Jan29 –  A Constructed Language

Jan29 Syntax


A phrase consists of a noun and its modifiers, which in Jan29 are limited to genitives and relative clauses. Genitives usually precede the word containing the noun, while relative clauses usually follow. Since the noun, of course, is always part of a word, a phrase can't stand by itself. In the following sections, the symbol =??? will stand in for the verb part.

Simple Relative Clauses

A relative clause contains a word whose noun part is the pronoun Rel=; in a simple relative clause, this word is the only word in the clause. More complicated relative clauses will be covered later.

UP-cat=??? Rel=white Rel=2 "the 2 white cats"

Possessives and Partitives

The possessor takes the genitive case (=Gen, =r) and usually precedes the possessum it modifies.

1S=Gen cat=??? "my cat"

The partitive construction uses the genitive of a definite noun or pronoun (the whole) modifying an indefinite pronoun of the same gender (the part). If the part is plural, it may be modified by a quantity.

3P-cat=Gen US-A=??? "1 of the cats"
3P-man=Gen UP-H=??? Rel=2 "2 of the men"
NP=Gen UP-H=??? "some of us"
coffee=Gen US-I=??? "some of the coffee"

Main Clauses

The simplest clauses consist of a phrase and a verb:

xaufaporca. xaufa=porc-a
"The dog is large." dog=large-Dur

UP-cat=old-Dur Rel=white Rel=2 "The 2 white cats are old."
NP=Gen UP-H=hungry-Dur "Some of us are hungry."

Other clauses may have more than one phrase=verb combination. There are 5 kinds of verbs with respect to what the noun part's role is and what other verbs or cases tend to appear with them in a clause.

  1. VS These are semantically univalent; the noun part has the subject role.
  2. VL These are relational; the noun part has the subject role and there is usually an accompanying location phrase (=Loc, =lo).
  3. VE These involve perception; the noun part has the perceiver role and there is usually an accompanying image phrase (=Img, =k) for what's perceived.
  4. VP These are basically transitive; the noun part has the patient role and there is usually an accompanying agent phrase (=Agt, =n).
  5. VT These are semantically trivalent; the noun part has the theme role. These will be covered in the next section.

Here are some examples of the first 4 kinds:

xaufatini liporca. xaufa=tin-i li=porc-a
"The large dog ran." dog=run-Aor Rel=large-Dur

ñôkolma festalo. ñôko=lm-a festa=lo
"The cat is in the house." cat=in-Dur house=Loc

pecnowari jûmèn tas teknêkopti.
pecno=war-i jûmè=n ta=s teknê=kopt-i
rock=throw-Aor boy=Agt Sub=Rsl window=break-Aor
"The boy threw the rock, breaking the window."

feniki jûmèk. fè=nik-i jûmè=k
"I saw the boy." 1S=see-Dur boy=Img

Giving and Telling

There are at least 2 kinds of trivalent verbs, the "give" kind and the "tell" kind. The verb "give" is usually accompanied by a recipient phrase with the allative case (=All, =se) and a donor which usually has both the ablative case (=Abl, =mi) and the agent case.

sarèn nami jûfise mocaxlasti.
sarè=n na=mi jûfi=se mo-caxla=st-i
man=Agt Rfx=Abl girl=All IndS-book=give-Aor
"The man gave the girl a book."

The verb "tell" is usually accompanied by a recipient phrase with a perception verb and an agent phrase for the speaker. The theme is what's told and is usually a subordinate clause.

Mêrin foqoni tafri soprasolpi.
Mêri=n fè=qon-i ta=fr-i sopra=solp-i
Mary=Agt 1S=hear-Aor Sub=say-Aor picture=fall-Aor
"Mary told me that the picture fell."

Jânon Mêruqoni tafri ñôkolma festa=lo.
Jâno=n Mêri=qon-i ta=fr-i ñôko=lm-a festa=lo
John=Agt Mary=hear-Aor Sub=say-Aor cat=in-Dur house=Loc
"John told Mary that the cat was in the house."

Tâmon 'aufri. Tâmo=n '-au=fr-i
"Tom said it." Tom=Agt 3S-X=say-Aor

In the subordinate clause, Rfx= refers to the speaker and Cor= to the hearer. Other perception and information verbs can be used.

