Conlang Relay 18/Kibülʌiṅ

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The text

Karagetʌṅ petetu ttejʌu, ŋinüẅarʌme niŋolʌ̄ṅ ccethar' ŋinǖtherʌsku. Niŋolʌ̄ kāmriskitt, ŋüja eṅlu ūṅber thʌuṅprejerkūṅbik tʌumiṅrǖleitt, geltari tünʌuskitt ŋoŋorejeireski. Ega lugʌmeje' kkacʌmicʌṅk uṅprejʌski ʌnnipʌmeriṅtāri, cceŋiṅmejʌṅ plāŋ' ʌnninīṅjejerutt ŋaŋʌbeṅgerʌsku hürubiṅjeru. Ega oṅjoṅre orseti nibīcciṅjaṅri egāṅ kāreske' ŋʌnnijeümpeṅjiṅjeṅru. Egāṅ ttʌ̄ ni hoṅr' hoṅr' egʌ̄ŋ' eruṅjiuṅtt teŋluṅẅüṅẅeṅru. Ccaüṅnu, sogare kattoṅgērʌskri miumriccarʌ̄ṅ üspenarʌme nüjʌu mirǖjērʌsku.

Cceŋiṅmejʌṅ plāŋ' ni lʌŋkünnuretʌṅ kkekelt niüṅjʌmesejīṅjejeri, kamere eṅluweluŋejāri ŋinüẅarʌme niŋolʌ̄ ʌnniṅjoṅritheru. Lemesklʌ̄tt torsojūṅnʌsklʌ̄tt mirüẅiccʌski. Kai wʌrʌnejiccʌskri egāṅ torsogar' oriṅski, kkai Hoṅnʌ̄ṅ treŋüske' eṅlu hʌboṅr' suŋei ŋʌnnijōnrijerʌskri taroŋ'. Ittōṅ imʌu ega niŋolʌ̄ṅ nüjʌu mirüẅerʌskutt, jeṅ, imʌu mirüẅerʌski egare ŋihareṅẅüṅẅeṅrʌsku. Imʌu gegeltarʌsku egāṅ nütreṅ' eümpeṅjiṅjeṅritt, khelpiskri elperʌṅ klage' iṅrīṅmʌ̄, sogare ŋʌbeṅskār uṅber egʌ̄ŋ' miu posīthēru.

A smooth rendering

One time, as evening fell, a female shaman had summoned a sun-bear spirit. The bear was overwhelmingly large -- you could see that it would easily overpower all the forest animals -- and it was fierce and furious as well. It roared loudly, in order to smash apart the wall, and then went to the boundary of the village's forum and stood there menacingly. It pulled itself up to its maximum size. People all around the area were fleeing in shock. However, it was being watched the whole time by that vigilant weaver of charms.

Fixed on her purpose, the shaman sneaked by heaps of snow along the boundary of the forum and approached the bear. She looked hard, but beautiful. Her heavily decorated face was red, just like the leaves which the people on the other side of the Bay^1 let steep in their drinking water. She was even then watching the bear the whole time, and, yes, her gaze was being returned. Then, surprisingly, she lifted a hand and, with a kind smile, stroked the fearsome animal on its nose.

^1 What can I say, I couldn't resist taking advantage of the fact that the torch had come from the same conworld :)

Grammar notes


Hiatic vowels are avoided. High + anything inserts a glide (after i ü u resp. j ẅ w), and loses length of the first V; in diphthong + anything the diphthong's second element turns into a glide; low + high becomes a diphthong (but there is no written change); low + low becomes a long copy of the second V. Vowel nasalisation (written ) can spread in these situations.

Two liquids l r cannot stand adjacent, or only separated by a single vowel. The first one is deleted. This does nasty things to the recognisability of morphs like potential and ergative voice er, sometimes.

Obstruents p t k s h lenite to b j g r b when intervocalic either before a suffix or after a prefixal reduplicant. Obstruents written double become single in the base if reduplicated.

In words with an underlyingly final C, this will manifest as a final ' or C' (see the lexicon). Anything that looks like a final C but lacks the ' has an underlying final /ʌ/.


The basic word order of Kib. is SO(O)V. Adverbs and adverbial phrases can come at various points before the verb.

Noun phrases are head-final except that quantifiers follow the head. Adpositions are postpositions. Postpositional phrases may freely modify a noun but are dispreferred modifying a verb (applicatives are more common); when one does, the postposition gets the suffix -mʌ̄.

The noun

Nouns inflect for number, obligatory on animates and optional on inanimates, and take enclitics to mark the genitive.

The plural is formed by prefixal (C)V reduplication, often with vowel variation in the prefix. A noun may also appear totally reduplicated (as two words), with the sense 'Ns all around'.

-ʌṅ is the genitive suffix.

The adverb

All adverbs take a grounding marker, agreeing with their verb. See below for its meaning and realisation.

The verb

A verb can maximally have three arguments, a subject and two syntactically undistinguished objects. Kib. has a rich voice system for keeping track of these. Subjects need not appear explicitly when the voice marking makes clear that there must be an unexpressed subject; objects must appear.

Verbs are agglutinative. We list all the sorts of components that appear in this text in order, with commentary.

First, applicatives. Any postposition can appear here, specifying the semantic role of the object (or the second object, if there are two; the first is then always patient or theme). If all objects have core roles (agent / experiencer / theme / patient), this slot is empty.

Second, the stem.

Third, tense marking. Kib. distinguishes present and past. Present is unmarked. The past has a large number of different markings; which one a given verb uses is lexical. Some verbs (mostly those with basal stative senses) don't have a past.

