A GRAMMAR OF NEW ITHKUIL
A CONSTRUCTED LANGUAGE
12.0 THE WRITING SYSTEM
A romanized system for writing New Ithkuil has been employed throughout this website for the convenience of those wishing to more easily see how the morpho-phonology and lexico-morphology of the language operates. However, the native writing system for New Ithkuil is unique to the language and is neither an alphabet, nor syllabary, nor ideographic system of writing, but rather is morpho-phonemic, that is, the graphic characters employed to display the written language convey both phonological and morphological (i.e., grammatical) information, by which the reader constructs the intended words being conveyed based upon the reader’s knowledge of the grammar of the language.
This morpho-phonemic principle can be illustrated by the following simple and crude analogy using Roman characters: suppose the past tense written form of the verb “go” in English were “gř” (pronounced “went”), where the diagonal bar through the vowel-letter conveys a change from present to past tense. This would be an example of a morpho-phonemic script, where the characters convey whatever phonetic information cannot be predicted, but where predictable forms (e.g., an English speaker’s knowledge that the past-tense form of “go” is “went”) are conveyed by a symbol or graphic modification indicating the intended morphological change only (e.g., change the verb to past tense), without any graphic representation of the phonetics of the resulting word itself.
Consequently, the New Ithkuil writing system provides characters to convey the basic consonants needed to display the unpredictable parts of a word, whether it be a lexemic root, the CS portion of a VXCS Affix, or a specific Referential category, but otherwise provides only diacritic-like augmentations, patterned mutations of phonetic characters, or specialized glyphs, each conveying morphological (i.e., grammatical) modifications by which the reader uses their knowledge of the grammar to phonetically instantiate the correct word.
Sequence of Written Characters for Formatives
• Concatenation Status
• CA (Affiliation, Configuration, Plexity, Perspective, Extension, Essence)
[character is laterally rotated 180 degrees]
For a Concatenated Pair of formatives, each formative is simply written separately, first the concatenated formative, then the parent formative. There is no distinction made between the two except that the subscript diacritic on the word-initial Primary Character of the concatenated formative shows the concatenation status (see below).
12.1 Primary Characters
A Primary Character is word-initial and shows VR Specification, Function, and Context, plus VV Version and Stem, plus all CA information of a formative. It also indicates the Relation/Concatenation status of the formative. The figures below display how to write a Primary Character.
Figure 1: Showing Specification, Context, Relation and Concatenation Status on a Primary Character:
Figure 2: Showing Perspective and Extension on a Primary Character
Figure 3: Showing Configuration, Affiliation, and Essence on a Primary Character
Figure 4: Showing Stem, Function, Version, and Plexity on a Primary Character:
Figure 5: Example of a Primary Character
12.2 Secondary Characters
Secondary Characters immediately follow the Primary Character and are used for showing consonantal information for the Slot III VR affix as well as the consonantal CS information for any Slot V and Slot VII VXCS affixes. The 28 forms below are the “core” characters, whose “top” and “bottom” ends then take extensions in order to prefix or suffix additional consonants shown in Sec. 12.2.1 below. Handwritten forms are shown in blue.
12.2.1 Consonantal Extensions to Secondary Characters
The following figures show the various “extensions” to the upper and lower “ends” of Secondary Characters in order to indicate consonant clusters (e.g., applying an “s”-extension to a core “k”-Secondary Character, results in a consonantal value of “sk”. Applying these extensions to the upper end of a core consonant character adds a preceding consonant to that shown by the core character. Extensions applied to the lower end add a following consonant. Additional consonants may be added by applying these extensions to a “placeholder” character which, if used, immediately follows the consonantal character.
12.2.2 Using Secondary Characters to Show VXCS Affixes
Use the Secondary Characters with their extensions for any Slot V CS character(s), placed immediately following the CR character. Use the following underposed diacritics to show Degree:
To show Type-2 or Type-3 VXCS affixes: For Type-2 VXCS affixes add a super-posed dot diacritic above the character; for Type-3 affixes, use a super-posed bar diacritic.
To show Slot VII VXCS affixes: Place any Slot VII CS character(s) immediately after any Slot V CS character(s) but rotate the character 180 degrees (i.e, they are upside-down but not horizontal mirror-images). Type-2 and Type-3 Slot VII affixes are marked using the same superposed dot or bar diacritics as above.
he rotated consonant characters used for Slot VII VXCS affixes are shown in Sec. 12.2.3 below.
