Ithkuil: A Philosophical Design for a Hypothetical Language




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  3 Basic Morphology 7 Suffixes 11 The Writing System Texts


Updates / News

Supplement to Lexicon (updated March 27, 2015)

Ithkuil Grammar Book Errata

December 15, 2019

Over the last 18 months or so, having placed the Kaduatán music project on indefinite hiatus, I have been working fervently on yet another revision of Ithkuil. While I had stated (and assumed) that the 2011 version would be the final version, I did not anticipate so many people would take the time to study the language closely enough to craft their own translations. Many of these “ithkuilophiles” began noticing certain ambiguities and other difficulties when working with the language, and, in various online forums, offered suggestions for changes or improvements.

Motivated by their zeal, and having taken an interest myself in seeing whether their suggestions could be made to work, I began work on the revision and soon found myself coming up with new ideas of my own (after all these decades working on the language!), alongside the fan’s ideas. I have now made sufficient progress on this revision to be able to say that the forthcoming revision of the language will be an even more radical redesign compared to the 2011 version than the 2011 version was to the original 2004 version. It will also be much more systematically structured and transparent in terms of morphology and morpho-phonology than the current 2011 version.

I am tentatively naming the forthcoming revision Ithkuil 4 for now (I’m counting the failed Ilaksh language as version 2), but may yet change my mind and call it New Ithkuil or Neo-Ithkuil. We’ll see.

I still have a lot of work still to do (at least a couple of years’ worth, maybe more), especially on the lexicon (which has been redesigned as well). When the language is ready, I will be publishing it here on the website and withdrawing the 2011 version.

August 6, 2018

The fifth music video from KADUATÁN is now on YouTube. The song is entitled Ôrödyagzou, "Synaesthesia". The lyrics to this song were written directly in Ithkuil, i.e., not translated from another source language. The lyrics with English translation can be found on the Texts page of this website. The YouTube link is below:

KADUATÁN – Ôrödyagzou

March 23, 2017

The fourth music video from KADUATÁN is now on YouTube. The song is entitled Kšêlmaštöö, "The Clown Song". This one is actually a new arrangement of an oldie written by my brother Paul back in the early nineties, to which I've written new lyrics indulging my warped fascination with clowns (coulrophobes might want to listen to the audio only!). I have added the Ithkuil lyrics with English translation to the Texts page of this website. The YouTube link is below:

KADUATÁN – Kšêlmaštöö

July 21, 2016

The third music video from KADUATÁN is now on YouTube. The song is entitled Îndarna, which I have translated as "Silent Questions" (literally a set of varied questions one asks oneself silently in one's mind). Still progressive-rock, but this one is a lot more influenced by pop and world music than the previous two songs. I have added the Ithkuil lyrics with English translation to the Texts page of this website. The YouTube link is below:

KADUATÁN – Îndarna

June 11, 2016

For those interested, I have recorded a completely remastered and remixed version of the first KADUATÁN song Ozkavarkúi. I took the liberty of punching up the rhythm section a bit, correcting a few mistakes, changing a few notes, and doing some minor pitch-correction on the vocals. So hopefully it sounds a little better now. The YouTube link is below:

KADUATÁN – Ozkavarkúi (2016 remastered & remixed version)

Also, I'll be posting a video for a new Kaduatán song sometime in early to mid July. Stay tuned!

February 4, 2016

I am pleased to announce that the video to a second KADUATÁN song is now available on YouTube. The song is called "Uňk’àtân" ("Renegades") and again features my friend David J. Peterson on lead vocals (thanks, Dave!). The lyrics to this song were originally composed by my brother Paul in English, which I subsequently translated into Ithkuil. The lyrics with translation are now available on the Texts page of this website. The link to the video is below.

KADUATÁN – Uňk’àtân

January 29, 2016

CORRECTION TO NEWS UPDATE OF MAY 25, 2015: The list of reassigned values to the elements of Table 52 contained errors. I have now corrected the listing under the May 25, 2015 post. Additionally, the character extension in Table 51 for the combination of ž + C is no longer valid. The character extension for the value ž + C will now be shown by the value in Table 52 previously assigned to C + v.

ALSO: I have created two new suffixes to deal with the issue of semantic frames. Here is a discussion of this topic and the details of the two new suffixes.

July 11, 2015

I am pleased to announce that, after a year and a half of work and numerous delays, my music project Kaduatán has borne fruit. The first song is now available for your enjoyment on YouTube as a preview of the forthcoming album. The song is called “Ozkavarkúi” (“Guessing Games”). As mentioned in an earlier update, the lyrics with morphological analysis are available on the Texts page of this website. (Note: I have updated the lyrics and analysis to correct a few mistakes/omissions and to match changes in the song structure since the lyrics were first written.)

I’d like to thank my friend and conlanging colleague David J. Peterson for supplying the lead vocals on the track. (For those unaware, David is the creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones television series, as well as the various alien languages spoken on the Syfy network’s Defiance series). Thanks, Dave!

So for those of you interested in hearing Dave sing in Ithkuil, or who simply enjoy progressive-rock music, the link is below. Enjoy!

KADUATÁN – Ozkavarkúi (NOTE: The link has now been updated to the remixed version.)

May 25, 2015

I have finally determined a way to address the issue regarding ambiguous consonantal combinations in the Ithkuil writing system, specifically how to distinguish combinations such as -pg- from -bg-, -kt- from -gt-, etc. when writing the Cr root.

In analyzing the script, I realize that the character extension elements shown in Table 52 (in Section of the Grammar) are redundant, given that they can be much more easily shown using the subscript diacritics shown in Table 53. The original intent of these Table 53 diacritics was that they be used only for tri-consonantal and tetra-consonantal roots, I realize there’s no reason not to use them in biconsonantal roots as well, which then obviates the need for the character extensions shown in Table 52. By rendering these Table 52 extensions redundant, it makes them available for use to disambiguate the k/g, p/b, t/d problem.

Therefore, the Table 52 elements are hereby reassigned to indicate the following values [THE LIST BELOW WAS CORRECTED ON JAN 29, 2016]:

The extension previously indicating C + w will now indicate b + C

The extension previously indicating C + y will no longer be used

The extension previously indicating C + l will now indicate d + C

The extension previously indicating C + r will now indicate g + C

The extension previously indicating C + ř will now indicate ż + C

The extension previously indicating C + m will now indicate j + C

The extension previously indicating C + n will now indicate dh + C

The extension previously indicating C + v will now indicate ž + C and the extension shown in Table 51 for ž + C will no longer be used

The extension previously indicating C + ň will no longer be used

As a result of the above, those character extension elements in Table 51 of the grammar which currently indicate dual/alternate values will now only be used to indicate their primary value.

Note that, using the subscript diacritics in lieu of the now-obsolete values of the Table 52 character extension elements, might at first glance give rise to ambiguities. For example does the consonantal character for /s/ plus an extension indicating prefixed /k/- plus a subscript diacritic indicating +/n/ mean -KNS- or -KSN-? However, no ambiguity exists, as -KNS- is not a valid combination for a Cr root. So when interpreting how to read such combinations, the reader must bear in mind Ithkuil phonotactical constraints.

Note also that, with the above changes, quite a number of the existing examples of Ithkuil script throughout the Ithkuil website and grammar book are now unfortunately erroneous. I will correct these errors when I (eventually) publish the revised website and grammar book.

March 27, 2015

OK, at long last, here is how Ithkuil handles mathematical expressions and units of measurement.

