Béu : Chapter 2 : The Noun

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..... The 5 basic word types


All words are derived from these 5 basic types. Actually the fengi "particle" have so many subtypes (often single particles are a subtype to themselves) that it is a bit of a fudge to say that béu has 5 basic types. Maybe more honest to say that béu has 4 groups of words and the behaviour (syntactically) of any word in these 4 groups depends on which group it is in.


1) fengi = particle ... this is a sort of "hold-all" category for all words (and affixes) that don't neatly fit into the other categories. Interjections, numbers, pronouns, conjunctions, determiners and certain words that would be classed as adverbs in English, are all classed as fengi.

By the way ... all affixes are counter as a type of fengi.

An example is Í .. the preposition indicating the dative.


2) senko = an object

An example is bàu ... "a man"


3) olus = material, stuff

An example is moze ... "water"


4) saidau = adjective

An example is nelau ... "dark blue"


5) manga = a noun ... its usage is similar to the infinitive in English ... I call it "a verb base" as finite verbs are derived from this form.

An example is twá ... "to meet" or "a meeting" (the concept of "meet" disassociated from any arguments, tense, aspect or whatever).


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..... Senko


senko is a noun phrase (NP) ... if only one element it is simply a noun of course.

Probably the most "basic" of the basic 5 ... tangible and discrete.

All the elements in it can be thought of fitting into 9 slots.

Below these slots are shown ...


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Slot 1 and 2 have two values. Slot 4 is restricted to 173110 values and slot 9 to six.

The words highlighted in red convert the noun phrase (or indeed the sentence in which the NP is embedded) into a question. A blue circle indicates the only mandatory element. Branching arrows indicate multiple possibilities.


... The head


Nothing to say here.


... The adjective


5) ... the adjective

More than one adjective is allowed. For example ... bàu gèu tiji = the little green man

kái "what type" can appear in this slot. In which case it turns the whole noun phrase (or sentence) into a question. For example ...

bàu gèu kái = what kind of green man ? ... (NP question)

há bàu gèu kái glà timpori = what kind of green man hit the woman ? ... (sentence question)

Numbers can go in this slot also. When in this slot they are ordinal numbers. This is opposed to where the number comes before the head, in which case it is a cardinal number. For example ...

há bàu hói glà timpori = The second man hit the woman (there is a near zero % chance that this construction will cause ambiguity if the two arguments were indefinite)

bàu hói glà timp-o-r-i
ERG man second woman hit-3SG-IND-PAST


há hói bàu glà timpori = The two men hit the woman

hói bàu glà timp-o-r-i
ERG two men woman hit-3SG-IND-PAST


Now when you have multiple adjectives they will have a certain order depending upon their sub-category.

This is the same as English ... for example, you always say "the third big black dog" and never "the black third big dog".

béu uses the exact same order as in English but reversed timewise. For example ...

waudo àu jutu léu
dog black big third


Or, you can say, béu has exactly the same order as English, in terms of proximity to the head.


... The locative


6) ... the locative. For example ... bàu gèu tiji pobomau = the little green man on top of the mountain

A locative comprises of a noun plus one of the nine affixes .... pi la mau goi ce dua bene komo ?e

The locative is a type of adjective.

Also a noun plus the affix fi can appear in this slot. This is not giving information about "location" but rather "origin". It is classed as a locative nevertheless.

Only pilamo locatives allowed in the locative slot.

duzu pobomau = The oryx on the mountain

If the location consists of more than one word, the usual rule applies and the pilamo appears as a preposition ...

duzu máu pobo jutu = The oryx on the big mountain

There is a tendance that the longer the locative phrase, the more likely the location will be shunted into a relative clause ...

duzu nài r máu pobo hau?e jutu = The oryx on the big beautiful mountain

All prepositions that are not pilamo lead to the location being shunted into a relative clause. For example ...

polgamo nài r bain gwai.a = "the sailing boat which is among the islands" or simply "the sailing boat among the islands"

Also "where" can appear in this slot. In which case it turns the whole noun phrase (or sentence) into a question. For example ...

bàu gèu dá = where is the green man ?


... The genitive


7) ... the genitive. For example jwado gèu tia.mau yó jene = Jane's big green bird on top of the house

Note that the particle is usually dropped when the possessor is next to the head. However as other elements intervene, the likelihood that is used increases.

If mín (who) is used instead of jene in the above ... then we would have a question ...

jwado gèu tia.mau yó mín = Whose big green bird on top of the house ? = Whose's the big green bird on top of the house ?


... The determiner


8) ... the determiner

There are six determiners ... (this), (that), nái (which), (other), èn (some) and ín (any) . For example ...

bàu gèu tiji pobomau dé = that little green man on top of the mountain.

The primary meaning is for comparing two objects that can be seen. Perhaps accompanied by gestures, will be appended to the further of the two objects and by way of distinction, will be appended to the nearer one. Used very rarely compared to "this" and "that" in English.

nái turns the whole noun phrase (or sentence) into a question. For example ...

bàu gèu tiji nái = which little green man ? ... noun phrase question

bàu gèu tiji nái glà timpori = which little green man hit the woman ? ... sentence question

"other" appear in this slot ... bàu gèu tiji ló = "the other little green man" or "another little green man"

èn "some" appear in this slot ... bàu gèu tiji èn = "some little green man" ...... indefinite

ín "any" appear in this slot ... bàu gèu tiji ín = "any little green man" .............. super indefinite

(Note to self : Why was I going to change => eni)


Note ... di.an = "here" or "to here", dene = "there" or "to there" ... (not *dà dí and *dà dè)

One little rule ... if a genitive is present, or we have , nái, én or ín included, and can not be included also but dian "here" and den "there" can occur in the "locative" slot, and this means the same thing.

( and can represent direct speech. The appear in conjuction with one of the quotative verbs swé or aika. refers back to an utterance already spoken, to an utterance that is imminent (see Ch 3.7 ??? ) [ Note to self : this is out of date noe ]


... The numerative


3) ... the numerative

These are ...

"plural" ... ʔà "one" ... hói "two" ... léu "three" ... iyo "few" ... ega "four" oda "five" ..... hài "many" .... tautaita (172710) and ú "all"

If you have any word in this slot the head of the NP must be in its singular form.

Only one word is allowed in the numerative slot*.


láu (how many) can appear in this slot. In which case it turns the whole sentence into a question. For example ...

láu bàu (r) pobomau = How many men (are) on top of the mountain ? .... **

With a more complex NP it is usual to break it up in order to specify exactly which element is being questioned. For example ...

láu bàu gèu tiji pobomau nài doikura = " How many little green men on the mountain that are walking? " ... would be re-phrased as ...

wò bàu gèu tiji pobomau _ láu doikura = w.r.t. the little green man on top of the mountain, how many are walking ? ... or ...

wò bàu tiji pobomau nài doikura _ láu r gèu = w.r.t. the little man on top of the mountain who are walking, how many are green ?

Note ... in the 2 examples above, can be substituted for . However is more felicitous.


*So how do we translate "all four men" or "none of the men". Well in depends on the situation ... for example ... imagine a story when one man meets three men, after a discussion they decide to go somewhere together. In English, the first S or A argument after they join up would be "all four men" or just "all four". In béu you would use egan "the foursome".

In another situation "all four man" would be translated using the "partitive particle" làu. So ... "all four men" would be ega bàu làu ú.

In a similar way to three out of the four men would be ega bàu làu léu. [ Note ... short for ega bàu làu léu bàu so never ega bàu làu uban]

"none of the four men" => ega bàu làu jù


**Notice that in English and béu the copula can be dropped. In béu, when we drop the copula, what is left is analized as a NP as opposed to a clause.


... The relative clause


9) ... the relative clause (RC)

If the roll of the head of the NP in the RC is absolutive or represented by one of the pilamo, the pilamo is affixed to the relativizer (nài) and the noun can be dropped inside the RC.

If the roll of the head of the NP in the RC is not absolutive and not represented by one of the pilamo, the relativizer has no affix and the noun must be represented by a pronoun in the RC . This is the same way that Arabic structures its RC's.

Take, for example ... yiŋkai nài doikora

yiŋkai nài doik-o-r-a
the girl REL walk-3SG-IND-PRES
=> the girl who is walking

The clause that has been relativized is "the girl is walking" ... her roll is absolutive.


And for example ... bàu nàin glás fyori yiŋkaiwo

bàu nài-n glá-s fy-o-r-i yiŋkai-wo
the man REL-DAT women-ERG tell-3SG-IND-PAST girl-ABOUT
=> the man to whom the woman told about the girl

The clause that has been relativized is "the woman told about the girl to the man" ... his roll is dative, hence the dative affix on the relativizer.


And for example ... gwai.a nài polgura ala ʃì

gwai.a nài polg-u-r-a ala ʃì
the islands REL sail-1PL-IND-PRES between them
=> "the islands that we are sailing between"

The clause that has been relativized is "we are sailing between the islands" ... well I don't think there is a fancy name for it, but the islands' roll is defined by the preposition "between". "between" is not a pilamo hence no affix on nài and the pronoun in the RC (representing the islands).


This is discussed in detail nearer the end of this chapter (see the section headed nài).


..... Olus


This category is for uncountable things such as "water" moze.

olus also combines with other elements to form "OP" (olus phrase.

By the way ... "SP" (senko phrase), "OP" (olus phrase) and "MP" (manga phrase) are all types of NP.

There are two differences between an OP and a SP.

1) Nothing in the numerative slot

2) Usually a "partitive measure phrase" added as an additional slot.


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hói honkoi "two cups" ... is a typical "measure phrase" and làu is the "partitive particle".

So ... an example of a NP with olus as head ...

?azwo pona làu hói honko "two cups of warm milk"

Two extra adjectives are admitted into the adjective slot ... "a lot of" and iyo "a little" (Yes ... iyo was formerly in the numerative slot meaning "few")


A few hundred words have a dual existence ... in one guise olus in another guise senko. With final vowel can be e u a o or i (the last one is especially common) they have a collective meaning. For example ...

bodi ng-o-r
birds fly-3SG-IND
=>small birds fly ................. [notice the third person singular agreement on the verb]

However with a change of the final vowel to ai these concepts become countable.

bodai lail-o-r-a
a small bird sing-3SG-IND-PRES
=> a small bird is singing

Which can be made plural by putting a number in front (or one of the other numeratives).

léu bodai lail-u-r-a
three small bird sing-3PL-IND-PRES
=> three small birds are singing

Note .... the singular of some nouns also end in -ai. For example moltai "doctor". These words take a plural by adding an a ... moltai.a "doctors". However the nouns ending in -ai that have a collective equivalent, never mark plurality on the actual word. So "little birds" is nò bodai rather than *bodai.a.


yinki crumpet yinkai a young unmarried woman, an attractive girl, a virgin
toti children totai a child
wazbo distance wazbai 3,680 m (the unit of distance ... the béu km or mile)
malkufa cabbages malkufai a cabbage

.. TW 793.png


Words derived using the prefixes mi/mai also pattern with these dual identity words. For example ... beumai = "somebody who believes in béu : beumi = "the entire body of people who believes in béu.


Remember that all collectives take singular pronouns and, if they are A or S arguments, produce an -o- in slot 1 of the verb (as opposed to -u-).


There is a particle kài, that when put in front of a saidau or a senko makes an OP (olus phrase). You hear it a lot prefixed to animal names ... like when talking about characteristics which are common to an entire species. For example ...

sadu "elephant" ... kài sadu "the elephants" or "elephants" ... as in kài sadu r jodo jini "the elephant is an inteligent animal"

gèu "green" .......... kài gèu "the green ones"

kài sadu r jodo jini
elephant-kind COP animal clever

Note ... kài is in free variation with k+

** Birds smaller than pidgeons are bodi. Birds that are pidgeon size and above are jwadoi (the singular being jwado).


..... Saidau


The saidau (adjective) has two uses in béu. It can either be part of a NP or it can be a copular complement. For example ...

bàu gèu = a/the green man

bàu r gèu = a/the man is green

gèu above is a simple adjective. Adjective phrases exist as well.

An important particle that increases the degree of an adjective is sowe. For example ... gèu sowe "very green"


These adjectives can become nouns by froning them with ə, and kuwai.

ə gèu = a/the green one

kə gèu = a/the green ones

kuwai gèu = greenness

[ NOTE : I don't think the schwa is visually distinct enough. From now on I will use a plus sign to depict the schwa ]

+ gèu = a/the green one

k+ gèu = a/the green ones

kuwai gèu = greenness

OK ... that's better.

+ and k+ are historically derived from "one" and kài "type". Actually they are in free variation with their historical counterparts ... a bit like "either" in English can have two pronounciations. When you want to emphasize, you would of course use the phonetically heavier version.

kuwai is a word meaning property/characteristic.

Actually these 3 words are also productive with "locatives" and "genitives" as well. For example ...

+ pobomau = the one on top of the mountain

+ yó jene = the one belonging to Jane


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The above chart shows the main derivational pathways in béu. Only pathways 2, 3, 4 are relevent to this section.


Note ... + gèu sowe = "a/the very green one" ... sowe never modifies a senko.

By the way ... determiners and relative clauses can also stand by themselves, but they are unmodified when they do so. (Note to self : are you sure about this ?)


..... Specifying the roll of a noun


In total there are 17 cases plus the unmarked case (the absolutive case). The absolutive is not called a case in the béu linguistic tradition : instead it is called "noun base"

These 17 cases are called the pilamoi.

These are attached to a noun and show the relationship of that noun with respect to the rest of the sentence.


The word pilamo is built up from ;-

pila (v) = to place, to position, to correctly align

pilamo ( n) = the positioner


Probably the most important case is the ergative (the 11th case). In English it is the order of the verb and the arguments that shows who is the doer and what is the "done to". Namely the A and S argument come before the verb and the O argument after ... [ English is a non-ergative language and hence the A and S argument get treated in the same way.]

In béu, to show who is the doer and what is the "done to", the suffix -s is appended to the A argument. For example ...


glás bàu timporyə => The woman has hit the man ..... (with "the man" being the O argument)

glá bàus timporyə => The man has hit the woman ...... (with "the man" being the A argument)

bàu doikora => The man is walking ........................... (with "the man" being the S argument) ... [ béu is an ergative language and hence the O and S argument have the same form.]


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The pilamoi are either realized as either affixes or as prepositions.

