Lesson 2 — Talking about location and motion.

ruŋ-zô dejv-ram.
Dave is coming / going / is on his way.

kâj-kô o ruŋ-zô.
I went to the store.

vlĭw iŋ tyn-van num.
The wren is in the nest.

kwě'kyr sin tyn-van vlĭw.
The nest is on top of the oak tree.

vlĭw ř ly-zô num.
The wren flies away from the nest.

{ruŋ-zô} is the most common motion verb; {ruŋ} by itself means "motion, coming, going." gzb doesn't have separate words for "to go" and "to come", but just uses {ruŋ-zô} with different directional words to show where someone is going or coming from. {tyn-van} is a verb meaning "be at a place;" {tyn} by itself just means a place or location.

In the above examples you saw several words describing where something is, where it's going to or coming from: {o} "to", {iŋ} "in", {sin} "on", {ř} "from." gzb has more than 300 words describing the position or motion of something like English "at, to, from, into...". But you don't have to memorize them all. They're put together systematically from consonants and vowels that specify the orientation, direction, and proximity of a spatial relation.

If a word contains one of the vowels {i, o, ř} you know it's a location or direction postposition, and you know in general whether something is stationary or moving.

i at, near, in
o to, toward
ř away from, out of

Consonants coming before or after one of these vowels makes it more specific. {-ŋ} following shows the inside of a place, {-n} its outer surface, and {-j} being near something but not touching it.

in outside
on to the outside of
řŋ from inside of
řn from outside of
ij near
oj toward (but not yet all the way to)
řj from near somewhere

Obviously some of these are rarely useful, but they are available if you need this precision.

A consonant preceding one of these core postpositions shows orientation about a place. {sin} means "on", and {son} means "onto"; generally {s-} before a place or motion vowel indicates the top or upper part of something. Try to generalize from these other examples:

swyŋ θi mwĭl-van râm.
The cat is sleeping under the table.

kâj-kô vij žâ-van.
I'm waiting in front of the store.

A full list of the spatial relation consonants is in the syntax document. I'll introduce more of them in other lessons.


swyŋ table, desk, countertop; any piece of furniture you pile your stuff on
vlĭw bird's nest, beehive, anthill, beaver dam, house built by the people who live in it
rî'mâ house, building (not necessarily built by its current residents)
kwě'kyr oak tree
tyn place
tyn-van to be at/in/near a place
ruŋ motion, going, coming
ruŋ-zô to go, come
kâj buying, selling
-kô suffix indicating a place where one does things
kâj-kô store, market, place where one sells/buys things
žâ waiting
žâ-van to wait

Building blocks of of postpositions:

s- above, on top
θ- below, under, on the bottom of
v- front of
i at, near, inside
o to, toward
ř away from, out of
-n in contact with
-j near


Translate into English:

  1. swyŋ son ly-zô num.
  2. kâj-kô řŋ ruŋ-zô âna-ram.
  3. kwě'kyr sin tyn-van râm.

Translate into gjâ-zym-byn:

  1. There is a cat in front of me.
  2. Pablo is leaning against the oak tree.
  3. The wren is flying around inside the house.

Onward to Lesson 3...

Main {gjâ-zym-byn} index
Syntax and inflectional morphology
Derivational morphology
My conlang page
My home page

Last updated March 2014.