Toilan –  A Constructed Language

Toilan Syntax

Toilan tends to have SVO-type word order: most noun modifiers follow the head nouns and arguments of coreferential or adverbial words follow those words. On the other hand, the components of a finite clause are ordered according to pragmatics.

Nominal Syntax

Basic Phrases

A basic phrase consists of a noun possibly followed by modifiers, or just a pronoun. The order of modifiers is usually deictic, quantifier, then attributive verbs, all taking the appropriate subject prefix. The deictic can be placed before the noun; here, it takes the noun's case, while the noun takes the attributive prefix.

Partitive Phrases

The referent of a partitive phrase is a subset of some whole, which is specified by a basic phrase. The head of the basic phrase (noun, pronoun, or deictic word) takes the partitive case and is preceded by some quantifier taking some other case; the quantifier specifies the cardinality of the subset. The basic phrase is taken to be definite while the partitive is taken to be indefinite.

An ordinal phrase is constructed like a partitive phrase, except that the quantifier is replaced by an ordinal number. The ordinal number may be modified by an immediately following quantifier taking the usual patientive suffix. Unlike a partitive phrase, an ordinal phrase is definite.

A superlative phrase is constructed like an ordinal phrase, except that the ordinal number is replaced by a superlative noun. A superlative phrase is also definite.

Verbal Syntax

Primary Clauses

Conjunct Clauses

A conjunct clause is one introduced by a conjunction; this is either a coordinating conjunction or an adverbial conjunction.

The verb's prefix may be na- or i- as in a primary clause, or take the relative tense prefix ke-; in these cases, the clause is constructed like a primary clause.

If the verb's argument is coreferential with that of a preceding clauses's verb, the coreferential relative tense prefix ko- is used and the verb must immediately follow the conjunction.

The coreferential form without any conjunction constitutes or begins a depictive secondary predicate.

Complement Clauses

Complement clauses appear as arguments in place of noun phrases.

The verb's prefix may be li-, le-, mi-, or me- and the verb begins the complement clause.

The coreferential relative form also constitutes or begins a resultative secondary predicate.

Participial Constructs

A participial construct is a noun modifier consisting of an attributive form of a verb followed by its modifiers and arguments (if any). It has relative tense.

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses also modify nouns.

Copular Clauses

The copular clauses are those of identity, definition, and existence.

Enclitic Personal Pronouns

Some personal pronouns have caseless forms used as enclitics. The following rules apply:

  1. The pronoun must be 1 syllable without the case prefix.
  2. The host word must stress 1 of the last 2 syllables; this mainly leaves out CCV(C)V verbs.
  3. The case of the pronoun must be easily recoverable, such as when it's
    1. the possessor of a noun host;
    2. the agent of a verb host if
      1. the verb form is passive or
      2. the verb's patient precedes it or
      3. the verb's patient follows immediately;
    3. the patient of a verb host if
      1. the verb form is not passive or
      2. the verb's agent precedes it or
      3. the verb's agent follows immediately.
  4. A CV pronoun has no effect on the host verb's stress, but a CVn pronoun takes primary stress.

Comparison Syntax

Degree of Comparison

A degree of comparison is either exact or inexact. An exact degree of comparison is a phrase involving a cardinal number and unit of measurement, while an inexact degree of comparison is an adverb, such as "very", "slightly", or "as much as possible".


The simple positive is the basic adjective; it may be modified by an inexact degree of comparison. The absolute positive is constructed by adding an exact degree of comparison phrase to the basic adjective.


A basic form of the adjective is used in explicit comparisons. The standard of comparison of inequality (where the quality of the subject is more than that of the standard) is introduced by kola and the standard of comparison of equality (where the quality of the subject is the same as that of the standard) is introduced by kosma. An explicit comparison of inequality may be modified by either an exact or inexact degree of comparison.


The simple superlative has already been covered above. A simple positive with the maximum degree of comparison is used for the absolute superlative.




There are 3 varieties of referentiality distinguished: definite (whether anaphoric, universal, deictic, or contextual), specific (indefinite), and other (non-specific indefinite or non-referential).


Toilan has 2 adverbial cases, the agentive and the patientive, used for the arguments of all verbs and adjectives, and 2 adnominal cases, the possessive and the partitive, used in forming noun modifiers.

The agentive case is used for the argument whose referent is performing the action denoted by the verb, or is the more agent-like of two arguments.

The patientive case is used for the argument whose referent is effected by the action denoted by the verb, or is the less agent-like of two arguments, or is the sole argument of an adjective or static verb.

The possessive case is used for the possessor of the modified noun.

The partitive case is used for the argument denoting the whole from which a part is selected.

Tenses, Moods, and Aspects

The tenses are: absolute past, absolute future, absolute present, and relative present. The absolute tenses indicate whether the temporal reference point, which is definite, is anterior to, posterior to, or equal to the time of utterance; the relative tense indicates that the temporal reference point is equal to the time specified by the matrix.

The moods are: indicative, contrafactual, and imperative. The imperative mood doesn't distinguish tense. The contrafactual mood uses the relative tenses as definite tenses as well as indefinite ones.

page started: 2010.Jul.16 Fri
current date: 2010.Jul.26 Mon
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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