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Word formation

Re-using words in a different word class

Each Lugamun word has one word class (also known as “part of speech” or POS) to which it fundamentally belongs. Only a handful fundamentally belong to two or more classes, e.g. kom ‘as, like, such as’ can be used both as a preposition and a conjunction. Such cases are always listed in the dictionary.

In other cases, words can change their word class according to regular rules, allowing them to be re-used in a second word class besides their original one. The instances where this is the case are documented here. Frequently such words will be listed with all relevant word classes in the dictionary as well – but even if this is not the case, they can always be re-used in the described manner.

Verbs used as nouns

Every verb can also be used as a noun meaning “the act of X” or, if the act itself and its results are quite similar to each other, “the results of doing X”.

xukur – thank (v), thanks (n)
deklara – declare, declaration (the act or process of declaring, or a document containing such a declaration)

Adjectives used as Nouns

Every adjective can also be used as a noun meaning “the/a thing that is X”:

itali – Italian (adjective: referring to Italy, its language or inhabitants / noun: the Italian language)
sikrit – secret (adj/n)

Note that when adjectives become nouns, they always refer to things, not to persons or animals. To refer to persons, one puts jen or a more specific word such as ona ‘woman’ or man ‘man’ before the adjective. ‘An Italian’ (person) is jen itali.

Nouns used as adjectives

Certain groups of nouns can be re-used without change as adjectives, with their adjectival meaning being “referring to X”. This is the case with the names of animal species or similar groups of beings.

jen – human being, person (n); human (adj)

It is also true of the adherents of a belief system, provided that a root word is used to refer to them (rather than a compound or a derived word).

muslim – Muslim (n/adj)

Languages and compass directions can likewise be used as adjectives.

hindi – Hindi (n/adj)
norte – north (n/adj), northern

Primarily a noun or an adjective?

When it comes to words used both as nouns and adjectives, one might sometimes be confused about which meaning is more fundamental. Itali is derived from Italya by adding the -i suffix, hence it’s primarily an adjective – but it can also be used as a noun identifying the language spoken in that country. Hindi is primarily a noun (the name of the language), but it can also be used as an adjective referring to that language (for example buku hindi – a Hindi book, a book written in Hindi). The difference is subtle and people might not be aware of it.

The good news is: it hardly matters. In cases where there can be doubt, the resulting meanings will usually the same, regardless of whether one considers the adjective (“referring to X”) or the noun (“thing which is X”) as the derived form.

Spaced nouns

Spaced nouns are formed by combining a head noun with a modifier word that modifies its meaning. We call them “spaced” because they contain a space character (between the two words), while compounds formed by adding a prefix or suffix do not.

Several frequently used head words in spaced nouns are documented below.


Compounds of jen with a noun indicate a person that belongs to or comes from the specified entity. In English, they often correspond to a compound ending in '-er’.

jen selo – villager

If jen is followed by an adjective, this simply expresses a person who has the specified property.

jen europi – European (person)
jen ruski – Russian (person)
jen trasi – trans person, transperson

In all these cases it is possible to use a more specific word instead of jen to give more details on the type of person.

ona nederlani / nujen nederlani – Dutchwoman
man nederlani / majen nederlani – Dutchman
baca nederlani – Dutch child

Such more specific expressions will not typically be listed in the dictionary, but they can always be formed as needed.

Noun–verb compounds

Only rarely the second part of a spaced noun is a word that’s fundamentally a verb but that can also be used as a noun (like all verbs). Such compounds are best understood as the second part having its noun meaning, e.g. den can means ‘day of birth’, or ‘birthday’ for short.

Such compounds are inherently ambiguous, since in theory den can could also mean ‘the day gives birth’ – though actually, days don’t give birth, so this theoretical ambiguity is unlikely to cause confusion. But when introducing new noun–verb compounds that aren’t yet widely used (and listed in a dictionary), please make sure that they, too, are very unlikely to be misunderstood as actual noun–verb sequences. When there is any doubt, it’s usually better to insert a preposition such as de between the parts or express the intended meaning in some other way.

Spaced adjectives

While spaced nouns are relatively common, spaced adjectives are much rarer. They are derived from a noun/adjective combination by turning the noun into an adjective, while leaving the original adjective unmodified. Such combinations are only used if the original adjective is a compass point.

For example, from the noun phrase Korea Sude ‘South Korea’, the spaced adjective korei sude ‘South Korean’ is derived. Such spaced adjectives can in turn modify nouns just like any other adjectives, e.g. a person from South Korea is a jen korei sude.


If a prefix ends in a vowel and the main word starts with the same vowel, only one instance of this vowel is preserved. For example yu- (young, not yet fully grown individual) added to uma ‘horse’ results in the word yuma ‘foal’.

If the prefix ends with a vowel and the main word starts with one and the combination of these two vowels would be read as a diphthong, then the semivowel y is inserted between the two to prevent his. Sample: ko+inda becomes koyinda ‘pretty’.

XXX List and describe prefixes here and given one or two examples for each.


If a suffix that starts with a vowel is added to a word that ends in a vowel, the final vowel of the main word is dropped. Sample: the suffix -i appended to the word universo ‘universe’ forms the derived word universi ‘universal’.

