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Cases and other adpositional particles

The place of the adpositions relative to the nominal head is not fixed in Denden and all adpositions can be used either as pre- or as postpositions.

Southern Colloquial Charyan has postpositions, while Northern Colloquial has prepositions, and whether the Denden adpositions are used prepositionally or postpositionally seems in some measure to be determined by the mother tongue of the speaker or author.

However, in the Denden as spoken in Broi, postpositionally used particles generally form a phonological unit with the head noun, while prepositionally used particles have a more independent status. It is interesting to note that Broian Denden is currently in a transitional phase, moving from an SVO to an SOV word order; it seems likely that the prepositional usage of particles is in part motivated by an analogy with verbal constructions, i.e. prepositionally placed particles can be interpreted as more verbal in nature.

Whether the postpositionally used case particles are in reality affixes or independent elements of the noun-phrase is a difficult question. As noted about, for instance, New Indo-Aryan (Masica 1991 : 212), '...the line between such analytic elements and agglutinative affixes is uncertain...'. The Denden case particles are in, what Masica (op. cit.), at Zograph's (1976) instigation, terms paradigmatic contrasts. The whole system of forming complex elements of noun phrases must be examined, especially when the analytical elements can just as well be analysed as suffixes, since they form, when one takes the stress patterns into account, a phonological unity with the head noun.

Adpositions often function as "case" particles (Blake 1994, 9-13), and we can distinguish between particles that indicate direct verbal arguments, such as the instrumental particle hye INST and the dative particle lye DAT (note that the core arguments, subject and direct object,rumental particle hye INST and the dative particle lye DAT (note that the core arguments, subject and direct are not marked by any case particle), the particles indicating relationships beween nominals, such as the genitive oib GEN or the possessive lua POSS, and locative particles, such as the locative ar or the inessive yo(murin) INESS.

The following table presents all case particles:

Verbal Arguments
Name Form LabelGlosse
Instrumentalhye INST with
Dative lye DAT to
Nominal Relationships
Name Form LabelGlosse
Genitive oib GEN of
Possessive lua POSS of
Comparativelogh COMP like
Relative tan RTV n/a
Ornative dax ~ daxaORN n/a
Sociative dandir SOC together
Comitative quat COM with
Enumerativey ENU and
Privative tu PRIV without, lacking
Locational particles
Name Form LabelGlosse
Proximal Locativeyobal ~ yobarNLOCclose by
Inessiveyo(murin)INESSin, inside
AdessivewauADESSat, close by, near
ExessivenilEXESSout, outside
Frontive atal ~ atahl FRONT in front of
Postive qe ~ ke ~ che POST behind of
Intrative canuin ~ can INTRA through, between
Tegimentivetayr TEG around, covering
Superessiveylis ~ ylishSUPER on top of
Subessive naha SUBESSunder
Partitivecu ~ zu PART from (amongst)
Elative o ELA from (place)
Ablative ob ABLA out, out of
Illative ca ILLA into, onto, inserting into
Augmented IllativecasheILLA2deeply into
Allative yohalALLA towards
Finalitive lya GOAL towards
Translativeswaran TRANSthrough
Perlative matan PERLA (being or going) alongside
Tangentive par TANG going along, while touching


hye  INST

The instrumental adposition hye INST marks an instrument distinct from the agent of the sentence. It can also indicate a cause or a comitative. However, the sociative is also used in a comitative sense. Causal clauses can be subordinated using the instrumental, but more often using the particle tan TAN.

The instrumental hye marks the instrument with which the agent of a sentence does something:

.   lananir. hon   ka,  tau.layet, gerran mimir.ir   hye  layet.ju
    taste.PT1 after TOP  NEG.tasty  meat   pepper.DUP INST tasty.CRT
    If you've tasted [it], [and it] isn't tasty, you will certainly
    make the meat tasty with peppers.

.   seri  basuse seri  hye  ghijas!
    2sHGH wash   2sHGH INST shit
    You wash yourself with shit!

