MNCL6 –  A Constructed Language

MNCL6 Syntax

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

Syntax Overview

The syntactical word classes are verbs, adjectives, nouns, quantity words, and particles. However, to avoid confusion, syntactical verbs, adjectives, and nouns will be referred to as finite forms, attributive forms, and case-marked forms.


A phrase consists of a case-marked or finite form preceded by any number of attributive forms. Any of these may be a pronominal or content word stem. However, the least marked order (in terms of lexical classes) for case-marked phrases is:

RelativeClause Pronominal Quantity Verbs Noun

If any quantity word appears, an indefinite pronominal is omitted.

Most finite phrases consist of only a verb, but for those that don't, the above applies.

The phrase may be preceded by a genitive phrase representing a possessor. The possessor of a verbal noun is the descriptee, patient, or theme of the original verb, depending on whether it's univalent, bivalent, or trivalent.

A phrase containing a pronominal is always referential; other phrases are non-referential unless modified by a genitive or containing a relative clause, in which case they're definite.

The argument of a verb appearing within a phrase is always interpreted as non-referential and can't have its own modifiers. In order to modify such an argument, a relative clause must be used.

Partitives and Ordinals

A partitive construction specifies the cardinality of a part selected from some whole; it's always indefinite. It consists of a partitive-case phrase specifying the whole followed by a quantity word for the part.

lo so shiilor duzi
l-o s-o shiil-or duz-i
3-Att P-Att fish-Par "3"-Erg
"3 of the fish"

An ordinal construction consists of a partitive-case phrase as above followed by an ordinal number, which may be accompanied by a quantity word specifying some non-singular cardinality. Alternately, an ordinal number may be used without the partitive, if the cardinality of the whole isn't to be specified. Ordinal constructions are automatically definite.

lo vimo kuchor sovo yavathokh
l-o vim-o kuch-or sov-o yav-ath-okh
3-Att "8"-Att boy-Par "2"-Att "1"-Ord-Dat
"the 1st 2 of the 8 boys"

Compounding and Incorporation Substitutes

An unmodified non-referential word taking the combining form final (-au -Com) may precede a verb as if incorporated or a noun as if acting as the modifier of a compound. The interpretation may be lexical. Any preceding modifiers apply to the phrase, not the modifier or incorporated word.

izho shakmau soprai
izh-o shakm-au sopr-ai
3-Att book-Com house-Loc
"at this library"

lo fogo shiilau beshesho taiki
l-o fog-o shiil-au besh-esh-o taik-i
3-Att old-Att fish-Com eat-Hab-Att cat-Erg
"the old fish-eating cat"

Compound Phrases

All but the last component of a compound phrase ends in either the aggregative or the alternative final (-an Agg and -el Alt, respectively).


A clause contains, at minimum, a phrase ending in a finite form and any number of argument phrases ending in case-marked forms, excluding genitive and partitive phrases. The finite phrase tends to be last.

Usage of the Cases

The following table summarizes the usage of the adverbial cases:

Adverbial Case Usage
Tag Name Usage
-Abs Absolutive subject, descriptee, patient, theme
-Erg Ergative actor, descriptee (voluntary), agent, donor
-Dat Dative recipient, destination, purpose
-Abl Ablative source, origin
-Ins Instrumental instrument, route, degree
-Loc Locative location, time when
-Voc Vocative addressee(s)

The following table summarizes the usage of the adnominal cases:

Adnominal Case Usage
Tag Name Usage
-Gen Genitive possessor, location
-Par Partitive whole set or mass entity

Besides modifying phrases, the genitive case is also used to specify the location argument of a relational verb (whose descriptee can be absolutive or ergative). Note that a genitive argument must immediately precede its verb.

The absolutive argument of a verb such as dob- "sleep" specifies a location while the ergative case is used for the actor.

The following table summarizes the core case usage:

Argument Structures
Class Abs Erg Dat Gen
-1- Univalent Descriptee - -
-R- Relational Descriptee - Location
-2- Bivalent Patient Agent - -
-3- Trivalent Theme Donor Recipient -

Aspect, Tense, and Mood Usage

A jussive mood clause is hortative when the actor, agent, or donor is inclusive person.

The absolute present medial can appear only in a context that's not already absolute present tense, such as a main clause.

The usage of each aspect is shown in the following table:

Aspect Usage
Tag Name As Aspect As Tense
Stative current state present state
-Hab- Habitual current series of actions present series of actions
-Prg- Progressive current action present action
-Aor- Aoristic action taken as a whole definite past
-Prf- Perfect prior situation indefinite past
-Pro- Prospective subsequent situation future

The following table gives the usage of the unmarked aspect for each class:

Unmarked Aspects
Class Aspect
A- Scalar Stative
V-S Static Stative
V-H Habitual Habitual
V-D Dynamic Aoristic


The arguments of a reciprocal clause that affect each other are combined into a single compound aggregate phrase, always in the ergative case if the verb is bivalent or trivalent. The reciprocal pronoun yos· Rec appears in the appropriate case for the object, absolutive if bivalent and dative if trivalent. Note that relationals don't usually use this syntax as they're either inherently reciprocal or non-reciprocal.

botaaman bojaani yosa khajale.
bo-taam-an bo-jaan-i yos-a khaj-al-e
N-Tom-Agg N-John-Erg Rec-Abs angry-Aor-Fin
"Tom and John were angry at each other."

lo chadan lo dashi yosokh shakma base.
l-o chad-an l-o dash-i yos-okh shakm-a bas-e
3-Att man-Agg 3-Att woman-Erg Rec-Dat book-Abs give-Fin
"The man and the woman gave each other books."

