Da Mätz se Basa: A Lost Germanic Language (S9)


Articles and Pronouns

In Da Mätz se Basa, articles and pronouns are very similar. Therefore, there is only one table here.

NOM.sg. DAT.sg. DAT.sg.+se (~GEN) NOM.pl. DAT.pl. DAT.pl.+se (~GEN)
1st excl. ich ma muin wa utz ius
1st incl. wana utzuich iusuja
2nd informal diu dui duin jüli uich uja
2nd formal ü üne üwe ümir ünemir üwemir
3rd indef. ne / n na nir ni / -n mi / -m mise
3rd def. de / d da dir di de dänir
refl. siu sui suin

The indefinite article is also used for uncountable nouns like 'water'.

The forms 'siu' and 'sui' seem to be formed by analogy with 'diu' and 'dui'. The expected historical form would be'sik'. Maybe because this lacked any case distinction (it is both accusative and dative), which might have been felt important enough, the forms were reanalysed.

The forms without vowel are used in front of words that start with vowels. The cannot be used as pronouns, only as determiners.

Articles/determiners carry all number and case information. It is not marked on nouns or verbs.


Declension of number 'one' or emphasised indefinite declension is like the indefinite pronoun plus 'ei-' prefix (with ancient i-umlaut in the forms that once contained 'i', thus 'ä-'). Final -e is dropped with this prefix:

'one' and the indefinite article exist in plural, too, and mean 'some'. 'one(pl) word' = 'some words' (like in Spanish).

NOM.sg. DAT.sg. NOM.pl. DAT.pl.
ein eina än äm


Declension of 'no' is like the indefinite pronoun plus 'k-' prefix.

NOM.sg. DAT.sg. NOM.pl. DAT.pl.
kein keina kän käm


Preposition are inflected for case and number (they have fused with articles). Apart from that, there are conjuctive forms that regularly extend a preposition to a conjunction. These were formed by a fusion with 'dat'. Da Mätz se Basa prepositions and conjunctions usually derive from earlier prepositions.

There is also form for backward reference probably derived from of the free form and a prefixed '(de?)do'. E.g. 'dofir' = 'for that', 'dom' = 'therefore/because of that', etc. All the conjunctions of this type with -dat require subordinate clause order.

The following table lists all forms.

Spatial (with NOM and DAT)

English German free +de +di +da +ne +ni +na +mi do+
at an an ane äni ana ane äni ana äm durn
at/to bei/zu/nach bei beie bäji beia beine bän beina bäm dobei
above über ir irde irdi irda irne irni irna irm dojir
under unter ur urde urdi urda urne urni urna urm dojur
on auf auf aufe öfi ofa aufne öfni ofna öfmi durf
in in in ine ini äna ine in äna im duin
in front of vor fur fohe föhi foha furne firni furna firm dofur
behind hinter achto achton achto di achto da achton achto ni achto na achto mi doachto

With NOM

free +dat +de +di +ne +ni do+
without zonder sona sonat sode södi sone sön dosona
for für fir firdat fihe fädi firne fän dofir
against gegen gäng gändat gände gändi gänge gängi dogäng
through durch dur durdat duiche düchi durne dün dodur
during (nl) tijdens teitz teitzat teitze tätzi teitze tätz doteitz
how/like, as wie we widat wide widi wine wim dowi

With DAT

English Source base +dat +de +da +na +mi do+
of/from (de) von fon fonat fone fona fona föm dofon
with (de) mit mit mitat mite mita mina mim domit
after (de) nach nach nadat nache nacha nana näm donach
in case of (zh) rú lu lodat lude loda lona lüm dolu
because (nl) om om omat ome oma onna öm dom

'mitat' means 'by', but as a conjunction. German 'damit, daß'. It is subtly different from 'durdat', German 'dadurch, daß'.

'lu' is used as a preposition with the meaning 'in case of _'. As a conjunction 'lodat, it means 'if'.

'teitz' is used as a preposition with the meaning 'during _'. As a conjunction 'teitzat', it means 'when' or 'while'.

All forms ending in '-e' lose this vowel in front of vowels, if they are used as determiners; as pronouns, the vowel is retained. The forms without the 'e' are written with apostrophe.


Verbs' arguments are as follows: the subject is always mandatory (and in direct case). If there is no semantical subject, 'de' is used. E.g. 'it's raining' = 'de plästo'.

