Old Tshyak

Old Tshyak

Known synchronically as rklan tshyak or just tshyak, anachronically as rklan tshyak plaew or just tshyak plaew.

This is a language spoken in close proximity to Carinnaha but which is not closely related to it. (Kyehinnaha is the Carinnaha exonym for it.)

Phonemes and Orthography

Nasal stops: /m n ɲ ŋ/ m n ngy ng
Voiced prenasalized stops: /mb nd ɲɟ ŋg/ mb nd n'gy n'g
Voiced stops: /b d ɟ g/ b d gy g
Voiceless unaspirated stops: /p t c k ʔ/ p t ky k ∅
Voiceless aspirated stops /pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ/ ph th khy kh
Voiced prenasalized affricates: /ndz ɳdʐ ɲdʑ/ ndz ndr nj
Voiced affricates: /dz dʐ dʑ/ dz dr j
Voiceless unaspirated affricates: /ts tʂ tɕ/ ts tr c
Voiceless aspirated affricates: /tsʰ tʂʰ tɕʰ/ tsh thr ch
Voiceless fricatives: /s ʂ ɕ h/ s sr sh h
Voiced fricatives: /z ʐ ʑ/ z zr zh
Liquids: /ɻ l/ r l
Semivowels: /w j/ w y

Close vowels: /i u/ i u
Close-mid vowels: /e o/ e o
Open-mid vowels: /ɛ ɔ/ ae ao
Open vowels: /a/ a

Note that a prefix of /ʔ/ is written '. Also, a /ʔ/ after a prefix is also written '. The ə of prefixes is not written.

Consonant clusters that would otherwise be written identically to digraphs or trigraphs are broken up with '. Also, /ʔ/ between vowels is written '.


Initial syllables may have one or more prefixes of the form ({p, t, k, s, b, d, g, m, ɻ, l, ʔ})ə.
The syllable structure is K({ɻ, l})({w, j})V({p, t, k, m, n, ŋ, h, ɻ, l, w, j}).

K is all consonants except {ɻ, l, w, j}.
/ʔ/ cannot be preceded or followed by any consonants.
/ɻ/ does not follow nasals, coronals, or palatals.
/l/ does not follow nasals, coronal plosives, retroflexes, alveolopalatals, or palatals.
/j/ does not follow alveolopalatals, palatals or velars.
/w/ does not follow labials, alveolopalatals, or palatals.
Consonants are not found in the same syllable before prenasalized plosives.
Geminates are not allowed; if a geminate were to form, it would be reduced to a short consonant.


Coda stops are unreleased and may be realized as glottal stops, especially word-finally.
/hɻ/ > [ɻ̥]
/hl/ > [ɬ]
/hj/ > [ç]
/hw/ > [ʍ]
Two adjacent identical vowels merge into a single vowel
/ai/ or /ae/ or or /aɛ/ > [ɛ] written ae
/ɛi/ or /ɛe/ or > [e] written e
/ei/ > [e] written e
/i/ or /e/ or /ɛ/ before another vowel of equal or lower height becomes [j], except after an alveolopalatal or palatal or /w/ or /j/, where it becomes ∅, or after a velar, where it becomes ∅ and palatalizes the velar, written y except after alveolopalatals or palatals or /w/ or /j/
/au/ or /ao/ or /aɔ/> [ɔ] written ao
/ɔu/ or /ɔo/ > [o] written o
/ou/ > [o] written o
/ɛu/ or /ɛo/ > [jɔ] , except after an alveolopalatal or palatal or /w/ or /j/, where it becomes [ɔ], or after a velar, where it becomes [ɔ] and palatalizes the velar, written yao except after alveolopalatals or palatals or /w/ or /j/, where it is written ao
/eu/ > [jo] , except after an alveolopalatal or palatal or /w/ or /j/, where it becomes [o], or after a velar, where it becomes [o] and palatalizes the velar, written yo except after alveolopalatals or palatals or /w/ or /j/, where it is written o
/ɔi/ or /ɔe/ > [wɛ], except after a labial or /w/ or /j/, where it becomes [ɛ], written wae except after labials or /w/ or /j/, where it is written ae
/oi/ > [we], except after a labial or /w/ or /j/, where it becomes [e], written we except after labials or /w/ or /j/, where it is written e
/u/ or /o/ or /ɔ/ before another vowel of equal or lower height becomes [w], except after a labial or /w/ or /j/, where it becomes ∅, written w except after labials or /w/ or /j/

Sound Changes from Proto-Tshyak

There are the following sound changes going from Proto-Tshyak to Old Tshyak:

Syntax and Morphology Changes from Proto-Tshyak

These elements have their vowels reduced to /ə/ and then are prefixed onto the verb stem:

verbal noun ʔò
agent noun ti
patient noun
antipassive voice si
reflexive voice
reciprocal voice bu
causative voice (pfv.) / (ipfv.)
resultative la (pfv.) / le (ipfv.)

