About the language[]

Atudab ([ʔatudab], [ŋɑ̃:tudab]) is a language isolate spoken by the native inhabitants of the Southenr continent of the planet Nardron. It is the second most important language in the planet, coming right after Kemfou.

One of the most characteristic features of the language is the almost complete absence of verbs and adjectives and the consequent dependence of the language on nouns and particles. Another point of interest is the wide use of nasality for grammatical purposes. The absence of velar stops and of fricative consonants (except for two affricates) is also of notice.



The following consonants are present in standard Atudab:

  • [t]
  • [d]
  • [p]
  • [b]
  • [c]
  • [dz]
  • [ʔ]
  • [h] / [x]
  • [ɾ]
  • [l]
  • [j]
  • [w]

The following clusters are considered as single consonants:

  • [tɾ]
  • [pɾ]
  • [xɾ]
  • [tj]
  • [dj]
  • [pj]
  • [cj]
  • [dzj]
  • [bw]

The complete absence of velar consonants ([k], [g] and the almost complete absence of fricative consonants ([s], [f] and so on) are the most peculiar phonetic characteristic of the language. The only sibilants found are the affricates [ts] (represented by [c]) and [dz].

  • Note: In some dialects the affricates [c] and [dz] actually correspond to palatal plosives [c] and [ɟ].


There are eight vowel qualities, each with a short and a long version, plus a schwa:

Short Long

[a] / [ɑ]

[a:] / [ɑ:]





[ɪ] / [i]






[u] / [ʊ]





Vowels shown in pairs ([a] / [ɑ]; [ɪ] / [i]; [u] / [ʊ]) are in free variation.


Nasality plays an important morphological role in the language. Both vowels and consonants may be nasalized, according to the following table. When becoming nasals, consonants lose the voiced/voiceless distinction, while vowels lose the distinction of length: some speakers pronounce nasal vowels long, while others pronounce them short, without regard for the length of the original vowel, but length for nasalized vowels is not distinctive.

Consonants Vowels
  • [t] -> [n]
  • [d] -> [n]
  • [p] -> [m]
  • [b] -> [m]
  • [c] -> [ns] (also [nc])
  • [dz] -> [nz] (also [ndz])
  • [ʔ] -> [ŋ]
  • [h] / [x] -> [ŋx]
  • [ɾ] -> [ɻn]
  • [l] -> [ln]
  • [j] -> [ɲ]
  • [w] -> [mw]
  • [tɾ] -> [ndɾ]
  • [pɾ] -> [mbɾ]
  • [tj] -> [ɲ]
  • [dj] -> [ɲ]
  • [pj] -> [mbj]
  • [bw] -> [mbw]
  • [xɾ] -> [ŋxɾ]
  • [cj] -> [nsj] (also [ncj])
  • [dzj] -> [nzj] (also [nzj])
  • [a] / [ɑ], [a:] / [ɑ:] -> [ɑ̃(:)]
  • [e], [e:] -> [ɛ̃(:)]
  • [ɛ], [ɛ:] -> [ɛ̃(:)]
  • [ɪ] / [i], [i:] -> [ĩ(:)]
  • [o], [o:] -> [ɔ̃(:)]
  • [ɔ], [ɔ:] -> [ɔ̃(:)]
  • [u] / [ʊ], [u:] -> [ũ(:)]
  • [y], [y:] -> [ĩ(:)]
  • [ə] -> [ɑ̃(:)]


Atudab uses prefixes, infixes and circumfixes for expressing grammatical functions. One of the most productive affixes is the nasal, which can be used as a prefix (affecting only the first syllable of the root), a suffix (affecting only the last syllable of the root) and as a transfix (affecting all syllables of a word). Other affixes may have nasality as one of their elements.



For making a noun definite, the nasal prefix is used. It consists in nasalizing the first syllable of the noun. E.g.:

  • [hɛ:dji:] "house", [nxɛ̃:dji:] "the house"
  • [cɔdɔbu] "tree", [nsɔ̃:dɔbu] "the tree"
  • [tɾɛ:jəd] "head", [ndɾɛ̃:jəd] "the head"
  • [ʔaɾtɛʔu:] "sun", [ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu:] "the sun"


The accusative case consists in a nasal transfix, that is, all syllables of the noun are nasalized. The other two cases, the genitive/possessive and the receptive (dative), are built with circumfixes.


The accusative case is indicated by turning all vowels and consonants of the word to nasals. E.g.:

  • [hɛ:dji:] "house", [ŋxɛ̃:ɲĩ:] "(the) house" (accus.)
  • [cɔdɔbu] "tree", [nsɔ̃:nɔ̃:mũ:] "(the) tree" (accus.)
  • [tɾɛ:jəd] "head", [ndɾɛ̃:ɲɑ̃:n] "(the) head" (accus.)
  • [ʔaɾtɛʔu:] "sun", [ŋɑ̃:ɻnɛ̃ŋũ:] "(the) sun" (accus.)