.   kaulon    Denyal tiran.ini davain hye  tyras.as e.da
    big_house Denyal catch.HAB birds  INST hand.DUP poss.3sMGH
    Denyal from the big house catches birds with his hands

.   koran hye  ka  yadir dox ga  lyan      ga
    veil  INST TOP woman all NOM beautiful NOM
    With a veil, every woman is beautiful

.   chaka.hau rai   semor e.dos      hye!
    beat.IMP  3pLGG knife poss.1pMGH INST
    Let's beat them up with our knives!

In this example, chaka 'to beat' is used, and not menar, to cut, to indicate that this is a proper fight, not a knifing from behind.

.   soi  hye  smzi ka, tan dasir  hod'shulas ga, daha.
    wine INST drunk TOP TAN 3pfMGH head.mist  NOM tomorrow 
    They're drunk with wine, they'll have a misty head, tomorrow.

Due to the composite nature of Denden, there is great freedom in constructions. The following examples were taken from Hinadanzi's native grammar:

.   garal.al garalbay hye  hyahya
    hair.DUP brush    INST brush

    garal.al hye garalbay hyahya

    hye garalbay garal.al hyahya

    garalbay hye garal.al hyahya
    the hair is brushed with a brush

.   Yai   hye  e.do       leham teshit. yo   maile,
    2sLGH INST poss.1sMGH money buy.PT1  that shirt

    yo   maile e.do       ga!
    that shirt poss.1sMGH NOM
    You've bought that shirt with my money, it's my shirt!

Causative constructions with hye are rare, and the usage is almost completely confined to the southern parts of Charya.

.   dabbe ca   qiri.ri e.do       penresh hye  tau.qireze.za
    paint into eye,DUP poss.1sMGH spatter INST NEG.see.EXP
    Because the paint spattered into my eyes I couldn't see.

.   ram   kisen.onai hye  zipaisan hye  sero  dotyuan.
    money steal.PERF INST army     INST 1sHGH poor
    Because the army stole [my] money, I've become poor.

Related to the causative usage of hye INST is the figurative usage which indicates which factor made a situation possible:

.    canoran seras daxa ga  hye serir kaulon ca  nahan tau.yindad
     key     1sHGH ORN  NOM INS 1pHGH house  ILL go    NEG.able_to
     Because he had the key on him we couldn't enter the house.

The comitative usage of hye INST is purely coordinative, and never indicates enumeration:

.    sero  hakaq.aq  hye  Hamal, Hamal qendor, sero  qendor, 
     1sHGH fight.HAB INST Hamal  Hamal win     1sHGH win

     tarna turantos tau.qendor.zi.
     but   nobody   NEG.win.AUG
     I regularly fight a bout with Hamal, Hamal wins, I win,
     but nobody ever wins out.

.    Manud yo   adan tau.adan ga! da    yumir'beru hye  qenan,
     Manud that man  NEG.man  NOM 3sMGH wife.first INST make_love

     xong.zi,  xong.zi   na da    yumir'verai hye  qenan
     tired.AUG tired.AUG so 3sMGH wife.second INST make_love

     tau.yindad. E.da       yumir.ir dilogh qenan!
     NEG.can     poss.3sMGH wife.DUP REFL   make_love
     That man Manud, he isn't a man! If he makes love with his first
     wife he's very tired, he's so tired he can't make love with his
     second wife. His wives must make love amongst themselves!


tan TAN (RTV)

The Denden particle tan is notoriously difficult (see also further literature on tan) to describe in a rigorous fashion. Countless generations of PhD students have been able to base their thesises on it. The particle ga is nearly as notorious. I gloss tan consequently as TAN, since the meaning of this particle is very broad and depends on the context.

However, tan TAN can be said to relate clauses and nominals, and in that sense, is a relative particle, and in some cases it should be glossed RTV. The meanings of tan include genitive, ablative, locative, dative and comitative meanings, and in fact, tan can be used in place of almost every distinct case particle.

It must be taken into account when considering the meaning and usage of tan that Denden is a lingua franca, spoken across a large continent by people with a wide variety of mother-tongues. The substratal influences of their native tongues have to a large degree caused the wide variety of usages of tan attested in the sources.

