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LotM - Nov 21: Yashuhay
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Happy November! This month we’re taking a long over-due look at @loglorn’s amazing Yashuhay!
This public article was written by Admin Sheep, and last updated on 7 Nov 2021, 17:17.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. Phonology 2. Grammar 3. Background 4. More on Yashuhay 5. A Note on Yashuhay November brings with it a beautiful Ngerupic language, @Loglorn's  Yashuhay, which features such goodies as a wonky phonology, split-ergativity, and a super complex morphological system.

[top]Phonology

Yashuhay features a medium-sized phonetic inventory, with 19 phonemes. Its consonant inventory is fairly small, with only 14 consonant phonemes. A notable quirk is that Yashuhay lacks liquids, either rhotics or laterals, which is an areal feature. Yashuhay also features a phonemic contrast between the alveolar and dental nasal among certain speakers, e.g. hana /ˈhan̪a ~ˈhana/ “approach” and hana /ˈhana/ “ordinary.”

Yashuhay has a basic five-vowel inventory, with each vowel also displaying a length distinction and lexical stress. Vowel hiatus containing short vowels is fairly limited, with only /a.a/, /a.Vː/, and /Vː.a/ being licit. However, hiatus between two long vowels is universally licit, and is very common, especially as many morphological processes in Yashuhay give rise to them.

Yashuhay has a fairly simple syllable structure. Codas are pretty limited, with only nasals and approximants being allowed word-internally, and word-finally buccal plosives and /h/ are allowed. Yashuhay also has a fairly complex way of dealing with illicit clusters, which generally involves the simplification of clusters to single sounds.

[top]Grammar

Alright, let’s dive into the meat of Yashuhay: its grammar. Yashuhay has a big noun class system, containing nine classes, which are closely tied to number. Five of the classes are singular, three are plural, and one is dual. Which class a noun takes as its plural is lexically determined, and certain singular classes are more associated with a plural class. Of the singular classes, class one is comprised exclusively of nouns referring to humans, class three contains the majority of bodyparts, class five contains various different categories, class five is comprised of fauna and flora terminology, and class nine is where most abstractions are located.

Yashuhay has a fairly complex case system, with 7 cases: Absolutive, Ergative, Genitive, Dative, Locative, Comitative, and Ablative. All Yashuhay nouns are either alienable or inalienable. Nouns pertaining to kinship and bodyparts are typically inalienable, while most other nouns are alienable. A fun quirk is that in Yashuhay, inalienable nouns are always possessed, and the unpossessed forms are ungrammatical:

  • menta menta “my mother”
  • megul menguth “your mother”
  • * meg meng “mother”


Yashuhay pronouns, just like the nouns, distinguish 7 cases, as well as an additional form lacking in the nouns, a focus form. These focus forms actually come in handy, as Yashuhay lacks words for “yes” or “no,” and instead uses the focus pronouns. Let’s say a Shohai chap asks me yathu koshúnantuupya ko “did you try the curry?” I would respond with the class 9 focus pronoun, ngeko, since the word for curry is in class 9. If I wanted to say “no,” I would have to repeat the verb and negate it, since unfortunately focus pronouns themselves can’t be negated. Another use of the focus pronouns is an “agressive vocative,” which can be made particularly insulting by addressing someone with a focus pronoun of a noun class other than 1 or 2, that is, classes not commonly used to refer to humans.

Not much is known about Yashuhay verbs, but it is clear that they are very complex, with noun class agreement, valency and volition marking, and fused deictic imperatives. To show you how nuts Yashuhay verbs can be, here is an example sentence:

yalu koha"tyoko:h papo":h ge":m yapapo":pya papo":h
Yathu kohátyokooh papóoh ngéem yapapóopya papóoh?
ERGErgative (case)
TRANS subject; agent
.2SSecond person singular (person)
addressee (you)
G9Gender 9 (gender/class)-QInterrogative
question
-believe-2PSecond person plural (person)
addressee (plural)
-VOLVolitional (role)
volition, with intention, not by accident
-IPFVImperfective (aspect)
'interrupted or incomplete'
ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument
-G2Gender 2 (gender/class)-ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument
.G2Gender 2 (gender/class)-IPFVImperfective (aspect)
'interrupted or incomplete'
PRSNPerson (gender/class)
person, sentient being
.SKUnknown code GENGenitive (case)
possessive
-G2Gender 2 (gender/class)-say-VOLVolitional (role)
volition, with intention, not by accident
-PFVPerfective (aspect)
completed action
ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument
-G2Gender 2 (gender/class)-ABSAbsolutive (case)
TRANS object, INTR argument
.G2Gender 2 (gender/class)-IPFVImperfective (aspect)
'interrupted or incomplete'

Do you believe they’re who they say they are?

Be sure to check out Yashuhay’s extensive reference grammar (over 60 pages!) for more juicy info.

[top]Background

Yashuhay is one of the two national languages of the CWSP country of  Shohai. It is spoken by over 6 million people, and is the main language used in academia and mass media. It is taught in most schools in the country, and as such is a very healthy language. Yashuhay is ultimately a Ngerupic language, and its history is closely tied with that of Shohai languages. In fact, the name “Yashuhay” comes from Classical Shohue and means “of the desert.”

[top]More on Yashuhay

That wraps up our tour of Yashuhay! There's loads more to read, so check out the LexiBuild sets, reference grammar, and translations!

[top]A Note on Yashuhay

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Yashuhay that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot me (@litrobotix) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!
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