5 Jawech Tl’ach. Nem’efenel eetl fanelechem katl n’ensejn n’ener tlas nat, Tl’jet.
6 Jawech Tle’ket, “Tl’jeth. N’enje ku’uch. Ne keejm uch l’amele oetl nj’ech las naele. Foechem katl na naelem l’ojele lo foamelet ul.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
After a brief period of un-productivity, I've gathered enough inspiration to delve once more into N'ketle. For this post, I’d like to return to the topic of nouns, looking specifically at the various modifications made to noun-determiners, and how these features have developed into N’ketle. Nouns II:
Several modifications have survived from “proto-N’ketle”: four deictic markers (two distal and two proximal), the definite marker, and the indefinite marker. Another type of modification, which has fallen into relative disuse (but will still be discussed), concerns the relationship of various quantifiers and number-words to the noun-determiners. -Deictic Markers:
Four deictic categories are still distinguished in N’ketle. The basic distinction is between proximal
(near to the speaker, equivalent to the English “this”) and distal
(not near to the speaker, English “that”). There are also derivatives of these which might be classified as “emphasized” forms (super-proximal
), signifying more intensified deictic positions (“very near, this one here
” or “very far, that one (over there), etc.”).
Each of these categories is indicated by a modification of the noun-determiner, examples of which are contained in the following table:
Base Proximal Super-Prox. Distal Super-Distal
Stem CV (ne) ke nje ke jene ke nwe ke wene ke
VC (n’)en nj’en jen’en nw’en wen’en
These four modifications were originally classified as “particles” in much the same way as the morphemes indicating case. They eventually took the form of either a prefix or an infix (originally a suffix) which was introduced into the structure of the determiner. Proximal *-je
, Super-Proximal *je-
, Distal *-we
, and Super-Distal *we-
Also, as can be seen, the deictic markers normally undergo contraction according to the various principles discussed in previous posts. However, in writing, it is allowable to apply more extensive contractions (especially for CV stems): nje ke > nj’ke, jene ke > jen’ke, nwe ke > nw’ke, wene ke > wen’ke
, etc, etc. --Summary:
Base Proximal Super-Prox. Distal Super-Distal--Usage:
Stem CV nV njV jVnV nwV wVnV
VC nV, n’ nj’ jVn’ nw’ wVn’
The primary deictic distinctions are between distal
, as well as the basic forms of these versus the super-distal
The proximal marker is generally equivalent to the English “this”, as in nj’omoch
“this stone”. It refers to an object which is in the immediate area of the speaker. The distal marker is equivalent to the English “that” (nw’omoch
“that stone”) and refers to an object which is farther away from the speaker (but still within sight).
The super-proximal and super-distal markers are basically emphasized or intensified forms of the proximal and distal:
- The super-proximal refers to an object which is very close to the speaker or in physical contact with the speaker, as well as indicating an object which is closer to the speaker with reference to another proximal object.
For example: there are two stones near the speaker, but one is closer than the other. The closer one would normally be assigned the super-proximal, especially if the other stone were referred to earlier with the proximal. Examples:N’omochom otso e’je.
-- “I see two stones.” (omoch
"stone, rock", otso
“two”, see below, je
"to see")Njom’omoch e’je.
-- “I see this stone.”Jonom’omoch e’je
-- “I see this
stone here.” (closer, more emphasized)
- The super-distal follows much the same principle as the super-proximal in that it refers to an object that is very far away from the speaker, even farther away than an object referred to with the distal. However, the super-distal also serves the function of referencing an object that is not within the speaker’s range of vision or whose location is unknown. For this reason, the super-distal might also technically be called Distal/Invisible, although in these cases it is more or less required that the object be referenced earlier (definite).Nwom’omoch e’je.
-- “I see that stone.”Wonom’omoch e’je
-- “I see that
stone.” (farther, more emphasized)Wonom’omoch o’ojel.
-- “I imagine that stone.” (unknown location)-Definiteness vs. Indefiniteness:
The subject of definiteness has not been addressed at all thus far, partially because it is rather obscured in N’ketle and partially because the distinction has become rather deemphasized. However, despite this, the contrast between definite and indefinite can still be made in N’ketle. Definiteness
(English “the”) is indicated by “doubling” the vowel of the noun-determiner (technically reduplicating the determiner-vowel as a suffix), while indefiniteness
(English “a[n]”) is indicated by duplicating the determiner-vowel as a prefix. Both morphological forms follow the same principle of adding another vowel, but in the case of the definite marking, the suffixed vowel is ultimately analyzed as a long vowel. The following chart lists these forms:
Def. CV nee ke ene ke
VC nee’en en’en
The processes of contraction all still apply to the augmented determiners, although the long vowel of the definite determiner is retained before VC stems (unlike the standard short vowel which is dropped: ne en > n’en
but nee en > nee’en
The definite marker is generally more frequent and widespread in usage than the indefinite, which has experienced a distinct decline. One of the factors for this disparity can be linked to the methods of noun-derivation employed in N’ketle, specifically an increasing reliance on derivative suffixes and prefixes, many of which indicate specifically countable
nouns (“action [abstract]” > “(an) action [countable],” etc.).
