lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary

Unit 15. Dependent clauses: introduced with conjunctions

Do not grieve, o Momos, said Isis, for fate has commanded the alternation between darkness and light. – The evil is, replied Momos, that they believe to be in the light.

(Giordano Bruno. Spaccio de la bestia trionfante)


This unit is concerned with finite clauses that are introduced with subordinating conjunctions (‘conjunctional clauses’), the most interesting one being ‘that’. This conjunction is not to be confused with the relative pronoun ‘that’ in ‘the poodle that barked loudly’ (or the one in the previous sentence). A good test is to replace the clause with a noun or pronoun, most suitably ‘it’, which only works if ‘that’ is a conjunction (but see below).

I assume that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet.I assume it.

The difference between a non-finite clause (infinitive or gerund) and a ‘that’-clause can be purely grammatical (‘I want Jacopo to write about his trumpet’, but ‘I assume that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet’). However, ‘that’ frequently refers to the fact as opposed to the action – if I see that someone painted the bridge green, I don’t actually need to have seen them doing it –; so ‘that’-clauses are good candidates for topicalising the affirmative case (which should remind you of the chapter on the preposition ‘about’ in the previous unit).

The outer case of the object that translates the clause is mostly, but not always, an accusative.

tìlp veì srálby iakopykè saxùfy vèU.I assume that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet.
assume-cons1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 write-aff-acc2 Jacopo-acc-nom3a trumpet-ins-acc3 PIn−2-nom-ben4.
xOàj veì àshy.I hear him reading.
hear-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 read-fact-acc2.
xOìlj veì àlshy.I have heard (that) he is reading (= about his reading).
hear-cons1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 read-aff-acc2.
láxt zaraqyhtè qáxky ftnÌky zèU.Zarathustra wants his eagle to fly.
want-fact1 Zarathustra-acc-nom2a fly-fact-acc2 eagle-acc-acc3a PIn−3-nom-ben4.
láxt zaraqyhtè qálxky ftnÌky zèU.Zarathustra wants that his eagle flies.
want-fact1 Zarathustra-acc-nom2a fly-aff-acc2 eagle-acc-acc3a PIn−3-nom-ben4.

Recall the chapter on factive vs. affirmative translation of modal adverbs: if you see ‘Luckily for us, Zarathustra speaks’ as an inversion of ‘We want Zarathustra to speak’, use the factive; if ‘We want that Zarathustra speaks’ comes closer to your meaning, the affirmative is appropriate. Likewise, ‘Possibly, Zarathustra will speak’ is either a compound of ‘Zarathustra’s speaking is possible’ (factive) or of ‘It is possible that Zarathustra will speak’ (affirmative).

The conjunction ‘that’ can be omitted in many English finite clauses. This has no effect on meaning or translation. We will include ‘that’ in the following examples for clarity.

Topicalisation of ‘that’-clauses

As with infinitives and gerunds, the consecutive case can be topicalised to express perfects and stative verbs. The second sentence is an example of a ‘that’-clause that’s not translated as an accusative object (but with a persuasive).

dnìls veì pìlty.I am certain that this has been made correct.
(Compare this example, where the inner cons was explained with an abstract noun.)
I am certain that this is right.
certain-cons1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 correct-cons-acc2.
fràx mìlOl lorenzyÌ ilfcrÌyr.Verb of emotion: the reason for me being astonished is Lorenza’s being-psu small.
(Lorenza not absorbed for clarity)
I am astonished that Lorenza is small.
I am astonished at Lorenza(’s) being small / at her smallness.
astonish-fact1 make-cons-psu2 Lorenza-acc-acc3 up-cons-1/4-acc-ext3.

The contrast between different cleft sentences is much more pronounced when they appear in ‘that’-clauses.

gìljd sklèy bÌe.It is good that it’s her who is building the bridges.
It is good that she builds the bridges.
good-cons1 bridge-nom-acc2 female-acc-nom3.
gìljd sklÌy bÌe.It is good that it’s the bridges she builds.
It is good that she builds the bridges.
good-cons1 bridge-acc-acc2 female-acc-nom3.

Topicalising a plot case to mark a receptive verb is as problematic as with gerunds.

