The phrase vrnaljaj saci written in cursive Vrnallian script
|Spoken in|| Vrnallia|
|Native speakers||ca. 1,451,000 (2018)|
|Writing system||Vrnallian alphabet|
|Official language in||Vrnallia|
Tir Lhaeraidd (regional language)
|Regulated by||Vrnallian Language Assembly (Vrnaljaj Sacij Dnàje, in an advisory capacity)|
Vrnallian (pronounced /vəˈnæljən/ or /vəˈnælijən/, Vrnallian Vrnaljaj Saci /vr̩ˈnaʎas ˈsat͡ɕi/ or Vrnalják /vr̩naˈʎak/) is a language isolate spoken as a native language by about 1,441,000 people in the United States of Vrnallia and between five and ten thousand more people as a minority language in northern Tir Lhaeraidd. It is descended from the Old Vrnallian language and is not known to be related to any other attested language. Vrnallian is also written with its own alphabet system which is also held to be an isolated system.
Vrnallian's literary history dates back to the sixth century CE, when Old Vrnallian is first attested. However, substantial texts only being to appear from the ninth century, shortly after similarly extensive writings appear for Old Lhedwinic. By the fourteenth century Old Vrnallian had become Middle Vrnallian, a period of major linguistic changes. From the fifteenth century to after the conquest of Vrnallia by tir Lhaeraidd in the seventeenth century the linguistic period is identified as Early Modern Vrnallian, with the Neo-Modern period beginning in the late seventeenth century, the period at which the language most resembles that of modern Vrnallia. Long periods of exposure to both Lhaeraidd and Lhedwinic speakers has led to many changes within Vrnallian, particularly with regard to loanwords.
The language as spoken in Vrnallia can be divided into four main dialects or dialect groups corresponding to each of the four Vrnallian states, with further subdivisions. The language of Tir Lhaeraidd is typically analysed as a fifth dialect group though some linguists have argued that it is a separate language. A study by the Midrasian linguist Georges Carlos found roughly seventy-five percent mutual intelligibility between the two varieties, with the main difficulty in understanding being the much greater proportion of loanwords and grammatical structures from Mawr Lhaeraidd used by continental speakers.
The non-governmental Vrnallian Language Assembly is responsible for monitoring the development of Vrnallian in Vrnallia and has been responsible for co-authoring legislation relating to the language, the most recent of which was the Vrnallian Spelling Regularisation and Simplification Act (2007) which regularised the language's orthography. They are also responsible for the nation's collection of Old Vrnallian and old Modern Vrnallian texts, which are stored in the archives of the University of Vrnallia. Vrnallian Independence Day has also been celebrated as Vrnallian Language Day since the late 1970s.
- 1 History
- 2 Classification
- 3 Legal Status
- 4 Dialects
- 5 Standardisation
- 6 Phonology
- 7 Grammar
- 8 Vocabulary
- 9 Writing System
- 10 Example
Practically nothing is known about the speech of Vrnallians before the first writings are attested. Although some proper nouns occurring in foreign languages from further back in history seem to have a Vrnallian origin, it is difficult to make any generalisations from so limited a set of words, particularly when they have certainly been altered by the pronunciation of foreign speakers. The language is generally held to predate the arrival of Catisuran peoples to the continent of Asura, a characteristic shared by a small number of other languages of the continent.
Old Vrnallian is the oldest attested stage of the Vrnallian language, and is significantly different to the modern language. Indeed, the differences are so great that the modern language is seldom useful in attempting to decipher Old Vrnallian texts, they being both lexical (cf. modern godóg "swan" but OV skuhátáku) as well as grammatical (entire paradigms of inflection were lost by Middle Vrnallian). Traces of Old Vrnallian grammar are found in the modern language in fossilised forms such as dùla "to here", etymologically the lative form of dus, but this case has been lost in the modern language.
Vrnallian writing is first attested from the sixth century CE in a series of shorter inscriptions. These inscriptions depict Old Vrnallian written in the block script (Mnovajulun) and are mostly attributions found on personal items or stone art. Writing becomes significantly more common from 800-900CE. Some of the major examples follow.
Major Old Vrnallian Texts
- Bannu Stone, Hujre. The oldest known Old Vrnallian inscription, slightly damaged: óna sóttiskástýkar óna bóségla [m]uakálídek bánn[u p'í]nágut "I, Sottiskastyka, plac[ed a c]urse upon the stone for my [e]nemies". For "enemy", muákális, cf. modern khelis "friend". Notable for using óna instead of later ónar for "I/me", which was largely replaced in later texts.
- The haft of an axe, Hujre. The first inscription not in stone, worn but readable: dús déhíto [uán] "this [is] my axe".
- Jespaska Stone, Dvrieska. An inscription evidently relating the story of a battle, weathered and unreadable in places: ékúgo áraktáhándon fírú[k'ađ obbúhágun]... [ób]buhágúnnu sá áldúi... íđ alsómái máđíru... stýkášta uágun táhágun áraktáhándo obbúhatádéi pajáđógo "here, Araktaando [fought Fi]rukath... they [f]ought, one... and the other (with) bravery... in the end it came to pass that Araktaando died (while fighting) ahead of his troops". Notable for marking the ergative case with -n rather than -r, a feature of some Dvrieska dialects to this day.
- Uro Necropolis, Hujre. A series of later inscriptions describing murals in tombs. Well preserved. Mostly personal names, but also examples such as the following: duhóskúha zággo urdúnúgo páraslámág[un] íđ táhágun dús úróšta pagúpúlker "Duoskua work[ed] hard all his life and he died peacefully. Rest in peace." The expression pagúpúlker, literally "sleep well", is the source of the modern puphulgier.
- The Codex Mercis. By far the most important text for understanding Old Vrnallian grammar, this diary from Hujre details a variety of mundane affairs, primarily economic transactions, and appears to have been written by a Trúathi priest. Examples within include the following: isádéhi baŋŋádéhi fúto myllýkkaráhádu dúgla áhíguniđ guóltégun; nasuágúttu ísaš kizégúttu muánasuágúttu isádéhi guoltégútto "a man from Mlekie laden with many things came here and traded (with us); we bought those things we wanted and sold those things we did not want."
- An Old Lhedwinic─Old Vrnallian wordlist, found in Crylante. The single most important discovery for understanding the lexicon of Old Vrnallian, providing translations for many hapax legomena (such as uórođ "lava") and clarifying other meanings (such as šúkas, source of the modern word siugas "feather", already known to be an animal term but explained as referring to nǫkkurr fogl "some sort of bird").
Middle and Early Modern Vrnallian
From the thirteenth century and the introduction of vellum to Vrnallia, writing becomes more frequent and changes within Old Vrnallian become more noticeable, and by the fourteenth century the language has sufficiently changed that the period is classified as Middle Vrnallian. This is a period of widespread and rapid changes, with a huge variety in attested forms of words within a relatively short period, owing primarily to the development and swift replacement of various irregular forms of words. For example, in a text dated as 1387, we see the word dunad "I will meet", yet just twelve years later in a text from 1399 we see the regularised dnad instead.
By the fifteenth century this period of rapid change has largely ended, and the language has stabilised. This is the start of the Early Modern Vrnallian period, still distinct enough from the modern speech to warrant its own period. The most notable Early Modern Vrnallian text is the Codex Insularum, a five-folio handwritten text dated to the early 1500s which is part of a record book kept by a trader from Dvrieska. It includes two poems, both untitled, which are well known amongst Vrnallians in their modernised forms.
Early Modern Vrnallian is notable as a period coinciding with the occupation of Vrnallia by tir Lhaeraidd. Although Lhaeraidd interaction with the Vrnallian language dates back into the Old Vrnallian period, it is during the occupation of the archipelago that this interaction becomes most important, with a wealth of loanwords entering the language during this period. There is some evidence that the sound /ð/ was reintroduced from Lhaeraidd during this period, though this may have been a feature only of educated speech, later to be lost again. The language variety of the administrative centre of Vrnallia, Dvrieska City, became the prestige dialect of the country during the occupation period. This has remained the case through to the modern day, even though the capital has since moved to Zalejk.
From the seventeenth century onwards, the linguistic period is referred to as Neo-Modern Vrnallian, or occasionally still as Modern Vrnallian Proper. As written Vrnallian was only standardised during this recent period, the modern spelling almost consistently matches the pronunciation of Standard Vrnallian, with only a few irregularities.
Vrnallian is not known to be related to any other known languages, and is therefore classed as a language isolate. Linguists who split insular and continental dialects into separate languages place them in a Vrnallic language family, consisting of only those two languages and Old Vrnallian as their predecessor. Most likely Vrnallian was related to some other languages spoken in Asura which became extinct before they were ever written. A somewhat popular, but still widely discredited theory, is that Vrnallian is connected with Brillian, the language of Brilliania. More fringe theories have attempted to connect Vrnallian to a range of other languages.
Modern Vrnallian, particularly the forms spoken outside Vrnallia, have syntax and morphology significantly different from that of Old Vrnallian, most likely reflecting a change towards systems seen in other Asuran languages. For example, where Old Vrnallian used the lative case to show motion towards a noun (a case rare in Asuran languages), the modern language uses the absolutive case with a postposition (preposition in Continental Vrnallian), eg. Old Vrnallian lýkkágla "to the shore" but modern lekie ap or ap lekie. However, these changes are not suggestive of any genetic relationships. Far more likely is that more prestigious languages ─ Lhedwinic in Vrnallia and the Lhaeraidd languages in tir Lhaeraidd ─ have interacted with the Vrnallian dialects and caused grammatical changes as a result.
Characteristics which Insular Vrnallian shares with varieties of Lhedwinic include: the loss of many elements of verbal morphology outside auxiliary verbs; the retention of possessed-possessor order in noun phrases; the placing of titles after their head noun; a partial shift to verb-object syntax; the use of prepositions rather than postpositions. Characteristics which Continental Vrnallian shares with Lhaeraidd languages include: the relatively greater use of analytic verbal constructions; the partial development of inflected adpositions; the placing of adjectives after their head when determiners or numerals occur; the complete loss of prenominal relative clauses. Additionally, learned vocabulary differs greatly, with Insular Vrnallian possessing loans from Lhedwinic where Continental Vrnallian prefers Lhaeraidd-origin words: "university" is kademijat in Vrnallia, from Lhedwinic akademiet but dav-yskol in Lhaeraidd, with dav- the native word "big" and yskol "school" from Mân Lhaeraidd ysgol.