Note that, in the accusative case, there is no distinction between definite and indefinite nouns. Definite is assumed by default, and a periphrastic construction is used if an indefinite direct object is required, like e.g.: [(wij) cɔhəcod teʔihəh, (ju:lo) jɛ:phob jɛ:pŋɑ̃:mbwɔ̃:ɻn] "(There is) a new car, he bought it" for "He bought a new car".


To indicate possession, a combination of the prefix [te-]/[nɛ̃-] and the suffix [-ʔi] is used. The nasal version of the prefix is used with nouns in the definite form. E.g.:

  • [tehɛ:dji:ʔi] "of a house", [nɛ̃nxɛ̃:dji:ʔi] "of the house"
  • [tecɔdɔbuʔi] "of a tree", [nɛ̃ncɔ̃:dɔbuʔi] "of the tree"
  • [tetɾɛ:jədʔi] "of a head", [nɛ̃ndɾɛ̃:jədʔi] "of the head"
  • [teʔaɾtɛʔu:ʔi] "of a sun", [nɛ̃ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu:ʔi] "of the sun"

Number is indicated regularly:

  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: teʔocjaʔi tedi:] "the toy of (some) boys"
  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: nɛ̃:ŋɔ̃:cjaʔi tedi:] "the toy of the boys"
  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: tedi: teʔocjaʔi] "the toys of a boy"
  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: tedi: nɛ̃:ŋɔ̃:cjaʔi] "the toys of the boy"
  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: tedi: teʔocjaʔi tedi:] "the toys of (some) boys"
  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: tedi: nɛ̃:ŋɔ̃:cjaʔi tedi:] "the toys of the boys"
"Half Genitive"[]

The prefix alone is also used to indicate a relationship between two nouns and to turn nouns into adjectives. In this construction, called "half genitive", only the indefinite form of the noun may be used, which is irrelevant to the meaning as the expression refers to a class rather to an individual. E.g.:

  • [pibe texɾojɔ:c] "a sick person" (from [pibe] "person" and [xɾojɔ:c] "illness")
  • [ncɛ̃:bwi: teʔocja] "the toy created for boy(s)"

This construction is similar to the "construct case" found in Semitic languages. It is important to note that this prefix [te-] does not correspond exactly to the preposition "of". It makes the noun completely dependent on the preceding noun, establishing a relationship of a "static" nature, that is, something more or less permanent, inherent. In the example above, [ncɛ̃:bwi: teʔocja], the idea is that it is a toy ([cɛ:bwi:] which is suitable for boys ([ʔocja]), a small truck for example. It is an intrinsic relationship, one which is part of the toy from the moment it was created. It can indicated also something temporary, like in [pibe texɾojɔ:c] "a sick person"; this indicates that the "sickness" ([xɾojɔ:c]) infects the person's body as part of its (the sickness') nature. So, "intrinsic" applies to the second noun (the one with the [te-] prefix, not to the first noun, to which the relationship may be permanent or temporary.


The receptive case, also called dative case, indicates a "dynamic" relationship between two nouns. It partially corresponds to the notion of indirect object, conveying the idea of a relationship which is not intrinsic but which comes in terms of effects, consequences of the result of an action.

It consists in a combination of the prefix [lu-]/[nũ-] and the suffix [-(ʔ)ət] is used. The nasal version of the prefix is used with nouns in the definite form. E.g.:

  • [luhɛ:dji:ʔət] "to a house", [nũnx̃ɛ:dji:ʔət] "to the house"
  • [lucɔdɔbuʔət] "to a tree", [nũns̃ɔ:dɔbuʔət] "to the tree"
  • [lutɾɛ:jədʔət] "to a head", [nũndɾ̃ɛ:jədʔət] "to the head"
  • [luʔaɾtɛʔu:ʔət] "to a sun", [nũŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu:ʔət] "to the sun"

Some examples of the notions expressed by this case:

  • [jopədja nũnx̃ɛ:dji:ʔət] "colour to the house", "painting to the house" (i.e., "the house is going to be painted", "the house needs painting", "I will paint the house" and so on)


Plural and dual are indicated only if necessary, by means of the following adjectival constructions:

  • [tebwɛ:] (dual)
  • [tedi:] (plural)


  • Dual
    • [hɛ:dji: tebwɛ:] "two houses", [nxɛ̃:dji: tebwɛ:] "the two houses"
    • [cɔdɔbu tebwɛ:] "two trees", [nsɔ̃:dɔbu tebwɛ:] "the two trees"
    • [tɾɛ:jəd tebwɛ:] "two heads", [ndɾɛ̃:jəd tebwɛ:] "the two heads"
    • [ʔaɾtɛʔu: tebwɛ:] "two suns", [ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu: tebwɛ:] "the two suns"
  • Plural
    • [hɛ:dji: tedi:] "(some) houses", [nxɛ̃:dji: tedi:] "the houses"
    • [cɔdɔbu tedi:] "(some) trees", [nsɔ̃:dɔbu tedi:] "the trees"
    • [tɾɛ:jəd tedi:] "(some) heads", [ndɾɛ̃:jəd tedi:] "the heads"
    • [ʔaɾtɛʔu: tedi:] "(some) suns", [ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu: tedi:] "the suns"

In the accusative, the nasal forms [nẽ:mbwɛ̃:] (dual) and [nẽ:nĩ:] (plural) are used:

  • Dual
    • [ŋxɛ̃:ɲĩ: nɛ̃:mbwɛ̃:] "(the) two houses" (accus.)
    • [nsɔ̃:nɔ̃:mũ: nɛ̃:mbwɛ̃:] "(the) two trees" (accus.)
    • [ndɾɛ̃:ɲɑ̃:n nɛ̃:mbwɛ̃:] "(the) two heads" (accus.)
    • [ŋɑ̃:ɻnɛ̃ŋũ: nɛ̃:mbwɛ̃:] "(the) two suns" (accus.)
  • Plural
    • [ŋxɛ̃:ɲĩ: nɛ̃:nĩ:] "(the) houses" (accus.)
    • [nsɔ̃:nɔ̃:mũ: nɛ̃:nĩ:] "(the) trees" (accus.)
    • [ndɾɛ̃:ɲɑ̃:n nɛ̃:nĩ:] "(the) heads" (accus.)
    • [ŋɑ̃:ɻnɛ̃ŋũ: nɛ̃:nĩ:] "(the) suns" (accus.)

The following words also provide notions related to numbers and quantity:

  • [tedah] "all" (all the elements of a group)
  • [tedebɾu] "the whole", "all" (something in its entirety)
  • [tetjotɾa] "almost all"
  • [teʔɛ:la] "the most part of"
  • [tedu:wɔ] "a few"
  • [tepodyɾ] "each", "every"
  • [tedzjohe:] "half a"
  • [tetju:] "many"
  • [teʔaʔa] "much", "a lot of"

These words do not agree with the noun for the accusative, however:

  • [cɔdɔbu tedah], [nsɔ̃:dɔbu tedah] "all the trees"
  • [nsɔ̃:nɔ̃:mũ: tedah] "all the trees" (accus.)
  • [hɛ:dji: tedu:wɔ], [nxɛ̃:dji: tedu:wɔ] "a few houses"

When exact numbers are used, no one of these indicators may be used along with them (see "Numbers", below).


There are several affixes used to create nouns from other words.

  • [-pɾɔ]: indicates an agent, someone that practices the action indicated in the root. E.g.: [cjɛ:jəbpɾɔ] "teacher", [tɾixta:pɾɔ] "student"
  • [-tax]: indicates a group of people, generally in the role of agent. E.g.: [cjɛ:jəbtax] "schollars", [wotʔawtax] "army"
  • [-cod]: indicates a tool or instrument, an object used to carry out the action expressed in the root. E.g.: [ʔɔʔacod] "pen", "pencil", [dɛhɾɛcejcod] "weapon"
  • [-cɔɾ]: indicates an object that is the result of an action. E.g.: [ʔɔʔacɔɾ] "book", "letter"

Noun Relations[]

Two or more nouns may be linked in several ways, depending on the meaning intended.

Phrase Gloss Translation
"Half Genitive", Adjectival function [ʔɔʔacɔɾ telede:d] "book of child" "children's book"
"Full Genitive", Possessive [ʔɔʔacɔɾ telede:dʔi] "book of a child" "a book of a child"
[ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ telede:dʔi] "the book of a child" "the book of a child"
[ʔɔʔacɔɾ nɛ̃:lnɛ̃:de:dʔi] "a book of the child" "one of the kid's books"
[ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ nɛ̃:lnɛ̃:de:dʔi] "the book of the child" "the kid's book"
[ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ nɛ̃:lnɛ̃:de:dʔi tedi:] "the book of the children" "the book of the kids"
[ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ tedi: nɛ̃:lnɛ̃:de:dʔi] "the books of the child" "the kid's books"
[ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ tedi: nɛ̃:lnɛ̃:de:dʔi tedi:] "the books of the children" "the books of the kids"
"Receptive" [ʔɔʔacɔɾ lulede:dʔət] "a book for a child" "a book for some child"
[ʔɔʔacɔɾ tedi: lulede:dʔət] "books for a child" "some books for some child"
[ʔɔʔacɔɾ tedi: lulede:dʔət tedi:] "books for a child" "some books for some children"
[ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ lulede:dʔət] "the book for a child" "the book for some child"
[ʔɔʔacɔɾ nũnɛ̃:de:dʔət] "a book for the child" "a book for the kid"


Postpositions are originally nouns with the [te-] prefix in the so-called “half genitive” construction. In the actual state of the language, they are used exclusively with [te-] or with a pronominal prefix.

