Nìmpyèshiu Grammar

Nìmpyèshìu is an analytic langauge with a basic VSO word order.

Examples in this section are structured in the following way:

Romanisation.
gloss
Free translation.

Grammatical morphemes are capitalised. The abbreviations for grammatical morphemes used in the glosses are listed below:

  • 1.PN – 1st person pronoun
  • 2.PN – 2nd person pronoun
  • 3.PN – 3rd person pronoun
  • SU – Subject marker
  • DO – Direct object marker
  • IO – Indirect object marker
  • IPFV – Imperfective aspect
  • PERF – Perfect aspect
  • DELI – Delimitative aspect
  • DUR – Durative aspect
  • HON – Honorific (superior)
  • DES – Despective
  • PL – Plural marker
  • SR – Subordinator
  • Q – Interrogative marker
  • INF – Infinitive marker

Adpositions

Prepositions

Prepositions are placed after the indirect object and before a prepositional object.

  • gà – In, at
  • hiingà – To, into
  • shegà – On-top, on
  • yìgà – Beneath
  • gàgà – Inside
  • bàungà – Next to
  • hyìa – By, near
  • hiimhyìa – Towards
  • shehyìa – Above
  • yìhyìa – Below
  • bàumhyìa – Around
  • tyìn – Out of, not near
  • hiintyìn – Away from, from
  • shetyìn – Off
  • yìtyìn – Out
  • gàtyìn – Outside
  • yìan – Beyond
  • hiinyìan – Through
  • sheyìan – Over
  • yìyìan – Under
  • bàin – At (time, angle)
  • hiimbàin – Before, anticlockwise
  • yìambàin – After, clockwise
  • shebàin – During
  • ha̤ – With

Em wṳ gà dági̤ram.
be 1.PN at coast
I am at the coast.

Hiim wṳ hiingà dági̤ram.
go 1.PN to coast
I go to the coast.

Em wṳ shegà sha̤n.
be 1.PN on.top mountain
I am on top of the mountain.

Postpositions

Postpositions are particles following a noun phrase which indicate it’s syntactic role.

  • je – Subject (SU)
  • e – Direct object, passive subject (DO)
  • la – Indirect object (IO), used if there is no direct object.
  • jere – reflexive (for direct object) (SU-DO)
  • jela – reflexive (for indirect object) (SU-IO)

Syntactic markers are used for relative clauses and passive voice. For examples, please see syntax.


Aspect

Aspect is indicated by a particle that follows the verb.

  • No particle – Perfective
  • li – Imperfective (IPFV)
  • dza – Perfect (PERF)
  • shiu – Delimitative (DELI)
  • sa – Durative (DUR)

Ha̤nau li wṳ.
listen IPFV 1.PN
I’m listening.

Ha̤nau dza wṳ.
listen PERF 1.PN
I have listened.

Participles

A verb with imperfective or perfect aspect can be used as a participle when used as an object of a copula.

Em lùn bàti̤an li.
be dragon fly IPFV
The flying dragon.

Em lùn che̤bvi dza.
be dragon exhaust PERF
The dragon is exhausted.

An intransitive subordinate clause can also act as a participle.

Swo te che̤bvi dza lùn.
sleep SR exhaust PERF dragon
The exhausted dragon sleeps.


Conjunctions

Most conjunctions are placed at the beginning of a phrase. The only exception is ‘tu’, which closes a subordinate clause.

  • he – And
  • heyo – Inclusive or
  • yo – Exclusive or
  • ba̤m – Negation, can also be used for contrast or exception (but)
  • ki – If
  • ka – Then, followed by
  • kiki – Because
  • kaka – Therefore
  • Te – Opens a subordinate clause
  • Tu – Closes a subordinate clause

‘tu’ can be omitted at end of sentence, or if a postposition is present. ‘te’ can be omitted at the beginning of a sentence or if there is a preposition, determiner or another conjunction. The contraction ‘ute’ can be used if ‘tu’ and ‘te’ are consecutive.

Fó wṳ he pira̤ ba̤m yi̤n.
have 1.PN and silver not gold
I have a bar of silver but no gold.

Ki fó wṳ te béi hwambau nèm tu ka kifó wṳ mìriaji̤.
if have 1.PN SR enough money PL SR then get 1.PN jackalope.
If I have enough money, then I will get a jackalope.