Vrnallian is the sole official and national language of the United States of Vrnallia, where it is spoken as a first language by the Vrnallian people and most second-generation or later immigrants, numbering almost all of Vrnallia's population of over 1,440,000. In official and formal contexts, such as news broadcasting or education, Standard Vrnallian is used in preference to a dialect. An understanding of Standard Vrnallian is taught in schools, and as the written language is based on this standard, it is important for literacy. Public bodies such as the state broadcaster VRTV requires the use of the standard language as part of the Communications Unity Act 1930, which requires impartiality in all areas including language.
Vrnallian is recognised as a regional language in northern Tir Lhaeraidd, where Vrnallian settlements and trading posts existed as far back as the ninth century CE. At least five thousand and perhaps as many as ten thousand natively-born people regard it as their native language. Vrnallian remained in usage in many such areas but gradually many areas switched to using a Lhaeraidd language. The largest concentration of Vrnallian speakers today can be found around the town of Saied (Vrnallian Zejed), which was the town where the Saied Convention was signed. However, the dialect is regarded as threatened, with the number of speakers falling. Revitalisation efforts aim at preventing the decline in Vrnallian use and introducing new generations to the language.
Although there are Vrnallian-speaking communities in Lhedwin, the language does not have legal status in any Lhedwinic country. Most speakers there come from families which migrated during the economic hardships of the 1920s-40s. Since Lhedwinic has been widely taught in Vrnallia since independence, most speakers were able to integrate quite seamlessly and stopped using the language, neither passing it on to their children. Only a few areas have enough of a concentration of Vrnallian speakers for the language to still be vibrant.
Vrnallian has two dialect groups: Insular Vrnallian, including all the dialects of the Vrnallian archipelago, and Continental Vrnallian, including the dialects of tir Lhaeraidd. Insular Vrnallian is further divided into groups corresponding to Vrnallia's states, which each have a group of more closely related dialects spoken within them. A minority of linguists consider the Insular and Continental dialects to be separate languages. However, as with some adjustment the two varieties are mutually intelligible, this is not the usual opinion.
- Insular Vrnallian
- Urban Dvrieska (UD)
- Modern Standard Vrnallian
- Rural Dvrieska (RD)
- Bronazia (Br)
- Urban Dvrieska (UD)
- Colloquial Zalejk (CZ)
- Urban Mlekie (UMk)
- Rural Mlekie (RMk)
- Urban Hujre (UH)
- Rural Hujre (RH)
- Kujsia-Nevizia (KN)
- Urban Mazej (UMz)
- Rural Mazej (RMz)
- Daskavona (Ds)
- Continental Vrnallian
- Other dialects
Standard Vrnallian, including high-register speech styles which are based on this standard, falls into the Dvrieska dialect group. The Dvrieska dialect group is mainly spoken on the island of Dvrieska, as well as nearby inhabited islands. This group can be subdivided into Urban Dvrieska (the basis for the standard), Rural Dvrieska and Bronazia dialects. Urban Dvrieska is mainly spoken in the towns and surrounding countryside of southern Dvrieska particularly Dvrieska City, with variants spoken on the islands of Trùcha and Halkazia. Rural Dvrieska is spoken in the countryside of Dvrieska, particularly in the north of the island, as well as on the island of Inciage. The Bronazia dialect is particularly notable for its reanalysis of the alveolopalatal consonants into palatalised dental consonants, perhaps through hypercorrection.
Urban Dvrieska (UD) has only minimal differences to the standard. UD consistently raises the long vowels /ɛː/ and /ɔː/ to [eː] and [oː], whereas most speakers only tend to raise /ɛː/ when it follows a palatalised consonant or /j/. UD also backs the vowel /ɨ/ to [ɯ] within certain environments, such as in the prefix dyn- [dɯn].
Rural Dvrieska (RD) is similar to UD, but has a more conservative phonology, lacking, for example, any kind of vowel reduction. A notable innovation is the pronunciation of /ui̯/ as /ai̯/, for example pronouncing jerúj "best" as [jeˈrai̯].
In Bronazia Vrnallian, the consonants /t͡ɕ d͡ʑ ɕ ʑ ɲ ʎ/ are consistently replaced with [t͡sʲ d͡zʲ sʲ zʲ nʲ lʲ]. Given that many occurrences of these consonants can be traced to alveolopalatals in Old Vrnallian, this appears to be the result of a far-reaching hypercorrection. Otherwise, this dialect is similar to RD.
The Mlekie dialects, sometimes called the Mlekie-Vorod dialects to match the name of the state, are mainly spoken on the island of Mlekie, as well as the island of Vorod and other islands in this state. The group divides into the colloquial language of Zalejk, Vrnallia's capital, simply called Colloquial Zalejk, as well as Urban and Rural Mlekie and Vorod dialects. Elements of this dialect can be found amongst young people across Vrnallia. The Urban Mlekie dialect is spoken around Mlekie City and Zalejk and other towns in southern Mlekie, as well as on Irichto. The Rural Mlekie dialect is spoken primarily in western and northern Mlekie. The Vorod dialect is limited to Vorod island, and can be thought of as something intermediate to Urban and Rural Mlekie dialects.
Colloquial Zalejk speech has been influential lexically on dialects across the country. However, phonetically it retains a unique (but apparently spreading) feature of long vowel diphthongisation. Every long vowel is turned into a falling diphthong, as in the following examples: ìcha "night" [ˈɐi̯χə]; bmùd "soldier" [bⁿɐu̯t]; dnè "crowd" [dⁿiɛ̯]; thòz "house" [tʰuɔ̯s]; jà "on, at" [jɛæ̯]; thàn "death" [tʰɔɑ̯n]. CZ has also completely lost the prespiration which is otherwise typical of Mlekie dialects.
Urban Mlekie (UMk) is marked amongst older generations, though in more recent times influence from the standard dialect has reduced the distinctness of this dialect. This dialect seems to have been that from which the feature of a three-way distinction between lateral consonants common to all Mlekie dialects originates; compare: lucita "to offer" [ɫuˈt͡ɕitə] with a velarised lateral, lekie "coast, shore" [ˈlɛkʲe] with a plain lateral, khalju "steep" [ˈkʰɑʎu] with a palatal lateral. In CZ, this distinction has become contrastive before underlying /ɛ/ and /ɨ/ as the latter has merged with the former: lebis "smell" [ˈlɛbʲɪs] but lybiz "straight" [ˈɫɛbʲɪs].
Rural Mlekie (RMk) is lexically similar to UMk, but far more divergent phonologically, having a particular tendency to drop reduced vowels entirely. This is very common, for example, with /i/ following a palatalised consonant: hamoridóv "at the dancer" [həmɔɾʲˈdɔf]; hezi "living room" [hɛʑ]; iraki "therefore" [iˈɾækʲ]. RMk strongly maintains preaspiration such as in the word cikhas "edge", usually [ˈt͡ɕixkəs].
Vorod's dialects are generally similar to UMk but also share features with the dialects of Dvrieska such as a general lack of vowel reduction. Vorod speakers also notably tend to pronounce the rhotics as [ɹ] and [ð]: jerúj [jeˈɹɔi̯]; hamoriéd [hɑmɔˈðɛt]. This feature makes the dialect particularly recognisable to Vrnallians, and Vorod speech is generally thought of as somewhat comical-sounding.
The dialects of Hujre and the surrounding islands divide into three subgroups. The Urban Hujre dialect, perhaps the most innovative of the insular dialects, is spoken around Hujre City and some other cities in central Hujre. The dialect has sometimes been called Central Hujre Vrnallian as a result. Rural Hujre speech is found in places along and near the coast of Hujre, and has thus been called Coastal Hujre Vrnallian. This is also spoken on the island of Padál. The islands of Kujsia and Nevìzia share a dialect which does not clearly fall into either other group.
Urban Hujre (UH) includes a number of innovative features. Aside from the typical Hujran feature of replacing word-medial affricates with geminate fricatives, as in saci "tongue" [sæɕɕi], these include the loss of unstressed syllables and the retention of the Middle Vrnallian cluster /xk/, which generally became /ɕk/, as in uraška (formerly urachka) "peace" [uˈɾɑxkɑ].
Rural Hujre (RH) is more conservative than UH, having not undergone the affricate shift so characteristic of the interior dialect. However, it is also notable for certain vowel differences; cf. standard lybiz "straight" and RH lubíz, standard daci "middle" and RH dùci. A common vowel difference is the absence of /o/ for Old Vrnallian /a/: standard hogas "old" but RH hagas.
The islands of Kujsia and Nevìzia share a dialect (KN) which has a general affinity to RH but with certain differences. KN retains Old Vrnallian /a/ like RH, but has experienced the shift /xk/ → /ɕk/. Most notably, -s has been completely lost as a marker of the absolutive: standard boras "strong" but KN bara. In some circumstances this has led to the creation of new words to avoid mergers; for example, since standard hogas "old" and haga "red" merge in this dialect, "red" is always hagathí "red-coloured" in KN.
The dialects of Mazej divide into three subgroups. On Mazej proper, Urban and Rural dialects exist, with the former spoken on the east-central coast and the latter spoken elsewhere. On Daskavona island, certain peculiarities dating back to Old Vrnallian exist which have led to a separate dialect. All Mazej dialects frequently reduce unstressed vowels, and all unusually lack the vowel [ʌ].
Urban Mazej (UMz) has undergone a different shift of Middle Vrnallian /xk/, which in this dialect is generally realised as a geminate consonant /kk/: uraška [ʊˈɾɑkkə]. This has extended for some speakers to cause /xt/ to become /tt/, such as the ending -chto which may be pronounced -tto in UMz.
Rural Mazej (RMz) is the only insular dialect to retain the pronunciation of alveolo-palatal consonants as true palatal consonants, though only in some instances, such as uždi "we (ergative)" [ˈuʑɟə]. The dialect also has the /xk/ → /kk/ shift seen in the urban dialect but in southern Mazej the standard /ɕk/ occurs instead.
The dialect of Daskavona (Ds) island is largely similar to Rural Mazej, but contains certain idiosyncrasies dating back to Old Vrnallian. In particular, Daskavona seems to be the only modern dialect to descend from an Old Vrnallian dialect containing the ejective affricates /t͡sʼ t͡ɕʼ/, which were replaced with geminate plosives elsewhere. For example, Old Vrnallian míccu "thick" gives Modern Standard miciu "paste", but the variant míc'u gives Ds micu, with the lack of a geminate consonant preventing palatalisation from occuring. Wherever else the standard language has /t͡s t͡ɕ/ Ds tends to have aspirated consonants: lucita "to give" [ɫʊˈt͡ɕʰitə].
