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The morphology of the verb in Chasma"o"cho

From:Christophe Grandsire <grandsir@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 31, 1999, 11:37

        here are some new things about my New Personal Language that will now
be called Chasma"o"cho /tSasm'awtS@/, which means "the Good enough one"
or "the simply Good one". It's only the adjective chasmeuth: good that
is nominalized (with animate gender, which is an exception, but all
names of languages are animate) in absolute degree, meaning that this
language doesn't intend to be the best one, but simply a good one for
me. Note that the article is used with languages, unlike English, but
that like in English the name of languages are Capitalised (I've not
finished to set the rules of capitalisation yet, but I'm sure that
everything related to a nation or a language will be capitalised, like
in English).

        The first thing I want to say is an addition to my last post about the
definite suffixes. I forgot to say that when the noun bearing a definite
suffix is completed by an adjective, the suffix behaves like the
which means that it considers the noun+adjective as a whole and is put
on the adjective if this one follows the noun. But surely you had
guessed it.

        The second thing is the big part: The morphology of the verb and of the
simple sentence. It's gonna be long, but I'm sure it's gonna be pretty
interesting, because the ideas I will develop are present in nearly no
language I know of. But you will correct me if I'm wrong of course (in
fact, I'm eager to learn about languages that would use some of the
features I'm going to present now).


        The most important thing to know about the verb is that it has two
different stems that are identical in meaning and morphological
behaviour, but not interchangeable. One is the stem I call "normal" and
the other is the "construct" stem. Like for the noun, the construct stem
is generally formed by lowering the stressed vowel(s) of the stem (which
is generally stressed on the last syllable, but there are exceptions),
or adding a -e that attracts the stress if lowering is impossible. I
think though that I'll have a bunch of irregular verbs, like the English
or German strong verbs, that will make their construct stem differently
(if by any rule at all). That will be very net.

        With each stem, you can make two so-called "infinitives", leading to
four different "infinitive" forms. Moreover, each stem is the base for a
conjugation that uses object prefixes (only for transitive verbs) and
subject suffixes (it's an accusative language) with incorporation of the
object between the stem and the subject suffix under some conditions.
Finally, there are many auxiliairies, and prepositions are just a
special kind of verbs.


        The so-called "infinitives" are not like the infinitives of the
European languages (at least of the Indo-European languages). They are
never used to name the verbs (instead, the normal stem is used, suffixed
with the inanimate article -e), but concurrently with the stems as
complements of auxiliaries. Whether the infinitive or the stem is used
depends on the meaning of the auxiliary and will be seen on the
paragraph over auxiliaries.

        There are two sorts of infinitives: the affirmative infinitives and the
negative infinitives. Simply speaking, the first type means "to + verb"
and the second type "not to + verb". Each stem can be used to make both
types of infinitives. The affirmative infinitives are formed as follows:

- particle ae /aj/ + suffix -ae, -jae, -zae or -vae (attracts the

The negative infinitives are formed as follows:

- particle chiu /dZEw/ + suffix -iu, -chiu, -siu or -viu (also attracts
the stress)

        The good news is that their is a correspondence between the suffix used
for the affirmative infinitive and for the negative infinitive (-ae <->
-iu, -jae <-> -chiu, etc...). The bad news is that their is none between
the suffix used with the normal stem and the one used with the construct
stem (except with regular verbs that don't use the -e to make their
construct stem. In that case, the suffix stays the same between the two

NOTE: particles are a kind of small words (generally monosyllabic) that
don't carry any stress. But their first vowel is still pronounced
clearly. They fall under the stress of the following word (whether they
have a syntactic relationship with it or not), but as they are not
clitics, they don't change the pronunciation of its first vowel.

NOTE 2: The infinitive suffixes always attract the stress, except when
the stem is irregularly stressed (that's to say stressed somewhere else
than at the ending syllable). In this case, the stress remains in place.
Some (rare) stems are stressed on the last syllable, but the stress
remains there even after putting the infinitive suffix. They will be
shown by putting the umlaut on the stressed vowel of the stem, even if
it is the last one of the word.


        The order in the verbal complex is: object prefix+stem(+incorporated
object)+subject suffix. The object can be incorporated in the stem only
if it is not completed by words that carry their own stress (that's to
say nouns, adjectives or subclauses), but the incorporated word can
carry any affix. Encounter between two vowels at the limit between the
stem and the incorporated object is resolved by an apostrophe. Encounter
between consonnants (that's to say creation of a forbidden cluster) is
resolved by putting away the faulty consonnants of the verbal stem, and
adding an apostrophe to mark the lack. If two consonnants that would
normally make a digraph meet there, they are seperated by the
apostrophe, like vowels. None of these problems can appear at the other
end, because the subject suffix can change to obey the rules of


