A.M.D.G hello.jpgss A Grammar of the Shapshiruckish Language


Shapshiruckish, in the usual orthography *Śapśirrucws, is the language spoken by whoever it was who spoke Proto-Everywhere. They are called the Shapgapsh, or *Śapgapśa, but this just means 'the good/true folk', and their language 'the good/true speech' -- this is a romantic early modern affectation, and the name they called themselves is lost to prehistory. From the vocabulary reconstructed, at some stage they seemed to have a settled mode of living, with farms and kings, but nothing spectacular.

There are two main divisions in the language family, into which the languages of Here and There fall respectively.


Sketch map of the distribution of the branches of Shapshiruckish languages

The languages of Here fall into three groups:


The Martial languages are of prime importance. These are characterised by highly-developed spatial deixis, vowel harmony and an early sophstication of the noun class system, only to collapse in the middle ages.

Classical Glorious is the most important of the ancient members of this group, it being the language of the Glorious Empire. Its sister languages Minoritish and Also-Ran, their speakers absorbed to various degrees into the imperial order, also had some importance.

Over the centuries, with the decline of the Glorious Empire and the increasing dominance of the descendants of the ancient Minoritish people, Modern Majoritic has become, by modern times, a strong language on the continent, with Insular Majoritic being a sister language derived from the late mediaeval Old Majoritic (the latter, fading as it does, into Late Minoritic in the earliest attestations). Descendants of Classical Glorious survive to the modern day in the forms of Elder Glorious and Younger Glorious, the languages diverging around the same time as Insular.


The Religio-Marine languages are divisible into the Religious and Marine branches. Both are XXXXXX and XXXXX, with the Religious languages tending to XXXX and XXXXX. The Marine languages absorbed a great deal of substrate influence from languages of the Metallic family, resulting in a large overturn of native vocabulary, and the adoptation of various traits of the Metallic sprachbund, including XXXXXX, XXXXXX and XXXX.

The most important of the Religious languages is Universalic, later the language of the Glorious Empire, and its main descendants Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, alongside a Technical Universalic which continues to exist in a state of diglossia. Also of note is the language of the Particular Kingdom, sister to Universalic, described in three phases: the ancient Particular proper, mediaeval Royal Particular and modern Popular Particular.

The most important Marine group is that of the Benthic languages: Whale and Shark, diverging from Proto-Benthic in late antiquity are the main two of these, with Orca as a sister of Whale, diverging in mediaeval times. Plankton and Krill are the only members of the Pelagic group -- both suppressed in the middle ages, displaced by Insular Majoritic and languages of the Lovely family respectively. Plankton was driven to extinction by early modern times, and Krill was used as a religious language of diaspora by the Krill-speakers expelled from Loveliland, although a reconstructed Modern Krill is now spoken, albeit with a lot of Martial and Religious influence.


The Apeshit languages, of which Loco is the only important language in any period of history, and that modern, with its minor sister language of Coocoo diverging from proto-Apeshit in ancient times.


The languages of There mostly belong to the Exotico-Odd group, but also contains the most divergent Batshit group of languages.



Consonant Inventories

The consonant inventory of Shapshiruckish is quite small, with only thirteen items, and one common cluster: . There is a great deal of allophony and the quality of several phonemes is unclear: There are three probable fricatives reconstructed, traditionally written , and . (Actually, in the Classical Glorious equivalent of the Roman numerals) There are also three sibilants: written s, ß and ś. Various reconstructed values are given in the table below in the third row:

pt c (k)
b d g
(f, v, x, kʃ) (θ, ð, ʧ, z) (ʔ, h)
s ß (z, ʦ, ʤ, zˀ) ś (ʃ,sˀ)

Besselheim, on the evidence of Apeshit, reconstructs a system where glottalisation is the predominant means of distinction, reaching even to the stops:

p t k
f z ʔ

however, the most generally accepted reconstruction is that of Himmelfahrt:

p t k
b d g
f θ h/ʔ
s z ʃ


i u ɯ
a ɒ


i u w
a o


Three diphthongs are reconstructed: the falling ie and the rising ai and ui.

Vocal Ⅰ

is sometimes found in vocal position, as in *reśⅠ knot and *gⅠgog to show. It is possible this is a reduction from a former group *əⅠə, *əⅠ, or the like, where was a weak vowel, perhaps displaced by e, and which was lost.


Common to all these reconstructions is the absence of any nasal consonants, a cause of slight concern, but there is allophonic evidence for the presence of phonetic nasals.

It is probable that, at least in some environments, the realisation of *pś was nasal. Evidence for this is found in Martial, where a proto-form *m or *mb is reconstructed corresponding to Shapshiruckish *pś (c.f. Religio-Marine *ps, Batshit *ss), strengthened by the Martial *(s)n for Shapshiruckish ś.

The two rounded back vowels u and o may also have been partially nasalised; certainly this is one area where Proto-Religio-Marine appears to have acquired its full set of *m *n *ŋ: cf.

