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Created byGary Taylor-Raebel
SettingKumla Planet
Native speakersc3000 (157 AC (After Colonisation))
  • Mila
Early form

Mila is the language spoken by colonists on the planet Kumla. It is descended from, and mutually comprehensible with the constructed language, Proto-Mila, as spoken on the home planet of Kumja. It has about 3000 speakers living in five settlements spread along the Siska River. There are slight dialectal differences between each settlement, though these too are all mutually comprehensible.



Mila is the language spoken by the lula on the planet Kukca. The lula came originally from a technologically advanced home planet. The planet Kukca had been terraformed many million years previously and was deemed ripe for colonisation. The exact reason for the planet to have been colonised has become unclear with time and there are a number of theories, some more sinister than others. It seems the colonists were sent under the pretext that they would be repairing an on-planet communication system (in the form of a pyramid), but were not told that they would subsequently become colonists, (it has been discovered that finding willing volunteers is a far from easy task and the home planet necessarily resorted to tricks to send colonists). The colonists had been genetically altered from before birth to thrive on the planet, based on readings sent from the communication towers.

Other planets which have been previously terraformed have become 'zoos' which may be occasionally visited (our own Earth is one such planet), holiday destinations or like this one colonies, and partly as an elaborate social experiment from the home planet to see how lula can cope. The colonists first arrived about 150 years previous to the language as described here is spoken. On colonisation the language was completely regular having been the main constructed lingua franca of the home planet.


The original aim of Mila was not to create a whole language fitting into a constructed world, but rather a way to experiment with language change. I wanted to create a language with a simple phonological system and phonotactics which may be manipulated to explore how language can change and to test certain linguistic hypotheses, historical phonology being my main area of interest. I soon discovered though that it would be a good chance to improve my knowledge of other areas of linguistics and it has inevitably developed into a full language. I didn't want at an early stage to deal with loan words which is why I felt it necessary to have the language in complete isolation and a constructed world has thus also been created. With a constructed world and culture it brings with it all the problems of translations from Earth-based languages. How does one translate 'dog', for example? Mila does have a word for 'dog' but it should be understood as a dog-like creature, as opposed to an actual dog. As such the goals of the language have somewhat drifted, now focussing on a realistic setting for the language, though development of the language into separate daughter languages is also an ultimate goal.


As mentioned the sound system is very simple consisting of 11 consonants and two (or three) vowels depending on the phonological analysis. Commonly found consonants have been chosen, with the possible exception of palatal stops. There is a high and a low vowel, the high one being allophonically predictable based on the following consonant, although there are irregularities in both the consonant and vowel systems because of loan-developments from separate dialects and phonological processes and shortenings. I've tried to push myself with the grammar to make it as un-European as I could, but it is after all a language and as such will have certain similarities to other languages, although these similarities were not a conscious decision.


The lula who first inhabited the planet were raised by scientists in isolation, a necessity as they had been genetically modified to cope with the planet's climate (which is much hotter than the home planet) and air (which is richer in oxygen than the home planet). The scientists, being from an international background, spoke the home planet's lingua franca, which is itself a constructed language, based on many of the home planet's language families. The original Mila (meaning simply 'language') was therefore completely regular. In the 150 years since colonisation the original population of 56 has risen to a few thousand (they breed quickly) and the language is now the everyday mother-tongue of the speakers, a situation which has never occurred on the home planet, such that Mila on the home planet has changed little in years having been constantly monitored by language purists. As a mother-tongue, though, the language has undergone a number of changes, and irregularities have crept in, most notably in the phonology, shortenings of pronouns and semantic shifts.


The Mila phonological system consists of 11, 14 or 15 consonants and two or three vowels, depending on the analysis as shall be described below.


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p   (b) t   (d) c   (ɟ) k   (ɡ)
Nasal       m       n
Fricative s   (z) h
Trill       r
Approximant       j
Lateral (velarised)       ɫ

Notes on the consonants:

Voiceless Plosives

/p/ This is a bilabial voiceless stop [p]. It is unaspirated with voicing occurring very shortly after its release. It may occur in onset and coda position. In coda position before a following consonant it is unreleased with the release occurring on the following onset consonant. Phrase finally it is usually unreleased but this varies by speaker. Examples: oωɾ /ʹpinda/ [ʹpindɐ] many; coo /ʹsupa/ [ʹsupɐ] same; ooɔ /ʹpupka/ [ʹpup˺ka] sick; υυó /luʹlap/ [ɫuʹɫap˺ ~ ɫuʹɫap] I.3.

/t/ This is an alveolar voiceless stop [t]. There is some speaker variation as to its exact production. Women generally produce this sound apically whereas men have a tendency to produce this laminally, [t̻]. When it is produced laminally is may be slightly affricated as [t̻s] in pre-stressed position though affrication does not occur elsewhere. It is unaspirated with voicing occurring very shortly after its release. It may occur in onset and coda position. In coda position before a following consonant it is unreleased with the release occurring on the following onset consonant. Phrase finally it is usually unreleased but this varies by speaker. Examples: ɾɾυ /ʹtidla/ [ʹtidɫɐ ~ ʹt̻idɫɐ ~ ʹt̻sidɫɐ] coin; oɾɾ /ʹpita/ [ʹpitɐ ~ ʹpit̻a] to crave; oɾɔ /ʹpitka/ [ʹpit˺kɐ ~ ʹpit̻˺kɐ] already; ɾ́ɾɾ /at/ [ɐt˺ ~ ɐt̻˺ ~ ɐt ~ ɐt̻] it.present.1.

/c/ This is generally described as a palatal voiceless stop [c] though there is allophonic variation as well as speaker variation. Allophonically this becomes [c̠] when followed by a non-front vowel, so when followed by /a/ or /u/. Many speakers also slightly affricate this sound to [cç ~ c̠ç̠] in pre-stress position. The pronunciation [ç] may also be heard in any position but is generally stigmatised. It is unaspirated with voicing occurring very shortly after its release. It may occur in onset and coda position. In coda position before a following consonant it is unreleased with the release occurring on the following onset consonant. Phrase finally it is usually unreleased but this varies by speaker. Examples: nɾʌ /ʹcidra/ [cidɾɐ ~ cçidɾɐ ~ çidɾɐ] red; nιo /ʹcuhpa/ [c̠uhpɐ ~ c̠çuhpɐ ~ çuhpa] big; ιnn /ʹhica/ [ʹhic̠ɐ] late; υnn:n /ʹlicic/ [ʹɫicic˺ ~ ɫicic ~ ʹɫiçiç] baby-sub; υnɾ /ʹlicta/ [ʹɫic˺tɐ ~ ʹɫic˺t̻ɐ] arm.

/k/ This is generally described as a velar voiceless stop [k] though there is allophonic variation. This sound becomes [k̟] allophonically before the front vowel /i/ and as such it forms a near merger with [c̠] mentioned above, though the two sounds occur in different environments and are recoverable if the following vowel is altered. It may occur in onset and coda position. In coda position before a following consonant it is unreleased with the release occurring on the following onset consonant. Phrase finally it is usually unreleased but this varies by speaker. Examples: ɔʌυ /ʹkila/ [ʹk̟iɫɐ] abyss; ɔυɔ /ʹkuga/ [ʹkugɐ] wall; ɔɔɔ /ʹkuka/ [kukɐ] earth; ɔɔɔ:ω /ʹkukin/ [ʹkuk̟in] earth-adj; ɔιɔ /kuʹhak/ [kuʹhak˺ ~ kuʹhak] gold.3.

Voiced Plosives

The voiced plosives are only marginally phonemic. In the earliest forms of Mila if a voiceless plosive and /s/ is preceded and followed by voiced sounds within the same word then the plosive will become voiced. As such voiced plosives were formerly only allophones of the voiceless plosives. Some language changes have occurred such that pronouns (and in one case a suffix) are shortened in common speech which has meant that voiced plosives now occur word initially in a limited number of words and [d] may occur word finally in words with the suffix :υɾ [-ud]. Also degemination has meant that former voiceless geminates are now simplex voiceless sounds which appear intervocalically, so in a position which previously triggered voicing. Their distribution is however very limited so can at best only be described as marginally phonemic. The Mila orthography does not have separate symbols for these sounds although the Romanisation does indicate them. Mila scholars therefore enjoy debating the status of these sounds, with purists denying their existence and looking at the phonology from a historic perspective, with progressives accepting them.

/b/ This is the voiced equivalent of /p/. It is a voiced bilabial stop [b]. It occurs marginally in initial position in unstressed shortened versions of some pronouns and is also possible in loan words which begin with a voiced bilabial. In this position voicing starts prior to the stop closure and manifests itself as prenasalisation. Its usual position is intervocalically or in a voiced environment and as such historically was an allophone of /p/ but degemination and shortenings have allowed for its phonemic status. It never occurs in word final position. Examples: ooó /ba/ [mbɐ] it.absent.3; υoʌ /ʹlubra/ [ʹɫubɾɐ] enemy; υυo /ʹluba/ [ʹɫubɐ] I.

/d/ This is a voiced alveolar stop [d]. It does not display the speaker variation present for /t/ so may not be produced laminally and it also therefore resists affrication. As it has historically evolved from an allophone of /t/ its environments are more restricted than the voiceless stops. It may occur initially in unstressed shortened versions of some pronouns and is also possible in loan word which begin with a voiced alveolar. In this position voicing starts prior to the stop closure and manifests itself as prenasalisation. Its usual position is intervocalically or in a voiced environment. It may also occur in coda position in the isolated ending :υɾ /-ud/ doer. In coda position it is usually unreleased but this varies by speaker. Examples: ɾɾɾ́ /da/ [ndɐ] it.present.3; υɾω /ʹlidna/ [ʹɫidnɐ] group; υʌɾ /ʹlida/ [ʹɫidɐ] boy; ɔυo:υɾ /ʹkubud/ [ʹkubud˺ ~ ʹkubud] supporter.

/ɟ/ This is generally a voiced palatal stop [ɟ] but it shows allophonic as well as speaker variation in much the same way as /c/. Allophonically this becomes [ɟ-] when followed by a non-front vowel, so when followed by /a/ or /u/. Many speakers also slightly affricate this sound to [ɟʝ ~ ɟ-ʝ] in pre-stress position. The pronunciation [ʝ] may also be heard in any position but is generally stigmatised. It may occur initially in unstressed shortened versions of some pronouns and is also possible in loan word which begin with a voiced palatal. In this position voicing starts prior to the stop closure and manifests itself as prenasalisation. Its usual position is intervocalically or in a voiced environment and as such historically was an allophone of /c/ but degemination and shortenings have allowed for its phonemic status. It never occurs in word-final position. Examples: nnń /ɟa/ [ɲɟ-ɐ] it.visible.3; υωn:ω /ʹlinɟin/ [ʹlinɟin] south-adj; ιnυ /hiɟla/ [hiɟlɐ] empty; ɔʌn /ʹkiɟa/ [ʹk̟iɟ-ɐ] anvil; ɔʌv:ω /ʹkiɟin/ [ʹkiɟin] anvil-adj.

/ɡ/ This is a voiced velar stop [ɡ] which has allophonic variation in much the same way as /k/. This sound becomes [ɡ+] allophonically before the front vowel /i/ and as such it forms a near merger with [ɟ-] mentioned above, though the two sounds occur in different environments and are recoverable if the following vowel is altered. It does not occur in initial position. Its usual position is intervocalically or in a voiced environment and as such historically was an allophone of /k/ but degemination has allowed for its phonemic status. It never occurs in word final position. Examples: vɔɷ /ʹjugma/ [ʹjugmɐ] beech; ɔυɔ /ʹkuga/ [ʹkugɐ] wall; ɔυɔ:ω /ʹkugin/ [ʹkug+in] wall-adj.


/m/ This is the voiced bilabial nasal [m]. It becomes slightly devoiced when preceded or followed by /h/, but it is not fully devoiced. It may occur in both onset and coda position. Examples: ɷɷɷ /ʹmuma/ [ʹmumɐ] mouth; vɷι /ʹjumha/ [ʹjumhɐ ~ ʹjum̥hɐ] bread; vιɷ́ /juʹham/ [juʹham] egg.3.

/n/ This is the voiced alveolar nasal [n]. It becomes slightly devoiced when preceded or followed by /h/, but it is not fully devoiced. It may occur in both onset and coda position. In the standard language, unlike in many other languages, it does not assimilate for place of articulation when followed by non-alveolar consonants. Examples: ωωω /ʹnina/ [ʹninɐ] smell; ɔιω /ʹkuhna/ [ʹkuhnɐ ~ ʹkuhn̥ɐ] to jump; ɷωo /ʹminba/ [ʹminbɐ] tale; ɷɾώ /miʹdan/ [miʹdan] tongue.3.


/s/ This is the voiceless alveolar fricative [s]. There is some speaker variation as to its exact production. Women generally produce this sound apically with some retraction [s̺] whereas men generally produce this laminally, [s]. It may occur in onset or coda position. Examples: ccc /ʹsisa/ [ʹsisɐ ~ s̺is̺a] liquid; ɷcn /ʹmisca/ [ʹmisc̠a ~ ʹmis̺ca] spit; ɔoυ:c /ʹkublis/ [ʹkubɫis ~ ʹkubɫis̺] again.

/h/ This is the voiceless glottal fricative [h]. It remains voiceless in all positions, including intervocalically. It may occur in onset and coda position. Examples: ιιι /ʹhuha/ [ʹhuhɐ] air; vɷί /juʹmah/ [juʹmah] bread.3.

/z/ This is the voiced alveolar fricative [z]. There is some speaker variation as to its exact production. Women generally produce this sound apically with some retraction [z̺] whereas men generally produce this laminally, [z]. It may only occur in voiced positions, so intervocalically and between a vowel and a voiced sound and as such may usually be treated as an allophone of /s/, but degemination and loss of coda /r/ and /l/ followed by /s/, which is allophonically [z], have altered its status slightly, though it is less phonemic than the voiced stops as it has not resulted from pronoun shortenings. It does not occur in final position. It is shown in Romanisations as 'z'. Example: ɔcʌ /ʹkizra/ [k̟izɾɐ ~ k̟iz̺ɾɐ] cliff.

Liquids and Approximants

/r/ This is a voiced alveolar trill [r]. In initial pre-stressed position and intervocalically following main stress it usually has at least two taps in all other positions it is more commonly a voiced flap [ɾ]. In the environment of an adjacent /h/ it will be slightly devoiced, though not fully so. Examples: ʌʌʌ /ʹrira/ [ʹrirɐ] noise; oʌ́ω /ʹparna/ [ʹpaɾnɐ] bad.2; υιʌ /ʹluhra/ [ʹɫuhɾɐ ~ ɫuhɾ̥ɐ] father; υιʌ́ /luʹhar/ [ɫuʹhaɾ] father.3.

This trilled sound is notoriously difficult for many lula to produce and often becomes other sounds, which would usually be classed as speech defects. One very common ‘speech defect’ is to produce this sound as a ‘whistled s’, i.e. an apical retracted [s̺̱] which sounds a little like a kettle boiling. Another common pronunciation is to produce the trill as an apical voiced fricative [z̺]. The flapped [ɾ] allophone does not undergo these changes.

/l/ This is a voiced velarised alveolar lateral [ɫ]. It may appear in both onset and coda positions. In the environment of an adjacent /h/ it will be slightly devoiced, though not fully so. Examples: υυυ /ʹlula/ [ʹɫuɫɐ] person; υύι /ʹlalha/ [ʹɫaɫhɐ ~ ɫaɫ̥hɐ] alone.2; υɔύ /luʹgal/ [ɫuʹgaɫ] house.3.

/j/ This is a voiced palatal approximant [j]. In coda position it is produced with slightly more friction [j ̝]. It may appear in both onset and coda positions. In the environment of an adjacent /h/ it will be slightly devoiced, though not fully so. Examples: vvv /ʹjija/ [ʹjijɐ] animal; v́ιɷ /ʹajhum/ [ʹaj ̝hum ~ ʹaj̊ ̝hum] egg.1; ɔιv /ʹkuhja/ [ʹkuhjɐ ~ ʹkuhj̊ɐ] leg; υɔυ:v /lugʹlij/ [ɫugʹɫij ̝] house-lat.

Distinguishing Features

Consonants p b t d c ɟ k ɡ m n s z h r l j
anterior + + + + - - - - - + + + - + + -
labial + + - - - - - - + - - - - - - -
velar - - - - - - + + - - - - - - + -
continuant - - - - - - - - + + + + + + + +
nasal - - - - - - - - + + - - - - - -
sonorant - - - - - - - - + + - - - + + +
voiced - + - + - + - + + + - + - + + +


The language can be either analysed as having two phonemic vowels, one high and one low, or three, where the high vowel is split into two separate phonemes. The vowels are predictable based on the consonant which follows, with [i] appearing before coronals, and [u] appearing before non-coronals, and [ɐ] being produced if there is no following consonant. These three realisations may be considered as a single vowel, /V/, although we shall see that the status of [ɐ] is usually considered separately to the other two. There is also a 'phonemic' low vowel /a/ which occurs as a grammatical marker in the object forms of sentences which shows agreement with the subject. The phonemic status of this vowel is also open to debate. In the Romanisation of the language the three vowels 'i', 'u' and 'a' are given, with [ɐ] being shown as 'a'. Note that [ɐ] only occurs in unstressed position and [a] only in stressed position, but because of the proximity they are often considered as a stressed and unstressed allophonic pair.

Taking this analysis, the three vowels are described below.

/i/ This is a high front unrounded vowel [i]. It is consistently high and front in both stressed and unstressed positions. Examples: ɔɾɔ /ʹkiga/ [ʹk̟igɐ] axe; ɔɾɔ:ω /ʹkigin/ [ʹk̟ig+in] axe-adj.

/u/ This is a high back (slightly) rounded vowel [u]. It is consistently high and back in both stressed and unstressed positions, though it may variably be produced with less rounding tending towards [ɯ] before non-labial consonants. Examples: ɔυɔ /ʹkuga/ [ʹkugɐ (~ ʹkɯgɐ)] wall; ɔυɔ:ɷ /ʹkugum/ [ʹkugum (~ ʹkɯgum)] wall-ben.

/a/ In stressed position this is a low mid vowel [a]. In unstressed position this is more centralised to [ɐ]. Example: oίn /ʹpahca/ [ʹpahc̠ɐ] happy.2.

In linguistic discussions the phonemic status of the vowels is much discussed, especially the status of [ɐ]. In a 'neutral' word, or the root pronunciation of the word a following coronal consonant will mean that a vowel is produced as [i]. (Note here that /l/ does not behave like the other coronals and so its velar gesture is considered of greater importance than its coronal gesture.) If a following consonant is non-coronal then it is produced as [u], with slight or no rounding. If however no following consonant is present we have the production of [ɐ]. In an analysis such as this [i], [u] and [ɐ] are treated together. [a] is only ever produced as a marker of person on the object to show agreement with the subject. As every sentence necessarily has agreement with the subject, this vowel is present frequent, but it serves a grammatical role as opposed to a phonemic one. If it is considered non-phonemic, then the phonology can best be described as having just one vowel.

Historical changes have meant that the vowels have become phonemic. A word such as ɔʌι work with the root consonants K-R-H is pronounced [ʹkihɐ]. The vowel [i] is pronounced because of the following /r/ which has disappeared because it is in coda position. This has therefore led to [i] being followed by the non-coronal [h]. This could on different levels be analysed as /kVrhV/ from a purist perspective. Phonological processes would analyse the first /V/ as [i] and the second /V/ as [ɐ] whilst the /r/ would disappear in coda position. Such an analysis is preferred by many as it best demonstrated the underlying consonants, such that the related word ɔʌ́ι [ʹkaɾha] may be analysed as /karhV/. There are however certain isolated irregularities in the production of the vowels, such that the word onυ may be pronounced as expected [piɟlɐ] and here it means 'book', however it has the irregular pronunciation [puɟlɐ] meaning 'ghost'. Because of such changes, it may now be considered phonemic. In such a case [a] and [ɐ] are usually considered allophones of the same vowel.



Stress is usually placed on the first syllable of the root of a word. Exceptions include where a grammatical /a/ is inserted. This will always take the stress. It usually occurs in the first syllable of the root anyway, but in agreement with the third person it will occur on the second syllable of the root. Suffixes generally do not affect stress placement, though the lative suffix :v /-ij ~ -ja/ used inflectionally will always be stressed, and the negative suffix :ɔ /-uk ~ -ka ~ -ga/ may be stressed if the negative itself is stressed.

In compound nouns in most cases the stress is placed on the second element, the first element then receives secondary stress. A word such as ιɾυ:ω-ɾov grammatical case is pronounced [ˌhidɫin 'tubja]. For a number of compound nouns where the second element is very common, the first element will instead be stressed, thus ʌʌʌ:ω-oʌɾ acoustics, for example, is pronounced ['ririn ˌpida] (oʌɾ being equivalent to -ology). Numbers qualifying nouns will behave like a compound noun, so will also not take the stress.


Main sentence stress falls on the part of the sentence where agreement with the subject falls. This however is not the case if this word is a pronoun (which in non-formal speech are shortened). If there is a pronoun then the stress will fall on the verb, and if there is no verb, then the stress will fall on the subject. There is a rise in intonation before the main sentence stress and then the intonation falls from this main stress. There is often no difference between statements and questions, although the rise leading to the sentence stress may be greater in questions.


The phonotactics of a word are very simple. Mila syllables may be of the form (C)V(C). Syllabification starts from the root of a word and base forms will be CVC.CV. If the grammatical /a/ is added then this will be factored into the syllabification such that we have aC.CVC, CaC.CV, CV.CaC. Prefixes are always of the form VC. If this appears directly before a consonant in a root then we have the form VC.CVC.CV, for example. If this is before the vowel /a/ or another suffix then the consonant will resyllabify as the onset of the following syllable, giving for example V.CaC.CVC. Suffixes are treated as a continuation of the syllabification process in forming the root. When two consonants are across a syllable boundary they will assimilate for voicing, such that a voiceless obstruent may not appear next to a voiced consonant (with the exception of /h/). Otherwise any combination of two consonants is possible.


The orthography in Mila is an Abjad system, that is each letter represents a consonant and vowels aren’t shown, the vowels are however predictable from the consonants but a few rules are necessary. It was historically accurate when created, but later changes in the language mean that reading needs to be learnt and there is not always a one-to-one equivalence. Shortened pronouns are written in their long forms even when produced in their shortened form and irregular verbs are written as if they are regular, but need to be learnt. These are, however, the exceptions and the majority of cases can be predicted from the orthography.

