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Norpalic is an a-priori language created by Michael Stevens. Norpalic is inspired by the conlang Toki Pona created by Sonja Elen Kisa. Norpalic has a fairly simple phonology and a small root vocabulary, and is designed to express the most using the least. Norpalic has a simple and extremely regular grammar that is easy to learn. The grammar of Norpalic is influenced slightly by Welsh, which the author can speak fairly well. Norpalic has about the same level of agglutinativity as English. The basic word order of Norpalic is Subject-Verb-Object. Norpalic is strongly right-branching.
Norpalic has seven vowels, /i e ɨ ə a u o/, and fifteen consonants. Vowel length, stress and tone are not contrastive, and there are no diphthongs. The consonant inventory includes four plosives (/p/, /t/, /k/ and /ʔ/), four fricatives (/f/, /s/, /ɬ/ and /h/), three nasals (/m/, /n/ and /ŋ/), three approximants (/l/, /j/ and /w/) and one flap (/ɾ/). The plosive consonants are unaspirated.
Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-
Glottal central lateral Plosive p t k ʔ Fricative f s ɬ h Nasal m n ŋ Approximant l j w Flap ɾ
Front Central Back High i ɨ u Mid e ə o Low a
The syllable structure of Norpalic words is CV(C). Only the consonants /m/, /n/, /ŋ/ and /l/ can occur in the syllable coda. About 13% of syllables contain a coda. Due to the CV(C) syllable structure, consonant clusters can only occur across syllable boundaries and can only consist of two segments. The following consonant clusters can occur in root words: mp, mʔ, ms, mh, ml, mj, nt, nʔ, ns, nɬ, nh, nl, nw, ŋk, ŋʔ, ŋf, ŋs, ŋh, ŋl, ŋw, lp, lt, lʔ, lf, ls, lh, lm, lj, lw. Compound words can contain other consonant clusters in which the initial consonant is /m/, /n/, /ŋ/ or /l/. The 'consonant + vowel' combinations ji, jɨ and wu are not permitted. Apart from these exceptions, any consonant can occur before or after any vowel.
Stress in Norpalic words is very weak. Stress is predictable, always falling on the penultimate syllable of a word.
There are about 2000 root morphemes in Norpalic. Root morphemes never exceed three syllables in length. About four percent of root morphemes are monosyllabic, 71 percent are disyllabic, and 25 percent are trisyllabic.
Norpalic is written using the Latin alphabet. The Norpalic alphabet is easy to learn as it is completely transparent and has a one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds. The following table shows each letter of the alphabet and its IPA pronunciation:
The grammar of Norpalic is extremely regular and fairly simple, making it easy to learn. Norpalic has a rigid Subject-Verb-Object word order. Norpalic uses prepositions rather than postpositions and is strongly right-branching, with adjectives, adverbs and other modifiers occurring after the parts of speech they modify. Norpalic has about the same level of agglutinativity as English. Norpalic has five grammatical moods (imperative, conditional, subjunctive, optative, potential), and has a five-term evidential system (visual sensory, nonvisual sensory, inferential, reportative, assumed). Mood and evidentiality are indicated by suffixes attached to the verb. Prepositions are used to convey the meaning of grammatical case. Norpalic has no grammatical gender. Tense and aspect are indicated by particles preceding the verb. Each root word in Norpalic belongs to a default part of speech. Suffixes are used to turn root words into a different part of speech from their default. The suffix '-no' turns a non-verbal root into a verb, the suffix '-sa' turns a non-adjectival root into an adjective, and the suffix '-li' turns a non-noun root into a noun. Norpalic has three grammatical numbers; singular, dual and plural. Norpalic has eight parts of speech in total; the noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection.
Norpalic has three grammatical numbers, singular, dual and plural (three or more of a thing). Norpalic uses the suffix '-hî' to indicate duality and the suffix '-si' to indicate plurality. Nouns and pronouns are the only parts of speech that are marked for number.
Nouns in Norpalic are marked by suffixes for grammatical number but not for case. Prepositions are used to express the meaning of grammatical case. The nominative and accusative cases are not marked for by prepositions though, but are indicated by word order. Compound nouns can be formed by combining together two root nouns, a noun and a verb, or a noun and an adjective, as well as by the use of suffixes. Norpalic is right branching when forming compound nouns, with the head preceding the modifier. Norpalic does not have any noun class system such as male versus female or animate versus inanimate, and nouns are not marked for definiteness (there are no words in Norpalic for 'a/an' and 'the'). Norpalic has a rich set of suffixes that can be attached to nouns to change their meaning. For example, the suffix '-lëga' gives a noun a pejorative meaning, the suffix '-hape' gives a noun an augmentative meaning and the suffix '-rosë' gives a noun a diminutive meaning.
Norpalic has a simple set of personal pronouns distinguishing three persons. Personal pronouns are not affected by gender, animacy, formality or clusivity. Subjective and objective personal pronouns take the same form. The suffix '-henso' indicates the reflexive form of a personal pronoun, and the suffix '-sîqo' indicates the intensive form. Norpalic does not permit dummy personal pronouns. The following table shows the personal pronouns of Norpalic.
