To make a word complete, one has to add a vowel to a stem. The
open vowel slot of a root may be filled with two alternative forms
of vowels: Vcase or Vval.
To make a word complete, a case affix Vcasemust be used. So
when adding a valence affix Vval, a new syllable is opened
at the beginning of the word to make space for a case affix. The consonant
that is needed is always a mood/evidence affix Cm/e.
I.e., there are two principles:
If you use a valence affix, you must also use a mood/evidence affix.
Qþyn|gài distinguishes between semantical valence and syntactical valence:
for a given semantical valence, the language allows arguments to
be left out. Both, this syntactical valence and the semantical valence
must be marked at the head.
To clarify the difference (and also the difference wrt. to English),
have a look at the following sentences.
Mary reads a book.
Mary works at a book.
In English, one would analyse 'to read' to have a semantical valence of
two (it takes a subject and an object), while 'to work' has a semantical valence
of one, since there cannot be a direct object. It you want to express the
object someone works at, you need to use an oblique object in English,
a prepositional adjunct, thus.
In sentence (1), the object of 'to read' is left out. So the syntactical valence is only one. In sentence (4), the syntactical
valence is also counted as one, because there is no direct object.
In English, however, there are cases where a syntactical valence of a
verb is still counted as two, because the sentence does not involve
a demotion (in sentence (1) above, the object is not mentioned because
it is unimportant). Such a sentence would be:
Mary eats and reads a book.
In example (5), the subject of 'to read' is not demoted, it is clearly
'Mary', who has simply been left out in the second clause. Therefore, one
still analyses that 'to read' in sentence (5) has a syntactical valence
Qþyn|gài works slightly differently. Semantical valence in Qþyn|gài would include
the consideration of importance/demotion, since this demotion is not
regarded as purely syntactical. The syntactical valence in Qþyn|gài
is taken to be the realisation at the very surface only, so when
you leave out -- for whatever reasons -- a subject or an object
(agent/patient in Qþyn|gài), the verb is marked for this. Thus the
syntactical valence would be different and the verb must be
marked for different syntactical valence in sentences (5) and (2).
Turning around the view, much of what is called semantical valence
in Qþyn|gài would be called syntactical valence in English. E.g. in
sentence (1) and (3), the verbs 'to read' and 'to work' would be
marked for a different semantical valence in Qþyn|gài due to the demotion
of the object. Sentences (3) and (4) are distinguished in the same
way as (1) and (2) -- there is no need to use an oblique object in (4) in
As has been mentioned, a head in Qþyn|gài may want up to two
Qþyn|gài is a fluid-S language: assignment of agent vs. patient
is done by control in Qþyn|gài and may be different for
the same predicate in different situations.
The semantic valence finely adjusts the meaning of
a word, e.g. it may change 'to fall' (pat) to 'to fell' (agt, pat):
in the case of 'to fall', there is no agent, while in the second,
The valence affix also marks the case when two arguments are
identical (reflexive valence), or act on each other (reciprocal).
Therefore, there are no reflexive pronouns in Qþyn|gài.
To abbreviate a semantical valence, we use the letters A and P for agent and patient, respectively.
After such a letter, a plus (+) or minus (-)
indicates whether the stem selects the corresponding argument.
E.g. P-,A+ would be the valence
that selects no patient but an agent. The minus-parts may
be left out. The order reflects the argument order after
To mark a reflexive link, two letters are joined with an equal
sign (=), e.g. P=A+ would be the reflexive version of P+,A+.
It selects only one argument that is understood as the agent
and the patient.
To mark a reciprocal link, two letters are joined with a hash symbol
(#), e.g. P#A+ is the reciprocal version
of P+,A+. It selects one argument (which must
consist of more than one entity) whose members are understood to
act on each other: as agent and patient and vice versa.
Syntactically, a head cannot select more arguments that its
semantical valence suggests. If an argument is left out, however,
it will be marked with an asterisk (.). E.g. the
syntactical valence P.,A+ is the semantical valence
P+,A+ where the patient is not made explicit
in the sentence.
