Jutean inflection

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Jutean inflection is not extensive, being limited to case suffixes and negation for nouns and mood, trigger, voice, gerund and negation for verbs.



Nouns have one of three genders or noun classes, either Common, Abstract/immaterial or Wilderness. Common includes everything related to daily life in a village or city, humans, domesticated animals, pets, harmless animals and things made by humans. Abstract/immaterial is largely self-explaining, used for ideas and concepts, intangible as well as unknown things (e.g. in space) or sometimes for generic terms. Wilderness includes everything that has to do, or can be found with the jungle, the ocean or anything else seen as "wild". This includes animals, plants as well as some inanimate items. It can also be used in a more poetic way, for example for the subconscious, the "wild, untamed" part of the mind.

The noun class is mostly predictable if you either know the meaning of a word or the spelling of it, however there are exceptions, especially in the case of zero derivations that extend the meaning of a word but keep the noun class, as in the case of 'dovi' (tower) having the immaterial/abstract noun class because it was derived from 'dovi' (height).

Gender Common Abstract (-i) Wilderness (-u)
Noun dova (tree) dovi (tower, height) dovu (jungle tree)

The noun class determines which pronoun is used to refer to an object, except in the case of humans and other sapient beings, animals in general and plants, as those have their own pronouns. Furthermore, some words, particularly a number of adpositions decline by gender.


Nouns also decline for three cases, with some exceptions. As a rule, names of languages (like tahiva a net, 'Coastal Jutean') don't decline, and the same is true for most nouns forming a temporal adverbial phrase, like in vuni 'at the beginning', though this is not followed by all speakers and has been a topic of contention.

The direct case more or less equals the absolutive or nominative (depending on the trigger used), where as indirect and oblique roughly correspond with the direct and indirect object respectively, however they can also have other functions. Most notably, words answering the question "where to?" require the indirect case, whereas the oblique one is used for inalienable possession, relationship or authorship.

If the declined word has more than five syllables because of the case ending, the ending can become a particle directly following the noun, iti for the indirect case and ede for the oblique case.

Case Direct Indirect Oblique
ending in consonant dovan (forest) dovaniti dovanede
ending in vowel saini (person, mind) sainiti sainide



Verbs in Jutean (always ending in -o) are usually sorted into two main categories, minor (always intransitive verbs such as unergative and many unaccusative verbs) and major verbs (which can be both transitive and intransitive), as Jutean has a mixed morphosyntactic alignment combining split-S ergativity with the Austronesian alignment. Aside from the two main categories, there is a smaller category of “mixed” verbs that combines characteristics of the two main categories, and a number of verbs that are syntactically irregular.

Minor verbs

The first category, minor verbs, refers to verbs which can take no direct object (indirect objects introduced by an adposition can however be added) and are therefore always intransitive. Often, they usually imply at least a vague sense of agency, such as verbs of motion, like to ('go'), ato ('come') or static, like nisaido ('feel energized'), though there are some other ones, like mihinido ('sleep') or moo ('meditate'), known sometimes as "unergative verbs" in English.

Many verbs classified in English as "unaccusative verbs" (verbs that take no agents, where the subject is only an experiencer) are also in this category, such as no ('live, exist'), however, a lot are not, and there is no easy rule to determine whether one such verb belongs to this class.

In any case no verb in this category can ever convey a properly patientive or passive meaning, unless an additional appropriate verb is used as auxiliary to create a sentence with a causative, such as noito mihinido ('be made to sleep', literally 'be led to sleep').

Major verbs

Most verbs belong to this second class, which is therefore, and for allowing verbs to take direct objects, called the class of major verbs. In other words, these verbs can be intransitive or transitive.

They are also called ergative verbs, since prototypically they behave a lot like the "ergative verbs" of English, such as 'to break' in 'The door broke' and 'I broke the door', conveying either a patientive meaning (resembling a passive sentence) in intransitive sentences or an agentive meaning in transitive sentences.

An example in Jutean is hemo ('to eat'):

Hemo fal. They are all eaten.
Hemo fal kiove. They all eat some­thing.

