Chlouvānem/Exterior and interior verbs

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→ This page treats the uses of verbal forms. See Chlouvānem morphology for the actual verbal morphology.

Chlouvānem grammar has a very important semantic and morphological distinction in its verbs, namely the one between exterior verbs (kauyāva, pl. kauyāvai) and interior verbs (nañyāva, pl. nañyāvai); native Chlouvānem grammarians call this distinction by the name of chlærim, literally "light".


Exterior verbs do resemble mainly English active verbs, but the exterior vs. interior distinction is different and independent from the Chlouvānem voices, that is, the different triggers. Exterior verbs have all seven possible[1] voices (patient-, agent-, benefactive-, antibenefactive-, locative-, dative-, and instrumental-trigger), while interior verbs can have six, with the patient- and agent-trigger voices being merged in a "common voice" instead; this is however only a matter of traditional terminology as the common voice of interior verbs is unmarked, and therefore exactly the same as the patient-trigger one of exterior verbs.

Meanings of interior verbs

Interior verbs are somewhat of a catch-all category, with many overlapping meanings, including intransitive counterparts of transitive verbs, middle voice, reflexive, reciprocal, stative (and therefore all adjectival verbs), lack of volition, and independent meanings for some verbs.

Most verbs in Chlouvānem may be conjugated both as exterior and interior verbs, with all causative exterior forms having a causative interior one (in this case, at least the reflexive and/or reciprocal meaning is present).

Reflexive and reciprocal meanings

Possibly the most common interior verb meaning, especially for causative interior ones, is the reflexive one; e.g. with mutake "to wash":

lili demyau saminu mitute.
I wash my child.
(lili) mitiru.
I wash myself.

The exact same form is also used for reciprocal meanings:

We two kiss [someone else].
We two kiss [each other].

While for a verb such as hærake "to kiss" this may not be confusing, with many verbs the meaning itself may be ambiguous:

We two wash ourselves. OR: We two wash each other.

When context does not resolve the ambiguity, it is the reflexive which is usually marked, by adding the reflexive pronoun demi in the direct case:

demi mutirṣme.
We two wash ourselves.

However, the reciprocal may also be marked, by adding viṣam (the other), this time in the dative case:

viṣamom mutirṣme.
We two wash each other.

Transitive-intransitive and active-middle pairs

One of the most common distinction is one of an active/middle or transitive/intransitive pair, e.g. with jāṃrake "to stop, halt":

lili jādū jāṃrute
I stop Jādāh. (exterior verb)
lili jāṃriru
I stop, cease to move. (interior verb)

The middle voice may be semantically different in its focus from the corresponding exterior patient-trigger (third example), e.g. with ruthake "to bake, cook in an oven":

lili švodhaih rithute
I bake the pastries. (exterior, agentive)
švodhe ruthirāhe
The pastries are cooking in the oven. (interior)
švodhe rithāhai
Someone is baking the pastries. = It is the pastries someone is baking. (exterior, patient-trigger, no explicit agent)

Another prototypical example is gṇyauke, which means "to give birth" in its exterior forms and "to be born, to come to life" in its interior ones.


In many verbs, the interior conjugation is used for actions which lack volition or are caused by uncontrollable third parties. This is, often, an extension of middle voice meanings:

geiras valdē
The door is opened [by someone]. (exterior, patient-trigger)
lili geiru valdute
I open the door. (exterior, agent-trigger)
geiras valdire
The door opens. (interior)

The "uncontrollable third party" causes the verb to be interior; compare also the following sentence:

geiras voldvē pṝsparšvē no ! haleyirte gu dradhvute ša : nusmētte sāmyåh nālyom kulūyite !
The door keeps being opened and closed! I can't have any peace, tell your brother to stop it!

In this example, even if there is no explicit agent at first, when the verbs voldveke and pṝsparšveke (the frequentatives of valde "to open" and spṛške "to close" respectively) are introduced, they are exterior, because it is not an uncontrollable action, as it becomes clear at the end of the sentence.

However, even if the agent is an uncontrollable third party, as for example the wind (prātas) is, as long as it is explicitly stated the sentence uses an exterior verb nonetheless:

geiras prātei aspṛša
The door has been closed by the wind. (exterior)

See also:

A: yannūnajye ?[2]
B: geiras voldvē pṝsparšvē no !
What's up?
The door keeps being opened and closed [by someone]! (exterior)
A: yannūnajye ?
B: geiras voldveire pṝsparšveire no!
What's up?
The door keeps being opened and closed [by something uncontrollable, probably by the wind]! (interior)

Non-volitional actions expressed by interior verbs may however have an explicit agent when that agent is typically human and the action was accidental, e.g. with juniake "to paint":

ṣveya lę ūnikan ujunya
I painted the wall red. = It is the wall I painted red. [it was my intention to do so] (exterior)
ṣveya laip ūnikan ujunirā
I accidentally painted the wall red. [i.e. I tripped and dropped a tin of paint on the wall] (interior)

In the second sentence, we see the interior verb marking the lack of any intention to paint the wall red, and the semantic agent (here, the 1SG pronoun lili) is furthermore marked with the instrumental rather than with the ergative case, as interior verbs cannot take any ergative case argument.

