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Shikathi Sentence Structure
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Basic Syntax
This public article was written by Vulcanman, and last updated on 26 May 2020, 12:31.

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20. Verbs
Menu 1. Basic Sentence Structure 2. Grammatical Modifiers 3. Oddball Modifiers 4. Determiners 5. Adpositional Phrases 6. Modifiers with Adpositions 7. Gerunds 8. Participles 9. Passive and Middle Voice 10. Coordination and Subordination
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[top]Basic Sentence Structure


Modern Shikathi is an SOV language, the subject is always at the beginning of the sentence followed by any direct/indirect objects, and then followed by the verb. It’s important to note that a Shikathi verb itself is a phrase composed of two words (noun/adjective + verbalizer). For more detailed information on verbs, go here.

Example 1:

The boy speaks
vlash azhā akām.
boy word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree


Example 2:

The boy speaks Shikathi.
vlash shykāðī azhā lator.
boy Shikathi word TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree


Example 3:

The boy speaks to the girl.
vlash shlog azhā akām.
boy girl word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



I should note here that in modern Shikathi, there is no way to differentiate between a direct object (ACC) from an indirect (DAT); nor does Shikathi use prepositions to the same extent that English does. Modern Shikathi heavily relies on word placement as well as context clues. In Example 2, the verbalizer lator is transitive thereby requiring a direct object. In Example 3, the verbalizer akām is intransitive making the object indirect. There are exceptions to this rule as akām also doubles as a middle voice marker. This will be explained later on.

If a sentence contains both an indirect and direct object, the indirect is always first, followed by the direct.

Example 4:

The boy speaks Shikathi to the girl.
vlash shlog shykāðī azhā lator.
boy girl Shikathi word TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



[top]Grammatical Modifiers


Shikathi modifiers include adjectives and adverbs. They are usually placed after the elements being modified. Most modifiers are distinguished by the suffix -thī or -ðī. There is no morphological distinction between adjectives or adverbs. If the modifier follows a noun (except gerunds), it is an adjective; and if it follows a verb (or gerund) it is an adverb.

Example 1 (adjectival modifier):

The Shikathi boy speaks.
vlash shykāðī azhā akām.
boy Shikathi word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree


Example 2 (adverbial modifier):

The boy speaks in a Shikathi way. (i.e. The boy has a Shikathi accent. / The boy speaks like a Shikathi person)
vlash azhā akām shykāðī.
boy word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
Shikathi

▼ syntax tree


Again, it’s very important to remember the context clues especially transitivity to avoid miscommunication. Consider the following two sentences:

The boy speaks Shikathi to the girl.
vlash shlog shykāðī azhā lator.
boy girl Shikathi word TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



The boy speaks to the Shikathi girl.
vlash shlog shykāðī azhā akām.
boy girl Shikathi word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



And just for the fun of it:

The Soranthi boy speaks Shikathi with a Shikathi accent to the Shikathi girl.
vlash sorānthī shlog shykāðī shykāðī azhā lator shykāðī.
boy Soranthi girl Shikathi Shikathi word TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
Shikathi

▼ syntax tree



[top]Oddball Modifiers



While most modifiers end in -thī or -ðī. There are many that don’t. There are two possible reasons for this:
1) The suffix simply has been dropped over time
2) The meaning of the original word with the suffix has changed over time.

Many of the modifiers without the suffix are adverbs. Even though these modifiers might not have the normal suffix ending, their placement in the sentence remains the same.

Here are some examples of more common ones:

The boy speaks to the girl daily.
vlash shlog azhā akām gorzhkne.

The boy only speaks to the girl.
vlash shlog azhā akām īkrī.

The lonely boy only speaks to the girl.
vlash īkrīðī shlog azhā akām īkrī.

Only the boy speaks to the girl
vlash īkrī shlog azhā akām.

The boy never speaks.
vlash azhā akām vomharī.



[top]Determiners


In Shikathi, determiners are a type of modifier. Some determiners always have the -thī or -ðī suffix, while others never do. And yet there are still others that can go both ways but change meaning depending on whether the suffix is present. All follow the same syntactic rules as outlined above.

Note: Shikathi does not have a definite or indefinite article.

One boy speaks.
vlash zen azhā akām.

The first boy speaks.
vlash zenthī azhā akām.

This boy speaks.
vlash ämdrāðī azhā akām.

The boy over here speaks.
vlash ämdra azhā akām.

This one speaks.
ämdra azhā akām.

My boy speaks.
vlash ūmthī azhā akām.

With some determiners, not only have they lost their -thī or -ðī suffix, but they have become suffixes themselves. These were once true adjectives and are made up mostly of quantifiers. Their adverbial counterparts still remain as separate words with the -thī or -ðī suffix intact. (Although colloquially these too are beginning to change.

Many boys speak.
vlāshkytao azhā akām.

