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.
|Close||i /i/||u /u/|
|Open-mid||e /ɛ/||y /ə/|
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.
|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/||tś /t͡ʃ/|
|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
All Pulqer nouns are either masculine or feminine in gender and singular or plural in number. However, neither of these things are shown on the noun itself, which is usually immutable. For example, utyn 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.
Some masculine nouns ending in -tur may be made feminine by substituting with the suffix -trik, e.g. kantur "singer" m., kantrik "songstress" f.
Articles are either definite (su) or indefinite (nu) and decline by gender and number. They always precede the noun they modify directly, or with intervening adjectives.
- nu utyn "a man"
- si utyn "the men"
- ne kes "some houses"
- sa kat "the cat"
Possessive adjectives decline according to the gender and number of the following noun only for the singular 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons, as follows:
The possessives for the plural persons are indeclinable nustyr "our", pustyr "your (pl.)" and sur "their". They must be followed by the definite article when preceding a noun, e.g. nustyr su petyr "our father", sur se kat "their cats".
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