Josh Regev

Fllovuwwuz Grammar

  1. Introduction
    1. Overview
    2. Abbreviations
    3. Setting
    4. Dialects
  2. Phonology
    1. Phonemes
      1. Consonants
      2. Vowels
    2. Constraints
      1. Syllable Structure
      2. Consonant Clusters
      3. Vowel Harmony
      4. Other Constraints
    3. Processes
      1. Dissimilation
      2. Hiatus Resolution
      3. Sandhi
      4. Front Reduplication
      5. End Reduplication
      6. Vowel Inversion
      7. Loanword Adaptation
    4. Stress
    5. Intonation
    6. Orthography
  3. General Morphology
    1. Word Classes
      1. Nouns, Adjectives, Verbs
    2. Derivation
      1. Suffixation
      2. Compounding
      3. Vowel Inversion
    3. Inflection
      1. Nonassertive Modality
    4. Various Items
      1. Demonstratives
      2. Numbers
  4. Noun Phrases
    1. Nouns
      1. Number
      2. Person
      3. Mood
      4. Tense
      5. Construct State
    2. Adjectives
      1. Agreement
    3. Particles: pe, ge
    4. Phrase Structure
    5. Coordination
    6. Relational Clitics
  5. Postpositional Phrases
    1. Postpositions
      1. Agreement
      2. List of Postpositions
    2. Phrase Structure
      1. Linking Postpositions
    3. Coordination
  6. Verb Phrases
    1. Verbs
      1. Subject Agreement
      2. Passive Voice
      3. Circumstantial Voice
      4. Subjunctive Mood
      5. Imperative Mood
      6. Tense
      7. Object Affixes
      8. Conjunctive Form
      9. Suffix Combinations
      10. Infinitives
    2. Arguments
    3. le Phrases
    4. Echo Verb Phrases
    5. The Reduplicative Clitic
    6. Phrase Structure
    7. Coordination
      1. Conjunction
      2. Serialization
  7. Sentences
    1. Basic Clause Structure
    2. Voice and Topicalization
      1. Active Voice
      2. Passive Voice
      3. Circumstantial Voice
    3. Focus
    4. Subordinate Clauses
      1. Relative Clauses
      2. Subjunctive Clauses
      3. Conjunctive Clauses
    5. Coordination
      1. List of Conjunctions
  8. Various Constructions
    1. Causation
    2. Questions and Answers
      1. Yes-No Questions
      2. Content Questions
    3. Possession
    4. Conditionals
    5. Comparison
    6. Speech



Fllovuwwuz is a constructed language that I began creating around 1998. It is not directly based on any other language, but has had some influences from Hebrew, Hungarian, Malagasy, Persian, Yimas, and Algonquian and Polynesian languages in general.

Some of its features are:

  • Vowel harmony
  • Almost all roots can be used freely as nouns, verbs, or adjectives
  • Agglutinative morphology, mostly suffixing with limited prefixing and infixing
  • Nonassertive modality, used for both negation and questions
  • Five person distinctions (including obviative, sub-obviative)
  • Constuct state used on nouns with attributive adjective
  • Tense and subjunctive marking on nouns as well as verbs
  • Basic subject-object-verb order, with most other elements following the verb
  • Postpositions, with person and number agreement
  • Complex system of attributive and predicative possession
  • Serial verbs, indicated either by cliticizing one verb to another, or using the conjunctive affix
  • Active, passive, and circumstantial voices


The following symbols and abbreviations are used throughout this grammar:

  • - Morpheme boundary
  • = Clitic boundary
  • . Boundary between multiple elements that correspond to one
  • X1, X2 Separate parts of a single morpheme
  • #, 1-6 Person-marking prefix or suffix
  • * Ungrammatical form
  • Cir Circumstantial voice suffix
  • Cnj Conjunctive suffix
  • Cns Construct suffix
  • DO Direct object-marking suffix or enclitic
  • DDO Demoted direct object-indicating postposition
  • F Future tense suffix
  • Id Identity-marking enclitic
  • Im Imperative suffix
  • IO Indirect object-marking suffix or enclitic
  • L Interfix linking two person/number suffixes
  • N Nonassertive prefix or infix
  • P Plural suffix
  • PN Proper noun-indicating particle
  • Pos Possessive postposition
  • Pr Present tense suffix
  • Pst Past tense suffix
  • Psv Passive voice suffix
  • R Reduplication
  • S Subject-marking enclitic
  • Sub Subjunctive suffix




The phonology of Fllovuwwuz is relatively simple. Its phonemic inventory, while somewhat atypical in its composition, is of average size, with little allophony. Permissible syllable structures and consonant clusters are also not exceptional.

There is strict vowel harmony: a word can contain only front or back vowels, and every affix containing a vowel has at least two variants. There are established vowel correspondences used in such affixes, as well as in a form of derivation where all the vowels in a word are "inverted."

There are two types of reduplication: one prefixing, partial, and of the first syllable; the other suffixing, and of the last two syllables. Other processes include consonantal dissimilation and sandhi, though these are quite minimal. Stress is simple, predictable, fixed, and non-contrastive.

Unless otherwise noted, throughout this document, the term "word" is not meant to cover multiple elements that are cliticized to one another; each is considered a word on its own for most purposes.

To indicate the sounds of the language, I use symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet.



Fllovuwwuz has twenty-six consonant phonemes, spread somewhat unevenly over eight places of articulation and three phonation types (voiceless, modal voice, and creaky voice).

The set of oral stops is unusual in that its only voiced member is velar /g/. The other, voiceless stops are: bilabial /p/; alveolar /t/; and velar /k/.

There are four nasal stops: bilabial /m/ and alveolar /n/, with modal (normal) voice; and their counterparts /m̰ / and /n̰ /, which have creaky voice and are pronounced with 1.5–2 times the duration of their modal counterparts. /n/ assimilates in its place of articulation when followed by a postalveolar or retroflex, but not before velars, where it remains alveolar.

