Qgam Dzwo

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Qgam Dzwo
Qgam Dzwo
Pronunciation [(ə)ʔgʌm d͡zwɔə]
Ethnicity Qgam
Native speakers 5,201,000  (2017)
Language family
  • Qgam Dzwo
Dialects Northern Qgam, Eastern Qgam, Southern Qgam
Writing system Qonklese logograms, Qgam script
Official status
Official language in Qgam
CWS code QGA

Qgam Dzwo (鄭語 [(ə)ʔgʌm d͡zwɔə]) is a Darkinic language spoken primarily in the Democratic Republic of Qgam, where it is recognized as the only official language.


As a Darkinic language, Qgam is most closely related to the Hux Kham language. They began to diverge somewhere around 100 BCE, though frequent contact between Qgam and Hux Kham people during this period led to a great amount of loaning. At the onset of the common era, contact between the two peoples decreased, and Qgam began to diverge further. During this time as the Kingdom of Qgam conquered various Nuar settlements, a considerable number of Nuar loanwords began to enter Qgam, and even some grammatical patterns began to shift. Notably, a definite article developed, as well as some aspectual prefixes on verbs, a feature not present in any other Darkinic language.

During the second millennium CE, a large influx of Qonklese loanwords began to alter the Qgam lexicon. It is estimated that approximately 20% of the Qgam lexicon is of Qonklese origin.


The following inventory outlines the pronunciation of Standard Qgam, which is that spoken in Hwam Deaĝ Ruom.


Bilabial Alveolar Post-alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k g ʔ
Fricative s ɕ ç x
Affricate d͡z t͡ɕ d͡ʑ k͡x
Approximant w ɻ j
Lateral app. l ʎ


Qgam Dzwo has a total of seven vowels: four short vowels (/i ɛ ʌ ɔ/) and three long vowels (/eə̯ wɔə̯ ɑː/), the long forms of /i/ and /ɛ/ both having merged into /eə̯/.

Back vowels undergo allophonic fronting when proceeding the post-alveolar and palatal consonants /ɕ t͡ɕ d͡ʑ ç j ʎ/, resulting in the following changes:

vowel non-palatalized palatalized
o [ɔ] [ɜ]
wo, uo [wɔə ʊə̯] [ɨə̯]
a [ʌ] [ə]
aa [ɑ:] [æ:]

Following is a chart of all phonemic vowels and allophonic vowels and diphthongs resulting from the allophonic processes described above:

Front Central Near-back Back
Close i (iː) (ɨː)
(ɨə̯) (ɨə̯j) (ɨːə̯)
Near-close (ʊə̯) (ʊə̯j)
Close-mid (eː)
(eːj) eə̯ eə̯w
Mid (ə) (əː)
(əj) (əw)
Open-mid ɛ (ɜ)
ʌ ɔ
ʌj ʌw ɔj wɔə̯ wɔə̯j
Near-open (æː)
(æːj) (æːw)
Open ɑː
ɑːj ɑːw


The maximal allowable syllable is CCCCVC, with few restrictions in the sequence of consonants in the onset, but with a heavily restricted coda. When necessary, continuants may be realized as syllabic, and epenthetic schwas may appear between certain consonants, particulary before /ʔ/ when it appears at the beginning of an utterance or between two other stops.

The syllable neucleus must take one and only one vowel.

The coda may be one of five consonants: /m ŋ w j ɻ/. Some of these coda consonants, particularly /w/ and /j/, merge allophonically with the nucleus vowel, slightly obscurring the phonemic constituents of the rhyme.




Nouns Adjectives


Verbs in Qgam Dzwo may be broken down into auxiliary verbs and main verbs. Auxiliary verbs appear directly after the subject and conjugate for the number of the subject only, whereas main verbs mark certain aspects only.

Auxiliary Verbs

As described above, auxiliary verbs appear directly after the subject of the clause. There are three types of auxiliaries: tense/aspect, modal, and voice. The voice auxiliaries may occur with tense/aspect and modal auxiliaries, but only one tense/aspect or modal auxiliary may occur in a single clause. There is a certain amount of dialectal variation between auxiliary usage. Following is a full list:

Tense / Aspect Auxiliaries
auxiliary Western Qgam Eastern Qgam Southern Qgam
present indicative
𠃐 way
present indicative
emphatic indicative
emphatic indicative
yaa, yaw
present indicative
perfective; past
boy, bwoy
𢪽 yam
dummy/default auxiliary
Modal Auxiliaries
auxiliary Western Qgam Eastern Qgam Southern Qgam
potential; abilitative
adhortative ("should")
adhortative ("should")
necessitative ("must")
adhortative ("should")
adhortative ("should")
potential (may; might)
potential (may; might)
blsa, bldza
potential (may; might)
potential (may; might)
necessitative ("must")
Voice Auxiliaries
auxiliary Western Qgam Eastern Qgam Southern Qgam

When auxiliaries of two separate types cooccur, tense/modal auxiliaries come before voice auxiliaries:

Qhwam mduo ma jer šraa kar la.
here tree NEG must PASS cut fall
That tree must not be cut down.

As auxiliaries of a single class cannot cooccur, instead, the connecting particle ay is used to link clauses, e.g.:

Ĝwa šraa ay bluo wea arna.
3.SG PASS and CAUS PST leave
He was forced to leave.

Main Verbs

Main verbs occur at the end of a clause and conjugate for certain aspects only. This is accomplished either by means of a prefix or reduplication, depending both on the aspect and the specific auxiliary verb used.

The perfect aspect is marked with the prefix sak- (sometimes reduced to sk- or sĝ-), e.g.:

  • tem "ask" → 畢問 saktem
  • 靠話 orsra "declare" → 畢靠話 skorsra
  • geaw "own" → 畢有 sĝgeaw

The iterative aspect is marked with the prefix bis- (sometimes reduced to bs-), e.g.:

  • sa "dwell" → 屢住 bissa
  • arna "leave" → 屢去 bsarna

The progressive aspect is indicated by an auxiliary for the present tense, but in the past and future tenses, it is instead indicated through reduplication of the main verb, e.g.:

  • saa "get" → 獲獲 saa saa
  • 離跑 rimbaaĝ "run away" → 離跑離跑 rimbaaĝ rimbaaĝ

Kea Yaw do skarna.
Kea Yaw PRES PERF-leave
Kea Yaw has left.

Ĝwea wiy kyom kyom am ĝea ĝea.
3.PL PST/PL ticket ticket ACC sell sell
They were selling tickets.

Adverbs Particles Derivational morphology


Qgam Dzwo employs SOV sentence structure, though an auxiliary is required directly after the subject. This split verb system is believed to be a remnant of an older V2 structure, though in modern Qgam, the auxiliary not required to appear second in the clause.