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Kali-sise Grammar

From:Jeffrey Henning <jeffrey@...>
Date:Monday, March 8, 2004, 4:51
I've come up with my most succinct grammar yet.  I was inspired by the spare
grammars of Victor Medrano.

The core vocabulary of Kali-sise consists of 400 root nouns, 2 pronouns, 1
verbal marker (se), 6 case markers and 1 clause marker (ka).  New words can
be only combined from these roots.  With the occasional exception of names,
words are never borrowed from other languages into Kali-sise.

le -- first-person pronoun
ne - second-person pronoun

Case Markers
Kali-sise has six root case markers:

 Case Marker
Nominative      pi
Genitive        ta
Accusative      ke
Dative          su
Locative        li
Ablative        na

The locative is used to locate actions in time as well as place (e.g., sula
li, "in an hour").

The ablative acts as a "catch-all" case.

The case markers can be modified to indicate more precise semantic roles
(e.g., kasu-na, "because of").

The case markers can act as independent particles, in which case they are
often translated with third-person pronouns (e.g., pi kunune se, "they

The stock order pi su is often used for reflexive actions (e.g., pi su
kunune se, "they talk to each other").


Any noun can be converted to a verb by following it with se (e.g., pusi se
["usage {verb}"], "use"; kunune se ["communication {verb}"], "communicate").

Serial verbs are ambiguous and can either mean:
1. two separate actions (e.g., Pi su kunune se nune sunu-senuse se, "They
speak and do not hear each other")
2. the first verb affects the second (e.g., Pi pinise se pepe se, "They
finished creating").

Clause Markers

Relative clauses begin and end with ka.  A postposition indicates the role
the noun would play:  ka pe pi pepe se ke ka pine-tuna, "people making [ke]
tower", "tower people were making".  In this fragment, ke indicates the role
the modified noun plays (in this case, the object being made).

Relative clauses cannot be nested.

Other clause markers can be coined.  For instance, long quotations begin and
end with kalane-ka, "quote/unquote".


Modifiers precede the words that they modify.  Even relative clauses precede
the words they modify.

Whether a word is modifying the word immediately after it or a later word is

The language defaults to SVO but any order is possible thanks to the case
markers and verb marker.

Sample Sentences

Kelu supaka-sunu ke sese kane ke Kali-sise pi nalike se.
four vowel(opening+sound) {accusative} six opposite {accusative} possession
"Four vowels and six consonants Kalisise has."

Nasala-tepuse li Kali pi, Kali pi Tesu ta sasape pi, Kali pi se Tesu pi.
beginning(origin+time) {locative} Word {nominative}, Word {nominative} God
{genitive} companion {nominative}, Word {nominative} {verb} God {nominative}.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was the companion of God, and
the Word was God."  John 1:1

nasala-tepuse [origin+time] beginning

Babel Text

1. Sune lili pi pasatu nunu nalike se nu kali-sise ke nu talike kunune ke.
total world {nominative} past possession {verb} one language(word-system)
{accusative} public communication way {accusative}.
"The whole world then had one language and one way of talking."

2. Pe pi pulape li sisi se Tu-kulepu-natinu li kane-sike se tuna-kanepuse ke
pepe se nesetu ke li.
people {nominative} east {locative} movement {verb} Shinar(two-river-nation)
{locative} find(opposite-search) {verb} plain(augmentative-field)
{accusative} create {verb} home {accusative} {locative}.
People moved eastward and found in Shinar a plain and made homes there.

tuna-kanepuse: plain, plateau
Tu-kulepu-natinu: Shinar -- a country on the lower courses of the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers

3. Pi ka kunune se ka pepe se pine-palate ke se lani pukuse se ka ke.
{nominative} {accusative} communication {verb} {clause} creation {verb}
intense fire {verb} {clause} {accusative}
They said to each other, "Let us make bricks and fire them well."

pine-palate [building+part]: brick

Pi puse se pine-palate ke luka nune-su tasale-liku ke setina-luke nune-se.
{nominate} usage {verb} brick {accusative} rock not-{dative} tar
{accusative} mortar not-{dative}
They used brick instead of stone and tar for mortar.

