| Syrunian |
h-lez sirunyya : הלעז סירוניא
|Spoken in:||Syria (formerly, Roman Province of Syria)|
|Total speakers:||ca. 6,000|
|Basic word order:||VSO|
|Yuħann h-Culmeryya||December 2010|
Syrunian is a Romance conlang, or romlang, designed to be a plausible descendant of Latin that sounds (and, at time, acts) like a Semitic language. It is derived from a Vulgar Latin used in Roman Syria. Its primary influence is Aramaic, but there are ‘late’ borrowings from Arabic, and contemporary loans from French and English, like h-aurdinatur from the French “l’ordinateur” (computer).
Etymology of Name
h-Lez sirunyya is derived from the Syrian-Latin phrase hic lahez Siria Romane : ‘the language of Roman Syria’(= the Latin of Syria).
- H : definite article, “the.” [> L. hic (cf: Hebrew def. article ‘h, ה’)]
- LEZ : language [> SrL lahez > Amc la`az (לעז) foreign, non-Hebrew/Aramaic language]
- SIRUNΥΥA [> L Siria+Romane → sirya rumanya → sir_runanya → sirunyya] Syrian Roman/Latin, a type of Vulgar Latin spoken in Roman Syria.
[elements of history that are different from reality are given in italics]
Aramaic had served as a language of administration in Mesopotamia and was the day-to-day language in Judea from about 539 BCE to 70 CE.
In the Roman period, the great city of Antioch was the capital of Syria. It was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, as well as one of the largest centres of trade and industry within the West. Although Greek was the lingua franca of the eastern Empire, Latin remained the language of trade and administration in many Syrian cities, and was widely understood by those in the urban sphere of influence. Latin was also spoken by the Roman army. The Empire's major cities in Syria eventually adopted Greek, however, in small villages (especially between Antioch and Damascus) administrators and merchants continued to use Latin on a daily basis. Their Latin was greatly influenced by Aramaic in pronunciation. Aramaic geographic, and Hebrew Judaic terminology was absorbed into the language.
The Vulgar Latin of these Syrian villages was different to European Vulgar Latin and is referred to as Syrian Latin to avoid confusion.
Syria remained a Roman (Byzantine) province until 636 CE, when it was conquered by Islam.
By the late 11th century, Syria was conquered first by the Seljuk Turks and then carved between Turkmen tribes and participants of the first Crusade. Sections of the coastline of Syria were briefly Frankish crusader states, which reintroduced Latin (via Old French) to what had become Early Syrunian.
Syria was occupied, first by the Mongols (from 13th century), and then became part of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th through 20th centuries, and found itself largely ignored by world affairs.
After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and in 1922 the League of Nations split the dominion of the former Syria. France received what was to become modern-day Syria and Lebanon. This gave rise to numerous French-isms in the Syrunian idiom.
Syrian independence was acquired in April 1946.
Syrunian in Modern times
Syrunian is a minority language, spoken in a few villages in South-western Syria, bordering Lebanon. The distance from other major cities and isolating geological features have aided the survival of Syrunian. However, modern roads and transportation, as well as accessibility to Arabic-language television and print media, are eroding the Syrunian language.
|MId||e~ɛ / ē|
|Low||ä~a / ā|
Syrunian is written with the Hebrew alphabet, although there is an official Syrunian-Latin alphabet. Historically, the Syriac script was used too, along with other writing systems of the majority culture round about them.
General linguistic characteristics
The predominant word order in Syrunian is VSO (Verb – Subject – Objects). VSO is the word order of Literary Syriac, as well as Biblical Hebrew and Classical Arabic. Within the noun phrase, both adjectives and possessors follow nouns. Possessors precede adjectives when modifying the same noun. Syrunian uses prepositions, some of which are proclitic.
Syrunian is more inflecting than most Romance languages and is comparable to Romanian. Nouns resemble Syriac/Aramaic nouns, but their forms derive from Latin. The Syrunian definite article «h-, ה» is derived from the Latin word hic (this). It resembles the Hebrew definite article hə, ה. It is used in all numbers, states and genders.
Syrunian marks direct objects with «la-, לא», which is derived from the same root as the definite article in modern Western romance languages, like French and Italian. This developed under the influence of the Aramaic «l-, ל» prefix, which marks the direct object.
|Subject forms||Object forms|
|1 Sing. Common|| eħ
|2 Sing. Masc|| tu
|2 Sing. Fem|| ta
|3 Sing. Masc|| lu
|3 Sing. Fem|| liā
|1 Pl. Common|| nu
|2 Pl. Common|| vu
|3 Pl. Common|| alu
Syrunian only has a definite article «h-, ה» which is a contraction of the Latin word hic (this). It is also related to the Hebrew definite article hə, ה. It is used in all numbers, states and genders.
Syrunian has two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine. The feminine absolute singular is usually marked by the ending –ā א or –at את . Nouns can be either singular or plural, but an additional 'dual' number exists for nouns that usually come in pairs.