The set of fricatives includes: labiodental /f/ and /v/; alveolar /s/ and /z/; lateral alveolar /ɬ/ and /ɮ/; postalveolar /ʃ/ and /ʒ/; retroflex /ʂ/ and /ʐ/, pronounced with 1.5–2 times the duration of /ʒ/; velar /x/; and glottal /h/. /h/ is pronounced [h] (unvoiced) before consonants, but [ɦ] (voiced) between two vowels.

Liquids include: the alveolar tap /ɾ/; and the alveolar lateral approximant /l/, which for many speakers is pronounced as a palatal [ʎ] in word-final position. The combination /nl/ is sometimes pronounced as single sound, a nasal alveolar lateral approximant /l ̃/, with a duration about twice that of /l/. This merged pronunciation is in free variation with the sequential one, so should probably not be considered an additional phoneme.

There are three semivowels: labiovelar /w/ and its creaky-voiced counterpart /w̰/, both articulated with compressed lips; and palatal /j/.

The consonants of Fllovuwwuz are summarized in the table below.

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p t k g
Nasal m m̰ n n̰
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ x h
Lateral Fricative ɬ ɮ
Approximant w w̰ j (w w̰)
Lateral Approximant l l̰
Tap ɾ


Fllovuwwuz has five vowel phonemes, all lax: near-close near-front /ɪ/, near-close near-back rounded /ʊ/, open-mid front /ɛ/, open-mid back /ʌ/, and near-open central /ɐ/. Their qualities do not vary significantly, except for /ʊ/, which is centralized to near-close central [ʊ̵] when the previous syllable contains /ɐ/. The vowels are summarized in the table below.

Front Central Back
High ɪ ʊ
Mid ɛ ʌ
Low ɐ

/ɐ/ is pronounced as a central vowel, but for purposes of vowel harmony it is grouped with the back vowels.

There are no diphthongs. Where there are sequences of a glide /w j/ and a vowel, these are analyzable as CV or VC sequences.


This section describes the way phonemes can and cannot be combined to produce words. There are three types of restrictions: syllable structure, consonant clusters, and vowel harmony.

Syllable Structure

Each syllable contains a vowel as its nucleus. Before the vowel there may be between zero and three consonants; and after the vowel there may be between zero and two consonants. Syllable structure may be symbolized as follows, with optional elements in parentheses:


Consonant Clusters

Clusters of two consonants are common, but there are restrictions on which consonants can occur together.

Stops: Clusters of two stops are not allowed. Stops can be followed by fricatives of the same voicing (i.e., both voiced, or both voiceless), except for /h/, with the exception of */kx/. They can be followed by any nasal, liquid, or glide, with the following exceptions: */pm pm̰ tn/.

Fricatives: Fricatives other than /h/ can be followed by any stop with the same voicing, with the exception of */fp/. Fricatives other than /ɬ ɮ h/ can be followed by a fricative of the same voicing, as long as they are not both coronal (i.e., alveolar, postalveolar, or retroflex), with the exception: */xh/. All fricatives can be followed by any nasal, liquid, or glide, with the exceptions */ɬɾ ɮɾ ʃl ʃɾ/.

Nasals /m n/ can be followed by any consonant, with the exception: */mf/. /m̰ n̰/ cannot be followed by any consonant.

Liquids /ɾ l/ can be followed by any consonant other than /h/, with the exceptions: */ɾɬ ɾɮ ɾl/.

Glides: /w/ can be followed by any fricative other than /h/, any nasal, or /l/. /j/ cannot be followed by any consonant.

These rules are summarized in the table below. The asterisk inidcates combinations that are not allowed.

/p t k g/
/f v s z ɬ ɮ ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ x h/
/m m̰ n n̰/
/ɾ l/
/w j/
Stops * stop + fricative (*/h/) (same vc.)
*/pf kx/
stop + nasal
*/pm pm̰ tn tn̰/
stop + liquid stop + glide
Fricatives fricative (*/h/) + same vc. stop
fricative (*/ɬ ɮ h/) + fricative (same vc., diff. place)
fricative + nasal fricative + liquid
*/ɬɾ ɮɾ/
fricative + glide
(*/m̰ n̰/)
nasal + stop nasal + fricative
nasal + nasal nasal + liquid nasal + glide
Liquids liquid + stop liquid + fricative (*/h/)
*/ɾɬ ɾɮ/
liquid + nasal liquid + liquid
liquid + glide
Glides (*/j/) * glide + fricative (*/f v h/) glide + nasal glide + liquid (*/ɾ/) *

Additionally, the following triple-consonant clusters occur: /mkɾ msw ntɾ nts ɾsk skj stɾ sts tst wɬl/.

In word-initial position, only the following consonant clusters can occur:

stop + liquid/glide
voiceless stop + fricative
/s ʃ/ + stop (same voicing)
/s ʃ/ + nasal
/f s ʃ ɬ/ + liquid/glide
/h/ + nasal/liquid/glide
/m/ + /ʃ x/
nasal + liquid/glide
/sts/ and /tst/

Final clusters occur only in inflected words, and are limited to: /mp nt nf ns nʃ nx ft sk ʃk xt wx lx/.

Vowel Harmony

Every word in Fllovuwwuz has either only front vowels /ɪ ɛ/, or only back vowels /ʊ ʌ ɐ/. Specifically, there are four ways in which vowel harmony manifests itself:

  1. Every root has only vowels of one type.
  2. Every affix that has a vowel, whether derivational or inflectional, has at least two variants, one with front vowels and one with back vowels, so that it may match the vowels of any stem it attaches to.
  3. In the derivational process known as vowel inversion, all the vowels in a word are changed from front to back, or from back to front.
  4. Borrowed words (with the exception of some proper nouns) are adjusted to be harmonic.

