I would realllllyyyyy like to read more about the GRAMMAR of the language, though, as I'm a huge grammar nut. If anyone has any additional resources to add, be they free websites or insanely expensive textbooks, please share them here!
Glad to see you've kept up with !Xóõ
Any plans on sharing anything about the grammar here?
Yeah you're right! I should, considering I do have the (very expensive
) grammar book in my possession now.
Well the dictionary itself has a good 43 pages discussing grammar, but I'll just summarise for now unless people want more. It is indeed a very fascinating language and gives us a glimpse of how we all might have spoke in the early days of human language.!XÓÕ
!Xóõ is the last member of the family of Southern Bushman languages. It is spoken in a number of varieties in southwestern Botswana, in the Ghanzi and Kgalagadi Districts and in the Aminuis Reserve in Namibia.Phonology
is huge and contains a ton of consonants, most being consonant and click clusters. The clicks
ǀ = dental click, pronounced like the English tsk-tsk
ǁ = lateral click, made by sucking the teeth like teenagers in the US do to show disapproval, haha
ʘ = bilabial click, made by smooching the lips like a kiss, but not super dramatically like Italians do haha
! = alveolar click, made by doing the tick-tock or click-clock sound without the "tick"/"click" part, and fiercer; if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's hard to explain. You sort of put the tip of your tongue against the rough-feeling part of your gums behind your upper front teeth, press your tongue hard against it and then pop it down really fast, and the result should be LOUD
ǂ = palatal clicks, I don't know how to make these but wiki describes as: "made with a flat tongue, and are softer popping sounds than the ǃ clicks"Vowels:
Plain - a e i o u
Nasalised - ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ
Pharyngealised - (tilda underneath instead of on top)
Breathy - ih eh ah oh uh (a note says that they are phonetically strongly breathy voiced)
All other vowel markers indicate tone.
Basic word order
is SVO in both affirmative and yes/no interrogative sentences. The functional categories subject and object are represented by nouns, pronouns or nominalisations (ie. nouns derived from verbs).ǂqhàba-tê ń bà !àji ǂxàm (the à in !àji should have a tilda beneath it)
dog pl. tns. asp. stop gemsbuck
the dogs stop the gemsbuckèh à gǀkx'ù'na (ǂàã)
he tns. chew it (the bone)
he chewed it (the bone)Complement sentences
(the complement being the part of the sentence that gives more info about the subject) do not contain aspect or tense markers and are formed in one of two ways. The main verb is followed by a sentence containing either a nominalisation or by the complementiser tê.
Complements with tê
(with the complement in square brackets):ùh ń bà káne k[ù ǀqāhe tê]
they tns. asp. want they hunt comp.
they want to hunt [OR] they want them to hunt
(eg. here, what "they" want is what is complementing the subject, "they")ùh ń bà káne k[è ǀnàã-tê |qāhe tê]
they tns. asp. want him ǀnàã-tê hunt comp.
they want ǀnàã-tê to hunt
Complements with nominalisation
:ùh ń bà káne k[à !qāhe-sà]
they tns. asp. want it hunting
they want to hunt/hunting
ùh ń bà káne k[ù tùu ǀà !qāhe-sà]
they tns. asp. want them people 's hunting
they want the people to hunt
A complication arises if the complement is topicalised by being fronted to the head of the complement sentence. Here, the construction tê may not be used; instead, the object becomes the possessor
in the construction.
Complement with a topicalised object
ùh ń bà ǁnāhe k[ā ǁûm ǀà qâi-sà]
they tns. asp. talk-about them springbok s' killing
they are talking about the killing of the springbok (plural)
(note how in these last two sentence, what is expressed as a verb
in English is a noun
in !Xóõ, ie. you want people's HUNTINGS, not that they hunt. And you topic about something's KILLING, not that something was killed)
But anyway, that was a VERY short summary of the first 2-3 sections and I did not go into much detail b/c I'm not sure if people are actually interested in this language or not? If people want, I'd be glad to share as much as I can. The grammar is only 40 pages and does not go into super detail but it explains everything from the complex tonal system to pronouns to possessives to how questions are formed, and the language also has something reminiscent of vowel harmony from hell. So if people want I can give a much better lesson next time and go into more detail....Common English words in !Xóõ:
1. I - n̄'n̄; n̄; n̄ dē (the Ns here have a macron above them, don't know if they will show up properly or not)
2. You - āh('a) (singular); ūh('ū) (plural); ǂnûm (dual)
3. He/She - èh('è); ã'h (tone class 2; will explain the class system another time if people are interested) (also, with "she", the ã'h is listed as ã'h('ã) (with a grave accent above the last ã)
4. They - ùh('ù)
5. We - īh('ī), 'īsî; ǂnáĩ (dual)
6. And - ǂ'á; àhn; n̄dì (eg. "and then I")
7. It - èh, ãh (with grave accent above ã), ìh (animate 3rd person singular); ǹ (inanimate)
8. One - ǂ'ûã; ǁqháẽ ("one another")
9. But - gú'ni tshòo, xàbēkà (the latter is more common and is actually a very pretty word when spoken; you can hear it in the story here
(with script here
10. What - èh
So like I said, if people want I can start giving PROPER !xóõ lessons like other threads here are doing, complete with more precise explanations and examples and a cutesy little vocab list at the end with different topics, eg. food, places, etc. So if anyone's interested let me know, otherwise it's too time-consuming to do if no one listens! Lol
God I love this language. I'm listening to that story now and it sounds like Arabic with clicks ^_^