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This page treats syntax (kilendarāmita) in the Chlouvānem language. Throughout the page there will be references to the topics treated in the pages on Chlouvānem morphology, positional and motion verbs, and exterior and interior verbs.

Word order

Chlouvānem's word order is usually described as topic-comment; the topic (caṃginutas), whether explicit or "unmarked" (as per Chlouvānem terminology) is always the first element of a sentence and everything else - the comment or paṣukulas - comes afterwards. The most commonly used terminology in native sources distinguishes two different kinds of topics as aplidra caṃginutas vs. gu aplidra caṃginutas (or also tadgerenei aplidra caṃginutas or daradhāve aplidra caṃginutas), translated here as "explicit topic" and "unmarked topic" (or "voice-marked topic" or "verb-marked topic") respectively. Explicit topic (aplidra caṃginutas) is understood as a topic marked by the particle mæn.

The comment's structure could be described as OSV, but the definition of subject and object does not apply fully to Chlouvānem. S is whatever agrees with the verb, i.e. the triggered argument, called tadgerenimišas or simply imišas in Chlouvānem. O, in this broad scheme, stands for any other argument ("object" and oblique ones). Anyway, OSV is a rough but good approximation for that as (see example sentences 3 to 5 below) the closest argument to the verb is the agent when non-triggered in a sentence with unmarked topic, or the direct argument in a sentence with explicit topic. The verb complex always comes in last position in a sentence, except for some particles (notably the interrogative dam).

maikām saṃhārmæ yąlē.
The papaya is being eaten by a boy.
saṃhāram maikāmu yąlegde.
The boy is eating a papaya.
ukyā maikāmu saṃhārmæ yąlērā.
treetrunk.DIR.SG. papaya-ACC.SG. boy-ERG.SG. eat.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR-LOC.
A boy is eating a papaya [sitting] on the treetrunk. (or: *the treetrunk is being eaten a papaya on by the boy.)'
jubdhā maikāmu saṃhārmæ yąlēmǣ.
pair_of_chopsticks.DIR.SG. papaya-ACC.SG. boy-ERG.SG. eat.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR-INSTR.
A boy is eating [pieces of] papaya with chopsticks. (or: *the chopsticks are being eaten [pieces of] papaya with by the boy.)'
lilyā ñæltah mæn lære lunaikeike lalteh gu nīk ša.
1SG.POSS-ERG. sister.DIR.SG. TOPIC. yesterday. tea_house-LOC.SG. friend.DIR.SG. NEG=be.IND.PAST.EXP.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT=NEG.
As for my sister, her friend wasn't at the tea house yesterday. (interpreted as: My sister didn't meet her friend at the tea house yesterday.)'

Non-verb-final word orders are possible, but are practically only ever used in poetry in order to fit into particular metres.

Complement order

The typical organization of the sentence is, therefore:

Sentence with explicit topic:
explicit topic — temporal complement — (anti)benefactives — compl. of manner~stative cases (translative, exessive, essive) — locative complements — semantic patient — semantic agent — direct argument — verb — sentence-final particles

Sentence with unmarked topic:
unmarked topic — temporal complement — (anti)benefactives — compl. of manner~stative cases (translative, exessive, essive) — locative complements — semantic patient — semantic agent — verb — sentence-final particles

Note that temporal complements may, in certain circumstances, act as unmarked topics themselves. In that case, the structure followed is the same as for sentences with explicit topics, i.e. with the direct argument immediately preceding the verb.

buneyi lenta lili mæn lalla alanaleilye maihadhūt nali talaitūmap kurūṣarthom murkadhāna ilivāltate.
female's_older_sister-GEN.SG. together_with. 1SG.DIR. TOPIC. next. alanaleilē-LOC.SG. parents-DIR.DU. for. canoe-INSTR.SG. Kurūṣartha-DAT. Inquisitor.DIR.SG.. guide.IND.FUTINT-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
My older sister and I, on the coming Alanaleilē[1], as for our parents' will, will be guided by an Inquisitor on our canoe trip to Kurūṣartha.
lære prājānye lārvājuṣom lili mbyaṇḍhau.
Yesterday [in the] evening I went to the temple on foot.


Epiphrasis (prīkitās) is the main syntactic change to the main constituent order. Epiphrastic triggered arguments are mostly limited to the literary language, while other epiphrastic arguments are quite common in everyday speech:

lili ladragyale pūnu, lilyā glūkam no.
1SG.DIR. inn-LOC.SG. work-EXP-IND.PRES.1SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. 1SG.GEN.DIR. female's_brother.DIR.SG. and.
I work at the inn, and my brother too.
pāmvyu naviṣyu mešute, ānotē phēcamu no.
I see the three books, as well as the cat lying on them.

Explicit and unmarked topic

Explicit topic is typically used for marking an element that has a semantic but not syntactic role in the sentence. Among sentences that make use of explicit topics rank some of the most basic ones:

lili mæn māmimojende liven.
I am in my 1912th year of age. (i.e. I am 2010.)[2]
lili mæn ñæltāt jali.
I have two sisters.
lili mæn līve šulka dvārma jali.
In my apartment there are five rooms.

Topics are very commonly used to mark a broad context, acting as a sort of "heading" for a sequence of otherwise seemingly unrelated sentences:

nāmñē mæn švai chlǣvānumi maichleyuñci, jaryāmaile lilah, soramiya mušigērisilīm tora, ñikumi viṣam haloe līlas vi no. nenēhu līlasuṃghāṇa ga camimarti haloe gṇyāvire.
nāmñē.DIR.SG. TOPIC. animal-DIR.PL. Chlouvānem-GEN.PL. south-GEN.SG.. – seawater-LOC.SG. live-IND.PRES-EXP-3PL.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. – sometimes. tidal.lake-LOC.PL. also. – cub-GEN.PL. other.DIR. name.DIR.SG.. līlas.DIR.SG. be.IND.PRES.EXP.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. and. — this-ABL. Līlasuṃghāṇa.DIR. ADP. name.DIR.SG. give.birth-IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON.
Nāmñai[3] are animals of the Southern Inquisition that live in seawater and sometimes can also be found in tidal lakes; another name for their cubs is "līlas". This is the source of the name of the Chlouvānem capital Līlasuṃghāṇa.

Sequences of two different explicit topics are commonly used in order to express a (highly context-dependent) contrast:

snūṣṭras mæn tadadrā lili mæn yąlē.
The husband has cooked, but I eat. [it's only me who eats OR the meal wasn't meant for me]'

Note that in such a sentence whose husband it is is not known - context likely tells us it's the speaker's husband who does, but given the appropriate context it could also be the listener's one.
Compare with the following three sentences, which all have the exact same meaning, but would be used in different contexts:

snūṣṭras mæn tadadrā lili yąlute (no).
The husband has cooked, so I eat.
lili mæn snūṣṭrei tadadrā sama yąlute.
As for me, my husband has cooked, so I eat.
lili nali snūṣṭrei takædadrām yąlute.
The husband has cooked for me, so I eat. (or: I have been cooked for by the husband and eat.)

The lack of contrasting explicit topics implies a consequential, natural action, as if expected. Again, whose husband it is is not specified, but in the second sentence the first-person explicit topic clearly states that the husband mentioned in the comment is the topic's, therefore "my husband" is the correct translation.

In answers, the choice between an explicit and an unmarked topic is usually dictated by the question's form. If the topic explicitely answers the question marker (e.g. "who?" → "me"), then the topic is unmarked; otherwise an explicit topic is used:

(A:) yavita lunāyu tatedarē? – (B:) lili lunāyu tatedaru.
Who is preparing tea? – I [no one but me] is preparing tea.
(A:) yanū ejulā darire? – (B:) lili mæn lunai tadarē.
What's going on here? – I am preparing tea.

Verb phrase


The main Chlouvānem copula is the verb "to be", jalle, which is also the most irregular of all Chlouvānem verbs. It has three main uses. First of all, it expresses the identity of two noun phrases, i.e. X = Y:

lūṣya lilyā kalineh vi.
Lūṣya.DIR. 1SG.GEN-DIR. female's_younger_sister.DIR.SG. be.IND.PRES.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Lūṣya is my younger sister.
šinnus lili ū.
I am the walrus.

It can also express belonging to a class or subset, i.e. X = one of many Y:

lāltaṣveya aṣasārjaiṭe marta vi.
Lāltaṣveya.DIR. Aṣasārjaiṭa-LOC. city.DIR.SG. be.IND.PRES.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Lāltaṣveya is a city in Aṣasārjaiṭa.

When it expresses X = one of many Y, but the condition is thought to be temporary, or is related to animate subjects, then the subject complement must be in essive case. Often whether a noun must take essive or direct case is idiomatic; facts of political geography are marked as immutable, as in the sentence above (even though borders might change), while working as something is marked as temporary, with the essive case:

numminaiṣa dārṇāliląs vi.
Numminaiṣa.DIR. figurative_artist-ESS.SG. be.IND.PRES.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Numminaiṣa is a figurative artist.

In cases like this one, the direct case implies definiteness, and is therefore used in completely different contexts:

numminaiṣa dārṇālila vi.
Numminaiṣa.DIR. figurative_artist.DIR.SG. be.IND.PRES.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Numminaiṣa is the figurative artist.

However, high ranks of the Inquisition and of the military always take the direct case anyway, as do references to dead people:

numminaiṣa lallamurkadhāna vi.
Numminaiṣa.DIR. high_inquisitor.DIR.SG. be.IND.PRES.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Numminaiṣa is a High Inquisitor.
lileikhurāvi yukahināri mæmihūmya dhūltalila nīk.
Lileikhurāvi. Yukahināri.DIR. Mæmihūmya.DIR. writer.DIR.SG. be.IND.PAST.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Lileikhurāvi Yukahināri Mæmihūmya was a writer.

The copula also has an existential use, often in locative-trigger voice or with a locative complement:

uñjulā raivātą virā.
There, near you, there's a notebook.
lili mæn līve šulka dvārma jali.
In my apartment there are five rooms.

Zero-copular sentences

Zero-copular sentences are permitted in Chlouvānem, but only in certain cases; note that, in any case, leaving the copula is still correct, even if often not the use a native would do. The omission of the copula, however, is only permitted in the present tense.
The copula is nearly always omitted when the subject is a determiner (i.e. nenē, nunū, sora, grāṇa, etc., often possessive pronouns too), and when the predicate is an undeclinable adjective-like word (i.e. cami, lalla, hulābdān, etc.):

nunū lilyai buneyi jṛṣṇa.
that.MED.DIR. my-GEN. female's_older_sister-GEN.SG. backpack.DIR.SG.
That is my older sister's backpack.
dāneh dulmaidanų nanū lalla.
Dāneh.DIR. Dulmaidana-ABL. more. tall.
Dāneh is taller than Dulmaidana.

It is usually omitted when in a genitive construction (i.e. a XGEN-YDIR-kind translation of "to have"):

švaragūlani thudam.
Švaragūlan-GEN. dog.DIR.SG.
Švaragūlan has a dog.

Finally, it is common to omit it (or the similarly copular verb ndǣke (to become)) when the meaning of "becoming Y from X" is implied by a noun in the exessive case followed by another in the translative case:

lūṣyi glūkam nūlismoḍīnat murkadhānan.
Lūṣya-GEN.SG. brother.DIR.SG. leaf.counter-EXESS.SG. inquisitor-TRANS.SG.
Lūṣya's brother, who was a time-waster[4], is now studying to become an Inquisitor.

Exceptionally, some very common set phrases, especially basic questions, are zero-copular sentences. Their answers may or may not be zero-copular too.

