| To Be Continued...|
Alces is still working on this article. The contents are incomplete and likely to undergo changes.
| Wendoth |
|Spoken in||west Tuysáfa|
|Basic word order||VSO|
Wendoth [wə'n̪d̪oθ] is a language spoken in the central area of west Tuysáfa around -2000 YP. The term wendoth is a self-appellation; the Wendoth probably called their language ayewendoth ('Wendoth speech'), but we will refer to the language, and the people who spoke it, as Wendoth in this document. An earlier form of the language, Pre-Wendoth, can be reconstructed which probably dates to around -3000 YP. The Wendoth are thought to have taken up agriculture around -2500 YP. 500 years later they started to migrate out of their original homeland, perhaps due to unsustainable agricultural practices. The descendants of Wendoth are referred to as the Wendoth languages and are found across a wide area of west Tuysáfa.
The Wendoth languages are thought to be part of the Mediundic macrofamily. In particular, there are a number of grammatical similarities and some regular sound correspondances between Wendoth and Proto-Mbingmik.
- 1 Historical phonology
- 2 Phonology
- 3 The Wendoth substrate
- 4 Morphophonology
- 5 Morphology
- 5.1 Nouns
- 5.2 Determiners
- 5.3 Pronouns
- 5.4 Numerals
- 5.5 Verbs
- 5.5.1 Tense
- 5.5.2 Aspect and mood
- 5.5.3 Subject and object agreement
- 5.5.4 Special agreement suffixes
- 5.5.5 Derivation
- 6 Syntax
- 7 Texts
- 8 Lexicon
|Anterior||Posterior, apical||Posterior, laminal||Front||Back|
|Nasal||m /mˠ/ (> /m/)||nd /ⁿd̪ʲ/ (> /nd̪/)||n /n/||nj /ŋʲ/ (> /ɲ/)||ng /ŋ/|
|Voiceless stop||p /pˠ/ (> /p/)||t /t̪ʲ/ (> /t̪/)||ṭ /tˠ/ (> /ʈ/)||ch /tsʲ/ (> /tʃ/)||k /kʲ/ (> /c/)||q /q/|
|Voiced stop||b /bˠ/ (> /b/)||d /d̪ʲ/ (> /d̪/)||ḍ /dˠ/ (> /ɖ/)||jh /dzʲ/ (> /dʒ/)||g /gʲ/ (> /ɟ/)|
|Voiceless fricative||f /fˠ/ (> /f/)||th /θʲ/ (> /θ/)||s /sˠ/ (> /ʂ/)||sh /sʲ/ (> /ʃ/)||c /xʲ/ (> /ç/)||x /χ/|
|Voiced fricative||v /vˠ/ (> /v/)||dh /ðʲ/ (> /ð/)||z /zˠ/ (> /ʐ/)||zh /zʲ/ (> /ʒ/)||j /ɣʲ/ (> /ʝ/)||h /ʁ/|
|Approximant||y /lʲ~j/||w /lˠ~w/|
The labials, m, p, b, f and v, originate from Pre-Wendoth velarised labials. Their reflexes in Hỳng are velar, which suggests that they retained velarisation at the time of the proto-language, but all the other Wendoth languages do not betray any trace of the labials' former velarisation, suggesting that it was lost in the Nuclear Wendoth stage.
The anterior coronals, nd, t, d, th and dh, originate from palatalised Pre-Wendoth labials. At an early stage, they retained palatalisation, and in fact this secondary articulation was the primary feature distinguishing t and d from ṭ and ḍ (which were velarised alveolars; s and z were probably also velarised in parallel, although their sibilance was already sufficient to distinguish them from th and dh). Later on, these velarised alveolars (which descended from velarised Pre-Wendoth coronals) became retroflexes, and the secondary articulation became unnecessary to distinguish them. However, this change did not affect the dialect which became Hỳng, and traces of the older secondary articulations remain in some Nuclear Wendoth languages (for example, th and dh are reflected as /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ in some of them).
Similarly, ch, jh, sh and zh, which originate from palatalised Pre-Wendoth coronals, were probably pronounced as palatalised alveolars at an early stage. In the North Wendoth languages, for example, they lost their palatalisation at some stage and became pronounced as /ts dz s z/. But in most of the other Wendoth languages, they became postalveolar. n and r also originate from palatalised Pre-Wendoth coronals, but as they had no similar consonants to contrast with it is unlikely that their palatalisation was retained for very long.
The front velars, nj, k, g, c and j, originate from palatalised Pre-Wendoth velars, and are transcribed as such. They were fronted further in all of the Wendoth languages except for the Mboroth languages, in which they lost their palatalisation and became plain velars.
The back velars, ng, q, x and h, originate from velarised Pre-Wendoth velars. Although they shifted back to velars in some daughters such as Yewedu, there is considerable evidence that they went through a stage of being pronounced as uvulars in all Wendoth languages. ng appears to have been pronounced as a uvular /ɴ/ at an early stage, but it had already been elided in many environments and shifted to /ŋ/ elsewhere before the Wendoth languages broke up. The fortition of ng to pre-nasalised /ŋg/ is a fairly widespread change in the Wendoth languages (occuring in both North Wendoth and Hỳng, for example), which suggests that this may have already been a variant in the proto-language.
The consonant h is usually pronounced as an approximant, rather than a fricative. It is somewhat more frequent than the other consonants, and is often inserted as sandhi (see Syllable structure below).
y and w originate from palatalised and velarised Pre-Wendoth *l, respectively. It appears that earlier [lʲ] and [lˠ] had already become [j] and [w], respectively, in most environments, but North Wendoth has [l] as the reflex of y and w in syllable codas and adjacent to close vowels, which suggests that they retained their lateral pronunciations in this environment. This is also suggested by the otherwise curious fact that in Hỳng, y and w became [ʒ] and [β], respectively, before non-close vowels but not before close vowels (what happened was that [j] and [w] underwent this change while y and w were still pronounced as [lʲ] and [lˠ] before close vowels, and then much later [lʲ] and [lˠ] shifted to [j] and [w]).
|Close||į /ḭ/, i /i̤/||ų /ṵ/, u /ṳ/|
|Mid||e /ə/||o /o/|
|Open||ą /a̰/||a /a/||ã /a̤/|
The vowel system of Wendoth, as reconstructed here, can be understood as contrasting three different vowel qualities and three different phonations (modal, creaky and breathy voice). In the creaky- and breathy-voiced systems, the three qualities are /i/, /u/ and /a/ (with /a/ front in the creaky-voiced system and back in the breathy-voiced system). In the modally-voiced system, which consists of e, a and o, the qualities are somewhat uncertain (see the next paragraph). It is often useful to distinguish the vowels in the modally-voiced system from the vowels in the other two systems: we therefore call e, a and o the lax vowels, and we call the other vowels the tense vowels.
Historically, e, a and o arise mainly from Pre-Wendoth *i and *u (which merged as *ɨ), *e and *o (which merged as *ə) and *a respectively. A chain shift occured in which *ɨ and *ə lowered, and *a was backed and raised. It is tempting to reconstruct e and o so that the vowel system is symmetrical: we might reconstruct them as /e/ and /o/, for example, or /ɘ/ and /ɵ/. But there is no evidence for this at the stage of the proto-language; indeed, judging by the fact that the lax vowel system was changed in virtually every Wendoth language, it must have been an unstable one.
The tense vowels are longer than the other vowels; they attract the stress from its default position on the final syllable. However, before a pause they were pronounced with a following [ʔ] (if creaky-voiced) or [ɦ] (if breathy-voiced), and were likely not as long as elsewhere.
There are diphthongs /ai/, /au/, /oi/ and /ou/, which can have breathy voice or creaky voice. (The diphthongs /əi/ and /əu/ do not appear; there is a morphophonological rule that turns /əi/ and /əu/ into /i/ and /u/, repsectively, wherever they arise.) These can be analysed as sequences consisting of modally voiced vowels and creaky-voiced or breathy-voiced close vowels, and it is convenient to do so for morphophonological purposes (for example, thinda 'woman' becomes ithndaų when the accusative suffix -į is added). However, these diphthongs do comprise single syllable nuclei, and they are about as frequent as the close vowels in isolation.
Final syllables are of the form (C)V(C); in fact, words tend to end in consonants more often than not in their unmarked forms. Non-final syllables are, in general, of the form (C)V. The morphophonological process of transformation produces syllables of the form VC, resulting in clusters consisting of two consonants. Every single combination of two consonants is possible (although note that y and w are pronounced [lʲ] and [lˠ] before consonants); it is likely that these clusters underwent ad hoc assimilations (e.g. of voice, or PoA in the case of nasals preceding a plosive), but the influence of the untransformed form stopped these assimilations having an effect on the underlying representations. Accordingly, we write clusters without indicating any assimilation in this document.
Clusters other than resulting from transformation were rare and consisted solely of liquid + obstruent clusters (barqate 'kneel', xurse 'promise') and nasal + homorganic plosive clusters (hombane 'flower'). It is thought that all of these are recent loanwords from a substrate. It is not clear how transformation applied to words containing these clusters; it is likely that the Wendoth speakers were still undecided on the matter, and would sometimes simply fail to transform them in the usual environment (resulting in, e.g., xursų 'promise') or make an attempt at transforming them giving a three-consonant cluster (resulting instead in urxsų or uxrsų). In this document, I have assumed that they were not transformed.
It is sometimes necessary to distinguish clusters from digraphs used in the transcription; for this purpose, an apostrophe can be used to separate clusters. So the clusters /nd̪ʲ/, /nɣʲ/, /ngʲ/, /xʲʁ/, /ɣʲʁ/, /tˠʁ/, /dˠʁ/, /sˠʁ/ and /zˠʁ/ are written n'd, n'j, n'g, c'h, j'h, t'h, d'h, s'h and z'h respectively.
The consonants nj and h have defective distributions; they do not appear word-finally (but they can appear syllable-finally). h also does not appear word-initially (but it can appear syllable-initially even after another consonant). But apart from these exceptions, every consonant can appear word- and syllable-initially and word- and syllable-finally. As for vowels, /a̰/ and /a̤/ appear only before morpheme boundaries outside of certain loanwords such as pąri 'grain', and /o/ never appears before nasals.
Historically, h disappeared after close vowels, and hence it is rare in this position. However, this change was somewhat irregular, and hence it is preserved in some common words such as įhą 'arm, leg'. In this particular case, we can point to the fact that it would have merged with įą 'hand, foot' otherwise; but in general there is no such explanation. For example, vįhau 'prevent' preserves the h, too.
It is possible for syllables to begin with a vowel, but only at the beginning of a word or after a syllable ending in a tense vowel (including ą and ã). When a syllable beginning with a vowel follows a tense vowel, an epenthetic [ʔ] (if the tense vowel is creaky) or [ɦ] (if the tense vowel is breathy) is inserted to break up the hiatus; the same epenthesis applies across word boundaries.