However, it is also likely that the voiced stops had some nasal character, which was strengthened before back vowels in these cases.


Stress is on the first syllable.

It would be nice if there was some more.

Schwarzweiss and Pre-Shapshiruckish


Zauberer Schwarzweiss reconstructs the following consonant inventory for Pre-Shapshiruckish:

p t k
m n ŋ
f s ʃ

The nasals become oralised, retaining only allophonic prenasalisation, creating:

p t k
[ᵐ]b [ⁿ]d [ᵑ]g
f s ʃ

The palatals are unstable, undergoing the following changes:

*/dʲ/ merges with */ɟ/ to form ß -- which is therefore probably of the form */ɟ/ or */ʤ/

*/pʲ/ merges with */c/ to form -- which is therefore probably of the form */c/ or */ʧ/

He is less certain about what happens to */tʲ/. It possibly also merges into */c/.

*/bʲ/ > */bʒ/ > */pʃ/ to form . To complete the series stop+ʃ he also reconstructs */kʃ/ for in Pre-Shapshiruckish, which then becomes */f/. The descendant of the original pre-Shapshiruckish */f/ is , weakened to */h/. This is convenient for his panreconstructionist theories, but has not been the most popular part of his reconstructed phonology, which is then:

p t k
b d g
(kʃ >) f ʧ h
s r ʃ


His pre-Shapshiruckish vowel system is the seven vowels below and two, rising, dipthongs */ai, oi/:

i u
e ə o
a ɒ

*/o/ > */u/, dragging */oi/ > */ui/ and */u/ > */ɯ/

*/e/ > */iə/, making the reconstructed vowel system above.


Words, or at least roots, have a strong tendency to contain open syllables initially and medially, although closed syllables are the rule finally. But many common derivational suffixes such as *-u nominative marker and *-gai past tense marker are open, causing many words to end in an open syllable anyway, causing frequent liaison and sandhi.

Parts of Speech

Henceforth, the use of asterisks to denote reconstructed forms will be suppressed, except where relevant, or in non-Shapshiruckish examples, to avoid clutter.


Nominal Paradigm

The nominal paradigm is illustrated with sog girl. The nounword is suffixing, with two places after the root. The first place is taken by the case marker thus:

Nominative sogu
Accusative sogbu
Genitive I sogca
Genitive II sogtai
Genitive III sogⅡe
Dative sogⅠo

The quantity markers are then appended:

Nullative Acc. sogbuc
Unitive Acc. sogbut
Partitive Acc. sogbup
Plural / Totative Acc. sogbusi

The Classes

Shapshiruckish nouns fall into one of ten classes, each of which has a number and a name:


Personal pronouns

1 2 3
S pśi pip dⅠd
Pl bo gier se

The pronouns ca this and cui that are used as indefinite pronouns, where English would use 'one' or 'you'

Verbs (incl. Big Adjectives)

Verbal Paradigms

śirruc to speak
Simple śirruc
Perfective śirrucdu
Aorist śirrucgai
Simple Irrealis śirructui
Negative śirructuit
Interrogative śirructuiⅠ
Imperative śirructuig
Future śirructuitui
Future Negative śirructuituit
Future Interrogative śirructuituiⅠ
Future Imperative śirructuituig
Future Perfective śirrucdutuitui
Dynamic Participle śirrucⅠubu
Patient Participle uśirrucu

Little Adjectives

The little adjectives, or adjectives proper, are a small, closed class of about 30 monosyllabic indeclinable members. They describe some basic qualities that nouns may have, and mostly form dichotomous pairs, e.g. cwg/guip big/small, saⅡ/Ⅱws empty/full, and śaiś/Ⅲos good/bad. They are the more primitive of the two classes of adjectives because of reasons.

The colour adjectives, although they do not all have the same monosyllabic and dichotomous properties, behave similarly to the little adjectives, and so are grouped in with them. They are a closed class of six basic colour terms (cateⅡ white, saicis black, di red, sorup yellow, caidßus green and ciś blue). There is evidence to believe that this colour system derived from a more primitive two-term system, where ciś and di acted as little adjectives, denoting light and dark shades respectively. With cateⅡ and saicis being introduced to denote particuarly intensely bright or dark colours, and perhaps also with the introduction of the other two colour terms, these original terms became specialised to refer to blue and red shades.

The question adjectives are five little adjectives, used in forming questions: who, where, why, when, how. How they are used (including, as the observant reader may wonder, how 'what'-questions are dealt with) is explained in the appropriate section, but it is this subclass of little adjectives which are the main cause for speculation that, in pre-Shapshiruckish, the little adjectives were less marginal and quite a different sort of thing altogether.

Ordinal numbers (q.v.) up to Ⅲigpot fifth are also little adjectives.


