Falconiform Language – Syntax
This page is under construction!
Contains Word Order, Nouns, Articles, Negatives,
Interrogatives, Prepositions, Pronouns, Adjectives,
Augmentatives, Diminutives, Adverbs
!Ka<tá is an inflectional language, where grammatical functions are expressed by adding suffixes and prefixes, and some infixes.
Basic declarative word order is SVO, same as English. Sometimes the object is placed between the subject and the verb for emphasis.
Nei go’ol bei’ali] I love you (literally, I thee love)
For Word Order involving Nouns and Pronouns (especially Genitive Case and Dative Case), Interrogatives, Negatives, Adjectives, Adverbs, Subjunctive Mood, and Submissive Mood, see appropriate sections below.
Nouns have number, but no grammatical gender. The only cases are genitive and dative. Everything else uses the basic nominative form.
The plural is formed by preceding the word with a warble
po∙atré (head); ♫po∙atré (heads)
Genitive Case of Nouns
Add a trill at the end of the word. The genitive follows the name of the thing possessed.
!i zu’e A’a’ma♪ : A’a’ma’s fish [the fish of A’a’ma]
!i zu’e u’íteven♪ : somebody’s fish [the fish of somebody]
A Note on the Preposition “Of”
“Of” in the meaning of “consisting of, composed of, containing, etc.” and also “from or in the place” is not formed using the genitive. A special suffix (<^, i.e. whistle-chirp, functioning as a prepositional particle) is added to the noun.
!i sfortú<^ owau↔á : the bowl of water.
!i Ing’ei’ák<^ Krisí’i’aid e’e Pozúa : the Alliance of Krisí’i’aid and Pozúa
!i Enemít<^ <O’e^trát : the University of <O’e^trát
♫!i ♫di’ová<^ o’ít : city-dwellers (the inhabitants of city)
Dative Case of Nouns
The dative case is formed according to the following set of rules:
If the noun ends in a consonant or -e, add -z.
!i tung’anz : (to) the leg
!i zu’ez : (to) the fish
If the noun ends in a vowel except -e, add -’ez.
!i o^tí’ez : (to) the creature
If the noun ends in a tonal indicator, the suffix -’ez or -ez follows the indicator.
!i hwi<ve↑’ez : (to) the tree
♫!i ♫chuseng↑ez : (to) the females.
Word order: The indirect object always follows the direct object.
!id juvi ♫atunu !i zu’ez] : He gives the fish food. [He gives food to the fish.]
The dative is also used in place of the preposition “to” when it doesn’t signify directional “toward” or “into.”
!I !arrukh tsu’am farr! ♫!i ♫<parrátz] : The Captain spoke quietly to the officers.
♫Nei lei ♫tú’iz!k ♫∙♪utí’et ♫!i ♫♪i’út|aging’átz] : We may look bizarre to the off-worlders.
BUT: ♫Nei ♫no’afim ch^ ♫hwi<ve↑] We went to the trees.
!Ka<tá employs three kinds of articles. All nouns require an article, with exceptions as noted.
Articles do not take case, so, e.g., if an article is used with a noun in the genitive case, it retains the same form as if the noun were not genitive. They do take number, however, matching the number of the following noun. Articles are not used with pronouns like nobody, nothing, somebody, something, etc.
hwe (cannot take number, obviously)
!i (singular), ♫!i (plural; agrees in number with noun following).
Generalizing article (This type iof article is something like the partitive construction in French, such as J’ai des crayons (I have pencils, or some pencils.):
hi (singular), ♫hi (plural; agrees in number with noun following).
Hwe <imatú↑ así khe’ó↑ hwe sta∙khárrtú] : A rock can be a weapon.
BUT: ♫Hi ♫<imatú↑ ♫así khe’ó↑ ♫hi ♫sta∙khárrtú] : Rocks can be weapons.
The generalizing article is not used when noun utilize other qualifiers that prevent it from being seen as general. Examples are numerals (two rocks), genitive pronouns (his rock), negative qualifiers (no rock), modifiers such as “some” or “any,” or when words incorporating the prepositional particle <^ are employed (some of, none of, many of,etc.).
Also, it is not used with proper names, such as the names of ethnic groups, as !Ka<tí.
Do use it with the genitive case of nouns.
♫Hi ♫tung’an ♫hi ♫tsirrú♪ ♫oví↑ ♫s♪a<ták] : Legs of birds are short.
