Nitherian Morphosyntax

Nouns

Nitherian nouns can indicate grammatical number (singular or plural) and possessor. There’s no case or gender.

Pronouns

Nitherian has a simple set of six pronouns:

Person

Singular

Plural

1st

so

sorwi

2nd

shi

shirwi

3rd

a

azlwi

Number

Nouns referring to humans can be marked plural with the suffix -rwi. Nouns not marked this way have indeterminate number, and can refer to one person or several people.

Nouns that don’t refer to humans can’t be pluralized at all.

Possession

Nouns that are possessed are inflected to show the possessor. To make these forms, take the possessed stem and add these endings:

Person

Singular

Plural

1st

-(w)i

-(s)ori

2nd

-yo

-(w)a

3rd

-(s)o

-(s)oslo

The possessed stem is usually just the base form of the noun, but for some nouns it’s the base form plus a sibilant. For example, ao “husband” has the possessed stem aosl-.

The (s) in these suffixes is the bridging s, which appears when the possessed stem end in a vowel. The (w) is usually part of the suffix but disappears if the possessed stem has an extra sibilant on it.

Noun stems lenite following segments if and only if they don’t end in a syllabic nasal AND don’t have an extra sibilant in the possessed stem.

Here are all the possessed forms of some nouns:

Possessor

tn “coconut”

yo “blood”

ezhi “stomach”

ao “husband”

1st singular

tnwi

yowi

ezhiwi

aosli

2nd singular

tnyo

yoyo

ezhiyo

aoslyo

3rd singular

tno

yoso

ezhisho

aoslo

1st plural

tnori

yosori

ezhishori

aoslori

2nd plural

tna

yowa

ezhiwa

aosla

3rd plural

tnoslo

yososlo

ezhishosho

aosloslo

To add an explicit possessor:

  • If the possession is inalienable (family members, body parts, animals, thoughts/feelings, things one has made), just put the possessor after the possessed noun: aoslo chnchi “the woman’s husband”.

  • If the possession is alienable, add va between the possessed noun and the possessor: e.g. tno va chnchi “the woman’s coconut”.

With human-made objects, possession is usually alienable. But to emphasize that the object is something the possessor made (rather than something they just own), you can use an inalienable construction. For example, ithno va chnchi means “the woman’s skirt”, but ithno chnchi specifically means “the skirt the woman made herself”.

Adjectives

Nitherian has no true adjectives. All property meanings are expressed either with derivational suffixes on the noun, prepositional phrases using sa plus a noun characteristic of the head noun, or stative verb relative clauses. For example:

Yoshanyanya

yosha-nyanya     
flower-decorative

A decorative flower [derivational suffix]

Ithn-ithn s’osla

ithnithn  s=osla    
clothing  with=water

Wet clothing [phrase with *sa*]

Opa mweso

opa     mwe-so 
banana  cold-3s

A cold banana [stative verb]

Verbs

Let only the bold venture here.

Compounding

Chains of nouns are common in Nitherian, with each noun modifying the noun before it. The nouns are connected by putting the modified noun into the third-person possessed form, which has the effect of linking the nouns together with -o- spacers. The -o- connector consumes an initial vowel of the following word, and blocks sibilant harmony.

Compounds coexist with ordinary possessive phrases, which look similar. But they’re used in different situations: compounds are for when the second noun is a characteristic of the first, while possessive phrases indicate a source or a part of a whole.