Pkalho-Kölo is an absolutely a priori language: since it began as part of an imaginary world, I wanted it to be different in phonology and grammar from any existing language. In grammar I started from the idea of a language without distinction of parts of speech. Nouns and verbs are supposedly indispensable categories, leading to the need for other word-classes. But the noun-verb distinction itself is arbitrary: in English, “thunder” is a noun and a  verb, “lightning” only a noun; a flower is a “thing,” yet "flower" is also a verb; nouns like "day" and "night" obviously refer to events, not things. Why not do without it and have only one kind of word?

It turns out that a language can work without nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs, without pre/postpositions or conjunctions; without transitive or intransitive, active or passive; without subject-object relations; neither nominative/accusative nor ergative.

A second goal was to create an agglutinative language that does not have a huge arsenal of affixes, but instead uses a small number (in the end 34) quite economically. (This was partly because I wanted all affixes to have the form CV.)

In phonology I wanted at least a couple of sounds not found in any natural language; to avoid sibilants; and to have an overall sound dominated by labial or labialised consonants. These are the consonants of Pkalho-Kölo in the traditional order:

p pk pkw pr t c cw kw k
m v pw rl lh l y w n
ph fh th fw hw h


Unrounded a ë e i
Rounded ä ö o u

On Pkalho-Kolo 2 : Phonology and Phonotactics and a short English to Pkalho-Kölo word-list; also some scans of the language in its own alphabet. More advanced grammar on Pkalho-Kolo 3 . Translations on Pkalho-Kölo/A

The basic grammar of Pkalho-Kölo is as follows:

1. Orders Edit

The first rule is that any unmarked word that precedes a word with a suffix, is a modifier. (Long strings of modifiers are not uncommon.) The second rule is that the head word of any complete utterance is the first word with a suffix, and this will usually be one of nine Order suffixes, (or one of eight Mood suffixes which replace them.)

Stative -la
Active -rë
Habitual -mu

Instead of a lexical noun/verb distinction Pkalho-Kölo has this three-way grammatical contrast: Stative, for states or conditions existing in space; Active, for events occurring at a specific time; Habitual, for customary or normal events, at no specific time. Most other suffixes replace either the Stative or the Active.

Stative: kullu cilola - it is dark blue : hino phoäla - there are white flowers.

Active: hölki  pkaterë - (it) broke suddenly : hwicorë - there was a flash of lightning.

Habitual: mälho ëfwumu - it gets cold at night : tëmamu wehon, cäyumu cwilën - the sky grows dark, the stars grow bright.

These are all impersonal, neither transitive nor intransitive, neither active nor passive. So keila means “sees” or “is visible” : lhomirë means “dies”, “kills” or “is killed.”

Interrogative -wo
Conjectural -thä
Concessive -ku

Interrogative forms questions: möiwo - is (he/she) asleep?; ëfwuwo - are you cold?.

Conjectural translates maybe, perhaps: möithä - perhaps (he/she) is asleep; thulothä - perhaps (he/she) has forgotten. (Conjectural is used in cases of doubt or hearsay: thähela melathä pawe - there’s a rumour that you like (him/her).)

Concessive expresses surprise, reproach, an admission, etc: ëfwuku - it’s so cold : yëphaku - but I'm tired

These three replace the Stative -la. To apply them to an event rather than a state, we add one of the other suffixes: pkateworë - did it break? thulothämu - perhaps (they) usually forget; nacwikurë - I'm surprised that (they) left

Denominative -to
Conjunctive -yë
Resultative -pë

Denominative names or identifies things: pela cäilato - this is my friend : cemkwa-leato - it's a quince-tree : rliwa rluito tölwito - bamboo is a kind of grass.

Conjunctive refers back to the previous word with an Order suffix; often translates “and” : hwäivorë cännuyë - (they) danced and sang : lhurkarë hwicoyë - there was thunder and lightning.

Resultative describes the result of the previous word with an Order suffix: tepkurë pkatepë - (he) hit (it) so that it broke (he broke it) : ämrlola möipë - it was so warm (I) fell asleep.