A similar epenthesis breaks up hiatuses in which the first vowel is lax when these hiatuses occur across word boundaries. In this case, it is h which is inserted to break up the hiatus, due to the fact that all non-monosyllabic words ending in a lax vowel originally ended in h. This is therefore a sandhi process similar to the English linking /r/. Indeed, just as with the English linking /r/, it has been generalised to apply to monosyllabic words that never ended in h, such as the 1p nom. sg. pronoun be: for example, be įka 'I laughed' is pronounced bˠəˈʁḭkʲa.
h-insertion does not occur, however, before words which begin with a vowel only because they are in their transformed forms. When a word ending with a lax vowel precedes a transformed form, the lax vowel is generally deleted, although not always. Hence be opthe 'I (male) came' is pronounced bopˠˈθə (and may accordingly be written as b'opthe).
Stress is not contrastive; it is assigned regularly to the final close vowel (į, i, ų or u) in a word if the word contains a close vowel, otherwise to the final syllable. This rule applies to the fully-inflected word, so the addition of suffixes often results in stress alternations; for example, kochumo 'tongue' is kochúm in the nominative case but okchumóų when the accusative suffix -į is added. Function words, such as pronouns, often carry no stress in connected speech.
The North Wendoth languages became strongly stress-timed and underwent heavy vowel reduction. The dialects that became Hỳng also became stress-timed, although not to quite the same extent. Other Wendoth languages are generally syllable-timed. It is uncertain what the situation in the proto-language was. The /ə/ phoneme is not evidence that it was stress-timed, because it arises not from vowel reduction, but rather from the transferral of vocalic [+front] and [+back] features to preceding consonants that took place during the development of Pre-Wendoth.
- be '1p nom. sg.' /bə/ [bˠə]
- kochum 'tongue (nom.)' /kʲotsʲṳmˠ/ [kʲoˈtsʲṳːmˠ]
- coįã 'foreigner (nom.)' /xʲoḭa̤/ [xʲoḭˈɑ̤ɦ]
- ucoy 'edge (nom.)' /ṳxʲoj/ [ˈṳːxʲolʲ]
- umndų 'mother (acc.)' /ṳmˠⁿd̪ṵ/ [ṳmˠˈn̪d̪ṵʔ], or, in less careful speech, probably just [ṳmˠˈd̪ṵʔ] or [ṳn̪ˠˈd̪ṵʔ]
The Wendoth substrate
We have already mentioned that some loanwords can be identified due to the presence of consonant or clusters or non-final open tense vowels within the underlying form. Some others can be identified based on the fact that their Pre-Wendoth proto-form would have to have an unusual number of syllables. For example, miture 'boat' would go back to muhItihUri, where I is either i or e and U is either u or o—but there are no known Pre-Wendoth roots with five syllables.
Apart from barqate 'kneel' and xurse 'promise, make an oath', all of these loanwords are used only as nouns. These two verbs also probably were originally borrowed as nouns, and they can still be used as nouns to mean 'the act of kneeling' and 'promise, oath' respectively. Evidently, these social rituals had some special characteristics or some additional significance for the speakers of the substrate language, and the Wendoth speakers, being influenced by the substrate speakers and perhaps taking on some of their customs with regards to these rituals, felt a need to borrow these terms.
We can draw some tentative conclusions about the substrate language from these loanwords. First, none of the loanwords ends in an underlying lax vowel other than e, which suggests that these words either ended in a consonant in their most unmarked in the substrate (e, being a schwa, would be the natural vowel to insert to fit Wendoth morphophonological rules) or ended in an unrounded mid vowel.
The loanwords lack the vowels į, ų, e and ã, which leaves five vowels, i, u, ą, o and a that do appear in the loanwords. These may correspond to a five-vowel system of /i/, /u/, /e/, /o/ and /a/ in the substrate (considering that ą was pronounced as a front vowel).
The only consonants found in the loanwords are m, n, nd (probably reflecting a cluster rather than a phoneme in the substrate), p, b, t, d, ṭ, ḍ, k, g, q, s, x and r. nj, ng, ch, jh, f, v, th, dh, z, sh, zh, c, j, h and nj are absent. In addition, k and q are in complementary distribution, with k appearing before i and ą and q appearing elsewhere. Interestingly, no such rule seems to be in place with t/d and ṭ, ḍ, which suggests that the substrate distinguished two series of alveolar stops. Perhaps ṭ and ḍ are the borrowed forms of retroflexes, or labialised alveolars, in the substrate.
The Wendoth languages tend to have complicated fusional morphologies. The proto-language, however, was still somewhat agglutinative; the agglutinativity was just obscured by a complex morphophonology. In order to add an affix to a stem in the proto-language, it was rarely as simple as taking the phonemes of the affix, the phonemes of the stem, and putting them in sequence; the phonemes tended to interact with each other. But they interacted with each other in regular, predictable ways.
The citation forms of morphemes in Wendoth often contain segments which are written in superscripts; c.f. kashe 'blood' and, for an extreme example, hihe 'elbow, knee'. The superscripts indicate that the segments contained within disappear in the most unmarked form (for example, hihe is i in the nominative case). Segments may also be underlined; this indicates that the segement does not disappear, but alternates depending on the surrounding morphemes.
Every morpheme in Wendoth begins with an underlying consonant or a close vowel and ends in an underlying vowel, nasal (m, n, nj or ng—not nd though) or h. The open tense vowels ã and ą appear only in morpheme-final position, outside of a couple of loanwords such as pąri 'grain'.
Final lax vowel alternations
Morphemes which end in an underlying lax vowel have the lax vowel elided when they occur as the final morpheme in a non-monosyllabic word. Therefore, the final lax vowel in such morphemes is written in superscript in the citation form unless the morpheme never occurs as the final morpheme in a non-monosyllabic word. Even in monosyllabic morphemes, an underlying final lax vowel may disappear if another morpheme precedes in the same word. For example, adding the masculine prefix to- to nge 'see' results in pong 'he sees (ind.)'. If a morpheme-final lax vowel is written without a superscript in the underlying form, this indicates that the morpheme is monosyllabic and never occurs after another morpheme within a single word.
Morpheme-final e also disappears when a suffix is added that begins with a close vowel, which is why the diphthongs eį, ei, eų and eu do not appear in Wendoth. However, morpheme-final e is only written as a superscript in the citation form if it also disappears word-finally, so the underlying form of the first person singular pronoun is written be, rather than be, even though adding the possessive suffix -į results in bį.
- shezho 'dog' is shez in the nominative but eshzhot when the illative suffix -ta is added.
- thinda 'woman' is thind in the nominative but ithndat when the illative suffix -ta is added.
- ngake 'head' is ngak in the nominative but engket when the illative suffix -ta is added and engkų when the accusative suffix -į is added.
There is another alternation that affects morpheme-final lax vowels. If these lax vowels come to occur before a nasal, their quality changes, as follows:
- o becomes a. For example, shezho 'dog' becomes eshzam when the dative suffix -ma is added.
- a becomes e. For example, thinda 'woman' becomes ithndem when the dative suffix -ma is added.
- e becomes u adjacent to labials (m, p, b, f and v, but not w). It becomes i elsewhere. For example, ngake 'head' becomes engkum when the dative suffix -ma is added, and the intransitivising prefix ne-, when added to nge 'see', produces the verb ninge 'see something'.
This process is called vowel mutation, and it is the reason o does not occur before nasals.
Final tense vowels (and diphthongs, which end in tense vowels) are much easier to deal with; they do not disappear word-finally, nor are they affected by mutation. For example, zį 'top' is zų in the nominative and zųų when the accusative suffix -į is added, and kechã 'father' is kechã in the nominative and kechãt when the illative suffix -ta is added.
Light and heavy phonemes
The consonants of the Wendoth proto-language, together with the close vowels, į, ų, i and u, are called the weighted phonemes, because they can be organised into pairs, where in each pair one phoneme is said to be light and the other is said to be heavy. The terms 'light' and heavy correspond to 'slender' and 'broad' in Irish grammar and 'soft' and 'hard' in Russian grammar: the light phonemes are reflexes of palatalised Pre-Wendoth consonants and the heavy phonemes are reflexes of velarised Pre-Wendoth consonants. The following table shows the Pre-Wendoth consonants together with their light and heavy reflexes.
|Pre-Wendoth consonant||Light reflex||Heavy reflex|
- The light reflex of PW ŋ is ∅ word-finally and nj elsewhere.
- The heavy reflex of PW ŋ is ng after a consonant or a word boundary, h after non-close vowels and ∅ after close vowels and before a consonant or a word boundary.
- The heavy reflex of PW g is q word-finally, h after a consonant or a tense vowel and ∅ after close vowels and word-initially.
- The heavy reflex of PW ɣ/r (the two consonants merged when heavy) is x word-finally, h after a consonant or a tense vowel and ∅ after close vowels and word-initially.
Each light phoneme therefore has a unique heavy counterpart. Not every heavy phoneme has a unique light counterpart, however. There are many morphemes which contain weighted phonemes that alternate in weight depending on the morphemes that follow; the underlying forms of such morphemes are given with these consonants in their light manifestations, because then the heavy counterpart is always predictable. The consonant is underlined to remind the reader that it may also appear as its heavy counterpart.
The table above also explains some alternations that can occur with morphemes that contain the light reflex of ŋ or one of the heavy reflexes of ŋ, g, ɣ or r, due to the differing forms of these reflexes in different environments.
- If a morpheme has the light reflex of PW ŋ before its final lax vowel, and the morpheme may occur as the final morpheme in a word, then this light reflex of ŋ is written as nj in the citation form. When the morpheme is the final morpheme in a word, the nj disappears; otherwise, it is realised as nj. For example, woḍenja 'rest' is woḍe in the non-past specific indicative but owḍenjaq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added
- If a morpheme has the heavy reflex of PW ŋ before its final lax vowel, and the morpheme may occur as the final morpheme in a word, then this heavy reflex of ŋ is written as h in the citation form. When the morpheme is the final morpheme in a word, the h disappears; otherwise, it is realised as h. For example, zhatenjo 'endure' is zhate in the non-past specific indicative but azhtehoq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added.
- Historically, the heavy reflex of PW ŋ also alternated when it occured at the beginning of a morpheme, being realised as ng word-initially and h when following a morpheme ending in a lax vowel, and disappearing when following a morpheme ending in a tense vowel. But this alternation has been levelled out by analogy in all morphemes, so that morpheme-initial ng has become indistinguishable from non-alternating ng (the heavy reflex of PW n). For example, ngįą 'be big' (< PW ŋuʔeʔ) is ngįą in the non-past specific indicative and oungįą when the inchoative prefix ou- (< PW ɣaɦu-) is added, even though ɣaɦu-ŋuʔeʔ should have become *ouįą by regular sound change.
