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If you see many apostrophes, it's pre-reform. If you see î and only a few apostrophes, it's post-reform. — Arthaey

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Htlal /x̩tɬɑl/ is a conlang based on a single mash-on-the-keyboard word created by forum member Serpent, who was merely expressing her feelings about my sharing a TvTropes link:

snfcwsbñefuawbáffmúiebfwaf

I threatened to make a conlang out of her nonsense typing, such that the string above would mean Thank you, Arthaey, for your useful contribution to my day!. And so I did. ;)

Breaking down the seed word

Here is the process by which I figured out ;) the meaning of this sentence-word:

  1. snfcwsbñefuawbáffmúiebfwaf

    awbá /ɑwɸe/ Arthaey

    (because this was the only part that could even vaguely be my name; also it kinda sounds like Yahweh, which is unexpected and amusing but I am the creator of this language, so...)

  2. snfcwsbñefuawbáffmúiebfwaf

    fu /fu/ I thank-for

    (because making fu mean thanks amuses me)

  3. snfcwsbñefuawbáffmúiebfwaf

    ffmúiebfwaf to my day

    (because the to my day part is a less important clause, so probably should go at the end)

  4. snfcwsbñefuawbáffmúiebfwaf

    snfcwsbñe your useful contribution

    (because it's the only part left)

  5. So the sentence-word breaks down into [your useful contribution] [I thank-for] [Arthaey] [to my day]. Therefore, this is an synthetic language with OV word order.

    WALS says: OV languages tend to be postpositional, genitive before noun, adverb before verb, complementizer at end of clause, and standard-marker-adjective order in comparative clauses ... Contrary to some claims, the order of adjective and noun does not correlate with the order of object and verb.

    I'm abritrarily putting adjectives after their nouns.

  6. I don't feel like having case markings in a synthetic language, so I will put the verb between the subject and object. Thus, rigid OVS word order. Which is rare and weird... and seems fitting for this conlang. ;) With OVX word order for oblique phrases.

  7. snf-cws-bñe

    • snf /sn̩f/ your
    • cws /tsys/ help; aid; contribution
    • bñe /bn̩jæ/ useful
  8. ff-múiebf-waf

    • ff /f̩/ my
    • múiebf /møjæbf/ day
    • waf /wɑf/ for the benefit of
  9. snfcwsbñefuawbáffmúiebfwaf

    /sn̩f.tsys.bn̩.jæ.fu.ɑw.ɸe.f̩.mø.jæbf.wɑf/
    snf-cws-bñe-f-u-awbá-ff-múiebf-waf
    your-contribution-useful-am.thankful.for-because.Arthaey-my-day-for

    Thank you, Arthaey, for your useful contribution to my day!

    The above audio recording was my 4th take, so even though I definitely flub "fu" as "ff", this is the best I've managed in a single try, so you'll just have to deal with my "non-native" ;) accent.

BAM! WINNING! :)

And now, on to the documentation that I generated as I broke down the sentence-word...

Word order

patient [neg] verb agent [ditransitive-patient] [obliques]

I'm pretty sure that's a really weird place to put the second object for ditransitive verbs in an otherwise-OVS language. Don't care; that's how it has to be, based on the original seed word. :)

Semantically-intransitive verbs always use a dummy object, a-.

Passive constructions use a dummy agent, -wa.

Vocabulary

Generate random words if you want to see more of what Htlal words/morphemes looks like.

Nouns

  • -sá- /se/ you
  • -u- /u/ I, me
  • cws /tsys/ help; aid; contribution
  • múiebf /møjæbf/ day
  • ńi /ŋi/ greeting

Verbs

(I haven't decided yet how infinitives or dictionary form should be for verbs. For now, I have listed them with capital letters as stand-ins for required parts that must be filled in, where A is agent, P is patient, and P2 is secondary-patient.)

  • P-bn-A /bn̩/ to use P
  • P-m-A-P2 to say P (to P2)
  • P-f-A-P2 to be thankful for P (because of P2)

Adjectives

  • -je /jæ/ in a good way (derivational morpheme only)
  • -co /tso/ in a bad way (derivational morpheme only)
  • f̰e /fjæ/ thankful
  • fco /f̩tso/ indebted; obligated
  • bñe /bn̩jæ/ useful; helpful
  • bnco /bn̩tso/ detracting; harmful

Other words

  • -ki /ki/ with
  • a- /ɑ/ dummy patient
  • -wa /wɑ/ dummy agent
  • -r- /r̥/ negation

Names of other languages borrowed into Htlal

  • eńgliśtlal /æŋ.gliʃ.tɬɑl/ English
  • doitśtlal /do.itʃ.tɬɑl/ German
  • nawatlal /nɑ.wɑ.tɬɑl/ Nahuatl
  • áspañotlal /es.pɑ.njo.tɬɑl/ Spanish

Example sentences

  • ńimu /ŋimu/ I say a greeting; I greet
  • ńimusá /ŋimuse/ I say a greeting to you; I greet you
  • amu /ɑmu/ I say (something); I speak
  • amwa /ɑmwɑ/ (someone) speaks (something); there is speaking
  • htlalmu /x̩tɬɑlmu/ I speak Htlal
  • htlalmusé /x̩tɬɑlmuse/ I speak Htlal to you
  • htlalmuséki /x̩tɬɑlmuseki/ I speak Htlal with you
  • htlalrmu /x̩tɬɑlr̥mu/ I do not speak Htlal

Phonology

Consonants

There are 23 consonants in Htlal, giving it an average ratio of consonants to vowels. [WALS3]

Voicing contrast for plosives only; there are no voiced fricatives. [WALS4]

Bilabial Labio-dental Alveolar Palato-alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal   m       n       ŋ
Stop p b     t d     k ɡ
Sibilant affricate     tf   ts    tʃ           
Fricative ɸ   f   s   ʃ     j x  
Trill     r̥          
Lateral affricate         tɬ               
Lateral fricative         ɬ           
Lateral approximant           l        

Labio-velar approximant: w

Heterorganic affrictates like /tf/ are rare but do exist. And as this is a weird and silly conlang, I do what I want! ;)

Vowels

There are 8 vowels in Htlal:

Front Back
Close i y u
Close-mid e ø o
Open æ ɑ

Syllable structure

  • no syllable-final /r/
  • no syllable-final africates
  • [stop] → [fric] / w_
  • [fric] → [+voice] / [+voice]_ (phonetic but not phonemic)
  • allowable non-vowel syllable nuclei: nasals, liquids, fricatives!

    • liquids and nasals have priority as the nucleus over fricatives: fm /fm̩/, not */f̩m/; lf /l̩f/ not */lf̩/
    • put another way, voiced consonants will be the nucleus before voiceless consonants
  • borrowed /θ/ becomes /ɸ/ *(how to choose wp vs wb?)*

Orthography

Consonants

  1. b /b/
  2. c /ts/
  3. d /d/
  4. f /f/
  5. g /g/
  6. h /x/
  7. j /j/ when no other consonants precedes it; written as a tilde otherwise (which may be an under-tilde for letters with ascenders)
    • i /j/ between vowels
  8. k /k/
  9. l /l/
  10. ĺ /ɬ/
  11. m /m/
  12. n /n/
  13. ń /ŋ/
  14. p /p/
  15. /ɸ/
  16. r /r̥/
  17. s /s/
  18. ś /ʃ/
  19. t /t/
  20. tf /tf/
  21. tl, /tɬ/
  22. /tʃ/
  23. w /w/ except between consonants
    • wp, wb [wɸ]
    • wt, wd [ws]
    • wk, wg [wx]

If a non-vowel syllable nuclei has no onset nor rhyme, it is written as a double letter: compare pf /pf̩/ vs fp /f̩p/ vs ff /f̩/

Vowels

  1. a /ɑ/
  2. á /e/
  3. e /æ/ often realized as [ɛ], because I don't like [æ] ;)
  4. i /i/ except between vowels
  5. o /o/
  6. u /u/
  7. ú /ø/
  8. y /y/ except between consonants
    • w /y/ when between consonants

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