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Taila (Tailaluyera) is a constructed language developed as an experiment in various linguistic concepts. It was designed to be a non-tonal analytic language with a relatively simple phonemic inventory. As a fairly analytic language, it is rich in function words which can be somewhat tricky for English speakers; however, this analytic nature only applies to the grammar, while word formation can be highly synthetic. The lexicon has been influenced by many languages, most importantly English, Chinese, Tamil, Arabic, and Basque.

I would love to hear any feedback on this language in the Talk page. If you have ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns, or anything else, feel free to leave me a message there.


Taila was initially created to be an experiment into isolating/analytic languages like Chinese, Burmese, or Thai. Early grammars explored different ways to manipulate word order to express meaning, relying heavily on Asian influences in most aspects of the language: syntax, lexicon, phonology, et cetera. Eventually, however, Taila started to take on a different character in many ways. Tones were dropped, syllable structure was loosened, and word length was increased. Furthermore, the grammar took a turn toward the theoretical, marking not phrasal constituents like subject or object, but instead thematic relations like agent and patient. There are still many Asian-influenced parts of the language, such as its separation of tense, aspect, and mood or its lack of intrinsic number in most nouns. It does diverge significantly in its relative looseness of word order. Taila also shows a fair amount of agglutinative character in its formation of words.


Native English speakers should be familiar with many of the phonemes in Taila, especially most of the consonants; however, there are a few consonants and vowels that will have to be practiced and mastered.


The sounds listed in the table below are the "standard" phonemes of the language, and do not show allophones that appear in certain environments. Where sounds are in pairs, the symbol to the left is unvoiced and the one to the right is voiced.

Table of Taila Consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m [m] n [n] nj [ɲ] nh [ŋ]
Stop p [p] b [b] t [t] d [d] tj [c] dj [ɟ] k [k] g [ɡ]
Affricate ts [ts] dz [dz] tsj [tɕ] dzj [dʑ]
Fricative f [f] v [v] s [s] z [z] sj [ɕ] zj [ʑ] h [x]
Semivowel w [w] j [j]
Trill rr [ɾ]
Tap r [ɾ]
Lateral l [l] lj [ʎ]

The palatal consonants will be the most difficult for English speakers because all except j [j] are entirely foreign.


There are five vowels which are not centralized in any syllables.

Table of Taila Vowels
Front Central Back
Close i [i] ü [y] y [ɯ] u [u]
Mid e [e] ö [ø] o [o]
Open a [ä]

The phonemes /i/ and /u/ are sometimes reduced to /j/ and /w/ when placed between a consonant and another vowel (/bia/ becomes /bʲa/ and /lui/ becomes /lʷi/). The only true diphthongs are ai and au.


The alphabet is listed below, along with the names of each letter:

Aa Bb Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn
aja be de eja efe ge ehe ija ijetta eke le me ne
Oo Öö Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu Üü Vv Ww Yy Zz
owa öja epe ere ese ete uwa üja ve uwetta ywa ze

Certain common digraphs and trigraphs also have their own names:

Dj dj Dz dz Dzj dzj Lj lj Nh nh Nj nj Rr rr Sj sj Tj tj Ts ts Tsj tsj Zj zj
djetta dze dzjetta ljetta nhe njetta erja esjetta etjetta etse etsjetta zjetta

The last three letters from the English language that are missing in the Taila alphabet are /Cc/ esatta, /Qq/ ekatta, and /Xx/ ekse. These are only used in foreign words and names, and are fairly rare.

Basic Grammar[]

Because Taila is an analytic language, it lacks any sort of declension or conjugation like in many Western languages. In order to express number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, or anything else, separate particles must be added in the clause to indicate these.


Noun Functive Particles[]

After a noun phrase (a string of one or more nouns), a postpositional grammatical particle must be inserted to indicate the role of this phrase in the sentence. In English this is primarily done through word order (The baby ate it versus It ate the baby) and a modest amount of declension when dealing with pronouns (I vs me vs my vs mine). In Taila, the positioning of the noun phrase within the sentence is somewhat loose as long as it is properly marked for thematic role. Please note well that these particles do not show subject or object like in English, but instead agent, patient, etc.

Role Particle Translation
Oblique ja the house
Inductive su the house
Agentive on the house
Patientive tja the house
Effectuative mön the house
Affective han the house
Directive zjy to the house
Originative nhen from the house
Locative ve at/in/on the house
Vialis won by way of the house
Instrumental lüt using the house
Temporal ain while/during the house
Causal duly because of the house
Beneficial nju for the sake of the house
Comitative göu with/alongside the house
Comparative taz than/as the house

The first six particles are collectively known as the "core" particles and must be fully understood before any sentences can be formed in Taila. As already mentioned, these particles do not show subject or object; instead, they indicate thematic role. In the English sentence "Erika was pushed by Jesse", Erika may be the subject of the sentence but Jesse is the one doing the pushing, and thus would be labeled the agent. Erika is simply the receiver of the action, so she is known as the patient. Because the core is somewhat difficult to understand for English speakers, each particle will be discussed separately.