The postnouns are determiners, marking their nouns for class and number (or demonstrativity). It is almost invariably mandatory to place them after all nouns (though not pronouns), and are a major contributor to the ponderous, lengthy quality of Shapshiruckish utterances; thus whenever one finds a pśeⅡu woman-NOM, epśe, the Class I singular determinant will frequently also be found.

They are formed through the simple addition of a class-marking ending to a number-marking stem. These are:

Singular Dual Plural This That
e- bw- sie- cui- ca-


-pśe -Ⅲai -cu -ro -Ⅱw -pi -di -śⅠ -so -dai

yielding, bearing in mind that only Classes I, II, VII, IX and X form duals, and that Class III nouns do not even form plurals, the combined forms:

Singular Dual Plural This That
Class I Humane epśe bwpśe siepśe cuipśe capśe
Class II Vital eⅢai bwⅢai sieⅢai cuiⅢai caⅢai
Class III Maculo-Viral ecu - - cuicu cacu
Class IV Dynamic ero - siero cuiro caro
Class V Platic eⅡw - sieⅡw cuiⅡw caⅡw
Class VI Locative epi - siepi cuipi capi
Class VII Instrument edi bwdi siedi cuidi cadi
Class VIII Abstract eśⅠ - sieśⅠ cuiśⅠ caśⅠ
Class IX Patientive eso bwso sieso cuiso caso
Class X Miscellaneous edai bwdai siedai cuidai cadai

If a little adjective is also modifying the noun, this is cliticised onto the postnoun and hyphenated, and so the woman above may happen to be a pśeⅡu epśe-cwg big woman. The chief exception to this is with proper nouns, where little adjectives are cliticised directly onto nouns, as they are with pronouns, thus: the name Sog-Ceß ~ sogu epśe-ceß, a cold girl.

Postnouns are the chief locus for marking class information grammatically, however the classes are also commonly distinguished by the use of different copula-verbs. q.v. the relevant section on the copula for more detail.


boc or
ci if
tid and
ⅡⅠ so
ⅡⅠ tid because



The reconstructed numeral system is tedious, and it is doubtful, whatever reality we can, in the end, ascribe to it, whether it survived much once people started actually having to use the larger numbers (where 'larger' means 'greater than 20') with any sort of regularity. The large number of differing systems in its descendant languages nevertheless impels us to reconstruct something like it.

The main annoyance is that Shapshiruckish forms larger numbers by coordinating together small numbers in the "three-and-twenty" format. This does not sound so bad until it is remembered that Shapshiruckish only has basic terms for the numbers 1-4 and 10, and that such coordinations are formed by means of numerals and that any numeral, once formed, is a valid coordinator: 'x y n' denoting 'x and also n-1 of y'!

The result is a system that is criticised by Fleischnitter as being an artificial, unnatural, and even camp construct; but a few realists, most notably Sauberungli, suggest that it is a system of magical or religious origin, real but transitional, or even a premature attempt at place value denotation!

In any case, the numbers 1 - 10 go on firm ground:

1 Ⅰußer
2 bwśer
3 daiśer
4 taber
5 Ⅲigobic
6 Ⅰucas
7 bwcas
8 daicas
9 tacas
10 gobic

Where it is clear that 1-4 and 6-9 form pairs, 6-9 derived from 1-4, possibly by the replacement of the meaningless (or bleached?) -(ś)er by -cas, the little adjective for new or young; that gobic is the same as the word for hand; and that Ⅲigobic is literally half-hand.

The numerals up to fifteen are then relatively straightforward:

11 gobic-Ⅰußer-bwśer
12 gobic-bwśer-bwśer
13 gobic-daiśer-bwśer
14 gobic-taber-bwśer
15 Ⅲigobic-daiśer

bwśer being the simplest and most common coordinator, 11-14 are simply ten and one, ten and two, etc., and 15, Ⅲigobic-daiśer, is quite plainly five thrice, or algebraically, as the explanation will go from now on, 5⊗3, where circled multiplication ⊗ denotes the use of the numeral to the right of the multiplication sign as a coordinating numeral for the number, or list of numbers, to the left of it. Circled addition ⊕ denotes the simple use of bwśer to coordinate the two addenda.

In the numbers 16-19, following on from 15, the unit of account remains multiples of Ⅲigobic:

16 Ⅰußer-Ⅲigobic-taber
17 bwśer-Ⅲigobic-taber
18 daiśer-Ⅲigobic-taber
19 taber-Ⅲigobic-taber
20 gobwśer

Which can be interpreted: [1,5]⊗4, [2,5]⊗4, ... .

