Valian

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Valian
Välyatalle
Pronunciation /ˈvæljɑˌd̥ɑlle/
Created by
Setting
Region Eurasia
Native speakers 3 190  (2012)
Language family
Early forms:
Old Valian
  • Valian
Dialects
Standard Valian
Sanahta
Writing system Latin
ISO 639-3 qav

Välyatalle, [ˈvæl.jɑˌtɑl.le], (a compound of välya 'good, noble' and talle 'speech'), also known as Valian is an a priori artlang strongly inspired by Estonian phonology. The grammar is a mash up between agglutinative trends, weird case retention, a half-broken gender system (inspired by Swedish debates about forcing the use of a gender neutral pronoun to not 'offend' anyone), and appositional genitive constructions (with trends to state differences for nouns) and Spanish-style object/subject marking on verbs (e.g. entregandotelo 'giving it to you'). As a bonus, there's a lot of sandhi going on at morpheme boundaries to spice up the mix and a seeming Ablaut-style system in effect for many of the verb stems. It is currently being quickly codified as I spend more and more sleepless nights running different sounds through my head and deciding on morphological and syntactic features.

But "Why so much Eesti?" you may ask. Well, the truth is that I have come to realise Estonian is a language rich in "cellar doors" i.e. rich in sounds I find extremely pleasing, e.g. Greip - Vihma Loits (YouTube) and Sandra Nurmsalu - Velvetiin (YouTube).

To sum it up: Pretty much broken pseudo-Estonian if it were spoken by a sleep-deprived conlanger, high on insane morphosyntax.


Recently, it was successfully demonstrated to be related to Elasian [2013].

Phonology

Vowels

Valian vowel phonemes
Front Back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
Close i iː y yː u uː
Mid e eː ø øː ɤ ɤː o oː
Open æ æː ɑ ɑː

Word and sentence final short vowels are often pronounced slightly longer than their non-final counterparts (e.g. salma 'faith' [ˈsɑlmɑˑ]).

In verbs certain vowels may alternate in the stem, e.g. a-alternation in the verb magaan (to eat in an uncivilised manner, to gobble up) gives magaan ~ mähtama ~ memme.

Consonants

Valian consonants
Labial Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal
plain palatalized
Nasal m n (nʲ) (ŋ)1
Plosive p t (tʲ) k
Fricative v s (sʲ) (x)2 h
Approximant l (lʲ)3 j
Trill r

Notes:

  1. [ŋ] only occurs as an allophone of [n] before [k].
  2. [x] is a word-final allophone of [h] (e.g. ragah 'wound' [ˈrɑg̥ɑx]).
  3. [lʲ] is encountered in free variation with [ʎ] in certain varieties of speech (e.g. Sanahta dialect leia 'while' [ʎeiɑˑ~lʲeiɑˑ]).

Consonants may be palatalised; this occurs for p, t, n, l, s before i, e.

There is only one series of plosives in Valian. These are the unaspirated, unvoiced stops /p t k/ which may be realised differently depending on where they occur. While they are generally unaspirated, they may receive aspiration at the end of sentences, e.g. päht 'stone' non-final [pæht] becoming sentence-final [pæhtʰ]. Furthermore, they may also be semi-voiced intervocalically and after [n], [m] and [l], e.g. sede 'path' [ˈsʲed̥ʲeˑ]. The semi-voiced allophones are collectively referred to as being 'weakened'.

Phonotactics

Like other languages by Chrysophylax Valian seems to have a strong dislike for syllable-initial consonant clusters - that is, no onset consonant clusters have been discovered so far.

Syllables can at most be reduced to (C1)V(C2), where C1 can be any valid onset consonant (see list), V can be any single or valid combination of vowels (see list of tri- and diphthongs), and C2 can be any valid onset consonant or cluster (see this list).

Clusters

Clusters are primarily allowed word-medially; there are no initial clusters and only very few coda clusters.

