Ancient Raunan

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Ancient Raunan, natively known as Raunah'ih /rau̯.ˈnaʔ.iʔ/, is an a priori language that would have been spoken in the fictional island of Rauna during the Ancient Period. The Ancient Raunan language along with its later descendants form the Raunic language family, one of many otherwise unrelated linguistic groups in the island of Rauna and the surrounding region.

Originally the language was spoken by several agricultural tribes in Eastern Rauna near the Selauhi river (known to them as Səlwah'hya, 'great river'), a fertile region that allowed them to develop into a series of city states which would eventually unite into an empire, the ancient Raunan Empire which, through war and alliances, expanded to have over a third of the island under its direct control while they held roughly a similar area as protectorates (particularly in areas dominated by the Smia and Iyau peoples). This led the Ancient Raunan language to rise to be the main language of the region during the Ancient Period.

By the end of the Ancient Period, the Raunan Empire collapsed including growing political instability after a series of unfruitful wars against the Nheam peoples in the south-east and a series of invasions. The empire was succeeded by a number of states and tribes ruled by people from other ethnolinguistic backgrounds. While the usage of Ancient Raunan as a classical language persisted in certain regions once ruled by the empire and its protectorates for a few centuries, the language was functionally extinct by the Middle Period (roughly equivalent to the medieval era and the Renaissance in our timeline). The old imperial language only survived in a relatively small region in southern Rauna were it grew to become the Middle Irona language and in the Engwe island in the south-west which was settled by refugees who had once been part of the elite of the empire and where most of the extant Ancient Raunan text were preserved. While the nobility and high priests in Engwe island were often be able to read and write in classical Ancient Raunan centuries after the fall of the empire, the vernacular of the island quickly diverged to become the Middle Aune language by the Middle Period.


The name Rauna, which originally applied to the Raunic civilization that founded the Raunan Empire but later was adopted to refer to the whole island of Rauna, comes from Ancient Raunan raunah /rau̯.ˈnaʔ/, meaning 'built', 'cultured' (related to the verb rau-ra, 'to build'), a reference to the cities the Raunic peoples had established along the fertile lands in the basins of the Selauhi river, whose scale far surpassed that of the settlements of the neighbouring nations at the time.


Early history of the Raunan Empire

Human presence has been confirmed in Rauna since at least ten thousand years before present, while the nearby Mewha Inhum and Sakanu islands also seems to have been inhabited for at least that long (Rumundea, Engwe and the other islands appear to have been first settled considerably later). It should be noted, however, than a major part of the modern population of this region descends at least partially from groups arrived in much later historical migration waves.

The main registers documenting the history of the region date back to around 2800 years before present when over half of the island came to be under the domain of the ancient Raunan Empire (after which the island is named). Its dominating ethnicity, a group known as the Raunans (sometimes referred to as Ancient Raunans or Raunic peoples) had established an agricultural civilization in the fertile central-eastern Raunan region irrigated by the Selauhi basin. According to the legends preserved on ancient records, several city-states along the Selauhi river were united into an empire by a mythical king who, along with this sons, is claimed to have then expanded the imperial domains all the way to the western coast of Rauna, discovered Engwe island, invented music, writing, and the first solar calendar. Although the historicity of those records is justifiably put into question, evidence clearly shows that, at its peak, the Raunan Empire exercised direct control over at least one third of the island complemented with indirect control through suzerainty over various tribes and tributary kingdoms, including the ancestors of the Smia peoples on the south, the Iyau people on the northwest and, only to a certain extent, the Nau and Nimbe peoples from the northeast.

Fall of the Raunan Empire

The decline and eventual fall of the Raunan Empire appears to have been triggered by a series of events the first of which seems to have been an unfruitful attempt to take over the Mewha Inhum island, the last of several failed naval invasions from an empire who had only proved adept at land warfare. Although initially Raunans and their Smia allies succeeded in claiming the south-western corner of the island (a territory which, to this day, maintains a presence of Smia-speaking peoples), the native Nheam population, taking advantage of their familiarity with the tricky terrain of their home island, managed to repel the invaders and inflect serious losses on them despite the continued efforts to commit more troops to this effort. The second and perhaps most determinant event was the invasion of the imperial heartland by the northern Nau peoples (aided to a certain extent by the Voh). It is to be noted that the Nau succeeded in attacking the capital at a time where the Raunan army not only had been vastly weakened from the devastating Mewha Inhum but also had been mostly been relocated to the south in order to help with the prolonged war efforts. This 'barbarian' invasion drove the Raunan leadership to the west, with part of the court eventually seeking spiritual (and physical) refuge in the sacred island of Engwe where they founded the city of Sawani, the 'Sea Capital'. The Raunan empire fully collapsed (aside from a rump state on Engwe island) with the arrival of foreign peoples from the west, the ancestors of the Ru, the Xhuei and the Saire, some of who had made the dangerous crossing of the Eastern Sea in order to sack the rumoured rich kingdom of Rauna while others were simply escaping persecution of various sorts (certain sources seem to indicate that the Xhuei were originally brought by the Ru as slaves although this remains disputed; it is mostly agreed that Saire arrived separately, possibly following a religious leader which, according to Saire legends, 'was led to their land by a vision'). Although initially few in number, these groups could take advantage of the reigning turmoil in the collapsing Raunan Empire to fully take over most of western and southern Rauna.

The fall of the empire, the arrival of new ethnic groups and the multiple conquests led to a period of instability on the island where much of the legacy of the ancient empire (material and immaterial) was damaged or lost, although it lead to the creation of new cultural identities paving the way for Raunan Middle Period.

In the Middle Period

Although the imperial Raunan identity disappeared as such, remnants survived as new ethnic identities while a large part of the original population was assimilated to the various conquering peoples. In central Rauna, after years of conflict with the Nau in the north and to a much lesser extent the Saire on the south, a group of descendants of the Ancient Raunan people known as the Irona managed to secure some territory next to lake Ironi. Meanwhile, the descendants of the Raunan elites that had fled to Engwe island evolved a distinct identity, the Aune, even though they would still claim their right to the whole of Rauna and see themselves as a continuation of the Raunan Empire. A third partly-Raunan identity can be found with the Hawi, a nomadic group that would travel the length of the island, originally for pastoralism although later they would specialize on trade. Due to their frequent interaction with peoples of all ethnic backgrounds, it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the Hawi, although language and culture seem to point that they were descend mostly from the southern Smia and from ethnic Raunans, perhaps having adopted their nomadic lifestyle after escaping the various occupations during the fall of the ancient empire. Many other languages from Rauna

Knowledge of the Ancient Raunan language during the Middle Period was mostly limited to certain priestly and high nobility classes in Aune, Smia and Iyau domains were the language saw some use as a classical language although vernacular languages were used instead in most contexts.

In the Modern Period

In the Modern Period the island of Rauna came to be politically united for the first time in its history. This unity, however, was frail as the interests of the various subdivisions (mostly corresponding to different ethnic groups) often prevailed over 'national unity'. This led to efforts by unionists to construct and promote an unified Raunan identity, which resulted in renewed interest in the Ancient Period empire that had once ruled most of the island (and thus stood as a precedent for the modern Raunan Federation) as well as its language which was seen by some ideologists as a potential lingua franca for the federation. Although such plans never came to fruition, Ancient Raunan has been occasionally been used in insignias and as a neutral name for government projects.



Ancient Raunan features a relatively simple phonology with no aspiration or voicing contrasts. Most consonants, however, feature a contrast between plain and labialized articulation, with some consonants also featuring a three-way plain vs labialized vs palatalized contrast.

The following table shows the consonantal phonemes of Ancient Raunan in its practical romanization and in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA, between slashes).

Bilabial Alveolar Velar / Glottal
Plain Labialized Plain Labialized Palatalized Plain Labialized Palatalized
Nasal m /m/ mw /mʷ/ n /n/ nw /nʷ/ ny /nʲ/ ñ /ŋ/ ñw /ŋʷ/
Plosive p /p/ pw /pʷ/ t /t/ tw /tʷ/ ty /tʲ/ k /k/ kw /kʷ/
Fricative s /s/ h /h/ hw /hʷ/ hy /hʲ/
Rhotic r /r/
Lateral l /l/ lw /lʷ/ ly /lʲ/
Approximants w /w/ y /j/

As an ancient language, the exact pronunciation of certain consonants is not entirely known. This is particularly true of the rhotic /r/ whose exact realization is unknown but seems to have varied from region to region as ancient texts mention that 'the R sound has a weaker pronunciation in the west'. As the approximants /w/ and /j/ were not reliably distinguished from /hʷ/ and /hʲ/ in writing (as neither were the zero-consonant Ø and /h/) it has been suggested that the latter might have been pronounced as the former at least in some dialectal varieties.

The glottal stop /ʔ/ (also transcribed as h; preceded by an apostrophe if immediately before a vowel, w or y as in Raunah'ih or hah'wa) is also used in the language although it patterns unlike any other consonant, being found exclusively in syllable codae. Due to this glottalization may be considered a feature of Raunan vowels despite its pronunciation being theorized to be an actual glottal stop rather than a glottalized phonation of the vowels.


The spoken language was characterized by a small variety of vowels (/a ə i u/, also transcribed as a ə i u) although combined into a larger number of diphthongs: /aə ai au əi əu iə uə/. The letter e might be used as an alternative to ə in the romanization should the latter not be available.

Front Mid Back Diphthongs
High i /i/ u /u/ iə /iə/, uə /uə/
Mid ə /ə/ əi /əi/, əu /əu/
Low a /a/ aə /aə/, ai /ai/, au /au/

Sequences of vowels forming hiatus are distinguished from diphthongs as in (/aə/, a dipthong) vs a'ə (/a.ə/, a hiatus). In the romanization an apostrophe is used to indicate hiatus in case of ambiguity.