For purposes of (2-4) above, there are several correspondences between front and back vowels. For example, there is a correspondence between /ɛ/ and /ʌ/. A suffix employing this correspondence will appear with /ɛ/ in front-vowel words and /ʌ/ in back-vowel words; additionally, either of these vowels will be exchanged for the other when the vowels of a word are inverted in a derivational process, or harmonized in a loanword.

There are four such correspondence sets, shown in the table below. Since they overlap, which of the four a given suffix will use is not always predictable. I use a capital letter to represent each one when listing affixes. For example, the plural affix has the underlying form of -Ok, and can occur as -ek or -ok.

Abstract Representation Back Vowel Front Vowel
A /ɐ/ /ɪ/
O /ʌ/ /ɛ/
U /ʊ/ /ɪ/
V /ʌ/, /ɐ/ /ɛ/

The last set, V, is between not two, but three vowels: it is realized in front-vowel words as /ɛ/, and in back-vowel words as /ɐ/ if the preceding vowel is also /ɐ/, or as /ʌ/ if the preceding vowel is /ʌ/ or /ʊ/. This correspondence is employed only in a small number of affixes, which were historically O but have gained an additional degree of assimilation with their frequent usage. This set is not productive, and is not ordinarily used in vowel inversion or loanword adaptation.

However, the possibility of /ɪ/ corresponding to either /ɐ/ or /ʊ/ does present a problem for those two processes. More often, /ɪ/ is treated as an instance of A, and changed to /ɐ/ when necessary. But in many cases it does become /ʊ/. There is no clear pattern here.

Other Constraints

/ɾ/ may not occur twice in one syllable, or in adjacent syllables. When this occurs in an underlying form, it is resolved as described in §2.3.1.

Although a vowel may occur at the beginning of a word with no consonant before it, word-medial syllables must have a consonantal onset. That is, two vowels may not occur in a row. When they do occur this way in an underlying form, /h/ is inserted between them (see §2.3.2).


Every root in Fllovuwwuz is already well-formed according to the constraints laid out in the previous section. However, derivation and inflection sometimes produce forms that are not acceptable. This section describes the processes used to "repair" the results before they are spoken (or written). Additionally, these processes are used when adapting loanwords to Fllovuwwuz’ phonology, and vowel inversion and reduplication are used as methods of derivation and inflection in and of themselves.


Where /ɾ/ occurs twice in one syllable, or in two adjacent syllables, the second one becomes /l/. If this /l/ happens to be adjacent to /s/, it will usually be subject to sandhi.

Hiatus Resolution

When two vowels occur adjacently within a word, /h/ is inserted between them.


Usually, sequences of sl /sl/ become ll /ɬ/ and sequences of zl /zl/ become lh /ɮ/. However, these sequences have been retained in some more recent loanwords.

Sequences of jz /ʒz/ and zj /zʒ/ always become jj /ʐ/.

Front Reduplication

In this form of reduplication, the first consonant and first vowel (whatever order they appear in) of the word are copied and prefixed to the beginning of the word, as in kamokakamo.

Even if the word begins with a consonant cluster, only the first consonant is copied: gwagagwa

If the word begins in a vowel, that and the following consonant are copied: aguagagu. Here too, if there is a consonant cluster, only the first consonant is copied: alpualalpu.

Stems that consist solely of a vowel, such as e or y, cannot be reduplicated. It should be noted that inflectional affixes cannot serve as part of the reduplication source (e.g., e-s good-3 ‘he is good’ cannot be reduplicated as eses, even though the s of the suffix would provide the consonant necessary for reduplication). Reduplication can be said to occur before inflectional affixes are added.

In some words, after the reduplication is made, the original first syllable loses its vowel, or that vowel and the following consonant metathesize (switch places): kasatakaksata; kemtykekmety. A newly resulting consonant cluster is subject to any phonotactic restrictions and repair processes that may apply: zalaro → *zazlarozalharo; jozo → *jojzojojjo.

End Reduplication

In this form of reduplication, part of the end of a word is copied and then suffixed to the word. In a word of one or two syllables, only the final syllable is copied: zezeze; shiveshiveve. There are some irregular two-syllable words where both syllables are copied: moshamoshamosha.

In words of three or more syllables, the final two syllables are copied: majovomajovojovo. Similarly to front reduplication, in many words the first reduplicated vowel is then deleted (with repair processes then acting where applicable): sarumawasarumawamwa; latoloso → *latolosolsolatolosollo.

Vowel Inversion

In this process, all the vowels in a word are changed, either from front to back, or from back to front. Corresponding front and back vowels can be seen in the chart in §2.2.3 (only the first three rows are relevant here—the correspondence V is not productive). For example, the word jity ‘do right away’ was derived by "inverting" the vowels of juta ‘delay.’

There is no one-to-one correspondence for the sound /ɪ/, and it is not fully predictable whether it will become /ɐ/ or /ʊ/ in any given derivation. More often, /ɪ/ will be changed to /ɐ/, but in many cases it does become /ʊ/.

Loanword Adaptation


All polysyllabic words are stressed on the first syllable. In long words, there may be an additional light stress on the final syllable.


Pitch generally falls towards the end of a declarative sentences. Wh-question words are usually said at a lower pitch than the rest of the of the sentence. Other words with nonassertive inflection, when used to indicate a question, are normally pronounced at a higher pitch, with the rest of the sentence said at a level tone slightly lower than that, but higher than in a declarative sentence.


Fllovuwwuz has its own writing system, hopefully to be described at a future date, but on this website it is written using Roman letters. Only lower-case letters are used. The romanization has some quirks, but it is relatively simple and never ambiguous. The chart below shows what letter or letters are used to represent each phoneme.

