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Thsäv [t͜sʰaːβ] is very similar to Shess in its grammar. The distinct character of Thsäv phonology comes from extensive elision.
Thsäv is a moderately inflecting and somewhat isolating language.
adjectives precede the words they modify, but numbers and possessive pronouns come after.
word order in Thsäv is mostly free. words may appear anywhere in the sentence. some limitations on word ordering:
- modifiers must precede the word they modify (with the exception of numbers and, optionally, possessive pronouns)
- the verb must be at the end of a subordinate phrase
words may be ordered to show emphasis, by moving them closer to the end of the sentence or nearer to other relevant words. aesthetic concerns, too, may govern the ordering of words.
the "default" word order is OVS, with VOS as a common dialectal variation.
stops <k p t kh ph th g b d> /k p t̪ kʰ pʰ tʰ g b d̪/
fricatives <h s z v> /h s z β/
nasals <m n mh nh> /m n̪ m̥ n̪̊/
taps <r gr br/rb> /ɾ ɾˠ ɾʷ/
approximants <w j ğ y̆> /w j jˠ ɥ/
when <s> occurs after <kh ph th> it becomes an aspirated affricate [ksʰ psʰ tsʰ]
<w j ğ y̆>, instead of being independent phonemes, impart labialization, palatalization, velar-palatalization, and labio-palatalization to the preceding consonant, respectively (e.g. ny̆ād /nᶣɒːd/)
<m n mh nh> assimilate before consonants with a different POA (e.g. pamgat [pɐŋ.gɐʔ])
<g b d z v m n> + <h> across word boundaries causes deletion of <h> and breathiness of following vowel (/pʉb.hɒɾ/ [pʉɒ̤ɾ])
<r> + <b> across word boundaries is pronounced the same as <br>
<t d> are dental, <th> is alveolar
<t> is realized as [ʔ] at the end of a word and before <n nh>
in some dialects, /p/ and /k/ also become [ʔ] at the end of a word, rounding and backing the preceding vowels respectively
<th> is realized as [ʔ] before <kh ph th>
<k p t> + <h> sequences across word boundaries may merge to <kh ph th>
aspirated stops cannot coexist in adjacent syllables or the same syllable. if one stop is stressed, it will remain aspirated; otherwise, it is the second stop that will remain aspirated
<r> is realized as [ɾˠ] when next to <k>, and as [ɾʷ] when next to <b> or <w>
<rg> is realized as [ɾˠ]
<rd> is realized as [ɾ]; it is not modified by adjacent velar or rounded consonants like <r>
front mid back
close iː ʉ uː
mid ɛ ɛː o
open aː ɐ (ɐː) ɒː
short <a e i o y> /ɐ ɛ ɪ~ɪ̈ o ʉ/
long <ā ä ē ī ō ū> /ɒː ɛː aː~ɐː iː oː uː/
<o> is lowered to [ɒ] before the taps <r gr br>
vowels can be made breathy-voiced with an underdot or following <h>; e.g. <āh> /ɒ̤ː/, <oh ọ> /o̤/
syllables are in the form (C)(A/T)V(C)
most words are stressed at the first syllable. words beginning with <yr> and <ar> are stressed on the second syllable. word stress is pronounced slightly louder than the following syllables and with a higher pitch, the pitch falling with each subsequent syllable. the next stressed syllable will rise in pitch again, though slightly lower than in the preceding word.
some words merge due to phonetic mutation (next section), being pronounced as one word with two stressed syllables.
voiced stop elision
historically, <g b d> lenited between vowels and before consonants. in AD the lenited consonants have disappeared, leaving diphthongs in place of sequences of <vowel> + <voiced stop> + <vowel>, and compensatorily lengthened vowels before <voiced stop> + <consonant> clusters. if the first vowel was followed by <b>, then it is rounded; it is backed if followed by <g>. <d> has no effect on the preceding vowel.
