A New Writing System



Hope Clouds Observation


nimi ‘öpu jime. 
cloud observation GEN/hope
Hope clouds observation.



What Are They Called?

‘Opa haviwme.
‘opa havi ‘öme

hello grandfather GEN/1
Hello, my grandfather.

‘Opa tujöme.
‘opa tujö ‘öme.

hello grandson GEN/1
Hello, my grandson.

Zaj hwa’umuwme. Pawlmiwma.
zajö hö’a ‘umu ‘öme. pa’ö hömi ‘öma.

PROG learn Umu GEN/1. run for 1
I’m learning Umu. You help me

Da. Zaj pawlmiwtiwme.
töta, zajö pa’ö hömi ‘öti ‘ome.

alright, PROG run for 2 GEN/1
Alright, I (will) help you.

image image image image image image image image image
Jonazuk nnihaza? ‘Ul ijá nnihaza?
jona zukö nöni haza? ‘urö jöja nöni haza?

how as.such small.thing here? name what small.thing here?
How about this? What is this called?

image imageimage image
Hini ‘ul nnihaza.
hini ‘urö nöni haza.

car name small.thing here.
This is called a car.

image image image image image
Jonazuk irömvna?
jona zukö jörö ‘ömö vöna?

how as.such body PL there?
What about those?

image image image image
‘Aj’ul irövna.
‘ajö ‘urö jörö vöna

horse name body there.
Those are called horses.

image image image image image
Jonazuk irömhaza?
jona zukö jörö ‘ömö haza?

how as.such body PL here?
What about these?

‘a’a jörö haza.

cat body here.
These are cats.

‘Ul ijá munövna?
‘urö jöja munö vöna?

name what person there?
What is that man called

‘Ul Kij munövna.
‘urö Kijö munö vöna

name Kij person there.
That man is called Kij.

Kij, ‘ul ijá mariwti?
Kijö, ‘urö jöja mari ‘öti?

Kij, name what mother GEN/2?
Kij, what is your mother’s name?

‘Ul Pal mariwme.
‘urö Parö mari ‘öme.

name Pal mother GEN/1.
My mother is called Bal.


I couldn’t do it. Reset the lexicon but I can’t walk away.

Whatever made it to the blog, if I don’t hate it, stays.

Some will make the cut; some won’t. Those that do are headed for the dictionary.

Stone Glyphs Return

Here is the same absurd sentence from the last post written in its full glyph form. I’ve neglected them in favor of the shorthand, but they’re beautiful in their own right.







nune si wu | ‘oji nju wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats the woman, the fishmonger

Realigned (Redundant)

I’m not sure if the old alignment pattern will work now that verbs are marked for person. I’m playing with nominative/accusative patterns, ergative/absolutive patters and active/stative patterns. I’m not sure if I’ll need a sperate set of pronouns. Stay Tuned.

Subjects of intransitive verbs and stative verbs are marked within the verb itself.

I eat

you eat

she eats

Words corresponding to adjectives in other languages function as predicates in Umu.

jki, pronounced iki

I’m rich.

When the subject of these two types of verbs is a lexical item, it comes either directly before or directly after the verb, depending on whether it’s definite or indefinite.

image image
nune si
3PRED\food woman
the woman eats

image image
si nune
woman 3PRED\food
a woman eats

image image
kom nma
3PRED\high.object NPRED\mountain
The mountain is high.

image image
ku’e zni
3PRED\strong.object NPRED\wind
The wind is strong.

Subjects of transitive verbs are indicated by three independent pronouns, wma, wti and wu, first person, second person and third person respectively.

Because Umu, completely prohibits lexical ergative subjects, only these three pronouns can serve as the subjects of transitive verbs. That means no noun can never be the subject of a transitive verb.

Just like English, many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. Remembering the examples above, suppose something very hungry comes along.

image image
nene wu
1PRED\food 3ERG
it eats me

image image
nine wu
2PRED\food 3ERG
it eats you

image image
nune wu
3PRED\food 3ERG
it eats her

These pronouns are actually clitics that live at the very end of the verb complex. Look what happens to the women.

image image image
nune si wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG
it eats the woman

image image image
si nune wu
woman 3PRED\food 3ERG
it eats a woman

This may seem crazy but it actually works. Minthum pointed out something about discourse that I never knew. It inspired this prohibition.

It is now well known that speakers of most languages rarely introduce new participants into discourse as the subject/ergative/agent of a transitive clause. Though they might seem perfectly grammatical, sentences like ‘A nice man helped me out.’ are surprisingly rare in spontaneous speech.

Speakers more often introduce new entities in presentative constructions, in intensive clauses, or as the objects/absolutives/patients of transitives: ‘A nice man came up and offered to help,’ or ‘I met a nice man there and he helped me out.’

For this reason ergative arguments (or subjects/agents of transitives) are rarely identified in full noun phrases: they are usually represented by pronouns or nothing at all.

(Minthum 1999: 192)

That means in most cases, by the time we mention an ergative argument, it’s already clear who/what we’re taking about. In cases where the ergative subject needs to be clarified further, such information can be expressed either topically or as an oblique, both of which fall completely outside of the verb complex… though I’m still not sure what this will mean. And because topics usually introduce new entities, this construction is unnaturally and quite rate.

Turns out the culprit is a cannibal, out of work, fishmonger… as usual.

image image image image image image
nune si wu | ‘oji nju wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats the woman, the fishmonger

image image image image image image
si nune wu | ‘oji nju wu
woman 3PRED\food 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats a woman, the fishmonger

The word for fishmonger is actually a verb meaning “he sells fish”. It is a complete sentence on its own. But that’s another entry.

Thank you native North America.

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