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Meljanese

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Name: Meljanese

Type: Mixed

Alignment: Accusative

Head Direction: First

Number of genders: 4

Declensions: No

Conjugations: Yes

Nouns declined
according to
Case Number
Definitiveness Gender
Verbs conjugated
according to
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect


Meljanese is the language of the sharnakh realm of Meljan. It belongs to the Belanic family. Originally a human language spoken by the human Yanikva tribe, it has been fostered by the sharnakhs as the universal language for their slaves. Now it has been influenced by this role, for example a special avoidance register evolved, used to adress the masters. Sometimes Meljanese is even used by the sharnakhs among themselves.

There are multiple dialects, the language discussed here is that of the Jalîši valley in southern Meljan.

Although irrelevant to the language itself, it is worth noticing that the Meljanese believe in the religion of the sharnakhs, believed by other peoples of 61 Virginis to be demon worship. According to this faith, there are three levels of reality, each having its own pantheon:

  • drag töleli - spirit world (accessible in dreams)
  • drag zruta - physical reality (literally, world of body/life)
  • drag mźasuli - paradise of the sharnakhs, where humans are allowed as a reward for being good servants

Etymology: The native name is ika-Melźań, where ika means 'mouth' or, figuratively, 'language' and Melźań (anglicized as Meljan) is literally, 'Land of the Banner'

PhonologyEdit

ConsonantsEdit

Labial Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar
Plosive voiceless p [p] t [t] c [c] k [k]
voiced b[b] d [d] j [ɟ] g [g]
Fricative voiceless f [f] s [s] š [ʂ] ś [ɕ]
voiced v [v] z [z] ž [ʐ] ź [ʑ]
Nasal m [m] n [n] ń [ɲ]
Liquid l [l]
Glide r [ɻ] y [j]

/c ɟ ɲ/ are true palatals, but /ɕ ʑ/ are palato-alveolars.

Some consonants are subjects to allophonic variation:

  • /t d n/ become retroflex [ʈ ɖ ɳ] when adjacent to a retroflex consonant. In rapid speech /tɻ dɻ/ can become [tʂ dʐ]: trava '2' [tʂava] ~ ʈɻava]
  • /l/ is velarized in syllables containing back or central vowels: splît 'night' [spɫɨt]
  • /v/ becomes [ʋ] after an obstruent belonging to the same syllable: jatvol 'human' [ɟatʋɔɫ]
  • voiced obstruents are devoiced in coda: drag 'world' [ɖɻak]

VowelsEdit

Front Central Back
unrounded rounded
i [i] ü [y] î [ɨ ~ ǝ] u
e [ɛ] ö [ɶ] a [ä] o [ɔ]

/a o u/ are fronted between palatal consonants to [æ ø y], which is not indicated (So umlauts are not used in such conditions.)

/ɛ ɶ/ are raised to [e ø] in vicinity of palatal consonants.

[ɨ] and [ǝ] are in free variation. However, [ǝ] is disallowed before l r m n ń.

Stress and phonotacticsEdit

Meljanese is quite permissive for consonant clusters, cf. gma 'hole', mźana 'bad luck', fsko '8' or pazg 'west'. Obstruents in a clusters generally agree in voicing, except of /v/ which often occurs after voiceless stops.

Some combinations of consonants and vowels are banned. In particular, /i/ and /y/ cannot occur after a dental or retroflex sounds. This allows one to write si zi ni sü zü nü for śi źi ńi śü źü ńü and ši ži for šî žî, avoiding a jungle of diacritics.

Stress always falls on the first syllable.

MorphologyEdit

Meljanese is a language utilizing fusional, agglutinating and analytic elements.

NounEdit

Meljanese nouns belong to one of four natural genders: masculine, feminine, inanimate and abstract. The abstract gender pertains to nouns like śuśnut 'love', as well to spiritual entities.

Unlike in many languages with gender, mixed groups are treated as feminine. Therefore, Meljanese can differentiate between Yakikva 'the Yanikva people', Yaniktve 'the Yanikva men' and Yanikuva 'the Yanikva women'

Plural is formed by adding a gender-specific ending:

  • -kre (-tre after a velar) for masculine nouns: pketo 'man' → pketokre 'men', Yanik → Yaniktre
  • -va for feminine: śva 'woman' → śvava 'women'
  • -tîl for inanimate: drag 'world' → dragtîl 'worlds'
  • -li for abstract: töle 'spirit' → töleli 'spirits'

Some nouns have peculiar plurals, like jek 'child', jav 'children'.

