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Grammar of Adzamian
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Overview of the syntax, morphology and sounds of Adzamasi.
This public article was written by severy, and last updated on 19 Mar 2021, 16:54.

[comments] Menu 1. Introduction 2. Phonetics & Phonology 3. Pronouns 4. Syntax: Word order & little-v 5. Syntax: Subordinate and relative clauses 6. Verbal Morphology 7. Nominal morphology 8. Modifiers
?FYI...
This article is a work in progress! Check back later in case any changes have occurred.


[top]Introduction

((This article was out of date in its terminology; the language it describes is now known as  Old Adzamian. It originally described "Adzamasi," which is now one of its modern daughters. However, there may be places where the name "Adzamasi" is still erroneously used. Kilimbadi and Tabiqan were dialects of the original language, which will probably be repurposed as daughter languages, but haven't been renamed yet.))

Adzamian was spoken from around -100 to +700. It is a polysynthetic agglutinative language spoken by the Adzmasiin, a nomadic desert people turned massive empire, and spread across much of north Baredina. It features ejective consonants, vowel harmony, argument incorporation, and is a direct-inverse animacy-hierarchical language.

It has many extant daughter families.

[top]Phonetics & Phonology

consonant phonemes
labialdentalalveolar~palatalvelaruvularglottal
nasalmn
stoptckq
ejectivettcckkqqʔ
voicedbdj /ɟ/g
fricativev /f/þ /θ/sz /ʃ/xr /χ/h
liquidly /j/w

Fricatives /f θ s ʃ x χ/ voice [v ð z ʒ ɣ ʁ] between two voiced sounds.
/b/ becomes [p] word-finally.
/g/ and /ʔ/ are only present in Kilimbadi (/ʔ/ takes the place of /q'/).

monophthongs
frontcentralback
highiüu
mideöo
lowa

Vowel harmony occurs in Adzamian. "Extreme" vowels (i, u, e and o) will centralize (to ü and ö) following vowels of the opposite extreme. Prefixes harmonize to their root, however. /ɐ ɑ:/ serve as boundary vowels and harmony does not spread across them. e.g. *vistic [fɪstɪc] 'falcon' → il-vistic-su [ɪlvɪstɪcsʏ] 'the falcons' ; *ooslet /o:slɛt/ [o:slœt] 'reptile' → il-ooslet-su [ʏlooslœtsu] 'the reptiles' ; *dotdaza /dʌtdɐʃɐ/ 'giraffe' → il-dotdaza-su [ʏldʌtdaʒasu] 'the giraffes.'

diphthongs
There are only four permitted diphthongs: /ei/, /ao/, /ae/, and /ea/. Otherwise, hiatus is not permitted, and is resolved by the first vowel assimilating to the second (/ia/ --> [aa]).

Phonotactics
Syllable structure is (C)V(:/C)(C). Complex onsets are not permitted, but complex codas are. Long vowels tend to be in open syllables, and never with a complex coda.

Stress is regular; it is initial, and repeats, but superheavy syllables (3 morae) are also footed:

    2 sylls. tá.ta
    3 sylls. tá.ta.tà
    4 sylls. tá.ta.tà.ta etc
    heavy sylls. ta.tán.ta.tàn
    superheavy sylls. ta.táns.ta.tàns ; ta.tàn.ta.táns


[top]Pronouns

With all variations of gender, register, case, and person, there are over 70 pronouns in Adzamian. For a detailed article, check here.

[top]Syntax: Word order & little-v

Word order is very rigid and predictable in Adzamian, as it always follows from the most to least animate arguments, with the verb in the final position. Adzamian's animacy hierarchy is:

  • 1st person
  • 2nd person
  • 3rd person
  • 4th person
  • other referentials (proper names)
  • people
  • gods
  • animals
  • plants
  • ideas & fluids
  • tools
  • inanimates


Within each category, plural, agentive and definite nouns tend to have higher weight than singulars, patients and indefinites.

