lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary

Unit 9. Sentence grammar

And this is the reason why every man should expend his chief thought and attention on the consideration of his first principles: – are they or are they not rightly laid down? – and when he has duly sifted them, all the rest will follow.

(Plato. Κρατύλος)

Caution! We have to think!

(Franz Schoberleitner)

Halfway through this tutorial, it is time we had a closer look at sentence grammar.

Lemizh does not differentiate between sentences, clauses, captions and other kinds of utterances. Every grammatical unit above the word is considered a sentence (or a sequence of sentences) and thus subject to the rules of sentence grammar. Indeed, even words are cited as one-word sentences – with a full stop at the end: sxnèz. –, as you have seen in previous units.

You already know three of the rules from unit 2. Here they are again:

One. Sentence structure

A word of level n is subordinate to the nearest word of level n−1 in front of it; the parole is of level zero.

Two. Definition of objects

An object of a word in a sentence is a word subordinate to the former, its predicate, plus all of its own objects.

There is no rule defining the word order of sibling objects. Possible reasons for deciding on an order include, but are not limited, to:

Inversion and desorption allow for even greater freedom of word order.

Three. Outer case

The outer case of the first word of an object defines its relation to its predicate’s stem via its descriptor; the outer case of a level 1 word is zero.

These are the remaining rules:

Four. Identity of action

An instance of a word stem designates a specific action.

When you instantiate (say or write) a word stem, for example the one in weaveà., you are thinking of one certain action – one of weaving in our example. This may involve the action of several weavers (as in ‘We are weaving’), the use of several threads or the production of several cloths. It need not even be temporally or spatially connected (as in ‘We are weaving every Thursday morning’). In other words, you are thinking of a certain subset of all the weaving there is. Everything referring to your instance (i.e. the word itself, its objects and relative pronouns) refers to this same subset, to this action of weaving.

Note that this set model has nothing to do with the one we encountered in the chapters on partitive cases.

Naming the same word (weaveà.) for a second time creates a second instance, which may or may not be identical to the first instance. Recall the difference between speaká wìe. ‘He is speaking to himself: the sender of speaking is the recipient of the same action of speaking’ and speaká speakìe. ‘The one being spoken to is speaking: the sender of an action of speaking is the recipient of an action of speaking, but not necessarily the same’.

Even the stem of a relative pronoun instantiates an action: one that is identical to the referred stem’s action (or to the parole).

We will sometimes informally say that weaveè. instantiates a person or a group of people when we really mean its stem instantiates the action of weaving that defines the weaver(s).

The following two rules qualify or narrow down this subset; they provide additional information about it.

Five. Completeness of cases

A case characterises the action it refers to completely with regard to its case descriptor.

When you have instantiated a word stem, you can add objects to describe its associated subset more specifically, to restrict it. For example, you could add a nominative object. If you do so, it has to name the complete sender – meaning that a nominative object ‘father’ excludes from your instance of weaveà. all weaving that is not done by father. A temporal object ‘every Thursday morning’ excludes all other times he weaves. A dative ‘wool’ … but you get the idea. In this way you can say more and more precisely what subset of all weaving you meant when you said weaveà.. (Ah yes, and restricting twinkleà. with a dative object ‘Seamus’ excludes all the twinkling light that doesn’t reach Seamus’s eyes.)

By the way, restricting a set does not necessarily mean reducing it. If father is only weaving on Thursday mornings anyway, the temporal object will not reduce the size of the set, but it will still add meaning to the sentence. Rule Seven will make this clear.

The stems of objects are in turn restricted by their predicate and its other objects: the mentioned wool can only be wool woven by father on Thursday mornings. This can be formally shown by an inversion.

However, this rule can only define an outer border for your subset. Leaving out the locative does not mean that you refer to all places where father is weaving wool every Thursday morning. Come to think of it, leaving out the nominative object of ‘wool’ (a word of level three) does not mean you refer to wool by all woolly animals. But including the nominative ‘goats’ restricts your instance of ‘wool’, which in turn restricts your instance of ‘weaving’.

The instance of weaving we have been talking about so far cannot include a group in which father is weaving, since naming the nominative object ‘father’ has already established him as the complete sender. We can, however, instantiate a new action of weaving (that is, say or write weaveà. for a second time) with the group as nominative, of which father can be a part: weaveá groupfatherÌne. ‘Grouped people, one of which is father, are weaving’. (The coordination has to equate father with a set of grouped people, not with a set of groups; therefore groupì. needs an inner dative.)

The same applies to inner case. Brackets (and coordinations) are important applications of Rules Four and Five. In the phrase manÌ speakèy., the man is the same as the speaker because both words cover the content of the same instance (Rule Four) of man-making completely; the predicate via its inner case, the object via its outer case. The inner cases of relative pronouns are also covered by this rule. Using pronouns to refer to things that have already been introduced ensures that we are referring to the same things, not to new ones of the same kind: recall these two examples.

Partitive revisited

Completeness of cases implies that Lemizh objects are inherently restrictive in the sense of English restrictive clauses (‘the man that is speaking; the speaking man [as opposed to the silent one]; Nechwatal the mechanic [as opposed to Nechwatal the cardiologist]’); contrast this with non-restrictive ones (‘the man, which is speaking; the speaking man; Nechwatal, the mechanic [the only Nechwatal I know]’). The only exceptions are cumulative brackets and coordinations. Actually, they are not exceptions at all; brackets just cannot restrict their predicate because the restriction has already been done by the predicate’s inner case. (The man is the same as the speaker.) And this is precisely the reason why we need partitive brackets to express restrictiveness: technically, they aren’t brackets because their outer case does not match their predicate’s inner case, and so this argument does not apply. The same case can be made for cumulative and partitive coordinations.

The same affair, seen from a different viewpoint: twinkleà stareèn hemÌsi. ‘Some [or possibly all] of the stars twinkle at Seamus’ differs from the non-partitive phrasing in that the stars that twinkle at Seamus are not necessarily all of the stars instantiated (Rule Four) by the word starè.. This becomes important whenever this instance of stars – but now the whole instance – is referenced for a second time, as by an object or a pronoun. The reference to the whole instance is not necessarily grammatically overt, as in the third and fourth examples.

  twinkleà starèen tyé hemÌsi.These stars are the set from which the twinklers are thought to be taken.
That which twinkles at Seamus is from the set of these stars.
Some [or possibly all] of these stars twinkle at Seamus.
twinkle-fact1 star-nom-partnom2 this-acc-nom3 Seamus-acc-dat2.
riseà starèy. twinkleà fyèn hemÌsi.The rising stars are the set from which the twinklers are thought to be taken.The stars are coming up. Some [or possibly all] of them twinkle at Seamus.
rise-fact1 star-nom-acc2. twinkle-fact1 PIIn−1-acc-partnom2 Seamus-acc-dat2.
speakè maleÌen.The men are the set from which the speaker is thought to be taken.
a speaker from the set of men
the speaking man (restrictive)
speak-nom1 male-acc-partnom2.
jirxàf sailùyn.The means of sailing is the set from which the lifted thing is thought to be taken.I am hoisting the sail.
lift-fact1 sail-ins-partacc2.

While leaving out the partitive in the speaking man example would only slightly change the meaning – maleÌ. would just instantiate a more narrow set of men –, this is not possible with the tool noun, because there is no action of sailing for which the sail is the complete means. We say there is no instantiable action. (Another example would be a single twin.)

For inner partitives, have a look at the second of the above arguments again. The first of the following examples refers to the weavers twice (once completely and once via a partitive), while in the second the reference to the whole set of causes is not overt.

  weaveá groupfatherÌne.The set from which father is thought to be taken is the weavers.
Father is from the set of weavers.
Father is weaving in a group. Father is part of a group of weavers.
weave-fact1 group-dat-nom2a father-partacc-nom2.
openà windynèl doorÌy.The set from which the wind is thought to be taken is the cause for the opening of the door.
The wind is from the set of causes for the opening of the door.
The wind opens the door.
open-fact1 wind-partacc-caus2 door-acc-acc2.

Completeness of cases is also the reason for the somewhat weird descriptors for partitive cases. The sender of an action could be taken from any number of sets, so the partitive nominative could never be a complete characterisation save for the addition of ‘thought to be taken’ to its descriptor, as this excludes all possible sets but the one the speaker is thinking of in the current context. (I have often omitted part of the descriptor, or paraphrased it, in example sentences because it is just a technicality and adds nothing to clarity.)

Six. Irrelevancy of missing objects

A missing object is equivalent to the irrelevancy of any information about its descriptor.

As explained above, woolÌ. does not necessarily denote all the wool there is. Father might be weaving only goat’s wool, but this information simply has not been included in the sentence; the nominative object ‘goat’ has been omitted. Now Rule Six demands that an object can only – and must – be omitted if the contained information is irrelevant. Typical reasons are:

Another example: 1/1Ì roomÌyn. ‘all rooms’ does not necessarily describe all rooms there are, because roomÌ. could have a missing object greenÌ.. If so, the object of 1/1Ì. would only be the ‘green rooms’ (which is, incidentally, a good example of the importance of Rule Two). Rule Six says that greenÌ. can only be omitted if it is irrelevant – so if it is missing, and it isn’t clear from context that we are speaking only about green rooms, we can safely conclude that the mentioned phrase is really intended to mean ‘all rooms there are’.

