Lwaitel prepositions and descriptions of location and time


Prepositional phrase structure

Prepositional phrases can modify a noun phrase (in which case they come at the end), a prepositional phrase (again, in which case they come at the end), or a whole sentence (in which case they can go anywhere), or it can be an argument to swa "to be" (in which case it comes after swa, possibly with adverbs in between). A prepositional phrase consists of one or two prepositions (two prepositions would be like in English into and out of), optionally followed by a distance and/or a direction (in either order), followed by a noun. Not all of those parts make sense for all prepositions.


If a preposition ending in an unstressed vowel (te, hu, pe, shi, sungi, lwe, kwe) is followed by a word starting with a vowel, the last (or only) syllable of the preposition and the first (or only) syllable of the following word combine. If the vowel in the preposition is a schwa (e), the schwa disappears; if it's an i, it turns into y; and if it's a u, it turns into w. This does not happen in (standard) writing, only in speech and finger spelling. In addition, in finger spelling, if the second word starts with a or e, then the preposition keeps its vowel (e.g., for te an, the right hand would be signing te, not ta as it otherwise would be for the spoken syllable tan).

In sign language, if a preposition uses only one hand and the following word is an indexing word, the dominant hand signs the preposition while the onn-dominant hand signs the indexing word. Additionally, in the phrase hu hyangu, the dominant hand signs hu while the left hand signs the left hand part of hyangu.

te (for, to)


lánte  (for)

Since te has two possible meanings when used with maus and hyam, if the speaker wants to clarify, the word lante can be used instead, which only has the benefactive meaning.

hu  (from the perspective of)


aunchent  (except)

Used to indicate that some items that would otherwise be included aren't. Can be used with a cardinal number or a determiner as an object. If it's modifying a number and has another number as its object, then it means subtraction.

nel  (like)

Describes that something is similar to something else. Can also mean "sort of", and can be followed by an adjective.

When following an adjective, means that the adjective holds to the same extent as it does in the object of the preposition.

When followed by a number, means "around"/"about".

Location and time prepositions

pe (at, in)

Connects words to nouns that describe a location, or indicates that something is inside something else. If one needs to clarify or emphasize that one means "inside", the direction chius can be used.

This cannot be the second preposition in a compound preposition; if it otherwise would be, either a simple preposition is used, or tius is used.

shi  (to)

Describes the destination of motion. A second location preposition (tem, lenk) can go after this word to describe more specifically where something goes.

When used with a time, describes the end time of an action.

kel  (from)

Describes the origin of an object (place or giver) or the origin of motion. When describing motion, it works like shi (can have another preposition).

When used with a time, describes the starting time of an action.

Also used with adjectives to form comparatives, and can be used to form partitives.

súngi  (towards)

Describes which direction an item is facing or moving (can modify both verbs and nouns). This can be used with just a direction, or it can have a noun, or it can be followed by another prepositional phrase. If it's followed by a noun, the implied second preposition is pe.

tem  (on)

Describes things that are touching or stuck to another object. Used with a direction to indicate which side of the object the thing is on. Used with kukú or telí to indicate the orientation with respect to the object.

lenk  (beside)

Describes things that are close to each other. Used with a direction to indicate which side of the object the thing is on. Used with kukú to mean "along".

Also used with people to indicate that people are doing something together.

swet  (around)

Describes something that is around, surrounds, or contains another object. Also describes what's in a picture or story. (TODO...)

Can also mean "things/people associated with...".

lwepe  (with)

This is the same as swet, except the object of the preposition is indefinite.

páskel  (through)

Used with an object to indicate motion that enters the object and then leaves the other side. Used with kukú or telí to indicate which direction the object moves with respect to the object, or with a direction to indicate the direction of motion. Used with a time or an event to indicate that something happened for the entire duration of the event.


The following are direction words, and other words that have similar syntax:

WordMeaning (space)Meaning (time)Meaning with hu hyangu
sap closerearly
ípwenk beyondlate
sápchem leftsouth
ípwechem rightnorth
itúp upwest
míshelw downeast
naunchem front
kálchem back
kukú parallel
la on a path
telí across
kal away froma long time from
chius insideduring
wil outsidenot during
ngim betweenbetween

Places where these can be used:

The preposition hu may follow a phrase containing a direction, giving information about which perspective the information is using (i.e., is it my left or your left?). The idiom hu hyangu is used for cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), based on how maps are oriented in this world. (I'm defining the directions in terms of the movement of the sun; i.e., the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west.)

Sap and ípwenk can be used when talking about time; they can also be used when talking about position, where ípwenk means "beyond" or "past", and sap means "closer than"/"not beyond".

Other space– and time-related words

Other prepositions

Other things like prepositions but not quite: