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my all-verb language (warning, LONG)

From:Rachel Klippenstein <estel_telcontar@...>
Date:Saturday, March 6, 2004, 0:37

I think I finally have enough of my all-verb language developed that I
can introduce it here.

I'm going to skip phonology and orthography, for the most part;  I'll
give transcriptions to CXS alongside orthographic forms; T in the
orthography should really be thorn.

Okay, first the abstract description, then the examples.
The basic inflectional structure of a word is:

TAM = tense/aspect/mood suffix
There are three tenses: past, present and future
Three aspects = imperfective, perfective and perfect
Three moods = indicative, subjunctive and imperative
The unmarked TAM is present imperfective indicative - it has null
marking.  I haven't decided what the other morphemes will look like
yet,  so all my examples will be in present imperfective indicative :)

The PERSON suffix marks more than just person.  It marks the person,
number (and gender, in 3rd person singular) of both subject and object.
 It also marks realis vs irrealis (yes, this may be redundant, but
aren't languages often redundant?).  Finally, it marks something I
don't have a good name for, but have been calling "relativity".  This
basically determines whether the subject or object of the word acts
more like a personal-pronoun type argument or more like
relative-pronoun type argument.  I don't know if that makes sense, but
I hope it will once I can give some examples.
This suffix could actually be broken down into several smaller

V = realis/irrealis and relativity
C1 = person/number/gender of subject
C2 = person/number/gender of object

When both subject and object are marked, the suffix takes the shape
C1-V-C2.  When only subject is marked, the suffix can be either C1-V or
V-C1; I'm not yet sure what determines the difference between these two

The vowels mark (ir)realis and relativity:
  e /e/ = non-relative
  ö /2/ = adjectivally relative subject
  a /a/ = adjectivally relative object
  o /o/ = nominally relative subject
  eo /eo/ = nominally relative object

  i /i/ = non-relative
  y /y/ = adjectivally relative subject
  ae /ae/ = adjectivally relative object
  u /u/ = nominally relative subject
  ea /ea/ = nominally relative object

C1 and C2 mark person, number and gender of subject and object
according to this chart:
                Singular      Plural
1st              c /k/         b /b/

2nd              w /w/         i /y/

3rd                            m /m/

   masculine     n /n/

   feminine      l /l/

   epicene       r /r/

   neuter        h /x/

Note that gender is only distinguished in 3rd person singular; 3rd
person plural does not differ according to gender, and neither do 1st
or second person.

Now for some words and examples:
hromaT- /xromaT/ "be (a) language"
cwrian- /kurjan/ "sing"

So, let's put some PERSON suffixes on these roots.
I'm going to stick to realis examples for the time being.

First, using the "non-relative" forms:
Putting subject marking on cwrian-, we get a classic-looking verbal
cwrian-ce  /kurjanke/ "I sing/am singing"
cwrian-we  /kurjanwe/ "you sing/are singing"
cwrian-ne  /kurjan:ne/  "he sings/is singing"
 and so on.

If we're talking about people singing a song or songs, we can mark the
object as well:
cwrian-ceh  /kurjankex/  "I (am) sing(ing) it"
cwrian-ieh  /kurjanjex/   "youguys (are) sing(ing) it"
cwrian-mem  /kurjanmem/  "they('re) sing(ing) them"

We can add the suffixes to hromaT- "be a language" in the same way,
although the suffixes that make semantic sense are of course different.
With just subject marking, we get fairly expectable results:
hromaT-he  /xromaTxe/ "it is a language"
hromaT-me  /xromaTme/ "they are languages"

If we add an object marker to this kind of verb, whose basic semantics
are similar to that of a noun in English ("language"), the object
marker marks possession, so we get
hromaT-hec /xromaTxek/ "it is my language" (3sg neut. subj., 1sg obj.)
hromaT-mem /xromaTmem/  "they are their languages" (3pl subj., 3pl obj)
hromaT-heb /xromaTxeb/  "it is our language" (3sg neut. subj., 1pl obj)
(These forms could be translated more literally as "it is-language-of
me", "they are-languages-of them" and "it is-language-of us")

Now, let's try some "nominally relative" forms, and see how they're
If we add the "nominally relative subject" forms to cwrian-, we get
things like the following:
cwrian-no  /kurjan:no/  "he who sings/is singing" / "the singer"
cwrian-co  /kurjanko/ "I who sing/am singing" / "I, the singer"
cwrian-wo  /kurjanwo/ "you who sing/are singing" / "you, the singer"

cwrian-mom  /kurjanmom/  "they who (are) sing(ing) them"
cwrian-coh  /kurjankox/  "I who (am) sing(ing) it"
cwrian-ioh  /kurjanjox/   "youguys who (are) sing(ing) it"

These forms can be used as subject or object or another verb (although
as objects they need accusative case, marked by -(a)r); e.g. we could
have this sentence:
hromaT-hel cwrian-lo-r /xromaTxel kurjanlor/
be.language-3sg.neut.subj+3sg.fem.obj.+realis.NomRelSubj-ACC [*]
"it is (the) language of her who is singing"
Here, cwrianlo "she who is singing" is used as the object of hromaThel
"it is her language / it is the language of her", and gets the
accusative suffix -r in the process.

We can also add these suffixes to hromaT-, which gives us forms very
noun-like in meaning:
hromaT-ho  /xromaTxo/ "that which is a language" / "a/the language"
hromaT-mo  /xromaTmo/ "those which are languages" / "(the) languages"

hromaT-hoc /xromaTxok/ "that which is my language" / "my language"
hromaT-mom /xromaTmom/ "those that are their languages" / "their
hromaT-hob /xromaTxob/ "that which is our language" / "our language"
(This last is the native name of the language)

What about nominal relative object forms? Added to cwrian-, they
produce forms like this:
cwrian-meom  /kurjanmeom/  "those [songs] that they are singing"
cwrian-ceoh  /kurjankeox/  "it/that [song] that I am singing"
cwrian-ieoh  /kurjanjeox/   "it/that [song] that youguys are singing"

And we can do the same with hromaT-:
hromaT-heoc /xromaTxeok/ "I whose language it is"
hromaT-meom /xromaTmeom/ "they whose languages they are"
hromaT-heob /xromaTxeob/ "we whose language it is"

These forms don't translate too tidily into English, but that's the
best I can do.

And what, you ask, are "adjectivally relative subject/object forms"?
Basically similar to the "nominally relative" ones, except that instead
of being arguments for other verbs, they modify them.

I hope that made sense!
There are more complications - passive does some neat weird things -
but that will have to wait for later.

[*] Okay, that's so long a gloss that it probably obscures rather than
clarifies matters

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