O Ayōndui

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O Ayōndui
[o aˈjoːndui̯]
Period c. -300 YP
Spoken in Yōndui islands
(Lukpanic coast)
Total speakers c. 8,000
Writing system Lukpanic script
Classification Lukpanic
 Eaunutul dialect
Basic word order head-initial
Morphology agglutinating
Alignment unknown
Created by Dunomapuka;
this dialect: Cedh

This is a short description of the Lukpanic dialect spoken on the Yōndui islands off the southwestern corner of the Lukpanic Coast. The dialect is fairly innovative phonologically and exhibits several developments that are unique within the Lukpanic family (e.g. palatalisation of original velars, phonemic vowel length, consonant gemination, and a series of prenasalised voiced stops). Due to its isolated location, the Yōndui dialect has experienced comparatively little Western influence, and is in no immediate danger of extinction.

The name Yōndui is a reflex of PL *eaunutul, borrowed from the local Tulameya dialect (ultimately from Proto-Tulameya *yabnu-tula ‘bed of the sun’).



    labial     alveolar   palatal       velar        glottal   
plosive p · b · mb t · d · nd k · ɡ · ŋɡ
affricate ndz ɲdʑ
fricative f · v s · z ɕ · ʑ h
nasal m n ɲ ŋ
approximant w ɺ j
  • The sibilants /s z ndz/ essentially pattern as a fourth set of plosives; this is because most instances of these phonemes are reflexes of Proto-Lukpanic velar stops.
  • /ndz ɲ ŋ ŋɡ ɡ ɺ j/ are written nz ñ ŋ ŋg g r y.
  • [ɕ ʑ ɲdʑ] are allophones of /s z ndz/ before /i iː iə̯/. They are written sh j nj.
  • /p t k f s m n ɲ ŋ ɺ/ can appear as geminates in word-medial position, written pp tt kk ff ss mm nn ññ ŋŋ rr. Geminate /ss/ becomes [ɕː] (written ssh) before /i iː iə̯/. Geminate /ɺɺ/ is typically pronounced as a trill [rː], but may also appear as [lː], especially on the easternmost islands.
  • /f w/ are both quite rare, but they contrast with /v/ at least in intervocalic position.


Front Central Back
High i · iː u · uː
Mid e · eː ə o · oː
Low a · aː
  • Long vowels are written with a macron: ī ē ā ō ū
  • Vowel hiatus is fairly common, but the combinations /ai̯ au̯ iə̯ uə̯/ (plus /iu̯ ui̯/ in word-final position) are much more frequent than other vowel sequences. Since these specific combinations are also pronounced as a single syllable, they are analysed as phonemic diphthongs, written ai au iə uə iu ui.
  • Vowels after a nasal and vowels before a prenasalised consonant are allophonically nasalised, but vowels before a plain nasal are not.

Phonotactics and prosody

Syllable structure is mostly (C)V. Coda consonants only appear in the form of the first half of geminate consonants in word-medial position.

O Ayōndui has a light dynamic stress accent coupled with higher pitch, which generally falls on the third-to-last mora in a word. This means that the antepenultimate syllable is accented, unless the penultimate syllable contains a long vowel or a diphthong, or is followed by a geminate consonant. In those situations, or when the word has only two syllables, the accent falls on the penultimate syllable instead. (It's worth noting that a word-final falling diphthong /ai au ui iu/ generally does not count as dimoraic, unlike vowel sequences in other positions.)

Occasionally, a word-final syllable with a long vowel may exceptionally carry the accent. Since long vowels do not occur in word-final position when unaccented, this irregularity does not need to be specially marked in the orthography though.