Phoneme Orthography
p p
t t
k k
g g
m m
m̰   mm
n n
n̰   nn
f f
v v
s s
z z
ʃ sh
ʒ j
ʂ ss
ʐ jj
x hh, h
h h
ɬ ll, hl
ɮ lh
w w
j i, y
l l
ɾ r
Phoneme Orthography
ɪ i, y
ʊ u
ɛ e
ʌ o
ɐ a

Those aspects of the orthography that are not straightforward are discussed below.

Representation of the laterals

Laterals are usually represented as follows: l /l/, ll /ɬ/, lh /ɮ/. (The sequence */lh/ does not occur.)

However, in clusters of two laterals, /ɬ/ is written hl: lhl /lɬ/, hll /ɬl/. In any other context, hl represents the sequence /hl/. /ɮ/ does not occur in clusters.

Representation of /x/

The sound /h/ is always written h, but the letter h is also used to represent /x/ in several positions where /h/ does not occur, namely: before unvoiced stops p t k (with the exception of initial hp /hp/, which occurs in only one word), after w and r, and word-finally. Elsewhere, /x/ is written hh.

Representation of /ɪ/ and /j/

The letters i and y are both used to represent /ɪ/ and /j/, but in such a way that it is always clear which phoneme is intended. The rule for spelling is that y is written in any of the instances listed below, while i is written elsewhere:

  1. /ɪ/ when word-final* (/j/ does not occur in this position)
  2. /ɪ/ when adjacent to /j/
  3. Either /ɪ/ or /j/ when it is the last of multiple occurrences of /ɪ/ or /j/ in a word*

*Here, a "word" includes any cliticized elements.

To determine pronunciation from spelling, one need only remember that /j/ cannot occur in the coda of a syllable, and /ɪ/ cannot occur directly before another vowel. Therefore, before a consonant or word-finally, either letter must represent /ɪ/; before a vowel either must represent /j/; and in any sequence of these letters, i represents /j/ and y represents /ɪ/.

General Morphology

Word Classes

The word classes present in Fllovuwwuz are: nouns, verbs, adjectives, postpositions, interjections, conjunctions, and particles.

Nouns, verbs, and adjectives in Fllovuwwuz share the same set of roots; any of these roots can be used in any of these classes with a predictable meaning and no change in form. However, it is still useful to consider these classes distinct, as each one displays its own morphological and syntactic behaviors.

In this chapter, I will describe only those morphological phenomena that apply to multiple classes; processes pertaining to individual classes will be discussed later in the appropriate sections.


This section describes the ways in which words with new meanings and/or parts of speech are created, or derived, from other words. The first two, suffixation, and compounding, are common across many languages, while the third, vowel inversion, is not.


There are a number of suffixes which can be added to a word to change the meaning.

Below is a complete chart of derivational suffixes. The asterisks indicate how productive they are, i.e., to what degree they are commonly used to construct new words; and also to what degree the meaning is predictable.

* Rarely used any longer to create new words. Where it ooccurs, the meaning of the derived word is not always obvious.
** Used to derive new words, though less casually then *** affixes. The meaning is generally predictable, with some exceptions.
*** Can be always used on the fly to create a new word with a completely predictable meaning.

All of these suffixes occur in a front- and a back-voweled form, and those with r may be subject to dissimilation as described in §2.3.1.

Affix Productivity Meaning, Notes Example
Base Result
-aman, -emin * body part, instrument, section fuhh ‘air’ fuhhaman ‘lungs’
-ApAsh ** time, occurence shewwes ‘light’ shewwispish ‘daytime’
-(fl)uif, -flU * cause swew ‘ability’ swefluif ‘enable’
-fU, -Vf ** 1. do, use, perform, conduct
2. act upon
zuũz ‘candle’ zuũsfu ‘light’
-gaov ** place, area urur ‘sand’ urgaov ‘desert’
-glA-, -glO-, -glAm, -glOg ** 1. longer, more focused version of;
2. repetitive;
3. group
‘’ ‘’
-gUv ** diminutive ‘’ ‘’
-gUz * use (instrument) ‘’ ‘’
-hhmA- * object ‘’ ‘’
-hiOr ** container, covering, interface, base ‘’ ‘’
-kUsh * undoing, barrier, reversal, inversion ‘’ ‘’
-jjA- * cluster vant ‘house’ vajjant ‘village’
-lieg ** associated noun ‘’ ‘’
-lUll * cause ‘’ ‘’
-mmO-, -OmmOt ** augmentative ‘’ ‘’
-nOŨt * collection, assemblage ‘’ ‘’
-nUr ** 1. remove, diminish
2. cause some kind of reversal
3. act treacherously or to one's detriment
4. act violently
‘’ ‘’
-OhO- ** 1. thing affected by, thing ___ed
2. shaped like
‘’ ‘’
-Oks ** 1. precise inner working, essence, nature
2. field of study of
3. amount/extent/measure of
4. way of
‘’ ‘’
-Ops *** have, experience (mental or physical quality) ‘’ ‘’
-pou ** 1. person of ethnicity, nationality, anything or anyone originating from
2. person or thing characterized by
3. person who does something as an occupation
‘’ ‘’
-rA * place on or below ground ‘’ ‘’
-rAt * 1. get, receive;
2. perceive
‘’ ‘’
-rg *** cause ‘’ ‘’
-rs ** 1. become, start to
2. acquire
‘’ ‘’
-shA-, -shap, -shup, -shy ** diminutive ‘’ ‘’
-shfAn ** time, season ‘’ ‘’
-shhO-, -Oshhou 1. result of
2. one affected by, victim of (generally negative)
‘’ ‘’
-skAs ** 1. division of
2. instance of, occurrence of
‘’ ‘’
-smU * 1. can, able to
2. premature, short of
‘’ ‘’
-snOk ** environment, atmosphere, season ‘’ ‘’
-tAz ** 1. pay attention to, focus on;
2. understand, interpret, clarify
‘’ ‘’
-tUv ** diminutive ‘’ ‘’
-trUz ** 1. combination, group, cluster of
2. sequence of
3. organized representation of, chart of
‘’ ‘’
-Ug ** associated noun ‘’ ‘’
-uin * diminutive vin ‘jump’ vinuin ‘hop’
-uish- ** diminutive ezgeps ‘hot’ ezgeshuips ‘warm’
-uiz * cause ‘’ ‘’
-Umhh * augmentative ‘’ ‘’
-Unt ** place, room, building ‘’ ‘’
-Ur *** give, bring ‘’ ‘’
-Ut *** make, create ‘’ ‘’
-UvUnt ** 1. place, location (small scale);
2. minimal unit, division
‘’ ‘’
-vAn * something given puz ‘pay’ puzvan ‘salary’
-vui *** act of, -ing ‘’ ‘’
-vuiv ** abstract object ‘’ ‘’
-wOsh * wet or pasty substance nilv ‘color’ nilviwesh ‘paint’
-z * become ‘’ ‘’
-zOw ** 1. having to do with, relating to
2. like
‘’ ‘’


Vowel Inversion

The phonological process of vowel inversion is described in §2.3.6. In this method of derivation, all the vowels in a word are changed from front to back, or back to front. This type of derivation is quite productive in Fllovuwwuz.

Very often, the new word an opposite meaning:

nunvaw ‘borrow’, ninviw ‘return’
ie ’knowledge’, io ‘ignorance’
kom ‘walk forward’, kem ‘walk backwards’

Sometimes the derived word indicates a counterpart or opposite side of something. Several postpositions have been formed this way:

wow ‘sword’, wew ‘sheath’
pessit ‘palm’, possat ‘back of hand’
vengy ‘in front of’, vonga ‘behind’

Most often, a word with front vowels will represent a concept that is viewed more positively, while the version with back vowels will represent a more negative concept:

pewnelez ‘caution’, pownoloz ‘recklessness’
tfitez ‘ease’, tfatoz ‘difficulty’

Sometimes, a front-vowel and a back-vowel word denote the same thing, but the former is used when it is viewed positively, and the latter when it is viewed negatively:

ziẽw ‘association’ (as between friends), zuõw ‘association’ (as between enemies)


Nonassertive Modality

Fllovuwwuz uses a single type of inflection to indicate both negation and questions. These two categories have in common the lack of a positive assertion - hence the name "nonassertive modality." This inflection takes the form of an infix, sometimes in combination with a prefix, and can occur on nouns, adjectives, verbs, and postpositions. It always appears on the specific word whose meaning is begin negated or questioned.

The infix occurs directly before the first vowel in the word. In most cases, the infix consists of a copy of the first vowel, followed by i /j/. If the word begins with a vowel, p- is also added before it.

novogohh ‘there’s snow’ → noiovogohh ‘there’s no snow’ or ‘is there snow?’
tahhna ‘boring’ → taiahhna ‘not boring’ or ‘boring?’
hnupap ‘it was an opinion’ → hnuiupap ‘it wasn’t an opinion’ or ‘was it an opinion?’
eshkipsif ‘I am happy’ → peieshkipsif ‘I am not happy’ or ‘am I happy?’

If the first vowel in the word is /ɪ/, or the second syllable begins with /j/, the infix used is -Oz-.

jineshehep ‘s/he was punished’ → jezineshehep ‘s/he wasn’t punished’ or ‘was s/he punished?’
weiyhh ‘tasty’ → weziyehh ‘not tasty’ or ‘tasty?’

The nonassertive form is always used for question words, such as mala ‘what?’, fuzia ‘how?’, mewy ‘how long?’, as long as they are in an interrogative context.


‘Who took the table?’


‘Who took the table?’

Various Items


Demonstratives are used to locate items in relation to speech participants, or other referents. They do not constitute a distinct part of speech, but are merely nouns, adjectives, or verbs that behave like other members of their class. They all take the regular plural and nonassertive affixes when appropriate. When used as adjectives, the following noun(s) take the construct affix, and they can be combined with other adjectives in any order.

ka (noun/verb) and se (adjective) refer to something something near the speaker, addressee, or other referent. This is one of very few words in Fllovuwwuz where there are distinct forms for different parts of speech that cannot be interchanged.


‘I picked this yesterday’ (ka because it is close to me)


‘He picked those today’ (ka because they are close to him)


‘Can you hand me that small shovel?’ (literally: ‘Will I take that small shovel?’) (ka because they are close to you)

sehhe refers to something at a distance from the speaker, addressee, or other referent. Both ka/se and sehhe can be translated as ‘this’ or ‘that’ (or ‘these’ or ‘those’ in the plural), depending on context.


‘That's the one I can't reach’ (ka because it is close to me)

seze and we can be used following ka/ka or sehhe. seze points out an additional item, while we is used to show contrast with the previous item.

we has an additional use, which is to point out single something out as very significant, usually because of something negative.


Fllovuwwuz has a base-10 number system, capable of generating numbers up into the billions. Numbers up to 20, as well as other multiples of 10 up to and including 100, 1000, 1,000,000, and 1,000,000,000 are not predictable. Otherwise, multiples are formed by placing the smaller number after the larger one, and additions are formed by placing the smaller number before the larger one.

