Innocence Seekers: The Black Rose – Nouns in Namari

This post will be dedicated to the nominals of Namari. Largely, I’ve kept the original system you can find on the wiki; however, I’ve made a number of changes to the nominal system.

Unlike in real-life Japonic languages, whose nominal systems are largely considered to be non-inflecting and the case markers clitics or invariant suffixes, Namari is considered by most linguists to have declension, due to the existence of agreement morphology (a prominent feature of the Likkran sprachbund, but unusual within the Japonic language family). In Namari, this declension system has evolved enough that one can speak of three declensional classes.

(And if you’re wondering what I think of the case markers in Japanese, I believe that they are invariant suffixes rather than clitics, due to their behaviour with regards to numerals. If a numeral-classifier compound is placed after the noun it modifies, the case marker actually occurs between the noun and the numeral. If the case marker were a clitic, it would have been placed after the numeral-classifier compound rather than after the noun. In contrast, mo occurs after the compound, hence it is a clitic. And before anyone brings up things like dake, which occur before the case markers, I consider those to be nominalising suffixes rather than separate words.)

The first declension is the simplest declension. Using pito (“person”) and kumo (“cloud”) as examples, here are the case forms:

  • Nominative: pito, kumo
  • Accusative: pitoo, kumoo
  • Vocative: pitoyo, kumoyo
  • Genitive: pitoga, kumono
  • Dative: piton, kumon
  • Instrumental: pitoji, kumoji
  • Comitative: pitoto, kumoto
  • Ablative: pitokaya, kumokaya
  • Allative: pitompe, kumompe
  • Comparative: pitoyoi, kumoyoi
  • Terminative: pitomade, kumomade
  • Locative: pitonde, kumonde
  • Abessive: pitonku, kumonku

I’ll explain in detail the roles of each of the thirteen cases in a later post (note that some dialects have fewer cases; Chiyohara dialect lacks the abessive, for example). However, I will mention the short vocative here. The short vocative is a form that is typically used where the normal vocative would be used. However, since the normal vocative is in limited use in the modern language, the short vocative has largely replaced it. In the first declension, the short vocative is identical to the nominative, except if the noun ends in -ni, in which case the -i is removed (loanwords may not remove the -i).

The second declension resembles the first declension, except in the nominative. In general, there are five sub-declensions within this declensional class:

  • a-stem (nominative -e, stem -a-), derived from nouns ending in *-ay
  • u-stem (nominative -i, stem -u-), derived from nouns ending in *-uy
  • e-stem (nominative -i, stem -e-), derived from nouns ending in *-ey
  • o-stem upper (nominative -i, stem -o-), derived from nouns ending in *-oy
  • o-stem lower (nominative -e, stem -o-), derived from nouns ending in *-əy

In the second declension, the vocative and short vocative are derived from the nominative form, while the other cases use the stem form. Note, however, that like in the first declension, second declension u-stems ending in -ni/-nu- have their short vocatives in -n.

Examples of each subclass are kane (“metal”, a-stem), paji (“embarrassment”, u-stem), toshi (“year”, e-stem), tuki (“moon, month”, o-stem upper) and ueke (“planted tree”, o-stem lower). Note that some second declension nouns, such as (“yellow”, o-stem upper, accusative ), (“tree”, o-stem lower, accusative ) and (“hand”, a-stem, accusative tao), have monomoraic roots.

