up contents
Home Up: Tyl-Sjok--An Artificial Isolating Human Previous: Selected Words Next: Numbers



The   following sections will list different categories of particles: those that change the kind of a sentence (e.g. question particles), those that change the syntax structure of a sentence (e.g. relative clause particles), those that disambiguate the meaning, those that stress or modify the emphasis of the sentence and those that show the status of the sentence (e.g. whether it is an assumption or a proposition, etc.).

For expressing mode (indicative, conditional), tense (past, present, future, etc.), or aspects (perfective, durative, repetitive, etc.), no particles are needed, since normal auxiliary clause constructions can be used. See Chapter 5 for a discussion.

FIXME: Will there be a topic marker? Will there be a particle to make attributive vs. referential interpretation clear?.

Mood Changing Particles

A yes-no question particle. Classifying this as a verb asking for the existence of its patient seems odd, since the verb would have a strange meaning. So it shall be analysed as a particle.

You drink YN coffee
Do you drink coffee?

As you can see, the particle immediately preceeds the item that is asked for (`coffee'). See the difference:

You YN drink coffee
Will you drink (the) coffee?
Do you drink coffee? (Or do you eat it?)

For a question with several (typically non-exclusive) alternatives, several YN particles may be used in one sentence. (Note that the Tyl-Sjok word for `or' is under-specified wrt. whether it is inclusive or exclusive (as in English)).

You drink YN coffee or YN tea
Do you drink coffee or tea? (which one? both? none?)

In contrast to this:

You YN drink coffee or tea
Will you drink coffee or tea? (Do you drink any of them? Yes or no?)


Negation particle. This does not reverse the meaning (i.e. `NEG good' is not the same as `bad'), but simply states that the underlying phrase is not valid or does not exist.

I drink NEG coffee
I don't drink coffee.

As before, the particle immediately preceeds the item that is negated. Compare this to German, where the only possible translation of the above sentence is `Ich trink keinen Kaffee.' (`I drink no coffee').

FIXME: Clarify how to reverse a meaning, if that is possible.


Assume with a slight doubt that the proposition is correct.

You drink ASS coffee
You do drink coffee, don't you?
== I assume you drink coffee (i.e., not tea), right?

In this sentence, `coffee' was marked by ASS. Please see the difference:

You ASS drink coffee
You will drink (the) coffee, won't you?
You drink coffee, don't you? (You don't eat it, do you?)

To stress the second of the above interpretations, use a NEAR particle:

You ASS NEAR drink coffee
You drink coffee, don't you? (You don't eat it, do you?)

Category Changing Particles



FIXME: Maybe this particle is not needed but can be expressed by a regular verb. Or by an aspect changing particle (compare English: `I have got' denotes a predicate nowadays)..

The verb modifier particle RESULT marks the result of an action. This transforms active to stative verbs, or put differently, nouns denoting the result can be formed.

The RESULT particle is either as a patient to an active verb, or as a verb for a stative verb or noun. E.g.:

die tex2html_wrap_inline7397 die RESULT to be dead, death
lay tex2html_wrap_inline7397 lay RESULT to lie
one tex2html_wrap_inline7397 RESULT one to unite, to agree (+ `mind')

Note: compare the latin word `unanimus'.

When used as a verb, note the slight difference between the causative particle cause and the RESULT particle:

one tex2html_wrap_inline7397 our mind cause one We cause an agreement.
tex2html_wrap_inline7397 our mind RESULT one We agree.

The causative particle stresses the control of the action, while the resultative particle stresses the result (control is expressed by syntax anyway).

FIXME: Find sentences where an English translation makes the difference absolutely clear..


FIXME: Maybe this particle is not needed but can be expressed by a regular verb: `to make', `to cause'..

The verb modifer particle CAUSE transforms a predicate into a verb describing the action that lead to that state. This particle transforms states into events.

red tex2html_wrap_inline7397 CAUSE red to redden, get red

Syntax Changing Particles

This section lists particles that totally change the meaning of a sentence which would not be a possible interpretation without them.

marks the word in the sub-ordinate clause that is referred to in the matrix clause. If it is missing, either the whole sentence (the verb, resp.), or the agent or an patient is used as previously described.

REF is called the relative clause reference particle or reference particle.

Note that this particle also makes clear which of the possible sentences is the relative clause.

FIXME: The following examples put strange in the wrong position as a sentence modifier..

The sentence

REF man read book strange.

means `The man who reads a book is strange.' This particle is often used together with a START or END particle (see next section) if a default phrase boundary would be preferred at a different place without the REF particle. This helps the listener.

E.g. because the minimum attachment principle would suggest `book' + `strange' to attach first, the above sentence has a small garden path of one word: `strange', after which the listener might expect the main clause to follow, until they realise that the matrix clause has already ended. The garden path can be prevented by saying:

REF man read book END strange.

Nevertheless, both sentences are perfectly fine.

The REF particle may be used before the verb to mark the whole phrase:

strange man read book REF.
It is strange that the man reads a book.

Of course, the verb may be marked:

man REF read book END strange.
It is strange how the man reads a book.
`The man's (way of) reading of the book is strange.'

Rarely, the verb may also be used as a verb in the matrix clause:

I man REF read book newspaper.
I read a newspaper, which the man does with the book.

FIXME: Should we allow this?? Is a brain capable of understanding this?? There are comparative auxiliary clauses that can be used for this. Use a sentence reference pronoun instead..

FIXME: This construction is a bit strange, it should be *before* the sentence..

In Tyl-Sjok, a reference particle may not be applied more than once to a word. You might want to do this if you have an embedding depth of more than two, but it is explicitly disallowed due to problem in understanding. Use simpler structures instead. E.g., more sentences.

Note that this construction is rare. Usually, REF marks fully saturated structures only (although in the last example, it is in front of the verb instead of at the beginning of the sentence).


The NULL particle marks a non-filled position that is not filled by the context (so it is not an elliptic particle, no clitic, etctex2html_wrap_inline7395). It always marks a fully saturated constituent.

E.g. NULL can be used to change the verb go-to into destination by filling its patient slot.

go-to NULL DET
This is the destination.

Or it forms `builder' by attaching to the agent slot of `to build':

rich person DET house NULL build
The builder of this house is a rich person.

NULL tends to be left out in Tyl-Sjok if the context makes the meaning clear.

A REF SKIP sequence is essentially the same as NULL. Tyl-Sjok has a NULL particle, because it is used much more often than a SKIP particle and should be short. NULL is used for forming new words a lot.

At the end of the following paragraph, it can be seen how a NULL particle is marked with a REF particle. This is allowed in Tyl-Sjok, while REF REF sequences are considered too complicated.


The SKIP particle syntactially fills a position in the sentence that will not be referred to, but must be filled to mention another position. See the difference in the following sentences:

love SKIP I
I love someone.

If must use this particle here, since there is no other way to skip the patient position of the verb. English uses the word `someone' to skip the unmentioned position, but Tyl-Sjok has a special particle for that.

The following sentence shows the difference with the NULL particle.

love NULL I
the one whom I love

Here, the NULL particle marks the clear referent of the phrase. It marks that the phrase is used to describe someone unmentioned. This is totally different from SKIP.

Note that the SKIP particle may be used with determiners, too:

love WHICH SKIP you
Whom do you love?

You might expect the NULL particle here, but the NULL particle means something different. It would be an awkward sentence, the translation of which being complicated:

love WHICH NULL you
`You love the one who would be asked for in this sentence if it was a question.'

The following illustrates the usage of both particles on one sentence.

stupid love SKIP NULL.
People you are in love are stupid.

More particles might be used:

love happy love SKIP REF NULL exceed hate SKIP NULL I
I love those who are in love who are happier than those who hate.


The SEQ particles is used for co-ordination of phrases. It is a binary particle that translates to `and', `or', `but', etc., depending on context. The precise meaning may be made clear with additional sentence-initial verbs.

I drink coffee SEQ tea
I drink coffee and tea.
I drink coffee or tea.

you drink YN coffee SEQ YN tea
you drink YN coffee YN tea
Do you drink coffee and/or tea?

you YN like visit theater SEQ cinema
Do you like to go to the theater or cinema?

I like theater SEQ NEG cinema
I like theater NEG cinema
I like (to go to) the theater but not to the cinema.

Syntactic Disambiguation Particles

  To disambiguate the construction of a sentence or to change the way of interpretation, the particles introduced in this section can be used. These particles can be view to do a coarse disambiguation.

mark the start and the end of a (sub-ordinate) clause. If the situation is clear, either one may be left out. The sub-ordinate clause then stretches to the boundary of the whole sentence (or as far as possible to keep the sentence grammatical).

For instance:

I read book END good
It is good that I read a/the book.


I read book good END

is still ambiguous and is even an odd construction, because the particle's focus is unlikely to span the whole sentence. The following is clear:

I read START book good
I read a good book.

It is possible to use two particles of the same kind:

I read book END good END strange
It is strange that it is good that I read a/the book.

FIXME: Give an example for START and END in the same sentence.


marks that a construction attaches the minimal possible amount of words. This means this particle stresses the minimal attachment principle.

I read book NEAR good

Means `I read a/the good book.' The particle is usable with some other particles, too, i.e. it is not restricted to be used with Rule 2.

FIXME: Should it be usable with a START or an END particle? This would result in weird constructions like `I read book good NEAR END'. I propose not to allow this.


this was listed already in the previous section. It is listed again here since it can be used to disambiguate the above sentence:

I read REF book good

means `The book that I read is good'. Please note that it cannot be decided which one is the relative clause (`I read a book [that is good]' or `I read books [that are good]' vs. `The book [that I read] is good' or `Books [that I read] are good') .

FIXME: Should we replace REF by a topic marker? It would not be the same kind of topic marker as in Japanese, because it would not be able to introduce own constituents. The only difference would be to be able to mark top-level structures. For what purpose ever. Maybe emphasis? But we have an emphatic particle and it may be a good idea to not mix up the reference particle and an emphatic particle, the one marking a semantic change, the other a pragmatic change..

Emphatic Particle

puts emphasis on the phrase behind the particle.

I read EMPH book.
It is a book that I read.

This particle can be used with a NEAR article:

I read EMPH book good.
It is a good book that I read.
It is good that it is a book that I read. (less likely interpretation)

I read book EMPH good.
It is a good book that I read (i.e. not a bad one).
It is good that I read a book (less likely interpretation).

I read EMPH NEAR book good.
It is a good book that I read (i.e. not a newspaper).

This is better expressed using a START particle:

I read START EMPH book good.
It is a good book that I read.

It is of course possible to use an END particle as well:

I read EMPH book END good.
It is good that it is a book that I read.

up contents
Home Up: Tyl-Sjok--An Artificial Isolating Human Previous: Selected Words Next: Numbers

Henrik Theiling
Sat Jun 9 18:52:24 CEST 2001