Old Pelhaforan

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Per gyan, or "Pelhaforan language," written in Pelhaforan abugida. The characters represent the sounds pe -r gi a -n respectively.

The dialects known as Old Pelhaforan or Ancient Pelhaforan were an early form of the Pelhaforan language spoken in the approximate area of present-day Pelhafor for much of the 1st millenium C.E. Attested in various sources including court documents, religious scriptures, and vernacular literature, Old Pelhaforan is believed to have phased into Middle Pelhaforan by the 9th century.



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d k g
Fricative f s z x h
Approximant w ɾ j


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close i u
Close-mid o
Mid e
Open a


Pelhaforan words feature syllables with an obligatory vowel nuclei. A consonantal onset, palatal medial, and coda are optional. Only /n/, /t/, /k/, /s/, and /ɾ/ can be used as codas in Pelhaforan words. Codas in native Pelhaforan words usually only occur at the ends of words; loanwords do not necessarily follow this rule but nonetheless conform to Pelhaforan's phonotactical laws.

The Pelhaforan syllable structure:


where C₁ is consonantal onset, C₂ is a palatal medial, and C₃ is the coda.


Pelhaforan nouns are not marked for grammatical gender, number, or articles. Pelhaforan has a possession marker, “ki” (also the conjunction for comparisons), which is placed after the possessor and before the possessed object. It is omitted in cases of inalienable possession, i.e. “my brother,” “my cousin,” “my arm,” etc.

Personal pronounsEdit

Personal pronouns are marked by person and number. An intensive pronoun can be expressed with the particle “sur” (related to suru, “self; soul, mind”) placed after the personal pronoun. Placed alone after the verb, “sur” may also express the reflexive.

Singular Plural
1st person het, mosa sahu
2nd person han kyan
3rd person kas gaze

In the second person, Pelhaforan maintains a T-V distinction. The singular han is used to address a person of inferior rank or position in the social hierarchy, whereas the plural kyan is for addressing a superior. Between equals, high-class peers prefer to use kyan, while the lower class uses han. In more formal situations, it is common to discard pronouns altogether and address someone by their rank, office, or honorific.


Noun classifiers (a.k.a. measure words) are required when counting nouns. It is considered ungrammatical to omit the measure word, but omitting the noun (provided the noun is clear from context) and preserving the classifier is acceptable and common. The classifier is placed after the numeral, which is placed before the noun being modified in the format numeral-classifier-noun.

Common classifiers include:

  • "is" - classifier for humans
  • "ne" - classifier for objects
  • "syu" - classifier for animals
  • "ben" - 'piece', 'lump'
  • "bar" - 'cup of'
  • "tar" - 'line of', 'row of'

Classifiers are often combined with determiners. For example, te syu means "that animal." The pronouns nyas (nya 'what' + is) and nyane (nya 'what' + ne) mean "who" and "what" respectively.


Pelhaforan makes a two-way distinction for demonstratives. The proximal demonstrative (‘this’) is “zo”; the distal demonstrative (‘that’) is “te.” The demonstrative adjective is placed before the noun as a regular adjective. No distinction is made between interrogative and indefinite (“any”) pro-forms.

Query Proximal Distal Existential Universal Negatory Alternative
Determiner nya zo te yora tus bas zin
Pronouns Person nyas zos tes yoras tusa basa zinas
Thing nyane zone tene yorane tusen basen zinen
Out of many nyas zone tene yorane tusen basen zinen
Pro-Adverbs Place nyatin zotin tetin yoratin tutin batin --
Time nahus hapa dowu yohus tuhus bahus --
Manner nahasu zohasu tehasu yohasu -- -- --
Reason nyan kus yun -- -- -- --


The main copula is “za” (‘to be’), which is used only for noun complements, due to the stative verb nature of Pelhaforan adjectives. Another copula is “rut,” meaning “to be located (in),” and is used alongside adpositional phrases.


Aspectual particles follow the modified verb. Aspect marking is not strictly required and can be omitted when the aspect can be inferred.

  • "nat" – progressive aspect
  • yut” – perfect aspect
  • "his" – inchoative aspect; related to hisa (lit. “to rise, ascend”); beginning of a state
  • "dok" – frequentative aspect; can be used as a habitual aspect


Verbs may be attached with additional suffixes to mark information such as evidentiality. Evidential particles usually follow the aspectual particles after the verb.

