Øynduyska – V (Various noun phrase things)

The continuing adventures of Øynduyska.


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Øynduyska – IV (Nouns)

The continuing adventures of Øynduyska. Comments welcome!


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Øynduyska – III (Phonology/Orthography 2)

The continuing adventures of Øynduyska. Rounding off phonology/orthography. Comments welcome!

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Øynduyska – II (Phonology/Orthography 1)

The continuing adventures of  Øynduyska. As always, feedback welcome!


Fonologi ay Ortografi


  Stops Affricates Fricatives Approximants Taps Nasals
Bilabial /p/ p

/b/ b

        /m/ m
Labiodental     /f/ f fh

/v/ v bh f

Dental     /þ/ th t

/ð/ ð d

Alveolar /t/ t

/d/ d

  /s/ s

/z/ s

/l/ l /ɹ/ r /n/ n
Anterior Post-Alveolar   /tɕ/ tch /ʃ/ sh s
/ʒ/ s
Posterior Post-Alveolar     /ɕ/ kj      
Palatal       /j/ y j    
Velar /k/ c k

/g/ g

  /x/ ch /w/ w    
Glottal     /h/ h      


The consonant inventory is largely unremarkable and self-explanatory, although it is worth noting that the labiodental fricatives often pronounced as labial fricatives when adjacent to rounded vowels. The most unusual phonemes are those listed here as “dental fricatives”, which may vary between interdental fricatives and dental stops – in general, they are fricatives intervocalically, post-nasally and finally, but they are often stops initially or following another consonant. The stop realisation is particularly common for the voiceless phoneme.

Regarding the orthography, there are a number of ambiguities; in particular, the grapheme s may stand for any of four fricatives: while generally indicating an alveolar, it indicates a postalveolar following u, w, eo, io, or sometimes (but not always) following ø, y or a; it indicates a voiced fricative when initial, when intervocalic, or when following a nasal, or when preceding a voiced consonant, but otherwise indicates a voiceless consonant. The voiced and voiceless alveolar fricatives are not otherwise distinguished in writing, though the distinction is only very rarely distinctive. The same is true of the postalveolar, except that the voiceless postalveolar may also be indicated by means of the digraph sh. So:

sitta /zɪtə/ “to sit”
gressa /gresə/ “to eat lightly; to graze”
más /mas/ “moss”
huss /hʊʃ/ “house”
fleos /fleʃ/ “fleece; rind; mould”
yøsa /jøːʒə/ “to vomit”
másh /maʃ/ “clapshot; colcannon”
shanka /ʃæŋkə/ “leg”


The “dental fricatives” may be indicated by th and ð, but may also be indicated simply by t and d when preceding a u, w, y, o or ó, or when morpheme-final following the same letters – or, sometimes but not always, following a, ø or y. Thus:

cweða /kweːðə/ “to declare”
beseod ech /bəzeɞð ex/ “I boil (sth.)”
bątha /bɑːþə/ “to beat”
besleot ech /bəzleɞþ ex/ “I close (sth.)”
duylom /ðʊɪlɞm/ “creator”


The velar stop /k/ may be indicated with either c or k; c is found as the first element of clusters within a root, and, within a morpheme, before any vowels other than i, í, or e; k is found morpheme-finally, as the final element of clusters, and before the vowels i, í and e. So:

cweða /kweːðə/ “to declare”
cnafa /knæːvə/ “child; boy; youth”
cutta /kʊtə/ “bodice; jacket”
kerm /kɛrəm/ “wail; shriek; lament”
yðank /ɪðænk/ “thought”
busk /bʊʃk/ “bush”