Kifó dza wṳ mìriaji̤ kiki fó yà wṳ.
get PERF 1.PN jackalope because have want 1.PN.
I got a jackalope because I wanted it.

For ‘and’ and ‘or’, the conjunction occurs before each component

Fó te bó nìmpyèwèn ute jè ba̤n nèm je em he ji bváwèmba̤n he ji kṳwèmba̤n.
has SR each Nìmpyèwèn SR two part PL SU be and one phonetic and one signific
Each Nìmpyèwèn has two parts including a phonetic and a signific.

‘ki gà … ji’ can be used to start an list of an order of things:

Em sle̤radi̤sla̤ ki gà sle̤ ji ka ha ka tsa̤a ka gi̤ ka adi̤
be elemental.hierarchy if at fog one then water then life then earth then fire
The elemental hierarchy is first fog, then water, then life, then earth, and then fire.


Copulas

Copulas take a noun as a subject and an noun, adjective or participle as a direct object.

  • em – S is DO
  • kirem – S becomes DO
  • ba̤m – S is not DO
  • dya̤m – All S are DO
  • ba̤ndya̤m – All S are not DO
  • ba̤mpye – Some S are not DO
  • pye – Some S are DO
  • me – S includes DO
  • ba̤mpe – S excludes DO
  • fun – Intensifier (very)
  • ba̤m – Not
  • hyì – Somewhat, quite
  • bvì – Too much, so much
  • lì – Lack of, too little
  • bvìlím – Most
  • lìlím – Least
Em lùn nèn. 
be dragon black
The dragon is black.
Em lùn dá.
be dragon big
The dragon is big.
Fun lùn dá.  
very dragon big
The dragon is very big.
Ba̤m lùn nèn.
not dragon black
The dragon is not black.
Hyì lùn dá. 
somewhat dragon big
The dragon is somewhat big.
Bvì lùn dá.
too dragon big
The dragon is too big.
Lì lùn dá. 
lack dragon big
The dragon is not too big.
Bvìlím lùn dá.
most dragon big
The dragon is the biggest.
Lìlím lùn dá.
least dragon big
The dragon is the least biggest.
Em mìriaji̤ ji̤.
be jackalope animal
A jackalope is an animal.
Dya̤m mìriaji̤ nèm ji̤ nèm.
all jackalopes PL animal PL
All jackalopes are animals.
Lì te hyìria bepriuti̤i wṳ tu dá
lack SR like group.colleagues 1PN SR big
My colleagues don't like me that much. 

Comparatives take three arguments: the adjective as the direct object, and the nouns as the subject and indirect objects.

  • embeim – S is as DO as IO
  • bvìmeim – S is more DO than IO
  • lìmeim – S is less DO than IO
Bvìmeim lùn dà mìriaji̤.
more dragon big jackalope
The dragon is bigger than the jackalope.

Some copulas are used to form questions:

  • hi̤in – Which
  • hi̤inyí – How much/many
Hi̤in mìriaji̤ go̤nji̤?
which jackalope male
Which jackalope is male?
Hi̤inyí lùn màji̤?
how-many dragon female
How many dragons are female?

Existentials can be formed by using a copula with the imperfective aspect.

Em li mìriaji̤ gà ama̤ nèm.
is IPFV jackalope at tree PL
There is a jackalope in the woods.
Ba̤m li bàinan.
no IPFV hope
There’s no hope.

For copulas that take numbers: see Numbers.


Honorifics

Nouns that refer to other people may be followed by particles that mark the noun’s relative social status compared the speaker’s.

Honorifics indicate status depending on social rank and gender. Within a social rank, females are considered superior to males. In ancient Jánra̤ culture, misusing honorifics is considered an insult.

Basic honorifics for most situations:

  • – Inferior (despective): lower rank, males for females.
  • No particle – Ordinary: used same rank and same gender, or other situations.
  • san – Superior: higher rank, females for males.

Some more specific honorifics:

  • tésan – Used for deities
  • dásan – Used for great respect, usually towards nobles
  • shisan – Used for affection to a lover
  • shinà – Used for children, and can be considered patronising if used to address adults.

The first person is marked relative to the second person.

