10 - Macrostructure of sentences 003

Up to here, we have only spoken about the word-level of the language. On the sentence level, Ælis has a high rate of topicalisation or "function marking". What this means is that words themselves (lexically) indicate role they play in the sentence. In essence, this approach corresponds to languages that use a case system, like Latin or Russian.

Most languages in existence mark grammatical case through inflection (i.e. modifying a part of a noun or adjective, usually with a suffix). But due to its analytic structure, Ælis cannot inflect. Instead, there is a set of root words that have the sole purpose of assigning a specific syntactic role to a word. It is almost as if every word in the sentence receives a preposition by default.

Primary function markers

Perhaps the hardest trick is to adopt the way of thinking that Ælis syntax functions in. Rather than a subject-verb-object oriented syntax, Ælis bases its syntactic behaviour not in a grammatically predefined way, but on the semantics of the words themselves. This makes Ælis an active-stative language, specifically the Fluid-S subtype.

Ælis has 4 primary function markers to assign roles, therefore it considers itself to have 4 word types.

The topic


The topic is essive, meaning that it describes something that 'is' or exists. Although topics can be eliptically omitted from a sentence, the topic is considered to be the main component of any sentence.

It is possible to form sentences that only contain a topic:

There is a cat.
There's a fire.
Something is on fire.
many people
There are a lot of people.
old, gray house
There's an old, gray house
The house is old and gray.

The patient


The patient is passive, meaning that it describes something that 'undergoes' or 'is affected'. Topic-patient combinations usually express a passive state, or a situation. The topic is then the thing that occurs, the patient is the argument to whom/what it occurs.

If you know any Latin, then it might be easy to understand the correlation between the Ælis formulation "topic:cat – patient:me" and the Latin formulation "Mihi (est) feles" (I have a cat - the cat belongs/corresponds to me).

{hare'dzzef ia'æma}
name Jeff occurs to me
My name is Jeff.

{ha'aq'ira'an'eda ia'ini}
big height occurs to her
She is tall.

{ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte}
good feeling occurs to us
We are happy / we feel good.

{ha'en'u̯ite ia'ema}
vision (of) them occurs to you(s.)
You see them.

The agent


The agent is active, meaning that it describes something that 'does' or 'performs'. If the topic describes a state or a situation, then the agent expresses who or what is at the cause. If the topic describes an action, then the agent is the argument that carries out the action.

{hare'dzzef ia'æma}
name Jeff occurs to me
My name is Jeff.
{hare'dzzef la'æma}
name Jeff occurs because of me
I call Jeff.
{ha'en'u̯ite ia'ema}
vision (of) them occurs to you(s.)
You see them.
{ha'en'u̯ite la'ema}
vision (of) them occurs by you(s.)
You watch them.
{ha'iina'ira ia'u̯ite}
improvement occurs to them
They are being helped.
{ha'iina'ira la'u̯ite}
improvement occurs because of them
They help (someone).

The modifier


The modifier is all about expressing modality. While the topic, patient and agent are closely connected to each other, the modifier provides context info that places the entire sentence in a certain perspective.

The modifier's range is enormous: it can express grammatical tense, location, possibility, probability, intention, doubt and certainty, cause and effect, frequency, the instrumentalis case, and many others. Therefore, the first root word to follow the modifier marker iR {ir} also plays an important role, as it determines the type of modality that the modifier adds to the sentence.

In short, the modifier is an umbrella category for any argument that is neither essive, passive nor active. Let's have a look at the most prominent modifiers. Note that this list is not exhaustive.


modifier of time:iRaS{iras}

The time modifier is used to express grammatical tense. As we've seen that Ælis distinguishes 5 points in time, we could also say that Ælis has 5 tenses.

hAeLeAnA3rA​iA6tE​lAeG1lIS ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte la'eg'ælis We like Ælis.
hAeLeAnA3rA​iA6tE​lAeG1lIS​iRaSdA0rA ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte la'eg'ælis irasda'ara We liked Ælis a long time ago.
hAeLeAnA3rA​iA6tE​lAeG1lIS​iRaSdA1rA ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte la'eg'ælis irasda'æra We liked Ælis recently.
hAeLeAnA3rA​iA6tE​lAeG1lIS​iRaSdA2rA ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte la'eg'ælis irasda'era We like Ælis now.
hAeLeAnA3rA​iA6tE​lAeG1lIS​iRaSdA3rA ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte la'eg'ælis irasda'ira We will like Ælis soon.
hAeLeAnA3rA​iA6tE​lAeG1lIS​iRaSdA4rA ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte la'eg'ælis irasda'ora We will like Ælis someday.


