Qulmian

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Qulmian (native name: Qulm usíhipa) is a language constructed by Yuv yuv for the constructed world of Taercnim.

Please note: a large part of this language has already been completed but is currently undergoing heavy revision and rewriting before being published.


Qulmian
Qulm usíhipa
Progress: 48%
Type
Fusional
Alignment
Nominative-accusative
Head direction
Initial Mixed Final
Primary word order
Subject-verb-object
Tonal
No
Declensions
Yes
Conjugations
Yes
Genders
Masculine, feminine
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect


Background

The Qulmian language started, like many of my languages, as an experiment in grammar and writing. I put to use some rather unusual grammatical ideas that I had been collecting for a period of several months before starting work on it, combining them with a script that I developed during a boring 11th-grade class.

In the world of Taercnim, Qulmian is spoken by about 55 million people in the southeastern region of Qulma on the continent Lerta. It is also used throughout Lerta as a liturgical language for religious purposes.

Phonology

Consonants

Qulmian has sixteen consonants.

Labial Dental Alveolar Postalv. Uvular Glottal
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ ng /ɴ/
Plosive p /p/

b /b/

t /t/

d /d/

q /q/ /ʔ/
Fricative v /v/ s /s/

z /z/

c /ʃ/

j /ʒ/

h /h/
Approximant l /l/

/ʃ ʒ/ were originally velar stops /k g/ respectively. They were lenited to /x ɣ/ early on and shifted forward to their current values at a later stage.

Modern Qulmian has no velar consonant phonemes, but some dialects may occasionally shift /q/ forward to a post-velar or velar position, and it is often pronounced [k] before an unstressed /i/: sitiqiti [sɪˈtɪkɪˌtɪ]

When following a vowel and preceding another consonant, /q/ may be lenited to [χ] or [qχ].

Unlike most other languages of Taercnim, Qulmian has no rhotic phonemes. Loanwords containing rhotic sounds have them transcribed as either /ʒ/ or /l/.

Word-final /ɪt/ is often realized as [ɪə̯t̚], with an unreleased [t].

Vowels

Qulmian has five vowel phonemes. Vowel articulation is always quite lax, even in long vowels.

Front Back
Close i /ɪ/ y /ɯ/

u /u/

Open a /æ/ o /ɒ/

The phoneme /æ/ is usually realized as [æ] or [a]. In the diphthong ai, it is sometimes realized as [ä].

The pronunciation of /ɯ/ varies between dialects. Some dialects have retained a lax [ɯ], whereas others have reduced it to [ə], and others still have shifted it forward to [e]. In all dialects, /ɯ/ may be realized as [i] in the diphthong oy.

Vowel length is phonemic. Long vowels are marked in the script with an additional vowel symbol, and in romanization with an acute accent.

Stress

By default, stress in Qulmian is placed on the vowel between the first and second radicals. If a mutant T (see T-mutation below) is present and has vowels on both sides, the vowel following it receives the stress.

If a long vowel is present in the word, it receives the stress. If there are two or more long vowels in the word, the last one of them receives the stress.

Script

Under construction ...

Consonants

Vowels

Long vowels

Punctuation

Grammar

Morphology

Qulmian morphology is fusional and nonconcatenative, using a system of triconsonantal roots placed into patterns to form words.

Verb morphology

Verbs morphologically encode tense and aspect along with the person, gender and number of the subject. Perfective and imperfective aspect are distinguished in the past tense.

There are four different types of conjugation patterns for verbs. Many roots can be placed into more than one pattern, forming verbs with different meanings.

  • Form 1 – XoXXa (using example root hml – to give)
Person/Number/Gender Perf. past Impf. past Present Future
1st person singular homil húmil ahmyl ahmil
2nd person singular homal húmal ahmol ahmal
3rd person masculine singular homla húmla ahmola ahmala
3rd person feminine singular homli húmli ahmoli ahmali
1st person plural homilu húmilu ahmylu ahmilu
2nd person plural homila húmila ahmól ahmila
3rd person masculine plural homlá húmlá ahmólá ahmalá
3rd person feminine plural homlí húmlí ahmólí ahmalí
  • Form 2 – XaiXoXa (using example root hml – to hold someone dear)
Person/Number/Gender Perf. past Impf. past Present Future
1st person singular hómil huimil himyl himil
2nd person singular hómal huimal himol himal
3rd person masculine singular hómla huimla himola himala
3rd person feminine singular hómli huimli himoli himali
1st person plural hómilu huimilu himylu himilu
2nd person plural hómila huimila himól himila
3rd person masculine plural hómlá huimlá himólá himalá
3rd person feminine plural hómlí huimlí himólí himalí
  • Form 3 – XtoXXa (using example root sqt – to have the right to do something)
Person/Number/Gender Perf. past Impf. past Present Future
1st person singular stoqit stúqit stuqyt stuqit
2nd person singular stoqat stúqat stuqot stuqat
3rd person masculine singular stoqta stúqta stuqota stuqata
3rd person feminine singular stoqti stúqti stuqoti stuqati
1st person plural stoqitu stúqitu stuqytu stuqitu
2nd person plural stoqita stúqita stuqót stuqita
3rd person masculine plural stoqtá stúqtá stuqótá stuqatá
3rd person feminine plural stoqtí stúqtí stuqótí stuqatí
  • Form 4 – XtaXoXa (using example root sqt)
Person/Number/Gender Perf. past Impf. past Present Future
1st person singular sitoiqit situiqit sitiqyt sitiqit
2nd person singular sitoiqat situiqat sitiqot sitiqat
3rd person masculine singular sitoiqata situiqata sitiqota sitiqata
3rd person feminine singular sitoiqati situiqati sitiqoti sitiqati
1st person plural sitoiqiti situiqiti sitiqyti sitiqiti
2nd person plural sitoiqita situiqita sitiqót sitiqita
3rd person masculine plural sitoiqitá situiqitá sitiqótá sitiqatá
3rd person feminine plural sitoiqití situiqití sitiqótí sitiqatí
T-mutation

Verbs in forms 3 and 4 may undergo a phonological process called T-mutation. All verbs in these forms have a T sound after the first radical, and when the two consonants are not separated by a vowel, the T may either change its phonetic value or switch places with the first radical.

There are two kinds of T-mutation rules. Some rules apply in all positions, others apply only word-initially.

Mutation Position Example Notes
No mutation stoqta
mt – mp Anywhere *mtosqamposqa Some dialects may realize the mutated consonant as [b] word-initially, but it is always written and transliterated as p.
nt – ng Word-initially *ntamodangamoda The two sounds fuse into a single uvular nasal /ɴ/ represented by ng. (/g/ as a phoneme does not exist in Qulmian.)
ngt – ngq Anywhere ...
tt – ts, qt – qs Word-initially *ttonqatsonqa

*qtaqtaqsaqta

dt – dz Word-initially ...
bt – bd, dt – dd, jt – jd Anywhere *idtalomaiddaloma

*jtovdajdovda

ht – th, ‘t – t‘ Anywhere *htostathosta

*‘tanonat‘anona

Noun morphology

Like verb morphology, Qulmian noun morphology is highly fusional and only partially concatenative. Qulmian nouns are mostly formed by placing verb roots into nominalization patterns. Different patterns indicate different meanings, and each verb form has its own set of patterns.

Structure of a noun

A Qulmian noun has the following fixed structure:

1. Prefix indicating class and (in some cases) definiteness. This prefix takes the form of a single short vowel.

Class: There are two separately functioning sets of noun classes.

  • Gender: Nouns can be either masculine or feminine. Often, gender acts as a way to create a subtle variation on a word, differentiating pairs of otherwise identical words describing similar or related concepts.
  • Weight: Nouns can be either “light” or “heavy”. Places and people are usually heavy nouns, while other nouns are light, but this is not a hard rule and many exceptions exist.
Light Heavy
Masculine u– o–
Feminine i– a–

Definiteness: Light masculine nouns only receive the prefix if they are definite. If not, the prefix is dropped entirely: compare umísipa 'the day', mispa 'a day'.

In everyday speech, the indefinite forms are always used, and no distinction is made between definite and indefinite nouns. The definite forms are reserved for more formal situations and are also used in some (mostly older) written literature.

2. Verb root placed into a nominalization pattern. Each verb form has its own set of patterns. Some patterns may only form light nouns, some only form heavy nouns, and some change their meaning depending on the weight of the noun.

The patterns change slightly depending on the definiteness of the noun. One vowel is always lengthened, causing some monophthongization. Epenthetic vowels are added in some cases to avoid two consecutive consonants after a long vowel.

Indefinite Definite Meaning
Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4 Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4 Light Heavy
XoXX XaiXoX XtoXX XtaXoX XóXyX XáXoX XtóXyX XtáXoX The act of <verb>ing
XaXX XoXaX XtaXX XtoXaX XáXiX XóXaX XtáXiX XtóXaX Something that <verb>s A person who <verb>s
XuXX XuXoX XtuXX XtuXoX XúXyX XúXoX XtúXyX XtúXoX The act of being <verb>ed
XiXX XoiXoX XtiXX XtoXaX XíXiX XóXoX XtíXiX XtóXaX Something that is <verb>ed A person who is <verb>ed
nXaXX, nXiXX XoXnaX, XuXnoX naXtaXX, naXtiXX XatoXnaX, XatiXnaX nXáXiX, nXíXiX XóXynaX, XúXynoX naXtáXiX, naXtíXiX XatóXynaX, XatíXinaX A place where the act of <verb>ing is done
XoXnaX, XuXnoX XatoXnaX, XatiXnaX XóXynaX, XúXynoX XatóXynaX, XatíXinaX A place where the act of <verb>ing is done (forms 2, 4 only)

3. Case ending, usually consisting of a single short vowel. See Cases below.

4. Plural suffix: –m for masculine nouns, –q for feminine nouns.

Cases

While most languages use a system of cases with more or less fixed meanings and roles, Qulmian uses a system of five “numbered cases”, where the role of each case is determined by the verb in the sentence. In other words, each verb can be described as having its own set of multiple “parameters”.

A sixth case, called “case T”, exists and functions alongside the numbered cases. This case is the only one with an inherent meaning, and is usually equivalent to the inessive or temporal cases. It is used mostly for adverbials.

Case Ending
1 –a
2 –i
3 –o
4 –y
5 –u
T –it
  • Note: in plural nouns in case T, the ending –it fuses with the plural suffix: –imp for masculine nouns, –iqs for feminine ones.

In most verbs with only two parameters, case 1 is the nominative case and case 2 is the accusative case. The verb monqa (to hold) is an example of this:

ca amnyq malni
1s-1 hold.1s.PRES pen-2
“I am holding a pen.”

Some verbs with more parameters may differ. For example, the verb homla (to give) defines case 2 as the dative (the person to whom the object is given), and case 3 as the accusative (the object that is given):

ca ahmil di malno
1s-1 give.1s.FUT 2s-2 pen-3
“I will give you a pen.”

The citation form of a noun is its case 1 form.

Secondary case endings

In rare cases the case ending may take on a completely different form. This is usually found in nouns where a phonological process causes the ending to become long (see T‘ín imilna below). Some words always decline this way, such as “whether”.

Case Secondary ending
1 –á
2 –ai
3 –ó
4 –oy
5 –ú
T –ait
T
+ masculine plural
–amp
T
+ feminine plural
–aqs

Adjectives

Qulmian adjectives are derived from nouns by removing their case ending. They precede nouns and do not agree with them in either number or gender. (An exception to this is in vocatives, where adjectives may either precede or follow nouns.)

Adverbs

Adverbs can be derived in different ways, varying in degrees of formality.

Formal: The formal way of deriving an adverb is placing the word anhastit after an adjective. The word literally means “in a ___ way/manner”. Example: mosaq anhastit “badly”, literally “in a bad way”.

Neutral: In less formal situations, adverbs are usually derived from the nominalization of the corresponding stative verb. Example: the stative verb maisoqa, referring to the state of being bad, has the adverb form maisoqit, meaning “badly” (or literally “in badness”).

Informal: The least formal way to derive an adverb is similar to the most formal one, but instead of the additional word anhastit, the adjective receives the suffix –has. Example: mosaqhas “badly”.

T‘ín imilna

The consonant-based nature of Qulmian morphology occasionally leads to problems when the second and third radicals of a root are the same. This grammatical feature is known as the double-radical rule, or t‘ín imilna.

One purpose of this rule is to avoid word-final geminates. When the last two radicals form a word-final geminate consonant, they merge into a single non-geminate consonant. As a result, a “degemination compromise” occurs: the vowel preceding the degeminated consonant is lengthened.

The feature’s name itself demonstrates this: the noun t‘inna refers to “something that is doubled”. When acting as an adjective, the case vowel is removed, which would give *t‘inn. Applying the rule gives the correct form t‘ín.

A similar form of this rule also serves to avoid geminates following long vowels. In nouns containing double radicals, such as icotta “darkness”, definiteness works differently. According to the rules of noun derivation, its definite counterpart should be *icótyta, where an epenthetic /ɯ/ separates the two consonants, seemingly rendering the double-radical rule irrelevant. The reason for applying it is historical: the epenthetic vowel separating the consonants is a relatively recent development in the language. Before its appearance, the definite counterpart of icotta would have been *icótta, which requires applying the double-radical rule.

Definite nouns are formed by lengthening one vowel in the word – generally the one immediately following the first radical: icotta → *icótta. As with adjectives, the two consonants are merged: *icótta → *icóta. This is where the degemination compromise takes place. In this case, the following vowel becomes long instead of the preceding one. However, the following vowel also happens to be the case marking. A case marking does not simply become long; instead, it mutates into a secondary case ending:

Case Indefinite noun
Short ending
Definite noun
Long ending
1 icotta icótá
2 icotti icótai
3 icotto icótó
4 icotty icótoy
5 icottu icótú
T
(singular)
icottit [ɪʃɒtːɪə̯t̚] icótait [ɪʃɒːtæɪə̯t̚]
T
(plural)
icottiqs icótaqs

Syntax

Word order

As explained earlier in the Cases section, Qulmian cases do not have truly fixed meanings. Prepositions are almost nonexistent, and as a result, word order is highly flexible and can be used to emphasize certain words in a sentence. For example, the sentences

  • Apahna mpuloni milni (Apahna-1 read.3sf.PRES book-2)
  • Apahna milni mpuloni (Apahna-1 book-2 read.3sf.PRES)
  • Milni Apahna mpuloni (book-2 Apahna-1 read.3sf.PRES)
  • Milni mpuloni Apahna (book-2 read.3sf.PRES Apahna-1)
  • Mpuloni milni Apahna (read.3sf.PRES book-2 Apahna-1)
  • Mpuloni Apahna milni (read.3sf.PRES Apahna-1 book-2)

all have the exact same meaning: “Apahna is reading a book”, only with slightly different emphasis. Some orders are more common than others – the most common order is the one shown in the first example, used when no certain word is to be given special attention.

Negation

The negative form of a verb is expressed by inserting the word so “no” before it.

Additional words expressing negation, such as soqtaqt “never” follow the verb, and may come in addition to or instead of the word “so”. A double negative usually emphasizes the negative.

Example:

- A: So mpolin qody milni. “I haven't read that book.” (no read.1s.PAST that book-2)

- B: Da milnim so mpulon soqtaqt! “You never read books at all!” (you-1 book-2-PL no read.2s.PRES never)

The negated word does not have to be a verb. Nouns can be negated in the same way:

  • So umísipi colib adnyqu yn icítai. “It is not the day that we must respect, but the night.” (no day.DEF-2 must respect.1p.PRES but night.DEF-2)

Questions

Under construction

Possessive constructions

Qulmian does not directly mark the genitive case. Instead, possession is implied through syntax: the possessor is placed directly after the possessed object, without any linking morphemes that explicitly indicate a connection.

The object of possession can be definite when the speaker and the receiver both have a certain object in mind.

ca ahmil di umálino co
1s-1 give.1s.FUT 2s-2 pen.DEF-3 1s-3
“I will give you my pen.”
(assuming the speaker refers to a certain pen)

When the receiver does not know what object is being referred to, the indefinite form is always used. (Compare “a friend of mine” vs. “my friend”.) As with all nouns, the indefinite form is used in both cases in less formal speech.

ca ahmil di malno co
1s-1 give.1s.FUT 2s-2 pen-3 1s-3
“I will give you one of my pens.”

Noun phrases

Subordinate clauses

Adjective (relative) clauses
Noun clauses
Noun clauses as parameters

Aspect and mood

Sentential nouns

Most Qulmian nouns are derived from verbs placed into a pattern, but nouns can be derived from entire sentences as well. These kinds of nouns are not as common as ones derived directly from verbs.

In an ordinary sentence, there are very few hard rules regarding word order. The verb can be placed anywhere in the sentence and the order of arguments changes only the emphasis within it, not its grammatical correctness. However, when deriving nouns from sentences, a few restrictions are imposed:

  • The verb must come at the end, after all the necessary arguments are introduced.
  • The verb must always be in the second-person singular present form.
  • In Conjugation I verbs, the initial a- is dropped.

Thus, a sentential noun has the following structure:

Marking for gender, weight and definiteness
a, o, i, u, Ø
Arguments in free order, always keeping case marking Verb in one of four forms:
XXoX, XiXoX, XtuXoX, XitiXoX
Case and number markings
a, o, i, y, u, it
am, om, im, ym, um, imp
aq, oq, iq, yq, uq, iqs