– SIAL –
An International Auxiliary Language

SIAL Syntax

Word Form Usage

Word Form Usage
Word Form Usage
divalent verbal verb with explicit object; preposition
monovalent verbal verb with no explicit object; adverb
vocative noun specifying the addressee(s)
nominal noun; action noun; adjective
particle various functions, depending on subclass

Order of Noun Phrase Constituents

The head of a noun phrase appears last in the phrase. The head is usually a lexical noun, but may be a lexical verb. If the noun phrase specifies the addressee(s), the head takes the vocative ending <-i> and if the noun phrase is used as a predicate, it takes the monovalent verbal ending <-e>; otherwise it takes the nominal ending <-o> (note, however, that pronouns don't vary in form). Noun modifiers always take the nominal ending <-o>.

Order of Clause Constituents

The order of clause constituents is subject-phrase  verb-form  object-phrase (SVO), when all of these constituents appear. Prepositional-phrases may be added at the end (SVOP). Constituent omissions include:

Adjectives, Possessives, and Relative Clauses

Adjectives, possessives, and relative clauses are constructions used as noun modifiers, restricting the set of possible referents.

A relative clause differs syntactically from a main clause in that

  1. it's followed by the particle <no> and
  2. the argument coreferencing the matrix phrase's head is null (where $ occurs in the examples).
However, that null argument is otherwise treated as being explicit, so that any preceding verb or preposition takes the divalent form (ending in <-a>).

When the coreferential argument is what's possessed, a possessive is used instead of a relative clause, with <mo> always replacing the hypothetical sequence <ma no>. In addition, the pronouns <me>, <te>, <se>, and <ki> have the special possessive forms <meo>, <teo>, <seo>, and <kio>, respectively.

When the coreferential argument would be the subject of a monovalent relative clause with no embedded predicates, the nominal form (ending in <-o> and called an adjective in this usage), is used instead of the hypothetical <-e no>.

Noun Modification Examples
damo vida rratto. "The woman saw a rat." $ vida rratto no damo "the woman who saw a rat"
damo vida $ no rratto "the rat the woman saw"
cikko ma kano. "The child has a dog." $ ma kano no cikko "the child that has dogs"
cikko mo kano "the children's dog"
te ma gatto. "You have a cat." teo gatto "your cat"
gatto dolme. "The cat's sleeping." $ dolmo gatto "sleeping cats"
kano glande. "The dog is big." $ glando kano "the big dog"

Noun Clauses and Auxiliary Verb Construction

Unlike a noun modifier, a noun clause functions as an argument by itself, whose referent is a situation rather than a participant. This difference is represented in syntax by the fact that a noun clause lacks the null referent of a relative clause.

When the subject of a noun clause is the same as the subject of the matrix, the auxiliary verb construction is used: the noun clause subject is deleted and so is the particle <no> at the end. If the noun clause ends in the noun form of the verb, that verb takes the monovalent form instead.

Noun Clause Examples
(1) to vida nas mo gatto manja pesco no. "She saw our cat eat the fish."
(2) me ne placa Tomaso kanto. "I don't like Tom['s] singing."
(3) me kela dona liblo a te. "I want to give you a book."
(4) elo damo ne pota baile. "That woman can't dance."

In (1), the noun clause is a full clause followed by the particle <no>. In (2), the noun clause is a nominal clause; it's like the full clause example except that the nominal form (ending in <-o>), is used instead of the hypothetical <-e no>. In (3) and (4), auxiliary verb constructions are used.

Partitive Phrases

A partitive phrase, specifying a subset or portion of some whole, consists of a noun phrase preceded by the particle <de> and followed by either the nominalizing particle <no> or a quantifier. The noun phrase refers to the whole and is pragmatically definite, while the partitive is pragmatically indefinite.

Partitive Examples
de eto liblo uno "one of these books"
de nas trio "three of us"
de omo mutco "many of the men"
de Malyo mo gatto no "one or more of Mario's cats"

This differs from normal quantification in that <de> doesn't occur and the quantifier precedes everything else in the phrase except determiners and pronouns.

Quantification Examples
eto uno liblo "this book"
nas trio "we three"
mutco omo "many men"
Malyo mo gatto "Mario's cat(s)"

Identity Clauses

An identity clause consists of two noun phrases separated by <da> and asserts, denies, or questions the identity of the phrases' referents. The appearance of <da> ensures that each of the two phrases is definite in some way.

Identity Examples
eto omo da vetro. "These men are the experienced ones."

Definition Clauses

Existential Clauses

Extraclausal Constructions

Topic Phrases

A topic phrase consists of a noun phrase followed by <pa> and is placed before the clauses to which it applies.

Vocative Phrases

A vocative phrase specifies the addressee(s) and its head takes the vocative ending. If used, it may be appear at any reasonable position in the sentence.


Comparisons involve such things as the scale of comparison, the subject of comparison, the standard of comparison, and the degree of comparison; how they're used depends on the construction.

Positive Constructions

With a relative positive, the standard of comparison is a norm implicit to the scale and subject. degree of comparison can be used only to specify the degree of difference from the norm.

With an absolute positive, the degree of comparison is required and absolute; no standard of comparison can occur.

Comparative Construction

The explicit comparative construction is formed by placing <pii> "more" or <men> "less" before the word denoting the scale of comparison and <ca> "than" before the standard of comparison.

Comparative Examples
eto gatto pii glande ca eso. This cat is bigger than that one.

There's also a temporal comparative construction.

There's also an equative construction.

Superlative Constructions

There are two superlative constructions. One is formed by placing <da pii> "the most" or <da men> "the least" before the word denoting the scale of comparison which will be followed by the modified noun or noun phrase. The other is formed by placing <pii> "more" or <men> "less" between a partitive phrase and the word denoting the scale of comparison.

Superlative Examples
eto da pii glando gatto. This is the biggest cat.
ci te ge-vida de eto gatto uno pii glando? Have you seen the biggest of these cats?

There's also an absolute superlative construction.

Satisfactive Constructions

A result construction typically uses words like "so" or "such":

The lecturer was so boring, I didn't pay attention.
At such a time, I took a nap.

and in English, a satisfactive construction uses "enough" while an excessive construction uses "too":

John was drunk enough to fall over.
This coffee's too hot to drink.

In SIAL, however, all three constructions are similar, each consisting of a satisfactive part and a result part. In a result construction, the result part denotes an actual event, while in a satisfactive or excessive construction, it denotes a hypothetical event.

The satisfactive part contains either the satisfactive degree adverb <sa> or the satisfactive determiner <so>. When <sa> appears, the satisfactive part must also contain (or imply) a word denoting the scale of comparison such as "boring", "drunk", "hot". Sometimes, such a word may occur with <so>. When no scale word is present or implied, the result must be actual.

The excessive construction is essentially a satisfactive construction using the word denoting the opposite in the scale (e.g. "interesting", "sober", "cold") and with the result part negated.

Satisfactive Examples
bi-kanto sa glave, katedro fi-flakte. The singer was so heavy, the chair broke.
omo sa infilme, lo pota fi-molte. The man was sick enough to die.
eto kaffeo sa kalde, u ne pota bibe. This coffee's too hot to drink.

page started: 2010.Jan.24 Sun
last modified: 2010.Mar.07 Sun
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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