Be careful not to interpret this as implying, e.g. 1+(5*4) = 21. The reason for this is that the use of taber as a coordinator is not strictly a multiplier: it opens up four 'slots' for noun phrases, into which all explicit noun phrases given are put, and all remaining gaps are filled up with implicit copies of the final noun phrase mentioned. Thus [1,5]⊗4 is '1 and 5 and 5 and 5', not 1 and 4*(5).

gobwśer is a mercifully abbreviated form of gobic bwśer ten and, or, if we abuse the algebra similarly to the abuse of English, 10⊕. We have internal evidence to permit us to reconstruct this form this far back, by looking at the higher numerals:

21 gobwśer-Ⅰußer-bwśer
22 gobwśer-bwśer-bwśer
23 gobwśer-daiśer-bwśer
24 gobwśer-taber-bwśer
25 Ⅲigobic-Ⅲigobic
26 Ⅰußer-Ⅲigobic-Ⅰucas
27 bwśer-Ⅲigobic-Ⅰucas
28 daiśer-Ⅲigobic-Ⅰucas
29 taber-Ⅲigobic-Ⅰucas
30 gobaiśer

At which point, the game is up. Integer multiples of 10, (10n), have special names; for numbers of the value (not numerals of the form) (10n)+m, for m between 1 and 4, the form is, translated algebraically, 10(n-1)⊕m; for m = 5, it is 5⊗(2n+1), and for m between 6 and 9, the form is [10-m,5]⊗(2n+1)

If you follow that, 31 - 40 should be obvious:

31 gobaiśer-Ⅰußer-bwśer
32 gobaiśer-bwśer-bwśer
33 gobaiśer-daiśer-bwśer
34 gobaiśer-taber-bwśer
35 Ⅲigobic-bwcas
36 Ⅰußer-illigobic-daicas
37 bwśer-Ⅲigobic-daicas
38 daiśer-Ⅲigobic-daicas
39 taber-Ⅲigobic-daicas
40 gobaber

And 50 is gobigobic. Beyond this, the reasoning falls apart -- either one simply runs out of basic numbers to use, or a numerical system which is already an awkward hybrid of decimal and quintary systems starts to use other factors, or the names of the numerals grow even longer, or names become ambiguous. Objections along these lines are the mainstay of anti-realist arguments for the whole system, and truthfully, beyond this point, reconstructions become too sketchy to be worth pursuing.

100 is gegaitos. 1000 is surecad.


Their use is quite simple; numerals are never used alone, and only modify nouns. They are placed between the noun they modify and its postnoun, so:

Pśiu raißbu epśe pogdegai!

1s-nom nose-acc is cut.off-past

I cut off a nose!


Pśiu raißbu bwśer-Ⅲigobic-daicas siepśe pogdegai!

1s-nom nose-acc thirty.seven ipl cut.off-past

I cut off 37 noses!

Ordinal Numbers

There are special forms for the first five ordinals, which act like little adjectives:

1st Ⅲuśpot
2nd godpot
3rd daipot
4th tapot
5th Ⅲigpot


Pipu rorwbu eⅢa-godpot puituig!

2pl-nom feather-acc iis=second take-irr-imp

You, take the second feather!

For higher ordinals, mark the noun with the partitive, and n.b. that the noun is singular:

Pśiu raißbup bwśer-Ⅲigobic-daicas epśe pogdegai!

1s-nom nose-acc-part thirty.seven is cut.off-past

I cut off the 37th nose!


The Verb

Simple Verbs

The simple and unmarked form of the verb denotes a present tense verb of continuous aspect:

DⅠdu picai.

3s-nom work

He is working.

Except for big adjectives, which by default are perfective:

DⅠdu bib.

3s-nom be.strong

He is (a) strong (one).

The copula

There are two forms of the copula in Shapshiruckish: the null-copula and the verb-copula. The null-copula denotes a temporary, or transient state of affairs between the two noun phrases thus copulated, while a verb-copula denotes a kind of permanence, or of affirmation.

DⅠdu corśaißu epśe.

3s-nom lord-nom is (cop)

He is the lord (for now).


DⅠdu corśaißu epśe pas.

3s-nom lord-nom is icop

He is the lord indeed!

There are six different verbs used to form verb-copulas, depending on noun class:

Classes I, VII, VIII and X: pas, the 'default' copula, used only for this purpose.
Class II: ratip, derived from tip to go, also used only as a copula.
Class III: gißgiß, or, to weigh upon, also used in other capacities, as are the remaining copulas.
Class IV: sip, or, to come.
Class V: bwrsa, or, to press together.
Classes VI and IX: taibwd, or, to occur.

DⅠdu gicribu eⅢai ratip

3s-nom whale-nom iis iicop

It is really a whale!


DⅠdu lubaidu ecu gißgiß

3s-nom night-nom iiis iiicop

Certainly, it is night.

In cases where nouns of two different classes are being copulated, the lowest number -- and so notionally most animate -- class is used:

Ⅰairsiru cuiⅢai Ⅰicßieu ecu ratip.

flower-nom iithis food-nom iiis iicop

This flower is edible (lit. a food).

The verb-copula is also the form used when the verb is complex, e.g. negative, or in a tense other than the present, q.v. the relevant sections:

DⅠdu corśaißu epśe pasgai.

3s-nom lord-nom is icop-past

He was the lord (at the time).

No sense of permanence is necessarily implied here, even though pas is being used as copula.

