Rikchik Language

The rikchiks speak in what would be called sign language by humans. The rikchiks use 7 of their tentacles to speak with, putting each tentacle into a given shape and position to form a word. A sequence of words is assembled within the rikchik mind into a tree-like sentence structure.

There is now an incomplete but hopefully much clearer language reference available.


Each word consists of 4 parts:


A central, 4-tentacle symbol representing the basic concept of the word. See the morpheme catalog or the morpheme quick-reference.


A 1-tentacle symbol on the lower left representing the "part of speech" of the word.


A 1-tentacle symbol on the top representing the connection this word has to the word that will collect it. Rikchiks learn these using a diagram, shown below, about which more information is available.

Below is a list of relations. In parentheses, the connection is explained using T to refer to the word tagged with this relation and using C to refer to the word collecting it.
Primary relations
(relation) Agent (T does C)
(relation) Source, Cause (C is from T, C is because of T)
(relation) Instrument (something does C using T)
(relation) Quality (C is T-like)
(relation) Destination (C toward T)
(relation) Patient (something does C to T)
(relation) Container (T contains, includes, or owns C)
(relation) End-concept (T is considered resolved and cannot be directly collected.)
Reciprocal relations (not used as often)
(relation) Task (C does T)
(relation) Result (T is because of C)
(relation) Example (T is C-like)
(relation) Means (T toward C)
(relation) Actor (something does T to C)
(relation) Element (C contains, includes, or owns T)
See the relation diagram for more relation explanation.


A 1-tentacle symbol on the lower left representing how many unresolved words this word will collect.

The collector's position can also indicate the "pronomial" status of the word. When this tentacle is in the "SE" position, it does not indicate pronomialness. When this tentacle is in the "ESE" position (slightly above the usual position), it indicates that this word indicates the same thing/concept as the previous word mentioned by this speaker using this word's morpheme. Occasionally that will not be sufficiently specific; one might wish to refer to an occurence other than the previous one. In that case, this tentacle can be placed in the "E" position (directly to the right of the word), which indicates a modifier to a multipart pronomial. See the sentence structure section for more details about collectors.

Ascii form

The original human xenolinguists studying rikchik language found it necessary to be able to write rikchik words and sentences in plain text. They came up with a simple system. Each word is represented as a 4-part structure:


Rikchik sentences are written from top to bottom, left to right. However, they have a grammatical structure that humans describe as a "tree". A tree is a structure of points and lines where each point except the bottom one is connected to one and only one point below it. In rikchik sentence trees, the role of points is filled by words. The collector tentacle determines the number of lines entering a word, and the relation tentacle determines the meaning of a line. Basically, each word modifies the word that collects it in some way.


In rikchik grammar, a single symbol, consisting of 7 tentacles, is a "word". A word that is at the top of a tree (no connections from words above it) can be referred to as a "leaf". Words that are not leaves have some number of words connected above them. We say that such a word "collects" the words above it. The meaning of the connection between words is expressed by the Relation tentacle, so those connections are referred to as "relations". We also say that the upper word "relates" to the lower word in a certain way. Words that have the relation End do not get collected. If a word has some other relation and has not been collected yet, we call that word "unresolved".

Tree Structure

Each word has a Collector tentacle that describes how that word affects the tree structure. The tentacle is associated with a number that says how many currently unresolved words that word collects.

As an example, take the sentence on the right. It means, "A happy rikchik moves along the east-flowing water". (Note: the colors of the Aspect, Relation, and Collector tentacles are not necessary and are included here as an aide to the learner.) Example Sentence

The rikchik language has one departure from strict tree structure. That departure is the pronomial, a modification of the Collector tentacle. By putting the Collector in a slightly higher position, the speaker or writer indicates that the word so tagged is referring to the same thing the previous word using that morpheme referred to. So, if you want to say something else about the same rikchik that we just described going along the river, you could simply use the same morpheme with a pronomial, as in Rikchik-R-Agent-0P "the previous rikchik":

The slightly raised position, called the "pronomial", refers to the previous use of that morpheme by the same speaker. If you wished to refer to the previous use of a multi-morpheme structure, you would specify the modifiers to the root morpheme with the "option-pronomial", which is an even more raised position. Here is Happy-M-Quality-0O Rikchik-R-Agent-1P "the previous happy rikchik":

A final note about pronomials: the pronomial refers to the previous word of that morpheme. The non-morpheme tentacles do not have to agree: one could pronomially refer to the water that was a place in the previous sentence as an inanimate noun.

Tree Meaning

The meaning of the parts of a tree is determined by the Relation tentacle. A Relation indicates how the word it is part of modifies or describes the word that will collect it. The most obvious use of Relations is to specify the roles of words collected by a verb: the subject is tagged as an Agent, the direct object as (usually) a Patient, and so on. Relations are used for all connections, however. At some points more examples will be here.

Notice that what Relations do in the rikchik language is what word order does in many human languages. Word order is not generally vital to the meaning of a Rikchik sentence. The exception is when dealing with time, which is discussed elsewhere.

Online rikchik typewriter

A rikchik typewriter is available online.
Last modified January 29, 2003 by Denis Moskowitz. Word assembly program utilizes gd, a graphics library, and GD.pm, a perl interface to gd. gd is © 1994, 1995, Quest Protein Database Center, Cold Spring Harbor Labs. GD.pm is © 1995, Lincoln D. Stein. Both are used with permission.