These elements are suffixed onto the verb, after /ʔ/ and, if after a vowel, the following vowel are elided, and after the prefixes had been reduced to aspiration:

past ta
subjunctive ra
jussive gya
1st clitic ʔam
1st and 2nd clitic
2nd clitic ʔak
absolutive plural ya
ergative plural śi
absolutive dual səkap
absolutive plural sətet
inverse ʔah

Proto-Tshyak ta was originally an adverb meaning "then", which came to indicate a time earlier than the surrounding context, and later became a general past tense marker.

Proto-Tshyak ra was originally a dubitative evidential, which later became a subjunctive marker.

Proto-Tshyak gya was originally an optative marker.

Proto-Tshyak ʔam, , and ʔak were originally 1st, 1st and 2nd, and 2nd person pronominal clitics, interchangeable with the full pronouns ma and , de, and ni and lo respectively. They were not originally for marking verbs, as they were also used to mark inalienable possession.

Proto-Tshyak ya and səkap were originally plural and dual particles marking animate absolutive nouns. Also, Proto-Tshyak śi and sətet were originally plural and dual particles marking animate ergative nouns; there was also a particle marking singular animate ergative nouns, li. These eventually got transfered to the verb while li was lost.

Proto-Tshyak ʔah was originally a particle marking inanimate ergative nouns. This eventually got transfered to the verb while indicating any agent lower in the person/animacy hierarchy than the patient.

The Old Tshyak possessive determiner ma comes from the reduction of Proto-Tshyak may. Old Tshyak rum, dem, and lom come from Proto-Tshyak rú mi, de mi, and lo mi, where mi is an old plural marker for 1st, 1st and 2nd, and 2rd person pronouns. Old Tshyak ruk, dek, and lok come from Proto-Tshyak rú ku, de ku, and lo ku, where ku is an old dual marker for 1st, 1st and 2nd, and 2nd person pronouns. The Old Tshyak possessive determiner ni comes from the reduction of Proto-Tshyak niŋ.

Evidential, mirative, and interrogative markers are moved from after the verb to right to the end of the clause.

Proto-Tshyak proximal demonstrative determiner/pronoun leŋ is shorted to le as the Old Tshyak proximal demonstrative determiner but is preserved as leng for the Old Tshyak proximal demonstrative independent pronoun.

Proto-Tshyak medial demonstrative determiner/pronoun ʔryan is shortened to rya as the Old Tshyak distal demonstrative determiner but is preserved as ryan for the Old Tshyak distal demonstrative independent pronoun.

Proto-Tshyak distal demonstrative determiner/pronoun bla is lost in Old Tshyak.

Proto-Tshyak interrogative determiner/pronoun tsey is shortened to tse as the Old Tshyak interrogative determiner but is preserved as tsey for the Old Tshyak interrogative independent pronoun.

Proto-Tshyak negative determiner/pronoun hey is shortened to he as the Old Tshyak negative determiner but is preserved as hey for the Old Tshyak negative independent pronoun.


The main order is vocative - topic - subject - verb - object - serial.

There is the alternative order vocative - topic - object - verb - subject - serial.

Noun phrases have the word order noun - compounded noun - number - relative.

Vocatives are preceded by the particle a.

Relative clauses typically take the order stative intransitive - stative transitive - dynamic intransitive - dynamic transitive.

Relative clauses may take the alternate order verb - subject to enable relativizing objects.

NPs typically only have one dynamic verb in them.

Relative clauses are introduced with na, except that this can be omitted for intransitive stative relative clauses immediately following the noun qualified, and except if they are preceded by a deeper level in the phrase structure, where then a resumptive pronoun yo (sg.), get (du.), or gey (pl.) is placed before the na, which then cannot be omitted.

Note that in transitive relative clauses, the absolutive argument must always be mentioned in the clause itself, such that if it is the object that is relativized, a resumptive pronoun is repeated in the clause after the subject.

Non-attributive relative clauses are introduced with a dummy noun that is then modified by an attributive relative clauses. These dummy nouns do take determiners.

Serial verb constructions preceded by a deeper level in the phrase structure are preceded by la.

Subordinate clauses are introduced with ra, which takes the role of a noun in the surrounding clause except it does not take a determiner.

Interrogative sentences take an interrogative marker ha in the same place that a non-interrogative indicative main clause would take an evidential marker.


The alignment is ergative-absolutive. There is no gender. There are three numbers, singular, dual, and plural. In the first person dual and plural there is an exclusive/inclusive distinction.

Nouns other than pronouns are not marked for number.