Sound changes from Proto-Lukpanic

  • Prevocalic [ku ko], [ɡu ɡo vu vo], and [ŋu ŋo] sporadically merge with [kp], [ɡb], and [ŋm].
  • [k ɡ ŋ] are fronted to [c ɟ ɲ].
  • [kp ɡb ŋm] are simplified to [k ɡ ŋ].
  • Unstressed [ai au] become [eː oː] when not preceded or followed by a vowel.
  • Vowels preceded by one of [m n ɲ ŋ] are nasalised, causing a following plosive to acquire prenasalisation.
  • Word-final [m l] are vocalised to [u i].
  • In other positions, [l] shifts to a lateral flap [ɺ].
  • [i e] shift to [j] when intervocalic or when followed by a long vowel or two consecutive vowels, and [u o] shift to [w] in the same environment. Additionally, [ea oa iu ui] become [ja wa ju wi] whenever preceded by [h], except when stressed on the first mora of the diphthong.
  • [i a u] become [e ə o] adjacent to [b d ɟ ɡ s h]. [a] also becomes [ə] word-finally, and [i u] also become [e o] after [j w v]. However, vowels after a voiceless plosive are not affected except before word-final [b], vowels before a nasal consonant or before a word-final [ɺi] or [ɺu] sequence are usually not affected, and all stressed instances of [ə] later shift back to [a].
  • Word-final [p b] are deleted with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel.
  • [iə uə aə] shift to [iː uː ai]. After this, [ea oa] become [eː oː] when adjacent to one of [s h], and raise to [iə uə] otherwise.
  • Sequences of the shape HeH HoH HəH (where H = [s h]) metathesize to HHje HHwo HHə, even if the vowel carries stress.
  • Unstressed short vowels are deleted between two (near-)identical consonants, between [h] and a semivowel, between one of [s h] and an obstruent, and between one of [ɺ m n ɲ ŋ] and a plosive or nasal. (Some instances of deleted vowels are later restored by analogy with related words where they were stressed and hence not deleted.)
  • Cluster simplification:
    • [hj sj] become [ɕ], and [hw sw] become [f].
    • Voiced plosives become nasals before another voiced plosive.
    • Voiceless plosives become voiced after [ɺ] or a nasal.
    • Voiced obstruents become voiceless adjacent to a voiceless consonant.
    • [h s] assimilate completely into a following obstruent, forming a geminate.
    • Geminate [vv] is devoiced to [ff].
    • Nasals assimilate in POA to a following consonant.
    • Clusters of a nasal and a plosive merge with the prenasalised plosives, which end up voiced in all positions.
  • [h] is deleted, but geminate [hh] remains.
  • [s] debuccalises to [h], but geminate [ss] remains.
  • Sequences of two adjacent short vowels are simplified as follows:
    • Two identical short vowels become a single long vowel.
    • [eə ea ia ie] and word-medial [io iu] all merge into [iə].
    • [oə oa ua uo] and word-medial [ue ui] all merge into [uə].
    • [ae əe əi] all merge into [ai], and [ao əo əu] all merge into [au].
    • Word-final [io ue] merge into [iu ui].
    • [eo oe] merge into [eu oi].
    • [ai au] become [eː oː] before a coda consonant.
  • [h] is deleted when the preceding syllable also starts with [h].
  • Geminate [hh] is simplified, and coda [ɺ] is deleted, both with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel. However, geminate [ɺɺ] remains, and shifts to a trilled [rr].
  • Intervocalic [i u] become [j w], and sequences of three or more vowels are sometimes separated by an epenthetic [ɰ], which quickly shifts to [j] after front vowels, and to [w] after back vowels. [j ɰ] then become [ʑ] before [i iː iə] and after [ai oi], and [w ɰ] become [v] before [u uː uə] and after [au eu].
  • The clusters [kj ŋɡj ɡj ŋj nj] undergo secondary palatalisation to [c ɲɟ ɟ ɲ ɲ], and [ss] becomes [ɕɕ] before [i iː iə]
  • [c ɟ ɲɟ] shift to [ɕ ʑ ɲdʑ].
  • [ɕ ʑ ɲdʑ] become [s z ndz] before all vowels other than [i iː iə].
  • Prosodic restructuring:
    • [iə uə] become [iː uː] in unstressed word-final position, before a prenasalised plosive, before [h] or their corresponding semivowel, and when adjacent to another vowel.
    • [jə] becomes [i] after [a] or a long vowel other than [iː], and [e] otherwise. Likewise, [wə] becomes [u] after [a] or a long vowel other than [uː], and [o] otherwise.
    • Remaining postconsonantal [j w] become syllabic, giving [e o] before [e a o], and [i u] otherwise.
    • Long [əː] merges with [aː], and word-final short [ə] shifts to [a] if the preceding syllable also has [ə].
    • Word-final [e o] raise to [i u] if the preceding syllable contains unstressed [i u].
    • Unstressed long vowels are shortened before a geminate consonant and word-finally, and stressed short vowels in the penultimate syllable are lengthened (a) in compensation for the shortening of a word-final long vowel, and (b) when preceded by an unstressed syllable unless also followed by a geminate consonant or a final-syllable diphthong.
    • In sequences of two vowels of the same quality, the shorter or less accented vowel dissimilates in height (e.g. [iːi eːe aːa oːo uːu] → [iːe eːi aːe oːu uːo]).

Example phrases

  • *gbagba lukpani "the people facing toward the sea" > gagə rukani
  • *mitalai iəta "the river flows" > ndāre īta
  • *hupusi sumi "it's raining" > opuhi homi
  • *gbiusi liŋmili "[they] are building the wall" > gīhe riŋiri
  • *tukuigba vinitali "[they] are performing a ceremony" > tusuəgə vinindari
  • *ŋanaigba... "[someone] is saying..." > ñanēŋgə
  • *gbikiŋibita neamali "He builds boats [apparently; so I heard]" > geshiñimbeta ñamari
  • *gbiusiŋmaukeab "one who isn't going to build a boat." > gīheŋōnji
  • *haŋmoausigilip daəb disili "I don't think the woman will stab her husband" > əŋūohezeri dai deheri
  • *naəpal nali "the vomiting baby" > nēmbai nari
  • *daəb huəsadai "the woman [that I see is] singing" > dai ōhāde
  • *pamigbaul ŋma tuipili "I witnessed the hunting" > pamiŋgōi ŋa tuəpiri
NOTE: the above just illustrates the sound changes; it does not accurately represent O Ayōndui grammar.

Morphophonological alternations

Vowel lengthening

Certain suffixes cause morphologically conditioned lengthening of a preceding short vowel or diphthong. This is marked with a colon ‹ː›. In addition, stressed short vowels in the penultimate syllable of a word with at least three syllables are prosodically lengthened unless they are followed by a geminate consonant or a word-final diphthong, and underlying word-final vowel length is always transferred to an immediately preceding stressed vowel.

The alternations found in morphophonological lengthening are mostly straightforward. However, there are some irregularities with the centering diphthongs /iə̯ uə̯/, which may both lengthen in two different ways depending on their historical source.

  • i e a o uī ē ā ō ū
  • əā
  • ai auē ō
  • iə uəeā oā (when derived from PL *ea *oa) or iū uī (when derived from PL *iu *ui)

Vowel laxing and tensing

When followed by /h/ or preceded by one of /v h b mb d nd z ndz ɡ ŋɡ/, vowels may sometimes undergo a shift in quality which is known as laxing. This is marked with a circumflex ‹^›. However, the shift is blocked after a voiceless plosive, and for short vowels also before a nasal or a prenasalised consonant.

  • i a ue ə o
  • ī ūē ō
  • iə uəē ō

The reverse process, called vowel tensing, also occurs. For short vowels, it is general before nasals and prenasalised consonants. In all other positions, vowel tensing is marked with a caron ‹ˇ›. Note that this process may have the side effect of triggering palatalisation of preceding s z nz to sh j nj when they come to be followed by one of /i iː iə̯/.


In certain morphological environments, consonants may be affected by gemination (or, for voiced obstruents, prenasalisation). This is marked with the archiphoneme symbol ‹Q› at morpheme boundaries. In addition to this, gemination sometimes occurs lexically when an unstressed vowel is deleted between two (nearly) identical consonants.

  • p t s sh kpp tt ss ssh kk
  • m n ñ ŋmm nn ññ ŋŋ
  • f rff rr
  • v hff ss
  • b d z j gmb nd nz nj ŋg

Occasionally, affixes may trigger a second type of gemination which works identically for the most part, except that voiced plosives shift to voiceless geminates pp tt ss ssh kk, effectively merging with the voiceless plosives. This variant is marked as ‹Q°›.

Both variants of gemination cause immediately preceding diphthongs /ai au/ to monophthongise into ē ō.


Obstruent consonants usually undergo prenasalisation when preceded by a syllable starting with a nasal consonant. Where this happens for morphological reasons, it is marked with a superscript ‹ⁿ›.

  • p t s sh kmb nd nz nj ŋg
  • b d z j gmb nd nz nj ŋg

As a side effect, prenasalisation causes immediately preceding diphthongs /ai au ui uə iu iə/ to become long monophthongs ē ō ū ū ī ī.

Obstruent voicing

Voiceless obstruents may sometimes undergo voicing without prenasalisation. This process happens when they are preceded by a long vowel which represents an underlying -VrV- sequence. When followed by a vowel, the /r/ reappears, and the vowel is generally shortened. This type of morpheme boundary is marked with a plus sign ‹+›.

Inflectional morphology

O Ayōndui is a strongly agglutinating language, and words of any part of speech may feature a large number of affixes. However, only a handful of these morphemes are syntactically required on noun phrases or finite verbs, and thus clearly inflectional in character.

Verbal inflection

Tense, modality, and evidentiality

True inflection on the O Ayōndui verb itself consists of only seven overt morphemes (two prefixes and five suffixes) with temporal, modal, and evidential meanings. It can be summed up as follows:

modality A STEM tense & modality B certainty & evidentiality

Ø- indicative
su- (imp) imperative
u- (opt) optative

(contains the root, and often also one or more derivational morphemes)

-Ø- present
-ui, -wi, -ū- (pst) completed past
-ːji, -jī- (irr) future, potential, irrealis
-ːŋo, -ŋōⁿ- (vol) future, intentional, volitional

-Ø- normal
-də (aff) affirmative, secure evidence available
-tta (hsy) speculation, hearsay

  • The imperative and optative prefixes (which have been borrowed from the local Tulameya dialect) do not co-occur with the irrealis and volitional suffixes. Marking a verb both for imperative/optative and for the past tense is rare, but grammatical.
  • The past tense suffix is -ui (-wi after the vowels /i iː e eː a aː ə/, and just -i after /oː uː/) when word-final, and -ū- when followed by an evidential suffix. When immediately preceded by /h/, the suffix appears as -oi/-ō-, and it combines with preceding short /o u/ into -ōi, -ūi word-finally and -uō- when followed by an evidential suffix.
  • The irrealis suffix is -ːji when word-final (with lengthening of a preceding short vowel), and -jī- when followed by an evidential suffix. When preceded by a syllable of the shape NVː, the suffix appears as -nji/-njī-. It combines with preceding /m n ɲ ŋ z ʑ/ followed by a short vowel into -ːnji/-njī-, and with preceding /h s ɕ/ followed by a short vowel into -sshi/-sshī-. Note that lengthening of a preceding short vowel does not occur before the -sshi allomorph.
  • The volitional suffix is -ːŋo when word-final (with lengthening of a preceding short vowel), -ŋōn- when followed by the affirmative evidential, and -ŋō- when followed by the hearsay evidential.
  • The affirmative suffix combines with preceding /m n ɲ ŋ d t/ followed by a short vowel into -ːndə. It also appears as -ndə when preceded by a syllable of the shape NVː.


Negation is expressed with a special negative auxiliary verb, which precedes the main verb and appears in a total of four forms:

  • sūhe (neg) ‘does not do’ (used with eventive verbs in all non-past variants)
  • sūshi (neg.pst) ‘did not do’ (used with eventive verbs in the past tense)
  • ñē (neg.cop) ‘is not’ (used with stative predicates in all non-past variants)
  • ñui (neg.cop.pst) ‘was not’ (used with stative predicates in the past tense)

Nominal inflection


Number marking in O Ayōndui offers three options:

  • The unmarked form of a noun can be used not only with a singular meaning, but also with a plural meaning in some situations (e.g. with numerals and other quantifiers, and in generic statements).
  • The plural (pl) is marked with the phrase-level enclitic =bai, which becomes =bē- before the definite article and =bar- before a vowel (which happens only when the plural-marked noun is used as a base for further derivation). It is used mostly for groups consisting of several specific individuals, often with a distributive or even pluractional shade of meaning, or with the implication that the size of the group is remarkable in some way.
  • The collective (coll) is marked with a phrase-level enclitic that appears as =ːmi word-finally (with lengthening of a preceding short vowel), as =mē- before the definite article, as =miəⁿ- before a consonant otherwise, and as =mī- before a vowel. It is used to refer to groups conceptualized as a whole, and it may also indicate that all members of the group are exhaustively referenced at the same time.