The third declension is different from the other two declensions. Unlike the other two, the third declension is a consonant-stem declension, and since Namari phonotactics restricts which consonants can occur word-finally, its declension is adjusted to match. The following is the declension of (pachi)michi (“honey”):

  • Nominative: michi
  • Accusative: mito
  • Vocative: micho
  • Short vocative: mitu
  • Genitive: minno
  • Dative: minni
  • Instrumental: minji
  • Comitative: mitto
  • Ablative: mikkaya
  • Allative: mimpe
  • Comparative: michoi
  • Terminative: mimmade
  • Locative: minde
  • Abessive: minku

Note that due to sandhi, there are multiple forms for the stem. The nominative, vocative and comparative induce palatalisation, the genitive, dative, instrumental, allative, terminative, locative and abessive induce assimilation into a nasal, and the comitative and ablative induce assimilation into a geminate. The following list shows the outcomes of each stem-final consonant (given as root: patalised, geminate, nasal):

  • (none): -y-, (none), (none)/-n-
  • -k-: -ky-, (geminate), -n-
  • -g-: -gy-, -n-, -n-
  • -h-: -hy-, (aspirate geminate), -n-
  • -s-: -sh-, -i-, -i-
  • -z-: -j- (-zh-), -i- (voiced), -i-
  • -t-: -ch-, (geminate), -n-
  • -d-: -j-, -n-, -n-
  • -th-: -sh- (-hy-), (aspirate geminate), -n-
  • -n-: -ny-, -n-, -n-
  • -p-: -py-, (geminate), -n-
  • -b-: -by-, -n-, -n-
  • -f-: -hy- (-fy-), (aspirate geminate), -n-
  • -m-: -my-, -n-, -n-
  • -y-: -y-, -i-, -i-
  • -r-: -ry-, -r-, -r-
  • -w-: -uy-, -u-, -u-

Note that if the stem-final and the ending-initial consonant are identical, with the exception of /r/, /j/ and /w/, a geminate or nasal geminate (if the consonant is a voiced obstruent) is formed regardless. The above list is simplified; refer to the wiki for the comprehensive sandhi rules (note, however, that it is out of date with regards to aspirated consonants). Syllable-final /r/ before a consonant has no accepted orthographic notation, but does exist (marginally) in Namari. Specific consonant outcomes in parentheses indicate dialectal forms (-zh- is only found in dialects distinguishing all four of the yotsugana, -thy- may be identical with -hy- instead of -sh- in some dialects, and -fy- may or may not merge with -hy-).

The form of the short vocative of third declension nouns varies, largely depending on the stem-final consonant. The following list shows the possible forms of the nominative, accusative and short vocative for each stem-final consonant:

  • (none): -i, -o, (none)/-u
  • -k-: -ki, -po/-ko, -ku
  • -g-: -gi, -bo/-go, -gu
  • -h-: -hi, -o/-ho, -hu
  • -s-: -shi, -so, -su
  • -z-: -ji (-zhi), -zo, -zu
  • -t-: -chi, -to, -tu
  • -d-: -ji, -do, -zu (-du)
  • -th-: -shi (-hi), -tho, -thu (-tu, -su)
  • -n-: -ni, -no, -n
  • -p-: -pi, -po, -pu
  • -b-: -bi, -bo, -bu
  • -f-: -hi (-fi), -fo, -fu
  • -m-: -mi, -mo, -n
  • -y-: -i, -yo, -i/-yu
  • -r-: -ri, -ro, -ru
  • -w-: -wi, -o, -u

It should be noted that a number of nouns and nominal forms are irregular. An important irregularity is the “pronominal” declension, which is an offshoot of the second declension where the nominative is marked with -e instead of with a vowel change. As implied, pronouns are a part of this category. The nouns kami (“god, spirit”, second declension u-stem) and mezu (“water”, first declension) have irregular genitive forms kanna and mena respectively, and the former also has an irregular short vocative kan. The -na form of the genitive is a form typically only found in nominal adjectives.

Apart from case, nouns also decline for number. In Namari, there are singular, dual and plural forms, of which the singular is the default. The dual is marked by -na (inducing nasalisation in third declension nouns), while the plural is marked by -ya (inducing palatalisation in third declension nouns). There is also a collective suffix -tachi (which induces gemination in third declension nouns). All three suffixes occur before the case marker, thus turning the noun into a first declension noun. Note that the number suffixes (but not the collective, or the dual if used as a collective) are forbidden if the noun is explicitly quantified by a numeral.

