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Period c. -500 YP
Spoken in northern Peninsula
Total speakers
Writing system
Classification Peninsular languages
Basic word order SOV
Morphology agglutinating
Alignment NOM-ACC with tripartite elements in the voice system
Created by 4pq1injbok

Kibülʌiṅ kejare' , or Kibülʌiṅ for short, was spoken by the Kigibül in the northern parts of Oiṅram, the Peninsula of eastern Peilaš (marked in light green here). It is a first-order descendant of Proto-Peninsular.

The speakers' endonym, kibül in its base form, is derivationally related to the name Kibüri of a river in the territory. These have the correct form to be a continuation of a Proto-Peninsular animate noun *kipul-xa and participle *kipul-r-i.


Phonemic inventory


labial alveolar sibilant palatal velar glottal
nasal m n ŋ
faucalised stop t͈s
plain stop p t ts k (ʔ)
aspirated stop
voiceless fricative s h
voiced fricative β ɣ
trill / approximant l r j (ɥ) (w)

It might be argued that /β/ and /h/ are a single phoneme, as they occur in complementary distribution and sometimes alternate. This sketch doesn't take that position.

The phonemic status of [w] is also somewhat questionable, and [ɥ] is extremely marginal.

Plain /ts/ is restricted to loans, although some of these are well integrated, and the output of productive defaucalisation.

Some speakers render /β/ as [b], but the analogous rendering of /ɣ/ as [g] appears not to occur (except in a special forceful speech mode, when among other changes both become stops).

At the phonetic level, every final consonant is either glottalised or sustained. Glottalised final consonants are limited to [ʔ ŋˀ lˀ rˀ]. This is the only occurrence of [ʔ]. (In a few varieties, [ŋˀ] has [ʔ] with nasalisation of the preceding vowel as a permissible realisation.)

By contrast every nonglottal consonant can occur sustained. Voiced sustained consonants are pronounced somewhat lengthened, and voiceless ones with a noticeable aspiration or whispered vowel; sustained plain stops and aspirated stops tend to fall together.

Phonemically, the glottalised consonants are the truly word-final ones, while the sustained consonants are followed by /ʌ/.

Plain /ts/ is written as c, the faucalised stops with doubled letters pp tt cc kk, the aspirates as ph th kh, the voiced fricatives as b g (that being simpler than ƀ ǥ), /ɥ/ as , and the remaining consonants as in the IPA. For final consonants, glottalisation and glottal stop alone are written ' . In this description, for maximal clarity, sustention is denoted by underlining, but this may be omitted.


front unround front round back unround back round
high i i y ü u u
low-mid ɛ e ʌ ʌ ɔ o
low ɑ a

In addition all of these vowels occur long and nasalised and both, for a total of 28 vowel segments. There are also closing diphthongs, consisting of any short vowel plus any offglide /i y u/, except that vowel plus like offglide does not occur, becoming a long vowel. (These could equally be analysed as vowels plus [j ɥ w].)

Final /ʌ/ is not realised as a vowel, but as consonant sustention (see above).

In closed syllables, especially unstressed ones, short vowels are somewhat centralised.

Some varieties lack /y/ entirely (and [ɥ] too, of course), changing it throughout to /u/, or to /i/.

The vowels are written as the bold entries in the table. Vowel length is denoted by a macron, and nasalisation by . Diphthongs are written as vowel sequences.


Syllable structure is (C)([lr])V(C).

Vowels do not occur in hiatus. Hiatus where the first vowel is high is prevented by inserting a semivowel (except that in some contexts two identical high vowels fuse to long), and where the first vowel is low by smoothing to a diphthong (if the second vowel is high) or a long copy of the second vowel (if low) (but the first vowel if the second is ʌ). If one of the hiatic vowels was nasal, both of the resulting ones are. If the first vowel was long, it contracts to short.

High vowels do not occur in unstressed closed syllables (they have been rephonemicised as mid, on account of centralisation).

h only occurs initially, and b ẅ cannot occur initially, while w occurs initially only in words built on the animate copular stem weṅr, and loans. Possible underlying final consonants are /p t k s m n ŋ l r/, which collapse to ' ŋ' l' r' under glottalisation: phonemically [ʔ] is the neutralisation of final /p t k s/, and [ŋˀ] of final /m n ŋ/. When citing a form ending in one of these, I'll place the underlying final C after it as a superscript. Note that in certain cases this final C is not the historically justified one.

Legal complex onsets are plain stops plus l r. Legal consonant clusters are homorganic nasal + nasal, (plain?) stop, or s; nasal + l r; s + plain stop or s; l r + stop or s; and all clusters obtained by placing an l r after a final plain stop in one of these. However, in no case may an alveolar directly precede l.

