lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary

Loanwords II. Waldaiic, Celtic and others

Nothing is ever simple.

Waldaiic

Waldaiic is a branch of Indo-European languages classified as satem, meaning that Proto-Indo-European velar and labiovelar plosives merged while palatals stayed distinct.

It is spoken in large parts of eastern and northeastern Europe. Its notable members include, from northeast to southwest, Ethiynic (spoken roughly between the rivers Volga and Daugava), Bhaltic (between Daugava and Vistula), Cherric (between Vistula and Elbe), Undavan and Elbic (south of Cherric). The first attempts to reconstruct the unattested Proto-Waldaiic language were undertaken in the late 19th century.

Jack Nodwhich and Egon Ekbert Schrejber
A rare picture of Jack Nodwhich (left) and Egon Ekbert Schrejber (right) at a meeting of the Waldaiischer Conversations-Bund (Waldaiic Conversational Bunch). Click to enlarge and note the logo on the hatbands. The identity of the moustached man facing the camera remains a mystery.

All present-day Waldaiic languages, as well as Volgan, Suomish, Magyarian, Basque, and the Celtic languages except Danubian (and formerly Beskidic), are written in the Waldaiic alphabet, which is the third major European script besides Greek and Lemizh. To spare our readers learning another writing system, we will use the Roman transliteration devised by German linguist Egon Ekbert Schrejber. It is straightforward for vowels (except for Ethiynic which will be described further down); consonants are denoted as follows:

LabialDental (alveolar)‘Palatal’Velar
Nasalsmnň /ɲ/ŋ
Voiceless plosives/affricatesptc /t͜s/k
Voiced plosives/affricatesbdj /d͜z/g
Voiceless aspirates/affricatesphthč /t͜ʃ, t͜ç/kh
Voiced aspirates/affricatesbhdhǰ /d͜ʝ/gh
Voiceless fricativesfþ /θ/š /ʃ, ɕ/x
Voiced fricativesvðž /ʒ/ɣ
Other voiceless soundsshl /ɬ/hr /r̥/h
Other voiced soundszlr

(Schrejber originally wanted to use ß for /s/ and s for /z/, and ß̌ and š for /ʃ, ɕ/ and /ʒ/, respectively; but this proposal was met with general disbelief.)

Glides are written with the vowel letters i and u.

Proto-Waldaiic x-wld

The protolanguage was probably spoken during the late third millennium BCE in the Middle East. Old Lemizh has loaned some scattered words from Proto-Waldaiic, such as warndzi‑ ‘rice’, shark‑ ‘gravel’, gword‑ ‘rose’, and gweshsh‑ ‘trick’ (from the PWald word for ‘birdlime’).

On the other hand, Proto-Waldaiic had plenty of loans from Old Lemizh, many of them related to seafaring and mathematics: PWald *sgvála < OLem sgwal‑ ‘boat’, *thuphḗskhas < tüpēsk‑ ‘dolphin’, *álgo < alg‑ ‘calculate’, etc.

Phonology

Proto-Waldaiic shortened PIE *a and *o and simplified diphthongs, resulting in a nearly regular vowel inventory *a *e *i *o *u, *ā *ē *ī *ō *ū, *ö, with the latter not only being the reflex of *eu̯ but also preserving a trace of the labiovelars – it is the outcome of *e after *kʷ *gʷ *gʷʰ. The two diphtongs, *au *ei, do not continue the PIE ones but are reflexes of earlier *ab(h)/aph *eg(h)/ekh, respectively.

The following consonants are reconstructed:

LabialDental‘Palatal’Velar
Nasals*m*n
Voiced plosives/affricates*b*d*j*g
Voiceless aspirates*ph*th*kh
Voiced aspirates/affricates*bh*dh*gh
Voiceless fricative*f
Voiced fricatives*v
Other voiceless sounds*s*h
Other voiced sounds*l*r

The recostruction of a consonant inventory with voiceless and voiced aspirates, and voiced, but not voiceless, plain plosives is a matter of ongoing dispute. A number of scholars argue that it is highly unlikely for a language to have only marked (voiced and aspirated) sounds but no corresponding plain ones, as such a system would quickly collapse into a simpler, less marked, one. Schrejber usually responded to such criticism with snide comments about German and English aspiration of voiceless plosives.

Proto-Waldaiic had mobile accent; whether stress or pitch is unclear.

The PIE palatals *k̑ *g̑ *g̑ʰ developed into *š(ž) *j *ǰ, respectively. The most famous diachronic development is the ruki-rule: after *r *r̥ *u *u̯ *k̑ *k *i *i̯, the sibilants *s *z became *š *ž.

