Sound changes
Nominal morphology
Verbal Morphology
Sample text




Ghaf is the dominant language of the province of Ferah, and is also widely spoken in emigrant communities found in cities across the eastern part of the continent of Kečæne. It is directly descended from Yïåf, a lingua franca used among speakers of Ferahic languages during about the 32nd to 35th centuries of the Daiadak Era of the Prophet. During this time, Yïåf came to be the most important language of the Ferahic-speaking region and even beyond, its spread helped by several factors:

The language went through many changes, including the adoption of loan words from other languages (notably its relatives Yhát and Zhai) and the appearance of a system of vowel harmony (possibly under the influence of an unrelated language). By about the 37th century it had developed into an early form of Ghaf.

In the 38th-40th centuries, there are two main groups of Ghaf dialects: Western Ghaf continues to be spoken both as a first language and as a lingua franca in and around Ferah province, including the ancient towns of Fërah and Jefröye (ancient Thāras and Nitazē); while Eastern Ghaf is spoken by emigrant communities in the large cities all along the eastern coast. The Western dialects are more conservative; the Eastern ones are more innovative, and have been influenced by the majority languages of the coast. This sketch presents a fairly typical dialect of Eastern Ghaf.

Ghaf belongs to the Daiadak branch of the Edastean language family. It is a member of the Ferahic (or Eastern Daiadak) group of languages, which share a common descent from Agaf, the language of the old Republic of Fadah, and its predecessor Ayāsth. All the Daiadak languages are descended from Adāta, the language of the ancient Empire of Athalē and of the Prophet Zarākātias.



Sound changes

Yïåf’s semivowel allophony is slightly extended, so that not only do [i ɯ u] become [j ɰ w], but also [y] is realized as a semivowel [ɥ] #_V and V_V. Furthermore, these close vowels become semivowels whenever they form a diphthong: rising diphthongs [jɛ jʌ jæ jɑ ɥø ɥʌ ɥo ɥɪ wɔ wo wu], falling diphthongs [ej ɛj æj œj æw ɔw ow ɛɰ æɰ œɰ oɰ].

Nasalized vowels become oral unconditionally.

A stress accent arises, with primary stress always on the last syllable of the root.

Unstressed initial [ø ʌ ɪ ɨ] are deleted #_CV.

Vowel mergers:

Diphthong shift:

Vowel Harmony:

[æj æɛ ɑɔ] → [aj ae ɑo]

[iɛ uɔ] → [ijɛ uwɔ]

[h] is deleted after a consonant; where it followed /ʁ/, the uvular fricative remains unvoiced [χ].

The back semivowels become fricatives initially and intervocallically: [ɰ w] → [ɣ v]. ([w] thus merges with inherited [v] in these positions, but remains distinct in others.)

[wu] → [u] C_

Palatal plosives shift forward: [c ɟ] → [tʃ dʒ]. This is followed by secondary palatalization: first [ɥ] merges with [j]; then [j] palatalizes a preceding consonant, with results as follows:

In the dialect described here, [ʁ] → [r], with [χ] becoming [r̥]; this is typical of Eastern Ghaf. In some other dialects, [ʁ] merges with [ɰ] syllable-finally; more rarely, it may also merge with [ɣ] before vowels (this happens in a few dialects of Western Ghaf).

There’s also some syncope of unstressed vowels in longer roots and affixes; this is not entirely predictable, but is most likely to affect the penult of the root or the first syllable of a polysyllabic suffix.




Phoneme inventory


Labial  Dental  Post-alveolar Palatal  Velar  Glottal
Plosive/Affricate  p b  t d  tʃ dʒ  c ɟ  k g 
Nasal  m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative  f v  s z  ʃ ç ɣ h
Liquid  r r̥  rʲ  j

(/r̥/ is a marginal phoneme which contrasts with /r/ only intervocallically, and in a small number of words.)


Front  Back
Close  i y  ɯ u
Mid  ɛ œ  ʌ ɔ
Open  æ  ɑ

Diphthongs: /aj ɛj œj ij ɑw uw ɑɰ ɔɰ ʌɰ uɰ ɑo ae/

(/ae/ is extremely rare.)


Syllable structure: (C)(r)V(C)

V here includes diphthongs.

Initial Cr clusters are formed only with labial consonants: /pr br mr fr vr/.

Many consonants cannot occur syllable-finally. Those that can are /p b t d k f v s h r/. (Technically /j w ɰ/ can as well, but only in diphthongs.)

/h/ cannot follow another consonant. Most other medial consonant clusters resulting from the syllable structure are allowed, but clusters of plosives with different voicing are avoided, usually by deleting the first plosive.

Vowels in hiatus are also avoided, either by eliding one of them or by inserting a [j] or [v].

