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Katafalsen braid-1.png
Pronunciation [kɑˈtɑːfɑlsen]
Created by Resangir
Date 2019
Language family
constructed language
  • artistic language
    • Katäfalsen
Early forms:
  • Old Katäfalsen
    • Katäfalsen
Writing system Latin, Greek, braids
ISO 639-3 None

Katäfalsen (pronunciation: [kɑˈtɑːfɑlsen], alternative spelling: Katã Falsen, short: Katah, [ˈkɑtɑχ]) is an apriori constructed language, which is partially inspired by Basque, Hebrew and Latin. The aim was to construct a language with a phonology practicable for speakers of most European languages along with unorthodox grammar and syntax. Katäfalsen is highly synthetic and features a free word order and ergative-absolutive alignment. Most of the vocabulary is directly derived from Proto-Katäfalsen with a mentionable amount of loanwords from Old Greek.


Analysing the name Katäfalsen already shows many of the language's features and offers therefore an appropriate introduction. Possible English translations are "the water language", "the water languages", "(a) water language" and "water languages" as neither number nor definiteness must be expressed explicitely. The word fales means "tongue" as a body part and is converted into the abstract noun "language" by the suffix -n. Its main function is forming feminine nouns but can also yield abstracta. Here, it triggers metathesis, i.e. alternation of the order of phonemes, and produces the word falsen "language". The word for "water" is kat, which has the stem kata. Since "water language" specifies a certain type of "language", the component "water" is considered to be subordinate and takes a subordinate suffix which lengthens the final vowel in kata to katä. Finally, the two words katä and falsen form the compound Katäfalsen. An acceptable glossing would consequently be:





The water language


External history

Internal history



The consonant phonemes of Modern Katäfalsen are as follows:

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m
Stop voiced b
voiceless p

Fricative f
Approximant r
Lateral approximant l


The vowel inventory of Katäfalsen is quite symmetrical as there are each three front, back, rounded and unrounded vowels.

Front Back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
Close i
Mid e
Open a

The only vowel that distinguishes length is /ɑ/ contrasting phonemically with /ɑː/. The long vowel is represented by ä. The sequences /ɑj/, /ɑw/, /ɑːj/ and /ɑːw/ are realised as diphthongs, while adjacent vowels are usually pronounced in hiatus.


The Latin alphabet used for Katäfalsen therefore contains the following letters. Uppercase letters are used for the first letter of a sentence and proper nouns.

a b d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u w ö ä

Due to the potential to build very long compounds, the Latin orthography has two equivalent ways to write them down. The first one is to simply string the components together (katä + falsen → Katäfalsen) and the second one to put an acute over the last vowel of the first component (katä + falsen → katã falsen). Here, ä and ö with acutes are substituted by ã and õ. Both conventions are often used together within the same text.

At the end of a line, syllabfication using a hyphen (-) is possible at every syllable boundary.


The syllable structure in Katäfalsen is CV(C), where C denotes a consonant and V a vowel. The glottal stop /ʔ/ is only allowed as syllable onset and only intervocalically in hiatus and word initially, i.e. after a break. This is not represented in the orthography.

Metathesis and epenthesis

Metathesis occurs in Katäfalsen when a suffix beginning with a consonant is added to a word. If the word ends with a vowel or diphthong, the morphemes are simply concatenated. The suffix -n, which creates female forms, is used for examples here.

ki + n kin
kaj + n kajn

However, if the word ends with a consonant instead, metathesis of this consonant and the preceding vowel occurs.

fales + n falsen

In words that are either monosyllablic or feature a closed penultimate syllable (although very rare), an epenthetic vowel /ɑ/ is inserted.

sen + n asnen
meslip + n mesalpin

In addition, there is a class of words that ended with /ɑ/ but dropped the ending later. When taking suffixes, this vowel emerges again.

kat + n katan instead of aktan

The epenthetic /ɑ/ occurs also before words which consist of a single consonant and disappears when the word takes suffixes beginning with a vowel.

aj + an jan

Vowel mutation

Old Katäfalsen had the additional phoneme /ħ/, which has disappeared in Modern Katäfalsen but has left still observable effects. We already know that the sequences /ɑj/, /ɑw/, /ɑːj/ and /ɑːw/ yield diphthongs. Moreover, whenever one of the phonemes /j/, /w/ and /ħ/ are syllable codae, they melt into the preceding vowel and cause the mutations summarised in the following table:

