Common (na Xafen)
Flag of the New World Order
|Created by||Peter K. Davidson|
|Native speakers||~800 million, 4.5 billion L2 (2115)|
|Dialects||Old Common, High Common, various Low Common|
|Writing system||Common alphabet (Roman alphabet without b, d, g, q and v)|
|Official language in||New World Order|
Na Akkatemi na Xafen Zisse|
(Common Language Academy)
Common is a language spoken on Earth 0077. In that dimension, almost the entire planet is dominated by a polity called the New World Order. Almost all media obtained from that dimension are in the Common language, although there is ample evidence of natural languages we are familiar with from our own dimension still being spoken.
The histories of Earth 0077 and our own dimension appear nearly identical until the early 2020s, where we presume they begin to diverge significantly. One major early difference is that the COVID-19 pandemic did not occur in that dimension, instead records refer to a similar but later COVID-23 global pandemic. Because of the dominance of Common in most public life in Earth 0077, the aetherscope has been able to recover an abundance of materials in Common from this dimension but little in the way of exposition on the Common language itself in English. Our greatest source on the Common language itself is a blog published in the Free State of Britain, which is apparently the sole remaining polity on earth where English remains dominant.
The writer, who writes under the pseudonym "Trafalgar," writes in English for an English-speaking audience. They appear to be a former adventurer and current academic, and the purpose of their blog is to provide information on Common and the New World Order for British people. It seems that they write under a pseudonym in order to provide unvarnished, nuanced opinions without suffering personal, negative consequences. They write as though they may have collaborators, but all posts thus far have been tagged as posted by Trafalgar, and there is no definite evidence of other collaborators.
Earth 0077 is interesting because it is time-slipped relative to our own. For that reason, it is a potential source of new technologies, as well as information and cautions about the dangers we may face in our own time. The aetherscope accesses that dimension at a time point with a constant offset from our own that appears to be approximately 100 years in the future.
Trafalgar's Common Social Resource blog is mirrored in real time at the link given here, but frustratingly, they don't include the year in their article publication dates, and the publication date is updated every time they edit and release a new version of an article, which is frequently. Trafalgar's materials are invaluable, however, because they allow us to understand potentially useful materials from Earth 0077 with much greater ease than would otherwise be possible, and their exposition about the New World Order, while necessarily limited and biased, has nevertheless been hugely helpful in understanding the context of other materials recovered from that dimension. They appear to be exceptionally knowledgeable about the New World Order and at least make an attempt at academic objectivity, as a number of their assertions that researchers initially questioned turned out to be corroborated and confirmed by other sources.
We have relied heavily on Trafalgar's work to create this article, some of which is copied word-for-word from the Common Social Resource blog.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Phonology
- 3 Orthography
- 4 Parts of Speech
- 5 Syntax
- 6 Morphology
- 6.1 Verbs
- 6.2 Nouns and Pronouns
- 6.3 Relative Pronouns and Dependent Clauses - Nar Zereu Samorka (su and si)
- 6.4 Modifiers
- 6.5 Conjunctions
- 6.6 Derivational Morphology
- 7 Vocabulary
- 8 Example Text - The Globalist Manifesto
Common is the official and main working language of the New World Order (NWO - in Common, na Lufis Sufetysyn na Onpa or LSO). The NWO is the dominant governmental authority on Earth 0077, claiming to be the sole, rightful global sovereignty. The Order appears to control the entire planet with the exception of the Five Free States ("nar suz ikrowéteras sifysyn" in Common, "the five noncompliant states"), consisting of Britain, Québec, Israel, South Korea and Japan. These five states are all nuclear powers, and are able to exclude the authority of the New World Order from their territory. The Order is able to effectively control the rest of Earth 0077, and from the Order's perspective, the Free States are not legitimate, independent sovereignties, but NWO states in a state of noncompliance.
Common is the first language of about 800 million people, or approximately 11% of the global population, and is estimated to have approximately 4.5 billion second language speakers. These figures come from the 2115 Global Census. However, as Trafalgar writes about their world, "Yes, technological civilization survived and yes, some areas of technology like computers and biotech are more refined, but in general, the modern world is tired and broken and cruel, and healing only slowly." The Order's ability to gather data is hence somewhat flawed despite its technological advantages, and the Order itself is far from transparent. These figures need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, enough corroboration exists that we believe they are roughly correct.
These numbers understate the importance of Common. Those 800 million people represent the entire elite class and most of the professional class in the NWO. Virtually all education and public life is conducted in that language, and other languages appear to be driven to a substratum position. The time point observed by the aetherscope appears to be one where language replacement of most natural languages by Common on a massive scale is in its early phases but advancing rapidly.
The language is always referred to as "Common" when speaking about it in English, and the name of the language is similarly translated when referring to it in other languages. The native name is 'na Xafen zisse' ('the Common language') or just 'na Xafen' (Common), pronounced /na 'ʃa.ven/.
Common is a constructed language. The New World Order plans to officially celebrate its centennial in 2122. It was invented by amateur language creator Peter K. Davidson for use on an early 21st century television show (what Trafalgar insists in calling a "screenshow") called Hillbillies, and developed a devoted fan following. It later became associated with the Globalist mass movement where it was used as a code language, and then began a new life as a global lingua franca when the Globalists achieved ascendancy and founded the New World Order in 2043.
Common is an a priori constructed language with extensive real-world language contact influences. Its creator was commissioned to create a language that wasn't based on any existing language and that would seem unfamiliar or disorienting to an audience and not evoke any particular real-world society, but that would not pose an undue challenge for English speaking actors. It was important that actors be able to pronounce the language, but not important that they understand what they were saying. Hence, Common is relatively prosaic phonologically from an English perspective but has some relatively stranger qualities in other respects.
Common has isolating tendencies. It prefers an SVO word order but uses case marking on its mandatory articles and has relatively free phrase order. It uses ergative-absolutive alignment, which is unusual for an SVO language, but Trafalgar speculates that Davidson didn't have a full grasp on what he was doing when he created this aspect of Common. It does not have grammatical gender, but the original version of the language did, and traces of the original system remain in the language.
The structure of Common is very pro-drop with many elements in specific roles being able to be dropped very readily. Verbs are unique for declaring their core argument structure without agreeing with any of their arguments. All arguments to a verb may be dropped if clear from context. Old Common had an abstract/concrete gender distinction, but this was lost in the transition to modern High Common.
Common is notable for a very specific phrase structure with both head first and head last qualities. Every phrase has a left head that carries all of the grammatical information and a right head that carries the most salient semantic information. It has four cases, three numbers, two tenses, two aspects and two moods, as well as declaring five valence patterns.
Common defines its own linguistic concepts and forces people to deal with them. Trafalgar is often at pains to point out where Common is making up its own categories and terminology that they regard as nonstandard or incorrect. This is seen particularly with parts of speech. The parts of speech of Common are determiners (mandatory articles that introduce noun phrases and mandatory auxiliary verbs that introduce verb phrases), terms (a collapsed class of nouns and verbs that get their "noun-ness" or "verb-ness" from the determiner they are used with), modifiers (prepositions, adjectives and adverbs), conjunctions, and interjections.
Trafalgar has written a more extensive history of the language, and a number of other articles that fill in significant gaps in Common's history as we know it. The first Hillbillies episodes with dialog in Common aired in 2022, so the substantial work of the creating the language was probably performed in 2021-2022.
Peter K. Davidson claims to have followed a naturalistic process to create the Common language, but Trafalgar, for one, clearly doubts this was actually the case. They seem to think that Davidson gave Common some attributes designed to make it look like it was created in a naturalistic fashion (i.e., evolved from a constructed protolanguage following the principles of historical linguistics to create a language that looks like the product of normal linguistic evolution).
Davidson died during civil unrest in 2031 at the age of 44 and his husband followed not long after, and it appears few of his personal notes survived. Davidson's death marks the end of the fan- and creator-driven growth of the language and the transition into Common being more the possession of young, radical Globalists who had significant overlap with the Hillbillies fan base and who used it as a kind of code speech.
The language underwent extensive evolution between its creation in ca. 2021 and its adoption as the official language of the New World Order in 2043. During this period, the world went through the Global Collapse, a devastating and protracted unraveling of the global economy and national and global institutions coupled with an accelerating and multifaceted environmental crisis. Common underwent phonological and grammatical changes during this time, especially the loss of gender and the re-purposing of the gender agreement morphology to mark a definite/indefinite distinction on nouns and to take over the realis/irrealis marking on verbs. It also coined and borrowed a large amount of new vocabulary.
Na Akkatemi na Xafen Zisse, the "Common Language Academy," or "AXZ," was created in 2043 to codify the Common language. Under the leadership of David Chang, the formal language today known as "High Common" was codified in a way that attempted to both make it standard and universal, but within that to keep it as close to the actual speech of elite speakers as possible. This had the effect of formalizing the changes away from Old Common, the language of Hillbillies. The AXZ was tasked with hiring an army of experts in every field imaginable to coin a huge amount of new vocabulary and terminology to make Common a fully competent replacement for English.
Since roughly the 2060s, changes to official High Common have slowed down, and at the same time, adoption of the language has grown exponentially. Common is the language of education and public life, and parents who are speakers of other languages will often speak only Common to their children, so their children will grow up as native speakers and obtain social and economic advantages. At the same time, the status of other languages has cratered, and English in particular outside the protective oasis of Britain has fallen dramatically in status.
Common has one main official form, High Common, which is regulated by the AXZ and which has only minor global variation among educated speakers. The is the form of Common used in the media and in writing and taught in school. In addition, every locality has a dialect of Low Common. Low Common has huge geographic variation in phonology, vocabulary and grammar, and typically strong substratum language influences.
The elites are all native Common-speakers and speak High Common. Below them, the professional classes have become mostly Common-speaking - those who aren't native speakers all speak it fluently as a second language, as this is an absolute necessity to occupy the higher socioeconomic strata. They also speak High Common with more local Low Common accents and influences.
The lower classes are less likely to speak Common natively and more likely to speak it as a second language, and are more likely to speak Low Common.
Low Common and High Common are actually a dialect continuum, where High Common is completely identifiable, but shading into innumerable Low Common varieties all over the world. Absolutely all Common speakers understand both High Common and the local variety of Low Common, and even elites may slip into some local Low Common in unguarded moments. Typically everyone simply speaks to everyone else in the form of Common they are most comfortable with. People attempting to climb socially will often try to affect a more High Common form of speech, and a Low Common speaker when traveling to an area with a different variety of Low Common may have trouble being understood and may try to speak better High Common in an attempt to bridge the gap.