Note that this does not apply to all verbs that are semantically characterized by a lack of volition; for example, sturake (to fall) is usually only used in the exterior, as is pudbhe (to sleep).
It is not, however, dependent on parameters such as transitivity, as shown by an intransitive (in Chlouvānem) verb such as nilyake "to think":

nanā pa inilyam
I thought about that.
nanā pa inilyiram
That crossed my mind.

Note, furthermore, that some verbs are semantically characterized by volition or lack thereof (often with the volitive verb being formed starting from the other by means of a prefix, especially ta-), so can't be used this way. An example also found in English and other languages is the pair milge (root mind-) "to hear" and tamilge (ta-mind-) "to listen"; mišake "to see" and tamišake "to watch, look at" is another.


For some verbs, the interior form is static, and the exterior one is used to describe the beginning of that state, e.g. with haleike "to be calm":

I am calm. (interior)
I am getting calm. (exterior)

This meaning is particularly common with adjectival verbs:

It is sweet.
It is becoming sweet.

Note that, with positional verbs, the reverse is true: the exterior form is static and the interior one is dynamic, e.g.:

I am standing. (exterior)
I stand up. (interior)

Verbs with distinct meanings

Some verbs' interior forms have a meaning which is, at least in the English translation, very distinct, as with lilke "to live" or mišake "to see":

EXT. lilah "I live" vs. INT. lilęru "I get healed"
EXT. mešute "I see" vs. INT. meširu "I know"

Chlouvānem makes a distinction between "slow" and "late" (ṭhivake) and between "fast" and "early" (nuppake) only as exterior and interior meanings of the same verb; the derived adverbial form is the same:

EXT. ṭhivu "I am late" vs. INT. ṭhiviru "I am (walking/driving) slow", adverbial ṭhive "slow, late"
EXT. nuppu "I am early" vs. INT. nuppiru "I am (walking/driving) fast", adverbial nuppe "fast, early"
Note that the semantic causatives are completely different forms, prefixed forms of √dīd-: pridīdake "to delay", maidīdake "to bring forward, anticipate"

Interior forms of transitive verbs usually may have a distinct meaning together with the normal reflexive or reciprocal ones; for example, meširu may also mean "I see myself" (e.g. in a mirror).


The verbs related to the three basic temperatures - hot, warm, and cold - are actually divided in two semantic pairs denoting ambient and contact temperature, as in the following table:

Ambient Contact
Hot īlāmike
(īlāmy-, 1)
(2: meṣyire - miṣyirek - imiṣyirā)
Warm nīlake
(3: nailire - nīlirek - inīlirā)
(2: oṣṇyire - ūṣṇyirek - uɂūṣṇyirā)
Cold jålkhe
(jålkh-, 1)
(švyānt-, 1)

In the interior voice, those verbs denote states:

amyære nailire.
It's warm today.
I feel cold!
galtāt miṣyirde : mruṣṭhūyi!
The two mugs are hot, be careful!

In the exterior voice, their meanings change: the "ambient" verbs are inchoative and intransitive, while the "contact" ones are transitive:

khāngeltyu nāṭ imiṣyeste dām?
Have you already heated up the tandoor?
ejulā jålkhē.
It's getting cold (in) here.

Interior-only verbs

Some verbs are defective and lack a non-causative exterior conjugation. dhāḍake "to speak, express oneself" and tṛlake "to know, understand" are by far the most common ones:

chlǣvānęe/chlǣvānumi dhāḍap dhāḍiru
I speak Chlouvānem.
nanāt tarliru
I know/understand it.

These verbs mostly have their own rules for cases they govern: as you can see, "to speak" a language requires the word "language" (dhāḍa) to be in the instrumental case - or, more commonly, this is avoided in favour of the use of an adverb made from the noun, in this case "I speak 'Chlouvānemly'". The verb "to know", on the other hand, requires the thing known to be in the exessive case.
Note that "to know a person" is, in Chlouvānem, a totally different verb - didake - which is transitive and has regular exterior forms (but has some distinct interior meanings, as listed below).

Other interior-only verbs include:

  • ñumike — "to wait" (+ translative case)
  • rāške — "to trust" (+ dative case)
  • ukṣṇye — "to grow"

Verbs with exterior/interior pairs with divergent meanings

This section lists some of the most common verbs whose exterior/interior pairs have meanings that correspond to sometimes very different verbs in English:

  • didakeEXT: to know someone; INT: to be conscious; to know one's own limits
  • gṇyaukeEXT: to give birth; INT: to be born, to come to life
  • huṃħakeEXT: to fight; INT: (individuals) to have an interior conflict; (groups, organizations) to have an internal struggle
  • jālejildeEXT: to win; to defeat someone; INT: to get better; to win one's own fears (both very colloquial)
  • primęlikeEXT: to give back; INT: to return, come back
  • valdeEXT: to open; INT: (when used for people) to open oneself, to overcome shyness


  1. ^ Agent-trigger is only meaningful for transitive and ditransitive verbs, and dative-trigger only for ditransitive and a few motion ones.
  2. ^ Very colloquial contraction of yananū najire? "what's going on?".