tasale-liku [remant+liquid] pitch, tar -- any of various dark heavy viscid
substances obtained as a residue
setina-liku [wall+liquid] mortar -- used as a bond in masonry or for
covering a wall

4. Pi kunune se, kalane-ka le pi su pepe se pupi-nesete ke, ka pi nalike se
tupe ke tesu-lupete li ka, lupete-pine ke, kasu-ka le pi su sapili pepe se
nunene ka nune lepeta sisi se lili ta sune kanepuse li, kasu-ka kalane-ka.
{nominative} communication {verb} quote we {nominative} {dative} creation
{verb} city(people-group+place) {accusative} {clause} {nominative}
possession {verb} top {nominative} heaven(divine+air) {location} {clause}
tower (air+building) {accusative} cause+{clause} we {nominative} {dative}
ability creation {verb} name {accusative} not repeat move {verb} earth
{genitive} total field {locative} cause+{clause} unquote.
They said, "Let us build ourselves a city and a tower that has its top in
heaven, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over
all the fields of the earth."

tesu-lupete [divine+air] heaven
lupete-pine [air+building] tower
kalene-ka: quote, unquote
kasu-ka: because, since, so that

5. Nu-tesu pi kune-napisu li sisi se kane-senuse se pupi-nesete ke ka pe pi
pepe se ke ka pine-tuna ka.
Lord(one-god) {nominative} below(opposite-above) {location} movement {verb}
see(visually-sense) {verb} city {accusative} {relative clause} men
{nominative} building {verb} {accusative} {relative clause} tower {accusative}.
"The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people were making."

6. Tesu pi kunune se kalana-ka, kunete-ka ka pi kunune se kune-sa kali-sise
na ka nu pe pi sapili se ke kunete-ka, ka pi tesite se kakate se ka nune
kakate pi se sasala-nune-sapili kakate pi su.
God {nominative} communication {verb} quote if(condition+clause)
{relative-clause} {nominative} communication {verb}
same(oppositive+difference) language(word+system) one people {nominative}
{condition-clause} {nominative} ability {verb} {accusative}
{relative-clause} {nominative} desire {verb} action {verb} {clause} no
action {nominative} {verb} impossible action {nominative} {dative}.
The Lord said, "If one people who speak the same language can do this, then
nothing that they wish to do will be impossible for them.

kunete-ka:  if

7. Kunete-ka Le pi sisi se kune-tupe li kalape se pe ta kali-sise ka
kunete-ka, pi su kunune se nune sunu-senuse se ta susite ka, kalana-ka.
If we {nominative} movement {verb} down {location} change {verb} people
{genitive} language {accusative} {condition+clause} {nominative} {dative}
communicate {verb} not hearing {verb} {genitive} meaning {accusative} end-quote.
If We go down and change their language, they will speak and not hear each

8. Tesu pi sese se kune-tupe li kalape se ta kali-sise.  Kune-kasu-ka pe pi
su kunune se nune sunu-senuse se.  Kune-kasu-ka pi su telule sisi se lepeta
sisi se lili ta sune kanepuse li.
The Lord came down and changed their language.  Therefore, the people spoke
and did not hear each other.  Therefore, they fled from each other and were
scattered over all the fields of the earth.

Kune-kasu-ka: Therefore.

Pi nala-pinise se pepe se lupete-pine ke.
{nominative} stop(pejorative+finish) {verb} creation {verb} tower {accusative}.
They stopped building the tower.

Note: Departs significantly from scriptural text, which has "So the Lord
scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the

9. Pe pi nala-kane-sike se ta nunene.  Tu-kulepu-natinu li lupete-pine pi
kane-sike se ta nunene.  Papele.
The people lost their name.  The tower at Shinar found its name.  Babel.

nala-kane-sike: lose

Note: Departs significantly from scriptural text, which has "That is why it
was called Babel -- because there the Lord confused the language of the
whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole


I want to flesh out the description of the grammar, so please let me know
what questions you have so that I can clarify the description.

Also, are there any natural languages with case markers that act the way
these do?

Best regards,