Josh Regev

Melfwm Grammar

  1. Introduction
    1. Overview
    2. Abbreviations
  2. Phonology
    1. Phonemes
      1. Consonants
      2. Vowels
    2. Constraints
    3. Stress
    4. Orthography
  3. Morphological Overview
    1. Minor Word Classes
      1. Interjections
    2. Derivation
      1. Affixation
      2. Compounding
  4. Noun Phrases
    1. Nouns
      1. Number
      2. Definiteness
    2. Pronouns
    3. Determiners
    4. Numbers
    5. Adjectives
    6. Phrase Structure
    7. Coordination
  5. Verb Phrases
    1. Verbs
    2. Adverbs
    3. Phrase Structure
    4. Coordination
  6. Sentences
    1. Argument Structure
    2. Basic Clause Structure
      1. Existential Clauses
    3. Operations
      1. Focus
      2. Dislocation
      3. Elision
    4. Subordinate Clauses
      1. Relative Clauses
      2. Complement Clauses
    5. Coordination
  7. Various Constructions
    1. Causation
    2. Questions and Answers
      1. Yes-No Questions
      2. Content Questions
    3. Possession
    4. Conditionals
    5. Comparison
    6. Speech



Melfwm is a constructed language. It is a priori (not directly based on any other language).

This grammar uses the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent sounds.


The following symbols and abbreviations are used throughout this grammar:

  • - Morpheme boundary
  • = Clitic boundary
  • . Boundary between multiple elements that correspond to one
  • 1, 2, 3 Person
  • Abl Ablative
  • Abs Absentative
  • All Allative
  • Ant Antithetical
  • Def Definite
  • DS Different Subject
  • F Feminine
  • Im Imperative
  • In Inanimate
  • Ind Indefinite
  • Inf Infinitive
  • Int Intransitive
  • Ir Irrealis
  • Loc Locative
  • M Masculine
  • N Negative
  • Neu Neuter
  • NR Non-referential
  • P Plural
  • Per Perlative
  • Pot Potential
  • Pr Proximate
  • Pst Past tense
  • Rel Relativizer
  • S Subject
  • Sg Singular
  • Sen Sentential
  • Tr Transitive




Bilabial Interdental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Stop p b t k
Nasal m n
Fricative ɸ θ ð s ɬ ʃ χ
Approximant w l j (w)
Rhotic ɾ~r

Oral stops include /p b t k/. Voiceless /p t k/ are aspirated in word-final position.

Nasal stops include /m n/. /n/ is pronounced [ŋ] before /k/, and is written g in this position, even though its pronunciation is not contrastive: ecȏȃgc [ɛˈko̯͡ɔŋk] ‘crown.’ Before /χ/, /n/ maintains an alveolar articulation: tanch [tanχ] ‘you [plural].’

Fricatives include /ɸ θ ð s ɬ ʃ χ/. /ɸ/ is pronounced as voiced [β] before a voiced consonant. /s/ may optionally be voiced between two vowels: ieswcht [jɛˈsuχt]~[jɛˈzuχt] ‘wonderful.’ /χ/ may optionally be pronounced as glottal /h/ when it is between the vowels /a/ or /o/: pochonsyw [poχonsiˈu]~[pohonsiˈu]. This does not happen when /χ/ is the last consonant in a stem (ierachan [jɛraˈχan] *[jɛraˈhan]) or when there is another /χ/ after the following vowel (achach [aˈχaχ] *[aˈhaχ]).

Approximants include /w l j/.

There is one rhotic, which can be pronounced as an alveolar tap [ɾ] or trill [r]. These are in free variation.

Before and after /ə̥/, /ð l r/ are devoiced. Only the change from /ð/ to /θ/ is reflected in the orthography: myth-ch [ˈmiθə̥χ] ‘the family’ (from mydhw̑ [ˈmiðu]); choel-sh [ˈχo̯͡ɛl̥ə̥ʃ] ‘old,’ sec-ri [sɛkə̥ˈɾ̥i]~[sɛkə̥ˈr̥i], ‘five.’



There are seven vowels: /i ɛ ə̥ a ɔ o u/:

Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid o
Mid ə̥
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

/a/ is pronounced /ʌ/ when unstressed and before a nasal consonant, with or without another consonant in between: tagcegc [tʌŋˈkɛŋk], afnot [ʌβˈnot].

/ə̥/ is always pronounced voiceless. It never occurs word-initially or word-finally.


Rising diphthongs all begin with /o/, and include /o̯͡ɛ o̯͡ɔ o̯͡a/. Falling diphthongs include /i͡ə̯ ə͡a̯ a͡ɪ̯ a͡ə̯ u͡a̯ u͡o̯/.

Sequences of a glide (/j w/) plus a vowel also occur, but these are not classed as diphthongs.


