Classical Kasshian nouns

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Classical Kasshian nouns were inflected for case, number, and gender. Adjectives took the same inflections and agreed with their nouns. Gender and number were indicated by a single prefix, while number was also redundantly marked by a suffix and case by a second suffix.


Classical Kasshian had eight genders, marked by a prefix, which had both singular and plural forms.

  • Gender I - Female sapient (human or pteranthropan)
  • Gender II - Male sapient
  • Gender III - Epicene or androgyne sapient
  • Gender IV - Animals associated with people (domesticated animals, common pests, some animals with symbolic or religious significance) as well as infants
  • Gender V - Other animal
  • Gender VI - Other "animates"; in this context, "animate" refers to things that have motion, such as fire, water, wind, etc., as well as some simple animals, such as insects. It also includes things that are metaphorically animate, such as language, cultural institutions, moving weapons (such as arrows), precious metals, and so forth
  • Gender VII - Inanimate
  • Gender IX - This is an limited-use gender. For many orthodox Nrastaists, there is only a single noun that uses it, tonDinau, the name of the Goddess. Others use it for the Divinities as well. For non-Nrastaists, it's used for gods. It also has a special dual number used for paired deities/Divinities, and, in general, the inflectional pattern is distinct from the other seven.

The distinction between genders VI and VII is somewhat arbitrary, as is the distinction between IV/V and V/VI.

There were ten genders in the ancestral Old Kassan language. By the classical period, most languages had lost at least one or two genders. Classical Kasshian had lost the original genders VIII and X Originally, VIII was for instruments and tools, while X was used for sacred objects, with IX being used for deities, celestial objects, weather phenomena, and other sky-related meanings. Those two genders merged early on, with the original gender IX forms used, and subsequently became narrowed down to just deities.


Nouns have a stem form which is never used alone, derived by removing the gender-prefix from the basic form of the noun. The stem form is used in compound nouns and derivation. Nouns are listed in dictionaries with the absolutive singular and the stem form, while adjectives are listed by stem form alone. Inflectional patterns can typically be predicted by knowing the gender of a noun and its stem form.

Gender prefixes

Number is marked twice, by changing the gender-prefix and by a suffix. There were eight paradigms for gender-prefixes, which could be grouped into five major paradigms with subtypes. The major paradigms could be predicted from the stem form.

Hard Consonants

Nouns and adjectives whose stem begins with a hard consonant, that is, a consonant other than l, y, or w. This was the most common type of noun. The asterisk (*) indicates gemination (doubling of a consonant). The f at the end of the genders IV-VII plural forms became v before voiced obstruents (b, d, g, j, v, z, zh), due to the regular voicing assimilation.

Gender Singular Dual Plural
I chi- che*-
II na- na*-
III su- so*-
IV çi- çef-
V la- laf-
VI wa- waf-
VII pi- pef-
IX ton- tonni- tonna-

Clusters and the complex consonants ch, j, and ç followed by a, o, or u, could not be geminated, and thus, had identical forms in the singular and plural of genders I-III.


Some nouns that began with a consonant-a sequence dropped the a (and changed stops to fricatives) after the singular I-VII and the dual and plural X prefixes. The a was also dropped in incorporation when preceded by a prefix that ended in a vowel. Thus (bold for those prefixes that cause the a to drop):

Gender Singular Dual Plural
I che- che*-
II na- na*-
III so- so*-
IV çe- çef-
V la- laf-
VI wa- waf-
VII pe- pef-
IX ton- tonne- tonna-

Two uncommon subtypes were marked by long vowels in the singular forms of genders I-VII and a ka- or ga- in the stem. In compounding and incorporation, the ka and ga were dropped after vowels, with the preceding vowels being lengthened.

