Given the following sentences...

  1. The being ate the Earthling
    Chwtwobattaxkof kwmwhtiesh kielokebbexkof

  2. They are ordering the Earthling
    Vophanihdiezh kielokebbexkof

  3. I serve a dinner
    Bsazakiehdiazh rachatebbexkof

  4. I cook a Earthling
    Krwotihdiosh kielokebbexkof

  5. The beings eat Earthlings, but the Earthlings eat the beings
    Chwtwobattaxkov kwmwhdiezh kielokebbexkov naner kielokattaxkov kwmwhdiezh chwtwobebbexkov.

  6. You taste the Earthling
    Gabaotihdiash kielokebbexkof

  7. They served food
    Bsazakiehtiezh daxorpebbexkof

  8. They are the beings
    Ohdiezh chwtwobebbexkov

  9. You are the Earthling
    Ohdiash kielokebbexkof

  10. Earthlings served food
    Kielokattaxkov bsazakiehtiezh daxorpebbexkov

  11. You eat

  12. The beings taste
    Chwtwobattaxkov gabaotihdiezh

...can you explain the grammar?

Be careful! One of the sentences above is intentionally misspelled!

Translate the following:

  1. Kielokattaxkov ohtiezh chwtwobebbexkov.
  2. Ohdiash rachatebbexkof.
  3. Kielokattaxkov ohdiezh daxorpebbexkov.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is, for all intent and purposes, a sort of "test run" for a potential meta-puzzle series based on linguistic elements. As is such, any sort of feedback would be heavily appreciated $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 1:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Would you like to clarify whether "one of these is intentionally misspelled" refers to the things above it or the things below it? $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 1:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fixed. One of the sentences above are misspelled $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 1:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Feedback: Seems very straightforward. (Though of course I may have made mistakes by completely failing to notice subtleties.) The language is, aside from the barbarous orthography, rather similar to familiar Western European ones, even to the extent of maybe not distinguishing between "you (sg)" and "you (pl)", so there aren't a lot of surprises here. As a test run it's fine, but I think for a more serious puzzle I'd hope to see something a bit less familiar, if you see what I mean. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:06
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @NorthLæraðr I'd recommend focusing on specific aspects you can do differently. You can still make a linguistic puzzle that is small and focused, while keeping it interesting. What distinctions (or structures) can you make that Western European languages don't? What distinctions (or structures) can you ignore that Western European ones do make? Try building a puzzle around one or two interesting features (or even one or two words!) that work in an unusual way. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:15

1 Answer 1


It seems that

this is a fairly simple inflected language, at least so far as we can tell from the given sentences. Inflections come after the stem but "stack".
Verbs have a stem ending in h, after which there is a tense marker (d for present, t for past), a connecting i, and an ending which in the given examples is one of the following:
-osh (first person singular)
-ash (second person)
-esh (third person singular)
-ezh (third person plural)
I think (though the evidence is a bit thin) that -o/-a/-e indicates person and -sh/-zh indicates number. (In earlier versions of this answer, I thought that progressive aspect was sometimes marked by a change in inflection, but I have abandoned that idea.) Nouns have a stem ending in a consonant, after which there is a case marker (atta for the subject, ebbe for the object; these sentences don't include indirect objects, prepositions, etc.), then a connecting xko, then a number marker (f for singular, v for plural).
Pronouns appear not to be used, at least in the simple sentences here.
The only other word we see is naner meaning "but". It's probably invariant.
Word order generally seems to be SVO.
Articles appear not to be used.
The verb "to be" takes an object, not a complement.

The spelling error:

I think the -azh in example 3 should be an -osh. It's hard to be certain, but I suspect that in fact -sh is for singular and -zh for plural, so "we" would be -ozh, all the "you"s here are singular, and "you (pl)" would be -azh.

The sentences we were asked to translate:

Kielokattaxkov ohtiezh chwtwobebbexkov.

kielok is "earthling", atta is subject, ov is plural.
oh is "to be", t is past, ezh is third person plural.
chwtwob is "being", ebbe is object, ov is plural.
The earthlings were (the) beings.

Ohdiash rachatebbexkof.

oh is "to be", d is present, ash is second person.
rachat is "dinner", ebbe is object, of is singular.
You are dinner. Uh-oh.

Kielokattaxkov ohdiezh daxorpebbexkov.

kielok is "earthling", atta is subject, ov is plural.
oh is "to be", d is present, ezh is third person plural.
daxorp is "food", ebbe is object, ov is plural.
The earthlings are food-items. Uh-oh, again.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Damn it!!! I checked this over like five times and still an error. The long sentence is indeed -ezh. And the -ozh is also an error. That was supposed to be second person plural, but went unsued $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ I realized I didn't put any plural "you"s. That was unintentional, I didn't realize I left that out. The original variant was much more complex, but Deus said that it might've been too vague as to what was what, so I cut it down a lot. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ Basically, neither of your spelling error guesses were right. Like 99% of your guesses regarding everything else is correct though $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ So, wait, are you saying that both the things I thought might be errors are errors, or that neither of them is an error? Should I be going back and looking for an entirely separate error? I will gladly do that, but not right now because it's way past my bedtime :-). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ Both of them were indeed errors, but were unfortunately accidental. I'm mildly dyslexic, so I double-checking stuff like this can be a real nuisance, and sometimes even after checking multiple times I still miss stuff. There is a separate error to find. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:26

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