In general, the topic marker is -ha (written in the orthography as if it were -fa, which was its original form), and it occurs after the case marker. However, it takes special forms in certain cases. In the third declension nominative, it replaces the nominative ending -i with -a (thus undoing palatalisation). The topic marker, when used with the accusative, replaces the accusative ending -o with -ba (inducing nasalisation in third declension nouns). Finally, the form of the combined dative-topic marker depends on the declension. In the first and second declensions, the combined dative-topic marker is -mpa; however, for third declension nouns, it is -nya, behaving exactly like the non-topic counterpart -ni.

The focus marker is -zu (inducing nasalisation in third declension nouns), and occurs after the case marker. It is mutually exclusive with the topic marker, and the existence of any noun with a focus marker within a finite clause forces the verb to be in the attributive form (a phenomenon known as kakari-musubi). It is invariant; however, in the third declension nominative, it replaces the nominative marker and induces nasalisation.

The emphatic marker is -koso (inducing gemination in third declension nouns), and occurs after the case marker. It is mutually exclusive with the topic and focus markers, and has its own form of kakari-musubi, where the verb is placed into its emphatic form.

While I have mentioned verbal adjectives in my post on Namari verbs, here I will mention nominal adjectives. Unlike verbal adjectives, they behave like nouns, thus they must be declined in the genitive in order to act adnominally. Their dative forms also double as their adverbial forms. However, what sets nominal adjectives apart from nouns is the fact that in their genitive forms they agree with their head noun in case.

The genitive of a nominal adjective is marked either with -no or -na, its form dictated by a limited vowel harmony rule applying only to nominal adjectives. The existence of /a/ or /u/ (or their derivatives, namely /ɛ/, /ɔ/, /ɯ/, /y/ and /ɤ/) forces the nominal adjective to use -na (historically, some adjectives with /o/ also forced the -na allomorph; however, in the modern language, this no longer applies). Regardless of the form, the genitive takes another case marker, declining as a first declension noun. This additional case marker agrees with the head noun in case (and in the genitive case, animacy).

Nominal adjectives also take the same adjective-specific markers as their verbal counterparts. These include the degree forms -sa and -mi (the former induces gemination, the latter nasalisation), and the comparative -moi and superlative -motakakai (both inducing nasalisation).

As a predicate, nominal adjectives must be paired with a form of the copula as if it were any other noun. While I didn’t mention this in my post on verbs, the copula cannot actually conjugate for voice. Similar analytical constructions as with verbal adjectives are used for nominal adjectives, with sasu paired with the accusative of the nominal adjective and the dative of the object described for the causative, and nayōu paired with the dative of the nominal adjective and the nominative of the object described for the potential.

That will be it for adjectives. There is a third class of adjectives, the attributives or true adjectives, but they are generally invariant determiners and will be mentioned in another post.

A number of cases can have either adnominal or adverbial roles. These cases are the comitative, ablative, allative, comparative, terminative and abessive. The genitive case does not occur adverbially; primarily it is either an adnominal argument, postpositional argument or a complement to the copula. The following lists the roles of the adnominal cases:

  • Genitive: marks possession or relation, (nominal adjectives) shows agreement, (nouns) does not show agreement
  • Comitative: marks accompaniment, same meaning as “and”, shows agreeement
  • Ablative: marks origin, shows agreement
  • Allative: marks direction, does not show agreement
  • Comparative: marks origin or starting point, shows agreement
  • Terminative: marks ending point, shows agreement
  • Abessive: marks absence, shows agreement

I should mention the “and” meaning of the comitative. Namari conflates “and” and “with”, using the same marker to list nouns and to show accompaniment. However, the “and” meaning has a special form in the nominative (-te instead of the expected -to, forming a second declension o-stem lower noun). The comitative is used in some form for all four possible types of lists:

  • And: panate pachite (“flowers and bees”)
  • Inclusive or: panatemo pachitemo (“flowers or bees”)
  • Exclusive or: panatoka pachitoka (“either flowers or bees”)
  • Nor: panatemo pachitemo nānuji (“there are neither flowers nor bees”)

Note that the comitative marker is found on all nouns listed. The -mo marker (when used alone meaning “as well (as)”) is a clitic, and may even occur after a postposition (e.g. ieno wemmo “over the house as well”). The -ka marker, on the other hand, occurs after the initial comitative marker, thus forming a first declension noun.

The other cases are typically used adverbially:

  • Dative: marks an indirect or oblique object
  • Instrumental: indicates the means by which an action occurred
  • Comitative: indicates any accompanying actors to the subject
  • Ablative: marks origin
  • Allative: marks direction
  • Comparative: provides a point of comparison for comparative clauses
  • Terminative: marks the limit or end point of an action
  • Locative: marks the location of an action
  • Abessive: marks the absence of an object in performing the action

The core cases are the nominative, accusative and genitive (the dative is considered an extended core case). Being a largely nominative-accusative language, Namari marks the sole argument of an intransitive verb and the agent of a transitive verb identically, in the nominative case, while the patient of a transitive verb is in the accusative case. However, the potential voice actually makes the sole argument of an intransitive verb marked identically to the patient of a transitive verb (the nominative is still used, however), while the agent of a transitive verb is put into the genitive.
In the case of verbal adjectives, formally the object described must be in the accusative case; however, main clauses headed by verbal adjectives are by far the most common clauses where the accusative marker is omitted in colloquial language. This phenomenon has confused many foreign linguists, who are often unused to seeing the object described by an adjective being in the accusative rather than in the nominative (instead, the experiencer is the nominative argument).

It is for these reasons that some linguists refer to the Namari core cases as the “nominative-absolutive”, “accusative-absolutive” and “genitive-ergative”.

The copula usually takes the nominative case. However, for first and second declension u-stem nouns ending in -ni, the short vocative -n is used instead (note that the copula does not combine with the -n in this case), while third declension nouns combine the copula directly with the stem, inducing palatalisation (e.g. pachimicha “it is honey”, pachimichatta “it was honey”).

The final case to mention is the vocative. It typically indicates that the noun in question is addressed by the speaker, and is often used in imperative sentences for disambiguation. While the full vocative is limited to formal language and poetry, the short vocative remains in use.

To close off this post, I’ll mention some of the pronouns.

The personal pronouns are as follows:

  • First person exclusive: wae
  • First person inclusive: mī-
  • Second person: nae
  • Third person: shie

The inclusive pronoun cannot occur in the singular, for semantic reasons. The personal pronouns are also the only nominals where number marking is required, and in fact one cannot quantify them the normal way. To quantify the pronouns, the pronoun must be in the genitive, and followed by a numeral (e.g. waeyaga mittai “three of us”). The pronominal declension is also unusual, in that the nominative -e, even though it is not otherwise part of the singular, is found in all dual and plural forms before the number marker.

The correlative pronouns are as follows:

  • Proximal demonstrative: ie/koe
  • Medial demonstrative: koe/soe
  • Distal demonstrative: soe/(k)ae
  • Non-human interrogative (specific): ezue (edue)
  • Non-human interrogative: nani (short vocative: nan)
  • Human interrogative: tae
  • Specific non-human indefinite: nanika
  • Non-specific non-human indefinite: nanimo

As mentioned above, -mo is a clitic, meaning it occurs after any case markers.

The demonstratives show considerable dialectal variation. The first variants given are the Yaezora dialect variants, while the second variants are the Chiyohara dialect variants. The Haguya dialect only has two levels of demonstratives (proximal ko-, non-proximal so-, although in the Haguya dialect they are actually pronounced kö- and sö- respectively).

That will be it for now.