Ring N/X: 6/11: Qþyn|gài

Henrik Theiling
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Rqutlúhaurqandúrà rqyqlaqlyqþùhysta

N=gyn|áu=xuitsíndì rqyqlytlý rqyqlùihài tykù. N=gyksỳhhútsuqþaksùhù. N=gytrun|àu|xaitaqlaqlysta.

N=gy=káutìrándì||kùi tlyhystaqþiuhiqþundìndáu. N=gyn|áu=xuitsíndaqþù tlyhàihùndaqlùi tlyhaurqàndatsahai tykùn!gài||kùihhìu.

N=gyn|u=xuitsíndìhíqlaqlysta. N=gyqlustíndìhíhhíutrutàhhautáuràràiqlyqlù. N=gyn|ỳ=xíuhítsuqþýtìrátrutàhhau. N=gy=kutìrándì||xyhain|y|xaitahysta.

N=gytrỳn|àitsíndìtsu!káiqþýhui!kíuhhiu!káihhiu. N=gyqliksíndìksìkàstỳ. N=gyqlustíndì||kíqþaiqláistakykàindìndáu.

(Conlang version 2005-02-15)

Smooth Translation

Very well-tasting bread with meat

Mix together flour, vegetable oil, and salt. If it is necessary, add water. Put aside the dough.

Cut slices from boiled meat and mix with onions, spices and a pinch of salt.

Knead the dough, then prepare spheres of the size of large seeds. Press the spheres flat, then put meat in the center of these flattened items.

Fold the pieces to half. Bake them in an oven. As soon as they have become yellowish-brown, stop baking them.


Sentence 1

Hint: not really a 'sentence' in English. Just a noun phrase.

rqutlúhaurqandúrà rqyqlaqlyqþùhysta

  r          (k/i)u tl    (w/e)ú hau         rqa(n/a)   tú    r(n/a)à
  evidence   case   class val    stem        affix      affix degree
  experience GEN    body  P.     tongue/nose impression good  very
This evidence indicates that the speaker (or writer) has personally experienced what is talked about in this sentence.
genitive case: marks general modification. Here: a relative clause. The P. (the unmentioned patient) is the gap in the relative clause that refers to the main clause.
In derivation, denotes the impression created by the sensor it is suffixed to. So 'tongue + impression' = 'taste'.
A degree affix modifies the directly preceding morpheme only! So 'good + very' means 'very good'(sic!) and modifies the preceding word as one unit.
  rq        y    qla           qly   qþù     hy   sta
  class     case stem          affix affix   stem affix
  give-life PRD  food/beverage grain APP-COM body composed
                  \__bread_________/         \__flesh____/
Predicative case: the top-level word in the sentence. Simply: 'bread'.
Applicative for comitative case: this case expresses accompaniment, i.e. 'with ...'.
The gloss is a bit strange here: the affix denotes that which the thing is composed of it is attached to. A 'body' is composed of 'flesh', so that's the derivation.
Also 'meat'.

Sentence 2

n=gyn|áu=xuitsíndì rqyqlytlý rqyqlùihài tykù

  n=g        y    n|       áu    =xui       tsí   ndì
  mood       case class    val   stem       affix affix
  suggestive PRD  movement P+,A. go-through recip make
This mood is a weak imperative: no command, but a suggestion.
Related to perlative case: it indicates moving 'through' something.
Here: 'through' each other.

Inchoative aspect with an agent: indicates controlled work towards 'being through each other'.

This is lexicalised as 'to mix'.

  rq        y    qly   tlý
  class     case stem  affix
  give-life PAT  grain grind

grind: derivation: 'which is ground', 'which is to be ground'.

  rq        y    qlui(n/a) hài
  class     case stem      affix
  give-life PAT  plant     oil

oil: derivation: 'oil of _'.

Here: oil of plants = vegetable oil.

  t      y    kù
  class  case stem
  matter PAT  salt

Sentence 3

  n=g        y    ks       ỳ     hhú  tsu   qþ(x/u)a(k/i) sù        hù
  mood       case class    val   stem affix affix         stem      stem
  suggestive PRD  relation P*,A* add  PASS  APP-LOC       necessary water
                                                          {_PAT___} {_AGT_}

As an additional help (also for other sentences), I marked the patient and agent the valence says P*,A*, so they follow in that order in the word. The first stem after the nucleus is 'necessary', and thus that is the start of the patient. After that, the stem 'water' starts the agent.

A passive construction!

Applicative for locative case.

