zoani ak kai, ceben. naūkenha migari zar naūkeman.
If (you) can read this, welcome! Let's learn to speak Naūkeman!
Table of Contents
- Pronunciation Guide
- Question Words
- Common Words and Greetings
- Family Members
- Body Parts
- Noun Affixes
- Verb Affixes
- Conjunctions, Prepositions, etc.
- Adjective Affixes
- Other Useful Bits
- Word Order
- Doing One Thing, (While) Doing Another
- Wanting Things
- Purpose and Service
- Modifying With Verbs
- If... Then...
- Nouns as Adjectives
- Adjective-Based Nouns
- Having Things
- Tag Questions
*Allophone of /ʌ/.
**Common allophone of /ɛ/.
*Allophone of /ʃ/.
**Allophone of /ɾ/.
Syllable structure (WIP): (C)(j)V(r/l)(n/m/k/t/r/s/l)
Midword cluster /kb/ becomes /km/.
/ŋr/ becomes /kr/.
/kk/ sometimes becomes /tk/.
Word-final /o/ tend to become /u/ after /j/.
Final /ɾ/ is typically some form of [ɹ̠˔], and /ɾ/ before /n/ or sometimes another consonant becomes [ɹ].
The sequence /ʌɛ/C (ue followed by a consonant) often becomes /ʔɛ/C. For example, kuen, "eat", often gets pronounced /kʔɛn/.
(I wrote this before including IPA, but it stays because I liked it.)
a = "ah" like in tall or ahh
e = "eh" like in neck or bet, or sometimes "ey" like in hey or pay
i = "ee" like in she or bee
u = "uh" like in fun or hut or the less stressed "uh" in the or kinda; sometimes "oouh" like in put or book.
o = "oh" like in bow or oh
ū = "oo" like in too or boot
There is no distinction between the letter t and d, s and z, b and p, k and g, or sh and ch. Their pronunciation can be either by convenience or accent, but tends toward the first. For consistency, all words here are spelled with the first letter and not the second.
Emphasis is typically on the first syllable of a word, or the second and last in words four syllables or longer. However, it is often shifted wherever is convenient in songs or poems, as it does not change the actual meaning of the words.
When speaking quickly or casually, the short "u" sound is often skipped or pronounces as a shwa (ə) instead. Words that have "u" in the first syllable may shift emphasis to the second.
||a ||e ||i ||o ||u ||ū
||m ||n ||ŋ ||k ||g ||y ||r
||a ||e ||i ||o ||u ||ū
||m ||n ||ng ||k, ng ||k, y ||y, i ||r
||a ||e̞~ɛ ||i ||o ||ʊ~ʌ~ə ||u
||m ||n ||ŋ ||k~g, ŋ ||k~g, j, ŋ ||j, i ||ɹ~ɾ, ɹ̠˔
||l ||t ||d ||s ||z ||c ||h ||b ||p
||l ||t ||t, n, r ||sh ||s ||sh ||h ||b ||b
||l ||t~d ||t~d, n, ɾ~ɽ ||ʃ~tʃ ||s ||ʃ~tʃ ||h ||b~p ||b~p
Naūkeman spelling was semi-standardized in the last several centuries, but still just in time for major consonantal sound shifts. As a result, there are several... eccentric characters, that have variable pronunciation depending on where they are placed in a word. (It's easier to read than write, at least.)
g is pronounced /j/ before /a/ and /ʌ/, /k/ before other vowels, and /ŋ/ at the end of a word.
d is pronounced /t/ most of the time, except in word endings where it's /t/ after u, /ɾ/ after i, and /n/ otherwise.
