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Stālāg (Terbian)

the language of the Terb


Nouns

Nouns in Terbian are inflected for number and case (each combination is marked by a different suffix). They belong to one of two classes (or genders), which are as of today completely arbitrary[1], like the genders found in most Indoeuropean and Semitic languages.

The numbers are singular and plural (which are used for more or less the same as singular and plural are used in Indoeuropean languages). The cases are core (covering the roles of Agent and Patient) and oblique (for associative/genitive, postpositional arguments and verbal complements). The specifics of case and semantic roles are discussed elsewhere.

[1] Noun classes are in fact not completely arbitrary, as research into the lexicon will reveal. Class II is considerably smaller than Class I, and it comprises mostly nouns that refer to animated entities (people and higher animals). By examining the verbal morphology, it is also remarkable that agreement affixes for agentive subjects of Class II are shorter, while agentive subjects of Class I are longer; the opposite happens with objects (Class II plural objects are marked with a one-syllable affix, which sometimes allomorphically turns into two syllables; Class I plural objects are marked with a single consonant, sometimes with an allomorphic epenthetic vowel). This is clear evidence of an animate/inanimate gender distinction in earlier stages of the language, now appearing as an arbitrary class distinction, with the animacy contrast obscured by sound change in the actual morphology.


Class paradigms

  Core Oblique
Class I Singular -0
Plural -u -:a
Class II

Singular

-r -o
Plural -0 -a

Class I noun plural oblique inflection produces lengthening of the previous consonant (shown as a colon, “:”). The singular number, core case inflection is zero.

Class II nouns are curious because the plural core form is shorter than the singular one, which adds -r to the stem (the plural core inflection is zero). Some nouns originally in Class I have shifted to Class II because their singular stem ended in -r, which was reanalyzed as the Class II singular core mark.


Some paradigms of Class I nouns:

(1) Geminated consonants are only allowed after vowels, so the plural oblique form keeps the t short. Thus, Class I nouns with a stem that ends in two consonants behave like Class II nouns in this case.


Some paradigms of Class II nouns: