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Uses of the Irrealis Mood
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subjunctive, optative, potential, etc.
This public article was written by Vulcanman, and last updated on 21 Apr 2017, 00:21.

20. Verbs
1. Overview
2. Colloquial Usage
3. Literary and Formal Usage


The irrealis mood is a form of the verb that indicates that an action is not known to have occurred, or there is some doubt that it will occur. In Modern Shikathi, the irrealis mood is slowly being supplanted by the gerund. Even still, it is used often enough to be taught in Shikathi schools. Although it is used less often in colloquial speech, it is seen extensively in literary contexts and it is even heard in formal sectors of society that require a higher register of speech (i.e. business, government, military when addressing anyone of a different rank). It is also used for special ceremonies (i.e. coming-of-age rites, first contact situations, treaties, etc.)

To form the irrealis mood, use the following verbalizers: aren (from akām), lātren (from lator), oren (from ekrō). Go here for a brief overview of verbalizers in general and how to use them. Additionally, there are the irrealis forms of the pro-verbs listed here.

We can divide the usage of the irrealis mood between colloquial and literary/formal.

[top]Colloquial Usage

▼ Imperative / Jussive

Imperative / Jussive

(Imperative)--Use the irrealis form to tell / command someone to do something.

inzā ilaren.

Listen to me! / Hear me!
shūm inzā ilātren.

Be heard!
inzā iloren.

(Jussive)--The irrealis form corresponds to English "let" or "may" as with the following examples.

Let us listen.
inzā ūmarenky.

Let them hear it all. / May they hear it all.
shenūne inzā aeālatrenky.

Let him be heard. / May he be heard
inzā indroren.

*special note on the imperative*

If a command is not directed to anyone in particular, use the passive irrealis without any subject pronouns.
For example a sign might say "Wait here" where the command is issued to whomever might read it. The correct translation would be "sheb oren" (expectation PASSPassive voice (valency)
be verb-ed
instead of "sheb ilātren" (expectation 2Second person (person)
addressee (you)
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
. However, if you were talking to someone specifically, and you issued the command "wait here", "sheb ilātren" would be appropriate.

▼ Conditional


Use the future-irrealis form to indicate the conditional tense (would). To put the irrealis mood into the future tense, simply attach the prefix kī-/ki- to the verbalizer.

I would listen if I could.
inza ūmkiaren tährāmthyk.

I would hear you if I could.
shil inza ūmlātren tährāmthyk.

I would be heard if I spoke loudly.
inza ūmkioren azhāmthyk inzāðyhäthī.

▼ Hypothetical-Doubtful


Use the future-irrealis along with the irrealis forms of pro-verbs to indicate a hypothetical / doubtful occurrence that may or may not happen sometime in the future. When using the irrealis in this way, you are inferring that there is a high probability that the action will not come to pass. Although the future-irrealis is usually translated into English as "would", in these cases it is translated as "will".

I will speak provided that you listen.
āzha ūmkiaren inza ilrūinm.

I will tell you, provided that you didn't already hear it.
ghil āzha ūmkilātren inza iltorūmnilshi.

Once I tell you, you will know.
ghil āzha ūmthenl pransir illātren.

▼ Wherever / Whenever / Whoever / Whatever

Wherever / Whenever / Whoever / Whatever

Shikathi uses the irrealis to express these ideas. In most cases, one would use the irrealis form of various pro-verbs. The most common pro-verbs are as follows:

ðafenm (thafenm) / ðafenl (thafenl) / ðafene (thafene) = wherever
ðenm (thenm) / ðenl (thenl) / ðene (thene) = whenever
kaenm / kaenl / kaene = that / which

Here are some examples:

I will listen wherever you speak.
inza ūmkīakām, āzha ilthafenm.

I will listen whenever you speak.
inza ūmkīakām āzha ilthenm.

I will listen to whomever speaks. (lit: I will listen to the person that might speak.)
ðarum āzha kaenm inza ūmkīlātr.

I will listen to whatever you say. (lit: I will listen to the thing that you might say.)
ðākū āzha ilkaenl inza ūmkīlātr.
äm āzha ilkaenl inza ūmkīlātr.

▼ May / Might

May / Might

Use the Irrealis mood to express these ideas. Any tense can be attached to the irrealis.

I may speak tomorrow. / I might speak tomorrow.
āzha ūmaren shingyrzhāðī. (present-irrealis)
āzha ūmkiaren shingyrzhāðī. (future-irrealis)

I may have spoken yesterday. / I might have spoken yesterday.
āzha ūmtraren togyrzhāðī.

▼ Idiomatic Expressions

Idiomatic Expressions

In Shikathi, there are some idiomatic expressions that have one meaning in the realis (indicative) mood and another meaning in the irrealis. The verb chōglaet akām is one such expression. chōglaet akām literally means to be a ruler. However, when its indicative form is paired with a gerund, it means must or have to. In it's irrealis form, it takes on the meaning should or ought to.

I am a king.
chōglet ūmakām

I must speak.
azhām chōglet ūmakām.

I should speak.
azhām chōglaet ūmaren.

Another example is with the indicative verbs tähir akām (to be empowered / able to), tähir lator (to empower/enable / authorize/allow), täh(y)r ekrō (to become empowered / able / authorized/allowed). When using their irrealis forms, the meanings are changed to to be possible, to make possible, to become possible respectively.

I can speak.
azhām tähr ūmakām
It's possible that I speak. / I could potentially speak .
azhām tähir ūmaren

You allow me to speak
shūm azhām tähir ilātr.
You make it possible for me to speak.
shūm azhām tähir ilātren.

I am allowed to speak.
azhām tähir ūmekrō.
It becomes possible for me to speak.
azhām tähir ūmoren

This change in meaning can also occur when using certain pro-verbs. The conjunction sytar means therefore / and so / thus. Its indicative pro-verbial forms (sytām / sytāl / syte or site) carry this meaning as well. However its irrealis forms (sytenm / sytenl / sytene) takes on the meaning for / in order that / so that.

You speak loudly therefore I listen.
āzha ilakām inzāðyhäthī inza ūmsytām.

You speak loudly so that I (can) listen.
āzha ilakām inzāðyhäthī inza ūmsytenm.

[top]Literary and Formal Usage

The Literary/Formal usage of the irrealis includes all cases as listed above as well as the rules listed below. It's important to remember that the irrealis usage outlined below is only applicable in certain cultural settings where a degree of formality is required. To use it outside of such settings would be considered pretentious. In informal settings, the gerund is used in place of the irrealis. In the examples, I will compare the formal with the informal.

A couple of general guidelines:

-For all of the rules below, the irrealis pro-verb kaenm / kaenl / kaene (that / which) is used.
-Remember that in order to use a pro-verb, the subject in the main clause must be different from the subject in the subordinate clause, otherwise use the gerund.

▼ Hopes, Wishes, Recommendations, Desires, Dreams

EnglishLiterary / Formal TranslationColloquial Translation
He hopes that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm ðōndin indrālator. shūm azhām ðōndin indrālator
He wishes for me to speak. āzha ūmkaenm thōn indrālator. shūm azhām thōn indrālator
He recommends that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm chōglaetazhaet indrālator. shūm azhām chōglaetazhaet indrālator
He dreams of me speaking to him. ghindra āzha ūmkaenm naea indrālator. shūm ghindra azhām naea indrālator

Other expressions in this category include:

shtīð lator = to look for
chōglaet lator = to demand / command / dictate
chōglet lātren = to obligate / oblige
chōgletthī lator = to decree
papāl lator = to request / ask for / to pray for / to beg for
shleām lator = to suggest / advise
ashtatil lator = to tell someone to do something
dräksnāk lator = to doom
fōlzhin lator = to keep someone from doing something
klakteraet lator = to keep someone from doing something
thōnith lator = to long for
thōnakthī akām = to be essential / to be necessary

▼ Possibility, Probability, Potential

EnglishLiterary / Formal TranslationColloquial Translation
It's possible that I speak. / I possibly speak. āzha ūmkaenm tährinthī kūakām. shūm azhām tährinthī kūakām.
(or) azhām tähir ūmaren. (this way is more common)
It's probable that I speak. / I probably speak. āzha ūmkaenm sheb kūakām. āzha ūmakām shepthī
He anticipates / awaits for / expects me to speak. āzha ūmkaenm sheb indrālator. shūm azhām sheb indrālator

Another expression in this category is:

tähir kūaren = It could be...
taoðī akām = to be usual / normal

▼ Denial / Impossibility / Improbability

EnglishLiterary / Formal TranslationColloquial Translation
It's impossible that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm tährintō kūakām. shūm azhām tährintō kūakām.
(or) azhām tähyrtor ūmaren. (this way is more common)
It's improbable that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm shebtō kūakām. āzha ūmakām sheptōðī
He denies that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm pransrāmyn indrālatorys. shūm azhām pransrāmyn indrālatorys.

Another expression in this category is:

taotor akām = to be rare
taotyrthī akām = to be strange / unusual

▼ Doubt

EnglishLiterary / Formal TranslationColloquial Translation
He doubts that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm rebok indrālator. shūm azhām rebok indrālator.
It's not certain if I speak. āzha ūmkaenm reboktr kūakāmtō. shūm azhām reboktr kūakāmtō.
It's doubtful that I speak. āzha ūmkaenm rebok kūakām. shūm azhām rebok kūakām.

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