ŋ is /ŋ/ unless it's at the end of a word, in which case it's /k/.
y is normally /j/, but when written after a vowel at the end of a syllable, it's pronounced /i/.
she (honorific)*; woman
he (honorific)*; man
they (sing. honorific)*; honored one, guest
we (excl.) (only in some dialects)
someone, a person (hypothetical)
thing, something, this
there (distant/unseen, archaic and somewhat formal)
there (distant/unseen, informal)
how much (lit. "what amount")
Common Words and Greetings
hello (to someone new, or after long time apart)
hello, how are you?
hello (older, more formal)
welcome (greeting into one's home or other space) (from shaseben
I'll see you soon
quiver, bag for sling stones
bow, esp. for hunting
ash (from atsan kanka
, "hot dust") [NP]
river (as opposed to smaller streams)[e]
island (at sea)*
clearing, open space; a town square
power, spirit; deity
beast of burden; a specific animal brought from the east[t]
ocean (from hūn men
, "great water")
strand, string, a long flexible thin object
reedpaper, similar to papyrus
sheet, flat thing
picture, piece of artwork
(a specific kind of flower from the north)[k]
sword (from koya kibi
, 'large blade')
coins, money (from koltya
, "fragments") [NP]
stream, river (from makus men
, "long water")
pot, clay vessel
circle, ring, loop
path, road; direction[e]
smoke (i.e. from a fire)
saying (from timaūnmi
, "that which is said")
world (from tokemiri-et
snow (from tomen-kanka
, "cold grit")
land, ground, earth
People and Family Members
sibling, older brother
little sister (archaic, usu. term of endearment)
heart, core, soul
hair (lit. "strands")
(plural suffix for words ending in -ng or -t)
(suffix, makes adjectives from nouns)
(demonym, "people of")
place of, place where...
Nouns marked [NP] do not pluralize.
Some other irregular plurals:
Any word ending in -ng usually loses that consonant to pluralization. Ex: asang (event) ⟶ asangya (events). The final "ng" is still written, though.
oa (tooth) ⟶ oata (teeth)
iel (leg) ⟶ ilitya (legs)
basuntya (mother) ⟶ basuntatya (mothers)
maūk (meat) ⟶ maūtya (meats)
ashuntiros (sailboat) ⟶ ashuntiroska (sailboats) (Sataca'an plural is acintírocke [aʃɪn'tiɹoʃ'ke])
kana (northflower) ⟶ kanamū (northflowers) (From Kintsaya hikanamwe [hθʲikanamwɛ]??)
to stand up, to begin (intrans.), to awaken (intrans.), to become (trans.)
to be born
to glow, to be bright
to be similar to, to be like...
to remove (clothing)
to hold, to carry; to contain
to give (someone) (something)
to give up
to possess, to contain (features, things)
to outdo, to be greater than
to create, to cause
to watch, to observe
to decide, to agree (on something)
to see, to find, to encounter
to put on (clothing)
to ask, to question
to be known as, to be called (from kanen timaūnyemi, "name is said")
to know, to be familiar with
to be present
to be aware of, to understand
to write, to draw
to arrive at...
to laugh (intrans.), to mock (trans.)
to circle, to surround
to catch, to capture
to smooth, to straighten; to unfold
to learn, to study
to touch, to grasp (with hands); to reach for (with yun
to loop around; to contain
to require, to command/demand
to want... (someone else wants) (see grammar for full guide)
to go/come from...
to fold (trans.), to sit (intrans.)
to want... (one's own desires) (see grammar for full guide)
to exist in/at...
to think/feel that something is... (other people)
to listen (to)
to enter (somewhere), to visit
to wear, to wrap (oneself) in
to cover, to protect
to meet with...
to worry (about)
to meet ... for the first time
to refuse, to reject
to think/feel that something is... (self only)
to lie down; to relax; to be calm
to depart, to exit, to escape
to stand (in place), to stay, to wait (for) teūn NOUN seber/nimūr/hoye
to call out
to harm, to hurt
to learn, to discover
to explain, to tell
to live (to be alive)
to trouble, to disturb[s]
to come here, to approach (something)
to blow (on)
to return (to)
to go to...
to turn towards...; to face...
to press; to flatten
(See verb conjugation for better explanation.)
