6. Sodemadu Text


Le dantɨŋi o madu tɛpa aŋo ŋyɛtɛti.
Na le eyaŋi syɛɬɛ, na le muhɨdi ni mɛɬodo ni telele ɛmɛmɛ giya.
Le eyombi dɛɬava kyɛɬ le sono ono kade deva giya tut le dɨdɛn ɛmɛmɛ giya.

Na le kyɛgeya omɛtɛ tut le etɨŋi dɛssoto leva geya,
na nadi bɛdi pa kine otɛllɛ kɛksi o mese badi.

Le ŋyɛtɛteya omɛtɛ mo ŋɛha tut le eyaŋi taɬasono pa madu giya.
Nɛnsi syɛɬeya dɛssoteya tɨŋe leya ki.

English Translation

I go along in the world without many rules. When I sleep, I can do strange and wonderful things. I believe that if I can picture it in my mind, I can do it.

I tried to go to my destination, but all the signs of the land were deceiving on the plain.

I made a rule for myself so that I can go through the chaos of the world. Therefore let sleep send me a destination.

Grammar and Vocabulary

Parts of speech include nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and everything else.

Nouns inflect for number and motility. Number is singular and plural. Motility is motile and sessile. Nouns in classes 1 and 2 are naturally motile and appear in the dictionary in the motile singular. Nouns in classes 3 and 4 are naturally sessile and appear in the dictionary as sessile singular.


MT.SG    MT.PL    SS.SG    SS.PL

Noun class 1*   –        -na      -ava    -navi

Noun class 2    –        -na      -ava    -navi

Noun class 3    -ɨdɛn    -ɨdi     –       -i

Noun class 4    -eya     -ɨdiya   –       -i

*a subset of class 1 nouns uses different inflections.


Some noun roots end in -h, which disappears at the end of words, and assimilates to the following consonant when suffixed. Otherwise, noun roots lose their final vowel when the suffixed. Some singular nouns have singular suffixes which they lose when inflected for plurality or their opposite in motility, but I don’t have any of those in this text.

Pronouns act like nouns, except for the indeclinable ones. However, their inflections for motility and number are more complex, so they are indicated in the vocabulary.

Adjectives follow nouns and do not inflect.

A noun phrase consists of a noun or pronoun, possibly modified by adjective(s) or prepositional phrases. A noun phrase can consist of multiple noun phrases joined with a conjunction.

Verbs are complex. There are only a limited number of them, and 5 are used in this text. Verbs inflect for aspect and evidentiality. Aspect includes imperfect and perfect (or past). Evidentiality includes a zero-marked visual plus non-visual/other sensory, inferred from physical evidence or lack of evidence, and reported. More on verbs below.

Then come things like conjunctions (precede what is conjoined), determiners (precede nouns), prepositions (precede noun phrases or clauses), and adverbs which do grammar work. Finally, every sentence is ended with a mood marker, which is zero-marked for indicative sentences.

Word order matters! The word order for every clause is:


Generally, the source is a noun phrase that causes (if motile) or is otherwise the purpose or origin (if sessile) of the journey described by the verb. The destination is the benefactor or the end-point of the journey. The subject is the noun phrase that is journeying, and is therefore motile. Other stuff includes prepositional phrases, adverbs, and subordinate clauses.

Not all verbs have sources and destinations. Some disallow them. Some carry prefixes that remove an argument. E- (or ey- before a vowel) removes or disallows a source, and dan- removes both source and destination.

