Virtual Verduria

Axunašin /

Introduction The Ezičimi The Axunaic languages The empire Descendants
Phonology Consonants Vowels Stress Phonological constraints
Morphology Nominal Morphology Adjectival Morphology Adverbs Pronouns
Verbal Morphology The indicative The subjunctive The negative mood izem 'to be' Imperative Numbers
Derivational Morphology Nominalizations Adjectivizations Verbalizations
Syntax Sentence word order Noun phrases NP word order Cases: 'Nominative' and 'accusative' The hierarchy Later developments Annotated example Oblique cases Agreement Simple verbs Tense The intensive The subjunctive The negative Negative pronouns The imperative Prepositional phrases Conjunctions
Transformations 1. Subordination 2. Sentential objects with indicative 3. Sentential objects with subjunctive 4. Clause reversal 5. Causation and consequence 6. The conditional 7. Pronominalization 8. Subject deletion 9. Relativization 10. Clefting 11. Nominalization 12. The progressive 13. Causatives 14. Adverbialization 15. Adverbialization movement 16. Simile 17. Question formation with particles 18. Question clefting 19. Question formation with pronouns 20. Interrogative movement 21. Topicalization 22. Conjoint reduction 23. Adjective complements
Examples The hundred flowers of Axunai The ways of Benkeriz The cheating Skourene
The syllabary

Introduction [To Index]

Axunašin is the language of Axunai, the great ancient empire of southern Ereláe, and ancestor of Xurnese (and its many dialects) and Ṭeôši.

As an Eastern language, related to Caďinor and Cuêzi, its overall structure will be familiar to students of Almea, and it isn't as un-Englishlike as Kebreni or Elkarîl. However, it does many things in a very different way from English, and uses its morphological forms differently. One should never translate mechanically into or from Axunašin; the choice of forms follows a different logic and requires careful thought.

The Ezičimi [To Index]

The language derives from proto-Eastern, the language of the Eastern peoples who, starting about -350 Z.E., exploded from their homeland in Bolon northward into the Svetla-Eärdur Plain, where they developed into the Cuzeians and Caďinorians, and southward into the Xengi plain.

These latter invaders, who called themselves simply the Ezičimi, the Powerful, conquered an older and more sophisticated civilization, the Wede:i. They were wise enough to leave its technology and cultural institutions alone, merely assuming the top rank in the social structure.

In the early years a Wede:i-based pidgin seems to have developed to allow the conquerors to make themselves understood. Some of its words managed to replace their equivalents in Axunašin, such as gume 'man' and zim 'woman'. (The lack of gender in Wede:i may have contributed to the perceived lack of connection between sex and grammatical gender in Axunašin, as evidenced by these two words, which in proto-Eastern terms were assigned the 'wrong' gender.) Such Wede:i loan-words as yati 'give orders', tagi 'stop', kalik 'be pleasing', ruti 'manage' would obviously have been useful in this early social situation.

Sometimes there was not replacement but a semantic split:

The Ezičimi also borrowed words for concepts that were new to them: from ituri and šebari 'read, write' and sim 'character'; to runi 'govern', lejegu 'official', rimi 'weave', louji 'money' and ninmali 'trade', down to lowly words like gokime 'canister' and šoban 'oatmeal'. There were also new natural wonders, such as gourtu 'sea', douga 'whale', wete 'birch', or losu 'moose'.

Wede:i has also influenced Axunašin phonology and grammar, down to the inheritence of inflections and syntactic patterns (it also was typically SOV, with adjectives and clauses preceding their head nouns); and, as we will see, its syllabographic writing system was adopted for the writing of Axunašin.

Other languages influenced Axunašin as well, including Jeori, Old Skourene, Tžuro, and Mei.

The Axunaic languages [To Index]

I have spoken of 'Axunašin' for convenience, but in fact the Eastern dialect spoken by the Ezičimi developed into a half dozen Axunaic languages:
Language Spoken in
Axunašin the Xengi delta (Axuna proper)
Mounšun the middle Xengi (the kingdoms of Šinji and Tannaza)
Yeworšin the upper Xengi (the kingdom of Yewor)
Tannelišin Tanel and Gotanel, east of Axuna
Ranšin the Ran valley (the kingdom of Ran)
Bosanšur the Bolonari valley (the kingdom of Jenevi)

We have scant but intriguing records from several of these, especially the more urbanized kingdoms along the Xengi and on the ocean—though our knowledge is maddeningly limited by the syllabographic writing system, which hides regional variations and sound changes. Still, we know enough to compare a few words across the major dialects:

Eastern Axunašin Mounšun Yeworšin Tannelišin
'one' *ānu ame amu amə ano
'two' *duna vume vume dumə vum
'three' *dīm dime jime diə vim
'tree' *arebs eriz eriz eres eriv
'bull' *bōns bouz boiz bois bouz
'eat' *kregem kejim kueji kuiji kejin
'master' *maks mex mex mes mîk
'foot' *naga neje neje nejə neja
'snow' *nīkte nixi nixi niki niski
'we' *tāsu taz taz tas tais
'holy' *ghrem jeim juem juim jem

The empire [To Index]

The language described in this document is that of Axuna during the golden age of the empire, Z.E. 890-1300. Axunašin is the native name, from Axuna-šun 'Axuna langauge'; the modern Xurnese is Asunaši; the Verdurians call it bome ahuenaš.

During this time Axunašin largely replaced its sister languages, except in the Yewor and Tanneli. Thus Yeworšin and Tannelišin persisted until the rise of Xurno. All the modern Axunaic languages are descendants of Axunašin, but Evangri (the dialect spoken around Lake Van and the upper Xengi) is heavily influenced by Yeworšin, and Jimbri (spoken in Tanel and Gotanel) is heavily influenced by Tannelišin. For instance, the word for 'two' in Evangri is still resolutely duma rather than standard buma.

The speakers of Axunašin are the Axunemi. This term should not be extrapolated into earlier times; before the rise of Axunai the speakers of the Axunaic languages should be referred to as the Ezičimi.

Descendants [To Index]

The tightest-knit region of Axunai (as well as modern Xurno) is the lower and middle Xengi; Mounšun, spoken in the middle Xengi, gave way quickly before Axunašin. Modern Xurnese is derived from the dialect of Curau, but this derives from the Axunašin imported into this area, not from Mounšun—though there are traces of the latter.

Similarly, Ṭeôši derives from Axunašin spoken by the Axunemi who conquered Čeiy starting in 990.

The descendant languages will be discussed on a separate page.

Phonology [To Index]

The sound system of Axunašin was as follows:
consonants vowels
 labial   dental   palatal   velar   front   back  
stops p t k  
b d g i u
affricates č x ei ou
fricatives s š e o
v z j    a
nasals m n
laterals l r
semivowels w y

Consonants [To Index]

t and d are dental, rather than alveolar, as in English. g is always hard, as in get.

The stops b d g are fully voiced, as in French. (In English they're only fully voiced intervocalically; the "voiced/unvoiced" distinction is based largely on aspiration, not voice.)

The l is clear initially and before vowels, dark before consonants and finally, as in English. The r is an approximant, not flapped or trilled, but much more fronted than the standard Midwestern r.

There is some controversy over the pronunciation of č x j.

Some scholars have argued that all three were affricates or clusters /tʃ ks dʒ/ or fricatives /ç x ʝ/.

Vowels [To Index]

Among the vowels, e and o are open /ɛ/, /ɔ/; ei and ou were most likely closed /e/ and /o/, but may also have been diphthongs /ɛj/, /ɔw/, rather as in English late, low. (They are transliterated as digraphs both because historically they often derive from diphthongs, and because the Axunašin syllabary represented them with glyphs that the Wede:i had used for diphthongs (ai and au respectively). It may also be relevant that Old Skourene Skouras, with diphthongal ou, was borrowed as Kouraz.)

With the exception of ei and ou, vowels in vowel combinations should be given their full value: the ending of Axunai is bisyllabic [a i], not the diphthong [aj].

The combination e + i /ɛi/ is transliterated . As in words like naïve, the diaresis is a reminder to pronounce the second vowel separately. Compare nivei /nive/ 'kings', niveï /nivɛi/ 'emperor'. (ei + i /ei/ as in reii 'flow' is another possibility; there's no worry that it might conflict with e + i + i since this would become eyi.)

Stress [To Index]

The Axunašin accent is normally on the second-to-last syllable, and is indicated if it falls elsewhere: dúsodeiz; but peivideiz = peivídeiz. The same word serves as a reminder that ei and ou count as one syllable, not two.

A few examples:

beivi /'be vi/ Axunai /a ksu 'na i/ čejim /'tʃɛ ʝim/
silede /si 'lɛ dɛ/ japou /'ʝa po/ gelmi /'gɛl mi/
emouriš /ɛ 'mo riʃ/ kerez /'kɛ rɛz/ ečiei /ɛ 'tʃi e/

Phonological constraints [To Index]

Axunašin simplified most of the consonant clusters allowed in proto-Eastern, with the result that all syllables have a simple CV or CVC structure. Borrowings are forced to conform: e.g. Old Skourene nşega, smapali → enšega, simapali.

No initial consonant clusters are allowed in syllables at all, except those that have been phonemicized (č, x). Vowels are almost always simple (remember that ei and ou are monophthongs); the few exceptions are mostly due to the addition of inflections.

Medially, syllables can end only in r, l, n, m. More latitude is permitted finally, with the addition of s, z, š, č, j, x, k. (Final -d and -w appear rarely, but are not recognized by the writing system—e.g. giw 'boy-ACC' is simply written with the character for gi 'boy-NOM'.)

Morphology [To Index]

Nominal Morphology [To Index]

Axunašin nouns are inflected by case, number, and gender.

There are four cases, which for convenience I will refer to using the names of the proto-Eastern cases they derive from (nominative, accusative, genitive, locative). As we will see in the usage section, however, their roles diverged significantly from the other Eastern languages.

The three genders are called in Axunašin tibel 'horse,' goro 'temple,' and čenke 'sword'. They derive from the proto-Eastern masculine, neuter, and feminine, respectively; but unlike the Cuzeians and Caďinorians, the Axunemi never linked them to sex—though they did come up with elaborate metaphysical justifications for them.

Curiously, in Axunemi thought, there were three sexes (masculine, feminine, and ewimo 'middle'), but these were never connected to the genders. Words inherited from proto-Eastern generally have the gender we'd expect (e.g. m. ewu 'grandfather', f. ewume 'grandmother'), but borrowed or innovated words don't—e.g. m. zim 'woman', from Wede:i.

The basic declensional pattern is as follows:

s nom šuz emou douga eč-e men-u
s acc šum emou douga eč-e men-u
s gen šum-iš emou-riš douga-riš eč-eš men-eš
loc šum-o emou-ro douga-ro eč-eo men-o
pl nom šum-i emou-i douga-i eč-ei men-ui
pl acc šum-i emou-i douga-i eč-ei men-ui
pl gen šum-iei emou-rei douga-rei eč-iei men-iei
s nom xur-u wel-i nive-ï yal-ou duxud-o
s acc xur-um wel-im nive-ïm yal-um duxud-om
s gen xur-uš wel-iš nive-ïs yal-uš duxud-uš
loc xur-o wel-o nive-o yal-o duxud-o
pl nom xur-ui wel-ui nive-wi yal-ui duxud-ui
pl acc xur-uim wel-uim nive-wim yal-uim duxud-uim
pl gen xur-iei wel-iei nive-yei yal-iei duxud-iei
s nom jir-e nud-i šug-ei
s acc jir-a nud-ie šug-ie
s gen jir-ei nud-iei šug-iei
loc jir-u nud-u šug-u
pl nom jir-ei nud-ei šug-ei
pl acc jir-eim nud-iem šug-eim
pl gen jir-iei nud-iei šug-iei

Some levelling has occurred in the descent from proto-Eastern:

Words in -a are mostly borrowings from Wede:i, and have joined the emou class.

If plural -ui(m) follows a vowel, it becomes -wi: kurtudai → kurtudawi; niveï → nivewi. Similarly the genitive -iei becomes -yei after a vowel: niveï → niveyei.

It is not always possible to determine the paradigm from the citation form of the noun, the singular nominative case; dictionaries generally specify also the sg. gen. This is particularly important in the case of masculine nouns of the šuz type; the oblique root is not predictable from the sg. nom. form.

