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Adwan (amhdha [ˈawðɐ]) is a personal a priori conlang. Primarily inspired by the notion of high density information packing and free word order, Adwan is characterized by a large presence of fricatives and a borderline polysynthetic morphology consisting of enclitic agglutination. Aesthetically, Adwan is heavily inspired by Polish, Welsh, and Portuguese, with an internal structure largely influenced by Basque, Nahuatl, and Latin.

General Characteristics

Adwan is a highly inflecting language, making use of agglutination to the morphosyntactic level. Nouns are the most heavily inflected class, not only inflected for grammatical case but also for the grammatical person of the primary verb argument (with grammatical number of verb arguments generally being ignored). Adwan verb arguments come in tiers corresponding to the valence of said verb. Verbs with only 1 argument (intransitives) require that the verb argument, which is usually in the nominative (but may be in any case other than the accusative), be appended a personal consonant identifying the subject of the intransitive verb. Verbs with 2 arguments require the argument furthest down the canonical list of cases be marked with the a personal consonant identifying the agent of the verb. Because the order in which cases are canonically ordered in declensional tables is

Nominative > Accusative > Genitive > Dative > Locative > Ablative > Instrumental

it follows that verbs with 3 arguments (ditransitives) require the argument in the dative be appended a personal consonant identifying the agent of the ditransitive verb. Notice below that the suffix -m is separate from the transitive verb mys and instead attached to the direct object (in the accusative) purgw (nominative: purga):

Mys purgwm
mys purg-w-m
see.PRES dog-ACC-1
"I see a dog."

Furthermore, notice the third person personal ending -r attached to the noun in the dative below:

Lgos cwenw gobur luga
lgos cwen-w gob-u-r lug-a
tell.PRES story-ACC boy-DAT-3 girl-NOM
"The girl tells the boy a story."

In this respect, one can say that Adwan verb conjugations are partially marked on nouns (for grammatical person, strictly speaking; grammatical number is another story). This is further reinforced by the lack of verbs for to be, to do, to have, to arrive, and to depart, as these verbs are instead expressed by appending a personal consonant to the corresponding noun case ending (i.e., to be something has the noun corresponding to something in the nominative with a personal consonant suffixed to it, e.g., mimham "I am a cat"). Adwan therefore conjugates verb complements for the grammatical person of the verb subject. Moreover, the specific case of a given conjugated noun determines the perceived relation implied by such 'empty' verbs (i.e., in this system we have verb stems separated from conjugation endings; for the verbs mentioned above, we can think of them as belonging to one single verb with an empty stem, with different meanings expressed via variation in the verb argument's morphological case.

  1. Nominative: to be (something)
  2. Accusative: to do (something)
  3. Genitive: to have (something)
  4. Dative: to arrive (somewhere)
  5. Locative: to be (somewhere)
  6. Ablative: to depart (somewhere)
  7. Instrumental: to be (somehow)



The consonants g, and h are used with other a finite amount of other consonants to form further graphemes that represent distinct sounds, where appending g marks historical palatalization, and h lenition/spirantization. For the semivowel consonants representing the sounds /j/ and /w/ are represented by their vowel forms 'i' and 'w' when preceding a vowel and after a consonant, and by 'gh' and 'mh' otherwise, respectively. When preceding 'g', the consonants 'm' and 'n' become nasalized velar and palatal approximants /j̃/ and /w̃/, respectively.

Adwan consonant inventory
Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar
Nasal m /m/ n /n/
Plosive p /p/, b /b/ t /t/, d /d/ tg /cç/, dg /ɟʝ/ c /k/, g /g/1
Fricative ph /ɸ/, bh /β/ pg /f/, bg /v/ th /θ/, dh /ð/ s /s/ rh /ʂ/, rg /ʐ/ cg /ç/ ch /x/
Approximant gh /j/, nh /j̃/2 mh /w/, mg /w̃/2,3
Tap r /ɾ/
Lateral fricative lh /ɬ/, lg /ɮ/
Lateral approximant l /l/
  1. Under gemination, /g/ undergoes lenition to /ɣ/ such that the segment /g.g/ > /ɣː/, i.e., /gː/ does not occur.
  2. /j̃ w̃/ only occur in falling diphthongs.
  3. /w̃/ is realized as [ɰ̃]



Noun morphology is largely agglutinative with varying mechanisms of agglutination based on the grammatical category and paradigm involved. Noun case can be viewed as appending a vowel suffix to the stem of a noun, and varying that stem according to the necessary case, i.e., case distinctions are made by variations in a single vowel.

Nouns may be marked for possession, where a possessed noun is marked for its possessor. Because of this, Adwan has no possessive pronouns, and in fact employs an empty nominal stem ("h", which incidentally is called the "pseudopronoun" as it is used for non-noun arguments to a verb, see pseudopronoun section for more details) in predicative constructions denoting possession such as "that's mine!". The affixes involved in marking nouns for possession are actually infixes, fitting in between the noun stem and the case ending. Therefore, since the infix for the 1st person is -in-, it follows that the noun purga ("dog"), would be expressed as purgina for the English translation of "my dog".

Adwan exhibits little to no standalone determiners as free morphemes. Instead, an array of determiner infixes are used with nouns, with determiner and possessive infixes exhibiting a complementary distribution (i.e., determiner infixes and posssessive infixes can never be found together in the same noun, each being seen as exclusive to the other). Thus, in order to express "This is my dog", the determiners corresponding to 'this' and 'my' would need to belong to separate head nouns. Consider the infix -ent-. While the utterance purgenta and purgina roughly translate to 'this dog' and 'my dog', the corresponding expressions for 'this is my dog' and 'this dog is mine' would require the determiner infix -ent- corresponding to 'this' and the determiner infix -in- corresponding to 'my' would need to be situated in entirely different nouns; as mentioned above, the empty noun stem h is used in these sorts of situations, as shown below:

  • Purginar henta.
    Purg-in-a-r h-ent-a
    dog-1.POSS-NOM-3 Ø-PROX-NOM
    "This is my dog."
  • Hinar purgenta.
    H-in-a-r purg-ent-a
    Ø-1.POSS-NOM-3 dog-PROX-NOM
    "This dog is mine."


Nouns in Adwan are inflected for grammatical case.

  1. Nominative case: marks the agent of a transitive verb and the subject of an intransitive verb
  2. Accusative case: marks the patient or direct object of a transitive verb
  3. Genitive case: marks the complement of a noun phrase; marks nouns as relational; marks the subject of an impersonal phrase; used to form adverbs of time
  4. Dative case: marks the recipient or benefactor of a ditransitive verb; defines an object as the direction or destination of a directed action, motion-related or not
  5. Locative case: marks the location of an action; marks nouns for which movement has no direction; used to form adverbs of place
  6. Ablative case: marks the source of an action; defines an object as the antidirection or source of a directed action, motion-related or not
  7. Instrumental case: marks the instrument or means by which an action is defined or executed; used to form adverbs of manner

Noun declension paradigms are generally regular and don't exhibit syncretism between cases, with each case ending being represented by a unique vowel in the vowel inventory.

Nominative -a
Accusative -w
Genitive -y
Dative -u
Locative -e
Ablative -o
Instrumental -i


Adwan generally has free word order, even in the case of compound clauses, as subordination is nontrivially expressed in general phrases. While Adwan word order is generally free, the standard unmarked word order follows a VOS pattern, though justifications for this are entirely based on the historical cliticization of now extinct personal pronouns, which can be identified by the general pattern of marking grammatical person of a verb agent (or subject) on a noun argument of the verb, rather than on the verb itself.