All words are made up of two parts: classifier and stem, e.g. the word [m]tedu, river, m– is the classifier and –tedu is the stem. In the word [h]‘i’i, pencil, h– is the classifier and -‘i’i is the stem.
There are ten native classifiers: w-, n-, m-, h- k- t-, p-, j-, đ- and v-. An additional classifier, s- (a foreign sound itself), is used to accommodate foreign loanwords.
In writing, classifiers can be thought of as radicals that convey semantic or functional meaning. They are easy to recognise and always written at the top of the glyph.
Classifiers have rules as to when the are pronounced.
Class 1: ö/w-
This class begins with ö-. It may be called the Functional Class, as it contains mostly ad-positions and other function words like conjunction and basic verbs.
Class 2: n-
This class begins with n-. It is called the Personal Class. It contains words for people, groups of people, body parts, and bodily actions. It also includes parts of plants and trees.
Class 3: m-
This class is the Natural Class. It begins with m-. The words of this class include plant and animal life and parts of the natural world.
Class 4: h-
This class includes tools, clothing, institutions, hierarchies, and business related and religious words. It connotes being man-made.
Class 5: k-
The Abstract Class includes words for emotions and mental states, communication, and also games and sporting terms.
Class 6: t-
This small class of words includes terms of degree, quantity, identity, and number. Known as the Quantitative Class.
Class 7: p-
The Active Class includes moving objects and words indicating motion, travel and dimension. It also includes animals used for transport.
Class 8: j-
This class connotes Temporal change. It includes not only words of time and sequence but also that which is transient, temporary, or scarce, including foodstuffs and resources.
Class 9: đ-
The Qualitative Class includes forms of matter, physical states, physical changes, and scientific terms.
Class 10: v-
This class includes the visible, audible, feelable, and various abstract concepts. It is know as the Observable Class.