Pabappa verbs

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Pabappa verb conjugation is much like a radically simplified version of that of Poswa. Only tense is marked on the verb, and there are only 3 tenses, since aspect is not marked either. Neither agent nor patient person markers are present on the verb, and there is no distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs, or between active and passive verbs.

There are separate conjugation classes in Pabappa, but these differ only in which consonant the ending begins with, not in any vowels.



The basic Pabappa suffixes are -pi, -pa, and -pu for the past, present, and imperative respectively. They appear as if they are related to Poswa's monosyllabic intransitive suffixes (-bel, -ba, -bob), perhaps through analogy with the respective subjunctive forms, but are in fact heavily analogized descendants of the disyllabic transitive suffixes. Early on, the "extra" vowel remained, but a later sound change pushed the last vowel of the stem into the suffix. Later, these were analogized in such a way that it appeared the initial vowel had never existed.

However, the consonant stems take forms that are indeed originally from the intransitives, since the above vowel shift did not take place in consonant stems.

This is why the stems like -ma don't shift to -da.

Past tense

The past tense refers to action occurring in the past, without regard to whether the action was completed or simply ongoing at the time. The past tense is marked by the suffix -pi on the verb; the consonant in this suffix may change depending on the shape of the verb stem, but the final vowel is always -i. Thus, all verbs ending in -i are past tense verbs.

Upur patiblip mimpibi.
The boy talked to his teacher.

Because aspect is not incorporated into the tense marker, sentences using the past tense can be translated into English in more than one way:

Pom pesapupidip puptumubi.
I reviewed your book.
I have reviewed your book.
I was reviewing your book.

A past tense verb can also indicate a habitual meaning:

Pom puparabap pibumpi.
I ate a salamander. (It was delicious!)
I have eaten a salamander. (It's been a while though.)
I was eating a salamander. (Why did you interrupt me in the middle of my meal?)
I used to eat salamanders. (For years! But then I started getting warts all over my belly.)

The habitual sense generally implies a plural object, as it does not generally take a man several years to eat just one salamander.

Although, in the proper context, the sentence above is correct, Pabaps generally use additional words to clarify the aspect of the verb when it would be otherwise unclear. See below under #Aspect for detailed information on how these meanings are distinguished from each other.

Present tense

The present tense refers to actions taking place as the speaker and listener are communicating; that is, in the present. It takes the form -pa, with the consonant changing when placed with certain verb stems. The vowel always remains -a, however, so all verbs ending in -a are in the present tense. In other words, the present tense is the same as the past tense except that it ends in -a rather than the past tense's -i:

Upur blalolap pabomababa.
The boy is chasing the girl.

Pabappa does not distinguish between a simple present tense and a habitual present tense. Thus the same sentence may be translated in more than one way. As with the past tense, habitual meanings generally imply plural objects, even if no plural marker is used:

Putar puppabup surabuba.
The man is selling a car. (Right now.)
The man sells cars. (For a living.)

Imperatives and the future tense

Where one might expect to see a future tense, Pabappa instead has an imperative. This is used for commands and strong wishes. For example, one might say

Blidip mamabu!
Drink your milk!

Assertive mood

A verbal mood corresponding closely to the future tense in many languages is in Pabappa known as the assertive mood. It refers to future situations which the speaker is certain will happen, regardless of the beliefs or intents of the subject of the sentence. It is introduced by the particle nubes.

Nubes, mas blidip mamabu.
You will drink your milk.

Note that the word nubes does not properly correspond to the English auxiliary "will" but rather to a null morpheme indicating the speaker's confidence that the statement is true. It is descended from Babakiam nubis, the genitive of ne "to believe; be certain that something is true; to stand behind something". This word, in bare form, retained only the sense of "stand behind" in modern Pabappa, and only when used immediately after a word in the locative case.


Pabappa uses both suffixes and standalone words to mark aspect.

The suffixes are placed after the stem of the verb and before the tense markers. Some of them are descended from infixes, and are cognate to infixes in Poswa. In Pabappa they became suffixes because sound changes split each one into three depending on the final vowel of the stem, and then these were mostly merged into one form for each aspect marker.

Other aspect suffixes are descended from morphemes that were originally independent words, and some of these can still be used as such.

Verbal aspect expressed with infixes and suffixes

Iterative aspect

The iterative aspect denotes a repeated action, often involving physical motion.

Resumptive aspect

The resumptive aspect is used to show that someone is resuming an activity. It can be expressed with either a serial verb construction or a suffix on the main verb.

In the serial verb setup, the morpheme involved is blim, which is generally used as an intransitive and conjugates with the same tense as the verb it modifies:

Pom blimpi pasesi.
I began to bathe myself again.

When marking the resumptive aspect by using a suffix on the main verb, the same morpheme is used, and may cause sound changes depending on the verb it follows. For example, the sentence above could be rewritten:

Pom paseplimpi.
I began to bathe myself again.

Where the combination of -p + bl- contracts into -pl-.

Verbal aspect expressed with serial verbs

For other aspects, Pabappa uses only serial verbs. These are similar to some English expressions like "keep running", but unlike English, Pabappa conjugates both verbs. A partial list of these aspects, conjugated in the present tense, is below.

Continuative aspect

The verb babo- is used to mean "keep, maintain, remain; to be still doing something":

Pom baboba publipisa.
I'm still lathering myself up.

Inchoative aspect

The inchoative aspect denotes someone beginning an action, whether for the first time or as a resumption of previous activity (but see #Resumptive_aspect above). The word to use here is sublam, a serial verb expressed as follows:

Pom sublampi publipisi.
I started scrubbing myself.

When a resumptive sense is intended, some speakers will double up the verb marking by using sublam before the verb and the infix -plim- within it, producing sentences such as

Blalola sublampi watsaplimpi.
The girl started to dry herself off.

Some verbs, particularly verbs of motion, can use an alternate method of expressing inchoative meaning by adding the affix -ppo- after the root of the verb and before the inflections. After a verb stem ending in a consonant, the affix is realized as -(s)apo- instead.

This affix is a doublet of the standalone verb sappa "move, set into motion", but has become narrower in meaning. Most speakers are not aware that the two words are related, but nevertheless, there persists a tradition of avoiding compounding the word with its doublet. However, it is in common use with other verbs of motion, such as

Posapam pupsappobi.
I started to climb the vine.