BUT: ♫Hi ♫tung’an ♪u’ít ♫tsirrú♪ ♫oví↑ ♫s♪a<ták] Legs of some birds are short.
Examples of article usage containing the word atunu (meaning edible item or [when plural] food)
Vrong ∙agu’aw oví↑ hwe atunu] : This fruit is an edible item.
!Id atunim ♫!i ♫atunu sikh ♫ovím↑ gi !id♪ sfortú]
He ate the food that was [were] in his bowl.
♫Hi ♫o^tí sikh ♫!ó’a <<&sto ♫atuni ♫hi ♫atunu <an kheno<!ó’a] :
Living beings (The beings who live) must eat food in order to survive.
Example of article usage containing the word tsurotai↑ (language)Indefinite:
Khe’o!ai’una hwe tsurotai↑ oví↑ fs♪i’o↓ <en hwe dufrakh↑~át]
Learning [to learn] a language is difficult for an adult.
Khe’o!ai’una !i tsurotai↑ ♪em<ti↑ ovím↑ fs♪i’o↓ <en !i bini’etí]
Learning the new language was difficult for the boy (male fledgling).
Khe’o!ai’una ♫hi ♫tsurotai↑ ♫♪em<ti↑ oví↑ fs♪i’o↓ <en ♫hi ♫dufrakh↑~át] Learning new languages is difficult for adults.
Negative adverbs are placed between the subject and the predicate. Negative adjectives precede the thing modified and do not take number. Narr and narrá are exceptions to the rule that adverbs end in !.
haw∙ : no (interjection)
haw∙ !id hwomam <ukzi↔!] : No, he came yesterday.
narr : not (adv.)
!id narr juvi ♫hi ♫atunu !i zu’ez] : He does not give food to the fish.
n♪arr : no (adj.; does not take number)
Nei ihul n♪arr su’aidí↑] : I get no respect.
narrá : never (adv.)
!♪Id narrá atuni zo ne’il] : She never eats with me.
haw∙narú : nothing, none (pronoun)
Nei juvim haw∙narú go’ez] : I gave nothing (none) to you.
haw∙narú<^ : nothing of, none of
Nei ali haw∙narú<^ ♫!i ♫zu’e] : I have none of the fish.
Nei <enemei haw∙narú<^ ♫!i ♫atunu ♫gr♪a’án↓] : I know nothing of the stolen food.
haw∙ven : no one, nobody :
This noun declines because it is based on the general 3rd person pronoun ven (“one”) See Pronouns (yet to come)
Nominative: Haw∙ven atunim !i zu’e] : Nobody ate the fish.
Objective: ♫Vei ♫hí’utam e’e ♫to’ikim haw∙venil] : They entered and saw no one.
(As noted in the section on punctuation of the page Falconiform Language – Preliminary Information, the Wingding symbol used for a question mark is not a Unicode symbol. It prints fine in Word and in PDF and in the print editions of thew TermiteWrityer books, bujt it won’t show here, so I am substituting [?])
Questions begin with a question mark and end with the sytlloable ai↑~ followed by the closing bracket.
Word order when the sentence contains a subject, verb, and object: OSV
[?] !I tsirrú go to’ikolda ai↑~] : Do you see the bird? [i.e., The bird you see?]
[?] !I tsirrú !i !arrukh to’iki ai↑~] : Does the Captain see the bird? [i.e., The bird the Captain sees?]
Word order when sentence contains only subject and verb: VS
(verb first, followed by the subject). Adverbs may be inserted following the verb.
[?] Atuni !i tsirrú ai↑~] : Does the bird eat? [i.e., Eats the bird?]
[?] ♫Oví↑ hang! ♪éin ♫agíng↓ ai↑~] Are any planets nearby? [i.e., Are nearby any planets?]
BUT: [?]♫!i ♫∙agu !i tsirrú atuni ai↑~] Does the bird eat the seeds? [i.e. The seeds the bird eats?] OSV
[?] !I tsirrú !i yó∙towa atuni ai↑~] Does the reptile eat the bird? [i.e., The bird the reptile eats?] OSV
Word order when the object is a clause: VSO
(verb first, followed by the subject, then the clause object).
[?] <Enemei’odam go fi !id hwomam ai↑~] Did you know that he arrived? [i.e., Know you that he arrived?]
