Old Unuvi

Old Unuvi is the oldest form of the Unuvi language, attested in documents from the 84th century.



Consonants Bilabial Dental Velar Uvular
k͡p p ⟨kp p⟩
t̪ t̪̻ ⟨t th⟩
k ⟨k⟩
q ⟨q⟩
ŋ͡m m ⟨ngm m⟩
n̪ ⟨n⟩
ŋ ⟨ng⟩
ɴ ⟨nq⟩
ɺ̻ ⟨r⟩
l̪ ⟨l⟩
ɰ ⟨w⟩
ʟ̠ ⟨ll⟩


Speakers of Old Unuvi associated each point of vowel articulation with a gender. ⟨i⟩ was associated with the green gender, ⟨a⟩ with the foreign gender and ⟨u⟩ with the heavenly gender.

Vowels in Old Unuvi
Vowels Front Back
i i: ⟨i ii⟩
ɯ ɯ: ⟨u uu⟩
a a: ⟨a aa⟩


Old Unuvi was spoken in a culture that used an octal number system. Numbers 2-7 and 9-15 were irregular, while powers of two and other numbers were generally regularly conjugated. Some important decimal numbers were borrowed into the language from nearby decimal cultures.

Numbers from 1-16
Decimal form Octal form Word Translation / Notes
1 1 naa 'one'
2 2 rii 'two'
3 3 luu 'three'
4 4 riika (irregular)
5 5 pam 'five'
6 6 tukp 'six'
7 7 ptu 'seven'
8 108 luukarii 'third-two'
9 118 all 'eleven'
10 128 pa (borrowed from decimal system)
11 138 ruuth 'thirteen'
12 148 uka 'fourteen'
13 158 ukpuu 'fifteen'
14 168 ptiil 'sixteen'
15 178 kpiwii 'seventeen'
16 208 riikathukarii 'fourth-two'
Multiples of eight and irregulars from 108-708
Decimal form Octal form Word Translation / Notes
8 108 luuka 'third-two'
10 128 pa (borrowed from decimal system)
16 208 riikathukarii 'fourth-two'
20 24 8 kaipa (borrowed from decimal system)
24 308 luu-luuka 'three third-two'
32 408 riika-luukarii 'fifth two'
40 508 pam-luukarii 'five third-two'
48 608 tukp-luukarii 'six third-two'
50 628 thinpa (borrowed from decimal system)
56 708 ptu-luukarii 'seven third-two'
Multiples of eight from 1008-7008
Decimal form Octal form Word Translation / Notes
64 1008 tukpukarii 'sixth-two'
100 1448 thakin (borrowed from decimal system)
128 2008 ptuukarii 'seventh-two'
192 3008 luuka-tukpukarii 'three sixth-two'
256 4008 luukariithukarii 'eigth-two'
320 5008 pam-tukpukarii 'five sixth-two'
384 6008 tukp-tukpukarii 'six sixth-two'
448 7008 ptu-tukpukarii 'seven sixth-two'
Other irregularities
Decimal form Octal form Word Translation / Notes
500 7648 (borrowed from decimal system)
1,000 17508 (borrowed from decimal system)
10,000 234208 (borrowed from decimal system)
1,000,000 36411008 (borrowed from decimal system)


Old Unuvi made use of several types of ordinal numbers. The form used for counting was created by appending -(th)uka to the end of the number, with some irregularities.

Numbers from 1-16
Decimal form Octal form Word Translation / Notes
1 1 naathuka 'first'
2 2 riithuka 'second'
3 3 luuka 'third'
4 4 riikathuka 'fourth'
5 5 pamuka 'fifth'
6 6 tukpuka 'sixth'
7 7 ptuuka 'seventh'
8 108 luukariithuka 'eighth'
9 118 alluka 'ninth'
10 128 pathuka (borrowed from decimal system)
11 138 ruuka 'thirteenth'
12 148 ukauka 'fourteenth'
13 158 ukpuuka 'fifteenth'
14 168 ptiiluka 'sixteenth'
15 178 kpiwiithuka 'seventeenth'
16 208 riikathukariithuka 'sixteenth'


Old Unuvi had a complicated grammatical system that made heavy use of its three genders[1].


Grammatical cases in Old Unuvi were marked by particles placed after the nouns they modify.

