Žviraz Vğo

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Žviraz Vğo ['ʒviɾaz vʕo] ('Island of the Bumblebees') is a medium-sized island, approximately ten degrees north of the equator, found on the west coast of Peilaš. It is known for its pleasant microclimate (not unlike that of St. Helena, but somewhat wetter) and abundant wildlife. It is home to approximately two thousand speakers of the Island-Highland language of the same name, which this article describes.



(Note that <ğ> represents /q~ɣ~ʕ/, <š ž> /ʃ ʒ/, <ñ> /ɲ/, and <r> /ɾ/; <v> is [v~β~w], <f> [f~ɸ]. Pretty much everything else is IPA.)


Žviraz Vğo nouns possess two cases: a nominative-accusative and an oblique--as well as a 'construct accusative', for which see below. There are no other distinctions; verbs mark number, but nouns do not. Adjectives agree with their head noun for the oblique, but not for the construct accusative.

The oblique is formed semi-irregularly, in that there are clear patterns in how nominals form their oblique, but which process is essentially arbitrary. Most common is the suffixing of a consonant to a noun ending in a vowel: žvira, žviraz 'bumblebee'; vğo, vğor 'island'; ŋi, ŋiz 'water'. Some nouns add an additional vowel plus consonant after a word-final consonant, e.g. ŋorap, ŋorapav 'elbow'. Still others are more or less just irregular, such as ammari, ammarzir 'building' or mi, viv 'louse'. The oblique is always marked in the lexicon.

There is also a 'construct accusative' used for direct objects possessed by the subject. This is also semi-irregular in how it interacts with the stem, but always ends in -mo or -bo. Its form will also be given in the lexicon.

Thus a regular noun entry will look like:

žvira, žviraz, žviramo n. 'bumblebee'.

There is a definite article vi, which loses its vowel before a prevocalic sonorant (other than v-) or vowel, but is marked in transcription with an apostrophe: vi žvira' 'the bumblebee', vi toño 'the shark', v'maro 'the name', v'oʔ 'the cloud'. (For the loss of vowel, compare the behavior of French le.) Possessed nominals virtually never take the definite article, and it doesn't mark case.

The article precedes modifying adjectives.


Personal pronouns distinguish a dual, a plural and the two usual cases. In the following table, the nominative is followed in slashes by the oblique.

sg. du. pl.
1 ni/niv naŋo/naŋov moğo/moğor
2 na/nav naki/nakiz navoŋo/navoŋov
3 mo/mov moki/mokiz momo/momov

There also exists a set of possessive pronouns, preceding their head nouns. These are identical to the nominatives of the corresponding pronouns in the singular, and the obliques of the duals and plurals.


NP order is head-final. Adjectives precede nouns:

ŋarana mivğo

sunny.NOM archipelago.NOM

'a sunny archipelago'

So do possessive pronouns:

na mibar

your grandmother-NOM

'your grandmother'

And obliques used as genitives:

tariv kazir

blood.OBL path.NOM

'the/a path of blood'

Adjectives agree in oblique case with their heads:

vi frimanaz norav nima

the wise.OBL pilgrim.OBL mountain

'the mountain of the wise pilgrims'

But not in the conjunct accusative, which only the head noun can mark:

ni kovora zizbo a-ŋŋi-vov-ğo

1sg noisy chicken.CONJ 3-see-NEG.PL-DIR

'I didn't see my noisy chickens.'

Postpositions take the oblique:

ni ni irov no ŋiyo zviko a-ki-ğo

1sg my husband.OBL DAT new cutlery 3-give-DIR

'I gave my husband new cutlery'.

vi ftira kazip ğiziz motso kobav ña kayamo Ø-tağ-iv

the ugly.NOM traveller.NOM knife.OBL with branch.OBL from walking.stick.CONJ 3-cut-HRS

'The ugly traveller cut his walking stick from a branch with a knife (so they say).'