Poswa locative verbs

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Poswa locative verbs are verbs that govern the locative case instead of the accusative case as most other verbs do. They are always grammatically intransitive, even when they are syntactically transitive.


Locative verbs always directly follow a word in the locative case. There is no free word order. They are considered to be tied to their object in a way that ordinary wi verbs are not.

Because locatives always follow a word ending in -m and can be either stressed or unstressed, they can only begin with the consonants that can occur after /m/: /p b m n/ and their respective labialized forms. Most begin with /p/. A bare /w/ is not common because this would generally have come from an earlier initial f-, which would turn into an initial p- by the rule above.

Use as unstressed suffixes

When an indefinite meaning is intended, any locative verb can be unstressed and treated as merely a suffix on the noun to which it relates. For example, using the word tipiam "nail", whose locative case is also tipiam, one can say

Tipiam babo.
I need the nail.


I need a nail.

Despite the fact that these unstressed verbs resemble case suffixes, they are not considered to be an extension of Poswa's noun case system. If they were, theoretically the number of noun cases in Poswa would be unlimited, since locative verbs can be compounded with each other.

Verbs with literal locative meanings

these verbs can be unstressed and therefore perceived to be mere affixes rather than separate words; this is why they have undergone sound changes typical of unstresssed syllables, such as pt > p.

Inessive constructions

One example is bas, which means "deep inside; deeply buried; surrounded on all sides". Because it ends in an -s, it is a sticky noun, and therefore its locative form is babam. However, the sound change bab > b was analogized from unstressed syllables to this word even when stressed, and the locative is bam. Thus one says

Mamampta rumom bamba.
The swimmer is deep inside the water. (That is, she is underwater.)
Bambam bambam.
Because it was inside the baby.

Adessive constructions

This can be expressed in two different ways. The English word "on" can either refer to something being on top of something else, also referred to as the superessive case, or something being on the outside of something else.

When the superessive meaning is intended, Poswa follows the object on the bottom with one of a few words meaning "top, upper surface". Usually, this is also followed up with an intransitive verb suffix. Thus, it could be said that Poswa has a verb meaning "to be on top of". However, note that this verb is intransitive and therefore it does not place the "bottom" word into the accusative case.[1]

For humans and sapient animals, the commonest "chain" word used is pipi.

Sabas paefiam pipiba.
The man is on top of the woman.

Subessive constructions

This can be expressed in a few different ways. The English word "under" can either refer to something being beneath the bottom of something else, or something being covered up by something else.

The broader meaning is covered by the verb dži mis, which ends in a labialized /sʷ/ and therefore belongs to the -y verb conjugation.

A meaning specific to being located lower down than something else is carried by the verb dži bu, which is a regular verb. It is derived from the noun bu "bottom", but like the noun, it does not carry the extended meaning of "lower half"; it means specifically the lower outer surface of an object and the space beneath it.

A third verb, lesser used, is dži pappa, from an obsolete word for shadow. This generally describes situations where one object partially conceals another, but spoken of from the standpoint of the object being concealed. It is a regular verb, not ending in a wet syllable.

Pypub pupom paffa.
The boy is under my oak tree.

Illative constructions

Many languages have an illative case, which corresponds to English "into". Poswa expresses illative meanings with a different construction than that used for the adessive and inessive cases. The object being entered is still placed in the locative, but after that noun is placed the verb pallo, "to enter; open the door".

Fufalam pallwi.
I entered the school.

Lative constructions

Some languages have a lative case, corresponding to English "to, towards". This refers to motion in which a subject approaches an object but stops short of entering inside.[2]

Elative constructions

Many languages have an elative case, which corresponds to English "out of". Poswa expresses elative meanings with a construction similar to that used for the illative. The verb in use here is dži pob "to leave behind, come out of".

This comes from Babakiam kivu (kivu > kʲuu > kʲū > kʲur > kʲor > tšor > pšor > pšob > pob; the tš > pš change is because it always follows /m/.) Thus, it is unrelated to the a/i/u locatives found in related languages such as Andanese, which would have indeed led to a word similar to pob for "exit, leave behind".

Ablative constructions

Some languages use an ablative case, corresponding to English "away from". In Poswa this is handled using the locative case and one of two verbs describing motion away from an object. The difference between the elative and the ablative is that elative movement describes a subject that starts out inside an object, and then exits that object. By contrast, in the ablative scenario the subject of the verb was outside the object all along, and merely moves further away.

If the subject (usually an animate being) is moving away from the object, the commonest verb to use is dži papwa. This is cognate to the ordinary verb wapwa.

Perlative constructions

Some languages use a perlative case, corresponding to English "through" or "across". In Poswa, this is usually expressed with the basic locative followed by the verb dži pupa "to move through". As a dži verb, the object of the verb is placed into the locative case rather than the accusative, and the verb is always intransitive.

This word was originally derived from a word for a long, powerful claw, and described the action of sticking partway into something but not all the way through. This meaning has now been lost. This is an irregular verb which gains an extra -p- in its conjugation (due to consonant mutation of a now lost -r-):

Pwafi lospwem puppi.
I walked through the hallway.

