Trentish - Ñalonša

Trentish, a language spoken by a kind of terrasfolk in North America.

Terras cultural values dictate that new kinds develop and maintain their own language as a matter of identity. So the trents, even in the face of persistent inpressing from English, hold on to their language with a kind of fierce pride.

Sub-page: Trentish Lexicon.

About Trents

Trents look something like trees; however being terrasfolk they are still ordinary sapient mammals, albeit with a quite striking appearance. [Eventually there will be more on trents on their own page.]

They are generally found in cities with a high terras population. There are also a couple of mainly-trentish communities in Canada, which is thought to be where the kind originated.

Incidentally, trents do not have voices; all sounds in their language are voiceless.


Trentish is an a priori language. It has no relatives, although it does have some semantic influence from Rami and borrowings from English. It is polysynthetic, incorporating, and prefixing.

Orthography and Phonology

Currently the only orthography for Trentish uses a modified Roman alphabet.

There are four series of stops, most of them defective: plain (p c k); ejective (p' t' k'); aspirated (ph th ch kh); and labialized (tw cw kw).

Other consonants: l m n ñ ŋ tl ʃ s x ʔ.

The vowels are i y e ø ʌ ʊ u ɔ o ɑ.

Eventually something more convenient will surely appear. Most of these have their general IPA values, with ñ being a palatal nasal and tl being a lateral affricate.

Phonological changes

Trentish syllables can only end in a nasal. Word-finally, most consonants will assume the nasal at the nearest point of articulation. So a word -thɑk- "wear" by itself is thɑŋ.

Syllable-finally, a consonant will perform one of several mutations depending on their nature.


In Trentish one doubles a verbal root to create a resultative noun, that is, the meaning of the verb is "to cause the noun to come into being". Long roots copy no more than the first two syllables.



Verbs in Trentish are marked for the function of their arguments. There are several:

AGT=high PAT=low
"I am painting the house"
AGT=high PAT=none
"I am painting"
AGT=none PAT=high
zerokɑt'e-pɑ lɑmen
"house.TOP paint"
"The house, it's being painted"
ʔuu-kɑt'e-pɑ ñ-ʔuu-lɑmen
"house.TOP 1p.XACC.paint
"The house, it's being painted by me"

The "high" (emphasized) argument, if a noun word, takes the topic marker -pɑ. The "low" (deëmphasized) one, similarly, takes the suffix -ɔm. We'll use the last voice marker -ʊk, for an example:

ʊk-enk'ɑ-m ʊk-lɑmen-ñy
"teeth.COM MID.paint.1p"
"I'm painting my teeth"
ʊk-enk'ɑ-pɑ ʊk-lɑmen-ñy
"teeth.TOP MID.paint.1p"
"My teeth, I'm painting them"


Trentish marks verbs for aspect, which is sort of an observation on the status of the event.

(action seen as happening)
zeroMeli-pa Maax-p'alax-xini
"Mary.TOP Mark.hate.3p"
Mary hates/is hating Mark.
(action seen as complete)
po-Meli-pɑ po-Mɑɑx-p'ɑlɑx-xini
"Mary.TOP PERF.Mark.hate.3p"
Mary hated Mark.
(action seen as happening many times as a unit)
"This has many sharp points."
(action seen as happening many times with cumulative effect)
mel-Meli-pɑ meŋ-kɑt'e-lɑmen-xini
"Mary keeps on repainting the house."
(action seen as done with reservations or reluctance)
ɑk-ʔo-ʔysli-pa ɑk-Meli-ʔuu-thaŋ
" CONS.Mary.XERG.wear"
"Mary wears red (but isn't happy about it)"
(action seen as happening without [either good or bad] restraints)
phli-bɔku-pɑ phli-Meli-ʔuu-kwʌ
"Mary is a dog. (and shows no shame about it)"
Mɑɑx-pɑ phli-mɑli-xini
"Mark.TOP LIB.speak.3p"
"Mark speaks (freely, without reservations)."


Nouns by default are unmarked for number. If necessary, a singular can be marked with sʌ-. Nouns pluralize in two dimensions: one is paucal vs. plural; the other is aggregate vs. separate.

The difference between "separate" and "aggregate" plurals is not marked in English, but you can get the idea from examples: "a few mice in the house" has a closer meaning to separate (they could be anywhere in the house, and not all in the same place) and "a few mice in the corner" to aggregate (they are all together in the corner).

-ɑnkʊ "cat"PaucalPlural


Trentish verbs mark for mood, or how real the action is seen as being. These are difficult to explain...

IndicativezeroMeli-pɑ Mɑɑx-p'ɑlɑx-xini
"Mary.TOP Mark.hate.3p"
"Mary hates Mark".
(futures: things that may happen)
two-Meli-pɑ two-Mɑɑx-p'ɑlɑx-xini
"Mary.TOP PRB.Mark.hate.3p"
"Mary may/will hate Mark".
(subjunctive, infinitive; also a very weak negative)
i-Meli-pɑ i-Mɑɑx-p'ɑlɑx-xini
"Mary.TOP FICT.Mark.hate.3p"
"Mary doesn't hate Mark" / "...Mary hate(SUBJ) Mark"
"to hate"


There are two classes of adjectives. There are those with scalar meaning, that can be compared (such as red, more red, very red; small; ill), and there are those with binary meaning, that cannot be compared (such as two, dead, forked).

Scalar adjectives never appear unmarked. If there is nothing special about their extent, they take the positive marker ʔo-, e.g. ʔoʔysli "red/some red".

Adjectives, once properly marked, can be used as substantives directly without further modification: ʔoʔyslipɑ k'othɑpɑløn "this red (one) doesn't walk".