copyright © 1997-1999 Dennis Paul Himes


This section will discuss some interesting and/or important Gladilatian words. A more complete but still small Gladilatian vocabulary is available as a text file.


U is used as a general placeholder when the grammar calls for a noun but one is not really needed. If it is translated at all it is usually translated as something like "something" or "one". Used alone as one of a sentence's two independent phrases it serves the same purpose as the English phrase "there is" or "there are".


There are twelve states in Gladilatian. Every state ends with a whistle. A state will become part of the first syllable of the morpheme it's modifying unless that would violate the morphological rules or the state is being emphasized.

hzl "completely"
fl "hypothetically"
fmy "habitually", "repeatedly"
fy "potentially"
This is used to express the meaning of the English "can". E.g. Fmu fyhsunu u. "I can walk.", literally, "I [am] a potentially walking one."
lr negation or opposite
This is stronger than mr. E.g. Akr is "high", mrakr is "not high", but possibly of medium height, and lrakr is "low".
mr "not"
my "intrinsically"
ny question marker
When this is used the speaker is asking whether the next morpheme is accurate.
sl "very"
zmr relative marker
This has many nonobvious uses. With a number it denotes the ordinal. With a preposition it denotes direction, e.g. ylet "in", zmrylet "into". It can be used with tense attributes to express the perfect tenses. E.g. Srefmu hyarek zmrfrekxfa. "I will have eaten the cake.", literally "The future I [am] of the cake the relative past eater."
zr "temporarily"
zy "possible" (with uncertainty)


Attributes serve several purposes in Gladilatian. They mark gender, number, and tense, as well as several properties which would just be indicated by adjectives in English. Indeed, there is quite a bit of overlap in Gladilatian between adjectives and attributes.

Attributes are usually optional in Gladilatian. If the quality expressed is clear from context or considered irrelevant the attribute can be, and usually is, left off.


These are similar to gender markers in many human languages.

sna intelligent being
he animal or machine
ho inanimate object


zno one
fsu two
hrnu three
sru four
wfe five
mu six

The state mr is used for "zero" or "none."

fr all
fzo more
hrak unique
nza at least
we more than one
zma at most
We is the general plural marker. Slwe, "very plural", is used to mean "many".


Tense is marked with the following attributes.

frek past
fe present
sre future
These can be made relative with the state zmr.


fma my
na your
nra this
Nra does not necessarily refer to something physically close. It is often used to mean "pertaining to the subject at hand."


rna left
zve right


lyk random, arbitrary
nye child, unfinished
sat pure, archetypical
snek small
vek large
zna primary, fundamental


mnek required
mvo continuing
nmut meta-, hyper-
nrot same
rzo which?
xya almost
Mnek is used for a strong imperative. A weaker imperative is formed with the prepositional mnefmu, "desired by me".

Mvo is often used where English would use a progressive tense.


There are only seven relatives. The general relative is ep, but it is rarely used. The other six are:

fep "who/which is potentially"
flep "who/which is hypothetically"
fmep "who/which is habitually"
mep "who/which is intrinsically"
zep "who/which is temporarily"
zyep "who/which is possibly"

Note the similarity between these six relatives and the corresponding states.


There are only eight conjunctions: (curly brackets denote words which can occur any number of times, including zero)

fna unit1 {fna unit2} wo unit3 "exactly one of unit1 {or unit2} or unit3"
hra unit1 {hra unit2} wo unit3 "unit1 {or unit2} or unit3"
la unit1 {la unit2} wo unit3 "even though unit1 {and unit2} still unit3"
ma unit1 {ma unit2} we unit3 "if unit1 {and unit2} then unit3"
ra unit1 {ra unit2} we unit3 "unit1 {which is similar to unit2} which is similar to unit3"
sa unit1 {sa unit2} we unit3 "unit1 {which is unit2} which is unit3"
This is equivalent to apposition in English, and is used mostly for names.
xa unit1 {xa unit2} we unit3 "since unit1 {and unit2} therefore unit3"
za unit1 {za unit2} we unit3 "unit1 {and unit2} and unit3"


There are five suffixes.

This is the nominalizer. It turns a state, attribute, or adjective into a noun. E.g. fne "black", fneu, "black thing", "something black". It is not a coincidence that this is the same as the general placeholder noun. fneu is equivalent to fne u.
This is the abstractor. Attached to adjectives it is like the English suffix "ness", e.g. fneot "blackness". Attached to nouns it forms the abstract class, e.g. esnfe "human", esnfeot "humanity".
This turns states and attributes into adjectives. The meaning stays essentially the same.
This turns nouns into adjectives. It is similar to the English suffix "like", e.g. fonat "mother", fonatvyp "maternal".
This marks a proper noun which was formed from a common noun. It is similar to capitalizing a common noun phrase in English, e.g. wat nlamratop, "the White House".