- If a morpheme has the heavy reflex of PW g before its final lax vowel, and the morpheme may occur as the final morpheme in a word, then this heavy reflex of g is written as q in the citation form. When the morpheme is the final morpheme in a word, the q is realised as q; otherwise, it is realised as h after consonants and lax vowels and disappears after close vowels. For example, kųqa 'be to the west' is kųq in the non-past indicative but ųkhaq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added.
- If a morpheme has the heavy reflex of PW ɣ or r before its final lax vowel, and the morpheme may occur as the final morpheme in a word, then this heavy reflex of ɣ or r is written as x in the citation form. When the morpheme is the final morpheme in a word, the x is realised as x; otherwise, it is realised as h after consonants and lax vowels and disappears after close vowels. For example, rokexe 'float' is rokex in the non-past specific indicative but orkeheq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added.
- If a morpheme begins with the heavy reflex of PW g, ɣ or r, and the morpheme may follow another morpheme within the same word, or if its initial syllable may be inverted by transformation, then this heavy reflex of g, ɣ or r is written as h (or possibly q or x, if the morpheme consists of this single consonant followed by a final lax vowel, and the morpheme can occur as the final morpheme in the word). This h is realised as h when it follows a morpheme that ends in a lax vowel, and disappears otherwise. For example, hewaį 'be friendly' is ewaį in the non-past indicative, and still ouewaį when the inchoative prefix ou- is added, but ophewaį when the masculine prefix to- is added.
There is one more consonant alternation to take note of (besides weight alternations, which we will go into below): morpheme-final nasals and h disappear before consonants. Morpheme-final nj and its heavy counterpart h, of course, disappear word-finally as well, so that they only actually appear before close vowels. These disappearing morpheme-final nasals are not normally written in superscript, for two reasons: first, there is a need to distinguish ng, which only disappears before consonants, from ng, which disappears word-finally and after close vowels as well, and, secondly, these morpheme-final nasals do not disappear if no suffixes are added, so they are generally present in the most unmarked forms.
Some examples are listed below.
- nojem 'suck' is nojem in the non-past specific indicative but an'jeq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added.
- When the solid inanimate suffix -į is added, nojem becomes nojemį. This is despite the fact nojem and -į come from Pre-Wendoth naɣem and -ʔe respectively, and naɣemʔe would regularly develop into nojendį. Historically, palatalised PW m was prevented from developing into nd word-finally (before the loss of final lax vowels, which has resulted all instances of word-final nd in Wendoth), and the m was generalised into the other forms in words like nojem. This is why no Wendoth morphemes end in nd, even though it patterns as a nasal with regards to weight alternations.
- waun 'lie' is waun in the non-past specific indicative but wauq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added.
- sing '2p sg.' is sing in the nominative but sit when the illative suffix -ta is added.
- ṭarenj 'sibling, cousin' is ṭare in the nominative and aṭret when the illative suffix -ta is added, but aṭrenjį when the possessive suffix -į is added.
- ngozhebeh 'squeeze' is ngozhebe in the non-past specific indicative and ngozhebeq when the subjunctive suffix -qa is added, but ngozhebehį when the countable inanimate suffix -į is added.
Pre-Wendoth i and u became ɨ before Pre-Wendoth nasals, and later this ɨ merged with u adjacent to labials, i elsewhere. However, this change occured after the disappearance of nasals before a consonant. Therefore, in Wendoth there are some morphemes in which the vowel before the final nasal, which is a reflex of PW ɨ, alternates between i and u depending on the following consonant. In all of these morphemes, the vowel follows a non-labial consonant (for if it follows a labial consonant PW ɨ is reliably realised as u). If the vowel is before n, nj or ng, it will be u when a suffix beginning with a labial consonant is added and will be i otherwise. If the vowel is before m, it will be i when a suffix beginning with a non-labial consonant is added and will be u otherwise. Either way, vowels like this are written ü. For example, ngüh (< PW nuŋ), the past-tense stem of nge 'see', is ngi in the specific indicative and ngup when the masculine suffix -to is added.
Wendoth has a kind of right-to-left consonant harmony called weight harmony, which causes weighted phonemes to acquire the same weight as a weighted phoneme in a following syllable. However, it is somewhat limited in application. It is the result of a historical change which caused consonants before Pre-Wendoth a to become palatalised if i or e followed in the next syllable, and only a single consonant was in between the a and the i or e.
As mentioned above, weighted phonemes that may alternate due to weight harmony are written underlined. However, it is possible to predict which consonants will be affected by weight harmony, according to the following rules.
- Every consonant that precedes o is affected by weight harmony.
- Every consonant that precedes a is affected by weight harmony as long as the following syllable begins with a nasal consonant. (If the syllable containing the a ends with an underlying coda nasal, this does not cause the consonant to be affected by weight harmony.)
The same cannot be said for close vowels; only those originating from Pre-Wendoth ʔa and ɦa are affected by weight harmony, but it is impossible to distinguish these close vowels from others from the surrounding phonemes. This is why the underlining is necessary.
Alternating weighted phonemes manifest as light phonemes if the following syllable begins with a light phoneme, unless the light phoneme is itself in a position where it is affected by weight harmony (and is therefore light only due to weight harmony). Otherwise, they manifest as heavy. Syllables beginning with a light consonant that is not affected by weight harmony are said to be light, and non-light syllables are said to be heavy.
- ḍaį 'rock' is ḍaų in the nominative, but ḍaįt when the illative suffix -ta is added.
- shezho 'dog' is shez in the nominative, but eshzhot when the illative suffix -ta is added.
- Adding the masculine prefix to- to nge 'see' results in pong, but adding it to chįng 'remember' results in otchį.
Weight harmony applies before all other morphophonological rules. So, for example, nj, g, j and r show their usual alternations depending on which form they take.
Most Wendoth words alternate between two forms, which are called the untransformed and transformed forms of the word. It is convenient to say that every word has an untransformed and transformed form, although some have a transformed form which is identical to the untransformed form. The form which a root takes depends on both morphological and syntactic considerations. In general, it depends on morphology:
- Nouns are transformed when they are in the accusative or dative case and when a postpositional clitic or noun class suffix is added to the noun.
- Verbs are transformed when they are in the generic aspect or the subjunctive mood and when a noun class prefix or suffix is added to the verb.
- Determiners are transformed except when they agree with nouns of superclass 2 or 3 that are in the nominative case.
However, there are some exceptions to these rules, where heads that end in vowels prevent transformation of a following complement. For example, determiners may prevent transformation of the initial word in the following NP, and verbs may prevent transformation of the initial word in the following VP. When a transformed word, beginning with a vowel, follows a word that ends with a lax vowel, it is common for the final lax vowel of the preceding word to be elided in non-careful speech. The most common word this occurs with is be 'I', so, for example, be opyatorą 'I woke up' is often pronounced as b'opyatorą. Other words to which often applies include the distal demonstratives va and xe.
In general, transformation causes the sequence of phonemes in a word-initial syllable of the form CV to be reversed, so that it becomes a syllable of the form VC. (Diphthongs are counted as single Vs.) For example, the transformed form of kashų 'blood (acc.)' is akshų and the transformed form of noijių 'lip (acc.)' is oinjių. But transformation does not have any effect if the following syllable begins with a tense vowel, rather than a consonant. For example, the transformed form of suų 'person (acc.)' is suų. It also does not have any effect if the initial syllable begins with an underlying vowel (which will always be a close vowel), so, for example, the transformed form of įbuų 'forest (acc.)' is įbuų.
However, if the initial syllable begins with underlying h, this h is realised as h when the word is transformed. For example, the transformed form of ewaįq 'be friendly (non-past ind.)' is ehwaįq (the citation form is hewaį). Since words beginning with a close vowel might have an underlying initial h too, this meant that the transformed forms of such words were unpredictable: a h might be inserted after the initial close vowel, or (more commonly) it might not be inserted. This was a highly unstable situation, so the Wendoth languages all simplified it if they preserved these alternations at all. Some of them generalised the h-insertion to apply to all words beginning with a vowel, so that the transformed form of įbuų became įhbuų. Otherwise start to only insert h in the transformed forms of words beginning with a lax vowel.
Transformation also triggers vowel mutation when it causes a lax vowel to precede a nasal. For example, the transformed form of medųų 'forehead (acc.)' is umdųų. Although the reverse process probably occured in an early stage of Wendoth, where a vowel is 'un-mutated' when it comes to no longer precede an (underlying) nasal, this seems to have been levelled out by analogy, so the transformed form of siqį 'for you (sg.)' (< sing 'you (sg.)' + -qį 'for') is isqį, not esqį. In fact, vowel mutation due to transformation also had a strong tendency to be levelled out by analogy in the Wendoth languages, although it does survive to some extent.
The effect of transformation on prefixes is worthy of special notice. In a word with a prefix added, the initial syllable often coincides with the prefix. Therefore, transformation has the effect of reversing the prefix. For example, the transformed form of todhemer 'he moves away from (spec. ind.)', which has the masculine prefix to- added, is otdhemer. However, when a prefix ending in a lax vowel is added to a stem beginning with a close vowel, a diphthong will be formed and the number of syllables will be unchanged. Transformation still occurs in this case and reverses the whole initial syllable, as usual. This may result in the prefix being broken up phonologically. For example, the transformed form of toųmų 'he pushes (spec. ind.)' is oųtmų. The transformed form of toįdh 'he is imaginary (ind.)' is toįdh, with no reversal, because the word is monosyllabic.
Nouns take three cases, nominative, accusative and dative, which are marked by suffixes. In addition, there are seven postpositions which are generally analysed as enclitics. However, each of the possible combinations of case suffixes and postpositional enclitics can be analysed as a case in its own right, in which case there are up to eighteen different cases.
In general, the nominative case is marked by adding no suffix and keeping the noun untransformed, the accusative case is marked by adding the suffix -į and transforming the noun, and the dative case is marked by adding the suffix -ma and transforming the noun. But there are complications.
First of all, nouns can be transformed in the nominative case, because adding a postpositional enclitic causes nouns to be transformed. Likewise, nouns can be untransformed in the accusative and dative cases, because preceding determiners sometimes prevent nouns from transforming.
Also, there are some nouns which have two different stems. One, which is called the primary stem, is used in the nominative case; the other, which is called the secondary stem, is used in the accusative and dative cases. These nouns also sometimes take slightly different accusative and dative suffixes. Nouns can be classified into three types, I, II and III, based on their behaviour in this respect. Type II and III nouns are the ones which have two stems; when introducing such a noun, we give both stems and separate them by a slash, with the primary stem preceding the secondary stem, and we write a hyphen after the secondary stem because it always has a suffix added after it. For example, sum / se- is the Wendoth word for 'person'. Note that since the secondary stem always has a suffix added to it, final lax vowels and preceding nj, ng and h need not be marked with a superscript.
Type I nouns
Type I nouns, which comprise the majority of nouns, have a single stem which ends in a lax vowel or a close vowel. The accusative and dative suffixes for Type I nouns are, as said above, -į and -ma respectively. There are no complications here apart from regular morphophonological alternations; note, in particular, that -ma induces mutation of the preceding vowel, and -į is realised as -ų when no suffix follows.