Core usages of tan

The central meaning of tan is genitive. The genitive indicates possession or a belonging together.

There have been attested at least two common genitive constructions with tan:


.   kaolon tan Keluxir zi    ga
    house  TAN Keluxir great NOM
    The house of Keluxir is great.

.   weru doxazdan nahan lohe tan Daine nah.
    two  regiment go    to   TAN daine side
    Two regiments went over to the side of the Daine

.   Tan lauy purgat.dir cyun.cyun gelaw tayde   Hamal ga  zunga.dan
    GEN well  god.p      very.DUP  angry because Hamal NOM curse.AGP
    The gods of the well are extremely angry because Hamal is one 
    who curses.

Thus: X tan Y and tan Y X both mean 'the X of Y'. The first construction is more general, while the second construction is limited to southern sources, and could be due to the influence of Southern Colloquial Charyan, or to an extension of the genitivus partitivus:

.   Tan e.do       ram   di    tejidi tau.getir
    TAN poss.1sMGH money 2sMGH little NEG.obtain
    You won't get even a little of my money

In the construction X tan Y the constituents X and Y can swap places:

.   sor  tan Tacal
    sword TAN Tacal
    the sword of Tacal

.   Tacal tan sor
    Tacal TAN sword
    Tacal's sword
The focus is always on the first constituent. In case of ambiguity the possession is the first element; the possessor the second.

A third construction is attested in some eastern sources:

.   Snes  hanun.un tan
    plain fly.p    TAN
    The plain of the flies

However, the construction X Y tan has not been imitated by authors from other parts of the continent, while the southern construction tan X Y enjoyed some popularity during the latter half of the three hundred years of the three hundred kingdoms period.


The locative use of tan is an extension of the genitive core meaning of tan. When used in a locative sense, the particle tan indicates "possession of a location" and is most often used as a preposition, though postpositional uses are common, too. The locative is more often expressed with locative suffix <-ar> LOC, though.

.   Seras iber  tan nevus hahan.alei. Tan nevus ga  ke   nadul.
    3sHGH first TAN west  tramp.PT3.  GEN west  NOM only sand.
    He travelled first in the west. The west only had sand.

.   Barush   tan Barushladan.dir wu.ni,   barush   tan gigar  ga.
    mountain TAN barushlan.p     live.HAB mountain TAN danger NOM
    In the mountains the Barushlani live, in the mountains there is

.   Tau.tau.etand, e.ras      dox'tau.yidan    ga  nothaz
    NEG.dup.be     POSS.3pLGH thing.NEG.normal NOM kill   

    tan kal tu.belay.lay
    TAN far without.arrow.DUP
    No, no, theirs is a strange thing that kills from far without arrows.

Other cases

Tan has usurped the domain of many of the more specialised case particles in Denden. In these cases the usage can either be constructed as derived directly from the genitive usage, or via the locative usage of tan.

a. Dative

.   Do    tan di    tau.gevir.ju ram
    1sMGH TAN 2sMGH NEG.give.CRT money
    I certainly won't give you money.

.   Mmu gjivat tan radan ta.kiraw?
    QST  gjivat TAN man   NEG.bad
    Gjivat isn't harmful for a man? (negative answer expected).

.   Seri  wwish.do tan do
    2sHGH dance.OPT TAN 1sMGH
    Will you dance for me?

.   doxaz      delai.ai wwish tan pal
    thousand   girl.p   dance  TAN emperor
    A thousand girls dance for the emperor.

b. Ablative

.   Sera  tan harulon tan Qunayir nahan,     tarna sera  quna tau.ga
    3sHGH TAN temple  TAN Qunayir come_from, but   3sHGH cat  NEG.NOM
    He comes from the temple of Qunayir, but he isn't a cat.

.   Seri  bachaza.hau hod  e.rai      tan randa
    2sHGH hack.IMP    head poss.3sLGH TAN trunk
    Hack his head off the trunk!  

c. Allative

.   Sero  tau.yalir rezet tan Hamal.
    1sHGH NEG.bring bread TAN Hamal
    I won't bring the bread to Hamal.

d. Comitative

.   Sero  ta.gedir  tan bu  yani     pahang
    1sHGH NEG.think TAN DIST daughter fat
    I don't think of that fat daughter.