Morphology

Proto-Waldaiic verbs had lost the imperfect tense, the subjunctive mood, as well as the mediopassive voice, and innovated a new passive, but otherwise continued the PIE forms including the dual. We cite verbs in the first person singular present indicative active, which had the ending *‑o in thematic and *‑mi in athematic verbs.

Nouns and adjectives had singular, dual and plural forms and inflected for seven cases. The citation form for nouns is the nominative singular, which typically ended in *‑as for thematic masculine and *‑a for thematic feminine and neuter words. Athematic words continued the PIE *‑s either as *‑s or as *‑š, unless they were endingless due to Szemerényi’s law. Adjectives, again, are cited in their masculine forms.

Further reading

Under construction
Old Elbic and Ethiynic are still under construction.
Please have patience!

Old Elbic x-plo

Elbic (x-pl) is a Waldaiic language spoken in a small area of the Krkonoše or Giant Mountains, near the source of the river Elbe. For our purposes, we are however interested in Old Elbic, which spanned a considerably larger area – from the Baltic region to the Rhine – for a short time around 200 BCE during the height of the Elbic Empire.

Phonology

The Old Elbic vowels were a e i o u, with no contrast between short and long ones. The consonants are:

LabialDental‘Palatal’Velar
Nasalsmn
Voiceless plosivestc /t͜s/k
Voiced plosivesbdj /d͜z/g
Voiceless aspiratesč /t͜ʃ/
Voiceless fricativesfš /ʃ/x
Voiced fricativesvðɣ
Other voiceless soundssh
Other voiced soundslr
Further reading

Ethiynic x-et

Ethiynic (also ‘Ethijnic’ following the German spelling), endonym Eþījnu, is spoken in northeastern Europe, roughly between Lemaria and Suomi. Modern Lemizh loans include financial and trading terms.

Phonology and orthography

Ethiynic has a complex vowel inventory based on the five standard vowels, which are pronounced differently when unstressed, stressed, stressed and long, or stressed, long and nasalised. Each vowel has a corresponding diphthong; these only occur in stressed positions, and are never nasalised. The following table shows Schrejber’s (German-based) orthography and the pronunciations.

unstressed (a etc.)stressed (á etc.)stressed long* (ā etc.)stressed nasalised (ã etc.)
a[ɐ][ɑ][ʌː][ʌ̃ː]
e[ə][ɛ][eː][ẽː]
i[ɨ][ɪ][iː][ĩː]
o[ɞ][ɔ][oː][õː]
u[ʉ][ʊ][uː][ũː]
aw[ɑ͜ʌ][ɑː͜ʌ]
ej[ɛ͜e][ɛː͜e]
ij[ɪ͜i][ɪː͜i]
ow[ɔ͜o][ɔː͜o]
uw[ʊ͜u][ʊː͜u]

* Long (un-nasalised) vowels and diphthongs rarely occur in citation forms but are common in the passive as well as in substantivisations of adjectives: Eþijnu is ‘Ethiynic’ as an adjective, while Eþījnu is the noun referring to the language as well as the people.

† Schrejber’s self-flattering attitude is well known.

Here is the consonant inventory.

LabialDental‘Palatal’Velar
Nasalsmnň /ɲ/ŋ
Voiceless affricatec /t͜s/
Voiced plosives/affricatesb*d*j /d͜z/g*
Voiceless aspirates/affricatesthč /t͜ç/kh
Voiced aspirates/affricatesbhdhǰ /d͜ʝ/gh
Voiceless fricativesfþš /ɕ/x

* The plain plosives, written b d g, are voiced in most positions but have voiceless variants in word-initial position and before other voiceless consonants.

Other voiceless soundshlhr
Other voiced soundslr

The most iconic feature of Ethiynic is a group of sound shifts known as Boil’s Dozen, after Marvin V. Boil (who, as we know, also published a series of lectures on the Tlöngö̀l):

  1. *sph > f (e.g. *sphérdho ‘run away, flee’ > férdho ‘flighty, elusive’)
  2. *f > p (written b) word-initially and before unvoiced consonants (*frī́no ‘churn’ [of the sea] > brĩne ‘go down in turmoil’)
  3. *f > l elsewhere
  4. *sī > su > þu
  5. *ðe > a before ph and r
  6. *ðe > aw elsewhere (*ðeskhmö́ > awþkhmej ‘butterfly’)
  7. *khl, *kh > l
  8. *kh > p (written b) word-initially
  9. *ða > a (i.e. disappears before *a, as in *milíða ‘sweet’ > milīa ‘honeymoon’)
  10. *th > b word-internally and word-finally (*nifthónas > nibbóna ‘tide’)
  11. *sl > mm (*themslás ‘twin’ > thẽmma ‘evil twin’)
  12. *ma > õ (*mai > õi ‘my, me’)
  13. *l > ∅