Given the scarcity of speakers today, the only well-documented Continental Vrnallian dialect is that of Saied. This dialect contains many phonological innovations completely unknown in Vrnallia, but also is rather more conservative grammatically on average, retaining for example postpositions while the insular dialects now use prepositions as standard. Furthermore, lexically Continental Vrnallian lacks the Lhedwinic component of Insular Vrnallian but has taken borrowed far more from Lhaeraidd; compare Standard Vrnallian khujan "king, noble" (Lhedwinic kongen) and Insular bbenin "king" (Lhaeraidd brenin) or ychla "noble" (uchel).
To document the full range of phonetic differences is not possible here, so some notable examples follow. Certain universal phonetic changes include /ʎ/ becoming /ʝ/ and /x/ becoming /ç/ (with no distinction from /xʲ/) as well as the replacement of the nasally released series with tense nasal consonants, such as khubmu "group" [ˈkʰumːu]. Additionally, insular /t͡ɕ d͡ʑ/ become palatal /c ɟ/ in all environments, and non-syllabic /r/ consistently assimilates to the preceding consonant, for example bmakhran "he does not play" [ˈmːakʰːan].
Although in many ways Continental dialects are more conservative than Insular dialects, influence from the languages of Lhaeraidd have led to certain innovations unknown in the standard language. For example, the Saied dialect appears to be on the way to developing a system of inflected adpositions like those seen in Lhaeraidd languages. Although the dialect normally uses postpositions, before "clitics" such as the personal pronouns prepositions are used, and truncation of the resulting phrase has led to words such as doni "with me" from du honi and dudziej "with us" from du diždiej entering common use.
Vrnallian does not technically have a legally binding regulatory body. However, the Vrnallian Language Assembly (VSD), based in Zalejk, has recommendatory authority over the standard language (both spoken and written forms). The standard language is based on federal educational guidelines, many of which are in turn based on the recommendations of the VSD. These recommendations tend to deal specifically with formal speech and writing today, with colloquial speech considered to be outside the Assembly's authority. Traditionally, the VSD was a basically prescriptivist body, with its guidelines being presented as "correct" usage as opposed to the often "incorrect" usage of many dialects. Today, however, the Assembly is tolerant of dialectal diversity and presents its recommendations as "stylistic" instead.
"Standard Vrnallian" does not really refer to one entity, but rather to a continuum. On one end of this continuum is the written language, which is often archaic compared to speech, while on the other end is a colloquialised form of the standard speech. Most actual uses of the standard in speech falls between the two extremes. A greater adherence to the standard is a marker of formal speech, while the use of dialects is more informal.
There is no real standardisation amongst Continental Vrnallian speakers. The written language is typically Mawr Lhaeraidd for these individuals, and when Vrnallian is written it tends to be in informal contexts and therefore matches the spoken dialect. However, language revitalisation efforts in tir Lhaeraidd have required some degree of standardisation. This tends to be based on the traditional speech of Saied but with elements taken from Modern Standard Vrnallian, particularly with regards to the written language. Thus, where a native speaker might write kkhoguar for "thunder", revivalists advocate khrogúr to match the standard spelling. The pronunciation remains predictable for the Continental dialects.
The phonology of Vrnallian is notably different from the other languages of Asura. Although there are similarities to the Sclavonic languages, this appears to be a coincidental and independent occurrence, as Vrnallian has not had historical interaction with those languages. Vrnallian is notably for its tolerance, preponderance even, of lengthy word-initial consonant clusters. Vrnallian is described as a very consonant-heavy language.
A phonemic inventory of the consonants of Modern Standard Vrnallian is presented below.
|Plosive||Plain||p b pʰ bⁿ||t d tʰ dⁿ||k g kʰ|
|Palatalised||pʲ bʲ pʰʲ bⁿʲ||tʲ dʲ tʰʲ dⁿʲ||kʲ gʲ kʰʲ|
|Affricate||t͡s d͡z||t͡ɕ d͡ʑ|
|Fricative||Plain||f v||s z||x||ɦ|
|Palatalised||fʲ vʲ||ɕ ʑ||xʲ||ɦʲ|
|Sonorant||Plain||m||n l r|
|Palatalised||mʲ||rʲ||ɲ ʎ j|
The distinction between aspirated and plain voiceless consonants seems to be disappearing after fricatives, especially /s/, such that sthinúh "in the ash" for example is often pronounced [sʲtʲɪˈnuχ]. However, in all other environments aspiration is retained. Before a voiced consonant, this causes devoicing: khmata "join" [km̥ʰɑtə]. Aspiration is also completely neutralised word-finally, and the VSD's romanisation system does not write <h> in such positions: vrnalják "Vrnallian" not *vrnaljákh [vr̩nʌˈʎɑk]. Typically, final consonants are lightly released. In some dialects, aspirated consonants in unstressed syllables can become preaspirated: cikhas /ˈt͡ɕikʰas/ "edge" [t͡ɕiʰkəs].
The alveolopalatal affricates /t͡ɕ d͡ʑ/ can be analysed as the palatalised forms of /t͡s d͡z/ and have the alternative pronunciations [c ɟ] which are mainly used in Continental Vrnallian: cilmi /ˈt͡ɕilmʲi, ˈt͡sʲi-/ "handle" [ˈt͡ɕilʲmʲi, ˈci-], dzije /ˈd͡ʑijɛ ˈd͡zʲi-/ "axe" [ˈd͡ʑije, ˈɟi-]. The nasally-released /dⁿʲ/ is often pronounced as a true palatal [ɟⁿ] even in Vrnallia, but it is treated as the palatalised equivalent of /dⁿ/. In urban dialects, the alveolopalatal phonemes /ɕ ʑ t͡ɕ d͡ʑ/ may be pronounced as retroflex [ʂ ʐ ʈ͡ʂ ɖ͡ʐ] in some environments. The most common environments for this change seem to be preceding velar consonants and high vowels, such as jšku /jɕku/ "fault" [ɪʂˈku].
The palatalised glottal fricative /ɦʲ/ is usually pronounced as a palatal fricative [ç], though some speakers merge it with the approximant [j]. Its plain counterpart /ɦ/ is increasingly pronounced voiceless. Before /ɔ/ and especially /u/, this sound often labialises becoming [β] or [ɸ]: miejohud "I spoke" /mʲɛˈjɔɦud/ → [mʲɪˈjɔβʊd]. The velar fricatives /x xʲ/ vary greatly between dialects, though the most common pronunciations respectively are [χ ç].
The phonemes /d͡z/ and /d͡ʑ/ are fairly rare, having typically deaffricated in native words in most dialects. They occur primarily in loanwords, but also in words like dzata "to tell" and dzicha "size". In the former word, the phoneme is the result of syncope, while in the latter it is a secondary development from Middle Vrnallian /dgʲ/.
Most speakers pronounce the simplex rhotics /r rʲ/ as a tap [ɾ ɾʲ]: ràz /ˈraːz/ "man" [ˈɾɑːs], hamoriéd /ɦamɔˈrʲɛd/ "dancer" [həmɔˈɾʲet]. The rare corresponding geminate sounds are often, though not always, pronounced as alveolar trills. In Vorod, they are pronounced with /ɹ/, while in parts of Mazej they are pronounced with /ʀ/: parras /ˈparras/ "deck of a ship" [ˈpɑrrəs, -ɹɹəs, -ʀʀəz] (from Nausikaan parras). The alveolar trill is maintained in full in Continental dialects.
At the end of a word, except before another voiced consonant, voiced phonemes are pronounced voiceless in standard Vrnallian: fìg /fʲiːg/ "nature" [fʲiːk], helíz /ɦɛˈʎiz/ "wealthy" [hɛˈʎis]. This is not the case for phonemes which have no voiceless counterpart, such as /m/. Additionally, the phoneme /ɦ/ becomes /x/ when devoiced. Additionally, before voiced consonants, all voiceless consonants are pronounced with voicing, including across word boundaries: šgata /ˈɕgata/ "to cure" [ˈʑgɑtə], nevis gomun /ˈnɛvʲis ˈgɔmun/ "winter comes to an end" [ˈnɛvʲɪz ˈgɔmun]. For some speakers, there may be exceptions to this rule. For example, in Insular Vrnallian, it is common for /s/ to remain voiceless before /v/, as in svathí /svaˈtʰʲi/ "light blue" [svʌˈtʰʲi] or [zvʌˈtʰʲi].
Consonant length must be analysed as phonemic in Vrnallian, although minimal pairs are rare. In Insular dialects, it is only distinctive between vowels, primarily across word boundaries when a nominal occurs in the genitive case, while in Continental dialects it is distinctive in all positions and is sometimes analysed as a contrast of tenseness rather than length. An example of a word containing a long consonant is joccióv "after that" /jɔtˈt͡ɕɔv/.
Whether palatalisation in Vrnallian can truly be analysed as phonemic is a matter of some debate. Palatalisation disappears from most consonants when morphophonemic changes cause them to occur at the end of a word. A commonly cited example is the verbal inflection -dnju /-dⁿʲu/ which has the short form -dn /-dⁿ/. This does not apply to the alveolopalatal consonants: micuč /ˈmʲit͡sut͡ɕ/ "thickness".
A phonemic inventory of the vowels of Modern Vrnallian is presented below.
|High||i iː||ɨ||u uː|
|Median||ɛ ɛː||ɔ ɔː|
Stressed vowels can be both long and short; see the "stress" section below.
For most speakers the phoneme /ui̯/ is pronounced [ɔi̯], though some speakers from Dvrieska and Inciage pronounce it as [ɑi̯]: hujmi /ˈɦui̯mʲi/ "booze" [ˈhɔi̯mʲi] or [ˈhɑi̯mʲi]. The pronunciation [ui̯] mainly persists in rural inland dialects. The diphthongs /ai̯ au̯/ have been retained only in Tir Lhaeraidd; speakers from Vrnallia usually pronounce these as [ɛi̯ u], but in Mlekie and Mazej the latter diphthong has generally merged with /ui̯/: jejcha /ˈjai̯xa/ "journey" [ˈjei̯xə], ustiena /au̯sˈtʲɛna/ "era" [usˈtʲɛnə] or [ɔi̯sˈtʲɛnə]. Since the standard orthography is based on Insular Vrnallian, these phonemes are no longer spelt <aj au> in most instances. The older spelling is retained primarily in proper nouns, such as Lajchavož.
