Conlang #13, phase 1 — säb zjed'a

Word order is typically Verb-Subject-Object, and Head-Modifier. Verbs are marked for valency (intransitive or transitive). However, experience verbs are typically intransitive, with the experiencer in the absolutive case and the thing experienced marked with a focus preposition "shpa".

This language's scant derivational and inflectional morphology is based on ideas I started developing after thinking about the way part-of-speech marking and conversion works in Esperanto and Konya (see this July 2005 thread on the konyalanguage Yahoo group). Root words indicate their semantic category by the final consonant:

Each semantic category has an associated default part of speech: noun for substance, verb for process, modifier for quality, and preposition for relationship. (Grammatical particles, including demonstratives and conjunctions, are monosyllabic words ending in a vowel.)

A final vowel is added to mark part of speech, valency (for verbs) and case (for nouns). For modifiers and prepositions, no part-of-speech vowel is needed if the root word is a quality or relationship root respectively; but part-of-speech vowels can be added to convert words from their default part of speech to another.

After a preposition (such as "shpa"), a substance/noun root does not need any vowel suffix, but a quality, process, or relationship root being used as a noun may require the 'i (absolutive) suffix for clarity.

Here are the rules for converting words between parts of speech. In the verb columns, ERG, ABS and FOC refer to the ergative, absolutive and focus arguments of the verb. In the preposition column, "object" of course means the object of the preposition.

noun intransitive verb transitive verb modifier preposition
substance/entity this substance ABS is an entity of this kind ERG makes ABS into an entity of this kind pertaining to this (kind of) substance ?
process/action this act or process ABS does this act or undergoes this process ERG does this action to ABS, causes ABS to undergo this process pertaining to this (kind of) process doing this to object
quality/state this quality in the abstract ABS has this quality, is in this state ERG causes ABS to have this quality, or to be in this state having this quality, being in this state object has this quality with respect to the head of the prepositional phrase
relationship this relationship in the abstract ABS is in this relationship to FOC ERG causes ABS to be in this relationship to FOC pertaining to this relationship in this relationship to object

There are few conjunctions; most conjunctive notions are expressed with a preposition + the generic subordinating conjunction "vdä".

There are no pronouns as such. The demonstrative particles "sa", "shu", and "ghe" are often used with the generic noun "zhoñ" as equivalents of first, second and third-person pronouns (literally "person this", "person that", "person yonder"). But if one of the demonstrative particles comes immediately after a preposition, it can act like a pronoun (not necessarily animate) without needing a head noun. Also, the relationship/preposition root "zel" (same/same as) can act as a third-person pronoun by taking a nominal suffix ('i or 'o).

The number system is binary; the words "shrä" (one) and "fra" (zero) are simply concatenated in most to least significant order to form larger numbers.

Last updated July 2009