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I might try to move this to my website as a "blog" even though it's more difficult to edit old entries there.

Double possessive marking

June 4, 2020
  • Wupampombe! means "I made a mess for you!" where /-mb-/ "borrowed, temporarily owned" stands in for the depersonalizing morpheme /-nn-/ which becomes /-mb/ by regular sound change when a person marker is added. There is no tense marking available however.

This was inspired by a recent thread on the ZBB in which another poster's conlang (who no longer actively spots here) had multiple ways of marking possession.

The /-mb-/ form might take on dative syntax when it is used as the outermost possessive marker in a chain of at least two. It does not have this sense when used alone. For example, pumpatombe means "reward you (temporarily) hold", but pumpapombe means "my reward for you (you own it now, and it's for you to keep forever)". This is a consequence of the two origins of /-mb-/.


Apr 27, 2020
  • lapab "crime" could be reanalyzed as lapapem since the D-stem, probably the most commonly used, would still be the same.

Apr 12, 2020
  • wabumpa "house" could be reanalyzed as wabi-mp-a, "the ____ that he made". But note that the two /mp/'s were of different origins, one being earlier /mpš/ and the other being earlier /mtš/. The date at which these two converged is important.

Assorted sentences

Mar 31, 2020
I see what you're talking about.
Pito, popwafevos.
I don't know what you're talking about.

In the second sentence, the -vo- is syntactically redundant, but typically used for emphasis. (It is possible that Future Poswa will reinterpret this as a new type of transitive verb alongside the inherited -abo, -ažo, etc.) It would still be correct to use popwafes, and say

Pito, popwafes.

An alternative wording for the latter sentence is

Pitup popwafešo.

Here the 1st person marker -o has been moved from the first word to the second.

Serial verb ordering

Sometimes, changing the marking order of a pair of serial verbs can make great semantic changes.

Pitos, vabo.
With my eyes closed, I see you.
Pito, vabos.
I don't know if I can see you.

However, these patterns only appear for very common short verbs that have wide semantic range. For most verbs, the ordering is much freer. For example, one can say

Sappos, šumpobi.
While I lit the fire, I told a story.

Which would be essentially equivalent in meaning to

Sappi šumpobos.
I lit a fire as I told the story.

Qualifiers and precision

Plessios pettubo.

I feel sick. (I think I am sick.)


I feel sick. (Internally.)

As is typically the case in Poswa, communicating clearly is more important than being polite, and so the sentence with the more precise meaning is the shorter one, and the one where the speaker is unsure of themselves is twice as long.

Pabappa verbal person marking


It is possible that Pabappa could retain the inherited post-Play verbal person markers -y -e -a (sic) well into its separate evolutionary history, even if they are ultimately lost by the time of classical Pabappa.

If they were left to evolve naturally, then excluding the verb stems ending with vowels they would emerge in classical Pabappa as -o~a~i~Ø (1st person), -i~Ø (2nd person), and -a (3rd person). This pattern would favor having /o i a/ as the three person markers if there is an opportunity to regularize the paradigm.

Note however that this idea would completely ruin Pabappa's verbal tense marking, and would require the past tense to be marked with -m and perhaps the imperative with -p (unless the imperative becomes 2nd person only). Since it is important to some aspects of the language that the past tense, at least in 3rd person, be marked with a simple -i, the idea of using vowels for person marking is unlikely to be useful.

Pabappa's augmented possessives


Pabappa certainly has augmented possessives like Poswa's B-ob-V "said by" and may even have some split possessives like Poswa's ši B-ob-V "spoken aloud by". What is not settled is whether they always end in /-i/ like other possessives or always end in /-a/ like other (present tense) verbs. Those currently listed in the dictionary are shown with no ending at all, .... although they happen to all end in /a/, this is not the verbal ending, but simply part of the stem.

Spondee C-stems

A rare two-word phrase formula exists, in which a bare A-stem, typically monosyllabic, is used before a C-stem. These are identical in meaning to ordinary C-stems, but have a wider range of expression. For example, one can say

Tšas polpio.
The nation I am president of.

The construction tšas ...-C-V is etymologically a B-STEM, because it comes from the now-obsolete word /tšasta/ "president", but /ta/ > /a/ after B-stems in Play and therefore it was analogized into the previously existing generic possessive C-stem paradigm.

Some spondees are in such common use that they are combined into single words after all and thus become morphologically opaque. For example, a synonym of /tšas polpio/ is

The nation I am president of.

Where the word for nation was different and has been compressed into just /mʷb/ over thousands of years. Both are in use, with different stylistic effects.

Spondee B-stems are also possible; these make use of both the "interrupted verbs" and the B-mp-V constructions detailed below. But these are difficult to understand in rapid speech and used mostly by scholars. For example, one could theoretically say tšas polpunompo "the nation I made, as I was president of it".