The following table gives some representative declensions of Type I nouns. The nouns are given in their transformed forms in the accusative and dative cases, and in their untransformed forms in the nominative cases, which is what we will usually do when giving nouns in isolation; remember, though, that nouns in the accusative and dative cases are not always transformed and nouns in the nominative case are not always untransformed. Each cell contains two forms; one is the surface form seen when no extra suffixes are added, and the other, in parentheses, is the underlying form which further suffixes are added to.
|'blood'||kashe||kash (kashe)||akshų (kashį)||akshum (kashuma)|
|'success'||sasa||sas (sasa)||assaų (sasaį)||assem (sasema)|
|'water'||ijo||ix (ijo)||ihoų (ihoį)||iham (ihama)|
|'forehead'||medų||medų (medų)||umdųų (medųį)||umdųm (medųma)|
Type II nouns
Type II nouns have a primary stem which ends in a tense vowel. All nouns with primary stems ending in ą or ã are of type II, but some nouns with primary stems ending in close vowels are of Type III instead.
For Type II nouns, in the secondary stem, the final tense vowel of the primary stem is replaced with a different vowel (whose quality is usually unpredictable, so that it is necessary to memorise both stems). It is possible to make some generalisations about which vowel will replace the final tense vowel.
- If the primary stem ends in a close vowel, this final close vowel is replaced by e.
- If the primary stem ends in a close vowel followed by an open tense vowel, the final open tense vowel disappears.
- If the primary stem ends in a consonant followed by an open tense vowel, the final open tense vowel is replaced by a lax vowel, which is always either a or o. It is always replaced by a if the preceding consonant is light, but if the preceding consonant is heavy it may be replaced by either. Note that if it is replaced by o, then the preceding heavy consonant should, on the basis of etymology, become alternating in the secondary stem. But the secondary stem is always followed by a case suffix, and both case suffixes begin with a heavy syllable, so the alternation does not have any effect. There is, therefore, no need to indicate the alternation when the secondary stem is written down.
The nominative and dative suffixes for Type II nouns are mostly the same as with Type I nouns, but there is a change in the accusative suffix: it is -į, as usual, if the primary stem ends in -ą, but if the primary stem ends in -ã, it is -i; i.e., the voice of the vowel in the accusative suffix agrees with the voice of the final tense vowel of the primary stem.
The following table gives some representative declensions of Type II nouns.
|Gloss||Primary stem||Secondary stem||Nominative||Accusative||Dative|
|'fire'||yį||ye-||yį (yį)||yų (yų)||yum (yuma)|
|'lip'||noiji||noije-||noiji (noiji)||oin'ju (oin'ji)||oin'jum (oin'juma)|
|'milk'||dewų||dewe-||dewų (dewų)||edwų (dewį)||edwum (dewuma)|
|'wood'||fohu||fohe-||fohu (fohu)||ofhu (fohi</sup>)||ofhum (fohuma)|
|'fall'||zashą||zasha-||zashą (zashą)||azshaų (zasha<u>į)||azshem (zashema)|
|'father'||kechã||keche-||kechã (kechã)||ekchu (kechi)||ekchum (kechuma)|
|'death'||yehą||yeho-||yehą (yehą)||eyhoų (yehoį)||eyham (yehama)|
|'clan'||cawųã||cawų-||cawųã (cawųã)||cawųu (cawųi)||cawųm (cawųma)|
Type III nouns
All nouns with primary stems that end in underlying nasals or h are of Type III; the Type III nouns also include some nouns whose primary stems end in close vowels which originally ended in h.
For Type III nouns, in the secondary stem, the final nasal or h of the primary stem is deleted, and the preceding vowel is ‘un-mutated’:
- a in the primary stem becomes o in the secondary stem.
- e in the primary stem becomes a in the secondary stem.
- ü in the primary stem becomes e in the secondary stem.
- u in the primary stem sometimes becomes e in the secondary stem, too, but it is also possible for it to remain unchanged in the secondary stem. It always remains unchanged in the secondary stem if it is not preceded by a labial consonant.
- į, i and ų in the primary stem remain unchanged in the secondary stem.
If the vowel before the final nasal or h is a, and this a is preceded by a consonant, then, in the secondary stem, when the vowel is changed to o, this consonant becomes alternating and is written with an underline. The consonant will almost always be light, so that this alternation has an affect, but there is a single exception: mang 'one', which has the secondary stem mo- (there is no need to write ndo- because the stem is always followed by a heavy syllable).
The nominative and accusative suffixes are the same as for Type I nouns, but there is a change in the dative suffix: it is -ma if the primary stem ends in m, -nga if the primary stem ends in n or ng, and -ha if the primary stem ends in nj or h.
The following table gives some representative declensions of Type III nouns.
|Gloss||Primary stem||Secondary stem||Nominative||Accusative||Dative|
Wendoth does not inflect nouns for number, although it does distinguish number for human (and bovine) referents by indirect means: humans and bovines in the singular take one of the to or ko classifiers (depending on whether they are male or female) and humans and bovines in the plural take the zho classifier. See Noun classes] for more on this.
It is possible to form collectives by reduplication, but this is far from being a true plural marker; not only is it entirely optional, it is also not wholly productive. Furthermore, many collectives have somewhat more specific meanings than simply referring to a group of the usual referents of the noun; for example, chechejo 'eyes' and tetepum / tetepe-' 'ears' refer specifically to the pair of eyes or ears on an individual human's face; a heap of severed ears, for example, could not be referred to as tetepum.
The postpositional enclitics are -ta and -zha, the locative postpositions, -į and -dha, the genitive postpositions, -shã, the instrumental postposition, -ce, the comitative postposition, and -qį, the benefactive postposition. Of these postpositions, the last three have the greatest claim to being case suffixes; in particular, -shã appears to have at least gone through a stage as a case suffix in every Wendoth language. Each of these three postpositions, -shã, -ce, and -qį, are added only after nouns in the nominative case, so no suffix comes in between them and the noun stem.
The genitive postpositions, on the other hand, can be added after the accusative suffix; they take a nominative object if the possession is alienable, and an accusative object if the possession is inalienable. The difference between -į and -dha is subtle and it is to some extent unpredictable which is used; however, one generalisations which can be made is that -į is used only to indicate possession of inanimates by animates. Hence it is used to indicate possession of body parts or personal characteristics (which are inalienable), and possession of personal or social property (which is alienable). -dha is used for other kinds of possession: possession of kin, parts of a whole (these are all examples of inalienable possession). The most common kind of alienable possession -dha is used for is posession of an agent or patient by an action (this is not really alienable possession in semantic terms, but it is treated as such).
The accusative case suffixes -į and -i are irregularly realised as -ų and -u (not the expected į and i) before the suffix -į, even though this suffix consists of a light syllable; this is due to dissimilation.
The locative postpositions can be added after both the accusative and dative suffixes. Their meanings with each kind of object are summarised in the following table.
|Case of object||Meaning of ta||Meaning of za|
|Nominative||Illative ('into')||Inessive or elative ('in' or 'from the inside of')|
|Accusative||Locative or allative ('at' or 'to')||Ablative ('from')|
|Dative||Inexact locative ('near')||Inexact inessive ('somewhere in')|
These are the meanings when these postpositions take objects referring to physical objects. These postpositions may also take objects that refer to times, but when they do the object always takes the nominative case. In general, ta is used to refer to points in time and zha is used to refer to periods in time. When an indefinite time is referred to, this indefinite time is thought of as a period, so zha is used (unlike in English).
Nouns are classified into eleven classes (although many words can be put in different classes, with different but related senses in each class). The distinction between these classes makes no difference to noun inflection, but it does make a difference to pronoun, determiner and verb inflection. Each of the eleven noun classes is associated with a classifier affix, which may be added to a pronoun, determiner or verb for agreement purposes (although the rules on when to add these affixes are complex, and are covered in the sections on each individual kind of word the affixes can be added to). The classes are customarily referred to by reference to the associated classifier affix (e.g. ‘the to class’, ‘the ko class’). Each class is also associated with a number which is used for glossing purposes: the gloss for the nth class is ‘cn’. However, the first two classes, the to class and the ko class, are glossed as ‘MASC’ and ‘FEM’ respectively.
- The to class consists of nouns referring to male humans (and bulls). Examples: hacau 'man', kechã 'father', poto 'Dad', posaha 'bachelor'.
- The ko class consists of nouns referring to female humans (and cows). Examples: thinda 'woman', munda 'mother', qoko 'Mum', kosaha 'spinster'.
- The i class consists of nouns referring to foodstuffs. Examples: iqa 'meat', hanga 'vegetables', gehako 'seeds'.
- The zho class consists of nouns referring to humans of unspecified gender, groups of humans, and culturally important animals. Its members are referred to as 'strong animates'. Examples: sum 'person', kejazang 'cow, bull', nakethe 'large animal', shezho 'dog', hezho 'game (for hunting)'.
- The ro class consists of nouns referring to other animals, plants and other things that show some movement not caused by an external object (e.g. fire, wind). Its members are referred to as 'weak animates'. Examples: hoicha 'bug', mope 'fish', ųharo 'tree', yį 'fire', ḍįja 'sun', awero 'moon'.
- The cüm class consists of nouns referring to tools and devices. Examples: shexauno 'spear', ndewįthe 'sword', miture 'boat', jhebou 'dye'.
- The bį class consists of nouns referring to inanimates which are treated as mass nouns. It includes words referring to fluids, as well as many others, which are somewhat unpredictably placed in either the bį class or the į class. Examples: ijo 'water', ṭoqe 'drinking water', kashe 'blood', doku 'earth'.
- The į class consists of nouns referring to inanimates which are treated as countable nouns. Examples: ḍaų 'rock', uge 'mountain', ųzeng 'grain of sand', xobe 'speck of dust', zhaxang 'teardrop'.
- The thą class consists of nouns referring to places, buildings and other things that people are typically on or inside, as well as nouns referring to periods of time. Examples: cecume 'village', bodhothe 'wilderness', sethe 'sky', įja 'day'.
- The ndo class consists of nouns referring to feelings and sensory impressions, including colours and sounds. Examples: xahesa 'anger', reįbe 'black', įyo 'white', įkago 'sound', qobeqobe 'thunder'.
- The ḍaro class consists of nouns referring to ideas and other abstractions. Examples: sasa 'success', gaxaihi 'respect', cawųã 'clan', xurse 'promise', wamere 'dusk', jatha 'dawn'.
Of course, nouns often do not clearly fall into in a single one of these classes. Such nouns are assigned to classes somewhat arbitrarily. For example, body part terms are mostly in the į class, but the words for the principal sensory organs (chejo 'eye', tepum 'ear', zhum 'nose', tegi 'mouth', kochundo 'tongue') are in the zho class. newaų 'star' is in the ḍaro class, perhaps due to an association with nihaį 'night'. bohah 'field' is in the i class, probably due to the association with crops. It may also seem odd at first that boje 'penis' is in the ro class, but, if you think about it, it makes sense. However, the classes are much more closely related to meaning than, say, the masculine, feminine and neuter classes of German.