/j/ palatalizes a preceding consonant. (See the palatalization rules under Sound changesabove.) After labial consonants /j/ becomes /r/.

Stress and intonation

Stress: Primary stress always falls on the final syllable of the root. The addition of affixes has no effect on this.


Ghaf retains an intonation pattern derived from the Yïåf pitch-accent. In general, each word (of more than one syllable) has a rise and drop in pitch, with the peak located where the old pitch-accent was; there may be a secondary peak two syllables before this in longer words. The location of these peaks is unpredictable, and does not necessarily correlate with stress; but in words with monosyllable roots they naturally coincide. In many longer words the main drop in pitch occurs immediately beforethe stressed syllable.


Vowel Harmony:

Unstressed vowels harmonize in backness with the core vowel of the stressed syllable in each word. Front vowels are [i y ɛ œ æ]; back vowels are [ɯ u ʌ ɔ ɑ]. It could be argued that these are allophones of one another, which alternate according to a word-level “front/back” switch.

Affixes alternate between forms with front and back vowels, depending on the harmony of the word they’re attached to. When cited in isolation, their vowels are conventionally given as [i u ɛ ɔ ɑ], which are considered the more “basic” vowels.

Semivowels and diphthongs are unaffected by vowel harmony. Vowels that have a diphthong between them and the stressed syllable harmonize with the diphthong.

Consonant allophony:

Syllable-initial [ɣ] corresponds to syllable-final [ɰ]. This alternation may be seen in some compounding and affixing: a final [ɰ] will become [ɣ] if a suffix starting with a vowel is added. Similarly, syllable-final [w] becomes [v] if a vowel follows; when not followed by a vowel, it contrasts with final [v].

/r/ is devoiced before an unvoiced consonant; the few places where /r̥/ is phonemic are where a following /h/ has been lost. In a few dialects, /r̥/ is realized as [x] or [h]. In conservative dialects that have [ʁ] for /r/, /r̥/ is [χ].

/f s/ rarely occur intervocallically; where they do, they’re voiced in many dialects.


The consonants /p b t d k g m n f v s z h r/ are written exactly as in IPA.

The consonants /tʃ dʒ c ɟ ɲ ŋ ʃ ç ɣ r̥ rʲ j/ are written <č j ky gy ny ng š hy gh rh ry y>.

The vowels /ɑ æ ɛ ʌ i ɯ ɔ œ u y/ are written <a ä e ë i ï o ö u ü>.

The semivowels /w ɰ/, found in diphthongs, are written <w ğ>.

The diphthongs /aj ae ɑo/ are written <ay ae ao>.

An apostrophe <’> may be used to show where a vowel has been elided.



Nominal Morphology

Ghaf nouns inflect for both case and number. Case is marked by prefixes; plural number by a suffix. There are also clitic possessive pronouns which attach to the end of the noun phrase they modify.


The Yïåf case system has undergone some reorganization, partly because sound changes caused some prefixes to become too similar, and partly because some of the cases dropped out of use. The Ghaf cases are as follows:

Case prefixes:

Ergative  g(o)-
Dative  d(o)-
Ablative  re(t)-
Locative  j(e)-
Instrumental  p(a)-

(The phonemes in parentheses are dropped as needed to avoid awkward vowel or consonant clusters.)

Some dialects have an allative prefix öy-, which they sometimes or always use in place of the more standard dative.

Number and Determiners

Yïåf had a logical system of determiners, which marked four degrees of quantity and distinguished partitive from collective groups. This system has somewhat broken down in Ghaf, largely as a result of the adoption of one of the determiners as a plural suffix. Six of the determiners remain; they follow the noun they refer to.

Plural suffix: -fak


föd   few, a little
dävöd   some
däväk   several, many
öföd   most
äghöd   all
äghäk   every, each


Ghaf has both definite and indefinite articles; the former developed from the Yïåf demonstratives. Use of the articles is optional in many situations; they are used less frequently than in English, for example. The articles follow the noun they refer to.

Singular  Plural
Indefinite  kyö 
Definite  ghe  örče

Possessive clitics

These clitic possessive pronouns attach to the end of a noun phrase.

  Singular  Plural
1st person  oh  hok
2nd person  oğ  oghok
3rd person  ah  ahok


Ghaf has a complete set of personal pronouns, with distinct forms for each combination of person, number, and case (except locative). It also has a set of correlatives, many of which can be similarly inflected by the addition of the same affixes used for nouns.