Oblique particle. This is close to a "neutral" particle and provides the least amount of information as to the noun phrase's role in the sentence. It is often used with very simple intransitive phrases and in the place of copular statements. The thematic role it describes is content or theme. I gave her the book. He likes cereal. The tree is tall. Some verbs only take nouns in the oblique as their subject. In colloquial speech, this particle can sometimes be dropped.

Inductive particle. When the agent and the patient of an action are identical, the inductive particle is used to indicate this relationship. You jumped. They danced to the song. In simple inductive intransitive statements, this particle can be replaced with the oblique particle to emphasize the action itself over the inductor when speaking colloquially.

Agentive particle. An agent is the willful initiator of an action affecting another party (typically the patient). Often this is equivalent to the subject of an active sentence or the object of a passive sentence in English. We pushed them. The mailman was bit by the dog.

Patientive particle. A patient is the recipient or experiencer of an action initiated by another party (typically the agent), and undergoes a change of state due to this action. Often this is equivalent to the object of an active sentence or the subject of a passive sentence in English. We pushed them. The mailman was bit by the dog. The bird fell from the sky. Notice the lack of an agent in the last example sentence.

Effectuative particle. The effectuative particle shows the enabler of an action that causes a chain of events, ultimately resulting in the final stated action. Taking the sentence The man emptied the water from the tub, if the man is placed in the effectuative then it means he caused the tub to be emptied (probably by pulling the drain plug); if the man is placed in the agentive then it means he is actively removing water from the tub (possibly by pouring it out somehow).

Affective particle. This particle indicates a passive experiencer of an involuntary action. Typically it is used with the senses, emotional states, and bodily functions. The child coughs. The loud noise startled her. He was very upset.

Choosing to use different thematic particles can completely change the way the sentence is translated into English. Often, this change is reflected in the verb used. For example, gödza is a verb indicating an act of sight, and the "standard" way to use this verb is:

  • Konsa han gödza anul (ja).
    Man–AFFECTIVE see book–OBLIQUE.
    The man sees the book.

However, by toying with the thematic role of each of these nouns, different nuances can be described:

  • Konsa su gödza anul (ja).
    Man–INDUCTIVE see book–OBLIQUE.
    Idiom.The man reads the book.
  • Konsa on anul tja gödza.
    The man watches/inspects the book.
  • Konsa su gödza.
    Man–INDUCTIVE see.
    The man looks (around).
  • Konsa mön sinsa han gödza anul (ja).
    The man causes the woman to see the book. (He shows her the book).
  • Anul ja gödza.
    Book–OBLIQUE see.
    The book is seen.

The remaining particles are called the "periphery", and their use is fairly straightforward.

Noun Possessive Particles[]

English possessives are quite ambiguous in many instances. If someone hears "Mark's jacket", they cannot know for sure the exact way that Mark relates to the jacket. Is this a jacket that he's currently wearing? Is it a jacket he bought? Is it one he personally designed? The possessive "Mark's" can indicate all of these things in English. In Taila, however, there are ways to distinguish some of these meanings from one another.

Type Particle
Possessive se
Relative djun
Genitive rai

The possessive particle (se) is the most common of these four, and can be used in many situations. Typically, it refers to more temporary possession and does not indicate ownership. "Konsa se anul" (the man's book) may refer to a book that he's currently holding or reading, but does not show that he owns the book or that he authored it. The relative particle (djun) indicates that the "possessor" has somehow influenced the "possessed"—although using this terminology may be a little misleading because no ownership is implied. "Konsa djun anul" (the man's book) may refer to a book that he wrote or edited or simply has a connection to, but it does not show that he is reading it or holding it. The genitive particle (rai) is the particle that shows ownership, and it only shows ownership, nothing more. "Konsa rai anul" (the man's book) only indicates that it belongs to him.

Certain kinds of possessions, typically things intrinsic to the possessor that cannot be separated from him/her, do not need any sort of possessive particle. In order to say "the man's father", "konsa se baba", "konsa djun baba", and "konsa rai baba" are all incorrect because someone's father is an inalienable possession; in this case, "konsa baba" is sufficient.

Numeral Classifiers[]

Taila, like many East Asian languages, makes extensive use of numeral classifiers to quantify countable nouns. A similar phenomenon is seen in English with words like rice. It doesn't make sense to say a rice; a countable quantifier must be inserted: for example, a grain of rice. The word grain in this sentence is acting as a measure word. In Taila, a classifier is required whenever any noun is being assigned a number. In order to say "one rabbit", the phrase tonsai lai (rabbit one) is incorrect. The measure word appropriate for animals, lanu, must be used, making it tonsai lai lanu (rabbit one-ANIMAL). Sometimes nouns are used with their classifier in the absence of a number when talking generally; for example, tonsai lanu means "rabbits (in general)". Classifiers are also commonly used with demonstratives, which will be covered in the section below on demonstrative pronouns.

In order to further illustrate how classifiers are used, here is an example using the noun konsa (man) and its classifier min:

Taila Gloss English
konsa man man
konsa min man PERSON men (in general)
konsa lai min man one PERSON one man
konsa sen min man two PERSON two men
konsa 30 min man thirty PERSON thirty men

Sometimes classifiers can be used alone when the context is clear. For example, "How many men are coming?" "Sen min" (Two). Other classifiers are almost always used alone, especially measurement classifiers; for example, "lai unte" (one year) and "sen kilometer" (two kilometers). Even these, though, are sometimes used with the appropriate noun: "vadzjam lai unte" (one year of time) and "dülje sen kilometer" (two kilometers of distance).