(A:) namyā lelyēmita yajulų? – (B:) lilyā lelyēmita lāltaṣveyų (vi).
2SG.FORMAL_HIGH.GEN.DIR. family.DIR.SG. whence. – 1SG.GEN.DIR. family.DIR.SG. Lāltaṣveya-ABL. (be.IND.PRES.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.)
(A:) Where is your family from? – (B:) My family is from Lāltaṣveya.

Exterior and interior forms

Main article: Chlouvānem exterior and interior verbs

The tense-aspectual system

The Chlouvānem tense-aspectual system is formed by three times of action (past, present, and future) and two aspects (imperfective and perfective). It is however often considered to be a monoaspectual system, as the tense-aspect combinations (hereafter simply tenses, cf. Chlouvānem avyāṣa, pl. avyāṣai) which are not strictly perfective are not imperfective, but do not distinguish aspect at all - in fact, they can (and, as for the past, very frequently) have perfective meaning too.

Past and perfect

Past and perfect are the two Chlouvānem (morphological) tenses that are used to refer to past actions. Their meanings may be summarized this way:

  • The past tense (dāṃdenire avyāṣa, rarely ēktami avyāṣa) always refers to the past, but isn’t always perfective;
  • The perfect “tense” (mīraṃnajausire avyāṣa) is always perfective, but isn’t always past - and when it does, it has an impact on the present.

These theoretical meanings may be translated into practice as this: the past is most commonly used to express something that happened in the past and does not influence the present, or it is not meaningful to the time of the action.

galtarkeike lære yųlaute.
train.station-LOC.SG. yesterday. eat.IND.PAST-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I ate at the station yesterday.
jāyim paliu junikte.
The girl painted her [own] face.

In an appropriate context, however, the same verb form can carry an imperfective meaning:

galtarkeike lære yųlatite væse, nanā galtargis tadāmek.
train.station-LOC.SG. yesterday. eat.SUBJ.IMPF-EXP-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT while. – that.DIR. train.DIR.SG. arrive.IND.PAST-3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
I was eating at the station yesterday when the train arrived.
jāyim palyu junikte : ni nanichladirya meinei muṣkemālchek.
The girl was painting her [own] face, but her mother kept asking her to hurry.

Generally this imperfective meaning is assumed by other words in the sentence, usually væse (while), but commonly also mbu (but) with a related sentence understood to be imperfective (see the following sections for more). Out of context, imperfective past is usually expressed with an analytic construction:

galtarkeike lære yųlatite lā nīvau.
train.station-LOC.SG. yesterday. eat.SUBJ.IMPF-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. with. be.IND.PAST.1SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
I was eating at the station yesterday.

The main use of the perfect is expressing something that happened in the past but is still impacting the present; this is a difference very similar to the one between simple past and present perfect in English, and as such the perfect is usually translated that way. Compare, for example:

jāyim palyu junikte.
The girl painted her [own] face.

The past tense in this sentence expresses a generic action: the girl may have painted her face ten years or five minutes ago, but that is irrelevant to the situation. In this particular sentence, the girl’s face may be understood to have now been cleaned, or that she may have cleaned and painted her face again many times - but, actually, whether she did or didn’t is now irrelevant. The actual time when she did it only becomes relevant if it is expressed (e.g. palyas jāyim lære junirek “the girl painted her [own] face yesterday”) and then it is understood that her face isn’t painted anymore.

jāyim palyu ujunyate.
The girl has painted her [own] face.

The perfect “tense” here does not focus on the action, but on its result. The girl has finished painting her face, and it may be seen that her face is still painted - when she did it is still irrelevant, but it happened sufficiently close in time that the result of that action may still be seen.

Perfect in the immediate past

The Chlouvānem perfect, however, has a broader use than the English one, compare:

lære dašajildek.
yesterday. rain-do.IND.PAST.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Yesterday it rained.

This sentence uses the past tense, where the implied meaning is that there’s nothing that may indicate that yesterday it rained, or it doesn’t influence the speaker in any way.

lære dašejilda.
yesterday. rain-do.IND.PERF.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
*Yesterday it has rained.

This sentence, on the other hand, uses the perfect tense; while wrong in English, this construction is possible - and, in fact, is frequently heard - though it often only makes sense in a broader context. For example, in a sentence like “yesterday it rained and the path collapsed, so we can’t walk there”, English uses both times a simple past, while Chlouvānem uses the perfect, as the path is still not walkable due to the rain:

lære menni dašejilda līlta viṣustura no, āñjulā gu mimbeṇḍhṇāsme ša.
yesterday. because. rain-do.IND.PERF-3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR. path.DIR.SG. collapse.IND.PERF-3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR. and. – therefore. NEG=walk.MULTIDIR-POT-1DU.PATIENT.EXTERIOR=NEG.
Yesterday it rained and the path collapsed, so we two can’t walk there.

Note that the “impact on the present” meaning and the use of evidentials are independent from each other. Using a first inferential, for example, does not change the implications given by the use of perfect or past, though the actual interpretation is often heavily dependent from context:

jāyim palyu junyukte.
Apparently, the girl painted her [own] face.

Past tense coupled with the first inferential means that it can be assumed that the girl painted her own face sometime in the past; e.g. the girl is now painting her face, and given the way she does it, it’s reasonable to believe it’s not her first time.

jāyim palyu ujunyuɂate.
Apparently, the girl has painted her [own] face.

Here, the perfect “tense” coupled with the first inferential implies a wholly different situation: it can be assumed that the girl now has a painted face, but the speaker has not seen her; e.g. in her room there are face painting colours open or that look like they’ve been recently used. The second inferential changes the speaker’s deduction, but not the implications given by tenses:

jāyim palyu junyebikte.
Apparently, the girl painted her [own] face, but probably didn't.

Second inferential with past tense, mostly implying the same situation as before, but while she, or something she did, had made the speaker believe she had already painted her face at least once in the past, the way she’s doing it makes think that she probably never did.

jāyim palyu ujunyebyate.
Apparently, the girl has painted her [own] face, but probably didn't.

Perfect "tense" with second inferential, again, as before, its interpretation is highly dependent on the context the sentence is found in. For example, there are face painting colours out of place, but it’s unlikely she did paint her face - e.g. it may not be a logical time to do it, or too little colour seems to have been used.

Past and future perfect

The Chlouvānem perfect is however also used where English would use past perfect or future perfect, as the “impact on the present” is understood to be on the time the main action in the sentence takes place, thus something that happened earlier is considered to have an impact on it:

galtarkeike lære uyųlaṃte, utiya nanā galtargis tadāmek.
train.station-LOC.SG. yesterday. eat-IND.PERF.1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. – then. that.DIR. train.DIR.SG. arrive-IND.PAST.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
I had [already] eaten at the station yesterday when the train arrived.
galtarkeike uyųlaṃte, utiya nanā galtargis taluniṣya.
train.station-LOC.SG. eat-IND.PERF.1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. – then. that.DIR. train.DIR.SG. arrive-IND.FUT.3S.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
I will have [already] eaten at the station when the train arrives.

Note that in the latter example, English uses future perfect and present simple respectively, while Chlouvānem uses perfect and future; the future in the second clause is necessary to give the future perfect meaning to the first one.
Still, note that out of context both pluperfect and future perfect may be expressed analytically, by using the perfective subjunctive plus (with) and the past or future tense of jalle (to be).

Continuous perfect

The perfect may also be used in a meaning comparable to the English present perfect continuous. This interpretation is not extremely common, except for a small set of common verbs, including most notably ñumike "to wait", kaminairīveke "to study", maimęlike "to prepare" (particularly in interior forms), tildake "to watch (agentive)" (and mišake "to see" when part of the locution chlæviṭu mišake "to watch TV"), khluke "to look for", and most multidirectional motion verbs when a destination is not specified.

garaṇęs lut nāṭ imbiṇḍhra.
The two of us have already been walking for an hour.
yanambaɂom yūnayækṣęs lut māyemęlyiram.
exam-DAT.SG Yūnayækṣah-ESS.SG. since. prepare.IND.PERF-EXP-1SG.COMMON.INTERIOR.
I've been preparing for the exam since Yūnayækṣah.
sāmīn uñumiram.
I have been waiting for you.

As in English and other languages, the Chlouvānem perfect may contrast with the past in having an experiential meaning contrasting with an episodic one:

kimbahēšye rem.
I have been to/in Kimbahēši [at some point in time].
kimbahēšye nīvau.
I was in Kimbahēši [in that specific moment].
kimbahēšye rem dam?
Have you ever been to/in Kimbahēši?
kimbahēšye nīvau dam?
Were you in Kimbahēši [then]?
Frequentative past and perfect

Both the past and the perfect can be frequentative:

marte mīmišviyek kite lįnek no.
(S)he kept being seen in the city, and [therefore] remained at home. — ((S)he has since gone out of home.)
marte memīšveya kite ilįna no.
(S)he as kept being seen in the city, and [therefore] (s)he has remained at home. — (Actual meaning dependent on a broader context, e.g. [...] āñjulā tatanteħulonaiṣyes "you can find him/her there" (potential agent-trigger future of tatālulke (ta-tad-lun-) "to find").)
Multiple actions

A notable exception to this use is with so-called “chained actions”, when the second one is a direct consequence of the first and the first one is usually still ongoing; the second one is therefore only a momentane happening inside the broader context of the first, and thus the choice between present and past is once again dependent on the impact on the present. Note that in such cases the two verbs are usually connected with no instead of sama. Compare:

dašajildek līlta vīkṣṭāṭ no.
It rained, and the path collapsed. — (Past tense: the path has since been repaired and it is walkable.)
dašejilda līlta viṣustura no.
It has rained, and the path has collapsed. — (Perfect “tense”: the path is not walkable due to it having collapsed.)

An extension of this pattern is seen in that use where the past may imply, with some verbs, the cancellation of the original result through the opposite action, e.g.:

hālyehulca prāgdeiru vuldate.
Hālyehulca.DIR. window-ACC.SG. open.IND.PERF-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT..
Hālyehulca [has] opened the window.
hālyehulca prāgdeiru uldekte.
Hālyehulca.DIR. window-ACC.SG. open.IND.PAST-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT..
Hālyehulca opened the window.

In the former sentence, the perfect implies that the window is still open at the sentence's time (in this case, the present); in the latter, on the other hand, the past implies that the window has since been closed. A "translative sām" (i.e. "for a certain period of time") is typically present whenever the past form is used:

hālyehulca prāgdeiru māmei railan sām uldekte.
Hālyehulca.DIR. window-ACC.SG. 1012.CARD. raila-TRANSL.SG. open.IND.PAST-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT..
Hālyehulca opened the window for twelve railai.

This sentence may be rephrased as "Hāliehulca opened the window, then closed it twelve railai later", in Chl.: hālyehulca prāgdeiru vuldate : tū māmei railų nin spṛšekte/aspṛšate. Note that in the latter verb, in this case, both the past and the perfect may be used freely; in colloquial style this is also possible for the first verb (e.g. hālyehulca prāgdeiru uldekte ...), but this is considered a mistake in more formal contexts, c.f. the alternative translation "Hālyehulca, who had opened the window, ..."

In narrative, it is common to use the perfect for a completed action and the (aspectless) past for an action that begins immediately after (examples taken from the excerpt "A festive day", among the example texts on the main Chlouvānem page):

naina mæn ~ dvārmom nañamṛca kautepudbhek.
Naina ranPERF into the room [and] woke [us] upPAST.
hālkenīs yanomuhima keikom namṛcābhe.
We jumped outPERF of the beds [and] ranPAST into the yard.
tainā mæn yanelīsa pārṇami nacu ilakakte nainęs lā ħuldek.
Tainā came outPERF [of the washing room], got dressedPERF for the day, [and] playedPAST with Naina.