Most of these fronted words are semantically transparent, but some have lost independent use. For example, tšas does not mean president, but rather "victory", and is not in common use as an ordinary verb.

the ___ I made

The construction B-mp-V "the ____ I made" (note the lack of a Ø) can be used for all objects, not just for family relations. Thus just as maparampo "the girl I made" can be used for "my young daughter", wappuvampo can be used for "the shoe I made". This affix is identical to the very semantically different polite translative possessive, but will collide in only a few forms because this affix attaches to a B-stem whereas the other attaches to a C-stem.

Interrupted verbs

High Poswa has interrupted verbs not commonly used in standard speech, but sometimes found in stock phrases and in poetry. See hyperbaton for something similar in an IE language. These could be derived from SOV constructions, but importantly the head noun is the object.

This creates words like mapofumpamba "the house (she) loves like a girl would". It does not mean "the house the girl loves". In essence, there is an interrupted verb mapo-_-amb- "to love like a girl", into which wabumpa "house" is infixed, and then sound changes are applied. This is for High Poswa; few people would use a word like this outside of poetry. It is a C-stem.

Because the head noun's morpheme is in the middle of the word, it is difficult for words like this to be understood on sight, and they are used mostly in proper names and in stylistic speech where a word may be learned once and used many times.

The proper way to say "the house the girl loves" is maparas wabumpamba. This cannot be combined into a single word, even in scholarly speech, because it involved two definite nouns (the house and the girl).

These words could be also compared to English constructions like "hair day", an occasionally used derivation from the more common phrase bad hair day.

Interrupted verbs cannot be used without a middle morpheme because there would be no C-stem for the rightward piece to attach to. If the middle morpheme of /mapofumpamba/ were deleted, the result would be simply mapabamba "the girl she loves", not *"who she loves like a girl would".

High Poswa

March 21, 2020

Poswa has speech registers after all, but instead of basing them on politeness and social status, they are based on scholarly achievements. High Poswa is the form of the language used by the scholars, and it has no loanwords at all, and also has a mechanical grammar which is both extremely complex and extremely regular. Many scholars analyze High Poswa as entirely lacking parts of speech; everything from interjections to conjunctions to proper names can be classified as a verb. High Poswa also uses "tricks" to allow speakers to eliminate all instances of the velar stops /k g kʷ gʷ/, which are very rare in the standard language but nonetheless still present at low frequencies even in native words. When these phonemes do occur in High Poswa, it is for deliberate effect, an intent to make the word stand out from the rest of the sentence.

Low Poswa is the common language, and it is less pure and less regular than High Poswa. Even so, the two registers are much closer together than those of many other languages in similar situations; for example, Low Poswa can be analyzed as almost lacking parts of speech, since the only inarguably non-verb words in Low Poswa are proper names. Though not all Poswobs can speak High Poswa, they all can readily understand even the most esoteric High Poswa constructions. Furthermore, there is only one Low Poswa form, rather than a mess of many dialects each with their own features. This is because the original diversity of the language became smoothed out by trade and internal migration, leaving only a few relics (such as phonemic /þ ð f v/ instead of just /f v/) in the mountains bordering the territory of Pabappa.

Speaking High Poswa is considered a skill comparable to writing poetry. Anyone who speaks High Poswa also speaks Low Poswa because even the scholars believe that the common language is better fit for small children and therefore learning High Poswa requires learning Low Poswa beforehand. Scholars who speak and write in High Poswa are often knowledgeable about neighboring languages such as Pabappa and Icecap Moonshine, but they keep Poswa pure of all influences from other languages, including vocabulary, semantics, and grammar.

All Poswobs consider High and Low Poswa to be merely two slightly different forms of the same language, and not two separate languages. Scholars borrow Low Poswa constructions for artistic effect, and common people borrow High Poswa constructions as set phrases or for stylistic reasons as well.

VSO constructions

See [1]. Poswa has VSO as a minor word order, grammatically legal in all cases but typically reserved for a certain few verbs.

New words

  • pappatampaba "hand sanitizer", from Play pappa pa tam fiba mia. Literal meaning is "medicine's sour liquid in a bottle". A word for bottle is tuspuše, but its use is optional because the inherited suffix -ba indicates bottled items. A new word for bottle could be coined from Play puši ya aa which would be pužža in Poswa.

As always, words derived from this long word can express a multitude of concepts, such as

Because I have a bottle of hand sanitizer.

ERRATA and folk etymologies

This section contains errors I've found while away from my home/. Better to use this than to use my userpage.