  • Nominative — tha, marks the object of a sentence
  • Accusative — ru, marks the object of a sentence
  • Genitive — ina, marks posession of one thing by another
  • Instructive — inqi, used for something being inside or being used to do something else
  • Allative — kaam, used for something moving into or towards something else
  • Adessive — rut, used for something being outside of or at something else
  • Ablative — kit, used for something moving out of or away from something else
  • Ascenditive — nat, used for something metaphorically or physically growing, moving towards Haki, or ascending upwards (like in "he astrally projected", "the goods were sent to Hac")
  • Descenditive — qi, used for something metaphorically or physically declining, moving away from Haki, or moving downwards (like in "the dying cat", "the ship sailing for Ivinis")

Subject and object

Locatives and instrumentals

Quantity and extents



Old Unuvi lacked the complicated formality system that the later evolutions of Unuvi would come to have. The Heavenly gender of Old Unuvi would eventually be co-opted into being the means by which formality was displayed.

Grammatical number

Old Unuvi had a complex grammatical number system where one could attach clitics and conjugate verbs to specify an arbitrary 2n number of items. In addition, there was a generic plural form that would later be usurped by the octuple clitic.

Number Short form Long form
Singular -(a)naa -(a)naathuka
Dual -(r)ii -(i)riithuka
Quadrupal -(r)iika -(i)riikathuka
Octuple -(l)uu -(u)luukariithuka
Plural -(u)thuka


Old Unuvi had a set of pronouns with marked gender and grammatical person. The language did not mark number on the pronouns, but rather on verbs. Regular suffixes could be attached to pronouns to form their dual, quadruple, octuple, etc. forms.

Pronouns in Old Unuvi
Green Foreign Heavenly
1st Person
2nd Person kngi
3rd Person (proximate) ptii ptaa ptuu
3rd Person (obviative) rii raa ruu


Adding -kpam to the end of a pronoun created a demonstrative pronoun[2]. First-person pronouns became proximal, second-person pronouns medial, and third-person pronouns distal.

Table of correlatives[3]
interrogative demonstrative quantifier
proximal medial distal assertive existential1 elective/dubitative
universal negatory positive alternative
determiner akpam ngmiitkpam (G/F/H) kngikpam (G)
larkpam (F/H)
ptiikpam (G)
ptaakpam (F)
ptuukpam (H)
ruukpam raakpam thath ingmiip wuullu
pronoun human raangmuuth
nonhuman raapti
out of two (dual)
out of many (plural)
pro-adverb location kpama itaa kitaa ptitaa ruuqaa raaqaa
source kpamari itaari kitaari ptitaari ruuri raari
goal kpamathi itaathi kitaathi ptitaathi ruuthi raathi
time kpamatha itaatha kitaatha ptitaatha ruutha raatha

1 The 3rd person obviative heavenly gender pronoun was the base for assertive existential correlatives. One could think of it as "the heavens, far away, are known to exist".

2 The 3rd person obviative foreign gender pronoun was the base for elective correlatives. One could think of it as "some foreign thing, far away, which may or may not exist."


Old Unuvi employed a strict verb-final. However, questions were phrased by moving the verb to the beginning. All verbs in Old Unuvi ended in -u, and were conjugated according to a complex fusional grammar. Number was added on to the end of the fusional verb in a regular pattern. Verbs were not conjugated[4] for tense, but rather for aspect and mood[5]

ngmiit tha kngulluungmuu nat laakutumpathii kim
"There may be a point in the future where I will have been worshiping eight gods ascending into enlightenment"


Verbs whose stems ended in a vowel — '-au', '-uu', and '-iu' verbs — had an 'n' inserted between the two vowels when conjugating.

Example conjugation table for Old Unuvi verb laku (to worship)
First Second Third
Green Green Foreign Green Foreign Heavenly
Indicative Perfective laka lakat lakan lakall lakallu lakama
Perfect lakiti lakira lakara lakaran lakarin lakarun
Imperfective Habitual lakumpa lakumpat lakumpan lakumpall lakumpallu lakumpama
Imperfective Continuous lakumpathii lakumpatii lakumpallatii lakumpallitii lakumpallutii
Conditional Perfective lakita lakitat lakitan lakitall lakitallu lakitama
Perfect lakititi lakitira lakitara lakitaran lakitarin lakitarun
Imperfective Habitual lakitumpa lakitumpat lakitumpan lakitumpall lakitumpallu laitumpama
Imperfective Continuous lakitumpathii lakitumpatii lakitumpallati lakitumpallitii lakitumpalluti
Potential Perfective laakuta laakunat laakunan laakunall
Perfect laakutiti laakutira laakutara laakutaran
Imperfective Habitual laakutumpa laakutumpat laakutumpan laakutumpall
Imperfective Continuous laakutumpathii laakutumpatii laakutumpallati