Whether the pilamoi appears as an suffix or a preposition depends on whether you have a N (noun) or a NP (noun phrase). If you have N the affix is used, if you have NP the preposition is used.

tiadua = beyond the house

dùa tìa yó yinkai hauʔe = beyond the house of the pretty girl


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Note on the script ... If they are realized as affixes then, in the béu script uses a sort of shorthand. That is the affix is represented as one letter.


Earlier we have seen that when 2 nouns come together the second one qualifies the first.

However this is only true when the words have no pilamo affixed to them. If you have two contiguous nouns suffixed by the same pilamo then they are both considered to contribute equally to the sentence roll specified. For example ...

jonos jenes solbur moze = "John and Jane drink water"

In the absence of an affixed pilamo, to show that two nouns contribute equally to a sentence (instead of the second one qualifying the first) the particle should be placed between them. For example ...

jono lé jene maumur = "John and Jane sleep"

Compare the above two examples to jono jene maumor = "Jane's John sleeps" ... that is "the John that is in a relationship with Jane, sleeps".


.. As parts of speech


pilamoi of location phrases (i.e. nouns with 1 -> 8 or 15) can be considered adjectives. They must come after a noun or a verb.

pilamoi of motional phrases (i.e. nouns with 13, 14, 16 or 17) can be considered adverbs. They can come in any position because it is understood that they are qualifying the verb.

pilamo phrases defining sentence rolls (i.e. nouns with 9, 10, 11 or 12) can come anywhere. They are considered clause arguments.

(Note to self : move the below to a different section)

* [ Notice that in English, you can either say ... "a bird is in the tree" or "in the tree is a bird"

In béu only jwado r ʔupaiʔe is valid ... also note that in this case jwado is not definite because it is left of the verb. That rule doesn't work with the copula. ]

jenes solbori moʒi lé ʔazwo = "Jane drank water and milk"

jonos jenes mwuri hói sadu lé léu ʔusfa = John and Jane saw two elephants and three giraffes.

This word is that is never written out in full but has its own symbol. See below ...


..... Manga


These are verbal nouns or infinitives.

English is very chaotic as to the various means it derive nouns from verbs. For example ... "discover" + "y" => the discovery ... "destroy" + "tion" => the destruction ... "run" + ∅ => the run. béu is as orderly as it is possible to get ... the verbal noun is in fact the base form of the verb.

[ Note to self : I need to do a lot of translation excercises to get my head around hulka = destruction = to destroy = destroying ]

In this section I will usually translate a manga into its infinitive equivalent in English. For example ...

solbe => "to drink"

Now the manga can amalgamate with other elements. For example ...

solbe saco = "to drink quickly" or "drinking quickly"

...and adding more elements ...

solbe moze sacois = "to drink the water quickly" or "drinking the water quickly"

The S or O argument in an active clause ... in the corresponding MP, must immediately follows the manga. Also because saco no longer immediately follows the manga, it must be explicitly tagged as an adverb by the -is suffix.

... and adding even more elements ...

solbe moze sacois hí jono = "John drinking the water quickly" or "for John to drink the water quickly".

The A argument in an active clause, ... in the corresponding MP ... comes last and has the particle in front of it. (the particle is probably related to the egative particle )

Note ... other clausal elements ( dative object, time, adverb, instrument, reason, purpose) can be added ... in our example they would come between sacois and .

Now all elements from the active clause, that make it into a MP ... I refer to as "the manga heart".


This manga heart can in turn amalgamate with other elements. These elements are pretty much the same ones that you find in a SP. The important thing is that the head has been replaced with a heart (my terminology). As you can see the heart has its own structure (as seen in the red box, below) ...

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As you can see above, the manga heart can take a slightly different form. The adverb can be put immediately after the manga. In that position it looses the -is suffix.

The total amagamation ... I call a MP "manga phrase". (As opposed to a SP "senko phrase" or a OP "olus phrase" ... all 3 being sub-types of noun phrase "NP")

You can see that a MP is pretty much the same as a SP, but with the senko (the head) replaced with a manga heart.


In the example we are using sacois "quickly" can be taken out of the heart, and placed in the senko phrase as saco. In the adjective slot of course.

Also you have a choice as to where you can place any locative. A locative can be placed in the locative slot of the senko phrase, or they can be placed in the heart, just before . For example ...

solbe moze sacois tiapi hí jono = solbe moze sacois hí jono tiapi = "John drinking the water quickly in the house" = "for John to drink the water quickly in the house".


Now we have already introduced the pilamo. Theoretically all pilamo can be appended to a MP ... but most such constructions don't make much sense ... however - appends often. For example ...

tore doikatu = "he/she came on foot" or "he/she came by walking"

tore doikatu = "he/she came on foot" or "he/she came by walking"

tore tú doika saco = "he/she came by walking quickly"

This "-construction" acts as an adverb. Notice that the particle acts as it normally does and appends to the end of a single word, but stands alone to the left of a multi-word phrase.