The most common are:

  • [tetja:] “about”
  • [teʔo] “by” (passive voice)
  • [tecɛ:] “to”
  • [tedyh] “at”
  • [teʔu] “in”
  • [teda:b] “above”
  • [tepɾɔ:] “on”
  • [tedzo:] “from”
  • [tedjub] “under”
  • [teʔic] “beneath”
  • [tepjɛ:c] “next to”
  • [tepɾɛb], [teʔɛb] “besides”
  • [tewe:ɾ] “with” (instrument)
  • [teʔucu] “with” (company)
  • [tedɛwɛ] “without”
  • [tetjɔ:t] “across”
  • [tepaʔyɾ] “outside”
  • [tebidy:] “upon”
  • [tecup] “into”
  • [telu] “onto”
  • [tedo:h] “against”
  • [teʔɛ:wi] “between”
  • [tewa:d] “among”
  • [tedewap] “amidst”
  • [teʔɛ:h] “towards”
  • [teʔy:] “after” (place)
  • [teʔɛ:ʔi] “before” (place)
  • [teʔəʔy:] “after” (time)
  • [teʔol] “before” (time)
  • [teby:j] “up to”
  • [tepil] “despite”
  • [tecjɔj] “thanks to”
  • [tewɔpɾɔ] “thanks to”
  • [teləw] “off” (in the outside of)
  • [tecjeto:] “through”
  • [tepɾɔbeɾ] “around”
  • [teʔeb] “according to”

The postposition comes after the number indicator, if any is present. If applied to a word linked to another word by the genitive case, the postposition comes after the whole expression. When used with personal prefixes, the [te-] prefix is dropped.

Some examples:

  • [ŋxɑ̃:ŋxte tecjɔj] “thanks to the guard”
  • [ŋxɑ̃:ŋxte tedi: tecjɔj] “thanks to the guard”
  • [cɔbcjɔj] “thanks to you”
  • [xɾɛcə teʔol] “before dinner”
  • [xɾɛcə teʔəʔy:] “after dinner”
  • [mɛ̃:by nɛ̃:ŋxɛ̃:mɾibʔi tepjɛ:c] “next to the door of the room” (cf. [mɛ̃:by nɛ̃:ŋxɛ̃:mɾibʔi] “the door of the room”, [mɛ̃:by tepjɛ:c] “next to the door”, [pɛ:by tepjɛ:c] “next to a door”)
  • [pɾapjɛ:c] “next to us”


There are no true adjectives in Atudab. Adjectival expressions can be obtained by means of the "half genitive", that is, the use of the first half of the genitive circumfix ([te-]). So:

  • [hibpɾup] "red" (the color)
    • [dzotjo tehibpɾup] "a red flower"
  • [wɔhputɾe:] "courage", "bravery"
    • [wotʔawpɾɔ tewɔhputɾe:] "a brave warrior"



Cardinal numbers in [ʔatudab] are a special class of words in which, even considered as nouns, they do not need the link [te-] to be attributed to other nouns. The number zero is regularly used to mean "no", "none", "no one". Ex.:

  • [cɔdɔbu ʔɛdjə] "no tree(s)"
  • [hɛ:dji: ʔaɾy] "(only) one house"
  • [ʔɔʔacɔɾ ca:bo] "two books"
  • [pibe cɔllo] "three people"
  • etc.

With numbers, the plural indicator [tedi:] is not used. For the number two, it is mostly indifferent to use the number [ca:bo] or the dual number indicator [tebwɛ:], although the dual indicator gives the idea of a somehow coherent group, while the number [ca:bo] gives information only about the quantity. Ex.:

  • [pibe tebwɛ:] "two people", "both people", "a couple"
  • [pibe ca:bo] "two people"
0 [ʔɛdjə]
1 [ʔaɾy]
2 [ca:bo]
3 [cɔllo]
4 [pɾodz]
5 [ʔyʔy:]
6 [jɛjtɔt]
7 [hidaw]
8 [pɛʔad]
9 [lɛcɔʔu]
10 [cixɾu]


Ordinal numbers consist in the definite full genitive form of the corresponding cardinal numbers; generally, the noun also is in the definite form:

  • [ŋxɛ̃:dji: nɛ̃:ŋɑ̃:ɾyʔi] "the first house"
  • [ŋɔ̃:ʔacɔɾ nɛ̃:ncɑ̃:boʔi] "the second book"
  • [mbĩ:be nɛ̃:ncɔ̃:nlloʔi] "the third person"
1st [nɛ̃:ŋɑ̃:ɾyʔi]
2nd [nɛ̃:ncɑ̃:boʔi]
3rd [nɛ̃:ncɔ̃:nlloʔi]
4th [nɛ̃:mbɾɔ̃:dzʔi]
5th [nɛ̃:ŋĩ:ʔy:ʔi]
6th [nɛ̃:ɲɛ̃:ɲtɔtʔi]
7th [nɛ̃:ŋxĩ:dawʔi]
8th [nɛ̃:mbɛ̃:ʔadʔi]
9th [nɛ̃:lnɛ̃:cɔʔuʔi]
10th [nɛ̃:ncĩ:ŋxɾuʔi]



There are two types of personal pronouns: full (independent) pronouns and attached (dependent) pronouns.