There are two ways to form questions. The state ny marks what is being queried, and the attribute rzo asks for specifics. E.g. from hnone "apron", and nau "yours" (na+u) one can form Hnone nynau? "Is that apron yours?" and Rzohnone nau? "Which apron is yours?".


There is no Gladilatian word which serves all the purposes of the English word "of". Some prepositions which serve some of the purposes are:

fet "with respect to"
hya "user of, for its own sake"
me "associated with"
mnat "composed of", "divided by", "divided into"
mza "directed to"
se "under the control of"
so "part of"
xve "user of, as a tool"

Xra and Xe

Xra and xe are used for quoting. The material being quoted is put after a xra and before a xe and the whole shebang is treated like a noun grammatically. Any states and attributes are prepended to the xra and any suffixes are appended to the xe.


Gladilatian uses a base six number system. When discussing it in this section I will append a (6) to a numeral to indicate base six. E.g. 25(6) = 17.

The numbers described in this section are the adjectival forms. The noun form is constructed with the suffix ot.


These are the natural numbers which have their own names.

mro "zero"
zno "one"
fsut "two"
hrnu "three"
srut "four"
wefe "five"
mu "six"
hzut "seven"
zo "eight"
hrhr "nine"
mrut "ten"
mefe "eleven"
mumu "twelve"
hrmu "eighteen" = 30(6)
srmu "twenty-four" = 40(6)
wemu "thirty" = 50(6)
zla "thirty-six" = 100(6)
fyat "two hundred sixteen" = 1000(6)
sflo "1296" = 10000(6)
sflosflo "1679616" = 100000000(6)

Numbers less than 100(6) which don't have their own name are formed by combining a multiple of six with a number less than six as one word, e.g. hrmufsut "twenty" = 32(6). Numbers greater than 100(6) and less than 10000(6) are formed by combining a multiple of 100(6) with a number less than 100(6). E.g. srmuhrnuzlasrmusrut "1000" = 4344(6). Higher numbers are formed similarly with powers of 10000(6) and coefficients, with coefficients of one and components having a coefficient of zero left off. E.g. hrnusflosflomumu "5038860" = 30000020(6). Powers of sflo greater than two are formed by prepending the ordinal of the power. When this happens a coefficient must be used to distinguish it from a regular ordinal e.g. znozmrwefesflo = 6^20.


Negatives are formed with the state lr. E.g. lrfsut "minus two".


Ordinals are formed with the state zmr. E.g. zmrfsut "second". The ordinal of minus one, zmrlrzno means "last", the ordinal of minus two, zmrlrfsut, means "penultimate", etc. The ordinal of zero, zmrmro means "not in the list".

Transfinite Cardinals

Two transfinite cardinals have their own names:

srmo the cardinality of the integers
fryma the cardinality of the reals

The aleph and beth systems are formed by modifying msoru "aleph" and msuto "beth" with ordinals. N.B. Gladilatian ordinals for the aleph and beth notations are one off from English. So zmrzno msoru, literally "first aleph", is "aleph naught", and zmrfsut msoru, literally "second aleph", is "aleph one".


Fractions are formed by using the preposition mnat with the noun form of the denominator, so mnatsrutot hrnu would be "three fourths". Note the difference between mnatsrutot zno rek "one fourth of a cake" and mnatsrutu zno rek "one cake divided into four pieces".


Here are the two most important trancendentals. Note that Gladilatian avoided the historical accident which resulted in English having a name for half of two pi but not for two pi itself.

ryt "two pi"
mxo "e"


Addition is denoted with the preposition het, e.g. hetfsutot hrnuot wefeot "2 + 3 = 5".

Multiplication is denoted by having one number modify the other e.g. fsut hrnuot muot "2 * 3 = 6".

Exponentiation is denoted by having the exponent, with the attribute nmut, modify the base e.g. nmuthrnu fsutot zohot "2 ^ 3 = 8".

Relatives may be used for grouping, e.g. mep hethrnuot srutot fsut u fsut hethrnuot fsut srutot "2 * (3 + 4) = 2 * 3 + 2 * 4".


