Syntax

Typology

Kotanian is a predominantly head first, predominantly SOV language with SVO tendencies. (...)

The adjectival phrase

Simple adjectival phrase

A simple adjectival phrase consists of a single adjective.

Modifiers

An adjective can be augmented with one or more modifiers. Modifiers always follow the adjective they modify. If more than one modifer is present, they are linked by a simple conjunction, unless one modifier modifies the other (in which case the second has modifier scope).

Adjectival participle phrases

Adjectival participle phrases are adjectival phrases containing at least an adjectivized verb (i.e. a participle) which may have one of four possible forms (imperfective/perfective combined with active/passive; the passive forms can in turn be combined with the indirect passive voice or the middle voice), and optionally one or more of the verb's objects. The subject is always represented by the noun that is modified by the participle phrase.

Objects of participle phrases always occur before the participle, except for oblique objects part of an adverbial phrase (which is transformed into a modifier phrase, occuring after the participle).

Participle phrases are fairly limited in what they can express compared to relative clauses, as participles do not contain tense and mood, and only limited aspect. When a participle phrase cannot express what is needed, a relative clause can be used instead.

Simple participle phrase

A simple participle phrase consist of a participle only, and is therefore in appearance equal to a normal simple adjectival phrase.

Participle phrases with direct object

A simple participle phrase consist of a participle only, and is therefore in appearance equal to a normal simple adjectival phrase.

A participle phrase can include the direct object of the adjectivized verb. In case of a passive participle, this is the original subject of the non-passivized verb.

Participle phrases with indirect object

A participle phrase can include the indirect object of the adjectivized verb. In case of a a passive participle of an indirect passive verb, this is the original subject of the non-passivized verb.

Participle phrases with indirect object

A participle phrase can include the instrumental object of the adjectivized verb.

Participle phrases with verb-scope adverbial phrases

A participle can be modified by a verb-scope adverbial phrase, turned into a modifier phrase.

Participle phrases with adpositional phrases

A participle can be modified by an adpositional phrase. The adpositional phrase is in this case always postpositional.

The noun phrase

Simple noun phrase

The most simple noun phrase is one consisting of only a single noun.

Determiners

A noun can be augmented with a relation specifier, a scope specifier, a quantifier, a count specifier (including the plural specifier) and/or a pronoun clitic. Like all other clitics these are prefixing. See todo for information on the order of clitics.

Adjectival phrases

A noun can be augmented with one or more adjectival phrases. Adjectival phrases always follow the noun they modify. If more than one adjectival phrase is present, they are linked by a simple conjunction, unless the adjectival phrase more distant from the noun modifies the whole of the noun and the adjectival phrase closer to the noun.

Noun compounds

A noun can be augmented by another noun by using noun compounding clitics (see here for a full list). The modifying noun always follows the noun it modifies. If combined with adjectives, the adjective modifies the noun it follows (i.e. either the head noun or the modifying noun), except in set combinations (in writing indicated by a linking dash between the head noun and the clitic, in pronunciation indicated by different stress on the clitic (see todo)). Note however that using a simple conjunction, this default order can be changed (but only if the modifying noun itself does not have adjectives, as otherwise the conjunction would refer to the last of these adjectives).

1Note that diverting nino to the end makes it of less importance, so that a more litteral translation would be "the leaves of that big tree (and they are small)".

When more than one noun modifies the head noun, simple conjunctions are used, like with adjectives (see above). When modifying nouns are strung together without conjunctions, the modifying noun is modyfying the noun it follows, even if that noun itself modifies another one.

Besides adjectives, both the modified noun and the modifying noun can also be augmented by a relative clause.

Relative clauses

A noun can be augmented by a relative clause, which is always restrictive in nature (or semi-apposative in case the head noun is already restricted by use of a scope specifier or adjective). True apposatives are encoded as part of the discourse, and not grammaticalized in syntax (see todo). Relative clauses always follow the noun they modify, with a few exceptions as noted below.

