Ray Tyuwey Išup

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Ray Tyuwey Išup
[raj cʊˈβej ʔɪˈʃup]
Period c. 1 YP
Spoken in northwestern Tuysáfa
Total speakers unknown
Writing system none
Classification Ronquian
 Ray Tyuwey Išup
Basic word order VSO
Morphology mixed
Alignment split ergative
Created by CatDoom

Ray Tyuwey Išup (abbreviated as RTI) is a Ronquian language spoken by the Tyuwey Išup (the "people of the river delta") in northwestern Tuysáfa.



 labial   dental/alveolar   retroflex   alveolo-palatal   palatal   velar   glottal 
plosives p ʈ c ~ t̠ʲ k ʔ
affricates t̪͡s̪ t͡ʃ
fricatives ʃ h
nasals m n ɲ
approximants w l · r~ɾ ʎ · j
  • /t̪ ʈ c t̪͡s̪ t͡ʃ s̪ ʃ ɲ ʎ j/ are written t tr ty c č s š ň ly y.


 front   back 
close i · iː u · uː
mid ɛ · ɛː ɔ · ɔː
open a(ː)
  • /ɛ ɔ/ are written e o
  • Long vowels are written with doubled graphemes: ii uu ee oo


The basic syllable structure is (C)V(ː)(C). Consonant clusters may occur only across syllable boundaries, and never consist of more than two consonants. Geminate consonants are permitted as consonant clusters. Words phonemically beginning in a vowel are phonetically realized with an initial glottal stop, which is not represented in the orthography.

Any consonant may occur as an onset, while syllable codas may be any one of the set p t k s š m n ň l r ly. The consonants ty and t͡ʃ may also occur as codas, but only as geminate consonants on a syllable boundary.

In addition, the semivowels w and y may occur at the end of a syllable as part of one of five diphthongs: [ej], [oj], [ow], [aj], [aw]. These are treated, in terms of prosody and phonotactics, as short vowels followed by a coda consonant, and are written ey oy ow ay aw.

Phonetic detail

  • The plosives t tr and ty are all archetypally realized as coronal stops. t is a laminal stop with a place ranging from interdental to denti-alveolar, while tr is, properly speaking, an apical postalveolar stop and ty is a laminal postalveolar or prepalatal stop, often articulated with a palatal offglide. Both of the postalveolar stops are frequently affricated to some degree, and can be considered to be in free variation with [ʈ͡ʂ] and [c͡ç], respectively.
  • The plosives p t tr ty k are aspirated [pʰ t̪ʰ ʈʰ cʰ kʰ] word-initially before stressed syllables, as well as when geminated and when following another stop. Between sonorants they are voiced [b d̪ ɖ ɟ g] unless they occupy the onset of the primary stressed syllable.
  • Fricatives and affricates are typically always voiceless and unaspirated, regardless of their position in a word.
  • k tends to be pronounced as a fricative [ɣ] or approximant [ɰ] between vowels when not in the onset of a stressed syllable, although [g] is generally preferred in careful speech.
  • The pronunciation of r varies freely between [r] and [ɾ] in all positions, with the former being preferred in careful speech and the latter occurring most commonly in rapid speech.
  • The approximants w j are generally fricativized to [β ʝ] or [v ʝ] in the onset of stressed syllables. The bilabial and labio-dental allophones of w are in more or less free variation, though one of the two is usually more prevalent in any given dialect.
  • There is no phonemic distinction between long and short a, but the sound tends to be lengthened in stressed, open syllables, while in unstressed syllables it is often realized as [ɐ].
  • Short i u are realized as [ɪ ʊ] in unstressed syllables.


RTI has a dynamic stress accent which falls on the last syllable of a word containing a long vowel, and on the final syllable if all of the vowels in the word are short. In words of three or more syllables, a secondary accent falls on every second syllable towards the left (counting from the stressed syllable), or occasionally on the third syllable towards the left if that syllable is long and both intervening syllables are short. If a word is stressed on an early syllable because of a long vowel, a secondary accent will also appear on the final syllable if does not immediately follow the syllable with primary stress.

Types of words


Every RTI noun falls into one of three grammatical genders: human, animate, and inanimate. These are not marked on the noun itself in the singular number, but inanimate nouns generally form the plural in a different manner from human and animate nouns, and gender is marked in pronouns, articles, and case-marking clitics. In addition, RTI dinstinguishes nouns in two "states" (termed absolute and construct), which are usually not expressed through noun morphology but instead distinguished by syntax and the use of articles.

RTI nouns are morphologically marked only for number (singular vs. plural) and case (absolutive vs. ergative). Number is usually marked through the use of an affix, while case is marked using a proclitic, which attaches to the first word in a noun phrase.


There are two main methods for forming the plural number:

Most inanimate nouns, as well as some human and animate nouns, are marked with the prefix ri-. With noun stems beginning in a vowel, the prefix becomes r-. Human and animate nouns marked in this manner usually refer to collective groups or non-living natural phenomena, but this is not always the case.

  • hipu ‘window’ → pl rihipu
  • hem ‘flood’ → pl rihem
  • traňey ‘family, clan’ → pl ritraňey
  • upal ‘fingertip’ → pl rupal
  • čom ‘evening’ → pl ričom

Most human and animate nouns, on the other hand, form the plural using the infix -uh-, which follows the onset of the first syllable of the stem. When a noun marked in this manner is used in the construct state, the infix becomes -uw-; this is the only case in which the construct state is regularly marked morphologically.

  • pel ‘friend’ → pl puhel
  • tat ‘rabbit’ → pl tuhat
  • tyey ‘person’ → pl tyuhey
  • oomol ‘knuckle’ → pl uhoomol
  • haš ‘animal’ → pl huhaš

In addition to these patterns, a few animate nouns referring to body parts use the suffix -t, or occasionally -n, to mark the plural, which in some cases also triggers changes in the stem vowel.

  • ňe ‘eye’ → pl ňot
  • traw ‘shoulder’ → pl trot
  • čuu ‘thigh’ → pl čot
  • mul ‘hand’ → pl mut
  • wee ‘lip’ → pl wan

Finally, some nouns have irregular or suppletive plurals.

  • rep ‘boy’ → pl pep
  • šiš ‘woman’ → pl lay
  • čiš ‘ram (male sheep)’ → pl čuha
  • raš ‘mare (female horse)’ → pl can
  • putreš ‘soul, spirit’ → pl uha


In some syntactic environments, Ray Tyuwey Išup requires the agent of a clause to be marked for the ergative case, using a proclitic which attaches to the first word of the noun phrase. When applied to human and animate nouns, this proclitic (glossed as erg) takes the form tri=, or tru= before a labial consonant. When used with inanimate nouns, it takes the form wo=, which causes a short /i/ or /u/ in the following syllable to shift to /e/ or /o/, respectively. Before words beginning with a vowel, the clitics become tr= and w=, neither of which triggers any vowel shifts.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns make more distinctions than nouns, having separate forms for singular (sg), dual (du), paucal (pc), and plural (pl) number, as well as three distinct series of 3rd person pronouns which refer to human, animate, and inanimate entities respectively.

singular    dual    paucal plural
1st person ra rat tita hay
2nd person ow wun tupow wor
3rd person human či čut tiči ňiči
3rd person animate puu pon tupuu mupuu
3rd person inanimate tro čitey titey nitey


The main types of determiners used in RTI are articles, demonstratives, and quantifiers. These generally immediately precede precede the noun they modify.


The most frequently occurring determiners in RTI are articles, which are used to specify definiteness, gender and (somewhat indirectly) state in nouns.