Gladifers see a slightly larger range of the spectrum than humans. They also divide up the spectrum differently, into four basic colors, roughly as follows.

sno red to yellow-orange
fana yellow to blue-green
hna blue to blue-purple
vso purple to ultraviolet
These can be modified by akr "high", meaning towards the low frequency end of the spectrum, and lrakr "low", meaning towards the high frequency end of the spectrum, so akr sno is "red", more or less. Note that the Gladilatian use of "high" and "low" here is opposite of the English description of frequency. It is believed that the Gladilatian terms came from the rainbow.

The neutral colors are wat "white", fne "black", and wla wat "gray", literally "dark white".


A kinship term describes an individual's position in a family relative to another individual. I will call the first individual the relative and the second the reference, so that in the English phrase "John's sister" John is the reference and the sister is the relative.

Gladilatian kinship terms depend on three independent factors. One is whether the relationship is through a birth family (ea), a joined family (axa) or a family in general (mfea). Another is whether the relative is a child, a female, a male, or a gladifer in general. The third is whether or not the relative and the reference were necessarily members of the family at the same time. If they were the kinship is called "contemporary". Otherwise it's called "unrestricted". Unrestricted kinships include contemporary ones, they are not always noncontemporary.

Gladilatian Kinship Terms
any family birth family joined family
contemporary / anyone mfeapeapaxap
contemporary / child nyapnyeapnyaxap
contemporary / female hmnaphmneapvna
contemporary / male srzapmrasrsrzaxap
unrestricted / anyone mfofreapfrexap
unrestricted / child or female fnyapfnyeapfnyaxap
unrestricted / male srzo mfosrzo freapsrzo frexap

There is also a word for "mother", fonat. There is no word for "father". Instead one would say menoflaot mrasr i.e. "contemporary male birth family member associated with pregnancy".


Naming is culturally dependent, but most gladifer cultures use some variation on the following scheme:
sa given_name we family_name

Males often have hrebirth_family_nameot immediately preceding the family name. Sometimes the given name is preceded by an ordinal indicating how many individuals in the history of that family have had that name. Sometimes the sa...we conjunction also includes clan, tribe, nation, or planet names, almost always going from the more specific to the more general.

In the Roman alphabet transcription of a gladifer name the first letter of each word is usually capitalized except for conjunctions, which are not capitalized at all, and the hrebirth_family_nameot constuction for which the first letter of the birth family name is capitalized. E.g. sa Mrenep sa hreLaxreot Lelemle sa Lele we Nmusysy.

The family name is not the name of the family; it is the name of a member of the family. The name of the family as a whole is the family name together with the suffix ot.

Note that using the family name is not considered more formal or polite than using the given name. When only one name is used it is usually the given name, unless the fact that the individual is from a certain family is being emphasized or is especially relevant.


When writing, Gladilatian sometimes inserts another language's word into the text in its native form, so you might see human names in Roman letters intermixed in a Gladilatian text written with Gladilatian glyphs.

More often, especially when spoken, a phrase will be coined from existing words with a new meaning. For nouns and adjectives an existing word with a similar meaning will often be modified by the adjective hnfe "Terrestrial". In some cases a new word will be coined.

Proper names are often calqued, on the etymological root if necessary, with the suffix op. "Dennis", for example, is Mzamep Vmet Mezmevreu Menmutsnau Uop, "One Associated with the God of a Psychoactive Beverage", or simply Menmutsnau Uop, "One Associated with a God". For my Gladilatian name, however, I prefer a calque on "Caesariatus", Snyry Wevaop, "Long Hair".

When a translator for whatever reason does not want to coin a new phrase, there is a standard transformation from a human word to a Gladilatian one. Because there are more human phonemes than gladifer ones and because of Gladilatian's strict morphology this transformation is not injective.

There are five steps to the transformation:

First each human phoneme is converted to a Gladilatian one, as follows:
human phoneme Gladilatian phoneme
/h/ /x/ h
/w/ w
/s/ /T/ /ts/ s
/f/ f
/m/ m
/n/ /n-/ /N/ n
/z/ /D/ /dz/ z
/v/ v
/S/ /Z/ /tS/ /dZ/ x
/r/ /R/ r
/l/ /l-/ l
/i/ /I/ /j/ y
/u/ /U/ u
/o/ /oU/ /oI/ o
/a/ /A/ /O/ /&/ /@/ /aI/ /aU/ a
/e/ /E/ /eI/ e
/t/ /d/ t
/k/ /g/ k
/p/ /b/ p

Next the word is broken up into syllables, with a syllable break after each end, before each start, and after each vowel which is not followed by an end.

