So I've been doing my linguistic analysis of Oneida for almost a week now, and I can say I feel comfortable with the general features of the language (polysynthesis, verbs, noun incorporation).
There are so many interesting things I can tell you about this language, but that will probably bore you to no end. Instead I'll write the first 5 sentences I've composed in this mysterious language.
1. Alex yúkyats = My name is Alex
2. tewáhsʌ tewakohsliyá:ku
= I am 20 years old
3. wakhyatúhslayʌ kahyatuhsli:yó
= I have a good book
= I read
5. kwʌni:sáks = I look for words
For the sake of fun, let's examine what I needed to do to compose sentence #3, "I have a good book".
First of all, Oneida doesn't have adjectives. So I can't really
say "I have a good
book". It does, however, have adjectival verbs - in our case, the verb "to be good". Thus our composition will look something like this:
I have a book, (it) is a good book.
Let's stard with the first part, "I have a book".
The stem for the word book in Oneida is -hyatuh-, but this must be used with affixes to have any meaning.
Here is the construction I used:
wak + hyatuh + sl + a + yʌ
"wak" is the first person singular objective c-stem pronoun, esentially meaning "I".
"hyatuh" is the root for book which we already saw.
"sl" is the nominalizer for hyatuh; hyatuh cannot combine with a suffix unless this nominalizer is present
"a" is an epenthetic vowel to break the consonant sequence *sly
"yʌ" is the verbal form indicating possession.
Let's do the second part now, "(it) is a good book"
ka + hyatuh + sl + iyo
"ka" is the pronoun subclass that must be used with iyo.
"hyatuh" book (see above)
"sl" nominalizer (see above)
"iyo" is the adjectival verb meaning "to be good"
So now we have our two words:
(1) wak + hyatuh + sl + a + yʌ
(2) ka + hyatuh + sl + iyo
But we're not finished yet!
Now we have to apply the rules of stress. Stress in Oneida falls on the antepenultimate (next to final) syllable of a word, with a few exceptional conditions which will be encountered below. So, let's do it:
(1) wak + hyatuh + sl + á + yʌ
(2) ka + hyatuh + sl + íyo
We must make a revision. One of the special conditions for stress is that epenthetic vowels do not count in stress placement. So in (1), we should skip the epenthetic -a- and go to the previous syllable:
(1) wak + hyatúh + sl + a + yʌ
There's a problem with (2) as well. When a stressed vowel is followed by a consonant and then a vowel, the vowel becomes long, and its stress is transferred onto the following vowel:
(2) ka + hyatuh + sl + i:yó
: indicates a long vowel
So we have the right stress. Now we have to check the conditions for whispering. What is whispering? Oneida uses whispering in addition to the 'normal' voice. Essentially, some words, when appearing sentence-finally, will have some of its word-final phonemes articulated with a whisper. Consider the case of sentence-final word (2):
(2) ka + hyatuh + sl + i:yó
Due to rules I don't completely understand, the last two phonemes yó are pronounced with a whisper. We'll just take my textbook's word for that. Whispering is represented by underlining in the orthography:
ka + hyatuh + sl + i:yó
So our final result is:
So as you can see, writing a sentence in a polysynthetic language is a very lengthy task for a language learner. It's amazing to realize that the native speakers quickly and subconsciously make these complex calculations in their mind.
It's rather different than "Ich habe ein gutes Buch"