Dependent Clauses

A dependent clause is a clause that is unable to stand meaningfully by itself.

They are marked by having the auxiliary at the end.

Subordinate Clauses

A subordinate clause is one introduced by a subordinating conjunction in the matrix clause. A comma is used to separate a subordinate from its matrix. The conjunction is placed on the side of the main clause that is closest to the subordinate. The clauses can be put in either order.

ʔusu ru lu’i fu daru’i, ba pu’iba miku ra’u.

ʔusu ru lu’i fu daru’i, ba pu’iba miku ra’u.

1int prs;gno love 2tra because, 2gen ball red prs;sta

“I love you because your ball is red.”

Ba pu’iba miku ra’u, daru’i ’usu ru lu’i fu.

Ba pu’iba miku ra’u, daru’i ’usu ru lu’i fu.

2gensecond person genitive ball red prs;sta, because 1int prs;gno love 2tra

“I love you because your ball is red.”

Here the subordinate clauses are underlined. The cause is subordinate to the effect.

Adverbial Clauses

An adverbial clause is one which acts as an adverb.

Location Adverbial Clauses

The word ma where is often used as a prefix for adpositions used as clausal conjunctions.

ʔusu lu’i fu madi, ba pu’iba miku qixa.

1intfirst person intransitive love 2trasecond person transitive where-up, 2gensecond person genitive ball red pst;dyn.

“I loved you before your ball turned red.”

Content Clauses

A content clause is one that takes the place of a noun. They begin with the complementiser li and are separated from the matrix clause by commas. The auxiliary is not optional, and is given a low tone. Quote marks are used around reported speech, replacing the complementiser.

Li ’usu kissajisuka kugibiʔasi’a rusa, qixa puttu pa’illu.

1intfirst person intransitive fight-ideology datdative-east-Asia pst;gnopast gnomic, pst;dynpast dynamic 1ablfirst person ablative think-psv

“That we’ve always been at war with Eastasia, is what I think.”

Suma qixa kululani ’icipu, li quhu pixi kuffa dissudanagi qixa.

1trafirst person transitive pst;dynpast dynamic datdative-queen speak-question, com 3ani;traanimate third person transitive 1datfirst person dative give new-decree pst;dynpast dynamic

“I asked the queen if she had pardoned me.”

Mihu qixa ’i, “Filli mulisa ra’u?” pst;dynpast dynamic speak “2intsecond person intransitive fool prs;stapresent stative?”

“He said, ‘Are you a fool?“

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses specify the noun by describing it. They are placed before the modified noun, beginning with the relativiser xiku. The auxiliary is not optional, and is given a rising tone. Only subjects can be relativised. Other cases must be promoted to subject.

Xiku lu’i kimilli pi lulani.

rel love king pst;stapast stative queen

“The queen who loved the king.”

Xiku kalukimilli lu’illu pi lulani.

rel ablablative-king love-psv pst;stapast stative queen

“The queen whom the king loved.”

Any noun can be modified by relative clauses, including pronouns and proper nouns.

Xiku lu’i kimilli pi mihu.

rel love king pst;sta

“The one who loved the king.”

Xiku lu’i kimilli pi Sa’imi.

rel love king pst;stapast stative Caemi

“Caemi, who loved the king.”


If the only argument of the relative verb is the modified noun, the auxiliary is appended to the verb, and the relativiser is dropped. This auxiliary is given a mid-tone.

kiluqupi kimilli the walking king

dissu’ahatira’u mulisa the happy fool

bibuna suma the occasionally complaining me

ka’ucani Ra’ani the jumping Ryan

Similar are intransitives utilising the case markers and other adpositions.

kalukimilli nuhu the letter from the king

kululani nukki the strawberry for the queen

di’i’uja pa the thing under the table


If the only arguments of the relative verb are the modified noun and a direct object, the verb is appended to the object, with or without the auxiliary, and the relativiser is dropped.

xucipura cula

ZCor / yl

xuci-pura cula

feather-change egg

“hatching egg.”

hafidasira’u kipu

hFdSru / Ko

hafi-dasi-ra’u kipu

grass-eat-prs;stapresent stative ox

“the grass-eating cow.”

Questions and Requests

Questions and requests are main clauses, but have the same auxiliary movement as dependent clauses, and thus are treated alongside them here.


An interrogative is a question sentence. There are two main types, polar questions and content questions.

Polar questions are one in which the answer is “yes” or “no”. They are spoken with a rising tone on the last word. The auxiliaries are used to answer.

Lulani lu’i suma ra’u?

queen love 1tra prs;sta

“Does the queen love me?”

Ra’u. / Ji. / Ruku. / Pi.

prs;sta prs;neg fut;gno pst;sta

“Yes.” / “No.” / “She will.” / “She did.”

Lulani nimalu ji?

queen bear prs;negpresent negative

“Is the queen not a bear?”

Ji. / Ra’u. / Na.

prs;neg prs;sta prs;itr

“Yes, she’s not.” / “No, she is.” / “Sometimes.”

If the focus of the question is on a particular noun, that noun receives a falling tone.

Content questions are ones in which the expected answer is more than just “yes” or “no”. These questions have a rising tone on the main question word itself.

Lulani lu’i sama ra’u?

queen love what prs;stapresent stative

“Whom does the queen love?”

Kimilli / Fu / Cu’i

king / 2trasecond person transitive / nothing

“The king.” / “You.” / “No one.”


Lulani questions regarding quantity or measurement are phrased thus:

Filli kikasama huba rusa?

2intsecond person intransitive interval-what breathe pst;gnopast gnomic?

“How old are you?”

Kikasama kuʔirri’a (kiluqu) ru?

over-what datdative-Irìa (walk) prs;gnopresent gnomic?

“How far is it (to walk) to Irìa?”


An imperative statement is an order.

Second person imperatives are directed to the listener. In these, the subject is dropped, a future auxiliary in the appropriate aspect is suffixed to the verb, and this verb complex is moved to the end of the sentence. These are spoken with a falling tone on the auxiliary.

Lulani lu’iruku!

queen love-fut;gnofuture gnomic

“Love the queen!”