Common Topic


Keywords: conjunctions, edge, internal, grammar, overview

In this article we will discuss conjunctions ('naz heratca') in Common. In the classical explanation, Common has two clases of conjunctions, edge ('naz hajkys heratca') and internal ('naz fit heratca'). All Common conjunctions are considered to be coordinating conjunctions by Common grammarians; the equivalent subordinating conjunctions are actually considered to be a kind of verb modifier.

There is actually a controversy amongst grammarians of Common in the NWO as to whether conjunctions are a legitimate part of speech or not. The classical analysis is that they are and they have the two classes mentioned, edge and internal, which will be explained below. There is a radical purist faction that has arisen in recent years, however, that tries to argue that conjunctions don't actually exist in Common, and that edge conjunctions are a kind of regular verbal modifier and internal conjunctions are a special kind of tight binding modifier.

We wish to point out the controversy exists, however, we will not take the side of the radical purists, and we will provide the classical explanation of how conjunctions work in Common. We will do this by explaining and attempting to fully enumerate the basic conjunctions of Common and explain their functions.

As to the two classes, they concern whether the conjunction is allowed inside the determiner-head term bracket of phrases or not. Common conjunctions must be one or the other. An English conjunctions like 'and' might be used in both senses, such as 'Apples and oranges are fruits.', or 'He plays poker and he drinks whiskey.' In Common, these senses of 'and' are separate words. Internal conjunctions are of the 'apples and oranges' variety and are allowed to insert inside phrase brackets or inside elements moved from a phrase, and edge conjunctions are of the 'he gambles and he drinks' variety and can only exist at the boundaries between phrases and clauses.

Internal Conjunctions

Interal conjunctions can only be used inside a determiner-head term bracket or inside an element that notionally came from inside such an element. It may not be used inside a prepositional phrase or relative clause, however, except in the context of a noun or verb phrase bracket internal to that element. It tightly binds with its arguments before and after. It acts somewhat like a tight binding modifer that takes two arguments instead of one, one on either side, which is part of the radical purist argument that it is in fact a tight binding modifier and not really a separate part of speech.

There is a relatively small set of such conjunctions. They form a closed class. They actualy can be used to connect terms, which is an argument against the purist argument that they are tight binding modifiers, which generally don't apply to terms.

Internal Conjunctions
Conjunction Gloss Meaning
pi and Both arguments apply to the head term together and are not contrastive. Can be chained.
haj or Presents two alternatives, one or the other of which may apply to the head term or be the head term. When chained, only one member of the chain is naturally taken to apply to the head term.
ik/pik neither/nor The first argument must take the negative tight binding modifier 'ik' meaning not. As many arguments introduced by 'pik' can be strung after and all also are negative relative to the head term in a way that is related to each other.
jo but, yet Both arguments are true, the second is a contrastive idea. Should not be chained. If either of its arguments is itself conjunct, the totality of one side is contrasted with the totality of the other.
han then, and then Similar to the internal conjunction 'pi', 'han' connects two arguments, an antecedent and an object, which are not contrasted with each other, but ublike pi, han implies sequentiality. For example, 'uzre pi eotil', 'green and red', implies the object is both colours at once, whereas 'uzre han eotil' implies that the colours are changing back and forth.'Han' may also be chained.

When a tight binding modifier is used before a sequence of modifiers joined by internal conjunctions, there is some ambiguity as to whether it applies only to the first in the sequence or to the whole sequence, but it can be interpreted as applying to the whole sequence, especially if the conjunctions are 'pi' or 'haj'.


A pantera na Kanata se an eotil pi zilus.
The flag of Canada is red and white.

Note in this example the modifiers red and white, applying to the verb 'an', to be, are moved outside the bracket, but take an internal conjunction to connect them. When using two modifiers of exactly the same class to equally apply to the head term, it is good style to connect with them with 'pi' rather than just write 'eotil, zilus', although you can do the latter. Using 'pi' allows you to modify the set as a group, as in 'faj eotil pi zilus', 'very red and white', in which both colours are intensified in the Common reading.

Ja ik sinku pik akpe paluh tene zeul a pocuk.
The neither small nor large dog has seen the child.

This is another way of getting at the idea of 'medium size', and is reasonably good idiomatic Common, although there are other good ways of expressing the same idea.