This morpheme appears in all of the motion words that have inchoative meaning, such as "rise", "fall", and so on.

Cessative aspect

The cessative aspect denotes someone stopping an action, whether gradually or immediately. It is expressed with the serial verb blep-. Generally, this implies a telic verb. In the present tense, it often corresponds to English sentences such as "I just stopped..." because English speakers do not generally say "I'm stopping now!" and the like unless they are responding to a command:

Pom publipip blesa bubarnuba.
I just stopped rubbing the soap between my hands.

Use of the cessative imperative

The cessative is commonly used in the imperative tense.

Waba, mas publipibap blesu pumpubu!
Please stop grabbing my soap!

Frequentative aspect

The frequentative aspect is often used to specify careers and habits without using a noun such as "nurse", "caretaker", and so on. It often corresponds to the English simple present, as opposed to the present progressive. It can also be called a habitual construction, as it replaces the habitual tense, long since obsolete, of the parent language Babakiam. It is expressed with a serial verb construction fronted by pusom:

Pom wares pusompa pibibibap pasesa, pi pum wampopibap.
I wash my body before my hair.

Note that there is no italicized word in the English sentence because this construction corresponds to an English null morpheme.

When used in the past tense, it implies that there has been a change in habits, even without the use of an additional particle such as the cessative blep-:

Pom pusompi pasesi postibas parpisi, pibinamibas mospubi.
I used to scrub myself from my bottom to my top.

The copula verb pip

Unlike Poswa, Pabappa has a copula verb, pip.[1] It is historically the same word as Poswa's pys- "to find".[2]

Pom porpulidi pisa.
I am your friend.

Pip is conjugated like a regular -p verb, meaning its basic indicative forms are pisi, pisa, and pisu, with the subjunctives being pisep, pisap, and pisop. [3]

pip Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) pisi pisa pisu
(Subjunctive) pisep pisap pisop

Uses of the copula

Pip can be used for both short-term states and long-term identities and statements of equivalence. For example, at mealtime one might say

Sometiba lurpi pisi.
My plate was full.
Pur, papubes risama pisa.
But now it is empty.
Pansa, blubelmimiba plummupam pisa.
Because my vegetable salad is in the trash.
Pom bapamas baboba pisa.
I am still hungry.

Use as a conjunction

See Pabappa particles and minor parts of speech.

Pip is also the source of a conjunction, pipes, with a meaning similar to English "if".[4] This pairs with the subjunctive form of the verb, and its dependent clause is introduced by the etymologically unrelated rhyming word nipes:

Pipes pom pepusop, nipes[5] pepuposu.
If I sleep, (I) will dream.

This construction brings to mind the similar pubes ... nubes construction which means "when ... then" rather than "if ... then". See #pubes.

Person marking

Serial person marking


Pabappa does not have an infinitive verb form such as English "to work" and Spanish trabajar. Instead, functions that are in other languages given to infinitives are in Pabappa taken up by serial verbs and by nouns.

Serial verbs

Generally, the tense marker will match between the two members of a serial verb construction. For example, one can say

Pom panampi parpabompibap blabusi.
I enjoyed cleaning my apartment.
Papubes, pom topuba pepusa.
Now, I want to sleep.

Archaic use of possessives to mark person on verbs

In archaic Pabappa, the possessive person markers -ba and -di were sometimes used to mark 1st and 2nd person verbs. This was for emphatic use only, since they were derived from the same words as the pronouns themselves, but they remained in certain verbs in which the personal pronoun was commonly omitted, and some of these have survived to the modern day:

Examples of modern Pabappa verbs with archaic person marking

Most verbs that have person markers are interjections, such as

You're right!
I'm back!

Pabaps living in the northern reaches of their empire may be commonly heard to say

I'm sorry.

However, productive use of this affix declined when Pabappa developed the compound personal pronouns, which marked both the subject and the object in a single word, and were usually more efficient.

Pabappa once marked number on its verbs, a feature which Poswa lacked. These affixes corresponded to the personal pronouns such as pap "we" and so on. However, this, too, has, since, faded.

Processes of verb formation

Most verbs are carried down from the parent language, although sound changes have forced the creation of many new words. For example, the parent language verbs for "to kill" and "to lick" coalesced as pi around 3200 years ago. This coincides roughly with the decline of Paba as a major military power. Eventually the problem was solved by turning to other words inherited from the parent language. Soon, miptar became the common word for "to kill". Previously it had carried the narrower sense of murder of a fellow human being. With miptar losing this meaning, a new word was created: uradi, a compound meaning "to hurt weak people".[7] lat ER still, pipi became the dominant word.

Expressing voice

The first four noun cases, called the central cases (pubrupai mamam), are used to mark voice on the verb. They are marked on the stem of the verb, not its inflections, which makes them seem like infixes. The four voices are the active, reflexive, passive, and reciprocal.

Active voice

The active voice is formed by attaching the verbal inflections to the bare stem of the verb, which is the nominative case.

Most Pabappa verbs that are derived from nouns use the nominative case as their stem, even if the meaning might seem to better correspond to the instrumental. This is because the nominative in Pabappa carries on some functions assigned to other cases in more syntactically strict languages.

Reflexive voices

Self-directed reflexive voice

The reflexive voice is formed by attaching verbal inflections to a verb stem inflected with the accusative case marker -p. That is, reflexive verbs in Pabappa are formed by changing the stem rather than changing the verbal inflection suffix. This stem-final -p changes to -s- in inflected forms. For example, one can say

Putar libi pablamas lapisi.
The man taught himself science.

Commonly used reflexive verbs have often evolved meanings of their own that do not correspond simply to the process of acting on oneself. For example, pepu "to bend, fold", given the reflexive affix -p, becomes pepup "to sleep". Some reflexive verbs have no accepted active-voice form. For example, pampup "to sing" is always used in its reflexive form, never as *pampu. These could be likened to deponent verbs.

Reciprocal voice

The reciprocal voice uses the same marker as the reflexive voice: -p. This is because sound changes have merged the two formerly distinct affixes together and because their meanings were similar enough that the Pabaps came to think of them as two variations of a single formation. To specifically point out a reciprocal meaning, the word pasap can be added to the verb, which corresponds roughly to English "(to) each other".

Papatabop pasap pepusi.
The teenagers slept with each other.