Transitive verbs have a direct object in direct case, which is distinguished from the subject by word order.

Dative case may occasionally used for experiencers, benefactives (or malefactive), and generally involved. The lexicon will contains hints about usage or the dative as a core case. Both transitive and intransitive verbs may have an additional dative case argument.

May verbs consist of two words. These are called phrasal verbs. The first part is the main verb:

'dat ich de Modo kan kuk.' (kan=auxiliary)

'Ich kan de Modo kuk.'

'dat ich de Modo kuk ze.' (kuk ze=phrasal verb)

'Ich kuk de Modo ze.'

'dat ich de Modo kan kuk ze.'

'Ich kan de Modo kuk ze.'

Verbs of perception come it two sets: with and without attention. The pairs usually share the lexicon entry and the basic verb is usually the one without attention: 'hur' = 'to hear', 'kuk' = 'to look'. To add attention, the phrasal part 'ze' is added: 'hur ze' = 'to listen', 'kuk ze' = 'to watch'. When uses as transitive verbs, those without 'ze' use direct case, and those with 'ze' use dative case.

'Ich kuk de Modo.' = 'I look at my/the mother.'

'Ich kuk da Modo ze.' = 'I watch my/the mother.'


Relative Clause / Genitive

The relative clause structure is very similar to that of Mandarin Chinese. Historical linguists think that it has developped from structures like 'Ich seh dem Mann seinen Hund' by obviously reinterpreting this as a special kind of Chinese relative clause. The relative particle is 'se' (cognate to German 'sein', Low German 'suin', Dutch 'zijn/z'n'). The relative particle is really a relative article, as it inflect for number and case. Before vowels, and in colloquial speech even more often, it is reduced to 's'. (No apostrophe is writen to indicate dropped 'e'.)

Single NPs in front of 'se' take dative case.

I see the man's dog. = Ich sä da Man se Chui.

The man I see is tall. = De ich sä se Man is lang.

You can drop the article in front of a 'se' construction. You lose number, case, and definedness information by this, but it can usually be inferred from context anyway

(The) man I see is tall. = Ich sä se Man is lang.

In relative clauses, the relative article contains number and case information, so when used with a preposition, that preposition put in front of the relative clause, and the relative article is in the corresponding case and number normally used with that preposition.

Note that preposition + article always fuses if the combination exists, in this case, when the relative clause starts with an article.

I start with the/a dog's man. = Ich los mita Chui se Man.

I start without the dog's man. = Ich los sona da Chui se Man.

Here, 'sona' uses NOM and 'sona' + 'da' cannot fuse, since 'da' is DAT.

Even with the presence of a relative clause, an article can be used (it is optional). It precedes the whole relative clause.

'I start with THE man who is of the dog'. = Ich los mita da Chui se Man.

'I start with A man who is of the dog'. = Ich los mina da Chui se Man.

Auxiliary Verbs

Same particles will act like the verb in the sentence. The other verbs in the verb phrase will be moved to the end of the clause. After that moved verb phrase, only the truth and speech act complements follow. Such verbs are called 'auxiliaries'.

If several auxiliaries stack up at the end of the sentense, their order is like in Dutch, i.e. 'He could come.' = 'De hat kan lei' instead of German order *'De hat lei kan.'

Sentences are usually underspecified for time, only a few verbs always indicate tense (e.g. 'is'). To express the tense explicitly, an auxiliary is used.

Past Tense

The past tense auxiliary is 'hat'. The verb 'is' has an irregular suppletive past tense form 'was' instead of 'hat is'. 'was' is the only verb that requires a past tense form in sentences expressing past, so that verb is not underspecified for tense.


The future tense auxiliary is 'wirt'. Note that for immediate future, it is often left out.


The passive auxiliary is 'is'.

Other Auxiliaries

kan be able to (expresses possibility or ability)
draf be allowed to (expresses permission)
mos to have to (expresses obligation)

Truth Complements

ja optional emphatically marks a positive clause
mandatory marks negative clause
ima mandatory wrt. truth, marks vague clause

Speech Act Complements

Additional to these markers, the word order may change.

höma V2 optional emphatically marks a propositional clause
he V1 mandatory marks a question
he V2 mandatory marks a doubtful, questioned clause
to V2 mandatory marks a command
to V1 mandatory marks a strong request

Note that in imperatives, the subject is not dropped -- therefore, it is possible to use non-2rd person subjects.


