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Noun Forms

This lesson discusses special forms specific to nouns.  This includes the process of turning a non-noun word into a noun, using numbers as nouns in equations, and constructing proper nouns of more than one syllable.

Non-nouns Becoming Nouns

Any syllable that follows a noun prefix (even another affix) is considered a noun.  This process is often used to turn verbs and numbers into nouns.  A word that has become a noun may take only affixes appropriate for nouns.  Aside from the required noun prefix, this includes noun suffixes and unary suffixes.  Verb prefixes, verb suffixes, and preposition prefixes must be dropped from the base word (though affixes themselves may also become nouns).

In most cases, nu (nuh, "indefinite") is the chosen prefix.  This reflects the general concept conveyed by the word, or "the act or condition of being":

  • The act of taking something: numSz (n'marz, "indefinite take")
  • The number three: nuqy (n'thee, "indefinite three")
  • Plurality: nuvu (n'vuh, "indefinite plural")

If a verb or verb suffix appears immediately after a preposition, the verb or verb suffix becomes a noun just as if it had been preceded by the nu (nuh, "indefinite") noun prefix; the word nu (nuh, "indefinite") is then called an implied word.  As with any noun, the verb or verb suffix may not have a verb prefix, and may only be followed by noun suffixes and unary suffixes.  Other examples of implied words are in the Prepositions II lesson.

Numbers have special meaning with certain noun prefixes.  For example, the noun prefix Qu (dthuh, "a") creates an "ordinal" number, such as "first", "tenth", or "last".  This is described in the (basic) Numbers lesson.

Compound prepositions and compound numbers may become single nouns.  However, they must adopt a noun suffix at the end.  (Compound prepositions are only required to do this if they are composed of more than one preposition word.)

If a noun suffix is not adopted, only the first syllable will be recognized as the noun.  The suffix zy (zee, "resulting") is used for this purpose if no other suffix is appropriate.  This common in numeric equations, as discussed in the Numeric Equations section of this lesson.  Here are examples with and without a suffix, illustrating the difference:

  • Clockwise direction: nuYixyWujzy (n'yih-shee-wuhch-zee, "indefinite around above right resulting")
  • Bypassing, to the above-right of: nuYi xyWuj (n'yih shee-wuhch, "indefinite around above right")
  • The number thirty-five: nuqyYgzy (n'thee-yohw-zee, "indefinite three five resulting")
  • Five number 3's: nuqy Yg (n'thee yohw, "indefinite three five")

When verbs become nouns, the default meaning is "the act of doing".  This is similar to the "gerund" form of the verb in English, as in the sentence "I enjoy swimming."

Noun suffixes such as sr (sur, "operator") and  zy (zee, "resulting") can change the meaning of a verb that has become a noun.  This is common with zy (zee, "resulting"), which makes the noun mean "the product or result of this action".  Here are some examples:

  • This act of creating: RuXw (r'zhooh, "this create")
  • The creator:  RuXwsr (r'zhooh-sur, "this create operator")
  • This creation (the created thing): RuXwzy (r'zhooh-zee, "this create resulting")

Forms of the verb are discussed in more detail in the Verb Forms lesson.

Numeric Equations

Primal is a conversational language.  Unlike most natural languages, Arabic numbers are not integrated into Primal.  The font for Primal script intentionally does not contain Arabic digits, so numbers must be written out the long way.

Although mathematical equations are best expressed using mathematical symbols, sometimes a Primal speaker may wish to talk about numbers and equations.  Numbers used to describe equations must first become nouns by taking the nu (nuh, "indefinite") noun prefix.  Binary operators like "multiply" or "exponent" are verbs.  The subject is the first argument, and the direct object of the verb is the second argument.  The preposition pw (pooh, "to-target") yields the result:

  • 3 - 2 makes 1: nuqy mij su nukw pw nuRw. (n'thee mihch s'n'kooh pooh n'rooh, "indefinite three subtract containing indefinite two to-target indefinite one.")