Imperative Clauses

In an imperative mood clause, no ergative argument may appear, since the imperative implies a 2nd person (no number) ergative. The time of an imperative action is immediate future.


Identity, Definition, and Existence

In an existence clause, only the finite phrase (typically containing a noun) appears as a predicate, while in a definition or identity clause, an absolutive phrase also appears as a subject. The predicate of a definition clause must be non-referential while both phrases of an identity clause must be referential. Clauses with non-referential subjects and referential predicates don't occur.


The polar (yes/no) question medial PQ may appear only once per sentence. This is normally on the finite form of the predicate of a main clause, but may be moved to another word in order to focus that word or phrase.

Relative Clauses

The first phrase of a relative clause must be an instance of the relative pronominal k- Rel, whose case specifies the role of the containing phrase within the relative clause. The relative clause is terminated by an instance of the subordinate clause terminator pronominal d- SCT. Otherwise, the relative clause is internally like other clauses. If the relative clause appears last in the phrase, such as when it's a headless relative clause, the subordinate clause terminator takes either a case or a conjunctive final; otherwise it's attributive.

Complement Clauses

A complement clause is used as the object of the following matrix clause. The complement clause terminated by an instance of the subordinate clause terminator pronominal d- SCT, which takes the absolutive case. Otherwise, the complement clause is internally like other clauses.


The K-verbs are used as tense, modal, and evidential auxiliaries, following main clauses (no subordinate clause terminator is needed). The implicit agent (where semantically applicable) of each is the K person. The 2 K-verbs described as tense markers are used to construct compound tenses, such as future perfect.

lo shiila o taiki beshuke foi.
l-o shiil-a '-o taik-i besh-uk-e foi
3-Att fish-Abs Ind-Att cat-Erg eat-Prf-Fin Fut
"Some cat will have eaten the fish."

The che form of the polar question marker PQ can be appended to a K-verb:

lo kuchi bore lo jiraffa rothche?
l-o kuch-i bor-e l-o jiraff-a roth-che
3-Att boy-Erg see-Fin 3-Att giraffe-Abs DP-PQ
"Is the boy permitted to see the giraffe?"

Other polarity marking must be marked in the main clause, with negation causing a swap of necessity and possibility for the epistemic, deontic, and volitive modals.

Modal Pairs
Necessity Possibility Modality
der EN gut EP Epistemic
jak DN roth DP Deontic
thas VN fin VP Volitive

In the following example, deontic necessity has been used for deontic possibility due to the negation:

lo taiki shiila beshene jak.
l-o taik-i shiil-a besh-en-e jak
3-Att cat-Erg fish-Abs eat-Neg-Fin DN
"The cat isn't permitted to eat fish."

Adverbs of Manner

The scalar verb translated as an adverb of manner appears as the predicate of a matrix clause, with the action clause appearing as its complement clause.

izho taiki pakeshe da zufe.
izh-o taik-i pak-esh-e d-a zuf-e
Prox-Att cat-Erg run-Hab-Fin SCT-Abs fast-Fin
"This cat runs fast."

Coordinate Clauses

Coordinate clauses are conjoined using one of the coordinating conjunctions. An instance of the conjunction precedes each of the conjoined clauses. Common constituents may be "factored out", appearing before the first instance of the conjunction, provided that they're the same in each clause. If not, a single constituent may be factored out and coreferenced by a 3rd person pronominal within the clause(s).

Coordinating Conjunctions
Word Tag Description
sok Seq sequential conjunction
shin Sim simultaneous conjunction
meth Ctr contrastive conjunction
yan Dis disjunction
bel Ior inclusive or

lo taiki sok lo shiila beshe sok dobale.
l-o taik-i sok l-o shiil-a besh-e sok dob-al-e
3-Att cat-Erg Seq 3-Att fish-Abs eat-Fin Seq sleep-Aor-Fin
"The cat ate the fish and then slept."

Adjunct Clauses

There are different kinds of adjunct clauses. One specifying purpose is terminated by an instance of the subordinate clause terminator pronominal SCT taking the dative case (dokh). One specifying means is terminated by an instance of the subordinate clause terminator pronominal SCT taking the instrumental case (dis). One specifying cause is terminated by an instance of the subordinate clause terminator pronominal SCT taking the ablative case (dak).

A temporal adjunct clause specifies the time of some situation represented by the host clause relative to the situation represented by the adjunct clause using the aspect of the adjunct's finite form. The temporal adjunct clause is terminated by an instance of the subordinate clause terminator pronominal SCT taking the temporal case (doi). The temporal relationships are shown in the following table:

Temporal Relationships
Tag Name Description
Prf Perfect host after adjunct
Pro Prospective host before adjunct
Prg Progressive host during adjunct
Hab Habitual host whenever adjunct
Aor Aoristic adjunct during host

The conjunction uz Top precedes the adjunct clause if any common elements are to be "factored out".

lo taiki uz lo shiila beshime doi lo dashi la borale.
l-o taik-i uz l-o shiil-a besh-im-e doi l-o dash-i l-a bor-al-e
3-Att cat-Erg conj 3-Att fish-Abs eat-Prg-Fin SCT-Tmp 3-Att woman-Erg 3-Abs see-Aor-Fin
"While the cat was eating the fish, the woman saw him."

page started: 2017.Jan.03 Tue
current date: 2017.Jan.15 Sun
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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