In order for a less-animate entity to have the active role, an inverse suffix is added to the verb. The basic suffix is -see or -sei.

    Ato na leen-tak
    [ɐtʌ nɐ le:ntɐk]
    1SGUnknown code 3SGUnknown code.FFeminine gender (gender)
    feminine or female
    MBUnknown code-hit

    'I hit her'

    Ato na leen-tak-see
    [ɐtʌ nɐ le:ntɐkse:]
    1SGUnknown code 3SGUnknown code.FFeminine gender (gender)
    feminine or female
    MBUnknown code-hit-RDRUnknown code

    'She hit me'


The suffix -kku indicates that a third entity is more active than the second.

    Ato il-tanan il-bolo hi-ah-morsku-kku
    [ɐtʌ ɪltɐnɐn ʏlbʌlʌ hɑ:hmʌrskʊk'ʊ]
    1SGUnknown code the-child the-dog PROXProximal (proximity)
    close to speaker
    -VSLVisual evidential (evidential)
    'I see that...'
    -bite-RDRUnknown code

    'I saw the dog bite the child'


There is also a subordinate clause inverse marker, -saa, which is used when an agent in a subordinate clause acts upon an argument in the dominant clause.

    Il-bibwil-sat hi-þeqüün saan il-mako-sat hi-morsku-saa
    [ɪlbɪbwɪlsɐt hɪθɛqy:n sɑ:n ɪlmɐkʌsɐt hʏmʌrskʊsɑ:]
    DEFDefinite
    "the"
    -bird-ANAnimate (gender/class)
    alive, moving
    .SGSingular (number)
    one countable entity
    PROXProximal (proximity)
    close to speaker
    -die that DEFDefinite
    "the"
    -cat-ANAnimate (gender/class)
    alive, moving
    .SGSingular (number)
    one countable entity
    PROXProximal (proximity)
    close to speaker
    -catch-SBRCSubordinate clause (syntax)
    marks a subordinate clause
    .INVInverse marker (valency)
    AKA action redirector

    'The bird that the cat caught died.'


There is also a true passive, -deh, which can co-occur with a redirectional.

    Ato leen-tak-deh
    [ɐtʌ le:ntɐkdɛh]
    1SFirst person singular (person)
    speaker, signer, etc.; I
    MBUnknown code-hit-PASSPassive voice (valency)
    be verb-ed

    'I was hit'

    Ato na leen-tak-deh
    [ɐtʌ nɐ le:ntɐkdɛh]
    1SFirst person singular (person)
    speaker, signer, etc.; I
    3SThird person singular (person)
    neither speaker nor addressee
    .FFeminine gender (gender)
    feminine or female
    MBUnknown code-hit-PASSPassive voice (valency)
    be verb-ed

    'She was hit by me'

    Ato na leen-tak-see-deh
    [ɐtʌ nɐ le:ntɐkse:dɛh]
    1SFirst person singular (person)
    speaker, signer, etc.; I
    3SThird person singular (person)
    neither speaker nor addressee
    .FFeminine gender (gender)
    feminine or female
    MBUnknown code-hit-INVInverse marker (valency)
    AKA action redirector
    -PASPast
    action occurred before moment of speech

    'I was hit by her'


The reciprocative marker, with the meaning 'together, with each other,' is -ande.

    Aþak hi-koba-ande
    [ɐθɐk hʏkʌbɑ:ndɛ]
    12First person inclusive (person)
    speaker and addressee; you and me/us
    PROXProximal (proximity)
    close to speaker
    -dance-RECPReciprocal (valency)
    arguments act on each other

    'We dance together'


Object & instrument incorporation can occur. Incorporated arguments must be indefinite.

