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Name: Kiɓ̰ubu

Type: Absolutive-Ergative

Alignment: Kiɓ̰ubu

Head Direction: Usually initial

Number of genders: 2

Declensions: Yes

Conjugations: Yes

Nouns declined
according to
Case Number
Definitiveness Gender
Verbs conjugated
according to
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect
Gender Cases Numbers Tenses Persons Moods Voices Aspects
Verb Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No
Nouns Yes Yes No No No Yes No No
Adjectives Yes Yes No No No Yes No No
Numbers Yes No No No No No No No
Participles Yes Yes No No No Yes No No
Adverb Yes No No No No Yes No No
Pronouns Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Adpositions No No No No No No No No
Article Yes No No No No Yes No No
Particle No No No No No No Yes Yes


Spoken by the strange "barbarians" of the northern coasts, Kiɓ̰ubu is a dying language. The land is harsh, and people scarce, so the number of Kiɓ̰ubu speakers has always been slim. The speech of the citydwellers is a vastly diluted form of the original, and one would be hard-pressed to find a family that speaks the tongue as a first language in the home. Furthermore, the language has suffered persecution at the hands of Emedonian colonial authorities, who scornfully categorize it as one of the "savage Barbic tongues" and have repeatedly tried, with moderate success, to eradicate it and "educate" its speakers in Emedonian civilization. However, despite its borrowings from Barbic languages, recent studies have failed to connect Kiɓ̰ubu to any living language.

Word Order[]

Kiɓ̰ubu is OVS, or Object-Verb-Subject. Quirkily, adjectives follow the nouns in the ergative case and precede those in the absolutive case. Adverbs tend to follow the word being modified (unless modifying an absolutive adjective, in which case they precede). Direct objects will precede indirect objects. Because it is head-initial, dependent clauses follow the verb.



Kiɓ̰ubu consonants are by and large rather simple. Perhaps the most difficult to produce are the implosives /ɓ̰/ and /ɗ̰̪/. These two sounds are made when air is forced inwards rather than out. As such, when they are present in a word they tend to have a dominating influence, assimilating other consonants and causing shifts. See the Pronunciation section for more details.

Labial Dental/Alveolar Alveolar Lateral Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b ɓ̰ t d ɗ̰̪ k g ʔ
Fricative f v s z x ɣ h
Trill r
Approximant ɹ l


Kiɓ̰ubu uses a simple 5-vowel system, as follows:

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a


Kiɓ̰ubu has two implosives, /ɓ̰/ and /ɗ̰̪/. These consonants, by virtue of their pronunciation, can and will change other letter pronunciations in a word to make it simpler to pronounce.

Phoneme Type Position Change Example
Stop (non-implosive) Immediately before Assimilation /retɗ̰̪e/, "pinecone", is pronounced [rḛɗ̰̪ɗ̰̪ḛ]
Immediately after Dropping /ɓ̰uɗ̰̪ka/, "squirrel", is pronounced [ɓ̰ṵɗ̰̪a̰]
Separated by one vowel and adjacent to another If p, b, t, or d, assimilation /Kiɓ̰ubu/ is pronounced [Kiɓ̰uɓ̰u]
Separated by one vowel and adjacent to a consonant No change /zalteɗ̰̪/, "stick", is pronounced [zaltḛɗ̰̪]
Fricative Adjacent Assimilation /kosɗ̰̪er/, "salt", is pronounced [koɗ̰̪ɗ̰̪er]
Non-adjacent No change
Nasal /n/ Anywhere Change to [r̃] (allophonic with [r]) /ɗ̰̪aren/, "mountain", is pronounced [ɗ̰̪a̰r̰ḛr̰̃]
Vowel Anywhere Inconsistent creaky voice

The change of /n/ to [r̃] will always result in creaky voice, in both consonants and vowels, as can the dropping of post-implosive stops. However, the presence of [r̃] can trigger the change of fricatives, usually /s/ and /z/, to become {r}; it also can cause the change of the stops /p/ or /b/ to /ɓ̰/ and /t/ or /d/ to /ɗ̰̪/. An example would be the pronunciation of /doanɓ̰ar/ as [ɗ̰o̰a̰r̰̃ɓ̰a̰r̰].

Another set of pronunciation changes, sandhi, can be found in Kiɓ̰ubu. When an unvoiced consonant and a voiced consonant occur next to one another, the unvoiced consonant is transformed into its voiced equivalent, if possible. Similarly, if the approximants /ɹ/ or /l/ occur next to the trill /r/, the /r/ will assimilate. If the nasals /n/ or /m/ occur next to /ŋ/, they will assimilate as well.