The indefinite article (glossed as indef) is usually used when a speaker introduces new participants into discourse or to indicate that a speaker is making a general statement and does not have a particular referent or group of referents in mind. A different article is used for referents of each gender: human nouns take the article tyeyhu, animate nouns take the article uuhu, and inanimate nouns take the article iihu

The definite article (glossed as def) is used to refer to specific referents that have already been established in discourse. The article či is used with both human and animate nouns, while the article hi is used with inanimate nouns.

Because no word is permitted to intervene between a noun in the construct state and its compliment, the compliment of a construct state noun never takes an article. Furthermore, nouns in the construct state are presumed to be definite by default, and are never marked with a definite article. The same is true of nouns in the ergative case, though in either instance a noun may still take an indefinite article when appropriate.

Proper nouns are always definite by default, and generally do not take articles.


A dog barks.
A man listens.
The man owns the dog.
The man's dog barks.


RTI makes use of two demonstratives: trin ‘this, these’ and šuu ‘that, those’. These appear before the full noun phrase to which they refer, which must normally also take an article unless in the construct state or the ergative case. Demonstratives may also refer to 2nd or 3rd person pronouns.


this rock
those [things over there]
this old woman (ergative)


Most non-numeral quantifiers in RTI have separate roots for use with human and animate nouns on the one hand, and for use with inanimate nouns on the other hand.

human /
inanimate used with
no, none he sg/pl
some, a few ňey yay pl
many, much, a lot of ri rihi pl
each, every ne hit sg/pl
all ree wuwat pl
  • he ‘no, none of’ appears with the singular if it is used to contrast zero against one referent, and with the plural when it is used in a partitive sense or to contrast zero against more than one referents.
  • ne and hit (both translated as ‘each, every’) are distributive in meaning and usually appear with the singular forms of nouns. The plural is only used when a partitive meaning is intended (‘each one of’).
  • ree and wuwat (both translated as ‘all’) have collective semantics. Like ňey / yay ‘some, a few’ and ri / rihi ‘many, much, a lot of’, they typically govern the plural.
  • When used with pronouns, all quantifiers except ňey / yay may also appear with the dual or paucal number. The semantics of such constructions are always partitive.


RTI uses a mixed base-6/base-24 counting system. The basic numerals are:

cardinal ordinal
1 piš puš
2 čey čiho
3 truk reytruk
4 pal reypal
5 huu reyhuu
6 sa reysa
12 šat reyšat
18 kol reykol
24 tree reytree


Ray Tyuwey Išup makes a basic distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs; an unmodified transitive verb may not be used in an intransitive construction, and vice versa. The valence of a verb may be modified, however, through passive and causative constructions. Verbs may also be marked for the perfective and iterative aspects and the interrogative mood, while additional grammatical categories are primarily indicated using verbal auxiliaries.

The Causative

The causative increases the valency of a verb by adding a new agent, demoting the original subject to direct object, and shifting any existing direct object to a prepositional phrase.

The causative (glossed as caus) is marked with a prefix that usually appears as r- before stems beginning in a vowel, as ru- before a labial consonant, and as ri- before any other consonant.


The mother puts the baby to sleep.

The Passive

The passive reduces the valency of a transitive verb and promotes the direct object to the subject role. The original subject may optionally be included in the clause as well, but must be marked with the ergative proclitic tri=/wo=.

The passive voice (glossed as pass) is marked with the prefix čohe-. When affixed to a stem beginning in a vowel, the prefix is shortened to čoh-. Like the inanimate ergative proclitic, this allomorph of the passive prefix causes a short /i/ or /u/ in the following syllable to shift to /e/ or /o/, respectively.


The bread is eaten.
The deer is killed by an arrow.

The Perfective

Unmarked verbs in Ray Tyuwey Išup are, by default, interpreted as imperfective, meaning that they refer to ongoing or habitual actions or states, or are used to express general truths. The perfective aspect, on the other hand, is used to describe a single, completed event or a state that is no longer ongoing.

