The Tzuman Language

Tzuman is spoken by nearly two million people on the Kanaschu Peninsula, several islands to the south, Chenǰan Island in the straits and a small strip of land on the eastern peninsula. It is a branch of the Fölkisch language family and is the most widely spoken language of that family (Tzuman being a trade language across the Xabran Sea and beyond, to the Xatsan Peninsula and up the western coasts). While the language described here is widely used, there are local dialects in each Kanaschi state: Eghri, Teschára (really a seperate language, but culturally a dialect), Ischeni and Iteče (really a varied dialect continuum, representing the fractuous history of the Kanaschi Straits, having several important varieties; Eghri and Ischeni descend from some of these), and {Western Kingdomese}. This is a koine, used as the written medium for many centuries with some change, but not as much as the spoken varieties.

Notes: in stages between Old Tzuman and the modern speech, the symbol V does not stand for any vowel as is normal, but a reduced version of the vowel which was previously there; during this stage there was also the vowel as a result of reductions, but it is unclear what their relationship was, though it is clear that they were not the same phoneme (if that word even can apply). {but in the sound-change notes V will have to be {any vowel}, so this needs further iteration. This paragraph is a WIP.}


Here is a classification of the Fölkisch language family. Bold text indicates languages or dialects, as opposed to italicized subgroupings; only the Tzuman koine and some small details on Eghri, Iteče and Ischeni are covered in this file:


Note: bold text indicates a reconstructed form, while italics indicate attested forms.

Consonants of Old Tzuman:

Labial Interdental Dental Palatal Velar
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k g
Fricative f ð s z ç* x γ
Nasal m n
Lateral l
Rhotic r
Approximant w j

*Ç was probably [cç] or [kç], given its later mergers with č and k.

There is also a "special" cluster, sx, which comes down as sch [ʃ] in Modern Tzuman; its cognates in Southwestern and Tsivaǰi are generally fricative clusters.

The vowels were as follows:

Front Back
High i u
Mid-High e o
Mid-Low ɛ
Low a
Diphth. ei ea ao au ou

The consonants of Modern Tzuman:

Labial Dental Palatal Velar
Plosive p b t d ɟ c g
Affricate tz ts č ǰ
Fricative f s z sch ch gh
Nasal m n nh
Lateral l
Rhotic r
Approximant v y

The vowel system, while it underwent several sound changes, ended up identical to the ancestral system (though individual vowels may have shifted dramatically).

The earliest stages of Old Tzuman were not recorded (phonetically) with any consistency, being contemporaneous with the deveopment of the Kanaschi writing system; its ideographic nature encoding little phonetic information. It quickly progressed from ideo- and logograms to a syllabary based on the 'classical' Old Tzuman (namely the forms marked OTz in this file) words and ideas, giving a much fuller picture (though still clouded by the massive variance of symbols between cities). Sound changes quickly made a syllabary cumbersome, and it developed into the modern abugida system, though some common syllabic symbols survive, and the syllabary itself was propagated widely along the Kanaschi trade routes.

Tz [ts] generally originates in PSF initial d, accounting for its somewhat limited distribution; later its occurrence was increased where PSF ð became its modern realisation [ts] (not to be confused with the previously more common ts [tθ], which arose from positional variants of t), merging with tz < d. The history of the Tzuman dental affricates and stops is quite complicated, made worse by interdialectal borrowing at various stages. The more urban varieties tend to simplify the system, but in various ways: ts shifts to [f], a pure [θ] or it reverts back to [t].

Ċ [c] (not to be confused with ç) was produced by sound changes in the time between Old Tzuman and the modern language, but merged with either č [tʃ] or c [k] (save in Teschára and Eghri, where it remains) before reaching modern times. Dy is a pure palatal stop, while č ǰ are alveopalatal affricates, with sch being an alveopalatal fricative. Č and ǰ descend from Old Tzuman c and ɟ, while y is a simple palatal approximant [j], frequently (both historically and in modern varieties) in variation with the vowel i.

The language described here is a 'common' (standardized is very much an incorrect word at this stage) version, primarily based on the speech of Istáril of Ičetrou (though with significant input from Čenascha as well); it is used as the language of diplomacy across the Kanaschu, west into the Wild Plains, and with the civilised states of the eastern peninsula.


Tz ts č ǰ are treated as unitary sounds (affricates). Other clusters, such as fs fc xt xp sl sk st sn zb gn gm ǰg ǰd ms tm kn are not. Clusters most frequently resolve to fricative-affricate/stop while stop-nasal reorganises to homorganic nasal-stop. Fricative-fricative clusters are varied, some remaining as is (fs), some shifting to fricative-stop (fx > fc [fk]) and even to other realizations.


Tzuman words are ironclad in stressing words on the penult. That is the easy part. However that stress has had a number of effects on the words; directly under it vowels undergo a chain shift, i > e > a > o > u > i (ɛ is strangely left to its own devices). In words with more than 3 syllables (or when unstressed particles/adpositions/etc. are grouped with the word in question), secondary stress may occur, which can affect the result of sound changes frm Old Tzuman to modern varieties. Special rules exist for some noun phrases and compounds; normally the primary stress is still attached to the noun, and thus in older phrases the adjective can condense somewhat. However if the adjective is being emphasised, the noun can lose the primary stress by the phrase being treated as a single word, and given that the penult is definitively the stressed syllable, a portion of the adjective will then receive it: esel vidyilu 'white tower' > Zíl vedyil, but it also generates the seperate noun Zlevédyel 'Sorceror's Tower'. This process is highly productive, and frequently speakers in various settings create their own nominals with it; this can be very confusing to second language speakers and/or the uninitiated, to say nothing of variant dialectal forms. A note on the Old Tzuman genitive endings: the final -u is not generally counted when determining stress, or at least words were reanalysed after its loss.



Tzuman nouns, while not being composed of multitudes of forms, are still somewhat complex, due to the havoc wreaked by sound changes and shifting stress over the centuries. The forms given here are generally correct, but many nouns have stem variations from the aforementioned changes and the chain vowel shift under stress.

Nominative -∅ -∅
Dative -v -o
Accusative -ach -∅ (-ach)
Genitive -os -as

The I II difference is in origin an animate/inanimate distinction; all native words adhere to it, and most older loans have been assimilated into the pattern, but recent loans have muddied the waters somewhat, with forms more likely to be classified by similarity in form to existing words and word-final phones. The four cases given are the only cases, barring a few developments in urban varieties. Before discussing the differences, it is perhaps best to give some actual examples:

Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative émacht móchesch éznis éznosch
Dative émach móchescv iznéso éznoscv
Accusative móchtach machíschach éznis (iznésach) iznúschach
Genitive móchtos machéschos iznésas iznúschas