Tesяfkǝm: A Constructed Language (S11)


The morphological words often combine to large phonological words by cliticising processes. The harmony and sandhi sections describe these.

Tesяfkǝm constituents are composed using heavy cliticising processes.

All nominal phrase (NP) constituents are the nuclei of phonological words. Prefixes and suffixes may be attached to form larger NPs. Furthermore, pro- and enclitics may attach to give larger phonological words. The most frequently used class of these clitics are verbs (V). Furthermore, conjunctions, evidence/mood particles are all clitics.

There are three different sets of harmony/sandhi rules for forming words: one for attaching affixes, another for attaching verbs, and yet another attaching other clitics. (Verbs are actually a special kind of enclitics.) See the sandhi and vowel harmony chapters for details.

To V constituents, suffixes may be attached to form new Vs.

The RES and SNP particles essentially behave like the category they are used for: either noun or verb.

Conjunctions are enclitics to nouns: they attach to the last word of the previous clause.

All VP constituents are suffixed to the previous constituent and together, they form one phonological word.

Evidence/mood particles are suffixed to an NP before the VP is suffixed. If verbs with a dropped noun start the sentence, the evidence/mood particle may be the very first element in the sentence.


Tesяfkǝm distinguishes the followin kinds of lexicon entries: an open categories, 'substantives' (i.e., 'nouns' and 'verbs': this is one category), and two closed categories, 'affixes' and 'clitics'.

Stems may be derived from one-another and are in fact often even used almost unchanged (except harmony changes).

The most common correspondence is for nouns of the type 'the entity which is (a) X' and verbs of the type 'to be (a) X'. E.g. 'human'~'be (a) human', 'president'~'be a president', 'blue one'~'be blue', etc.. The correspondence is that those verbs are states and the corresponding noun is an entity in that state. Substantives can be used without modification as noun or verb to refer to entities or the predicate resp.

Mass nouns are handled in the same way: the set the predicate describes can be viewed as not a set of single entities, but a set of the mass. So the mass noun 'money' used as a verb means 'to be money'.

Events are derived substantives: they require a suffix to a lexicon entry. An eventive noun refers to the given event, while when used as a verb refers to the action: 'the crash' vs. 'to crash'.

Most lexicon entries are states. A verb 'to become cooking' is most probably derived from 'to be cooking', a state verb. So 'eventive' is considered an inflection for aspect.


Most affixes are suffixes, few are prefixes. There are two classes of affixes: 1) those that modify stems, 2) those that modify other affixes. Both types of affixes form closed lexicon classes and both must be known to correctly parse Tesяfkǝm.

Taking affixes modified by other affixes as single units, affixation always produces left branching tree structures, i.e., an affix always modifies the whole stem it attaches too.


Clitics are independent stems that work in clause level but still attach to phonological words, i.e., they do not modify stems, but the whole clause.

Clitics are mostly suffixed, but there are a few that are prefixed.

Derivation and Inflection

Derivation is the process of deriving (morphological) words from other (morphological) words. In Tesяfkǝm, derivation is totally regular. Anyway, there may be occasional ad-hoc compounds, which are lexicalised, which a meaning not regularly (but often easily) derivable from the components. In contrast to many natural languages, regular derivation may work by suffixing substantives to other substantives, i.e., many substantives have a derivational usage.

The remaining part of this section will list different categories of affixation.


This is a mandatory clausal category. Mood/evidence particles are inserted after the initial NP in a sentence and by this, they also indicate where a clause starts and secondarily, this marks the topic: the first NP in a sentence is the topic.

Tesяfkǝm uses the same evidence/mood system as Qþyn|gài.


Tense is optional.

Tense is relative (in subordinative clauses, the tense of the main clause is the default) and may be stacked to derive things like future-in-past tense, etc.


Aspect is usually mandatory. All nouns and verbs are stative by default. All basic lexicon entries are static, unary verbs, i.e., predicates. When verbs are used without modification as nouns, they denote a subset of entities for which the predicate is true. Examples: 'to be a dog' is a verbal lexicon entry and this used as a noun means 'dog'/'dogs'; 'to be blue' is a verb, the noun means 'a blue one'/'blue ones'. n-ary states (e.g. binary: 'to touch' in 'the table touches the wall') are expressed by clauses. The link between the noun-verb pairs is implicitly drawn by serial verb construction.

For forming events, derived words must be formed from stative lexicon entries using aspectual affixes.

Aspectual affixes may be dropped from verbs in an SVC if they are equal to preceding verbs that describe the same event.

List all these suffixes.