a [ɑ] [ɶ]
e [ɤ] [œ]
i [ʊ] [ʏ]
o [o] [o]
y [u] [ʉ]
ā [ɒː] [ɒː]
ä [ɑː] [ɶː]
ē [ʌ͓ː] [œː]
ī [ɤː] [yː]
ō [oː] [oː]
ū [uː] [uː]
[ʊ] and [ʌ͓ː] are unrounded
[ɤ] and [ɤː] are mid-back
despite the name, <z v> are also included in the process of voiced stop elision. <z> is treated identically to <d>, and <v> to <b>.
short vowels are reduced to a non-syllabic glide when adjacent to a long vowel (e.g. /ɶaː/ [ɶ̯aː]). /ɪ o ʉ/ reduce to [j w ɥ].
short vowels also reduce before a diphthong
gyd [gʉd] "fish"
ygyd [uʉd] "fish (acc)"
thagyd [tʰɑʉd] "of a fish"
ogyd [oʉd] "to a fish"
pagyd [pɑʉd] "at a fish"
there is much variation between the pronunciation of these diphthongs in Thsäv dialects.
/tʰɑʉd/ [tʰɑud] [tʰɑɥd] [tˠʰʉd] [tʰʊːt] [tʰoːt]
Thsäv has five cases which it uses to indicate a word's function in a sentence.
- the nominative case expresses the subject of a sentence
- the accusative case expresses the direct object of a sentence
- the dative-genitive case expresses the indirect object and possession
- the lative case expresses motion and change
- the locative case expresses locations in space and time
nom acc d-g lat loc
1sg siph meph thsip dihp phip
2sg pakh amk phak okh phak
3sg phä amph thä oph paph
1pl syt ast thsyt dyht phyt
2pl pāt ant tāt oth phāt
3pl phew ampho thew pho pho
the genitive pronouns follow the modified noun when used as possessive pronouns.
nouns have five cases. the nominative is unmarked. the other four have prefixes.
acc y- before stops, m- before vowels and approximants
lat o- (before consonant), w- (before vowel)
many nouns begin with a voiced stop or with <v z>. these nouns undergo phonetic mutation when prefixed with one of the case prefixes. the same type of mutations occur when a bare noun exists in the middle of a sentence. here nouns are given declined in each of the five cases with some dialectal pronunciations.
ygyd /uʉd/ [wʉd] [uɥd]
thagyd /tʰɑʉd/ [tʰˠʉd] [tʰɑɥd]
ogyd /oʉd/ [wʉd] [oɥd]
thabä /tʰɶ̯aː/ [tʰʷaː]
pabä /pɶ̯aː/ [pʷaː]
ygit /uɪʔ/ [wɪʔ]
thagit /tʰɑɪʔ/ [tʰˠɪʔ] [tʰɑjʔ]
ogit /oɪʔ/ [wɪʔ]
pagit /pɑɪʔ/ [pˠɪʔ]
thabäh /tʰɶ̯a̤ː/ [tʰʷa̤ː]
ohm away from (idiomatic)
be out of, from (idiomatic)
ohm off of, away, from
pak after, behind
gahd before, ahead
ag, ga on
am, ma over
one hor [hɒɾ]
two pam [pɐm]
three deht [dɛ̤ʔ]
four näm [naːm]
five zet [zɛʔ]
six prit [pɾɪʔ]
seven mjät [mʲaːʔ]
eight mūd [muːd]
nine thwek [tʰwɛk]
ten pyb [pʉb] 1
hundred pūv [puːβ] 2
thousand pāh [pɒ̤ː] 3
million āhgat (āht) [ɒ̤ːɐ̯ʔ] 6 many-ORD; "large number"
billion pāhgat (pāht) [pɒ̤ːɐ̯ʔ] 9 thousand million
trillion papāht [pɐ.pɒ̤ːʔ] 12 thousand billion
quadr. āhtat [ɒ̤ː.tɐʔ] 15 million billion
quint. pāhtat [pɒ̤ː.tɐʔ] 18 thousand quadrillion
sext. tāhtat [tɒ̤ː.tɐʔ] 21 billion trillion
sept. āhphat [ɒ̤ː.pʰɐʔ] 24 million quintillion
oct. papāhtat [pɐ.pɒ̤ː.tɐʔ] 27 trillion quadrillion
non. paphāt [pɐ.pʰɒːʔ] 30 trillion quintillion
dec. tapāht [tɐ.pɒ̤ːʔ] 33 quadrillion quintillion
cent. āhpaht [ɒ̤ː.pɐ̤ʔ] 36 many decillion
four billion; eight hundred fifteen million; one hundred sixty-two thousand; three hundred forty-two
nämpāhgat mūdpūvpybzetāhgat pūvpritpybpampāh dehtpūvnämpybpam
ordinals are expressed with the -gat suffix, with the sole exception of gāh "first."