2. Subordinations

Words that add information to a word with an Order suffix are said to be Subordinated. There are ten Subordination suffixes, which are similar to a case system, but cases such as nominative, accusative and genitive are absent. Pkalho-Kölo is neither nominative/acusative nor ergative. There are no subject-object or agent-patient relations: instead interrelations are modelled in a space/time that can be literal or metaphorical.

Relative -n(i)
Allative -li
Ablative -hi

Relative expresses what could be called inseparability: kullu cilola phoän - the flower is dark blue : pkeilu hwäivorë pwenyan - the boy danced gracefully. (The blueness can’t be separated from the flower, or the dance from the boy.)

Allative marks destination or recipient: wipräli - to the woods : kwearë cälpan pali - (he) gave me a book. Allative is also used for the locus of thoughts and perceptions, which are also received: keila cilo phoän pali - I saw the blue flower(s) : mathörë pwenyavo rlupeli - the dog remembered the boy.

Ablative marks the point of origin, in space or within the event: rloä tännuhi - from the distant mountain : pkaterë pwenyahi - the boy broke (it) : ceirë pali apkohi - my older brother told me.

Locative -we
Prolative -thu
Adessive -kö
Inessive -mä

Locative is for point location; often translates “at, by.” Toröwe - at the front : leawe - by the tree : cähe wilwawe - at the street-corner. Locative is also used for the locus of knowledge or emotion: pamela lho pwenyan pawe - I know that boy : ëfwula yafhëyë pawe - I feel cold and frightened. It also marks the instrument of an action: cikorë hiwan kilviwe - (he/she) cut the rope with a knife. 

Prolative marks location with regard to a line: often translates “along, through.” Tiltarë cähethu - (they) walked along the street : larirë pwahethu - (they) ran through the room. It is also used for means of transport: leperë phawethu - (they) came here by boat.

Adessive marks location with regard to a surface: often translates “on.” Këula cälpan tällikö - the book is on the table : fwärerë pa näkekö - it settled on my hand. It also specifies the place of impact: tepkurë pakö - (he/she) hit me : kipërë thuoläkö - (he/she) played (on) the harp.

Inessive marks ambient location in space or time: often translates “in.” Kaulomä - in the garden : cantomä - in the box : torllumä - in summer : vielomä - in the evening.

Partitive -vo
Sublative -të
Directive -pkwe

Partitive specifies the substance of something, or a part of something: torömä tämovon - in the front of the house (as against: toröwe tämolin - in front of the house); muirë nulhävo nuoyë rlucovo - (they) ate bread and drank wine. It has a number of other uses: nouma kwilarë unovo - they talked for a long time about the children : yafhëla rlupevo cwëllewe - the little girl was afraid of the dog.

Sublative has meanings like "under, beneath", often metaphorical: hwecala cwean ceihutë - (her) face was hidden by a veil : hwäivorë vuirëtë - (they) danced in the rain : lhomirë kwëlnatë - (he) died by poisoning

Directive marks orientation: thihupkwe - towards the north : proärë kilvin apkopkwe - (I) bought a knife for my older brother : keila cwean thilkopkwe - (I) can see a face in the mirror.

When the relative suffix -ni is contracted to -n it links back to the previous word with any suffix, and it can be added to any other Subordination suffix. Këula tällikö - (it) is on the table. Këula cantomä tällikön - (it) is in the box (which is) on the table. (Note that when "to be" means “to be in a place” the word këu, to find, is often used: “it can be found on the table.”) When the suffix is used is its full form, -ni, it links to the previous word with an Order suffix only.

Subordination suffixes replace the Stative -la, which is to say they are Stative by default. But words for events at a specific or non-specific time can equally be subordinated: Keila hwäivorën cwëllen pwenyali - the boy saw the girl dancing : kwömlurë upherën elkohi - the sun lights up the clouds as they form.