Still more subtleties

The agent of the dependent clause can also be expressed as an object of the main predicate, similar to the modal verb constructions, albeit with the same disadvantages. Formally, these alternatives are similar to English ‘I see that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet’ (‘Jacopo’ is part of the dependent clause: Who is writing about his trumpet?) vs. ‘I see Jacopo writing about his trumpet’ (he is an object of the main verb: I see whom?).

dmàt veì srálby iakopykè saxùfy vèU.I see that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet.
see-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 write-aff-acc2 Jacopo-acc-nom3a trumpet-ins-acc3 PIn−2-nom-ben4.
dmàt veì iakopykè sràlby saxùfy zèU.
see-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 Jacopo-acc-nom2 write-aff-acc2 trumpet-ins-acc3 PIn−3-nom-ben4.

‘that’-clauses, like gerunds, can appear as attributes (‘the assumption that Jacopo is writing’). These might be confused with relative clauses (‘the poodle that barked loudly’) but aren’t, if you think it over: the difference is that you can say ‘The assumption is that Jacopo is writing’, but not **‘The poodle is that barked loudly’.

The Lemizh translation shows unmistakably that they are conjunctional clauses:
tìlp veì srálby iakopykè saxùfy vèU.my assumption that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet
assume-cons1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 write-aff-acc2 Jacopo-acc-nom3a trumpet-ins-acc3 PIn−2-nom-ben4.

Some ‘that’-clauses (let’s call them judgemental) claim reality. Yes, this means inversion.

gìljd wálxy zìe.
good-cons1 speak-aff-acc2 PIn−3-dat-nom3a.
wáx viè gÌjdal.The fact of your speaking is good.It is good that you speak.
speak-fact1 PIn−2-dat-nom2a good-acc-aff2.

Direct and indirect speech

With the Lemizh pronouns and ways of expressing time, there is no need to change the reference point in indirect speech, as in English ‘I will visit my uncle’ → ‘You said that you would visit your uncle’. The pronouns will automatically point to the right person.

maRstprá veÌ frÌsi e.(‘visit’ is a verb of movement.)I will visit my uncle.
visit-temp-front-fact1 PIn−2-nom-acc2a uncle-acc-dat2 PIn−3-nom-nom3.
waRxprilká viè <maRstpráy veÌ frÌsi e>.You said, ‘I will visit my uncle’.
speak-temp-front-cons-opposition-fact1 PIn−2-dat-nom2a visit-temp-front-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-acc3a uncle-acc-dat3 PIn−3-nom-nom4.
waRxprilká viè maRstpráy veÌ frÌsi e.You said that you would visit your uncle.
speak-temp-front-cons-opposition-fact1 PIn−2-dat-nom2a visit-temp-front-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-acc3a uncle-acc-dat3 PIn−3-nom-nom4.

In some situations it can still be helpful to use pronouns of a higher level.

waRxprilkà másty ziÌ frÌsi cié prÌaR e.He said that you will visit your uncle.
speak-temp-front-cons-opposition-fact1 visit-fact-acc2 PIn−3-dat-acc3a uncle-acc-dat3 PIn−4-dat-nom4 front-acc-temp3 PIn−4-fact-nom4.

If the cited sentence is topicalised, its English translation technically changes from a direct object to one with the preposition ‘about’. This difference is rarely important, except to distinguish ‘I say “trumpet-fact”’ (‘qualifying information’) from ‘I talk about the word “trumpet-acc”’.

Another technicality occurs if the predicate of the quoted sentence is a compound: it then turns into a modified object expressing ‘You said that you would do something that was not visiting your uncle’, ‘You said that you would do something that should be visiting your uncle’, or the like. This is another case of mod-raising; if undesirable, the predicate has to be uncompounded.

If several consecutive sentences are part of a citation, it is often enough to include the inquit (wàx. ‘You/he/… says’) in the first sentence; the remaining sentences will still be consistent with Rule Seven (because they are more hypothetical than reality). If necessary, the inquit can be repeated with the pronoun à., or the sentences can just be enclosed in quotes.