The capital of the New World Order, na Seáttyl (Seattle), is located in the North American mega-state of na Kaskétija (Cascadia), which encompasses the entire west coast from the tip of Baja California to the tip of Alaska, and deep into the mountains. In addition, the AXZ headquarters itself is located in Cascadia, in the city of na Purnapi (Burnaby). Hence, the central Cascadian High Common dialect is very prestigious and often copied.
Common lacks series of paired consonants such as voiced/unvoiced or aspirated/unaspirated typical of many other languages. The default realization of Common consonants is unvoiced and unaspirated. Here are the phonemic consonants of Common:
Phonetically, however, Common has significant systematic allophony. The phonetic consonants of Common as as follows:
Any consonants except /j/, /w/ and /h/ can be geminated. Geminate consonants occur internally to words only, and the syllable boundary runs right through them. The letters <j>, <w> and <h> corresponding to /j/, /w/ and /h/ may appear doubled in writing due to affixation but are treated as a single, normal-length consonant.
For some speakers, and in some circumstances such as speaking emphatically or enunciating carefully, aspirated consonants may be heard, especially in areas where a major substratum language has them, such as phonemically in Chinese or allophonically as in English. However, such sounds don't participate in systematic allophonic variation and are generally ignored in a basic discussion of the sound structure of Common. Systematic allophonies are taught, because a large amount of Common learning is L2, and L2 speakers need to understand these rules for good pronunciation. The rules of allophony are not reflected in spelling and must be understood through native speaker intuition or learned.
Similarly, the glottal stop [ʔ] can be heard in some dialects, and often at the beginning of a word that begins with a vowel when the speaker is trying to emphasize that word. The flap [ɾ] can be found in allophonic variation with [r], with [ɾ] inside words when not geminate and [r] at the beginning and end of a word or when geminate, especially among non-careful speakers in areas with major substratum languages such as Spanish that behave this way. However, these sounds are not considered phonemes or allophones of Common.
There are four basic systematic allophonies:
1. Stops, Fricatives and Affricates (Except /h/)
The phonemes /p/, /t/, /k/, /t͡ʃ/, /f/, /θ/, /s/ and /ʃ/ undergo this rule. Taking the convention that the consonants in this set are all unvoiced by default, the following rules allow you to determine when they should be voiced. Let C be the consonant in question.
C > [+voice] / [+voice]__[+voice]
Essentially this means that inside a word, a single consonant in this class will always be voiced if it is between two sounds which are always voiced. These voiced sounds would be things like vowels, or consonants without unvoiced variants, like /l/, /w/, /r/, /n/, and /m/. If a consonant cluster or geminate (double) consonant occurs, matters become more complicated. If the cluster starts with a continuant (any sound which does not completely obstruct the airflow, such as [s] but not [t]), the voicing does not take effect; otherwise it does, except in the case of gemination. Geminate consonants in this class are always devoiced.
[-cont]C > [+voice][+voice] / [+voice]__[+voice]
Because geminate consonants are also always devoiced, in some regional dialects of Common, especially in areas where a major substratum language does not have gemination, it is common for speakers to not pronounce the gemination and instead only pronounce the devoicing. In this fashion, these dialects actually have developed phonemic voicing distinctions, as minimal pairs of words can be formed that differ only by voicing. However, careful High Common speakers worldwide are careful to pronounce the geminate consonants.
2. Bilabial Nasal /m/
The phoneme /m/ systemically assimilates to an alveolar place of articulation (becomes [n]) if followed by a dental or alveolar consonant.
[m] > [n] / __[+dental]
[m] > [n] / __[+alveolar]
So /m/ is pronounced [n] before /n/ (becomes geminate, or disappears in nonstandard dialects that don't have gemination), /t/, /θ/, /s/, /l/ and /r/.
3. Alveolar Nasal /n/
The alveolar nasal /n/ tends to assimilate to the place of articulation of anything that follows it. It becomes /m/ before labials /f/ or /p/ or labialized semivowel /w/, /ɲ/ before palatal /j/, and /ŋ/ before velar /k/ (but not /w/).
[n] > [m] / __[+labial]
[n] > [ɲ] / __[+palatal]
[n] > [ŋ] / __[+velar]
4. Glottal Approximant /h/
The glottal approximant /h/ assimilates to the approximate place of articulation of any vowel that precedes it - it is essentially pulled forward by the preceding vowel to save effort in making the constriction for the /h/ sound. It becomes /ç/ after front vowels or /ə/, and /x/ after back or low vowels. This allophony can be observed when word beginning with /h/ is compounded with another word in front of it which ends in a vowel. Some speakers also exhibit some assimilation to the place of articulation of preceding consonants, but this isn't taught as standard pronunciation.
[h] > [ç] / V[+front]__
[h] > [ç] / V[+central]__
[h] > [x] / V[+low]__
[h] > [x] / V[+back]__
Common has a six vowel system, with the classic five vowels plus schwa. The vowel system shows a high/low symmetry, which was an intentional feature in the design of the language. In the language's pseudo-history, explained in some of the writings of the language's creator, Peter K. Davidson, there was a phase where a high-low vowel harmony was an important feature of the language's phonology. This pattern can be seen in some of the language's older words, coined closer to the language's original creation, and was actually important to the grammatical feature of gender, which was lost relatively early in the language's history of real world use. Vowel harmony is not important to the language today, but due to that existing pattern, that speakers pick up on, it continues to have echoes in slang and in new coinings.
Common also has two diphthongs, [ai] and [au]. In some dialects with a strong English substratum influence, these are realized as [aɪ] and [aʊ] for many speakers, but for careful speakers of High Common, end noticeably higher than the similar English diphthongs do. They are written in phonemic transcription as /aj/ and /aw/. A diphthong is pronounced approximately the same length of time as a pure vowel. Vowels do not have a length distinction. This vowel system resembles that of Malay or Indonesian.
The central vowel schwa, /ə/, is the least stable element of this system. It is prone to being reduced or deleted in casual speech in unstressed syllables. It can occur in stressed syllables, where in many dialects it has a tendency to pull front or back between [ø] or [ʌ] depending on the place of articulation of any preceding consonant, or to favor some kind of consistent shift. In High Common, /ə/ is pronounced carefully and consistently, especially in stressed syllables.
Common allows a relatively complex syllable pattern, one of the chief criticisms raised against it for the suitability of its design as an international language in earlier debates within the Globalist movement. We will use the Common orthography directly in talking about syllable patterns and ignore allophony - allophony happens automatically and does not influence allowed syllable patterns. The allowed pattern of a Common syllable is:
V can be any vowel or diphthong. C3 can be any consonant other than a semivowel (j and w are out - if they appear, it will be in a CV type syllable where V is a diphthong). C1, C2 and C3 are all allowed to be ∅, so V is an allowed syllable. If C1 is ∅, C2 can be any consonant. If C2 is a stop, lateral or nasal, C1 can be s. If C2 is a trill [r], it may be preceded in C1 by a dental consonant, z or t. Those are all of the allowed onset patterns. Listing off the possible syllable onsets, they are:
Single consonant: c, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, x, z
Two consonants: sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, tr, zr
In addition, while the only Cr combinations that appear in native Common words are tr and zr, Common speakers don't have much trouble with stops and fricatives other than h before r, so pr, fr, sr, xr, and kr show up in some loanwords without a repair strategy explicitly employed. Speakers who need a repair strategy insert an epenthetic y into the cluster to break it up in speech.
Common roots have stress on the first syllable. In compounds, there will usually be a primary stress on the first syllable, and a secondary stress on the first syllable of the head. Prefixes are generally not stressed, but may have a secondary stress on their first syllable if they have more that one syllable. Some suffixes may take a secondary stress on their first syllable.
Stress is not usually indicated in orthography and has to be learned. In a few cases, stress is indicated orthographically with an acute accent on the stressed vowel for words with irregular stress - this is most common in personal and place names. It is common to use an acute accent to indicate stress for the benefit of learners, but real-world Common often omits the accents.
Stress in Common is typically indicated by loudness, and depending on the regional variety, may also be indicated by pitch and by articulating the vowel more carefully and distinctly. While all syllables in Common generally take the same amount of time to pronounce, there are regional varieties where the vowel of the stressed syllable may be pronounced appreciably longer than the other syllables of the word.
A number of words that fictively or actually arose from compounding a prefix onto a root have irregular stress on the first syllable of the putative head. This creates words with irregular stress. For the benefit of the reader, we will indicate irregular stress in most places that it occurs.
Prosody and Intonation
Common is a syllable-timed language, with each syllable taking about the same length of time to produce. It does not tend to vowel reduction, although in casual speech and in some dialects, the sound y in unstressed syllables may be prone to reduction or deletion. Deletion of y has been a historically important process in the development of modern Common from early 21st century Common.
Difference in characteristic intonation patterns is a common feature of different regional accents of Common, but in general, the intonation pattern will not be too unfamiliar to English speakers, with a characteristic falling tone at the end of declarative sentences, and a typical rising tone at the end of yes/no questions. The intonation pattern of Common is heavily influenced by English, because this is one area that was little-specified in the original language, and the early speakers, who were predominantly English-speaking, tended to apply intonation patterns from their native language without much thought.
Tempo is another area that is not greatly defined in Common. Certain dialects, such as the Nuják (New York) or Hintustan (India), are known for rapid speech, while others, such as Kaskétija (Cascadia, a state in Western North America stretching from the tip of Baja California to the tip of Alaska) are known for slower speech. Speakers trying to sound like they do not have an accent, such as screen announcers, will tend to speak more slowly and enunciate carefully in order to sound more like a Cascadian, as this is a very prestigious variety of Common.
Common is written in a variant of the Latin alphabet. It uses the following letters natively:
a, c, e, f, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, x, y, z
It omits the following letters:
b, d, g, q, v
Thus, Common uses a 21 letter alphabet. The Common writing system tends to be a very good phonemic representation of Common pronunciation, but does not capture any of the rules of allophony. The other five letters, however, are part of the de facto Common alphabet and are actually used, although increasingly rarely. They exist for historical reasons, because the first keyboards used by writers of Common had these letters, and because Common writers routinely employed some loanwords without adjusting their spelling to the rules of Common.
Even today, some loanwords may have these letters, and they introduce an element of chaos into Common spelling. The best, encouraged style today is to "Commonise" such borrowings to use the closest approximation using the 21 official letters, but a significant number of official, proper spellings using these letters still exist, and as well they are common in personal and place names. The general strategy that Common speakers use to handle such a letter if it appears is to treat it the same as the letter it's most similar to, so to treat d as the same as t, for example, but this is complicated by many factors, such as preservation of irregularities found in the source language, and the fact that many speakers actually can distinguish and pronounce the voiceless/voiced distinction, and do so deliberately, to show off their erudition, or because they are already a speaker of the source language or another, similar language.
