Gweydr Adjectives

Gweydr adjectives are slightly interesting and deserve discussion. I suppose that goes without saying, though, for it seems like everything is deserving of discussion these days.


Adjectival Basics

When you encounter something that is called an adjective in a language you've just discovered it should give you pause. Adjectives are very strange animals and can do things one would not predict. And sometimes adjectives aren't adjectives at all, but verbs or nouns. The only real reason that there is a solid category "adjective" is because linguistics is the darling of Indo-Europeans. If it weren't—if it were, say, dominated by those who spoke Austronesian languages—who knows? Perhaps what you and I know as an adjective wouldn't exist at all.

The point of that homilee was to let you know, if you already didn't, that the word "adjective" shouldn't be taken very lightly by a language creator. If one creates a language that has nouns, verbs, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions, with clear distinctions that look a lot like English (or Spanish or French), there's a chance that such a one has missed out on something important. Anyway...

Gweydr has adjectives that are actually adjectives. That is, the adjectives are separate things, and are thought of as belonging to a distinct category, the way they're not in Zhyler, Kamakawi, Sathir, Njaama, Epiq, and Sheli (though I will note that one could argue that all roots are actually adjectival in Zhyler). There are words whose base meaning and sole meaning are adjectival in nature, and can only modify nouns. Thus, the word 'ís, "red", means "red", and only "red". Not "redness", or "rouge", or "blush", or "reddening": Just "red". Like adjectives in English, though (and many other languages, most likely), it can be used metonymically as a noun. Thus, if there are a bunch of blocks on the floor, and you want to build a brick house, you could say to someone else, "Could you please hand me the reds". This noun is not a very nouny noun, in my opinion, but more of an adjectival noun. It can be easily replaced by "the red blocks" or "the red ones". The same thing can be done in Gweydr. Other than that, though, adjectives are adjectives. With that said, I can now describe how they're used.


Atrributive Adjectives I: The Basics

The simplest kind of adjective in Gweydr is the attributive adjective. This is an adjective not unlike the word for "red" mentioned above. These types of adjectives:

  1. Precede the noun(s) they modify.
  2. Agree in case with the noun(s) they modify.
  3. Do not agree in number with the noun(s) they modify.

So if you wanted to say "red dog" in Gweydr, you'd simply translate both words directly to get 'ís ĥórs. In this example, the both the noun and adjective are in the nominative case. Before moving on, since we have two words that begin with glottals already, I should mention that adjectives also obey the declension rules that nouns do when it comes to consonant mutation, but they do not have different stems. So while the plural of ĥórs is ĥôrs, you could never find an adjective that has an internal vowel change.

Just to get an idea of how these adjectives look, here's a table with a few adjectives in a few different declensions (again, adjectives come first; nouns come second):

  Examples
Form Meaning
Nominative 'ís ĥórs red dog
Terminative kígwór kixtos up to the large house
Partitive rákámíš râğûzôks of the purple boots
Genitive fügöntôwš fûdlé of the golden city
Instrumental tážóx túčézíks with rusty axes

The above is kind of reminiscent of Swahili, except that in Swahili it's noun class prefixes rather than noun case prefixes that appear at the head of each adjective/noun pairing (oh, and in Swahili, adjectives follow nouns rather than precede them. But that's neither here nor there).


Atrributive Adjectives II: Adding Multiple Adjectives

A noun can take multiple adjectives which are added in order of importance, much like English (where the adjective that best characterizes the noun is closest to it). Thus, the order can vary. Sticking with English, imagine you wanted to use "big" and "black" in reference to a dog. The natural order would be "big black dog". But what if you're talking about big dogs? Say someone asks you, "Which big dog do you like best?" You might respond, "The black big dog". Of course, as I type this, I realize the more natural response would be, "The big black dog"... Anyway, the point is that there's a kind of natural ordering that adjectives have. I believe the driving principle is what speakers of a language consider important, but what is considered important can differ from language to language. And, in fact, the order of adjectives differs in Gweydr from English. This is what the order looks like:

[NUMBER] [QUALITY] [COLOR] [SIZE] [NOUN]

Let me give you an adjective of each of these types so you can see what I mean. Sticking with our dog (ĥórs), a dog can be black (jél), a dog can be big (gwór), a dog can be strong (yerd), and (I've heard) dogs can, in fact, come in twos (ténd). So, if you want to have two, big, strong, black Gweydry dogs, you say...

Ténd yerd, jél, gwór ĥôrs.

Something I just thought of has to do with demonstratives. In Gweydr, there are three demonstrative clitics which amount to something like this (le-), that (sa-), and that there yonder (fi-). These clitics attach only to nouns. So, even though in English you'd say "these two big strong black dogs", in Gweydr the clitic would attach to directly (and solely) to the noun, giving you:

Ténd yerd, jél, gwór łôrs.

And a schematic order that looks like this:

[NUMBER] [QUALITY] [COLOR] [SIZE] [DEM. CLITIC]-[NOUN]


Atrributive Adjectives III: Predicative Uses

Like English, Gweydr has a word "to be", and adjectives can follow it. This is commonly referred to as a predicative use of an adjective. Gweydr differs from English, though, in that there's a special "to be" verb used when an adjectival predicate is desired, and the form the adjective takes can differ, depending on the desired meaning.

First thing's first. The adjectival "to be" verb is lôžôš. (Hee, hee... Check that out. The carons/circumflexes are dancing! Or maybe it's a flock of birds. Or bats.) So if you want to say the dog is black in Gweydr, you say:

Ŕórs lôžôt jél.

What you've got above is "dog" in the partitive case. This is because "dog" is the subject of lôžôš, which is an experiencer verb. Experiencer verbs assign the partitive case to their subjects and the nominative case to their objects. In that way, the adjective (jél in the example above) acts like the object of the verb lôžôš, as it's put into the nominative case.


Atrributive Adjectives IV: Comparison

So the above works fine for sentences like "the dog is black", or even "the dog was black", or "the saline level was insufficient". However, since category membership is, at best, a fuzzy enterprise, you've got to be able to compare candidates somehow. Gweydr, like all other languages, can do this. Gweydr doesn't have any special suffixes or prefixes that handle comparison, per se. In order to say that x is more y than z, or that x is the most y, you have to use a phrasal construction. Here's a table that'll make it look fancy:

  Examples
Form Meaning
Normal Ŕórs lôžôt jél. The dog is black.
Comparative Ŕórs lôžôt wéjél (þwöskenü). The dog is blacker (than the cat).
Superlative Ŕórs lôžôt kíjél ('ûmôrs). The dog is the blackest (of dogs).
Contrastive Ŕórs lôžôt þíjél (þwöskenü). The dog is less black (than the cat).
Pejorative Ŕórs lôžôt díjél ('ûmôrs). The dog is least black (of dogs).
Equative Ŕórs lôžôt âljél (älwöskenü). The dog is as black (as the cat).

At first glance, it probably looks like the adjective is getting a prefix. And it is. But it's not getting any special prefix. The astute reader will notice that the prefixes the adjective gets are identical to certain nominal case prefixes. So here some notes on the above:

  • To form the comparative, attach the allative case prefix to the adjective, and put the object of comparison in the ablative case.
  • To form the superlative, attach the terminative case prefix to the adjective, and put the group of which the subject of lôžôš is the most whatever in the elative case.
  • To form the contrastive, attach the ablative case prefix to the adjective, and put the object of comparison in the ablative case.
  • To form the pejorative, attach the abessive case prefix to the adjective, and put the group of which the subject of lôžôš is the least whatever in the elative case.
  • To form the equative, attach the essive case prefix to both the adjective and the object to which the subject of lôžôš is being compared.