Meljanese nouns can be definite and indefinite. The definite is formed by:

  • adding -ok or -ek after a consonant: glit-ek 'the girl', kaś-ok 'the land'
  • adding -k and replicating the final vowel: śva-ka 'the woman', romo-ko 'the bone'
  • adding -k after a plural ending: romotîl-k 'the bones', jav-k 'the children'

When there is already a velar in the word, k is replaced by t: dragot 'the world', pketokret 'the men'

Some nouns lose a vowel when a suffix is added:

  • naraž 'wolf' → naržok 'the wolf'
  • oron 'leader'[1] → ornok 'the leader'

Genitive is formed by juxtaposing the nouns: romoli pketo 'the man's bones'. This is true even with respect to pronouns: skorak kve 'your leg'. The possessed nouns are never definite. Other cases are expressed by means of prepositions.

A clitic -s (-es, -os after a consonant) is the equivalent of "and": dîla-s tagva 'water and fire', glit-es proka 'a girl and a boy', braź-os kmešutîl 'grass and trees'.

VerbsEdit

Verbs are conjugated for tense, evidentiality and the speaker's emotional attitude. There is no morphological distinction between verbs and adjectives.

There are two tenses, called past and non-past. The quotation form is the non-past. The past is formed by a process known as the Belanic ablaut. The vowel is lowered and replicated at the end:

  • pmiń 'welcome' → pmeńe 'welcomed'
  • śnut 'loves' → śnoto 'loved'
  • cîm 'drinks' → cama 'drunk'

Unfortunately, many verbs are irregular and require learning the past form by heart.

The infinitive is formed by adding -ta or -te to the past form: pmeńete 'to welcome', śnotota 'to love', camata 'to drink'.

HortativesEdit

They are formed by adding suffixes to the past root:

-ey for imperative: pmeńey, śnotey, camey (used chiefly by sharnakhs when speaking to their slaves)
-eni for adhortative: pmeńeni, śnoteni, cameni (used to encourage or urge to do something)
-ado for dehortative: pmeńado, śnotado, camado (used to encourage or urge not to do something)

EvidentialityEdit

All verbs have obligatory evidential marking:

  • zero ending - certain, because seen or done by the speaker
  • -so - heard from a reliable source
  • -(y)e - heard from an unreliable source or inferred
  • -fon - imagined (sometimes used as a future marker, but not when talking about what will certainly happen)

Compare:

Jemlegot škana Tkir 'The sharnakh ate Tkir' (the speaker saw it)
Jemlegot škanaso Tkir (the speaker heard it from a trustworthy person)
Jemlegot škanaye Tkir (the speaker suspects it)
Jemlegot škanafon Tkir (Tkir is alive, but the sharnakh said he looks tasty)

Emotional endingsEdit

There are two of them: negative -pîr and positive -ńa. Compare:

  • Tkir dlata mlevek 'Tkir kicked the bucket' (neutral attitude)
  • Tkir dlatapîr mlevek 'Tkir kicked the bucket' (and the speaker is angry)
  • Tkir dlatańa mlevek 'Tkir kicked the bucket' (and the speaker is pleased)

These morphemes can be added to nouns as well, replacing regular definite endings: śvapîr 'despised woman', javńa 'beloved children'. There is strong evidence that the idea of expressing emotions during grammatical endings has been borrowed from a sharnakh language.

Adjectival formsEdit

They are formed by adding prefixes (or, in feminine nouns, a circumfix) to the past form:

  • prül 'to escape', in adjectival meaning 'free', 'one that has escaped', 'śvit' 'to be beautiful'
    • masculine: a-pröl, a-svet
    • feminine: a-pröl-u, a-svet-u
    • inanimate: ś-pröl, si-svet (epenthetic i is added before a sibilant)
    • abstract: mu-pröl, mu-svet

The adjectival forms receive plural endings: pketokre acamkre 'drinking men'.

