Khulls nouns

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Khulls nouns inflect using a fusional declension system. Though not as complicated at that of Poswa, the declensions differ more from each other because Khulls uses a "discrete" declension system instead of deriving inflections based on every phoneme in the word, as does Poswa.

Noun declension tables

NOTE, THE BELOW IS BASICALLY ALL WRONG. This is a scrappad for now.


Apr 13, 2020

Weak nouns have affixes based on the assumption that the nominative form ended in an elided /g/. Thus, e.g. kṅdigâ "in Kṅdi", etc

  • The epicene accusative could be ṭ (pʕ > b > d > ṭ, because of the restoration of the ḳ) ... but this requires analogy. i.e. , ḳ is used twice ... once to pharyngealize the p, once to glottalize the d.
  • Actually, the ṭ could also come from /ʔd/, which requires no reanalysis.
  • Since all objects found in the sea are feminine, there is almost never a noun classifier used to show gender, since it is plain from semantics. The only time there is one is when an object from another gender is brought into this one; e.g. xànaʕʷa "sea star".
  • Other genders:
epicene  ṭ  
masculine ṭ
feminine(1) m
feminine(2) m
unisex   ṭ
neuter  ḳ
maiden n

So there are only 4 genders after all? /m ṭ n ḳ/ which could be considered really just three. However, it is possible that analogy could take over in several places, since there would be a period of several thousand years where the /m/~/s/ feminine opposition had developed before the prefixes disappeared.

Note that in Babakiam, all three /ṭ/'s would be reflected as /0/, and could be either "repaired" to /b/~/p/, left as is, or analogized to the "plain form" of /p/ with no following vowel.

Primary vowel-stem declensions

Final unstressed short vowels

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
òṭa table, desk oṭà oṭâ oṭas oṭal oṭan oṭī oṭō
ḳĭri happiness, victory ḳirì ḳirî ḳiris ḳiril ḳirin ḳirĕ ḳiġʷ
nìto price, penalty nitò nitô nitos nitol niton nikʷ nitū

Nouns ending with final stressed short low-tone vowels follow the same patterns as above.

Final accent, high tone

This table shows nouns that are accented on their final syllable, with a short high-tone vowel at the end of the word:

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
egà daytime sky egaḳà egaḳâ egaḳas egaḳal egaḳan egaḳī egaḳō
gʷì beach gʷiḳì gʷiḳî gʷiḳis gʷiḳil gʷiḳin gʷiḳĕ gʷiḳʷ
makò seal (animal) makoḳò makoḳô makoḳos makoḳol makoḳon makoḳʷ makoḳū
ʕʷè tendril ʕʷeḳà ʕʷeḳâ ʕʷeḳas ʕʷeḳal ʕʷeḳan ʕʷeḳī ʕʷeḳō

Nouns ending in follow the pattern for , because they arose from labialization of a vowel that otherwise became /o/.

A "double essive" case is sometimes seen in the declension, where the final labialized consonant loses its labialization and adds .

Many nouns that end in a final high-tone short vowel historically ended with a final -ḳ. But after the vowel /u/, this consonant became a coarticulated labiovelar stop,[1] and was later retained as /ṗ/ when the velar stop otherwise disappeared. The same is true of the non-ejective version of this sound. Thus, words ending in -p or -ṗ decline following the patterns of the standalone word below, which means "teacher":

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
p teacher p pṡ pḷ pṅ

Nouns with word-final falling tone, long vowels

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
school pâs pâl pân
bottle bes bel ben
kʷō bed kʷaʕʷù kʷaʕʷû kʷaʕʷus kʷaʕʷul kʷaʕʷun kʷaʕʷ kʷaʕʷū

Secondary vowel-stem declensions

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
xʷèye curved claw
kʷăkʷ stone tablet
empĕ sword empyì empyî empyis empyil empyin empĕ empyŭ
ḳē wheel ḳê ḳê ḳês ḳêl ḳên ḳê ḳêʕʷ

NOTE, possibly eliminate the first two rows of the secondaries, since final -e and final -u can only come from stressed positions even if in a compound where they are unstressed, except for when the /e/ follows /u/, in which case it comes from /u/ or /a/.