Focus, possession and definiteness

Noun phrases may also be marked with three different determiner-like morphemes:

  • The definite article (def) is a phrase-level enclitic that appears as =^sso word-finally, as =^h^- before a vowel (which happens only when the definiteness-marked noun is used as a base for further derivation), and as =^Q- before a consonant (i.e. as morphologically conditioned gemination). It is used for noun phrases that have already been established in the discourse and whose referent is known to both speaker and listener.
  • The construct state marker (cnstr) is a phrase-level enclitic that usually appears as =u, except after /u uː/ where it appears as =ːo, between two vowels where it appears as =w-, or when both preceded by short /i e/ and followed by a consonant where it combines with the preceding vowel into -iə-. This clitic selects the prevocalic extended stem form for nouns that have one. It is used to indicate that a noun is possessed, most typically in a semantically inalienable relationship.
  • The focus marker (foc) appears as =ñu word-finally, as =ñuⁿ- before non-nasal consonants, as =ñ- before vowels, and as =Q- (i.e. gemination) before nasals. It is used for noun phrases singled out by the speaker as "important" in some way, typically with contrastive emphasis. The focus marker is syntactically distinct from all other nominal morphology in that it operates as an enclitic not on the phrase level, but on the word level, so that it can also appear on non-final words in a noun phrase in order to draw attention to these words. (In the most innovative dialects, it can even be attached to other sentence constituents including verbs and adverbs.)

Core cases

There are two core cases in O Ayōndui:

  • The nominative (nom) is unmarked and functions as the citation form of a noun. It is used for the subjects of intransitive verbs, for the most agent-like argument of transitive verbs, for both arguments of non-verbal predicates, and as a default case in a couple of other situations.
  • The accusative (acc) is marked with the phrase-final enclitic =ri. It is used for the most patient-like argument of monotransitive verbs, for the recipient or experiencer argument of ditransitive verbs (but not for the theme argument, which means that ditransitive alignment in O Ayōndui is secundative), and also in a few specific situations elsewhere.

Relational pseudo-cases

In addition to the two core cases, O Ayōndui has a set of nine relational morphemes with adposition-like meanings which cliticise to the end of their referent noun phrase, and thus function more or less like a large extended case system. Morphologically, however, they are neither true case suffixes nor true enclitic postpositions, because they need to be extended with the attributive suffix -i in order to function as a full relational phrase (cf. the second column of the table below). Since this /i/ is always removed when the relationals serve as a base for further derivational processes, these so-called "pseudo-cases" are best described as derivational extensions themselves.

morpheme extended gloss function translation
=tu- =tui loc/gen locative-genitive ‘at, on, of, belonging to’
=naⁿ- =ːne ade adessive ‘near, in sight of, in front of’
=(i)g^- =(i)ge ine/part inessive-partitive ‘in, inside of, part of, made of’
=kan- =kani lat/ben lative-benefactive ‘towards, for, in order to, before, until’
=nūh^- =nūhe abl/avers ablative-aversive ‘from, due to, avoiding, in spite of, after, since’
=nz^- =ːnze perl perlative ‘among, between, through, across, during, while’
=^h^- =he com comitative ‘along with, having’
=(u)muⁿ- =(u)mui instr instrumental ‘with, by, using’
=shim- =shimi ess/mod essive-modal ‘as, like, in the role of, in the manner of’
  • The morpheme-initial /i/ of the inessive-partitive pseudo-case is deleted after long vowels, diphthongs, and short /i e/. It combines with preceding /a ə/ into ai, and with preceding /u o/ into .
  • The morpheme-initial /u/ of the instrumental pseudo-case is deleted after diphthongs. It combines with preceding /a ə/ into au, and surfaces as lengthening of any other preceding short vowel. After long /uː/ it appears as o.
  • The adessive pseudo-case combines with following short /i e/ into =ːne when word-final, and into =nēⁿ- otherwise. The equivalent combinations with following short /u o/ are =ːno and =nōⁿ-.
  • The comitative pseudo-case surfaces as =^Q°- (i.e. voiceless gemination) before any obstruent consonant. The ablative-aversive behaves similarly and appears as =nūQ°- in the same position.
  • When preceded by the definite article, the comitative marker is itself geminated to =^ff^-.
  • The inessive-partitive, ablative-aversive, perlative, and comitative pseudo-cases cause following /i a u iː uː iə̯ uə̯/ to undergo vowel laxing and thus to appear as e ə o ē ō ē ō.
  • The perlative morpheme appears in the allomorph =ːnz^- (with lengthening of a preceding short vowel) whenever it forms the onset of a word-final syllable.