As mentioned above, nouns can often be put in several different classes to obtain different but related meanings. However, each noun has a primary class, which it is assumed to be in if there is no classifier affix agreeing with it and explicitly stating its class. Some regular patterns can be identified with regard to these sense alternations between different classes.
- Every noun which refers to a kind of human in its primary sense, whether individual or plural, can be placed in the zho class to refer to a group of humans of said kind, and can be placed in at least one of the to or ko classes to refer to a single male or female human of said kind. Any of these three classes might be the primary class of the noun. Nouns in the to or ko can also sometimes refer to plural human referents, but only if the group of humans has a leader of known gender; this should be seen as a kind of metonymic usage where the name of the leader is used to refer to the whole group. The noun kejazang shows the same pattern as nouns referring to kinds of humans; it means 'bull' in the to class, 'cow' in the ko class and 'cattle' in the zho class (which is the primary one). It is the only noun that can be placed in the to or ko classes which does not refer to a human. Conversely, the noun coįã 'foreigner', when it is used with a negative connotation, is placed in the zho class even if it refers to a single foreigner of known gender; this is related to the use of the gender markers as honorifics (see below).
- Many nouns referring to animals whose primary class is the zho class can also be placed in the i class to refer to the meat of that animal, consumed as food. This includes kejazang, which means 'beef' in the i class.
- Nouns referring to inanimates whose primary class is the į class can be put in the bį class when it is a group of the inanimate in question, treated as an undifferentiated mass, which is referred to.
One of the circumstances in which the classifier affixes are used, then, is to indicate that a noun has the sense it takes in one of its secondary classes, rather than in the primary class. A brief list of the other circumstances in which the classifier affixes are used is given below.
- To indicate the presence of a subject or object of a verb or determiner when there is no corresponding subject or object NP (either because it has been dropped—Wendoth is a pro-drop language—or because it is not part of the same clause (as in relative clauses) or it has been moved to an unusual syntactic position).
- To indicate the gender of a human referent in the singular. The masculine and feminine classifiers to or ko function as a sort of honorific. It is considered impolite to refer to a non-intimate without using the appropriate classifier to indicate their gender, although it is not grammatically required; indeed, it is common to drop the classifiers when one wishes to deliberately insult somebody, or when referring to somebody from an enemy tribe. However, with children and intimates, it is permissible to drop the classifiers without any insulting connotations (the youngest children, in fact, are seen as non-gendered; yandįcho 'baby', for example, is of the zho class). During courtship, one would refer to one's lover with the appropriate classifier, but after marriage the spouse is considered an intimate, and usually the husband and wife stop needing to use the classifiers to refer to each other (although there are some marriages in which this stage is never reached). Note that zho is always used to refer to human referents in the plural.
- To disambiguate referents.
- To make the sentence fit a meter, or alliterate, so that it sounds better.
Mass and count nouns
Nouns in classes i, bį and ndo are mass nouns, and nouns in the other classes are count nouns. The distinction is generally unimportant, but the determiners mash- 'much' and id- 'many' are used with mass and count nouns respectively, and the determiners paj- 'little' and redh 'few' are used with mass and count nouns respectively.
Determiners agree with their head nouns in case and noun class. But only the nominative case is distinguished from the other cases by agreement; the accusative and dative cases take the same agreement markers. Likewise, the noun classes are grouped into four superclasses with respect to agreement, so that there are eight different agreement markers in total. The superclasses are:
- gendered humans (covering the to and ko classes) (gloss 'C1')
- foodstuffs, non-gendered humans and groups of humans, and non-human animates (covering the i, zho and ro classes) (gloss 'C2')
- concrete inanimates (covering the cum, bį, į and thą classes) (gloss 'C3')
- abstract inanimates (covering the ndo and ḍaro classes) (gloss 'C4')
Nouns in the first two superclasses can be collectively referred to as animate nouns, and nouns in the second two superclasses can be collectively referred to as inanimate nouns.
There are also some determiners which can (optionally) take classifier suffixes to allow the exact class of a noun to be indicated. These are precisely the demonstrative and interrogative determiners, which are also the determiners which have pronominal counterparts, and show other unique syntactic behaviour. The classifier suffixes are added after the regular agreement suffixes. Other determiners cannot take classifier suffixes.
The stems of determiners agreeing with nouns in the nominative always have a weighted phoneme at the end, although the weighted phoneme is followed by the lax vowel e (never any other vowel) if it is a consonant. This weighted phoneme is called the alternating part of the determiner. If the noun is animate, the weighted phoneme manifests as light. If the noun is inanimate, the weighted phoneme manifests as heavy. Determiners agreeing with nouns in superclass 1 are distinguished from those agreeing with nouns in superclass 2 by having an extra suffix -na added after the stem (which causes mutation of the final e if it is present), and determiners agreeing with nouns in superclass 4 are distinguished from determiners agreeing with nouns in superclass 3 by having an extra suffix -dha added after the stem; determiners agreeing with nouns in superclasses 2-3 do not have any suffix added after the stem. If the noun is in the accusative or dative case, the only thing that changes is that ą is inserted at the end of the stem, replacing the final lax vowel if one is present.
The following table summarises the declension of determiners by giving all the possible endings that may occur (with the endings starting at and including the alternating part). Y denotes the light manifestation of the determiner's alternating part and W denotes its heavy manifestation.
|Superclass 1||Superclass 2||Superclass 3||Superclass 4|
|Nominative||-Yina, -Yna1||-Ye, -Y1||-We, -W1||-Wedha, -Wdha1|
|Accusative / Dative||-Yąna||-Yą||-Wą||-Wądha|
- The e or i in these suffixes is not present if the alternating part is a close vowel.
The usual morphophonological alternations also occur.
- The final lax vowels that are present in all the endings except -Yą and -Wą disappear unless a suffix is added after them. Final e disappears even if a suffix is added, if that suffix begins with a close vowel.
- If the alternating part is preceded by o (if the alternating part is non-nasal) or a (if the alternating part is nasal), then the consonant before the o or a is affected by weight harmony and takes on the same weight as the alternating part. These alternating consonants are underlined in the citation forms. Close vowels preceding the alternating part may also be affected by weight harmony, but not all of them; as usual, those that are affected are underlined.
Determiners are untransformed when they agree with nominative nouns in superclasses 2 or 3, unless they have an additional noun class affix added (see below). Otherwise, they are transformed.
In addition, determiners, which generally occupy the initial position within an NP, prevent transformation of the following word under certain circumstances, generally when the determiner ends in a vowel. More specifically, transformation is prevented when the alternating part of the determiner is a consonant and the determiner ends in ą (i.e. it agrees with an accusative/dative noun in superclass 2 or 3), or the alternating part of the determiner is a close vowel and the determiner ends in that vowel or ą (i.e. it agrees with a noun in superclass 2 or 3). Note that this does not include the case where the alternating part of the determiner is nj and this nj disappears when the determiner agrees with a nominative noun in superclass 2 or 3. In that case, the determiner does end in a vowel but h is inserted (as usual) to break up the hiatus produced if the following word is transformed.
As the three other stems of a determiner are deducible from any given stem, there is no need to give all four stems when introducing a new determiner. Instead, we just give the common stem up to the alternating part, which is given in its light manifestation, and leave a trailing hyphen. From this, all four stems can easily be derived.
Some example determiner declensions are given below.
|redh- 'few'||Superclass 1||Superclass 2||Superclass 3||Superclass 4|
|Accusative / Dative||erdhąn||erdhą||ervą||ervądh|
|id- 'many'||Superclass 1||Superclass 2||Superclass 3||Superclass 4|
|Accusative / Dative||idąn||idą||ubą||ubądh|
|ṭoį- 'this'||Superclass 1||Superclass 2||Superclass 3||Superclass 4|
|Accusative / Dative||choįąn||choįą||ṭoųą||ṭoųądh|
|maner- 'only'||Superclass 1||Superclass 2||Superclass 3||Superclass 4|
|Accusative / Dative||amnerąn||manerą||manehą||amnehądh|
| sebe, sube
|Second-person|| süng / se-, se
|ni / ne-|
The table above gives the underlying forms of each personal pronoun (except the reflexive pronoun yo; see below). In each cell, the first form given is used as the stem in the nominative and dative cases, and has the usual nominative and dative case suffixes added after it, while the second form given is the full form in the accusative case; it does not have the usual accusative case suffix added after it. Accordingly, the second form has been given in its transformed form. Note, however, that the second form will not always be transformed, due to preceding determiners. The untransformed forms of umḍã, aḍḍã and ummu are muḍã, ḍaḍã and mumu, respectively.
The variants süng / se- and se are attested from different Wendoth languages; likewise with sebe and sube. The two variations are independent; for example, there are many Wendoth languages which show reflexes of süng / se- rather than se, but which also show reflexes of sebe rather than sube.
There are no third-person pronouns; noun class affixes serve their purpose in subject and object positions, and demonstratives with an appropriate noun class affix serve their purpose in other positions. There is one more personal pronoun which is not listed in the table above: the reflexive pronoun yo. This pronoun declines regularly; there is no suppletion in the accusative case as with the other pronouns. It is mainly used as an indirect object or as the object of a postpositional phrase, as the verbal reflexive suffix -yo is used for the same purpose to indicate a reflexive object. It can be used as an direct object, along with an agreeing reflexive suffix, for emphasis.
There are seven different demonstratives, which can be used as both pronouns and determiners.
|First-person||cho, ṭobe||choį, ṭobį|
|Second person||ṭosüng / ṭose-, ṭose||ṭosine, ṭosį|
|Non-directed||jhã / jha-||jhi|
|Superdistal, visible||vava||vavaį, vadhe|
|Superdistal, invisible||xexe||xexį, xece|
The table above gives the underlying forms of each demonstrative pronoun, along with the corresponding determiners (which are given in their citation forms). For the first-person demonstratives, two different forms are attested, one with the suffix -be (from the first-person singular pronoun), by analogy with the second-person demonstratives, and one without. The second-person demonstrative's two variants correspond to the two variants of the second-person singular pronoun. As for the two variants of the superdistal demonstrative determiners, it is probable that vadhe and xece are the older forms, while vavaį and xexį are formed by analogy with vaį and xį.
The first-person and second-person demonstratives are used to refer to objects close to the speaker and the addressee, respectively. The ‘non-directed’ demonstrative jhã / jha- is used when it does not make sense to speak of the place of the object referred to. For example, it might be used to refer to the place the speaker and addressee are currently in, or it might be used to refer to a sound coming from an unknown location, or it might be used to refer to an idea or topic of conversation. It can usually be glossed as 'this'.