Two liquids l r cannot occur consecutively, in coda and onset of the same syllable, or in onsets of successive syllables (except in a few cases where the second onset is complex). When they would, the first one deletes (except that when this would cause too much loss of root integrity, sometimes a glide or g is inserted in its place).

A word cannot contain two faucalised stops; the second one will defaucalise.


Word stress falls in each word on the first syllable of the root. Note that in words with prefixing reduplication the last copy of the root-initial syllable is the 'genuine' one.

Morphophonemic effects

Stem-final unclustered /p t ts k s/ become b j j g r before a vowel-initial suffix. The same happens in some case to these sounds (when unclustered) stem-initially after prefixes, as well as /h/ > b, but these cases will be noted individually.

When I introduce a consonant-initial suffix with an initial superscript vowel, this is the vowel that (surfacely) is inserted / (phomenically) replaces the underlying final /ʌ/ of the base when it is suffixed. For example the stem min 'woman', used as a verbal base 'marry (a woman)' and taking the negative suffix -en, forms minen-.

In many contexts, i+ʌ u+ʌ change to e o rather than inserting a glide, and u+i smoothes to ǖ, and ʌ+i is coloured to ei.

Many stems have separate prevocalic and preconsonantal allomorphs: mostly the preconsonantal allomorph inserts a vowel before a stem-final resonant. These alternations will be specified in the lexicon.

Stem-initial reduplication

Stem-initial reduplication is a process with a couple morphological functions. It consists of reduplication of the first (C)(C)V of the stem: this includes only the first part of any diphthong and the short form of a long vowel. Reduplication causes a predictable lenition of newly intervocalic stem-initial plain obstruents, as well as deletion of any l r in the reduplicated syllable. If the stem is vowel-initial, reduplication lengthens this vowel. (If the stem starts with a long vowel already, the reduplicated form is identical to the base.)

Often the vowel of the reduplicant is altered, though at the time of this description analogy has begun to smooth over this variation (moreso in the noun than in the verb, and moreso in variations between u and ü than between non-high vowels). Thus küla 'pig' has the standard (reduplicating) plural kugüla and the innovative plural kügüla.

Sound changes

The sound changes from Proto-Peninsular to Kibülʌiṅ are here.

Nominal morphosyntax

The noun phrase was head-last, although against this general rule quantifiers were placed after the head noun (something found also in sister languages of the period). The typical order of the elements of the noun phrase was

  1. one possible demonstrative determiner
  2. one possible noun or relative clause in apposition
  3. genitive nouns and postpositional phrases
  4. the head noun
  5. one possible quantifier


  • suwar' kāre-sk-r-i huga' ni te~jaroŋ' maru large-stat-rel-bg tree at pl~leaf three
    'those three large leaves on the tree'

In a noun phrase containing a heavy relative clause, the demonstrative may be repeated after the relative clause.

Doubling the head noun (as a separate word) yields the sense 'Ns all over the place'.

  • taroŋ' taroŋ' gar-i
    leaf leaf be.inan-bg
    'There are leaves everywhere.'


The only truly inflectional category marked on the noun is number, which shows a simple singular / plural contrast. The singular is the base form. Plurality marking is optional but common for inanimates and obligatory for animates.

Plurality is marked by stem-initial reduplication.

Kibülʌiṅ also has two genitive clitics which encliticise onto nouns. Genitive particles do not cause obstruent lenition, though they do prevent final C glottalisation, and they do undergo hiatus resolution. (These differ from postpositions in several ways: postpositions don't cliticise; these clitic markers do not correspond to any object voice of the verb.)

  • The partitive-genitive pgen ʌṅ was used only to modify relationship nouns, parts, materials, and quality abstractions for permanent qualities.
  • The genitive gen iṅ was used for all other genitive functions for animates.

The distinction between the genitive and the partitive genitive was sometimes taken to be one defined less in terms of semantic alienability and more in terms of two classes of nouns. Thus e.g. one might see

  • hʌ̄ṅ taroŋ'
    1sg.pgen leaf
    'my leaf'

with the partitive-genitive, since leaves are prototypical parts of things (in this case trees), never mind that a human speaker would not possess a leaf inalienably.

That said, inanimates were only ever placed in the partitive-genitive.

Not a case particle but worth mentioning is the vocative .