As mentioned above, the relational pseudo-cases are best characterised as derivational morphemes; in particular, as verbalisers. Most of the pseudo-cases transparently create locative verbs, although it is not always predictable whether a given derivation will have stative or dynamic semantics:

  • retta ‘beach’ → rettatu- ‘be at the beach’ (locative)
  • sendou ‘village’ → sendōnaⁿ- ‘be near the village’ (adessive)
  • vasu ‘house’ → vasuəg(e)- ‘be inside the house’ (inessive)
  • getai ‘forest’ → getaikan(i)- ‘go towards the forest’ (lative)
  • āo ‘wind’ → āonūh(e)- ‘go away from the wind (i.e. with the wind in one's back)’ (ablative)
  • rāmi ‘field, arable land’ → rāminz(e)- ‘go across the field’ (perlative)

The comitative -^h^- tends to create stative verbs that describe a property for which the base noun plays an indirect role, sometimes metaphorically:

  • nēmbai ‘baby’ → nēmbaih(ə)- ‘be pregnant’
  • naivo ‘belly, stomach’ → naivoh(ə)- ‘be strong, be sturdy’

The instrumental -(u)muⁿ- creates verbs that denote an activity in which the (typically inanimate) base noun plays a central role, usually as a tool or as an intermediate participant:

  • ogo ‘hand’ → ogōmuⁿ- ‘touch, handle, take’
  • aihə ‘wing’ → aihaumuⁿ- ‘flap the wings’
  • dūmi(ⁿ) ‘sail (of a boat)’ → dūmīmuⁿ- ‘travel by sailing’
  • īdehe ‘arrow’ → īdehēmuⁿ- ‘shoot (arrows)’
  • gōzu ‘warrior’ → gōzūmuⁿ- ‘fight (collectively), be at war with’

The essive-modal -shim(i)- creates stative verbs that describe a typical property or activity of the referent of the base noun, often based on the idea that the current subject of the verb acts in a similar manner:

  • odau(ⁿ) ‘fish’ → odanjim(i)- ‘be a good swimmer’
  • nēmbai ‘baby, toddler’ → nēmbaishim(i)- ‘be clumsy’
  • gōzu ‘warrior’ → gōzushim(i)- ‘be brave, show courage’

-t(a)- forms stative or inchoative verbs that describe a typical property or activity of the referent of the base noun. This is often semantically similar to the essive-modal pseudo-case, but the connection is generally more abstract and sometimes idiomatic. (← *t(a)-cop’)

  • eshi ‘ice’ → eshit(a)- ‘freeze’
  • gaugu(ⁿ) ‘member of the village council’ → gaugund(a)- ‘take responsibility’

-^ssu- forms privative verbs (‘be without X, lack X’), often with slightly idiomatic semantics. (← *-siku(i) ‘not having’)

  • hebe ‘eye’ → hebessu- ‘be blind’
  • mānzu ‘salt’ → mānzossu- ‘taste bland; be boring’
  • viəsa ‘task, duty’ → viəsassu- ‘have fun, enjoy oneself’

-^ppət(a)- forms verbs that describe the process of taking or acquiring the referent of the base noun. The final /a/ is deleted before a vowel. (← PTul. *subat ‘get’)

  • odau(ⁿ) ‘fish’ → odōppət(a)- ‘go fishing’
  • tazai ‘shirt’ → tazēppət(a)- ‘get dressed’

-(i)ge- forms factitive verbs that describe the process of producing the referent of the base noun. The suffix appears as -(i)gi- before vowels, nasals and prenasalised consonants; the initial /i/ surfaces only after a consonant. (← *gbi- ‘build’)

  • kōppo ‘yarn, thread’ → kōppoge- ‘spin, make yarn’
  • zanau(ⁿ) ‘milk’ (n.) → zanāŋge- ‘milk’ (v.)

-(i)do- forms inchoative verbs that describe becoming something (with nouns), acquiring a quality (with adjectives and stative verbs), or the beginning of an action or process (with dynamic verbs). The suffix appears as -(i)du- before vowels, nasals and prenasalised consonants; the initial /i/ surfaces only after a consonant. (← *du- ‘come’)

  • ‘mother’ → mōndo- ‘give birth’
  • dui ‘big’ → duədo- ‘grow’
  • regə- ‘be friends with sb.’ → regədo- ‘get to know sb.’

-guni- forms intensive verbs, attaching to verbal and adjectival stems. With semantically stative stems, it is often used to denote a comparatively higher degree of the quality expressed by the base. (← *gbunea- ‘swell’)

  • hamuⁿ- ‘pull’ → hamuŋguni- ‘pull strongly, pull tight’
  • dui ‘big’ → duəguni- ‘be bigger than’

Similarly, -ːdi- forms attenuative verbs, attaching to verbal and adjectival stems. With semantically stative stems, it is often used to denote a comparatively lower degree of the quality expressed by the base. The suffix appears as -ːdeb- before a vowel. (← *deab- ‘ebb’)

  • tuəru- ‘laugh’ → tuərūdi- ‘smile (a little)’
  • nombə- ‘be warm’ → nombādi- ‘be less warm than’

-igə- forms verbs denoting perception, emotion, communication, or social behavior, attaching to any part of speech. The suffix appears as -ːgə- after a vowel other than short /a ə/. In older formations, preceding vowels are sometimes not lengthened. (← *-igba-)

  • ebedə- ‘float’ → ebedaigə- ‘waver, hesitate, have no idea what to do’
  • añaⁿ- ‘exert influence on’ → añaigə- ‘urge, convince, persuade’
  • hēm(i)- ‘burn, be on fire’ → hēŋgə- ‘be angry’
  • hōre ‘blood’ → hōrēgə- ‘hurt (emotionally)’
  • tamuⁿ- ‘be heavy’ → tamūŋgə- ‘be worried’

