Ewige

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Ewige (/əˈwiːgeɪ/, natively néto Éwigéře [neto ˈeɹigerɛ], "Ewige language") is a language spoken in central-southern Siberia, near the borders with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and China. It is one of several descendants of the Ivugi language, also spoken in Siberia circa 1000 CE, but it is not considered mutually intelligible with the other Ivugean languages, as they are collectively known. The speaker pool of Ewige is estimated at around 200,000 individuals, mostly living in Kemerovo Oblast, the Altai Republic, and other nearby federal subjects of Russia; significant Ewige communities also exist in Kazakhstan, western Russia, the United States, and Germany. Community leaders have been enthusiastic about keeping the language alive, arranging for many films, comic strips, and books to be translated into the language and publishing newspapers in it.

Ewige is a nominative-accusative, agglutinative language with VOS (verb-object-subject) word order and an animate-inanimate distinction for nouns; as it features polypersonal agreement on verbs and many simpler sentences can express all their information with just a verb, some linguists argue that it is polysynthetic instead. It has two main dialects: Jugře ("Southern") and Třaře ("Northern"); the more widely spoken and prestige Jugře dialect is the one covered in this article.

History

Ewige is one of many descendants of Ivugi, which was spoken circa 1000 AD in the Eurasian steppe in present-day Siberia. It has undergone many phonological and grammatical changes, evolving from a relatively isolating language to a highly agglutinative one with polypersonal inflection and an animate-inanimate distinction. Its syllable structure has grown more restrictive and it has lost its phonemic stress, but its vowel and consonant inventories have grown.

While it has historically been written in Cyrillic, the Ewige people were among the earliest adopters of the Latin script among Siberian peoples. However, many of their orthographical conventions, such as extensive use of the hacek, are Slavic in nature.

Phonological history

Ewige is characterized by the following phonological innovations from Ivugi:

  • Creation of a new /e/ phoneme, formed from historical /i/ and /ɨ/ before voiceless fricatives and /r/, and historical /ɛ/ before alveolar consonants.
  • Creation of a new /ʃ/ phoneme from /s/ in various positions: before /i/ or /j/ and after voiceless stops. Some instances of /t/ also become /ʃ/.
  • Creation of a new /ʒ/ phoneme from /z/ in various positions: before /i/ or /j/ and after voiceless stops. Some instances of /j/ also became /ʒ/.
  • The glottal stop /ʔ/ merging with the other three voiceless stops depending on the preceding vowel: /t/ after front vowels, /k/ after central vowels, and /p/ after back vowels.
  • Creation of a new /m/ phoneme from intervocalic /b/ in unstressed syllables, plus /n/ and /ŋ/ before labials and unstressed /o/.
  • Simplification of various labial-stop clusters: /kp/, /tp/, /rp/, /kb/, and /tb/ all become /p/, and /gb/, /db/, and /rb/ all become /b/.
  • Shift of certain vowels' pronunciations when unstressed: /au/ and /o/ become [u], /ai/ merges with /i/, and /ɨ/ and /ɐ/ become [ə].
  • Development of aspirated and breathy-voiced allophones of stops in stressed syllables.
  • Loss of phonemic stress in favor of universal initial stress—except in some loanwords and compounds—causing /u/, /ə/, and the aspirated and breathy-voiced stops to all become phonemic.
  • Merger of /ɸ/ into /β/, which then shifts its pronunciation to [w].
  • Merger of /l/ into /ɾ/.
  • Merger of /x/ and /ɣ/ into /r/ after stops.
  • Chain shifts affecting most vowel monophthongs: /ɨ/ > /i/ > /e/ > /ɛ/ > /a/, and /ɐ/ > /ɑ/ > /ɔ/.
  • Raising of the two diphthongs: /ai/ to [ei] and /au/ to [ou].

Grammatical history

It has also undergone the following grammatical innovations:

