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Adzaay (Ox-Yew)
Adzaay, Adɮāλ
Pronunciation /ɑdˈɮɑːtɬʼ/
Created by

BenJamin P. Johnson,
creator of:

Date 2019
Language family
language isolate
  • Adzaay (Ox-Yew)
ISO 639-3

Adzaay (or Adɮāλ) is an a priori, possibly non-terrestrial language whose phonology, morphology, grammar, and really whose entire weltanschauung is inextricably tied to sets of three. Their number system is nonal (3×3); there are three vowels; there are three of each type of consonant; there are three noun classes (or “genders,” but that word really isn’t useful here); there are even three finite grammatical moods.

Since [ɑdˈɮɑːtɬʼ] doesn't really roll off the tongue of the average native speaker of most European languages, the alternative name “Ox-Yew” (or the Language of the Ox-Yew People) is derived from a mistranslation of what early researchers believed the people to be called; in reality, the people of a nearby village who directed them where to find the main Ox-Yew village had said something more along the lines of: “Why would you want to go there? It's just cows and trees.”



Short: /i a u/

Diphthongs: /ia̯ iu̯ ai̯ au̯ ui̯ ua̯/

Long: /ī ā ū/

Long Diphthongs: /īa̯ īu̯ āi̯ āu̯ ūi̯ ūa̯/

Diphthongs are always falling, but if a non-long diphthong starting with /i/ or /u/ appears at the beginning of a word (i.e. with no onset), it is realized as a glide (/j/ or /w/, respectively).

Because of the limited range of vowels, a vowel chart is almost wasted for Adzaay, but here you go:

  Fronty Middlin’ Backish
High: ⟨i⟩ /i/
⟨ii⟩ /iː/
  ⟨u⟩ /u/
⟨uu⟩ /uː/
Low:   ⟨a⟩ /a/
⟨aa⟩ /aː/

The diphthongs do not vary other than by length:
Adzaay diphthongs


Stress is moraic with a dactylic substructure. Stress falls on longest left-most syllable. Where morae are equal, long vowels have a higher priority than diphthongs, which have a higher priority than final consonants. There are eight possible syllable weights:

  Morae Priority Description Examples
V 1 8 Short vowel, no coda. bu, na, ki
VC 2 7 Short vowel, monomoraic coda. uk, it, an
VV̯ 2 6 Diphthong, no coda. hau, niu, mai
2 5 Long vowel, no coda. lii, kuu, aa
VV̯C 3 4 Diphthong, monomoraic coda. kais, zaud, bzuim
VːC 3 3 Long vowel, monomoraic coda. aat, kiic, dzuuq
VːV̯ 3 2 Long diphthong, no coda. giiu, maai, vuua
VːV̯C 4 1 Long diphthong, monomoraic coda. fuuav, saaik, viiut

Non-stressed syllables are reduced. (See Phonotactics).


  Fronty Middlin’ Backish
Unvoiced Stop: ⟨p⟩ /p/ ⟨t⟩ /t/ ⟨k⟩ /k/
Voiced Stop: ⟨b⟩ /b/ ⟨d⟩ /d/ ⟨g⟩ /ɡ/
Fricative: ⟨s⟩ /s/ ⟨f⟩ /ʃ/ ⟨h⟩ /x/
Homorganic Affricate: ⟨c⟩ /t͡s/ ⟨q⟩ /t͡ʃ/ ⟨j⟩ /d͡ʒ/
Heterorganic Affricate: ⟨w⟩ /d͡v/ ⟨y⟩ /t͡ɬ/ ⟨x⟩ /t͡x/
Liquid: ⟨z⟩ /ɮ/ ⟨r⟩ /r/ ⟨l⟩ /l/
Nasal: ⟨m⟩ /m/ ⟨n⟩ /n/ ⟨v⟩ /ŋ/