Genitives are expressed affixally, in fact fusionally, with pronouns. Pronouns also have a special accusative, used when they're semantic patient or theme, independently of voice of the verb.

base acc m pgen gen
haṅre hʌ̄ṅŋ' hʌ̄ṅ heṅŋ' n 1st exclusive singular
hāṅr' hʌṅrʌŋ' hāṅrʌṅ hāṅriṅ 1st exclusive plural
haṅr haṅrʌ̄ŋ' haṅrʌ̄ṅ haṅrʌiṅ 1st inclusive singular
haṅgar' haṅrʌŋ' haṅgarʌṅ haṅgariṅ 1st inclusive plural
nare nagʌŋ' nagʌṅ naiṅ 2nd singular
nagar' narʌŋ' nagarʌṅ nagariṅ 2nd plural
ere eŋ' ijʌṅ 3rd inanimate singular
ijar' irʌŋ' irʌṅ 3rd inanimate plural
egare egʌ̄ŋ' egāṅ egaiṅ 3rd animate singular
egār' erʌŋ' egārʌṅ egāriṅ 3rd animate plural
oṅjoṅre oṅjuṅwʌṅ reflexive inanimate singular
oṅjuṅwaṅr' oṅjuṅwaṅrʌṅ reflexive inanimate plural
oware owāṅ owaiṅ reflexive animate singular
owār' owārʌṅ owāriṅ reflexive animate plural

The form I've called "1st inclusive singular" has the meaning 'I and thou', and contrasts with the 1st exclusive plural which is used only for groups of 3 or more including speaker and listener(s).

Use of the reciprocal pronouns alone is enough to mark a clause as reciprocal; the verb did not inflect for this category.

For the singular pronouns formed in -re, one also sometimes finds clipped forms without the -re, mostly when semantic agent or experiencer in subject position. (This is probably not a continuation of the Proto-Peninsular alternates without the singulative, but an independent reinvention, or perhaps it reflects influence of pre-Lotoka.)


The demonstratives mark three degrees of distance. The proximal demonstratives also have cataphoric use. For anaphoric uses one tends to use the third person pronouns (above).

The first table records the determiner forms. For every form in this table a corresponding freestanding pronoun exists as well, formed entirely regularly by prefixing i and turning any initial obstruent into a faucalised stop (the result is stressed on the second syllable). For instance, the singular pronouns are ikkore iccore ijare ippare. The distal pronouns thus end up rather similar to the third person pronouns, and in most daughter languages the two sets have fallen together, or at least become confused.

proximal medial distal question
kore sore jare ppare inanimate singular
kuwar' suwar' jār' ppār' inanimate plural
kogare sogare jagare ppagare animate singular
kogār' sogār' jagār' ppagār' animate plural

The next table lists adverbial forms. In these there are only two distance distinctions in the time forms, and only the interrogative form for manner / means. They require grounding suffixes when used adverbially (but have some deployments as nouns without these suffixes).

proximal medial distal question
künu- sünu- jenʌ- ppeni- location
kumʌ- imʌ- ppʌmʌ- time
ppenʌ- manner, means

The adverbs e- 'therefore', ka- 'very', kaṅjuṅ- 'to such a degree (that)', and kka- 'like, as' = the reported speech introducer (all of which take grounding markers) were diachronically formed of demonstrative elements, but there is little reason to regard them as part of this system synchronically.

Quantifiers, numbers

The principal non-numeral quantifiers were sume 'all', per 'many', tige' 'some', tigijǖṅ 'no', ppej 'how many', ...

Kibülʌiṅ has a base 10 number system.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
unit ttej ttʌtu maru loi treṅ' s mʌmer' nartʌṅ elo tilutt trej
x10 trej ppē-tre mau-tre loi-tre tēṅ-tre mʌme-tre nartʌṅ-tre elo-tre tilutte-tre peitt
subtrahend tta-tʌmiṅ ppara-tʌmiṅ maru-tʌmiṅ loi-tʌmiṅ

A subtractive formation is used obligatorily for numbers ending in 8 or 9 (with nonzero tens digit), and occasionally for those ending in 6 and 7 also. Subtractive numbers look like

  • tta-tʌmiṅ mʌme-tre
    1-without 6-10

Other two-digit numbers are additive in an unremarkable way.

  • elo-tre-tt maru
    8-10-and 3

Multiples of 100 use juxtaposition: loi peitt 'four hundred'.

The alternate stem ppar for 2 is from PPen *kpa-ra. (The forms in which it first supplanted ttʌtu seem to be those which otherwise would've had three successive dental stop onsets -- a dangerous situation, since haplology would make the forms confusible with those for 1.)

Numbers derive adverbial forms 'n times' by sticking on a grounding suffix: ttejʌ-u/i 'once', ttʌt-ū/ǖ 'twice', etc. For 'n by n' the whole stem of the number is reduplicated and the second one is adverb-marked: ttʌtu ttʌt-ū/ǖ 'two by two' etc.

