| Ndok Aisô |
|Period||c. 0-250 YP|
|Writing system|| adapted |
|Classification|| Edastean |
|Basic word order||SVO|
|Created by|| v1.0 by ghur;|
v2.0 by Dunomapuka & Cedh
Ndok Aisô [n̩ˈdok̚ ˈaj.sɞ] is a language descended from Ndak Ta and spoken by the Ndok people of Lasomo (native: Axôltseubeu). While boasting a large number of speakers, its existence as a language was never standardized in the manner of its sisters Adāta and Fáralo. This language sketch is based on writings from the second half of the 13th Dynasty of Ngahêxôldod (ca. 250 YP); the major differences between this and the other main prestige variety, that of the city of Oigop'oibauxeu, will be discussed briefly. While the southern variety described here was extinct by 500 YP at the latest, being displaced principally by Adāta, the northern dialects survived in pockets for at least a millennium beyond this.
- 1 Genealogy
- 2 Sound Changes from Ndak Ta
- 3 Phonology
- 4 Nouns
- 5 Pronouns and Determiners
- 6 Adjectives
- 7 Verbs
- 7.1 Mood and Polarity
- 7.2 Voice, Tense, Aspect, and Number
- 7.3 The Copula
- 7.4 The Proverb
- 7.5 Ergative Verbs
- 7.6 Usage
- 8 Syntax
- 8.1 Noun Phrase Syntax
- 8.2 Clause Syntax
- 9 Samples
- 10 See Also
- Proto-Macro-Edastean (c. -4000 YP)
- Proto-Talo-Edastean (c. -2500 YP)
- Xoronic languages
Sound Changes from Ndak Ta
Ndak Ta to Pre-Ndok ca. -1000.
1. All vowels should henceforth be treated as phonemically nasalized before /m n ŋ ŋʷ/, with occasional exceptions such as omo "mother" [o.mo] and likewise its derivative Latsomo. Nasal vowels were laxed in Ndak Ta, and the dialect that gave rise to Ndok Aisô had this feature, but it apparently lacked the rule that /a e i ai au/ were laxed in closed syllables.
2. /a/ raises to /æ/, and /e/ raises to /æj/, before non-final /k g/.
3. Remaining /a/ merges with /o/ into /ɒ/, and /ai au/ merge to /ɒj/. Nasal vowels, and any vowels before /r/, are unaffected.
4. Final syllabic nasals as in mabm "mouth" are dropped.
5. Non-initial /m n ŋ/ (exceptions follow) merge with /b d g/ and /ŋʷ/ becomes /gʷ/, but preceding vowels remain nasalized. /mb mbʷ nd ŋg/ become geminate voiced stops /bb bbʷ dd gg/. But geminate nasals as in ammi "fly" simplify to single nasals without undergoing fortition to plosives. A preceding /r/ blocks denasalization, perhaps via assimilation to a geminate nasal (mpurnim > *mpunnim > *mpunĩb). Word-medial nasals also fail to denasalize if the preceding syllable begins with a nasal or voiced plosive at the same place of articulation (ndenam > ndẽnãb). /mp nt nʦ ŋk ŋkʷ/ remain unaffected too. New clusters assimilate in voicing; for example /sm/ > /sb/ > /sp/; /pŋ/ > /pg/ > /pk/.
6. Sporadically, there is a tendency for initial CV syllables to switch to VC, as in Latsomo > *ɒlʦɒbɒ, or Tsinakan > *itsdækãd. This is occasionally attested with medial syllables, as in Ngkeladadn > *ŋkeɒldɒd.
7. Around this time, stress shifts to the final syllable if it is closed, otherwise to the penultimate.
8. Various cluster changes and simplifications: /kt/ > /ks/, /dg/ > /g/, /pk/ > /k/.
9. Any vowel hiatus is broken up with a glottal stop: *ŋkeɒldɒd > *ŋkeʔɒldɒd (this is a continuing synchronic phonological rule in the language). But /aw/ or /æw/ followed by a vowel remain as they are, the /w/ becoming an intervocalic consonant: Sau Ibli "Huyfárah" > *sɒwibli (later sagibleu).
10. Intervocalic /k g ŋ/ become /χ/.
The break between these two sections has been chosen to coincide with the period of major borrowing from Meshi.
Pre-Ndok to Ndok Aisô ca. 250.
11. /ɒ/ breaks to /əw/ in open syllables. In stressed (that is, final) closed syllables it becomes /o/, and in unstressed closed syllables it becomes a lax rounded phoneme reflected as /ɞ/ in the modern dialect. Any /əww/ simplifies to /əw/, and thence to /aw/: mbwawe "push" > *mbwɒwe > *mbwawe (later nggage).
12. /æ/ raises to /e/, but if there is already an /e/ in the next syllable, it becomes /a/. /æj æw/ always become /aj aw/.
13. Denasalization of nasal vowels: /ã/ > /a/, /ẽ ĩ/ > /ɛ/, /õ/ > /o/, /ũ/ > /u/, /ãi/ > /aj/, /ãw/ > /aw/.
14. /bʷ/ backs to /gʷ/ (and mbʷ to ŋgʷ).
15. Intervocalic /w/ fortifies to /gʷ/.
16. Any sequence of consonant + /w/ becomes C + /ɞʔ/: *mpɒiswəw "fish" > *mpɒisɞʔəw. This does not affect labiovelars /kʷ gʷ ŋʷ/.
17. Labiovelars become plain velars: /kʷ gʷ ŋʷ/ > /k g ŋ/.
18. The geminate voiced stops /bb dd gg/ shift to new fortis phonemes written p' t' k' and pronounced as aspirates by most speakers, but as ejectives in some rural northern dialects.
19. Non-initial /mp nt nʦ ŋk/ become /f s s χ/.
20. Intervocalic and word-final /r/ become /ʔ/.
21. /əw/ shifts to /ɛw/ and /ɒj/ to /ɔj/.
22. Final /i u/ diphthongize to /iə uə/. This change is blocked in monosyllables.
23. /e/ lowers to /ɛ/ after /χ/ (and sporadically before /χ/).
24. Final /t/ and /d/ weaken to /ʔ/. Other final plosives tend to be unreleased.
25. Non-final coda /r/ is dropped.
26. Intervocalic voiced stops lenite: /b d g/ > [β ð ɣ].
27. Any unstressed initial /o ɞ wo/ become /wɞ/.
Further changes in the dialect of Ngahêxôldod.
- /χ/ has weakened to /h/.
- /ɛ/ is normally centralized - see note on pronunciation under phonology.
- < p' t' k' > are aspirates.
- /iə uə/ merge with /ɛw ɔj/.
Further changes in the dialect of Oigop'oibauxeu.
- Ngah. /ɛ ɞ/ corresponds to Oig. /ɛ ɔ/.
- < p' t' k' > are aspirates.
- /iə uə/ merge with /ɛ ɔ/.
- /ɛ/ has become /ɔ/ when adjacent to a former labiovelar (so Ngah. gêp'oi = Oig. gôp'oi).
- Clusters of plosive + /r/ have merged with the aspirates.
Further changes to Northwestern (Bwimbai Valley) dialects.
- /χ/ has become a pharyngeal /ħ/.
- < p' t' k' > are ejectives.
- Rules 21-27 above are absent.
- /ɛ/ and /ɞ/ have merged into a single /ə/.
|fricative||f||s · z||h|
- /pʰ tʰ kʰ ʦ ʔ ŋ ɾ/ are written p' t' k' ts x ng r.