The alphabetical order, including the non-standard letters is the same as English. This came about because of the early influence of English on the development of the language - the language's creator was an Anglophone, the Hillbillies TV itself was an American show, the show's first audience was Anglophone, and the first published materials for the language were written in English. The table below summarizes the alphabet and how the letters are used. Non-standard letters and the basic repair strategy used if they are encountered are included, in italics.
|B, b||ype||Nonstandard||Same as p|
|C, c||ce||/t͡ʃ/||[t͡ʃ], [d͡ʒ]|
|D, d||yte||Nonstandard||Same as t|
|F, f||fe||/f/||[f], [v]|
|G, g||yke||Nonstandard||Same as k, but may also be used as a silent letter to trigger /n/ to be read as [ŋ] in exotic loanwords.|
|H, h||ahe||/h/||[ç], [x], [h]|
|K, k||ke||/k/||[k], [g]|
|M, m||me||/m/||[m], [n]|
|N, n||ne||/n/||[n], [m], [ɲ], [ŋ]|
|P, p||pe||/p/||[p], [b]|
|Q, q||akwa||Nonstandard||[kw] or [gw] if spelled qu, otherwise same as k|
|S, s||se||/s/||[s]. [z]|
|T, t||te||/t/||[t], [d]|
|V, v||yfe||Nonstandard||Same as f|
|X, x||xe||/ʃ/||[ʃ], [ʒ]|
|Z, z||ze||/θ/||[θ], [ð]|
Common uses both upper and lower case letters. As in English, case is used as part of the rules of style and does not have a phonetic implication.
The diphthong /aj/ is spelled aj, and the diphthong /aw/ is spelled aw.
The names of the 21 letters of the proper Common alphabet came from the names Davidson gave the glyphs they corresponded to in the writing system for the Hillbillies TV show. The other letters were given names by the fan community in the early days of the language, with the versions used today being the versions unofficially blessed by Davidson (officially, Old Common never used these letters). The letter names are pronounced as spelled, with any leading y unstressed.
High Common follows absolutely predictable spelling rules as above for native or nativized words. For loanwords, especially names, nonstandard pronunciations may be used and just have to be learned. Common speakers who don't know a special pronunciation may attempt a spelling pronunciation, which can produce some strange results.
A good example is the name of the current NWO Chancellor, Eve Tanaka, who is of Japanese-American heritage and uses the traditional spelling of her name. The most common way this name gets rendered by Common speakers is ['iv.ə 'ta.na.ga]. The surname follows the stress pattern of Common, and speakers tend not to be conscious of the fact the k is supposed to be unvoiced, because there are no nonstandard letters in the word. However, the presence of the 'v' in Eve signals to most speakers that this word is supposed to have a special pronunciation, so there is a tendency to add a schwa to the end of the word to make the 'v' voiced, and often to pronounce the vowel [i] instead of [e]. Where Tanaka is a very well-known public figure, many people know details about her, such as that her name is spelled the old English way and pronounced [iv], but in other cases, more of a spelling pronunciation might prevail.
In general, the presence of a special letter can be a signal that a word may have a special pronunciation.
Common was invented in North America, and punctuation of the language's romanization and eventual native orthography was not a matter that the language's creator considered important enough to consider or dictate. Therefore, the punctuation of North American English heavily informs the punctuation of Common. Capitalization is very similar to English, with proper nouns and modifiers considered to be part of the name of something capitalized, as well as the first letter of sentences. Quotations and other punctuation follow the old American English style for the most part. In numbers, periods are used for decimal points, and commas for number separators.
The biggest, most noticeable difference between High Common punctuation and North American English is that High Common uses inverted question marks and exclamation marks to open questions and exclamations in a manner similar to Spanish. In much of the early period Common this was not the case, but by the middle period, some writers were borrowing the inverted marks from Spanish, especially for speeches. Common, like Spanish, relies heavily on intonation to signal questions, and speakers reading a speech found the additional marks convenient to help them control their intonation at the outset of a sentence for things like rhetorical questions.
By the modern period, the inverted marks were seen as an option, but what helped drive their wider acceptance was the fact that the first head of the AXZ, David Chang, chose to use these marks and recommended them in his first codification on the modern language, because he felt they were helpful to learners, and went well with the structure of Common. The modern AXZ simply states they must be used. It is still very common to omit them in casual writing.
Writing and Keyboards
Common is primarily written using keyboards, either physical or touchscreen, and secondarily using pen and paper. Historically, during much of its development, Common was written almost exclusively on keyboards, heavily favoring touch devices.
During much of its development, Common was written using the English QWERTY keyboard or in variants - people who used the Roman alphabet natively tended to use their native keyboard, because the Common alphabet is a subset of most language's alphabets. This situation had certain impacts on the development of Common - for example, the tendency of writers in Common to omit accents, despite the fact Common has a small amount of phonemic stress, arose partly through laziness, because it is more work to write accents than not on an English QWERTY keyboard, even a smart one.
The modern Common keyboard is quite different than the old QWERTY keyboard, although plainly a descendant. The physical version still has the Ctrl, Shift and Alt keys, and works on the principle that capital letters and special characters are obtained by using a shift key or toggle, and it still has a limited amount of punctuation directly available with a single keypress, especially on physical keyboards.
However, the letter layout is based on frequency of use and the maximize speed and comfort of typing for touch typers on physical keyboards. Only the 21 letters of the Common alphabet are available directly as a single keypress. The other five letters, b, d, g, q and v, are available as shift characters on a physical keyboard, alt-shift for capitals, and on toggle keyboards on touchscreens.
The impact of this change over time is that early to early modern Common borrowed vocabulary contained the letters b, d, g, q and v quite often, because they were convenient to type, but in modern times, there is a much stronger tendency to 'Commonize' borrowed words, even people's names, not only because of official efforts to encourage this, but also because these letters are now inconvenient to type.
Parts of Speech
Common thinks of itself as having the following parts of speech:
- Terms (naz Jerekka): Concrete objects, concepts, actions and experiences. Corresponds to nouns and verbs. The Common word for 'term' is 'jerekka', 'that which ends').
- Modifiers (naz Keulca): Descriptions of objects, concepts or manners of action, and well as describing how arguments relate, in space or in motion. Modfiers are adjectives, adverbs, numbers, propositions and more. They have a property called 'binding' which determines how they are interpreted. The binding types are tight and loose binding, with loose being unmarked. The Common word for modifiers is 'keulca', 'that which makes a change'.
- Determiners (nar Samorka): Determiners are phrase heads, and carry all of the grammatical information about how the phrase relates to other parts of a sentence, and a host of other grammatical distinctions. Determiners are articles and auxiliary verbs. Article determiners are also pronouns. Relative pronouns that allow a dependent clause to describe a noun or that allow a dependent clause to function as an argument to a verb also fall into this category, although they are arguably also modifiers. The Common word for determiners of all kinds is 'samorka', 'that which starts'.
- Conjunctions (naz Heratca): Words that connect articles and phrases, either logically or in terms of how one flows into the next. Conjunctions tend to have forms that are different inside and outside of phrases (internal and edge conjunctions, in Common terminology).The Common word for conjunctions is 'heratca', 'that which connects'.
- Interjections (naz Smokka): Words that serve some kind of purpose outside the framework of an explicit or implied sentence. Often these words have uses in the other categories.The Common word for interjections is 'smokka', 'that which is thrown'.
It is not at all that Common lacks a distinction between nouns and verbs, or between adjectives and adverbs, of course. Grammarians talk about Common verbs and nouns all the time. But what having these 'terms' and 'modifiers' whose function is determined by context does is make Common very friendly to zero derivation between parts of speech. There are plenty of examples of zero derivation in English. For example, you have the verb 'to stop' and the noun 'a stop' that are zero derived from each other (that is, the word changes part of speech and hence something important about its meaning without any explicit conversion like adding a suffix). Students of constructed languages who are familiar with Esperanto will note the contrast with that language's very explicit and mandatory marking of parts of speech, Common goes to an extreme the other way, at least within its self-recognized part-of-speech categories, and usually gives you no visible way to determine the part of speech of a word other than to just learn it.
English purists have often complained about this process, especially nouns being zero derived from verbs. However, there are literally hundreds of examples in English. Common is like this too, within its broad grammatical categories. So if you noun a verb, in Common that amounts to just taking a term which usually has more of a verbal character and using it with a noun determiner, and that's actually completely halal. There are usually conventional ideas about what the derived word means, but ambiguity is often tolerated and context is required to understand the meaning.
Noun and Verb Phrase Structure
Common leans heavily on its very particular syntax, particularly on the structure of phrases. The concept behind Common is that it has relatively free phrase (na weteras lawt) order, but word order within phrases has highly specific syntax. A basic noun (na poen) or verb (na hultan) is always actually a noun or verb phrase. The Common grammatical terms 'poen' and 'hultan' usually refer to the whole phrase when speaking about the Common language. A term without a determiner could be either a noun or a verb, and its meaning is only clear in the context of the other words it appears with. A Common noun phrase always has the following structure:
DET [MOD] [MOD, etc] [TERM] [TERM, etc.] (HEAD)
The square brackets mean optional elements. Round brackets have a special meaning that we will get to. The abbreviations mean:
DET = Determiner, in this case an article. MOD = Modifier. Modifiers for nouns have subclasses and a relatively strict order of these classes, which is a topic for later. TERM = Term, these terms are optional and are modifying the head term in some way - they may or may not be explicitly compounded with it, which will have phonological implications. HEAD - The head term (na jenys jerekka). It's just a term, but as the head it is the most salient part of the meaning of the overall phrase.
The reason why the HEAD is in brackets is because it may be omitted (creating 'ny ikwéteras lawt', an imperfect utterance) - but only if there are no modifiers or terms in the rest of the phrase. In other words, the phrase can consist of a naked determiner (which in this case functions as a pronoun), or else it must have a head term. In the event it is desired to omit the head term but still use modifiers, a dummy term ('na epális jerekka'), 'yn', must be employed to fill this grammatical slot.
Another feature of this phrase structure is that some modifiers, typically prepositions, but also relative pronouns, can take an object, which can be an entire phrase structure or dependent clause. If a modifier takes an object, it is forbidden to remain in the bracket between the determiner and the head term, and it must come out. For noun phrases, such modifier phrases must come in a row immediately after the head term.
