Chunotl - a conlang


Chunotl is a conlang (constructed language) I sketched during the year 2004.

There's a brief lexicon available.

Phonetics / phonology

The following graphs uniformly denote the corresponding phonemes. The notation for the phonemes is supplied in X-SAMPA.

Unvoiced stops
p : /p/
t : /t/
c : /k/

Voiced stops
b : /b/
d : /d/
g : /g/

Unvoiced fricatives
ph : /P/
f : /f/
th : /T/
s : /s/
sh : /S/
ch : /x/
h : /h/

Voiced fricatives
v : /v/

m : /m/
n : /n/

r : /4/
l : /l/

x : /ks/

a : /a/
e : /e/
i : /i/
o : /o/
u : /u/


Chunotl is pretty isolating. However it uses a few suffixes to mark "semantic cases": agent, patient, topic and oblique.

Syntax is almost strictly head first (right branching). I might say "VSO", but really there are no subjects or objects in the classic sense.


Root examples:

eden: "star" (nominal root)

endu: "I" (root for the first person pronoun, which behaves as a common noun)
  1. In agent case, the root doesn't change. Gender and number are not grammatically distiguished.

    For some particles, which I will introduce later, the agent case is marked with -ea.

  2. In patient case, -oa is appended to the root (if it ends in a consonant) or -soa (if it ends in a vowel).

  3. In topic case, -acl is appended for consonants and -cl for vowels.

  4. In oblique case, -eve is appended for consonants and -meve for vowels.


    Nouns whose function is ruled by prepositions are declined in oblique case.


Verbs are invariable.

In general, a verb is described as the relationship between from one to three basic parts: the agent, the patient and the topic, which will be noted as A, P and T.

The nature of that relationship could, of course, be arbitrary. However, in practice, A, P and T play their intuitively "natural" role. (I.e., the agent plays an agent role, etc.)

For instance:

ucash: "A teaches T to P"
adamp: "A says T to P"
sem: "A frightens P with T"

It's not necessary the three parts to take part in the meaning of a verb:

nedr: "A loves P"
ar: "P is T" ("to be", used to speak about a static quality
of the patient)
bain: "P is in T"

It's also not necessary for all the parts to appear in a sentence, so that a verb might be translated with many other verbs, depending on the emphasized part.

(For example, if the patient is the focus, "to teach" might be "to learn", etc.)

Basic syntax

nedr endu eden.oa
love I.AGT star.PAT
"I love the stars"

The order of agent, patient and topic doesn't change the meaning, but the focus:

nedr eden.oa endu
love star.PAT I.AGT
"the stars are loved by me"

nedr endu.soa
love I.PAT
"they love me" / "I'm loved"

ucash endu vo.soa eden.acl
teach I.AGT you.PAT star.TOP
"I teach you about the stars"

ucash eden.acl
"It's taught about the stars"

ucash vo.soa
"you learn"

ucash endu
"I teach"

bain endu.soa lard.acl
be-in I.PAT park.TOP
"I am in the park"

Constructions with prepositions

eden u endu.meve
star of I.OBL
"my star"

ar vo.soa eden.acl u endu.meve
be you.PAT star.TOP of I.OBL
"you are my star"

(Notice the topic suffix is put over the nucle of the construction: "star")

adamp xol vidl.eve endu
speak with word.OBL I.AGT
"I speak with words"

Interesting particles

There are declinable particles (which I don't know how to call -maybe "relative pronouns") which create interesting constructions.

Imagine this particle somehow builds a nominal construction, it "opens a construction". In the middle, if accurate, the arguments are located. And finally, it's completed with a verb.

The first of them is:

c-: "what <verb>s", "the one that <verb>s"

For example:

c.ea nedr
*.AGT love
"the one who loves"

c.oa nedr
*.PAT love
"the one who is loved"

c.ea ucash
*.AGT teach
"the one who teaches"
or maybe "the teacher"

c.oa ucash
*.PAT teach
"the one who learns"
or maybe "the pupil"

c.oa endu ucash
*.PAT I.AGT teach
"the person whom I teach"
or maybe "my pupil"

c.ea endu.soa ucash
*.AGT I.PAC teach
"the person who teaches me"

c.acl ucash
*.TOP teach
"that what is taught"

c.acl endu.soa vo ucash
*.TOP I.PAT you.AGT teach
"what you teach me"

c.ea xol vidl.eve adamp
*.AGT with word.OBL speak
"the one who speaks with words"

If one would need to put c- in oblique case, the preposition which governs it is put after, as if it were a postposition:

c.eve xol adamp
*.OBL with speak
"that what things are spoken with"

c.eve xol vo.soa endu adamp
*.OBL with you.PAT I.AGT speak
"that what I speak you with"

Thus, c- builds nominal constructions. If they need to be used, to decline them the corresponding suffix is added to the verb.

