Kharulian Morphosyntax

Throughout its grammar, Kharulian cares about the following distinctions:

  • Animacy: the animate category includes humans, animals, celestial bodies, and natural forces that appear to have agency, while the inanimate category includes everything else.

  • Grammatical number: singular, dual, and plural for animates; only singular and plural for inanimates.

  • Obviation: only the most topical third person gets third person marking, all others get fourth person (obviate) marking.

Noun Phrases

Pronouns

Strictly speaking, Kharulian has no independent pronouns. Instead, it uses its verb agreement affixes liberally to add information about person and number where needed.

(in addition to the normal verb agreement), the demonstrative el is predicated, resulting in the following table of “pronouns”:

Singular

Dual

Plural

1st Person

mel

madzgaal

madel

1st Inclusive

itykaal

idel

2nd Person

tel

teklaal

telel

3rd Person

iil

iklaal

ilel

4th Person

anel

aljaal

alnel

Inanimate

sel

juel

Nouns

Nouns decline for number and case by adding suffixes and/or changing the noun stem. Unless otherwise specified, the resulting forms are stressed on the same syllable that the root is stressed on; if this would put the stress beyond the last three syllables, the stress is on the second-last syllable instead.

Number

Inanimate nouns distinguish singular and plural.

The plural is formed by voicing and palatalizing the last consonant. If the last vowel in the stem is a or e, this also shifts to e or i in the plural, and a shift from a to e also palatalizes the previous consonant. For example, the plural of mas “house” is mezy (/mʲɛʒ/); the plural of et “food” is idy (/idʒ/); the plural of kuim “rope” is kuimy (/kʷimʲ/). If the last consonant is already palatalized, then the final consonant doesn’t change, which may result in the plural being the same as the singular.

Some a-stem nouns go even further, switching a preceding fricative or affricate to a stop. For example, “leg” is tsap, but “legs” is teby (/tʃɛbʲ/).

Regardless of the stem changes, the writing system marks plurality with a final j.

Animate nouns distinguish singular, dual, and plural.

The dual is marked with the suffix -lÉja if the stem ends in a consonant, where E is a copy of the last vowel in the stem; stress moves to the copy vowel. If the stem ends in a vowel, the dual is marked with the suffix -kla, and stress moves to the second-last syllable. If the stem ends in two consonants, the dual is marked with -‘lga, and the stress moves to the a in the oblique cases.

The plural is marked with the suffix -el if the stem ends in a consonant (which voices and palatalizes that consonant); if the stem ends in a vowel, lengthen that vowel and add -l. In the oblique forms, the -el is stressed.

Case

Kharulian nouns inflect for four cases:

  • The nominative, which is the citation form.

  • The accusative, marked by -o; if the stem ends with a vowel, lengthen that vowel instead.

  • The genitive, marked by -i; -jy if the stem ends with a vowel.

  • The dative, marked by -Em, were E is a copy of the last vowel in the stem (a if the last vowel in the stem is a schwa); just -m if the stem ends with a vowel.

In all singular oblique cases, the final consonant of the stem is voiced (and final s becomes r).

Some stem changes happen only for animate nouns:

  • The genitive -i palatalizes the last consonant of the stem and raises the last vowel of the stem, just like inanimate plurals.

  • The dative also palatalizes the last consonant if the echo vowel is e or i.

Some nouns use a different stem (the oblique stem) in all forms except the nominative singular. For example, the word tójiot “helpful spirit” has the oblique stem tuiit-; the word mur’n “river” has the oblique stem munz/m’nz. If the noun is inanimate and the oblique stem ends in two consonants, then the nominative plural has an epenthetic schwa added to the end to prevent an illegal consonant cluster; for example segiby’m “pen” has the oblique stem segimp-, but the plural is segimpy’ [ʃeˈɟim.pʲə].

Non-singular nouns add the case marker after the number marker, and the number marker is treated as part of the stem for the purposes of stem changes induced by the case marker and for choosing the vowel to copy for the dative.

Here are full declensions of a few nouns:

Number

Case

mas “house”

kuim “rope”

cuéclet “flower”

ura “husband”

nuiin “wife”

tójiot “helpful spirit”

mur’n “river”

Singular

Nominative

mas

kuim

cuéclet

ura

nuiin

tójiot

mur’n

Accusative

maro

kuimo

cuécledo

uraa

nuiino

tuiito

munzo

Genitive

marui

kuimui

cuécledui

úrajy

nuiini

tuiiti

munzi

Dative

máram

kuímuim

cuécleduem

úram

nuíinim

tuíitim

múnzum

Dual

Nominative

urakla

nuiinlija

tuiitlija

munz’lga

Accusative

uraklaa

nuiinlijaa

tuiitlijaa

m’nz’lgaa

Genitive

uráklajy

nuiinlíjajy

tuiitlíjajy

m’nz’lgajy

Dative

uráklam

nuiinlíjam

tuiitlíjam

m’nz’lgam

Plural

Nominative

mezy

kuimy

cuéclidy

úraal

nuíinel

tuíitel

munzel

Accusative

mezio

kuimio

cuéclidio

uraalo

nuiinelo

tuiitelo

m’nzelo

Genitive

mezi

kuimi

cuéclidi

ureeli

nuiinili

tuiitili

m’nzili

Dative

mézim

kuímim

cuéclidim

uráalem

nuiinélem

tuiitélem

m’nzélem

In general, the cases are used in the following situations:

  • The nominative is used for the subjects of clauses (both transitive and intransitive) and when a noun appears in isolation (e.g. when answering a question with a single noun phrase)

  • The accusative is used for the direct object of intransitive sentences; however, if the direct object is inanimate, the accusative is only used if the noun phrase is definite. It’s also used for the objects of locative postpositions when describing static position.

  • The genitive is used to mark alienable possessors, i.e. when the possessed thing is anything but a body part or family member.

  • The dative is used:
    • for the indirect object (recipient or beneficiary) of a ditransitive verb;

    • for the object of a locative postposition when describing motion towards;

    • for inalienable possessors.

    • for experiencers that are syntactic subjects.

Body parts, kinship terms, and words referring to the family are inalienably possessed (take a dative possessor) while all other nouns are alienably possessed (take a genitive possessor).

Locative postpositions imply position when the argument is accusative, motion towards when the argument is dative.

Numerals

Numerals in Kharulian can be used as nouns on their own (e.g. when counting or doing arithmetic), or they can be placed directly before a singular noun to count that noun: ugen am “four leaves”, luee niazliu “three fish”. For ordinal numbers, put the numeral in the genitive case instead: ugini am “the fourth leaf”, lueejy niazliu “the third fish”.

Two is different: it goes after the noun it counts, and that noun is placed in the genitive case:

kun-i    tsar-o    ma-nuja-rrí
dog-GEN  pair-ACC  1s-3d-fear 

I’m afraid of the two dogs

Verbs

The citation form of a verb is the verbal noun — usually the same as the bare verb root — which is a noun representing the action itself.

To make the verb finite, you need to add prefixes to indicate the subject and, if present, either the direct or the indirect object. Most semantically transitive verbs can be made intransitive (implying an obvious or generic object) simply by omitting object marking.

The subject prefixes are:

Person

Number

Prefix

Before Consonant

Before Vowel

1st

Singular

ma-

m-

Dual

madzga-

madzga-

Plural

mad’-

mad-

1st Incl.

Dual

ityka-

ityka-

Plural

ity’-

id-

2nd

Singular

te-

t(i)-

Dual

tekla-

tekla-

Plural

tel-

tel-

3rd

Singular

i-

i-

Dual

ikla-

ikla-

Plural

il-

il-

4th

Singular

an-

an-

Dual

alja-

alja-

Plural

alna-

aln-

Inanimate

Singular

sa-

s-

Plural

u-

j(u)-

In the prefixes ending in a consonant, that final consonant is palatalized if followed by /e/, /i/, or another palatalized consonant, unpalatalized otherwise. The 2nd singular and inanimate plural prefixes before vowels are exceptions; they’re /tʃ/ and /ɣʷ/ respectively, regardless of the following vowel.

If the stem starts with /e/, this assimilates to a prefix ending in /a/ or /i/, producing a long vowel.

Double-Consonant Verbs

Kharulian has a class of verbs called double-consonant verbs, which the writing system represents with two initial consonants. The spoken form actually has a vowel between those consonants, since Kharulian doesn’t allow initial consonant clusters, but this vowel often drops away in the conjugated forms. Examples include kezip “to write”, lezim “to sleep”, and tsajiojy “to cough”.

Double-consonant verbs have a series of altered stems that are used in certain finite forms:

  • The short stem drops the vowel between the first two consonants and voices both consonants.

  • The crossed stem drops the vowel, switches the two consonants, and devoices both if possible. (Some double- consonant verbs don’t switch the consonants, but still devoice them if possible.)

  • The injected stems replaces the vowel between the first two consonants with another vowel. There are three variants:

    • Inject O replaces the vowel with an o and unpalatalizes the first consonant.

    • Inject E replaces the vowel with an e and palatalizes the first consonant.

    • Inject Y replaces the vowel with a schwa and palatalizes the first consonant.

Note that the phonological processes apply to these forms: if the first consonant is a stop and the first vowel is a (which it usually is), then that stop will appear as a fricative or affricate in the plain stem; and if one of the consonants is a fricative while the other is a sonorant like /l/ or /n/, the fricative will voice in the crossed stem.

Here are the altered stems of the example verbs:

Stem

kezip

lezim

tsajiojy

Short

-gzip

-lzim

-dwjiojy

Crossed

-skip

-zlim

-cytojy

Inject O

-kozip

-lozim

-tojiojy

Inject E

-kezip

-lezim

-tejiojy

Inject Y

-ky’zip

-ly’zim

-ty’jiojy

Noun Incorporation

Kharulian verbs can easily incorporate nouns to create compounds and to keep animates as core arguments of the verb. The incorporated noun usually represents the prototypical object or instrument of the verb. Body parts are especially prone to being incorporated to narrow the verb’s effect to that body part.

With double-consonant verbs, the stem the verb takes is usually predictable from the phonological form of the incorporated noun:

  • If the noun ends in a vowel, use the crossed stem.

  • If the noun ends in a consonant, use the full stem.

Clause Structure

The constituents of a clause can be in any order in a Kharulian clause, with the double-marking of case and polypersonal agreement making the relationships clear.

Kharulian is verb-final by default. Putting something after the verb strongly focuses it, implying that the information is surprising or contrastive.