I have also added twenty-one new roots to the Lexicon Supplement at the link above and to the right.

January 10, 2015

An astute reader on the Ithkuil subreddit has determined that the "flaw" I describe in Item One of my November 15, 2014 posting below is, in fact, not a flaw at all. It turns out I already address the potential ambiguity of Slot I of the formative by unequivocally stating in Table 3 of Section 2.1.1 that the presence of Cv in Slot I requires that Slot III be filled by Cs, not Cg. So it looks like Slot I is back in business.

Also, an update on the music situation: I've now completed recording the music for two of the six songs and have them ready as draft instrumental mixes. They will not be turned into final mixes until the vocals have been recorded, which should be sometime in the next couple of months in my musician friend's studio. I'm anxious to start recording the third song, but I made a promise to the Ithkuil subreddit group that I'd look into formalizing and improving how Ithkuil handles mathematics, which will be a big distraction for me. Since I'm ahead of schedule on recording the music (I thought I'd only have one song done by now), I think I'll work on the third song for a few weeks, then take a break and work on Ithkuil mathematics.

November 15, 2014

For whatever reason, I woke up this morning with several major flashes of insight regarding Ithkuil, the details of which I’ve spent the entire morning working out. As a result, I am announcing some small but significant structural changes to the grammar. The details are as follows:

ITEM ONE: A flaw discovered in the Morpho-Phonology!

I’ve discovered a flaw in the morpho-phonology involving the Slot I of the formative. I realized that a hypothetical Ithkuil word like skaherad is ambiguous, in that the word could represent either of the following:

sk - a - h - e - r - a – d
(i.e., the following slots filled: I - II - III - IV - VII - VIII - X)

sk - a - he - r - ad
(i.e., the following slots filled: VII - VIII - IX - X - XI)

I’ve traced the ambiguity to the presence of the Cv Phase/Sanction/Illocution affix in Slot I. It has to go. Therefore, I officially announce . . . (drumroll please) . . . that the Cv affix is no longer permissible in Slot I of a formative. It can only appear in Slot V in the absence of an incorporated root. If the formative contains an incorporated root taking up Slots V and VI, then Cv must be shown via Slot C in a verbal adjunct instead.

This essentially means that Slot I no longer exists, which would entail renumbering all the subsequent slots accordingly (e.g., Slot II becomes Slot I, Slot III becomes Slot II, etc.). However, given the confusion this would cause to those persons who have spent significant time learning the slot structure and its labels (yours truly included), we will simply consider Slot I to be “vacant” or “dormant” for now, eh?

ITEM TWO: Introducing a new morphological category: Register

The question has been raised here and there on various online fora as to how to deal with direct speech in Ithkuil, as in the sentence ‘She turned to him and said “take care of yourself”’ as opposed to the indirect speech equivalent of ‘She turned and told him to take care of himself.’ I’ve pondered the matter now and again but have never really dealt with it in terms of finding a solution. Suddenly, the answer came to me this morning and now, much to my surprise, I am introducing a brand new morphological category, which for lack of a better term, I shall call “Register.” (Like most Ithkuil grammatical terms, I am simply appropriating this nomenclature from existing linguistics terminology, but, as usual, the Ithkuil category has little, if anything, to do with the traditional definition of the term). So, what is this new Register category?

In Ithkuil, the category of Register will indicate intra-sentence or intra-narrative changes in the mode of personal communication from a general narrative to instead indicate either one’s personal cogitation/deliberation, an unwilled or subjective impression, direct speech, or a parenthetical “aside”. Register will be indicated phonologically by tone distinctions. The first word of a phrase carrying a specific register will have one of five tones, and the last word of the phrase carrying that register will have rising tone to indicate termination of the register. Here are the specifics:

Tone marking: falling (default)
Description: The default register, indicating a general narrative statement. Also used for formal narration, as when telling the events a story from an omniscient narrator’s perspective.

Tone marking: high
Description: Indicates a phrase/statement represents direct speech, as in ‘His wife turned to him and said “You’ve forgotten your hat.”’

Tone marking: low
Description: Indicates a phrase/statement is a parenthetical aside, or the equivalent to an in-line footnote, as in ‘All equine species in Eurasia (we needn’t bother with those in the Americas) can be shown to be quadrupeds,’ or ‘I generally prefer coffee to tea on summer afternoons – over ice, of course – but sometimes only a beer will do, ’ or ‘That artist’s landscapes (you should see his portraits!) are simply sublime.’

Tone marking: falling-rising
Description: Indicates a phrase/statement represents silent thoughts or beliefs. Equivalent to various devices in natural languages for indicating silent thoughts/beliefs within a narrative, as in the use of italics within a written paragraph, or the sudden interjection of a character’s disembodied voice on the soundtrack of a film/video while the character visually doesn’t open their mouth.

Tone marking: rising-falling
Description: I ndicates a phrase/statement represents the imagination, subjective impressions, or unwilled “wandering” thoughts of the party being referenced in the phrase/statement. Equivalent in natural languages to a narrator suddenly interjecting a subjective description within a statement, as in ‘The little girl ran down the hillside, a feeling of joy in her heart, then leaped into the arms of her father.’

NOTE: Since it is not possible for an Ithkuil word to carry more than one morphologically significant tone (see Sec. 1.3.2), if a non-default register (i.e., a register other than NAR) is to be applied to a single word only, this is indicated by the fact that there will be no subsequent indication that the Register has terminated, i.e., there will be no subsequent word carrying rising tone prior to the end of the sentence or prior to a new/subsequent change to a non-NARRATIVE register. It is this absence of the register-termination tone marker that retrospectively indicates that only the initial word of the previous non-NARRATIVE utterance/statement carried that particular register.

ITEM THREE: Changes in how the categories of Version and Validation are phonologically marked.

As a result of using tone to mark the new category of Register described above, the existing phonological markers for the category of Version (see Sec. 5.8) will have to be changed from tone to something else. In reviewing the possibilities, I have decided to change the markings for both the category of Version and the category of Validation (see Sec. 5.9) as well. These changes will entail the creation of a new Hearsay suffix, as well as a revamping of the existing SCS suffix. The details are as follows:

Both Version and Validation will be primarily shown via a consonantal affix in Slot III. The affix for Validation will continue to be labelled Cg and will have priority over affixes showing Version. The Version affix will be arbitrarily labelled Cn. If Slot III is already occupied by Cg, then Version must be shown by the SCS suffix (-rk/kr-) in Slot XI. The SCS suffix has been re-formulated to accommodate all six Versions.

The Cn Version affix in Slot III can only appear if the formative’s Validation is in its default value CNF-Confirmative. Conversely, the default Version, PRC-Processual is now completely unmarked, so that if a formative has both default CNF Validation and default PRC Version, it will be the CNF Validation that will occupy Slot III if required by the presence of a Valence affix in Slot II.

The number of Cg Validations is being reduced from fourteen to six. This is because the existing nine hearsay values are being collapsed into a single value; the Ithkuil speaker/writer will instead now have to option to specify the exact nature of the hearsay via a new Hearsay suffix in Slot XI. The six values for Validation are now as follows:

Cg affix: glottal stop + h
NOTE: CNF Validation is normally unmarked; this suffix only appears if a Valence prefix occupies Slot II of the formative. Also: this suffix is supplanted by any non-default Cn Version affix.