The numbers greater than one derive nouns meaning 'a group of n', prototypically a group of people but usable for other groups as well. Numbers 3 and greater use the suffix -ʌpi' for this; 2 uses an old dual form pittaṅr 'group of two'.


There are several basic postpositions.

Kibülʌiṅ far prefers to mark argument roles on the verb with an applicative marker (see below). When it is necessary to provide an adjunct adpositional phrase modifying a verb — generally, when the verb already has two arguments, neither of them patient/theme — this adjunct will be placed clause-initially, and the postposition will be suffixed by -ʌmʌ̄.

That said, these postpositions are still the unmarked strategy for modifying a nominal head.

  • ŋi indicated the recipient, donor, or beneficiary.
  • üṅj indicated the instrument or means.
  • ni indicated the general locative, 'at', as well as some circumstances and causes, and had many idiomatic deployments, including some of the subjective viewpoint functions of PPen tha.
  • eṅlu indicated the inessive, 'in, inside'. It took on the more genitival of the functions of Proto-Peninsular thu: so from ŋüja 'forest' we get ŋüja eṅlu 'of/from the forest, sylvan'.
  • ʌnni indicated the allative, 'to, towards', and was used for purposes.
  • ŋʌnni indicated the illative, 'into'.
  • īṅr' indicated the ablative, '(away) from'. (< PPen hiçn-r-, losing its phase as it switched to postposition)
  • niüṅj indicated the prolative or perlative, 'through', 'along', as well as more abstractly 'according to'.
  • iṅrīṅ indicated the comitative 'together with, in the company of', and also had apudessive functions 'next to'. (< PPen riçŋs-niç, with a syncope)
  • ttʌmiṅ indicated the caritive 'without', 'except for', and in certain constructions had malefactive force.
  • th (yup! ~= [tʰə˳]) indicated the standard of comparison. (This postposition bore the entire semantic load of the comparison construction. Comparatives such as they existed in Kibülʌiṅ were simply predicates construed with this postposition's object voice: kārʌ- 'be large' -> thʌ-kārʌ- 'be larger than'.)

For more precise locative senses that don't appear on this list, one uses nouns with conventional locative meanings:

  • hugak-ʌṅ phakri ni
    tree-pgen back at
    'behind a tree', lit. 'at the back of a tree'.

Unlike in Proto-Peninsular, nominal predications require no postposition.

  • haṅre thēr-ō weṅr-i
    1sg fisher-male
    'I am a fisherman'

Verbal morphosyntax

Structure of the verb

The template for the verb is as follows (on two lines so the tables aren't horizontally squished).

-2. Object voice -1. Success -1/2. Stem
0. STEM 1/2. Stem suffix
any postposition,
or none
unmarked: Ø
unsuccessful: miṅ
unmarked: Ø
habitual: 2x redup
STEM nonpast: Ø
past: various
1. Subject voice 2. Static 3. Polarity 4. Mood 5. Syntactic
6. Grounding
zero: Ø
ergative: er
accusative: icc
anticausative: (a)l
inverse: (j)ēr
unmarked: Ø
static: (ʌ)esk
affirmative: Ø
negative: en / iṅ

indicative: Ø
irrealis: a(g)
optative: aŋ / ʌṅ
potential: e
prob.: (a)akimēl
hyperprob.: (a)akūṅbi

finite: Ø
gerund: (a)ak
relative: (a)r
foreground: u
background: i / ʌ
imperative: e

The prefixes of slots -2 and -1 never cause obstruent lenition, but all suffixes surfacing in vowel-initial forms do cause lenition. None of the stops in affixes in bold in this table get lenited themselves.

The allomorphs of the negative and the optative are respectively postvocalic / postconsonantal.

The g of the irrealis appears only before ʌ. Underlying (i.e. glottalised in the stem form) final consonants of object voice markers are deleted when they would form an illegal cluster.

The vowels of the static, gerund, probabilitive and hyperprobabilitive appear only to break up invalid clusters, while the a of the anticausative appears after any consonant, and the a of the relative is only absent directly after the static sk (not even after vowels). However, when the static sk is directly followed by the gerund or the probabilitive and hyperprobabilitive (which diachronically contain it), the expected -sk-ak[...] tends to be telescoped to -sk[...]. (In other words, the gerund is often invisible after the static.)

The j of the inverse only appears when the inverse would fall together with the ergative otherwise, for instance after stem-final nonhigh vowels: but in some varieties it appears always.

Of the two background morphs, i appears in the indicative and ʌ elsewhere.

