Mirad Grammar/Lesson 1

Lesson 1: What is this? edit

In this lesson, you will learn how to ask what an object is and to reply correctly. You will also learn how to say the plural of nouns and to describe them with adjectives.

Dialog edit

 
 
Dialog 1
MIRAD ENGLISH
1. Duhos1se his? What is this?
2. His se drar. This is a pencil.
3. Hus se duhas? What is that?
4. Hus se dresem. That's a desk.
5. Hua dresem se aga. That desk is big.
6. Hia drar se oga. This pencil is small.
7. Duhos se aga? What is big?
8. Hua dresem se aga. That desk is big.
9. Duhos se oga? What is small?
10. Hia drar se oga. This pencil is small.
11. Duhoa drari se oga? Which pencils are small?
12. Hia drari se oga. These pencils are small.
13. Ha dresemi se aga. Ha drari se oga. The desks are big. The pencils are small.
14. Hua drari se oga. Husi se oga. Those pencils are small. Those are small.

Note 1: duhos is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: du-HOS. See the chapter on Stress.

Determiners edit

In the above dialog, you see words that begin with the letter h or duh. These are a special type of word called determiners, or more specifically deictic determiners. These are words which point out the context of something, for example, where something is located relative to the speaker. Such determiners can be pronouns or adjectives modifying a noun that follows. The h is pronounced just as in American English. The chart below show the deictic (pointing) determiners used in the dialog:


Dialog 1 Determiners
CATEGORY PRONOUN ADJECTIVE
Interrogative duhos...?....what (thing)...? duhoa...?....Which (thing)...?
Definite has....it, the thing ha....the
Proximate his....this, this thing hia....this, these
Distal hus....that. that thing hua....that, those
Deictic ("pointing") determiners always contain the consonant h and are followed by a vowel that indicates whether it is proximate (near the speaker), distal (away from the speaker), and other categories that will be learned later. The final letter, if s signals that the determiner is a pronoun referring to a thing. If the final consonant ends in a t, it means that the determiner refers to a person, such as this person. If the final consonant is a, it means that the determiner is an adjective that modifies the following noun. In fact, all adjectives in Mirad end in -a.
This may seem a little confusing to the learner at first, because in English, this as a pronoun (this [ = thing]) is not distinguished from this as an adjective (this [desk]). The two are distinguished in Mirad: (his (this [pronoun]) vs. hia drar (this [adjective] pencil).
Mirad students who speak Latin-based languages like French and Spanish need to know that adjectives in Mirad do not agree in gender and number with the noun they modify. So, hia (this) and hua (that) do not change form no matter what the object or person they modify. The same applies to descriptive adjectives like aga (big) and oga (small). They remain constant.
Another matter that Latin-based language speakers need to realize is that adjectives in Mirad come BEFORE the noun they modify. Furthermore, deictic determiners acting as adjectives precede any descriptive adjectives. So, these1 small2 desks would be expressed in Mirad as hia1 oga2 dresemi.
Interrogative determiners (question words) begin with duho, which literally means say which. An interrogative is really a kind of imperative like Tell me your name, Tell me which place (where?), or Tell me which person (who?). Du is an imperative of the verb der....say, tell, and means tell (me), say! This is followed by the relative determiner ho....which. Duhom? (where?) is literally Tell (me) which place. Duhoj? (when?) is literally Tell (me) which time. Another way to think of it is Fill in the blank for place, person, time, etc.

Pluralizing Nouns and Pronoun Determiners edit

Common nouns, which always end in a consonant, are made plural by suffixing the vowel i. Dresem = a desk, dresemi = desks; drar = a pencil, drari = pencils.
The Mirad pronoun determiners has, his, and hus are also pluralized by suffixing the vowel i. For example, Hisi se oga.....These are small.
Determiners and adjectives modifying a noun do not change form, i.e. they do not agree in number as in English and Latin-based languages, eg. hua drar....that pencil vs. hua drari....those pencils. This includes the definite adjectival determiner ha....the, which never changes form.
Dialog 1 Pluralizing Nouns
SINGULAR PLURAL
duhoa drar?....which pencil? duhoa drari?....which pencils?
hia dresem....this desk hia dresemi....these desks
hua drar....that pencil hua drari....those pencils
hua aga dresem....that big desk hua aga dresemi....those big desks
hua oga drar....that little pencil hua oga drari....those little pencils
ha drar....the pencil ha drari....the pencils
Duhos?....What (thing)? Duhosi?....What (things)?
His.....This (thing). Hisi.....These (things)
Hus.....That (thing). Husi.....Those (things)
Has....It. Hasi.....They (= the things)

Modifying Nouns with Articles edit

In Mirad, there is no equivalent of the English indefinite article a or an. This article is left unexpressed. So aga drar means a big pencil. oga drari means little pencils.
The equivalent of the definite article the, however, is rendered by the adjectival deictic determiner ha. So, the desk and the desks are expressed by Mirad ha dresem and ha dresemi. Again, ha does not change form when modify a singular or plural noun. The definite article ha (which is really the definite adjectival deictic determiner, is used exactly as the English article the (which is quite different from the use of the definite article in many other languages).

Adjective Opposites edit

Note that aga and oga are opposite in meaning. The stem vowels a and o spell the difference. If the stem vowel of a descriptive adjective is a, then its opposite will be o and the adjective with a will be the positive, greater, or better of the two values. In fact, there is an "in-between" values represented by the vowel e, as in the chart below:


Dialog 1 Three-Way Descriptive Adjectives
POSITIVE INTERMEDIATE NEGATIVE
aga....big ega....normal oga....small
aza....strong eza....moderate oza....weak

Verb to be in the Present edit

The verb form used in the above dialog is se, which is the simple present tense form of the verb infinitive ser meaning to be. The form se is used with singular or plural subjects and therefore means am, is or are. Mirad does not normally make a distinction between the being of essence and the being of circumstance as does Spanish with ser and estar. (And, by the way, the similarity in form between the ser of Mirad and the ser of Spanish is purely coincidental. Vocabulary in Mirad is a priori, that is, created from scratch and not based on any existing human language.)

Word Composition edit

The nouns drar....pencil and dresem share a root in common, dr- < drer....to write.
The ending -ar of drar is a stub suffix from sar....implement, tool. The ending -sem means table, so dresem literally means writing table. Many words in Mirad are built up from root morphemes in this fashion.
Even determiners you have learned so far are formed this way. Duhos...?....What...? is composed of du....tell (me) + ho....which + -s, a stub suffix from sun....thing. The determiner hus....that is composed of hu-....that + -s....thing.

Lesson 1 Vocabulary edit

Nouns
  • drar....pencil
  • dresem....desk
Pronouns
  • duhos? / his / hus / has....what? / this (thing) / that (thing) / it (the thing)
Adjectives
  • duhoa? / hia / hua / ha....which? / this / that / the
  • aga / ega / oga....big / normal / little
  • aza / eza / oza....strong / moderate / weak
Verbs
  • ser....to be
  • se....is / am / are (simple present tense)

Quiz edit

In this quiz, fill in the blanks with the correct Mirad word. (Note: upper/lower case is significant.)

1.

(What) se drar?. Drar se

(a tool).
2. Ha dresem se

(big). Ha drari se

(little).
3.

(This) se aga.

(That) se oga.