Phonotactics and prosody

Ancient Raunan only allows (C)V(H) syllables where

  • C is any consonant other than the glottal stop.
  • V is either a vowel or a diphthong
  • H is the glottal stop.

There are no further phonotactical restrictions. Although yi and wu (/ji/ and /wu/) are often substituted with plain i and u in inflectional paradigms, they are still allowed.

Prosodic stress was non-phonemic in Ancient Raunan. Words were usually stressed on the second-to-last syllable.


The language features a fusional morphology which uses suffixes for inflection.


Ancient Raunan nouns are inflected for number (singular vs plural) and case. Nominal inflection is mostly regular, with inflectional paradigms depending on the ryhme of the final syllable of the noun in its base form (which corresponds to its singular absolutive form). The most common declension classes are the a class as in hah'wa (man) and the ah class as in pwamah (king), followed by the ə class as in lwañə (sea). Less common classes i as in uəhlwi (water) and ih as in lihlih (maiden, girl). The vowels əh, u and uh or diphthongs are not believed to have been allowed in the base form of nouns.

The language features a tripartite syntactic alignment: subjects of intransitive verbs do not pattern like subjects of transitive verbs (which take the ergative case) nor like transitive objects (which take the accusative case), taking a third case instead, the absolutive. Other cases include the genitive (which serves to mark both possession or origin), the dative case (which marks indirect objects as well as direction), a locative case and a vocative case.

A declension:

hah'wa - man

AH declension:

pwamah - king

Ə declension:

lwañə - sea

I declension:

uəhlwi - water

IH declension:

lihlih - maiden

Absolutive hah'wa hah'wi pwamah pwamah'i lwañə lwañəi uəhlwi uəhlwi lihlih lihlih'i
Ergative hah'waə hah'waəi pwamaəh pwamah'əi lwañaə lwañəi uəhlwiə uəhlwiyəi lihliəh lihlih'əi
Accusative hah'wəi hah'wih pwamai pwamah'i lwañəi lwañih uəhlwi uəhlwih lihlih lihlih'i
Genitive hah'wih hah'waih pwamah'i pwamah'ih lwañih lwañəih uəhlwih uəhlwiaih lihlih'i lihlih'ih
Dative hah'wuh hah'wawə pwamuh pwamah'wə lwañəuh lwañəwa uəlwiyuh uəhlwiwə lihlih'uh lihlih'wə
Locative hah'wah hah'waih pwamaəh pwamah'ih lwañəh lwañəih uəhlwiyə uəhlwiyəi lihlih'ah lihlih'aih
Vocative hah'wauh hah'wauh'i pwamah'uh pwamah'uh'i lwañuh lwañuh'i uəlwih uəlwih'i lihlih lihlih'i

Typically, nouns do not carry any determiner in Ancient Raunan although they may be preceded by demonstratives: nah (this, a proximal demonstrative) and kwu (that, distal demonstrative).

Common noun endings include the following derivational suffixes which yield nouns when applied to verbal stems -hlwa (verbal agents, as in mwauhlwa, 'scribe', from mwau-rai, 'to write'), -hta (results of an action, as in hwusihta, 'breath', from hwusih-rai, 'to breathe') and -nah (which often results in adjectives which may also be used as nouns, as in lihnah, 'spouse; husband or wife', from lih-rau, 'to marry').


Ancient Raunan pronouns are morphologically similar to nouns although they lack a distinct locative case (dative may be used instead in contexts where locative would be required or expected for a regular noun).

Traditionally, Raunan included a distinction between 'inclusive we' (rai, including the listener) and 'exclusive we' (ata, not including the listener) as well as a special honorific pronoun ra which replaced any other pronoun when referring to people of higher status, sacred objects and sacred places. The honorific pronoun ra in this classical usage does not reflect person nor number. Late in the ancient period, however, a different usage popularized in the eastern half of the empire where ra was reserved for singular referents, rai was repurposed to function as a plural counterpart to singular ra and ata came to be used as the single first personal pronoun, even for 'inclusive we'. Originally, this usage was criticized by the ruling classes although as it spread across the eastern half of the empire (which hosted the capital Sərauhta) it came to gain acceptance.





1s, "I, me" alyə alyaə alyəi lyi alyuh alyauh
2s, "you" tyə tyaə tyəi tyi tyuh tyauh
3s, "he, she, it" uh au uəh əuh'i au uh

Honorific pronoun


Honorific singular

ra raə əri ri ruh rauh

Inclusive we


Honorific plural

rai raəi rai rih rəu rəih

Exclusive we


"We, us"

ata ataə atəi ati atuh tauh
2p, "you, you all" i yai ih ih yuh yəih
3p, "they" iətyə ityaə iətyih ityaih ityuh iətyəih

Genitive pronouns may be used as possessive determiners before nouns except for the third person singular pronoun uh, where the form əu is used instead: lyi wahah (my name), əu mwəri (his/her/its eyes).


Constituent order

Noun phrase

Verb phrase

Sentence phrase

Dependent clauses

Writing system

Example texts

Other resources