The locative here is a notional one, i.e., it indicates 'in the state/event of ...'.

Hint: The incorporated locative lost some interesting mood prefix by the incorporation, which must be inferred here. To give a hint: it lost its 'conditional' mood prefix, and an 'if-then' construction is expressed in Qþyn|gài by using 'conditional' mood in the 'if' clause and making the 'if' clause a locative adjunct to the 'then' clause.

Sentence 4

  n=g        y    tr        u     n|àu n|(x/u)a(k/i) nda   =>
  mood       case class     val   stem affix         affix =>
  suggestive PRD  spacetime P*,A. side be-at         cause =>

  => qla           qly   sta
  => stem          affix affix
  => food/beverage grain composed
In derivation: 'be located at _'.
side + be-at
'at the side'
LOCATION + be-at + cause
'put (in)to LOCATION'

Sentence 5

n=gy=káutìrándì||kùi tlyhystaqþiuhiqþundìndáu

  n=g        y    =k      áu    tì   rá     ndì   ||kùi
  mood       case class   val   stem degree affix affix
  suggestive PRD  measure P+,A. high a-bit  make  knife
high + a-bit flat
flat + make make flat / flatten
flatten + knife to slice
  tl    y    hy   sta      qþ(k/i)u  hi        qþu   ndì    ndáu
  class case stem affix    affix     stem      affix affix  affix
  body  PAT  body composed APP-GEN   hot-water like  become be-complete
             \__flesh____/           \__boil______________/
An applicative for genitive case. Genitive marks general modification.
boil + be-complete
The completed action of boiling (perfective aspect of 'to boil').

Sentence 6

n=gyn|áu=xuitsíndaqþù tlyhàihùndaqlùi tlyhaurqàndatsahai tykùn!gài||kùihhìu

  n=g        y    n|       áu    =xui       tsí   nda   qþù
  mood       case class    val   stem       affix affix affix
  suggestive PRD  movement P+,A. go-through recip cause APP-COM

cause: in contrast to 'make', this is a resultative causative, which concentrates on the result of the action. In English, the translation is quite probably the same.

  tl    y    hài  hù    nda   qlui(n/a)
  class case stem affix affix affix
  body  PAT  eye  water cause plant
  tl    y    hau         rqa(n/a)     nda   tsa(`/a) hai
  class case stem        affix        affix affix    affix
  body  PAT  tongue/nose impression   cause ANTIP    thing
antipassive valence shift: here, the 'causer' is expressed as the patient
denotes the patient of an action. So 'cause + antip + thing' = 'it which causes' = 'causer' (a thing, not a person)
  t      y    kù   !k(`/a)ài   ||kùi hhìu
  class  case stem number      affix affix
  matter PAT  salt known-cnt   knife head
number ending indicating a known number. Here, 'salt' is counted. Still, number endings may be attached an must be interpreted as 'amount' endings. What follows a known-cnt morpheme is the clarified amount.
knife + head
point of a knife / pinch

Sentence 7

  n=g        y    n|       u     =xui       tsí   ndì   hí           =>
  mood       case class    val   stem       affix affix affix        =>
  suggestive PRD  movement P*,A. go-through recip make  hand-or-foot =>

  => qla           qly   sta
  => stem          affix affix
  => food/beverage grain composed
In derivation: 'with hand or foot', 'using hand or foot' (you should choose which one is appropriate here... :-) )

Sentence 8

  n=g        y    ql       u     stí  ndì      hí           hhíu  =>
  mood       case class    val   stem affix    affix        affix =>
  suggestive PRD  creation P*,A. ripe become   hand-or-foot abl-3 =>

  => tru    tà    hh(x/u)au táu   r(n/a)à  r(`/a)ài qly   qlù(`/a)
  => stem   affix affix     affix degree   degree   affix affix
  => planet shape like      size  very     known    grain life
     \__sphere_______/                              \_seed___/
ripe + become
make-ripe: Here: 'to prepare', 'to make'.
An 3rd person pronoun in ablative case: ablative case indicates the origin: 'from it'. This is a derivational suffix adding a pronoun adjunct. I did not mention that above, but such a thingy also exists. :-)
size + very
know degree: modified by a suffixed measure (just like with the known number, but this is a degree that modifies 'large'). Remember that degrees only modifiy the directly preceding morpheme, which is thus applied, *after* being modified with that degree.
In derivation, it means 'a life-causing _'.
grain + life

Sentence 9

  n=g        y    n|       ỳ     =xíu hí           tsu   qþý     =>
  mood       case class    val   stem affix        affix affix   =>
  suggestive PRD  movement P*,A* push hand-or-foot PASS  APP-TER =>

  => tì   rá     tru    tà    hh(x/u)au
  => stem degree stem   affix affix
  => high a-bit  planet shape like

APP-TER: Applicative in terminative case: expresses the final destination or goal of a movement or action. Here, it is used notationally: 'toward the state of (being) _'.

