- 1 Introduction
- 2 Inspiration
- 3 Ethnography
- 4 History
- 5 Phonology
- 6 Morphology
- 6.1 General Remarks On Morpholoɡy
- 6.2 Nominal Morphology
- 6.2.1 General Remarks On Nominal Morphology
- 6.2.2 Number
- 6.2.3 Case
- 6.2.4 Pronouns
- 6.2.5 Adjectives
- 6.2.6 Possessive Constructions
- 6.2.7 Numerals
- 6.3 Verbal Morphology
- 6.4 Other Parts Of Speech
- 7 Syntax
- 8 Lexicon
- 9 Example texts
- 10 Other resources
Avalonian (c) Rebecca Ashling 2019-2021. I assert that the Avalonian conlang presented here is my intellectual property and confirm that Linguifex may post this material on their site.
Avalonian (Aval: Nahvatti Telkun) is a polysynthetic language of the affixal, scopal subtype. It has nominative-accusative morphosyntactic alignment with ergative morphology and canonical VSOX word order.
It is the majority language of the Avalonian Isles (Aval: Telku) and has approximately 44.2 million speakers. The Stannic Commonwealth of Avalon (Mag: Qaratti Thaknat Anakte Telkun) comprises the entirety of the fictional islands of Hivarna (OTL: Newfoundland), Kalephū (OTL: Nova Scotia peninsula) and Ehatramit (OTL: Cape Breton Island).
In this timeline, Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island and the Nova Scotia peninsula ended up in the eastern side of the Atlantic after the breakup of Pangea and became the Avalonian Isles. The archipelago lies south-west of Ireland.
Along with Basque, Avalonian is one of two surviving Palaeo-European languages in Western Europe. It is a language isolate and not demonstrably related to any other language although certain scholars try to shoehorn it into one of the many language macrofamily hypotheses.
Avalonian does show much evidence of borrowing from an unknown Vasconic language although there is little or no evidence of reciprocal ancient Avalonian loans in Aquitanian or Basque.
There is also some evidence of borrowing from the putative Goidelic substrate languages. An example of this would be hārhag 'crab'.
Avalonian grammar and morphology are strongly modelled on those of the Inuit and Yupik languages. Its phonology was influenced by Finnish and Welsh with an intention to get something of a cross between Quenya and Sindarin in aesthetic effect. I can't say I succeeded in that particular aim but the end result is interesting, pleasant and easy for me to pronounce.
The Avalonians are members of the oft-perscuted European Pygmy phenotype which is believed to have originated in the ancient Hercynian forest zone of central Europe some 8,000 years ago. The preferred self-designation by members of the European Pygmy phenotype is Hercynians (Aval: Lūki Herkigyat).
Avalonian has four known historical stages:
1) Pre-Avalonian (500 BCE to 250 CE). Not directly attested and known from internal reconstruction and its treatment of ancient Vasconic loans. Koldo Mitxelena's work on Pre-Basque was critical for reconstructing Pre-Avalonian.
2) Old Avalonian (250 CE to 1000 CE). Directly attested from the 6th Century CE with the introduction of writing by Christian missionaries.
3) Middle Avalonian (1000 CE to 1500 CE). The period when Avalonian literacy began to come into its own.
4) Modern Avalonian (1500 CE to Present).The era of printing and mass literacy. The latest version of Modern Avalonian is described in this Linguifex article.
General Remarks On Orthography
Avalonian had no native script until the arrival of missionary monks in the 6th Century CE. The Latin alphabet (Aval: Litērhatti Ruman) has undergone many changes and revisions over the centuries. The current version was adopted in 1908.
Avalonian spelling in Litērhatti Ruman is a deep orthography which reflects the language's etymological history and phonological processes such as sandhi. The letters ⟨c, f, o, s, w, x, y, z⟩ are not used, even to spell foreign names.
|Latin Letter||IPA Value|
NB: The glottal stop is not written.
Avalonian has a total of 29 consonants which according to the World Atlas of Lanɡuaɡe Stucture is a moderately large inventory. The most striking features of the inventory, according to WALS are a voicing contrast in fricatives but not plosives, the presence of ejectives, lateral obstruents and and the initial velar nasal. The consonants are displayed in the table below:
|Labial||Central Alveolar||Lateral Alveolar||Palato-Alveolar||Palatal||Plain Velar||Labialised Velar||Glottal|
Avalonian has a total of 8 vowels, 4 monophthongs and 4 diphthongs. According to the World Atlas of Lanɡuaɡe Structures Magellanican has 4 vowel qualities which is a small inventory. Magellanican has a consonant to vowel quality ratio of 2.75 which according to WALS is an average ratio. Avalonian is unusual for not possessing any low vowels such as /a/. Diphthongs are treated as phonological long vowels. The vowels are displayed in the table below:
|Short Front||Long Front||Short Back||Long Back|
1) /p, t, k/ are realised as [pʰ, tʰ, kʰ] in word-initial position.
2) /p, t, k/ are realised as [b, d, ɡ] in coda position before a voiced fricative or nasal onset.
3) /tɬ, tʃ, kxʲ, kxʷ/ are realised as [tɬʰ, tʃʰ, kxʲʰ, kxʷʰ/ in word-initial position.
4) /ɹ̠/ is realised as [ʃ] in coda position before a voiceless onset.
5) /ɹ̠/ is realised as [ʒ] in coda position elsewhere.
6) /pp, tt, kk/ are realised as [pf, ts, kx].
7) /mm, nn, ŋŋ/ are realised as [mb, nd, ŋɡ].
8) /ll, ɹ̠ɹ̠/ are realised as [ld, ʒd].
9) /ɹ̠j/ is realised as [ʒ].
10) In closed syllables /i, u/ are realised as [ɪ, ʊ].
1) Words in Avalonian bear primary stress on the initial syllable.
2) Avalonian words bear secondary stress on every odd-numbered syllable following the initial syllable.
3) According to the World Atlas of Language Structures, the rhythm type is trochaic.
4) To an English speaker, Avalonian would appear to be spoken with a slower tempo than English is.
1) The syllable template is CV(C). According to the World Atlas of Language Structures, this is a moderately complex syllable structure.
2) /p’, t’, k’/ are only permitted in root-initial position.
3) /ʔ/ is only permitted in root-initial and particle-initial position.
4) Permitted syllable coda consonants are /p, t, k, m, n, ŋ, l, ɹ̠/.
5) Consonant clusters may not have more than two segments.
6) Consonant clusters may only occur across syllable boundaries.
7) Permitted consonant clusters as per the table below:
a) Latin orthography used for clarity.
b) First consonant of consonant cluster runs along be top of table, second consonant of consonant cluster runs down riɡht of table.
c) √ in a cell means the indicated consonant cluster is permitted.
8) /i, eɪ/ may not follow /j/.
9) /u, oʊ/ may not follow /w/.
10) /eɪ, aɪ/ may not precede /j/.
11) /oʊ, ɑʊ/ may not precede /w/.
12) Long vowels may not occur in closed syllables.
13) Vowel clusters do not occur.
14) Canonical morpheme syllabification templates:
a) Roots: CV(C)- or CV(C)CV(C)-
b) Suffixes: -(C)(C)V(C) or -(C)V(C)CV(C)
c) Particles: CV(C) or CV(C)CV(C)
15) Monosyllabic roots are uncommon and mainly comprise pronouns and certain common nouns and verbs.
16) Monosyllabic suffixes may have a word-final allomorph consisting of a single coda consonant which is employed after a short vowel.
17) Roots originating through foreign borrowings may exceed two syllables.
The effects of internal sandhi are indicated in the orthography.
1) Consonant clusters resulting from suffixation undergo sandhi as per the table below:
a) Latin script used for clarity.
b) First consonant of consonant cluster runs across top of table, second consonant of consonant cluster runs down riɡht of table.
c) The notation v̄ indicates the preceding vowel is lengthened.
2) If a three-segment consonant cluster results from suffixation then the first consonant of that cluster is deleted.
