Suffixes hold a special place in the D'ni language. We've seen how important they are for verbs, where they function as personal endings. Suffixes are important for other parts of speech as well, where they most often function as what are called converting particles. We call them this because they are pieces of words, what grammarians call particles, that convert between parts of speech. In this lesson, we'll look at three converting particles that allow us to switch between nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.
Adjective to Noun: –(e)T
Say we have an adjective in English, good, which we want to transform into a noun, a word that means the quality of being good: goodness. By adding -ness to the English adjective, we end up with a noun form of that adjective. -ness is thus what we might call a converting particle, for English. Similarly, if we begin with the D'ni word ram, and add the converting particle –(e)T, it turns into the corresponding noun, rameT.
Note that there are parentheses around the e of –(e)T. This means that the e will only be used when it is required for pronunciation. When we turned ram into a noun, we needed to use the optional e because without it, the word would be difficult to say. (D'ni generally frowns on two consonants in a row.) For other adjectives, many of which already end in a vowel, there is no need for the e and it is left out.
Some English "converting particles" in addition to -ness that often transform adjectives to nouns, and might be helpful to associate with –(e)T, are: -ity (secure vs. security) and -ry (brave vs. bravery).
You may have also noticed that KeraT is the name of the last King of D'ni. This is no coincidence; sometimes these adjectives-become-nouns serve as epithets, names of honor and respect. It certainly took a great deal of bravery for Kerath to step down from his throne and institute a whole new form of government for his people. Other kings of D'ni history — Solath, Demath — have similar epithets for names, though we don't yet know what they might mean.
Noun to Adjective: – ex
Where –(e)T turns adjectives into nouns, the converting particle – ex goes the other way around, turning nouns into adjectives. Note that for – ex, the e is not in parentheses; it will always be included, regardless of whether the noun ends in a vowel or consonant.
Some common English suffixes that serve the same noun-to-adjective function are: -ic (acid vs. acidic), -ous (cavern vs. cavernous), -al (nature vs. natural), -ful (bounty vs. bountiful), and -y (rock vs. rocky).
The – ex converting particle plays a special role when applied to number words. Numbers can be both nouns — yim sen, I see three, where three works like a pronoun standing in for three rocks or three people — and adjectives — cUrtantE sen, three students. But what if, instead of saying three students, we wanted to say the third student? This is where we would use a number word with the – ex suffix: recUrtan senex. We call sen, which tells us a quantity, a cardinal number, while senex, which tells us the order in a sequence, is called an ordinal number. This use of – ex applies to any number, no matter how big or small.
Adjective to Adverb: –(e)S
With a firm grasp of how –(e)T works, this last converting particle should be easy to use. Like –(e)T, –(e)S is always suffixed onto adjectives; instead of changing them into nouns, though, –(e)S changes them to adverbs. These adverbs are never temporal, and so always come after the word(s) they modify.
There is really only one English suffix, -ly, that plays a similar adjective-to-adverb function.