Verbs look the same way. Common teachers don't teach the verb's object(s) as part of the verb phrase, but academic grammarians would use a more conventional analysis. To understand Common on its own terms, we will focus on they way Common is taught and explained. The basic phrase structure is:
DET [MOD] [MOD, etc] [TERM] [TERM, etc.] (HEAD)
DET refers to an auxiliary verb in this case. The structure is conceptually the exact same as for noun phrases, but the difference is that there is much more freedom with modifiers for verbs, which are of course adverbs. They may come out of the bracket at will, and may move to certain places in the sentence, either at the beginning of the sentence or immediately following the verb, as an element of stylistic freedom that can be used for emphasis. As with nouns, if a verbal modifier takes an object, it must come out of the bracket into one of the allowed positions. Also as with nouns, the determiner may be used by itself as a stand-in for the verb, but if there are modifiers present, even modifiers that have been moved out of the bracket, and the head term is to be omitted, the same dummy head term as for nouns, 'yn', is required.
With verbs, it is far more likely that a 'paradigm verb' will be used to substitute for the head term if it is desired to be omitted, rather than using yn, but yn is still common. The other thing that differs is that there are less recognized classes of modifiers and less restrictive order for what order they must appear if present.
As noted, it is not just perfectly good Common but actually a central strategy of the language to freely zero-derive between nouns and verbs in the "terms" category and between adjectives, adverbs and prepositions in the "modifiers" category. What Common grammarians don't like is zero derivation between Common's defined parts of speech. For example, it is considered bad grammar to zero derive a modifier from a term or vice versa - the English word 'green' to describe a part of a golf course, zero derived from the adjective green, is not considered acceptable in Common. Derivational morphology exists in order to convert back and forth between term and modifiers.
The reason given for this is that listeners can identify the end of a phrase when the head term is reached, which will be the last term in the phrase. Supposedly, zero derivation between modifiers and terms muddies these waters. This is a matter for debate, but regardless, it is important to understand that derivational morphology exists to go back and forth between these classes, and native speakers are generally quite disciplined about using it.
Note that in terms of head structure, Common is a head-initial language for the most part, owing to the fact that phrase heads are always initial, but that it has head-final qualities as well, in particular in how compound words and phrases are constructed with a head term last.
Old Common Gender System
The genders of Old Common used to be mediated through agreement between the determiners and the head terms. All terms had gender, regardless of whether they were used in a noun or verb context, and the determiner had to agree with the head term in gender, whether it was an article or a verbal auxiliary. This was done through a high-low vowel harmony - the stressed vowel of the determiner harmonized with the stressed vowel of the head term in height. This gender system broke down during the Global Collapse, and the high-low distinctions in determiners were repurposed to indicate definiteness in nouns and realis versus irrealis in verbs.
In terms of its default word order, Common is an SVO language in main clauses. It is also an ergative language. SVO word order is unusual for an SVO language. As Trafalgar points out, though, Common is only morphologically ergative, through its article cases. Syntactically, Common is actually accusative, as they point out with the following example:
Ja pikki(A) tene slek a skitrem(P)
3.SG.DEF.ERG cat TRN.NPST.PRF.REAL eat 3.SG.DEF.ABS mouse
"The cat has eaten the mouse."
Compare this to:
A pikki(S) se hitaj.
3.SG.DEF.ABS cat NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL sleep
"The cat is sleeping."
Morphologically, Common treats S the same as P - they are both in the absolutive case. But syntactically it treats S the same as A - although Common has free word order, it does have a preferred word order, which is SVO, and in that word order, both A and S appear before the verb. S is treated like A syntactically.
Common prefers SOV word order in dependent clauses - in theory, it is completely mandatory for the verb to come last, but in practice there is some leeway around this rule if the dependent clause occurs at the end of a sentence.
Conceptually, Common dependent clauses work like noun or verb phrases with a Determiner - Head bracketing structure. In this case, the Determiner is a relativizing particle and the head is the verb that is required to go to the end of the clause. While there is sometimes a little leeway in practice around verb placement (as much as this upsets grammarians), native speakers never, ever omit the relativizer.
There are two relativizers, "su" and "si". Both of these particles can fully decline into Common's four cases. "Su" introduces a dependent clause that modifies a noun. The case of "su" is governed the role of that noun in the dependent clause. "Si" introduces a relative clause that acts as a core argument of the verb. The case of "si" is the role of the clause as a whole on the verb.
Common has a largely inflecting and isolating morphology, with some limited agglutination used in word building but a general preference to avoid complex derivations. All classes of word that can inflect are closed classes. All open class words are invariant other than for agglutinative derivational morphology and compounding. Nouns and verbs always exist as noun and verb phrases, with a determiner, the article in the case of nouns and the auxiliary in the case of verbs, being an absolutely mandatory introductory element and a head term containing the semantic freight being an optional right-most element - although if any modifiers are present, it is mandatory to use a dummy substitute head term ("yn" or a paradigm verb) if omitting the head.
Verbal auxiliaries inflect for tense, aspect and mood. The Common TAM system is simple, but it is mandatory to make a selection for each.
Common also has mandatory valence pattern agreement. Every term used in a verbal context has a "base" valence - it belongs to a paradigm, with a paradigm verb that is thought to exemplify the class. There are five valence patterns. The following list summarizes the paradigms and TAM options.
- Valence (na Kyrakkas Tret). The valence categories are:
- Avalent - AVAL (Zresu). Verbs that have no arguments. An example in English would be 'it rained', where the 'it' is just a grammatically required dummy subject. Common would not need the equivalent of 'it', and such verbs would use avalent agreement instead. In Common it is named for its paradigm verb 'zresu', to rain.
- Intransitive - NTRN (Pali): Verb has one argument, the subject, in the absolutive case. An example in English of an intransitive verb would be 'to sleep'. In Common it is named for its paradigm verb 'pali', to stand.
- Semitransitive - STRN (Noxaj): Verb has two arguments. One, the subject, is in the absolutive case, and the other, a recipient of the action that is not viewed as a patient affected by the action, is in the dative case. There is no good equivalent in English. Common uses this pattern for verbs of motion, analogous with 'to go' - the absolutive subject is the thing moving, and the dative indirect object is the destination. This is an example of the Common dative being used as a lative case. This pattern is also often used for verbs of emotion or desire. In Common it is named for its paradigm verb 'noxaj', to go.
- Transitive - TRN (Skurun): Verb has an actor, the subject, in the ergative case and a patient, the object, in the absolutive case. An example in English would be 'to hit' .In Common it is named for its paradigm verb 'skurun', to hit.
- Ditransitive - DTRN (Happat): Verb has an actor, the subject, in the ergative case, a patient, the direct object, in the absolutive case, and a recipient, the indirect object, in the dative case. And example in English would be 'to give'. In Common it is named for its paradigm verb 'happat', to give.
- Tense (na Celysyn). The time the speaker is referencing. There are two tenses:
- Past - PST (Kiles): Actions that took place before the present. They might possibly be ongoing in the present, but the focus of attention is the past action.
- Non-past - NPST (Panas): Present and future actions or focus.
- Aspect (na Trijustep): The manner in which the action of the verb is performed. There are two aspects:
- Perfect - PRF: The action of the verb is complete. Combined with the nonpast tense this still implies a past action, but the focus is on the present.
- Imperfect - NPRF: Ongoing or habitual actions.
- Mood (na Puesyn). There are two grammatical moods:
- Realis - REAL (na zra puesyn): The action is real and concrete.
- Irrealis - IRREAL (na sihys puesyn): The action is somehow hypothetical or potentially counterfactual. The reason why the moods are called "realis" and "irrealis" rather than "indicative" and "subjunctive," which arguably is what they actually are since they are mediated by inflection, is because the irrealis used to be indicated by an affix in Old Common. During the breakdown of the gender system, the abstract gender agreement form of the auxiliary was repurposed to indicate the irrealis, but the terminology used to refer to it was not updated.
The most important of these categories is valence. There are actually five verbal auxiliaries - one for each valence pattern. Each auxiliary then inflects for tense, aspect and mood in a separate conjugational paradigm.
Each verb in Common belongs to a family which has a "paradigm verb" (na utólys hultan) which is an ordinary verb which is considered to represent the family. There are five paradigm verbs, corresponding to the five valence patterns. When a verb belongs to a certain paradigm, that paradigm determines which verbal auxiliary you must use with the verb, and what the semantic impact of instead using a different auxiliary is. The paradigm verb has a grammatical function as well, as any verb can be substituted with its paradigm verb if you want to avoid saying the verb itself or if you can't think of exactly the right word. The particle 'yn' can also be used for this purpose, but the advantage the paradigm verb gives is that it disambiguates whether the auxiliary is the default or valence shifted, and if valence shifted, the meaning of the valence shift.
In rare cases, a verb may have two usages, where it can belong to more and one paradigm, and you have to infer the paradigm intended from context - an example is 'fella', 'fog'. Usually, however, verbs belong to a single paradigm, and this can narrow the possible usage of the verb.
Nonfinite Verbs and Verb Chaining
Common does not have any nonfinite verbs (verb forms that do not require a subject but may take an object, like an infinitive or gerund) per se. The verbal auxiliaries below are always finite. A modifying term used in a verb phrase is essentially like a nonfinite verb, however, functioning like an infinitive, and verbal terms may be chained in a verb phase. The last term is the head term, and its paradigm is the paradigm of the verb phrase overall. This is a common way to create modal expressions. Otherwise, Common uses noun phrases and relative clauses for a number of idioms where another language might use an infinitive, participle or gerund.
Valence Group Conjugations
Paradigm Verb: zresu, 'rain'
Auxiliary Lemma: zres
The avalent is used with atmospheric verbs that don't have actors. The equivalent in English is something like 'it is raining', where there is a dummy subject 'it' - there really is no 'it' that you're thinking of that's doing the raining, the 'it' is just a dummy subject required by a grammatical rules of English. In Common, such verbs conjugate with 'zres'. Avalent verbs have no thematic roles, they can't take subjects or objects. Information about the action is carried in adverbs and prepositional phrases.
This is an auxiliary that is often used without a head term to just mean 'rain', although something like 'zresa zresu' ('it was raining') is also common. It is more emphatic than just 'zresa', or may contrast with a different atmospheric like 'snow' if rain is somehow unexpected.