Compare this other example from the same text where the last two verbs, being contemporaneous actions, are in the past tense:

nilāmulka mæn maildvārmom nañelīsa tainā lili no ṣveye primirtaram ñumirlam.
Nilāmulka enteredPERF the washing room [and] me and Tainā sitPAST behind the wall [and] waitedPAST.


Chlouvānem has two morphological future tenses, usually termed (simple) future tense and intentional future tense (or future intentional). They have a similar relationship to the one between the past and perfect, as the future intentional is a perfective future while the simple future does not mark aspect by itself.

As the term "future intentional" hints, this form is commonly used for an intended action with a perfective sense, i.e. emphasizing completion of the action. Typical ways to render it in English are "to be going to", "to plan to", sometimes "to want to".

menire prājānye kālomīyeh ga lalti lenta nakṣuṃkitom elīsāltam.
tomorrow. evening-LOC.SG. Kālomīyeh.DIR.SG. ADP. friend-GEN.SG. together_with. nakṣuṃkita-DAT.SG walk.MONODIR.IND.FUTINT-EXP-1SG.PATIENT.INTERIOR.
Tomorrow evening I'm going to/I plan to go to the nakṣuṃkita[5] with my friend Kālomīyeh.
halše dadrāltaṃte.
I'm going to do it [completely] soon.

Note how the difference between the two future tenses is rendered in the English translations of the two following sentences:

dhūltru eyiyāltaṃte.
I'm going to read [this] article [in full].
dhūltru yæyiṣyaṃte.
I'm going to start reading this article. ~ I will be reading this article.

As the simple future does not have any aspectual connotation, the second sentence can be understood as having an inchoative meaning, but (less commonly, at least for semantically telic verbs) it could also be understood as progressive. A key - at least in absence of other elements that force a certain reading - in determining which one is the most common reading for the future simple is lexical aspect: telic verbs and punctual atelic verbs will be read as inchoative, while durative atelic verbs or states will be read as progressive. Compare the two sentences below, both in the future simple:

dvārma lišviṣya.
They're going to start cleaning the room.
luvāyom mbiṇḍhiṣyara.
We will be walking to the market.

Note how mbiṇḍhe, the multidirectional verb of the "to walk" pair, is considered atelic here; in fact, its telic reading is forced by using the monodirectional counterpart lulke:

luvāyom luniṣyara.
We will leave for the market on foot.

When stating events expected to happen, the focus is typically on the completion of the expected event, so that the future intentional is used:

hilyamāmų galtargis māmei railų sām tailīsālta.
Hilyamāmah-ABL.SG. train.DIR.SG. twelve. minute-ABL.SG. until. arrive.IND.FUTINT-EXP-3SG.PATIENT.INTERIOR.
The train from Hilyamāmah is expected to arrive in twelve minutes.

In some cases where the expectation is for the start of an event, while the most correct form is the simple future, both are actually possible - weather verbs are the most typical examples:

daša sturiṣya.
Rain will [start to] fall/Rain is expected to fall. OR: It will be raining.
daša usturālta.
Rain will fall/Rain is expected to fall.

The future intentional is also the generally used form for events in the near future that will happen because of a set plan, including duties:

pūnūmu menire acaṃkrālisaṃte.
task-ACC.SG. tomorrow. be_limited.IND.FUTINT-EXP-CAUS-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I am to finish my task tomorrow. (duty)
kauchlærīn ~birṣų ānat kāmilire lairē~ ga naviṣyų vaḍaih biseyiyāltate.
teacher.DIR.SG. (title) ADP. book-ABL.SG. part-ACC.SG. read_out_loud.IND.FUTINT-EXP-3.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
The teacher is to read some parts of "The Blue Sky After the Storm". (plan)

Atelic verbs, however, still use the simple future for duties and set plans; as the second example shows, arguments that provide an end point do not change the inherent atelicity of the verb, leaving it in the future simple.

keike mbiṇḍhiṣyam.
I will keep walking in the courtyard. ~ I am to walk around in the courtyard.
primęlirēti sām keike mbiṇḍhiṣyam.
I will keep walking in the courtyard until you['ll have] come back.

Tense-aspectual modifiers

Some adverbial particles are used together with certain morphological tenses in order to express a certain tense or aspect. Most of these forms can also be expressed by using auxiliary verbs.


The adverbial particle didān (derived from dǣ dǣ no, literally "again and again", attested in Archaic Chlouvānem) marks repetitivity, i.e. "to keep doing something". As it is semantically imperfective, it is not used with the perfect or the intentional future tenses.

  • nanau didān yašaute — I kept reading it.
  • nanau didān yašute — I keep reading it.
  • nanau didān yahiṣyaṃte — I will keep reading it.

The same form may be expressed with an auxiliary construction made from the infinitive plus mālchake (e.g. nanau yahikemālchute "I keep reading it") or with a verb derived by means of the prefix mai- (e.g. nanau maiteyašu "I keep reading it").
Conceptually, the frequentative is similar, but the situation implied is different. The iterative nanau didān yašute (or equivalents) marks an effort in making the situation repeat itself, in this case the book might be boring but it keeps being read anyway, or the same section is read again and again for an "internal" reason, i.e. the speaker wants to keep reading it. On the other hand, the frequentative nanau yāyašveyute merely states that the action frequently happens, typically without much effort (e.g. situations require a passage to be read multiple times). As an example, the iterative sentence above might be used by a student reading the same passage again and again while studying because it is not clear enough for them, while the frequentative would be more appropriate in describing a passage read multiple times during liturgy.

gam and īgam

The adverbial particle gam (and its emphatic variant īgam) implies a moment immediately preceding the one of the action stated, but its actual meaning depends on the tense of the main verb. With the two future tenses and the past, it is a prospective aspect meaning (i.e. "to be about to"), while it means "just" and "right now" with the perfect and present tenses respectively.

  • luvāyom gam dāmau — (past → past prospective) "I was about to leave for the store"
  • luvāyom gam elīsam — (perfect → "just") "I just left for the store"
  • luvāyom gam lå — (present → "right now") "I am walking to the store right now"
  • luvāyom gam elīsāltam — (future intentional → present prospective) "I am about to leave for the store"
  • luvāyom gam luniṣyam — (general future → future prospective) "I will be about to leave for the store"

The same form can be expressed by the infinitive plus the auxiliary verb įstyāke or maityāke, e.g. luvāyom lulkayįstetimu (lulke-įs‹te›tim-u) "I am walking to the store right now".

Generally the only difference between gam and īgam is that the latter carries more emphasis; however, only īgam can be used at the beginning of a sentence.

The particle "with" is used in two different but analogue analytic constructions. The first of them consists in using it together with an imperfective subjunctive verb and a form of jalle in one of the non-perfective tenses in order to mark an action as ongoing:

  • yųlatite lā ū — I am eating.
  • yųlatite lā nīvau — I was eating.
  • yųlatite lā jalṣyam — I will be eating.

The second construction has a perfective meaning (and is therefore meaningless with the perfect or future intentional tenses) and implies a pluperfect or future perfect when used with the past or future respectively. It can theoretically be used also with the present, but the meaning is the same one of the perfect. It is built in the same way, but with the perfective subjunctive form.

  • yųlētate lā nīvau — I had eaten.
  • yųlētate lā jalṣyam — I will have eaten.

As noted before, this temporal collocation may be (and usually is) expressed with the bare perfect provided enough context is given.


The particle lut (otherwise meaning "ago" or "for, since" with nouns) is typically used in the past to denote the perfect continuous, i.e. an ongoing action that had started previously. It follows a verb in the imperfective subjunctive, and is also used together with jalle, like the previous particles.

  • maihadhūt primęlirlat ātiya nūryai pudbhī lut nīkā. – When the parents got back, the children were already sleeping.
  • cūllap vasīnam lut nyābhe sama sīsyupikę e lališenu tattedāmābhe. — We were already going by car when (lit. "and") we discovered the tragic news.

The main difference between this form and a general progressive action marked by is that lut places a stronger emphasis on the starting point of the action being in the past, rather than on the action being still ongoing in the [relative] present. In the English translations above, this has been hinted at by using "already"; compare the first example rendered with :

  • maihadhūt primęlirdat ātiya nūryai pudbhī lā nīkā. – When the parents got back, the children were sleeping.
Habitual actions

Habitual actions do not have a single way to be marked with. The three most common ways are: using a derived frequentative verb; using the infinitive plus the auxiliary verb ñǣɂake (to be used to) – not possible in the perfect and future intentional tenses; using a temporal adverb that implies frequency (i.e. yaivmiya "always", soramiya "sometimes", gumiya "never"; yaiva "every" plus a day or month name, ...)

Some verbs are also semantically habitual and therefore don't need to be marked as such. Multidirectional motion verbs (in the present) are a common example (they do have frequentative verb forms, but with an iterative meaning); others include tṛlake "to know", lilke "to live", nīkeikake "to be dating", mulke (√mun-) "to be able to".
Note that the verb nairīveke "to learn" (and derivatives) is frequentative in form but not semantically (the underlying root *irī- is not attested elsewhere); it can't, however, form a frequentative verb so another way must be used for it to be marked as habitual. The same applies to frequentative forms of other verbs that are used with a different meaning, e.g. nūlgutveke "to shop", morphologically the frequentative of lgutake "to buy".

Positional verbs for ongoing actions

Aside from the particle, another way for Chlouvānem to form the progressive aspect is (much like many Germanic languages also do) to use a positional verb and the infinitive (most commonly), the subjunctive (bookish), or a conjuncted sentence with the indicative. The verbs used are mainly those with the ta- prefix, but other ones may be used:

aṣṭrasām lišvake tatimu.
I'm [standing and] brushing my teeth.
aṣṭrai (lę) įslišvī tatimu.
I'm [standing and] brushing my teeth.
vaimertāhai sama ṭargūkṣiṭ nīdhāḍirāhe.
They're chatting loudly [while sitting in the corner].


The use of evidentials is fairly straightforward, though the main difference from English is that in Chlouvānem not using an evidential morpheme means that the zero morpheme is present and therefore the speaker certifies the fact through their own experience. Of course, not all possibilities are meaningful - after all, a sentence like nęlte bunā lilyā vāhai "apparently, I have four fathers" doesn't make much sense, even though it is grammatically correct. The experiential (-∅-) is implied by default, and marks the direct knowledge by the speaker that an event happened:

lilyā glūkam yaivu chlemyenu uyųlate.
My brother has eaten all the stew [I've seen/heard him eating it].

Conventionally, it is also used for presenting undisputed historical and scientific facts:

chlǣvānumi murkadhānāvīyi babhrām 3783-e nalmālik.
Chlouvānem-GEN.PL. Inquisition-GEN.SG. land.DIR.SG. 378312rd-LOC.SG.. consolidate.IND.PAST-EXP-3S.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
The Lands of the Chlouvānem Inquisition were consolidated in 6291.
chlærim mindų nanū nuppire.
light.DIR.SG. sound-ABL.SG. more. be_fast.IND.PRES-EXP-3S.COMMON.INTERIOR.
Light is faster than sound.

An experiential may be used pragmatically in a sentence like "someone did this" when the speaker did not actually see the action being carried out, but there's no other reasonable possibility:

soraita jålkhuṃrų chlemyenu uyųlate.
someone.DIR. fridge-ABL.SG. stew-ACC.SG. eat.IND.PERF-EXP-3.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
Someone has eaten the stew [that was] in the fridge [I did not see anyone eat it, but for sure it has been eaten by someone].