1) Vowel clusters resulting from suffixation undergo sandhi as per the table below:
a) Latin script used for clarity.
b) First vowel of vowel cluster runs across top of table, second vowel of vowel cluster runs down right of table.
c) The notation v̄, where v represents any vowel, indicates two short vowels have merged into a long vowel.
d) The notation -c-, where c represents any of /ŋ, j, w/, indicates an epenthetic consonant has been inserted to break up the vowel cluster.
2) If /eɪ, aɪ/ precedes /j/ due to suffixation then they are reduced to [i, ɛ].
3) If /oʊ, ɑʊ/ precedes /w/ due to suffixation then they are reduced to [u, ɔ].
1) The effects of external sandhi are not indicated in the orthography.
2) External sandhi only occurs between words within the same clause.
3) For the purposes of external sandhi ejectives are treated as their corresponding plosives and /ʔ/ is treated as identical to any preceding word-final consonant.
4) External sandhi affects any juncture between word-final consonants and word-initial consonants.
5) These junctures are treated like consonant clusters and sandhi proceeds as it would in internal consonantal sandhi.
General Remarks On Morpholoɡy
1) The morphological cateɡories used in Avalonian are summarised in the table below:
|Noun||Nouns, pronouns, numerals||Yes|
|Verb||Verbs, many adjectives, adpositions||Yes|
|Suffix||These express adjunction, verbal modality, inflection or derivation||No|
|Particle||Conjunctions, some adverbs, interjections||No|
2) Avalonian is an affixal polysynthetic lanɡuaɡe and only one root per word is permitted.
3) Compoundinɡ of roots does not occur.
4) According to the World Atlas of Language Structures, Avalonian has a predominant preference for suffixinɡ.
General Remarks On Nominal Morphology
1) Nouns indicate distinct entities. Nouns are inflected for number, possessor, demonstration or case.
2) Maximal nominal structure:
nominal or verbal root + derivational suffix(es) + number suffix + possessive suffix + demonstrative suffix + case suffix
1) Avalonian nouns have three grammatical numbers:
2) Singular refers to a single instance of a noun.
3) Paucal refers to multiple instances of a noun from two to five in number.
4) Plural refers to multiple instances six or more in number.
5) Avalonian grammatical numbers are summarised in the table below:
NB: Parenthesised forms are word-final allomorphs employed after a short vowel.
1) Case marks relationships between noun and noun or noun and verb.
2) Avalonian cases are summarised in the table below:
|Absolutive||ABS||-∅||a) Marks citation form of noun
b) Indicates definite O argument of a transitive verb
c) Marks definite S argument of an intransitive verb
|Ergative||ERG||-nu (-n)||a) Indicates definite A argument of a transitive verb
b) Indicates the possessor
NB: Parenthesised forms are word-final allomorphs employed after a short vowel.
1) Avalonian personal pronouns and their associated possessive suffixes are summarised in the table below:
|1st Person Singular||1SG||ni||-nti|
|2nd Person Singular||2SG||ki||-kti|
|3rd Person Singular||3SG||ti||-tti|
|4th Person Sinɡular||4SG||pi||-pti|
|1st Person Paucal Exclusive||1PC EXCL||nuk||-ntuk|
|1st Person Paucal Inclusive||1PC INCL||nikuk||-niktuk|
|2nd Person Paucal||2PC||kuk||-ktuk|
|3rd Person Paucal||3PC||tuk||-ttuk|
|4th Person Paucal||4PC||puk||-ptuk|
|1st Person Plural Exclusive||1PL EXCL||nat||-ntat|
|1st Person Plural Inclusive||1PL INCL||nikat||-niktat|
|2nd Person Plural||2PL||kat||-ktat|
|3rd Person Plural||3PL||tat||-ttat|
|4th Person Plural||4PL||pat||-ptat|
2) Clusivity is a relatively recent innovation in Avalonian and thus the inclusive pronouns and their possessive suffixes differ somewhat in form from the other paucal and plural pronouns.
