This grammar description of Asha'ille should describe all aspects of the language. Feel free to let me know if I've missed some section of the grammar, or if something is unclear. However, please note that I'm still in the process of rewriting these grammar notes, so there are some "TODO" notes-to-self scattered throughout.


Nouns are only marked for number: singular or plural. There is no grammatical gender or case. A plain noun is singular, while one with -im suffixed is plural. There is also a second type of plural marker, -im̤da, which has a broader meaning. For example:

women (some specific women)
all women

If the noun ends in a vowel, the suffix is simply -m:

rats (some specific rats)
all rats

Use these vocabulary words in the following questions:

  • aimenad village
  • cresin home
1. homes
2. all homes
3. aimenadim
4. aimenadim'da

Word Order

Asha'ille is a fairly strict VSO language.

Subjects and Objects

Subject and object(s) are separated by ne. The ne is required before all objects, even if the subject is only implicitly given:

to eat
nagov nagá ne palaem
the rat eats the grain
nagov ne palaem
(something) eats the grain
the grain is eaten

Note that English word grain is a mass noun, and thus does not to a plural -s. On the other hand, the Asha'ille word palae is a count noun, and thus does take the plural -im.

Multiple subjects may follow the verb. Again, ne indicates where the subjects end and the objects begin:

nagov nagá canen
the rat and the woman eat
nagov nagá ne canen
the rat eats the woman

The ne must not be included if no objects are stated:

*nagov nagá ne
*the rat eats the

Indirect Objects

Asha'ille doesn't often distinguish between direct and indirect objects. If only one or the other is used in a sentence, context determines its relation to the verb. Otherwise, both are usually given as ne <direct object> ne <indirect object>, although the order can be reversed if context makes the roles clear.

to give
arev canen ne chîlseirn ne ddaiyîth
the woman gives the child the book
arev canen ne ddaiyîth ne chîlseirn
the woman gives the child the book (less common)
arev ne chîlseirn ne ddaiyîth
the child is given the book
arev ne ddaiyîth ne chîlseirn
the child is given the book (less common)
arev canen ne ddaiyîth
the woman gives the book
arev ne ddaiyîth
the book is given

The following examples are ambiguous:

arev canen ne chîlseirn
the woman gives the child to someone
the woman gives something to the child
arev ne chîlseirn
the child is given to someone
the child is given something

If the direct object is a thing and the indirect is a person, the latter is often expressed on the verb with an -l- infix (that's a lowercase L). Assuming the child in the above example sentences is an acquaintance of the woman and had been previously introduced to the conversation, one could say:

arevleith canen ne ddaiyîth
the woman gives an acquaintance the book

See the person section for a detailed explanation of -eith.

Adjectival Phrases

Adjectives of exactly one word come before the word they modify, otherwise they come after and are usually marked for which word they modify. Note that the "adjective" category includes adverbs — an adverbizer is simply prefixed to the adjective. If you understand regular expressions, here is the structure of an Asha'ille sentence:

   adverb? verb (adjective? subject)? (ne adjective? object){0,2} (phrases)*

Any number of modifiying phrases may be included after the core sentence structure. They must be marked for which word they modify.

TODO: Explain sentence structure better for people who don't know regular expressions. ;)

...the verb
...the subject
...the object
...the indirect object

TODO: Give example usage of egikathún.

Note that if you want to use any but eg, all the words before it in the list must also be in the sentence. That is, to describe the object of the sentence, you must either have phrases describing the verb and subject, or combine the terms into one: egikath, usually shortened to e'kath when only the object has a modifying phrase. egikathún is similarly shorted to e'thún.

To modify any other word in a sentence, its distance from the phrase is used as the marker.

the word # words before (see next section)
the phrase before, but within the same sentence
the entire sentence before

A very common word that starts descriptive phrases is the contraction 'sa, which heads a phrase that further describes the word immediately preceding the 'sa. TODO: Finish this paragraph.

TODO: Give example usage of alun-.

Adverbial Phrases

Any number of adverbial phrases may be included after the core VSO sentence structure, and one single-word adverbial phrase (not counting the adverb itself) may precede the verb. Eg heads the generic adverbial phrase that further describes the action of the sentence:

nagov nagá ne palaem eg ejheth
the rat happily eats the grain

Besides eg, most other adverbs (which have more specific meanings than eg) begin with a v:

generic adverbializer
ve ejhejh nagov nagá ne palaem
the rat happily eats the grain
vilo aimenad nagov nagá ne palaem
the rat eats the grain near the village

If the adverbial phrase is more than one word long (not including the adverb itself), then a corresponding "closing adverb" is also required at the end of the phrase. "Closing adverbs" usually look like the opening adverb, with the inital v replace by a k. The entire adverbial phrase must occur after the core VSO structure:

closing adverb for vilo
my friend's
nagov nagá ne palaem vilo mleith aimenad kilo
the rat eats the grain near my friend's village

Note that in the first example above, the adverbial phrase precedes the verb, whereas in the second it follows the verb. This is because, according to Asha'ille word order rules, only one-word modifiers may precede their heads.

When there is no ambiguity about which clause a closing adverb belongs to, it is usually contracted to just k':

nagov nagá ne palaem vilo mleith aimenad k'
closing adverb kilo contracted to k'

Some words are adverbs in their own right, without needing any adverbializers added. Otherwise, simple adverbs are formed by placing the adverbializer ve before an adjective.

I am told that Irish also uses preceding particles to convert adjectives to adverbs.

Subordinate Clauses

Nested sentences take the object slot of the matrix sentence. The embedded verb is nominalized via -on, after which follow any other conjugations of that verb. For example:

to see (for details, see dropped -illev section)
nagov nagá
the rat eats
kén canen ne nagovon nagá
The woman sees that the rat eats
The woman sees the rat eating

If the subordinate clause would have normally had a ne in it, it becomes done:

nagov nagá ne palaem
the rat eats grain
kén canen ne nagovon nagá done palaem
The woman sees the rat eating grain

TODO: Give example usage when subordinate verb is conjugated.

Numbered Suffixes

Several groups of words in Asha'ille can be "numbered" to reduce ambiguity. The first three numbered suffixes (and the most common ones) are:

  1. -sa
  2. -da
  3. -ga

For example, alunsa marks the beginning of a phrase modifying the word before it; alunda modifies the word that is two words before, etc. Pronouns can also be marked with numbered suffixes. See the Person section for details.

TODO: Give example usage.


All verbs end with v, with three exceptions. The verbs esv to be (progressive aspect) and jhorv to be (copula) drop their final v (that is, the V now only exists in its dictionary form). The "third" exception is actually the entire group of verbs that end with -îllev: they may optionally drop that ending entirely. See the section on dropped -îllev for details.

Asha'ille verbs can be marked for tense, aspect, mood, person, and negation. If no tense information is given, present tense is assumed.

With bound affixes:

neg verb nom mood tense caus ability aspect persons reflex
subject object
kre <verb> -on -yi -d-
-t- -j-
-s- -<conj> -l<conj> -ad

With standalone particles:

tense neg verb bound forms only aspect persons
nom mood caus ability reflex subject object
kre <verb> -on -yi -t- -j-
-ad -s- <pronoun> ne <pronoun>

TODO: Reorder sections below to be in the same order as the table above.

Personal Conjugations

See the Person section for more details about the conjugations and pronouns used in Ashaille.

Verbal conjugations are suffixed to the verb, and pronouns and nouns follow the verb as the verb's subject. For example:

friend conjugation
friend pronoun
nagov canen
the woman eats (noun)
nagov esa
my friend eats (pronoun)
my friend eats (conjugation)

If a verb has no conjugation and no explicit subject noun or pronoun, it is assumed to be the same as the previous verb's.

Tense and Aspect

Past tense is shown by either pas before the verb or with the suffix -p- between the verb and any conjugations. For example:

pas nagov esa
my friend ate (particle)
my friend ate (suffix)

Future tense is shown by either diài as the particle before the verb or -d- between the verb and any conjugations as an incomplete suffix. For example:

diài nagov esa
my friend will eat (particle)
my friend will eat (suffix)

Progressive aspect uses -s- or the auxilary verb esv (which is one of the only Asha'ille verb that drops its final v when taking a conjugation). Esv is also unique in its requirement of a conjugational suffix (which can only be the subject). It comes directly before the main verb, which cannot take the subject's conjugation because it is already marked on esv. For example:

I conjugation
I eat
esni nagov
I am eating (auxilary verb)
*es nagovni
must put conjugation on esv
I am eating (suffix)

Inchoative, or incipient, aspect has no word or particle of its own. Instead, the phrase vik esv expresses an action just beginning, where vik means now.

Serial Verbs

to kill
kkorîv canen n'agá
the woman kills the rat
nagov canen n'agá
the woman eats the rat
kkorîv nagov canen n'agá
the woman kills and eats the rat

Recall that ne nagá is usually contracted to n'agá because the noun begins with an n.

The conjunction t'ves and (also) may be used in place of serial verbs to emphasize the sequential nature of the actions.

kkorîv canen n'agá, t'ves nagov
the woman kills the rat, and also eats it.


The Asha'ille copula verb is jhorv. Along with the progressive aspect auxilary verb esv, it is one of the only verbs to drop its final v. Unlike esv, however, it does not take conjugations like a normal verb. And unlike serial verbs, te and separates each succeeding subject that is being equated with the first, topic subject.

jhor nagá te lorîth
the rat is alive
jhor nagá te vilo aimenad
the rat is near the village
jhor nagá te lorîth te vilo aimenad
the rat is alive near the village

As in English, reversing the order of the subjects is stylistically marked and considered somewhat poetic:

jhor lorîth te nagá
alive is the rat


The particle -t- between a verb and its conjugation mean that something caused the action to happen. Context determines whether the causer really forced the agent to act, or whether the causer was really just a catalyst or enabler. For example:

nagoveith n'agá
my friend eats the rat
nagovteith n'agá
my friend is forced to eat the rat

The conjugation on the verb denotes the agent that performs the forced action. The causer is optional information. When present, it is in the subject position, as the noun immediately following the verb:

nagovteith canen
the woman makes my friend eat
nagovteith canen n'agá
the woman makes my friend eat the rat

TODO: What about when the agent is a noun, not a conjugation? For example, how to say "the woman makes the child eat"?

Dropped -îllev and N Contraction

All verbs end with the letter v, after which suffixes are added. However, verbs ending in -îllev may drop the -îllev entirely:

to see
my friend sees (full verb)
my friend sees (dropped -îllev)

Thus, after dropping -îllev, the verb now ends in n in this example. If the next suffix happens to begin with another n, the n is contracted. This is written as an apostrophe after the n:

I see (full verb)
I see (dropped -îllev, contracted n)

Neither *kénni nor *kéneni are allowed.

This same contraction happens when a word beginning with n or a vowel follows the word ne. For example:

kénîllevni ne no
I see it (full verb, no contraction)
kén'i ne no
I see it (dropped -îllev, no contraction)
kén'i n'o
I see it (dropped -îllev, with contraction)
kénîllevni ne esa
I see my friend (full verb, no contraction)
kén'i ne esa
I see my friend (dropped -îllev, no contraction)
kén'i n'esa
I see my friend (dropped -îllev, with contraction)

The dropped -îllev and n contractions are very common in Asha'ille, to the point that not following these conventions marks one's speech as somewhat stilted. In theory, n contractions can be ambiguous with words that differ only in an initial n. In practice, however, very few such pairs exist:

place (object) or land (object)
bounding (object) or walking (object)

If context isn't enough to make clear which word is intended, the ne may be left uncontracted.

One special case contraction is ne en'i me; it becomes n'i:

kén esa ne en'i
my friend sees me (no contraction)
kén esa n'i
my friend sees me (with contraction)

Many Verbal Options

Verbs are not required to be marked for anything but incomplete suffixes; all other information can be given with free morphemes. Thus, the following sentences are completely equilavent, except for nuances of style:

Pas kén en'i ne esa.
Pas kén en'i n'esa.
Pas kén'i ne esa.
Pas kén'i n'esa.
Pas kénlesa en'i.
Pas kén'ilesa.
Kénpeni ne esa.
Kénpeni n'esa.

Each sentences means I saw my friend.

Bound Words

Some Asha'ille words are "bound" to other words (to varying degrees). These are not necessarily bound lexemes in the linguistic sense (although some of them also fit that definition). There are two classes of bound words: tterî́dîm and jejhîrî́dîm.


Words that are tterî́dîm (usually) have a bound version and a standalone version. While these words can stand by themselves in certain circumstances, they try to bind to other words wherever possible.

Standalone Bound Meaning
diài -d- (future tense)
pas -p- (past tense)


Words that are jejhîrî́dîm cannot stand alone, but must always be bound to other words. There is no "standalone" version of these words.

Bound Meaning
alun- (refers to previous words, phrase, etc.)
e-...-e (container of ...)
-l- (precedes direct object)
-op- (immediate past tense)
-t- (causative)
t- (agent)
-th- believed to be true (evidentiality)

All personal conjugations and numbered suffixes are also jejhîrî́dîm.


Asha'ille has two separate categories of pronouns and their related conjugations. The Cresaeans use one set for empaths like themselves (and non-empathic individuals that they want to "elevate" to their status, like humans), and a second one for everything else (like animals or objects).

By deliberately using the non-empath pronouns and conjugations with a subject that would normally be expected to take the empath ones, the author (or speaker) is signalling that there is something wrong with the subject. Mental patients and sociopaths typically evoke such usage.


For the non-empaths, Asha'ille uses the familiar (to Indo-Europeans) first/second/third-person system:

Number Singular Plural
1st -i -aim
2nd -et -etîm
3rd -ar, -a -arîm, -aǐm
-aer, -ec -aerîm, -ecîm

All the non-empath conjugations have corresponding pronouns:

Number Singular Plural
1st ai aim
2nd aet aetîm
3rd ar, a arîm, aǐm
aer, ec aerîm, ecîm

In the third person singular, the conjugations listed represent male, female, unspecified, and none, respectively. These relate directly to biological gender, such that John the pet fish uses -ar, Jane the pet fish uses -a, that other fish uses -aer, and the table uses -ec.

TODO: Give example usage.


In addition to the first/second/third-person system, Asha'ille uses a different set of empathic pronouns when referring to Cresaeans (and sometimes humans, when they're feeling generous and want to think of humans as being almost equals :)).

Asha'ille bases its empathic-pronouns model on the idea of a network of personal contacts. Pronouns and personal conjugations measure how far from the center of this network a person is. Generally, the speaker is the center of the network and everyone else is relative to him (although see the Deixis section for how the reference point can change).

Good Relationships Conjugation Pronoun
center; the self -(e)ni en̤i
beloveds; best friends -ejh ejh
close friends -îshe él#
good friends -adhe el#
acquaintances -eith e#
strangers -ordh o#
other -aerdhî ae#
Bad Relationships Conjugation Pronoun
center; the self -i ai
greatest enemies -agh ghal
very mean people -ach ga#
mean people -ich ki#
annoying people -al al#
strangers -o o#
Neutral Relationships Conjugation Pronoun
center; the self -n naroln
friendly stranger -a e#
formal stranger -s ó#

A few pronouns above can be ambiguous; there exist a set of more formal pronouns when such ambiguity is unacceptable or confusing. TODO: Document formal pronouns.

Where a pronoun has "#" after it, you must add a numbered suffix. These numbered pronouns are considered temporary because the person they refer to changes between conversations. The numbered suffix chosen depends on the order in which people were introduced into the conversation. The most frequently used numbered suffixes are -sa for the first reference and -da for the second.

For example, if you look at the "my friend" example sentences above, you will now see that the pronoun decomposes into e# plus -sa, because this was the first friend mentioned.

Nagov esa. Kén eda.
My first friend eats. My second friend sees.

Obviously, whom these pronouns refer to is very context-dependent.


To form the equivalent of we, pluralize the empathic conjugation or pronoun that includes all of the people in question. For example, say there is a group of four people: two are close siblings, one is an old friend, and one the rest the siblings only met today. From one of the sibling's perspectives, there are many ways to say we go:

we eat (includes only the siblings)
we eat (includes the siblings and their close friend)
we eat (includes everyone)

Note that pluralizing en̤i or -(e)ni only makes sense with a person whom you consider an extension of yourself. In other words, nagovnim would only be used by a married couple or similarly close pair.


The word kre negates verbs and adjectives:

kre nagovni ne sheló palaem
I do not eat the tasty grain
nagovni ne kre sheló palaem
I eat the not-tasty grain

The copula jhorv has a negative equivalent, korv:

jhor nagá te lorîth
the rat is alive
kor nagá te lorîth
the rat is not alive

Adjectives can be negated even in copular sentences, but korv is usually preferred in such cases:

jhor nagá te kre lorîth
the rat is not alive


According to Wikipedia, the Maasai language has this same distinction (which they call possessable vs unpossessable.) Note that this is not the same as alienable vs inalienable possession.

Tangible Possession

The tangible possessive so (or just s- before pronouns) follows the possessed noun. It is used for things that the possessor controls: objects, resources, or slaves.

palaem seni
my grain
palaem so aimenad
village's grain
canen seni
my woman (as in concubine)

Intangible Possession

The intangible possessive mlo (or just ml- before pronouns) precedes the possessed noun. It is used for things that the possessor is related to, rather than directly controls: people, emotions, nature.

mleni chîlseirn
my child
mlo îleiya chîlseirn
mother's child
mleni canen
my woman (as in wife)

The Cresean worldview determines which things require tangible vs intangible possession.


Yes/no questions are formed with the tag particle ojo at the beginning of the sentence. For example:

nagov nagá ne palaem
the rat eats the grain
ojo nagov nagá ne palaem?
does the rat eat the grain?

If the speaker expects the answer to be yes, he can add alunun jhi to the end of the sentences; if he expects no, then he adds alunun kre. The speaker need not say whether he expects either answer.

For more complex questions, the question-word's stressed vowel lowers via an ablaut process, which is written as a dieresis. When asking for new information, the generic pronoun no or the pro-verb vo is dropped into the word order position where it would belong in normal, indicative sentences.

If the word ne appears in the sentence, it is also ablauted (and never contracted). For example:

nagov no ne palaem
it eats the grain
nagov nö në palaem?
what eats the grain?
nagov nagá n'o
the rat eats it
nagov nagá në nö?
what does the rat eat?
vo nagá ne palaem
the rat does it to the grain
vö nagá në palaem?
what does the rat do to the grain?

Depending on which word changes, different information is being asked. English accomplishes the same thing through tone of voice:

nagöv nagá në palaem?
does the rat eat the grain?
nagov nagä në palaem?
does the rat eat the grain?
nagov nagá në paläem?
does the rat eat the grain?

Below is a table describing how the "question vowels" are pronounced:

Statement Question
i /i/ ï /ɪ/
î /ɪ/ /ɛ/
ae, ei /e/ äe, ëi /ɛ/
e /ɛ/ ë /ɑ/
a /ɑ/ ä /i/
u /u/ ü /o/
o /o/ ö /ɔ/
o /ɔ/ ö /ɑ/
ai /ɑi/ äi /ɔ/

Rising Intonation

English-speakers may feel more confortable ending a question with a rising intonation. While rising intonation does not imply a question to Asha'ille speakers, there is a way to "cheat."

Any indicative statement in Asha'ille may optionally end with e. It has no semantic content — it is equivalent to English eh or y'know, and is spoken with a rising intonation at the end of the sentence. In a question, it is always ablauted (like ne). In this way, you can end a question with a rising intonation without it obviously being an artifact of your native language. :)

nagov nagá ne palaem e
the rat eats the grain, eh
nagov nagä në palaem ë?
does the rat eat the grain, eh?

You can also use this trick with ojo yes/no questions. The e continues to be pronounced /ɛ/ (that is, without ablaut) because the ablaut process does not occur in these questions.

ojo nagov nagá ne palaem e
does the rat eat the grain, eh?


TODO: Write section.



TODO: Write clearer explanation.

"Deixis" is defined by the SIL linguistics glossary as a "reference by means of an expression whose interpretation is relative to the (usually) extralinguistic context of the utterance, such as who is speaking, the time or place of speaking, the gestures of the speaker, or the current location in the discourse." The default deixis of Asha'ille is not unusual. The speaker is the center, the one who uses -(e)ni self; the time is the present.

However, when telling a story it is very common for the deixis to be shifted for convenience. Typically, the main character of a story becomes the center of the personal network and all others become relative to that character. (This means that relationships for personal conjugations or pronouns are relative to this new center.) To mark the change in deixis, any or all of the following may be employed:

changes subjects used in the story
changes objects used in the story
changes time of the story

The basic pattern for usage is:

   ayana ne <ring> jho <person> [, te ne <ring> jho <person>
   neyane ne <object> [, te ne <object>
   keyanu ne <time>

Ayana shifts who belongs to each ring relative to the self en̤i, which can also be redefined via ayana. Keyanu shifts the time frame of the story, to which all others times are relative.

Neyane defines special, "temporary" pronouns that are much like outer-ring empath pronouns. For each object listed after neyane, the pronoun no, it, plus a numbered suffix is defined to refer to that object. So, for example, if a story began with:

Neyane ne chîlsan, te ne fo feilán.

then nosa would refer to chîlsan, girl, and noda would refer to fo feilán, red house. These temporary pronouns can be used anywhere one would use the full phrases the pronouns describe, excepting verbal conjugations. To be the subject of a verb, these pronouns fill the subject slot as normal, and no person conjugation is marked on the verb itself.

Deixis shift is "cancelled" by yanú, which means end of story or the end.


Below are some common derivational morphemes for Asha'ille:

derivation morpheme example
noun → adjective -îth sein cuddleseinîth cuddly
verb → adjective -îth tugeiv to hidetugeith hidden
adjective → noun -ad meiyith warmmeiyad warmth
verb → noun -ad arîshav to answerarîshad answer
adjective → adverb ve meiyith warmve meiyith warmly
noun → adverb ve ejhejh happinessve ejhejh happily
noun → agent related to noun î–î sein cuddleîseinî cuddler
verb → agent of verb î–î kkorîv to killîkkorî killer
noun → container of noun e–e badh soilebadhe planting pot
verb → container related to verb e–e biàerev to get a giftebiàere boxed present
noun → collection of noun -eme rodas societal normrodaseme culture
noun → movement of noun -mír caea worldcaeamír orbit
noun → diminutive noun chi- ejhejh happinesschièjhejh okay-ness :)
noun → augmented noun gir- ejhejh happinessgirejhejh ecstaticness
verb → place of verb -yae shav speakshayae forum

Asha'ille does not allow two adjacent vowels (with some exceptions, like aea /eə/). Thus, when using a derivation on a word that begins or ends with a vowel itself, something has to be done about the otherwise-invalid word that would form. Possibilities include:

  • dropping the vowel (urumanerumane)
  • inserting a y between the vowels (emeirjhoeyemeirjhe)
  • inserting a glottal stop between the vowels (ejhejhchièjhejh)

Note that a final vowel is always dropped; a y is never inserted at the end: *eyemerjhoye. When deriving from a verb, the final v is dropped:

Sometimes, the source word changes considerably during derivation: (ghîshóvîhîshî). There is no rule to determine what changes will occur on the source word; the specific forms of derived words must be memorized.

General verbs, which in English are formed by using a noun as a verb, are constructed in Asha'ille by making the noun into an adverb that modifies the semantically empty verb ov:

ve hhe ov
ve hhe ov
ADV fan do
to fan