The following table shows the possessive adjectives of Norpalic. Possessive adjectives occur after the noun they modify, like other adjectives.
Possessive pronouns are formed by adding the suffix '-lati' to the corresponding possessive adjective (mamlati = mine, këlati = yours). Norpalic has only one demonstrative pronoun 'lun', which corresponds to both the word ‘this’ and the word ‘that’ in English. There are two relative pronouns in Norpalic, 'sî' and 'se'. 'Sî' is used for 'direct' relative clauses and 'se' is used for 'indirect' relative clauses. There are two interrogative pronouns corresponding to the words ‘who’ and ‘what’ (such as in the sentence 'Who is in the garden?' or the sentence 'What is his name?'). Norpalic also has several indefinite pronouns.
Gramatical case is not marked for by inflection or declension. Instead, the meaning of grammatical cases is expressed using prepositions. The following is a list of grammatical cases expressed through prepositions in Norpalic:
Adessive (near/at/by); apudessive (next to); inessive (inside); intrative (between); pertingent (touching); subessive (under); superessive I (on); superessive II (over); ablative (away from); initiative (beginning from); lative (to); terminative (as far as); perlative (through/along); prolative (via/ by way of); antessive (before); temporal (at (only used for describing time)); instructive (by means of); instrumental (with/using); ablative (concerning); aversive I (avoiding); aversive II (fearful of); benefactive I (for the benefit of); benefactive II (for/intended for); causal (because of); comitative (with); dative (for); distributive (per / for each); genitive (of); possessive (belonging to); ornative (endowed/equipped with); partitive ('indicates irresultative actions'); comparative (similar to); equative (comparable with); essive ('temporary state of being'); excessive ('transition from a state'); identical (the same as); orientative (turned toward); revertive (backwards to / against); translative ('change from one form to another'); multiplicative ('number of times'); vocative ('used to address someone' e.g. 'O father!'); disjunctive ('used in isolation or other special situations').
Norpalic verbs are marked by suffixes to indicate five grammatical moods; the imperative, conditional, subjunctive, optative and potential. A verb can be made emphatic by inserting the particle 'lina' before the verb, which means 'indeed'.
Tense and Aspect
Grammatical tense and aspect are indicated by particles that precede the verb. There are three tenses; past, present and future, and three aspects; perfective, habitual and continuous/progressive. The present tense and the perfective aspect are unmarked. The past tense is indicated by the particle 'wa', and the future tense by the particle 'wi'. The habitual aspect is indicated by the particle 'ru', and the continuous/progressive aspect by the particle 'së'. Tense particles precede aspect particles when occurring together.
Infinitive and gerund
The infinitive form of a verb is indicated by the suffix '-qo'. Gerunds (verbal nouns that refer to the action of the verb) are formed by using the suffix '-fi'.
Norpalic has two voices; active and passive. The active voice is the default and is unmarked. The passive voice is formed using the word 'wën', meaning 'to have/receive', followed by the object of the sentence followed by a possessive adjective. The sentence 'I am being enlightened', would be more literally translated from Norpalic to English as 'I am having my enlightenment'. The sentence 'mi wa wën łama mam' means 'I was born', but more literally translates as 'I had my birth'.
The copula (used to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate) is formed using the word 'ma' meaning 'to be'.
Norpalic has an obligatory evidential marking system distinguishing the following five evidential paradigms: visual sensory, nonvisual sensory, inferential, reportative, assumed. These are marked by the following suffixes which are attached to the verb: '-pë' (visual sensory), '-sen' (nonvisual sensory), '-to' (inferential), '-fî' (reportative), '-nu' (assumed).
The word 'su', meaning 'no' or 'not', makes a statement negative. Only one occurrance of this word is permitted per clause. If this word occurs twice within a clause, the two negatives cancel each other out and the result is a positive sentence. The word 'su' always occurs before the word it negates. Examples of this are as follows:
Mi wa su qasë kumaya (I/me 'past tense' no see dog) = I did not see the dog
Su mi wa qasë kumaya (No I/me 'past tense' see dog) = It was not me who saw the dog
Mi wa qasë su kumaya (I/me 'past tense' see no dog) = It was not the dog that I saw
Unlike in English, the word order in Norpalic is the same for questions as for statements. Questions are formed by inserting the particle 'lu' at the beginning of the sentence. The following example illustrates this:
Łu ma sotî = you are happy.
Lu łu ma sotî = are you happy?
Norpalic has root words for the primary colours red, blue and yellow, and for the secondary colours green, orange and purple. It also has root words for black, grey, white and brown. Other colours can be formed by agglutinating two or more root colour words into a compound word e.g. 'gimo' (blue) + 'łuti' (green) = 'gimołuti' (turquoise), 'gimo' (blue) + 'tiqoli' (purple) = 'gimotiqoli' (violet).
