The Bèshus Language: Derivational Morphology

This section describes how derivation works in Bèshus. All Bèshus words in this section are written in the orthography described in the Phonology section.

Morphophonological Rules

When adding affixes or creating compounds, the following rules must be applied:

  • Sometimes a suffix may cause a monophthong a to become an e if in the final syllable of a word. An asterisk (*) will indicate these suffixes.
  • Nasals become voiced stops if precede by the same nasal:
    • n d after another n.
    • m b after another m.
  • Nasals will assimilate to the following consonant, excluding (h,w,m and n):
    • nm before labials (p,b,f,v)
    • m n before non-labials
  • Certain consonants will palatalise before diphthongs beginning with y or e (ye, yo, ei, eu or ea)
    • m → n
    • t,k → ch (sh at the beginning of a word)
    • d,g → j (zh at the beginning of a word)
    • s → sh
  • Onsets of diphthongs become consonants if they come after another vowel:
    • w,o → v
    • y,e → sh

Genders

There are four genders in Bèshus: Feminine, Neuter, Masculine and Mass. Gender affects how nouns are declined (see Noun Declensions), and agreement on verbs and postpositions.

Feminine and masculine gender suffixes evolved from common honorific markers in Nìmpyèshiu. In the Early-Bèrangus Dialect of Nìmpyèshiu (spoken around 400-500 NC), honorific markers were suffixed to the preceding nouns. Later, these honorific suffixes were affixed to inanimate nouns via personification, they eventually became fixed noun classifiers.

Mass noun suffixes have a similar origin: all nouns in Nìmpyèshiu could be analysed as count nouns. To treat a noun as a mass noun, the plural marker (nèm) must be added. Like the honorifics, the plural marker became a suffix, and then a fixed classifier. Neuter nouns can still be marked as plurals with the same suffix, which is why plural neuters are often described as turning into mass nouns. True mass nouns are nouns that take this ‘plural suffix’ and do not have a singular form, or at least are significantly different in meaning.

In the Western-Island Dialect of Nìmpyèshiu (spoken around 100-400 NC), honorifics and the plural marker could be used as third person pronouns. Later in Middle Bèshus (spoken around 700-900 NC), topics were moved in-font of the verb, leaving a pronoun in its previous position (after the verb). Pronouns then became suffixed to verbs, resulting in verb agreement with the topic in gender, person and number.

Feminine nouns end in either –s or an –n. It includes words for females, weather, air, water, royalty, naval terms, law, religion, aquatic animals, flying animals, money, time, travel, light, and negative charge.

Neuter nouns can have any ending, but usually have a | in their lemma to show lost segments. It includes words for plants, body parts, general terms, science, maths, onomatopoeia, and arboreal animals. There are some neuter words that refer to people; these can be turned into feminine or masculine gender to reflect the gender of the referent. The word stays neuter if the referent is non-binary or of an unknown gender.

Masculine nouns end in either -nà, -dà, -n or –m. Includes words for males, earth, fire, war, labour, buildings, tools, weapons, land animals, and positive charge.

Mass end in either nè, dè, n or m. Includes words for materials and family names.

Nouns can be derived from other nouns by changing the gender suffix.

Derivational Suffixes and Circumfixes for Nouns


As well as the standard gender suffixes mentioned above, there are several specific suffixes (and a couple of circumfixes) used for deviation:

SuffixFeminineNeuterMasculineMass
Augmentative-gàn-s (fem.)-dányé(r)-…-n*
Diminutive-gen-n(à) (masc.)-lendà/-renta(l)-…-n(è)
Artificial-fésN/AN/A-fén
Part-bán/-pan-bán/-panN/A-bén/-pen
Particle-ken-ken-ken(dà)-ken(dè)
Event-lesN/AN/A-len
Formerly (ex-)-zas-zat|a-zan(à)-zanè/-zen
Belief or Idea-yès-yè/-y|eN/A-yèn
Follower-yèlan-yèl|an-yèlan-yèlen
Deity-tés-té/-(e)t|e-tén-tén
Language-shusN/AN/AN/A
A table of common derivational noun suffixes, accents are dropped if the root already contains one.

Alternatively, a neuter diminutive can be derived by reduplicating the accented syllable and placing it in the high-pitched part of the word; while placing the reduplicated syllable in the low-pitched part of the word creates a neuter augmentative. For example: zhegì ‘shovel’ → zhegigì ‘spoon’; temè ‘thorn’ → temème ‘an annoying person’ (pejorative).

Derivational Suffixes for Verbs

-s	Augmentative - e.g. zá ‘to tell’ → zás ‘to brag’
-sh	Diminutive - e.g. átti ‘to construct’ → áttish ‘to set up’

Derivational Prefixes

These prefixes can apply to both nouns and verbs. The gender of the resulting noun is the same as the root’s gender.

d(e)-	Inferior, low, below, late - e.g. kep|e ‘to freeze’ →  dekep|e ‘subzero’
ea-   	Desiring, liking - e.g. tekedá ‘plant’ → eatekedá ‘herbivore’
esh(a)-	Evil, bad- e.g. so|a ‘to sleep’ → eshaso|a ‘nightmare’
̙gan-	Avoiding, disliking - e.g.  hré ‘to pull’ → ganhré ‘lazy’
ik(o)-	Alive, living, animate, energetic - e.g. bà ‘to walk’ → ikobà ‘to skip’
k(e)-	Causative - e.g. pe ‘cold’ → kep|e ‘to freeze’  
ken-  	Similar, widens meaning - e.g. án ‘egg’ → kenán ‘egg-shaped’
l(o)-  	Move away from, source - e.g. kwós ‘thorne’ → lokwós 'to abdicate'
nen-	Able, potential - e.g. so|a ‘to sleep’ → nenso|a ‘boring’
nez(e)-	Group, company - e.g. lèken ‘atom’ → nezelèken ‘molecule’
ot(e)-	After, post - e.g. fén ‘door’ → otefén ‘indoors’
shem-	Good - e.g. pé ‘drink’ → shempé ‘elixir’
sl(e)-	Superior, high, above, early - e.g. amás ‘forest’ → slamás ‘treetops’
t(e)- 	Medial, middle, between - e.g. bis ‘value’ → tebis ‘average’
ye-/b-	Must, certainly, true, narrowing of meaning - e.g. hús ‘ship’ → yehús ‘flagship’
z(o)-	Dead, terminative, remove - e.g. vonà ‘house’ → zovonà ‘to demolish’
zh(e)-	Agent - e.g. hré ‘pull’ → zhehré ‘tractor’

Clipped Words

Clipped words are used more often in causal speech compared to their unclipped counterparts. Sometimes clipped words have a slightly different meaning from the unclipped form. Clipping usually affects formal words with at least three syllables.

If a noun has no accent, then feminine nouns lose segments after the first s or n: e.g. kenabos ken ‘mineral’. Neuter nouns and verbs are simply reduced to one syllable (in the unmarked form): e.g. adehon ‘to be murderous’ → ad|e ‘to be angry’

If the word is accented, then the low-pitched segments are lost while the high-pitched segments are preserved: e.g. abánzas bánzas ‘youth’. If syllables are lost at the end of a word, then masculine and mass nouns lose their segments after the first m or n, while feminine nouns lose segments after the first s or n.

Compounds

Most compounds originate from Nìmpyèshiu (see Nìmpyèshiu Derivational morphology for more details). But for more recently formed compounds, certain interfixes may be used depending on the form of the first component:

  • a– is placed between a feminine noun ending in -s and a following consonant
  • l– is placed between two vowels if the first component is unaccented
  • r– is placed between two vowels if the first component is accented
  • m– is placed between a mass noun ending in -nè and a following vowel

Verbs are followed by infixes that mark tense and aspect:

ConjugationNon-pastProgressivePast
Regular-(r)--l(e)--s(a)-
Augmentative-z(a)--zel-/-sle--saz(a)-
Diminutive-sh(u)--shul-/-shlu--shuz(a)-

If both components are accented, then the second component’s accented syllable becomes unaccented.

The following compounding patterns can be used to coin new terms:

  • Possessor + possession; e.g. adéchen ‘cockatrice’+ pwèn ‘spit’= adéchempwen ‘hydrochloric acid’
  • l(o) + source + noun; e.g. lo + zâdan ‘candle’ + yén ‘light’ = lozádanyen ‘candle light’
  • h(e) + noun + noun = dvandva; e.g. he +kínan ‘zinc’ + tín ‘copper’ = hekínantin ‘battery’
  • Benefactor (noun in dative case)+ l(a) + noun; e.g. w|o ‘animal’ + la + glanè ‘food’ = wolaglanè ‘animal feed’
  • Material (mass noun) + noun; e.g. dápafen ‘glass’ + vonà ‘house’ = dápafemvon ‘greenhouse’
  • Verb + Noun: e.g. ék|am ‘to be clear’ + slen ‘fog’ = ékanslen ‘air’
  • Cause (verb)+ Effect (verb); e.g. zhe|n ‘to experience’ + bú ‘to be happy’ = zhembú ‘to enjoy’

Blends

Blends share the same formula for compounds. Interfixes may be ignored for blends. Each component must have at least two moral to be blended. There are specific rules for blending word with accents:

  • If only the first component is unaccented, then the first mora is placed in front of the second component’s accented syllable: e.g. azos ‘bath’ + slanè ‘salt’ =anè ‘bath-salt’
  • If only the second component is unaccented, then the first syllable is deleted and placed after the first component’s accented syllable: e.g. kénwos ‘roll’ + shagen ‘a drop of liquid= kéngen ‘drip’
  • If both components share the same accent, then the final mora of the second component’s accented syllable and the following segments are placed after the first component’s accented syllable: e.g. sháplahan ‘ribbon’ + sémhan ‘wheel’ = shámhan ‘roll of ribbon’
  • If the components have different accents, then the first part of the second component will follow the accented syllable of the first component. The segments after the second component’s accented syllable will be deleted. Feminine and masculine nouns will become neuter: e.g. pelán ‘silver’ + hoanshanè ‘liquid’ = peláhoanshan ‘molten silver’

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