Personal pronouns:

1SG  2SG  3SG  1PL  2PL  3PL
Absolutive  yehyö  gyö  vähyö  vuk  guk  vëvuk
Ergative  nyö  ngu  gah  iy  gaw  gëvuk
Dative  nay  dongu  naw  jiy  doghaw  daw
Ablative  jöfrö  jofu  jofah  jöfiy  jofrëghaw  jofëvuk
Instrumental  pe  pä  pihäh  prëghëk  pok  parëk


Query  This  That  Some  No  Every
Adjective eh  ye  ghö  däviye  bäšö  äghäk
Person * payghaw 
Thing gäh  ye  ghö  däviye  pay  äghehče
Place bär  gerör  gärör  daorör  bärör
Time sër  giyh  hyer  dëf  bër
Way ef  hyep  dävep
Reason vuh  hyešö  däfrö  basuh

Yeand ghö can be used as demonstratives, with the plural forms yefäk, ghöfäk.

Finally, Ghaf also has a single relative pronoun, ähyö, which introduces a relative clause.

*Since questions and relative clauses are often treated alike (in terms of TAM marking and word order), many speakers are beginning to use the query correlatives as relative pronouns; and some also use the relative ähyö for “who”, which otherwise is expressed by yëghaw eh “which person” or yëghaw gäh “what person”.

Some examples

Sometimes the case roles in a sentence may be different than expected. The underlying metaphor of the Ghaf case system is one of movement and direction; thus verbs of motion generally take ergative subjects even when they’re intransitive, and non-subject arguments are often marked dative or ablative to imply movement:

Ophai heard the words of my mouth.

Dëvuvo Öfay döreyiyfäk örče rëbaboh.

dëvu-o  öfay  do-reyiy-fak  örče ret-bab=oh
hear-PFV.3SG  Ophai[ABS]  DAT-word-PL  DEF.PL ABL-mouth=my

A more literal translation might be “Ophai listened to the words that came out of my mouth.” (Verbs of sense perception always take an absolutive subject and dative object.)


Possession can be indicated by the clitic possessive pronouns, or by a locative or directional case prefix:

his/her book




the woman’s book

hïrkër jeghähyö ghe

hïrkër  je-ghähyö  ghe
book  LOC-woman  DEF.SG

Literally “the book at (the) woman”.


The ablative is used for alienated possession: it indicates that something used to belong to someone, or came or was received from someone:

in my father’s throne

j’öfer rebähöh

je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh
LOC-throne  ABL-father=my

Literally “in the throne (that I inherited) from my father”.


The dative is used for inalienable possession, such as family relationships and body parts:

brother of the sun and moon

baghat döhiymrä äryö, dofaor äryö

baghat  do-hiymrä  äryö  do-faor  äryö
brother  DAT-sun  and  DAT-moon  and


This logic can apply to locative phrases too:

on the table top

jedät dočëvu

je-dät  do-čëvu
LOC-top  DAT-table

Here the table is dative because the top is an integral, inalienable part of it.



Verbal morphology

The Ghaf verbal system remains quite close to Yïåf structurally, though there have been some notable changes in usage. Verbs still inflect for Tense/Aspect and Mood, and agree with their subjects in person and number. (It’s worth noting that this subject agreement shows nominative alignment, though the case marking on nouns is ergative.)


Mood is marked by prefixes on the verb.

The principal moods in Ghaf are:

There are also negative forms of these moods, which are somewhat more restricted in use. The Indicative Negative and Subjunctive Negative negate verbs in main clauses and subordinate clauses respectively. The Optative Negative is used for negative requests and commands. The Conditional Negative is used for “if not” statements. All of these forms are often replaced by constructions involving ör “no, not”, except for some fixed expressions; always using the prefixes sounds rather formal or old-fashioned.

Finally, there’s the Interrogative, which forms yes/no questions. This is rarely used in speech, and sounds archaic; most speakers simply indicate a question with a rising intonation at the end of the sentence.

Mood prefixes:

Positive  Negative
Indicative  —  p(u)-
Subjunctive  j(o)-  dars(a)-
Optative  uh-  unga(t)-
Conditional  os-  osays(a)-
Interrogative  zeh- 


Tense/aspect is marked by suffixes. The primary aspect suffixes mark verbs as either perfective (completed or simple action) or imperfective (incomplete or ongoing action), and also show subject agreement. There are two sets of these suffixes; which set is used is lexically determined, and defines the two conjugational classes of Ghaf verbs.

