The syllable is the basic unit of meaning in Primal. A syllable is either two letters long (consonant-vowel) or three letters long (consonant-vowel-consonant). The consonants ,W (w), ,R (r), ,Y (y), ,h (h), and L (l) never end a syllable, though vowels that sound similar to these consonants may.
Syllables ending in ,u (uh) are often slurred together with the following word when spoken, but the individual units are still called "syllables".
A simple word is a syllable appearing all by itself.
A compound word is formed when:
An extended proper noun or a long number may be divided by spaces as if it consisted of multiple words, but it is still considered a single compound word.
Unlike many languages, Primal nouns do not form compound words by joining with other nouns. Instead, phrases are used to link nouns together.
Words are separated by spaces in writing. The upswing line does not appear at the beginning of words, except for words beginning with L (l).
Parts of Speech
Words are divided into five parts of speech: noun, verb, preposition, number, and affix.
Nouns represent all kinds of things, such as people, places, and ideas. Nouns are the fundamental part of speech in Primal. Pronouns are a special kind of noun that stands in for other nouns, so the meaning of a pronoun depends on context.
Verbs represent an action taken by a noun. All Primal verbs are "transitive", meaning they can act upon another noun. Many intransitive English verbs such as "sleep" are actually nouns in Primal.
Prepositions are used to start phrases which link one noun to another noun or verb. Prepositions describe the relationship between the words they link.
Numbers are a special part of speech. Numbers modify nouns, verbs, prepositions, and preposition prefixes to describe number and order.
Affixes never appear by themselves; they are only found in compound words. Affixes are divided into six types, based on where they can appear in a sentence. This is described in the Affixes section of this lesson, below.
Simple words are the same part of speech as their syllable. If a compound word begins with a noun prefix, it is considered a noun, as described in the Nouns lesson. Otherwise, the compound word is the same part of speech as its syllable or syllables, other than affixes. Numbers that modify a preposition prefix are considered to be part of a compound preposition, while numbers that modify nouns, verbs, and prepositions retain the "number" part of speech.
All sentences take the following format, where square brackets indicate optional parts:
Sentence: Topic [Predicates] .
Topic: Noun [Phrases]
Predicate: Verb [Phrases]
Phrase: Preposition Noun
Numbers may follow any noun, verb, or preposition. In rare cases, numbers may modify a preposition prefix, in which case they become part of a compound preposition. Number formation follows special rules described in the Numbers lesson.
A compound sentence is a set of consecutive sentences that are linked together with the Yy (yee, "that") pronoun. This is discussed in more detail in the (advanced) Special Phrases lesson.
Affixes come in six flavors: noun prefix, noun suffix, verb prefix, verb suffix, preposition prefix, and unary suffix.
Noun prefixes appear before nouns as determiners, much like the English words "some" and "the". Only one noun prefix may appear before a noun, because anything preceded by a noun prefix becomes a noun, even another noun prefix.
Noun suffixes follow nouns to describe uniqueness and other relationships. Multiple suffixes are allowed.
Verb prefixes appear before verbs to set verb tense and aspect. Only one verb prefix may appear before a verb.
Verb suffixes follow verbs to describe verb mood. Multiple suffixes are allowed.
Preposition prefixes appear before prepositions to redirect the targets of phrases to object nouns. Only one preposition prefix may appear before a preposition. These are discussed in the Noun Phrases lesson.
Unary suffixes may appear after most kinds of words, even after other affixes, or embedded in compound words. They modify whichever syllable they immediately follow.
Order and Word Relevance
Whenever multiple words of the same type follow one another, the relevance of the words diminishes as the sentence progresses from left to right (lexical order). This means:
Whenever multiple words or phrases modify one another in sequence, modification is performed in reverse lexical order, from right to left. This means a word or phrase is modified by everything that targets it before it modifies its target. This is relevant when unary suffixes modify other suffixes, and when phrases modify the objects of other phrases.
This order also relevant when considering different types of modifier. For example, prefixes and suffixes modify a word first, followed by the word's number (for enumerated words), and finally by phrases that target the word.