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Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect


Qalaq (archaic: qal goodʔaq speech) is a language isolate spoken by a nomadic tribe in northern Africa, Qalaqrang, originally from the shores of the Nile, but, through a series of migrations, most motivated by the Islamic conquest of northern Africa, now living on largely the same territory as the Tuareg. Despite formally converting to Islam, the tribes still retain an ancient pantheon and a great number of traditional stories and legends.


  • As Qalaq has no alphabet or literary standard, I will only use transcription and IPA to represent the language.


Phonemes and Transcription[]

The forms in the parentheses are approximate phoneme pronunciation using IPA symbols, while the symbol on the left represent how these sounds are transcribed.

Front Central Back
Close i (i) u (u)
Mid e (ɛ) (ə) o (ɔ)
Open a (ä)


  • While schwa is not within Qalaq vowel inventory, many speakers reduce unaccented vowels to schwa when they are not needed to distinguish words or grammatical forms. This is particularly common in conjuctions and postpositions.
  • The phonetic realisation of mid-vowels in Qalaq is not strictly defined. The e, while it is ideally an open ɛ, can be articulated by various speakers in various contexts as a closed e, or a more open æ. shows similar variation.
  • There are no true diphthongs in Qalaq, albeit any combination with the two semivowels can be interpreted as a diphthong. All combinations are allowed.
Labial Dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral




Affricate ts

Fricative f θ
χ (h)
Nasal m n ŋ
Trill r
Approximant l j w


  • (h) is an allophone of (x) word initially.
  • All aspirated consonants are aspirated very forcefully and audibly. Some constriction of the throat is also present when they are articulated, similar to Arabic emphathic consonants.
  • s, z, n, l, ts, tsʰ and dz are slightly palatalized before and i.
  • p and pʰ were likely phonemes in early Qalaq, but in both the Modern and Classical variety, they merged into f.


Essentially, a syllable in Qalaq can be defined as: (C)(C)V(C)(C). Generally, any combination conforming to this definition is allowed. However, there are additional rules forbidding some few combinations.

  • rs syllable initially is not allowed.
  • θ and ð may only appear adjacent to a vowel or an approximant.
  • A word cannot end on an aspirated stop. If it would due to flexion, the stop is deaspirated.


There is also a small degree of sandhi, the rules of which are as follows:

  • While all consonants may be geminated, geminated forms may only appear in intervocalic positions. In consonant clusters, they are reduced to single length consonants.
  • is palatalized into ʃ when preceding an rm, fk. The equivalent rule applies to z preceding rmbg. Both are also palatalized after r syllable finally and reduced to x and ɣ respectively syllable finally after an l.
  • A stop followed by a non-sibilant fricative with the same place of articulation merges into the fricative. e.g. kak+xang>kaxang, awt+θarg>awθarg
  • A nasal followed by a stop adjusts its place of articulation according to the stop. A nasal followed by a nasal remains unchanged, but a schwa is inserted between them to aid articulation if needed. A nasal followed by a stop with the same place of articulation absorbs the stop and, in an intervocalic position, becomes geminate. e.g. am+ter>anter, am+nar>amnar, am+baɣʒa>ammaɣʒa
  • Two adjacent consonants of different voicing do not adjust one to the other. Instead, either a short schwa is inserted in between or short between stops and a short t between fricatives. This is not phonemic, or represented in writing.
  • A velar adjecent to an uvular assimilates into an uvular. The resulting geminate gets resolved as other geminates would.


Qalaq has dynamic stress that can be placed on any syllable in a word and is often used to distinguish forms of a word or different words. A single word may hold only one stress, but additional stress may be added to the first syllable in words longer than five syllables to aid articulation. An accent on the final syllable is most common in nouns and adjectives, as many case endings pull the accent onto themselves. Stress elongates the stressed vowel slightly, but does not change vowel quality. The stressed syllable is here written by adding an accent onto the vowel as in é.


Gender Cases Numbers Tenses Persons Moods Voices Aspects
Verb Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nouns Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
Adjectives Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
Numbers No Yes No No No No No No
Participles No Yes No No No No No No
Adverb No No No No No No No No
Pronouns Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Adpositions No No No No Yes No No No
Article No No No No No No No No
Particle No No No No No No No No

Word Order[]

As Classical Qalaq is a highly inflected language, word order is fairly free and often the topic of a sentence is pushed to the front. However, neutral word order of main constituents in both main and relative clauses is VSO. Noun phrases and verb phrases on the other hand are fairly precisely defined when it comes to word order and, albeit changing the word order is tolerated in verse, it sounds extremely unnatural in speech and prose.

Verb phrase word order is as follows:

Question part. Negation part. Prefixal object pronoun VERB Postposition Interrogative pronoun Adverb/Adverbial phrase

Noun phrase word order is as follows:

Apposition NOUN Number Demonstrative Pronoun Postposition Adjective/Attributive phrase

Adjectives/Attributes and Adverbs also have neutral orders and, should.the order be changed, the Adjective/Attribute or Adverb pushed to the front is considered to be topicalized.

The order is as follows:

  • Color
  • Size/Intensity
  • Age/Time
  • Impression (Beauty, Charisma, Glamour, Goodness)
  • Instrument (with a x)
  • Company (as well as xwith the help of x)

Verb Morphology[]

Qalaq verbs change in accordance with grammatical person, aspect, mood, tense, voice, number and, to a degree, gender. Tenses are henceforth named simply according to these categories, i.e. Tense Mood Voice Aspect.

There are three grammatical persons, that express the same meaning as they do in Latin or the Slavic languages, i.e. the verb form expresses whether the subject of a verb is the speaker, the one spoken to or a third party.

There are two aspects: imperfective and perfective. The imperfective aspect expresses that an action is continuous or still in progress or, in very few cases, that it is complete but influences current events or actions strongly. The perfective aspect expresses that an action is either complete, short, or a fact independent of duration of time as observed by the speaker. It is also used for all manners of general statements.

Qalaq has five moods, which express the speakers attitude towards the information being given. Indicative is the neutral mood, used for statements and observations. Subjunctive is a verb form expressing that the action the verb entails is dependent on a condition. It is usually the form of a verb in a relative clause, but is also used with modal verbs. Inferential is a mood used to convey that the speaker is not certain that the information he is expressing is true. It usually means that the speaker has heard the information from someone else, concluded it recently or doubts it, despite having seen it. It is sometimes used simply to express surprise. Imperative functions, much like in English, as a direct command. It only has I and II person forms. Jussive expresses a hope, desire or request. It is used extremely rarely, as the same meaning can be conveyed using modal verbs, but it remains in some fixed expressions and particularly old folk tales.

Qalaq has two voices: active and passive. They function much like in English, though both are synthetic. Active expresses that the subject of the verb is also the agent, whereas passive expresses that the subject is the patient of the verb.

Qalaq verbs have singular and plural. The plural agrees syntactically with both the plural and the absolute plural in nouns.

Finally, verbs occassionally express gender, both grammatical and biological, though this is not seen consistently and verbs retain this distinction mostly in third person only.

Most verb flexion consists of adding affixes, mostly vowel only infixes, into a verb root, consisting of two to four consonants. Verbs are accordingly separated into three categories: 2, 3 and 4, according to the number of consonants and their flexion differs somewhat, though it is very similar. 3-roots are the most common and make up over 60% of all verb roots in Qalaq, but a few often used verbs (most modal verbs) belong to the 2 and 4 categories.

The following is a table of all Tense Aspect Mood Voice combinations in Qalaq. All are synthetic.

MOOD Indicative Subjunctive Inferential Imperative Jussive
ASPECT Imperfective Perfective Imperfective Perfective Imperfective Perfective
Active Nonperfect NIMA NIPA NSMA NSPA NInMA NInPA Imperative Jussive


4-roots are actually causatives of 3-roots, as there are no pure verb roots greater than 3 consonants. Causatives in Qalaq are created quite simply by adding -q to a verb root. When -q is added to a 2-root, the resulting causative is conjugated as a normal 3-root. When the same is done to a 3-root, the resulting causative is conjugated as a 4-root. A great number of causatives have become quite common whereas their original roots fell into disuse. For this reason, it is not possible to find a pure verb root in Qalaq for every 4-root, but, as causative creation is simple, one can easily infer what the original verb meant and looked like.

Causatives express the meaning of: if a verb means to x, then the causative means to cause smn. to x.

