Tosi is a highly isolating language. It has particles that mark objectivity and topicality. The standard word order is SVO. Modifiers such as adjectives, adverbs, and genitive nouns generally precede the head nouns.
Tosi distinguishes between masculine and feminine, but only with pronouns. The feminine pronoun is also considered the more respectful pronoun (probably due to the highly female-centric culture), so on occasions (rather rare occasions, admittedy), males may be addressed or referred to using the feminine pronoun if one means to show respect to him.
|na – 1st person sg. fem.||namu – 1st person pl. fem.|
|ne – 1st person sg. masc.||nen – 1st person pl. masc.|
|da – 2nd person sg. fem.||dasu – 2nd person pl. fem.|
|dʒi – 2nd person sg. masc.||dʒin – 2nd person pl. masc.|
|vi – 3rd person sg. fem.||vitu – 3rd person pl. fem.|
|be – 3rd person sg. masc.||ben – 3rd person pl. masc.|
To show a particular attitude toward the person to or about whom one is speaking, any one of a number of honorific particles can be placed after a noun, name, or pronoun.
- fi, wa
- indication of a friendly, kind, or somewhat casual attitude
- indication of a protective attitude toward the person
- something one would use in addressing a respected but hated enemy
- literally “grandmother”, a very respectful particle used with elderly women
- used to show an attitude of romantic love and respect
- used to show intellectual admiration
- literally “mother”, used toward any woman one respects very much
- literally, “enabler”, used toward favored males or males to whom one owes gratitude
- “little daughter”, a diminutive used by older women to younger women
- “little son”, a diminutive used by women to young males, can be demeaning and belittling/disrespectful
- tuz, tuzmi
- used by a female to a male whom she desires as a mate
- older sister, used by females
- younger sister, used by females
- sister, used by males
- used when speaking to a priestess or other religious figure
N.B.: Honorific particles are different from titles and honorable prifixes (see Tosi Titles).
|Person||soːzun||ki zun||ku zun||sages zun||sazun||kozun|
|Thing||soːkek||ki kek||ku kek||sages kek||sakek||kokek|
|Reason||soːga||ga||diga||sages ga||pe sa ga||pe koːl ga|
Refer to the Impersonal Pronouns table; the query pronons are identical to relative pronouns, except the pronoun of the same person/gender/number of the antecedent of the relative clause must directly follow the relative pronoun. To clarify, if this happened in English, the first sentence below would rather appear as the second:
The woman who sings. → *The woman who she sings.
Since “she” agrees with “woman” in person/number/gender, this is the pronoun that follows “who” (the relative pronoun).
mel soːzun vi las ‘the woman who sings’
The verb system is nominative/accusative and very isolating. Tense on verbs is shown by auxiliaries that follow the main verb.
- Future – ge (from ‘know’)
- Past – viː (from ‘go’)
The present tense is the default, so no auxiliary is used.
- na matʃ viː ‘I laughed’
- vi ʒo ge ‘She will come down’
- ne koːn ‘He writes’
Aspect is also shown with auxiliaries. Over time, these aspect auxiliaries have become incorporated into the tense auxiliaries, creating one of the few fusional elements in Tosi.
The original forms of the aspect auxiliaries are as follows:
jex – progressive aspect : This indicates that the action is currently happening at the moment indicated by the tense, as a continual, ongoing process. This particle is used only with intransitive verbs.
fedu – progressive aspect : This progressive particle is used only with transitive verbs. The meaning is the same as for the above.
tetʃ – punctual aspect : This aspect describes an action that has no internal temporal structure because it occurs in a single instant.
Each aspect auxiliary combines with each tense auxiliary to create a specific fusional particle of its own.
- jex + ge = jek
- jex + viː = jiv
- fedu + ge = feg
- fedu + viː = fiv
- tetʃ + ge = teg
- tetʃ + viː = tiv
Tosi can be said to have three grammatical voices. The default is the active voice, which is unmarked. This is the usual type of verb phrase, with a subject acting either alone in an intransitive clause or upon a patient in a transitive clause.
The second voice is the passive, which only applies to transitive verbs. This indicates that what is treated as the subject is in fact the patient, and demotes the actual subject to an oblique (optional) role. The passive is indicated with the particle dur following the verb stem.
vi nox tiv vaz i ‘she beat the boy’
vi nox dur tiv ‘she was beaten’
Note that in the passive construction, it is not mentioned who beat her, only that she was beaten: the true sematic subject (the person who did the beating) is oblique, and not required to be mentioned. This downplays the importance or relevance of the subject and focuses the emphasis on the true patient.