Argument roles and voice

A prototypical clause in Kibülʌiṅ has up to two noun phrase arguments, a subject and an object. If an object appears, a subject must. Both subject and object can correspond to a wide variety of semantic roles. Their roles are specified in the clause by a pair of voice-marking slots on the verb, in a mostly orthogonal fashion.

The names of the subject voices are chosen to agree with those standard in Peninsular philology when that's not misleading. Their functions are as follows.

  • Zero voice means the subject is experiencer or force, or intransitive argument of a non-volitional predicate. It is used for what would otherwise be standard agent+patient clauses when the putative agent has low volition and low control of the situation. It is also used for a somewhat wider selection of roles in 2S clauses (below).
  • Ergative voice means the subject is agent (volitional / controlling).
  • Accusative voice means the subject is patient, recipient, beneficiary, or transitive theme.
  • Anticausative voice can be considered a marked variant of the accusative voice, used to emphasise that no agent exists. It often connotes that the event is accidental and/or undesirable.
  • Inverse voice is anomalous: though formally a subject voice, it means that the object is agent. In inverse voice clauses the subject can take any of the roles proper to the zero or accusative voices, and the subject's role is not further marked. (This voice arose from a sequence *ixr-as: seemingly this should be analysed as a construction to emphasise the agency of the agent demoted to object in an erstwhile causative.)

The object voices, which are more or less applicatives in that they don't increase valence, have markers formally identical with the postpositions. Any postposition can appear in this slot, giving its role to the object of the verb. When the object has one of the core roles, or there is no object, the object voice slot is empty.

If a given transitive clause could be set with its arguments in either of two orders, the subject will be chosen as the more topical and the object as the more focussed.

Ditransitive clauses also exist, and have two objects not distinguished syntactically. In these, one of the two objects must be a patient or theme. The patient / theme is generally the first of the two objects, but may be the second. Voice affixes pertain to the other object.

Pronouns are unique in having an accusative form, used when they're semantic patient or theme. The accusative just replaces the base form where appropriate; voice behaves as normal.

  • hʌ̄ṅŋ' ŋij-iṅj-icc-u
    1sg.acc bite-past-accv-fg
    'I got bitten'

The clauses I call 2S clauses are the continuant of the Proto-Peninsular 'double-subject' construction. In Kibülʌiṅ they are normal transitive or ditransitive clauses, having only one subject (thus the more symbolic name), but this subject often has the role of a possesser of the object or merely some sort of circumstance.

  • su huga' te~jaroŋ' kāre-sk-u
    that tree pl~leaf large-stat-fg
    'the leaves of that tree are large' / '(as for) that tree, its leaves are large'
  • su huga' te~jaroŋ' kü~güla mʌmpa-jēr-u
    that tree pl~leaf pl~pig eat-inv-fg
    'pigs are eating the leaves of that tree' / '(as for) that tree, pigs are eating its leaves'

Note the inverse voice in the second example, since the agent is an object.


Most of the mood morphs have different senses according to whether the static augment sk is present in the form, often alethic / epistemic without it and deontic with it. (This conflicts with other uses of sk, yes.)

  • -ŋ- optative; -sk-ŋ- reputative ('is supposed to X')
  • -lʌ- potential ('may X', alethic); -sk-lʌ- capabilitative ('is able to X')
  • -kimēl- probabilitive ('probably X'); -sk(-k)imēl- admonitive ('should X')
  • -kūṅbi- hyperprobabilitive ('must X', alethic or inferential); -sk(-k)ūṅbi- ('must X', deontic)

(In the first case, the optative might very well have its ʌṅ allomorph.)

A prohibitive is formed simply as the negative imperative, -n-e / -iṅ-jeṅ neg-imp.


Grounding is a category of the verb which takes two values, foreground and background. The general function of grounding in main clauses is information-structural: a verb placed in the foreground is being focussed upon, and one in the background is not. Thus, for instance, in a narrative, the verbs detailing the main events of the story will probably be placed in the foreground, and side remarks or those setting the scene in the background.

Most adverbial elements take a grounding suffix to agree with the verb they modify. This suffix is -u for foreground and -i for background (the -ʌ morph of the background is not used on adverbs).

Only finite verbs in Kibülʌiṅ display a grounding contrast. Gerunds and relative verbs do not, though they have a grounding marker: they invariably take the background, and thus appear invariably as -(a)k-i and -(a)r-i in the indicative, and -(a)k and -(a)r in non-indicative moods. Adverbs in nominalised clauses thus also are in the background.

Imperatives, which have no sign of a grounding marker themselves, take foreground agreement (this differs from PPen).

