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Heichi: nouns

From:Tommaso R. Donnarumma <trd@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 24, 2001, 16:22


Heichi nouns split into five gender classes which have different
morphology and, partly, different syntax.  The classes are:
masculine, feminine, and three different neuters arbitrary called
1st, 2nd and 3rd neuter.

Mostly, the distinction of masculine vs. feminine vs. the neuters
reflects the animacy and natural gender of the referent, with a
few exceptions:

- Nouns which can refer to both females and males generally belong
to just one gender, either masculine or feminine, regardless of
the context.  For example, _furoi_ ("warrior") is always masculine,
and _tawan_ ("counsellor") is always feminine, although there were
both male counsellors and female warriors among the Heichi.

- Most body parts and a few "natural force" inanimates (such as
_saki_, "fire") are feminine.  Such are most diminutives,
regardless of both the natural and grammatical gender of the basic
noun from which they are derived.

- A few nouns which refer to animate beings belong to the first
neuter class.

The distinction among the three neuter classes appears to be
largely arbitrary.


All nouns inflect for a category which I call "deixis".  The deictic
form is used when the referent(s) of the noun is/are in view or have
just been nominated in speech. This can be roughly translated in
English by the adjective "this/these".  Masculine, feminine and 1st
neuter inflect for number too, giving a system of three forms:
unmarked vs. deictic vs. plural.  The plural marking for 1st neuters
is somewhat marginal, though, and is often dropped in contexts where
it would be  expected.

The suffixes are as follows:

             unmarked   deictic    plural
masculine    (zero)    ten/ttan  too/ttoo
feminine     (zero)   ten/ttan    doo
1st neuter   (zero)     su/tsu  too/ttoo
2nd neuter   (zero)    an/yan      -
3rd neuter   (zero)     an/yan,     -

The suffixes have two allomorphs depending on whether they attach
to consonantal or vocalic stems. The suffix -doo alone is unchanged.


tawan (fem.) "cousellor", tawanten "this/these counsellor(s)",
tawandoo "counsellors".

reikoo (masc.) "king", reikoottan "this/these king(s)",
reikoottoo "kings".

A number of changes affect the end of the stem depending on
its shape:

- Before the plural suffix -ttoo, /u/ lowers to /o/ and /uu/ to
/ou/.  Example: huru + ttoo > hurotto.

- The endings -awa and -aya contract to /aa/ in front of all the
suffixes.  Example: doraya + yan > doraayan.

- The ending -uyu contracts to /uu/ in front of all the suffixes.
This contracted /uu/ is also subject to lowering in front of
-ttoo according to the frist rule above.  Example: kakuyu +
ttan -> kakuuttan;  kakuyu + ttoo -> kakouttoo.

- Stems ending in geminated consonant + plain vowel lose their
gemination in front of -ttan and -ttoo. The stem final vowel,
if short, is lengthened (in this process, /o/ yields /oo/,
/u/ yields /ou/). Example: matta + ttan > mataattan.

- In front of all the suffixes, word final /m/ > /n/.

- In front of all the suffixes, word final /r/ is dropped.
The stem final vowel, if short, is lengthened (again, /o/ >
/oo/, /u/ > /ou/).

All these changes are noted in the orthography.


Case is marked by means of postposition.  Nouns of different
gender classes trigger different postpositions and show
different patterns of syncrethism.

Eight cases are recognized:  nominative, accusative, dative,
instrumental, ergative, genitive, ablative and locative
(the latter being a functional syncrethism of true locative
and allative):

     CASE       MAS  FEM  NT1  NT2  NT3
   Nominative    -     -     -     -     -
   Accusative   no    oo    -     -    de
   Dative      sei   oo   ari  de   de
   Instumental  kara kara kei  wa   kei
   Ergative     -    -   you  wa   wa
   Genitive    you  me   you   aa   wa
   Ablative    you  me    aa    aa    aa
   Locative    no   no   nan  atta nan

Verb arguments are marked according to a split accusative/
ergative strategy. All of the nouns appear in their
unmarked nominative form as the argument of intransitive
predicates. For transitive predicates, masculine and
feminine nouns have an unmarked ergative form for the
agent role vs. a marked accusative form for the patient role.
1st and 2nd neuter nouns, on the contrary, have a marked
ergative form vs. an unmarked accusative.  3rd neuter nouns
have marked forms for both the roles, showing a three way
distinction of unmarked nominative vs. marked ergative vs.
marked accusative.

This Heichi proverb illustrates how case marking works:

- manam wa manam kooroo-ken-ometta, furoi furoi no agaitta
   sword ERG sword backwards:LINK:push:IMPF, warrior warrior ACC
   "Swords repell swords, warriors kill warriors."

That's all for the nouns.  Tomorrow, the verbs...

Happy conlanging,


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