Takkenit language or Takkenkikle [ˈtɑ.kːən.ˌkik̚.lə] - is a language, spoken in a mesolithic Eastern European plains (circa 5000-7000 BCE) on the territories of modern Polissia region in Northern Ukraine and Western Belarus in the basin of the Prypjať river (Ukrainian: [ˈprɪ.pjɑtʲ], Belarussian: [ˈprɨ.pʲat͡sʲ]). It shows some features, found in distant languages like Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Uralic or even Yukaghir to the far east of Siberia. Some linguists claim this to be relics of a hypothetical Nostratic unity, however this theory is still disputed.
|Setting||Almost real world|
Takkenit is an agglutinative language, which was typical for the region it came from at those times. It shows many lexican parallels with steppe languages to the south-east, which means, its homeland was somewhere to the east of the Caspian Sea having been much larger that it is now and covering lowlands of a modern Volga river basin. It is hard to estimate the total number of speakers, but it probably wasn't different from other prehistoric languages (no more than 5 000 native speakers considering the climate in that area and a stage of technological development - Takkenit people were hunter-gatherers and fishers, so their population density was relatively low).
Once upon a time I happened to read an article about lexical similarities between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Uralic and I asked myself, how that language could have sounded. It became a bit interesting to me, but there was just too little information on this topic. So I did my own research (maybe it should not be called a "research", but rather an extrapolation) and found just enough to create a daughter-language of a common ancestor of Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Uralic (which was not my goal at first, but why not?) and saw what it was like. It seems to me, that there too little evidence left indeed, so a proper reconstruction can not be made: Proto-Indo-Uralic was spoken circa 10 000 BCE or even longer ago if it existed at all.
The name Takkenkikle comes from takkune ("tribe", "people, related to each other", hence takkeni - "that belongs to the tribe") and kikle ("to speak", "speech", "language"), so it translates as people's language. Its homeland is claimed to be Central Asian steppe between the Caspian sea and the Aral sea, which was forming, but hasn't become a single body of water yet. During 7000 BCE the earliest forms of the Takkenit language became distinct and Takkenit people separated from neighbouring tribes and moved westward to the sea. There is no consensus, why exactly the migration happened, but the most prominant factor was definitely the climate change which brought less rains and caused animals to migrate further north.
Soon the people left northern shores of the Caspian Sea and by the 6500 BCE reached the territory of forests and swamps in Eastern Europe, rich in food and materials for daily life. During this time different tribes and even villages were speaking slightly different dialects, which started diverging more and more, creating a dialectal continuum. But due to a semi-nomadic lifestyle contacts between people remained pretty high and thus their dialects did not become too distinct to be unintelligible.
By 5000 BCE Takkenit tribes became surrounded by various linguistically diverse peoples, most of which migrated from the south. The climate was already warm enough to establish agriculture and soon Trypillians - the neolithic tribes from Balkans - started spreading and assimilating indigenous people due to greater numbers and technological advantages. Takkenit people slowly intermixed with their neighbours and shifted to their languages leaving only a bunch of substrate words and place names. Those new cultures would be quite advanced and prosperous for a long time until about 3000-2800 BCE, when they were also assimilated by the Corded Ware and Yamna people from the east.
Takkenit has never been a written language, its stories and songs were transfered orally from generation to generation until the extinction of the language. I use Latin script with some additional letters (ŋ and sometimes also ə) to fully cover the phonology of Takkenit, which is fairly simple.
The Takkenit consonant inventory is very simple. The most interesting feature of it is a complete lack of any fricatives. Geminated consonants, which are represented with double letters (like tt, or kk) can be analyzed as a sequence of two same sounds. The consonants /n/ and /t/ are more often dental while [l] is more often alveolar and [r] is always alveolar, that's why /t/ near [r] is also always alveolar, like in English, but near [n] it is always dental, like in Spanish or other non-Germanic languages. The [j] sound can palatalize a preceding consonant but this palatalization is not phonemic and occures only before this sound and [i]. In South-East dialects /t/ becomes [t͡s] or [t͡ʃ] before these two sounds. If stop consonant is in a coda position (more often when it comes before another consonant from the next syllable, less often but also quite frequently at the end of words) then it is pronounced without any burst, meaning it is unreleased (in IPA denoted as [p̚], [t̚], [k̚]) For example even the language name has such a consonant: [ˈtɑ.kːən.ˌkik̚.lə]. In most East dialects [k̚] becomes a fricative [x] instead, which can cause preceeding vowel fronting (for example /ɑ/ becomes [æ] before this sound).
