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The Kala conlang...


There are two types of questions: Polar, those which may be answered "yes" or "no," and those which require explanations as answers.

Polar questions

Any statement can become a polar question by adding the interrogative particle ka at the end of the sentence.

  • mita ina
dog eat
The dog eats.
  • ta ke tlo’o anyaye
2s O elephant see-PST
You saw the elephant.
  • mita ina ka
dog eat Q
Does the dog eat?
  • ta ke tlo’o anyaye ka
2s O elephant see-PST Q
Did you see the elephant?

Content questions

Questions that give a list of possible answers are formed like polar questions, with the conjunction ue (“or”) introducing each alternative (which must appear in the form of a noun phrase).

  • ta ke nkapa ue maya inuue ka
2s O beer or.EXCL water drink-VOL Q
Do you want to drink beer or water?
  • uala ta ke sinka mataye ue empa ma koma ka
truly 2s O lion kill-PST or.EXCL flee CONJ hide Q
Did you really kill the lion, or did you run away and hide?

Open content questions are most easily formed with the correlatives, such as ko (“person”), mo (“place”), to (“manner”), etc. These correlatives always appear clause-initially:

  • ko ta ka
person 2s Q
Who are you?
  • to kihu ka
manner weather Q
What's the weather like?
  • itla ka
this Q
What is this?
  • to taku tayo ka
manner brother 2s.GEN Q
How’s your brother?

The other type contains a question word and is followed by ka:

kanyo Kala gloss English
object ke mita ina ka O dog eat Q What does the dog eat?
person ko ina ka person eat Q Who eats?
possession koyo mita ina ka person-GEN dog eat Q Whose dog eats?
manner to mita ina ka manner dog eat Q How does the dog eat?
place mo mita ina ka place dog eat Q Where does the dog eat?
reason nye mita ina ka reason dog eat Q Why does the dog eat?
time ama mita ina ka time dog eat Q When does the dog eat?
amount uku mita ina ka amount dog eat Q How much/many does the dog eat?
which ula mita ina ka INDEF dog eat Q Which dog eats?


In Kala the concepts of comparative and superlative degree of an adjective (verb) are merged into a single form, the elative. How this form is understood or translated depends upon context and definiteness. In the absence of comparison, the elative conveys the notion of “greatest”, “supreme.”

  • tsaka hayo ke nayo tahaka
house 3s.GEN O 1s.GEN big-AUG
His house is bigger than mine.
  • iyapo ke tsaka tayo pakoha
PROX-building O home 2sg new-AUG
This building is newer than your home.
  • ke mauam tayo yanahu
O flower.PL 2s.GEN yellow-EXT
Your flowers are the most yellow.
  • mitala ke yetlam hikyahi
dog-INDEF O DIST-4pl old-DIM
Some dogs are less old (younger) than others.

When comparing the amount of involvement of several participants in a transitive verb, an appositional construction is used with competing subjects, and complement clauses are used with competing objects:

  • tsaneya ke ona pa’e naku hayo itsaha
Jane O mother other.than sister 3s.GEN love-AUG
Jane loves her mother more than her sister does.
  • imukuhi ke asua uahe tleno telaniha
PROX-blade-DIM O leather instead.of timber cut-nice-AUG
This knife cuts leather better than it cuts wood.

Indirect Objects

Kala verb phrases have only a single object slot. As a result, the recipient of a ditransitive clause needs to be introduced with the help of an adverbial preposition. The same strategy is also used to introduce other participants in oblique roles.

  • ka’e – to; toward [Dative]
  • ma’a – with; using [Instrumental] / with; together [Comitative]
  • mue – without; lacking [Abessive]
  • nya – for (the benefit of) [Benefactive] / by [Passive]
  • -hue – at; in; on [Locative]


Dative participants can be marked with ka’e (“toward; to”), nya (“for; by”), or be syntactically indicated.