Tertiary vowel-stem declensions

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
atá spirit atakà atakâ atakas atakal atakan atakī[2] atakō
šonorí depravity, perversion šonorikà šonorikâ šonorikas šonorikal šonorikan šonorikī[2] šonorikō
flower petal lokà lokâ lokas lokal lokan lokī[2] lokō
diaper lekà lekâ lekas lekal lekan lekī [2] lekō
Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
amâ whip amâ amâ amâs amâl amân amê amô
gʷî spy, thief gʷî gʷî gʷîs gʷîl gʷîn gʷê gʷŭ
swamp dôs dôl dôn daʕʷ
hʷê military road hʷê hʷê hʷês hʷêl hʷên hʷê[3] hʷê
ḳʷû urine ḳʷuʕʷù ḳʷuʕʷû ḳʷuʕʷus ḳʷuʕʷul ḳʷuʕʷun ḳʷuʕʷ ḳʷuʕʷū

Many words on the ^ tone can be declined using ´-style endings.

Final -ú might not exist because of retention of the final /kp/ cluster as /p/ rather than deletion.

Primary consonant-stem declensions

Nominative (English) Accusative Locative Possessive Dative Circumstantial Essive Instrumental
gis fruit tree gixì gixî gixis gixil gixin gixĕ gixʷ
maŋan prey maŋaŋà maŋaŋâ maŋaŋas maŋaŋal maŋaŋan maŋaŋī maŋaŋō



Most nouns are singular in their unarmed form. Exceptions use the singulative affix .


The dual affix, -(C)o, is mostly confined to denoting human couples and certain paired objects such as double doors. The (C) indicates a consonant that reflects the gender of the noun. It does not generally function as a generic marker for two of an object. Note that this is the same word as ô "married couple", the only difference being the loss of stress.

Possibly make this always epicene, even if for inanimate objects, 2girls,etc


The plural affix for all nouns is -yi. This is the same word, historically, as "book", because a book is a bundle of papers and this was extended by analogy to other objects. The parent language, Gold had no plural marker, and this is why the plural markers are different in the various languages derived from it.

Stem-final consonant mutations in the plural

The plural affix fuses to the word stem, and mutates according to the last sound in the word it modifies:

Conso Fused form Notes
yi Can affect the previous vowel through sandhi.
ʔ či This denotes words that end with the [à] tone, regardless of which vowel it is on.
p pyi
b bi Possibly survives as byi?
m bi See above
l lyi Some speakers pronounce this as a true palatal [ʎ], others as [ly]
s ši [4]
š ši
z ži
ž ži
ŋ ǯi
ʕ yi Can affect the previous vowel through sandhi.[5]
pʷi All labials "defeat" the palatal /y/, effectively reducing the affix to -i.
ṗʷ ṗʷi
ġʷ ġʷi
ʕʷ ʕʷi
ḳʷ ḳʷi
ŋ̇ ŋ̇ǯi
ṣ̌ ṣ̌i

Stems ending in syllabic consonants do not behave differently depending on whether the syllabic consonant is preceded by another consonant or by a vowel. Thus the plural of sṁ "dolphin" is sṁbi just as the plural of loṁ "womb, uterus" is loṁbi.

Gender and animacy

Background of gender system

Khulls inherited the Gold gender system, based on consonants. In the Gold language, nearly all nouns had mandatory classifier prefixes that assigned them to a particular gender and animacy level. A sound change that removed all initial vowels made some of the noun classifier prefixes disappear, and this triggered a restructuring of the grammar, and soon the deletion of the remaining classifier prefixes followed, as they were no longer necessary. However, the concept of animacy and gender remained even though it was no longer overtly marked on nouns.

The classifier prefixes survived in a few nouns. Preservation of noun class prefixes happened for one of a few reasons:

  1. Noun classes were preserved when affected by sound changes that masked their form to such an extent that they were no longer recognizable as noun prefixes. In most cases, this referred to nouns whose stem was vowel-initial and accented on the first syllable, which meant that, with sound changes that happened early in Khulls, the classifier itself would come to be part of a stressed syllable, and therefore unlike all other classifiers. These words tended to survive intact. For example, the classifier prefix mi-, which appeared on most words for edible objects, was preserved in the Khulls word pṡ "salt" because it was not recognizable by the speakers as a prefix.
  2. Noun class prefixes were never deleted from their titular nouns; that is, the nouns that defined the class. For example, the classifier prefix sa-, which described words for objects found in the ocean, was not deleted from săpo "fish". Since these tended to be stressed syllables as well, the two cases of preservation could be united under the same rule.

