Jul23/C6 –  A Constructed Language

Jul23/C6 Basic Morphosyntax

Legend: Definitions, Terms, <Text>, [IPA], -Tags-, and "Glosses".


Word Classification

The major word classes are predicates, quantity words, ordinal numbers, adverbs, determiners, index assignment markers, and particles. Determiners and index assignment markers are enclitic. The predicate class is used instead of distinct verb, adjective, noun, and adposition classes. Except for a few adverbs and quantity words, scalar words, which can be used as scales of comparison, are predicates.

Almost every quantity word stem is either a cardinal number, a fractional number, or the former followed by the latter. Predicate stem-formation is covered in Derivational Morphology, as is adverb stem-formation.

Lexicon entries will include class labels. For predicates, the label has 3 components.

Classes and Tokens

Foreign predicate roots are usually represented by quoted strings. Native predicate roots, adverb roots, some quantity word roots, and auxiliaries are represented by identifiers.

Cardinal and fractional numbers, which may be combined, are used as quantity words while ordinal numbers are special predicates.


Predicate inflections are added to the root in layers. Closest to the root are the scalar inflection slots (which apply only to scalar predicates), then any auxiliaries. The next layer is for the TAM slots and the outermost layer is for the agreement slots.

Positive polarity is unmarked while negative polarity is marked by a caret (^, Neg) prefixed to the last auxiliary root, if any, and otherwise to the root predicate or scalar stem.

Singular number is unmarked while plural number, if needed on the predicate, is marked by a colon (:, P) inserted immediately after the TAM slots.

Ordinal numbers take agreement morphology.

Basic Syntax

Sentences consist of clause chains. Each clause in a chain may contain phrases; there is no further syntactical embedding. Predicates are used as clause heads and as phrase constituents. Quantity words are used as phrase modifiers. Most particles are clause terminators.


A phrase consists of a determiner with at least 1 preceding constituent; its format is as follows:

(QuantityWord)  (RelativizedPredicate)*  Determiner  (IndexAssignment)

If no quantity word appears in the phrase and the quantity is > 1, the last predicate of the phrase is marked plural. However, number isn't marked when the phrase is non-referential.

Determiners are enclitic, as are the index assignment markers (3-7).

A relativized predicate is one with at least 1 permissible argument unmarked.

Note that there are no embedded relative clauses; correlative background clauses are used instead, if a relativized predicate isn't sufficient.

*3 Run Dog}
*3 Run Dog }
N-"3" run dog=Prox
"these 3 running dogs"


The determiners are shown in the following table:

Symbol Tag Description
? CQ content question
} Prox proximal demonstrative
{ Medi medial demonstrative
! Dist distal demonstrative
$ Def definite
& Ind indefinite
~ NR non-referential


Each clause contains a predicate or ordinal number functioning as the head of the clause and may also contain adverbs modifying the head and/or phrases acting as arguments to the head; all of these precede the head. A clause may also be terminated by a particle, according to the type of clause (described in Clause Chains).

The order of the argument phrases, when more than 1 appear, is Y  Z  X.

*3 Dog} Run.f
*3 Dog } Run .f
N-"3" dog=Prox run=Fin
"These 3 dogs are running."

Agreement Overview

In general, predicates have up to 3 arguments, labeled X, Y, and Z; the labels refer to both argument phrases and agreement slots.

Argument Structure Classes

The 2nd component of the predicate's class label represents the predicate's argument structure, which determines which of the arguments are used. For X and Y, if an argument slot is required, the personal affix for unspecified argument must appear on the predicate whenever no corresponding phrase appears and the argument isn't relativized, while if an argument is optional, that affix is omitted.

The following table gives the details of each argument structure class:

Argument Structure Classes
Label Name Y Z X
1 Univalent - - optional
U Impersonal optional - optional
P Patientive optional - required
A Agentive required - optional
2 Bivalent required - required
3 Trivalent required optional required

Names have argument structure class P. The X argument is the entity named and the Y argument is the naming entity.

Agreement Morphology

Agreement Affixes

The X slot is the last suffix and, when filled, contains either a pronominal value or the anaphoric clause localizer ({, Ana). The Y slot is the 1st prefix and, when filled, contains a pronominal value. The Z slot is the 2nd prefix and, when filled, contains a localizer value; these are identical to the demonstrative and content question determiners, as shown in the following table:

Localizer Values
Symbol Tag Name Description
? CQL content question where?
} Cat cataphoric immediately after clause
{ Ana anaphoric immediately before clause
! Rem remote elsewhere

The localizer specifies where reported speech is to be found. The slot may also be unmarked, when no such text appears.

The reciprocal marker (.R, Rec) makes a non-reciprocal bivalent or trivalent predicate reciprocal. It appears between the Y and Z slots.

Pronominal Affixes

The basic pronominal values include personal values and index values. The index values (3-7) are also used as index assignment markers. Pronominal values 1, 2, and 9 may be made plural by appending a colon (:, P).

Pronominal Values
Symbol Description Symbol Description
0 unspecified or indefinite -
1 1st person singular 1: 1st person exclusive plural
2 2nd person singular 2: 2nd person plural
3 index -
4 index -
5 index -
6 index -
7 index -
8 reflexive -
9 1st person inclusive dual 9: 1st person inclusive plural

Each predicate argument affix is usually a single pronominal value. However, pronominal values can be combined into an aggregate value (denoting the union of the referents) using plus signs (+), e.g. 3+4+1. They can also be combined into a disjunctive value using bars (|), e.g. 2:|5.

Agreement Syntax

Reflexives and Reciprocals

The reflexive pronominal appears only in the Y prefix slot.

Man$ 8See.f
Man $ 8-See .f
man=Def Rfx-see=Fin
"The man sees himself."

The reciprocal prefix .R (Rec) appears immediately after the Y slot.

Cat$ Dog$ .RSee.f
Cat $ Dog $ .R-See .f
Cat=Def Dog=Def Rec-see=Fin
"The cat and the dog see each other."

Reflexive marking is used instead of reciprocal marking when the 2 entities are represented by a single argument.

Man:$ 8See.f
Man-: $ 8-See .f
man-P=Def Rfx-see=Fin
"The men sees each other."

Usage of Agreement Affixes

An index value used as (or part of) an agreement affix coreferences a phrase appearing in a prior clause.

An X or Y affix slot may be null in the following circumstances:

A Z prefix slot may be null in the following circumstances:

page started: 2015.Jul.29 Wed
current date: 2015.Aug.15 Sat
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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