Ha̤nau wṳ nà da san.
listen 1.PN DES 3.PN HON
I listen to her.

Honorifics cannot be used for plural nouns.

Ha̤nau wṳ nèm da san. 
listen 1.PN PL 3.PN HON
We listen to her.

Mood

Mood is indicated by particles placed after a verb (after the aspect particle).

  • ne̤n – Abilitive/permissive (can)
  • yà – Desirerative (want)
  • bì – Obligative (must)
  • yi̤ – Commissive/Volitive (will)
  • ken – Epistemic (might)
  • gàn – Timitive (dare)
  • chìm – Directive (please)
  • nìa – Interrogative (yes-no question)
Kwṳ wṳ gà saun.
sit 1.PN at this
I sit here.
Kwṳ ne̤n wṳ gà saun.
sit can 1.PN at this
I can sit here.
Kwṳ yà wṳ gà saun.
sit want 1.PN at this
I want to sit here.
Kwṳ bì wṳ gà saun.
sit must 1.PN at this
I must sit here.
Kwṳ yi̤ wṳ gà saun.
sit will 1.PN at this
I will sit here.
Kwṳ ken wṳ gà saun.
sit might 1.PN at this
I might sit here.
Kwṳ gàn wṳ gà saun.
sit dare 1.PN at this
I dare to sit here.
Kwṳ chím wṳ gà saun.
sit please 1.PN at this
Please can I sit here.
Kwṳ nìa wṳ gà saun?
sit Q 1.PN at this
Am I sat here?

A conjunction can be used to indicate multiple moods. For example, ba̤m can be used to present a contradiction:

Fó yà ba̤m ne̤n wṳ ja̤mne̤ndaukṳ kiki bvì baudè e.
have want not can 1.PN lop.eared.jackalope because too expensive DO
I want a lop-eared jackalope, but they are too expensive. 


Numbers

Nìmpyèshiu uses base sixteen.

  • ji – one
  • jè – two
  • sa̤m – three
  • shì – four
  • rá – five
  • lìun – six
  • jii – seven
  • pa̤n – eight
  • jìu – nine
  • shrì – ten (A)
  • lè – eleven (B)
  • dù – twelve (C)
  • tyì – thirteen (D)
  • cha – fourteen (E)
  • ka – fifteen (F)
  • he̤ – sixteen (10)

To form numbers after sixteen, add the appropriate unit number after he̤:

  • he̤ji – seventeen (11)
  • he̤jè – eighteen (12)
  • he̤sa̤m -nineteen (13)
  • he̤shì – twenty (14)

To form multiples of sixteen, add the appropriate unit number before he̤:

  • jèhe̤ – thirty-two (20)
  • sa̤mhe̤ – forty-eight (30)
  • shìhe̤ – sixty-four (40)
  • ráhe̤ – eighty (50)

Other numbers:

  • paa – 256 (100)
  • bá – 4096 (1000)
  • lìam – zero

Cardinal numbers come before adjectives in a noun phrase if no measure word is used.

Pa̤n pe̤i nèm.
eight cup PL
Eight cups.

Plurals are marked with ‘nèm’ directly after a noun.

The Absence of Mass Nouns

In Nìmpyèshiu, all nouns are count nouns. Words that seem to be mass have a default measure and require a plural marker to act as a mass noun. For example, the word ‘shaa’ means a drop of water, but adding the plural marker will cause it to mean water.

Hlé wṳ shaa.
drink 1.PN drop.of.water
I drink a drop of water.

Hlé wṳ shaa nèm.
drink 1.PN drop.of.water PL
I drink water.

Copulas for Numbers

When specifying an amount of a noun, sometimes a copula is required. They take the noun as the subject, the number as the object. They can also take a measure word as an indirect object, which changes the measure of the object. The exceptions are one and zero which act as copulas and take a measure word as a direct object.

  • ji – One
  • yí – Cardinal numbers greater 16 (many)
  • ta – Cardinal numbers 2-16 (few)
  • gà – Ordinal numbers
  • yì – Negatives
  • lìam – Zero

Ji shaa pe̤i.
one water cup
One cup of water.

Ta shaa jè pe̤i nèm.
few water two cup PL
Two cups of water.

Ta shaa pe̤i nèm la.
few water cup PL IO
A few cups of water

Gà shaa ji pe̤i
ordinal water one cup
The first cup of water.