Ghaf also has a secondary tense/aspect distinction, traditionally described as one between past and present tense. The past is unmarked; the present is marked by a suffix that follows the primary aspect suffix (or a contracted version of it). This description is somewhat misleading, in a couple of ways. For one thing, the “past” tense might be more accurately described as “non-present”; it can be used for future or hypothetical actions as well as for past ones, and the “past” imperfective can refer to an action which began in the past and is still going on. For another, these secondary categories may not actually be tenses at all: the semantic difference between the “past” and “present” forms seems to be partly or even mostly aspectual rather than simply one of time. In this view, the “present tense” can be analyzed as forming two more aspects: perfect and progressive. The whole system then looks like this:

Here are the suffixes:


Class I verbs  Class II verbs
1SG  -o  -no
2SG  -ngu  -no
3SG  -o  -no
1PL  —  -ji
2PL  -gu  -jo
3PL  -yo  -jo


Class I verbs  Class II verbs
1SG  -nu  -tu
2SG  -dengu  -tengu
3SG  -nu  -tu
1PL  -jiy  -čiy
2PL  -devu  -tevu
3PL  -du  -tu


Class I verbs  Class II verbs
1SG  -o-mray  -no-mray
2SG  -ngu-mray  -no-mray
3SG  -o-mray  -no-mray
1PL  -mray  -ji-mray
2PL  -gu-mray  -jo-mray
3PL  -yo-mray  -jo-mray


Class I verbs  Class II verbs
1SG  -nu-mray  -tu-mray
2SG  -(d)nu-mray  -(t)nu-mray
3SG  -nu-mray  -tu-mray
1PL  -jiy-mray  -čiy-mray
2PL  -du-mray  -tu-mray
3PL  -du-mray  -tu-mray

There’s an irregularity in some Class I verbs that end in vowels; the first and third person singular perfective suffix -omay be elided, causing these forms to be identical to the first person plural in the perfective and perfect.

There’s also a third conjugational class, which takes Class II perfective suffixes, but Class I imperfectives. This class is made up entirely of loan words.

Some examples

The subject can be dropped in imperatives, but the agreement suffix remains (the imperfective is usually used):

Come here!

Uhvufudëngu dögerör!

uh-vufu-dengu  do-gerör
OPT-come-2SG.IPFV  DAT-here


Don’t eat that!

Uhvuwdëngu ghö ör!

uh-vuw-dengu  ghö  ör
OPT-eat-2SG.IPFV  that[ABS]  not

Or more formally:

Do not eat that!

Ungatvuwdëngu ghö!

ungat-vuw-dengu  ghö
OPT.NEG-eat-2SG.IPFV  that[ABS]


The conditional is used for both the “if”-clause and the conclusion:

If I became king, I’d give everyone food.

Ösöyvrëruvuno yehyö jerhä, osdavnu nyö järö doyëghawfak äghäk.

os-öyvrëruvu-no  yehyö  jerhä  os-dav-nu  nyö  järö  do-yëghaw-fak  äghäk
COND-become-1SG.PFV  1SG.ABS  king[ABS]  COND-give-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ERG  food[ABS]  DAT-man-PL  every 


If I became king, I’d give my kingdom away.

Ösöyvrëruvuno yehyö jerhä, osdavnu nyö jeskäröh.

os-öyvrëruvu-no  yehyö  jerhä  os-dav-nu  nyö  jeskär=öh
COND-become-1SG.PFV  1SG.ABS  king[ABS]  COND-give-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ERG  kingdom[ABS]=my


Eastern Ghaf has borrowed the T-V distinction from the languages around it: in polite or formal speech the 2nd person plural is used in place of the singular. A waiter says:

What would you like to eat?

Gäh uhvuwdëvu gaw?

gäh  uh-vuw-devu  gaw
what  OPT-eat-2PL.IPFV  2PL.ERG

Your mother says:

You need to eat!

Uhvuwdëngu ngu!

uh-vuw-dengu  ngu




Like Yïåf, Ghaf has basic VSO order. However, Ghaf is entirely sytactically nominative: an ergative argument normally follows the verb, rather than going at the end of the sentence as in Yïåf.

The girl ate lamb.

Vuvo goghaw yäghärö.

vuw-o  go-ghaw  yäghärö
eat-3SG.PFV  ERG-girl  lamb[ABS]

The subject can also be fronted for emphasis:

Her father (on the other hand) ate beef.

Göbähäh vuvo öy.

go-bäh=ah  vuw-o  öy
ERG-father=her/his  eat-3SG.PFV  ox[ABS]

An indirect object follows the direct object if both are present:

The father gave her a little of his wine.

Davo göbäh ghe šarap födäh naw.

dav-o  go-bäh  ghe  šarap  föd=ah  naw
give-3SG.PFV  ERG-father  DEF.SG  wine[ABS]  a_little=his  3PS.DAT

(Notice too how the possessive clitic attaches to the determiner rather than the noun.)


Ghaf is consistently head-first, modifier second. Adjectives, numerals, and possessors always follow the nouns they modify, as do relative clauses. The normal order of modifiers in noun phrases is slightly different than in Yïåf: adjective of character — adjective of appearance — other adjective — numeral — correlative, demonstrative, or article.

these three cold white stones

töjäröfäk yöye giye daw yefäk

töjärö-fak  yöye  giye  daw  ye-fak
stone-PL  cold  white  three  this-PL

(Adjectives don’t inflect at all, which breaks a supposed universal for VSO languages.)


