Gambese - Gambais - Rēo Gamavē
Morphological Type: Pseudo-Analytical Polysynthetic*
Morphosyntactic Alignment:
Linguistic Head: Head Initial
Word Order: VOS
Made by: Maxseptillion77

General Information[]

Gambese is a Marquesic (branch of polynesian) language deriving from Proto-Hawaiian. It is spoken mainly on the Gambier Islands along with Marquesan and French (the latter has a large influence on its lexicon with most loans taken from French). Gambese is heavily reliant on a set word order and specific syntax. 

(*) Gambese is pseudo-analytical polysynthetic in that it is written as analytical but acts polysynthetic; similar to how French is pseudo-fusional polysynthetic in that it is written as fusional and is perceived by its speakers as fusional, but in reality, acts polysynthetic. 

Language name goes from left to right: English, French, Gambese

Sound Changes at the bottom




There are 10 consonant phonemes which can form minimal pairs. More on consonant phonology is explained in the Allophony section.

Labial Alveolar Dorsal Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p k ʔ '
Fricative v ʃ s h
Approximant w ɾ r j y
Front Central Back
High i ʉ̞ u
Mid e o
Low a



Gambese has rigid phonotactical restraints which define it and languages like it.

  • Consonant clusters are not permitted
  • A syllable may only ever be CV, V, or VV
  • /ʃ/ may only be before /i/

Syllable stress tends to fall on the first syllable of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, but being a syllable-timed language, Gambese pronounces each syllable with almost equal length (with stressed syllables being marginally longer).

manu /má.nʉ/ "bird"

In longer words, while primary stress is always on the first syllable, the secondary stress will fall on the the third syllable.

horohorona /hó¹.ro.hó² "animal"

In bisyllabic words with two long vowels, they are both stressed, with the second as a secondary stress.

‘ō‘ō /ʔó¹:.ʔó²:/ "spears"

In words that had been formed using "first syllable reduplication" (more information in that section), the stress is never put on the reduplicated prefix (except if the entire word is reduplicated). 

kukurī /kʉ.kʉ́¹.rí²:/ "puppy"
ika-ika /í².ka.í¹.ka/ "minnow"

In the flow of a sentence, word stress cannot fall on a preposition, particle, or article. Because of this fact, coincedentally, in compound phrases (explained under "Possessive Phrases" in the fourth example), the stress can never fall on one of these building blocks, take hoaoa o e ariki for example, "community".

hoaoa o e ariki /hó¹.a.o.á².o.e.a.rí³.ki/ "community"

Grammar / Syntax[]



All nouns must take some form of article. For the definite singular articles, a / ‘a is used when the following word first syllable contains a consonant, o, or i; otherwise, e / ‘e is used. The exception is when the word starts with /ʔ/, where the vowel following /ʔ/ is used as the marker, as in, if the word begins in ‘a... then e / ‘e is used, but if it begins in ‘o...a / ‘a is used instead. 

After~ o, i a, e, u, Ø
Definite Singular a, e ‘a, ‘e
Paucal na mō
Indefinite Singular e he

Reduplication (in nouns)[]

Final Syllable Reduplication

As may have been noticed in the articles section, there is no marker for indefinite paucal and plural. Hence developed reduplication as a method to making a plural (the paucal and plural numbers coalesced in the indefinite with this method and became a general plural, which syntactually is used to signify the noun as a whole while the indefinite singular signifies an unspecified one in the noun in general). Reduplication here is done by repeating the last syllable.

ika    >       ikaka
"fish" becomes "fishes"

In bisyllabic words where the last syllable is a vowel, the last two vowels are repeated. 

hoa      >       hoaoa
"friend" becomes "friends"

In words where the last syllable ends in a long vowel, the long vowel is shortened.

kurī  >       kurīri
"dog" becomes "dogs"

In single syllable words, the whole word is repeated and vowel length is kept.

‘ō      >       ‘ō‘ō
"spear" becomes "spears"
First Syllable Reduplication

First syllable reduplication is a diminuative marker in a noun or adjective, as opposed to final syllable reduplication which marks plurality. However, this use of reduplication is not very formal and while widespread colloquially, in formal situations, there are only a few lexicalized words that are acceptable. Typically, the first syllable will be repeated (a sidenote: the stress will remain the same (more information in Stress)).

kurī  >       ku-kurī
"dog" becomes "puppy" or "[a] dog [of a smaller breed]"

When the first syllable is V or ʔV, then the first two syllables will be repeated.

