The one tongue as she is spoke.
You have an alien race, in the form of the Holekhor. (Well, not technically alien. Not time travellers either. But also not homo sapiens. Read the book.) How do you have them converse in their own language?
If this was Star Trek, they’d all speak English. Fortunately it isn’t, and they don’t. Obviously, when you have Holekhor talking among themselves, you translate it into English for the benefit of the readers, but now and then it’s necessary to have a genuine Holekhor phrase or sentence. And if you can speak schoolboy French, or failing that have access to Alta Vista’s translation service, you’re away.
Stage 1: get your translation
Let’s say, “the cat sat on the mat”. En Francais, le chat s’est reposé sur la natte.
Stage 2: Holekhorise it
The Holekhor leave out definite and indefinite articles. So, we have: chat s’est reposé sur natte.
Stage 3(a): transform the letters: nouns, adjectives, etc.
We’ll deal with the verbs in a moment. For now, take the words chat, natte and sur, and transform them with the following table.
- Holekhor only have two vowels, “e” and “o”.
- “Ch” and “sh” change to “kh” (there are a lot of “kh”s in the One Tongue. Never speak to a Holekhor with a chest cold).
- “Th” hardens to “t”.
- If transforming an accented word, just assume it’s not accented. Thus the French é becomes e which Holekhorises to o.
Thus the three words above have transformed to:
- khev and pevvo and ter
Stage 3(b): transform the letters: verbs
Verbs also transform according to the tables above, but you need to know the rules of declension.
A verb starts with its infinitive. “To sit” is reposer. (Actually that is more like “to rest”, but in the case of our feline friend on the mat, that’s the appropriate word to use.) Holekhorised with the tables above, this comes out as sokhotos. The first use of reposer, “I sit”, would be je repose. The latter word transforms to sokhoto. In French, the word might change according to whether I, you, he/she or whoever does something, but not in the One Tongue. Sokhoto is the present tense word for anyone sitting.
(The French s’est reposé throws in unnecessary complications, translating literally as something like “he is sat”, which is added to “the cat”. The One Tongue simplifies by removing them.)
The Holekhor pronouns are as follows:
There is no “I”: in its absence, it is assumed on the part of the speaker.
Pronouns are appended in front of the verb, with an apostrophe to indicate a glottal stop in between. “It sits” thus becomes mol’sokhoto.
Of course, this cat sat, past tense. Because of the rule above about accents, repose and reposé actually transform in exactly the same way. To indicate past tense of a word that is spelt exactly the same as in the present tense, the last syllable is drawn out slightly. It would sound like mol’sokhoto-o.
Stage 4: put it all together
Thus, “the cat sat on the mat” translates into the One Tongue as :
khev mol’sokhoto pevvo ter
More conversationally, as it is obvious that the cat is the subject, the “it” (mol) can be dropped. Thus:
khev sokhoto pevvo ter