Verbs agree with their subjects, agents, and objects in person and number/clusivity. Verbs are marked for perfectivity, past/non-past tense (with the non-past perfective being used for the future), and mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and jussive).

"Adjectives" and "demonstratives" are really stative verbs. "Prepositions" are also verbs as well.

Nominal Morphology

What nominal morphology?

Verbal Morphology


verbal noun '-
agent noun t-
patient noun p-
antipassive voice s-
reflexive voice r-
reciprocal voice b-
causative voice m-
resultative l-

Causative voice is unmarked for transitive verbs derived from intransitive verbs.

The resultative marker marks telicity when used with perfective verbs.

Passivization is indicated by using a transitive verb as intransitive without marking antipassive voice. All passives are static and thus imperfective, and passives derived from perfective verbs mark the resulting state while passives derived from imperfective verbs mark undergoing the process indicated by the imperfective verb.

(These merge with identical prefixes on verbs.)

Perfectivity marking:

Each stem has separate perfective and imperfective forms.

Tense making:

past -ta
non-past ∅

Mood marking:

indicative ∅
imperative ∅
subjunctive -ra
jussive -gya

Person and number marking:

du. animate ergative -khap
du. animate absolutive -thet
2nd absolutive or ergative -(a)k*
1st (excl.) absolutive or ergative -(a)m*
1st incl. absolutive or ergative -bae
pl. animate absolutive -ya
pl. animate ergative -shi

Inverse marking:

inverse -(a)h*

* These have vowels only after consonants.

Absolutive marking (in intransitive imperative clauses) and ergative marking (in transitive imperative clauses):

2nd sg. ∅
2nd du. -la
2nd pl. -yi


Note that these are actually verbs, so they inflect like verbs (e.g. for number).

negative "determiner": he
proximal "determiner": le
distal "determiner": rya
interrogative "determiner": tse

Possessive Determiners

1st sg. ma
1st du. excl. rung
1st du. incl. deng
1st pl. excl. ru
1st pl. incl. de
2nd sg. ni
2nd du. long
2nd pl. lo
3rd sg. yu
3rd du. gang
3rd pl. ga

Independent Personal Pronouns

(Note that these have the primary purpose of serving as resumptive pronouns.)

1st sg. may
1st du. excl. ruk
1st du. incl. dek
1st pl. excl. rum
1st pl. incl. dem
2nd sg. ning
2nd du. lok
2nd pl. lom
3rd sg. yo
3rd du. gat
3rd pl. gay

Other Pronouns

negative: hey
interrogative: tsey
proximal demonstrative: leng
distal demonstrative: ryan


and: in
or: je
but: tu

Clause-final Particles

Evidential and mirative particles are placed at the end of the main clause, with the following forms:

witness: zhe
deductive: ka
reportative: hao
assumption: yae
mirative: te
question: ha

Evidential markers come before mirative markers, which come before question markers.

Note that these particles come after a clause-final complementizer ra but before the following complement clause. However, for complementized clauses not at the end of a main clause these particles are found at the actual end of the main clause.

Modal Verbs

Modal verbs are placed before the main verb in clauses. They agree with the subject of the clause but not any objects; the main verb agrees in turn with only its object. They are inherently imperfective, and can inflect for tense and mood; the main verbs used with them in turn are marked for perfectivity but unmarked for tense or mood.

shall: tyao (ipfv.)
can, be able to: wi (ipfv.)
must, have to: kye (ipfv.)
need to: lyu (ipfv.)
want: thrwae (ipfv.) (Note that this can also be used as a non-modal verb.)

Person Hierarchy

The person hierarchy with regard to direct-inverse marking is:

1st sg. > 1st excl. du. > 1st excl. pl. > 1st incl. du. > 1st incl. pl. > 2nd sg. > 2nd du. > 2nd. pl.

And after that:

sg. > du. > pl.


relativized nouns > 3rd > proper names > humans > non-human animates > inanimates

For nouns that are otherwise equal in the person hierarchy, ones that come first in a sentence are higher in the person hierarchy than ones that come later.

Alienable and Inalienable Possession

Attributive inalienable possession is expressed either with possessive determiners or marking a noun and its relative clauses with a possessive determiner followed by the possessing noun and its possessive determiners.

Attributive alienable possession is expressed with the verb tsha both for personal pronouns and for nouns in relative clauses.

Predicative Possession

Predicative possession is expressed with that possessed as a subject for the existential verb gay (pfv.) / gey (ipfv.) combined with either the benefactive nja (pfv.) / nju (ipfv.), to express "have" possession, tsay (pfv.) / tsiy (ipfv.) "lie", to express "own" possession, or the comitative law (ipfv.), to express "have on" possession, with the possessor as an object thereof.





Go back to the conlanging page.

Go back to the main page.