Askeisk, a Scandinavian language (part 1)

Introduction

Askeisk is a North Germanic conlang. It belongs to the West Scandinavian branch and is spoken on the (fictional) island of Askei, located halfway between Shetland and the Faroe Islands. It has around 5,000 speakers, many of whom are also bilingual in either Irish, Icelandic, or Norwegian.

Askeisk was primarily created for a story I was thinking about writing in 2016. That story is permanently on hold, but the conlang has managed to hold my interest for quite a long time.

Phonology

Askeisk’s consonants are fairly similar to the other North Germanic languages. At one point, it included /ɬ/, /ð/, and /θ/, but I removed them as I didn’t want to deal with too many fricatives. Like in Faroese and Iceland, stops contrast aspiration instead of voicing.

Askeisk’s vowels are thoroughly uninteresting. Each vowel is either long or short. Short vowels exist in closed syllables (end with a consonant) and long vowels appear elsewhere.

Consonants

  • Nasals: m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
  • Stops: pʰ p tʰ t ʈʰ ʈ cʰ c kʰ k ʔ
  • Fricatives: f v s ʃ ʂ ç h
  • Approximants: l ɹ ɭ ɻ j

Certain consonants & consonant clusters have “soft” (palatalized) versions which only occur before front vowels. I created this rule before I decided on an aspiration rather than voicing distinction, which is really the only reason /g/ becomes [j] and not [c]:

  • /k/ → [c]
  • /g/ → [j]
  • /h/ → [ç]
  • /n/ → [ɲ]
  • /sk/ → [ʃ]

Certain consonants followed by /j/ become palatalized:

  • /nj/ → [ɲ]
  • /hj/→ [ç]
  • /gj/ → [j]
  • /kj/ → [c]
  • /tj/→ [ʃ]
  • /sj/ → [ʃ]

All geminated, nonaspirated stops become preglottalized:

  • /gg/ → [ʔk]
  • /bb/ → [ʔp]
  • /dd/ → [ʔt]

Meanwhile, geminated, aspirated stops become preaspirated:

  • /kk/ → [hk]
  • /pp/ → [hp]
  • /tt/ → [ht]

Other misc. sound changes:

  • /nn/ → /tn/ → [ʔn̩]
  • /ll/ → /tl/ →[ʔl̩]
  • /gl/ → [ll]
  • /skj/ → [ʃ]

Vowels

  • Close: iː yː uː ɪ ʏ ʊ
  • Mid: eː øː oː ɛ œ ɔ
  • Open: æ æː a aː

At one point, every first-syllable /a/ was [æ]. I then decided that was obnoxious and made /æ/ its own independent phoneme.

There are quite a few possible diphthongs, but not all of them occur in actual words:

  • aɪ aiː aʊ auː
  • ɛɪ eiː
  • ɔɪ oiː ɔʊ ouː
  • œʏ øyː
  • ʊɪ uiː

Stress

Like Norwegian and Swedish, Askeisk has a pitch accent! I guess at some point I decided I needed some kind of difference from Faroese and Icelandic, because I absolutely remember there being a stress system initially.

Monosyllables have no accent. Bisyllabic or longer words are pronounced with a rising tone on the first syllable.

Orthography

Askeisk’s orthography isn’t particularly strange, I think.

I’m including diphthongs & digraphs here because why not?

Letteraaiauæbdef
Soundaaiauæptef
Letterggjglhhjijk
Soundkjhçij
Letterkjlllmnngnjnn
Soundlʔl̩mnŋɲʔn̩
Letterooiouøøyprs
Soundooiouøøyrs
Letterskskjttjuuivy
Sound sk, ʃʃtʃuuivy

Part 2 >>

Fèdzéyí, the language of too many verbs

Introduction

Fèdzéyí is one of my older conlangs. It was created in 2015, and the original ideas for the conlang are very different than how it turned out.

The then-unnamed conlang was one of three languages in a language family, all three of which were spoken by a fictional people who lived in and around a canyon. At that point, there were some influences from Romanian, of all languages. I’d already decided that the language strucure would resemble Japanese (CVN syllables), but with tones.

At this point, I decided that the original idea for the conlang needed to be scrapped. I scrapped the language family idea entirely and decided to take inspiration from Mandarin & Navajo, two languages I was looking into at the time. I had a very poor understanding of both of those languages, and it showed.

Eventually, Fèdzéyí moved away from those incluences and became something of its own. Fèdzéyí means “circle language”. When I named it, I still had the idea of making it be spoken by a fictional group of people. After some time, I abandoned that entirely and kept the name.

Fèdzéyí is primarily based on verbs. All verbs have a “base” form that is monosyllabic, with grammatical particles attching to them. Most nouns are derived from verbs with an accompanying class suffix. There are very few “true” adjectives; most of the time, verbs are used in their place as descriptors.

Phonology

Fèdzéyí has a syllable structure of CVN, where:

  • C = any consonant or /kw/
  • V = any vowel
  • N = /n/ or /ŋ/

/m/ was originally included as a final, but I dropped that when I realized that would create too many base words.

