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Grammatical Summary of Kemata

From:Rune Haugseng <haugrune@...>
Date:Sunday, December 9, 2001, 17:47
I don't expect anyone on the list will remember me - I posted a few
times earlier this autumn (or fall, if you prefer), but I've been
horribly busy at school since then - no time for conlanging at
all. Nevertheless, I've managed to write a sort of "grammatical
summary" of my conlang Kemata.

I'd like to apologize in advance for the lack of variations in the
examples - I've mostly used words I remembered of the top of my head,
and for any misuse of linguistic terminology.

Comments, corrections, flames, etc would be appreciated. (Well, maybe
not flames.)


Pt      - past tense
Ps      - present tense
Ft      - future tense
Ao      - aorist
Be      - before
Af      - after
M       - masculine
F       - feminine
N       - neuter
Pl      - plural
?       - unknown
1p      - first person
2p      - second person
3p      - third person
DSgN    - definite singular article, normal form
IPlU    - indefinite plural article, unique form
ISgNNeg - indefinite singular article, normal negative form
(the abbreviations for the rest of the articles should follow from
S       - subject
O       - object
DO      - direct object
IO      - indirect object
Neg     - "negative"
Cmp     - comparative
Str     - strong form of adjective


Kemata's phonology is pretty boring (I made it years ago, and I don't
want to change it now).

The vowels are:
       Front Middle Back
High   i            u
Mid    e            o
Low          a

These are basically your standard European vowels, and come with the
diphthongs ai, ei and oi.

The consonants are:
              Bilabial Dental Palatal Alveolar Velar Labiovelar Glottal
Stops         p, b     t, d                    k, g
Nasals        m        n                       n
Fricatives    v        s, z                                     h
Approximants                  l       r              w

The consonants are also standard European. R is trilled. N is /N/
before k or g. T, p and k are aspirated at the beginning of words
(hey, I didn't even know what aspiration was when I started this
language - just be happy u is no longer the Norwegian half-rounded i
:-) ).

The primary stress is always on the penultimate syllable. In words of
more than three syllables composed of several parts, parts longer than
two syllables receive a secondary stress on *their* second-to-last
syllable, if this is more than one syllable away from the main
stressed syllable.

Using ' for primary stress and ` for secondary:
beri - béri
hanabuverot ( - hànabuvérot

Verbs have six tenses: past, present, future, aorist (not connected to
any time), "before", "after" (before/after the time implied by the
context). Regular verbs are divided into two conjugations.

Class I verbs form the tenses with suffixes, e.g.:

Stem    -    raihir, build
Aorist  -    raihir
Past    -ha  raihira, built
Present -bu  raihirbu, is building
Future  -lei raihirei, will build
Before  -ka  raihirka, (has built, had built)
After   -te  raihirte

Class II verbs are of the form CVCV, and form the tenses by changing
their vowels, e.g.:

Stem    hana, write
Aorist  hain
Past    hane, wrote
Present hana, is writing
Future  hani, will write
Before  hena, (has written, had written)
After   hina

The aorist takes no suffixes.

Verbs can also take one of six modal suffixes (I'm not at all sure whether
these are actually moods.). With the closest expression in English,
they are:

-ne, (want to)
-wi, (should)
-zai, (must), used when someone has *chosen* to do something
-hu, (must), used when someone is *forced* to do something, or there
     is no choice in the matter
-ma, (can)
-koi, (hope to)

Verbs can also form active and passive participles in the past,
present and future (this is the only passive formation left in Kemata
(actually true in both Kemata's external and its internal history)).


Personal pronouns are generally found both as verb suffixes and as
separate words.

Suffixes are composed of:
- Person: v/b/r for 1st/2nd/3rd person, respectively
- Gender: ai/e/o/u/i for masculine/feminine/neuter/unknown or
- t if the pronoun is for a direct object

Separate pronouns are composed of:
- "Case": a/e/i for subject/direct object/indirect object
- a pronominal suffix (indirect objects also take the final -t)

Only separate pronouns can be used for indirect objects and pronouns
with prepositions.

When a preposition is added, the subject form of the pronoun is used.

The suffix -ni makes a pronoun reflexive (or reciprocal (if that is
actually the word that describes "each other")). -re makes the pronoun
"negative" (see the description of negative articles in the noun section).

Possessive pronouns are formed from a personal pronoun and one of the
possessive suffixes described in the noun section.

The demonstratives are (besides not being pronouns at all):
nul, which
daik, this
daw, that
zer, some
set, all
kim, other

These can both be suffixed to nouns and behave somewhat like nouns, e.g.:
Raihiravai raidodaikle.
raihir-ha-v-ai raido-daik-le
build-Pt-1p-M  house-this-DSgN
I built this house.

Raihirabe nul daik?.
raihir-ha-b-e nul        daik
build-Pt-2p-F <question> this
Did you build this?
(Nul is here a "grammatical adverb", described later.)

Kemata also has a pretty weird (as far as I know, at least) pronoun,
which I call a "place-holder pronoun".

Its form is:
Subject         a
Direct object   at
Indirect object ihat
(Verb            i)

This has two uses:
- to not say something known from context

  A Kematian waiter might, for instance, say:
  I nul abu atnul?
  i nul      a-b-u a-t-nul
  - question S-2p-? -DO-which,
  for "What would you like to order?", everything being known already
  (I don't think it would be very polite, though).

- to indicate voice:

     Ankila a anerle.
     ankil-ha a aner-le
     kill-Pt  - animal-DSgN
     The animal was killed.

  (This isn't exactly like voice, of course - you can't differentiate
  between "I killed the animal" and "The animal was killed by me".)


A noun (except names and such) always has an article suffixed to it.

The articles are:
                      Singular            Plural
                      Definite Indefinite Definite Indefinite
Normal form           -le      -ne        -zu      -su
Unique form           -ti      -pi        -la      -ho
Normal negative form  -ha      -no        -ro      -vai
Unique negative form  -wu      -re        -ko      -li

The unique articles denote that the noun as a unique specimen of its
kind (or several of them). The unique form of a word sometimes has an
idiomatic meaning, such as "raidole", the house, vs. "Raidoti", the
world, or "nezerne", a lord, vs. "nezerpi", a king.

The negative articles are used where one would use an adverb/adjective
like "no" in English. An example might make this clearer:

     Kenira avaire daw.
     kenir-ha a-v-ai-re  daw
     say-Pt   S-1p-M-Neg that
     I didn't say that.

     Beinuna kaldodaikle.
     beinun-ha   kaldo-daik-le.
     man-DSgNNeg place-this-DSgN.
     The man isn't there. (The copula can usually be left out.)

Possessives are formed by one of the following suffixes:
                        Normal form (owner)  Reverse form (owned)
Normal possession       -no                  -ki
Association             -ndu                 -wai
"Possession" through    -zik                 -val
having made something
Composition (i.e. what  -nut                 -kar
something is composed

Either the owner or the thing owned is marked, not both. The marked
word comes first.


An adjective can be suffixed to its noun if it has not been
declined; only one adjective can be suffixed per noun. Otherwise the
adjective follows the noun.

Comparison of adjectives:

Positive:    keimas, many, much            beris, red
             keimasin, quite a few/?       berisin, a little red
             keimasinor, quite many/much   berisinor, quite red
             keimasindo, very many/much    berisindo, very red
Comparative: keimasor, more                berisor, redder
             keimasorin, a little/few more berisorin, a little redder
             keimasoror, somewhat more     berisoror, quite redder
             keimasorto, many more         berisorto, much redder
Superlative: keimasto, most                beristo, reddest
             keimastoin, almost most       beristoin, almost reddest
             keimastor, more-or-less most  beristor, more-or-less
             keimastoto, most of all       beristoto, reddest of all
?:           keimasene, too many           berisene, too red
             keimasuri, not many enough    berisuri, not red enough

The "strong" form is used when something is being compared to
something else; its suffix follows the comparison suffix. Strong
adjectives are placed between the two words being compared.

Positive:    keimazde, as many as          berizde, as red as
Comparative: keimasorka, more than         berisorka, redder than
Superlative: keimastosi, most compared to  beristosi, reddest compared

Nate arai keimasorinka evait.
nata-CVCe a-r-ai keimas-or-in-ka     e-v-ai-t
eat-Pt    S-3p-M much-Cmp-little-Str DO-1p-M-DO
He ate a little more than me.


Adverbs usually follow the verb.

*Grammatical adverbs* are a special class of adverbs that take the
verbs suffixes instead of the verb, and usually have a "grammatical"

Some grammatical adverbs are:
tem  - begin to (incohative?)
a    - (used to hold suffixes for aorist verbs)
keta - if
ze   - imperative
ra   - again (repetitive)
nul  - question
nib  - present
hew  - past
dal  - future
(The last three are usually used with verbs in the "before" and
"after" tenses)

Rait tenka are kaldodaikle.
rait tem-ka   a-r-e  kaldo-daik-le
live begin-Be S-3p-F place-this-DSgN
She has begun to live here. (She has moved/settled here.)


Prepositions are suffixed to nouns, as are numerals below 20. Numerals
above 20 follow their nouns. The Kematian number system is base-20.


Normal word order is VSO.

Questions are indicated by the grammatical adverb nul - no fiddling
around with word order here.

Conjunctions follow the verbs in their clauses (I'm actually thinking
of making them function as grammatical adverbs):

Kenirarai daik, hanerai kon daw.
kenir-ha-r-ai daik hana-CVCe-r-ai kon daw
speak-Pt-3p-M this write-Pt-3p-M  and that
He said this and wrote that.

Relative clauses are indicated by putting a personal pronoun before
the verb of the clause:

Beinunle arai kenira daik
beinun-le a-r-ai kenir-ha daik
man-DSgN  S-3p-M speak-Pt this
The man, who said this

Raidole arovar raitave
raido-le   a-r-o-var   rait-ha-v-e
house-DSgN S-3p-N-with live-Pt-1p-F
The house, in which I lived.

Rune Haugseng


Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>