Realis Conjugation of zres
|Non-past||zres /θres/||zreset /'θre.zet/|
|Past||zresa /θre.za/||zreseta /θre.ze.da/|
Irrealis Conjugation of zres
|Non-past||zris /θris/||zrisit /'θri.zit/|
|Past||zrisy /θri.zə/||zrisity /θri.zi.də/|
Paradigm Verb: pali, 'stand'
Auxiliary Lemma: se
Intransitive verbs have a single actor, a subject in the absolutive case which experiences the action of the verb. Examples are verbs like 'sleep'. The paradigm verb is 'stand', which Common means in the sense of 'to be at a place' or 'to be upright' as opposed to the sense in English of 'to stand something up'. That latter sense can be achieved by using a causitive form of 'pali'. Notice the irregularity in the past irrealis, where the 'a' ending doesn't raise like in the other auxiliary verbs.
Realis Conjugation of se
|Non-past||se /se/||sete /'se.de/|
|Past||sea /'se.a/||seta /'se.da/|
Irrealis Conjugation of se
|Non-past||si /si/||siti /'si.di/|
|Past||sia /'si.a/||sita /'si.da/|
A pepe se hitaj.
3.SG.DEF.ABS baby NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL sleep.
"The baby is sleeping."
Paradigm Verb: skurun, 'hit'
Auxiliary Lemma: te
Transitive verbs have two actors, an ergative subject which is the actor or cause of the action, and an absolutive direct object which is the patient of the action.
Realis Conjugation of te
|Non-past||te /te/||tene /'te.ne/|
|Past||teo /'te.o/||teno /'te.no/|
Irrealis Conjugation of te
|Non-past||ti /ti/||tini /'ti.ni/|
|Past||tiu /'ti.u/||tinu /'ti.nu/|
Ja pocuk teo zeul a pikki.
3.SG.DEF.ERG child TRN.PST.NPRF.REAL eye 3.SG.DEF.ABS cat.
"The child was looking at the cat."
Paradigm Verb: noxaj, 'go'
Auxiliary Lemma: nox
Semitransitive verbs are a strange category from the point of view of English speakers (or just strange, period), but are easy enough to work with if you accept that you will have to memorize which words are semitransitive and conjugate the verbs appropriately. Actually, there is some rhyme and reason. Semitransitive verbs have two actors, just like transitive verbs. One is a subject in the absolutive case, and is the experiencer of the action. The other is in the dative case and is the recipient, purpose, destination or beneficiary of the action.
Verbs of motion mostly fall into this category, with the destination of the motion as the dative object. If the dative object is omitted, the action is still considered to be purposeful towards an end. To get the sense of no specific end, as in the English expression 'go away', the "disintentive" valence change operation is performed to use the intransitive agreement instead of the semitransitive.
An important category of verbs that are semitransitive, aside from verbs of motion, are verbs of abstract possession or ownership, where the owner is the absolutive subject and the thing owned is the dative indirect object. Such constructions express relatively alienable possession.
Realis Conjugation of nox
|Non-past||nox /noʃ/||noxot /'no.ʒot/|
|Past||noxa /'no.ʒa/||noxota /'no.ʒo.da/|
Irrealis Conjugation of nox
|Non-past||nux /nuʃ/||nuxut /'nu.ʒut/|
|Past||nuxy /'nu.ʒə/||nuxuty /'nu.ʒu.də/|
A atuin nux jusal ija lelu.
3.SG.DEF.ABS person STRN.NPST.NPRF.IRREAL want 3.SG.DEF.DAT fish.
"The person would like the fish."
Paradigm Verb: happat, 'give'
Auxiliary Lemma: hap
Ditransitive verbs are verbs like 'give' or 'throw' that have an actor, a patient and a recipient. They have an actor in the ergative case who causes or initiates the action, a patient in the absolutive case that is the thing acted on or transferred, and an indirect object in the dative case that is the recipient, purpose, destination or beneficiary of the action.
Realis Conjugation of hap
|Non-past||hap /hap/||hanne /'han.ne/|
|Past||hapo /'ha.bo/||hanno /'han.no/|
Irrealis Conjugation of hap
|Non-past||hyp /həp/||hynni /'hən.ni/|
|Past||hypu /'hə.bu/||hynnu /'hən.nu/|
Ja lijátuin hanne fereh si te slek ija sy paluh.
3.SG.DEF.ERG FEM-person DTRN.NPST.PRF.REAL RELV.ABS TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL eat 3.SG.DEF.DAT sir dog.
'The woman let her dog eat.'
The word 'sy' is a term of respect and is actually referring back to the woman in this case, not the dog (if it were referring to the dog it would be last). This is an adposition possessive, referring to the referent in a respectful way.
Valence Change Operations
By default, when conjugating a verb, you identify the verb's paradigm verb, select the verbal auxiliary that goes with that paradigm, and then conjugate the auxiliary for mood, tense and aspect as needed. However, many if not most verbs can be used with auxiliaries other than the default one for their paradigm. These are valence change operations. The meaning of the specific valence change depends on the paradigm the verb belongs to. Hence, if the head term is omitted or replaced with 'yn', the proper interpretation of the verbal auxiliary is ambiguous and must be determined from context. The speaker can substitute the verb with its paradigm verb to disambiguate this aspect and still obscure the head term.
There are four possible valence change operations in Common. These operations are limited, and all have pariphrastic workarounds. All, however, are very commonly used in popular idioms of modern Common. For each operation, only verbs that belong to certain paradigms can undergo the shift. For example, an intransitive verb (pali paradigm) can be placed in the causative, but a transitive verb (skurun paradigm) cannot form a causative. Causation of a transitive verb can only be expressed periphrastically.
- Antipassive (Na Hultanys Ajsy): Change "te" to "se" or "hap" to "nox." Removes the absolutive patient (which can be referred to periphrastically using a noun phrase in the nominative case introduced with the null preposition) and promotes the ergative agent to the absolutive case. Any dative indirect object is retained. The Common antipassive is often used as an idiomatic reflexive.
- Causative (Na Weros Ajsy): Change "se" to "te" or "nox" to "hap." Adds an ergative core argument that is the causer of the action of the verb.
- Disintentive (Na Ikháppatys Ajsy): Change "nox" to "se" or "hap" to "te." Removes the dative indirect object from a ditransitive or semitransitive verb. The effect is to to make the action aimless or directionless. The disintentive would be used to convey ideas like "throw something away" as opposed to "throw something somewhere" in English.
- Benefactive (Na Happatys Ajsy): Change "se" to "nox" or "te" to "hap." Adds a dative indirect object to a verb that is interpreted as the beneficiary of an action, or if introduced with the preposition 'erpa', is intended to be hindered or harmed by the action.
Copula and Existential Clauses (Naz Anys Lawt)
Common is a copula+ language. The same verb is used for copular expressions and to assert the existence of something - the verb "an," "to exist." "An" is an intransitive verb. Its absolutive subject is asserted to exist. If used as a copula, its predicate is a modifier or noun phrase introduced by a modifier. For the simple equative meaning, the null preposition is used. The null preposition was an actual word "y," a schwa, in Old Common, but people stopped saying it. Common grammarians still regard it as being present even if it is not pronounced. It's function is associative without any further connotation.
Common essentially frames its copular expression as first stating its subject in the absolutive case, then asserting that the subject exists, and then optionally introducing new information about it, which can be adjectives (in the form of adverbs on the copula) or a periphrastic noun phrase. It heavily emphasises the idea of introducing old information and then marking new information about the subject (topic/comment) as opposed to declaring a subject and predicate equivalent. As in English, Common has a number of other verbs with a somewhat copular sense that follow a similar pattern.
"An" is able to do this because it has the special property that any modifier or modifier phrase applied to it is considered to act as a predicate and comment on its absolutive subject rather than describe the action of the verb, like they would in a normal verb.
Y eotil costo se an.
3.SG.NDEF.ABS red house NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be
There is a red house.
A paluh se an akpe.
3.SG.DEF.ABS dog NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be big
The dog is big.
A eon se an ny sinéon.
3.SG.DEF.ABS sun NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be ∅ 3.SG.NDEF.NOM star
The sun is a star.
The former is a copular expression linking an adjective to the subject, and the latter is a copular expression using a noun. The null preposition is marked as ∅ in the gloss, and takes a nominative object, hence ny sinéon.
Nouns and Pronouns
The head of any noun phrase is its article. Articles are always mandatory, and are a closed class. All articles are also pronouns, and all pronouns are articles. Article/pronouns are the only declinable words in noun phrases.
Common ostensibly doesn't have nouns in isolation. The basic syntactic units are noun phrases, with a determiner (article, in the case of nouns) and a 'head term' (na jenys jerekka). The articles can be used on their own, because they are also pronouns, but require a dummy head term 'yn' (na epális jerekka) if they are used in this fashion with any modifiers.
Nouns inflect for the following, with all inflection carried on the determiner/article/pronoun particle associated with the noun phrase:
- Case (na kyrakka): The syntactic role of the noun in the sentence, generally in relation to the verb. This will be explained more fully in the section on verbs. There are three "thematic" cases (nar pifitys kyrakka, literally 'game cases') that directly mark a role in relation to the verb) and one "non-thematic" case (na lat kyrakka, 'the outside case'). The cases are listed below.
- Absolutive (Palikas): The subject of an intransitive verb or the object of a transitive verb. Can be thought of somewhat as the 'experiencer'. This is a thematic case.
- Ergative (Skuruncas): The subject of a transitive verb. Can be thought of somewhat as the 'causer'. This is a thematic case.
- Dative (Happatkiyas): The indirect object of a sentence. Common also uses this in common idioms for motion towards or into something, or for possession, and so it has some functions like a lative or genitive case as well. It can also indicate the beneficiary of an action. This is a thematic case.
- Nominative (Poencas): Common grammarians insist on calling this case the Nominative, and so shall we, but the Common nominative does not function like a normal nominative case. It functions more like a prepositional case and is used to name things outside of any relation to a verb. It, too, can also function like a genitive case, or a vocative. It is the one non-thematic noun case.
- Number (na tret): There are three numbers:
- Singular (Atencas): One of something. The number 'one' can be used in addition to emphasize singularity or that the object is one out of a group.
- Paucal (Cajre): A few of something, or, an exact number of something. If a numeric auxiliary determiner is used to count something, and the number is anything other than one (including zero, fractions or negative numbers), the paucal must be used. To count exactly one of something, again use the singular. Using the paucal tends to imply something is countable, even if the number isn't given. It also tends to imply that the referent is a part of a whole and not the whole. This is reflected in the Common name 'cajre', which means 'exact', rather than 'sajn', 'few', to describe his number.
- Plural (Pawt): Many, a lot, but without the number specified. Sometimes used with a number to specify magnitude, but the use of the plural implies an estimate or inexact number in this case, as well as have a sense that the referent is the whole of something as opposed to a part.. Use of the plural implies something can't readily be counted. The plural/paucal distinction can also be used for inclusive/exclusive distinctions, as with Common's inclusive and exclusive equivalents of the pronoun 'we' in English.