Regarding the labiodentals: in initial or final position, or adjacent to a voiceless stop or a fricative, f generally indicates /f/, but in intervocalic position f indicates /v/. Morpheme-final /v/ is typically shown by bh, while initial /v/ is shown by v; v is also found in many loanwords. Intervocalic /f/ may be shown by vh. Thus:

foto /foːtoː/ “photograph”
far? /fær/ “where?”
hröf /hrəf/ “stomach; fortitude”
vilsfin /vɪlsfɪn/ “wild boar”
wǫlf /wʌlf/ “wolf”
wylfer /wylvər/ “wolves”
cnafa /knæːvə/ “child; boy; youth”
cøbh /kev/ “jaw”
cøbhs /køːvz/ “of the jaw”
advocat /ædvɞkət/ “attorney”
sevha /seːfa/ “to see”


The palatal glide /j/ is shown with y when morpheme-initial or following a vowel, but with j when following a consonant within a morpheme. So:

yøsa /jøːʒə/ “to vomit”
bjóding /bjɔːðəŋg/ “social invitation”


A further complication of orthography is the practice of writing orthographic ‘geminates’ to indicate preceding short vowels. Sometimes, the ‘geminate’ is not merely a duplication of the letter or grapheme. In any case, other than across morpheme boundaries in compounds, ‘geminates’ do not indicate a phonetic doubling of the consonant, but merely a change in the preceding vowel.

The fricative geminates ff and ss only ever indicate voiceles consonants; voiced /v/ may be written in geminate form as bhf, but there is no geminate form available for /z/. The geminate form of ð is ðh.

The geminate form of c/k is written as ck, when morpheme-internal, but as kk when the gemination results from the addition of a suffix. The geminate form of kj is kkj.

The geminate forms of th and ch are tth and cch.

The polygraphs sh and tch are regarded as automatically ‘geminate’, in the sense of shortening preceding vowels.

In this way:

máshr /maʃr/ “colcannons”
flycker /flʏkər/ “flocks; groups”
ąka /ɑːkə/ “to make bigger”
akkar /ækar/ “increaser”
mikkjel /mɪɕəl/ “big”
yøbha /yøːvə/ “to give”
yøbhfað wi /yevað wi/ “we give”


Next Up: Phonology and Orthography 2: Vowels!
Nu ta vylga: Fonologi ay Ortografi 2: Vocala

Øynduyska – I (intro/context)

It’s been a while since I’ve put up any conlanging here (I did do a huge tranche of stuff on Rawàng Ata but never got around to posting most of it). So, here, enjoy (if you can!) a brief sketch of a Germanic language from the North Atlantic. I’ll post it in sections to buoy your suspense (and because I haven’t finished it yet – still got a few more syntax sections to wade through). Any questions or comments gratefully received!

I’ll start with a brief explanation of what the language is…



Øynduyska is a minor Germanic language spoken by somewhat under 200,000 people on the Wentharian Islands (located northwest of Ireland and southwest of Iceland and the Faroes), by small numbers of expatriates around the world (with particular concentrations in the UK, US, Canada, Norway, and Argentina; there is a very small multigenerational community surviving in western Canada, while other speakers abroad are mostly first- or second-generation immigrants). There are also several tens of thousands of second-language speakers in the Islands.

Øynduyska belongs to the Northwest Germanic subfamily. Early philologists generally assumed it to be an Ingvaeonic, or even specifically Anglo-Frisian language, as it shares some prominent features with English and Frisian. However, modern linguists believe that these are parallel evolutions, probably suggesting extensive early contact and sprachbund effects; it is not even clear whether Øynduyska can accurately be called a West Germanic language, thanks to its delayed rhotacisation (a feature shared with North Germanic but not with West Germanic). However, as the language is in other regards close to West Germanic, and shares few early developments with North Germanic, the general tendency appears to be to overlook this difference and to consider it a somewhat ‘anomalous’ West Germanic language.

Considerable perplexity surrounds the early history of the language, and in particular how the language could have arrived in such a remote location. It is possible that the ancestors of the modern Øynduyar (English: ‘Onthoyers’ or ‘Wenthers’) may have participated in the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, crossed the island rapidly, and then spread to the west via the Hebrides. It seems more likely, however, that they reached their current location either following a coastal path along the east coast of Britain, and thence via the Hebrides, or else following a coastal path along the west coast of Norway, prior to Norse settlement there, and then travelling to the west via the Faroes. The latter suggestion has always been more politically popular in the Islands, but the former would seem more probable, given the shorter distances required to be travelled, and the absence of any clear connexion between the Øynduyar and the Faroes.

In any event, the Islands were subsequently subjugated under Norse (and later variously Danish and Norwegian) rule, from the 9th century through to the 20th, and this contact has had a considerable effect on the superficial appearance of the language, and a more subtle influence upon other aspects of the tongue.


In reality, of course, there is no Øynduyska, nor any Wentharian Islands (or at least, in our world there is only one such island, and it’s very, very small).

I’ve toyed on and off, over the years, with some sort of a sister or cousin to English, retaining a more archaic feel – a common enough conceit. Those ideas never really went anywhere, however, until I saw and borrowed the idea of placing some more dry land on our Rockall Plateau. What would the inhabitants of such islands speak? Well, realistically they’d speak a sister to Icelandic and to Faroese, but that didn’t interest me much, so instead… Øynduyska. Not actually a descendent of Old English, but similarities in vocabulary and (over-enthusiastic!) participation in the Ingvaeonic Nasal Spirant Law hopefully make it feel strangely familiar to English speakers. It retains some features suggestive of Old English – it has not undergone Modern English’s Great Vowel Shift, for instance, and continues to use the distinctive ‘eo’ digraph lost in Modern English – while following Modern English in some other respects (it has eliminated or reduced many of its unstressed vowels, for instance, and dramatically simplified its morphology). At the same time, for both aesthetic and historical reasons, I wanted to give the language a slightly ‘Northern’ feel, a touch of cold crispness that seemed to suit both its windswept locale and its long association with the Nordic nations. This is most obvious in the orthography, with its inclusion of such letters as ø and ð, and in a number of Norse loanwords.

Next Up: Phonology and Orthography!
Nu ta vylga: Fonologi ay Ortografi!

Rawàng Ata: a phonology sketch

I’ve been playing with Rawàng Ata – my constructed language with Austronesian inspirations – for many years now, but I don’t think I’ve ever properly sat down and described its basic phonology.

So, here’s a quick sketch: RA draft phonology sketch

(Since neither WordPress nor online forums seem great at respecting the elementary formatting necessary for this, I thought it would be easier just to make a .pdf of it)

Sorry in advance for any confusion in the document: one problem with this, as with all language, is that every part relies on every other part, so it’s never possible to lay things out in a completely logical order…

Life in the Colonies in the 26th Century: Guerra (3)

Third and final installment…

Politics and Peoples

Guerran politics have always been hard to define. The first settlers, before the Exodus, were driven by profit, and the first Colonial Constitution was highly plutocratic. During the Exodus, when the population exploded and famine stalked the land, the colony became polarised into two camps, Green and Yellow: the Greens were legitimists, who blamed the Protectorate for their hunger, sought the restoration of feudal democracy, and favoured aggregations of capital – specifically land-owners – while the Yellows were neo-MacGaskillite redistributionists. It might be thought that the Greens were solely the party of the rich, but this was not so: many poor Guerrans believed that their best chances of survival came from supporting the ruling class, who were after all the ones driving investment in the young colony, rather than from smashing up the few power structures that could deliver progress, while the more expansionist settlers feared that attacks on the property rights of Atravidian slumlords would eventually mean attacks on their own rights as free landholders in their settlements, and the rights of their children and grandchildren to eventually derive profits from the risks the settlers were taking. It was this division between Yellow and Green that lead to the establishment of Maquinna as a more egalitarian (Yellow) rival to Atravida and Descubierta.

