Dendana/Vuuyin Zayxa/Morphology

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  • nouns don't really have inflectional morphology

Proper Nouns


Adpositions in Vuuyin Zayxa may be used either with a noun or a subordinate clause, often with a slight meaning difference. They also decline for the definiteness and number of the following noun- clauses always take the singular plain definite form.

The singular definite form is always formed with <-q>, singular topical with <-qla>, singular indefinite with <-v>, plural definite with <-qnon>, plural topical with <-qnonla>, and plural indefinite with <-nonv>.

Note that the vowels may change before nasals, according to the nasalization changes.

form meaning
o locative, until
aza to, in order to
ni in (nominal only)
moqzu from, since, because
opímà in front of, after
ontavâ behind, before
ave while (clausal only)
nvavó between (nominal only)
olá under, below (nominal only)
ilu over, on top of (nominal only)
va against, despite
mexú near, about, around the time that
npu causing, so (clausal only) (becomes a 'because' suffix on prev. clause eventually)
aqfa without, rather than, unless
nte with, by
no like, as if

Articles, case markers, and demonstratives

  • DEF/INDEF, ERG/other, singular/plural
  • proximate/distal

Note that the absolutive articles have special forms after absolutive pronouns- they fuse into one entity.

ERG nzoq nzonónq nzov nzonónv
ABS l/lo, la nonq, nonq la uqse nonv

The two articles with la is used for topical or backgrounded referents, while l/lo and nonq are used for known but not topical referents. The indefinite articles are used mainly for unspecific referents.

l is used before a word beginning in a vowel, lo otherwise.

The ergative articles descend from topic markers, and plural marking from name 'some'. la is descended from a contraction of lo xǝ 'DEF.NOM PROX.NOM'. uqse is from u tse 'INDEF.NOM DIST.NOM'.



  • what (nominative): heva
  • what (accusative): hevá (used with prepositions, except for ala and no)
  • what (comitative): fahéva
  • who (nominative): yaú
  • who (accusative): yau (used with prepositions, except for ala and no)
  • who (comitative), whose: fayaú


  • what kind of: eviqsa (from ewitsa)
  • how many, how much: emozo (from emodo)


  • how: nteheva (from ntɛ + xɛwǝ)
  • how is that okay: nvomuyaú (rhetorical, angry) (from mvomu + yaú)
  • how so: nvováeviqsa (used to call into doubt the truth of a statement) (from mvɔwa + ewitsa)
  • instead of what: ala heva
  • like what: no heva
  • when: xola
  • where: yalu (must take a preposition, for example o LOC, but note exceptional form with mexu)
  • around where: mexu yalú
  • instead of who: ala yaú
  • like who: no yaú
  • why: nzova


  • absolutive pronouns are mostly obligatory to the sentence and decline for aspect
  • a subset of the absolutive pronouns, the 'partitive pronouns', are used for negative and other irrealis sentences
  • other pronouns include ergative, possessive/genitive, comitative-locative, and oblique pronouns
  • the possessive/genitive pronouns are also used as genitive markers
  • pronominal forms are generally 1s, 1p, 2s, 3s, 2/3p
  • the 2/3p distinction is often clarified with coreferential nominals and demonstratives
  • absolutive pronouns have special inflectional forms for number, specificity and topicality of a following noun phrase
  • in transitive sentences without an overt object, the ergative argument is promoted to an absolutive one (this is kind of like an antipassive)
  • example: ne thuq (PERF.1S.ABS eat) 'I ate', zoé nov miq thuq (1S.ERG PERF.3S-INDEF bread eat) 'I ate some bread', ne naza (PERF.1S.ABS sleep) 'I slept', zolenó ne moá (2S.ERG PERF.1S.ABS select) 'you picked me', zo nai ne lui moá (ERG someone PERF.1S.ABS 3S.OBL select) 'someone picked me for it, i was picked for it'

Absolutive pronouns

  • stative-habitual, perfect, imperfect, future, progressive, hypothetical, experiential
stative plain definite topic indefinite
1s xe
2s xoqôq
3s xa xaq xaqla xav
2/3p sonà sonàq sonàqla xônonv
  • (sonà is from tson-, xônonv from s-ah)
perfect plain definite topic indefinite
1s ne
2s no
3s na naq naqla nav
2/3p nzô nzôq nzoqla nônonv
  • (nzô is from n-zoh, nônonv from n-ah)
imperfect plain definite topic indefinite
1s te
2s teqoq
3s teqaq teqaq teqaqla teqaqv
2/3p teyà teyànq teyàqla teyìnonv
future plain definite topic indefinite
1s none
2s nozo
3s nona nonaq nonaqla nonav
1p nonà
2/3p nozò nozòq nozòqla nozònonv
progressive plain definite topic indefinite
1s phuyxi
2s phuyxaqoq
3s phuyxa phuyxaq phuyxaqla phuyxav
1p phuyxè
2/3p phuyxà phuyxàq phuyxàqla phuyxìnonv
hypothetical plain definite topic indefinite
1s phe
2s phoqoq
3s phova phovaq phovaqla phovav
1p phà
2/3p phovà phovàq phovàqla phovìnonv
experiential plain definite topic indefinite
1s ozole
2s ozózo
3s ozola ozolaq ozolaqla ozolav
1p ozolà
2/3p ozózò ozózòq ozózòqla ozolònonv
  • (from ɔdɔl-/ɔdol-, ozózò from ɔdo-doh, ozolònonv from ɔdɔl-ah)
Partitive pronouns
  • used for negative transitive sentences only, other negative sentences use different negation strategies
experiential plain definite topic indefinite
1s mi
2s maqoq
3s ma maq maqla mav
2/3p mâq mâqla mônonv