The letters (in alphabetical order) are as follows with their corresponding phonemic equivalent:

c ɔ υ v ɾ n o ɷ ω ʌ ι
/s (~ z)/ /k (~ g)/ /l/ /j/ /t (~ d)/ /c (~ ɟ)/ /p (~ b)/ /m/ /n/ /r/ /h/

One thing which is immediately obvious from the table is that the voiced and voiceless obstruents have just one symbol for both forms. The environment of the letters in most cases, though, will tell us whether the sound is voiced or voiceless.

In determining the pronunciation of a word syllable structure needs to be adhered to. All roots of Mila are triconsonantal, thus the word for good is oιc [puhsɐ] where the letters represent the roots P, H, and S. To form the correct pronunciation we start from the left to determine the first syllable. Onsets are more important than codas and so the first letter o /p/ will form the onset. Onsets can be maximally one consonant long, so we then will need a vowel (which at this stage will be represented by ‘V’). We now have pV. We can now add the next consonant, ι /h/ to this syllable to close it giving us the first syllable pVh. This syllable is now complete and nothing can be added to it as it has maximally one onset consonant and one coda consonant.

We now need to start to form the second syllable with the next letter c /s/ which becomes the onset. As a syllable necessarily has a vowel this is then added to form the second syllable /sV/. As no more consonants are available we then have the completed word /pVh.sV/, where the ‘.’ shows the syllable boundary. As was stated above the main stress is on the first syllable of the root and so will fall on the first syllable here.

We now need to determine the value of the vowels. This is predictable based on the coda consonants of their syllable . If the coda is [+lab] or [+vel] (cf. the distinctive feature table in 1.2) then this vowel will be /u/. If the coda is any other consonant it will be /i/. If however there is no coda present this will be /a/.

In the first syllable of our example we have /h/ as the coda consonant so the vowel will be /u/. In the second syllable there is no coda consonant so this will be /a/. This gives us the full pronunciation for oιc as /ʹ

In an example such as ncn meaning the colour silver we can again start from the left to form the syllable outlines /cVs.cV/. The first syllable ends in /s/ so the vowel in this syllable will be /i/ and once again the vowel in the second syllable is not followed by a consonant so will be /a/. So ncn is pronounced [ʹcis.cɐ]

There are, however, a number of phonological rules which need to be added to this basic outline.


The first is that adjacent consonants must agree in the amount of voicing. If therefore a voiceless obstruent (apart from ι /h/) is adjacent to a voiced consonant then it will become voiced. The word for house is υɔυ and before voicing considerations are taken we have the basic outline of /ʹ The /k/ needs to agree for voicing with the following /l/ which is voiced. The /l/ cannot devoice so the /k/ must become the voiced /g/, giving us [ʹlug.lɐ]. Similarly, the word for more is oωɾ which gives the basic outline /ʹpin.ta/ but the /t/ needs to agree for voicing with the preceding /n/ so will become /d/, giving us [ʹpin.dɐ].

Liquid Elision

If coda /l/ or /r/ occur after /u/ or /i/ respectively then the /l/ and /r/ will be elided. We thus have the example of the word language ɷʌυ which has the root MRL. Without elision the syllabification gives /ʹ, but the /r/ follows /i/ and is in coda position, so the pronunciation is [ʹmi.ɫɐ]. Similarly the word for four is oυɾ which will syllabify prior to elision as /ʹpul.ta/ but with elision (and voicing of /t/) it surfaces as [ʹpu.dɐ].


If two identical consonants occur across a syllable boundary within the same word then this will degeminate, i.e. be pronounced as a single consonant. Note that voicing assimilation will occur before degemination, such that same is coo syllabifies as /ʹ prior to degemination but surfaces as [ʹ] but the /p/ will not subsequently voice.

Note that a combination of this rule with liquid elision means that the pronunciation of some words have merged in their base form. We have for example to sleep is ιυι which syllabifies as /ʹhul.ha/ but the liquid elision rule means it surfaces as [ʹhu.hɐ]. The word for air is ιιι which initially syllabifies as /ʹhuh.ha/ but then degeminates to [ʹhu.hɐ] being pronounced identically with the word for to sleep.

Grammatical /a/

A grammatical /a/ can be inserted (which will take the word stress). This is shown in the orthography by placing an acute accent above the consonant it precedes. I am hungry is for example ɷ́on. As the acute accent is above the ɷ we must insert /a/ before this sound. This gives us the modified root of aMPC. Starting from this /a/ we then syllabify /ʹam.pic/ surfacing as [ʹam.bic]. You are hungry translates as ɷón will insert /a/ before the second syllable giving the modified root of MaPC which syllabifies as /ʹ And finally (s)he is hungry translates as ɷoń giving the modified root as MPaC. Again starting from the left we start with /mV/ The vowel will be /u/ because of the following non-coronal sound, but the /p/ will not complete the syllable, but rather forms the onset of the following consonant, giving the syllabification of /muʹpac/ ([muʹbac]). Note that liquid elision does not occur following /a/ such that You are four is oύɾ which syllabifies as /ʹpal.ta/ and surfaces as [ʹpaɫ.dɐ] without elision of /l/.


There are a number of words with irregular pronunciations which are not indicated in the orthography and a learner must just learn them. The word onυ can mean both book and ghost. For the meaning book it is pronounced regularly as [ʹpiɟ.ɫɐ]. For the meaning of ghost it is pronounced irregularly as [ʹpuɟ.ɫɐ]. It is because of such words that /i/ and /u/ are generally accepted as separate phonemes, however the amount of such irregularities are very limited.

Verbs have often become irregular in their past or future tenses. This is also not shown in the orthography, so the verb to sleep ιυι has the present tense form as the regularly pronounced ʌ:ιυι [iʹhu.hɐ], but the irregularly pronounced past and future forms (spelt regularly) as ω:ιυι [inʹ] and ι:ιυι [uʹhu] respectively.


The Romanisation of Mila follows more closely the final pronunciation than the underlying phonological structure. So degeminated consonants as well as elided liquids are not shown, whilst voiced obstruents are shown as voiced. Unstressed [ɐ] is shown as 'a'. Stress is not normally indicated, as it is usually predictable based on the word root, but it may be indicated with an acute accent above the stressed syllable. The romanisation has the advantage that it allows for irregularities to be shown, such that the past and future tenses of to sleep as given in the previous section are shown as 'inhuhu' and 'uhu' respectively. Also note that the lateral [ɫ] is represented as l when Romanised.


Mila has a series of affixes, either prefixes or suffixes. In the orthography these are shown separated from the root with the symbol :. Syllabification of suffixes is a continuation of the syllabification process of the root. Prefixes are syllabified in the form VC. A word such as closed-adj is ʌ:cιɾ:ω which syllabifies prior to phonological processes as /irʹsuh.tin/ but will surface as [iʹzuh.tin]. Because of the syllabification rules any affix may have a number of allomorphs. The dubitative suffix is :o /-p/ which may surface as [-up] if following an onset consonant, [-pa] if following a voiceless coda and [-ba] if following a voiced coda.


Word formation in Mila is based around the semantically relevant triconsonantal roots. Words rarely occur in their base form and will usually be inflected to show their part of speech. As series of affixes are attached to show case.


This is the only part of speech which must be present in a well-formed sentence in Mila.

The predicate may serve the purpose of a predicate noun as in:

1 she is a neighbour

it may be an adjective:

2 you are happy

it may also be a verb when indicating attributive verbs:

3 I don’t understand (with the meaning that it is beyond my understanding).

The predicate will always agree with the subject. Though a pronominal subject is not generally stated apart from when using emphasis the effect of this subject will always be present on the predicate. So in sentence 1 above neighbour will agree with the 3rd person singular, in 2 happy will agree with the 2nd person singular or plural and in 3 understand will agree with the first person singular.

Agreement is obtained with an infixed /a/ and indicated in the orthography with an acute accent above the consonant where the infix precedes.

We shall consider the word for happy oιn [ʹpuhcɐ].

oιn [ʹpuhcɐ] 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
singular óιn [ʹaphic] oίn [ʹpahcɐ] oιń [puʹhac]
plural óιn:ɾ [ʹaphictɐ] oίn:ɾ [ʹpahcit] oιń:ɾ [puʹhactɐ]

Note that the /a/ is inserted prior to syllabic considerations thus the 1st person has /a/ inserted before the first consonant. This will give the structure aC.CVC as outlined above. For the 2nd person we get CaC.Ca and finally for the 3rd person we get CV.CaC. The plural is indicated with a suffixed [-it ~ -tɐ ~ -dɐ].

As this is the only imperative part of speech in a sentence, translating you are happy can be expressed simply as oίn [ʹpahcɐ] for the singular and oίn:ɾ [ʹpahcit] for the plural.

The three sentences above are thus 1 υɾʌ́ [ɫiʹdaɾ], 2 oίn [ʹpahcɐ], 3 ύon:ɔ [ʹaɫbickɐ] (in the final sentence there is a suffixed negative particle [-uk ~ -kɐ ~ -gɐ]).

Some comments should be made about the plural forms at this stage. The predicate is the only part of speech which really shows the plural nature of the subject. There are however several ways to imply a plural on either the predicate or the subject and in these cases the plural suffix will not be added to the predicate. It is thus the case that the plural just needs to be indicated once in a sentence.

Although most of the following cases will be used in the subject of a sentence, they can equally be used in the predicate position. The following is a list of situations where the plural is not used:

If the subject is given with a number, so in the sentence .ɤ.-υυʌ:n-oιń [nubmɐ ʹɫuric puʹhac] the three men are happy, oιń [puʹhac] happy will not take the plural as three already shows this.
If the subject is one of the formulaic expressions such as υυυ:ω-ιɾυ:n [ɫuɫin ʹhidɫic] some of the people, υυυ:ω-cɾυ:n [ɫuɫin ʹsidɫic] most of the people, υυυ:ω-oωɾ:n [ɫuɫin ʹpindic] many of the people, υυυ:ω-ɔιc:n [ɫuɫin ʹkuhsic] all of the people where this is expressed as people’s some, people’s most, people’s many and people’s all respectively.
As above when saying oωɾ:ɔ:ω-υυυ:n [pindugna ʹɫuɫic] some people, cɾυ:ω-υυυ:n [sidɫin ʹɫuɫic] most people, ɔιc:ω-υυυ:n [kuhsin ʹɫuɫic] all people etc.
With collective nouns which have the prefix ɾ: [it- ~ id-], so υυo:ω-ɾ:nυυ:n-nιί [ɫubin itʹcuɫic cuʹhah] my eyes are blue would take the singular form of blue and for ɾ:vυɾ:n-vvv́ [idʹjudic jiʹjaj] dogs are animals the form of animals is in the singular.

In addition to this there are a few cases where the singular would be used in English but the plural is used in Mila. These are mainly collective forms in English such as ‘furniture’ where the Mila word ɾɔω [ʹtugnɐ] refers to an item of furniture so if we are referring to more than one item it will take the plural. Another example is ‘information’ where the Mila word ɾoo:ω-ʌnɷ [tupin ʹriɟmɐ] refers to a single piece of information and so when talking about information about something where there are multiple pieces of information then the plural will be used.

It should be noted that the plural form of the predicate refers back to the subject and does not mean that the predicate is plural. The sentence:

[ʹɫuric juʹɫat iʹɟiɟɫɐ]
man-sub dog.3 pres-see

means both the man sees the/a dog or the man sees the dogs. If we wish to be more precise about the predicate being plural then we would need to say something like the man sees some dogs, or the man sees all of the dogs etc.

