Difference between revisions of "Shalaian"

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===Excerpts from liturgical poems===
(Free-ish translation)
[acrostic going through Shalian alphabet]
Astute, beautiful, compassionate,
Dominant, eloquent, firm,
Generous, humane, inventive,
Just, kind, lawful,
Magnanimous, nurturing, omnipresent,
Poised, queenly, rational,
Sensitive, true, uncompromising,
Valiant, witty, yearned-for...
My Mistress, how shall I describe you?
I, your priest, shall now sing your praises
As well as my mediocre muse allows,
In the tongue that you forged and taught to me.
===A tongue-twister===
===A tongue-twister===

Revision as of 13:58, 12 February 2020

ʕámasyownth shályoos
Pronunciation /ˈʕæməsjəʊnθ ˈʃælju:s/
Created by User:IlL
Setting Verse:AETHER
Language family
ISO 639-3

Shalian (SHALL-ee-ən, natively ħir ʕámasyownth shályoos /ħə ˈʕæməsjəʊnθ ˈʃælju:s/) is an in-universe naturalistic conlang in the sci-fi setting Verse:AETHER, used as a liturgical language for kink rituals in some relationships. Some people in universe, including the creator, have learned the language and acquired fluency.

It is an ergative VSO language.

use ⟨għ⟩ for ayin?


  • Nóntikh! = Hello!

External history

I've been kicking around the idea of an Arabo-RP language in my head for a while – Standard Arabic and RP are two of my favorite aesthetics. I decided now was a good time to combine my utopian escapism with my conlanging.

In one sense Shalian could be viewed as an Anglo-Arabic counterpart to Windermere's Anglo-Hebrew. However, the English part in Shalian is modeled more after medium-to-long words in English rather than shorter, Germanic-sounding words. The grammar is mainly modeled after Mam, Biblical Hebrew, Irish, Lushootseed and German.


Shalian uses the following historical sound changes:

  • Historical long vowels (also START vowel) shorten before /ʕ/


Shalian has an average consonant inventory and has a moderately large vowel inventory derived from a smaller vowel system in Proto-Shalian combined with loss of nonprevocalic /r/.

Liturgical pronunciation of Shalian involves carefully articulating every sound.


Shalian has 13 vowel nuclei.

Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i /ɪ~e/ "KIT" ee /iː~ɪj/ "FLEECE" oo /uː~üː/ "GOOSE"
Mid eer, iya, eeya /eː/ "NEAR" a, er /ə/ "lettER/commA" oor, owr, or, oowa, owa /oː/ "POOR/FORCE"
Open-mid air, aia /ɛː/ "SQUARE" er /ɜː/ "NURSE" o /ɒ/ "LOT"
Open a /æ/ "TRAP" aa, ar /ɑː/ "BATH/START"
Diphthong ai /ɛɪ/ "FACE" ow /əʊ/ "GOAT"
  • /ə/ occurred only in unstressed syllables.
  • It is considered acceptable, even in liturgical pronunciation, to use both etymological linking R and "intrusive" R [ɹ~ɾ] between /ɑː eː ɛː oː ɜː ə/ and a following vowel in a prosodic unit. For example: ʕídna ach kisál't 'Edna and her dog' is pronounced [ˈʕednə‿ɹətʃ kɪ'sæɫʔt].
  • /ɒ/ is [ɔ] as in Modern RP. It is lowered to [ɒ] after /ʕ/.
  • /æ/ is front [a] or [æ]. However it reduced to /ə/ in certain unstressed syllables.
  • /ɪ/ may be [e~ɛ~ɛ̈] after /ʕ/.
  • /ɜː/ may be [ɐː], especially after /ʕ/.
  • /ɛɪ əʊ/ are normally [ɛɪ ə̟ʊ]. They are realized as [aɪ aʊ] after /ħ ʕ/.
  • Shalian does not have vowel mergers before intervocalic R such as the Mary-marry merger and the mirror-nearer merger. For example, thárrad /'θæɹəd/ 'moon; month' and tháarad /'θɑːɹəd/ 'your (sg.) armor' are distinct.


Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Radical Glottal
plain labialized
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ [ŋ]
Plosive voiceless t /t/ ch /tʃ/ k /k/ ' /ʔ/
voiced b /b/ d /d/ j /dʒ/ g /g/
Fricative f /f/, v /v/ th /θ/ s /s/ sh /ʃ/ kh /x~χ/ wh /ʍ/ ħ /ħ/ h /h/
Approximant l /l~ɫ/ r /ɹ~ɾ/ y /j/ w /w/ ʕ /ʕ/
  • Voiceless stops are usually aspirated, as in English.
  • /ʔ/ is a phoneme unlike in RP: more syllable types can have glottal reinforcement. The glottal stop is placed after the last resonant (/m n l/ or a vowel) in the glottally reinforced syllable.
  • /l/ is velarized [ɫ] when not before a vowel and clear [l] otherwise. The rule applies whether or not the following vowel comes in the next word.
  • /n/ assimilates to [ŋ] before /k/ but not before /x ʍ/.
  • /tj dj nj/ can be realized as laminal alveolar [t̻ʲ, d̻ʲ, n̻ʲ].
  • /tʃ dʒ ʃ/ are labialized [tʃʷ dʒʷ ʃʷ], as in English.
  • /ɹ/ may be [ɹʷ] or [ɾ]. It may be [ʋ] when less careful. This phoneme will be transcribed /r/ below.
  • /ʍ/ is a fricative [xʷ].
  • /ʕ/ can be realized like the Sephardi Hebrew /ʕ/ or as an epiglottal stop; it's not as strong as the Arabic /ʕ/.
  • /p/ and /z/ are found in English loanwords.


Arabic intonation before stress, RP intonation at and after stress

Shalian has a characteristic intonation:

  • Before the stressed syllable: something like Arabic
  • Declarative: start with high pitch on stressed syllable, steady fall to end
  • Interrogative: dip and steady rise
  • Dependent: high-falling with a dip-rise at the end.


Stress is phonemic. Primary stress is transcribed with an acute accent.

Vowel reduction

  • Both /a/ and /ɜː/ reduce to [ə] when immediately before or immediately after a stressed syllable.


Few initial clusters (only Cj clusters) are allowed and many non-English clusters are present. However, the most common clusters are ones found in English. Geminates and rC clusters are not allowed within stems, which will be assumed below.

Some clusters:

  • /ʔ ʕ/ + any consonant except for glottals and pharyngeals
  • any C except glottals and pharyngeals + /ʕ/
  • /h ħ/ + any consonant except for glottals and /x ʍ w/
  • any consonant except for glottals and /x ʍ/ + /h ħ/
  • any C except palatalized alveolars and /n l/ + /r/
  • any C except palatalized alveolars + /l/
  • any C except non-palzed alveolars + /lj/
  • twofold repetition of a given C, where C = b t d k ch j
    • Example: att /ætt/ 'father' < PD *h1ætətə. The /t/ is pronounced twice, not geminated.

Shalian accented English

o:l hu:mən bi:jens ɑ: bo:n əfri: ən i:ʍəl en deknete ən rɛɪts. dɛɪ ɑ:r endəʊd weθ ri:sən ən konʃəns ən ʃod ækt to:d wæn ənæθər en ə əzberet əf əbræθəhod

"All hooman beins are born afree and eewhal in dikniteh and rates. Dey are endoh'd with reecin and conscience and should act toward wan anather in a azbirit of abratherhood."



Head-initial, head-marking ergative VSO/VOS grammar


Shalian has a 3-gender system: animate (AN), inanimate (IN), and abstract-honorific (AH).

Nouns have singular, dual, and plural numbers. There is no gender distinction in the dual and the plural.

There are possessive markers for two different possessive classes: "weak possession" (things that one does not have control over) possession uses the definite article + suffixes, and "strong possession" (things that one owns or has control over) uses prefixes.

Number and gender

  • The weak markers, used for definites and weakly possessed nouns, are definite articles. The noun itself is not inflected.
  • The strong markers, used for indefinites and strongly possessed nouns, are noun suffixes. The definite article in weak possessives may be omitted in poetry.
Number and gender markers
singular dual plural
inanimate animate abstract-honorific
strong kadákh 'a pen'
wi-kadákh 'my pen (i.e. the one I own)'
sháanfan 'a woman'
*wi-sháanfan (doesn't make sense)
janówash 'a law'
wi-janówash 'my law (i.e. the law I created)'
janówand 'two laws'
wi-janówand 'my two laws'
janówi 'laws'
wi-janówi 'my laws'
weak ħi kadákh 'the pen'
ħi kadákhal 'my pen (e.g. one that I borrowed)'
ni shaanf 'the woman'
ni sháanfal 'my female lover'
ħir janów 'the law'
ħir janówal 'my law (the law I have to follow)'
ħiv janów 'the two laws'
ħiv janówal 'my two laws'
ħaikh janów 'the laws'
ħaikh janówal 'my laws'



Independent pronouns are only used in nominal sentences (sentences of the form "PRONOUN is NOUN") and to emphasize a pronoun.

am shaanfán ʕírraheen tee?
Q woman-3SG.AN Irraheen 2SG
Are you Irraheen's wife/girlfriend?
  • 1sg waa
  • 2sg tee
  • 3sg fi (in), fin (an), fir (abs)
  • 1du whaiv
  • 3du feev
  • 1pl whaia
  • 2pl aħár
  • 3pl feekh

Absolutive/weak markers

  • 1sg -al
  • 2sg -ad
  • 3sg -s (an), -ter (abs), -am (in)
  • 1du -awhav
  • 3du -av
  • 1pl -awha
  • 2pl -aħ
  • 3pl -ath

Ergative/strong markers

  • 1sg w(i)-
  • 2sg t(i)-
  • 3sg an-/am- before b/m/r (an), ash- (o/w)
  • 1du whav(i)-
  • 3du v(i)-
  • 1pl wh(i)-
  • 2pl arr(a)-
  • 3pl khakh-


There is a generic locative or dative preposition ʕar. Most other prepositions in English are expressed with relational nouns.

