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LotM - Aug 19: Xhorial
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August's Language of the Month is the incredible Xhorial! Packed with rare consonants and a quirky grammar, it's one of the most often nominated and most unique Languages of the Month ever!
This public article was written by [Deactivated User] on 4 Aug 2019, 05:28.

[comments] Menu 1. Phonology 2. Morphology and syntax 3. More on Xhorial 4. A Note on Xhorial It's August and our Language of the Month is the incredible  Xhorial! Packed with clicks and other rare consonants, as well as many fascinating grammatical quirks, Xhorial is a member of the Xhovian language family of Central Baredina on Sahar. It's one of the most nominated languages for LotM ever, and one of the most unique on Sahar or CWS! Read on to learn all about it!


Let's start with Xhorial's vowel inventory, one of the simplest things about the language. There are 5 vowel qualities, /i u ɛ o a/. With the exception of /i/, which only appears as an oral vowel, each of these may occur either oral or nasalized. In addition to vowels, several consonants can serve as syllable nuclei.

Xhorial's stop inventory is also pretty reasonable. There is a 3-way distinction between voiced, aspirated voiceless, and ejective consonants, similar to Georgian. This includes bilabial, alveolar, and velar stops. Additionally, there is a sole uvular ejective, also much like Georgian. In certain scenarios, the voiced stops can appear as implosive allophones. The sonorants are also relatively normal, including approximants /l j w/ and nasals /m n ŋ/, of which /l n/ and allophonically /ŋ/ can be syllable nuclei. Each of the nasals also has a voiceless counterpart.

The normalcy stops abruptly as soon as we get to the fricative and affricate inventory.

There are 4 voiced/voiceless pairs of fricatives: labiodental, alveolar, postalveolar, and uvular. Additionally, there is a sole voiceless palatal fricative, /ç/, and a sole lateral fricative /ɬ/, with a voiced allophone. The fricatives /f s ʃ/, and as allophones of /i/, [v z ʒ], can be syllable nuclei, as can the velar fricatives [x ɣ] (which only occur as allophones of nuclear /s/!).

There are 3 allophonic "ordinary" affricates, /t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃʰ q͡χʼ/. Added to that are 4 lateral affricates, including a voiced/voiceless aspirated/ejective trio of palatal lateral affricates, and a single tenuis velar lateral affricate. Each of these has a non-lateral allophone, which replaces the lateral component with a central fricative.

Dorsal lateral affricates are not where the fun stops! Xhorial's final consonant series are its clicks. There are three kinds of front closures (dental, lateral alveolar, and alveolar), three phonations (tenuis, breathy voiced, and aspirated), and six kinds of clusters with uvulars (/qʰ qʼ χʰ χʼ ɢ ʁ/), adding up to a massive twenty-seven different click phonemes. Herein ends our tour of the extravagant Xhorial phonology!

[top]Morphology and syntax

Xhorial is a predominantly analytic language. Unusually, its default word order is OVS. Verbs inflect for 1st/2nd/3rd person, without any inflection for number. In fact, grammatical number is not marked anywhere in the language, even on nouns. Xhorial doesn't even have independent personal pronouns. In constructions that would involve multiple pronouns, such as "I see you," Xhorial actually uses a passive (using the copula as a passive auxiliary), as in Sfo tivozdį /ʃfo tʼs̩vosdn̩/ be.1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I
see[NPSTNon-past (tense)
present, continuous and future
]-2Second person (person)
addressee (you)

Verbs also inflect for tense (past/non-past), but other information, including mood, aspect, polarity, and voice, is indicated by auxiliary particles. For example, the following sentence uses negative and imperative auxiliaries:

Gù xhe thosdį ksu!
/gl̩ q͡ʀ̥ɛ t͡r̥oʃdn̩ kʼɬf̩/
that NEGNegative (polarity)
eat[NPSTNon-past (tense)
present, continuous and future
]-2Second person (person)
addressee (you)
IMPImperative (mood)

Don't eat that!

Depending on the auxiliary, these particles either occupy the sentence-final position or immediately precede the verb. The negative particle, xhe, is unique in that it can occupy either of those positions.

Xhorial verbs have one more quirk for us to discover: separable verbs. Some verbs in Xhorial are formed from a simple verb and a preposition. An example of this is tospoz "go (somewhere)", from vok "exist" and poz "to." In a sentence that uses the preposition, the simple form of the verb tos would be used, instead of tospoz, e.g.:

Poz Leligw tosof
/pʼos lɛlz̩ʁ vokʼof/
to Lelig be[NPSTNon-past (tense)
present, continuous and future
]-1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I

"I went to Lelig"
not *Poz Leligw tospozof

However, in a relative clause, or in non-finite forms, the compound form of the verb is used, for example:

Ghozthį xhi choľho pso tospozchosof
/ʒost͡r̥n̩ q͡ʀ̥s̩ c͡ʎ̝̊ʰoǁʰo pʼɬo tʼoʃpʼosc͡ʎ̝̊ʰoɬof/
sacred be.3Third person (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
[NPSTNon-past (tense)
present, continuous and future
] temple RELRelative go-PSTPast (tense)
action occurred before moment of speech
-1First person (person)
speaker, signer, etc; I

The temple to which I went is sacred.

Wrapping up our tour of morphology, there is also some derivational morphology in Xhorial, although most of it is no longer productive. The -ne and -zo suffixes, indicating action nominals and agents, respectively, are the most productive derivational morphemes in the language.

[top]More on Xhorial

That wraps up our tour of Xhorial! There's always more to read, so check out Xhorial's LexiBuild sets and translations!

[top]A Note on Xhorial

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Xhorial that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (protondonor, Hastrica) 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!
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