Passive voice

The passive voice is marked by changing the stem of the verb to its locative form and then adding the ordinary verb suffix. This should not be confused with locative verbs, which are constructions with two independent words that usually describe literal location and motion.

Use of the passive voice marker to show location

Nevertheless, the same affix that marks the passive voice can be used as a generic, all-encompassing, locative marker. For example, one can say

Blur pampablemempa.
The milk is in the bottle.

This can be rephrased in English as "The milk is being bottled", which shows how the two situations are analogous.

Other verbs formed from case-inflected noun stems

Verbs formed from essives

Essive verbs can be used to show measurements, or to mention that an object is a part of a larger object.

Verbs formed from instrumentals

While one might think instrumentals would be the most common category of verbs, for the most part their function is assigned to the simple nominative stem verbs. Note that for some stems, the instrumental and the nominative stem merge when the verbal suffix is added.

Negative verbs

Verbal negation is accomplished in several ways.

The affix -pida

Most verbs can be negated by adding the affix -pida, which also functions as a standalone noun meaning "decoy" and as a verb meaning "fake; to be false".

Poma paplompi.
I whistled at you.
Poma paplompidabi.
I didn't whistle at you.

Like other affixes beginning with -p-, it changes to beginning with -b- after a verb ending in a vowel:

Poma pipsibi.
I spied on you.
Poma pipsibidabi.
I didn't spy on you.

Verbs ending with the reflexive coda -p (which becomes -s-) take the negative affix as an infix instead, splitting the -p off from the rest of the verb. Thus, for example, the negative of pepup- "to sleep" is not *pepupida or *pepusida but pepubidap. Thus one could say

Pom pepubidasa.
I'm not sleeping.

However, verbs that end in -p but are not reflexive (which means that they can take objects) conjugate without breaking in two:

Putar ponapap posapidabi.
The man didn't hug the peach tree.

Auxiliary negative verbs

In many cases, a Pabappa speaker will want to emphasize before the verb is spoken that the meaning of the sentence is negative instead of using an infix in the middle. After all, Pabappa sentences often place the verb at the end of the sentence, and some sentences can be quite long. Generally, the auxiliary verb will be placed after the personal pronouns and before the verb. The different auxiliaries have different shades of meaning:

Poma pubi pipsibi.
No, I didn't spy on you.
Poma pabubi pipsibi.
I didn't spy on you. (It was someone else!)
Poma pubebi pipsibi.
I didn't spy on you. (I did something worse!)
Poma puppibi pipsibi.
I avoided spying on you.

Also, since they are grammatically considered intransitive verbs, the auxiliaries change to accomodate different tense markers:

Poma puba pipsiba.
I'm not spying on you.

Double negatives

It is possible, for emphasis, to use both the infix -pida- and a fronted auxiliary, but it is not nearly as common as it is in Poswa. People who overuse double negatives are often assumed to be Poswobs who haven't learned fully the differences between the two languages.

Pida as a standalone verb

The infix -pida- used above can function as a standalone verb, and is considered to be a suppletive negative form of the verb pu "to do", because it replaces the stem of that verb instead of attaching to it:

Pom pidabi!
I didn't do it!

Puba as a standalone verb

Likewise, puba can also function as a standalone verb, and is considered to be a suppletive negative form of the copula verb pip:

Pom pinididi puba.
I am not your girlfriend.

Verbs with suppletive negatives

A small number of verbs have suppletive negative forms. Their use is optional. For example, one can say

Pom idiba.
I don't know.

Or build the same meaning in pieces using a construction such as

Pom mibebidaba.
I don't know.

Or use a serial verb setup such as

Pom puba mibeba.
I don't know.

Using a serial verb with an already negative verb adds emphasis, as in

Pom puba idiba.
No, I really don't know.

Although still grammatical, it is less common to see a serial verb used with a traditional, suffix-based negative formation, such as

Pom puba mibebidaba.
No, I really don't know.

Causative verbs

Pabappa has an instrumental case which often describes the action of using an object to accomplish a goal. In a few words, there exists a "hard causative" formation which is not a true noun case, but is built from a historical compounding of the accusative ending on top of a word inflected with the instrumental case. These words generally end in -up, which is the reflex of the historical form -w[V]p, where [V] can represent any vowel.

However, this setup only produces nouns, not verbs. Although these nouns can be used as verbs, they have specific, narrowly defined meanings rather than the dynamic meanings that verbs need to have. For example, pipup, a type of knife, is historically the causative form of a now-obsolete verb meaning "to cut", but one cannot say

Pom taspip pipusi.
I cut the apple.

If they cut it using an apple corer. Rather, pipup has long been an independent word with a specific meaning referring to only that one type of knife.[8] Instead, Pabappa uses several different auxiliary verbs ("helper verbs") in serial constructions to indicate causation, as well as a few optional verb suffixes derived from previously existing infixes.

Causatives indicating permission and allowance

Imagine a boy (pobur) and a bowl of candy (pobap). The boy's mother will not let him eat any of the candy, but when she goes out for the evening and leaves her son in the care of a babysitter (wampada), the babysitter decides to let the boy have all the candy he wants. Thus, the babysitter caused the boy to eat the candy, but did not force him to. The commonest serial verb setup here involves the use of the auxiliary verb pop before the primary verb. Note that the agent of the verb in this sentence is the boy, not the babysitter.

NOTE, maybe try to double-mark these verbs by hanging on to a remnant of the Poswa -V(s(V)) style degrees of volition markers.

The order of the arguments in the sentence seems unusual to learners of Pabappa because it seems that the boy is doing the causation rather than the babysitter. It could perhaps, thus, be imagined that the verb pop means "to do under permission" and that the first noun mentioned in the sentence, the babysitter, is inflected with a possessive ending standing in for the now-lost "becausative" case of the parent language. The most narrow translation of sentences like this into English would use a passive verb, such as:

Wampadis, pobur pobapap posi pobumpi.
By his babysitter, the boy was allowed to eat the candy. (And he did so.)

Note that wampada "babysitter" is inflected with the 3rd person possessive morpheme -i indicating that the girl is the boy's babysitter, but that on top of this inflection is added the genitive morpheme -s indicating that the boy is acting under her permission.

Because of the way the word wampadis is set off from the rest of the sentence, there is no change of meaning to the sentence if it is omitted entirely other than that the agent of the enabling of the boy is not named. Thus,

Pobur pobapap posi pobumpi.
The boy was allowed to eat the candy.