(The is predictable, in almost all cases, from the oblique root: if the oblique root ends in a voiced stop (b d g n m), the nom. will end in z; if it ends in (p f r l), the nom. ends in s; if it ends in any other letter, the nom. will end in a vowel. It will come as no surprise that the proto-Eastern form was regular and ended in -s: e.g. nom. *xuns, gen. *xunex, which become Axunašin šuz, šumiš.)

If the oblique root of a šuz-class noun ends in -v, the s.acc. ends in -s.

Adjectival Morphology [To Index]

There are two adjectival declensions, called in Axunašin grammar the wel 'old' and revi 'new' classes. The names are not literally accurate (both classes go back to proto-Eastern); they simply exemplify the two classes.

The citation form for adjectives is the masculine singular nominative.

Adjectives must agree in case and gender with their head nouns.
wel class revi class
m n f m n f
s nom     wel wel-ou wel-e   rev-i rev-i rev-i
s acc wel wel-um wel-a rev-i rev-im rev-ie
s gen wel-iš wel-uš wel-ei rev-eš rev-iš rev-iei
loc wel-o wel-o wel-u rev-io rev-o rev-u
pl nom wel-i wel-ui wel-ei rev-ei rev-ui rev-ei
pl acc wel-i wel-uim wel-eim rev-ei rev-uim rev-iem
pl gen wel-iei   wel-iei   wel-iei   rev-iei   rev-iei   rev-iei  
adverb wel-oyo rev-iwa

Some hints:

Some wel class adjectives end in a vowel in the citation form—e.g. e.g. meivu 'rich'. A final -r has been lost in the masculine s. nom. and acc. only, and reappears in the remainder of the declension (s. gen. meivuriš, n. nom. meivurou, f. loc. meivuru, etc.).
Adverbs are regularly formed from adjectives with the suffixes -oyo (wel class) or -iwa (revi class). Thus: meivuroyo 'richly', šudiwa 'fully'. If the adjective ends with -un, this suffix is removed before adding the adverbial suffix: demuroyo 'for a long time'.

These suffixes never receive stress: meivúroyo, šúdiwa. Since this rule is regular, it is not indicated in grammatical examples or in the Lexicon.

Pronouns [To Index]

Personal pronouns
Axunašin has a rather standard six-member pronominal system (plus an interrogative pronoun). Its only unusual feature is the use of a single pronoun, to, used for all three genders (and the three sexes recognized by Axunemi culture) and of course inanimate things as well.
I thou he/she we you they who
nom siu ri to taz moš keï jei
gen ir rir toiš tiei miei kiei jeiš
acc id ej toe teim muim keim jem
dat simu rimu tomu tamu mumu keimu jeimu

The Eastern genitives have been remodelled by analogy with the nouns, or in the case of I/thou, replaced with forms derived from the possessive adjectives.

Since verbs show person and number, personal subject pronouns are used only for emphasis (or, as we'll see below, to clarify syntax): Reiloi 'I see' → Siu reiloi 'I see', 'Me, I see it.' In the past and future the 1s and 2s forms are identical, so the pronouns can be used for disambiguation; but even this is avoided if the context makes it clear.

Third person object pronouns can be omitted if the meaning is clear: Nive reilei 'the King saw it'.

Other anaphora
Demonstratives Relative pronouns
ti this/these tidemu then
tu that/these tinari there
tič this one eidemu now
tuč that one einari here
Interrogative pronouns    esidemu everywhere
esinari always
ji which
jidemu when wenke somebody
jinari where
touno why dowogu nobody
dowoyo never, nowhere
muxinemu often
muxinari in many places

Other indefinite anaphora were constructed from analytic expressions; e.g. ame naru 'in one place, somewhere'; ti demuro tu mata 'at this time or that, anytime'; ji ende 'which way, how'. Useful quantifiers for this are:

dowo none
ame one, some
pu(r) a few, some
muxi many
esi every

Verbal Morphology [To Index]

Axunašin has a highly inflected verb, incorporating in each lexical form the following information: In addition, paradigms vary by verb conjugation. There are three conjugations in Axunašin, which we may refer to by the termination of their infinitive (-ik, -im/em, -i), although Xurnese grammarians, following their usual practice, have given them names based on typical (and symbolic) members of each class: ruwik 'desire', nem 'be born', kapi 'revere'.
The indicative
Present Present intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-eu riš-oi bex-eu   el-ij-eu riš-ej-oi bex-ij-eu
2s el-iu riš-iw bex-iu el-ij-iu riš-ej-iw bex-ij-iu
3s el-e riš-i bex-i el-ij-e riš-ej-i bex-ij-i
1p el-oumu riš-omu bex-umu el-ij-oumu riš-ej-omu bex-ij-umu
2p el-ouzi riš-ozi bex-uzi el-ij-ouzi riš-ej-ozi bex-ij-uzi
3p el-utu riš-itu bex-utu el-ij-utu riš-ej-itu bex-ij-utu
Past Past intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-i riš-iu bex-ie el-ij-i riš-ej-iu bex-ij-ie
2s el-i riš-iu bex-ie el-ij-i riš-ej-iu bex-ij-ie
3s el-u riš-ei bex-ei el-ij-u riš-ej-ei bex-ij-ei
1p el-umu riš-oumu bex-eimu el-ij-umu riš-ej-oumu bex-ij-eimu
2p el-uzi riš-ouzi bex-eizi el-ij-uzi riš-ej-ouzi bex-ij-eizi
3p el-itu riš-iutu bex-ietu el-ij-itu riš-ej-iutu bex-ij-ietu
Future Future intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-iv-i riš-ev-iu bex-iv-ie el-inj-i riš-enj-iu bex-inj-ie
2s el-iv-i riš-ev-iu bex-iv-ie el-inj-i riš-enj-iu bex-inj-ie
3s el-iv-u riš-ev-ei bex-iv-ei el-inj-u riš-enj-ei bex-inj-ei
1p el-iv-umu riš-ev-oumu bex-iv-eimu el-inj-umu riš-enj-oumu bex-inj-eimu
2p el-iv-uzi riš-ev-ouzi bex-iv-eizi el-inj-uzi riš-enj-ouzi bex-inj-eizi
3p el-iv-itu riš-ev-iutu bex-iv-ietu el-inj-itu riš-enj-iutu bex-inj-ietu

There are two sets of personal endings, for present and past. Though they may at first seem arbitary, there are patterns:

The present and past intensive is formed by infixing -ij- (or -ej- for -m verbs) before the present and past endings.

The future is formed by infixing -iv- (or -ev- for -m verbs) before the past endings; the future intensive by infixing -inj- (or -enj- for -m verbs).

If the verb root ends in a vowel, endings that begin with -iV- become -yV. E.g. the past of kuim 'fight' has 1s/2s kuyu, 3p kuyutu.

The subjunctive
Present Present intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-id-eu riš-im-oi bex-im-eu el-ug-eu riš-og-oi bex-ug-eu
2s el-id-iu riš-im-iw bex-im-iu el-ug-iu riš-og-iw bex-ug-iu
3s el-id-e riš-im-i bex-im-i el-ug-e riš-og-i bex-ug-i
1p el-id-oumu riš-im-omu bex-im-umu el-ug-oumu riš-og-omu bex-ug-umu
2p el-id-ouzi riš-im-ozi bex-im-uzi el-ug-ouzi riš-og-ozi bex-ug-uzi
3p el-id-utu riš-im-itu bex-im-utu el-ug-utu riš-og-itu bex-ug-utu
Past Past intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-id-i riš-im-iu bex-im-ie el-ug-i riš-og-iu bex-ug-ie
2s el-id-i riš-im-iu bex-im-ie el-ug-i riš-og-iu bex-ug-ie
3s el-id-u riš-im-ei bex-im-ei el-ug-u riš-og-ei bex-ug-ei
1p el-id-umu riš-im-oumu bex-im-eimu el-ug-umu riš-og-oumu bex-ug-eimu
2p el-id-uzi riš-im-ouzi bex-im-eizi el-ug-uzi riš-og-ouzi bex-ug-eizi
3p el-id-itu riš-im-iutu bex-im-ietu el-ug-itu riš-og-iutu bex-ug-ietu
Future Future intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-an-i riš-en-iu bex-an-ie el-ung-i riš-ong-iu bex-ung-ie
2s el-an-i riš-en-iu bex-an-ie el-ung-i riš-ong-iu bex-ung-ie
3s el-an-u riš-en-ei bex-an-ei el-ung-u riš-ong-ei bex-ung-ei
1p el-an-umu riš-en-oumu bex-an-eimu el-ung-umu riš-ong-oumu bex-ung-eimu
2p el-an-uzi riš-en-ouzi bex-an-eizi el-ung-uzi riš-ong-ouzi bex-ung-eizi
3p el-an-itu riš-en-iutu bex-an-ietu el-ung-itu riš-ong-iutu bex-ung-ietu
The present and past subjunctive are formed by infixing -im- (or -id- for -ik verbs) before the normal past and present endings.

The subjunctive intensive is formed by infixing -ug- (or -og- for the -m verbs) before the past and present endings.

The future subjunctive is formed by infixing -an- (or -en- for the -m verbs) before the past endings; for the intensive the suffixes are -ung-/-ong- (as with the indicative, these are the normal intensive suffix with an infixed -n-).

The negative mood
Present Present intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-ač-i riš-ač-iu bex-ač-ie el-anč-i riš-anč-iu bex-anč-ie
2s el-ač-i riš-ač-iu bex-ač-ie el-anč-i riš-anč-iu bex-anč-ie
3s el-ač-u riš-ač-ei bex-ač-ei el-anč-u riš-anč-ei bex-anč-ei
1p el-ač-umu riš-ač-oumu bex-ač-eimu el-anč-umu riš-anč-oumu bex-anč-eimu
2p el-ač-uzi riš-ač-ouzi bex-ač-eizi el-anč-uzi riš-anč-ouzi bex-anč-eizi
3p el-ač-itu riš-ač-iutu bex-ač-ietu el-anč-itu riš-anč-iutu bex-anč-ietu
Past Past intensive
-ik -m -i -ik -m -i
1s el-ouč-i riš-uč-iu bex-ouč-ie el-ounč-i riš-unč-iu bex-ounč-ie
2s el-ouč-i riš-uč-iu bex-ouč-ie el-ounč-i riš-unč-iu bex-ounč-ie
3s el-ouč-u riš-uč-ei bex-ouč-ei el-ounč-u riš-unč-ei bex-ounč-ei
1p el-ouč-umu riš-uč-oumu bex-ouč-eimu el-ounč-umu riš-unč-oumu bex-ounč-eimu
2p el-ouč-uzi riš-uč-ouzi bex-ouč-eizi el-ounč-uzi riš-unč-ouzi bex-ounč-eizi
3p el-ouč-itu riš-uč-iutu bex-ouč-ietu el-ounč-itu riš-unč-iutu bex-ounč-ietu
The negative mood uses only the past endings. The infixes are -- for the present and -ouč- (or -- for -m verbs) for the past.

The intensive infix adds an -n- before the final consonant: present -anč-, past -ounč-/-unč-.

There are no future negative forms; use the present instead.

izem 'to be'
indicative subjunctive negative
present past present past present past
1s zoi ziu šu-oi šu-yu šač-iu šouč-iu
2s zewi ziu šu-iw šu-yu šač-iu šouč-iu
3s zi zei šu-i šu-ei šač-ei šouč-ei
1p izomu ezoumu šu-omu šu-oumu šač-oumu šouč-oumu
2p izozi ezouzi šu-ozi šu-ouzi šač-ouzi šouč-ouzi
3p izutu eziutu šu-itu šu-yutu šač-iutu šouč-iutu

The verb izem is partly irregular.