    • /kt/ is forbidden, use /ht/, thus mähtamatu 'I ate myself up' instead of **mäktamatu but mäkkamatu 'you ate me up' and männamatu 'he ate me up'

Orthography

Writing Valian vowels is a straightforward process. The vowels are written with 9 different graphemes which correspond one-to-one to 9 different vowel qualities. ⟨a e i o u⟩ all represent /ɑ e i o u/ while for the more unusual vowels /æ ɤ ø/ ⟨ä ë ö⟩ are used. As vowels may be long, so too may the grapheme be doubled to indicate this, e.g. tää 'snow' [tæː].

Consonants

At its core, the language writes the plosive series as ⟨p t k⟩, the nasals as ⟨m n⟩, the trill as ⟨r⟩, the voiced labial fricative as ⟨v⟩, the palatal approximant as ⟨y⟩, the lateral one as ⟨l⟩, and the glottal fricative as ⟨h⟩. Palatalisation is not indicated in writing as it is the result of a regular process.

The "weakened" variants of p, t, k (see Valian phonology) encountered after certain consonants and intervocalically are written as b, d, g something which may confusion at first as they are not fully voiced sounds, unlike say English, but are actually only half voiced, often if word-final they represent unreleased stops. Like the vowels, the basic (non-weakened) consonants can all be doubled for the long versions of the consonants. Note, this means that there are no double ⟨b d g⟩ at all. The voiced labial fricative ⟨v⟩ is counted among the "weakened" consonantal sounds as it too cannot be doubled even though there is no 'full' form of it.

As will be noted, many forms of the personal pronouns and related affixes are written as if non-weakened with t, k even though they are between vowels. Nonetheless, they are to be pronounced as normal weakened consonants. One of the more prominent examples of irregularity in usage of the weakened consonants is evident in the native name of the language itself Välyatalle – a remnant from when the name was Välya(h) tallet and not one single word. There are many similar compound words that are spelt "strongly" when nonetheless pronounced "weakly".

Morphology

Nouns

Nouns in Valian can be inflected for number, gender, and possession. Unlike the pronouns, they are not inflected for case ever. Instead, Valian requires noun-heavy sentences to obey a quite fix word order to mark objects and subjects.

Gender

Words in Valian can belong to either a masculine (m), a feminine (f) or a neuter (n) gender. This is grammatically determined and does not always correspond to natural gender. For example, siit 'hope' is masculine, vilya 'cloud' is feminine, and aegast 'needle' is neuter. Generally, it can be said that nouns that end in a stop often are masculine, while nouns with final vowel sounds often are feminine. While there are some exceptions, this holds true in more than 70% of the cases. Determining if a noun is neuter is much more difficult as they may appear similar to both feminine and masculine nouns. The only sure way of knowing if a word is neuter is by memorising it.

Number

Nouns can be inflected for three numbers: singular (s), dual (dual), and plural (pl). The singular is the unmarked form.

Singular

The singular is the default, unmarked form of the noun. It is worth noting that there are many nouns which cannot be pluralised in standard Valian such as pää 'snow'.

salma
"faith"
Dual

The dual is used only for things that naturally form pairs such as eyes, twins, etc. It is thus not very common outside a very specific semantic area. Nevertheless, it is often utilised when referring to body parts. Care must be taken to remember that only the dual is correct here. The dual marker -id may seem a bit strange at first to those who have delved into the phonology of Valian. It is not too surprising when one takes into account that this is a relatively new development – the old dual was -idü – traces of which can be seen in certain set phrases such as "riimidüinä!", 'an attractive person, a hottie'.

nee suurana haaval-id rangaha-id
3sg has leg-dual long-dual
"He/she has long legs!"
Plural

The plural is formed by the addition of -in. If a plosive (p, t, k) is "trapped" between a preceding vowel and the plural it weakens to b, d, g (e.g. siitsiidin).

taevana silma-in.
worships star-pl.
"He worships the stars."

Possession

Nouns can be marked directly for possession, absorbing the role possessive adjectives have in many European languages. The markers are -tä, -kä, -nä corresponding to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd singular and follow the number marker. Thus siidinä 'his hope' and siiditän 'our (excl.) hope'. Although they are written with "unweakened" consonants they are to be pronounced as if written with the weakened set.