The Perfective

Recall that big adjectives are perfective by default, since they describe a state of affairs more or less complete in itself, but that regular verbs describe a continuing action. In order to make them perfective, the suffix -du is added:

Pśitusi ecu pudu Ⅰacib to.

skull-nom-pl 3s weep-perf still neg

Skulls no longer weep.

Dynamicised Big Adjectives

But suppose that we should wish to describe a continuing action using big adjectives. In order to do this, it is necessary to nominalise the big adjective and cast it into Class IV -- that is, to dynamicise it. To do the first step of nominalisation, the agentive suffix -Ⅰub is put before the case marker:

DⅠdu bibⅠubu ero.

3s-nom be.strong-age-nom ivs (cop)

He is being strong (for now).

The Aorist

The suffix -gai added to a verb, as well as indicating that the action took place in the past, adds a perfective sense similar to -du. This means that the use of both suffixes is redundant, and also that, by itself, -gai marks the aorist tense:

Gictit siero garebusi siepi dⅠpogai cwgab.

storm-nom ivs house-acc-pl vipl break-past many

The storm broke many houses.

The Past Continuous

There is no special suffix or combination of suffixes in order to indicate that an action in the past was an ongoing affair. Instead, it is necessary to employ a dummy Genitive I pronoun and the postposition ßw at alongside -gai:

GⅠbusi epśe seca ßw siepduibgai.

child-nom-pl ipl 3pl-geni at wake-past

The children were waking up.

Recall that in order to make big adjectives continuous, it is necessary to dynamicise them. This is just as true if they describe qualities that were present at some point in the past:

DⅠdu bibⅠubu ero pasgai

3s-nom be.strong-age-nom ivs icop-past

He was being strong (at the time).

The Irrealis Forms

A series of irrealis verb forms are formed with the irrealis suffix -tui plus a further suffix. I haven't decided what to do when there's no further suffix, but it is probably subjunctive (see the Nixon in China example)

The cohortative can be formed by using the simple irrealis form with the adverb casab now:

ⅡipcecwⅢou eśⅠ dietigdu -- bou cotui casab!

talk-nmls-abs-nom viiis waste-perf 1p-nom fight-irr now

Jabbering is useless -- let's fight!

The Negative

A verb can be negated in two ways:

The Adverbial Negative, in which the adverb to is added after the verb:

Pśiu potaiⅡbu cuicu got to.

1s-nom beer-acc iiithis want neg

I don't want this beer.

or the Irrealis Negative where the suffix -t is added after -tui:

Bou gierbu Ⅲugtuit!

1pl-nom 2pl-acc wait-irr-neg

We are not waiting for you lot!

The Interrogative

Yes/no questions can be formed from statements by adding the suffix -Ⅰ after -tui:

Pipu dieśidtuiⅠ gaib?

2s-nom be.afraid-irr-int always

Are you always afraid?

What if/suppose...

The Imperative

Adding -g instead turns a statement into a command:

Pipu apadwgußbu pśica epśe cwⅡactuig!

2s-nom scrotum-acc 1s-geni is lick-irr-imp

Lick my ballsack!

The imperative of taibwd to occur is used to denote "make x happen" or "cause x to be" where x is a class IV noun in the accusative case:

Pipu ßierⅠubbu ero puißca eⅢai dⅠdⅠo taibwdtuig to!

2s-nom bite-age-acc ivs dog-geni iis 3s-dat occur-irr-imp neg

Don't make the dog bite him

The Future

Reduplicating the suffix to produce -tuitui produces the effect of speaking about a future, but doubtful, event. It is best translated as "We will (likely) be X-ing" since, in contrast to the aorist -gai, the continuous character of the unmarked verb is carried through:

Dodieśusi epśe bou soptai epi rⅠcwrtuitui śo poguis.

wise.man-pl-nom ipl 1pl-nom moon-genii vis dwell-irr-fut rel believe

The wise men believe we will be living in the moon.

To make it perfective, then -du can be added:

RapśiⅢu edai pipⅠo sipdutuitui.

angel-nom xs 2s-dat come-perf-irr-fut

An angel will come to you.

The sense of the previous sentence is not quite An angel may come to you -- one way to express this is to add the adverb cogab to maybe -- but nor is it proclaiming a certainty, either: for that, some positive adverb is necessary. It need not be cogab certainly, although this is a good and neutral choice; any positive adverb is enough to neutralise the doubtful nature of the future tense, even if it is not inherently semantically certain:

RapśiⅢu edai pipⅠo sipdutuitui Ⅱwsab.

angel-nom xs 2s-dat come-perf-irr-fut every

Every angel will (surely) come to you.

The Noun

Case Markers

Nominative and Accusative
Genitives I, II and III
The Dative

The dative is used to denote directions. morning-dat and evening-dat mean to the west and to the west respectively. The Genitive I/II forms can be used, without locativisation, to denote 'in the east/west'.

