Phoneme inventories[]

Consonant inventory
Labial Alveolar Platal Velar Glottal
Ejective plosive p' t' <t'> t͡ɕ’ <c’> k' <k'>
Aspirated Plosive pʰ <ph> tʰ <th> t͡ɕʰ <ch> kʰ <kh>
Plain plosive p <p> t <t> t͡ɕ <c> k <k>
Voiced plosive b <b> d <d> d͡ʓ <j> g <g>
Aspirated nasal ṃʰ <mh> ṇʰ <nh> η̣ʰ <ηh>
Plain nasal m <m> n <n> η <ηh>
Aspirated fricative sʰ <sh> xʰ <xh>
Plain fricative s <s> x <x> h <h>
Voiced Fricative v <v> z <z>
Aspirated lateral ɬʰ <lh> ɩʰ <łh>
Plain lateral l <l> ɩ <ł>
Trill r <r>


1 reduced vowel                 ə <ĕ>

6 short vowels                    ɑ <a>, ɛ <e>, i <i>, o <o>, u <u>, ɨ <y>

6 long vowels                     ɑ: <ā>, ɛ: <ē>, i: <ī>, ɔ <ō>, u: <ū>, ɨ: <ȳ>

6 centralizing vowels          ɑə <aĕ>, ɛə <eĕ>, iə <iĕ>, oə <oĕ>, uə <uĕ>, ɨə <yĕ>


Stress always lies on the first syllable.

All vowels but the reduced vowel ə can appear in stressed syllables. All vowels can appear in unstressed syllables.



There is a weak vowel harmony concerning some suffixes. /i/ and /ɨ/ often vary in suffixes, /i/ appears if the preceding syllable has a front vowel (/i/ or /ɛ/) while /ɨ/ appears in other contexts. The same sometimes happens with the back vowel /ɑ/ and the front vowel /ɛ/.


Syllabic pattern[]

Mhilva phonotactics is very free. The syllable pattern is (C)(C)(C)(C)(C)V(R)(C), where R stands for a resonant consonant. In the heavy onset, there can be peaks of sonority but they are not considered syllabic nuclei because of stress patterns.


/ɨ/ cannot appear after palatals.

/i/ cannot appear after velar laterals.

There are no geminates, so two same consonants cannot appear contiguously. The same rule applies to the consonants that differ only at voice or aspiration.



Gender and class[]

Mhilva has two distinct categories of gender and noun class.

Adjectives agree their head in gender. Verbs agree their subject and object in both class and gender. Both are sometimes marked in the nouns themselves, but both the categories can be unmarked, as well, and usually are.

The genders are masculine, feminine, and plural genders. All plurals of the nouns that are masculine or feminine in singular are of the plural gender in plural, but there are nouns that don't inflect in number that are always of the plural gender. Animate nouns are always classified by their natural gender. Inanimate nouns can be masculine, feminine or plural.

The noun classes are animate, inanimate and abstract. They are classified much more clearly by semantic bases. There are nouns of all genders in all noun classes and voce versa.

Case and topicality[]

Mhilva has two kinds of topics: language-internal and language-external.

Language internal topics have been mentioned, often in other words, in the spoken context. Language-external topics are known in the context of the speech participants. If you are discussing with your friend, for example, and your can comes to the room, you can say 'The can came.' although you were speaking about world politics and the cat has nothing to do with your language-internal discourse (i.e. world politics), but its known from the language-external context (i.e. the room you are speaking in).

Stem Topicality Absolutive Ergative/Genitive
ends in ‘not allowed consonant’ Non-topical -a -at
ends in ‘allowed consonant’ Non-topical -at
vowel-final Non-topical -t
Consonant-final Language-internal topic -y/-i -ty/-ti
vowel-final (excluding a) Language-internal topic -ie -ty/-ti
ends in a  Language-internal topic a => e -ty/-ti
consonant-final Language-external topic -o -to
vowel-final Language-external topic -ho -to


There are three verb classes: stative verbs, intransitive verbs, telic transitive verbs, and atelic transitive verbs. The classes are defined by their morphosyntactic behavior.