Enthusiasm would be the death of both movements. Inspired by Leveller influences, radical Yellows launched the so-called ‘Guerran Revolution’, an eight-month political upheaval that resulted in the executions of many Greens and the assassination of many Yellows; the radical local governments the revolution produced soon, for the most part, collapsed into chaos. The movement was not entirely discredited, and moderate Yellows took care to identify themselves not with Levellers and Reds but with the Keyite forces, and even went as far as briefly claiming secession from the Protectorate as a Keyite colony; but the secessionists lacked the support of either their own public or the Keyite forces themselves, and the ‘secession’ was soon forgotten about. With the death of the elder Key and the turn of many of his followers to piracy, the Yellow cause withered, its followers being swept up by the Grecian faction within the Protectorate. The Greens for their part were decapitated (literally) as an organised party during the revolution, and gradually drifted into the anti-Grecian faction, and hence into oblivion.

Under the current Constitution, the colony is ruled by a Governing Council. This Council selects its own membership (serving terms of 5 or 10 years), except that the Chairman of the Council is directly elected by the people. This is a genuine election, one-man-one-vote (women are also allowed to vote), although the electoral system is in part indirect: the popular vote is added to regional block-voting, in which small and old regions are over-represented, in a modified majoritarian alternative vote system that seeks to prevent the unfettered dominance of the big cities. The Chairman has a casting vote in the Council and a limited veto, and also assigns portfolios and resources to Council members, but cannot directly control the Council’s composition himself. The Council however has only limited direct powers, and acts to co-ordinate between regions rather than set a single policy agenda; nonetheless, the Governing Council does appoint the Regional Councils, who are much more powerful. Regional Councils must be approved by plebiscite every decade by the populace, but the precise electoral system is left up to the region. Similarly, regions have the right to elect Chairmen of their Regional Councils; some do, some don’t, and some choose boards of chairmen or revolving chairmen – whether this selection is by election or some other method is left up to the region.

Most politics is personal on Guerra. There are few official parties, and they have little power; instead, there exist personal power structures: the last three decades have been marked by the struggle between the Ditmar faction and the Wen faction. These allegiances cut across political boundaries; in general, the Ditmar faction has the backing of the richer landowners, while the Wen faction is backed by capitalists, but these generalisations have many counterexamples, and the allegiances of the liberals, the poor, and the middle classes are unpredictable. Perhaps a better generalisation is that Wen’s faction is more associated with Maquinna and Ditmar’s faction more with Atravida. Place of origin is probably a bigger cleavage than class, in terms of politics, and the Governing Council carefully obeys an unofficial geographical formula: of the twelve senior members, two members are from Atravida, two from Maquinna, one each from Resolution and Descubierta, one from the Voyager Region, one from a smaller city (usually Challenger City), two from lesser regions on Lake Mariner (one from the north, one from the south), one from a minor region, and one from anywhere other than Maquinna or Atravida. The same formula is repeated for the 24 junior members, albeit with less rigour.

Government policy is the result of compromise between the factions, and there is little overt ideological disagreement on Guerra anymore (outside of some more countercultural groups in the big cities, particularly in Maquinna). Guerrans generally oppose large corporations, but favour small enterprise. They support land rights and oppose inheritance taxes, but they limit land acquisition and defend the rights of tenants. They favour a base level of welfare for all, and seek to support the poor who wish to better themselves, but they do so through mutual banks, and the poor must make a business case for investment in their lives. In general, Guerran politics favours individualism and individual rights, but is also suspicious of great wealth disparities and favours an economically and socially classless society. Guerrans are in general conservative in their values, and many of those values are imposed through the law, albeit on a regional level rather than colony-wide (all sorts of things are permitted in Maquinna). Guerrans ardently support the Protectorate, although there is a degree of stubbornness and skepticism whenever the Protectorate attempts to impose its will on the colony – ‘universal solutions, but through local methods’ is a common refrain.