3) Personal pronouns take case in the same manner as nouns.
1) Pronominal demonstratives are identical to the 3rd, 4th and 5th person pronouns.
2) Adnominal demonstratives are suffixes, believed derived from compounds of the 3rd, 4th, 5th person pronouns and the sole Old Avalonian demonstrative ken.
3) Adnominal demonstrative suffixes are rarely used with core arguments except for emphasis.
4) The demonstratives are displayed in the table below:
|Distance||Abbreviation||Locus Of Application||Person||Demonstrative Suffix|
|Distal||DIST||Away from speaker and hearer||5th||-lken|
1) Avalonian has three reflexive pronouns plus their possessive forms as per the table below:
|Reflexive Singular||RFLX SG||li||-lti|
|Reflexive Paucal||RFLX PC||luk||-ltuk|
|Reflexive Plural||RFLX PL||lat||-ltat|
2) Reflexive pronouns are used when the agent or subject is also the object or oblique.
1) There is one interroɡative pronoun: ye 'who, what' which is undifferentiated for number.
2) All other interrogatives are built from this by adding the appropriate case. Eɡ: yek 'where?', yekwe 'with whom?'
3) There is an interrogative pronominal possessive suffix: -yet 'whose?'.
4) Suffixing -ye to a noun gives the sense of 'which?'.
5) The canonical word-order of Avalonian is VSOX. Interrogative pronouns or nouns taking an interrogative suffix violate this by being fronted to before the verb.
6) When an interrogative pronoun is used with a verb, that verb takes plural agreement.
Avalonian has the dedicated reflexive pronoun la.
There is one indefinite pronoun: wahu 'somebody, something'. When placed before a noun it indicates the concept of 'any'. When used with a verb that verb uses plural agreement.
There is one negative pronoun: tahu 'nobody, nothing'. When placed before a noun marks the concept of 'none'. When used with a verb that verb uses plural agreement.
There is one universal pronoun: kal 'everybody, everything'. When placed before a noun in it indicates the concept of 'all' or 'each'. When used with a verb that verb uses plural agreement.
1) Avalonian has no true adjectives.
2) There are three types of adjective-equivalents:
a) A closed set of adjectival suffixes attached to the noun.
b) A noun in oblique case preceded by the relativised verb mhe 'to seem'.
c) Relativised adjectival verbs following the noun.
1) If only pronouns are involved as the possessor then the possessum is marked with the appropriate possessive suffix.
2) If a noun is involved as the possessor then the possessum is marked with the appropriate suffix, most commonly 3rd or 4th person, and the possessor takes the ergative case.
1) Avalonian uses a hybrid vigesimal-decimal system.
2) The numerals of Avalonian are listed in the table below:
|1.965||milya patrāthu annu irrūke pārha|
|50.000||pikāke ampar milya|
|600.000||he annu milya|
3) Numeral strings precede from left to right, highest exponent numerals first.
4) Numerals from 21 to 99 are formed by the appropriate vigesimal numeral plus the appropriate numeral from 1 to 19.
5) The decimal numerals from 100 and over are prefixed with a number from 1-9 as a multiplier.
6) Cardinal numerals precede the noun which takes the equative cases.
7) Ordinal numerals follow the noun and take the equative case. They take final position in the noun modifier string.
8) The numeral system bears a close resemblence to those used in Basque and Iberian. It is believed that it was loaned from a relative of Basque or Iberian spoken in pre-Celtic Gallaecia which places the latest limit on the loan at before 1300 BCE. The Avalonian Isles were a rich source of tin at the time which likely explains the borrowing.
General Remarks On Verbal Morphology
1) Verbs express actions, processes or states of being. Verbs are inflected for A, S, O and X arguments, aspect, valency and mood.
2) Maximal verbal structure:
verbal or nominal root + derivational suffix(es) + aspect suffix + mood suffix + agentive suffix + subjective or objective suffix + oblique suffix
Verbal Argument Suffixes
|Argument||Singular Suffix(Allomorph)||Paucal Suffix||Plural Suffix|
|Subjective or Objective||-ti (-ti)||-tuk||-tat|
NB: Parenthesised forms are word-final allomorphs employed after a short vowel.
