Common Topic

Glossing Conventions for Common

Keywords: glossing, housekeeping

In this article we will briefly discuss the manner which we have constructed the glosses for Common. For the purposes of this body of work, we have developed particular conventions for convenience, as well as selected particular glossing abbreviations. This article explains the conventions chosen and lists the glossing abbreviations used. Some abbreviations chosen are specifically shortened from their more common standard forms, created out of nothing, or used in a nonstandard way in order to make Common glosses more concise and attuned to the language.

Common has is a highly fusional language in small set of the vocabulary in which it is common for one morpheme to encode several meanings at once. The remainder of the vocabulary tends to be isolating, with mostly distinct derivational affixes with single meanings.

Many words do not have fusional meanings of derivational affixes - a simple English gloss will be chosen for these close to the word's perceived 'centre of gravity' in terms of its meaning. Common words can have notoriously broad and slippery meanings, but we will try to choose fairly consistent glosses.

Some vocabulary items look like they have clear affixes that convey a part of the meaning, but in many cases this is an illusion and a product of design and there are a number of cases where things that look like affixes aren't. For that reason, we will to take words like 'wenaz', a first person plural nominative article and pronoun, and gloss it as a single morpheme instead of trying to parse out 'we' and 'naz', the latter of which looks like it's functioning as a nominative suffix.

To handle this, when glossing a word, meanings imparted to the word fusionally will be glossed with glossing abbreviations separated by periods, and glossing abbreviations of separable morphemic parts will be separated  by hyphens.

For articles, the order will be person-definiteness-case-number (though that article part may be dropped, since it is always present across the board for noun determiners). The fact that these also function as pronouns will be ignored and they will always be glossed the same way.


naz pikki
3.DEF.NOM.PL cat

ijur sy
2.DAT.PA sir

Relative pronouns will be introduced with RELN or RELV instead of person, the former for 'su', applying to nouns, and the latter for 'si', applying to verbs.

For verbal auxiliaries, the order will be valence-tense-aspect-mood.


te zeul


nuxuty jusal

'would have wanted'

To contrast a gloss with separable morphemes, observe how the tight binding affix -no is glossed with a hyphen:




Glossing Abbreviations for Common
Abbreviation Meaning
1 First Person
2 Second Person
3 Third Person
ABS Absolutive case
AVA Avalent valence
CAU Causitive themic term
DAT Dative case
DEF Definite
DTR, DTRN Ditransitive valence
EQ Equal (comparison)
ERG Ergative case
EX Exclusive person
EXP Experiential themic term
FEM Feminine
GT Greater than (comparative)
GG Greatest (superlative)
IC Internal conjunction
IM Imperfect aspect
IN Inclusive person
IR, IRREAL Irrealis mood
LT Less than (comparative)
LL Least (sublative)
MASC Masculine
MOD Derivation to the modifier part of speech
NOM Nominative case
NDEF Indefinite
NP, NPST Non-Past tense
NTRN Intransitive valance
NTS Intensifying modifier
NULL Element is nullified
P, PST Past tense
PA Paucal number
PF, PRF Perfect aspect
PL Plural number
Q Uncertain, question particle
R, REAL Realis mood
RCP Recipientive themic term
RELN Relativiser for nouns
RELV Relativizer for pronouns
SG Singular number
STR, STRN Semitransitive valence
TB Tight binding modifier
TER Derivation to the term part of speech
TR, TRN Transitive valence
TRACE Used to mark grammatical traces of moved elements

Short Glosses

As you can see, a single Common article/pronoun or auxiliary verb packs a lot of mandatory meaning in a small packages and glosses can become unwieldy. In order to make text more readable, short glosses may be applied in places by expressing part of the gloss of the particle with a shortcut. The remaining glossed information about the particle will be placed after it in a bracket, and only the parts of the meaning relevant to the meaning fo the passage may be included, other meanings which are technical present may be omitted. Such short forms are given for verbal auxiliaries as well, in this case taken from the gloss of their paradigm verb and standing for the AUX + transitivity part of their meaning.

In short glosses, certain meanings are considered default and an explicit gloss is only given if it violates the expectation.

Short Glosses for Common Determiners
Determiner Short Gloss Implicit Sense
we 'I', for paucal and plural 'we(EX)' and 'we(IN)' 1.SG
zu 'you' 2.SG
a (with head term) 'the' for definite, 'a' for indefinite singular 3.DEF.SG
a (without head term) 'it' for things, 'they' for people whether singular or plural 3.DEF.SG
ko 'what' 3.Q.SG
su/si 'that' RELN or RELV
zres 'rain' AVA.R
se 'stand' NTRN.R
te 'hit' TRN.R
nox 'go' STRN.R
hap 'give' DTRN.R

The same examples using short glosses:

naz pikki
the(NOM.PL) cat

ijur sy
you(DAT.PA) sir

te zeul
hit(NP.IM) eye


nuxuty jusal
go(IR.P.PF) want

'would have wanted'


Related Topics

Related Literature