- t or d also represent /ʔ/ morpheme-finally; the spelling choice is etymological.
- Otherwise, all consonants are written as in IPA.
- /z/ does not occur in words inherited directly from Ndak Ta.
- The mid-open vowels /ɛ ɞ/ are written ê ô.
- All other vowels are written as in IPA.
|eu [ɛw]||oi [ɔj]|
|au [aw]||ai [aj]|
- The lax vowels denoted ê ô are extremely unstable phonetically; we mark them as /ɛ ɞ/ in accordance with the norm in Ngahêxôldod. The former may manifest as any of [ɛ ɛ̈ ɜ ə], the latter as [ɞ ɵ ɔ œ œ̈].
- /i u/ lax to [ɪ ʊ] in closed syllables.
- Intervocalic /b d g/ become [β ð ɣ].
- Furthermore, the above rule may apply across word boundaries, though this may be avoided in careful speech.
- All plosives in word-final position are unreleased (these being /p b k g/, as all /t d/ have become /ʔ/). The voiced stops may even be implosivized.
Stress and Phonotactics
- Syllables are of the structure (C)V(C). Clusters are limited to nasal + stop in initial position. Final clusters are not permitted; medial clusters are mostly unrestricted.
- Consonants in medial clusters must match in voicing. A single exception is the name Êtsdehad with an apparent /ʦd/ cluster, but [ʦd] only occurs as a spelling pronunciation in upper registers. The more common pronunciation is simply [ʦt].
- Syllabic nasals occur only before a homorganic stop in initial position.
- The glottal stop has phonemic status, and can occur in intervocalic or final position.
- Stress usually falls on the final syllable if it is closed; on the penult, if it is open.
- Exceptions to the above come from insertion of epenthetic vowels and various borrowings. In these irregular cases the accented syllable is marked with an acute.
- Intonation of words is rather flat. The stressed syllable is pronounced at a slightly lower pitch. If the stressed syllable is open, it is lengthened noticeably.
- t'êl [tʰɛ̈l] fruit
- maisa [ˈma:j.sa] cows' milk
- mpóisôxeu [mˈpɔ:j.sɞ.ʔɛw] fish
- euba [ˈɛ:w.βa] to be a nuisance
- gêk’oitsoi [gɛ̈ˈkʰɔ:j.ʦɔj] inheritance
- Ngahêxôldod [ŋa.hɛ̈.ʔɞlˈdoʔ] a major city
- Oigop'oibauxeu [ɔj.ɣo.pʰɔjˈβa:w.ʔɛw] a major city
- Êtsdehad [ɛ̈ʦ.deˈhaʔ] a deity; the Ndak emperor Tsinakan
While personal pronouns distinguish between nominative, accusative and genitive cases, nouns in Ndok Aisô are not marked for case. There is, however, the so-called antigenitive inflection, which marks a noun that is possessed or subordinately associated to another (and thus glossed as poss "possessed"): noun1.poss noun2 can be translated as "noun1 of noun2."
The antigenitive is marked by suffixing -a; or -xa after a vowel. Ultimately this morpheme derives from NT âk. It shifts the accent to the syllable directly preceding it.
- kehad bean → kehada a bean of...
- mpep breasts → mpepa breasts of...
- goideu rabbit → goideuxa the rabbit of...
Normally, -o- before a final consonant breaks to -eu-, and final -k -g weaken to -h-.
- mbop music → mbeupa music of...
- mudok dream → mudeuha dream of...
- daig mountain → daiha mountain of...
A few nouns ending in a voiced plosive change this to the corresponding nasal in the antigenitive, with preceding -i- -e- changing to -ê-, preceding -oi- changing to either -ai- or -au-, and some instances of -o- changing to -a-.
- mob mouth → mama mouth of...
- wed vegetable → wêna vegetable of...
When final -eu -oi descend from earlier -i -u, the vowel reverts to its monophthong form before the antigenitive marker.
- auseu river → ausixa river of...
- exiboi tyrant → exibuxa tyrant of...
The possessor occurs in its normal absolute form, following the possessed.
- mpepa met the woman's breasts
- tsisa idau the nobleman's dog
Do not translate English "of" too literally; this construction should not be used if the two nouns are in a purely appositive relationship.
- mos Ngahêxôldod the city of Akelodo (not *meusa Ngahêxôldod)
The antigenitive is also not used when the possessor is indicated with a genitive pronoun.
- woi ngufeu "my cat" (not *ngufeuxa woi)
If the possessed item is expressed by a complex construction which contains e.g. adjectives or prepositional phrases, the antigenitive marker acts like a clitic that attaches to the last word of the noun phrase (this is similar to the behaviour of English "-'s" in the construction "the Queen of England's hat", but the possessive relationship is the other way around).
- tsis laixeu a young dog → tsis laixixa idau the young dog of the nobleman
- ngufeu noi ndoi the cat on the tree → ngufeu noi ndoixa met the woman's cat on the tree
Ndok Aisô distinguishes two plural forms on nouns. These are marked by prefixes, which we will separate from the root by a hyphen: na- marks the paucal plural (derived from NT namê "some"), and o- marks the general plural (derived from omba "many"). Generally, the former indicates between two and ten items, or emphasizes a less-than-expected number; the latter, which is semantically the less marked of the two, indicates more than about ten, or a more-than-expected number, or an unknown or indefinite quantity. Plural prefixes are not used in conjunction with cardinal numbers.
- na-pop men (a few)
- o-pop men (a crowd; or as a generalization)
- na-sêb sheep (a few; less than a flock)
- o-sêb sheep (a lot; the whole flock)
- na-Ndok Ndok people (some particular subset; a few of them)
- o-Ndok Ndok people (a large mass; or the entire population)
Some nouns indicating natural pairs, especially pairs of body parts, which would have been marked with the dual in Ndak Ta, are morphologically singular in Ndok Aisô, though they take dual possessive forms. The singular may also indicate one part of the pair, so this may be differentiated by saying "a single eye," "one eye," etc.
- oldoi eye; the eyes
- o-oldoi eyes (of various people)
- woi oldoi my eye
- woig oldoi my eyes (not *woig na-oldoi)
The plural prefixes never affect the word accent.
The Consonant Mutation
A process common enough in Ndok Aisô morphophonology, and whose most common application is in marking plurals, the consonant mutation changes initial voiceless prenasalized stops into fricatives with the addition of a prefix. In addition, initial /ɾ/ and most instances of initial /w/ undergo mutation to /ʔ g/.
- mp nt nts ngk → f s s h
- r w → x g
- mpóisôxeu fish (sg) → na-fóisôxeu, o-fóisôxeu fish (pl)
- ntêga penis → na-sêga, o-sêga penises
- ntse vital fluids (of one person) → na-se, o-se vital fluids (of several, many)
- ngkaifoig aftereffect → na-haifoig, o-haifoig aftereffects
- runok priest → na-xunok, o-xunok priests
- wêbes friend → na-gêbes, o-gêbes friends
However, instances of /w/ originating from recent vowel breaking are dropped instead of being fortified:
- wôkrebeu candle → na-ôkrebeu, o-ôkrebeu candles
Pronouns and Determiners
Ndok Aisô has nominative, accusative and genitive personal pronouns, distinguishing singular, plural, and dual numbers. The nom and acc forms descend directly from Ndak Ta, while the genitives derive from demonstratives - near-me semantically shifting to "my," near-you to "your," and far-from-either to "his/her."
|1st person||2nd person||3rd person|
The ordinal prefix descends from the NT definite lu-. All ordinal forms were stressed on the final syllable, and those ending in vowels came to be perceived as ending in a glottal stop. The word for "first" has been suppleted with an unrelated root, and "hundred" is borrowed from Meshi.