    Ato il-bisqqa hi-zaal-sutöb
    [ɐtʌ ɪlbɪsq'ɐ hɪʒɑ:lsʊtœp]
    1SFirst person singular (person)
    speaker, signer, etc.; I
    DEFDefinite
    "the"
    -onion PROXProximal (proximity)
    close to speaker
    -knife-cut

    'I cut the onion with a knife'

    Ato un ya-debi-takk-see
    [ɐtʌ ʊn jadɛbɪtɐk'se:]
    1SFirst person singular (person)
    speaker, signer, etc.; I
    3SThird person singular (person)
    neither speaker nor addressee
    MFUnknown code-club-hit-INVInverse marker (valency)
    AKA action redirector

    'He hit me with a club'


Adjectives and adverbs follow their nouns and verbs (generally).

[top]Syntax: Subordinate and relative clauses

Subordinate clauses are marked with complementizers.

Relative clauses are adjectival/verbal, noun-first, retain pronoun head.

[top]Verbal Morphology

Adzamian verbs are complex. They are mandatorially inflected for proximity/location, and optionally for aspect, mood, little-v, obvtiative person, and can incorporated objects and manners.

Little v devices (inverse, passive voice, reciprocals, etc) and incorporation of objects and manners are dealt with above in the Syntax section.

Location is the primary deixis for Adzamian verbs, rather than tense. Modal and aspectual suffixes are common, and there are a few tense-like suffixes, but these are not obligatory.

There are five locations: proximal, medial-forwards, medial-backwards, distal-forwards, and distal-backwards. As with tense, which reflects time in comparison to the moment of the utterance, location reflects space with reference to the speaker's current position. The exact distance that these locations cover depends on context, but generally the medial distances must be within view, while distals are farther off.

There are also two directives: towards the speaker, and away from the speaker. These are used for actions that occur across at least two proximity levels.

Locative
prefixes
positivenegative
forebackforeback
proximal
hi-
do-
medialya-leen-yad-lend-
distalsol-akoo-sod-akod-
toward
þü-
þüd-
away
tam-
tand-


Aspects
Aspects appear immediately after the proximity marker.

The simple/basic aspect is unmarked. It is used for most "progressive" sentences in English (e.g. "I am running" = "I run.")

There is a progressive/imperfect/immediate aspect, mez-, generally only used to indicate actions that are currently underway (in the present) or were incomplete (in the past), or actions seen in part or in progress.

The perfective is da-, for completed actions, or actions seen in their entirety.

Ato yamezvalse.
[ɐtʌ jɐmɛʃfɐlzɛ]
'I am running (right now) (up ahead).'

Ato yadavalse.
[ɐtʌ jɐdɐvɐlzɛ]
'I have run (up ahead).'

The aspects cannot stack.

Moods
Adzamian has nine moods, including the unmarked declarative. They appear after the proximity and aspect markers.

  1. Imperative
    • (k)e- or bare verb (without locative)
    • Somewhat rude in most situations; never formal
  2. Hortative-permissive
    • va-
    • polite requests
    • suggestions
    • to give permission
  3. Desiderative
    • (y)ii-
    • desire or wish in a "non-speaker-centric" manner
    • not "I wish, I want..."
    • more like: "It would be nice if..."
  4. Debitive-necessitative
    • qe-
    • should/ought
    • must/need
  5. Probabilitive
    • lez-
    • might
    • it is likely that...
    • X will probably...
  6. Capacitative
    • zu-
    • can
    • may
  7. Conditional-interrogative
    • bei-
    • if...
    • suppose...
    • do/does...? (yes/no)

Some moods can stack.

Tense?
There is no true tense in Adzamic languages. However, there are methods of communicating time.

  1. Adverbs.
    • Temporal adverbs, such as today, tomorrow, soon, recently, forever can be used.
  2. Location-time shorthand.
    • 'Forward' = future, 'behind' = past.
    • This can't be considered regular; time and place are often 'contradictory.'
  3. Temporal affixes.
    • soon: -xon
    • later: -kwil
    • already: -jee
    • right now: -dae
    • often: -to
  4. Context.
    • If a story begins with a time frame, it is safe to assume that that time frame is consistent throughout the story, until otherwise stated.


[top]Nominal morphology

Compared to its verbs, Adzamian's nouns are simple. They are inflected for definiteness, number/animacy, and optionally for location. Quantified nouns take classifiers.

