Derivational Morphology of gjâ-zym-byn


gjâ-zym-byn forms words by three processes: compounding, suffixing, and incorporation. Compounding involves putting nominal root words together to form new stems; suffixing involves adding suffixes to the end of a stem; and incorporation involves combining pronouns, conjunctions, postpositions, and other particles into stems.

In the discussion that follows, a "stem" means either a root word, or a word formed from one of the derivational processes, to which further derivational processes may then be applied.

Content root words in gjâ-zym-byn are, if used in a sentence by themselves without any derivational process being applied, always nouns; all verbs and most modifiers (adjectives/adverbs) are derived from these nominal roots, as are the abstract postpositions and many conjunctions. Root words in gzb which semantically correspond to root verbs or adjectives in English, for instance, tend to correspond syntactically to the "-ing" or "-ness" form of the closest equivalent English word; {mâ} or {râm} can be glossed by the English words "person" or "cat", but the most accurate gloss for {ðru} as a stand-alone word would be "redness" or "the color red", not "red" simply, and for {ruŋ} by itself the best gloss would be "moving" or "motion", not "to move". Suffixes turn those nominal roots into adjectives or verbs: {ðru-bô}, "red"; {ruŋ-zô}, "to move", "I go/come/move", etc.

Derivation by compounding

Compounding of nominal roots is normally head-morpheme-first, modifier-morphemes following.

sru-pwĭm thirst (desire-water)
ŝrun-twâ song, singing (music-saying)
mâ-ĵĭn child (person-young)
ʝĭŋ-ĵâŋ Lent (season-fasting)
pjylm-ĥwĭl epoch (sharp.boundary-era)

However, there are a few root words that I call "suffixoid", which logically ought to be the head morpheme and come first, but which actually suffix. E.g.,

cu a system, set of parts that work together for a common function
mâ-cu a connected, working-together group of people
θy element, component part
fu-θy color (component of white light)
kwĭ sequence, series
gâm-kwĭ comic strip, comic book (picture-sequence)
ŋĭw organ, body part, faculty
ƴâ-ŋĭw legs and feet (walk-organ)
rjâ seeking, questing
źy-rjâ trying to fall asleep in a such way that one will remember dreams
bly falling, throwing, orbiting; as a suffixoid, "orbital period"
lyn-bly lunar month
fîsuň-bly Earth year

Why this irregularity? Early on I was undecided about the order in which morphemes compound, and had some inconsistency. Probably by August 1998 I decided definitively that the order should be head-first, and I fixed most of the compound words in the lexicon to fit this order. However, there were a few words I had already learned well that used these particular morphemes, and I decided I didn't want to lose ground with respect to learning vocabulary; so I made these morphemes "suffixoid". Suffixoid content morphemes are not an open class.

When stems are compounded with the conjunction {ke} incorporated between them, instead of simply put together without intermediary, the compound denotes a balanced, synergetic mixture of the things referred to by the two stems; for instance,

pwě'lâl ice cream
kě'kul cola, soda, root beer
pwě'lâl-ke-kě'kul ice cream float
person, human
byj cow, bull, steer
mâ-ke-byj minotaur

{pwě'lâl-kě'kul} would seem to be ice cream with cola or root beer flavor; {mâ-byj} might be a cowboy or cowherd, or a person who resembles a cow or bull in some unspecified way.

The most common use of {ke} incorporation is with proper names of spouses.

Derivation by suffixing

gjâ-zym-byn has 78 suffixes (as of May 2010), the vast majority of which, or perhaps all of which, are more accurately described as derivational rather than inflectional. Most of them are fairly productive derivational processes, applicable ad-hoc to any stem for whose basic meaning their meaning-transformation would make sense. In the following discussion I'll explicitly note the few suffixes that are not fully productive, whose use forms new words whose meanings are not predictable from the meanings of the stem and the suffix.

I'll classify the suffixes in two ways: (1) by the type of word they produce, and (2) by the type of stem they can be applied to.

In the suffix glosses which follow, a tilde '~' signifies the referent of the stem to which the suffix is applied.

Suffixes that form nouns

tla a professional concerned with ~, one who does ~ for a living
pja person who does ~ avocationally, not for money; amateur, hobbyist, volunteer
believer, adherent, follower of ~
zwa would-be ~, person who desires and strives to be ~
mla spouse of one's relative
tôl relative of one's spouse
žar becoming ~; coming to have quality ~, be a ~
gla time-period ordinal
ŋla day-of-week ordinal
ram proper (personal) name tag
šam proper (family, tribe) name tag
wam place name tag
lam language proper name tag
gam general non-personal name tag
ķam foreign title identifier tag
baw derives words for classes of phoneme from example words containing two or more such phonemes
ŋô chemical that's primary/active incredient of ~
Φa thing or substance resulting from action
ha substance with which one does ~, which effects ~
kar substance to which one typically does ~
ĉa tool with which one does ~
ĵwa place full of ~
place where one does ~
name of glyph representing ~
zla the whole set of ~ everywhere, or within a given context
daj a set of ~ of the same kind in the same place, a mass or collection of ~
violation of ~
the set of terms which might be meaningfully applied to ~
ĵam the sort of thing to which ~ (or its opposite) might apply

In addition, the abstract nominalizer clitic {tǒj} acts much like a suffix, and can be applied to postpositions, postpositional phrases, modifier and quantifier particles, and derived verbs and adjectives to turn them into abstract nouns.

hǒl whole, entire (quantifier particle)
hǒl-tǒj whole, entirety, gestalt
jǒm most of (quantifier)
jǒm-tǒj majority
vâ oŋ into the digestive system
vâ-oŋ-tǒj the process of eating/feeding
pwĭm water
pwĭm-rô humble
pwĭm-rô-tǒj humility
the number one
cĭ-tan united, unified
cĭ-tan-tǒj unity
mje past tense adverb
mje-tǒj the past
le probably
le-tǒj probability
tu-frâ-θaj muw-i jǒm-tǒj tu-i twâ-zô
AGT-ask-OPP1 subset-at most.of-NMZ AGT-at say-V.ACT
hǒŋ jyn-lym-fwa-sra ŋĭn-i kě'kul mĭ-i.
that pleasure-taste-CAUS-CMP CMT-at cola this TOP-at
A majority of the respondents said that this cola was the tastiest.

All of the suffixoid roots also form nouns; some of them will be discussed further below in context with suffixes of similar or related meaning.

The first group of suffixes form words for kinds of person:

-tlasomeone who does ~ professionally
-pjawho does ~ habitually as an amateur, hobbyist, volunteer
-lôfollower of a leader, religion, philosophy
vlym-ta naked (clothing-without)
vlym-ta-lô nudist
vlym-ta-tla stripper
krĭ-gjâ-pja conlanger
krĭ-gjâ-tla a conlanger who manages to get paid for conlanging
pĭw game, play
pĭw-pja gamer
ŋul guard, protect, defend
ŋul-tla police officer, security guard, bodyguard
ŋul-pja volunteer security guard (e.g. at an SF con); Eucharistic guardian
-zwa would-be ~, person who desires and strives to be(come) ~
tyrn-tla-zwa candidate for political office
fĭm-hôw-tla-zwa medical student
ħĭn- ř-ŋ - ruŋ-kě'ĝu- ħĭn-ta-zwa srǒ.
confine-place from-inside try-V.ACT go-secret-V.ACT several
Several would-be escapees tried to sneak out of the prison.
mluj gjâ-krĭ-za i krĭ-gjâ-pja srǒ
small.convention language-creation-ADJ at create-language-amateur many
lĭw-o kuln jâ-o hyw-ƥ-môj.
relationship-to friend state-to direct.knowledge-3-V.RECP
At the Language Creation Conference conlangers meet one another and become friends.
italia-wam i ler-tǒj-lô mĭ-i fraňs-wam i dě'dâ-lô ₣um-i fjǒ.
Italy-NAME.P at future-NMZ-member TOP-at France-NAME.P at Dada-member similar-at FUZZY
The Italian Futurists were somewhat similar to the French Dadaists.

These suffixes form terms for relations by marriage:
-mla spouse of one's relative
-tôl relative of one's spouse
fru-mla son-in-law, daughter-in-law
tâ-mla brother- or sister-in-law (sibling's spouse)
kyn-tôl mother-in-law, father-in-law
tâ-tôl brother- or sister-in-law (spouse's sibling)

See other examples under "Kinship terminology".

{-žar} indicates a process or event of becoming the kind of entity denoted by the stem, or beginning to have the quality or be in the state denoted by the stem.

zuň alive
zuň-cô dead
zuň-cô-žar death, event or process of dying
rě'ĵy wife
rě'ĵy-žar getting married, marriage, wedding (of a woman)
rě'ĵy-tôn spouse, couple
rě'ĵy-tôn-žar getting married, marriage, wedding (of a couple)
₣um similarity
₣um-žar assimilation
ĵu maturity
ĵu-žar growing up, maturing

But if the stem denotes an action or process, the ordinary root morpheme {gĭn} "beginning" is used to indicate inceptive aspect; compare these uses of {-žar} and {-gĭn} with the entity stem {rě'ĵy}, the quality stem {ĵu}, and the action stem {ruŋ}:

rě'ĵy wife
rě'ĵy-žar-van to get married
ĵu mature, grown
ĵu-žar-van to grow up
ruŋ going, coming, motion
ruŋ-gĭn starting to go, getting into motion
ruŋ-gĭn-zô to get going, to set out

{-žar} was added to the language relatively late (March 2007) as morphological sugar for verbose {tǒj}-nominalizations of {jâ-o} postpositional phrases.