Mar 13, 2020
  • /tumpepa/ "writing surface" is probably wrong; consider tumpeta.
Mar 12, 2020
  • bwalap "interfere, upset" is correct, but should have a variant form bwaža for C- and D- stems. The Play etymology is vanua yabu aa "throw up a mess".
  • Could use pwapa for "boat", replacing *pupappa. Note though that there is already puffa, with a similar etymology; the only problem with this word is that it ends in a double classifier, /pa āa/.
Mar 9, 2020

The anomalous shift of the Gold dual marker ʕuk > Play pup (and Poswa pop) is correct; it is due to the fact that /ʕ/ > /g/ in immediate post-tonic position, which this morpheme typically was, and then /gu/ > /gʷu/. Both shifts were unconditional. The other /ʕuk/ did not shift because it was ordinarily stressed. However, this means that all of the stored irregular duals must be regularized, and therefore there is no need to list separate dual forms for any morpheme.

Need to explain, though, how the stress came to shift towards the root in the first place. In any case, a path must be made such that Play's dual marker derives from Gold gʷuk, not *ʕuk.
Mar 6, 2020
  • /puppepem/ "crush, smother, smear" should be poppepem.
Mar 5, 2020
  • The entry šumpap "fantasy, imaginary story" cannot be derived from the Play etymology šem ves bap unless the compounding date was recent, but because it (minus the reflexive ending) is used in other morphemes such as pušumba "teach", the compounding date must be early. Additionally, the B, C, and D stems are all misspelled in the dictionary, having an /e/ where there should be a /u/, and even apart from that, all three point to the shorter Play phrase šem bap, without the middle word ves "voice". This entry must be reworked, along with the word pušumba "teach" and another word for teach, pwumpu, that in turn derives from /pušumba/.
  • The entry šemmap "to act out of hatred", deriving from Play šibip map, is likely to occur mostly as the second morpheme in a compound, and therefore would likely contract to šemap, with D-stem šemp- and contracted B- and C- stems as well.
  • bambop "abort" probably has the morphemes in the wrong order.
  • pašti "pull" can lose its /š/ in all four stems in the assumption that it was often unstressed. The C- and D-stems would be paf-, which is already *extremely* polysemic, but the word could be padded on one or both sides by precising morphemes. Note that no morpheme meaning hand was present in this word even in Play. It could even be reanalyzed as pap "crab's claw", since the two meanings are semantically similar and yet have no potential for ambiguity, since humans don't have claws and crabs don't have hands. pafa "thorny plants" should probably be scrubbed.


Mar 6, 2020

Any verb with an incorporated inanimate object and an implied 1st or 2nd person patient automatically implies possession. That is, "cut hair" means "cut your hair", etc. I expect all or nearly all polysynthetic languages do this, but I never mentioned it explicitly on Poswa verbs or anywhere else.

Manner affixes

Mar 5, 2020

This is the verbal affix most tightly bound to the verb. It comes before all other affixes, even those that are grammatically part of the same class of morphemes.

  • Make a class of verbs that always adds še "to invest effort; to try hard", as a semantically sharpened version of -p- "do deliberately". This could describe actions that were forceful without reference to whether they were successful. This is simply a compound and not a derivational category. Note that the D-stem form is šož-, homophonous with "correct, right" and "to become", and that neither of those would likely ever be confused with this word because they occur in complementary contexts.
  • This morpheme will also occur as an optional suffix to semantically labile verbs. For example, mumpi "I waited" contrasts with mumpoži "I waited impatiently" (I wanted to cut in line, but I forced myself to wait). Likewise, wofopi mumpebi "I shut the door" contrasts with wofopi mumpepolebi "I shut the door forcefully" (it was a very windy day, so I had to push very hard). Note that the suffix attaches to the A-stem, not the D-stem, so the /š/ will drop out more often than not, but the stem of the main verb may be longer than when the verb is used in bare form.
  • Heavily homophonous verb stems like /paba/ are the most likely to sprout new forms where the affix becomes mandatory. For example, /paba/ "square, tile; to cut in half" could become pape, with D-stem /papož-/, which as of now has no other assigned meaning. This would be a more reliable solution than simply adding the already polysemous -b- suffix which indicates violent movements.

Examples of this are below:

  A-stem                Narrow meaning                            D-stem (1st person transitive past)
  puppu                 to lay something down                     pupporebi
  puppupem*             to lay something down violently           puppubebi
  puppupop              to lay something down deliberately        puppupebi
  puppuše        to try to lay something down with great effort   puppušolebi
  puppufemep*    to try to lay something down                     puppufempebi

*This may actually be a reflexive, which would mean it would not use the A-stem at all, but rather would appear as part of a serial verb construction. The hypothetical D-stem form would be pupporebopempi.