The boys speak a lot / often.
vlāshky azhā akām taoðī.

Few boys speak.
vlāshkytaotr azhā akām.

The boys speak a little / rarely.
vlāshky azhā akām taotorthī.



[top]Adpositional Phrases


Shikathi adpositions are mostly postpositional but can be prepositional with a change of meaning. Go here to find more detailed information on adpositions. Remember that in Modern Shikathi, adpositions are attached to the end of the word. For the purpose of diagramming the sentence, I will separate them back out.

In dealing with adpositions, word order is extremely important so as not to miscommunicate / misunderstand what one is trying to say. Since English can be ambiguous, I will provide a small scenario to accompany each translation. To make the Shikathi meaning more clear.

Example 1: There is only one boy and one girl next to him. He speaks to her.

The boy speaks to the girl next to him.
vlash shlog indrādruk azhā akām.
boy girl 3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-next word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



Example 2: There are two boys and one girl. One boy talks to the girl and this is happening next to another boy. Here, it is not clear if the two boys are next to each other or across from each other with the girl in the middle.

The boy speaks to the girl next to him.
vlash shlog azhā akām indrādruk.
boy girl word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-next

▼ syntax tree



Example 3: There are two boys and one girl. Contrary to example 2, it is very clear that the two boys are next to each other while one talks to the girl. It is not clear if the girl is across from the speaker or next to the speaker.

The boy next to him speaks to the girl.
vlash indrādruk shlog azhā akām.
boy 3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-next girl word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



Some examples of multiple adpositions within a sentence:

Example 4: There is only one boy and one girl next to him. He speaks to her. They are both inside the house.

The boy speaks to the girl next to him in the house.
vlash shlog indrādruk azhā akām fānydrae.
boy girl 3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-next word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
house-in

▼ syntax tree


Example 5: There is only one boy and one girl next to him. He speaks to her but he is the one in the house and she is outside. Perhaps he is speaking through a doorway or a window.

The boy in the house speaks to the girl next to him.
vlash fānydrae shlog indrādruk azhā akām.
boy house-in girl 3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-next work INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree


** In the example above, a better English translation to capture the true meaning of the sentence might be: “The boy speaks to the girl nearby from inside the house.” However, the Shikathi choice of preposition for the girl implies a much closer location than the English preposition "nearby"; and so we're still left with an approximation of the true Shikathi meaning.


[top]Modifiers with Adpositions



If there are multiple adpositions within the same clause, the order is Place - Manner - Time. One caveat to this rule is that modifiers will always trump the adpositional phrases in the order of placement within a clause.

What this means is that if “time” is an adverb while “place” and “manner” are expressed via adpositional phrases, “time” will come first in the order, then “place”, and then “manner”.

If there are multiple modifiers in use, the order reverts to the standard place-manner-time sequence.

Example 1:
He walked in the park with his dog in the morning.
shlozhn indratorakām gorzhinthī hägorplyrefānydrae arlhäthdrō.
path 3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-PSTPast (tense)
action occurred before moment of speech
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
morning-ADVAdverbial
e.g. English '-ly'
park-in dog-with

▼ syntax tree


Example 2: There are two boys and a girl. One boy speaks to the girl. The boy speaking has a Shikathi accent. This is all happening next to the other boy.

The boy speaks to the girl next to him with a Shikathi accent every morning.
vlash shlog azhā akām shikāðī gorzhinkythīne indrādruk.
boy girl word INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
Shikathi morning-PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
-ADVAdverbial
e.g. English '-ly'
-whole 3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-next

▼ syntax tree


Example 3:

The Soranthi boy next to the only Shikathi girl speaks Shikathi well only in the mornings.
vlash sorānthī shlodruk shykāðī īkrī shykāðī azhā lator grōshaemthī īkrī gorzhinkythīne.
boy Soranthi girl-next Shikathi only Shikathi word TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
good-ADVAdverbial
e.g. English '-ly'
only morning-PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
-ADVAdverbial
e.g. English '-ly'
-whole

▼ syntax tree



[top]Gerunds


There are two sets of gerunds:

Set A: -ām, -āl, -āk
Set B: -m, -am, -ym, -l, -yl, -ak, -yk

For this article I’m only going to talk about gerunds within the context of sentence structure. For a more detailed description of gerunds, and how they are formed / used go here.

Gerunds are nominalized verbs. They create a verbal phrase and that phrase in turn becomes nominal or adjectival. As nouns, they can be subjects or objects, direct or indirect. They follow the same placement rules as mentioned above. In Shikathi, however, gerunds are used where English would use an infinitive.



Gerunds as Objects

Example 1:

The boy wants to speak.
vlash azhām thōn lator.
boy word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
want TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



Example 2:

The boy wants to speak to the girl.
vlash shlog azhām thon lator.
boy girl word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
want TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



Example 3: Notice that in this case, it is a transitive gerund, not intransitive.

