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makwa agal

Introduction

Overambitious (albeit well-meaning) conlangers often assert that their "lingwa franka nova" will break the glass ceilings that Esperanto could have only dreamt to. Or that they have overtaken Tolkein with their expansive diachronics and bare-minimum conculture. But conlangs don't have to be internationally intelligible or perfectly naturalistic or structurally unambiguous or whathaveyou; sometimes conlangs can be made just for fun. And that's all that Makwa Agal was made to achieve.

I created Makwa Agal (formerly Makwa Igal/Makway, now sometimes shortened to Makwa or Makwage) starting in summer 2017. I wanted the sounds and syntax of Makwa Agal to be relatively accessible to myself as a native English speaker without falling into being a reskinned Standard Average European. Here you will find descriptions of Makwa Agal's phonology, orthography, morphology, syntax and more. Creating and growing Makwa Agal has brought me much fun as intended, and although fun is relative, I hope you have fun learning my language.

Phonology and Romanisation

LabialAlveolarDorsalGlottal
Nasalmn
Plosivep bt dk g(ʔ)
Affricatet͡ʃ <ch>
Fricativef vs zʃ <c> ʒ <j>h
Approximantwɹ~ɾ <r>j <y>
Rhotic
Laterall

The grand total of phonemic consonant sounds in Makwa Agal comes to 20, but a few funny things happen on top of this:

FrontCentralBack
Closeiu
Midə <e> ɚ <re>
Openai̯ <ay>aau̯ <aw>

The vowel system in Makwa Agal is less complicated than the consonants:

Orthography

chabakyakwakraeha
chabakyakwakraeha
yalagatakayuda
yalagatakayuda
naraawaizau
naraa/*waizau
jamapava
jamapava

Above are the 25 base-letters of the Makwa Alphasyllabary. Consonant glyphs inherently are followed by the sound /a/. To indicate a consonant without a vowel after it, a grave accent is written above its base letter. To indicate a consonant followed by a vowel other than /a/, just write the vowel glyph after it. The one exception letter is<yu> which always indicates the sound /ju/. The letter labeled "a/*" represents the sound /a/ when used initially, but after a fricative glyph it indicates voicelessness (v -> f, z -> s, c -> j). <a> is never written after word-final fricatives since they are unambiguously voiceless. The only punctuation marks are <.> to mark the ends of sentences and <?> to mark the end of questions.

Noun Morphology

Makwa Agal roots are composed of 2 consonant sounds each. Every root is inherently either a noun or a verb (although verbs can be nominalised and nouns verbalised). The vowels placed into a root determine its syntactic purpose. Nouns are declined for 2 types of nominative cases and 3 types of accusative cases.

Stem FormListed in dictionariesdaja
Nominative AgentActively ensures verbdajal
Nominative ExperiencerTakes part in verb passivelydajul
Accusative ThemeUndergoes verb, doesn't change statetawje
Accusative Patient 1Affected by verbtaje
Accusative Patient 2Affected and changed by verbtije

Noun negation is done with the infix -yu-. Take the root kraza, meaning power or strength. The declension of the Makwa word for "weakness" is:

Stem Formkrayuza
Nominative Agentkrayuzal
Nominative Experiencerkrayuzul
Accusative Themekrawyuze
Accusative Patient 1krayuze
Accusative Patient 2kriyuze

Compound nouns exist in Makwa Agal. The declension pattern for noun only affects the last two consonants of the compound noun. For example, caga (dough) + zakra (ring) means "donut" and is declined like this:

Stem Formcagazakra
Nominative Agentcagazakral
Nominative Experiencercagazakrul
Accusative Themecagazawkre
Accusative Patient 1cagazakre
Accusative Patient 2cagazikra

Makwa personal pronouns are distinguished by 3 cases and singular/plural. Subject pronouns are allowd to be left out only in non-relative clauses.

1st Person2nd Person3rd Person
singularpluralsingularpluralsingularplural
Nominativekilkallillalfilfal
Obliquekikelilefife
Genitiveikukuiluluifufu

Genitive constructions in Makwage are done using either ifu or fu between the stem form of a noun (the possessor) and the normally declined noun (the possessee). For example, "vachu wada ifu tarawawpe" = "I see the man's airplane".

Adjectives and Adverbs

To form adjectives, you just take the the root consonants of a noun root (ex: gaya = "joke") without changing any of the inherent vowels (gaya = "funny"). Adjectives go before the nouns they modify unless they are colours or numbers in which case they go after the noun. Adverbs are formed by adding and m after the adjective (gayam = "funnily"). Adverbs go before the verb they modify.