Third, syllables are further broken if they have too many fronts or if they repeat phonemes. This breaking is left greedy, i.e. the first break is placed as far to the right as possible.

Fourth, an "e" is added to each syllable which does not have a base.

Finally, if the word does not begin with an "e" already, one is added to the beginning.

As an example, "Himes" /haImz/ would become (with syllable breaks shown):
Step 1: "hamz"
Step 2: "ha mz"
Step 3: "ha mz"
Step 4: "ha mze"
Step 5: "e ha mze"
So the final transformation would be "Ehamze".

Alien Concepts

There are some concepts, both human and gladifer, which are often termed "untranslatable". This is of course not true, any alien concept can be translated into a coined word whose definition is "what the corresponding alien word means". There are concepts, however, which are very difficult to explain in the other species' languages.


For human concepts the most well known example is humor. It is generally agreed that gladifers do not have humor. Some people argue that they do have humor; it's just different than human humor. I will not get into that debate, but just note that human humor is a very puzzling concept to most gladifers. This does not mean that they are what is generally termed "humorless", however. They do have words which correspond nicely to the English words "happy" (nsawa) and "excited" (flosona). What they do not have is jokes.

Another form of human discourse which mystifies gladifers is the discussion of questions such as "Do numbers exist?" and "Do animals think?", which appear to gladifers to be nothing more than analyses of the exact meaning of the words "exist" or "think" but which humans insist are analyses of the nature of reality or the cognitive processes of animals.


Gladifer concepts which are hard to explain in human languages are, naturally, hard to explain on an English webpage.

One such concept is ale, which is usually translated as "influence" or "effect", but which has a much broader application than fryxyo, which is a better translation of those terms.

Another is the distinction between ye and vra, discussed in the section on Appropriateness.


The general Gladilatian term for "appropriate" or "good" is hyemne. It is usually considered to encompass the following five related but distinct concepts. These are listed with their standard English translations, but (with the possible exception of "efficient") these translatians are only approximations of the Gladilatian meanings.

nryxunu "efficient"
This is the one whose English translation best captures the Gladilatian meaning. It means "maximizing the benefit / cost ratio for some benefit function and some cost function". Of course, a gladifer's idea of what those functions should be can differ quite a bit from a human's, but in some contexts, such as the efficiency of an engine, the meaning is identical.

Nryxunu is used to mean "good" in the sense of "good at what it does" or "good at what it's used for", such as in nryxunu hu, "good food".

mxre "moral"
Like its English translation this means "consistent with some value system", but the value system involved is likely to be not only different, but less broad than a human's. For example, while murder is very lrmxre, or "immoral", risking one's life to save another's would not be mxre, although it would be ye.

Mxre is used to mean "good" as in "the opposite of evil".

ye "proper"
vra "fitting"
The difference between these two properties is hard to express in English, especially since there are many acts which are both. Following an established ritual is usually ye. When gladifers first became aware of the human practice of putting flowers on graves they immediately adopted it, saying it was a very ye thing to do. Breaking into a run because you suddenly feel energetic is vra. Choosing what clothes to wear is usually done on the basis of what is more vra. It's tempting to say that ye activities are planned and vra ones unplanned, but impulsively deciding to give a friend a gift is ye and a trip to a randomly chosen location (called a lyvosa) is vra, no matter how well in advance it was planned. Some gladifers maintain that a ye activity is one which would result in a sense of wrongness if it were not done and a vra activity one which would not, but other gladifers dispute this interpretation.

Both of these words are used to mean "good" in situations not covered by nryxunu or mxre. "Good person", for instance, can be translated as nryxunu snau, mxre snau, ye snau, or vra snau, depending on the exact shade of meaning desired.

zvrna "harmonious"
This means "balanced, especially with regards to left and right". A minority of gladifers consider this to be a special case of ye.

Zvrna is almost never translated as "good", a fact which tends to mystify gladifers, since the other four are.

A common illustration of these five properties is the following. If you were travelling and had to decide between two roads, each of which went to your destination, then picking one because it got you there faster would be nryxunu, picking one because you promised someone you would would be mxre, picking one because your family built it would be ye, picking one because you saw a bird flying in that direction would be vra, and picking one because you picked the other one the last time would be zvrna.

What action should be taken when these properties conflict is a major subject in gladifer philosophy, but one which is too involved to go into here.

You can go to the main Gladilatian page, go to my homepage, or mail me.