Da Mätz se Basa has some derivational endings which form an non-isolating part of the grammar. Many are still transparently from German or Dutch

-(k)ät < dt. -heit adj->n abstraction zak > zakät; mui > muikät strength; beauty
-(k)ät adv->n jümo -> jümokät eternity Also used with adverbs.
-ong < dt. -ung v->n result noun läs > Läsong reading
-ong n->n zäon > Zäonung Fossilised from ancient verbs; reinterpreted as n->n variant maker
-läch < dt. -lich n->adj pertaining to ä > älich marriage; matrimonial


Da Mätz se Basa word order is very similar to German, Dutch and Afrikaans.

Subordinate Order

The word order in subordinate clauses is considered the basic word order in Da Mätz se Basa by grammarians. It is also called V-last order, because the verb is (almost) last. This subsection will introduce the word order thoroughly with a lot of examples all in subordinate order.


The most simple subordinate sentence consists of subject, possibly an object, and a verb phrase that may be as simple as one word. The word order is SOV:

subject object verb phrase
..., dat ich de Buch lis
..., that I the book read
..., that I read the book

Subject and verb phrase are mandatory for all sentences. The object may be missing (for intransitive verbs).

With Adjuncts

Optional adjuncts can be put any where after the subject and before the verb phrase. On very rare occasion, it is put in front of the subject; this implies very high focus on the adjunct. As an example, an adjunct will be put just after the object here:

subject object adjuncts verb phrase
..., dat ich de Buch äna Kota lis
..., that I the book in-the village read
..., that I read the book in the village

Truth Complement

Clauses usually have a truth complement, which has been left out in the previous examples, because it is optional in normal positive propositional sentences. It is placed after the verb phrase. Several complements exist: for positive, emphasised sentences, it is 'ja'. For negative sentences it is 'nä'. For vague sentences, it is 'ima' (which tends do be overused in colloquial language):

subject object adjuncts verb phrase truth complement
..., dat ich de Buch äna Kota lis ja
..., that I the book in-the village read 'yes'
..., that I really read the book in the village, yay!


Clause negation 'nich' comes in front of the verb. For a different negation focus, the negation may move in front of subject, object or any adjunct. In any negativ clause, (negated by 'nich' or containing a negative determiner 'kein' or the like), the truth complement 'nä' must end the clause (it's usage is quite similar to Afrikaans 'nie'), but may optionally be followed by a speech act complement for the main clause:

subject object adjuncts negation verb phrase
..., dat ich de Buch äna Kota nich lis
..., that I the book in-the village not read 'no'
..., that I don't read the book in the village
subject object negation adjuncts verb phrase
..., dat ich de Buch nich äna Kota lis
..., that I the book not in-the village read 'no'
..., that I don't read the book in the village

Verb Complement

The verb phrase is sub-divided into a head verb and verb complements. Modifying auxiliary verbs come first in the verb phrase (like in Dutch), and the first verb, whether auxiliary or not, is considered the head verb:

subject object adjuncts negation
..., dat ich de Buch äna Kota nich kan lis
..., that I the book in-the village not can read 'no'
..., that I cannot read the book in the village
Phrasal Verbs

The original dynamically splitable verbs of German have split totally and are now called phrasal verbs, because they are composed of two parts: the head verb, and a verb complement. The verb complement is the original preverb/preposition. E.g. 'lei ur' < < *'lái unner' (Chinese loan) < *'komm runter' < 'herunterkommen'.

Embedded Clauses

Some subordinate clause complements can be embedded into the matrix clause.

An embedded clause moves into object position and drops its conjunction. Like in Dutch, the verb phrases of the two clauses fuse at the end of the outer clause and form one verb phrase. This leads to an interleaved clause structure like in Dutch and in some German dialects.

