Tirkunan: A Romance Language

Inside this orange box I am writing as a conlanger. A blue box will be used when our hobby linguist from this universe reports on what information was sent from there about Tirkunan. If there is no special markup, you are reading the original text that the Institute for Parallel Histories (IPH) sent from there. The IPH themselves use light grey boxes to clarify language history in more detail.


Tirkunan is a Romance conlang derived from Vulgar Latin that I modelled to look like what I felt was a nice Romance language, whatever 'nice' may mean.

Due to my tendency to produce highly regular engelangs, simplicity and regularity is one design goal, but Tirkunan is not an engelang, and does not feature a full reconstruction of grammatical properties, but only a creole-like reduction of morphology embedded into a (hopefully) Romance feel.

Another goal was to have a fully elaborated Grand Master Plan (which you can play with interactively) for the sound shifts instead of making up words in an ad-hoc manner. This will help me prevent inconsistencies.

The nouns, adjectives and verbs will be derived with a semi-automated set of rules from Vulgar Latin words, but some manual adjustments will be made if it feels more plausible that way. The sets of rules will try to produce something that looks plausibly Romance, without making the conhistorical development explicit. The conhistory is currently not my primary goal as long as the result looks plausibly Romance at first and hopefully second glance.

Further, I wanted a conlang that allows me to write texts myself without the help of a computer-aided grammar system.

Tirkunan's location in the multiverse is in the parallel universe of Þrjótrunn somewhere on the Iberian Peninsula. The details are still missing from the IPH.

In summary, the design goals were the following.

  • Very simple morphology.
  • Plausibly a Romance language.
  • Isolating morphology, and isolating or agglutinative derivation.
  • A plausible phonological history of the language, i.e., a grand master plan by which words are regularly derived from Vulgar Latin.
  • An interesting vowel system. This was the initial momentum starting this conlang.
  • No palatalisation, except for very few examples.
  • Flavours of Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Sardinian, Sicilian.
  • Should not sound like French, Portuguese, or Romanian.


To get the right sound I had in mind, I considered the following.

Like Logudorese (Sardinian), Tirkunan did not palatalise /k ɡ/ (nor other consonants) before [e i]. This is the reason why I chose to use 'k' instead of 'c': it is naturally pronounced [k] before [e i] even when thinking Romance.

Like Sicilian, Calabrese and other Italian languages, Tirkunan drops some initial unstressed vowels, most frequently /i/, e.g. mperi < imperivm 'empire' (compare Sicilian/Calabrese 'mperu').

Like Catalan, Tirkunan does not fear consonantal endings on words, especially on nouns and particles. E.g. kiutat [kjuˈtat] < civitātem 'town' (compare Catalan 'ciutat'), kel [kɛl] < caelvm 'sky; heaven'.

Like Catalan, Portuguese, and some Southern Italian dialects like Sicilian/Calabrese, reduces unstressed vowels into a three-vowel system /a i u/, e.g. the participle of solu [ˈsolu] is sulut [sʊˈlʊt].

Like Spanish, Tirkunan has five phonemic vowels: /i e a o u/. Some words show similar sound shifts: ombra < hominem 'man' (compare Spanish 'hombre').

Like Italian (and French), Tirkunan has quite a lot of elided vowels and consonants, and many words end in a vowel.

Like in Modern Tuscan, the -re on verbs is dropped. Also, many prepositions drop their final consonant (which reappears before vowel), e.g. pi < per, ku < cvm.

Unlike French, there are no nasal vowels, and no [y ø ʒ ʃ ɥ].

Unlike Portuguese, there are no nasal vowels and no [l] > [u] shift, although I like it very much and it was tempting to include it.

Unlike most Romance languages, there is almost no palatalisation, so no [ɲ ʎ ʃ ʒ t͡ʃ d͡ʒ]. Instead, Tirkunan retains the [i] and [u] glides, e.g. ali < alivm and koru < corvvs.

Further, especially the verbal system is very untypically analytical for Romance languages, although all the principles and forms are taken from Romance so an isolated verb form should not appear unfamiliar. I found that when Afrikaans can go so far in Germanic, then so can a Romance language.


Structurally, Tirkunan is more French than I had planned. Some problems were elegantly solved that way, and some things probably just happend by chance:

  • Plural is shown on articles, not on nouns: lis kiutat 'the cities'.
  • Some vocab does sounds very French, but even more Catalan in most cases: Lak Liman 'Lake Geneva'.
  • Drop of vowels, very short verb forms, qv>k: l'ariva 'he arives', tu kit 'you leave'.


The name 'Tirkunan' means 'Tarragonian', i.e. 'language of (the city of) Tarragona'. This town is called 'Tirkunis' in Modern Tirkunan and was the capital of the Roman province of Hispānia Tarracōnēnsis for several centuries. Today, it is the second largest city (~2.100.000 inhabitans) of Lustany (or 'Lustani' in Tirkunan).[1] In text written before the unified orthography was introduced, Tirkunan is also frequently referred to as 'Terkunan' or 'Tercunan' or 'Tircunan'. Further, some dialects have metathesis (or used to have, as by the influence of the standard language is is no longer the case), in analogy with other words, so we also find 'Trikunan', etc.

If derived regularly from the Latin word, the city would be called Trakunis. The ending -an was eventually preferred for adjectives instead of -is as the latter was more and more interpreted as a locative, today often found in city names.

The vowel change was either by influence of another language, or maybe because it was taken to be related to ter 'earth'. We don't know the exact reason. Historical documents merely show that the name changed around four-three hundred years ago, and there are various inconsistent spellings in older texts.




The following consonants exist:

b /b/ [b]
d /d/ [d]
f /f/ [f]
g /ɡ/ [ɡ]
k /k/ [k]
l /l/ [l]
m /m/ [m ɱ]
n /n/ [n ŋ m ɱ]
p /p/ [p]
r /r/ [r]
s /s/ [s]
t /t/ [t]
v /v/ [v]

/n/ is [ŋ] before [k ɡ] and [m] before [b p]. /n m/ are both [ɱ] before [v f].

h is used to mark hiatus between vowels, i.e., a syllable break between two vowels. This mainly occurs in names (e.g. Iuhan [juˑ.ˈan] 'John') and foreign words (e.g. kahos [kaˑ.ˈɔs] 'chaos').