The nominal ordinal suffixes {-gla} and {-ŋla} are discussed in detail in the section on number-derivations, along with the adjectival/adverbial ordinal suffixes {-pa} and {-saw}. I classify them as nominal suffixes because the resulting ordinals can be used as the head of a noun phrase, though they also tend (more often than most other nouns) to act as apposite noun modifiers. E.g.,

ĝu-gla i tyn o ruŋ-ƥ-.
thirteen-ORD.T at place this to move-3-V.ACT
She arrived at one o'clock p.m.
ĉul měr'kun-dal ħy-gla kâ-i -ku-ɱ- de.
performance radio.wave-origin nineteen-ORD.T ATT-at attention-hear-3-V.ACT HAB
He listens to [a certain] seven p.m. radio program nowadays.

Foreign names and titles not completely assimilated to gzb phonotactics are marked with a suffix indicating the kind of entity named:

-rampersonal name tag
-šamfamily name tag
-lamlanguage name
-wamplace name
-gamany other kind of name, e.g. company or product brand name

The distinct name suffixes allow me to unambiguously put names in the normal order for their native language, i.e. personal name + family name for English, family name + personal name for Hungarian, etc. Mostly these apply to foreign names and titles; however, they could apply to gjâ-zym-byn words which are used as names or titles, e.g. if a foreign name or title is translated rather than merely transliterated. For instance,

ĝĭm-ram hĭn'rij-šamJim Henry
kaloĉaj-šam kalman-ram Kálmán Kaloscay
šlâ suomi-wam-zaFinn (inhabitant Finland-NAME.P-ADJ.R)
suomi-lamFinnish language
ĥrist-ķamChrist (after deleting the case ending from Greek "Xristos")
ĥy-lyl-ķamChrist (translating: PAT-oil-NAME.T, = annointed one title)

If {-šam} follows a family name that ends in a fricative, then an epenthetic schwa is inserted in pronunciation (though not in writing).

smĭθ-šam /'smIθ.ə.çɑm/

If a person has a pen-name or pseudonym, or if they have legally changed their name to a form that has separate parts corresponding to the personal name and family name of a traditional multi-part name, but in which the last name doesn't have a connection to their ancestors (as far as the speaker knows), then the entire name is transliterated with hyphens between its parts, and the {-ram} suffix is appended to the whole thing; the {-šam} family name suffix is not used in such cases. The not uncommon method of forming a pen-name incorporating one's mother's maiden name is an exception; {-šam} could be used with the family name in that case.

Pen name:

mark-twejn-ram dâm-ř {hěklberij-ram fĭn-šam} kâ-i lju-zô.
Mark Twain-NAME authorship-from Huckleberry-NAME Finn-NAME.F ATT-at read-V.ACT
I'm reading Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Legally changed name:

źî'gĭ-ĉu-gla i sonja-elen-kisa-ram dâm-ř toki-pona-lam-la kâ-i suŋ-hôw-ca.
2003-2-ORD.T at Sonja Elen Kisa-NAME authorship-from Toki Pona-NAME.L ATT-at
I learned [taught myself] Sonja Elen Kisa's Toki Pona in 2005.

Names of spouses, or collaborators in some artistic work, are often linked together with the synergy-conjunction {ke}, the name-suffix {-ram} being used only once after both names.

Names are sometimes used as apposite modifiers of common nouns, especially if a {-ram} name is used for a nonhuman, and with the generic {-gam} names for brand-name foodstuffs, drugs, vehicles, etc. This rarely if ever occurs with names marked with the more specific suffixes like {-wam} and {-lam}.

--van râm merĭn-ram.
restless-tending-V.STATE cat Meryn-NAME
Meryn (a cat) is restless.
plĭ asetamĭnofen-gam ŝĭw-i jyn--tâlm jâ-ř.
pill acetaminophen-NAME.G substance-at pleasure-OPP2-head state-from
I got rid of my headache using acetaminophen (a pill).

When a foreign name is cited without being transliterated (I may do this if I am unsure of its pronunciation), it goes into quote marks (curly brackets); a name-suffix then follows the quoted name. Sometimes foreign names which are acronyms in the source-language are quoted as all-caps Latin letters, in which case quote marks are not needed because the capital letters thoroughly distinguish them from surrounding gzb text; the name-suffix is still suffixed (with a hyphen).

krĭ-gjâ-pja-ķa {Javant Biarujia}-ram dâm-ř grâm-cjaj .
create-language-amateur-RESPECT "Javant Biarujia"-NAME authorship-from message-SPEC behold
Hey, an email from noted conlanger Javant Biarujia!
IHOP-gam o ruŋ-zô kujm-šar vâ-oŋ-zô Ќ-ƥ.
IHOP-NAME.G to go-V.ACT purpose-CONJ digestion-into-V.ACT 1-3
We went to eat at IHOP.

Some few foreign names and titles have fully-assimilated forms that conform fully to gzb phonotactics and morpheme-shape rules. These forms do not require a name suffix when they occur; they occur in the lexicon and block other gzb words from being coined with the same form. E.g.,

ĥrî'cu Christ, Messiah
jî'ŝu Jesus, Joshua
pî'tĭr Peter, Pyotr, Pierre, Pedro, Petra...
jě'nu John, Jane, Joannes, Ivan, Johann, Jean, Jeanne, Joan, Juan...
mî'rĭj Miriam, Mary, Maria, Mario, Marie, Mariah...

If a native gzb word (root or derived) is used as a proper name but has a basic meaning other than as a name, whether it's translating the meaning of a foreign name or originally naming some entity in gzb, the appropriate name suffix must be used.

{-baw} derives a word for a type of phoneme from an example word that contains two or more phonemes that belong to that class. It's idiomatic and not fully productive; given gzb's morphophonology, I haven't been able come up with satisfactory {-baw}-derivations for various kinds of vowel. The stable words derived from {-baw} are as follows:

fî'suň-baw fricative consonant
kě'pâ-baw plosive consonant
nĭm-baw nasal consonant
ljâw-baw approximant
ť-ƥ-baw click consonant

{-ĉa} forms words for tools, including vehicles, software and other useful things. With process stems, it means a tool for doing so and so; with quality stems, a tool for rendering something such and such:

ĥâ cutting
ĥâ-ĉa knife, sword, axe, saw
jĭm pure, unmixed
jĭm-ĉa filter
ƴâwn buying on credit
ƴâwn-ĉa credit card
gu choice
gu-ĉa ballot
ķĭn building, construction
šĭm-cu software (algorithm-system)
ķĭn-šĭm-cu-ĉa compiler

{-ĉa} is normally used on a nominal stem, but in one case at least it suffixes after a verb suffix:

rĭm seeing
rĭm-ca to see oneself (reflexive verb)
rĭm-ca-ĉa mirror

Contrast {rĭm-ĉa}, "eyeglasses", formed on the bare root {rĭm}.

Of the substance suffixes, {-Φa}, {-kar}, and {-ha} are semantically regular and productive; {-ŋô} is idiomatic and not fully productive. {-Φa} and {-kar} apply only to process stems; {-ha}, to either quality or process stems:

ķârm coughing
ķârm-Φa mucus from lungs
lju reading
lju-kar text
vâ-oŋ-zô to ingest (eat or drink)
vâ-oŋ-kar food and drink
šyj cleanness
šyj-ha soap (actually a broad term including detergents, shampoo, toothpaste)
kâj exchange, trade
kâj-ha money, medium of exchange

There is no predictable rule for what substance will be selected as the "primary ingredient" of a stem noun by {-ŋô}.

těn'ju tea
těn'ju-ŋô caffeine
by air
by-ŋô nitrogen
lî'klâ milk
lî'klâ-ŋô calcium
mruň mountain
mruň-ŋô rock, stone

Two suffixes form words for places — typically buildings or rooms, less often outdoor spaces. {-ĵwa} describes a place having many of the thing referred to by the stem; {-kô}, a place where one typically does the process or action referred to by the stem.

bĭm drained container
bĭm-ĵwa restroom, bathroom
mâ-ĵwa city
kâj trade, selling, buying
kâj-kô store, market
gujŋ digging, excavating
gujŋ-kô mine

Sometimes two nouns formed from {-kô} and {-ĵwa} are used together, one modifying the other, when it seems necessary to reduce ambiguity:

twâ-cu book
twâ-cu-ĵwa bookstore, library
bwĭl-syj-zô to lend (to give the use of)
kâj-kô twâ-cu-ĵwa bookstore
bwĭl-syj-kô twâ-cu-ĵwa lending library
plĭ-tôn medicine
kâj-kô plĭ-tôn-ĵwa pharmacy, drugstore

Sometimes {-kô} and {-ĵwa} are used together to derive another place-noun from a more basic one:

bâwŋ organically growing things (raising crops, gestating a baby, etc.)
bâwŋ-kô farm
bâwŋ-kô-ĵwa country, countryside, rural area
mwĭl sleep
mwĭl-kô bedroom
mwĭl-kô-ĵwa dormitory, hotel

{-kô} can also be used with a reflexive verb stem:

šyj cleanness
šyj-ca to clean oneself, to bathe or shower
šyj-ca-kô bathroom, bath-house, showers

I think potentially some other noun-deriving suffixes (maybe {-pja} and {-ha} for instance) could suffix to reflexive verb stems, but this and {rĭm-ca-ĉa} are the only such words attested so far.

