Kah is a very flexible language when it comes to word order. Word order can be adapted according to personal intuition without losing it's power of expression. Rather, the way things are dislocated really says a lot about the nuances the speaker intends. This translates to a basic very simple word order that is very sensitive for topicalization, where dislocation of words means they get extra weight within the sentence.

 

Verb phrases

Verbs are surrounded by their arguments in Kah. It is an SVO-language, meaning that the subject precedes the verb and its object(s) follows it:

Malikah koyun kaiko

Malika read book

Malika read the book

Ester nenju shuki

esther like candy

Esther likes candy

Karim pau mea apa

Karim give sister money

Karim gave his sister the money

 

Noun phrases

In unmarked word order, the head of a noun phrase precedes all of its modifiers:

sunda saska

bike blue

blue  bike

lanki wau

rice this

this rice

ado wan jom ye

house big five that

those five big houses

 

Oblique phrases

Oblique phrases (mostly expressing time and location) may both precede or follow the verb phrase:

Pitah jam zemanta

Peter do tomorrow

Peter will do it tomorrow

zemanta Pitah jam

tomorrow Peter do

tomorrow Peter will do it

om jara lau

opt put here

let's put it over here

ze fito denu soza binso

after game go drink beer

after the game we'll drink beer

 

Topicalization

Now, things get interesting when a speaker for some reason does not use the standard word order. While doing this, he'll assign some kind of hierarchy to certain constituent within the sentence. This is called topicalization, which basicly is nothing more than placing the things you want to say most in front of the sentence. Compare:

Jan nenju Merih

John love Mary

John loves Mary

Merih Jan nenju

mary john love

it is Mary that John loves

When grammatical roles might get unclear from the shift in word order, the topic marker be is placed directly behind the dislocated element in the sentence:

Merih be Jan nenju

mary top john love

it is Mary that John loves

binki be paza wana

bread top buy woman

it is bread that the woman bought

Finally, there is a focus marker lo in order to highlight words when they occur in normal, unmarked word order:

Jan lo nenju Merih

John foc love mary

it is John who loves Mary

wana paza binki lo

woman buy bread foc

it is bread the woman bought

In order to understand the difference between topic and focus, please note the subtle difference in meaning in the following sentences:

-topic -focus

wana paza binki

woman buy bread

the woman bought bread

 

-topic +focus

wana lo paza binki

woman foc buy bread

it is the woman who bought bread

 

-topic +focus

wana paza binki lo

woman buy bread foc

it is bread the woman bought

 

+topic -focus

binki be wana paza

bread top woman buy

it is bread the women bought

 

Noun phrases

When modifyers are topicalized, their relationship with the head noun changes as well in terms of meaning. When a stative verb precedes a noun, the attributive nature of this verb shift towards a more predicative meaning:

titingo yam

chador be red

red chador

nia gele

car fast

fast car

yam titingo

be red chador

the chador is red

gele nia

fast car

the car is fast