-ohe- is a very common verbaliser which forms dynamic verbs denoting physical actions, attaching to any part of speech. The suffix appears as -uhe- after /a ə/ and as -ːhe- after other vowels. Before a derivational suffix starting with an obstruent, the morpheme surfaces as -oQ°- / -uQ°- / -ːQ°- respectively (i.e. with voiceless gemination). Again, older formations do not always exhibit the expected vowel lengthening. (← *-usi-)

  • vove- ‘be drunk, be intoxicated’ → vovēhe- ‘drink alcohol, take drugs’
  • añaⁿ- ‘exert influence on’ → añauhe- ‘push, shove’
  • pūra ‘gift’ → pūrauhe- ‘give (as a gift)’
  • kayo ‘wood’ → kayōhe- ‘carve’
  • homi(ⁿ) ‘rain’ → homīhe- ‘be raining (of weather)’
  • vañi(ⁿ) ‘red’ → vañīhe- ‘paint sth. red’

-ai- forms gnomic stative verbs that refer to timeless or recurring natural processes or general states of affairs. It may attach to verbs and adjectives. The suffix appears as -ːi after a vowel (with preceding /i/ lowering to /e/ and preceding /e/ raising to /i/) and as -ːCe in word-final position after a consonant. (← *-ai)

  • buəmi- ‘return; continue’ → buəmēi- ‘flow (of tides)’
  • tige- ‘be located at’ → tigīe- ‘dwell at’

-iñiⁿ- forms verbs that denote habitual activities, attaching to both verbs and adjectives. The suffix appears as -ːñiⁿ- after a vowel other than short /a ə/. Note that the initial /i/ is immune to vowel laxing. (← *-iŋi-)

  • abo- ‘give’ → abōñiⁿ- ‘be generous’
  • dīsu- ‘trade, exchange’ → dīsūñiⁿ- ‘trade regularly, be a merchant’

-sa- forms verbs that denote a single repetition of an action or process, attaching only to verbal stems. The suffix appears as -sā- before non-geminated resonants and before prenasalised stops, as -sau- before other non-geminated consonants, and as -sab^- before vowels. Note that this /a/ is immune to vowel laxing and opaque to morphophonological nasalisation. (← *kab ‘do again (once)’)

  • gīhe- ‘build, create’ → giəssa- ‘rebuild, repair’
  • haika- ‘carry, bring’ → haikasa- ‘bring back’

-ndaⁿ- forms iterative or pluractional verbs, attaching only to verbal stems. The suffix appears as -ndam- before vowels. (← *madam ‘do repeatedly’)

  • ñanaⁿ- ‘speak, say’ → ñanandaⁿ- ‘say again, say several times’
  • tusu- ‘do’ → tusundaⁿ- ‘repeat, continue, practice’

The three suffixes -und(a)- (← *-um t(a)- ‘be X-ed’), -ō- (← *hu- ‘fall’), and -^ssə- (← *haga- ‘eat’) all attach only to verbal stems and form mediopassive verbs with a reduced valency. The semantic differences between the three markers are not entirely clear. However, with semantically ditransitive base verbs -und(a)- forms theme-centred passives and -^ssə- forms recipient-centred passives. The latter also tends to occur mostly with verbs denoting communication or social behaviour, whereas physical action verbs tend to take -ō- instead. In terms of lexical aspect, both -ō- and -^ssə- tend to denote processes, whereas -und(a)- tends to form resultative passives.

  • jimiⁿ- ‘kill’ → jimiō- ‘get killed’
  • añauhe- ‘push, shove’ → añauheō- ‘get pushed’
  • hēŋgə- ‘be angry’ → hēŋgəssə- ‘get blamed, have anger directed at oneself’
  • abo- ‘give’ → abossə- ‘get, receive, be given sth.’
  • dīsu- ‘trade, exchange’ → dīsund(a)- ‘be traded, be exchanged (of goods)’
  • mbīrə- ‘tie, fasten’ → mbīrund(a)- ‘be attached to, be restrained’

There are also two valency-increasing morphemes that form causative verbs, attaching to other verbal stems:

-ːob(e)- forms direct causatives. It appears as -ːub(e)- after /o oː/ and as -ōb(e)- after consonants; the final /e/ is deleted before vowels and shifts to /i/ before nasals and prenasalised consonants. (← *haub- ‘cause’)

  • nōⁿ- ‘eat’ → nōub(e)- ‘feed’
  • kainuⁿ- ‘sleep’ → kainūob(e)- ‘put to sleep (of children)’
  • hēm(i)- ‘burn, be on fire’ → hēmōb(e)- ‘light up, ignite’

-(a)bo- is a more indirect causative, often with permissive semantics. It appears as -(a)bu- before vowels, nasals and prenasalised consonants; the initial /a/ surfaces only after a consonant. (← *abu- ‘give’)

  • tusu- ‘do’ → tusubo- ‘allow, permit’
  • duədo- ‘grow’ → duədobo- ‘raise, keep (of animals)’
  • hēŋgə- ‘be angry’ → hēŋgəbo- ‘annoy, disturb, irritate’

Finally, the suffix -shi- negates the meaning of the base verb, sometimes with not fully predictable semantics. (← *-ki-)

  • nōⁿ- ‘eat’ → nōnji- ‘fast, abstain from eating’
  • ayūi- ‘stay, remain’ → ayūishi- ‘leave, abandon’
  • tusubo- ‘allow, permit’ → tusuboshi- ‘deny, forbid’
  • gōzushim(i)- ‘be brave, show courage’ → gōzushinji- ‘be shy, be timid’


-Ø- (i.e. zero derivation) forms action nouns from verbs. It should be noted that these nouns cannot be used as a base for further derivation; or in other words, derivational affixes added to a bare verbal stem always treat the base as a verb, never as an action noun.

  • tuəru- ‘laugh’ → tuəru ‘laughter’
  • mōndo- ‘give birth’ → mōndo ‘birth’
  • gīhe- ‘build’ → gīhe ‘the process of building’

-a forms nouns for people or things associated with the base verb, usually in a subject role. It is most commonly found immediately after a pseudo-case morpheme. The suffix appears as -ā- before non-geminated resonants and before prenasalised stops, as -au- before other non-geminated consonants, and as -ab^- before vowels. Note that this /a/ is immune to vowel laxing and opaque to morphophonological nasalisation. (← *-ab)

  • vasu ‘house’ + -(i)g^-ine/part’ → vasuəga ‘inhabitant (of a house)’
  • nēmbai ‘baby’ + -^h^-com’ → nēmbaiha ‘pregnant woman’

-(i)te forms nouns for people from any part of speech. If the base is a transitive verb, the derived noun usually represents the most agent-like participant. The suffix appears as -(i)tī- before consonants and as -(i)tib^- before vowels; the initial /i/ surfaces only after a consonant. (← *tib ‘person’)

  • mūnzo ‘sheep’ → mūnzote ‘shepherd’
  • kai ‘bee’ → kaite ‘beekeeper’
  • mbeshim(i)- ‘be related to’ → mbeshinde ‘relative’

-u(ⁿ) forms nouns that refer to the patient or theme of the base verb. The suffix appears as -ːo(ⁿ) after /u uː uə̯/ and as -um-/-ːom- before vowels. Note that this /u/ is immune to vowel laxing. (← *-um, with some influence from *hu ‘speech’)

  • ñepp(i)- ‘blend, mix’ → ñeppu(ⁿ) ‘stew’
  • tibe- ‘play’ → tibiu(ⁿ) ‘toy’
  • tuəp(i)- ‘hunt’ → tuəpu(ⁿ) ‘game animal, prey’

-^(e)he forms inanimate nouns denoting products or derived substances from any part of speech. The suffix appears as -^(e)Q°- before obstruent consonants; the initial /e/ surfaces only after a consonant. (← *-si)

  • rāñi(ⁿ) ‘leather’ → rāñēhe ‘armor’
  • sāpi ‘fire’ → sāpihe ‘ashes’

-(i)ŋai forms nouns denoting areas or other rather large locations, attaching to any part of speech. The suffix appears as -(i)ŋai- before consonants and as -(i)ŋar- before vowels. When followed by a sequence of a short vowel and a plosive, the short vowel is elided and the nominaliser appears as -(i)ŋā+. The initial /i/ surfaces only after a consonant and is immune to vowel laxing. (← *ŋmal ‘land’)

  • dui ‘big’ → duəŋai ‘the mainland’
  • enza ‘hill, mountain’ → enzaŋai ‘highlands’
  • puhə- ‘meet, gather’ → puhəŋai ‘village square’

-ˇ(i)mi forms nouns denoting specific places or other rather small locations, attaching to any part of speech. The suffix appears as -ˇ(i)ⁿ- before obstruent consonants, as -ˇ(i)Q- before nasals, and as -ˇ(i)m- before /i iː iə̯ e/. Preceding short vowels are deleted after a nasal, and preceding non-deleted lax vowels become tense. The initial /i/ surfaces only after a consonant and is immune to vowel laxing. (← *-mi)

  • tuədo ‘stone, rock’ → tuədumi ‘cliff’
  • əŋūⁿ- ‘stab, pierce’ → əŋūmi ‘wound’

In addition to the above suffixes, O Ayōndui also has some prefixing morphology with nominalising function. These can all attach only to nouns:

a- forms nouns denoting an associated person. (← *a-(-b) ‘inhabitant of’)

  • Yōndui ‘Yōndui islands’ → ayōndui ‘an Ayōndui person’
  • rāmi ‘field, arable land’ → arāmi ‘farmer’

ē+ forms nouns denoting an associated diminutive or derived entity. The prefix appears as er- before vowels. (← *hil ‘child’)

  • īre ‘foot’ → erīre ‘toe’
  • sāpi ‘fire’ → ēzāpi ‘flame, spark’

məQ- forms augmentative nouns. The prefix appears as mb^- before vowels. (← *mab ‘big’)

  • eki ‘crab’ → mbeki ‘lobster’
  • piəni(ⁿ) ‘basket’ → məppiəni(ⁿ) ‘storehouse’

Last but not least, there is also one productive derivational infix. It can attach only to nouns, and is normally placed before the final syllable of the stem. With monosyllabic nouns, it appears as a suffix instead.

‹pi› forms diminutive nouns, often with affectionate semantics. If the preceding syllable starts with a nasal, the infix appears as ‹mbi› and a following prenasalised plosive is denasalised (and additionally devoiced when followed by a tense vowel). (← *‹pi›)

  • minda ‘dog’ → mimbita ‘puppie, baby dog’
  • botu ‘honey’ → bopitu ‘mead’


O Ayōndui has a small closed class of only 21 basic lexical adjectives. All other adjectival concepts are lexically encoded as verbs. In order to use a verb attributively, it must be morphologically converted into a participial adjective with an attributive marker. It should be noted that the words derived in this way are still syntactically distinct from true lexical adjectives though.