Consonant clusters

Allowed initial clusters: skj skw

Stops Fricatives Liquids Glides
Stops * /kɸ/ /pl kl/ /pj kw/
Nasals * * * /mj nj/
Fricatives /sk/ * * /ɸj sj sw χw/
Liquids * * * /rw/

Allowed medial clusters: lpj lɸj nkm nkn ntɸ nkɸ nkʃ nsk rpl

/p b t k/
/ɸ θ ð s ɬ ʃ χ/
/m n/
/r l/
/w j/
/p b t k/
only /pt pk tk/ ?stop + fricative /tɸ kɸ kʃ/ only /pn km kn/ only /pl/, rare /tr/ stop + glide */pw bw/
/m n/
only /mp mb nt nk/ nasal + fricative nasal + nasal nasal + liquid nasal + glide */mw/
/ɸ θ ð s ɬ ʃ χ/
?fricative + stop
/ðk ʃk ʃt sk st ɸt/
only /sɸ sχ ɸs ɸɬ ðs/ fricative + nasal fricative + liquid
*/ɬl ɬr/
fricative + glide
*/ɸw ʃj χj/
/r l/
liquid + stop liquid + peripheral fricative (ɸ χ) liquid + nasal * liquid + glide

Allowed final clusters:

Stops Fricatives
Fricatives /st sk ʃt/ *
Nasals /mp nt nk/ /nʃ nχ/
Liquids /lp lb lt lk/ /lχ/
Vowel sequences

Most vowel sequences are permitted. However, /o/ cannot be followed by stressed /ɛ ɔ/. When this would occur, they are diphthongized as /o̯͡ɛ o̯͡ɔ/.


Stress is almost always on one of the last two syllables of a word. It is generally predictable, according to the rules below. If (1) does not apply to the word, proceed to (2), etc.:

  1. The unvoiced vowel /ə̥/ can never be stressed. If one of the last two syllables has it, the other of them will be stressed: choel-sh /ˈχo̯͡ɛ.lə̥ʃ/, sec-ri /sɛkə̥ˈri/
  2. Stress the penultimate syllable if it contains a diphthong: moelydh /ˈmo̯͡ɛ.lið/
  3. Stress the final syllable if it is closed (ends in a consonant), or if it contains the vowel /u/ (on its own or part of a diphthong): tochim /to.ˈχim/, twnarw /ˈru/, tanpluȃ /tan.ˈplu͡a̯/
  4. Stress the penultimate syllable: chalchi /ˈχal.χi/, lalpoa /ˈlal.pɔ/, rwnȏȃ /ˈruno̯͡ɔ/

Antepenultimate stress is uncommon, but occurs in several words, e.g.: llunasy̑ /ˈɬunasi/ ‘sea; pwnchery̑ ‘vine’; nuȏt-cuo̾ac /ˈnu͡o̯tə̥kwɔk/ ‘articulate’; and before the collective diminutive suffix - /ɛwɛ/: codhe̾ /ˈkoðɛwɛ/.

When an epenthetic vowel (/o/ or /i/) occurs, it can receive stress: focuolpo /fo.ˈkwol.po/. Clitics never receive stress, and are not considered in determining stress: tanmachfwn’em /tan.maχ.ˈɸu.nɛm/

As mentioned, there are many exceptions to these stress rules. Infinitives ending in -an, -en, and -et always have final stress, even if the penult contains a diphthong: noeltan /no̯͡ɛlˈtan/. Other exceptions are marked in the orthography (see §2.4): mydhw̑ /ˈmi.ðu/.


IPA Orthography
p p
b b
t t
k c
m m
n [n] n
n [ŋ] g
ɸ f
θ th
ð dh
s s
ɬ ll
ʃ sh
χ ch,
w u
l l
j i
ɾ~r r
IPA Orthography
i y, i
ɛ e
ə̥ -
a a
ɔ oa
o o
u w, u
Rising Diphthongs
IPA Orthography
o̯͡ɛ oe
o̯͡a ȏa
o̯͡ɔ ȏȃ
Falling Diphthongs
IPA Orthography
i͡ə̯ y-
ə͡a̯ -a
a͡ɪ̯ ai
a͡ə̯ a-

/i/ is usually represented by y, but in some words i is used. Similarly, /u/ is most often represented by w, but u is used in some words. Only i and u are used in diphthongs, so when y or w follows another vowel, each is pronounced separately: rayp /ra.ˈip/.

/n/ is written g when it is pronounced [ŋ], i.e., before c /k/. This is the only instance of a non-phonemic distinction in the orthography. Before any other letter, g is silent: sogch /soχ/ ‘milk’. Very occasionally, g is pronounced /χ/ or /n/ [n]: tagtoentuc /taχˈto̯͡ɛntuk/, segiasic /sɛnjaˈsik/.

Stress is generally predictable according to the rules in §2.3. There are many exceptions though, and these are indicated by the orthography. When a final syllable would be expected to be stressed but is not, an inverted breve is written over its vowel: noapw̑ /ˈnɔpu/ ‘some (pl.)’ vs. regularly stressed noapw /nɔˈpu/ ‘cry’. If the final syllable contains ua /wa/ or uo /wo/, the diacritic will be placed over the consonant u rather than the vowel, to avoid confusion with the diphthongs /u͡a̯/ and /u͡o̯/: intethȗon /inˈtɛθwon/.

The same diacritic is also used over a following o to show that they should not be pronounced together as /ɔ/, as in foȃ /ˈfo.a/. When there is a sequence oai, an inverted breve over the o indicates that it is pronounced /o/, and that the following ai is a diphthong: scȏait /skoˈa͡ɪ̯t/. Otherwise, oa represents /ɔ/: llescoait /ɬɛskɔˈit/, poaiwdh /pɔˈjuð/.

Less frequently, a penultimate syllable that would be predicted to be stressed is not, and similarly, an inverted breve is written over that vowel: lȇsai /leˈsa͡ɪ̯/, pȃirwr /pa͡ɪ̯ˈrur/.

A vertical tilde ( ̾) is used to indicate an unexpectedly unstressed or unstressed vowel, where using ( ̑) would indicate the wrong vowel quality: scenoo̾at /skɛˈno.ɔt/, lelfȏa̾shach /lɛlɸo̯͡aˈʃaχ/, no̾a̾besh /no̯͡ɔˈbɛʃ/.

