Apr28 –  A Constructed Language

Apr28 Basic Morphosyntax


Word Classes

The main division is into nominal words, such as nouns and pronouns, verbal words or predicates, such as verbs, quantity words, and conjunctions, and uninflected words, such as determiners. These classes are subdivided according to various factors.

Phrase Indexes

The phrase indexes are tagged with lower-case letters: i, j, k, l, m, and n. They indicate the phrases that predicates refer to. There's also a 0 index, i.e. the absence of an index.

Nominal Morphology

The inflection that all nouns and pronouns take is the index, which is marked by a suffix. There's also a vocative noun suffix (-Voc), which replaces the index. Nouns may take a prefix p(e)- (P-) indicating plural number.

The pronouns include:

Base Description Animate Inanimate
Singular Plural Sing. Plur.
1st 2nd 1st 2nd
3- 3rd person nós nás nés
Dem- demonstrative lau laus lai lais
CQ- content question qau qai
Exi- existential quantifier
Uni- universal quantifier ??? ???
RP relative

Basic Nominal Syntax

Noun Phrases

A phrase is either a noun phrase or a pronoun and may be followed by a relative clause. A basic noun phrase begins with a determiner and ends with a noun. Noun modifiers, which are attributive clauses, come between the determiner and the noun. If the phrase is existential and a quantity word is to be used, the quantity word replaces the determiner. The plural noun prefix is used only if there's no other indication of number in the phrase.

Def black cat-i "the black cat"
Dem here P-elephant-i "these elephants"
[3] white elephant-i "3 white elephants"


The determiners are:

Word Tag Description
- NR non-referential
ban UNI universal quantifier
zu EXI existential quantifier
xi SPC indefinite, specific
ne DEF definite
la DEM demonstrative
qa CQ content question
- PN proper noun

Relative Clauses

A relative clause begins with the particle BRC and ends with the particle ERC; the clause in between is like a main clause except that the relative pronoun RP appears where the relativized noun phrase would have been. The index on the pronoun indicates the role it has within the relative clause.

Verbal Morphology

Predicates are classified as verbs, quantity words, conjunctions, and adjectives. Adjectives are words that can be used as the scale of comparison and overlap the other classes.

Verbs are inflected for pluractionality, aspect, polarity, and agreement for up to 3 arguments. Aspect will be covered later.

A verb can be marked pluractional using the prefix r(e)- (Plu). It appears closest to the stem of the inflectional prefixes.

Polarity is positive (0), negative (ná-, Neg-), or affirmative (hé-, Aff-).


Note: There are no 3rd person pronominals other than indexes; the anaphoric pronouns or definite noun phrases must be used to identify references from previous sentences.

A predicate may have up to 3 arguments. The 1st argument is marked by prefix, the 2nd by suffix, and the 3rd by a second suffix. Each affix can be either an index or a pronominal. The roles for each verb argument are as follows (later sections will cover other predicates and additional pronominals):

The personal pronominals, indexes, and special pronominals are:

Pronominals and Indexes
1st 2nd 3rd Tag Description Application
s(u)- -s(u) - 1S 1st person singular verbs and quantity words
son- -son - 1XP 1st person exclusive plural
cin- -cin - 1NP 1st person inclusive plural
c(i)- -c(i) - 2S 2nd person singular
cé- -cé - 2P 2nd person plural
- -zí - Rfx Reflexive (all persons) verbs
be- -be/u -be/u i Indexes all predicates
ja- -ja/i -ja/i j
ka- -ka/k -ka/k k
re- -re/r -re/r l
mi- -mi/m -mi/m m
gu- -gu/a -gu/a n
- -xu/x - O Now conjunctions
- -na/n - T At that time
- -tá - S At such a time
- - -tó Sat degree: So, enough adjectives of whatever class
- - -má Vry degree: Very
- - -ly Sly degree: Slightly
- - -ké SD degree: the Same Day adjectival conjunctions

Quantity Words

Quantity words such as cardinal numbers may be inflected for person and number of the whole, using the 2nd argument (see Partitive Construction). The suffixes used are the same as for verb agreement minus Rfx.


An adjective uses the 1st and 2nd arguments in the same way as the class it belongs to. In addition, the 3rd argument is used for the degree of comparison.

Basic Verbal Syntax

Usage of 0 Index

It makes a difference whether the verb modifies a noun (attributive) or not (free). If free, each argument is either a pronominal or an index (the 0 index has 2 interpretations: an adjacent argument or an unspecified one). If attributive, the marking is the same, but the interpretation is different: the first 0 index encountered is coreferential with the head noun, not unspecified or adjacent. At least one argument must be a 0 index.

Basic Clauses

A clause consists of one or more free verbs with their arguments. An argument may be a phrase, a pronoun, or a nominalized clause. If an argument appears adjacent to its verb (before if the prefixed argument, after otherwise), both verb and argument may take the 0 index. However, this makes the argument inaccesible to other verbs in the sentence. A main clause may also have adjuncts and/or coordinate clauses after it; these are introduced by various conjunctions.

Spc man eat-i i-raw Def meat-i "This man ate the meat raw."
Def cat-i 1XP-put-i i-in Def house. "We put the cat in the house."

A nominalized clause begins with the nominalizing pronoun Nom.

PN John-j Def elephant-i j-want Nom j-see-i.
"John wants to see the elephant."
Def building-i Nom-j demolish-i PN Mary watched-j.
"Mary watched the demolition of the building."

The theme may have a 0 index only if the only thing between it and the verb is a 0 index recipient phrase.

Def woman give Def boy [1] book.
"The woman gave the boy a book."

page started: 2013.Apr.29 Mon
current date: 2013.May.02 Thu
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

Table of Contents