Use of interrogative pronouns and adverbs will be treated in detail in a later section, but the following information applies:
Interrogative pronouns “who,” “what,” etc., are considered the object (order is OSV)
[?] <Sei’u vrain aidifá↓ o’í↑ ai↑~] Who is that fellow? [i.e., Who that fellow is?]
Interrogative adverbs “when,” “how,” etc., are placed first, then the order is OSV, or VS if no object)
[?] Tsu! vrain ∙agu’aw ♫nei ♫atun ai↑~] How do we eat that fruit? [i.e., How that fruit we eat?]
[?] Vral! ♫ni’afam ♫vei ai↑~] When did they leave? [When left they?]
These are handled as in English; no need to repeat the subject.
!Id hí’utam e’e to’ikim haw∙venil] He entered and saw nobody.
Nominal objects of prepositions do not have cases. Pronouns do (see below)
In the dative case of nouns, the preposition to is not stated but implied.
!Id juvi ♫atunu !i zu’ez] : He gives the fish food (i.e., he gives food [to] the fish.)
In genitive case, the preposition of is not stated, but implied.
!i zu’e A’a’ma♪ : A’a’ma’s fish (i.e., the fish [of] A’a’ma)
For the prepositional particle (<^) translated as “of,” See the section on Genitive Case of Nouns above.
Otherwise, prepositions are used as in English, except in Submissive Mood, which will be treated later.
Subject pronouns are generally expressed, although they may be omitted in some idiomatic constructions.
A archaic deity mode of pronoun exists, used only when referring to the abstract philosophical sense of a divine being known as ferei’át. It may be used in any case, but only in the 1st, 2nd familiar, and 3rd neuter persons v(using English terminology). It can never be plural or express gender. It is formed by prefixing frei- to the pronoun. Nominative case example: freinei (I), freigol, (you), freivei (it)
Order of Pronouns in !Ka<tá
The !Ka<tí regard the form “you are” as first person, “he (she) is” as second person, and “I am” as third person. This order relates to a social bias; to be courteous one should think of oneself last and put one’s conversation partner first. They consider “it” and “one” to be a fourth class of pronouns, the impersonal (is♪o’át) class.
For ease of reference, the following tables will maintain the English order for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person.
|you (familiar)||gol||you (pl. familiar)||♫gol|
|you (formal)||go||you (pl. formal)||♫go|
|he||!id||they (masc.; rare)||♫!id|
|she||!♪id||they (fem.; rare)||♫!♪id|
|it (neuter or unknown gender; used as cumulative singular with words like everybody)||vei||they (in sense of plural neuter or mixed or unknown gender; common usage)||♫vei|
|one (general 3rd person, as is One [a person] cannot know the answer)||ven|
Expressing a submissive actor with Submissive Mood
See later section on Submissive Mood for use.
|you (familiar)||go’okh||you (familiar)||♫go’okh|
|you (formal)||gokh||you (formal)||♫gokh|
|she||!♪idekh||they ( fem.)||♫!♪idekh|
|it (neuter or unknown gender, used as cumulative sing. with words like everybody)||veikh||they (in sense of plural neuter or mixed or unknown gender; common usage)||♫veikh|
|one (general 3rd person)||venekh|
Used as direct object and as object of prepositions
|you (familiar)||go’ol||you (familiar)||♫go’ol|
|you (formal)||go’o||you (formal)||♫go’o|
|it (neuter or unknown gender; used as cumulative singular with words like everybody)||vei’il||them (in sense of plural neuter or mixed or unknown gender; common usage)||♫vei’il|
|one (general 3rd person, as They will see one [a person] coming)||venil|
Genitive (Possessive) Case
|your (familiar)||go♪||your (familiar)||♫go♪|
|your (formal)||go’o♪||your (formal)||♫go’o♪|
|its (neuter or unknown gender; used as cumulative singular with words like everybody)||vei♪||their (in sense of plural neuter or mixed or unknown gender; common usage)||♫vei♪|
|one’s (general 3rd person, as A fall could break one’s
[a person’s] neck)
Important: Unlike adjectives, genitive pronouns don’t agree in number with the following noun. The modifier/thing-modified agreement in number is a bit vestigial.