‘ama    >       ‘ama-‘ama
"child" becomes "child" (endearing)

ika    >       ika-ika
"fish" becomes "minnow" or "[a small species of] fish"

Possessive Phrases[]

This is the most complex part of Gambese before articles. The structure of a possessive phrase is constructed like English with the preposition of in that there is the possessed noun first then the possessee is linked through the preposition. There is an honorifixs-esque system with the preposition which indicates the relationship between the possessee and the possessor depending on the one used. a is the first and most common and indicates in general the the possessor is of lower importance or social standing, is indefinite and general, is commonplace, subordinate, &c. o is the second and indicates in general the possessor is, inversed to a, of higher importance or social standing, is definite and special, is unique, higher in the hierarchy, &c. In reference to people in specific relationships, o is used to show respect for the possessor. 

e          ‘ama   o      a         ma‘wa
(DEF.SING) child  of.HON (DEF.SING) parent/elder
"The child of the parent" or "The parent's child"

As can be seen, the head of the possessive phrase is the possessor and is placed at the beginning and the possessor is placed after the preposition. The choice of preposition here is o because it is showing the relationship between mother and child, where the child respects the mother. 

a          rākō  a  ‘a         kurī
(DEF.SING) stick of (DEF.SING) dog
"The stick of the dog" or "The dog's stick"

However, in this example, a is used to show that the stick is "lower" or less important than the dog. This is not pejorative, but simply an honorifics system (unless, among human beings, someone of clearly lower social standing addressed the one of clearly higher social standing using a). Another feature of Gambese is forming new words through compound "possessive" phrases, which act as their own words phonologically and semantically (having different stress timings than if they were all separate), but are written out as if separate. Typically, they are formed with a indefinite plural noun and a definite singular noun possessor.

hoaoa      o      e          ariki
friend.PLU of.HON (DEF.SING) chief
Literally, "friends of the chief", but semantically, "community"


In Gambese, adjectives are identical to their noun counterparts; they are identified by their place in the sentence. However, some nouns can act only as adjectives and some others cannot be adjectives at all. 


Vocabulary and Text[]


As there is no centralized and reasonably convenient dictionary for Proto-Polynesian†, some words will be reconstructed from Hawaiian, Māori, and Marquesan using the dictionaries linked at the bottom of the page.

The link to the lexicon page is here .

(†) look to bottom of article

Exmples []



Lord's Prayer


Tower of Babel


Sound Changes[]

Note: some words will be reconstructed from modern Hawaiian, Marquesan, Samoan, and Māori with an emphasis on the former two. 

Proto-Polynesian > Gambese

l > ɾ                        *laŋi > raŋi sky
ʔ > Ø                        *ʔao > ao cloud
ŋ > j                        *taŋata > tajata human being
t > ʔ                        *tajata > ʔajaʔa
w > v                        *wahine > vahine woman (*wahine is from Eastern Polynesian)
h > Ø ! _i > ʃ               *kanahe > kanae  mullet fish
                             *vahine > vaʃine
f > h                        *nifo > niho tooth
s > h / #_                   *sala > hara wrong
u(ʔ)V > wV                   *uʔa > wa neck
i(ʔ)V > jV                   *ia > ja he/she/it
Vi > Vj ! Vji                *wai > vaj water
                             *mataŋi > maʔaji > maʔa.i wind
Vu > Vw                      *tao > ʔaw spear
u > ʉ̞                        *manu > manʉ̞ bird

Long Vowels

aj > e:                      *vaj > ve:
aw > o:                      *ʔaw > ʔo:
ew > e:o                     *leʔo > reo > rew > re:o language, voice
VV > V̄                       *taʔane > ʔaane > ʔa:ne man



  • evidentiality 
  • number agreement 
  • French-ish grammar

(†) To clarify, there very well could be a pretty good dictionary, or a paper copy, or whatever. Also, that a resource be inconvenient is not an adequate excuse. But. I'm doing this for fun, not to write a dissertation. , ,

La grammaire des langues des Îles Marquises

Grammar of Hawaiian (add 18 to the table of contents)