The Pages of The Gray Wizard



4.0 determiners

Determiners are a grammatical category that includes a number of rather different kinds of words.  Determiners constitute a closed class.  The class of determiners in ámman îar includes Definite, Associative, Demonstrative, Genitive, Quantifying and Interrogative Determiners.  These words are considered to be a single grammatical category because they always occupy the same position in the NP. 

Unlike in English, determiners in ámman îar are not positioned at the phrase level, but bind phonologically to the head noun.  In so doing, they condition morphophonemic mutations, causing lenition of the head noun’s initial consonant and changing form before a vowel.  Determiners appear in complementary distribution with each other, i.e. only one member of the class may modify a NP.

 4.0 Determiners
        4.1 Definite Determiners
                4.1.1 Identifiable Definite
                4.1.2 Definite Superset
                4.1.3 Relevant Definite
                4.1.4 Indefinite
        4.2 Associative Determiners
                4.2.1 Identifiable Definite
                4.2.2 Definite Superset
                4.2.3 Relevant Definite
                4.2.4 Indefinite
        4.3 Demonstrative Determiners
                4.3.1 Spatial Deitics
               Spatial Indefinite
               Spatial Distal
               Spatial Proximal
                4.3.2 Temporal Deictics
               Temporal Indefinite
               Temporal Distal
               Temporal Proximal
                4.3.3 Anaphoric Demonstratives
        4.4 Genitive Determiners
        4.5 Interrogative Determiners
                4.5.1 Constrained Interrogative
                4.5.2 Unconstrained Interrogative
                4.5.3 Genitive Interrogative
        4.6 Quantifying Determiners


4.1 definite determiners

ámman îar definite determiners distinguish four levels of definiteness.

  singular plural example
identifiable i(r)  in i dhraug in drug
superset a(r) an mina dhraug risan drug
relevant e(r) en e dhraug endrug
indefinite - - draug drug

  4.1.1 identifiable definite determiners

At this extreme, we have complete identifiability of the referent.  This form may only be used when the speaker presupposes that the hearer can uniquely identify the entity being spoken of.

 The identifiable definite determiner is formed using the particle i for singular nouns and in for plurals, thus

i dhraug = the wolf     .
in drug   = the wolves.

Note that the singular form causes lenition of the initial consonant of the associated noun (i draug > i dhraug).  This is because the original form of the singular determiner was ir.  This original form persists when the associated noun begins with a vowel, thus

ir adar   = the parent  .
in edair = the parents.

The vicious wolf pounced.
i dhraug voramald ergabedhel eleth
(drakir aromald alcapth)
i     dhraug     voramald               
i     draug -0   ve-    or=    amaldo   
the   wolf  -[S] descr- compl= be.gentle
iddet n     -abs adj-   pfx=   v        
the   wolf       vicious                

ergabedhel              eleth            
er-  cabedho -e   -l    el-        -eth  
do-  jump    -agt -actn assertive- -past 
agt- v       -val -vc   mood-      -tense
jump                    did              

The identifiable definite determiner is always used with nouns used to refer to personal names, place names, clan names, historical periods, racial groups, religions, et. al.

personal name  Galdor i galdran
place amman ir amman
clan name Clan Harith i harithoth
period The Finding i langdhin
racial group the Nardhost i nardhost
religion Cadath i gadath

4.1.2 definite superset determiner

Farther down the hierarchy, ámman îar distinguishes partial identifiability.  This form may only be used when the referent of the NP has been delimited by specifying a certain set, which can be identified.

The definite superset determiner is formed using the particle a for singular nouns and an for plurals, thus

mina dhrug  = one of the wolves   .
risan drug    = some of the wolves.


Note that the determiner tends to cliticize with quantifiers such as min (min a > mina) and risa (risa a > risa).  We will see subsequently that this phenomena is common with patientive particles as well



Like the Identifiable Definite Determiner, the Definite Superset Determiner causes lenition of the initial consonant of the associated noun in the singular.  The original form of this determiner was ar and this form persists when the associated noun begins with a vowel, thus

minar edhain = one of the men   .
risan edhain  = some of the men.

One of the wolves pounced.
mina dhrug ergabedhel eleth
(min drak alcapth)
mina             dhrug           ergabedhel             
min -a           draug -i   -0   er-  cabedho -e   -l   
one -some_of_the wolf  -plu -[S] do-  jump    -agt -actn
qty -ssdef       n     -num -abs agt- v       -val -vc  
one.of.the       dhrug           jump                   

el-        -eth  
assertive- -past 
mood-      -tense

This is clearly differentiated from the indefinite form.

One wolf pounced.
draug bemin ergabedhel eleth
min drak alcapth
       draug      bemin      ergabedhel              eleth            
0-     draug -0   be-    min er-  cabedho -e   -l    el-        -eth  
a      wolf  -[S] count- one do-  jump    -agt -actn assertive- -past 
indef- n     -abs adj-   qty agt- v       -val -vc   mood-      -tense
a      wolf       one        jump                    did              

4.1.3 relevant definite determiner

Farther down the hierarchy, ámman îar distinguishes relevant identifiability.  This form may be used to suggest that the referent of the NP, while not immediately identifiable is important or relevant for the discourse as a whole.   This form is often used to introduce new information into discourse.  Once a NP has been introduced with a relevant definite determiner, a speaker or writer may use one of the other definite determiner forms or an appropriate pronoun to refer to this entity.

The relevant definite determiner is formed using the particle e for singular nouns and en for plurals, thus

e dhraug = the wolf     .
en drug   = the wolves.

If a discourse started with:

Galdor saw the wolf.
in i galdran e dhraugon henniarth
(galdra ne drakir anhenath)
in         i   galdran          e       dhraugon    
in         i   galad =an   -0   e       draug -on the galad =masc -[S] the     wolf  -[Obl]
ptp        det nam   =gnd  -abs rel/def n     -dat the Galdor           the     to.wolf     

henno -ia      -rth  
see   -pat/thm -state
v     -val     -vc   

then we would expect the wolf to recur in the discourse.

The relevant definite determiner also causes lenition of the initial consonant of the associated noun in the singular.  The original form of this determiner was er and this form persists when the associated noun begins with a vowel, thus

er adhan   = the man.
en edhain = the men.

4.1.4 indefinite determiner

At the bottom of the definiteness hierarchy, identification of the referent is neither possible nor relevant.  The indefinite determiner is the unmarked form, therefore

megil may mean 'sword' or 'a sword' according to context.

4.2 associative determiners

ámman îar most commonly expresses associative relationships using the genitive case, e.g.

aran ammanîon , [Lord of ámman or ámman's lord].

However, if the first word of the construction is a modified noun or the last word is a common noun and not a name or proper noun the associative determiner may be used in what is sometimes called a periphrastic genitive construction, thus

great lord of amman
vir amman aran vemairin
(arra amarin ammano)
vir    amman aran       vemairin                      
vir    amman arro =an   ve-    mairo        =in       
of.the amman rule =masc descr- be.excessive =favorable
id/ass n     v    =gnd  adj-   v            =nsfx     
of.the amman lord       great                         
Lord or the soul
vir vanim aran
(arra mannairo)
vir    vanim aran      
vir    manim arro =an  
of.the soul  rule =masc
id/ass n     v    =gnd 
of.the soul  lord      

See the section on Genitive Constructions below for an alternative expression.


As with the definite determiners, the associative determiners exist at all levels of definiteness.  While the genitive case construction implies identifiabilty, the associative determiners must be used to indicate identifiability lower on the scale.

associatives singular plural
identifiable vir vin
superset var van
relevant ver ven
indefinite ev ev

4.2.1 identifiable definite associative

eyes of the woman
vir nardhiel hin
(heni nallairo)
vir    nardhiel    hin     
vir    narid  =iel hen -i  
of.the person =fem eye -plu
id/ass n      =gnd n   -num
of.the woman       eyes    

  4.2.2 definite superset associative

eyes of one of the women
min var nardhiel hin
(heni min nallao)
min var         nardhiel    hin     
min var         narid  =iel hen -i  
one some.of.the person =fem eye -plu
qty ss/ass      n      =gnd n   -num
one some.of.the woman       eyes    

4.2.3 relevant definite associative 

eyes of the woman  
(where the woman is expected to recur in the discourse)
ver nardhiel hin
(heni nallairo il)
ver         nardhiel    hin     
ver         narid  =iel hen -i  
of.the(rel) person =fem eye -plu
rel/ass     n      =gnd n   -num
of.the(rel) woman       eyes    

4.2.4 indefinite associative

For indefinite relationships, the associative ev is used for all numbers, e.g.

eyes of a woman
ev nardhiel hin
(heni nallao)
ev        nardhiel    hin     
ev        narid  =iel hen -i  
of.a      person =fem eye -plu
indef/ass n      =gnd n   -num
of.a      woman       eyes    

4.3 demonstrative determiners

Demonstratives represent another type of determiner.  ámman îar has three subclasses of demonstrative determiners, 

  1. those that reflect spatial deixis

  2. those that reflect temporal deixis, and 

  3. those that are use anaphorically. 