Verbs

Verbs come in two classes in Makwa Agal: i-verbs and u-verbs. Whether a verb is an i-verb or a u-verb is inherent to its root and must be memorised, and some roots mean entirely different things when treated as one class vs. the other ("nukyez" = "to help" while "nikyez" = "to study"). There is a third, pseudo-class of verb called an "a-verb". An a-verb is a verb that is derived from a noun root. Verbs conjugate for affirmative/negative, two aspects, and the person of the subject.

i-verbsu-verbsa-verbs
AffirmativeNegativeAffirmativeNegativeAffirmativeNegative
Infinitive_i_ez _iyu_ez _u_ez _uyu_ez _ _ez _ayu_ez
Continuous
1st Person_ _i _ayu_i _ _u _ayu_u _e_ _eyu_
2nd Person_en_i _enyu_i _en_u _enyu_u _en__ _enyu__
3rd Person_i_e _iyu_e _u_e _uyu_e _e_e _eyu_e
Complete
1st Person_i_isa _iyu_isa _i_usa _iyu_usa _e_asa _eyu_asa
2nd Person_en_iz _enyu_iz _en_uz _enyu_uz _en__az _enyu__az
3rd Person_i_iz _iyu_iz _u_uz _uyu_uz _e_ez _eyu_ez

Word-final e is dropped in many cases based on phonotactics. Here is an example of a conjugation table for the u-verb muchez meaning "to kiss":

AffirmativeNegative
Infinitivemuchezmuyuchez
Continuous
1st Personmachumayuchu
2nd Personmenchumenyuchu
3rd Personmuchmuyuch
Complete
1st Personmichusamiyuchusa
2nd Personmenchuzmenyuchuz
3rd Personmuchuzmuyuchuz

The unique thing about Makwa verbs is that they are actually all trivalent; that is, they all accept 1 nominative argument and 2 accusative arguments. For example, the root kraha, is an u-verb root. The word kruhez means "to trade x for y". Verb phrases go in Subject-Verb-Object-Object order, so a sentence like "kil krihisa rach kyan." means "I traded a flower for money".

Verbs can be nominalised by changing their ending from "-ez" to "-(a)sa". More specific nominalisations can be crafted using the prefixes "van-", "man-", and "san-". These form nouns based on the prototypical subject, first object, and second object of a verb.

Makwa AgalEnglish
zufezto kill x with y
zufasaa killing
vanzufasaa killer
manzufasasomeone killed
sanzufasameans of killing

Conjunctions

In Makwage there exist three conjunctions used for arranging noun phrases: "bi", "di", and "gi". Conjunctions "bi" and "di" correspond to the English words "and" and "or" respectively, and are used between noun phrases as such. The conjunction "gi", however, is used to skip over a verb's first object when it's not necessary information to communicate. This appears in the common phrase "bitusa gi awn..." meaning "I am ... years old". The first object is the mother/birthgiver which is non-essential information in stating how old you are.

Comparisons

The words "mibez" and "chutez" correspond to the concepts "more" and "less" respectively, but both are verbs and are therefore used differently than in they are in English. The verb structures for them are "to be/do x more/less than y". So "kil mabi hawd le." means "I am faster than all you". Another example is "fal chute gay ki" meaning "they are less funny than me".

Numbers

Makwa Numbers work in base-10. Each digit 1-9 is assigned a syllable, and each power of 10 up to 109 are assigned a syllable. To form numbers you put the syllables of the digits 1-9 you need in order and the syllable of the amount of zeros you need when necessary.

(a)iu
na123
pa456
sa789
(a)iu
cha101102103
fa104105106
ka107108109

Questions

Yes-no questions are simply statements said with a falling intonation [↘] (whereas regular statements are said with a rising intonation [↗]). "Wh-questions" are created by using the interrogative pronoun "ra". It is used along with related forms ral for nominative, ri for accusative, and ru for genitive. An example of this is "ral nuve?" which means "who did (it)?". An example of "ra" being used in an adjective-y way is "lil entiz rach ra?" which means "which flower did you touch?". Note that "ra" comes after the word "rach" meaning flower; "ra" always go after what it is being used as an adjective for. Furthermore, "ra" can be used to mean "how" when the regular adverb ending "-m" is attached to it ("ram nihe...?" = "how do you say...?").

Multiple Verbs

In two-verb constructions such as "I want to eat", the second verb is used right in place of the first object of the first verb and is left in its infinitive form ("kal bafu culez" = I want to eat). The suffix "-ti" is added to infinitive verbs being used as nouns to indicate that they do not open another clause. An instance of where this distinction is useful is in the phrases "tayubu zufez mawkwe" and "tayubu zufezti mawkwe". The first one translating to "I don't like to kill the fun" and the second to "I, for fun, dislike killing".

When the subject changes between clauses but the nominative argument either isn't present or doesn't begin the clause, the relativiser particle "lala" must be used ("eyuha lala wengi dawch" = "I don't care that you're sweaty").

Paralleling derivational prefixes "van-", "man-", and "san-" there are the three compound relativisers: "van lala", "man lala", and "san lala". They differentiate the content being relativised from the whole clause to either the nominative argument, the first accusative argument, or the second accusative argument respectively and can never occur without "lala".

Makwa AgalEnglish
fakwi lala bure.I know they are (somewhere).
fakwi van lala bure.I know who is (somewhere).
fakwi man lala bure.I know where they are.
fakwi san lala bure.I know what they're there for.

Commands and Requests

Formality in commands can be conveyed on three different levels. The most informal/casual way of stating a command is just by saying it as a question (with a falling intonation). A semi-formal way to express commands is to preface the command with "lacu li lala...", with the most formal way to say a command being by starting it with "lacu gi lala...".

Examples
Informallenkwi lad ki?
Semi-Formallacu li lala lenkwi lad ki.
Formallacu gi lala lenkwi lad ki.

Links

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