If the formation of the compound form would lead to a repetition of the same vowel, only one instance is kept. Hence distansia ‘distance’ + -i becomes distansi ‘far, distant’ (rather than “distansii”).

As a special case, a final vowel is not removed from the main word if it’s the only vowel in the word. In such cases, main word and suffix are instead joined together as they are. If the resulting vowel combination looks like a diphthong, it is also pronounced as one. For example, fa plus the -u suffix becomes fau /fau̯/, ha+in becomes hain /hai̯n/.

Verb markers used as suffixes

The verb markers for the three tenses (li, na, ga) and for the passive voice (bi) can be added to a verb, resulting in an adjective that means ke (marker) (verb).

matili (= ke li mati) – dead (who died)
matiga (= ke ga mati) – mortal (who will die)
ona sidena (= ona ke (na) side) – a sitting woman (= a woman who sits)
deklara nulisbi (= deklara ke bi nulis) – a written declaration (= a declaration that is/was written)
geste svagatbi – a welcome guest

Don’t forget that, according to the usual stress rules, the stress shifts to the last vowel preceding the last consonant, that is, the last vowel before the added verb marker:

matili, matiga, sidena, andikabi, karibubi

Adjectives formed by adding -na often correspond to the present participle in English, while those formed with -bi correspond to the past participle (also called passive participle).

Generally all these adjectives can be replaced by a relative clause with no real difference in meaning, but sometimes they make a convenient shortcut.

Ti miru ona sidena ta ples ka? / Ti miru ona ke side ta ples ka? – Do you see the woman (who’s) sitting over there?

Verbs used as suffixes

A few of Lugamun’s verbs are also used of suffixes. When applied to another word (usually a noun), they create a new verb with the meaning “do X (to)”. The following sections list the verbs used in this manner and give some examples of their usage.

Keep again in mind that the stress in the resulting compound is placed according to the usual rules. In some cases this means that it moves one syllable to the right compared to the original word:

formada, hatorusa, tabakusa

If the original word ends in a consonant and the suffix has just one syllable, the stress remains unchanged:

selda, tamha


Da added to nouns creates verbs meaning “give X to” – accordingly, they are usually used with an object.

formada – to shape, to form (give form to)
namda – to name, to give a/the name to
selda – to salt (add salt to)


No du sugi selda kulin. – Don’t salt the food too much.
Nas debe namda xvan. – We have to name the dog.

Occasionally these verbs are used with two objects – in such cases, the recipient is usually marked using a.

Le li namda Amasonas a rika. – The named the river the Amazon.


Ha added to nouns creates verbs meaning “have X” – they are typically used with an object or an adverbial expression.

namha – be called, have the name
tamha – taste (have a certain taste)


Ta rika namha Amasonas. – That river is called the Amazon.
Si nomin tamha ku hau hau. – This drink tastes really good.


Usa added to nouns creates verbs meaning “use X (on)”. Some of these verbs are typically used with an object indicating to what they are applied:

hatorusa – hammer (use a hammer on, strike with a hammer or in a hammer-like fashion)
duanusa – smoke (preserve or prepare food or similar by treating it with smoke)


Bina (fridge), le li debe duanusa (meat). – Without a fridge, they had to smoke the meat.

Others are commonly used with or without object:

tabakusa – smoke (use the tobacco in a cigarette, cigar, pipe etc., by smoking it)


Ya sugi sugi tabakusa. – He/She smokes way too much.
Ya (like) tabakusa (cigarette electric). – He/She likes smoking electric cigarettes.

Other suffixes


-aje is appended to verbs to indicate a thing that does or realizes X (where X is the base word).

serondaje – surroundings (the thing or things that surround something or someone)

i, l

-i is appended to nouns or verbs meaning related to, affected by, or characterized by X.

XXX Give some examples.

Sometimes it can also mean “applying throughout”.

XXX Give example(s).

If -i is added to a word that ends in y followed by a vowel, that y is dropped together with the vowel. For example, the adjective derived from Italya ‘Italy’ is itali ‘Italian’.

Note that this rule applies only to the -i suffix, not to other suffixes that just happen to start with i.

The alternative form -l is used with nouns that end in a single i (not a diphthong), because the resulting adjective would otherwise be identical to the base noun itself.

politi – politics, policy
politil – political


-ja is appended to verbs to indicate a person who does something, whether currently, frequently, or professionally. In English, they often correspond to a compound ending in '-er’ or sometimes '-ist’.

cangeja – singer
xasija – killer
safirja – traveler
xwoja – speaker

XXX Probably allow such nouns to be used in apposition after another noun that gives more details on the person described, such as ona safirja ‘female traveler, woman traveler’, man safirja ‘male traveler’, baca safirja ‘child traveler, traveling child’ – though these specific examples could also be expressed using prefixes, as masafirja, wesafirja, yusafirja. Such more specific expressions will not typically be listed in the dictionary, but they can always be formed as needed.

XXX List and describe additional suffixes here and given one or two examples for each.

en/grammar/word_formation.txt · Last modified: 2023-01-17 12:58 by christian

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