Mary=Agt John=see-Dur Sub=write-Aor Cor=Gen Rfx=mother-Id
"Mary wrote to John informing him that she's his mother."

Identity and Definition Clauses

The copulas of identity and definition aren't verbs, but derive verbs from nouns. The base noun can still be modified by genitives and relative clauses, provided that the word's noun part isn't a common noun.

Faidôxaufame. Faidô=xaufa-me
"Fido is a dog." Fido=dog-Def

Jânor Mêrimamate. Jâno=r Mêri=mama-te
"Mary is John's mother." John=Gen Mary=mother-Id

Tâmosarete lika cûnika. Tâmo=sarè-te li=ka cû=nik-a
"Tom is the man you're looking for." Tom=man-Id Rel=Tar 2P=see-Dur

Ordinals and Superlatives

Ordinal numbers are verbs regularly derived from cardinal numbers.

DP-man=1-Ord-Dur Rel=Prox "These men are 1st."

Superlatives are verbs regularly derived from adjectival verbs. They modify definite nouns.

Fido=dog-Id Rel=big-Sup-Dur "Fido is the biggest dog."
1P=see-Dur cat=old-Sup-Dur "We saw the oldest cat."

Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses begin with a word whose noun part is the pronoun Sub=, the usage being determined by the verb part.

Sub=Tar taka purpose clause
Sub=Rsl tas result clause
Sub=Ins tane means clause
Sub=Cau tatko "because" clause
Sub=Tmp temporal adjunct clause
Sub=Img tak perceived or imagined events

Other cases and verbs are possible with Sub=.

Image Clauses

woman=see-Dur Sub=Img city=destroy-Aor "The woman saw the destruction of the city."

Purpose Clauses

Tom=Agt NR-deer=hunt-Hab Sub=Tar Cor=eat-Hab "Tom hunts deer for food."

Purpose clauses can be used as the complements of auxiliaries.

John=want-Dur Sub=Tar Cor=see-Dur elephant=Img "John wants to see the elephant."
3S=want-Dur Sub=Tar John=see-Dur elephant=Img "They want John to see the elephant."

A purpose clause by itself is used for imperatives, hortatives, and jussives.

taka cimîci ta-ka ci=mîc-i
"Come here." Sub=Tar 2S=Prox-Aor

Resultatives and Depictives

A resultative is a secondary predicate specifying the result of the host clause's action. In Jan29, result clauses are used for resultatives (as well as for result clauses proper).

1S=Agt Sub=Rsl cat=in-Dur house=Loc "I put the cat in the house."
Mary=Agt metal=pound-Aor Sub=Rsl Cor=flat-Dur "Mary pounded the metal flat."

Note that noun results don't use Sub=:

3P-wiseman=smash fragment=Rsl "The wisemen got smashed to pieces."

A depictive is a secondary predicate specifying the state of one of the host clause's arguments at the time of the host situation. A depictive may be introduced by , but this is optional. Note the use of Rfx= to refer to the agent and Cor= to refer to the patient.

John=Agt meat=eat-Aor (Sub=Tmp) Cor=raw-Dur "John was eating the meat raw."
John=Agt meat=eat-Aor (Sub=Tmp) Rfx=nude-Dur "John was eating the meat nude."

Temporal Adjunct Clauses

Different conjunctions are used for "before" and "after"; the same conjunction is used for "during" and "when", the difference being indicated by aspect.

Mary=leave-Aor after John=Agt US-I=eat-Aor "Mary left after John had eaten."
Mary=leave-Aor before John=Agt US-I=eat-Aor "Mary left before John ate."
Mary=leave-Aor when John=Agt US-I=eat-Dur "Mary left while John was eating."
John=Agt US-I=eat-Dur when Mary=leave-Aor "John was eating when Mary left."


Usage of the Aspects

For dynamic verbs, the durative aspect is progressive, while for static verbs, it's stative and normally used in non-present contexts as well as the present. This is because the aoristic aspect is inchoative for static verbs, denoting entry to the state.

John=drunk-Dur party=Tmp "John was drunk during the party."
John=drunk-Aor party=Tmp "John got drunk during the party."

Usage of the Cases

Changing a case can sometimes change the meaning of a verb:

1S=see-Dur John=Img "I saw John."
1S=see-Dur John=Tar "I was looking for John."

page started: 2013.Feb.02 Sat
current date: 2013.Feb.06 Wed
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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