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

Ulele is a predominantly analytic/isolating language, with all affixes having actual lexical meanings. The word *ulele means tongue and lick. Scores of the lexicon's everyday words are onomatopoetic, like *pːu for fire, *munka-munka for bite, *kulu-kulu for swallow, *tum or *tumtum for heart, *kuakua for goose, and *ʔu-ʔutu-ʔu for rooster.

General information[]

Ulele is an analytic language, head-final, uses postpositions, and has a topic comment structure. Word order is nearly always SOV, but can be VSO to emphasize the action, or OSV as an equivalent to the English passive voice. There is not always a clear distinction between agent and patient, sometimes context determines which is the agent and which is the patient. Additional particles like now or a while ago are used in place of tense, and verbal aspects are mostly realized via reduplification or vowel lengthening. Nouns do not decline for the plural or dual, instead the particle many, lot, or a number must be used alongside the noun, or simply repeating the noun a second time implies plurality. Instead of a dual case, one would say, X with Y. There are no indefinite or relative pronouns, phrases consisting of man or thing together with a particle are used instead of the former, the reduced relative clause The man [I saw yesterday] went home instead of The man that I saw yesterday went home) is used for the latter.


Ulele possesses an extremely small sound inventory, like that of Piraha or the more familiar Hawaiian. There is a great deal of varying pronunciation, with many correct ways to utter a word.


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p t c k ʔ
Fricative s š h
Lateral l
  • There is no distinction between voiceless and voiced consonants. When plosives are pronounced as voiceless, there is never any aspiration as in English. Between vowels and in clusters with a nasal, they are normally voiced. Sometimes they may also be fricatives between vowels, but never before a nasal.
  • t between vowels it may be [ɾ] or [ɽ].
  • Between vowels /p/ may be [v] or [β] instead of [b].
  • The nasals and /l/ may be syllables all by themselves.
  • Female speakers of Ulele tend to pronounce /k/ as [ŋ].
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Lateral
ʘ ǀ ǃ ǂ ǁ
  • Clicks occur in clusters with preceding nasals.


Front Back
Close i u
Mid ɛ o Open a

  • Female speakers of Ulele tend to pronounce [u] as [y] in some words. They commonly lengthen /u o/ to /uː oː/.
  • There are two tones, a high and low.


The syllable structure has a few restrictions that characterize the language. Namely, no word may have three plosives, or any consonant clusters other than NC, lC, and NN (N=nasal, C=all plosives and /s/). Syllabic consonants do not count as part of a clusters. Hiatus is permitted, but no consonant is allowed to occur at the end of a word except the nasals.




There are two types of verbs, active ones such as run and hit, and stative ones which depict a state of being, such as live. The verbal aspects are the Habitual, Progressive, Inchoative (started to X), Terminative (finished X), Defective (almost X), Pausative (stopped X for a while), Durative, Frequentative, Experiential (have done X many times), Intentional, Accidental, and Intensive. These can all be expressed in a variety of ways, some with particles or extra words, some with reduplication of either the first syllable or the whole word.

Habitual The first vowel is lengthened to express the habitual aspect, along with the first syllable being repeated, which is optional. Or, one may say something like He do X all (the) time.

Progressive Expressed by phrases like She us-with no cease (to) live, which is more understandably said as, She's still living with us.

Inchoative The verbal phrase go into, which translates to begin or start in English, is used.

Terminative The verb to end is used.

Defective Phrases of the structure come near to X are used.

Pausative The verbs stop and pause are used, which have different connotations from using to end, namely they imply a temporary pause to an action.

Durative The phrase to (a) long time is used.

Frequentive Expressed with the phrase again and again.

Experiential Would be expressed as He do X before or He do X many time (before).

Intentional Verbs whose meanings include wish, desire, or want are used.

Accidental Same as the Intentional but with the negative prefixed to the verbs described above.

Intensive The verb is repeated twice.

