Ceuja, (Léban Ceuja and Ceuja in Ceuja itself) is a Germanic language best characterised as Proto-Germanic with Spanish sound changes (via relevant Western Romance and Iberian sound changes) applied.
- 1 Name
- 2 Real world development
- 3 History of sound changes
- 3.1 Proto-Ceuja
- 3.2 Old Ceuja
- 3.3 Middle Ceuja
- 3.4 Early Modern Ceuja
- 3.5 Late Modern Ceuja
- 3.6 Insular Ceuja
- 4 Phonology
- 5 Orthography
- 6 Grammar
- 7 Vocabulary
The name Ceuja comes from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz, and is thus cognate to Deutsch, the endonym of the German language. It is sometimes also called Goja, Godano, or Gozano, from PIE *gutiskaz, *gutô, and Gothia, referencing the Goths. The association of Ceuja with the Goths does not necessarily refer to actual historical Goths so much as the medieval label given to Germanic peoples in general - compare to the terms "Teutonic" and "Dutch".
Real world development
Around June 2013, a Germanic conlang with a naïve interpretation of French sound changes applied to it was sketched up and called Jaillais (located currently on Google Sites). Later on, resources on the Phonological history of French, the History of the Spanish language and the History of Romanian (amongst many others) were encountered, highlighting some of the deficiencies of Jaillais.
For a while, no further development on Jaillais was made, but casual sketches with both more and less authentic Romance sound changes applied to the Germanic languages were made over the years. In the end, Spanish-inspired sound changes won out, as, next to French, Spanish has some of the stranger sound changes in the Romance language family, making it easier to obscure the original Proto-Germanic roots.
Over time, other conlangers developed better fleshed-out French-inspired mixed Romance-Germanic conlangs, and so Jaillais has been left unfinished to avoid crowding that creative space.
In December 2019, 6 and a half years after Jaillais, an absurdist, untranslated text was left in a conlanging group on Facebook with the intent of it being deciphered; this text demonstrated an earlier stage of Ceuja.
History of sound changes
This stage describes the state of Proto-Germanic after some initial sound changes have been applied to make the language more amenable to Latinate sound changes.
Three main processes define this period:
- Loss of vowel length distinctions
- Loss of nasalisation in vowels (and nasals before fricatives)
- Reanalysis of inflectional endings
Loss of vowel length distinctions
This process took place by replacing length distinctions with height distinctions instead. This mirrors the sound changes in late Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin.
|PGmc vowel||Early Proto-Ceuja||Late Proto-Ceuja||Latin Equivalents|
|*ô||ɔ::||ɔ, a||see more info|
|*ê||ɛ::||ɛ||see more info|
Reanalysis of inflectional endings
The main results of this process include:
- *-ą neuter nouns collapsing into *-az masculine nouns,
- merger of the accusative and nominative cases, leading to singular *-a and plural *-az for a-stem nouns (from *-az/-ą, and *-ōz/-anz), and singular *-i and plural -iz for i-stem nouns (from *-iz/-į, and *-īz/-inz),
- haphazard expansion of an-stem nominative *-ô (e.g. sahsô) into *-an- as per the above merger of the accusative and nominative, but in such a way that doublets are created, e.g. *sahsanu and *sahsō (Ceuja sajano, sajo).
Old Ceuja is characterised by:
- an initial wave of palatalisation for velars and dentals caused by front vowels and /j/,
- simplification of nasal clusters
- lenition of some intervocalic plosives,
- a reduction of consonant clusters involving plosives, resulting in a second wave of palatalisation,
- Romance vowel metaphony (cf Germanic umlaut) caused by the second wave of palatalisation.
In addition, an epenthetic vowel /e/ was inserted at the beginning of words starting with /sC/ clusters.
Palatalisation of velars and dentals
Palatalisation of velars occurred when velars came before front vowels, producing *ts (c) and *dj (j), and palatalisation of /t/ occurred when it was found before *-jV-, as in Vulgar Latin, producing *ts as well.
In addition, PGmc *þ merged into *ts (via laminalisation).
- *skēpą → *estsɛ́pa, *tsɛ́pa (Mod. cieba /ˈθjeβa/)
- *gebaną → *djebana (Mod. geban /ˈxeβan/)
- but *kāsijaz → *kasja (Mod. queja /ˈkexa/)
Simplification of nasal clusters
Nasal clusters were simplified in a number of ways:
- -mn- and -gn- were simplified into /n/
- -VmV̆nV- became /mbr/
- -ng- became /nn/ (this is one sound change where Ceuja differs significantly from Spanish)
In intervocalic environments and between voiced sounds, plosives (and f, h) underwent lenition. This did not affect geminate plosives.