The static marker

The static marker (ʌ)sk appears on all stative verbs, with only a few exceptions. In many cases the appearance of this marker adds no information, but there are at least some cases where it's significant:

  • lexically stative verbs (e.g. those translating adjectives) form dynamic counterparts, transitive and intransitive, by omitting the static marker which they have in uses other than these. E.g.
    • treŋu-sk-u / treŋu-¯ / treŋu-wer-u
      long-stat-fg / long-fg / long-ergv-fg
      'is long' / 'is getting longer' / 'is making (...) longer'
  • attached to many past verbs, it converts from a simple past sense to a stative or perfect of result.
    • īṅ-jej-u / īṅ-jei-sk-u
      die-past-fg / die-past-stat-fg
      'died' / 'has died', 'is dead'

The exceptions: the copulas, positive inanimate gar and animate weṅr and negative en, never take the static marker. (Neither do they take the habitual). 'Become' is accordingly rendered with special stems garuk weṅruk, with no negative analogue.

Stem modifications

Twofold stem-initial reduplication indicates a habitual aspect: mʌmpr 'eat' forms mʌmʌmʌmpr '(always) eat'. As contrasted with the habitual, the plain present stem tends to have a present continuous sense (thus the loss of the PPen continuous stems).

This two-fold reduplication has in certain constructions (especially non-finite) another productive use, similar to Merneha, which generalises the reference of clauses from single events to universal sets of such, for instance taking mʌmpr-i used as 'when (...) eats' to mʌmʌmʌmpr-i 'whenever (...) eats'. (This process is the continuation in spirit, if not exactly in form, of the PPen second augment.)

Verbs which are already reduplicated for derivational reasons only get one extra reduplicant syllable, not two, in this process, and thereby this form of reduplicated and non-reduplicated bases are identical. So kejar 'speak' and kagejar 'converse' both form the habitual kagagejar.

Most verbs, though not all, have a past form, formed with a lexically determined suffix in slot 1/2. Some verbs have multiple pasts; in these cases the extra ones tend to have extra semantic content. Most of the verbs that lack a past have a static basic sense.

The other bits

The unsuccessful marker in slot -1 adds a sense of 'unsuccessfully, with little or no effect'. (This slot is a Kibülʌiṅ remnant of the fact that postpositions in Proto-Peninsular could take -mn, and is the only remnant of mn in the verbal system. But compare also freestanding miṅ 'no'.)

Polarity, slot 3, is also straightforward. If it is desired to emphasise a negation, the construction uses the negative copula en intransitively with a gerund subject. There is negative concord: clauses with other negative elements take a negative verb.

Kibülʌiṅ has no simple aspect marking, of the perfective / imperfective contrast, per se. It is imaginable that in historical forms of the language the present grounding suffixes had more aspectual functions.

Clause-level syntax

Basic clauses

The basic clause order of Kibülʌiṅ is SOOV -- two syntactically undistinguished objects occur in ditransitive clauses. Basic adverbs with grounding agreement can move about relatively freely in the clause, so long as they don't follow the verb; the same goes for adverbial clauses, although heavier ones prefer initial position. Postpositional phrases in adverbial function (with the suffix mʌ̄) come clause-initially.

Subject pronouns can be dropped, but this is only common in intransitive clauses and singly transitive clauses with nonzero object voice or inverse voice or an accusative pronoun argument, those cases in which the result can't be confused with a clause with nothing dropped. Object pronouns cannot be dropped.

When one or both of the subject and object are heavy noun phrases, the particle mʌ̄ will often obtrude after the subject to keep the subject and object separated.


The dominant strategy for question formation is to cast the main verb in the irrealis and do nothing else (aside from a change in intonation). A longer variant, used e.g. when the speaker wants to preserve another mood on the main verb of the question, casts this verb as a gerund and as formal subject of an irrealis copula.

The post-verbal particle khʌ̄, which can appear in declaratives or questions, adds a sense of incredulity.

Gerunds and relative verbs and clauses

A clause built on a nominalised verb, which I use as a cover term for gerunds and relative verbs, functions as a noun phrase. If the verb is a gerund, the nominalised clause is an event nominalisation, while if the verb is a relative verb, then one of its at most three arguments (one subject, two objects) must appear as a gap, and the sense of the resulting relative clause is a participant nominalisation on that gap. (The relative verb is a falling together of the Proto-Peninsular participle and gamma-infinitive.)

As noted above, nominalised verbs are always in background.

Non-gapped subjects of nominalised clauses appear in the genitive (excepting inanimates, which as always only have the partitive-genitive).

It is of course a common deployment of relative clauses to stand in apposition to a head noun, but they can also stand alone and headless.