Is still a valid sentence.

Causatives indicating forced action

A similar setup is used to show that an action was forced by an outside power. In this case, the verb is nida or wara.

When the boy's parents got home and found their son passed out on the floor next to an empty candy bowl, they fired their babysitter and told their son they would be taking him with them on their work errands from that time on. Moreover, on their next such trip, they forced the boy to carry some of the crates of eggs (blibip) that they were delivering to the local supermarkets.

Wempabopis, pobur blibipum pambapupup nidabi pirinibi.
By his parents, the boy was made to carry a crate of eggs.
The boy's parents made him carry a crate of eggs.

Causatives indicating provoked action

Note to self: there is no verb free for this function right now, although either punu or pussap could work.

Causatives indicating help and assistance

For this shade of meaning, the helper verb is papa.[9] This is a fairly polysemic word root, but in this narrow context it is never ambiguous. Thus one would say

Wempabopis, pobur blibipumup papaba pirinibi.
By his parents, the boy was helped to carry the eggs.
The boy's parents helped him carry the eggs.

Used in other contexts, papa as a verb means "to push, bump, move an object with one's body" and as a noun can mean medicine although this meaning is more commonly expressed by longer words such as bobola and sasatsur.

Pobur pambapupup papabi bobidil.
The boy bumped the crate with his hip.

Expressing tense and duration

Pabappa uses the possessive -s rather than the locative -m to indicate that an action happened at a specific time.


The word pubes means "while; during"; it is the possessive form of pobum "(period of) time".[10] This is cognate to the Poswa suffix -pies; both come from Babakiam pebuŋis. However, unlike Poswa's cognate, Pabappa pubes is usually found as a separate word, after the entity whose time is being described.

Pom pepusi pubes, pom pepuposi.
While I slept, I dreamt.

Pubes is found in its attached form only in a few common words such as papubes "now" and expressions such as

Pelpubes, papubes, porpubes.
In the past, in the present, (and) in the future.

Pabappa can also use a doublet of the same word, poppis, with the same meaning, but this is less common because it conflicts with unrelated words such as poppis "of his clam".

Verbal suffixes indicating aspect and mood

Suffixes expressing "to try, attempt"

The suffix -misi-

The verb misi "to try, attempt; to be hungry" is most commonly seen as a compound-forming verb suffix rather than a standalone verb.

In some old established verbs, misi has contracted into a monosyllabic suffix -nsi or -nse.

Lexical derivations involving fusional suffixed -misi-

Below is a table of verbs with various permutations of the affix -misi-. Verb roots marked with an asterisk are those that are no longer commonly seen in isolation. Note that the meanings of some of these verbs are significantly different than what one would expect if they were newly created compounds:

Verb meaning Derivation meaning
pip to be, to exist pinsi- to search for
*sip to sleep sinsi- to try to sleep
*waba to push down wabanse- to compete, try to win
palta to hide paltanse- to try to hide
mi to see minsi to try to see, look carefully

These verbs are parsed as a single unit, meaning that when inflections such as the reflexive -p (which changes to -s in most conjugations) are added, they go after the -nsi/-nse affix rather than dividing it from its verb:

Pom paltansebi.
I tried to hide (it).
Pom paltansesi.
I tried to hide myself.

Emphasizing success

The standalone verb ini means "to succeed". It can be used as a suffix on other verbs to emphasize that an action was successful. This is the function formerly given to the infix -ep-, but ini is always a suffix, never an infix.

Habilitative constructions

The Pabappa verb top indicates that one has the ability to do something.

The nominal stem cognate to top is tos. It is found in some compounds that form nouns, such as pododos "rich", which literally means "able to share". This is a reduced form of earlier phrases such as nappododos and pidi pododos, both meaning "able to share money". But, knowing that money could be traded for lots of other things, people soon began to omit the word meaning "money", and this practice entered the realm of general speech. Thus today, the word for someone who has money to share is simply pododos unless the listener is unclear what the person being spoken of is eager to share.

Padded verbs

Many verbs in Pabappa have historically acquired padding to shield them from the wear and tear associated with sound change.

Verbal padding with the emphatic infix -ep-

The most common padding used is the emphatic infix -ep-, which has mostly become obsolete in this sense in the modern language.

Verbal padding with the iterative aspect marker -ad-

Early Pabappa used an iterative aspect marker, an infix usually reflected as -at- or -ad-, to specify that an action was performed repeatedly or continuously. However, for some verbs, the bare stem already implied such an action, and this infix was added, either for emphasis, or for the sake of protecting the verb from sound changes eroding its unstressed syllables. The iterative aspect marker in modern Pabappa is now a suffix, which is historically related to the infix, so there is no contradiction in a verb which historically swallowed this infix taking on the modern iterative aspect suffix in addition.

Because the consonant -d- is fairly uncommon in Pabappa, words using this padding rarely collide with other words. However, sound changes have molded the infix into many possible shapes; both the vowel and the consonant can assume other forms.

Examples of padded verbs

Below is a table of some common padded verbs. Verbs whose stems end in -p were historically irregular, but most are now treated as ordinary -p-stem verbs. Verbs whose original bare form is no longer in use with its original sense are marked with an asterisk:

Original verb meaning Padded verb meaning Padding used Notes
*pani to grow (up) panida to grow (up) -at- Originally applied to plants only; when applied to animals and humans, often reflexive.
pesto to rot pipi to kill -ep- Originally pipip, but this was mistaken for a reflexive verb and therefore analogized into pipi, where, in recent times, it came to collide with a preexisting and unrelated pipi which already meant "to divide". Note that even the original form pipip was already unusual because the infix was placed on the first morpheme in the word rather than the last. It is cognate to Poswa's pippit.
*pampu to sing pampup[11] to sing -at- Now believed by Pabaps to be a reflexive infection; i.e. "to sing (by) oneself".
pampa to hunt an animal for food pampepa to hunt and kill an animal for food -ep- Mostly used as a verb of motion rather than to describe a career. Often corresponds to English "track", "stalk", or "prey upon".
*sip to worship sipap to worship -at-
*punsa to pull punsada to pull (on) -at- Old sense preserved in punsap "marble"

Sample sentences illustrating the use of padded verbs

Below are some sentences containing padded verbs accompanied by broad translations:

Pom papeppip pipibi.
I killed the animal.[12]
Putar pombimip punsadaba.
The man is pulling on the branch.
Punuparapta wa pom Taborpap pampepabi.
The president and I were hunting for the Taborpans.