Adding more context further clarifies this:

soraita jålkhuṃrų chlemyenu uyųlate. mē sāmi uyųleste dām, glūkam mbu dām?
Someone has eaten the stew [that was] in the fridge [I did not see anyone eat it, but for sure it has been eaten by someone]. Mum, have *you* eaten it, or was it [my] brother?

The first inferential (-u(ɂ)-) implies that the speaker formulates the sentence based on evidence they judge as trustworthy:

glūkam jålkhuṃrų chlemyenu uyųluɂate.
someone.DIR. fridge-ABL.SG. stew-ACC.SG. eat.IND.PERF-INF1-3.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
My brother has eaten the stew [that was] in the fridge [I did not see or hear him eating it, but it's most likely that it is no longer there because of him - i.e. he told me he was hungry, or he just likes that kind of stew, etc.]

When presenting a new stance that can change the general consensus, even if based on observation, it is customary to use the first inferential:

lališire pūnāmis nanū našajelduɂire.
The new product is, apparently, more effective.

The second inferential (-eb(i)-) is, as far as evidentiality is concerned, the same as the first inferential, but with a difference in epistemic modality: it implies that the evidence for the sentence is doubted on:

kalineh maimęliṃlaukaih šutedadraibya, taili nuppire ni.
female's_younger_sister.DIR.SG. exercise-ACC.PL. finish.IND.PERF-INF2-3S.EXTERIOR-AGENT. much. be_fast.IND.PRES-EXP-3S.COMMON.INTERIOR. but.
Looks like my younger sister has done her homework [e.g. she was sitting at the table doing them and now she left], but [I don't think so:] it's so early.

The assumptive evidential (-ukin(a)-), on the other hand, differs from the inferentials and the experiential as the speaker did not witness the event they report, they did not have evidence for it, and they did not hear about from someone else. It may be translated into English as "I suppose" or "probably":

kalineh maimęliṃlaukaih šutedadraukina.
female's_younger_sister.DIR.SG. exercise-ACC.PL. finish.IND.PERF-ASS-3S.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
My younger sister has probably done her homework. [e.g. I'm not home, but at this time of the day she has usually already finished them].

The first reportative (-emi-) states that the speaker learned about the event they report from somebody else, and (like the first inferential), this hearsay knowledge is judged as trustworthy:

jāṇa taili nānyemīre.
field.DIR.SG. much. be_fertile.IND.PRES-REP1-3S.COMMON.INTERIOR.
[They say] this field is very fertile.
egiljiṃhai prodlemīrek.
[I've been told that] Egiljiṃhai was ill.

The second reportative (-enab(u)-) has the same difference from the first reportative as the second inferential has from the first inferential, namely, that the source of information is doubted on:

egiljiṃhai prodlenabirek.
[I've been told] Egiljiṃhai was ill [, but I don't think it's true].
lili dadrainabaṃkǣ.
They say this has been done to help me, but I don't trust them.

Note that the reportative evidentials cannot be used in the future morphological tense (but can be used in the future intentional), and the assumptive cannot be used in either future tense.

Evidentials in complex sentences

In certain complex sentences in the past tense, where the first part has a non-firsthand evidential and the latter, on the other hand, has one, and the action in the latter sentence is consequential to the former, the knowledge in the first part is understood as being circumstantial to the past situation expressed in the second clause, and pragmatically it may be a description of how the speaker got their first hand knowledge of the situation, as the following example shows:

ndorlemīre dalaiginap totemikrā āñjulyom mbyaṇḍhram.
We went to the place where Dalaigin was lying ill.[6]

In this example, the situation described in the first sentence (Dalaigin was lying ill), was only known by the speaker because someone had told them, therefore the usage of the reportative evidential. This is not true for the time of the utterance, but it was true (and relevant) for the time the action described in the second sentence (the two of us went there) took place: in fact, it is understood that the speaker likely gained first hand knowledge of the fact expressed in the first sentence exactly because the second sentence happened. The following example would be understood as if the speaker already knew that Dalaigin was lying ill, i.e. they had already visited him:

ndorlire dalaiginap totekrā āñjulyom mbyaṇḍhram.
We went to the place where Dalaigin was lying ill.

The optative

The optative mood (purmanūkire darišam) has two main uses: expressing wishes (i.e. optative "may") and expectations or recommendations (i.e. "should" or "ought to"). As an extension of the latter use, it is also the way Chlouvānem forms imperatives.

The optative does not distinguish tenses but aspects, even though the perfective optative is formed with the same terminations of the perfect indicative and is used for truly irrealizable wishes expressed in remembrance of a past situation (see example sentence 2 below). It is also used as a perfective imperative, sometimes in simple commands (as in the example sentence 4) or, more commonly, intending an instruction that has to be completed before another event (cf. imperfective and perfective optative commands in the last two examples).

emiya nanåh svātārkṣiṭ tatalāvē!
this_time. 3SG.DAT. be_correct-ADV. go.towards-OPT.IMPF.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
May (s)he get it right this time!
lūminaise āñjulā jogam!
if_only. there. be-OPT.PERF.1SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
If only I had been there!
nanā dvārma nūryāra gu natyogērā ša.
Kids shouldn't stay in that room.
daudike nacugi : tamirtugirises.
Please sit down.
menire tatetyogisi.
Decide/Take a decision tomorrow. ~ Tomorrow you should take a decision.
menire tatetyogises.
Have a decision taken tomorrow. ~ Tomorrow you should have already taken a decision.

The subjunctive

Chlouvānem's subjunctive mood (milkausire darišam) has a variety of uses and is most commonly found when introduced by certain particles. It can also be used in a main clause, either on its own or with some specific particles. Examples of particles requiring the subjunctive are pa (concerning), ras (to avoid), or najelai (maybe):

læmibāgam ħildenu ālīce jālejildētte pa ukulemīra.
team.DIR.SG. game-ACC.SG. that_way. win-SUBJ.PERF.3.EXTERIOR-AGENT. about. say-REP-IND.PERF.3.INTERIOR.COMMON.
[They say] (s)he has/they have talked about how the team won the match.
galtargyu pądīte ras nanū halše kāvelīsa.
train-ACC.SG. miss-SUBJ.IMPF.3.EXTERIOR-AGENT. avoid. more. early. go.out-IND.PERF.3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
(S)he/they left earlier to avoid missing their train.
najelai nanāt gu tṛlirī ša.
Maybe (s)he/they don't know [about] it.

When used on its own, it has a supine meaning (i.e. "in order to"). A supine subjunctive may also be linked to the antecedent it refers to through topic marking.

māraih lgutētte luvāmom dāmek.
(S)he went/was going to the market to buy mangoes.
gretas mæn pramāhire lācānų emibe rūsire lalyā. lilyā devoe haleyisī mædhram paṣlįlšī no.
Proposal. One wild night of torrid lovemaking that soothes my soul and inflames my loins.

Some verbs naturally require a subjunctive mood argument (typically in the imperfective aspect), like for example nīdhyuɂake (to call for) or ęrike (to let):

karthāgo bīdrī nītedhyuɂek.
(S)he called for Carthage to be destroyed.
elīce nīdrirī purvom gun eɂęryāltam ša!
I'm not going to let my son behave like this!

For some verbs, notably lelke, vāgdulke (both "to choose"), and mulke (√mun-, to know how to), the subjunctive is used when the argument is not an impersonal phrase; compare the following two examples:

nanā jilde mauṃsme.
that. perform-INF. be_able_to-IND.PRES.1DU.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
We (two) know how to do it.
galtirī lalla kaulā nalrākulī elena.
synod-GEN.SG. next. assembly.DIR.SG. debate-SUBJ.IMPF.3.EXTERIOR-LOC. choose-IND.PERF.3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
Itimpers has been chosen to talk about ittopic in the next synodal assembly. (lit. "for it to be talked about").

The subjunctive mood is also vital in forming conditional sentence; see that section for more explanations.

Copulative verbs such as birdake (to seem, be like) are usually used with the subjunctive:

kālī galategurdī berdē.
Kālī[7]/she sounds weepy.

The infinitive

The infinitive (emibąukire daradhūs) is a non-finite mood which may also be used as a noun in the -eh declension. Often, the infinitive was more common in Classical Chlouvānem than in the modern standard, which replaced it in many instances with the subjunctive. Most times where a verb needs a subjunctive argument in the modern standard, Classical Chlouvānem allowed both possibilities; using the infinitive there today is a deliberate archaization of speech.

tṛlake daudyute.
I want to know/understand.

(cf. usual way of expressing this, desiderative tatarlyiru, and also the subjunctive phrase tṛlirati daudyute which is also heard, especially in the Northeast.) This applies to verbs such as daudike "to want" (more often desiderative junya or subj.), but also širgake "to be possible that", novake "to be able to" (both more often potential or subj.), rileike "to need" (more often subj., rarely necessitative[8]).
The infinitive is similarly archaic even with impersonal verbs, which nowadays are nearly always used with a subjunctive:

nęlte naviṣya pądge lum prābē.
four.DIR. book.DIR.SG. be_missing-INF. 1SG.DAT. disgust.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
I'm disgusted by the fact four books are missing.

(cf. the common form nęlte naviṣya pądī lum prābē, using the subjunctive).

As explained above in the section about the subjunctive, verbs such as lelke, vāgdulke (both "to choose"), and mulke (√mun-, to know how to) often take a subjunctive argument, but if their argument is a simple verb + trigger structure (and very often the trigger is a pronoun or determiner, including adverbial ones), then the infinitive is used.

uñjulyom lulke elena.
It has been chosen to walk thither.
guviṣlīce āndṛke maunē.
no_other_way. produce-INF. know_how_to.IND.PRES-3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT
No other way of producing [that] is known.

Such verbs, especially "to choose", may take up to two infinitive arguments, one of them negative. In this case, the ša part of the negative circumfix is omitted:

uñjulyom lulke gu lįke elena.
It has been chosen to walk, not swim, thither.

The infinitive can also be used as a noun, declining as -eh ones and getting a final -h in the direct case. Compared to derived -anah nouns, which denote a process, the nominalized infinitive is often more gnomic or perfective in meaning (dhūlti baucanah makes sense, meaning "learning to write", while dholtani baucanah is grammatically correct but meaningless), but it can also be synonymous in some expressions (e.g. nenyai naviṣyi dholtanęs væse or nenyai naviṣyi dhūltęs væse, both meaning "while writing this book" — if a distinction should be rendered in English, the first one would be translated "during the writing process of this book").

Positional and motion verbs

→ See Chlouvānem positional and motion verbs.

Positional and motion verbs are a semantically and syntactically defined category of Chlouvānem verbs that constitutes one of the most complex parts overall of Chlouvānem grammar, with similar (though often more simplified with time) in all other Lahob languages; the Chlouvānem system is essentially the same as the one reconstructed for Proto-Lahob.

Positional verbs (jalyadaradhūs, pl. jalyadaradhaus) translate verbs such as "to stay", "to be seated", and "to lie", (as well as their middle and causative forms) with prefixes that are semantically comparable to English prepositions. Motion verbs are more similar to English, being satellite-framed (the satellite, in the Chlouvānem case, being the prefix), but there is an added complexity because motion verbs can be monodirectional (tūtugirdaradhūs, -aus) or multidirectional (tailgirdaradhūs, -aus), and most verbs come in pairs, each member of a pair being used in different contexts.