The perfective (glossed as pfv) is marked with the free-standing particle hiitem, which is placed immediately before the verb phrase. Any auxiliaries or prefixes further modifying the verb invariably come after the perfective particle, as it is syntatically treated as standing outside of the verb phrase proper. If the modified verb is transitive, the agent of the verb must be shifted to clause-final position and marked for the ergative case, in much the same manner as the original subject of a passive clause.


The king dies.
The king has died.
The bread has been eaten.
I have eaten the bread.

The Interrogative

Questions in Ray Tyuwey Išup are generally formed using the interrogative mood, which transforms a clause into a polar ("yes or no") question. Other types of questions are formed through specialized syntax, but likewise involve the use of the interrogative.

The interrogative mood (glossed as pfv) is marked using the infix -is-, which follows the onset of the first syllable in the verb stem. Following a labial consonant, the infix is realized as -us-, while before /i/ it becomes -iš- (or -uš-).


Is the baby sleeping?
Has the wheat grown?

The Iterative

RTI verb stems may be fully reduplicated in order to mark the iterative aspect. The iterative expresses that an event takes place or a state is entered repeatedly or frequently, or that the action or state persists for a particularly long time. In certain contexts, it may also be used to express that an action is resumed after an interruption.

Note that any prefixes or clitics attached to the verb are not reduplicated, appearing attached to the first instance of the verb stem. On the other hand, the interrogative infix is repeated, in cases where a verb is marked both interrogative and iterative.


Grandfather and grandmother talk and talk.
Has his aunt resumed mending his cloak? [said after the aunt had previously stopped for a time]


The primary markers of tense, aspect, and mood (TAM) in Ray Tywey Išup are auxiliaries. Many of these are specialized verbs which may, depending on their syntactic context, either stand as the core of their own verb phrase or serve as a function morpheme modifying another verb. On the other hand, some (such as the negative, imperative, and evidential markers) are fully grammaticalized function morphemes that never stand on their own.

For the most part, each auxiliary primarily marks a single aspectual or modal category, but most are also taken to denote a particular tense in the absence of more explicit temporal markers. However, some auxiliaries can convey information falling into all three categories, or serve different functions depending on the context in which they appear.

Although they do not form a unified group semantically, auxiliaries are discussed together here because they behave in a similar way morphosyntactically, variously appearing as proclitics or as phonologically independent words based on semantic and prosodic considerations:

  • Disyllabic auxiliaries appear as free-standing words unless they fall immediately before a syllable containing a long vowel.
  • Monosyllabic auxiliaries typically appear as proclitics unless they fall in a position where they would take secondary stress.
  • An auxiliary may always appear as free-standing word if the speaker wishes to emphasize it for pragmatic reasons.

It is also worth noting that several of the auxiliaries are compatible only with certain types of verbs, or change their meaning to some extent depending on the verb with which they are used. For example, in order to express inceptive aspect or immediate future, most telic verbs are marked with the auxiliary truu (truukum ra hi čihek "I’ll eat the bread now"), while motion verbs require the auxiliary siyey (siyey čay ra "I’ll leave you now" and stative and atelic verbs require the auxiliary lo (loyeň ra "I’ll sleep now").

Although most verb phrases contain no more than one auxiliary, it is possible to combine them, to the extent that it is semantically useful. When two or more of these morphemes are present, they generally occur in the order in which they are presented below.

The Experiential Aspect

The experiential aspect ascribes to a subject the quality of having experienced an event or state. This necessarily places the verb in the past, and emphasizes it's relevance in the present, usually by indicating that the subject is competent to perform an action or to make informed judgements regarding an event or state.

The auxiliary truš, from the verb meaning "know (facts)", marks the experiential aspect. As a proclitic, it takes the form trow= before consonants and truč= before vowels. It is glossed as exp.

The Inceptive Aspect and the Immediate Future

The inceptive aspect indicates that an event is about to begin, is beginning already, or has just begun, while the immediate future tense refers to an event that is about to occur very soon. Both may be marked with one of three auxiliaries, depending on the type of verb which is being modified. When used in this fashion, all three are glossed as inc.