Orthographic Pronunciation[]

The appearance of double letters in the orthography of Kiɓ̰ubu means slightly different things depending on whether the doubled letters are consonants or vowels and the dialect of the speaker. Traditionally, doubled consonants and vowels referred to gemination and vowel lengthening, respectively. Thusly, /bb/ was pronounced [bː] or [bb] and /aa/ was pronounced [aː]. However, in some dialects, especially those of the most isolated islands, doubled vowels were pronounced as two distinct but conjoined instances of the same vowel. There would be a tonal difference between the two vowels, often accompanied by a sort of glide between the two. The double consonants would be pronounced as two separate consonants with minimal space between. Within the past 150 years, these pronunciations have largely faded into obscurity in lieu of the more classical pronunciation.


Kiɓ̰ubu can allow for syllables of the following form:


Usually, at least one consonant will be present in any Kiɓ̰ubu syllable with the exception of certain "short words" or words beginning or ending with two adjacent vowels.


  • Nasals can precede any stop, but in general they will follow stops located at their own point of articulation.
  • Nasals can precede approximants, a trill, or each other.
  • Nasals can only precede fricatives located at their own point of articulation, and even then only rarely.
  • Stops can precede nasals, a trill, fricatives, and each other.
  • Stops will almost never be seen preceding approximants.
  • Can appear before stops, approximates, and other fricatives.
  • The antipathy between nasals and fricatives is seen again; the two are rarely adjacent.
  • There are few words which place a trill after a fricative, but it is possible.
  • Can appear before approximants, stops, and sibilants.
  • Cannot appear before a nasal, except in writing. The pronunciation change will transform it into the approximant /ɹ/
  • Approximants can only appear before a stop or a nasal.


Stress appears on the first syllable of the root of any word, with two exceptions. If there is a double vowel in the word, then the syllable in which is contained receives the primary stress. If there is a syllable with a double consonant, or two consonants that are pronounced as a double consonant, then that syllable receives the primary stress.

Basic Grammar[]


  • Kiɓ̰ubu is an ergative-absolutive language, but it uses an ancillary prepositional case to distinguish such words from those in the default absolutive.
  • Gender distinguishes based on animacy and, to a lesser extent, by familiarity with the speaker. It is intrinsic to nouns and must be indicated in verbs.
  • The verb "to be" is used only for existential statements (if at all; the trend is to drop it). Elsewhere, other verbs are substituted.
  • When speaking with a superior, it is customary to use intransitive verbs or the passive voice (or both, though this is quite awkward and is considered fawning)

Parts of Speech[]


All nouns have an implicit gender, either animate or inanimate. In the past, there were many more of these "genders", but, with the exception of a few words, mostly abstractions from the extinct "intangible" gender, they have by and large disappeared. Inanimate nouns are a bit unusual because, traditionally, they could never function as the subject of an active transitive verb. Therefore, they would only be seen in the absolutive case when acting as the subject of a passive or deponent transitive verb. As with most languages, however, Kiɓ̰ubu changes over time, and this custom is often eschewed; speakers will either ignore the rule, or, if feeling fastidious, will add an affix for animacy.

Nouns have three cases: Ergative, Absolutive, and Adpositional. The Absolutive form is the default form of the noun. They are declined by gender, case, and definitiveness, not by number.

  • The ergative case functions as the subject of a transitive verb.
  • The absolutive case functions as the subject of an intransitive verb, the object of a transitive verbs, and the subject and complement of a copula.
  • The adpositional case is used with various adpositions to elaborate the function of verbs and nouns.
  • Nouns are always given with two forms listed: the primary root, the absolutive definite, and the secondary root, the absolutive indefinite (the relevant root is this form minus the prefix). Nouns decline based on the secondary root.