ʕar + articles ħi, ni, ħir, ħiv, ħaikh: ʕárri, ʕarn, ʕárrer, ʕárriv, ʕárrakh

Inflected forms of ʕar: ʕárnal, ʕarnd, ʕarn't, ʕárn'ter, ʕárnam, ʕárnand, ʕárnawha, ʕárnaħ, ʕárnath


Verbs inflect for:

  • voice/transitivity (active, passive, antipassive, causative)
  • TAM (mainly aspect)
  • bipersonal agreement (with the absolutive argument and the ergative argument)

The nonfinite forms are:

  • participle (inflected for aspect; used for relative clauses where the head is absolutive in the relative clause)
  • infinitive (similar to some uses of the Biblical Hebrew infinitive construct)
  • supine (used with modal or purpose clauses)


  • ach = and


Polar questions use

  • am = question particle
  • maand = negative question particle


There are several different negative words in independent clauses:

  • "is not"
  • "there is not"
  • mar = "does not"
  • "cannot"
  • "do not!"

Preverbs (question and tense markers) and conjunctions also have negative forms, much like in Irish.


Shalian uses a mixed vigesimal system: 1. laath 2. weesand 3. syool 4. á'min 5. bathéem' 6. xalbón 7. whaisí'th 8. kówʕas 9. yái'takh 10. sólth 11. soláath 12. solwées 13. sosyóol 14. solá'min 15. solbathéem' 16. solxalbón 17. solwhaisí'th 18. solkówʕas 19. solái'takh 20. daróoʕ


VSO (i.e. verb-agent-patient) like Mam; ergative syntax; pivots must be absolutive

Noun phrase

The structure of a Shalian noun phrase is

article number noun adjective demonstrative genitive relative_clause.

Genitives use possessive affixes:

ni chaasts rái'chal = Rachel's friend (weak possession)
an-vó3ash rái'chal = Rachel's hand (strong possession)



'There is' clauses use the word whid at the beginning of the word, and have-possessives use the structure whid + the thing possessed + the preposition ʕar + possessor. The negative of whid is yand 'there is not' (etymologically from an interrogative *yan whid "where is..."), and the negative interrogative form is maand.

yand vójleedash ʕar fir.
There is no justice in this (fact or situation).


Verbs index the arguments ergatively: the absolutive personal affixes are suffixes and the ergative affixes are prefixes.



Transitive verbs (such as 'to hit') mark both persons on the verb. Passive verbs formed from transitives behave like intransitives and take the absolutive argument for the "patient" just like the active counterpart does. The antipassive turns the agent into the absolutive argument and uses ʕar with the patient.


Relative clauses

Complement clauses

Time clauses

Method clauses

Purpose clauses

Result clauses

Reason clauses


  • -ownth = abstract noun from verb
  • -éed = abstract noun from "adjective"
  • -fan = adjective from noun
  • -ikh = action noun suffix from verb
  • -í'na = agentive from verb
  • -whai- = verb from noun
  • -éen = adjective/stative verb from noun; -ish, -ful
  • -éer = causative, change of state from verb of state
  • -dyan = instrument suffix from verb
    • wairdyan 'violin'


Shalian liturgical poems use Arabic meters, and rhyme rules follow English.

A handful of books, fiction and scientific works have also been written.

Sample texts

Some math proofs

Snake Lemma

A biology abstract

whishee'fkater ħir lochchikham dor'thabeen lachow'veer ħi wajigdyan TSP3 ʕar Bruchorium sponercii. ashʕalħimeeram ħi TSP3 kainais... am-rowhailikh latowth-whagorin REE'TSER-YALINSKI...

We measure the nucleating eukaryotic folding of the TSP3 gene in Bruchorium sponercii. TSP3 encodes a protezine-binding receptor kinase located at the cytotubular microsporellata of the quanticular ribosome, and malfunction of TSP3 is commonly believed to be the source of cybothrotic cancer. In this paper we prove using a Rɪᴇᴛᴢᴇʀ-Yᴀʟɪɴꜱᴋʏ double-blind test that TSP3 binding to the phyllochrypsinase inhibitor occurs (p = 0.856) in the hypotrellome of a healthy Bruchorium cell when adenotoxin concentrations are low. This research will have significant implications for the study of symbrychous descloroma.

"Warming Up to You"

Even with the knowledge that you will eventually die,
I will still feel your warmth up close,
The same warmth that nurtures curiosity,
The leaves of knowledge -
A garden that you have planted in this plot of land
and will keep forever.