Grouplang 2011-2012

1. Introduction

At the beginning of the first semester school year in the year 2011, two nerds at Vandegrift High School were talking. They shared a love of languages and a desire to create them, but sadly, this activity was normally done in solitude and would rarely be shared with others. So they hatched a plan: they’d create a club for those people who want to make languages, and learn about others. It would be a forum for linguistically-inclined nerds to talk about their languages, argue about grammar, and work together to build a great language.

Thus the Vandegrift Language Creation Society was born, and with it the club’s first “group-lang.” It’s going to be a year-long project, and we might even continue it after the school year ends.

2. Phonology

     2.1. Consonants

The consonants are as follows:

Labials Alveolars Palatals Velars
Stops p b t d c k g
Nasals m n ɲ ŋ
Trills r
Fricatives ɸ v s ɕ ʑ x
Lateral fricatives ɬ
Approximants ɹ l j

The most unusual thing to note about this phonology is the palatal series, which are rare cross-linguistically. Also, the consonants /r/ and /l/ can besyllabic, functioning as a vowel.

Also, note that /j/ in the IPA is pronounced like a “y” in English, the “x” like the ch in German, and the /r/ is trilled while the /ɹ/ is an English r-sound.

     2.2. Vowels

The vowels are these:

Front Central Back
High i i: u u:
Low a a:

2.3. Allophony

  • Voiced obstruents (/b/, /d/, /g/, /v/, /ʑ/) devoice at the end of a word (become /p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /ɕ/ respectively).
  • Any nasal sound (/m/, /n/, /ɲ/, /ŋ/) changes to match the following consonant (becomes /m/ before /b, p, ɸ/, /n/ before /t, d, s/, etc.)
  • Whenever /s/ or /z/ occurs before /ɕ/ or /ʑ/, it transforms to match.
  • Voiceless sounds voice between vowels (/ka/+/pa/=[kaba], for example)
  • ^ Except when two voiceless sounds come together between vowels, they are still voiceless (ie, /kap/+/pa/=/kappa/)
  • When a voiceless and a voiced sound come together in any order, the first of the cluster determines the overall voicing (ie, /sab/+/sa/=[sabza], etc.)
  • “Geminate” consonants are both pronounced (so /penni/ is pronounced [], like “pen knee”, not “penny”)
  • A short vowel becomes long when it receives stress.
  • /i/ is realized as /ɛ/ in front of a palatal or a velar, and as /ɛ̃/ in front of a palatal or velar nasal.
  • /i:/ is realized as /ɛ:/ in front of a palatal or a velar, and as /ɛ̃/ in front of a palatal or velar nasal.
  • /u/ is realized as /ɔ/ in front of a palatal or a velar, and as /ɔ̃/ in front of a palatal or velar nasal.
  • /u:/ is realized as /ɔ:/ in front of a palatal or a velar, and as /ɔ̃/ in front of a palatal or velar nasal.
  • /a/ and /a:/ do not change.

2.4. Syllable structure

The syllable structure is (C)V(C), which means that each syllable must contain a vowel, and can optionally contain: 1) a single consonant at the beginning, 2) a single consonant sound at the end of the syllable, or 4) any combination thereof. This is more restrictive than English, so a word such as strengths could never exist in this language.

2.5. Romanization

  • First off, the sounds /p, b, t, d, c, k, g, m, n, ŋ, v, s, l/ don’t change in the Romanization.
  • The sound /ɲ/ is written as “nh”, the sound /ɸ/ as “ph”, the sound /ɕ/ as “x”, the sound /ʑ/ as “zh”, the sound /x/ as “kh”, the sound /ɬ/ as “lh”, the sound /j/ as “j”, and the sound /ɹ/ as “rh”.
  • Long vowels can be represented with a macron (ī, ā, ū) or as a doubling of the letter (ii, aa, uu). The macron is preferred.

3. Nouns

Nouns are fairly simple, and are almost entirely regular. There are 4 numbers and 2 genders, which are indicated by stacking on agglutinating suffixes to the root. There are some words that exist in both genders, and some which only exist in one or the other. Nouns don’t inflect for case or for anything else other than number and gender.

    3.1. Gender/Noun class

There are two “genders”/noun cases: living and non-living. Nouns of the living class are those things that are alive, including animals, humans, plants, and very rarely some inanimate objects that are made in the likeness of living things. Nouns of the non-living class are everything else. Because of this, a majority of nouns are of the non-living class. The living class is indicated by the suffix , and the non-living class by the suffix -i. An example:

Root word Pronounciation Living class Meaning Non-living class Meaning
Saŋ- /saŋ/ Saŋā (a) fortune-teller Saŋi (a) possibility
Jānatān- /ja:nata:n/ Jānatānā (a) person who eats walnuts very quickly N/A N/A
Kux- /kuɕ/ kuxā a well-read person Kuxi (a) book

3.2. Number

There are four numbers: single, plural, “a little”, and “a lot”.  Single is used for one of something, and is not further marked. The plural is used for more than one of something, and is marked with the suffix –m attached at the end of the noun. The “a little” number is used to refer to small group of something in a way that emphasizes that it is small; it is marked with the suffix -tī. The “a lot” number is used to indicate a large group of things; it is marked with the suffix -lhu. An example:

  • Kuxi- (a) book
  • Kuxim- books
  • Kuxitī- a few books
  • Kuxilhu- a lot of books

     3.3. Articles

There are no articles. Definiteness is inferred from context.

4. Adjectives

Adjectives follow the same rules as nouns, and must match in number and form; eg. kaxilhu mūnkilhu (“a lot of big books”), or xazām dārām (“long fish”).

5. Verbs

Verbs are the most grammatically complex part of this language. They conjugate for an unusually large amount of information, and tend to be very long. Because of this, there is a verbal rule that must be learnt before the verbs themselves are.

     5.1. The Drop Rule

The “drop rule” states that, after the initial verb in a conversation is used, all conjugations that do not change in the next verb can be dropped. If all conjugations would be dropped, the stem alone is used. For instance, if a conversation begins with the verb palurhanxiagā, meaning “I was running,” and the next verb then became “I was walking,” then only the stem of the verb “to walk” would be used; so one would say māsu instead of māsurhanxiagā.

     5.2. How Conjugation Works

Verbs are indicated by the ending -un, and the “n” is dropped when the verb is conjugated. All conjugations are suffixes, and attach directly onto the end -u.

    5.3. Time Indicators

There are five tenses conjugated for: far past, past, present, future, and far future.

The far past is used for events that took place long ago; for instance, historical events or myths. It is indicated by the suffix -rhūn-

The past is used for events that took place relatively recently. It is indicated by the suffix -rhan-

The present is used for things that are happening currently. It is indicated by the suffix -ya-

The future is used for things that will happen soon. It is indicated by the suffix -ku-

The far future is used for things that will happen in the far future; it is the most rarely used. It is indicated by the suffix -kalī-

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