Universal Survey of Languages



Pronouns are usually attached to the beginning of the verb. If the verb has only a subject pronoun, the pronoun particle is attached to the beginning of the verb. If the verb has both a subject and a direct object, then subject pronoun particles are used for both the subject and object (subject then object). If the verb has a direct object only, then the object paticle is used.

The object form is usually only used when alone. Genative case uses the subject form. Dative uses the subject form when there is motion to/from the indirect object, while the object form is used when only the position of the indirect object is implied.

In this list, the subject phoneme is given, then the object, then the description:

t  s  -- I,          first person singular
k  f  -- you/thou,   second person singular
?  h  -- one/he/she, third person singular, animate
p  T  -- it,         third person singular, inanimate
d  z  -- we,         first person plural, including person spoken to
n  Z  -- we,         first person plural, excluding person spoken to
                   (/n/ turns to /d/ when both /n/ and /Z/ are used.
                    /dZ/ sounds like 'j' in English)
g  v  -- you/ye,     second person plural
b  D  -- they,       third person plural, animate
m  S  -- they,       third person plural, inanimate
                   (/m/ turns to /t/ when both /m/ and /S/ are used.
                    /tS/ sounds like 'ch' in English)
x  l  -- that,       last sentense/concept, demonstrative pronoun


Ferengi has a set of vowels that are attached to word roots to show what type of word it is. Latin case names are used, even though Ferengi word types do not correspond well with Latin cases. These vowels are attached to the end of the ROOT of a word.

o   Nominative (subject)/Default
^   Accusative (direct object)
i   Dative (indirect object)
u   Genitive (possesive)
e   Process/Instrument
y   Adjective/Participle
a   Verb
r   Verb 'to be' (attached to adjectival root)
&   Verb - when the topic is considered to be false or hypothetical


Verb modifiers are items that are attached to the end of the verb, participle, or gerund, immediately following the case vowel. They are listed in the relative order in which they are usually attached.

Tense (listen in order of most common usage):

(nothing), t, v   present
s, g, z           past
k, x              future
vt                Imperative/NOW/Emphatic
ts                Present perfect
xt                Future imperfect (now and in the future)
gz                Past perfect
ks                Future perfect
p    Not/Negation
z    Question
m    Plural  (Actually for nouns, added after case particle)
ub   Passive


Now that you have pronouns, cases, and modifiers, you need to know now to attach them to verbs. Verb phrases in Ferengi usually end up being single words, and they can get rather long. Here, I will build a few example words, using the root for 'see', which is /v/:

"Have I not seen you?"
t {I} k {you} v {see} a {verb} ts {present perfect} p {not} z {question}

"Do I see myself?"
t {I} s {me} v {see} a {verb} z {question}

"I will have been seen."
t {I} v {see} a {verb} ks {future perfect} ub {passive}

"To be seen"
v {see} a {verb} t {present} ub {passive}
In the case of imperatives, the pronoun (/k/ or /g/) is usually given explicitly.
"See!" (command to no one in particular or emphatic)
v {see} a {verb} vt {imperative}

"(thou) see!"
k {thou} vavt

"(ye) see!"
g {ye} vavt
There are some other situations to consider. Gerunds are simply made by giving a verb root a noun (accusative, etc.) ending, plus a tense. Participles are distinguised from adjectives by having a tense particle attached.
"seeing"       - /vyt/  (participle)  ("_Seeing_ this in context, we...")
"seeing"       - /vot/  (gerund)  ("_Seeing_ is believing")
"having seen"  - /vyts/ (participle), /vots/ (gerund)


There are cases when some of the above listed particles and attachments will have to stand alone. For example, the word "my" is the pronoun /t/, attached to the genitive particle /u/, making the word /tu/.

Pronouns can even stand alone if it is necessary to emphasize them. In that case, object pronouns are used in conjuntion with the accusative case particle in proper circumstances. For example, "I see you", which is /tkva/, can be split up into:

to {I + nominative} f^ {thou + accusative} va {see + verb}
/to f^ va/
Genative pronouns act as adjectives and therefore follow the word they modify:
"My hand"
kaxo {hand + default} tu {I + genative}
/kaxo tu/
[ka'xo tu]
In cases where the possession is less imporant than something else in the sentence, genative particles can be attached to the end of the word, so the above phrase would become /kaxotu/, which results in virtually no change in pronounciation, but in writing, it shows a difference.

As noted above, the dative case uses subject pronoun forms to imply motion or transfer, and it uses object pronoun forms to imply location. As an example, consider /ti/ (i + dative), which means "to me" and /si/ (me + dative), which means more like "for me", and which can mean other things with a preposition such as /uf/, making /ufsi/, meaning "under me". While this particle can stand anywhere in the part of a sentence in which it belongs, the default position is as a suffix for the object which is being moved, if there is one. Here are some examples:

"Give me money!"
/ktxavt bv^ti/
[k@t'xavt 'bB^-ti]

"He sells them food."
/?k?a wl^bi/
[?@k'?a w@'l^-bi]

"He sits under it."
/?arfa ufTi/
[?ar'fa uf'Ti]
It is extremely rare, but /u/ by itself can act as a definate article ("the"). It follows the word that is definate. I do not know where it is approriate, so I suggest that you don't bother using it. Mostly because attaching /u/ to the end of a word usually makes it possessive. There is no indefinate article ("a", "an").


In most cases, when one word modifies another, the modifier (adjective or adverb) immediately follows the word it modifies. The phonemic system used here often shows them seperate, but the Ferengi often attach the modifer directly to the end of the modified word in their writing system.

However, there is no other default word ordering in the sentence. Since all parts are marked in the word by a case particle, there is no need for a specific ordering to the words. Therefore, the Ferengi take advantage of this for emphasis. Words are generally placed in order of importance, and loosely in order of newest-information to oldest-informaton.

For example, if you wanted to say, "_I_ see you", with "I" being very important, then the sentence would be ordered thus:

/to kva/
[to k@'va]
However, if the verb "see" were more important, it could be ordered like this: /va to f^/ But most often, pronouns aren't emphasized, and the sentence would simply be /tkva/ [t@k'va].

Now consider a sentence that doesn't need much emphasis, but is presenting you with new information. Take the sentence, "Dak sees PRaaN", where you know who /Dak/ and /PRaaN/ are, but you don't know that one sees the other (which is why you are being told this sentence in the first place). Then the sentence would be ordered thus:

/va Dako PRaaN^/
[va Da'ko PRaa'N^/
In the case of imperatives, the pronoun (/k/ or /g/) is given explicitly.

In addition to word ordering, there is a suffix which is often used for emphasis. As an example, here is the Ferengi standard greeting:

bj {profit} a {verb} vt {imperative}
[bjaft] or ['bja-v@t]
This sentence means "Profit!", but it is not directed at anyone (no subject pronoun), so in actuality, its meaning is a strong emphasis on the word 'profit', which is what Ferengi like to make a lot of.

But this /vt/ attachment has spread to other words, and can be used to emphasize something. /Gal/ is the root of "red", and therefore, /Galy/ is the adjectival form of the word used in speech. If you wanted to say "RED" or "very red" or "really red", putting much emphasis on the fact that something is red, then you could use the word /Galyvt/. Since adjectives must follow the nouns they modify, this can be very useful.


There is no root word for "to be" in Ferengi. Rather, it is a vowel that is attached to an adjective, turing the adjective into part of a verb phrase. From above, you saw that /Gal/ is the root for "red". If something "IS" red, then you attach the vowel /r/ and get /Galr/. If _I_ am red, then you get this:
t {I} Gal {red} r {is/am}
In a case where you absolutely NEED the verb "to be", then you simply stand it alone with tense and auxilaries attached to the end.
"to be"

"to have been"

"to not be" or "not to be"
(notice the change in attachment ordering for ease of pronounciation)

"to be been" (which makes no sense in English; passive of "to be")

"to be?"