Quantity Markers

Quantity markers are a further sophistication of noun role in a sentence, and are added after the case suffix. There are four forms: the Nullative, Unitive, Partitive and the Plural derived from the old Totative. Each of these forms adds a specific quality to nouns generally, are mandatory in certain forms, and are used in a special way in general discourse (q.v.):

The Nullative

The nullative marks:

The absence of a noun:

Pogdicuc capśirśutai epi gißgiß.

blood-nom-nul corpse-genii vis iiicop

There is no blood in the corpse.


Pogdicu capśirśutaic epi gißgiß.

blood-nom corpse-genii-nul vis iiicop

The blood is not in the body (i.e. it has bled out)

The negative of a participle


You must not drink this beer.

The Unitive

The Unitive marks:

The equivalent of the English modifier 'the ... only'

You were the only man who cried.

With a plural postnoun, "all..."

All the men cried.

Something done, put, or offered in exchange for, some one other object [grammatically, but not necessarily physically unified]. In this case, the two objects are put in the unitive quantity, with varying case strategies, e.g.:

The Single Dative, obligatory with some verbs:

Pipu śesuśibaⅠot edai gipastuiⅠ?

1s-nom goddess-dat-unit xs pretend.to.be-irr-int

Suppose you pretend to be a goddess?

The Double Dative, often reduplicative:

Pśiu pipbu ⅡiesⅠubⅠot ⅡiesⅠubⅠot cogai.

1s-nom 2s-acc strike-dyn-dat-unit strike-dyn-dat-unit fight-past

I fought you blow-for-blow.

The Single Accusative with a null secondary example is used in forming questions in order to propose deals. Note that the following example, although grammatically singular, also works where there are multiple eggs:

Pśiu baitbut cuicu gⅠgogtuiⅠ?

1s-nom egg-acc-unit iiithis show-irr-int

What would you give for these eggs? lit. I show you these eggs for?

TODO: effect of using different verbs in this construct

as with e.g. buying and selling

The Partitive

The Partitive marks:

"Some of x" constructions:

The Plural/Totative

There are two main ways to form plurals in Shapshiruckish, and the quantity marker -si is the simplest. It is fairest to describe this as a plural marker, but its origin is as a totative along similar lines to the rest of the quantity markers. Thus:

PśeⅡusi siepśe picai.

woman-nom-pl ip work

Some women are working.

also carries the meaning All the women are working, but this is ambiguous. To clarify, the adverb Ⅰacab all can be added to the end. To further confuse matters, the 'all x' function is frequently transferred to the Unitive, and this is the form found in descendant languages, apart from some fixed expressions.

Note that all plural/totative nouns have plural number, and never dual.

The Little Adjectives


The following are all the little adjectives which can be reliably reconstructed. 24 of them form dichotomous pairs:

Ⅲos bad śaiś good
cwg big guip small
ceß cold tuir hot
saⅡ empty Ⅱws full
Ⅰar few Ⅰaß many
śai hard bir soft
pśuß left pis right
Ⅰas old cas young/new
Ⅱwß rough (texture) cod smooth
rwc rough/crude ror smooth/round
peś short cair long
Ⅰuis self śas other

and four unpaired little adjectives:

Ⅰac all tar tall
śwś dry Ⅲur RESERVED 2

The colour adjectives are similar:

cateⅡ white saicis black
di red ciś blue
sorup yellow caidßus green

As are the five question adjectives:

paß who capś where
goś why taid when
Ⅰub how

Basic Usage

Little adjectives modify nouns by cliticising onto the end of the postnoun, or pronoun:

torosu eⅢai-cwg

cow-nom iis=big

the big cow




the bad one

or even:



we bad ones

Usage of Multiple Little Adjectives

Only one little adjective can be cliticised at once, and so the following is not a valid utterance:

*torosu eⅢai-cwg-Ⅲos

*the bigbad cow

Instead, the primary little adjective remains cliticised onto the postnoun, and to use secondary (tertiary etc.) little adjectives, it is necessary to use dummy pronouns. The noun and pronouns are then coordinated in the usual numerical manner, except instead the numeral Ⅰußer one is used, to signify the unitary nature of the noun plus dummy pronouns:

torosu dⅠdu-Ⅲos Ⅰußer eⅢai-cwg

cow-nom 3s-nom=bad one;co iis=big

the big, bad cow

Which particular little adjective is primary is largely a matter of style, but colour adjectives are primary over little adjectives, but not necessarily ordinal numbers:

Bou Ⅰupbasi seu-guip Ⅰußer sieⅢai-caidßus Ⅱegdutuit.

1pl-nom root-acc-pl 3pl=small one;co iip=green eat-perf-irr-neg

We don't eat the little green roots.

Nominal Usage of Colour Adjectives

Colour adjectives can, however, also be used as nouns:

Pipu saicisbusi siepśe reśtuig!

2s-nom black-acc-pl ipl kill-irr-imp

Kill the black people!

