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LotM - Dec 15: Nióruais
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As 2015 comes to a close, we present our 17th LotM: Nióruais! Behold a language spoken on an alternate Earth by a vast majority of its population.
This public article was written by Admin Sheep, and last updated on 29 May 2016, 16:58.

[comments] [history] Menu
1. Nióruais
2. Phonology and Orthography
3. Morphology
4. Philology
5. More on Nióruais
6. A Note on LotM

[top]Nióruais

Congratulations to @Ultimate Ridley and his language  Nióruais, winner of the 17th LotM. Nióruais (natively Nhoirche [ˈɲɔːɹk͡xəː]) is a Celtic language that is spoken by several millions of people on an alternate Earth.

[top]Phonology and Orthography

Much like Irish, Nióruais has a hefty number of phonemes and a complex orthography to go with it - plus rules governing palatalization and other phonological processes. The product of this complexity is a gorgeous orthography that takes some practice to use; or as @Ultimate Ridley has mentioned, just memorize it.

Consonants are abundant; I'll just get to to listing and commenting on them.

  • Nasals: /m mʷ n ɲ ŋ/; Isn't /mʷ/ just fun? You'd think it's labialized enough - but you were wrong.
  • Stops: /p b t d k g ʔ/; Nothing too crazy; though this is nice. Considering the large amount of phonemes, it's rather nice to see a familiar set of stops that aren't too intimidating to work with. /ʔ/ is a nice touch to pop us out of it looking too IE.
  • Fricatives: /ɸ f v ð s z ʃ ɣ h/; What is this asymmetric madness? /ð/ without /θ/? /ɣ/ without /x/? CONTRASTIVE /ɸ f/?!
  • Affricates: /t͡s t͡ʃ k͡x/; Oh. There's /x/. Being sneaky there, hiding in the affricate pile.
  • The other stuff: /l ʟ ɹ r j w/; Really, a uvular lateral? Two rhotics? Go home, Nióruais. You're drunk.


Vowels, if anything, are all over the place. It's like Norwegian went in and emptied its pockets into Irish - which is exactly what was intended, since Nióruais is described as a heavily Nordic-influenced Celtic language. Here's the full kit and kaboodle:

  • /i u ɪ e ø o ə ɛ ʌ ɔ æ a ɑ/


That's right. Thirteen phonemic vowels. And there are still the diphthongs /wə jə ju wɪ/.

The orthography of Nióruais is organized chaos, yet somehow beautiful. Frankly, I could try to sum it up, but that would leaving gaping holes in the whole thing and I'm just too lazy to even try. Instead, read this lovely article already written up about the whole thing. I promise, it makes more sense than I ever will.

[top]Morphology

Nióruais is luckily a bit less confusing when it comes to its inflections, though mind you, it still isn't just plug and play.

Nouns and (thankfully) undeclined and only come in singular and plural varieties. How do you pluralize a Nióruais noun, you ask? Don't. Just don't. The rules behind plurals are insane. Check out the grammar table for plural nouns and click the refresh button a few times to get an idea of how much plural forms vary.

Verbs do not conjugate for person or number; instead, it's just a change for tense, mood, and aspect. They can also be predictably derived for verbal nouns and adjectival forms. The whole conjugation process involves large amounts of lenition for various consonants within the verbs, not just the initial one. You can check out a typical Nióruais verbal paradigm here.

[top]Philology

As mentioned before, Nióruais is a Celtic language. It is a member of the Goidelic group of languages, along with the natlangs Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic. Aside from existing on an alternate Earth timeline, Nióruais is distinguished from its non-fictional relatives by its heavy influence of Norse throughout its history.

[top]More on Nióruais

Crave more? Check out its grammar tables, translations, LexiBuild sets, or Namebase.

[top]A Note on LotM

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Nióruais that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Hate my guts and want to tell me? Feel free to shoot us (either phi2dao or argyle) a PM with your thoughts, suggestions, and hate mail. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!
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