(The case of the particle (which gives meaning to the construction) should not be confused with the case of the construction (which signals its real function)).

nedr endu c.ea eden.oa orodr.oa
love I.AGT {*.AGT star.PAT look}.PAC
"I love the one who looks at the stars"

nedr endu c.oa eden orodr.oa
love I.AGT {*.PAT star.AGT look}.PAT
"I love the one who the stars look at"

nedr c.oa eden orodr.ea endu.soa
love {*.PAT star.AGT look}.AGT I.PAT
"the person whom the stars look at, loves me"

The rest of the "interesting particles" behave in a quite similar way:

l-: "<verbing>", builds circumstancial clauses.

l.ea nedr
*.AGT love

l.ea vo.soa nedr
*.AGT you.PAT love
"loving you"

l.oa nedr
*.PAT love
"being loved"

l.oa vo nedr
*.PAT you.AGT love
"being loved by you"

l.ea ucash
*.AGT teach

l.oa vidl.acl ucash
*.PAT word.TOP teach
"being taught about words" / "learning words"

l.oa lard.acl bain
*.PAT park.TOP be-in
"being in the park"
(it is the most common way of saying "in the park")

ax-: "X that <verbs>"

Builds modifiers. Since the language is 'head first', the modifier construction is put after the modified construction.

(Note: "psatl" refers to eye pupils).

psatl ax.ea ardash
pupil *.AGT shine
"pupil that shines"

psatl ax.oa nedr
pupil *.PAT love
"pupils that are loved"

psatl ax.oa endu nedr
pupil *.PAT I.AGT love
"pupils I love"

vidl ax.eve xol endu vo.soa adamp
word *.OBL with I.AGT you.PAT speak
"words I speak to you with"

oct-: "<to verb>", also builds nominal constructions, nominalizing verbs:

(Semantic note: "nedr" is "to love, but also "to like, to enjoy")

nedr endu oct.ea ucash.oa
love I.AGT {*.AGT teach}.PAT
"I like teaching"

nedr endu oct.oa ucash.oa
love I.AGT {*.PAT teach}.PAT
"I like learning"

nedr endu oct.acl adamp.oa
love I.AGT {*.TOP speak}.PAT
"I like [people, them] to speak about me"

(Another note: the preposition "xol" is a mean/instrument "with", while "shedr" is non-agent company "with")

nedr endu oct.eve shedr vo ucash.oa
love I.AGT {*.OBL with you.AGT teach}.PAT
"I like you teaching with me"

ts-: "that X <verbs>"

nedr endu ts.ea ucash
love I.AGT *.AGT teach
"I like [the fact] that I teach"

nedr endu ts.oa vo ucash
love I.AGT *.PAT you.AGT teach
"I like [the fact] that you teach me"

To avoid the X about it's spoken being always the same as the modified construction of the relative clause, "ts-" can be declined in oblique case with a dummy preposition: "xa", which means nothing at all:

nedr endu ts.eve xa vo ucash
love I.AGT *.OBL ? you.AGT teach
"I like [the fact] that you teach"

nedr endu ts.eve xa vo niuic.oa eden.acl xol vidl.eve adamp
love I.AGT *.OBL ? you.AGT dog.PAT star.TOP with word.OBL speak
"I like [the fact] that you speak to the dog about the stars with words"

Adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs are invariable. Actually, they aren't two word classes, as there is nothing distinguishing them intrinsically. They are preceded by the "vao" particle:

niuic vao chish
dog * blue
"blue dog"

adamp vao chish endu
speak * blue I.AGT
"I speak 'bluely'"

niuic vao chish vao civa
dog * blue * <superlative>
"the 'bluest' dog"

Does this make you think/feel anything? Tell me.

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