Colour adjectives being used as nouns have, as one might expect, no fixed class, and are assigned an ad hoc class to fit in with their context -- thus, with slight modification:

Pipu saicisbusi sieⅢai reśtuig!

2s-nom black-acc-pl iipl kill-irr-imp

Kill the black beasts!

Question Adjectives

The various transformations involved with little adjectives are also used to form wh-type questions. Suppose:

Tetetu epśe baitbu ecu gipuigai.

monkey-nom is egg-acc iiis steal-past

The monkey stole the egg.

Then by using the interrogative pronoun Ⅲe and by cliticising the question adjective paß to it, we can ask:

Ⅲeu-paß baitbu ecu gipuigai?

q-nom=who egg-acc iiis steal-past

Who stole the egg?

Ⅲe is not necessary -- the question adjective can be cliticised onto a noun (or rather, a postnoun) instead:

ẞwßpau eⅢai-paß baitbu ecu gipuigai?

pest-nom iis=who egg-acc iiis steal-past

Which varmint stole the egg?

Note that question adjectives are always primary:

ẞwßpau dⅠdu-Ⅲos Ⅰußer eⅢai-paß baitbu ecu gipuigai?

pest-nom 3s-nom=bad one;co iis=who egg-acc iiis steal-past

Which wicked varmint stole the egg?

The exception to the use of the question adjective is for 'what' questions. There is no question adjective corresponding to it, and so the use of a bare interrogative dummy pronoun and coordinator is needed. N.B. also that there is no wh-movement:

Tetetu epśe (Ⅰicßiebu ecu) Ⅲebu (Ⅰußer) gipuigai?

monkey-nom is (food-acc iiis) q-acc (one;co) steal-past

What (food) did the monkey steal?

Complications of Postnouns

The postnominal system is one of the most cumbersome parts of Shapshiruckish.


TODO: modal verbs cannot be negated -- use nullative participle

Locative Constructions

The Genitive I and Genitive II cases can be used respectively, along with locativisation of a secondary noun, to denote that the referent of a noun is habitually of or f rom the secondary noun:

Cocucwsu pigasigca epi dociśba.

warrior-nom river-geni vis be.drunk

The warrior from the river is drunk.

or that the referent is presently, or within the relevant timeframe, in or at the secondary noun:

Cocucwsu pigasigtai epi dociśba.

warrior-nom river-genii vis be.drunk

The warrior is drunk in the river.


TODO: shapshiruckise and generalise milk-AUG IN milk-PEJ OUT find-1P-GNOM for 'real milk is better than fake milk'

Numerical Coordination

Coordinating Pluralisation employs the numeral coordination system (q.v.) and so it is usable only when a precise number is specified. It can form both the dual:

PśeⅡu bwśer bwpśe picai.

woman-nom two;co idu work

Two women (lit. a woman and a woman) are working.

and the plural:

PśeⅡu tacas siepśe picai.

woman-nom nine;co ipl work

Nine women are working.

Coordinating Pluralisation is more 'stylish', since more effects can be achieved by using it:

PśeⅡu pśwraśu bwśer siepśe picai.

woman-nom man-nom two;co ipl work

The woman and the man are working.

Notice that the postnoun is marking a plural, not a dual. When two different nouns are coordinated together in this way, the dual is only used in a few circumstances:

Pśwraśu sogu bwpśe Ⅱo.

man-nom girl-nom two;co idu fuck

The man and the girl are fucking.


Suisu baitdau bwśer bwⅢai uⅡiepuiśu eso.

bird-nom nest-nom two;co iidu pat-separate-nom ixs

The bird is taken from the nest (lit. The bird and the nest are being separated).

This example also illustrates the principle that when two nouns of differing classes are coordinated in this way, the postnoun used after the coordination marks the class of highest animacy -- typically the lowest number. baitda is class VI, but suis is class II.

More than two nouns can be coordinated at once:

Pśwraśu śedretu puißu daiśer siepśe dieß.

man-nom horse-nom dog-nom three;co ipl be.thirsty

The man, the horse and the dog are thirsty.

Derivational Morphology

Different branches of the family have their own, special, affixes commonly found applied to roots. Those mentioned in this grammar are those which can be commonly found in multiple branches. For more specific forms, which may date to the time of Shapshirucksh, see the respective proto-language grammars.

Nominal Derivative Morphology

Noun-Noun Compounding

There are very few compound nouns in Shapshiruckish.


There are some cases of reduplication. It is not very productive.


