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ʘotu (Language and Grammar)

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ʘotu is a constructed language with some very interesting features. It was created by Noah Elkins in May of 2013 and combines the phonology of an African clicking language with certain agglutinative and fusional aspects.

PhonologyEdit

Consonants Labial Dental Alveolar Velar Glottal Lateral
Stop m  p  b d     t n g     k
Ejective ʘ
Click ǀ ! ǁ
Fricative s h
Vowels High Central Low
Closed i    y u
Mid e o
Open a

Phonology in ʘotu is a little bit complicated. The dental click (ǀ) is created with the sudden release of the tongue from the back of the top row of teeth. The alveolar click (!) is created like a normal click sound, like the popping of a cork, by snapping the tongue down from the top of the palate. The lateral click (ǁ) is made with the side of the mouth, in the manner in which one would tsk-tsk. The bilabial ejective (ʘ) consonant is made by popping the lips forcefully, without letting the vocal chords vibrate.

Vowels are very regular. Two of the same vowels may occur next to each other. In that case, they are both pronounced in the same sound by drawing out the vowel sound.

VerbsEdit

Instrumental PrefixesEdit

Each and every verb in ʘotu must take on an instrumental prefix:

Prefix Meaning
ʘa- with the lips, snout, beak, mouth, etc.; by speech, speaking
ʘee- with the ears; by hearing
ǀa- by encircling, e.g. with the arms; by sewing, eating, etc.
ǀo- with the rear end, a massive or bulky object, a knife, etc.
ǀue- with a round object, flowing water, front end; by shooting, rolling, etc.
!a- by holding a small part of a larger object, e.g. a handle
!ao- with the hand, palm, paw, claw, etc.; by waves
ǁee- with the finger, extension, etc.; by grasping, holding (hands, etc.)
ǁo- with a swinging motion, dancing, jumping, etc.
ǁu- with the body, with the whole
maa- with the sole of the foot, claws, the butt of the hand
pao- with the small end of a long object; toes, nose; by kicking
poo- by smelling, by tasting; by the tongue or nose
bu- by counting, seeing, watching, or reading; by sight, eyes, etc.
de- with a quick movement, heat, light, mind, or emotions
toǁe- with the end of a long object, the fist; by wrapping, grabbing, walking
tuu- with the side of along object, an axe, a hammer
hoo- by blowing, breathing, experiencing
nao- with water: by wetting, dissolving, slipping, floating, raining, washing
go!a- by a long object moving lengthwise
kaʘa- by pulling, pushing and pulling; with a long flexible object
see- by consuming, surrounding; by eating, drinking
so- by being near or close to something; witnessing, thinking

Personal SuffixesEdit

ʘotu personal suffixes are endings to ʘotu words that determine the speaker. Suffixes change depending on the tense of the verb. After a vowel ending for the verb root, the ending is simply applied to the end. On a consonant ending, an e is added first.

The basic personal endings for the present tense are:

Pronoun Basic Ending -ǀais- (laugh) -koto- (speak)
I -n -laisen -koton
You (familiar) -b -laiseb -kotob
You (formal, respectful) -m -laisem -kotom
He -t -laiset -kotot
She -d -laised -kotod
It -s -laises -kotos
We (inclusive) -g -laiseg -kotog
We (exclusive) -k -laisek -kotok
You (plural) -! -laise! -koto!
They -y -laisey -kotoy

These endings can be tied in to the instrumental prefixes above to create the following words, and many more:

EXAMPLES: He laughs (with his mouth): ʘaǀaisem

                    They speak (while making hand gestures): !aokotoy

                    We (but not you) laugh (and the whole body was shaking): ǁuǀaisek

Tense MarkersEdit

Tense in ʘotu is has very wide capabilities. Different amounts or spans of time, from large to small, are all represented.

The following are all markers, or particle words. They do not get added to words, but rather are put before them if the time period is in the past, and in front of them if the time period is in the future. If present, the verb is left alone.


Tense Period Particle
Present -
Simple Past (-ed) a
Simple Future (will) ee
Obligatory Future (must, shall)
Imperfect (was, were -ing) aaǀ
Perfect (has, have -ed) o
Future Perfect (will have) ke!a
Immediate Future ʘo
Immediate Past ye
Near Future go
Near Past hoy
Conditional (would) !a!a
Hodiernal (later today, tomorrow) tu
Hesternal (yesterday, earlier today) so

EXAMPLES: Yesterday, they went (walking, by foot): so 'to'ǁepotay [with the verb pota "to walk"]

         She must dance (with her whole body): eǀ baybod [with the verb baybo "to dance"]

         We (and you, too) will have talked (and listened to each other): ke!a ʘeekotog

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