The Yeh Language

Yeh Syntax

Word Order

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

tswáhna nó=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 sengóh prau tómva that rock dark three "those three dark rocks."
sengóh rah prónyim-e ye rock two in.front.of-AN 3.AN "the two rocks in front of them"

Verb Phrase


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

kóvëh yé=më oi cut 3.AN=A 3.INAN "They cut it."

The agentive marker has several allomorphic variations. When following words ending in a nasal consonant, =më is realized as =ë. In words ending in [ə], =më is realized as =m.

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).

ótoma im sleep 2 "You fell asleep."
ótoma ím=ë sleep 2=A "You went to sleep."

The agentive marker 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=ë 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.

ótoma tswúmëny rah prónyim-e nó=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 a variety of relationships, especially spatial and temporal ones. 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).

Prepositional phrases typically appear after the word they modify. But phrases modifying verbs are more flexible: they can optionally appear at the end of the clause, following the verb, subject, and any objects. While this may introduce some ambiguity, it can make long verb phrases easier to parse.

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

sengóh swák-e im rock near-AN 2 "the rock near you"
ivíseh tór-o báhwo picture partition "the picture on the wall"
bihnyói yé=më oikáte na hwë ók-o find 3.AN=A shelter CNJ go towards-INAN "They found a house and went towards it."

Refer to Preposition Inventory with Examples for a complete list of prepositions, and their meanings.

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