Cg affix: glottal stop + y

Cg affix: w-

Cg affix: glottal stop + w

Cg affix: hh-

Cg affix: y-
NOTE: This is the new affix that collapses the previous nine hearsay Validations into one. If exact specification of the hearsay source is desired, a new HSY-Hearsay VxC suffix is available for use in Slot XI. If this HSY suffix is employed, then use of the PSM Cg affix in Slot III is optional (i.e., it can be supplanted by a Cn Version affix or Slot III can be left unfilled if there is no Valence affix in Slot II).

The new HSY Hearsay suffix is -ňţ. Its nine degrees match the previous nine hearsay Validations shown in Table 13(b) in Sec. 5.9.

The six new Cn Version affixes for Slot III are as follows:


Cn affix: -h-

Cn affix: -hw-

Cn affix: -hm-

Cn affix: -hn-

Cn affix: -hr-

If necessary to show Version using the SCS suffix because of the presence of Cg, the new values of the SCS suffix are as follows:

SCS -rk / -kr Degree of Success/Failure
1. total failure in; utterly fail to
2. INC version
3. INE version
4. certain to fail in, expected to fail in; anticipated/expected failure to
5. CPT version
6. certain to succeed in, expected to succeed in; anticipated/expected success in
7. PST version
8. EFC version
9. overwhelming success in; overwhelmingly successful

ITEM FOUR: Availability of new roots

As a result of the changes above to permissible values in Slot III, the number of impermissible Cr root forms as stated in Table 3 (in Sec. 2.1.1) and in Sec. 2.2.1 is now reduced from fourteen to eight. The remaining prohibited root forms are -w-, -y-, -h-, -hw-, -hr-, -hh-, -hn-, -hm-.

ITEM FIVE: Correction of Rule in Sec. 5.5

In Sec. 5.5, just above Table 11, there is a note indicating two methods by which one disambiguates (or correctly parses) the structure of a formative when Slots V and VI are filled. I have now realized the information given is overly complicated and not entirely correct. Specifically, the second note regarding use of the Slot IX infix -wë- in the presence of an incorporated root in Slots V and VI is both unnecessary and incorrect. Any incorporated root already mandatorily requires the presence of a Format/Context affix in Slot XII, so there is no need for any other means of indicating the function of Slots V and VI in that situation. It is also incorrect because the infix -wë- can also be used to increase the number of syllables in the word if necessary for purposes of applying antepenultimate or pre-antepenultimate stress (see the paragraph below Table 10 in Sec. 5.4.1).

As a result, the only rule needed is for when Slots V and VI are occupied by the Cv Phase/Sanction/Illocution affix and the VL Valence affix. Specifically, the note above Table 11 in Sec. 5.5 should be simplified and corrected to say that a glottal stop is required immediately following the Vr affix in Slot IV whenever Slots V and VI are filled by the Cv and the VL valence affix. No such glottal stop is required if Slots V and VI are occupied by an incorporated root Cx+Vp.

I will eventually incorporate all of the above changes into the forthcoming Grammar Supplement.

p.s. Work proceeds smoothly but slowly on the music production.

August 25, 2014

I have decided to post the lyrics to the last of the songs I composed, the one entitled "Synaesthesia." Rather than translate lines already written in English, this time I composed the lyrics directly in Ithkuil, which resulted in some very rich imagery and use of the language to its fullest extent. Furthermore, I was able to work out a (more-or-less) tetrameter verse for the English translation. I've yet to add a morphological analysis, but I'm posting the lyrics anyway for those who may have an interest in working out the morphology for themselves. The lyrics can be found in the Ithkuil Poetry section of the "Texts" page.

These new lyrics utilize some new roots, which I have now added to the Lexicon Supplement whose link is above to the right.

August 24, 2014

I will be at the Institute Library in New Haven, CT on Tuesday evening, September 9th, as the guest of honor at their Amateur Hour No. 14 event. It will be an hour-long free-wheeling conversation with Joshua Foer about Ithkuil and invented languages in general. Joshua is the co-founder of the Amateur Hour series and the author of the now-infamous New Yorker magazine article about my work.

July 11, 2014

I’ve completed all my song lyrics and production of the actual songs is underway (slowly). Producing these songs is going to take many months, maybe even a year, so I’ve decided that once the first song is done, I will release it as an mp3 download (maybe even a YouTube video?) as a “teaser” for the rest of the album. At any rate, since it’s going to be a while before anyone hears any music, I’ve decided to release the completed lyrics to the first song in their entirety for those of you interested in analyzing a new (and significant) corpus of Ithkuil-language material. The lyrics (including morphological analysis) are now available on the Texts page of this website, under the Ithkuil Poetry link.

July 10, 2014

Here is a list of seven new suffixes. I will be including them in the forthcoming Grammar Supplement, but I thought I'd list them separately for those who may be curious.

Also, while we're on the topic of suffixes, I should make it clear that suffixes beginning with –l or –r can reverse their consonants for the sake of euphony if followed by a vowel (e.g., –rk can become –kr). While this is explicitly shown in the existing grammar for some such suffixes, for others it is not. Nevertheless, this reversal of consonants is applicable to any suffix beginning with –l or –r.

June 21, 2014

I’ve now finished the lyrics to five of the six songs of my music project. Yesterday I sat down to begin writing the lyrics to the sixth and final song and I found myself thinking about my visit with the psychoneticists in Kiev, Ukraine, back in 2011. While there, I was asked to create an Ithkuil word for “synaesthesia.” Belatedly, I have done so and have decided to use it as the title of the song.

In researching the exact meaning of the word, I discovered that many scholars studying the phenomenon consider the word inappropriate and would prefer the term “ideaesthesia”, as the nature of synaesthesia does not really involve the mind translating one sense impression into another, but rather translating thoughts/ideas/concepts into sense impressions. Therefore, the Ithkuil word is ôrödyagzou, which literally translates as something like “the concept (and wondrous experience thereof) of varied sets of sense impressions resulting from concurrent ideas/thoughts being considered”.

The concept appears in the song lyrics contained within some very interesting (and powerful) words such as the one below:



The literal translation of the above word is something like: “If there could be an act of embodiment of a new and wondrous synergistic expansion of synaesthesia”, which I will word more naturally (for the eventual lyric sheet) as:

‘If one could embody an emergence of new synaesthesia’

The interesting thing about this sixth song, is that this is the first of the songs where I am deliberately composing the words without regard for how they fit into the music, as I’ve already decided that the existing music for this song does not match the subject matter of the lyrics at all.

I have therefore decided to shelve the music I wrote for this song and will be composing new music later to go with the lyrics after I’ve finished them. This is the reverse of how the other five songs have been written and should prove an interesting experiment. I have a feeling that, as a result, the song may end up sounding rather different than the other five.

June 17, 2014

I've now corrected a few errors and redundancies in the recently updated Lexicon Supplement and have added additional roots for a total of 75 roots and their stems.

June 10, 2014

I've updated the Lexicon Supplement (link is above right) with 26 new roots and their stems.

June 9, 2014

I have now completed lyrics to four of the six songs. I’ve written further about the experience in a couple of posts on the Ithkuil subreddit for those interested (and have also provided a glimpse at more of the lyrics). At any rate, working with the language again after more than a two-year hiatus, I have discovered a few aspects of grammar that need, ahem, improvement, as well as an error.

First of all, the example sentence at the end of Sec. 8.1.4 in the Grammar, illustrating use of the switch-reference suffix, has an error in it. The fourth word should be èkšülöt’ (not ekšüléňţ) and the morphological analysis below the sentence should show the suffix on this word as TPF1/2, not TPF1/3.