This rule works both ways: an object which does not contain relevant information must be omitted. For example, we have translated the bahuvrihi rÌjd throatÌy. throatyrÙjd. ‘one having a red throat’ as ‘redthroat’. Now redthroats are not the only beings having a red throat (robins have too), but if this information is enough to identify the species (or individual) in a given context, it must not be further qualified.

Rules Five and Six imply that every instance of a word has exactly one action, one sender, and so on: Five excludes additional senders if one nominative object is already present, and Six gives meaning to omitted objects, establishing them as a necessary part of Lemizh sentance grammar.

Seven. Degree of reality

Given an object and its predicate, the predicate is considered more real and the object more hypothetical.

By saying wantà hearày sokratÌse. ‘I want to hear Socrates’ you claim that the main predicate (‘I want’) corresponds to something in the real world, but you make no such claim about the object: we don’t know whether you are really hearing, or whether you are really going to hear Socrates. The verb ‘hear’ corresponds to something in a hypothetical (possible) world, the world of your wish. By saying believeà wantày hearày sokratÌse. ‘I believe I want to hear Socrates’ you only claim that ‘I believe’ corresponds to something in the real world, while the other two verbs, so to say, are pushed down one degree of reality. ‘want’ becomes hypothetical, and ‘hear’ even more so.

In the sentence seeà mouseÌe whiteÌy. ‘I see white mice’, the object ‘white mice’ is hypothetical as well: there is no claim that the mice actually exist. But, depending on the situation, the addressee might still justifiably conclude that the mice do exist, if there are no other good explanations such as a hallucination; but this is a question of meaning and context, not grammar. In ‘She eats it because of the vitamins’, it is possible that she only thinks there are vitamins. In ‘Lucy gets a bottle from Father Christmas’, Lucy is only as real as the mice: her existence has to be concluded from the fact that an inexistent person cannot be given a bottle. The same is true, of course, of Father Christmas and the bottle. In ‘The beaver makes lace’, the lace only exists in the hypothetical world of the beaver’s lace-making intentions until it is finished (which, again, is a conclusion from the meaning of the sentence).

This rule, finally, ensures that sentences claim something about the world. It implies that the set specified by the main predicate (as described in the previous rules) is not empty.

The set we get in this way (as well as the sets we encounter along the way) actually isn’t one in the real world but one in the speaker’s model of the real world. And it isn’t necessarily a classical set but can be fuzzy or radial. Just to be quite accurate.

Some consequences of Rule Seven:

Compounding Rule Two revisited

Per Rule Two of compounding, ‘in the relationship between the original predicate and object (modifier and head of the compound), the rules of sentence grammar are retained as far as applicable’.


Here is an overview of the puctuation marks. We already know the pauses of speech, the separators and the straight quotes.

Pauses of speech
spacespacespacespacebarely audible
comma ,,,a bit longer
full stop ...the longest one (the pause at the end of a sentence)
emphasising spacewide spacedouble space(!)have the same grammatical meanings as the ordinary pauses, but add emphasis to the preceding sentence or object; similar to an exclamation mark
emphasising comma ;;,(!)
emphasising full stop ::!
straight dash a-y--separate parts of text: letters, moræ, words, objects, sentences, paragraphs, etc., for stylistic reasons such as enhancing readability of compounds or long sentences. The straight dash is the weakest, the pointy dash the strongest separator.
round dash a~y~
pointy dash a^y^
straight parentheses (y)( )( )enclose parts of text. A sentence without the contents of the enclosure must be grammatically complete: for example, when enclosing a word, all of its objects must be contained in the enclosure as well.
The straight enclosures are the weakest (also outermost), the pointy enclosures the strongest (also innermost). The accent of the last word in front of the enclosure determines the level of the first word in the enclosure.
round parentheses [y][ ][ ]
pointy parentheses {y}{ }{ }
straight quotes <y>< >‘ ’enclose mentioned parts of text, as in ‘“Socrates” has eight letters’. This includes quotations.
round quotes ‹y(none)“ ”
pointy quotes «y»(none)“‘ ’”
short ellipsis –(none)marks omission of one or several letters, as in abbreviations
long ellipsis —(none)marks omission of one or several words


  How many different actions occur in the following sentence?
singé singìe.Solve
  Which actions do the cases in the following sentence characterise completely?
speaká wiè 3/4ÌaR.Solve
  What can you conclude from the presence of the word greenÌ. in the following sentence, apart from that we are talking about all the green rooms?
1/1Ì roomÌyn greenÌy.Solve
  Can you tell whether the beavers in the following sentences exist, and by which reasoning?
seeà beaverÌi.Solve
seeà beaverÌe.Solve
seeè beaverÌe.Solve
loveà veè seeèy beaverÌe.Solve
  Translate, and invert the translations unless inversion ban applies:
He eats nothing-acc.Solve
The sound of a piano came from nowhere-ela.Solve

Last significant change: 21 Jul 2017

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