E.g.

declension of Valian, silma-declension
bare forms
singular dual plural
silma silmaid silmain
possessive forms
person singular plural
my silmaitä silmainitä
your (sing.) silmaikä silmainikä
her or his silmainä silmainnä
our silmaitän silmainitän
your (pl.) silmaikän silmainikän
their silmainän silmainnän


Adjectives

Adjectives in Valian can be broadly divided into two groups: ha-adjectives and s-adjectives. The first group (ha-adjectives) is characterised by ending in -ha, always being after their nouns and not inflecting for possession. The second group (s-adjectives) on the other hand are able to stand before their nouns in certain registers, inflect for possession, and always terminate in -s. There are some oddballs that do not belong to either group, as the verbal participle in -ttava which may behave as an adjective, a noun, or a verb, depending on context, e.g., an adjective and a verb in täättava handa 'the freezing man' or 'the man is freezing', and a noun in palia vëi Sveariik tärnama täättava vaha kui tää […] 'Sweden received a good freezing this morning as snow […].

First group (ha-adjectives)

These adjectives do agree with their heads in plurality but not in the state of possession. E.g., handain hauhain 'the wroth men' but never *handaitä hauhaitä 'your angry man'.

They are furthermore easily turned into adverbs by suffixing -n. e.g., vaha 'good' → vahan 'well'; huva 'lone' → huvan 'once'; hauha 'wroth' → hauhan 'wrathfully'.

Second group (s-adjectives)

This second group of adjectives agree with their heads in both plurality and state of possession. E.g., lai, lai, kasgelodinitä malmesinitä! 'Woe, woe, my sorrowful sperm whales!'.

Pronouns

Pronouns are quite distinct from nouns in morphological analysis. For one, they decline for three cases: nominative (nom), genitive-dative (gen-dat), and oblique(obl). They are also inflected for number, but unlike true nouns they never receive marking for possession nor gender. This means that pronouns are one of the freer elements in Valian and sentences composed primarily of pronouns need not follow the otherwise so rigid subject-verb-object word order.



Valian personal pronouns
number person nominative oblique genitive-dative
singular first tee tu
second kee ku
third nee nu
plural first teen tun tän
second keen kun kän
third neen nun nän

Verbs

Verbs in Valian are inflected for three tenses (distant past, past, present, although some analyses point to a future tense in the passive voice), three moods (indicative, optative, imperative), two voices (active, passive), polarity, number and person. Furthermore, many verbal stems alternate between several vowel qualities depending on things such as mood, voice and tense. They can also be marked for verb objects, similar to Georgian, Spoken French and Spanish.

A minor but quite important point in Valian is the alternation that certain verb stems show. One such alternation is the a-alternation encountered in primary verbs with the stem vowel /a/. In the past tense form it changes to /æ/ and when used to form nouns it changes to /e/.

Stem

The present stem of class I verbs (type magaan) is found by removing the infinitive suffix -an, thus giving maga-. To form the past tense stem, replace the stem vowel (a → ä) and drop the final vowel, giving mäg- for the past tense.

Tenses

Present

The present is generally used for denoting actions that are taking place in the now and is also used for forming the future tense in conjunction with specific adverbs. Unlike English which has a distinction between "I'm going" and "I go", Valian uses the same form for both. For thematic verbs, the present tense set of inflexions consists of -te, -ke, -na, -teen, -keen, -nän For athematic verbs, add the linking vowel -i- and the thematic endings. Thus magate, magake, magana, magateen, magakeen, maganän for the verb magaan.

Past

The past tense verb is formed similarly to the present but with a differing (secondary) set of inflexions: -tama, -kama, -nama, -tänna, -känna, -nänna; these are affixed directly to the past tense version of the stem (if there is such one) even if it's a thematic verb.
Thus mähtama, mäkkama, männana, mähtänna, mäkkänna, männänna for the verb magaan in the past tense.

