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Phonetics and phonology


Consonantal phonemes of Khaz
Labial Dental Palatal Velar Uvular
Nasal m n
Stop p pʰ b bʱ t d k kʰ g gʱ
Fricative f s z ʃ x (χ) (ʁ)
Trill r1 (ʀ)
Approximant l j

  1. The /r/ phoneme may be realised as either an alveolar trill (r), a uvular trill (ʀ), a voiced uvular fricative (ʁ), or a voiceless uvular fricative (χ).

The lack of a corresponding aspirated series in the dental stops is believed to have resulted from an earlier shift where the dental aspirate * became a dental lateral *ɬ̪ʰ, which later simplified to the /ʃ/ of today. A similar process is believed to have happened with the voiced counterpart, ultimately merging with /z/.


Vowel phonemes
Front Central Back
Closed i u
Mid e o
Open a

All vowels come in both long and short variants. Long vowels are written with a circumflex (â, ê, î, ô, û). The length distinction is phonemic, e.g. indicative azbâzún (‘I write’) versus optative azbazún (‘That I may write’).

In some parts of the language there appears to be an opposition between front and back vowels. This “weak” vowel harmony is most prominent in the case-inflection of nouns. Surprisingly, the central open vowel /a/ often agrees with the back vowels.


Verbal morphology

Verbs are inflected for tense (present, past, future), mood (indicative, optative, imperative), and voice (active, passive). Generally, verbal roots are of the fashion CVC- which are then built on to form the relevant mood-inflected stem either by a process of vowel lengthening or by aspiration of the final consonant. These are the conjugated finitely by affixing voice, person and tense markers.

Finite verbs

Firstly, to construct the verb, the appropriate stem has to be derived from the root. The indicative stem is formed by lengthening the root vowel (CVC- → CVːC-) whereas the optative mood is formed by aspirating the final consonant (CVC- → CVCʰ-). After this step has been performed, if the verb is desired to be passive, an a- will be prefixed. Finally, the relevant person prefixes are added together with the appropriate tense suffix.

The person prefixes are the same across all categories save the imperative and are given in this table.

person singular plural
1 az- karaz-
2 uz- karuz-
3 iz- (m.) / izil- (f.) kariz-

The tense suffixes are invariable. For the present (pres) add -ún, the future (fut) -án, and for the past (past) -át.

The imperative mood is marked by prefixing tar- for the second person singular and kar- for the plural to the optative mood stem. No tense markers are added.

Thus, a fully inflected or finite verb may look like this:

azabakhún ‘I wish to be seen’ from √bak-
tarmah ‘Know!’ from √mah-

Infinitive verbs

The infinitive or non-finite verbs are characterised by not being inflected for either person or tense. Some of them however, do change to indicate things such as mood and voice. One analysis separates these infinitive verbs based on whether they show mood and voice or not. Another, does it on their morphological shape; the results however, are the same. They will be described using the morphological approach here, wherein they are divided into a simple and a complex group.


The simple infinitives are as one might suspect, very simple in their form. They are identical to the voice-inflected stems, i.e., they look exactly the same as finite verbs stripped of their person and tense markers. Thus from the simple root √bak- we can extract the infinitives bāk ‘to see’, bakh ‘wish to see’, abāk ‘to be seen’, and so on.


The complex infinitives are a jumbled group which all have in common their formation from the naked verb root. Luckily, their formation is readily memorable.

The verbal noun (vnoun) is formed by adding -ín to the root. It denotes the action pure and simple and does not engage in verb syntax. As it readily exposes the root, it is also used as the lemma form for all regular verbs and together with the optative present first person for the irregular ones.

bakín ‘the act of seeing’

The infinitive of purpose (prps) is formed by adding -áyim to the root. This form is used in conjunction with verbs of motion to indicate purpose.

zirakáyim azfârún êbuyâkhrôm ‘I travel to the fortress to explore’

The verbal participle (ptcp), a kind of adverbial, denotes an ongoing action of the verb. It is formed by suffixing -šku.

azalušku (‘away-dwindling’) from √LUH- (‘diminish’).

