I am working on a conlang and am trying to better handle the distinction between adverbs, adjectives, and determiners. Adverbs modify verbs (and other things), and adjectives modify nouns, but determiners aren't typically said to modify anything. But in my perspective, for my conlang, I would like to treat determiners as a form of "focusing modifiers", essentially focusing the context of the the following phrase in some way (i.e. "the tree").

Currently I have the general rule:

  • i: Precede the verb with this
  • a: Precede the noun with this
  • u: Precede the modifier chain with this

However, it doesn't seem like it will work now that I think of it.

For example:

I will super quietly run quickly.

That really is a bunch of adverbs to the verb run, some coming before and some coming after. I think I am going to enforce the modifiers coming before the thing they are modifying.

I will super quietly quickly run.

But the problem with this is, quiet and quick are adjectives, they are already modifiers before being turned into adverbs! In my lang, it would be something like this:

a me i will u super quiet quick i run.

But am I going to run into problems with this? Should I be adding particles/distinguishers between adjectives and adverbs or something like that (both are modifiers...)? I.e.:

a me i will u super-ly quiet-ly quick-ly i run.

Or is it possible to completely know unambiguously that u <a> <b> <c> ... i <verb> means a, b, and c are all verb modifiers, while u <a> <b> <c> ... a <noun> means a, b, and c are all noun modifiers? Are there any cases where you would blend together noun and verb modifiers in some way, causing this system to break down? Specifically like in a more complex sentence? I haven't thought of any.

I quickly saw the super fast car drive recklessly.

That would become something like:

[a] me [u] quick [i] saw [u] the super fast [a] car [u] reckless [i] drive

So it seems you always have a sequence <verb modifiers> <verb> <noun modifiers> <noun> <verb modifiers> <verb> etc.

  • 1
    Terminology fix: What is called "determiner" in this question is not what usually named so in modern grammars. A modifier of an adverb may be called intensifier but usually it is lumped under the label adverb as well.
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 22:40
  • For determiners, look at this question on Linguistics: linguistics.stackexchange.com/a/12994/9781
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 22:42


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