Below is the declension of a regular animate noun: xoor, ʔexoor, "dog, hunting hound":

Definite Indefinite
Absolutive xoor ʔexoor
Ergative ixoor sixoor
Adpositional axoor faxoor

Below is the declension of a regular inanimate noun, keta, neketa, "meat; flesh":

Definite Indefinite
Absolutive keta neketa
Ergative iketa niketa
Adpositional keta aketa

Thusly, the endings for regular nouns of both genders would be:

Animate Inanimate
Definite Indefinite Definite Indefinite
Absolutive stem ʔ(e)- stem n(e)-
Ergative i(h)- s(i)- i(h)- n(i)-
Adpositional a(h)- f(a)- stem a(h)-

Unfortunately, not all nouns are regular. Whether borrowed from terms from other languages, or surviving as relics from lost grammatical genders, some nouns decline irregularly. Thankfully, all one needs in order to learn the irregularities is to become familiar with the secondary root. Below are the main groups of irregular nouns:

  • Double-vowel nouns are nouns which begin with two vowels. When declined, they replace their initial vowel with the inherent vowel of the necessary prefix.
    • aornak, neornak, "fog, mist; spray; cloud"
    • iekkerarat, ʔeekkerarat, "ancestral enemy, natural enemy"
  • Monoforms only decline in the Ergative definite. Many of these nouns are recent borrowings. They will be listed with a third root - the ergative definite.
    • feniku, feniku, ifeniku, "palm tree" (from Emedonian)
    • ʔokratsiak, ʔokratsiak, iʔokratsiak, "orator, storyteller"
  • Non-declining nouns do not decline at all. Like Monoforms, a third root will be given. Many of these nouns refer to simple or fundamental concepts, as well as abstracts, but some are borrowings.
    • iske, iske, iske, "power, force, ability; soul"
    • tamma, tamma, tamma, "error"
  • Stem-changing nouns are the most difficult to remember. Oftentimes, the changes must be learnt along with the noun. Most of these nouns were part of other genders that merged into either the animate or inanimate, taking the prefixes but retaining old patterns of declension, such as the i/u shift (the raising of front e to i and back o to u) as well as front-voicing shift (consonants tend to move from unvoiced to voiced, and from voiced towards the front of the mouth). Still others are unpredictable, the result of inscrutable sound change or arcane merges of two related terms
    • ŋehu, ʔenihu, "nose"
    • ɣeb, ʔekiɓ̰, "mouth" (hence Kiɓ̰ubu from second root)
    • umit, ʔumid, "beard, whiskers"
    • mak, nemixa, "pebble" (in disuse; nemak and nemag are more common)

Those few nouns from the intangible gender that have survived into modern speech decline like animate nouns in the definite, but lack indefinite forms.


Verbs in Kiɓ̰ubu are conjugated with affixes determined by several factors, such as noun gender, verb tense, and so forth. There are four main types of verbs: -os, -as, -ek, and -ru, named for their thematic endings. The -os group entails verbs which describe a change to the initiator, the -as group includes verbs where there is no change, and the -ek group contains both verbs of perception as well as verbs of relation, or those that take an indirect object. The -ru group consists almost entirely of passive verbs and deponents. However, there are, as usual, exceptions to each category.

As stated before, it is forbidden to use an inanimate noun in the ergative case with an active verb. However, this is not true for deponents an passives. Thus, -ru group verbs see many more ergative inanimates than the other conjugation groups do.

Below is a sample sentence which demonstrates the parsing of an -os type verb, ɹasgos:

  • keta ɹaɹasguzo ixoor
  • meat-ABS.-def. eat-Anim.-3rd.-sing.+sing.-present dog-ERG.-def.
  • The dog eats the meat

Here, the verb ɹasgos has a single animate initiator in the third person that is currently acting on a single target. Therefore, the stem -ɹasg- receives a reduplicated prefix, ɹa-, indicating an animate initiator in the third person, and a suffix, -uzo, determining that both the initiator and the recipient are singular, and that the action is occurring at this very moment. Here is a table which shows ɹasgos being conjugated in the simple present tense:

Animate Init.*
Both Sing. Init. Pl. Recip. Pl. Both Pl.
1st. Pers. Init. ɹasguzo ɹasgozo ɹasguxe ɹasgoxe
2nd. Pers. Init. saɹasguzo saɹasgozo saɹasguxe saɹasgoxe
3rd. Pers. Init. ɹaɹasguzo ɹaɹasgozo ɹaɹasguxe ɹaɹasgoxe

* Since ɹasgos is an active, transitive verb, it lacks an inanimate conjugation.

Here is an -as verb, roras, "hold":

Animate Init.
Both Sing. Init. Pl. Recip. Pl. Both Pl.
1st. Pers. Init. rorazo roraso roraɣe roraxe
2nd. Pers. Init. sororazo sororaso sororaɣe sororaxe
3rd. Pers. Init. rororazo rororaso rororaɣe rororaxe


Example text[]