0 tstengy 10 rejjik** 20 pemkilek 100 majjak
1 epe 11 pemmik 21 epe-pemkilek 101 epe-majjak
2 kalok 12 kalpomuk 22 kalo-pemkilek 200 majja-kalok
3 ramlok 13 rampomuk 30 perimlek 799 pemswe-pemkrige-majja-gitek
4 razak 14 raspomuk 40 perilhyk 1000 reshmirjjyk
5 mahlak 15 mallpomuk 50 pemihlyk 2000 reshmirjjy-kalok
6 satak 16 sallpomuk 60 pemsityk 100,000 reshmirjjy-majjak
7 gitek 17 gillpemyk 70 pemgitek 1,000,000 reshmiklek
8 iorak 18 iorpomuk 80 pemieryk 1,001,000 reshmirjjy-reshmiklek
9 pemswek* 19 krahpomuk 90 pemkrigek 1,000,000,000 reshmimlek

*Ordinal: krago   **Ordinal: kalorjja

When a number is used with a noun, it takes the form of an adjective (rather than a determiner, for example, as in many other languages). It is placed before the noun, and the noun takes a Construct suffix, as it would with any other adjective. Numbers greater than one are grammatically plural, as are nouns they modify, and both take the plural suffix.


‘zero trees’


‘One tree’


‘two trees’

Like most roots throughout the language, number words can also be used as nouns or verbs.


‘I had zero (none)’


‘Three came’


‘The remaining houses are seven (= There are seven houses left)’

Ordinal numbers are identical to cardinal ones (aside from those for 9 and 10, as noted in the table above), and are distinguishable only by the fact that they are usually used in the singular. epe ‘one/first’ is always ambiguous.


‘one duck / the first duck’


‘eight ducks’


‘the eighth duck’

Noun Phrases


Nouns in Fllovuwwuz are used to refer to people, objects, occurences, or ideas. Like most other word classes, they can occur in the nonassertive modality, which is marked by an infix, or a combination of an infix and a prefix. In addition, they can take up to five inflectional suffixes to mark number, mood, tense, and the construct state. The order of affixes (whether or not all are present in a given noun) is shown below. The ‘R’ stands for reduplication of part of the noun stem, which is used along with the Plural suffix to mark the similative plural (see below).

stem - reduplicated syllable - subjunctive - tense - construct - plural

Proper nouns are a subset of nouns that name a particular person or place. They never take affixes, and are always preceded by the particle pe, which can take certain affixes in their place.


Nouns in Fllovuwwuz may be singular or plural, and this property is indicated by affixes both on the noun itself and on other words that agree with it: adjectives, postpositions, particles, and verbs. (Even if the noun itself is elided, the number will still be marked on these other words.) There is also a special form of the plural called the similative, which is marked only on the noun; other words agreeing with it use the normal plural form.

The singular form is the basic one, and is indicated on the noun by the lack of a plural affix. It is used when there is one entity, zero entities, or a fraction of an entity.




‘no carrot(s)’


‘half a carrot’

The plural is used when there is more than one entity, whether a separate word is used to specify the amount or not. It is indicated on the noun by the suffix -k after a bare stem, or -h when preceded by the construct suffix -l/w. Agreement marking for number on other types of words will be dealt with in the appropriate sections.




‘ten carrots’

The similative plural denotes similar items in addition to the noun mentioned. This can often be translated "... and such/stuff/the like." It is formed by using end-reduplication (see §2.3.5), and then adding the plural suffix as above.


‘carrots and such; carrots and other vegetables’


Person is a property of nouns, and although it is not marked directly on them, it is marked on the verbs, postpositions, and particles they are associated with.

In addition to first (I, we), second (you), and third person (he, she, it), Fllovuwwuz has an additional fourth and fifth persons. These play a similar role to the obviative and (and the rarer subobviative) found in some Native American languages. Once a third person is introduced, an additional noun phrase (that is not the speaker or hearer) will be understood as the fourth person, and additional ones may be treated as fifth person. This allows for several arguments to be referred to soleley through agreement markers for some time, without having to restate the noun phrase.

The choice of person is not always as it would be in English and other languages. Parts and attributes of things (or of people) are considered to be the same person as the thing itself. In the English sentence ‘My arm is broken,’ ‘arm’ is treated as third person; in Fllovuwwuz though, it is treated as first person, since it is part of the first person. The equivalent sentence in Fllovuwwuz could be translated literally as “My arm am broken":


‘My arm is broken’


Like verbs, nouns are generally in the indicative mood, which is unmarked, but they can also occur in the subjunctive mood. This is indicated by suffixing -nO to the noun. It is used when the speaker is referring to something hypothetical; something that does not yet exist, or may not exist, or whose identity is undetermined. Sometimes it is grammatically mandatory:


‘He's going to build a city’

Other times, the indicative or subjunctive can be used with contrasting meaning:


‘I'm looking for a stain on the shirt’
[a particular stain that I already know of]


‘I'm looking for a stain on the shirt’
[I don't know if there is any stain]


‘Were some kids here today?’
[I have a particular group in mind]


‘Were any kids here today?’
[I don't have any particular ones in mind]


Construct State

Nouns modified by a preceding adjective take a construct suffix: -l for singular nouns, and plural nouns with front vowels; -w for plural nouns with back vowels.


‘big cat’


‘big house’


‘big cats’


‘big houses’


Adjectives in Fllovuwwuz only occur before nouns, in attributive position.


‘(a/the) spoiled meat’

Adjectives cannot be used in predicate position; instead, a verb is used.


‘the meat is spoiled’


‘the meat smells spoiled’


Adjectives agree in number with the noun they modify. For the singular, the bare root is used, and for plural, the suffix -k is added.


‘gray stone’


‘gray stones’

When a noun occurs in the similative plural, the adjective still simply uses -k to agree with it. There is no agreement with the similative element. However, an adjective can take its own similative plural form to signify the meaning "and similar" referring to its own quality. It is possible for both an adjective and noun to occur in the similative plural form, each contributing its own meaning.


‘gray stones and such’


‘gray and similarly-colored stones’


‘gray and similarly-colored stones and such’

Adjectives do not show any agreement with nominal mood or tense.

Particles: pe, ge

Whenever a proper noun (a name) is used, it is preceded by a particle. pe is used for names of people and animals, while ge is used for everything else. The particle is suffixed to agree in person and number with the object/person referred to.


‘My name is Nohav.’