The boy wants to speak Shikathi to the girl.
vlash shlog shykāðī azhāl thōn lator.
boy girl Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
want TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



Gerunds as Subjects

Example 4

Speaking is fun.
āzhm shofynthī akām.
word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
fun-ADJAdjectival
syntactic
INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



Example 5 :

Speaking to the girl is fun.
shlog āzhm shofynthī akām.
girl word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
fun-ADJAdjectival
syntactic
INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree


For this example, I should probably clarify the difference between to two groups of gerunds.
Both āzhm and azhām are gerunds of the verb azhā akām. The former is only used as subjects of the sentence. When gerunds are used as the subject of the sentence, they may not necessarily be the first word in the sentence as with the cases above and below.



Example 6:

Speaking Shikathi to the girl is fun.
shlog shykāðī āzhl shofynthī akām.
girl Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
fun-ADJAdjectival
syntactic
INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



Gerunds as Modifiers

Gerunds can also function as modifiers. In example #5 we saw the sentence:

Speaking to the girl is fun.
shlog āzhm shofynthī akām.

We established that āzhm belonged to a group of gerunds that are only used as subjects of the sentence. If we were to change āzhm back to azhām, we would be changing its function from subject to modifier; and the subject goes back to being the first word in the sentence.


Example 7:

The girl, who is speaking, is fun. / The speaking girl is fun.
shlog azhām shofynthī akām.
girl word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
fun-ADJAdjectival
syntactic
INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree


Example 8:

The girl speaking to the boy is fun.
shlog vlash azhām shofynthī akām.
girl boy word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
fun-ADJAdjectival
syntactic
INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



Example 9:

The girl speaking Shikathi to the boy is fun.
shlog vlash shykāðī azhāl shofynthī akām.
girl boy Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
fun-ADJAdjectival
syntactic
INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument


▼ syntax tree



[top]Participles


Shikathi participles can be formed by adding the modifier suffix (-thī) onto the gerund: -āmthī, -ālthī, or -ākthī. Shikathi participles are similar to English participles. However unlike English participles, they can either serve as adjectives or adverbs and must follow the elements they modify. Participles will create a verbal phrase with the resulting phrase being adjectival or adverbial.


Participles Modifying Nouns in a Sentence

Participles are used as adjectives when a gerund in the same clause is already in use. Usually this happens when the gerund in a clause is serving as an infinitive.

Example 1:

The boy who is speaking wants to talk to the girl.
vlash azhāmthī shlog azhām thōn lator.
boy word-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
girl word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
want TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



Example 2:

The boy who is speaking to the man wants to talk to the girl.
vlash drāgarō azhāmthī shlog azhām thōn lator.
boy man word-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
girl word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
want TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



Example 3:

The boy speaking Shikathi to the man wants to talk to the girl.
vlash drāgrarō shykāðī azhālthī shlog azhām thōn lator.
boy man Shikathi word-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
girl word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
want TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


▼ syntax tree



Above, I mentioned that gerunds could function as modifiers. One also has the option to use the participle instead of a gerund even when there is no gerund in use elsewhere in the clause. This may be done for clarification and precision of meaning especially when the middle voice is in play.

Consider the following, gramatically correct, sentence with the standard gerund in use:

The boy learns to speak Shikathi.
vlash shykāðī azhāl sydām akām.
boy Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


▼ syntax tree


But, based on syntax rules, one might understand the sentence as:

The boy, who speaks Shikathi, learns.
vlash shykāðī azhāl sydām akām.
boy Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


▼ syntax tree


To avoid any possible confusion, when communicating, the participle is often used instead of the gerund:

The boy, who speaks Shikathi, learns.
vlash shykāðī azhālthī sydām akām.
boy Shikathi word-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


▼ syntax tree



Participles Modifying Verbs in a Sentence

Participles can also serve as adverbs. In English, we would probably need the preposition “by”, “through” or “with”. Just like with other adverbs, participles as adverbs are placed after the verb.

Example 1:

The boy learns by listening.
vlash sydām akām inzāmthī.
boy school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
ear-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb


▼ syntax tree


Example 2:

The boy learns by listening to the girl.
vlash sydām akām shlog inzālthī.
boy school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
girl ear-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb


▼ syntax tree


Example 3:

The boy learns by speaking Shikathi to the girl.
vlash sydām akām shlog shykāðī azhālthī.
boy school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
girl Shikathi word-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb


▼ syntax tree


Note: participles are true modifiers and so, with regards to place - manner - time, they also trump prepositional phrases embedded within the same adverbial phrase.