Gender Ka- Ga-
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
I chī- chekka- chī- chegga-
II nā- nakka- nā- nagga-
III sū- sokka- sū- sogga-
IV çī- çefka- çī- çevga-
V lā- lafka- lā- lavga-
VI wā- wafka- wā- wavga-
VII pī- pefka- pī- pevga-
IX tonka- tonnī- tonnā- tonga- tonnī- tonnā-

Some a-dropping nouns exhibit further sound changes, including voicing assimilation, e.g., naspi (boy) stem tabi, and metathesis, e.g., wampaku (rib), stem panaku, as well as various largely unpredictable alternations such as chempatu (healer), stem naftu, all follow the same basic pattern, however, of two alternate forms, a post-vocalic and a post-consonant form.


Gender Singular Dual Plural
I ch- tr-
II n- nr-
III sw- sr-
IV ç- çif-
V l- laf-
VI w- waf-
VII py- pif-
IX tonk-[1] tonny- tonn-

Note: w is silent before u/o and y is silent before i/e. Thus in nouns like otta (hurricane), the gender-prefix is zero in the singular.


For stems beginning with soft consonants (l, w, y), the initial consonant merges with the gender-prefixes

There are two variations of L-initial nouns, which differ only in the plural of gender IV-VII and the singular of gender X. For L-initial nouns in genders IV-VII, therefore, the singular and stem are insufficient to predict the plural, and the plural must be given as well. For L-initial adjectives, the gender IV plural will typically be listed along with the stem.

Gender Type 1 Type 2
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
I tr- chell- tr- chell-
II nr- nall- nr- nall-
III sr- soll- sr- soll-
IV kl- çifl- kl- çeff-
V lal- lafl- lal- laff-
VI wal- wafl- wal- waff-
VII pl- pifl- pl- peff-
IX tunr- tonnil- tonnal- tonn- tonnil- tonnal-

In the Classical period, there was already a great deal of confusion between types 1 and 2, especially in adjectives, with the two paradigms often being used interchangeably.

Note: In stems that begin with ly- or lw-, genders I-IV and VII have different singular forms. There are two paradigms, varying by dialect, in the common paradigm, ly- and lw- use identical forms[2], while the alternate paradigm has different forms before ly- and lw-. The plurals of those genders, and all forms of the remaining genders, used the same prefixes in ly-/lw- nouns as in lV-nouns

Gender Common Alternate
ly- lw-
I chil- til- tul-
II nal- nil- nul-
III sul- shil- sul-
IV çil- kil- kul-
VII pil- pil- pul-


Some genders have two alternatives in the singular. The first is used for all adjectives, the second is used for some nouns. In those forms ending in ai, the vowel following the y in the root is dropped. For example, yutu (blind) in the gender IX plural is tonnaitwi

Gender Singular Dual Plural
Standard Alternative
I ch- chily-
II ny- nai- naly-
III sh- suy- suly-
IV ç- çify-
V ly- lai- lafy-
VI uy- wai- wafy-
VII py- pify-
IX tonç- tung'y- tonny- tonnai-


As with the Y-initial paradigm, some nouns had alternate forms in certain genders. Like with ai in the Y-initial paradigm, forms ending in au involve the loss of a vowel.

Gender Singular Dual Plural
Standard Alternative
I p- chiw- chilw-
II m- nau- nalw-
III sw- sulw-
IV qu- çiw- çif-
V lw- lau- laf-
VI w- wau- waf-
VII p- piw- pif-
IX tonqu- tum- tomm- tonnau-


There are seven "true cases" and twelve "pseudo-cases" with the following meanings:

True Cases

  • Absolutive: Used for the subject of an intransitive verb or the object of a transitive verb
  • Ergative: Used for the subject of a transitive verb
  • Genitive: Generally indicates possession
  • Dative: Typically the recipient of an action. It is also sometimes used in the so-called dative antipassive construction for the object of a transitive verb, in which case the subject becomes absolutive
  • Instrumental: Used to indicate the instrument used to perform an action, also used in causative constructions to indicate the person made to do something (e.g., "The woman made her servant clean the house")
  • Benefactive: Used to indicate the person for whom an action is performed
  • Commitative: Indicates that an action is done together with a noun


These cases are formed by clitics added to inflected nouns. Adjectives do not take these cases, agreeing with the "main" case (e.g., a noun in the locative, which is formed from genitive + -av takes an adjective in the genitive)