Adjectives in Norpalic can take either the attributive, absolute, predicative or nominal form. Adjectives are strongly isolating and are not marked for grammatical number. Attributive adjectives in Norpalic generally occur in the following order: quality; color; size; shape; age; material; purpose; quantity. Other orders are permissible also. Adjectives and other modifiers are not marked for restrictiveness.
Adverbs are formed by adding the suffix '-mî' to the corresponding adjective e.g. tami = good, tamimî = well.
The comparative degree for adjectives and adverbs is formed by adding after the adjective/adverb the word 'łënen' meaning 'more', and the superlative degree is formed by adding after the adjective/adverb the word 'hîqom' meaning 'most'. To say the word 'less', you use the word for 'more' plus the suffix '-ti', which means 'opposite of', and to say the word 'least' you add this suffix to the word 'most'. So the word 'łënenti' means 'less' and the word 'hîqomti' means 'least'. The word 'rëki' means 'than'. The sentence 'Mi ma holpa łënen rëki łu' means 'I am taller than you' (literally: I am/be tall/long more than you). To say "as .... as" such as in the sentence "I am as tall as you", you use the the format 'tuhulî....rëki'. The word 'tuhulî' means 'same'. So the sentence "I am as tall as you" is translated to Norpalic as 'Mi ma tuhulî holpa rëki łu' (literally: I am/be same tall/long than/as you).
Norpalic has the following cardinal numerals: yamu (zero), mëta (one), tîla (two), tupe (three), hëgatu (four), łemin (five), ralë (six), himumî (seven), sunqa (eight), niłaro (nine), lati (ten), natesë (one hundred), lanî (one thousand), rahë (one million). The number eleven is written as 'lati la mëta', literally 'ten and one', twelve is written as 'lati la tîla', literally 'ten and two', and thirteen is 'lati la tupe', literally 'ten and three', and so on. Twenty is written as 'tîlalati', literally 'two ten'. Twenty-one is written as 'tîlalati la mëta', literally 'two ten and one', and twenty-two is written 'tîlalati la tîla' literally 'two ten and two'. Numbers are formed with this pattern of placing two cardinal numbers side by side to multiply, and using the word 'la' (meaning 'and') to add. So the number 534 would be written as 'łeminnatesë la tupelati la hëgatu', literally 'five hundred and three ten and four'. Ordinal numbers are formed with the adjectival suffix '-sa' (mëtasa=first, tîlasa=second, tupesa=third), and multiples are formed with the suffix '-yomhan' (mëtayomhan=single, tîlayomhan=double, tupeyomhan=triple). Fractions are formed with the suffix '-wole' (tîlawole=half, hëgatuwole=quarter), collectives with the suffix '-lałi' (tîlalałi=by twos, tupelałi=by threes), and repetitions with the suffix '-rantî' (mëtarantî=once, tîlarantî=twice, tuperantî=thrice).
Norpalic has a rigid Subject-Verb-Object word order. The language is right branching, with adjectives, adverbs, determiners, numerals, possessors, relative causes and other modifiers coming after the part of speech they modify. Norpalic tends to order adpositional phrases in the format Time-Manner-Place instead of Place-Manner-Time. Within a phrase that contains multiple words, the order is noun - adjective - numeral - possessive adjective / demonstrative. So the sentence 'These two red cars' would be structured in Norpalic as 'Cars red two these', and the sentence 'My three young children' would be structured as 'Children young three my'. In prepositional phrases the preposition always comes at the beginning of the noun phrase. Attributive prepositional phrases occur after the part of speech they modify. So the phrase 'the dog in the house' is structured the same as in English but without articles (dog in house), and the phrase 'John's car' is structured 'Car of John'.
Similarly to in English, relative clauses in Norpalic are introduced by relative pronouns. Relative pronouns are always necessary, unlike in English. Relative clauses occur after the noun they modify. There are two relative pronouns in Norpalic: 'sî' and 'se'. 'Sî' is used for 'direct' relative clauses and 'se' is used for 'indirect' relative clauses. A direct relative clause is one where the relativized element is the subject or direct object of its clause (e.g. "the car which I saw"), and an indirect relative clause is one where the relativized element is genitival (e.g. "the boy whose father is sick") or is the object of a preposition (e.g. "the girl to whom I gave the flowers"). Relative clauses are not marked for restrictiveness.
Norpalic has about 2000 root morphemes. Norpalic morphology makes heavy use of suffixes. The use of suffixes as well as compounding allows for a large vocabulary to be formed from a small number of root morphemes, which decreases the memory load of the language. Compound words in Norpalic are different from English in that the initial root rather than the final root is basic to the meaning. The word 'hosoholequ' means 'songbird', but literally translates as 'bird song' (hoso = bird, holequ = song), and the word 'holequhoso' means 'bird song' but literally translates as 'songbird'. Norpalic uses reduplication to indicate that an action is continuative. The sentence 'Qe së qofë' means '(s)he is sleeping' (qofë = to sleep), but the sentence 'Qe së qofë qofë' means '(s)he is still sleeping'.