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Derivational Morphology

So far we have looked at both morphology, referring to the form of words, and syntax, concerning mostly the uses of words or forms, and their relation to each other. More specifically, we dealt with inflectional morphology, the variety of changes in form that a particular word will take, reflecting grammatical categories like case, number, person, mood, tense, and voice, but never changing the part of speech or even creating a new word. Derivational morphology is concerned with how words are modified to create entirely new words.

Çomyopregi has a number of methods to form new words from roots, expanding their meanings or changing their part of speech, either by compounding or by the addition of affixes. Affixes have no independent existence, but only exist to modify roots. They are known as prefixes when they are joined to the front of a root, and suffixes when they are joined to the end. For any resulting word, its part of speech is determined by the final element, whether a suffix or another root. (When deriving and inflecting words, remember that derivational elements are added before inflectional elements are.)

In compounding or the addition of affixes, changes may occur to the root, and so to correctly form new words it is essential to know and use the rules of combination. The key is to know the combining form.

The Combining Form

In addition to their declensional forms, nouns and adjectives have a form known as the combining form, used in compounding and the addition of suffixes. This is the same as the nominative singular for vowel-stems, except that nouns in -a have -o. For consonant stems, remove the ending of the genitive singular and add -o-. The combining forms for various words are:

For verbs, the various stems (especially the present stem) are the basis for the addition of suffixes. Sometimes changes occur to the stem — a common change is when the -e- in present stems becomes -o- in a combining form when it compounded with a following noun or adjective. Particular suffixes usually attach to particular stems. In affixation, they are treated just like any combining form. In fact, you may view verb stems as combining forms.

Several rules of combination govern what happens when affixes or other words are added to a combining form or bare verb stem. When an element begins with a consonantal u-, it changes to -v- when another element (combining form, or prefix) is added in front of it. When the following root or suffix begins in a vowel other than u-, a final -o- of the combining form is dropped, and a final -i- becomes -y-. (The same changes occur that happen in the genitive case of i-stems — if the genitive is -eyos, the combining form becomes -eyo-).

Some Common Types of Derivation

Noun to Adjective

This is one of the most productive types of derivation. Most adjectives are formed by adding suffixes to the combining form of nouns. The most common of these is -nyo, with the sense of "related to, characteristic of, having the qualities of".

Another common suffix is -to, indicating possession of something.

Noun or Adjective to Verb

In order to make a verb from a nominal part of speech, the derivational affix you use should depend on the type of verb you are to create. If the verb to be created is to be transitive, add -á- to the combining form and conjugate it like ducám. If it is to be intransitive, add -é- to the combining form and conjugate the verb like gavém. Most verbs made from adjectives are intransitive and stative (they indicate the state or condition of having the quality of the adjective, e.g. rúdho, "red," rúdhém, "be red (blush)"). However, in the case of transitive verbs from adjectives, if it has the meaning of causing someone or something to have quality of that adjective, then add -pé- to the combining form and conjugate it like moripém. This is what is known as a causative verb (see below for more about causatives).

Of course, there are a number of words that do not behave in this neat manner. For example, there is the transitive é-stem verb oquém, "see," which is related to the i-stem noun oqui, "eye". (If things were perfectly regular, we would have oqui and oqueyám.) These are exceptions, though, and are relics of earlier stages of the language; new verbs are not formed this way.

Verb to Noun or Adjective

Some of the process of word-formation has been covered already, especially in the section on gerunds and participles — infinitives are essentially verbal nouns, and participles are essentially verbal adjectives, although they have some special functions. To form gerunds and participles, please click on the link in the previous sentence. However, there are also more types of verb-derived nouns and adjectives that are pure nouns and adjectives, not infinitives or participles.

One way to make a noun from a verb is to add to the participial stem the ending -o, and the resulting noun is declined as an s-stem. To make a noun that names the instrument of an action, add -ça to the present stem of the verb (but thematic stems drop their stem vowel and add -i- first). To make a noun that names the doer of an action, add -ir to the participial stem. Both the resulting nouns are declined like regular nouns of their classes.

Some Other Important Affixes

-issá: added to a noun, it gives the name of the female equivalent.
levón, "lion"; levonissá, "lioness"

-llo: forms diminutives, adding the meaning of "small" or "less intense" to something. Sometimes it has an endearing sense.
cato, "cat"; catollo, "kitty, kitten"

-pé-: added to the present stem of a verb, it forms a new causative verb (one that indicates that one caused someone else to do something, e.g. "to happen"/"to cause to happen"). All such verbs are conjugated like moripém. (Moripém is in fact a causative verb: "kill" = "cause to die.")
ayrem, "burn"; ayropém, ayropeya, ayropéto, "ignite, set fire to"

-tyón: makes abstract nouns from adjectives (occasionally verbs), naming the quality of the adjective.
ócu, "quick, fast, swift"; ócutyón, "speed"

-vir/-gón: forms a noun designating the source or producer of something. Added to the name of a fruit, it gives the name of the corresponding tree.
abelovir, "apple tree"

in-: prefixed to a word, it negates it, like the English "un-".

And with this, we are done with the Concise Grammar of Çomyopregi. Yes. That's it. (Well, there are still the appendices.) Enjoy your newfound understanding and appreciation of a unique people and culture that don't exist!

Reguándóy domum
© 2005 by Damátir Ando