There is also another verb dži pupem "(to be) across", but this refers to the situation of two objects or reference points being separated by some other object, rather than the action of one of them moving towards the other. The object is still placed into the locative case rather than the accusative. Thus one says

Pumpella ramarpum pupemba.
The bank is on the other side of the street.

This can also be used to express the concept of "away from", in the sense that there is some object keeping one object away from another.

Pepopwom pupembo.[3]
I'm away from my car.
My car is gone.
I'm grounded.

Intrusive constructions

Poswa also has an intrusive locative construction, describing the action of one thing being partly inside and partly outside of another. It uses the verb dži punu "to pierce, poke, penetrate". This construction has taken over the meaning that was once assigned to puppa.

Potio popabom punwo.
My lollipop is partway into my mouth.

The inverse of this is perhaps pibi, derived from a word for "to hold tightly". Other possibilities, however, are pu, pos (again), piti, pop (c. vagina), puna, pim, and pawam. Thus one could say

Sabas potiampuvi.
The man with a lollipop sticking out of his mouth was me.

Pertingent constructions

Some languages use a pertingent case, corresponding to English "touching, tangent to". Poswa expresses this in several different ways.


One method of expressing physical contact is to add the suffix -pwa to the locative case of the object being touched. This suffix was historically -twa, but a sound change of -mt- ---> -mpt- ---> -mp- took place. This caused the affix to merge with a preexisting and unrelated verb meaning "to push, bump, move an object with one's body". The new affix thus merges the meanings of both original words, and when used with an animate subject, implies purposeful contact, regardless of whether the object being touched is moved out of place or not.

Likewise, since one of the two morphemes was originally a separate word, pwa can either be used as an affix or as a separate word. Expressing it as a separate word can be used for emphasis, since it will be stressed whereas the affix is always unstressed. In either case, it behaves as a regular verb, meaning that its stem contracts into pi- just like any other verb stem ending in -wa:

I'm touching the leaves.
Wovom pio.
I'm brushing against the leaves.

Like most affixes, this can be replaced with a transitive verb if the subject is animate, and particularly if the object is animate as well:

I brushed against you.
I bumped into you.

When the object is explicitly stated, it will be in the accusative case rather than the locative, and usually precedes the verb:

Polaputapi piebi.
I brushed against the cat.

With the intensive prefix po-, it can also imply more forceful action:

Našiepi popiebi.
I body-slammed the fence.

With the iterative aspect marker -at-, this verb can take on extended meanings:

Pitšo puvapiep pwafabo.
My hand is repeatedly bumping into your door.
I'm knocking on your door.


Another way to express physical contact is with the standalone verb pip. This is a broad term, making no implications of whether the contact was intentional or not, or whether the object being touched was moved out of place or not. Like all Poswa words whose Romanization ends in -ip, the final /p/ is labialized, and the verb thus belongs to the -y conjugation (which includes /pʷ/) rather than the -p conjugation:

Wožbaši blebblobom pipwi.
I walked backwards, bumping myself against the wall.
I walked backwards into the wall.

Pip can also be used as an affix:

Wožbaši blebblobompipwi.
I walked backwards into the wall.

Translative constructions

Not all uses of the locative case describe physical location in space. The translative construction describes the action of one object turning into another. It is almost exclusively used in its full, verbal form, and can be analyzed as a dži verb; that is, a verb that is always intransitive and places the object into the locative rather than the accusative case. The morpheme expressing the translative meaning is one of the shortest of all: pa, and it is hyper-regular, meaning that the -a drops out in conjugation but the -p- stays -p-. (Thus, it is a "wet syllable".)

This was originally a verb, tiša, that underwent syncope and then a sound change resulting from the ever-present -m on the previous word. Thus one can say:

Sabas manwam pel.
The man turned into a tree.

This is also used without a verb inflection for expressions like "I painted the wall green".

Posterior constructions

The concept of "behind, beyond" can be called a posterior construction. It is expressed by the locative followed by the intransitive verb piža.

Tembo fampam pižo.
I'm standing behind the tulip.

A less common verb with similar meaning is bem.

There is also pane "to protrude beyond the end of something; go beyond; survive". This verb is different because it implies that the subject of the sentence begins within something and extends (or moves) beyond its edge.[4]

Anterior constructions

The concept of "before, in front of" can be called an anterior construction. It is expressed by the locative followed by the intransitive verb pefub, whose stem changes to pefib- in conjugation.[5] (This is not the same as pože, which refers to being in the frontwards part of something.)

Tembo fiam pefibo.
I'm standing in front of the palm tree.

Other locative constructions

Note that Poswa does not use the locative or any form thereof for "associative" meanings such as English "what you should know about acid rain". However, English about can sometimes overlap with this meaning, such as

Sababum plebumbiom silumba.
The men are worried about acid rain.