There are several additional uses of the vertical tilde. Word-final , a diminutive collective suffix, is pronounced /wɛ/ following a vowel, and /ɛwɛ/ following a consonant, with both syllables unstressed: saptwre̾ /sapˈturɛwɛ/. c̾̾ is used to represent /χ/ following /s/ in words where etymologically it was a plosive (/k/): tebesc̾ach /tɛˌbɛsˈχaχ/.

Almost all words follow the above rules, but there are occasional deviations: liyth /liθ/, iuw- /ju/ (negative prefix).

Morphological Overview

Minor Word Classes




Affix Base Result Meaning, Notes Example
Base Result
-ach Personal characteristic (Usually stressed, sometimes unstressed) ‘’ ‘’
-ai N, V Causative sciedh ‘group’ (n.)
collan ‘reconcile with’
sciedhai ‘gather’
collai ‘reconcile (two other parties)’
an- Color or texture of fadha ‘silver’ (n.) anfadha ‘silver’ (a.)
-(c)ȃip N, V Diminutive
-ȃp Abstract noun
(Resulting noun is collective; singulative ends in -ȃgc)
ma-nchiwr ‘dangerous’ ma-nchiwrȃp ‘troubles, problems’
-ȃth Abstract noun ‘’ ‘’
-(a)uȋsh Anti-, thwarting, against, opposing; parallel, counterpart; back ‘’ ‘’
-bw Principle based on, relating to iempȃsh ‘tomorrow’ iempashbw ‘prudence’
cue- Mutual, together, combined; meeting point, convergence; with recompense or expectation thereof; to oneself ‘’ ‘’
ec-/ech- across ‘’

-ȇt N Person somehow removed a degree or victimized by ebas ‘friend’

elisti ‘witch’
eshigcw̑ ‘war’
ebasȇt ‘friend of friend; mutual friend’
elistiȇt ‘bewitched’
eshigcuȇt ‘captive’
fin- N, V N, V Arranged, organized, serious; voluntary, intentional cynt ‘feed’
shoalch ‘vanish’
figcynt ‘feed regularly’
finshoalch ‘hide’
ilot- N N Place ȃichant ‘walking’ ilotȃichant ‘trail’
in- N, V N, V In or along the ground, or along another surface (im- before p, b) coala ‘door’
paltan ‘walk’
thwf ‘rain’
igcoala ‘trapdoor’
impaltan ‘crawl’
indhwf ‘flood’
lel- A Full of, characterized by plyedhw̑ ‘mouth' lelplyedhw̑ ‘talkative’
-lor N Something hanging enoet ‘clothing’ enoȇtlor ‘cape’
mer- Affected by, undergoer samwgcwi ‘tornado’ mersamwgcwȇch ‘be dizzy’
-nofan V Transitivizer. When added to transitives, intensifier or causative ‘’ ‘’
-nȏt N Tool, place, point, product, body part (small scale) isnyn ‘rock, sway’
pasai ‘converge’
isnynȏt ‘wave’
pasainȏt ‘point’
-oadh Emotion, mental state
-oeshet N V Do something at/with a certain place or part; fix; undo syapw ‘tear’
rwr ‘elbow’
syapoeshet ‘patch’
rwroeshet ‘bend' (tr.)
-ȏs N, V N Material, substance; occasionally non-material; something covering or next to something cithw ‘hand’
ogc ‘sheep’
cithuȏs ‘glove’
ogcȏs ‘wool'
pal(t)-/pla- N N Something similar or near mwsc ‘finger’ palmwsc ‘spike’
-(p)at N N Animal ecȗash ‘man’ ecuat ‘monkey’
pwlel- Like lel-, but only possibly, liable to be ‘’ ‘’
ra- A, N A, N Strong in; struck with; completely raper ‘strong’ (?)
-reb N V Creates intransitive or allative verb (Final consonant of stem usually dropped, often compensated by diphthong) sciwt ‘self’
plwp ‘dirge’
sciwreb ‘act independently’
pluȏreb ‘mourn’
sen-1 N A Covered in, overwhelmed by pair ‘water’ senpair ‘covered/submerged in water’
sen-2 N, V N Large physical object or manifestation closhwb ‘block off’ segcloshwb ‘barrier’
she- N One who does, one of a group shoagcuan ‘learn’
perchelb ‘army’
sheshoagcw̑ ‘student’
sheperchelb ‘soldier’
sie- N N Abstract source alot ‘sun’ sielot ‘east’
soar- N N refuse or be unable ‘’ ‘’
-uedh N Abstract noun; manifestation, display wthuan ‘why?’
nycw̑ ‘sound'
shwth ‘wisdom’
wthuedh ‘reason’
nycuedh ‘volume'
shwthuedh ‘speech’
-uo̾ac N N, A (-o̾ac following i) Good, well done; appropriate; useful; good at (rare) esc̾il ‘soil’
p-llac ‘radish’
nuȏt-c ‘language’
esc̾iluo̾ac ‘good soil’
p-llacuo̾ac ‘beet’
nuȏt-cuo̾ac ‘articulate’
-uȏsh N N Augmentative l-asc ‘pot’
scochai ‘shaking’
l-ascuȏsh ‘cauldron’
scochaiuosh ‘earthquake’
-wr N, V N Something around or adjacent; something remaining from; result nypo ‘hole’
pair ‘water’
sapta ‘smash’
scoan ‘pile’
nypwr ‘edge’
pȃirwr ‘moisture’
saptwr ‘fragments’
scoanwr ‘remainder’
-y-n A, V V Causative (Rare) shaill ‘loose’ shȃilly-n ‘loosen’


Noun Phrases



Nouns in Melfwm are either singular or plural.