3. Mood Edit

Words with Order suffixes describe actual events; but there are also eight Mood suffixes that refer to unrealised possibilities, the future, hypothesis, hopes or fears, etc. They all replace the Active -rë, i.e. they are Active by default.

Expective -mö
Subjunctive -kwä
Hortative -ru
Injunctive -kë
Precative -kari
Purposive -phi
Optative -hwa
Apprehensive -fhe

Expective is for events foreseen in the future: vuimö - it’s going to rain : ecwa nacwimö lhaun - they leave today : ilva lhapimö tuinarën tämon - they will soon finish building the house.

Subjunctive is for hypothetical situations: källekwä apkohi - my brother would/could help (you) : yöllikwä unohi - the children would cry. Subjunctive is also used to make an offer/suggestion: letoukwä phieprun - shall (I) bring (you) your hairbrush?

Hortative expresses a suggestion or recommendation, often including the speaker: nuoru rlucovo - let’s drink some wine : hwecaru cepron - better hide the money.

Injunctive is for commands or instructions: cwipë lelhkokë - tie it up tightly : hikö tencukë - decide quickly : pkoäkë kepwän - take hold of the ladder.

Precative is for polite requests: helu källekari - could you help for a moment? : letoukari hwëno lëmo phapren - would you mind bringing two more chairs?

Purposive expresses an intention, often of the speaker, but sometimes of a third person: källephi - I’ll help (you) : touphi celman - I’ll bring a lamp : proäphi mipko lëmo rlempon - I’ll buy two more bottles.

Optative is for wishes or hopes: talmehwa cäilon - I hope my friends will be safe : kwentohwa vuirën - I wish the rain would stop.

Apprehensive expresses a fear; often used to give a warning: täpufhe - it’s going to fall over : këfhefhe täivon - you’ll rip the material.

4. Coordination Edit

Words that end in one of the last three Order suffixes, and link to another word with an Order or Mood suffix, are said to be Coordinated.

The Denominative -to added to other suffixes creates suspended forms waiting for completion: Minlölato wafwula - It was so complicated I was amazed. Varerëto thuomä nallurë - I was late so I sat at the back.

With the second three Order suffixes:

Pkirewo?- Is it shut? Pkirewoto letouphi kilwen - If it’s shut I’ll go and get the key.

Möithä - Perhaps (they’re) asleep. Möithäto lilkwä tiltakë cäin - Walk quietly in case they're asleep.

Ëfwuku - It's so cold. Ëfwukuto hwöpe kwomala pakö - Although it’s cold I am lightly dressed.

Each of the Mood suffixes can take the Denominative -to, and sometimes the Resultative -pë, to create coordinated clauses expressing interactions between actual events and unrealised possibilities, expectation, instruction, intention, hope, fear and so on. A few examples:

Lantikwäto pälukö keimö kuphin - If you climb the hill you will be able to see the ocean

Lillä tiltakë virofheto ninyön - Walk very quietly or you’ll wake the baby.

Ölvu keriruto lincwa lhapimö - If we begin straightaway we’ll be finished tomorrow

Lhapimöto muriköila - When you're finished you can go home

Kwärvakë rlupen lucemöpë mimwen - Chase away the dog so the cat will come out

Enkwaphi vëllun capkwe kwentokëto yöllirën - I will read you a story provided you stop crying

Pkammärë mofhën pahi elma ämrlohwato cäin - I have banked up the fire so that you will be warm in the morning

The Denominative suffix -to can also be added to the Relative -ni, with a meaning like "as": Pkaninito yulä fhöcemu pawe - As a parent, of course I worry : Unonito yoäfhanela lhuwe - As a child he/she can't be expected to understand

5. Demonstratives / Pronouns. Edit

There are six demonstratives:

Neutral Reference ahead e
Reference back o
Proximate Near me pe
Near you ce
Remote First mentioned lho
Next mentioned yo

The demonstratives frequently take Order suffixes: pela - it’s here; look!; lhola it’s there; look!; lepekë - come here; hepekë - go away; ela - the following is the case; ola - what came before is the case; yes. The neutral demonstratives play an important role in the grammar of Pkalho-Kölo, being used, among other things, to create relative clauses. More about that later.

As in Japanese, pronouns are omitted unless this would cause ambiguity. However, Pkalho-Kölo has a full set of personal pronouns:

sing. dual plural
1st person excl. pa ape päi
incl. epka pkui
2nd person ca ocu cäi
3rd person excl. lhu elha lhau
incl. ulle ui
4th person yu oya yau

In the first person the exclusive /inclusive distinction is the familiar one: epka = me and you; apë = me and someone else. The fourth person, as in the Algonquian languages, is "obviative", used to distinguish one person or group, spoken of first, from another, spoken of next. The exclusive/inclusive distinction in the dual and plural clears up the ambiguity of sentences like: “He asked him if they were going to go with them.” Pronouns are only used to refer to people, animals, and anything regarded as person-like. For inanimate objects the demonstratives are used.   

Possessive. There are no possessive pronouns. The pronouns can be used as modifiers: pa cäilo - my friend : lhu cälpa - his/her book : epka tämo - our house. Or Subordination suffixes can be used with the Relative -n added: tauthola nölkevo cäihin - I am grateful for your kindness : horula lhuwe wönäni yuwen - she couldn’t understand his feelings. The Allative is used to translate “whose.” peku mäili? - whose is this? : lhoku mäili pewito? - whose are those shoes?

6. Indefinite Words Edit

Indefinite words form a small closed class of words. There are 12.

au something what?
mäi someone who?
pea somewhere where?
kui at some time when?
hwea in some way how?
pwea by some means how?
rlui some kind of what kind of?
toä a number of how many?
voä some how much?
mie one of several which?
kwiu for some purpose what for?
phiu for some reason why?

The meaning differs depending on which Order they follow:

Stative: Keila mäin - (I) see someone

Interrogative: Keiwo mäin? - Can you see anyone?

Concessive: Keiku mäin? - Who can you see?

Likewise when they are used by themselves:

Mäila - Someone is there/here

Mäiwo? - Is there someone there?

Mäiku? - Who’s there?

Those referring to time, place, manner, reason, etc, can be used as modifiers, or with a Subordination suffix:

Pwea pkälëtäkumu höpin? - How do ants communicate with each other?

Veakumö lapkwan mäili? - Who will win the prize?

With the neutral demonstratives e and o:

Horula ephiun hölki nacwikurë lhaun - I don’t understand why they suddenly left

Hunyëla epean paltokuphi lhaun oli - I don’t know where they went to go shopping

Indefinite words can also be used as modifiers with another word, as follows:

Nolwu voä kapula thelkan - The rock was as big as an elephant   

Cwilpwi hwea ëfwula pawe - I feel as cold as an icicle   

Indefinite words form compounds with the demonstratives; in the case of au an “r” is inserted: perau, cerau, lhorau, yorau. Indefinite words also form compounds with other words in which, unexpectedly, the modifier comes after the head-word: au nipro - precious things; au vihwë - things wished for, etc. Likewise: mäi pame - people you know; acquaintances; mäi lhema - people you don’t know, strangers. If more than one word is used the word order reverts to normal: hwea pelu - ways of writing; but rlipu pelu hwea - ways of writing letters (of the alphabet).        

Idioms using indefinite words: mäiwo pkämen cali? Is there someone - brother/sister - to you = Do you have any brothers or sisters? / ekuiwo keila kilwun cali? Is there such a time - is visible - a giraffe - to you = have you ever seen a giraffe?

Further Grammar Edit

Grammar continues on Pkalho-Kolo 3 :

7. Directional Prefixes A       

8. Directional Prefixes B       

9. Directional Prefixes C       

10. Inversions       

11. The Conjunctive       

12. Neutral Demonstratives       

13. The Resultative       

14. Negatives       

15. Aspect       

16. Mood: Grades       

17. N-Conjunctives       

I'm going to add two pages of Pkalho-Kölo in its own writing system. These were written a couple of years ago and the language has changed slightly since then, but not the writing system.
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