More importantly:

I’ve decided to augment the Ithkuil grammar to allow case stacking—the ability to assign two cases simultaneously to a formative (or to a case-frame). This is necessary to accurately translate sentences like the following:

‘I jog every day except in case of illness.’ or ‘I jog every day except during (an) illness.’

In Ithkuil, “except (for) X” is expressed by the EXCEPTIVE case (Sec. 4.5.30), while the idea of “in case of X” is expressed by the POSTULATIVE case (Sec. 4.5.28) and “during X” by the CONCURSIVE case (Sec. 4.6.3). So how do we apply two different cases to the formative which translates ‘illness’ when translating the above sentence? Current Ithkuil grammar would require such a sentence to be expressed paraphrastically as something like ‘I jog every day except that I don’t jog during illness.’

To allow for two (or more) cases to be assigned to the same formative (or case-frame), I am now introducing case adjuncts, a new kind of adjunct which signifies the case of the following case-frame (or formative if there is nothing but a formative between the case adjunct and the end of the sentence) which may, in turn have its own separate case. The form of these case adjuncts are based on Table 28 (in Section as follows:

For cases 1 through 48 (as per Table 28), the form of the adjunct is the consonant -w- plus Vc as indicated in Table 28. Alternately, a “full” form is available consisting of the Vc plus the syllable -wa. Examples: wa = OBLIQUE case (or awa), woe = REFERENTIAL case (or oewa), wëu = VOCATIVE case (or ëúwa), etc. Cases where Vc is -û- (i.e., the OGN case) or where Vc is a bisyllabic form beginning with -u- (i.e., the MED, APL, PUR, and CSD cases), must use the full form (in order to avoid phonetically undesirable forms such as or wuo, etc.)

Cases 49 through 96 (as per Table 28) take the same forms except that the consonant -y- is substituted for -w-. Cases where Vc is -î- (i.e., the ELP case) or where Vc is a bisyllabic form beginning with -i- (i.e., the LOC, ORI, PSV, and ALL cases), must use the full form (in order to avoid phonetically undesirable forms such as or yio, etc.)

So now the original English sentence can be translated as follows using the EXCEPTIVE case adjunct ya in conjunction with POSTULATIVE case on the following formative:

Aigwaloekç   tu   żo’aluqh   ya   egloi’löat.
DYN-‘run’-[OBL]-NRM/DEL/M/CSL/UNI-FRC2/4     1m-IND     (STA)-‘day’-ACS-NRM/DEL/M/CSL/UNI-INL1/9
EXC     STA-‘illness’-PTL-NRM/DEL/M/CSL/UNI-ATT/1m
‘I jog every day except in case of illness.’

Additionally, I have decided that the tone of these case adjuncts will be used to indicate which word following the case adjunct constitutes the topic of the following case-frame. Specifically:

falling tone = no specific element topicalized
high tone = the first word following the adjunct is topicalized
rising tone = the second word following the adjunct is topicalized
low tone = the third word following the adjunct is topicalized
rising-falling tone = the fourth word following the adjunct is topicalized
falling-rising tone = the fifth word following the adjunct is topicalized

This new ability to stack cases in Ithkuil also allows for alternative ways to construct case-frames which are potentially more elegant than what Ithkuil grammar previously allowed. For example, note the following English sentence:

‘She looks at the book about rats (that) I captured.’

The Ithkuil translation can be either of the following:

Ixal   qu   ultánļ   çt’oert   ikdai’rt   eçtho.
DYN-‘see’-NRM/DEL/M/CSL/UNI-IFL     3a-IND     STA-‘page.of.writing’-OBL-NRM/DEL/M/SEG/COA-FML

Ixal   qu   ultánļ   íkdoert   to   çt’ertût’.
DYN-‘see’-NRM/DEL/M/CSL/UNI-IFL     3a-IND     STA-‘page.of.writing’-OBL-NRM/DEL/M/SEG/COA-TPF1/3-FML

The first Ithkuil sentence above literally begins with “she looks at the book about rats” followed by a case-frame in CORRELATIVE case (equivalent to a relative clause in English) which states “I captured them.” So literally: ‘She looks at the book about rats that I captured them.’ The extra personal reference adjunct ua/ABS “them” is necessary, otherwise the Ithkuil sentence wouldn’t have a way to indicate that what was captured were the rats.

The second Ithkuil sentence literally states “she looks at the book”, followed by a case-frame in REFERENTIAL case which states “rats (are what) I captured” or alternately “it is rats (that) I captured” where the word “rats” bears a TPF suffix indicating it is the topic of the case-frame. So literally: ‘She looks at the book – it’s about rats (that) I captured.’ Without the TPF suffix on “rats”, the Ithkuil sentence would translate as ‘She looks at the book about me having captured rats’, which does not mean quite the same thing as the original English sentence.

With the new ability to stack cases using case adjuncts, we can render a new translation of the English sentence using the REFERENTIAL case adjunct woe (or oewa) as follows:

Ixal   qu   ultánļ   ¯woe   çt’ert   ikdart   to.
DYN-‘see’-NRM/DEL/M/CSL/UNI-IFL     3a-IND     STA-‘page.of.writing’-OBL-NRM/DEL/M/SEG/COA-FML
REF     (STA)-‘rat’-ABS-NRM/DEL/U/CSL/AGG-IFL     DYN-‘capture’-[OBL]-NRM/DEL/U/CSL/AGG-IFL     1m-ERG
‘She looks at the book about rats (that) I captured.’

Due to the presence of the case adjunct, there is no need to indicate FRAMED relation on the verb ‘capture’. Additionally, by using the case adjunct, it allows us to show ‘rats’ as the topic of the case-frame via tone (high tone indicates the word immediately following the case adjunct is the topic of the case-frame), eliminating the need to use a TPF suffix to indicate the topicalization. Note that use of the case adjunct to mark the beginning of a case frame also eliminates the requirement that case-frames have verb-initial word order, thus allowing pragmatic relations such as semantic focus and topicalization within the case-frame to be shown via word order.

I will be adding this new information on case adjuncts to the forthcoming Grammar Supplement I plan to add to this website before the end of this year.

May 26, 2014

So far I’ve finished writing lyrics for three of the six songs of my music project. One of the three songs is a direct translation from English-language lyrics written by my brother. The other two are original Ithkuil lyrics inspired by thoughts I wrote down in English. It’s been interesting finding ways to translate from an English source within the constraints of the music. It should be noted that I do not consider these lyrics to be poetry per se, as the lines do not follow a strict meter given that many of the syllables are meant to be stretched across two or more beats or multiple notes, or paused for rests in the music, etc. (Being progressive-rock, the fact that the music is often in time signatures such as 5/4, 6/8, and 7/8 doesn’t help either.)

If these were meant to be real poems, I’d demand a strict meter and overt rules for consonantal and vocalic alliteration. Nevertheless, the lyrics do display a fair amount of rhyming on the last syllable of each line as well as a loose internal alliteration. Here is an example (and, no, I haven’t checked it yet for errors so it’s still potentially subject to change):

Oňň   âândairpöt’   îp   ütvaqayûlo
iùlái’št’axta   twiam-mt’uo
enk’alaň   ûkt   ač’át   ţiuteowa
a’tiçpralothukraň   öìçtheya

“However, with this information, there would be this other person who is myself
who might eventually choose to begin saying things I never said,
might steer clear of certain doorways as I did not,
and befriend strangers I’ll never meet”

So far I’ve created half a dozen new roots and three new suffixes while writing the lyrics. [NOTE: the above passage uses two new roots: -TV- ‘one’s “self” (as a metaphorical object of reflection)’, and -ŇK’- ‘make way for / keep clear of’.] After I’m done, I plan to add the new roots to the existing Lexicon Supplement PDF file, and will also be posting a new PDF file called Grammar Supplement where I will be presenting the new suffixes as well as some interesting grammatical innovations I’ve come up with that are not currently discussed in the existing grammar. For example, astute readers will note the word “ţiuteowa” above, a personal reference adjunct meaning “like me” preceded by the DEV/1 affix (reversative “un-”) but in 2nd degree. By using 2nd degree of this affix, I create a short-cut way of saying that the preceding verbal phrase is linked to the reversative reference; thus, the meaning is essentially “unlike what I do/did” or “like the reverse of what I do/did”.