Personal Pronouns[]

There are two sets of personal pronouns that can be used in Taila which differ in formality. The formal pronouns are typically used in business settings, between strangers, when talking to large groups, and in most everyday situations. The familiar pronouns are used among close friends and family. Notice that there is a distinction made between inclusive and exclusive first person pronouns. English does not make this distinction in its pronouns, but it is fairly easy to learn. Exclusive pronouns can be thought of as "us WITHOUT you", and inclusive pronouns can be thought of as "us ALONG WITH you".

Formal Pronouns
  Bare Singular Paucal Collective
1st Person exclusive hoi hoi li hoi do hoi gu
inclusive honi honi do honi gu
2nd Person nun nun li nun do nun gu
3rd Person ta ta li ta do ta gu

The bare form is the most common and it leaves number to be inferred from context. Often it indicates a singular or generic meaning, and when it is important to know further information about the specific number, quantifying particles can be added such as li and do and gu. The paucal particle do shows a few of something—generally no more than a handful. The collective particle is used when referring to a large group of something, especially when working together as a cohesive unit.

Familiar Pronouns
  Bare Singular Paucal Collective
1st Person exclusive sja sja li sja do sja gu
inclusive sjane sjane do sjane gu
2nd Person ne ne li ne do ne gu
3rd Person ki ki li ki do ki gu

These pronouns should not be used in more formal situations because their use can be seen as overly familiar and unwarrated, sometimes even rude. Also worth noting is that siane can be written as two words, sia ne.

In highly formal situations, there is another pronoun that is used, üden. This pronoun is always paired with a demonstrative pronoun, and can refer to any of the three persons. Üden ni can mean "I/we", üden da can mean "you", and üden jo can mean "he/she/it/they".

Demonstrative Pronouns[]

English has a two-way distinction in demonstratives, but Taila makes a three-way distinction: proximal (this), medial (that), and distal (yonder). The base demonstrative pronouns are listed below. When these pronouns are being used as determiners, they should normally be placed immediately after an appropriate classifier. As an example, the noun ozain "house" is used along with its classifier sodo.

As a Pronoun As a Determiner Translation
Proximal ni ozain sodo ni this house (near me)
Medial da ozain sodo da that house (near you)
Distal jo ozain sodo jo yonder house (away from us)

Relative Pronouns[]

English has many relative pronouns, but Taila doesn't use them at all. Instead, the particles an and dze are used to form subordinate clauses. For example, a gloss of "the man who likes Mary" would look like "man an likes Mary dze", and "the man whom Mary likes" would look like "man an Mary likes dze". There is another way to form subordinate clauses, which is by compounding, but this will be covered later.

Interrogative Pronouns[]

The only relative pronouns in Taila are: seya ("what?") and kamy ("which?"). The difference between these two lies in the nature of the objects they are describing. If it is an open set (ie, there are an indefinite number of options), then the pronoun seja is appropriate; for example, "What is your name?" would use seya because there isn't a limit to the number of names you can have. On the other hand, if it is a closed set (ie, there is a definite number of options), then use kamy; for example, imagine a teacher asking "Which students are absent?" because there are a limited number of students in the class. With only these two interrogative pronouns, in order to fulfill the roles of English interrogative pronouns like "where?" or "when?", they are combined with an appropriate measure word. Here are a few combinations to be aware of:

Open Set (what) Closed Set (which)
(Bare) seya kamy
Who min seya min kamy
What pa seya
sodo seya
lanu seya
pa kamy
sodo kamy
lanu kamy
When tsjö seya tsjö kamy
Where dinh seya dinh kamy
Why jin seya jin kamy
How zen seya zen kamy

Adjectives and Adverbs[]

In practice, Taila makes no distinction between adjectives and adverbs. A single word like kyrip can be used to mean both "quick" and "quickly", depending on whether it happens to be modifying a noun or a verb or an adjective. This part of speech, however, does have a few things to watch out for.

First off, degrees of comparison are made by using the particles tonh "as/like", bi "more", dzü "most", and gyn "too/excessively". So, using the above example, the following can be constructed:

Taila English Example Phrase
Positive kyrip quick konsa kyrip
the quick man
Equative kyrip tonh as quick konsa taz kyrip tonh
as quick as the man
Comparative kyrip bi quicker konsa taz kyrip bi
quicker than the man
Superlative kyrip dzü quickest konsa taz kyrip dzü
quickest of the men
Excessive kyrip gyn too quick konsa kyrip gyn
the man that's too quick

Second, when modifying a noun, adjectives normally follow the word they modify, but they can also be combined with the noun. In this case, the adjective appears before the noun, often with the infix -e- separating the two. This construction changes the restrictiveness of the adjective: from unspecified to restrictive. Again, English does not typically make this distinction. A non-restrictive adjective describes the noun without limiting its scope, whereas a restrictive adjective in addition to describing the noun also limits its scope. For example, the expression "the black pen" can refer to a pen which happens to be black, or it can point to a black pen as opposed to a pen of any other color. The former case is non-restrictive because it simply describes, and the latter is restrictive because it also separates this particular pen from others. Thus, in Taila, the expression konsa kyrip "the quick man" can be restrictive or non-restrictive, but kyripekonsa can only be restrictive.