The central phoneme /ɨ/ only occurs following plain consonants, as in dyn- /dɨn/ "central". It is fairly rare, occurring somewhat more often in loanwords than native words, for example lanygva /laˈnɨgva/ "plantation" from Lhaeraidd planhigfa. Some linguists choose to not treat it as phonemic, but as an allophone of /i/ following a plain consonant. However, as no long */ɨː/ exists, it is generally analysed as a true, albeit marginal, phoneme. Moreover, it can occur word-initially, though only in loanwords principally from Lhaeraidd. In some dialects, /ɨ/ has been lost as a distinctive phoneme. In Mlekie, the sound often merges with /ɛ/, remaining distinct only in how preceding /l/ is pronounced. In Hujre and southern Mazej, the situation is more complicated, with multiple pronunciations depending on environment, affected by both the preceding consonant and surrounding vowels. However, the details of this change are still not fully understood.
The phone /a/ has both front and back pronunciations, respectively [æ] and [ɑ], depending on the frontness of other vowels in the same word. The following vowel determines frontness, unless no vowel follows in which case the preceding vowel determines frontness. In monosyllables or words only containing /a/, most speakers use the back allophone: azia [ˈɑʑə] "home".
Vowel reduction is common in many Insular Dialects, and is also part of the standard language. The main reduced vowels which occur in Vrnallian are [ɪ ə ʌ ʊ]. [ɪ] occurs primarily following a palatalised consonant, replacing all vowels except /u/. [ə] occurs following plain consonants, while [ʌ] occurs preceding the stressed syllable as an allophone of /a/ and /ɔ/. The vowel /u/ typically only reduces to [ʊ] regardless of environment; because of this consistency it is often undifferentiated from [u] even in narrow transcriptions. Although in Standard Vrnallian all unstressed vowels may be reduced, some dialects do not reduce pretonic unstressed vowels, and therefore never use [ʌ]. Also, underlying long vowels always retain their quality for some speakers, even when unstressed, and therefore have short length. For example, sàbm /saːbⁿ/ "north" but sabmióh |saːˈbⁿʲɔɦ| "in the north" [sɑˈbⁿʲɔχ].
Word-finally, unstressed vowels frequently merge into four vowels: [i ɛ u ə]. After a plain consonant, the only merger is that of /a/ with /ɔ/. After palatalised consonants, however, /ɛ/ merges with /i/ and for some speakers /a ɔ/ also merge, leaving only [i u] in word-final unstressed syllables after palatalised consonants: lekie /ˈlɛkʲɛ/ "coast" [ˈlɛkʲi]; azia /ˈaʑa/ "house" [ˈɑʑə ~ ˈæʑi].
Nasal vowels can occur under specific circumstances in Standard Vrnallian. When a word-initial consonant cluster containing /m/ or /n/ precedes a vowel, often the cluster will be simplified with /m/ becoming [v] and /n/ disappearing entirely. However, the nasal articulation of the consonant is preserved as nasalisation of the following vowel, for example mgabm /mgabⁿ/ "nine" [vgɑ̃bⁿ].
The consonant /r/ can occur as the nucleus of a syllable. Unless there is only one other syllable in the same word, following the syllable with /r/, as in vrni /ˈvr̩ɲi/ "island", it is always unstressed. For the assignment of stress, it is ignored entirely: dierugr "empty (ergative)" /ˈdʲerugr̩/ not */dʲeˈrugr̩/.
Vrnallian has largely unpredictable stress which tends to fall on the last or second-to-last syllable of a word. Antepenultimate stress is uncommon in native words in the standard language, primarily occurring when a clitic is added to a word with penultimate stress, eg. kléjungo "most difficult" from klejun "more/most/very difficult". In Continental Vrnallian, it is far more common due to different rules for allocating stress in compound words: mòphiju /ˈmoːpʰiju/ for standard maphiju /maˈpʰiju/ "ankle".
Certain rules of stress are related to inflection, such as that the locative singular form of a regular nominal always has stress on the final syllable. These rules can be learnt, but are not phonologically motivated. Such forms all involve a stressed final syllable occurring as the result of some inflection. A related rule involves stress being retained after any syncope occurs; this causes for example the short plural verb endings to always be stressed: nazgadnju but nazgádn "they want".
A stressed vowel may be either long or short. Vowel length is far more important contrastively than consonant length: dur "tower" or "this (ergative)" or "good (ergative)" but dùr "he/she mourns"; sir "new (ergative)" but sìr "season". Any shift in stress causes the loss of vocalic length: chù "lake" but chuzióh "on the lakes".
Vrnallian is very tolerant of complex consonant clusters, many of which violate phonetic hierarchies such as the sonority hierarchy. Word-initially Vrnallian permits up to three consonants in such clusters as /dvrʲ-/ in dvrieska "Dvrieska", /vsp-/ in vspata "to think", /nɕtʰʲ-/ in nšthigiéjn "sunrise" and /jɕk-/ in jšku "flaw". Other complex initial clusters include /pɲ-/ in pnjata "to cover", /ngʲ-/ in ngiel "Náhöll", /mv-/ in mvonóh "wooly" and /ɦʎ-/ in hligúv "hen". Word-internally Vrnallian permits up to four consonants to occur in sequence, as in jegvrduta. However, in a four consonant sequence, one consonant is always syllabic /r/. Otherwise, only three-consonant clusters are permitted, such as /-tvɲ-/ in kademitvnjazióh "at the students" and /-gmb-/ in jegmbùta "to wage war in".
Only a single consonant is permitted at the end of a syllable: vien "commander" but viendar "commander (ergative)", where the stem is /vʲend/ but the cluster is simplified at the end of the word in the standard language. Similarly, ydzior "trumpet" has the ergative ydziornar. The short forms of verb endings demonstrate the same simplification: traglju "you (pl.) are sitting" but tral (short form) instead of *tragl. There is a single exception to this rule: the word vang, a form of vata "to be".
Simplification of clusters is common in casual speech, but the manner of simplification varies between dialects. For example, speakers vary in how frequently and in what environments /m/ in a word-initial consonant cluster lenites to [v]. Particularly in Continental Vrnallian, clusters tend to be broken up by inserting epenthetic vowels, so that in CV črizata "to freeze smth." becomes cierizata.
In word-initial consonant clusters, /j/ is frequently subject to vocalisation to /i/. This is always the case following a consonant, and this is reflected in writing: van iškú not *van jšku "it is a problem". Elsewhere the situation is more complicated, with various sociolinguistic factors influencing whether to vocalise. Large-scale vocalisation is generally associated with lower-class males, and is regarded as informal if not outright undesirable.
Inflection in Vrnallian has a tendency to cause unpredictable changes to the preceding stem of a word. Sometimes this is some sort of vowel change, but very frequently vowels are completely lost. This process is called syncope and is the primary reason for the plethora of complex permitted word-initial consonant clusters. Some roots experience two degrees of syncope, the first being the loss of length on a long vowel and the second being the same vowel's elision. An example of this is sàn "short (absolutive)", sonúh "(locative)", snuzióh "(locative plural)".
Vowel changes most frequently occur when a long vowel loses its stress or when a vowel at the end of a stem changes in word-final position. An example of the former change is sàn above, while an example of the latter change is macie "three (absolutive)", mathar "(ergative)". Other changes exist, but all possible variations would take too long to categorise, so as a single example: kviecie "alliance (absolutive)", kviecar "(ergative)", kvicóv "(locative)".
Vrnallian is a generally agglutinating language with some fusional elements (primarily found in nominal forms). Nominals (ie. nouns and adjectives) and verbs have extensive inflectional systems, for example azie-zi-oho-ni "in their houses" (lit. "house-s-in-their") and bma-ro-ksa-hu-d-zad "I have not killed [anyone]!" (lit. "not-anyone-kill-ed-I-emphasis").
Vrnallian is exceptional amongst Asuran languages for possessing an ergative-absolutive morphosyntactic alignment, while other Asuran languages have a nominative-accusative alignment. As a result, in Vrnallian one says an higad "I rise" but honar dus hagazad "I raise him". In the former sentence, an is placed into the absolutive case, while in the second sentence it is placed into the ergative (honar), whereas a nominative-accusative language would use the same case in both instances. However, Vrnallian is syntactically accusative, so the verb in both sentences agrees with the first person argument.
In Vrnallian grammar, the term "nominals" refers to both nouns and adjectives, which behave in similar ways. The primary inflectional difference is that nouns may take possessive suffixes (azia "home" → azied "my home") while adjectives may take suffixes to show degree (kleju "difficult" → klejun "more/most difficult", kljunjém "less/least difficult"). Both are identical in how cases are inflected (absolutive azia, kleju → locative azióh, klejúh).
Nominal declension is highly unpredictable in Vrnallian due to various changes which can occur to the stem of a noun. In Vrnallian grammar a nominal described as "regular" tends to mean "regular with regards to its suffixes" rather than "regular with regards to its stem". There is a different, unpredictable change to the stem of both pujk "song" (piekha-) and buni "profit" (bnje-), but since both take regular suffixes, they are called "regular". Dictionaries of Vrnallian tend to provide four forms of regular nominals: the absolutive, ergative and locative singular and the locative plural. With these forms all possible stem changes can be observed and the nominal properly declined.
The regular suffixes used for each case can be summed up as follows: singular absolutive -Ø or -s, ergative/dative -r, genitive -j, locative -h or -v, essive -šta; plural absolutive -š, ergative -z, genitive/dative -zej, locative -zióh, essive -zešta. The use of -h or -v in the genitive singular is not predictable. In the plural only -h occurs as part of the semi-fusional suffix -zióh.
An example of the declension is given below. The noun pujk means "song". As with many Vrnallian words, both verbal and nominal, in many case forms the stem changes, here from pujkha- to piekha-. The stem is highlighted in bold.
Some nominals contain an archaic ending -s in the absolutive singular. With that exception such nouns decline regularly; the example given below is for kodas "self".
Vrnallian includes various nominal subclasses which are generally called "irregular", although these classes are in fact regular within themselves. The majority of these subclasses trace back to nominals in Old Vrnallian with stems ending in a consonant rather than a vowel. These appear to have been regular in Old Vrnallian, though taking slightly different suffixes. However, sound change has cause this regularity to become irregularity.
The most common irregular nominal class (other than the dimunitive; see below) consists of the so-called "eth nouns", named for their historically ending in /ð/. In the modern tongue this varies between /d/ and /ʑ/, as follows for rakad "animal" (Old Vrnallian rak'ađ).
