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Pronounced: tɜ˞ˈzɛj.mjən
Timeline and Universe: Possible LLL candidate
Writing system: Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic, UTA
Genealogy: Unique PIE, influences from Kartvelian, Turkic, Persian, Uralic and Slavic
Morphological type: Mixed
Morphosyntactic alignment: Lexically Split-S
Basic word order: VSO
Creator: Paul.w.bennett


Terzemian is an IE-derived conlang located along the west coast of the Caspian Sea. It is a satem language (the word for hundred is šündo (шүндо, şyndo, شَِنداَ /ʃyndo/) that uses the ruki rule, Grassman's law, Slavic-type depalatalization, z/r alternation, r/n alternation, a three-group vowel harmony system, and two phases of lenition (the first word-final, and the second approximately intervocalic).



p b     t d       k g kʷ gʷ q ɢ ʔ
  f v   s z ʃ ʒ ɬ ɮ   x ɣ xʷ ɣʷ χ ʁ h
    w     l j        
m     n       ŋ ŋʷ    
      ɾ ɹ              


Depending on your viewpoint, there are either 17, 14, 9, 7, 6, or 3 vowels. To be more specific, there are 3 vowel harmony groups, with 3 vowels in each group (making up the "Nine" vowel system), plus four metavocalic symbols: я, ю, ə, and .

Seventeen / Fourteen Vowel System

In external analysis, there seem to be three suprasegmental (word-length) vowel-harmony phonemes, and five segmental vowels (forming a grid of fifteen phonetic vowels), plus two metavocalic symbols. By this count, there are seventeen distinct phonetic vowels.

In practical terms, any word may have any of the seven historical surface vowels as it's "Root" vowel (the first vowel of the lexical root), and belongs to one of one of three harmony groups. Other vowels in a word are then given by one of seven metavocalic symbols. Thus, we find in the first root syllable of a word one of (a, e, i, o, u, ɨ, ɯ), in prefixes one of (α, ε, ω, я, ю, ə), and all other places any of (α, ε, ω, я, ю, ə, ). By this count, there are two sets of seven vowels in complementary distribution, though this is usually called the "Fourteen" vowel system to avoid confusion with the "Seven" vowel system used in the UTA and Arabic scripts.

Root Vowel Compatibility

Harmony a e i o u y ɯ
i   e i       ɯ
a a e   o      
u       o u y  

Metavocalic Symbols

Harmony ε α ω я ю
i i e ɯ ɯw
a e a o ja
u y o u ju

In addition, the metavowels ə and respectively stand for "the root vowel" and "the vowel immediately to the left".

Seven Vowel System

The Seven Vowel system is retained in writing in the UTA and Arabic scripts, but in modern times, /y/ and /ɯ/ have merged under Soviet influence (being in complementary distribution, and not found in Russian), and the Six Vowel system has replaced it for the Latin and Cyrillic scripts, and in modern pronunciation (in all but the most careful / formal contexts).

i y       ɯ u
  e   o  

Six Vowel System

i   ɨ   u
  e   o  

Writing System

Terzemian has been written in a variety of scripts. In the modern era, a modified Latin alphabet is used. During the Soviet era, Cyrillic was used, and can still be found. Before the Soviet era, a form of the UTA was used alongside Arabic. The Arabic script can still be found in general use in certain areas, as well as among the Muslim population throughout the region. Despite (or perhaps because) the fact that the move to the Latin script was a deliberate process to reflect post-Soviet independence, there is also a small folkish movement to return to the UTA script. In short, the learner of Terzemian should concentrate on learning the Latin script, but should be prepared to encounter Cyrillic, UTA, and Arabic on a more or less daily basis.

Logical Layout

The following tables illustrate the writing systems with a layout that is in accordance with the Phonology tables above.

Modern Latin

p b     t d       k g k˚ g˚ ḳ ġ ʼ
  f v   s z š ž ł ł̣   x ǧ x˚ ǧ˚ x̣ ǧ̇ h
      c č          
    w     l j        
m     n       ň ň˚    
      ṛ r              

i   y   u
  e   o  


p b     t d       k g kъ gъ ķ g̓ q
  f v   s z ş ƶ ł ľ   x ƣ xъ ƣъ x̧ ƣ̓ h
      c ç    
    w     l j    
m     n       ŋ ŋъ
      r ř        

i y   ı u
e   o


п б     т д     к г къ гъ къ қ ӷ Ӏ
  ф в   с з ш ж ӆ ԓ х ғ хъ ғъ ҳ ӷ̵ һ
      ц ч тӆ      
    ў     й    
м     н     ң ңъ  
      р ʀ        

и   ы   у
  э   о  


پ ب     ت د     ك گ  
  ف ڒ   س ز ژ ش   خ غ ه
      څ چ      
    و     ي    
م     ن     ڽ  