In some cases, a non-passive translation is more appropriate for some intransitive sentences. This is e.g. the case with ilhoko (primary meaning: ‘to ban, outlaw’), where the intransitive version can be understood to mean ‘to break the law’ rather than ‘be banned’ or ‘be outlawed’, although depending on context this translation might be applicable, too.

Ilhoko ta. I break the law. (‘I am banned’)
Outlaw 1S

Ilhoko ji. This is outlawed.
Outlaw this.ABST

Ilhoko ta ji. I outlaw this.
Outlaw 1S this.ABST

The default dictionary translation of an ergative verb is the agentive one, specific intransitive meanings are marked with "IT" in dictionaries.

Some meanings are instead marked with a "T" for transitive, which signifies that this meaning is used exclusively in transitive sentences. Among them is for example the fuumo meaning to learn about. A lot of secondary meanings of daho (base meaning: 'to accommodate, trap'), such as 'to encompass', 'to make room', to name a few, are transitive.

Daho ta he na haad. I (will) make much room for you.
Make_room 1S IDR 2S much

Mixed verbs

The third category has verbs that behave like minor verbs in some circumstances, but like major verbs in other ones. For example, toheno ('to return, go back, reflect') behaves like a minor verb in sentences where the subject is animate, but like a major verb when the subject is inanimate. However, like other minor verbs it can’t take a direct object and is necessarily intransitive.

Toheno ta (ude vailitade li taniti). 'I return (with a vehicle to my home).'
return 1S (with vehicle-OBL towards 1S-place-IDR)
Toheno nova. 'The animal returns.' return animal
Toheno vailita. 'The vehicle is/was returned.' return vehicle

Irregular verbs with specific auxiliary usages

The fourth category covers verbs that are syntactically irregular and so do not fall in any of the other categories. Depending on transitivity, context and amount of verbs in a sentence they can act either like a minor or a major verb, and in addition to that also have a specific auxiliary usage. The auxiliary usage is activated when the verbs are followed by one or more other verbs, and operates with different syntactic rules than those. Among the most important ones are memo (primary meaning ‘to say’), several mental verbs such as saiho (primary meaning 'to think'), as well as other ones such as foo (primary meaning ‘to open’).

The different meanings of these verbs can be categorized by transitivity and usage as regular or auxiliar verb.

  • The base transitive meaning (or transitive meaning I) is used if an oblique or direct object or direct speech is present.
  • The transitive meaning II is similar, being essentially a synonym/secondary meaning.
  • The auxiliary meanings are activated with additional verbs present, and can be both transitive – e.g. X tells/told Y to, or intransitive – e.g. X is/was told to), and can also have two direct objects like a causative verb phrase.
  • The intransitive meaning I is used in sentences with no oblique object introduced by a (of) and no direct object, or when a gerund is the subject of the sentence. Intransitive meaning II applies with any subject as long as they are only followed by a phrase consisting of tine (inside, into) followed by a gerund as the only oblique object.

Verbs belonging to this category:

Word Base transitive meaning Transitive meaning II Auxiliary meanings (transitive/intransitive) Intransitive meanings I/II
eeo / / be generally able to do sth., know how to
(both transitive and intransitive)
be [generally] capable of being (/doing),
be [generally] possible
foo open free, unchain free so. to do sth. / be free to do sth. be opened, freed (to do)
hokono / / be currently able to do sth.
(both transitive and intransitive)
be currently capable of being (/doing),
be currrently possible
hoko allow enable allow, enable so. to do sth. /
be allowed, enabled to do sth.
be allowed (to do)
memo say mention tell so. to do sth. / be told to do sth. be said to be (doing)
nesano know understand (a concept) to know to do sth. (in a given situation) be experienced (in doing)
noito lead direct make so. do sth. / be made to do sth. be led, directed (to do)
oso consent to not obstruct let so. do sth. /
be able to be/do sth. unobstructed
be consented to (doing)
saiho think ponder think that...*, plan to do sth. / be planned to be thought to be (doing)
sahono assume infer expect (so.) to have to do sth. /
be expected to have to do sth.
be assumed to be (doing)
sahasio expect take for granted expect (so.) to be able to do sth. /
be expected to be able to do sth.
be assumed to be (doing)
saihodo imagine envision expect (so.) to be/do sth. /
be expected to be/do sth.
be imagined to be (doing)
sehukato worry about / worry about (so.) doing sth. /
cause worries about one's doing.
cause worries (about doing**),
be subject to worrying
sehukatovo cause so. to worry cause so. concern cause so. to worry about (so.) doing something /
be made worried about sth.
be caused to worry (about doing**)
be in a condition (causing one to)
teo need / need (so.) to do sth. /
be needed to do sth.***, ought to do sth.
be needed (to do)
teato must have must do sth. / to have to be done be a law (in regards to)
tesoamio think necessary, true believe (a story etc.) believe to have done or be doing /
to believed to have experienced
be believed to be true/needed

