Home > Rhean Language > Sentence Structure
The Basic Sentence
Conditional Clauses and "Ba"
Rhean is strongly head-final, which means that adjectives come before nouns, and verbs come after all of their arguments. This structure is very flexible, though, and there are many ways to rearrange a sentence.
THE BASIC SENTENCE
Subjects usually come before objects, making the word order SOV (Subject - Object - Verb):
Fratas gazank fuma.
your:brother marijuana(-ACC) smoke-3SG
Your brother smokes pot.
Ürok tai pušk mu tafaiš.
dog its food(-ACC) NEG eat-3SG:PAST
The dog didn't eat its food.
Indirect objects, locatives, adverbs, etc. are not fixed to any place in a sentence:
Gunam i Mavriusom urakaie ver kujoru elomandeč ödorčik küpioš.
Gunam in Mavrius-INST for reluctant-ADV girlfriend-DAT overpriced souvenir(-ACC) buy-3SG:PAST
I Mavriusom Gunam elomandeč ödorčik ver kujoru urakaie küpioš.
Ver kujoru Gunam urakaie elomandeč ödorčik i Mavriusom küpioš.
Gunam reluctantly bought an overpriced souvenir in Mavrius for his girlfriend.
There are some tendencies: Objects tend to come directly before the verb, and anything placed between the object and the verb sounds as if it's emphasised. Subjects tend to come at the beginning of a sentence, and anything before the subject also sounds emphatic. In the three examples above, the second emphasies "In Mavrius", sounding as if we've also heard about some other places Gunam went, and "reluctantly". The third emphasises "for his girlfriend" -- this time, maybe we know about some other things our hero bought for other people -- and "in Mavrius". The first is the most neutral way to say what Gunam did.
Subjects are frequently dropped, as Rhean (like English) tends to use the subject spot for old news -- you get the old stuff out of the way first, then introduce something new. Subject pronouns are rarely used, as the subject is often dropped if it's been mentioned already:
Gunam ödorčik küpioš.
Gunam bought the souvenir.
Ža (x) nap lekužadom treǩem yuraiš.
Then (he/Gunam) went back home by train.
(x) Du ödorčik dumen aše örǩaiš.
(He/Gunam) worried the souvenir was no good.
Ödorčik tafkamis aše.
The souvenir was a T-shirt.
(x) "Dirkure u Nailundadu šedruioš ki ya moraimnurz toya miku tafkamis zar aše" jidrükaiš.
(It/the shirt/the souvenir) said "someone visited the Imperial Palace and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
Two useful prepositions allow subjects and objects to move around, even past the verb. These are the subject marker ai (used with the nominative) and the object marker o (used with the accusative). Because of the tendency to omit subjects, ai is the more commonly used of these two: an omitted subject will often be tacked on after the verb as an afterthought:
Anajie ganatiš ai lai moča že.
very-well sing-3SG SUBJ your daughter EMPH
Your daughter sings very well.
Dirkure zorižaiš o yai aftolak!
someone steal-3SG:PAST OBJ my motorcycle(-ACC)
Someone stole my motorcycle!
One place where o is frequently found is in imperatives, where the verb is often fronted:
Cinyet o slir.
hand:over-2SG:IMP OBJ keys(-ACC)
Give me the keys.
Kra kuda löösyat o eya panča ürok že.
from here-GEN remove-2SG:IMP OBJ that EXPL dog(-ACC) EMPH
Get that damn dog out of here.
Other phrases can be placed after the verb for emphasis or as an afterthought. There is a special particle e which can be used after the verb in these cases, but it is not necessary.
Ižaku čavun asmiom, e ǩau vadan.
enter-INF-DAT self(-ACC) allow-1SG:PAST , E through window-ACC
I let myself in -- through the window.
Some Rhean linguists believe this e began as a hesitant sound (like an "um") that became an expected part of the structure.
Questions are formed with the question words, and enclosed by two question marks as in Spanish: żqué? In English, a question word like "what" or "who" is usually put at the beginning of the question. In Rhean, the question word can move around depending on what needs emphasis. The most neutral shape for a question is the put the topic of the question before the information being asked. Start with the old news, then the question word, then complete the question:
żKizi čaze ebie erkie deštaiš?
Kizi why that:much early-ADV leave-3SG:PAST
Why did Kizi leave so early?
żAftor slir kudom fogait?
car-GEN keys(-ACC) where-INST leave-2SG:PAST
Where did you leave the car keys?
żToya činan ču au miriot?
this movie-ACC QU already see-2SG:PAST
Have you already seen this movie?
Fronted question words are also found; this emphasises the information being asked:
żKure toya vadan krakioš?
who this window-ACC break-3SG:PAST
Who broke this window?