Ⅱad- beyond
gic- augmentative
apa- be like
śap- benefactive
tieś- lacking
twg- malefactive
die- before
ri- having
Ⅱip- together
cieś- concerning
do- personified


-Ⅲo abstract

Usually seen along the nominaliser -cw-

-cu and -rwt augmentative

-cu is used with nouns of classes I-III and IX. -rwt with those of classes IV-VIII and X

-ciep and -piß diminutive

-ciep is used with nouns of classes I-III and IX. -piß with those of classes IV-VIII and X

-ba feminine
-doga made from
-da about
-śu within which

Noun Classes and Derivation

Five of the noun classes are open, meaning that nouns created through the nominalisation of verbs, and nouns derived through various processes belong to them:

Class IV: Dynamicisation

A verb can be dynamicised by adding the suffix -Ⅰub after it, but before the case marker. As well as letting big adjectives describing continuous action (q.v.), the other main use of dynamicisation is to form agentives from verbs, e.g.:

ⅡipßutwⅠubu ero gipuiⅠubbu ero docißdu.

dance-age-nom ivs steal-age-acc ivs love-perf

The dancer loves the thief.

However, sometimes the result is 'action caused by Xing'. This is lexical, with some verbs taking one form or the other, or both.

Class VI: Locativisation

No special suffixes are necessary to locativise a noun -- it is simply moved to Class VI. Genitive constructions (q.v.) can then be used to place indirect objects in a locative relationship with a referent. If a verb is nominalised with -cws and used in this way, the resulting noun denotes a 'place where X happens':

Pigasigu ero dⅠdca picaicwsu epi.

river-nom 3s-geni ivs work-nmls-nom vis (cop)

The river is his workplace.

Class VII: Instrumentalisation

As with locativisation, no special prefixes are needed to instrumentalise a noun -- just reassignment to class VII. Verbs are first patientised by adding the prefix u- and then assigned to class VII. Instrumentalised nouns are used in several constructions, including:

Modals (q.v.)

Various Instrumental Passives or Passive-Aggressives:

The shifts of meaning that the passive-aggressive alternatives undergo carries through to their general use in the other constructions. There is also heavy use of the following opaque suppletive passive-aggressive forms of some common verbs, obligatory with the modals:

Normal Instrumental Gloss
pui gie take
tip śaßad go
sip todw come
got śuggot want
gup ciscub change
cui rudaid do


Pipu cuituiⅠ! Pipu urudaidⅡe edi Ⅰoc! citoßu pśica ero piptai!

2s-nom do-irr-imp | 2s-nom pat-do-geniii viis be.able | trust-nom 1s-geni ivs 2s-genii (cop)

Do it! You can do it! I believe in you!

Note that cui can be used intransitively, as above.

and also the following paraphrase of Schopenhauer:

You can do what you want, but you cannot want what you want.

Class IX: Passivisation

The usual passive construction in Shapshiruckish is to a) turn the action into a patientised noun by adding the prefix u- and appropriate case marker and postnoun b) place the actor in a Genitive II relation towards it with the suffix -tai, c) Promote the patient to the actor and d) Copulate the new actor and the patientised action:

Dut-Colu dwbabbu eⅢai ⅡoⅡaibgai.

Dut.Col-nom apple-acc iis throw-past

Dut-Col threw the apple.



Dwbabu eⅢai Dut-Coltai uⅡoⅡaibu eso ratipgai.

apple-nom iis Dut.Col-genii pat-throw-nom ixs iicop-past

The apple was thrown by Dut-Col (lit.: The apple was a throw of Dut-Col's).

or alternatively, with promotion of the new patient:

UⅡoⅡaibu eso Dut-Coltai dwbabu eⅢai ratipgai.

pat-throw-nom ixs Dut.Col-genii apple-nom iis iicop-past

lit.: Dut-Col's throw was an apple.

Intransitive constructions go from:

ẞetßiecu eⅢai ßier.

wolf-nom iis bite

The wolf is biting.


Ußieru eso ßetßiectai eⅢai cau.

pat-bite-nom ixs wolf-genii iis that-nom (cop)

That is the biting of a wolf.

Class VIII: Abstraction

Many Shapshiruckish abstractions are formed by this process. Nouns have -Ⅲo added to the stem, and verbs have either simply -cws, a nominaliser or a combined -cws-Ⅲo. In either case, the noun produced belongs to Class VIII.:

BotcwⅢou cuiśⅠ dieś.

judge-nmls-abs-nom viiithis be.wise

This decision is wise.


Pirsutśu eⅡw suicairßieca sieⅡw ⅢerßwßⅢoca eśⅠ

garden-nom vs patah-geni vpl branch-abs-geni viiis

The garden of bifurcating paths

Discourse, Set Phrases and Fixed Expressions

Quantity Markers in Discourse

Generally, nouns are not marked for quantity, unless the 'main function' of the quantity marker is clearly intended -- the absence of a noun for the nullative, "the only..." for the unitive or "some" for the partitive -- or it is plural, or it is used in some larger syntactic structure, e.g. the Single Dative Unitive.

The three consonantal quantity-markers (nul, unit, part)forms can also be used outside of these, in wider discourse. The significant feature is that a particular noun gains or loses quantity-marking either a) explicitly in the discourse, such as in a monologue or b) offered up potentially in a dialogue.

The particular qualities suggested by the three markers are: