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A'stou part II: the Noun

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Friday, May 19, 2000, 9:31
After an explanation of the phonology and phonological structure of the
language, here is a review of the structure of the Noun is A'stou, the
language of the disappeared people, the Dha'stem.

The nouns in A'stou can be of one of three genders:
- masculine,
- feminine,
- neuter (which is also epicene for people).
They have also a singular and a plural, as well as a declination of four
cases, each gender having its own endings for the declination (sorry for
the names of the cases, but remember that it's a work of youth :) ):
- nominative-vocative (N-V): the case of the subject and the attribute,
also used to call people (vocative use),
- accusative-genitive (A-G): the case of the object and the complement of a
- dative-ablative-locative (D-A-L): the case of the recipient (dative), but
also the place and the origin,
- instrumental-ergative (I-E): the case of the instrument, also used for
the subject of a causative construction (hence the misused name 'ergative').
The root of a noun is found by taking out the ending of the I-E case, but
the N-V form of the noun is often different. Finally, the declination is
different when the noun is indefinite (alone) or definite (followed by the
definite article).


There is no indefinite article in A'stou, but there is a definite article,
put after the noun it completes and agreeing with it only in case. the
different forms of the article are:
N-V: bi /bi/
A-G: be /be/
D-A-L: e'bi /'ebi/
I-E: a'bi /'abi/


Each gender has different endings for the cases (the nominative is
different and uses often a different form of the noun). Those endings show
the cases as well as the number (singular or plural). they are all used
when the noun is indefinite. But when the noun is definite, the nominative
form (singular or plural) is used with the article at the chosen case,
except for the I-E case with which the noun and the article are put at the
I-E case. Three regular examples for the three genders will explain better
what I mean:

ex.: so'lot (N-V), so'loai (I-E): man (as opposed to 'woman') (root: so'lo-)

indefinite declination:
        singular                plural
N-V     so'lot /'sOlOt/ so'loam /'
A-G     so'loi~n /'     so'lome /'sOlOme/
D-A-L   so'loka /'sOlOka/       so'loamka /'sOlO.amka/
I-E     so'loai /'sOlO.E/       so'lomai /'sOlOmE/

NOTE: The dot in the transcriptions is here to show that the vowels don't
make diphtong.

definite declination:
        singular        plural
N-V     so'lot bi       so'loam bi
A-G     so'lot be       so'loam be
D-A-L   so'lot e'bi     so'loam e'bi
I-E     so'loai a'bi    so'lomai a'bi

ex.: so'lis, so'loi: woman (root: so'l-)

indefinite declination:
        singular                plural
N-V:    so'lis /'sOlis/ so'lom /'sOlOm/
A-G:    so'len /'sOlen/ so'loe /'sOlO.e/
D-A-L:  so'lshka /'sOlSka/      so'lomka /'sOlOmka/
I-E:    so'loi /'sOlOj/ so'lmoi /'sOlmOj/

definite declination:
        singular        plural
N-V:    so'lis bi       so'lom bi
A-G:    so'lis be       so'lom be
D-A-L:  so'lis e'bi     so'lom e'bi
I-E:    so'loi a'bi     so'lmoi a'bi

ex.: so'lkhi, so'loei: man (as opposed to 'animal') (root: so'lo-)

indefinite declination:
        singular                plural
N-V:    so'lkhi /'sOlxi/        so'loem /'sOlO.em/
A-G:    so'lou~n /'sOlO.yn/     so'loeme /'sOlO.eme/
D-A-L:  so'lorka /'sOlOrka/     so'loemka /'sOlO.emka/
I-E:    so'loei /'sOlO.Ej/      so'lomei /'sOlOmEj/

definite declination:
        singular        plural
N-V:    so'lkhi bi      so'loem bi
A-G:    so'lkhi be      so'loem be
D-A-L:  so'lkhi e'bi    so'loem e'bi
I-E:    so'loei a'bi    so'lomei a'bi

NOTE: I translated all those words by 'man' and 'woman', but they were used
by the Dha'stem to refer only to themselves, to their subspecies. Other
humans were referred to as 'children' (but I don't remember the
corresponding A'stou word).
NOTE2: Names of people (like Dha'stem) are always in neuter case (Dha'stem
is simply the N-V plural of Dha'os).


