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An eclectic language created from texts from the Teach Yourself language books, originally produced by the English Universities Press, latterly by Hodder and Stoughton.

The guiding principle was to take foreign language words from the contents pages of each grammar and use them as the basis of an imaginary language. Also used were irregularities affecting verbs and nouns, etc., and descriptions of courtesy language (notably, Japanese, Samoan and Modern Persian).

The language creator is Andrew Smith.

Details of the language speakers and culture are speculative as yet. My working name for the language is Shennian. Shente is the word for 'people, race, gentiles,' and the adjective shenni is derived from that as an ethnonym. The native name of the language is shennya and 'to talk Shennian' is bāhant shennyon, literally talk-language Shennian-thing.'

Clues about the Shennian culture emerge from their vocabulary. Their language has a respect-based hierarchy. Their religious tradition has a sky-father god, Yeuh. They are sabbatarians with ascetic religious leaders - monks, hermits and mendicants. They use words for technology with which we are familiar. Their history includes a period of expansion. Currently they are eclipsed by a global super-culture whom they call the Yimbi.

Shennian Lexicon



labial dental alveolar postalveolar palatal velar glottal
unvoicedstops p t k
voiced stops b d g
unvoiced fricatives f s ʃ
voiced fricatives v h
nasals m n ŋ
lateral l
approximant ɹ
semivowels w j


OT2.0 has the vowels /i ɛ a ʉ ɔ ɑ/.


In the latin alphabet:

a b ch d e f g h i k l m n ng o p r s sh t u v w y

In the Kiriva, the Shennian alphabet:

a b g d e dy ā ty y k l m n s o p ch r sh t y

The Kiriva, the writing, is a Semitic-based script, not yet adapted into an available font. Some letters are written with pointing to mark a sound change.

The long vowels U, Ō and I are written as abjads either written with pointing over a previous consonant or over a short-A.

The short-A is called Aliv.

NG is written as Gim marked with a nasal.

H is written as a superscript letter called half-Āta. It is inserted between Āta and Tyeta in dictionary practice but not listed in the sequence of the alphabet.

The Kiriva has two writing styles. Cursive script is the default script. Square script is used for names and proper nouns. Shennian writing style alternates between both forms. Not knowing where to change into square script appears clumsy and uneducated, over-using square script feels like reading official, formal language.

There Is

Ten āyet, it is, there is a..., there are, that is, which takes a direct object. This may be singular or plural, so ten āyet means 'there is' or 'there are'. It is a common and useful expression, used in making statements, not when an object is pointed out. It is also used in interrogative sentences when it translates 'is there', 'are there'.

The third person ending -(e)t is silent in spoken Shennian.

It is used in the sense, to be present or to be absent (in a place). It is used with a non-living subject, always in the third person: it is (somewhere), they are (somewhere). It forms sentences if where the thing is, is known: A konisa belye' pena trepeye? Āyet Is the book on the table? Yes, it is.

'There was, there were' is normally Ten we dunide, literally 'there happened'. In 'there will be', ten āyet becomes ten we dunyet, literally 'there will happen'.

The third person moves to the head of the sentence and has existential force to mean ‘there is, there are’.

Ten in ten āyet is considered the secondary subject and the real subject is the noun or pronoun that comes after the verb. The verb does not change for gender, it changes for number, Tye āyen.

The pronoun ten means 'it, there.' It is used in impersonal expressions like ten wuet it rains and ten snyeget it snows.

In deferential language gohaut is substituted for āyet and ō for iet, ten gohaut lut Good morning, lit. it is early.


The negative is shim nothing, followed by a genitive noun or noun phrase. Shim is the word used in conversation and written word. In careful speech it becomes the longer word shidim. It is placed directly after a verb it negates. An infinitive verb or a participle will follow after it. It occurs independently at the end of sentences as 'or not'.

Bod bovol I speak; bod bovol shim I do not speak. Ta lichet He reads; Kudin lichet he does not read. Shennian speakers think of the subject pronouns he, she and it, ta, da and ten, as wrong in negative sentences. The negative pronouns kudin, kudna and kudnon, not one, are substituted in their place.

If noun or pronoun is contradicted, a form of kudin is used.

Kudnon can be used to contradict statements: Ta dāt ishi Sobye. Kudnon, kudin dāt ishi Sobye He comes from Sobye. No, he doesn't come from Sobye.

Kudnon is used as negative question tag: Ai-ta morigo kerane, kudnon? He is the chief clerk, is he not?

With a name or pronoun with so it means 'not the one who', kudin bod so det ten it wasn't me who told him.

Occasionally it can mean 'non-': kudni shenni non-Shennian

Kudnon shim, not un-: kudin kōt shim he is not unwilling.

When a future of a negated verb is fronted before the pronoun it means 'it is unlikely': kudin we dāyet He won't come; dāye'lā kudin It is unlikely that he will come; he is unlikely to come.

Other negatives that can be used as adverbs after a verb: shame never, shidim nothing, pahon nobody. These words can be moved to the start of the sentence and the order of the sentence remains unchanged for the rest of the sentence: chota āye'ten? Ei pahon Who is there? Nobody.

Kem is used as a negative adverb, 'only'.

Okom, okong, okon is used as a stronger negative than shim, not at all.


Hisal means ‘to arise, to come into existence:

Ya hisen-lā pena keten payade tolke, and on this point there are stanzas

Ishipena ōga hist samōn, from anger arises delusion

An alternative to 'to be' in nominal sentences: binon-lā tena ramayon hist pena tache, the sight of it is delightful to the exhausted.

The two particles ai and are used to emphasize words. Ai being used in questions, and in statements. A word may be emphasized by moving it forward in a sentence and tagging it with ai or .

At the beginning of a sentence or clause, can replace an impersonal ten: dakilbesh-lā ya sodyant keresh suyan it is difficult to go across the river. At other times kam if, at the beginning of a sentence is balanced by on the first word of the main clause: kam na' dā tenyen ast a āgorion simodi, na' dā pochen-lā nawesam ten if we have enough money, we can buy it.

softens a command, and makes it less abrupt.