Demonstratives and verbs of possession


Pabappa did not inherit its parent language's demonstrative noun suffixes, which were based on ancient vowel alternations and resembled the personal possession markers. Instead, demonstratives in Pabappa are expressed by verbs. These words were adapted from organic roots which originally were cognate to words such as "friend" and "relative".

Demonstratives end in vowel sequences, with -oa being the most common. This is because the stem of the demonstrative ends in -l, and any -l- disappears when a verbal suffix is added immediately after it.

Proximal demonstratives

The proximal demonstrative root is pusil.

Panira pusia masa pabrabop misuba.
This customer needs your help.

Distal demonstratives

The distal demonstrative is blantol.

Verbs of possession


A general purpose verb is pol, which is the same morpheme used in the demonstratives up above. Like other -l-stem verbs, the -l disappears, leaving a vowel hiatus. The rarely used imperative form loses its final -u as well and thus becomes po. Thus one can say

Pom narmip poi.
I had a ponytail.


Another verb implying physical contact is pasuler, which is cognate to the word for banana, pasur. Thus one can say

Pom patamap pasuleba.
I'm holding onto a whip.


A verb describing the act of carrying someone or something is papap. It originally referred specifically to carrying babies, but soon came to be applied to anyone carrying an object in a similar manner to the way in which one would carry a baby. Thus one can say

Pom waplemibap papasa.
I'm carrying my water bottle.


For the act of wearing clothes, the commonest verb is abla.

Blalola taplip ablaba.
The girl is wearing her hat.


To say that one owns something, the most common verb is tipim. Thus one could say

Pom pippabibap tipimpa.
I own my house.
Pom puppabup puba tipimpa.
I don't have a car.


A verb implying passive possession is pupupam. This is originally a derivation from pupupa "to sit on" with the passivizing marker -m. This is used in situations where the speaker may want to get rid of what they have.

Pom wimbabumup pabiapo blepibam pupupampa.
I have ants in my underwear drawer.

Note also that the nominal suffixes -b and -ap can be used as standalone verbs, but are not commonly found in modern Pabappa. Both are disjoint verbs, which conjugate as follows:


The verbal counterpart of the nominal suffix -b is pe-. It is a regular verb despite bearing little resemblance to the nominal affix to which it is related. It generally denotes inherent possession, of a type that the possessor cannot control. For example one might say

Blalola wampopap pirisi peba.
The girl has blonde hair.


The verbal counterpart of the nominal suffix -ap is apo-, which implies purposeful possession:[13]

Upur pospalerbip apoba.
The boy has his soap bubble wand.

Forming verbs from abbreviated sentences

Polysynthetic compounds

Subject-object-verb compounds

Some nouns are actually complete sentences with just the verb endings removed. This could be classified as a type of polysynthesis. Unlike the subject-verb compounds above, SOV compounds generally show transitive action, and are commonly used as verbs. However, because all verbs have a stem which behaves grammatically as a noun, they are nonetheless grouped with the other compounds as nouns.

Polysynthetic compounds are generally used metaphorically, since the subject is generally present in the sentence. Many of these words are very old, and make use of short, sometimes even subsyllabic, morphemes that no longer have any independent use in Poswa as standalone words. For example, the early Pabappa verb pi "to kill" has disappeared from the language as a standalone verb because it coalesced with a verb meaning "to lick". However, it is still found in SOV compounds of this type. [14]

Examples of tripartite SOV compounds

meaning Passive
meaning Verbal
meaning New word meaning
pop sharp object wul fish pi to kill poppi to go fishing
wul fish si ice ti to break open isti to behave as a fish breaking through ice
po hand lara legs pana to create pleasure blana to masturbate
lara legs pana to create pleasure lana to have sex
pul baby isi to guess pulisi children guessing naively; to guess
ta toddler musa to play with each other tansa children playing with each other; as on a playground
po hand tim soap i bubbles; lather pommi to lather someone up with soap; to bathe
pip man so man pana to create pleasure pitsuna gay man
su sun sap snow im to make disappear sussem to melt
uma woman oma woman pana to create pleasure utana lesbian
pup penis wupu bloodshed; pain puppupu to rape
pup penis ma womb su penetrate punsa to impregnate someone; become a father
ma womb pul baby pi kill mappi to have a miscarriage; spontaneous abortion
pampor weapon as human api to repeat pamporapi war; when weapons hurt humans[15]
uma woman so man pana to create pleasure unsuna heterosexual female
pip man oma woman pana to create pleasure piptana heterosexual male
tipa flea lara legs pua to jump, leap tiblaba flea
pus ring sop[16] both hands poba to trap; restrain pusoppoba handcuffs
po palm of the hand pap cheek pe to strike, hit popepe to slap someone in the face
po palm of the hand p(t)ap buttocks (dual) pe to strike, hit poptape to spank; to humiliate
pep hand piri skin, body pe to strike, hit pepripe to punch someone
pup penis pip vagina pana to create pleasure pupipuna to have (penile-vaginal) sexual intercourse
po hand pup penis pana to create pleasure popupana a man masturbating
po hand pip vagina pana to create pleasure popuna a woman masturbating

Choice of morphemes in SOV compounds

While some of the words in the table above may seem uncharacteristically graphic for a language such as Pabappa, their use is perpetuated by the fact that many of them have died out as standalone morphemes in the modern language. For example, although the compound puppupu "to rape" is made up of pup "penis" and wupu "bloodshed, pain", the shortest modern word for penis is pumapi and the word for pain is just one of many such words.

Likewise, if punsa "to impregnate" were re-created using modern morphemes, it would look something like

Pumapi rompa pussap.
Penis penetrates womb.

(Spaces have been inserted to make the word boundaries clearer.)

Likewise, mappi "abortion, miscarriage" would have to be expressed as

Rompa pampap pipi.
Womb kills baby.

Even poppi "to go fishing" would appear as something such as

Papiba ibip pipi.
Sharp object kills fish.

Lastly, some SOV morphemes have become generalized as metaphors such that their S component has effectively lost its meaning. Although pulisi means "to guess", it previously carried the more specific sense "to guess in a childlike way", where pul was a word for baby that came to mean a word for children in general before dying out. If a new compound in this style were created today it could be either

Pampa pulisi.
Baby's guess.