The language allows the following initial consonants or clusters:

b bl br mb mbl mbr
p pl pr mp mpl mpr sp spl spr nsp nspl nspr
d - dr nd - ndr
t - tr nt - ntr st - str nst - nstr
g gl gr ng ngl ngr
k kl kr nk nkl nkr sk skl skr nsk nskl nskr
f fl fr mf mfl mfr
s - - ns
v - - mv

The prenasalised consonants are pronounced as a separate syllable when a consonant precedes. If a vowel precedes, the nasal is pronounced as part of the previous syllable, which is thus considered closed.

mperi [m̩.ˈpeˑ.riˑ] empire
ni' mperi [nɪm.ˈpeˑ.riˑ] in an/the empire
fimbra [ˈfɪm.braˑ] woman


Tirkunan has the following vowels and diphtongs, which are pronounced slightly differently in different phonological context, determined by length and stress:

spelling phoneme
a /a/ [] [a] [ɐ]
e /e/ [] [ɛ] [ɪ]
i /i/ [] [ɪ] [ɪ]
o /o/ [] [ɔ] [ʊ]
u /u/ [] [ʊ] [ʊ]
au /a͡u/ [a͡ʊ̯] [a͡ʊ̯] [ɐ͡ʊ̯]
ai /a͡i/ [a͡ɪ̯] [a͡ɪ̯] [ɐ͡ɪ̯]
ia /i͡a/ [jaˑ] [ja] []
ie /i͡e/ [jeˑ] [] [ɪ]
io /i͡o/ [joˑ] [] []
iu /i͡u/ [juˑ] [] []

Length is not phonemic.

Note the collapse of e with i and o with u. ie [je] is also pronounced [ɪ] in unstressed syllables (e.g. in the name Iron < *Ieron < Hieronymvs).

Some dialects do not distinguish between [a] and [ɐ], but only use [a].

The falling /a͡u a͡i/ are always long, while the rising diphthongs may be long or short.


In stressed, open syllables, a vowel is long. Otherwise, it is short. The quantity changes only slightly, so we do not indicate it in this document except for stressing the slight difference. The quality, however, changes as the above table shows.

Syllable breaks are as follows: V-V, V-CV, VC-CV, VC-CCV..., i.e., a single consonant belongs to the next syllable, while of a sequence of at least two consonants, the first one closes the previous syllable. There is one exception: stop + r,l behaves like one consonant.

Further note that 'h' is only used to separate vowels. It is mute and not considered a consonant.

pan [pan] bread
fimbra [ˈfɪm.brɐ] woman
matra [ˈmaˑ.trɐ] mother
ringla [ˈrɪŋ.ɡlɐ] kingdom
fili [ˈfiˑ.lɪ] son; daughter


Words are stressed

on the penultimate syllable if the word ends in a vowel
on the last syllable otherwise

Note: this also means that words ending in an apostrophe are stressed on the last syllable.

Some examples:

mperi /m̩ˈperi/ empire
mpirian /m̩piˈrjan/ imperial
mper /m̩ˈper/ to rule, to command
mpiratur /m̩piraˈtur/ emperor
rakun /raˈkun/ someone
raku' /raˈku/ someone

Vowel Development

Vowel Shift Overview This figure shows an overview of what happened to the vowels from Classical Latin to Modern Tirkunan.

Vowel phones shown in the same colour are allophones of the same phoneme.

In detail, the following is shown. The Classical Latin vowel system had ten phonemic vowels, five long ones and five short ones, /iː i eː e aː a oː o uː u/ which were probably pronounced [iː ɪ eː ɛ aː a oː ɔ uː ʊ].

In Vulgar Latin, phonemic length was lost, but the quality of the vowels was retained, with three mergers: /aː a/ > /a/, /eː ɪ/ > /e/, and /oː ʊ/ > /o/. The result is a seven vowel system in Proto-Romance: /i e ɛ a u o ɔ/.

The vowels in Proto-Romance then came to be pronounced long and short again, depending on whether a syllable was open or closed: open syllables had long vowels, closed syllables short vowels. This is shown by the split of all vowels in the middle of the figure.

Tirkunan developed differently from this point than many other Romance languages. It collapsed the seven vowels with phonetic length into a five vowel system with phonetic length by four mergers: [e i] > [ɪ], [eː ɛː] > [], [o u] > [ʊ], and [oː ɔː] > [].

S25 Vowel Shift This figure shows the final vowel shift that reduced the four vowel heights of Proto-Romance to the three heights of Tirkunan.

The phones of modern Tirkunan are not lengthened much, so the modern phones can be given as [iˑ ɪ eˑ ɛ aˑ a uˑ ʊ oˑ ɔ]. In stressed syllables, the lengthening is slightly stronger.

Note that in this document, vowel length is usually not indicated for Tirkunan pronunciation, even in phonetic descriptions, since the differences are rather small.


The morphology has greatly simplified. Tirkunan is grammatically isolating with agglutinative derivation.

The derivational system of Tirkunan is quite productive. Stems never change when affixes are added. When Latin allows several ways to form a word, often only one has survived and was generalised to be used in many more cases. As an example, from the verb am 'to love', we can derive amabri 'lovable', amatur 'lover', amur 'love'.

The verb is usually quite complex morphologically in Romance languages. It is undeclinable in Tirkunan. All tenses, aspects, and moods are formed analytically with auxiliaries. The constructions are quite typical for Romance, however, but the analytical forms have completely replaced the old system.

Tirkunan has dropped all grammatical gender distinctions.

There is no trace of Latin case. This is just like in many Romance languages. Tirkunan has dropped case from pronouns, too.

The pronouns were regulasied so that the plural is formed with -s.


For most words, Old Tirkunan drops a final vowel if the preceding consonant was -l, -r, -n, -s, -t, -k or -p (voiceless plosives or alveolar sonorants or sibilants), and if there was no final cluster except -(n,m,r,l)(t,p,k), -st, and -rn. Final vowels that are not dropped collapse into -a (earlier [ə]). Nouns ending in rising diphthongs behaved similarly, dropping the main vowel, leaving the plain glide. This [j] or [w] glide becomes syllabic again and shows up as a final -i or -u in the corresponding words, e.g. glori < glōria, mperi < impērivm, koru < corvvm.


sg. pl.
1. m(i) nos
2.informal t(u) tus
2.formal vo vos
2.representative tro tros
3. l(e) les
reflexive s(e)
relative k(e)


The pronouns nos and vos show a slightly irregular derivation: the regular derivation would be *nus and *vus. Tirkunan has strong simplification of the pronouns and loss of any case distinction. Most simplifications can be observed in other Romance languages, too. E.g. the replacement of ego by a form of me in Ligurian, which has 'mi' in the nominative.

Note that pronouns are not mandatory. This can lead to ambiguities that have to be resolved by context, because the verb does not carry any information about person either (Tirkunan is isolating).

Note that how le behaves differently after a vowel than the article: e.g. di + le (pronoun) is di le while di + li (article) is di'l.

The pronoun tro/tros is used in conversations, often formal, to refer to the organisation, company, or group the interlocutor is part of, often in order to avoid direct addressing of the interlocutor. It derives from tva horda 'your gang'. The plural is used when talking to a group of representatives.

The 3rd person pronoun has no special, prefixed possessive form, so di le has to be used. Alternatively, se may be used as a possessive – it is not necessarily reflexive as a possessive, but may refer to any 3rd person. If se is used with di, it is strictly reflexive. In contrast to that, di le is strictly non-reflexive.

The reflexive pronoun is only used to refer to a 3rd person, otherwise 1st and 2nd pronouns are used instead of the reflexive.

Mi va ni' mi gradin. I (am) walk(ing) in my garden.
Vo va'n vo gradin. You (are) walk(ing) in your garden.
Le va'n se gradin. He/She (is) walk(ing) in his garden.
Le va'n gradin di le. He/She (is) walk(ing) in his (someone else's) garden.
Le va'n gradin di se. He/She (is) walk(ing) in his (own) garden.


Possessives follow the noun and are formed with d(i) + noun/pronoun:

patra di fimbra father of a/the woman
patra d'ombra father of a/the man
patra di l'ombra father of the man

All pronouns but le also form a short possessive by being prefixed to the modified phrase. The construction with di is evenly acceptable.

patra di mi mi patra my father
patra di nos nos patra our father
patra di tu tu patra your father
se patra his/her father
patra di se his/her (refl.) father
patra di le his/her (non-refl.) father
li patra the father

Determiners and Indefinite Pronouns

li, l', 'l < ille, illa determiner the (singular) reduces to l' before vowels and, otherwise, to 'l after vowels
lis < illas, illos determiner the (plural)
un, u' < vna, vnv(m) determiner a, an coincides with number 1
nus < vnos determiner some plural indefinite article
kul < eccv(m) ille determiner, pronoun this; that; this one; that one
tot < tōtv(m)? determiner, pronoun every, all
katun, katu' < *cata vnvm determiner, pronoun each, each one, everyone
rakun, raku' < aliqv(is) vn(vm) determiner, pronoun some(one), some(thing), any(one), any(thing) {singular}
rakus < aliqv(is) vnos determiner, pronoun some {plural}
nisun, nisu' < ne ipsv(m) vn(vm) determiner, pronoun no-one

The article is always optional.

The article un becomes u' before vowels and stops.

Accordingly katun, rakun and nisun become katu', raku' and nisu' before nasals and at the end of phrases (e.g. before commas, semicolons, colons, and full-stops).

Although totally regular, please note again how the article un is pronounced before [b p m f v k ɡ] and before vowel:

un bar [ʊm bar] a bar
un kafi [ʊŋ ˈkafɪ] a cafe; a coffee
un ombra [u ˈnɔmbrɐ] a man
u'fimbra [ʊˈfɪmbrɐ] a woman
u'mperi [ʊmˈperɪ] an empire


Nouns have only one form. Plural is indicated on the article.

Adjective and nouns are quite similar in usage. Whether something is an apposition or an attributive adjective construction isn't always clear. It does not matter, really. Maybe that's just the same.


The declension system of Latin was dropped quickly in Tirkunan. More quickly than in other Romance languages. The accusative singular form, pronounced without -m in Vulgar Latin, was the only form that was left over. Most vowels in endings collapsed to only a /ə/ very quickly. In some cases, the thematic vowel of the declension was mistaken to be part of the stem, so some traces of the old -u- declension are still visible today.


To model the history of nouns, I use the following simulation. It takes care of the collapse of declension classes and deterioration of endings.

Nouns are based on the accusative singular form, but a general /-əm/ ending is assumed instead of the original ending, because declensions are assumed to having vanished greatly in late Vulgar Latin and so 1st (-a-), 2nd (-o-), 3rd (mixed), and 5th (-e) declensions are basically treated the same.

However, as some (very few) -i- declension nouns and some -u- (4th) declension nouns retained the -i-/-u- in the form of a final stem glide., assumed /jəm/ and /wəm/ endings are used. (In the alternate timeline, Þrjótrunn also retained the 4th declension for some words, so the Vulgar Latin there may be a little different from ours.)

Adjectives are derived in the same way, starting with the f.acc.sg. form (there should be no difference when starting with other genders' acc.sg. form).

Note that since the GMP is made for shifting words that resemble the Classical Latin written form to make life easier (it is the look of those classical forms the author is more familiar with), input is reconstructed to a classical form, and thus we use the /m/ ending although it is dropped by the GMP and does not cause any change the result. This is just a technical cheat for making it look like an accusative – this conlang is based on Vulgar Latin nevertheless. The GMP handles Vulgar forms, too.