*This meaning can be specified by adding the phrase nuhe henuhede (‘for the here and now’) at the end acts like a regular verb, using a base transitive meaning, rather than the auxiliary meaning in sentences with more than two verbs
**uses nuhe ‘because of’ instead of tine ‘inside’ to introduce the gerund.
***only context differentiates between ‘need to do sth.’ and ‘be needed to do sth.’

Eeo and hokono, while belonging to this category, are special cases, having no base transitive meaning outside of their auxiliary uses. (See Verb stacking)

Some example sentences using the verb memo:

Jutean Translation
Memo la a hohi.
say 3S of hold-GER
'They say/mention [something] about the holding [of an event]'
Memo homo la.
be_told_to hold-ANTIP 3S
'They are told to hold [the/an unspecified event]'
Memo hohi.
be_said_to_be hold-GER
'There is said to be a holding [of an event]' /
'It is said that there is an holding [of an event]'
Memo hohi tine doonatohi.
be_said_to_be hold-GER inside.ABST celebrate-GER
'There is said to be a holding [of an event] [that is] celebrated'

Adverbs and adjectival nouns would be used to clarify time, place and manner.


Two copulas are known to exist, no ‘to be’ and evotono ‘to become, get’. Syntactically they are noteworthy for requiring objects to not decline, unlike all other nouns. They can also take up phrases with adjectival nouns directly.

No ta fuumimo. 'I am a student.'
Be 1S student

Evotono na a nihaa. 'You're getting old.'
Become 2S of oldness

Both have additionally intransitive meanings, no also means ‘to live’ and evotono ‘become so. or sth. else’. Furthermore, both can be used for existential clauses. No in this case is translated as ‘There is a …’ whereas evotono implies an impersonal or 4th/5th person pronoun, as in ‘Someone/Some have become…’

No dovu haad hen. 'There are many jungle trees here.
Be jungle_tree many here

Evotono netumo. 'Some have become guards.'
become guard


Aspect is generally indicated through adverbs when necessary, although usually it's implied via context or the semantics of the verb of the sentence.


The general unmarked aspect with most verbs is progressive, but when needed, e.g. when talking about the past, can also be specified with the adverb he ('now'). It can also be used for emphasis.

Joo ta he na. 'I see you.'/'I am seeing you.'
See 1S IDR 2S

Joo ta he na he. 'I am seeing you right now.'
See 1S IDR 2S now

Joo ta he na he dote (doone ...). 'I was seeing you (when...)'
See 1S IDR 2S now earlier (when...)


A perfective aspect can be specified with lomohe ('already'). Again, sometimes it is not strictly needed, but can be added for emphasis.

Lomoho ta amiti. 'I finish the work.'/'I am finishing the work'
Finish 1S work-IDR

Lomoho ta amiti lomohe. 'I already finished the work.'/'I have finished the work'
Finish 1S work-IDR already

Lomoho ta amiti lomohe dote. 'I already finished the work earlier/I had finished the work (already)'
Finish 1S work-IDR already earlier


Both combined (lomohe he) form the terminative aspect, or alternatively a perfect progressive aspect, depending on context.

Lomoho ta amiti lomohe he (...). 'I just finished the work.'/'I have been finishing the work ...'
Finish 1S work-IDR already now

Lomoho ta amiti lomohe he dote (...). 'I just had finished the work.'/' I had been finishing the work..'
Finish 1S work-IDR already now earlier


For a habitual aspect, anti ('commonly, regularly') can be used.