- Evidentiality is expressed in the same affixes than case agreement. There are two categories of evidentiality: egophoric evidentiality (ego) and non-egophoric evidentiality (nego). Egophoric evidentiality says that I have been the subject (or another main participant) of the event described, and thus can name myself as the main source of the information.  

- 1+2nd is a form of I and you (sg) acting together, which would be called 1st person inclusive dual in other systems.  

- Which is not visible in the table above, the third person affixes s-, v-, and -n/ən can be added to 1st, 2nd, and 1+2nd person subject forms, to form complex persons like 1st + 3rd masc = I and him (=we), 1+2nd + 3rd fem = I, you, and she (=we) etc.  

Verb in Non-Habitual aspect  

1st ego 1st nego 2rd 1+2nd ego 1+2nd nego 3rd M/F 3rd PL
1st ego lllllllllll llllllllllllll -bi-l lllllllllllllll lllllllllllllllllll -yl -l-yn
1st nego lllllllllll llllllllllllll -bi-k lllllllllllllll lllllllllllllllllll -yk -k-yn
2nd -b-ol -b-ok lllllllllll lllllllllllllll lllllllllllllllllll -yb -b-yn
1+2nd ego lllllllllll llllllllllllll lllllllllll lllllllllllllll lllllllllllllllllll -ylh -lh-yn
1+2nd nego lllllllllll llllllllllllll lllllllllll lllllllllllllll lllllllllllllllllll -ysh -sh-yn
3rd M s-X-ol s-X-ok s-X-bi s-X-lha s-X-sha s-X s-X-yn
3rd F v-X-ol v-X-ok v-X-bi v-X-lha v-X-sha v-X v-X-yn
3rd PL -l-yn -k-yn X-bi-n -lha-n -sha-n -ī-n -yn

All verb classes – whether finite or infinite – have an inflectional paradigm of mood. The moods are: non-volitional, volitional, deontic and potential.

-          Non-volitional mood is the unmarked form of the paradigm

-          Volitional mood does not express that the subject wants to participate in the action but that he or she actively does it.

-          Deontic mood expresses, as its name implies, deontic modality, some kind of a need to do something.

-          Potential mood expresses both deontic and epistemic potentiality. Someone is either able to do something or there is a possibility that he or she does it.  

nēcu – non-volitional – loves, is in love

nēctu – volitional – loves actively, keeps up loving

nēcelu – deontic – wants to love, should love

nēcnu – potential – can love

xuru – non-volitional – sees 

xurtu – volitional – watches

xurolu – deontic – wants to see, should see

xurnu – potential – can see

These same moods appear in converbs, as well.

nēc – non-volitional – when loving (time), loving (cause)

nēct – volitional – by loving (means), when loving (time), loving (cause)

nēcel – deontic – in order to love (purpose)

nēcĕn – potential – when being able to love (time), being able to love (cause) 

xur – non-volitional – when seeing (time), seeing (cause)   

xurt – volitional – by seeing/watching (means), when seeing/watching (time), seeing/watching (cause)  

xurol – deontic – in order to see/watch (purpose)

xurĕn – potential – when being able to see (time), being able to see (cause)

All verb classes – whether finite or infinite – have three relative tenses, as well. All moods and all relative tenses can be combined.

xuru – simultaneous – sees

noxuru – posterior, prospective – will see

exoru – anterior, perfect – has seen

xur – simultaneous – seeing

noxur – posterior, prospective – before seeing

exur – anterior, perfect – after seeing, having seen  

Infinite verb forms[]

The classification of the infinite verb forms is surprisingly clear in Mhilva. There are three infinite forms: converb, masdar (action nominal, verbal noun), and participle.  

The converb is formed by neglecting cross-referencing and tense inflection of the verb. Converb, is thus, the simplest form of a verb. 

Masdar is formed by adding suffix -a, and inflection the word like a noun ending in a. Masdars are always of the abstract class but their gender follows the gender of their subject.  

Participles are formed of the verb stem like denominal adjectives of nominal stems.