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Telek Nouns

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Saturday, April 29, 2000, 7:45
Here is a description of the morphology and some syntax of nouns.  This
out as a description of morphology in general, but it was getting too long for
a single post.  I'll discuss verbs probably next weekend, then do sentence
level syntax sometime after that.

Nouns can be divided into classes on the basis of gender and
alienable/inalienable possession.


There are two genders: animate and inanimate.  In most cases, the gender
can be
correctly guessed.

Animate:  bilty "type of fish", wanada "deer", lupim "my father", lummim
Inanimate:  pogwe' "hill", sante "house", xamid "sand (a single grain or en

Some things are culturally dependant: plants that are eaten are considered
animate, but the rest are inanimate.  (Don't ask for details on "culturally
dependant" -- I'm still working on that, but not too much.)

Animate:  la'ni "apple", kasansa "strawberry"
Inanimate:  haliito "oak", dolgaatym "dandelion"

Anything abstract is inanimate, as are most nominalized verbs (of verb
phrases): only lexicalized agentives can be animate.

Animate: telen "speaker" (teren "stutterer"), wifaanan "runner"
Inanimate: hosyn "whisperer", lajhosa "life"

Natural phenomena, such as weather, determine their gender based on whether
they seem to be "self-motivated" or not.  By "self-motivated" I mean that they
have no apparent cause, analogous the movement of an animal compared to the
movement of a rock.

Animate: getel "wind" (geter "storm winds"), byrandak "volcanic eruption"
Inanimate: usol "rain" (usor "downpour"), ihaaw "snow"

Body parts are always considered animate, but parts of plants are inanimate.
Some words can change gender depending on context; for example, bisko "water"
is animate when flowing (river, waterfall, etc), but inanimate otherwise
in a jar, etc).

Gender distinction is relevant for two things.  First, agreement on the
verb is
sensitive to the distinction.  Second, only animate verbs may take the
diminutive and augmentive suffixes.

diminutive = -oni
augmentive = -goo

la'nioni "(little/cute) apple tree)"
la'nigoo "(huge/old) apple tree"
*dolgaatymoni "(cute/little) dandelion"
*haliitogoo "(great) oak"

telenoni "speaker" (used of light-hearted poets and story-tellers)
telengoo "speaker" (used of great orators)
*hosynoni "whisperer"
*hosyngoo "whisperer" (maybe used of a gossip??)


The classification of alienable vs. inalienable is rather intuitive.  Things
that must exist in a relationship to some other entity are inalienablly
possessed, while things that can exist on their own are alienablly possessed.

All terms dealing with body parts and relationships are inalienable: it is
impossible to be a "mother" without being somebody's mother.  Likewise with
friends.  These nouns must always appear with a possessive prefix attached to

Possessive Prefixes: (identical to Class-O verb agreement, except for the
1 singular: lu-
1 plural: et-
2 singular: lo-
2 plural: min-
3 animate singular: so-
3 animate plural: as-
3 inaminate: gu- (for both singular and plural)
indefinite: i-

The indefinite is used whenever the actual possessor of these knowns is
or unimportant.


lunees "my arm", ednees "our arms", lonees "your arm", minnees "your arms",
luanoom "my head", atanoom "our heads", soanoom "his/her head", asanoom "their

Kinship terms of immediate family members (mother, father, siblings) are
lexicalized so that it is difficult to separate the prefix and the stem.

lummim "my mother", edmim "our mother", mimmim "your (pl) mother", sommim
"his/her mother"

Alienable nouns comprise the majority of words (though not necessarily the
frequent).  These words only have the possessive prefixes when they are
actually possessed.  In addition, the suffix -(y)m is added.

kalim "shirt", lukalimym "my shirt", minkalimym "your (pl) shirts"
sanax "garden", lusanaxym "my garden, sosanaxym "their garden"
hajdo "blanket", luhajdom "my blanket", ettaydom "our blankets"

Alienable nouns cannot be used with the indefinite possessor.  In these types
of situations, they are simply left unpossessed.

Locational Nouns:

Telek has no locational adpositions, they are all expressed with applicatives
or locational nouns.  For example, the concept of "on" is expressed with a
meaning gil "top", and "under" is expressed by soto "bottom".   The locational
noun is inalienablly possessed, and the possessive marker agrees with its
"object".  If the "object" is already known and would be specified with a
pronoun (e.g., "on it", "under them"), there is only agreement: the
"object" is

hajdo gusoto "under the blanket"
gusoto "under it"

soanoom sogil "on his/her head"
sogil "on him/her"

These phrases may also serve as noun phrases: they can be subjects or objects
of the sentence.

Hajdo gusotoof gungohidy "It is under the blanket" (-of is a case
postpositional clitic)
Hajdo gusotool guikeri "The bottom of the blanket is torn" (-ol is a case
postpositional clitic)
Hajdo gusotood menajlid "You cooked the bottom of the blanket" (whatever
supposed to mean; -od too is a case postpositional clitic)

What do you guys think?