Omina: Language of the Auleri

Not too far from where I live there appeared, in the twelfth or thirteenth century (opinions differ but I plump for the twelfth) a pair of children, whose skin was said to be green and who spoke an unknown language. Information can be found freely on the net - the "Anomalies" site is a good, objective one, but to many mediaevalists in this part of the world the Green Children of Woolpit is a very well-known tale. These children are the basis for the culture of the Auleri. This culture is deeply rooted in the British fairy tradition and in my own imagination.
They speak a highly-agglutinative, ergative language called Omina (from a root ów- meaning 'open outward' giving such words as óla "flower" and óma "speaking mouth" from whence comes Omina "speech"). The word Auleri is one of the names they call themselves and just means "Those who sing" since that is one of their main loves. The other pillar of their worldview is the starry sky, and they have many poems and hymns dedicated to Ilmari, their chief "Goddess" (not really an appropriate term) who made the stars out of her own tears. They gave her many other names, such as Mar-dil-eldean "Mother of the eyes of evening".

Occasionally, people of our world have strayed, or have been taken into theirs, such as Thomas the Rhymer. Some say he is there still; and for many complicated reasons, they have been known, from time to time, to leave some of their own children with human families, as a source of protection.

The Omina language possesses fewer phonemes (separate sounds) than English, and places certain restrictions on how sounds feature in words. For instance, English does not allow sound combinations like "kp" at the start or end of words. Likewise, Omina does not allow any consonant cluster in these positions at all. A few of our words have been taken into Omina such as eskula "school" where you can see that the initial /sk/ has become /esk-/.
The Auleri have writing, but do not really use it as we do; tradition and knowledge is passed on by experience and word of mouth. They use writing almost exclusively as an art form. Their script is not an alphabet, but a syllabary, with each character representing a syllable - usually consonant-plus-vowel - rather than a single sound. I will shortly be putting up some examples of Omina script and poetry on the site; but for now here is a translation of the Lord's Prayer. Although spiritually it would not mean very much to them - they have many 'Gods' and have personal, physical experience of them - it remains a wonderful piece of real-world poetry and I hope gives a flavour of the sound and structure of the language.

Ilkano Ilumaitorde
(Lit. "Holy-wish to the sky-father")

Ilteku mena ilumaitomien, dauteku ornalia
Merteku hanolia andaia le ilúa.
Almo melde in aru gardimi arún,
O estamo halmi, le esta imera, hal mere íreman.
O maite halinaro ailuma.
Ornaliamerastoalari elea de,
Baro baroa: Amen.

A few notes on the above:
L1. Ilteku. Several words from here on in end with -teku: Omina is a purely suffixing language, and the -te suffix corresponds to "-fy" in English; that is, it makes 'causing' verbs from nouns or adjectives. So from il "holy, sacred" we have ilte "Make holy, Hallow". The -ku suffix is one form of the imperative, so ilteku means "Hallow, sanctify".
L1. Mena. Omina is especially rich in words for naming. Names are very important in Auleri life, and one person (or "presence") can have several names, with various degrees of spiritual importance. You can take a name to yourself, be given one by a close friend, be given one at birth, at death, if you do something especially memorable, at your rite-of-passage ceremony, and so on. Mena relates most closely to the "birth name", which is that used when no particular attention needs to be drawn to the usage.
L1. Ilumaitomien. This long word is an example of the agglutinative nature of the language, which is also fond of compounding words into longer units (compare for example German Eisenbahnbrucke "Railway bridge"). It is made up of ilu ("sky" in the sense of "starry heavens", from the same root as the word for "Holy"), aito "father", with -m- inserted as a natural liaison. -mi is the suffix meaning "our" and -en is the suffix for the genitive (possessive) case. So the whole thing means "Of our sky-father".
L3. Almo melde. -mo is the "reverential" form of the imperative, and added to al-i "give" produces "Give thou..."
Melde is a "conjugated case". These are very common, and translate phrases such as "For me", "With them" and so on. Omina has about a dozen cases, formed by simple suffixes, which are nearly all invariable, so there are no complicated systems to learn in this case (pun not intentional!) The dative case (to or for something or someone) happens to be one of those which have more than one form - but it only has two! If the last vowel of the word it modifies is a narrow vowel (i or e) the dative suffix is -lde. If it is a broad vowel (a, o, u) the ending becomes -rde. Melde means "to us" or "for us".
L4. Imera... ireman. In English, we indicate "Who does what to who" by the order of words; "The man killed the bear" means something very different from "The bear killed the man"! Most 'normal' European languages may use an 'accusative case' to indicate what gets something done to it, so in the first example, "bear" would be in the accusative case while in the second "man" would. We even have this in English but not with nouns - "I saw him" but "He saw me". Him and me are the accusative forms of he and I. However, Omina puts a suffix on the doer of the action where there is also a "done to", and what is more uses a different verb as well! If you have studied French or German you will be pleased to know that there are no verbs to conjugate - Omina uses a bare handful of auxiliary constructions with the verb itself remaining unchanged. The auxiliary carries all personal forms, verbal aspects and other markers, including the relative pronoun ("that" or "which" or "who" as in "The ball that I kicked broke a window"). For simple statements in fact there is no verb at all, only the personal markers themselves. Both imera and ireman are forms of the auxiliary used in an ergative sense. The marker for "we" or "us" is -m- and that for "they" or "them" is -r-. The ergative form ime- means "We (do something to something)" and the "something done to" here is "them" - we forgive them. The object form of "them" is -ra. Note that the verb itself esta "forgive" is unchanged. The auxiliary carries all the 'meaning' so Imera means "We... them". Conversely irema means "They... us", here "(They) do wrong to us". The relative suffix, always in final position on the auxiliary, is -n so ireman as a whole means "Who (or that) do wrong to us".
L6. Ornaliamerastoalari. This could equally well have been written as Ornalia-merasto-alari but I wanted to keep the idea of a "three in one" concept. Plus, I just love long words!

Coming soon! Duitilekseko Omina (Teach yourself Omina: with vocabulary, grammar and cultural information.