Sketch of Moore morphology and syntax

In this section, an overview is given to characterize in very few words the basic characteristics of grammatical features.
1. Morphology:

  • Inflection: suffixes are predominant
  • Derivation: suffixes only
  • Compounding: right headed Noun-Noun
  • Nouns: Inflectional classes for number marking: each noun has a pair of suffixes for singular and for plural; no semantic classes.
  • Verbs:
  • Preverbal tense marking
  • Aspect marking by suffixes and tone
  • No subject-verb or other grammatical agreement.
  • Reduplication: complete reduplication; many idiophones and adverbials
  • Juncture feature: When two words or clitics come together within a pause group such that the first ends in a consonant and the second begins with a consonant, a transition vowel of central indeterminate quality [ə] is inserted between the two words or clitics. It takes the tone of the preceding foot and it is non-phonemic.
  • Regular class suffixes:

genre I   : sg. cl. 1 (-a)   pl. cl. 2 (-ba)

genre II  : sg. cl. 3 (-ga)   pl. cl. 4 (-se)

genre III : sg. cl. 5 (-re)   pl. cl. 6 (-a)

genre IV : sg. cl. 7 (-go)   pl. cl. 8 (-do)

genre V  : sg. cl. 9 (-fo)   pl. cl. 10 (-i)

genre VI : sg. cl. 11 (-la)    pl. cl. 12 (-li)

singular plural examples translation
-a -ba sɩda / sɩdba

baga / bagba

husband / husbands

diviner / diviners







tɩɩga / tɩɩse

noaaga / noose

tree/ trees

chicken / chicken (pl.)

zaka / zagse

toaka / togse

house / houses

filter/ filters

-re -a katre / kata

tʋbre / tʋba

hyena/ hyenas

ear/ ears










-tu /


wobgo / wobdo

kõbgo / kõbdo

elephant/ elephants

hair/ hair (pl.)

boko / bogdo

rʋko / rʋgdo

hole / holes

pan / pans

fuugu / futu

puugu / puudu

garment / garments

flower / flowers

-fo -i naafo / niisi

waafo / wiisi

cow/ cows

snake/ snakes

-la -li luiila / luiili

yubla / yubli

bird/ birds

neck / necks

2. Syntax:

  • Categories :
  • Nouns, adjectives have nominal character. Most postpositions are nouns.
  • Word order
  • Subject - Verb - Object (unmarked sentence order), though direct objects or location/temporal elements may be fronted for emphasis.
  • Adpositions, determiners, adjectives are all post nominal, i.e. the head noun is always phrase initial with all its modifying elements following it. The determineror “the” or demonstrative bãma “those” is final. The quantifier is the only element that occurs after the determiner or the demonstrative pronoun.
  • Negation is preverbal element ka or pa and a sentence final element ye.
  • TAM:
  • Tense: distinction between future and non-future (non-future is unmarked)
  • Aspect: Perfective versus imperfective (Perfective aspect covers an action which is viewed as a whole or carries the idea of completion; imperfective aspect covers continuous and (usually) habitual actions.
  • Mood: Realis versus irrealis (Realis mode is used in main clauses which are declarative in nature; irrealis mode is used for the future tense, and in imperative and optative clauses, as well as special uses in discourse.) Mood is marked by tone patterns.
  • Other aspects:
  • No overt case marking.
  • Serial verb constructions are very common.
  • Movement of constituents: focus and Wh-questions are fronted
  • Passive: only impersonal passive.
  • Clauses may be joined by the coordinating conjunctions “and”, la “and”, “but” or “or”.