Laal Language - Grammar - Nouns


Nouns have plural and singular forms (the latter are perhaps better viewed as singulative in some cases), with plural formation hard to predict: kò:g "bone" > kuagmi "bones", tuà:r "chicken" > tò:rò "chickens", ɲaw "hunger" > ɲə̀wə́r "hungers". Nouns do not have arbitrary gender; however, three natural genders (male, female, non-human) are distinguished by the pronouns.

The possessive is expressed in two ways:

  • "inalienable", or direct, possession: by following the possessed with the possessor (and modifying the tone or ending of the possessed in some cases), e.g. piá:r no "person's leg" ("leg person");
  • alienable possession: by putting a connecting word, conjugated according to number and gender, between the possessed and the possessor, e.g. làgɨˋm má màr-dɨb "blacksmith's horse" ("horse CONN. man+of-forge"). This word is sometimes abbreviated to a simple high tone.

However, if the possessor is a pronoun, it is suffixed with extensive vowel ablaut (in the first case), or prepositional forms with "at", and optionally the connector as well, are used (in the second case): na:ra ɟá ɗe: "my man" ("man CONN. at-me"), mùlù "her eye" ("eye-her", from mɨla "eye"). Some nouns (e.g. páw- "friend") occur only with bound pronouns, and have no independent form. This phenomenon - obligatory possession - is found in many other languages, for instance the Andamanese languages, usually for words referring to personal relationships. See the pronouns section for the relevant suffixes.

A noun indicating someone who does, is, or has something can be formed with the prefix màr, meaning roughly "he/she/it who/of": màr jùgòr "landowner", màr ce "farmer" (ce = cultivate), màr pál "fisherman" (pál = to fish), màr pàlà ta: "a fisher of fish".

Laal does show traces of an old Adamawa-type noun-class system, but apart from loans the forms do not appear to be cognate with the Adamawa system (Lionnet 2010).

Read more about this topic:  Laal Language, Grammar

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