Example 4:

The boy learns at home by listening to the girl.
vlash sydām akām shlog inzālthī fānydrae. (lit: the boy learns by listening to the girl at home)
boy school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
girl ear-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
house-in

▼ syntax tree


This Shikathi sentence implies that both the girl and the boy are at home. If we wanted to specify that the boy is at home and the girl is somewhere else, “fānydrae” would be moved directly after “vlash”.

[top]Passive and Middle Voice



The Passive Voice


Unlike English where the participle is used to create the passive voice, Shikathi uses the passive verbalizer ekrō. Other than this, the passive voice sentence structure is basically the same as English (subject is verb-ed by agent).

The boy is heard.
vlash inza ekrō.

When specifying the agent, where English uses the preposition “by”, Shikathi uses the postposition “rum” (remember that Shikathi adpositions are attached to the nouns).

The boy is heard by the girl.
vlash inza ekrō shlogrum.

In more complex sentences, it’s important to remember place - manner - time; and since “-rum” creates an adpositional phrase, the phrase could be displaced by other modifiers according to the syntactic rules outlined above.

The boy is heard by the girl every morning.
vlash inza ekrō gorzhinkythīne shlogrum.
boy ear PASSPassive voice (valency)
be verb-ed
morning-PLPlural (number)
more than one/few
-ADVAdverbial
e.g. English '-ly'
-whole girl-by

▼ syntax tree


One last note about the passive voice in a sentence. If there is an indirect object with the passive voice. It follows the same SOV rules mentioned above.

Example:

Shikathi is taught to the boy by the girl.
shykaði vlash sidam ekrō shlogrum.
Shikathi boy school PASSPassive voice (valency)
be verb-ed
girl-by

▼ syntax tree



The Middle Voice


Towards the beginning of the article, I mentioned that Shikathi has no way to differentiate between direct and indirect objects other than to identify the transitivity of a verb: lator being transitive and akām being intransitive.

One exception is that akām could also indicate the middle voice which could possibly require a direct object. While Old Shikathi had a dedicated verbalizer to indicate the middle voice, over time it disappeared and it’s function was split between the passive voice (ekrō) and the intransitive (akām).

In one of the examples above we saw the sentence:

The boy learns by listening.
vlash sydām akām inzāmthī.

While the English translation is correct, it’s not literal. Literally it’s “The boy teaches himself by listening” or "The boy is taught with (him) listening" The Shykathi approximation to the English verb “to learn” is sydām akām “to teach oneself” or “to be taught (something)”. Because of this, a direct object is possible here. Especially when one wants to specify what that "something" is. sydām akām, in the middle voice, is not to be confused with it's passive counterpart sidam ekrō “to be taught” (i.e. math is taught to everyone).


The boy learns to speak Shikathi / The boy teaches himself to speak Shikathi / The boy is taught to speak Shikathi.
vlash shykāðī azhāl sydām akām.
boy Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


▼ syntax tree



To put the middle voice in perspective against the other verb forms, here are examples of the various ways the sentences can be put together.

The book is a gift for the girl.
tōgna onō akām shlodryk.
book gift INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
girl-for

The boy gives the girl a book.
vlash shlog tōgna onō lator.
boy girl book gift TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments


The book is given to the girl by the boy.
tōgna shlog onō ekrō vlāshrum.
book girl gift PASSPassive voice (valency)
be verb-ed
boy-by

The girl is given a book by the boy.
shlog togna onō akām vlāshrum.
girl book gift MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
boy-by


The purpose of this section is not really to explain how and when Shikathi uses the middle voice, rather to serve as a reminder that, based on syntactic rules, there is the potential for miscommunication if extra care is not taken to clarify what one really means.

Consider the following sentence with two different, but correct translations:

The Shikathi boy learns. / The boy learns Shikathi.
vlash shykāðī sydām akām.

How do you know if a verb using the akām verbalizer is indicating an active voice or middle voice? You mostly have to rely on context and vocabulary. When speaking, the Shikathi people will try to clarify themselves adding appropriate modifiers in strategic places. Here are some examples:

vlash shykāðī azhāl sydām akām. The boy learns to speak Shikathi.
boy Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


vlash shykāðī azhām sydām akām. The Shikathi boy learns to speak.
boy Shikathi word-GERGerund
verbal noun
-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


vlash shykāðī sydām akām azhāmthī. The Shikathi boy learns by speaking.
boy Shikathi school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
word-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb


vlash shykāðī sydām akām azhālthī. The boy learns Shikathi by speaking it.
boy Shikathi school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient
word-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb


vlash shykāðī azhālthī sydām akām. The boy speaking Shikathi is learning.
boy Shikathi word-TRTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient


vlash shykāðī azhāmthī sydām akām. The Shikathi boy, who is speaking, is learning.
boy Shikathi word-INTRIntransitive (valency)
has one argument
-PTCPParticiple
adjectival form of a verb
school MIDMiddle voice (valency)
subject is both agent and patient



[top]Coordination and Subordination














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