The two distal demonstratives are used for objects which are removed from both the speaker and addressee, but relatively close, while the superdistal demonstratives are used for objects which are relatively far away. va and vave are used for visible objects and xe and xexe are used for invisible objects.
Demonstrative pronouns can optionally take classifier suffixes agreeing with the noun class of their referent. This is especially common when they are used to refer to humans,
The demonstratives may take noun class suffixes agreeing with their referents in both their pronoun and determiner forms. These are added after case suffixes and agreement suffixes, but before postpositional enclitics. In particular, the demonstrative determiners can sometimes follow, rather than precede, their head noun—but when they do, they have to take an agreeing noun class suffix.
There is a single interrogative determiner, ndai, but there are two interrogative pronouns, ndai and ndau: ndai 'who' is used to refer to humans, i.e. referents that could be referred to by a noun in the to or ko class, or, equivalently, referents that take determiners with the -na suffix, and ndau 'what' is used to refer to non-humans.
The interrogatives also function as indefinites in declarative statements; as mentioned above, there are verbal prefixes and suffixes which can be used as indefinite markers, but using the explicit pronouns has the effect of putting the focus on the indefinite element rather than away from it.
Like the demonstratives, the interrogatives may take noun class suffixes agreeing with their referents, and they can follow their head noun, but when they do, they have to take an agreeing noun class suffix.
Noun class affixes on demonstratives and interrogatives
Although determiners agree with their head nouns with respect to class, they do not use the usual noun class affixes to do so in general. However, demonstrative and interrogative determiners, unlike all the other determiners, may take a noun class suffix, in addition to their usual agreement suffixes. The suffix follows any of the usual agreement suffixes. Likewise, demonstrative and interrogative pronouns may take a noun class suffix, which follows any case suffix. As usual, addition of these suffixes is entirely optional but it may be used to indicate that a noun has the sense it takes in one of its secondary classes, to indicate the gender of a human referent, to disambiguate referents or for metrical / alliterative purposes. It is also possible for demonstrative and interrogative determiners to follow their complement NPs rather than precede them, as normal, in which case they always have to take a noun class suffix agreeing with the complement NP.
The Wendoth do not appear to have been a very numerate people. Most of the numerals have transparent etymologies, and there appear to have been several variants of quite a few of them. Reconstructing numerals beyond 12 is impossible, and it is likely that these were formed on an ad hoc basis.
The first three cardinal numbers have both nominal and determiner forms, which are used in free variation. For the numeral 1, the determiner form was the most common one, but the reverse was the situation for 2 and 3. Hardly any of the Wendoth languages preserve the determiner form of 2 in its original sense, and none of them preserve the determiner form of 3. Instead, the more common change has been for the determiner forms of 2 and 3 (sometimes just 3) to change sense and become used as ordinal numerals instead, paralleling ir-, the ordinal numeral 1. yosh-, listed here as the ordinal numeral 2, is best glossed as 'other', as it has a wider sense, more comparable to that English word than 'second'. Hence, in the languages that started to use ųįke to mean 'second', yosh- often survived as 'other'.
Ordinal numerals higher than 2 cannot be reconstructed. The Wendoth languages exhibit a wide variety of constructions for these. It is quite possible that there was simply no way of forming these ordinals in the proto-language.
The following numeral forms can be reconstructed:
- mang / ndo- (determiner ndan-, ordinal determiner ir-)
- ųįqe (determiner ųįke, ordinal determiner yosh-)
- ndanaįqe, ndoųįqe (determiner ch(eg)ųįk-)
- tehą / teha-
- ndache(ge)teha (checheteha)
- ųįqeche(ge)teha (jojotateha, jot(eh)ajoteha)
- [ahajabą / ahajado-] (chechetateha, chet(eh)acheteha)
The forms of the numeral 1 are presumably of ancient origin, as is yoshe 'second' (which is also used in the sense of 'other'). Influence from the determiner form may be the reason why Pre-Wendoth man become mang as a noun rather than the expected *ndan. Note that in addition to ndan-, there is also a determiner uiy meaning 'single, exactly one'.
The cardinal numeral 2, ųįqe, shows no relation to yoshe. In fact, it likely originated from a Pre-Wendoth word ʔeʔeku, which was reduplicated from a root, ʔeku, meaning 'finger'. We also see this root in nguįqe 'be cunning, clever' (< PW ŋun-ʔeku 'use the finger'), although no trace of it survives otherwise (the word for 'finger' in Wendoth is įau, which is a compound formed from į-, the secondary stem of įą 'hand', and hau 'end'). The determiner form ųįke fell out of use in most of the Wendoth languages.
The two forms ndanaįqe and ndoųįqe of the cardinal numeral 3 both originate from compounds of the numerals for one and two. In Pre-Wendoth, such a compound would have looked like man-ʔeʔeku. But it seems that the n-ʔ cluster was simplified to either n or ʔ in different dialects, accounting for the two forms. It seems also that the determiner form of 3 was formed in an entirely different way, by appending the che- prefix to ųįke. Perhaps ch(eg)ųįqe was once another variant of the cardinal numeral 3, but no trace of it survives. In every Wendoth language in which the form ch(eg)ųįke survives, it has come to be used exclusively as an ordinal.
The numeral 5, tehą / teha 'five', is identical with the word for 'fist' (< PW peŋoʔ), and tateha The numeral 10 originates from a reduplication of the same word. Presumably tateha was once a Type II noun with the primary stem tatehą, but the primary stem fell out of use and it became a Type I noun. As for the numeral hahajabą 'twelve', it is of unknown origin. But in some languages its meaning is 'one hundred', which suggests that 'twelve' may be a anachronistic reconstruction—it probably originally just meant 'a large quantity'.
The other numerals are formed from compounds. Some of these make use of the verbs jo 'precede' and che 'succeed'. These verbs in their plain forms are obselete in Wendoth, having been replaced by forms with the verb ge compounded on the end—joge and chege—and many of the Wendoth languages have inserted -ge into at least some of these numerals accordingly. The secondary stem teha for 'five' is used in these compounds (as is typical for the compounds in Wendoth of more ancient origin).
In some Wendoth languages, the jo- and che- prefixes are added twice to form the numerals for 7, 8 and/or 12. This must be of recent origin, because the jo- prefix is unaffected by weight harmony: PW ɣaɣapepeŋo would result in *hojotateha rather than jojotateha. Other languages have formed the forms for 8 and 12 by reduplicating the forms for 4 and 6, resulting in jotehajoteha and chetehacheteha, which were then simplified to jotajoteha and chetacheteha (the loss of a sequence of the form Vh is attested in a few other compounds, such as kejazang 'cattle', which was originally kejazohang < PW kiɣa-zo ran 'kept aurochs'). More commonly, though, the numerals for 7 and 8 were simply formed as additive compounds (with the smaller numeral preceding the larger one), and hahajabą was used for the numeral 12.
Each verb in Wendoth has a primary stem, used in the non-past tense, and a secondary stem, used in the non-past tense. Finite verbs take additional suffixes marking for mood (indicative vs. subjunctive, subjunctive being the marked mood) and, for some verbs, aspect (specific vs. generic, generic being the marked mood). They can also, optionally, take noun class affixes to agree with their arguments (prefixes agree with subjects, suffixes agree with objects); the noun class suffixes follow the subjunctive and generic suffixes if present. Finally, there are a few verbal enclitics which follow the noun class suffixes and are used for misellaneous purposes: negation, imperatives, etc.
Verbs are transformed whenever an affix is added (which might be a noun class affix or the subjunctive or generic marker), but not necessarily when an enclitic is added, or when the secondary stem is used rather than the primary stem.
Verbs may be intransitive, monotransitive or ditransitive. Some monotransitive verbs take their object in the dative case, such as kaųjo 'wash'. These dative objects can still be considered indirect objects, because it is impossible to add a noun class suffix to a verb to agree with its dative object. Noun class suffixes can only agree with objects in the accusative case.
Just like nouns, based on the relation between the primary and secondary stem, verbs can be classified into three kinds.
Type I verbs
Type I verbs, which comprise the majority of verbs, have a primary stem that ends in a lax vowel or close vowel. All verbs with a primary stem ending in a lax vowel are of Type I, but some verbs with a primary stem ending in a close vowel are of Type II.
For Type I verbs, in the secondary stem, the final vowel is mutated, and either nj or h is usually added to the end of the stem. The secondary stem can be regularly derived from the primary stem.
- If the primary stem ends in į, i or a light consonant followed by a lax vowel, then nj is added to the end in the secondary stem (and the final lax vowel, if present, is mutated).
- If the primary stem ends in a heavy consonant followed by a lax vowel, then h is added to the end in the secondary stem (and the final lax vowel, if present, is mutated).
- If the primary stem ends in ų or u, then the secondary stem is exactly the same as the primary stem, so the past and present tenses are not distinguished for these verbs.
- If the primary stem ends in į or i, then the secondary stem has non-alternating į or i instead and has nj added afterwards.
In general, however, the distinction between which of the two consonants are added is irrelevant, because both nj and h disappear word-finally and before consonants, leaving only the mutation of the final lax vowel to differentiate the two stems. The only time the distinction is relevant is when a suffix beginning with a close vowel (one of the noun class suffixes -i or -į, the accusative suffix -į, or the possessive suffix -į) is added to the secondary stem, in which case nj appears as nj and h appears as h (or disappears, if a tense vowel precedes it).
Note that if the primary stem ends in e, and the consonant preceding the e is not labial, the mutation in the secondary stem turns this e into ü, which is realised as i most of the time but as u if a suffix is added to the secondary stem which begins with a labial consonant, i.e. one of the noun class suffixes -to and -ndo (if they are not followed by a light syllable) and -bį, or the dative suffix -ma.
- pere 'be under' has the secondary stem perünj.
- qawange 'explore' has the secondary stem qawangü.
- uzheca 'travel' has the secondary stem uzhecenj.
- ṭaseqa 'wear' has the secondary stem ṭaseheh.
- veqeyo 'be cold' has the secondary stem veqeyanj.
- cuį 'lack' has the secondary stem cuįnj.
- ndotau 'be cruel' has the secondary stem ndotau.
- hųmį 'push' has the secondary stem hųmįnj.
Type II verbs
Type II verbs have a primary stem that ends in an underlying tense vowel. All verbs with a primary stem ending in ą or ã are of Type II, but most verbs with a primary stem ending in a close vowel are of Type I rather than Type II.
For Type II verbs, in the secondary stem, the final tense vowel of the primary stem is replaced with a different vowel (whose quality is usually unpredictable, so that it is necessary to memorise both stems). It is possible to make some generalisations about which vowel will replace the final tense vowel.
- If the primary stem ends in a close vowel, this final close vowel is replaced by e.
- If the primary stem ends in a close vowel followed by an open tense vowel, the final open tense vowel disappears.