Four cases are far from enough to show all the possible functions of a noun
in a sentence. Thus, with those cases A'stou made a large use of
prepositions (some of them are actually postpositions, as they appear after
the noun, but they are rare). Those prepositions have to be used with a
certain case of the noun, but only the A-C and the D-A-L can accept
prepositions (some prepositions  can accept both cases with slightly
different meanings). Among all the possible prepositions, the
one-consonnant prepositions (transcribed <b_>, <g_>, <d_>, <z_>, <bh_>,
<zh_> and pronounced with a schwa /@/ when in front of a consonnant) are
the most important. They render all the basic functions that are not
directly rendered by the cases:
- b_ followed by the D-A-L shows position, while it shows time when
followed by the A-G,
- g_ followed by the D-A-L shows the direction as well as the goal, while
it means 'after' when followed by the A-G,
- d_ followed by the D-A-L shows the origin (in all concrete and abstract
meanings), while it means 'before' when followed by the A-G,
- z_ followed by the D-A-L means 'through', while it means 'during, for'
when it is followed by the A-G,
- bh_ is a postposition, must complete a A-G and means 'without', while zh_
is a preposition followed by the A-G and meaning 'with' (accompaniment
only, the I-E case is used for the instrumental 'with').

I won't extend more on that, there are many more prepositions and adverbs
can also be used to modify their meanings!


In A'stou, the adjective behaves mostly like the noun, except that most
adjectives can be declined with all three genders. It agrees in number,
case, and generally gender with the noun it completes (whether they are
epithet or attribute). It also "agrees" in definition, that's to say the
adjective, like the noun it completes, will take the same form as the noun
when the noun is followed by the article. An adjective completing various
nouns is always in plural, and is in neuter if the different nouns are of
different genders. As for nouns, the nominative form of the adjective can
be different from the other forms, and can even be the same for all
genders. Sometimes though, there is one nominative form for each gender
(like e'spau /'espo/ (m), e'spou /'espu/ (f), e'speu /'esp9/ (n):
beautiful). the adjective is generally found in front of the noun but it
can appear after (but the article always follows the noun).

Also, the adjective can be easily nominalised (it is generally followed by
the article then). When nominalised in masculine, feminine or neuter
plural, it generally refers to people. In neuter singular, it generally
refers to things, but sometimes to animals or even people.

The degrees of the adjective are formed by taking the root of the adjective
(I-E minus its ending) and adding special suffixes. Unlike in most Western
languages, there are not two but three degrees: comparative, superlative
(be careful as there is a superlative of equality!) and hyperlative (I was
young :) ).

The different suffixes for the comparative are:
- comparative of inferiority ('less'): suffix -id- followed by the case
edings (-au, -ou and -eu for the three N-V),
- comparative of equality ('as'): suffix -iz- followed by the case endings
- comparative of superiority ('more'): suffix -izh- followed by the case
endings (id.).

NOTE: The complement of the comparative is given by the preposition 'dhyo'
followed by the A-G (the preposition 'dhyo' generally means: as for,

The different suffixes are:
- superlative of inferiority ('the least, very few, very little'): suffix
-enod- followed by the case endings (id.),
- superlative of equality ('just as, exactly like, in the average'): suffix
-enoz- followed by the case endings (id.),
- superlative of superiority ('the most, very'): suffix -enozh- followed by
the case endings (id.).

NOTE: To differentiate the absolute superlatives ('very') from the relative
superlatives ('the most'), the absolute superlatives are always followed by
the article (the article follows the adjective, not the noun it completes).
It can seem quite strangez but that's how it works :) .

NOTE2: The complement of a relative superlative is given by the A-G case
(genitive function).

The suffixes function in the same way as for the other degrees and are:
- hyperlative of inferiority ('too little, too few, not enough'): -uhad-,
- hyperlative of equality ('enough'!): -uhaz-,
- hyperlative of superiority ('too'): -uhazh-.

NOTE: it can sound strange to put 'enough' with 'too much', but the
suffixes correspond.

Well, I think this mail is now long enough for now. The next one will deal
with something very exotic in A'stou grammar: the verb (indeed, if the noun
morphology looks quite Indo-European, it's absolutely not the case for the
verb morphology!).

                                                Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"Reality is just another point of view."

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