The distinction of person is the same as in most Earth languages: 1st, 2nd and 3rd, both in singular and in plural. No distinction of gender is made.


The dependent pronouns are treated regularly as nouns:

Singular Plural
1st [ʔe:bo:] [lawɛ:]
2nd [ʔodz] [lodzu:]
3rd [ju:lo] [cediw]

The dependent pronouns have three main uses:

  1. marking the subject of verbs
  2. marking the possessor of nouns
  3. indicating the object of a postposition
Singular Plural
1st [ʔe:-] [pɾa-]
2nd [cɔb-] [lɛ:-]
3rd [jɛ:p-] [cɔ-]



The demonstrative pronouns are [ce] and [pyʔ]. They may be used as prefixes or following the noun, with the "half-genitive" prefix [te-]. In both cases, the noun is in the definite form. Ex.:

  • [cenxɛ̃:dji:], [nxɛ̃:dji: tece] "this house"
  • [pyʔnxɛ̃:dji:], [nxɛ̃:dji: tepyʔ] "that house"
  • [cenxɛ̃:dji: tedi:], [nxɛ̃:dji: tedi: tece] "these houses"
  • [pyʔnxɛ̃:dji: tedi:], [nxɛ̃:dji: tedi: tepyʔ] "those houses"

The second form (separated, with [te-]) is preferred in the current standard language.

An independent form is also in use, optionally nasalized:

  • [ce], [ncɛ̃:] "this", "this one", "this thing"
  • [pyʔ], [mĩ:ŋ] "that", "that one", "that thing"


  • [ce wij cɔdɔbu] "This is a tree."
  • [mỹ:ŋ wij teʔe:bo:ʔi] "That is mine."


  • [ʔephat] "which"
  • [wepɾob] "who"
  • [weha], acc. [mwɛ̃:ŋxɑ̃:] "what"
  • [wɔxɾu:] "where"
  • [ʔedhaj] "when"
  • [ʔojte] "how"
  • [ʔetpal] "why"

These are used as nouns and make no alteration in word order.


  • [wepɾob ɲɔ̃:ncɛ̃:m] "Who (subj.) command (obj.)" -> "Who is in charge?"
  • [cɔbhob mbɾĩ:n tewepɾobʔi] "You do seeing of who" -> "Whom are you seeing?", "Whom can you see?"
  • [ju:lo mwɛ̃:ŋxɑ̃:] "He (subj.) what (obj.)" -> "What does he have?", "What is he doing?"
  • [cɔhob ŋhɔ̃:lnɑ̃:m luwɔxɾu:ʔə] "They do/have a going to where?" -> "Where are they going?"


The relative pronoun in Atudab is [hy:], accus. [ŋxĩ:]. There is always a pause before the sentence in which it appears. E.g.:

  • [ce (wij) cɔdɔbu, poʔe:hob ŋɑ̃:ŋxmbwɛ̃: tehy:ʔi] "This is a tree that/which I planted."

However, this particle is gradually falling out of use, in favour of expressions with the personal pronouns, both independent and dependent form:

  • [ce (wij) cɔdɔbu, poʔe:hob ŋɑ̃:ŋxmbwɛ̃: tejɛ:pʔi] (lit. "This is the tree, I did the sowing of it") or [ce (wij) cɔdɔbu, poʔe:hob jɛ:pŋɑ̃:ŋxmbwɛ̃:] (Lit.: or "This is the tree, I did its sowing") "This is a tree that/which I planted."

There is also another construction with [hy:], but which is rarely used. It incorporates both sentences into a single sentence. E.g.:

  • [ce (wij) cɔdɔbu tepoʔe:hob ŋɑ̃:ŋxmbwɛ̃: hy:] "This is a tree that/which I planted."

Although common in older texts, this construction is not currently used in speech, and rarely used in writing.


Properly speaking, Atudab has only two verbs:

  • [wij] "be"
  • [hob] "make", "do" and also "have"

The verb [wij] is actually a linking element (copula) and requires a complement in the nominative case, while [hob] requires a complement in the accusative case.