Lastly, some words can only be used as either an adjective or an adverb, but these are typically fairly obvious because trying to use it in the other sense doesn't make sense. For example, nahüt "often" can only be used as an adverb.


The main negating particle is si "not", which can be used to negate adjectives and verbs and many other particles. Thus, zuntja "to go" corresponds to zuntja si "to not go". The other important polarity particles are masi and mai. The first, masi, is used to negate nouns and pronouns. The second, mai, is invertive, meaning it fulfills the same function as the English prefixes "un-", "anti-", "a-", etc. It can also be used as a stronger alternative to si. So: anom "tasty" > anom si "not tasty" > anom mai "absolutely not tasty" or "anti-tasty" or "gross". The invertive particle can also be used with certain verbs to indicate the undoing of the verb (galdön "to build" > galdön ma "to un-build/destroy"); however, this is normally shown by compounding, which will be discussed later.


The numbers in Taila are fairly simple, and just amount to addition and multiplication.

Numeral Word   Numeral Word   Numeral Word
0 zero (ze)   20 sen-nhua   100 rod
1 lai   21 sen-nhua-lai   101 rod-ze-lai
2 sen   22 sen-nhua-sen   102 rod-ze-sen
3 mau   23 sen-nhua-mau   110 rod-nhua
4 vöt   24 sen-nhua-vöt   111 rod-nhua-lai
5 byn   25 sen-nhua-byn   120 rod-sen-nhua
6 dju   30 mau-nhua   121 rod-sen-nhua-lai
7 nüs   31 mau-nhua-lai   200 sen-rod
8 wal   40 vöt-nhua   201 sen-rod-lai
9 hin   41 vöt-nhua-lai   210 sen-rod-nhua
10 nhua   50 byn-nhua   300 mau-rod
11 nhua-lai   51 byn-nhua-lai   500 byn-rod
12 nhua-sen   60 dju-nhua   800 wal-rod
13 nhua-mau   61 dju-nhua-lai   1000 hav
14 nhua-vöt   70 nüs-nhua   1001 hav-ze-lai
15 nhua-byn   71 nüs-nhua-lai   1010 hav-ze-nhua
16 nhua-dju   80 wal-nhua   2000 sen-hav
17 nhua-nüs   81 wal-nhua-lai   10,000 nhua-hav
18 nhua-wal   90 hin-nhua   100,000 rod-hav
19 nhua-hin   91 hin-nhua-lai   1,000,000 miljon

Using this method, number names can get very long (654,321 is dju-rod-byn-nhua-vöt-hav-mau-rod-sen-nhua-lai). Often above 1000, the numbers are just read in order, so 654,321 becomes dju-bun-ved-mau-sen-lai or dju-bun-ved-hav-mau sen-lai and 50,403 is byn-ze-vöt-ze-mau or byn-ze-hav-vöt-ze-mau.

Ordinal numbers are easy to form. They are simply their cardinal counterpart preceded by the ordinating particle dai. So, "the first rabbit" is translated to tonsai dai lai lanu, and "the 27th rabbit" is tonsai dai sen-nhua-nüs lanu.


In many languages, verbs are of two types: transitive and intransitive. However, in Taila, the transitivity of a verb depends on the number and type of nouns used in conjunction with it. The main distinction made among verbs is between verbs and auxiliaries, which can only be used in conjunction with "proper" verbs. This is very similar to the English conception of helper verbs, except the category is must broader. For example, the auxiliaries pal- and gut- can be combined with the verb zuntja "to go" to make the compound verbs palzuntja "to enter" and gutzuntja "to exit".

Another aspect of verbs that can be unusual for speakers of Western languages is the lack of conjugation. Tense, polarity, aspect, mood, and other verbal qualities are all expressed through the use of separate particles. Each quality will be discussed below.

Verbal Qualities[]


There are three commonly used tenses: present, past, and future. Each of these tenses has a dedicated particle which is generally placed immediately before the verb, but tenses behave differently than in English. In English, every verb must be conjugated for the proper tense, but in Taila, verbs do not have to be used with a tense marker. In fact, they are only used when it is important to specify the time. To this end, there is an additional marker habu that can be used to express remoteness.

Tense Example Translation
Remote Past Hoi han du habu gödza. A long time ago, I saw.
Past Hoi han du gödza. I saw.
Present Hoi han (nja) gödza. I see.
Future Hoi han tjum gödza. I will see.
Remote Future Hoi han tjum habu gödza. In quite a while, I will see.

The tense particles can be negated to form the nonpast (du si), nonpresent (nja si), and nonfuture (tjum si) tenses.


The affirmative polarity is standard, and shows that an action is happening, but there are two other polarities: negative and invertive. In order to negate a verb, the particle si is placed after the verb: hoi han gödza "I see" becomes hoi han gödza si "I don't see". The invertive polarity particle ma is used far less commonly with verbs than with adjectives, but it indicates that the verb is being undone: hoi on galdön "I build" becomes hoi on galdön ma "I un-build/destroy".


