Lesson 5 — The human body. Part/whole postpositions. Reflexive verbs.

I see myself.

šyj-ca râm.
The cat washes herself.

tâlm ĥy-i ĉârn-ca dejv-ram.
Dave scratched his head.

The verb ending {-ca} is used for actions when the same entity is the actor and the one acted upon, or the experiencer and the object of attention. If a sentence where the main verb has a {-ca} ending also has an overt patient phrase, as in the third sentence above, it shows a specific body part that the actor is focusing their reflexive act upon. The same applies to other kinds of object besides {ĥy-i} patients:

ŝĭn kâ-i ku-ca.
I hear my circulatory system [particularly the blood vessels in my ears].

The postposition suffix {-m} means the thing modified by the postpositional phrase is part of the object of the postposition:

elis-ram im tyn-van rĭm-ŋĭw prym-fwa.
Elise has pretty eyes. [lit. Pretty eyes are part of Elise.]

ħulŋ-van Ќ cim mâŋ mĭ-i.
My left hand is injured.

Note the derivation of {rĭm-ŋĭw} "eye(s)" from {rĭm} "seeing." {ŋĭw} can be a stand-alone word meaning "body part" or "faculty" (it doesn't always refer to something physical), but it's commonly used as a suffix to build words for body parts described according to their function. Some body parts have root words of their own, like {mâŋ} "hand."

{-m} is usually used with {i} and sometimes an orientation prefix (as in {cim} above, "in the left part of"). It can be used with {ř} or {o}, however; {řm} "ceasing to be part of, getting cut/broken off from" or {om} "becoming part of, joining onto".

dejv-ram ĵřm šâ-ŋĭw ĥy-i vâ-oŋ-zô Φĭlm-ĝĭ.
A giant butterfly ate Dave's right arm and hand.

ƥ ĵom ŋĭw bâm-bô ĥy-i tyn-zô fĭm-hôw-tla.
A doctor gave him a new one.

The postposition {pě'ŝlĭ-i} marks an object of a verb of feeling — usually a body part, sometimes an intangible faculty such as the imagination or conscience.

tâlm pě'ŝlĭ-i jyn-cô-van.
My head hurts. / I have a headache.

šâ-ŋĭw bâm-bô pě'ŝlĭ-i čun-van dejv-ram.
Dave's new right arm and hand are itching.

Here are a few more sentences illustrating more body-part words.

šâ-ŋĭw vim tyn-van mâŋ.
The hand is in front of the arm-and-hand.

mâŋ vim tyn-van zjam.
Fingers/toes are in the front part of the hand.

ƴâ-ŋĭw θim tyn-van plâŋ.
The foot is the bottom part of the leg-and-foot.

plâŋ vim mew tyn-van zjam.
Fingers/toes are in the front part of the foot, too.

{zjâm} primarily means the fingers and toes; it can be used to derive words for some other similarly-shaped body parts of humans and other living things, for which see the list of body parts in the lexicon.


ŋĭw body part, faculty
rĭm seeing
rĭm-ŋĭw eyes
rĭm-van to see
rĭm-ca to see oneself
ku hearing
ku-van to hear
ku-ŋĭw ears
źum to touch, feel
źum-ŋĭw skin
jyn physical pleasure
jyn-cô pain
jyn-cô-van to hurt, to ache
ƴâ walking, running; moving with frequent adjustment of direction
šâ carrying, holding, grasping
ƴâ-ŋĭw legs & feet
šâ-ŋĭw arms & hands
ly-ŋĭw wing (of a bird, insect, etc.)
ĝĭw trunk, torso
zjâm fingers & toes
mâŋ hand
plâŋ foot
tâlm head
ʝym hair, feather, scale, leaf
ʝym-daj a person's head of hair, a tree's foliage, etc.
šĭm-ŋĭw brain
ŝĭn heart and circulatory system
syl mouth
fĭm-hôw-tla doctor, physician
ĥâ cutting, chopping, breaking
ĥâ-zô to cut, chop, break
ĥâ-ŋĭw tooth, teeth
ħulŋ harm, damage, injury
ħulŋ-van to be injured, to have an injury
ħulŋ-zô to damage, to cause injury
čun itching
čun-van to itch
bâm newness
bâm-bô new
šyj cleanness
šyj-bô clean
šyj-van to be clean
šyj-zô to wash, to clean (something/someone else)
šyj-ca to bathe, to wash/clean oneself (or part of one's body)
ĉârn scratching, scraping, rubbing, scrubbing
ĝĭ big
ny small
mew too, even, also
ƥ third-person animate pronoun: he, she, it (people or animals)
-m part of


Translate into English:

  1. ny ŋĭn-i num.
  2. Ќ cim plâŋ pě'ŝlĭ-i čun-van.
  3. ħulŋ-van Φĭlm hyrŋ-bô ĵim ly-ŋĭw.
  4. syl im tyn-van ĥâ-ŋĭw.
  5. mâŋ ĥy-i šyj-ƥ-ca.
  6. tĭw ĥy-i ĉaŕn-zô râm.

Translate into gjâ-zym-byn:

  1. She has small hands.
  2. The big toe of my right foot itches.
  3. Don brushed (i.e. washed) his teeth.
  4. The wren's left wing hurts.
  5. What big eyes you have!
  6. The oak's leaves are turning red.

Onward to Lesson 6...

Main {gjâ-zym-byn} index
Syntax and inflectional morphology
Derivational morphology
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Last updated December 2015.