/ħ/ /j/ /w/
Nucleus /ɑ/ /ɑː/ /ɑj/ /ɑw/
/e/ /i/ /i/ /ø/
/i/ /i/ /i/ /ø/
/o/ /u/ /ø/ /u/
/u/ /u/ /ø/ /u/
/ɑː/ /ɑː/ /ɑːj/ /ɑːw/
/ø/ /ø/
/ɑj/ /ɑːj/
/ɑw/ /ɑːw/
/ɑːj/ /ɑːj/
/ɑːw/ /ɑːw/

The last five syllable nuclei are never followed by /j/ and /w/ because they solely arise from the mutations above and complex syllable codae are forbidden. When a suffix beginning with a vowel is attached to a word ending with a mutated vowel, the mutation is usually undone.

tö + antojan
ami + anamejan

As already mentioned, the class of words that ended with /ɑ/ in Old Katäfalsen behaves differently:

kat + ankataan [kɑtɑʔɑn]

Double consonants CC were changed to ħC in Old Katäfalsen and also triggered vowel mutation later.

welal + nwilan (via *wellan*weħlan)

In other positions, Old Katäfalsen /ħ/ has merged with /ʔ/. Intervocalically, i.e. syllable initially after a vowel or diphthong, /ħ/ triggered mutation of the preceding vowel in dialects in which /ʔ/ and /ħ/ have both dropped completely.

*meħelmeel [meʔel] or dialectally miel [mi.el]


Katäfalsen features a dynamic stress. In contrast to compounds, the stress in simple words is always initial: katä and falsen are pronounced [ˈkɑtɑː] and [ˈfɑlsen]. In compounds, the stresses of words attached to the right are pulled to the previous syllable, thus the last syllable of the preceding word component. The last stressed syllable in a compound is the heaviest one. Therefore other stresses (including the initial stress on the first word component) are analysed as secondary stresses. If several stressed syllables are in a row, the rightmost is most dominant and the other ones are negligible. To come back to the example above, the compound Katäfalsen is finally pronounced [kɑˈtɑːfɑlsen] with the shifted stress of the second component being more dominant than the initial stress of the first one.

Further examples (the stressed syllables are in bold):

  • kaj-sen: The stress of the last component is shifted to the previous syllable.
  • kaj-sen-kat: The rightmost stressed syllable is most dominant.
  • mesalpi-sedar: The initial syllable of the first component receives a secondary stress.
  • a-mesalpi-sedar: The stress on the second syllable is heavier than the one on the first syllable.

Phonetic remarks

Vowel chart of a standard urban Katäfalsen accent

The actual phonetic realisation of the phonemes depends a lot on the speaker's sociolect and also on the setting of speech. For example, a standard speaker would imitate a higher sociolect when talking to a dignitary and a lower one when talking to inferiors. Two extremes of the possible realisations are the religious and rural accents. The urban accent is considered standard.

Regarding vowels, the differences between the accents are marginal except for /ɑː/. /e/ and /o/ are consistently mid front unrounded and mid back rounded vowels, i.e. more precisely [e̞] and [o̞]. /i/ and /u/ tend to be slightly more open in rural accents ([ɪ] and [ʊ]) in contrast to [i] and [u] in religious accents, with the standard accent being somewhere in between. While /ɑ/ is quite consistently [ɑ], the length contrast to /ɑː/ has only survived in higher sociolects. In rural accents /ɑː/ has been fronted to [æ]. /ø/ varies between the mid front rounded [ø̞] in higher and the mid central rounded [ɵ̞] in lower sociolects.