The aspect particles are generally placed right after the verb and they describe the temporal flow of the action. There are three true aspect particles which are used to express the continuous, perfective, and habitual aspects. Further aspects can be shown using adverbs, such as: prospective, inceptive, pausative, resumptive, and cessative.

Aspect Particle Example Translation
Imperfective Ta su gödza anul ja. He reads the book.
Continuous no Ta su gödza no anul ja. He is reading the book.
Perfective bu Ta su gödza bu anul ja. He has read the book.
Habitual mai Ta su gödza mai anul ja. He (often) reads the book.

In compound sentences and highly formal speech, this particle can also be placed at the end of the sentence; for example, the perfective aspect's example sentence from above could be Ta su gödza anul ja bu or Ta su anul ja gödza bu.


The modality of a verb is separate from tense in Taila, unlike in English. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult for English speakers to settle on the proper mood to use in a phrase. The mood particle normally appears at the end of the sentence, and is considered to be separate from the verb phrase. Thus, it can even appear when the verb in a sentence is dropped or implied. This practice, however, is really only common with the interrogative particle, and is considered to be a colloquialism.

Mood Particle Example Translation
Indicative Ta su gödza anul ja. He reads the book.
Conditional wa Ta su gödza anul ja wa. He would read the book.
If he reads the book.
Optative ly Ta su gödza anul ja ly. He should read the book.
I want him to read the book.
Imperative tsji Ta su gödza anul ja tsji. He must read the book.
Tell him to read the book!
Interrogative e Ta su gödza anul ja e? Is he reading the book?
He reads books?

Notice that some moods have multiple uses. For example, the optative mood can be used as a cohortative mood, functioning as a more polite alternative to the imperative.


Illocution shows the type of speech act that you are making, which is a concept highly foreign to English speakers. An utterance can either be locutionary (act of saying something) or illocutionary (act performed by saying something). If a verb is locutionary, a distinction can also be made whether it is introducing new information or not.

Particle Example Sentence
Introductive Locutionary nei Ta su nei du gödza anul.
He read the book. (shows change of topic/focus)
Continuative Locutionary kem Ta su kem du gödza anul.
He read the book. (same topic/focus as before)
Illocutionary Ta su lü du gödza anul.
He read the book (I declare it as true!)

Because a locutionary verb is standard, use of the locutionary particles also tends to emphasize the topic/focus (first noun or pronoun) of the sentence.


The last important group of particles shows the evidentiality of the phrase; that is, the certainty of the speaker as to the validity of the sentence. If I know first-hand or for a fact that something is true, the direct evidentiality is used. If I know second-hand or I am inferring something, the indirect evidentiality is used.

Particle Example Sentence
Direct Ta su gödza bu anul ja fü.
(I am certain that) He has read the book.
Indirect gyn Ta su gödza bu anul ja gyn.
(I think/hear that) He has read the book.

Sentence Structure[]

The order of the different pieces of a sentence is fairly loose, and is actively changed to stress different parts. The first thing mentioned in the sentence is the topic, and in simple sentences oblique objects are often placed after the verb (in colloquial speech, the postposition ja can be dropped). In compound sentences, the verb normally must be the last piece of the clause in order to clearly separate the arguments of each verb in the compound. However, there are many rigid rules when forming a sentence. The generic template for a sentence is:

Topic Illocution Noun Phrases Verb Oblique Mood and
Phrase Particle Phrase Particle Phrase Particle etc. Tense Root Aspect Phrase (ja)

Not all of these positions need to be filled in order to form a complete sentence. In fact, it is rare that a phrase will have all of these at once.

As an example of the loose word order, this simple sentence, Konsa su gödza anul ja "The man reads the book", can be rerranged into the following phrases:

  • Konsa su gödza anul ja.
    man IND read book OBL
    The man reads the book.
  • Konsa su anul ja gödza. (slightly more formal)
  • Anul ja konsa su gödza. (stresses the book)
  • Anul ja gödza konsa su. (sounds awkward)
  • Gödza konsa su anul ja. (sounds awkward)
  • Gödza anul ja konsa su. (sounds awkward)

A more complex sentence would have different ways of arranging:

  • Hoi han gari konsa su deigödza sinsa tja zuidzanhy anul ja.
    I AFF want man IND get-read woman PAT give-tell book OBL
    I want the man to read a book to the woman.
  • Hoi han gari konsa su anul ja deigödza sinsa tja zuidzanhy. (slightly more formal)
  • Hoi han gari anul ja konsa su deigödza sinsa tja zuidzanhy. (stresses the book)

Copular Statements[]

There is no verb equivalent to the English verb "to be". Instead, copular statements are formed using the noun particles. The particle used is chosen based on the meaning, and then both pieces of the statements are placed side-by-side in this thematic role. For example, "The man is Bob." would be Konsa ja Bob ja. "I am at the store" would be Hoi ve liahare ve.


Word Derivation and Compounding[]

Even though Taila's grammar is fairly analytic, the methods of word formation can, at times, be highly agglutinative. Word compounding is a common way to change the nuance of meaning, and plays an important role in the language. There are a large number of morphemes that can be attached to a word, and most will be summarized here. They have been divided into derivational and compounding morphemes.