Playing around with dependencies and reality: weak linking

When dependent clauses get more complicated, we need to be more careful with the objects. Have a look at the persuasives in the following examples.

wáx iakopykè avÌ crURÌjgOl2.Jacopo says because of the vitamins, ‘She eats it’.
Because of the vitamins, Jacopo says that she eats it.
speak-fact1 Jacopo-acc-nom2a eat-fact-acc2 vitamin-acc-psu2.
wáx iakopykè àvy crURÌjgOl3.Jacopo says, ‘She eats it because of the vitamins’.
Jacopo says that she eats it because of the vitamins.
speak-fact1 Jacopo-acc-nom2a eat-fact-acc2 vitamin-acc-psu3.
àv crURyjgÒl wýxa iakopÌke.She eats it because of the vitamins, as Jacopo says.
eat-fact1 vitamin-acc-psu2 speak-acc-fact2 Jacopo-acc-nom3a.

In the first example, the vitamins are the reason for Jacopo’s statement. In the second one, they are the reason for her eating and have a lower degree of reality. In the inverted sentence, both the eating and its reason are still part of his statement, but now reality is claimed for the eating.

We can move the vitamins out of Jacopo’s statement into a separate sentence, and refer back to ‘eat’, the accusative object of the first sentence, with a pronoun. We also need a pseudo-desorption here.

wáx iakopykè àvy. là fyà crURÌjgOl.The content of speaking (= she eating it) is an action that happens because of the vitamins.Jacopo says that she eats it. She does that because of the vitamins.
speak-fact1 Jacopo-acc-nom2a eat-fact-acc2. do-fact1 PIIn−1-acc-fact2 vitamin-acc-psu2.

This phrasing again claims that her eating is real, because the factive bracket in the second sentence confers reality on it. If this is undesirable, we can re-combine the two sentences by making the pronoun a motivational object (ul, motivational context, agent-centered) or a contextual object (yl, causal context, action-centered) of the first sentence, reducing its degree of reality again. This is called weak linking. Weak linking is also used simply to keep related information in the same sentence without including it in the scope of the predicate – as for reporter’s insertions (editorialising) in indirect speech.

wáx iakopykè avÌ àul crURÌjgOl.The eating-because-of-vitamins is the motivational context of the speaker (i.e. Jacopo’s).Jacopo says that she eats it; [she does that] because of the vitamins.
speak-fact1 Jacopo-acc-nom2a eat-fact-acc2 PIIn-fact-mot2 vitamin-acc-psu3.
wáx viè màsty frysí ìyl mèvi.You said that you would visit your uncle, a wise man [I may add].
speak-fact1 PIn−2-dat-nom2a visit-fact-acc2 uncle-acc-dat3 PIIn-dat-ctx2 wise-nom-dat3.

The pronoun used for weak linking often has to refer directly, not via the predicate, because otherwise its objects’ outer cases would refer to the wrong stem.

For the sake of completeness, modified objects should be mentioned. To express objects of the modifier, we uncompound it and use weak linking instead. (Here, the linking pronoun is not the motivational/contextual object.)

àv crURyjgwÌxOl.She eats it because of what are said to be vitamins.They say that she eats it because of the vitamins [and not because of the taste].
eat-fact1 vitamin-acc-speak-acc-psu2.
àv wáxyl iakopykè vày crURÌjgOl.She eats it; Jacopo says because of the vitamins.Jacopo says that she eats it because of the vitamins [and not …].
eat-fact1 speak-fact-ctx2 Jacopo-acc-nom3a PIn−2-fact-acc3 vitamin-acc-psu4.

Clauses with other conjunctions

A number of subordinating conjunctions need other cases than the accusative, sometimes in combination with temporal and spatial verbs. These include ‘because, as, since’ (caus/psu; ‘as’ in its temporal sense temp; ‘since’ in its temporal sense ing), ‘so that’ (cons), ‘in order that’ (fin), ‘when, while’ (temp/eps), ‘until’ (egr), ‘where’ (loc/ill), ‘after’ (prÌ. front-acc1. plus temp), ‘before’ (prilkÌ. front-cons-opposition-acc1. plus temp). To specify that an event occurs ‘while’ another is in progress, we need an ‘inside’ construction plus temp, or just eps if the agent has chosen the progressing action as a background or ‘stage’.