1) Transitive verbs in Avalonian have three voices:
2) These are indicated by the presence or absence of verbal pronominal suffices as per the table below:
|Voice||Abbreviation||Ergative Suffix?||Absolutive Suffix?||Promoted Argument||Case Of Demoted Argument||Function|
|Active||ACT||Yes||Yes||N/A||N/A||No topicalisation of either argument|
|Antipassive||ANTIP||Yes||No||ERG||DAT||Topicalisation of A argument|
|Passive||PAS||No||Yes||ABS||INST||Topicalisation of O argument|
3) Intransitive verbs do not indicate voice as their S argument is the only topic of the sentence.
Mood and Modality
1) Avalonian has four formally marked moods. These are listed in the table below:
|Coordinative||COORD||-tkā||Marks an action going on at the same time as another action.|
2) Other distinctions of modality are conveyed by several derivational suffixes.
1) Negation is indicated by the particle tā. This precedes the verb.
2) tā can occur independently, having the meaning 'no!' or 'don't!".
The Imperative And Prohibitive
1) The imperative indicates that an order to perform an action is made. The base form of the verb marks the imperative.
2) The prohibitive marks that an order to not perform an action is made. The prohibitive is formed by placing the negative particle tā before the base form of the verb.
Avalonian lacks tense as a grammatical category. However, tense-like functions are provided by several derivational suffixes.
1) Avalonian has two aspects. These are listed in the table below:
|Imperfective||IPFV||-∅||Indicates an ongoing action|
|Perfective||PFV||-lle||Marks a completed action|
2) Other aspectual distinctions can be conveyed by several derivational suffixes.
1) The gerund uses the suffix -ken which is adde in lieu of pronominal ergative or absolutive suffixes
2) It transforms the verb into a noun which can be used much as any noun can.
1) Avalonian lacks true adverbs.
2) Forms conveying adverbial meanings appear in three classes:
a) A noun in equative case following a verb.
b) Several derivational suffixes with adverbial meanings attached to the verb.
1) Avalonian lacks relative pronouns and uses gap relativisation.
2) A relativised clause follows the noun it modifies.
Other Parts Of Speech
1) Avalonian lacks true adpositions.
2) It does have three classes of adposition-equivalents:
a) The non-core cases which have adpositional functions but are often quite general in their application.
b) Relativised stative verbs with an adpositional sense which are more specific in application than cases.
c) Suffixes on the verb.
1) There are hundreds of derivational suffixes in Avalonian and they fall into the following types:
2) Denominalisers turn a noun into a verb.
3) Derverbalisers turn a verb into a noun.
4) Attributives add a descriptive sense to nouns and verbs.
4) Adverbials impart various temporal and locative meanings to verbs
5) Miscellaneous suffixes change the meaning of nouns and verbs without changing their classes.
|Avalonian Pound (currency)||līrhu|
|chip, French fry||trip|
|human right, need for autonomy||mēran|
|people, folk, nation||lūki|
|ram, male sheep||anri|
|be beneath, be under||uggu|
|be between, be among||janu|
|be free, have freedom||elē|
|bully, dog, harry||nipmin|
|allow, let, permit||-hvim|
|be black, be dressed in black, be brown-haired||-kthat|
|be filled with||-havit|
|be grey, be dressed in grey, be grey-haired, be old||-litta|
|be lean, be skinny, be underfed||-tīla|
|be red, be dressed in red, be red-haired||-rutta|
|be required to||-mimmi|
|be white, be dressed in white, be fair-haired||-karik|
|cute, sickly sweet, small, twee||-tkal|
|for a time||-tpi|
|from mud, using mud||-maru|
|group of things||-kalve|
|have a nostalgic quality||-yāri|
|have an urge to||-kavhit|
|result of a process||-thul|
|so it is said||-kpenta|
|to seem, to be like||mhe|
|and (connects clauses)||yam|
|and (connects nouns)||nu|