In English you can say something like, "The blacker dog ran fast", or, "The blackest dog has the wetest tongue". In Gweydr you can't do this in this way: you have to use a relative clause. Thus, it's not, "The blackest dog has the wetest tongue", but "The dog who is blackest has the tongue which is wetest". Here's an example:

Ĥórs rädeks kíjél lôžôt hinti râdôw.

The sentence above means, "The blackest dog found a bone". Literally, it is, "The dog who blackest is found a bone". That's how you have to do in Gweydr.


Atrributive Adjectives V: Postnominal Positioning

In English, adjectives come before nouns. But they can come after, every now and then. For example, the Secretary General is not some sort of secretary that commands an army, but the general secretary. Additionally, there's phrases such as, "A man alone can effect no change". In this sentence, "alone" is not an adverb, but an adjective modifying "man". The phrase "a man alone" is used on its own by Robert De Niro in one of the best movies ever made. Anyway, in Gweydr, adjectives can either precede or follow the nouns they modify, but the meaning and rules change a bit.

When an adjective precedes a noun, it agrees with the noun in case, but not in number. When an adjective follows a noun, however, it agrees with the noun it modifies in both case and number. Here's a quick example:

  1. Kámíš xûzôks, "purple boots".
  2. Xûzôks kámížíks, "purple boots".

Additionally, when the adjective is in postnominal position, it's focused, in a way—emphasized. Specifically, it makes clear the fact that of the class of x nouns you're discussing, it's the y type nouns you want to talk about (where y is an adjective).

Because of this special semantic baggage postnominal position carries with it, some adjectives have aquired different meanings. So, for example, the adjective 'ûm means "few", in prenominal position. In post-nominal position, though, it means "unacceptably few". So if you wanted to say, "give me a few peanuts", you'd only use prenominal 'ûm. If you wanted to say, "There aren't enough peanuts", though, you'd use postnominal 'ûm. The difference in meaning is slight, but important. This is the case with most adjectives where the meaning differs depending on whether the adjective comes before or after the noun it modifies.


Predicative Adjective

To round out this adjectival discussion, I'd like to bring up a small class of deviant Gweydry adjectives known as predicate adjectives. We've kind of got these things in English. So, this would be something like the word "afraid". You can't say *"the afraid man", but you can say, "The man is afraid". Thus, the word "afraid" can only be used predicatively (i.e., after a verb). The same is true of a small number of adjectives in Gweydr.

For example, let's take the adjective xorpiks, which means "dizzy" or "disoriented". Thus, like all adjectives, it can appear in a sentence like this:

Ŕórs lôžôt xorpiks.

The above means "the dog is dizzy". This any adjective can do. What's different about predicative adjectives is that they cannot appear prenominally. Thus, the following is impossible:

*xorpiks ĥórs

However, one thing that predicative adjectives can do is they can occur postnominally, just like ordinary adjectives. Thus, you can say:

ĥórs xorpiks

And, like all adjectives that occur postnominally, the noun and adjective must agree in number as well as case:

ĥôrs þlöspürkäs

The adjective above means what I would define as "twitterpated". Thus, the above sentence means "the twitterpated dogs". Something of note: Both plurals are irregular. The plural of ĥórs is ĥôrs, where the vowel is fronted. To pluralize an adjective you generally just add the plural suffix -ks, but after a velar consonant, the -ks suffix becomes -s, via a regular phonological rule.


The Last Paragraph

Just about every web page I have here has a final paragraph that's of a certain size. I like these paragraphs because they kind of give the page a certain look. Huh, look at that: The word "certain" in each of the last two sentences. I feel like Stephen King. Or a real hack, like Ernest Hemingway. Anyway, this paragraph is about the right size now, so I'll leave it at this.

Back to Gweydr Main

This page was last modified on Wednesday, March 4, 2009.
This website was last modified on .
This page can be viewed normally, as a milk or dark chocolate bar, in sleek black and white, or in many other ways!
All languages, fonts, pictures, and other materials copyright © 2003- David J. Peterson.

free counters