Phonemes that are pronouned in each accent exactly like their symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet are /b/, /d/, /g/, /m/, /n/, /j/, /w/ and /f/. The voiceless plosives /p/, /t/ and /k/ can be slightly aspirated in all accents. /h/ is usually the voiceless uvular fricative [χ]. /s/ is both in higher and urban sociolects [s] but [ʃ] in rural accents, which gives them a much softer sound. Being an alveolar approximant [ɹ] in the standard accent, /ɹ/ is tapped in rural as well as religious accents, i.e. [ɾ]. /l/ is usually velarised in religious accents ([ɫ]). An unmistakable indicator of the speaker's sociolect is the realisation of /ʔ/: In higher sociolects, the differentiation between /ʔ/ and /ħ/ is still prominent, with the pronunciation of the latter being [ħ]~[h]. Complete deletion of /ʔ/ occurs in lower sociolects, in this case disappearing /ħ/ triggers vowel mutation as mentioned in Vowel mutation.

Under the influence of voiced sounds and intervocalically , the voiceless fricatives /f/, /s/ and /x/ might be voiced to [v], [z] and [ʁ] by some speakers, e.g. Katäfalsen [kɑˈtɑːfɑlzen]. When at word boundaries or in compounds geminated consonants occur, they are usually pronounced as long consonants, except in very careful speech where the first consonant is terminated audibly. Within a word, geminates are deleted as described in Vowel mutation.




Nouns are declined in four cases, which are found in a subordinate and a coordinate form each. The total number of cases is therefore eight. The case suffixes and their exemplary application to the noun fales (tongue) are given in the following table:

Coordinate Subordinate
Suffix Example Suffix Example
Absolutive fales falsi
Dative a falesa ä falesä
Locative e falese i falesi
Ablative o faleso u falesu

The glossing abbreviations used here are abs, dat, loc, abl, abs.sr, dat.sr, loc.sr and abl.sr. A selection of the most important usages of the cases locative, dative and ablative is given below. The subordinate forms will be gone into in the section Coordination and subordination.

  • Dative: recipient or affected; where to; beneficiary
  • Locative: place where, time when; accompaniment
  • Ablative: where from; means or topic; cause, reason or value

Some nouns undergo irregularities such as vowel changes when taking the case suffixes. Their origin is explained in Old Katäfalsen.

peres + eparese
kat + ekataj


Most Katäfalsen postposition can be treated as separate words and form (subordinate) compounds with the noun they refer to. The meaning of a postposition may change depending on its and the noun's case suffixes, while the noun always needs to be in the subordinate form. Examples:

  • katätoni: katä-toni, water.abs.sr-middle.loc, 'in the middle of the sea'
  • parsitamali: parsi-tamali, man.abs.sr-thought.loc, 'regarding the man'


Katäfalsen has two personal pronouns, which like nouns do not differ in number intrinsically:

  • aj I, we (from /j/ talking an epenthetic /ɑ/)
  • aw you (from /w/ talking an epenthetic /ɑ/)

The subordinate forms are according the the rules given in Metathesis and epenthesis ajä and awä. The English third-person pronouns he, she, it, they are expressed by one of the demonstrative pronouns:

  • ha and es refer to things or persons which are further specified in different ways:
    • ha: The specification happens by describing the thing or person.
    • es: The specification happens physically, i.e. there is a sensory perception.
  • haj: Refers to things or persons close to the speaker.
  • haw: Refers to things or persons away from the speaker but close to the listener.
  • ä (from /ħ/ talking an epenthetic /ɑ/): Refers to things or persons away from both speaker and listener.

The subordinate form of ä is as ä is analysed as /ɑħ/ and has evolved /ɑħ/ + /ħ/ > /ɑħɑħ/ > /ɑʔɑː/.

Apparently, the phonemes /j/, /w/ and /ħ/ are connected to deixis in the first, second and third person. This recurs at other words such as adverbs that feature deixis. For example, from the word mo time are derived:

  • moje: mo-j-e, place-1-loc, 'now'
  • mowe: mo-w-e, place-2-loc, 'whenever (you like)'
  • moe: mo-∅-e, place-3-loc, 'then'

Derivational suffixes


Coordination and subordination



Greek script

During the cultural contact with the Greeks, the Greek alphabet was adopted to write down Katäfalsen. Before that, the braid alphabet was the only script, which however was inappropriate for longer texts and also could not be used for inscriptions. The script contains three archaic letters: Ϙ, Ͱ and Ϝ. Apart from the letter Ϙ, the Latin script used in this article is an exact transliteration. This script is written from left to right and does not have case.

