Amal

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Introduction

Amal is meant to be a personal (or artistic) conlang and despite appearances and structure is not intended as an IAL. Amal is phonologically inspired by Semitic languages but incorporates aspects and lemma of numerous natural languages, in an effort to be euphonious and easy to use/learn.

Amal is an agglutinative language. Its vocabulary consists of basic roots which can be extended into different parts of speech, their meaning changed or modified, with various suffixes. Most of the suffixes are optional, so that there is a choice of what sort of information to convey with a given word.

  • shab - related to knowledge and awareness
shabra - v - to know; to be aware (of)
shabedek - v - to teach; instruct (to cause to know)
ashab - n - knowledge; awareness
shabda - n - library; school

Phonology

consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labiovelar Glottal
Plosives p   b t   d k   g ʔ (q)
Nasals m n
Fricatives s ʃ (sh)
Approximants l j (y) w h
Trill r

Note: The glottal stop /ʔ/ q, is used as a "buffer" to keep vowels apart when adding suffixes.

vowels
Front Central Back
Close i~ɪ u~ʊ
Mid e~ɛ o
Open a~ə

The vowels can be marked with an acute accent — á, é, í, ó, ú — for two purposes: to mark stress if it does not follow the most common pattern, or to differentiate words that are otherwise spelled identically.

  • ai - /a͡ɪ/ (this is the only diphthong in Amal)
  • o - /o/ is rare

Phonotactics

The only syllable pattern allowed is CVC (where V includes long vowels and diphthongs), however, the q /ʔ/ is dropped unless buffering between non-diphthongized vowels. This means that the de facto syllable structure is (C)V(C) .

Initial consonant clusters are prohibited, and the final consonant, if any, cannot be p, g, q, w, or y. Syllables cannot begin with wu or wo.

Clusters do occur medially, but are most often separated by /ɛ/.

All syllables should be emphatically pronounced, with a slight stress on the first syllable of a word (but on the second, if the word begins with a vowel).

Nouns

Forming nouns from roots follows a sort of vowel harmony.

$$$

Number

Amal nouns can be singular, dual, or plural.

  • kop-a - dog >> kop-ik - (two) dogs >> kop-im - dogs
  • na- - collection of things
    • heti (tree) >> nahet (forest)
    • kopa (dog) >> nakopa (dog pack)

Mass nouns include liquids, powders, and substances, such as ura (water), ugum (sand), and heti (wood). They do not normally require determiners or the plural. However, one may add these to indicate specific examples or different types:

  • buqura — this water (e.g. in the cup)
  • hetim — woods (e.g. various kinds)

Gender

Amal does not have grammatical gender. However, where desired, masculine individuals may be distinguished by the suffix -ul, and feminine ones by -en.

  • dashin - "sibling" >> dashul - "brother" >> dashen "sister"

Case

The basic form of each noun, and the one cited in dictionaries, is the nominative singular. All the other forms can be derived from it. Most nouns are formed from a basic root along with one of several nominalizer affixes.

  • The accusative case (-wa / -u) marks the direct object of a verb. When marked as accusative, nouns will often drop the nominalizer affix.
  • The genitive case (-ya / -ai) is used to show possession and is placed immediately after the first member of a genitive construction.
  • The dative (bi-) for the beneficiary of an action, indirect object, or motion towards. Unlike other case endings, it has morphed to being a prefix and has only one form, used in all instances. The exception to this is the form used with pronouns, ib-.
  • The locative case (-da) indicates the place or time at which something happens. Its meaning can be translated by the English prepositions 'to', 'at', 'on', 'in' etc.
  • The ablative case (-sha) carries the meaning "from, off of" and shows separation away from an object. It is also used in comparisons and in this case translates as "than".
  • The instrumental/comitative case (-ha / -ak) denotes accompaniment. It is translated as "with", "together with", "by", "with" or "through". An important use of the instrumental is as an adverbial, since Amal lacks a morphological adverb.
Grammatical Cases
Name Suffix Example English Gloss
Nominative - eqesh the house (subject)
Accusative -wa / -u eshwa the house (object)
Dative bi- biqesh for, to, on behalf of the house
Ablative -sha essha from the house
Genitive -ya / -ai eshai of the house
Locative -da eshda at, in, on the house
Instrumental/Comitative -ha / -ak eshak using/with the house