(future tense prefix for verbs ending in -i)
(future tense prefix for verbs ending in -n or other)
(recent past tense prefix for verbs ending in -i)
(recent past tense prefix for verbs ending in -n or other)
(distant past tense prefix)
(continuous, follows verb)
(negative suffix for verbs ending in -i)
(negative suffix for verbs ending in -n or other)
(imperative prefix, precedes tense)
(-doer, one who VERBs) (follows negative)
(a thing that is VERBed) (follows negative, replaces "yemi")
(archaic equivalent of "-ūmi")
(makes gerund, ends subclause(?)) (follows negative)
(makes passive voice) (always precedes other suffixes)
"To be" conjugates irregularly for tenses as follows:
Conjunctions, Prepositions, Etc
in, at (a location), inside
into, at (destination)
over, across, at the other side of
(marks a quote)
to/at (direction); toward
therefore, as a result
and, along with
also, and (sentence connector)
so (vague), because of this
even...; as much as...
however, but (formal)
for (to be offered to, to be used for)...
for (an action for the sake of)...
for (the purpose of doing)...
and then... (finally, after that)
again and again
and then (standard verb connector)
while (see grammar for more information)
then, in that time
the whole time
finally, at long last
day, daytime (from nias sang
night, nighttime (from yalū sang
angry (briefly, in the moment)
varied, complex; made of many different things
angry (long-term, begrudging or simmering), passionate[k]
simple, plain, normal
just, fair, right
wanted, desired (by someone else)
wanted, desired (by the speaker)
lovely, nice (archaic)
complex, difficult (to...)
calm, steady, still (unmoving)
a little bit (of)
light (incl. white and similar colors)
dark (incl. dark colors, black, some shades of purple)
Ngare, "good", conjugates irregularly as kiskare ("not good").
(makes a number ordinal)
quality of, -ness (prefix, makes nouns out of adjectives)
(suffix converting adjective to adverb)
about, roughly, approximately
very, especially ("not very/especially" when used with negative)
deliberately, with intent and awareness of one's actions
too much, excessively; too...
immediately, right away
Other Useful Bits
... isn't it? (marks a tag question) (possibly from "ngis(e)", "is not")
Other Set Phrases
A long time ago... (once upon a time...)
Onomotopoeia & Paralinguistics
(mimesis for knocking or clacking sounds)
ba ba ba
thump thump thump
bs bs bs
(calling an animal or getting attention; pspsps
ʘ ʘ ʘ
(beckoning or directing something)
* Stress falls on first syllable.
[e] Ewa Sio loanword/cognate.
[s] Sateca'an loanword/cognate.
[t] Talnabyak loanword/cognate.
[k] Kintsaya loanword/cognate.
Word order is typically verb-object-subject (VOS). Adjectives precede nouns, but prepositions follow them (except for kel, "about", which precedes the relevant phrase.) Pronoun dropping is common, especially in less formal speech.
Tulten maūnmi she
tell story they
They tell a story.
When describing an action as a noun (i.e. forming a gerund) or adjective (i.e. using it to modify the noun), the word order of the described action often changes to SOV. For example:
Rener she maūnmi tultenha na
want they story tell.GERUND I
I want them to tell a story.
Totimaūn she na maūnmi tultenha mūryūn ti she
PAST.say they I story tell want END-QUOTE they
They said they wanted me to tell a story.
Kanri sohu ūstya maūnmi tultenmil ba
know many thing.PL story tell.DOER person
(The) person who tells stories knows many things.
Doing One Thing, (While) Doing Another
The term "ni" is used to indicate an action happening alongside another.
The structure for this is: ACTION1 sū ACTION2 byū ni. ("Byūka" can be used for "byū" when speaking formally.) Both verbs are given the same tense conjugation.
Kosanmi otrosoani sū otroteūn byū ni na
book PAST.read also PAST.stand CONT while I
I read a book while standing
Naūken sū noekin byū ni sa
speak also sleep CONT while you
You talk in your sleep.
In informal speech this can be even further simplified by removing "sū" and "byū".
Onoekin, oteūn ni she
FUT.sleep FUT.stand while they
They will sleep standing up.
Shasoanis shailis ni, lusū!
