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Lesson #2: Throw the ball to me!
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Basic sentence structure in Beoǧǧen
This public article was written by Graig, and last updated on 23 Aug 2016, 02:49.

[comments] Menu 1. What is trigger alignment and how does it work? 2. Direct and Indirect; who’s your verb is pointing at? 3. Review
Tro gagäd Boucniner kact

Look at all those words! By the end of this lesson, you’ll not only know what it means, but you should know why it means what it means.

[top]What is trigger alignment and how does it work?

There is some unavoidable grammar stuff we have to get out of the way from the start - Beoǧǧen is a Trigger type language. Put simply, this means that you know who is doing what to whom in Beoǧǧen from a combination of verb and noun endings. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry, it should all be clear soon.
Let’s discuss what an agent and a patient is. An agent does the action (verb) and a patient has the action done to them - simple! So, in the sentence John hits the ball, John is doing the hitting, so he’s the agent, and the ball is being hit, so it’s the patient. How about Sue eats eggs? Well, Sue is doing the eating, and the eggs are being eaten, so Sue is the agent, and the eggs are the patient. Great! How about Mary dances? Mary is dong the dancing, so agent she is! How about Ian fell? Ian might be doing the falling, but he isn’t very well doing it on purpose, so that would make him a patient, in this case. There is a degree of volition in working out who’s a patient and who’s and agent, especially when there’s only one noun (person or object) with the verb. You can always ask yourself, ‘is she doing it, or is it happening to her?’, and that should clear things up!

Try: What are the agents, and what are the patients in the following sentences? 1. I ran. 2. He swung the bat. 3. Paul encourages his team. 4. She’s liked by everyone
▼ Answers
1. I = agent 2. He = agent, bat = patient. 3. Paul = agent, his team = patient 4. Everyone = agent, she = patient (think - who is doing the liking, who is being liked?)

How does this relate to Beoǧǧen? A Beoǧǧen verb will always come with an ending that tells you whether you’re focused on the agent or the patient in the sentence. Let’s look at our sentence from the top of the lesson. The verb in that sentence is gagäd, to throw (the very first word just tells us that that the verb is done and in the past). But if you look up ‘throw’ in a dictionary, you’ll only find ga, because the last part of the word, -gäd, is actually telling us what trigger we’re setting up - what words will be doing what, later on in the sentence. In this case, the trigger is an agent trigger, meaning the noun coming up that is in the direct case will be the agent. What’s a direct case? Good question.

[top]Direct and Indirect; who’s your verb is pointing at?

There are only four cases in Beoǧǧen. A case is just an ending on a noun that tells you what it’s doing in the sentence. In English we know who’s doing the throwing in John threw the ball because John comes first and the ball comes second. In Beoǧǧen you’ll know because of how the words end.

Actually, you almost always have a fixed word order in Beoǧǧen too, but there are other reasons the cases are helpful…

The two main cases you’ll see all the time are the direct and indirect. The indirect is unmarked, which means the noun won’t have any special endings. We’ll look at the endings for the direct case later. Direct nouns are the ones the verb is pointing at. So if you have a verb with an agent trigger, the noun in the direct case is the agent. If you have a verb with a patient trigger, the noun in the direct case will be the patient. And of course, the indirect noun will be playing the other role - patient in an agent trigger sentence, agent in a patient trigger sentence.

Let’s look at that first sentence again. We now know that Tro gagäd means threw and that it’s an agent trigger verb. So what role will the direct noun play? The agent! The next word, Boucniner is that agent! Boucnin is a name (for women, meaning ‘quiet wisdom’), and the -er ending tells us it’s the direct noun - it’s linked directly to the verb, making it the agent. Only one word to go! Kact is the Beoǧǧen word for ball. I guess you can see where this is going. Since kact has no ending at all, it’s in the indirect case, which in this sentence would make it the patient. Tro gagäd Boucniner kact; `'Threw Boucnin the ball’ - Boucnin threw the ball! Tro gagäd Boucniner kact!
Let’s look at something linguists call a gloss - basically just breaking down a sentence into all it’s parts so we can really see what’s going on:

PSTPast (tense)
action occurred before moment of speech
.PERFPerfect (aspect/tense)
have verb-ed
throw-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.AVAgent trigger (voice)
Austronesian alignment; triggers Nom-Acc
boucnin-SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
.DRDirect (case)
unmarked case, vs oblique or indirect
ball.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
.IDRIndirect (case)
indirect or oblique, vs direct

Note: if you hover over some of those abbreviations, you can see what they stand for. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of them yet.

Finally, let’s look at those last two cases. First the dative. Dative case is just a catch-all case for everyone or thing else involved in the sentence. Sit is the Beoǧǧen word for I or me, in the dative case. What happens if we add it to the end of our sentence?

Tro gagäd Boucniner kact sit
Boucnin threw the ball to me

Nice! And how about that last case? The locative case tells us where something happens or where something comes from/is going. Let's add one word to our sentence:

Tro gagäd Boucniner kact sit khaspictan
Boucnin threw the ball to me in the courtyard

Khaspict is the Beoǧǧen for courtyard, and -an tells us it's a location for the action. Khaspict comes from the word khasp, well (where you get water) and ict, sun. Lots of words in Beoǧǧen are actually two words stuck together. I'll try to highlight when those words show up - that way you can get three pieces of vocab for the price of one! how do you say that 'h' in the khasp? For that, you'll have to wait till next time!


1. What is an agent?
2. What is the direct case?
3. What does a patient trigger do?
4. What does ga mean?
5. How do you say sun?
▼ Answers
1. The agent is the person or thing that does the action in a sentence.
2. The direct case links a noun to the verb - agent trigger means it's the agent, patient trigger means it's the patient.
3. The patient trigger makes the direct noun the patient of the sentence.
4. Throw
5. Ict
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