The preposition preposition pw (pooh, "to-target") is only appropriate for simple results, where there is only one natural answer.  To express a numerical equality relationship in more complex equations (as in, 2 + 2 = 2 * 2) , the QwXr (dthooh-zhur, "more-than lacking") preposition is used instead.  This will be shown in a later example.

Rather than using letters, variables are constructed from user-defined pronouns.  This process is described in the Special Phrases lesson.

The word mB (moi, "reciprocal") is used as a shortcut to describe fractions.  Any number that contains mB (moi, "reciprocal") is treated as its reciprocal value.  A number that enumerates mB (moi, "reciprocal") acts as a numerator, by multiplying the fraction's value:

  • 1/2: nukw su mB. (n'kooh s'moi, "indefinite two containing reciprocal.")
  • 1/k: Wwk su mB. (woohk s'moi, "it-k containing reciprocal.")
  • -4/5: nuJUYgzy su mB kwx. (n'jul-yohw-zee s'moi koohsh, "indefinite negative five resulting containing reciprocal four.")

Note that "negative five" required the suffix zy (zee, "resulting") because it is a compound number.  Any compound number that becomes a noun must end in a noun suffix, as described in the Non-nouns Becoming Nouns section of this lesson.  The reciprocal method is only used for simple fractions, since a reciprocal's numerator can only be a number.  More complicated fractions should be formed by using the verb mFj (maych, "divide").

Percentage can be specified by numbers containing ,lFT (layts, "parts-per").  By default, this word usually means "percent", but it can be enumerated to imply a different division of parts:

  • 7%: nupU su ,lFT. (n'pul s'layts, "indefinite seven contains parts-per.")
  • 7 parts per million: nupU su ,lFT Rw Qrqwx. (n'pul s'layts rooh dthur-thoohsh, "indefinite seven contains parts-per one radix-exponent six.")

Be careful not to write ,lFT pU (layts pul, "parts-per seven") when you mean seven percent!  Just like the reciprocal, the proper way to use this word is by placing it in a su (suh, "containing") phrase.

Parentheses (to establish the order of operation) can be a little tricky.  Correct precedence can be set by carefully ordering the words and grouping them with branching sentences, an advanced process described in the Special Phrases lesson:

  • (f+k) * 2 = 2f + 2k: Yy mF su nukw QwXr Yy Rw. Wwf mi su Wwk. Wwf kw mi su Wwk kw. (yee may s'n'kooh dthooh-zhur yee rooh. woohf mih s'woohk. woohf kooh mih s'woohk kooh, "that multiply containing indefinite two more-than lacking that one.  it-f plus containing it-k.  it-f two plus containing it-k two.")

Note that when numbers are used as numbers rather than as nouns, such as Wwf kw (woohf kooh, "it-f two"), the number automatically takes precedence as a multiplier of its noun.  This is because numbers modify nouns before phrases do and before the nouns can be used, as described in the (basic) Grammar lesson.

Extended Proper Nouns

Primal differs from most natural languages in that it does not allow simple nouns to concatenate into larger nouns.  This is common in English: consider "toothpaste", "blackboard", and "bedroom".  In Primal, these would either be single words, or written as phrases:

  • toothpaste: mbm (moarm, "toothpaste")
  • blackboard: YiN su feJ (ying s'fehj, "writing-board containing black")
  • bedroom: Qon (dthon, "bedroom")

But what if something's name was "Blackboard"?  A naive attempt at translation would fail:

  • "Writing Board" is black: kuYiN su feJ (k'ying s'fehj, "proper writing-board containing black")

The problem is that the noun prefix ku (kuh, "proper") only applies to the word that immediately follows it (although if noun suffixes follow the first syllable of a proper noun, they are also considered part of the name).  A similar problem exists with proper nouns that are formed phonetically from a name in another language, if the name has multiple syllables when translated into Primal.

The solution is the noun suffix zy (zee, "resulting"), which bears special meaning when modifying a proper noun.  If zy (zee, "resulting") is the noun suffix for a proper noun, it begins an extended proper noun.  When used this way, the zy (zee, "resulting") suffix should always be the first noun suffix after the base noun.

