Baen Morphosyntax

Constituent Order

The word order of Baen is generally VSO—verb-subject-object. If a noun precedes the verb, there is a special emphasis on it. Nouns marked in various other cases (gentive, ablative, causal, locative, etc.) can go generally anywhere—usually after the main verb. As a rule, whatever noun comes before other nouns is considered emphasized in relation to other constituents. So when saying, ‘This happened because of that”, for example, the “because of” noun phrase is placed before the verb phrase “happened” to give it emphasis, underlining the cause.

Case markers

Baen has nine cases for nouns. The locative case is rather rare, being replaced gradually by the ablative. All cases are attached as suffixes, except the vocative, which is a circumfix.

  • -ir = genitive case marker
  • -as = accusative case marker
  • -sa = dative case marker
  • -os = ablative case marker
  • -isja = locative case marker (rare)
  • -atsa = benefactive case marker
  • -ista = causal case marker (because of)
  • -ille = partitive case marker
  • e-, -a = vocative case markers

Affixed feature adpositions

Baen uses many adpositional affixes in addition to its case markers. The case marker and the adposition are dependent on each other, and they must be compatible with each other. The case ending in parentheses beside the adposition indicates which case can be used with it. Often more than one case is possible for use with one adposition. Some cases, like the partitive, causal, and vocative cases, do not, by nature, take any adposition.

  • -i- = to, for, towards, at (-as)
  • -o- = from, about, away, out of (-os)
  • -u- = about, concerning, around (-os, -isya)
  • -kai- = through (-os)
  • -va- = near, by, next to, beside, close to (-os, -isya)
  • -a- = inside, within, in, on, (-os, -isya, sometimes -as)
  • -aia- = over, hovering above (-os, -isya)
  • -etei- = across, going over to the other side (-os)
  • -nu- = away from, leaving (-os)
  • -ro- = for, in favor of, supporting; toward (-atsa (used only as a form of emphasis), -os)
  • -nai- = anti-, discouraging; positioned far from (-os)

Adverbs

Adverbs are attached as suffixes to the verbs they relate to.

  • ji = indeed, very much, in fact, truly
  • ma = actually, in fact, contrary to seeming
  • amne = for the time of, during the time of
  • dal = while
  • ja = great, much, intense
  • moja = too much, excessive, overly
  • se = not, no, none, un-
  • amat = glad(ly), fortunate(ly)
  • an = with reluctance, hesitation
  • reθ = deceiving, contrary to what is believed; insidious; esoteric, unknown; strange
  • mot = many; superfluous
  • mui = under contradicting circumstances
  • sin = again
  • sta = unfortunate(ly), sad(ly)

Other Affixed Function Morphemes

  • -nis = indicator for a yes-or-no question for which there is no answer presumed
  • -sese = indicator for a yes-or-no question for which the expected answer is “no”
  • -sa = indicator for a yes-or-no question for which the expected answer is “yes”
  • res- = conjunction: and, also
  • nai- = conjunction: but
  • ner- = or, either
  • sener- = nor, neither

Pronouns

There are two types of pronouns, subjective and objective. Subjective pronouns are all prefixes, and objective pronouns are always suffixes. There are twenty-six pronouns in all. All verbs must contain at least one pronoun to be used in correct discourse. All nouns used (those that are non-pronouns) must have a corresponding pronoun that attaches to the verb stem and but does not carry the case markers that apply to that noun. These case endings are affixed only to the noun itself, unless it does not exist (i.e. the only object is the pronoun), in which case the pronoun naturally takes the case marker. Therefore, in the phrase sivtollijis etleas, ‘I walk toward Etle’, there exists an objective noun, so the pronominal suffix need take no case marker, which is applied instead to etle—-as, the accusative case marker which is used with the adpositional affix -i- (to., toward).

In the phrase “sivtollijisas”, “I walk to her”, there is no independent noun, so the case marker must affix to the pronominal suffix thus.

