This page deals with the grammar of Belter Creole, also known as lang Belta.
Typologically, Belter is an analytic language. Rather than inflections, it primarily uses separate words to build grammatical constructions, such as prepositions and auxiliary verbs, and the meaning of a sentence depends strongly on word order. However, it does use compounding and some suffixes for deriving new words. For example, the -lowda suffix is used to form plural pronouns (see below).
Generally, nouns are not inflected for number; a singular noun has the same form as a plural one. For example, maliwala can mean either "child" or "children", depending on context. Plurality is determined in other ways: the presence of quantifiers, numerals, or simply inferred from context. The exception is pronouns, which do have distinct plural forms (see Pronouns below).
Nouns may be used attributively to modify other nouns, forming a compound noun. Unlike in English, where the modifier typically precedes the word being modified, in lang Belta the head noun goes first and the one modifying it follows afterwards:
diye beref day att.birth birthday bap kuxaku door att.vacuum airlock
The indefinite article is wa:
tenye wa diye beref gut have ndef day birth good Have a happy birthday! mi du mowteng fo da dzhush 1sg do need for def juice I need the juice.
Definite articles are used before a person's proper name, e.g. da Mila for "Miller".
Belter displays definiteness agreement, similar to that found in Greek or Hebrew. That is, when a noun is marked with da, any attributive nouns or adjectives applied to that noun must also be so marked:
- livit Belta "Belter life" → da livit da Belta "the Belter life"
- setara mali "little star" → da setara da mali "the little star"
da <noun> de/dédeya that da <noun> xiya this
Lang Belta differentiates between proximal and distal that by using de to denote an object close by and dédaya to denote an object farther away. It also allows for a non-specific this by utilizing ting.
- da ting xiya gut = "this is good"
- da diye de = tomorrow/yesterday, lit. "that day (proximal)"
- da diye dédeya = some time future/past, lit. "that day (distal)"
This is a (possibly incomplete) chart of pronouns, pro-adverbs and determiners, arranged in a convenient table-of-correlatives format.
*Impersonal third person, ie. "You know what they say"
sif yourself beltalowda Belters (all), lit. "Belter-all" inyalowda Inners (all), lit. "Inner-all" kedawang which (singular), lit. "which-the-one" kelowda which (plural), lit. "which-all" dédawang that one delowda those
Adjectives are placed after the nouns they modify:
- kapawu fash "fast ship"
- setara mali "little star"
mo- "more"; an intensifier, affixed to adjectives na- negation; equivalent to English "un-" teki- technology-related; cranberry morpheme unable to be used as independent word tu- "very"; affixed to adjectives wa- "some"; affixed to nouns
-lowda denotes plurality; only used with pronouns/quantifiers -mang associates with personhood, lit. "<noun>-person" -ting associates with objecthood, lit. "<noun>-thing" -wala person related to or associated with a characteristic, person who works with or does something professionally
afong out-of (transitive preposition) asilik like, as if something were the case without it being so efa after ere at, on, about (locative preposition) erefo into (transitive preposition) fing until fo for, to, towards, because [of] (transitive preposition) fode to-there fong from, off fongi from-here fongi fode away fore before lik like, in the manner of nawit without pash than, beyond, past wit with
deng fo would, lit. "in-that-case-for" mogut fo should, lit. "better-for"
du <noun> used to create verbs from nouns and noun phrases
na not, a negation marker
Lang Belta utilizes mood markers that function separately from verbs.
fosho strong belief fosho fosho very strong belief kang capable kang kang very capable mebi unrealistic mebi mebi unrealistic and unlikely mowsh must, have to mowsh mowsh absolutely must wanya desire, intention wanya wanya very strong desire, intention
Below are the words for basic numbers.
Multiples of 10 or 100 are formed by appending teng or xanya to the combining form of the multiplier, with the stress remaining on the multiplier:
Numbers with values in both the ones and tens place are composed in little-endian order, joined by un:
- 18 = et-un-teng ("eight and ten")
- 81 = wang-un-éteteng ("one and eight tens")
If there is a hundreds place, it comes before the ones-and-tens place terms:
- 246 = túxanya sikesh-un-futeng
When used attributively, numbers come before the noun they count, as in English.
- serí buk – three books
mi nadzhush 1sg ∅ tired I'm tired.
Any sentence can be turned into a yes–no question by ending it with the interrogative particle ke:
To showxa lang Belta. — You speak Belter. To showxa lang Belta ke? — Do you speak Belter?
The related tag question keyá also makes a sentence into a yes–no question, but one which expects agreement:
- Da Rosi im kapawu fash, keyá?
- The Roci is a fast ship, isn't it?
Sentences containing the ke-based interrogative words kemang, kepelésh, ketim, keting, or kewe do not need the trailing ke.
- Kepelésh shapu to, Mila?
- Where's your hat, Miller?