.   Do    tan Kirimandir hales.ju
    1sMGH TAN Kirimandir trust.CRT
    I put my trust in the Kirimandir (brother and sister gods)

.   Sero  tajir tan tagyan   e.di
    1sHGH sad   TAN mischief poss.2sMGH
    I am saddened by your mischief (from parent to child)

.   Daine chui   jahar.onai   tan  chakahin.yi 
    Daine easily succeed.PERF TAN battle.DIM   
    The Daine easily succeeded in battle

Peripheral usages of tan

Adjectival constructions with tan

As an extension of the genitive usage of tan, the particle is sometimes used to put greater emphasis on an adjectival construction. In these case the normal order noun-adjective is reversed.

.   Rorayal denor gigar  tan tugar, ca'fentir
    Rorayal speak danger TAN lie    yesterday
    Rorayal uttered a dangerous lie, yesterday

Adverbial constructions with tan

Adverbial constructions are often made with chains of verbs, but can also be made with the particle tan.

.   Serir tan Pal     arat tan karinzu
    1pHGH TAN emperor fear TAN enter
    We went to the emperor with fear.

Another redaction of the same text, the memoires of Yundiai lue Erlo, a courtier at time time of the twelfth emperor, has the following:

.   Serir Pal.ar      arat tan Pal     gelaw karinzu
    1pHGH emperor.LOC fear TAN emperor fury  enter
    We went to the Emperor's palace in fear of the fury of the emperor.

Which of course is a normal genitive construction.

A clear example of the adverbial use of tan is found in the song lamay neranmen:

.   E.do    nahak hya    tan sunane
    poss.1s penis smooth TAN saunter
    My penis smoothly saunters

If hya would be taken as and adjective to nahak, the particle tan would become meaningless, and since there is no rhyme to be gained in the phrase by the addition of a meaningless tan, tan must here be analyzed as forming an adverb.


Tan can also be used as a conjunction. In the next example, tan can either be analysed as an adverbial particle (belonging to tupamo), or as a conjunction between naha and tupamo:

.   Pal     naha  tan tupamo     etal.amoi    Barushla
    emperor brave TAN unexpected conquer.RFUT Barushla
    The brave emperor then unexpectely conquered Barushla. 
    or: The emperor then bravely and unexpectedly conquered Barushla.
    or even: The brave and unpredictable emperor then conquered Barushla.


Tan can also be used as an undetermined pronoun, like 'one':

.   Tan tau.tau.yuan.ini yob
    TAN NEG.NEG.do.HAB   that
    One doesn't do that.

As a relative pronoun

Although Denden has a perfectly good and usable set of relative pronouns, some authors extend the range of uses of tan into the domain of relative pronouns:

.   Do    avanrir quhuran.dir tan wwish
    1sMGH love    whore.p     TAN dance
    I love whores who dance.

.   Do    tauvan adan tan tauvan do
    1sMGH hate   man  TAN hate   1sMGH
    I hate those who hate me.

Comparative constructions

In comparative constructions, tan couples the terms that are compared:

.   Klondan.dan. qarnak.yara tan tardan logh
    farmer.p     fuck.DSP    TAN animal like
    Farmers fuck like the beasts. (i.e. without any art).

Passive constructions

In passive constructions, tan can be used to mark the passive subject:

.   Tarna drai tan najan.ini
    but   girl TAN kiss.HAB
    But girls are usually kissed.

As a stopgap in poetry

In line 6 of the poem Lamay Neranmen the particle appears to be essentially meaningless and merely used to obtain a rhyme with anyalan, in line 8.

.   Yuanei   tiran e.di    yanang.dir tan
    pleasure grasp poss.2s breast.pl  TAN
    with pleasure I grasp your breasts

In sum, the usage of tan ranges from a case particle to a meaningless syllable, and only a careful analysis of the text and its provenance can lead the philologist to a correct translation.


oib  of, GEN

There has been a historical tendency where the genitive adposition oib GEN lost a large part of its place to the relative adposition tan TAN, and at the beginning of the Threehundred Kingdoms period the genitive particle oib GEN was only used to indicate actual possession and the place of origin of common people.