Subjective pronominal prefixes

  • siv- = I
  • suv- = you (sg.)
  • tev- = he
  • tiv- = she
  • tov- = it (inanimate)
  • tak- = they
  • gev- = you (pl.)
  • muv- = we
  • sim- = this
  • sum- = that
  • kev- = that same; such a
  • vev- = someone, one; something
  • taiv- = third person singular (animate), unspecific or indeterminate gender

Objective pronominal suffixes

  • -ji = me
  • -jen = you (sg.)
  • -jes = him
  • -jis = her
  • -jos = it (inanimate)
  • -las = them
  • -les = you (pl.)
  • -lus = us
  • -mes = this
  • -mus = that
  • -lek = that same, such a
  • -ves = someone, one; something
  • -lais = third person singular (animate), unspecific or indeterminate gender

To make any pronoun intensive, add -ur

tivurkas “she herself laughs”

Note on the third person singular animate taiv-/-lais: In translation into English, this pronoun can be translated differently depending on the context. It has a finer shade of meaning that simply “it”; it denotes an animate (often sentient) being of unknown or indeterminate gender, not an inanimate object as does tov-/-jos.

Adjectives

All regular adjectives end in either -e or -o. They are suffixed to the nouns which they modify. They succeed all case markers for their nouns.

Adverbs are created from regular adjectives by the suffix -ri.

Possessive pronouns

  • sivir = my, mine
  • suvir = your, yours (sg.)
  • tevir = his
  • tivir = her(s)
  • tovir - its
  • takir = their(s)
  • muvir = our(s)
  • gevir = your(s) (pl.)

They function as adjectives and therefore are suffixed after the noun they describe.

Irregular adjectives

These adjectives are considered irregular in that they do not end in -e or -o. Otherwise they function in the same way as all adjectives.

  • matsi = together
  • mjenji = whole, complete
  • seplass = fragmented, incomplete
  • noitsri = potent, passionate; full
  • baʃallji = incredible, unbelievably extreme
  • vlotsa = unstable, floppy, unsure
  • tsini = other
  • dala = large, great, important, powerful
  • tsi = little, diminutive, low
  • daisi = little (of)
  • daisiθ = few
  • alme = much
  • almemoja = all but very few
  • modaisi = less
  • modala = more
  • talme = most
  • tadaisi = least

Intensifiers

For all adjectives there are four intensifiers: comparatives, superlative, negative comparative, and negative superlative.

Comparative

This signifies the X in “Z is more X than Y” and is often used with the prefix an-(‘than’, ‘in comparison to’). Here the noun Y also takes the ablative (-os) when followed by a comparative.

  • gado - heavy
  • gadoni - heavier
  • jire - glittery
  • jireni - more glittery

Note that the final vowel tenses before the -ni ending, placing the stress on the penult (second to last syllable).

Superlative

  • gado - heavy
  • gadoni - heavier
  • gadoniar - heaviest
  • jire - glittery
  • jireni - more glittery
  • jireniar - most glittery

The formerly last vowel is still tensed here, but the stress falls now upon the antepenult, which is that same vowel of the adjective stem.

The noun succeeding the superlative is used in the genitive case.

Negative Comparative

In contrast to the positive comparative, there is the antithesis, the negative comparative. This signifies “least X”

-seli

gadoseli

Negative Superlative

This signifies “the least X”. It is used with a succeeding genitive.

-seliar

  • gado
  • gadoseli
  • gadoseliar

Note the tensing of the first syllable of the suffix. This puts the stress on that syllable when attached to an adjective.

Igadoseliar lasir = the least heavy of them

Nouns

Unlike adjectives, nouns have no required form outside that of normal Baen phonological constraints. Their nominative form is their “natural” or unchanged form. All nouns can take all case endings and adpositional affixes.

