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The grammar of nouns in Tandi
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 4 Sep 2017, 14:15.

[Public] ? ?
3. Names ? ?
4. Nouns ? ?
5. Numerals ? ?
6. Pronouns ? ?
7. Verbs ? ?
Menu 1. Structure 2. Class 3. Case 4. Definiteness 5. Number 6. Possessor
[edit] [top]Structure

Nouns are highly inflecting. They decline to show possession, class, case, and number. The structure of a fully-declined noun is:


  • Everything that’s green encompasses the noun itself and its own morphology.
  • Everything that’s red encompasses any compounded words.
  • Everything that’s bold is (in most cases) required.
  • [Each set of brackets indicates a distinct item or set of fusional morphemes.]-[Each set of brackets is separated by a hyphen for legibility.]
  • (Each set of parentheses indicates distinct information encoded in inflectional morphology.)

There are three classes, reflecting the animacy of the noun. These classes are hierarchical. This means that if multiple nouns from multiple classes are referenced by a single noun or pronoun, the highest animacy present is used (e.g. if a group contains a human and two rocks, the group would be referred to using the animate class). Similarly, if the animacy of the referent is unknown (e.g. in questions), the highest possible animacy is used.

  1. Animate
  2. Inanimate
  3. Abstract

Nouns do not have special endings for each class when in the absolutive (the dictionary form), so the class for each noun must be memorized or referenced. Each class of nouns declines with a separate set of endings.

Nouns decline to fifteen different grammatical cases, according to their usage in a sentence.

Ergative - ERGErgative (case)
TRANS subject; agent

The ergative is used to denote the agent or subject of a transitive verb.

Absolutive - ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument

The absolutive is used to denote the agent or subject of an intransitive verb, and the object of a transitive verb. Generally, the absolutive indicates that a verb is finished and/or had a result (e.g. it is telic).

Partitive - PTVPartitive (number)
'some of' or for mass nouns

The partitive is used in the same place as an absolutive would be, except that it indicates that a verb is unfinished and/or irresultative (e.g. it is atelic).

Vocative - VOCVocative (case)
'O [addressee]'

The vocative is used to address or invoke a specific person or thing.

Genitive - GENGenitive (case)

The genitive is used to mark the possessor of a noun.

Dative - DATDative (case)
indirect object; recipient, beneficiary, location

The dative is used to mark the indirect object of a verb.

Lative - LATLative (case)
movement, towards

The lative is used to mark motion toward a location. It corresponds to the English prepositions "to" or "into".

Locative - LOCLocative (case)
'in, on, at' etc

The locative is used to indicate a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", and "at".

Ablative - ABLAblative (case)
away from

The ablative is used to mark motion away from a location.

Prolative - PROUnknown code
The prolative is used to mark motion through or "by way of".

Instrumental - INSTRInstrumental (case)
'with' 'using'

The instrumental is used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action.

Benefactive - BENBenefactive (case)
recipient of benefit

The benefactive case expresses that the referent of the noun it marks receives the benefit of the situation expressed by the clause. It corresponds vaguely to the English preposition "for".

Causal - CAUCausal (case)
'because (of)'

The causal indicates that a subject causes someone or something else to do or be something. It corresponds vaguely to the English "because of".

Comitative - COMComitative (case)
'together with'

The comitative denotes accompaniment. It corresponds vaguely to the English "with" or "together with".

Privative - PRVPrivative (case)

The privative denotes the lack or absence of the marked noun. In English, the corresponding function is expressed by the preposition "without" or by the suffix "-less".

[edit] [top]Definiteness

Nouns decline to show definiteness. Unmarked nouns are indefinite (corresponding to the English "a" or "an"). This indicates a non-specific or general instance of a noun. Nouns can be marked definite (corresponding to the English "the"), which indicates a specific or known instance of a noun.

a nonspecific referent
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
.ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument

(a) dog

.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
.ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument

the dog

[edit] [top]Number

Nouns can be marked as singular or plural.

[edit] [top]Possessor

When a noun is possessed by another noun, the possessor is declined to the genitive.

triet mem
/t̪ɾiet̪ mem/
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
.ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument
1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
-GENGenitive (case)

my dog

However, oftentimes when the possessor is known and would be stated as a pronoun, rather than stating the pronoun and declining it to the genitive, the possessed noun can take a possessive prefix that matches the person, animacy, and number of the possessor. The pronoun itself can then be dropped from the sentence.

1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.GENGenitive (case)
a nonspecific referent
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
.ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument

my dog
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