Talk:Isles languages/Issues in Isles Linguistics

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The list of unexplained features found in the daughter languages

(Solved issues to be struck out; proposed solutions are better placed in the discussion area below)

Recurrent features

  • Adjectives and/or attributive nouns placed after the head noun without additional morphological marking: Ppãrwak, Zele (the position of the declinable adjectives/possessives of Mûtsipsa' is probably a different issue)
  • Arguments placed after verbs: Zele (the default SVO, "passive" OVS construction), Mûtsipsa' ("passive" construction); the default VSO in Máotatšàlì may be an unrelated development
  • Non-canonical case choice with postpositions: Zele ("dative" and "ablative" endings, apparently based on PI postpositions, are attached to bare stems rather than the accusative or a form based on another PI case), Mûtsipsa' (postpositions with nominative and benefactive besides accusative, dative and instrumental); (perhaps, also the forms of postpositions in Ppãrwak that look a bit strange phonetically)
  • Forms with the PI subjunctive marker found in all tenses (rather than only in those based on PI non-sensory past): Ppãrwak (subjunctive), Máotatšàlì (non-sensory mood)


  • "Noun marker" e (i. e. nominal group marker; is obligatorily used after case endings but not after postpositions)
  • Nominative ending -(i)p.
  • Accusative = bare stem ( = attributive form); in principle, can be explained phonetically, but this will require an exception for postpositions looking like mergers of the PI accusative ending with a PI postposition
  • Suffix of substantivized verbs -(i)p (attested in the sample text).
  • Position of adjectives: can be placed after the head noun but before the nominal group marker -e.
  • Tense distinctions in subjunctive: the subjunctive marker -ppwak can be added to the stem of any tense (rather than only to the lexical stem ← non-sensory past)
  • Tense conjugation: various forms that seem difficult to explain phonetically
  • Gender markers (feminine -ti, masculine -ta) in personal pronouns (difficult to derive directly from 'daughter' and 'son' for the respective PI phrases would mean 'my daughter' etc. rather than 'I who am daughter' etc.)
  • The formality marker in personal pronouns (teya-) of obscure origin


  • SVO as the default WO
  • OVS in "passive" clauses
  • Genitive (historically = bare stem) can be put after its head noun
  • Dative ending ← PI háq 'in front of'? (attached to bare stem?)
  • Ablative ending ← PI hapaq 'behind'? (attached to bare stem?)
  • (Prefixed) "go denotes that the noun is the object of a relative clause."
  • Appositive marker zhi is indeclinable (clearly from nom. of the PI essive/equative marker)

Mûtsipsa' (presumably, also Kozzaŋ Fasa?)

  • Adjectives (and attributive nouns) must agree with their head noun in case and number (and in declension class???)
  • Adjectives are mostly prepositive, but can "be placed anywhere in a clause"
  • Adverbs "can technically go anywhere in the clause"
  • Postpositive negation particle of unclear origin
  • Exception to V-last WO rule: in passives, the agent in instrumental (or benefactive) must be placed after the verb
  • The conjunction 'and' when connecting clauses must be in nominative (rather than a form based on bare stem)
  • Position of 'and' connecting two nominal groups: "cart horse and" for 'cart and horse'
  • Conjunctions other than 'and': "the dog the meat ate the wolf or" for 'the dog or the wolf ate the meat'
  • Postpositions with nominative and benefactive (besides accusative, dative and instrumental)
  • Postpositions put before a pronoun (found in the sample texts)


  • WO: (strictly?) V-first
  • Lexical derivation patterns based on metatony
  • Tense and mood system (tone-based distinctions in particular)
  • Free derivation of non-sensory mood (forms in -pao, -paš, -páš, presumably based on PI subjunctive) for all tenses
  • Prefixed aspect markers
  • Tone-based distinctions in prefixed aspect markers
  • Prefixed intensity markers in adjectives/adverbs

Discussion area

Please add/discuss proposed solutions in the appropriate section(s) below.

Shared features and potential common developments




The following passage from the Mûtsipsa' grammar can be read as indicating that adjectives must agree with their head nouns in declension class (besides case and number):

  • Adjectives must agree in case and number with their referant noun. They will take the same inflection that their noun takes. If this creates vowels in hiatus, they are separated with a glottal stop. If the referant noun is an irregular inflection, just use the standard inflection for that noun class.

There seems to be only one relevant textual example in the Grammar, and it does look like an instance of declension class agreement:

pa'aw hjonaw
beautiful.NOM flower.NOM
a beautiful flower

Indeed, the adjective pa'a ( < PI paya) would be expected to belong to Class III if substantivized (like most stems ending in PI -a), i. e. to have a nominative like **pa'a'i. The actual form, pa'aw, seems to agree with its head, the Class II noun hjonaw 'flower'.

It is interesting to note that possessive forms of nouns, while also agreeing with their heads in case, don't seem to agree in either number or declension class. --Basilius 22:54, 31 May 2009 (UTC)