0 Consonant[]

At an earlier stage, proto-Qalaq had the glottal stop ('ʔ') as a phoneme which was quite common word initially. Due to it disappearing from Qalaq phonology, there is a small number of Qalaq verbs containing the 0 consonant. It is in fact an absent consonant in the place where the glottal stop was, which causes the verb to conjugate as if it had an extra consonant in the root. e.g. 0-qto speak, to talk NIMA = 0éq > éq.

In such words, some unusual and irregular vowel sandhi occurs:

  • V1+V1=V1
  • V+i=Vj
  • V+u=Vw
  • a+e=e
  • a+o=o

Agglutinative vs. Flective Tenses[]

Even though it is a misnomer, Qalaq tenses are often divided into Agglutinative Tenses and Flective Tenses. Flective Tenses include all Nonperfect Active Tenses and the Imperative, whereas all others belong to the Agglutinative Tenses group, the difference being that, in Flective Tenses, the verbs conjugate by adding separate infixes into the root for every grammatical person-number combination, whereas Agglutinative Tenses form a tense root from the verb root using various infixes and add only prefixes and suffixes to the tense root in order to express these grammatical categories.

Nonperfect Indicative Imperfective Active (NIMA)[]

Roughly the equivalent of English present continuous, NIMA states an action occurring in the present, which is likely to continue in the near future and is not a general fact or state of affairs. It is often used as to express future, as it has somewhat easier flexion and shorter forms than the alternatives.

In NIMA, gender is only seen in third person singular and plural, where m stands for masculine, f for feminine and n for neutral. The verb does not consistently agree with the subject when it comes to gender, as the neutral form can be used for any gender, both physical and grammatical, and the masculine and feminine forms are mostly used when being excessively polite or suggesting that the gender of the subject is important.

For 3-roots, the flexion goes as follows, illustrated with the root s-m-kk, meaning to walk.

3root NIMA
NIMA affix s-m-k - to walk
p  1  2 s
sg I a é sa.mék
II i ʃmík
III m a á a a.sá.mak
f a é i a.sé.mik
n a á as.mák
pl I á a sám.ka
II u é ʃmu.ké
III m i á is.mák
f e é es.mék
n e í sem.kí

For 2-roots, the flexion goes as follows, illustrated with the root sh-b, meaning to please.

2root NIMA
NIMA affix ʃ-b - to please
p i s
sg I é ʃéb
II í ʃíb
III m a á a.ʃáb
f a é a.ʃéb
n á áʃb
pl I á a ʃá.ba
II u é ʃu.bé
III m í a í.ʃab
f e é e.ʃéb
n e í ʃe.bí

 For 4-roots, the flexion goes as follows, illustrated with the root g-n-g-q, meaning to cause to be neccessary.

4root NIMA
NIMA affix g-n-g-q - to cause to be neccesary
p 1 2 3 s
sg I a é gaŋg.géq
II a í gaŋg.gíq
III m a á a ga.ná.gaq
f a é i ga.né.giq
n a á gaŋg.gáq
pl I á a gná.gaq
II u é gnu.géq
III m i á gi.náq
f e é ge.néq
n e í ge.níq

Nonperfect Indicative Perfective Active (NIPA)[]

Roughly the equivalent of English present simple, NIPA states a general state of affairs, a fact of the world or a cyclical, constantly repeating action.

Similar to NIMA, grammatical gender is rarely observed in NIPA and the neutral form is most often used with any subject.

 For 3-roots, the flexion goes as follows, illustrated with the root s-m-kk, meaning to walk.

3root NIPA
NIPA affix s-m-k - to walk
p 1 2 s
sg I á e sá
II a á sa.mák
III m i ú is.múk
f i é is.mék
n i á is.mák
pl I ja áw jas.máwk
II ja jas.mják
III m ja ú jas.múk
f ja é jas.mék
n ja á jas.mák

 For 2-roots, the flexion goes as follows, illustrated with the root sh-b, meaning to please.

2root NIPA
NIPA affix ʃ-b - to please
p i s
sg I á e ʃá.be
II a á ʃa.bá
III m i ú i.ʃúb
f i é i.ʃéb
n i á i.ʃáb
pl I ja áw ja.ʃáwb
II ja ja.ʃjáb
III m ja ú ja.ʃúb
f ja é ja.ʃéb
n ja á ja.ʃáb

 For 4-roots, the flexion goes as follows, illustrated with the root g-n-g-q, meaning to cause to be neccessary.