-vôname of glyph representing stem
ĉu-vôthe numeral "2"
i-vôthe at "@" sign
cu-vôthe letter "c"

The suffixes {-daj} and {-zla} form collective nouns, as do the suffixoid roots {cu} and {kwĭ}:

-dajgroup of similar things or mass of the same stuff in one place
-zlathe whole set of similar things, not necessarily of common place or function
mâ-zlathe human race
cu a system of similar things working together
mâ-cucompany, church, club, etc.
kwĭ a sequence or series
mâ-kwĭa queue of people waiting in line e.g.

{-dô} forms a word for a violation of a standard described by the stem. Compare the modifier-forming suffix {-ja} "fitting, in accordance with" discussed below. {-dô} words are basically nouns, but can also act as modifiers of other nouns, or of verbs.

fĭm health
fĭm-dô an unhealthy act or habit
žâj the moral law
žâj-dô sin
ĝâ human law
ĝâ-dô crime, lawbreaking
ðâ logic
ðâ-dô paradox; inconsistency; illogic
ĝâ-dô mĭ-i ĥul- ŋĭn-i.
law-violation this TOP-at anger-worthy CMT-at
This crime is something one ought to be angry about.
--tǒj fĭm-dô gân-ř fĭm- jâ-o ķuj-ť-van.
digestion-into-NMZ health-violation cause-from health-OPP2 state-to danger-2-V.STATE
Because of unhealthy eating, you are in danger of getting sick.
Ќ dâm-ř gju kâ-i ku-ƥ-van kâ-dô.
1 authorship-from speech ATT-at hear-3-V.STATE attention-violation
She heard inattentively what I was saying.

Above, {ĝâ-dô} is head of a noun phrase; {fĭm-dô} modifies another noun (here a nominalized postpositional phrase) within a noun phrase; {kâ-dô} acts as an adverb, modifying the verb of the sentence.

The suffixes {-hô} and {ĵam} are a bit tricky, and admittedly less frequently useful than most of the other suffixes in gzb. {-hô} derives a word for the qualities a particular kind of thing can have. For instance, {mâ-hô} refers to all the qualities that people can have, or (in a linguistics context) all the modifiers that could appear modifying a noun phrase signifying a person. E.g., intelligent, foolish, pious, angry, female, healthy, etc. {gâ-zuň-hô} refers to the qualities (or modifiers that refer to qualities) that living things in general can have.

Nouns derived from adjectives with {-ĵam} refer to the set of things that can have the quality described by the stem (or nouns that can be modified by such adjectives, in a linguistic context) — those things for which having that quality would not be a meaningless notion or a contradiction in terms, whether they actually have much of those qualities or not. For instance, {ĉâ-ĵam} refers to the set of things which might be described as intelligent — all thinking beings, human or otherwise — even if some particular ones would be more aptly described as stupid ({ĉâ-cô-bô}). From {Φu} "mass" we derive {Φu-ĵam}, which describes all physical things (even those such as photons which actually have zero rest mass), in contrast to information, abstractions and spiritual things for which the concept of "mass" is meaningless.

Suffixes that form modifiers

quality noun → adjective
za having to do with, associated with ~
tan ~like, resembling ~, similar to ~
characteristic quality of (entity noun → adjective)
fwa causative: inducing a state of ~, causing to be ~, to do or experience ~
hôw attempting to cause something to be ~, render ~
ta without, lacking ~; free from ~
ža with ~, having ~, supplied with ~
da covered with, saturated with ~; ~-ful; having much ~
ja in accord with ~, suitable to ~; along, fitting ~
faj able to have ~ done to it
deserving ~, worthy of ~; ought to have ~ done to it
kwa color of ~
na made of ~; (with language name) in
paj intended for, used for ~, for the benefit of ~, for the purpose of ~
dal originating from ~
ðwa pro-; in favor of, promoting ~
ĝa anti-; opposed to ~
tending to do ~ often, much; (with entity stems) partial to, seeking, desiring ~
ŝra likely to do or be ~ soon
ŝa fruitful, productive of ~, making ~, being a source of ~
pa Nth, ordinal; position in spatial or temporal series
saw as the Nth in a sequence of diverse actions
pôm derive evidentiality, validationality, or attitudinal adverb from stem

{-bô} is the basic adjective suffix, used primarily for nominal stems that already signify a quality, state, or description.

hum depth
hum-bô deep
fĭm health
fĭm-bô healthy (of organisms)
huw happiness, contentment
huw-bô happy

It's also used with number stems, to derive cardinal number modifiers from mathematical-object nouns, and with process/action stems, to form gerunds.

ĉu the number two; any set with two members
ĉu-bô two of
ruŋ going, coming, moving
ruŋ-bô in motion, in transit

{-za} "pertaining to, associated with" is the most general and productive adjectivizing suffix, applicable to practically any stem, though most commonly used with entity or substance stems. In recent years the more specific suffixes {-paj} and {-dal} (see below) have replaced some uses of {-za}.

râm cat
râm-za pertaining to cats
twâ-cu book
twâ-cu-za literary
ĝâ human law
ĝâ-za legal (pertaining to the law; for "allowed by law" use {ĝâ-ja})
fĭm-za sanitary, pertaining to health
mâ-daj-za popular, pertaining to the crowd or mass of people

There is at least one very idiomatic use of -za, however:

dî'ku pi (3.141592653...)
dî'ku-za round, circular

{-tan} "like, resembling" is similarly productive as {-za}, applying to almost any kind of stem but especially to entity/substance stems.

mâ-tan humanoid, resembling a human
bâm newness
bâm-tan like new
the number one
cĭ-tan unified, united

{-rô} is explicitly idiomatic in its usage; it selects an arbitrary salient quality of the entity or substance referred to by its stem.

mârm marble
mârm-rô hard, unyielding
mě'hu stew
mě'hu-rô miscellaneous, variegated
wĭm bag, sack
wĭm-rô flexible, floppy
mâ-rô sentient, self-aware

Most words for tastes are derived with {-rô} from a stem denoting a kind of food or drink:

mjyl honey
mjyl-rô sweet
ķârn meat
ķârn-rô umami
kî'pĭ pepper (Capsicum)
kî'pĭ-rô spicy
kě'fâ coffee
kě'fâ-rô bitter
cî'trun lemon
cî'trun-rô sour

The exception is "salty" from {sâl} "salt" as {sâl-tan}.

gzb has two kinds of causative, {-fwa} "effective causation" and {-hôw} "attempted/intended causation". Words formed from these suffixes are modifiers, and it's very common to form verbs based on stems formed with them, as well as {-tla} or {-pja} agent-nominalizations. Words in {-hôw} do not make any assertion whether the attempted causation is successful or not.

Their effect with different kinds of stems:

entity, substance turn patient into an entity/substance of this kind
quality, state cause patient to have this quality, be in this state
process, action cause patient to undergo this process, do this action


žě'ĉym cheese
žě'ĉym-fwa-zô to make (some kind of milk) into cheese
twâ-θy word
twâ-θy-fwa-zô to lexicalize (a concept)
pym amusement
pym-fwa funny
pym-hôw intended to be funny
flĭŋ dancing
flĭŋ-fwa dance-inducing (of music e.g.)
kun knowledge
kun-hôw-zô teach (attempt to cause someone to learn)
kun-hôw-tla teacher, professor
fĭm health
fĭm-hôw-zô treat (attempt to make someone healthy)
fĭm-hôw-tla doctor, physician

{-fwa} is most often used with the mindstate words to form words for subjective qualities, as in {pym} → {pym-fwa} above.

{-ta}, {-ža} and {-da} are used to form modifiers indicating the absence or presence of an entity or substance, usually; they are more rarely used with quality or process stems ({-ta} more often than the others):

vlym clothing
vlym-ta naked
vlym-ža wearing something
vlym-da fully dressed
pwĭm water
pwĭm-ta dry
pwĭm-da soaking wet
syrm line, stripe
syrm-ža striped (of animals, shirts, etc.); lined (of paper)
ruŋ locomotion
ruŋ-ta sessile, stationary, sedentary
ħĭn restriction, imprisonment
ħĭn-ta free

{-ja} "according to, fitting" is a counterpart of the noun-deriving suffix {-dô} "violation of"; it applies productively to stems signifying a standard by which actions can be judged, and more idiomatically elsewhere.

-ja in accordance with ~, fitting or suitable to ~
fĭm health
fĭm-ja healthy
žâj the moral law
žâj-ja moral, right
ðurm work
vlym ðurm-ja work clothes

With entity stems signifying long objects {-ja} means "along"; if the referent of the stem has a direction of motion, it means "in said direction", while {-dô} means "opposite that direction".
pě'hĭ road, street
pě'hĭ-ja along the road
pě'hĭ-dô the wrong way on a one-way street
sĭ-ja along the river, downriver
sĭ-dô upriver
by-flu wind (air-flow)
by-flu-ja downwind
by-flu-dô upwind

{-faj} and {-gô} correspond to the English suffix -able, -ible:

lju-faj readable, legible
lju-gô worth reading
vâ-faj edible, digestible
vâ-gô delicious and nutritious, worth eating
syj-faj usable, useful, ready to use

{-kwa} derives additional color terms from entities which typically have that color (there are also four basic root-word color terms).

θĭl potato
θĭl-kwa light brown
čĭm chocolate
čĭm-kwa dark brown
sî'nĭn orange (fruit)
sî'nĭn-kwa orange (color)


vě'ty-rĭm window (door-vision)
vě'ty-rĭm-kwa transparent
jâln heat
jâln-kwa infrared
rĭm-ca-ĉa mirror (see-V.REFL-tool)
rĭm-ca-ĉa-kwa reflective

{-na} forms modifiers signifying their head is made the stuff referred to by the stem.

zryŋ gold
θym zryŋ-na a gold ring
sjân tin
ĥâ-kî'sul-tla sjân-na the Tin Woodman
mârm marble
Φâ mârm-na a marble statue

{-paj} and {-dal} were added relatively late (in 2007), to substitute more precisely for vague, polysemous {-za} in some uses. {-paj} is morphological sugar for the benefactive and purposive case postpositions; depending on the meaning of the stem it applies to it can mean "for the benefit of" or "for the purpose of":

mâ-ĵĭn child
θuň mâ-ĵĭn-paj a story for children
sî'ðyr fighting, combat
ĥâ-ĉa sî'ðyr-paj sword (cutting-tool for fighting with)
ƥ ŝâj-o θym zjâm-paj ĥy-i bwĭl-zô.
3 having-to torus finger-for PAT-at give-V.ACT
I gave her a finger-ring.
ķĭm-zô sěl'kâ-gôm-paj
exercise-V.ACT spine-METONYM-for
I'm doing back exercises.

{-dal} creates modifiers signifying origin from the entity referred to by the stem. I created it while trying to find ways to express various senses of polysemous English "natural" in gzb:

mâ-zla humanity
mâ-zla-dal natural (of languages, institutions; originating from humanity at large and not invented by one or a few people)
mu the universe, our spacetime continuum
mu-dal natural (originating from within our universe, not miraculous or supernatural)
zuň life, aliveness
zuň-dal natural (of biological origin, not manmade)
ħun-tôn-daj luw-cu šĭl-dal kâ-i tru-zô.
pine-GNR-COLL inside bone-system snake-origin ATT-at find-V.ACT
I found a snake skeleton in the woods.

The suffixes {-ĝa} and {-ðwa} correspond roughly to English "pro-" and "anti-".

ĝâ (human) law
ĝâ-ĝa anarchistic
zuň life, aliveness
zuň-ðwa pro-life
wuŋ ownership, property
wuŋ-ðwa in favor of private property
plĭ-tôn drug, medicine
ħě'nâw allergy, state of being allergic to something
plĭ-tôn ħě'nâw-ĝa allergy medicine

{-ðwa} can be used with a person's name to form an adjective describing those who support them, e.g., believe them innocent when they are accused of something, or {-ĝa} to form an adjective describing those who oppose them or believe them guilty:

tĭm-fî'suň-bly ħy-pa šiŋ, fraňs-wam
hundred-Earth-orbit 19-ORD after-at-inside France-NAME.P inside
draj'fîs-šam-ðwa pe draj'fîs-šam-ĝa tu-i sî'ðyr-ga-źa-môj.
people Dreyfus-NAME.F-pro and Dreyfus-NAME.F-anti AGT-at fight-METAPH-AUG-V.RECP
In the late nineteenth century in France, Dreyfusards and anti-Dreyfusards fought intensely.

The suffixes {-sô} and {-ŝra} are prototypically used with process/action stems, forming modifiers meaning "tending to do ~ often" or "likely to do ~ soon". With quality or state stems, their meaning is similar: "tending to have this quality often", "likely to enter this state soon".

mwĭl sleep
mwĭl-sô tending to sleep a lot (e.g., of cats)
mwĭl-ŝra sleepy, likely to fall asleep soon
pym amusement
pym-sô easily amused
pě'lâ obsolete
pě'lâ-ŝra obsolescent

With entity or substance stems, {-sô} modifiers tend to mean "having a partiality toward ~", "preferring ~ to some implicit alternative":

râm-sô partial to cats
mâ-ŝy-sô attracted to women
twâ-cu-sô bibliophilic
vlym-sô tending to wear clothes, having a nudity taboo

{-ŝra} with such stems means "likely to become ~ soon" (cf. {-zwa} among the nominalizing suffixes above):

kyn parent
kyn-ŝra likely to have children before long (of a young couple, e.g.)
fĭm-hôw-tla physician
fĭm-hôw-tla-ŝra used of a medical student who's about to graduate if nothing goes wrong

{-ŝa} applies mostly to entity/substance stems, signifying "being a fruitful source of ~, producing many ~":

zym-ŝa creative, having many ideas
fru-ŝa having many children
mě'zâ-ŝa growing a lot of corn (of a farm or farming region, e.g.)
twâ-cu-ŝa prolific of written works
gjâ-krĭ-ŝa prolific of conlangs

It's unattested with quality or process stems; it seems the resulting modifiers would be near-synonymous with {-fwa}-causatives. Maybe:

bî'lym sî'ðyr-ŝa rjâ-i šî'fy-źa-ŝy -.
apple fighting-productive quest-at spirit-AUG-female three-ADJ
Three goddesses sought the Apple of Discord.

The ordinal suffixes {-pa} and {-saw} are discussed in the section on derivation from numbers.

Depending on the semantics of the stem {-pôm} is applied to, it can derive evidentiality, validationality, or attitudinality adverbs; in any case the syntax of said adverbs is the same.

With stems that indicate a potential source of information — a sense, a communication process, a person, a book, etc. — it forms evidentiality adverbs:

rĭm vision
rĭm-pôm I saw it with my own eyes
lju reading
lju-pôm I read it somewhere
mî'rĭj-pôm Miriam says that... / According to Miriam...

With stems that indicate a degree or kind of certainty, it forms validationality adverbs:

brâl certainty
brâl-pôm I'm sure that...
hyw memory, experience
hyw-pôm I remember / know by experience that...
ĵrĭw supposing, expecting
ĵrĭw-pôm I suppose / expect / assume that...

With other mindstate stems, emotional rather than intellectual, it forms attitudinality adverbs:

sjum gratefulness
sjum-pôm thankfully
źu hope
źu-pôm hopefully

These adverbs, unlike most (I think {-saw} ordinals are the only other exception), apply at the sentence level, and can either follow the main verb or come at the beginning of the sentence. For more on the syntax of these adverbs and example sentences for their use, see the relevant section of the syntax document.

Suffixes that form verbs

van stative verb suffix
active verb suffix
ca reflexive verb suffix
môj reciprocal verb suffix

The use of verbs derived with these suffixes is discussed in the syntax document.

With process/action stems, verb derivations work as follows:

-van to undergo this process
-zô to deliberately perform this action / cause something to undergo this process
-ca to cause oneself to undergo this process / do this action to oneself
-môj to cause each other to undergo this process / do this action to each other

See numerous examples in the syntax document.

With quality/state stems:

-van to have this quality, be in this state
-zô to cause something to be in this state
-ca to cause oneself to be in this state
-môj to cause each other to be in this state

The causative suffix {-fwa} is not always needed in going from a quality stem to a causative verb, though it's often used redundantly.

šyj cleanness
šyj-van to be clean
šyj-zô to clean, to wash, to bathe (someone/something)
šyj-ca to wash, bathe, shower (oneself)
šyj-môj to wash each other

{šyj-fwa-zô} is also attested; it can be synonymous with {šyj-zô}, but it has another sense where one is causing e.g. clothes or dishes to be washed by a machine rather than washing them directly by hand.

With entity/substance stems, {-fwa} is needed to explicitly form a causative active verb meaning "to make something into an entity of this kind". Verb derivations from entity/substance stems are:

-van to be an entity of this kind
-zô (idiomatic, unpredictable) to use an entity of this kind in a typical way
-ca reflexive version of idiomatic {-zô} meaning for a given stem
-môj reciprocal version of idiomatic {-zô} meaning for a given stem

For instance,

krĭ-gjâ-pja conlanger
krĭ-gjâ-pja-van to be a conlanger
nĭm name
nĭm-zô to name, to assign a name to something
nĭm-ca to call oneself
kyw lungs
kyw-zô to breathe
plĭ pill
plĭ-zô to take pills
djâ contract, treaty, covenant
djâ-môj to negotiate and sign a treaty, contract, covenant with each other
ŝě'ĥâ chess
ŝě'ĥâ-môj to play chess with each other


Derived postpositions are formed by suffixing one of the core spacetime postpositions — {i}, {o}, or {ř} — to a stem, usually a bare root word. Such postpositions are discussed in the syntax document.