All other notions are expressed by means of nouns. For example:

Sentence Gloss Translation
[hopəh wij pɾabidy:.] "Rain is upon us" "It is raining."
[ʔe:ŋũnslaɾ powij lujɛ:pʔət.] "My speech was to him" "I spoke to him."
[cɔɲɔ̃:ʔuhwal wij cjocab.] "Their travel is tomorrow" "They will travel tomorrow."
[cɔhob ɲɔ̃:ŋũŋxmbwɑ̃ln cjocab.] "They make (a) travel tomorrow" "They will travel tomorrow."
[nɛ̃ŋxɾɛcej nɛ̃mbũnʔɔʔi tedi: powij jɛ:pʔo.] "The killing of the enemies was by him" "He killed the enemies."
[pojɛ:phob nɛ̃ŋxɻnɛ̃nsẽɲ nɛ̃mbũnʔɔʔi tedi:.] "He did the killing of the enemies" "He killed the enemies."
[nzɔ̃:tjo powij nũ:mwɔ̃:co:ʔət ŋĩ:be:do: teʔo.] "The flower was to the woman by the man." "The man gave the flower to the woman."
[jɛ:phob ɲɑ̃:mwɛ̃:ŋxɑ̃: ŋxɾɛ̃:lɔlɔ: tece tedzo:.] "He does/has suffering from this disease" "He suffers from this disease."

When both subject and complement are expressed by means of full nominal expressions (that is, an expression having a noun as its nucleus), the verb may be omitted, provided it does not carry any information that may not be understood from context. E.g.:

Sentence Gloss Translation
[cɔɲɔ̃:ʔuhwal cjocab.] "Their travel tomorrow" "They will travel tomorrow."
[nɛ̃ŋxɾɛcej nɛ̃mbũnʔɔʔi tedi: jɛ:pʔo.] "The killing of the enemies by him" "He kills/killed the enemies."
[nɔ̃:ndɔp nɛ̃ŋxɻnɛ̃nsẽɲ nɛ̃mbũnʔɔʔi tedi:.] "The soldier (subj.) the killing (obj.) of the enemies" "The soldier kills/killed the enemies."
[nzɔ̃:tjo nũ:mwɔ̃:co:ʔət ŋĩ:be:do: teʔo.] "The flower to the woman by the man." "The man gives/gave the flower to the woman."
[ŋɛ̃:bwodz ɲɑ̃:mwɛ̃:ŋxɑ̃: ŋxɾɛ̃:lɔlɔ: tece tedzo:.] "The boy (subj.) suffering (obj.) from this disease" "The boy suffers from this disease."

Person and Number[]

Grammatical persons are indicated by means of the following prefixes:

Singular Plural
1s [ʔe:-]
2s [cɔb-]
3s [jɛ:p-]
1p [pɾa-]
2p [lɛ:-]
3p [cɔ-]

These prefixes may be dropped in the case of an explicit indication of the subject. So:

  • [hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] or [hopəh wij pɾabidy:] "It is raining"
  • [ʔodz cɔbwij pɾandɾĩŋxpɾɔ] or [ʔodz wij pɾandɾĩŋxpɾɔ] "You are our leader"

Time and Aspect[]

General past time is indicated by the prefix [po-], which comes before the personal prefix. In this case, the personal prefix is mandatory. E.g.:

  • [hopəh pojɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "It was raining"
  • [ʔodz pocɔbwij pɾandɾĩŋxpɾɔ] "You were our leader"

A kind of aorist tense, that is, a single action in a definite moment in the past, may be expressed by the modified prefix [mɔ̃:-] which is attached to and the first syllable of the verb, making it nasal. Personal prefixes come before this prefix. E.g.:

  • [hopəh jɛ:pmɔ̃:mbĩñ pɾabidy:] "It rained (once)"
  • [ʔodz cɔbmɔ̃:mbĩñ pɾandɾĩŋxpɾɔ] "You were (once) our leader"

Other indicators of tense are:

  • [ʔo ... ji:]: placed around the verb in the past, indicates a kind of past perfect (pluperfect) tense. Most times the notion of "already" is implied, but not necessarily. Ex.:
    • [hopəh ʔo jɛ:pmɔ̃:mbĩñ ji: pɾabidy:] "It had (already) rained."
    • [ʔodz ʔo cɔbmɔ̃:mbĩñ ji: pɾandɾĩŋxpɾɔ] "You had (already) been our leader."
  • [catɾux], placed at the end of a sentence, gives a future meaning. Note that this particle is not required to indicate future tense if there is a future time indication on the sentence. With this particle, the verb [wij] may be left off. E.g.:
  • [hopəh (jɛ:pwij) pɾabidy: catɾux] "It will rain", "It is going to rain"
  • [ʔodz (cɔbwij) pɾandɾĩŋxpɾɔ catɾux] "You will be our leader", "You are going to be our leader"


The so-called "sentence heads" ([tɾɛ:jəd tejɛ:ʔojpu]) have this name because they must always be the first element in a sentence. They function mostly like English modal verbs ("can", "must", "may" and so on). The most common are the following:

  • [cotɾi] "can" (indicates physical ability, like in "he can lift this stone")
  • [li:bi] "can", "know how" (indicates intellectual ability, like in "he can speak English")
  • [ʔaʔo:] "may" (indicates permission)
  • [tjeʔel] "should" (indicates a kind of advice)
  • [watja] "must" (indicates obligation)
  • [ʔipjaɾ] "need" (indicates some kind of necessity)
  • [lilo] "want" (indicates a desire)
  • [had] "guess" (indicates something that is not certain)