-i derives participial adjectives describing the subject of the base verb. This suffix appears as -e after stem-final long /iː/, as zero after stem-final short /i/, and it combines with stem-final short /e/ into -i. (← *-i)

  • fuəm(i)- ‘be curious, investigate’ → fuəmi ‘curious, inquisitive’
  • nīŋga- ‘fear’ → nīŋgai ‘scared’
  • kainuⁿ- ‘sleep’ → kainui ‘sleeping’
  • tauhe- ‘sit’ → tauhi ‘sitting’

-sui is the negative counterpart to the preceding suffix; it derives participial adjectives describing the subject of a negated base verb. (← *-kui)

  • kainuⁿ- ‘sleep’ → kainunzui ‘not sleeping’
  • shizo- ‘go, move’ → shizosui ‘not moving, motionless, still’
  • yauhe- ‘stop, cease, halt’ → yōssui ‘endless, continuous’

Semantic fine-tuning of participial adjectives is possible with inflectional suffixes and any of the available verb-to-verb derivation strategies. For instance, tense inflection may be used to specify the temporal validity of the attribution:

  • zūru- ‘be dirty, be unordered’ + -ū-pst’ → zūrūi ‘formerly dirty’
  • ōhaigə- ‘sing’ + -ŋōⁿ-vol’ → ōhaigaŋōi ‘wanting to sing’

Or the intensive and attenuative suffixes may be used to indicate a stronger or weaker degree of the attributed property:

  • tō- ‘be cold’ + -guni-intens’ → tōguni ‘very cold; colder’
  • tamuⁿ- ‘be heavy’ + -ːdi-atten’ → tamūndebi ‘a little heavy; less heavy’

Or a valency-decreasing passive suffix may be used in order to arrive at a participial adjective that describes the patient of the base verb:

  • mbīrə- ‘tie, fasten’ + -und(a)-thm.pass’ → mbīrundi ‘attached, connected, fastened’
  • hēŋgə- ‘be angry’ + -^ssə-rec.pass’ → hēŋgəssai ‘blamed, accused’

Complex derivational strategies

TO DO...

Minor word types


There are only 21 basic lexical adjectives in O Ayōndui, which mostly encode concepts from the semantic domains of size, value, age, and color:

word translation
dui ‘big, large, important’
aka ‘big, thick, wide, loose’
iəmə ‘high, long, tall’
ūma ‘middle-sized’
sui ‘small, short’
hōi ‘small, thin, narrow, tight’
īde ‘proper, real, true, correct’
veri ‘good, nice, beautiful, valuable, useful’
apui ‘bad, rotten, damaged, flawed, ugly, wrong’
bohə ‘odd, strange, unusual’
dāni ‘full, whole, complete’
vai ‘empty, hungry, clean, lacking usual conditions’
nai ‘new, young’
atiu ‘old’
sēhə ‘sharp, hard, solid’
havo ‘white, bright’
odini ‘black, dark’
vañi ‘red, brown’
beta ‘green, raw, unripe’
mai ‘blue’

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns inflect for the two core cases nominative and accusative in a regular manner. However, there is also an additional possessive case in -nu that has no parallel in full nouns. Masculine and feminine referents are distinguished for all three persons in the singular, and the first person plural has a clusivity distinction.

singular plural
1sg masc. 1sg fem. 2sg masc. 2sg fem. 3sg masc. 3sg fem. 1pl incl. 1pl excl. 2pl 3pl
nominative ŋa ŋu ze zo ha ho ŋanzo ŋuŋgo zozo
accusative ŋari ŋuri zeri zori hari hori ŋanzuri ŋuŋguri zozori fōri
possessive ŋanu ŋunu jinu zunu hanu honu ŋanzunu ŋuŋgunu zozunu fōnu

Personal pronouns can also serve as a base for the relational pseudo-case suffixes:

for me / towards me
in front of them


There are two demonstratives, shī ‘this’ and ‘that’. They can be used both as pronouns and as determiners; in the latter situation they appear before their referent, which must be marked as focused or definite.

this village
that tree over there (accusative)


O Ayōndui has retained the Proto-Lukpanic base-5 counting system mostly unchanged. The cardinal numeral for ‘one’ was replaced with a reflex of the originally distributive *ka though, the word for ‘six’ is a shortened reflex of *naəp ugbu ‘new hand’, and the irregular ordinal for ‘second’ is based on the borrowed root *hiti (from Proto-Tulameya *het), which was in use as a variant form of ‘two’ for some time.

cardinal ordinal additive
0 biu
1 sa oppu sarə
2 ŋē otti ŋīrə
3 oi ūi oirə
4 odō dōrə
5 ñū uñū
6 naigo unaigo
7 yāŋe uyāŋe
8 yōi uyōi
9 yādo uyādo
10 ŋīmbe uŋīmbe
15 ōre ūre
20 odē
25 zabau ombau

Numerals follow the noun they modify, which is typically unmarked for plurality. Adding the plural suffix -bai is optional and implies that the number is greater than expected:

four boats
eight dogs (wow, so many of them!)

Numbers higher than ten are formed with the nearest multiple of five, followed by the additive version of the appropriate numeral between one and four:

eleven houses

For numbers higher than 25, the word zabau serves as an additional base:

thirty-three fish

Ordinals are formed with the prefix u- added to the first numeral in the phrase, with a few irregularities.

the twenty-second day


TO DO...