Noun phrase

Direct and vocative cases

The direct case (daradhūkire dirūnnevya) is the most basic form of the Chlouvānem noun. It is most typically used for the "subject", i.e. whatever argument is selected as topic by the trigger on the verb.

phēcam eṇē ānotē.
The cat is lying on the table.
eṇāh phēcamap ānotērā.
It is the table a cat is lying on.

Furthermore, direct case is required by copular verbs. The prototypical example is jalle (to be), usually omitted in the present tense, but other such verbs are birdake (to seem, look like) and snujve (to be worth, to cost).

nanā gūṇa vi.
It is a bird.
nanā gūṇa berdē.
It seems a bird.
nunū nęlte yaltan snijē.
that.MED.DIR. four.DIR. yaltan.DIR.SG. be_worth-IND.PRES.3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
It costs four yaltan.

There are particles which require a noun in the direct case: ga (adpositive), nali (benefactive marker), pa (concerning, about), and ras (antibenefactive marker).

The vocative case (halausire dirūnnevya), which is very often identical in form to the direct, is used for direct address:

lairei ūñjulā tatemišugi!
Lairē, look there [near you]!
mā phēcam yajulā vi?
mother.VOC.SG. cat.DIR.SG. where. be.IND.PRES.3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
Mum, where's the cat?

Non-selected arguments

When an argument is not selected as topic by the trigger, each role has its own case to be used:

  • Patient(transitive verbs) accusative case; (intransitive and interior verbs) essive case; (positional verbs) instrumental case
  • Agent → ergative case
  • Benefacted → direct case + nali
  • Antibenefacted → direct case + ras
  • Location → locative case
  • Instrument → instrumental case
  • Dative argument → dative case

Genitive case

The genitive case (cārūkire dirūnnevya) is most commonly used to express simple possession and always comes before the possessed noun (except for poetry):

nunū lilyai buneyi jṛṣṇa.
that.MED.DIR. my-GEN. female's_older_sister-GEN.SG. backpack.DIR.SG.
That is my older sister's backpack.
nenē hilyamāmi yaivų vāndarlire daṃṣrāṇa.
this.DIR. Hilyamāmah-GEN. all-ABL. be_famous-IND.PRES.3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON. palace.DIR.SG.
This is Hilyamāmah's most famous palace.

The genitive forms of pronouns are peculiar as they decline for case when used attributively:

lilyā nacai
my.DIR. cloth-DIR.PL.
my clothes
lilyai nacumi
my-GEN. cloth-GEN.PL.
of my clothes

A common use of the genitive is to express possession, i.e. what would be translated by the English verb "to have" (there is a Chlouvānem verb, cārake, which is translated as "to have, possess", but it is mostly used in legal or literary contexts, or set phrases). This is especially often done when the possessor is not an explicit topic (as in the second example).

vyāti giṣṭarire lalāruṇa.
hero-GEN.SG. be_young-IND.PRES.3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON. lalāruṇa.DIR.SG.
The hero has a young lalāruṇa.
lili mæn pogi gu cūllanagdha nīk.
My village used not to have a velodrome.

It is very common for English adjectives to correspond to Chlouvānem genitive nouns:

dāšikī daša
monsoon-GEN.SG. rain.DIR.SG.
monsonic rain
chlǣvānumi dhāḍa
Chlouvānem-GEN.PL. language.DIR.SG.
Chlouvānem language

A few intransitive verbs require an argument expressed in the genitive, most commonly ḍhūke (to remember):

namī ḍhvęru.
I remember you.

The genitive case also marks the original patients of causative verbs. In that case, the genitive argument follows the patient of the causative verb (the causee):

tadhultu mbesyaute.
letter-ACC.SG. read_out_loud-EXP-IND.PAST.1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I read the letter out loud.
hamilǣṣṇa lū tadhulti mbesīsekte.
Hamilǣṣṇa.DIR. 1SG.ACC. letter-GEN.SG. read_out_loud-EXP-CAUS-IND.PAST.3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
Hamilǣṣṇa made me read the letter out loud.

Stative cases

The three stative cases of Chlouvānem are the translative (najamarcūkire dirūnnevya), exessive (nanijamarcūkire ~), and essive (jalausire ~) ones, prototypically referring to entrance, exit, and permanence in a given state.

Often, these meanings correlate to nominal tense, with the exessive expressing a past state, the essive a present one, and the translative another in the future:

lili rahēllilan vi.
I am a will-be-doctor. (i.e. "I'm studying to become a doctor.")
praškeva lenta hūrtalgān rahēllailąs jali.
male's_older_brother-GEN.DU. together_with. Hūrtalgān.DIR. doctor-ESS.PL. be.IND.PRES.3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
Hūrtalgān and his two older brothers are all doctors.
lilyā kaleya mæn nanū aveṣyotārire lallāmahan camimurkadhānan gī gu lilullenāvaute ša.
my-DIR. spiritual_friend.DIR.SG. TOPIC. more. be_excellent-IND.PRES.3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON. highness-TRANS.SG. great_inquisitor-TRANS.SG. be.SUBJ.IMPF.3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. NEG=believe.POT-IND.PAST.1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT=NEG.
I could not believe that my best friend was the Great Inquisitor-elect.
chališiroe mæn šulañšenat jalgudām vi.
Chališiroe.DIR. TOPIC. husband-EXESS.SG. Jalgudām.DIR. be.IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
As for Chališiroe, Jalgudām is her former husband.

As a consequence of this, arguments of verbs or nouns implying a thing that would be obtained in the future are put in the translative case. Common words for which this is true include ṛṣmya (intention) and sūṃskake (to deserve):

pudbhan sūṃskiri.
You deserve some sleep.
lili mæn nanān vāndaranan ṛṣmya.
1SG.DIR. TOPIC. that.DISTAL.SG-TRANSL. concert-TRANSL.SG. intention.DIR.SG.
I intend to [go] to that concert.

The verb ndǣke (to become), as well as its pragmatic implications, may be completely replaced by a (zero-)copular sentence by means of the translative (and, possibly, exessive too) case. Such sentences may often only be rendered in English periphrastically:

lūṣyi glūkam nūlismoḍīnat murkadhānan.
Lūṣya-GEN.SG. brother.DIR.SG. leaf.counter-EXESS.SG. inquisitor-TRANS.SG.
Lūṣya's brother, who was a time-waster, is now studying to become an Inquisitor.

The essive is typically used for the patient of most intransitive and interior verbs outside of patient-trigger voice:

meinā nūryāra hulābdān nīkǣdarāhai.
mother.DIR.SG. child-ESS.PL. well. behave-IND.PRES.3PL.EXTERIOR-BENEF.
For/In order to please [their] mother, the children behave well.
dvārma taili uṃręs virā.
room.DIR.SG. many. wardrobe-ESS.SG. be.IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR-LOC.
In the room there are many wardrobes.

The translative is typically used to express purpose if it directly affects the selected argument:

murkadhānan kaminairīveyu.
I am studying in order to become an Inquisitor.
nadaidanan lairęs lā mbeṇḍhē.
get_to_know_person-TRANS.SG. Lairē-ESS. with. walk.MULTIDIR.IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR.AGENT.
(S)he is going out with Lairē in order to get to know her.

Essive and exessive are also used to state what something is made of, or what something was produced from respectively:

māręs jolaną lais hælvaiya
mango-ESS.SG. melon-ESS.SG. and_INCOMPL. fruit_salad.DIR.SG.
a fruit salad predominantly made of mangoes and melons
jolanat lārmis
melon-EXESS.SG. lārmis.DIR.SG.
melon lārmis[9]

The essive is used for arguments referring to states or existence (such as læpake (to consider)):

sū taili hulābdān rahēlliląs læpute.
2SG.INFORMAL.ACC. much. good. doctor-ESS.SG. consider.IND.PRES-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I consider you a very good doctor.

This usage includes stating the quality of the trigger (i.e. what it is) with positional verbs:

nunaihauba martęs līlasuṃghāṇat emibe ga dore ūtimē.
Nunaihauba.DIR. city-ESS.SG. Līlasuṃghāṇa-EXESS. one.DIR. ADP. road-LOC.SG. stand_near_to.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
Nunaihauba is a city close to Līlasuṃghāṇa on Road 1.

The exessive is used to state a cause or reason if it is a concrete noun (the ablative is used for abstract ones):

kita kūrokat kalpire.
house.DIR.SG. harmful_fire-EXESS.SG. damage.IND.PRES-3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON.
The house is damaged because of the fire.

It is also used in order to state something given in exchange for something else, most commonly when talking about money:

emibumaye yaltat nenyau nīmilku ulgutaṃte.
I bought this album for thirteen yaltan.

Locational and instrumental cases

The three locational cases are the dative (męlyausire dirūnnevya, actually a dative+lative case), ablative (tųlunūkire ~), and locative (yuñcūkire ~) ones; they express destination, provenience, and state respectively (see the links in the section below for more).

Aside from destination, the dative expresses the receiver of a ditransitive verb:

dānyom emęlyaṃte.
I've given it to Dāneh.

Similarly, the reverse relation is expressed by the ablative:

bhākrų naviṣyāṣa ilākāltaṃte.
I'm going to take two books from the shelf.

Being semantically opposite, dative and ablative may distinguish different meanings of a same verb:

geṃtrenīs tattelå.
I resist the offences / I endure the offences.
geṃtrasām tattelå.
I resist the offences / I counteract, react to the offences.

The dative is also used for purpose but, while the translative (see above) expresses a purpose directly affecting the trigger, a purpose stated with the dative case is a different object (see example sentence 1) or the result of a subsequent, unstated but pragmatically implied, action (see the second example):

maivnaviṣye maivesām khloyute.
dictionary-LOC.SG. word-DAT.PL. search-IND.PRES.1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I am searching in the dictionary for words.
kǣɂūvi mayābyom rāmyāhai.
Plums are harvested for wine.

Note that the roles are not always the same as in English. The English verb "to teach", for example, has a direct object and a receiver. In Chlouvānem, the corresponding verb baucake strictly means "to teach someone", and is not ditransitive: the things taught are specified with the particle pa, so that the structure may be translated "to teach someone about something", and therefore it does not use the dative case.

The ablative case is also used in comparative structures, marking the thing being compared:

dāneh dulmaidanų nanū lalla.
Dāneh.DIR. Dulmaidana-ABL. more. tall.
Dāneh is taller than Dulmaidana.
nanyā ñæltah jardāmų lāma chlǣcæm pūnē.
your.HIGHER.DIR. sister.DIR.SG. Jardām-ABL. HON. better. work-IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
Your sister works better than Mr. Jardām.
nenē naviṣya yaivų nanū ñæñuchlire.
this.DIR. book.DIR.SG. all-ABL. more. be_beautiful-IND.PRES.3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON.
This book is the most beautiful.

It is also used to state a cause or reason, if it is an abstract noun:

lācų hånyadaikirek.
(S)he was happy for love.

In Archaic Chlouvānem, the instrumental plural was used in order to form adverbs (e.g. maišpūnīka "chain~, as if in a chain"; keɂēnīka "clearly" (← keɂās "glass")); this usage predates Archaic Chlouvānem, as in fact the same inflection was maintained in many other Lahob languages which lost the instrumental case as a derivational, adverb-forming suffix. More rarely, the locative was used instead, a usage which survives in now lexicalized adverbs such as halše "soon" and in the grammaticalized adverbial formant -naise (originally the locative of naisah, Arch. Chl. for "shape", i.e. "in the shape of").

Temporal and spatial case usage

See Chlouvānem positional and motion verbs for spatial case usage.
See Chlouvānem calendar § Expressing time in Chlouvānem for temporal case usage.

