Archaic Imperial (Empire-in-the-West)

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Archaic Imperial (AI) is the name given to the earliest attested ancestor of Modern Standard Imperial, spoken in the Empire-in-the-West. The corpus of AI texts is fairly small: some runic carvings, and the Imperial Law Code of the Temple; the language has been reconstructed based on its daughter and sister languages with a fair degree of confidence.



POA Labials Dentals Emphatics Velars Uvulars Glottals
Voiceless stops p /p/ t /t/ ṭ /tˤ/ k /k/ q /q/  ? /ʔ/
Voiced stops b /b/ d /d/ ḍ /dˤ/ g /g/ ġ /ɢ/
Fricatives f /f/ s /s/ ṣ /sˤ/ x /x/ ẋ /χ/ h /h/
Nasals m /m/ n /n/
Liquids l /l/, r /r/
Glides w /w/ y /j/


  • Short: /i a u/ i a u
  • Long: /iː aː uː/ ī ā ū
  • Diphthong: /aj aw/ ay aw



There is strong vowel allophony in AI, with backed or lowered allophones of most vowels occurring near the emphatic consonants (ṭ /tˤ/ q /q/ ḍ /dˤ/ ḡ /ɢ/ ş /sˤ/ ẋ /χ/). /i/ > [e] /u/ > [o] /a/ > [A] /i:/ > [[email protected]] or [@i] (The former if the emphatic consonants follows the vowel, the latter if it precedes it.) /u:/ > [[email protected]] or [@u] (As with /i:/) /a:/ > [A:]

The diphthongs show allophony based on the following consonant, with raised allophones before voiceless ones. /aj/ > [Ei] /aw/ > [Ou]

The short vowel also have tense/lax allophony, with lax allophones occurring in closed syllables. This applies after the emphatic allophony, so /i/ has the realizations [i], [I], [e], [E]. The vowel /a/ has no tense/lax allophony.


Archaic Imperial was a VSO language, though it already showed signs of the shift to SOV that occurred in its descendants. Word order is consistently head-modifier, and therefore noun-adjective, noun-genitive, preposition-noun, noun-relative clause, etc. are all neutral word-orders.


AI clauses come in many different forms. The smallest is a single inflected verb, eg. Xiritān. "He/she argued". Verbal clauses can also have various stated arguments, eg. Liqitān uxucālik ummigāmirax "The traveller took off the cloak." There are clauses that lack verbs and have nominal predicates: Uxucālik aqsumik "The traveller is strong." There are also a variety of dependent clauses: relative, complement, and adjectival.

Predicate Nominal Clauses

Verbal Main Clauses

Verbal main clauses consist of a verb and several optional NPs, usually one or two. The verb is usually inflected for the person, gender, and number of the Agent and Patient (if present)

Subordinate Clauses

Verbal Morphosyntax

The basic division of AI verbs is between different moods: Indicative, Subjunctive, and Participial. The Indicative is represented by two aspects: Perfective and Imperfective. Tense as such is not shown on the verb. Indicative verbs have agreement/anaphora person markers in an Active-Stative alignment. Nominative arguments (A and Sa) are marked by suffixes, while Absolutive arguments (P and Sp) are marked by prefixes.

The Indicative

The indicative is used for regular declarative clauses and for some less-than-finite constructions, such as clause-chains and serial verbs.

Nominative arguments:

Person Singular Dual Plural
1st -ul -utul -rul
2nd -uk -utuk -ruk
3rd an. -(ān) -utān -rān
3rd in. -(aw) -utaw -raw

The 3s suffixes can be deleted in certain circumstances: with an impersonal subject, with an overt NP filling the role, and with a previously mentioned referent obvious from the context.

With the verb xirit "to argue":

Xirit Singular Dual Plural
1st xirtul xiruttul xiritrul
2nd xirtuk xiruttuk xiritruk
3rd an. xirtān xirtutān xiritrān
3rd in. xirtaw xirtutaw xiritraw

Note: The bolded forms are irregular. The regular forms would be *xirtutul and *xirtutuk, which seem to have undergone metathesis to avoid successive identical syllables.

The alternation between CiCC and CiCiC is used to avoid three-consonant clusters, which did not occur in AI.


Person Singular Dual Plural
1st su- siya- is-
2nd ku- kai- iku-
3rd an. lau- lai- ilu-
3rd in. nau- nai- in-

The same markers are used in the perfective (CiCaaCi).

The Subjunctive

The subjunctive has the form(i)CCiC:usi, eg. ixrittusi 'that he argue'. It occurs in a variety of subordinate clauses, often accompanied by auxiliaries (q.v.) specifying the relation to the matrix clause. It can also occur in a main clause in a jussive sense, eg. ... One of the most common uses of the subjunctive is in complement clauses, ie. as an argument of the verb. In this usage, it takes the case suffix of the argument it is replacing.

Auxiliaries & Serial Verbs

Nominal Morphosyntax

AI's morphosyntactic alignment combines elements of the tripartite and fluid-S systems. Pronouns have separate forms for A, P, and S; while nouns have only A and P forms (Nominative and Absolutive), either of which can be used for S. There is also a Genitive case (also used for Recipient and Benefactor roles) and an Oblique case that serves a variety of other functions.

The Definite Article

The definite article is inflected for the gender of the noun it modifies. For animate nouns the form is u-, while for inanimate nouns, it is u~-, where ~ represents a "chroneme": the gemination of the following consonant.

Case and Postpositions

Animate Singular Plural
Nominative -ik -lik
Absolutive -as -las
Genitive -āl
Oblique -ay -ali

Inanimate Singular Plural
Nominative -il
Absolutive -ax -lax
Genitive -āl
Oblique -ay -ali

See Also