Fractions are formed with the following pattern: fṳn (numerator) (denominator) ji̤i.

Fṳn shaa ji jè ji̤i pe̤i.
numerator water one two denominator cup
Half a cup of water.


Pronouns and Determiners

Personal Pronouns

  • wṳ – I, me
  • mi – You
  • da – He, him, she, her

Plurals are followed by the plural particle.

  • wṳ nèm – We, us
  • mi nèm – You (plural)
  • da nèm – They, them

There is no inanimate 3rd person pronoun (it). However, ‘it’ can be implied as the object by making a transitive verb intransitive.

Kiwu wṳ
move I
I move it.

To use ‘it’ as a subject of transitive verb, passive voice must be used.

Pu wṳ e
hit 1.PN DO
It hit me.

To use ‘it’ as a subject of an intransitive verb, simply just use that verb alone.

Wu.
move
It moves.

Demonstratives

These can be used as a pronoun or as a determiner:

  • saun – This
  • dze – That
  • hi̤im – Which
  • hi̤inyí – How many

Here and there are literally ‘at this’ and ‘at that’.

gà saun – Here
gà dze – There

Now and then are similar to here and there, but with the preposition ‘bàin’.

bàin saun – Now
bàin dze – Then

Interrogatives

  • làanhon – What
  • làanràn – Who
  • làanlin – Where
  • làanli̤ – When

Em mi làanràn?
is 2.PN who
Who are you?

Em mi gà làanlin?
is 2.PN at where
Where are you?

Indefinite Pronouns

  • dya̤nràn – Everyone, everybody
  • dya̤mhon – Everything
  • dya̤nlin – Everywhere
  • pyeràn – Someone, somebody
  • pyehon – Something
  • pyelin – Somewhere
  • ba̤nràn – No-one, nobody
  • ba̤mhon – Nothing
  • ba̤nlin – Nowhere

Em dya̤nràn gà saun.
is everyone at this
Everyone is here.

Em sha̤n nèm gà dya̤nlin.
is mountain PL at everywhere
There are mountains everywhere.


Syntax

Clause Structure

Nìmpyèshiu’s basic word order is Verb-Subject-Object.

Indirect objects come after direct objects:

Na̤i wṳ gla mìriaji̤.
give 1.PN food jackalope
I give the jackalope food.

If a verb is prefixed with ki- ‘to cause’ , then direct object is the thing that is being caused to perform that verb:

Kira̤m wṳ riiyagíi làihyewombi̤i.
feed 1.PN jackalope bucket.snail.meat
I feed the jackalope a bucket of snail meat

Prepositions come after indirect objects:

Na̤i wṳ gla̤ mìriaji̤ gà bvu.
give 1.PN food jackalope at house
I give the jackalope food in the house.

Noun Phrase

Noun phrase order is: Conjunction, preposition, determiner, number, adjective, head noun, honorific, postposition.

Dze cha te nèn mìriaji̤ nèm e kṳn wṳ.
that fourteen SR black jackalope PL DO see 1.PN
Those fourteen black jackalopes that I saw.

Noun phrases with adjectives or numbers begin with ‘te’ and end with ‘tu’. Also a ‘te’ must separate two consecutive adjectives/numbers.

Verb subject object:

Kṳn wṳ mìriaji̤.
see 1.PN jackalope
I see the jackalope.

Verb te adjective subject tu object:

Kṳn te nèn mìriaji̤ tu wṳ.
see SR black jackalope SR 1.PN
The black jackalope sees me.

Verb subject te adjective object:

Kṳn wṳ te nèn mìriaji̤.
see 1.PN SR black jackalope.
I see a black jackalope.

Verb te adjective subject ute adjective object:

Kṳn te ba̤i lùn ute nèn mìriaji̤.
see SR white dragon SR black jackalope
The white dragon sees a black jackalope.

Possessive Construction

Possessives are subordinate clauses using the verb ‘fó’ (to have).

Fó wṳ bvu.
have 1.PN house
I have a house.

When used as a subordinate clause, either the subject or the object is moved to the front.