  • bet” – reportative (hearsay or secondhand information; “it is said…”)
  • "mis” – inferential (based on indirect evidence; “must be, probably, would be…”)
  • sye” – visual sensory (based on visual evidence; “seems, looks”)

These particles may be combined to express multiple levels of evidentiality.


To negate a sentence or statement, “ba” is placed immediately after the verb. For the negation of an imperative, the particle “ko” is used instead; it precedes the verb.


When used as a predicate, the adjective becomes a stative verb and takes on verbal markers for aspect and evidentiality. This is known as an "adjectival verb." When used attributively, the adjective requires the suffix "-ya" and precedes the noun.

Reduplication can be used to change the intensity of an adjective, somewhat akin to the use of the English suffix “-ish” (i.e. red; reddish). The last consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) sequence is reduplicated and attached to the end of the base adjective.


The suffix “-has” (from hasu, lit. “form, shape, manner”) is used to form adverbs out of adjectives. Adverbs can be used in two locations: between the subject and the verb, or at the end of the sentence after the verb and pronouns.


Pelhaforan comparatives and superlatives are syntactically formed with the comparison adverbs “was” and “zoha” respectively. When modifying adjectival verbs and other adverbs, the comparison adverb follows the word. However, when modifying an adjective in attributive form, the adverb precedes the adjective.

The comparative conjunction is “ki,” identical to the possessive particle. It indicates with what the comparison is being made and corresponds to the English conjunction “than.” The phrase “is more X than Y” is rendered as “X was ki Y.”


  •  basen – zero (lit. ‘nothing’)
  • tos – one
  • dan – two
  • ge – three
  • rus – four
  • wet – five
  • fen – six
  • nin – seven
  • zek – eight
  • tut – nine
  • pyat – ten
  • yan – hundred
  • mik – thousand
  • dyo – million
  • mitto – billion

Numerals above pyat (10) are formed by stacking. For example, eleven is pyat tos (‘ten-one’), twelve is pyat dan (‘ten-two’), twenty is dan pyat (‘two-ten’), twenty-two is dan pyat dan (‘two-ten-two’), eighty is zek pyat (‘eight-ten’), a hundred is tos yan (‘one-hundred’), and a hundred twenty-one is tos-yan danpyat tos (‘one-hundred-two-ten-one’). Ordinal numbers are formed by placing “-ka” after the numeral. For example, toska is ‘first’, danka is ‘second’, geka is third, danpyatka is twentieth, and danpyatdanka is twenty second.


Most Pelhaforan words that fall under this category are either prepositions (placed before their complement) or postpositions (placed after their complement); Pelhaforan also has a few circumpositions. To avoid the situation of adjacent nouns, postpositional phrases are usually placed after the verb and before any objects, or in front of the entire sentence. Prepositional phrases usually follow the direct object, if any. Provided no ambiguity arises, however, these rules may be and often are bent, especially poetically. If modifying nouns, adpositional phrases become relative clauses.


Prepositions precede their complements.

  • kin – with, alongside; in addition to

  • kinba – without, lacking; apart from, beside, except, but; lit. kin (‘with’) + ba (‘not’)

  • ni – for, to, directed at; because of, due to, on account of; indirect object marker

  • xak – such as, for example; like, as, reminiscent of; lit. “similar, alike”

  • fawani - in spite of, despite, notwithstanding; lit. fawa ('bad') + ni ('for, to')

Postpositions Edit

Postpositions follow their complements.

  • fas – in, at, into; about, concerning, regarding, on

  • se – by means of, using, with, in (language)

  • not – to, at, towards; up to, until, as far as

  • mer – from, out of; since

  • bit – near, around; approximately, about; lit. “near, close”

  • zoknot – up, toward the top of; upward

  • garnot – down; downward

  • fassus – during, throughout, in (time); from fas (‘in’) + hus (‘time’)

  • zoxitos – around, surrounding; from zok (‘on’) + hitos (‘circle’)

  • zokbit – about, regarding, concerning; from zok (‘on’) + bit (‘near’)

  • xegarak – along, lengthwise

  • xegatus – throughout, all through, in every part of

  • nossaga – toward, at, for, in the direction of; from not (‘to, at’) + saga (‘front, fore’)

  • fassahon – among, between, at the center of; from fas (‘in’) + tahon (‘heart, center’)

  • inyudu - not until, only when, only then; from yin ('come to') + yudu ('behind, after')

Relational nounsEdit

To indicate relative position, Pelhaforan makes extensive use of relational nouns. These nouns are used to convey spatial and temporal relations to complements via the complement’s possession of the relational noun; thus, relational nouns are preceded by the possessive particle “ki.” If the adpositional use is clear from context, “ki” can be omitted, turning the relational noun into a true postposition.

