Sänirtäm, a personal language

Introduction

The first time I tried to create a personal conlang was in 2016. It went through a few changes and was, at one point, named läin höuror. Sänirtäm is the (hopefully) final version of this personal conlang.

When I first started working on Sänirtäm, I was fairly interested in creating a language with the aesthetics of Sanskrit. I was also interested in Finnish, and toyed with the idea of having vowel harmony. This idea was scrapped when I decided that I also wanted to be able to pronounce this language.

Sänirtäm is nominative-accusative and agglutinative, because I really like agglutination. It also has a lot of “paired” verbs, where changing the final vowel from /a/ to /u/ changes the meaning from passive to active.

Consonants

Sänirtäm’s consonants are fairly “normal” by European standards:

sanirtam1

  • Syllable-final /h/ → [x]
  • [ŋ] is a rare sound that only occurs before /g/ and /k/

Certain consonants are palatalized before (and sometimes after) front vowels:

  • /n/ → [ɲ]
    • non /ˈnon/ vs. nisvah /ˈɲiɕ.wəx/
  • /t/ → [tɕ]
    • tovnas /ˈtou.nəs/ vs. täm /ˈtɕæm/
  • /d/ → [dʑ]
    • dawa /ˈdɑ.wə/ vs. däras /ˈdʑæ.rəs/
  • /k/ → [c]
    • kavara /ˈkɑ.wə.ˌrɑ/ vs. kera /ˈce.rə/
  • /g/ → [ɟ]
    • gunan /ˈgu.nən/ vs. geskerrada /ˈɟeɕ.cer.ˌrɑ.də/
  • /s/ → [ɕ]
    • sohres /ˈsox.reɕ/ vs. sän /ˈɕæɲ/
  • /h/ → [ç]
    • hanem /ˈhɑ.ɲem/ vs. hinnas /ˈçiɲ.ɲəs/
  • /w/ → [ʋ]
    • varjas /ˈwɑr.jəs/ vs. vihki /ˈʋiç.ci/

The /w/ shifting to [ʋ] was a result of me wanting both sounds in the language, but not wanting them to be represented by separate letters. I don’t actually know if this happens in any natlang.

Vowels

Vowels are not particularly unusual. The only allophone is [ə], which is what /ɑ/ becomes in unstressed syllables.

sanirtam2

/ɑ/ and /o/ followed by syllable-final /w/ become diphthongs:

  • /ɑw/ → /ɑu/
  • /ow/ → /ou/

Diphthongs do not exist otherwise.

Syllable Structure & Stress

Syllable structure is (C)V(F):

  • C = any consonant
  • V = any vowel
  • F = nasals, fricatives, & /w/ (never word-finally)

Primary stress falls on the initial syllable, and secondary stress falls on every other syllable.

Orthography

sanirtam3

With the exception of <ä>, zero letters use diacritics. This was a deliberate decision, as the US-International keyboard doesn’t allow you to type every diacritic on every letter. I did not want to continually have to copy/paste letters.

/w/ is represented by <v> specifically because I wanted Sänirtäm to look more like Sanskrit. I don’t particularly think I succeeded in that endeavor.

Demonstrative Articles

Sänirtäm has four demonstrative articles: proximal, distal, medial, and one that means “on/at”:

  • tokairo – “here, on/at me”
  • kairo – “this, close to me”
  • muru – “that, close to you”
  • vere – “that, far from us both”

Pronouns

Sänirtäm doesn’t have any pronouns, because I wanted to see if I could make a language without them.

In place of first-person pronouns (I, me, we, us), Sänirtäm uses the demonstrative tokairo “this, at/on me” + tären “person”. Names are used instead of second-person pronouns.

Proximal/media/distal demonstratives are used in place of third-person pronouns:

  • kairo tären “this person” – the person close to me
  • muru tären “that person” – the person close to you
  • vere tären “yonder person” – the person far away from the both of us

Nouns & Adjectives

Nouns are either animate or inanimate, and inflected for case, number, and gender.

  • Cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative, allative
  • Number: singular, dual, plural
  • Gender: animate, inanimate

Animate nouns end in consonants in the nominative singular and are declined as such:

sanirtam4

Inanimate nouns end in vowels in the nominative singular and follow this declension:

sanirtam5

Adjectives come in front of nouns and agree in case, number, and gender:

  • Animate: han hinnas “red star”
  • Inanimate: hana kerra “red paper” – since kerra is an inanimate noun, han gains a final “a” to match the noun’s gender

Verbs

Verbs are conjugated for tense and mood, and are grouped into two categories: active and passive.

  • Tenses: present, recent past, far past, near future, far future
  • Moods: indicative, subjunctive, conditional, optative, imperative

Passive verbs are primarily verbs that the agent has little or no control over:

sanirtam6

Examples of passive verbs:

  • dänna – to be moved, to be acted upon by a force
  • illa – to exist
  • kässora – to unknowingly tell a lie

Active verbs are verbs that the agent has full control over:

sanirtam7

Examples of active verbs:

  • dännu – to move (physically), to act
  • illu – to live
  • kässoru – to deliberately tell a lie

Example Sentences

Baruh tevna maunos.

  • The dog sees the cat.
  • dog.NOM.SG see.PRS.IND cat.ACC.SG

Sur maun tevnudem kelos baruhos.

  • The black cat recently looked at the yellow dog.
  • black.NOM.SG cat.NOM.SG look.RPST.IND dog.ACC.SG

Tokairo tären litaradem es Sänirtamos savniyunesu.

  • I was recently inspired, so I’m currently working on Sänirtam.
  • here person.NOM.SG inspire.RPST.IND thus Sanirtäm.ACC.SG build.PRS.COND

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