Fukhian

A Constructed Agglutinating Human Language


The original grammar (in German) this document was derived from
Lexicon (in Lisp and German)

This page uses a romanisation to show the Fukhian grammar. For showing pronunciation, CXS (=Conlang X-Sampa) is used.

Please note that some examples in this file reflect the Ancient Fukhian language. Unfortunately, they are not always properly marked.

This was my first constructed language. I started to work at it around 1989, maybe earlier. It has not been modified since around 1994 and although I see some deficiencies today, I do not intend to improve or extend it in a way that would be changing the original design goals. This usually means that I cannot change or even extend it at all.


Fukhian Script

Overview (one image). Parts: Letters | Delimiters | Misc
Some font samples. [PostScript]
Unicode Proposal
Translation of 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'
More unsorted stuff
Fukhian MetaFont tools
Other Fukhian MetaFont tools
Metafont source files for Fukhian

The Fukhian script is an alphabet that is designed to be written by hand. It has some similarities with the Arabic script, but it is a 'hanging' script like Devanagari.

Writing direction is left-to-right, bottom-to-top.

All Fukhian sequences of letters and digits have to be delimited to both sides by delimiter symbols. There are several sets of delimiters having different functions. In the romanisation, the delimiters are shown parentheses, brackets or braces with optional additional marks like exclamation marks and the like.

Most voiced sounds may be devoiced either explicitly by duplicating the letter, or implicitly by phonetic context.

Phones that occur due to phonological rules, i.e., phones that need a context, are shown in parentheses. The examples are currently taken from English, German, French and Icelandic. I do not have examples for all phones yet.

Single Letters

Letter Name Digit Phoneme Phones Description Example
s (sel) 2 /s/ [s] alveolar voiceless fricative en: lice
l (las) 1 /l/ [l] alveolar lateral approx., voiced by default dt: leben
e (elos) 0 /e/ [E] front open-mid unrounded vowel dt: wetten
i (ilos) 4 /i/ [I] front high (lax) unrounded vowel dt: bitten
or /j/ [j] palatal approximant en: young
g (gel) 8 /g/ [g] velar plosive, voiced by default en: give
n (nel) 3 /n/ [n] alveolar nasal, voiced by default en: name
f (fas) + /f/ [f] labiodental voiceless fricative en: find
r (rel) 9 /r/ [r] alveolar trill, voiced by default se: röd
m (mas) 6 /m/ [m] bilabial nasal, voiced by default en: mouse
u (ulos) /u/ [U] back high (lax) rounded vowel dt: gucken
or /w/ [w] voiced labial-velar approximant en: wait
o (olos) E /o/ [O] back open-mid rounded vowel dt: locken
a (alos) /a/ [a_"] ([a] for simplicity) central open unrounded vowel dt: lachen
c (cas) /S/ [S] postalveolar voiceless fricative en: ship
j (jel) /Z/ [Z] postalveolar fricative, voiced by default fr: jeu
d (das) 5 /d/ [d] alveolar plosive, voiced by default en: deep
N (liN) /N/ [N] velar nasal, voiced by default en: sing
b (bas) /b/ [b] bilabial plosive, voiced by default en: bid
h (has) 7 /h/ [h] glottal voiceless fricative en: hope
G (Gel) - /G\/ [G\] uvular plosive, voiced by default FIXME
x (xas) /x/ [X] uvular fricative, velar or palatal dep. on context dt: lachen
z (zas) /T/ [T] dental voiceless fricative en: think
y (ylos) . /y/ [Y] front high (lax) rounded vowel dt: lüften

Oligographs and Phonological Changes

Graphemes Phones Examples
bb [p] fr: peut
bh [p_h] or [p] (dialectal variants) en: pause or fr: peut
dd [t] fr: teatre
dh [t_h] or [t] (dialectal variants) en: tip or fr: teatre
gg [k] fr: cas
gh [k_h] or [k] (dialectal variants) en: can or fr: cas
GG [q] FIXME
Gh [q_h] or [q] (dialectal variants) FIXME
hh [?] dt: -an-ecken
ll [l=] or [l_0] or [l_0=] (dialectal variants) dt: Säbel or is: hlýtt or FIXME
rr [r=] or [r_0] or [r_0=] (dialectal variants) FIXME or is: hrafn or ?
nn [n=], [n_0], [n_0=] (dialectal variants) dt: Latten or is: hnifur or FIXME
mm [m=], [m_0], [m_0=] (dialectal variants) dt: Lappen or (is: hrafnsins)? or (is: hrafn)?
NN [N=], [N_0], [N_0=] (dialectal variants) dt: Macken or is: langt or FIXME
lG [l_GG\] (velarised alv. lat. approx. + uvul. vcd. plosive) FIXME
Gl [G\l_G] FIXME
NG [N\G\] FIXME
GN [G\N\] FIXME
(e, i, y) + x [x] dt: suchen (some dialects)
xx [C] dt: ich
gxx [cC] FIXME (with plosive: is: riki)
nxx [JC] FIXME
ngxx [JcC] FIXME (with plosive: is: banki)

Note 1: The distinction between voiceless and syllabic (and voiceless syllabic) is dialectal in all listed cases.

Note 2: Devoicing occurs in most circumstances: Fukhian prefers devoiced clusters and therefore promotes devoicing from a single voiceless phone to the whole cluster. Dialects that have a preference towards voiced syllabics will not devoice the cluster e.g. in cases like (ammba), but pronounce this [am=ba]. Those that like devoicing more may have [am_0pa] or [am_0=pa]. Other cases work accordingly.

Note 3: The nasals /n/, /m/ and /N/ adjusts themselves to a wide range of articulation positions depending on the phonetic context, namely [n], [m], [J], [N] and [N\]. In the same cluster as fricatives or plosives, they adjusts to their position. Depending on the voice of the cluster, they also devoice or become syllabic or both (depending on dialect).

Note 4: Some consonant clusters are judged impronouncible. Fukhian inserts an epenthetic schwa into these. The precise rules are complex and are currently only documented in the machine readable pronunciation map.

Note 5: Fukhian devoices consonants at the end of words.

Machine Readable Pronunciation Map


Delimiters

[ (fluNdiG) beginning of sentence/phrase
< (fluNdiG) beginning of emphasised sentence/phrase (*)
( (soNdiG) (default) beginning of word (or abbreviation or accronym)
{ (soNdiG) beginning of emphasised word (*)
# (gaxdiG) beginning of number
` (buldiG) beginning of abbreviation or accronym =~ left apostrophy
\ (fursandiG) opposite of / (**)
] (fluNzandiG) end of sentence =~ full stop or question mark
> (fluNzandiG) end of emphasised sentence/phrase (*)
) (zandiG) end of wort, number and abbreviation
} (zandiG) end of emphasised word (*)
' (bulzandiG) end of abbreviation or accronym =~ right apostrophy
/ (furdiG) expectation sign =~ colon (**)

Grammar

This is under construction. For more information, have a look at the German description.

Word Classes

Fukhian has two word classes: nouns and adjectives. A former analysis claimed that there were verbs, but this is not really precise. There are endings that constitute a verb phrase, but it the word they are attached is arbitrary and is usually simple the first word of the sentence. Verbs, in that sense, are nouns or adjectives that carry the verbal suffixes. Most nouns that describe actions are listed with a verbal infinitive ending in the lexicon.

Syntax

Fukhian has quite free word order, but the default is VSO.

Modifiers (adjectives, genitives and relative clauses) follow their head.

Morphology

All endings will be given a priority to define how strongly they want to be close to the base (a stem or a completed compound). The higher the priority, the closer they are to the base. Note that derivational endings are boundaries for the agglutination process: they constitute new bases.

Fukhian is an agglutinating language which exclusively uses suffixes.

Nouns are inflected for number and case.

Adjectives are inflected for mode, which has two values: predicative or attributive, and for degree.

The designated predicate of a sentence is inflected for voice, tense, mode and person. There infinite endings for participle and infinitive. Modern Fukhian has lost its gerund endings, since it has lost its verbs, so the 'verbal' stem is really a noun that can simply be used as such.

Pronouns can be incorporated into the predicate if they are directly dependent on the predicate, i.e., genitives that modify nouns cannot be incorporated into the predicate. The initial _h_ and the number ending are dropped for incorporation. If phonology dictates an epenthetic schwa, which might be written as _e_, this must not be interpreted as singular.

Example:
(he_ is the pronoun stem. It reduces to a mere _e_ during incorporation:

[dzaf + n) + (he + g + l] -> [dzafnegl] = I love you.
[he + d + l + or + n) + (he + g + x] -> [hedlornegx] = I would give it to you. (Note: implicit copula.)

Predicate Endings

Passive Voice

Passive voice is formed by using the ending _yad_, priority 30.

Personal Endings (Priority 10)

Fukhian has five perions. The first three are equivalent with those in English. In dependend clause (reported speech) or dependent or reflexive clauses in general (e.g. possessive pronouns), the personal system shifts by two person, so that the 1.ps. becomes the 3rd and so on.

Function Ending
1. person _n_
2. person _g_
3. person _d_
4. person _oG_
5. person _in_
Tense (Priority 11)

Tense is relative. The default tense is Equal tense (similar to present and past tense) and the Pre tense (similar to perfect and pluperfect).

Function Ending
Equal _
Pre _uj_
Mood (Priority 20)
Function Ending
Indicative _
Conditional _or_
Subjunctive _uagx_
Infinites (Priority 10)
Function Ending
Infinitive _ax_
Partiziple _ah_

There's no 'gerund' or the like; verb stems can directly be used as nouns. E.g. zanax 'to eat', zan 'the eating/meal (event of eating)', zanaG 'food'.

Noun Endings

Number
Function Ending
Singular _ or _e_
Dual _a_
Trial _o_
Plural _i_

Please note that Fukhian has no unspecified number for nouns: the singular ending can be analysed to be an epenthetic vowel, since even if missing, singular is expressed. Only incorporated pronouns lack information about number.

Further note, however, that singular is also used if the number information is taken from other constituents, e.g. explicit numbers. Thus, there is no concord for number.

Case

In the description, typical name of similar case from other languages (e.g. Finnish) are given.

Function Ending Description
Nominative _ or _r_ Marks the subject, thus usually the agent, of a sentence. Fukhian is nom/acc, not split-S, so this does not need to be the agent. Subject is the correct name.
Essive _h_ (formerly Predicative) Marks the predicative noun, the one that is equal or similar. (Compare the Mandarin copula 'shì'.)
Vocative _g_ Marks the addressed entity in direct speech.
Genitive _N_ Marks a general modifier.
Dative _x_ Marks the indirect object: the benefactive, the malefactive, the recipient, the involved.
Accusative _l_ Marks the direct object: the patient
Locative _f_ (Adessive, Inessive) Marks the static location: at, in, on, ....
Allative _s_ (Illative) Marks the direction towards: to, into, onto...
Separative _b_ (Ablative, Elative) Marks the direction from: from, out of, from over,...
Instrumental _c_ (Comitative, Postpositive) Marks the instrument, means or accompanying entity.

The instrumental case is Ancient Fukhian's postpositive that had to be used with all postpositions. It is for this reason that the instrumental is still regarded a case -- in Modern Fukhian, it could instead be analysed to be a postposition specifying the instrument.

Example:

Ancient: (mesiced) = in the houses
Modern: (mesied) = in the houses

The cases of place, locative, allative and separative, can be combined with postpositions of place and often of time, also.

Possessive

Possessives are introduced with the ending _y_ and are then followed by a personal ending.

Example:

[mesynfed] = We are/I am in my/our house(s).

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are formed by using the stem (he_ and attaching a personal ending. This constitutes a noun that you can modify normally, so you can add number and case endings to this.

When a pronoun is incorporated, it looses the information about number.

The Copula

Fukhian has a copula, (dax). It is always optional.

The copula may occur in sentences that lack a lexical predicate. However, predicate endings may be attached to any noun, so the copula can easily be dropped for that reason. The following list gives an overview and the translation of phrase types that need no predicate or use (dax) in Fukhian.

Cases in Phrase   Typical Translation
X.nominative There is X.
X.nominative + adjective.predicative X is ... .
X.nominative + Y.essive X is a Y.
X.nominative + Y.genitive X belongs to Y.
X.nominative + Y.dative X is (destined, meant) for Y.
X.nominative + Y.accusative X has Y.
X.nominative + Y.accusative + Z.dative X gives Y to Z.
X.nominative + Y.locative X is at Y.
X.nominative + Y.allative X goes to Y.
X.nominative + Y.separative X comes from Y.

Derivation

Fukhian has a quite a large inventory of derivational endings.

Index

March 21st, 2007
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? You can drop me a line.
zpentrabvagiktu@theiling.de
Schwerpunktpraxis