The Yeh Language

Grammar (Work In Progress)


Word Order

The default word order in Yeh is Verb-Subject-Object (VSO)

tswáhna rómë kentsói drink 1sg-AGT water "I drink water."

Noun Phrase

Determiners (with the exception of quantifiers) always preceed the noun they refer to. Adjectives and quantifiers follow the noun they modify, with quantifiers appearing last. Prepositional phrases modifying the noun appear after any adjectives quantifiers.

nga séngoh prau tómva that rock dark three "those three dark rocks."
séngoh rah tóre ne rock two in_front_of-AN 3SG.AN "the two rocks in front of them"


In a verb phrase with two arguments, the agentive marker -më identifies the agent, and the unmarked argument is the patient.

kóvëh nemë oi cut 3SG.INAN "They cut it"

In a verb phrase with one argument, the agentive marker is generally optional. When it does appear, it indicates volition. Some intransitive verbs never appear with an agent-marked argument. But this is based on semantic criteria (some actions are impossible or unlikely to do voluntarily).

otowáe tai sleep 2.SG "You fell asleep"
otowáe táimë sleep 2.SG-AGT "You went to sleep"

-më is an enclitic. It affixes to the last word in a noun phrase, regardless of word type.

kyóngbo anái lose team "The team loses"
kyóngbo anáimë lose team-AGT "The team throws the game"
kyóngbo anái muhínmë lose team red-AGT "The red team throws the game"



Yeh has 3 personal pronouns: ro (I), tai (you), and ne (he/she/singular they). The demonstrative determiners oi (this) and nga (that) can also be used pronominally in the inanimate third person. Plurality can optionally be indicated with quantifiers, as in tai rah (you two), or ne voi (they, lit. "he/she/they all"). Inclusivity can be indicated with conjunctions, as in ro na ne (they and I).

Plural nouns

Number is not marked on the noun, and not obligatory when it is irrelevant or can be inferred from context. Number can be expressed with quantifiers, which come after the noun and other adjectives modifying it. Qualifiers include:


Yeh uses prepositions to express spatial and temporal relationships. Prepositions take only one complement, which is always a noun phrase.

Prepositions appear before their complement and must agree with the complement in animacy. This is indicated with either -e (animate) or -o (inanimate). If the base ends in a vowel, -e may be realized as -ye or -we, and -o may similarly be realized as -yo or -wo. This is consistent with the general tendency in Yeh to epenthesize vowel sequences (/ai/,/au/, and /oi/ are realized as diphthongs, /j/ is inserted between front-to-back or central-to-back sequences, as well as between /uu/, and /w/ is inserted between all other vowel sequences.)

Prepositional phrases appear after the noun or verb they modify.

Prepositions can appear standed (without a complement), if the complement can be inferred from context.

Prepositions include:

tóro séngoh in_front_of-AN rock "in front of the rock"
swáiye ne behind-AN 3SG.AN "behind them"
bihnyói némë oikáte na hwë krávo find 3SG.AN shelter CONJ go towards.INAN "They found a house and went towards it"


Alienable posession is marked on the posessed noun with the suffix -nem (realized as -em if the base ends in a nasal consonant.) The noun or noun phrase representing the posessor is placed after that of the posessed. This type of construction is used to show ownership and temporary posession, as well as assign responsibility.

oikátenem ro shelter-POSSD 1SG "my house"
bátnanem tai problem-POSSD 2SG "your problem"

The preposition myën is used to express posession of qualities, parts of a whole, and states of being.

hwim myë́ne ro hair belonging_to-AN 1SG "my hair"

The preposition krav is used to express social relationships.

tswumëny krave ro friend to-AN 1SG "my friend"

It is not customary (and somewhat taboo) to describe geographic features, wild animals, or wild plants as posessed, so translating phrases such as "my island" into Yeh requires some circumlocution ("the island I live on").

← back to home.