The increase in prevalence of these derivative forms has gradually diminished the effectiveness and necessity of the indefinite marking, with the basic form of the determiner-noun structure taking on these functions in many situations.
There are, however, still some situations where the indefinite is systematically used. For example, the indefinite marker is commonly employed with the object of a sentence in SVO sentence structures (which are used to emphasize objects or verbs). In such an instance, the indefinite marker selects the object out of an (implied) set of objects. However, this usage is somewhat limited due to the fact that the object must normally be modified by a following subordinate clause. Examples:N’ensejm a’amel.
-- “I have (a) child.” (ensej
"child")A’amel en’ensejm katl ne keejem tla na.
-- “I have a child (out of a set of children) who makes languages.” (katl
"relative pronoun", na
[Tangent: The SVO word order, in this case, is a remnant of the older system from “proto-N’ketle”, which used SVO to emphasize verbs and OSV to emphasize objects. In N’ketle, however, emphasis of verbs and objects has been collapsed into a single word order, with intonation
, as well as modifying phrases and clauses, indicating the exact emphasis.]-Numbers/Quantifiers:
The development of quantifiers and numbers (cardinal, ordinal, etc.) in N’ketle is rather convoluted, primarily because the prototypical (bound) morphemes from which the current forms descended were originally a part of the determiner-structure in nouns, but were eventually separated and reanalyzed into free-morphemes. The following is an attempt to explain in some detail the various issues involved.
The number-system of “proto-N’ketle” could technically be classified as “base-3”, because of the fact that there were originally only three basic morphemes from which all other numbers were derived. These were affixed to the noun-determiners as suffixes (in the same manner as the particles for case, deixis, definiteness, etc.):
One *-Vch *ne-ech en > nech en
Two *-Vs *ne-es en > nes en
Three *-Vf *ne-ef en > nef en
Number-morphemes higher than three were originally formed with systematic combinations of these three morphemes, following a pattern. For example: the morpheme for four was formed by reduplicating the two-morpheme, the morpheme for six was made up of those for four and two, eight was six and two, etc. Odd numbers progressed in the same manner (5 = 3+2, 7 = 5+2, 9 = 7+2, etc.).
However, this original system was eventually discarded in favor of free-morphemes, which were derived, according to a similar system as described above, from the original three determiner-affixes. These new number-words, which, at an early stage, were not yet clearly organized into noun and modifier categories, eventually developed into the common number-system of N’ketle, including both cardinal and ordinal numbers, as well as various other quantifiers.
The following chart illustrates the original forms of number-words up to 10 in “proto-N’ketle”, followed by “intermediate” forms and finally the common forms in N’ketle itself.
Proto-N'ketle Intermed. N’ketle
One *-Vch > *och > uch
Two *-Vs > *ots > ucho, otso
Three *-Vf > *of > uchotso, uchos, ofo
Four *-Vs-Vs, *-Vss > *otso-os > otsus
Five *-Vf-Vs, *-Vfs > *ofo-os > ofus
Six *-Vss-Vs > *otso-os-o > soso
Seven *-Vfs-Vs > *ofo-otso > fotso, foso
Eight *-Vss-Vss > *soso-os > sosus
Nine *-Vfs-Vss > *foso-os-o > fuso
Ten *-Vfs-Vfs > *soso-os-o > suso
- The number ucho
“two” is originally derived from a generalized plural form of uch
, with the variant otso
being derived directly from the morpheme ots
. The two forms are interchangeable.
- The number uchotso
“three” is derived in similar fashion from a compound uch-otso
“one-two”, which is also interchangeable with the variant ofo
- When a number is used as an adjective to modify a noun, no modifier-determiner is commonly used. Also, when a noun is modified by a number higher than one, it is common, but not absolutely required, to use the plural form of the noun.
And that concludes this post. I will probably follow this up with another short post on Quantifiers, after which I hope to get more into posting an actual lexicon/etymology and glossing the Babel story (with all the grammatical explication that entails). Wish me luck. I appreciate any and all comments.