4.3.1 spatial deictic demonstrative determiners

ámman îar spatial deictic demonstratives locate entities in space and are divided into 

  1. those of the 1st degree (Proximal) which indicate proximity to the speaker, 

  2. those of the 2nd degree (Distal) which indicate distance from the speaker and 

  3. those of the 3rd degree (Indefinite) which indicate an indefinite or unknown location.


  semantics singular plural example
indefinite indefinite or unknown location merdhha mirdha merdha ristel
that knife

mirdha ristil
those knives

distal definite location, distant from speaker derda dirdha derdha ristel
that knife

dirdha ristil
those knives

proximal definite location, near speaker nerdha nirdha nerdha ristel
this knife

nirdha ristil
these knives indefinite spatial deictic determiner

that knife (somewhere) in the house
merdha ristrad i vardharrar
(dem megles ara mardha)
merdha             ristrad          i  
mer       -da      risso =rad  -0   i  
that      -spatial cut   =tool -[S] the
indef/dem -loc     v     =nsfx -abs det
that               knife            the

mardo =dar     -ar   
build =general -in   
v     =nsfx    -iness      distal spatial deictic determiner

derda ristel i garassar 
that knife (there) in the town

derda     ristel i garassar .
DIST/DEM:                   .
that      knife  in the town. proximal spatial deictic determiner

nerda ristel gammar nerrîon 
this knife (here) in my hand

nerda      ristel gammar   nerrion.
PROX/DEM:                         .
this       knife  in hand  my     .

4.3.2 temporal deictic demonstrative determiners

ámman îar temporal deictic demonstratives locate entities in time and are divided into those of the 1st degree (Proximal) which indicate proximity to the present, those of the 2nd degree (Distal) which indicate distance from the present in either the past or the future and those of the 3rd degree (Indefinite) which indicate an indefinite or unknown temporal location.

  semantics singular plural example
indefinite indefinite or unknown time merla mirla merla erin
that day

mirda irin
those days

distal definite time, distant from present derla dirla derla erin
that day

dirla irin
those days

proximal definite time, near present nerla nirla nerla erin
this day

nirla irin
these days indefinite temporal deictic determiner

an merla orrasen der ervectilîel 
that vacation you planned (for some indeterminate time)

an merla    orrasen  der ervectiliel.
   INDEF/DEM:                       .
that        vacation you planned    . distal temporal deictic determiner

derla calend ithille ilorvinil 
that celebration last month

derla     calend     ithille ilorvinil.
DIST/DEM:                             .
that     celebration month   last     . proximal temporal deictic determiner

nerla thilen 
this year

nerla     thilen.
PROX/DEM:       .
this      year  .

4.3.3 anaphoric demonstrative determiners

ámman îar demonstratives can be used anaphorically to refer back to an earlier NP or series of actions or events.

életh an parma erastincîel minthilaurre 
I read a book yesterday. 

derla parma ammannîas vurîe 
That book was about Ámman

derla     parma ammannias vurie.
DIST/DEM:                      .
that      book  Amman     about.

4.4 genitive determiners

Genitive Determiners precede the object possessed and are formed using the Identifiable Definite associative determiners vir- (singular) and vin- (plural). The 1st and 2nd person Genitive Determiners are deictic determiners.  The 3rd person Genitive Determiners are used anaphorically.

person class singular plural
1st person masculine virner(an) my viniran our
feminine virner(iel) viniriel
epicene virner viniriel
2nd person masculine virdheran your   your
feminine virdheriel vindiril
epicene virdher vindir
3rd person masculine viralan his vinailan their
feminine viraliel her vinelil
epicene viral his/her/its vinail
virner garsis orvaleg vas 
My village is poor.

virner     carsis  orvaleg vas.
1PERPOSS:                     .
my         village poor    is .

This is an example of a predicate adjective construction that does not require a verb.  See Adjective Morphology

The Genitive Determiners are less commonly used then the simple genitive case.  The former expresses a more formal register

carsis nerrîon orvaleg vas 
My village is poor.

carsis  ner -ion orvaleg vas.
            :GEN            .
village my       poor    is .

4.5 interrogative determiners

ámman îar has three interrogative determiners formed using the root -aisa in the singular and -esa in the plural

  semantics singular plural example
constrained constrained referents maisa mesa maisa ristel
which knife

mesa ristil
which knives

unconstrained unconstrained referents laisa lesa laisa ristel
what knife

lesa ristil
what knives

genitive interrogative of possession vaisa vesa vaisa ristel
whose knife

vesa ristil
whose knives

4.5.1 constrained interrogative detreminer

eni gáldran maisa draugen henîarth  
Which wolf did Galdor see?

eni galdran maisa  draugen heniarth.
            CONSTR                 .
    Galdor  which  wolf    see     . 

4.5.2 unconstrained interrogative determiner

eni gáldran laisa draugen henîarth  
What wolf did Galdor see?

eni galdran laisa    draugen heniarth.
            UNCONSTR                 .
    Galdor  what     wolf    see     . 

4.5.3 genitive interrogative determiner

eni gáldran vaisa draugen henîarth  
Whose wolf did Galdor see? 

eni galdran vaisa  draugen heniarth.
            GEN                    .
    Galdor  whose  wolf    see     . 

This latter may also be expressed using the interrogative root in genitve case, thus:

eni galdran draugen aissîon henîarth


4.6 quantifying determiners