o yis     Nouns

The lexical cases of nouns

O Yis is part of the Istran language family. These languages are typically isolating rather than agglutinative, relying on clause syntax to supply grammatical information such as grammatical case (nominative, accusative, etc). Istran languages also make heavy use of noun classifier words: most of the languages have between 200 and 300 classifiers, with each noun having its default classification.

At some point in its development, O Yis speakers started conflating classifier nouns with demonstrative pronouns and (possibly at a later stage) copula words. The result has been the collapse in the number of classifier groups - to a point where it is debatable whether O Yis is a classifier language with a very limited number of classifier groups, or a lexical case language with a very large number of nominal cases.

Proscriptive grammars state that O Yis divides its nouns into 19 separate lexical cases (or genders), though this varies by dialect - some linguists argue that some dialects have collapsed much further, with speakers only distinguishing between 6 regular lexical cases (together with a number of irregular nouns).

Nominal articles

All nouns have articles and, except with personal names (under certain circumstances), the article must always be present in the noun phrase. Articles change according to the noun's topicality, demonstration state, and whether the noun is modifying another noun - supplying eight articles for each of the lexical cases.

Case articles were once nouns in their own right, and the origins of each article can still be seen in the complement sequence of articles. In dictionaries nouns are always shown with their base article (of which there are nine: an, ni, o, y, in, e, by, ze, o) and complement article (unique to each lexical case) to help assign the noun to its correct case.

The names given to the lexical cases are somewhat arbitrary: as the collapse of the classifier system has proceeded classifier groups have been conflated together as much on the phonemic similarities between their eroding classifier words as on the semantic relationships between groups.

A table of noun articles by nominal case

Classifier basic topical near distant genitive pronominal complement modifier
(the) (a) (this) (that) (X's) (it) (Y is X) (Y has/for X)
physical an án aj ab am al a ac
inanimate ni nir nior nim nil nir nirc
constructed ni nib niab nim nil niab nias
structural o ó jol tol tom tol tol toc
locational y ý yl yb um ul y yc
animate y ý yr ort um ul urt urc
animal in ín am laŋ ic
communal in ín riŋ roŋ am laŋ arid aric
consumable e é ej el aem pel pel pec
plant by byj byv bym byle by byc
vegetable by byj byl bym byle byl byc
human e é ej eb em le e ec
relative ze zej zev em le ze ec
authoritative ze zej zev em le zeŋ ec
group an án tin ton tam tala tain taic
conceptual o ó di do om jol do doc
sacred o ó xi xo om xol xo xoc
dangerous e é dzi dzo em lei dzeg dzec
calculated an en riŋ roŋ em len rent rec


Noun number

O Yis nouns are indeclinable: by itself ín harf can mean 'a dog' or 'some dogs'. A noun's number is shown by placing a quantifier word (which can be a formal number or an informal count word) between the noun and its article:

Partitive number is shown by joining two quantifiers with the partitive postposition jer (from) and placing the compound quantifier phrase between the article and noun. When the second quantifier in the compound is didzer (all of), it can be dropped:

This page was last updated on Tecubestuu-14, 531: Salhkuu-20 Gevile