Mantiri was an early dragon herder language, part of the northern branch of the Makuran language family. It is sparsely attested and is incompletely documented and interpreted. It was written in an early syllabic script and, as such, its phonological and phonetic makeup are hard to determine.
It was most likely a fusional language, with a moderately low amount of morphemes per word. It exists in a fragmentary shape, with many incomplete texts, of which a majority is poorly understood and not easy to decode. A few bi- or trilingual annotated texts do exist, giving a guideline for linguistic analysis.
As not a lot of its phonology can with certainty be reconstructed, Mantiri is fairly poorly understood. It is generally regarded to have merged its voiced series with its voiceless at some point during its development, as no early document preserves any sort of native voiced plosive despite borrowing several terms that did include such a phoneme feature.
Its phonemic consonant inventory is generally regarded to have included at least:
/p (b) t (d) k (g) q/
/s ṣ h ẖ/
/m n ŋ ɴ/
/w r l j/
As the syllabary offers no way of distinguishing retroflexes from alveolars, it is assumed that they were no longer contrastive by the time Mantiri was written. As such, the phoneme /ṣ/ is generally believed to have shifted to somewhere near [ʃ~ɕ] beforehand. The phonemes /h ẖ/ seem to have been uvulovelar and glottal, respectively, though it isn't certain; /ẖ/ often reflects Proto-Makuran /*ħ/ or several other consonants; it might have had more than one realisation.
The vowel system of Mantiri is likewise improperly described: it often leaves out vowel length in unpredictable and often inconsistent ways, and sometimes features quality shifts that vaguely seem to be indicative of an underspecifying orthography.
Its phonemic vowel inventory is generally regarded to have included at least:
/i (ë) u/
/e ë o/
All vowels seem to've had contrastive vowel length. Aside from the seven certain vowels — as indicated by the orthography — the language is assumed to have had at least eight vowels: this is said to be so because several words normatively containing /ë/ may inconsistently be written with an /i/ or /e/, while others would always consistently have /ë/. This seems to occur in places where Proto-Makuran most commonly had one of /*ⱶ *o *ɘ/.
Mantiri has all the characteristics of a fusional language: it had a low amount of fusional, conflating morphemes, supported by a sturdy derivational system. It seems to have had a fairly simple nominal inflection system, without prominent noun classes:
Collectives are marked with a derivational suffix, most commonly <-ël>, after which the case ending may normally be attached.
Verbs seem to have maintained a decent amount of contrasts:
The subjunctive might've been used to express possibility and uncertainty, though it's not quite certain.
- kittạtë [??]
- pẹ̈̄rë [*(pë-)ƿⱶhər-ɛ > *pɘ̣̄r-ɛ > pẹ̈̄rë]
- rạ̄rë [*(pë-)ṛɑhər-ɛ > *pṛɑ̣̄rɛ > rạ̄rë]
- tạ̄wë [*ḍɑƿⱶ-wɛ > *ḍɑ̄-wɛ > tāwë]
- tongue (ogran); language
- tạlë [*t-alɛ-k ~> *tal-ɛ]
- hand, arm, wrist?
- tëkẹ̈ [*ta-kə̣-(k) > të-kẹ̈]
- trn. read, understand, comprehend
- tëkẹ̈sa [të-kẹ̈-sa]
- itr. be readable, be legible, be comprehensible
- tạ̄rë [*ḍɑ̣ƿⱶ-r-ɛ > *ḍɑ̣̄r-ɛ]
- wë- [??]
- a prefix classified only as ΩX-
- ụsuẖ [*usυḡ & *usυrə]
- nail, claw
- ẹkka [*elgωs]
- radial bone, radius; outer forearm
- ẹ̈lɛ ~ ịlɛ [*olɛk]
- ẖu [*(ƿⱶ)ħ-u?]
- so that, so as to, thus, so.that
- Treatise on tongues, a fragment (1)
- ... (ta)-a-wë-ta-a-wë-wë-[...]-ku-së-kë-sa-pa-ka-næ-vë-ë-pæ-i-rë-sa-të-ẖu ...
- ... tāwë tāwwës [...] kusël kësapaẖ ka nɛvë ëpɛ irësatë ẖu ...
- ... tāw-ë tāw-Qës [...] kusël kësa-paẖ ka nɛvë ëpɛ irë-sa-t-ë ẖu ...
- ... language-nom.sg language-dat.pl 3sg.nom read-able-3sg.pas but not there.is-3sg understand-nls-nom.sg so.that ...
- ... a language can be read by (other?) languages, but isn't comprehensible, so that ...
- Treatise on tongues, a fragment (2)
- ... pë-ë-ri-ta-ra-a-ri-ku-së-qi-mi-[... ... ...]-ta-ja-së-(pæ?) ...
- ... pë̄ri ta rāri kusë qimi [...] tajas ë(pɛ?) ...
- ... pë̄r-i ta rār-i kusë qim-i [...] tajas ë(pɛ?) ...
- ... father-dat.sg and mother-dat.sg 3pl.dat child-dat.sg [...] before not ...
- ... to a mother and a father their child's (... ... ...) before not (??) ...
- Treatise on tongues, a fragment (3)
- ... -ta-pæ-ta-lë-ta-ki-ta-ta-të-wë-ta-a-ri-wë- ...
- ... ta pɛtalë ta kittatë wëtāri wë-... ( ... ta kita ta tëwë tāri ...?)
- ... ta pɛ-tal-ë ta kittat-ë wë-tār-i wë- ...
- ... and kin?-hand-nom.sg and ???-nom.sg ΩX-cheek-DAT.SG ΩX- ...
- Fragmentary graffito (1)
- ... -ka-wæ-na-da-ṣi-lo- (...)
- ... -kawɛ Nadaṣi lo- ...