In apposition (e.g. equative clauses), a proper noun precedes a common noun.

Sinakan was a king.

Šihä jerhä kyö.

Šihä  jerhä  kyö
Sinakan  king  one

(Notice that there’s no TAM marking on this kind of sentence, since there’s no verb; such information has to be understood from context.)


In verb phrases, the fully inflected main verb comes first; all its arguments, including any subordinate verb, follow it. Adverbs follow the adjective or verb they modify, and normally come after the subject and any objects.

I am nearly reborn.

J’öyešetümray ötröyö yehyö fäkäröh.

jo-öyeše-tu-mray  ötröyö  yehyö  fa-käröh
SBJV-be_born-1SG.IPFV-PRS  again  1SG.ABS  ADV-close

Here ötröyö “again” precedes the subject in order to differentiate the sentence from J’öyešetümray yehyö fäkäröh ötröyö, “I am again close to being born.” (Notice the derivational affixes too: ötröyö comes from Yïåf röïyüÿ “second” with an old adverbializing prefix ÿt- which is no longer productive; another adverbializing prefix fa- appears in fäkäröh “nearly”.)


Subordinate clauses are distinct in a number of ways. They are usually introduced by a relative or correlative pronoun; they usually show SVO order; and the verb is usually placed in the subjunctive. They always follow the noun or verb they modify.

I killed the man who raped me.

Fesö nyö yëghaw, ähyö joyëhyïnavuno yehyö.

fes-o  nyö  yëghaw  ähyö  jo-oyëhyïnavu-no  yehyö
kill-1SG.PFV  1SG.ERG  man[ABS]  REL  SBJV-rape-3SG.PFV  1SG.ABS


Question words (which, what, where, etc.) are always placed at the beginning of a question; they may be inflected for case. Such questions are often treated as if they were relative clauses, with the verb in the subjunctive.

Where have you put my book?

Döbär j’ïfngumray ngu hïrkëroh?

do-bär  jo-ïf-ngu-mray  ngu  hïrkër=oh
DAT-where  SBJV-put_down-2SG.PFV-PRS  2SG.ERG  book=my


In colloquial speech these question words are often used as relative pronouns; in more formal speech this is avoided.

When I sat on the throne of my father

Formal: Jëzat, j’ähyö j’oyaftu yehyö j’öfer rebähöh

je-zat  je-ähyö  jo-oyaf-tu  yehyö  je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh 
LOC-time  LOC-REL  SBJV-sit-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ABS  LOC-throne  ABL-father=my 

Colloquial: Sër j’oyaftu yehyö j’öfer rebähöh

sër  jo-oyaf-tu  yehyö  je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh 
when  SBJV-sit-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ABS  LOC-throne  ABL-father=my 


Negation is another area where colloquial speech differs from formal and written language. The negative prefixes are no longer used much colloquially; instead, sentences are negated with ör:

When I didn't sit on the throne of my father

Formal: Jëzat, j’ähyö dars’oyaftu yehyö j’öfer rebähöh

je-zat  je-ähyö  darsa-oyaf-tu  yehyö  je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh 
LOC-time  LOC-REL  SBJV.NEG-sit-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ABS  LOC-throne  ABL-father=my 

Colloquial: Sër j’oyaftu yehyö ör j’öfer rebähöh

sër  jo-oyaf-tu  yehyö  ör  je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh 
when  SBJV-sit-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ABS  not  LOC-throne  ABL-father=my 

The placement of ör varies; it can follow the verb, the subject, or the object, depending on what the speaker wants to emphasize as negated.



Sample text

The Legend of Sinakan

This legend is based on a 5700-year-old inscription found outside the ancient capital of the Edak Empire, near the east coast of Kečæne. The translation has a somewhat formal, old-fashioned style, noticeable in the use of negative prefixes and the absence of question words used as relative pronouns.


Thus spoke Sinakan, the great king, the king of the land of Kaxad,

Hyep j’evö Šihä, jerhä garoğ ghe, jerhä jeKähäd,

hyep  jo-ev-o  šihä  jerhä  garoğ  ghe  jerhä  je-kähäd
thus  SBJV-speak-3SG.PFV  Sinakan  king[ABS]  great  DEF.SG  king[ABS]  LOC-Kaxad


brother of the sun and the moon:

baghat döhiymrä äryö, dofaor äryö:

baghat  do-hiymrä  äryö  do-faor  äryö
brother[ABS]  DAT-sun  and  DAT-moon  and



“Before I sat on the throne of my father,

“Rëzat, retähyö dars’oyaftu yehyö j’öfer rebähöh,

ret-zat  ret-ähyö  darsa-oyaf-tu  yehyö  je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh,
ABL-time  ABL-REL  SBJV.NEG-sit-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ABS  LOC-throne  ABL-father=my


all the rival countries were hostile towards me.

räghävrefäk äghöd hïrëho nay.

räghävre-fak  äghöd  hïrëho  nay
foreign_country[ABS]-PL  all  hostile  1SG.DAT


The nearby rival countries spoke thus:

Evrö räghävrefäk käröh örče:

ev-yo  räghävre-fak  käröh  örče
speak-3PL.PFV  foreign_country[ABS]-PL  near  DEF.PL



‘His father was a brave king.