The lyrics also provide a corpus of new Ithkuil example phrases and sentences which further illustrate the various morphological categories of the language. I plan to analyze these examples in the forthcoming Grammar Supplement PDF I will be posting. Again looking at the above stanza, the line “iùlái’št’axta twiam-mt’uo” is a good example of the language’s morpho-semantic efficiency:

iùlái’št’axta   twiam-mt’uo

The phrase fully translates as “who theoretically might eventually go ahead and choose to begin making various statements unsaid before”.

Unfortunately, I find that I have had to sacrifice the representation of stress accent when singing these lyrics. I can’t find a way to consistently place the lyrics I need within the melodies and rhythms I’ve written while preserving proper stress on the syllables. So there are lots of stems with FORMAL designation (requiring word-final stress) which are not stressed on the final syllable, and vice-versa for INFORMAL stems. I’ve decided to rationalize this given that there are plenty of natural languages where stress rules, and even tone requirements (e.g., Mandarin), are dispensed with in singing. I am likewise ignoring morpho-phonological tone in the music as well, but so far there’s only been a few words with non-falling tone, so the impact is not serious.

Anyway, three more songs to write lyrics for....

ALSO: Since I can no longer access the Ithkuil Facebook community, I’ve begun following the Ithkuil reddit community (for those of you familiar with reddit). Mostly I lurk, but do occasionally post answers to questions or comment on interesting threads.

February 7, 2014

I've finished composing the music for my music project. Six songs of progressive rock comprising approximately 70 minutes of music, enough to fill an audio CD. Now comes the hard part, composing the lyrics. Except for the Passover Seder translation last year, I've barely touched or looked at Ithkuil in over two years. Time to dust off my grammar book and notes and put on my conlanger hat. Now what do I want to say in these songs...?

August 16, 2013

I've received a special request to translate into Ithkuil the traditional Question & Answers from the Jewish Passover Seder celebration. I have added the translation to the Texts page of this website. (For those who take the trouble to analyze the translation, you'll find I've utilized two new roots not in the Ithkuil lexicon: -PKY- "grain/grain-based products" and -MSK- "bodily positions/stances (other than upright/supine)."

Also: After a long hiatus of over twenty years, I have begun composing music again (one of my many hobbies) which my brother and I will be realizing electronically using MIDI technology. (For those interested, I compose both progressive rock and world-fusion music.) Anyway, I have decided to compose the lyrics to the new material in Ithkuil in order to force myself to begin exploring Ithkuil "poetry." One might imagine Ithkuil to be incapable of poetry given that most poetry is based in metaphor. But I see Ithkuil's ability to more-or-less transparently provide words for complex thoughts, concepts, and gestalt imagery as being a worthwhile vehicle for exploration. Now I just need to find a vocalist willing and able to sing in the language!

Hopefully this flurry of activity is the beginning of a re-igniting of my interest in working on the language after well over a year's hiatus. We'll see!

April 22, 2013

I will be giving a presentation at the Fifth Language Creation Conference in Austin, Texas on May 4th.

December 27, 2012


Joshua Foer’s New Yorker article about Ithkuil has gone a bit viral in terms of re-postings, links, and blog commentary, so I suppose I should offer a couple of corrections and clarifications:

Beyond getting my age wrong, the article states that I “lurk” on Facebook. This may lead some (i.e., the members of the Ithkuil Facebook community) to believe I am seeing their various comments and postings. I’ve never joined Facebook (and don’t intend to for various reasons) but I used to be able to see entries on the Ithkuil Facebook page and respond as necessary on this Updates page. However, when Facebook changed to its “Timeline” interface, I found I could no longer uncollapse the comment boxes to meaningfully read the various threads. Also, I’m told most of the Facebook commentary now occurs in a “private group,” to which I have no access whatsoever. So, no, I don’t lurk on Facebook because I can’t.

Also: based on various blog comments I’ve read here and there, apparently some readers of the article have gotten the impression that Ithkuil is supposed to represent some sort of “perfect” language (whatever that’s supposed to mean). I certainly don’t subscribe to such a presumptuous notion about my work. Ithkuil is for me nothing more than a private experiment to see the extent to which it might be possible to achieve the design goals mentioned at the beginning of the Introduction page of this website, nothing more. I originally posted it on the internet just to get some feedback from a few fellow conlangers.

Corollary to the above issue, some readers have apparently gotten the idea that Ithkuil is designed to (theoretically) replace natural languages or be used as an international auxiliary language like Esperanto. I address this erroneous notion in the FAQ pages of this website.

Thanks to those who've purchased a copy of the Ithkuil grammar book, and a special thank you to those who've bought a copy of my brother's and my novel.

December 14, 2012


The forthcoming December 24th issue of the New Yorker magazine (available on U.S. newsstands and online Monday, December 17th) contains a feature-length article about me, my development of Ithkuil, and how it led to my amazing adventures in Russia and Ukraine during 2010 and 2011. The article is written by Joshua Foer, author of last year's bestselling book on memory Moonwalking With Einstein, who accompanied me to Kiev, Ukraine last year for four days to meet with the students there who have been studying Ithkuil. The article should be an interesting read!

I have also added a PDF of an Ithkuil translation of Schleicher's Fable to the Texts page. The translation was made last year by Florian Bauer of the Ithkuil Facebook group.

Sept 1, 2012


The hardcopy book version of the Ithkuil Grammar has been revised to incorporate the corrections contained in the "Ithkuil Grammar Book Errata" PDF link above. I will maintain the above link to the PDF file for those persons who already own the previous version of the book.

July 27, 2012


I corrected a few errors to the "Supplement to Lexicon" PDF file at the link above.

July 23, 2012


I have added the above "Supplement to Lexicon" link to a PDF file containing approximately 30 additional lexical roots and their associated stems. I am posting these new roots as a separate PDF so that owners of the hardcopy book can refer to the PDF (or print it out) as a supplement to the book.

July 16, 2012



I have added the above "Ithkuil Grammar Book Errata" link to a PDF file listing the various errata found in the hardcopy book version of the Ithkuil Grammar. I will soon correct the manuscript and re-publish the book with the corrections, however, I will also maintain this PDF of errata for those persons who have previously purchased the book.

November 29, 2011




The passage of Ithkuil script shown on the cover of the Grammar book is meant to be merely decorative, however for those who feel they must figure it out, remember that Ithkuil script is written in boustrophedon mode.

I will be retiring in a few days, and now that the book is out, I will be hanging up my "conlanger" hat for a while to pursue my many other hobbies and interests. I will eventually return to work on the language (maybe in the spring?), as I am still keen on exploring Ithkuil poetry and expanding the lexicon. At any rate, this will likely be the last update for quite a while. Thanks for all the interest shown and best wishes to all.