Note on showing Affixual Scoping: While the spoken language allows for the use of Affixual Adjuncts to indicate scoping in addition to (or as a substitute for) the ordering of affixes in Slots V and VII of a formative, the written language makes do only with the sequential ordering of the Secondary CS character(s) within a formative (i.e., it is up to the reader as to whether to interpret the affixes as being spoken as an affixual adjunct rather than within the formative). Nevertheless, there is one diacritic mark used with Secondary CS character(s) – a dot placed along the right side of a Secondary CS character, to show that the affix has scope over the entire formative as a whole, including Valence, Mood or Case, Illocution & Validation, etc.
12.2.3 Rotated Secondary Characters
Rotated Secondary Characters are identical to standard Secondary characters except they are laterally rotated 180 degrees. They are used to show any Slot VII VXCS affix(es) and are placed immediately following any Slot V VXCS affix(es), or immediately after the first (non-rotated) Consonant Character if there is no Slot V VXCS affix. Any Type-2 VXCS affix is shown by a super-posed dot diacritic, while a Type-3 VXCS affix is shown by a superposed horizontal bar diacritic. Rotated Secondary Characters are also used to show Specialized CS roots and Specialized Personal-Reference roots, as explained in Sec. 12.2.4 below.
12.2.4 Showing Specialized CS-Roots and Specialized Personal-Reference Roots
Rotated Secondary Characters are also used to show a Specialized CS-Root where the Slot III CR infix is replaced by a the CS consonantal form of a VXCS affix (see Sec. 10.3), as well as a Specialized Personal-Reference Root where the Slot III CR infix is replaced by a single or combination Referential affix (see Sec. 10.4).
To show a Specialized CS-Root, use a rotated Secondary Characters shown shown above in place of the initial (non-rotated) Secondary Character representing CR. It is the use of a rotated Secondary Character immediately following the word-initial Primary Character that indicates to the reader that the word is a Specialized CS-Root.
A Specialized Personal-Reference Root is indicated using a rotated Secondary Character in place of the initial (non-rotated) Secondary Character representing CR, exactly the same as a Specialized CS-Root immediately above, except that the rotated Secondary Character carries a super-posed dot diacritic.
12.3 Tertiary Characters
A Tertiary Character is a composite character placed after all Secondary Characters. It indicates Valence, Aspect, Phase, Effect, & Level.
12.4 Quarternary Characters
A Quarternary Character is placed immediately after any Tertiary Character. It is used for displaying VC Case and VK Illocution+Validation, as well as CM Mood and CC Case-Scope. VC and VK are shown by extensions to the top and bottom ends of a plain vertical bar. Mood and Case-Scope are indicated by diacritics shown in Sec. 12.4.1 below.
12.4.1 Diacritics Used with Quarternary Characters
Diacritic marks are used on Quarternary Characters to show Case-Scope, Mood, as well as Case-Accessor Affixes and Case-Stacking affixes.
Mood: Shown via a superposed diacritic above a Quaternary Character, as shown below.
Case-Scope: Shown via an underposed diacritic below a Quarternary Character, as shown above
Case-Accessor Affixes: These are composed of a Quaternary Character indicating Case, accompanied by special diacritics.
Type-2 or Type-3 Case-Accessor affixes: For Type-2 add a super-posed dot diacritic above the Quaternary character; for Type-3, use a super-posed bar diacritic above the Quaternary character.
Distinguishing Case-Accessor Affixes in Slot V vs. Slot VII: If necessary to distinguish a Slot VII case-accessor affix from one in Slot V, the one in Slot VII adds a dot to the diacritic as follows:
Case-Stacking: A second case, with scope over the first, is shown by simply adding a 2nd Quaternary Character immediately after the first.
12.4.2 Alternative To Using Quaternary Characters – Showing VC /VK Using Diacritics on the CR Character
If Mood and Case-scope are default FAC/CCN (so that there are no diacritics above or below the Quaternary VC /VK Character), then the option exists to dispense with the Quaternary character and instead show VC or VK on the CR consonantal root character using the superposed and underposed diacritics shown below:
Showing VC Case:
Showing VK Illocution/Validation:
12.4.3 Showing Referentials
To show a referential, use a Quaternary Character followed by a Secondary Character (with extensions if needed) to indicate the specific personal referent(s) with a superposed horizontal bar diacritic on the Secondary Character. Dual-referent adjuncts are written as two referentials next to each other. To show case-stacking on a Referential, place the second Quarternary Character AFTER the Secondary Character (i.e., so that the Secondary Character is sandwiched between the two Quarternary Characters.
12.5 Bias Characters
Bias Characters are used to show a Bias Adjunct. If sentence-initial, place immediately the Bias Character before the first formative or referential without a space between them. Likewise, if sentence-final, place the Bias Character immediately after the last formative or referential without a space between them. If used as a standalone sentence of its own, separate it from the preceding and/or following sentences by a space.
* DCC and PSM Biases are distinguished from the ACC and FSC biases by use of a dot diacritic as shown below:
12.6 Showing Register
The following symbols are placed before and after a phrase to mark various registers. Each register has four modes; the first indicates register only while the second mode indicates a proper name or foreign word/phrase written alphabetically. For the third and fourth modes (Transcriptive and Transliterative), see next page.
* see Sec. 12.6.1 below
12.6.1 Transcriptive & Transliterative Modes: The Phonetic Representation (or Suppression) of Adjuncts
Being a morpho-phonemic writing system, the script does not normally represent adjuncts. Consequently, a written passage may have different spoken interpretations by a reader, i.e., it is up to the reader whether to utilize adjuncts or not when reading aloud a written passage in the language.
Nevertheless, in certain circumstances such as when reading poetry or song lyrics, reading the script of a play, or a word-for-word transcription, it becomes desirable to indicate to the reader exactly how a written passage is to be read aloud. This is the purpose of the Transcriptive and Transliterative modes.
Transcriptive Mode indicates that the word/phrase inside the markers is to be read exactly as standardly written, i.e., without using adjuncts (other than carrier adjuncts). It is also used to indicate the functions of both a Quotative Adjunct (see Sec. 4.5.2 of the Design Document) and a Phrasal Adjunct (see Sec. 4.5.4 of the Design Document).
Transliterative Mode indicates the word/phrase within the markers is one of the following: (1) a phonemic rendering of an adjunct written using Secondary Characters written alphabetically, or (2) a Tertiary Character representing a Modular Adjunct, to be read Valence first, then the top “half”, then the bottom “half”. It is also used to indicate the function of a Naming Adjunct (see Sec. 4.5.3 of the Design Document).
12.7 Alphabetic Writing
Use Secondary Characters and their extensions plus the placeholder character for alphabetic writing of proper names and foreign words, preceded and followed by the appropriate double-dot diacritic (shown later in the Section on writing Register Adjuncts).
Additionally, use the diacritics shown below for vowels, placed above the character for a preceding vowel, under the character for a following vowel. Use the placeholder character (shown at left) for standalone vowels if necessary. Show 2-vowel conjuncts (including diphthongs) by superposing the first vowel diacritic on the placeholder character and underposing the second vowel diacritic. To show a single vowel between two single consonants, use the placeholder character with the two consonant extensions at top and bottom, with the vowel diacritic placed along the right side of the character.
Option to show 2-vowel conjuncts/diphthongs without using a placeholder character: To show a two-vowel conjunct or diphthong preceding a full-consonant conjunct, place the first vowel diacritic above the Secondary character and the second vowel diacritic along the right side. To show a following 2-vowel conjunct or diphthong, place the first vowel diacritic along the right side and the second vowel diacritic below the character.
Indicating Stress in Alphabetic Writing: Penultimate stress is unmarked; otherwise, the stressed vowel should be shown on a stand-alone plain vertical bar shown here instead of the usual placeholder character.
Additional Characters for Alphabetic Writing: The character-shape shown at below is utilized in multiple ways as a means of representing foreign words/sounds when writing alphabetically:
12.7.1 Showing Carrier Adjuncts/Stems
Use the appropriate register markers above in Alphabetic mode, and insert a Quaternary Case character between the initial register marker and the first Secondary alphabetic character. A full carrier stem may precede the alphabetic register clause per standard rules of writing, or, as a shortcut, place the primary, any tertiary, and quaternary characters immediately after the alphabetic register marker before the first Secondary alphabetic character.
12.8 Script Example
Wezvwaušburdóu yaizxra sai.
[default CA]-Stem2-‘fox’-GEO2/2-REA1/9-ADM ‘fork’-RPV-THM 2m/POS
‘Be careful, your fork is actually a fennec.’