Number is not grammaticalised. To express number, use 'many', 'few', 'one', 'two', 'zero' etc. together with the normal means of grammar to combine.


Tesяfkǝm distinguishes 7 'persons', the standard 3rd person being split:

1. the speaker
2. the listener
3a. some noun not mentioned in the sentence
3b. some noun from the very same clause
3c. some noun from the outer matrix clause
3d. some noun from a subordinate clause
3e. 'someone': non-specific person
3f. 'one', fr. 'on', dt. 'man': general collective person

'Pronouns' in Tesяfkǝm are actually noun derivations and thus affixes, so the term 'pronoun' is misleading and should not be used. There are no independent noun stems for pronouns. Instead, any noun may be modified with a pronominal affix, which is semantically an apposition ('human-1' would mean 'I/we, the human(s)'). What comes closest to neutral pronouns for human beings would be 'human-1', 'human-2', 'human-3', etc., or 'that-one-1' ..., i.e., the noun 'human' or a demonstrative modified with the respective pronominal ending. Of course, for referring to things, 'human' is not used, but different nouns are.

Tesяfkǝm is pro-drop, so often the pronouns affixes and even nouns are not used but must be inferred from context.




The possessive is expressed by using the modified noun in construct state. Forming the construct state is irregular, so both the absolute and the construct state are defined in the lexicon for each substantive.

The modifying noun directly precedes the modified.

Construct state is used only for inalienable possession. Tesяfkǝm has no alienable possession construction.

The inalienable possessive links two substantives to express an inherent part-of relation, which may be concrete ('his arm') or abstract ('his mind', 'his wisdom'). This operation is the only binary relation in Tesяfkǝm grammar.

Some words, e.g. body parts, only exist in construct state, there is no absolute state. So they cannot be used on their own but require a possessor. Other nouns lack the construct state, e.g. the word for 'God', which only has an absolute state.

For expressing alienable possessive, Tesяfkǝm uses a relative clause.

Modifiers of a construct state construction (e.g. relative clauses) always modify the construct state stem, i.e., the possessed, never the possessor.

In the special case when a possessor in a construct state construction is to be modified, special care has to be taken. You cannot directly express 'the big man's hat' in Tesяfkǝm but only 'the man's big hat': 'big-MOOD-REL man hat.CONSTR.'. To express 'the big man's hat', a juxtaposition with an anaphora is often use, e.g. 'big-MOOD-REL man this-3b-hat.CONSTR', lit.'the big man his hat'. This is no coordination, but uses the same syntactical structure. To prevent interpretation as modification, an explicit '-AND' infix has to be used for expressing coordination (e.g. for 'the big man and his hat').


Attributive verb constructions are expressed as relative clauses. E.g. 'The red car' = 'car-MOOD-red RES' or 'MOOD-red-REL car'.



No coordination particle needs to be used, the nouns may simply be juxtaposed. For emphasis and for expressing anything but 'and', use an infixed enclitic between the coordinated nouns.

See the section about construct state for an example of coordination that carries special meaning.


A sequence of verbs is interpreted like a serial verb construction. Otherwise, coordination works just like with nouns with infixed coordination particles.

Are these coordination particles proclitical?


Tesяfkǝm is pro-drop, so nouns and verbs can simply be dropped to create a gap.

Define what function a gap may have.


Tesяfkǝm uses the same number system as Tyl Sjok and Qþyn|gài.

When counting nouns, numbers are used in construct state with the counted noun used as a possessor.

One-Syllable Stems

Stems with only one syllable are reserved for particles and very frequent substantives in S11. Due to the restricted phonotactics, there are only few of these stems, so we list them here.

a ı u e o
p- pa pu pe po
- - - - -
t- ta tu te to
- - - - -
k- ka ku ke ko
- - - - -
s- sa su se so
- - - - -
h- ha hu he ho
- - - - -
p-p pap pıp pup pep pop
- - - - -
t-p tap tıp tup tep top
- - - - -
k-p kap kıp kup kep kop
- - - - -
s-p sap sıp sup sep sop
- - - - -
h-p hap hıp hup hep hop
- - - - -
p-t pat pıt put pet pot
- - - - -
t-t tat tıt tut tet tot
- - - - -
k-t kat kıt kut ket kot
- - - - -
s-t sat sıt sut set sot
- - - - -
h-t hat hıt hut het hot
- - - - -
p-k pak pık puk pek pok
- - - - -
t-k tak tık tuk tek tok
- - - - -
k-k kak kık kuk kek kok
- - - - -
s-k sak sık suk sek sok
- - - - -
h-k hak hık huk hek hok
- - - - -
October 28th, 2007
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