Dara Vai




Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Dorsal
Stop p t d k g
Fricative v ð (dh) s x (h)
Nasal m n
Liquid l r
Glide j (y)


Front Central Back
High i u
Mid ə (e) ɔ
Low a

Diphthongs: ai əi (ei)


Stress: antepenultimate, except in a few words


The syllable structure is (C)V(n/s/t). The segment /ð/ may not appear word-initially.



stem + (possessed) + (plural)


Singular Plural
-∅ -n


Possessed marker: -t

Pronouns and agreement

Dependent paradigm:

Singular Plural
3rd -∅

Independent paradigm:

Singular Plural
3rd te



Singular Plural
1st va-tu
3rd yas
4th a-tu

Relative Perfective

Singular Plural
1st va-ne
3rd ya
4th a-ne


Singular Plural
1st va-na
2nd mu-na
3rd ya-na
4th a-na

Relative Continuous

Singular Plural
1st va-lei
3rd ya-lei
4th a-lei


Singular Plural
1st va-naitu
3rd ya-naitu
4th a-naitu


Pragmatically marked structures

Topicalization and focus are both prominent features of Dara Vai and both expressed via left dislocation. When both a topicalized and a focused element are present, the topicalized element appears before the focused element.

Hivas narat edei, Seipai ma ya deisin tot.
[ride horse indeed =TOP], [Seipai =FOC] COP 3SG.REL.PFV exceed everyone
As for riding, it's Seipai who beats them all.


Topicalization, as mentioned above, is marked by left-dislocation. Optionally, a topic marker such as edei indeed or padai too is placed after the topicalized element.

Magu, va-naitu moti kende-t kopoka yata nainai.
wheat 1PL-HAB can getting-POSS sack ten like.this
Wheat, we can get about ten sacks of.

Atamu padai, va-naitu moti kende-t kopoka yata me tano.
rice too 1PL.HAB can getting-POSS sack ten plus five
Rice, we can get fifteen sacks of.


A focused element is left-dislocated and optionally followed by the copula ma. Additionally, the TAM marker is replaced with a relative form: relative perfect instead of perfect, or relative continous instead of continuous.

Danako-n yas vaka gani itína
boy-DEF 3SG.PFV eat meat yesterday The boy ate meat yesterday.

Danako-n (ma) ya vaka gani itína
boy-DEF COP 3SG.REL.PFV eat meat yesterday The boy ate meat yesterday.

Gani (ma) danako-n ya vaka itína
meat COP boy-DEF 3SG.REL.PFV eat yesterday The boy ate meat yesterday.

Itína (ma) danako-n ya vaka gani
yesterday COP boy-DEF 3SG.REL.PFV eat meat The boy ate meat yesterday.

Vaka-t gani (ma) danako-n ya hei itína.
eat meat COP boy-DEF 3SG.REL.PFV do yesterday The boy did eat meat yesterday.

Danako-n yana vaka gani ai tanditai
boy-DEF 3SG.CONT eat meat at market The boy is eating meat at the market.

Danako-n (ma) yalei vaka gani ai tanditai
boy-DEF COP 3SG.REL.CONT eat meat at market The boy is eating meat at the market.

Gani (ma) danako-n yalei vaka ai tanditai
meat COP boy-DEF 3SG.REL.CONT eat at market The boy is eating meat at the market.

Ai tanditai (ma) danako-n yalei vaka gani
at market COP boy-DEF 3SG.REL.CONT eat meat The boy is eating meat at the market.

Vaka-t gani (ma) danako-n yalei hei ai tanditai
eat-POSS meat COP boy-DEF 3SG.REL.CONT do at market The boy is eating meat at the market.

Ki han ma alei sa-yu Akaihaipa? INST there COP 4.REL.PFV get-VENT Akaihaipa Is it there that one finds the Akaihaipa?


Nai vami muna ha gamai-ve padái pekut-oti? well how 2PL.REL.CONT with cattle-PL too cattle.driver-PL Well, how do you (do) with animals and cattle-drivers?

Unsorted example sentences

Tin ma.
That's it.

Opoka-n ma.
town-PL COP
They're towns.

Serai eiko vai paha-t-∅ va ma matái.
EVD indeed NEG1 house-POSS-3SG NEG2 COP now
He said it was no longer his house.

Ahei ovo.
exist water
There is water.

Ahei ovo? Ahei vai(va) ovo.
exist water? exist NEG water
Is there water? There isn't water.

Ahei ovo? Ahei vaiva.
exist water? exist NEG
Is there water? There isn't.

Vaiva is required when no complement follows.

She is there.

In the positive, the thing that exists is expressed in the dependent form (as an affix).

Ahei vai te.
exist NEG 3SG
She is not there.

But in the negative, the thing that does not exist takes the independent form.


*ahei exist
ai LOC
atamu rice
*kopoka sack
danako boy
deisin surpass, exceed
edei indeed; TOP
eiko indeed
eitin what
gamai, -ve cattle
gani meat
ha with
han there
hivas ride
itína yesterday
kende get
*kopoka sack
ma COP
me plus
magu wheat
matái now
*meiya cabbage
moti can, able to
narat horse
nai well, ...
nainai like this
*opoka town
ovo water
padai too; TOP
paha house
pekuta, -oti cattle driver
sa get
*serai EVD
*seipai robust
tanditai market
tano five
te 3SG (independent)
tipa name
tot everyone
vaka eat
vami how
vanaitu 1SG.HAB
vai...a NEG (with copula)
vai(va) NEG (with existential)
yas 3SG.PFV
yata ten

Conlang with me... live

If you'd like to see some live conlanging, language learning, and bite-sized linguistics lectures, join the 1400+ other subscribers on my YouTube channel (or watch live on Twitch).