Also appears often in conjunction with manga

The -constuction acts as an adjective. An adjective meaning "XXX-ing" at the (relevant ???) moment of speech". As with all adjectives it can either be part of a NP or it can be a copular complement. For example ...

bàu doikala = a/the walking man

bàu r doikala = a/the man is walking .... [Note ... bàu r doikala means exactly the same as bàu doikora]

differs from most other pilamo in that, with a manga, it never stands alone. For example ...

bàu doikala sacois = a/the quickly walking man .... [Note ... the affix -is is appended to saco to show it is connected to doika and not bàu] instead of *bàu là doika saco

In a -constuction, everything has the same order as a MP ... the only difference is that -la is appended to the manga and XXX is dropped. Well XXX represents the A argument and the A argument is the thing being described by the -constuction, so no need to exist inside the construction.

This -constuction can be called the present participle. The present participle has the meaning "in the process of XXXing".For example ...

doika "to walk" => doikala "in the process of walking"

kata "to cut" => katala "in the process of cutting".

When derived from a transitive verb the object can be included as well. For example katala lazde "in the process of cutting the grass".

[ Note ... bàu katala lazde "the man cutting the grass" means the same as bàu nàis katora lazde "the man who is cutting the grass" ... however the first is nearly always preferred ... well it is shorter ]

[ Also note ... pà r katala lazde means the same as (pás) katara lazde ... however the second is nearly always preferred ... well it is shorter ]

O arguments (in an equivalent active clause) can be modified by the -construction as well. For example ... lazde jwola kata "grass being cut" ... jwola kata being classed as an adjective phrase (jwòi meaning "to undergo").


Also appears often in conjunction with manga

The -constuction acts as an adverb. An adverb meaning "the r-form (matrix verb) happened during the time of the action qualified by .

jonos lailore doikapi = "John sang while walking earlier today"

jonos lailore pí doika tunheun = "John sang while walking to the civic centre earlier today"


í and appear often in conjunction with manga

These constructions act as adjectives. Along with , they differs from all other pilamo in that, with a manga, they never stands alone. For example ...

ò r kludaun = He/she is about to write

ò r kludaufi = He/she has just written

ò r kludaun toili = He/she is about to write a book .......................... *ò r í kludau toili

ò r kludaufi toili = He/she has just written a book .......................... *ò r fì kludau toili

bàu timpafi glá = The/a man who has just hit the/a woman .......... *bàu fì timpa glá

bàu timpan glá = The/a man just about to hit the/a woman .......... *bàu í timpa glá

toili jwoifi kludau = The/a book that has just been written ............ *toili fì jwòi kludau

*toili jwòin kludau = The/a book that is just about to be written ... *toili í jwòi kludau

These can be called the present+ participle and the present- participle.


manga ... as well as appearing as arguments in a clause. That is S, A, O, CS and CO, also appear as complements to auxiliary verbs.

One such auxilliary is tuma meaning "to squeaze" or "to force". [ when it means "to squeaze" it is followed by a senko and is acting as a normal verb, when it means "to force" it is followed by a manga and is acting as an auxiliaryl verb ]

tomos tumori doika jene = Thomas forced Jane to walk .... [ note doika jene is one element and must stay in this order ]

tomos tumori timpa jene hí jono = Thomas forced John to hit Jane ... [ note timpa jene hí jono is one element an must stay in this order ]

[Note to self : think about the below more ]. These two expressions also have alternatives ...

tomos tumori jene doika

tomos tumori jono timpa jene

[By the way ... as an example of tuma being a normal verb ... tomos jwuba komo jene tumori = Thomas squeazed Jane's left buttock ]

Two other examples of manga with auxilliary verbs (why not) ...

1) ... mbe = to hold ..... lelpa = to sing, singing ..... jenes mbor lelpa bòi = Jane can sing well.

2) ... glù = to depart ... timpa = to hit, hitting ... jonos glori timpa jene = John stopped hitting Jane


One notable use of the manga is emphasis, where the manga is used right next to the same word in r-form. For example ...

daw-o-r-u dàu
die-3SG-IND-FUT death
= He/she will die a death => He/she will die for sure
lay-o-r-i lái
live-3SG-IND-PAST life
= He/she lived a life => He/she had a full life
maum-a-r-i mauma
sleep-1SG-IND-PAST sleep
= I slept a sleep => I had a deep and satisfying sleep

Now maumori mauma and daw.oru dàu are strange. Both verbs are strictly intransitive. If the pronouns were to be included you would have to absolutive arguments in the clause (i.e. ò and dàu : and mauma) ... something that is not allowed. But it seems that béu does allow it if one of the arguments is the base of the r-form.


Note to self : Dixon makes a big deal over the below. [ Note to self : what sort of deal should I make ? ]

1) The killing of the president was an atrocious crime. [ Note to self : "killing" here is a noun ... as identified by "the" and "of the" ]

2) Killing the president was an atrocious crime. [ Note to self : "killing" here is not a noun ... we can call it an infinitive ... as identified by "the president" following immediately ]

You can see that one form "killing" is used in 2 different constructions.

