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Sketch of Germanech 4/4: Syntax

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 4, 2001, 23:06

Germanech is a mostly left-headed language, i.e. most heads
(e.g. verbs, nouns in a noun phrase, prepositions) precede
their dependents (objects, adjectives, noun phrases etc.).

Constituent order

The basic constituent order in Germanech is S(ubject) V(erb) O(bject):

_Il enfantz jacht la bal._
`The child throws the ball.'

As nouns are not marked for case, the order is not free.  The sentence
_La bal jacht il enfantz_ would mean `The ball throws the child',
which is of course nonsense.  But consider examples such as the

_Paul am Marje, mas Marje ne am Paul._
`Paul loves Mary, but Mary doesn't love Paul.'

The only legal alternative order is OSV, i.e. the object is placed in
the front in order to emphasize it, though this is rarely used.

_Il hom il can ne mordev, mas is mordev so catz._
`The dog did not bite the man, but it bit his cat.'

Adverbs generally follow the verb they modify.

Prepositional phrases usually are placed last, but they can occur
in other places for emphasis.

_Marc habez un cas en Magentz._
`Marc owns a house in Magentz.'

_En Magentz Marc habez un cas, mas is ne habez un en Trever._
`Marc owns a house in Magentz, but he doesn't own one in Trever.'

(Magentz and Trever are cities in Germanje.)

The Noun Phrase

In the noun phrase, articles and possessive pronouns always go first,
with quantifiers in the next position.  Adjectives, genitive NPs and
relative clauses generally follow the nouns, though some adjectives
can also precede the noun in which case they attain a more figurative
meaning.  Adverbs that modify adjectives follow the adjective.


_la fem grand_ `the big woman'

_la grand fem_ `the great [i.e., important] woman'

_mos dos frazres grands_ `my two big brothers'

_ils tres enfantzes minezes de'l doctor_
`the doctor's three little children'

_ils tres grands mastres des artzes_
`the three great masters of the arts'

_il hom qui serassez il rech_
`the man who would be king'

Linking clauses

Two constituents can be linked by the conjunctions _ez_ `and', _oz_ `or'
(exclusive) or _vel_ `or' (inclusive).  The two constituents can be
nouns, verbs, adjcetives, phrases or clauses, as long as they are of
the same type.

Other conjunctions linking a coordinate clause to a preceding one are
_profter_ `thus', _mas_ `but', _simel_ `meanwhile'.

The conjunction `that' (to use a clause as an object) is _que_.

_Laura dichez que Paul amarassez Marje._
`Laura says that Paul loves Mary.'

Other conjuctions used with subordinate clauses are _com_ `because',
_etz_ `though', _dom_ `while'.

Subordinate clauses may precede or follow the main clause (mostly they
follow, but they are often placed first for emphasis).


Questions are either formed by the means of interrogative pronouns
(question words) or by fronting the verb (and raising the intonation
at the end of the sentence):

_Staz il enfantz en la cortz de joch?_
`Is the child on the playground?'

This question could be answered _Sich!_ `Yes!' or _Non!_ `No!'.

Question words are:

_qui_ `who'
_cod_ `what'
_que_ `which'
_cand_ `when'
_ob_   `where'
_cantz_ `how much'
_commentz_ `how'
_percod_ `why'

All these can also be used as relative pronouns.


The simplest way to form a negative statement is to insert the
negative particle _ne_ before the verb.  We have already seem some
examples of this.

Other negative words are the following:

_nem_ `no-one'
_nil_ `nothing'
_no_ `no' (quantifier, e.g. _no hom_ `no man')
_nech...nech_ `neither...nor'
_nunc_ `never'
_nusc_ `nowhere'
_nomentz_ `no way', `not at all' (adverb)

Double negation (i.e. using one of the above together with _ne_) is
considered bad style in formal language (and some poeple say that a
double negation is actually *affirmative* in a fit of logic),
but quite common in colloquial usage where it is taken to be an
emphatic negation.

And finally, `no!' is _non!_.

...brought to you by the Weeping Elf and the letter "ö"



Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Dan Jones <dan@...>