Alternately, in the sentence:

[ʹɫuric juʹɫata iʹɟiɟɫɐ]
man-sub dog.3-pl pres-see

although the plurality is placed on the predicate dog it refers to the subject man so this sentence can mean the men see the dog or the men see the dogs. Once again to be more precise about the amount of dogs we would need to say many dogs, the three dogs etc.

There is a further colloquial way of expressing the plural of the predicate, which is also more common in the outlying villages than in the main town . If we are referring to humans then a plural may be formed by making the word adjectival and adding υυυ [ʹɫuɫɐ] (meaning person) as a plural form, so men would be υυʌ:ω-υυυ [ʹɫurin ɫuɫɐ], the plural for animate objects would be vvv [ʹjijɐ] (meaning animal) so dogs would be vυɾ:ω-vvv [ʹjudin jijɐ], with all other plurals depending on if they are near (where they add ɾɾɾ [ʹtitɐ]), within sight (where they add nnn [ʹcicɐ]) or absent (where they add ooo [ʹpupɐ]) so houses could be υɔυ:ω-ɾɾɾ [ʹɫugɫin titɐ], υɔυ:ω-nnn [ʹɫugɫin cicɐ] or υɔυ:ω-ooo [ʹɫugɫin pupɐ] depending if the speaker is very close to the houses, it’s within sight or it’s absent. The stress in these constructions will fall on the adjectival object and not this pluralised noun, which will only receive a secondary stress.

A sentence such as the men see the dogs may thus be produced as:

[ʹɫuric ʹjudin jiʹjajda iʹɟiɟlɐ]
man-sub dog-adj animal.3-pl pres-see

and I see the houses (over there) would be:

[ʹɫugɫin ʹacic iʹɟiɟɫɐ]
house-adj it.visible.1 pres-see

These forms are usually only heard in the predicate position, but they are becoming more common in the subject position too among younger rural speakers. Within the town, though, these forms are seen as rustic and are avoided.

It was mentioned that if numbers are used with the noun then the noun will not take a plural form, so .ɜ.-υυʌ:n-oιń [ɫictɐ ʹɫuric puʹhac] means the two men are happy. If however we wish to say two of the men are happy there are special suffixes which are placed onto the nouns before other suffixes, such as the subject suffix or the predicate marker, are applied. Once again these do not take a plural marker on the predicate. This sentence becomes υυʌ:ω:ɜ:n-oιń [ʹɫurinicɐ puʹhac]. An example in the predicate position would be ύυʌ:ω:ɜ-ʌ:nυυ [ʹaɫinic iʹɟuɫɐ] meaning I see two of the men. If we wish to say, then, we see two of the men this is ύυʌ:ω:ɜ:ɾ-ʌ:nυυ [ʹaɫinictɐ iʹɟuɫɐ]. These special suffixes are :ω:ɛ [-inu ~ -ninu] for one of, :ω:ɜ [-inic ~ -nic] for two of, :ω:ɤ [-inub ~ -nub] for three of, :ω:m [-inbu ~ nubu] for four of and :ω:ɞ [-inɫi ~ -nuɫi] for five of. Beyond this the form would be six men and not six of the men etc.

Uses of the Predicate

In Mila there is an intricate link between the predicate and the subject. The predicate therefore shows an intrinsic part of the subject. It was mentioned above that the predicate may behave like a noun, an adjective or a verb. When it is a noun then it just shows a property of the subject. So a sentence such as it is a house is shown simply as:

υɔύ [ɫu'gaɫ]

We can drop the subject ‘it’ as this is shown by the third person agreement shown on the predicate.

As with the noun, adjectival predicates simply show a characteristic of the subject. A sentence such as I am happy could have two meanings. It could mean that I am happy at the moment, or it could mean that I am generally happy. Both of these meanings can be expressed with the sentence:

óιn ['aphic]

but if we want to emphasise that the state is temporary then we can use a verbal construction.

A word with a verbal meaning may also be placed in the predicate. This gives the verb a general meaning as opposed to a temporary meaning.

The other main use of the predicate is to show the object of a sentence. If we wish to say I see the house then this, in the mind of Mila speakers, will be produced as I am the house seeing. This figuratively makes the person and the house equal in the condition of seeing and would be expressed as:

ύɔυ-ʌ:nnυ ['aɫgu i'ɟiɟɫɐ]

where the house υɔυ is placed in the predicate position.

A few verbs which do not have an object in English but can be complemented with a prepositional phrase may place this phrase in the predicate position, so a verb such as υιɾ ['ɫuhta] to walk underlyingly has the meaning ‘to walk along’ so what’s being walked along may appear in the predicate position. This could give a sentence such as:

ćcɔ:ɾ-ʌ:υιɾ ['asuktɐ i'ɫuhtɐ]

meaning we are walking along(side) the river where river is placed in the predicate form.

In a very few cases the verb can either take an object or a prepositional phrase and both may potentially be placed in the predicate position. An example of this is the verb υʌɔ ['ɫiga] to slide where, as an intransitive verb, the predicate meaning is along or across, so the sentence:

ccɾ́-ω:υʌɔ [si'zat in'ɫigɐ]

means he slid along the ice. If however we wish to say he slid the board across to me the word board will be placed in the object position, giving:

υυo:v-vʌɾ́-ω:υʌɔ [ɫu'bij ji'rat in'ɫigɐ]

Usually from context it is obvious which meaning is meant, although the second sentence above could in theory also mean he slid across the board towards me.

If, however, we have the situation that we want to say a sentence like he slid the board across the table to me we would in theory have two predicates, but this is avoided and the object is then given as an adjective of the verb. So the sentence mentioned would be roughly translated as he board slid across the table to me giving:

υυo:v-ɔυɷ́-vʌɾ:ω-ω:υʌɔ [ɫu'bij ku'ɫam jidin in'ɫigɐ].

One final stylistic use of the predicate is for emphasising a subject in an intransitive sentence. In a sentence such as the sun is shining we could have:

[ʹkuhtic ba iʹɟicsɐ]
sun-sub it.absent.3 pres-shine


The following is an overview of the affixes which can be used to modify nouns in other parts of speech. The following act more like prepositional affixes than actual cases.


The subject of a sentence is indicated with the suffix :n [-ic ~ -cɐ ~ -ɟɐ]. The subject in Mila usually indicates the actor of a sentence, although when an intransitive verb is used which modifies another verb the subject of the sentence may appear in the predicate position. As such the language may be analysed as showing syntactic ergativity.

[ʹɫit.cic dɐ iʹmin.ɾɐ]
child-sub it.present.3 pres-cry
This child is crying.


The locative prefix ʌ: [i- ~ iɾ-] is used to indicate position, both physical and temporal and can be translated as at, in, on, by, near etc. It is formed by the prefix ʌ: [i(r)-] placed directly on the noun it refers to. It never takes stress and so the stress will remain on the syllable it would appear on if the prefix were not present.

[ʹpiɟ.lic iʹgu.mɐ ɟɐ]
book-sub loc-table it.visible.3
The book is there on the table.


The supraessive prefix ɔ: [uk- ~ ug- ~ u-] is used to indicate position above the noun it modifies. As with the locative it does not affect stress placement. So ɔ:ιnc [ukʹhicsɐ] 'spre-cloud' means simply above the clouds. It usually refers to position without physical contact, though occasionally it may have a similar meaning to on top of or at the top of. An example of this is ʌ:ɔυn [iʹguɟɐ] which, by using the locative here, means at/on the mountain. By using the supraessive, though, we have ɔ:ɔυn [uʹkuɟɐ] which would mean at the top of the mountain. Another example would be ʌ:ɔυɷ [iʹgumɐ] which can mean on the table but could equally indicate at or by the table using the locative, but ɔ:ɔυɷ [uʹkumɐ] takes away the ambiguity and can only mean on (top of) the table.

It can also be used for figurative purposes, so a king could be spoken about as being ‘on top of the people’ ɔ:υυυ [ugʹɫuɫɐ]. Some of these words have taken on derivational meanings, so the example just given ɔ:υυυ also means haughty and as such has become confused with the identical verbal prefix ɔ: (see below) which is used for iteration, such that the homonym ɔ:υυυ can also mean crowded.


The subessive prefix o: [up- ~ ub- ~ u-] is used to indicate position below or under the noun it modifies. As with all other affixes of place it does not affect the stress of the stem. o:ɔυɷ [upʹkumɐ] thus means under the table. As with ɔ: it could have a more figurative meaning by meaning below in rank.


The postessive prefix ω: [in- ~ i-] is used to indicate position behind the noun it modifies. Again it does not affect stress placement. ω:ɔυɷ [inʹgumɐ] therefore means behind the table. When describing directions it can imply further away than, but in the same general direction. Saying ω:υɾo [inʹɫitpɐ] would mean beyond the village.

If this is placed on a temporal noun then it has the meaning before, so ω:ɔnɾ:v [inʹgictij] means before dawn.


The antessive prefix ι: [uh- ~ u-] is used with the opposite meaning of the postessive. It therefore has the general meaning of in front of the noun it modifies, so ι:ɔυɷ [uhʹkumɐ] means in front of the table and with directions ι:υɾo [uhʹɫitpɐ] has the meaning of before reaching the village.

With temporal nouns it has the meaning after making ι:ɔnɾ:v [uhʹkictij] indicate after dawn.


The intrative suffix :cc [-isa ~ -sis ~ -zis] indicates position amongst, between or within the noun it modifies. It is quite often substituted with just the locative, so basic ʌ:vvɔ [iʹjijgɐ] means at or in the forest. To specify more clearly the position amongst the trees we can say vvɔ:cc [ʹjijgisɐ]. There is no particularly great difference between the two meanings but sometimes the intrative will be used where the noun already has a prefix. So whereas ʌ:ɾ:ɔυn [iɾitʹkuɟɐ] is perfectly legitimate to mean in the mountains, ɾ:ɔυn:cc [itʹkuɟisɐ] would much more likely be used.


The main use of the lative suffix :v [-ʹij ~ -ʹja] is to express motion towards the noun which is modifies. It can often be replaced by the locative, so we can have for example ʌ:υɔυ-óoo-ʌ:υιɾ [iʹɫugɫɐ ɐp inʹɫuhtɐ] which means I went home, however this could also mean I walked at home, but usually the context is clear. If however we want to be more precise then the lative will be used, and its use is also considered more eloquent. So the above sentence can be rendered with υɔυ:v-óoo-ω:υιɾ [ɫugʹɫij ɐp inʹɫuhtɐ]. Note that by adding the lative suffix the stress also shifts to the syllable containing the consonant. Another example would be ɷωɔ:υɾ:v [mingudʹja] ‘towards the announcer’.

The lative is used additionally when addressing people giving it a vocative sense. If we wish to say, for example, O boy (when addressing a child whose name you do not know), this would be done by saying υʌɾ:v-ooó. It should be noted that it forms its own sentence and so requires a predicate, making it translate roughly as it is to the boy. There are levels of formality as to how this is pronounced. In the most formal setting this would be [ɫiʹdij puʹbap], but see the section on pronouns for more details. The most usual rendition of this and also the most neutral would be with a reduced pronoun, giving [ɫiʹdij bɐ]. Very colloquially, though, the pronoun will be dropped, giving just [ɫiʹdij]. This latter form would only be used with others with whom there is an intimate bond, so a close friend, or amongst other members of one's own clan, and also when calling an animal.








