I don't understand why in "Rina hont(i) r(y)bas" the accented "i" denotes a singular bird but "Rina taob(i) r(y)bas" the accented "i" denotes PLURAL boys. If anyone can explain this, my HV will improve by at least 50% Thanks!
In this instance, it would be correct to translate hontī into bird or birds according to the declension charts. In fact I have put in a couple of reports on sentences where only one is accepted, to ask that they should both be accepted.
In other instances there are different ways of forming the plural; what ending a noun will take in the plural accusative is largely dependent upon the gender and the stem vowel (as well as the number and case).
[For the plural accusative, the final vowel is normally -ī, but sometimes -a. It’s only -a when the stem-vowel (found towards the end of the nominative singular) is o or i. (With the proviso that the noun endings are fuller than just the final vowel, so -issa or ossa for solar nouns, and -rī and -ra for aquatic nouns.) This makes the plural accusative quite simple to produce -- although -ī and -a are found as endings signifying other things too.]
For anyone wondering, here is more information about nouns and how their endings change in High Valyrian:
A couple of quick definitions
First, for anyone who is unsure, a quick definition of declension: a set of nouns. Moreover (but less briefly), a set of nouns which in a language with cases share certain similarities - a pattern. So where there is a pattern, it should make their changes easier to remember, because they have similarities to one another.
Let's define case too. How a noun changes to show what it is doing in the sentence - for example, whether it is the one doing the verb (the nominative case), or whether it is the one the verb is acting upon (the accusative case).
[These definitions are to provide a useful starting point for what I write below. They are not meant as an academic or complete guide to these words.]
Looking at High Valyrian declensions
High Valyrian has 6 declension classes. The first 5 of these interact with the 4 genders to create 14 standard patterns (ignoring subtypes). There are enough similarities in the declension tables that, even though 14 sounds a high number, the essentials - with a little practice - are easy enough to grasp. (Well, there are also enough differences that it can be tricky.)
The sixth declension is for foreign words, and we need not concern ourselves overly with it. The other 5 are each based around a vowel found near the end of the stem of the noun in the nominative singular. With Riña and taoba, the vowel is -a. With hontes the vowel is -e-. Respectively this means they belong to the first (a) declension and the fourth (e) declension.
We can also tell the likely gender of the nouns. A nominative singular noun which ends in a vowel is generally lunar, whereas those that end in an -s are generally solar.
We can then look their respective tables up on the page linked to above. Riña and taoba both follow the same pattern as vala, the 1st lunar. For now we only need to concern ourselves with the nominative and accusative, and the singular and plural. (The other 6 cases are introduced briefly later, but most time is spent with the nominative and accusative.) This reduces a daunting memory feat to one much less daunting.
[However, I am not going to draw up a reduced chart for each of the 14 main patterns, but instead I will only show reduced charts for a couple of key nouns (from the linked to page) and also reduced charts for the nouns mentioned already that correspond to those key nouns.]
1st lunar nouns
Nom: sg. vala | pl. vali
Acc: sg. vale | pl. valī
Nom: sg. riña | pl. riñi
Acc: sg. riñe | pl. riñī
Nom: sg. taoba | pl. taobi
Acc: sg. taobe | pl. taobī
4th solar nouns
hontes follows the same pattern as zaldrīzes
Nom: sg. zaldrīzes | pl. zaldrīzesse
Acc: sg. zaldrīzī | pl. zaldrīzī
Nom: sg. hontes | pl. hontesse
Acc: sg. hontī | pl. hontī
Note that the accusative hontī can be either singular or plural. If the course is not yet accepting both for this sentence, then when it is marked wrong it should be reported in lesson as "My answer was correct". Through this mechanism the courses gradually improve.
I find the solar nouns particularly distinctive because of how they form their nominative plural: -esse -yssy -ossa -issa (the latter two are also used for the accusative plural).
For everyone wondering in general about the plurals:
I hope this helps!
"Note that the accusative hontī can be either singular or plural. If the course is not yet accepting both for this sentence, then when it is marked wrong it should be reported in lesson as "My answer was correct". Through this mechanism the courses gradually improve."
This and the link you gave were extremely helpful!! Thanks! :)
I'm glad it was helpful.
I should have already been asleep when I wrote that post - otherwise I would have spotted hontī immediately without focusing on explaining so much about how High Valyrian works. I would probably have typed a lot less that way.
I have now added a paragraph with the information about hontī at the front of the post, just so the most relevant information comes first. :-)