Talossan pronouns are perhaps the most difficult part of speech to master. Just as we distinguish in English between “she” (a first-person singular subject pronoun) and “her” (a first-person singular object pronoun), this same distinction is made in Talossan (the two equivalent pronouns being a and la).
However, unlike English, Talossan subject and object pronouns sometimes change form when used before a verb (in “normal position”) and after a verb (in “inversion”). For example, a esteva (= she was) and esteva-t-a (= was she).
Talossan also has a third pronoun form, a form that is used in prepositional phrases. Although English would simply use the object pronoun (“her”) in a prepositional phrase such as “with her”, Talossan uses another form of the pronoun, eia, when forming the phrase cün eia (= with her).
Complicating this further for the new learner is the fact that the form of a pronoun used in a prepositional phrase can change (through consonant mutation) depending on the preposition. This is seen in the examples à thu (= to you) and per dtu (= for you).
Hopefully the world of Talossan pronouns is clearly detailed by the information provided here.
Subject Pronouns in Normal Position
A subject pronoun can appear in either “normal” position (before a verb, as in tu isch aicì = you are here) or, as to indicate a question, in “inverted” position, meaning attached to the end of a verb (as in ¿isch-tu aicì? = are you here?).
When in normal position, the Talossan subject pronouns have the forms that are listed below with their English equivalents:
- éu (= I) — this pronoun is often seen without the accent mark, as eu, but always should be pronounced as two separate syllables, and not as the diphthong.
- tu (= you [informal])
- o (= he) [pronounced as if spelled u]
- a (= she)
- ça (= it, and also the neuter form of they)
- noi (= we)
- voi (= you-all [“you guys”] and the “formal” you)
- os (= they [of unimportant gender or including at least one male]) [pronounced as if spelled usch]
- as (= they [all female])
- si (= the general pronoun). This pronoun is used to express a general, ubiquitous “anyone and everyone” feel. It would be used in place of the underlined words in the Talossan equivalents to sentences such as “you never know what you‘re gonna get” and “they say all good things must pass”.
Subject Pronouns in Inverted Position
Subject pronouns follow the verb in two cases: when the sentence is a question, or when the sentence is a command. In those cases, the subject pronoun is positioned after the verb, and attached to it, using the following rules:
- The subject pronoun éu gets inverted to its place after a conjugated verb by removing the -éu or -eu that ends the verb form and replacing it (using an apostrophe in writing) with ‘éu. The apostrophe indicates only a short pause in speech to distinguish the similar-sounding normal and inverted forms of the same verb. That is, the pause aids to distinguish tischéu (= I will have) from tisch’éu (= will I have). If the verb does not conjugate to end with -éu or -eu, however, the pronoun is inverted without any change to the verb, and the two are joined in writing using a hyphen, as in sint-éu (= am I).
- When used in inversion, the subject pronoun tu gets contracted to the end of a conjugated verb, a contraction indicated in writing as ‘t. For example, estevás’t (= were you). Again, this is only the case if the verb conjugation ends with -ás; if the verb conjugates irregularly, the pronoun is inverted without change, hyphenated to the verb in writing, as seen in füt-tu (= were you) [using the alternate past tense conjugation of the verb estarh].
- The subject pronouns o (= he) and a (= she) get attached to the end of the verb as -t-o and -t-a, as in esteva-t-o (= was he). Again, this is only the case if the verb conjugation is ends in -a (or -à); if the verb conjugates irregularly, the pronoun is inverted unchanged and hyphenated to the verb in writing, as in füt-a (= was she).
- All other subject pronouns are always inverted unchanged, and hyphenated to the verb in writing. For example, os (= they) is inverted in estevent-os (= were they).
Object Pronouns in Normal Position
Object pronouns can also appear in “normal” position (before a verb) and in “inverted” position (after the verb and attached to it in writing using a hyphen).
The “normal” form of a Talossan transitive verb clause is “(subject) (object) (verb)”, as in éu en améu (= I love it, which literally translates to English as “I it love”). Here are the forms of the Talossan object pronouns when they appear in this “normal” (before the verb) position.
- me (= me)
- te (= you [informal])
- lo (= him) [note that this is pronounced as if spelled lu]
- la (= her)
- en (= it)
- noi (= us)
- voi (= you-all, or you [formal])
- lor (= them)
- se (the objective case of si, and used as the reflexive object). This pronoun is used for all cases where the subject and the object are the same. So in this sense is it equivalent to any of “myself”, “yourself”, “herself”, “yourselves”, “themselves”, “itself”, etc. For example, os se haßent (= they hate themselves) and noi s’ament (= we love ourselves). Notice that the use of se (as a form of the general subject pronoun si, which appears in sentiments such as “one never knows”) for this purpose gives Talossan reflexive statements rather unique semantics: that is, se vidéu (= I see myself) is literally “I see one”.
