Constructing questions in Talossan is mostly common sense, and as you will see, if you can ask a question in English, you know exactly how to phrase the same question in Talossan. In fact, you may find yourself reading a rule of grammar here and thinking, “I have no idea what that rule means,” but then when you see it in action in an example, you will think, “oh! well, that’s just common sense!”
Recall that it is common to “invert” the subject and the verb, just as is done in English (as in the contrasting examples “you are sick” and “are you sick?”, one a statement and the other a question). Again, this movement of the subject to after the verb is something that is done rather unconsciously in one’s native tongue, which means that when beginning to speak in a new language, it is often forgotten.
Talossan also has some interrogative particles that can be used to cast a statement into a question. These include:
- ¿oi? (= yes? right?). For example, menxhevás el crust, ¿oi? (= you ate the pie, yes?)
- ¿non c’e vräts? (= isn’t that true?). For example, menxhevás el crust, ¿non c’e vräts? (= you are the pie, isn’t that true?).
- ¿n’estás-c’e? (= don’t you/we/they?, doesn’t he/she/it?). Notice that this phrase preserves a verb conjugation that is now extinct in modern Talossan. The -ás ending should not be taken to mean that the phrase is specific to second-person singular subjects (“you”).
- e-ça qe (= is it [the case] that). This particle is rather rarely seen. It is used at the beginning of a statement to convert it to a question. For example, ¿e-ça qe menxhevás el crust? (= is it [the case] that you ate the pie?)
These particles are especially useful to create a question from a statement that employs one of the impersonal verb forms ja (= it is) and j’ont (= there are). For example, ¿e-ça qe j’ont dels plaes? (= is it that there are plans?).
As in English, a sentence phrased as a statement (that is, with the subject preceding the verb) can be used as a question if intonation implies doubt or disbelief. For example, ¡¿tu menxhevás el crust?! (= you ate the pie?!).
Use of Pronouns in Interrogatives
When forming an information question, you should think first of the role that the interrogative pronoun plays in a declarative statement that would answer the question:
- If the pronoun in a question represents the subject of the answer, then the question should be phrased like a declarative statement, with the pronoun coming before the verb. For example, ¿qi säp el respuns? (= who knows the answer?)
- If the pronoun represents the object of the answer, the interrogative pronoun still leads the question, but the subject is placed in inversion (after the verb). For example, ¿qet säps-tu d’acest? (= what do you think about that?).
- If the pronoun represents an indirect obect, the preposition that would appropriately go with the object in the answer precedes the interrogative pronoun in the question. For example, ¿qi’st da qi aprendevás’t acest? (= who is it from whom you learned that?)
Inversion of subject and verb is similarly used with interrogative adverbs, as in ¿come säps-tu acest? (= how do you know that?). As with yes/no questions, any of the information questions that require inversion can be expressed using the particle e-ça-qe, as in ¿com’e-ça qe tu säps acest? (= how is it that you know that?).