Morphology

Verbs distinguish tense, aspect, mood, and voice, partly by inflection and partly using constructions with auxiliary verbs. Person and number are expressed with pronouns and have no impact on verb forms. They are traditionally cited in the imperative, which consistently ends in ‑e.

Nouns and adjectives do not inflect for case and only distinguish singular and plural. They continue the PWald nominatives and are cited in the singular. There is no general way to form the plural, but the common ending ‑a (< PWald *‑as, *‑a, *‑aPIE *‑os, *‑eh₂, *‑om) typically turns into ‑o.

Further reading

* also a pseudonym

Uyquaritan x-uqb

Uyquaritan is an undeciphered and most likely non-Indo-European language that flourished around the 4th/5th centuries BCE in northeastern Asia Minor, and for some reason was written in an early form of the Waldaiic script, with an abundance of diacritics and an additional letter transcribed as ʜ. In Roman transliteration, some letters are written differently from Schrejber to avoid stacking of diacritics (č → ʧ, ǰ → ʤ, ň → ɲ, š → ʃ, ž → ʒ), although this convention makes Uyquaritan texts hardly easier to read. To prove the point, here is the penultimate line from the so-called Ode to ‘Ŋā (although scholars disagree whether this poem is actually addressed at somebody called ‘Ŋā):

 õtaim̃ yo pǐr̯amiȷ̈̃ ǟz xõrẍe łvis v̟ǒr̀xes̊ eɣrāps’

Almost needless to say, many linguists have attempted to decipher this language, variously claiming genetic relationships to Boolean, Babylonian, Persian, and even Chinese. Jack Nodwhich has the honour of being the only linguist to actually admit his failure.

This language does not seem to have had any influence on Lemizh whatsoever, unless of course Uyquaritan was the source of the Late Middle Lemizh principle of relativity, which is however mere speculation, if not a hoax.

Further reading (selection)

Celtic

The Celtic branch of the Indo-European family is centum like Hellenic, but otherwise not particularly closely related to Greek.

All living Celtic languages are descentants of the Insular Celtic subbranch (consisting of Brittonic, Gödelic, and Aballoic) which is, among other features, distinguished by word-initial consonant mutations; the other (‘Continental’) Celtic languages died out in antiquity. The domain of the Brittonic languages is southern Britain (British and Welsh), Scandinavia (Scadian), Jutland (Danish) and Iceland (Eylandic), while Gödelic is spoken in northern Britain (Scottish) and Ireland (Irish), and the only extant Aballoic language is Danubian in central Europe.

Proto-Celtic x-cel

The common ancestor of the Celtic languages was spoken around 1000 BCE in central Europe, most likely by the people of the Urnfield culture (c. 1300–750). Middle Lemizh has a few Proto-Celtic loanwords, such as bodaragnyr ‘drum’ (whence ModLem wdràg. ‘fight’), karwyr ‘carnyx > trombone’, trigjyr ‘music’, fraatja ‘perceive’, and danoujyr ‘Danube’.

Phonology

The vowels *a *e *i *o *u occurred short and long, with the exception of *o, which was always short because PIE turned into or . The diphthong system was reduced to *ai *au *oi *ou. And here are the consonants:

LabialAlveolarPalatalVelarLabiovelar
Liquids*l, *r
Nasals*m*n
Plosives*b*t • *d*k • *g*kʷ • *gʷ
Fricatives*s*x
Glides*y*w

Proto-Celtic had mobile accent, which is not always indicated in the dictionary for lack of data. The inherited Proto-Indo-European pitch accent likely transitioned into stress accent during Proto-Celtic times.

Apart from the centum merger, diachronic developments included de-aspiration of breathy voiced plosives (*dʰ > *d etc.) and weakening of *p to the labial fricative , which subsequently disappeared altogether. Laryngeal consonants vanished while their vocalic allophones turned into *a.