Postpositional Nouns

There are a large number of nouns which may behave like adpositions. An example of this is the word for vicinity, ɾnɷ [ʹtiɟmɐ] which may be used postpositionally to express near to something by placing the word in the locative case and the thing it's near to is then given as an adjective modifying the noun.. The following example demonstrates how this is used postpositionally:

[ʹɫugɫic ʹsitkin iʹdiɟma bɐ]
house-sub coast-adj loc-vicinity it.absent.3
the house is near the coast.

Some more examples include υɾʌ [ʹɫidɾɐ] which has the basic meaning of 'neighbour' but used postpositionally means next to, cɾɾ [ʹsitɐ] meaning around otherwise it will refer to area surrounding something. ωɾω [ʹnidnɐ] meaning inside is another example.

Postpositional Nouns or Cases?

Many of the cases mentioned above are rather restricted in their usage and their meanings can be equally well expressed by using postpositional nouns. An example of this is when saying on top of the table, for example. We can use the supraessive case marker giving us ɔ:ɔυɷ [uʹkumɐ] we can however equally use the noun ιcι [ʹhisha] postpositionally giving ɔυɷ:ω-ʌ:ιcι [ʹkumin iʹhishɐ]. In addition to this many of the case markers have taken on derivational meanings which have strayed from their original meanings, so although use of case affixes is considered by many ‘purer’ it is becoming more common to hear postpositional nouns used instead and a number of the case markers are also in the process of merging or only being used in fossilised formulaic expressions.

The semblative, for example, has largely merged with the essive and is now extremely rare. Likewise the perlative has largely been replaced by the vialis. In this latter case there is also the possibility of using the postpositional noun vcʌ [ʹjizɾɐ], although the vialis is still commonly used. The benefactive is mainly used with a few set verbs such as υɾn [ʹɫitcɐ] to give to and nυυ:v [ʹcuɫij] to show to, but for other usages has largely been replaced by the lative. Also, as mentioned previously, the locative usually suffices to describe where something is situated and the other cases indicating 'place' will only be used for greater precision. These are also often replaced with postpositional nouns.

There are also some dialectal differences as to use of cases versus postpositional nouns with the towns in the West, including the main town of iNukhin Litpa more commonly using postpositional nouns whereas those in the East preferring case markers.


As Mila is a pro-drop language (i.e. one where pronouns may sometimes be dropped), subject pronouns are not common, although they may be used for added emphasis. In sentences, though, a predicate must always be present and here a series of empty predicate pronouns are used with intransitive verbs which may provide additional information which would not be required in English. Pronouns also vary depending on if they substitute animate or inanimate objects and if actions take place in the presence of a speaker or further from the speaker.

Non-Predicate Pronouns

The pronouns may be divided slightly differently from those in English. Whereas in English we have singular and plural and first, second and third person pronouns, Mila does not have a difference between singular and plural in the subject, as this plurality is indicated on the predicate. Also the second and third person pronouns overlap slightly in Mila, where the animate second person pronoun is used for any person present, so cover ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ and the third person is reserved for persons absent. It is important to know this difference, as it would be considered degrading to someone present to refer to them in the third person, even if ‘he’ or ‘she’ would be used in English. The animate pronouns can be further broken down into when referring to other lula and when referring to other animals or plants. If they encountered humans they would also refer to humans using the animal pronouns and not the lula ones, but this should not be seen as a slight. The following table gives the animate pronouns in their base form:

animate pronouns Referring to lula Referring to non-lula
1st person υυo [ʹɫubɐ] vvo [ʹjijbɐ]
2nd person υυɾ [ʹɫudɐ] vvɾ [ʹjijdɐ]
3rd person υυn [ʹɫuɟɐ] vvn [ʹjijɟɐ]

Obviously the non-lula animate 1st person pronoun is not often used, but may be found in stories involving animals/plants and humans should not be offended by being referred to using the animal forms, and humans would also probably be expected to use the animal forms when referring to themselves, but it is best to take a cue from the person speaking to you as to which form is allowed.

As the forms given may refer to either singular or plural forms the form υυo [ʹɫubɐ] means both I and we. In order to place these into the subject form then the suffix :n [-ic] must be added (and with this the final -a of the stem is lost. The affixes showing the other cases may also be added such that υυo:v [ɫuʹbij] with the lative suffix means towards me or towards us.

The inanimate forms will obviously never have a first or second person form, but they are split down into whether an object is nearby (within reach) by using ɾɾn [ʹtitcɐ], within sight but out of reach by using nnn [ʹcicɐ], absent at the time of speaking by using oon [ʹpupcɐ], or if they refer to an abstract noun by using ιιn [ʹhuhcɐ].

As mentioned these are rarely used in the subject form apart from if special emphasis is used. So I am happy would be:


whereas if we wish to emphasise that I am happy and not someone else then we can use:

[ʹɫubic ʹaphic]
I-sub happy.1

Possessive Pronouns

These are simply formed based on the base pronouns as given above. To form the possessives the adjectival suffix /-in/ is added (compare the section on adjectives). This form is then placed before the item possessed. The combination of possessive pronoun and item possessed then behave like a compound noun and the possessive pronoun will only take secondary stress. To say, for example, ‘my book is heavy’ we have:

[ɫubin ʹpiɟɫic kiʹnaɫ]
I(or we)-adj book-sub heavy.3

If we wish to say something like ‘your companion is beautiful’ and he or she is present then we would say:

[ɫudin ʹɫubɫic ʹcaɫbɐ]
you-adj companion-sub beautiful.2

Note here that the predicate form is given in the second singular as the person is present.

Possessive pronouns are not used when referring to items which are intrinsic to the possessor, such as parts of the body or one's clan etc. Instead these are placed in the subject position but the predicate must agree with the possessor and not the possessed object. So for example:

[ʹɫitic ʹapsin]
hand-sub cold.1
my hands are cold

where the word cold agrees with the first person. Note that this does not take into consideration the plurality of the word hand and one must explicitly say if just one or both hands are implied if necessary.

If the item possessed is possessed by more than one person, then the agreement will also show the plurality. This gives:

[idʹɫubniɟɐ ʹaɾhuktɐ]
clan-sub angry.1-pl
my (or our) clan is angry

Reflexive Pronouns

The reflexive pronouns are also based on the base forms as given above, however these are placed in the predicate position and agree with the subject, so these will show whether the subject is singular or plural. Added to this they will also be shortened and unstressed in normal speech as we will see is common for many pronouns in predicate position, the long forms reserved for the most formal speech. The shortened forms are, however, not indicated in the orthography, so the pronunciation does not follow a regular pattern and must just be learnt. For animate pronouns we therefore have the following forms (the formal forms are given in brackets):

animate reflexives lula non-lula
1st person ύυo [ɐp] ([ʹaɫup]) v́vo [ɐp] ([ʹajup])
2nd person υύɾ [ɫɐd] ([ʹɫaɫdɐ]) vv́ɾ [jɐd] ([ʹjajdɐ])
3rd person υυń [ɫɐc] ([ɫuʹɫac]) vvń [jɐc] ([jiʹjac])
1st person ύυo:ɾ [ɐptɐ] ([ʹaɫuptɐ]) v́vo:ɾ [ɐptɐ] ([ʹajuptɐ])
2nd person υύɾ:ɾ [dɐt] ([ʹɫaɫdit]) vv́ɾ:ɾ [dɐt] ([ʹjajdit])
3rd person υυń:ɾ [ɫɐctɐ] ([ɫuʹɫactɐ]) vvń:ɾ [jɐctɐ] ([jiʹjactɐ])

The inanimate forms also follow the same forms as the base forms, but it should be noted that a reflexive of ιιn [ʹhuhcɐ] is not used, but rather the pronoun referring to absent objects oon [ʹpupcɐ] is used instead. This gives the following forms (again these are shortened informally and note that there are no 1st or 2nd person forms):

inanimate reflexives nearby visible absent/abstract
singular ɾɾń [dɐc] ([tiʹdac]) nnń [ɟɐc] ([ciʹɟac]) ooó [bɐc] ([puʹbac])
plural ɾɾń:ɾ [dɐctɐ] ([tiʹdactɐ]) nnń:ɾ [ɟɐctɐ] ([ciʹɟactɐ]) ooó:ɾ [bɐctɐ] ([puʹbactɐ])

We have then a sentence such as we are messing around (where messing around is reflexive using the verb for to play in Mila) being:

[ɐptɐ iʹguzɐ] ([ʹaɫuptɐ iʹguzɐ])
I.1-pl pres-play

As to be expected, if we wish to show an object then again we may place this base form pronoun into the predicate position and conjugate it correctly to agree with the subject. Notice that here verbs which are not reflexive but may have a reflexive meaning in English may not take the shortened reflexive form as just mentioned. So in order to say I love myself ύυo-ʌ:ωυo, to love is not treated as a reflexive verb and so may not be shortened to *[ɐp iʹnubɐ] but will rather always be given as [ʹalup iʹnubɐ], even informally, although this the shortened pronouns are creeping into normal speech, though frowned upon by some.

Empty Predicate Pronouns

Empty predicate pronouns are those used when we have intransitive verbs or those used with the verb to be if these contain only a prepositional phrase. The two positions behave slightly differently as shall be explained below. As all sentences in Mila require a predicate form a pronoun is often added to sentences where one would not be required in English.

Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verbs are those which do not require an object, such as to run. Some verbs may have transitive or intransitive meanings such as to eat (both I am eating and I am eating a cake are grammatically correct). Where we have intransitive verbs we have a problem in that the predicate position must be filled, but in English there is nothing to fill it. This problem is resolved by inserting a so-called empty predicate pronoun. There are three base forms which may be used for the pronoun. If the action is happening in the presence of the speaker then the form ɾɾɾ [ʹtitɐ] will be used. If the action is away from the speaker, but can be seen then nnn [ʹcicɐ] is used and if the action is occurring somewhere else then ooo [ʹpupɐ] is used. We can roughly translate these forms with here, over there and somewhere else. By changing the pronoun used the sentence may also be changed and this will be discussed below. First the forms of the pronouns are given below. Notice that they too are usually shortened and will only receive the long form in the most formal situations. The pronunciations of both shall be given, with the formal form given in brackets. Again the orthography does not show that the form has been shortened.

empty pronouns present visible absent
1st singular ɾ́ɾɾ [ɐt] ([ʹatit]) ńnn [ɐc] ([ʹacic]) óoo [ɐp] ([ʹapup])
2nd singular ɾɾ́ɾ [tɐ] ([ʹtatɐ]) nńn [cɐ] ([ʹcacɐ]) oóo [pɐ] ([ʹpapɐ])
3rd singular ɾɾɾ́ [dɐ] ([tiʹdat]) nnń [ɟɐ] ([ciʹɟac]) ooó [bɐ] ([puʹbap])
1st plural ɾ́ɾɾ:ɾ [ɐtɐ] ([ʹatitɐ]) ńnn:ɾ [ɐctɐ] ([ʹacictɐ]) óoo:ɾ [ɐptɐ] ([ʹapuptɐ])
2nd plural ɾɾ́ɾ:ɾ [tɐt] ([ʹtatit]) nńn:ɾ [cɐt] ([ʹcacit]) oóo:ɾ [pɐt] ([ʹpapit])
3rd plural ɾɾɾ́:ɾ [dɐtɐ] ([tiʹdatɐ]) nnń:ɾ [ɟɐtɐ] ([ciʹɟactɐ]) ooó:ɾ [bɐtɐ] ([puʹbaptɐ])

As the pronouns refer to the speaker's relation in each case these may vary depending on whether the speaker was present or not at the time the action took place. So, although actions in the past are no longer able to be seen, if the speaker was present at the time the action took place then this will often mean that ɾɾɾ [ʹtitɐ] will be used. In practice though such a term is normally restricted to the present tense or if we are still in the place where the action took place. We therefore have the situation such that I am eating will normally be produced as ɾ́ɾɾ-ʌ:ɷvo [ɐt iʹmijbɐ] as the eating will take place where the speaker is. We may however encounter any of ɾ́ɾɾ-ω:ɷvo [ɐt inʹmijbɐ] if we are in the place the speaker ate, ńnn-ω:ɷvo [ɐc inʹmijbɐ] if the speaker can see the place they ate, and óoo-ω:ɷvo [ɐc inʹmijbɐ] if the speaker ate elsewhere.