Note that Kotanian does not allow free relative clauses (i.e. relative clauses without an antacedent in the same noun phrase).

Relative clauses are usually formed by using a relative pronoun as the head noun. The relative pronoun is formed by the pronoun pwe (for animate antacedents) or tee (for inanimate antacedents) and the relativizing suffix ol. The resulting pronoun pwole or teole is placed directly after its antacedent unless grammatically not possible.

Subject anaphore

As the unmarked position of subjects is at the start of a clause, a relative pronoun as subject is unmodified and directly follows its antecedent. As with normal pronoun subjects, the relative pronoun subject can be replaced with a pronoun clitic. The relative pronoun clitic is lo.

Direct object anaphore

As the unmarked position of direct objects is after the subject, a relative pronoun as direct object gets the os direct object suffix (forming pwolose and teolose for animate and inanimate antecedents respectively) to allow it to directly follow its antecedent.

Note that depending on the complexity of the sentence and the type of direct object2, instead of having a direct object anaphore, the clause can be put in the passive voice with the relative pronoun as subject.

2Not all direct object types allow forming a passive. See todo for more information.

Indirect object anaphore

Since indirect objects are always marked, a relative pronoun as indirect object can be placed directly after its antecedent without further change.

Instrumental object anaphore

Since instrumental objects are always marked, a relative pronoun as instrumental object can be placed directly after its antecedent without further change.

Adpositional object anaphore

If an adpositional phrase contains the anaphore, the phrase must be postpositional to allow the anaphore to follow its antecedent (see todo for more information on postpositional vs. prepositional phrases). Instead of a relative pronoun, the relative pronoun clitic (lo) can be used as well.

Adverbial object anaphore

Adverbial phrases with objects, which are in Kotanian limited to locational and directional adverbs with their reference point, like adverbial phrases with only an adverb, always directly follow the main verb. Therefore an adverbial object cannot be an anaphore, as it cannot directly follow its antecedent. In order to allow an adverbial object to be an anaphore, the adverbial phrase is transformed into a postpositional phrase.

In the example above, the adverbial phrase rakìs letlày (from sèrgème tlawèndosasta rakìs letlày - the peach was wiped from the table) is transformed to a postpostional phrase, allowing rakìs to be replaced by the relative pronoun teole.

Noun compound anaphore

The modifying noun of a noun compound (i.e. the noun following the compound clitic) cannot be moved to the front of the compound. To allow such a noun to be an anaphore, it is one of the exceptions to the rule that the anaphore must directly follow its antecedent.

Plurals

Plural antecedents are usually referred to by a relative pronoun that is not overtly marked plural (i.e. which does not have the ko clitic).

In case of a composed plural participant of which only one part is the anaphore, that part is replaced by the relative pronoun.

Relative clauses with clause-scope adverbs

Clause-scope adverbs are usually placed at the start of a clause. When a relative clause contains such an adverb, the adverb may be placed at the start of the subclause, before the relative pronoun, although it may also be moved to after the pronoun. In the former case it is one of the exceptions to the rule that the anaphore must directly follow its antecedent.

Direct object antacedent

When the antacedent is direct object in the main clause and placed directly in front of the verb, its relative clause may follow the verb phrase. This is the only case in which antacedent and relative clause may be seperated.

Non-pronoun anaphore

Though the use of a relative pronoun or pronoun clitic accounts for most uses, it is possible to use an ordinary noun with the relativizing suffix. For a more elaborate description of its use see todo.

Nested relative clauses

Relative clauses can be nested in other relative clauses.

Reduced embedded sub-clause in relative clause

An embedded subclause may follow the anaphore.

Relative clauses with a subordinate clause

Relative clauses may contain a subordinate clause.

Relative clauses consisting of multiple coordinated clauses

A relative clause may consist of multiple coordinated clauses. In this case, all instances of the anaphore are marked with the relativizing suffix (or use the relative pronoun clitic).

3Note that although the translation is grammatically akward, the Kotanian sentence is grammatically correct.