Bvu e fó wṳ.  
house DO have 1.PN
House of mine.
Hiingà wṳ te bvu e fó wṳ. 
go 1.PN SR house DO have 1.PN
I go to my house.
Bvu e fó te bvía e fó wṳ.  
house DO have SR friend DO have 1.PN
My friend’s house.
Hiingà wṳ te bvu e fó te bvía e fó da.
go 1.PN SR house DO have SR friend DO have 3.PN
I go to his friend’s house.
Wṳ je fó bvu.
I SU have house
My house.

Possessive construction may be dropped if the possessor is obvious from context:

Yí hyìabvia li da nesepi̤i
many hang.out IMPV 3.PN herd
She often hangs out with her friendship group.

In the example above, the possessor is dropped because it is also the subject of the sentence. Using the possessive construction in this context will imply that the possessor is a different entity to the subject:

Yí hyìabvia li da te da je fó nesepi̤i
many hang.out IMPV 3.PN SR 3.PN SU have herd
She often hangs out with his friendship group.  

Verb Phrase

Adverb, Verb, Aspect, Modal, Arguments, Infinitive marker.

Tyìndè wuhiimhyìa li yà da.
daily come IPFV want 3.PN
He wants to come daily.

The infinitive is marked with ‘che’ . Infinitives can behave like noun phrases.

Em te bvía e fó wṳ ute na̤n hyìri che.
be SR friend DO have 1.PN SR hard like INF
My friend is hard to like.

Questions

Below is a summary of various question words:

WordFunctionPart of speech
nìayes-no questionsmodal
làanhowadverb
làanhonwhatpronoun
làanrànwhopronoun
làanlinwherepronoun
làanli̤whenpronoun
hi̤inwhichdeterminer
hi̤inyíhow much/manydeterminer

To answer a yes-no question, the modal nìa is repeated for yes and ‘ba̤m’ is used for no.

Ia nìa mi̤ da̤ san.
love Q 2.PN 3.PN HON
Do you love her?

Ia mi̤ làanràn.
love 2.PN who
Whom do you love?

Passive Voice

With the passive voice, the word order changes to verb-object-subject and the object is marked with ‘e’.

Active voice:

Shá wṳ pe̤i.
wash 1.PN cup
I wash the cup.

Passive voice:

Shá pe̤i e
wash cup DO
The cup was washed.

Shá pe̤i e wṳ.
wash cup DO 1.PN
The cup was washed by me.

Pivots

Passive voice can be used as a pivot.

Shá pe̤i e wṳ je kira̤m mìriaji̤.
wash cup DO 1.PN SU feed jackalope
I washed the cup and fed the jackalope.
Kira̤m mà san wṳ nà je kira̤m mìriaji̤. 
feed mother HON 1.PN DES SU feed jackalope
I fed the jackalope and I was fed by mother.

Relative clauses

Relative clauses are simply clauses with the noun as a topic. For transitive sentences, the noun that is moved to the front and must be followed by the appropriate adposition.

Ràn je shyá shiu.
person SU study language
The person who studies language.
Shiu e shyá ràn.
language DO study person
The language which the person studies.
Mìriaji̤ la na̤i wṳ gla̤ .
jackalope IO give 1.PN food
The jackalope which I give food.
Shegà sha̤n em wṳ.
on-top mountain be 1.PN
The mountain which I am on-top.

For intransitives, the noun is moved to the front of the sentence without an adposition. If an adposition is used, then it would suggest transitivity:

Ràn shyá.
person study
The person who studies.
Ràn je shyá.
person SU study
The person who studies it.
Ràn e shyá.
person DO study
The person who is studied.

Relative clauses can be treated as subordinate clauses:

Em te ràn je shyá shiu tu gà saun.  
be SR person SU study language SR at this
The person who studies language is here.
Em te shiu e shyá ràn tu na̤n. 
be SR language DO study person SR difficult
The language the person studies is difficult.
Ia wṳ te ràn je shyá shiu.
love I SR person SU study language
I love the person who studies language.
Hyìria wṳ te shiu e shyá ràn.
like 1.PN SR language DO study person
I like the language that the person studies.

Reflexive noun phrases are also placed before the verb:

Da jere adi̤ram dza.
3.PN SU-DO calm PERF
He has calmed himself down.
Da jela na̤i dza te bvì ki̤n.
3.PN SU-IO give PERF SR too work
He has given himself too much work.

 

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