IMP.read.NEG IMP.walk.NEG while idiot
Don't walk while reading, idiot!
Two different verbs are used, depending on whether the speaker is describing their own desires, or someone else's.
- rener ...: I want...
- rener ... ha: I want to..., I want (someone/something else) to...
- rener ... yema: I want (someone/something) to... (do something to me), I want to be (VERB)ed by (something)
- mūryūn ... ... : (Someone) wants...
- mūryūn ...-ha ... : (Someone) wants to..., (Someone) wants (someone/something else) to...
- mūryūn ...-yema ... : (Someone) wants (someone/something else) to... (do something to them), (Someone) wants to be (VERB)ed by (something)
Torener tūe na amsanyema
PAST.want them.PL me like.PASSIVE-GERUND
I wanted them to like me.
Mūryūn noekin Nana
want sleep father
Dad wants to sleep
Mūryūn na tūln obusenha she
want me game FUTURE.lose.GERUND they
They want me to lose the (upcoming) game.
Purpose and Service
There are several ways to describe a purpose for action, depending on whether the purpose is an object, a living thing, or an action.
Hoye: To do something to enable or prepare for another action. Specifically used for verbs (though they're phrased as gerunds) - if the action is already a noun, you'd probably use "seber".
Seber: To do something for the sake of an inanimate thing, including a concept or situation.
Nimūr: To do something for someone else, or for their sake. Can sometimes apply to inanimate things, but implies a sort of personification. Suggests benevolence and goodwill, or at least some emotional connection, toward the recipient, where "seber" which is often used for more routine actions or obligations.
Zarnem zeper orin ū
Sarnem seber orin ū
dinner for FUT.buy it
(I) will buy it for dinner.
Sele rona zū maenha hoye yunmeli mayūd se
Shele rona sū maenha hoye yunmeli mayūt she
they.POSS sister with meet.GERUND for-purpose-of go-to city they
They go to the city to meet with their sister.
Baba nimūr otroyaŋi ūz
Baba nimūr otroyangi ūs
mother for-sake-of PAST.bring something
(I) brought something for my mother.
Note that the second sentence, using "hoye", rearranges the phrase "sū maen rona" (VOS) into "rona sū maen" (SOV) for referring to the action like a noun.
Modifying With Verbs
One that verbs, one that is verbed
There are generally two ways to modify nouns with verbs, both using normal verb suffixes. The "mi"/"ūmi" suffix marks one that is VERBed, and the "mil" suffix marks one that VERBs.
When the actor other than the given noun is specified in this structure, it goes between the verb and the noun.
uŋi lū anyan torinūmi gomi
Ngi lū anyan torinūmi komi
is very small PAST.buy.PASSIVE-ADJ drink
The drink that was bought is very small.
roen tanla otrozoanimi na kozanmi
Roen tanla otrosoanimi na kosanmi
exists-in house PAST.read.PASSIVE-ADJ I book
The book I read is in the house.
roen tanla kagedya elimil kozanmi
Roen tanla kaketya elimil kosanmi
exists-in house picture.PL possess.DOER book
The book that has pictures is in the house.
If a verb modifier is applied to a noun that is already a verb derivative, the modifying verbs will also use the adjective suffix -(o)(l)or.
Nouns From Verbs
The most common way to form a noun from a verb is as a gerund, using the suffix -ha.
This suffix goes after the negative but before anything like byū or ang. For verbs ending in vowels, it deletes the final vowel in replacement, and the initial /h/ either becomes /j/ (if the penultimate sound is /n/ or a vowel) or is deleted as well.
tulten (explain) ⟶ tultenha (explanation)
roni (fly) ⟶ ronya (flight)
amyai (argue) ⟶ amyaya (argument)
ili (walk) ⟶ ila (a walk)
kobi (to cut) ⟶ koba (cutting)
Clauses of an if/then statement are connected by a single word in the middle, "kai".
kernse na kay, canaūken na nimūr
Kernse na kai, shanaūken na nimūr
present.NEG I if-then IMP.-speak I for-sake-of
If I am not present, speak on my behalf.