Impossibility of sub-clause anaphore

Participants of a sub-clause (whether an embedded sub-clause or a non-embedded one), cannot be used as anaphore. Instead, this situation is encoded by discourse embedding of the dependent clause, using normal pronouns instead of relative ones. In this case, there is no morphological or syntactical distinction between a restrictive clause and an apposative one.

Gerunds

Gerunds are nominalized clauses containing at least a nominalized verb (which may be the bare verb, but may also contain aspect, tense and/or mood suffixes), and optionally one or more of the verb's participants. As described here (todo), the verbal nominalization suffix is ike. As opposed to a normal clause that have participants described in terms of subject and objects, the gerund marks participants based on their semantic role. This is especially visible in gerunds formed of verbs with a different voice than the, unmarked, active voice.

Note that the term gerund is applied to both the entire noun phrase (including participants) and the nominalized verb itself. In the description below, the narrow description of the latter is mostly used, and 'gerund phrase' is used to describe the former.

Simple gerunds

A simple gerund consists only of a nominalized bare verb. It is therefore indistinguishable from the simple verbal noun, which also takes the ike suffix.

Gerunds with patient/theme

The patient of a gerund is placed directly after it. This distinguishes the gerund from the verbal noun, which uses ordinary noun compounding to indicate the relationship between it and its direct object. The patient is always unmarked, as opposed to a direct object that may be marked with the os indirect object suffix.

Gerunds with agent/experiencer

The agent of a gerund is marked with the om suffix. If a patient is present, it is placed after the patient, otherwise it is placed after the gerund, giving the gerund phrase a VOS word order. Instead of an agent marked with om it is also possible to use a pronoun clitic (which is considered a determiner, as opposed to pronoun clitics modifying a verb).

Gerunds with recepient/beneficiary

The recipient of a gerund is marked with the ër clitic, like the indirect object of a normal clause. It is usually placed at the end of the gerund phrase, unless an instrumental object is present (see below).

Note that the last example can be extended to show gerund phrases can be embedded in other gerund phrases, although the example below is rather artificial.

Gerunds with instrument

The instrument of a gerund is marked with the òn clitic, like the instrumental object of a normal clause. It is usually placed at the end of the gerund phrase.

Gerunds with verb-scope adverbial phrases

When a verb-turned-into-a-gerund is augmented by one or more adverbial phrases, the adverbial suffix ày is replaced by the adjectival suffix o. Note however that the phrase is still considered adverbial, not adjectival. Like in a normal verb phrase where the adverbal phrase follows the verb, the adverbal phrase directly follows the gerund.

Impossibility of gerunds with clause scope adverbs / negative gerunds

Clause scope adverbs cannot occur in a gerund. In order to allow negative gerunds (i.e. gerunds of a clause headed by anèh), the negative prefix is used.

Gerunds with oblique participants

A normal clause may have a direct object that is not a patient or theme, as a result of the promotion of an oblique object from an adpositional adverbial phrase to a direct object (see todo). When such a clause is transformed into a gerund phrase, the promotion is reversed by demoting the direct object back to the oblique object of an adverbial phrase. In case the original clause omitted the adpositional adverb, it is reintroduced.

Gerunds with subclause

When a clause that is accompanied by a subordinate clause is turned into a gerund phrase, the entire subclause goes unmodified after it.

In case the subclause is part of the verbs argument structure, it may directly follow the gerund in case no other participant is present, or be referenced with ëwe otherwise.

Coordinated gerunds

When coordinated clauses are turned into a gerund phrase, both are made into a gerund separately, with the coordinating conjunction between them (as it was in the original sentence).

Impossibility of gerunds with auxiliary verbs

A clause containing an auxiliary verb cannot be turned into a gerund phrase directly. Instead, the auxiliary verb is first promoted to a normal verb, taking a subclause as argument. The promoted auxiliary can then be transformed into a gerund phrase with a subclause.