Pronouns

Pronouns in Amal are marked for number, person, and case. There are three persons. The stand-alone personal pronouns are not used widely as the person is evident from the personal verb ending. They are used for emphasis only in their simple form as the verb form itself already points to the person. This is similar to Spanish where a person will say comprendo - "I understand" instead of Yo comprendo - "I understand".

suffix independant English
1s -an ana I
2s -ti / -e ti you; thou
3s -u / -il il she; he; it
1pl -uk nuk we
2pl -ut / -í tum you (all)
3pl -um hum they

case

nominative accusative genitive dative comitative
1s -an eyan nai iban anak
2s -ti / -e eti / eye tai ibti akti
3s -u / -il eyu lai ilib * ilak
1p -uk eyuk kai ibuk ukha
2p -ut / eyut ai ibut utak
3p -um eyum mai imbu * umak
  • imbu and ilib are results of metathesis, a common occurrence in Amal.

direct object incorporation

Direct object pronouns are incorporated to the verb inflection. So, instead of eya aryeshan (I saw her), aryeshani is grammatical. The DO pronouns are not used when the object is specified. So, instead of kawalu aryeshanu (I saw (it) the horse), kawalu aryeshan is grammatical.

verb tense / aspect / mood subject object
ary -esh -an -u
see simple past 1sg 3sg.FEM
I saw her.

pronominal suffixes

These are suffixes that cannot stand alone but are attached to the end of a verb, used to identify subject and object.

S/O none me you him/her/it us you (pl) them
I -an - -anti -anu -anuk * -anut -anum
you -ti / -e -eyan - -eyu -eyuk -eyut * -eyum
he/she/it -u / -il -ilan -ile / -uti -ilu -iluk -ilut -ilum
we -uk - -ukti -uku - -ukut -ukum
you (pl) -ut / -utan - -utu -utuk - -utum
they -um -uman -umti -umu -umuk -umut -

If no subject suffix is given anywhere in the sentence, third person can be assumed.

Determiners

There are a limited number of deictics and quantifiers:

  • bu- / be- - this (these)
  • shu- / she- - that (those)
  • daha - more
  • hiwa - less; fewer
  • irha - every; each
  • iyin - same
  • kesh - few; a little
  • mu- – other; another
  • ne - none
  • shok - many; much
  • tum - all
  • we- – some; any


Unlike most modifiers, these appear before the noun: bumul (this man); irha tashida (at each city).

There are not, strictly speaking, any indefinite pronouns; but there are indefinite expressions, built from the above modifiers plus words like na (thing), eqin (person), eren (hour), guna (day). Expressions like irha eqin (every person) may be taken as equivalent to “everyone, everybody”. Time expressions are no exception: ‘now’ corresponds to expressions like bara (this time); or beren (this hour); irha guna (every day; always); wera (sometimes) etc. Choose the time period according to the meaning: you may swat flies away “every minute”, but kingdoms rise and fall “every age”.

Prepositions

Amal lacks a morphological preposition. To express locative concepts in Amal one mostly make use of one of the following case suffixes:

  • -da - locative (in, at, on)
  • kayan eshda nai
COP-1s house-LOC 1s.GEN
I'm in my house. / I'm at home.
  • -sha - ablative (from, away from)
  • halum essha mai
walk-3pl house-ABL 3pl.GEN
They're going away from their home.


Amal uses nouns to express more complex spatial relationships (these words are adverbs in English) this means that for example the word tumda should be interpreted as something like the everwhere place or all places. And a phase like tumda aryanti (meaning I see you everywhere) is literally I see you in all places. Likewise aryanti uyushda nai (meaning I see you to my left) is literally I see you in my left area.

Conjunctions

Coordinate clauses can be formed with a number of conjunctions, which describe the relationship between the clauses:

  • ta - also; and
  • íla - but; however
  • ye - or; either; whichever
  • yela - neither; nor
  • hata - so that; in order to/that
  • hema - both
  • ki - if; whether
  • pa - then; consequently; so
  • shun - reason; cause; because

The first four of the above conjunctions can also be used to connect noun phrases or modifiers.

Adjectives

Amal does not have adjectives as a distinct part of speech. Instead, many intransitive verbs can be used as adjectives, in which case they follow the noun they modify.

  • dishkata yasha
/dɪʃkata jaʃa/
coat be.wet-3s
The coat is wet. [The wet coat.]
  • pila kita
/pila kita/
elephant be.old-3s
The elephant is old. [The old elephant.]


