The LCC2 Relay

Welcome to the LCC Relay! Use the navigation ring below to choose a destination:

Introduction | Rules | Participants | Summary | FAQ
Previous LCC Relays | All Previous Relays

3. Skerre by Doug Ball

Texts | Grammar | Lexicon
Previous (Sylvia Sotomayor, Kēlen) | Next (Alex Fink, Sabasasaj)


A Kesorok Res

Te tari, kiyes hiyakor-ha te witsora, etasi saa quoquos-ha nakit ir eweni-ha te kesor to eres! Ehanin-ha a kesor res te haayan-he ir etsen-ha ya ten, «Kesor res-na-wa?» Ir equayik «Yot, kesor res-ha.» Eyan, etsen-ha ya kesor res «Koni-na-wa kiyik te siyeren-ne ya hen?» Equayik ya hen, «Yot, koni-ha ki’ak a tar ritsa.» Keriiheres-ha soo quayiko i kesor res ir esatsan-ha soo hantar ya tis i toyakok. Riitar koni watoka a kesor res ritsa hari.
  Smooth English

"The Bigshot Talking Stone"

One time, while I was walking along the shore, it happened that I made an errant step and stepped on a stone that talked! I gathered the stone in my hands and asked it, "Are you a talking stone?" And it replied, "Indeed, I am a talking stone." Then, I asked the talking stone, "Wouldn't you tell me the story of your life?" And it replied to me, "Yes, I would never do that." I got angry from the talking stone's reply and I forcefully chucked it into the massive lake. Therefore, the talking stone was never seen again.
Smooth English Translation of the Kēlen Text

The Talking Stone

Yesterday, when I was going along the beach, I made a false step and ended up on a talking stone. I took the talking stone into my hands and asked if it was a talking stone. The reply came from the talking stone, "Yes, I am a talking stone." I asked the talking stone, "Why don't you tell me about (your) path?" He replied to me, "Because I am a mean talking stone."* I became angry at the talking stone's reply; therefore, I throw it into the ocean with force. Never again was the talking stone visible to my eye at all.

[*I took the talking stone to be intentionally ignoring the illocutionary force of the narrator's question and responding as if the narrative had literally asked for the reason for why the stone didn't tell about his path. Though there is no formal equivalent to "why not" in Skerre, I tried to maintain the spirit of this non-cooperation in my own translation.]




Skerre is a reasonably consistent head-initial language, with a moderate amount of mostly derivational morphology. It has reasonably clear lexical classes. It has split ergative alignment within nominals: the pronouns have accusative alignment while the full noun phrases have ergative alignment.

The following is a rather schematic sketch of the grammar relevant for the text above. You can also consult the chapters accessible from for more information on the grammar of Skerre.

Syntactic Rules:
  • S --> (Neg) V KP* (Adv)
  • KP --> K NP
  • NP --> N Adj* RelC*
  • RelC --> Rel S
  • CP --> Comp S
  • S ---> Discourse Part S
  • S --> (S) Conj S

(The notation "XP*" follows standard practice in mathematics, meaning there is from zero to infinity of the category XP.)

Morphological Constructions Resulting in Nouns:
  • N + -ok Augmentative
    • Denotes larger version of N; can be used pejoratively

  • V + -o Product Nominalization
    • Denotes a product of the event denoted by the verb
Morphological Constructions Resulting in Verbs:

(Note that morphs within the verb outscope things to their right.)

  • e- + V – Perfective
    • View a proposition externally; informally it's "completed"

  • CV reduplicant + V – Irregular Imperfective
    • Views a proposition internally, informally, the proposition in in-progress. Only found with a few verbs (A different morph, not found in the above text, is used for other verbs).

  • ki- + V – Irrealis
    • Denotes a possible event rather than an actual one. Often equivalent to English 'would'

  • qua- + V – back directional
    • Specifies that (literal or metaphorical) motion back towards a salient position (often the speaker) occurred in conjunction with the main predicate denoted by the verb

  • hi- + V – along directional
    • Specifies that (literal or metaphorical) motion along a path occurred in conjunction with the main predicate denoted by the verb

  • rii- + V – Causative
    • Specifies that the event had an external cause and causer

  • ke- + V – Anticausative
    • Takes an externally-caused event and turns into an internally-caused one. Similar to Romance reflexive verbs.

  • V + -(i)n – Transitive
    • Appears on verbs when they have a grammatical object, whether overtly expressed or not. The allomorph -n appears after vowel-final stems; the allomorph -in after consonant-final stems.
The Base Form of the Verb:

This form is used in lots of different contexts. Among its strictly verbal uses are describing stative or habitual situations and in imperatives (see below for more uses).

  • A verb can become either an adjectival participle or adverb without any additional morphology.

  • An NP can function as a predicate nominal (where it appears in the verb spot) without any additional morphology.
  • There are both full and clitic realizations of the pronouns. Most of the time the clitic suffices.

  • There are no clitic 3sg forms (except for possessives). 3sg referents are often just inferred from context, although third person independent pronouns will sometimes be used.
Clitic Locations and Orthographic Conventions:
  • Subject clitics appear in 2nd position in the clause (the clause = S in the rules above). This is usually after the verb, but not always.

  • The question particle is also a clitic, with a similar distribution to the subject clitics.

  • Possessor clitics immediately follow their possessed nouns.

  • Following orthographic conventions in some Romance languages, a hyphen separates the clitic from its host.



a [K] absolutive marker; often can be just translated as 'the'
(’)ak [V] do

eyan [Discourse Part] and then; subsequently

ha [Pro] 1sg subject
haayan [N] hands (acting as a single unit)
han [V] gather
hantar [N] force
hari [Adv] again
he [Pro] 1sg possessor
hen [N] 1sg independent pronoun
heres [V] be angry

i [K] of, the genitive marker
ir [Conj] and

kesor [N] stone, rock
kiyes [Comp] when, while, during
koni [Neg] verbal negator
kor [Discourse Part] no

na [Pro] 2sg subject
nakit [V] be wrong, err
ne [Pro] 2sg possessor

quos [V] come, go, move

res [V] speak, talk
riitar [Discourse Part]
ritsa [Adv] ever

saa [Comp] that; introduces complement clauses
satsa [V] throw, launch
siyeren [N] life, life journey
soo [K] basic meaning is 'from', but often extended to other source and source-like relationships

tar [N] that
tari [N] time
tasi [V] happen
te [K] basic meaning is 'at, in, on', but often extended to other metaphorical locative relationships
ten [N] 3sg independent pronoun
tis [N] inside, the interior
to [Rel] the relativizer
toyak [N] lake

tsen [V] ask, question

wa [Q] question particle
watoka [V] be visible
weni [V] tread (on), march (on)
witsora [N] shore

ya [K] basic meaning is 'to', but extended to other goal-oriented relationships
yakor [V] walk
yik [V] say, tell
yot [Discourse Part] indeed, yes. you're right

Previous (Sylvia Sotomayor, Kēlen) | Next (Alex Fink, Sabasasaj)

This page was last modified on Friday, August 3, 2018.
This website was last modified on .
This page can be viewed normally, as a milk or dark chocolate bar, in sleek black and white, or in many other ways!
All languages, fonts, pictures, and other materials copyright © 2003- David J. Peterson.

free counters