Latin script Greek script Notes
a Α
b Β
d Δ
e Ε
f Φ
g Γ
h Χ
Ϙ /ʔ/ when it comes from Old Katäfalsen /ħ/.
The Greeks originally used Ϙ for a back allophone of /k/.
i Ι
j Ͱ A variation of either Iota (Ι) or Eta (Η).
Compare Boeotian raised E.
k Κ
l Λ
m Μ
n Ν
o Ο
p Π
r Ρ
s Σ
t Τ
u Υ
w Ϝ Stood for /w/ in archaic Greek alphabets.
ö Ω
ä Η

Braid script

Letters and fillers

The braid s1s2s3s4 consisting of the four elementary braids

The highly complex braid alphabet is the oldest of the scripts used for Katäfalsen. It consists of letters, i.e. patterns that correspond to phonemes, and fillers, which must be inserted between certain letters following strict rules in order to ensure that the braid is unambiguous. The Greek script and the derived Latin transliteration differ from the braid script quite much regarding how vowels are represented. Disadvantages of the braid script are beside the large required space that it cannot represent spaces and is hard to be read. While the Greek alphabet can be used for extensive inscriptions, the main applications of the braid script are ritual. A common material used for braiding is human hair with many people having their names braided into their hair. By connecting start and end of a braid and thereby closing it, a so-called link and in some cases even a knot results. The complicated exercise to interpret names by comparing their links to other words yielding the same link is practised by wise men.

The script uses five strands, which will be pictured vertically and numbered from left to right in this article. Four crossings of adjacent strands are possible, these elementary braids will be named s1, s2, s3 and s4. It is important that the left strand in such crossings does always cross over the right one. The letter patterns are concatenations of elementary braids as summarised in the following table:

Representation Transliteration Initial set Final set
s1 j {1} {1}
s2 w {2} {2}
s3 ħ {3} {3}
s4 ʔ {4} {4}
s1s3 p {1, 3} {1, 3}
s1s4 t {1, 4} {1, 4}
s2s4 k {2, 4} {2, 4}
s1s2s1 b {1, 2} {1, 2}
s2s3s2 d {2, 3} {2, 3}
s3s4s3 g {3, 4} {3, 4}
s1s3s1s3 f {1, 3} {1, 3}
s1s4s1s4 s {1, 4} {1, 4}
s2s4s2s4 h {2, 4} {2, 4}
s1s3s2 n {1, 3} {2}
s2s4s3 m {2, 4} {3}
s4s1s3s2 r {1, 4} {2}
s1s2s4s3 l {1, 4} {3}

In order to make the writing unambiguous, the initial set of a letter must always be contained in the final set of its precursor. For example, tj or s1s4s1 is allowed since {1}, the initial set of the second letter is contained in the final set of the first letter, {1, 4}. But in reverse order, jt is forbidden since {1, 4} is not contained in {1}. This issue must be fixed using fillers between the letters. In many situations, different fillers are possible, the following table provides the most commonly used.

Final sets
{1} {2} {3} {4}
Initial sets {1} s2s1 s3s2s1 s4s3s2s1
{2} s1s2 s3s2 s4s3s2
{3} s1s2s3 s2s3 s4s3
{4} s1s2s3s4 s2s3s4 s3s4
{1, 2} s1s2s2s1s3s1s3s2s1 s2s1s3s1s3s2s1 s3s2s2s1s3s1s3s2s1 s4s3s2s2s1s3s1s3s2s1
{1, 3}
{1, 4}
{2, 3}
{2, 4}
{3, 4}

As already mentioned, the script cannot represent spaces. This was however never a problem because compounds can carry a lot of information in Katäfalsen and the script's usage was restristed to mostly religious and ritual ornamentations. There are a few systematic deviations from the Greek and Latin scripts, which indicates that the braid script was developed during an earlier stage of the language.

  • The vowels a, e and o are written with the same patterns as ħ, j and w.
  • The vowels ä, i, u and ö are written as pairs. Here, a possible synthesis of these vowels in Vowel mutation is regarded. Otherwise, genimation is favoured.
    • ħħ corresponds to the long vowel ä.
    • jj and correspond to i.
    • ww and correspond to u.
    • wj and jw correspond to ö.
  • /ʔ/ is allways represented in the orthography. Thereby, for example ħħ "ä" and ħʔħ "aa" are distinguished.
  • Whenever /ʔ/ comes from /ħ/, the pattern for ħ is used.
  • The patterns for f, s and h are the double patterns of p, t and k.

