A mini-grammar of mrchi

This is a basic mrchi grammar, cobbled together from the mini-grammars that were sent out with various Conlang Relay entries, plus additional information.

Grammar notes

The grammar defaults to English-like unless otherwise specified (especially tricky bits like conjunctions and the relations between clauses). The major differences are that mrchi features postpositional phrases (just like prepositional only backwards), and that adjectives (and all other modifiers except the article) follow the noun. Adjectives do not agree in case, number or postpositions with the noun. Word order is SOV in declarative sentences, VSO in conditional sentences.

While mrchi has a definite article, , plural n, it is used less frequently than in English. Its use is primarily to add especial emphasis to the definiteness, even definitiveness, of the noun.

The true case suffixes are the accusative (-c or -ic) and the possessive (-g), of which -c and -g are traditionally written preceded by an apostrophe. The possessive usually attaches only to pronouns, names and nouns denoting persons; otherwise the genitive postposition -n will be used. There is one preposition, kep-, which denotes "to" in the dative sense (i.e. as in "say to" or "give to" rather than "go to"). The locative postposition -di can mean any of: at (a place), to (a place), at (a time), or to (a time). See the wordlist for more postpositions (if you sort by category or by part of speech, the postpositions can be found under "Adpositions" or "Adp.").

There are two plural forms in mrchi: the normal plural and the collective plural. Some nouns additionally have an irregular plural, usually archaic. The ordinary plural is -t or -et; the collective plural, denoting all X or a complete set of X, is -n or n.

All interrogative pronouns also act as relative pronouns, including hr ("why") used as "for which reason", which does not work in English. Interrogative pronouns and their correlatives can be found under "Wh-words" in the wordlist sorted by category.

Another way of forming relative clauses is the relative pronoun "na". If it is the subject of the subclause, it becomes a prefix to the verb; otherwise it stands alone and can take case suffixes and postpositions.

Examples:

	na-rishidp'r 		she who teaches
	na-clvp'da		you who come
	ng			whose
	n'c			whom
	n'cash			on which, on whom
	kepn			to whom
	nhart			concerning which

Subordinate clauses are headed by "ke": "I know that you understand" would be "trenp'a, ke smp'da".

Verbs take an optional negative prefix, an optional tense or mood prefix, optional derivational prefixes and suffixes (such as the causative, passive, inceptive, abilitative, and equative), a mandatory aspect suffix, and a mandatory pronoun/agreement suffix. The tense prefix and pronoun/ agreement suffix are traditionally offset from the verb proper by an apostrophe, as is the negative prefix when it appears. If no tense or mood prefix appears, the verb is in present tense.

Example:

	ka'ki'tnidp'a
        ka- ki- tnid   -p  -a
        NEG FT  remember IMP 1P.SG
        "I will not remember"

Perfective aspect is used for simple past actions; imperfective is used in the past tense to show that someone habitually used to do something, or was doing it for some time; the present tense usually uses the imperfective.

The optative mood, in addition to an optional prefix "yt'-", is marked with the infix "-hl-", which follows the stressed vowel.

Tense prefixes:

	ki-, k-		future
	t-, t-		past

Mood prefixes:

	yt'- -hl-	optative ("may")
	l-, l-		subjunctive ("if")
	d-, d-		obligatory ("should")

Aspect suffixes:

	-p, -ip, -n	imperfective
	-v, -		perfective

Pronouns can appear as verb suffixes, in which case they agree with or are the subject of the verb, or they can appear elsewhere as independent words with a case or postpositional suffix. If the sentence appears to have no subject, the subject is the pronoun on the verb. Otherwise, the subject will be the noun without a case suffix or postposition, and will agree with the pronoun on the verb.

Pronouns:

	Suffixes:		Standalone:		Translation:

	'a						I
	'fa			f			we
	'da			d			you (sing.)
	'f			v			you (plur.)
	'			n			he
	'r			nr			she
	'n			n			it
	't			t			they

Derivational affixes are used heavily in verb formation. Affixes are accretive; they build upon those already attached to the word. Examples using the abilitative suffix -sa, the inceptive prefix la-, the attemptive suffix -h, and the passive suffix -f:

	Verb:			Translation:			As in:

	hla			to do				I do it
	hlasa			to be able to do		I can do it
	halaf			to be done			It is done
	halah			to try to do			I try to do it
	halafsa		to be able to be done		It can be done
	lahla			to begin to do			I start to do it

Some suffixes move the stress in a word (the causative and passive suffixes steal the stress, for example; the passive participle -fi also moves the stress, but to the previous syllable), which causes different vowels to become accented.

The equative suffix -s creates a verb meaning "to be X", where X is the root to which it is affixed and is either a noun or adjective:

	chi				hot
	chis				to be hot
	lahchis			to become hot
	echid				to keep hot
	lahechid			to make hot

	plit				a ball
	plits				to be a ball
	laplits			to become a ball
	lapalitsd			to make into a ball

The equative suffix can be omitted between an adjective and a causative suffix, as illustrated above with echid and lahechid.

mrchi has a passive participle formed with the suffix -fi, and an active participle formed with the suffix -pi. Both suffixes steal the stress from the verb:

	gri				to mix or combine
	grpi				mixing (adj.)
	grpia				the act of mixing
	grfi				mixed (adj.)
	grfia				a mixture

And there is a gerund form, which sometimes acts as a participle as well, consisting of a circumfix (a prefix p- or p-, plus a suffix -m or -im):

	anl				to sing
	p'anlm			singing
	shr				to grow
	pshrim			growing

Back to conlangs page

Last updated: 3/4/2006