هِ هَِ   هَ
اِ اَِ   اَ
اٍ   ا اً

Alphabetical Orders

The tables above approximately follow the IPA layout for the sounds of Terzemian. The correct orders of the writing systems of Terzemian are:

  • Latin: Aa Ää Åå Bb Cc Čč Dd Ee Ff Gg Ǧǧ Ġġ Ǧ̇ǧ̇ Hh Ii Kk Ll Łł Mm Nn Ňň Oo Öö Pp Rr Ṛṛ Ss Šš Tt Uu Üü Vv Ww Xx X̣x̣ Yy Zz Žž ˚ ʼ
  • Cyrillic: Аа Әә Бб Вв Гг Ғғ Ӷ̵ӷ̵ Дд Ее Жж Зз Һһ Ии Йй Кк Лл Ӆӆ Ԓԓ Мм Нн Ңң Оо Өө Пп Рр Rʀ Сс Тт Уу Ўў Үү Фф Хх Ҳҳ Цц Чч Шш Щщ Ъъ Ыы Ьь Ээ Ɔɔ Юю Яя ӏ
  • UTA: Aa Əə Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Ff Gg Ƣƣ Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Ŋŋ Oo Ɵɵ Ɔɔ Pp Rr Ss Şş Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz Ƶƶ Qq Ъъ
  • Arabic: ا ب ت پ ح خ څ چ د ر ز ژ س ش غ ف ك گ ل م ن ڽ ه و ۆ ي هِ هَِ هَ اِ اَِ اَ اٍ اً

The following chart shows the other writing systems in the latin order:

Latin Aa Ää Åå Bb Cc Čč Dd Ee Ff Gg Ǧǧ Ġġ Ǧ̇ǧ̇ Hh Ii Kk Ll Łł Mm
Cyrillic Аа Әә Ɔɔ Бб Цц Чч Дд Ээ Фф Гг Ғғ Ӷ̵ӷ̵ ??? Һһ Ии Кк Лл Ӆӆ / Ԓԓ Мм
Latin Nn Ňň Oo Öö Pp Rr Ṛṛ Ss Šš Tt Uu Üü Vv Ww Xx X̣x̣ Yy Zz Žž ˚ ʼ            
Cyrillic Нн Ңң Оо Өө Пп Рр Сс Шш Тт Уу Үү Вв Ўў Хх Ҳҳ Йй Зз Жж Ъъ ӏ Щщ Ыы Ьь Юю Яя Ее


  • The Cyrillic letters Щ, Ъ, and Ь are not used in native words.
  • The Cyrillic letters Е, Ю, and Я are occasionally used in native words.
  • The Arabic characters هِ هَِ هَ use the letter ه as a base character for illustration. The actual vowels are written as just the diactrics, attached to the preceeding consonant.

Sound Changes

See the Sound Changes subarticle.





The metasymbol ɧ represents an assimilatory fricative, as follows:

Next Consonant p,b,m,f,v,w t,d,n,s,z,l,r č,š,ž,y k,g,x,ǧ h
Outcome f s š x

If there is no next consonant in the root, ɧ assimilates to the previous consonant.

If there is no next consonant and no previous consonant in the root, ɧ becomes h.



Agreement prefixes

Conj. Argument 1st Person 2nd 3rd
1 A ǧ- z- ε-
1 P - ю- c-
2 A - smω- s-
2 P əm- jω- -

Aspect, Mood, Intensity, and Attitude

Additional verb characteristics are expressed in suffixes, including the following.

  • Aspect
    • Inceptive
    • Abortive
    • Completitive -юǧ
    • Participle -яnz
    • Perfect -gεv
  • Mood
    • Imperative (use bare root)
    • Negative -nε
    • Optative/Hortative/Jussive -zюn
    • Causative/Volition (A -> P, Cause -> A)
  • Intensity
    • More Intense -sεz
    • Less Intense -də (NB: same as nominal diminutive)

Suffixes may be chained in a head-modifier (right-branching) manner.



There is pragmatic gender marking -- Nouns are marked for a gender system that combines traditional gender and pragmatic roles.

Genders, with examples, are:

1st Person -αm rižem I, the king    
2nd Person -αs rižes You, the king    
3rd Animate -αt rižet He, the king    
3rd Inanimate riž It, the kingdom čom The land
Negative Animate -n← rižni No king    
Negative Inanimate α- eriž No kingdom očom No land


Case marking is ergative for Inanimate and Negative subjects, and accusative in all other cases.

Cases are:

Erg -εr -- čomyr
Nom/Abs rižet čom
Acc -←n rižeten --
Dat -əm rižetim čomom
Gen -εs rižetis čomys
Ins/Prl rižety čomu
Com/Loc -b← rižetbe čombo