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Lin'Ya, also known as Centaurian, is a non-naturalistic, mostly a priori artlang (perhaps with some engelang traits) by Enrique Gamez, and his first conlang. It was conceived as the language spoken by colonists of Alpha Centauri in the far future, although since then it's been adapted to fantasy settings as well.


Lin'Ya originally showed up in a sci-fi story the author wrote years ago, which included interactions with a distinct human culture spanning various planets in the Alpha Centauri system. It mostly took the form of various place names, all of which seemed to have the structure SYLLABLE'SYLLABLE. The idea of turning this into a real language emerged later, at which point the trite and contrived appearance of the names in the text ("Li'Sen", "Ni'Taar", etc.) became frustrating. But coincidentally, this structure happened to apply to every single place name or given name used in the story, so it was possible that the names took that form because it was the only legal structure according to the rules of the language. As a result of this reasoning, the formal version of Lin'Ya requires all words to consist of two syllables separated by an apostrophe. The unusual features of Lin'Ya are largely the result of trying to create a workable language within this restriction. (The non-naturalistic tendencies are explained by Lin'Ya having been constructed in-universe as well, to serve as an elaborate code for use in war.)


Because all words in Lin'Ya must consist of two syllables separated by an apostrophe, a large number of consonant clusters are permitted in order to produce as many unique syllables as possible. Each syllable may consist of as many as four consonants and must contain exactly one vowel; (C)(C)V(C)(C). Other than that, there are few restrictions. With 14 vowels (counting diphthongs, which are treated as distinct vowels for the purpose of phonotactics) and 20 basic consonants, there are 14*(1 + 20 + 20 + 20*20(1 + 19 + 19 + 19*19)) = 2,240,574 possible syllables in the language (math done very sloppily, feel free to correct).

The phonemes of Lin'Ya are listed below. (Parentheses indicate the typical romanization; I've come up with others that might be easier to understand, but this version has the sentimental/historical clout...)

  Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m (m) n (n) ŋ (ng)
Plosive b (b) p (p) d (d) t (t) ʦ (ds) g (g) k (k) (qu)
Fricative f (f) v (v) s (s) ʃ (sh) ʒ (j) ɬ (ls) ɕ (shy) ʑ (jy) x (c) h (h)
Approximant ɹʷ (r) ɹ̥ʷ (hr) l (l) j (y) ʎ (ly)
Tap ɾ̥ʷ (r)
  Front Back
Close i/ɪ (i) y (uu) u (u)
Mid e/ɛ (e) ɔ (o)
Open a (a) ɑ (aa)
Roman IPA
ae ea
au au
ei ei
eu ɛɯ
ii ij
oi ɔi

Lin'Ya uses tone for some of its grammatical forms. A pair of syllables is tone-marked in speech to indicate whether a syllable is the first in its pair (mid-tone) or the second (high or low tone). In addition, the end of a li-chain or other sub-phrase structure is marked with a low rising tone on the final syllable, and the imperative mood is indicated by a short, very high tone on the final syllable.

Stress is extremely regular, falling always on the second syllable in a pair.


Grammar in Lin'Ya is built around the pair structure for syllables. Generally, the first syllable of a pair represents a noun or verb, and the second syllable is a modifier (an adjective, adverb, or placeholder syllable if no modifier is desired). For verbs, the second syllable typically indicates the tense, aspect, or mood of the verb. The only mandatory markings on verbs are indicative vs. imperative (indicated by tone and word order) and active vs. passive (indicated by the presence or absence of the particle tyo). Other verb qualities do not need to be explicitly marked. The tense markers se, ser and sen can be used independently to serve as a copula for the appropriate tense.

Word order in Lin'Ya is VSO. Frequently, the subject is absorbed into the verb as an adverb. For imperative sentences, the order instead becomes SOV, and the verb is marked with an imperative tone (short and very high) on its final syllable.

One interesting feature of Lin'Ya is that each syllable may be interpreted as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb, and carries at least one meaning for each of those parts of speech. The distinction between nouns and verbs or between adjectives and adverbs is based entirely on word order, and the distinction between nouns and adjectives or between verbs and adverbs is based on the position of a syllable within a pair, the first (almost) always being a noun and the second a modifier or placeholder. For this reason, word order is extremely important in Lin'Ya, as is the imperative tone that defines which order applies in the sentence. For instance:

(with imperative tone) Ked'om kor'se! "Let's do this!" (lit. everyone cooperate)

(without imperative tone) Ked'om kor'se. "The extant organization is always chatting."

When no modifier is desired for a head syllable (generally a noun), one can use the placeholder syllable ki. However, it is considered poor form to overuse ki, and many alternatives exist, each with a specific nuance (ngi for expressing new information, guu for expressing disgust, do for storytelling and describing the distant past, etc.).

Adding more than a single modifier to a noun or verb is more complicated, since extending a pair beyond two syllables is not permitted. To add a single additional modifier, one may begin a noun with the syllable li and append the extra modifier to it, and in practice this is sufficient for most purposes. In order to add more than one modifier, a structure called a li-chain is usually required, which is marked by an initial pair of li and the main noun or verb of the chain, and by a distinctive tone pattern.

(More to come later)


Jli'cyei Dre'hu (an original poem in Lin'Ya)

Li'jngi, ser'shya sco'hal luun'goi
An'uu li'ngyuj, da'quor, sle'oi,
Oing'som uk'sho, vyoa'haak do'huu,
Ja'dse kyaengg'sen ked'om lya'luu.

Dseung'yaac lsol'ser uk'li, bu'ren.
Ji'hrein jyuun'sho mrish'uu li'ngen,
Ji'hrein hya'hoi, ji'hrein jngoi'du,
Li'shroa ngyo'sho, jli'cyei dre'hu.

Ahead, there would be green grass that is not wilted
And a beautiful sky, the one, or just like it,
Which I remember, but have nearly forgotten
In that place where everyone experienced eternal happiness.

We long hopelessly to find it (lit. something like "we wish it were true that we will find it"), yet we endure.
Through wasteland and ancient swamp,
Across high mountain, through sleepy plain,
Beneath the sun, toward that pleasant far away home. (lit. metaphorically toward it, implying it doesn't really exist)