In the North and the East, the genitive particle oib GEN remained in fairly widespread usage, but in the South, around Broi and the Xiy'kahra, the adposition had almost completely vanished during the reign of Emperor Rordal Twuindoal Sedom'Chewir.

.   Sor  oib Tacal verech.zi ga, sero  gedir.ju  doxaz ajun.
    sword GEN Tacal old.AUG   NOM 1sHGH think.CRT 1000  year
    Tacal's sword is very old, I think a thousand years.
Lyane Nechzi oib Siroi Lyane Nechzi who comes from Siroi

But also:

Denyal Yaswe tan Yawaizi Denyal Yaswe who came from Yawaizi


lua  POSS

In contrast with the genitive particle oib GEN, the possessive particle lua was used to indicate the place of origin of noble people whose family would actually have had to have been in possession of the place.

Nimww lua Peroi Nimww of the noble family of Peroi

Originally, the possessive lua was used to indicate actual possession, while the genitive oib was used to indicate the sense of belonging together. The possessive lua is a loan from from the Classical language and was during the reign of Emperor Rordal Twuindoal Sedom'Chewir still used as a high-register alternative for tan TAN in its genitive sense.

.   Klonlyan lua   Pal     cuyinleng   lyantara. Lyantara  ka  arayachar 
    palace    POSS emperor outstanding beautiful splendour TOP glory
    lua  Pal.zi      pela 	y   lyaunya lua  Charya ga.
    POSS emperor.AUG symbolize  COM pride   POSS Charya NOM. 
    The palace of the emperor is outstandingly beautiful. The splendour
    symbolizes the glory of the great emperor and is the pride of Charya.


dax ~ daxa ORN

The ornative suffix dax ~ daxa ORN means 'clothed in, adorned with', 'endowed with', 'equipped with', both in a concrete and an abstract sense.

.   lyangar  tan taihanun logh daxa Yimilir wwish tan Pal.
    eye-brow TAN wing     like ORN  Yimilir dance  TAN emperor
    Yimilir with the wing-like eyebrows dances before the Emperor.

.   lyan   qoron.yi daxa ga
    beauty face.DIM ORN  NOM
    She has a pretty face
.   maile qurejale    yar  daxa Quandiyal teshitlo'ar nahan.
    shirt see-through long ORN  Quandiyal market.LOC  go
    Leng.leng qureray ga!
    very.DUP  nice    NOM
    Quandiyal went to the market wearing a long, gauze maile.
    It looked very nice.
.   Beru wenyisin daxa palenlo achar, Hamal yondir, yondir, cenam
    one  lamp     ORN  study   light  Hamal study   study   night
    tan atar    reniy   com   yondir.
    TAN evening morning until study
    With only one lamp lighting [his] study, Hamal studied and
    studied, the whole night from evening until the morning.


ar  LOC

.   Rahnun ar klondan ka da kenta

.   Weshe wuwish pesen e.da ar

.   Quashdir hahush sensh cu
tayr  around
atahl  in front of
canuin, can  between, through
nil  outside
matan  alongside, past
par  over
qe ~ ke ~ che  behind
wau  near
yobal ~ yobar  here
yomurin  inside
yülis ~ yülish  above
zu ~ cu  in, inside


lya GOAL

The goal of an action or the beneficiary can be marked with the finalitive particle lya GOAL:

.   Klondan maunsir rahnun e.da       lya  palenta shun
    farmer  plow    field  poss.3sMGH GOAL noble   lazy
    The farmer plows his fields for the lazy nobles.


asfran ~ swaran ~ asran  to, towards
yohal  towards


ob  out, out of


ca  into
cashe  deep into


dandir  SOC: together
quat ~ y  COM: with, together


quat ~ y  COM: with, together

The comitative adposition y can also have a a cooperative meaning:

.   quhuran avanrir adan y    yader.iy.dir
    whore   love    man  COM  girl.DIM.p
    The whore loves the man with [her/the] little friends.

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