Section 2: Morphology
Anthologica Universe Atlas / Universes / Emily / Language of the Book / Section 2: Morphology


Nominal morphology

The Language of the Book is an inflecting language that declines both for case and for number on its nouns, pronouns, and sometimes adjectives.


Though it is not indicated in the inflectional endings, all nouns in the Language of the Book are divided into two genders: animate and inanimate. Unlike languages such as French or German, these genders are not arbitrary. Animate nouns are nouns referring to living beings such as people, animals, gods, and spirits; also categorized as animate are natural forces that move on their own (such as water and other liquids; fire; wind, etc.) and, perhaps idiosyncratically, the heart (because it beats on its own; other organs are inanimate). Corpses are also categorized as animate, because they were once living beings. All other nouns are inanimate (including plants, even those such as Venus flytraps that exhibit motion).


The case endings are as follows:


They immediately follow the root of every noun and pronoun, and predicative adjectives (attributive adjectives do not decline).


The Language of the Book does not have separate words for articles or other determiners; they are indicated by suffixes that follow the case ending. They only attach to nouns, not pronouns or adjectives (unless the adjective is functioning syntactically as a noun). Unlike the case endings, these suffixes do not differ based on number; they do differ, however, based on whether they are following a consonant or a vowel.

SuffixAfter vowelAfter cons.
indefinite article-wa-a
definite article-k-ak
this (animate)-f-af
this (inanimate)-v-av
that (animate)-m-em
that (inanimate)-n-en
interrogative (animate)-th-eth
interrogative (inanimate)-z-ez


Pronouns are not complete words by themselves; like nouns, they are roots that must take case suffixes to be complete.
  • 1st person: kor-*
  • 2nd person: vus-
  • 3rd person animate: tir-*
  • 3rd person inanimate: dur-*
  • interrogative animate: thir-*
  • interrogative inanimate: zyr-*
  • relative animate: sal-
  • relative inanimate: zol-
Thus, the nominative word for "I" is korel, while "we" is korul. Those roots ending in r (which are starred in the above list) change the r to an l in the dative case to ease pronunciation; this rule does not apply, however, to nouns or adjectives.

Verbal morphology

The Language of the Book is a pro-drop language; this means that the subject of a clause may be omitted if it is obvious or unimportant. Verbs are only conjugated if the subject has been dropped; if the subject is present, the verb is unconjugated.

Verbs do not conjugate for tense or aspect; the conjugational endings only indicate the subject.

1st person-ra-ro
2nd person-se-su
3rd person (animate)-thi-thy
3rd person (inanimate)-the-tho

Tense may be optionally indicated by a special time adverb before the verb; this is never grammatically required but sometimes necessary for clarity.
  • past: fer
  • present: uth
  • future: vyk
Imperative verbs always have conjugational suffixes, even when they have a subject:
  • 1st person plural ("let's"): -laro
  • 2nd person singular: -si
  • 2nd person plural: -sy
The past participle is formed with the suffix -myn, which turns the verb into an adjective that may decline. There is no present participle; "the running dog" must be translated as "the dog that runs".