Deictal Suffixed Statements[]

Deictal suffixes indicate the relation of a third-person subject to the speaker and are only used in the precense of a third-person subject. Although they could be classed as suffixes, they are really short statements which may fuse with the verb in fast speech.

Suffix Meaning
sa mi visible to speaker (but not necessarily to adressee)
na sa mi invisible to speaker
sa xua visible to adressee only
na sa ia invisible to both speaker and adressee

Deictal suffixes[]

Suffix Meaning
mi iu motion towards speaker
tu iu motion towards adressee
mi lalu motion away from speaker
xua lalu motion away from adressee
xalia puni motion around the proximal area
uš ni into water
uš uku out of water
kaiu puni encircling an object
uiui-haka san onto a vertical surface
uiui-haka xa off a vertical surface
utu sua through something
utu luna across something
utu ly upward up something
utu huxu downward or down something
xalia xalia xi from one area to another



Nouns in Ulele are not inflected, but a lexical root can have a 3rd person pronoun attached to the end of it, which in this case is grammaticalized to a definite article.

Intransitive Sentences[]

Since Ulele is an active-stative language, the subject of an intransitive sentence may be agent or patient. The patient of an intransitive sentence will appear before the verb, the agent after it. Subjects of verbs, mostly stative ones, like become angry or to be sad, go before the action because they have no control over the action.

Lexical Roots[]

Technically, the concept of root words is useless for this language, since a root is defined as an isolated word with no affixes or changes. In Ulele, words are always this way, though in fast speech particles and postpositions may fuse with a noun.

Whether a word is a verb or noun, for some words, depends on where it is in a transitive sentence. If a word is sentence finally, its a verb, if its anywhere else, it's a noun. As for an intransitive sentence, the endings signifying definiteness, if present on the word, will render its role as a noun obvious.

Agentive and Patientive Nouns[]

Agent nouns like boxer and baker form intransitive sentences in Ulele where, for the most part, the subject is in control of the action, save for actions like hunger or love, where the subject isn't. The verb would be reduplicated for the Habitual Aspect, followed by the subject if it is in control, preceded by the subject if it is not.

The word baker would be translated as mamaxili mun, boxer would be papaka mun, whilst the word lover would be mun luluha, because the action cannot be controlled like that of baking or boxing can. This form can also be used to make perpetually patientive nouns like baggage or burden, which can both translate as ta hiahia, which literally means thing carried or carried thing.

Agentive nouns may also be expressed by a simple conjunction like paka mun, hit man.


Alienable and inalienable possession are distinguished. For alienable possession a simple postposition like hala, towards, is used, but for inalienable possession the particle kyla is used.


Personal pronouns[]

1SG mi
2SG xua
3SG usu
1PL Exclusive hai
1PL Inclusive ia
3PL ti

Reflexive pronoun[]

The reflexive pronoun in Ulele is the word ui which can be translated as self. It takes on the corresponding pronoun and kula to indicate person, such as mi kula ui which means myself.


Adjectives directly preceed the noun or verb they modify, as do adverbs the verbs they modify. Comparison is made with the particle luna or iana, which both over. The superlative made by the expression over all other X.


Postpositions, Particles[]


  • pu fire
  • paha fire, blaze, flame
  • hoso fire (as a living being, a deity)
  • uš, us(-u) water, river
  • tipa water (in a small quantity)
  • mša, msa water
  • n!àʔà uš, n!àʔà us(-u) lake, literally stone water
  • ǁa scar
  • mša ǂò boat, literally water tree
  • tum/tumtum heart
  • kuakua goose
  • xu-xutu-xu rooster
  • m food
  • ulala tongue, language


  • ǀǀ to come
  • mua to kiss
  • ʘ to kiss
  • ku to kiss, to smooch (in a sexual manner)
  • ulala to lick, to taste, tongue
  • munka(-munka) to bite
  • ǁǁ to bite, to chew
  • kulu(-kulu) to swallow

Adjectives and Adverbs[]

  • m good, nice
  • na bad