Morphology

Large portions of Proto-Indo-European morphology remained unchanged. The optative mood, though, was lost, as was the dual in verbs. The imperfect forms are unrelated to those in PIE. Verbs are cited in the first person singular present indicative active, which ended in *‑ū when thematic and in *‑mi when athematic; nouns and adjectives in the nominative singular (masculine), often ending in *‑os for masculine and *‑ā for feminine forms.

Further reading

Beskidic x-sk

Beskidic (endonym Skid; the prefix Be- is probably from the Magyarian locative adverb) was an Aballoic language from the Beskid Mountains that became extinct in the late 15th or early 16th century. The closest living relative is Danubian (endonym Θανυ̨χ), spoken in the Alps and surrounding lowlands.

The main source of Celtic loans in Early New Lemizh is the Tlöngö̀l, which Ramo littered with Beskidic musical terms and words relating to other arts, tree names, and some others such as proxekxa < pråxäkx ‘badger’. Linguist and professional dancer Ida Yana Nash elucidated the intricate but ultimately pointless concepts behind the Beskidic words in the Tlöngö̀l.

Phonology

Beskidic had seven vowels, a ä å e i o u, and five diphthongs, ai äu åu ei oi, all of which occurred in short and long versions.

Lenition is the change of a consonant after a vowel. Epenthetic ä (as in the word for ‘badger’ above) did not give rise to lenition. The pattern of changes was as follows:

LabialAlveolarPalatalVelarGlottal
Liquidsl→ł /ɫ/, r→ŕ /ɹ/
Nasalsm→ń* /n/n→n
Plosivesp→bt→dk→g • g→ɣʼ→/h/
Fricativesf→∅s→xx→x/h/→∅
Affricatespf→fts→skx, kf→x
Glidey→ː

* ń was pronounced the same as n but written with a different letter; the difference is purely etymological.
† lengthening of the preceding vowel or diphthong

Beskidic had no words beginning with a vowel. If the first letter of a word was a vowel letter, it actually began with an [h]: mai ubn [ma͜iˈhubn̩] ‘my lamb’. The un-lenited form of ‘lamb’ began with a glottal stop: ʼubn [ˈʔubn̩]. An initial vowel sound caused a word to merge with the preceding one: māiåux [ˈma͜iːɔ͜ʊx] ‘my liver’ (un-lenited form: yåux [jɔ͜ʊx] ‘liver’).

Here is the complete consonant inventory:

LabialAlveolarPalatalVelarGlottal
Liquidsl, ł, r, ŕ
Nasalsmn = ń
Plosivesp • bt • dk • gʼ /ʔ/
Fricativesfsx • ɣ/h/
Affricatespftskx
Glidey

The accent was fixed on the penultimate syllable.

A rather disconcerting kind of vowel harmony between the penultimate and ultimate vowels of a word changed the quality of the former, before the latter was lost due to apocope: Celticist Gaspar Hoyt claims in regular intervals to have solved this riddle with his ‘11-limit theory’.

The most apparent diachronic development of consonants was devoicing of plosives except in lenited positions; unvoiced plosives, meanwhile, turned into affricates when unlenited and into fricatives when lenited.

Morphology

Verbs were inflected for person and number (singular and plural) in the present and past indicative; most other verb forms were periphrastic. The citation form is the first person singular present indicative active, which ended in -m for verbs of athematic origin but was endingless for verbs of thematic origin. Most other forms were constructed with auxilliary verbs.

Nouns and adjectives did not inflect for case. The plural ended in -aib, a generalisation of the Proto-Celtic ablative plural of o- and ā-stem nouns. Many adjectives and some nouns had different masculine and feminine forms due to vowel harmony with the old endings (e.g. poduŕ/podaŕ ‘deaf’, yåŕkx/yåuŕkx ‘roe buck/doe’), in which case the masculine is cited.

Further reading

Other languages

Many other languages have contributed words to the Lemizh lexicon at all times: for example, bRÌj. ‘iron’ and bilà. ‘approve’ are ultimately from Akkadian, kÌt. ‘cat’ and RenÌj. ‘monkey’ from Ancient Egyptian, and tamgà. ‘tango’ from Ibibio, a Nigerian language.

In modern times, contacts with other parts of the world have widened the spectrum of loanword sources: labÌt. ‘car’ is from Magyarian, bunÌ. ‘coffee’ from an Afro-Asiatic language (probably Amharic), txÌ. ‘tea’ from Mandarin Chinese, kolÌb. ‘hummingbird’ from a Caribbean language, oranutnÌ. ‘orangutan’ from Malay, and markÌw. ‘kangaroo’ from an Australian language in which the word actually refers to a type of alcoholic sweet.