modifier of place:iRaN{iran}

The modifier of place can be used to describe locations. Also here, keep in mind what was said about the axes of space.

hAnIuE3rAvW1mA hani'ue'ira'væ'æma My mother (is).
hAnIuE3rAvW1mA​iRaNkfINWK hani'ue'ira'væ'æma iran(re)'finæ My mother is in Finland.
hAnIuE3rAvW1mA​iRaN3dA1rAvW2nI hani'ue'ira'væ'æma iran'ida'æra'væ'eni My mother is behind you.


modifier of cause:iRaR{irar}

The modifier of cause expresses why things happen.

lA3mA la'ima He does (it/something).
lA3mA​iRaReLeAnA3rAlI3nI la'ima irareleana'ira'li'ini He does it because he likes her.
hAeLeAnA1rAiA6tE ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte We feel bad.
hAeLeAnA1rAiA6tE​iRaRhIaSdA1rA ha'eleana'ira ia'u̯æte irarhi'asda'æra We feel bad because of what just happened.


modifier of consequence:iRiS{iris}

Closely related to the modifier of cause is the one of consequence (or 'effect'). It expresses what the consequence of the utterance is, or what will result from it. It is also the modifier to be used to build 'if...then' constructions, and it can also be used to express purpose or intention, the latter two of which Ælis understands to be the same thing (see example No.2):

lA3mA la'ima He does (it/something).
lA3mA​iRiSeLeAnA3rAiI3nI la'ima iriseleana'ira'ii'ini He does it so she'll like him.
hAeGlA1mA ha'eg la'æma I speak / I say (it).
hAeGlA1mA​iRiSeI3rAiI2mA ha'eg la'æma irisei'ira'ii'ema I say (it) so you'd understand.-or-If I say (it), (then) you'll understand.


modifier of manner:iRaM{iram}

The modifier of manner can be seen as an instrumentalis case, as it answers 'how' an action is done. The modifier of manner is also most closely related to our notion of the adverb.

hAeNlA7tE ha'en la'u̯ete You(pl.) are watching.
hAeNlA7tE​iRaMuB3rAeI ha'en la'u̯ete iramub'ira'ei You(pl.) are watching closely.

A particular combination that the modifier iRaM {iram} can make, is with the root word dI {di} which means "volition", followed by a qualifier. This creates the equivalent of the imperatives.

lA6tEhAiIeI3rAeMeG1lIS la'u̯æte ha'ii'ei'ira'emeg'ælis We teach Ælis.
lA6tE​hAiIeI3rAeMeG1lIS​iRaMdI0rA la'u̯æte ha'ii'ei'ira'emeg'ælis iramdi'ara We are not allowed to teach Ælis.
lA6tE​hAiIeI3rAeMeG1lIS​iRaMdI1rA la'u̯æte ha'ii'ei'ira'emeg'ælis iramdi'æra We shouldn't teach Ælis.
lA6tE​hAiIeI3rAeMeG1lIS​iRaMdI2rA la'u̯æte ha'ii'ei'ira'emeg'ælis iramdi'era We can teach Ælis.
lA6tE​hAiIeI3rAeMeG1lIS​iRaMdI3rA la'u̯æte ha'ii'ei'ira'emeg'ælis iramdi'ira We should teach Ælis.
lA6tE​hAiIeI3rAeMeG1lIS​iRaMdI4rA la'u̯æte ha'ii'ei'ira'emeg'ælis iramdi'ora We must / are obligated to teach Ælis.

Adopting the model

The grammatical and syntactical structures of our native language are rooted in our system so deeply that it might take some time to break away from it and start thinking in the Ælis structure. For this purpose, try to phrase any sentence as follows:

The topic is given to the patient by the agent in a certain context


The topic occurs to the patient because of the agent in a certain context


The topic is for the patient provided by the agent in a certain context

A part of the trick consists in understanding that Ælis will mostly have a different amount of words than your source sentence, and that the pieces of information contained tend to be allocated differently. So, let's create some sentences in English, and see how Ælis would say it.