NumberSGPL
INAN-yik-ixi
TOOL-yit-iþ
FLUD-wo-oqo
PLNT-at-aþa
ANML-sat-su
SACR-on-vah
PRSNØ-yet

Except where bolded, the initial letter of each suffix is optional, and only used to interrupt hiatus or illegal consonant clusters. Due to vowel harmony, many of these appear with different surface forms (e.g. -yük, -sü).

DefinitenessINDEFDEFPTVCNSNEG
Øil-o-þar-qa-

It is important to remember that prefixes harmonise to their noun and not vice-versa; so, for example, o-ben /ʌ-bɛn/ 'some water' surfaces as öben [œbɛn], not obön.

Nouns do not have to be in construct state if they are possessed by a pronominal possessor.

Demonstratives
There are rather more demonstratives in Adzamasi than in English. They mirror the verb proximity paradigm, plus some more. As articles, they are assumed to be definite, and do not co-occur with other articles. They also have pronominal forms.

ProximityArticlePronoun
1.PROXhaa-haat
2.PROXhayi-hayik
MFye-yecca
MBlan-lan
DFsol-solut
DBak-akta
FAMhaa-haas
NFAMkuun-kuuma

1.PROX, 2.PROX are close to 1st and 2nd person, respectively. M/D+F/B = medial/distal forwards/behind (first person). FAM/NFAM = familiar/nonfamiliar (to first person).

Adpositions
Adpositions are suffices (therefore often subject to vowel harmony).

  • -yöt
    • instrumental ; with tool, using
  • -yön
    • comitative; with person, alongside, together
    • carrying, being sat on
    • between
  • -ab
    • on, onto, into, at
    • enrolled in, part of, material
    • until a time
  • -catt
    • in, inside, within
  • -ikle
    • through (place), across (place)
    • into a new state
    • for/exchange
  • te
    • in/at/on time
  • -ird
    • while, during, through time, throughout time
  • -aloh
    • from, originating
    • about topic
    • after time
  • -þe
    • back to, return to
  • -aloo
    • away from
    • by (passive's agent)
  • -dakyi
    • towards, to
    • at, near
    • before time
  • -lam
    • around, near, surrounding, beside
  • -ilba
    • along, down-along, up-along
    • upwards
  • -ela
    • benefactive, malefactive
    • depending on
  • -son
    • under, below, lower than
  • -tü
    • above, over, higher than
  • -sin
    • without, has none


[top]Modifiers

Adjectives appear as suffices to their nouns; adverbs have a more complex distribution depending on their function.

Adjectives
Comparative/more/-er : ma-
Superlative/most/-est: je-
Also: tes-

Classifiers
Quantifying adjectives (e.g. numerals, 'some, any, few') are modified by classifiers. There are many more classifier distinctions than there are animacy classes, and some mismatches between the two systems.

  • human: -ot, -et
    • human (archaic): -:n
    • children: -tamna
    • strangers: -xeiz
    • sentient nonhumans: -das
  • major gods: -qae
  • minor gods: -keimca
  • animals
    • small domestic: -þe
    • large domestic: -teh
    • wild: -akko
  • measure
    • time: -an
    • distance: -sit
  • places
    • outdoors or very large interior: -ext
    • indoors: -o
    • very specific: -cars
  • abstract
    • words, phrases: -kaab
    • mental images: -ke
    • metaphysical, sensory: -liþ

  • inanimate
    • round: -wet
    • long and thin: -kars {some tools and plants as well}
    • spiky: -ccexa
    • complex: -we

Note: this list may not be complete

Comments (2)
[link] [quote] 23-Jun-17 21:28
ФMaakpauean
Ángialuma !
 severy [ADMIN] [CWSP STAFF]  
thenks dre
[link] [quote] 23-Jun-17 20:27
CWS Musicians
For talk about music in general, conmusic, instruments, etc. Be welcome :DD
 eerD 
Neat as fug
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