Singular-Plural Nouns

For most nouns, the basic form is singular, and a prefix is added to form the plural. The most common prefix is tan-. Before /k/, it is written tag- [taŋ].

ebas ‘friend’ (Sg) → tanebas (P)
mel ’person’ → tanmel
conoc ‘year’ → tagconoc

There are several regular stem changes following tan-:

  • Initial b becomes u /w/
  • Initial c before - becomes ch
  • Initial th becomes dh
  • Initial unstressed w /u/ becomes uo /wo/
  • Initial unstressed /i/ (only when spelled i, not y) is dropped (when this would produce an unallowed consonant cluster, there are various irregular forms instead)
basinin ‘tax’ → tanuasinin
c-lac ‘pond’ → tanch-lac
thac ‘step’ → tandhac
wlil ‘mine’ → tanuolil
iswp ‘shadow’ → tanswp
iciac ‘melon’ → tagciac
icnyn ‘pickaxe’ → tagcnyn

Before /n/, taf- [taβ] is usually used instead of tan-. For some nouns though, tan- is added, and the initial n of the stem is changed to t.

nwm ‘dress’ → tafnwm
noth ‘leg’ → tantoth

Many nouns are irregular, and take a different prefix, the most common of these being: lle-, noa-, sa-.

feloa ‘mouse’ → llefeloa
sachpe ‘cliff’ → noasachpe
shȏȃt ‘law, rule’ → sashȏȃt

Other nouns may undergo a change in the stem, either with one of the aforementioned prefixes or a rarer one; or they may use an altogether suppletive form. (The following examples are not exhaustive.)

nupwr ‘woman’ → sampwr
onȏan ‘bone’ → yntȏan
r-pon ’eye’ → r-an
lolw ’slave’ → t-shibȇt
Collective-Singulative Nouns

For many nouns, the plural is the basic form, and the singular is formed by adding the suffix -ȇgc (the syllable is unstressed) following a consonant, or -gc following a vowel. Unstressed -ȇgc is always written with an inverted breve, even when its lack of stress is predictable, as in oaroerȇgc below, where the penultimate syllable would be stressed anyway because it contains a diphthong.

scalch ‘brush, scrub’ → scalchȇgc ‘single brush-type plant’
scwr ‘traditions, body of tradition’ → scwrȇgc ‘single tradition’
oaroȇr /ɔˈro.ɛr/ ‘thorns’ → oaroerȇgc /ɔˈro̯͡ɛrɛnk/ ‘thorn’ (note: the stress shifts to the final syllable of the stem, and the previous vowel becomes diphthongized)
foȃ ‘wind(s)’ → foȃgc ˈgust of wind’

If the stem already ends in gc, it is reduced to c and then -egc is added (in this case the suffix is stressed).

ogc ‘sheep’ → ocegc ‘single sheep’
liuegc /liˈwɛnk/ ‘seaweed’ → liuecegc /liwɛˈkɛnk/ ‘piece of seaweed’

If the stem ends in c, -g- is inserted before the final consonant, without any additional suffix. The stress does not change.

oanyc /ɔˈnik/ ‘pests, vermin’ → oanygc /ɔˈnink/ ‘pest’
moantȏc /ˈmɔntok/ ‘herbs’ → moantȏgc /ˈmɔntonk/ ‘herb’

Several nouns of this type undergo stem changes as well, or are irregular in other ways:

llyb ‘weeds’ → llwȇgc ‘weed’
ryp ‘stars’ → ryfȇgc ‘star’
thyt ‘fish’ → thysȇgc ‘single fish’
ypl-p ‘salt’ → scaipl-p ‘grain of salt’
Plurale tantum

Some nouns lack a singulative form and occur only in the collective. These often refer to extreme events or emotional states, and most of them end in in (the following examples are not exhaustive): choaluin ‘siege,’ fwrwshin ‘dread,’ llen-sab ‘boredom,’ osc̾in ‘torture,’ swlwfin ‘panic, terror.’


There are six methods of forming the definite form of a noun, all involving an alteration to the final syllable, or an addition following it:

  1. Apply (a) if there is a final vowel, and (b) whether there is or isn't:
    1. Drop final vowel
    2. add --ch /ə̥χ/
  2. Add -l after vowel*
  3. Add -c at end of word*
  4. Shift stress to final syllable
  5. Apply one of the following sound changes to the vowel:
    1. a, e /a ɛ/: → w /u/
    2. o, oa /o ɔ/ → ȏa /o̯͡a/
    3. w /u/ → oe /o̯͡ɛ/
    4. y, i /i/ → -a /ə͡a̯/ or ia /ja/
  6. Add -a

*Note: The regular rules of stress assignment apply here, so the addition of a consonant will often, but not always, cause the stress to shift to the final syllable.

Which of these methods is used is dependent on the coda, stress, and other qualities of the final syllable of the noun stem. There is not a one-to-one relationship between the characteristics of the stem and the type of alteration used to form the definite. Rather, various conditions make use of the same method, and where two conditions apply, two methods are used (i.e., the stem is doubly marked). Below is a chart of the conditions, each of which is labeled with a letter, and the method used for each, referring to (1-6) above. Examples are given for each type, including for doubly-marked forms. Monosyllabic words are considered stressed.