fractions are expressed by giving the denominator in the genitive case. one half is brigt [ɾʷʊːʔ]
* chain of two rules: aspiration (/t/ + /h/ -> [tʰ]), deaspiration is unstressed position after aspirated stop ([tʰ] -> [t])
In Thsäv, as in the related Memeyk languages, phrases are the building blocks of sentences. Phrases have two types of word order. Independent phrases have free word order, tending towards VOS:
[ɥaːʔ tsʰɪp bɛ.kʉɾ.to piː.βɒ̤ːd]
Ybjäth thsip bekyrto Pīvāhd?
ACC-book my read.3-PAST Pivahd?
Did Pivahd read my book?
In subordinate phrases, the verb is required to be at the end; the word order overall tends toward SOV. In this order, the verb and head of the phrase are adjacent to the modified word.
[uɪʔ tsʰɪp kɛɾ.mo kɐ.kɒː kᶣaː]
[Ygit thsip kermo] kakā ky ä!
[ACC-alcohol my steal.3-PAST] cloud is that
That's the cloud [that stole my alcohol!]
a subordinate phrase can also function as a noun:
[mɒɾ pɐˈɾoˌpʰʏ̯ɑː tʰɐ.pɐm mɒɾ pɐ̯aːp pʰuː ɥuː sɛɾʔ]
Mor parophib ag thapam mor pazäp phūg yyg sert.
in LOC-bush as GEN-two in LOC-hand bird ACC-same say.3
they say that a bird in the hand is worth [the same as] two in the bush
[ɒ̤ː ɥaː.tʰo ɛ.kʉɾ.to ʉtʰ aːm ba̤ː]
Āhd ybjätho bekyrto yth äm bäh
be.3.IRR PAST many ACC-book-PL read.3-PAST boy
there was a boy that read a lot of books
[tʰaː ɐʔ pɐ.pʲɛʔ waːɾʔ kᶣɒːʔ]
thä dat papjet wärt ky āt
GEN-it under LOC-sun shine.3 was.3 color
it had a color that shone in the sun
[mɐʔ o.wɪn.to tʰɐʔ pɐ.nᶣɒː ɛʉ̤.tʰo pɾɐ.tʰo]
mat owinto that pany̆ād ezyhtho pratho
to LAT-house that LOC-night drink.1-PAST walk.1-PAST
I walked home drunk that night
Thsäv adjectives are derived from verbs. instead of conveying an action of some sort, as regular verbs do, they are verbs that are stative. when used as a predicate, they behave exactly like verbs:
[mɐɾ wɪn.to tʰaː]
mard winto thä
red.3 house 3SG.GEN
his/her house is red
when used attributively, adjectives appear before the modified noun, comprising a one-word subordinate phrase. attributive adjectives do not take verb endings:
[mɐː wɪn.to tsʰɪp kʉ taː]
mad winto thsip ky thä
red house my is this
this is my red house
when used attributively, adjectives are negated with the adverb met "not":
[paː.ɾɐ ɥɒ̤ː mɛʔ nɶː pʰaː / naː.ɾʷɐ ʉ ɐ̤ʔ ɾˠo wɒːw mʲaːk naːb]
Pädra dy āhg met näb phä, näbra dy hat gro ogādo mjäk näb
lie-3.IRR POT forever not dead it, die-3.IRR POT strange through LAT-time also death
that which is not dead may eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.
adverbs in Thsäv don't take any endings. they simply appear next to the verb they modify. they may come before or after the verb in an independent phrase, though in a subordinate phrase they are locked at the end of the phrase.
