Roots & Phoneme Grammar

All words contain one or more rootwords. A rootword with an active sense has the form [consonant + vowel], and with a passive sense has the form [consonant + nasalized vowel]. In practice, a passive rootword becomes [consonant + vowel + N], where N is one of [m n ŋ].

Each consonant and vowel has a phonaesthemic, biophysical or poetic connotation (see below), and in rootwords they combine to give a meaning which is either verbal (an action) or nominal (a thing), depending on the context.

For example [ma] means “cares for”, or “one who cares for, mother”, using connotations of [m] “intimacy” and [a] “acceptance”. The passive version is [maN] meaning “is cared for”, or “one who is cared for, child”. The primary meaning for a rootword must be carefully chosen, in order for it to be useful in word-building, as a fundamental unit of our cognitive world. A passive version will exist for all cv roots, receiving the result or influence of a cv action/agent, even if only in the sense of “made to be something by a more active entity”.

Use of phoneme types

Each phoneme type has a role in the grammar. For example affricates are reserved for phrase tags, ejectives are reserved for verbal person-marking, and various other vowel-less consonants are used in particular ways. Again, there is connotational background to the choice and use of these elements. One outcome of this approach is that there is no ambiguity about where words begin and end in the speech flow.

Repetition infix

After plosives and some other consonants may be inserted a flap [ɾ] which adds connotations of repetition or duplication to the main cv meaning.

 

Functions


Words

Combining rootwords

A word in the general sense is defined as a compoundWord, containing one or more rootwords. Their combinational sequence engenders a meaning, and between each root may be put a linkPhoneme to show the accumulating relationship in more detail:
nothing which is, acting like
[θ] and also, and then, so, to
[ʃ] involving, using, by
[f] part of, from, away
[s] in quantity of (for counted entities)
Note there are some rootwords which may be shortened (effectively forming diphthongs):
[ji] [i] small
[ja] [a] after unrounded vowels greater
[wa] [a] after rounded vowels large
[wu] [u] enter

An example can be seen in the language name [səɡai] “small actors”.

Prefixes

Before a compoundWord may be put a class prefix. This is an option to help establish a semantic distinction for the particular combination of rootwords:
[bə] female
[ɡə] male
[də] tree, star, divine (compare the Sumerian determinative d)
[pə] place
[pr̩] time

Suffixes

At the end of a sequence of rootwords and interspersed linkPhonemes is an optional suffix, giving an extra dimension of meaning to the word:
[f] mobile, travel, swift
[fs] instantaneous, sudden; superlative
[fʃ] mixed, various, interactive, thoroughly
[s] abstract
[x] physical, inanimate, gross
[θ] color; sequence, divided, repeating
[ʃ] vague, -like, -ish
Finally, a word may have an intensity, a measure of its substance or influence. The vowels used here are also used (with the same quinary associations) in phrase modifiers (see later):
[ʔu] 0 = not
[ʔi] 1 = only just, minimally
[ʔæ] 2 = some
[ʔa] 3 = very, fully, all
[ʔo] 4 = overly, too

Plural

Coming first in a word is the pluralizer (if necessary). It is simply [sə], and similar to the use of final s in English, it applies to the entire built-up word. In some cases, a plural may take a slightly different meaning to its singular version.

 

SUMMARY
 word  =  (pluralizer) + (classPrefix) + root + (linkPhoneme + (…) + root) + (suffix) + (intensity)


Phrases

Verbs and their marking

Verbs are words whose action is primary to the phrase or sentence. They usually come at the end of a phrase. To show they have prime importance (as verbs) they have a person tag-suffix. This refers to the agent and patient roles filled by words (and maybe phrases) mentioned before the verb. There are four person tags, being ejectives:
[qʼ] I, me
[pʼ] you
[tʼ] they, other
[ʧ’] something, Fate

There may be two tags after a verb. The first tag points to the agent of the verb, the second to the patient. A single tag assumes patient is “other” (unwritten [tʼ]). In practice only [pʼqʼ] and [tʼqʼ] double tags are used — so “I” am forced to be passive (humble) towards “you”, by virtue of the more natural pronunciation. There are also many more pronominal possibilities for [qʼ] and [pʼ] than most languages account for.

A phrase may be meaningful with only a verb. If verb personage is obvious from the context, and if there is a phrase modifier (see below), the person tag(s) may be omitted.

Role tags

A word taking part in a verbal phrase (or even an entire phrase taking a role in a larger sentence) will have a tag-suffix to show whether it is the agent or patient of the verb:
[tʰ] agent, instigator of verbal action
[kʰ] patient, recipient of verbal action
[ktʰ] both agent & patient, action upon self

Phrase modifiers

Phrase modifiers come at the end of a phrase or sentence, and are formed very much like rootwords, their cv syllable having a phonaesthemic consonant but followed by a toned magnitude vowel. They act as clarifying or editorial comments on the statement. There are four kinds, and they may be used in sequence. If there is only one phraseMod, it closes the entire statement with a falling tone. A sequence of phraseMods will form a tonal contour: rise (high (high)) fall.

0 not
-u
1 minimally
-i
2 somewhat
3 fully
-a
4 overly
-o
Deictic
ŋ
p
s

ʃ
hl
current
final, won’t
simultaneous
never
at
separate
just now
about to
momentary
once, rarely
near
passing
earlier
will, later
timespan
sometimes
apart
touching
old, completed
eventual
long time
often, always
far
attached
mythical
late
static, forever
too often
out of range
the same
Informational
n
v
w
unknown
untrue
denial
vague
hypothetical
doubting
rumored
potential
curious
certain
real
question
inevitable
fantastic
interrogation
Palimpsest
d
t
θ
comic
familiar
useless
trivial
variation
poor
noteworthy
novelty
usable
serious
surprise
ideal
urgent
shock
spoilt
Attitudinal
f
b
m
ʒ
threat
ironic
indifferent
rejection
must
obtuse
formal
disappointed
should
polite
common
ambivalent
request
straight
inviting
pleased
allow
harsh
private
desirous

For example, [fekʰmat’wæF] “wondering if they are looking after the bird”; and [fekʰmat’buF] “it looks after the bird (perhaps by eating it)”.

Phrase modifiers are optional. Or they may contain enough relevant information that they stand alone, without any verbal content beforehand.

 

SUMMARY
 phrase  =  word + roleTag + (word + roleTag) + verb + personTag + (phraseMod)
    |   verb + personTag + (phraseMod)
    |   phraseMod


Complex Sentences

Among other things, phrases may be linked and grouped to create complex sentences.


Further Details

The mechanics outlined above are really enough for a language. But in practice, there are many details of verbal expression — using the available elements — which do not become obvious without a little more exploration.

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Connotations of Phonemes in Rootwords

CONSONANTS
Voiced effort, intention, man-made, ambience of (sonic) support and density, strength, vitality, forceful, active, engine (drive)
Voiceless effortless, unintentional, natural (as against man-made), weak, airy, lightweight, whisper, secret, back­ground, passive
Continuants music, (living) air, lasting, continuous, consistent, extens­ible, reliable, a period, gradual
Semivowels [see Vowels below]
Liquids wandering, pathways, (smoothly) shifting, curving, nearly (touching), posing, the tongue, speech
Fricatives noise, wind, impurity, restriction, friction, rough­ness, hairiness, flow, swirl, hiss, vibration, dragging, stimulation, extending, gradual, on the move
Nasals closing, firmness, certainty, diverting, behind, private, smooth, smell
Discontinuants contact, solidity, earth, physicality, various degrees of hard­ness, an edge (sudden change in contour), encounter, temporary, reticent
Plosives (violent) encounter, banging, knocking, flicking, bursting, explosion, ejecting, suddenness, surprise, heat, potent, ready
Flap flick, quick appearance of solidity, divider, trigger, bounce
LOCATION:
Front front, forward, advancing, outer, light, shallow, exposed, unfinished
Rear back, behind, retreating, inner, private, dark, deep, inevitable, heavy
Labial external identity, front door, exit or entrance, seal, holding in, soft clamp, intimate, tactile, (my) mouth, speech, signaling, (no taste)
Dental practical, hard, sharp, edge, inner gate, accepting or barring, row of shields, delight or aggression (simple but extreme expression), biting, separating, crushing, grip, firm, strength, reinforced (by jawbone)
Alveolar antechamber, inner threshold, just hidden, just inside or arrived, squashing, high-pitched, signal
Retroflex/Rhotic middle, soft peak, pulled back, raised, exploring deeper, under cover, turning, chewing over, thoughtful
Lateral [see Liquids above]
Front velar front, high, firm, thick, confident, from within, caught, savouring, straightforward (not fancy), interior minister
Back velar back door, inner limit, no escape, full retreat, about to consume, crushed, covert, cameral, dim, discreet, inevitable, about to descend, gagging, primal speech
Glottal consumed, within, (to) the depths, inner, bodily, breath, honest, reflex, prior, beginning, source, beyond, invisible, satiation, meal, end
VOWELS
Open vowels loose, large, open, accepting, welcoming, ready to act or devour
Close vowels pressure, confinement, small, fine
Rounding intimate, tactile, (my) mouth, speech, pointing, “this”/“that”, near, exterior, outward, obvious, away from, closing, rounding, controlled opening, curious
Non-rounding broad, grin, taut, pulled sideways, flat, sliding in or out, satisfaction
Front front, forward, advancing, outer, light, shallow, exposed, unfinished
Rear back, behind, retreating, inner, private, dark, deep, inevitable, heavy

Connotations © Ian James 2006‒2014