4root NIPA
NIPA affix g-n-g-q - to cause to be neccessary
p 1 2 3 s
sg I á e gná.geq
II a á gna.gáq
III m i ú giŋg.gúq
f i é giŋg.géq
n i á giŋg.gáq
pl I ja áw a gja.náw.gaq
II ja a gja.njá.gaq
III m ja ú a gja.nú.gaq
f ja é a gja.né.gaq
n ja á a gja.ná.gaq

Noun Morphology[]

Qalaq nouns and adjectives change in accordance with grammatical number, gender and case.

Qalaq has nine cases: Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive, Ablative, Allative, Perlative, Comitative, Causative. They communicate roughly the following noun functions in a sentence. A noun in N tends to be the subject of a transitive or intransitive verb, while a noun in A tends to be a direct object of a transitive verb. D represents an indirect object and is used for little else. indicated possession or source, but not reason or cause. Ab represents the beginning point of movement, a concept off of which other concepts, usually the subject, break off, or the cause or justification for an action. Al represents the goal of movement, a result of accumulation of other concepts, or the result of an action, expected or observed. P is used to indicate movement through or by, but also, metaphorically, for an instrument or condition needed to fulfill and action. Co is used to indicate the company in which an action is done, but also, rarely, to describe thoughts more precisely. As I am not sure whether this is clear, an example would be, should one describe a feeling of envy with a touch of anger, one would express it with the NP: envy-anger-Co. Finally, Ca represents the direct cause of an action or event. Ca and Ab merged into Ab and Al and D into D in the modern spoken Qalaq varieties, but they are still included here, as they are present in some traditional texts.

There are four grammatical genders: masculine human, shown as m, feminine human, shown as f, concrete nonhuman, shown as c and abstract nonhuman, shown as a. The name of the genders is fairly informative as to what nouns they usually apply to, albeit there are some counter-intuitive exceptions, particularly when it comes to domesticated animals and certain concrete concepts viewed as abstract. Adjectives agree with the noun in case, gender and number and their flexion includes paradigms for all these forms. Each gender has only one declension and all nouns of the same gender are inflected the same way. There are, however, small groups of irregular nouns in all four genders that have unpredictable paradigms, as well as several nouns with flexion according to one gender, but that request agreement according to another. These exceptions are covered later, beneath regular flexion.

Nouns and adjectives are also inflected for number. Qalaq has three grammatical numbers: singular (sg), plural (pl) and absolute plural (ap). Their meaning can be illustrated as man-men-all men. In quick speech, nouns are, when number is not important for understanding the sentence, always presented in their singular form. While, ideally, the verb and subject agree in number, it is often expressed through the verb only, whereas the subject noun is usually in singular unless one wants to emphasize that one is reffering to more than one or all. Nouns in ap take verbs in pl, but, as was explained, this is not strictly adhered to in speech.

Most noun roots are in the form of any number of syllables followed by an incomplete syllable to allow for vowel infixes, a common feature of declensions in Qalaq. The stress is on the affixes in all regular nouns, so the root is always unstressed and inflected forms have the stress on the ultimate or penultimate syllable. Irregular nouns are not as predictable and may have stress on any syllable in any form.

There is a small number of nouns which are non-gendered, in that they can agree with an adjective in any gender, regardless of their own paradigm. They are covered in the irregular section.

Regular Noun Declension[]

Regular m declension goes as follows, as illustrated by the noun kawt-l meaning husband.

Masculine Human
sg pl ap
N ú kaw.túl ja árn kaw.tja.lárn ú ʒi kaw.túl.ʒi
A á kaw.tál á arn kaw.tá.larn á ʒi kaw.tál.ʒi
D e é kaw.te.lé é arn kaw.té.larn é ʒí kaw.tél.ʒi
Al é e kaw.té.le
Ab á e kaw.tá.le ó arn kaw.tó.larn áw ʒi kaw.táwl.ʒi
Ca áw ar kaw.táw.lar
G í kaw.tíl i árn kaw.ti.lárn í ʒi kaw.tíl.ʒi
P i ír kaw.ti.lír éj arn kaw.téj.larn áj ʒi kaw.tájl.ʒi
Co o áɣáɣ u ú kaw.tu.lú ó ʒi kaw.tól.ʒi
kawt-l [m] - husband

Regular f declension goes as follows, as illustrated by the noun b-t meaning girl.