‘Bähäh jerhä perär kyö.

bäh=ah  jerhä  perär  kyö
father=his  king  brave  one         


He conquered many rival countries, and he became a god.

Övö gah räghävrefäk däväk äryö, öyvrëruvunu vähyö döjerhäriye kyö äryö.

öv-o  gah  räghävre-fak  däväk  äryö  öyvrëruvu-nu  vähyö  do-jerhäriye  kyö  äryö
conquer-3SG.PFV  3SG.ERG  foreign_country[ABS]-PL  many  and  become-3SG.PFV  3SG.ABS  DAT-god  one  and


But he who sits on the throne of his father is a child.’

Gär ähyö j’oyaftumray j’öfer rebähäh, vähyö jevrö kyö.’

gär  ähyö  jo-oyaf-tu-mray  je-öfer  ret-bäh=ah  vähyö  jevrö  kyö
but  REL  SBJV-sit-3SG.IPFV-PRS  LOC-throne  ABL-father=his  3SG.ABS  child  one



“When I sat on the throne of my father, brother of the sun and the moon,

“Jëzat, j’ähyö j’oyaftu yehyö j’öfer rebähöh, baghat döhiymrä äryö, dofaor äryö,

je-zat  je-ähyö  jo-oyaf-tu  yehyö  je-öfer  ret-bäh=oh  baghat  do-hiymrä  äryö  do-faor  äryö
LOC-time  LOC-REL  SBJV-sit-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ABS  LOC-throne  ABL-father=my  brother[ABS]  DAT-sun  and  DAT-moon  and


before I went to the rival countries which were being hostile towards me,

gär j’ähyö darsadurnu nyö döraghavrefäk örče, ähyö hïrëho nay,

gär  je-ähyö  darsa-dur-nu  nyö  do-raghavre-fak  örče  ähyö  hïrëho  nay
but  LOC-REL  SBJV.NEG-go-1SG.IPFV  1SG.ERG  DAT-foreign_country-PL  DEF.PL  REL  hostile  1SG.DAT


I went to the feasts of Ophai.

duro nyö dojarovaroğfak j’Öfay.

dur-o  nyö  do-jarovaroğ-fak  je-öfay
go-1SG.PFV  1SG.ERG  DAT-feast-PL  LOC-Ophai 


I celebrated them, and I raised my hand to the shining mother.

Brëruvuvo nyö vëvuk äryö, fa nyö kaghoh döme bar ghe äryö.

brëruvu-o  nyö  vëvuk  äryö  fa-o  nyö  kağ=oh  do-me  bar  ghe  äryö
celebrate-1SG.PFV  1SG.ERG  3PL.ABS  and  lift-1SG.PFV  1SG.ERG  hand[ABS]=my  DAT-mother  shining  DEF.SG  and


I spoke thus:

Evö nyö:

ev-o  nyö
speak-3SG.PRV  1SG.ERG



‘My mistress, light of the stars!

‘U hun’oh, hiy dögiyfäk örče!

hunë=oh  hiy  do-giy-fak  örče
oh  lady=my  light  DAT-star-PL  DEF.PL       


The nearby rival countries belittle me who call me a child;

Vuvradumray göräghävrefäk käröh örče yehyö aryö, ähyö pëfratumray yehyö jevrö kyö;

vuvra-du-mray  go-räghävre-fak  käröh  örče  yehyö  äryö  ähyö  pëfra-tu-mray  yehyö  jevrö  kyö
mock-3PL.IPFV-PRS  ERG-foreign_country-PL  near  DEF.PL  1SG.ABS  and  REL  name-3PL.IPFV-PRS  1SG.ABS  child  one


and they begin to attack the borders of your holy land, my mistress!

sešedümray gëvuk jopërudu dočërahfak döjeskär äröghök äryö, hun’oh!

seše-du-mray  gëvuk  jo-përu-du  do-čërah-fak  do-jeskär  är=oghok  äryö  hunë=oh
begin-3PL.IPFV-PRS  3PL.ERG  SBJV-attack-3PL.IPFV  DAT-edge-PL  DAT-kingdom  holy=your[PL]  and  lady=my


Strike the unholy down!’