Normally, they are neutral with respect to voice: dîla ścam means 'drinkable water', but pketo acam is 'drinking man'. Usually inanimate nouns are considered to be patients, while all others are default agents. Wherever it is necessary to make an animate noun patient, the adjectival form with prefix yar- is used regardless of gender:

  • lîk 'choose'
    • pketo yarlîk 'chosen man'
    • śva yarlîk 'chosen woman'

PronounsEdit

The system of pronouns is complex, featuring not only person and gender, but also emotional value of the referent.

Number Person and gender Value
neutral positive negative
singular 1.
ńo
2. masculine tar kvar šral
feminine ce kve šre
3. masculine žna sva güla
feminine žnu su gülu
abstract žnal sval gülal
inanimate žne śve güle
plural 1.
ya
2. med ek śed
3. animate žnay svay güla
inamimate žney śvey güley

NumeralsEdit

Meljanese uses a tetradecimal system, resulting from a habit of counting on the phalanges or digital bones of one hand. The Meljanese claim that this system was taught to them by the sharnakhs, but some Belanic languages use base-28, using two hands.

  1. ke
  2. trava
  3. kül
  4. skop
  5. mra
  6. śpet
  7. štece
  8. fsko
  9. jmi
  10. or
  11. ast
  12. ento
  13. glovo
  14. prîń
28. nagak
42. külprîń
56. skoprîń
70. mraplîń
84. śpetrîń
98. šteceprîń
112. fskoprîń
126. jmiprîń
140. olprîń
154. asprîń
168. entoprîń
182. (mńol)tveprîń
196. mńol

Other numbers are read from the lowest powers of fourteen, e.g. mra-s külprîń-os ormńol '2007' - (10)35 in base-14.

After a numeral, nouns are used in the singular: prîń cikro 'fourteen spiders'.

Derivational morphologyEdit

Meljanese is notable for its heavy reliance on prefixes:

  • a- to form nouns from PPs:
    • ksud noź 'without head' → aksudnoź 'headless corpse'
  • pa- to show completeness of action:
    • kvîd 'to fall' → pakvîd 'to hit the ground'
  • je- or ja- with past root form names of animates by their habitual actions
    • tul 'to work' → jatvol 'human' (considered worker by the sharnakhs)
  • šu- for members of collectives or inhabitants of places:
    • braźla 'steppe' → šubraźla 'nomad'
    • źań 'banner' → šuźań 'Meljanese'
  • sok- for tools:
    • fîr 'to cut' → sokfar 'knife'

However, suffixes are by no means absent:

  • -ak with non-past root for actions:
    • kvîd 'to fall' → kvîdak 'fall'
  • -la for places:
    • braź 'grass' → braźla 'steppe'
  • -u for feminines:
    • šuźań 'Meljanese man' → šuźańu 'Meljanese woman
  • -(v)oc for deminutives:
    • noź 'head' → noźoc 'little head'
  • -ro for periods of time:
    • mliv 'to rain' → mlevro 'spring'
    • nüst 'to be young' → nüstro 'youth'

Partial reduplication of the non-past root forms abstract noun:

  • śnut 'to love' → śuśnut 'love'
  • rîd 'to know' → rîrîd 'knowledge'

Full reduplication with change of initial consonant(s) to has a deprecative meaning:

  • ženel 'friend' → ženel-mźenel

If the initial cluster is , another cluster (though one containing a palatal consonant) appears in the reduplicated word:

  • mźasu 'soul' → mźasu-gńasu

SyntaxEdit

The word order is SVO. All adverbials are placed at the end of a sentence:

  • Jemlegva cîm dîla pe splît. 'Sharnakhs drink water at night'

Adjectives follow nouns: glit asvetu 'a beautiful girl'.

The subject has to be expressed using separate words since there are no personal endings; the only pronoun that can be omitted is ńo 'I':

  • (Ńo) gîk kvar '(I) see you'

There is no morphological passive, but the indefinite subject ape may be employed:

  • Śva cama dîlaka 'A woman drunk the water'
  • Ape cama dîlaka 'Someone drunk the water', sc. 'Water has been drunk'

Similarly, to express reflexive or reciprocal voice, the particle nray is used as an object:

  • Ya gako nray 'We see ourselves' / 'We see each other'

Negation is expressed using an auxiliary verb, fin. With auxiliary verbs, the main one is put in the infinitive:

  • Prokata fin pozota 'The boy is not healthy'
  • Glitek fena pozota 'The girl was not healthy'
  1. a Meljanese oron combines functions of sharnakh representative and priest

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