Yet Another Logical Language

Alphabet and phonetics

A word in Yall is made of a succession of syllables. Each syllable is made of three phonemes: an initial consonant, a vowel, and a final consonant. There are nine possible initial consonants: p, b, t, d, k, g, j, w and ' (glottal stop). There are seven possible vowels: a, e, E, o, i, y and u. And there are five possible final consonants: (void), n, l, r and s. Altogether, this gives a total of 9*7*5=315 syllables from which the language is made up.

The initial consonants p, b, t, d, k and g are pronounced [p], [b], [t], [d], [k] and [g], more or less as the corresponding English letters most frequently are. The consonant j is a semi-vowel, [j], and is pronounced as the ‘y’ in “yes”, or (especially before i), even more consonantally [ʝ], as the ‘y’ in “yeast”. The consonant w is pronounced [w] as the corresponding English sound before unrounded vowels (a, e and i), but is more frequently pronounced as a simple ‘v’ ([v]) before the other (rounded) vowels. The consonant ' is a glottal stop [ʔ] (sometimes pronounced with a slight ‘h’ element following it).

The vowel a is pronounced [a] as in the French word “chat”, though a rather wide variability is possible. The vowel e is pronounced [e] as in the the French word “été” in open syllables (that is, those with a void final consonant), and [ɛ] as in the English word “bed” in closed syllables (those with any other final consonant). The vowel E (note that this is not the upper-case version of the former: indeed, Yall is case-sensitive and is written all in lower-case except for this single letter) is pronounced [ø] as in the ‘eu’ in the French word “feu” in open syllables, and [œ] as in the French word “peuple” in closed syllables. The vowel o is pronounced [o] as the ‘au’ in the French word “faux” in open syllables, and [ɔ] as the ‘o’ in the French word “or” in closed syllables. The vowel i is pronounced [i] as in the French word “ici”. The vowel y is pronounced [y] as the ‘u’ in the French word “dur”. The vowel u is pronounced [u] as the ‘ue’ in the English word “blue”.

The void final consonant is not pronounced (but affects the pronunciation of the preceding mid vowel to be less open). The final consonant n is pronounced as a nasal, normally the regular English ‘n’ ([n]), although it can take the quality of the following initial consonant, if any; it slightly nasalizes the preceding vowel. The final consonant l is pronounced [l] as in the French word “lu” (this is much less velar than the English counterpart). The final consonant r is a flap ([ɾ]), much the same as the ‘tt’ (not the ‘r’) in a very American pronunciation of “butter”, or a trill ([r]). The final consonant s is normally pronounced [s] as the corresponding English letter, but allows tremendous variability (in particular, it can be voiced [z] before voiced initial consonants, and it can be palatalized to a sound [ʃ] resembling the English ‘sh’ before an initial j).

Yall has no stress accent: all syllables are stressed more or less evenly.

A course in Yall

Simple sentences

We start with a one-word sentence: kurtus. This means “it rains”. The word kurtus is the verb “to rain” and is also the noun “rain” (but not “rainwater”): Yall does not distinguish the two. In the proper context, kurtus can also mean “it is raining” or “it was raining” or various other tenses.

Now consider bEpen binwol dys, which means “the cat sleeps”. The first word, bEpen, means “to sleep” and is also the noun “sleep”. This verb requires an indication of who is sleeping, and this is indicated by the grammatical word dys, which is the “primary object particle” (probably the single most important word of Yall). Finally, binwol means “cat” (again, this does not specify whether the cat is sleeping or a cat is sleeping, or a cat was sleeping, or various other possibilities, even that the cats are sleeping). The phrase bEpen binwol dys can also mean “the cat's sleep”.

Next take the sentence dE binwol jin kelgir dys. This means “the cat sees the dog”. First, the word dE means “to see” (or “sight”): this verb takes two complements, one indicating who is doing the seeing and the other indicating what is seen. The seer (the subject of the sentence, in classical terminology) is indicated by the particle jin, whereas what is seen (the object of the sentence) is indicated by dys; note that the same particle dys served to indicate who was sleeping and now serves to indicate what is seen. Of course, the word kelgir means “dog”. Now the sentence dE kelgir dys binwol jin means exactly the same thing, except perhaps we would translate it as “the dog is seen by the cat”. On the other hand, the sentence dE kelgir jin binwol dys, as dE binwol dys kelgir jin, of course, means, “the dog sees the cat”.