For many verbs there is an abbreviated imperative, formed by removing the final consonant(s) of the root:
xamim 'come' --> xa!
ravem 'go' ra!
pidi 'drink' pi!
čejim 'bring' če!
nui 'comfort' nu!
še 'do' še!
Unusual roots
There are a few verbs with one-character roots. They are however quite regular, as witness the perfect indicative present forms:
dem 'give' doi diw di domu dozi ditu
mek 'have' meu miu me moumu mouzi mutu
nem 'be born'     noi niw ni nomu nozi nitu
še 'do' šeu šiu ši šumu šuzi šutu

Numbers [To Index]

The numbers are:
cardinal ordinal x10 symbol
1 ame eimi
2 vume poudi poudex
3 dime dimi dindex
4 baju tidin tidex
5 penk penkuri pendex
6 seče sečuri sedex
7 šeis šeisuri šeidex
8 yugi yuguri yudex
9 nebi neburi nedex
10 dex dexuri
100 sigadu sigaduri
1000 ezer ezerudi

The numbers are not declined; they simply precede their noun, which (except for 'one' of course) is expressed in the plural: ame runei 'one city', vume werdui 'two birds', seče doumi 'six houses'.

The ordinals are regular adjectives: dimi gume 'the third man'; eimo goro 'the first temple', dexurio deimo 'on the tenth day'.

Numbers from 11 to 19 are formed with the suffix -mudex ('with ten'): amudex, vumudex, ... nebimudex.

Other two-digit numbers are formed with the name of the tens digit (simplified to end in k), plus mu, plus the name of the ones digit: 21 poudekmuame, 43 tidekmudime, 78 šeidekmuyugi, 95 nedekmupenk.

Names of hundreds are formed much like the names of tens: 200 pousigadu, 300 dinsigadu, etc. To name three-digit numbers, two words are used: 537 pensigadu dindekmušeis.

Finally, ezer '1000' always remains a separate word. Thousands are counted, then ones: 278,684 would be pousigadu šeidekmuyugi ezer sedeksigadu yudekmubaju.

Ordinals past 4 end with the adjectizier -uri; the suffix -un is used as a distributive: bajun 'fourfold', dexun 'tenfold', etc.

Derivational Morphology [To Index]

1. Simple actions nominalize with -ou (n.):
jibei 'walk' → jibeou 'a walk'
ruwik 'desire' → ruwou 'desire'

2. A state, process, or action has the nominalization -udo (n.):

kouli 'gather' → kouludo 'harvest'
izem 'be' → izudo 'existence'

3. Adjectives commonly nominalize with -is (m.; stem -ir-):

rori 'beautiful' → roris 'beauty'
suli 'young' → sulis 'youth'

4. The result of a process is formed with -(m.; stem --):

pidi 'sing' → pideč 'song'
sunem 'dream' → suneč 'dream'
šebari 'write' → šebareč 'scroll'

One instance of a repetitive process is named by -us (m.; stem -uv-):

šarem 'empty' → šarus 'an emptying'
gopim 'beat' → gopus 'a beat'
xalim 'breathe' → xalus 'a breath'

The same suffix can be used to name an object with a particular quality:

dam 'flat' → damus 'board'
yuvu 'tasty' → yuvurus 'delicacy'

5. One who does: -irti (n.):

tuči 'dance' → tučirti 'dancer'
wixem 'look for' → wixirti 'seeker'

Master: -mex (m.):

weime 'ship' → weimeimex 'captain'
sebareč 'book' → šebarešimex 'chief scribe'

6. Study, thought (like -ism, -ology): -xavou 'study' (n.):

BezouBezouxavou 'religion of Bezu'
nulsem 'cure' → nulsixavou 'medicine'

7. Follower (like -ist): -gume 'person' (m.):

BezouBezougume 'follower of Bezu'
nive 'king' → nivegume 'royalist'

8. Inhabitant, also used for certain occupations: -ez (m.; stem -em-):

Axunaaxunez 'inhabitant of Axuna'
Jeiworjeiworez 'Jeori'
Kouraz 'Skouras' → kourazez 'Skourene'

unkou 'herd' → unkez 'herdsman'
jadivati 'form pots' → jadivez 'potter'

or occasionally -evi (f.), which is also used for professions associated with a location:

Worčal 'Orčau' →
worčalevi jen 'woods' → jenevi 'woodsman'

For some countries there is an independent root giving the name of the inhabitant: e.g. Čurou 'Tžuro', Wedeï 'Wede:i', Sabi 'Sainor'.

9. A person with a quality: -to (n.):

mal 'bald' → malto 'bald man'
nulači 'sick' → nulačito 'patient'

10. Language: -šin (m.), a modification of šun 'language':

Axunai → Axunašin
Wedeï → Wedešin

11. A collection of things is named with -ax (borrowed from Wede:i):

berivu 'brother' → berivax 'brotherhood, league'
menurem 'wear' → menurax 'clothing'
šuč 'bone' → šučax 'skeleton'

12. Augmentative suffix -i (n.). This suffix always creates a separate syllable, not a diphthong.

nive 'king' → niveï 'emperor'
douz 'house' → douzi 'court'

13. The diminutive is formed by reduplicating the first syllable, usually accompanied by raising of a to e, e and ei to i, o and ou to u. It's used to convey affection or intimacy rather than size per se.

dič 'baby' → didi 'snookums'
savu 'sister' → sese 'Sis'
tibel 'horse' → titi 'horsie'

The infix -ik- serves as a lexical diminutive; it's used for things that are small or remote. It also names baby animals when there is not a separate word.

savu 'sister' → saviku 'female cousin
tibel 'horse' → tibelik 'pony'

14. Peoples and nations can be named using the Wede:i suffix (n)eli (n.):

Sabi 'Sainor' → Sabineli 'Sainel'
kazin 'Caďinorian' → Kazineli 'Caďinorian empire'

This would be viewed as somewhat literary; more colloquially, one would say roz Sabiš 'the land of the Sabi'.

1. Adjectivization -uri (adapted from Wede:i):
gume 'person' → gumuri 'human'
mivu 'mother' → mivuri 'maternal'
nive 'king' → nivuri 'royal'

The same suffix serves to create a present participle from a verb:

keixi 'grow' → keixuri 'growing'
sunem 'dream' → sunuri 'dreaming'
passive past participle can be formed with the suffix -uvi:
runje 'bend' → runjuvi 'bent'
kapi 'worship' → kapuvi 'worshipped'

3. An active past participle (also borrowed from Wede:i) can be formed with -okun:

anči 'wake' → ančokun 'awake'
sagi 'take hold of' → sagokun 'having taken', thus, 'possessing'

4. Personal qualities are often adjectivized with -meli '-hearted':

kuim 'argue' → kumeli 'argumentative'
jixi 'weak' → jiximeli 'weak in spirit'
ras 'justice' → ravimeli 'justice-loving'
mez 'son' → medimeli 'properly filial'

5. An adjective meaning 'with the quality of X' is formed by adding -un (also from Wede:i):

nuve 'cat' → nuvun 'like a cat'
zimik 'maiden' → zimikun 'maidenly'
ras 'justice' → rasun 'just'

Some very old words have -o(r) instead; this is a proto-Eastern suffix, on the model of evo 'blue'.

reiz 'line' → reizo 'long'
nixi 'snow' → nixo 'white'

6. -ist (adjective): -xei

MešaMešaxei 'relating to the worship of Meša'

7. Adjectival form of a toponym: -(a)ri:

Axunaaxunari 'relating to Axuna'
Jeiworjeiwori 'Jeori'
Kouraz 'Skouras' → kourazari 'Skourene'

8. The sense of a word can be weakened using the suffix -ik:

rujidi 'red' → rujidik 'reddish'
beivi 'short' → beivik 'not so short'

9. The suffix -ači forms a negative:

reilim 'see' → reilači 'invisible'
rasun 'just' → rasunači 'unjust'
1. A noun can be turned into a verb with -i; this is an old process no longer productive.
tuč 'dance' → tuči 'dance'
kome 'home' → komi 'live'

2. A noun is turned into the process which produces it by adding -vati:

reme 'milk' → remevati 'milk (an animal)'
jadi 'pot' → jadivati 'shape (a pot)'

The same suffix can be used to turn adjective X into a causative verb 'to make something X':

gelmi 'straight' → gelmivati 'straighten'
beivi 'short' → beivivati 'shorten'

3. Similarly, an action consisting of the use of an object is formed by adding -(u)šik:

rauni 'tongue' → raunišik 'verbally abuse'
sol 'salt' → solušik 'add salt to'

4. As with adjectives, the sense of a verb can be weakened with -ik-:

nemurem 'sleep' → nemurikem 'sleep fitfully'
rizi 'smile' → riziki 'smile slightly'

5. Similarly, reduplicating the first syllable of a verb heightens or intensifies its meaning (this is probably borrowed from Wede:i):

pidi 'drink' → pipidi 'get drunk'
kuim 'argue' → kuxuim 'dispute vociferously'
šagi 'lack' → šašagi 'need'

6. Forms with -dem (really compounds with 'give') indicate the bestowal of an object:

nuz 'name' → numidem 'give a name to'
kie 'body' → kiedem 'embody, create'

Syntax [To Index]

The bulk of this section will be a discussion of transformations—the formation of complex clauses out of simple ones, and the systematic variation of syntactic forms.

First, however, I'll cover simple sentences as a whole and their constituents—noun phrases, verbs, prepositional phrases, conjunctions.

Sentence word order [To Index]

The unmarked order is SOV (we'll discuss variations under Transformations below).
Ir mivu rama kejei.
my mother frog-ACC eat-3s-PAST
My mother ate a frog.

Adverbs normally precede the verb, though they can also appear at the beginning of the sentence.

Rama xidiwa jexei.
frog-ACC quickly kill-3s-PAST
She killed the frog quickly.

Minor constituents such as locatives and prepositional phrases (including dative expressions) generally appear after the subject.

Račazim daxo komi!
whore-ACC palace-LOC live-3s
The whore lives inside the palace!

Wenke ečeo tek rud pidi.
person summer-LOC without ice-ACC drink-3s
In the summer people drink without ice.

Nive omudečuviki en geivem ezer tibeli dei.
king puzzled-DIM to noble-ACC 1000 horses give-3s-PAST
The king gave the somewhat puzzled noble a thousand horses.

They can be moved after the verb, however, for an emphatic or contrastive effect.

Šuvičirti runu beludo wimixučei peliwa jeno.
seeker city-LOC enlightenment find-3s-NEG contrariwise forest-LOC
The seeker will not find enlightenment in the city, but in the forest.

Adjectives follow their modifying adverbs (palinma emourun 'very wise') or complements (kuimei naya šemelači 'unable to fight').

Noun phrases [To Index]

NP word order
Axunašin generally follows modifier/modified order, so the unmarked position of the noun is at the end of the noun phrase. The noun thus follows-- One may equally put adjectives, numbers, genitives, and quantifiers after the noun. This position can be said to emphasize the modifier: guetu emourunou 'a duck that's wise', guetui dime 'a duck threesome', guetu ir mediš 'the duck my son has', guetui muxui 'many ducks'.

The remaining clauses are less forgiving. Demonstratives and relative clauses must precede the noun. Prepositional phrases can follow the noun, but the effect is jarring, and English speakers will find it best to avoid it. Conjunctions offer an exception to these rules: the conjoints may be moved after the noun, or even outside the noun phrase entirely:

tek čenka mata juxum kuirti → tek čenka kuirti mata juxum
without sword-ACC or spear-ACC fighter → without sword fighter or spear
a fighter without sword or spear

Pejimeli zi li ras čeji naya gume tuč nive mabe.
faithful is and justice brings subord man that-one king loves →
Pejimeli zi naya gume tuč nive mabe li ras čeji.
faithful is subord man that-one king loves and justice brings
The king loves a man who is faithful and who executes justice

Lexicalized phrases often move a modifier to the end: mureč naniei 'the plane of the gods'. Where we tend to distinguish compounds from modifiers by intonation (the Whíte Hòuse vs. a whíte hóuse; a bláckbìrd vs. a bláck bírd), Axunašin uses word order:

Dax Nixo 'White Palace' vs. nixo dax 'white palace'
werdu xurenou 'blackbird' vs. xurenou werdu 'black bird'.

Titles, including kinship and geographical terms, follow the noun: Xuruwaruz niveï 'the emperor Xuruwaruz'; Jadijouz šel 'Uncle Butthead', Yedeveiz reina 'the Ideis river'.

Noun phrases can move around the sentence, as we'll see below, but they can't be broken up, as Caďinor and Cuêzi freely do.

