Tannaean language

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Tannaean (Tannaīde, Eleenää kuuvo)
Pronounced: tə'neɪən (tannə'i:de, e'le:næ: 'ku:vo)
Timeline and Universe: Ilethes
Species: Human
Spoken: Tannaea
Total speakers: (tba)
Writing system: Lazeic alphabet
Genealogy: Maric
  East Maric
Morphological type: Inflecting
Morphosyntactic alignment: Accusative
Basic word order: SOV
Creator: Eugene Oh
Created: September 2006

The Tannaean language is an East Maric language spoken in the Arithide province of Tannaea in southeast Marcasia. While long relegated to the privacy of homes and unofficial correspondence in favour of the more widely-spoken and economically viable Arithide language, especially during the Neira dynasty, modern regionalism and devolution by the central government have led to its reestablishment as official language of the province, and revivalist movements have undertaken the colossal task of translating numerous terms of politics, administration, science, philosophy etc. into Tannaean where once was used the Arithide.


The history and development of the Tannaean language has been extensively affected by the many sound-shifts it has undergone. The most important of them include, in reverse order, the devoicing of many consonants especially in word-initial and word-final position, the simplification of consonant clusters and the harmonisation of word stress, all of which served to dramatically reduce the phonotactic repertoire of the language, and contributed to widespread lexical shift.

It is unknown when Tannaean split from the rest of the East Maric languages, as distinctively Tannaean written records survive only from less than 2,000 years ago, after the Areth expanded into the region, bringing with them the Lazeic alphabet, which was subsequently adapted for the language. Despite the added facility of writing, however, Tannaean constantly lost ground to Arithide, which was more prestigious and which was the lingua franca throughout the Lazeian Empire, and practically the only language used for government, commerce and academia.

When the empire collapsed, however, instead of bringing about a Tannaean renaissance, the locally spoken Arithide variant gained ascendancy, particularly so under the reunified Arithian kingdom established in 1336 CIE, and eventually eclipsed Tannaean until the modern era, when devolution gained traction in the Arithian political scene, and education, among other governmental functions, was largely devolved to the provinces in 1982 CIE. Tannaean revivalists campaigned successfully for the reinstatement of a standardised, nativised form of the language, based on the Tannean dialect, as an official language of the province in 1984 CIE, by which time a dictionary of terms and such needed for modern use was nearing completion. Official documents were subsequently translated, and the first cohort of students who received their education in Tannaean graduated from high school in 2002 CIE.



Voiceless consonants dominate voiced ones in Tannaean, partially due to the devoicing process that began more than six hundred years ago. That sound-change affected all consonants word-initially and word-finally, and later all consonants not surrounded by vowels or the sonorants. Certain southern dialects have taken the process further, devoicing all consonants except the sonorants, while in the north voiced consonants are still widely heard where they have been lost in the standard.

Tannaean consonants may occur singly, geminately, or as a member of two. No consonant cluster consists of more than two non-geminate consonants; also, geminate consonants never occur in a cluster.

bilabial labiodental dental alveolar palatal velar glottal
nasal m n ŋ
plosive p, b t, d k, g
fricative f, v s h
trill r
lateral l
approximant w j


The Tannaean phonemic vowels number 16: the short a, ä, e, i, o, ö, u, y [a, æ, e, i, o, ø, u, y] and their respective long counterparts; among these [e] and [o] occasionally allomorph to [ɛ] and [ɔ]. Tannaean no longer has any phonemic diphthongs, and while the orthography does not use the relatively modern Arithide inventions, the letters <j> and <w>, instead preferring to retain <i> and <u>, historic diphthongs have been reanalysed with the respective semivowels.

Vowel harmony

Some degree of vowel harmony by frontness is seen in Tannaean. Grammatical endings are the most obvious example for this, each ending having two alternative forms, one "front" and the other "back", although their application is obstructed by the interposition of a geminate consonant or of more than one consonant. At the same time, while words do not necessarily harmonise stem-internally, the majority does.


Tannaean follows a purely phonetic spelling system, with one letter to each sound, and one sound to each letter, using the letters of the Lazeic alphabet as in standard Modern Arithide, with one exception—that of the semivowels as mentioned above— and one difference: Tannaean, instead of repesenting long vowels with diacritics as in Arithide, doubles the vowel letter.

In Romanisation, the same practice has been adopted, with one exception, that of the (rare) letter <ŋ>, which is, as with most other languages, represented by the digraph <ng>, and by the trigraph <nng> when geminate or doubled, for clarity.


Tannaean is a stress-accented language, and with the exception of certain bisyllabic words, stress in each word falls according to a hierarchy outlined as follows. Stress never falls on the ultimate syllable, which is exceptionlessly the grammatical ending; it also always falls on the penult or the antepenult—another feature distinguishing it from other Maric languages and ascribed to Arithide influence. Where two similarly ranked syllables occur in a word, the syllable closer to the end of the word receives stress.

  1. Syllables with both a long vowel and a coda
  2. Syllables with long vowels or codas
  3. Vowels in the following, descending order: a, ä, e, ö, o, i, y, u (i.e. by openness, frontness and roundness)


Due mostly to the standardisation campaign, which sought to iron out regional dialectal differences in favour of a standard tongue, much of the irregularity of Tannaean grammar has been eliminated, although they still persist in everyday speech and some literature. Newspapers and the rest of the mass media have generally adopted the new rules, as have most public figures, but idiosyncrasy still makes its mark occasionally in public life, and is not usually remarked upon.

Unlike most other members of the Maric family, Tannaean is an SOV language, and inflects for case, albeit to a limited degree, features which most linguists acsribe to areal influence from the long-dominant Arithide language. Words take either of two endings (in most cases) depending on the frontness of the next-to-last vowel: if it is a back vowel, or a front vowel separated from the ending by more than one consonant or a geminate consonant, it takes the "back ending"; if it is a front vowel, separated from the ending either not at all or only by a single non-geminate vowel, it takes the "front ending".


Excepting the few most common irregularly declined ones, as well as pronouns, nouns, previously declined in a multitude of irregularly governed ways, have collapsed into a single declension class, declined for three cases—the nominative, the genitive and the oblique, which also doubles as the accusative case—and two numbers, singular and plural.

Back vowel
mano "person"
Front vowel
tyvö "tree"
Multiple consonants
sängo "voice, sound"
sg. pl. sg. pl. sg. pl.
nom. mano mana tyvö tyvä sängo sänga
gen. manutta manettä tyvyttä tyvettä sängutta sängettä
obl. manu mane tyvy tyve sängu sänge

See also

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