Pu u Lamu

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Pu u Lamu
Pu u Lamu
Pronunciation[pu u lamu]
EthnicityNorth Tujuans
Native speakers~5 million  (2016)
Language family
  • Sanju-Jutean
    • Kawuio-Tujuan
      • Tujuan
        • Northern Tujuan
          • Pu u Lamu
Official status
Official language inTuju
Recognised minority language inKawui

Pu u Lamu is a Saru-Asuran language of the Tujuan branch. It is an official language of Tuju alongside Uňe Lãa and is a recognised minority language in Kawui.




Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p t t͡ɕ k
Fricative s ɕ χ h
Approximant l j w
Flap or tap ɾ


  • /n/ assimilates to the place of articulation of a following consonant, merging with /m/ before labials and being realised as [n̠ʲ] before palatals, [ŋ] before velars and [ɴ] before uvulars respectively.
  • /n, l, w, h/ palatalise to [n̠ʲ, l̠ʲ, ɥ, ç] before front vowels, /w/ is also realised [ɥ] when preceded by a front vowel in a closed syllable.
  • /h/ is realised as [ɸ] before /u/.
  • Voicless obstruents [p, t, k, ɸ, s, ɕ, ç, χ, h, t͡ɕ] are voiced [b, d, g, β, z, ʑ, ʝ, ʁ, ɦ, d͡ʑ] word medially.


Front Central Back
Close i y u
Mid ə
Near-open æ
Open a


  • Close vowels /i, y, u/ are lowered and centralised to [ɪ, ʏ, ʊ] in closed syllables.
  • Close vowels /i, y, u/ are lowered to [ɛ, œ, ɔ] when in contact with /χ/.
  • /ə/ is lowered and backed to [ʌ] when followed by /w/ in a closed syllable.
  • In casual speech /y, u/ are often elided in unstressed syllables, allowing for otherwise impermissible consonant clusters and coda consonants to occur, a phonemic contrast between the close vowels [y, u] and near-close vowels [ʏ, ʊ] and between palatalised and unpalatalised consonants, phonemic labalised consonants, and stress to shift to the last syllable. This is considered non-standard and subpar, however.


Syllable Structure

Standard Pu u Lamu has a (C)V(C) structure where only /m, n, l, j, w/ can occur in the coda. Consonant clusters can only appear at syllable boundaries and geminates do not occur except for /m, n, l/, which are analysed as consonant clusters. Two consecutive vowels cannot occur next to each other.

Pu u Lamu features vowel harmony where the front vowels /i, y, æ/ can only appear in a word together and the central and back vowles /ə, u, a/ can only appear in a word together however some loanwords do not comply to this rule.


Stress is fixed on the penultimate syllable with the exception of some loanwords.


Pu u Lamu is traditionally written in a syllbary.


Pu u Lamu is romanised as follows:

Aa /a/ Cc /t͡ɕ/ Ee /æ/ Hh /h/ Ii /i/ Kk /k/ Ll /l/ Mm /m/ Nn /n/ Oo /ə/ Pp /p/ Qq /χ/ Rr /ɾ/ Ss /s/ Šš /ɕ/ Tt /t/ Uu /u/ Üü /y/ Ww /w/ Yy /j/



Vowel Harmony

Pu u Lamu vowels are categorised as "light" and "dark", /i, y, æ/ being light and /ə, u, a/ being their dark equivalents. A word may only contain vowels pertaining to one category, with the exception of some loanwords. Vowel harmony changes how nouns, personal pronouns, and verbs inflect, as affixes must harmonise with the root, for example: papotoy ("father" in the patientive case) vs. kewiltiy ("lizard" in the patientive case) are both animate nouns declined into the same case but imploy different suffixes to match the vowels in the root. Vowel harmony also changes the form of derivational and classifier suffixes and particles, as a result most particles have two forms eg. pu and , the dark and light forms of the instrumental particle. Not all particles, however, are affected by vowel harmony, eg. ey ("in") is always ey even if the word preceding it has dark vowels, and some suffixes even cause the root to change form instead of the other way round. In loanwords that do not comply to typical vowel harmony rules, the last vowel is used to determine which suffix to use.