As one example deployment, names of particular tools tend to be headless relative clauses. In this particular case, against the general rules, the object voice prefix tends to be dropped, as the name is quite long enough without it. E.g.

  • kor-ʌ̄ṅ (üṅjʌ-)nüteṅr-icc-ar-i
    egg-pgen (with-)grab-accv-rel-bg
    'what eggs are grabbed with', the kind of spoon used for retrieving cooked eggs from boiling water

Adjunct and subordinate clauses

Adjunct (and disjunct) adverbial phrases are most commonly rendered as finite verbal clauses in direct apposition, and agreeing in grounding, with the main clause.

  • kāre-sk-i ki~gibül hicc mʌmʌ~mʌmp-er-i
    large-stat-bg pl~K. fish hab~eat-ergv-bg
    'The Kigibül people largely eat fish.'

A finite clause placed in direct juncture but in background when the main clause is foreground will be taken to be describing conditions or circumstances. If the adjunct is indicative the sense of the adjunct is 'when X', or 'if (as is likely) X'; if irrealis, 'if (as isn't likely) X'.

Secondary predicates are cast in the same grounding as the main clause, and take the postclitic -tt 'and' — that is, they have no special syntactic machinery, and look just like conjunctions.

Absolute constructions use a clause with a relative verb (and thus in background). An argument can but need not be gapped. When one is, the constraints on the gapping are the same as on the relative, and these absolute constructions are generally equally analysable as relative constructions.

  • taroŋ' sume mʌmpr-iṅj-a-¯r-i küla ijuk-hü-ẅer-u
    leaf all eat-past-ergv-rel-bg pig leave-past-ergv-fg
    'Having eaten all the leaves, the pig left.'

Infinitive-type subordinate clauses are always rendered with gerunds.


Kibülʌiṅ persists in having only one conjunction, a postclitic att 'and', which can be used to coordinate noun phrases or clauses (with various patterns of gapping of parallel material possible). It comes after the first of the conjoined items.

To render 'or' with clauses, one uses -tt plus the potential mood of the verbs:

  • kāre-sk-lʌ-u-tt nibʌ-sk-lʌ-u
    large-stat-pot-fg-and small-stat-pot-fg
    '(it) is either large or small'

This has no analogue for noun phrases.

Other constructions of note

Reported speech, thoughts, and the like are formally introduced by an adverb kka-i/u, i.e. are syntactically adjuncts. They tend to be moved to clause-final position, including the introducing adverb.

Kibülʌiṅ is fond of a cognate object construction, in which the cognate object is the -iccar or -e' derivation from the verb root.

  • nare mʌmpr-e' tigʌ' mʌmpr-iṅj-er-a-u
    2sg eat-nmlzr some eat-past-accv-irr-fg
    'Did you have anything to eat?'


  • Zero-derivation, mostly yielding verbs from nouns, remains somewhat productive.
  • Conversion to adverb by attaching a grounding suffix is also reasonably productive: for instance it is the preferred way to express temporal / circumstantial notions.
    • 'day', pij-i/u 'during the day(time)'
  • -ar derives agent nouns from verbs. -iccar, combining it with accusative voice, derives patient nouns.
  • -e' t derives event nouns from verbs, and quality abstractions from static verbs; often these have concretised.
    • kejar 'say', kejare' 'speech; language'
    • thori 'fish (v)', thore' 'fishing; the quantity of fish one catches'
    • kārʌ- 'be large' derives kārē' 'growth' from its non-static stem, and kāreske' 'size' from its static; many state roots do similar.
  • -o masculine, -ʌme feminine derive nouns from nouns. Animate nouns with specific reference whose stems are unspecified for sex take one of these suffixes in most uses, even where the underived base would serve. They are also used to derive theonyms from natural objects and phenomena. (And there are some oddball uses, e.g. loguṅme 'menstruation'.)
    • thēr 'fisher', thērō 'fisherman', thērʌme 'fisherwoman'
  • -uṅweiṅ / -ʌmei (postconsonantal / postvocalic) derives nouns for places and some activity and event nouns.
    • ccerak- 'fortify', cceraguṅweiṅ 'fort'
    • thori 'fish (v)', thorimei 'fishing, qua skill'
  • -ʌr' is a relatively low-yield suffix mostly deriving collective nouns.
  • Stem-initial reduplication of the verb has a few functions. It derives sometimes a reciprocal stem, as in kejar 'say', kagejar 'converse, discuss'; sometimes a frequentative stem, as in ŋit 'bite', ŋiŋit 'chew'; sometimes an intensive, as in esor 'be weak', ēsor 'be near death'; and not uncommonly has ideosyncratic lexical function.

In addition, the lexicon records some derivatives in which these derivational affixes appear in unproductive variant forms.

Postpositions cannot be derived from (if deploying them in object voice marker position doesn't count).


Main article: Kibülʌiṅ/Lexicon


The fisherman and the fish

Piṅjʌṅ phakri ni pī nimʌ̄, arütʌṅ plāŋ' piji sume nithoriẅüẅāri thērō nibʌskri hicc ttej iṅjǖṅriccʌsku thore' tigijǖṅ thoritheriuṅ.

Hicc kejaruṅbēru kkau "Thērō lā, haṅre nibʌskri hicc thʌkāreskīṅ. Thʌkāreskri hibicc per aro' nitʌmerʌski. Hʌ̄ṅŋ' ajuberi, kāreŋkimēlk enau? Kāgāritt, hʌ̄ṅŋ' mʌmperak khelpiŋkimēlk enau? Eu, hʌ̄ṅŋ' ajubere!"

Traŋ ʌnnimirüẅāri, thērō kejaruṅbēru kkau "Miṅ'-miṅ', hicc lā. Kumei seiŋrʌski nagʌŋ' thorithērʌski. Nagʌŋ' ajuberag, nagʌŋ' thorijerak lanserʌskiṅlʌu. Eu, nagʌŋ' ajuberiuṅ."

One day, a fisherman who had been fishing at the edge of the sea all day had caught nothing but one small fish.

The fish said "O fisherman, I am only a small fish. Many larger fish live in the sea. If you threw me back, wouldn't I probably grow big? And if I grew big, wouldn't that be better for eating me? So throw me back!"

The fisherman looked heavenwards and then said "Nuh-uh, fish. I've caught you for sure now. If I were to throw you back, I couldn't catch you again. So I'm not throwing you back."

  • Pij-ʌṅ phakri ni pī nimʌ̄,
    day-pgen behind at day at-adjunct,
  • arütʌṅ plāŋ' pij-i sume ni-thori-ẅü-ẅe-ar-i thērʌ-o
    sea-pgen edge day-bg all at-fish-past-ergv-rel-bg fisher-masc
  • nibʌ-sk-r-i hicc ttej iṅjǖṅr-icc-ʌsk-u thor-e' tigijǖṅ thori-th-er-iṅ-u.
    small-stat-rel-bg fish one exclude-accv-stat-fg fishing none fish-past2-ergv-neg-fg.
  • Hicc kejar-uṅbe-er-u
    fish say-past-ergv-fg
  • kka-u "Thērʌ-o lā, haṅre nibʌ-sk-r-i hicc thʌ-kāre-sk-iṅ-i.
    quot-fg "fisher-masc voc, 1sg small-stat-rel-bg fish than-large-stat-neg-bg.
  • Thʌ-kāre-sk-r-i hi~bicc per aro' ni-tʌmer-ʌsk-i.
    than-large-stat-rel-bg pl~fish many sea at-dwell-stat-bg.
  • Hʌ̄ṅŋ' ajub-er-i, kāre-ŋ-kimēl-k-. en-a-u?
    1sg.acc fall-ergv-bg, large-neg-prob-ger-bg be.neg-irr-fg?
  • Kāga-ar-i-tt, hʌ̄ṅŋ' mʌmp-er-a-k-. khelpi-ŋ-kimēl-k-. en-a-u?
    large-rel-bg-and, 1sg.acc eat-ergv-irr-ger-bg good-neg-prob-ger-bg be.neg-irr-fg?
  • E-u, hʌ̄ṅŋ' ajub-er-e!"
    therefore-fg, 1sg.acc fall-ergv-imp!"
  • Traŋ ʌnni-mir-ü-ẅe-ar-i, thērʌ-o kejar-uṅbe-er-u
    sky to-see-past-ergv-rel-bg, fisher-masc say-past-ergv-fg
  • kka-u "Miṅ'-miṅ', hicc lā. Kume-i seiŋr-ʌsk-i nagʌŋ' thori-th-ēr-ʌsk-i.
    quot-fg "nope-nope, fish voc. now-bg secure-stat-bg 2sg.acc fish-past2-inv-stat-bg.
  • Nagʌŋ' ajub-er-ag-., nagʌŋ' thori-jer-a-k-. lans-er-ʌsk-iṅ-lʌ-u.
    2sg.acc fall-ergv-irr-bg, 2sg.acc fish-ergv-irr-ger-bg do_again-ergv-stat-neg-pot-fg.
  • E-u, nagʌŋ' ajub-er-iṅ-u."
    therefore-fg, 2sg.acc fall-ergv-neg-fg."