Sao ta anti. 'I go swimming regularly.'
swim 1S regularly

Memotilo tesohova anti. 'The message was repeated regularly.'
be_repeated message regularly

Nuno fal hen anti (dee donafofede) dote. 'They used to live here regularly (during the wet season).'
Dwell 3.COL here regularly (during wet_season_OBL) earlier


The resultative is split into three variants, volitional with amefe, 'voluntarily', non-volitional with eve, 'non-voluntarily', and the final/unchanging form with kilvune, 'unchangeably, irreversibly'.

Ileho ta hajefati amefe. 'I ended up changing plans.'
Change 1S plan-IDR RES.VOL

Ileho ta hajefati eve. 'I ended up having to change plans'
Change 1S plan-IDR RES.NVOL

Haado la ehe dovade eve (dote). 'She ended up growing like a tree.' or simply 'She is/was tall.'
Grow 3S like tree-OBL RES.NVOL (earlier)

Ilvunito fesuu kilvune. 'The demon ended up being destroyed irreversibly.' or 'The demon has been destroyed forever.'
Destroy demon RES.irreversibly


There are five: Indicative, Imperative, Conditional, Subjunctive and Hortative.


Used for describing reality, general truths and statements proven or, based on some kind of evidence, very likely to be true. It is the default, unmarked mood.

Vuho vuha ido vuhade a ji. 'The sun shines at this day.'
Shine sun at.ABST day-OBL of this.ABST

No nova un havande. 'Animals live in the wilderness.'
Live animal in.DANG wilderness-OBL

Saiho ta, ivusaie no ta. 'I think, therefore I am.'
Think 1S | therefore be 1S


For commands and urges. It is formed by reduplicating the first two syllables of the infinitive, however some verbs are irregular here and only reduplicate part of the second syllable. The personal pronoun can be omitted in this case, or included for emphasis or clarification.

Atoato (na) li hen! 'Come here!'
IMP-come (2S) towards here

Tatatataimo (naf) he la! 'Forget about him/her/them!' (addressing several people)
IMP-forget (2.PL) IDR 3S

Foofoo al (na) maja a me fan ma! 'Don't open your eyes!'
IMP-open NEG (2S) eye of OBL 2S OBL
(Foofoo al can also be shortened to foofool.)


In Jutean the conditional is used for the hypothetical result of an assumed change in conditions of the world, or, in some cases, for the polite expression of instructions or wishes the speaker doesn’t have much confidence or interest in becoming reality or that are more or less impossible. It's generally seen as the "humble" mood used when talking to someone of high respect or someone you just like that much. It can also be used for exaggerations that are supposed to be a proof of that or just joking.

Formed by adding -ke to the end of the infinitive, which becomes -k in front of words starting with 'h' or a vowel and in front of verbal particles.

Hokedo no mekoi nuhe hemede ajavi, saimoke to na li saanuti, teoke teko na he uvuf a saanuvade. 'For there to be fish for food today, you would want to go to the sea, [and there] you would need to get them from below the surface.'
Be-able be fish for food-OBL today | want-COND go 2S to sea-IDR | need-COND retrieve 2S IDR ANIM.PL of below.surface.sea-OBL

Saimoke to ta li neteti. 'I would like to go to the coast.' [but if it's not possible, that's fine, too]
Want-COND go 1S to coast-IDR

Hedoke la ooneti nuhe me ta ma. 'He/She/They (sg.) would take down the moon for me.'

Amoke mo sahane hokonoke ta. 'I would if I could.'
do-COND ANTIP if be_currently_able-COND 1S


The subjunctive is used among other things for energetic proposals, declarations, resolutions, or wishes the speaker has absolute or near absolute faith in becoming true at some point or the time the speaker mentioned, even in the face of uncertainty. Also a more polite way to command someone to do something (but can be seen as condescending if used among people of the same age). It can also be a very formal way to command someone to do something (but can be seen as very condescending if used among people of the same age)

Formed from infinitives with the -t suffix

Not ta a meoduki te. 'I shall be honest from now on.'
Be-SBJV 1S of honesty onwards

Fofeat saava. 'There shall be rain.'
rain-SBJV water


This mood can often be seen as being somewhere between the two last ones, used for example for unbinding, but nevertheless assertive or affirmative suggestions, reminders or instructions. This would be translated in some languages with an auxiliary like "let" or "should".

