The Gold language, also known as Diʕìləs, has grammatical gender for animate objects and some inanimates. The gender system was retained by some of its descendants, being most prominent in Moonshine, but even in Moonshine the system was less full than in Gold.
- 1 Case system
- 1.1 Nominal padding
- 1.2 Sample declension of a regular noun
- 1.3 Distinctions of meaning among the chiral cases
- 1.4 Nominative case
- 1.5 Oblique form
- 1.6 Accusative case
- 1.7 Reflexive case
- 1.8 Circumstantial case
- 1.9 Possessive case
- 1.10 Dative case
- 1.11 Locative case
- 1.12 Partitive case
- 1.13 Instrumental case
- 2 Compound cases
- 3 Gender
- 3.1 Basic structure
- 3.2 Romanization of gender symbols
- 3.3 Animacy hierarchy
- 3.4 Marking of gender on direct objects
- 3.5 Marking gender on animate objects
- 3.6 Semantic associations of noun genders
- 3.7 Breadth of gender categories
- 4 Reflections in daughter languages
- 5 Similarity to Andanese
- 6 Polysemy of noun inflections
- 7 Notes
The Gold language has a robust noun case system featuring the ability to compound noun cases with other noun cases. However, sequences of more than two case markers on a single noun are not generally found. Thus, the noun cases can be presented as a grid. There are 21 noun cases in all: 7 central noun cases, and 14 lateral cases corresponding to left and right chiral forms of each of these. 
Many nouns are irregular, but this is almost entirely confined to consonant mutations; the vowel changes are regular throughout the entire language and there are only three noun declensions.
Most of the noun cases are marked by shifting the stress to the final syllable and attaching one of the consonants k ḳ n s l ʕ to the end of the resulting word; other noun cases, however, are marked by vowel shifts. Both types of inflection originate from the infixes of the Tapilula language. Some nouns undergo obligatory stem mutations when the stress is shifted; this is called the oblique form of the noun.
Nouns of all cases other than the nominative can be padded with final vowels after the final consonant. Padding is mandatory whenever the first noun in the sentence is not the subject of the sentence. (This is necessary because of the lack of pronouns.)
Sample declension of a regular noun
Below is the declension of the regular animate neuter noun làta (a type of hedgehog):
The above noun exhibits the simplest possible pattern among all Gold nouns; there are 7 central cases, and all of the lateral cases are simply derived by infixing -i- (left) or -uʕ- (right) before the last syllable of the noun. Irregular nouns differ mostly in that they have consonant fusion rather than simple infixation on this final syllable; the final consonant and vowel are nearly always regular, however.
Distinctions of meaning among the chiral cases
The nominative case is the noun in its bare form. Most nouns are accented on the first syllable of the root in the nominative case, but this is not a rule. Note that the root is commonly preceded by a classifier prefix of one syllable, meaning that the stressed syllable is often the second rather than the first.
The oblique form is not a case in its own right, but forms the stem to which the other case markers are attached. It is formed by shifting the stress to the last syllable of the noun and, in some cases, applying additional phonological transformations. These transformations are actually reversals of sound changes that affected the nominative case; thus, the oblique stem more closely resembles a noun's original form in the Tapilula language than does the nominative, except for the difference in stress.
A form of the oblique stem can also be called the absolutive case.
The accusative case is marked by attaching the suffix -ḳ to the oblique form of the noun. Inanimate nouns do not take this case suffix except when promoted to animate by association with a parent noun.
The accusative case of some noun classes is also marked by a change in the prefix, and if the noun is masculine, this prefix can itself take a variety of forms depending on the gender of the agent.
Though grouped with the proper noun cases due to similar structure, the reflexive case (sometimes called the relative case) is not semantically a noun case but a variant stem to which other affixes are attached to denote possessed nouns. It is marked by attaching the suffix -k to the oblique form of the noun. This is historically the 1st person verb marker. Note that the Gold language distinguishes between syllable-final aspirated -k and ejective -ḳ.
This aspirated /k/ sound is palatalized to /č/ before a following primordial /i/, whereas the ejective /ḳ/ resists palatalization. This is important in the marking of possessed forms of nouns.
Rarely, the reflexive case can be used without a following affix to describe the "essence" or "being" of something. This use of the case marker expanded significantly in daughter languages in which stress disappeared, meaning that words sporting this affix had the same stress pattern as ordinary nouns, and thus the affix came to behave more like a derivational affix than an inflectional one. But in the Gold language itself, it was not possible to attach further derivational markers after the -k, regardless of its meaning.