Nominalization

In order to create a noun from a non-noun, the morpheme -le is often suffixed to a verb or adjective stem.

tesse “lofty”

tessle “tower”

Agent nominalization

To create an agent of a verb or an agent relating to a noun or adjective, the suffix -im is used. The infinitive ending of the verb is removed and -im is attached directly after the verb stem.

kavol ‘hunt’ → kav- + -im = kavim ‘hunter’

Note that this agentive suffix is used for people who do the action of the verb consistently, habitually, or as a profession. Thus kavim indicated a person who is a hunter by profession or does it often. For someone who performs the action of a verb as a singular act on a particular occasion, there is prefix used instead as an agentive marker, pa-. The infinitive suffix is also removed before pa- is affixed.

sanir ‘sing’ → san- + pa- = pasan ‘one who is singing’

sanir ‘sing’ → san- +-im = sanim ‘a professional or habitual singer’

Place nominalization

Place nominalization is used to create a noun relating to a verb as a location where that activity takes place. There are three main suffixes for this: -uva, -int, and -sell. Each suffix has a different semantic connotation: -uva indicates an establishment that is outside the home, usually a commercial enterprise.

  • nentil ‘bake’ → nentuva ‘bakery’
  • daʃol ‘eat’ → daʃuva ‘restaurant’

-int indicates smaller locus of activity, often being even an object rather than a larger place.

  • hirɸil ‘gaze at’ → hirɸint ‘mirror’
  • sendol ‘know’ → sendint ‘brain’

-sell indicates a relatively large area, such as a planet, continent, country, forest, field, etc. This suffix is rather rarer than the other two, and is of debatable productivity.

  • blessol ‘wash’ → blessell ‘shore’
  • bilsol ‘blow’ → bilsell ‘upper atmosphere’

Denominalization

This is opposite morphological effect from nominalization. To create other parts of speech from existing nouns, the following affixes are employed:

  • noun → adjective: add a standard adjectival ending of -e or -o
  • noun → verb: This depends on the verb’s relation to the noun. There is a suffix -nas, which means “to use X”, X = noun.

There is also suffix -an “to have X” and a suffix -aix “to make like X”. These meanings aren’t always literal or consistent. For example, -nas is used with il ‘pathway’ to create the verb ilnasil ‘be wise’.

  • memissanol ‘have food; be well furnished’
  • litsianil ‘have peace’
  • luissaixir ‘dampen’
  • lumaixil ‘flatten’
  • maðaixol ‘darken’

There is also a more general verbalizer for nouns in -is. This has no specific meaning in relation to the noun stem.

The Definite Article

There is one article in Baen, the definite article. This is used in the form of the prefix i-, and always comes directly before the noun stem. There is no indefinite article. In translation from English, the sense of “indefinite article” must be expressed with a bare noun.

  • maissa ‘fox’ or ‘a fox’
  • imaissa ‘the fox’

Plurals

The Widespread Plural

The widespread plural is by far the most common morphological process for creating plurals. For words ending in consonants, add a suffix of -eθ directly to the noun stem. For words ending vowels, add a suffix of -i.

sir ‘jewel’ → sireθ ‘jewels’
virin ‘tree’ → virineθ ‘trees’
dun ‘stone’ → duneθ ‘stones’
lomu ‘god’ → lomui ‘gods’
tessle ‘tower’ → tesslei ‘towers’

There is also a regular dual plural, used for some things that in nature come in pairs. The dual plural is no longer productive.

ljev ‘leg’ → miljeve ‘legs’
del ‘foot’ → midele ‘feet’
klaɸ ‘arm’ → miklaɸe ‘arms’
nel ‘hand’ → minele ‘hands’
lamar ‘breast’ → milamare ‘breasts’

Several slightly irregular duals include:

kai ‘knee’ → mikaine ‘knees’
sistuiss ‘elbow’ → misiste ‘elbows’

The following are less common plural paradigms:

-ll → -rrum
toll ‘mountain’ → torrum ‘mountains’
vraill ‘prohibition’ → vrairrum ‘prohibitions’
ʃtusall ‘barrier’ → ʃtusarrum ‘barriers; border of a territory’
-ss → -ts
satuniss ‘female cousin’ → satunits ‘female cousins’
tamass ‘afternoon’ → tamats ‘afternoon’
wass ‘bowl’ → wats ‘bowls’
-ks → -x
laks ‘nipple’ → lax ‘nipples’
krinks ‘ring’ → krinix ‘rings’ (Note that for this word, phonological constraints prevent the expected *krinx.)
θeks ‘finger’ → θex ‘fingers’
-i → a
pleli ‘treasure’ → plela ‘treasures’
-tsi → -sli
kamlitsi ‘peace treaty’ → kamlisli ‘peace treaties’
plektsi ‘cipher’ → pleksli ‘ciphers’
-ʃu/-su → -ʃumma/-summa
nasu ‘young woman’ → nasumma ‘young women’
tsivaʃu ‘steak’ → tsivaʃumma ‘steaks’
sivrisu ‘nutrient’ → sivrisumma ‘nutrients’

There are also several totally irregular plurals with no lexical analogies.

baa ‘baa person’ → bae ‘baa people’
ɸa ‘house’ → ɸati ‘houses’
motin ‘brother’ → motinsi ‘brothers’
memal ‘mother’ → memala ‘mothers’
tano ‘father’ → tana ‘fathers’
siriss ‘sister’ → sirissi ‘sisters’
hirɸ ‘eye’ → kirɸa ‘eye’

Interrogatives pronouns

Interrogative pronouns function the same way as reflective pronouns in relation to verbs. The question that they ask can be intensified by the prefix tai-.

  • kaiɸlas? = what?
  • kaiɸetan? = where? what place?
  • kaiɸde? = when? what time?
  • kaiɸsim? = who?
  • kaiɸreθ? = how?
  • kaiɸro? = how much?
  • kaiɸen? = why?
  • taikaiɸen? ‘why oh why!?’

Verbs

There are three forms of verbs, those in -il, -ol, and -ir. These are the infinitive endings, which are displaced to form the verb stem, to which all other verbal affixes are attached.

Irregular verbs

  • noxi = to go
  • durri = to be powerful of mind or spirit; to have stamina
  • lanai = to live, endure, exist; to thrive

For these irregular verbs, the -i suffix functions as the infinitive ending. Displace this to get the present stem.

To make the perfected infinitive, add -er to all infinitive forms.

  • siriler ‘to have grown’
  • hissiler ‘to have listened’
  • lanaier ‘to have endured’

Mode

Subjunctive

There are three modes in Baen. The indicative is the default mode. It expresses anything that is definite or real. It is the equivalent of a realis mode. The second mood, the subjunctive, is the irrealis. It expresses activities that might be, should be, would be if, that one wishes were or were not, etc. It is created by the affix -kwine-, which is attached directly after the tense marker.

There are many uses for the subjunctive.

  • Possibility: “You may leave” as opposed to “You will leave”
  • Jussive order: “Let us leave”
  • Properness or urgency of action: “You ought to leave”, “You must leave”

The subjunctive is also used in constructions that express the possibly or intended result of another action. “Bring her over here so that I can see her”. The conjugation kita is used in the capacity of “so that” in the above sentence. The clause after kita is in the subjunctive mode.

Imperative

The imperative is the mode used to give orders or suggestions to the second person. To form the imperative, the verb stem is prefixed with ta-.

  • daʃol ‘eat’ → daʃ- + ta- = tadaʃ! ‘eat!’
  • noxi ‘go’ → nox- + ta- = tanox! ‘go!’

To create a negative imperative (“Do not X”), the imperative prefix morphs to itsa-.

  • itsadaʃǃ ‘don't eat!’
  • istanox! ‘don't go!’

Voice

There are three voices in Baen: active (the default), passive, and middle.

The passive voice affix is an infix, inserting between the two phonemes of the tense affix. When used in the present, it is attached directly to the present stem.

  • Sivkemaijar “I was kissed”
  • Tovkavija ‘It is hunted’
  • Tivdineijal “She will be killed”

The middle voice functions almost always reflexively. Tovglusstoi inenta, the bread cooked itself. There is no actual reflexive pronoun here (which does not, in fact, exist in Baen); the voice alone indicates this sense. The affix -toi- is also an infix, functioning in the same way as the passive voice in regards to inserting between phonemes of a tense morpheme. These two voice infixes are the only instances in Baen in which a morpheme is split.

  • Sivblessetoil ‘I will wash myself’

Sometimes this voice must be translated idiomatically and non-literally:

  • Tevmlissatoiʃ ‘He spun himself’ i.e. ‘He spun around’

Tense

Baen has five tenses: present, recent future, remote future, recent past, and remote past. These affixes remain the same through the various moods, voices, and aspects.

Present

Present tense refers to any activity taking place in the present, whether habitual or immediate.

Present tense is created by simply removing the infinitive suffix.
  • mirril → mirr-

Also, to this the one stem all other verb-related affixes are attached, including other tense markers.

Recent past

This tense is formed by removal of the infinitive ending and the addition of -ar to the verb stem as a suffix. The recent past describes an action that took place in the past, but “recent” is only relative is relation to the remote past, or as understood by the speakers. Thus there is no one way to translate this in English.

  • Sivnellarjissa isirviros ‘I [just] gave her the green jewel’
  • Tevsanarujos mirras ‘He [just] sang about springtime’
  • Sivsamarajos itessleas ‘I [just] was crying/cried in the tower’

Remote Past

This tense indicates some action that occurred in the past, but farther so in relation to the time indicated by the recent past. This can be translated fairly accurately into the pluperfect tense of English, or as a simple past.

This is created by the affix -aʃ.
Sivtollijos inussas. ‘I had walked to the river’ or implying ‘I walked to the river a long time ago’

Recent Future

Take off the infinitive ending and add -el to the verb to create recent future tense. The relation between the recent and remote futures is comparable to that between the recent and remote pasts.

  • Tivlekkeljos oikluʃos ‘I am going to steal it from the cave’

Remote Future

This tense indicates actions in the comparatively far future, in relation to the recent future. This is also often used with the subjunctive to talk about events that may or may not happen in the far future. -uɸ is the suffix for the remote future.

  • sivsteʃuɸkwineijos iljarisjabake ‘I might travel there next year’

Aspects

  • In Baen there are five verbal aspects. These are accidental, conative, imperfect, inceptive, and aorist. These aspects give a finer shade of meaning to the verb. They are added to the verb stem as affixes, directly after the tense marker.
  • Accidental aspect
    denotes an action that was performed without the agent’s intention. The affix for the accidental aspect is -utui-.
  • Conative aspect
    denotes an action that the agent attempted to perform. The affix for this aspect is -aila-.
  • Inceptive aspect
    signifies an action that the agent has just begun performing. The affix used for this is -gul-.
  • Aorist aspect
    emphasizes the punctual action of a verb. ‘She coughed’ vs. ‘She was coughing’; ‘It burst’, ‘They died’, ‘He stomped’, ‘I clapped’ This aspect is often used with the past tenses. The suffix is -iv.
  • Imperfect aspect
    indicates an action that is/was/will be happening but emphasizes the continuous process, rather than the action as a single unit. It can also refer to simultaneous activities, or ongoing states. The suffix for the imperfect aspect is -o-.

All of these affixes directly succeed the tense marker if there is one. If not, they succeed the present tense verb stem.

  • Sivlongul ‘I am beginning to speak’ (inceptive)
  • tivheɸenaraila ‘She tried to speak’ (conative)
  • tivheɸenaro ‘She was speaking’
  • tivheɸenariv ‘She spoke’
  • muvsavarutuijos ‘We accidentally came upon it’ (accidental)

Negation

There are various types of negation: syntactic negation of conjugated verbs, morphological negation of nouns, negative imperatives, negation of adjectives, and negative comparative/superlatives.

Negative comparative/superlatives are explained above, as are negative imperatives in the imperative < mode section.

For negation of normal clauses, the affix -se- is attached to the main verb, in the morphological slot where adverbs are placed.

  • Sivtollelivse ‘I will not walk’
  • Muvblessarivselas ineleθas ‘We didn’t wash our hands’

For morphological negation of nouns and adjectives, -se- is sometimes used, but also there are specific negatives in gai-, pra- (both adjectival), and ɸlin- (nominal). Semantically, the former two differ in that pra- is a rather “light” negative. Below tulle means beautiful in the sense of ‘rare, unique, astonishing’. pratulle does not mean ugly or hideous, as it were, but rather it means more like ‘not very visually interesting’.

  • tulle ‘beautiful’
  • pratulle ‘plain, uninteresting, generic’

A more emphatic adjectival negative is gai-:

  • meno ‘worthy, true, loyal’
  • gaimeno ‘craven, cowardly, unfaithful’

As for ɸlin-, this applies only to nouns, and is somewhat less common than the adjectival negatives. It may in fact not be entirely correct to call it a negative at all—its function means something like ‘antithesis of X’, X being the noun.

  • laʃiss ‘pain’
  • ɸlinlaʃiss ‘relief, solace’

  • neliss ‘tranquility’
  • ɸlinneliss ‘chaos, tumult’

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are post-nominal, meaning they follow the head of the clause.

Relativizers

Relativizers in Baen also function in the capacity of relative pronouns. They are a thing apart from other pronouns in that they are not attached to the verb stem, as are all other pronouns. Instead, the head of the relative clause is taken as the “required” pronominal affix of the verb stem. Therefore the sentence, “The woman who saw him spoke” would be translated in Baen as, tivhirɸarjosas desim tivlonar (literally, ‘she spoke, she who saw him’). Reflective pronouns take all case markers and adpositional affixes like normal nouns.

  • delas = which thing, what
  • desetan = at which place, where
  • desde = at which time, when
  • desim = what person, who
  • dereθ = in what way, how
  • desro = to what extent, how (much)
  • desen = for what reason/intent, why
  • satuniss desim tivsiðlas sireθas ‘my cousin who loves jewels’
  • inuss delas tovlusso ‘the river that is melting’
  • imaissa desim taivlekkarivjos inentaas ‘the fox who stole the bread’ (Note that all animates including animals take desim, not delas.)
  • sivsendjos desroas tivvrak ‘I know how angry she is’
  • Literally, ‘I know it, to what extent she is angry’

Relative pronouns take the same case markers as all nouns, under the same conditions.

Chain Clauses

Chain clauses are used to express several events encompassed by what are technically different clauses, all happening in a sequence in time. In English this sort of thing is expressed, for example, like this: “He slammed the door, storming out.” The two events, the slamming and the storming, occur in close sequence with each other.

In Baen, chain clauses are basically two juxtaposed clauses.

tivdaʃaʃivjos ilemeleas tivgavoraʃiv ‘She ate the dessert and vomited’

Affix Order

Baen is an agglutinating language, so it involves a lot of suffixes, infixes, and prefixes, especially where verbs are concerned. The order of these affixes is very exact and not flexible.

Below is the order for both obligatory and facultative verbal affixes.

						 *(voice)
							 |
				subj-STEM-(tense)-(mode)-(aspect)-(adverb)-(adpo)-(obj)-(case)
				
				Key: subj = subject
					 adpo = adposition
					  obj = object
				

Parentheses mean that an affix is facultative.

*Voice behaves rather differently, in that it infixes between the two phonemes of the tense marker. Also note that case is obligatory if there is an objective affix.

Below is the order for nominal and adjectival affixes.

				(def art.)-noun-(case)-(adj)
				
				Key: def art = definite article
						 adj = adjective