  • Genitive
    • Locative -av
      • Indicates the location of an action, generally indicates on the surface of
    • Ablative -ta
      • Indicates motion away from an object, generally from the surface of
    • Inessive -ka
      • inside of
    • Elative -tu
      • Out of
    • Circumablative -ku
      • From the vicinity of
  • Dative
    • Allative -za
      • Motion towards, generally on to the surface of
    • Illative -ba
      • Into
    • Circumallative -ma
      • To the vicinity of
  • Instrumental
    • Perlative -ni
      • Motion over the surface of. Some dialects change -nini to -nen
    • Perillative -bav
      • Through.
    • Circumperlative -man
      • motion near.
  • Commitative
    • Circumlocative -ji
      • In the vicinity of

Case and number suffixes

Case and number are marked by suffixes, with the number prefix first. There are a total of 12 paradigms, four of which involve no changes to the stem, and include most nouns, while the other 8 involve some change to the stem in certain forms. Most plural nouns take the usual vowel-final singular endings, while the few exceptions use class III long vowel endings, thus, separate plural forms will not be given for the cases.


Number is marked by the suffix -i. All nouns ending in -f or -s, and some nouns ending in -m, -n, or -l geminate those consonants before -i. Consonant-final are thus divided into geminating and non-geminating based on whether gemination occurs. This division is only relevant to pluralization. Note that nouns ending in -ç actually have an underlying /i/ that becomes silent when word-final and short, the plural is thus -çii

A-dropping nouns

Some nouns that end in two or three consonants followed by -a drop that a before the plural suffix, with further complications, singular forms use the standard vowel-final paradigm:

  • -ta -> -chi
  • -da -> -ji
  • -ka -> -çi
  • -ga -> -i
  • -nga -> -ng'i
  • -ska, -sta -> -sshi
  • -zda -> -zzhi

Other changes

Some nouns undergo other changes to the stem before the plural and case suffixes, see below for further information


Most nouns simply add suffixes without making changes to the stem. These have three paradigms, depending on whether the stem ends in a vowel or a consonant, as well as a paradigm for some l-final nouns, known as l-dropping since they drop the l before the ergative, dative, and genitive cases. Most nouns fall into these paradigms. Note that nouns ending in -ç are actually vowel-final nouns with a final -i that's dropped when word-final, i.e., only in the absolutive singular (thus, for example, watamaç (coin) forms its genitive as watamaçef rather than *watamaçaf, and its plural as waftamaçii)

Vowel-final Consonant-final L-dropping
Absolutive Ø -l
Ergative -l -al
Genitive -f -af -f
Dative -z -az -z
Instrumental -ni[3] -nni
Benefactive -n -na -nna
Commitative -nan -nnan


  • The sequence -ln- becomes -nn-
  • Consonant-final nouns have -f for the genitive affix before the pseudo-case ending -av. The -f becomes -v if the stem ends in a voiced fricative
  • Nouns ending in -ai or -au do not change in the plural
  • Nouns ending in -u change the u to a w before i
    • W is dropped after p, b, m, f, and v
    • Tw, dw, nw usually become p, b, and m
  • Nouns ending in -yu usually change -yu to -iw before -i
    • A common irregularity is to change -yu to -i in the plural
  • The plural suffix is always written distinct from the stem, thus nouns ending in -i are written with -ii not -ī in the plural
    • -ii is inflected as a class III long vowel noun.
  • -si and -zi become -shi and -zhi

Stem changes

There are 6 further paradigms that involve changes to the stem itself. Nouns that exhibit stem changes will usually be indicated as such in dictionaries. Some dictionaries will simply list the plural form, others will have a note stating the paradigm it falls in.

