Thursday, August 19, 2010

Plurality in Teutla

I like to develop specific features for each of my languages, kind of a theme for each of them, even if I am the only person who gets what the theme actually is. In my mind it just makes sense. That's why when leading with Teutla I decided to endow it with different kinds of plurality a little like class plurals and a little like quality plurals. For instance in Teutla you have at least 5 kinds of plurals. The first plural is -tʼu for inanimate concrete nouns, then you have -neh for inanimate abstract nouns and -tla for animate nouns. These three are the basic ones, apart from them you have -tʼash for 'complete' as well as -net for 'a lot of'. So for instance 'man' she would have a plural shetla 'men', and noa 'cat' would have noatla 'cats', but then kʼinoa 'mountain' would have kʼinoatʼu 'mountains' and then nuk 'night' would have nukneh 'nights'.

But you can also use the different kinds of plurals to mark differences. For example, while *shetʼu makes no sense, the word sheneh would mean 'Men' as in a group or the idea of Men, Mankind. Something similar would happen with shu 'earth', shuneh 'the Earth as a whole' which can also be rendered shutʼash with subtle differences. The last 2 plurals, of course, can be used independently of the class of noun.

shetʼash wakkan All men are big
/ʂeˈtʰaʂ wak'kan/

Would be perfectly correct. Note the stative verb wakkan 'to be big'.

chaknet ihopneh yixnen A lot of ashes cover his feet
/tʃakˈnet iˈhopneh jiʃˈnen/

And that's the last plural marker with the meaning of 'a lot'. That's why the plurals are divided into the two groups as shown above. Note the usage of the plural verbal prefix yix- which is a plural only used for verbs. Some even include the verbal plural marker as the last kind of plural in Teutla, a heated argument among Teutla grammarians.


  1. You characterize the class as "animate," and I take it you picked that word deliberately, rather than saying, for instance "human." But then you list "cat" as an example of an "inanimate" noun. Surely cats are animate? How exactly are you defining this distinction?

    1. Certainly that's a mix up on my part. The word 'noa' "cat" is animate, while the word 'kʼinoa' "mountain" is the one that's inanimate concrete. Hence the plural 'kʼinoatʼu'. I'll correct that. Thanks!

    2. Thanks for catching that mistake.

      Also I'm actually considering revising all the material on Teutla, specially the verbs and some cases.