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Pkalho-Kölo began as part of an imaginary world, so 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: even in English, “thunder” is a noun and a  verb, “lightning” only a noun; a flower is a “thing,” yet "flower" is also a verb.

It turns out that a language can work without nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs, without pre/postpositions or conjunctions; without active or passive; without subject-object relations; neither nominative/accusative nor ergative. Pkalho-Kölo also lacks gender, number, tense, and any word to translate "to be."

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 32) 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; also to have no 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

(Now on Pkalho-Kolo 2 : Phonology and Phonotactics, a sample text written in Latin letters, a short English to Pkalho-Kölo word-list; also some scans of the language in its own alphabet.) A longer text on Pkalho-Kölo/A

The basic grammar of Pkalho-Kölo is as follows:

I. 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 seven Mood suffixes which replace them.)

Stative -la
Active -rë
Habitual -mu

Instead of a noun/verb distinction, Pkalho-Kölo has this three-way contrast: Stative, for things or conditions existing in space; Active, events occurring at a specific time; Habitual, customary or normal events. Other suffixes replace either the Stative or the Active. (Note that because the grammar differs from any existing language, I sometimes use grammatical terms, such as Subordination and Coordination, with meanings different from the usual ones.)

Stative: kullu cilola - it is dark blue : mea phoäla - there are many 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 -pwä
Concessive -ku

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

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

Concessive expresses surprise, the unexpected: ëfwuku - it’s so cold : unneku - but I feel so sure...

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? thulopwämu - perhaps they usually forget

Denominative -to
Conjunctive -yi
Resultative -pë

Denominative names or identifies things: pela cäilato - this is my friend : rliwa rluito tölwito - bamboo is a kind of grass.

Conjunctive refers back to the previous word with an Order suffix; often translates “and” : hwäivorë cännuyi - (they) danced and sang : lhurkarë hwicoyi - 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.

II. Subordinations

Words that add information to a word with an Order suffix are said to be Subordinated. There are nine Subordination suffixes, which are similar to a case system, but cases such as nominative, accusative and genitive are absent. There are no subject-object 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: keila cilo phoän pali - I saw the blue flower(s) : mathörë pwenyan rlupeli - the dog remembered the boy.

Ablative marks origin or originator: rloä tännuhi - from the distant mountain : pkaterë pwenyahi - the boy broke (it) : ceirë pali apkohi - my older brother told me.

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

Locative is for general location; often translates “at, by.” Toröwë - at the front : leawë - by the tree : cähe wilwawë - at the street-corner. Locative is also used for the locus of knowledge or emotion: pamela lho pwenyan pawë - I know that boy : ëfwula yafhëyi pawë - I feel cold and frightened. It also marks the instrument of an action: cikorë hiwan kilviwë - (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 describes 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
Directive -pkwe

Partitive specifies the substance of something, or a part of something: torömä tämovon - in the front of the house (as against: toröwë tämolin - in front of the house); muirë nulhävo nuoyi 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 cwëllewë - the little girl was afraid of the dog.

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.

The relative suffix -ni is usually contracted to -n. In this form 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 : këlphirë ilurën upherëmä - a ray of light pierced the forming clouds.

III. Mood Edit

Words with Order suffixes describe actual events; but there are also seven Mood suffixes that refer to unrealised possibilities, in the future, in hypothesis, in hopes or fears, etc. They all replace the active -rë.

Expective -mö
Subjunctive -kwä
Injunctive -kë
Purposive -phi
Hortative -ru
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 pahi - I 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?

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

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

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

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 fears, and is often used to give a warning: täpufhe - it’s going to fall over : këfhefhe täivon - look out, you’ll rip the material.

IV. 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.

Möipwä - Perhaps (they’re) asleep. Möipwäto lilkwä tiltakë cäin - If they should be asleep, walk quietly.

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 the interactions between actual events and unrealised possibilities in the domain of expectation, instruction, intention, hope 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

V. 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. But more about that later.

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

sing. dual plural
1st person excl. pa apë päi
incl. epka pkui
2nd person


acë cäi
3rd person excl. lhu olha 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. After the singular pronouns the allative -li is often reduced to -l except at the end of a phrase.   

Possessive. There are no possessive pronouns. Sometimes the pronouns, unmarked, are used as modifiers: pa cäilo - my friend : lhu cälpa - his/her book : epka tämo - our house. In other cases Subordination suffixes can be used with the Relative -n added: tauthola nölkevo cäihin - I am grateful for your kindness : horula lhuwë wönäni yuwën - 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?

VI. Indefinite Words Edit

Indefinite words form a small closed class of words with a number of uses. 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?
wei 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, obviously appear more often in questions. They 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?

They can also introduce the answer to a question:

Phiu kwomaku palkon? - Phiula lucehöiphin / Why are you wearing a coat? - Because I’m just about to go out.

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 pawë - 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.       

Working with four demonstratives rather than the two we have in English: with reference to time, cekui relates to the person spoken to, and so to the immediate past: what you have said; pekui to the speaker, and so the immediate future: what I am about to say. Lhokui refers to a more remote past, yokui often to a more remote future.       

Indefinite words also form compounds with other words in which, unexpectedly, the modifier comes after the head-word: au nipro - precious things; au hurkwo - things promised; 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).

Further Grammar Edit

Grammar continues on Pkalho-Kolo 3 :

VII. Directional Prefixes A       

VIII. Directional Prefixes B       

IX. Directional Prefixes C       

X. Inversions       

XI. The Conjunctive       

XII. Neutral Demonstratives       

XIII. The Resultative       

XIV. Negatives       

XV. Aspect       

XVI. Mood: Grades       

XVII. N-Conjunctives       

XVIII. Clause-Linking       

Right. I'm going to add (I hope) 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 the writing system hasn't changed.

(Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to place them properly)

Page 1
Page 2

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