Person-marking of possessed forms of nouns
The Gold language has a person marking system that distinguishes between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, and has the ability to mark any or all of these on a single noun or verb. (Note that nominal possession markers are treated in many ways like intransitive verbal person markers.) Additionally, gender is marked, even in the 1st person. However, there is no distinction for number. Thus there are seven possible permutations of the person markers.
- NOTE, the -u -i -a markers here are in fact evidentials, and only evolved to person markers in the Play branch of the family. Thus, this section is wrong. The other languages retain -k -s -Ø for 1st/2nd/3rd.
The 1st and 2nd person are defined to be singular by definition, since in normal everyday situations one person speaks to one other person. So if the speaker is the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for 1st person, whose affix in bare form is -u.
If the listener is the subject of a verb, that verb gets marked for 2nd person, whose affix in bare form is -i.
If the speaker and listener are acting together as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for both 1st and 2nd person. This is called by some people "1st person intimate" but for the sake of continuity it is here marked as simply 1+2.
If someone else is acting as the subject of a verb, that verb gets marked for 3rd person, whose affix in bare form is -a. The third person, unlike the 1st and 2nd, is not confined to the singular, since while most conversations involve one person speaking to one other person, many conversations involve one person speaking about many other people (or animals or objects).
If both the speaker and someone other than the listener are acting as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for both 1st and 3rd person. This is called the "1st person exclusive plural" by some people, but for the sake of continuity it is here marked as simply 1+3.
If both the listener and someone other than the speaker are acting as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for both 2nd and 3rd person. This corresponds to a 2nd person plural in most languages, because the definition of "you" used for this analysis is restricted to a single listener. This is because, from the standpoint of the listener, the other people in a group considered to be 2nd person plural are actually third parties, not clones of himself.
If the speaker, the listener, and someone else are all acting as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for 1st and 2nd and 3rd person. This would be expressed by a "1st person inclusive plural" in other languages, but in Gold this is distinct from the aforementioned 1st person intimate, which would also be a 1st person inclusive plural in other languages.
The suffixes are attached to the reflexive case marker -k-, producing the compound suffixes -ku -či -ka for the first, second, and third persons. For all genders other than the neuter, there is an additional infixation of the corresponding gender-marking consonant (see below). It is the gender of the possessor, not the possessed object, that is marked. Thus, for example, there is a contrast between ləhwatukma "her duck" and ləhwatukta "his duck", regardless of the gender of the duck.
All of the daughter languages introduced consonant cluster-reducing sandhi to eliminate the clusters such as /km/ in words like these. In the Khulls and Thaoa branches, metathesis occurred, so that the reflex of /km/ in both languages was /mp/. In the branch that led to Poswa, where this affix became -p, all voiced consonants were eliminated, meaning that gender was no longer reliably expressed in this suffix since many forms had collapsed into the simple /p/.
The circumstantial case is formed by attaching -n to the oblique stem of the noun. It carries the meaning of being affected by something, and often implies an inverse locative sense.
Not to be confused with the reflexive, the possessive case is marked by attaching -s to the oblique form of the noun and refers to the agent of possession. A secondary meaning of the possessive case shows identity or membership in a class.
This is historically the 2nd person verb marker. The meaning evolved from "different person; neighbor" to "nearby" to "owner (of)".
The dative case, marked by -l, describes indirect objects and beneficiaries of an action.
The locative case is formed by attaching the voiced pharyngeal fricative -ʕ to the oblique stem of a noun. It carries the meaning of being inside or attached to something, and this meaning is often narrowed down to a more precise measurement by attaching additional suffixes to the case marker. These additional suffixes are not normally considered to form noun cases in their own right, but are simply subsets of the locative case. Many of these suffixes delete the locative suffix -ʕ- due to the automatic process of consonant cluster-reducing sandhi.
The partitive case is marked by shifting and lengthening the final vowel of the oblique stem of the noun towards /i/. The exact shift depends on the final vowel of the stem. The partitive case is never identical with the oblique stem itself, even when that stem ends in /i/. This is in part because oblique stems cannot end in long vowels.
The partitive case is associated metaphorically with leftward position and is often padded with other case markers which in turn produce what are referred to as "left" or "left-hand" forms of those other cases. Thus, for example, a noun inflected with the partitive case marker and then the circumstantial case marker produces what is considered to be a subset of the circumstantial case, not a subset of the partitive case.
The instrumental case is marked by shifting and lengthening the final vowel of the oblique stem of the noun towards /u/. The exact shift depends on the final vowel of the stem. The instrumental case is never identical with the oblique stem itself, even when that stem ends in /u/. This is in part because oblique stems cannot end in long vowels.
The instrumental case is associated metaphorically with rightward position and is often padded with other case markers which in turn produce what are referred to as "right" or "right-hand" forms of those other cases. Thus, for example, a noun inflected with the instrumental case marker and then the accusative case marker produces what is considered to be a subset of the accusative case, not a subset of the instrumental case.
Given that there are nine basic cases, of which one uses a null morpheme, there are 64 theoretically possible compound cases. Most of these do not actually occur, as some would have seemingly contradictory meanings. Those that do occur can be divided into two categories: those whose semantic meanings are easily describable as the product of their two constituent morphemes, and those whose meaning has grown significantly far from what one might expect from looking at the individual morphemes used.
The Gold gender system is based on consonants only, with each consonant corresponding to a different gender. The gender setup divides people not just into males and females, but into different age groups as well. There are more feminine genders than masculine ones, and in some descendant language, the masculine gender is even swallowed up by one of the neuter or epicene genders, leaving the feminine genders intact.
Romanization of gender symbols
In Romanization, additional astronomical symbols can be repurposed to mark the non-binary genders of the Gold language and its descendants. The pattern used here is:
♀ FEMININE ♂ MASCULINE ☿ YOUNG FEMININE ♃ YOUNG MASCULINE ♁ EPICENE ☼ UNISEX ⚲ NEUTER
In a compound noun whose elements are of different genders, the gender highest in the animacy hierarchy dominates. If two morphemes are at the same level on the animacy hierarchy, the rightmost morpheme dominates. There are five tiers in the animacy hierarchy.
Animacy level 4
The highest animacy level is used primarily for adult humans of both sexes and for epicenes. There are only a small number of "misfit" nouns in this category. Nouns belonging to the highest animacy level do not need to take any modifiers on their verbs; that is to say, they are compatible with all types of transitive verbs.
The genders belonging to this category are the greater feminine, the epicene, and the masculine, symbolized in Romanized text respectively by ♀ ♁ ♂.
Animacy level 3
The second-highest animacy level is used primarily for human females, but contains a large number of nouns for other animate beings, and a sizable number of words that are syntactically inanimate but behave as animates in the Gold language and in many of its descendants.
The genders belonging to this category are the lesser feminine and the greater young feminine, symbolized in Romanized text respectively by ⚳ ☿.
Animacy level 2
The middle animacy level is used mostly for human children of both genders, although there are historically more words for boys than for girls in this category, as most words for young girls are found in animacy level 3. Thus, it could be said that girls are given superior status to boys in the Gold language. This is true from a grammatical standpoint; on the other hand, it is considered grammatical to describe young boys with words from the proper masculine gender, which is in animacy level 4. Therefore boys are alternately above or below girls depending on the word being chosen to describe them, and can occasionally also be equal to certain feminine words.
This gender disappears early on in the histories of most of Gold's daughter languages, as it contained very few words and came to be phonetically indistinct from genders with simialr meanings.
The genders belonging to this category are the young masculine and the lesser young feminine, symbolized in Romanized text respectively by ♃ ⚵.
Animacy level 1
The second-lowest animacy level is used mostly for babies and animate beings with no easily observable gender or whose gender is unimportant to human relationships. Most words for wild animals belong to this gender, even if the word specifically describes an animal of a particular sex. The unisex gender also contains words for grass, flowers, and other objects that are perceived as living things, and therefore animate, but whose gender, if present, is unimportant to humans. Additionally, the diminutive suffix -ĭ places objects it attaches to into the unisex gender unless overridden by a gender of higher animacy hierarchy earlier in the word.
The genders belonging to this category are the unisex and the baby gender, symbolized in Romanized text respectively by ☼ ⚙.
Animacy level 0
The lowest animacy category corresponds to the neuter gender, which has no associated consonant and can be considered a lack of gender rather than a gender of its own. It is distinct from both the unisex, which implies animacy, and the epicene, which implies the presence of both masculine and feminine genders. A small number of words for syntactically animate objects are found in this category.
It is symbolized in Romaniezed text by ⚲.
Marking of gender on direct objects
Marking gender on inanimate objects
The gender marker seen on a direct object that is inanimate is that of the agent of the verb. Therefore, a sentence like "she read the book" marks 'book' as feminine. This means that the accusative case suffix on an inanimate object will always be padded by an additional suffix that alliterates (and sometimes rhymes) with the verb inflection, since the verb inflection also marks the gender.
Marking gender on animate objects
The choice of which gender marker to use on an animate object is far more complex. The animacy hierarchy comes into play here, with genders high up on the animacy hierarchy dominating those below. However, the pattern is not that simple, and there are different solutions appointed when two different genders that occupy the same rank on the animacy hierarchy are brought together.