Formed with the -fe suffix attached to the infinitive.

Tofe fa tuuve. / Tof tuuve. 'Let us go down.'

Saavof na ja. 'You should clean this.' Clean-HORT 2S this.C


Triggers are used to mark the focus of a sentence. These are also sometimes used to express what other languages use voices or cases at nouns for.

To put it shortly, triggers are used in transitive sentences to signify a change in the morphosyntactic alignment from nominative-accusative or ergative-absolutive or vice versa, or to highlight specific objects.

The two most common triggers are patient (-no), agent (unmarked by default, but -mo can be used to emphasize/intensify). Instrumental (-de) and Locative (-hen) exist, but are not as common. They are all also attached to the verb, unless it already has mood or gerund marking, in which case they form a separate particle.

Examples for the ergative verb joo (to see):

Joo ta ja 'I see this.'
See 1S this.C

Joono ja he ta 'This is seen by me / This is what I see'
See-PV this.C IDR 1S

Joode dovauhi he ta. 'The glasses are what I use to see.'
See.INSV glass IDR 1S

Joohen saanu he ta. 'The sea is where I see.'
See.LOCV sea IDR 1S

Valency and transitivity


Valency can be used to express subject and object role in Jutean.

In intransitive sentences the meaning is by default understood as patientive. Here the antipassive suffix -mo, is used to make the subject agentive while keeping the sentence intransitive.

(60) Joo ta. I am seen. See 1S (61) Joomo ta. I see. See-ANTIP 1S

On the other side, the opposite is true for transitive sentences, where the subjects are by default agentive. Here -mo can be used to emphasize the agency of the subject. To make it have a patientive meaning as well, the patient trigger -no can be used, or the sentence simply turned into an intransitive sentence.

Joo ta. 'I am seen.'
See 1S

Joomo ta. 'I see.'

Impersonal sentences

The instrumental and locative trigger-suffixes are also repurposed and can be used to make an intransitive sentence have an implied impersonal subject:

Mihinidohen mihinon. 'The bed is where you sleep/one sleeps'
sleep-LOCV bed

Joohen maja. 'The eye is/Eyes are with what you see/one sees.'
see-INSV eye

Impersonal sentences can also be used for statements or sayings if they refer e.g. to general advice where other languages might use a dummy pronoun, similar to an implied 4th/5th person pronoun.

The only argument of such a phrase is the object of the equivalent regular transitive sentence or an equivalent sentence with an explicit subject and oblique object, as Jutean has no “dummy subjects” such as “it” in e.g. “It would be more intelligent to do that”

Hajeo evotono hemomo nana haade. '(It) is more intelligent to become a food organizer* yourself.'
Be_intelligent become food_organizer you_yourself more
*generic term for scavenger, fisher and farmer

This sentence uses a technique called “verb stacking”.


How many voices Jutean has been subject to discussion, as colloquially all inflections that aren't moods, negations or the gerund form have been called triggers. However, technically the triggers only refer to focus-changing inflections in transitive sentences, so causative (-vo), reciprocal (-hut) and reflexive (-he) "triggers" should more properly be analyzed as voices.

The causative suffix can only be used on ergative verbs (unergative verbs require an ergative verb as preceding auxiliary instead, most commonly noito, 'to direct, lead, force') and takes two or three arguments, where the causer takes the unmarked direct case, the recipient of the action takes the indirect case and the (optional) third argument is in the oblique case. Ergative verbs in phrases with a single argument retain their patientive meaning if turned into a causative.

Joovo ta he na. 'I'm making you be seen.'

Joovo ta he na dovade. 'I'm making you see the tree.'
See-CAUS 1S IDR 2S tree-OBL

Noito mihinido ta he na. 'I'm making you sleep.'
Make sleep 1S IDR 2S

Reciprocal and reflexive voices require intransitive sentences and can not take direct objects.

Joohut fa. 'We all see each other.'

Joohe fa. 'We all see ourselves.'