You can experiment with these rules here.

Input for GMP
Tirkunan Pronunciation
porta 1st (-a-) port-a-m *port-əm port [pɔrt]
hortvs 2nd (-o-) hort-v-m *hort-əm hort [ɔrt]
corvvs 2nd (-o-) corv-v-m *corv-əm koru [ˈkorʊ]
imperivm 2nd (-o-) imperi-v-m *imperi-əm mperi [m̩ˈperɪ]
bonvs,-a,-vm 1st, 2nd (-a-, -o-) bon-a-m *bon-əm bon [bɔn]
nox 3rd (consonantal) noct--em *noct-əm not [nɔt]
tvrris 3rd (-i-) tvrr-i-m *tvrr-jəm tori [ˈtorɪ]
fēlīx 3rd (consonantal) fēlīc-e-m *fēlīc-əm filik [fɪˈlɪk]
portvs 4th (-u-) port-v-m *port-wəm portu [ˈpɔrtʊ]
dīēs 5th (-e-) dī-e-m *di-əm di [di]

There are some exceptions from this construction rule, especially for very short words, e.g. dehu < dēvs.


Attributive adjectives always follow the noun they modify.

The comparative and superlative is formed with pru(s). 'less' is min. The superlative is formed by using the definite article:

li kiutat gran the large town
li kiutat pru gran the larger town
li kiutat li pru gran the largest town
li kiutat min gran the smaller town
li kiutat li min gran the smallest town

Also compare the usage gran 'big/famous one' and san 'saint' with the use of adjectives. These are usually used in names as in the following appositional constructions:

Gran Karla Charlemagne
San Kikeli Saint Cecily



Adjectives can be converted into adverbs by adding the suffix -ament, possibly replacing the final -a of the adjective. After vowel and -l, the -a- is dropped: ipalment. If the adjective ends in a weak l, i.e., that -l drops before consonants, neither l nor a will surface: sument.

Some adjectives form irregular adverbs, however, e.g. bon 'good' > ben 'well'.

The following are some adverbs in Tirkunan:

komu how?, how
nkodu today
eru yesterday
krau tomorrow
akur now
kandu when?, when
pi ka why?, why


i(d) and
u(d) or
ka because, since (reason), as (reason)
pi ka because

i,id and u,ud

i and u differ slightly from what would be expected by normal sound shifts ('t' instead of 'd'). This is probably due to their frequency and lack of stress inside a phrase.


ku(n) with
si(n) without
a(d) at; to; for
di, d' of; off; from
pi, p' for; by; towards
in, n', 'n, ni' in; into, to
ntr(a) between
kontr(a) against
sopr(a) over, about

The 'weak' n will surface before vowels and stops. The other 'weak' consonansts will surface only before vowels:

ku lat with milk
kun kran with meat
kun ap with water
a lat to milk
a kran to meat
ad ap to water


The article li is reduced to 'l after prepositions that end in vowels, unless the following word also begins with a vowel, in which case l' is used.

Fusion, Elision, Sandhi

Tirkunan has quite complex fusion rules: many words have alternative forms, depending on the preceding or following word. Probably the most complex rules involve the preposition in.

In general, elision can be progressive or regressive. In most cases, it is regressive, meaning a following word determines which form of the previous word to use. However, there are some progressive shifts, too, and sometimes both ends change.


If a nasal follows, in becomes ni'.

Otherwise, if a precedes in a word with more than one syllable, it drops before in and is replaced by '.

Otherwise, if li follows and no nasal + stop follows li, in fuses with it to form ni'l. Colloquially, before nasal + consonant, the form ni li can be found: ni li mperi (instead of standard ni'l mperi).

Otherwise, if a vowel follows, in is reduced to n'.

Otherwise, if a vowel precedes, in is reduced to 'n.

Otherwise, if a stop follows, in is reduced to n'.

In combinations of n' + stop/fricative, the nasal shifts to the point of articulation of the following consonant, which is not visible in the orthography: n'da, n'ta, n'ba, n'pa, n'ga, n'ka [nda nta mba mpa ŋɡa ŋka].

Note that in contrast to prefixes, where n- is written differently depending on pronunciation, the orthography of the preposition in is not adjusted.

The following table shows many elision phenomena for prepositions, articles, and verbs:

in ringla [ɪn ˈrɪŋɡlɐ] in a/the kingdom
ambr' in ringla [amb rɪn ˈrɪŋɡlɐ] travel in(to) a/the kingdom
n'u'ringla [nʊˈrɪŋɡlɐ] in a kingdom
ambr' in u'ringla [amb ri nʊˈrɪŋɡlɐ] travel in(to) a kingdom
ni'l ringla [nɪl ˈrɪŋɡlɐ] in the kingdom
ambr' in li ringla [amb rɪn li ˈrɪŋɡlɐ] travel in(to) the kingdom
n'gradin [ŋ̩ɡrɐˈdɪn] in a/the garden
es n'gradin [ɛs ŋ̩ɡrɐˈdɪn] be in a/the garden
ambr' in gradin [amb rɪŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] travel in(to) a/the garden
kan in gradin [ka nɪŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] a/the dog in a/the garden
n'un gradin [nʊŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] in a garden
ambr' in un gradin [amb ri nʊŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] travel in(to) a garden
kan n'un gradin [kan nʊŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] a/the dog in a garden
kan ni'l gradin [kan nɪl ɡrɐˈdɪn] a/the dog in the garden
ni'l gradin [nɪl ɡrɐˈdɪn] in the garden
es ni'l gradin [ɛs nɪl ɡrɐˈdɪn] be in(to) the garden
ambr' in li gradin [amb rɪn li ɡrɐˈdɪn] travel in(to) the garden
kan ni' mperi [kan nɪm ˈperɪ] a/the dog in a/the empire
ni'mperi [nɪmˈperɪ] in a/the empire
ambra ni' mperi [ˈambrɐ nɪm ˈperɪ] travel in(to) a/the empire
n'u'mperi [nʊmˈperɪ] in an empire
ambr' in u'mperi [amb ri nʊmˈperɪ] travel in(to) an empire
ni'l mperi [nɪl m̩ˈperɪ] in the empire
ambr' in li mperi [amb rɪn lɪm ˈperɪ] travel in(to) the empire
n' umbra [ˈnʊmbrɐ] in a/the shadow
ambr' in umbra [amb ri ˈnʊmbrɐ] travel in(to) a/the shadow
n'un umbra [nu ˈnʊmbrɐ] in a shadow
ambr' in un umbra [amb ri nu ˈnʊmbrɐ] travel in(to) a shadow
ni'l umbra [ni ˈlʊmbrɐ] in the shadow
ambr' in l'umbra [amb rɪn ˈlʊmbrɐ] travel in(to) the shadow
ku ringla [ku ˈrɪŋɡlɐ] with a/the kingdom
kun gradin [kʊŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] with a/the garden
kun un gradin [ku nʊŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] with a garden
ku'l gradin [kʊl ɡrɐˈdɪn] with the garden
ku mperi [kʊm ˈperɪ] with a/the empire
kun u'mperi [ku nʊmˈperɪ] with an empire
ku'l mperi [kʊl m̩ˈperɪ] with the empire
kun ombra [ku ˈnɔmbrɐ] with a/the man
kun un ombra [ku nu ˈnɔmbrɐ] with a man
ku l'ombra [ku ˈlɔmbrɐ] with the man
L'es n'gradin. [lɛs ŋ̩ɡrɐˈdɪn] He/She is in a/the garden.
L'es n'un gradin. [lɛs nʊŋ ɡrɐˈdɪn] He/She is in a garden.
L'es ni'l gradin. [lɛs nɪl ɡrɐˈdɪn] He/She is in the garden.

More examples, showing that he correspondence of English and Tirkunan prepositions is not always trivial:

M'es a Lustani. a I am in Lustany.
Mi va'n Tali. in I go to Italy. 'into'
M'es a'l kiutat. a I am in the town.
M'es a Madrida. a I am in Madrid.
Mi va pi Roma. pi I go to Rome. 'towards'
Mi va pi'l kiutat. pi I go to the town.


Value Cardinal
0 nul
1 un
2 du
3 tre
4 katr(a)
5 kimp
6 ses
7 set
8 ot
9 nov(a)
10 dek
11 dek id un
12 dek i du
20 du dek
21 du dek id un
30 tre dek
100 kent
101 kent id un
120 kent i du dek
123 kent i du dek i tre
1000 mil
1000000 milion

As you can see, i is usually used between the tens and units. It is the norm, but not necessary to use. In any other places, it is usually left out, but not forbidden to be used, either.

Ordinal numbers are formed analytically by using di + cardinal.[2]

ombra di dek a/the tenth man
l'ombra di dek the tenth man
un ombra di dek a tenth man
Pap Iuhan Pul Di Du Pope John Paul the Second
Pap Bindit Di Dek I Ses Pope Benedict the Sixteenth


A possible final -a of regular verbs is dropped before a vowel.

Verbs in Tirkunan only have one morphological form, i.e., they are not inflected, however, some derivational forms exist, most notably -at and -an adjectives/nouns, which originally correspond to participles.

The following the (analytical) verb forms of Tirkunan.

Plain Mi manka. I eat.
Past av(a) + verb+at M'ava mankat. I ate.
Future ten + verb Mi ten manka. I will eat.
Negation no(n) + verb Mi no manka. I don't eat.
Passive es + verb+at M'es mangat. I am eaten.
Progressive sta + verb Mi sta manka. I am eating.
Interrogative Esku + phrase Esku tu manka? Do you eat.
Esku kul es ombra k'ama tu? Is this the man who loves tu?
Optative Las + phrase Luk sa fikat. Let there be light.
Imperative Inversion Ama vo mi! Love me! (formal) There is only 2nd person imperative.
drop subject Manka! Eat!

Esku is a contraction of es kul ke.

In the imperative, the pronoun may be used, but as usual, it is optional.

Note that the passive with es and the past with ava are both formed with the participle (-at form), not the plain verb form.

The following irregular synthetic verb forms exist and are preferred over the regular analytical ones:

isat fut been
ava fut fu was, were
ten es eri will be
las es sa let be

Some Verbs and Auxiliaries

es to be M'es ombra. I am a man.
fu was, were Les fu ombra. They were men.
es, fu, eri, sa form passive + participle Tu fu amat. You were loved.
ava forms past tense (+ participle) M'ava venat. I came.
ten forms future tense Mi ten ven. I will come.
pos be able to Mi pos manka. I can eat.
vul to want to +verb Mi vul ama tu. I want to love you.
vul to want to Mi vul umbra. I want (some) shadow.
sava to know how to + verb
sava to know
las forms optative, to let
manka to eat
ama to love
ten to hold, to have
fik to make, to create; to do; forms causative
va to go
dik to say
deva to owe, to be in debt, must
ariva to manage to do s.t. M'ariva ven. I manage to come.
ariva to arrive at M'ariva Tali. I arrive in Italy.

Note that tense and aspect are not mandatory categories. They are often derived from context. This is especially try in narratives, which generally use the plain verb instead of ava+VERB-at. An exceptional verb is fu, the only synthetical past tense, which is used in narratives frequently.


From the verbs we see today in Tirkunan, it appears that Old Tirkunan often used frequentative verbs instead of the original Classical Latin verbs, e.g. we have vis, probably from vīsāre instead of *vid from vidēre.[3] Many Latin verbs have not survived into Tirkunan, often only the compound verbs survived. Probably for this reason, Tirkunan has a tendency to preserve the compound stem of verbs rather than the original stem.[4] From the compound forms, the isolated verb was often reconstructed by analogy (e.g. *ficere instead of facere), so we even find many original compound stem in isolated verbs in Tirkunan.


To model what has happend during the history of Tirkunan, I use the following simulation in the hope that the result is a plausible selection of verbs. The model has to select verb stems, apply the sound changes and do simplifications of the morphological endings.

Verbs usually derive from either the present stem or the frequentative, so we compare the present stem and the frequentative stem (which is formed by -(i)tāre and often is equal to the supine stem: c.f. vidēre, vīsvm&mdashvīsāre but agere, āctvmagitāre). Deponent verbs always derive from the supine stem (from the perfect passive participle).

The construction here gives that seem to yield a set of verbs that looks plausible. The history of Tirkunan verbs should currently be treated like a black box: there is no internal explanation (yet) which verbs derive from the frequentative and which from the original, plain present tense. Maybe it was chaotic in conhistory. The set of rules is used by me, the conlanger, to have an automated method to produce a nice-looking result. For now, let the history of the language be accidentally such that this construction and the historical language development yield the same results. The construction is meant to produce a plausible set of verbs, so if you think the resulting set of verbs looks implausible, please tell me.

Now for the constuction: first of all, very short verbs and very irregular verbs will need manual care. By 'short' I mean verbs whose stem does not end in a consonant like stāre, etc. Often, the plain stem can be used for sound shifting (e.g. to produce sta). The irregular verbs to be handled manually would be esse, ferre, velle, īre, fieri and all compounds thereof. Manual care may also mean that it is decided that the verb did not survive.

For the remaining verbs, if the frequentative verb is a regular extension (+ optional vowel + t) of the original stem, neglecting a possible stem vowel change and neglecting a possible drop of stem-final glides, and if no consonants fuse (for vidēre, use vis-, not vid-), then the original present stem is used including a potential vocalic/glide ending.

Otherwise, the frequentative stem is used. Sometimes, the regular -t ending (if still present and not fused) is stripped off together with a possible vowel in front of it. (This rule is still experimental – a close look at the results will be taken for evaluation.)

Further, we assumed a tendency to reconstruct the isolated verbs from compounds by analogy. So as the stem vowel, the reduced vowel from compound stems is usually used to derive the forms in Tirkunan (for facere, use fic-, not fac-), but we're free to decide that this would be quite implausible. To find a good choice, other Romance languages will have to be checked.

To the resulting stub, a /-iə/ ending is added for the -ī- conjugation, and an // ending otherwise. This is then sound shifted with the GMP. This ending represents a reduced 3rd person singular ending.

Often, prefixes are sound shifted separately so that compound verbs are compounded in Tirkunan, too, if it is plausible that it was clear to the speaker of (Old) Tirkunan that the prefix was indeed a prefix not part of the stem. Such prefixes are regularised by analogy with other verbs.

You can experiment with these rules here.

Some examples:

present stem
infinitive isolated compound supine stem input for GMP Tirkunan
amāre am am-āt *am-ə ama
solvere solv sol-v̄t *solv-ə solu
avdīre avd avd-īt *avd-iə odi
avdēre avd avs *avs-ə os
vidēre vid vīs *vīs-ə vis
facere fac fic fec-t *fic-ə fik
discvtere qvat cvt cvss *cvss-ə diskus
inqvirere qvaer qvir qvis-it *qvis-ə nkis


Derivation in Tirkunan is a regular agglutination process. The following is an overview of derivational suffixes.

noun > adj. -an krisi church > krisian ecclisial
adj. > emphatic -isma gran large > granisma huge
adj. > abstraction -(i)tat pusabri posible > pusabritat posibility
verb > agent -(a)tur ama to love > amatur lover
verb > patient -(a)t ama to love > amat loved
verb > abstraction -((a)t)i vis to see > visi vision
verb > state -ur ama to love > amur love
verb > progress -(a)n ama to love > aman loving
verb > event -i kumis to begin > kumisi beginning
verb > ability -abri pos be able > pusabri possibly

-a is dropped before adding a vocalic ending.

-(i)tat drops the (i) after -i, -u, -l, -r.

Here, -(at)i drops the (at) after single -s (not in clusters).

Initial a of verb endings drops after -u and -i, e.g. solu+at > sulut, udi+at > udit.

Some endings are often used in city, country, mountain, river, etc. names:

noun > noun -is often found in cities Tirkunis Tarragona

Note that final -a is dropped when adding a vocalic ending, but final -i or -u are not. However, two identical vowels are collapsed into one. Some endings drop the initial vowel after -i and -u.

istra > istran insular
mperi > mpirian imperial
os > usat dared
odi > udit heard; listened
solu > sulut solved
solu > suluti solution
solu > sulutur solver


Tirkunan is mainly SVO. The indirect object may be before or after the direct object with the tendency of fronting light phrases, particularly those with pronouns.

Other word orders are also possible. For imperatives, the verb is fronted, so imperatives have VSO order.

Most modifiers follow the noun: prepositional constructions: mperi 'n Lustani, adjectives: mperi gran, and relative clauses: mperi k'es in Lustani. Pronomial possessives precede the noun: mi patra, unless they are prepositional: patra di mi.

Auxilaries precede the verb: Mi vul manka.

Adverbs are usually at the beginning of a phrase: Nkodu mi va'n Lustani.


Generally, whitespace is inserted after . ! ? , ; :, but not before.

Whitespace is inserted before initial and after final ' unless the remains of the collapsed word are only one letter or unless there's more punctuation.

One Letter Words

This section lists some words that reduce to only one letter in some phonological contexts.

a ad
d di
i id
k ke
l le, le
m mi
n in
p pe
s se
t tu
u ud, un


Pater Noster

Nos Patra [nɔs ˈpatrɐ]
Nos patra, k'es n'kel, [nɔs ˈpatrɐ kɛs ŋ̩kɛl]
Sa bindikat tu numbra. [sa bɪndɪˈkat tu ˈnʊmbrɐ]
Ven tu ringla. [vɛn tu ˈrɪŋɡlɐ]
Sa fikat tu vulat, [sa fɪˈkat tu vʊˈlat]
Komu 'n kel tau 'n ter. [ˈkomʊŋ kɛl ta͡ʊ̯n tɛr]
Nkodu don a nos li nos pan pi katun di. [ŋ̩ˈkodʊ do na nɔs li nɔs pam pi kɐˈtʊn di]
I pidon a nos lis nos divat, [i pɪˈdo na nɔs lɪs nɔs dɪˈvat]
Tau komu nos pidon les a nos divatur. [ta͡ʊ̯ ˈkomʊ nɔs pɪˈdɔn le sa nɔs dɪvɐˈtʊr]
I no nduk nos n'tintati, [i nɔn dʊk nɔs n̩tɪnˈtatɪ]
Ma liber nos di mal. [ma lɪˈbɛr nɔs di mal]
Ka di tu es ringla i pot i glori, [ka di tu ɛs ˈrɪŋɡlɐ i po ti ˈɡlorɪ]
N' itren, [nɪˈtrɛn]
Amin. [ɐˈmɪn]

The Northwind and the Sun

Vent Bural i Sul [vɛnt bʊˈra li sʊl]
Un di, vent bural i sul diskus sopra ke di les du es li pru frot, kandu 'n kul mument, ambratur pas mbrutat n'krada mantil. [ʊn di vɛnt bʊˈra li sʊl dɪsˈkʊs ˈsoprɐ ke di lɛs du ɛs li pru frɔt ˈkandʊŋ kʊl mʊˈmɛnt ɐmbrɐˈtʊr pas m̩brʊˈtat ŋ̩ˈkradɐ mɐnˈtɪl]
Les kuven ke li kul eri kusidrat li pru frot k'ariva fik ambratur kit se mantil. [lɛs kʊˈvɛŋ ke li ku ˈlerɪ kʊsɪˈdrat li pru frɔt kɐˈrivɐ fi kɐmbrɐˈtʊr kɪt se mɐnˈtɪl]
Tau, vent bural kumis sufla ku tot se pot, ma pru le sufla, pru l'ambratur string' in se mantil, i 'n fin, vent bural deva risingra. [ta͡ʊ̯ vɛnt bʊˈral kʊˈmɪs ˈsuflɐ ku tɔt se pɔt ma pru le ˈsuflɐ pru lɐmbrɐˈtʊr strɪŋ ɡɪn se mɐnˈtɪl ɪɱ fɪn vɛnt bʊˈral ˈdevɐ rɪˈsɪŋɡrɐ]
Tau, sul kumis bril in kel, i spitu ambratur kit se mantil. [ta͡ʊ̯ sʊl kʊˈmɪs bri lɪŋ kɛl ɪs ˈpitʊ ɐmbrɐˈtʊr kɪt se mɐnˈtɪl]
Akur, vent bural deva rikungros supriltat di sul. [ɐˈkʊr vɛnt bʊˈral ˈdevɐ rɪkʊŋˈɡrɔs sʊprɪlˈtat di sʊl]

Iuhan 1:1

Iuhan [jʊˈan]
N' prinkepi fu parul, i parul fu ku Dehu, i parul fu Dehu. [m̩prɪŋˈkepɪ fu pɐˈrʊl i pɐˈrʊl fu ku ˈdeʊ i pɐˈrʊl fu ˈdeʊ]
Le fu, n'prinkepi, ku Dehu. [le fu m̩prɪŋˈkepɪ ku ˈdeʊ]
Tot es fikat pi le, i si le, nisun es fikat k'es fikat. [to tɛs fɪˈkat pi le i si le nɪˈsu nɛs fɪˈkat kɛs fɪˈkat]
In le fu vit, i vit fu luk d'ombra. [ɪn le fu vɪt i vɪt fu lʊk ˈdɔmbrɐ]
Luk bril in tembra, i tembra no kupren le. [lʊk bri lɪn ˈtɛmbrɐ i ˈtɛmbrɐ no kʊˈprɛn le]
Fu fikat ombra mandat pi Dehu, se numbra Iuhan. [fu fɪˈka ˈtɔmbrɐ mɐnˈdat pi ˈdeʊ se ˈnʊmbrɐ jʊˈan]


Gines [ɡɪˈnɛs]
N' prinkepi, Dehu fik kel i ter. [m̩prɪŋˈkepɪ ˈdeʊ fɪk ke li tɛr]
Ter fu si from i vak, i tembra fu sopra faki d'avis i sprit di Dehu mova sopr' ap. [tɛr fu si fro mi vak i ˈtɛmbrɐ fu ˈsoprɐ ˈfakɪ dɐˈvi sɪs prɪt di ˈdeʊ ˈmovɐ sɔp rap]
Dehu dik: sa fikat luk! I luk fu fikat. [ˈdeʊ dɪk sa fɪˈkat lʊk i lʊk fu fɪˈkat]
Dehu vis ke luk fu bon i sipar luk di tembra. [ˈdeʊ vɪs ke lʊk fu bo ni sɪˈpar lʊk di ˈtɛmbrɐ]
Dehu kram luk «di» i tembra «not». [ˈdeʊ kram lʊk di i ˈtɛmbrɐ nɔt]
I fu ser i fu matin: di d'un. [i fu se ri fu mɐˈtɪn di dʊn]

Golden Rule

Regla d'Or [ˈreɡlɐ dɔr]
Kul ke no vul k'es fikat a tu, no fik a raku'! [kʊl ke no vʊl kɛs fɪˈka ta tu no fi ka rɐˈku]


Babil [bɐˈbɪl]
Un temp, tot ter ava so limba id ipal parul. [ʊn tɛmp tɔt te ˈravɐ so ˈlɪmbɐ i dɪˈpal pɐˈrʊl]


Aemilia Imeli
Alexandra, Alexander Lisandra
Aloysius Alesi
Ambrosius Mbrosi
Antonia, Antonius Ntoni
Arturius Ratul
Benedicta, Benedictus Bindit
Caesar Kisar
Caietana, Caietanus Kaitan
Cecilia Kikeli
Christina Kristin
Christus Krist
Claudia, Claudius Krodi
Clemens Kriment
Dulcia Droki
Felix Filik
Flora Flur
Francisca, Franciscus Frankiska
Gaia, Gaius Gai
Hadriana, Hadrianus Drihan
Helena Ren
Henrik Indrik
Hieronyma, Hieronymus Iron
Isabella Savel
John Iuhan
Jake Iakova
Jesus Isu
Julia, Julius Ioli
Judia Iodi
Clara Klar
Laura Lur
Marcus Mbrak
Marcella, Marcellus Mbrakel
Maria, Marius Mari
Martina, Martinus Mbratin
Maximilianum Masimbrihan
Michaela, Michael Mikel
Paula, Paulus Pul
Philippa, Philippus Filip
Richarda, Richardus Rikrada
Sibylla Sivil
Stephana, Stephanus Stifan
Suetonius Svitoni
Theophila, Theophilus Siufil
Tulia, Tulius Toli
Victoria, Victorius Vitori
Vincentius Vinkenti
Walter Galteri
Werhard Girardi
Wernhard Grinaldi

Christmas Card Exchange 2009

The foreside reads 'Hjalri Nátli eð þælkt nó önn', which is Þrjótrunn, meaning 'Merry Christmas and a happy new year'. Our family is on holiday in Þrjótur, sending a card back to their friends at home in Tarragona, Lusitania.

Modern Version

Salu kar ... [ˈsalʊ kar]
Natal Filik id an nova pruspla di nort frida, [nɐˈtal fɪˈli ki dan ˈnovɐ ˈprʊsplɐ di nɔrt ˈfridɐ]
di Friglater, ova nos kilebra Natal. Ka nivik [di frɪɡlɐˈtɛr ˈovɐ nɔs kɪˈlebrɐ nɐˈtal ka nɪˈvɪk]
kustantament i tot kiutat es prin d'Aret Sular [kʊstɐntɐˈmɛn ti tɔt kjʊˈta tɛs prɪn dɐˈrɛt sʊˈlar]
i di nfant ku frok. Fin akur, pi frutun, vis [i dɪɱ fant ku frɔk fi nɐˈkʊr pi frʊˈtʊn vɪs]
nisu' lisi. Pi kilibrati se manga pisk [nɪˈsu ˈlisɪ pi kɪlɪˈbratɪ se ˈmaŋɡɐ pɪsk]
apistan. [ɐpɪsˈtan]
A pru trada, [a pru ˈtradɐ]
Oda & Indrik [ˈodɐ ɪnˈdrɪk]

Original Version

The language has changed since 2009. The original Version was as follows:
Salu kar ... [ˈsalʊ kar]
Natal Filik id an nova pruspla di nort frida, [nɐˈtal fɪˈli ki dan ˈnovɐ ˈprʊsplɐ di nɔrt ˈfridɐ]
di Friglater, ova nos kilebra Natal. Ka nivik [di frɪɡlɐˈtɛr ˈovɐ nɔs kɪˈlebrɐ nɐˈtal ka nɪˈvɪk]
kustantament i tot kiutat es prin d'Aret Sular [kʊstɐntɐˈmɛn ti tɔt kjʊˈta tɛs prɪn dɐˈrɛt sʊˈlar]
i di nfant ku frok. Fin akur, pi frutun, vis [i dɪɱ fant ku frɔk fi nɐˈkʊr pi frʊˈtʊn vɪs]
nisu' lisiun. Pi kilibratiun se manga pisk [nɪˈsu lɪˈsjʊn pi kɪlɪbrɐˈtjʊn se ˈmaŋɡɐ pɪsk]
apistan. [ɐpɪsˈtan]
A pru trada, [a pru ˈtradɐ]
Oda & Indrik [ˈodɐ ɪnˈdrɪk]

Hjalri Nátli! There are some minor variations to the text sometimes -- I wrote it by hand and sometimes changed a few words slightly (e.g. no vis raku' lisiun ('we did not see any injury') instead of vis nisu' lisiun ('we saw no injury')).

When addressing a group of people (e.g., a family), I used Salu lis ..., where lis is the definite article in plural, which is used for vocatives (as in French usage).

Hello Dear ...
Merry Christmas and a happy new year from the cold north,
from Þrjótur, where we are celebrating Christmas. Here, it is snowing
constantly, and the whole city is full of Sun Rams
and of children with scissors. Up to now, fortunately, we saw
no injury. For the celebration, people eat stinking fish.
Uta & Henrik
Hallo liebe(r) ...
Frohe Weihnachten und ein glückliches neues Jahr aus dem kalten Norden,
aus Þrjótur, wo wir Weihnachten feiern. Hier schneit es
die ganze Zeit, und die ganze Stadt ist voller Sonnenwidder
und voller Kinder mit Scheren. Bisher haben wir glücklicherweise noch
keine Verletzungen gesehen. Zum Fest ißt man stinkenden Fisch.
Bis dann,
Uta & Henrik



Obviously from Latin Lv̄sitānia, which was in the area of today's Portugal in Roman times. Some things seem to have gone differently, since 'Tarragona' is not in Portugal here, but in Spain, in Catalonia. Also, obviously neither 'Portugal' nor 'Spain' is named after the Latin Lv̄sitānia, but 'Lustani' seems to be a country there. And also, the city seems to be larger than here, provided that 'Tirkunis' is really our 'Tarragona', i.e. Tarracō in Roman times.
Like in Sardinian.
Compare Italian 'acquistare', 'conquistare', 'diventare', 'voltare', and Catalan 'gausar', French 'oser', Portuguese 'ousar', Spanish 'osar', Italian: 'osare' < avdēre, avsvm. If Tirkunan has creole-like traces, English verbs might also be relevant for comparison as many are loaned from the Latin supine stem: 'discuss', 'prevent'.
Compare Romance here: Qvatere has not survived, but discvtere has survived in Italian 'discùtere' and Spanish 'discutir'


May 14th, 2018
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? You can drop me a line.