Exactly one suffix forms conjunctions, {-šar}. For example:

nu time, moment, occasion
nu-šar then, at the next moment
vĭj time, period, while
vĭj-šar then, a little while later
sun end, finish, completion
sun-šar then finally; and/but in the end...
ŋwĭm substitution, replacement
ŋwĭm-šar instead
ru way, manner, method
ru-šar by, in this way, by this method
muw subset
muw-šar which is a subset of; considered as a subset of
žy pointing, showing
žy-šar for example
topic, subject, theme
mĭ-šar about, about how (conj., introducing sub. clause that's topic of verb of saying or thinking in main clause)
kujm purpose, motive, goal
kujm-šar in order to

In retrospect, this aspect of gzb does not seem especially well designed. I should probably have had multiple conjunction-forming suffixes for making phrase-scope and clause-scope conjunctions, and perhaps different ones for applying the meaning of the stem leftward or rightward. As it is, there's just {-šar}, and you can't deduce the usage of a {-šar} conjunction just from the meaning of the stem (although you probably can from the meaning of the stem plus the context the first two or three times you see it used).

For instance, seeing the conjunction {mĭ-šar} and knowing the meaning of the root {mĭ}, you can figure out that the words on one side of it are somehow the topic or theme of the words on the other side; but you have to memorize the fact that it introduces a subordinate clause to its right, which is a topic of (typically) a verb of thinking or communciation in the matrix clause to its left. E.g.,

gju-môj θě'mâ pe sě'râ mĭ-šar tě'θru-ga-van mâ-cu kâj-ha-.
talk-V.RECP Thomas and Sarah topic-CONJ fall-METAPH-V.STATE person-system exchange-stuff-seeking
Thomas and Sarah talked about how the company was going bankrupt.
Ќ ŋâw-o grâm-zô âleks-ram fiŋk-šam mĭ-šar Ќ dâm-ř
1 call-to message-V.ACT Alex-NAME Fink-NAME.F topic-CONJ 1 authorship-from
pě'pâ-ga im ðâ-dô ĉu-bô.
page-METAPH certain part.of logic-violation two-ADJ
Alex Fink sent me a message about how there were two mistakes in a certain essay of mine.


The manner-conjunction {ru-šar}, introducing a subordinate clause describing the way the action of the main clause is done, works similarly:

gjâ kâ-i suŋ jâ-o Ł tu-i ru-šar te ĥy-i syj-zô reŋ kiň gjâ-- reŋ.
language ATT-at state-to 3.GEN AGT-at manner-CONJ 3.INAN PAT-at use-V.ACT much and language-violation-V.ACT much
One learns a language by using it a lot and making a lot of mistakes.

{muw-šar}, the subset conjunction, however, doesn't make sense as a clausal conjunction; it's used between nouns within a noun phrase, and works pretty much like the subset postposition {muw-i} in reverse (though it's much rarer in the corpus than {muw-i}):

rî'mâ vyŋ-lwa- muw-i rî'mâ ny-sra-lwa- ty-van zě'ĥâr.
house ten.thousand-APPROX-ADJ subset-at house small-COMP-ADJ inside lodge-V.STATE Zachary
In the smallest of the ten thousand houses lived Zachary.
rî'mâ-ŋul gem muw-šar rî'mâ-tôn kâ-i prym-van zě'ĥâr.
house-protect especially subset-CONJ house-GNR ATT-at Zachary
Among types of building, Zachary especially loves castles.

The time-conjunctions formed with {-šar} are pretty straightforward; they correspond to English "then" when used as a conjunction, i.e., the clause to their right happens after the clause to their left:

ty o ruŋ-zô nu-šar vâ-oŋ-zô.
home to go-V.ACT moment-CONJ digestion-into-V.ACT
I went home, then-immediately ate. = The moment I got home, I ate.
ty o ruŋ-zô vĭj-šar vâ-oŋ-zô.
home to go-V.ACT period-CONJ digestion-into-V.ACT
I went home, then-eventually ate. = A while after I got home, I ate.
ty o ruŋ-zô kiň vâ-oŋ-zô, sun-šar tĭw-mwĭl son zyŋ-.
home to go-V.ACT and digestion-into-V.ACT end-CONJ chair-sleep onto crawl-V.ACT
I went home and ate, then-finally went to bed.

Most if not all of the clausal conjunctions can occur at the beginning of a sentence, implicitly linking it to a previous sentence or some element thereof. The time-conjunctions {nu-šar}, {vĭj-šar} and {sun-šar} work that way — {sun-šar} probably occurs more often at the beginning of a sentence than in the middle of a sentence. The example-conjunction {žy-šar} is also likely to start a sentence, but can occur in the middle:

grĭ---van de šĭm-ĉa ; žy-šar
function-OPP2-tending-V.STATE HAB algorithm-tool DEM1 point-CONJ
ĵwy--van sĭŋ-flu-kô o lĭn mĭ-i.
fast-OPP2-V.STATE information-flow-place to link TOP-at
This computer is malfunctioning lately; for instance, its network connection is slow.

Contrast this clausal {žy-šar}, introducing a subordinate clause which is an example of what the main clause is talking about, with the postposition {žy-i}, which marks a simple noun phrase as an example of the sentence's topic.

gjâ-krĭ reŋ im tyn-van fĭ-θy nâ-cô-bô mĭ-i, g,z,b im {θ, ƥ, ř} žy-i.
language-create many part.of place-V.STATE syllable-element common-OPP2-ADJ TOP-at gzb part.of θ ʘ ɹ̣ point-at
Many conlangs have rare [among natlangs] phonemes, for instance gzb's /θ ʘ ɹ̣/.

Suffixes that leave the grammatical category of the stem unaltered

sra more, to a greater degree, most (with quality or process stems); more than (with number or unit of measure stems)
ĵar less, to a lesser degree, least (with quality or process stems); less than (with number or unit of measure stems)
źa augmentation of root meaning; (with units of measure) kilo-
θô diminution of root meaning; (with units of measure) milli-
ma indirect relationship; meta, recursive, self-referencing
ʝa rotate ~ 90 degrees vertical < — > horizontal; spilled (of liquids)
ra repeatedly; intermittently
lwa approximately, more or less, roughly ~
tôn generalized superset of ~
cjaj specialized subset of ~
θaj other member of asymmetrical relationship; complement of pair; complement action; opposite
opposite, reverse, contradictory quality
fja minimum nonzero degree or amount
ga metaphorical extension of stem's meaning
gôm metonymic extension of stem's meaning
la affectionate attitudinal suffix
ķa respected, honored, feared, worshipped attitudinal suffix
ba ambivalence attitudinal suffix
ħa disapproval, dislike, contempt attitudinal suffix
ŋa surprised, astonished, amazed attitudinal suffix

The use of the comparative suffixes {-sra} "more/most" and {-ĵar} "less/least" with quality and process stems is discussed in comparison section of the syntax document. Here I'll just note that when they apply to number or unit of measure stems, they mean more than or less than the amount specified by the stem:

tĭm-sra a set with more than a hundred members
tĭm-sra-bô more than a hundred
gĭ-sra-gla a time later than eleven o'clock
kî'grâ-ĵar a mass of less than a kilogram

The augmentative and diminutive suffixes {-źa} and {-θô} are fully productive and their meaning is transparent with quality stems and most process stems. With entity stems, and with some process stems, their use is idiomatic and nonproductive. For instance,

hum-bô deep
hum-źa-bô extremely deep
hum-θô-bô slightly deep
bly-zô to throw
bly-θô-zô to toss gently
bly-źa-zô to throw really hard/far, to hurl


tĭw comfy chair
tĭw-θô a not particularly comfortable chair
rě'ĵy wife
rě'ĵy-θô girlfriend
ŋě'mu lizard
ŋě'mu-źa dinosaur
ruŋ going, moving, coming
ruŋ-źa voyage, trip

With entity roots, the augmentative and diminutive suffixes don't necessarily mean "large" or "small" (the quality roots {ĝĭ} and {ny} can be compounded onto stems for those meanings), but take a salient aspect of the word's meaning and augment or diminish it. With unit of measure stems, they are metric multipliers kilo- and milli- respectively:

kî'grâ-źa megagram, metric ton
mě'tyr-θô millimeter

The "meta" suffix {-ma} is somewhat idiomatic; its use with kinship terms is regular and predictable, but in other areas it's less so. In general it refers to recursive or indirect patterns and relationships. It's often used as a lexical dissimilation method where otherwise a suffix (or suffixoid root) would be applied twice in a row, e.g. with a system of systems or an indirect causative:

twâ sentence, saying
twâ-cu work, text, book (system of sentences)
*twâ-cu-cu → twâ-cu-ma anthology, collection
prym appreciation of beauty, aesthetic enjoyment
prym-fwa beautiful
*prym-fwa-fwa → prym-fwa-ma causing to become beautiful, beautifying

Some other uses of {-ma}:

twâ-zô to say
twâ-ma-zô to imply, implicate, hint at
lju-zô to read
lju-ma-zô to read between the lines, to read for subtext
ŋy distance
ŋy-ma area
ruŋ motion
ruŋ-ma acceleration

The suffix {-ʝa} take a stem denoting a dimension or a physical object with a particular orientation, and derives a word for another dimension or object with orientation rotated 90 degrees around an axis perpendicular to the direction of gravity. That is, it takes words for horizontal things and derives words for similar vertical things, or vice versa.

hum-bô deep
hum-ʝa-bô long/wide
lân floor
lân-ʝa wall
swyŋ desk
swyŋ-ʝa set of shelves
su-van to be standing up
su-ʝa-van to be lying down
river, creek, etc.
sĭ-ʝa waterfall

The suffixes {-tôn} and {-cjaj} are idiomatic and not productive; using them involves a conscious decision to expand the lexicon. The design of gzb in this area is based on the idea that things that one talks about more often should have shorter names. For some semantic categories, the specifics are talked about more often; for others, the genera. For instance,

mâ-tônsentient being
râm cat
râm-tôn animal
grâm message
grâm-cjaj email
fĭm-cjajnot having an infection

If one lives with a cat, or has friends who do, one talks/thinks more about cats than about animals in general. On the other hand, one often talks about sending a message to someone; less often one has to specifically state that one sent an email. (This was the theory I was going by when I coined those words back in 1998. In practice, I find that in my journal I use {grâm-cjaj} more often than simple {grâm}, mostly because of the idiomatic sense its verb form has developed: {grâm-zô}, to send a message (probably an email) to someone; {grâm-cjaj-zô}, to read and perhaps reply to various emails.)