November 23, 2011




Paul Elaku just advised me that my system for using the SSD suffix with the carrier stem won't work, since it is highly unlikely that a hypothetical Ithkuil listener would be able to aurally parse the foreign words/phrase to know how many words it contains (i.e., s/he would be unable to know where the non-Ithkuil words stop and the words "go back to being Ithkuil words.") Duh! Therefore, I have now modified and simplified the rule in Sec. 9.3.1. Note, also, that it in written Ithkuil, the triple-dot "quotation marks" already indicate the end of the non-Ithkuil word/phrase so it is unnecessary to otherwise represent it in writing. (That's why it was unnecessary to modify the title masthead on these pages to show the SSD suffix.)


November 22, 2011





Amended Section 9.3.1 regarding use of the SSD suffix with the carrier stem to address non-Ithkuil proper nouns, words, or phrases that are more than one word in length.

Added new Section 10.6.4 to address the equivalents to WH-questions.

Added new Sections 6.4.3 and 7.4.15 to the grammar, explaining the expansion of Format to include the ability of an incorporated root to be associated with any of the 72 main noun cases.


November 21, 2011


Made corrections to the interlinear analysis of the Babel Text, as pointed out by Jacob from the Facebook group.

Paul Elaku is inquiring as to how Ithkuil handles WH-questions, e.g., who? what? when? why?, etc. The Ithkuil equivalents are not structured as questions using INTERROGATIVE illocution, but rather as statements using DIRECTIVE illocution. Thus, in Ithkuil, one does not ask "What is your name?" "What time is it?" "Where is the toilet?" "Who is that woman?" "Which clown was caught stealing?" Instead, an Ithkuil speaker would say "Please tell me your name," "Please indicate the time of day," "Indicate the location of the toilet," "Please identify that woman," and "Identify the [individual] clown [from the group of clowns] who was caught stealing."


November 17, 2011



Added the first four sentences of the Babel Text to the Texts page.

Flo Bauer pointed out another error in the first Sec. 5.4.3 example. Somehow the first case-frame was in PURPOSIVE case instead of POSTCURSIVE case. Not sure how that happened. Oh, well....corrected now.


November 9, 2011

Paul Elaku at the community pointed out a big error with the suffixes in the first example in Sec. 5.4.3, which I've now corrected. (One of those instances of me creating an early example of the new version of the language, then forgetting to modify it after I made additional last-minute revisions.)

Also: I noticed the "extreme" verb example shown at the beginning of Chapters 5 and 6 is inflected for a non-OBLIQUE case-frame but is in UNFRAMED relation, which makes no sense. I have corrected it to FRAMED relation.


November 8, 2011



Anton on Facebook correctly pointed out that I forgot FUNCTIONAL context and FORMAL designation in my simplified version of the word for "computer." That got me to thinking. Technically, there's no reason conceptually that a computer has to function electronically (it just so happens that they do). After all, some of you may recall Babbadge's Engines. Therefore, I think the simplified version of the word doesn't really need the MEC1/5 affix. That leaves the form of the word as âdraxhtipší“apparatus designed for running programs.”

As for a word for "Internet," looks like Flo and Anton from the Facebook community rose to the challenge. Flo suggests eqaškonîškatu analyzed below:

  • eq - Human, Person; P1S2 'higher order animal life'
    a - OBL Case
    šk - COMPOSITE configuration: -> A mass/unit of people
    on - AGC1/7 suffix "one enables to"
    îšk - DPR1/4 suffix " not physically connected but with immediate accessibility and ...knowledge of other member actions" - so now we know what kind of "unit" of people this is and that the word is the enablement of such.
    at - MEC1/5 - means of electronic binary switching
    u - AMG, adding that it has a big social impact

I really like his use of the DPR1/4 suffix here; I doubt I would've thought of that. Two small corrections to his analysis: The idea of enablement is given by the AGC1 affix in Degree 2, not Degree 7, thus -ön, not -on. Also: the MEC1/5 suffix only indicates “by electronic means” -- if you want to specify binary switching, you'd have to drag in the incorporated root -šp- (P3S1 FML) as I did below in the full version for the word "computer." (I don't think it's necessary.) And for easier pronunciation, I'd change the order of his suffixes. The end result being: eqaškönatîšku.

Anton's suggestion is âdraxhtipšatekšarqú, which takes the word for "computer" and adds on the DRC1/3 and SPS1/5 suffixes plus AMALGAMATIVE context to give a word meaning “an indirect 2nd-order level of computer-based infrastructure with strong social impact/ramifications.” Interesting how Flo sees the Internet as a network of people through electronic means with big social impact, whereas Anton sees it as a network of computers with big social impact. What's even more interesting is that I, myself, was thinking along a third line of reasoning, focused neither on people nor computers, but rather on information. But I think I'll stick to the above two words.

Both are great efforts. I'd go with Flo's suggestion for contexts focusing on what the Internet is for and how each of us is part of it, whereas Anton's word seems appropriate when focusing on how it works or is structured.

Added the missing -rn- suffix (alternative suffix forms of the Phase categories) to Chapter 7


November 7, 2011


I have amended Section to clarify that syllabic consonants count as full syllables for purposes of applying stress rules. Corrected additional errors. Began adding revised sound files back to where they had been previously removed for correction.

THE ITHKUIL WORD FOR “COMPUTER”: The administrator of the Ithkuil page at (the Russian-speaking world's answer to Facebook) contacted me puzzling over how to create the Ithkuil words for "computer" and "internet." In answer, I've now created a word for "computer" -- a very interesting exercise. There are two versions of the word, the full-length version, and a simplified version. The full version is âšpeudraxhtipšatúi while the simplified version is âdraxhtipšat. The analysis is below:

â - šp - eu - dr - a - xht -ipš - at - úi
P3S1/STA - inc.root:P1S3.FML='binary.switching' - stem:'follow/obey.rule' - OBL - NRM/DEL/U/COA/CST - UTE1/1 - MEC1/5 - ISR/FNC/FML
“apparatus designed for running programs [literally: 'obeying synergistically composite sets of rules'] by means of eletronic binary switching”

The simplified version âdraxhtipšat means “apparatus designed for running programs electronically” which is probably more usable than the full version. [NOTE: This form is not correct - see entry for November 8th above.]

Now I need a word for "Internet." That should put the morphology, suffixes and lexicon through their paces, eh? Anyone wanna give it a try before I take a crack at it? (Hmm, new root needed, maybe?)


November 4, 2011


Continued to correct various errors pointed out by the Facebook gang. (Note: some of the errors involve a choice as to how to correct them -- I don't always go along with the correction suggested.)

I have amended the second note under the fourth paragraph in Sec. 5.5 (above Table 11) to ensure that Cs Phase-Sanction-Illocution forms and Cg Validation forms do not become ambiguous in certain instances.

I have added a paragraph to Sec. 8.1.3, following Table 34, clarifying the order in which tones are combined in dual-referent personal reference adjuncts.


November 3, 2011


I've begun correcting several errors in example sentences pointed out on Facebook in the three weeks I've been away, (although not all of the items being pointed out are, in fact, errors). I will continue making corrections over the next few days.

By the way, I appreciate the eagle eyes of those few on the Facebook page who bother to take the time to so scrupulously check my work. After creating this revision of Ithkuil over the last couple of years, my enthusiasm lagged when it came time to create (or re-create) all the example phrases and sentences. The results were obviously hurried and sloppy in many instances. The fact that I made a few last-minute changes to the morpho-phonology and the script after I'd already created several examples obviously hasn't helped either.