If you're in the middle of an extended proper noun, a second zy (zee, "resulting") immediately ends the noun, no matter where it appears.  This second zy (zee, "resulting") can be followed by noun suffixes which modify the entire proper noun.  (By default, noun suffixes don't modify a proper noun--they're part of the name.)

An extended proper noun made by phonetic translation will be written without word breaks, while an extended proper noun composed of Primal words will be written with word breaks.  In writing, the first zy (zee, "resulting") is followed by a word break, and the second zy (zee, "resulting") is preceded by a word break.  Here are some examples of extended proper nouns:

  • "Samantha" (translated phonetically): kusumzy manqu zy (k'sum-zee man-th'zee, "proper [suhm] resulting [man-thuh] resulting")
  • "Blackboard": kuYiNzy su feJ zy (k'ying-zee s'fehj zee, "proper writing-board resulting containing black resulting")
  • The other "Blackboard": kuYiNzy su feJ zymU (k'ying-zee s'fehj zee-mul, "proper writing-board resulting containing black resulting other")

Special Cases With Extended Names

The suffix zy (zee, "resulting") may be used twice in succession to create an "empty" extended proper noun.  This is done exclusively to allow noun suffixes to modify proper nouns.  Even zy (zee, "resulting") can be used to modify a proper noun in this way:

  • "Wolf": kuWG (k'wohl, "proper wolf")
  • "Lone Wolf": kuWGpy (k'wohl-pee, "proper wolf only")
  • the only "Wolf": kuWGzy zypy (k'wohl-zee zee-pee, "proper wolf resulting resulting only")
  • the product of "Wolf": kuWGzy zyzy (k'wohl-zee zee-zee, "proper wolf resulting resulting resulting")

If zy (zee, "resulting") is used to make an extended proper noun, and the base noun is a compound preposition or compound number, then zy (zee, "resulting") should appear at the end of the compound preposition or compound number as it normally would.  Use an "empty" extended proper noun form if there's nothing more to add:

  • The number 35: nuqyYgzy (n'thee-yohw-zee, "indefinite three five resulting")
  • The name "Thirty-Five": kuqyYgzy zy (k'thee-yohw-zee zee, "proper three five resulting resulting")
  • The name "Red Thirty-Five": kuqyYgzy su Hix zy (k'thee-yohw-zee s'khhish zee, "proper three five resulting containing red resulting")

If a compound preposition or compound number would appear within an extended proper noun, it cannot take zy (zee, "resulting") as its suffix.  The next most common suffix for this purpose is ny (nee, "naturally"), if no other suffix is appropriate.

Although zy (zee, "resulting") can modify a proper noun, it can never appear as part of a proper noun unless it is the base noun: "Resulting", kuzy (k'zee, "proper resulting").  Getting around this limitation requires florid speech in those rare cases that a literal name translation requires zy (zee, "resulting"):

  • open door: jcf su jozy (chuof s'cho-zee, "door containing open resulting")
  • "Open Door Policy": kuWVTzy su jcf xu jo xu sP zy  (k'weerts-zee s'chuof sh'cho sh'sair zee, "proper policy resulting containing door phrase+containing open phrase+containing result-of resulting")

The second example uses several implied words, as discussed in the Prepositions II lesson.  In the second example, the second  zy (zee, "resulting") can't modify jo (cho, "open"); all it can do is end the proper noun.  The noun sP (sair, "result-of") is instead used to change the meaning of this word from "opening" to "open or opened".  This is discussed in greater detail in the Verb Forms lesson, which follows.

It's rare for extended proper nouns to be long or complicated, but it is possible.  Extended proper nouns can even include multiple sentences, using ,. (period).  Consider the extended proper noun to be a "world within a world", grammatically speaking.  When an extended proper noun begins, the base noun is treated like the subject of a new sentence, and all previous conversation is forgotten.  When an extended proper noun ends, all the grammar inside the noun is forgotten and the entire extended proper noun is treated as though it were a single word.  So if a new sentence begins inside of an extended proper noun, it counts as a new sentence only from within the proper noun.

It is not possible to nest one extended proper noun inside another.  Any instance of zy (zee, "resulting") immediately ends the extended proper noun.

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