Tambor pulisi.
Child's guess.

Deliberate polysemy

Elements in SOV compounds could be said to be immune from being pushed out of the language due to sound changes and their resulting collisions. That is, many SOV elements are homophonous with many others, and this is not seen as a problem by the speakers because, when combined with the other elements of the compound, the meaning is usually clear. Nevertheless, sometimes elements remain ambiguous even when they are compounded, and the Pabaps use this to create new words with deliberately broad ranges of meaning.


For example, in the table above, pup shows up as a morpheme meaning "penis", but it can have many other meanings:

  • pup "penis", from Babakiam nubap
  • pup "buttocks; to bend", from Babakiam tuap
  • pup "backside, antipode, polar opposite", from Babakiam pupi
  • pup "belly, fat, blubber", from Babakiam ŋuŋe
  • pup "to bounce", from Babakiam fūp
  • pup "to lie down", from Babakiam kuap
  • pup "textbook, learning materials", from Babakiam kupi
  • pup "coast, land's end", from Babakiam ŋep
  • pup "trail, path", from Babakiam pube
  • pup "cup, glass, bottle; drinking container", from Babakiam pupi and puši
  • pup "green plants (of any kind)", from Babakiam pubi
  • pup "to stand in one place", from Babakiam šubup

The first four of these words have given rise to a new merged word meaning "genitals, midsection, private parts", and therefore expanded the range of meanings of words that use it. These words are not etymologically related to each other, but their meanings are close enough that modern speakers often think of them as a single morpheme with a new meaning merging all of the meanings of the older words. Thus, words such as puppo "diaper" can be analyzed with any of the four possible "old word" etymologies or simply declared to be derived from the new merged word.

One could imagine a Pabappa-speaking poet writing a sentence such as

Pom pupum pupum pupil pusi, panimpi pupum pupim pusi pi pupip pibi pusi.
I bounced along the coastal trail on my backside, then I lay down on my belly in the plants and propped my textbook up."

But aside from the fact that the mandatory verb and noun inflections make the sentence much less homophonous than one might expect from looking at the word roots, the sentence would be very difficult to understand even with all these added inflections. It could just as well be translated:

Pom pupum pupum pupil pusi, panimpi pupum pupim pusi pi pupip pibi pusi.
I laid on the trail's coast on my textbook, then I stood on the plants in my belly and bounced my backside up."


Another example of a highly polysemic root is pip. Aside from being the copula "to be" and serving as a conjunction meaning "if", pip can also mean:

  • pip "adult male", from Babakiam pibu
  • pip "unit of measure", from Babakiam bibu
  • pip "baby, cute baby" (a term of endearment), from Babakiam bibu
  • pip "evergreen tree", from Babakiam kiamabu
  • pip "here, in this place", from Babakiam pipu
  • pip "dot, spot, small stain; animal droppings", from Babakiam pitu
  • pip "beak, bill, peninsula", from Babakiam pipu
  • pip "straight, direct; not bent or curved", from Babakiam pižažep

None of these meanings, not even "here, in this place", are used in modern Pabappa outside of compounds whose other elements would make clear the intended meaning of pip in that word. However, use in place names is common. For example, one says wipombi for "pine tree" but there is a land feature named (with the expected sound changes) Pibrola "Pine Ridge".

Monosyllabic words whose vowel is -i- or -u- are especially likely to be polysemic because of sound changes that occurred several thousand years ago turning all diphthongs beginning with a /j/ or /w/ sound into the monophthongs /i/ and /u/ respectively.


Nevertheless, words with central /a/ are also common, since /a/ is the commonest vowel in the language and has been so for a long time:

  • pap "violence, war; to bump an object with one's body", from Babakiam baka and pabu
  • pap "wolf, dog, predator", from Babakiam pap
  • pap "pincers, claws of a crab", from Babakiam pap
  • pap "worker, one who gathers power", from Babakiam baku
  • pap "to bounce", from Babakiam bažap
  • pap "dandelion", from Babakiam papi
  • pap "bird", from Babakiam papi
  • pap "ten (cardinal)", from Babakiam bap
  • pap "sand, small rocks", from Babakiam fap

Note that since Babakiam was spoken 4500 years ago, some words have been homophonous for thousands of years. In the early language, these were distinguished by context. For example, papi "bird" was animate and papi "dandelion" was inanimate. Thus the word for dandelion could never be the subject of a sentence, and confusion was possible only when they appeared as the object. The same was true of pap "wolf" and pap "claw". However, as above, none of these words occurs in any context in modern Pabappa except as part of a compound.

There are fewer examples of polysemy with CV words, partly because such words are more likely to have been polysemous even back in the days of Babakiam, and partly because, due to a smaller possible number of word shapes, Babakiam had fewer such words to begin with. For example, there are only six possible meanings for the morpheme pu, compared to 12 for pup. The same ratio appears for -i-: pi has four meanings, but pip has eight.

Word order

Pabappa has a flexible word order. The dominant order is SOV, meaning that a verb's subject will come first in a sentence, then the object, and then the verb itself. However, a verb can be placed between the subject and object, or even at the beginning of a sentence, to show emphasis.

Forming questions

Qualitative questions

Qualitative questions here are defined as all questions that seek information outside of a yes-no answer; they could be called "open ended questions" instead.

Most qualitative interrogatives are formed from a basic all-purpose question word, pum, which is inflected in various ways to derive the specific meanings required in each sentence.[17]

The commonest forms of pum are:

Pum itself, used with no inflection. This usually corresponds to English "who", "what", or "which".

Pibop, with the accusative ending -p, which also corresponds to English "who", "what", or "which" but refers to the objects of transitive verbs. It, thus, sometimes also corresponds to English "whom".

Pibop pom wodobi?
What did I just step in?

Pibos, with the genitive ending -s, and sound changes in the stem associated with the addition of the ending. This usually corresponds to English "when".

Pibom, with the locative ending -m. This usually corresponds to English "where".

Pibur, with the instrumental ending and its associated sound changes. This usually corresponds to English "How? By what means?"