zdàs dmatmàqkar keltÌje.He sat down where he could see the pendulum.
seat-fact1 see-fact-opportunity-fact-loc2 pendulum-acc-nom3.
à làxtOl dmàty.He sat down there because he wanted to see it.
PIIn-fact1 want-fact-psu2 see-fact-acc3.
dmàt keltyjè natkàeR gonòrtxy.(… since the opposite of the museum opening had happened.)He had been looking at the pendulum since the museum closed.
see-fact1 pendulum-acc-nom2 open-fact-opposition-fact-ing2 museum-sce-acc3.
dmàt keltyjè prilkÌaR RìRjge.He saw the pendulum before he died.
see-fact1 pendulum-acc-nom2 front-cons-opposition-acc-temp2 live-egr-nom3.
qàzg jnyÌ zdìlsaR|oR tÌar.He thought about everything while he was sitting there.
think-fact1 1/1-acc-acc2 seat-cons-temp/eps2 this-acc-loc3.
là frOlxà gmilkÌaR zdìlse.Something astonishing happened while he was sitting there.
do-fact1 astonish-psu-fact2 outside-cons-opposition-acc-temp2 seat-cons-nom3.
hrá oRwxyfè ávil zeè vèi.The poodle is yelping, so that I’ll feed it.
yelp-fact1 poodle-acc-nom2a eat-fact-cons2 PIn−3-nom-nom3a PIn−2-nom-dat3.

Conjunctional clauses in negated sentences sometimes characterise the negator, so we cannot compound. This is commonly the case with causal clauses.

nà zdasÌ pilflìlxtOl2.Wanting to stand is the reason for not sitting down.He didn’t sit down because he wanted to stand.
not-fact1 seat-fact-acc2 stand-cons-want-cons-psu2.

See the second paragraph about modified objects for ‘She doesn’t eat it, because of the vitamins’, an analogous situation with a causal object.

The conjunction ‘lest’ (fin) has a negative sense and is translated accordingly.

zdàs dmatnàUl gwÌi.He sat down not to be seen by anybody. (neg-raising)He sat down lest he be seen (by anybody).
seat-fact1 see-fact-not-fact-fin2 any-acc-dat3.

To capture the indefinite sense of ‘whatever, whereveretc., we use a partitive bracket with the indefinite pronoun gwà..

qazggwàt gwÌar dmàtyn keltÌje.I’m able to think at any place from those where I can see the pendulum.I’m able to think wherever I see the pendulum.
think-fact-teach-fact1 any-acc-loc2 see-fact-partacc3 pendulum-acc-nom4.

The conjunction ‘(al)though’ corresponds to the preposition ‘despite’. ‘as … as’ and ‘than’, as well as ‘if’ and ‘unless’, are discussed in the following two chapters. The conjunction ‘whether’ is treated towards the end of the next unit.

Comparison clauses

Comparison clauses translate like ‘enough’ and ‘too’ (with ‘as … as’ corresponding to ‘enough’ and ‘than’ to ‘too’), the clause’s predicate replacing the modal verb. The first and second of the following examples contain an inversion of nená yhwÌ fÌta. run-fact1 horse-acc-acc2a fast-acc-fact2.. The third is akin to ‘enough people’.

tÌp dmitì fàtyn nenáy Ìhwy.There is what spectators (‘seers’) assume of the speed of the horse’s running.The horse runs as fast as spectators assume.
assume-acc1 see-dat-dat2 fast-fact-partacc2 run-fact-acc3 horse-acc-acc4a.
fattàcd nenáy yhwý tÌpym dmìti.
fast-fact-more-fact1 run-fact-acc2 horse-acc-acc3a assume-acc-qualacc2 see-dat-dat3.
nená yhwÌ fattÌcda tÌpym dmìti.The horse runs faster than spectators assume.
run-fact1 horse-acc-acc2a fast-fact-more-acc-fact2 assume-acc-qualacc3 see-dat-dat4.
dáxt kapulytè rÌwy myjdÌn nagwrýhy cèni.Capulet commanded an amount of wine liked to be drunk by us.Capulet ordered as much wine as we liked to drink.
must-fact1 Capulet-acc-nom2a amount-acc-acc2 wine-acc-partacc3 drink-fact-like-acc-acc3 PIn−4-partnom-dat4a.

