Anthologica Universe Atlas / Universes / Context 34 / Weyötiss / Syntax

Word order

Weyötiss may be described as an SOV language, but this is not quite accurate. The basic structure of a Weyötiss sentence is:

subject - object/focus - verb - remainder

The subject always comes first. The object of the verb may come second, or may be replaced with a more salient word or phrase. The verb always comes third, and precedes any other elements in the sentence.

From this basic pattern there are several deviations:

  • Imperative sentences. A verb in the imperative, or in the optative with imperative sense, comes first. The subject is always omitted (even in the third person), and the object always comes after the verb. Hence:
    Νεϝο̨μινswim-PRES-OPT-1PL ινin τα̨F.DAT.SG θαλαττsea τα̨F.DAT.SG τοM.GEN.SG ηονιμμς.racism
    Let's swim in the sea of racism.

  • Changes in valency. An object (which may be dative or accusative) may be promoted to the subject of the sentence, forming the equivalent of a passive. The object retains its case; the existing nominative of the sentence is always omitted. The verb takes the third-person, but agrees in number with the subject:
    ΤαF.ACC.PL μοςbanana υποnot-yet ινσηολαship_in-VN εθον.do.AOR-3PL
    I'm sorry; the bananas haven't been shipped in yet.

  • Particles. The interrogative partical αρ always stands at the beginning of a sentence, before the subject. It does not affect the order of the rest of the sentence. Enclitic particles such as -'ν, -'ς, -κι, -μο are treated as part of the noun clause to which they are attached and do not affect word order.

  • The negative adverb μα̨, when it directly modifies the verb, usually precedes it, and so takes the place of the verb's object.

Predicate clauses

The predicate clause is a grammatical formation with various purposes. It is similar to an absolute construction, but has a wider range of usage and of formation. The predicate clause consists of an adjective, which is most often a compound, associated with a noun, and generally implies intention or result. Thus:

Ιογ1SG.NOM ταF.GEN.SG αϝανα̨κο̨χτοnot-wife-having=2SG κατηελςlaugh_at.VN τθιμ,do-PRES.1SG τυη2SG.NOM επfor το̨2SG.DAT σηιτοποπς.food-cooking-M
I am laughing at your wifelessness, as a result you are cooking your own food.

A predicate clause may also refer to a noun earlier in the sentence, in which case it is usually not separated with commas (and also gives some lie to the word "clause"):

ΟM.NOM.SG ορανςheaven ταN.ACC.PL ανα̨ρθομονnot-countable-N ϝερρονthing ͱενhave.AOR-3SG ανθροποτροφον.man-rearing-N
Heaven brings forth innumerable things to nurture man.

The difference, in this case, between a predicate clause and simple adjectival usage (i.e. τα ϝερρον τα ανθροποτροφον) is that the former implies something closer to potential or future action, i.e. things which will or can nurture man, whereas the latter implies a present and or ongoing property, i.e. things which are or have been nurturing man.

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