Nominal morphology


Nouns are marked for both case and number. The inflections always fully harmonise with the final vowel in the word stem with the exception of the possessive case, which only does so partially. There is an opposition between front (e, i) and back vowels (a, o, u) which is reflected in the final vowel of the polysyllabic suffixes (a/u vs. i). All but the final vowel harmonises with the vowel of the last syllable in a word. A word with a nominative ending in will in the accusative plural have -amaz. Likewise, a word ending in will have -omaz as its accusative plural.

Noun declension
case singular plural
Nom. -Vz
Acc. -Vm -VmVz
Poss. -Vlun -Vlunaz
Cons. -VzVl -VkVzVl
ânaya silver
case singular plural
Nom. ânaya ânayaz
Acc. ânayam ânayamaz
Poss. ânayalun ânayalunaz
Cons. ânayazul ânayakazul
êkêš vessel
case singular plural
Nom. êkêš êkêšez
Acc. êkêšem êkêšemiz
Poss. êkêšelun êkêšelunaz
Cons. êkêšezil êkêšekezil

Adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs (adpar) are identical in form with the exception of a few suppletive pairs. This means that ašûbu (‘new’) can be used both with a noun: ašûbu zaphrâ (‘new flower’) and in a verb phrase: ašûbu izil-râkát amunam (‘she recently found a bracelet’). They belong to one of the simplest parts of the morphology as they do not inflect for case or number. They are always found before their heads (adj + noun).

One of the simplest ways of reinforcing an adjective is by reduplicating the first syllable. Thus, ašûbu becomes ašûbu (‘new-new’). This is a defining feature of the spoken language and occurs only rarely in the written where the augmentative infix usually is preferred.



There is only one definite article nâr which is invariable for number and case. There is no indefinite article.

nâr zaphrâ ašišidu (‘the flower is sort of snowy’)

It can be combined with several adpositions, similar to languages like Portuguese, albeit with the definite article coming first in the construction.

nâra (‘to the’ or ‘from the’) from combining with aya (‘to’) or with az (‘from’).
nârda (‘down to the’) from adding dala
nârba (‘out from the’) from adding bakha


Khaz makes a two-way distinction (proximal versus distal) among its demonstratives.

Proximal (Close) Distal (Far)
ina ana

Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns in Khaz are a simple matter. Mostly, they behave like nouns and inflect similarly, with the one major difference being that both the nominative singular and all plural forms inflect using an alternative stem. The third person pronoun also include a distinction for masculine and feminine that parallels the one found in the verbal pronoun prefixes.

First and second person pronouns
Person First Second
Case ↓ | Number → Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ašaz ašnum ušaz ušnum
Accusative azum ašnum uzum ušnum
Possessive azûl aškakûl uzûl uškakûl
Third person pronoun
Number Singular Plural
Case ↓ | Gender → Masculine Feminine Masculine Feminine
Nominative išaz išal išnum
Accusative izum izilum išnum
Possessive iškûl izilûl iškakûl

Derivational morphology

Verbal derivation

The verb system has a rich system of derivational affixes that may be used to expand on the meaning of the basic monosyllabic root.

The ka-prefix is the first and most commonly encountered verbal affix, where basic verbs go from CVC- → kaCVC-. It carries a basic meaning of intensity and is also used for emphasis.

izlâbát (‘he has fallen’) versus izkalâbát (‘he has truly fallen’).

The ya-prefix is used to form causative verbs out of intransitive verbs.

izil-yakhûzát izúm (‘she made him cry out’) versus izil-khûzát (‘she cried out’).

The ta-infix forms the iterative. It is placed before the last consonant in the stem.

azrâtabún (‘I rewrite’) versus azrâbún (‘I write’).

Nominal derivation


The verb root can also serve as the basis for constructing new adjectives and nouns.

The verbal adjective, which denotes a result or state by the verb, is formed by doubling the final root consonant and adding the circumfix a-...-î.

amahhî (‘knowing’) from √MAH- (‘know’).