The five verbs used in this text are tɨŋi, aŋi, ono, ɛmɛmɛ, and tɛndɛ. Tɨŋi is the most basic, describing a journey with a source and a destination. The source is often causative. It is glossed as → (an arrow pointing to the right). It can be translated as ‘go’, ‘send’, ‘go along’, ‘go about’, ‘follow’, ‘seek’, or anything really that can be imagined as a (possibly metaphorical) journey. Aŋi is a variation of tɨŋi with an amorphous or abstract destination. It also implies that the journey continues through the destination. Ono reverses the journey so that the Destination is coming towards the Subject or the Source by means of the Subject. So it is glossed as ← (an arrow pointing to the left). Ɛmɛmɛ is weirder. It involves things moving together from all directions into the subject. ‘Make’ is a good translation usually. Or ‘do’, ‘accomplish’, ‘create’, ‘build’, etc. Finally tɛndɛ is a copular verb, so ‘be’ is the best translation usually. Subjects of copular verbs appear in their base motility, so class 3 and 4 nouns are sessile even as subjects. More info can be found at the (incomplete) page on verbs at http://terjemar.net/sodemadu/verbs.php.

Evidentiality is not marked in subordinate clauses, but since visual is zero- marked, this form is indistinguishable from the visual. Visual evidentiality is used for first person visually acquired evidence or experience. It can also be used in first-person statements where the speaker takes full responsibility for the information in the sentence. Non-visual is used when experience or evidence was acquired other than visually, such as via hearing or other forms of sensing. Inferred is used when the information is deducted or inferred from physical evidence or there is a lack of evidence. Inferred would also be used when deducing another’s mental state. Finally, reported is used for information acquired via hearsay, reading, learning from others, etc. Reported can interact with mood to produce obligation or permission.



Nouns are listed with their class in parentheses.


aŋo       determiner  many

badi      adverb      but, unexpectedly, contrary to expectation

bɛdi      noun (3)    sign, signal, name

dantɨŋi   verb        tɨŋi without source or destination, in imperfect and visual/zero

deva      adjective   its

dɛɬɛ      noun (2)    belief, notion, idea, thought

dɛssoto   noun (4)    destination, where one will eventually be/go

dɨdɛn     pronoun     class 3 motile singular pronoun

etɨŋi     verb        tɨŋi without source, in imperfect and visual/zero

eyaŋi     verb        aŋi without source, in imperfect and visual/zero

eyombi    verb        ono without source, in imperfect and non-visual

ɛmɛmɛ     verb        ɛmɛmɛ in imperfect and visual/zero

geya      adverb      denotes a failed or counter-factual result

giya      adverb      denotes ability or possibility

kade      noun (3)    image, reflection

kɛksi     adjective   deceptive, misleading

ki        mood        hortative mood. With reported evidential, denotes a mild obligation or permission. Let’s or let.

kine      noun (4)    land, country, earth

kyɛgɛ     noun (4)    attempt, trial

kyɛɬ      prep        subordinating clausal preposition, denotes a conditional

le        pronoun     first person motile singular

leva      adjective   first person possessive, my or mine

leya      pronoun     first person sessile singular

madu      noun (4)    world, reality, life

mese      noun (3)    plain, prairie

mɛɬodo    adjective   unusual, weird, wonderful

mo        prep        phrasal preposition, denotes a benefactor

mu        noun (3)    thing, action, deed, event

na…na   conj        clausal conjunction ‘and’, ‘while’, ‘when…then’

nadi      determiner  all, every

nɛnsi     conj        therefore

ni…ni   conj        phrasal conjunction ‘and’

ŋɛha      pronoun     indeclinable reflexive pronoun

ŋyɛtɛt    noun (4)    rule, law, advice

o         prep        phrasal preposition, denotes a location

omɛtɛ     verb        ɛmɛmɛ in perfect and visual/zero

ono       verb        ono in imperfect and visual/zero

otɛllɛ    verb        tɛndɛ in perfect and inferred, allows an adjective in destination slot that describes the subject

pa        prep        phrasal preposition, denotes a possessor

sono      noun (2)    mind

syɛɬɛ     noun (4)    sleep

taɬasono  noun (4)    confusion, insanity, chaos

telele    adjective   new, strange

tɛpa      prep        phrasal preposition, denotes lack, ‘without’

tɨŋe      verb        tɨŋi in imperfect and reported

tut       prep        subordinating clausal preposition, denotes a result or a purpose, ‘that’, ‘then’, ‘so that’, ‘in order to’.