For March 2020, congratulations to litrobotix for Hadraic, a Semitic a posteriori with an impressive, meticulously derived vocabulary. Read about its sophisticated morphology, complicated spelling and many dialects!
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 10 Mar 2020, 16:14.
Hadraic phonology is typical of what you would expect from a close relative of Arabic. The vowel system is small, with only /a i u/ and their long variants. The semivowels /j/ and /w/ combine with /a/ to form the diphthongs /ai/ /au/, which monophthongise to /e o/ in at least one dialect. Unlike Arabic, Hadraic has schwa as a phonemic vowel, complicating the usual vowel-unfriendly spelling conventions of the Arabic script by a fair bit.
As for the consonants, Hadraic has reduced the Semitic emphatic consonant inventory to just /tˤ/ and /sˤ/, but retains other distinctions like /k/ - /q/, /x/ - /ħ/ and /ɣ/ - /ʕ/ that give it the right Semitic feel. Consonants, like vowels, distinguish length. The glottal stop is phonemic, as is the distinction between /p/ and /b/ - the latter another feature that distinguishes Hadraic phonology from Arabic.
Hadraic is written in the Arabic abjad and follows its conventions of omitting short vowels. While /a i u/ can be supplied by the well-known Arabic diacritics, schwa is out of luck - it is never written and must always be inferred.
Hadraic grammar is built around the Semitic root-template system, where a fixed combination of consonants (usually three, but sometimes four or two) is associated with a certain meaning, and filling vowels into this consonant skeleton serves the purpose of inflection and derivation, together with adding affixes and changing consonant quality. For example, the root LMZ roughly means “learn, study”, whence the verb lamzә “to learn” or the nouns limāz “textbook” and lәmmūz “knowledge”, all three of which make use of specific vowel ingredients to cook up a verb, instrument or abstract noun, in this case.
Hadraic nouns do not have grammatical gender, which is atypical for Semitic, but retain biological gender, which is however not marked and only shows up in the pronominal system. Their number inflection is complex, with singular, dual and plural as well as a singulative form that is used to indicate a single, clearly defined part of a mass noun, much like English “milk” vs. “a glass of milk”. Like Arabic, Hadraic has so-called broken plurals, which are not formed by way of a suffix but through changes in the noun’s vowels while keeping the root consonants intact. Nouns are also marked for case (nominative vs. oblique) and definiteness with definite nouns accompanied by an article while indefinite nouns appear without one. To form complex noun phrases, Hadraic uses not a genitive case on the possessor but a strategy called construct state (CNS), where it is the possessed noun that gets the marker:
name-CNSConstruct state noun being possessed.SGSingular (number) one countable entity bird-1PFirst person plural (person) we (inclusive or exclusive).GENGenitive (case) possessive
“the name of our bird”
Verbs, like nouns, show internal inflection by messing with the vowel and consonant qualities, deriving a number of stems that cover various grammatical categories such as aspect, mood, stativeness and finiteness. Hadraic verbs do not inflect for tense but for aspect, with a perfective and imperfective stem. There are two verb classes, i-verbs and u-verbs, with the distribution of verbs unpredictable.
Verbs inflect by prefixing the subject markers and suffixing the object markers, although some subject affixes like the second masculine plural are circumfixes that then precede the object suffixes. The verb affixes are similar to the pronouns and behave like them when it comes to gender agreement, which - as nouns do not have grammatical gender - is entirely based on natural gender, with biologically female nouns such as “girl” taking feminine affixes and everything else masculine ones.
As an example of how inflecting a Hadraic verb looks, take the abovementioned lamzә “to learn” (u-class), which can be put into the imperfective by using the pattern CaC̄u/i(C), giving us lammuz. To arrive at a finite form like “we learn it”, we prefix the first person singular subject na and suffix the masculine third person singular u, ending up with nalammuzu, or نَلَمُّزُ/ نلمز in Hadraic.
Hadraic is an a posteriori integrated into the Semitic family. Every single word is meticulously derived from Proto-Semitic or borrowed from neighbouring languages, like Arabic and Syriac, and all of this information can be found in the language’s CWS dictionary. Geographically, Hadraic speakers live in the very south of Saudi Arabia and in northeast Yemen. There are several dialects, one of which (Najrani) has its own article already.
Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Hadraic that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot me (@[Deactivated User]) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. 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!
the choice of not including including grammatical gender is pretty interesting, i was thinking of making a
simplified semitic conlang based on neo-assyrian with Arabic and hebrew influence, thanks for the idea :)