Ühfesdevü äreyifäk örče!’

uh-fes-devu  äreyi-fak  örče
OPT-smite-2PL.IPFV  unholy-PL  DEF.PL



“Ophai heard the words of my mouth.

“Dëvuvo Öfay döreyiyfäk örče rëbaboh.

dëvu-o  öfay  do-reyiy-fak  örče  ret-bab=oh
hear-3SG.PFV  Ophai  DAT-word-PL  DEF.PL  ABL-mouth=my


She raised me up, and she gave strength to my arm.

Fa gah yehyö äryö, oyorkagho gah ër’oh öktöjärö äryö.

fa-o  gah  yehyö  äryö  oyorkağ-o  gah  ëra=oh  öktöjärö  äryö
lift-3SG.PFV  3SG.ERG  1SG.ABS  and  make-3SG.PFV  3SG.ERG  arm[ABS]=my  strong  and


I conquered those who contested me in ten years.

Övö nyö ähyö böyhyö yehyö jëzawrovïfak ëğ.

öv-o  nyö  ähyö  böyh-yo  yehyö  je-zawrovï-fak  ëğ
conquer-PFV.1SG  1SG.ERG  REL  fight-PRF.3PL  1SG.ABS  LOC-year-PL  ten   


I conquered them.

Övö nyö vëvuk.

öv-o  nyö  vëvuk
conquer-PRF.1SG  1SG.ERG  3PL.ABS


I captured prisoners, oxen, and sheep,

Giyvuğravo nyö jehfäk äryö, öyfäk äryö, yağfak äryö;

giyvuğrav-o  nyö  jeh-fak  äryö  öy-fak  äryö  yağ-fak  äryö
take-PRF.1SG  1SG.ERG  prisoner[ABS]-PL  and  ox[ABS]-PL  and  sheep[ABS]-PL  and


and I sent them back to the land of Kaxad.”

prëra nyö vëvuk döKähäd äryö.”

prëra-o  nyö  vëvuk  do-kähäd  äryö
send-PRF.1SG  1SG.ERG  3PL.ABS  DAT-Kaxad  and




Proper nouns

Ghaf  this language
Fërah  the region it comes from; also its ancient capital [Adāta Thāras]
*Jefröye  another ancient town in the same region [Adāta Nitazē]
*Ühät  the Yhát language
*Jay  the Zhai language
Šihä  a very ancient king [Adāta Sinakan]
Kähäd  his ancient kingdom [Adāta Kāxad]
Öfay  the ancient goddess [Adāta Ophai]



+ 10  × 10 
kyö  one    dağh  eleven    ëğ  ten
gyö  two    dawk  twelve    *her  twenty
daw  three    daor  thirteen    davï  thirty
brö  four    dawvrö  fourteen    boğ  forty
gaw  five    davu  fifteen    gavï  fifty
öh  six    deröh  sixteen    *öhağ, ağ  sixty
mrö  seven    *dämrö  seventeen    *mrövağ, bavï  seventy
guk  eight    *daghuk, duvuk  eighteen    gughağ  eighty
gör  nine    däghör  nineteen    *görağ  ninety
ëğ  ten    *her  twenty    efrö  hundred

Numbers above twenty: her-kyö “twenty-one”, davï-kyö “thirty-one”, etc.


+ 10  × 10 
röhyö  first    rorağh  eleventh    *royëğ, vuğ  tenth
röyö  second    rorawk  twelfth    *röher  twentieth
roraw  third    roraor  thirteenth    roravï  thirtieth
rövrö  fourth    *rorawvrö, rawvrö  fourteenth    rovoğ  fortieth
royaw  fifth    roravu  fifteenth    royavï  fiftieth
röyöh  sixth    röreröh  sixteenth    *röhağ, rağ  sixtieth
römrö  seventh    *rörämrö  seventeenth    *römrövağ, rovavï  seventieth
*royuk, rawg  eighth    *roraghuk, ruvuk  eighteenth    *royughağ, royağ  eightieth
röyör  ninth    röräghör  nineteenth    *röyörağ, roghağ  ninetieth
*royëğ, vuğ  tenth    *röher  twentieth    *refrö, zefrö  hundredth

*Her “twenty” comes from Yïåf hèr “a group of something”, from Agaf xælæ “herd, flock”. The other altered numerals are the result of analogical levelling; several of the older, irregular forms are still used by some speakers, and are therefore listed second in these tables.