        They seem somewhat like the possessive suffixes, but with some little
differences. Like the infinitive suffixes, they attract the stress,
unless the stem is irregularly stressed. They also have a short and a
long form like the definite suffixes:
                        long form                       short form

1st singular            -(d)arc /(d)'aRc/               -(a)c /('a)c/

2nd singular            -szui /s'9j/, -u"i"ja /'9jdZ@/  -(u)s /('y)s/

3rd singular epicene    -(ch)e"li /(tS)'el@/            -(e)h /('E)tS/

3rd singular masculine  -(i)qu"e"va /(@)k'ujv@/         none

3rd singular feminine   -(i)zle"va /(@)zl'ev@/          none

1st plural              -(a"e")sti /st'i, 'ajst@/       -(t)in /(t)'in/

2nd plural              -hheum /h'9m/, -e"u"mon /'2m@n/ -(h)on /(h)'on/

3rd plural epicene      -madh /m'aD/, -e"u"fadi /'2P@d@/-(q)eud /(k)'9d/

3rd inanimate           -cei /k'Ej/, -e"i"ri /'EjR@/    -(r)i /(R)'i/

resumptive              -pas /p'as/, -a"sfu /'asP@/     -(e)p /('E)p/

3rd singular masculine and feminine have no short form. You simply can't
make that distinction with short forms. The letters or digraphs in
parentheses are put when adding the suffix would have broken the rules
of phonotactics of the language, or put two vowels together. Some
persons have two different long suffixes (the 2nd singular and plural,
the 3rd plural epicene, inanimate and the resumptive. The 1st plural can
also be put in this category). In this case, the first one is always
used, except when adding it would break the rules of phonotactics
(impossible clusters). In this case, and only in this case, the second
suffix is used.


        The object prefixes are generally very different from the subject
suffixes and the definite suffixes (except the 3rd plural epicene and
the resumptive). They are mandatory with transitive verbs, even when the
object is incorporated in the verbal complex. They too have a long and a
short form, but this time even with the long form the distinction
between 3rd person masculine and feminine is not available:
                        long form                       short form

1st singular            aya- /aj@/, asm- /asm/          a(y)- /a(j)/

2nd singular            mine- /min@/, meisqul- /mEjsk@l/ei(m)- /Ej(m)/

3rd singular epicene    vraot- /BRawt/, vordi- /BORd@/  v(o)- /B(o, O)/

1st plural              huugi- /tSug@/, chenoth- /tSen@T/g(i)- /g(i)/

2nd plural              rud- /Ryd/, udlao- /ydl@w/      u(d)- /y(d)/

3rd plural epicene      madh- /maD/, eufadi- /2P@d@/    eu(f)- /2, 9(P)/

3rd inanimate           zero                            zero

resumptive              pas- /pas/, asfu /asP@/         e(p)- /e, E(p)/

The remarks about the subject suffixes are still available. The prefix
for the 3rd person inanimate is the empty one ("zero"). This means that
it is sometimes difficult to say if a verb is employed intransitively or
transitively (see the paragraph on transitivity to understand what I


        Many verbs can be used with other verbs, and some of them only with
other verbs. They have thus an auxiliary use and they are called
auxiliaries. They are really important as they are the mean to conjugate
depending on aspect, mood and tense, things that don't appear in the
verbal complex itself.

        When the verb is conjugated with an auxiliary, it is the auxiliary that
becomes the principal verb of the clause. It thus takes all the personal
affixes and the incorporated object if any (even if primitively the
auxiliary is an intransitive verb) and the verb appears as the verbal
stem alone, or as an infinitive. Also, constructions with more than one
auxiliary are not rare. In any case, only the first auxiliary (or last,
depending on whether you consider the origin at the beginning of the
clause or at the verb) takes the conjugation marks, the others appearing
like the verb as infinitives or verbal stems.

        Whether the form of the verb used with an auxiliary is the infinitive
or the verbal stem is a tricky thing. Generally, the use of the verbal
stem with an auxiliary means that the auxiliary has lost bearly all its
meaning to become a simple aspect, tense or mood marker, whereas the use
of the infinitive means that it keeps more or less its normal meaning.
Also, the infinitive has often a meaning of goal or consequence.

        So for example with the verb de"ve: to go (construct stem jaes):
- de"ve + infinitive: to go and. Example:
        jaesc ae cluumae /dZ'ajsk ajklum'aj/: I go and eat.
- de"ve + stem: to be going to. Example:
        jaesac cluum /dZaes'ak kl'um/: I'm going to eat.

NOTE: with the form jaes, -c is enough as the subject suffix for the 1st
person singular. But for reasons of euphony ('jaesc cluum' would be
difficult to pronounce), the 'a' has been added, even if the rules of
phonotactics weren't broken. This can be done, as is usually done, in
speech, but must not be marked in writing (except in dialogs). So it
will still be written 'jaesc cluum'.