Also certain verbs do not lend themselves to having tangibility or even observability, so even if the speaker is talking about themself a sentence such as I went red with anger could only be observed so would be

[ʹruhkin ʹtitpi ɐc inɟidʹrij]
anger-adj reason-abl it.visible.1 past-red-incep

And I remember would neither be tangible nor necessarily observable so would be best translated as:

[ɐp iʹbinbɐ]
it.absent.1 pres-remember

Use of the absent pronoun ooo may also be used to place emphasis on the action as opposed to the person doing the action. In commands this is the form most often used, though it can be made slightly politer by using ɾɾɾ. When addressing someone the vocative form with :v [-ʹij ~ -ʹja] is used and here the only pronoun possible is ooo.

In practice the form using ooo is far more often used than the other forms and is considered much more neutral. ɾɾɾ would imply an active involvement of the speaker in the action and nnn does not have the level of involvement that ɾɾɾ does, but would be used as a witness statement or a report of something that someone saw. By placing the emphasis on the action ooo there is a detachment between the speaker and the action taking place.

General truths, such as happy people often laugh can only be introduced with ooo.

Prepositional Phrase Empty Pronouns

There is one final group of pronouns which are those where we have the verb to be with a preposition phrase. If we wish to say I am at home, at home can be translated with ʌ:υɔυ [iʹɫugɫɐ] (lit. loc-house), but we still need here a predicate. The forms just mentioned can equally be used in this position for inanimate subjects, however if the subject is animate then a separate form must be used. The forms given above refer to the action taking place, which is why they can be inanimate, so by saying I am running we are translating I am running ( and doing it here). We cannot use this form, however with the verb to be as using ɾɾɾ in the sentence I am at home would imply that I am doing an action at home, which is not the case here. Instead we can translate a form of the noun υυυ [ʹɫuɫɐ] (so person) for people and vvv [ʹjijɐ] for animals. Again these are usually shortened and the long forms are only used in the most formal settings (given below in brackets):

animate empty predicates lula non-lula
1st person ύυυ [ɐɫ] ([ʹaɫu]) v́vv [ɐj] ([ʹajij])
2nd person υύυ [ɫɐ] ([ʹɫaɫɐ]) vv́v [jɐ] ([ʹjajɐ])
3rd person υυύ [ɫɐɫ] ([ɫuʹɫaɫ]) vvv́ [jɐj] ([jiʹjaj])
1st person ύυυ:ɾ [ɐdɐ] ([ʹaɫudɐ]) v́vv:ɾ [ɐjdɐ] ([ʹajijdɐ])
2nd person υύυ:ɾ [ɫɐt] ([ʹɫaɫit]) vv́v:ɾ [jɐt] ([ʹjajit])
3rd person υυύ:ɾ [ɫɐdɐ] ([ɫuʹɫaɫdɐ]) vvv́:ɾ [jɐdɐ] ([jiʹjajdɐ])

So I am at home then becomes:

[iʹɫugɫɐ ɐɫ]
loc-house person.1

and the dog is at home where dog is vυɾ [ʹjuda]:

[ʹjudic iʹɫugɫɐ jɐj]
dog-sub loc-house animal.3
Relative Pronouns

There are a few ways that we can link sentences together by using a pronoun which refers back to either a person or action from a preceding sentence. If a subject has been referred to in one sentence and we wish to refer back to this subject again we can use the word υoω [ʹɫubnɐ] which also has the meaning self. Remember that pronouns are usually dropped so this will only usually appear if it is in the predicate or a prepositional form. So to translate The dog is big and it is eating my meal. We would have:

vυɾ:n-nιó υυo:ω-ɷυń-ʌ:ɷvo:υ
[ʹjudic cuʹhap | ʹɫubin muʹlac iʹmijbu]
dog-sub big.3 | I-adj meal.3 pres-eat-com

Here we do not need to use a pronoun as the subject pronoun can be dropped. If however we said The dog is big and I don’t like it we have:

vυɾ:n-nιó ύoω-ʌ:oυo:ɔ:υ
[ʹjudic cuʹhap | ʹaɫbin iʹbubugɫɐ]
dog-sub big.3 | self.1 pres-like-neg-com.

Here, ύoω refers back to the subject of the previous sentence.

The form with υoω is especially common in passive construction sentences and those where the sentences are linked with comitative, alternative or conditional affixes. It may only be used where the subject has been specifically named. In the sentences I saw the dog and it bit me we would have:

v́υɾ-ω:nnυ | υυó-ω:ɷɾɷ:ʌ:υ
[ʹajɫit inʹɟiɟu | ɫuʹɫap inʹmidmiɫɐ]
dog.1 past-see | I.3 past-bite-com

and using υoώ instead of υυó would be incorrect.

If instead of a noun we wish to refer back to an action then we can do this with the use of the word coo [ʹsupɐ] which also has the meaning same. So if we wish to say the dog is eating my meal and I don’t like it this is ambiguous in English as it may refer back to the dog or to the action of the dog eating my meal. This would however be unambiguous in Mila as the sentence:

vυɾ:n-υυo:ω-ɷυń-ʌ:ɷvo ύoω-ʌ:oυo:ɔ:υ
[ʹjudic ʹɫubin muʹɫac iʹmijbɐ | ʹaɫbin iʹbubugɫɐ]
dog-sub I-adj meal.3 pres-eat | self.1 pres-like-neg-com

refers back to the not liking the dog, whereas:

vυɾ:n-υυo:ω-ɷυń-ʌ:ɷvo ćoo-ʌ:oυo:ɔ:υ
[ʹjudic ʹɫubin muʹɫac iʹmijbɐ | ʹasup iʹbubugɫɐ]
dog-sub I-adj meal.3 pres-eat | same.1 pres-like-neg-com

refers back to the action.


Multiple adjectives

If there is more than one adjective or adverb involved in a noun phrase then their order and whether or not they use the comitative suffix will affect the meaning.

The comitative particle needs to be used to show that two adjectives both apply to the noun. If the particle is not used then the first adjective will adverbally modify the second adjective and not the noun directly.

If, for example, we have:

[pindin ʹcuhpin ʹjudɐ]
many-adj big-adj dog
a bigger dog

Because there is no comitative suffix on the second adjective the first adjective modifies the second one. Contrastively, in the phrase:

[ʹpindin ʹcuhpinɫa ʹjudɐ]
many-adj big-adj-com dog
many big dogs

because the comitative suffix has been added to the second adjective they both equally modify the noun. Note that we can only have the non-comitative adjectival word order for certain adjectives which also have an adverbial meaning. A sentence such as:

  • nιι:ω-nιo:ω-vvι
[ʹcuhin ʹcuhpin ʹjijhɐ]
blue-adj big-adj bird

would carry one of two meanings. The first would be *bluely big birds which does not make sense, so is incorrect. A further meaning for this phrase would indicate that nιo:ω-vvι [cuhpin ʹjijhɐ] was a compound noun, this would however have a different stress pattern as described previously.

If we have a compound noun where the first element could be adjectival such as ιvυ:ω-vvι [hijɫin ʹjijhɐ] ‘hummingbird’ (literally hovering bird) it should be noted firstly that there is only one main stress on this, which will more often than not fall on the second element (there are a few exceptions such as when the second element is ɾυω [tunɐ] or oʌɾ [pidɐ], amongst others, where the first element will be the stress carrier). If we then add an additional adjective this will modify the whole compound and so the second adjective, i.e. the first element of the compound will not need a comitative suffix.

[ʹcuhin hijɫin ʹjijhɐ]
blue-adj hover-adj bird
a blue hummingbird

If however the comitative is added then the stress pattern will change thus:

[ʹcuhin ʹhijɫinɫɐ ʹjijhɐ]
blue-adj hover-adj-com bird
a blue hovering bird

When there are multiple adjectives those which are more intrinsically linked to the noun they modify usually appear closer to the noun. However if one particular adjective is being emphasised then this will appear first.

As an example in a noun phrase such as many large blue birds the order in which the adjectives are added will slightly change the emphasis.

[ʹpindin ʹcuhpinɫɐ ʹcuhinɫɐ ʹjijhɐ]
many-adj large-adj-com blue-adj-com bird

Here we are referring to birds which are primarily blue, which happen to be large and there are many of this type of bird.

[ʹpindin ʹcuhinɫɐ ʹcuhpinɫɐ ʹjijhɐ]
many-adj blue-adj-com large-adj-com bird

This time the birds are primarily large, but they happen also to be blue and again there are many of this type of bird.

In both of these sentences the blueness and largeness of the bird is more intrinsic to the bird than the amount and so come after oωɾ:ω /ʹpindin/ many.

If, however, we wish to emphasise that the many large birds are blue and not yellow, say, then we would have the phrase:

[ʹcuhin ʹpindinɫɐ ʹcuhpinɫɐ ʹjijhɐ]
blue-adj many-adj-com large-adj-com bird

Adjectives Derived from Verbs

Adjectives which are derived from verbs can take a number of forms depending on whether the verb has a passive or active meaning and whether the adjective is still relevant or not.

For example, to say the broken chair this could mean passively either a chair which has been broken and is still in this state, or one which has been broken, but has since been repaired. To say this in Mila we have the two phrases:

[iʹritcin ʹɫukɐ]
pres-break-adj chair

which would mean that the chair is still broken, as we have a present prefix on the verb.

[inʹritcin ʹɫukɐ]
past-break-adj chair

however, with a past prefix, would indicate that the chair was once broken but is no longer, implying it had been mended.

To demonstrate the difference between passive and active verbs used adjectivally we have the following phrase:

[inʹmijbin ʹjinɐ]
past-eat-adj pig

would mean passively ‘the eaten pig’ (so a pig which had been eaten). This contrasts with:

[iʹmijbin ʹjinɐ]
pres-eat-adj pig

which, being in the present tense would be a pig which is currently being eaten. We can even have:

[uhʹmijbin ʹjinɐ]
fut-eat-adj pig

which would indicate a pig which will be eaten. All of these have a passive meaning. If we wish to show that it is the pig which is eating then this can be done by dropping the tense marker. Thus:

[ʹmijbin ʹjinɐ]
eat-adj pig

means ‘the eating pig’ (so a pig which is eating).


The base ten numerals of Mila come in two forms, called long and short forms. The most commonly used form of counting would be a mixture of both forms, with the first five numbers most commonly given in their long forms and numbers beyond 5 given in their short form.