Optative

The optative mood is used to express wishes and potentiality. It is also used in curses and swears. It is formed by the addition of -est(i) to the present stem and the primary inflexions -te, -ke, -na, -teen, -keen, nän.

  • Tuleikä meleestina "May thy kingdom come."
  • Tausaikä ruusiestina! "May your house come to be on fire!"

Imperative

The imperative mood takes no derivation but is formed directly from the radix of the verb. It exists for two persons - the first and the second. The first person only exists in the plural as -taa.

  • Kevataa! "let's forget it"

As for the second person, the singular takes no ending and is just the radix of the verb.

  • Ruusi! "burn!"
  • Palga! "take!"
  • Lahe! "give!"

The second person plural takes the suffix -kaa.

  • Melekaa! (Come you guys!).

The Sanahta dialect inserts /a/ between the suffixes and the radix if not doing so would result in an unpronounceable cluster, e.g. *läbtaa becomes Sanahta läbataa for Standard Valian lävaa.

Passive

The present passive is formed by adding the passive personal endings -sse, -kse, -sse, -tas, -kas, -las to the present stem.

  • taevasse 'I am made sacred, he/she/it is made sacred.'
  • nee palgasse saa Urmas 'It is being taken to Urmas.'

The past passive is formed similarly to the present but with the past stem.

  • tävisse 'I was made sacred, he/she/it was made sacred.'
  • nee pälgisse saa Urmas "he/she/it was taken to Urmas'

The passive has a tentative subjunctive/future form which is formed by adding -d to the singular endings and -si to the plural. This form has been found to correspond to both a wishing mood (similar to the optative) and a future tense as well. Presumably, it's unrelated to the optative as it differs strongly in form and comes after the personal suffixes unlike the optative which comes before.

  • Taevassed nennikä "May thy name be made sacred/Thy name will be made sacred."
  • Laheksed saa Vihtor kui ruuseemme "Thou art to be given to Victor as an offering/Thou shalt be given to Victor as a sacrifice."
  • Saolalassi saolain saolalinna! "May the songs of the song weaver be sung!/The songs of the song weaver will be sung!"

Negative

To negate a verb, the suffix -lya- is inserted before the person endings. Thus,

  • Taevalyaten' "I do not make it holy"
  • Lahelyassed! "I will not be given!"
  • Palgalya! "Don't take (it)!"

Syntax

Unlike its distant relative Elasian, Valian syntax does not adhere to a subject-object-verb basic word order but instead uses as its most common and unmarked form the same as English, i.e the subject-verb-object word order. Adjectives and adverbs generally follow their heads (e.g. pead miris lit. 'sparrow red') although an inversion may occur for adverbs in poetry. In more formal speech it is common to see the adjective precede the noun to mark definiteness, e.g. müotte malmesin kasgelodin ('I hunt the sorrowful sperm whales').

Valian verbs are able to encapsulate pronouns in an agglutinative fashion. It is therefore sometimes also possible to find sentences using a word order different from the default SVO if context is able to disambiguate, e.g. if it is known that the person speaking is doing so to another human, then taevakenu varra aas for what usually is aas taevake varra ('Girl, thou consecratest the chalice') becomes a perfectly valid sentence. Needless to say, distinguishing between the many options available for interpretation is one of the more confusing aspect of Valian to the beginner.

Formation of the genitive

In Valian, genitive structures are formed syntactically by apposition. It is a process similar to the English construction X of Y (e.g. John of France) or Ancient Hebrew's X-constr Y (e.g. bejt ha-sefer, where bejt is the constr of bajit).

  • rauda aura, "Hammer of Time" (lit. hammer time)

There is no morphological marking for it, unlike in Old Valian where the genitive was morphologically marked on the possessor by -a; the example above would have been rendered as rauda auraa.


Translations

Obligatory header translation

Talle nëi yärgatta huvan. Tälgisse küi yärgatalle midä nee käryatta vahan, nuras, sest mendest.
'This language was once made featured. It was chosen as feature-language because it is well-made, plausible, and useful'