When an argument is incorporated, the head marks this, too. We
use a period (*) to indicate this. Cores come before
free arguments, since they are incorporated into the predicate, so
the agent may be in front of the patient this way.
The following overview shows all combinations.
Normal P, A
Reversed A, P (for heavy NP shift)
In total there are 16 + 1 + 3 + 3 = 23 valence infixes that exist in Qþyn|gài.
Some valence affixes will use a vowel plus a prefix in the same way as case affixes
work. See also the table valence infixes.
Stems can be reduced to cores and then be suffixed to their head or
a sequence of other cores instead of being used as an own word.
The reversed versions are used for 'heavy NP shifts': Qþyn|gài likes
to have the lightweight NP first. If it becomes too heavy, the arguments
may be swapped. Note that this is a pragmatic preference and need not
be strictly followed.
Indirect objects are handled either with SVC (serial verb construction),
or by derivation ('to give' is one example that suffixes to the transferred
item) or with adjuncts.
Since valence is explicit in Qþyn|gài, one lexicon entry corresponds
to several words in English that have an implicit valence.
Lexicon entries together with zero-valence are usually states
in Qþyn|gài (states include entities in Qþyn|gài). The translation
in English is usually a noun. The same lexicon entry with
a higher valence often corresponds to a verb or adjective
in English. If unclear, the meaning of a lexicon entry is
given for several valences.
Often, the zero-valence translation corresponds to the patient
of the corresponding non-zero-valence translation, sometimes to
the agent, sometimes to the act. As stated before, there is a
tendency to have a state/entity meaning for the zero-valence
form (e.g. 'work' in zero-valence is 'worker', not 'work'),
a secondary preference is for the patient instead of the
agent (e.g. 'eat' in zero-valence is 'food', not 'eater').
Words are marked for valence. The arguments needed to satisfy
the valence constraints follow their head in the order defined
by the valence infix. Any of these may be missing, but must then
be marked as missing by the valence affix.
A head is said to be saturated if all arguments selected
by the syntactical valence are supplied (sic!). All arguments
needed for the semantical valence are then either supplied
or marked as missing in the valence infix.
A saturared head is also called a clause.
Everything that carries non-nullary valence also carries
mood/evidence information. There is no infix for nullary
valence: case infixes imply nullary valence. (Thus case
and valence infixes are disjoint sets of infixes.)
Patient and agent arguments can be incorporated into
the predicate. The incorporation is restricted
to simple arguments, meaning no prefixes are used,
no coordination or modification is applied to
Derivation is a process that is similar to
adding an adjunct to a clause, only derived
words incorporate such an 'adjunct'. The lexicon
contains information on what a stem means when
it is used during derivation. Often the meaning of
a stem is generalised.
Incorporated stems are suffixed to the predicate (before
the arguments), thus derivation is usually head-first, but not
clause-level modification is head-last by default.
This section lists a few subordination particles and prepositions
together with the translation in Qþyn|gài.
Peter was reading where Mary slept.
subordinate clause in locative case.
Peter was reading when Mary shot him.
subordinate clause in locative case and present tense
(note that tense is relative).
Mary was reading while Peter slept.
subordinate clause in perlative case and present tense
They talked about what had happened.
subordinate clause in topicative case
To stress the difference between where and when, which both
use locative case, you can use a somewhat awkward construction
like, e.g., 'at the time of Mary's sleeping', i.e., use
'mary sleeps'.genitive + 'time'.locative. The same disambiguation
can be used for all four temporalspatial cases.
Coordination is either done by juxtaposition, or by an enclitical coordination
particle. Juxtaposition means that the two constituents
that are coordinated occur next to each other in the same case. In this
form, it is sometimes ambiguous whether they modify each other or whether
they both modify another clause. Further, the type of coordination has
to be inferred ('and', 'or', 'but', etc. are all possible)
The dog and the person with the child where both reading.