‘that’-clauses are also used in comparisons. While ‘so … that’ introduces a consecutive clause in English, it can be translated in a simpler way. This example is constructed like ‘The horse runs as fast as spectators assume’.

frÒlx mìlOln lorenzyÌ ilfcrÌyr.There is what astonishes me of Lorenza’s smallness. (Lorenza not absorbed)Lorenza is so small that I am astonished.
I am astonished that Lorenza is so small.
astonish-psu1 make-cons-partpsu2 Lorenza-acc-acc3 up-cons-1/4-acc-ext3.

Conditional clauses

‘if’ and ‘unless’ are conjunctions that introduce finite clauses of the conditional type, ‘unless’ being simply the (nonexistence) negation of ‘if’. Factual conditionals express conditions the truth of which is unverified, whereas counterfactual ones express a condition that is known to be false. The former is translated with a modal verb or a verb of (un)certainty, the latter with the negator. Both types use weak linking of a causative clause. The phrase ‘go mad’ is a pseudo-desorption.

làxt àshy srýby iakopÌke, àul xÙlskel wrytplÌki.I want to read about what Jacopo has written; [this will be] because I find the password. (factual)I will read Jacopo’s texts if I find the password.
want-fact1 read-fact-acc2 write-acc-acc3 Jacopo-acc-nom4a PIIn-fact-mot2 search-fin-caus3 password-acc-dat4.
dnilsbvìl lày kreRgwá àyl xUlsknÙlel wrytplÌky.It could be that I go mad; [this will be] because I don’t find the password. (factual; with neg-raising)I will go mad unless I find the password.
certain-cons-1/2-cons1 do-fact-acc2 mad-ing-fact3 PIIn-fact-ctx2 search-fin-not-fin-caus3 password-acc-acc4.
àshy srýby iakopÌke, àyl xÙlskel wrytplÌki.I don’t read about what Jacopo has written; because I’d find* the password. (counterfactual)I would read Jacopo’s texts if I found the password.
not-fact1 read-fact-acc2 write-acc-acc3 Jacopo-acc-nom4a PIIn-fact-ctx2 search-fin-caus3 password-acc-dat4.

* The causative clause in the counterfactual example is not negated: if I did read the texts (pronoun), the cause would be the discovery of the password (the pronoun’s causative object).

Here the significance of weak linking is undeniable:

Alternative translations

Main and dependent (causative) clauses can be exchanged, the main clause becoming a consecutive. The pseudo-desorption in this example is necessary because ‘search’ is topicalised.

làxt xÙlsky wrytplykí làul vyà àshil srÌby iakopÌke.I want to find the password; so that I will read Jacopo’s texts.If I find the password, I will read Jacopo’s texts.
want-fact1 search-fin-acc2 password-acc-dat3 do-fact-mot2 PIn−2-acc-fact3 read-fact-cons3 write-acc-acc4 Jacopo-acc-nom5.

Reducing the ‘if’-clause to an (instrumental or causative) object can sometimes simplify a conditional sentence.

làxt àshy srýby iakopÌke, àul wrytplÌku.I want to read Jacopo’s texts; with the password.
want-fact1 read-fact-acc2 write-acc-acc3 Jacopo-acc-nom4a PIIn-fact-mot2 password-acc-ins3.

Here is a shortcut for conditional clauses containing a judgement (‘It is good if …’, ‘It would be a pity if …’). It is none other than the judgemental ‘that’-clause from further up this unit, but before inversion.

gìljd wálxy zìe.It is good if you speak.
good-cons1 speak-aff-acc2 PIn−3-dat-nom3a.

Conditional constructions that have a reduced degree of reality as a whole don’t need weak linking: ‘Maybe it works if you plug it in = by plugging it in-ins’.

Logically speaking, the above constructions express entailment or implication (I find the password → I read Jacopo’s texts): they do not rule out the possibility of me reading the texts without having found the password. Equivalence (I find the password ↔ I read Jacopo’s texts) can be expressed with an exclusive ‘or’ construction combined with a negation.

rÌ xÙlnskyn wrytplykí ashnànyn srýby iakopÌke.One from the set {finding the password, not reading Jacopo’s texts} exists.
Either I find the password, or I won’t read Jacopo’s texts.
I will read Jacopo’s texts if and only if I find the password.
one-acc1 search-partfin-partacc2 password-acc-dat3 read-fact-not-partfact-partacc2 write-acc-acc3 Jacopo-acc-nom4a.