As for internal, social divisions in Guerran society, there are relatively few. Although the colony is only a little more than a century old, the chaotic nature of its founding, with Earthicans from all regions and classes being deposited together on the planet en masse, led to rapid merging and levelling of cultures (and the Earth of the early 25th century was in any case much more culturally (and genetically) homogenous than in centuries gone by).

The language of the colony is Geriniz, an Anglic speech-form derived from Liiwefraaka. Geriniz and Liiwefraaka remain (unsurprisingly, given the recency of their separation) more or less mutually-intelligible, although recent settlers from Earth may need a little while to ‘get their ear in’. Geriniz itself consists of several dialects, with four or five recognised standard forms… these all share much in common, but also have substantial differences from one another. They are for the most part mutually intelligible.

Outside the megacities, languages other than Geriniz are relegated to the status of ‘house languages’ – languages passed from mother to child and used in family situations. House languages often have limited lexicons and show considerable syntactic influence from Geriniz. Speaking a house language outside the house, other than with close friends, is frowned upon – it is seen as exclusionary, elitist, or sectarian. In the megacities, however, the combination of larger populations and a constant influx of immigrants has enabled the survival of pockets of language-users – dozens, if not hundreds of language have their own little urban communities. However, almost all citizens speak Geriniz, and for most it is their first language.

Regarding faith and life-stance, most Guerrans are ardently panhumanist; many households hold icons of the Eternal Protectors, and of Protector Demmings. Religion is treated with suspicion, as a sectarian force; in particular, the once-sizeable Cathodox population has dwindled away almost entirely in the wake of the Electoral Crisis, though a rump schismatic pro-panhumanist ‘Independent Patriarchate’ still remains. Cultivation is considered the superfluous time-wasting of decadent societies, a vain attempt to fill the psychological void arising from the absence of traditional families, strong communities, a sense of duty and a healthy connection to the soil. Mysticism, however, is commonplace, particularly of a monotheistic, devotional kind. Most Guerrans are not fully convinced of the efficacy of faith, and have litle interest in theological niceties, but devotional practices, particularly prayer and the veneration of icons, are widespread, with saints, gods, orishas and so forth all sharing attention in a syncretistic folk practice. Of particular significance is the native religion of Consuelism, an offshoot of Erengism (itself a new religion of the Early Contemporary era, an austere prophetic and restorationist Christian faith with a high degree of syncretism with Islamic practices) centred around the Messianic and faith-healing claims of a certain Sister Consuelo, who proclaimed herself the appointed saviour of the planet. Consuelism now considers itself the largest religion on Guerra, but in practice most adherents merely treat it as part of the general syncretistic folk devotional practice; its particularism (Consuelo is seen as the saviour for all people on Guerra, but for nobody on any other planet – each planet has its own saviour, appropriate to the particular nature of that world) and its relative lack of any religious obligations or complex theology beyond devotion to Sister Consuelo and general pleasantness to everybody else, make it an appealing faith.

The icons of Protectors, Admirals, and domestic politicians are also commonly used in devotions, although this practice is officially considered superstitious.

Among non-theistic ideologies, Multiplicity is seen as decadent nonsense, Democracy is seen as oppressive and corrupt, and Transhumanism is considered a gross perversion and treason against all mankind. Transhumanist groups do survive in the big cities, particularly in Maquinna, but they are both socially and legally persecuted. Guerrans do have considerable time for Ecologist views, and for the general principles of Grounded Semantics, but few follow any organised ideological groups to that effect.

There are robust populations of many Plain Folk groups, though they are less numerous than on Earth. Most common are the native Guerran Plain Folk groups; these are farming-based communities with strict ‘ordnungs’ but often widespread use of technology where it does not lead to avoiding hard work or to inegalitarianism. Guerran Plain Folk have most in common with Old Order plains, though the historical link is through inspiration and parallel evolution rather than linneage. Guerran Plain Folk are typically non-religious, though some groups venerate their ordnung.



The World within the World

Guerra is an important colony world, in terms of population. However, it has little economic significance. It does engage in mining and industry, and does export its goods to Earth and elsewhere, but it is not a productive powerhouse like Herjolfsson, Nikitin or Battuta, or even like Degama. Likewise, it does accept a steady stream of colonists – but not that many, nor are they the highest-paying. Guerra is generally seen as a perfectly nice place, safe and dull, with a culture that is distinctive but not too distinctive. Guerra is respectable, and quaint. Guerrans are viewed (as a generalisation) as solid, reliable, and obsessed with farming – but the passionate homesteaders for the most part would rather head to Degama. Guerrans are disproportionately represented in the Fleet, but are less common in the officer corps – it is not in the Guerran mentality to seek to become an officer. The Protectorate sees Guerra as a loyal, untroublesome, but sometimes pig-headed, colony world. The most famous historical Guerran in the Fleet was Grand Admiral Diceman, a sturdy and reliable leader who served as a Marshal on the front line in the Fourth War; a few decades ago, Grand Admiral Ditmar served as Director of Logistics, and was a member of the Central Committee, but his parents had left Guerra for Zheng before he was born. The senior Guerran in the Fleet today is Admiral Longwalker, currently serving as a Tribunal Conductor for the Justice Division.

Guerrans, for their part, are generally welcoming toward newcomers from Earth, but are somewhat xenophobic toward the other colonies. Most are seen as too strange, too pretentious, too divorced from the reality of the soil. In some ways their closest allies should be the Degamans – both are Exodus worlds, both have strong agricultural traditions but also large and vibrant cities. In reality, however, there is considerable tension between the two groups. Guerrans view Degama as the privileged child of the Exodus, receiving resources that could have saved lives on Guerra; furthermore, they view Degamans as individualists lacking community spirit – their farmers, say Guerrans, are more interested in escaping society than in building new communities, and their urbanites are content to ape Earth fashions and divorce themselves from their hinterlands. Guerra, by contrast, may on the surface have a strong divide between the cosmopolitan megacities and the conservative countryside, but in reality there are deep ties between the two, and even Guerran megaurbanites, no matter how countercultural, see themselves as distinctively Guerran, in a way that perhaps is not paralleled in Degaman megacities.

Guerrans are, however, not entirely alone in their own stellar system. The briney planet of Malaspina shares the same star, and many colonists there originate from Guerra. The closeness of the two worlds and their shared history make visits from one to the other relatively affordable; however, in practice the contact between the two planets is minimal. Guerrans are of the (quite understandable) opinion that nobody in their right mind would ever want to visit Malaspina, which they consider to have only been given the prestige of ‘Colony World’ through an accidental coincidence of physics and onomastics. Most Guerrans consequently forget about the place altogether. Malaspinans do visit Guerra from time to time (it must be nice to be anywhere that isn’t Malaspina), but for the most part consider Guerrans dull, lazy, conventional, disorganised, and offensively arrogant. Malaspinans are mistrusted on Guerra – they are considered perverted and louche, yet at the same time regimented, conspiratorial and illiberal. In the megacities (the only places Malaspinans are ever likely to be encountered), the more credulous and bitter Guerrans trade in rumours of Malaspinan machinations against Guerra, attempts to seize power on Guerra surreptitiously, by corrupting key political figures. Why the inhabitants of Malaspina might want to do this, beyond their inherent viciousness, is rarely specified; most plausible in the popular imagination is the rather sensible suggestion that Malaspinans would like to return to Guerra en masse (anywhere must be better than Malaspina), but know that this would require giving up their immoral cultural traits, and so wish to achieve domination of Guerra in order to negotiate return from a position of strength. However, while ‘the Malaspina Problem’ is mentioned regularly in political discussions, most sensible Guerrans find the threat overstated and of little practical interest.