And a further note ... "I saw a man cutting the grass" is an English clause. I think Dixon analyses "the man cutting the glass" as a complement clause ??? This sees a bit strange to me. The béu equivalent .... mwari bàu katala lazde is just analyzed as Verb mwari ... Object bàu and Adjective Phrase katala lazde

..... Feŋgi


The feŋgi or particles are too diverse to say anything meaningful about them here. We will learn them one by one as we go though the ten chapters.


But just to fill out this section a bit, I will give you two sets of pronouns. One set being the pronouns in their unmarked form* and the other ... the pronouns in their ergative form**.

Here, for a transitive clause, "that which initiates the action" is called the A argument, and "that which is affected by the action" the O argument. Also, for an intransitive verb, the noun is called the S argument. It is convenient to make a distinction between all three cases. I follow RMW Dixon in using this terminology.

In most languages the S argument is marked the same way as the A argument. However in some languages the S argument is marked the same way as the O argument. These are called ergative languages. béu is one of these ergative languages. About a quarter of the world languages are ergative or partly ergative.

Below are the béu pronouns for the S and O arguments. This form can be considered the "unmarked form".


me us wìa inclusive
us yùa exclusive
you you
him, her ò them
it ʃì them ʃì


NOTE ... Pronouns differ from nouns in that their tones change between the ergative and the unmarked form. For a normal noun it is sufficient that -s is suffixed. For example ...


bàu-s glá timp-o-r-yə
align=center|woman hit-3SG-IND-PRF
==> The man has hit the woman

bàu glá-s timp-o-r-yə
man woman-ERG hit-3SG-IND-PRF
==> The woman has hit the man


Below are the pronouns in the ergative form.


I pás we wías
we yúas
you gís you jés
he, she ós they nús
it ʃís they ʃís


and jés are the second person plural forms.

There is one other pronoun ... the reflexive pronoun taí. This is always an O argument. Notice that it is the only O argument with a high tone.

* In the Western Linguistic Tradition, these "forms" are called "cases". The English word case used in this sense comes from the Latin casus, which is derived from the verb cadere, "to fall", from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱad-. The Latin word is a calque of the Greek πτῶσις, ptosis, "falling, fall". The sense is that all other cases are considered to have "fallen" away from the nominative (considered the unmarked form in Latin).

** By the way, there are 17 marked forms in béu ... the ergative being just one of these 17.


..... Participles


In the manga section, I introduced 3 participles (adjectives derived from verbs). Here I will introduce 2 more.

The past participle (occasionally called the passive participle) is formed by affixing -ia to the verb base. The future participle (occasionally called the obligation participle) is formed by affixing -ua to the verb base. The original vowels from the base being deleted.


Verb Adjective Noun Noun
============== ============== ============== ==============
laudo laudia laudia + laudia
to wash/launder laundered laundered clothes a laundered item
kuwai laudia k+ laudia
============== ============== ============== ==============
laudua laudua + laudua
to be laundered laundry a soiled item
kuwai laudua k+ laudua
============== ============== ============== ==============


Notice that laudia and laudua can be both an adjectives and a noun. This is common in languages, why make a differentiation if there is no ambiguity. For instance, in English you can say "sky blue is a really dreamy colour". Now here "sky blue" is CS (copula subject), usually the preserve of nouns. But we don't say "the blueness of the sky ..." . We like to keep it short, especially when no ambiguity threatens.

However if there is a need to disambiguate, the particle kuwai or the prefix k+- can be employed.

kuwai laudia = the state of being washed : k+ laudia = all the washed things (I guess theoretically this word has a universal meaning ... but in practice the meaning only applies locally)


Verb Adjective Noun Noun
============== ============== ============== ==============
kludau kludia kludia + kludia
to write written notes a note
kuwai kludia k+ kludia
============== ============== ============== ==============
kludua kludua + kludua
to be written examinations a school assignment
kuwai kludua k+ kludua
============== ============== ============== ==============

kludia = "which is written"/ "that which is written" => "notes" : + kludia = a note

kludua = "which must be written"/"that which must be written" or "that which is to be written => examinations (originally used only for essay format examinations, but now used for any format) : + kludua = "one question in a test"

These participles can can absorb other elements. These elements are absorbed in the same order as a manga heart. For example ...

kludia saco = "which is written quickly"/ "that which is written quickly"

kludia saco hí jono = "which is written quickly by John"/ "that which is written quickly by John"


If the verb is a mono-syllable then the final vowels are not deleted. Instead -ia => -ya and -ua => -wa.


nko = to know : nkoya = known, facts : + nkoya = a fact

nko = to know : nkowa = to be found out, that which must be found out : + nkowa = an unknown (also called variable) in an equation


gwói = to pass by : gwoya = the past : k+ gwoya = history ?