Feminine Human
sg pl ap
N é bétt a á ba.tá á zhi bát.zhi
A á bátt
D i é bi.té e é be.té é zhí bét.zhi
Al í e bí.te
Ab aj á baj.tá ó aw bó.taw áw zhi báwt.zhi
Ca aw ár baw.tár
G í bítt i ár bi.tár í zhi bít.zhi
P i ínj bi.tínj ej ár bej.tár áj zhi bájt.zhi
Co aw ákh baw.tákh u ú bu.túr ó zhi bót.zhi
b-t [f] - girl

Regular c declension goes as follows, as illustrated by the noun fl-n meaning piece of clothing.

Concrete Nonhuman
sg pl ap
N á flán e áwl fle.náwl á zhi flán.zhi
D é flén a áwl fla.náwl é zhí flén.zhi
Al e é fle.né
Ab á e flá.ne o áwl flo.náwl áw zhi fláwn.zhi
Ca áw ar fláw.nar
G í flín í awl flí.nawl í zhi flín.zhi
P i ídz fli.nízh áj awl fláj.nawl áj zhi fláj.zhi
Co o ágh flo.nágh ú awl flú.nawl ó zhi flón.zhi
fl-n [c] - piece of clothing

Regular a declension goes as follows, as illustrated by the noun b-m meaning loveNote that nouns of the a gender do not have any form of plural.

Abstract Nonhuman
N áj bájm
A í bím
D éj béjm
Al ej é bej.mé
Ab éj e béj,me
Ca áj ar báj.mar
G íj bíjm
P i ídh bi.mídh
Co o ágh bo.mágh
b-m [a] - love

Gender of Borrowings[]

 Qalaq has, over a period of many years, borrowed many words from both Tuareg languages and Arabic. However, inexplicably, all borrowings, regardless of their biological gender are of the c grammatical gender, leading to some ridiculous combinations. For example, zawzh-kk, an Arabic borrowing meaning wife, is of the Concrete Nonhuman gender, as well as mell-n, a Tuareg borrowing meaning foreigner.

Regular Adjective Declension[]

Qalaq adjective declension is, for the most part, analogous to the noun declension. Adjectives change gender, case and number to agree with the noun they refer to by taking the same infixes as nouns in regular declension. However, in adjective declension, all suffixes are dropped when an adjective has attributive meaning (e.g. q-lgood, fine, beautiful >

If an adjective takes suffixes, its meaning changes to something equivalent to definitive article + adjective in English (e.g. qilé = the beautiful (one)).

Adjective Comparation[]

Qalaq adjectives have three main forms when it comes to comparation: equativepositivecomparative and superlativePositive is the neutral form and the one cited in the dictionary, and is equal to the adjective root. Comparativesuperlative and equative are created by adding affixes to the positive form. If positive carries the meaning of the property x, then comparative carries the meaning of more xsuperlative most x and equative as x as. Both equative and comparative take a noun in D to complete the comparison.

This is the flexion for an adjective, demonstrated using the adjective q-l meaning good, fine.

Positive Comparative Superlative Equative
- -a- -dzh igh- -a- -dzh -e- -m
q-l qal-dzh ighqal-dzh qel-m

Adverb Derivation[]

All Qalaq adverbs are derived from adjective roots. While adverbs are indeclinabile, they as well have positiveequativecomparative and superlative forms. All adverbs are derived from adjective roots in the same way and all adverb comparation is the same and follows the following pattern, demonstrated by the adjective q-l meaning good and the derived adverb qaláth meaning well.

Adverb Derivation
Adjective Adverb
Positive Comparative Superlative Equative
- -a- -áth -á- -adh igh- -á- -edh -aj- -ám
q-l qaláth qáladh ighqáledh qajlám


  • There is an additional form for all nouns and adjectives created by an -a- infix that is only used in compounds, but, as compounding is not productive in modern Qalaq, it is not included in the paradigms. It is, however, noticeable in many remaining word roots that were originally compounds. In classical Qalaq, compounding was also rarely used and it is possible that already at that point it had no longer been a productive feature of the language.