Tense Old Unuvi English
Past rana (distant past) 'I ate cheese'
Present (No marking) 'I eat cheese'
Future kim 'I will eat cheese'


Aspects in Old Unuvi[6]
Aspect Old Unuvi English
Perfective thaqar ru qikpiika rana
bell ACC struck.PER.1GR PST
'I struck the bell' (an event viewed in its entirety, without reference to its temporal structure during its occurrence)
Momentane thaqar ru kngaq qikpiika rana
bell ACC once struck.PER.1GR PST
'I struck the bell once' (contrasted to 'I struck the bell / was striking the bell')
Perfect thaqar ru qikpiikita
bell ACC struck.RET.1GR
(a common conflation of aspect and tense): 'I have struck the bell' (brings attention to the consequences of a situation in the past)
Discontinuous past No simple construct In English a sentence such as "I put it on the table" is neutral in implication (the object could still be on the table or not), but in some languages such as Chichewa the equivalent tense carries an implication that the object is no longer there. It is thus the opposite of the perfect aspect.
Prospective mangmulu uthumpatii
cry go.IMP.CONT.1GR
(a conflation of aspect and tense): 'He is about to fall', 'I am going to cry" (brings attention to the anticipation of an imminent future situation)
Imperfective thath knguullaa, kaap kit ngmuumi kaam qiliimumpa
every day, work ABL home ALL walk.IMP.HAB.1GR
(an activity with ongoing nature: combines the meanings of both the continuous and the habitual aspects): 'I was walking to work' (continuous) or 'I walked (used to walk, would walk) to work every day' (habitual).
Imperfective Habitual 'I used to walk home from work', 'I would walk home from work every day', 'I walk home from work every day' (a subtype of imperfective)
Imperfective Continuous ptiiwunimpathii
'I am eating' or 'I know' (situation is described as ongoing and either evolving or unevolving; a subtype of imperfective)
Imperfective Continuous Progressive 'I am eating' (action is described as ongoing and evolving; a subtype of continuous)
Imperfective Continuous Stative 'I know French' (situation is described as ongoing but not evolving; a subtype of continuous)
Gnomic luuluthuka nqiluulu maawutumpallati, tiimpithuka nqiluulu qiqiniitutumpallati
fish.PL definitely swim.POT.IMP.CNT.3FR, bird.PL definitely fly.POT.IMP.CNT.3HV
'Fish swim and birds fly' (general truths)
Episodic tiimpi qiqiitall rana
bird fly.PER.3HV PST
'The bird flew' (non-gnomic)
Continuative knguuth pitwunumpathii
still eat.IMP.CNT.1GR
'I am still eating'
Inceptive ungmu thakpaamina rana
run start.PER.1GR PST
'I started to run' (beginning of a new action: dynamic)
Inchoative 'The flowers started to bloom' (beginning of a new state: static)
Terminative ungmu ptiillina
run finish.PER.1GR
'I finished running'
Defective kpaq llakana rana
almost fall.PER.1GR PST
'I almost fell'
Pausative riingilu raqa rana
temporarily rest.PER.1GR PST
'I rested for a while'
Resumptive 'I resumed sleeping'
Punctual 'I slept'
Durative 'I slept for a while'
Delimitative 'I slept for an hour'
Protractive 'The argument went on and on'
Iterative 'I read the same books again and again'
Frequentative 'It sparkled', contrasted with 'It sparked'. Or, 'I run around', vs. 'I run'
Experiential 'I have gone to school many times' (see for example Chinese aspects)
Intentional 'I listened carefully'
Accidental 'I accidentally knocked over the chair'
Intensive 'It glared'
Moderative 'It shone'
Attenuative 'It glimmered'
Segmentative No simple construct 'It is coming out in successive multitudes'



The realis indicative mood was the default mood in Old Unuvi.


Old Unuvi conjugated for conditional and potential mood. Subjunctive and imperative were auxillary verbs.