Aug06 –  A Constructed Language

Aug06 Syntax


All noun modifiers follow the head noun. Relative clauses are externally headed, begin with the particle kor Rel, and contain the relative pronoun na (RP), which marks the role of the head noun within the relative clause. Attributives are used instead of relative clauses whenever possible.

dakto kor enafyo ximma suqna
da-kto kor e-na-fyo xi-mma su-qna
D-cat Rel Fac-RP-find Nom-mother Gen-man
"the cat the man's mother found"

daqna kor efyo dakto ximma sna
da-qna kor e-fyo da-kto xi-mma s-na
D-man Rel Fac-find D-cat Nom-mother Gen-RP
"the man whose mother found the cat"

daxta kor embe xmi dakto ponarbo
da-xta kor e-mbe x-mi da-kto po-na-rbo
D-house Rel Fac-see Nom-1S D-cat Dep-RP-in
"the house in which I saw the cat"

Determiner Usage

Besides anaphoric usage, the definite noun prefix (or the unmarked definite) is used with certain kinds of modifiers, such as ordinal numbers and superlatives. The effect of a demonstrative is achieved by using an attributive locational verb along with definite marking on the noun.

daxta hummi
da-xta hu-mmi
D-house Att-here
"this house"

The non-referential noun prefix, often translated as "any", is used when no particular entity is referred to, in contrast with the singular and plural indefinite noun prefixes.


The verb appears at the start of a clause; it can be preceded only by a conjunction or a fronted content question phrase. Any subject, object, adjunct, or complement clause appears after the verb, usually lightest first and heaviest last. Complement clauses, adjunct clauses, and nouns modified by relative clauses tend to be heavy, while pronouns are light.

Case Usage

Nom identifies the subject of any clause
Acc identifies the direct object of a verb in any mode
Ins identifies the agent of a passive verb or the instrument or the causee
Dat identifies the indirect object
Gen identifies the possessor
Par identifies the whole of which a part is selected
Voc identifies the addressee(s)
Tmp identifies the time when the situation occurs

Complement Clauses

A complement clause begins with a verb in the subjunctive or optative mode; there's no complementizer particle. The optative mode is used for hypothetical situations while the subjunctive is used for factual ones. Complement clauses are used as objects of verbs.

emya xikto yuxakci dacpli.
e-mya xi-kto yu-xa-kci da-cpli
Fac-want Nom-cat Opt-SS-catch D-bird
"The cat wants to catch the bird."

Adjunct Clauses

A temporal clause begins with the particle Adj- followed by a verb in the subjunctive mode. The relationship between the time of the host clause and that of the adjunct clause is determined by the aspect of the adjunct verb.

A purpose clause begins with the particle pala (Adj-) followed by a verb in the optative mode.

ekci xiqna seslu pala yuxakikme.
e-kci xi-qna se-slu pala yu-xa-ki-kme
Fac-catch Nom-man S-fish Adj Opt-SS-3IS-eat
"The man caught a fish in order to eat it."

Aspect and Tense

The interpretation of the aspect depends on the mode as well as the verb's action type. First, the types of tense:

For the aorist, if the time reference is absolute present, the situation is past; in this case, the aorist refers to a definite time, while the perfect refers to an indefinite time. If the time reference is relative present, the situation is cotemporal. If the time is absolute future, the situation is also future. If the time is relative future, the situation is also relative future.

For the other three aspects, the situation time is relative to the time reference, with the perfect being earlier, the future later, and the present concurrent.

Compound Tenses

The static verbs "remember" and "predict" are used as auxiliaries in constructing compound tenses. The auxiliary uses only present tense (unmarked) and the content verb is in the subjunctive mode. The aspect of the content verb is present for the past and future progressive, perfect for the past and future retrospective, and future for the past and future prospective.

Copular Clauses

The complement phrase appears first, then the subject phrase. The complement head noun takes the definite complement prefix (DC-) in identity clauses and the indefinite complement prefix (IC-) in definition clauses. The complement prefix is preceded by an appropriate mode prefix; polarity may be marked as well. The subject head noun is in the nominative case.

eforfi xisse hummi.
e-fo-rfi xi-sse hu-mmi
Fac-IC-dog Nom-one Att-here
"This is a dog."

cejixta kor esku xtu darfi ponarbo dasse hummi?
ce-ji-xta kor e-sku x-tu da-rfi po-na-rbo da-sse hu-mmi
FPQ-DC-house Rel Fac-hear Nom-2S D-dog Dep-RP-in D-one Att-here
"Is this the house in which you heard the dog?"

Note that the nominative case marking for sse "one" is 0 in the 2nd example, since its antecedent xta "house" is inanimate.


Most kinds of adverbs are constructions rather than single words; except for time-when adverbs, each adverb consists of a noun in the instrumental case followed by an attributive word.

Adverbs of Manner

The noun used is nga "manner" and the modifier is an adjective (which can take any of the adjective prefixes, as appropriate).

e? daqna benga luqco.
e-? da-qna be-nga lu-qco
Fac-leave D-man Ins-manner Pos-angry
"The man left angrily."

Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degree are used with adjectives. The noun designates the units and the modifier is a quantity word.

Possibly, the noun should be marked non-referential?

Adverbs of Duration

A time-units noun is used; the modifier is a quantity word.

Adverbs of Frequency

There are 2 kinds of these. The 1st kind (frequency proper) consists of the noun "frequency" followed by "much" or "little". The 2nd kind consists of either "occasion" or "iteration" with a quantity word modifier.


Explicit Comparison

An explicit comparison involves a scale of comparison, a subject of comparison, a standard of comparison, and possibly a degree of comparison. The scale of comparison is an adjective with either the comparative or the equative prefix and denotes the quality with respect to which the comparison is made. The subject of comparison is the phrase denoting the entity being compared. The standard of comparison is a depictive secondary predicate whose object denotes the entity to which the subject of comparison is compared. If the adjective is marked equative, "match" is used as the depictive; if the adjective is marked comparative, "exceed" is used. In the latter case, the degree of comparison, a degree adverb with appropriate units, may appear, specifying the amount of difference between the subject of comparison and the standard of comparison.

Implicit Comparison

In an implicit comparison, no explicit standard of comparison appears. Instead, the standard is the subject of comparison at an earlier time.

Superlative Construction

There are two superlative constructions: an explicitly partitive one and one where the partitive semantics is only implied. In the latter, the superlative adjective appears as a modifier following the head noun. In the former, the superlative adjective modifies a dummy noun and is followed by the content noun which is in the partitive case (and definite). In both constructions, any word specifying the quantity of the part appears before the superlative adjective. If no quantity word appears, the quantity is assumed to be singular. The quantity of the whole (which is implicitly plural) can be specified only using the explicitly partitive construction.

dakto doqco
da-kto do-qco
D-cat Sup-angry
"the angriest cat"

dasse doqco jakto hugge
da-sse do-qco ja-kto hu-gge
D-one Sup-angry Par-cat Att-two
"the angriest of the two cats"

page started: 2013.Aug.10 Sat
current date: 2013.Aug.13 Tue
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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