Sentence 10

  n=g        y    =k      u     =>
  mood       case class   val   =>
  suggestive PRD  measure P*,A. =>

  => tì   rá     ndì   ||xy   hai   n|y    n|(x/u)a(k/i) nda   =>
  => stem degree affix affix  affix affix  affix         affix =>
  => high a-bit  make  thusly thing center be-at         cause =>

  => hy   sta
  => stem affix
  => body composed
       In derivation: 'the center of _'.

Sentence 11

  n=g        y    tr        ỳ     n|à(k/i) tsí   ndì   tsu   !kái   qþý     =>
  mood       case class     val   stem     affix affix affix number affix   =>
  suggestive PRD  spacetime P*,A* on-top   recip make  PASS  one    APP-TER =>

  => hui         !kíu(`/a) hh(k/i)u !kái   hh(k/i)u
  => stem        number    affix    number stem
  => some-amount two       part     one    part
In derivation: 'one _' (with states or entities) or 'once _' (with actions or events).
Erm: same with 2: 'two _' or 'twice _'.
A certain amount (or extension) of something: here, the amount is specified by a suffix.

In derivation, means 'part of _'. With a number suffix N, means 'N parts of _'.

As a stem, it means either 'part' or 'piece'.

X + two + part + one
'half of X' = 'X two times and 1 part of that'

Sentence 12

  n=g        y    ql       i(k/i)  stí  ndì    ksì   kà    st(w/y)ỳ
  mood       case class    val     stem affix  affix affix affix
  suggestive PRD  creation A.,P.   ripe become room  warm  use
                                   \__bake in oven___________/

Sentence 13

  n=g        y    ql       u     stí  ndì    ||kí  qþ(x/u)a(k/i) =>
  mood       case class    val   stem affix  affix affix         =>
  suggestive PRD  creation P*,A. ripe become stop  APP-LOC       =>

  => qlái sta      ky     kài    ndì    ndáu
  => stem affix    affix  affix  affix  affix
  => land composed colour yellow become be-complete
In derivation: 'stop _'
In derivation: 'yellow(ish) _'


Bread with meat that [by own experience] tastes very good

[Suggestively,] mix together flour, vegetable oil, salt. If (it is) necessary, [suggestively] let water be added. Put aside dough.

From (readily) boiled meat make flat pieces with a knife. Mix with onion, spices, (and the) point of a knife's amount of salt.

Knead dough. From it prepare with hands spheres large-sized like seeds. Let spheres be pushed (to being) flat with hands. Put meat into center of the thusly flattened.

Let pieces be folded once to being 1-out-of-2 amounts. Bake. When (they) have become yellowish-brown, stop preparation.

Native Script

Relay 11 Text in Qþyn|gài Native Script


y [@] schwa
r [X] voiceless uvular fricative
hh [X\] voiceless pharyngeal fricative
þ [T] voicelsss dental fricative
no accent mid level tone
acute rising tone
grave falling tone

All others correspond roughly to the IPA value denoted by the letter.



Qþyn|gài is a polysynthetic language, meaning words contain a lot of morphology where other languages prefer syntax to express the concepts.

The language is split-S, meaning the core cases are agentive and patientive, where agentive is assigned by control. Without control, patientive case is assigned. Word order is VOS (or better VPA).

The language has a lot of adjunct cases, but only a few occur here. Adjunct modifiers precede the modified phrase.

Because the Qþyn|gài grammar is so different from English, the text is presumably quite hard to translate without good hints. Therefore, I will give you a long grammar description, lexicon, the interlinears, and hints for translation. Sorry in advance for all that text.

One important feature of Qþyn|gài is the lack of a destinction between content word classes. Further, there is no strict difference between clauses, phrases and words, so English prepositions are expressed in the same way as English conjunctions, namely by case. (There is no difference in 'Peter goes [to the party].' and 'Peter goes [where people meet]'. Both [] would simply be put into the same 'case', namely allative, indicating direction: in the first example, the noun phrase 'the party' would carry the case, in the second, the whole phrase 'people meet' would.

Also, coordinations like 'and' are usually not explicitly expressed, but rather implied by juxtaposing words in the same case. In this text, it is *never* used, although the English translation most certainly contains 'and'.