Cases: 'Nominative' and 'accusative'
The role of the cases changes over time. The motor of the progression seems to have been the feeling that there was something shameful or unmanly about being in the accusative—being acted upon rather than acting. We see writers convoluting their syntax to keep gods and kings and nobles active: one says The king listened to the messenger rather than The messenger reported to the king; or The god considered my prayer rather than I prayed to the god.

(In this section, nominatives are shown in blue, accusatives in green.)

In the classical system, the cases marked relative dominance: the higher-status noun used the 'nominative', the lower-status the 'accusative'. As a simple example:

Nive geivem lousei li geivem xamei.
king-NOM noble-ACC summoned and noble-ACC came.
The king summoned the noble, and the noble came.

The first part of the sentence looks like a standard nominative-accusative language; but the second part doesn't fit in: geivez 'noble' is the subject, but is still in the accusative. In fact, in both clauses the accusative signals the lower rank of the noble vis-à-vis the king; compare another sentence with the same formal structure:

Geivez toiš jira lousei li jira xamei.
noble-NOM his wife-ACC summoned and wife-ACC came.
The noble summoned his wife, and the wife came.

There was still a preference to use high-status nouns as subjects, but this was not a rule:

Geivem nive jurume. Jira geivez ujačei.
noble-ACC king-NOM advises. wife-ACC noble-NOM not-hears
The noble advises the king. The wife ignores the noble.

The same status rule was used after prepositions:

Nive en geivem ujei li geivem en nive.
king-NOM to noble-ACC listened and noble-ACC to king-NOM.
The king listened to the noble, and the noble listened to the king.

In a narrative, a particular referent could switch cases whenever the scene changed: e.g. the noble warrants the accusative while he's in the king's presence, but reverts to the nominative when he leaves the palace.

The subordinate form primarily expresses a relative level in the hierarchy; accordingly, it's not needed when there's only one noun phrase—even if another is implied with a pronoun or a verbal ending:

Geivez id kale. Geivez kaleu.
noble-NOM me pleases. noble-NOM I-please.
I like the noble. The noble likes me.
The hierarchy
Who was subordinate to what? The rules varied over time and by region, but in the imperial court during the golden age, they amounted to the following:
Later developments
Even in the classical period there was a certain amount of what we might call tactical subordination: one might refer to a peer as a superior out of politeness. This intensified in later times; it became conventional to refer to the emperor always as niveï, never niveïm, even if the context contained gods. Likewise it became polite to use only geivez for a noble.

The end result was that most words stabilized into either dominant or subordinate form: e.g. niveï, imi, geivez, goro 'emperor, prince, noble, temple' were simply 'dominant words', no longer possessing a subordinate form; wedeïm, xuda, gonab, gudum 'slave, pig, thief, rat' were permanently subordinate, no longer possessing a dominant form. This single form, whatever its original case, is the etymon for the Xurnese and Ṭeôši derivatives.

After the imperial period more and more words were sorted into permanent classes—e.g. meidez, jire 'farmer, wife' as dominant, rama, jad 'frog, buttocks' as subordinate. Others retained two forms, but the subordinate form was increasingly seen as a despective: e.g. monzi 'girl' vs. monzim 'wicked girl, slut'; podei 'dog' vs. podie 'cur'; lič 'face' vs. liš 'mug, snout'. A good deal of this variation was lost on the way to the daughter languages, but often the doublet survived.

Annotated example
Here's an anecdote with the case assignments highlighted and explained, showing how the classical system worked.
Nive toiš jurumirtim en geivem čensei.
king-NOM his advisor-ACC to noble-ACC sent.
The king sent his advisor to a noble.

The king outranks both officials.

Jurumirti en geivemiš doum ravei li en tuč bugei tinaya rir ulirideši jinari šuitu? Nive xuldimiw naya ruwidiu?
priest-NOM to lord-GEN house-ACC went and to that-one said that> your taxes-ACC where are? king-NOM you-cheat-SUBJ <that you-wish-SUBJ
The advisor went to the noble's house and asked him, "Where are your taxes? Do you wish to cheat the king?"

A new scene, so roles are reassessed. The advisor, as the king's representative, outranks the noble. The noble's attributes (house, taxes) take his rank.

Ešenšei geivem tinaya loujie mači.
replied noble-ACC that> money-ACC I-have-not.
The noble replied, "I have no money."

The noble refers to his own possessions using the subordinate forms.

Koni tíbeli wedewim mimiw enke en nive čenseviu?
jewels-NOM horses-NOM and slaves-ACC you-have-not-SUBJ for to king-NOM you-send-FUT
"You have no jewels, horses, or slaves to send to the king?"

This is direct speech, and the advisor is speaking neutrally, that is, with no desire to underline his own importance. He therefore refers to the noble's possessions as befitting a noble's high rank—except for slaves, who being humans have their own rank, a very low one.

Bugei geivez tinaya rorie noumuvačie nega meu.
noble said that> beautiful unmarried daughter-ACC I-have.
The noble said, "I have a beautiful unmarried daughter."

The noble outranks his own daughter.

Nive toe saganei enke duzum mata jire izevei, tumiwa ir sorači beriš čenseniu.
king-NOM her seize-FUT-SUBJ for servant-ACC or wife-NOM will-be rather my left arm-ACC I-send-FUT-SUBJ
"Let the king take her to be his servant or his bride—though I would sooner part with my own left arm."

The noble suggests two roles for his daughter: as a servant she is the king's subordinate; as his wife she would be his equal. (Technically a man outranks his wife; but this isn't reflected grammatically unless they are the only people involved in the context.)

Geivez monzie lousei.
noble-NOM girl-ACC summoned
The noble summoned the girl.

Momentarily we are concerned only with the noble and his daughter; he therefore takes the dominant form, she the subordinate.

To monzim reilei naya jurumirti bugei tinaya tu liš to muriwa, rir beriš mide naya mutuči nive eimiruwivu.
he girl-ACC saw that advisor said that> that face-ACC she having-ADV, your arm-ACC have-SUBJ <that also king will-prefer
Seeing the girl, the advisor said, "With a face like that, the king would likewise prefer that you send him your left arm."

With the king back in the context, he and his representative are dominant and everything else is subordinate.

Oblique cases
The genitive case, as its name implies, is usually used for: The locative case is used for:
Adjectives must agree in number, gender, and case with the nouns they modify.
emourun šel s. m. nom. a wise uncle
welou čenkirti s. n. nom. an old soldier
zenmeli gime s. f. nom. an intelligent girl
šerini buguvmiši pl. m. nom. lovely poems
rorui guetui pl. n. nom. beautiful ducks
ezičei čenkei pl. f. nom. mighty swords
yuvuriš joupiš s. m. gen. the tasty fruit's
buruniei endei pl. f. gen. the true path's
rorum guetum s. n. acc. (I see) the beautiful duck
xureneim nuveim pl. f. acc. (I see) the black cats
reizoro jeno s. m. loc. in the deep woods
gourtunu runu s. f. loc. at the coastal city
This remains true when the nominative/accusative distinction becomes a dominant/subordinate one.
Ubimelači nive toiš pejimeluim jurumirtuim lousei.
unhappy-S-F-NOM king-NOM loyal-PL-N-ACC nobles-ACC summoned
The unhappy king summoned his loyal advisors.

Simple verbs [To Index]

This section will discuss simple sentences with a single verb. More complex sentence types will be discussed later.
There are three morphological tenses in Axunašin—past, present, future—which generally operate with no surprises.
Peivideimo šugema pidie. Yesterday I drank beer.
Eidemu šugema pideu. Today I'm drinking beer.
Dusodeimo šugema pidivie. Tomorrow I will drink beer.

To the Axunemi, the primary classification of verbs was into amendexi 'simple' verbs—the present and past indicative—and palindexi 'additive' verbs formed by infixation—that is, everything else. Accordingly, the future is a more marked form, not entirely a peer of the past and present. There is a tendency to mark it only once in conjoints (Pidivie li jereu 'I will drink and be merry') and to use the simple present when expressing a mere intention, especially using verbs of motion (En Weinex ravoi 'I'm going to Weinex').

The intensive
The intensive (šimun) doesn't correspond directly to any category of European grammar; its usage will therefore seem a bit difficult or chaotic to most English speakers.

The root meaning is an intensive—it insists that the action really happened.

Mu monzi eimireiliu. I met a girl.
Mu monzi eimireilejiu. I really met a girl.
Jeteu. I'm laughing.
Jetijeu. I'm laughing my ass off.
Tibelax Jeiwor makenjei. The army will surely defeat Jeor.

It's often used to contradict a negative statement:

Ej kalaču. You're not having a good time.
Id kalijeu! No, I am enjoying myself!

An obvious extension is to a perfective, emphasizing that the action is or will be completed.

Uliax iturijie. I read all the classics.
Ra. Ti sakana kejenjiu. Go away. I'm eating the whole fish myself.

This doesn't mean that the unmarked form is imperfective—iturie can also mean 'I read (and finished)'.

The unmarked and intensive tenses may be used contrastively, to show that the second action was done more successfully or more zealously:

Pidiu peli Jerex pidiji.
you-drink but Jerex drinks-INT
You drink, but Jerex drinks like a fish.

Kouraz kui, Axunai kueji.
Skouras fights, but Axunai fights to the finish. (An Axunemi saying.)

With absolutes (statements about 'all' or 'every' bit of something), the intensive emphasizes the systematic or exhaustive nature of the action.

Rišieriz esi reileš čalkaro kejejei.
Rišieriz every thing-ACC table-LOC eat-3s-PAST-INT
Rišieriz ate every damn thing on the table.

Another extension is into time: the intensive can imply that an action is frequent or habitual, or to refer to someone doing something over and over.

Esidemu pidijiu. You're always drinking.
Seliš podie gupiju. Uncle's dog barked and barked.
Kourazemi teim xuldejitu. The Skourenes constantly defraud us.

Ečeo en eidi komikinjeimu.
summer-LOC to lake visit-1p-FUT-INT
In the summer we will often be at the lake.

The subjunctive
The subjunctive is used for actions that are uncertain, potential, or counterfactual.
Rir eimi nijuvez en jeiworemi bugimi.
your first minister to Jeori speak-SUBJ
Your chief minister may be speaking to the Jeori.

Tu noxu tagimi!
Would that this night would be over!

Palin xidiwa xamimouzi!
more quickly came-2p-SUBJ
If only you had arrived more speedily.

It is also used with enke 'for the purpose of':

Gumei ras šedimiutu naya enke xamei.
men justice experienced-SUBJ <that for came
He came, that men might have justice.

Referring to indefinite expressions, the subjunctive implies that the object may not exist:

Nive burunmelim jurumirtim wiximi.
king honest counselor-ACC seek-3s-SUBJ
The king is seeking an honest counselor (there may be none).

Other uses will be discussed below.

The negative
The negative mood is used, naturally enough, to negate a sentence.
Xuči guma bugačie.
dead man speak-1s-NEG
I did not speak to the dead man.

Evonano ečeo komikačeimu.
Van-LOC summer-LOC spend-1p-NEG
We are not spending the summer at Van.

Géiveme kalanči.
lady please-3s-NEG-INT
The Lady is not enjoying herself at all.

It can take the place of the indicative or the subjunctive; or to put it another way, one must rely on context to tell if a sentence is denying a real action or wishing for a non-action.

Gi ušun tip šubouču.
boy golden ring vomit-3s-PAST-NEG
The boy did not vomit up the gold ring.
OR: The boy may not have vomited up the gold ring.
OR: If only the boy had not vomited up the gold ring.

There are no future negative tenses. The present is used instead; if necessary, an adverb of time specifies the time referred to.

Nijuvez mu teim dusodeimo kejejačei.
minister with us tomorrow dine-3s-NEG
The minister will not be (lit. is not) dining with us tomorrow.
Negative pronouns
Dowo 'not' and dowogu 'nothing, nobody' must be used with the negative:
Dowogu ti runiku palinma šigačei.
nobody this city-DIM-LOC very-much work-3s-NEG
Nobody works hard in this burg.

Boume Jeiworo bugoučei peli Turalo.
cow Jeiwor-LOC talk-1s-PAST-NEG but Curau-LOC
The cow spoke in Curau, not in Jeor.

Dowogu dul ir boumeim bugačietu.
nobody among my cows-ACC talk-3p-NEG
None of my cows talk.