A few adjectivizing suffixes:

  • -eshb(a) - past participle (e.g. biseshba ‘trusted’)
  • -ya / -ai - genitive (kawalya ‘horse’s)
  • -iy(a) - adjectivization (dishiya ‘foreign’)
  • -da - locative (bagada ‘in the garden’)
  • -ha / -ak - possessing; instrumental (kawalha ‘having/using a horse’)
  • -úl - without (eshúl ‘without a house’, ‘homeless’) [abessive]
  • ne- - negative (nebiseshba ‘untrustworthy’)

The causative -ed can be applied to attributive verbs: niwed ‘whiten’, sared ‘quicken’.

Adjectives normally follow the noun.

Numbers

Cardinal

Amal number English Amal number English Amal number English
nul 0 zero sha 6 six kishada 500 five hundred
wa 1 one seb 7 seven hesha 103 (one) thousand
ni 2 two eta
(sometimes pu)
8 eight dahesh 104 ten thousand
ush 3 three nen 9 nine sadesh 105 (one) hundred thousand
ha 4 four da 10 ten uhun 106 (one) million
kish 5 five sada 100 (one) hundred ulun 109 (one) billion

Forming Larger Numbers

  • dawa - eleven / 11
  • nida - twenty / 20
  • sadaseb - one hundred seven / 107
  • ushadanidasha - three hundred twenty six / 326
  • shaheshnidaha - six thousand and twenty four / 6024

Other Number Forms

Amal number English ordinal multiple fractional
wa 1 one émwa
first
gáwa
once
-
dani 12 twelve émdani
twelfth
gádani
twelve times
daniya
a twelfth
kishdaha 54 fifty four émkishdaha
fifty fourth
gákishdaha
54 times
kishdahaya
a fifty fourth
sadasha 106 one hundred (and) six émsadasha
106th
gásadasha
106 times
sadashaya
a 106th
sebhesh 7000 seven thousand émsebhesh
seven thousandth
gásebhesh
7000 times
sebheshai
1/7000

Questions

There are a number of interrogative words that are used to introduce questions:

  • ma - what; which
  • man - who; whom
  • manai - whose; of whom
  • mara - when
  • mada - where
  • mawa - how
  • mabak - how much/many
  • shum(a) - why


  • mara yemuruk? - when eat-TENT-1pl - When might we eat?
  • shum kaye buda? - why be-2s here - Why are you here?

Any statement can become a polar question by adding the interrogative suffix -em to the verb construction.

  • yashemu? - be.wet-INT-3s - Is it wet?
  • shabemumti? - know-INT-3pl-2s - Do they know you?

Verbal Morphology

The verbal inflection of Amal is quite simple. There are only two tenses, non-past, and past (past tense could also be analyzed as the perfective aspect), each marked for person and number. There is a remote tense, rarely used other than for historical narratives, or occasional emphasis. There are three aspects (inceptive, repetitive, and durative) and various moods that are also marked on the verb (usually between the verb root and the person).

tense

  • The past tense morpheme, -esh always precedes the subject (or subject-object construction).
  • aryemeshilan?
/aɾʲemɛʃɪlan/
see-INT-PST-3s-1s
Did she see me?
  • The remote tense -id is normally used within a past narrative to refer to events from an even earlier time. By extension, the remote may be used to emphasize that something is already done.
  • geleshan íla mashide
come-PST-1s but go-REM-2s
I came, but you had already gone.

other verb modifiers

  • The self (reflexive) suffix -eg should be used whenever the subject and object are the same.
  • shabegumla - know-REFL-3pl-NEG - They don't know themselves.

Passive

  • The usual way of negating a sentence is to negate the verb using the -la suffix. With the second and third person pronouns, the negative word ne is used.
  • yemuranla - eat-TENT-1s-NEG - I might not eat.
  • ne hala - no go-3s - She is not going.

Tentative

The Tentative mood (sometimes called suggestive, future, probable future, or presumptive) is used when an action is not quite definite.

Syntax

Sentences generally take the form: (subject(s)) (object(s)) verb, so something like:

subject object verb
kop-a ur-wa ish-a
dog.NOM water.ACC drink-3sg
(The) dog (the) water is drinking.
subject direct object indirect object verb
edesh gomb-u bi-kopa shamk-esh-a
boy ball.ACC DAT-dog throw-PST-3sg
The boy threw the ball to the dog.
NOTE: shamkek means to throw towards a precise point

Conlang