The verb ganbon means “to fear” or “to frighten” according to the way it is used: the particle jin indicates the cause of the fear, whereas the particle dys indicates who is afraid. For example, ganbon binwol dys means “the cat is afraid”, and ganbon binwol dys kelgir jin means “the cat is afraid of the dog”. And ganbon kelgir jin means something like “the dog is frightening”. (However, if we wish to be more precise in our analysis of meaning, ganbon implies that the fear is actually present, not potential.)

Now we have seen that kurtus means “rain”. From this it follows that we can say ganbon binwol dys kurtus jin: “the cat is afraid of the rain” (or “…because it is raining”). Furthermore, there is no reason why we can't have complements: ganbon binwol dys dE kelgir dys jin means “the cat is afraid because it sees the dog” or “the sight of the dog frightens the cat” or some similar thing. Notice that dE kelgir dys, “the sight of the dog” is unambiguous: dys clearly indicates that kelgir (“the dog”) is object, not subject.

“The dog is large” translates as tEs kelgir dys: here, tEs means “to be large”, and what is big is followed by the particle dys. Notice how there is no difference in syntax between the sentences bEpen binwol dys (“the cat is sleeping”) and tEs kelgir dys (“the dog is large”). Of course, the sentence ganbon binwol dys tEs kelgir dys jin means “the cat is afraid of the dog's largeness”.

But how would we proceed to say “the large dog”? Here we need a new particle, namely tis, which is in a way the “converse” of dys. So “the large dog” is kelgir tEs tis, as in ganbon binwol dys kelgir tEs tis jin (“the cat is afraid of the large dog”). Similarly, binwol bEpen tis is “the sleeping cat”, binwol ganbon tis is “the frightened cat”, and of course binwol ganbon kelgir jin tis is “the cat that is frightened by the dog”.

Just as tis is the “converse” of dys, there is wos which is the “converse” of jin: we have already mentioned ganbon kelgir jin, “the dog is frightening”, so reversing the terms we have kelgir ganbon wos, “the frightening dog”. (In a way, we can say that tis constructs a passive participle whereas wos constrcuts an active participle; but this terminology is somewhat inappropriate to the structure of Yall.)

Cats and dogs don't take complements with the particles dys and jin, contrary to frights and sights. However, it is quite possible to say “my dog”: this uses the particle ko indicating ownership, and it would be kelgir tu ko (the word tu is the first person singular pronoun). Further knowing that bi is the second person (“you”), we can say ganbon binwol bi ko dys kelgir tu ko jin, “your cat is afraid of my dog” or dE tu jin binwol bi ko dys, “I see your cat”. However, it should be emphasized that not all meanings of English possessives are translated by ko: we have already seen the example of bEpen tu dys, “my sleep”.


We have seen that bEpen tu dys means “I sleep” or “I am sleeping”. How would we go about saying “I slept”? For this, we need the past particle, which is wyr: this is used immediately after the verb. So bEpen wyr tu dys means “I slept”. Note that the past particle indicates relative past; for example, if the entire context is understood to be in the past, it might indicate something like the pluperfect. There is nothing a priori prohibiting the use of wyr with nouns or adjective (assuming these terms have any meaning in Yall), only it is not frequently meaningful: what is kelgir wyr, a “former dog” (it might mean “deceased” but a more precise term would probably be preferable)? But kurtus wyr means “it rained”. Of course, one shouldn't confuse kelgir wyr tEs tis (a large former dog) with kelgir tEs wyr tis (a formerly large dog). At any rate, the wyr particle cannot be applied to other particles (such as ko).

While we're at it, let us mention te, which is the negation. It goes before the word it qualifies, that is, generally, before the entire sentence: te dE tu jin kelgir bi ko dys, “I don't see your dog”; ganbon kelgir te bEpen tis jin binwol dys, “the cat is afraid of the dog that does not sleep”. And similarly, the word tus, indicating global interrogation, is placed before the word about which the question is asked: tus bEpen wyr bi dys?, “were you asleep?”; dE tus binwol dys tu jin?, “is it a cat I see?”.