NOTE 2: this scheme has exceptions, and sometimes an auxiliary obliges
to use one form or the other, not depending on the meaning but just
because it asks for it.


        You've just seen one of the uses of the construct stem, as it was the
construct stem of the verb de"ve which was used as an auxiliary. The
construct stem is used a little like the construct state with noun:
- with auxiliaries, as they are morphologically completed by the noun
they semantically complete,
- with verbs of principal clauses when there are subclauses (relative
subclauses are an exception. As they complete a noun, it is the
completed noun, not the verb of the clause where it is, that appears in
construct state).


        Subjects and objects are not marked by any case, but only by their
order in the sentence and the agreement with the verb (and incorporation
if the object is incorporated). So word order is important. Also, word
order in clauses using one or more auxiliaries is an important issue.

        In clauses with no auxiliary, the word order is V(O) S + other
complements if the object is incorporated, and V S O + other complements
otherwise. In clauses with one auxiliary, the word order is Aux(O) S V +
other complements if the object is incorporated, and Aux S V O + other
complements otherwise. In clauses with two or more auxiliairies (not so
rare!), the word order is respectively Aux1(O) S Aux2... V + other
complements or Aux1 S Aux2 O (Aux3...) V + other complements.

        The place before the first verb or auxiliary (the very beginning of the
clause) is available for topicalisation, but in that case the noun
topicalised must reappear in the sentence in its normal place by use of
a resumptive pronoun (different from the resumptive already seen).


        Transitivity is a fuzzy category in Chasma"o"cho. Most verbs can be
used intransitively and transitively depending on the presence of an
object or not. Also the fact that the object prefix for the 3rd person
inanimate is zero makes things fuzzier as it is impossible to say if the
clause 'cluumc' /kl'umk/ means "I eat" or "I eat it" or "I eat
something" with "something" understated.

        Finally, most verbs that are intransitive in English are transitive in
Chasma"o"cho, especially the verbs of movements. So the verb de"ve is
transitive and can be translated more accurately as "to go to" than as
"to go". But it can be used intransitively if the object appears with a


        The prepositions are in fact verbs used in a special way. In fact,
nearly any verb can be used as a preposition, if the meaning allows it.
Some verbs have even developped a special form used only as a
preposition. Prepositions behave nearly just like verbs, except that:

- they only agree with their complement (so if it is an object, the
preposition doesn't take the subject suffixes, but take the object
prefixes and can incorporate the object as any verb. And if it is a
subject, the prepostion takes only subject suffixes and the complement
appears after them, but not incorporated),

- they don't trigger the construct stem of the verb of the clause in
which they are. Indeed, even if prepositional complements can be
considered as simplified subclauses, they are not subclauses and so the
verb of the clause doesn't need to be in construct stem (at least not
because of the prepositions).

        An example of preposition is de"'e (like verbs, prepositions are named
after their stem plus article -e), coming from de"ve: to go to, and
meaning thus simply "to" (movement).


        Among all the possible auxiliaries (most of them verbs in their own
right), there is a special one: ra"ne, which cannot really be translated
in English. This auxiliary is defective, as it possesses neither a
normal stem (ran is its construct stem), nor infinitives. Yet, it
conjugates just like any other verb or auxiliary. Also, when it appears
in a sentence, it is nearly always the first (or last, in the sense I
already defined) auxiliary in the clause, except in very precise cases.

        Used as it is with another verb (or without any other verb also) in
stem form, it is used to make questions (and can thus be translated as
"to do?" or as any English auxiliary used with inversion to make a
question). But if we add the particle chiu in the sentence, the question
becomes a negative sentence (but not interrogative any more. To make
interro-negative sentences, you must use ra"ne twice, one with chiu to
make the negative sentence, and one to transform the negative sentence
into a question). For example:

affirmative sentence: cluumtarols /klumtR'Ols/: you eat sugar (notice
the incorporated object)

interrogative sentence: ; rantarols cluum ; /RantR'Ols kl'um/: do you
eat sugar?

negative sentence: rantarols chiu cluum /RantR'Ols dZEwkl'um/: you don't
eat sugar.

interro-negative sentence: ; rantarols ran chiu cluum ; /RantR'Ols R'an
dZEwkl'um/: don't you eat sugar?

NOTE: chiu is a particle and thus can be put anywhere in the sentence
(except at its beginning if you don't want to topicalize the negation).

        Wow! That's largely enough for today! Sorry to have written so many
things. I hope I won't bother you too much. And if you don't have time
to read it now, just keep it an read it when you have some, I really
would like to have feedback for it (but still, I'll never oblige you to
read what I write of course :) ). Hope you will like it. Personally, I
find this verbal morphology really net. Tell me what you think of it :)

        Christophe Grandsire

        Philips Research Laboratories --  Building WB 145
        Prof. Holstlaan 4
        5656 AA Eindhoven
        The Netherlands

        Phone:  +31-40-27-45006