Syrunian nouns and adjectives can exist in one of three states; these states correspond in part to the role of cases in other languages.
- The emphatic or determined state
is the basic form of the noun and is used to mark the topic and subject of a sentence. If an emphatic noun is preceded by the preposition la, לא it is the direct object of a sentence.
The emphatic also governs the prepositions: in, ין (in, at) and pur, פור (for, to).
- The absolute state
is a prepositional state. In the plural, it is often marked with the suffix –im.
The absolute governs the prepositions: a, א (towards); še, שע (out of, from); di, די (from, concerning); cum, כום (with); šem, שעם (without); suv, סוב (below); sifr, סיףר (above).
- The construct state
is a form of the noun used to make possessive phrases. Unlike a genitive case, which marks the possessor, the construct state is marked on the possessed. This is mainly due to Semitic word order: possessed[const.] possessor[abs./emph.] They are treated as a speech unit, with the first unit (possessed) employing the construct state to link it to the following word. Together, the make a construct chain'.
Possessive phrases in Syrunian are often made with the preposition di-, rather than the construct case.
For example, the various forms of possessive phrases (for 'the book of the queen') are:
- הליברע המלכא (halivre hamalaca) — the possessed object (h-liver, 'the book') is in the construct state (livre) ; the possessor (h-malaqa, 'the queen') is in the emphatic state.
- הליבר דמלכא (haliver d-malaca) — both words are in the emphatic state and the relative particle d- is used to mark the relationship
- הליברע דמלכא (halivre d-malaca) — the possessed object is in the construct state and the preposition d- is used to reaffirm the relationship.
In Modern Syrunian, the last form is by far the most common.
|Inflection of "malac" (regular noun)|
|Inflection of "ucul" (eye, regular with dual)|
Superficially, Syrio-Aramaic and Latin nouns had similar inflection forms. Thus, they survived in Syrunian.
|Comparative inflection of regular nouns|
Adjectives agree with their nouns in number and state, but only attributive. Predicative adjectives are in the construct state regardless of the state of their noun (a copula can, but need not be written). Thus, an attributive adjective to an emphatic noun, as in the phrase 'the good king', is written also in the emphatic state : h-malac h-ben — the king[emph.] good[emph.]. In comparison, the predicative adjective, as in the phrase 'the king is good', is written in the construct state: h-malac beni — the king[emph.] good[cons.] An alternative is : es beni h-malac – is good[cons.] the king[emph.].
Note that Dual numbers take plural adjectives. Adjectives never inflect for the dual.
|Inflection of "ben" (good)|
Verbs conjugate for number; and in the singular for gender too. Singular verbs do not require the pronoun to be stated explicitly in the sentence, however, pronouns must always be used with plural verbs. Verbs exist in two base forms: the perfect and imperfect. Time is expressed by using these forms in compound tenses.
| The regular verb AMAR (to love)|
|Imperfect forms||Perfect forms|
|1 Sing. Common (I)|| amaħ
|2 Sing. Masc (you)|| amut
|2 Sing. Fem|| amat
|3 Sing. Masc (he/it)|| amu
|3 Sing. Fem (she)|| amya
|1 Pl. Common (we)|| amamus
|2 Pl. Common (you)|| amass
|3 Pl. Common (they)|| amayn
|The construction of tenses and moods|
|Past perfect||Imperfect||Present||Future||Future perfect||Passive|
|Eng. example||I have loved||I loved||I love||I will love||I will have loved||I am loved|
|Syrunian|| to have [IMP]
|PERF||IMP|| to go [IMP]
| to go[IMP]
Passive= adjectival form: a[perfect form] (ie: the perfect from, with an Alif prefix)
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Anasħuttuvin h-culs h-ħuni libris e eqlis cum h-cuvdim e h-yuris. Adunavin h-culs la-raṡin e la-cussett, e devin alu aus sis agir in h-ruħe d-fratiryya.
אנאסחוטובין הכולס החוני ליבבריס ע עקליס כם הכובדם ע היורס. אדונאבין הכולס לא-ראשין ע לא-כוצעט, ע דעבין אלו אוס סס אגיר ין הרוחע דפראתירייא
Read by David Salo: Media:Syrunian_UDHR1.ogg.
compared to this version, in my earliest draft of "Levantine Romance":
Sunt nasħuntaθs aunes ħuni libers, eħuals et sam al-dihnte al-żihursqe. Sunt dunati luir dal raσnim dal cusħentsimsqe et est-ċi avulet q’ agiσint ilar sifral-autres sam al-sfirte fraθres.
סונט נאסחוטאתס אונעס חוני ליבערס ,עחואלס עט סאם אל-דיהנטע אל-זּיהורסכע. סונט דונאטי לויר דאל-ראשנים דאל-קוסחעצימסכע עט עסט-צּי אוּולעט כ אגישינט ילאר סיףראל-אוטרעס סאם אל-סףירטע ףראתרעס.
More texts available on the Syrunian texts page