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.
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.
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
|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|
|uneke a jii||a person||u-
|arii a jikɔɔ||a rope||a-||sg||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|
|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|
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 ha 'the girl'
Another way to form a definite noun is by adding a suffix to the noun.
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|
|oje - ojei,
|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 -
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.
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'|
|iyee||'he/she', 'him/her'||imbɔɔ||'they', 'them'|
Please see Igaw e Irɛm o Oye ni Ishɛ for descriptive examples of Ashe pronouns.
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.
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.
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.