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Vaiysi grammar revised: nouns and adjectives

From:Mangiat <mangiat@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 30, 2001, 16:59

Today it's time for nouns and adjectives...

The Noun
Nouns are inflected for two numbers (singular and plural), and six cases
(ergative, absolutive, dative, genitive, locative and allative); there is no
gender. Nouns are listed in dictionaries in their singular absolutive form,
which ends with a short vowel. We have four declensions patterns, one for
each ending vowel: a, e, i, u (-o nouns merged with -u even before classical
Suimeni period). There are no differences between the various patterns, inly
the locative case presents different ending for each stem vowel.
Note: in these exemples we will use words with long radical vowel, to let
you see when the desinence contains a long vowel that can reduce it.

Absolutive is the unmarked case. It is used with subjects of intransitive
verbs and objects of transitive verbs, but it is generally considered the
default form of every noun, used even for vocatives. The absolutive form
ends with a vowel, a, e, i or u, and each of these vowels has an indipendent
declension pattern. The ending vowel can be dropped in the singular form
even in the classical period , if it is preceded by /s/, /l/, /r/, a vowel
or a nasal (i.e. miyre 'sun' > miyr, douru 'mare' > dour, Leiye (name of a
town) > Leiy). The endings of the plural have merged: the old desinence of
the -e stem nouns is now widespread.

When we talk about nouns, we will assume they are in their absolutive form,
which is that listed in dictionaries.

                    meaning     Singular     Plural
kyemma     hand         kyemma     kemmeiy
miyre         sun           miyre         mireiy
eriynni       wind         eriynni         erinneiy
douru        mare         douru         dureiy

*Ending -a has already been displaced by -o in vernacular Vaiysi, that is
caused by the same phenomenon which made Suiméni third singular person of
the present tense pass from -a to -o; this change is well accepted with
verbs, but is not completely accepted for nouns, because -a nouns usually
indicate male beings, and a change -a > -o could generate confusion with -u
nouns, generally indicating female beings.

The ergative case is used with subjects of transitive verbs. The ergative
form has retained, both in singular and in plural, the old -l ending (note:
in the older version of the lang the ending was -s) but, as in the
absolutive, the plural desinences merged with the -e nouns ending.

                    meaning     Singular     Plural
kyemma     hand         kyemmal     kyemmel
miyre         sun           miyrel         miyrel
eriynni        wind         eriynnil       eriynnel
douru         mare         dourul         dourel

The dative case is used with indirect objects of transitive and intransitive
verbs and with direct objects in antipassive constructions. The singular
form is characterized by the desinence -am, even in after e, i and u.
Actually the Suiméni ending -m caused the nasalization of the preceding
vowel, which turned out to be an -a. The plural ending is -mis (this doesn't
cause any vowel change because not in final position).

                 meaning     Singular     Plural
kyemma     hand         kyemmam kyemmamis
miyre         sun             miyram     miyremis
eriynni         wind         eriynnam eriynnimis
douru         mare         douram     dourumis

The genitive case is used with the master in a master-subordinate
construction as in English possessive 'John's exercise book', and it is used
to mark any realationship between two nouns. The genitive is also a
prepositional case, i. e. it is used to mark the objects of prepositions. In
other terms, prepositions govern the genitive case. The singular ending
is -ni in singular and -eiyni in plural forms.

                meaning     Singular     Plural
kyemma     hand         kyemmani kemmeiyni
miyre         sun         miyreni         mireiyni
eriynni         wind        eriynnini     erinneiyni
douru         mare         douruni     dureiyni

The locative case is used with location statements, as in English 'at home',
'in the town'. Locative hasn't to be confused with allative: the former
marks a state, the latter a motion toward something. The old Suiméni
postposition -ó was assimilated to the last vowel of the stem, causing
diphthongization or vowel lengthening. Plural generally adds -yau to the
usual -eiy, becoming -eiyau. Notice that in everyday's speech the locative
case can be replaced by prepositional constructions.

                meaning     Singular     Plural
kyemma     hand         kemmyau  kyemmeiyau
miyre         sun             miryeu     miyreiyau
eriynni     wind             erinniyo     eriynneiyau
douru     mare             duryou     doureiyau

Notice that in the widespread desinence -eiyau the syllabification works
this way -ei+yau. Hence the retained long radical vowel in the root.

The allative case is used to mark location toward someone or something. The
ending is -d in singular, -sti in plural forms. As the locative, the
allative case is sometimes replaced by prepositional constructions in
everyday speech.

                meaning     Singular     Plural
kyemma     hand     kyemmad     kemmeiyti
miyre         sun         miyred         mireiyti
eriynni     wind         eriynnid         erinneiyti
douru         mare     dourud         dureiyti

The Adjective
We must distinguish two functions of the adjective: predicative and
attributive. Predicative adjectives are always followed by one of the
inflected voices of -yeo, 'to be'. Attributive adjectives usually end in -i
and decline as nouns. They generally precede nouns, but they can be placed
after them as well.

Noun-adjective agreement
It has been already said that adjectives usually precede nouns, but they can
be placed also after them. It is important remember that adjectives are
bound to be put in the same case the nouns are. This unless they are in the
locative or allative case. In noun phrases with these cases, indeed, only
the last component of the phrase bears the case marker. This because in
Suiméi locative and allative were built with postpositions (ó and it)
governing the absolutive case.

For istance:

lyaskam samam
good.DAT man.DAT
to the good man
miylinini rinani
little.GEN town.GEN
of the little town


hyene talou
beautiful house.LOC
In the beautiful house


sile burmouved
sky cloudy.ALL
up to the cloudy sky

Comparative and superlative: our-
The comparative and superlative constructions require in Vaiysi the use of a
proclitic augmentative particle, our-, fixed immediately before the
adjective. In the comparative constructions, the second term is introduced
by the preposition oulis, which means 'in front of / in relation with' The
superlative construction works the same as the comparative, but the
adjective is not followed by a second term, so the augmentative takes an
absolute value.

Thus the general form of a comparative or a superlative is:

our-adjective + first term + oulis + second term
Let's take a look at these exemples:

Pulle ourvedyeo oulis yerke.
ox than cat
The ox is bigger than the cat.

Vel houvo ourboinni langeiyni oulis ta.
me.ERG have.3s AUG.simple task than your
I have a simpler task than yours.

Yeam ourhyeni punyeu oulis este.
be.1s AUG.beautiful village.LOC than you
I live in a nicer town than yours.

However, with complex sentences, we may find other constructions:

Ourlaskyeo vye yegam oulis vye yegad. than go.1s than go.2s
It's better if I go than if you go.