Although the epicene is at the highest level of the animacy hierarchy, it is a compound gender, which means it can contain elements of lower animacy levels, and therefore it obeys some of the patterns for lower genders such as the unisex.
Gold nouns have complex gender inflections. See also Khulls verbs.
|Gender||Epicene ♁||Fem+ ♀||Fem- ⚳||Young Fem ☿||Unisex ☼||Neuter ⚲||Masc ♂|
|4 Greater Feminine ♀||♁||♀||♀||♀||♀||♀||♁|
|3 Lesser Feminine ⚳||♁||♀||⚳||⚳||⚳||⚳||♂|
|3 Young Feminine ☿||♁||♀||⚳||☿||☿||☿||♂|
|1 Unisex ☼||♁||♀||⚳||☿||☼||☼||♂|
|0 Neuter ⚲||♁||♀||⚳||☿||☼||⚲||♂|
|4 Epicene ♁||♁||♀||⚳||☿||♁||♁||♂|
|4 Masculine ♂||♁||♁||♁||♁||♂||♂||♂|
Semantic associations of noun genders
Most words for objects that are non-human, but living, belong to one of the animate genders. The assignment of gender largely follows semantic boundaries, but the choice of which gender to use has little in common with an object's physical characteristics. For example, all words for sea life belong to the greater feminine gender, even if they are words for male animals. Celestial objects also belong to the greater feminine gender. All words for birds, meanwhile, belong to the "maiden" gender, also known as the young feminine. (NOTE: This is true in some daughterl ags, not gold itself)
Greater feminine gender
The greater feminine gender is marked primarily by -m- and -s-. Words in the greater feminine gender usually belong to one of the following semantic categories:
- Adult human females.
- Edible objects, particularly processed foods rather than those which are edible in their natural form.
Lesser feminine gender
The lesser feminine gender is also marked primarily by -m- and -s-. Words in the lesser feminine gender usually belong to one of the following semantic categories:
- Adult human females.
- Celestial objects; fire.
- Snakes and worms.
- Abstract concepts such as love and beauty.
- Names of rivers and nations.
- Soft objects.
- Women's clothing and feminine hygiene products.
- All sea life, including penguins.
- Females of certain large, domesticated mammals.
- Soap and mixed potions.
- Money as an abstract.
Young feminine gender
The young feminine gender is marked primarily by -n-. Words in the young feminine gender usually belong to one of the following semantic categories:
- Young girls and unmarried women.
- Most fruits that can be eaten in one sitting.
- Birds other than penguins.
- Sharp objects.
- Most placenames other than those of rivers and nations.
- Money in the form of coins.
Manmade handheld objects are often found in this gender, from association with Mumba rae "hand", whose locative case yielded yaʕ in Gold, even though this word itself has not survived. (The word for coin may simply be derived from this very same morpheme, if it can be traced further back.)
The masculine gender is marked primarily by -t- and -d-. Words in the masculne gender usually belong to one of the following semantic categories:
- Men and boys.
- Males of some large domesticated animals.
- Some words for fruits. (More common in the descendants than in Gold itself.)
The epicene gender is marked primarily by -p- and -d-. It is always plural. Words in the epicene gender are generally words for groups of humans, or groups that include humans, but there are exceptions such as
- Water and other fluids whose name is derived from the word for water.
- Possibly round objects (from Mumba puarna).
The epicene has no singular form. It generally refers to groups of people of mixed gender, and therefore is never singular either as a subject or an object. It often corresponds to English "they/them". Epicenes can in fact refer to a single person, but only when of an entity whose size is unknown (e.g. "those who passed the test", even if only 1 student passes). Also, many words for mass nouns are epicene. For example, water.
The epicene therefore cannot be 1st person singular or 2nd person singular, either as a subj or an obj. Additionally, it never changes (in most langs) when serving as a patient for an agent of a different gender.
- BETTER IDEA... 1ST AND 2ND PERSON *CAN* TAKE GENDER INFLECTIONS, BUT IT MEANS "ME AND A WOMAN", "YOU AND A MAN", ETC.
The unisex gender is marked primarily by -d-. Words in this gender are reassigned to the masculine gender in many daughter languages. Words in the unisex gender usually belong to one of the following semantic categories:
- Babies whose gender is not known or not expressed.
- Reptiles, amphibians, and some small mammals of either sex.
- Grass, flowers, and small plants; apples and pears.
- Some words for diminutives.