  • ntahi ke ina ka’e mita yeta
child O food toward dog give
The child gives food to a dog.
  • katiko nya ntakum tsani
old-AG for sibling-PL tell.story
The old man recites a story for the siblings.
  • ikema nya ena enke
PROX-task for P.1s easy
This task is easy for me.
  • teki ke kama na’amyo tanyaye
enemy O village 1pl.EXCL.GEN destroy-PST
The enemies destroyed our village.


Instrumental participants can be marked with ma’a (“with; using”), nya (“for; by”), or be syntactically indicated.

  • ona ke ntahi ma’a tlimu nohya
mother O child with blanket wrap
The mother wraps the child in a blanket.
  • tsani nya ntaha moyapua
PROX-task for P.1s easy
The story has been written by the elder.


Comitative participants are marked with the preposition ma’a (“with; together”), and anticomitative (or abessive) participants are marked with the preposition mue (“without”).

  • na ma’a amyako nayo ke masa tasa
1s with friend 1s.GEN O deer hunt
I'm hunting deer with my friend.
  • ha ke naha mue ta ka’elaye ka
3s O river without 2s toward-MVT Q
Did she go to the river without you?


Locative participants can be marked with a variety of adverbial prepositions, most typically -hue (“at; in; on”). See also: 5.1) Locative verbs.

  • taku nayo ke poti patlahue patsi
brother 1s.GEN O goat field-LOC herd
My brother is herding goats in the field.
  • nam tlatsahue masetli
1pl fire-LOC dance-FUT
We will dance near (at) the fire.

Semantic Fields and Pragmatics

Kala, like all languages relies on the relationship of meanings instead of meanings in isolation. Additionally, morphemes tend to have a range of meanings that exist on a spectrum. A morpheme often can only be defined by its relationship to other morphemes within an utterance, or to other words of a similar semantic field.

One example would be in discussing temperature. Of course there is a system of degrees, but that is a quantitative statement, a qualitative statement would be more relative and open to interpretation.

How to express temperature

English divides temperature into "hot, warm, cool, cold", while Kala has just sitsa, tlolo, and manka. However, these can be expanded to be more specific;

  • manka – cold
  • tlolo – cool; warm (mild)
  • sitsa – hot; heat

Using the augmentative -ha and the diminutive -hi adds even more nuance to expressing temperature. mankaha (or mankampa, mankahu) being the coldest, and sitsaha (or sitsampa, sitsahu) the hottest means that tloloha is closer to sitsahi and tlolohi is closer to mankahi. This means that tlolotso (mild-middle) is likely how someone would describe their ideal temperature.

  • ya iyoma kihua tlolotso!
VOC PROX-day fine.weather mild-middle
Oh, how today’s weather is so mild!

Of course, some meanings do exist in a binary state;

  • asa - alive / kupa - dead

Meanings may also be divided into non-linear semantic space — e.g. color, social classes, directions, parts of the body, time, geographical features.


Kala uses a base 10 number system. The basic numbers are as follows:

Kala number English Kala number English Kala number English
ye'o 0 zero tsa'o 6 six nya'o 500 five hundred
na'o 1 one ka'o 7 seven tle'o 103 (one) thousand
ta'o 2 two pa'o 8 eight mue'o 104 ten thousand
ha'o 3 three sa'o 9 nine kye'o 105 (one) hundred thousand
ma'o 4 four ue'o 10 ten nte'o 106 (one) million
ya'o 5 five nye'o 100 (one) hundred hue'o 109 (one) billion

Forming Larger Numbers

  • uena'o - eleven / 11
  • taue'o - twenty / 20
  • nyeka'o - one hundred seven / 107
  • hanyetauetsa'o (long form) / hatatsa'o (short form) - three hundred twenty six / 326
  • tsatletauema'o - six thousand and twenty four / 6024

Long form numbers are used in formal situations, including financial transactions, especially involving large sums. Short form numbers are used in everyday speech and when calculating basic math.