In the syllable final position, plosives (and f, h) underwent vocalisation, which is the mechanism through which many subsequent consonant cluster reductions were completed.
The two exceptions to this rule are clusters with initial nasals, where the plosive keeps its phonation (not applicable to fricatives, which had already eliminated their preceding nasals), and clusters with a final -s, which undergo a slightly different set of transformations.
|Plosive||lenited form||vocalised form|
Consonant cluster reduction
Clusters with plosives, when reduced into a single consonant, tend to preserve the final consonant over the initial one.
Medial clusters were reduced as follows:
|Old Cluster||Early Medial step||Late Medial step||Final stage|
|jt, lt||jt||tj||t͡ʃ ⟨ch⟩, triggering metaphony|
|jl, lj, gl||jl, lj||j||j ⟨j⟩, triggering metaphony|
|ll||jl||lj||lj ⟨ll⟩, triggering metaphony|
|ks||sk ~ js||sk ~ sj||ʃ ⟨x⟩|
|wt||wtt||wtt ⟨ut⟩ (a later change)|
|wl||wl||wl ⟨ul⟩ (a later change)|
Initial clusters were reduced as follows:
|Old Cluster||Early Medial step||Late Medial step||Final stage|
|pl, kl||Clj||lj ⟨ll⟩, dialectally t͡ʃ ⟨ch⟩|
|bl, gl||l||l ⟨l⟩|
|sts||ts||ts ⟨c, z⟩|
|ks||sk ~ js||sk ~ sj||ʃ ⟨x⟩|
|pt||wtt||wtt ⟨ut⟩ (a later change)|
Accompanying the palataisation was a sound change that raised vowels occuring before a palatalised consonant, particularly *ts and *dj from prior *tj and *dj, and the second wave of palatalisation where velars and laterals were turned into palatalising glides. Note that the palatalisation of /nn/ does not trigger metaphony except for some dialectal variation.
This was fairly linear, as demonstrated below:
|Normal vowel||With palatal metaphony||Example|
|o||u||*folla → *fojla → *fulja (Mod. hulla)|
|e||i||*lexta → *lejta → *litja (Mod. licha)|
|a||e||*kasja → *kesja (Mod. queja), *tsaxta → *tsajta → *tsetja (Mod. cecha)|
Metaphony could also occur when intervocalic */g/ was reduced to /j/ (cf. leer in Spanish)
Middle Ceuja's major sound changes include:
- the diphthongisation of stressed open-mid vowels /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ into /ie/ and /ue/ (⟨ie⟩ and ⟨ue⟩; /ie/ was levelled to /e/ before existing /j/),
- the reanalysis of /je/ as being /ie/ from /ɛ/, leading to /je/ → /e/ in unstressed syllables,
- the establishment of a 5 vowel system,
- the merger of /dj/ and /j/ and fortition of the resulting consonant into a voiced fricative ⟨j⟩ /ʒ/ (⟨g⟩ before front vowels),
- the continued lenition of the plosives, turning the voiced plosives into fricatives (still spelt the same) and the geminated plosives into single ones (e.g. ⟨tt⟩ → ⟨t⟩),
- the merger of /b/ and /w/ (spelt ⟨b⟩ between vowels, and ⟨u⟩ when forming diphthongs),
- a gradual merger of /f/ and /h/,
- a gradual loss of /h/.
For some speakers, /f/ was lost immediately in some words, while for others it persisted as /h/, and for others nothing was lost.
Early Modern Ceuja
Early Modern Ceuja's major sound changes include:
- shifting /ts/ to /θ/,
- a merger of glided /i/ in falling dipthongs with /j/, thus initial ⟨ie⟩ becomes ⟨ye⟩,
- a gradual merger of ⟨x⟩ and ⟨j⟩ (to /ʃ/),
- a gradual merger of ⟨ll⟩ and ⟨y⟩ (to /j/),
- a complete loss of /h/, but speakers still using /f/ did not lose it,
- a gradual loss of unstressed final /a/ after unstressed -an-, e.g. -ana → -an (this is one sound change where Ceuja differs significantly from Spanish, and is related to the realities of Germanic stress patterns; in some cases, however, the Spanish tradition survives, creating doublets, e.g. *gebaną → geban, geuna).
Late Modern Ceuja
Late Modern Ceuja makes few additional sound changes to Early Modern Ceuja, but dramatically changes the language by shifting ⟨x ~ j⟩ and ⟨y ~ ll⟩.
- debuccalisation of ⟨x ~ j⟩ to /x/,
- fortition of ⟨y ~ ll⟩ to a voiced fricative /ʒ/,
- voicing of /s/ before voiced consonants.
Some Insular Ceuja dialects have some occasionally dramatic extra innovations on top of standard Modern Ceuja:
- epenthetic a- appears before initial ⟨r⟩, e.g. *regną → rena → arena (rain)
- an epenthetic vowel comes before a consonant and ⟨r⟩ or ⟨l⟩, identical to the vowel after ⟨r⟩ or ⟨l⟩
- merger of ⟨r⟩ and ⟨l⟩, with ⟨l⟩ appearing at the start of phrases, and ⟨r⟩ between vowels,
- /ai/ and /au/ become /ɛ: ~ ɛi/ and /ɔ: ~ ɔu/, (depending on dialect), e.g. *samftijaz → sauza → souza
- syllable final /r/ becomes /j/ or /h/ (depending on dialect)
- syllable final /s/ becomes /h/, e.g. *stōraz → estuera → ejtuera
- clusters starting with /h/ become geminated, e.g. ejtuera → ettuera
- voicing distinctions between initial plosives are lost
- in some dialects, /ue/ and /eu/ become /ø:/, e.g. ettuera → etteura
- in others, /ue/ changes the preceding consonant to a velar, e.g. ettuera → eccuera
- in some dialects, the final unstressed vowel is dropped, e.g. etteura → etteul, etteuy
The phonology of Ceuja is not unlike that of a somewhat artificial and sanitised form of European Spanish. For more context, see Spanish phonology on Wikipedia.
The main changes concern the voiced fricatives and /ʝ/.
In Modern Spanish dialects, the voiced fricatives are often pronounced debuccalised between vowels and other voiced sounds. In addition, ⟨y ~ ll⟩ (from *j and *lj respectively, now /ʝ/) is pronounced more closed. In practice, this results in ⟨b, d, g, ll~y⟩ all having similar phonation.
In Ceuja, the voiced fricatives and ⟨y ~ ll⟩ are all generally pronounced as actual voiced fricatives in the medial position. More debuccalised pronunciations are allowed, but not considered necessary for sounding "native".
|Phonemes||Cueja initially||Ceuja medially||Ceuja devoiced||Spanish equivalents|
|b||b||β||f||b β̞ ɸ̞|
|d||d̪||ð||θ||d̪ ð̞ θ̞|
|g||g||ɣ||x||g ɣ̞ x̞|
|y, ll||(d)ʒ||ʒ||ʃ||ɟʝ ʝ̞ *ç̞|
This trend against debuccalisation can be seen in the treatment of fricatives before plosives, with many modern Spanish dialects debuccalising these fricatives to a breathy sound, something not as common in Ceuja (but still acceptable).
The main difference in orthography with Spanish is the use of ⟨y⟩ to represent tonic /i/. For example, ⟨týe⟩ instead of *⟨tíe⟩, but ⟨cieba⟩ instead of *⟨cyeba⟩.
There are two kinds of traditional non-singular number:
- Plural, which uses -(e)s to mark the plural.
- Collective, which generally is marked with -on(e.g. *augô, *augōnō become oyo, oyon (eye, eyes)).
In addition, in the Late Modern language, when a plural noun is the actor and agrees with a verb in number, it can be substituted with the collective, with the collective suffix being stressed (e.g. -ón). This is a dissimilatory process, and is associated with educated speech. The repetitiveness of the final -s in the nominal and verbal plural forms is seen as a little bit repetitive.
The use of -ón as a general nominal plural is considered colloquial.
There are two main variations of the infinitive, which also doubles as a gerund:
- the plain infinitive, ending in -(a)n
- the ameliorative infinitive, ending in -(a)no
These generally follow a tonic pattern of CV́Cană, where the non-tonic -ă was dropped (and, in the case of -ano, replaced with the feminine -o).
In addition, there are doublets of the infinitives caused by the CV́Căna tonic pattern, where the medial -ă- was dropped, resulting in CV́Cna, with the -Cn- cluster being resolved as elsewhere in the language (e.g., consonant vocalisation, assimilation, etc).
Illustrating all these variations is the verb "give":
- plain infinitive: geban /ˈxeβan/
- ameliorative infinitive: gebano /xeˈβano/, /ˈxeβano/
- tonic doublet: geuna /ˈxeuna/
Unlike other Germanic languages, Ceuja has generally regularised verbs, although doublets have been formed from different tense forms (even retaining their tense distinctions sometimes).
