Archive:Q'eb language

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Q'eb language
EthnicityQ'eb people
Language family
Q'eb languages
  • Q'eb language
Official status
Official language inEbo Nganagam, some areas

Q'eb language is a language spoken mostly by the Q'eb people living in the Ebo Nganagam and Kema Mi Amo. It is a written language, as opposed to the Ebo Nganagam language which is typically not written.



Bilabial Labio-dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t tʼ d k kʼ g q qʼ
Fricative s z ʃ ʒ χ ʁ
Affricate t͡s t͡sʼ d͡z t͡ʃ t͡ʃʼ d͡ʒ
Approximant ʋ l j
Trill r


Front Back
Close i u
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Near-open æ
Open ɑ


Q'eb language's phonotactics allows long possible sets of consonant clusters, which are rather highly common in the onset. It is not uncommon for Q'eb words to have four or five words, and words can have as much as eight onset clusters, as observed in the word, gvdʁzhvrnan (/gʋdʁʒʋrnɑn/, "we did not make someone imagine it").



Q'eb language is a highly-synthetic agglutinating language with polypersonal agreement and nouns that inflect for cases and numbers. The language follows a subject–object–verb word order.


Nouns in the Q'eb language inflect for cases and numbers, with the number preceding the cases. There are 14 nominal declensions, inflecting for seven cases and two numbers (singular and plural), all of which is suffixing.

Plurals are made using the suffix -ed, like in galk "tree" whose plural is galked. When it is used in polysyllabic words, like in eshgal "world", the /a/ or /e/ in the final syllable is dropped beforehand, to form its plural form, eshgled. Monosyllabic words—mostly those concerning people—can have "umlaut" plurals, such as in le "person" whose plural is li "people".

Below are examples of the declensions, using the words zag "fish" and eshgal "world" as the example words:

  • Nominative – none: zag, eshgal; pl. zaged, eshgled
  • Ergative – i (or y after vowels): zagi, eshgali; pl. zagedi, eshgledi
  • Locative – ma: zagma, eshgalma; pl. zagedma, eshgledma
  • Vocative – o: zago, eshgalo; pl. zagedo, eshgledo
  • Genitive – a: zaga (or zga), eshgla; pl. zagda, eshgalda
  • Dative – ak: zagak (or zgak), eshglak; pl. zagdak, eshgaldak
  • Ablative – as: zagas (or zgas), eshglas; pl. zagdas, eshgaldas

The last three cases, that is the genitive, dative, and ablative, follows the declination rules of the plurals, and cancels out the plurals' vowel-dropping rules when present. As such, in polysyllabic words, /a/ and /e/ in the final syllable is dropped upon declination. Plurals always precede the nominal cases.


In the Q'eb language, adjectives are more similar to nouns, and like nouns, adjectives can take case endings:

  • Nominative: -
  • Ergative-Instrumental: -i(-i becomes -y after vowels)
  • Genitive: -a(the /a/ or /e/ in the last syllable of the stem is dropped in polysyllabic words)
  • Dative: -ak(the /a/ or /e/ in the last syllable of the stem is dropped in polysyllabic words)
  • Locative: -ma
  • Ablative: -as(the /a/ or /e/ in the last syllable of the stem is dropped in polysyllabic words)
  • Vocative: -o

Adjectives agree with the nouns they modify in case. For example:

  • svam zug - svam zug - sweet.NOM dream.NOM - a sweet dream
  • kami ley - kam-i le-i - tall-ERG person-ERG - (with/by) the tall person
  • balak t'achkak - bal-ak t'achek-ak - big-DAT stone-DAT - to the big stone

Besides, Adjectives agree with the they modify in number. For example:

  • kam le - kam le - tall person.SG - the tall person
  • kamed li - kam-ed li - tall-PL person.PL - the tall person
  • balak t'achkak - bal-ak t'achek-ak - big-DAT stone-DAT - to the big stone
  • baldak t'achekdak - bal-d-ak t'achek-ed-ak - big-PL-DAT stone-PL-DAT - to the big stone


The Q'eb language has a complex verbal morphology, the verb has polypersonal agreement and other inflections.