"To be or not to be, that is the question.
/rt mala rpt, xr zil^/
/r/ is seldom used as just shown above, but it has been found in cases where an object being referred to was in visual proximity to the speaker and it was very important. For example:
"This money IS mine!"
/rt bvo tu/
[rt b@'vo tu]

"My name IS Silu."
/rt dZfkotu silu^/
[rt dZ@f'ko-tu si'lu-w^]


In English, quantifiers act just like adjectives, but in Ferengi, where numbers and quantities are very important, words that specify how much there is of something go before the nouns they modify. They are used as shown with out any sort of ending attached.
/puk/   None of
/kyf/   All of/Every
/Goz/   Many
/Zrn/   Some of
/gip/   Not all of
/fis/   Few
/kjy/   Only
/gelm/  More


The Ferengi number system is a highly organized, efficient way of communicating numbers that partly evolved from their heavy use of numbers and partly contrived by the Ferengi in order to improve further their efficiency. You will soon find the number system to be very elegant and often more straightforward than English. The only drawback is that the number system is not base 10 (decimal), but rather base 20 (vigesimal). Let's begin with the names of their first 20 numbers:
 0  /pen/    10  /ned/
 1  /Din/    11  /wix/
 2  /gid/    12  /vog/
 3  /Ca/     13  /xee/
 4  /tal/    14  /j&t/
 5  /kip/    15  /dy/
 6  /saa/    16  /Vet/
 7  /zik/    17  /San/
 8  /mO/     18  /qun/
 9  /Nat/    19  /Xaw/
There are next two very important things you can do these words. Firstly, which will become imporant later, if you add /i/ to the end of a number, you make it negative.

But of more immediate concern, if you change the final consontant to (or add it to the end if the last letter is a vowel) an /m/ to the end, you are making a number with is 20 to the power of that number. For example:

/Dim/   =  20^1   =      20
/gim/   =  20^2   =     400
/Cam/   =  20^3   =   8,000
/tam/   =  20^4   = 160,000
To understand a number when written in words, you then have to understand the ordering. Put in technical terms, given a number-word, if a word of lower intrinsic value is to the right, it is simply added, while if a word of lower intrinsic value is to the left, it is multiplied. You can see this in English where the number '202' is written "two-hundred two". You can see that the 'two' to the left is multiplied by the 'hundred', while the two on the right is simply added.

Note that since you can make a number negative by a simple addition if /i/, you can 'add' a negative number to a larger number to improve efficiency. In fact, you can do that all you want, but it can get complicated and and lead to confusion when overused. Ferengi are people, not computers, so when the numbers get too complicated with negatives, it is often better to sacrifice efficiency for understandability.

Here are some examples:

  42    /gid-Dim gid/         (2*20 + 2)
 457    /gim gid-Dim San/     (400 + 2*20 + 17) 
7999    /Xaw-gim Xaw-dim Xaw/ (19*400 + 19*20 + 19)
7999    /Cam Dini/            (8000 + -1)
7980    /Xaw-gim Xaw-dim/     (19*400 + 19*20)
7980    /Cam Dimi/            (8000 + -20)
Now, note something interesting and useful. Take the number /gid/ (2), for example. When adding /m/ or /i/, you have to process the suffixes in order from left to right. Observe:
/gid/     2
/gim/     20^2         =  400
/gidi/    2 * -1       = -2
/gimi/    20^2 * -1    = -400
/gidim/   20^(-2)      =  1/400 = 0.0025
/gidimi/  20^(-2) * -1 = -0.0025
As you can see, the /i/ at the end makes the whole number negative, whereas if it is encountered first, it makes the number negative before it becomes the exponnent for 20.

This allows one to communicate in terms of fractions with relative ease and it has the advantage over English in that you can't lose your place when someone reads off consecutive digits after the decimal (or vigesimal or radix) point.

0.05      /Dinim/              (20^(-1))
0.5       /Dinim ned/          (20^(-1) * 10)
0.55      /Dinim ned Dinim/    (20^(-1) * 10 + 20^(-1))
The rule of ordering for 0.5 may look backward at first, but it is consistent in that /Dinim/ is of lower intrinsic value than /ned/, and is therefore multiplied.

This number system can become exceedingly difficult for the unexperienced, especially when dealing with fractions. There is no SIMPLE conversion between decimal and vigesimal like there is between, for example, hexidecimal and binary. In order to make things easier, I will later add a piece of C code to the end of this text file that will convert from decimal to vigesimal and also written form.

In dealing with computers, the Ferengi have adapted to using their number system for communicating in Hexidecimal. This can get very confusing, because it sounds like they're using their base-20 number system if you don't realise that they're using base 16. Basically take all the 20's above and replace them with 16's and only use the digits from 0 to 15. If someone did that in English, using our normal speech for base-10 to communicate base 8 numbers, then someone saying "twenty" would actually mean "16" (decimal), rathern than "20" (decimal).

Likewise, you could use this number system to communicate base 10, but it would be to a Ferengi like it would be to us for someone to use our number system to communicate in base 5. When they said "one-hundred", they'd actually mean "25" (decimal), rather than "100" (decimal).

Ferengi treat all cardinal numbers as either nouns or quantifiers, depending on context, so if a number is being used as a quantifier, it precedes the noun it modifies.

On the other hand, ordinal numbers are treated as adjectives and follow noun. Given a cardinal number, constructed as explained above, you simply attach /aj/ to the end of the rightmost element. When writing out digits, /a/ is appended to the end of the number, but does not have a line through its baseline like the other digits.

/penaj/             1st
/Dimaj/            20th
/gid-Dim gidaj/    42nd
Each Ferengi letter has a numerical value. To write a number you can simply write out the digits (using the first 20 letters of the alphabet), from left to right, highest order of magnitude to lowest. However, numbers which contain a lot of zeros can get lengthy and tedious to write, so values have been assigned to 28 of the remaining 30 letters of the Ferengi alphabet. They start at /?/ (20^1), go to /e/ (20^19), then from /E/ (20^-1) to /^/ (20^-9). These can be inserted into a number, eliminating the need for extra zeros to the right. For example, 8000 can be written out as _Dppp_ or it can be simply written as _r_. Further, 8001 can be written as _DppD_, or as _rD_. Other shortcuts can be made, such as 159999 being written out as _XXXX_, or as _R-D_, where '-' here represents the Ferengi symbol for subtraction.

A vigesimal point is represented by @ seperating the whole number on the left from the fraction on the right.

The shortcut works for fractions too. 0.000125 can be represented as either _@ppD_, or as _Z_, for example.

When written in digits, all letters except a final /a/ in an ordinal have a horizontal line drawn through their baseline. In this text, that line will be represented by replacing the /'s with _'s.

Since the Ferengi have been interacting with other races, they have discovered that they are practically alone in their use of a base 20 number system. For efficiency, they still use their own, but when the need for a base 10 number system arises, to avoid confusion with their own, they borrow the number system, lock, stock, and barrel, from the Klingons. You can get the Klingon number system from reading the Klingon dictionary.


The following is a list of roots for basic question words. To them, you would attach the proper case ending for its place in the sentence. Additionally, the verb needn't necessarily have the question auxiliary /z/ attached, and if the verb is "to be", the verb can be omitted altogether. /ug/ Who/whom /am/ What /pod/ Why /in/ When /pk/ Where [p@k] /a?/ How /Ng/ How much (/Ngo/ = [N-go]) When Ferengi greet each other, it is polite to ask how one feels. In Ferengi, you do not ask how one feels; you ask what is the state of one's finances or inner peace. The root word for "inner peace" is /kin/. Here is the proper form of the question: "How are you?" amo {what + nominative} kino {inner-peace + default} ku {you + genitive} /amo kinoku/ [a'mo ki'no-ku] As you can see, there is no "is" in this sentence, and there is no question particle /p/. These can be implicit in the use of /amo/.

English puts predicate nominatives ('object' of "to be" sentence) into the nominative case, but Ferengi does not. If I were to say "I am he" in Ferengi, it would be /to rt h^/ (or whatever word ordering you choose), which puts /h^/ ("him", actually) into the accusative case. However, there are cases where this rule is violated, and the above greeting is one of those cases where a gramatically incorrect statement is so often used that it becomes accepted as standard. (Like "It is me" in English which is technically wrong but generally accepted.)


When you need to join together more than one word as the subject of or object of a sentence, in English, you use conjuntions. The same is done in Ferengi. Most often, the conjunction is placed between each of the elements of a list. The whole list is kept together as a unit, and the items are listed in order of importance or arbitrarily, depending on the point of the sentence. "A and B and C and D...." /A wen B wen C wen D..../ However, due to influence from alien languages, some Ferengi have adopted a slightly more efficient (but sometimes confusing) approach:
"A, B, C, and D...."
/A, B, C, wen D..../
Also, in place of /wen/, the suffix /wn/ can be attached to the end of each word:
"A and B and C and D...."
/Awn Bwn Cwn D..../
When more than one pronoun is the subject or object of a sentence, the pronouns are detached from the verb:
"You and I see him."
kown {you + nominative + and} to {I + nominative} ?va {him + see + verb}
/kown to ?va/
/ko wen to ?va/
Other conjuntions function in the same way.
and              -wn or wen
or (inclusive)   lala
or (exclusive)   mala
but              imp


It is often the case that someone will have a list of subjects and objects all associated by the same verb in the same sentence. Consider this sentence:

"John ordered hotdogs, Dan ordered a hamburger, and Sue ordered an apple."

Using gapping, one can remove some unnecessary redundancy and come out with this:

"John ordered hotdogs, Dan a hamburger, and Sue an apple."

This same sort of thing can be done in Ferengi, but due to the flexibility in word-ordering, there are a number of possible combinations. For the following, "S" is a subject, "V" is a verb, and "O" is a direct object. First is given the full version, followed by the collapsed version. Parentheses are used here ONLY as a visual aid.

(S1 V O1), (S2 V O2), wen (S3 V O3).
 can become
(S1 V O1), (S2 O2), wen (S3 O3).        -or-
(S1, S2, wen S3) V (O1, O2, wen O3).

(O1 V S1), (O2 V S2), wen (O3 V S3).
 can become
(O1 S1), (O2 S2), wen (O3 V S3).        -or-
(O1, O2, wen O3) V (S1, S2, wen S3).

(V O1 S1), (V O2 S2), wen (V O3 S3).
 can become
(V O1 S1), (O2 S2), wen (O3 S3).

(V S1 O1), (V S2 O2), wen (V S3 O3).
 can become
(V S1 O1), (S2 O2), wen (S3 O3).

(S1 O1 V), (S2 O2 V), wen (S3 O3 V).
 can become
(S1 O1), (S2 O2), wen (S3 O3 V).

(O1 S1 V), (O2 S2 V), wen (O3 S3 V).
 can become
(O1 S1), (O2 S2), wen (O3 S3 V).
When the subjects and objects of the reduced parts are pronouns, you can put the pronouns together followed by /a/. For example /tkva/ with the verb removed becomes /tka/.
/tkva, tsva, wen ?pva/     "I-you-see, I-me-see, and he-it-sees."
[t@k'va, ts'va, wen ?@p'va]
  can become
/tka, tsa, wen ?pva/       "I-you-, I-me-, and he-it-sees."
[t@'ka, tsa, wen ?@p'va]
This relative ordering can be quite important. Here are some rules. The first two override the second two.
-- if the verb is last, the last group has the verb
-- if the verb is first, the first group has the verb
-- if the subject is first, the verb is at the first group or in the center
-- if the object is first, the verb is at the last group or in the center


As with any language, Ferengi has a number of commonly used phrases that are used for greeting and politeness. The commonly used Ferengi greeting show a strong bias toward the Ferengi general mindset and attitude.

The Ferengi word for 'hello' expresses their strong desire for acquiring profit. It is a verb which means 'profit', is has the emphatic/imperative suffix attached, and it does not have any pronoun attached, showing that 'profit' is basically a very important thing. You could also say that it is commanding that no one in particular make profit.

"Profit!"  (imperative/emphatic)
Normally when you say 'goodbye' to someone, you usually have the wish to see them again (so you can sell them more things). The Ferengi use the same very important word /bjavt/, plus an expression of interest in being seen again. This is very formal:
/bjavt vatub/
"Profit!  To be seen."
To be a little less formal, the Ferengi have the following three ways of saying goodbye that also are not confusing about whether it is the speaker or the listener who is leaving:
/tvakub/ (I will be seen)     "I'm leaving now... bye."
/kvakub/ (Thou will be seen)  "You're leaving.  See you later."
/gvakub/ (Ye will be seen)    "You all are leaving.  See you later."
It is always polite to ask how someone is feeling, etc. The Ferengi have discovered the value of being polite to their customers and suppliers, and to a Ferengi, one way of being polite is to express a positive interest in how well one's business is going. The Ferengi have a root word /kin/ which means a number of emotionally associated things, including "inner peace" and "economic status".
"How are you?"
/amo kinoku/
"What is your inner-peace/economic-state?"
When greeting anyone, it is polite to refer to them with a title that honors him. In any case where you don't know what the title of the person to whom you are speaking, or you just want to be brief about it, you can refer to them as /blk/. /blk/ is used regardless of relative rank or standing.

In cases where you do know what the rank of someone is, these are the standard ranks:

Pilch       /piltS/
Zok         /zak/
TarkMon     /tarkman/
QuoMon      /qwoman/
KoMon       /koman/
Sub DaiMon  /ufdeman/
DaiMon      /deman/
Miser       /ekfaple/
Sub Nagus   /ufneg^s/
Nagus       /neg^s/
When you are done making a transaction, you often say "thank you", which is responded to by "you're welcome". The Ferengi do something similar. Their equivalent of both "thank you" and "you're welcome" is /tsax/, which is quite often shortened to /ts/. This merely expresses a satisfaction with the completion of an exchange. There is no equivalent of "please". Rather, the Ferengi express a desire and then conclude by refering to the person as /blk/, as described above.


Prepositions are simply attached to the beginning of the first word of a prepositional phrase. There are also a few postpositions that only work with individial words and are attached to the end.


The Ferengi society is strongly biased toward males. Their females are not allowed to wear clothing, learn the rules of acquisition, or much of anything else for that matter. Ironically, their language doesn't address this. It seems that the Ferengi either don't care, or they assume everything to be masculine or neuter.

There are words for "mother", "daughter", "sister", etc., but there is nothing special about them compared with the corresponding male counterparts.


Ferengi has the tendancy to compound words when two or more words are part of a single concept. For example, below, "language-study" is mentioned. The root for 'language' or 'speak' is /pZ/, and the root for 'study' is /pf/. They are simply stuck together to form a new word which means "language- study".

Older Ferengi compounts, and even some newer ones, are not simple compounds of their componnents. Instead, part of either word is removed. For example, the root for 'trade' is /fEt/, and the root for agreement is /&k/. The compound, which means 'deal', is not /fEt&k/, as one might expect, but instead, it has collapsed into /f&k/. This was originally due in many cases to frequent use and the need for efficiency, which caused people to start sluring certain words to speak faster. Now, this is simply a feature of the language. If a compound is important enough, it will be collapsed.

Ferengi do not make acronyms like we do in English, but they do use something similar. The tendancy is to take the first consonant and the first vowel from each word and pronounce the combination as a word.


The Ferengi have a college which devotes itself to the study of language, with the hopes of understanding the languages of other races for better trade relations. If you've ever wondered why Ferengi speak English so well, it's because they realize how imporant it is to communicate and trade with Federation peoples. [All other races are dubbed in. ] Fortunately, the Ferengi phonology allows them to pronounce a wide variety of alien languages without much difficulty. Their language school is called:
/bsto frengy pZpfi/  [b@'sto ,fr-en'gy p@Z'pPi],
which translates as "Ferengi school of language-study".

This is abreviated as /bofepi/.
On to the next section
napoleon@teleport.com / January 9, 1995