Another class consists of "velar nouns", which stems end in some velar consonant, such as jarik "river". Note that of the two genitive singular forms, that ending in -i is the more common today:
A number of nominals have truly irregular declensions (that is, if they pattern like any other nominal, they number too few to constitute a truly distinct paradigm). An example of such a noun is zah "everything", which incidentally seems to have been the only truly irregular nominal in Old Vrnallian. An attempt has been made to identify the stem based on the historical forms of the word.
The diminutive ending -zej makes up an irregular class which is common enough to be worth providing. This suffix was slightly irregular in Old Vrnallian, and sound changes have made it even more so in the modern language:
|Genitive||-zej, -zéj||-zaž, -zejž|
Note that the genitive singular has a variant, suffix-stressed form. Additionally, the ergative, genitive and dative plural forms have a variant which is basically confined to poetry, where it is has a superheavy rather than heavy metrical weight.
The diminutive carries a basic meaning of "small NOUN": deja "hat" → dejazej "small hat"; jò "pain" → jòzej "ache". However, in some instances there is more idiomatic usage of the diminutive. With terms referring to humans, especially kinship terms, the intended meaning may be "young" rather than small: gioda "sister" → giodazej "little sister". In addition, some diminutive forms have a less predictable fixed meaning: brovad "short" → brovazej "minute". Lastly, in some instances a diminutive noun has entirely replaced the basic form: ngozej "dog" (as well as the original augmentative ngog "wolf") does not have an unmarked form. These nouns have no morphological diminutives of their own; to say "small dog" one must say lujan ngozej.
Certain types of noun can bear suffixes which indicate a possessor. This feature is mostly literary, and in speech a possessed noun tends to be accompanied or replaced by a genitive argument. Broadly, the nouns which can bear the possessive suffixes in the modern spoken language are defined by alienability, including such concepts as body parts (kudud "my hand"), relatives (jathad "my father") and emotions (lazienud "my fear") as well as languages (sacich "your language") or housing (aziech "your house"), worn clothing (dejad "my hat [that I am wearing now]"), food (ziodad "my meat"), pets (asthod "my dog") and illnesses (vratani "his fever") amongst others. In addition, some other nouns in fixed expressions tend to occur with possessive suffixes, such as nózasid "my thanks". These nouns are notable for being irregularly stressed.
In written Vrnallian any noun can theoretically take a possessive suffix. However, outside of true literature the written form tends to be similar to the spoken form, that is, possessive suffixes are usually used in addition to genitive phrases or replaced with a genitive phrase entirely.
The possessive suffixes are as follows:
|Second person||-g, -ch||-kia, -cha|
The second person forms with plosives are standard in writing, but those with fricatives are significantly more common in speech. Thus one is more likely to hear in speech aziech hobiejta khied and read in writing azieg hobiejta khied "I want to go to your house".
Case endings change before these suffixes as follows. Note that ergative singulars in -s simply drop the -s before the suffixes. The following table shows kodas "self" with the suffix -d; the case suffix is bolded. Note that kodas cannot be used with these suffixes to form a reflexive verb:
Note that in the ergative and dative singular, the case marker -r disappears before the possessive suffixes. Also, the /j/ which is written in the genitive singular is frequently ignored in pronunciation. This is less common with the plural. In the plural, some speakers stress the genitive -zej while others do not.
Vrnallian contains the following personal pronouns. Exceptionally, personal pronouns contain a distinction of masculine and feminine, though other than duva feminine pronouns are rare in speech, and even duva is vanishing:
Two variants exist for the honorific pronoun geziš/kesiš (etymologically "masters") which derive from different generalisations of the Middle Vrnallian stem: the former generalised the short stem gzi- while the latter generalised the long stem khezi-. Both are acceptable in the standard language. Also, this pronoun does not have a distinct singular form in the modern standard language, but is understood as singular or plural depending on the context.
The deferential and honorific pronouns nèz and geziš/kesiš are used in polite speech. Generally such speech is called for when speaking with an elder, superior at work and such. However, usage of nèz is uncommon in ordinary speech today, mostly restricted to the speech of news correspondents. Meanwhile geziš/kesiš remain common, although as an alternative it is acceptable to use the plain plural uzi, a practice which seems to reflect a borrowing of the Lhedwinic T-V distinction.
Strictly speaking, the third person pronoun dus is really the demonstrative pronoun "this". Vrnallian has two other demonstratives: jegus "that" and somas "that yonder". All three can be used as personal pronouns, but dus is the usual personal form. The other pronouns, if used, necessarily refer to arguments distinct from that referred to by dus. Thus in Vrnallian ambiguity can be avoided in an utterance like John came and saw Mark, then he said "hello" to him. In Vrnallian, this would be expressed as Jàn jejhun id Màgas mnjohun, ciacia cis dur jegur „huj” no mièn miejohun. In the Vrnallian, the ambiguous referents of "he" and "him" in Newreyan become unambiguous: cis dur "to him" must refer to the nearer argument, Màgas, while jegur "he" refers to the further argument, Jàn.
The pronoun duva is only used as a personal pronoun, not a demonstrative. The pronouns jen and duva are exceptional as modern Vrnallian has no grammatical gender, only semantic gender (cf. sujž "bull", seziév "cow"). The pronoun jen, as well as the further obviative third person feminine smava (no normal obviative form *jguva exists, and smava may be an invention in the Middle Vrnallian period) are very rare in speech, and smava is rare even in writing. However, duva remains common in pronominal reference to human females. Using duva in reference to any other female animal is literary.
It is never unacceptable to refer to a female with the "masculine" pronouns, and indeed is perhaps more common than not in the spoken language, but referring to a male with a feminine pronoun is offensive.
The demonstrative pronouns dus, jegus and somas have basically regular declensions with the exception of the locative singular, which has two forms: formal literary duzia, jguzia, smazia and casual literary/spoken duha, jguha, smoha. However, other pronouns are irregular and decline as follows:
Vrnallian possesses two interrogative pronouns: animate duchu and inanimate mogu. However, since animacy is not a systematic category in Vrnallian, the animate form is often replaced with the inanimate by younger speakers. Formal and standard speech maintains the distinction: formal jegus ràz duchu vanla? but informal jegus ràz mogu valla? "who is that man?". The reduplicated forms of these pronouns produce indefinite forms: duchuduchu "someone" and mogumogu "something". Only the second part of these words is declined: mogumguzióh not *mgumguzióh or *mguzióhmguzióh (locative plural).
Similar interchangeability is seen with the interrogative adjectives. The standard language distinguishes hangu "which of two things" from jega "which of three or more things". However, young speakers increasingly often use hangu in all situations: formal mathaj bilnazej jega iza jerujgo varla? but informal macie bilnaš, hangu jerujgo valla? "of the three cars, which one is the best?.
Vrnallian's reflexive pronoun, which is only used in the third person (first and second person reflexives use the personal pronoun), is highly irregular:
|Essive||dšthokód (čthokód), dždokód, dziokód||diešthokód|
The use of ziokód as the locative singular in common in speech but not writing. The essive singular form in Standard Vrnallian is written <dšthokód> and pronounced as though spelt <čthokód>. The form dždokód is used in Continental Vrnallian, and in rapid speech may be reduced to dziokód.
The relative pronoun has a literary form vudó and a spoken form vuthó. Both are irregular, but the only difference is the alternation between stem /d/ and /tʰ/, so only vudó is given below:
Vrnallian does not systematically distinguish adjectives and adverbs, and the general term "adjunct" is often used to describe both. Adjectives decline identically to nouns, but also possess forms called the elative and negative elative. Vrnallian does not have distinct forms like comparative and superlative, using elative adjuncts with a particle/suffix to express degree. The elative is translated as "more/most/very ADJ" while the negative elative is translated as "less/least/slightly ADJ".
The elative of kleju "difficult" is given below, with the elative suffix highlighted:
The variants with -ni- in the plural have been eliminated in most dialects, but remain in use in Continental Vrnallian and some conservative Dvrieska dialects.
The negative elative is given below:
Expressing precise degrees of comparison is achieved using clitics after the adjunct. Traditionally these are called "particles" though nowadays they tend to be written as a suffix on the preceding word. The clitics are -rak "more/less", -go "most/least" and -(h)ul "very/slightly", used as follows: kléjurrak "more difficult", kléjungo "most difficult", kléjunul "very difficult", kljunjemrak "less difficult", kljunemgo "least difficult", kljunjemul "slightly difficult".
The absolutive singular of an adjective can be used as an adverb: hora psòhun "he worked quietly" from hora "quiet". Adverbs may also be unrelated to any adjectives, such as nej or našta "now", or may be derived from inflected forms of nouns, such as jruvašta "as a child", from the essive singular of java "child".
Vrnallian finite verbs conjugate to express person, number, tense and mood. However, most verbs are defective in certain categories, and only the verb vata "to be" has all possible inflections, while modal verbs have fewer inflections than vata but more than other verbs.
Vrnallian verbs are typically analysed as having an underlying or "long" stem as well as a reduced or "short" stem. The short stem occurs on the V-infinitive, which is the citation form of Vrnallian verbs, while the long stem occurs in the present tense, singular, indicative forms. The third person of this conjugation is considered to be a principal part of Vrnallian verbs. For example, a dictionary will list the verbs jluta "to type" and ksata "to kill" alongside the principal parts jàlun "he/she types" and aksan "he/she kills".
There are multiple non-finite forms for Vrnallian verbs. All verbs have three infinitives, called the V-infinitive (verbal), ending in -ta or rarely -d (on irregular verbs such as hoziéd "do"), the P-infinitive (participial) ending in -tej and the S-infinitive (similitative) ending in -thál. Verbs also have one or two participles, called the ergative participle (ending in -r-i-) and the absolutive participle (ending in -vák-hu-).
The different infinitive forms are used in various different constructions. Traditionally, the P-infinitive was used as an adverb expressing simultaneity of action (hence the name) but this usage is now somewhat uncommon in speech: ràzur vzatej bmapzahudnju miènoš miejohun "while sleeping, the man said some words I did not understand". Additionally, the S-infinitive's namesake usage, comparison between actual and perceived events, is practically extinct in speech: mbuthál urarahun "he made a great noise as though he were fighting in a war".
The ergative participle is used like an active participle for transitive verbs such as cizier "buying" from cizieta "buy" as well as a small number of irregular intransitive verbs such as veri "being" from vata "be". The absolutive participle is the regular active participle of intransitive verbs and the passive participle of transitive verbs: jejvák "going" from jejta and cizievák "bought" from cizieta. Participles are not marked for tense, which can create ambiguity. For example the sentence honar gì aksar ràz mnjohud can mean either "I saw the man killing the woman" or "I saw the man who killed the woman". To avoid this ambiguity alternative constructions must be used, for example honar gì ksatej ràz mnjohud "I saw the man killing the woman" with a P-infinitive but honar gì ksahur ràz mnjohud "I saw the man who killed the woman" with a past tense relative verb.
The present tense is used with both present and future meanings in Vrnallian. The indicative endings are given below for ksata:
|Person||Singular||Long plural||Short plural|
|Third person||aksan, aksar||ksadnju||ksadn|
The /g/ that occurs in writing and standard speech is prone to disappearing in casual speech. This is especially common in the plural, and may originate in a simplification of /gʎ/. After the rounded vowels /u ɔ/, many speakers pronounce the consonant as /v/: suzug "you eat" [ˈsuzʊf], while in monosyllables it tends to be dropped and the preceding vowel lengthened: vata → và "you are". This change is so common that is perfectly accepted in the standard and written languages.
In the third person singular, the variant with /r/ occurs before some consonants. However, the precise environment varies between dialects, and this variation may be reflected in writing. However, it is now standard to use /r/ before all dental consonants except /n/, and this is reflected in such forms as the interrogative varra "let him/her be" from underlying |vanra|. However, exceptions such as ksanla from |aksanla| are common within the verbal complex (the standardised form reflects a specifically Dvrieskan tendency to not assimilate |nl|, though both ksalla and ksarla are heard in dialects).
The plural personal endings lose their final vowel and experience a simplification of any resulting clusters when they precede a vowel as well as for most speakers at the end of an utterance. The preceding vowel retains its stress, and this is shown in writing. This rule applies to these endings in the past tense as well:
|Person||Singular||Long plural||Short plural|
|Third person||ksahun, ksahur||ksahudnju||ksahúdn|
The past tense suffix -hu- occurs immediately before the personal endings. In speech, it only occurs in the indicative, emphatic and interrogative moods, though in literary Vrnallian it can also occur in the conditional mood, and in Early Modern Vrnallian it could occur in the imperative as well.
Most verbs only have second person imperative forms. For ksata these are:
The full range of imperative forms are seen on modal verbs. For all other verbs, non-third person imperatives are expressed by using the appropriate imperative form of vata with the V-infinitive: vazia bèvat jluta "let me type the letter". The imperative forms of vata are as follows:
|First person||vazia, vadia||vadier|
The use of vadia instead of vazia is an innovation seen in some dialects by analogy with the plural form vadier. This is considered nonstandard and is not usually written.
Rarely, and mainly in Continental Vrnallian, non-second person imperatives are instead expressed through the modal verb biedazata "to permit" with the P-infinitive: oni bèvat jlutej biedazagra "permit me to type the letter". Note that the syntax of such statements is quite different to that of statements with vata; where an imperative form of vata is first in the clause, an imperative of biedezata is last in the clause.
All of the preceding forms can be converted into the emphatic mood (sometimes called the energetic mood) using the suffix -zad or into the interrogative mood (except for imperatives) using the suffix -la. Some forms change slightly before these endings. Notably the plural indicative suffixes change before these suffixes, as in the following present emphatic forms of ksata:
The first person singular form above is frequently pronounced ksazad. However, since such a pronunciation can merge with the second person singular for many speakers, in writing ksadzad is always used.
The emphatic mood generally indicates an additional forcefulness around the action of the verb. The exact meaning of this varies by context and can convey repetition or enthusiasm, for example. With the imperative it tends to carry a sense of command, though conversely it may be interpreted as pleading. Sometimes it simply foregrounds the verb; in poetry it often carries no additional meaning, but is used for metrical reasons.
The interrogative mood has a small complication in the third person singular: the combination of -n with -la frequently assimilates to -lla, although -rla is still frequently heard. Unassimilated -nla is heard only in some Dvrieska dialects. This mood is used in asking questions. Although formerly it was optional when another question word was used, it is now mandatory: mogu hoziegla? "what are you doing?" not *mogu hozieg?
The conditional mood is completely lacking from non-modal verbs, and even amongst modal verbs, only vata possesses the full set of conditional inflections. The verb biedata "be allowed" has these forms:
|Third person||biedejn, biedejr||biedegadnju|
The change of the stem vowel /a/ to /ɛ/ n the conditional is regular.
The full set of conditional forms are seen with the verb vata below:
|First person||vejd||vgaciu, vgač|
|Second person||vang||vallud, varlud, vanlud|
|Third person||vejn, vejr||vgadnju, vgadn|
Not all speakers use the short forms vgač and vgadn in the conditional mood. The most second person plural forms are used much like the third person singular interrogative forms. This verb also has past conditional forms, but these are rarely used, even in written Vrnallian. Nonetheless, the basic forms are given below.
The conditional can be used in both the protasis and the apodosis of conditional phrases, with a subtle difference in meaning. Additionally, it can be used in forming a particularly polite future tense. When it occurs in the protasis of a conditional phrase it tends to be accompanied by the particle ci "if". The conditional of vata is combined with the S-infinitive to express the conditional of verbs which lack a synthetic conditional, including with modal verbs in non-third person forms: ci dus ksathál vejd, fabriédesa van "if I were to kill him/her, that would be a crime".
Vrnallian transitive verbs must always take an object, stated or inferred. When a transitive verb entirely lacks an object, or if the object is indefinite, the antipassive form must be used. This is normally formed with the prefix o- before a consonant and ov- before a vowel or /ɦ/, although before most instances of initial je- the /j/ is lost giving ove-: jeran "he becomes" → overan "he changes" but jedien "he bequeaths (it)" → ojedien "he bequeaths". Some verbs have irregular antipassives formed with the Old Vrnallian suffix -íma- such as vspata "consider" → vspemata "think".
The prefix bma- before any verb form creates its negative. Before a monosyllable, unless the vowel is long, stress moves over to the prefix: bmavad "I am not"; bmaksagra "do not kill!". Before a vowel, the /a/ of the prefix disappears, with two exceptions: before the antipassive prefix o- an epenthetic /r/ is inserted, giving bmaro- while before certain instances of initial je- the prefix merges with the stem to give bmi-, such as bma-jerúj → bmirúj "not better".
Applicative and directional verbs
Vrnallian is unique amongst the languages of Asura in possessing a series of applicative prefixes for verbs, which are used to promote indirect or otherwise peripheral arguments to the direct object of a verb. Distinct prefixes exist for different semantic roles. For example, the prefix jul- is used to promote a comitative argument, marking accompaniment alongside the verb's agent. With the prefix the intransitive verb dnata "meet" becomes juldnata "meet with":
- somas id an duzia dnahuciu "he/she and I met today"
- *honar somas duzia dnahud *"I met him/her today"
- an jal smazia duzia dnahud "I met with him/her today"
- honar somas duzia juldnahud *"I met him/her today"
The second of these sentences is ungrammatical, as dnata is intransitive and so cannot take somas as an object. To say "I met him/her" one must either place somas into an adpositional phrase jal smazia "with him/her" or else use the appropriate applicative form of the verb.
Closely related to applicative prefixes, and referred to by the same name dusiemgiza in native Vrnallian grammatical description, is a series of directional prefixes used to show the direction of a verb. For example, jejta means "go" and is intransitive while jegiejta means "go in, enter" and is transitive. As Vrnallian is a verb-framed language, these prefixes are extremely productive and common with verbs of motion. However, some verbal roots inherently encode a particular direction, such as svivata "enter" or rogata "move smth. apart". Couplets such as jegiejta and svivata are not infrequent; typically the underived form is somewhat more formal.
Both applicative and directional prefixes are usually related to adpositions, although sometimes the adpositional equivalent of a given prefix has been lost. The prefix it- for example, which is used to show simultaneity of action and is typically translated with "at the same time as", is not related to any other words in the language.
A selection of the applicative and directional prefixes in Vrnallian are listed below as they occur on the words dieksieta "wait" and jejta "go, come":
|jegdieksieta||jeg-||jek "in"||wait in|
|juldieksieta||jul-||jal "with, alongside"||wait with|
|jamdieksieta||jam-||jà "on, at, around"||wait at, wait on, wait near|
|muldieksieta||mul-||mul "next to, by, near"||wait near, wait by|
|rakhudieksieta||rakhu-||rakie "beyond"||wait past (a time)|
|ziejta||ž-||zilja "away from"||go away, depart (intransitive)|
|ziziejta||leave, exit (transitive)|
|hobiejta||hob-||ap "towards, at"||go to, make for, head towards|
|jegiejta||jeg-||jek "in"||go in, enter|
|kojejta||ko-||none||go by, travel in|
|itiejta||it-||go at the same time as|
Vrnallian tends to place the verb in the final position of a clause, with some mandatory exceptions: lomodar phreju suzun "the farmer eats the seaweed". The unmarked order of the subject and object of a transitive clause is SO, but in spoken Vrnallian the object can be topicalised giving OS. Moreover, SVO is increasingly common in unmarked clauses, though still less common than any OV orders:
- Siogodar vratiu siogan "The doctor will treat the fever" (SOV, unmarked)
- Vratiu, siogodar siogan "As for the fever, the doctor will treat it" (OSV, topicalised object)
- Siogodar siogan vratiu "The doctor will treat the fever" (SVO, unmarked, uncommon)
Old Vrnallian was a very strictly head-final language, and to some extent this is still seen, with for example relative clauses preceding their head in written and formal Vrnallian: hamezešta kademitóv julmièd ràz jejn "the man to whom I always speak in university is coming". However, the modern language is really in a transitional state between rigidly head-final (the order which still predominates) and a more free order. For example, Old Vrnallian (and the modern Continental dialects) have postpositions (CV dav-yskolóv jek "in university") but Insular Vrnallian has largely switched to prepositions (jek kademitóv "in university").
Modifiers of all sorts generally precede their head noun (phovu khelis "good friend"), although adjectives may be placed after their head for poetic effect, and genitive phrases may also follow their head. The head is always placed first in phrases such as Luhec Khujan "King Laurence", likely due to Lhedwinic influence.
Within a noun phrase, the usual order of constituents in the standard language is as follows: possessor ─ determiner ─ numeral ─ (adverb) ─ descriptive adjective ─ head noun. The possessor may increasingly often follow the head noun rather than precede it. In a noun phrase, determiners and numerals always decline to agree with their head noun. However, when multiple descriptive adjectives occur, it is acceptable for only the adjective closest to its head to agree: dur mogar phovu hogar khelir "this one good old friend (erg.)" where phovu "good (abs./unmarked)" does not take the ergative case (phovur) to agree with khelir "friend (erg.)".
Questions are formed with a suffix -la. In the modern language this is usually described as a mood not unlike the emphatic mood, since the suffix causes changes to the verbal endings: ksaciu "we kill" but ksathula? "did we kill?". However, in written Vrnallian any argument may take this suffix, which attached to the topic or focus of the question regardless of its noun class. In spoken Vrnallian, the topic is simply the first phrase in a clause, so the suffix attaches to the verb consistently instead:
- Mekíh Zlejkhúj thystnazej biuhola van? "Where is the tourist information centre in Zalejk?" (written)
- Zlejkhúj thystnazej biuho mekíh varla? "As for the tourist information centre in Zalejk, where is it?" (spoken)
- Mekíh Zlejkhúj thystnazej biuho varla? "Where is the tourist information centre in Zalejk?" (spoken or written, pragmatically neutral)
Comparison in Vrnallian is achieved using an adjunct form called the elative, which encompasses each of the comparative, superlative and absolute degrees. There is also a negative elative, the inversion of the elative. Comparison uses the adposition ziemi and optionally the clitic rak with the target taking the locative case. Superlatives use the same construction but require the clitic go. Equative constructions have two forms depending on what is being equated; when an adjunct is equated to a noun, the adposition li is used. When two nouns or two adjuncts are being equated, however, the particle el is used instead.
- Comparative: Jzobukhur/jzobúkhurrak ziemi mandadóv "Happier/luckier than a pauper."
- Superlative: hórango ziemi kademitvnjazióh "The quietest of the students"
- Equative (adj. + noun): hora li cikcikaj "as quiet as a mouse"
- Equative (adj. + adj.): kovicia boras el dav van "our country is as strong as it is large"
In written Vrnallian and formal spoken Vrnallian, relative clauses are formed by placing the relative clause before its head noun. However, this is now only possible when the case of the head is concordant to its case in the relative clause. Elsewhere, and as the norm in informal spoken Vrnallian, relative clauses are formed using the relative pronoun vudó (literary) or vuthó (spoken) after the head: ràz vuthár hamezeš kademitóv an julmièn, jejn "the man who always speaks to me in university is coming".
The third person plural form of a verb doubles as an impersonal form. This can be used for various purposes, including generic statements, as well as an equivalent of the passive voice (though an agent cannot be stated). Grammatically this must be treated as distinct from the third person plural form, as a plural argument is not required: rakiejvák mnid nevíh ap sàbm njabmídn "migratory birds fly north in the winter". In this sentence, the experiencer rakiejvák mnid "migratory birds" is singular since this is a generic statement, but the form of the verb is plural. A very colloquial use of the impersonal verb is as a replacement for a first person plural: dizi Zlejkhúh vrdúdn "we live in Zalejk". Such statements exceptionally do not allow the pronoun to be dropped.
The use of conditional verbs is conditioned by certain subtleties. The following sentences are not all equivalent:
- Ci dus Dvrieska vejn, azieta mluk vejn "If this is Dvrieska (as opposed to somewhere else), our house is (possibly) nearby"
- Ci dus Dvrieska vejn, azieta mluk van "If this is Dvrieska (as opposed to somewhere else), our house is (evidently) nearby"
- Ci dus Dvrieska van, azieta mluk vejn "If this is Dvrieska (which it is), our house is (possibly) nearby"
- Ci dus Dvrieska van, azieta mluk van "If this is Dvrieska (which it is), our house is (evidently) nearby"
Although the basic translation of "if this is Dvrieska, our house is nearby" is basically sufficient for all of the above sentences, it loses the nuances which the use of conditional or indicative forms gives to the Vrnallian.
Time is expressed with the essive case, though in speech this case is increasingly marginal and replaced with other cases outside fixed expressions such as brovuciešta "o'clock" or mbrovašta "for example". For example, the word for "today", always essive ništhišta or dušta in writing, is typically replaced with locative ništhíh or duzia in colloquial speech. The even more colloquial form duha is also heard. Other uses of the essive are also replaced; for example, compare the following:
- Lomodar mluzapsó mbupsòšta lobohun (essive noun)
- Lomodar mluzapsó mara mbupsò lobohun (preposition mara and absolutive noun)
Both sentences mean "the farmer used his scythe as a weapon", but the expression of "X as Y" is formed with an adposition mara in colloquial usage. In writing and more formal styles of speaking, the essive is retained, though even in formal speech it is yielding to the more analytic construction.
A majority of basic words in Vrnallian are formed from inherited, native roots which date back to Old Vrnallian. Many of these can be traced back to specific roots attested in the Old Vrnallian corpus; for example OV kális "friend" gives modern khelis, while OV áráky "blood" gives modern horóg. Typically some shift in meaning has occurred since the Old Vrnallian period: while Old Vrnallian only used áráky in reference to human blood, using nálla for the blood of animals, the modern word horóg is used for any kind of blood while the word nalje means "ritual offering" or "tithe".
Frequently, Vrnallians prefer to coin native neologisms rather than borrow words, even internationalisms. A commonly-cited example is vziekhuvspapsó "computer", which literally means something like "electronic thinking machine", though in fact the Lhedwinic loan khompiudar is apparently more popular in speech. Another example, more common in actual speech, is jrizapsó "freezer", which exists alongside the loaned friùza. Existing words can also be used with new meanings; for example, dierugzata, literally "to empty", is used to mean "turn off" an electronic device: vziekhuvspapsó/khompiudar dierugzata "to turn off a computer". Sometimes native coinages exist alongside loanwords; typically the loanword is more common. An example is khiemuski "train", literally "iron sheep", which coexists with còt (from Lhedwinic tog) and trèn (from Lhaeraidd trên).
A marker of informal Vrnallian is the preponderance of contracted words for common concepts, such as haziupinej or the even more informal haziu from haziucimiepinej "mobile phone" as well as the cognate verb haziuta from haziucita "take, carry". A small number of these words have become so frequent as to have entirely displaced the original longer form, such as voziék "electrical" and its derivatives, originally a contraction of nšthivoziék, the adjunct form of nšthivož "amber".
Vrnallian possesses many means of deriving words from roots within the language. However, many forms are inherited from Old Vrnallian derivations, and so frequently there are related words which are almost unrecognisably distinct from one another despite deriving from the same Old Vrnallian root. For example, the verb fvata "worship", gerund fon "act of worship" and instantive facha "prayer" are all derived from the root fíuá- but have come to differ due to sound changes. Sometimes the differences are very extreme: the verb cata "increase", the adjectives dav and dogán "very big" and the nouns dusi "power" and dzicha "size" are all related, deriving from the Old Vrnallian root dáu- "big". The methods used to derive these words are largely opaque in the modern language.
In some instances the meaning of an inherited word has become so changed from its original meaning that it does not intuitively seem related. The most notable example of this is jerúj, the elative grade of "good", which derives from Old Vrnallian érája "bad". Another example is modern stas "(human) hair", ultimately from Old Vrnallian sýtt'as "bird". Within the Old Vrnallian period this shifted to "feather", and in Middle Vrnallian to "brush". The meaning shifted to its modern by Early Middle Vrnallian, at first informally and later supplanting the existing word fangu entirely in reference to humans.
Vrnallian is very tolerant of word compounding, and very long compound words are not uncommon. Longer words have some tendency to be shortened, though abbreviations are generally avoided in formal contexts with a few exceptions such as voziék "electronic" and related words, originally a clipping of nšthivoziék. Notoriously long compound words were common in political contexts until the late 2000s, with laws having names such as elkhiodnavimibriodaholodnabiedazalovnarazgivalat "referendum on the law for federal legalisation of same-sex marriage" being numerous. More recent governments increasingly choose to use phrases instead of single-word compounds, for example haziahluthiciènsta jegvrdumrazádn iza jrazan lovan "national health service temporary residence reform law"; a rejected name for this act was haziahluthicienstajegvrdumrazajrazalovan.
Vrnallian has also borrowed words from the languages of the land's historical occupiers, namely Tir Lhaeraidd and the United Kingdom of Lhedwin. Lhaeraidd loans were generally borrowed during the Middle Vrnallian period and are often very different to the Lhaeraidd source.
Loanwords from Mân Lhaeraidd (where many loanwords postdate the Vrnallian language's first palatalisation stage) include gijula "horse" from ceffyl (Middle Vrnallian gifyla), bulnigva "gated community" from planhigfa ("plantation", MiV blanigva, related to the more recently borrowed lanygva), briesucha "cauliflower" from bresych ("cabbage", MiV bresygha), and šfala "rifle" from reiffl (MiV šefyla, via the hypercorrected form *rheiffl). Although the first loans such as all the preceding entered during Middle Vrnallian, most in fact entered in Early Modern Vrnallian, which has in some instances led to doublets like bulnigva and lanygva or phule "toilet" (from MiV phaule) and phovla "water vessel", both from powlen "bowl".
Most loans from Lhaeraidd cover concepts foreign to the Vrnallians at that time, such as mainland Asuran animals and crops and technological, especially military, terminology. Typically Lhaeraidd loans can be divided into pre-colonial words borrowed during Middle Vrnallian and colonial words borrowed during Early Modern Vrnallian. Typically, words in the former set are more general and those in the latter more specific.
Some Hujre dialectal words, a few of which have entered common use throughout the country, come from the minority Mawr Lhaeraidd language that was spoken by some of the Lhaeraidd settlers on Hujre. An example is brianacha (MiV breanagha), a typically derogatory word for continental Asurans, probably from Mawr breathnach "Lhaeraidd".
Loanwords from Lhedwinic include a plethora of modern political and legal terms, as well as modern technology and some general words, including khujan "noble" from kongen ("the king"), fabriédesa "prosecutable crime" from forbrydelse(n) ("the crime") dabmas "steamship" from dampskip, mòda "engine" from motor, luj! "ah! damn!" from lort, and bytigan "shop, store" from butikken. Typically the domains covered by those loans overlap with those of Lhaeraidd, but are more modern. Lhedwinic remains the primary source of modern loanwords due to Vrnallia's continuing cooperation with the modern Lhedwinic countries. Most loans are taken from the Rigjordic variety of Crylante, though some are taken from northern varieties.
The Nausikaan language and its ancestral forms have provided a few loans at various historical points. For example, ljeti "hob" is an old loan from Proto-Nausikaan *leeci "hearth" by way of Old Vrnallian létte; nuki "doll" is a less old loan from Nausikaan nukke through Old Vrnallian núkke and purie "(ship) sail" is a more recent loan from Nausikaan purje. Many of these Nausikaan loans are nautical in nature such as purie, vienjež "sailing boat", kane "decking" and runko "hull, fuselage".
Some ancient loans come from Proto-Veyene, which most likely entered Old Vrnallian through maritime trade with the Veyene people. These are usually non-native geographical and animal terms, though there are some basic technology terms also. Examples are kafka ultimately from *cavca "bow", ziad "oak tree" from *zad and hoziag "pinecone" from *aazk "pine tree".
Modern technological words are increasingly borrowed directly from Midrasian. Examples are klavié "keyboard" from clavier and zentehé "internet" from (les) interrets.
|5||That||jegus, somas||[ˈjegʊs], [ˈsɔməs]|
|13||Big||dav, dogán||[dɑf], [dʌˈgɑn]|
|14||Long||dulbiz, (of time) thljej||[ˈduɫbʲɪs], [tʎ̥ʰei̯]|
|21||Dog||ngozej, astho||[ˈŋgɔzei̯], [ˈɑstʰə]|
|29||Meat||hulus, (food) zioda||[ˈɦuɫʊs], [ˈʑɔdə]|
|37||Hair||(animal) fangu, (human) stas||[ˈfɑŋgu], [stɑs]|
|47||Knee||kikiu, kikuphiju||[ˈkʲikʲu], [kʲɪkʊˈpʰʲiju]|
|65||Walk||(du mvezej) jejta||[dʊˈmvɛzei̯ ˈjei̯tə]|
|66||Come||(dùla) jejta||[ˈduːɫə ˈjei̯tə]|
|79||Earth||khama (muddy), phezi (dry), phrogas (wet)||[ˈkʰɑmə], [ˈpʰɛʑi], [pɾ̥ʰɔgəs]|
|81||Smoke||mugu (thin), gzichto (thick)||[ˈmugu], [ˈgʑiçtə]|
|95||Full||helíz, -jm||[hɛˈʎis], [-(i̯)m]|
|96||New||si, sisi||[ɕi], [ˈɕiɕi]|
Vrnallian is notable for having multiple varieties of its alphabet in use as part of regular writing, with seamless, natural transitions between the scripts often occurring within a single piece of writing. This is most common within printed text, such as in newspapers, rather than in handwriting.
The oldest form of the Vrnallian alphabet is the block script, Mnovajulún "block script", which consists of similarly-sized monospace characters originally devised for carving into stone. The cursive form of the script, Lucijulún "hand script", came with the arrival of vellum to Vrnallia and is the most common form of the alphabet used in handwritten text. Two printed forms were developed in the 1600s - one form, the angular script, Čkhajulún "edged script", was mainly used in Hujre, Mlekie and Mazej, while the other, the rounded script, Gcijulún "rounded script", predominated in Dvrieska and on the Asuran mainland. While the two scripts are mostly very similar to one another, some letters are quite different, being derived from alternative cursive forms.
Čkhajulún eventually became the preferred form in the archipelago, though Gcijulún (as well as the erstwhile disused Mnovajulún) was readopted by publishers to differentiate sections of text. Eventually Gcijulún reentered popular writing for purposes of emphasis, similar to italics, by way of newspapers. In Tir Lhaeraidd, however, this practice was never adopted, and until very recently Lucijulún and Gcijulún were used exclusively in handwriting and printing respectively. Exposure to Vrnallian media has led to increasing use of Čkhajulún even amongst the Continental Vrnallians, however.
In modern usage, the scripts are used as follows: Lucijulún or Čkhajulún is the default form of the script. For titles and headings, as well sometimes in abbreviations or initialisms, Mnovajulún is used. Gcijulún is used as a general means for emphasis, comparable to italics in the Fiorentine alphabet, and is often used for inline quotes (though more common is to use the quote marks „…”), as well as for offset text in visual media (for example, image captions).
It is a matter of debate whether the Vrnallian alphabet is related to the other Asuran alphabets. Proponents of a relationship point to the similarities between certain characters as well as the fact that writing was likely introduced from the mainland to Vrnallia rather than developed without precedent. Critics of this theory suggest that any similarities are coincidental, and that while writing as a concept was certainly introduced to Vrnallia from the mainland, the script itself could have been developed a priori.
Some linguists have attempted to connect the shape of letters in the Mnovajulún script to words beginning with the sounds of those letters in Old Vrnallian, and suggest that the letters may have once been named according to the acrophonic principle - for example, the shape of the Vrnallian letter a is connected to áže "home". This theory is not generally accepted by mainstream Vrnallian linguists.
Preamble to the Constitution of Vrnallia:
- Vrnallian (modern spelling)
Diždi, faskíl Vrnaljaj diezej phuzej vrnjezej razgìr, onaskrevdan zivák, dus dokumednat diždiej sisi kaljamgovazavakhuj kovijcia kviolopnonušta vudár dizi rakhóv framtiznaj phrudozajni bmanalja Jathar pslodne hozien phiovnezej id phinazej dijan i zvieli hozien ekhleje hoziethuzad. Selstendijacia khronuzagra, ga Framtizan-vonjachto, id koda-thevgesa bmavagra, id vanjer thiostan el lovan.
- Vrnallian (original spelling)
Diždi, fa-skild Vrnaljaj dezej phauzej vrňezej razgìr, onaskrevdan zivákh, dus dokumednat diždej sisi kaljamgovazavakhuj kovijcia kviolopnonušta vudár diži rakhóv framtiznaj phrudozajni bmanalja Jathar bslodne hozien phiovnezej id phinazej dijan i zveli hozien ekhlehe hoziethuzad. Selvstendihacia khronuzagra, ga Framtizan-voňachto, id koda-thelvgesa bmavagra, id vanier thiostan el lovan.
- Narrow transcription
[ˈdʲiʑdʲi fʌˈsʲkʲiɫ vr̩ˈnɑʎəd ˈdʲezɛp ˈpʰuzɛv vr̩ˈɲezɛr rʌˈzʲgʲiːɾ ɔnʌˈskɾɛvdənʲ ʑɪˈvæg duz dəkʊˈmɛdⁿətʰə̥ ˈdʲiʑdʲeɕ ˈɕiɕi kəʎəmgəvəzʌˈvɑʰkuk kʌˈvʲitt͡ɕə kvʲɪɫəpnʌˈnuɕtə vʊˈdɑɾ ˈdʲiʑi ɾʌˈkʰɔf fɾʌˈmtʲiznə pʰɾ̥ʊdʌˈzæɲɲi bⁿʌˈnɑʎə ˈjɑʰtəɾ ˈpsɫɔdⁿɛ ˈɦɔʑɪn pʰʲɪˈvnɛzɛ jit pʰʲɪˈnæzɛdʲ ˈdʲijɪn i ˈzʲvʲeʎi ˈɦɔʑɪn ɛˈkʰɫ̥ejɪ ɦəʑɪˈtʰuzət | sɛɫstɛnʲdʲɪˈjæt͡ɕə kʰɾ̥ənʊˈzɑgɾə gɑ fɾʌˈmtʲizənvʌˌɲɑxtə it ˈkɔdətʰɛˈvgɛsə bⁿʌˈvɑgɾə id ˈvæɲɪɾ ˈtʰʲɔstən ɛɫ ˈɫɔvən]
- Broad transcription
/ˈdʲiʑdʲi faˈskʲil vr̩ˈnaʎad ˈdʲɛzɛp ˈpʰuzɛv vr̩ˈɲɛzɛr raˈzgʲiːr ɔnaˈskrɛvdan ʑiˈvak dus dɔkuˈmɛdⁿat ˈdʲiʑdʲɛɕ ˈɕiɕi kaʎamgɔvazaˈvakʰuk kɔˈvʲitt͡ɕa kvʲɔlɔpnɔˈnuɕta vuˈdar ˈdʲiʑi raˈkʰɔv fraˈmtʲizna pʰrudɔˈzaɲɲi bⁿaˈnaʎa ˈjatʰar ˈpslɔdⁿɛ ˈɦɔʑɛn pʰʲɔˈvnɛzɛ jid pʰʲiˈnazɛd ˈdʲijan i ˈzvʲɛʎi ˈɦɔʑɛn ɛˈkʰlɛjɛ ɦɔʑɛˈtʰuzat | sɛlstɛndʲiˈjat͡ɕa kʰrɔnuˈzagra ga fraˈmtʲizanvɔˌɲaxtɔ id ˈkɔdatʰɛˈvgɛsa bⁿaˈvagra id ˈvaɲɛr ˈtʰʲɔstan ɛl ˈlɔvan/
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Diž-di, faskíl Vrnalja-j die-zej phu-zej azie-zej razgì-r, onaskrevdan zi-vák, du-s dokumednat hon-i sisi kalja-mgova-za-vakhu-j kovi-j-cia kvi-olopnonu-šta vudá-r dizi rakhóv framtizna-j phrudoza-j-ni bma-nalja Jatha-r pslodne hozie-n phiovne-zej id phina-zej dija-n i zvieli hozie-n ekhleje hozie-thu-zad. Selstendija-cia khronu-za-gra, ga Framtizan-vonja-chto, id koda-thevgesa bma-va-gra, id va-njer thiostan el lovan.
1p-erg on.behalf.of Vrnallia-gen prox-gen.p good-gen.p island-gen.p people-dat signature-abs write-abs.part-abs prox-abs document-abs 1p-gen new-abs re-be.united-caus-abs.part-gen nation-gen-1p country-convention-ess refl-erg 1p-abs beyond future-gen fog-gen-3s neg-with.regards.to god-erg decision-abs do-3s ordeal-gen.p and pain-gen.p protect-3s and vigil-abs do-3s declaration-abs do-1p-emph | independence-abs-1p celebration-caus-imp.s voc future-person-coll-abs but self-satisfied-abs neg-be-imp.s and be-imp.3p comfort-abs as.much.as law-abs
We, on behalf of the People of these fair isles of Vrnallia, undersigned, do proclaim this document to be the Constitution of our newly reunited nation, that shall protect and guide us through the murk of the future whatsoever trials and tribulations our Lord shall ordain us. Celebrate our independence, o Posterity, but not be complacent, and let these Words be as much a comfort as they are a law.