Like many languages, Tatari Faran nouns have grammatical gender. However, nouns themselves do not inflect for gender. Instead, the case clitics attached to the noun do.
There are 3 genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter/epicene. Gender is purely grammatical, and outside of basic words (man, woman, etc.), is arbitarily assigned. Neuter/epicene can be used to mean either male or female, e. g., tsaritas so - “monkey”, tsaritas sa - “male monkey”.
Nouns are marked for case, which indicates the function of the noun in a sentence. There are two categories of noun cases: core cases and secondary cases. Core cases function in relation to the main verb in a clause, and secondary cases function in relation to other words in the clause.
There are 3 core cases: originative, conveyant, and receptive. These cases mark the semantic function of the noun in a sentence. This is explained in more detail in the Case System section.
Primary Case Marking
The usual way to mark core case is by postclitics, which are inflected for case and gender. This is called primary case marking.
The case postclitic follows the noun and any adjectives, relative clauses, demonstratives, or vocative markers that may be modifying the noun. This position is called case position.
Auxilliary Case Marking
There is another way of marking core case which is used in relative clauses and infinitives. This is called auxilliary case marking, and is marked using prefixes. The following table shows the prefixes used. The unmarked form of the example noun is kiran, “young man”.
If the plural prefix he- is used, it appears after the case prefix. For example, the plural auxilliary originative of kiran is ahekiran.
This second way of marking case is only used inside relative clauses and infinitive clauses. It is not used in the main clause.
In addition to the 3 core cases, there are also the following secondary cases. These secondary cases indicate the function of the noun in relation to postpositions and other nouns.
Genitive: formed by placing genitive noun in adjectival position and suffixing -n or -an to it, depending on whether it ends with a vowel or a consonant, respectively.
tatari faran - language of Fara
buta' bata'an - house of the chief
If the noun ends with -nan, its genitive substitutes this with -naran instead. For example:
jiranan → jiranaran
The genitive is used to indicate possession or source, for example: tsuna sanan - garments of the man (garments belonging to the man); san faran - man of Fara (man who came from Fara); fuan bata'an - wife of the chief. Unlike English, however, the genitive is not used in the partitive sense (such as “two of the men” or “hand of the woman”). The partitive case (described below) is reserved for this purpose.
Compositive (or appositive): formed just like the genitive, but with an additional prefix i- added. For example:
buara → ibuaran
The compositive is used for forming compound words. For example:
diru ihinan - servant girl.
This is contrasted with diru hinan, which means “girl of the maidservant”.
san ipasanaran - townsman, one who lives in a town.
This is to be distinguished from the genitive construction san pasanaran, which refers to the man of a particular town.
Partitive: formed by placing the partitive noun in adjectival position and suffixing -s or -is to it, depending on whether it ends with a vowel or a consonant, respectively. The partitive case is used for indicating that the head noun is a subset or a component part of the partitive noun. For example:
jibin kuanas - child(ren) of the family
pika kiranis - hand of the young man
biraf kuenis - leaves of the tree
If the noun ends with -s, the partitive substitutes this with -tis instead. For example:
panis → panitis
If the last syllable of a noun begins with t, the partitive form replaces the last syllable with tis:
tsaritas → tsaritis
Vocative: used for addressing the noun referent. Formed by placing the appropriate 2nd person pronoun in case position. For example:
san tse! - You, man!
san huna! - You, men!
The vocative is special in that it can also be used in combination with a core case, by placing a case clitic after the 2nd person pronoun. See the Pronouns section for more details.
Absolutive: unmarked—the noun appears on its own without any additional markers or inflections. Used in statements of equivalence and in postpositional phrases.
Nouns have two possible numbers: singular or plural. Singular number is unmarked. Plural number is marked by the plural prefix he-. This marking, however, is optional, and is only used to disambiguate or to emphasize plurality. By default, number marking is omitted, and an isolated noun can refer to either a singular or plural referent. Number is usually also omitted if a pronoun already indicates number, e. g., san diin - “those people”, rather than hesan diin, because diin is the plural 3rd person pronoun.
Words with initial d mutate when the prefix he- is added:
diru → heriru
Note, however, this is not actually a mutation, just an artifact of the orthography which uses d and r to represent the same phoneme.
A noun phrase (henceforth NP) is a phrase consisting of a head noun, which describes the primary noun referent we are interested in, plus any modifiers that further refine its meaning and/or indicate its function in a sentence. The modifiers may be adjectives, compositives, partitives, genitives, relative clauses, demonstratives, or case clitics.
As described above, these elements appear in a specific order. The following schematic summarizes this order:
HEAD - ADJ - REL - DEM - CASE
where HEAD is the head noun; ADJ is zero or more adjectives, compositives, partitives, or genitives; REL is an optional relative clause; DEM is an optional pronoun functioning as a vocative marker or a demonstrative; and CASE is the case marker.