Early Modern declension
This is the traditional declension of Early Modern Ceuja, with variant forms in italics.
geban, "To give", has a fairly straight forward descent from Proto-Germanic *gebaną in the present tense. However, the past tense is a post-PGmc innovation.
|Infinite forms||Infinitive I||geban||*gebaną̆||Present participle||gebando||*gebandz|
|Infinitive II||geuna||*gebăną||Past Participle||gebá||*geba-daz|
|2nd||gebes||*gibizi||gebaces, gebaz||*gebadiz||gebe, gebed ~ gebez||*gibidi|
|3rd||gebez, gebe||*gibidi||-||-||geban, gebande, gebaz||*gebandi|
In the case of ejan, "to have", we see some levelling and analogisation of *habjaną take place early on. It also uses an innovated past tense that differs to that from PGmc.
|Infinite forms||Infinitive I||ejan||*habjaną̆||Present participle||ejando||*habjandz|
|Infinitive II||yena||*habjăną||Past Participle||ejá||*habja-daz|
|2nd||ejes||*habaisi||ejaces, ejaz||*habjaþiz||eje, ejed ~ ejez||*habaiþ|
|3rd||ejez, eje||*habaiþi||-||-||eje, ejande, ejaz||*habjanþi|
And in the case of aban, "to miss" in the sense of "to be missing something", we can see a doublet formed from the original PGmc past tense of *habjaną
|Infinite forms||Infinitive I||aban||*habd-aną||Present participle||abando||*habd-andz|
|Infinitive II||auna||*habd-aną||Past Participle||abá||*habd-adaz|
|1st||abo||* habd-ō||abos||*habd-ōs||abas, aumas||*habd-amaz|
|2nd||abes||*habdēz||abaces, abaz||* habd-aþiz||abe, abed ~ abez||*habd-aiþ|
|3rd||abez, abe||*habdē||-||-||aban, abande, abaz||*habd-anþi|
Late Modern declension
The Late Modern language has drastically restructured the verbal system, levelling both persons and numbers into a more regular system, and reinnovating the participles.
In addition, tense has become more marked with the use of duén "to do" prefixed before the verb (de- for the past, from fossilised doublet dién "to have done, to have experience doing", and do- optionally for the imperative).
|Past-passive||de-geuná (de-gebaná, -én)|
|1st inclu.||-||gebas (geumas)|
|1st inclu.||-||de-gebas (de-geumas)|
The future tense is marked with the fully inflected auxiliary verb escolan ~ escoran, although it too is being transformed into a non-inflecting future prefix co(r)- ~ jo(r)-, with the markedly colloquial form cho(r)-.
|You(.PL) will give me it||Esbe escolaces mes za geban||Esbe mes za co-gebaces||Ombe me'zza chor-gebaces|
|We will have it||Os escolos za ejan||Os mes za co-ejos||On za chor-ejos|
|I will drag it there||Y escolo za tuyan a zal||Y za co-tuyo zalén||Y za cho(r)-tuyo zalén|
A preliminary wordlist:
- a /a/ = of
- cyna /ˈθina/ = your
- ella /ˈeʒa/ = but
- es /es/ = be-3s
- escoña /esˈkoɲa/ = beautiful (dial. escuña)
- -ézo /ˈeθo/= -th, -ity
- hiera /ˈjeɾa/ = hair
- hor /oɾ/ = for (dial. hur)
- hulla /ˈuʒa/ = full
- jola /ˈxola/ = yule (dial. jeula ~ yebra)
- laa (la) /'la(.a)/ = radiant, happy, glad (var. laya)
- laña /ˈlaɲa/ = long (dial. leña)
- liebo /ˈljeβo/ = lion (lebýno /leˈβino/ = lioness)
- lice /'liθe/ = blithe, serene, cheerful, peaceful
- luema /ˈlwema/ = flower
- mano /ˈmano/ = mane
- meñesta /meˈɲesta/ = least, minimum
- mieu /ˈmje.u/ = mead, honey
- on /oⁿ/ = and
- óyon /ˈoʒoⁿ/ = eye
- sen /ˈseⁿ/ = be-3p
- son /ˈsoⁿ/ = like, similar to
- týe /'ti.e/ = time
- -ýa /'i.a/ = -y, -ic
- -ýna /'ina/ = masculine base diminutive suffix (combine with -l- or -qu- for more effect)
- -ýno /'ino/ = -ess, feminine base diminutive suffix (combine with -l- or -qu- for more effect)
- za, zo /θa, θo/ = the (M/F)