  • saga – before, in front of; by (a certain time); lit. “fore, front; face”

  • yudu – after, behind; later in time; lit. “back, rear, behind”

  • zok – above, over; on, on top of

  • gar – beneath, below, under

  • zotton – across, on/to the opposite side; through; from zok (‘on’) + don (‘far’); lit. “opposite side”

  • rak – beside, next to; lit. “side, flank”

  • tahon – among, between, in the middle of; lit. “heart, center”

  • yanik – inside (of), within; during, in (time); lit. “interior, inside”

  • zet – outside (of); lit. “outside, exterior”

  • dus – against, in contrary direction to; lit. “opposite, contrary”


Although rare, circumpositions also exist in Pelhaforan:

  • ni… ki nese – because of, for sake of, on account of

  • niki tin – instead of, in place of, rather than, in lieu of


  • zu – and

  • ban – or

  • dak – if, supposing that, whether

  • xak – as, in the same way that (introduces a basis of comparison); lit. “similar, alike”

  • ki – than; same as possessive particle

  • syo – but, however (implies the following clause contrasts with or contradicts the previous statement or belief)

  • kinba – except for, excluding, but

  • nahasu – however, in whatever manner; lit. “how”

  • <adjective> ni... not – so (adj.) that... (indicates consequence or result); lit. "for" & "to"

  • nyanse – because, for the reason that; lit. nyan (‘why’) + se (‘by’)

  • reho – because, for the reason that

  • nikus – so that, in order that; lit. ni (‘for’) + kus (‘therefore’)

  • nyun – so that, in order that; lit. ni ('for') + yun ('therefore')

  • kus – therefore, so, as a result, consequently; lit. “herefore, for this reason”

  • yun – therefore, so, as a result, consequently; lit. “therefore, for that reason”

  • zuzu… -- both… and…

  • zohasu - then, in that case; thereby, in this way

  • daksyo - though, although, even though; lit. dak ('if') + syo ('but')


The basic word order is subject-verb-object. Dependent clauses use the same word order. Pelhaforan does not have a complementizer; complement clauses follow the main clause without any introductory "that" word. Pelhaforan is a pro-dropping language. The subject or object may be omitted in a sentence if they are clear by the context.

Adverbial clause Edit

The adverbial clause is a dependent clause that functions as an adverb. Adverbial clauses either precede the verb or stand at the beginning of the sentence, with some exceptions. When indicating the result or consequence of an action, the adverbial clause usually comes last, after the verb and pronouns.


Pelhaforan is a topic-prominent language, meaning that the topic-comment sentence structure is used frequently in lieu of the usual SVO order. The emphatic particle da is often used as a topic marker, separating it from the comment

Relative clausesEdit

Relative (adjectival) clauses modify nouns or noun phrases. The relativizer that connects the relative clause with the noun is identical to the possessive marker and comparative conjunction “ki.” The relativizer is placed before the noun phrase.


Word order is not changed in questions and remains in situ. As Pelhaforan does not have clear-cut counterparts of “yes” and “no,” these questions are typically answered by echo responses, in the form of a standalone verb taken from the question.

Polar questions are formed with the sentence-final particle “na.” Non-polar questions are formed by an optional emphatic particle, "ga" or "a", at the end. Indirect questions, on the other hand, are embedded without question particles within sentences. An indirect polar question uses the conjunction "dak", meaning 'if, whether'.


Pelhaforan makes use of modal particles, uninflected words that express modality and convey focus in sentences. These modal particles are used extensively in colloquial speech.

The negative gotba means “must not, be required to not, not allowed to.” Another way to express this is to use positive son with a negated main verb. On the other hand, sonba means “not required to, not have to.”

Particle Function/Meaning Sentence Position
taha optative, indicates wish or blessing; "may" sentence-initial
da emphatic, assertive; also used as topic marker sentence-final; as topic marker, after topic
duk indicates a fact can't be changed and must be accepted; "simply", "merely", "just" sentence-final
re conveys impatience or urgency; may indicate imperative; "already" sentence-final
so suggestion sentence-final
yo vocative, used to address someone; "o" after addressee's name or pronoun
got "can, may, have permission to" before verb
pat "can, be able to, knows how to"; archaic meaning: "to know" before verb
son "must, be required to, have to" before verb
ten "can, be able to, could"; archaic meaning: "power, strength" before verb
wut "should, ought to" before verb

Passive voiceEdit

The passive voice is not used as much as the topic-comment structure. The grammaticalized adposition “kato” (lit. “to give’) conveys the passive voice. It is placed after the patient noun and before the agent noun, if included. The verb is at the end of the sentence.


Several interjections have been attested in Pelhaforan literature:

  • yahi, yawu – pain, woe; ‘ow, ouch’

  • ho, ha – realization, wonder, amazement, awe; ‘oh, ah’

  • hun – agreement or uncertainty; ‘mhm’

  • he, hen – uncertainty, confusion; ‘uh’

  • fu, xe – disgust, displeasure; ‘ew’

Derivational morphologyEdit

Aside from compounding, conversion, and adoption of loanwords, new words may be created by attaching affixes to old words. Certain adpositions such as kin and mer may serve as verb-forming prefixes.

  • '-t' - adjective to noun
  • '-o' - agentive
  • ‘-wan’ – verbal nouns
  • ‘-kat’ – abstract nouns denoting a state or condition; from adjectives
  • ‘-sar’ – agent nouns
  • ‘-tus’ – adjectives from nouns
  • ‘-si’ –  diminutive suffix; also adjectives from nouns
  • ‘-xak’ – adjectives meaning “similar or reminiscent of”; lit. xak “alike, similar”
  • -wi’ – causative verbs denoting change or transformation; -ify, -ize
  • ‘-tin’ – nouns of place or location
  • ‘-dus’ – against, hostile to; opposite of, reverse; counteracting; “anti-”; lit. “against”
  • bas-’ – adjectives meaning “lack of, without”
  • kan-’ – chief, extreme; surpassing, superior; above, “super-,” “over-”; lit. kan “high, tall”
  • zet’ – outward (prefix); outside of, beyond, “extra-” (suffix); lit. “outside”
  • gar-’ – deputy, subsidiary, secondary; subordinate; “vice-,” “sub-”; lit. “beneath”
  • mur-’ – excessively, too; beyond, surpassing; “over-,” “super-”; lit. “too, excessively”
  • ten-’ – able to be done; “-able”; from modal verb ten “can, be able to”
  • 'sak' - before, pre-, in front; shortened form of saga
  • 'yut-' - after, behind, in the back; shortened form of yudu

Writing systemEdit

Old Pelhaforan was written with an abugida script. [1]


Old Pelhaforan/Lexicon

Example textEdit

Example SentencesEdit

  • Het tani kas kubo, ni kas dusa not.
    • me strike him hard, for him weep toward
    • I hit him hard enough for him to cry.
  • Kas kutwin ki zotton yar te kit.
    • she window-POS opposite see that person
    • She saw/sees the man across (through) the window.
  • Het sotator, ni het zyak'yut not.
    Pelha example sentence

    Het sotator, ni het zyak'yut not.

    • me drunk, for me fall-PERF toward
    • I was so drunk that I fell.
  • Tetin tet bet ge-is dayo, zu gaze tuhus tetin taso-dok-bet.
    • there have REPORTAT three-CLASS man, and they always there walk-FREQ-REPORTAT
    • There are apparently three men, and they apparently always walk (frequently) there.

Basic Phrases Edit

Pelha more examples

Taha nura. Tahomu. Kyan omu na? Syar omu. Nenya hesya

Taha nura - hello, goodbye (formal), lit. "may (you) be healthy"

Taha suye - goodbye, lit. "may (it) be peaceful"

Yuttus yar - goodbye, see you again, lit. "again see"

Tahomu - hello, greetings, from taha ('may') + omu ('to be good')

Han omu na?/Han nura na? - How are you? (informal)

Kyan omu na?/Kyan nura na? - How are you? (formal)

Syar omu - Good day; I am fine, lit. "day is good"

Kyar omu - Good evening; I am fine, lit. "evening is good"

Gako - Please; you're welcome

Nenya hesya - Thank you, lit. "much gratitude"

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