The BG Language Creation Guide

#6 Example: Liqupa Verbs and Verbal Morphology

Liqupan is an OSV language:
? Susu asalapaq u-susu-sia
water Ethylbert 3-water-ingest
"Ethylbert drinks water."
NB: Because the morpheme 'water' is part of the verb 'to drink' in Liqupa, this sentence is somewhat silly when translated, and the native Liqupan consultant would categorized it as 'not ungrammatical exactly but odd-sounding". Hence it is marked with a ?. If the object of the verb is actually water, the verb can be shortened to -sia or the object 'Susu' eliminated.. One can say 'Ethelbert drinks' (eliminating the object) in Liqupa without the implication that the drink is alcoholic.

Basic Pronouns

Person Singular Plural Formal
1st i i-mi i-na
2nd a a-ma a-na NOTE1
3rd u u-mu u-nu

There is no number distinction in the formal forms; they may be used to replace singular or plural noun phrases. Modern Liqupa also lacks gender and animacy distinctions in the pronominal system. The -na (or -nu) suffix denotes social status higher than the speaker (power) but does not indicate anything about solidarity. Thus, ana (you formal) can be used for a known or unknown person, friend or foe as long as that person's status is higher than the speaker's. It is the form used when addressing elders, guests, holy people, spirits and pine trees.

The suffixes -siq (glossed as ,good, or ,beneficial,) and -wuq (glossed as ,bad, or ,negative,) can be added separately and in tandem to any pronoun to make a total of 36 possible pronominal forms. Attached to 2nd and 3rd person pronouns, -siq and -wuq function adjectivally, expressing the speaker's attitudes toward the addressee or topic of conversation. These are often translated as adjectives or they may be treated as apossitives:

you, my friend
they, the scoundrals!

The deployment of these suffixes varries from speaker to speaker and moment to moment. A Liqupan consultant, when asked first to translate 'Ethylbert drinks water' and then 'He drinks water, rendered the sentence as:

? Susu u-wuq u-susu-sia
water 3-NEG 3-water-ingest
"That fool drinks water."

and later modified this to:
? Susu unu u-susu-sia
water 3.FORMAL 3-water-ingest
"That stranger drinks water." Caution should thus be used in asking for english translations.

Affixed to first person pronouns, -siq and -wuq function adverbially, reflecting the speaker's mood.
i-siq i-mici-sa
1-BEN 1-person-go
I walk happily.
i-mi-wuq i-haha-sia
1-PL-NEG 1-idea-ingest
We study reluctantly (grumpily).

Although this is somewhat archaic, unknown persons may be addressed or referred to by suffixing both -siq and -wuq (in this order) to the appropriate pronominal form as in
(Note the deletion of the /q/ of-siq)
When asked about this form, the consultant first translated this as:
"he whose heart we do not know" and later changed to
unknown person.

Attaching si-wuq to first person forms is done only when the person is relating a dream, a vision or something done under the influence of hallucinogenic pine sap tea or while possessed by evil spirits.
i-si-wuq i-pa-naqu-sia
1-BEN-NEG 1-PAST-light-ingest
I saw in a vision.
i-mi-si-wuq i-pa-yunai
1-PL-BEN-NEG 1-PAST-steal
We stole while under the influence.

Liqupa is a pro drop language; the subject pronoun is optional and tends to be eliminated if it is singular and there is no reason to add an adverbial suffix. Thus, both of the following sentences are grammatical:

maqu i i-naqu-sia
fish 1 1-light-ingest
I see the fish.

maqu i-naqu-sia
fish 1-light-ingest
I see the fish.


Verbs agree with their subjects in person only.


The liqupa verb can be inflected for five past and six future tenses. The present tense is unmarked. The tense marker is placed between the person agreement morpheme and the root of the verb.


Negation is accomplished via the infix -wuq- (allomorphs -wuq-, -wuk-, -wuc-, and -wu-) positioned after the first syllable of the root of a verb. -wu- occurs before consonants, -wuq- before /u/, -wuk- before /a/, and -wuc- elsewhere (meaning before /i/). The negative morpheme is always stressed despite the fact that it is not word initial and that it ends in /q/.
a-siq a-yu-wu-nai
2-BEN 2-steal-NEG-steal
You, my friend, do not steal.
a-ma-si-wuq a-yu-wu-nai
2-PL-BEN-NEG 2-steal-NEG-steal
You strangers do not steal.
It/s/he does not pick (them/it) up.
Note the idiom below:
i-na-siq i-naqu-sia ci-nala-ma mici-siq u-ka-wuc-inu
1-FORMAL-BEN 1-light-ingest hardened-sand-PL person-BEN 3-pickup-NEG-pickup
Happily we see that a good person does not gather rocks.
(proverb--the virtuous person does not make ready to fight).
"inasiq inaqusia" (happily we see) begins most Liqupa proverbs.


The forms that follow are infinitives.
be called something quaqua
begin yiyi
catch mama
come/go sasa
-sa (bound suffix meaning to come, go or move in the manner of)
die ana-sia death-ingest
drink Susu-sia water-ingest (often shortened to -sia if the object is actually 'water'.
eat pila-sia food-ingest (as above, the pila morpheme can be eliminated if the object is clearly food.)
fly pipa-sa bird-go
give yaqu
have or own something yula
hear uma-sia sound-ingest
hear (a song, sound of waves or birdsong only) wi-sia beauty-ingest
ingest/ take into oneself -sia
kill dada
know ci-ha hardeone-idea (to know a fact)
know li-ha spirit-idea (to know the spirit/to be wise)
study/memorize haha-sia idea-ingest
lie lalu
live (be alive) piqu
animate or incarnate -piq (bound suffix
live (dwell permanently in a place) mai-sia pine-ingest (be like the sacred pines which never stray)
be virtuous mai-sia polysemous with mai-sia dwell)
make or do huhu
say speak or tell payu
see naqu-sia light/brightness-ingest
sit didi
sleep dupu-sia moon-ingest
stand nuna-sa mountain-go (to stand firmly on one's feet)
swim maqu-sa fish-go
take or pick up kainu
touch nini
wake up mana-sia sun-ingest
walk mici-sa person-go

NOTE1 It is now thought that the given name "Ana", and its variants "Anne,, "Anna" and forms of Annie are borrowed from Liqupa.

NOTE2: She explained that, first of all, Ethylbert is a silly name, and anyone with that name who hasn't change it to "Bob" or "Larry" by the time he's ten is clearly a big fat nerd, and besides, it's a silly sentence." Later that night, after a relaxing cup of pine sap wine, she insisted the entry be changed as indicated, allowing as how she'd been a little harsh at the time.

NOTE3: The sample sentence was changed when the consultants "refused to deal with either Ethylwhatsis or that weird water sentence" further.
Updated July 15, 2011