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
  • Saru-Asuran
    • 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 except word finally. allowing for otherwise impermissible consonant clusters to occur and a phonemic contrast between the close vowels [i, y, u] and near-close vowels [ɪ, ʏ, ʊ]. This is particularly common in Southern Tuju however is considered a non-standard and stigmatised form of speech.


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 except for /u.ə/.

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 employ 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 or particle 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, 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. Some nouns can be either gender and which gender they are can change the meaning of the word. This is common with body parts, especially those that are prone to falling out, being cut, shed, or removed in some way e.g. rüy ("hair") in the animate gender would imply hair that is still on the body, whereas in the inanimate gender it would refer to hair that has been cut or shed.

Nouns are declined for three cases: agentive, patientive, and oblique, as well as for definitiveness but not for number. They are declined using suffixes which depend on gender and vowel harmony. Animate, light vowels, example word "hiy" (bird):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite hiy hiytiy hiyüyü
Definite hiyü hiytiyü hiyüyü

Animate, dark vowels, example word "paw" (cloud):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite paw pawtoy pawuyu
Definite pawu pawtoyu pawuyu

Inanimate, light vowels, example word "yey" (sadness):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite yey yeytiy yeyüyi
Definite yeyi yeytiyi yeyüyi

Inanimate, dark vowels, example word "ul" (flower):

Agentive Patientive Oblique
Indefinite ul ultoy uluyo
Definite ulo ultoyo uluyo

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."

In an intransitive sentence, however, either the agentive or the patientive case can mark the subject. 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 marking a lower or lack of volition or control. This can give single verbs certain nuances that would be expressed using separate words or expressions in English:

Šoyumuw kahu.

woman.AGN.DEF sleep

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

Šoyumutoyu kahu.

woman.PTN.DEF sleep

"The woman fell asleep." (by accident)

Awpumuw hühüyüyi ey püw.

hunter.AGN.DEF ground.OBL on slide

"The hunter slid across the ground." (purposeful action)

Awpumutoyu hühüyüyi ey püw.

hunter.PTN.DEF ground.OBL on slide

"The hunter slipped on the ground." (accidental action)

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 when a noun is neither the agent nor patient of a verb, for example, the recipient of a ditransitive verb:

Yimüw šoyumuyu usutoy nuw.

man.DEF.AGN woman.OBL coconut.PTN give

"The man gave the/a woman a coconut."

Or the object of a postposition:

Rapo weyüyi ey nu.

3P cave.OBL in be

"They are in the cave."

Not all postpositions trigger the oblique case, however. Compare:

Rapo weyüyi ey nu.

3P cave.OBL in be

"They are in the cave."

Rapo weytiyi ey tu.

3P cave.PTN in go

"They go into the cave."

Nouns are marked for definiteness in the agentive and patientive cases, but not the oblique, using suffixes which depend on gender and vowel harmony.


(A) man.


The man.


Personal Pronouns

Pu u Lamu has first, second, and third person singular and plural personal pronouns with a clusivity disnction in the first person plural. The plural personal pronouns are formed by adding the suffix -po/pi to the singular counterpart except for the first person plural inclusive, which has a different root, and the first person plural exclusive, which has the same root as the first person plural inclusive but a different suffix. There are distinct formal and informal second person pronouns, and third person pronouns are distinguished for animate and inanimate gender when in reference to non-human objects as well as having a third form to refer to humans. Like nouns, personal pronouns inflect for agentive, patientive, and oblique cases however, unlike nouns, they also inflect for the genitive case and are inflected using prefixes instead of suffixes. Personal pronouns are fairly irregular in comparison to nouns.

Agentive Patientive Oblique Genitive Agentive Patientive Oblique Genitive
1st person singular taw kotaw motaw otaw 1st person plural papo (inclusive), panal (exclusive) kopapo, kopanal mopapo, mopanal opapo, opanal
2nd person singular (informal) na kona mona ona 2nd person plural (informal) napo konapo monapo onapo
2nd person singular (formal) ki kiki miki iki 2nd person plural (formal) kipi kikipi mikipi ikipi
3rd person singular (human) ra kora mora ora 3rd person plural (human) rapo korapo morapo orapo
3rd person singular (animate) u kupu mupu owu 3rd person plural (animate) upo kupupo mupupo owupo
3rd person singular (inanimate) ha koha moha oha 3rd person plural (inanimate) hapo kohapo mohapo ohapo


Verbs do not inflect for tense or person 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