"rail"heu gwoya = the last station (i.e. the one just past)  : "rail"heu gwoya hói = the station before last : "rail"heu gwoya léu = the stations behind

= to come : tewa = the future : + tewa or k+ tewa = fate ( + tewa is one item of fate ... such as "she will die by drowning", whereas k+ tewa is the complete timeline)

"rail"heu tewa= the next station : "rail"heu tewa hói= the next again station : "rail"heu tewa léu= three stations ahead


..... Intensifiers


Remember earlier in this chapter, we mentioned the numerative slot (for the senko). To recap, this slot can contain ...

"plural" ... ʔà "one" ... hói "two" ... léu "three" ... iyo "few" ... ega "four" ... oda "five" ..... up to ..... tautaita "172710 ... hài "many"and ú "all"

Below is show how hài and iyo divide up the semantic space of quantity(intensity).


TW 788.png


Now all saidau(adjectives) can be affixed by -ge to form the comparative* form. For example ...

bàu jutu = "the big man" : bàu jutuge = "the bigger man"

This affix can also be used with the numbers ...

juge "more than zero", ?age "more than one" : hoige "more than two" .... up to tautaitage "more than 172710**

Now -ge can also be affixed to iyo letting us fill in every box of the chart given above ... TW 789.png


Now when attached to saidau, -ge gives a relative value (i.e. you are comparing one thing with another). However when -ge is attached to a numbers you get an absolute value (i.e. you are not comparing the modified item with anything).

When you want to compare two items as to their numerative value, you must use the particle .

(The word and the suffix -ge both can be translated as "more", however only qualifies nouns and -ge only qualifies adjectives)

jonos byór yú klogau jenewo = "John has more pairs of shoes than Jane"

?ár yú halmai = "I want more apples"

?ár hài halmai = "I want a lot of apples" or "I want many apples"


Now a number can immediately follow . For example ...

?ár yú léu halma = "I want three more apples"

yár yú halmai jenewo = "I have more apples than Jane" ....... [ note ... halma with léu but halmai with ]


To indicate "less" ... use . For example ...

jenes yór wì halmai pawo = "Jane has less apples than me"

jenes yór wì hói halma pawo = "Jane has two less apples than me" .... but it would sound better to rephrase these as ...

yár yú halmai jenewo = "I have more apples than Jane" : yár yú hói halmai jenewo = "I have two more apples than Jane"


*The affix -mo is the superlative for adjectives. When joined to hài and iyo ... we get "the majority" haimo and "the minority" iyomo

**Note ... the words noge, haige and uge do not exist.



Above we have talked about numeratives and in detail about how to quantify senko.

Below we will touch on how other categories of words have their own intensifiers ...


TW 920.png


hài bàu = many men

moze hè = a lot of water

also can qualify verbs. As with normal adverbs, if it doesn't immediately follow the verb it must take the form hewe.

(Note to self : I can't think of a reason you would want to separate from its verb)

glá doikori hè = the woman walked a lot

hewe glá doikori = the woman walked a lot

báus timpori glá hewe = the man hit a woman a lot

And also can intensify manga and mangas

solbe hè moze = "to drink a lot of water"

solbe moze hè = "to drink a lot of water"

The above two forms are equally likely to be found. There is a difference in meaning but you would be a real nitpicker to worry about that.


saidau and saidaun are both intensified by sowe ...

jutu sowe = "very big"

jutun sowe = "the very big one"


Notice that mangan and saidaun can take two intensifiers ...

hài solben hè wiski = the many times a lot of whisky was drink ... hài solben hè wiski hí pà = the many times I have drunk a lot of whisky

hài gèun sowe = the many very green ones


We will take about the opposite of intensifiers and other quantifiers in a later chapter. These are a lot rarer. The intensifiers are the ones most commonly used.


... The main derivation pathways


Derivational morphology often involves the addition of a derivational suffix or other affix. Such an affix usually applies to words of one lexical category (part of speech) and changes them into words of another such category. For example, the English derivational suffix -ly changes adjectives into adverbs (slow → slowly).

Examples of English derivational patterns and their suffixes:

  • adjective-to-noun: -ness (slow → slowness)
  • adjective-to-verb: -ize (modern → modernize)
  • adjective-to-adjective: -ish (red → reddish)
  • adjective-to-adverb: -ly (personal → personally)
  • noun-to-adjective: -al (recreation → recreational)
  • noun-to-verb: -fy (glory → glorify)
  • verb-to-adjective: -able (drink → drinkable)
  • verb-to-noun (abstract): -ance (deliver → deliverance)
  • verb-to-noun (agent): -er (write → writer)

Derivation can be contrasted with inflection, in that derivation produces a new word (a distinct lexeme), whereas inflection produces grammatical variants of the same word.

Generally speaking, inflection applies in more or less regular patterns to all members of a part of speech (for example, nearly every English verb adds -s for the third person singular present tense), while derivation follows less consistent patterns (for example, the nominalizing suffix -ity can be used with the adjectives modern and dense, but not with open or strong).