To create maximum confusion, the following example sentence will be negated. Again, the negation focus may be any subject/object/adjunct in the fused clause. There is only one negation complement at the end of the clause, after all subordinate clauses have ended.

subj. neg. verb neg.compl.
subj. obj. adjunct verb
..., dat ich nich kan sä , dat diu de Buch äna Kota lis
..., that I not can see , that you the book in-the village read 'no'
..., that I cannot see that you read the book in the village
outer: subj. neg. verb neg.compl.
inner: subj. obj. adjunct verb
..., dat ich diu de Buch äna Kota nich kan sä lis
..., that I you the book in-the village not can see read 'no'
..., that I cannot see you read the book in the village

Questions Order

Yes-no questions are indicated by a modified word order that we'll call question order, or V1 order, because the head verb is clause initial. Starting with the subordinate word order, the head verb moves to the very beginning of the clause.

Question order is used for several purposes in Da Mätz se Basa, of course, the most obvious purpose being a question. A yes-no question. To get a full-fledged yes-no question, however, the clause is modified further: a speech act complement 'he' is appended to indicate a question. It appears clause finally in the top-level clause only. This addition only occurs in questions.

Some conjunctions trigger question order, too. Most take subordinate order, though, but some may require question word order. This is lexicalised for each conjunction. One of the conjunctions that triggers question order is 'säo'.


Starting with the subordinate order, we obtain the following question order clause when applying question order modifications, namely to move the head verb into clause initial position (well, almost clause initial: behind the conjunction):

subject object adjuncts negation
..., säo kan ich de Buch äna Kota nich lis
..., then can I the book in-the village not read 'no'
..., then I cannot read the book in the village

Yes-No Questions

For a yes-no question, we add a question marke 'he', a speech act complement:

subject object adjuncts negation
speech act
Kan de de Buch äna Kota nich lis he?
Can he the book in-the village not read 'no' 'hmm'?
Can't he read the book in the village?

Topicalised Order

Topicalised order, or V2 order, is derived from question order. It is used in propositional sentences, after some conjunctions, and in relative clauses (in a special form). A sentence in question order is converted into topicalised order by moving one of the constituents into clause initial position. The verb is then in second position, hence the name 'V2 order'.

Some constituents cannot be be topicalised directly: the head verb, the direct object, the negation, the truth complement, the speech act complement. The head verb cannot be topicalised, because it is in front in question order and must be in second position in topicalised order, and the object cannot be topicalised because there is no marking on the direct object, so subject and object are purely distinguished by word order. Fronting would make sentences ambiguous.


Starting with the question order, we obtain the following topicalised order clause by fronting one constituent:

object adjuncts negation
Ich kan de Buch äna Kota nich lis nä.
I can the book in-the village not read 'no'
I cannot read the book in the village.

This looks like SVO order, but that's just plain coincedence. In fact, the adjunct could be fronted:

subject object negation
Äna Kota kan ich de Buch nich lis nä.
in-the village can I the book not read 'no'
In the village, I cannot read the book.

Even the verb complement can be fronted. Note that in contrast to Afrikaans, the negation complement is not dropped: 'nich nä' is perfectly ok.

subject object adjunct negation
Lis kan ich de Buch äna Kota nich nä.
Read can I the book in-the village not 'no'
Reading the book is impossible in the village.

Further, Da Mätz se Basa is configurational, i.e., object + verb can be treated as one complex phrase. Therefore, it is allowed to topicalise object + verb. Because the head verb cannot be fronted, only object + verb complement are fronted.

obj.+verb compl.
subject adjunct negation
De Buch lis kan ich äna Kota nich nä.
The book read can I in-the village not 'no'
Reading the book is impossible in the village.


Head Verb Topicalisation

Topicalising the head verb is not possible. However, it is common to introduce the dummy head verb 'tu', which normally translates as 'to do'. E.g. 'tu lis' = 'lis' = 'read'. This way, we can topicalise 'lis' as a verb complement and keep 'tu' in head verb position.

The same trick is used to front object + verb complement.

subject object adjunct negation
Lis tu ich de Buch äna Kota nich nä.
Read do I the book in-the village not 'no'
Reading is not what I do to the book in the village.
Object Topicalisation

To be defined. Most probably needs circumlocution.

Relative Clauses

As has been said before, relative clauses are prefixed, use topicalised (V2) word order, and the particle 'se' (which is inflected for case and number) connects them to the modified noun phrase (in an appropriate case).

The word order in relative clauses is a bit modified, however, since one of the constituents, the modified one, is outside the subordinate clause. The basic order is a subject-topicalised clause, in which the modified constituent is missing.