For diachronic reasons, -pop mostly occurs after A-stems historically ending in one of /p m l r/, with the latter two appearing as vowels in modern Poswa. /puppu/ is an /r/-stem, as revealed by its transitive D-stem conjugation. These four consonants created clusters which blocked the sound changes that took place in the words where only a single consonant occurred at the morpheme boundary. /s/ did not block the sound change because it disappeared in this position; the original form of /-pop/ was /-bup/, and /sb/ > /b/ in all positions in all Play words.

Words that historically ended in /-s/ or a vowel undergo sound changes when the affix /-pop/ is added, in some cases drastic ones. For example, /pappunu/ "to energize, excite" was a /u/-stem in Play, and instead of *pappunupop one would say pappunwop "to energize deliberately", with the /o/ shifting to /e/ in the D-stem form. These highly divergent forms are learned and memorized by Poswob students because they are partly predictable from the C-and D-stems, but nevertheless, the affixation of /-pop/ in particular is less common for these words than it is for the four historical consonant-stem groups. Words that do use the affix are typically semantically labile: for example, buma "hear" contrasts with buvop "listen".

An alternate form of the affix with a hard /b/ exists, deriving historically from Play va nuvip, but this is less common as well because in its transitive forms it often merges with the ordinary reflexive form of the bare stem, which almost never happens for the four consonant stems.

A few /s/-stems could lose the /s/ but then behave like the /p m l r/ words after all, by using the fortified suffix and the /su/ > /ps/ > /p/ sound change path.

This is not a reflexive morpheme, even though it looks like one. Thus, it has its own reflexive form, though it is rarely used.

*Historically /pene/, not /pem/.

U verbs: a blind path in Poswa

Poswa could use verb affixes such as -mpiebabo "I use my arm", and give them widely divergent semantic definitions. For example the /mp/ comes from a word meaning thorn, which followed the semantic path

thorn ---> pointed object ---> elbow ---> arm

And then stayed with the meaning "arm" because that was the most useful.

NOTE, it is possible that the suffix should be /V(rV)bV/ instead of /v(bV)bV/. Need to confirm by looking at Play.

All U verbs use bisyllabic forms for the intransitives, and therefore trisyllabic forms for the transitives. These morphemes are -ibo -ube -oba for the ordinary verbs' -o -e -a. Thus it is not a simple infix; it is conjugated, and with a vowel pattern used nowhere else. Historically they are derived from instrumentals, but the instrumentals' bare forms evolved different vowels and therefore the knowledge of the etymology is preserved for scholars and not for every individual speaker.

NOTE: I came up with this idea after 4 months of not working on Poswa, however, so I may be overlooking a reason why I didnt try this before. It may even be better to simply say that this category does not exist. EVEN SO, the fact that these verbs use a unique set of suffixes means that they can exist alongside the ordinary verbs without coalescence, and therefore forever remain theoretical.


These are called U-stem verbs or U verbs because in Play the stems typically ended with /u/ or /ū/. They are bipersonal verbs, but both person markers must be the same. Thus, forms like *-ubo -obe -iba do not occur even though diachronically they would be just as legitimate as the forms that do occur.[1]

Many U verbs imply privilege on the part of the agent, particularly that the agent is performing an action that other parties would not be able to do.

If they exist, they would be theoretically an open class, since the derivation of each U affix from a given content word is formulaic and cannot produce an ungrammatical form. However, many forms would collide, and it is likely that only a small number of such forms would be used outside of poetry and perhaps some specialized fields. (For example, the same morpheme that for humans could mean "by arm" could for some animals mean "by claw" since the original morpheme is in fact a word for thorn.)


Most U morphemes would be short ones, such as -š- "by key", which could take either a literal use (e.g. opening a door) or a metaphorical one (performing an action that others cannot do). A possible polysemic affix would be -p-, which could mean "by finger/hand", "by water", "by womb", "by eye", and up to 32 other lesser used meanings (that is, anything whose C-stem is a bare /p/). Even more /p/ would occur when other stems such as /š/ occur after a stem ending in a labial consonant.

Some further potential examples, with generous translations:


I drank wine (because I can).
I fell down. (By accident; this derives from tane "rump, tail" and thus means literally "i fell down with my bottom")
I traveled by animal. (/re/ "animal for riding" ---> /rož/ > /ož/) If this verb came into common use it could theoretically contract to /tipʷp-/ through regular syncope, but note that there are no other examplesthat i can remember of this contraction in the language.
If the affix "by animal" gets grammaticalized, it could shift its meaning widely as have the others, and come to mean "with help". Though again, note that there is already a convenient way of expressing this in Poswa without using a U-verb: the D-stem affix _____ (not at home now so cant list it)

These are all etymologically repetitious, and could be replaced by "normal" forms with the shorter verb suffix, since the U form occupies one extra syllable while adding no new meaning. Thus the entire category of U verbs survives through idiomatic use only.

