9999| neh falsj nehbraan as nehen neh

Ordinal:

0th| naalar
1st| ehnar
2nd| temar
3rd| drehar
4th| khaamar
5th| sjejar
6th| sihtar
7th| sohtar
8th| ohtar
9th| nehar

10th| dekar
11th| ehndekar
12th| tehekar
20th| tehenar
30th| drehenar
100th| braanar
101st| braan as ehnar
999th| nehbraan as nehen nehar


Days and Months

Days of the week, starting Sunday:

  • Dothern, Hefern, Madern, Vethern, Venern, Valtern, Jedern (ern functions as the word day)

Months of the year, starting January:

  • Janevar, Fehvar, Marsj, April, Mehe, Juhne, Juhle, Avgust, Septembar, Oktobar, Novembar, Decembar

Meeting

Translation

Heh! Dehne rohst?

Hello! How are you? (lit. How (it) goes?)

Sihl. As hant?

Fine. And you? (lit. And yours?)

Ehre khoht hant enam?

What is your name?

Her enam khoht Johan.

My name is Johan.

Dehe hort na fehkh?

Where are you from? (lit. Where came you from?)

Sher hort fehkh nakh Maasj Gohstir.

I'm from the Western Isles. (lit. I came from the Western Isles.)

Ehre khoht hant jehl?

How old are you? (lit. What is your age?)

Her jehl khoht drehen.

I'm 30 years old. (lit. My age is 30.)

Ehre vehst na?

What do you do? (lit. What do you?)

Sher jost estaad je fiskehe

I am a student of physics


Tourism

Translation

Dehe thalt zolten sjer blihm fendorir?

Where can I find nice hotels? (lit. Where can find I nice hotels?)

Ent nack Hehr Miden

In the City Center.

Khast mat fuhlerar danvehcir ent Porohare?

Are there interesting attractions in Porohare?

Veh, nack Fihd Hehr as Merkht, nack Blaht, as pehd.

Yes, the Old Town and Market, the Wharf, and more.

Sjer esjtist vud Oster. Thalt esjtehna na rokhem soveht?

I speak a bit Oster. can you please speak slower? (lit. I speak few Oster. Can speak you slower please?)

Veh fal. Na esjtist Oster khuhe joneht.

Of course. You speak Oster very well. (lit. Yes sure. You speak Oster very well.)

Dehthe khoht nack jonem dan lohsj je drovahna nack Khaabarist Sjohordir?

When is the best time to visit the Khaabarist Mountains? (lit. When is the best time for visiting the Khaabarist Mountains?)

Rihne khast blihm ahr nack jaar.

It is nice there all year long. (lit. They are nice all the year.)


The Prologue from "War of the Worlds"

English:

No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.

Oster:

Nehth kho ihnt lehn sjovahna, ent nakh lund jaarir ast-na nehdekar braanse, ne grister je mohd khad serun fehkh-na lohsjin haarir je rohc. Nehth kho ihnt thal fohen ne ja vart sebihnte, vin ehn lit mikroskohp estaht nwirter ne khusjt as troht ent but je vaaser. Vud mohd lahte nakh thaltes je dehm ihm-na kolum plaanetir imerahr as fehe, imer nakh pihul je rohc, brenir ne khast ihbesohtemeht jonem dan pehen bra jethis aalur ne ost lit fehurtes ruhnir, as rokheht as faleht, rihne brim sant haalir nohte jehes.

Literal translation to English:

(A) soul would-not have belived, in the last years of (the) 19th century, that affairs of people were (being) watched from (the) timeless realms of space. (A) soul could-not have dreamed that we were (being) scrutinized, like one with (a) microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in (a) drop of water. Few people considered the possibility of life on (the) various planets over-all and yet, over the gulf of space, minds that are immeasurably better-most to ours regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.

Swear words

The most common swear word among Osters is a local adaptation of the English f*ck, which is pronouced fek or fak. This word is not used to describe any aexual acts (and the Oster words describing sexual acts are usually not used as swear words), it is only used as a swear word, or as an adjective or adverb to enhance certain phrases (feken and fekd instead of f*cking and f*cked), the same way it is used in English. Usually it is used in the following forms:

Fek fehr, meaning f*ck me

Fek ehs, meaning f*ck it

Fek fas, meaning f*ck you

Fek lokh, meaning f*ck off

Another English word that is widely used today in Ostehaar as a curse is sh*t, which is pronounced with a longer 'i' sound, sjiht.

Local swear words:

Khuhr - Hell; normal use would be khuhr lit fehr\fas\ehs, meaning hell with me\you\it

Behen or Beyen - C*ck

Gest - C*nt; as a result of this, the English word guest can make some Osters feel uncomfortable

Jilt - B*tch or slut

Sjket or bluhk - Stupid, idiot, moron, or dumb

The State of Ostehaar

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