Mathematical background


Historical soundshifts

The majority of Katäfalsen's vocabulary is derived directly from Old Katäfalsen. While the consonants underwent only marginal changes, the vowel system changed substantially. The phonemes of Old Katäfalsen are:


Labial Alveolar Velar
Nasal m
Stop voiced b
voiceless p
Fricative f
Approximant r
Lateral approximant l


Front Central Back
Short Long Short Long
Close i
Mid e
Open a

The syllable structure was a strict (C)(G)V, where C denotes a consonant, G one of the non-syllabic vowels /a̯/, /i̯/ and /u̯/ and V a vowel. Every word had exactly one unpredictably stressed syllable with the exception of a couple of stressless clitics.

Most syllables had one of the vowels /i/, /u/ and /ə/. Syllables containing one of the other mid vowels showed the following ablaut scheme:

Full grade Ē-grade Ō-grade
/e/ or /o/ /eː/ /oː/
ˈperisə ˈpērisə ˈpōrisə

A noun could have at most one syllable with ablaut. This lexical ablaut is no longer productive in Katäfalsen but was in Old Katafalsen.

The sound changes from Old Katäfalsen to Katäfalsen happened in two stages. During the first stage, the morphology and some phonological features of modern Katäfalsen like metathesis and epenthesis were not developed yet. After the development, a second row of sound changes occured, which led to the situation described in Phonology.

First stage

  • Insertion of /ʔ/ if syllable onset is empty
  • Reduction of word-final vowels
    • In unstressed final syllables: V → ∅
    • In unstressed final syllables with a non-syllabic vowel: (C)i̯V → (C)i, (C)u̯V → (C)u, (C)a̯V → (C)a
    • In stressed final syllables: V → a
  • Loss of non-syllabic vowels
    • As syllable onsets: a̯ → ħ, i̯ → j, u̯ → w
    • After a consonant before ə: Ca̯ə → Ca, Ci̯ə → Ci, Cu̯ə → Cu
    • After a consonant in an unstressed syllable: Ca̯V → CəħV, Ci̯V → CəjV, Cu̯V → CəwV
    • After a consonant in a stressed syllable: Ca̯V → CVˈħV, Ci̯V → CVˈjV, Cu̯V → CVˈwV
  • Vowel changes (and loss of stress)
    • In unstressed syllables: ə → a, i → e, u → o, a → a, e → a, o → a, ē → e, ō → o
    • In stressed syllables: ə → a, i → i, u → u, a → ä, e → e, o → o, ē → i, ō → u
    • Exception: Word-final a → a (from vowel reduction)

Second stage

  • Deletion of word-final a
  • Word-final: ä → a, i → e, u → o by analogy (analysed as /aːʔ/, etc.)
  • Vocalisation of coda approximants (summarised in Sound changes)

Now the irregularities mentioned in Declension can be fully explained. Old Katäfalsen marked the four cases absolutive, locative, dative and ablative by the infixes -∅-, -i̯-, -a̯- and -u̯- in the last syllable of a word. The infixes attract stress and thereby cause vowel changes. In the following table the evolution of characteristic examples is given:

Old Katäfalsen ˈperisa 'man' kaˈtu 'water' ˈtia 'animal' ˈku̯oru 'war'
Absolutive Locative Absolutive Locative Absolutive Locative Absolutive Locative
Sound changes ˈperisa
→ ˈperis
→ peres
→ periˈsi
→ paresi
→ parese
→ kaˈta
→ kata
→ kaˈti̯a
→ kataˈja
→ kataja
→ kataj
→ ˈtiʔa
→ ˈti
→ ti
→ te
→ tiˈja
→ teja
→ tej
→ ti
→ ˈku̯or
→ koˈwor
→ kawur
→ ku̯əˈri
→ kuˈri
→ kori
→ kore
Modern Katäfalsen peres parese kata kataj te ti kawur kore

Declension paradigms


Greek loanwords