Subject Reference

Starting with the subject-topicalised order, we obtain the following relative clause:

object adjuncts neg.
REL modified
kan de Buch äna Kota nich lis se Man
can the book in-the village not read 'no' s man
the man who cannot read the book in the village

Object Reference

Gapping the object makes an object reference relative clause:

adjuncts neg.
REL modified
ich kan äna Kota nich lis se Buch
I can in-the village not read 'no' s book
the book that I cannot read in the village

Adjunct Reference

Gapping the adjunct NP leaves the plain preposition in the relative clause, which is moved to a position just before the relative suffix:

prep. REL modified
ich kan de Buch nich lis in se Kota
I can the book not read 'no' in s village
the village where (in which) I cannot read the book

More Subordination

Reflexive Subject

Corresponds to infinitive clauses.

V-last order, subject gap

'They stop to build the tower.' = 'Di tämin de Turm bau.'.

Plain Verbs

Corresponds to participle constructions.

Relative clause order with plain verb phrase.

'burning stone' = 'brän se Bräk'
'burnt stone' = 'is brän se Bräk'


prepositional phrase + 'se'

'tower(s) in Babel' = 'äna Babel se Turm'

Note that this disambiguates quite a few clauses that are ambiguous in English, since an adjunct cannot be misunderstood for an attribute: 'Peter sees the man with the glasses.' is ambiguous: either 'the glasses' are an instrument of Peter (adjunct), or they belong to the man (attribute). In Da Mätz se Basa, it is not ambiguous.


Attributive: determiner + adjective + noun

Predicative: adjective used as an object to the verb 'is', the essive copula. Other copulas are usable, too.

'De Turm is hao.' = 'The tower is good.'

'De hao Turm ...' = 'The good tower....'

Note that some adjectives form lexicalised compounds with 'se'. There are no rules, so the lexicon will tell.


Da Mätz se Basa does not have participles, but the equivalent is a relative clause.

Active: 'de sä se Man' = 'the seeing Man'

Passive: 'de is sä se Man' = 'the seen Man'

This is often used idiomatically: 'bärätz s Urt' = 'station', 'de kom se ...' = 'the following ...'

Infinitive Clauses/Gerunds

Again, Da Mätz se Basa does not have infinitives nor gerunds. But in sentences with prepositon + 'dat', you can use plain verbs, possibly with an object. If the subject is missing, the 'dat' is left out and the plain preposition is used -- this is similar to a gerund construction: the verb+object phrase is used as if it was a noun. Word order is V-last in these subclauses.

The object may be additionally left out in both constructions.

Without subject: 'He comes to see the tower.' = 'De lei fir de Turm sä.'

With subject: 'He comes so he can see the tower.' = 'De lei firdat de de Turm kan sä.'
('firdat' ~ German 'damit')

'in order to not distribute' = 'fir nich foteil nä'.

'in order to not being distributed' = 'fir nich is foteil nä'.


Quite like in German (this will be elaborated later).

If a coordination is modified by 'se', the 'se' is duplicated: 'Kota on Turm' = 'village and tower', 'da Man se Kota on se Turm' = 'the man's village and ('s) tower'

If the 'se' has fused with a pronoun, the second instance becomes 'se' again: 'dänir Kota on se Turm' = 'their village and ('s) tower'


Sentences with interrogative words like 'wat' = 'what' will either use topicalised word order where the question word is topicalised, or use normal order, especially when the question word is the object of a phrase. Questions with question words are still marked with the 'he' complement.

'Wat is dat he?' = 'What is that?'

'Je is Wat he?' = 'What are you?'


1 eitz [ʔaɪts] < 'eins'
2 wo [vo] < 'zwo'
3 drei [tχaɪ]
4 fir [fɪɐ]
5 föm [føm]
6 sätz [sɛts]
7 sim [sɪm]
8 ach [ʔaχ]
9 nui [nuɪ]
10 zi [tsi]
11 äpf [ʔɛpf]
12 zöpf [tsœf]
13 zi drei
20 wo zi < 'zwo zehn'
21 wo zi eitz
30 drei zi
100 hunat [hunat]
200 zo hunat
786 sim hunat ach zi säs
1000 taus [taʊs]
1e6 mijon [ˈmijon]
1e9 mijat [ˈmijat]
1e12 bijon [ˈbijon]
1e15 bijat [ˈbijat]
October 28th, 2007
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