If we wish to do partial interrogation, we use the word po, which means, essentially, “which”; it is placed after the word to which it relates. For example, tEs binwol po dys? means “which cat is large?”.

The interrogative po is frequently used with the generic pronoun, wus. The latter word is pretty tricky and can refer to anything: person, beast, thing, or even action or idea; so it is far more general than “(some)thing”. There is little difference between ganbon binwol dys (“the cat is afraid”) and ganbon binwol dys wus jin (“the cat is afraid of something”) except that the latter allows various qualifiers to be added to wus. And, as we just mentioned, po is one such possible qualifier: ganbon binwol dys wus po jin? means “what is the cat afraid of?”. One can also say wus po bi jin kelgir dys?, “what did you do to the dog?”; but this is a very, very vague “do”.

The interest of the wus po (“what thing”) construction is that both terms can be made to vary. For example, the English interrogative pronoun “who” translates, essentially, as pan po: here, pan is an animate indefinite pronoun (the essential difference, therefore, between the English “who” and the Yall pan po, is that pan po can refer to an animal). For example, ganbon binwol dys pan po jin? means “who is the can afraid of?”. For inanimate things, we have pun instead of pan.

But the po can also be changed to many other things (“qualifiers”). From binwol po? (“which cat?”) we move to binwol be (“all cats”), binwol 'e (“each cat” or “every cat”), binwol del (“any cat”), binwol don (“some cat”), binwol da (“the cat”), binwol den (“the only cat”), binwol pul (“this cat (I have just mentioned)”), binwol dun (“the cat we have been talking about all along”), binwol pes (“this cat here”), binwol jes (“that cat there”), and possibly some more. And similarly we have pan be (“everyone”), pun pul (“this thing I've just mentioned”) and all sorts of other combinations.

Of particular importance are the combinations pan dun (“this person we have been talking about all along”) and pun dun (“this thing we have been talking about all along”), as well as pan pul (“this person I just mentioned”) and pun pul (“this thing I just mentioned”). The first two are more or less equivalent to 'en and 'En, and the latter two to ban and bun: these are respectively the third person (animate, inanimate) and fourth person (animate, inanimate) pronouns. Both get translated to “he”, “she” or “it”, but with the difference that fourth person pronouns are of a much more local scope than third person pronouns: third person pronouns are expected to refer to the same person or thing through several sentences if not entire paragraphs, whereas fourth person pronouns refer to something much closer in the speech. However, the difference is pretty much arbitrary and left to the locutor's convenience. We might say: dE binwol dys tu jin: bEpen ban dys, “I see a cat: it is asleep”, just as we might say …bEpen 'en dys with the same meaning if we expect to refer to the cat later on (or, on the contrary, if we are not referring to the cat but rather to the dog we have been talking about all along).

Now that we've mentioned the pronouns tu (“I”), bi (“you”, singular or plural), 'en and ban (“he” or “she”), 'En and bun (“it”), we might as well continue with two more pronouns, de and 'in, both of which translate as “we”, the difference being that the latter specifically includes “you” in its scope. Finally, we mention the pronoun 'Es which is reflexive: it is used to indicate that, for example, the verb's subject is identical with its primary object; then whichever complement is placed first would use the pronoun 'Es, and the second complement would give the actual object. So for exemple ganbon 'Es jin tu dys or ganbon 'Es dys tu jin both mean “I frighten myself”.

We mention some further qualifiers, which are placed after the word to which they relate: bor is the deferential form, whereas 'al is the familiar form. Thus, whereas bi means “you” in a somewhat neutral manner, one might address say bi bor when speaking to a superior; on the contrary, when speaking to a friend one might say bi 'al; when in doubt, it is best to simply say bi. The two qualifiers are not incompatible, in fact: bi 'al bor might be employed in a form of amour courtois for example, but it is rare; and bor bor can be used to indicate extreme deference. Note that these qualifiers are never used ironically.

Translated phrases

It rains kurtus
I see a cat dE binwol dys tu jin
I see a sleeping cat dE binwol bEpen tis dys tu jin
When it rains, the cat sleeps bEpen kurtus gel binwol dys
You give me a book kErpyr dar'yn dys tu gys bi jin
I like the book you gave (me) ter dar'yn kErpyr wyr (tu gys) bi jin tis dys tu gys
I see the man whose large dog frightens my cat dE pan ganbon kelgir tEs tis pan jul ko jin binwol tu ko dys 'as dys tu jin
I read a book destined to frighten children wejes dar'yn ganbon dErdEn dys tul dys tu jin


Function particles

Function particles are placed at the end of the complement phrase whose function they mark.

Direct cases

Primary objectdystis
Secondary objectgyskis

Oblique cases (postpositions)

Unspecified obliquegur


Personal pronouns

The first person refers to the locutor; the second person refers to a person addressed; the third person refers to the principal object of discussion; the fourth person refers to any other person or object or thing.

First person singulartu
Second personbi
Third person animate'en
Fourth person animateban
Third person inanimate'En
Fourth person inanimatebun
First person pluralde

Qualifier bearer pronouns

These are essentially used to bear qualifiers; they are indefinite in themselves (as the English words “do”, “thing”, “person”) but that does not prevent them from being used with indefinite qualifiers.

Inanimate thingpun


These are placed after the word to which they relate.

Pronoun- and noun-combining

Universal indefinitedel
Regular indefinitedon
Third persondun
Proximal demonstrativepes
Distant demonstrativejes
Relative recallingjul

Verbal forms


(conditional mood)
he; she; they (fourth person animate pronoun)
every (universal qualifier)
sleep; to sleep (dys indicates sleeper)
using (instrumental particle)
(form of respect)
you (second person pronoun)
(initiative derivative)
it; they (fourth person inanimate pronoun)
(perfect derivative)
person; -one (animate indefinite pronoun)
(accomplished tense)
(causative derivative)
this (proximal demonstrative)
which; what (partial interrogative)
thing (inanimate indefinite pronoun)
in question (recalling qualifier)
not (negation; used before the word)
to like (dys indicates what is liked, gys who does the liking)
big; large (dys indicates what is big)
(potential derivative)
(converse primary object particle)
I; me (first person singular pronoun)
in order to (goal particle)
(immediate present tense)
(global interrogative; used before the word)
the (definite qualifier)
we (not necessarily including you; first person plural pronoun)
the (unique qualifier)
any (universal indefinite qualifier)
sight (action of seeing); to see (jin indicates seer, dys indicates seen)
child; young person
some (regular indefinite qualifier)
(primary object particle)
in question (third person qualifier)
in; at (locating particle)
gift (act of giving); to give (action; jin indicates giver, dys indicates gift, gys indicates recipient of gift)
of (particle indicating ownership)
(converse secondary object particle)
from (origin particle)
rain; to rain; it rains
fear; fright; to frighten (state; jin indicates source of fright, dys indicates fightened); to be afraid (dys indicates who is afraid)
(time particle)
every (universal qualifier of identity)
to do; to perform an unspecified action (verbal indefinite pronoun)
completely (universal qualifier of extent)
(secondary object particle)
(particle indicating an unspecified oblique relation)
to; toward (direction particle)
that (distant demonstrative)
because of (cause particle)
(subject particle)
which (relative recalling qualifier)
to read (reader is indicated by jin, what is read is indicated by dys)
(imperative mood)
(general present tense: normally omitted)
(indicative mood: normally omitted)
(converse subject particle)
(general past tense)
(generic indefinite pronoun)
(form of familiarity)
(ends a relative subordinate clause)
each (distributive qualifier)
he; she; they (third person animate pronoun)
it; they (third person inanimate pronoun)
(reflexive pronoun)
we (including you; first-and-second person pronoun)
happy; to be happy (dys indicates who is happy)
to believe (dys indicates what is believed, gys who does the believing)
to state (dys indicates what is stated, jin who does the stating)
(future tense)

David Madore

Last modified: $Date: 2002/06/17 22:42:00 $