AFMOC[^1] Sohlob has a somewhat odd number marking system.
Originally (i.e. in the intra-fictional ancestor language) it was a simple
system which marked number only on determiners and some pronouns, and that
was done by reduplication, i.e. the pronominal root was doubled so that
e.g. _i-ru_ 'here-DEMONSTRATIVE.INANIMATE' meant 'this (thing)' while
'these (things)'. This was shortened to _irru_, which then again changed in
various ways, becoming _idru_, then _ïzïr_, (alternatively spelled
_iezier_). I won't describe it all here since it is well described in an
old post at (go and read it now!)[^3] Thus in
Classical Sohlob _zoghd ïn_ means 'elephant this' or just 'the elephant'
and _zoghd ïndïr_ means 'elephants these' or just 'the elephants'. 'An
elephant' is _zoghtah_ (or _zoghd-hah_), but that suffix is really just the
numeral 'one' although it undergoes vowel harmony so that 'a city' is
_hïhlïh_ (or _hïl-hïh_). Just _zoghd_ on its own usually means 'some
elephants' or 'elephants in general'.

[^1]: "As For My Own Conlang", another of those CONLANG list acronyms.

[^2]: The fancy way of writing this is "_i-ru~ru_ 'here~DEM.INAN'" with the
tilde indicating reduplication and the reduplicated material shown only
once in the gloss.

[^3]: I've changed the romanization of Sohlob since then; most notably:

    Old  New  ASCII IPA
    ---  ---- ----- -----
     æ    ä    ae    æ
     e    ï    ie    ɨ
     c    č    ch    tɕ
     ç    š    sh    ɕ
     j   ǰ/ž   j/zh  (d)ʑ
     ng  ŋ/ŋg  ng(g) ŋ/ŋg
     ñg   ŋg   ngg   ŋg
     q    ǧ    gh    ʁ/ɣ
     x    ȟ    kh    x/x

     I'll be using the ASCII version of the consonants here just in case
someone lacks the appropriate font support. :-(

Den 14 feb 2018 08:22 skrev "Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets" <
[log in to unmask]>:

> On 14 February 2018 at 04:27, Michael Martin <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> > I've since decided to go with marking definiteness on the nouns with a
> > suffix.
> >
> > But another question that came to mind. Must nouns be inherently
> singular?
> > Or could a language have it's nouns be inherently plural and require
> > marking or an auxiliary word to make them singular?
> >
> >
> Whenever a question like "is a specific linguistic feature universal?" is
> asked, you'll quickly learn that the right answer in 99% of the cases is
> "No" :). Among all the natlangs of the world, there is precious little that
> is truly universal. And in this particular case, the answer is indeed, "no,
> nouns don't have to be inherently singular".
> The simple case is where nouns do not have *any* inherent number: nouns
> don't have a specific mark for number, or that mark is optional and only
> used in some cases, and the same form can be used for singular or plural
> depending on context and the surrounding words. Japanese is an example. 花
> (hana): "flower" in Japanese can mean "a flower", "the flower", "flowers"
> or "the flowers" depending on context and other words in the sentence, but
> the word itself is neither inherently singular nor inherently plural (and
> neither inherently indefinite nor inherently definite either). By the way,
> Japanese does have a plural suffix _-tachi_, but it's (mostly) only used
> with nouns that refer to people, and its main meaning is that of a
> distributive plural (i.e. "and company"). For instance, _Tanakatachi_ means
> "Tanaka and their friends" or "Tanaka and their folks", or even "Tanaka and
> their company" depending on context.
> Closer to what you were thinking about, there are indeed languages where
> (some) nouns are inherently plural and need a mark to make them singular.
> Usually, nouns that are like that are said to have collective number, and
> the singular form is called the singulative in this case. For instance, in
> Welsh, the noun _plant_: "children" is inherently plural, and its
> singulative is _plentyn_: "child". The collective form is really the more
> basic one, and is used like an English mass noun basically, although it
> refers to something that is countable. Singulatives are a feature of (among
> others) Celtic and Semitic languages. I know Breton has it as well, as well
> as Arabic for instance. You can easily find more information about it
> online.
> Finally, if you really want to go crazy, you can look at the weirdness that
> is _inverse number_ (
> In some
> languages, nouns can have three numbers (usually singular, dual and
> plural). But rather than any one of these numbers being standard for all
> nouns, nouns are separated into classes based on which number is inherent
> to them (or numbers!), and the same affix (called the inverse number affix)
> is used to mark a non-inherent number, whatever the class of the noun! This
> means that in these languages, you can have for instance nouns that are
> inherently singular, nouns that are inherently plurals, and nouns that are
> inherently plural and dual. The inherently singular nouns use the inverse
> number affix to mark dual and plural, while the inherently plural nouns use
> that same affix to mark singular and dual! As for the inherently plural and
> dual nouns, they use the affix only to mark the singular! Just goes to show
> how weird number marking can be! :)
> Anyway, I hope that answers your question. Just remember whenever you ask a
> question about language in the form of "must it happen this way?", the
> answer will usually be "no, it doesn't have to" :).
> Cheers,
> Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
> President of the Language Creation Society (
> Personal Website:
> Personal Tumblr:
> >
> > * Michael - [log in to unmask]
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Constructed Languages List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> > Behalf Of taliesin the storyteller
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 12:48 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: This and That
> >
> > On 2018-02-02 06:40, Michael Martin wrote:
> > > I was thinking about definite articles and I wondered if I could
> > > actually replace "the" with the equivalent of "this" and "that" and so
> > > on. So essentially instead of saying "the cat" you would have to say
> > > "this cat" or "that cat". Is this something real languages do?
> > > Is there anything I would need to be careful of or watch out for if I
> > > went this route?
> >
> > How do you mark indefiniteness?
> >
> > If you mark indefiniteness, definite could be the default, and unmarked
> :)
> >
> > Haspelmaths's "Indefinite pronouns" is excellent to understand
> > definiteness:
> >
> > (PDF, missing some figures)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > (Open-access, web-site)
> >
> >
> > 9780198235606.001.0001/oso-9780198235606
> >
> >
> > t.
> >