Qþyn|gài really dislikes coordination, since it breaks the possibility
of incorporating the arguments into the predicate, so sentences get
more awkward. Therefore, native speakers have
a tendency to introduce referents one at a time, without the need
for coordinations like 'and'. E.g. it is typical to avoid
'Peter and Mary were talking to each other' (requires three words)
but instead to use 'Concerning Peter, Mary and him (lit.'together with him')
were talking to each other.' (awkward or even wrong in English, but
correct in Qþyn|gài and only requires two words).
Dislocation is the operation of moving away constituents from
their standard place in the clause to some other, non-standard
place, usually for pragmatic reasons, e.g. because a heavy
clause is preferred at the end of sentences. A
right-dislocation due to heaviness of a clause will be
Qþyn|gài has a preference of light-weight clause before heave ones
in the same way as many natural languages.
For this reason, Qþyn|gài provides means of dislocation of
arguments and adjuncts.
For arguments to predicates, the valence infix can be
changed to mark dislocation. This only applies to the
case where both patient and agent are free. Qþyn|gài has
valence markers for P+,A+ as well as A+,P+, the latter
being the non-standard order used for heavy-shifts.
In order to right-dislocate adjuncts, the shift is
be marked on the head using a dislocation infix.
The dislocated adjuncts will follow at the very end of
the sentence after the arguments. That infix can
only mark that dislocated adjuncts exist, but not
which ones. As a consequence, it is very uncommon
to mark the head and an argument to have
dislocated adjuncts. Strong pragmatic reasons,
however, might still lead to such a situation --
it is not prohibited.
The dislocation infix is inserted into the predicate just
before the stem carrying the valence information. It
never occurs as a word of its own. Adjuncts can only
be dislocated if their head carries a valence infix.
By juxtapositing clauses in the same case, apart from
the coordination 'and', a serial verb construction may
Qþyn|gài allows both agent and patient to be
shared in the construction. The initial agent/patient
occurs with the first predicate in a sequence, the
following predicates share those that the valence marks
to be implicit.
The meaning of a serial verb construction is either
a very closely related temporal sequence, or it marks
one action that all the predicates describe (the first
predicate is modified by the others, which give detailed
information about the manor), or it marks mere
A frequently used SVC is with the head 'to do' + patient,
which marks secondary, tertiary, etc. patients of complex
predicates. The precise meaning of such non-primary patients
will be clarified in the lexicon.
Some serial verb constructions may be incorporated by
simply sequencing the heads and handling them as one
head. In this case, the sharing of agent/patient is
implicit and must be derived from discourse. This
phenomenon is handled in the lexicon, too, by describing
those heads that allow this as derivational suffixes.
The third person in Qþyn|gài is split into several words
for reference. The following stems exist.
All of these pronouns may refer to another entity in the
discourse, or to a whole clause. (This is despite the
fact that the pronouns are derived from the root 'person',
which carries the 'sentient' classifier consonant).
Pronouns, when used as derivatives, have possessive
meaning, i.e. book + 3p = his/her/its/their book.
refers to some referent mentioned in the clause
before or after (usually in the matrix clause)
refers to a referent mentioned in the clause before
or after (usually in the matrix clause) which is
identical in grammatical function: e.g. if this is
used as an agent, it refers to the last agent. If
this is used as a patient, it refers to a patient.
Or in adjuncts, it refers to a thing in the same
Note that this is a derivation of x–hhy and the
refers to a referent mentioned in the clause before
or after (usually in the matrix clause) which is
just in the other function: e.g. if this is
used as an agent, it refers to the last patient.
Note that this is a derivation of x–hhy and the
refers to a referent not mentioned in the (matrix or auxiliary)
clause(s) before, but which is mentioned
earlier (or not at all) in discourse. This may also be
called 'the fourth person'.
Note that the effects of x–hhyràu and x–hhyráu
are implemented in many languages by a verbal category called
'switch reference'. The term is not appropriate for Qþyn|gài
since the implementation in Qþyn|gài is dependent-marking (at
the pronoun) instead of head-marking (at the verb).