In addition, the intransitive agentive suffix -mo is usually regarded as an antipassive by my most grammarians nowadays, with some of the confusion stemming probably from the fact that it is also used in transitive sentences as an intensifier/emphasizing particle for agentive subjects.


A single gerund form exists, formed via suffixing -hi to a verb. It can also take a mood suffix, however voice suffixes become particles instead. It is used, among other things, to create nominalized subclauses, for example relative clauses. See the syntax section of this article for details.


If multiple suffixes would have to be added, for example mood and trigger or trigger and negation, only one of them is attached to the verb, with the other ones forming a particle. Which one is added to the verb is decided based on their position in this order: Mood < Trigger < Gerund suffix < Negation, meaning that if a mood morpheme is present, it will be the one added to the verb, with the other one or two forming a particle. If only the trigger and the negation are present, the trigger will be attached and the negation become a particle directly after the verb.


Adjectives are not a distinct word class in Jutean, and instead either adjectival nouns or stative verbs.

The only difference between adjectival nouns and regular noun is that they generally don't decline like regular nouns, so for example dovi a haad is 'big tower', or dovi a hohi 'new tower'.

To intensify them, haad (here: 'much') is inserted after the noun in question, so hohi haad would translate to 'very new' (literally 'newness much'). Rarely a haada is used instead, which would translate to 'of biggerness'. Exceptions to this are 'very big', 'very good', and 'very bad', where haada, ukea and dohaa would be used instead.

Stative verbs, e.g. ildeso ('be sure/be strict') are always unergative and work identical to other unergative verbs.


Comparative of an (adjectival) noun is formed by adding a haada 'of biggerness' (or a ilhaada 'of smallerness' when the things a noun is compared to is smaller in degree or quality), and either hehe 'still, even' to the end of the sentence, or adding a construction with ilehe 'unlike, than'.

For example: No ta a nihaa a haada ilehe me na ma. 'I am older than you' be 1S of oldness of biggerness unlike OBL 2S OBL (literally 'I am of oldness of biggerness than you')

The noun following ilehe has to be in the oblique case, as with most adpositions.

Haad 'big', uke 'good' and dohaa 'bad' are the exceptions again, using a haada, a ukea or a dohaa.

Copular verbs use comparative in the same way, for example:

No ji a dovi a haada hehe. 'This is higher [still].' be this.ABST of highness of biggerness still

Stative verbs use the adverb haade to form a comparative, and a comparing noun phrase is introduced again with ilehe as in the following:

Ildeso fal haade ilehe me fa ma. 'They are stricter/surer [of it] than us' be_strict 3.COL more unlike OBL 1.COL OBL


The superlative is constructed with a haadat, 'of biggestness' after it, as in:

Nuno ta an mihonode a nihaa a haadat. 'I live in the oldest house.' dwell 1S in.C house-OBL of oldness of biggestness (literally 'I live in the house of oldness of biggestness')

The same three nouns (haad, uke, dohaa) are the exceptions here too, using a haadat, a ukeat and a doat for the superlative.

With copular verbs the superlative is again used the same way, for example:

No ji a dovi a haadat. 'This is the highest [one/thing].' be this.ABST of highness of biggestness.

With stative verbs, haadate 'most' is used for the superlative, for example:

Ildeso fal haadate. 'They are [the] strictest [about it]/surest [about it]' be_strict 3.COL most.ADV

Archetypive / 'Model X' constructions

The 'archetypive', also referred to as a 'Model X' construction is a special, sparsely used construction reserved to augment the superlative further, when something or someone is seen as the very embodiment of a quality or an abstract thing, or the very model or archetype of something or someone.

To make one, a regular adjectival noun is declined like a regular noun, giving for example:

No la saini a nesani. 'They are a person of knowledge' (=knowledgeable person, regular construction) No la saini a nesanide. 'They are a/the person of the knowledge, a knowledge-person' (=a perfect, archetypical example of a knowledgeable person, the very embodiment of knowledge)

However, this is not used in the humble (formal) register, which uses the otherwise unused oho 'to have'.

Oho la nesani. 'They have knowledge'

This carries with it both a kind of polite understatement, as well confers the person in question agency, which is seen as a highly respectful way of speaking.