From Linguifex
Jump to: navigation, search

Pulqer is a Romance language spoken on the island of Jaques (Pul. Tśaq). Along with Sardinian it is one of the earliest languages to diverge from Latin and is thought to have been isolated since the 3rd century AD. Pulqer has been heavily influenced by the now vanished language of Kelt, previously spoken on the island, both in its phonology and vocabulary. This marks Pulqer out as distinct amongst the Romance languages.


Pulqer takes its name from the Latin (sermo) vulgaris "common speech". It is thought that Latin was brought to the islands by sailors between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD and may have originally formed part of a pidgin before being adopted by a tribe believed to have been called Khrapnat as a language of power and religion. These people became known in Old Pulqer as faulartśi pulkaeri and later simply as Pulkaeri.

The language spoken by the Pulkaeri was a bastardised form of Vular Latin referred to today as Old Pulqer. Upon its adoption, Vulgar Latin was assimilated to the existing phonology of Kelt which immediately resulted in a slew of changes to the language. Plosives in Kelt appear to have been distinguished by aspiration rather than by voicing so that, in general, Latin voiced plosives became voiceless (/d, b, g/ > /t, p, k/) and voiceless plosives became aspirated (/t, p, k/ > /tʰ, pʰ, kʰ/). Vowels also assimilated, resulting in Latin /o/ becoming Pulqer /u/ in most cases, and Vulgar Latin /ẹ/ (< ē, œ) merging with /i/. These sound changes, alongside forces of analogy resulted in drastic reduction of noun and adjective declensions and verbal conjugations. However, because Old Pulqer remained primarily the language of a learned elite, it could be said to be closer to Latin than its descendants.

From about the 7th century AD the Pulkaeri began to dominate their neighbours and all tribes were eventually brought under their leadership. Old Pulqer became the language of the elite across the island, but gradually filtered down through society until it eventually ousted the native Kelt entirely. This new vernacular was marked by a large number of borrowings from Kelt and by further phonological changes, most notably the weakening of unstressed vowels which resulted in the total loss of the declension system and a greater reliance on syntax, adverbs and prepositions to indicate relationships between words. This period of the language is known as Middle Pulqer.

Since the loss of final vowels perhaps 1,000 years ago, there have been relatively few changes to Pulqer and the medieval language is largely intelligible to speakers today. The most drastic changes to have taken place are the loss of the aspirate distinction, leading to the merger of aspirated and unaspirated consonants, and the loss of all diphthongs except au and ai. Modern Pulqer is distinguished from its predecessor largely by a renewed connection to the outside world, which began in the 18th century.

Phonology and Orthography


Pulqer has a very simple vowel inventory, consisting of only five primary vowels and two diphthongs, with no distinctions of length.

Front Mid Back
Close i /i/ u /u/
Open-mid e /ɛ/ y /ə/
Open a /a/

The diphthongs are ai /ai/ and au /au/.


The consonant inventory is similarly straightforward. All plosives, fricatives and affricates are voiceless whilst all liquids are voiced.

Bilabial Alveolar Post-alveolar Velar Glottal
Plain Labial
Nasal m /m/ n /n/
Plosive p /p/ t /t/ k /k/ q /kʷ/
Fricative f /ɸ/ s /s/ ś /ʃ/ h /h/
Affricate ts /t͡s/ /t͡ʃ/
Approximant r /r/
Lateral app. l /l/


Primary stress is routinely placed on the final syllable of a word, except where that syllable contains y /ə/, e.g. atnel /at'nel/ but atyn /'atən/.

Morphology and Grammar

Pulqer morphology is largely analytical. Nouns and adjectives show no inflection and verbs relatively little.


All Pulqer nouns are either masculine or feminine in gender and singular or plural in number but neither of these is marked on the noun itself, which is immutable. For example, atyn is a masculine noun and can mean "man" or "men" whilst hityn is feminine and may mean "woman" or "women".

The gender and number of a noun is either unspecified or is indicated by an attached determiner, an article, possessive adjective, demonstrative adjective, interrogative adjective etc.


Determiners are the primary means by which Pulqer indicates grammatical number, gender and definiteness. They are generally composed of a stem + a vowel denoting a combination of gender and number, as follows:

Singular Plural
Masculine -u -i
Feminine -a -e

Forms are quoted with the masculine singular, e.g. su "the" indicates that the forms sa, si, se also occur.


Articles always precede the noun they modify directly, or with intervening adjectives and must agree with the noun they modify in gender and number.

The definite article is su and is declined as follows:

Singular Plural
Masculine su si
Feminine sa se

Note: Where the article ends and the following word begins with the same vowel, the article is reduced to s.


si atyn "the men"
s'aśtet "the star" (< **sa astet)
sa kat "the cat"

The definite article is the default determiner for any definite noun, i.e. a noun with no other form of determiner must take the definite article. As such, it is used in many cases where English does not use an article, e.g.:

  • With abstract or general categories, e.g. su amur seśt na piltut "love is a virtue"
  • Where definiteness is implied, e.g. mi pa a su let (or mau let) "I'm going to bed"

The indefinite article is nu and is declined in the same way (i.e. nu, ni; na, ne).


nu atyn "a man"
ne kes "some houses"
n'iśtyl "the islands" (< **ni iśtyl)
mi su nu piśtur "I am a fisherman".

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives precede the noun they qualify and decline according to the gender and number of that noun as follows:

Masculine Feminine
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Singular 1 mau mai mua mue
2 tau tai tua tue
3 sau sai sua sue
Plural 1 nau nai nua nue
2 pau pai pua pue
3 lur lir lar ler

Note that the stem of each pronoun is different in the masculine and feminine (ma- vs. mu- etc.).

Note also that the 3pl. lur is unusually declined with internal vowel change (OP. had lueru "of those (masc.)" and laeru "of those (fem.)).

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives show a three way distinction:

  • śtu "this" refers to objects close to the speaker
  • kisu "that" refers to objects close to the listener
  • kitlu "that" refers to objects at a distance

All three may function as adjectives preceding the noun or as pronouns; in both cases they must agree with the referent in gender and number.

Masculine Feminine
Singular Plural Singular Plural
This kiśtu kiśti kiśta kiśte
This, That kisu kisi kisa kise
That kitlu kitli kitla kitle

Interrogative Adjectives

Masculine Feminine
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Which kelu keli kela kele
How Much kantu kanti kanta kante

Indefinite Adjectives

  • alkunu "some, any" is declined like su etc.
  • altru "another, other"
  • tantu "such (an amount), so many"
  • su metis "the same" can occur before nouns as a determiner, e.g. su metis atyn "the same man"



Personal pronouns exist for each person in the singular and plural, plus a single reflexive pronoun si, used for all persons and numbers. Only the 1sg and 2sg make any distinction between subject and object pronouns.

Singular Plural
Subject Object
1 tśu mi nu
2 tu ti (obj.) pu
3m lu li
3f la le
Refl. si

The subject pronouns are used as the subject of a verb (tśu and tu), e.g. la am sa musk "she loves music", tśu talmip "I slept".

The object pronouns are used in the following ways:

  • as the direct object of a verb (mi, ti), e.g. lu am ti "he loves you", su trakun mankep le "the dragon ate them (f.)".
  • following prepositions (mi, ti), e.g. ku mi "with me", pel pu "for you".
  • as possessive adjectives following the noun, with or without te "of", e.g. kes mi or kes te mi "my house".

The reflexive pronoun can only be used as an object or following prepositions, e.g. si milt tutepan si "the soldiers killed themselves", nu kantan ku si "we sing to ourselves".


The relative pronouns are:

  • ki used as a subject
  • ke used as a direct object

su atyn ku am sua hityn "the man who loves his wife" sa kat ka tśu pitip "the cat that I saw"


Verbs fall into one of three classes, categorised by their thematic vowel, found in the infinitive:

  • E verbs have an infinitive in -el, e.g. amel "to love, stel "to be", kantel "to sing"
  • I verbs have an infinitive in-il, e.g. lukil "to grieve", katil "fall", itnil "to light"
  • Y verbs have an infinitive in -yl, e.g. nakyl "to injure", arityl "to laugh", eśyl "to be".

Verbal stems are taken from the infinitive by removing the ending -el, -il, -yl, except in certain irregular cases (e.g. eśyl).

Non-Finite Forms

As described above, the infinitive is formed in all cases by the stem + the thematic vowel + -l.

The past participle is formed in the same way, replacing l with t, e.g. amet "loved", katit "fallen", nakyt "injured".

Note: some old past participles are retained but have diverged in meaning from their original verbs, e.g. aret "correct, just; straight" < arekyl "rule".

The present participle is formed by -ant in the E verbs and by -ent everywhere else.

Finite Forms

Conjugated verb forms for regular verbs are limited in extent and usage, most verb tenses being created through periphrasis.

Verbs are conjugated by tense, mood and number but not by person, so all conjugated regular verbs require an overt subject unless context implies the subject. The conjugated tenses are formed agglutinatively with the verb stem + tense/mood suffix + number ending.

The number endings are -Ø for singular and -n for plural.

Mood Tense E-Verbs I-Verbs Y-Verbs
Indicative Present -Ø (sg.)
-an (pl.)
-Ø (sg.)
-en (pl.)
-Ø (sg.)
-un (pl.)
Past -ep (sg.)
-epan (pl.)
-ip (sg.)
-ipan (pl.)
-ip (sg.)
-ipan (pl.)
Subjunctive Present -er (sg.)
-eren (pl.)
-ir (sg.)
-iren (pl.)
-yr (sg.)
-(y)ren (pl.)
Past -as (sg.)
-asen (pl.)
-is (sg.)
-isen (pl.)
-is (sg.)
-isen (pl.)


Mood Tense apil "have" patil "go"
Indicative Present a (sg.)
an (pl.)
pa (sg.)
pan (pl.)
Past apip (sg.)
apipan (pl.)
patip (sg.)
patipan (pl.)
Subjunctive Present apir (sg.)
apiren (pl.)
patir (sg.)
patiren (pl.)
Past apis (sg.)
apisen (pl.)
patis (sg.)
patisen (pl.)
Present Participle apent patent
Past Participle apit patit

To Be

"to be"
Indicative Subjunctive
Present Past Present Past
1s su ser si ses
2s se
3s seśt
1p sum seran sim sesen
2p set sit
3p sun sin


The following suffixes are used to form abstract nouns:

  • -(e)tsun < OP. -tsune < L. -tiō
    • kantsun "song", ratsun "reason"
  • -ment < OP. -menttu < L. -mentum
  • -tet < OP. -ttaette < L. -tātem
  • -(i)ts < OP. -itsa < L. -itia

The following form agents or instruments:

  • -(u)r < OP. -ure < L. ōrem
  • -(e)ltś < OP. -ertśu < L. -ārius

The suffix -etl is a diminutive < OP. -ellu < L. -ellus

The following form adjectives:

  • -(e)l (pertaining to, of, like) < OP. -aele < L. -alis, -alem
  • -(e)pl (-able) < OP. -aeple < L. -abilis
  • -(i)p < OP. -ipu < L. -īvus
  • -(u)s (full of, prone to) < OP. -usu < L. -ōsus
  • -(i)s (of, from a place) < OP. -ise < L. -ēnsis