Dowo toiš liš monzi kalaču.
not his face-ACC maiden please-3s-NEG
It's not his face the girl likes.

There are no words for 'nowhere' or 'never'; instead the negative is used with their positive counterparts:

Duxirti esinari wimixunčiu.
teacher everywhere found-1s-PAST-NEG-INT
Lit., Everywhere, I absolutely didn't find the teacher.
The teacher is nowhere to be found.

Esidemu ej orpuači.
always you-ACC leave-1s-NEG
Lit., I am not leaving you always.
I'll never leave you.

The imperative
Most verbs do not have a morphological imperative. Instead, the future indicative is used to give orders to servants, slaves, children, apprentices, soldiers, and other clear inferiors; the present subjunctive is used when addressing peers and superiors.
Bideš wexivie.
wine-ACC remove-2s-FUT
Remove the wine.

Mezik, terivi.
son-DIM-ACC shut-up-2s-FUT
Child, shut up.

Rir baymisak petimiw.
your poem sing-2s-SUBJ
Would you sing us your poem?

Pivui, ti piluvik numišebari naya kalide.
father-AUG this document-ACC sign-2s <that please-3s-SUBJ
Sire, may it please you to sign this document.

Where there is a morphological imperative, it's equivalent to the future indicative, and thus suitable only for inferiors: Bideš če! 'Bring the wine!'

Negative orders use the negative mood, of course. Since there is no negative future or negative subjunctive, the negative present is used for everyone.

Edelmi, rijačie.
fool, that-one open-2s-NEG
Fool, don't open that!

En jeim bideš dačiu.
to priest wine-ACC give-2s-NEG
Do not give the priest more wine.

The intensive forms can be used to accentuate the order.

Shut up!

Meidemak nolsugiu!
peasantry-ACC burn-2s-SUBJ-INT
Burninate the peasants!

Prepositional phrases [To Index]

Prepositional phrases should always be avoided if a locative will do. Compare reinaro with our 'in the river', čalkaro with 'on the table', goro 'at the temple'. The locative can also be used with time words: noxo 'at night', eču 'in the summer'.

Prepositions must precede their nouns (about the only X that begins its X-bar in Axunašin): en Jeiwor 'toward Jeor', peš goro 'near the temple'. It's common, however, to place them just before the noun, after any modifiers: rori en Jeiwor 'toward beautiful Jeiwor'; tu vume rišei lišo eriwi 'in front of those two tall trees'; emourun tek nulsirti 'without the great physician'.

The object of the preposition is in the nominative or the accusative, according to the usual hierarchical rules. Pronouns, however, always appear in the accusative: eš id 'against me', lišo ej 'in front of you', tek toe 'without him/her'.

Some of the more common prepositions in Axunašin:

demuro during
dul between, among
duso in back of, after
ešen back to, returning to
en to, toward
enke for the purpose of, in order to, in return for
kuro beside, at the side of
lišo in front of
mu with
nevi over, above, on top of
or out of, away from
peivi before (time)
peš near, around, about
ran in, into, inside
šuvi under, beneath
tek without

Prepositions may be used with the infinitive: tek omik 'without thinking', duso kejim 'after eating'. For more on this, see Transformations.

Conjunctions [To Index]

The most common conjunctions:
li and
mutuči moreover
mata or
peli but
peliwa on the contrary
louk so, therefore
jideili as a result, because of this
tijamu therefore, for that reason
tilouk because
keno if / then
tumiwa rather, preferably
These can be placed between any two components of the same type:
nuvei li podei cats and dogs
vume mata dime šugemei two or three beers
tu kiune peli yuvure šugeme that sour yet tasty beer
xamiu louk makiu I came, so I conquered
id tumiwa ej kokei he hit not me but you

See Transformations for more on the logical connectors and on conjunction reduction.

Transformations [To Index]

In this section, I'll discuss Axunašin syntax as a set of transformations. No particular theoretical school is followed.

Transformationalists once suggested that transformations represented derivations: at some level the brain produced 'deep structures' which were then converted by rules into 'surface structures'. However, what (scant) evidence we have suggests that this is not the case—e.g. sentences that involve multiple transformations don't require more time to produce or understand.

More modestly, we can simply treat them as formulas: if X is a valid sentence, then its transformation T(X) is also a valid sentence.

1. Subordination
One of the basic operations of the grammar is subordination. Abstractly, we can see this as taking two equal clauses and specifying that one modifies the other. The most general formula for subordination in Axunašin is:
S1 li S2S1 naya S2
S1 and S2 → S1 <that S2

S1 is the modifier, the subordinate clause; this normally precedes the main clause in Axunašin, but follows it in English.

The gloss <that points left, at the subordinate clause; this convention is consistently followed in this grammatical sketch.

This transformation is usually a basis for something else, but as it happens it can stand alone in Axunašin:

Ej ruweu li ej mabeu. → Ej ruweu naya ej mabeu.
I love you and I want youI want you that I love you.

The English gloss is purposely literal, to show that the equivalent transformation doesn't work in English. The meaning in Axunašin is that the statements are related, and the subordinate clause provides amplification or precision. A looser English translation of the example would be I want you, in fact I love you. Another example:

Nivei runie runutu naya nanui ewis runutu.
kings city-ACC rule-3p <that gods world-ACC rule-3p
The gods rule the world that the kings rule the city.

Again, the meaning is hard to express so directly in English. The rule of the kings is a complement to that of the gods; we might say The gods rule the world and, in a similar way but on a lesser level, the kings rule the city.

2. Sentential objects with indicative
x (y z V1) V2y z V1 naya x V2

Given that s o V represents a simple sentence, the formula represents a more complex case: the object of the outer verb V2 is the entire sentence y z V1. In Axunašin this is just another case of naya-subordination.

The equivalent English transformation is y z V1 that x V2 which we commonly use for verbs of speaking or knowing:

Gókima šagi naya zenačei.
barrel-ACC is-missing <that knows-NEG
He doesn't know that the barrel is missing.

Jouve enkeravunači zi naya zenmelez bugei.
war meaningless is <that philosopher said
The philosopher said that war is pointless.

Judgments of probability are impersonal expressions in English; in Axunašin they are in the same category as 'know': someone must explicitly do the judging. The usual verb for this is xawixem 'expect' or its diminutive xawixiki 'expect somewhat':

Guetu xumidi naya xawixoi.
duck lies <that expect-1s
I expect that the duck is lying.
OR, Probably the duck is lying.

Reravirtui kaymivietu naya xawixikeu.
barbarians buy-3p-FUT <that expect-DIM-1s
I somewhat expect that the barbarians will buy it.
OR, It's possible the barbarians will buy it.

3. Sentential objects with subjunctive
(x, (y, z) V1) V2y z V1-subj naya x V2

This is a simple variant of the previous pattern, with the subordinated verb in the subjunctive rather than the indicative; it's used for verbs of possibility, obligation, permission, and desire.

In English these are usually expressed using the infinitive; in Axunašin there are two finite verbs (inflected by person, tense, and number).

Tučimeu naya ruweu.
dance-1s-SUBJ <that want-1s
I want to dance. (Literally, I want that I dance.)

Kizimei naya gi šizenučei.
swim-3s-PAST-SUBJ <that boy know-3s-PAST-NEG
The boy didn't know how to swim.

Orgume eimireilenei naya mojivie.
stranger meet-2s-FUT-SUBJ <that may-2s-FUT
You may meet a stranger.

Wereme kejimomu naya nive empojačei.
cheese eat-1p-SUBJ <that king allow-3s-NEG
The king does not allow us to eat cheese.

Since there is no negative subjunctive, if the subordinate clause expresses something negative, the negative tenses are used.

Peš šoban bugoučie naya ruwi.
about oatmeal speak-2s-PAST-NEG <that want-1s-PAST
I wanted you to not speak about the oatmeal.

In English negatives have a way of migrating to the main verb: I want you not to say it → I don't want you to say it. Don't imitate this in Axunašin. You could certainly say

Peš šoban bugimie naya ruwouči.
about oatmeal speak-2s-PAST-SUBJ <that want-1s-PAST-NEG
I didn't want you to speak about the oatmeal.

but it has a different meaning. The first example expressed my wish that you say nothing; the second merely denies that I had a wish that you speak.

4. Clause reversal
S1 naya S2 S2 tinaya S1

From the color coding above, we see that Axunašin reverses the order of main and subordinate clauses, from our English-based perspective. Of course, these sentences sound normal and unremarkable in Axunašin.

However, the order can be reversed, by the simple expedient of replacing naya with tinaya.

Nanu ujivei naya zenoi. → Zenoi tinaya nanu ujivei.
god hear-FUT <that know-1s → know-1s that> god hear-FUT
I know that the god will hear.

Čenkirtuim koribimutu naya zalai empoji. →
soldiers-ACC complain-3p-SUBJ <that general allow-3s
Zalai empoji tinaya čenkirtuim koribimutu.
general allow-3s that> soldiers-ACC complain-3p-SUBJ
The general allows the soldiers to complain.

This reversal is most often used when the subordinate clause is long, or for reported speech.

In the glosses I write <that for naya, where the subordinated clause is to the left, and that> for tinaya, where the subordinated clause is to the right.

5. Causation and consequence
S1 li S2S1 louk S2
S1 and S2 → because S1, S2

This has the same structure as transformation 1, but adds the notion that the subordinate clause S1 is the cause of or reason for the main event S2.

Tunuim kouluim kejei louk ir duzu nulači zi.
rotten-n-pl-ACC clams-ACC ate <because my servant sick-n is
He ate the bad clams, and so my servant is sick.

Here too, the order of the phrases can be reversed by changing the particle, in this case from louk to tilouk:

Ir duzu nulači zi tilouk tunuim kouluim kejei.
my servant sick-n is because> rotten-n-pl-ACC clams-ACC ate
My servant is sick because he ate the bad clams.

Tilouk emphasizes causation; there is also jideili, which expresses the slightly looser idea of results: something was done, and the immediate consequences were such-and-such.

Ti puvi ravatie jideili muxi juni orrukietu.
this stone moved-1s results> many bugs out-scurried-3p
I moved this stone, and a bunch of bugs scurried out.

And tijamu emphasizes logical consequence; it's particularly used in deduction or prediction.

Šikei jexiu tijamu nuve tekore zi.
mice killed-1s therefore> cat hungry is
You killed all the mice; therefore the cat is hungry.
6. The conditional
We're now ready to understand conditional expressions, which follow the formula
not S1 keno subj S2
That is, the condition is stated in the negative, and the consequent is stated in the subjunctive. (There is no conditional tense as in the Romance languages, nor a conditional auxiliary as in English. There are also no degrees of conditionality, as in Verdurian or Cuêzi.)
Tíbelez ančokun šačei keno, tibel ran bóumedoum šui.
steward awake was-3s-NEG <if horse in barn-ACC be-3s-SUBJ
(Lit.) The steward was not awake; otherwise, the horse be in the barn.
If the steward had been awake, the horse would be in the barn.

Turalo komačeimu keno, komu eidemu šuomu.
Curau-LOC reside-1p-NEG <if house-LOC now be-1p-SUBJ
(Lit.) We do not live in Curau; otherwise, we be at home now.
If we lived in Curau, we'd be home by now.

If the condition is negative, it's stated positively. That may sound contradictory, but the contradiction is just with English usage. If you think of the literal glosses—X didn't happen, otherwise Y—then if X did happen you of course say so: X happened, otherwise Y.

Boumei moumu keno, tibeli midoumu.
cows have-1p <if horses have-1p-SUBJ
(Lit.) We have cows; otherwise we have horses.
If we didn't have cows, we'd have horses.

If the consequent is to be denied, the subjunctive is replaced with the negative:

Tibeli mačumu keno, boumiei unkemi šuomu.
horses have-1p-NEG <if cows-GEN herders be-1p-SUBJ
(Lit.) We don't have horses; otherwise we not be dairymen.
If we had horses, we would not be dairymen.

Tibeli moumu keno, reravirtui šačoumu.
horses have-1p <f barbarians be-1p-NEG
(Lit.) We have horses; otherwise we not be barbarians.
If we didn't have horses, we would not be barbarians.