  • The hidden consonant paradigm consists of nouns ending in a vowel in the singular absolutive, and add -ff-, -ss-, -vv-, -zz- or -ll- before the plural ending and the non-geminated equivalents before case endings, e.g., trāna (friend, feminine), trānasshi (plural), trānasaf (genitive). Note that these differ only in the absolutive singular from geminating nouns, and many hidden-consonant nouns are alternately treated as geminating, thus, for example, some speakers will have trānas instead of trāna
    • The sequence -ln- becomes -nn-

The remaining 5 involve phonetic changes in the stem. The Alternating paradigm consists of nouns ending in a -f, -s, -v, or -z in the absolutive singular which change those to -p, -t, -b, or -d before suffixes, four consist of nouns ending in a long vowel in the absolutive singular, and the remaining two involve nouns ending in short vowels in the singular absolutive that have an l in certain forms. For the sake of example, -f and -ā will be used in the alternating and long vowels, but the same principles apply to the other fricatives or vowels. Historically, long-vowel classes I, II and IV descend from alternating nouns. Class I and II descend from nouns with an original /k/ and /g/ which once had corresponding fricatives /x/ and /ɣ/, and class IV descends from nouns with a uvular stop /q/ and alternating fricative form /χ/. The velar and uvular fricatives were lost with the preceding vowel lengthened, and the uvular stop was dropped entirely. Class III long vowels originated in sequences of identical vowels. The changes in that paradigm result from the fact that long vowels can only occur in open syllables. In the long-vowel paradigms below, those forms in which the final vowel of the noun are long are shown in bold.

  Alternating Long vowels
Class I Class II Class III Class IV
Absolutive -f
Ergative -pal -kal -gal -l (varies)
Genitive -paf -kaf -gaf -f
Dative -paz -kaz -gaz -z
Instrumental -mpi -nshi -ng'i -ni -ng'i
Benefactive -mpa -nka -nga -n -ng'a
Commitative -mpan -nkan -ngan -nan -ng'an
Plural -pi -i

T and d become ch and j before i, and -n- is used rather than -m- with t/d/ch/j.

Class IV has al/af/az for ā in the ergative/genitive/dative yal/yaf/yaz for ī, and wal/waf/waz for ū. Many Class IV nouns are alternately inflected as Class III, especially in less formal speech. Some dialects have completely lost class IV altogether.

Classes II-IV nouns ending in -ī are inflected in the plural like class III singular nouns (but written as ii rather than ī).


Comparison is indicated with an infix, which varies depending on the root form of the adjective

  • For adjective beginning with (C)VC-, -tu- is added immediately after the first vowel (chika - old, chituka' - older)
  • For adjectives beginning with Cai-, -p- is added after the a (naida - useful, napida - more useful
  • For adjectives beginning with Cau-, -tu- is added after the a (
  • For adjectives beginning with a consonant followed by a long vowel, there are two patterns:
    • Some adjectives treat the long vowel as VV and add -p- between the vowels (zhīku - beautiful, zhipiku - more beautiful)
    • In others, the long vowel is shortened and -tū- is added after the vowel
  • For adjectives beginning with Cl-, -atu- after the first consonant (mlichi - thick, matulichi - thicker), with the derived form inflected as an a-dropping noun
  • For adjectives beginning with Cw-, the w becomes u and -p- added after it (swachi - unfortunate, supachi - more unfortunate
  • For adjectives beginning with Cya- (cha-, ja-, ça-, sha-, zha- treated as Cya) the y becomes i and -p- added after it (pyasunyasa - intelligent, pipasunyasa - more intelligent)
  • For adjectives beginning with Cyu- (chu-, ju-, çu-, shu-, zhu- treated as Cyu), -yu- replaced by -itū- (lyuchasa - helpful, litūchasa - more helpful)

The object of comparison takes the ellative case


Superlative is also indicated with an infix, varying according to the adjective's root-form

  • For adjectives beginning with (C)V- (including some long vowels), -la- is added after the vowel (chika - old, chilaka - oldest)
  • For some adjectives beginning with a consonant followed by a long vowel, the long vowel is shortened and -lā- is added after the vowel
  • For adjectives beginning with CLV, -la- added after the initial consonant
  • For adjectives beginning with Cw- or Cy-, the w and y become u and i with -la- added after it
  • A-dropping adjectives add -l- after the initial consonant

See also


  1. tonç- before i or e
  2. In fact, in the common paradigm, ly- and lw- are treated as if hard consonants
  3. In some dialects, -n for vowel-final nouns before pseudo-case clitics