The vowel inventory of Takkenit is even simpler than the consonant one containing only four phonemes, but the allophonic variation is much greater. Despite that, the phonology became even simpler near the time of language's extinction with all unstressed vowels merged into [ə] and vowel assimilation, which then gave new consonant alterations. This was due to increasing contacts with more technologically advanced mesolithic and neolithic tribes. The table below shows the middle stage of the language right before those contacts and language assimilation process in the period of its largest ammount of speakers.
- These sounds are allophones of /ə/. When under stress it is pronounced [e], in words with high vowels it is [ɨ] or [ɤ] and near [ɑ] it remains [ə]. The pronunciation vary greatly between different tribes, showing some kinds of vowel harmony, which had been present earlier but broke soon later.
- Can be found in South-East dialect as an archaic feature of older vowel harmony. However its vowel harmony is based on frontness and backness (like in modern Finnish, for examle), while the older one was based on vowel height. For example kemi [ˈke.mi] which means "blood" is komə [ˈko.mɤ] in this dialect. The word itself comes from *kɯmɨ. Or kikle [ˈkik̚.lə] ("speech") which is käkle [ˈkæx.le] in South-East and comes from *kekemən ("to make sounds", "to tweet").
The stress is not phonemic in Takkenit, at least in its middle and late stages. It has a trochaic system, where the main stress is always on the first syllable of the word and secondary ones are put on every odd-numbered syllables except for the last one, which is always unstressed. Similar system can be found in Finnic and Samic languages and was also present in Proto-Uralic. An early pre-ablaut stage of Proto-Indo-European could also have had such a system. Because of this and also due to some other features, like absence of consonant clusters inside a syllable, the Takkenit speech is very fast with words blending with one another, which can create a misunderstanding or confusion in someone, who do not speak the language perfectly. Some words can even change their shape in fast speech and they can also be incorporated into action verbs, which is represented in writing.
The Takkenit language has a somewhat restricted ammount of syllables, meaning it allowes only CV and CVC, where C is any consonant and V is any vowel. Vowel-initial syllables (V and VC) are rare and are allowed only word initially. No consonant clusters are allowed within a single syllable, which also means no initial or final consonant clusters. However if a last syllable contains /ə/ as a nucleus (such as in genitive plural ending -nək) the vowel can be dropped in the fast speech (so the ending will become -nk). The hiatus (sequence of two vowels) is also not allowed. All of these rules make Takkenit words sound a bit similar to one another, so many of them have suffixes attached. This not only creates a more specific meaning but also helps to differentiate words that otherwise would sound the alike. For example murken can mean "to kill an animal prey", "to hit an animal" or "to gather woodsticks". That's why murəkken is used for the first meaning, murkəten - for the second and murakten - for the third.
When attaching various suffixes or endings to a word, many consonant clusters would appear. In these cases an epenthetic vowel (usually "e" /ə/) is inserted between, for instance "I'm catching (successfully)", which would be [ˈkɑ.kə.ˌtːɤ.mi] phonologically and "kak-tt-m-i" morphologically. If two vowels would appear side by side, the previous one is simply elided (kulu ("small", singular) would give kulit ("small", plural) and not *kuluit).
Takkenit nouns have the grammatical categories of number (singular, dual, plural), case (nominative, genitive, accusative, locative, ablative and vocative) and possessivity (non-possessive versus possessive forms). Yet because the language is active-stative rather that nominative-accusative, the nominative case is sometimes called the agentive, the accusative - the patientive and the locative - the indirect or oblique case (locative has also the function of dative and marks an indirect object of a sentence). If a clause has more that one word (such a in "a small bush") endings are attached only to the main word of a clause: kulu kenna ("small bush", nominative singular) and kulu kennim ("small bushes", accusative plural). It is because these are not real endings, but suffixes or even clitics (like English example: "two white cats' ball" not "*two's white's cats' ball"). The usual translation is a noun phrase in English, but such phrases can be full sentences in Takkenit. For example: kulu kennit can mean both "the small bushes" and "the bushes are small", so the plural suffix -it also can mean "are", but it is not a real verb, just like English "'s" is not a separate particle.
Early Takkenit did not possess any cases and nouns could only decline for a number. Various modifying suffixes as well as noun incorporation (Takkenkikle was polysynthetic back then) were used instead.
There are two locative cases in Takkenit. The locative I is used to describe place or position, while locative II is used, when the position changes or to describe direction of motion. Also this case is used as an indirect object marker in phrases like: "I gave a small fish to the woman" - Urkum imkəkemkan ŋenanta, where "ŋenanta" means "to the woman".