Clauses that do not express a causal relationship are also phrased with ‘or’, inclusive or exclusive: ‘If Umberto Eco didn’t write Foucault’s Pendulum, someone else did = Umberto Eco or someone else wrote Foucault’s Pendulum’. Some ‘if’-clauses, especially universal and other certain statements, are better translated as temporal clauses: ‘Computers only work if = when(ever) they get electricity’.

Clauses dependent on topicalised verbs

A dependent clause of a topicalised main predicate is subject to the considerations on objects of topicalised verbs. Temporal clauses in combination with topicalised main predicates (especially causal and temporal) make typical examples. Sometimes we can avoid a pseudo-desorption.

là pUlà sràlby.I answer that he is writing.
do-fact1 ask-fin-fact2 write-aff-acc2.
là zdilsà cmàbviR dnùe.The consequence of sitting down is an action; this action stopped when his legs (tool noun) hurt.He sat there until his legs hurt.
do-fact1 seat-cons-fact2 hurt-fact-egr2 walk-ins-nom3.
zdìls natkàaR gonòrtxy.The time of sitting down is the closing of the museum.He had been sitting there since the museum closed.
seat-cons1 open-fact-opposition-fact-temp2 museum-sce-acc3.

Compare the last example with ‘He had been looking at the pendulum since the museum closed’ above: the difference is that ‘look’ is not a stative verb.

Circumstantial clauses

Circumstantial clauses are participial clauses at the beginning (or end) of a sentence that typically convey causal or temporal meaning. Don’t translate them as participles but as conjunctional clauses, because otherwise the type of relation to the main clause would get lost. They can be placed near the front of the sentence to present information in the same order as we do in English.

A causal circumstantial clause in a negated sentence is an object of the negator, as described above.

wáx yxè dnìlsOl gwiltý elefyÌ cnÌi.The man, because [he] was certain of [his] knowledge, spoke to the child about elephants.Convinced of his knowledge, the man spoke to the child about elephants.
speak-fact1 male-acc-nom2a certain-cons-psu2 teach-cons-acc3 elephant-acc-acc2 child-acc-dat2.
smajnà yxì wàxoR elefyÌ cnyí djáy viì qkrÌdjy.It is not true that the man remembered to buy the artichokes when he was speaking to the child about elephants.Speaking to the child about elephants, the man forgot to buy the artichokes.
remember-fact-not-fact1 male-acc-dat2 speak-fact-eps2 elephant-acc-acc3 child-acc-dat3 sell-fact-acc2 PIn−2-dat-dat3a artichoke-acc-acc3.
nà wáxel yxè elefyÌ cnyí smàjy djáy qeì qkrÌdjy.Because he was speaking to the child about elephants, it is not true that the man remembered to buy the artichokes.Speaking to the child about elephants, the man forgot to buy the artichokes.
not-fact1 speak-fact-caus2 male-acc-nom3a elephant-acc-acc3 child-acc-dat3 remember-fact-acc2 sell-fact-acc3 PIIn−2-nom-dat4a artichoke-acc-acc4.

For the second example, a translation parallel to the third (‘When he was speaking to the child about elephants, it is not true that the man remembered to buy the artichokes.’) would work, but it would prevent compounding and thus make it unnecessarily verbose.


làxt àshy srýby iakopÌke, xÙlskel wrytplÌki.Solve
want-fact1 read-fact-acc2 write-acc-acc3 Jacopo-acc-nom4a search-fin-caus2 password-acc-dat3.
I am sure it is good if Jacopo speaks.Solve
It cost me more (= I paid more) than I’d hoped.Solve
Being rather tetchy, the tortoise is shouting at me although I fed it.Solve
I stopped reading as I heard a noise.
(two possibilities with different meanings)
Jacopo recommends her to eat it because of the vitamins [instead of the taste].Solve
Maybe the baby’ll eat if you sing to it.Solve
Why doesn’t the translation of the above sentence mean ‘Maybe the baby eats because of the singing’? How is this sentence translated?Solve