From Linguifex
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Kunarek language (natively: kunarek łegu, pronounced [kuˈnaˌʁɛk ˈɬɛgu]) is an indigenous language spoken in Southern Alaska which is typologically synthetic - between a fusional and a agglutinative language. The language has a synonymous ethnic group and there are approximately 100,000 Kunarek people. Around 70% of this ethnic group speak Kunarek as their first language.

kunarek łegu
Head direction
Initial Mixed Final
Primary word order
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect

Phonology and orthography

See also: IPA for Kunarek


Kunarek has a rather small consonant inventory which comprises of nineteen phonemes. The only phonemes that occur in voiceless-voiced pairs are plosives.

Bilabial Labio-dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k g
Fricative f s ʃ x ʁ h
Lateral fric. ɬ
Approximant l j w

Unlike in English, plosives may never be aspirated and when /h/ is word final it is realised as [x].


Kunarek also has a simple vowel system. There are five vowels, three front and two back. These vowels are never reduced.

Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid o
Open-mid ɛ
Open a


There are sixteen diphthongs in Kunarek. Ten of these are rising and six of these are falling. All vowels can produce rising diphthongs however close vowels cannot produce falling diphthongs.

Rising ja ji jo ju
wa wi wo wu
Falling aj ɛj oj
aw ɛw ow


Since, prior to this, the mapping of phonemes to letters has not been explicitly stated a complete alphabet is provided below:

Letter A a B b D d E e F f G g
IPA /a/ /b/ /d/ /ɛ/ /f/ /g/
Name a be de e ef ge
Letter Ġ ġ H h Ḣ ḣ I i K k L l
IPA /ŋ/ /h/ /x/ /i/ /k/ /l/
Name he ḣe i ke el
Letter Ł ł M m N n O o P p R r
IPA /ɬ/ /m/ /n/ /o/ /p/ /ʁ/
Name em en o pe re
Letter S s Ṡ ṡ T t U u W w Y y
IPA /s/ /ʃ/ /t/ /u/ /w/ /j/
Name es eṡ te u we ye


In Kunarek the possible syllable structures are: V, CV, VC, CCV, CVC, VCC, CCVC, CVCC, CCVCC; where V is any monophthong or diphthong and C is any consonant.

Neither falling diphthongs nor close vowels may be followed by an approximant.

When word internal, two vowels must be separated by a consonant; this may include an approximant that may otherwise form part of a diphthong. For example naya ("flood") is analysed as containing a monophthong followed by a rising diphthong and hence is syllabified as na.ya, [na.ja], rather than nay.a, [naj.a].

In the syllable onset and coda only certain consonant clusters may occur. These consonant clusters are given below with their realisations in IPA.

D d K k L l M m N n P p R r T t W w Y y
B b bl bj
D d dw dj
F f fl fj
G g gl gw gj
K k kl kw kj
P p pl pj
S s sk sl sm sn sp st sw
Ṡ ṡ ʃk ʃl ʃm ʃn ʃp ʃʁ ʃt ʃw
T t tw tj
B b D d F f G g K k P p S s Ṡ ṡ T t
B b bz
D d dz
G g gz
K k ks kt
L l lk ls
M m ɱf mp mz mt
N n nd ŋg ŋk nz nt
P p ps
R r ʁb ʁd ʁf ʁg ʁk ʁp ʁs ʁʃ ʁt
S s sk sp st
Ṡ ṡ ʃk ʃp ʃt
T t ts

Note that these tables include the allophones of the consonants /m/, /n/, /s/ and /ʃ/.

Note also that tt and dd can only occur medially and are not realised as geminates, that is [tː] and [dː], but instead as the lateral affricates [tɬ] and [dɮ] respectively. This is in fact a rare consonant cluster but does, for example, occur in the word gadda [gadɮa] ("gale").

Grammar overview


In Kunarek words are classified by animacy. Animate objects are usually those that are either alive, dead (i.e. were once alive) or something that has the potential for life (e.g. an egg).

Case system

The case system in Kunarek is somewhat similar to that of many Uralic languages, for example Hungarian and Finnish. There are nineteen cases: seven grammatical, four generic and external locative, four internal locative cases and four tangible locative cases. There are also several nouns which have irregular declensions which are derived from four former "aquatic" locative cases.

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns do not differentiate between gender, even for humans, but do specify animacy in the third person. Pronouns also have a dual number which the language has lost elsewhere. Dual and plural first person pronouns come in inclusive and exclusive varieties.


Nouns decline according to case and pluralisation occurs by way of an infix between the nominal root and the ending. For example, łone ("horse") and łonuke ("horses"). The accusative case of animate nouns takes the form of the genitive and for inanimate nouns the accusative resembles the nominative case. If desired, definiteness can be specified by a prefix, akin to the Arabic "ال" ("al-"). This prefix is also used as an emphatic definitive pronoun (i.e. "the very (same)").


Adjectives precede the nouns that they modify and agree with them in case and animacy, but not in number. Comparatives are formed using reduplication and the only form possible is the "superiority" form (i.e. "more..."). Superlatives are formed using a superlative adverb and a comparative adjective.


Adverbs precede the verb to which they apply. Their comparative and superlative degrees are formed in the same way as those of adjectives.


Verbs have nine tenses: four past, one present and four future. There are five aspects in Kunarek which are usually shown by attaching prefixes to the imperfective verb form. However, it is not uncommon for the non-imperfective verbs to differ from the imperfective form in other ways. Kunarek has seven moods which are conveyed by a mixture of conjugation and periphrastic constructions; this is also the case with the five voices. Transitive verbs are made intransitive with an infix that is inserted before infinitive the suffix.


Kunarek uses an octal, base 8, number system which comes from counting the spaces between ones fingers rather than the fingers themselves.

Word order

Word order is generally subject-object-verb and manner-place-time.


So that this conlang be the best I have made so far I have been, steadily but surely, tinkering with it. I have used and adapted features from many languages. The list of conscious influences and languages that I have actively researched to help with Kunarek are listed below. Having said that not all of these languages have necessarily had a visible impact on the language.

  • Arabic
  • Basque
  • Burmese
  • Czech
  • English
  • Esperanto
  • Estonian
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Greenlandic
  • Hungarian
  • Inuktitut
  • Kazakh
  • Makah
  • Manchu
  • Mongolian
  • Nahuatl
  • Ojibwe
  • Portuguese
  • Quechua
  • Russian
  • Swahili
  • Tlingit
  • Tsez
  • Turkish
  • Welsh