Fourth, subject voice. These voice markers mostly change the semantic role of the subject, independently of the objects':

0           subject is experiencer or force, or intransitive argument of a non-volitional predicate.  Or, subject is topic, with no direct semantic role.
er          subject is agent, volitional / controlling
icc         subject is patient or theme
l           subject is patient, and no volitional agent exists
(j)ēr       *object* is agent.  Subject can have any core role, and the subject NP may be omitted.

Fifth, stativity. Every stative predicate is marked, even where this would seem redundant. In fact, the lack of the stative on a verb that would be expected to have it generally adds dynamic senses, e.g. 'get long' instead of 'be long'. The presence of the stative on a basally dynamic past verb can have the reading of a perfect of result.

0           nonstative
(ʌ)sk       stative

Sixth, polarity.

0           affirmative
iṅ          negative

Seventh, mood. Non-indicative moods co-opt the stativity contrast for their expression as well, so the stative shouldn't be read straight in those cases.

0           indicative
0+ʌṅ        optative
0+lʌ        potential ('may V', alethic)
sk+lʌ       capabilitative ('is able to V')
0+kūṅbi     hyperprobabilitive ('must V', alethic or inferential)

Eighth, syntactic role.

0           finite verb
k           gerund; achieves an event nominalisation.  (Its marker is invisible after the static.)
ar          relative.  A relative clause has a gapped argument, which it refers to.  Relative verbs are also used for absolute constructions.  (Only r directly after the static.)

Lastly, grounding. Grounding is basically an information-structural contrast; clauses in the foreground are focussed, part of the central thread of the story, while clauses in the background are, well, more like background information. Nonfinite verbs are always in background.

u           foreground
i           background, in the indicative
0           background, in non-indicative moods (actually underlying /ʌ/)


For verbs with a past tense, the past suffix is given after the stem.

A consonant listed in {} is an underlying final consonant that should take the place of final ' or C'. If this isn't given, just remove the '.

ʌnni                (postp.) to, towards; for the purpose of
ccaüṅn-             (adv.) however, nonetheless
cceŋiṅmei           forum, central open area of a town
ccethar'            life-force, spirit
egʌ̄ŋ'               (3rd singular animate accusative pronoun)
ega(re)             (3rd singular animate non-accusative pronoun.  whether the re appears is irrelevant for our purposes)
egāṅ                (3rd singular animate genitive pronoun)
elper'              mouth
elu-m-, -ŋei-       walk
eṅlu                (postp.) in, inside; from, characteristic of
eru-, -ṅjiṅ-        surprise, shock, scare
eümp-ʌ-, -eṅjiṅ-    rise, raise, lift
gegeltar-           be novel, surprising
geltar-             be another one.  forms an adverb 'furthermore'
hareṅ-, -ẅüṅ-       return, go back, send back
Hoṅn                the great bay, on the east of the continent of Peilaš, on which the speakers live
hoṅr'               person
hürup-, -iṅt-       stand
imʌ-                (adv.) then
iṅrīṅ               (postp.) (together) with
ittōṅ               (particle) even
jeṅ                 yes
ka-                 (adv.) very, intensely
kamere              line.  'walk in a line' is idiomatic for 'be fixated on one's purpose'
karage' {t}         evening
kattoṅgʌ-           watch over, guard
kāmri-              be overwhelming, esp. in size
kāreske' {t}        size
klage' {t}          corner.  one speaks of the corners of the mouth rather than smiles and frowns etc. per se
khelpi-             be good, kind, considerate
kka-                (adv.) like, as.  also introduces reported speech
kkacʌm-, -īṅ-       smash, pummel
kkelt               heap, mound
lʌŋkünnure' {t}     snow
lemʌ-               be hard, firm
logüṅnīṅ-, -jei-    swim
lugʌmeje' {t}       wall
miumriccar          lucky charm, blessing
mir-, -ǖ-           see, look at
ni                  (postp.) at
nibi-               be small
niŋolʌ̄              sun bear
niüṅj               (postp.) through, along, according to
nīṅ-, -jei-         go
nüjʌ-               (adv.) continuously, for awhile
nütreṅ' {s}         hand
ŋʌbeṅ(g)-, -jiṅ-    scare, be fearsome
ŋʌnni               (postp.) into
ŋaŋʌbeṅ(g)-, -jiṅ-  threaten, menace
ŋi                  (postp.) to (dative)
ŋinǖ-, -nt-         call out, invoke, summon.  this verb also has a special past in -th- 'successfully summoned'
ŋinüẅarʌme          female shaman
ŋoŋorejeirʌ-        be furious, very angry
ŋüja                forest
oṅjoṅre             reflexive singular animate pronoun
oṅri-, -th-         come, arrive
oriṅ-               be red
orse' {t}           hair.  forms an adverb 'a little'
ōnri-, -ẅü-         sweat, exude
pʌmer-, -iṅt-       scream, cry out
pete' {t}           beginning
plāŋ'               edge, boundary
pos-i-, -īth-       stroke, caress, fondle
sogare              (medial singular animate deictic determiner)
suŋei               water, esp. for drinking
tʌumiṅr-, -ǖ-       notice, observe
taroŋ'              leaf
teŋluṅ-, -ẅüṅ-      flee
torsogar'           face
torsojūṅn-          be beautiful
treŋüske' {t}       length, distance; the other side of s.t.
tünʌu-              be fierce, violent
th                  (postp.) compared to
=tt                 and (enclitic)
ttʌ̄                 land; area around s.t.
ttej                one
uṅber               animal
uṅpret-             be heavy, strong, powerful, loud
üspenarʌme          female weaver
wʌrʌn-, -ei-        decorate