Long Form Numerals

The numbers 1-5 are as follows:

Number 1 2 3 4 5
Symbol .ɛ. .ɜ. .ɤ. .m. .ɞ.
Written form ωɔι υnɾ ωoɷ oυɾ υɾɾ
Pronunciation ['nukhɐ] ['lictɐ] ['nubmɐ] ['pudɐ] ['litɐ]

Although these numerals behave like adjectives they do not take the adjectival ending [-in] when modifying nouns, so we would say, for example, .ɤ.-υɔɔ [pudɐ 'lukɐ] for 4 chairs. Note that the numeral in this position does not take stress. If placed in the predicate position then it inflects as with other predicates. If the numeral modifies the subject then predicate agreement for the numerals 1-5 will be in the singular.

The numerals 6-10 are, rather confusingly, identical in pronunciation to the numbers 1-5 respectively, the difference between the two is that they have different symbols and a predicate will be in the plural for the numbers 6-10. The symbols in Mila are 6 .c., 7 ɔ, 8 ɾ, 9 n, 10 o. We therefore have the sentences .ɤ.-υɔɔ:n-ʌɾń [nubmɐ 'lukic ri'dac] three chairs are broken which does not have the plural indicator on the predicate so [nubma] indicates 3, whereas .ɾ.-υɔɔ:n-ʌɾń:ɾ [nubmɐ 'lukic ri'dactɐ] eight chairs are broken. Long form numbers are restricted to the numbers from one to ten.

Short Form Numerals

Although there are long forms for the numbers from one to ten, because of the correspondence between the numerals one to five and those from six to ten, in practice these are often not used for the numbers from six to ten. Each of these numbers also has a short form which are as follows:

Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Short form [nu] [ic] [ub] [pu] [li] [kuh] [cit] [pum] [lit] [tit]

In usual speech the long forms are used for the numbers from 1 to 5, whereas the short forms are used for the numbers beyond 6. Using the long form for 6-10 is now considered old fashioned. The short forms will also be used for the numbers 1-5 when describing mathematical processes. Again when these are used with the subject the predicate will be singular for the numbers 1-5 and plural for the numbers 6-10.



Constituent order

Noun phrase

Verb phrase

Sentence phrase

Dependent clauses

Example Texts

The North Wind and the Sun


ɔon:ω-ιɾώ-ɔιɾ́:υ-ɷɷɷ:ω-ω:oυυ-υoω:ω-υ:υυυ:n-oωɾ:ω-ɾoɔ́ oɾω:ω-υnω:ω-ʌ:υvɾ:ω-ɔιʌ:υɾ:n-ʌ:ɔoυ:ι-ooó-ω:υιɾ:ʌ υυń:ɾ-ω:ɔɔɷ oωɾ:ω-ɾoɔ:n-υoω:c-υυn:ω-nnύ-ʌ:.ɛ.:n-ɔιʌ́:υɾ:n-ωɔʌ-ooó-υvɾ:ʌ ɔon:ω-ιɾω:n-ω:ɾo-ooó-υυn:ω-ɾoɔ:ω-ɔιc:ω-ω:ιɾω ɔιʌ:υɾ:n-ɾʌω-oωɾ:ω-ιɾω:υ-ʌ:υυn-υnω:ω-υvɾ́-oωɾ:ω-ιωc:ω-ω:vnɔ:cʌ ɔon:ω-ιɾω:n-ooó-ɾno:ʌ:ω-ω:oɾn:ʌ ɔιɾ:n-ω:ɾo-ooó-oɾω:ω-ω:nnc ɔιʌ:υɾ:n-υnω:ω-υvɾ́-ɔoυ:ω-ω:υvɾ:ʌ ɔon:ω-ιɾώ-ω:ωɔʌ-ooó-ɷʌυ-ɔιɾ:n-υoω:c-oωɾ:ω-ɾoɔ́

['kupcin hidnɐ kuhtu ||

'kupcin hi'dan ku'hadɫɐ 'mumin in'buɫɐ | 'ɫubnin u'ɫuɫic pinnͅ tu'bak || 'pidnin 'ɫiɟnin i'ɫijdin 'kuhrudɟɐ i'gubɫuh bɐ in'ɫuhti || 'ɫac.tɐ in'gugmɐ || pinnͅ 'tupkic 'ɫubnis ɫuɲɲͅ ci'ɟaɫ | i'nukhic ku'harudɟɐ 'nugrɐ | bɐ 'ɫijdi || 'kupcin 'hidnic in'dup bɐ ɫuɲɲͅ 'tupkin 'kuhsin in'hidnɐ || 'kuhrudɟɐ tin pinnͅ 'hidnu iʹɫuɟɐ ʹɫiɟnin ɫi'jat 'pindin 'hinzin in'jickizrɐ || 'kupcin 'hidnic bɐ 'tupcinɐ in'bitci || 'kuhtic in'dup bɐ 'pidnin in'ɟicsɐ || 'kuhrudɟɐ 'ɫiɟnin ɫi'jat 'kubɫin in'ɫijdi || 'kupcin hi'dan i'nugrɐ | bɐ 'miɫa | 'kuhtic 'hidnis pinnͅ tu'bak]

north-adj wind sun-com

north-adj wind.3 sun.3-com mouth-adj past-fight self-adj q-person-sun more-adj strong.3. warm-adj shoulder-adj loc-cloth-adj traveller-sub loc-time-dem it.abstract.3 past-go-term. they.3 past-agree. more-adj strength-sub self-ess he-adj consider.3 loc-one-sub traveller.3-sub force it.abstract.3 clothe-term. north-adj wind-sub pste-then it.abstract.3 he-adj strength-adj all-adj past-blow. traveller-sub join more-adj blowing-com loc-he shoulder-adj cloth.3 more-adj tight-adj past-wrap-alt. north-adj wind-sub it.abstract.3 order-abl-adj past-try-term. sun-sub pste-then it.abstract.3 warm-adj past-shine. traveller-sub shoulder-adj cloth.3 immediate-adj past-cloth-term. north-adj wind.3 past-force it.abstract.3 say sun-sub self-ess more-adj strong.3.

Dialectal Differences

There are five settlements in the lula world four are spread along the Siska River, from the West to East are the main town of iNukhin Litpa (given in the following description as IL), on the opposite bank is Ciɟriskin Sitka (CS), a harbour town further upstream Suɟin Sugra (SS) and the university town in the foothills iNukhin Kina (IK). These are joined by the mining town Jijgin Litpa (JL) to the north of iNukhin Litpa. Each of these have distinctive dialectal features which will be outlined below.

Differences in Pronunciation

Pronunciation of n [c ~ ɟ]

There is a trend, stigmatised in IL, although it can also be found there to pronounce /c/ as [ʧ] and /ɟ/ as [ʤ]. This is absent from the South Bank dialects in IK and IL but can be found in those on the North Bank. The dialect of JL goes further and these are pronounced [ʃ] and [ʒ] respectively.

Pronunciation of Preconsonantal Vowels

Although preconsonantal vowels are described as either /i/ or /u/ depending on whether they are coronal or not respectively and when not grammatical /a/ the accent of IK pronounces pre-[c ~ ɟ] and pre-[l] (whether this has disappeared or not) with lip rounding as [y]. This accent maintains a difference between such words as, for example, ɔυι [ʹkyhɐ] door and ɔιι [ʹkuhɐ] road which have merged to [ʹkuhɐ] in the other varieties.

Pronunciation of Coda Nasals

Although coda /m/ and /n/ are pronounced as such in most dialects, they have merged in CS to become [n] when not followed by another consonant and they assimilate for place with the following consonant if one is present in the same word (this assimilation does not take place across word boundaries). Thus cɷo [ʹsumbɐ] syrup is pronounced [ʹsumbɐ] whereas cωo [ʹsinbɐ] still water is pronounced [ʹsimbɐ], the preconsonantal vowel being the indication of the former consonant /n/.


In compound words in the standard language the main stress is usually given to the second element and the first element receives secondary stress. This is not the case in SS where both elements receive equal stress. In JL, if the first element has three syllables then the secondary stress of the compound shifts to the penultimate syllable. So a compound such as ɔʌι:ʌ:ω-vnʌ sloth which is pronounced [ˌkihinɐ ʹjiɟɾɐ] in the standard is pronounced [ʹkihinɐ ʹjiɟɾɐ] in SS and [kiˌhinɐ ʹjiʒɾɐ] in JL.

Syllable Structure

In most accents words such as ιʌω to woo and ιωω density have merged to [ʹhinɐ]. The syllable structure differs however in SS and IK from the other accents. Elsewhere the syllable structures are identically arranged as [ʹhi.nɐ], however in SS and IK the structure is [ʹhi.nɐ] if a /r/ or /l/ has been elided, whereas it is [ʹhin.ɐ] if a sound has been degeminated. At the surface level this does not have much difference, but the two are stored differently and for speakers the syllable structure is a relevant feature. In the later history of the language this also becomes relevant. We can speak of a near-merger here for these two varieties.

Epenthetic Liquids

In all the dialects coda /r/ and /l/ have been elided when preceded by /i/ and /u/ respectively, such that a word such as ιυι:ʌ to wake up has become [ʹhuhi] with no final /r/ and ιυι:υ also to sleep is [ʹhuhu] with no final /l/. This coda sound is completely lost in all positions everywhere apart from in JL where it reappears epenthetically when followed by a vowel. This is also extended intrusively to positions where it did not occur historically. I slept and dreamt is óoo-ω:ιυι-óoo-ω:ιωɷ:υ which is commonly pronounced [ɐp inʹhuhu ɐp inʹhinmu], but in JL it becomes [ɐp inʹhuhuɫ ɐp inʹhinmu] where there was no historical /l/ present. This feature is open to ridicule by non-JL speakers and as such is often avoided when in conversation with outsiders. Older speakers are more likely to epenthesise the liquids based on historical position, whereas epenthesis intrusively is becoming more common amongst younger speakers.

The Pronunciation of υ /l/

In SS and IK this sound has become [w]. In CS the velarisation is lost in onset position and is only [ɫ] in coda position. In the other towns it is [ɫ] in all positions.

Morphological Differences

Predicate Plurals

Although in the standard language the plurality of the predicate is not shown, or if necessary is shown with constructions such as some ..., all of ..., three ... etc., in SS, IK and CS it is possible to show the plural of the predicate (and also the subject, though this is rarer) by making the object to be adjectival and adding υυυ [ɫuɫɐ] person, vvv [jijɐ] animal, ɾɾɾ [titɐ] thing nearby, nnn [cicɐ] thing in sight or ooo [pupɐ] thing out of sight. Abstract nouns also use ooo. The stress in these constructions falls on the adjective (so the object) and not the plural noun.

Present Tense

The present tense marker on verbal forms is shown as ʌ: [i(ɾ)-]. There is some variation in its usage. In IL and CS this is usually omitted when it is followed by another prefix, so the present tense of ɔ:ɷvo [ug'mijbɐ] to overeat is written as ʌ:ɔ:ɷɔo, so with the present tense marker, but it is pronounced without this marker as [ug'mijbɐ], whereas in SS and IK it is pronounced [irug'mijbɐ]. The accent of JL has gone further and the verbal prefix ʌ: is never pronounced, so ʌ:ɷvo to eat is just pronounced ['mijbɐ] and not [i'mijbɐ] as in the other towns, this is also often extended to the locative usage of this prefix in very common phrases. If the initial root sound has become a voiced sound because of the prefix, this voicing is often extended here even when the prefix is lost, so ʌ:cυc [iʹzuza] pres-swim will be pronounced [ʹzuzɐ].