The third voice is called the antipassive. This basically does the opposite of what a passive does; a passive downplays the true agent and puts the true patient in the subject’s place, while making the agent oblique. The antipassive removes the patient of a transitive verb, making it still semantically transitive but grammatically it is treated as an intransitive. There are two particles that together make the antipassive: nis + tu. These particles must surround the verb stem directly on either side. Logically, the antipassive can only be applied to verbs that originally transitive.
be tuz uː i ‘he eats fruit’
be nis tuz tu ‘he eats’
It is impossible to grammatically say *be tuz, since this lacks an object for a transitive verb yet does not employ the antipassive particles.
It is clear to see how transitive that have been altered by the antipassive are afterward treated like intransitives. There are two different progressive aspect particles, one for transitives and one for intransitives. With a typical transitive verb like tuz ‘eat’, one naturally uses the transitive particle.
na tuz fiv pif i ‘I was eating the pepper’
But after the antipassive is applied, the progressive particle must be for an intransitive verb:
na nis tuz tu jiv ‘I was eating’
In order to form an imperative or a hortative, an auxiliary verb is used in conjunction with the main verb. The main verb is preceded by the infinitive form of the verb tapi (also meaning ‘do, make, act’).
tapi tuz ‘eat!’
tapi fedu ʃovŋe i ‘bring the money here!’
The other marked mode than the imperative (the indicative is the default and is unmarked) is the conditional. It is used in conditional clauses, for both the subordinate and main clauses. The conditional mode particle is kaf, which is historically derived from a now obsolete adverb (meaning roughly ‘maybe’), so its position precedes the verb stem, unlike many other verbal particles.
ge mel kaf tuz na va kaf fedu dʒel i ‘if the woman were eating, I would bring beer’
Copulae – “to be”There are several types of copulae used for different grammatical situations.
Predicate nominals as well as predicate adjectives use a verb-based copula, goː
ut goː fit ‘the stick is straight’
maː na pa goː mizu ‘my mother is the empress’
wedi goː laːr ‘the thief is tall’
nis va vi pa goː setʃ ‘my younger sister is an advisor’
be goː jiv kes ‘he was worthy’
Note that goː is treated as an intransitive verb as far as tense/aspect markers go. It takes all regular tense/aspect/voice markers.
Predicate locatives use a different verb-based copula: po, which derives from the verb poːna ‘sit’. This too is treated like an intransitive verb when tense/aspect markers are applied.
mel po jo jaːs ‘the woman is in the boat’
ʃala ne pa va po saːg xel ‘my sister is away from the city’
tit po dag tema vi pa ‘the infant is at her breast’
Existial copulae are formed in yet another way. There are two veral copulae that mean ‘exist’ and ‘lack’ (or ‘not exist’) used for this.
gen dʒel ‘there is beer’
sat dʒel ‘there isn’t any beer’
gen teg dʒel ‘there will be beer’
sat teg dʒel ‘there will be no beer’
Object Case Marker
Direct objects of verbs are followed by the object particle i.
na bik teg dʒoːr i ‘I will postpone the celebration’
The topic marker is used not to show case but rather emphasis. It can be applied to any noun which is meant to be emphasized as the topic of the clause, be it object or subject, but it is never necessary. If the object case marker is used as well, it must come after the topic marker. Often whatever argument is marked with topicality comes first in the sentence.
The topic marker is va.
goɣ va i vi teri. ‘milk is what she wants’
vi va tuk ʃiŋ i. ‘she's the one who eats meat’
There are several fashions in which plural nouns are formed: some are suffixes, some are prefixes, a few are infixes, and some are ablauts.
- u → i
- a → e
There is no definite way to predict which nouns will have which plurals. But there are some loose patterns to observe; many words indicating body parts take a plural in -u, except body parts which occur in pairs, which all take du-.
- ala ‘eye’ → duala
- ʃer ‘hand’ → duʃer
- lan ‘leg’ → dulan
There is speculation that du- is the remnant of a historical dual marker.
Other plural patterns includes words for groups of things: plurals for groups of things are very often in kas-.
- ruʃ ‘battalion’ → karuʃ
- teʃ ‘family’ → kateʃ
- tef ‘collection’ → katef
Many names for animals have plurals in -aŋ.
- tuk ‘little bird’ → tukaŋ
- mos ‘dog’ → mosaŋ
Many words for people have a plural in -i.
- tos ‘person’ → tosi
- mizu ‘empress’ → mizui
- nas ‘older sister’ → nasi
(Note: If the singular form already ends in i, no change is made.)
Other than these groups, the plurals are largely unpredictable. Infixes, however, are confined to words than have more than one syllable.
Historically Tosi had noun classifiers existing as particles that were obligatory after certain classes of nouns. These were based on semantic categories, such as “tools”, “people”, “animals”, etc. Tosi no longer requires classifiers for its nouns, but there are three remnants that can be placed after a noun in order to emphasize it.
- wi – for inanimate objects
- tok – for people
- siːŋna – for animals
ku mel mari lol i tokǃ ‘that woman rejects the stupid (people)!’
na mowi mit i wi ‘I really hate mud’
The Genitive Construction
A genitive relation between two nouns is constructed by use of the particle tʃi. The head noun precedes this particle. The genitive can be used to express ownership (my sister's shoe), association (the girl's city), physical composition (a globet of gold), or definition of an abstract quality (a “day of sadness” = a sad day).
- mizu tʃi teːŋ ‘the empress's soldier’
- tit tʃi was ‘the child's friend’
- vaz tʃi vil ‘the boy's trial’
- voːl tʃi viv ‘the wall's writing’ (i.e. the writing on the wall)
- met mol tʃi fad ‘a trap of wire’
- tef tʃi tel ‘a collection of gold’
- xix tʃi zun ‘trouble of disgrace’ (i.e. a disgraceful trouble)
- ʒoːv tʃi aːme ‘garden of peace’ (i.e. peaceful garden)
Clauses can be negated by use of the negative particle sa. The particle precedes the rest of the clause.
sa na ges jex ku mel. ‘I don’t know that woman.’
To say ‘no’, either sa or the word kai can be used. kai is generally more emphatic.
Conjunctions and Disjunctions
- es – and (linking individual words)
- o – and (linking separate clauses)
- tuv – or (inclusive)
- ʒaː – or (exclusive)
- ga – because; since
- uʃ – but; although; however
Tosi has a very specific system for dealing with conjunctions and disjunctions. It has both inclusive and exclusive words for ‘or’.
- tuv X tuv Y ‘either X or Y or both’
- ʒaː X ʒaː Y ‘either X or Y but not both’
- There are also two conjunctions that translate as ‘and’.
- es is used for linking specific words to each other.
- dʒel es voʃ ‘beer and wine’
- vetu es viːk ‘pretty and cunning’
- o is used for linking two complete clauses together.
- xat xut o ut nox ‘the dagger stings and the club beats’
- ga is a relative impersonal pronoun (‘for the reason that’) and also a type of conjunction that links clauses.
- vitu naʃ ga neki dur fiv. ‘they (f.) are complaining because they were betrayed.’
- uʃ can mean ‘but; although; however; nevertheless, still’
- be ges uʃ sa veːk ‘he knows but he doesn't care’
Tosi has various grammatical particles that derive different parts of speech from others. Some make certain types of nouns from verbs, adverbs from adjectives, adjectives from nouns and verbs and so on. These particles always follow the original word.
Nominalization is the process of deriving a noun from some other part of speech.
v → nagent : mol
This is an agentive particle. The resulting noun is the agent of the original verb.
rem ‘run’ → rem mol ‘runner’
piled ‘creep along’ → piled mol ‘creeper’
v → npatient : iŋ
This is a patient particle. The resulting noun is the patient of the original verb.
reːke ‘pillage’ → reːke iŋ ‘that which is pillaged’
nox ‘knock out’ → nox iŋ ‘someone who has been knocked out’
v → nplace : na
This is a place-noun particle. The resulting noun is a place relating to the original verb.
fuʒ ‘rush of water’ → fuʒ na ‘geyser or spring’
laːm ‘mourn’ → laːm na ‘cemetery’
Just as nominalization is the process of making nouns from other speech parts, verbalization is the process of making verbs in this way. For verbalization, however, there is only one particle, which is dʒa. When this follows a word, the word becomes a verb relating to its original meaning. The exact semantic relation between the original word and the verb is not always the same, as can be seen below.
- os ‘air’ → os dʒa ‘breathe’
- neːʃ ‘arm’ → neːʃ dʒa ‘wave’
- naː ‘bird’ → naː dʒa ‘flirt’
- vet ‘box’ → vet dʒa ‘box in; stunt, limit’
- tit ‘child’ → tit dʒa ‘give birth’
- tel ‘sentry’ → tel dʒa ‘honor one’s son’
- ʃiŋ ‘meat’ → ʃiŋ dʒa ‘sit down to eat’
- am ‘admiration’ → am dʒa ‘be in bliss’
- on ‘anger’ → on dʒa ‘destroy’
- ɣis ‘arrow’ → ɣis dʒa ‘seduce’
- adjective → adverb : ni … ala ‘fast’ → ala ni ‘quickly’
- noun/verb → adjective: si
Indirect statements are formed by a verb of perceiving + infinitive construction.
vi ur be i nis tuk tu ‘she sees that he’s eating’
Broken down, the above phrase contains the following:
she see him obj. antipassive eat antipassive
vi ges be i uːz dʒiɣ i ‘she knows that he is crossing the road’
she know him obj. cross road obj.
The implied time in which the verb of the subordinate clause occurs is the same as that of the main perceiving verb. So since “sees”, “knows” are in the present, so is the action “cross”, “eat”.
In Tosi, modifiers usually precede the word they are modifying. For example, adjectives come before the nouns they modify, adverbs before whatever they modify, gentive nouns before their head noun, etc. But that is a generalization, so here are the specifics.
- Adjectives (except possessive adjectives) precede nouns.
- Adverbs precede whatever they modify.
- Genitive nouns precede head nouns.
- Subject pronouns precede the verb.
- Main clauses precede all subordinate clauses that are attached to them.
- The subject of a relative clause precedes the rest of it.
There are, as the above sections show, a lot of modifying particles that follow whatever they are modifying. These include but are not limited to:
- Possessive adjectives.
- Tense/aspect particles.
- Nominalization particles.
- Verbalization particles.
- Emphatic classifiers.
- Negative particle.
- Objectivity particle.
- Topicality particle.
- Honorific particles.
- Passive voice particle.
Note that the antipassive voice markers go before and after the verb.
Noun Phrases in Relation to Verbs
Typical word order is SVO: subject, verb, object.
siːn tiː ad i ‘the man drinks the juice’
For oblique arguments and prepositional or dative phrases, the relative importance of such phrases has to be taken into account to determine where in the sentence they appear. But for a sentence that is completely neutral in emphasis, the oblique/prepositional/dative argument follows the main verb phrase.
xer xis ʃiŋ i o mos ‘the girl gives meat to the dog’
maː be pa ɣaib po jo xel ‘his mother is in the city now’
An interrogative clause can be derived from an indicative clause by a simple series of processes.
Starting out with a sentence like this: vi fari seːt i ‘she appreciates the advise’
- Reverse the subject and verb positions: fari vi seːt i
- Add a topic marker to the subject (usually): fari vi va seːt i
- Add kaː, an interrogative particle, to the beginning of the sentence: kaː fari vi va seːt i
kaː fari vi va seːt i ‘does she appreciate the advise?’
The way yes/no questions are formed depends on what answer is expected—yes or no.
If the expected answer is no, the particle ha is placed at the end of the question.
kaː fari vi va seːt i ha? ‘she doesn’t appreciate the advise, does she?’
If the expected answer is yes, the particle sa is placed at the end of the question.
kaː fari vi va seːt i sa? ‘she appreciates the advise, doesn’t she?’
If there’s no expected answer, then neither particle is used and the question is formed normally as seen in the above section.
The interrogative pronouns and adjectives used in wh-questions are as follows:
- soː – what, which (adj.)
- soːzun – who?
- soːkek – what?
- soːna – where?
- soːbat – when?
- soːme – how?
- soːga – why?
These are placed at the beginning of the clause. The other processes for interrogative clauses still apply. Note that since soː itself is an adjective and not a pronoun, it must be applied to a noun, unlike the pronouns.
Comparatives and Superlatives of Adjectives
To create comparatives of adjectives and adverbs, there is a comparative conjunction —al— that is placed after the adjective/adverb being compared.
dilu goː loj al nesia ‘automn is more beautiful than summer’
be tuz ala ni al vi ‘he runs faster than she’
Negative superlatives can also be formed in a similar fashion, only here the conjunction is sal.
dilu goː loj sal nesia ‘automn is less beautiful than summer’
Superlatives, for both adjectives and adverbs, are functionally adverbs. Thus, they precede the adjective/adverb that they are modifying.
loj ‘beautiful’ → tʃu loj ‘most beautiful’
ala ni ‘quickly’ → di ala ni ‘least quickly’
Emphatic Reduplication of Modifiers
Reduplication is often used to create emphasis for adjectives and other modifiers.
Reduplication is partial, initial, copying direction left to right. The first C(C)V sequence is copied.
loj ‘beautiful’ → loloj ‘very beautiful’
gun ‘big’ → gugun ‘very big’