- 1 Introduction
- 2 Phonology
- 2.1 Spelling
- 2.2 Vowels
- 2.3 Consonants
- 2.4 Prosody
- 2.5 Morphophonology
- 3 Inflectional morphology
- 4 The noun phrase
- 5 Determiner phrases
- 6 Prepositional phrases
- 7 The verb phrase
- 8 The sentence
Skájamál can be written using two different types of scripts: the native script and the Latin alphabet. The native script (askájaská rúnáh) is superficially strikingly similar to the early runic alphabets (futhark) common of other Germanic languages but either through contact-induced change, phonemic adaptations or wholesale innovation its values and conventions differ markedly from these.
The Latin script has two competing orthographies with the basic distinction originating in the difficulty of representing certain graphemes on early modern computer devices. The most recently standardised orthographic variety is used in this article.
The following letters are used: a á b d e é g h i í j k l m n o ó p r s t u ú v w z.
The values of these letters usually correspond to their counterparts in the International Phonetic Alphabet with the following major differences:
- ⟨v⟩ represents a voiced labiodental approximant [ʋ].
- ⟨a⟩ represents a low, back unrounded vowel [ɑ]
- ⟨e⟩ represents either a low-mid, front unrounded vowel [ɛ] or a mid, front unrounded vowel [e] with alternation being phonologically unpredictable.
- ⟨i⟩ represents a near-high, near-front unrounded vowel [ɪ].
- ⟨j⟩ represents a voiced, palatal fricative [ʝ] after a consonant and [j] elsewhere.
- ⟨h⟩ represents either a voiceless, glottal fricative [h] or a voiceless, velar fricative [x] after a back vowel.
Long vowels are marked by an acute accent: ⟨á é í ú⟩. The long vowel⟨í⟩ differs in quality from its short counterpart and is pronounced noticeably higher [iː].
The combination ⟨mh⟩ represents a voiced, nasalised labio-velar approximant [w̃], ⟨wr⟩ represents a long velarised apical trill [rʷː], and ⟨hw⟩ represents a voiceless labiovelar approximant [ʍ].
The Skájamál vowel inventory is relatively small compared to most of its Germanic siblings with relatively few innovations. The innovations present on the other hand strongly set the language apart from all the other Germanic languages.
There are five pairs of vowels distinguished by length and secondarily, quality: /ɑ e ɪ o u/ and /ɑ: e: i: o: u:/. There are four diphthongs in Skájamál: /ɑi/, /ɑu/, /ei/, /eu/. Of these, /ɑi/, /ei/ and /eu/ contract in stressed syllables to /e:/, /i:/ and /i̯u/.
The mid, front unrounded vowel denoted as /e/ alternates freely between [ɛ] and [e] with no particular preference or conditioning environment seemingly identifiable among speakers.
|Nasal||m /m/||n /n/||nk, ng [ŋ]||mh /w̃/|
|Stop||p /p/||b /b/||t /t/||d /d/||k /k/||g /g/||kw /kʷ/|
|Fricative||s /s/||z /z/||j [ʝ]||h [x]||hw /ʍ/||h /h/|
|Approximant||v /ʋ/||l /l/||j /j/||w /w/|
|Trill||wr /rʷː/||r /r/|
- The stops, nasals, the lateral approximant and the trill have palatal allophones when preceding a stressed -jV- sequence, as in brjúkaná [ˈbrʲu:kɑnɑ:].
- Word-final voiceless plosives are heavily aspirated, sometimes to the point of gaining a coarticulated fricative. E.g., wit 'we two' [wɪt͡θ] or [wɪtʰ], wrissájk 'I write' [rʷːɪs.sɑːjk͡x]
Stress is usually found on root syllables of words (root accentuation principle); usually this is the first syllable in a word, e.g. hwá-záh, wan-sás. In compounds, the first element receives primary stress regularly according to the root accentuation principle, the following element receives a slightly weaker secondary stress, e.g. hráriwinih. This is however not true with verbal compounds - the stress falls then on the first syllable of the verbal element.
Productive phonological rules
Lowering of short final high vowels
The vowels i and u are lowered to e and o respectively when word final. This leads to visible vowel alternation, primarily when looking at singular and plural forms of words.
- marí 'seas' → mare 'sea'
- aluh 'ales' → alo 'ale'
- ilih 'soles' → ile 'sole'
Short vowel deletion
A process of reduction and deletion of vowels occurs occasionally in polysyllabic words with any syllable flanking the stressed one being most reduced. This is a highly register-dependent process with the most common daily speech evidencing this heavily (40-60% of speech forms undergoing reduction) when compared to the ritual language where its incidence is near zero. In certain words, the process can take rather extreme forms, such as hwarha-hwiwalsá → hwarhwilsá ‘moth’ with both «wa» and «ha» syllables being deleted, aggressively reducing the syllable count down to three.
Historical phonological rules
The early Skájamál s in intervocalic position was voiced to z, which changed to r except in those cases where an adjacent syllable already contained an r, e.g. MSK. ekozana → ekorana but mázér → mázér.
Skájamál is a conservative, richly inflected Indo-European language with several cases and genders. Skájamál has the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative cases and vestiges of an instrumental and vocative case. The three genders are masculine, feminine and neuter, similar to German or Elfdalian. As for number, a distinction between singular and plural is observed.
The nominative case (nom) is primarily the case for the agent and subject of a verb.
- barássa raunah
- A raven bathes.
- smirjanín wélannah swersá smirás
- At (his) smithy, Wayland forges a sword
By general agreement, it is also used for the predicate complement.
- ek imme énhá
- I am alone
The accusative (acc) typically signifies the direct object of a verb or the complement of certain prepositions. With verbs, it's usually the patient role, while with prepositions it is mostly used for motion towards, as in many Indo-European languages.
- hurizí luvó aujá
- I have love.acc for you.
Here serving as the accusative of motion to a place
- Anglalanná tá hwaris
- To England.acc you go.
Finally, it can be used to express spatial and temporal relations.
- sa búráze Anglalannán srinn ménárunn
- He lived in England three months.acc
The dative is used to denote the second target argument of many verbs and is used for the comparative construction.
The regular use
- évájk astí lamhah
- I give guest.dat lamb.acc
- I give the guest a lamb.
The dative of comparison
- hrárínín aziupirá Wáran séma wah
- In wisdom the deeper Odin them.dat was
- In wisdom the greater of them was Odin