Inavewa

Inavewa was very short-lived. One neat thing it had was a verbal paradigm with a 1st/2nd vs 3rd person distinction. There was also a collective vs separated (not collective) plural. It exists in two documents: A google doc and a google sheet with vocabulary.

Since that was so short, here is the song that convinced me that it really was okay to have multiple ŋ’s in a word.

Introducing Kenda Soro

So the new language continues to evolve, and right now it is in a good place. It’s current name is Kenda Soro. First a short grammar sketch. In a few days I’ll post something on the phonology. Grammar is more important!

Kenda Soro rhymes with this, my favorite from Ali Farka Touré.

Short Grammar Sketch

The central idea in the grammar is motion. Clauses are built around a noun in motion (the subject) and everything else is marked in relation to the subject.

Word order is verb final. The primary predicates of the language are all single-syllable particles, so they attach themselves to the end of the subject. All the predicates are intransitive, so other arguments in the clause are all oblique by definition.

Particles

Particles are grammatical words that do not follow the phonological rules. They are single-syllable, and so have to glom onto another word. The primary predicates of this language are all particles. Aside from the single syllable pronominal particles, all other particles act as suffixes and attach to the end of the preceding word. Pronominal particles act as prefixes. A predicate can consist of a pronominal prefix and a verbal suffix with no added material in between.

Motion Particles

There are twelve particles that attach to the end of the noun phrase in motion to convey the type of motion and type of noun. These are: ŋi MOVE, se STAY, ra GO, no COME, lo UP, ta DOWN, me INTO, vi OUT, ka TOUCH, ki BY, pe FAIL, and vu NOT.

MOVE or ŋi marks motion in place, or internal motion (moving one’s limbs, breathing, etc.). It is also used to mark identity, attribution, and location of an animate nouns.

STAY or se marks non-motion, remaining in place. It is used to mark identity, attribution, and location of inanimate nouns.

GO or ra marks motion along a path or in a single direction, to or from a location. Motion is away from the speaker or the deictic center of the clause. The deictic center is the argument with the highest animacy.

COME or no is the equivalent of GO, but the motion is towards from the speaker or the deictic center of the clause. The deictic center is the argument with the highest animacy. COME is often used to express the metaphorical motion of an object to one’s eye or a sound to one’s ear.

UP or lo and DOWN of ta are also equivalents of GO, with the deictic center being the ground. In addition, UP and DOWN also can convey MORE or LESS of an attribute. or the increase or decrease in a non-physical noun (like darkness).

INTO or me marks inward motion, usually by light, sound, air, water, fire, or some sort of mass substance. It is also used for things that are being created.

OUT or vi marks outwards motion, usually by light, sound, air, water, fire, or some sort of mass substance.

TOUCH or ka marks motion with impact or touching. When used with =za it can convey physical possession.

BY or ki marks motion passing by a location or leaving behind a location. This can also negate the possession use of ka.

FAIL or pe marks a failure to move in a direction or to achieve a destination. This negates most of the other motion particles, at least in some contexts.

NOT or vu negates se.

Motion particles can be inflected for aspect: =na for the starting of motion, =to for the stopping of motion, and =yi for continued motion. Continued motion is used to set a scene of background motion and to express continuation of a situation despite an effort to change the situation.

Motion particles can also then have two optional future particles added: =hi for potential future and =zi certain or intended future.

Other Particles

Other particles mark the other noun phrases in the clause. These can mark a motion phrase once the motion phrase has been nominalized.

=s marks location at, on, in, onto, into. It implies that the motion is complete, that is that the subject has finished moving and arrived at a destination marked by =s.

=za marks a path along which a subject is moving. It is also used to mark any position that involves elongation, such as fingers around a grasped object, and thus marks objects held or grasped, and the subject of speech (about).

=du marks a destination that has not been reached, and so conveys motion towards a goal, a direction, the end of a sequence, a purpose or intention, a result, and an audience for speech.

=nda marks location form, a source of motion, a beginning of a sequence, the source or substance something is made from, the stimulus of mental activity, a standard of comparison, or the whole that something is part of.

=ya marks a rational animate cause of motion, and can be considered an animate, volitional version of nda.

=nen is a very general comitative, also used as an instrumental.

Nouns

Since motion is the central idea of the grammar, nouns are divided into groups based on ability to move (animacy) and volition.

  • Things that move of their own volition.
  • Things that move, but without perceived volition.
  • Things that only move when made to do so by an outside entity or force.

Group A includes people and deities. These are the rational animates. Group B includes animals, and certain celestial phenomena. B also includes the wind, flowing water, wildfires, sound, and light. These are all animate, though not rational. And C includes still air, still water, campfires, earth, most landscape items, plants, body parts, objects, and everything else. These are the inanimates.

Since nouns are not marked in any way, membership in the various classes is determined by pronoun usage and which motion particles are used to denote an attribute of the noun, and which source particles can be used.

Rational Animate Animate Inanimate
Pronoun sa= i= ha=
Relative Pronoun ŋe= ŋe= zo=
Motion Particle =ŋi =ŋi =se
Source or Cause =ya =nda =nda

Pronouns

First, a quick list:

Singular Plural Extended Singular Extended Plural
1 (first person singular and exclusive plural) li= ke= liye keye
1+2 (1+2 dual and first person inclusive plural) ŋi= mi= ŋiye miye
2 (second person) di= ŋa= diri ŋari
3 rational animate, volitional sa= na= sama nama
3 other animate, 123 non-volitional i= ya= imba yama
3 inanimate ha= e= hada yeda
relative clause common argument animate ŋe= ma= ŋeda mana
relative clause common argument inanimate zo= za= zoda zaya

Number is obligatory only in pronouns and rational animate nouns. All other nouns are neutral in regards to number and can be read as either singular or plural. That said, nouns that appear to be partially or fully reduplicated will take plural pronoun agreement. Number can also be specified by adding a quantifier to the noun phrase.

Singular refers to a single entity, and plural to more than one entity. The exception is the dual pronoun ŋiye, which acts like a singular even though it refers to two.

First and second person are straightforward. Third person is broken up into three classes: rational animates, other animates, and inanimates. Rational animate nouns have plural marking, and so trigger use of the plural pronouns. Other animate nouns do not, so which pronoun to use depends on the context. With inanimate nouns, again, which pronoun to use depends on context. But, some inanimate nouns are or appear to be partially or fully reduplicated. These always use plural pronouns, even when the subject seems to be singular.

Rational animate nouns will sometimes use the animate rather than the rational animate pronouns. This signals non-volitionality. It is used in imperatives as well.

Adjectives and Quantifiers

Adjectives precede the noun they modify. Basic, non-derived adjectives can be partially reduplicated to indicate intensity or continuation of a process. A noun phrase can consist solely of an adjective.

Quantifiers act like adjectives in that they precede the noun. Quantifiers convey number, but are not used for counting! Some quantifiers also modify adjectives.

Adverbs, Conjunctions, and Interjections

Adverbs go between the subject and the motion particle, triggering a need for a pronominal prefix on the motion particle. Conjunctions go at the end of the clause. Interjections go anywhere.