Sep08 –  A Constructed Language

Sep08 Sentence and Scalar Syntax

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


Main Clauses

At minimum, a sentence consists of a main clause, which determines whether the sentence is a statement, question, or command. If it's a command, the verb is of the imperative type and otherwise the finite type. A question is either a polar question, distinguished by the polar question particle pyu PQ following the main clause (including any other particles), or a content question, distinguished by the presence of one of the interrogative words.


A modal particle may appear at the end of the main clause. The modal particles include the epistemic modals, which are evidentially indirect. The modal particles are shown in the following table:

Modal Particles
Word Tag Gloss Description
- EN "must" Epistemic Necessity
- EP "may" Epistemic Possibility
- - - -
- Jus "let" Jussive

Complement Clauses

A complement clause is terminated by the nominalizing particle =esh Nom and replaces the object of the following matrix clause (assuming the matrix verb isn't inverse). The verb is of participial type if the complement clause is coreferential; otherwise it has finite type. The time of the complement clause is relative to the time of its context (direct quotations are a special case).

If the matrix verb is a deontic or volitive auxiliary, the complement verb can't be negated; however, note that the following rule can be used:

Possibility Neg Complement => Neg Necessity Complement
Necessity Neg Complement => Neg Possibility Complement

The following table shows the deontic and volitive auxiliaries:

Deontic & Volitive Auxiliaries
Word Tag Gloss Description
brut DN "require" Deontic Necessity
fras DP "permit" Deontic Possibility
soobe VN "want" Volitive Necessity
- VP "OK with" Volitive Possibility

If the auxiliary is a verb of perception, an epistemic modal particle may appear at the end of the complement clause in order to make the evidentiality indirect.

Adjunct Clauses

This is the category for any subordinate clause that isn't a relative clause or a complement clause, so an adjunct clause appears in addition to the matrix clause verb's arguments. Each kind of adjunct clause is introduced by a subordinating conjunction appropriate to that kind. Adjunct clauses are formally statements and their verbs have indicative order. They may appear before or after their matrix clauses.

A purpose clause is introduced by the conjunction For and is relatively future to the time of its context.

A means clause is introduced by the conjunction By and is relatively present to the time of its context.

A temporal clause is introduced by the conjunction zak zaku Tmp, which takes the enclitic past or future tense particle. An aspectual preverb determines the temporal relationship between the adjunct situation and the matrix situation.

A reason clause is introduced by the conjunction Rat; it may have either relative or absolute tense.

Conditional Sentences

A conditional sentence consists of a condition and a conclusion, which may appear in either order. The conclusion is a main clause, possibly with a chain of coordinate clauses. The condition is a adjunct clause introduced by the conjunction If; it may have either relative or absolute tense.

A conditional sentence may be potential or contrary-to-fact.

Coordinate Clauses

Coordinate clauses form a chain starting with some initial clause. Each coordinate clause is introduced by a coordinating conjunction, which must be the same for each clause in the chain. The initial clause is always a main clause except when the conjunction is And, in which case it's some kind of subordinate clause.

Coordinating Conjunctions
Word Tag Name Description
- - And Conjunction conjunction of subordinate situations
- - Sim Simultaneous conjunction of situations occurring at the same time
- - Seq Sequential conjunction of situations that occur in sequence
- - Sel Selective disjunction of situations; only one applies
- - Ior Inclusive Or disjunction of situations; at leastone applies

Scalar Syntax

Besides the scalar word specifying the scale of comparison (and partially, the direction of comparison), a scalar construction has a subject of comparison denoting the entity being compared. It may also have an explicit standard of comparison denoting the entity being compared to and/or scalar precision, depending on the construction.

Scalar Preverbs

The scalar preverbs are summarized in the following table:

Scalar Preverbs
Word Tag Name Gloss or Description
- - LP- Loose Precision very, a lot, roughly
- - TP- Tight Precision slightly, a little, precisely
- - Norm- Normative -
- - SAbs- Absolute Absolute Positive
- - SMax- Maximal Absolute Superlative
- - SQ- Interrogative -
- - SSat- Satisfactive enough, so, too

Scalar Precision

There are 2 kinds of scalar precision: exact and inexact. Exact precision uses an adverbial phrase specifying either an absolute extent or a relative one, depending on the construction. Inexact precision is either loose (a large extent marked by the preverb LP), tight (a small extent marked by the preverb TP), or medium (not marked).

Positives, Negatives, and Normatives

Most scalar verbs occur in pairs of positive and negative directions of comparison, such as "hot" and "cold". The normative is a medial value, neither positive enough or negative enough, that's marked by the preverb Norm- on the scalar verb (usually the positive one). The normative may be considered an additional direction of comparison. Note that the terms "positive" and "negative" here are distinct from the logical (polarity) use.

A scalar precision phrase may appear with a positive or negative scalar word, specifying the (relative) extent to which the subject of comparison differs from the norm for that type of subject. Inexact precision may be used with the normative instead.

Comparatives and Equatives

An equative is a comparison of equality while a comparative is a comparison of inequality. In both cases, there must be an explicit standard of comparison. The standard of comparison appears as the locative argument of the secondary predicate of the relational verb Cpr "compare". The subject of comparison is coreferenced by a null locatee argument of the secondary predicate. The normative form is used for an equative and a positive or negative form is used for a comparative.

The standard of comparison and/or the subject of comparison may be accompanied by (or even replaced by) a temporal adverb.

A scalar precision phrase accompanying a comparative specifies the extent by which the subject of comparison differs from standard of comparison. Inexact precision may be used with equatives.

Absolute Positives

An absolute positive is marked by the preverb SAbs on a positive scalar verb; a scalar precision phrase specifying the absolute extent is required.

Absolute Superlatives

An absolute superlative is marked by the preverb SMax on a positive or negative scalar word. It indicates that the scalar value is the maximum possible for the subject of comparison (or the minimum, if the verb is negative). No scalar precision can be specified.

Degree Questions

A degree question is marked by the preverb SQ on a positive (or negative) scalar vword. No scalar precision can be specified.

Satisfactives and Results

A satisfactive sentence indicates that some situation is sufficient for a particular result situation and consists of a satisfactive part and a result part. The satisfactive part of a satisfactive sentence is usually a main clause containing one of the satisfactive words, such as the satisfactive determiner Sat, or the preverb SSat.

The result part is a sentence except that it's subordinate and must be a statement. It may be conditional; sometimes a condition is implied. The result may be actual (no condition allowed), potential, or contrary-to-fact.

In an alternate construction, there's no separate satisfactive part; the satisfactive word appears in the condition and the conclusion contains the main clause.

page started: 2018.Sep.21 Fri
current date: 2018.Sep.21 Fri
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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