Note: The brief epenthetic vowel following a glottal stop described in Section does not count for purposes of antepenultimate or pre-antepenultimate syllabic stress. The rules for syllabic stress operate at the phonemic level, not the phonetic level.


October 18, 2011








Lexicon: Fixed errors in the meanings of the complementary stems of the roots -Ļ- ‘BREATHE/RESPIRATION’ and -RXh- ‘COMPONENT OF NERVOUS SYSTEM’.

I just realized that nowhere in Chapter 2 do I indicate that the Slot VII root consonant form Cr cannot be a glottal stop nor those consonant forms that are the same as CG forms (from Slot III) or Ci forms (from Slot IX), i.e., -w-, -y-, -h-, -hw-, -hr-, -hh-, -hn-, -hm-, -lw-, -ly-, -rw-, -ry-, -řw-, -řy-. Don't know how I could've failed to state something so basic that, without it, the entire morpho-phonological formula for formatives (Sec. 2.1.1) falls apart. I've amended Table 3 (in Section 2.1.1) and Section 2.2.1 accordingly.

Prior to the end of 2012, I plan to divide the Lexicon into two different versions: (1) the existing alphabetical listing, and (2) a listing of roots by topics, which will group semantically-related roots together.

Next updates will not be until November.


October 14, 2011:



To those persons who are attempting to memorize all 1728 forms of the Ca affix from Tables 5(a) through 5(l) in Section 3.5.3: You might find it helpful to review the alternate means of showing Extension explained in Section 6.3.5 via tone on a verbal adjunct (use a neutral default verbal adjunct an-n if you have to). In this way, you only have to memorize 288 forms of the Ca affix (the NRM and RPV forms of the DELIMITIVE extension) instead of the full 1728 forms. Just a suggestion.


October 13, 2011:


In anticipation of the forthcoming print-version of the Ithkuil grammar, I have modified the copyright terms listed at the bottom of each page of this website, making them more specific.


October 11, 2011:




Resolved the issue of duplicate stems -SP- and -SK’-. The latter root has been eliminated, and the examples on the Texts page which had utilized that root (involving formulas of thanks/gratitude) have been changed to utilize the -SP- root instead.

To the Facebook poster wondering why the native name of the language still carries a circumflex accent over the last vowel -- see Sec.


October 5, 2011:


Corrected the root for the ‘prepared food’ example in Section 5.1.5. Made several additional corrections of various small typos/errors, as well as some Ithkuil script transcription errors found by the astute folks on Facebook.


October 3, 2011:




Various additional typos and errors pointed out by the Facebook gang have been corrected.

I have introduced four new roots to the lexicon relating to the atomic and subatomic world as well as the fundamental forces, including electromagnetism and gravity. The four new roots are -KTh-, -ŇKY-, -TXh-, and -KSS-.

Additionally, I have added two new suffixes to the list of derivational suffixes in Chapter 7: The PLV and MLR suffixes. The former suffix operates closely in conjunction with the four new roots above.

During 2012, I plan to add new entries to the lexicon on a more frequent basis.

Also: Upon closer analysis, I've determined that -K- and -- are not, in fact, duplicate roots. I have clarified the distinction between them in the lexicon as well as in the interlinear analysis of the fifth example from Sec. 4.5.33.


Sept. 21, 2011:







I managed to sneak some time from my vacation to make an update. I have made numerous corrections pointed out by the Facebook gang. A few remain to be fixed. The most important corrections are as follows:

Corrections made to several values in Tables 5(d), 5(k) and 5(L) in Chapter 3, Section 3.5.3. (I don't think any example sentences are affected, are there?)

Additional information added to Section on how to indicate high-toned personal reference adjuncts in the writing system.

Example sentences in Sections 3.5.4, 4.5.33, and 6.4.2 corrected.

Correction made to one of the values in Table 11(f), Section 5.5.


Sept. 2, 2011:


I will be away for the rest of September and will likely be unable to make any updates to the site until October.

I've also just discovered a duplicate root in the lexicon: -K- and --, both meaning ‘PATH-ORIENTED TRANSLATIVE MOTION’. I will need to eliminate one of them, but first must determine how many example sentences using one of these two roots will need to be changed. Unfortunately, I will likely not have time to do this until October. Until then!


Sept. 1, 2011:








Table 5(i) in Chapter 3: Corrected the RPV/ICP/M/CSL/CST affix to -ļtl-.

As for yesterday's correction, yes, the value should be -ndv- not -nv-, as both /m/ and /n/ allophonically assimilate to a labio-dental nasal (IPA [] ) before /v/ for most speakers (including yours truly), except in hyper-enunciated speech.

IMPORTANT: I am planning a big addition to the grammar of the language. There will be a whole new set of suffixes added to Chapter 7 that will greatly expand the category of Format (see Sec. 6.4) for use with incorporated stems. These new suffixes will essentially be entirely new formats. Many, if not all of them, will correspond to noun cases, so that a great many new kinds of relationships will be available between a primary stem and its incorporated stem. In many instances, these will allow for single-word substitutes for noun-to-noun case relationships. At this stage, I have only considered the idea conceptually; I have not yet mapped out the specific relationships nor assigned any morpho-phonological values to these suffixes. I anticipate I will be adding these to the website sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. The eventual update will include many new examples added to Section 6.4 on Format.


August 31, 2011:


In Table 5(b) in Chapter 3, corrected the value of the NRM/PRX/N/VAR/COH Ca affix from -mv- to -ndv-, plus a few other minor errors. Thanks, Anton!


August 30, 2011:







Florian's critique of my Litany Against Fear translation has caused me to rethink the translation and make some changes. I have modified lines 2 and 3 to indicate ALLEGATIVE sanction. Also, I now realize the future tense used in Lines 6 and 8 in the English original implies intentionality rather than mere future time; it should therefore be translated by INTENTIVE modality (or the suffixed equivalent) rather than PROSPECTIVE aspect. And in Line 7, this use of English 'will' rises beyond intentionality to the level of a declarative statement, i.e., the speaker is willing the statement to be true, thus corresponding to DECLARATIVE illocution. Finally, while fear is spoken of as an abstract entity in Lines 2 and 3, it is personalized as the speaker's own feelings of fear in Lines 4 through 7 and should not, therefore, be expressed using ABSTRACT perspective or ABSTRACT personal reference, but MONADIC perspective and MONADIC inanimate personal reference. On the Texts page, I have now shown these modifications to the original translation in green. I have also added literal English reverse-translations of the Ithkuil version.

Corrected the Vc+Cz values of the last six cases in Table 28 in Chapter 8.


August 26, 2011:







Well, as it turns out, I decided on the straightforward approach to the vocative -- I've made it a new noun case. You'll now find it described in new Section 4.8. While I was at it, I eliminated the DEFERENTIAL case and merged its function with the BENEFACTIVE case, so there are still a total of 96 cases. The Vc infix for the new VOCATIVE case is -ë-. I have updated Table 7 in Chapter 4 to reflect these changes, as well as the first line of the Lord's Prayer on the Texts page.

As for the Vc and Vc+Cz forms used with personal reference adjuncts (see Sec. 8.1.2), I did some switching around. I changed the Vc and Vc+Cz values of the CONCESSIVE case to those of the now-obsolete DEFERENTIAL case, and have assigned the former values of the CONCESSIVE case to the new VOCATIVE case. The new values for the CONCESSIVE and VOCATIVE cases can be seen in Table 28 in Chapter 8.

The tables of primary and secondary case/aspect written characters in Chapter 11 have also been updated to reflect these changes.


August 24, 2011:






Florian from the Facebook group is attempting a translation of Schleicher's Fable, which involves conveying indirect speech. Ithkuil handles indirect speech, as well as direct quotations in the same way, via case frame. In most cases this would be the OBLIQUE case-frame, considering the statement's semantic role as CONTENT of the verb 'speak/say', as in 'He said X,' where X is obviously not a semantic patient, enabler, experiencer, agent, stimulus, etc., but merely the non-causal content associated with the verb.

Flo is also looking for a root for "thing" (looking at the fable I'm not sure why he needs such a stem, but it's his translation...). At any rate, I don't have the stems from the root "TANGIBLE OBJECT/THING/SUBSTANCE" worked out yet, although almost certainly Informal Pattern 1, Stem 1 of the root will simply mean "tangible object/thing; be/exist as a tangible object/thing." The root will most likely be --. Or, in the meantime you could always use Pattern 1, Stem 1 of the root -C-, as a nominal formative (translation: "something that exists").

As for the vocative, I'm still toying with whether to make it a suffix, a case form, or a Slot IX Ci+Vi form (i.e., a new illocution like the DECLARATIVE, available only in FACTUAL mood). I'm leaning toward the latter solution.


August 22, 2011:



Finished adding the Litany Against Fear to the Texts page.

Corrected a few more errata pointed out by the Facebook gang.


August 19, 2011:




Began adding to the Texts page the Ithkuil translation and interlinear analysis of the Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Added the script analysis example to Section 11.1.5.

Corrected the written form of the example phrase at the beginning of Chapter 5.


August 18, 2011:


Corrected a few more errors listed on the Facebook/Ithkuil site.


August 17, 2011:


Added the handwritten forms of the Ithkuil script to Section 11.5.

Corrected various errata pointed out by the folks on the Ithkuil Facebook page. Thanks guys! Nice to know there's someone more attentive to details than I am.

As for ordering of the days of the week, Ithkuil grammar arbitrarily chooses to follow the pattern of most Western European cultures in calling Sunday the first day of the week, e.g., Portuguese segunda-feira 'Monday,' terça-feira 'Tuesday' -- literally 'second-day,' 'third-day.' And in the 'on Sundays' example from Section 4.6.16, the Configuration could also be SEGMENTATIVE if you want to emphasize that the recurring Sundays are subjectively connected to each other (e.g., by the same activities or purpose or interdependency, such as when each Sunday's events/activities are dependent on the preceding Sunday's events/acitivities and likewise form the basis/foundation for the following Sunday's events/activities.)


August 16, 2011:





Added the new CAL suffix to Section 7.4.5 to address the issue of names of the days of the week and months of the year. As a result, the 'on Sundays' example in Section 4.6.16 has been modified. Also changed the meaning of the FORMAL stems of the root -Ż- to refer to calendrical/cyclic days; the lexicon entry for this root has been expanded with various notes, including information on deriving the words for 'week' and 'month.'

On the Texts page, I modified my analysis of Line 7 of the Lord's Prayer in order to address in greater detail the erroneous form ^tuhekčéötöt’.


August 15, 2011:


Finished the analysis of the Lord's Prayer on the Texts page.


August 12, 2011:





An Ithkuil fan has posted his own Ithkuil translation of the Lord's Prayer on Facebook. Hooray! I have copied it to the Texts page and have added my own comments/analysis regarding it.

Made corrections to examples in Sections 5.7.15 and 5.9.1 where the values for the CPL and RCP valences were transposed.

I have begun preparing the handwritten forms of the Ithkuil script and will be posting them to Section 11.5 probably sometime next week.


August 11, 2011:


A few paragraphs on Ithkuil equivalents to placenames, ethnonymns, and language names has been added to the end of Section 11.4.1.


August 9, 2011:






One of the Facebook members is apparently tackling an Ithkuil translation of the Lord's Prayer. Interesting! He'll need to review the new root I've just added: --. As for a word for 'sin', I think I'd use the root -VY- in Pattern 2, Stem 2, Formal Designation, in conjunction with the SIM2/1 suffix to give a word meaning more or less 'immoral act, moral transgression.'

Corrected various errors pointed out by Anton Sanarov: Sections, 5.4.1, 8.1.3, 10.1.2, and all of the variants of the 'She and I were planning on taking a walk later on" sentence from Chapters 5 and 6. Still one or two more to correct....

And I'm still thinking about the vocative....


August 8, 2011:




I've been peeking at posts on Facebook's Ithkuil community. Looks like some of the members there have been hard at work (best of luck!). They have pointed out various errata (for which I'm grateful and will be correcting over the next few days) and have raised some good questions which I will address in the grammar soon, including the thorny issue of an Ithkuil equivalent to a vocative form (which I've always somehow managed to avoid dealing with ... [sigh]).


August 3, 2011:


Corrected an error in Section 6.1.31 and made a few minor edits to Chapter 6.


August 2, 2011:




Corrected an error in the fourth example sentence from Section 5.7.15 and added a clarifying paragraph to Section 6.2.3 below Table 17 regarding the value of the Ve Level infix in Slot B of a verbal adjunct when there is no Level but the presence of Ve is required by the presence of a CL Valence prefix in Slot A.

Populated the greetings/salutations section of the “Texts” page.


August 1, 2011:


Added sound files to “Texts” page.


July 29, 2011:


Made some small edits and corrections to Chapters 4 and 5.


July 27, 2011:


Oops! Forgot about the sound files for the “Texts” page. I'll record those this coming weekend.


July 26, 2011:


Made some small edits and corrections to Chapters 1, 2, and 3.


July 25, 2011:





Finished adding sound files to the site.

Added placeholder section in the “Texts” chapter pertaining to greetings and other conversational elements.

Corrected two errors in Table 35 and one error in Table 43 in Chapter 11.

NOTE: A video of my May 2011 Ithkuil slideshow presentation in Kyiv, Ukraine, has recently appeared online. Viewers should be aware that at the time of that slideshow, the new Ithkuil writing system had not yet been finalized, and that the written forms of the phrases and sentences shown in the slideshow have since changed.


July 21, 2011:


Added IPT suffix to Chapter 7. Added all sound files through Chapter 4.


July 20, 2011:




Placeholder sections 11.5 and 11.6 added to Chapter 11, for the eventual posting of the handwritten forms of the Ithkuil written characters and description of the yet-to-be-developed adaptation of the 2-dimensional ornamental script from the now-defunct Ilaksh website.

Corrected the pronunciation table in the Phonology chapter regarding the value of the xh-digraph.


July 18, 2011:





Began placing sound files for new site into production. Will continue to do so over the course of the week.

Added new "Updates / News" page and links.

Added new Section to the Phonology chapter regarding separation of diphthongs into separate syllables.

Amended Section to address tri-consonantal and tetra-consonantal stems that cannot be written using a single consonantal character.


July 15, 2011:


New version of website placed in production; old Ithkuil site plus Ilaksh site withdrawn.





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Cover of Ithkuil Grammar book


For those who would like a copy of the Ithkuil Grammar
in book form, it is now available!

And while you’re at it, you can check out the novel I co-
with my twin brother Paul, also now available!

(It’s a political thriller/science fiction story that explores the
philosophical implications of quantum physics, and features
Ithkuil as a “para-linguistic” interface to a quantum computer.)

Cover of "Beyond Antimony" by John & Paul Quijada