Syllable Structure


  • All syllables must have a nucleus, but onsets and codas are not required. Syllables in the same word must have either a coda or an onset dividing them (i.e. two syllable nuclei must be separated by at least one consonant.)
  • Word-initial onsets may consist of a single consonant, or a stop consonant followed by a liquid.
    • p, t, k, b, d, g, c, q, j, w, y, x, m, n, v, l, z, r, s, f, h
    • pr, tr, kr, br, dr, gr, pl, tl, kl, bl, dl, gl, pz, tz, kz, bz, dz, gz
  • Intersyllabic consonant clusters may be:
    • C (any single consonant)
      • p, t, k, b, d, g, q, j, c, m, n, v, l, z, r, s, f, h
    • C[-cnt]C[+liq] (any stop + liquid)
      • pr, pl, pz, tr, tl, tz, kr, kl, kz, br, bl, bz, dr, dl, dz, gr, gl, gz
    • C[-cnt]ː (any geminate stop)
      • pp, tt, kk, bb, dd, gg
    • C[+nas]ː (any geminate nasal)
      • mm, nn, vv
    • C[+nas]C[-cnt-vox] (any nasal + unvoiced stop of the same place of articulation; also ⟨vg⟩)
      • mp, nt, vk, vg
    • C[+nas]C[-cnt-vox]C[+liq] (any nasal + voiced or unvoiced stop of the same place of articulation + liquid)
      • mbr, mbl, ndr, ndl, vgr, vgl, vgz
    • nC[+liq] (⟨n⟩ + any affricate)
      • nq, nj, nc
    • C[+obs+cnt]C[-cnt-vox] (any fricative + any unvoiced stop)
      • sp, st, sk, fp, ft, fk, hp, ht, hk
  • Word-final codas may consist only of a single consonant; ‹b› and ‹h› are not permitted as codas.
    • p, t, k, d, g, c, q, j, w, y, x, m, n, v, l, z, r, s, f

Liquid Harmony

  • (Still working this out...)
  • Dissimilation
    • When two identical liquids occur in the same or adjacent syllables, the right-most liquid changes: l → r → z → l, e.g.:
      • bzaukzi → bzaukli
      • graar → graaz
      • brulaaul → brulaaur
    • In words where three liquids appear, all liquids are dissimilated even if a different liquid separates two of the same. This may cause chain shifting in compound words until the order described above can be observed, e.g.:
      • bratluir → bratluiz
      • raagraz → raagzaz → raagzal
      • dravglal → dravglar (but regularization does not wrap, so here, two /r/s are acceptable.)

Vowel Reduction in Syllables with Non-Primary Stress

  • Vowels with secondary stress are reduced by their right-most mora. Secondary stress is almost always separated primary stress by two unstressed syllables.
→ i ai
→ a ui
→ u
→ ii aai
→ aa uui
→ uu
    • E.g. ááidlaavaicùùap → aaidlavacuup
  • Unstressed vowels are reduced to their left-most mora:


→ i


→ a


→ u

Cluster Reduction between Syllables with Non-Primary Stress

The number of consonant clusters which can occur intervocalically between syllables with non-primary stress is dramatically reduced. Somehow. Probably. I think. Also, stress is primarily dactylic, somehow, probably, I think.


Adzaay has three distinct orthographies. There is a native writing system (patent pending...); a “presentational” orthography, which uses some diacritics and some non-standard characters to present the language a little more compactly and with a few slightly more intuitive graphemes; and a “utility” orthography, which uses 24 letters of the standard 26-letter Latin alphabet. (The letters O and E are not used.)

Function Form IPA Series
⟨p⟩⟩ p stop, unvoiced
⟨t⟩⟩ t stop, unvoiced
⟨k⟩⟩ k stop, unvoiced
⟨b⟩⟩ b stop, voiced
⟨d⟩⟩ d stop, voiced
⟨g⟩⟩ g stop, voiced
⟨s⟩⟩ s fricative
⟨f⟩ ⟨⟨š⟩⟩ ʃ fricative
⟨h⟩⟩ x fricative
⟨c⟩⟩ t͡s affricate, homorganic
⟨q⟩ ⟨⟨č⟩⟩ t͡ʃ affricate, homorganic
⟨j⟩⟩ d͡ʒ affricate, homorganic
⟨w⟩ ⟨⟨ȸ⟩⟩ d͡v affricate, heterorganic
⟨y⟩ ⟨⟨λ⟩⟩ t͡ɬ affricate, heterorganic
⟨x⟩ ⟨⟨ӿ⟩⟩ t͡x affricate, heterorganic
⟨m⟩⟩ m nasal
⟨n⟩⟩ n nasal
⟨v⟩ ⟨⟨ŋ⟩⟩ ŋ nasal
⟨z⟩ ⟨⟨ɮ⟩⟩ ɮ liquid
⟨r⟩⟩ r liquid
⟨l⟩⟩ l liquid
⟨i⟩⟩ i vowel, short
⟨ii⟩ ⟨⟨ī⟩⟩ vowel, long
⟨ia⟩⟩ ia̯ diphthong, short
⟨iu⟩⟩ iu̯ diphthong, short
⟨iia⟩ ⟨⟨īa⟩⟩ iːa̯ diphthong, long
⟨iiu⟩ ⟨⟨īu⟩⟩ iːu̯ diphthong, long
⟨a⟩⟩ a vowel, short
⟨ai⟩⟩ ai̯ diphthong, short
⟨aa⟩ ⟨⟨ā⟩⟩ vowel, long
⟨au⟩⟩ au̯ diphthong, short
⟨aai⟩ ⟨⟨āi⟩⟩ aːi̯ diphthong, long
⟨aau⟩ ⟨⟨āu⟩⟩ aːu̯ diphthong, long
⟨u⟩⟩ u vowel, short
⟨ui⟩⟩ ui̯ diphthong, short
⟨ua⟩⟩ ua̯ diphthong, short
⟨uu⟩ ⟨⟨ū⟩⟩ vowel, long
⟨uui⟩ ⟨⟨ūi⟩⟩ uːi̯ diphthong, long
⟨uua⟩ ⟨⟨ūa⟩⟩ uːa̯ diphthong, long




