Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Heichi: Compound words

From:Tommaso R. Donnarumma <trd@...>
Date:Saturday, January 27, 2001, 18:46

Compounding is a widespread, productive phenomenon in Heichi,
although different kinds of compounds are preferred in
different registers of the language.

As a general rule, compounds have the form modifier-head and
are limited to two elements, sometimes linked by a particle of
some sort.  The syntactic and morphologic class of the
resulting word is always controlled by the head.


A. Noun + Noun.

By far the most common kind of compound.  Most of them are
determinative ("tatpurus.a") compounds, although a few
copulative ("dvandva") compounds are also found.  The two nouns
are linked with the particle <i>, which reduces to zero after
/i(:)/ and /j/ and lowers to <e> after /ei/.

Such compounds can be semantically transparent, as, for
example, _reikoo-i-mae_ ("king-house", i.e. "royal palace"),
or rather opaque, as, for example, _reikoo-i-ooni_ ("king-
bird", i.e. "hawk").

B. Verb + Noun.

There are two kinds thereof.  The most common form involves
a supine verb + a noun.  Compounds of this type are generally
transparent, and are often found where one would expect an
adjective or participle modifying a noun (remember that
adjectives are stative verbs in Heichi).  For example:
_rootuku-reikoo_ "old king" (from the verb _rooto_, "to be

This kind of compounding is also employed to derive
stand-alone adjectives and participles, generally using
cover nouns such as _ittou_ ("person") for people and
_ayou_ ("piece") for inanimates:  _rootuku-ittou_, "old

A few supine + noun compounds are opaque in meaning,
although the greatest part of opaque verb + noun compounds
are made by taking the verb root on its own as if it were
a noun.  In this process, the root undergoes a few
phonological changes:  namely, if the root ends in a vowel
or in one of the consonants allowed in word-final position,
nothing happens, otherwise /i/ or /e/ is appended.  Verbs
ending in /r/ tend to get an appended /e/ too, while verbs
of the AMI conjugation tend to keep the /a/ from the
suffix.  An example of such compounds is _roote-i-ay_
("day of being old" = "old age"), from the same verb
_rooto_.  Note that there is no noun _*roote_.

Most deverbal nouns are just compounds, or originated as
compounds before undergoing phonological reduction.

C. Adverb + Noun.

These are among the least common and least productive
compounds, except for the antonyms formed with the negative
adverb _ii_.

The members of the compound are linked by means of the
particle _yo_.  In antonyms, though, the group _ii-yo-_
reduces to _eo-_ or _ee-_.


A. Noun + Verb.

The most common way to derive denominal verbs is by composition
with the auxiliaries _do_ or _dami_.  Usually, _do_ is employed
to make intransitives and _dami_ to make transitives, but this
is not mandatory.

Verbs made with _do_ often replace copula + nominal predicate
constructions.  For example:

anam reikoo-do
"I am/was a/the king"

Another common usage of noun + verb is for object incorporation.
Generally, such compounds are opaque in meaning.  They are made
with or without the particle _i_ (which is subject to the same
phonological changes seen above).  For example:  _nembee-asami_
("to have lunch", lit. "to eat meat", since meat was only served
in the main meal of the day).

B. Verb + Verb

In this kind of compounds the modifying verb is always in the
supine form.  Compounds where the head is a modal or auxiliary
verb (discussed in a previous message) are common in any register
of the language, while other compounds are restricted to formal
speech and literary language.  For example:

aahou sumuku-aterao [fare]
aahou sum -uku-atera-o    [fare]
river swim:SUP:pass :IMPF [across]
"(S)he swam across the river" (lit. "(S)he swim-passed the river")

C. Adverb + Verb

A small number of adverbs can be attached to verbs via the
particles _yo_ or _ken_ as preverbs.  Such compounded verbs are
subject to splitting if they need to enter another compound
(see the example above, where _aterao fare_ is from _fare-yo-
aterao_, "to pass across" = "to cross").

Adverbs compounded with the auxiliary _do_ often appear in the
translational equivalents of clauses involving a prepositional
predicate in English, while adverbs compounded with the verb
_gami_ ("to have") often appear in the translational
equivalents of existence predicates.  For example:

monde osuketsu nan iichi-yo-donna
monde    osuke -tsu  nan iichi -yo  -d -onna
fountain garden:this LOC inside:LINK:do:IMPFCT
"The fountain is/was inside this garden"
(lit. "The fountain does inside at this garden")

osuketsu you monde iichi-yo-geman
osuke -tsu  you monde    iichi -yo  -g   -eman
garden:this ERG fountain inside:LINK:have:IMPFCT
"There is/was a fountain inside this garden"
(lit. "This garden has/had a fountain inside")

In the first construction, the auxiliary _do_ is often
dropped in spoken language, yielding:

monde osuketsu nan iichi
fountain garden:this LOC inside

Or, with an adverbial compound (for which see below):

monde osuke-iichi
fountain garden:inside

In this case, it is not possible to inflect the noun for
deicticity, but the third person pronoun can be employed
as a sort of article:

monde dete nan osuke-iichi
fountain it LOC garden:inside
lit. "The fountain (is) at it, inside the garden"


A. Noun + Adverb

Most local and temporal adjuncts are derived as compounded
adverbs via the particle <i>.  For example:  _osuke-iichi_
("inside the garden"), _aahou-i-fare_ ("across the river").

B. Verb + Adverb

Most modal or final adjuncts are derived as compounded
adverbs.  The verb always appears in the supine form.
Such compounds are rather frequent even in informal
speech.  For example:

aahou sumuku-fare ateruu
aahou sum -uku-fare   atera-o
river swim:SUP:across pass :AOR
"(S)he swam across the river" (lit. "(S)he passed the
river the swim-across way")

C. Adverb + Adverb

Not very common.  The two adverbs are linked vie the
particle _i_ (subject to the modifications seen above)
or _yo_.

That's all about compounds.  Tomorrow, a quick overview of
the syntax.

Happy conlanging,


        GLOSSOPOIESIS, "The hidden art of tongue making"
              Web: <>
  E-mail: ICQ: Glossopoietes (#24209008)