Ergative pronouns

1s nzoé
2s nzolenó
3s nzolóu
1p nzoví
2/3p nzovaú

Genitive pronouns

1s ahe
2s azo
3s ayu
1p ayme
2/3p â
  • used for headless possessive phrases as well as emphatic possession, following the possessed noun
1s =he
2s =zo
3s =yu
1p =(a)yme
2/3p =à/`
  • =ayme is used after a consonant, =yme after a vowel
  • =à is used after a consonant, =` is a floating tone that makes a final vowel into the low tone

Comitative-locative pronouns

1s fené
2s fazo
3s falóu
1p fenévi
2/3p favaú
  • (the 1s and 2s forms are direct from the comitative inflected preposition, others from preposition + nominative pronoun)

Oblique pronouns

1s a
2s lenó
3s luu
1p ve
2/3p váu
  • (all from BN accusative pronouns)


Fuzzy quantifiers

Note: first the inanimate form is given, then the animate form. Fuzzy quantifiers follow the nouns they modify, unless otherwise stated.

Large quantities

  • all: ehe fiya, eú fiya (from ehe, eú plus fiya 'together')
  • almost: vazúa
  • even (too): ntehávu (from ntɛxavu)
  • many: ova
  • more: neve
  • most: ixa
  • too many: nalixa (from ñalisa, precedes noun)

Medium quantities

  • at least: maxa (from masa)
  • half of: háalà (from xagala ah 'portion of', precedes noun)

Small quantities

  • any: oma (from oma)
  • each of: ehe, eú
  • few: va
  • none of: mahe, mau
  • only: seá
  • some of: nave, nau
  • too few: omáuvaa (from rɔma ubarǝ 'that which is lacking')

For 'one of', 'two of', etc., see the next section on numerical quantifiers.


Numbers above 2 and ordinals above 1 have been borrowed c. 500 YP from Southern Fáralo. Due to trade with Kasca, a second set of numbers has been borrowed more recently (c. 1300 YP) from Wippwo, which is used for many weights, times, and other measures.

The Buruya Nzaysa word kɛ'u 'one of' has been extended to the first three numbers.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
unit khe ne voxa vu zavá exa miyéma huze nila o
x10 (o) nio voxo vuo zaváo exo miyémo huzeo nilo iq
partitive khequq nequq voquq
Kascan unit khe ni voa poa tu ixa mema sona nila loa
Kascan x10 (loa) nilo voalo poalo tulo xulo menlo sonlo nulo khexa
ordinal ehe ini uvo upo utu hixa imen ison inila ulo

Numbers higher than ten are formed by saying the multiple of ten, then the unit.

Multiples of hundreds are formed by saying the multiplier in units, then iq.

'Thousand' is expressed as 'ten hundred'.

As in BN, numbers precede nouns. However, the numbers one, two, and three in the non-Kascan set may follow the nouns they modify.


  • The verb may be described as NEG/MOOD-PROX-ASP-SUBORD-stem, where ASP is aspect, PROX is proximate and SUBORD is subordinate.
  • The proximate prefix is ha-, which comes from BN xa 'this.ACC'
  • The subordinate prefix takes several forms, depending on the initial consonant of the stem. Often the initial stem consonant changes as well. In a few cases, there may be multiple options, and the correct prefix must be learned with the verb.
initial prefix changed initial
Ø nte-
Ø nt-
f nte-
f nte- Ø
h,l,v,x,y nte-
nk ntin- Ø
kh nte- h
m,n,np ntin-
nv,nz nta-
ph nte- v
s nteq-
nt ntaq- s
th nte- z
z nteq- Ø + -q

Note that the forms for nk- verbs are beginning to simplify to just a ntin- prefix.

  • verbs usually inflect for plain, inchoative, and cessative aspects, and various irrealis modes
  • these inflections take the form of prefixes
  • verbs also take a negative prefix (this applies to almost all negative clauses: the exception is negative hortative/imperative sentences)

inchoative: tha-/thon- cessative: avo(va)-/avon- negative: ma-/mon- (precedes other verb prefixes)

  • ne thonáza 'I fell asleep' (PERF.1S.ABS INCHO-sleep)
  • ne monáza 'I didn't sleep' (PERF.1S.ABS NEG-sleep)
  • ne avothúq 'I finished eating' (PERF.1S.ABS CESS-eat)
  • mathontináza 'not falling asleep' (NEG-INCHO-SUBORD-sleep)
  • mahathontináza 'not falling asleep like this' (NEG-PROX-INCHO-SUBORD-sleep)


  • usually created through noun-like constructions with the genitive enclitic =à/`
  • xinì ako (apple=GEN.3P sweet) 'sweet apple'