X Determinatives

Unless you're big on hieroglyphs (or you do something really bizarre and deviant, like create languages), you probably don't know what a determinative is. Thus, determinatives are a good place to start in describing X. This page will describe what determinatives are, how they're used in X, and why without them, the language X couldn't function.


What's a Determinative?

The term "determinative" is something I borrowed directly from Middle Egyptian, and has nothing to do with the cases of Gweydr. In Middle Egyptian, you have a bunch of funky pictures which stand for words. At the end of these pictures, come certain types of pictures which do nothing more than tell you what type of word you're looking at. In a way, they're a lot like noun class markers, except that in Middle Egyptian, there was no phonological material which corresponded with the determinatives (i.e., they were orthographic only), and their functionality was limited.

In X, I've taken the idea of Egyptian determinatives (which could be applied to any word, not just nouns), and combined them with the idea of noun classes, à la Zhyler. Thus, in a way, you can think of determinatives as tones. How do you know the difference between the ma that means "mother" and the ma that means "horse" in Chinese? You listen for the tone. How do you tell the difference between the picture of an eye which means "eye" and the picture of an eye which means "read" in X? You check the determinative. It's that simple. Now let me explain how it isn't so simple.


How Determinatives Work

Until now, I've gotten away without showing any pictures. No more! We're now going to have to look at some X. So, without further ado, let's X it up, yo.

Below are two words that have been mentioned before. One is "read" and the other is "eye". Take a look:

eye and read

It should be pretty easy to guess which one is which. To confirm, the first is the symbol for "eye" and the second is the symbol for "read". Additionally, the first is a noun, and the second is a verb (basically). How do you know that? Actually, you don't. This is because any glyph can be used as a noun or a verb. For example, if you used "eye" as a verb, it would means something like "to see", but with attention focused on the eye itself, as opposed to the action (for the latter, you'd use the normal glyph for "to see"). Additionally, "read" could be used as a noun, and would mean "reading". To determine whether something is a noun in a verb in the sentence, you have to know the syntax.

For a quick rundown, in a sentence of X, the verb comes first. One knows that the verb is coming because the tense obligatorily precedes the verb. Additionally, a focus marker comes between the verb and the tense (this will be discussed in other sections). Then after the verb come the nouns, which are marked for their role in the sentence, except for the first one. So how do you know where the verb ends and the first noun begins? That's where determiners come in.

Let's take this simple sentence below:

The frog saw the horse.

The above means, "The frog saw the horse". First you have the tense marker (the dot before the sun), then comes the trigger (indicates that the subject of the sentence is the experiencer of the verb. It's the warm person), then comes the verb ("to see", eye followed by the spiral), then comes the noun dominated by the trigger (the frog followed by the infinity sign), then come the rest of the nouns (in this case, the stimulus, marked by the sun, which is the horse). Everything is clearly marked except the subject of the sentence. How to tell where it begins and the verb ends? The mandatory determinative. All substantives (nouns or verbs) in X must end with a determinative, and nothing which follows a determinative may refer to the previous word. Thus, the presence of determinatives helps to disambiguate clauses in X.


Determinatives and Derivation

That's how determinatives work in the syntax of X. Now I'll describe how they work to derive substantives.

As shown above, you can get different substantives by adding different determinatives. Additionally, though, you can stack determinatives to further derive words. Thus, you can get a string of determinatives after an initial glyph. Here's an example:

To bend, to bow, sycophant.

The first glyph on the left is the bending man followed by the down arrow (determinative 46), and it simply means "to bend down", or "to bend over". In the next glyph, the cloud determinative (determinative 14) has been added. This modifies the meaning of "bend" to mean "bow". With the final glyph, the line determinative is added (determinative 43), and now you get a word meaning "sycophant"—that is, one who is constantly bowing.

Since it's come up, a quick orthographical point. There are three types of determinatives. The first type is the half-size determinative. This type of determinative can appear either to the top right or lower right of the main glyph, depending on whether other determinatives are present. These determinatives easily stack with one another. The second type of determinative is the full-size determinative. This determinative has the shape and size of a main glyph, and must be added after or before half-size determinatives (not over or under). The final type of determinative is the subterranean determinative, which goes under the main glyph. No matter what order this glyph is added in, it always goes directly under the main glyph. Additionally, these glyphs may not stack with other subterranean glyphs (for obvious reasons). An example of each type of glyph is given below (proceeding from left to right, with the determinatives highlighted in red):

Examples of half-size determinatives, full-size determinatives, and subterranean determinatives.

When reading, it's very important to memorize the full-size determinatives, as they can be confused with glyphs—and, indeed, they can all be used as main glyphs, too. Nevertheless, one will always be able to determine from context whether a full-size determinative is being used as a determinative or a glyph.


The Grand List of Determinatives

Since lists are all the rage now, I figured I'd make one with determinatives in it. Below are the fifty determinatives of X. The table below will be divided into columns, and these columns will contain the following information:

  1. The official number of the determinative (all determinatives are assigned numbers in X).
  2. A picture of the determinative modifying the spiral glyph.
  3. The determinative's type (half-size [half], full-size [full], or subterranean [sub]).
  4. The name of the determinative.
  5. The basic meanings associated with the determinative.

