2 L’achelt. Nor’omelachar ea n’ene tla’sachta awl nor’omelsenar ee nom’omas tl’jete oetl nw’fem l’enelte.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
Onward! Here is a basic summary of the N’ketle noun system, including features of Case and Number, as well as some examples of the various stem forms and how they are inflected.
Firstly, however, I’d like to introduce the “determiner system” in slightly more detail (mainly because the significance of it will not necessarily be obvious from this summary):
In “proto-N’ketle,” the system of determiners functioned as morphemes which carried a variety of information, but the earliest, most basic function would have been derivation
, meaning that different determiners were initially used to indicate and determine the lexical category of each abstract stem.
There were two determiners signifying head
(of phrase): Noun and Verb; and there were also two determiners signifying modifier
(of head): Adjective and Adverb. The two modifier-determiners were eventually collapsed into a single system (at least in the dialect that gave rise to N’ketle), with the lexical category of the modifier being determined by the head which it modifies (noun or verb).
Regarding nouns, the determiners functioned to carry information such as case and number (as mentioned), but also carried indicators of definiteness vs. indefiniteness (although these markers have been somewhat reduced), as well as other forms of quantity. In addition, the noun-determiners also functioned to indicate deixis, though there is some doubt (read: I haven’t really gotten that far) as to whether the determiners themselves were used, or if some separate system of demonstratives was in place at an early point.Nouns:
Noun stems take the determiner n+vowel
. Stems may be of the form CV (consonant-vowel) or VC (vowel-consonant), in addition to a variety of compound and polysyllabic forms (monosyllabic stems will, however, be the main focus of this post).
The vowel of the determiner normally changes to match the vowel of the noun stem. Thus: ke> ne ke
“speech,” ro > no ro
“depth.” If a stem is of the form VC, the vowel of the determiner assimilates to the initial vowel of the stem: en > *ne-en > n’en
Three cases have developed: nominative, accusative, and genitive:
N ne ke ne ken
A ne kem n’kenem
G ne ker n’kener
N n’en n’ene
A nem’en n’enem
G ner’en n’ener
Historically, these cases were all formed by a modification of the determiner. The plurals were formed by duplicating the determiner after the noun. This second determiner was later assimilated to the noun stem as a suffix. (*ne-ke-ne > ne ken
The accusative and genitive cases were formed with separate particles *vowel+m
. These were combined with the singular and plural determiners in the following ways:
- In CV stems, the particles were normally added after the noun stem and followed the usual process of assimilation, either to the noun stem itself (in singular stems) or to the duplicated determiner (in plurals). Thus, singular *ne-ke > *ne-ke-em > ne kem
and plural ne-ke-ne > ne-ke-ne-em > ne kenem
. When a monosyllabic noun stem is made polysyllabic by this kind of inflection, the determiner is usually reduced to n’-
- In VC stems, particles develop in much the same way in the case of plurals. However, in many monosyllabic singular forms (such as en
above) the particles ended up being affixed to the determiner
itself, instead of the noun stem (this may have been in order to better differentiate between singular and plural). Thus:
Singular: *ne-en-em > *ne-em-en > nem’en
Plural: *ne-en-ne-em > *ne-en-nem > n’enem
- Another characteristic of VC stems is the evidence of a widespread trend in the plural cases whereby the suffixed determiner is reduced to a vowel (eliding the nasal). This may be due to analogy with stems already ending in /n/, which absorb the nasal from the determiner (as can be seen with en
above). These forms are exemplified by stems such as oj
“thought” and ap
“fruit; juice” below:
N n’oj n’ojo, n’ojn (older, archaic)
A n’ojm n’ojom
G n’ojr n’ojor
N n’ap n’apa, n’apna (older, archaic)
A nam’ap n’apam
G nar’ap n’apar
As can be seen, in the plural forms of such stems, the /n/ of the determiner is dropped (although in the nominative it still appears as an archaic form).
Another aspect to note is the treatment of stems ending in the semi-vowels /j/ or /w/, of which group oj
is a member. When a suffix beginning in a consonant is added, /j/ and /w/ are treated as diphthongal elements of the stem vowel, and consequently, the case endings are not suffixed to the determiner in the singular (c.f. above n’ojm
instead of nom’oj
). This lends credence to the idea that case endings are added to the determiner in order to avoid singular-plural confusion.
In summary, the formation of cases is as follows, taking into account the categories for CV, VC, and V+Semi-Vowel stems (<v> indicates the vowel of the noun stem):
A -m -nvm
G -r -nvr
-VC paradigm -Vj/Vw paradigm
sg. pl. sg. pl.
N -v, -nv -v, -n
A nvm’- -vm -m -vm
G nvr’- -vr -r -vr
And that's all for this post. I hope it was relatively coherent.
Next, I may attempt some explanation of the other noun forms (polysyllabic [derived] stems and compounds), or I may move on to some discussion of verbs, depending on whichever I have the energy to do. Also, I will make an attempt to gloss the Babel translations at some point. Meanwhile, any comments/questions are appreciated. Grazie.