- Definiteness (rohájkysyn). There are two kinds of definiteness:
- Definite (rohájkys), the object being referenced is something specific. Approximately the same as using 'the' in English. May be used with auxilliary determiners that act as demonstratives to emphasize pointing something out.
- Indefinite (ikrohájkys), no specific object is being referenced. When used with the singular, is like using 'a' in English. When used with the paucal or plural it is more like using 'some' - when used with the paucal without a number, it tends to have the sense of 'a little'.
The interrogative/uncertain could arguably be a third type of definiteness in Common, because it acts exactly like the other two third person articles for definite and indefinite. However, the definite and indefinite particles are related to each other (actually historically, not in terms of a fictional history) and are treated as different than the interrogative article, which has a different origin, so the breakdown above is what is most used.
A note on number: Common tends not to use mass nouns. If there is an idiomatic way to use the plural, Common tends to choose it. So a word like "mury," "hair," is treated like a singular hair, and to refer to a head of hair one would use the plural, "naz mury," much like French. Mass nouns tend to be things that are not naturally distinguishable as being composed of individual parts, like fluids. If it is necessary to count portions of a mass noun, like drops of water, a word for the portion is counted in the paucal or referred to in the plural, and then the substance is referred to periphrastically using the null preposition.
In the following sections, each of the noun determiners/articles/pronouns will be detailed with their declensions and usage. The lemma, or dictionary entry, for each article is its absolutive singular form. Note: it is not an omission that possessive forms of the pronouns are not given. Common genuinely lacks explicitly possessive forms, although one way to indicate possession is using the null preposition, which takes an object in the nominative case, allowing the nominative to sometimes act like a genitive case.
First Person - Ates Palisyn (we)
The first person pronoun/article is 'we'. It works like any other non-relative determiner in Common in that it is used in a phrase structure with a head term, even though it is very commonly used on its own like the equivalent English words 'I' or 'we'. The most common head terms used with it are a personal name, title or honorific. In this case, it would be the idiomatic way to say what English would set aside with commas, for example, 'I, Tony, see the child' would be 'We Toni nox triju ija pocuk'.
Declension of we (First Person)
|Case/Number||Singular||Paucal (Exclusive)||Plural (Inclusive)|
|Absolutive||we /we/||wer /wer/||wez /weθ/|
|Ergative||je /je/||jer /jer/||jez /jeθ/|
|Dative||ije /'i.je/||ijer /'i.jer/||ijez /'i.jeθ/|
|Nominative||we /wen/||wenar /'we.nar/||wenaz /'we.naθ/|
One special feature of number in the first person, is that the paucal number is used for exclusive (not including the addressee) and the plural is used for the inclusive (including the addressee). These forms are equivalent to the English 'we' and 'us', but the sense of whether the person addressed is included is generally always carried and contrasts with English. However, the normal sense of the paucal (a few of something, or something that can be precisely counted) versus the plural (many of something, or something that is too numerous to conveniently count) is still operative and can create ambiguity as to which sense is meant when a number is used.. Such ambiguity has to be worked out via context or extra phrasing to clarify if needed.
Second Person - Kawas Palisyn (zu)
The second person pronoun/article is "zu". Like "we", it is a normal determiner that can take a head term. Unlike 'we', it is actually quite common to use a head term with "zu." Honorific or polite forms of address are virtually mandatory except with intimates, functioning like a T-V distinction in a language like French or Spanish. These are implemented in Common with honorific head terms rather than grammaticalized. Formality and respectful address in Common is an extensive topic that Trafalgar addresses here.
The nominative form of zu is used quite often as a sort of vocative case to address someone directly without syntactically relating it to a verb. Personal names are also often used in this fashion. For example, an imperative sentence like 'Tony, look at the child' could be written as 'Ju Toni te zeul a pocuk'. The 'ju' is required, you could not address a person by name without it. You cannot refer to a person by name in general without including an article, similar to Catalan.
Declension of zu (Second Person)
|Absolutive||zu /θu/||zur /θur/||zus /θus/|
|Ergative||ju /ju/||jur /jur/||juz /juθ/|
|Dative||iju /'i.ju/||ijur /'i.jur/||ijuz /'i.juθ/|
|Nominative||zun /θu/||zunar /'θu.nar/||zunas /'θu.nas/|
Note: The irregularity in the plural was part of the language's original design and something Davidson explained as a result of dissimilation in the language's pseudohistory.
Third Person - Netys Palisyn (a)
The third person is different in that it has two forms, a definite and and indefinite form. The base form is considered to be the definite 'a'. This is not part of the language's original design. Common as it was first spoken on the TV show and by early users had a system of gender for concrete and abstract terms (so it applied both to nouns and verbs), and the way gender manifested was that determiners had to agree with their head term in gender for both nouns and verbs. One of the most radical developments in the language that occurred "in the wild" when the language ceased to be fully under its creator's control was a repurposing of this agreement system, which in nouns resulted in the concrete being reanalyzed as the definite and the abstract being reanalyzed as the indefinite.
With no system of agreement, the gender system became mooted and fell apart. It remains with us in the definite/indefinite and realis/irrealis contrasts in nouns and verbs, and in certain phonological patterns in the vocabulary, especially in early coinings. The gender distinction was made using a high-low vowel harmony, with a low vowel in the main stressed syllable of a term usually being a sign that it was concrete, and a high vowel indicating an abstract term. The article used the same low/high pattern to agree with the head term.
Declension of a (Third Person Definite)
|Absolutive||a /a/||ar /ar/||az /aθ/|
|Ergative||ja /ja/||jar /jar/||jaz /jaθ/|
|Dative||ija /'i.ja/||ijar /'i.jar/||ijaz /'i.jaθ/|
|Nominative||na /na/||nar /nar/||naz /naθ/|
Declension of y (Third Person Indefinite)
|Absolutive||y /ə/||yr /ər/||yz /əθ/|
|Ergative||jy /jə/||jyr /jər/||jyz /jəθ/|
|Dative||ijy /'i.jə/||ijyr /'i.jər/||ijyz /'i.jəθ/|
|Nominative||ny /nə/||nyr /nər/||nyz /nəθ/|
The third person was the only person that required gender agreement, and so it is the only article that has a definite/indefinite distinction in modern Common. The indefinite paucal has the sense of 'some', and the indefinite plural has the sense of 'many' or 'all'.
Interrogative/Uncertain Pronoun - Na Zikos Samorka (ko)
There is one interrogative pronoun in Common, "ko." Ko does not have a definiteness distinction but does have all three numbers. It is used in asking questions, but despite the fact that Common grammarians refer to it as an interrogative, its presence does not always indicate a question. It can also be used just like "what" in English in non-questions, like "I don't care what kind" to "which one," a declarative sentence, where ko's function is to signal that its referent is open to question in some way. Common doesn't actually have a clear and unambiguous way to ask questions (or to give orders) and depends on context and idiom.  In general, 'ko' can be used as a replacement for 'a' in questions and it signals the questionable element.
Ko glosses as approximately "what" or "which" in English. It can be used for other "wh-" type words by adding a head term that clarifies its meaning. Common doesn't have simple, direct words for things like "who" and "how."
Declension of ko (Interrogative)
|Absolutive||ko /ko/||kor /kor/||koz /koθ/|
|Ergative||co /t͡ʃo/||cor /t͡ʃor/||coz /t͡ʃoθ/|
|Dative||ico /'i.d͡ʒo/||icor /'i.d͡ʒor/||icoz /'i.d͡ʒoθ/|
|Nominative||kon /'ko.na/||konar /'ko.nar/||konaz /'ko.naθ/|
Relative Pronouns and Dependent Clauses - Nar Zereu Samorka (su and si)
There are two relative pronouns. One is used to modify nouns (su), and the other one is used to modify verbs (si). They inflect for case but not number.
Declension of su and si (Relative)
|Absolutive||su /su/||si /si/|
|Ergative||xu /ʃu/||xi /ʃi/|
|Dative||ixu /'i.ʒu/||ixi /'i.ʒi/|
|Nominative||sun /sun/||sin /sin/|
Nominal Relative Pronouns
The article su (gloss RELN) is used to introduce a subordinate clause that describes a noun, in effect the entire subordinate clause acting as a modifier to a noun phrase. For that reason, su blurs the line between an article and a modifier. Its placement must always be immediately after the head term after any prepositional phrases and in series with any other relative clauses that modify the noun. The referent of su is the entire noun phrase it modifies. The referent noun is always an actor in relation to the verb of the subordinate clause. The case of su is that of the role of the referent in the relative clause. Phrase order in the relative clause is relatively free, with the caveats that the clause must be introduced by a form of su and that the verb phrase must go last in these causes. A simple example:
A pocuk su ija paluh noxot triju se an citit.
3.SG.DEF.ABS child RELN.ABS 3.SG.DEF.DAT dog STRN.NPST.PRF.REAL see NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be happy
"The child that saw the dog is happy."
The article su is in the absolutive case because the referent, the child, is the experiencer of the verb "triju," to see, in the subordinate clause. The verb goes to the end of the clause, and that signals to the listener that the clause is over and subsequent speech belongs to the main clause. The nominative form of "su," "sun," would be used when the referent is not a core argument of the dependent clause verb, and in that case may be preceded by a preposition clarifying the role.
Verbal Relative Pronouns
The article si (gloss RELV) is used to introduce a subordinate clause that as a whole fills an actor role centered around the verb in the main clause. The case of si is the case for the role the clause performs in the main verb. The clause introduced by si may appear anywhere in the sentence that as simple noun phrase introduced by 'a' could go. Word order within the clause is the same as for su. The clause must be introduced by si and the verb phrase must be the last element in the clause. A simple example:
A pocuk nox triju ixi a paluh se an citit.
3.SG.DEF.ABS child STRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL see RELV.DAT 3.SG.DEF.ABS dog NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be happy.
'The child sees that the dog is happy.'
The article si is in the dative case because the verb "triju," to see, is a semitransitive verb, and the thing seen, in this cause, the fact that the dog is happy, therefore must be in the dative case.
Another important use of the relativizer "si" is when a dependent clause if the object of a preposition. In this case, it is mandatory for the dependent clause to be introduced with "sin," the nominative form of "si."
Noun modifiers in Common equate to adjectives, prepositions that refer to noun phrases, and nominal relativisers.