Ja sinku jo werta pikki teo slek a skitrem.
The small but strong cat was eating the mouse.

Edge Conjunctions

Edge conjunctions are essentially all coordinating conjunctions, as subordinating conjunctions are considered generally to belong to the adverbial modifier class, even by traditional grammarians. Any clause may begin with a conjunction, and Common does have idiomatic correlative conjunctions where a pair of conjunctions will work together to introduce two clauses with equal weight and relate them in some way that contributes to the narrative flow.

Edge conjunctions in Common are also a closed class.

Edge conjunctions can apear in the following locations:

  • To introduce a main clause and/or insert between two main clauses while defining their connection. In such usages, the conjunction always serves to relate main clauses in some way and clarify the narrtive flow.
  • To relate two arguments inside a cause, combining them into a single argument. Noun phrases connected this way must be of the same case and must be placed adjecent to each other. Verb phrases linked in this way must be of the same valence so that the noun phrase arguments are interpreted the same way for each branching verb

The following is a complete listing of the simple edge conjunctions of Common. There are more complex perphrastic ways to communicate similar transitions and thoughts in a sentence, and we will delve into those idioms as we encounter them, but this listing gives a base on which to build more complex compound setences and narrative flows.

Edge Conjunctions
Conjunction Gloss Meaning
epis and Connects non-contrasting elements, not necessarily sequentially.
haj or Offers a series of options, of which most speakers will assume only one can be true. Homophonous with the internal conjunction of the same basic meaning.
hanja then, and then Connects non-contrasting elements sequentially, with the first argument preceding the second argument in time. There is no necessarily a causative relationship between the events. Sometimes used where English would use 'and' in setting up a narrative flow.
ikky not Negates the entire following clause or phrase without making the verb in the clause negative - typically follows another conjunction.
ikky/epik neither/nor The first element is introduced with 'ikky', and subsequent are introduced with 'epik'. Negates all of the options presented equally. The elements are not contrasting.
itin so, therefore Connects arguments which are related by cause - the object of 'itin' is caused by some other element of the discourse, generally something preceding. It is not necessarily the purpose or reason for the action, which would be handled by an adverbial, but the actual consequence. Often 'itin' is just verbal filler, like 'so' in English.
joku but, however, yet Connects two arguments where the second one is considered contrastive with the first or unexpected given the first.
poe despite, despite that Similar to 'joku', it contrasts two elements, but with the opposite emphasis - the element introduced by 'poe' is the element that makes the second assertation notable or surprising in some way, as opposed to the surprising assertation itself as with joku.
xut, xut/hanja if, if/then Introduces a clause as a hypothetical argument. Xut causes the verb in the object clause to be in the irrealis mood. It is often omitted and the irrealis mood used alone, but can be used for emphasis. It may be followed by a 'hanja' clause, the consequence if the 'xut' statement is true, which may be in the realis mood (and therefore the hanja may also be omitted), but irrealis is possible, for example in some cases to express deference.


A pikki epis a paluh se an citit.
The cat and the dog are happy.

This is a case of an edge conjunction being used to connect two noun phrases of the same grammatical case into a single complex argument to the verb.

Y pikki se an akpe epis y skitrem se an sinku.
A cat is big and a mouse is small.

Xut ja pikki tini slek a skitrem, hanja a pocuk se an citit.
If the cat eats the mouse, the child will be happy.

The tenses in this sentence are a little different than English. The use of 'xut', 'if', forces the verb slek to be in the irrealis mood, expressed with the non-past imperfect 'tini'. The if-true consequence introduced by 'hanja', 'then' is in the realis mood in this example and the non-past tense. Note that the conjunctions add flow and emphasis to this statement, but aren't strictly necessary, because the verb mood conveys much the same idea with them:

Ja pikki tini slek a skitrem, a pocuk se an citit.
The(ERG) cat hit(IR.NP.PF) eat the(ABS) mouse, the(ABS) child stand(NP.IM) be happy.

The above idiomatically means essentially the same as the sentence using the conjunctions. This pattern of verb conjugation for if/then sentences is characteristic of Common and contrary to the way the subjunctive or other irrealis mood might be used in some other languages. See the attached article on the realis versus irrealis moods for more information.


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