The auxiliary truu, from the verb meaning "begin," is used with telic events which do not primarily describe motion. Its proclitic form is truu= before consonants and trow before vowels.

The auxiliary siyey, from the verb meaning "rise", is used with motion verbs. Its proclitic form is siyey= before consonants and usually appears as as siyir= before vowels. Before syllables beginning in /j/, the medial cluster /jj/ is realized as [ccʰ].

The auxiliary lo, from a verb meaning "come", is used with atelic activities and stative verbs. Its proclitic form is lo= before consonants and l= before vowels.

The Energetic Mood

The energetic mood expresses commitment and determination on the part of the subject, or a stronger-than-usual intensity of the referenced action or state. It is marked with the auxiliary titri, from the verb meaning "try". As a proclitic, it tales the form titri= before consonants and titr= before vowels.

The Obligative Mood

The obligative mood indicates that a hypothetical or future event is considered to be required or certain due to social obligation or logical necessity. It is marked with the auxiliary šo, from the verb meaning "get". As a proclitic, it takes the form šo= before consonants and š= before vowels.

The Optative Mood and the Prospective Aspect

The optative mood indicates that a hypothetical or future event is considered desirable and/or looked forward to, while the prospective aspect is used to express that a favorable event is about the occur. Both are marked by the same auxiliary, ar, from the verb meaning "want". As a proclitic, it takes the form aw= before consonants and ar= before vowels. When the clitic falls before a syllable beginning in /w/, the medial cluster /ww/ is realized as [ppʰ]. It is glossed as opt.

The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is used to issue orders, and can be formed in one of two ways. An unmarked verb stem may be used to express a strong imperative when the order is being addressed to a second person subject, in which case the subject is dropped from the sentence. In addition to being somewhat limited in application, this is considered rude under most circumstances, and is mostly used in circumstances that call for heightened intensity and urgency.

The second method, which produces a weaker and more polite imperative, is to use the auxiliary šopor. As a proclitic, it takes the form šopow- before consonants and šopor= before vowels. When the clitic falls before a syllable beginning in /w/, the medial cluster /ww/ is realized as [ppʰ]. It is glossed as imp.

It should be noted that neither of the imperative auxiliaries may co-occur with any other TAM auxiliary, with the interrogative auxiliary, or with any evidential marker.

The Potential Mood

The potential mood indicates that a hypothetical future event is considered possible but uncertain. It is most often used to express that an event seems unlikely or when explaining that it is contingent on on some other event or state.

The auxiliary tra marks the potential mood. As a proclitic, it takes the form tra= before consonants and tr= before vowels. It is glossed as pot.


A clause may be negated using the auxiliary peš. As a proclitic, it takes the form pii= before consonants and peč= before vowels.


Verb clauses in Ray Tyuwey Išup may optionally be marked for evidentiality, particularly if the described event took place in the past and/or when the speaker was not directly involved in it. There are three different evidential auxiliaries, called the direct, the inferential, and the reportative.

The direct evidential, glossed as dir, indicates certainty on the part of the speaker regarding the veracity of a statement, and emphasizes that that the speaker has direct evidence that the described event took place. It is marked with the auxiliary yii. As a proclitic, it takes the form yii= before consonants and yey= before vowels.

The inferential evidential, glossed as infer indicates that the speaker believes the statement to be true based on circumstantial evidence, general knowledge, or the speaker's own reasoning. It is marked with the auxiliary hey. As a proclitic, it appears as how= before labial consonants, hey= before all other consonants, and huw= before a vowel. When the clitic falls before a syllable beginning in /w/, the medial cluster /ww/ is realized as [ppʰ]. It is glossed as opt.

The reportative evidential, glossed as rep, indicates that the speaker has only second-hand knowledge of the described event, and cannot be certain if the statement is true. It is marked with the auxiliary tray. As a proclitic, it always takes the form tray=, but before syllables beginning in /j/, the medial cluster /jj/ is realized as [ccʰ].


Ray Tyuwey Išup Lexicon