If it helps, you can see a similar list for a spoken conlang here located in the Sheli section. If it doesn't, then hopefully the good List will provide. Here it be:

# Determinative Type Name Uses
1 determinative 1 half Infinity This determinative is used to indicate that the intended meaning of the substantive is (to the extent possible) obvious (i.e., it is what it looks like, for the most part).
2 determinative 2 half Human This determinative is used to mark human nouns, or human-related substantives.
3 determinative 3 half Horse This determinative is used to mark mammalian animals other than humans.
4 determinative 4 half Bird This determinative is used to mark birds and other flying animals (including flying mammals, like bats). It can also be used generally to refer to flight.
5 determinative 5 full Fish This determinative is used to mark ocean animals that swim (including dolphins and whales, but excluding shellfish).
6 determinative 6 half Cobra This determinative is used to mark reptiles (not amphibians).
7 determinative 7 half Beetle This determinative is used to mark insects of all types.
8 determinative 8 half Clam This determinative is used to mark crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, clams, shrimp, etc.).
9 determinative 9 half Frog This determinative is reserved for all those lovable amphibians we've been hearing so much about in recent days.
10 determinative 10 full Palm This determinative is used to mark trees, bushes and shrubbery.
11 determinative 11 half Gem This determinative is used to mark stones (precious or otherwise), but also indicates stasis (and, in prepositions, the essive mode).
12 determinative 12 sub Water This determinative is used to mark water, liquid and other substances.
13 determinative 13 sub Land This determinative is used to mark land and other earth-related objects, as well as places.
14 determinative 14 half Cloud This determinative is used to mark sky-related objects, and also acts as a diminutive marker.
15 determinative 15 half Mountains The primary function of this determinative is to act as an augmentative marker.
16 determinative 16 half Rose This determinative is used to mark flowers and other small plants (not tree- or bush-like).
17 determinative 17 half Hammer This determinative is used to mark instruments, or things which can be suitably used as an instrument.
18 determinative 18 full Sword This determinative is used to mark weapons of any kind.
19 determinative 19 half House This determinative is used to mark buildings, places, and also places suitable for the glyph in question (an action, an object, etc.).
20 determinative 20 half Car This determinative is used to mark cars and other land vehicles.
21 determinative 21 half Boat This determinative is used to mark boats and other water vehicles.
22 determinative 22 half Airplane This determinative is used to mark airplanes and other air vehicles.
23 determinative 23 half Lightbulb This determinative is used to mark machines (in general), as well as electronic devices. It can also mark things that have to do with light.
24 determinative 24 half Bowl This determinative is used to mark containers of all shapes and sizes.
25 determinative 25 full Chair This determinative is used to mark all kinds of furniture.
26 determinative 26 full Stick This determinative is used to mark pieces or parts of things.
27 determinative 27 sub Table This determinative is used to mark flat things.
28 determinative 28 half Place Setting This determinative is used with anything having to do with food glorious food.
29 determinative 29 full Path This determinative is used to mark roads and streets, of course, but also indicates that the glyph in question is lengthy, in one way or another.
30 determinative 30 half Color Wheel This determinative is used to mark colors.
31 determinative 31 half Book This determinative is used with anything that has to do with reading or scholarship.
32 determinative 32 half Couplet This determinative is used with music and music-related objects, as well as anything that has to do with art, in general.
33 determinative 33 half Eye This determinative is used with things and ideas that have to do with the sensation of sight.
34 determinative 34 half Ear This determinative is used with things and ideas that have to do with the sensation of hearing.
35 determinative 35 half Nose This determinative is used with things and ideas that have to do with the sensation of smell.
36 determinative 36 full Hand This determinative is used with things and ideas that have to do with the sensation of touch and/or feeling, or manual communication.
37 determinative 37 half Tongue This determinative is used with things and ideas that have to do with the sensation of taste.
38 determinative 38 sub Mouth This determinative is used with things and ideas that have to do with the speech or oral communication.
39 determinative 39 half Heart This determinative is used with positive emotions (love, happiness, etc.).
40 determinative 40 half Tear This determinative is used with negative emotions (hate, anger, fear, etc.).
41 determinative 41 half Clock This determinative is used to mark anything that has to do with time.
42 determinative 42 half Lightning This determinative is used to mark violent action, suddenness (and, in prepositions, the lative mode).
43 determinative 43 full Line This determinative is used to mark repetitive or continuous actions, and occasionally long objects.
44 determinative 44 half Check This determinative is used to mark completed actions, as well as the endpoint of an event, or result.
45 determinative 45 half Up Arrow This determinative is used to modify actions (generally) to indicate that the direction of motion is upwards.
46 determinative 46 half Down Arrow This determinative is used to modify actions (generally) to indicate that the direction of motion is downwards.
47 determinative 47 half Exchange This determinative is used to modify actions (generally) to indicate that the action is reflexive, reciprocal, or distributive in some way (note: can be used to modify nouns in kooky ways).
48 determinative 48 half Maybe Hand This determinative is used to modify objects (and sometimes actions) to indicate similitude or likeness, in some way. Vaguely adjectival.
49 determinative 49 half Spiral This is a catch-all determinative that generally marks abstract objects/notions.
50 determinative 50 half Triangle This determinative marks the plural (i.e., more than two).

Conclusion

This is the end of the page on determinatives. I, quite frankly, am relieved that something is finally up on this language. Hopefully this means that more will follow. I suppose it all depends on what kind of time I have and what I devote that time to. Isn't it just always that way... Here's to the future!

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