Other Number Forms

Kala number English ordinal multiple fractional
na'o 1 one kina'o
ueta'o 12 twelve kiueta'o
a twelfth
54 fifty four kiyama'o
fifty fourth
54 times
a fifty fourth
nyetsa'o 106 one hundred (and) six kinyetsa'o
106 times
a 106th
katle'o 7000 seven thousand kikatle'o
seven thousandth
7000 times

Math Operations

Kala math is fairly basic and relies on particles and verbs to express functions. Notable is the use of the copular a to express the result of an equation.

Addition uses ma (and; also). There is no specific order to the numbers in the phrase/equation. Subtraction uses ma (and; also) and a negative form of the smaller integer. There is no specific order to the numbers in the phrase/equation.

  • ta’o ma ya’o ke ka’o a
two and five O seven COP
2 + 5 = 7
  • ka’o ma ta’ok ke ya’o a
seven and two-NEG O five COP
7 - 2 = 5

Multiplication uses ma (and; also) and a multiple form of one of the integers. There is no specific order to the numbers in the phrase/equation. Division uses ma (and; also) and a multiple-negative form of one of the integers. There is no specific order to the numbers in the phrase/equation.

  • ka’o ma tita’o ke uema’o a
seven and multiple-two O fourteen COP
7 x 2 = 14
  • hata’o ma tisa’ok ke ma’o a
thrity-two and multiple-eight-NEG O four COP
32 ÷ 8 = 4

Writing system

Kala conscripts are many and varied. Rather than multiple pages explaining each of them, this page serves as a working list with a consistent example across each script. The most commonly used script is the Hangul adaptation for Kala.

Han Moya

Han Moya is an adaptation of Hangul for writing Kala. It is written horizontally, in lines running from left to right. It can also be written vertically in columns.


  • ㄱㄲㄴㄷㄸㄹㅁㅂㅃㅅㅆㅇㅈㅉㅊㅋㅌㅍㅎ
k nk n t nt l m p mp s ns a ts nts ts` k` tl p` h
/k~g ᵑk~ⁿg n t~d ⁿt~ⁿd l~ɾ m p~b ᵐp~ᵐb s~ʃ ⁿs~ⁿʃ - ts~t͡ʃ ⁿts~ⁿt͡ʃ tsʰ~t͡ʃʰ kʰ t͡ɬ~tl pʰ h~ɦ/

The adaptations of doubled consonants are used word initially to indicate prenasalization. Medial occurrences of nasalized syllables are written across syllables.

  • 까바 - nkapa - alcohol; liquor / 단가 - tanka - eagle; hawk; falcon
  • 감바 - kampa - Cheers! / 쁘라 - mpula - lamp; lantern; light


  • ㅏ ᅶ ㅐ ㅑ ᅸ ㅓ ㅕ ㅗ ㅛ ㅜ ㅟ ㅠ ㅡ ㅣ
a ao ai ya yao e ye o ao yo ua uai ue u i
/a~a: aʊ̯ aɪ̯ ja~ʲa: jaʊ̯~ʲaʊ̯ e~ɛ je~ʲɛ o~o: jo~ʲo: wa~ʷa: waɪ̯~ʷaɪ̯ we~ʷe: u~u: i~ɪ/
  • This is pronounced /wa/ in Korean because of the order of the vowels; however, because obsolete jamo are difficult to type and look junky as images, in Kala, this is used for /aʊ̯/ when typing. It is rarely seen due to the diphthong itself being uncommon.


  • 어하 거 거하 가먀터 하요 마아 타감 뱌사하먀여
eha ke keha kamyatle hayo ma’a tlakam pyasahamyaye
[eːɦa kɛ keːɦa kamʲaːt͡ɬe haːjo maːʔa t͡ɬaːkam pʲaʃahamʲaːjɛ]
P.3s O body stun-REL 3s.POSS with man-PL be.popular-AUG-CAUS-PST
Her bewitching body made her very popular with men.