The genitive case is used instead of accusative, when an absence of something is mentioned. For example, in kinjəri puŋkim (e) ("the dog has a tail") accusative ending is used to mark the direct object, but in kinjəri puŋkin ne ("the dog has no tail") genitive is used instead. Early Takkenit however used noun compounding and incorporation and the phrase would be *kinjɨpujŋun according to the reconstruction.
The default nominative plural marker in the Takkenit language is -t. Wnen mentioning something specific, an -i- infix can be added in most cases. For example the word for "goose" (kila) is kilit in its nominative plural form, if you mention some specific geese, or kilat, if talk about "goose" as a kind of birds (in general). Many nouns in Takkenit do not have dual or plural form, for examle the word kujma ("fire"), or kuŋuma ("smoke") which are called uncountable nouns. Words for herds of animals, groups of objects also belong to this category. Some words, like unla (small river") have irregular dual (unelki) and plural (unelet) forms, most of them contain a suffix and is a word for places, or weather phenomena. A small number of nouns have a -m plural marker, which change into -p- in ablative and genitive. These are words, which can only be a patient and never an agent of a sentence. A good example is kerni ("flint"), which is kernam in both nominative and accusative, kernapu in genitive and kernapta in ablative plural. The last irregular category contains some very old words, like terms of kinship and tools which have an -uj- or -aj- plural infixes which do not require neither dual nor plural markers. For instance, the word pujku ("son") which has the dual form pujkuja and the plural pujkujət (or usually just pujkuj).
In order to mark possession, genitive case is used. But Takkenit does not have possessive pronouns like English "my" or "her". It uses special possessive endings instead, which are attached to a word after all of its suffixes. If a word already contains case or case and number endings, than they are slightly altered and put before and after a possessive ending. For instace, kinjərin ("of a dog"), kinjərimən ("of my dog") and kinjəritmitən ("of our dogs").
If a plural (sometimes also dual) of a word is different from the default, then the different form will be used. For example, pujkujat ("your two sons"), pujkujtek ("sons of both of them").
If a possession is inalienable, than a suffix -kk is added, like in ŋalwakke his/her head. If a possession is alienable and temporary (it was given to someone for a short period of time, borrowed) than a suffix -ŋ is added instead - nakraŋəm - "the knife I borrowed".
The following are the numerals from 1 to 10 in Takkenit. There are two words for 3 and 4: kurtet and kuttet are used to count separate or individual items, while teret and titte are used when mentioning groups or piles of inanimate things, usually those that can be put into a some kind of container. The word kije "a pair" can sometimes be used instead of kakte "two". Several words for "one" are also used: ikte is the main and the general one, timu is "another one" (when mentioning two people or things), timkatte is used with something that can be held in a hand, however it doesn't represent a single item, rather a single group of items that a person can hold in their hand, for example: timkatte pelwa means "a handful of grain".
|teret||tirena||group of three|
|titte||tittena||group of four|
When counting beyond 10, new numerals are created by adding -tew-kimt-it "them, coming after ten" to the existing numeral: iktetewkimtit "eleven", kaktetewkimtit "twelve". For numbers bigger than 19 a suffix -kimteki (for "twenty") and -kimtit (for "thirty" and more) are added, for example: kaktekimteki "twenty", kaktekimteki ikte "twenty one" and so on. The was no special word for 100 and larger numerals, instead the word munajit "many" was used. This word was typically used instead of any number larger than ten.
Takkenit verbs are more complex than nouns, being rich in conjugation patterns and having different verb-forming suffixes. There is no such a category as tense in Takkenit verbs, but rather various aspects are used instead, which are often called tense-aspect-mood (TAM) markers. If someone needs to mention a specific time (usually to differentiate future from present) nouns and adverbs (like tomorrow versus today) are used.
|Frequentative||-əl||Manner of action||Optative|
Every verb in Takkenit must agree with the subject of a sentence and, in case of transitive verbs, also with its direct object. This agreement is represented by personal suffixes attached to the verb after a TAM marker. The conjugation has three persons and three numbers. Intransitive and transitive conjugations are distinguished. Also almost every verb has a distinct middle voice and subjunctive mood conjugations. This means that there are different ways of conjugating a verb and some verbs can change their meaning, when conjugated in one way or another. Also because Takkenit is an active-stative language, its intransitive verbs can have either agentive (to denote voluntary actions) or patientive (used for involuntary actions).
The brackets in the subject suffixes show, where a direct object marker is attached. If a sentence also contains an indirect object (usually with a verb "to give") a suffix -ka-n is used instead of -ka. The 3rd person subject singular and plural forms are odd, they use an an infix -k- (and indirect object marker comes before -k-), while an object suffix is attached to the end. These forms probably remained from an old object conjugation, which had been completely substituted with a patientive suffix forms of intransitive verbs.