Absolute construction

Chlouvānem may use the essive case in order to form an absolute construction which we'll call the "essive absolute" in this section. Much like the Latin ablative absolute, the Chlouvānem essive absolute describes a circumstance which the action takes place in:

ṣūbha nūlastāmą gvamyu lgutatite lenaute.
Having little money, I decided not to buy anything.
rālge læmililąs læmibaganarṣā nutvirek.
gravel-LOC.SG. racing.driver-ESS.SG. team.principal.DIR.SG. be_angry-IND.PAST.3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON.
[Seeing his/her] driver in the gravel, the team principal got angry.

This construction is only possible as long as there is no verb, as Chlouvānem has no participles and such phrases are translated as nonreduced relative clauses. Sometimes this can be done as alternative to the essive absolute, by leaving the noun in direct case instead of using the essive, but there may be possible subtle distinctions in meaning, cf. rālge læmilila læmibaganarṣā nutvirek "as his/her driver was in the gravel, the team principal was angry", where the lack of essive absolute forces the verb nutvake to be read in a continuous, and not inceptive, sense.

The essive absolute may also be used to give a reasoning in exhortations:

kite gu maihadhūgin : talāvi!
My parents aren't home, come over!


A topicalized argument, whether explicitely marked (i.e. with mæn) or not, is always understood to be definite. On the contrary, this is not the case for non-topic arguments, whose definiteness, in most cases, has to be understood by context (obviously, this does not apply to words that are semantically definite - e.g. pronouns or proper names).
Common strategies to mark definiteness are:

  • Simply adding information to the word (e.g. luvai "(a) market" → saṃryojyami lātimi ubgire ṣarivāṃluvai "the state department store on the approach to central Saṃryojyam"). Again, some ambiguity may still remain;
  • Using a determiner - distal nanā "that" is perhaps the most common definiteness marker to resolve ambiguity;
  • Explicitely topicalizing the ambiguous argument (not always possible);
  • A different solution is to mark indefiniteness: this is commonly done by using either emibe "one" or, in colloquial speech, sorasmā "some kind of".

Chlouvānem as spoken in the area around the mid-course of the Nīmbaṇḍhāra river (the central Plain: roughly the whole of the diocese of Raharjātia, most of Jolenītra, Daikatorāma, Vādhātorama, and Namapleta, and parts of Mūrajātana, Perelkaša, Ryogiñjātia and far northern Sendakārva) does have a definite article used with non-topicalized arguments, which is actually the repurposed archaic demonstrative ami (still used as "this" in Archaic Chlouvānem). It declines for case, but not number, mostly following the pronoun declension (that is, exactly as tami without the initial t- except for the accusative (amu) and ergative (amye)).


Multiple anaphora in Chlouvānem is mainly handled by a combination of the use of pronouns and of voice triggers, with the lack of distinct third person pronouns meaning that the pragmatic meaning of the sentence is driven by context nearly as much as by the semantic content.

klætspragis naviṣyu muṣekte lę męligbi no.
Klætspragis asked for the book, and I gave it to him.

In this example, the pronoun "it" is not stated as context adds it to the pragmatic meaning, as the given thing is the book; a redundant "that" (nanau, in accusative case, here) may be added as an explanation but would sound odd to native speakers. Both verbs refer to a single direct case argument, which is the agent in the first clause and the dative argument (receiver) in the second one.

klætspragis naviṣyu muṣekte męligbi no.
Klætspragis asked for the book, and [s]he gave it to him.

A sentence where the agent is a third person is semantically ambiguous as the last clause is limited to a single verb (here "he was given"). Again, the direct argument of that clause is the same as that of the first one, with the same roles as in the sentence above, while it is context which makes clear what the given thing (patient argument) is. A sentence like this one does, however, give no clue about the identity of the latter clause's agent, apart from the actual semantic meaning of the verb "to give" implying there must be an agent, but, anyway, neither does the pronoun in English. This Chlouvānem example sentence therefore would need an explicit agent only when it needs to be specified (see first sentence below) or introduced (see the second one below). Otherwise, it is either clear by the general context (see third example below), or, as in the example given above, it is not an important information included in the pragmatic meaning given by the speaker.

hūrtalgān mæmimausa no talša pa naltekuldat sama klætspragis naviṣyu muṣekte mæmimausei męligbi no.
Hūrtalgān.DIR. Mæmimausa.DIR. and. novel.DIR.SG. about. talk_concerning.IND.PAST-EXP-3DU.EXTERIOR-AGENT. and. Klætspragis.DIR. book-ACC.SG. ask.IND.PAST-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. Mæmimausa-ERG. give.IND.PAST-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR-DATIVE. and.
Hūrtalgān and Mæmimausa were talking about the/a novel; Klætspragis asked for the book, and Mæmimausa gave it to him.
klætspragis naviṣyu muṣekte lilemāvyei męligbi no.
Klætspragis asked for the book, and Lilemāvya gave it to him.
lilemāvya umṝpe āmmirtek sama klætspragis naviṣyu muṣekte męligbi no.
Lilemāvya was sitting on the bench; Klætspragis asked for the book, and she gave it to him.

Comparative sentences

As stated above in the section about the use of the ablative case, comparative sentences (tadmiškiloe, pl. tadmiškilenī) in Chlouvānem are formed by using the adverbial particles nanū (more) or ovat in front of the object of comparison, and using the ablative case for the comparison class.

nenē ūnima eṣanūvu nanū mųrmire.
this.SG.DIR. road.DIR.SG. that.DISTAL.DU-ABL. more. be_long.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
This road is longer than those two.
lilyā kalineh ląu nanū lalla.
1SG.GEN-DIR. female's_younger_sister.DIR.SG. 1SG.ABL. more. tall.
My younger sister is taller than me.
ūnikire mūtṛṣūs murkire nanąu nurmāyų ovat našajeldire.
be_red.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON. liquid_soap.DIR.SG. be_black.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON. that.SG-ABL. soap-ABL.SG. less. be_effective.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
The red liquid soap is less effective than that black soap over there.

"More" can sometimes be omitted, as its absence still implies that "more" is the intended meaning, due to "less" being mandatory instead. However, except for poetry, "more" is never omitted in writing and in formal speech; however, if a comparison class is absent, then "more" may not be omitted:

nenē ūnima eṣanūvu mųrmire.
This road is longer than those two.
nanā nurmai nanū našajeldire.
that.DISTAL.SG.DIR. soap.DIR.SG. more. be_effective.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
That soap is more effective.

Comparative clauses are handled by using the appropriate correlative as a comparison term:

nilyirau utnūḍų nanū lalla vei.
You are taller than I thought. ~ You are tall, more than that extent I thought you to be.

The structure used for superlatives is the same, but the comparison class (ablative case argument) is yaivų (than all). If there is a subset class (often as a marked topic), then yaivų is optional:

nunū pūnas yaivų nanū cami.
that.MEDIAL.SG.DIR. work.DIR.SG. all-ABL. more. important.
That task [you have] is the most important.
nanā nurmai yaivų nanū našajeldire.
that.DISTAL.SG.DIR. soap.DIR.SG. all-ABL. more. be_effective.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
That soap is the most effective.
bāgami saṃhārāk mæn khālbayān (yaivų) nanū mruṣṭhiṭ pūnē.
class-GEN.SG. boy-DIR.PL. TOPIC. Khālbayān.DIR. (all-ABL.) more. be_careful-ADV. work.IND.PRES-3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
Among the boys in the class, Khālbayān [is the one who] works the most carefully.

For those verbs and adverbs which have irregular comparatives (see Chlouvānem morphology § Comparatives and superlatives § Irregular forms), nanū and yaivų nanū are not used, but the syntax is the same:

nenē eṇāh nanąu svaprire.
this.SG.DIR. table.DIR.SG. that.SG-ABL. be_larger.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
This table is larger than that one.
dvārma mæn nenē eṇāh sprauṣire.
room.DIR.SG TOPIC. this.SG.DIR. table.DIR.SG. be_the_largest.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
Among those in the room, this table is the largest one.

Attributive comparatives

The syntax used is the same when the verbs are used attributively:

dirūn nali nanū gęṇṭire ṣryaḍhīnu rileimiṃte.
role.DIR.SG. for. more. be_old.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON. actor-ACC.SG. need.IND.PRES-1P.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
For [that] role we need an older actor/actress.
yaivų (nanū) našajeldire nurmai ulguta.
The most effective soap has been bought.
bāgami nanū dadṛnausirāhe tarlāmąlelyē chlærausirekkǣ.
It was easy for the most skilled students in the class.

Equatives and other comparative forms

Equatives are formed by using e (like), which requires the essive case; enūḍa (this much) may be optionally added. "not as ..." uses, instead of enūḍa, mandatorily, gu taili (not [as] much):

lilyā kalineh lįs e (enūḍa) lalla.
1SG.GEN-DIR. female's_younger_sister.DIR.SG. 1SG.ESS. like. (this_much.) tall.
My younger sister is (just) as tall as me.
yāmurtān hamilǣṣṇa ga ñæltęs e gu taili dadṛnausire.
Yāmurtān.DIR. Hamilǣṣṇa.DIR. ADP. sister-ESS.SG. like. not. much. be_skilled.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
Yāmurtān is not as skilled as his sister Hamilǣṣṇa.

Continuous enhancement is made by deriving new verbs with the naš- prefix instead of using a comparative-like structure:

yaiva pārṇame našñæñuchlire.
all.DIR day-LOC.SG. not. get_more_beautiful.IND.PRES-3S.INTERIOR.COMMON.
(S)he becomes more beautiful each day.

Comparing sentences with two different verbs requires the structure [sentence 1] + nanąu (ablative of nanā "that", i.e. "than that") + optionally ni (but) + [sentence 2]:

yæyite nanąu ni nanū nūpsiṭ dholtute.
I write faster than you read.


The Chlouvānem construction for "only" is, grammatically, a comparative, with the thing that is "only" in the ablative case, compared to a positive alternative correlative (or, in some cases, nanū) in a negative sentence:

nęltayų viṣāmi gu vi ša, gu našabuṃṣanah!
4_mark-ABL.SG. something_else. NEG=be.PRES.IND.3SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.=NEG. – no. drought.DIR.SG.
It's only a nęltayas[10], it's not a disaster!
lārvājuṣų viñjulyom gu lå ša.
yunyalīlti_temple-ABL.SG. elsewhither. NEG=walk.UNIDIR.PRES.IND.1SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.=NEG.
I'm just going to the temple.
lillaukų nanū gu yaccechlašute ša.
Just a moment, please.

An exactly synonymous construction is made by using the negative alternative correlative in a positive sentence. It is, usually, perceived as much more formal and somewhat more posh than the above:

lārvājuṣų guviñjulyom lå.
yunyalīlti_temple-ABL.SG. nowhither_else. walk.UNIDIR.PRES.IND.1SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
I'm just going to the temple.

Note that this does not apply to every single instance of English "only". "If only" is usually translated with the adverb lūminaise (from Arch. Chl. lūmas "prosperity"), while "not only" as gu emibunaise (nearly perfectly matching French "pas uniquement").

To like and to prefer

In Chlouvānem, the usual way of expressing the concept represented by the English verb "to prefer" is to use a comparative with the verb "to like", i.e. "to like more":

mārenīs lēn mbinē.
I like mangoes.
mārenīs lēn nanū mbinē.
I prefer mangoes.
mārenīs julkhenīs lēn nanū mbinē.
I prefer mangoes to peaches.
julkhenīs lēn mbinē, mārenīs ni nanū.
peach-EXESS.PL. 1SG.LOC. like.IND.PRES.3S.PATIENT.EXTERIOR. mango-EXESS.PL. but. more.
I like peaches, but I prefer mangoes.