Qþyn|gài does not have compounding, i.e., words consisting of several
morphemes are not composed in an unpredictable way. Instead,
they combine in a regular way. A regularly composed word may
still acquire usage, probably specialised usage, so that it
needs to be lexicalised, however.
The basic principle is that a suffixed stem will modify the
preceding stem sequence. Which modification is done will be
lexicalised. E.g., for typical tools, such as a 'hammer',
it will be lexicalised that they add an instrumental meaning,
i.e., 'work' + 'hammer' becomes 'to work with a hammer' (and
exactly this; the composition has no other meaning).
Some roots may have developed several stems that derive words
in different ways, e.g. it may be the case that stems like
'bottom' have shades 'on the bottom' and 'to the bottom (=down)'.
It is typical (but not necessary) that only one of such stems
occurs as a free stem, while both can be used for derivation.
On the other hand, the modification type may be underspecified
and depend on context. E.g. 'north' may have the modification
meaning 'from the north', 'in the north', 'to the north'
and 'through the north' (all relational cases). Any feasible
interpretation is then feasible. Again, such a vagueness or even
ambiguity will be lexicalised for the affix. Often, a derivation
of this type is lexicalised with a less vague meaning.
Derivation often changes the internal head of the derived
word, i.e., the derivational stem becomes the new head.
Stems like 'give', 'group', 'the one who _' have such a
modificational function: 'book' + 'give' => 'to give a book'.
'book' + 'give' + 'the one who _' => 'the one who gives the book'.
Note that the agent derivation, because it is the stem
of 'person', can only be used for humans. For non-human
agent derivation, you need to use antipassive valence shift +
patient derivation, which is derived from 'thing'.
Qþyn|gài features derivational suffixes that modify the meaning
of a head in the similar way an pronoun adjunct does. The
meaning is not exactly the same, in that the derivational
suffix is regarded more elegent, more natural, and
has a higher potential of forming idioms or lexical entries.
A free adjunct may be chosen when an additional stress or
focus on that adjunct is to be expressed (though the
derivational suffix allows a focus marker, too).
For each of Qþyn|gài's four persons, a roots exist that takes a case
vowel to form a derivational suffix expressing an incorporated
adjunct in that case. The following table shows the stems for
the pronouns and the corresponding incorporated adjunct roots,
which are converted to a stem by adding a case vowel.
Qþyn|gài features applicative derivational suffixes that promote
an adjunct to patient position. The original patient (if the
predicate had one before) is demoted to secondary patient and
has to be expressed by a serial verb construction (SVC) with
the verb 'to do' + patient
Note that it is not required that adjuncts transformed in this way
have a semantical valence of zero, so they by the loss
of their valence infix, the clause might become (more)
Qþyn|gài features the following voices, or better valence shifts,
all derivational suffixes. Please not that valence shifts
in Qþyn|gài only change the focus on the
arguments only very slightly, if at all. Therefore, I will
avoid the word 'voice'. The main means to
remove or add focus are explicit focus particles, and the means
to remove arguments totally, is to change the valence infix.
Voices in Qþyn|gài are mainly used
to facilitate a more elegant and concise sentence structure,
i.e., usually to use less words.
To stress this again: adding a passive valence shift marker to a
structure removes the agent from the syntactic argument
structure and moves the patient into agent position, but
still, there is no focus shift demoting the agent. One
of the main purposes of this operation is to add an
applicative, which re-occupies the now free patient slot.
this is the root for all valence shift markers
passive valence shift
the original patient is expressed in the agent argument,
the original agent is removed from the argument structure but
is expressible by using a agitative case adjunct. The
patient slot is unoccupied and the language allows to suffix
an applicative to a passive predicate.
antipassive valence shift
the original agent is expressed in the patient argument,
the original patient is syntactically removed from the
argument structure but still expressible by using a
serial verb construction (SVC) with the verb 'to do' +
patient. This valence shift also automatically promotes a
agitative adjunct to agent slot, if the valence marker
is set up appropriately.