- Even if the preceding close vowel is ų or u, it never changes into į or i, because the only light syllable that can be added after the secondary stem is the past tense suffix, -įnj or -inj, and although historically, some instances of ų and u did change to į and i before this suffix due to weight harmony, dissimilation resulted in them changing back into ų and u.
- If the primary stem ends in a consonant followed by an open tense vowel, the final open tense vowel is replaced by a lax vowel, which is always either a or o. It is always replaced by a if the preceding consonant is light, but if the preceding consonant is heavy it may be replaced by either. If it is replaced by o, then the preceding heavy consonant will become alternating in the secondary stem.
In addition, to form the past tense, a suffix is added to the secondary stem: -įnj if the primary stem ends in a creaky-voiced vowel (į, ų or ą) and -inj if the primary stem ends in a breathy-voiced vowel (i, u or ã). This suffix is not added to the secondary stems of verbal nouns formed from Type II verbs. Adding the suffix regularly induces preceding į or i to change into ų or u by dissimilation.
- megį 'take' has the secondary stem mege- and the past tense form megįnj.
- uįqu 'split' has the secondary stem uįqe- and the past tense form uįqinj.
- unjã 'make dirty' has the secondary stem unja- and the past tense form unjainj.
- ndųbą 'bend' has the secondary stem nduba- and the past tense form ndųbaįnj.
- yehą 'be dead' has the secondary stem yego- and the past tense form yegoįnj.
- iã 'be above' has the secondary stem i- and the past tense form uinj.
- ḍoųã 'crush, grind' has the secondary stem ḍoų- and the past tense form ḍoųinj.
- dhįuą 'be in pain' has the secondary stem dhįu- (historically dhįi-) and the past tense form dhįuįnj.
Type III verbs
All verbs with primary stems that end in underlying nasals or h are of Type III; the Type III verbs also include some verbs whose primary stems end in close vowels which originally ended in h.
For Type III verbs, in the secondary stem, the final nasal or h of the primary stem is deleted (if it is present) and the preceding vowel is ‘un-mutated’:
- a in the primary stem becomes o in the secondary stem, and the preceding light phoneme becomes alternating.
- e in the primary stem becomes a in the secondary stem.
- ü in the primary stem becomes e in the secondary stem.
- u in the primary stem sometimes becomes e in the secondary stem, too, but it is also possible for it to remain unchanged in the secondary stem. It always remains unchanged in the secondary stem if it is not preceded by a labial consonant.
- į and i in the primary stem sometimes become alternating in the secondary stem. Otherwise, they remain unchanged.
- ų in the primary stem remains unchanged in the secondary stem.
In addition, to form the past tense, the suffix -u is added to the secondary stem. This suffix is not added to the secondary stems of verbal nouns formed from Type II verbs. Adding the suffix regularly induces preceding ų or u to change into į or i by dissimilation.
- ḍaxendam 'lie down' has the secondary stem ḍaxendo- and the past tense form ḍaxemou.
- nojem 'suck' has the secondary stem noja- and the past tense form nojau.
- ngozhebeh 'squeeze' has the secondary stem ngozheba- and the past tense form ngozhebau'.
- gemahüng 'enjoy' has the secondary stem gemahe- and the past tense form gemahu.
- shehumu 'bring' has the secondary stem shehume- and the past tense form shehumu.
- chįnj 'remember' has the secondary stem chį- and the past tense form chįnj.
- hau 'touch' has the secondary stem hau- and the past tense form haiu.
- cedhing 'lift' has the secondary stem cedhi- and the past tense form cedhiu (but as a verbal noun, in the accusative case, it is cedhuų).
Aspect and mood
The subjunctive suffix is -qa, and the generic suffix is -sha. If both suffixes are added, the generic suffix precedes the subjunctive suffix. Apart from the usual morphophonological alternations (the final as of both suffixes disappear when no extra suffix is added), there are no complications in adding these suffixes.
Many verbs cannot have the generic suffix added to them. These verbs can be considered stative verbs, while the other verbs are considered dynamic verbs. Stative verbs can be thought of as being generic by default. They often correspond to adjectives in English, e.g. rauį 'be red', faįro 'be asleep'. Often, a stative verb has a dynamic counterpart with a distinct root, e.g. įjo 'sleep'. Dynamic verbs can also be derived from stative verbs using the inceptive prefix hou- and the cessative prefix hau-.
Subject and object agreement
The noun class affixes can be used as both prefixes and suffixes on verbs. When a noun class affix is prefixed to a verb, it agrees with the verb's subject, and when a noun class affix is suffixed to a verb, it agrees with the verb's direct object. The addition of these affixes is mandatory when the NP they agree with follows the verb, or when the verb is the main verb of a relative clause and the affix agrees with the NP which the relative clause is attached to, or when the NP is absent altogether. Otherwise, addition of the affixes is optional.
In addition, the noun class affixes can be used for the purposes listed above: to indicate that a noun has the sense it takes in one of its secondary classes, to indicate the gender of a human referent, to disambiguate referents, or for metrical / alliterative purposes.
The noun class affixes can also be used to agree with an entity which does not actually have a noun referring to it in the sentence. This entity is always assumed to be a third person. The noun class affixes thus serve the function of the third-person pronouns of other languages.
Note that it is impossible for a noun class affix to agree with the indirect object of a verb. By “indirect object” here, we mean any noun in the dative. There is a class of verbs that take their single argument in the dative case; these verbs cannot have a noun class suffix added to them, because they never have a direct object. These verbs can still take noun class prefixes agreeing with their subjects.
Special agreement suffixes
There are a couple of additional agreement affixes, besides the classifiers.
The first of these is the reflexive suffix -yo. This is added to verbs to indicate that the object is the same as the subject. If the appropriate noun class suffix was used instead, this would entail that the object was different from the subject, and just of the same class.
Secondly, there are the indefinite affixes nde and me. These are added to verbs to indicate that the subject or object is indefinite—'somebody' (if nde is used) or 'something' (if me is used). There are also explicit indefinite pronouns ndai and ndau, as mentioned above, but the indefinite affixes are used to lend less emphasis to the indefinite argument. The effect they have is akin to a passive construction, and in fact the usual way to translate passives where the subject is not indicated in a ‘by’-phrase is using these affixes.
The verbal noun
Every verb can also be nominalised to form a verbal noun (a noun denoting the action or state expressed by the verb). This is a fully productive process, more morphological than derivational.
If the verb is of Type I, then the verbal noun is formed from its primary stem, and it is a Type I noun. Otherwise, the verbal noun takes the same type, the same primary stem and the same secondary stem as the original verb (although the secondary stem does not have the past tense suffix -įnj, -inj or -u added).
The class of the nominalised verb is usually the ḍaro class, but sometimes it is the ndo class, depending on the meaning of the verb.
The arguments of a nominalised verb can be indicated via PPs using -dha with the PP's complement noun in the nominative (if the argument is the subject of the verb) or the accusative (if the argument is the object of the verb). Remember that the complement of a PP using dha is considered to be alienable if it is in the nominative case and inalienable if it is in the accusative case, so this means that subjects are considered to be alienably possessed by the actions they perform, while objects are considered to be inalienably possessed by the actions that are performed on them. The same method is not used to indicate dative arguments (-dha never takes complements in the dative case); instead, these can be indicated using PPs headed by -qį 'for'.
Other nominalising suffixes
There are also quite a few nominalising suffixes which are used for more specialised kinds of nominalisation.
The most ancient of these suffixes can be identified by the fact that they attach to the secondary stem of a Type II/III verb (without its usual past suffix added), rather than the primary stem. These suffixes are fairly productive, but many formations have somewhat idiomatic, unpredictable meanings. They are:
- -ni / -ne-, the agentive-stative suffix, which forms a noun referring to an agent in the state expressed by the verb, or, if the verb is dynamic, an agent which habitually carries out the action expressed by the verb. For some intransitive verbs, generally those that express an involuntary or undesirable state, the patientive-stative suffix -ke is used instead. The resulting noun is of Type II; -ne- is its ending in its secondary stem.
- Examples: waun / wau- 'lie' > wauni / waune- 'liar', xahesa 'be angry' > xahesani / xahesane- 'raving lunatic'
- -re, the causative suffix, which forms a noun referring to an animate that habitually causes, undergoes or carries out the state or action described by the verb (it is thus broader in meaning than its name would suggest). The resulting noun is of Type I.
- Examples: veqeyo 'be cold' > veqeyore 'chilly breeze', rokexe 'float' > rokehere 'object that floats'
- -ke, the patientive-stative suffix, which forms a noun referring to an object (which may be animate or inanimate) that habitually undergoes the action or takes the state expressed by the verb. If the object is animate, it carries the implication that the action or state is involuntary or unfortunate for the animate object in question. The resulting noun is of Type I.
- Examples: yehą / yego- 'be dead' > yegoke 'corpse', dhemere 'move away from' > dhemereke 'outcast, loner', ṭaseqa 'wear' > ṭashehake 'clothes'
- -ką / -ka-, the past agentive suffix, which forms a noun referring to an agent that has taken the state expressed by the verb (whether it is presently in the state or not), or, if the verb is dynamic, an agent that has carried out the action expressed by the verb before. For some intransitive verbs, generally those that express an involuntary or undesirable state, the past patientive suffix -fa is used instead. The resulting noun is of Type II; -ka- is its ending in its secondary stem.
- Examples: cindiką / cindika- 'person who has made their first kill (of a human)', reqeyaką / reqeyaka- 'married person', xepadaką / xepadaka- 'person who has left' (including the meanings of 'escapee' and 'deserter')
- -fa, the past patientive suffix, which forms a noun referring to an object (which may be animate or inanimate) that has undergone the action or taken the state expressed by the verb (whether it is presently in the state or not). If the object is animate, it carries the implication that the action or state is involuntary or unfortunate for the animate object in question. The resulting noun is of Type I.
- Examples: ṭeqahefa 'injured person', sathefa 'received wisdom, tradition', reqeyafa 'unhappily married person', kejafa 'domestic animal'
There are also two suffixes of more recent origin which attach to the primary stem rather than the secondary stem.
- -vayo, the instrumental suffix, which forms a noun referring to an object that can be used to carry out the action or maintain the state expressed by the verb. The resulting noun is of Type I.
- Examples: jinehą 'heal' > jinehąvayo 'medicine', cindi 'kill' > cindivayo 'weapon'
- -įcho, the resultative suffix, which forms a noun referring to an object that results from carrying out the action or maintaining the state expressed by the verb. The resulting noun is of Type I.
- Examples: ḍaḍa 'attack' > ḍaḍaįcho 'loot, plunder (n.)', haye 'speak' > hayįcho 'message'
In addition, each of these suffixes can have the morpheme -xe 'not' added after them, in which case they have the opposite of their usual meaning—they refer to a noun that fails to have the usual property. Historically, this arises from sentences of the following form:
The wauni xe part of the sentence was reanalysed as a single noun, waunixe, and underwent regular sound change and a slight shift in the emphasis of the meaning to become waunix 'honest person'. Only nouns derived from verbs via these derivational suffixes were reanalysed in this way, but it is a highly productive process—virtually every such noun has a 'complement' formed by adding -xe. For example, from yegoke 'corpse' we have yegokexe 'survivor; one who still lives'. As this example shows, the original meaning is still emphasised to some extent; yegokexe does not simply mean 'living person'. Likewise, xahesanixe does not mean 'mild-mannered person' but rather 'somebody who keeps their temper under control'.
