Grammar

Like all languages, Ashe has many beautiful patterns, which are what makes it possible to learn and communicate with it.  These patterns are what is referred to as 'grammar'.  Here are some of the most obvious patterns of Ashe grammar.

 

Ashe word order

In a normal Ashe sentence, the subject comes first followed by the verb, followed by the object if there is one.  Linguists abbreviate this as SVO word order.

 

Uŋwɛ  a tãã   igwɛi.

A boy  ate   the meat.

S         V        O

 

Please refer to the booklet Igaw e Irɛm o Oye ni Ishɛ (Parts of Speech in the Ashe Language) for many examples of the following Ashe parts of speech.

 

Ashe noun class system

Nouns are the names of people, places, and things. Like most Benue-Congo languages, all Ashe nouns belong to a certain class, and most other words that refer to that noun must also belong to the same class.  This is similar to noun gender in French and German, for example.  The following table shows some of the elements of each Ashe noun class.

 

Ashe Noun Class Concords

Example Gloss:
'___ fell'
Class sg/pl/
non-count
Subject Index:   _ ji 'fell' Subject Copy pn: ji__ 'fell' ___ shoŋe? 'which ___?' 'this ___' / 'these ___' 'that ___' / 'those ___' 'a certain ___' / 'certain ___'
uti u jiye a tree u- sg u -ye shu umi uyɔɔ unyom
ujew
u jishiyee
sand u- n-c u -yee shu umi uyɔɔ unyom
uneke a jii a person u-
(Human)
sg a -i shu umi uyɔɔ unyom
aneke
a jibɔɔ
people a-
(Human)
pl a -bɔɔ sha abɛɛ abɔɔ abom
enɛɛ
a jibɔɔ
girls e-
(Human)
pl a -bɔɔ sha abɛɛ abɔɔ abom
arii a jikɔɔ a rope a- sg a -kɔɔ sha akɛɛ akɔɔ akom
ayera
a jikɔɔ
leaves a- pl a -kɔɔ sha akɛɛ akɔɔ akom
amɛ a jikɔɔ water a- n-c a -kɔɔ sha akɛɛ akɔɔ akom
eti a jikɔɔ trees e- pl a -kɔɔ sha akɛɛ akɔɔ akom
ekon e jicee a knife e- sg e -cee she ecee ecoo ecom
eãã e jicee salt e- n-c e -cee she ecee ecoo ecom
oje o jicee an egg o- sg o -cee sho ocee ocoo ocom
okon
o jigwee
knives o- pl o -gwee sho ogwee ogwoo ogwom
igwi i jiyɔɔ a dog i- sg i -yɔɔ shi iyɛɛ iyɔɔ inyom
iwor i jiyɔɔ a body i- n-c i -yɔɔ shi iyɛɛ iyɔɔ inyom
ígwi i jiyɔɔ dogs í- pl í -yɔɔ shi iyɛɛ iyɔɔ inyom

 

Definite nouns

The definite form of a noun is used to refer to a particular person, place, or thing that the hearer or reader is aware of.  In English, it is indicated by putting 'the' before the noun.  For example, 'the chicken' refers to a specific chicken while 'a chicken' refers to any chicken.  In Ashe, there are at least two ways to form definite nouns.  One is to add the word 'ha' following the noun.

 

unɛɛ               'girl'

unɛɛ ha          'the girl'

 

Another way to form a definite noun is by adding a suffix to the noun.

 

ino                  'chicken'

inoi                 'the chicken'

 

The shape of the definite suffix in Ashe is determined by the last letter of the stem of the noun, as shown in the following table.

 

Definite Noun Formation

Last Letter Definite Suffix Example Gloss
a -i ugba - ugbai pot - the pot
ɛ -i amɛ - amɛi water – the water
i -i uti - utii tree - the tree
o -i ino - inoi chicken - the chicken
ɔ -i oshɔ̃ – oshɔ̃i inside – the inside
u -i abu - abui gruel - the gruel
e -i or
-she
oje - ojei,
ojeshe
egg - the egg
k -e ocok - ocoke name - the name
ŋ -e enɛŋ – enɛŋe place – the place
r -ke igwer - igwerke lizard - the lizard
n -ŋe abin - abinŋe thing - the thing
w -> kp -e inew - inekpe bean - the bean
m -> w -ẽ ugããm - ugããwẽ sugarcane -
the sugarcane

However, nouns that end with 'i' after another vowel form the definite with either –le or –she.

 

inai     'rain'              inashe             'the rain'

otɛi     'stone'            otɛle               'the stone'

 

Since we have not yet discovered a pattern that shows which such nouns take the suffix –she and which take the suffix -le, we have indicated the correct one in each such noun's entry.

 

Pronouns

Once a noun has been introduced in a story or conversation, it can be referred to by a pronoun rather than repeating the noun again and again.  We can say that a pronoun takes the place of a noun.  When referring to people, Ashe uses six personal pronouns:

ime 'I', 'me' inte 'we', 'us'
iŋõõ 'you' inyime 'you (plural)'
iyee 'he/she', 'him/her' imbɔɔ 'they', 'them'

Please see Igaw e Irɛm o Oye ni Ishɛ for descriptive examples of Ashe pronouns.

 

Verbs

Verbs are words for actions, processes, or conditions.  The subject of every Ashe verb must be indicated before the verb stem, and may also be indicated after the verb stem as indicated in the noun class table.  Please see the verb chapter in Igaw e Irɛm o Oye ni Ishɛ too.  That chapter also shows which other consonant and vowel sounds are added to verbs to indicate the timing and completeness of the action.  It is likely that we will still discover some changes to the tunes of verbs that indicate other aspects of the action, and we will need to decide how to indicate these in writing.

Like many other related languages, Ashe uses verbs called stative verbs to describe the state or nature or condition of something, like English uses adjectives for.  So Ashe does not need many adjectives.

 

Adverbs

As in many other languages, Ashe adverbs, which describe how, when, or where a verb happens, can occur in many different places in a sentence.

 

Ideophones

Like many other African and Asian languages, Ashe also uses words whose sounds give the idea of how something happens.  These are referred to as ideophones, which means idea-sounds.  They usually function like adverbs or verbs.  For example, "A tẽ ucer naa bai zɛb zɛb zɛb zɛb," conveys the idea that the one coming running is heavy.