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LotM - Jan 20: Greater Osveraali
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For the first LotM of 2020, we have Hastrica's Greater Osveraali, a CWSP protolanguage spoken on the continent of Atsiq. A huge vowel system, complex verbal morphology and a dictionary full of etymologies to start off the new decade!
This public article was written by Admin Sheep, and last updated on 2 Jan 2020, 14:39.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. Phonology and orthography 2. Morphology and syntax 3. Vocabulary 4. More on Greater Osveraali 5. A Note on Greater Osveraali The new decade starts with a protolanguage, @Hastrica ’s  Greater Osveraali! Spoken by the humanoid Dalar race on the isolated continent of Atsiq about 1700 years before the current time, Greater Osveraali has to offer a complex phonology and grammar as well as a dictionary that is entirely derived from its predecessor, Proto-Osveraali.

[top]Phonology and orthography

The phonology of Greater Osveraali is quite involved, which presents challenges for the orthography as well. The consonant inventory is heavy on velar and uvular consonants, with pairs like /q ɢ/, /χ x/, /ʁ ɣ/ and /ɴ ŋ/, and also includes the glottal stop as a phoneme. The vowels are probably the most complicated part of the language, with seven height and five backness distinctions that additionally include length and rounding. To give an example, all of the back vowels /ɯ u ʊ ɤ o ʌ ɔ ɑ ɒ/ are phonemic, with /ɯ u ɤ o ɑ/ also occurring long. The wealth of vowel phonemes is also leveraged in the morphophonology, with a vowel harmony that covers both rounding and backness but applies only to suffixes, harmonising with the immediately preceding vowel of the stem.

To write all of this, Greater Osveraali makes use of a slew of diacritics. Central to the system is the “deviant rounding” principle, which applies to /i u e o/ and their counterparts /y ɯ œ ɤ/. A vowel takes a rounding diacritic if its rounding does not correspond to what we would ordinarily expect - that is, unrounded for front vowels and rounded for back vowels. Thus, /i/ is written <i>, but /y/ has deviant rounding and gets a dot below, <ị>. /u/ <u> and /ɯ/ <ụ> follow the same principle. If a vowel is long, different diacritics are used.

[top]Morphology and syntax

The morphology of Greater Osveraali has evolved from Proto-Osveraali, which was a strongly left-branching and agglutinating language. Greater Osveraali is considerably more fusional with five nominal declensions that reflect the length of stem vowels in Proto-Osveraali and seven cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, illative, inessive, ablative and oblique) that are mostly formed by suffixes but which may occasionally alter the stem. Nouns also take possessive suffixes that affect their final consonants: mäx “blood”, has mäqə “my blood”.

The verbs conjugate for person, number, tense, aspect and mood - in comparison to its predecessor, aspect is a highly important part of the verbal paradigm and manifests itself in a perfective, imperfective and resultative conjugation. There is also a subjunctive mood that covers wishes, assumptions, orders and hypotheticals. Negation is asymmetric - a negative sentence ignores all tense, mood or aspect marking, and even the direct object of a verb remains in the nominative.

The syntax of Greater Osveraali is that of a left-branching SOV language. Modifiers precede their heads, which also goes for relative clauses (which include a pronoun that picks up the head):

a həņȅm-ə fülm-áj-əǵú to müṭ-üjó
3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
house-ACCAccusative (case)
TRANS direct object; patient
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
adjectival form of a verb
-RESResultative (mood)
occurs as result of another action
.PRSPresent tense (tense) man sleep-IPVUnknown code.PRSPresent tense (tense).3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee

“the man who has bought the house is sleeping”

The real complexity of the syntax lies with adverbial clauses, which are constructed in many different ways, often as objects of verbs. For example, instead of saying “he left because he was hungry”, Greater Osveraali would say “his being hungry brought his leaving” or “he hungered into his leaving”:

ņiańəx-a a-s ÿḍàw-ájár-aw-ó
be_hungry-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.PFVPerfective (aspect)
completed action
.PSTPast (tense)
action occurred before moment of speech
3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
-GENGenitive (case)
adjectival form of a verb
.PRSPresent tense (tense).PFVPerfective (aspect)
completed action
-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.POSSPossessive (case)
owns, has
-ILLIllative (case)


Greater Osveraali is not a standalone language but part of the Osveraali family, and so its dictionary consists both of inherited and newly coined words, all with their own etymologies. There are numerous derivational morphemes, often created from independent proto-words, like *-čai, which forms agent nouns from verbs and comes from *čÿjəǵ “he who brings”. Especially important are the serial verbs, where two or more verbs are joined and one modifies the other or gives a new shade of meaning to it: mïfà-fülmai “convey” (take-trade), ņóa-ʒəfài “whisper” (speak-breathe).

[top]More on Greater Osveraali

That wraps up our tour of Greater Osveraali ! There's always more to explore, so check out the LexiBuild sets, translations, grammar tables and the grammar doc!

[top]A Note on Greater Osveraali

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Greater Osveraali 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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