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LotM - Nov 18: Ov
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It's November and Orikrin's BHO is our language of the month! It's got loads of fun all across the board, with complex allophony, verb morphology, and relative clause syntax. Curl up with a comfy sweater and a pumpkin spice latte and read all about it.
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 25 Nov 2019, 13:25.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. Phonology and orthography 2. Morphology 3. Syntax 4. More on Ov 5. A Note on Ov It's November and Orikrin's  Ov is our language of the month! It's got loads of fun all across the board, with complex allophony, verb morphology, and relative clause syntax. Curl up with a comfy sweater and a pumpkin spice latte and read all about it.

[top]Phonology and orthography

Ov's consonant inventory is fairly simple. Three places of articulation (labial, alveolar, velar) have voiced and voiceless stops and matching nasals. Labiodental fricatives come in voiced and voiceless counterparts, but four other places of articulation (dental non-sibilant, alveolar sibilant, alveolo-palatal sibilant, and velar) have single unvoiced fricatives. The alveolo-palatal sibilant also has an affricate counterpart, which is unvoiced too. Finally, rounding out the inventory are three liquids, an alveolar trill (in free variation with a flap), an alveolar lateral, and a dental velarized lateral.

Where Ov's phonology gets into high gear is not in the consonant inventory, but in the allophony. Also the vowels. But let's tour the allophony first. The velar fricative /x/ becomes fronted to [ç] adjacent to a front vowel or /p/. In a neat example of feeding, this can cause an adjacent /n/ to be realized as a palatal [ɲ]. As another example, the dental fricative can become an alveolar lateral fricative when adjacent to a sibilant, after /k/, or before /l/. This feeds another sound change where the lateral fricative becomes an affricate when adjacent to /s/. Some of the vowels participate in allophony too; the short high vowels /ɪ u/ become glides [j w] adjacent to another vowel. Finally, rounding out our allophony rules, we have lenition of /d/ to [ð] before r and lenition of /g/ to [ɣ] when not in a consonant cluster (or when preceding /r/).

Ov has 8 core vowel qualities, /i y u e ɤ o æ ɑ/, of which all but /ɤ/ may be either short or long. While the short and long forms of the open vowels have the same quality, the short forms of /i y e o/ are lax [ɪ ʏ e̞ o̞]. Only /i: e: o:/ are marked in writing, where they receive an acute accent in the romanization and have separate base characters in the script. The vowels are subject to reduction rules, where they become lowered and/or centralized when unstressed.

In addition to its romanization, Ov has a lovely alphabetic script. The script is on CWS, so you can see a complete table on the  Ov language page.


Ov's inflectional morphology is very rich—too rich to be completely covered in one article. Nouns both decline for case and number, with three distinct paradigms based on the final stem consonant (plosive, fricative, or none). Number includes not just singular and plural, but also indefinite and total. There are many cases, but the core cases are a tripartite distinction between ergative, nominative, and absolutive, with ergative being marked by a suffix and absolutive having a stem vowel change from the nominative citation form. The same stem vowel change is also used to mark specific numbers of nouns above 3. Other cases include genitive, benefactive, instrumental, inessive, and locative.

Similar to nouns, adjectives are also sorted into 3 different paradigms based on the base consonant. Adjectives mark for singular and plural, oblique case, and a wide variety of degrees, from moderative to eminentive.

Verbs agree with the person of the subject of a transitive verb, and also mark TAM, including past, present, and future and subjunctive, imperative, and indicative moods. The tense marking of the verb takes one of the stem vowels, instead of having an inherent vowel of its own; which vowel is determined by the choice of future or non-future tense. Verbs also have a complex and intricate voice system, where the passive marking interacts with the TAM and agreement suffixes. There is a causative as well, but it is formed with a prefix.


Ov syntax is strongly VSO; even subordinate verbs go in front of the subject and object. This results in some very impressive serial verb constructions, such as « vys oi płä kgi iöps, krohst eis sois neízyk ëka kgi iöps » "if there is a search for it, then I have something I can believe in", where the verbs eis sois neízyk have-SBJVSubjunctive mood (mood)
desired or possible events
.1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
can-SBJVSubjunctive mood (mood)
desired or possible events
believe-SBJVSubjunctive mood (mood)
desired or possible events
are stacked in front of the second clause. Unusually for a VSO language, it also uses postpositions. As in the example sentence, adverbial subordinators such as krohst "because" precede the clause that they modify.

While there is much more to cover in the realm of Ov syntax, relative clauses deserve a special mention. There are two main strategies for Ov relativization. The first uses a relative pronoun and puts the verb of the relative clause in the subjunctive following the noun. The second, and more common, puts the verb of the relative clause first, in the future tense, which is then followed by the head noun in the ergative case. As an example, the phrase yler ong eivnant anf foot.NOMNominative (case)
TRANS subject, INTR argument
-PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
RELRelative land-SBJVSubjunctive mood (mood)
desired or possible events
uses the first strategy, and evnantan anf ylyn land-FUTFuture (tense)
action occurring after the moment of speech
foot-ERGErgative (case)
TRANS subject; agent
.PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
uses the second. (The two phrases both mean "feet that land.")

[top]More on Ov

That wraps up our tour of Ov! There's loads more to read, so check out Ov's LexiBuild sets, grammar tables, translations, and many, many articles!

[top]A Note on Ov

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Ov that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (protondonor) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!
Edit history
on 25/11/19 13:250[Deactivated User]moved to proper folder
on 03/11/18 04:520[Deactivated User]remove <lang> tag from summary
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