I suspect that idiomatic compounds such as these are easier to learn than completely separate, unrelated root words. I'm not sure if I can verify this suspicion without a properly controlled experiment, though.

The repetitive/intermittent suffix {-ra} is discussed and some examples given in the aspect section of the syntax document. It's normally used with process/action stems, of course, but it has at least one use with an entity stem:

twâ-cu-ma anthology, collection of short texts
twâ-cu-ma-ra periodical, magazine

The "approximately" suffix {-lwa} is mostly used with number stems; see the section on derivation from numbers for examples. It's also somewhat interchangeable with the diminutive suffix {-θô} with quality stems, e.g.:

hyrŋ-lwa-bô sort of blue
hyrŋ-θô-bô slightly blue

The fuzzy-logic clitic {fjǒ} has a similar meaning.

The opposite-derivation suffixes are {-θaj}, {-cô}, and {-fja}. {-θaj} derives words signifying the complement of a pair of which the stem denotes the other member; for instance, members of asymmetrical relationships, or complementary actions (where one action typically if not necessarily implies another):

nĭm-θajmeaning, referent
rĭm-θajbeing seen
twâlinterior angle
twâl-θajexterior angle

{-cô} derives opposites for quality-terms, and reversives of action or process stems.

hum-bô deep
hum-cô-bô high
fwĭ-zô to collect
fwĭ-cô-zô to distribute

{-fja} signifies a minimal degree of the quality denoted by the stem. It can also be used with entity stems, deriving modifiers meaning "having a small but nonzero amount of ~"; in this sense it's in contrast with {-ta}, {-ža}, and {-da}.

hum-fja shallow
hĭ-bô difficult
hĭ-fja easy
fu light
fu-ta pitch dark
fu-fja dim but not totally dark
fu-ža lit, lighted; not necessarily bright or shadowless
fu-da flooded with bright light

The metaphorical use suffix {-ga} is productive (you can use it to explicitly mark any metaphorical use of a word), but with certain words it has a conventional, defined meaning.


Similar to but distinct from {-ga} is the metonymic suffix {-gôm}:

ðurm-kô workplace
ðurm-kô-gôm job
lârm-zô to weep, cry
lârm-gôm mourning, lamentation, sorrow
tî'šâ-kô church (building)
tî'šâ-kô-gôm parish, congregation, (local) church

{-gôm} is also used to derive a word for an author's work (their sole or best-known work, or a contextually salient one) from their name.

herǒdǒtǒs-ram-gôm -i lju- jǒj de.
Herodotus-NAME-METONYM ATT-at read-V.ACT again HAB
I'm reading Herodotus [i.e. his Histories] again lately.

One kind of metonymy typical in natural languages also occurs in gzb, unmarked: using the same word (or zero-derivation) to refer to a plant as a whole or to its edible part, in agricultural and culinary contexts respectively:

šun i bâwŋ-van θĭl.
region DEM3 at grow-V.STATE potato
Potatoes grow there.
šun i θĭl ĥy-i --Ł- ƴyr-bô.
region DEM3 at potato PAT-at digestion-into-3.GEN-V.ACT custom-ADJ
People eat potatoes there.

The attitudinal suffixes typically mark the speaker's attitude toward the entity (or sometimes the process or quality) denoted by the stem. (In fiction with a closely-focused viewpoint, they may mark the viewpoint character's attitude, not necessarily the writer's.) They're most commonly used with proper names, especially the first time a person or other named entity is mentioned in a discourse, and fairly often with second and third-person pronouns (sometimes even with the first-person pronoun). They bind more weakly than other suffixes except the verb endings, so they would follow any other suffixes applied.

la affection, love, liking...
ķa respect, worship, awe
ŋa surprise, shock, consternation, awe
ba ambivalence; strong but mixed feelings
ħa dislike, disgust, disapproval, hatred

If a person is mentioned by their full name, there is a nuance to whether the attitudinal suffix is applied to their personal name or their family name. The latter suggests that the speaker feels a certain way toward their family as a whole; the former, that they feel thus toward this individual specifically. If a person is mentioned only by their family name, however, the application of an attitudinal suffix doesn't necessarily imply said attitude toward other family members who are not relevant to the discussion.

honorable leader

my dear wife

a dream both good and bad

scoundrel, rascal

a surprising story

The attitudinal suffixes are fairly commonly used with pronouns, especially in the third person:

tyn o ruŋ- ƥ-la.
place this to go-V.ACT 3-affectionate
The dear one is coming hither.
re-ħa i te-ŋa -i tru-zô.
there-contempt at 3.INAN-surprise ATT-at find-V.ACT
I found it (the surprising thing) there (in that horrible place).

They can also be used in verb and modifier stems:

ĵlân-ķa- ŋâw-o ce -i frâ-zô.
person wise-respectful-ADJ call-to that TOP-at ask-V.ACT
I asked a wise person about that.
₣âl-ŋa-van fu-ĉa.
sudden.change-surprise-V.STATE light-tool
The light unexpectedly changed.

Finally, the attitudinal suffixes can occur on their own as interjections:




Gah! Yuck!


The speaker's (or, in a story, the viewpoint character's) attitude toward a situation as a whole, rather than one of its elements, can be denoted more precisely by a sentence-scope attitudinal adverb derived from a mindstate stem with the suffix {-pôm}. See the discussion in the syntax document for examples.

Suffixes by the types of stem they can apply to

Here I'll just list the suffixes in each category, since I've already treated the use of each in some detail in the sections above. To avoid multiplying combinatorial categories indefinitely, I'm listing some suffixes in multiple categories.

These categories refer mostly to the types of stems for which suffixes form productive derivations; some may have improductive, idiomatic uses with stems in other categories.

Suffixes that apply to numbers

lwa approximately, more or less, roughly ~
name of glyph representing ~
gla time-period ordinal
ŋla day-of-week ordinal
pa Nth, ordinal; position in spatial or temporal series
saw as the Nth in a sequence of diverse actions

See the discussion on derivation of numbers below.

Suffixes that apply to family relationship terms

mla spouse of one's relative
tôl relative of one's spouse
ma indirect relationship; meta, recursive, self-referencing
tôn generalized superset of ~
θaj other member of asymmetrical relationship

See the section on kinship terms in the semantics document.

Suffixes that apply to concrete entity stems

ĵwa place full of ~
zwa would-be ~, person who desires and strives to be ~
žar becoming ~; coming to have quality ~, be a ~
ʝa rotate ~ 90 degrees vertical < — > horizontal
zla the whole set of ~ everywhere, or within a given context
daj a set of ~ of the same kind in the same place, a mass or collection of ~
ŝa fruitful, productive of ~, making ~, being a source of ~
partial to, seeking, desiring ~
zwa would-be ~, person who desires and strives to be ~
the set of terms which might be meaningfully applied to ~
gôm metonymic extension of stem's meaning
ja along ~, in the direction ~ is flowing/moving
pôm derive evidentiality, validationality, or attitudinal adverb from root

Suffixes that apply to abstract entity stems

pôm derive evidentiality, validationality, or attitudinal adverb from root
šar form conjunction from stem
name of glyph representing ~
ja accordance with ~, fitting or suitable
violation of ~
believer, adherent, follower of ~
the set of terms which might be meaningfully applied to ~
θaj other member of asymmetrical relationship
gôm metonymic extension of stem's meaning

Suffixes that apply to process stems

opposite, reversive action
θaj complement action
fja minimum nonzero degree or amount
ra repeatedly; intermittently
tla a professional concerned with ~, one who does ~ for a living
pja person who does ~ avocationally, not for money; amateur, hobbyist, volunteer
Φa thing or substance resulting from action
ha substance with which one does ~, which effects ~
kar substance to which one typically does ~
ĉa tool with which one does ~
place where one does ~
tending to do ~ often, much
ŝra likely to do or be ~ soon
źa augmentation of root meaning
θô diminution of root meaning

Suffixes that apply to quality stems

žar becoming ~; coming to have quality ~, be a ~
źa augmentation of root meaning
θô diminution of root meaning
ŝra likely to do or be ~ soon
ĵam the sort of thing to which ~ (or its opposite) might apply
opposite, reverse, contradictory quality
fja minimum nonzero degree or amount

Suffixes that can apply to pronouns

la affectionate attitudinal suffix
ķa respected, honored, feared, worshipped attitudinal suffix
ba ambivalence attitudinal suffix
ħa disapproval, dislike, contempt attitudinal suffix
ŋa surprised, astonished, amazed attitudinal suffix
za having to do with, associated with ~
pôm evidentiality adverb suffix
ƥ-la ĥy-i trâw- ƥ-ħa.
3-ATD1 PAT-at hit-V.ACT 3-ATD4
The previously mentioned person whom I don't like hit the previously mentioned person whom I like.