Other potential U verbs

Most of these use zero-syllable U morphemes, and therefore appear as though they were ordinary atomic word roots. Even with a one-syllable U morpheme, though, this could be achieved if the preceding root were also one syllable or was of a type that offers syncope when compounded.


  1. Ø-p-U to give birth (A zero stem verb. Only if prioritizing the meaning "womb" over other body parts such as the eyes, hands, etc is valid; note that there already exists an ordinary verb /v-/ "to see", so the primary competitor at least for human agents is the "hand" meaning.)
    The two meanings could nonetheless coexist side by side since there would be very little opportunity for confusion in a running conversation: people rarely give birth to objects that they also hold in their hands, unless they are doing both together. The womb/hand dual use would survive for thousands of years not only because of the small overlap, but because they were phonetically different until a few hundred years before the classical Poswa stage.
  2. pa-p-U or pap-p-U to menstruate (same as "give birth" but with "blood" as the stem; note that many words for menstruation already exist such as /paepi-/)
    As /papp-/ means "to predict rain", this could be a rare example of a double entendre.
  3. pwum-p-U to teach (contraction of /pušum-ba-š-U/)
    On the surface, this looks like it could be reanalyzed as either "using the baby in one's womb" or "using one's military alliance", both of which have C-stems of /pwump-/.
  4. la-p-U to teach (contraction of /labi-š-U/)
    Some Moonshine speakers would analyze the /p/ here as certainly meaning "womb" and then say that these are feminine verbs that prove that only women should be allowed to teach.
  5. sae-p-U to masturbate (/sala-p-U/; here, /p/ really does mean hand instead of womb)
  6. pipu-p-U or pipʷ-p-U to masturbate (same as above but uses /pipi/ "sun; to be happy"; note the shift of /i/ > /u/ before a wet syllable)
  7. pim-p-U to use what one is holding up. This is likely to be one of the most concrete U-stems, though it is homophonous with "to use one's bubble",[2] which could suggest metaphorical meanings and might spread to non-U-stems. Note that the words for bubble and cloud are not homophonous as nouns, only merging when used in their C- and D- stem forms.
  8. wu-p-U to stand very close to a person in order to block their path and intimidate them. From /wep/ "hips".


  1. Ø-b-U unlikely to see much use; massively polysemous, second only to /p/. Possible meanings include (to use (one's)): handheld object; social play, cooperative work; bottled object; beach life; crime; different, stand-out, out of place; cooperative plural; palm of the hand; whole body;[3] artificial light, star; protector, giant; lake; coastal plain. However, the fact that /b/ is the cooperative plural's C-stem may kill off the opportunity to use /b/ with U-stems just by itself.
  2. tam-b-U drunk on wine. A literal use. Homophony with plural of /tam/ "grape" not a problem, but note the ordinary verb tamb- "to whip", which might restrict this to intransitive use or to final position in a serial verb construction or a compound.


  1. Ø-š-U to use a key. Likely not used often in bare form. Based on /š/ meaning "voice", this could be used in place of /pyp/ to mean "cellphone", essentially calling cellphones keys.

Note that some verbs listed above under /p/ are in fact derived from /š/ but the meanings have shifted to the point that they were reanalyzed.

  1. šae-š-U to stand very close to a person in order to block their path and intimidate them
  2. wir-š-U to inspect, investigate someone; to come uninvited. From wiwi- "to visit, be a guest".


  1. Ø-ž-U mouse; flower; birth; touch, whole body; marriage, wedding; arm, hand; bubble, foam, buoy; hill; filth, pollution, dirt.
    The sense of "touch" probably overwhelms all others; it would add to any verb the meaning of "by direct skin contact". Could be used with verbs that already indicate the act of touching something to clarify a literal meaning or as an intensifier. But note that this will have a reflex of /b/ after stems ending in labials, sometimes shifting to /Ø/. This would create homophones with the original word, and thus make the alternation meaningless. For example, bebb- "pinch, grope" would simply shift to itself, unless the thematic vowel were kept intact for emphasis; this is not normally done, so it would need to have another padding morpheme such as /pa/, which would then shift this to /b/, producing stems like /bebbab-/ which would still be homophonous with other words because that /b/ also exists.

This will never be confused with the "by feel" evidential D-V-ž-V. For example, "I captured it by touching it" is wapižibebi and "I know by feel that I captured it" is wafeboži, where even the stem is different. Since they occupy different slots, they could even be combined, though use for such a form would be rare: wapižibeboži I know by feel I that I captured it by touching it".


  1. Ø-dž-U to use money. Likely literal uses predominate when used with the zero stem. In fact, it could simply mean "to buy", but note that there is already a separate grammatical means of expressing this: the "polite inchoative possessive" C-V-Ø-mp-V. The greatest difference between the two is that Ø-dž-U is verbal and implies an action that cost money, while C-V-Ø-mp-V implies that a noun is the object being purchased. Furthermore, these two affix complexes cannot be stacked with each other in either order.

Outside of the zero stem, this morpheme triggers so many mutations that its presence is often unnoticed. However, it *does* appear as a true /dž/ after a monosyllabic CV stem, including one that is only made so because of final consonant deletion triggered by the addition of /dž/. Thus hypothetical šudž- "to buy and eat ice cream".

The content word piššež- "buy" can be padded with this and turn into pišši-U, actually losing a letter with the addition of the new affix. Since this literally means "buy with money", its use is emphatic, implying the agent bought something that their listeners might not have been able to afford.

Compare, for example,

Poppapi piššelebi.
Poppapi piššiebebi.
I bought a book.

Other verbs could use the /dž/ in a manner similar to /š/, implying that the agent was only able to do something because they had wealth to spend.

  1. fob-i-U, to eat a paid-for meal. Compare the bare stem fob- "to eat".

Other potential uses of /dž/ could be such as

  1. sab-i-U, to solicit sex from a prostitute. A literal use, since the etymology is nothing more than "have sex by using money".
  2. sal-i-U, same as above, but with /sala/ "enjoy", the same root used up above for masturbation.
  3. pal-i-U, same as above but with /paly/ "vagina". With other words for vagina, one could also form pap-i-U, wab-i-U, and wov-i-U. These four words would be essentially equivalent, but /papi-/ would imply a female speaker.
  4. pib-i-U, to consume pornography. (/pipi/ "happy" becomes voiced)
  5. puppob-i-U, to attend a sports match.
  6. nipp-i-U, to rent clothes.
    Pwepwupepe nippiubebwevepis?
    Why did you rent your belt?
    This verb is in the present tense, not the past, because so long as the listener is wearing the belt the action of renting is continuing.

A small number of words may have fallen out of use in bare form, surviving only with the "paid for" affix. These could be such as

  1. paš-i-U, to dance (after paying an admission fee). The bare stem, /paš-/, would be homophonous with many other more common words.
  2. šab-i-U, to wash (clothes) in a fee-based washing machine. This would only exist if there were businesses in early Poswa society in which people earned money from washing other people's clothes; otherwise, the bare stem would not have survived long enough to make a U verb.


  1. Ø-t-U To fly; said of insects. Likely not used in bare form for human agents, but is homophonous with "to turn around, face away", "nettle", "salmon, trout", "gag, order of silence", "girl", and "what is invented, created, composed". /t/ is also a verb affix indicating cessative aspect (witi "Shut up!") but this would not cause any confusion.

Note the syntax. The /t/ morpheme stands on its own, and thus, for example, from pupub- "draw" one can form pupubatibi "I drew, using what I created". This does not mean "I drew what I created" which would be expressed in an entirely different manner and with the morphemes in the opposite order. Neither does it mean "I used the drawing I created", which would require two words and begin with pupubibi "I used my drawing" (possession inherited by default).

Thus, the /t/ morpheme is unlikely to be used much, and when it is, the most prominent meaning would probably be "gag, order of silence", which is unrelated to the /t/ in /witi/ "shut up" but would be associated with it by the speakers even so.


  1. Ø-bi-U by means of a computer or electronic device, originally from a word meaning "intelligent slave". See Modern terminology in Poswa and Pabappa; obviously not part of the classical language.
  2. Ø-bi-U can be used with birds as the agent to mean "by beak".[4] It does not mean wing, because the similar-looking word for wing did not survive into classical Poswa. An unrelated word that contracts to /bi/ in this position is "lobster's claw; stinger; any sharp firm body part of arthropods". This is used only for these two sets of animals, and never for humans or other animals even metaphorically. Thus the person marker is always 3rd person, even in the passive voice, and verbs with this structure are identical to ordinary non-U verbs that simply happen to end in -u.
  3. tab-bi-U to send a message on the Internet.


  1. Ø-tš-U by use of one's wings. Used with birds; never used for humans even metaphorically except in modernized speech.
  2. Ø-tš-U by use of one's claws. Never used to describe human fingernails, even in modernized or metaphorical speech; however, it can be used to specify the use of a sharp tool, unlike /pi/ which also means "claw" but does not allow analogical uses for human tools.


