The BG Language Creation Guide

Liqupa Nouns and Nominal Morphology

Noun Classes

Liqupa has two noun classes called m class (Tangible) and na class (intangible). Most living things, solid objects, liquids, nominalized color terms and most sounds go into the first class. Abstract concepts, smoke, light, shadows and some other living things go into the second. There is no marking on noun class in the singular. In the plural, m-class nouns are marked with a regular allomorph conditioned by the last vowel in the stem. Na-class nouns take a -na suffix (see discussion of number below).


All singular nouns are zero marked.
(NB: That means there is nothing that marks the singular: just as in English.)

For nouns in the m class, the plural has three regular allomorphs: -ma, -mi, and -mu conditioned by the last vowel of the stem. If the stem ends in [a], -ma is used. If the stem ends in [i], -mi is used. If the stem ends in [u], -mu is used. -na is the plural suffix for all na class nouns regardless of ending vowel. In accordance with phonotactic rules, word-final /q/ is deleted before the ending is added.

Liqupa Form with Morpheme Breaks Gloss Translation
pipa-ma bird-plural birds
miqi-mi person-plural people
dupu-mu moon-plural moons
daq+ma da-ma duck-plural ducks
haha-na idea-plural ideas
dupi-na duty-plural duties
lalu-na falsehood-plural


Possessives are formed with a circumfix. The first element 'yu-' is placed before the possessor. The second element is suffixed to the object possessed.

There are five kinds of possession in Liqupa. Both noun classes are treated the same.

Morpheme Order

The order of morphemes is stem-plural-possessive:
yu-miqi mapa-ma-li
gen-person hat-plural-gen5
the person's borrowed hats

yu-miqi-mi li-miqi-na-yu
gen-person-plural spirit-person-plural-gen2
the people's souls


Negation is accomplished via an infix placed after the first syllable of the root of the word to be negated. There are two allomorphs of the negation infix -wu- occurs before consonants and -wuq- before vowels. Since one form of this morpheme ends in [q], the negative is always stressed despite the rule that Liqupa words are stressed on the initial syllable. For example:

40 Nouns

Note that I've included a few extra words that arose out of combining morphemes and separate listings for morphemes that are part of these lexical items but not directly called for by the assignment.

ashes (of a wildfire) qa-qaqu (end of)-wildfire
ashes (of a campfire) qa-qu-mana-ya (end of)-captive-sun-small (qumanaya = campfire)
bird pipa
branch palama (not related to the word for tree)
child miqi-ya person-small
cloud qa-susu-siqu end-water-snow (qasusu = sky) (na class)
day naqu-di bright-continuous (note this is m class)
earth qaqa
egg pipa-qiq bird-seed
(wild) fire qaqu (na class)
(camp)fire qu-mana-ya captive-star-small
fish maqu
forest samu
friend aqu
heart qasi (m class; physical heart: tangible)
heart qasi (na class) emotion or center (Note that one cannot use 'qasi' to mean emotion or love).
house qi-dusi hardened-tent (houses are relatively new on the island: people traditionally lived in yurts of woven fabric)
idea, thought haha (na class)
Leaf pimala-yaqu tree-hand (this is the formal word for 'leaf'; there are many other, simpler, more specific forms)
man qali
moon dupu
mountain nuna
night muda-di dark-continuous (na class)
person miqi
rain ala
river li-sa spirit-go * further grammatical note (NB: This is a verb not a noun.) ** Etymological Note
root nui Polysemous with nui: bedrock/foundation
sand -nala (bound root) It was once reported that Liqupa has over 400 words for sand!
seed qiq
shaman, sage; (while living) li-ha-sa spirit-know-go (verb) *
shamman, sage (yet to be born) mai-qiq pine-seed (na class) Note that maiqiq (m class) means pine cone.
shamman, sage (of ages past) li-mai spirit-pinetree (na class)
sky qa-susu (end of) water (na class)
smoke li-qaqu spirit-wildfire (from a wild fire (na class)
smoke li-qu-mana-ya spirit-captive-sun-small, white smoke from a campfire (m class)
star mana-ya sun-small
stone qi-nala hardened-sand
story li-qasi spirit-center
sun mana
tree pimala (not related to branch)
water susu
woman aina
dragon qi-nala-piq hardened-sand-incarnate (qi-nala = stone
duck daq
mana-pila sun-food strawberry
pine tree maimai
pine cone mai-qiq pine-seed (m class). Note that maiqiq (na class) means shamman who is yet to be born.
place kana
hand yaqu
snow siqu (NOte that snow occurs only on the peak of an unclimbable mountain in the center of the island.)
yurt dusi

alive piqu adj
bright naqu adj
dark muda adj
good siq adj

know -li-ha spirit-know to have wisdom, to be wise (verb)
know -qi-ha hardened-know; to be educated, to know facts
live -piqu (verb)

captive/confined/subjugated qu- bound derivational prefix
continuous -di bound derivational suffix
end of qa- bound derivational prefix
go -sa bound derivational suffix (verb)
incarnate -piq; denotes the prototype or essence of a thing, bound derivational affix from verb/adj piqu
small -ya bound derivational suffix: from adj yaya 'small'
spirit li- bound derivational prefix: most but not all words that contain li- are na class

Since these forms carry inherent lexical tense, they cannot be inflected for tense when they serve as verbs.

(It is suspected now that the given name Lisa is in fact, a Liqupan borrowing rather than an English innovation, backformation from Hebrew "Elisabeth". This is further supported by historical research which indicates that the name Lisa was in fact, first used in english speaking countries around xxxx which is, not coincidentally, the same year in which the first contact was made with Liqupans on vacation in Puerto Rico. Click Here for more information on the traditional account.

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Updated 4/2/2010