  • seko saye puani nahayo yalaye ma ke tsa’eto omoye
scorpion along bank river-GEN walk-PST and TOP across-way think-PST
A scorpion was walking along the bank of a river, wondering how to get to the other side.
  • haye seko ke tsola anyaye
sudden scorpion TOP fox see-PST
Suddenly, he saw a fox.
  • seko nya tsa’e naha amo ua’e muta tsolayo kanyoye
scorpion for across river carry on back fox-GEN ask-PST
He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river.
  • tsola kye ak na’eta amo yatli ta’ena kute nuesitli
fox IND.SP COP.NEG 1SG-P.2SG carry if.X.then.Y 2SG-P.1SG sting drown-FUT
The fox said, “No. If I do that, you’ll sting me, and I’ll drown.”
  • seko kye na’eta kute yatli nam nuesitli
scorpion IND.SP 1SG-P.2SG sting if.X.then.Y 1PL drown-FUT
The scorpion assured him, “If I do that, we’ll both drown.”
  • tsola pue omo nkataye
fox after think agree-PST
The fox thought about it and finally agreed.
  • ya seko ua’e muta tsolayo uayaye ma tsola yokomuye
VOC scorpion on back fox-GEN climb and fox swim-begin-PST
So the scorpion climbed up on his back, and the fox began to swim.
  • me tsa’etsohue nahayo seko ke tsola kuteye
however across-half-LOC river-GEN scorpion TOP fox sting-PST
But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him.
  • tsola ike sunu ke sila hayo yeno ka’e seko muka kye nye ta’ena kuteye ka ima ta nuesitli
fox while poison TOP vein 3SG.POSS fill toward scorpion face IND.SP reason 2SG-P.1SG sting-PST Q now 2SG drown-FUT
As poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, “Why did you do that? Now you’ll drown, too.”
  • seko kye na’i ke to nayo tlinapayek
scorpion IND.SP 1SG.REFL TOP way 1SG.POSS stop-able-PST.NEG
“I couldn’t help it,” said the scorpion. “It’s my nature.”


See also: Lexicon, Kala thematic lexicon, and Kala etymological lexicon.

A small sampling of Kala lexemes.

  • pa - although; even though; even if
  • pa'a - be well-ordered; regular; organized
  • pina - be clever; intelligent; wise
  • punka - fruit; fruit tree
  • mpana - wide; broad; extensive; vast; width
  • tanko - group; organization; team
  • tepe - conceal; cover; shield; shelter
  • tiku - extract; withdraw; pick-up
  • tona - tuna
  • ntela - interact; interplay; interrelated
  • kanyo - question; ask; raise a question
  • kemu - experience; undergo
  • kinyo - intervene; get involved
  • kona - dress; skirt
  • kunye - moon; lunar; satellite
  • kuya - green; foliage; verdant
  • nkanu - short [in height and from end edge]
  • makua - iron; press; smooth out
  • menka - cotton
  • mosukua - Moscow
  • mutla - be absolute; unconditional
  • napo - turnip
  • ne - indirect object particle
  • nota - lie; be in horizontal position; horizon
  • nyalo - call; number; telephone
  • sahe - across; opposite; other side
  • sipanya - Spain
  • sokyo - helium
  • suama - sew; seam; mend; stitch
  • hasu - conjecture; guess; supposition; assumption
  • hilo - plaza; public square
  • hueta - testicle
  • tsame - accumulate; collect; gather; cluster
  • tsemu - jam; marmalade
  • tsitli - farm; ranch
  • tsuto - be curly-haired
  • tlato - recite rhythmically; chant; intone
  • tlehe - esteemed; honest; candid; sincere
  • tlokua - everybody; everyone
  • ato - that way [over there]
  • atsa - disc; rotate; wheel
  • esue - fail; lose
  • ila - sail; fly; navigate
  • otso - wolf; lupine
  • ulo - crop rotation
  • uatli - inferior; of lower quality
  • uetsi - dispirited downcast [idiom]; in low spirits
  • yatso - ferment; brew; make honey; liquor
  • yopi - mail; post [office]