Possessive Pronouns (non-modifying)
Used as subject or predicate nominative
|yours (familiar)||go↑♪||yours (familiar)||♫go↑♪|
|yours (formal)||go’o↑♪||yours (formal)||♫go’o↑♪|
|its (neuter or unknown gender, used as cumulative singular with words like everybody)||vei↑♪||its (in sense of plural neuter or mixed or unknown gender; common usage)||♫vei↑♪|
Dative (Indirect Object) Case
|(to) me||nei’ez||(to) us||♫nei’ez|
|(to) you (familiar)||golz||(to) you (familiar)||♫golz|
|(to) you (formal)||go’ez||(to) you (formal)||♫go’ez|
|(to) him||!idz||(to) them (masc.)||♫!idz|
|(to) her||!♪idz||(to) them ( fem.)||♫!♪idz|
|(to) it (neuter or unknown gender, used as
cumulative singular with words like everybody)
|vei’ez||(to) them (in sense of plural neuter or mixed or unknown gender; common usage)||♫vei’ez|
|(to) one (general 3rd person, as That gives one [a person] the willies)||venz|
|me, myself||nei’u||us, ourselves||♫nei’u|
|you, yourself (familiar)||golu||you, yourselves (familiar)||♫golu|
|you, yourself (formal)||go’u||you, yourselves (formal)||♫go’u|
|him, himself||!idu||them, themselves (masc.)||♫!idu|
|her, herself||!♪idu||them, themselves ( fem.)||♫!♪idu|
|it, itself (neuter or unknown gender, used as cumulative singular with words like everybody)||vei’u||them, themselves (in sense of plural neuter or mixed
or unknown gender; common usage)
|oneself (general 3rd person, as One washes oneself upon
Indefinite Usage (“It” and “That”)
The English pronoun “it” in the following senses is conveyed in several different ways in !Ka<tá.
The subject of an impersonal verb without reference to agent (It is snowing; It isn’t right; I could go, but it would be difficult):
There is no such construction. These three sentences would be expressed:
Snow falls or is falling (progressive usage). Actually, it would be “Snow is happening,” using the verb kheno!o <↗nok]
This [or That] isn’t right.
I could go, but that would be difficult.
“It” as the grammatical subject of a clause of which the actual subject is another clause or phrase
It is clear that he wants to go. This would be turned around and expressed, That he wants to go is clear.
Two sets of words exist that mean “that,” “this,” “these,” and “those.”
The first comprises adjectives and pronouns, both singular and plural, and has a definite usage, where a specific thing is pointed to:
that (adj.): vrain
that (pronoun): vraing
this (adj.): vron
this (pronoun): vrong
those (adj.): ♫vrain
those (pronoun): ♫vraing
these (adj.): ♫vron
these (pronoun): ♫vrong
Vrain zu’e oví↑ nei↑♪] : That fish is mine.
Vraing oví↑ nei♪ zu’e] : That is my fish.
♫Vrain ♫zu’e ♫oví↑ !id^↑♪] : Those fish are his.
♫Vraing ♫oví↑ ♫!id♪ ♫zu’e] : Those are his fish.
The second set comprises indefinite usage, where the antecedent is vague or generalized.
It consists of pronouns only, since an adjective will always modify a specific thing.
Vrai’u oví↑ hwe pochei’ák ps♪ats] : That is a bad idea.
Vro’u narr oví↑ ♪o’ez↑~] : This is not correct.
♫Vrai’u ♫oví↑ ♫hi ♫ning’út ♫ps♪ats] : Those are [the] bad excuses.
♫Vro’u ♫oví↑ ♫hi ♫alziví ♫fs♪i’o↓] : These are [the] difficult times.
Adjectives are placed after the noun as in Spanish.
Adjectives take number (singular and plural, i.e., more than one), matching the thing modified. As in all usages, the plural is formed by prefixing the warble.
♫tió ♫f♪ei’otú : beautiful feathers
Adjectives do not take case; even if they modify dative or possessive nouns or submissive nouns, their form varies only to express number.
An adjective may be formed from any noun or verbal root by inserting a trill between initial consonantal phoneme and the vowel (or before an initial vowel).
Krisí’i’aid (the name of the planet)
Kr♪isí’i’aid (adj. form)
fei’otú : beauty
f♪ei’otú : beautiful
khe’ióta : to last or endure
♪iót : lasting or enduring
kheginó↓a : to bend or to lean, incline
g♪inó↓ : bent or inclined
Note: the prepositional particle <^ meaning “of” may be placed at the end of adjectives.
hwe rotát↑~at t♪i!at<^ ♫hi ♫s^nu|fu’án : A repetitive sequence of weather changes
Notes on use and placement of adjective-forming trill
In adjectival numerals and in adjectives denoting colors, the trill is omitted.
