The rikchiks speak in what would be called
sign language by humans. The rikchiks use 7 of their tentacles
to speak with, putting each tentacle into a given shape and position to
form a word. A sequence of words is assembled
within the rikchik mind into a tree-like sentence structure.
There is now an incomplete but hopefully much clearer
language reference available.
Each word consists of 4 parts:
A central, 4-tentacle symbol representing the basic concept of the word.
See the morpheme catalog or
the morpheme quick-reference.
A 1-tentacle symbol on the lower left representing the "part
of speech" of the word.
- Morpheme: basic concept (4 tentacles)
- Aspect: "part of speech" (1 tentacle)
- Relation: relationship to collecting word (1 tentacle)
- Collector: number of previously uncollected words collected (1
A 1-tentacle symbol on the top representing the connection this word has
to the word that will collect it. Rikchiks learn these using a diagram,
shown below, about which more
information is available.
- Animate Noun:
used for living things and self-propelled machinery.
- Inanimate Noun:
used for non-living things, including dead things.
- Modifier (adjective/adverb)
replaces the aspect in a descriptive name to mark it as a name.
- Place: may include time?
any non-tangible noun that is not a place.
Below is a list of relations. In parentheses, the connection is
explained using T to refer to the word tagged with
this relation and using C to refer to the word collecting it.
See the relation diagram for more relation
A 1-tentacle symbol on the lower left representing how many unresolved
words this word will collect.
- Primary relations
- Agent (T does C)
(C is from T, C is because of T)
(something does C using T)
Quality (C is T-like)
Destination (C toward T)
(something does C to T)
(T contains, includes, or owns C)
(T is considered resolved and cannot be directly collected.)
- Reciprocal relations (not used as often)
- Task (C does T)
Result (T is because of C)
Example (T is C-like)
Means (T toward C)
Actor (something does T to C)
(C contains, includes, or owns T)
- 0 (this word stands alone)
Scholastic (collect all
immediately-preceding 0-collecting words)
The collector's position can also indicate the "pronomial"
status of the word. When this tentacle is in the "SE"
position, it does not indicate pronomialness. When this tentacle is
in the "ESE" position (slightly above the usual position),
it indicates that this word indicates the same thing/concept as the
previous word mentioned by this speaker using this word's morpheme.
Occasionally that will not be sufficiently specific; one might wish
to refer to an occurence other than the previous one. In that case,
this tentacle can be placed in the "E"
position (directly to the right of the word), which indicates a
modifier to a multipart pronomial.
See the sentence structure section for
more details about collectors.
The original human xenolinguists studying rikchik language found it
necessary to be able to write rikchik words and sentences in
plain text. They came up with a simple system. Each word is
represented as a 4-part structure:
Rikchik sentences are written from top to bottom, left to right.
However, they have a grammatical structure that humans describe as a
"tree". A tree is a structure of points and lines where
each point except the bottom one is connected to one and only one
point below it. In rikchik sentence trees, the role of points
is filled by words. The collector tentacle determines the number
of lines entering a word, and the relation tentacle determines the
meaning of a line. Basically, each word modifies the word that
collects it in some way.
In rikchik grammar, a single symbol, consisting of 7 tentacles, is
a "word". A word that is at the top of a tree (no connections
from words above it) can be referred to as a "leaf". Words
that are not leaves have some number of words connected above them.
We say that such a word "collects" the words above it.
The meaning of the connection between words is expressed by the
Relation tentacle, so those connections are referred to as
"relations". We also say that the upper word
"relates" to the lower word in a certain way.
Words that have the relation End do not get collected. If a word
has some other relation and has not been collected yet, we call
that word "unresolved".
Each word has a Collector tentacle that describes how that word
affects the tree structure. The tentacle is associated with a
number that says how many currently unresolved words that word
- The first part is the single-word meaning (or approximation
thereto) of the morpheme.
- The second part is the single-letter abbreviation for the aspect.
The abbreviations are:
- R(Rikchik) for Animate Noun
- T(Thing) for Inanimate Noun
- V for Verb
- M for Modifier
- N for Name
- P for Place
- I for Idea
- The third part is the single-word name of the relation.
- The fourth part is the code for the Collector, either a number
from 0 to 7 or S. P or O, for the pronomial and
option-pronomial, are appended to the Collector as appropriate.
As an example, take the sentence on the right. It means,
"A happy rikchik moves along the east-flowing water".
(Note: the colors of the Aspect, Relation, and Collector tentacles are
not necessary and are included here as an aide to the learner.)
The rikchik language has one departure from strict tree structure.
That departure is the pronomial, a modification of the Collector
tentacle. By putting the Collector in a slightly higher position,
the speaker or writer indicates that the word so tagged is referring
to the same thing the previous word using that morpheme referred to.
So, if you want to say something else about the same rikchik that we
just described going along the river, you could simply use the same
morpheme with a pronomial, as in Rikchik-R-Agent-0P "the previous
The first word, Happy-M-Quality-0, creates a new leaf.
The second, Rikchik-R-Patient-1, collects one unresolved word.
The previous unresolved word is Happy, so Rikchik collects that. The
sentence tree now consists of Rikchik collecting Happy.
The third, Sun-P-Source-0, is another leaf. There are now two
unconnected structures in the sentence. (Note: Sun, when coded as
a P (place), means "East".)
The fourth, Water-P-Instrument-1, collects one unresolved
word. There are two unresolved words available, Rikchik and Sun.
Sun is the most recent, so it is collected. The sentence still
consists of two separate structures: Rikchik collecting Happy, and
Water collecting Sun.
The fifth, Move-V-End-2, collects two unresolved words. It
collects both words, and the sentence is a single structure. This
word has the End relation, so no unresolved words remain.
The slightly raised position, called the "pronomial",
refers to the previous use of that morpheme by the
same speaker. If you wished to refer to the previous use of a
multi-morpheme structure, you would specify the modifiers to the
root morpheme with the "option-pronomial", which is an
even more raised position.
Here is Happy-M-Quality-0O Rikchik-R-Agent-1P "the previous
A final note about pronomials: the pronomial refers to the previous
word of that morpheme. The non-morpheme tentacles do not
have to agree: one could pronomially refer to the water that was a
place in the previous sentence as an inanimate noun.
The meaning of the parts of a tree is determined by the Relation
tentacle. A Relation indicates how the word it is part of modifies
or describes the word that will collect it. The most obvious use
of Relations is to specify the roles of words collected by a verb:
the subject is tagged as an Agent, the direct object as (usually)
a Patient, and so on. Relations are used for all connections,
however. At some points more examples will be here.
Notice that what Relations do in the rikchik language is what
word order does in many human languages. Word order is not
generally vital to the meaning of a Rikchik sentence. The
exception is when dealing with time, which is
Online rikchik typewriter
A rikchik typewriter is
Last modified January 29, 2003 by Denis Moskowitz.
Word assembly program utilizes
gd, a graphics library, and
a perl interface to gd. gd is © 1994, 1995, Quest Protein Database
Center, Cold Spring Harbor Labs. GD.pm is © 1995, Lincoln D. Stein.
Both are used with permission.