Nouns belong to one of two genders: animate or inanimate. Gender generally cannot be predicted from the form of a word besides some suffixes such as a the inanimate nominaliser -o/i and the agentive suffix -mu/mü (equivalent to English -er) which is always animate. Gender can, however, often be predicted from the meaning of a word as words denoting living beings are generally animate and words denoting objects are often inanimate.

Nouns are declined for three cases: agentive, patientive, and oblique, and for definitiveness. How they are declined depends on the noun's gender and whether it has light or dark vowels. They are very regular with few irregularities, although irregularities do exist.

Animate, light vowel, example word "hiy" (bird):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite hiy hiytiy hiyüyü
Definite hiyü hiytiyü hiyüyü

Animate, dark vowel, example word "tupoy" (tree):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite tupoy tupoytoy tupoyuyu
Definite tupoyu tupoytoyu tupoyuyu

Inanimate, light vowel, example word "rüy" (hair):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite rüy rüytiy rüyüyi
Definite rüyi rüytiyi rüyüyi

Inanimate, dark vowel, example word "kuw" (fingernail):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite kuw kuwtoy kuwuyo
Definite kuwo kuwtoyo kuwuyo

In a transitive sentence, the agentive case marks the agent (or subject) of the verb and the patientive the patient (or object):

Yimüw kantoyo unu.

Man.AGN.DEF fruit.PTN.DEF eat

"The man eats the fruit."

However, as Pu u Lamu is an active-stative language, either the agentive or the patientive case can mark the subject of an intransitive sentence. Which case to use depends on the degree of volition or control of the action, with the agentive marking a higher degree of volition or control and the patientive makring a lower or lack of volition of control. This can give single verbs certain nuances that would be expressed using separate words or expressions in English:

Šoyumuw kahuko.

woman.AGN.DEF sleep.PROG

"The woman is going to sleep." (by her own volition)

Šoyumutoyu kahuko.

woman.PTN.DEF sleep.PROG

"The woman is falling asleep." (by accident)

Awpumuw hühüyüyi ey püw.

hunter.AGN.DEF ground.OBL on slide

"The hunter slides across the ground."

Awpumutoyu hühüyüyi ey püw.

hunter.PTN.DEF ground.OBL on slide

"The hunter slips on the ground."

The patientive case can also be used to convey empathy:

Ona ru meyü.

GEN.2S dog.AGN die

"Your dog died." (sounds cold, like it is just a fact)

Ona rutoy meyü.

GEN.2S dog.PTN die

"Your dog passed away." (sounds more empathetic)

The oblique case is used any time a noun is not the agent or patient of a verb and the form of the oblique case depends on the gender of the noun, unlike the agentive and patientive cases.

Nouns are also marked for definiteness by a suffix which depends on gender and vowel harmony, but it is only marked on the agentive and patientive cases, not the oblique.


Verbs do not inflect for tense or number but rather for the indicative, imperative, conditional, and hortative moods and the causative and reciprocal voices. Each mood and voice has a negative, comparative and negative comparative form as well:

Light vowel, example word "yüwü" (finish)

Indicative Imperative Conditional Hortative Causative Reciprocal
Affirmative yüwü yüwü yüwüci (not used) yüwüw yüwü
Negative yüwühil yüwühil yüwücihil yüwüpil yüwüwil yüwühütil
Comparative affirmative yüwi yüwi yüwüti yüwüpi yüwüwi yüwühüti
Comparative negative yüwetil yüwetil yüwütetil yüwüpetil yüwüwetil yüwühütetil

Dark vowel, example word "kampu" (walk)

Indicative Imperative Conditional Hortative Causative Reciprocal
Affirmative kampu kamkampu kampuco (not used) kampuw kampuhu
Negative kampuhol kamkampuhol kampucohol kampupol kampuwol kampuhutol
Comparative affirmative kampo kamkampo kamputo kampupo kampuwo kampuhuto
Comparative negative kampatol kamkampatol kamputatol kampupatol kampuwatol kampuhutatol