  1. Ø-f-U by use of a slave. From regular contraction of /taba/ "boy; soldier; obedient slave" into /f/. Similar to Icecap Moonshine constructions, grammatically correct but not common in traditional Poswa.
  2. Ø-f-U, by the use of paws or claws.[5] Never used with human agents, even in metaphorical or modernized speech, and never used for humans aided by tools either.

This is yet another affix that could be requisitioned to signify the use of a cellphone, through /f/ "buttocks". However, this is unlikely because that morpheme did not survive with that meaning in bare form and would have to be recreated by scholars. Note that this was not /f/ in Play, and cannot make use of the /sf pf/ > /f p/ contractions that appear in words coined in early stages of the language; instead, they would both appear in Poswa as /ff/.


  1. Ø-mp-U by use of a slave. From regular contraction of /mifa/ "slave; young boy" into /mp/. Similar to Icecap Moonshine constructions, grammatically correct but not common in traditional Poswa. This morpheme *does not* trigger wet syllable mutations or any other mutations because it was not a primordial cluster. Thus one can say wapimpibebi "I captured him", where the implication is that the person speaking was in control but sent somebody else to do the job.
  2. Ø-mp-U by use of one's hips. May be used metonymically in modernized speech for a cellphone if /š/ and /ntš/ are not convenient. Note that the /wep/ root for hips would become /-fi-/ in this position, with possible shifts of the consonant to /p/ or /Ø/ in certain environments. Play /sf/ reflexes to /ff/ in newer compounds and to /f/ in older ones. This could also denote the use of a gun or other hip-mounted weapon; the small area of semantic overlap with cellphones would prevent any significant ambiguity.
  3. bo-mp-U to tag someone on a post online (particularly on a cellphone)
  4. bu-mp-U to successfully find something online (particularly on a cellphone)


  1. Ø-mpi-U by using one's arm, or a sharp object such as a thorn. Original morpheme was /naba/ "thorn" which is no longer used in bare form. This could coexist with the "slave" definition so long as the slave sense were used with indirect and abstract actions and the arm sense were used with direct physical movements such as lifting and pushing objects.


  1. Ø-ntš-U by use of one's pocket; could be used in modernized speech for a cellphone if /š/ is not sufficient. Note that the form /Ø-ntš-U/ cannot actually exist because it begins with a nasal+plosive cluster, but it is usable as a suffix. Note also /naša/ "hole handle" which could be used metaphorically for touch sensors on a screen.


  1. Ø-pi-U, with a variant /-p-/. From /pu/ "button, wheel". Possibly used in modernized speech to indicate transportation by vehicle, but note preexisting /-(r)ož-) for travel by animal, which rhymes with a hypothetical alternative /-pož-/, which was already in use in classical Poswa as a proper verb denoting vehicles, and is cognate to the animal riding verb.

U verbs typically used with no root

When these verbs are semantically transitive, they will also be grammatically transitive. This means they will have the object as a separate word, with the accusative case marker on.

  1. šuf-U to conceive a baby
  2. tab-U to send a message
  3. tap-U to send a series of messages
  4. šif-U to fasten something to one's hair


There is no true nominalization of these verbs because they always end in a verb person/tense marker. The only possibility to make a noun would be to use a formula like the "depossessive" affix -(n)na, though this is only for inanimates, and implies a change in person, as in šabiona "what I pray(ed)" from šabie "I prayed (to)".

If nominalization is possible at all, it will be uncommonly clumsy for the language, and this may be exploited to help keep the verbal forms' meanings fluid. One possible method would be to use the third person form and say, for example, poppiuta "one who spends money to write books". But this embeds a person marker (/u/, a gradation of the 3rd person marker /a/) into a noun, which is otherwise unknown in the language except when the depossessive affix "covers for it".


Since this is an old word form, it could have been in use already at a time when the impersonal forms still existed. Thus the old archaic suffix /-a/ (distinct from the 3rd person /-ʲa/ that triggers mutation) would have existed, and /-ata/ could be used to form agent nouns from what later became the U-stem verbs. This could later be analogized to /-ʲata/, as though the linking morpheme was primordially /aa/, which is used as a pseudo-suffix to turn D-stems into A-stems.

This might still take the instrumental inflection, turning it into /u/ or /ʲu/, and thus a word like pwumputa "teacher" could be created, without the need to determine where the boundary between the root and the "U" morpheme is. The new, backwardly-derived A-stem would always end in /-u/, plus /-ta/ for the agent marker. Thus fobiuta "one who eats out a lot", distinct from fobata "eater",[6] which would see little use.

CAUTION: it is also possible, though, that even the original Play forms already had /aa/, not /a/, because these are not ordinary verbs. thus it would have been merged with 3rd person very early on.

M and P verbs

Poswa has a small number of verbs formed like the U-verbs but built from the locative (/m/) or reflexive-accusative (/p/) suffixes instead of the instrumental /u/. These are still based on the possessed form of the noun, and still have an extra syllable in their conjugation, but in these words that extra syllable occurs before the consonant and is always the same as the ordinary personal affix (/o e a/). For this reason their meanings have diverged very little from what one would expect based on a literal reading of the morphemes involved.

NOTE: These might actually have dynamic person markers. e.g. /pap-V-p/ "slap" could have an "interior conjugation" where the V rotates between 1st/2nd/3rd person, even though this would be considered grammatically an intransitive verb.

MORE IMPORTANTLY PERHAPS, these are grammatically nouns, not verbs. What sets them apart from ordinary nouns is that there is an elided verb that normally would occur afterwards, but is understood because in context the typical listener already knows what the verb is before hearing it. For example /pap-V-p/ is thus accusative of the C-stem of the word for cheek. But there is still a possibility of a distinction between using the -p suffix (mandatory when the verb follows) and gradating it to /f/ for a hypothetical standalone word.

Two-word phrases

Perhaps the only true idioms in Poswa are phrases like petšo popo "I'm pregnant", where a C-stem and a D-stem stand together with no serial verb marking on either. This means literally "my pregnant womb takes up space", and therefore is not such an idiom after all, but is in fact very close to a literal interpretation. Even here, though, the D-stem verb is often promoted from an unstressed form, and can be morphologically opaque, often consisting of just a single consonant, and rarely being longer than CVC.

Note, however, that this is not much different from the inverse of the U-verb construction above, since it essentially just flips the order of the two morphemes from A+C to C+D (the A/D alternation is predictable).

soiund changes

Play currently is listed as having /k/ as the reflex of intervocalic /ḳd/ inherited from Gold, though the correspondence is just one single word. The trigger seems to have been rule 12:

A voiced consonant in a cluster after a voiceless consonant (nearly always /p/ or /s/) disappeared. (This shift is responsible for important consequences in verb morphology in Poswa more than 5000 years later.) It was briefly /ʕ/.

If so, it would be optional to have it reflex as /p/ instead of /k/, because the shift of /k/ > /kʷ/ > /p/ occurred in newly coined compounds but not in old ones.

Play could thus have a word fūpip or fūkip meaning "one hip", and this could be used metonymically as yet another word for cellphone alongside the words meaning pocket, hips (dual), and voice. The alternate root /mis/ "hip" would go through mis diḳ > midhiḳʷ > miðip > miip and then into Poswa as /blep/.

Also these might BOTH be wrong, because the /ḳ/ would have shifted to /g/ after a long vowel, though I've said previously that this change was often reversed by analogy except in intervocalic position. Nevertheless, if it did happen in this case, the shift would be /ḳd/ > /gd/ > /ʕd/ > /d/ > /ð/ > /Ø/ and the Play word for "one hip" would just be fūip, whose reflex in both Poswa and Pabappa would be wup (but Poswa C-stem witš-, a homonym of the dual form).

other new words

  1. šuž- "to lick ice cream" (general) ~ šudž-U- (paid for)
  2. parf- "stomach; to lick, eat slowly" (general; said of candy) ~ parbi-U- (paid for; to dine, eat out)
  3. paf- (general) ~ pabi-U- (paid for) <--- a variant of the above, used only in unstressed position in compounds

durative aspect is from Play /-s vinu(p)(aa)/, and the reflex of /-s vinu/ before any vowel is /-pi-/. (suinuaa > psibwaa > psebwaba > pswaba > psia > pia, with the final /a/ then lost before any other vowel.)

Food and drink

There are some drinks and a few foods whose basic form is the verb denoting the action of consuming it, and whose A-stem means not the item but either "habitual drinker/eater of ___" or "server of ____". These must be learned by memory, although educated speakers will be able to tell by the word's form what its precise definition is. For example, larys "one who drinks coffee" is more basic than larfom "coffee", and learners of the language will understand that this is because the latter word is formed by adding a passive suffix, -m, to the former. The verb is larš-, so this does not rhyme with the word for eating candy.

Nevertheless, the majority of words for food and drink have the word for the item itself as the most basic form. Thus, tampi means wine, and tampita means "one who drinks much wine", while the verb stem is tampež-.


  1. Though this leaves open the question of how one would express the literal meaning corrsponding to "i used your key"m, etc. Perhaps they would simply need to be expressed with individual words.
  2. but NOT "to use one's cloud"
  3. Play /būima aa/, unless corrupt
  4. Note: this is NOT a mistake; the word for beak had an /a/ added to it after the split between Poswa and Pabappa.
  5. hʷău > fau, but U-stem /fabu aū/
  6. not *fopta; the /a/ is a thematic vowel.