  • Drastic simplification of noun pluralization: the majority of nouns now pluralize with -e or -de, although a few dozen irregular nouns remain as vestiges of Ivugi's complex ablaut-based system. For example, the noun ireiždé "person" has the suppletive plural inarni, which descends from Ivugi's original plural; this is because ireiždé is a novel coining that literally means "society-child".
  • Generalizing the Ivugi particle u, which was used before animate singular nouns in the accusative, to be a general affix for animate nouns. Explicitly animate pronouns and verb inflections would later develop based on it.
  • Repurposing Ivugi's yi and ye, which were the interrogative forms of "to be" in the past and present, as generic interrogative markers, and the resultant loss of Ivugi's morphological interrogative mood. They are now žé and ža.
  • Obligatory marking of inalienable possession on certain nouns, created from the Ivugi particle a ("of", inalienable) fused with a pronoun.
  • Development of possessive pronouns using the Ivugi particle sal ("of", semi-alienable) fused with a pronoun.
  • Generalization of Ivugi's third genitive particle val ("of", alienable) as the only genitive particle, now va.
  • Expansion of Ivugi's simpler verb paradigm, in which all verbs had infinitives ending in -bi and inflected basically the same way, into a more complex paradigm with three conjugation classes: -me verbs, -be verbs, and -pe verbs. This process came about when clusters of various consonants and /b/ simplified in different ways.
  • Polypersonal inflection on the verb: whereas Ivugi verbs did not indicate person in any form, Ewige verbs can inflect for both subject and object, both of which started as forms of the pronouns and then phonologically reduced.
  • Simplification of the Ivugi syllable onset alternation process to a basic affix, -ro- before a consonant and -rov- before a vowel. This affix was then repurposed to form the subjunctive/conditional mood, which can be used in any of the three tenses: past, present, and future.
  • Innovation of a new future tense inflection, -sto, from the Ivugi verb sída ("goes"/"is going").
  • Shift from SVO (subject-object-verb) word order to the rare VOS, after the innovation of person-marking on verbs created less need for an explicit subject at the start of the sentence.

Phonology

Consonants

Labial Alveolar Palato-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ ň /ŋ/
Plosive Voiceless p /p/ t /t/ k /k/
Voiced b /b/ d /d/ g /g/
Aspirated /pʰ/ /tʰ/ /kʰ/
Breathy-voiced /bʱ/ /dʱ/ /gʱ/
Fricative Voiceless s /s/ š /ʃ/ ch /x/ h /h/
Voiced z /z/ ž /ʒ/ gh /ɣ/
Approximant v /w~ɹ/ j /j/
Tap r /ɾ/
Trill ř /r/
  • After back vowels, palato-alveolar /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ are often realized as retroflex [ʂ] and [ʐ].
  • The labio-velar approximant /w/ may be realized as alveolar [ɹ], especially intervocalically. By one analysis, this gives Ewige the rare distinction of possessing three rhotic consonants: /ɹ/, /ɾ/, and /r/.

Vowels

Monophthongs
Front Central Back
High i /i/ u /u/
High-mid é /e/ ó /o/
Mid y /ə/
Low-mid e /ɛ/ o /ɔ/
Low a /a/ á /ɑ/
Diphthongs
Front Back
ei /ei/ ou /ou/
  • The mid-central vowel represented here by a schwa, /ə/, can in reality be realized with a wide range of allophones depending on the following consonant. Speakers may possess any or all of these allophones, and younger speakers use them more than older speakers:
  • [ɨ~i], before voiceless stops
  • [əi~oi], before voiceless fricatives
  • [ɜ~ɐ], before /ɾ/ and /r/ and in word-final position
  • syllabification, before nasals, e.g. /ən/ [n̩]

Vocabulary

While most of Ewige's vocabulary is indigenous, it has borrowed a large number of terms from nearby languages of the Eurasian steppe, particularly Russian, Kazakh, and Mongolian. More recently, English and, to a lesser extent, Mandarin loanwords have entered the language as well.

The numbers one through ten are as follows:

Arabic numeral Ewige number
1 šy
2 syp
3 de
4 ny
5 ryr
6 gog
7 aku
8 gʼéru
9 nožo
10 žér

Dialectology

The dialect documented in this article is the prestige Jugře (Southern) dialect, spoken by the majority of the population. The more innovative Třaře (Northern) dialect is characterized by the following features:

  • A lower percentage of loanwords and a tendency to use native coinings instead. When loanwords are imported, they are less likely to use non-native phones such as /l/.
  • The mid high vowels /e/ and /o/ are diphthongized to [iə] and [uə].
  • The low vowels have not shifted as far: /a/ is more like [æ] and /ɑ/ is more like [ɐ~ä].
  • The diphthongs /ei/ and /ou/ are more centralized, especially in their onsets: [əi~əɨ] and [əu~əʉ].
  • /t/ and /d/ are often realized as [θ] and [ð], except at the start of a word.
  • /w/ becomes [ɹ~ɻ] in all positions, not just intervocalically.
  • /h/ disappears initially and merges with /x/ elsewhere; this creates homophones such as ("than") vs. hoš ("footprint"), and og ("that", to mark subordinate clauses) vs. hog ("gust").
  • /ə/ is slightly fronted and rounded, often as far as [ø~œ], but does not exhibit nearly the degree of allophony found in Jugřé Ewige.
  • The possessive pronouns are suffixed with the adjectival -ře, such as sodaře ("yours"), equivalent to saying "yours-like" or "yours-ish" in English.
  • Double negation is common, with the general negative particle ou coming immediately before the verb.
  • Although Třařé Ewige is also pro-drop and its verbs have polypersonal agreement, subject pronouns are still used with greater frequency than in Jugřé Ewige, but they come at the very end of the sentence, including after any adverbs.
  • Various classes of nouns that are generally inanimate in Jugřé Ewige are animate in Třařé Ewige, such as geographical formations, vehicles, and large plants (mainly trees). A handful of nouns have moved in the opposite direction, being animate in Jugřé but inanimate in Třařé, such as igʼarut ("spider") and idé ("child").
  • The adverb gou ("now") has expanded in use to signify a sort of narrative past or aorist; it immediately follows the verb when used in this sense.
  • The verb gʼombé ("to help") is used as an auxiliary verb in a benefactive sense, such as in the phrase igʼomnor reipé ajoreiko ut "he threw the ball for me", which in Jugřé Ewige would mean "he helped me throw the ball".
  • Possibly influenced by the above, the verb ombé ("to wiggle, to oscillate") is used as an auxiliary verb for groups of two or more actors that are performing an action with one another (as opposed to separately). For example, néjomo jorimé is used to mean "they're arguing with each other", while néjorimy means "they're arguing separately".
  • The future-tense affix is always -sto-; the -dzo- variant that Jugřé Ewige innovated for -me verbs does not exist.
  • The verbalizing suffix -(ó)batpé (from the Russian -ovat) is uncommon; it is normally substituted with simply -(y)přémé.

Grammar

Pronouns

Subject/Object Possessive
English Ewige English Ewige
I my/mine soré
you da your/yours soda
him/her ut his/hers soriot
it ot its sorot
we rin our/ours sorén
you all dyř all of your sodař
they ni their/theirs sonei

Nouns

Ewige nouns are inflected for several grammatical categories:

Gender/Definiteness

∅- (inanimate, indefinite)
a-/er- (inanimate, definite)
i-/ir- (animate, indefinite)
ja-/jer- (animate, definite)

Noun stem (any noun)
Number

-∅ (singular)
-(d)e (plural, for the vast majority of nouns)

Inalienable possession

-(j)yr (my)
-(j)yda (your)
-(j)ei (his, her)
-(j)yt (its)
-(j)yré (our)
-(j)ař (all of your)
-(j)ynei (their)

Verbs

Ewige verbs fall into three different conjugation classes: -me verbs, -be verbs, and -pe verbs. This table lists the affixes that each form takes to mark subject, object, and tense-aspect-mood.

-me -be -pe
Subject "I" é(j)-
"you" dy(j)
"he/she" i(j)-
"it" o(j)-
"we" éř(é)-
"you all" da(j)-
"they" né(j)-
Negation -ó-
Irrealis -ro(v)-
Passive -ké(r)-
Verb root (any verb)
Tense, Aspect, Mood Infinitive -mé -bé -pé
Past -dó -nó -tó
Present -my -(r)o -py
Future -dzo -sto
Imperative -(m/b/p)y (if followed by an object suffix),
-∅ (otherwise)
Object "me" -r
"you" -d -t
"him/her"
"it" -ti
"us" -n
"you all" -dař -tař
"them" -ni
  • The irrealis mood, which is used to indicate the subjunctive or conditional, can only be used with the basic tenses: past, present, and future.

An example of a highly inflected Ewige verb:

éř-ó-ro-ké-dřor-nó-d
1PL.NOM-NEG-SUBJ-guard-PST_bé-2SG.ACC_bé
If we hadn't been protected by you...

Ewige has only eleven basic irregular verbs, although verbs derived from them follow their conjugations, much as the past tense of "to outdo" in English is "outdid". These verbs are only irregular in the past and present; their other inflections are regular. They are listed below in the infinitive, and in the past and present with no conjugation for person and number. They are all fairly common verbs, some of them relating to motion.

English Ewige
Infinitive Past Present
to be jómé -jón -jó
to eat ámé -án -áró
to go šérbé -šédu -šédo
to need rimé -rimu -rimo
to say šémé -sonó -soko
to have otʼamé -otʼou -otʼei
to see otʼépé -otʼó -otʼy
to leave épymé -épion -épio
to run sonémé -sonu -sono
to walk esomé -estu -esto
to swim vobé -vobu -vobo

Adjectives

Adjective inflection is simple: they are inflected for definiteness, animacy, and number using the same affixes nouns are.