The condition and consequent can be reversed using the particle tikeno:

Ewume jeim maču keno to neikwen šui.
grandmother wheels-ACC have-3s-NEG <if she wagon-ACC be-3s-SUBJ
If grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon.

Ewume neikwen šui tikeno to jeim maču.
grandmother wagon-ACC be-3s-SUBJ if> she wheels-ACC have-3s-NEG
Grandmother would be a wagon, if she had wheels.

The particles keno and tikeno assume that the condition is counterfactual. In English we use if-then constructions to express logical consequences; these are not keno (conditional) expressions in Axunašin, but tijamu (consequential) ones. Compare:

Turalo komačeimu keno, komu eidemu šuomu.
Curau-LOC reside-1p-NEG <if house-LOC now be-1p-SUBJ
If we lived in Curau, we'd be home by now.

Turalo komumu tijamu komu eidemu izomu.
Curau-LOC reside-1p therefore> house-LOC now be-1p
If we live in Curau, then we're home.

7. Pronominalization
S O V → to O V → S toe V

Pronominalization can be seen as a transformation: a full noun phrase is replaced by an equivalent pronoun. The singular to is of course replaced with plural keï as needed.

Geivez šejidi yaji → Geivez keim yaji / To šejidi yaji / To keim yaji
noble deer-PL-ACC hunt-3s
The noble hunts the deer → The noble hunts them / He hunts the deer / He hunts them

When the subject is pronominalized, it may be moved before the verb: Šejidi to yaji.

A dative expression (en NP) is replaced with dative pronouns:

Emourun jurumi en kaluvurim monzim diu → Emourun jurumi tomu diu
wise advice to grateful girl-ACC give-1s-PAST
I gave the grateful girl some wise advice → I gave her wise advice

Recall that pronouns don't use the dominant/subordinate noun cases. E.g. to is always the subject, toe the object.

The genitive pronouns can't be used as substantives: i.e. there is no one-word equivalent to English 'mine, yours, ours.' Instead one says ir tuč 'mine' etc.:

Ir čenke meu; rir tuč jinari zi?
my sword have-1s / your that-one where is
I have my sword; where is yours?
8. Subject deletion
S O V → (to) O V

If a subject is unknown, indefinite, or simply unimportant, it can be omitted. For clarity it's usually replaced with a pronoun, making this transformation a special case of pronominalization (#7). However, if the subject and object don't match in number—so there's no possible confusion—the pronoun can be omitted.

Šoban to čeirei.
oatmeal he cook-PAST
The oatmeal has been cooked.

En kourazemi (keï) ewume ninmalietu.
to Skourenes they grandmother sell-3p-PAST
Grandmother was sold to the Skourenes.

Axunašin is not rich in pronominal resources, and out of context it's impossible to say if someone means He cooked the oatmeal or Somebody cooked the oatmeal. If we've been talking about a specific person, the 'he' interpretation is more likely. One may also clarify by

9. Relativization
[X VP1] X VP2To VP1 naya X VP2
X does this and that → The X who does this does that(X is subject of both clauses)

[S1 X V1] X VP2S1 toe VP1 naya X VP2
This happens to X, X does that → The X something happened to does that (X is subject of main clause, object of subordinate clause)

Naya can be used to form a relative clause—a clause subordinated to a noun. In such sentences the head noun also plays a role in the subordinate clause—subject, object, or something else. It's replaced with the 3s pronoun to/toe (in other words, transformation 7 is applied), then the entire subclause is placed before the head noun, preceded by naya.

An example where the head noun is the subject of the subordinate clause:

Tučirtim geivez kalu. Tučirtim peš goro komi.
dancer-ACC noble pleased. dancer-ACC near temple resides
The dancer pleased the noble. The dancer lives near the temple.

To geivez kalu naya tučirtim peš goro komi.
she noble pleased that dancer-ACC near temple resides
The dancer who pleased the noble lives near the temple.

And one where it's the object:

Geivez tučirtim mabe. Tučirtim peš goro komi.
noble dancer-ACC loves. dancer-ACC near temple resides
The noble loves the dancer. The dancer lives near the temple.

Geivez toe mabe naya tučirtim peš goro komi.
noble her loves that dancer near temple lives
The dancer who the noble loves lives near the temple.

Curiously, these sentences can be analyzed two ways. We can say that the subclause modifies the head noun (as I've stated it above); or that the subclause modifies the entire main clause—a variant of transformation 1. However, only the first analysis works when the modified noun isn't the subject of the main clause:

Lejegum šoban čejei. Nive lejegum petibei.
official-ACC oatmeal brought. king official-ACC praised.
The official brought the oatmeal. The king praised the official.

Nive to šoban čejei naya lejegum petibei.
official him oatmeal brought <that king official praised.
The king praised the official who brought the oatmeal.

Only the pronoun prevents us from reading Nive šoban čejei... 'the king brought the oatmeal'; nonetheless, it's fairly frequent for the pronoun to be omitted. Presumably this reflects speech intonations that kept the meaning clear (e.g. a pause between nive and šoban, or pronouncing šoban čejei naya as a breath unit or with a distinctive pitch contour). However, it can make interpretation of written texts difficult. For instance, consider this line from an alchemical manual:

Kiulo tore paviču naya youji benki naya monzi emourun bezisivu.
sky-LOC fire kissed <that beetle blesses <that maiden wise supplicates

With no pronouns given, and no guarantee of SOV order, it's not clear who is kissing, blessing, and supplicating whom; worse yet, it's not even clear that these naya clauses are subordinate to the nouns, or to entire sentences. It's only familiarity with the characteristic attributes of Mešaic gods that enables us to properly parse this sentence:

Emourun kiulo tore toe paviču naya youji to benki naya monzi bezisivu.
wise [[sky-LOC fire her-1 kissed <that] beetle-1 she-2 blesses <that] maiden-2 supplicates
The wise man supplicates to the maiden, who blesses the beetle that the fire in the sky salutes.

(OK, we can parse it, but what does it mean? The noun phrases refer to gods: the beetle is the earth goddess Meidimexi; the fire in the sky is the sun god Inbamu. Alchemically this refers to the roasting of certain clays. The result of this is dissolved in 'the maiden'—the female principle of the body, which is water. This is only part of the text, which is a recipe for a healing poultice. As the Verdurians say, it's no wonder that Xurnese religions teach resignation.)

Can one move a clause by switching to tinaya? But of course. The clause can only be moved to a position after the verb; this is generally done when there's only one noun phrase it can refer back to.

To tiei šuniš muruvax ulivatimi naya to šizeni naya duxirti petivevoumu.
he our language-GEN grammar explain-3s that he can-3s <that teacher praise-1p-FUT
Let us praise the teacher who can explain the grammar of Axunašin.

Duxirti petivevoumu tinaya to tiei šuniš muruvax ulivatimi naya to šizeni.

Pronominalization can be applied to the main clause rather than the subordinate clause. Compare:

To geivez kalu naya tučirtim peš goro komi.
she noble pleased <that dancer near temple resides
Tučirtim geivez kalu naya to peš goro komi.
dancer noble pleases <that she near temple resides
The dancer who pleased the noble lives near the temple.

Geivez toe mabe naya tučirtim peš goro komi.
noble her loves that dancer near temple lives
Geivez tučirtim mabe naya to peš goro komi.
noble dancer loves that she near temple lives
The dancer who the noble loves lives near the temple.

The subclause is now a full sentence; the effect is to make it weightier, to counter the feeling of lesser importance normally imparted by the relative clause.

10. Clefting
S O V-morphS xam-morph naya to O V
S does O → It's S that does O

S O V-morphO xam-morph naya S toe V
S does O → It's O that's done by S

These transformations, an idiomatic use of relativization, focus attention on the extracted component.

Zimik xami naya to teim xulkimei.
maiden comes <that she us enchant-3s-PAST
It's the girl who bewitched us.The girl bewitched us.

Malto xami naya toe šuvipoukiu.
bald-one comes <that him disappoint-2s-PAST
It's the bald man you have disappointed.You disappointed the bald man.

Xamim may be put in the past tense, the intensive, the subjunctive, etc., as appropriate.

Zimik xamimei naya to teim xulkimei.
maiden come-3s-PAST-SUBJ <that she us enchant-3s-PAST
It may have been the girl who bewitched us.

Any component can be so extracted, including the verb:

Dusodeimo xami naya tibelmex poudixamevei.
tomorrow comes <that stablemaster return-3s-FUT
It's tomorrow that the stablemaster returns.

Lumivie xami naya ri tíbeldouz.
wash-2s-FUT comes <that you stable
It's washing that you'll do to the stable.

As usual, these can be reversed using tinaya.

To teim xulkimei tinaya zimik xami.
she us enchant-3s-PAST that> maiden comes
The one who bewitched us, it's the girl.
11. Nominalization
S O V → S-gen O-loc V-inf

The main use of the infinitive in Axunašin is to create nominalizations. As shown, the subject is converted to the genitive, the object to the locative, and the verb to the infinitive.

šel mudi sisiki → šeliš mudo sisikim
uncle sheep-PL bother-3s → uncle-GEN sheep-LOC bother-INF uncle bothers the sheep → uncle's bothering of the sheep

As the personal endings are lost, omitted pronouns must be restored, except for indefinite ones (transformation 8). If the object is a pronoun, it's placed in the dative.

nemuroi → ir nemurem
sleep-1s → my sleep-INF I sleep → my sleeping

Keï ej pešbugutu → rimu pešbugi
they you-ACC discuss-3p → you-DAT discuss-INF
People are talking about you → discussing you

An infinitive alone, or an infinitival expression, can be used as either subject or object of a sentence, or as the object of a preposition.

Rir bezisik Meša kale.
your supplicating Meša pleases Your supplication pleases Meša.

Simu muelik simu jidim zi.
me-DAT know me-DAT bear is To know me is to tolerate me.

Ir mipivui ir šebarešo esidemu ituri gerisagačietu.
my parents my books-LOC always reading understand-3p-NEG My parents do not understand my reading books all the time.

Dowogu tek suki.
nothing without stab-INF Without pain there is nothing.

(A motto of Axunemi magicians. The idea goes far beyond our "No pain no gain"; the idea is that if prayer and formulas do not accomplish your goal, you must resort to methods that involve suffering or even horror.)

English (and Verdurian) speakers must be careful not to take the Axunašin infinitive as equivalent to their own. Where we use the infinitive, Axunašin almost always uses a sentential object with a finite verb (transformations 2 and 3). The Axunašin infinitive corresponds more to our gerund, or to nominalizations, as in the English glosses above.

12. The progressive
S O V-morph → S ran O-loc V-inf rav-morph

The progressive is an idiom which makes use of infinitive nominalizations. Its meaning is that the action is incomplete or ongoing.

Ran ituri ravoi.
in reading go-1s I am reading. (Lit., I go in to read.)

Kourazemi ran en nimnalai xamim raviutu.
Skourenes in to market going go-PAST-3p The Skourenese were coming to the market.

Ran muxu šugemu pidi ravevei.
in many-f-LOC beer-LOC drinking go-FUT-3s He'll be drinking many beers.

This idiom first appears in the late Ezičimi period, with some variation in the verb and preposition, and apparently a very colloquial air—the first references are all condemnations of this barbaric practice. It becomes standard in the classical language, however.

Comparing this rule to nominalization, the reader may wonder why the subject isn't in the genitive. The reason is that it's the subject of the main clause verb, ravem. We may say that the subclause has a subject in the genitive, which is deleted since it's redundant.

This analysis is strengthened by the fact that the genitive returns when the subject isn't identical to that of the main clause. The ran + infinitival phrase construction can be used alone, usually to tell what someone was doing when another event occurred:

Ran tíbelemiš pipidun izem geivez poudixamei.
in steward-GEN drunk be-INF lord return-3s-PAST
When the lord returned, the steward was drunk.

Ran edelmiriš pupučo gojisem emourun uliak ituri.
in fool-GEN belly-LOC feeding wise classics-ACC reads
The wise man reads the classics while the fool is filling his belly.

If an action began in the past but is still going on, Axunašin uses the progressive and we use the present perfect:

Ran Weinexo demuro deiz soumi komi ravoi.
in Weinex-LOC during ten years living go-1s
I've lived in Weinex for ten years.
13. Causatives
E O V → S O-loc V-inf E-dat dem-morph
S causes (E does O) → S causes E to do O

Causative sentences can be seen as a development of nominalization (#11). That is, the caused action E O V is first turned into an infinitival phrase; its subject E then becomes a dative in the main clause—directly expressed if it's a pronoun, or with en if it's a noun phrase.

