Korlsan has a moderately small consonant inventory, which distinguishes between palatoalveolar and alveolopalatal fricatives, similar to Mandarin. There is a voicing distinction in plosives, which is neutralized at the end of words, and the plosives are unreleased, much like syllable codas in Cantonese. Like many East Asian languages, there is only one phonemic liquid, /l/. However, the alveolar nasal /n/ can also surface as [ɾ]. Most unusually, the glottal stop surfaces as [j] at the beginning of a word.
The vowel inventory is much more complex, featuring a distinction between compressed and rounded /u/, and two diphthongs which alternate with monophthongs. Specifically, /ʌ/ surfaces as [io] when stressed, and /eu/ can surface as either [y] or [ʊ]. There is a third diphthong /eɪ/, and a large number of combinations between glides and vowels, such as /jɛ/, /jɔ/, /jʌ/, /wi/, and /wu/.
Korlsan has an orthography based on Hanzi, Katakana, and Hiragana. However, the kana and hanzi characters are creatively repurposed to form an alphabetic script, where each kana or hanzi stands for an individual phoneme or diphthong.
Korlsan is an agglutinative language with an overall head-final word order, including SOV clause order and adjectives preceding the noun. Relative clauses precede the noun and use an adjectival/verbal strategy, with gapping used instead of a relative pronoun. There are no case distinctions in nouns or pronouns, so word order and context go a long way in determining syntactic relations. Much like the East Asian languages that inspired it, Korlsan does not make use of grammatical gender or animacy, and it also does not use definite articles, but it does have an indefinite article, -o. Verbs agree with the subject and can use the active, passive, applicative, and causative voices, as well as either the present or past tense. Finally, the structure of subordinate clauses deserves a mention. In Korlsan, all actions within a sentence must be described in chronological order, which determines how subordinate clauses are arranged.
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