Derivational Bound Morphemes
POSC English Taila Notes
A to A happy > not happy pattjam > silpattjam Compare with negative polarity particle si. Not commonly used with nouns.
V to V earn > not earn kospe > silkospe
A to A happy > sad pattjam > malpattjam Compare with the invertive polarity particle ma, which comes after the word (malpattjam vs. pattjam ma)
V to V earn > spend kospe > malkospe
N to N gain > loss hason > malhason
V to V throw > catch üntu > dymüntu Switches AGT and PAT roles for the verb. Not very common.
lend > borrow dzjedzju > dymdzjedzju
give > get dei > dymdi *
Agentive Nominal
-on-e (see note)
V to N give > giver dei > dejonmine The suffix is: -on + classifier + -e. Compound refers to the agent of the verb.
see > seer (person) gödza > gödzaonmine
see > seer (animal) gödza > gödzaonlanue
Patientive Nominal
-tja-e (see note)
V to N give > receiver dei > deitjamine Suffix: -tja + classifier +-e. Patient of verb.
see > someone seen gödza > gödzatjamine
throw > catcher üntu > üntutjapae
Oblique Nominal
-ja-e (see note)
V to N give > something given dei > deijapae Suffix: -ja + classifier + -e. Oblique of verb. Something described by adjective/classifier. With classifier, initial u- added.
A to N happy > someone happy pattjam > pattjamjamine
C to N PERSON > person min > ujamine
Specific Nominal
(see note)
V to N cough > cougher kutsju > kutsjuhanmine Suffix: role particle + classifier + -e. Can be used with any role of verb. Affective, locative, and comitative have been shown here.
earn > place to earn kospe > kospevedöne
go > accompany-er zuntja > zuntjagöumine
Collective Locative
N to N book > library anul > anulgon A place with a lot of (noun). A place where (verb) is frequently done.
tree > forest dzar > dzargon
V to N eat > cafeteria tsjomo > tsjomogon
Relative Adjective
N to A mind > mental nita > nitalig (Adjective) means "related or pertaining to (noun)"
world > global dunje > dunjelig
Compositional Adjective
N to A gold > golden aurum > aurumydo (Adjective) means "made or composed of (noun)". The suffix -gdo is used after most vowels.
earth > earthen tia > tiagdo
metal > metal (adj) metal > metalydo
Semblance Adjective
N to A cat > catlike miu > miuhali (Adjective) means "resembling (noun)", and can refer to any of the five senses.
mint > minty naltsje > naltsjehali
Rich Adjective
N to A money > rich djimo > djimojök (Adjective) means "rich in or having much (noun)"
water > sopping/wet jonh > jonjök
word > verbose parba > parbajök
Poor Adjective
N to A money > poor djimo > djimomek (Adjective) means "having little or no (noun)"
water > dry jonh > jonhmek
thing > empty ipa > ipamek
N to N house > mansion gontjo > dagontjo A large/huge (noun)
N to N house > cottage gontjo > ligontjo A small/little (noun)
N to N man > scoundrel konsa > hokonsa Shows bad feelings toward the described. Can be hard to translate into English.
A to A informal > informal vostip > hovostip
N to N man > gentleman konsa > mikonsa Shows good feelings toward the described. Can be hard to translate into English.
A to A informal > informal vostip > mivostip
Frequentative Adjective
V to A forget > forgetful ninva > ninvaman Means "does (verb) frequently", "is (adjective) often". With nouns, similar to relative adjective -lig.
A to A sad > depressed sjarai > sjaraiman
N to A man > male konsa > konsaman
Participial Adjective
V to A forget > forgetting, forgotten ninva > ninvetsan Forms a participle "(verb)ing/ed" and/or subordinates a clause "that (verb) happens"
eat > eating, eaten tsjomo > tsjomoetsan
Standard Action Verb
N to V finger > to finger ziti > zitide Means "to use (noun) in a typical way". This construction is more common in informal contexts.
hammer > to hammer ozjig > ozjigde
tongue > to lick münhen > münhende
A to V happy > to be happy pattjam > pattjamde Means "to be (adjective)". Not overly formal or overly informal.
dirty > to be dirty sunku > sunkude
Method Noun
V to N think > opinion gangok > gongokera Means "way of doing (verb)". After most vowels,the suffix -dzja is used.
speak > language lui > lujera
win > strategy mazdje > mazdjedzja
Instance Noun
V to N see > a sighting gödza > gödzetsi Means "an instance of (verb) happening" or "that (verb) happens"
think > thinking (n) gangok > gangoketsi
State Noun
A to N happy > happiness pattjam > pattjamson Means "state of being (adjective)"
dirty > dirtiness sunku > sunkuson
  • Here are the meanings of the abbreviations used above: POSC is Part-of-Speech Conversion, A is adjective, N is noun, V is verb, and C is classifier
  • An asterisk indicates an irregularity

The first three morphemes should be addressed separately because their usage can be somewhat unclear. The negative morpheme and negative particle convey the exact same meaning, but are slightly different in their formality and usage. The Taila expression silpattjam differs from pattjam si in the same way that "unhappy" differs from "not happy" in English. That is, the first is slightly more formal, and is normally used in compounding (compare "the unhappy man" with "the not-happy man"). This same difference is seen between the invertive morpheme and the invertive particle. Next, the complementary morpheme is only used when the speaker really wishes to stress that the patient is actively choosing to participate in the verb's action; thus, it is fairly rare because this is normally done by topicalizing the patient.

Also, With any of the nominal derivations, the final -e can be changed to -jün to indicate a professional context (dzjedzu "lend" > dzjedzjuonminjün "one who professionally lends" or "one whose profession it is to lend"). These suffixes can be (and often are) used together, sometimes making very long words: hodymdzjedzjuonminjünhali (PEJ-COMPL-lend-AGT-PERSON-PROFESSIONAL-SEMBL.ADJ) "like some scoundrel who professionally borrows things".

So, having discussed the derivational morphemes, the last thing to talk about is word compounding. Here is a table of the usual compounding morphemes.

Compounding Bound Morphemes
Description Involves English Taila
HEAD qualified by MODIFIER. Typically head and modifier are adjectives and/or nouns. Note that modifier precedes head. Connector is -e-. N & N Taila + language > Taila language Taila + lujera > Tailelujera
A & N quick + man > a man who is quick kyrip + konsa > kyripekonsa
N & A tree + green > green like a tree dzar + kudin > dzarekudin
A & A much + happy > very happy dua + pattjam > duepattjam
A hybrid, combination, or mixture of HEAD and MODIFIER. Either both nouns or both adjectives. Place -i- before each part. N & N man + woman > men and women konsa + sinsa > ikonsaisinsa
salt + water > salt water umpil + jonh > jumpilijonh
A & A scared + sad > despairing künfi + sjarai > ikünfjisjarai
Compounding verbs and sometimes adjectives with -o-. V & V read + say > read aloud gödza + bara > gödzobara
V & A see + dirty > look dirty gödza + sunku > gödzosunku
V & V can + go > can go nanh + zuntja > nanhozuntja
A verb HEAD with the MODIFIER(s) as argument(s). Lacks argument specificity, but sooner modifiers are generally more agentive than later ones. Connected by -u-. V & N watch + child > babysit gödza + ledam > gödzauledam
V & N count + word > wordcount sjym + parba > sjymuparba
V & N & N see + man + book > for a man to see a book gödza + konsa + anul > gödzaukonsawanul

The last two compounding techniques are very useful for making subordinate clauses when combined with the derivational morphemes -etsan and -etsi. For example, "the man reading a book" can be translated as konsa an gödza anul ja dze or, using compounding, it can be konsa gödzawanuletsan (man read-u-book-PARTICIPLE).


Due to the somewhat strange parts of speech to an English speaker, here is an explanation of the way words will be listed in the dictionary:

Part of Speech Template
Nouns word n. (classifier) meaning 1; (classifier) meaning 2.
Classifiers word class. description: example words.
Verbs word v. AGT verbs PAT; AGT verbs OBL; etc.
Co-verbs word cv. (modified verb) AGT verbs PAT; AGT verbs OBL; (modified verb) etc.
Adjectives/Adverbs word a. adjectival meanings; adverbial meanings.
Particle word part. meaning; <description of function>.
Conjunction word conj. meaning.

If at any point additional usage notes are necessary, they will be written within angular brackets (<>).

Two topical sections have been included on this page, but further words must be looked up in the dictionary.

People – Konsa[]

lesa n. (min) person, human, human being, homo sapien
min class. humans: konsa, sinsa, ledam.
konsa n. (min) man, male human, adult man
sinsa n. (min) woman, female human, adult woman
adam a. young, youthful
ledam n. (min) human child <regardless of gender>
kondam n. (min) boy, male human child
sindam n. (min) girl, female human child
byvy a. old, having lived/existed for many years
lebyv n. (min) old human <regardless of gender>
konbyv n. (min) old man, male senior
sinbyv n. (min) old woman, female senior
ba/saba n. (min) father, dad, step-father, male parent
ma/sama n. (min) mother, mom, step-mother, female parent
son/sason n. (min) brother, step-brother, half-brother, male sibling
tun/satun n. (min) sister, step-sister, half-sister, female sibling
njöm/sanjöm n. (min) son, male child
ljen/saljen n. (min) daughter, female child

When using kinship terms, the single syllable forms are very familiar and would only be used with one's own family. The forms with the prefix sa- are more formal, and can be used when referring to other people's family.

Time – Vadzjam[]

vadzjam n. time, passage of time <general term, not a specific time>
neudzjam n. a point in time, moment
nhero class. day (a period of 24 hours)
duen class. period of time: ljapte, badjo, vadzjam
sanja n. (nhero) day of the week <midnight to midnight>
sanjalai n. Monday
sanjasen n. Tuesday
sanjamau n. Wednesday
sanjavöt n. Thursday
sanjabyn n. Friday
sanjadju n. Saturday
sanjake n. Sunday
tsjüval a. last, final, ultimate; lastly, finally, ultimately
hydvo a. first, initial, primary; firstly, initially
badjo n. (duen) week (seven days)
ljapte n. (duen) month; class. month
lai ljapte n. January
sen ljapte n. February
mau ljapte n. March
nhua ljapte n. October
nhua-lai ljapte/sym ljapte n. November
nhua-sen ljapte/ke ljapte n. December
unte n. (duen) year; class. year
ondu n. (duen) hour; class. hour
minut n. (duen) minute; class. minute
segondo n. (duen) second; class. second
gözen n. (pa) morning (6am-10am)
hendi n. (pa) midday, noontime (10am-2pm)
ratsa n. (pa) afternoon (2pm-6pm)
munsun n. (pa) evening (6pm-10pm)
dabon n. (pa) night (10pm-2am)
wanje n. (pa) early morning (2am-6am)

When naming the days of the week and the months of the year, there are some irregularities involving the words ke and sym. Ke means "final" or "last", and sym means "next-to-last" or "penultimate", but these words are not normally used outside of set expressions such as these. Note that Sunday can only be said sanjake not sanjanüs, but November and December can be said either way: nhua-lai ljapte and nhua-sen ljapte, or sym ljapte and ke ljapte.

The date is always expressed from longest to shortest component. So, March 25, 2004 would be Sen-Ze-Ze-Vöt Unte Mau Ljapte Sen-Nhau-Byn Nhero which is normally written either 2004 unte 3 ljapte 25 nhero or 2004/3/25 or in shorthand, 2004u 3l 25n. The same phenomenon can be observed with time. So, 6:19 can be dju ondu nhua-hin (the word minut is seldom used when saying the time); however, the terms "am" and "pm" are not used with the 12-hour clock. Instead, the time of day is said after the time, so 6:19am would be dju ondu nhua-hin gözen, and 6:19pm would be dju ondu nhua-hin munsun. Although the above times of day have general time periods listed, these are not exact. Thus, 5:00pm could be translated as either byn ondu ratsa or byn ondu munsun without issue.

Example Texts[]

Well-Known Passages[]

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

  • <Work In Progress>
  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Translation Challenge[]

From the Translation Challenge page, this passage has been chosen to be translated:

Taila Gloss English
1 DANG: Oi, honjyn Tran su Ha-Noi ve ondu dzji duen ain tjum palhötja bu, nanja nun han jegi parti ve gutzuntja ta tja jevel e? Hom nanja jegi taksi on jevel e? DANG: Hey, after Tran IND Ha Noi LOC hours few CLASS TMP FUT enter-come PERF, then you AFF should party LOC exit-go him PAT pick.up INTERR? Or then should taxi AGT pick.up INTERR? DANG: Hey, when Tran arrives in Ha Noi in a few hours, will you have to leave the party to go and fetch him, or will he take a cab?
PHAM: Du talba hoi on jevel. Tjum nanhotirma zuntja kyrip. PHAM: PAST request me AGT pick.up. FUT can-o-decide go quickly. PHAM: He asked me to pick him up; I may decide to leave in a hurry.
Taila Gloss English
2 DANG: Tsaran dzarydo ja Pham on Inhlandekanala ve nilsanja ain zjaunö bu, bara pa ni ja kem pa jo sjeljeukanalaukinuntestan ja nanhosum wa. DANG: Plank tree-COMP.ADJ OBL Pham AGT England-e-Channel LOC today TMP find PERF, say CLASS this OBL CONT.LOCU CLASS yonder drop-u-channel-u-last.year-PART.ADJ OBL can-o-be COND. DANG: Pham found a wooden plank today in the English Channel. He said it might have been the one he dropped into the channel last year.
TRAN: Kul, tsyljan bu dülje denhü e? TRAN: Cool, measure PERF length equal INTERR? TRAN: Cool, were the measurements the same?
DANG: Denhü si, mesj honja tsyljanetsi ain möiva bu dzajujonhetsi mön tsaran han du pidat gyn. DANG: Equal NEG, but after measure-INSTANCE TMP discover PERF EFF plank AFF PAST expand INDIRECT. DANG: No, but after we measured it, we discovered that having stayed underwater in the channel, the wooden plank had expanded.
Taila Gloss English
3 TRAN: Oi, inamenhero dai vötnhua hoi ja honja malotsagukeiketsi ain ferez howan bi itsjen taz, tsjalam jin seja duly e? Keik belai an puze sjamu vötnhua dzjyn dze ja sum miria keik pa jo ly. TRAN: Hey, born-e-day ORDINAL forty me OBL after INV-freeze-u-cake-INSTANCE TMP feel enjoyable more before COMP, but CLASS what CAUS INTERR? Cake white an have candle forty CLASS dze OBL be simply cake CLASS this OPT. TRAN: Hey, my fortieth birthday isn't so bad now that the cake isn't frozen, but what happened? All it was was a normal white cake with forty candles on it.
PHAM: Honjyn keik tja danha zuonajujonhetsi ain, nanja möiva bu sjamu dzjyn gu mön keik otsagetsan an silnanhotsjomo dze han tüsla gyn. PHAM: After cake PAT while go-o-get-u-water-INSTANCE TMP watch, then discover PERF candles CLASS COLLECTIVE EFF cake freeze-PART.ADJ an NEG-can-o-eat dze AFF thaw INDIRECT. PHAM: After watching the cake while you were going for more water, I concluded that the candles caused the frozen cake, which had proven inedible, to thaw.