‘You’re named Etsigy and Nohav’


‘Inze is crying.’


‘the city was called Mshuzur’

Proper nouns cannot be inflected as other nouns, but the particle can be inflected instead, to show number, mood, tense, or nonassertive modality. Unlike nouns however, they do not take any suffix for the construct state.


‘My name isn’t Nohavaho.’


‘Are you named Etsigy and Nohavaho?’


‘It’s not Inze who’s crying.’


‘Did you meet the late Llenfehhy?’


‘I know of two Mshuzurs’

Phrase Structure


Relational Clitics

Postpositional Phrases



List of Postpositions


ho indicates DO of most verbs ending in the suffix -fO
lly 1. indicates demoted DO in a causative construction; 2. as regards
te indicates possession
jo indicates possession
pa indicates possession


go with, to (as in, dancing to music)
hiu about, concerning, of
hnu instead of, for, as
iopa including
laga among
leme as much as, according to
llalo to the disadvantage of, on
llile for (for the benefit of)
melwe against, contradicting
na between
palla of (amount, group)
sha by means of, with, through
sho because of
we for (the purpose of...)


gjy 1. just like, exactly like; 2. with
kanga relative to, compared to, more than, beyond, for, considering
llawa as, just like (in appearance, sound, mood)
papso like (in value, worth, composition)
tseny similar to, somewhat like


hrele after, upon
hrolo before, preceding
ny of (time of)
pa by (indicates amount or amount of time something is done)


gly at   glily on  
kla to, throughout klagla directly to klashka toward
naza beyond
she from, of, by (creator, author) shegle away from sheshky from the direction of
veme close to, near
voja 1. to the other side of, across, through; 2. throughout, over
vomo far from
zime far below, far beneath
vy 1. in, inside, within; 2. among, of, out of (a group) vily on the inside surface of vimzy somewhere inside
fery at the side (any) of, next to, by, outside ferily on the side (any) of, on the outside of ferimze outside, s.wh. to the side (any) of
tro at all sides of, surrounding trola on all sides of, covering tromzo s.wh. surrounding
tu at the bottom of tula on the bottom of tumzu below, beneath, under, underneath
sy at the top of sily on the top of simzy above, over
vengy in front of vengily on the front of vengimzy s.wh. to the front of
vonga right behind vongala on the back of vongamza s.wh. behind
simple indeterminate all
Post Noun Post Post Noun
inside vy vinent viẽv vetry vetrint
touching gly gliẽnt gliẽl gletry gletrint
near vev vehiv vevier vevitry vevitrint
far rum rum ruwwum vutrom vutront
on/next to at a distance
Post Noun Adj Post Noun Adj
top tsy tsint tseỹ tsimaoz tsimaont tsimaoz
bottom umuz umunt umuũz zim zimint zim
front vengy vengint vengeỹ hhiliv hhilvint hhileĩv
back vonga vongant vongoã hhuluv hhulvunt hhuloũv
side fery ferint fereĩr loũn loũnuv loũn
between noraw norant noraw norwaz norwant norwaz
left ietez ietint ieteĩz iettiz iettint ietteĩz
right ialtoz ialtunt ialtoũz ialuttoz ialuttunt ialuttoũz
east gannu gannuv gannoũ flerimmy flerimmint flereĩm
west eỹ eĩv eỹ fnuwwash fnuwwashunt fnuwwaũsh
north showwu showwosuv showwoũ relezvy relezviv relezvy
south ezgy ezgiv ezgeĩr miur miurv mioũr
northeast isesfer isesferv isesfeĩr
northwest relezveỹ relezveĩv relezveỹ
southwest eĩmiyr eĩmiyrv eĩmieĩr
southeast miurgannu miurgannuv miurgannoũ

Phrase Structure

Linking Postpositions


Verb Phrases


The verb is the most morphologically complex type of word in Fllovuwwuz. Its components occur in the following order:

stem - voice - subjunctive - subject - tense - direct object - indirect object - imperative - conjunctive

Here is an example of an unlikely but grammatical verb with every slot filled:


‘(You all) be given to them by them (in the future)!’

Subject Agreement

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p→fk t→kk k→kk g→kk
Nasal m→mhh m̰ n→nk n̰
Fricative f→fk v→fk s→ks z→sk sh→ksh j→shk ss jj hh→hhk h→hhk
Lateral Fricative ll→kll lh→llk
Approximant w→wk w̰ j (w w̰)
Lateral Approximant l→kl
Tap r→kr

Passive Voice

Circumstantial Voice

Subjunctive Mood

Imperative Mood


Object Affixes

Conjunctive Form

Suffix Combinations

Indicative Subjunctive
Independent Conjunctive Independent Conjunctive
1 f h fOf fkOf nf nh nfOf nhhOf
2 m mp mOf mkOf nOm nOmp nmOf nOmkOf
3 sh shk shOf shkOf nsh nOshk nshOf nOshkOf
4 s sk wOf skOf ns nOsk nwOf nOskOf
5 ll llOk llOf llOkOf nOll nllOk nllOf nllOkOf
6 h h hOf hkOf nh nh nhOf nhhOf
1 ft ht ftOf htOf nOft nhhOt nOftOf nhhOtOf
2 nt mkOt ntOf mkOtOf nOnt nOmkOt nOntOf nOmkOtOf
3 sht shkOt shtOf shkOtOf nOsht nOshkOt nOshtOf nOshkOtOf
4 st skOt stOf skOtOf nOst nOskOt nOstOf nOskOtOf
5 llOt llOht llOtOf llOhtOf nllOt nllOkOt nllOtOf nllOhtOf
6 ht ht htOf htOf nOht nhhOt nOhtOf nhhOtOf
1 fOn fkOn fnOf hhnOf nfOn nhhOn nfOnOf nhhOnOf
2 mOn mkOn mnOf mkOnOf nmOn nOmkOn nmOnOf nOmkOnOf
3 shOn shkOn shnOf shkOnOf nshOn nOshkOn nshOnOf nOshkOnOf
4 wOn skOn snOf skOnOf nwOn nOskOn nwOnOf nOskOnOf
5 llOn llOkOn llOnOf llOknOf nllOn nllOkOn nllOnoOf nllOknOf
6 hhOn hkOn hhnOf hhnOf nhhOn nhhOn nhhOnOf nhhOnOf



le Phrases

Echo Verb Phrases


These words can be used be used in several ways:

1. As a verb and object in a conjunctive construction. If the verbs are serialized, the object portion may be ommitted if it is identical to the verb.

lopo ishist tano tanostof   ‘the coconut landed with a thud’
lopo (tano) tano-ishist / lopo (tano) ishi-tanost   ‘the coconut landed with a thud’
ora hne hno-mirshest / ora hne mirshe-hnost   ‘the thief laughed slyly’

2. As an object of the verb gy. This is usually in a conjunctive or serialized construction with another verb that either expresses the sound-production itself or the circumstances that led to it, but for those sounds for which no other verb exists, gy can be used independently. If the two parts of the word are different, they are usually both included. If they are identical, one may be dropped.

lopo tano (tano) gist ishystef   ‘the coconut landed and went "thud"’
lopo tano (tano) gi-ishyst / lopo tano (tano) ishi-gyst   ‘the coconut landed and went “thud”’
lopo tano (tano) gist   ‘the coconut went “thud”’
ora hno hne gist mirshestef   ‘the thief laughed, “hehe”’
ora hno hne gi-myrshest / ora hno hne mirshe-gyst   ‘the thief laughed, “hehe”’
*ora hno hne gist

3. As a lone verb and object combination. This is the simplest formulation, but stylistically it is more formal and literary than the others. It is also usually used when derivational affixes need to be added.

lopo tano tanost   ‘the coconut went thud’ or ‘the coconut thudded’
gagwa ilhyl koho kehestest   ‘the pressure made the pot explode’
Actions and Conditions

These can can be used on their own as simple verb and object combinations, or in conjunctive or serialized constructions.

elmehie lommo lemmest   ‘the vase wobbled around’
snono snenest kehie kamostov   ‘he lingered around eating cookies’
moja tafa tify-shazast / moja tafa shaza-tifyst   ‘the clothing blew around gently (flapping around)’

The Reduplicative Clitic

Phrase Structure





Basic Clause Structure

Voice and Topicalization

Active Voice

Passive Voice

Circumstantial Voice


Subordinate Clauses

Relative Clauses

Subjunctive Clauses

Conjunctive Clauses


List of Conjunctions

vy 1. and, but (where there is no contrast or minor contrast, but not where there is a contradiction)
upasht nirmenesht vy owotstono veiengysht ‘He finished early but then had nothing to do’
2. or (both clauses offered as options)
wa or (one and only one clause can be true)
miopsosh wa miepsesh? ‘Is he dead or alive?’
jjy or (exclusive, weak). At least one of the clauses is probably true, but they may both be false. Used to present possibilities and suggestions.
tseny jjy 1. or maybe. Presents two speculations. A weaker version of jjy.
2. might as well. If [1st clause], it might as well be that [2nd clause]
tumna 1. and even, moreover, and what‘s more
2. but (in cases of major contrast); 3. but ... too much (usually used with mele (v.)).
iatla however, but, though, rather, instead. Used to present a contradiction or a substitution, but not mere contrast; the more unexpected clause follows.
farala when, while, as. Indicates that either both actions are ongoing or both are instantive, and happened at the same time.
hho when, while, as. Indicates that the first part is ongoing, while the second is more instantive, and happened while the first was going on.
geve where. Both clauses happened at the same place.
ielyn before. The clause preceding the conjunction comes earlier.
ne and then. The second event immediately follows the first.
ielyt after. The clause following the conjunction comes earlier.
ne ielyt right after
rush near when/where. Indicates that both clauses occured close to each other in either time or space.
tseny 1. like (weaker than melre)
2. and in the end.
melre 1. like (stronger than tseny)
2. enough that, such that.
lhy then, if/then. More accurately this just shows the order in which two events (real or hypothetical) occur - the first event comes before the conjunction, the second comes after.
sho because. The reason comes after the conjunction.
elly so, therefore. The reason comes before the conjunction.
we in order [to, that...]. The reason comes before the conjunction, and it is implied there was a real purpose.
tumna tseny until, so much that
wa tumna or else, lest, in case
we iatla in order [to, that...]. The result is something seemingly contradictory or surprising.
vy farala but, though, while. Indicates minor contrast, where either both actions are ongoing or both are instantive, and happened at the same time.
vy hho but, though, while. Indicates minor contrast, where the first part is ongoing, and the second is more instantive, and happened while the first was going on.

Various Constructions


Questions and Answers

Yes-No Questions

Content Questions


P#’s X N’s X NP’s X NP have X
part/name/action X (Subject)
Dem X-Cns (S)
A X-Cns NP te X (S) NP V-Cir
NP X tantro
quality X (S)
Dem X-Cns (S)
A-lA X-Cns NP pse X (S) NP X pse
language X (S)
Dem X-Cns (S)
A-zwO X-Cns N she P X-Cns NP X pse
NP V-Cir
close family Dem X-Cns
Dem-lA X-Cns
jo X
te X
A-lA X-Cns NP jo X
NP te X
NP V-Cir
NP X tantro
relative/friend jo X A-zwO X-Cns NP jo X NP X-la sowarga
NP X tantro
other people A-zwO X-Cns appropriate verb
objects, results te X NP te X NP X tantro
amounts A-pA X-Cns NP pa X-Cns
N pa P X
location A-lA X-Cns NP V-Cir
other A-zwO X-Cns NP X tantro
appropriate verb