List and description of genders

See also Proto-Moonshine_language#Consonant-based_gender_system.

Khulls has three feminine genders, one masculine gender, and a three-way contrast between epicene, unisex, and neuter. The differences between the genders are described below:

The three feminine genders

The greater feminine gender, marked primarily by /m/, mostly contains words for adult human females, but also certain words for edible objects, since the previously existing classifier prefix mi- was subsumed into this gender. The greater feminine gender occupies the highest position on the animacy hierarchy, Level 3. Originally, the food words were an exception to this, but by the time of classical Khulls all nouns' animacy status had come to be determined by their gender and therefore many food items were considered animate by the grammar.

The lesser feminine gender, marked primarily by /s/, occupies level 2 on the animacy hierarchy. Here one finds more words for adult human females, but this category is a closed class, meaning that any newly coined words for adult females will belong to the greater feminine gender. Instead, most words in this gender are for objects which are seen as feminine only metaphorically. They include most words for celestial objects, fire, snakes, worms, abstract concepts such as love and beauty, rivers, soft objects, women's clothing and feminine hygiene products, fish, objects found in or near the ocean, and nations. The only commonality uniting all of these objects is that all of them began with a noun classifier prefix beginning with the letter f in the ancient Tapilula language, and they kept their gender identity even after the noun classifier system fell out of use and sound changes delivered the sound into /s/.

The young feminine gender, marked primarily by /n/, occupies level 2 on the animacy hierarchy and refers mostly to young girls and women of pre-marriageable age. However it also contains words for fruit, buildings, birds, sharp objects, and most placenames. Words for feminine anatomy that begin with ŋ- are mostly part of this gender, even when describing adults.

The masculine gender

The masculine gender refers to men and boys. It occupies the highest position on the animacy hierarchy, level 3, sharing this with the greater feminine gender. By contrast to the feminine genders above, there is no age distinction in the masculine gender, meaning that young boys are placed as equal with adults of both sexes. There are very few words for nonliving or nonhuman objects in this gender. Some words for fruits are masculine, however, including any that end with -è (originally the word for orange).

In Romanization, additional astronomical symbols can be repurposed to mark the non-binary genders of Khulls. The pattern used here is:



In a compound noun whose elements are of different genders, the gender highest in the animacy hierarchy dominates. If two morphemes are at the same level on the animacy hierarchy, the rightmost morpheme dominates. There are four tiers in the animacy hierarchy.

Marking gender on animate objects

The choice of which gender marker to use on an animate object is far more complex. The animacy hierarchy comes into play here, with genders high up on the animacy hierarchy dominating those below. However, the pattern is not that simple, and there are different solutions appointed when two different genders that occupy the same rank on the animacy hierarchy are brought together.

Although the epicene is at the highest level of the animacy hierarchy, it is a compound gender, which means it can contain elements of lower animacy levels, and therefore it obeys some of the patterns for lower genders such as the unisex.

Gender Epicene ♁ Fem+ ♀ Fem- ⚳ Young Fem ☿ Unisex ☼ Neuter ⚲ Masc ♂
4 Greater Feminine ♀
3 Lesser Feminine ⚳
3 Young Feminine ☿
1 Unisex ☼
0 Neuter ⚲
4 Epicene ♁
4 Masculine ♂

Thus, when serving as objects, nouns lower on the animacy hierarchy are affected more than animate nouns by what gender the agent is.


  1. as in Vietnamese
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 if analogy takes over, perhaps assisted by sḳī > kī
  3. hʷ + ya + ʕī
  4. Most words ending in -s are accented on the final syllable, and that stress remains, meaning this is pronounced [či]. However, this pronunciation has not been carried over by analogy to words where the final syllable is unstressed.
  5. This denotes words that end on an accented vowel of the [â] tone, some of which formerly ended in a true /ʕ/.