Here, the attitudinal affixes {-la} and {-ħa} disambiguate the compound pronouns, where simple {ƥ} would be ambiguous. This is an alternative to various other ways of disambiguating the referents: by using a full name or noun phrase instead of a pronoun for one of the referents, or by using other modifiers to make different compound pronouns, or by using pronouns with various modifier adjectives following them (depending on whatever attributes of the persons mentioned are most useful to distinguish them).

ƥ-pôm lju-gô ŋĭn-i twâ-cu .
3-EVD read-worthy CMT-at sentence-system DEM3
According to her, that book is worth reading.

{-pôm} following any personal pronoun, as when it follows any noun referring to a person, makes an adverb meaning "according to so-and-so", that is, the person who's the referent of the pronoun is the source of the information on which the rest of the sentence is based.

ť-ŋa kâ-i rĭm-van wlâ-.
2-ATD5 ATT-at see-V.STATE shock-ADJ
I am surprised to see you.

The {-ŋa} attitudinal suffix emphatically reinforces the surprise expressed more explicitly by the adverb {wlâ-bô}. You could delete either and the sentence would mean pretty much the same thing, but be less emphatic.

Ќ-za ĥy-i byn-ť- źǒ.
thing 1-pertaining PAT-at tinker-2-V.ACT IMP.NEG
Don't mess with my stuff.

Here, postpositive {Ќ-za} is something like informal syntactic sugar for a heavier genitive postpositional phrase like {Ќ wuŋ-i} or {Ќ ŝâj-i} that would precede the noun {gâ}.

Suffixes that can apply to modifier and quantifier clitics

θaj other member of asymmetrical relationship
opposite, reverse, contradictory quality
źa augmentation of root meaning
θô diminution of root meaning

These apply to quantifier clitics, but their use with them is rare:

gla time-period ordinal
pa Nth, ordinal

For instance:

ķe too much
ķe-cô too little, not enough
jǒm most of, a majority of
jǒm-θaj less than half of, a minority of
jǒm-źa a large, overwhelming majority of
jǒm-θô a bare majority of, just over half
reŋ many
reŋ-pa many-th, i.e. a later member of a long series

The attitudinal suffixes can apply to many quantifier and qualifier clitics:

mwĭl-van ķe-ŋa.
sleep-V.STATE too.much-ATD5
Whoa, I've overslept!
ĝyl-van le-ba gâm-ʝĭl-kwĭ .
abort-V.STATE probably-ATD3 picture-motion-series DEM3
That TV show will probably be canceled, a fact about which I'm ambivalent.

And to interjections:

hwǒ-ħa expression of annoyed consternation
jej-ŋa expression of surprised delight

Clitic that can apply to verbs

tǒj general nominalizer

Root words are nouns to begin with; the roots of most verbs are nouns referring to a process or action in the abstract. To get the nominalization of, for instance, {ruŋ-zô} "to come/go", just remove the {-zô} verb suffix to get {ruŋ} "motion, coming, going". However, when a verb suffix is added to a noun which in its basic meaning refers to something other than a process or action, you can add the nominalizer clitic {tǒj} to the derived verb to get a noun meaning something different than the root noun. For instance:

twâ sentence
twâ-zô to say
twâ-zô-tǒj act of saying something
Φĭrn sweat (substance)
Φĭrn-van to sweat
Φĭrn-van-tǒj process of sweating

Suffixes that can apply to reflexive/reciprocal verbs

ĉa tool with which one does ~
place where one does ~

See the earlier discussions of {rĭm-ca-ĉa} and {šyj-ca-kô}.

Suffixes that apply to any noun or modifier stem

ga metaphorical extension of stem's meaning
la affectionate attitudinal suffix
ķa respected, honored, feared, worshipped attitudinal suffix
ba ambivalence attitudinal suffix
ħa disapproval, dislike, contempt attitudinal suffix
ŋa surprised, astonished, amazed attitudinal suffix

Incorporation of pronouns, determiners, and postpositions into compound words

Incorporation of pronouns into verbs is treated in the syntax document. Pronouns can also be incorporated into compound nouns and modifiers, however: in the simplest case, suffixing a pronoun to a noun stem, they mark a general, vague kind of genitive, hypernymic to the various highly specific genitive case tags — for instance,

maŋ-Ќ Ќ im maŋ my hand
fru-ť ť lĭw-i fru your child
rî'mâ-ƥ ƥ wuŋ-i rî'mâ his/her house

They can also be incorporated into modifiers, most often with {-ja} "according to" and {-dô} "violation of":

vy-ť-ja according to your will
sru-Ќ-dô contrary to my desires
ĵrĭw-Ł-ja according to one's expectations, just as one would expect
ĵrĭw-Ł-dô violating one's expectations

Certain determiners and other modifier particles can also be incorporated into compound words; for instance:

ʝǒ other
ty-ʝǒ-žar moving, changing one's residence
gjâ-ʝǒ-žar translation
mâ-ʝǒ-ta without other people = alone, isolated
ĉĭ-kǒ-bô of this kind
Φĭ-pǒ-bô having that quality
jâ-nǒ-bô in what state?
jĭrn-nǒ-bô how much?
?râ-nǒ-van. what's going on?
gâ-kwǒ-da full of random stuff
źyl-θje-fwa causing to become almost straight
zuň-ƴeŋ-fwa causing to become barely alive
grĭ-pen-ža having every possible feature

The conjunctions {ke} and {pe} can sometimes incorporate into compound nouns. The conjunctions {se}, {ðe} and {me} incorporate only into number-words.


Root words for numbers are nouns; {fy} refers to the mathematical object "seven", the set of all sets with seven members. By extension, it can refer to any specific set with seven members; so {ĉu} for instance could mean "the number two" or "a pair/duet/duo" depending on context. Number-modifiers, used to express how many of something there are, are formed with the adjectival suffix {-bô}; number-verbs can be formed with the stative verb suffix {-van}. There are four different ordinal suffixes, discussed further on.

Originally, I had root words only for some prime numbers (all of those up to 113 and a few larger ones for recent and future Gregorian years, e.g. 1973 and 1999) and other interesting constants (e.g. 0, 1, pi); all composites were expressed by compound words or phrases. After about four years, finding that this system was fun but not very practical, I added root words for powers of 10 and of 16. There are multiple ways to express other composite numbers — with math conjunctions, or simply by compounding the core number morphemes together. If number-morphemes are compounded in lesser to greater order, they multiply. If in greater to lesser order, they add.

0; zero
1; one
ĉu2; two
3; three
ĉu-ĉu4; four
ðy5; five
ĉu-dâ6; six
fy7; seven
ĉu-ĉu-ĉu8 = 2*2*2
ðy-dâ8 = 5 + 3
gĭ-se-dâ8 = 11 - 3
fy-cĭ8 = 7 + 1
dâ-dâ9; nine
gâr10; ten

Base-ten numeration:

gâr-ĉu10 + 2 = 12
ĉu-gâr2 * 10 = 20
11; eleven
ĝu13; thirteen
ĝyŋ16; sixteen
17; seventeen

Powers of 10:


Powers of 16:

vâl256 (162)
ĝyŋ-vâl4,096 (163)
zĭw65,536 (164)
źyjm 4,294,967,296 (168)

Hexadecimal numbers:

ĝyŋ-ðy15h = 21d
dâ-ĝyŋ30h = 48d

0xFFFF = dâ-ðy-ĝyŋ-vâl-dâ-ðy-vâl-dâ-ðy-ĝyŋ-dâ-ðy

Words for non-integral constants:

cě'kualeph-null, countable infinity
źî'kualeph-one, first uncountable infinity
cî'tui, square root of -1
dî'kupi (3.14159265...)

Derivation from numbers

In compounds of numbers with non-number substantive roots, the number can be the head or the modifier, depending on emphasis; in general the number coming first as the head indicates a stronger connection between the entities referred to by the modifier; and either kind of compound indicates a stronger connection than if the root noun were followed by a separate number-modfier. E.g., contrast:

fy-ĉě'θâ a week (from Sunday to Saturday)
ĉě'θâ-fy seven days, 168 hours (from any point in time to 168 hours later)
ĉě'θâ fy-bô seven days (perhaps not all in a row)

The first example could be glossed as "a septet consisting of days"; the second, "day/days characterized by seven-ness".

Numbers modifying pronouns always compound with them, and follow the pronoun-head:

ť-ĉu you two
ƥ-dâ they three

Fractions are formed with the conjunction {ðe} (divided by). If the initial number is omitted, {cĭ} (one) is assumed.

fy-ðe-hâseven seventeenths
ðe-bâan indeterminate quantity (division by zero)

Before {se} (minus), the default number is {bâ} (zero).
Before {me} (raised to the power of) the default number is {ĉu} (two).

se-fy -7
me-ðy 25 (= 32)

Precedence of the math conjunctions within compounded number-words is about what you'd expect; concatenation (which can mean either multiplication or addition depending on the relative magnitude of the number-roots concatenated, remember) has the highest precedence, followed by:

me exponentiation
ðe division
ke multiplication
se subtraction
pe addition

I.e., a construction such as {se-ĉu-me-gâr} means "minus (two to the tenth power)" = -1024, not "(minus two) to the tenth power" = 1024.