*hunë  lady [Yhát ahúna, woman]
awfče  stool, chair
bab  mouth
baghat  brother
bäh  father
bëvoğ  power
*bir  homosexual man [Zhai bijr, goat, homosexual]
čehyi  trade, business
čëhyïnë  mathematics, addition
čënë  knowledge, science
čërah  edge, border
čev  field
čëvu  table
dah  mystery
dam  fire
daorah  enemy
dät  top, peak
ëra  arm
erhyi  prostitute
erhyehyi  sex
faor  moon
gavre  foreigner, outsider, heathen
giy  star
ghähyö  woman
*ghäjik  a law [Yhát ghadzisk, decree]
ghaw  girl
*häs  fine wool [Yhát ház, wool]
*hasër  moonlight [Yhát khánsal]
*hir  volume, chapter [Yhát khírl, book]
*hïrkër  book, novel, history [Yhát khírlkal, notebook, chronicle]
hiy  light
hiymrä  sun
hyëhyïnavu  rape
hyërï  tooth
*ik  cat [Zhai ıkh]
isä  police
*jä  penis (vulgar) [Zhai ıdzan]
järö  food
jarovaroğ  feast, celebration
jërah  leader, chief
jerhä  king
jerhäriye  god
jeskär  kingdom, country
jevrö  child
jiy  prisoner
jiyt  tradition, the past
kağ  hand
me  mother
mebä  gate, door
merä  day
meše  a lie
minä  memory, remembrance
nekä  army
*neräp  pet [Zhai neraph]
öfer  throne
*op  peasant, hick [Zhai oph, country-dweller]
ovufu  crowd
öy  ox, cow
öyvëfra  bad reputation
öyvëstah  accident
pär  a fight
päsnekä  war
raghavre  foreign country
rah  ground, earth
reyiy  word
riye  air
siyi  ritual, rite
*suk  whore (vulgar) [Zhai ısuk]
*šarap  wine [non-Edastean loan]
*šöy  a breed of dog [Zhai shoj, dog]
tï  foot
töh  building
töjärö  stone
yağ  sheep
yäghärö  lamb (meat)
yëghaw  man, person
zat  time
zawruvï  year
ziye  rules


är  sacred
äreyi  unholy, evil
avu  violent
bar  shining
garoğ  great
*giye  white
*hïrëho  hostile [Zhai xireho]
hiyme  yellow
*iyh  black
*jöfä  red
käröh  near, close
öktöjärö  strong
öyä  famous
*öyf  green
öyvestäves  soft
öyviye  arrogant
öyvöyh  modest
päryö  reckless
per  good
perär  brave, heroic
ruvï  long
uvï  short
*yöye  cold


meräye  currently, today
orkağ  using technology
osčënë  stupidly
*ötröyö  again
payënë  intelligently
pavab  orally
pe  alone
pëhağ  manually


Class I:

brëruvu  to celebrate, praise
böyh  to fight
dav  to give
dur  to go
dëvu  to listen, hear
eyä  to say untruthfully, lie
ërfa  to hurt
ev  to tell, to say
eviye  to sing
fa  to lift, pick up
fes  to kill
giyvugha  to control
ïf  to put down
öv  to defeat, conquer
pëfra  to name
përo  to attack
prëra  to send
seše  to start, begin
vufu  to come
vuvra  to mock
vuw  to eat

Class II:

buw  to grow
oror  to carry
oyaf  to sit
oyëhyïnavu  to rape
öyiyvugha  to fall
oyërfa  to commit suicide
öyerhyehyi  to have sex
öyeše  to be born
öyrav  to get, receive
giyvuğrav  to take
öyrëvu  to think
öyva  to pretend
öyvaf  to get up
öyves  to die
öyvi  to imagine
öyvrëra  to introduce
öyvrëruvu  to happen, to become
öyvëro  to confuse
oyorkağ  to make, to do
öyvuvra  to lack self-esteem

Class III:

(take Class II perfective endings, Class I imperfective endings)

*äbingi  to cry, lament [Zhai abıngin, to cry]
*däri  to fuck, be fucked (vulgar) [Zhai ıdarin]
*düši  to desire, lust for [Zhai dushin, to want]
*ezibi  to insult [Zhai enzıbin]
*hüši  to masturbate (vulgar) [Zhai xushin]
*kevi  to belittle [Zhai khevin]
*müji  to protest [Zhai muzhin]
*ngäšebi  to denounce, accuse [Zhai ngashebin]
*ovamo  to offend [Yhát ovámon, to insult]
*rüri  to love [Zhai rurin]
*sihi  to curse [Zhai sıhin]
*tivi  to sin [Zhai thıvin, to err]

Conjunctions, interjections, etc.

äryö  and
gär  but
*hah  alas [Zhai hax]
ör  no, not
*u  oh [Zhai u, Yhát ú]
zek  or

*Asterisks mark words added to the lexicon by Corumayas; if no origin is given they are regularly derived (in most cases from Adāta words that were left out of the Agaf lexicon).