Aug01 –  A Constructed Language

Aug01 Syntax

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


A phrase is either a noun phrase, a pronoun, a compound phrase, or an action noun construction. A noun phrase consists of a noun and may begin with a determiner and/or quantity word, in that order; any number of adjectives may appear before the noun. A noun phrase may be modified by a genitive phrase or possessive adjective instead of by the determiner. A noun phrase with no determiner or genitive modifier is definite in some way.


Word Tag Description Glosses
Prox proximal demonstrative this/these
Medi medial demonstrative that/those
Dist distal demonstrative yon
kʷai Q content question which
- - - -

Compound Phrases

A compound phrase is made up of phrases. Each phrase of the compound but the last is followed by an instance of a phrase conjunction. The phrase conjunctions are shown in the following table:

Phrase Conjunctions
Word Tag Description
- Agg conjunction (aggregation)
- Alt disjunction (alternation)

Action Noun Constructions

An action noun construction consists of an action noun, which may be preceded by a single argument phrase (in the O-case if animate).


A clause consists of, at the least, a verb construction acting as the head of the clause. It may also contain other constituents, such as adverbs, argument phrases, and secondary constructions.

A verb construction consists of a verb possibly preceded by a limited set of adverbs, such as the negative (bai, Neg) polarity particle.

Each imperative form has an implicit 2nd person argument, which always takes the donor/agent role. Each pivotal or infinitive form has an implicit more-topical animate argument taking either the donor/agent role or the recipient/patient role.

Argument Phrases

There are 3 types of argument phrases: more topical animate phrases in the S-case (S), less topical animate phrases in the O-case (O), and inanimate phrases (I). Which of these are possible for a given clause depends on the head verb's argument structure class and its agreement marking. This is shown in the following table:

Possible Verb Arguments
Marking Format Univalent Bivalent Trivalent
bilocal finite - none I
bilocal imperative - none I
unilocal coreferential - none I
unilocal finite none S or O or I S+I or O+I
unilocal imperative none S or O or I S+I or O+I
non-local coreferential none O or I O+I
non-local finite S or O or I S+O or S+I S+O+I

Note that argument phrases of any type may be omitted; this is how the passive, antipassive, and impersonal would be rendered.

Secondary Constructions

A secondary construction consists of a secondary form and, if the secondary form is marked as having a 3rd person argument, either an animate argument phrase in the O-case or an inanimate argument phrase.

Definition and Identity Clauses

Definition and identity clauses each have a subject argument and a complement. In a definition clause where the complement consists of an unmodified noun, the verb 0-derived from the noun is used as the head of the clause. For other definition clauses and all identity clauses, the copula is used as the head of the clause, with the complement phrase immediately preceding it.

Topic and Focus

A topical phrase appears first in the clause and, if animate, takes the S-case. The agreement on the head verb is 3rd person, even for personal pronouns.

A focused phrase appears immediately before the head verb construction and never takes the S-case. The agreement on the head verb is 3rd person, even for personal pronouns.

Note that the personal pronouns are used only for topic, focus, appositives, and in compound phrases.

Clause Subordination

There are 3 types of subordinate clauses: relative clauses, which modify arguments (adjectival), complement clauses, which replace arguments (nominal), and adjunct clauses, which appear in addition to the arguments (adverbial).

Complement Clauses

A complement clause appears instead of the inanimate argument phrase of its host clause, but is preposed to the host rather than being embedded. The complement clause is headed by a subjunctive or infinitive form; no complementizer is needed. If the head verb is an infinitive, the S-argument of the host is coreferenced (the S-argument of a clause is either a phrase in the S-case or is itself coreferential).


If the head of the host clause is a perception verb, the whole construction is an evidential strategy. For action complements, the inchoative is eveidentially direct while the stative and prospective are evidentially indirect.

With some other host verbs, the complement may not be prospective.

Adjunct Clauses

Each adjunct clause is followed by a subordinating conjunction.

Subordinating Conjunctions
Word Tag Description
- Tmp temporal relationship
- - -

Relative Clauses

A relative clause is an embedded indicative clause modifying an argument (the antecedent) of some matrix clause. It begins with a form of the relative pronoun, which takes its case according to its role within the relative clause. Its gender agrees with the antecedent noun. The relative clause appears after the modified phrase.


There are also headless relative clauses, for which no antecedent phrase appears. These begin with either sil (animate) or sem (inanimate).

Clause Coordination

Final Clauses

The final or main clause appears last and is headed by an indicative, pivotal, or imperative verb.

Coordinate Clauses

Each coordinate clause is followed by a coordinating conjunction. The head verb may be indicative or pivotal.

Coordinating Conjunctions
Word Tag Description
- - -


Polar questions are terminated by the polar question particle 'aŋ PQ while content questions are characterized by the presence of an interrogative pronoun, determiner, or adverb. The head verb of a question of either type is indicative.

Embedded Questions

An embedded question has the same construction as the corresponding independent question but appears in place of a complement clause. Note that embedded questions, headless relative clauses, and complement clauses are distinct.

page started: 2017.Aug.03 Thu
current date: 2017.Aug.07 Mon
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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