Qalaq has three main groups of pronouns: demonstrative, personal and reflexive. While personal and reflexive have declensions similar in scope to noun declensions, but with unpredictable affixes, demonstrative declension is the same as regular c declension when standing on their own, and agree with a noun if they refer to one. Both personal and demonstrative pronouns are used as interrogative pronouns when used in the VP alongside the question particle.

Personal Pronoun Declension[]

Qalaq personal pronouns show gender in all grammatical persons, however in the I and II person, the gender coincides with one's biological gender, and only in III person must a pronoun agree with one's grammatical gender. When a group is of mixed biological or grammatical gender or the gender is irrelevant, one uses the neutral form of the plural or absolute plural. The neutral gender in II person singular existed before, used to refer to a person about whose gender one avoids making assumptions, but is now only used in fixed expressions concerning introductions.

Qalaq is a pro-drop language and N personal pronouns are almost always left out and only spoken when the subject has to be topicalized. Even then, it is more common to use a noun to topicalize the subject, even in I person, one usually uses one's own name.

Pronouns in accusative and genitive cannot stand alone. The accusative is added as a prefix to a verb, whereas the genitive, when it describes possession (e.g. Phil's pet = his pet), is added as a suffix to a noun and when it expresses source or belonging (e.g. Phil of America = its Phil) is added as a prefix to a noun. To ease reading, I will separate the pronouns from the noun and verb with a dash (-).

Even in Classical Qalaq, many PP forms have merged, which continued in Modern Qalaq and is even seen in some Classic Qalaq tales. One of the most important mergers which is often seen is the taking over of the masculine pronouns over neutral pronouns as the neutral gender.

Personal Pronouns
N A D Al Ab Ca G P Co
sg I m am- ba.é bi bír báwgh
f báj bínj bákh
II m adh- dáj di dír dáwgh
f tháj dínj dákh
III m chú adzh- ché cha.é dzhi chír cháwgh
f ché chí cháj chínj chákh
c cháw chá.ngu chém chíng chásh
a chám
pl I m mjá an- mi márn
f már
n mnár mnú
II m ttjá att- tté ttó tti ttárn ttú
f ttá ttár
n antt- nár
III m kkjá akk- kké kkó kki kkárn kkú
f kká kkár
c kkéwl kkáwl kkówl kkáj
a - - - - - - - - -
n ngá ang- ngé ngó kki ngár ngú
ap I m zhi.mjá zhi.mé zhi.mó zhi.mi zhi.márn zhi.mú
f zhi.má zhi.már
n zhi.mnár zhi.mnú
II m ttjá zhi.att- zhi.tté zhi.ttó zhi.tti zhi.ttárn zhi.ttú
f ttá zhi.ttár
n zhi.antt- zhi.né zhi.nó zhi.nár zhi.nú
III m zhi.kkjá zhi.akk- zhi.kké zhi.kkó zhi.kki zhi.kkárn zhi.kkú
f zhi.kká zhi.kkár
c zhi.kkéwl zhi.kkáwl zhi.kkówl zhi.kkáj
a - - - - - - - - -
n zhi.ngá zhi.ang- zhi.ngé zhi.ngó zhi.kki zhi.ngár zhi.ngú

Demonstrative Pronouns[]

Qalaq demonstrative pronouns have Proximal, Medial, Distal and Existential forms. The meaning is easly illustrated by the constrast of here, there, yonder, somewhere in English. Qalaq does not differentiate between Assertive and Elective Existential forms, that is, one uses an Existential Demonstrative both where one would use some and any in English. Universal, Interrogative and Negative forms are formed by placing the UniversalInterrogative and Negative Particle respectively before an Existential Demonstrative, and are equivalent to the English everywherewhere and nowhere respectively, when following the earlier analogy.

All Demonstratives can either be a part of the NP or VP or standalone heads, the difference being only the position in the phrase and whether the Demonstrative agrees in case and number with the Noun. When they stand alone, Demonstratives are c.

The Medial and Distal Temporal Demonstratives have come over time to mean later and earlier respectively, and are used in this way in most texts, despite a more predictable meaning in earlier language forms.