The main verb in a Rhean sentence usually comes last, which means the main clause comes after any subordinate clauses:
Du muce somuyem kikinait šiznim.
that last:night late-ADV come:home-2SG:PAST know-1SG
I know you came home late last night.
Yai časlet necidve fkuta-sacioš.
my watch grab-AVP run:off-V-3SG:PAST
He grabbed my watch and ran off. ("Grabbing my watch, ...")
Other orders are perfectly acceptable. When a sentence is rearranged like these, there's usually a comma after the main verb:
(Sen du jenioǩ yant radioš)
Sen yant radioš, du jenioǩ.
Sen me:DAT tell-3SG:PAST , that marry-2PL:PAST
Sen told me you got married.
(došyani miškin gvušadve pugron ekilviom)
Pugron ekilviom, došyani miškin gvušadve.
bus-ACC chase-1SG:PAST , grocery-NI bags-ACC spill-AVP
I chased the bus, spilling my grocery bags.
CONDITIONAL CLAUSES AND "BA"
Macasmini Elebzi ki "Ba"
The conditional adverbs adis, dorod and daze (and du) open a clause that is closed with ba.
Dorod okiam ba i olgem eku anče.
when wake-1SG COND in eyes-INST "sleep" exist:3SG
When I wake up, I have sleep in my eyes.
Daze yeleč čeraz amöz anaše ba naidül izǧufek sekelzeč aše.
because before night rain exist:3SG:PAST COND firepit(-ACC) ignite-INF difficult be:3SG:PAST
Because it rained the night before, it was hard to light the campfire.
Adis böz šulak fröbaǩ ba lin kroširvi.
if border(-ACC) cross-INF try-2PL COND you:PL:ACC kill-1PL:FUT
If you try to cross the border, we will kill you.
This ba is not used when the conditional clause appears after the main clause:
Lin kroširvi, adis böz šulak fröbaǩ.
We will kill you if you try to cross the border.
Using ba at the end of a sentence suggests trailing off, or leaving something unsaid:
Ahte, adis aya boda če ǩrudat ba...
well , IF good idea be:3SG think-2SG COND ...
Well, if you think it's a good idea ...
Other "when"-like clauses with yel 'before' ždam 'while' and sonra 'after' also use ba:
Yel u sreru yurat ba gladin cemuie döjyat.
before to bed-DAT go-2SG COND lights-ACC all-ADV turn:off-2SG:IMP
Turn off all the lights before you go to bed.
In a construction that's "correct" beyond anything you'd ever hear anyone use, there should be a du after the time-preposition: Yel du ... ba.
Some verbs, like sacek 'make, cause' asmek 'allow' and primek 'force' form a causative sentence.
When someone makes something thing into something else, the patient is in the accusative case and the end state is in the dative -- think "make X-ACC into Y-DAT".
Arčabzin služit saciz.
captives-ACC slaves-DAT make-3PL
They make their captives into slaves.
This is similar to the way that the verb nelek 'become' also takes its end-state in the dative case:
I will become a doctor.
Making someone do something is similar. The verb you make them do is in the dative (remember, the infinitive works like a noun):
Lud, uskin nyokeku sacirmi.
now , rabbit-ACC disappear-INF-DAT make-1SG:FUT
Now, I will make the rabbit disappear.
Or -- and this gets very important in a bit -- the order can be rearranged: uskin nyokeku sacirmi means the same thing as nyokeku uskin sacirmi. Seem odd? Remember, uskin is the object of sacek, not nyokek. This rearrangement is important when you get to using transitive verbs with a causative. A sentence like "mother makes the children eat spinach" has two objects: "children" is the object of "make", and "spinach" is the object of "eat". In such a case, this is the order used:
Kaš horen tafaku ǩodoin sace.
mother spinach(-ACC) eat-INF-DAT children-ACC make-3SG
This might seem backwards to an English speaker, but since the object horen comes before its verb tafak, and the object ǩodoin comes before its verb sace, this is perfectly sensible in Rhean. Here's some more:
Aai, kofin gvušaku yan saciot!
hey , coffee-ACC spill-INF-DAT me:ACC make-2SG:PAST
Hey, you made me spill my coffee!
Siknin maǩaku döšnok primioš.
knife-ACC drop-INF-DAT attacker(-ACC) force-3SG:PAST
(He) forced the attacker to drop the knife.
I mekyut lai ürok nesteku lon mu asmez ve.
into school-DAT your dog(-ACC) bring-INF-DAT you:ACC NEG allow-3PL "eh"
They don't let you bring your dog to school, eh?
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