Derivation

Ewige makes extensive use of derivation. The following are some common nominalizing prefixes and suffixes, which are attached to the verb root:

Type Affix
Gerund

-zo (for verbs of motion)
-há (for all other verbs)

Gerund, habitual

-sék

Agentive

-gyň (from a word for "friend")

Locational

-ova (from a word for "house")

Patient

žo-

Productive

ano-

The suffix to nominalize adjectives is -(ó)bro, deriving from the word for "color". Conversely, -ře is used to derive adjectives from other parts of speech. A suffix -ry, from the word for "slice", is attached to some nouns with a diminutive meaning, but it is not very productive in the modern language.

Ewige also possesses several affixes to derive verbs from nouns and adjectives:

Meaning Affix
To perform an action related to X -(ó)batpé (from the Russian -ovat)
To turn something into X, or to make it more X -(y)hérbé (from an old word meaning "to transform",
specifically under a magical curse)
To be like X, or to evoke X -(y)přémé (from an old word meaning "to agree with" or "to resemble")
To provide X to someone
(usually, but not always, with a benevolent meaning)
-(y)jápé (from an old word meaning "to allocate")

Compounds

Each noun, verb, or adjective root has a "construct state" that is used to form compounds; this construct state is used for all roots in the compound except the final one. First, any affixes, such as those marking definiteness/animacy or the infinitive, are removed, and then the final consonant of the root is altered according to the following rules:

Final consonant of root... is replaced with...
Voiceless stops -šé(j)
Voiceless fricatives -t
Other final consonants
Root ends in becomes -ež
Root ends in a different vowel Vowel becomes -á(j)

Syntax

Ewige uses the rare verb–object–subject word order. Noun phrases are generally right-branching, with adjectives, numerals, and relative clauses all following the head noun (in that order). However, Ewige uses prepositions rather than postpositions, and determiners precede the head noun. Adverbs are formed by suffixing an adjective (or other part of speech) with -(j)agh, or -ař if the adjective ends in a stop consonant. These adverbs typically come at the end of the sentence.

Other than for verbs, negation is fairly simple. Noun phrases are negated with , which precedes the noun phrase. The general negation particle is ou, which is used to negate every part of speech other than verbs and nouns.

Questions

Ewige possesses the following words to form questions. When applicable, corresponding non-interrogative words are also given. The interrogative words are simply placed where a non-interrogative word would be; there is no do-support as in English.

Interrogative Proximate Distal
English Ewige English Ewige English Ewige
what? hei? this gei that twei
who/whom? hor?
which? hok?
where? heiry? (from hei iry?, literally "what place?") here there twá
when? hou? now gou then tou
why? ha? thus (for this reason) ga thus (for that reason) twa

To form generic equivalents, é- is prefixed to the interrogative forms, such as éhor ("someone").

To turn an entire sentence interrogative, the particle žé is used in the past indicative, while ža is used in every other tense and mood. This particle typically precedes the verb, but it can come anywhere in the sentence.

Sample text

A speech uttered by Boromir in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Original: It is a gift. A gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring? Long has my father, the steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe. Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy; let us use it against him!
Ewige: Ojó jobóno. Jobóno osáň jaboř va Mórdór. Éřóvouro sesbé gei gritʼ ha? Igʼamyni erómode va Mórdór jadřyjyr, é ijó jadřorsék va Góndór, žytař. Nékédřoroni ařyšékʼóre va janarni sorén. Bʼómyti agʼožéde va jaboř osáň Góndór, su ropyn sesbé ot ghog ut!
Gloss: 3SG.INAN.NOM-be.PRES gift. // gift to DEF.AN-foe of Mordor. // 1PL.NOM-NEG-be_able-PRES.bé use_INF this ring why? // 3SG.AN.NOM-push-PRES.mé-3PL.ACC DEF.INAN-force-PL of Mordor DEF.AN-father-1SG.POSS REL 3SG.AN.NOM-be.PRES DEF.AN-protect-AGENT of Gondor far-ADV. // 3PL.NOM-PASS-protect-PRES.bé-3PL.ACC DEF.INAN-land-PL of DEF.AN-person.PL 2SG.POSS with DEF.INAN-blood of DEF.AN-person.PL 1PL.POSS. give-IMP-3SG.INAN.ACC DEF.INAN-weapon of DEF.AN-foe to Gondor and allow-IMP-1PL.ACC use-INF 3SG.INAN against 3SG.AN!