The following principles are needed to decompose a Qþyn|gài sentence:


Derivation happens inside words:

A suffix may modify a preceding sub-sequence of a word (there are no derivational prefixes). This is called derivation. The lexicon defines precisely what the derivation means. There are no ad-hoc composites, so the meaning is always clear.

In the interlinear, derivation looks like this:

... blah blup
... stem affix
... be-flat cause

The vocab will give:

  cause = derivation: cause (to be) _ (adds an agent)

You can then derive the meaning of 'blahblup' as 'to cause to be flat' or 'flatten'.

A sequence of derivation is always started by a morpheme marked as 'stem'.


Saturation is the process of adding agent and patient (the arguments) to a predicate. Since Qþyn|gài is fluit-S, there are no global constraints on what a predicate needs in order to be saturated. As a rule of the thumb, predicates without A or P translate as nouns, with only A as intransitive verbs, with A and P as transitive verbs and with only P as adjectives. (This is not generally true, but is a good hint for imagination.)

Arguments always follow their predicate. The usual order is VOS, i.e. predicate patient agent. In the text given here, there is no exception from this normal order.

Every predicate carries a valence infix to clarify what arguments exist, which are incorporated, and which are free words in the sentence. The general sentence structure is:

  predicate (patient) (agent).

The predicate may also carry incorporated patients and agents in the same order, so we get:

  [predicate(+patient)(+agent)] (patient) (agent)

(Only one patient and agent may be there each.)

The [] indicates that there this is all one word. Whether there is a agent and/or patient and whether it is incorporated or a free word is indicated by a valence infix:

Valence indicates a) a conceptional valence, indicating what arguments are there by the concept of the word, and b) a syntactical valence, indicating which of the conceptual arguments really occur in the sentence.

A valence infix is abbreviated as follows: letters A and P indicate which arguments occur conceptually (agent and/or patient). Following these letters, either + follows, meaning the argument is a free word, or * follows, meaning the argument is incorporated in the same word, or . follows, meaning the argument is not mentioned in the sentence and must be inferred from context.

If both A and P are followed by *, the order given in the valence is the same order as for the arguments; as mentioned, it is actually always P before A here.

Example interlinears 1:

Word 1:
       xyz   blah
   ... val   stem

Word 2:

This means that Word 2 is the free agent (A+) of the predicate in Word 1. For clarity, Word 2 will be marked to have AGT case, i.e., it is the agent. However, the actual infix for PRD, AGT and PAT case is always the same, since the core cases are marked at the head, but it might help with the translation.

Example interlinears 2:

... xyz   blah bleh  blup blu
... val   stem affix stem affix

This means that [blup blu] is the incorporated agent of [... xyz blah blah]. The beginning of the second constituent is marked by 'stem' under 'blup'.

Example interlinears 3:

... xyz   blah bleh  blup blu
... val   stem affix stem affix

This means that [blup blu] is the incorporated patient of [... xyz blah blah].

Example interlinears 4:

 Word 1:
    ... xyz   blah bleh  blup blu
    ... val   stem affix stem affix

 Word 2:

This means that [blup blu] is the incorporated patient of [... xyz blah blah] and Word 2 is the agent of that predicate.

For clarity, arguments will be additionally marked as agent and patient to make translation easier in the first few sentences (in curly braces).

In short: first look at the valence, then cut out the incorporated constituents by splitting at 'stem' morphemes.


Adjuncts may be added to a word in many different cases. They always precede the modified predicate in this text.

More information will be given locally.

Example interlinear:

Word 1:
   ... blup bla
   ... case stem
       LOC  room

Word 2:
   foo      barr bleh
   class    case stem
   sentient PRD  'person'

This is the word 'person' in predicative case with a locative case adjunct 'room'. It can be translated as 'a/the person(s) in a/the room(s)'.


Qþen|gái has a device called applicative with which an adjunct can be incorporated into a word it modifies. For this, it is transformed into a patient. To do this, a derivational ending is added to the word to indicate this transformation. With such an ending, the adjunct is added normally by saturation: it can occur inside the word, or freely.

This is probably the one operation that confuses the structure the most. Let's incorporate the 'room' from the previous example:

Example interlinear:

baha       barr foo      utu bleh     tur      bla
evidence   case class    val stem     affix    stem
perception PRD  sentient P*  'person' APP-LOC  room

The translation is the same: 'person in room'. Note the differences: 'person' got an affix 'APP-LOC' indicating that the patient of this word has the same function as a locative adjunct would have. Because the valence of 'person' is now non-null (it has a patient now), other things change: It needs an evidence prefix now, and it gets a valence infix indicating the presence of the patient (P) and its realisation as an incorporated part of the word (P*).