Consonant inventory:

  • Nasals: /m/, /n/, /ŋ/
  • Stops: /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/
  • Fricatives: /f/, /v/, /s/, /z/, /ɕ/, /ʑ/, /h/
  • Affricates: /tɕ/, /dʑ/
  • Approximants: /l/, /j/, /w/
  • Trills: /r/

I spent some time deliberating on whether I wanted a voicing or aspiration distinction on the stops, and also whether or not I wanted to include /f/ and /v/, and whether I wanted to delete /r/ entirely and only have /l/.

Vowel inventory:

  • Front: /i/, /u/
  • Central: /ə/, /a/
  • Back: /u/, /o/

There was originally a distinction between long and short vowels, but again, it created too many base words.

Fèdzéyí has three tones: level, rising, and falling. The rising tone is indicated with an acute accent, and the falling tone is indicated with a grave accent.

Verb Construction

A verb is constructed in the form Modifier-Adverb-Stem-Mood-Tense.

“Modifiers” are particles that indicate positivity (vùn) or negativity/negation (éng). You can use verb with vùn prefixed to indicate that you completed an action (such as if you were asked if you already took out the trash). Éng is used in largely the same way.

Adverbs are just verb stems that are used to modify the main verb. There’s nothing particularly unique about them.

Fèdzéyí has four moods: indicative (keun), subjunctive (dzo), conditional (), and imperative (). The three tenses are past (heu), present (da), and future (dzí).

I once considered marking person and number on the verbs since the conlang is so verb-heavy to begin with, but decided against it as it would make the words too long for my own liking.

Noun Construction

This is where things get fun.

The vast majority of nouns are based on verb stems. They’re constructed in the form Determiner-Verb Stem-Class-Number/Numeral-Case-Adjective.

There are proximal, medial, and distal determiners. They’re either singuar or plural, and this is a bit redundant with the numeral being marked elsewhere, but you know what? Redundancy is a part of most (all?) natural languages, so I have no problem putting it into this conlang.

  • Proximal: dà, dàho
  • Medial: tú, túho
  • Distal: néng, néngho

There are ten noun classes, and they’re used to create nouns out of verb stems:

  • People: wu
  • Animals: lu
  • Plants: ò
  • Heavenly objects, weather: é
  • Body parts: neu
  • Human-made objects (tools): mùng
  • Vehicles, methods of transport: ngèù
  • Human-made inanimate objects: kwí
  • Naturally-occurring inanimate objects: ye
  • Abstract inanimate concepts: dzé

Let’s look at the name of the language, Fèdzéyí:

  • = verb, to enclose/encircle
  • dzé = noun class, an abstract inanimate concept
  • = noun, a language

+dzé creates the noun “circle”. is one of the few nouns that isn’t based on a verb, and means “language”.

(Since there’s a word for “encircle”, I decided to create verbs for other shapes – en-rectangle, en-triangle (èn), en-square, en-parallelogram – because why not?)

Let’s look at a couple more nouns I’ve created:

  • do “to gift ” + kwí “human-made inanimate object” = dokwí “a gift”
  • fo “to swim”+ vàng “to be scaly”  + lu “animal” = fovànglu “fish”
  • mi “to meow + lu “animal” = milu “cat”
  • “to count” + dzé “abstract concept” = nèdzé “number”
  • ngí  to fly” + ngèù “vehicle” = ngíngèù “airplane”
  • shé “to flow” + é “heavenly object” = shéé “water”
  • tsà “to know” + dzé “abstract concept” = tsàdzé “knowledge”

There are a couple of numbers: singular (not marked), “some” (meun), a general plural (ho), and a mass plural (kún). If an exact number is needed, you can just put a numeral in that slot instead.

There aren’t as many cases in Fèdzéyí as in some of my other conlangs, primarily because…I didn’t want to deal with very many. That’s the whole reason.

Fèdzéyí cases:

  • Nominative: unmarked
  • Genitive: ú
  • Accusative: shí
  • Dative:
  • Instrumental: yún
  • Locative: vi
  • Adessive: ní
  • Inessive: dzu

Like adverbs, adjectives are verb stems that are used to modify the noun.

Sentence Structure

Naturally, word order is Verb-Subject-Object. Due to the number of cases, it can actually be more flexible than that, but there’s really no reason to use anything other than VSO.

If the sentence is a question, then the question word comes at the beginning of the sentence. Question words are:

  • dèn – when, at what time
  • eng – who, what person
  • – what
  • gè nèdzé – how many
  • – why
  • úng – where, at what place
  • yu – a generic question word that’s used when none of the others apply

Following are examples of each question word:

Dèn lódzodzí waho?

  • When do we leave?

Eng tú?

  • Who is that?

Eng ténkeunda milushí?

  • Who owns the cat?

Gè tú?

  • What is that?

Gè nèdzé zhekeunda ingho wínkwídzu?

  • How many people are in the house?

Kí éngdzekeunda ngóho?

  • Why aren’t you sleeping?

Úng zhekeunda ngó?

  • Where are you?

Yu túlu milushí?

  • Is that (animal) a cat?