Ends with Stress Specific phonemes Condition Method Indefinite Definite
Vowel Unstressed i or /i u/ [1] A 1 elisti /ɛˈlisti/
eshigcw̑ /ɛˈʃinku/
sheshoagcw̑ /ʃɛˈʃɔnku/
mydhw̑ /ˈmiðu/
atiw̑ /aˈti.u/
elist-ch /ɛˈlistə̥χ/
eshigc-ch /ɛˈʃinkə̥χ/
sheshoagch-ch /ʃɛˈʃɔχə̥χ/ [2]
myth-ch /ˈmiθə̥χ/ [3]
ati-ch /aˈti.ə̥χ/
/ɔ/ (oa or ȏȃ) B 2 feloa /ˈɸɛlɔ/
rwnȏȃ /ˈruno̯͡ɔ/
feloal /ɸɛˈlɔl/
rwnȏȃl /ruˈno̯͡ɔl/
Other vowel C 3 idhe /ˈiðɛ/
soembe /ˈso̯͡ɛmbɛ/
foȃ /ˈɸo.a/
teny /ˈtɛni/
marmai /ˈmarma͡ɪ̯/
idhec /iˈðɛk/
soembec /ˈso̯͡ɛmbɛk/
foac /ɸo̯͡ak/ [3]
tenyc /tɛˈnik/
marmaic /marˈma͡ɪ̯k/
Stressed D 3 petw /pɛˈtu/
thy /θi/
pluȃ /plu͡a̯/
petwc /pɛˈtuk/
thyc /θik/
pluȃc /plu͡a̯k/
C Unstressed Final consonant: n s l E 3 & 4 ory̑s /ˈoris/ orysc /oˈrisk/
Final consonant other than n s l F 4 shirȇc /ˈʃirɛk/
llefoȇr /ɬɛˈɸo.ɛr/
lleroo̾ap /ɬɛˈro.ɔp/
llan-sh /ˈɬanə̥ʃ/
shirec /ʃiˈrɛk/
llefoer /ɬɛˈɸo̯͡ɛr/ [4]
llerȏȃp /ɬɛˈro̯͡ɔp/ [4]
llanesh /ɬaˈnɛʃ/ [3]
Stressed Diphthong followed by consonant other than n s l G 1 poet /po̯͡ɛt/ poet-ch /ˈpo̯͡ɛtə̥χ/
/ɔ/ followed by: p b t c ch H 2 Applies only in combination with G or J, see below
Final consonant: n s l I 3 onȏan /oˈno̯͡an/ onȏagc /oˈno̯͡ank/
Monophthong J 5 risar /riˈsar/
pwnief /pwˈnjɛɸ/
isnoch /isˈnoχ/
lloash /ɬɔʃ/
saptwr /sapˈtur/
syb /sib/
lushit /luˈʃit/
riswr /riˈsur/
pwniwf /pwˈnjuɸ/
isnȏach /isˈno̯͡aχ/
llȏash /ɬo̯͡aʃ/
saptoer /sapˈto̯͡ɛr/
s-ab or siab /sə͡a̯b sjab/
lush-at /luʃə͡a̯t/ [6]
G & H 1 & 2 shȏȃt /ʃo̯͡ɔt/ shȏȃlt-ch /ˈʃo̯͡ɔltə̥χ/
H & J 2 & 5 senoap /sɛˈnɔp/
euoab /ɛˈwɔb/
senȏalp /sɛˈno̯͡alp/
eualb /ɛˈwalb/ [7]
I & J 3 & 5 scyl /skil/
san /san/
sc-alc or scialc /skə͡a̯lk skjalk/
swgc /sunk/
CC Unstressed K 4 caibent /ˈka͡ɪ̯bɛnt/ cȃibent /ka͡ɪ̯ˈbɛnt/
Stressed L 1 scalch /skalχ/
choagc /χɔnk/
scalch-ch /ˈskalχə̥χ/
choagch-ch /ˈχɔχə̥χ/ [2]
6 scalch /skalχ/
choagc /χɔnk/
scalcha /ˈskalχa/
choagca /ˈχɔnka/


  1. This only includes the monophthong /i/ when spelled i. If i is part of the diphthong ai /a͡ɪ̯/, or /i/ is spelled y, it is lumped with the other vowels in Condition C.
  2. Following oa or o /ɔ o/, final gc /nk/ becomes gch /χ/ (the g here is silent) before this suffix
  3. Regular sound change of dhth before - /ə̥/
  4. Regular sound change to diphthong
  5. Regular sound change of - /ə̥/ → e /ɛ/ when stressed
  6. Following /ʃ/, only /ə͡a̯/ occurs, because the sequence /ʃj/ is not allowed
  7. Regular sound change: /wo͡a̯/ → /wa/

Several regular alternations occur in final stressed syllables ending in a consonant cluster. Final lb becomes lu /lw/ before -ch and a; and final mp is reduced to m before -ch only:

pwrchelb ‘army’ → pwrchelu-ch /purˈχɛlwə̥χ/ or pwrchelua
poemp ‘mask’ → poem-ch or poempa

There are also many irregular definite forms, such as the following:

es-chȇgc ‘wolf’ → esech
font ‘spear’ → fȏant
fwrwshin ‘pond’ → fwrwshigc
ichail /iˈχa͡ɪl/ ‘fool’ → ichael /iχaˈɛl/
pair ‘water’ → pȃiref
poaȏs ‘carcass’ → posc
shepal ‘girl’ → sh-p-al
telȇsh ‘task’ → teli-ch [note pronunciation: /ˈtɛljə̥χ/, unlike ati-ch /aˈti.ə̥χ/ in the chart above]
thaill /θa͡ɪ̯ɬ/ ‘worm’ → thaiill /θaˈjiɬ/
wlil /uˈlil/ ‘mine’ → wlielc /ulˈjɛlk/

