From Linguifex
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Hadza language.
Pronunciation /ˈhant͡sa/
Created by
Spoken natively in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan
Region Central Asia
Ethnicity Hantza
Native speakers 161,000  (2010)
Language family
Writing system Hantza alphabet (Latin script)
ISO 639-3 htz

Hantza is (pronounced natively as /ˈhant͡sa/, phonetically [ˈx̟änt͡sɐ] and is Anglicised to /ˈhænt͡sə/) is spoken in Central Asia by more than 160,00 people. The language is used vigorously and enthusiastically by its speakers and is passed on to child who are often monolingual. Adults may also speak Turkmen, Uzbek, Pashto or Dari. The language is not known to be related to any other extant language and is therefore categorised as an isolate. It is spoken predominantly in Turkmenistan (91,000 speakers), but also in Uzbekistan (43,000) and Afghanistan (27,000).

Map of the distribution of Hantza
Hantza distribution.png

The areas marked in red on the map above represent the approximate regions in which Hantza is spoken.


See also: IPA for Hantza and Hantza phonology


There are eighteen consonant phonemes in Hantza.

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k ʔ
Fricative f s h
Affricate t͡s d͡z
Approx. j w
Liquid r l


Hantza's vowel inventory is a simple five-vowel system, similar to that of many modern languages, such as Greek and Swahili. Vowel length is not phonemic in Hantza and there are no diphthongs.

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Main article: Hantza alphabet

With the exception of those listed below, all consonant and vowel phonemes are represented orthographically as in IPA.

  • /ŋ/ is written <ng>
  • /ts/ is written <tz>
  • /dz/ is written <zz>
  • /j/ is written <y>
  • /ʔ/ is represented by a grave accent on the preceding vowel


  • The basic phonotactic template is (C)(C)V(C)
  • Word-initial consonants: only /dz/ is disallowed
  • Permitted word-initial clusters: /p, b, t, d, k/ + /j, w/, /p, t, k/ + /r/ or /s/ + /p, t, k/
  • Permitted word-final consonants: /m, n, ŋ, p, b, t, d, k, ʔ, s, ts, r, l/
  • Word-final clusters: none allowed
  • Word-final and word-initial vowels: all are allowed
  • Medial clusters: any combination involving /dz/ is not permitted
  • /ʔ/ can only occur syllable-finally, but not inter-vocalically, and is most common word-finally

Morphophonological processes

  • Reduplication
  • Metathesis
  • Assimilation/dissimilation
  • Elision/epenthesis
  • Lenition/fortition

Common processes:

  • -tit- > -tz-
  • biy- + i- > bi-
  • -` > -k- when a suffix is added that begins with a vowel
  • o-, u- > w- when added to a word that begins with a vowel
  • e-, i- > y- when added to a word that begins with a vowel
  • a- > h- when added to a word that begins with a vowel
  • Metathesis of P+ NV > NPV, e.g. reporatative + negative: -kap- + -mò = -kampò
  • Across vocalic word boundaries the semi-vowels /j/ and /w/ may be introduced


Main article: Hantza prosody


The primary stress of a word falls on the penultimate syllable of the root. Secondary normally falls on the preceding syllable. In disyllabic words the secondary stress is necessarily on the second syllable.

Stress is not distinctive and is also relatively weak, unlike that of, for example, Russian. It is not indicated in the orthography.


Hantza is a syllable-timed language, that is to say that the duration of every syllable is equal.


Intonation is the variation pitch indicating the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, signalling the difference between statements and questions, between different types of question, focusing attention on important elements speech and helping to regulate conversational interaction.


  • Morphology: heavy on the verbal morphology, minimal on the nominal
  • Morphosyntactic alignment: nom-acc?
  • Agency, animacy
  • No gender
  • Verbs: polypersonal agreement
  • No case marking
  • Relational nouns?
  • Inalienable possession, possessive prefixes
  • Plurals only for animates
  • Default word order: VSO
  • Non-configurational (new news before the verb (often definite), old news after the verb (often indefinite))
  • Topic-comment/thème-rhème & focus
  • Head-marking
  • Infixes?


Broadly speaking, there are three parts of speech in Hantza: nouns, verbs and particles.


Main article: Hantza nouns

The category of "noun" (more properly "nominal") in Hantza encompasses what are thought of in English as nouns, attributive adjectives, pronouns and numerals. What correspond to adjectives in English are essentially nouns used in apposition.

Nouns are not marked for case and it is usually only animate nouns that are inflected for plurality. However, nouns are inflected for possession by prefixing. Indeed, in some cases this is mandatory (see possession).

Some nouns are in fact verb phrases that have been nominalised by way of an enclitic.

Infixes are sometimes used to derive adjective-like nouns from noun-like nouns, e.g. "sandy" from "sand".


Main article: Hantza verbs

The term "verb" in Hantza also includes predicative adjectives. Predicative adjectives are essentially verbalised nouns.

The verb paradigm is Hantza is heavily prefixing; these prefixes come in a strict order. Hantza verbs exhibit polypersonal agreement, as such they are conjugated for subject, direct object and indirect object. As a result Hantza is pro-drop language. Only the grammatical persons that are used with animate nouns distinguish plural from singular.

Grammatical tense is not a significant category in Hantza verbs (though there is an overt morphological future/non-future distinction). Verbs are instead aspect and mood heavy. This conflation is termed called "mode" in Hantza; there are thirteen modes.

Hantza is extremely fastidious regarding the transitivity and valency of a verb and its required prefixes.

The mediopassive voice is formed by an infix inserted in the verb stem.

Negativity and evidentiality are marked on the verb by suffixes.


Main article: Hantza particles

Adverbs, postpositions, interrogatives, demonstratives, conjunctions and interjections come under "particles".

There is a three-way distance distinction in Hantza demonstratives: proximal, distal and obviative.

No indefinite article; invariable definite article: do.

Syntax and discourse

Main article: Hantza syntax
  • Animacy and agency
  • Definiteness
  • Focus and topic (thème/rhème)
  • Relative clauses
  • Subordination and coordination
  • Discourse particles

Word order

  • Default word order: VSO
  • Non-configurational (new news before the verb (often definite)?, old news after the verb (often indefinite)?)


Anaphora, cataphora and deixis.

The obviative is used to discuss something that is either not present or not at the centre of the discourse.

Derivational morphology

Main article: Hantza derivational morphology


Example texts

Short examples and sentences:

The Hantza Language (VTE)
Orthography Hantza alphabet (Latin script)
Phonology IPA for HantzaPhonologyProsody
Grammar NounsNumeralsVerbsParticlesSyntaxDerivational morphology
Vocabulary Basic phrasesKinshipSwadesh list
Texts Test Case SentencesThe North Wind and the SunThe Lord's PrayerThe Tower of Babel
Other DialectsEthnologyDemography