Numbers can form quantifying adjectives or stative verbs with the basic adjectival suffix {-bô} or the verb suffix {-van}:

byn-pja ðy-bô o grâm-zô.
hack-amateur five-ADJ to message-V.ACT
I sent a message to the five hackers.

Ќ mĭ-i cĭ-van žǒŋ.
1 TOP-at one-V.STATE merely
There's only one of me.

{-bô} number-adjectives used after verbs signify "to do said action N times". The same is more or less true of quantifier clitics, though they tend to be more ambiguous (e.g., {reŋ} can signify "many" or "much" depending on the kind of noun it applies to, so with verbs it's ambiguous between "do several times" and "do for a long time").

Ќ ĥy-i ƴum-Ł- - še, mǒj ĉu- źǒ.
1 PAT-at defraud-3.GEN-V.ACT one-ADJ maybe but two-ADJ IMP.NEG
One might fool me once, but not twice.
gâm-ʝĭl-ba -i -rĭm- cě'ku- tǒlm.
picture-motion-ATD3 ATT-at attention-seeing-V.ACT aleph.null-ADJ HYPERBOLE
I've seen that movie an infinite number of times.
(See the secion of the syntax document on the use of {tǒlm}.)

Basic ordinals are derived with {-pa}.



twâ-cu-kwĭ im twâ-cu -pa
sentence-system-sequence DEM1 part.of sentence-system one-ORD
zen -i lju- gwe.
only ATT-at read-V.ACT already
I've only read the first book of this series.

{-pa} after a verb signifies "to do said action for the Nth time" (ever, or more likely within a salient time-context such as a day). In this context it contrasts with the ordinal suffix {-saw}, "as the Nth in a series of heterogeneous but perhaps related actions". E.g.,

ty o ruŋ ši, mrân- -pa.
home to going after eat-V.ACT three-ORD
After going home, I ate for the third time [that day].
ty o ruŋ ši, mrân- -saw.
home to going after eat-V.ACT one-ORD2
After going home, I ate first [= the first thing I did was eat].
twâ-cu ĥy-i kě'ĝu-zô cĭ-saw.
sentence-system PAT-at hide-V.ACT one-ORD
I hid the book first.

{-saw} ordinals are not used to modify nouns, as far as I know.

Time-period ordinals are formed with {-gla}. What time-period such a word refers to depends on context.

!hâ-gla i Ќ o ruŋ-zô mwe ť tu-i.
seventeen-ORD.T at 1 to go-V.ACT IMP 2 AGT-at
Please come at seventeen (= 5pm); or, Please come on the seventeenth (of this month)

Dates are written as "year{-gla} month{-gla} day-of-month{-gla}". E.g.

źî'fu-gla ðy-gla ju-gla
1999 May 29

That day at 7:37 AM:

źî'fu-gla ðy-gla ju-gla fy-gla ky-gla
1999 May 29 7: 37

In most contexts, a {-gla} ordinal by itself, or two {-gla} ordinals, refers to an hour or hour and minute. To disambiguate (if the context and the scale of the numbers involved isn't sufficient) one can begin the sequence with {měn'θu} "month" or {hyr} "hour".

fy-gla ĝu-gla
seven-ORD.T thirteen-ORD.T
7:13 am or July 13
měn'θu fy-gla ĝu-gla
month seven-ORD.T thirteen-ORD.T
July 13
hyr fy-gla ĝu-gla
hour seven-ORD.T thirteen-ORD.T
7:13 am

{-gla} ordinals with negative numbers usually occur as the second of a pair of hour-minute ordinals, indicating N minutes before the hour:

-gla se-gâr-gla i
eleven-ORD.T minus-ten-ORD.T at
ten minutes till eleven, i.e. 10:50 a.m.

In theory such negative time-ordinals could be used elsewhere in date expressions, e.g., to indicate the Nth day before the beginning of the next month, or the Nth month before the beginning of the next year, but in practice I've never used such.

Names of days of the week can be formed with {-ŋla}. That suffix doesn't apply only to numbers, though.

tî'šâ-ŋlaSunday (worship-day)
cĭ-ŋlafirst-day; another term for Sunday
dâ-ŋlaTuesday (third-day)
vjurm-ŋlaSaturday (visiting-day)

Relative time is expressed with {-pa} ordinals, including negative ordinals.

hyr dâ-pathree hours hence (the third hour from now)
ĉě'θâ se-ĉu-patwo days ago (the minus-two'th day from now)

Time-ordinals formed with {-gla} or {-ŋla} can be used as modifiers of event-nouns, meaning "the [event] that happens at [number] o'clock" or "on the [number]th day of the month", etc., by context.

ĥun ĝu-gla o ðu-ƥ-van heŋ ruŋ-zô.
meeting thirteen-ORD.T to able-3-V.STATE not go-V.ACT
She won't be able to come to the one p.m. meeting.

When a single {-gla} or {-ŋla} stem is involved, one can say what day or time it is by appending the stative verb suffix {-van} to the time word:

It's eleven o'clock. or perhaps It's November, or the eleventh of the month.

tě'θru-ga-van pân; ʝǒn ĉu-ŋla-van.
falling-METAPH-V.STATE everything therefore.inference two-ORD.D-V.STATE
Everything is going wrong; it must be Monday.

The default subject rule is not violated here. The implied subject of the first example above is the first-person pronoun {Ќ}; literally "I (am at) eleven o'clock", — I along with everything else around me. In the second, the "everything" referred to in the first clause with {pân} is the subject of the second verb {ĉu-ŋla-van}, and again the semantics make sense. There are some contexts where the default subject is some timeless entity and, changing the subject to say what time it is, you would need to explicitly supply a subject — any noun or pronoun referring to something that is currently existing would do, but I suppose I would usually use {Ќ} "I".

prym-źa-fwa-van ŋî'bĭ ~~~ hwǒ,
aesthetic.pleasure-AUG-CAUS-V.STATE number this ... whoa
fy-gla-Ќ-van gwe. su -o mwe.
seven-ORD.T-1-V.STATE already standing state-to IMP
[lying awake and thinking about number theory] This sure is a beautiful number... whoa, it's seven already, I have to get up.

When a more complex time expression is used, one must put the time into a postpositional phrase with {i} and use the verb {nu-van}:

-gla -gla i nu-van.
eleven-ORD.T seventeen-ORD.T at moment-V.STATE

The semantics of default or explicit subjects with {nu-van} is the same as with {-gla-van} or {-ŋla-van} verbs.

The suffix {-lwa} means "approximately" and is used primarily with number words, often with one of the other suffixes appropriate to numbers.

ĝu-lwa-gla i vâ-oŋ-zô de Ќ-ƥ.
thirteen-approximate-ORD.T at digestion-into-V.ACT 1-3
We're eating [lunch] at about 1:00 pm these days.
mluj fĭw-câŋ om ruŋ-zô
small.convention to-part.of go-V.ACT
dâ-tĭm-lwa-bô tu-i.
person three-hundred-approximate-ADJ AGT-at
About 300 people came to the science fiction convention.

At least the suffixes {-bô}, {-gla}, and {-lwa} can occur with fractional numbers; I'm not sure if {-pa} or {-saw} would ever make sense in such a context.
fy-pe-ðe-ĉu-bô seven and a half
fy-pe-ðe-ĉu-gla seven thirty a.m.
fy-pe-ðe-ĉu-lwa approximately seven and a half
fy-pe-ðe-ĉu-gla approximately seven thirty a.m.

At least two of the proper name suffixes can be applied to numbers. {-wam}, the place-name suffix, is used to designate highway numbers, e.g.,

pě'hĭ-źa ðy-hâ-wam ol fyn-zô.
road-AUG five-seventeen-NAME.PLACE through drive-V.ACT
I was driving along Interstate 85.

{-gam}, the miscellaneous name suffix, is used with room numbers and the like.

du ĉu-tĭm-cĭ-gam i râ-van ĥun.
room two-hundred-one-NAME.GENERAL at happen-V.STATE meeting
The meeting will occur in room 201.


When counting discrete things, not in a strongly linear order, one says {cĭ ~~~ ĉu ~~~ dâ ~~~ ĉu-ĉu ~~~} and so forth, using bare number words; or perhaps, if counting by threes for instance, {dâ ~~~ ĉu-dâ ~~~ dâ-dâ ~~~) etc. If one is counting a series of similar actions or events, e.g., while lifting weights or some such iterated exercise, one uses ordinal numbers: {cĭ-pa ~~~ ĉu-pa ~~~ dâ-pa ~~~ ĉu-ĉu-pa ~~~}. I reckon that in counting heterogeneous actions or events, one would use {-saw} ordinals, but I don't think this has actually come up in practice. Counting discrete items in a linear sequence (e.g., sitting in one's car at a railroad crossing and counting the cars of the passing train), one could use either cardinal or ordinal numbers.

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