The middle voice describes actions that were made by someone, who is not mentioned. For instance phrases like tiwmi keppan "the food is being cooked" or kujma pejkan "the fire was kindled". This often can be translated into English, using passive voice. However they are not the same, for example in wete tewken unwan ŋi "water pours from the jug" middle voice is used, because water doesn't perform this action by itself. Also middle voice is often used to describe emotions and feelings, like when somebody says: irəkken "I'm angry" they mean that another person or an event made them angry (using active voice is not a mistake, but it would mean that a person is angry for no reason, or the reason is inside this person). Some feelings are described with stative instead.
The second person conjugation is rarely used, it is often substituted with an active voice.
The subjunctive or irrealis mood is typically used to express various states of unreality such as wish, possibility, judgment or opinion. It can also express future events that are to occure. A suffix -ti is added creating conditional, which corresponds to English present conditional tense. However this is actually more complicated, because these two moods are used for different degree of uncertainty or possibility.
Focus markers in Takkenit refers to a main topic of a sentence. When someone talks on a specific topic, at the beginning the topic is usually unknown, in which case it is necessary to explicitly mention it. As the discourse carries on, the object (or subject, or even both of them) can be not focused, if it's not necessary for a speaker, or it can still carry a focus marker, if a speaker needs to emphasize the topic. These markers can also carry evidentiality (to distinguish whether an event had been experienced by the speaker directly or by someone else). This is also the way to focus narrator or listener (some examles below the table). For instance: Nukkuŋa kulam kattəkaleŋ - "A young man has really caught a big fish (and I saw it)" and Nukkuŋa kulam kattəkale "I heard, a young man had caught a big fish".
If both object and subject are focused, then an object focus marker comes first, while a subject one is attached right after it. A focus marker is always located at the very end of a verb after all the other suffixes it has. They are not an obligatory part of verbs, but are often used to clarify a context. In South East dialects these markers are attached to nouns instead, merging them with a case suffix and thus are used just like Japanese topic markers. In other dialects it is possible to attach the -l suffix to a direct object of a sentence in order to emphasize it, but this is usually done through the word order and this suffix is rarely used.
Here are some examples of how these markers can be used:
- Kirum tiktumi "I sew clothes" - neutral.
- Kirum tiktumiŋ "I sew clothes (because I know how to do it and not someone else)" - subject focused.
- Kirum tiktumik "I sew clothes (you know about it, right?)" - listener focused.
- Kirum tiktumile "It's clothes I sew (not anything else)" - object focused.
- Kirum tiktumileŋ "I sew clothes (it's the thing I can always do)" - both object and subject.
- Kirum tiktumiŋek "It's clothes I sew (as you can see)" - both object and listener focused.
- Kirum tiktutikeŋ "You sew clothes (I can see you do it)" - both subject and narrator focused.
Unlike modern European languages, Takkenkikle has only three basic word categories: nouns, verbs and particles. There is no separate category for adjectives, as they are morphologically identical to nouns in some instances and thus belong to the noun category, or to verbs and belong to the verb category. In an older period of time all the Takkenit "adjectives" had actually been stative verbs, but then many of them turned into nouns. Adverbs on the other hand are not as numerous as in modern languages and mostly express direction or position of an action in space and time, and they belong to the category of particles. Particles in Takkenit play a role similar to English prepositions (and some adverbs too). They do not decline and can be sometimes attached to the verb as a suffix. All the particles are postpositional, meaning that they are always put after the word they modify, that's why they can also be simply called postpositions. These postpositions can be either directional or positional. The default form is usually the positional one, while directional particles are created by adding the -ja suffix. However some are directional by default and can be changed only into other directional ones. Below are some examples of particles, often used in Takkenit:
|alla||in/inside||alja||into||parelja||(go) there (specific)|
|matula||in the middle||matulja||to the middle||—||—|
|perti||right||perja||rightwards||paretteja||the same direction|
|eti||in front of||etja||towards||etejra||through|
Most of these particles are small while some can be bigger than the word they modify (those, created by compounding or suffixation). An example of compounding would be: Kulkəjkaməŋ pertəparettellejra - "I used to go to the right over and over, until I found out it was the wrong direction". Here patientive -m is used to show that the speaker was doing it unintentionally and the -ŋ suffix shows that the speaker now knows the path was wrong. Unlike this example, much shorter particles were used in a daily speech, nevertheless the long ones still existed and occasionally used to describe a situation better. Takkenit sentences tend to be short and have long words.
Some particles can be attached to the word it modifies and thus becoming a suffix. For example: kulken peŋi ("to go out of something") would be used only if there is an indirect object and a speaker wants to emphasize the movement outwards (this would usually be translated as "to come out" in English). Otherwise, kulkəpeŋen is used directly that means "to go out" and does not require an object at all (kulkəpeŋkami - "I've gone out" or "I went for a walk").
Takkenkikle has a free word order, meaning the position of different words is not strict and can not change grammatical function of a word. Short sentences usually follow an SOV word order. Intransitive clauses have SV order as the basic one. Thus the language can be described as head-final - the head of the clause comes at the end of it. If a sentence is long and contains many subclauses, the word order can be changed to VSO or SVO depending on what is more important (the subject or the verb). Object initial word order is also possible, but is rarely used, usually to emphasize e result of an action. An example of an intransitive clause:
- Puja tiwapi "The child is sleeping"
A transitive clause:
- Kempanit imtamam kekpettunket "The hunters are chasing game".
Noun phrases typically show head-initiality, meaning that the head of the phrase precedes its complement (NP means noun phrase, N - noun and C - complement).
Kulmapalla turu [NP[Nfield of flowers][Cbig]] - a large field of flowers.
However, head-final clauses are equally possible and are often used, when a complement is a larger phrase:
Tekimtate tumpelja meŋi [NP[AP[PPabout his work][Ahappy]][Nman]] - a man, happy about his work.
Typically short verbs phrases are head-final. But, like in the noun phrase, there is no strict directionality of the verb phrase. Longer phrases may show head-initiality instead.
- Imtamam kekpettunket [VP[Dgame][Vthey are chasing it]]- they are chasing game.
There are different kinds of sentences, though Takkenit sentences tend to be simple and short. Most of them contain just a single word, like: tekujami "I run", or rawputteka "I love you". Other are more complicated, like: Kinjeri ketleninta puwunni keukumankile jukumankile "I heared the dog barked and howled at the cat in the forest". This sentence is simple in Takkenit, since it has one independent clause which contains one subject, kinjeri "dog", and one predicate, ketleninta keukumankile jukumankile "barked and howled at the cat as I heard it", puwunni "in the forest" and ketleninta "at the cat" are prepositional phrases. A compound sentence should be composed of at least two independent clauses, which is not common in Takkenit, since most compound sentences in English would be sayed with different simple sentences in Takkenit. The example can be: Kuŋka kentejkette, tumpujkeljatet. "The moon was shining, everyone appeared happy". The last two examples show, that Takkenit has the SOV word order with the verb usually being the final word in the sentence.
Typically a dependent clause comes after the main clause in a Takkenit sentence and are often preceded with a proclitic "je", which means "that", "what" or "whether", for instance: Tewe meŋi je-kukmekamkale "This is the man I've seen before", where [tewe meŋi] is an independent clause, since it can stand by itself as a simple sentence - "It's a man"; while [je-kukmekamkale] is a dependent clause and provides an additional information to the sentence - "It's someone I've seen before". The same phrase can be conveyed with a single clause Meŋi tajaleŋ, however the meaning is now more general, while the meaning of the previous sentence is more specific. Generally speaking, the complexity of Takkenit morphology allow more simple sentences than in English.
Some dependent clauses can begin with a dependent word, which are used instead or along with the "je-" proclitic for clarification. For example: Tuŋŋemiŋ jukunta kilketi "I know where you're going", where [jukunta kilketi] is a dependent clause beginning with a word jukunta "where". Again this can be expressed by a simple sentence junta kilkepatikeŋ, which has the same meaning, but is more general - it can also be translated as "I know where you go (from time to time)".
The North Wind and the Sun
Kiwerkawi Kajna ku tupewkatkamit je-wujmumeja, kuti pekleja tulmu kerkawna taŋkenute tamejneki. Pewkakmitejte, jeti ikta para tatekkatejle peklejam tekijunkele kerkawtem lukirken, kenittekepa wujmumekija. Tekute Kiwerkawi putinkaleleti je-wankat, le minkemu putinkati minkemu pekleja kerkawtem peltutteka ŋalku ekaljate; jellu ku Kiwerkawi kewtanutem ikarjaketteka. Tekute Kajna tulmakentuttele, pekleja ku iknekku kerkawtem lukirkakti. Kuje Kiwerkawi tejkat pekanitteken Kajnam je-wujmumekija.
- English translation:
The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveler came along wrapped in a warm cloak. They agreed that the one, who first succeeded in making the traveler take his cloak off, should be considered stronger than the other. Then the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveler fold his cloak around him; and at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shined out warmly, and immediately the traveler took off his cloak. And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.