4From màje ëwe kèla kwìh màje sèrgème mèra

Instead of a subclause, the promoted auxiliary can also take a gerund phrase as argument. This gerund phrase can in turn be embedded in the new gerund phrase.

5From màje mèrike sèrgème kèla

Note that although in this form the two consecutive gerund phrases may appear to be one gerund phrase created by suffixing both the auxiliary and the main verb, this is not the case, as the the second gerund is syntactically embedded in the first. This is especially noticeable when the clause is marked for tense, aspect or mood: though an auxiliary verb is not marked, the "auxiliary" gerund is:

6From màje ëwe kèlasta kwìh ma-mèrôa. The relative tense (ô) is typically not encoded in a gerund.

The adverbial phrase

Simple adverbial phrase

A simple adverbial phrase consists of a single adverb.

Modifiers

An adverb can be augmented with one or more modifiers. Modifiers always follow the adverb they modify. If more than one modifer is present, they are linked by a simple conjunction, unless one modifier modifies the other (in which case the second has modifier scope).

Noun phrase

Adpositional adverbs, i.e. adverbs derived from adpositions (either directly with verbs of location or indirectly with verbs of motion), may have a noun phrase indicating the reference point of the location or motion. The adverb follows the noun phrase, making the adverbial phrase one of only two head-last phrases (the other one being the postpositional phrase). Note that in most cases, the noun phrase is promoted to direct object, leaving the adverb bare.

Adverbial participle phrases

Adverbial participle phrases are adverbial phrases containing at least an adverbalized verb (i.e. a participle), which may have one of two possible forms (active imperfective or passive imperfective, as opposed to the four to six possible forms of adjectival participle phrases), and optionally the verb's direct object (which always occurs before the participle).

Note that since adverbs are limited to adverbs of manner, there are severe semantic restrictions to which verbs can be turned into adverbial participles, and which verbs they can modify. The semantic restrictions also account for the fact that an adverbial participle phrase cannot include more than a verb's direct object (which is the original subject in case of the passive imperfective): all other objects (indirect, instrumental and oblique) cannot semantically be part of the phrase.

If using an adverbial participle phrase is too limited, a subordinate clause (todo) can be used.

7Note that this could also be translated with òn-kate, using the instrumental prefix.

The verb phrase

Simple verb phrase

A simple verb phrase consists of a single verb.

Pronoun clitics

A pronoun clitic can be used as replacement of a subject. Like all clitics it comes before it's head.

Determiners

Several of the determiners can also be applied to a verb. Note that subject-replacing pronoun clitics are not considered determiners when applied to verbs (though they are considered determiners when applied to other parts of speech like nouns, including gerunds).

8Although the translation uses a gerund, the Kotanian example is a normal verb, using the potential aspect.

Adverbial phrases

A verb can be augmented with one or more adverbial phrases. Adverbial phrases always follow the verb they modify. If more than one adverbial phrase is present, they are linked by a simple conjunction, unless the outermost adverbial phrase modifies both the verb and the inner adverbial phrase.

Auxiliary verbs

Kotanian has several aspectual and modal auxiliary verbs. These verbs appear before the main verb. If both aspectual verbs and modal verbs appear, the modal verbs appear before the aspectual verbs. If more than one auxiliary verb appears, those further from the verb modify those closer to the verb (note that this implies that modal verbs modify aspectual ones if both are present). See here for a full list of auxiliary verbs.

Suffixes of tense, aspect and mood attach to the main verb, with the exception of certain aspects that attach to aspectual auxiliary verbs, and certain moods that attach to modal auxiliary verbs. See here for a full list of these exceptions.

Pronoun clitics attach to the first auxiliary verb. When a direct object is present, it is usually placed before the main verb, so between the last auxiliary verb and the main verb. Other objects are usually not placed between the auxiliary verbs and the main verb. When more than one auxiliary verb is present, the auxiliary verbs always follow each other, without any other phrase in between. Note also that auxiliary verbs cannot be modified by adverbial phrases, they are always bare.