[ɾˠo.kɛ.ɾo pʰjˠɒː sʲɛo̤ mɐ tʰɑ̯ʉː ɾˠɛ.tʰɪp]
Grokero phjğād sjeoh ma thagyd grethip
out-go-3-PAST today again for GEN.fish husband
my husband went out to fish again today
verbs are used to convey action. Thsäv has free word order, but the verb tends toward the beginning of the sentence in an independent phrase, though is locked at the end of a subordinate phrase.
the realis form is used for the present tense. by itself, the irrealis form is used for the negative.
Ky pä wäkh
be.3 here wolf.PL
the wolves are here
Äm pä wäkh
be.3.IRR here wolf.PL
the wolves are not here
when the adverb äg "later" is used with an irrealis form of "to be," it expresses the future tense. the adverb yth "before" used with the realis form expresses the past tense. to make the irrealis copula negative, add the adverb "met".
regular verbs have two conjugations, to which are added affixes to further specify meaning. the two conjugations are realis, which has to do with states that have or are existing; and irrealis, which deals with states that do not exist. the realis endings vary widely depending on the end of the verb; the irrealis endings are regular.
1p -h, -s, -ā -ma
2p * -mi
3p -r, -r-, -y -ra
past tense realis -o after consonant (pronounced -w before another vowel), -w after vowel
negative irrealis -t
future irrealis -
subjunctive irrealis -s
optative irrealis y-
imperative realis y-
- the negative and past tense conjugations may be combined by adding -to (-tw before a vowel) to the irrealis verb
- the negative conjugation cannot coexist with conjugations besides the past tense. if another conjugation is used, the adverb "met" can be added to the verb.
the irrealis endings for a verb are regular; they do not change depending on the final sound of the verb.
the future tense is formed with a verb with an irrealis ending.
Pany̆ād mat owinto nāgma
LOC-night to LAT-house come-1.IRR
I will come home tonight
this verb form is not limited to expressing the future tense, however. it carries a broader connotation of any event which has not occurred or is untrue; the various irrealis endings exist to further refine the function of the verb. here an irrealis verb is used to express the consequence of a hypothetical action:
[tʰaː wʉ.tuːk dʉm.ɾɐ wʉː ɒ̤ːm]
Thä ogytūk dymra ygyd hām
DAT.3SG LAT-smart make-3.IRR ACC-fish eat
eating fish makes you smart
realis ending details
the endings for realis verbs are more complicated. the ending used is decided by the type of sound ending the stem. the endings used are detailed below:
stem ending change to
<k p t> <kh ph th>
<kh ph th> <khs phs ths>
vowel + <g b d> vowel + <g b d> + ā (see voiced stop elision section above)
other consonant ending + <ā>
vowel vowel + <s>
<k t> <s>
<g d> <z>
vowel vowel + <j>
other consonant + <j> (palatalization)
single <r> + consonant, deleting <r> in syllable onset
cluster cluster + <y>
vowel vowel + <r>
brod "low, poor"
broda "I am poor," broz "you are poor," vord "he/she is poor," brōma "I will be poor"
[ɾʷoɐ], [ɾʷoz], [βoɾ], [ɾʷoː.mɐ]
nhed "to swing"
nhedā "I swing," nhez "you swing," nherd "he/she/it swings," nhedmi "you will swing"
[n̥ɛ̯ɒː], [n̥ɛz], [n̥ɛɾ], [n̥ɛː.mɪ]
pot "to scoop"
poth "I scoop," pos "you scoop," port "he/she/it scoops," potra "it will scoop"
[potʰ], [pos], [poɾʔ], [pot.ɾɐ]
prat "to walk"
prath "I walk," pras "you walk", part "he/she/it walks," pratho "I walked"
[pɾɐtʰ], [pɾɐs], [pɐɾʔ], [pɾɐtʰ.o]
sjem "to cover"
sjemā "I cover," sjem "you cover," sjerm "he/she/it covers," sjemo "you covered"
[sʲɛm.ɒː], [sʲɛm], [sʲɛɾm], [sʲɛm.o]
y̆ip "to imitate"
y̆iph "I imitate," y̆ip "you imitate," y̆irp "he/she/it imitates," y̆irpo "it imitated"
[ɥɪpʰ], [ɥɪp], [ɥɪɾp], [ɥɪɾp.o]