7. Syntax

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Word order

The word order of Zhâburi is very free because of the many suffixes. The normal word order is that of subject (S), object (O) and verb (V) – or OSV. This can be contrasted to the normal English word order SVO, i.e. The man (S) saw (V) a tree (O). The word order of Zhâburi is quite free because of the languages is highly inflicted, i.e. it has a lot of cases and other endings that mark the function of the word which means that it does not have to rely on the order of words.

The predominant word sequence is thus  “(Ergative) – Absolutive – Verb”. The verb can appear at the start of the sentence for emphasis. Nouns in the directive and locative usually follow the verb or appear between the ergative and the absolutive. But when the directive marks the indirect object (dative object) it usually follows preceded the verb. The genitive-attribute, the possessive, the instrumental, the equative, the attributive adjective normally precede their reference noun. The genitive most often follow the verb when it marks direction from.

Absolutive (A)
Ergative (E)
Genitive (G)
Possessive (P)
Directive (D)
Locative (L)
Instrumental (I)
Equative (Q)

Examples with subject and direct objects marked by absolutive and ergative:

  1. Uruk thrakazul “an orc will bring it” (orc (A) bring-will-it (V, enclitic pronoun).
  2. Uruk-igha ghâsh thrakag “the orc brings fire” (Orc-the (E) fire (A) brings (V))

Genitive
a) Olog-igha uruk-khu lug gimbash “The trolls found the tower of orcs” (trolls-the (E) orcs-of (G) tower (A) found (V))
b) Gûl-gha nazgi thrakuz sharkû-khu “A wraith will take the ring from the old man” (a wraith (S) the-ring (A) will-take (V) oldman-from (G))

Possessive
Olog-gha uruk-iba ghâsh thrakag “a troll takes the orc’s fire” (a troll (E) the orc’s (P) fire (A) takes (V)).

Directive
a) Tark thrakush lug-za “Humans came to the tower” (humans (A) came (V) tower-to (D))
b) Sharkû-igha nazg gûl-za atash “The old man will give the ring to a wraith”.  

Locative
Tark lug-za thrakush vosh-ishi  “Humans came to the tower on the road” (humans tower-to came road-the-on) [In this sentence ‘the humans’ were on the road, if ‘the tower’ was on the road ‘vosh’ (road) is subject to suffixaufnahme: tark lug-za thrakush vosh-shidiza].

Instrumental
Uruk-igha ghâsh-zi tark durbag “The orcs rule over men with fire” (Orcs-the (E) fire-with (I) humans (A) rule (V))

Equative
Uruki durbudug bag-bi “The orc that rules is like shit” [The ruling orc is like shit] comparative

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