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.
Here is the standard phonetic inventory of Modern Urxan:
/a e i y ɔ u/ <a e i y o u>
- 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.
/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>
- 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.
Basic syllable structure is (C)V(C) but can extend to a maximum of CCVCCC.
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.
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.
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.
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 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)
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.
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).