The neuter gender is the only true inanimate gender. It does not have a thematic consonant. Neuters in bare form can never be the subject of a verb, and they have no distinct accusative case because the nominative serves also as the accusative. Words in the neuter gender take on the gender of their possessor, however, when the possessor is animate, which allows them to become the agent of transitive verbs. Words in the neuter gender tend to be words for
- Inanimate objects of all types not included in any of the above metaphorically animate categories such as celestial objects.
- Very primitive animals seen as unable to act on their own behalf.
Since neuters cannot be agents of verbs(except a few irregulars), it may make sense to have 1st & 2nd person pronouns behave as if they were neuters. Essentially, a neuter 2nd person agent marking on a verb is equivalent to using the pronoun "you" in a pronoun-using language. In some ways, this will not "feel" like a neuter since the 1st & 2nd person args will be marked with consos, like the animate genders.
Thus, in Gold, plants actually rank higher on the animacy hierarchy than some animals.
Breadth of gender categories
The assignment of animals to particular categories is based on their habitat rather than their taxonomic ancestry. Thus, for example, penguins are grouped with fish in the "sea life" category, rather than with other birds. Bats, however, are found in the unisex gender, alongside other small mammals.
This tendency became much stronger in two of the daughter languages of Gold, Babakiam (ancestor of Pabappa and Poswa) and Khulls. This is because these languages dumped the classifier system but retained the categories to some extent, and forged new classifier-like morphemes that attached to the end of a word rather than the beginning. In both branches, the locative case became a zero morph in unstressed syllables, meaning that, for example, -pa "in the water" (for Babakiam) and -e "in the water" (for Khulls) came to appear on many nouns.
Thus, when serving as objects, nouns lower on the animacy hierarchy are affected more than animate nouns by what gender the agent is.
Reflections in daughter languages
All languages descended from Gold lost much of the gender system when they lost their noun classifier prefixes, but the Khulls branch of the family retained it most. And in one of Khulls' daughter languages, Moonshine, the gender system actually grew back up again, based on suffixes rather than prefixes, and for the first time included some vocalic reflexes of the consonants. See also Proto-Moonshine language.
Note that the genders in this table are ordered in such a way that overlapping categories are contiguous; there was no individual language that placed them in this traditional order. The numbers next to each gender indicate their rank on the five-tier animacy hierarchy, with 0 being the lowest rank and 4 being the highest.
|Epicene ♁ 4||p||p||p||p||p, ph||Used for humans in groups of mixed or unknown genders, including a pregnant woman.|
|Greater Feminine ♀ 4||m||m||m||m||m, ph||Used for adult women and females in general.|
|Lesser Feminine ⚳ 3||s||s||s, t||s||š||Used for adult women and females in general, but contains few words.|
|Masculine ♂ 4||t||t||t||t||Used for men and boys.|
|Young Masculine ♃ 2||r||l, ř||Used for young boys.|
|Unisex ☼ 1||d||l, r||l, ř||č||Used for babies and children who are young enough to be perceived as genderless. Thus, implies animacy.|
|Baby ⚙ 1||ʕʷ||r||b||—||Used for babies only. Descended from Gold /b/, which at the time patterned the same as /p/.|
|Neuter ⚲ 0||—||ʕ||—||h||Used for animates of indistinct gender and for some inanimates.|
|Greater Young Feminine ☿ 3||n||n||n||n||n||Used for young girls, and in many words for unmarried women.|
|Lesser Young Feminine ⚵ 2||y|
Analogy took place, e.g. the word for tadpole.
Similarity to Andanese
The Gold gender system was descended from the noun classifier system of Gold's own parent language, Tapilula. A sister language, Andanese, preserved this noun classifier system with little change, and this setup closely resembles the Gold gender system. However, in Andanese, there is no distinction between the various animate genders and the other noun classes; they all are seen as equal parts of a whole.
Polysemy of noun inflections
Verbal nouns share the same inflection, -k, with the relative case. Thus, e.g., the word for "sleep" is not səs, but səsək. Rather, səs means "sleeper".
- Used for appearance, as the later name Ǯìlṡ is difficult to type.
- This assumes the oblique/absolutive row is considered not to be made up of true noun cases.
- And yes, I know that this means it essentially never happens, since this is the lowest of the animate genders. However, in some daughter languages, this suffix becomes more important.
- From Mumba neyumpuṭ. Here, ne- is the classifier prefix.
- From Tapilula nə- "claw", which is cognate to Late Andanese gi- with a similar meaning to the Gold prefix.
- Possibly wrong; appears to be based on Andanese ni-, which lost an initial schwa.
- The second -s- is a gender marker. The "bare" form would be səhək.