Mar30 –  A Constructed Language

Mar30 Syntax


Bivalent clauses are OVS, where S is the subject phrase, O is the object phrase, and V is the verb complex. Univalent clauses are VS. Besides the subject and object arguments, clauses may also contain adverbs and secondary predicates and be preceded by adverbial clauses. A complement clause may appear instead of the object phrase.

Subjects and objects may be noun phrases or pronouns; objects may also be omitted, even if the verb has active grammatical voice.

The Verb Complex

If the object is a personal pronoun and not contrastively focused, it must appear immediately before the verb. Similarly, if the subject is a personal pronoun and not contrastively focused, it must appear immediately after the rest of the verb complex (polarity, modality, and absolute tense particles).

la= dax -0 =pa =pon =to =k
3AS= see -Cur =Neg =Ctf =Pst =1S
"I wouldn't have seen him."

Contrastive Focus

If any component of the clause is contrastively focused, that component moves to the start of the clause. The components that may be focused are the object, the subject, the absolute tense, and various adverbs. Personal pronouns and tense markers take their independent forms.

Trivalent Clauses

A trivalent clause has 2 object phrases: a primary or indirect object and a secondary or direct object. The secondary object usually appears first and is inanimate, while the primary object is animate. Note that it's the primary object which is promoted to subject when the verb is passive and is implicitly coreferent to the subject when the verb is reflexive.

Complement Clauses

A complement clause replaces the object or secondary object of the matrix clause.

Tām pran Jān smatok.
Tām pran -0 Jān sma =to =k
Tom  tell -Cur  John  hear =Pst =1S
"I heard John tell Tom."

Secondary Predicates

Secondary predicates lack explicit subjects, the implied subject coreferencing either the subject or the object of the host clause if the secondary predicate is depictive and the patient (however expressed) if the secondary predicate is resultative.

If the implied subject coreferences an object phrase, the secondary predicate appears after the non-pronominal position of the object phrase. If the subject phrase is coreferenced, the secondary predicate appears before the non-pronominal, non-focused position of the object phrase.

	(depictive, subject)
	nude DEF=meat eat-PST John.
	"John ate the meat nude."

	(depictive, object phrase)
	DEF=meat raw eat-PST John.
	"John ate the meat raw."

	(resultative, object phrase)
	DEF=metal flat pound-PST Mary.
	"Mary pounded the metal flat."

	(resultative, object pronoun)
	DEF=house in 3IS=put-d=1S.
	"I put it in the house."

Secondary predicates are used for the standard of comparison in clauses of explicit comparison, with the verb being "exceed", "match", or "fail", depending on the direction of comparison.

	John exceed tall-PRS Tom.
	"Tom is taller than John."

	John match fast run-PST Tom.
	"Tom ran as fast as John.

	John exceed many potato-P eat-PST Tom.
	"Tom ate more potatoes than John."

	many potato-P onion exceed eat-PST Tom.
	"Tom ate more potatoes than onions."

Copular Clauses

Clauses of definition and identity place the copula ha (Cop) after its complement phrase (which can't be omitted), followed by the subject.

Clauses of existence use the passive of the copula (; the relative past is jihau) as the verb.

jihauni kigatto.
ji- ha -u =ni ki= gatto
Pas- Cop -Ret =Prs  Spc= cat
"There was this cat."


Questions are indicated by the presence of either the content question particle qai or the polar question particle qe.

qaito Jān daxse.
qai =to Jān dax -0 =se
CQ =Pst  John  see -Cur =2S
"When did you see John?"

gatto daxqetos.
gatto  dax -0 =qe =to =s
cat see -Cur =PQ =Pst =2S
"Did you see a cat?"


Noun phrases take the order

(Determiner) (Quantifier) (Attributives)* Noun

The noun is required, but may be a generic noun.


The determiners include the proclitic definite article te (Def=), the proclitic specific (indefinite) article ki (Spc=), the proclitic relativizer qa (Rel=), the proximal demonstrative (Prx), the medial demonstrative (Med), the distal demonstrative lai (Dst), and the content question word qai (CQ). Non-specific indefinite and non-referential phrases have no determiner.


The quantifiers include the universal quantifier nan (Uni), the existential quantifier do (Exi), the nullar quantifier ??? (Nul), and the cardinal numbers.


Attributives are verb forms. They lack explicit subjects, the implicit one being the head noun of the phrase.

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are internally-headed; that is, the head noun is placed within the relative clause where it would be in an independent clause. The "head noun" is thus itself a phrase whose determiner is the relativizer qa (Rel=).

qagatto kosma Jān daxtok.
qa= gatto  kosma -0 Jān dax -0 =to =k
Rel= cat listen -Cur  John  see -Cur =Pst =1S
"I saw the cat John was listening to."


Adverbial Clauses

Some adverbial clauses lack subjects; others, such as temporal clauses, may have implicit or explicit subjects.

A topic is expressed as a subject-less adverbial clause whose verb is din (Top).

Usage of the Tenses

The past and future absolute tenses refer to definite times and the past and future relative tenses refer to indefinite times. The absolute tense particles may be omitted from a clause if specified by other means.

Conditional Sentences

A conditional sentence consists of a condition clause and a conclusion clause. It has either an actual condition and conclusion or a contrafactual condition and conclusion.

Satisfactive Sentences

A satisfactive sentence consists of a satisfactive clause and a result part. The result part is often a conclusion clause with the condition implied. The satisfactive clause is an indicative clause containing the satisfactive particle xar (Sat), such as xarkal "enough, to a sufficient degree".

	xar-kal monde=ni  Tām ???
	SAT-DEG heavy=PRS Tom  PAS-break=PST DEF=chair
	"Tom is so heavy, the chair broke."

	SAT-DEG heavy=PRS Tom  PAS-break=???=FUT DEF=chair
	"Tom is heavy enough to break the chair."

	SAT-DEG heavy=PRS Tom  PAS-break=CTF=PST DEF=chair
	"Tom is so heavy, he'd break the chair."

page started: 2012.Apr.18 Wed
current date: 2012.Apr.19 Thu
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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