Kon ruweu. →
jewel desire-1s-PAST →
I desired the jewel. →

Xul nanu kono ruwik simu dei.
evil god jewel-LOC desire me-DAT give-3s-PAST
The demon made me covet the jewel.

Duzum tibeli pešunšivu. →
servant-ACC horses prepare-1s-FUT →
The servant will prepare the horses. →

Géiveme tibeli pešunšik en duzum devei.
noblewoman horses preparing to servant give-3s-FUT
The lady will have the servant prepare the horses.

14. Adverbialization
An entire sentence may function as an adverbial—e.g. a where clause is the equivalent of a locative; a when clause is the equivalent of a temporal adverb. There are several ways to do this in Axunašin.

The first we've already encountered: nominalization used as the object of a preposition.

S O V → prep S-gen O-loc V-inf

Reis rame kejei → duso reiviš ramu kejim
wolf frog eat-3s-PAST → after wolf-GEN frog-LOC eat-INF
the wolf ate the frog → after the wolf's eating of the frog

Reis duso toiš ramu kejim bideš ruwu.
wolf after his frog-LOC eat-INF wine-ACC desire-3s-PAST
After he ate the frog, the wolf wanted wine.

In imitation of prepositions moving forward in noun phrases, the preposition sometimes migrates before the verb: toiš ramu duso kejim.

The next is relativization, followed by the preposition. (Perhaps we should call it an adposition in this case.)

S O V → S O V naya prep

Reis rame kejei → reis rame kejei naya duso
wolf frog eat-3s-PAST → wolf frog eat-3s-PAST <that after
the wolf ate the frog → after the wolf ate the frog

Reis to rame kejei naya duso bideš ruwu.
wolf he frog-LOC eat-3s-PAST <that after wine-ACC desire-3s-PAST
After he ate the frog, the wolf wanted wine.

The final type uses relative pronouns. English uses its interrogative pronouns for this, but Axunašin uses its demonstratives, e.g. tinari 'there', tidemu 'then'.

S O V → S O V pron

Lejeguim runirti poudixamei tidemu ran nemurem raviutu.
official-PL-ACC governor return-3s-PAST then in sleeping go-3s-PAST
When the governor returned, the officials were sleeping.

Ezičimel nei tinari doum reileviu.
Ezičimel born-3s-PAST there house-ACC see-2s-FUT
Here you see the house where Ezičimel was born.

15. Adverbialization movement
S advP O V → advP S O V

All three types of adverbials are something of a load in the middle of the sentence; it's therefore normal to move them to the front of the sentence. They can also be moved after the verb, for emphasis.

Duso toiš ramu kejim reis bideš ruwu.
To rame kejei naya duso reis bideš ruwu.

After he ate the frog, the wolf wanted wine.

Runirti poudixamei tidemu lejeguim ran nemurem raviutu.
When the governor returned, the officials were sleeping.

16. Simile
Simile can be considered another type of adverbialization; but it has several variations, so that it's better discussed separately.

The root transformation is simply to say that something has the form or shape (murus) of something else (expressed in the genitive):

Reiviš muruvo Ušimex xamei
wolf-GEN form-LOC Ušimex come-3s-PAST
Ušimex came in the form of a wolf.

This became generalized to all sorts of resemblance, not only visual. (Indeed, if an actual shape was meant, one had to add enke wei 'to the eyes' before muruvo.)

noumuvačiei muruvo
virgin-GEN form-LOC
like a virgin

Vaymeziei muruvo pidi.
sailor-GEN form-LOC drink-3s
He drinks like a sailor.

Sulito lišo nuve šikei muruvo zidei.
youth before cat mouse-GEN form-LOC shudder-3s-PAST
He trembled like a mouse in front of a cat.

A more elaborate simile subordinates an entire sentence, using naya:

Šikeim nuve yaji naya muruvo Čeba Deijuni makei.
mice-PL-ACC cat hunt-3s <that form-LOC Čeba De:iju attack-3s-PAST
Čeba attacked the De:iju as a cat hunts mice.
17. Question formation with particles
S O V → S O jiti V-subj
S does O → Does S do O?

Yes/no questions are formed by placing the verb in the subjunctive and preceding it with the particle jiti.

Ewume kazin jiti peijudimei?
grandmother Caďinorian Q scare-3s-PAST-SUBJ
Did grandmother scare the Caďinorian?

Unkez mu zimik jiti noumanitu?
shepherd with girl Q marry-3p-FUT-SUBJ
Will the shepherd marry the girl?

These should be answered with the verb in the indicative or the negative, as appropriate. Or if the answer is indefinite, simply repeat the subjunctive from the question.

Peijudei. Peijudučei. Peijudimei.
scare-3s-PAST scare-3s-PAST-NEG scare-3s-PAST-SUBJ
Yes, she scared him. No, she didn't. Well, she might have.

Noumivitu. Noumoučitu. Noumanitu.
marry-3p-FUT marry-3p-NEG marry-3p-FUT-SUBJ
Yes, they'll marry. No, they won't. They might marry.

Negative questions are asked by using the negative mood, with jiti replaced by jitu:

Nive ti jamu jituzenačei?
king this subject negQ know-3s-NEG
The king doesn't know about this, does he?

They're answered in the same way as positive questions: zeni 'he knows' / zenačei 'he doesn't know' / zenimi 'he might know'. (However, the intensive is often used to indicate that the questioner's negativity is wrong.)

The question particle can be inserted before any element to question it. We usually accomplish the same thing by stressing the element. Both English and Axunašin can cleft the element instead; see the next transformation.

Jiti rir berivu esie šugema pidimei?
Q your brother all beer-ACC drink-3s-PAST-SUBJ
Did your brother drink all the beer?

Rir berivu jiti esie šugema pidimei?
Did your brother drink all the beer?

One can suggest a set of alternatives with the construction jiti...jitu.... This can be analyzed 'Q this (or) Q that' and is thought to be the origin of the question transformation, especially since it predates the latter in our available texts.

Gume jiti pipidun jitu edelmirun šui?
man Q drunk Q foolish be-3s-SUBJ
Is the man drunk or stupid?
18. Question clefting
S O V-morphJiti S xam-subj naya to O V
S does O → Is it S that does O?

The previous transformation can be combined with clefting (#10) to focus and question an element in the sentence. In this case the question particle begins the sentence. Both verbs are placed in the subjunctive.

Jiti Jadijilmei unkez xamenei naya to mu toe noumanitu?
Q Butt-Hill-GEN shepherd come-3s-SUBJ that she with him marry-3p-FUT-SUBJ
Is it the shepherd from Butt Hill that she's marrying?
19. Question formation with pronouns
S O V → Jei O V
S did O → Who did O?

S O V → S jem V
S did O → S did who?

To ask who did something or who it was done to, the component is replaced by the appropriate form of jei 'who/what'.

Jei šoban ruwu?
who oatmeal want-3s-PAST
Who wanted the oatmeal?

Rir sinu jem kokei?
your mother-in-law whom hit-3s-PAST
Who did your mother-in-law hit?

As the last example shows, it's normal to leave the interrogative wherever it occurs, even if it's deeply buried in the sentence:

Rir pivu ran toe jem kimei naya bóumedoum čousu?
your father in it what put <that barn-ACC fall-3s-PAST
The barn that your father put what in fell down?

Other interrogatives (ji 'which', jidemu 'when', jinari 'where', touno 'what', ji ende 'how') work the same way, taking the place of the unknown component.

Mešariš goro jinari zi?
Meša-GEN temple where is
Where is the temple of Meša?

Bodogirti jidemu xamevei?
wanderer when come-3s-FUT
When will the wanderer arrive?

Ji der tusagie?
which door choose-2s-PAST
Which door have you chosen?

The examples so far have been in the indicative, indicating that they refer to events we consider real, even if we don't know all the details. If the event itself is uncertain, we can use the subjunctive instead.

Jei einari komimi?
who here reside-3s-SUBJ
Who, if anyone, lives here?

Wenke ji ende ti jamuim zezenenei?
someone which way these matters learn-FUT-SUBJ
How are these things learned?

20. Interrogative movement
Jei O V → O jei V → O V jei
Who did O?

In English we generally front the interrogative expression. This is not necessary in Axunašin; but the question words can if desired be moved just before the verb, or even just after it.

Jei šoban ruwu? → Šoban jei ruwu? → Šoban ruwu jei?
Who wanted the oatmeal?

Rir sinu jem bugei? → Rir sinu kokei jem?
Who did your mother-in-law hit?

Wenke ji ende ti jamuim zezenenei? → Wenke ti jamuim ji ende zezenenei?
How are these things learned?

21. Topicalization
S O V → O V S
S O V → S V O

We've seen the possibility of placing constituents after the verb—clauses, adverbials, interrogatives. This can be done simply to put long constituents out of the way; but it also adds emphasis, even suspense.

This can be done with the subject or object as well, generally to introduce a new referent, or give striking new information about an existing one.

Ran pididouz xamiei dai bugurači gume.
in tavern come-3s-PAST big unspeaking man
Into the tavern came a large, silent man.

Mumu reildeviu jexirti.
you-DAT reveal-1s-FUT killer
I will reveal to you the murderer.

22. Conjoint reduction
S1 O1 V li S2 O2 VS1 O1 V li S2 en O2

A shared verb in conjoined sentences can be removed; the object is marked with en to help avoid word salad. This is best demonstrated with an example:

Tazipivu Tannaza makei li Tima toiš mez Naiyormen makei. →
Tazipivu Tannaza conquered and Tima his son Niormen conquered
Tazipivu conquered Tannaza, and his son Tima conquered Niormen. →

Tazipivu Tannaza makei li Tima toiš mez en Naiyormen.
Tazipivu Tannaza conquered and Tima his son to Niormen
Tazipivu conquered Tannaza, and his son Tima Niormen.

It's possible to analyze other conjunctions as showing deletion of shared material:

Tima Naiyorman makei li Tima Ranjavim makei. →
Tima Niormen conquered and Tima Rajjay conquered
Tima conquered Niormen and Tima conquered Rajjay.

Tima Naiyorman li Ranjavim makei.
Tima Niormen and Rajjay-ACC conquered
Tima conquered Niormen and Rajjay.

However, it's simpler to analyze these as having compound objects: i.e. the second sentence isn't derived from the first, but simply has Naiyorman li Ranjavim as its object.

On the other hand, the following curious construction most likely shows a variation of conjoint reduction:

Meidez šugema čečensei li xami toiš mez.
farmer beer-ACC ordered and comes his son
The farmer ordered a beer and his son did too.

The use of xamim recalls clefting (transformation 10); but what's it a cleft of? Not of the main sentence, which has a different subject. Instead it seems that a full conjoint was present (toiš mez šugema čečensei 'his son ordered a beer'), it was clefted to isolate the new information (toiš mez xami naya to šugema čečensei), and the remainder of the sentence was discarded as redundant. Finally the subject was moved after xami (which serves a grammatical role and thus isn't worth giving the emphatic sentence-final position).

23. Adjective complements
In some cases an adjective can govern a subclause. This can generally be done either by relativization, or with a participle.

The first method is similar to relativization of nouns:

to bouma rotito bouma roti naya šemeli
he cow pull-3s → cow pull-3s <that able
He pulls a cow → able to pull a cow

toe jexeviututoe jexeviutu naya rutun
him kill-3p-FUT → him kill-3s-PAST <that hurried
They will kill him → eager to be killed

The second method is to use the participle in -uri or -okun.

to šugema pidi → šugema (to) piduri
he beer drink-3s → beer (he) drinking
he drinks beer → him drinking beer

When used as an adjective, the subject of the subclause must be the same as the noun modified, and the subject pronoun is omitted: šugema piduri čenkirti 'a soldier drinking beer'.

This expression can also be used as an adverbial, usually to indicate a pertinent fact or a recently completed condition. The adverbial endings are added, and the subject must be supplied, if only in pronoun form.

Ir nege šoume izuriwa, mu toe noumači.
your daughter ugly being-ADV / with her marry-1s-NEG
Your daughter being ugly, I will not marry her.

Borme kurivatokunoyo, gedigumei wixoumu.
mountain having-attained-ADV / elcar-PL seek-1p-PAST
Having reached the mountain, we sought the elcari.

The comparative is a variant of this, using reiluri 'looking at':

Ti podei tibel reiluri dai zogi!
this dog horse looking big is-INT
This dog is bigger than a horse!

There is no explicit superlative, though one can of course say something like esi tibel reiluri dai 'bigger than any horse'.

Reiluri must take an object, but it can be a pronoun (ej reiluri meivu 'richer than you') or a possessive expression:

Ir tuč reiluri šerinou neruweno wedeï ruweu.
my that-one looking pretty-n bed-LOC slave want-1s
I want a prettier concubine. (Lit., a concubine prettier than mine)

Examples [To Index]

1 / Axunaiš sigadu yutei / The hundred flowers of Axunai [To Index]

One of the imperial Seven Classics (Šeisun uliax) was a collection of poetry, the Hundred Flowers. The empire did not really believe in ongoing development; its impulse in all fields, from engineering to law to poetry, was to sift through previous knowledge and literature and create the definitive volume. The expectation was that future generations could only imitate or reflect on this work, never surpass it. (Thanks to the fall of the empire, this expectation was often fulfilled; it was also self-fulfilling to some extent.)

The modern reader of the Hundred Flowers soon tires of the endless encomiums to long-dead rulers and disbelieved gods. The love poetry is more interesting, and indeed is still read. Love was not a civilized emotion among the Axunemi, whose marriages were dull practical affairs, negotiated between families. Love was seen as a form of madness—indeed, one of the few escapes from duty and community. It was not really honorable behavior, but it was widely believed to be impossible to resist. The following poem (by an unknown author) is typical.

In form it consists of four 14-syllable lines, then two 6-syllable lines; this structure then repeats. Like most Axunašin poems, it was intended to be sung. It was probably not written for a specific melody; there were dozens of melodies for each particular poetic form, and it was the singer's choice which to use.

Mu eimi šugeme giwiš muruvo urizun 1
with first-f beer boy-GEN form-LOC clumsy
I am as clumsy as a boy with his first beer

Ewildeimo ančuvi wiuš muruvo bobi
noon-LOC awakened owl-GEN form-LOC dizzy
As dizzy as an owl awakened at noon

En tore rišuri monzi muruvo sunuri
at fire looking girl form-LOC dreaming
As dreamy as a girl staring into a fire

Jeno orjibirtiš muruvo gerači zoi
forest-LOC hermitGEN form-LOC insane be-1s
As mad as a hermit in the woods

Jei id beivivatei?
what me abase-3s-PAST
What has reduced me to this?

Id nu! Zi mabiou
me comfort-IMPER / is love
Alas, it is love

Toiš wei li xurene šone li jeturi bux
her eye-PL and black-f hair and laughing mouth
Her eyes, her black hair, her laughing mouth

Ir šetie revui jugirtui izutu 2
my soul-PL-GEN new-n-PL master-PL be-3p
are the new masters of my soul

Wituvei ruwači tumiwa toiš mouludo 3
estate want-1s-NEG rather her softness
I would rather have her intimacy than an estate

Geivemi, ir beivuvi šedudo jerivuzi
noble-PL / my abased condition mock-3p-FUT
Nobles, you will laugh at my abasement

Ti deimu tu deimu
this day-LOC that day-LOC
But sooner or later

En muim mabiou 4
to you-ACC love
It will conquer you too

1 Muruvo is literally 'in the shape (of)', generalized to an all-purpose comparative. The first three lines have an understood zoi 'I am'.

2 Literally they are the masters of the author's souls. More on this in the next example.

3 In Axunašin tumiwa 'preferably' is a conjunction; X tumiwa Y ruwači thus means 'I don't want X but rather Y.' A wituvei is the emperor's grant of land to a noble (which thus dates this poem to at least the imperial era); the statement implies the author doesn't have one yet, thus is probably an army officer. Mouludo 'softness' is a poetic euphemism for a woman's body or for lovemaking, and also evokes the mouli, the breasts.

4 This line is an instance of Conjoint Reduction—we can imagine the fuller version Mabiou id makei li en mium 'Love conquered me and you too'.

2 / Endei Benkeriwiš / The ways of Benkeriz [To Index]

Benkeriz of Nobiči (d. ~ 1200) was the most noted of the physicians of Axunai. He wrote no books himself; this manual was compiled by his students after his death. It combines medical cases, personal anecdotes and sayings, disquisitions on bodily health and sickness, and a detailed catalog of medicinal herbs.

Axunemi medicine considered the human body to consist of three bodies (water, earth, and wood), and the parallel three spirits (female, male, light). These combined in complicated ways, and the theory considered various imbalances and oppositions between them. For more on Mešaic medical thought, see Almean Belief Systems.

More importantly, perhaps, Benkeriz had a good deal of practical experience, and his emphasis was always on correct observation and matching of the symptoms to the patterns of several hundred disorders. Not surprisingly, he was much more successful than physicians who relied entirely on trances and spells, or on theory alone.

The cases in the extract, which the students juxtapose to suggest the very different approaches Benkeriz applied to different symptoms, were very likely a viral infection of the inner ear, and gangrene. In the first case Benkeriz simply ameliorated the symptoms while the body healed itself; in the second he had to act to prevent the rot spreading.

Emourun en nulsirti čejiutu Sudauš gume.
wise to physician-NOM they-brought Sudau-GEN man-ACC.
A man of Sudau was brought to the great physician.
A couple of things to notice: the preposition appears before the noun nulsirti, not before the entire NP emourun nulsirti; the sick man, as a new referent, appears after the verb.)

Benkeriz toe ririšei jideili mu juguvi toe reilei li tek bobušik pejimei naya šemelači li muxidemu šuburi li veturiwa xaluri.
Benkeriz him examined as-a-result imbalanced him saw and without faint-INF stood-SUBJ <that incapable and often vomiting and stinkingly breathing
Benkeriz examined him, finding him to be incoherent, unable to stand without fainting, vomiting frequently, with stinking breath.
'X saw Y to be condition' is expressed as X mu condition Y reilei. In this case the condition is a fairly complicated conjunction, and most of the conjoints have been moved after the verb. Note that '(un)able to do X' uses a subordinated finite clause, not an infinitive.

Benkeriz ran ravaturači toe seirei li mii tomu dei li poudiwa šoučei li gume en nuludo ešendiu.
Benkeriz in unmoving him kept and water to-him gave and secondly did-not and man to health returned
Benkeriz kept him still, gave him water, and did nothing else, and the man recovered.
(Šoučei 'he didn't do' with no other object is idiomatically equivalent to 'he did nothing'.)

Leirališ giw tomu xamei tinaya nul zei peli neju xurenum tedim šedei.
Leiral-ish boy-ACC to-him came that> healthy was but foot-LOC black-ACC big-spot-ACC had.
A boy from Leiral came to him, healthy but with a large black spot on one foot.
'He was healthy...' is a subordinate clause (transformation 1); this emphasizes that these facts are given as an amplification of the first sentence.

Benkeriz rujidi redweli li yokrinduvi korxu miunšeč en voneč kimei.
Benkeriz red harefoil and vinegarated morel-LOC dilution to wound applied
Tuč doworavučei jidemu, keixei peliwa, yatei tinaya giwiš neja tetevimietu naya yatei.
that-one not-disappeared when, grew contrariwise, boy-GEN foot-ACC they-cut-off-SUBJ <that commanded
Benkeriz applied red harefoil and vinegarated dilution of morels to the wound; when it did not clear up, but expanded, he commanded the boy's foot to be cut off.
The 3p forms function much like our passive—or like our own impersonal 'they': 'they cut his foot off'.

Dusunoyo giw en nuludo ešendiu.
afterward boy-ACC to health returned
After this the boy recovered.

En Benkeriz ruzenoumu tinaya zenejiu ji ende tinaya Sudauš gume en nuludo ešendenei tek yunmin, peli en giw nulseč šagei or teteveč?
to Benkeriz we-asked that> you-knew-INT which way that> Sudau-ish man-ACC to health return-FUT-SUBJ without medicine, but to boy-ACC cure lacked away-from cutting-off
We asked Benkeriz, "How did you know so surely that the man of Sudau would heal with no medicine, while there was no cure for the boy except amputation?"
'Know' in the intensive here means 'know for sure'.
Axunašin almost never uses indirect speech. At the same time, there is no guarantee that a speech is reported verbatim. One may rephrase it, but one uses the speaker's context to determine pronouns, tenses, deictic pronouns, and noun case.

Ešenšei Benkeriz tinaya gume gumuniš šetiš totoxou šedei louk zimin mii tomu kimiu.
replied Benkeriz that> man-ACC male-GEN spirit-GEN surfeit felt
Benkeriz replied, "The man had an overabundance of male soul, and female water was therefore applied.

Giwiš voneč miiš gulei li suziš šagou zei, li tidin kie reilačouzi, tijamu dowo nulseč reilačouzi.
boy-GEN wound water-GEN wood-GEN and earth-GEN absence was and fourth body you-don't-see therefore no cure you-don't-see
The boy's wound was a dearth of water, of earth, and of wood; there is no fourth body, and thus no cure."
'You see X' idiomatically means 'There is X', so of course 'You don't see X' means 'There isn't X.'

Ruzenoumu tinaya wenke ti jamuim zezenenei ji ende?
we-asked that> someone these matters-ACC learn-FUT-SUBJ which way
We asked, how are these things learned?

Ešenšei Benkeriz tinaya mu sukurudo muxi muelis wenke šašagi mutuči kiyei šetiei li kiminiei gerisagudoi.
replied Benkeriz that> with suffering much familiarity someone needs also bodies-GEN spirits-GEN and substances-GEN understanding-AUGM
Benkeriz replied, "A great acquaintance with suffering is required, as well as a great understanding of the bodies, the spirits, and the subtances."

3 / Xulduri kourazez / The cheating Skourene [To Index]

This little puzzle comes down to us in multiple forms, and one source even suggests that it originally comes from Wede:i. This version comes from a primer for children from the late imperial era.

To solve it you will want to remember the digits from 1 to 6 in Axunašin.

Kourazez doučeim im rudem ravei, li kaymimei naya ruwu axunez. 1
Skourene furs-ACC in offering go-3s-PAST / and buy-3s-PAST-SUBJ <that wish-3s-PAST Axunez
A Skourene was offering furs for sale, and an Axunez wished to buy one.

Kourazez tevikuvi mu boyok gulun damus tomu dei, li en wedeïm loujie dimei naya tomu bugei.
Skourene scratched with price wooden board-ACC him-DAT give-3s-PAST / and to slave-ACC money-ACC give-3s-SUBJ-PAST <that him-DAT tell-3s-PAST
The Skourene gave him a wooden board with the price scratched on it and told him to pay his slave.

Axunez ešoyo wimixei tinaya kourazez reim tevikei naya mu boyok palindei.
Axunez however find-3s-PAST that> Skourene line-ACC scratch-3s-PAST <that with price add-3s-PAST
The Axunez noticed, however, that by scratching another stroke, the Skourene had increased the price.

Axunez omu tinaya "Palinun dime reimi palindeviu tijamu poudex loujie wexivie. 2
Axunez think-3s-PAST that> additional three line-PL add-1s-FUT therefore> 20 coin-PL remove-1s-FUT
The Axunez told himself, "By adding three more scratches, I could pay twenty coins less.

Demujidimoi! Mu dowo reimi palinun šeis loujie wexivie naya šizenoi."
wait-1s-SUBJ / with none line-PL additional seven coin-PL remove-1s-FUT <that can-1s
But wait! With no scratches at all, I can save another seven."

Ji boyok dei?
which sum give-3s-PAST
How much did he pay?

1 Where we use the infinitive ('he wished to buy it') Axunašin uses a finite expression ('he wished that he bought it').

2 Literally "I will add three lines and as a consequence I will remove 20 coins." See transformation 6, the conditional.

The primer was written by one of those annoying educators who obviously feel that giving answers is a form of coddling. I am however happy to offer the answer here.

The Lexicon

© 2004 by Mark Rosenfelder
Virtual Verduria