The Yeh Language

Grammar (Work In Progress)

Glossing Abbreviations

Gloss Meaning
1 First person
2 Second person
3 Third person
A Agent
AN Animate
CNJ Conjunction
INAN Inanimate
POSSD Posessed State



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 unnecessary or can be inferred from context. Number can be expressed with quantifiers, which come after the noun and other adjectives modifying it. Quantifiers include:


Word Order

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

tswáhna ró=më kentsói drink 1=A water "I drink water."

Noun Phrase

Determiners (with the exception of quantifiers) always precede 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 and quantifiers.

nga séngoh prau tómva that rock dark three "those three dark rocks."
séngoh rah tór-e ne rock two in_front_of-AN 3.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 né=më oi cut 3.AN=A 3.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).

otowá tai sleep 2 "You fell asleep."
otowá tái=më sleep 2=A "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 anái=më lose team=A "The team throws the game."
kyóngbo anái muhín=më lose team red=A "The red team throws the game."

When the last word in the noun phrase is another noun, this can introduce ambiguity, though it may be clear to speakers in context.

otowá tswúmë́ny rah tór-e ró=më sleep friend two in_front_of-AN 1=A "The two friends in front of me went to sleep."


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 that they modify.

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

Prepositions include:

tór-o séngoh in_front_of-INAN rock "in front of the rock"
swáiy-e ne behind-AN 3.AN "behind them"
bihnyói né=më oikáte na hwë kráv-o find 3.AN=A shelter CNJ 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.

oikáte-nem ro shelter-POSSD 1 "my house"
bátna-nem tai problem-POSSD 2 "your problem"

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

hwim myë́n-e ro hair belonging_to-AN 1 "my hair"

The preposition krav is used to express social relationships.

tswúmëny krav-e ro friend to-AN 1 "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.