Relative clauses

Chlouvānem relative clauses are nonreduced and work exactly the same way as adjectival verbs do: both clauses are independent. Time, place, and similar things (like interrogative content clauses) are expressed with a distal correlative (see the table of correlatives).
The structure is thus as follows:

nanā jāyim sę mešē lilyā buneya.
that.SG.DIR. girl.DIR.SG. 2S.ERG. see-IND.PRES.3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. 1S.GEN. older_sister.DIR.SG.
That girl you see is my older sister.

Other examples:

mešute gu tarliru ša.
I don’t know/understand what I see.
nanau kulekte ātmena gu tarliru ša.
I don’t know why (s)he said that.

The same strategy is used for attributes — kamilire pluta "blue bag" or "bag that is blue", including participial-like structures such as the following ones:

lilei pryemęlya pluta - the bag which has been given back by the person (literally: "by the person it has been given back, the bag")
plutu pritēmęlya lila - the person who has given back the bag
plutu dhurvāneiti prikevemęlya lila - the person for whose benefit the bag has been given back to the police
plutu ītulom prituremęlya lila - the person for whose misfortune the bag has been given back to the thief
håmarṣūvī nīpanotē pluta - the bag in which the keys lie
plutu primbyemęlya lila - the person who has been given back the bag
plutua demye maihei primbyemęlya lila - the person who has been given back the bag by his/her own daughter
ītulu lāṇṭaṃrye lilei utugamǣ pluta - the bag with which the thief has been hit on the head by the person

This "attributive" construction is very commonly used. In fact, the first example in this section may be more commonly found as sę mešē jāyim lilyā buneya.

Such constructions can also be used where English uses gerundive constructions:

plutu demye maihei primbyemęlya lila hånyadaikirek.
bag-ACC.SG. one's_own-ERG. daughter-ERG. give.back-IND.PERF.3.EXTERIOR-DAT. person.DIR.SG. be_happy-IND.PAST.3SG.INTERIOR.COMMON.
The person, having been given back the bag by his/her own daughter, was happy.
ālīce guṃsek lilyā pamih uyūṭarumi rileyek.
My finger, having been cut that way, needed an operation.
panaɂetatimu læmilāṇe arūppumei ilakatū læmilila menire memiṃsūyiṣya.
pole_position-ACC.SG. championship-LOC.SG. rival-ERG.SG. take-IND.PERF.3.EXTERIOR-ANTIBEN. driver.DIR.SG. tomorrow. risk-NECESS-IND.FUT.3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
The driver, being disadvantaged as (his/her) championship rival has taken pole position, will have to take some risks tomorrow.

To avoid nestling a sentence inside another one, outside of aulic styles the sentences are simply juxtaposed; the first of the following examples is grammatically correct, but virtually every Chlouvānem speaker prefers a simpler structure like the second one:

kaminæne lære læjle ānotē lę amboya no naviṣyu yæyute.
now. yesterday. chair-LOC.SG. lie_on.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. 1SG.ERG. find_accidentally.IND.PERF-EXP-3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. and. book-ACC.SG. read.IND.PRES-EXP-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT
I am now reading the book that yesterday I accidentally found lying on a chair.
læjle ānotē naviṣyu lære amboyaṃte kaminæne naviṣyu yæyute.
chair-LOC.SG. lie_on.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. book-ACC.SG. yesterday. find_accidentally.IND.PERF-EXP-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. now. book-ACC.SG. read.IND.PRES-EXP-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT
I am now reading the book that yesterday I accidentally found lying on a chair.

Correlative adverbs and arguments with particles

Structures corresponding to those formed with subordinating conjunctions in most European languages are also not reduced, and built by using the appropriate correlative in the sentence that corresponds to the main clause in those languages. For example, a temporal correlative "when [S1], [S2]" is realized as "[S1], then, [S2]" as in the sentence given below:

lilyā ñæltah līlekhaitom tesmudhiṣya ātiya lei lairkeikom lāvasiṣya.
1SG.GEN.DIR . male's_sister.DIR.SG. Līlekhaitē-DAT. depart_with_plane-IND.FUT.3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. then. 1S.ERG. airport-DAT.SG. go_with.IND.FUT.3S.EXTERIOR.PATIENT.
When my sister takes the plane to Līlekhaitē, I will go with her to the airport.
sei mbavemikrā vyāɂāñjulyom elīsāltam.
I'll walk there to the left, where [you told me/I was told] you accidentally found [it].
lilyā glūkam adradhvate ālīce dadrāltaṃte.
I'm going to do it the way my brother managed to.
sei tandāmek utnūḍa alavih milkute.
I'm taking as many bottles as you found.

A similar construction is also used for arguments which are marked by particles:

naviṣya pa naltekuldat nanau eyiyaṃte.
I have read the book they were talking about.

Indirect interrogative clauses


The word pūmbu (whether) marks indirect interrogative clauses; unlike most particles (the other exception being , which it is derived from), it is normally found at the beginning of the sentence.

pūmbu yanahuppē gu tarliru ša.
I don't know, whether [others] are making fun of her/him.

Often, the clause marked by pūmbu may have a volitive meaning:

pūmbu yanahuppē kamitehūgupīk.
whether. make_fun_of-EXP-IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. check_looking_around.INTENS-EXP-IND.PAST.3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
(S)he kept looking around, [to see] whether [others] were making fun of her/him.
pūmbu yaiva amāla gupugite.
Check whether everything is in order.

Sentential subjects and objects

Chlouvānem often uses juxtaposition even among its structures expressing sentential subjects and objects, not requiring any linking word.

Sentences expressing judgement are often translatable with evidentials (and are therefore single-clause):

kite uɂē.
It's probable that (s)he is at home.
lilyā purvās pūnebyē.
It seems that my son is working, but I doubt it.
lilyā purvās pūnenabē.
They say that my son is working, but I doubt it.

Other sentences are simply juxtaposed, not subordinated, despite being integral components of the sentence. A dummy "that" in the appropriate case may be inserted if the required case is not direct, accusative, or ergative, but it's often omitted:

kānyahǣṣa demyāṣati dṛkte [nanāt] yavita pęrdirek?
Whom did that Kānyahǣṣa did [it] her way annoy?

This strategy is also used where English would use content clauses as complements of nouns:

lilemāvya nenyau graṇūmu milkekte [nanau] gu lillute ša.
I don't believe [the fact that] Lilemāvya made this mistake.

Declarative content clauses

Declarative content clauses are built in two possible ways: one using juxtaposed clauses, mandatory when the tenses differ and otherwise more proper of common speech, and a more formal one with the infinitive:

ṣastirvam svātārṣake ndulširu.
Ṣastirvam.DIR. be_right-INF. be_sure.IND.PRES-EXP-INTERIOR-1SG.COMMON.
I am sure Ṣastirvam is right.
ṣastirvam svātārṣire ndulširu.
I am sure Ṣastirvam is right.

Indirect speech is generally handled through the use of a quotative marker (see the corresponding section), but such declarative content clauses are typically used with verbs of perception:

laukhlyai bismṛcce mišaute.
small_aquatic_lizard-DIR.PL. run_away.MONOD-INF. see.IND.PAST-EXP-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I saw the lizards run away.
kalineh kitom naliven mendute.
female's_younger_sister.DIR.SG. house-DAT.SG.. walk_into.MONOD.IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR.AGENT-EXP. hear.IND.PRES-EXP-1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT..
I hear my sister walking into the house.

Conditional sentences

Conditional sentences in Chlouvānem grammar are those generally introduced by the particle , meaning "if". There are three general types of conditional sentences: factual (with deductive as a subtype), predictive (with non-past speculative as a subtype), and (past) speculative.

Factual sentences are those where the sentence expresses an implication that is always true. These sentences are always in the indicative mood; note that in real, just like in hypothetical, sentences, mārim (then) is optionally used in order to introduce the second clause:

pū hālyanēṃṣom vasi ndaheɂinē ga lārvājuṣu mišiṣyeste.
if. Hālyanēṃṣah-DAT. go_with_vehicle.MONODIR.IND.PRES-2SG.EXTERIOR.AGENT. Ndaheɂinē.DIR. ADP. temple-ACC.SG. see.IND.FUT-2SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
If you go to Hālyanēṃṣah, you'll see the Ndaheɂinē Temple.
pū yamei naikū lāma udhyuɂeste, mārim tailīsālta.
If you have called Ms. Naikā, she will come. OR: [...] she's expected to come.

In factual (and deductive) conditional sentences, there are some rules governing tenses:

  • present in both clauses is only possible if they are contemporaneous (pū lalyā vi, suyah vi "if it's night, it's dark");
  • otherwise, a present if-clause needs to be followed by a future main clause. In these sentences (see the examples above), the future simple is exclusively imperfective (including marking a possibility which isn't time-dependant), and the future intentional is exclusively perfective.
  • past tense in the if-clause is represented by the perfect in almost all cases (pū umuṣeste, draute/dadrāṃte "if you asked, I did/have done it"), except when semantics demand imperfective aspect (pū daša stāṭ, lelyē kite lįnukinaika "if it was raining, people likely stayed home").

As in the example given for the past tense if-clause, deductive sentences are built exactly like factual ones, but the main clause verb carries an assumptive evidential (-ukin(a)-):

pū daša sturiṣya lelyē kite lįniṣyukina.
If it rains, people will likely stay home.

Predictive conditional sentences and non-past speculative conditional ones are built mostly in the same way, with the if-clause having an imperfective subjunctive verb and the main clause having a choice between indicative or subjunctive, with tense and aspect dependant on meaning. The indicative in the main clause denotes a very high probability the result will happen should the condition be fulfilled; speculative conditionals never use the indicative in the main clause, and may be distinguished by adding the adverb lūminaise after .

lili mæn pū nanū nūlastām gī lališire hāris ulgutāṃta.
If I had more money, I'd surely buy a new carpet.
lili mæn pū nanū nūlastām gī lališire hāris lgutēt.
If I had more money, I'd buy a new carpet.
pū nenē tuheiladom kitī āndriṣya.
If this were included in the [next] six-year plan, it would be built.

lili mæn pū lūminaise maibu nūlastām gī lališire cūlla lgutēt.
If only I had enough money, I'd buy a new car.

Past speculative conditionals, due to the condition not being possible anymore, have the if-clause mandatorily in the perfective subjunctive, while the aspect of the main clause, still always subjunctive, depends on the intended meaning/collocation in time.

mei tati pū kulētate yaiva gātarirya.
If I had said "yes", everything would be different (now)."
mei tati pū kulētate nanā gu najēt ša.
If I had said 'yes', that wouldn't have happened.

If the if-clause is omitted, then a declarative particle e is usually put at the end of the sentence:

lili mæn emibat yaltat lgutēt e!
I'd buy it for one yaltan!

Other complex sentences

Complex sentences in Chlouvānem are often either independent clauses or attributives to particles or grammaticalized nouns.

Concession clauses

The typical way of building a concession clause (ṭvāketanęs kulkāram) is by simply coordinating two clauses with ni (but):

yaivita tattekilē, nelyęru nanau ni ukulāltaṃte.
Everyone is protesting, but I will [still] say what I think. ~ Even if everyone is protesting, I will say what I think.

In less colloquial styles, the additional clause may have a subjunctive verb followed by daudī:

yaivita tattekulī daudī, nelyęru nanau ni ukulāltaṃte.
Despite everyone being protesting, I will say what I think.