Semantic Differences

ιvo [hijbɐ] to happen

ιvo [hijbɐ] to happen may be used colloquially to describe the usual action of a noun. So for a sentence such as the sun shines we may colloquially replace shines with happens in Mila. This is very commonly used colloquially for weather conditions in all towns, so rain falls, snow falls, wind blows etc. may replace the verb with happens, ʌ:ιvo [ihijbɐ]. It may dialectally have more uses, though. In the Eastern and Southern towns of SS, IK and CS it is also used with animals to describe the noise they make, so a dog happens would mean a dog barks for example. This verb is not generally used this way in the remaining two towns. In JL the verb is often used instead of predicate forms. A sentence such as υʌɾ:n-oιń [ʹɫidic puʹhac] the boy is happy will commonly be produced in JL as υʌɾ:n-oιń-ʌ:ιvo [ʹɫidiʃ puʹhaʃ ʹhijba].


The numerals up to ten are shown as having two forms which are described as long and short in the main dialect of IL, with the long forms being the usual ones for the numbers 1-5 and the short forms limited to mathematical descriptions. In the University of Inukhin Kina, however, where the sciences and mathematics are studied the short forms are the ones used as they can unambiguously show the numbers used. Here then, and also within the town, the short numbers are more commonly used in all settings and the long numbers are considered unrefined.

Dialect Comparison Text

Dialect examples from the different villages compared to the standard. The North Wind and the Sun ɔon:ω-ιɾω-ɔιɾ:υ ɔon:ω-ιɾώ-ɔιɾ́:υ-ɷɷɷ:ω-ω:oυυ-υoω:ω-υ:υυυ:n-oωɾ:ω-ɾoɔ́ oɾω:ω-υnω:ω-ʌ:υvɾ:ω-ɔιʌ:υɾ:n-ʌ:ɔoυ:ι-ooó-ω:υιɾ:ʌ υυń:ɾ-ω:ɔɔω oωɾ:ω-ɾoɔ:n-υoω:c-υυn:ω-nnύ-ʌ:.ɛ.:n-ɔιʌ́:υɾ:n-ωɔʌ-ooó-υvɾ:ʌ ɔon:ω-ιɾω:n-ω:ɾo-ooó-υυn:ω-ɾoɔ:ω-ɔιc:ω-ω:ιɾω ɔιʌ:υɾ:n-ɾʌω-oωɾ:ω-ιɾω:υ-ʌ:υυn-υnω:ω-υvɾ́-oωɾ:ω-ιωc:ω-ω:vnɔ:cʌ ɔon:ω-ιɾω:n-ooó-ɾno:ʌ:ω-ω:oɾn:ʌ ɔιɾ:n-ω:ɾo-ooó-oɾω:ω-ω:nnc ɔιʌ:υɾ:n-υnω:ω-υvɾ́-ɔoυ:ω-ω:υvɾ:ʌ ɔon:ω-ιɾώ-ω:ωɔʌ-ooó-ʌ:ɷʌυ-ɔιɾ:n-υoω:c-oωɾ:ω-ɾoɔ́

Standard: [ˌkup.cin ʹ ʹkuh.tu || ˌkup.cin hi'dan ku'had.ɫa ˌmu.min in'bu.ɫa | 'ɫub.nin u'ɫu.ɫic ˌpin.din tu'bak || 'pid.nin ˌɫiɟ.nin i'ɫij.din 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa i'gub.ɫuh ba in'ɫuh.ti || 'ɫac.ta in' || ˌpin.din 'tup.kic 'ɫub.nis 'ɫu.ɟin ci'ɟaɫ | i'nuk.hic ku'ha.ɾud.ɟa 'nug.ɾa | ba 'ɫij.di || ˌkup.cin 'hid.nic in'dup ba 'ɫu.ɟin 'tup.kin 'kuh.sin in' || 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa ˌ ˌpin.din ' iʹɫu.ɟa ˌɫiɟ.nin ɫi'jat ˌpin.din 'hin.zin in'jic.kiz.ɾa || ˌkup.cin 'hid.nic ba ˌ in' || 'kuh.tic in'dup ba 'pid.nin in'ɟ || 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa ˌɫiɟ.nin ɫi'jat 'kub.ɫin in'ɫij.di || ˌkup.cin hi'dan i'nug.ɾa | ba 'mi.ɫa | 'kuh.tic 'hid.nis ˌpin.din tu'bak]

iNukhin Litpa: [ˌkup.ʧin ʹ ʹkuh.tu || ˌkup.ʧin hi'dan ku'had.ɫa ˌmu.min in'bu.ɫa | 'ɫub.nin u'ɫu.ɫiʧ ˌpin.din tu'bak || 'pid.nin ˌɫiʤ.nin i'ɫij.din 'kuh.ɾud.ʤa i'gub.ɫuh ba in'ɫuh.ti || 'ɫaʧ.ta in' || ˌpin.din 'tup.kiʧ 'ɫub.nis 'ɫu.ʤin ʧi'ʤaɫ | i'nuk.hiʧ ku'ha.ɾud.ʤa 'nug.ɾa | ba 'ɫij.di || ˌkup.ʧin 'hid.niʧ in'dup ba 'ɫu.ʤin 'tup.kin 'kuh.sin in' || 'kuh.ɾud.ʤa ˌ ˌpin.din ' iʹɫu.ʤa ˌɫiʤ.nin ɫi'jat ˌpin.din 'hin.zin in'jiʧ.kiz.ɾa || ˌkup.ʧin 'hid.niʧ ba ˌtup.ʧ in'bit.ʧi || 'kuh.tiʧ in'dup ba 'pid.nin in'ʤiʧ.sa || 'kuh.ɾud.ʤa ˌɫiʤ.nin ɫi'jat 'kub.ɫin in'ɫij.di || ˌkup.ʧin hi'dan i'nug.ɾa | ba 'mi.ɫa | 'kuh.tiʧ 'hid.nis ˌpin.din tu'bak]

Jijgin Litpa: [ˌkup.ʃin ʹ ʹkuh.tu || ˌkup.ʃin hi'dan ku'had.ɫa ˌmu.min in'bu.ɫa | 'ɫub.nin u'ɫu.ɫiʃ ˌpin.din tu'bak ʹ|| 'pid.nin ˌɫiʒ.nin 'ɫij.din 'kuh.ɾud.ʒa 'gub.ɫuh ba in'ɫuh.ti || 'ɫaʃ.ta in' || ˌpin.din 'tup.kiʃ 'ɫub.nis 'ɫu.ʒin ʃi'ʒaɫ | 'nuk.hiʃ ku'ha.ɾud.ʒa 'nug.ɾa | ba 'ɫij.di || ˌkup.ʃin 'hid.niʃ in'dup ba 'ɫu.ʒin 'tup.kin 'kuh.sin in' || 'kuh.ɾud.ʒa ˌ ˌpin.din 'ɫiʹɫu.ʒa ˌɫiʒ.nin ɫi'jat ˌpin.din 'hin.zin in'jiʃ.kiz.ɾa || ˌkup.ʃin 'hid.niʃ ba tupˌʃ in'bit.ʃi || 'kuh.tiʃ in'dup ba 'pid.nin in'ʒiʃ.sa || 'kuh.ɾud.ʒa ˌɫiʒ.nin ɫi'jat 'kub.ɫin in'ɫij.di || ˌkup.ʃin hi'dan 'nug.ɾa | ba 'mi.ɫa | 'kuh.tiʃ 'hid.nis ˌpin.din tu'bak ʹ]

Ciɟriskin Sitka: [ˌkup.cin ʹ ʹkuh.tu || ˌkup.cin hi'dan ku' ˌmu.min im' | 'lub.nin u'lu.lic ˌpin.din tu'bak || 'pid.nin ˌliɟ.nin i'lij.din 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa i'gub.luh ba in'luh.ti || 'lac.ta iŋ' || ˌpin.din 'tup.kic 'lub.nis 'lu.ɟin ci'ɟaɫ | i'nuk.hic ku'ha.ɾud.ɟa 'nug.ɾa | ba 'lij.di || ˌkup.cin 'hid.nic in'dup ba 'lu.ɟin 'tup.kin 'kuh.sin in' || 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa ˌ ˌpin.din ' iʹlu.ɟa ˌliɟ.nin li'jat ˌpin.din 'hin.zin iɲ'jic.kiz.ɾa || ˌkup.cin 'hid.nic ba ˌ im' || 'kuh.tic in'dup ba 'pid.nin iɲ'ɟ || 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa ˌliɟ.nin li'jat 'kub.lin in'lij.di || ˌkup.cin hi'dan i'nug.ɾa | ba ' | 'kuh.tic 'hid.nis ˌpin.din tu'bak]

Suɟin Sugra: [ʹkup.ʧin ʹ ʹkuh.tu || ʹkup.ʧin hi'dan ku'had.wa ʹ in'bu.wa | 'wub.nin u'wu.wiʧ ˌpin.din tu'bak || 'pid.nin ʹwiʤ.nin i'wij.din 'kuh.ɾud.ʤa i'gub.wuh ba in'wuh.ti || 'waʧ.ta in' || ˌpin.din 'tup.kiʧ 'wub.nis 'wu.ʤin ʧi'ʤaw | i'nuk.hiʧ ku'ha.ɾud.ʤa 'nug.ɾa | ba 'wij.di || ʹkup.ʧin 'hid.niʧ in'dup ba 'wu.ʤin 'tup.kin 'kuh.sin in' || 'kuh.ɾud.ʤa ˌ ˌpin.din ' iʹwu.ʤa ʹwiʤ.nin wi'jat ˌpin.din 'hin.zin in'jiʧ.kiz.ɾa || ʹkup.ʧin 'hid.niʧ ba ʹtup.ʧ in'bit.ʧi || 'kuh.tiʧ in'dup ba 'pid.nin in'ʤiʧ.sa || 'kuh.ɾud.ʤa ʹwiʤ.nin wi'jat ' in'wij.di || ʹkup.ʧin hi'dan i'nug.ɾa | ba 'mi.wa | 'kuh.tiʧ 'hid.nis ˌpin.din tu'bak]

iNukhin Kina [ˌkup.cin ʹ ʹkuh.ty || ˌkup.cin hi'dan ku'had.wa ˌ in'by.wa | 'wub.nin y'wy.wyc ˌpin.din tu'bak || 'pid.nin ˌwyɟ.nin i'wij.din 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa i'gub.wuh ba in'wuh.ti || 'wac.ta in' || ˌpin.din 'tup.kyc 'wub.nis 'wy.ɟin ci'ɟaw | i'nuk.hyc ku'ha.ɾud.ɟa 'nug.ɾa | ba 'wij.di || ˌkup.cin ' in'dup ba 'wy.ɟin 'tup.kin 'kuh.sin in' || 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa ˌ ˌpin.din 'hid.ny iʹwy.ɟa ˌwiɟ.nin wi'jat ˌpin.din 'hin.zin in'jic.kiz.ɾa || ˌkup.cin ' ba ˌ in' || 'kuh.tyc in'dup ba 'pid.nin in'ɟ || 'kuh.ɾud.ɟa ˌwyɟ.nin wi'jat ' in'wij.di || ˌkup.cin hi'dan i'nug.ɾa | ba 'mi.wa | 'kuh.tyc 'hid.nis ˌpin.din tu'bak]

Other resources

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