As in English, Common has a natural, preferred order of modifiers in a noun phrase. This order is very similar to that of English, which is unsurprising given the common head-final word building of both languages, the prevalence of this approximate order in many of the world's languages, and the direct influence of English on Common. The most general order of elements in the noun phrase is as follows, from beginning to end. Mandatory elements are in bold italic. Elements which have a strict position that never deviates when present are in bold. Elements which are generally found in this position but which may have exceptions in order to convey a special meaning or for literary effect are undecorated. The head term, which is mandatory if any modifiers are present, is in italic.
- Location (Demonstrative)
- Quantity (Number/Amount)
- Possessing Terms'
- Modifying Terms
- Head Term
Besides the fact that Common has more of a tendency to put size before opinion than English (although this is also a common pattern in English, think 'Big Bad Wolf'), the order is identical to English.
Some of these categories can be fulfilled with a prepositional phrase, and in Common, prepositions are modifiers, but a preposition with an object cannot stay between the article and the head term and has to move to after the head term. Such phrases appear after the head term in the reverse order that they would have appeared if they stayed in front of the noun, so a prepositional phrase of purpose would appear before a prepositional phrase of origin. That is, these modifying units stay the same relative closeness to the head term regardless of whether they appear before or after it.
The Action category is a placeholder for relative clauses that modify the noun. Such phrases are introduced with a relative pronoun/modifier that always has an object and hence never appears between the article and the head term and always appears after the head term. Their position at the beginning of the sequence accounts for the fact that in real use, they will appear after any prepositional phrases, i.e., furthest from the head term.
Traces (Naz Tres)
As an aside, Common grammarians think that when an element is removed from the article-head term bracket because it has a object, it leaves a trace behind. So take for example the phrase:
Na citit paluh
The happy dog
That could also be legitimately expressed, dropping the head term, as:
Na citit yn
That translates approximately to "the happy one." If "citit" weren't there, you could say simply "na," (or "na'n" in more colloquial speech, where people tend to avoid bare third person pronouns) but the presence of "citit" triggers the rule requiring a head term, and the dummy "yn" drops in. Now lets say that the happiness were expressed periphrastically instead of directly with a modifier, so it is reframed as an action rather than a manner.
Na paluh su se an citit
3.SG.DEF.NOM dog RELN.ABS NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be happy
Common grammarians think there is a trace left behind where "su" theoretically was in the phrase before the "modifier with an object must move out of the bracket" rule was applied. We'll indicate this with T.
Na T paluh su se an citit
3.SG.DEF.NOM TRACE dog RELN.ABS NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be happy
So if you drop the head term now, this happens:
Na T yn su se an citit
3.SG.DEF.NOM TRACE one RELN.ABS NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be happy
According to this analysis, the reason why the "yn" is mandatory and you can't say "na su se an citit" is because of the trace left behind triggering the "head term required with a modifier" rule.
Verb Modifiers (Adverbials)
Verb modifiers in Common equate to adjectives, prepositions that refer to verb phrases or entire sentences, and verbal relativisers.
Common considers noun and verb modifiers to be the same part of speech and allows them to be freely zero derived from each other, but there are differences in practice. Here are some of the major differences between modifiers on verbs as opposed to nouns:
- There is a standard order, but it's not the same as for nouns. See below.
- Adverbial expressions can freely leave the auxiliary-head term bracket and move around the sentence to certain locations.
- Before or after the verb phrase. However prepositional phrases cannot go right in front of the auxiliary if the verb phrase isn't the first element in the sentence but must go after the head term or to the beginning of the sentence.
- To the beginning of the sentence. Many adverbials can do this, whether they have an object or not.
- To precede the article for one of the arguments to the verb to modify the argument in relation to the verb. A particular verb might mandate such modifiers as required or as optional.
- Modifying terms are more likely to be interpreted as chained verbs with a modal meaning than as part of a compound meaning, although the latter occurs as well.
Adverbials inside a relative clause have similar freedom of movement but cannot leave the relative clause.
Common considers every modifier in a sentence to "belong" to a specific noun or verb phrase in the sentence. Noun modifiers belong to their noun phrases via very strict positioning requirements. Verb modifiers have some positioning requirements but are much freer to move around. Their exact interpretation can vary by position in the sentence. Nevertheless, in terms of the concepts of formal Common grammar, any modifier you encounter in a clause that does not clearly belong to one of the noun phrases in that clause is considered to belong to the clause's verb phrase, and to modify it in some way, even if somewhat peripherally.
Because of the idea in Common that any adverbial "belongs" to the verb phrase of the clause, if such a word encountered anywhere in the sentence it is considered to leave a "trace" between the auxiliary and the head term in the verb phrase as if it had been moved out of the bracket. As such, in the case of head term dropping, in grammatical Common, you are supposed to use the dummy head term "yn" if you want to drop the head term and still use any adverbials, even such as one applying some attitude to the entire sentence (like introducing a sentence with "Unfortunately").
With the equivalent "yn" rule with nouns, native speakers are mostly very good about obeying it. The rule is generally obeyed but more likely to be flouted with adverbs, suggesting that the trace theory may not be as applicable with all kinds of adverbs. It is important to understand and follow this rule for good formal style, however.
Adverbials (modifiers of verbs) can do the following kinds of things:
- Directly modify the verb, clarifying something about frequency, manner, time, etc. In this case they are usually found in close proximity to the verb phrase, either in the bracket, directly before the auxiliary, or directly after the head term.
- Apply to the whole sentence or statement. In this case they are often found at the beginning of the sentence or clause.
- Modify the interpretation of one of the core verbal arguments, in which case they will always directly precede the article.
- Introduce some additional special argument a verb uses that is not covered as part of its paradigm verb, typically with a nominative noun phrase object.
The following is the basic order of where adverbials theoretically appear inside a verb phrase. As with nouns, trace theory is considered to apply if any are moved out of the bracket, driving the appearance of "yn" if modifiers are used and the head term is dropped. As with nouns, modifiers with objects that are not also modifiers cannot stay in the bracket and must move out. Unlike with nouns, adverbials tend to preserve the same order in any position where more than one is found and to not reverse order like noun modifiers to maintain the same closeness to the head term.
Mandatory elements are in bold italic. Elements which have a strict position that never deviates when present are in bold. Elements which are generally found in this position but which may have exceptions in order to convey a special meaning or for literary effect are undecorated. The head term, which is mandatory if any modifiers are present, is in italic.
- Auxiliary Determiner
- Chained Verbs
- Modifying Terms
- Head Term
This order is somewhat different than the manner-place-frequency-time-purpose 'royal order of adverbs' in English. As in English, the order reflects a tendency and real-world counter-examples can easily be found, particularly for the undecorated elements in the list. As with modifiers of nouns, Davidson specified some of the order explicitly, certainly all the bold elements, but there was little explicit direction on the remaining elements. Common was evidently created with a different order of adverbials than English, however, because examples where time preceded place and manner are attested in the earliest writings.
In the late early and middle periods, order in adverbs showed considerable variation in attested writings, often influenced by the speakers' native languages. Chinese and English speakers, for example, tended to use orders closer to their native languages, which are quite different. The order in Common is a little closer to that of Chinese than English in some ways, and how the system ended up may actually be more of an influence from Mandarin than from English. In the late middle period, the order started to settle down towards the modern style, and by the time the language was codified in the early modern period, grammarians were recommending a style very close to the modern style above.
Items 9-11 will be looked at in more depth.
Polarity (Negation and Answering Yes/No Questions)
Note that for making negative statements, Common is a negative concord language. See Trafalgar for details.
Polarity refers to whether the verb is positive or negative. Common has particles to indicate both - the positive particle is less often required, but is used to emphasize the positiveness of a verb, such as to contradict a negative assertion about the action. The negative particle does the name thing as "not" in English, and is required to express a negative. If another adverbial indicates a negative meaning to the verb somehow, the negative particle is still required - Common demands a double negative in these circumstances, and a double negative is still a negative, or a more intense negative.
Polarity particles are also used as the epithets for yes and no. They may be used on their own in answer to a yes-no question. When used to introduce a sentence as the answer to a yes/no question, grammatical Common requires a polarity particle to be repeated in the verb phrase, not necessarily the same particle, though. For example the following are all valid:
La, a costo se la an uzre
Yes, the house is green.
Ikky, a costo se ikky an uzre.
No, the house is not green.
La, a costo se ikky an uzre.
Yes, the house is not green.
Ikky, a costo se la an uzre.
No, the house is green.
The positive particle may sometimes be omitted from the verb phrase by some speakers when answering a yes/no question with a positive sentence, but this is actually considered ungrammatical. Speakers are careful to use a negative particle in the verb phrase when answering a yes/no question with a negative sentence, however.
Modifying terms can be applied to the head term main verb to introduce more information about time or mood than is contained in the verbal auxiliary. They are considered to apply in series, with each one applying to the next in sequence until the last applies to the head term. For example, the verbs "noxaj," "go' and "jusal," "want" can be used in the fashion.
When used as a chained verb, "noxaj" connotes a future sense, just like in English. Using noxaj this way connotes that the speaker considers the future action very definite and probably not a very long time in the future. Example:
Ja pocuk te noxaj zeul a paluh.
3.SG.DEF.ERG child STRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL go eye 3.SG.DEF.ABS dog.
"The child is going to look at the dog."
Contrasting "jusal," jusal can also indicate a future sense. The implication is that the referent desires to complete the action and will if not prevented. The attitude towards the likelihood of the action coming to fruition is less definite and the timeframe may be longer or less definite.
Ja pocuk te jusal zeul a paluh.
3.SG.DEF.ERG child TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL want eye 3.SG.DEF.ABS dog.
"The child will look at the dog," or, "The child wants to look at the dog."
If the speaker wanted to emphasize the child's desire to look at the dog rather than the action that this desire unleashes, a non-chained relative construction might be selected:
A pocuk nox jusal ixi a paluh te zeul.
3.SG.DEF.ABS child STRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL want RELV.DAT 3.SG.DEF.ABS dog TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL eye.
These constructions and others produce similar shades of meaning about future actions. You could also say:
Ja pocuk te zeul a paluh 3.SG.DEF.ERG child TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL eye 3.SG.DEF.ABS dog.
'The child is going to look at the dog.'
This is because 'te' is in the non-past, and that means it can just as easily be interpreted to have a future meaning as a present meaning without any other indicator of future time.
Note that auxiliary agreement and verbal arguments are usually based on the head term. Noxaj and jusal are both semitransitive noxaj verbs, but in all these chained verb examples, the verb was conjugated with te, because the head term zeul is a transitive skurun verb.
However, there are exceptions where the expression acts more like an orthographically unjoined compound word, and the valence agreement of the compound can be completely unexpected relative to its components. An example of this would be with 'eru', 'water', which used as a verb is a skurun verb and means something like to water something, but when used in a compound with 'wero', 'cause or make', as 'wero eru', which is a euphemistic or polite way of saying urinate, the compound acts as a pali verb.
Verb phrases can have modifying terms on the verb much as noun phrases can, and like with nouns, these shade into being parts of compound words rather than independent words. Unlike with nouns, which tolerate the ambiguity between possessing terms and modifying terms well, verbs do not like this ambiguity, and Common tends to avoid modifying terms for verbs, instead preferring to use compounding or other forms of derivation and word building to try to get to a single-word head term. However, modifying terms are grammatical and do exist.
Modifiers of Modifiers
Common has a concept of "tight" or "loose binding" in modifiers. All modifiers inherently have this binding property. Loose binding modifiers are as we have discussed - they apply to the overall noun or verb phrase. Tight binding modifiers are a smaller class of modifiers that bind "tightly" to whatever follows them - in essence, they are modifiers of modifiers.
Tight binding modifiers can be irregular, or else regular and derived from loose binding modifiers by adding the suffix "-no." Irregular tight binding modifiers like "faj," "very," can never be derived into loose binding modifiers, and may or may not have an irregular loose binding partner.
Common exclusively has prepositions as opposed to postpositions. Prepositions are seen as a kind of modifier. Modifiers fall into grades - the first grade is a closed class of weak modifiers that all require objects. They are all prepositions. The second grade that generally also take an object but that can sometimes function without one, and so are sometimes prepositions. The third grade is an open class and can never take an object, so never function as prepositions.
The object of a preposition can be a noun phrase or a dependent clause. If a noun phrase, the article must be in the nominative case. If a dependent clause, it must be introduced with "sin," the verbal relativizer "si" in the nominative case, and the verb is required to be the last element in order to comply with formal High Common grammar.
Conjunctions in Common are a closed class and typically are used for rhetorical flow. They come in two varieties, "edge" and "internal." Edge conjunctions are used to join phrases or sentences, whereas internal conjunctions are used to join elements inside a phrase. Edge and internal conjunctions often come in pairs with similar meaning and sometimes are identical. An example where there is a difference is "pi" (internal) and "epis" (edge) which both mean "and."
A pantera na Kanata se an eotil pi zilus.
The flag of Canada is red and white.
A pikki epis a paluh se an citit.
The cat and the dog are happy.
In the first example, "pi" is joining two modifiers. In the second example, "epis" is joining two noun phrases collectively as the subject of the verb "se an."
Note that "epis" is exclusively used to connect noun phrases into a single argument of a verb - to run sentences together into a sequence of events, Common uses a different conjunction, "hanja."
Common has a wide range of suffixes and prefixes that can be used derive new words with different meanings. The most significant and useful are:
- -(y)n: Derives a modifier into a term.
- -(y)s: Derives a term into a modifer.
- -(y)syn: A combination of -(y)s and -(y)n, derives an abstractified term from a term.
- -no: Derives a loose binding modifier into a tight binding modifier.
- -ka: Applied to a term, forces a verb interpretation and derives a new term with a base interpretation as a noun that is the typical absolutive argument of the verb.
- -ca: Applied to a term, forces a verb interpretation and derives a new term with a base interpretation as a noun that is the typical ergative argument of the verb.
- -kija: Applied to a term, forces a verb interpretation and derives a new term with a base interpretation as a noun that is the typical dative argument of the verb.
There are also a few extremely productive but also extremely idiomatic prefixes derived from prepositions that are used to perform radial derivations from base roots, such as "u-" which implies becoming, "e-" which implies sustained effort, and "ro-" which intensifies or implied completion.
As well, it is possible in Common to create compound words. Compounds are usually of terms, with the head being the rightmost term.
Trafalgar's blog includes a searchable lexicon. While we have found words in other sources that are not in the lexicon and have inferred something about their meaning, Trafalgar's lexicon is reasonably detailed and written in English and is the best source we have on Common vocabulary. Their dictionary appears to be a work in progress and adds new words on a regular basis.
The vocabulary of Common consists of a core of a priori vocabulary created by Davidson, combined with a large accretion of loanwords and calques from various natural languages. Davidson's a priori vocabulary contains some "Easter eggs" and unconscious influences from natural languages, but by far the greatest outside influence on Common came from later speakers. In particular, the early effort of the AXZ to coin a complete technical vocabulary for Common massively resulted in a huge number of loanwords.
The single most influential language on High Common was English. Low Common dialects tend to have widely varying additional substratum influences, but in order to make it into High Common, a particular influence had to achieve a global scope.
Example Text - The Globalist Manifesto
Trafalgar provides a series of example texts along with some contextual background on the literature section of their blog. Here we will give one, specific example with a full IPA pronunciation and gloss, which Trafalgar doesn't always provide.
This text is a paragraph from the Globalist Manifesto, a founding document of the New World Order. The link goes to a larger except, which has the IPA and some contextual information but not a full gloss.
Na Onpafisas Affe Lawt
Na Ates Hiet - na Pali na Onpafisa
A atenys Onpa xu wez te speos arte tene faj can xeppe, hanja a spet yn nox hufep ija ejálys etríjusyn u sin ti mawa. Jaz kiles Onpafisaka hanne cet a spet Affe Lawt u sin hyp tol ija awke atuinot a kaje na exúlyn, itin wez nox riske til a spet lawt speos u sin wez si jal e na ate zra kaje. Itin a spet Affe Lawt se an na efo zra happat na atuinysyn, hanja ceo na Hyl na Lufis Sufetysyn na Onpa az awken su ija affe trit si ehóro te riske xi jaz te rowétera a lis na spet Lawt.
na 'om.ba.va.zas 'af.fe lawt
na 'a.des 'hi.et - na 'pa.li na 'om.ba.vi.za
a 'a.den.əs 'om.ba ʃu weθ te 'spe.os 'ar.de 'te.ne faj t͡ʃan 'ʃep.pe, 'haɲja a spet ən noʃ 'hu.vep 'i.ja e'jal.əs e'tri.ju.zən u sin ti 'ma.wa. jaθ 'ki.les 'om.ba.vi.za.ga 'han.ne t͡ʃet a spet 'af.fe lawt u sin həp tol 'i.ja 'aw.ge 'a.du.in.ot a 'ka.je na e'ʒu.lən, 'i.din weθ noʃ 'ris.ke til a spet lawt 'spe.os u sin weθ si jal e na 'a.de θra 'ka.je. 'i.din a spet 'af.fe lawt se an na 'e.vo θra 'hap.pat na 'a.du.in.əz.ən, 'haɲ.ja t͡ʃeo na həl na 'lu.vis 'su.ved.əz.ən na 'om.ba aθ 'aw.gen su 'i.ja 'af.fe trit si e'ço.ro te 'ris ke ʃi jaθ te ro'we.de.ra a lis na spet lawt.
Na Onpa-fisa-s Affe Lawt
3.SG.DEF.NOM globe-belief-MOD public word
Na Ate-s Hiet - na Pali na Onpa-fisa
3.SG.DEF.NOM one-ORD tranche - 3.SG.DEF.NOM stand 3.SG.DEF.NOM globe-belief
A ate-n-ys Onpa xu wez te speos arte tene faj can xeppe, hanja a spet yn nox hufep ija e-jál-ys e-tríju-s-yn u sin ti mawa.
3.SG.DEF.ABS one-TERM-MOD globe RELN.ERG 1.PL.INCL.ABS TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL today benefit TRN.NPST.PRF.REAL very hard win and.then 3.SG.DEF.ABS this one STRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL need 3.SG.DEF.DAT sustain-stay-MOD sustain-see-MOD-TERM to RELV.NOM TRN.NPST.PRF.IRREAL cover
Jaz kile-s Onpa-fisa-ka hanne cet a spet Affe Lawt u sin hyp tol ija awke atuin-ot a kaje ∅ na e-xúl-yn, itin wez nox riske til a spet lawt speos u sin wez si jal e na ate zra kaje.
3.PL.DEF.ERG back-MOD globe-belief-EXP DTRN.NPST.PRF.REAL write 3.SG.DEF.ABS this public word to RELV.NOM DTRN.NPST.NPRF.IRREAL show 3.SG.DEF.DAT all person-kind 3.SG.DEF.ABS road NULL 3.SG.DEF.NOM sustain-alive-TERM, therefore 1.PL.INCL.ABS STRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL oblige study 3.SG.DEF.ABS this word today to RELV.NOM 1.PL.INCL.ABS NTRN.NPST.NPRF.IRREAL rest at 3.SG.DEF.NOM one good road.
Itin a spet Affe Lawt se an na efo zra happat ∅ na atuin-ys-yn, hanja ceo na Hyl ∅ na Lufi-s Sufet-ys-yn ∅ na Onpa az awke-n su ija affe trit si e-hóro te riske xi jaz te ro-wétera a lis ∅ na spet Lawt.
Therefore 3.SG.DEF.ABS this public word NTRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL be 3.SG.DEF.NOM SUPERLATIVE good give NULL 3.SG.DEF.NOM person-MOD-TERM and.then through 3.SG.DEF.NOM law NULL 3.SG.DEF.NOM birth-MOD arrangement-MOD-TERM NULL globe 3.PL.DEF.ABS all-TERM RELN.ABS 3.SG.DEF.DAT public rule NTRN.NPST.NPRF.IRREAL sustain-gather TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL oblige RELV.ERG 3.PL.DEF.ERG TRN.NPST.NPRF.REAL complete-fulfill 3.SG.DEF.ABS meaning NULL 3.SG.DEF.NOM this word.
Literal English Translation
This translation isn't literally word-for-word, because that would be unreadable, but tries to capture something of the flavor of the original.
The Globalist Public Word
The First Tranche - the Stand of the Globalism
The united globe that we today profit from has been very hard won and needs constant vigilance so that would protect. The past Globalists have written this Public Word so that would show to all humankind the way of survival, therefore we must study this word today so that we would stay on the good way. Therefore this Public Word is the most good gift of humanity and through the Law of the New Order of the Globe all that to public rule would participate are obliged that they fulfill the meaning of this Word.
Fluent English Translation
The Globalist Manifesto
Section One - The Base of Globalism
The unified world that we enjoy today has been very hard-won, and constant vigilance is required to maintain it. The Globalist visionaries of the past wrote this Manifesto in order to show humanity the path to survival, and we continue to honor it today in order to stay on that path. For this reason, the Manifesto is humanity's greatest gift, and by New World Order law, everyone who participates in public life must adhere to the principles of the Manifesto.