  • [cotɾi hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "It can rain" (at any moment)
  • [ʔaʔo: hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "It may rain" (not so probable)
  • [tjeʔel hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "It was supposed to rain"
  • [watja hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "It must rain" (weather forecast said it would be raining now)
  • [ʔipjaɾ hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "Rain is needed" (e.g. we are in a drought)
  • [lilo hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "It wants to rain" (indicates rain is imminent)
  • [had hopəh jɛ:pwij pɾabidy:] "I guess it is going to rain"


The imperative mood consists of the root in the accusative form, optionally preceded by [hob]. The expletive particle [to] may be used at the end of the sentence. Ex.:

  • [(hob) ŋɔ̃:ɲɔ̃: (to)] "come!" (lit. "do a coming")
  • [(hob) mwɑ̃:ɲɛ̃: (to)] "wake up!" (lit. "have/do an awakening")


Technically speaking, there is only the active voice. Anyway, if used without a direct object, a passive meaning may be understood. There is also a construction similar to our passive voice, built with the word [ɾiʔel] "people":

  • [poʔe:hob mwɑ̃:ɲɛ̃:] "I woke up", "I was woken up"
  • [ɻnĩ:ʔel pocɔhob ʔe:mwɑ̃:ɲɛ̃:] "People woke me up" -> "I was woken up"
  • [pocɔhob nɛ̃:ɻnmbwɛ̃:] "They wounded" -> "They were wounded"
  • [ɻnĩ:ʔel pocɔhob cɔnɛ̃:ɻnmbwɛ̃:] "People wounded them" -> "They were wounded"


The negative form of [hob] is [hobe:l], and the negative form of [wij] is [tidje:l]. These are conjugated regularly. In the negative form the personal prefixes must always be used. Ex.:

  • [hopəh jɛ:ptidje:l pɾabidy:] "It is not raining."
  • [cɔhobe:l ɲɔ̃:ŋũ:ŋxmbwɑ̃:ln cjocab] "They will not travel tomorrow."

In spoken form, mostly considered incorrect, the shortened forms [we:l] (for [hobe:l]) and [tje:l] (for [tidje:l]) are used, the personal prefixes being optional if the meaning is clear:

  • [hopəh tje:l pɾabidy:] "It is not raining."
  • [(cɔ)we:l ɲɔ̃:ŋũ:ŋxmbwɑ̃:ln cjocab] "They will not travel tomorrow."

In pure nominal constructions the particle [xɾe] is used:

  • [xɾe hopəh pɾabidy:] "It is not raining."


Sentence Structure[]

Atudab language is based on nouns. The relations between nouns are indicated by means of prefixes and the two "nominal cases", the genitive (both "full" and "half") and the dative. The only two verbs in use are the equivalent to "be" and to "have" or "do". All actions are expressed by means of phrases consisting basically of one of these verbs plus a noun.

The verb [hob] "have", "do", "make" requires its complement to be in the accusative case, obtained by means of what is called a "nasal transfix", which consists in the nasalization of every phoneme in a word (vowels and consonants).

So, in principle, a sentence in Atudab is radically different from a sentence in, lets say, English. See the following examples:

Gloss of the Sentence in Atudab Sentence in English
"I do your seeing." "I see you."
"I do the seeing of the film." "I watch the film."
"The race does the beginning in minutes ten." "The race will start in ten minutes."
"This language once had a featuring." "This language has once been featured."
"Do their death complete!" "Kill them all!"

So, to simplify things, we could consider that, to obtain a verb from a noun, you must prefix [hob] and apply a full nasalization on the noun:

Noun Verb
"(the (act of)) singing"
[hob mbɾɛ̃:nc]
"to sing"
"(the (act of)) fighting", "a fight"
[hob ndzɛ̃:nɑ̃:n]
"to fight"
"(the (act of)) researching", "a research"
[hob ŋĩ:lncĩ:ŋxmwĩ:]
"to research"

One must keep in mind, however, that this is not the way the language works. Internally these words are always nouns and the sentence structure must be in accordance with this fact. For instance, if you are to say “she sings beautifully”, you must use a structure like “her singing is of beauty” ([jɛ:pmbɾɛ̃:nc wij tewitjed]) or “she and her beautiful singing” ([ju:lo pɾu jɛ:pmbɾɛ̃:nc tewitjed]). The structure “she does a singing of beauty” ([jɛ:phob mbɾɛ̃:nc tewitjed]) is also possible, although not the most common for cases like this.


Text /
Translation Vocabulary
[mwɔ̃:cu:ʔə tece jɛ:pmɔ̃:ŋxɔ̃:m ɻnĩ:ɲɑ̃:ŋɑ̃:ŋx.]