Singulative nouns (usually ending in -ȇgc) form the definite in a special way: the end of the word changes to -ecna. This applies to regular as well as most irregular singulative forms:

cwuampȇgc ‘shoe’ → cwuampecna ‘the shoe’
ocegc ‘sheep’ → ocecna
oaroerȇgc ‘thorn’ → oaroerecna
ryfȇgc ‘star’ → ryfecna
thysȇgc ‘fish’ → thysecna
oanygc ‘pest’ → oanecna
teligc ‘ant’ → telecna

There are also some exceptional singulative forms, such as the following:

basinȇgc ‘tax’ → basicna
ygc ‘option’ → ygcna
rwmegc ‘explanation, detail’ → rwmesh

Collective nouns ending in -in form the definite regularly, by adding -c: fwrwshin ‘dread’ → fwrwshigc.


Pres Past Irrealis
Sg Pl Sg Pl Sg Pl
1 y tany ym tanim yllw tanllw
2 ch tanch mach tamech lluech tanlluech
3 m cen ten cem tem cenllw tenllw
f lef t-llef lem t-llem lefllw t-llefllw
n nipes t-ni nipem t-nim nillw t-nillw
i ro tarw rom tarwm rollw tarollw
3 Pr m can tan cam tam canllw tanllw
f laf t-llaf lam t-llam lafllw t-llafllw
n nepas t-nai nepam t-naim nellw t-nellw
i io ro ioam roam ioallw roallw
3 nr scoi scom scollw
Pres Past Irrealis
Sg Pl Sg Pl Sg Pl
1 y ’y tany ’ty ym ’ym saim ’aim yllw ’yll tanllw ’tall
2 ch ’ch tanch ’anch mach ’ach pwch ’wch lluech ’lluech t-lluech ’t-ch
3 m cen ’cen ten ’ten cem ’em tem ’em cellw ’cell tellw ’tell
f lef ’lef t-llef ’llef lem ’em t-llem ’em lellw ’lell t-llw ’t-ll
n nipes ’pes t-fes ’fes nipem ’em t-fem ’em nillw ’nill t-fell ’llw
i io ’io ruȏ ’rw ioam ’ioam rwm ’wm iollw ’ioll rullw ’rull
nr scoi scoi posc posc scom scom poscom com scollw scoll pollw poll
3 Proximate m can ’can tan ’tan cam ’am tam ’am canllw ’canllw tanllw ’tanllw
f laf ’laf t-llaf ’t-llaf lam ’am t-llam ’am lafllw ’lafllw t-llafllw ’t-llafllw
n t-fas ’fas t-naim ’t-naim t-nellw ’t-nellw
i ro ’ro noar ’oar rom ’om noam ’oam rollw ’roll noallw ’noall
Pres Past Irrealis
Sg Pl Sg Pl Sg Pl
1 y ’y nigc ’nu/’agc ym ’um nwm ’num lloay ’lly lloegc ’ll-c
2 ch ’ch tanch ’t-ch mach ’ach mapwch ’wch lloech ’ll-ch t-lloech ’ll-ch
3 m cen ’cen ten ’ten cwt ’cwt/’gcwt tem ’em cellw ’cell tellw ’tell
f lef ’lef t-llef ’llef laim ’em t-llem ’em lellw ’lell t-llw ’t-ll
n nipes ’pes t-fes ’fes nipem ’em t-fem ’em nillw ’nill t-fell ’llw
i io ’io/’ro ruȏ ’rw ioam ’ioam rwm ’wm iollw ’ioll rullw ’rull
nr scoi scoi posc posc scom scom poscom com scollw scoll pollw poll
3 Proximate m can tan cam tam canllw tanllw
f laf t-llaf lam t-llam lafllw t-llafllw
n t-fas ’fas t-naim ’t-naim t-nellw ’t-nellw
i ro ’ro noar ’oar rom ’om noam ’oam rollw ’roll noallw ’noall


acegc (pl. tagcegc) each (of)

afnot (pl. tafnot) most

llif (pl. t-llif) all

oathoath somewhere, wherever

oc this, that

oel certain, particular, specific

pw (pl. noapw̑) some (of)

sciwt same, own


Melfwm forms its numbers using the bases 8 (ra-p), 16 (mera-p), 64 (pȏant-p), and 256 (cemaint). In complex numbers, the smaller one always precedes the larger. Numbers 0–8 are unanalyzable. The formation of numbers 9–15 is not straightforward, but there is a clear historical fusion of 8 (ra-p) with 1-7.

16 is also based on ra-p, with a unique prefix. Further multiple of 8, up to 64, are formed by preposing the multiplier to 8, as in 24: ieth ra-p (literally 3 8). The exception is 32 (ledh‘pȏant-p) (literally ‘half-64’). The number 40 also deviates slightly: rather than *sec-ri r-ap, the two fuse to sec-rya-p /sɛkə̥rˌiˈa͡ə̯p/. Increments between multiples of 8 are formed by preposing a number 1-7, followed by ’ansh (from tansh ‘over’), to the larger number, as in 17: egc’ansh mera-p ‘one over 16.’