Inceptives and cessatives
The rather similar prefixes hou- and hau-, derived from the verbs hou 'begin' and hau 'end', are used to indicate inceptive and cessative aspect, respectively. The resulting verb is always dynamic. These prefixes are highly productive and the change in meaning they induce is highly regular, so they could, in fact, be considered morphological rather than derivational prefixes.
Iteratives and intensives
Iteratives (of dynamic verbs) and intensives (of stative verbs) are formed by reduplicating the verb stem. Only the first syllable is reduplicated. There are many fossilised iterations in which the reduplicated first syllable changes, due to vowel mutation or dissimilation: for example, nginge 'be entranced by' is derived from nge 'see', and ųįkaqa 'be a nuisance' is derived from įkaqa 'make noise'. However, more recent iterations do not show these changes, so that the reduplicated syllable is identical to the old one. For example, we also have įįkaqa meaning 'make noise over and over again'.
The prefix ų- is used to form causatives. If an intransitive verb has the meaning ‘to X’, then adding ų- to it gives it the new meaning ‘to make sbd. (dat.) X’. That is, the derived causative verb takes a dative object, which is the causee, while its subject is the causer. The causee has to be an agent capable of volition. Similarly, if the verb is transitive, adding ų- results in the meaning ‘to make sbd. (dat.) X sth./sbd. (acc.)’. That is, the derived causative verb takes the causer as its subject, the causee as its indirect object and the object of the caused action as its direct object. However, any noun class suffix added to the derived verb agrees with the indirect object (the causee), rather than the indirect object.
The prefix ne- is an intransitivising prefix. It is less productive than the other derivational methods mentioned in this section, but it is still reasonably productive. Many verbs with ne- added have become independent lexical stems and drifted in meaning from the original verb; for example, we have tharethe 'annoy, bother, frustrate' but netharethe 'be foolish, silly, ridiculous', and zhatenjo 'endure, suffer' but nezhatenjo 'be suffering'. Note that both of these verbs changed from dynamic to stative when ne- was added. This does not always happen, but it is not uncommon; it is also possible for a verb to change from stative to dynamic when ne- is added. This is due to the fact that ne- has been a productive derivational suffix since before the distinction between stative and dynamic verbs evolved.
A minimal intransitive clause in Wendoth has a subject and a verb. There are no impersonal verbs, like “rain” in English; these meanings are conveyed by other means (for example, “it is raining” is phrased as “rain is falling”). It is, however, possible for the subject to be conveyed only by a subject-marking prefix, having no corresponding NP.
- MASC-be brave
The usual word order in intransitive clauses is SV (subject-verb).
Verb-subject (VS) word order is also possible, but if this word order is used, the verb must take a subject-marking prefix (in accordance with the general rule that a verb must take an affix marking an argument which follows the verb).
The two possible word orders are not associated with any difference in meaning. However, VS is much more marked, and speakers who use it frequently will be criticised for clumsy phrasing. This is in contrast to the situation with SVO vs. VSO word order in transitive clauses, where VSO is the more usual word order.
A minimal transitive clause in Wendoth has a subject, a verb and a direct object. However, as in intransitive clauses, the subject and direct object may be marked only by affixes on the verb.
The usual word order in transitive sentences is VSO; when the verb precedes the subject and object it has to take subject-marking and object-marking prefixes agreeing with them.
- older brother
However, if the subject is a pronoun, whether personal, demonstrative or interrogative, then it is more usual for the subject to precede the verb, resulting in SVO word order.
Even so, word order is largely free due to case marking, and both VSO and SVO word orders are used in both situations; it is only the relative frequency of the two that differs depending on whether the subject is a pronoun. Historically, the predominant word order was SOV, and this is still sometimes used as well: fossilised proverbs and set phrases often have preserved SOV word order, and due to the influence of these it is common for people to use SOV word order when they are trying to impart some wisdom that they want people to remember. An example is the following insult, which literally means “you lick the earth” and is intended to humiliate the addressee by referring to their low social status.
Because of the free word order, it is difficult to say what is the usual position of indirect objects in transitive clauses. They are always in the same place as the direct object, but they may precede or follow the direct object. It is slightly more common for them to follow the direct object.
Wendoth makes use of a zero copula to indicate identity between two referents.
However, in order to indicate membership of a referent in a class, one must use a verb, or a verb derived from the noun referring to the class using the prefix u-.
This prefix is related to the verb u 'be', which can also be used as a verbal copula to indicate that a noun is described by a prepositional phrase.
The verb u has an irregular past form au (it is actually etymologically unrelated); this form of the copula can also be used to indicate identity between nouns in the past tense.
The subjects and objects of clauses are determiner phrases (DPs). DPs are headed by either a personal pronoun or a determiner (possibly a zero determiner). If a DP is headed by a personal pronoun, it consists of this single word and has no other internal structure. On the other hand, DPs headed by determiners obligatorily take a single noun phrase (NP) as a complement.
In general, the complement in a determiner-headed DP (the NP) follows the head (the determiner). If the determiner ends in a vowel, transformation of the first word in the following NP is prevented where it would otherwise occur.
The exceptions to this rule are the demonstrative and interrogative determiners. These determiners can follow their complement NPs, but if they do, they have to take a noun class suffix agreeing with the noun in the NP.
Determiner-final DPs, when allowed, are in free variation with determiner-initial DPs, and determiner-initial DPs remain the most common variant.
Noun phrases (NPs) are headed by nouns. The head noun in an NP does not take any complements, but it can have adjuncts attached to it, which are of three kinds: postpositional phrases (PPs), appositive NPs, and relative clauses. PPs are always the closest adjuncts to the head noun, but appositive NPs and RCs can be placed in any order.
Appositive NPs precede their head nouns, and agree in case with them. In general, appositive constructions are uncommon in Wendoth; other languages make use them to convey adjectival meanings, but Wendoth prefers to use relative clauses for this purpose. However, the cardinal numerals are commonly used as appositives:
In order to understand how a phrase like this behaves, it is helpful to think of ndanaįqe as meaning “triple” (as in a group of three objects) rather than “three”. Hence the phrase above can be taken as meaning “a man-triple” or “a triple of men”.
It is therefore possible to multiply numbers by stacking them together:
The meaning of this phrase can be taken as “a 5-tuple of 10-tuples of men”.
PPs are headed by postpositions. As mentioned above, the postpositions form a very small closed class with just 7 members. In addition, every PP must take a single NP as a complement. The NP always precedes the postposition (otherwise, the name “postposition” would not be appropriate).
Even though this was the state of affairs in at least an early stage of Wendoth, it is not preserved in any of the daughter languages. The situation in Wendoth as reconstructed here, where there were postpositions but there was also primary VSO word order in transitive sentences, violates a syntactic universal. It is therefore likely that it was only the situation for a very short period, if at all. Each postposition has fallen out of use or has become a case suffix or preposition in each daughter languages.
In fact, it is possible that the postpositions were already case suffixes in Wendoth. It is impossible to know whether constructions such as the following, where a postpositional enclitic cliticised to the end of the NP but not to the end of the head noun of the NP, were possible in Wendoth:
But, considering the fact that the postpositional enclitics were apparently tightly bound to the words they cliticised to, it is quite likely that such constructions were impossible, and instead this would be phrased as
Of course, if the postpositions were true case suffixes it is less plausible that they would become prepositions. In general, it is safe to say that the syntactic nature of the Wendoth adpositions was in a state of flux at the time of the language's dispersal.
Kejazang ouhyehąsh: a poem
The following text is adapted from stanza 77 of the Hávamál. It is an example of Wendoth poetry which makes use of both alliteration and rhyme as well as adhering to a strict qualitative meter. The third and sixth lines are in anapestic trimeter; the others are in anapestic dimeter.
- start-be dead-GEN
- start-be dead-GEN
- be dead
Ḍengedh ngįaye: the legend of the hare
The following text is adapted from a Nivkh legend given in Gruzdeva (1998). This is written in more casual language, as a storyteller might tell it.
Oz'hounoixi ųm acau ųįq ąthcizh oz'hezindi todh akshewoqįdh aqwangeqį. Upazh, ozhnoixi og ndochãzh, oz'hau ceg inhaįqį įbįzh. Ozṭahesix yų, ozfau uymat, xou ḍeng įkaganj įbįzh. Eḍngųį ahyeshã, ottharethiz ekekechã eḍngų. Otchum ekeyaif, "Ophauḍa tok; ndauqį ottharethiz sing eḍngų?" Cai, oųpdhemerum chag ettepum owqųį ahyų, ekekechã įįkag chag eḍngųį ahyeshã. Eḍngųį aye dhedhecu ją, yį uuhoqeqi ją. Ekeyaif nenetahehu ją. Otginj ųm, opḍoxomou, oųppofowagubų baḍ wam uqrų woį ngįdh vįhau, xou, ndochãzh, ophoufaįra.
Jathaįzh, įj tha chag, otyatoraį chag ekeyaif. Opngi baḍ. Yį ouhyehu, ehkekechum umngau. Shez ḍoxomou įjahauzh exzhodh oḍxomoįdh zhec. Ehkekechãdh waįdh thąt, maneh įąṭasehak wa ją. Taw oṭḍa aundqį xe ozhjhauheḍa sum eḍngįdh athrethų. Indvawum choįnazh woq ųįqadh auįdh thum Xaunezu.
Two men were going away from their home to visit relatives who lived far away. On the way, after they had been going for a long time, they passed the night in the forest. One of the men was the father-in-law and the other was the son-in-law. They laid the fire, and were sitting by the fire when a hare cried in the forest. Using the hare's voice, the father-in-law agitated the hare. The son-in-law said, "Stop that; why are you agitating the hare?" But, ignoring what his friend was saying, the father-in-law continued to use the hare's voice. The hare's voice became louder and louder, and the fire burned more and more. The son-in-law became more and more afraid. He went away, lay down, covered himself up with grass to hide himself and, after a while, fell asleep.
At dawn, when it was light, the son-in-law woke up. He looked around. The fire had gone out, and his father-in-law had disappeared. The dogs lay as they had laid in the evening. Where his father-in-law had been, only the footwear remained. And that is why people do not want to agitate the hare. The place where these two friends passed the night is called Xaunezu.
- and then
- MASC-CAUS-move away from.PAST-c10
- MASC-lie down-PAST
- MASC-CAUS-be covered with-PAST-c7
- and then
- MASC-INCP-be asleep.PAST
- MASC-wake up-PAST
- NDEF.IN-cause to disappear-PAST