The forms me, te, lo, la, and se all elide, losing their second letter and being contracted to the verb with an apostrophe if that verb begins with a vowel. For example, a m’ama (= she loves me) is proper, while a me ama would only be used if you wished to express emphasis, as in “she loves me (and not someone else)”.
Object Pronouns in Inverted Position
Object pronouns can be used in “inversion”, which means they are moved (unchanged in all cases) behind the verb and attached to it in writing using a hyphen. This can only be done in two cases, which are if the verb form is an infinitive form or an imperative (command) form.
For example, you can say haßéu à vidarh-en (= I hate to see it), since vidarh is in the infinitive form. Notice that you would not construct this phrase as en haßéu à vidarh, since then the meaning would be the rather nonsensical “I hate it to see”.
An example of an object pronoun appearing in inversion in an imperative (command) statement would be ¡frapetz-me! (= hit me!). Subject pronouns can also appear in inversion in commands; since commands are always directed to either the “you” or the “you all” subject, this typically poses no problem. However, when both a subject and an object pronoun are used in a command, only the subject pronoun can appear in “inversion”. That is, both ¡me frapetz-tu! and ¡tu me frapetz! (both = hit me!) are proper, and ¡tu frapetz-me! is not.
Object Pronouns in Prepositional Phrases
Talossan prepositions are “strong” parts of speech, and their comparative “strength” over that of the pronoun is heard (and seen in writing). While most Talossan parts of speech will “give up” their weak ending (such as eliding its final -a) in deference to the next word, to assist in the flow of speech, the preposition resists this tendency. Instead, the Talossan preposition “forces its will” onto the word that follows, and that word then has the obligation of changing its beginning to assist in the flow of speech.
This change is consonant mutation, and not only is it heard in speech, but when the mutating word is a pronoun, it must be indicated in writing.
- When following a preposition ending in a vowel:
- the object pronoun me (= me) mutates to mhe
- the object pronoun te (= you) has the form tu, which mutates to thu
- the object pronoun noi (= us) mutates to nhoi
- the object pronoun voi (= y’all) mutates to vhoi
- the object pronoun lor (= them) mutates to lhor (but is pronounced irregularly, as if still spelled lor, a form in which it is often now seen)
- When following a preposition ending in a consonant:
- the object pronoun te (= you) has the form tu, which mutates to dtu
- the object pronoun lo (= him) has the form o
- After all prepositions:
- the object pronoun la (= her) has the form eia
- the object pronoun ça (= it) is used unchanged
- the object pronoun üns (= us) may be used as an alternative to noi or nhoi, and is in fact the usual choice after da (forming dad üns = to us).
- the reflexive object pronoun se has the form so. This form is always proper, but it is also acceptable for first- and second-person subjects to use the same form as would be used for the actual subject. For example, o en zoneva à so (= he gave it to himself) and éu en zoneveu à mhe (= I gave it to myself); note the use of mhe (which could also have been so).
For example, a en compreva per dtu (= she bought it for you) and a en zoneva à thu (= she gave it to you).
One other little oddity here is that the word casa (= house) can be used as a preposition, meaning “at the house of”, and in this construction, casa lui, an affectation from French, can be seen in place of casa lo (both = at his house).
The demonstrative pronoun acest (= this or that) and its feminine form aceasta share the plural form acestilor (which is pronounced irregularly, as if spelled acésceler).
There are about a dozen other demonstrative, interrogative, relative, and indefinite pronouns, such as neviens (= nobody), níþil (= nothing), and ingenc’hosa (= anything) that you should be aware of.
Talossan also has a set of possessive pronouns, each of which “comes with” a required definite article. For example, el méu (= mine). These are discussed on the Webpage concerning genitive indication, the ways to indicate possession of one noun by another.
The Informal and Formal “You”
Talossan is like most other Romance languages in having two different pronouns for the English “you” — one that is called the “informal you”, and the other that is called the “formal you”. The idea behind this is that one would use the “formal you” when addressing a superior, either an elder or someone in a position of authority, and one would use the “informal you” when addressing anyone else — someone equal or subordinate to you in a social or family situation.
This is a feature that exists in archaic English: the pronouns “thou” and “thee” were the subject and object pronouns for informal use, and “ye” and “you” were the subject and object pronouns for formal use. In modern English, of course, the distinction has disappeared, and “you” is used for all purposes and to address anyone.
While Talossan does retain this Romance feature, in truth the “formal you” is very rarely used, and you should almost invariably stick to using the “informal you” forms.
Another thing to notice is that the “formal you” pronouns and conjugated forms are also (and much more often) used for the “you-all” sense. So that voi estetz ben means “you (formal) are good” while voi estetz bens means “you-all are good”, and the only way to tell them apart is the fact that the adjective here — ben (= good) — is singular in one of the sentences and plural in the other. (Note that English retains a remnant of this same double-use of the formal form in the so-called “Royal We”; the way a reigning monarch refers to himself or herself as “We”, and to his or her possessions as “Our”, etc.).