Multiples of eight between 64 and 128 are formed by conjoining a smaller multiple of 8 with 64, using the conjunction ar ‘and,’ as in 112: nysc ra-p ar pȏant-p ‘6[×]8 and 64.’ As before, increments between these multiples are formed by preposing a smaller number with ’ansh, as in 117: sec-ri’ansh nysc ra-p ar pȏant-p ‘5 over 6[×]8 and 64.’

128 is ledh’cemaint (literally ‘half-256). Numbers between 128 and 256 are formed by conjoining a smaller number with 128, using ar, as in 255 lwt’ansh lwt ra-p ar pȏant-p ar ledh’cemaint ‘7 over 7[×]8 and 64 and 128.’

256 is cemaint. Multiples of 256 are formed by preposing a multiplier, as in 1,024: twman cemaint ‘4[×]256.’ Increments between multiples are formed by conjoining a smaller number with ar, as in 2,450: push’ansh mera-p ar ledh‘cemaint ar ragc cemaint ‘2 over 16 and 128 and 9[×]256.’

When composing complex numbers, 1-16 are always joined to higher ones using ’ansh, and numbers above 16 are joined using ar.

0 choef 8 ra-p 16 mera-p 64 pȏant-p 128 ledh’cemaint
1 egc 9 ragc 17 egc’ansh mera-p 72 ra-p ar pȏant-p 136 ra-p ar ledh’cemaint
2 pwsh 10 rapwsh 18 pwsh’ansh mera-p 80 mera-p ar pȏant-p 255 lwt’ansh lwt ra-p ar pȏant-p ar ledh’cemaint
3 ieth 11 raith 24 ieth ra-p 88 ieth ra-p ar pȏant-p
4 twman 12 ratwman 32 ledh‘pȏant-p 96 twman ra-p ar pȏant-p 256 cemaint
5 sec-ri 13 rasry 40 sec-rya-p 104 sec-rya-p ar pȏant-p 384 ledh‘cemaint ar cemaint
6 nysc 14 ranysc 48 nysc ra-p 112 nysc ra-p ar pȏant-p 512 pwsh cemaint
7 lwt 15 raplwt 56 lwt ra-p 120 lwt ra-p ar pȏant-p 768 ieth cemaint

Fractions: let (ledh’) ‘half,’ sinyr ‘less than half,’ afnot ‘more than half, most’


Phrase Structure


Verb Phrases


1 2 3
Intransitive -e wch-/u-/-ch -ia
Transitive indefinite -e wch-/u-/-ch   -o -(t)o
Transitive definite -w wch-/u-/-ch   -w -(t)w
Transitive 1/2 -w wch-/u-/-ch   -w -
Allative -(i)ȃs wch-/u-/-ch   -a -ȃs
Ablative -ȇc wch-/u-/-ch   -c -iȃc
Locative -ie wch-/u-/-ch   -ra -ia
Perlative -(n)uo̾at wch-/u-/-ch   -(n)uo̾at -io̾ant
Sentential -fe wch-/u-/-ch   -fe -fi
1 2 3
Intransitive canie chan cania
Transitive indefinite canie chanio canto
Transitive definite caniw chaniw cantw
Transitive 1/2 caniw chaniw caniuȃ
Allative caniȃs chania caniȃs
Ablative ecanie echan ecania
Locative canie chanra cania
Perlative canuo̾at chanuo̾at canio̾at
Sentential canfe chanfe canfi

Irregular Verbs

as Subject
1 2 3
Intransitive ais /a͡ɪ̯s/ uas /was/ asia /ˈasja/
Allative aichuȃs /ˈa͡ɪ̯χwas/ uaicha /ˈwa͡ɪ̯χa/ aichȃs /ˈa͡ɪ̯χas/
Ablative iase /ˈjasɛ/ echas /ɛˈχas/ iasia /ˈjasja/
Locative asie /ˈasjɛ/ uasra /ˈwasra/ asia /ˈasja/
Perlative aichuo̾at /ˈa͡ɪ̯χwɔt/ uaichuo̾at /ˈwa͡ɪ̯χwɔt/ aichuo̾at /ˈa͡ɪ̯χwɔt/
uan Subject
1 2 3
Intransitive ue /wɛ/ uy /wi/ wia /ˈuja/
Allative ias /jas/ uiua /ˈwiwa/ uas /was/
Ablative eue /ˈɛwɛ/ euy /ˈɛwi/ eia /ˈɛja/
Locative uie /ˈwi.ɛ/ uira /ˈwira/ uia /ˈwi.a/
Perlative ninuo̾at /ˈninwɔt/ uchninuo̾at /uχˈninwɔt/ ninio̾at /ˈninjɔt/


Various Constructions


Questions and Answers

Default Past Irrealis Contrast
WHAT pesoch /pɛˈsoχ/ n. (pl. poȇsoch /po̯͡ɛˈsoχ/) what? celchw̑ /ˈkɛlχu/ (also celch /kɛlχ/) n. (pl. ismagchl-ch /isˈmaχlə̥χ/) what? pesochuȋsh /pɛˈsoχwiʃ/ n. (pl. poesochuȋsh /po̯͡ɛˈsoχwiʃ/) what then?
NAME dhoeluot /ˈðo̯͡ɛlwot/ n. what name? what is it called? pedhoeluot /pɛˈðo̯͡ɛlwot/ n. what name? what would/should/will it called?
SPEECH pemarw̑ /pɛˈmaru/ n. what? (referring to something spoken) sygchot /siˈχot/ a. saying what? (past) pesygchot /pɛsiˈχot/ a. saying what? (future or present)
WHO / WHICH fan /ɸan/ n. (pl. noaf-nt /ˈnɔɸə̥nt/) who? eslȏc /ˈɛslok/ n. (pl. poesl-c /ˈpo̯͡ɛslə̥k/) who? scaniot /skanˈjot/ n. (pl. noascani-t /nɔˈskanjə̥t/) 1. who?; 2. then who?
fanot /ɸaˈnot/ adv. because of whom?, for whom?
rarot /raˈrot/ v-t. with whom?
cfoar /kɸɔr/ n. (pl. tecf-r /ˈtɛkfə̥r/) which, which one? scachuoar /skaˈχwɔr/ n. (pl. noascachu-r /nɔˈskaχwə̥r/) then which, which one?
INSTANCES / DURATION pechoch /pɛˈχoχ/ adv. 1. which time?; 2. how many times? ycreo̾at /iˈkrɛ.ɔt/ adv. how much longer?, how many more times?
p-creo̾at /pə̥ˈkrɛ.ɔt/ adv. how much longer is something possible?, how many more times is something possible?
QUANTITY / DEGREE iiesc /iˈjɜsk/ adv. how much?, how many? peoscan /pɛ.oˈskan/ v-s. to what extent?, how much? (how much one ground one should cover, or how many of something one should act on)
p-uys-t /pə̥ˈwisə̥t/ adv. how little?
punoch-t /puˈnoχə̥t/ a. how big?, how much?
paltot /palˈtot/ adv. how far?, how close?, what distance?
WHEN saich /sa͡ɪ̯χ/ adv. when? pesarboa /pɛˈsarbɔ/ adv. when?
WHERE (macro) metot /mɛˈtot/ n. (pl. sametot /samɛˈtot/) where? catot /kaˈtot/ a. where? (referring to an available space to do something)
WHERE (micro) iptetot /iptɛˈtot/ n. (pl. toeftetot /to̯͡ɛɸtɛˈtot/) which part?, which side? echoasy /ɛˈχɔsi/ n. where?, where exactly? (specific, finer scaled; rhetorical, when one expects to see something but doesn't)
plwdh /pluð/ adv. which part?, where? (on the body): wlb ch plwdh? ‘where does it hurt?’
p-snofont /pə̥snoˈɸont/ adv. which way? which direction? where exactly? (how to arrange objects)
HOW fom /ɸom/ v-i. how? pwl-sot /pulə̥ˈsot/ adv. how should...? chȏauȋsh /ˈχo̯͡awiʃ/ adv. how then?
WHY wthuan /uˈθwan/ v-i. why? pwthuan /puˈθwan/ v-i. why?
sceltot /skɛlˈtot/ adv. for what reason?, why?, with what justification?
YES/NO ceb /kɛb/ adv. at all?, ever?
sh-tot /ʃə̥ˈtot/ adv. really?, indeed?
finot /ɸiˈnot/ i. is this wrong?, am I wrong?, that's wrong
sciot /skjot/ adv. like this?, this way? sciotauȋsh /skjoˈtawiʃ/ adv. like this then?, this way then?
paneb /paˈneb/ adv. is it allowed?, is it permitted?
s-gchoat /sə̥ˈχɔt/ adv. 1. again?; 2. try again? attempt again?; 3. try?, make an effort?
ATTRIBUTES dhoauȏt /ˈðɔwot/ adv. 1. how high, how tall?; 2. where (in the sky, on the ceiling, etc.); 3. where?, up to where? (vertical dimension)
paliot /palˈjot/ a. (pl. poeliot /po̯͡ɛlˈjot/) what appearance?
pentȋc /ˈpɛntik/ a. (pl. poentic /po̯͡ɛntik/) what kind of, like what, like who?
pwshyrȃn /puˈʃiran/ v-i. be how old?
pechystiet /pɛχisˈtjɛt/ v-i. be related in what way? (family relation)
CONDITIONS penoetyscet /pɛno̯͡ɛtiˈskɛt/ v-i. 1. be sick?, be ill?, be hurt?; 2. be sick or hurt how?; 3. what's wrong with?
ruesh /rwɛʃ/ n. what emotion, feeling, state?
OTHER pesanyman /pɛsaniˈman/ v-ab., v-s. what does someone remember about?
sybȏȃuet /sibo̯͡ɔˈwɛt/ v-i. do what?; v-t. do what with/to
syplwtachan /siplutaˈχan/ v-i. think about what?; v-t., v-s. what does what think about ...?
eshc-fot /ɛʃkə̥ˈɸot/ adv. how likely?
lwrot /luˈrot/ n. which? how? what? (to clarify intention); d. whichever, however, whatever
mwr /mur/ i. what?, well? (prompting someone to say something) scoalb /skɔlb/ n. what else?, what next?; i. what else? what next?, continue, and then what?
tuol /twol/ i., adv. how can it be?, what happened?, how is it that ...?
pechlaleb /pɛχlaˈlɛb/ v-i. (pl. poechlaleb /po̯͡ɛχlaˈlɛb/) speak/use which language?
pemydhw̑ /pɛˈmiðu/ n. which family?
teb-th /ˈtɛbə̥θ/ n. (pl. noath-b /ˈnɔθə̥b/) which (particular) animal?
peshapw̑ /pɛˈʃapu/ n. (pl. poeshapw̑ /po̯͡ɛˈʃapu/) which (kind of) animal?
pechemuȏt /pɛχɛˈmu͡o̯t/ n. (pl. poechemuȏt /po̯͡ɛχɛˈmu͡o̯t/) what/which drink?
mystot /misˈtot/ n. (pl. poemystot /po̯͡ɛmisˈtot/) what/which food?