Conjugation tables

Vowel stems

All verbs whose stems end in a vowel take endings beginning with -b. Below is the verb pepu "to bend, fold":

pepu Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) pepubi pepuba pepubu
(Subjunctive) pepubep pepubap pepubop

Since Pabappa verbs are not marked either for person or for transitivity, pronouns must be present for context. However, when two pronouns come together in a word, they are elided into a single word stressed on the initial syllable. Thus for example:

Pom pubulap pepubi.
I folded the shorts.
Pomap pepubi mupadarna pubom.
I bent you over a barrel.

Note that the subjunctive forms are the same as those of the 3rd person Poswa intransitive subjunctives, but that, as above, they are in fact derived from the transitives.

-p stems

Verbs whose stems end in -p change the p to s and omit the -b-. Below is the conjugation of pupimip "to sit (up)":

pupimip Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) pupimisi pupimisa pupimisu
(Subjunctive) pupimisep pupimisap pupimisop
Pom pupimisa urtam.
I'm sitting on the floor.

Note that many verb stems ending in -p are reflexive verbs. For example, the verb pepu "bend, fold" above also functions as a reflexive verb, pepup. Its meaning is not "to bend oneself over" as one might expect, but rather "to sleep":

Pom pepusa urtam.
I'm sleeping on the floor.

The pepu that means "bend over" and the pepup that means "sleep" were historically two unrelated words that coalesced with each other due to sound changes and came to be seen as a single verb. Generally, someone wishing to speak about bending over in the reflexive voice, if the context was unclear, would avoid the reflexive and instead say something such as

Pom pibibibap pepubi.
I bent my body.

-m stems

Verbs whose stems end in -m keep the -m and add -p- instead of *-b. Below is the conjugation of pudem "to ask (for information)":

Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) pudempi pudempa pudempu
(Subjunctive) pudempep pudempap pudempop
"Mom," blumpur pudempi, "pampabum patsa sana poplosa?"
"Mom," asked the child, "where do babies come from?"

-s stems

Verbs whose stems end in -s keep the s and omit the -b-. Below is the conjugation of wapipas "to wall out, seal from within":

Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) wapipasi wapipasa wapipasu
(Subjunctive) wapipasep wapipasap wapipasop

Note, however, that verbs ending in -s do not always correspond to nouns ending in -s, because historically all final -s was dropped. Nouns lost their -s but verbs often did not because the stem of a verb in Pabappa is never used in its bare form, and thus the -s was never word-final.

-l stems

Verbs whose stems end in -l drop the -l and also omit the -b-. Below is the conjugation of parsappel "to growl in anger, to bare one's teeth":

Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) parsappe parsappea parsappeu
(Subjunctive) parsappep parsappeap parsappeop
Pom parsappea!
I'm angry!

Note that the past tense indicative form of the verb ends in -e, not the expected *-ei. This is due to a sound change that took place in recent times, shortly after the general loss of all preexisting final -e. Thus, the past tense form of -l-stem verbs is one of the very few places in Pabappa where final -e is found.

Thus one can say

Parlapsi pop parsappe.
The dog growled at me.

Although -e- is the commonest vowel to precede a stem-final -l, all five vowels can do so. The same pattern above is followed for words ending in -il. Using the verb pupil- "to be excited, to tremble":

Pom pupia!
I'm excited!
Blalola pupi.
The girl was excited.

Likewise, for words ending in -ol or -ul, it is the imperative final -u that disappears. Using the example of putol "snow":

It's snowing.
Let it snow!

However, stem-final -al occurs only in loanwords and a few native words that have recently lost a final -e, and therefore these words add an -e to the stem and then conjugate as vowel stems. Using blal "to be sick", one can say:

Pom blaleba.
I'm sick.

And so on.

-r stems

Verbs whose stems end in -r change the r to b and thus resemble vowel stems. Below is the conjugation of piner "to drink (alcohol)":

Past Present Imperative
(Indicative) pinebi pineba pinebu
(Subjunctive) pinebep pinebap pinebop
Pom pampomop pinebi.
I drank the wine.
Pom paropomop pinebi porlap.
I drank the beer too.

Historically, many verb stems that once ended in -r have dropped the consonant and now end in a vowel. This is because Pabappa's verbs are very rarely used in bare form, and therefore the only situations in which the -r actually appeared were compounds, which were usually nouns. An example of this is parta "to chase down; to run and catch" which comes from an older form partar and is cognate to Poswa poto.

Irregular verbs

See Pabappa irregular verbs.

Pabappa has very few irregular verbs. Since all of Pabappa's verbs, even the irregulars, are internally consistent, it could be said that the irregular verbs are merely suppletive, with one stem replacing the other, or that they are actually two verbs that share a meaning. But by convention, verbs of this type are nonetheless considered irregular.

Non-accusative verbs

Pabappa has inherited many locative verbs, cognate to those of Poswa. However, because Pabappa has eliminated the distinction between transitive and intransitive verb markings, there is no grammatical distinction between these verbs and the ordinary accusative verbs other than that they govern the locative case rather than the accusative case.

The full list of prefixes corresponding to the six core noun cases is below:

Case Prefix Sample
Nominative a A hypothetical category set up by those who consider nouns to be simply a type of verb.
Accusative pi lapa "to fall" Nearly all verbs are pi verbs.
Locative mi pam "to be (deep) inside" Always follows directly after a word in the locative case.
Possessive si Generally contains verbs in which neither the subject nor the object are affected by the action.
Essive i
Instrumental o

Locative verbs

Locative verbs are those that govern the locative case on their object rather than the more common accusative. Most locative verbs show physical motion or location, but some can be thought of as metaphorical relations.

Locative verbs undergo the post-nasal mutation, as in Poswa, and therefore must begin with a vowel or one of four consonants: /p b m n/, as these are the only consonants that can occur after /m/. Most locative verbs begin with /p/, and only a few begin with a vowel. Those that do begin with a vowel generally trace back to earlier forms beginning with m-, since most other vowel-initial words in Pabappa trace back to forms beginning with š- or ž-, in which case the initial consonants were preserved by the post-nasal mutation.

Use of words of motion and location

Loxcative verbs are often combined with discrete words describing location. Pipi means "sun", but it is also used as a word meaning "up, above, on top" when context is clear. Its opposite, pupi, in general context means "underground", but can also mean "down, below, underneath".

Table of common locative verbs

Description Bare morpheme Conjugated form
(1st person)
Adessive pu Babakiam bubu; not used in Poswa. This may make more sense as a superessive, however
Inessive (1) pam Expresses "deep inside; completely surrounded by" rather than just in
Inessive (2) bade Expresses "deep inside; completely surrounded by" rather than just in
Subessive pa Cognate to Poswa pappa. In this word, mapp --> mp. Generally, used only with the -sapo- augment
Illative pupsa [18]
Lative aspo Babakiam mesa ku; syncope not possible because of previously existing initial consonant
Elative pi pi < kivu
Ablative (animate) pappa c. Poswa papwa
Perlative (1) pina Provides the meaning of "across, through". From Babakiam kina; not used in Poswa
Perlative (2) bado[19] Provides the meaning of "along, parallel to". From Babakiam ŋatu
Pertingent (1) papa c. Poswa pwa
Pertingent (2) pedo[20] Babakiam bismibu; not used in Poswa
Superessive pisasa marks position on top of an object; original form šafa
Antessive pisa[21] marks position in front of an object; cognate to the word for nose
Postessive pisapa marks position behind an object; cognate to the word for back (of body)
Circumessive (1) parlo < kauyu; c. Poswa poly
Circumessive (2) buda

Note that these verbs commonly appear with the inchoative affixes -ppo-/-(s)apo- between the root and the inflectional ending. Thus, "I got in" is not *Pom pampi, but Pom pansapobi. The monosyllabic forms in particular are almost always found with this augment.

Pabappa is more likely to omit the word describing the manner of motion than is Poswa (or English). This in part is due to the greater number of syllables required to express verbs of motion in Pabappa, particularly those words which require the inchoative affix in addition. For example, in Poswa, one can say Pipipwi "I went up", but the equivalent sentence in Pabappa could only be something like

Pom pipippobi.


Interjections can be considered to be either a subset of the nouns or a subset of the verbs. However, going far enough back in the history of the language, the "verb" analysis is shown to be the only correct one, as the nouns that resemble interjections were themselves originally verbs.

Many interjections are used to express pain and unpleasant emotions. Interjections have a lesser role in Pabappa than they do in Poswa, and the Pabaps consider the Poswobs' frequent use of interjections to be a prime example of their cultural impoliteness.

Saying hello and goodbye

Words for hello

There are two common words for "hello"; both words use fossilized verb endings dating from a stage when Pabappa marked person on its verbs.

To greet a person entering a room, returning home, or otherwise moving towards the speaker, one would say

Welcome back!
Nice to see you again!

This word has been in use for more than 8000 years and has cognates such as Poswa tubabo Khulls ġʷiṭŏḳo ("Welcome!") with the same meaning and range of usage. Unlike these other words, however, the Pabappa form uses otherwise outdated morphology and cannot be analyzed as a verb.

For all other situations, a similar and equally ancient verb is used:

I see you!
Hi there!
I'm back!

The original meaning of this word was "to see, spot, locate someone or something new". The Khulls cognate of this greeting is ʕʷusàḳo.

Words for goodbye

The commonest expression for "goodbye" is very similar in meaning to the English word "hello":

Be healthy!
Good luck!


  1. Historically pis.
  2. Previously wrote It behaves like a normal verb except that it can contract at the end of another word and lose the -i- vowel, thus becoming a suffix that would in isolation be impossible under the phonological rules of modern Pabappa. (Although words beginning with ps- were common in earlier stages of Pabappa, these were gone before the sound shift that removed the -i- of pis took place, so it did not follow the further sound changes that the ps- words had.).
  3. Earlier, I wrote: The C₁VC₂C₂ ---> C₁C₂ rule creates the contracted forms, and thus it is not just the -i-, but the -is- in the middle of the verb that drops out when the stress is removed. Normally, this change would not have taken place, because modern Pabappa's -ss- is generally derived from an earlier -sp-, but the copula was analogized from alternate forms in which an extra -i- had been inserted, thus leading to a different proto-form. It might actually be the other way around: the stressed forms would have a single s, and the compressed form would be from the originally transitive "piss" form. That is to say, CVCC compresses but CVC doesnt.
  4. Earlier wrote: Use genitive? By analogy with time words. If pip changes to pipes, I will change nip to nipes as well to keep the rhyme, even though etymologically this is unsound. Note that it is -es rather than -is because the words did not analogize the shift the way common nouns did.
  5. Again, not sure here. I could write this sentence in Poswa more confidently. Nipes was formed by analogy; it is not etymologically correct.
  6. Note: This is a true -u verb, not cognate to the Babakiam word pipu (which would have become pip in Pabappa).
  7. Check this later.
  8. Earlier I had pepup here, and wrote: I will change this out for something else, since while Pabappa survives with a great number of homophones, having "sleep" and "knife" be the same bothers me, even if it's just a specific type of knife. Poswa's "poppup" cannot be used here since Pabappa does not have the "po-" intensive prefix of Poswa. UPDATE: Pepup was basically a mistake anyway, as although it is not impossible to derive this from pis, it assumes the word was used in unstressed position. The new word is pipup. Previously, I had written: The new word pompup is from Bābākiam bumbubap and its Poswa cognate would be bombwap.
  9. This is actually Poswa paepo. Pabappa dropped the final -r from the earlier form pabar because it never occurred without a verb ending after it, and the verbal endings for -a-stems and -ar-stems were the same.
  10. Sorry!! Im not just being perverse. I've checked the source and found that pubes is, indeed, the only possible correct outcome for this word. (Previously I had thought that it could have been regularized to pubis or pobos.)
  11. bamu žubatu
  12. Earlier glossed as rhinoceros, but this could mean almost any large animal.
  13. originally listed as ap-, but with a note that it was an irregular verb.
  14. From Poswa: Note that the accusative ending -p on the object is often not present; this is because the OV portion of the word can be parsed as another SV compound in which the inanimate subject is grammatically active but syntactically passive. However, if the object of the sentence is animate, it will take the -p.
  15. spelled pampobapi in pink notebook
  16. could regularlize this to "pup"
  17. Consider using pubum instead, whose inflected forms would probably be puppop, puppos, puppom etc. (from Babakiam bubiŋus etc)
  18. This is cognate to, and phonologically identical to, the perfective aspect marker, which might be a bad choice. Pabappa uses an entirely separate root for the illative.
  19. earlier listed bap
  20. Earlier listed pep, in part due to temerity against typing pedo into the table.
  21. full form pisarsu is archaic. Also, this collides with an alternative form of the subessive, from original šaba