When an adjective is formed on a word beginning with the prefixes is- (non or un), sa- (re-, again), or as- (capable of), the trill is inserted in the stem.
t♪igu : oviparous)
ist♪igu : viviparous
Exceptions to adjectival word order (the following precede the thing modified):
vrain (that), vron (this), ♫vrain (those), ♫vron (these)
n♪arr (no), ♪ínt (each), ♪u’ít (some), ♪éin (any), ♪éite (all), and similar words (none of these words takes number). BUT mis (much) and ♫mis (many) follow the thing modified and take number.
Color adjectives (these do show number)
Numerals (words for numerals do not show number)
Genitive pronouns (these don’t agree in number with the modified noun)
These follow the word modified.
Prf. A’a’ma is ethnically a !Ka<tí (singular; plural is the same; adj. is !K♪a<tí, plural is the same.)
A’a’ma’s native tongue is called !Ka<tá (adj. !K♪a<tá, would take the plural form ♫!K♪a<tá).
The name of the Birds’ planet is Krisí’i’aid; the people of the planet are called Krisí’i’aidá (singular and plural form are the same); adjectives are Kr♪isí’i’aid and Kr♪isi’iáidá (take plural form).
For adjectives adopted from foreign language, the !Ka<tí don’t prefix a warble in the plural or insert a trill in the adjectives; they use the form from the foreign language. These words follow the word modified.
Augmentatives and Intensifiers
For emphatic verb forms (using “do” in Inge), see later section on Emphatic Verbs.
An augmentative may be expressed simply as a whistle (<) at the beginning of a word.
parrat : leader
<parrát : officer
d♪ufrakh↓~ : old
< d♪ufrakh↓~ : ancient, very old
<<↗ is a strong intensifier prefixed to adjectives and adverbs signifying “very” or “so” (as in so much – <<↗mis). It can be placed as a prefix to any adjective or adverb. <<↗ is called do∙ániku, which means “something that can strengthen.”
When this is done to adjectives beginning with a vowel, the ♪ denoting the adjective moves to the front of the <<↗ (remember, a whistle (<) functions as a vowel.)
♪<<↗ <khu : huge, enormous – (♪<khu is big, so ♪<<↗<khu is very, very big)
Cf. <<↗ps♪ats : very, very bad (where the ♪ stays put)
Vrain hwi<ve↑ oví↑ <<↗t♪ift] : That tree is very young.
More examples of the meaning “very” or “so”:
Nei go’ol bei’ali <<↗mis] : I love you very much or so much.
Go oinodlam↑ ♪<<↗iken^hei fi go oinarówau↔odam] : You would become so tangled that you would drown (here <<↗ means “so.”)
<<↗ can stand alone as an adverbial intensifier.
Nei to’ikem haw∙narú narr <<↗ hwe hwi<ve↑] : I saw nothing, not even a tree.
Nei narr at kheksárri’i khegrake <<↗] : I can’t wait to go lekking!
<<& can be suffixed to a possessive pronoun or noun to indicate “own.”
Id takelim !id♪<<↗ sfortú] : He broke his own bowl
!I tsutú aidifa↓♪<<↗ ovím↑ ksi! t♪akuts↓] : The fellow’s own statement was also incorrect.
A diminutive is sometimes expressed as a double warble at the end of the word.
bi’át♫♫ : little nestling (a term of endearment)
Occasionally the double warble has substantive meaning.
lo♫♫ : flower bud (diminutive of lo (flower)
Another type of diminutive uses adaptations of words like u’ít (some, a little, a bit) or st♪a<u (little, small). These are prefixed to a word.
sta<di’ovít : cell, literally, little house
sta<alzi : “minute,” the 40th part of a Kr♪isí’i’aidá “hour”; it means literally “little time.”
An adverb is formed by adding a beak click [!] at the end of the adjective (omitting the adjective-forming trill [♪]), or by similarly adapting other parts of speech.
This is the only occasion when a click is used terminally!
f♪ei’otú : beautiful
fei’otú! : beautifully
Adverbs usually follow the verb modified, but as in Inj there’s no absolute rule about the placement of an adverb in relation to a verb.
For adding intensifiers or augmentatives to adverbs, see above section Augmentatives, Intensifiers, and Diminutives.