The agent noun, that is someone who carries out the action, is formed by adding the circumfix ya-...-a to the verb root.

yabika (‘builder’) from √BIK- (‘build’).

To form a result noun, the verb root takes the suffix -šdi

râšdi (‘knowledge’) from √RAK- (‘find’).


Nouns can become adjectives by adding the suffix -du.

ašaddu (‘stony’) from ašakh (‘stone’).

Previously, there was a separate suffix -nâ, however it is no longer productive.

enukâšnâ (‘forcefully’) from enukâš (‘impact’)


Adjectives may cease to be adjectives and become nouns by being nominalised with a variety suffixes.

The singulative suffix -(z)ôn creates nouns characterised by the adjective.

ašûbuzôn (‘the new one’) from the adjective ašûbu.

The abstract suffix -(a)dda creates nouns that mean ‘the quality of the adjective’.

sûkhnâdda (‘oldness’) from the adjective sûkhnâ (‘old’).


Augmentatives and diminutives

Many of these have been strongly lexicalised with a meaning that is not always transparent. It is prudent to memorise all pairs of words and not rely on the meaning always being clear.

Nominal augmentatives are formed with the infix -nV-, where V stands for a short echo vowel. Generally, it is spliced in before the last syllable, as in the following examples.

êbuyâkhrô (‘fortress’) and êbuyânakhrô (‘castle’, ‘great fortress’)
arûza (‘mound’) and arûnuza (‘hill’).

Nominal diminutives are formed by suffixing -mô. Occasionally the stem is clipped, as in the second example.

têph (‘drop’) and têph (‘droplet’), as found in the flower name ašitêphmô (‘snowdroplet’).
efâyamri (‘sea voyage’) and efâya (‘short naval excursion’)

These can further be combined with the other augmentative and diminutive affixes. E.g., tefâyamô (‘a short naval excursion that is great in its size’)


Phrase order

The normal word order is subject-verb-object (SVO). It can however be disrupted for stylistic purpose into several other orders.

Ukaba alabbî Yarôkhaza izayârát nâra Azûrem
ukaba a-labb-î yarôkhaza iz-a-yâr-át nâr-a azûrem
and_so adlz-adlz\low-circ wizard 3sg.m-mediopass-come.ind-pst def-all

“And so the Wizard humbled came to the island”


Verb focus

VSO order is used to emphasise the verb phrase.

Garku Gôr-Amahhîzôn nâr Arûtulbhimaz
gar-šku gôr-amahhî-zôn nâr arûtulbhi-maz
war-ptcp king-knowing-nmlz traitor-acc;pl

“It was warring he was, Gôr-Amahhîzôn against the traitors.”

Object focus

To emphasise an object, the object is broken out of the sentence and referred to with ina. The word order of the clause changes to demonstrative-subject-verb.

Aškabhal, ina azbârán
aškabhal ina az-bâr-án
apple prox.dem 1sg-eat-ind.act-fut

“An apple, that's what I'll eat”

Noun phrase

The noun phrase begins with the definite article nâr (if present), then follows the adjective. These always precede the noun, whereas the numeral, the genitive and the relative clause always follow it.

nâr amahhî yabika-aš bâlulun, ašakham bâšku…
nâr amahhî yabika bâlulun ašakham bâšku
the wise builder one lord's stone seeing

“the lord's single wise builder, seeing the stone”

Verb phrase

Compound verbs

Compound verbs of the structure V+V are used regularly in Khaz. They are formed by using the verbal participle (ptcp) of the primary verb followed by a light verb which carries all the relevant inflections.

išaz khašku izkîbhón
išaz khaz-šku iz-kîbh-ún
3sg.m.nom speak-ptcp 3sg.m-want.ind.act-pres
“he is trying to talk”

Verb framing

Khaz is a verb-framing language and often uses a compounding verbal structure to describe manner of motion for verbs.

išal šašku izil-yâphát
išal šar-šku izil-yâph-át
3sg.f.nom enter-ptcp 3sg.f-stumble.ind.act-past
“she entered stumbling”