The Urxan language

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Evynova
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The Urxan language

Post by Evynova » Sat 09 Dec 2017, 16:10

Here it is finally (for whoever is interested haha), the dedicated thread for the Urxan language! I don't have every little grammatical detail figured out yet, but I have more than enough to be able to translate simple, basic sentences, and definitely enough for a thread of its own.

Modern Urxan is spoken throughout the Urxan empire. It is related to Aangiian though the two are mutually unintelligible. Due to foreign influences, Urxan has a higher number of loanwords than Aangiian, but is more phonologically conservative. It is an agglutinative language with fairly predictable morphology and SOV word order.

Because of cultural and religious reasons mostly, men and women will have a different usage of the language. Though the differences aren't drastic, I will try to compare the two genderlects as often as possible. More in the following chapters.

Phonology
Here is the standard phonetic inventory of Modern Urxan:

Vowels

/a e i y ɔ u/ <a e i y o u>
/ə/ <ë>

Notes:
  • Vowel length was dropped and all long vowels merged with their short counterparts.
  • New vowels /ə/ and /y/ are the result of a diphthong merger. /ai/ and /ei/ merged with /e/; /oi/ and /ui/ merged as /y/ in stressed syllables. In unstressed syllables, both are kept as /ə/.

    Ex: /ˈailɑ/ → /el/; /ˈalai/ → /alə/

    Women speakers have a tendency to keep the diphthongs, but keep a merger: /ai/ and /ei/ merged into /ei/; /oi/ and /ui/ merged into /ui/. Consequently, they might not ever use /y/ or /ə/ in speech.
  • It is common for men to actually pronounce /a e i ɔ u/ as /ɑ ɛ ɪ o ʊ/, though not all of them do, or alternate between one and the other
  • /i/ palatalises the preceding consonant and then turns to schwa. /u/ rounds the preceding consonant and then turns to schwa. /i/ can affect consonants in various other ways (→ Consonants)

    E.G.: /lin/ → /lʲən/; /kun/ → /kʷən/.
  • When, for morphological reasons (a case suffix), two vowels are next to each other, an epenthetic /j/ is used to separate them.
Consonants

/p t k/ <p t k>
/m n/ <m n>
/f s x/ <f s x>
/ʃ ɣ/ <c g>
/w j/ <w j>
/l r/ <l r>

Notes:
  • The initial voiceless plosives /p t k/ are the poetic and literary standard. In vernacular speech, they are pronounced /p͡ɸ t͡s k͡x/ by male speakers, and /b d g/ by female speakers.
  • These plosives lenited to fricatives /f s x/ when intervocalic and word-final. It is however possible to find them in those positions if: they are the initial consonant of a suffix; they are in a recent compound word. Old compound words have them lenited.
  • */h s ŋ/ are now realised /x ʃ ɣ/ in all positions.
  • If /w/ and /j/ follow another consonant, they respectively round or palatalise it and 'disappear'. E.G. */tja/ */pwi/ → /tʲa/ /pʷi/
  • Due to the fact unstressed vowels were historically dropped, some consonant clusters will appear. None of them are forbidden, but awkward clusters will be separated, either by an epenthetic schwa, or by a vowel echoing the preceding one, depending on the speaker. Other clusters will be separated by an epenthetic consonant, usually /t/.

    Ex: */lr/ → /ltr/; */wj/ → /wᵊj/; */sr/ → /str/; ...

    With /wi/, the preceding consonant is labialised but /i/ remains intact: *taikawi /tai̯kawi/ → texwi /tsexʷi/
    With /jw/, the preceding consonant is both labialised and palatalised: *munjawo /munjawo/ → munjwo /mʷənʷʲo/.

    This drop of unstressed vowels also makes
  • /k/g t/d n x ʃ ɣ l/ all have palatalised allophones.

    E.G.: /gi/ and /di/ → /ɟə/; /ki/ and /ti/ → /c͡çə/ /ni/ → /ɲə/; /xi/ → /çə/; /ɣi/ → /ʝə/; /ʃi/ → /ɕə/ /li/ → /ʎə/

    As a result, words like kilri and tilri are homophones.
    f. /ɟəltrʲə/
    m. /c͡çəltrʲə/
Syllable structure
Basic syllable structure is (C)V(C) but can extend to a maximum of CCVCCC.

Grammar
Syntax
As said earlier, word order is SOV though it can alternate with OSV if the speaker wants to stress a particular part of speech. The verb must however occupy the last slot of a sentence and can only be followed by its qualifier(s).

Adjectives follow nouns; adverbs follow verbs. The definite article also follows the noun. Adpositions were postpositions, and were later assimilated into suffixes.

Number
Urxan has 3 numbers: singular, plural, and collective.

To form a plural from a singular noun, the suffix -ra is used. Ef, a man; efra, men.

Collective nouns refer to a group of multiple entities. It is possible to singularise a collective noun with the suffix -ca. Co, the population of a country, an ethnicity; coca, an inhabitant of a country, a member of an ethnic group. Collective nouns can also be pluralised: cora: several ethnic groups.

Gender
Urxan has kept the Proto-Urkhaa-Aangiian genders: animate and inanimate. Though adjectives are invariable, the choice of pronoun will be affected by whatever gender a noun is.

There are also two definite articles: -e for animate nouns and -la for inanimate nouns.

Collective nouns have the characteristic of always being inanimate. Co-la, "the ethnic group", but coca-e, "the member of an ethnic group". This characteristic of collective nouns makes it possible to form collective nouns out of singulars: ef-e, the man; efra-e, the men; efra-la, the male gender, men in a broad sense.

Pronouns:
Im, 1P.AN; ic, 1P.INAN
Ja, 2P.AN; eg, 2P.INAN
Ki, 3P.AN; kul, 3P.INAN

There are no plural pronouns. Because collective nouns are inanimate, the inanimate pronouns are often used as a plural equivalent. It is however possible to use the plural suffix -ra on all pronouns to explicitly pluralise them, though this is not compulsory, and up to the speaker to do so if s.he feels the need to.

There are no polite forms or honorifics, but a speaker may show humility by using the inanimate pronouns if referring to themself. A male speaker, when addressing any woman who isn't his younger sister, must refer to himself using 3rd person pronouns. On the other hand, women are free to use first person pronouns when addressing anyone.

Adjective and adverbs
Adjectives and adverbs always follow either a noun or a verb. Any adjective can be turned into an adverb by placing it after a verb; similarly, any adverb can be used as an adjective if placed after a noun.

Adjectives agree with the noun's plurality markers. Adverbs are invariable.

Ex: Ef-e ol, the sad man; efra-e olra, the sad men; efra-e pefenxe ol, the men walk sadly.

Verbs
Verbs have three tenses: past, present and future, and respectively require the following suffixes on a verb: -mal, -xe and -wy. There is an imperative mood: -ca, and a conditional mood: -kerc.

The imperative mood is also the equivalent of the modal "must". Jamy pefenxeca: "go!" or "you must go". Combining the conditional and the imperative serves as an equivalent to "should": Jamy pefenxecakerc, "you should go".

The conditional also serves as an irrealis mood, when introduced with the particle wec. Kimy pefenkerc wec, im ejsa., I would be happy if s.he left. The copula is dropped here, but if another verb was used, it would also have the prefix -kerc.

New moods and aspects were created when postpositions merged with verbs:
  • -can: volitive; causative
  • -nin: intention, "in order to"
  • -ig: while (V)
  • -elci: before (V)
  • -pix: after (V)
Verbs require their arguments to inflect following a tripartite system. The subject of a transitive verb inflects to the nominative case: -an. The object of a transitive verb inflects to the accusative case: -wux. Finally, the single argument of an intransitive verb inflects to the intransitive case: -my. The exception to this rule are the copula (which can be dropped), and "state" verbs, such as seem, feel like, etc which have unmarked arguments.

Nouns always take a suffix, but pronouns may not. It is considered informal to drop the transitivity markers on pronouns and usually only ever happens in oral speech, or in certain phrases. For example, Im ja mijxe, I love you, is, even in written form, rarely ever written with the transitivity markers.

Noun cases
All postpositions were assimilated into suffixes and became noun cases. In addition to the aforementioned nominative, accusative and intransitive cases, here is a list of the most common noun cases.
  • -ken: dative.
  • -ta: possessive/genitive, used on the possessor.
  • -ne: ablative; marks origin: out of, from; also: outside of (no movement)
  • -nin: allative; marks destination
  • -noc: "in the state of", "as".
  • -tic: instrumental (using, by means of)
  • -ti: comitative (with, in the company of)
  • -ecti: privative (without)
  • -in: superessive (on). Can be combined with allative: -inin: onto
  • -uc: under
  • -elci: in front of; before (temporal)
  • -pix: behind; after (temporal)
  • -ig: inessive (inside of)
  • -nen: close to, in proximity
  • -ol: pertingent: in contact with; also: against (metaphorically, versus).
Next up: the conscript
Last edited by Evynova on Thu 11 Jan 2018, 20:32, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: The Urxan language

Post by Evynova » Sat 09 Dec 2017, 16:58

The writing system
The Urxan alphabet was developed recently, and was for a long time only used for religious purposes.

It is read from top to bottom, and then usually from left to right (though right to left is also possible). It was traditionally carved into the barks of trees with knives, all around it. The written text acted as a spell, and was believed to bring good luck.

Here are the different letters:

Image

Notes:
  • The sound /x/ can be represented by two letters: if it is a lenited intervocalic /k/, then it is written with the letter for /k/. If it is the sound */h/ from the protolang,
    then it is written with its own letter. That is, in theory, the rule, but less educated people who might not know the etymology of the words they are writing my use either mistakenly.
  • The sounds /ə/ and /y/ do not have their own letters: that is because the old diphthongs are still written as such. Women, who are generally educated, adapted their pronunciation to the written language, but men rarely ever learn how to read, and thus kept the merger.
A very common phrase that is carved into trees, would be Ocxi mijxi-e, roughly translated to " Ocxi the beloved; Ocxi who loves". It is traditionally written as such:

Image

The alphabet has a more "calligraphic" form, which isn't used for practicality but for aesthetics. It is used on jewellery or in letters written by the richer population who could afford to learn the pretty writing (centraxi-la wiki, /ʃentraçə la wicə/).

Also, as this is my first conscript, criticism would be highly appreciated! It's probably not very good or original, but if there is anything I can improve, let me know!
Last edited by Evynova on Thu 11 Jan 2018, 20:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Urxan language

Post by Reyzadren » Sun 10 Dec 2017, 01:06

Evynova wrote:
Sat 09 Dec 2017, 16:58
Also, as this is my first conscript, criticism would be highly appreciated! It's probably not very good or original, but if there is anything I can improve, let me know!
Liking the vertical wood carving that can go left to right [<3] [+1]

Also, who cares if it is original; my conscript symbols look like typical runes. I care about style, and you have style~
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Re: The Urxan language

Post by Evynova » Sun 10 Dec 2017, 11:22

Reyzadren wrote:
Sun 10 Dec 2017, 01:06
Liking the vertical wood carving that can go left to right [<3] [+1]

Also, who cares if it is original; my conscript symbols look like typical runes. I care about style, and you have style~
Thanks, I really appreciate it! I have to admit, I'm always a tad worried when I post anything; I'm always scared that my creation isn't actually as good as I'd wish for it to be. I'm glad you like it, though!
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Re: The Urxan language

Post by Evynova » Sun 10 Dec 2017, 20:58

Stative and active verbs & passive constructions
In the first post, I briefly mentioned the transitivity suffixes of Urxan, but I feel like there still is some explaining to do and this is precisely what I am going to do here.

The transitivity suffixes are only ever used with dynamic verbs. That is to say, only verbs that describe an action will trigger the presence of the adequate case suffixes: ergative, accusative, and intransitive. All of them are marked:
Efan-e caxfawux-e kita termal.
Ef-an-e caxfa-wux-e ki-ta ter-mal
Man-ERG-DEF.AN brother-ACC-DEF.AN 3.AN-GEN kill-PST

The man killed his brother.

Jamy xanënenwy!
Ja-my xanë-nen-wy
2AN-INTR fall-INCPT-FUT

You're gonna fall!
A passive construction is possible by combining syntax and morphology. An active construction uses an SOV syntax; passivisation is achieved by inverting the subject and the object, thus using OSV syntax. Some passive sentences have a verb with a single argument. Urxan treats this argument as an object, thus requiring the accusative case. Using the wrong case suffix may lead to unfortunate misunderstandings:
Kijan lyfwux ewnexejig.
ki-an lyf-wux ewne-xe-ig
3AN.ERG apple-ACC eat-PRS-CONT

He is eating an apple.

Kimy ewnexejig.
3AN-INTR eat-PRS-CONT
He is eating.

Lyfwux kijan ewnexejig.
An apple is being eaten by him.

Kiwux ewnexejig.
He is being eaten.
On the other hand, the arguments of stative verbs, describing a fixed state, are to the nominative case, which is unmarked. This is also the case with the copula, which can be dropped:
Ene-e ejsa.
woman-DEF.AN happy
The woman is happy.

Ene-e ejsa casxe.
woman-DEF.AN happy see-PRS
The woman seems happy.
This last example illustrates how certain verbs change meanings depending on whether or not its arguments are marked. Cas means "to see" or "to look at" with marked arguments, but "seem" or "appear" when they are unmarked.
Enemy-e casxe.
woman-INTR-DEF.AN see-PRS
The woman sees (she isn't blind).
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Re: The Urxan language

Post by Pabappa » Tue 09 Jan 2018, 19:29

I don't think you need the superscript J after the palatals... palatalization is only marked as secondary articulation, because a palatal consonant is palatalized by definition. Some Slavic languages seem to have a distinction even so, but I'm told this is really about the presence or absence of a distinct /j/ sound *after* the palatal consonant.

Is ń descended from an earlier nasal consonant?

÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷
Also, with regards to/ pwi/ etc... are consonants followed by /wi/ both palatalized and labialized? I can see a potential ambiguity here.
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Re: The Urxan language

Post by Evynova » Wed 10 Jan 2018, 19:45

Pabappa wrote:
Tue 09 Jan 2018, 19:29
I don't think you need the superscript J after the palatals... palatalization is only marked as secondary articulation, because a palatal consonant is palatalized by definition. Some Slavic languages seem to have a distinction even so, but I'm told this is really about the presence or absence of a distinct /j/ sound *after* the palatal consonant.
You are right. I will edit the transcriptions and the phonology section when I have more time. Thanks for the correction.
Is ń descended from an earlier nasal consonant?
You might be making a mistake; <ń> is not part of this conlang's alphabet. I might have made a typo somewhere, but I scrolled through this thread three times and haven't seen the letter anywhere.
Also, with regards to/ pwi/ etc... are consonants followed by /wi/ both palatalized and labialized? I can see a potential ambiguity here.
I'll admit I haven't thought of this before. Interesting question.

Granted, /wi/ sequences would not occur very frequently due to the mostly CV structure of the protolang and the bisyllabic roots being most common + the vowel reduction. The problem would also occur for /jw/ sequences. So I have decided this:
  • With /wi/, the preceding consonant is labialised but /i/ remains intact: *taikawi /tai̯kawi/ → texwi /tsexʷi/
  • With /jw/, the preceding consonant is both labialised and palatalised: *munjawo /munjawo/ → munjwo /mʷənʷʲo/.
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