This example also shows a typical word: it begins with a prefix for evidence/mood, case, class, and valence, and then comes the content. Evidence/mood and valence may be missing if the valence is zero. *All* Qþyn|gài words are composed like this.

valence shifts
Valence can be shifted with a derivational affix; there are three operations in the text:
passive (pass)

The patient is made the agent:

Example interlinear 1:

baha       barr foo      apu   bleh     bla
evidence   case class    val   stem     stem
perception PRD  sentient A.,P* 'digest' 'water'

Translation: 'Someone digests water.' The valence is A.,P*: an agent is unmentioned, so we translate 'someone' here, and the patient is incorporated: 'water'.

Example interlinear 2:

baha       barr foo      qi    bleh     tup   bla
evidence   case class    val   stem     affix stem
perception PRD  sentient A*    'digest' PASS  'water'

Translation: 'Someone digests water.' The valence is A*: the incorporated agent 'water' is the patient of 'digest', since the PASS affix remaps patients to agents. The original unmentioned agent is now totally hidden after the valence shift.

Note that no focus change occurs: this is no voice, just a syntactic change, nothing more. Valence shifts are normally used to incorporate more: e.g. to make place for an incorporated adjunct, which occupies a patient argument, often a passive construction is used. So you may occasionally see the sequence:

... PASS ... APP-CASE ...

in the interlinears: first a passive moves patient to agent, then an applicative adds another patient.

antipassive (antip)

Just the other way around: an agent becomes a patient:

Example interlinear 1:

baha       barr foo      apu   bleh     bla
evidence   case class    val   stem     stem
perception PRD  sentient A*,P. 'digest' 'dog'

Translation: 'a dog digests something.' A* = incorporated agent 'dog' P. = unmentioned patient

Example interlinear 2:

baha       barr foo      qi    bleh     tup   bla
evidence   case class    val   stem     affix stem
perception PRD  sentient P*    'digest' ANTIP 'dog'

Translation: 'a dog digests something.' P* = incorporated patient 'dog', which is actually the agent of 'digest' as indicated by the ANTIP affix.

The original unmentioned patient is hidden by this operation.

reciprocal (recip)
agent and patient act on each other. This is quite a special derivational affix and the derived meaning is always given. So don't bother about the details, you'll be given the meaning of the derivation.

All Qþyn|gài words carry a case infix. As mentioned, case is the equivalent of prepositions, postpositions, and conjunctions of other languages. Prepositions and postpositions are appropriate translations when a word is translated as a noun, and conjunctions are appropriate when the translation is a verb or clause.

Apart from case, the second mandatory category is mood/evidence. Every word with a non-zero valence, i.e., with conceptual arguments, needs to carry a mood or an evidence marker.


Each word is broken up in three different ways. The first line gives the morpheme in Qþyn|gài, the second gives the kind of morpheme, the third a hint of the meaning or function. The fourth line will give additional meanings of derived words.

The following morpheme kinds will occur:

mood or evidence

Every word that has arguments (agents or patients) must carry a mood or evidence marker. It clarifies the speakers position wrt. the truth value of the given predication.


A case infix. Since Qþyn|gài is primarily head-marking, agents, patients and predicates are all marked in predicative case.

Whether a word is agent or patient can be looked up at its the predicate of that clause: the valence infix clarifies the function.


Every word carries a class consonant for the main stem. Since the translations of the stems are given, it can be safely ignored here and even should be ignored, since the class might be misleading, since the class assignment is very vague and abstract.


A valence infix. This marks whether agent and/or patient are given in the sentence, and which arguments the predicate has.


A degree, which modifies the directly preceding word constituent. There are vague, course-grained, fine-grained, and integer degrees. The lexicon entry will give the meaning.


A lexicon entry carrying content information. Note again that there is no formal distinction of verbs or nouns. However, the valence carries much of the class information of other languages.

A stem is the first morpheme in a sequence of derivation.


Like a stem, but used derivationally.

Brackets below the words will sometimes show special translations, because many derivations are lexicalised due to a specialised meaning.

Sorry that this is so long, but I don't think it's easy to decode the text otherwise... %-/

If you need even more info, either ask or look at: http://www.theiling.de/conlang/s7/

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June 14th, 2005
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? You can drop me a line.