The verbal negation requires the subjunctive mood

The affixes of verbs follow the following order:

  • Negation-preverbal subject agreement-preverbal object agreement-causative-(root/stem)-voices-TAM-postverbal object agreement-complementizer/question

Below are the verbal agreements:

  • Negation: k-/g-



  • 1st sg: t-/d-
  • 2nd sg: v-
  • 3rd sg: -s/-z
  • 1st pl: t-/d- + -i(-i becomes -y after vowels)
  • 2nd pl: v- + -i(-i becomes -y after vowels)
  • 3rd pl: -si/-zi/-i(-i becomes -y after vowels)


  • 1st sg: r-
  • 2nd sg: v-
  • 3rd sg: χ-/ʁ-/s-(before or after velars)/z-(before or after velars)/0-
  • 1st pl: vd-/r- + -i(-i becomes -y after vowels)
  • 2nd pl: v- + -i(-i becomes -y after vowels)
  • 3rd pl: -i(-i becomes -y after vowels)


  • passive: -p/-b/-v/-uv
  • reflexive/middle: -t/-d/-et

Causative: sh-/zh-(before voiced consonants)/shi-(before silibants)


  • imperfective: -a(with the the Stem Vowel Alternation)
  • subjunctive: -an(with the the Stem Vowel Alternation)
  • desiderative(want to...): -ke
  • necessitative(should/must...): -o(with the the Stem Vowel Alternation)
  • potential(can/may): -me
  • optative: -ob(with the the Stem Vowel Alternation)

Complementizer: -ka/-ga

Question: -m/-em

Stem Vowel Alternation

Some verb forms require the umlaut or elision of stem vowels, which is called the Stem Vowel Alternation. Below is the rule of the Stem Vowel Alternation:

  • /a/ > 0
  • /æ/ > /i/
  • /ɛ/ > 0 or /i/, depending on the stem
  • /i/ > /i/
  • /ɔ/ > /u/
  • /u/ > /u/

However, when the stem ends with two or more consonants, and the stem vowel is /a/ or /ɛ/, the stem vowel does not undergo elision, but undergo metathesis with the following consonant.

For example:

  • χmradz
    he made it
  • χmradmes
    he can/could made it
  • ksmrdans
    he did not make it
  • gvdʁzhvrnan
    we didn't make someone imagine it.
  • gari vkas?
    gari v-ak-a-s?
    how 2.SG-go-IPFV-3.SG
    how are you?(lit: how does it go to you?)
  • tχsmlaχtoy
    we should involve in it.

Derivational morphology

-t is a common suffix for creating adjectives.

evidence shows that some adjectives and nouns are created by ablauting the stem vowel, but this seems to be an unproductive process.


Word Order

  • Basic Word Order: Subject-Object-Verb(SOV)
    • However, the word order is flexible, and under the influence of the Ebo Nganagam language, the use of the Subject-Verb-Object(SVO) order is not uncommon nowadays.
  • Adpositions are postpositions.
  • Adjectives, demonstratives, numerals, possessors precede the nouns they modify.
  • Negations precede the words they negate.


There's a split ergativity in the nominal alignment pattern of the Q'eb language, it is triggered by the aspect of the sentence. In the Q'eb language the perfective aspect and the optative mood trigger an ergative-absolutive alignment pattern in nouns, and the imperfective aspect triggers an nominative-accusative alignment pattern:

  • le zag χtas
    le zag χ-at-a-s
    person fish 3.SG.P-eat-IPFV-3.SG.A
    the person eats/is eating the fish(imperfective)
  • ley zag χats
    le-i zag χ-at-s
    person-ERG/INSTR fish 3.SG.P-eat.PFV-3.SG.A
    the person ate the fish(perfective)

In the first example, both of the subject(le "person") and the direct object(zag "fish") are in the nominative case; while in the second example, the subject is in the ergative case, and the direct object is in the nominative case.


Conjuctions may precede or follow the clause they modify, depending on specific conjunctions.

Below are some postclausal conjunctions:

  • when: so
  • before: χam
  • after: ab