English #Words Ælis
I am 37 years old. 2 – Age 37 is given
– to me
I am an Australian. 2 – Origin place (named) Australia is given
– to me
I like you. 3 – Good feeling is given
– to me
– by you
I used to like you. 4 – Good feeling is given
– to me
– by you
–  context (time:past)
After the party, I walked home. 4 – Destination home is given
– by me
–  context (time:future referent party characteristic past)
–  context (manner:foot)
If it rains, I'll take an umbrella. 2 – Rain is given
–  context (consequence:umbrella target me)
I don't know what will happen. 2 – Little knowledge characteristic future events
– to me

Free function markers

The primary function markers have a regulating function: they organize how individual words behave on the sentence level, and they therefore outrank the ordinary root words -including the node particles- in hierarchy. But the free function markers escape this hierarchy, hence the name. There are two free function markers, each with their own, unique function.

The sentence bracket

Sentence bracket

The sentence bracket wields the power to create subordinate clauses in Ælis. The bracket can be linked to one of the primary function markers or any other root word. Most importantly, however, it can also contain primary function markers. So the idea is to take a full sentence consisting of one or more primary functions, wrap it in a sentence bracket (the opening bracket {læ} in front and the closing bracket {iæ} at the end), and place this in a strategic location of a bigger sentence.

Let's consider the following sentence:

hAeIlI​iA1mA​iRaQ3qAdOaSdA1rA {ha'eili ia'æma ir'iqa'do'asda'æra} initial knowledge is given to me context:3 days past distance I learned (something) 3 days ago

Let's wrap it in a sentence bracket and leave it at that for the moment:

lWhAeIlI​iA1mA​iRaQ3qAdOaSdA1rAiW {ha'eili ia'æma ir'iqa'do'asda'æra'}

Now, let's have a look at a totally different sentence:

lAnIkmARIAK​hAiIaNoW0rAiI1mA {lani(re)'maria ha'ii'anoæ'ara'ii'æma} by woman (named) Maria, movement to my house is given Maria comes to my house

Finally, let's add a characteristic marker behind the name Maria, and attach our initial sentence behind it. This way, we'll embed our intial sentence as extra information that can be seen as an adjective that belongs to Maria:

lAnIkmARIAK​eMlWhAeIlI​iA1mA​iRaQ3qAdOaSdA1rAiW​hAiIaNoW0rAiI1mA {lani(re)'maria emha'eili ia'æma ir'iqa'do'asda'æra' ha'ii'anoæ'ara'ii'æma} by woman (named) Maria, char. (I learned 3 days ago), movement to my house is given Maria, whom I met 3 days ago, comes to my house

The separator

We have already spoken about the separator particle on the word level, but the root word tA {ta} can also function on the sentence level.

We should first take a side-step and speak about what happens if one and the same word type appears more than once in a sentence. Consider the following example, which consists of a topic (red) and a patient (yellow):

hA​17qA​qU​eO iA​1tE I am 17 years old.
{ha'æu̯eqa'qu'eo ia'æte}
age 17 is given to me

If we add a second, for example, patient to the sentence (green), then the topic will apply to both of the patients equally:

hA​17qA​qU​eO iA​1tE iA​mA​kqRISK Chris and I are (both) 17 years old.
{ha'æu̯eqa'qu'eo ia'æte iama(re)'qris}
age 17 is given to me to Chris

If we decide to add another topic into the mix (blue), then all words will apply to each other equally:

hA​17qA​qU​eO iA​1tE iA​mA​kqRISK hA​aN​oW​0rA​kgABARWK Chris and I are (both) 17 years old and (both) British.
{ha'æu̯eqa'qu'eo ia'æte iama(re)'qris ha'an​oæ'ara'(re)​gabaræ}
age 17 is given to me to Chris residence UK is given

As the Ælis word order is free, the construction topic-patient-patient-topic is perfectly viable. Any other word order would produce the same sentence without altering its meaning. This changes if a separator is placed between any two words: the separator breaks the links between any words on either side of it, de facto producing two separate sentences:

hA17qAqUeOiA1tE tA iAmAkqRISKhAaNoW0rAkgABARWK I am 17. Chris is British.
{ha'eu̯eqaqu'eo ia'æte ta iama(re)'qris ha'anoæ'ara(re)'gabaræ}
age 17 is given to me   to Chris residence UK is given}