"the language (of) this had once (a) featuring"

"This language was once featured."
  • [wocu:ʔə] "a language"
  • [ce] "this"
  • [hob] "have"
  • [ɾitjaʔa:h] "a featuring"
[jɛ:pɲĩ:mtatəh tedzyjuwut tecjɔj, jɛ:pŋɑ̃:ŋxpjo: tecjɔj, jɛ:pŋɔ̃:du tedi: tedjeɾjiʔɛdz tecjɔj,]

"Thanks to its level of quality, thanks to its plausibility, thanks to its usage capabilities,"

"Thanks to its level of quality, plausibility and usage capabilities"
  • [djiptatəh] "a level"
  • [dzyjuwut] "quality"
  • [ʔahpjo:] "plausability"
  • [ʔodu] "capability"
  • [djeɾjiʔɛdz] "usage"
[ɻnĩ:ʔel pocɔhob ŋxɾɛ̃:mbwɛ̃: nũ:ɻnĩ:tjaʔa:hʔət teju:lo.]

"the people had vote in benefit of the featuring of it."

"it has been voted as featured."
  • [ɾiʔel] "people"
  • [xɾɛ:pbwe] "a vote"

The North Wind and the Sun[]

Text Gloss Translation
[nɛ̃:ʔabʔy tepjol pɾu ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu:] "The wind of north and the sun" The North Wind and the Sun
[nɛ̃:ʔabʔy tepjol pɾu ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu: (pocɔhob) mɛ̃:mbjɔ̃:ncjũ: nũ:ncĩ:lɛjʔə teʔɛ:tlabyʔi, mɛ̃:ŋxbwə teʔephatʔi (po(jɛ:p)wij) mɛ̃:hbwə tepu:lcəʔi teda:b] "The wind of north and the sun (did) a dispute to the objective of definition, the power of which (was) above the the power of other one." The North Wind and the Sun disputed as to which was the most powerful.
[cɔpɾo:tɔhwel (po(jɛ:p)wij), cotɾi ʔaɾy (jɛ:phob) ɲɛ̃:lnĩ: nɛ̃:ɲɑ̃:babʔi tedi: tepibeʔi, ʔaɾy (wij) bɛtpjɔ:pɾɔ] "Their agreement (was), can one (do) the stripping of the clothes of a man, one (is) winner." They agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes.
[nɛ̃:ʔabʔy tepjol (po(jɛ:p)hob) ŋɔ̃:ɻnmɑ̃: tejɛ:pmɛ̃:ŋxbwə teŋɑ̃:ɾyʔi. ju:lo (po(jɛ:p)hob) mwɑ̃:mbɾɛ̃:mɑ̃: tejɛ:pmɛ̃:ŋxbwə telɛ:jely tewe:ɾ.] "The wind of north (did) an attempt of his power first. He (did) the blowing with his might in full." The North Wind first tried his power and blew with all his might,
[tɾɛ:hɔt, ju:lo (po(jɛ:p)hob) nɑ̃:mwĩ:ŋx tepɛ:hbwə, ɲɔ̃:ʔuhwalpɾɔ (po(jɛ:p)hob) nɑ̃:mwĩ:ŋx tewɔhco tejɛ:pɲɑ̃:bab jɛ:pwɔpɾɔ.] "But, he (does) an increment of power, the traveller (does) an increment of wrapping of his cloth around himself." but the keener his blasts, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him.
[pjɔ:da tedyh, nɛ̃:ʔabʔy tepjol pɾu jɛ:pmbwɛ̃:tɾo:d] "At end the wind of north and his giving up." And at last the North Wind gave up the attempt.
[ʔɛ:, ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu: pɾu jɛ:pɲɔ̃:dzjy: tewotʔuj] "Now, the sun and his shining of warm." Then the Sun shined out warmly,
[pɾu ɲɔ̃:ʔuhwalpɾɔ (po(jɛ:p)hob) ɻnɛ̃:ŋũ: tejɛ:pɲɑ̃:bab teca:cʔa:] "And the traveler (did) a taking off of his cloak of immediate." and immediately the traveler took off his cloak.
[lobaji:, watja nɛ̃:ʔabʔy tepjol (po(jɛ:p)hob) lnɛ̃:ncmũ:ɲ] "Consequence, must the wind of north (did) a confession:" And so the North Wind was obliged to confess
[mɛ̃:ŋxbwə nɛ̃:ŋɑ̃:ɻntɛʔu:ʔi (po(jɛ:p)wij) jɛ:pmɛ̃:ŋxbwə teda:b] "the force of the sun (was) above his force." that the Sun was the stronger of the two.

See also[]

  • Nominal Sentences in Atudab: this article deals with the various types of nominal sentences in Atudab.
  • True Verbal Sentences in Atudab: this article shows how the only true verbs in Atudab (wij and hob) are used and when then can be omitted.
  • Absence of Verbs in Atudab: this article deals with the almost complete absence of verbs in Atudab, showing how the language uses relations between nouns to express meanings for which most languages rely on verbs.
  • Nasality as a morphological distinction in Atudab: this article shows the ways in which nasality is used in Atudab with morphological functions. Definiteness and case are the most important ones, but there are more.