Table of extended locative constructions

Description Bare morpheme Conjugated form
(1st person)
Inessive bam bambo palem may also be used; Pabappa pam
Subessive pappa paffo implies "shadowed by" rather than "under"
Illative pallo pallwo
Lative pum pumbo irregular, from earlier pimbi, which would have normally produced *pumbi
Elative pob Pabappa pi < kivu
Ablative papwa papio
Perlative (1) pupa puppo Provides the meaning of "across, to enter and move through"
Perlative (2) bat batio Provides the meaning of "along; parallel to". Pabappa bap
Pertingent (1) pwa pio
Pertingent (2) pip pipwo
Superessive pipi pipibo
Circumessive pol polo polo seems wrong; should it be polio?
Translative pa po
Posterior piža pižo Used metaphorically for "after, at a later time"
Anterior pefub pefibo Used metaphorically for "before, at an earlier time"

Other locative verbs describing location or motion

Not all locative verbs fit neatly into categorized described as cases in case-heavy languages.

dži pelwa

The concept of "return, go back to" can be expressed with the verb dži pelwa. It is a regular verb. It can carry the extended meaning of "return home":

Pobbwabo, plivom pelio!
Screw you, I'm going home!

dži pos

The verb pos describes the action of hiding within something else. It may be combined with other words, which are then themselves placed into the locative case, to produce, for example, labiompappampos "to hide under a bed".

Pipapa labiompappampošas fubuvombi, popas pi.
I used to be scared of the monster hiding under my bed, but then I became him.

dži pemba

Pemba is similar to the superessive, but specifically implies standing on something.

dži pwaepa

Pwaepa is similar to the superessive, but specifically implies sitting on something.

dži pompub

Pompub is similar to the superessive, but specifically implies lying on something.

dži pisi

Pisi means to dwell or inhabit, and is the preferred means for forming demonyms. Although Poswa does not ordinarily permit proper nouns to join compounds, this affix is perceived as an extension of the locative case and not as a discrete content word.

Nompem pisibo.
I live in Nompe.
Pottiampisi žampwu Poswas popaba.
Most people in Pottem speak Poswa.

Verbs with metaphorical locative meanings

Not all locative verbs have a literal locative meaning.

Use of extended locatives to express time

Note that Poswa uses the genitive -s ending rather than the locative -m to express measurements of time such as English "while" and "during". In English, one may go to bed at night, wake up in the morning, and work throughout the day. But in Poswa, the relations are all unified: the same person would be said to go to bed of the night, wake up of the morning, and work of the day. (Although the last of the three would almost always be given an additional verb such as puppo in addition.)

Thus, genitive endings can be paired with the extended locative verbs above to produce the same fine distinctions of meaning that are available to describe physical location. For example, one can say

Swi paefwas puppi.
I slept throughout the night. (I fell asleep before the night began, and woke up after it was over.)

The metaphor of time is similar to English, in that words for "before" can mean both "in front of" and "at an earlier time", while words for "after" can mean both "behind" and "at a later time".

Use of locative verbs to express abstract concepts

dži pa

For example, the verb for "to become" is dži pa. It is both an irregular verb and one that places its object into the locative case rather than the accusative. The verb behaves mostly as if its stem were a hyper-regular p-. Thus one can say

Pobbam pebel.
He became an oak tree.

(The stem was originally tiša; this stem contracts to simply p- because of sound rules that are triggered in constructions such as this where two words are spelled separately but treated as a prosodic unit.) Because of the potential for confusion, this verb is usually used directly after its object; that is, the word order is not flexible the way it is for most accusative verbs. Thus, for example, one would not normally say

*Pobbam pwuwumbam pebel.
He became an oak tree in the forest.

Because the speaker would likely initially hear the sentence as if pwuwumbam "in the forest" were the object of the verb, and thus imagine a man becoming a forest while sitting among the leaves and branches of an oak tree.

dži miswab

The concept of "to need, require" can be expressed by the locative verb dži miswab. Thus one can say

Tipiam miswabo.
I need a nail.

This can be abbreviated to just bo:

Tipiam babo.
I need a nail.

And can even be unstressed, so long as the object is indefinite, like all other dži verbs:

I need a nail.


Because I need a nail.

Note that, while many forms of this verb appear to be transitive, it is not. The stem is bo-, which becomes bab- in most forms of its conjugation; the actual verbal ending here is simply -(b)o.

dži pavop

This verb is similar to the above.[6] It shrinks via syncope in most of its conjugated forms, whether used as an affix or a separate word:

I need a stapler.
Wabožem paffae.
You need your pencil.

The difference between miswab and pavop is that the latter verb specifically implies that the subject of the sentence lacks something they need rather than merely stating that they need it.

dži pipa

This verb is a possible replacement for the partially defective "antipossessive" verb endings. It means historically "separate from", "different from", etc., and therefore would seem to make more sense as simply meaning "i am not a ...", but there could be semantic shift. The historical form of the verb was kipisa, and it now conjugates with two wet syllables.


  1. Change this?
  2. Could this be done by using piop, but without the locative? Probably not.
  3. pultu(s) psurabom >>> petopyliom > petopyšom > petopwom. It was never /ž/. This was extended by analogy to other words ending in -e.
  4. Search dictionary for "beyond" for even more terms.
  5. feifeu > pefub. No change to *pfub or *pub is possible, however, because the initial /p/ is wet.
  6. Look on "dialects" page for etymplogy.