Proximal Medial Distal Existential
Location man-kk
Object/Person mawn-qh
this one
that one
that one yonder
Time mir-q
then (later)
then (earlier)
Manner mol-b
this way
that way
that other way
in some manner
Quantity mawr-n
this many

that many


that other amount



Reason mair-kk
as caused by this
as caused by that
as caused by that other thing
as caused by anything


It is likely that Qalaq originally had a counting system based on 7, even though both Modern and Classical Qalaq are adapted to a decimal system, much like most European languages. However, only numbers 1 through 6 seem to be originally Qalaq, whereas numbers 7 through 10 are borrowed from Arabic, probably during the Islamic invasion.

When anything is counted in Qalaq, one first states the counted item in followed by a number in N. The exception is the number 1, which takes a noun in and nouns in a, which are in, though counting a nouns is rare and sounds forced. Regardless of what is counted, numbers are c when it comes to grammatical gender and sg​ when it comes to grammatical number. The grammatical function in relation to case is communicated by changing the case of the number, not the noun. e.g. ten girls = + tenN = bi.tár a.shár, whereas of ten + tenG = bi.tár a.shír. Any adjectives, attributes, pronouns etc. reffering to the noun are also in or for 1.

A number is stated by beginning with the smallest decimal unit and moving towards the greatest. e.g. English: "Fifty-two", Qalaq: mákk a.chákk a.shár lit. two five ten. In Classical, every order of magnitude is stated, that is fifty=five ten, five hundred and two = two five hundred, but in both the Modern variety and a few younger tales, numbers are formed simply by speaking the value of every order of magnitude, with the pronoun for nothing representing a zero, so fifty=nothing five, five hundred and two = two nothing five. The actual spoken orders of magnitude have mostly become fixed expressions relating greatness, such as mja.wíkk mja.wákklit. a hundred hundreds, carrying similar meaning to the english myriad and used as an attributive phrase rather than a number. 

No Qalaq Arabic


agg-r waahed
2 m-kk athnaan
3 r-l thalaathah
4 awdz-kk aarba'ah
5 ach-kk khamsah
6 ej-kk setah
7 sab-kk sab'ah
8 thaman-j thamaaneeeah
9 tish-kk tes'ah
10 ash-r 'ashrah
100 mjaw-kk mea'ah


As the use of particles in Qalaq is extensive and has been explained in many instances before, here they are only listed.[]

Interrogative ba ?
Negative she no
Universal qin all

Classical vs. Modern

There are several differences between Classical Qalaq, the language in which most Qalaq folktales are recited in, and Modern Qalaq, the language used in everyday communication. The language described here is closer to Classical than to Modern Qalaq. Some developments in Modern Qalaq include the almost complete dissappearance of number from both verb and noun paradigms, with a few plural and absolute plural forms remaining in fixed expressions, the simplification of the case system to varying degrees depending on the tribe, the greatest number of cases being 7 (Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive, Ablative, Perlative, Comitiative) and the smallest 3 (Nominative, Oblique, Genitive), simplification of the Mood system, expansion of the vowel system and, in many cases, merging of the aspirated and unaspirated voiceless consonants.

Due to very little semantic drift and largely unchanged syntax, most Modern Qalaq dialects are mutually intelligible, but are far from similar and very different to the Classical variety, though most tribes still understand spoken Classical due to oral tradition. However, in order to preserve folktales despite the changing grammar and phonology of Qalaq, many features of Classical Qalaq are thought to be exagarated in order to compensate for lack of certain qualities in Modern varieties, especially when it comes to pronunciation. Aspirated consonants, for example, are thought to have been substantially more subtly aspirated then they are today when folktales are recited, as Modern Qalaq speakers, who are unable to hear the difference between these two types of consonants, but are aware that it exists, over-aspirate the consonants to make the difference audible to other Modern Qalaq speakers. Furthermore, the e and o sounds are thought to have been substantially less varied in pronunciation, but Modern Qalaq speakers often transpose their greater vowel inventory onto classical words. Other than these few differences, linguistic analysis suggests that Classical Qalaq as it is spoken today is not far from the proto-Qalaq spoken by first Qalaq nomads who arrived in the north of Africa.


Here is the suggested basic phrases of Qalaq and english equivalents.

Some example sentences:

The following are links to pages where word roots are listed.