Higher numbers use the form ten od unit: reu od ke "eleven," dauxeu od mab "fifty-seven," etc.
Ndok Aisô numerals can be used both as quantifiers (i.e. attributed to a nominal head) or as nouns in their own right. If they are used as quantifiers, they come before their noun, which does not take any plural prefixes:
- sud sêb
- luxeux od wos dixêheuteu
tenth and three dynasty
the 13th Dynasty
Indefinite quantities are usually referred to only by plural prefixes. However, some special quantifiers exist, which are generally used with singular nouns. Most of them can be used with pluralized nouns as well; in that case, they often take on a partitive meaning.
|ois||many, more; an exceptionally large number of|
|nga||a few; some of|
|ndog||a pair of; two out of|
|tsu||a single one; one out of|
|mi||no; none of|
|ege||every; each one of|
|egek||all; all of|
Noun phrases quantified by ois and egek require plural inflection on verbs and adjectives, while the other quantifiers are accompanied by singular forms.
Like numbers, indefinite quantifiers are always the first element in their noun phrase.
- mi ngkoi
- ois o-fêleu
very much rain
- tsu na-kix
one of these few goats
There are two quantifiers, not included in the table, which behave somewhat differently - meheg and aiheg. These are fossilized dual forms of "nothing" and "everything" respectively, which correspond more or less to the English "neither" and "both". Nowadays they are not confined to dual quantities any longer, but can be used with any noun in the paucal plural, regardless of how many instances of that noun are actually being referred to. They cannot, however, be used with singular or plural nouns.
- aiheg na-huxeu
In addition, both meheg and aiheg can be used as pronouns, which is not possible with the other indefinite quantifiers.
As Ndok Aisô has turned the original demonstratives into genitive pronouns, new demonstratives were created from locational adjectives and adverbs (tsuts < tsuts "near", mpeu < mpag "far" etc.). They are still very much akin to adjectives in that they share adjectivial case and number morphology, and may still be used adjectivially by placing them after the noun, although this is rarely seen. In fact, demonstratives and adjectives occupy exactly the same syntactic slots in a noun phrase, which has led scholars to posit that Ndok Aisô demonstratives are indeed just a special type of adjectives. The main difference seems to be that if a noun phrase contains both a demonstrative and a regular adjective, it is always the demonstrative which is placed before the noun, never the adjective. Also, demonstratives may only be placed after the noun if there is no other adjective in their NP. If demonstratives co-occur with a quantifier, the quantifier comes first.
Demonstratives exhibit only one degree of distance deixis (here vs. not here), but the location pointed to may be specified in a directional sense. There is also an indefinite demonstrative, which translates roughly as English "any".
Ndok Aisô demonstratives inflect for case and number like other adjectives (see here). All inflected forms are given in the table below. The citation form is the nominative singular, the second column lists acc.sg, nom.pl, and acc.pl (in that order). Most of the forms are regular; however, the suffixed forms of tsuts have been shortened via haplology of the unstressed first syllable, and the nom.sg of mpeu (earlier *mpɒ) was formed from the accusative by analogy.
|tsuts||tsog, tsok, tsos||this|
|mpeu||mpag, mpek, mpos||that|
|oi||aug, oik, ois||any|
|gut||gutog, gutok, gutos||right|
|mboi||mbaig, mboik, mbois||left|
|nggoi||nggaig, nggoik, nggois||upper, back|
|aideu||aidag, aidek, aidos||lower, front|
- tsuts pop
this man (nominative)
- mpos o-met
those women (accusative)
- gutok na-ndoi
the group of trees to the right
- nggoi nak
the field uphill
A handful of other adjectives are occasionally also used in the role of a demonstrative; these include geu "other, next, subsequent", lade "previous", paikeu "last, final", and all ordinal numbers.
The reanalysis of the NT demonstratives as genitive pronouns and the creation of plural prefixes from the quantifiers namê and omba led to a major reshaping of the set of correlative pronouns. About half the items in the table below are innovations, partly based on semi-transparent compounds (e.g. the entire "person" row consists of compound pronouns containing the root rud "man"), partly based on reinterpretation of existing grammatical morphemes (for instance, oi and the initial morphemes in auxud and agets derive from the NT indefinite article au, and the forms ndoxud, ndeuloi, ndeutsoi contain the NT discourse-referential article ndo).
The alternative forms for "this person" and "this place" remain transparently related to the first and second person genitive pronouns ("my man"/"your man" etc.), and are chosen according to the pragmatics of the speech act, with the second person variants gaxud and galul considered more polite. If in doubt as to which of the two would be more appropriate, it is seldom wrong to use the distantives ndoxud or ndeuloi instead.
The items in the "determiner" row are used as demonstratives or quantifiers, that is, they must be accompanied by a noun they qualify (although tsuts, mpeu, and oi may be nominalized like other adjectives, in which case they serve as syntactically identical alternatives to the more formal-sounding pronouns waihe, tsihe, and nap'e respectively). The items in the "thing" and "person" rows function like nouns, while all others can be used both nominally and adverbially.
Adjectives in Ndok Aisô agree with their head noun in number, and unlike the nouns themselves, they also inflect for case. Predicate adjectives and adjectives attributed to a noun in the antigenitive case use the accusative.
All these endings attract the word stress to the syllable preceding their last consonant.
cons₁ • cons₂ • nasal • ai/au • eu/a • eu/i • oi/u
- If the citation form ends in a consonant, -o- is added before the overt positive endings.
- If the citation form ends in a vowel, this vowel is deleted before the addition of any comparative or superlative suffix. Exceptions are noted below.
- Adjectives in -eu, descending from NT -a, change this to -a- in the accusative singular, to -e- in the nominative plural, and to -o- in the accusative plural. In the comparative and superlative forms, the stem vowel of such adjectives coalesces with -ê- into the diphthong -ai-, and with -oi and -u- into the diphthong -au-.
- Adjectives in -ai -au, and adjectives in -oi from NT -ai -au, also coalesce with -ê- into -ai-, and with -u- into -au-. The neg.comp.nom.sg ending becomes -auxoi. In the accusative singular, adjectives in -oi revert to the original -ai- or -au-.
- Adjectives in -oi from NT -u change this to -u- before all overt positive endings. The neg.comp.nom.sg ending becomes -uxoi.
- Adjectives in -eu from NT -o change this to -o- before all overt positive endings.
- Adjectives in -eu from NT -i change this to -ê- in the accusative singular, and to -i- before the other overt positive endings.
- Adjectives in -e (excepting recent borrowings) change this to -ê- in the accusative singular and to -ai- in the nominative plural.
Some adjectives additionally undergo changes in the stem:
- -o- before a final consonant normally breaks to -eu-.
- Final -k -g usually become -h- with all suffixes, with preceding e changing to ai.
- Some final -b -d -g change into -m- -n- -ng- when a suffix is added, with preceding i e changing to ê, preceding oi changing to either ai or au, and some instances of o changing to a.
- Adjectives whose citation form contains stressed -o- followed by a consonant cluster often change this to -ô- whenever the vowel becomes unaccented.
- olgeu "sweet" < algo has an acc.pl wôlgos and a sup.nom.sg wôlgêneu.
- êp'eseu "fortunate" < imbenta has a nom.pl êp'esek, a sup.acc.sg êp'esait'eu, and a neg.comp.nom.pl êp'esaukeu.
- laixeu "young" < lairi has an acc.sg laixêg, an acc.pl laixis, and a neg.sup.nom.sg laixuneu.
- uk'oi "broken" < unggu has an acc.sg uk'ug, a comp.nom.sg uk'êd, and a neg.comp.nom.sg uk'uxoi.
Adjectives can be nominalized by simply using the nominative singular as a noun. Comparative morphology may be included; thus e.g. uk'oi "a broken thing"; êp'esaid "a more fortunate person". Nominalized adjectives pluralize by taking the standard plural prefixes for nouns.
Due to its rather baroque history of sound changes, Ndok Aisô's verbal inflections are more complex than either those of Ndak Ta or any of its sister languages, though it lacks the auxiliary verb systems of the Eastern Edastean languages. Voice, tense, aspect, and number are marked with suffixes, whereas mood and polarity are marked with prefixes. The stem of the verb may or may not change with the addition of affixes on either side; therefore, verbs are best understood as belonging to various stem classes. These depend on both the initial and final vowel or consonant of the verb, and its etymological predecessor.
For ease of recognition, capital stem classes (i.e. those referring to the beginning of the verb stem) are designated with the letters A B C, and caudal stem classes (those referring to the end of the verb stem) are designated with roman numerals I-VI.
The citation form of verbs is the habitual singular indicative, which is generally the morphologically least marked form, and also doubles as an infinitive.
Mood and Polarity
Ndok Aisô distinguishes eight verbal moods (indicative, imperative, obligative, permissive, admonitive, optative, dubitative, and conditional). The indicative is unmarked; all other moods are marked with prefixes. Many of these prefixes have different allomorphs for some or all of the three capital stem classes.
Negative polarity is generally marked by prefixing m- before vowels, a homoorganic nasal before mood prefixes beginning in a plosive, and meu- or ma- otherwise.
It should be noted that imperative forms exist only in the habitual, passive nonpast, and middle nonpast.
Class A Verbs
Mood & Polarity paradigms
(habitual aspect, singular)
Class A • Class B • Class C₁ • Class C₂
This class consists of verbs whose stem begins with a vowel or the combination wô- (which becomes either -o- or -ô- with the addition of a prefix). The only notable irregularity in this class appears in the permissive mood: Stem-initial ê changes to -ai-, stem-initial i e change to -oi-, and stem-initial u o ô change to -au- -au- -a- when followed by /m n ŋ pʰ tʰ kʰ f/ and some instances of /b d g s h/, and to -oi- before other consonants.
Class B Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose stem begins with any single consonant other than /m n ŋ ɾ w/, except for some verbs with initial /k g/ which belong into class C instead. In the imperative mood, stem-initial b d g devoice to -p- -t- -k-, with the additional complication that a few verbs starting with g (descending from NT bw) have an unexpected -p- in the imperative. In the optative mood and in the negative admonitive, verbs with a stem-initial plosive behave as if they had a nasal + stop cluster instead; see below for details. Also, verbs starting with s change this to -ts- in the optative and in the negative admonitive, and verbs starting with l take an extended negative admonitive prefix mag-.
Class C Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose stem begins with a nasal, a nasal + stop cluster, /ɾ w/, or some instances of /k g/. They have in common that their initial consonants undergo mutation in almost all prefixed forms; however, the interactions are fairly complex:
- Verbs beginning with mp nt nts ngk change these to -f- -s- -s- -h- with all mood prefixes. This is the same type of alternation that is seen in plural nouns.
- Verbs beginning with mb nd ngg change these to -p'- -t'- -k'- with all mood prefixes.
- Both of the above groups select an extended prefix allomorph mahê- in the negative admonitive, and add an epenthetic -a- in the imperative and dubitative moods, extending those prefixes to (m)isa- and (m)eula- respectively.
- Verbs beginning with m n, and verbs beginning with ng from NT ngw, change these to -b- -d- -g- with most mood prefixes. In the imperative, these voiced stops then undergo devoicing to -p- -t- -k-. In the optative mood and in the negative admonitive, stem-initial nasals do not mutate. Note that the initial consonant of the irregular verb nod "go" mutates to -t- in the imperative (istod "go!"), but unexpectedly remains -n- with all other mood prefixes (e.g. obligative tsonod "must go").
- Verbs beginning with ng g k from NT plain velars ng g k change these to -h- with most mood prefixes. In the imperative the stem-initial consonant surfaces as -k- instead. In the optative mood and in the negative admonitive, ng does not change, while g k become -k'- -h- respectively.
- Verbs beginning with r w change these to -x- -g- when intervocalic (again, the same alternation as seen in nominal plurals). When preceded by a consonant (i.e. in the imperative and dubitative moods, and also in the optative mood and in the negative admonitive, which take the unexpected allomorphs (n)tsêd- and mag- respectively with these verbs), r does not change, and w is simply deleted.
Voice, Tense, Aspect, and Number
Ndok Aisô verbs distinguish three voices (active, passive, and middle) and two numbers (singular & plural). In the active voice, the primary temporal distinction is aspect (habitual, perfective, and imperfective), although these categories are partly correlated with tense. There is also a specific form for the legendary past, not specified for aspect. In the passive and middle voices, aspect is not distinguished at all; instead, non-active verbs inflect for tense (past vs. nonpast).
All these inflectional categories are marked with a set of semi-fusional suffixes. The voice portion of the inflection is still clearly recognizable as a separate morpheme; however, as the temporal categories marked in the passive and middle do not line up nicely with the active voice, all suffixes will be given in a single table.
These endings are basically the same across all conjugational classes. However, the final vowel of the stem undergoes various changes according to stem class and inflectional form.
Class I Verbs
Voice, Tense & Aspect paradigms
Class I • Class II • Class III • Class IV • Class V • Class VI
This class consists of verbs whose citation form ends in -eu, descending from NT -a or -o. The stem vowel is -a- in all forms of the middle voice, and -o- in the passive nonpast singular and in the imperfective singular and plural. In the habitual plural and perfective singular, the vowel may be either -a- or -o- depending on etymology. In all other inflected forms, the stem vowel is -eu-.
Class II Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose citation form ends in a consonant. The stem vowel is zero in the habitual singular and in the passive, except for the nonpast singular. In all other inflected forms, the stem vowel is -a-.
Class III Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose citation form ends in -eu, and monosyllables with -i, descending from NT -i. The stem vowel is -eu- in the habitual singular (except for monosyllabic stems), -ê- in the habitual plural and perfective singular, and -i- in all other forms.
Class IV Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose citation form ends in -oi, and monosyllables with -u, descending from NT -u. The stem vowel is -oi- in the habitual singular of polysyllabic stems, and -u- in all other inflected forms.
Class V Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose citation form ends in -oi, descending from NT -ai or -au. The stem vowel is -ai- or -au- in the habitual plural and perfective singular depending on etymology, and -oi- in all other forms.
Class VI Verbs
This class consists of verbs whose citation form ends in any other vowel or diphthong. Most recent borrowings ending in a vowel also belong in this class. The commonality among these is that the stem vowel does not change (with some exceptions, see below).
There are several patterns of apparent irregularity not covered by the above classification system.
- Many verbs with -e, but not any borrowings from the last several centuries, change this to -ê- in the habitual plural and perfective singular, and to -ai- in the middle voice. Thus mese "meet" has perfective forms mesêd, mesebe and middle nonpast forms mesaihêd, mesaihêdad.
- Verbs with -o- followed by a consonant cluster often alternate between this and -ô- according to the word stress. Thus mostoi "run or fly extremely rapidly" (Class IV) has inflected forms mostoi, môstut'eu, môstud, môstube...
- A few Class II verbs ending in -o- + consonant change this to -eu- in most of the inflected forms, and to -ô- in the passive (except the singular nonpast). Thus nuhots "trade" has a hab.pl nuheutsat'eu and the passive nonpast forms nuheutsal, nuhôtslad.
- Class II verbs ending in -b usually have an irregular perfective plural in -p'e, e.g. beb "kill" > bep'e "we/you/they killed".
- Class II verbs ending in -k and some instances of -g in the citation form change this to -h- in any suffixed forms containing an overt stem vowel. Preceding e mutates to ai, and preceding o often mutates to e. Thus rêlek "ride" has inflected forms rêlaihat'eu, rêlaihad, rêlaihabe...
- Likewise, some Class II verbs ending in a voiced plosive change this to the corresponding nasal when a stem vowel is added, with preceding i e changing to ê, oi changing to either ai or au, and some instances of o changing to a. Thus sapob "start, begin" has inflected forms sapamat'eu, sapamad, sapamabe... The same verbs exhibit an overt stem vowel in the passive: sapamal, sapamalad...
- Class II verbs ending in -t -ts -s syncopate their stem vowel in the perfective plural and in all forms of the middle voice, giving the clusters -sp- (pfv.pl) and -sk- (middle voice). Thus lusit "try" has the pfv.pl lusispe and middle nonpast forms lusiskêd, lusiskêdad. Verbs ending in -s additionally syncopate their stem vowel also in the legendary past, thus sofis "conquer" has legendary past forms sofisteu, sofiskeu.
- A few verbs ending in -d syncopate their stem vowel in the middle voice only, resulting in the cluster -sk-. Thus kôksod "help, support" has the middle nonpast forms kôksôskêd, kôksôskêdad. Most verbs in -d do not exhibit this alternation though.
- Class II verbs ending in -l -x also syncopate their stem vowel in the perfective plural, in the legendary past, and in the middle voice, but the non-middle suffixes do not devoice, and the -x is deleted. In the passive voice, however, an overt stem vowel is always present. Thus esul "receive" and gêk'ox "honor, respect" have forms such as pfv.pl esulbe, gêk'obe; leg.sg esuldeu, gêk'odeu; pass.npst.pl esulalad, gêk'oxalad; and mid.npst.sg esulkêd, gêk'okêd.
With very few exceptions, all suffixed forms of a verb are predictable from the combination of habitual singular and plural. The hab.pl will therefore be given in the lexicon along with citation form and stem class label.
Ndok Aisô's copula is descended from the NT verb matn "know". It is a Class C-II verb exhibiting alternation between -o- -ô- -eu- for the stem vowel. The copula lacks both the legendary past and the middle voice, and it does not have an imperative mood either.
Note the abbreviated forms of the hab.pl and ipfv.sg.
Aside from the copula, Ndok Aisô has another semantically empty verb, the proverb su "do". It is mainly used to avoid repetition of full verb forms in coordinated clauses, but it also plays a role in several idiomatic constructions. It is a Class B-IV verb (descended from the NT proverb su) with suppletive forms in the passive and middle voices, which in turn belong to the classes C-VI (passive, from NT mpe "sit") and B-II (middle, from the NT reflexive copula kin).
Note the irregular formation of the legendary past plural.
A peculiarity of the Ndok Aisô verb system is its sizeable class of ergative verbs. These have in common that they take an object (normally, a semantic patient or experiencer) instead of a subject as their single argument when intransitive. Pronouns and adjectives used in noun phrases that serve as an argument of an ergative verb take the case form expected from their semantic role, so the object is marked with the accusative and the subject is marked with the nominative. Another way to phrase this, which is more consistent with the word order rules in Ndok Aisô, goes as follows: With ergative verbs, the subject takes the absolutive case (which is morphologically identical to the accusative), and the agent becomes an optional ergative object (with the ergative case morphologically identical to the nominative).
In glosses, the arguments of ergative verbs will be marked as ABS/ERG wherever there is overt case marking.
Typical ergative verbs denote e.g. perceptions (êdeu "see", dup'eu "smell", meulad "notice"), states that can be experienced (ndênab "live", sêb "be lucky", rugeuteu "be lazy"), or involuntary changes in state (êt'oi "fall", nots "die", oipeu "freeze"). However, not all verbs of these semantic categories are ergative, and there are some ergative verbs which do not fit the semantic pattern and must be memorized (e.g. tu "eat", or more appropriately, "be eaten", tsaig "wash", êk'eu "use").
In the standard "ergative voice", ergative verbs inflect exactly like normal accusative verbs in the active voice. However, ergative verbs do not have passive or middle forms. Instead, there is an antipassive, which looks like an inflected active verb which is cast in the antigenitive. In fact, the morphological marker -a (which becomes -xa after vowels) is of the same origin - the NT genitive preposition âk. Antipassive inflection reverts the roles of subject and object to those expected from normal accusative verbs. It is normally used intransitively, but it can also be applied to transitive sentences in order to emphasize the agent.
As an example, the full indicative inflection of tu "eat" is given below.
Note how the vowel in the habitual plural and imperfective singular endings changes to -i- before the antipassive suffix.
Ergative verbs can be grouped in the same inflectional classes as accusative verbs. The only major addition to the morphophonemic alternations that have been described above is that the habitual singular and imperfective plural in the antipassive paradigm always take the same stem as the perfective plural in the regular paradigm, e.g. oipeu "freeze" (Class A-III), whose pfv.pl is oipibe, has the antipassive forms hab.sg-antip oipixa, and ipfv.pl-antip oipisa.
- Mpóisôxeu tu.
The fish is eaten.
- Mpóisôxeu paig tu ngufeu ódôxeu.
fish big-ABS.SG eat[HAB.SG] cat black[ERG.SG].
The big fish is eaten by the black cat.
- Ngufeu tuxa mpóisôxeu.
cat eat[HAB.SG]-ANTIP fish.
The cat eats the fish.
The middle voice is often used for actions that have no specific agent:
- Gahêsahêdad egek o-ukêdoi gak.
PERM-donate-MID.NPST all PL-request 2PL.GEN.
All your requests are allowed to grant themselves. (i.e. will be granted; agent not specified)
Noun Phrase Syntax
Ndok Aisô noun phrases are strongly head-initial. Only quantifiers, demonstratives, and genitive pronouns regularly precede the head noun; all other elements follow it (though single adjectives may be fronted in certain situations). The order of constituents is as follows:
|-||Noun||-||(Appositional noun)||-||(Adjectivial phrases)||-||(Genitive pronoun)||-||(Prepositional phrases)||-||(Possessive phrase)||-||(Relative clauses)|
Simple Noun Phrases
The only obligatory element in a noun phrase is the head noun itself, which may be substituted by a pronoun.
the two of us
Quantifiers, Demonstratives, and Genitive Pronouns
The head noun may be preceded by up to two determiner elements. The first of these can only be a quantifier (which includes numerals), while the second slot is open to several different elements - most commonly a genitive pronoun or a demonstrative, or occasionally a single-word adjective.
- ngi heumaisa
- ga ngufeu
- tsuts met
- ois mpek o-loi
more that-NOM.PL PL-bird
those many birds
If several potential slot II elements are present in the same noun phrase, the demonstrative will appear in prenominal position, while adjectives and genitive pronouns will move after the noun. Noun phrases in which slot II is filled are always considered definite; however, NPs with slot II empty are not necessarily indefinite.
- mpeu tsis ódôxeu woi
that dog black[NOM.SG] 1SG.GEN
that black dog of mine
Genitive pronouns are also obligatorily moved into slot VI when the noun is the object of a preposition or the subject of an adjectivial predicate. In other circumstances, moving a genitive pronoun to post-nominal position is optional, with a semantic implication of backgrounding the possessive relationship or of making the head noun indefinite.
Appositional nouns have an essive relationship to the head noun; that is, they function as a doubled reference to the same referent, specifying the description given by the head noun. The most common application for this is with names (with the head noun supplying category or title), but most ordinary nouns and even nominalized adjectives can also be used as appositives. Appositional nouns are simply placed right after the head noun with no determiners or number prefixes of their own.
- mos Ngahêxôldod
the city of Ngahêxôldod
- unoi Ngiged
- dixêheu exiboi
the king, who is a tyrant
Complex appositional elements are handled via prepositional phrases, normally with the essive preposition ru.
Adjectivial phrases consist of a single adjective which inflects for case and number of the head noun as well as for its own comparative status, optionally followed by an adverb which further modifies the adjective. Normally, adjectivial phrases follow their head. Several different adjectivial elements may occur after one another; if there are more than two of them, they are usually conjoined with the conjunction od "and".
- ngufeu ódôxeu
a black cat
- o-dixêheu mêgukeu
less powerful kings
- ets wôltog od sêtêhog od ladeuhêda toidoi
method new-ACC.SG and different-ACC.SG and desirable-COMP.ACC.SG somewhat
a new, different and somewhat better method (acc.)
Single-word adjectives not modified by an adverb may also be fronted for emphasis. However, this construction is seen as strongly marked, and so it is mostly used to emphasize one of several qualities attributed to a single noun. It is not possible to front an adjective if the noun phrase contains a determiner or genitive pronoun, or if the head noun is the object of a preposition.
- ntixeu zan mêgeu
good[NOM.SG] wine heavy[NOM.SG]
the good (and strong) wine
- mêgeu zan ntixeu
heavy[NOM.SG] wine good[NOM.SG]
the strong (and good) wine
Prepositional phrases are formed simply by putting a preposition in front of an otherwise normal noun phrase. The only major peculiarity is that neither adjectives nor genitive pronouns may appear before the head noun in prepositional phrases.
The most common prepositions are given below.
|êb||to, for (dative/benefactive)||< em "turn"|
|nte||with, by (instrumental)|
|ru||as||< ru (hab.cop)|
|noi||at, on, in|
|at'eu||towards, into, onto|
|besoi||near, next to||< *wêbesoi < wimès wau "neighbour to"|
|bêboi||above, on top of||< *eubêboi < ob imu "at head"|
|k'eulag||under||< *wôk'eulag < ob nggolang "at foot"|
|moldoi||in front of||< *wômoldoi < ob moldau "at front"|
|p'okeu||behind, beyond||< *wôp'ok'eu < ob bongga "at back"|
|hoi||during||< *wôhoix < ob gau "on road"|
|maga||before||< *wômaga < ob mowâ "at dawn"|
|bisoi||after||< *eubisoi < ob iswau "at night"|
The relational prepositions nte, kôxêd, ub, and ru govern the nominative case for their objects if they are part of a subject noun phrase. Otherwise, all objects of a preposition take the accusative case. Of course, case is only marked on pronouns, demonstratives, and adjectives.
- moldoi dog
in front of you
- bisoi iskod
after the storm
- seu noi meheu rafag êb axageu
meat on table abundant-ACC.SG for dinner
the meat on the festive dinner table
Possessive phrases consist of a full noun phrase referring to the possessor, preceded by the possessed noun phrase which is marked with the antigenitive enclitic =a. Possessive phrases are placed after all adjectives and prepositional phrases in a given noun phrase, but before any relative clauses. Possessive phrases cannot be headed by a pronoun (with pronominal possessors, a different construction is used), and demonstratives and adjectives accompanying the head noun of a possessive phrase always take the nominative case.
- lôlbuxa meboi
the merchant's guest
- tsis laixixa mpeu idau ixoha
dog young=POSS that[NOM.SG] nobleman stupid[NOM.SG]
the young dog of that stupid nobleman
When possessive phrases and prepositional phrases occur together, there is often some ambiguity whether the possessive phrase relates to the head of the matrix noun phrase or to the object of the preposition. Such situations are resolved by intonation - the possessed noun is pronounced with more emphasis and a higher pitch than the non-possessed noun.
- ngufeu noi ndoixa met
[ ˈŋúː.fɛw nɔjn ˌdɔj.ʔa ˈméʔ ]
cat at tree=POSS woman
the woman's cat on the tree
- ngufeu noi ndoixa met
[ ˌŋu.fɛw nɔjn ˈdɔ́ːj.ʔa ˌmeʔ ]
cat at tree=POSS woman
the cat on the woman's tree
Intonation is also used in order to disambiguate whom a following relative clause refers to: If it refers to the possessed, the last prosodic foot of the possessive phrase receives high pitch, and the relative clause starts with a pause and low pitch. If it refers to the possessor, there is no pause, and the pitch stays at a medium level, rising only for the verb of the relative clause.
- huxixa euseu, roba i aidoi.
[ huˈʔiː.ʔa ˌʔɛ́w.sɛ́w | ˌrò.βà ʔi ˈʔaːj.ðɔj ]
book=POSS lady, REL.ACC 1SG.NOM love[HAB.SG]
the lady's book that I love
- huxixa euseu roba i aidoi.
[ huˌʔi.ʔa ˈʔɛːw.sɛw ˌro.βa ʔi ˈʔáːj.ðɔj ]
book=POSS lady REL.ACC 1SG.NOM love[HAB.SG]
the book of the lady that I love
Complex Noun Phrases
The following is an example of a complex noun phrase containing a quantifier, a demonstrative, an appositional noun, an adjective modified by an adverb, a prepositional phrase, and a relative clause, which in turn contains another noun phrase with a genitive pronoun and an adjective.
- egek mpek o-funêb ixoha môxáugubek ntaik'oi seu Hoifaxa robeu tsik o-neheu patos badait'eu
all that-NOM.PL PL-heathen stupid[N] serious-NOM.PL disturbingly from Hoifaxa REL.NOM 3PL.GEN PL-god false-ACC.PL worship-HAB.PL
all those disturbingly serious heretics (which are fools) from Huyfárah who worship their false gods
The basic word order in Ndok Aisô is SVO. Adverbial, temporal, or locative elements can be emphasized by being fronted to the beginning of the sentence; in that case, the core constituents are usually arranged in the order VSO. This reordering is mandatory if the fronted element is a single lexical adverb or a prepositional phrase, and optional if the fronted element is a subclause. In the latter situation, it is much more common with pronominal subjects than with full NP subjects. Only one fronted element per sentence is allowed.
Indirect objects, which normally take the form of a prepositional phrase introduced by the dative preposition êb, are usually placed immediately after the direct object.
- Unoi mêlêd huxeu.
priest read-PFV.SG book.
The priest read a book.
- Mag badois o-keldeu gaikseu.
today worship-IPFV.PL PL-clergy feast.
Today the clergy is celebrating a religious feast.
- Idau tseutsafeu zan êb o-lolboi tsi.
nobleman OBL-give[HAB.SG] wine to PL-guest 3SG.GEN.
A nobleman should give wine to his guests.
Intransitive sentences can take either SV or VS word order, the latter of which is considered more formal. However, adverbial or prepositional adjuncts cannot appear on the same side of the verb as the subject, thus a postposed adverb or prepositional phrase requires SV order, and a fronted adjunct requires VS order.
- Dên sêp'oxasteu.
The water is boiling.
- Pôpsanadeu setsauk.
The emperor hesitated.
- A rugeutosteu boi.
3SG.ABS be.lazy-IPFV.SG again.
He is being lazy again.
Clauses can be coordinated with a number of conjunctions, the most important of which are given in the table below.
The special object-gapping form of the conjunction is used whenever a shared object is omitted ("gapped") from one of the clauses. More commonly the object is omitted from the second clause, but it is also possible to omit objects from the first of two coordinated clauses for stylistic purposes. If a shared subject is gapped, the normal conjunctions are used. Verbs cannot be gapped; instead, the proverb su must be used.
|êsaig||êsaik'a||in order to|
In the examples below, underscores indicate where an element has been gapped. For clarity, the gapped element is repeated in brackets after the sentence.
- Deu leubeupad ê, nêd i paudaiheu dog.
2SG.NOM insult-PFV.SG 1SG.ACC, if/then 1SG.NOM COND-hate[HAB.SG] 2SG.ACC.
If you insult me, I will hate you.
- I tsêfeupusteu, rafêd _ tsoxixabasteu. (i)
1SG.NOM OPT-dance-IPFV.SG, instead _ OBL-learn-IPFV.SG.
I would like to go dancing, but I have to study instead.
- Deu magêbot ga mudok, dolda i su woi _. (mudok)
2SG.NOM NEG-remember[HAB.SG] 2SG.GEN dream, but.GAP 1SG.NOM do[HAB.SG] 1SG.GEN _.
You don't remember your dream, but I remember mine.
The conjunctions od, dol, mi, beudeu, and lik can also be used to connect noun phrases.
- Deu geutot'e o-fóisôxeu mi o-loi ses.
2SG PERM-take[HAB.SG] PL-fish or PL-bird farm.
You can have fish or poultry.
In this usage, object-gapping conjunctions gap the head noun. Note how the gapped noun requires the verb to take plural marking, even though the only overt instance of the noun is in the singular.
- Pop wôt'iseu oga _ êp'eseu wôtspixaidat'eu. (pop)
man smart[NOM.SG] and.GAP _ fortunate[NOM.SG] succeed-HAB.PL.
Both the smart and the fortunate may be successful.
Complement clauses, i.e. clauses used as an argument of the verb, are placed at the same position in the clause that a normal noun phrase would occupy. They take VSO word order, and they are introduced by a subordinating conjunction which indicates the syntactic role of the complement: roi for subjects of accusative verbs, agents of ergative verbs, and predicates, and rai for both direct and indirect objects of accusative verbs, and for subjects of ergative verbs.
- Eu aisôd rai aidoi eu ê.
3SG.NOM say-PFV.SG SUB.ACC love[HAB.SG] 3SG.NOM 1SG.ACC.
He said that he loves me.
- Roi rugeutat'eu o-aip'oi euba o-neheu.
SUB.NOM be.lazy-HAB.PL PL-commoner anger[HAB.SG] PL-god.
That people are lazy angers the gods.
Adverbial clauses, i.e. subclauses indicating manner or circumstance of the main clause, are introduced with the conjunction roits. They take SOV word order and are normally placed at the end of the clause. However, adverbial clauses can be fronted to the beginning of the sentence for emphasis; in this case their constituents are rearranged to SVO order.
- Êtsdehad mosteu dixêheu mêgag roits a wosteu od bu loid ndênabadeu.
Êtsdehad COP-IPFV.SG king mighty-ACC.SG SUB.ADV 3SG.ABS thirty and four year reign-LEG.SG.
Tsinakan was a mighty king, reigning for thirty-four years.
- Roits ok nalungugeu igêd, o-pop Ndok gok'oigeu dôstona Saxehêd.
SUB.ADV 3PL.NOM be.in.formation-LEG.PL perfectly, PL-man Ndok resist-LEG.PL attack[INF]=POSS Saxehêd.
Arranged in a strong formation, the Ndok soldiers resisted the attack of the Faraghin.
Temporal clauses, i.e. subclauses which indicate temporal relations between the main clause and something else, are formed parallel to adverbial clauses in that they also take SOV word order, which changes to SVO when fronted. The most common conjunctions for temporal clauses are given in the following table:
|mbêp'oi||while, in between|
- Eu not'esteu tsi bots ngu ok a bep'e.
3SG.NOM reach.for-IPFV.SG 3SG.GEN weapon when 3PL.NOM 3SG.ACC kill-PFV.PL.
He was reaching for his sword when they killed him.
- Ugeu deu pôspudad a noiskoi, eutod i mos Ngahêxôldod.
after 2SG.NOM leave-PFV.SG 3SG.ACC only, come-PFV.SG 1SG.NOM city Ngahêxôldod.
I arrived at Ngahêxôldod only after you had left.
Relative clauses, i.e. clauses modifying a noun, always occupy the last slot in the respective noun phrase. They are arranged in SOV word order (however, with the relativized noun normally being omitted). The introductory conjunction indicates the role of the relativized noun within the subclause: robeu for subjects, and roba for objects. If the relative clause contains an ergative verb, this assignment is reversed.
- I tsêmese euseu roba i aidoi.
1SG.NOM OPT-meet[HAB.SG] lady REL.ACC 1SG.NOM love[HAB.SG].
I want to meet the lady that I love.
- I tsêmese euseu robeu ê aidoi.
1SG.NOM OPT-meet[HAB.SG] lady REL.NOM 1SG.ACC love[HAB.SG].
I want to meet the lady that loves me.
Ndok Aisô has three types of predicates: Static, dynamic (these two can be grouped as "verbal predicates"), and adjectivial. The static and dynamic variants are very similar, except that static predicates use the normal copula, while dynamic predicates use the "dynamic copula", i.e. the middle voice of the proverb su. Adjectivial predicates use a zero copula when static, and the dynamic copula when dynamic.
The following subtypes of predicates are possible:
- noun phrase > noun phrase
- noun phrase > prepositional phrase
- complement clause > noun phrase
- noun phrase > noun phrase
- noun phrase > prepositional phrase
- adjective < noun phrase
For those constructions which are possible in both a static and a dynamic variant, static predicates describe a constant state (with aspect marking to indicate whether it is permanent or temporary), whereas dynamic predicates denote a change in quality. Both variants normally take SVO word order, but VSO if the subject is a pronoun.
- Ilkile mot meboi.
Ilkile COP[HAB.SG] merchant.
Ilkile is a merchant.
- Kêd i runok.
DYN[MID.NPST.SG] 1SG.NOM priest.
I am becoming a priest.
- O-bois meutas noi maisloi.
PL-ox COP-IPFV.PL at pasture.
The cattle are/were on the pasture.
- O-bois kêt'eu noi maisloi.
PL-ox DYN.MID-NPST.PL at pasture.
The cattle are on the pasture now (but they weren't there before).
Adjectivial predicates differ from verbal predicates in that they use a zero copula, and that the word order is reversed to OS: The predicated adjective, which takes the accusative case, comes first, and the subject of the predication comes second.
- Ixohas ok.
They (pl.) are stupid.
- Laixêg tsis woi.
young-ACC.SG dog 1SG.GEN.
My dog is young.
Dynamic adjectivial predicates are similar, but they include an overt clause-initial dynamic copula.
- Kêdasteu gahog met.
DYN.MID-PST.SG angry-ACC.SG woman.
The woman got angry.
Adjectivial predication includes general evaluative statements about types of actions. For this type of construction, the verb is nominalized to the infinitive.
- Ladeuhog mêleu.
Reading (in general) is good.
If a specific instance of an action is to be predicated to an adjective, however (e.g. for evaluation of the result), then verbal predication must be used. The action is described in a complement clause, and the adjective is used in a nominalized form, which is morphologically identical to the nominative singular of the adjective.
- Roi mêlêd deu huxeu mot ladog.
SUB.NOM read-PFV.SG 2SG.NOM book COP[HAB.SG] desirable[N].
That you have read the book is a good thing.
Ndok Aisô forms yes-no questions by placing a tag word such as ha "yes" or mip "no" at the end of an otherwise normal sentence, suggesting the expected answer.
- Dog mesaihêdad tsuxeu, ha?
2DU.NOM meet-MID-NPST.PL tomorrow, yes?
We're meeting tomorrow, aren't we?
- Deu môldôlbitad woi huxeu, mip?
2SG.NOM NEG.DUB-bring-PFV.SG 1SG.GEN book, no?
You don't happen to have brought my book, have you?
In order to let the listener choose between several options, multiple nominal or adverbial phrases can be used as tags, often connected with the conjunction mi "or".
- Deu tsêduhud, oitsoi mi ndeutsoi?
2SG.NOM OPT-specify-PFV.SG, now or then?
Will you decide now or later?
The easiest way to form open-ended questions is to simply replace the queried constituent with an appropriate interrogative pronoun without changing the order of clause constituents.
- Igaxud aisôd rai tseubebal dixêheu?
who say-PFV.SG SUB.ACC OBL-kill-PASS.NPST.SG king?
Who said that the king should be killed?
- Mpeu meboi noi tsog nuheutsasteu gegeu?
that.NOM merchant at corner sell-IPFV.SG which.thing?
What is that merchant on the corner selling?
The question word may also be topic-fronted to the beginning of the clause. In this case, the sentence is reordered to VSO. This strategy is also available for multiple-choice tag questions in order to specify what is being asked for.
- Ipeu nggagêd gesanô tsi heumaisa liteu woilul pêseu?
how push-PFV.SG peasant 3SG.GEN cow inside this.place damn?
How the hell did the peasant get his cow into here?
- Igeuloi seupub Ilkile, seu Êbloi mi seu Akôdaig?
where originate[HAB.SG] Ilkile, from Êbloi or from Akôdaig?
Where does Ilkile come from, Êbloi or Akôdaig?
The legend of Emperor Tsinakan
- Main article: Tsinakan text
Êtsdehad, ru dixêheu mêgeu, od ru mekeuta Aitol od Ngadagoi, od ru dixêheuxa Axôkseuhod, wisoideu ngugoi:
Isleu i noi keutsa woi mege mpêd, egek lots tablik edeusas êb ê. O-lots noi kok wisoibe ngugoi: "Tsi mege meutad dixêheu mêgeu. Eu sofisad ois o-lots edeusos. Tsitsoi kêdad eu neheu. Dol rud robeu oitsoi noi keutsa tsi mege mpe, mot eu ineu."
Ngu i, ru mekeuta Aitol od Ngadagoi, noi keutsa woi mege mpêd, ngol isleu i nodad at'eu o-lots tablis robeu êb ê edeusas, i nodad at'eu o-gaiksixa Op'euseu. I badaid tsos, od nte tod woig dugêd i ngeubeu doitêdog. Wisaid i: "Ngop'euseu, ru euseu doitêd, ru oigoixa o-tósôxoi! Mpek o-lots tablik robeu ê ru ineu wuhus, leubeupabe ok ê ntsex! Ladeuhut'eu ngol waihe, Deusibauxeu: Sapamahêd rai ok dôstonas o-keuha ga lots doitêdog! Isaidageupeu mpos o-funêb!"
Ngop'euseu bunad ukêdoi oibog seu mob woi. Eu tsoisaid ê, od tsafêd ndeulid êb aiheg na-itôxab od ntêt'eu woi. Hoi reu loid, sofisad i o-lots tablis robeu êb ê edeusas. Gut'a i ebrêd. I êxaspud ois o-ngeksis od o-bois od o-sêb, oga pilaid at'eu lots Axôkseuhod.
The Cursing of Sagibleu
Êto sapamadeu rai nalungutosteu eu tsi o-ôldos. Ru rulbeu robeu mos tsêmêkseu nggagideu eu o-nggaihade lamois at'eu o-peupeusa Ngahêxôldod; dôlbitadeu eu o-gahoip kelkis roba ólôxoi mos ngixêk'at'eu. O-pugeu upêlas, o-guxeu naneulas, o-êhopoi lihêlas, o-êboi rehôldaklas retsêd o-mbosoi. O-pexos ait'os bôltageu bêboi o-pexos ait'os, od sauk'exa o-ngguheuboi êt'ugeu at'eu o-xud oibos.
Guseu egek o-neheu sihêdageu Sagibleu nte mêgeu. "Sagibleu, deu edeusad êb Axôltseubeu: Ru rai pagedeusasteu deu êb Êtsdehad mot waihe!"
"Ga o-mos nubehis tsêk'eulait'eu nte eugoi! Ga o-kufas tsêmeugêt'eu ru tsot'eu! Ga o-têhagleu tsêdôspoilad êb wispeu! Ga o-bomeu tsêdôspoilad êb eulêd tsik! Ga o-got tsêdôspoilad êb ntaug tsik! Sagibleu, ga o-pop kudok tsêdistêdat'eu tsik ndeulid; tsêdrugeutat'eu hoi aiteu ngeulaig! Tsuts tsêt'e rai nots Uksaux nte loltoi! Adois tsêmot'eu ga o-ageu; tsêhaidat'eu ngagôstad! Ga dixêkloi rafag, wôhob tsêk'age a! Gêgêg tsêngêp'eu êfeu noi o-nolô ga, od tsêk'ok'ait'eu o-goibreu od o-áibôxeu rai pagômod tsu pop ndeuloi! Noi o-auseu ga tsêdibladeu ngkeha! Paup'uxeu auxud ngugoi, ‘I tsêsupseuhêd noi Sagibleu!’, nêd eu ntsêdraidoi o-demita euloi wagaihog!"
Od moldoi o-neheu hoi mpeu aiteu ngol, kêdasteu eu tsip. Ngop'euseu ngidugil mpoi ebrilasteu Sagibleu!
- ngi-dugeu -l
The angry horse
Mosteu maga o-aiteu rai lusitad gesanô mpe noi pahêxa neulox tsi. Dol akseu tôxadaud rai rêlaihad pop, rafêd ketstad oga pispêd a nte mêgeu. Ngu pop lusitad rote, kainabêd êheu od wôtskêp'ad êb a. Ngol dôstonad eu mpag tsôhop'oi oga aidageupad ntsex! Roits eu akaksad oga nte nggol tsig wôtskêp'ad, akseu bebad gesanô.
Roits os êdeube waihe, kêhibe o-zat'an noi êheuloi od mihoibe.
(Written on Mar 7, 2010 as part of Conlang Relay 17. The story has been translated from Elliott Lash's Silindion.)