The typology of Adzaay is predominantly SOV or verb-final. Marked order is OSV. A morphological particle is inserted between the subject and the direct object which is ostensibly a case suffix combined with a case prefix; a different particle is used in marked order.

Morphosyntactic Alignment

Adzaay alignment is tripartite, so nouns and pronouns are differentiated for subject, object, and agentive roles by use of case affixes and/or particles.


Adzaay is predominantly head-final, and this is reflected in many of its more granular alignments.

Noun Phrases

In noun phrases, nouns are always initial, followed (in order) by adpositions, demonstratives, numerals, adjectives or adjective phrases, genitive or genitive phrases, and finally relative clauses.

Adjective Phrases

In adjective phrases, (adverbial) measurements of degree (very, less, too, &c.) follow the adjective.

Verb Phrases

As mentioned in Typology, Adzaay is a verb-final language, and as such, adverbs always immediately precede the verb. Verbs inflect for person, number, polarity, voice, mood, tense, and aspect.



Adzaay has several cases which regulate the roles various words play in a sentence.


The absolutive case is used for the subjects of intransitive verbs.


Ergative is used with the subjects of transitive verbs when there is a direct object present.


Accusative indicates a direct object.


The use of the dative in Adzaay is slightly more restrictive than it may be in other languages. It specifically invokes the meaning of ‘to’ or ‘towards’.


Many languages have an “ablative” case, though it rarely means the same thing from one language to another. In Adzaay, the ablative is the exact inverse of the dative, invoking the meaning of ‘out of’ or ‘from’.


The genitive deals with possession and relation. There is a bit of overlap with the ablative.


The oblique isn't so much a case as an anti-case: This is the “Dictionary Form” of Adzaay nouns, and is not inflected at all. It is mainly used with adpositions, or for mentioning things in a list.


There are only three noun classes in Adzaay, so one might be tempted to call them “genders,” but that term really doesn't work well here, considering that all of the human genders which usually serve as examples of the various grammatical genders all fall into a single noun class. Adzaay nouns are divided into Animate, Inanimate, and Abstract classes.


Animate nouns are quite literally comprised of things which are alive. This includes, but is not limited to men, women, children, dogs, cows, grass, trees, moss, cauliflower, and caterpillars. Some dynamic nouns may be considered animate even if they are not alive in the traditional sense, such as fire, running water, wind, or weather.


Inanimate nouns are things which are not alive. They may be things which are no longer alive (such as wood or leather) or things which do not presently show signs of life, but which may become alive in the future (like seeds or eggs). Some inanimate nouns include wood, stone, metal, houses, rice, books, salt, and soil.

*Note to self: What about body parts and plant parts, like heart, arm, brain, trunk, and leaf?


Abstract nouns are concepts, ideas, or non-substantives, like feelings, concepts, and symbolic thought. These include compassion, love, anger, war, kerfuffle, hope, tarnation, thought, and stubbornness.


Don't delete my stuff just because I'm lazy and haven't filled it out yet, you jerk!








Key vocabulary can be found here.


(...yeah, yeah, I'll get around to it...)