The particle ni is also used to implicitly form a concessive clause using the essive absolute:

giṣṭarą juṃgale ni lǣt.
young_person-ESS.SG. diocesan_synod-LOC.SG. but. already.
Even if (s)he is young, (s)he is already [a member of] the Diocesan Synod.

Another way of building a concession clause is to use (if) with a subjunctive verb and a polarly opposite main clause in the indicative; this is mostly done when the topic of both clauses is the same.

pū daudatite gu dadarṇāyute ša.
Even if I want to, I can't do it.
pū gu daudatite ša dardṛṣūyute.
Even if I don't want to, I have to do it.

Hypothetical concessives are built by using in the concessive, connecting the main clause with ni and optionally using an adverb such as jahān (anyway). Both clauses need to be in the subjunctive, and in this case after there must be a perfective subjunctive:

pū galtargyom namirtirēt (jahān) ṭhivēt ni.
if. train-DAT.SG. sit_inside.SUBJ.PERF-EXP-3-INTERIOR.COMMON (anyway.) be_late/slow.SUBJ.PERF-EXP-3.EXTERIOR.PATIENT. but.
Had (s)he taken the train, (s)he would have been late anyway.

Causal and consecutive clauses

Not unlike Latin, Chlouvānem distinguishes between objective (gu tatikilenūkire 'non-reportative') and subjective (tatikilenūkire 'reportative') causal clauses (amyąuvą kulkārāk, sg. kulkāram). The unmarked ones are objective, and marked by particles such as nyąu or along with an indicative mood verb; subjective causals are built the same way, but mandatorily need a reportative evidential.

nanā mæn rileyiṣyaṃte nyąu maitemęlyu.
Because I'll be needing it, I'm preparing it. ~ I'm preparing it because I will need it in the future.
nanā mæn lilemāvya rileyiṣyemyate nyąu maitemęlyē.
that.DIR. TOP. Lilemāvya.DIR need.IND.FUT-REP1-3.EXTERIOR-AGENT. because. prepare.IND.PRES-EXP-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
As, she says, she'll need it in the future, Lilemāvya is preparing it.

Especially in more colloquial styles, it is possible to juxtapose clauses (optionally with a correlative of reason) to explain the cause. Technically, in this case, one could analyze either the first clause as a causal or the second one as consecutive.

menire kimbahēšyom galtargyom nememirtsoliram nupsiṭ kāvupudbhāliram no.
tomorrow. Kimbahēši-DAT. train-DAT.SG. sit_inside.NECESS-IND.FUTINT-EXP-1SG-COMMON.INTERIOR. be_early-ADV. wake_up.IND.FUTINT-EXP-1SG-COMMON.INTERIOR. and.
Tomorrow I need to get on the train to Kimbahēši and [so] I'll wake up early.
menire kimbahēšyom galtargyom nememirtsoliram emena nupsiṭ kāvupudbhāliram.
tomorrow. Kimbahēši-DAT. train-DAT.SG. sit_inside.NECESS-IND.FUTINT-EXP-1SG-COMMON.INTERIOR. herefore. be_early-ADV. wake_up.IND.FUTINT-EXP-1SG-COMMON.INTERIOR.
Tomorrow I need to get on the train to Kimbahēši, for this reason I'll wake up early.

The causal may also be rendered by using an essive absolute:

rahēlkite ħaiɂlañšįs ṣastirvam givūrų nupsiṭ bisavasālta.
hospital-LOC.SG. wife.HON-ESS.SG. Ṣastirvam.DIR. factory-ABL.SG. be_early-ADV. go_away_by_vehicle.MONODIR.IND.FUTINT-EXP-3.PATIENT.EXTERIOR.
His wife being in hospital, Ṣastirvam will leave [work at] the factory early.

Consecutive clauses of the form "X is so Y that Z" are rendered through a parallel construction with Z as an infinitive attributed to a repeated Y:

taili naviṣyu eyiyaṃte, mešīnu raglake eyiyaṃte.
I read so many books my eyes got tired.

In cases such as the previous example, where there's a temporal element involved, the sentence could be rephrased by using sām (until):

lilyā mešīn raglēt sām taili naviṣyu eyiyaṃte.
I read many books, until my eyes got tired.


Chlouvānem negates sentences by using the circumfix gu(n) ... ša on the verb:

nanāt lēn gu mbinē ša.
I don't like it.
martayinām dvārmu gu nadāmek ša.
Martayinām didn't walk into the room.
ejulā gun ū ša
I'm not here.

The ša part of the circumfix is omitted if the verb is attributive:

ṣveya gun ujunya ša.
The wall hasn't been painted.
gun ujunya ṣveya
the wall that hasn't been painted
gu kāmilire alūs
the bottle that isn't blue

Double negatives are not proper in Chlouvānem — negating a sentence with a negative correlative makes it affirmative:

guvitu mešute.
I see no one.
grāmvitu gu mešute ša.
I don't see anyone.
guvitu gu mešute ša.
*I don't see no one → I see someone.

Such a sentence using a double negation is grammatical, however, it is quite marked: a better translation could be "it is definitely not true that I see no one."

Note that ša is pronounced as if it were written *ṣa, thus [ʂä], if the verb ends with -k, as in most 3SG past tense forms.


Chlouvānem yes-no questions are formed with the particle dam at the end of the sentence:

nanāt nēn mbinē "you like it" → nanāt nēn mbinē dam? "do you like it?"
martayinām dvārmu nadāmek "Martayinām walked into the room" → martayinām dvārmu nadāmek dam? "did Martayinām walk into the room?"

If the sentence is negative, the ... ša part of the circumfix is omitted:

ejulā gu vi ša "(s)he/it is not here" → ejulā gu vi dam? "is (s)he/it not here?"

Choice questions may be formed with dam just like yes-no ones, or may be expanded in a form such as "do you X... or do you X?". dam is only included once, at the end:

javileh nę daudē : grāšatis nę daudē mbu dam? "do you want apples or persimmons?" (lit. "you want apples, or do you want persimmons?")

Non-polar questions are formed by using an interrogative (ya-) correlative, without dam. Unlike English, there is no mandatory wh-fronting in Chlouvānem (word order is usually flexible enough to allow all possibilities):

nenē kita lilyą naimęs liląrā "in this house lives my maternal aunt" → nenē kita yavitęs liląrā? "who lives in this house?"
jalgudām demyą praškigin lā luvāyom liven "Jalgudām is walking to the store with his two older brothers" → jalgudām yavitęs lā luvāyom liven? "with whom is Jalgudām walking to the store?"

nane and naihā are "emphatic particles" used in informal Chlouvānem which work like English tag questions; nane expects an answer of the same polarity as the question, while naihā expresses doubt or expectation of a contradictory answer (it can be translated as ", or...?"). dam is not omitted:

saṃryojyame lilaši dam nane? "you live in Saṃryojyam, don't you?"
lære dṛk dam naihā? "it was done yesterday, or...?"

Yes and no

As far as yes-no answers are concerned, Chlouvānem is an agreement language: the words mei (yes) and go (no) have respectively the same and the opposite polarity as the question - translating them as "true" and "false" might give a better idea of how they are used.

kite vei dam? "are you at home?" — mei kite ū "yes, I'm home" ("it's true, I'm home")
kite gu vei dam? "are you not at home?" — mei kite gun ū ša "yes, I'm not home" ("it's true, I'm not home")
kite vei dam? "are you at home" — go kite gun ū ša "no, I'm not home" ("it's false, I'm not home")
kite gu vei dam? "are you not at home?" — go kite ū "no, I'm home" ("it's false, I'm home")

Quoted speech

The English distinction between direct and indirect speech is not present in Chlouvānem; instead, it uses a quotative particle, tati, which follows a quoted sentence; this instance of quoted speech is used basically everywhere English uses indirect speech:

håltęrata tati kulaikate.
They said they were ready. (or: "They said 'we are ready.'")
dvārme palyu jonyegde tati demyai maihi lāṃryāṇom kulekte.
room-LOC.SG. face-ACC.SG. paint.IND.PERF-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. QUOT. REFL.GEN-GEN. daughter-GEN.SG. relationship_partner-DAT.SG. say.IND.PAST-3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
(S)he told his/her daughter's boyfriend/girlfriend that she is painting her face in her room.
cāṃkṝsiṭ, karthāgo bīdruga tati vvlirute.
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam. (literally: "last [but not least], I think: 'Carthage must be destroyed.'")
cāṃkṝsiṭ, karthāgo bīdruga tati vvlirute.
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam. (literally: "last [but not least], I think: 'Carthage must be destroyed.'")
chilamulka mæn asenabhan lut bhrūvau, ṛcñahaidyāvaih yæyaute tati kulekte, kaminæne ni byudikyurbajñāvaih yæyuɂegde.
Chilamulka.DIR. TOP. month-ABL.DU. ago. meet-EXP-IND.PAST.1SG.PATIENT.EXTERIOR., work_of_Ṛcñahaidī-ACC.PL. read-EXP-IND.PRES.1SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT. QUOT. say-EXP-IND.PAST.3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT., now. but. work_of_Büdikürbey-ACC.PL. read-INF1-IND.PRES.3SG.EXTERIOR-AGENT.
I met Chilamulka two months ago and she said she was reading Ṛcñahaidī, while now, as far as I can tell, she's reading Büdikürbey.

This is the norm even in more complex sentences:

hānihæmma mæn jæhimīnta utsmā taili lācāk menni, lānicunyų nanū gun ē ša mīmišvayatite nin lañšijijeltsute tati yaiva laltesām kulekte.
Hānihæmma loved Jæhimīnta so much that she1 told all her1 friends that she1 wanted to marry her2 after having seen her2 for only one lunar phase![11]

The verb tṛlake "to know, to understand" simply requires the sentences to be juxtaposed. Note that Chlouvānem uses the natural sequence of tenses:

ajāɂilbādhyom pūrṣei tarliru.
I know you went to Ajāɂilbādhi.
ajāɂilbādhyom pūrṣei tṛlirau.
I knew you had been to Ajāɂilbādhi.

Future in the past also uses juxtaposed sentences, with the future meaning being shown by the general future tense:

ajāɂilbādhyom pūrṣiṣyes gu tṛlirau ša.
I did not know you would have been to Ajāɂilbādhi.
nūrya mæn gṇyāvirek ātiya gatvān ndēviṣya tati lūṣya tṛlirek.
Lūṣya knew, when it was born, that her child would become chief.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Twelfth day of the second lunar phase, one of six full rest days every lunar month.
  2. ^ Chlouvānem age reckoning counts the number of the ongoing year, not how many years have passed - thus a newborn is in its first year, and a 20-years-old is in its twenty-first year.
  3. ^ A kind of tropical seal, iconic and sacred in Chlouvānem culture.
  4. ^ In Chlouvānem literally "one who counts leaves".
  5. ^ A small bar focussed on music performances.
  6. ^ Example taken from the translation activity "1249th Just Used 5 Minutes of Your Day" started by u/mareck_ on the r/conlangs subreddit, Apr 26, 2020, adapted for the purpose of this page.
  7. ^ Diminutive of Kālomīyeh.
  8. ^ The necessitative junya conveys a stronger obligation than rileike, cf. English "must" vs. "have to".
  9. ^ A Chlouvānem fruit brandy.
  10. ^ The lowest passing school mark used in most dioceses of the Inquisition.
  11. ^ Example taken from a translation challenge on the Constructed Languages Facebook group, posted on Sep 8, 2018, adapted for the purpose of this page.
  12. ^ Example taken from the translation activity "1282nd Just Used 5 Minutes of Your Day" started by u/mareck_ on the r/conlangs subreddit, Jun 23, 2020, adapted for the purpose of this page.