Derivation can also occur without any change of form, for example telephone (noun) and to telephone. This is known as zero derivation. [ All the above from "wikipedia" under "linguistic derivation" ]


The diagram below shows the ten main derivational processes which are absolutely fundamental to the working of the language. By the way, the verbal base (equivalent to English infinitive or gerundive I think ??) should be considered a noun.

TW 917.png


Most nouns can be used as adjectives just by placing them directly after the noun they are qualifying. Like "school bus" in English. For example ...

pintu tìa = a/the door of the house

Also to indicate possession the possessee is usually just placed after the possessed.

tìa jono = John's house

(Actually there is a particle joining the possessed to the possessee ... however it is rarely used. is also a noun meaning possessions, yái an item possessed, yáu "to have")

"John's house" => tìa yó jono .... but more usually tìa jono

This is zero derivation and is marked as TW 816.png in the above diagram.


gèu = green

+ gèu = the green one

?azwodus = lactose intolerant

+ ?azwodus = a/the lactose intolerant one


gèu = green

k+ gèu = the green ones

k+ gèu làu oila = six green ones

sadu = elephant

k+ sadu = elephant-kind

k+ sadu làu oila = six elephants ... well, it is legitimate to say this ... but oila sadu is so easier.


gèu = green

kuwai gèu = greenness


yubau = strong

yubako = to strengthen

pona = hot

ponako = to heat up


poma = kick (also means leg) .... pomora = He/she is kicking

pomako = to kick

However if the base noun ends in n ...

kwofan = bicycle

gàu kwofan = to (do) bicycle


pazba yubara "I am strengthening the table"


pazba yub-a-r-a
table strengthen-1SG-IND-PRES

ponara moze "I am heating up some water"

pon-a-r-a moze
"heat up"-1SG-IND-PRES water


tunheun kwofanaru "I will bicycle to the townhall"


tunheu-n kwofan-a-r-u
townhall-DAT bicycle-1SG-IND-FUT


This will be covered in detail in the next chapter. However here is a quick example ...

solbara moze "I am drinking water"


solb-a-r-a moze
drink-1SG-IND-PRES water

from the verb base solbe "to drink"


-s, -n, -a, -o take -is, all other endings take -s (including -ia and -ua)

saco = fast, sacois = quickly

pudus = timid (of an animal), puduʒis = timidly

yubau = strong, yubaus = strongly



For [7] and [8] if the root that is to be transformed is monosyllabic, then we need -ko as well as -r-. For example ...


bàu = man

bauko = to man (exact same meaning as in English)

baukara téu dí = I am manning this position.


gèu = green

geuko = to make green

geukara pazba dí = I am painting this table green


You can say, that for monosyllabic words [7] = [5] + [9] and [8] = [6] + [9].

.. ..

Unadorned adjective can be used as nouns in many situations. Similar happens in many languages. For example ... klár gèu is ambiguous.

To disambiguate => klár kuwai gèu "I like greenness" / klár k+ gèu "I like the green ones" / klár + gèu "I like the green one"


The remaining two transformations shown on the diagram are for verbalization. Actually the affix -ko is added to all adjectives or nouns in order to make a verb. However in one circumstance this affix is not needed. This is for the R-form based on a multi-syllable adjective or noun. For example ...


pazba yubaku = strengthen the table (a command)

pazba yubakis = you should strengthen the table


ponaku moze = heat up some water (a command)

ponakos moze = he/she should heat up some water


bauku téu dí = man this position (a command)

baukos téu dí = he/she should man this position

naike = sharp : naikeko = to sharpen

keŋkia = salty : keŋkiko = to add salt ... when the adjective ends is a diphthong (and is non-monosylabic) the last vowel is dropped.

keŋkikara = "I am adding salt" .... note not *keŋkara ... this is because keŋkia is a derived word.

sài = colour : saiya = colourful : saiwa = colourless : saiko = to paint (maybe via *saiyako)


Note ... -ko is possibly an eroded version of gàu ( "to do" or "to make" ).

Note ... There seems to be a method of deriving a two place verb from a one place verb by affixing -n. For example ... diadia = "to happen" : diadian = "to cause". While this mechanism is seen all over the language I have not mentioned it in the chart above. This is because I consider it non-productive. I count daidia and diadian both as base words. In a similar way that English speakers consider "rise" and "raise" independent words, "lie" and "lay" independent words and "sit" and "set" independent words.


... Index

  1. Introduction to Béu
  2. Béu : Chapter 1 : The Sounds
  3. Béu : Chapter 2 : The Noun
  4. Béu : Chapter 3 : The Verb
  5. Béu : Chapter 4 : Adjective
  6. Béu : Chapter 5 : Questions
  7. Béu : Chapter 6 : Derivations
  8. Béu : Chapter 7 : Way of Life 1
  9. Béu : Chapter 8 : Way of life 2
  10. Béu : Chapter 9 : Word Building
  11. Béu : Chapter 10 : Gerund Phrase
  12. Béu : Discarded Stuff
  13. A statistical explanation for the counter-factual/past-tense conflation in conditional sentences