Nouns as Adjectives
Some nouns, like directions already function as adjectives, while others use the suffix -(o)(l)or.
Comparisons, implying -like or -ish, generally use -(o)(l)or. Verb modifiers using the "mi"/"ūmi" and "mil" suffixes use -(o)(l)or if they are being applied to a second verb-based noun.
The suffix varies based on the final sound of the noun. "-or" for nouns ending in /l/, "-lor" for vowel endings (deleting the final vowel if the last consonant is a valid coda), and "-olor" for other consonant endings. Nouns ending in /lV/ lose their final vowel to the suffix.
nias (sun) ⟶ niasolor (sunny)
kol (fragment) ⟶ kolor (fragmented)
tole (fire) ⟶ tolor (fiery)
akūra (gold) ⟶ akūralor (golden)
tasonimil (one who wears (a) cloak) ⟶ tasonimilor nalunmil (cloak-wearing traveler)
To form constructs analogous to "[adjective] one", adjectives can be given the -(ū)mil and -(ū)mi suffixes like verbs. The former usually implies deliberate action or involvement in the quality, while the latter carries connotations of habitual, innate or even accidental qualities outside the noun's control.
toūmil = "the calm/untroubled one; the stoic one" (they are deliberately acting to be/stay calm)
toūmi = "the calm/untroubled one; the carefree one" (they're just like that)
To say someone has something can take three forms. For inanimate objects and features, the verb "eli" refers to traits or qualities, and "ngen" is used for possession of objects.
eli kagedya ūle kozanmi.
Eli kaketya ūle kosanmi.
possess picture.PL DET book
This book has pictures.
'ŋen mayūd ke tanla se.
Ngen mayūt ke tanla she.
possess city in house they-SG
They (sg.) have a house in the city.
However, when talking about people or animals, one uses the structure "... le X roen" (lit. "...'s X exists").
sele anzun roen kay, uŋi bazundya.
Shele ansun roen kai, ngi basuntya.
they.POSS child exist if-then COP mother
If (she) has a child, (she) is a mother.
The term "about" uses the gerund "ha" form and SOV for the topic described, if it's a full sentence or phrase.
tamyai byū kel naile elcihir tahūnha kimin han zū niaz.
Tamyai byū kel naile elshihir tahūnha kimin han sū nias.
DISTANT-PAST.argue CONT about who QUAL.strong DIST-PAST.to-be-greater.GERUND north wind and sun
The Northern Wind and the Sun were arguing (with each other) about who was stronger.
Otrotūin nanim kel na otrokanemi byū na.
Otrotūin nanim kel na otrokanemi byū na.
PAST.learn someone about me PAST.ask CONT I
I heard someone was asking about me.
To say something caused another thing to happen, one typically uses the structure (VERB)ha ilan, "to cause/create [VERB]-ing".
Toilan na ūs sonya baba.
PAST.cause I this wear.GERUND mother.DIM
(My) mom made me wear this.
Can be formed with a final kisa, sometimes even shortened to just sa. The kisa is often drawn out, with a falling tone.
Ber tasayi kel amyar kaketya nanim kisaa.
again DPAST.complain about rude picture.PL someone Q
Someone complained about the rude pictures again, didn't they.
Historical proto-Naūkeman used SVO, but at some point became strongly pro-drop enough that it became common to instead re-introduce the subject at the end of the sentence. Technically, SVO is still recognizable and understood, but sounds very strange outside of deliberately archaic speech!
In northern areas, nearer to Kintsaya and Talnabyak speakers, the /ʌ/ sound gets emphasized instead of de-emphasized, and the sequence /ʌe/C becomes /ʌ/ followed by a syllabic consonant version of C. For example, kuen would be pronounced [kʌn̩].
This dialect also is beginning to develop some consonant gemination, mostly from affixes. For example, the plural suffix of nouns with final t becomes tta, and the sequence C/h/V is often realized as CCV (e.g. sunas'ha, "rejection", becomes [sunasːa]).