Conlang Relay

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Zhaj is a descendant of the Yād language ( developed in October 2006 for the ZBB Conlang Relay by con quesa.

Note: In some cases, I have transliterated Yād text in this document by using a doubled vowel to indicate a long vowel (e.g. <aa> for <ā>).



Consonant Inventory

Stopsp ph bt th dk kh g
Fricativesf vs zsh zhxh
Laterall r

Plosives with a <h> are voiceless and aspirated.

<r> is the alveolar tap /4/. <l> is the lateralized alveolar flap /l\/, as in colloquial Japanese "kyorokyoro".

/h/ is a rare phoneme, found only in loanwords, and to break up vowels in hiatus, where is is commonly articulated as the glottal stop [?].

Vowel Inventory

 i    y     u
 e          o

<a e i o u ı y> correspond to /a e i o u I }/.

The diphthongs /aj ej oj aw/, <ai ei oi aM> also exist. Historically, /ij/ and /uj/, <ij uj> also existed, but merged with /i/ and /}/ respectively. In some dialects, /ij/ is still a seperate phoneme, and so it is still romanized as <ij>

Historically, short /e/ and /i/ became lax /E/ and /I/, and /y:/ and /2:/ centralized to /}:/ and /3:/. Subsesequently, the distinction in vowel length was lost, /E/ merged with /I/, and /3:/ merged with /a/.

Syllable Structure

Basic syllable structure is C(w,j)VC, with no restrictions on medial clusters resulting from the final C of one syllable and the initial C of the other. Additionally, liquid+(stop or fricative) or nasal+stop at the same place of articulation is acceptable in the final position.

Sound Changes

The following are the contents of the file I used with Zompist's Sound Change Applier program. Some of the definitions are designed to get around the limitations of the program, or to make the output appear in Zhai's orthography, and thus are not 'natural' sound changes. Additionally, there are some sound changes that I found too hard to include in the program, and so I will discuss them afterward.





















Breakup of Vowels in Hiatus

Most vowels in hiatus in Yaad have been broken up by the insertion of the phoneme /h/ between the two vowels. Except between an /i/ and another vowel, it is always articulated as a ['] in those instances.

Nominal Morphology


The plural is indicated by the regular prefix u(ph)-, which developed from analogical leveling of Yaad's plualizing prefixes op-/ov-/of-. Nouns in Yaad that underwent the oo > aa change in the plural have generally been regularized; exceptions are marked as such in the lexicon.


The ergative case is indicated by the phrase-final particle ur: sıxuphin ahuna ur zijsuk - "the girl defeats the king". Although it is generally called a case in Zhai grammars because of historical connotations in Yaad, it is more accurately described as a postposition.


Yaad's system of using suffixes to mark possession by a person has been reduced, and now only distinguishes between a noun that is posessed by the speaker, and one that is not posessed by the speaker:


Notably, the distinction between singular and plural non-speaker posession has been eliminated.

Comparative and Superlative

Yaad's comparative and superlative suffixes have been lost; the modifier zhe- (irregularly derived from yel, "very") has come to replace both of those forms, and in modern Zhai there is no distinction made between the comparative and superlative:

ziisuk zhebira, "braver king"


A wide variety of noun quantifiers have been developed in Zhai

  • ne-, "a small amount"
  • nejne-, "a substantial amount; many (with the plural)" (from nem nem, coliq. "some some")
  • is(u)-, "all"
  • ur(u)-, "every"

Verbal Morphology

Tense/Aspect Inflection

Almost all of Yaad's system of verbal inflection has been replaced, either by analytic constructions using auxuillary verbs, or by the fusion of formerly auxuillary verbs to the front of the verb. The sound-changed form of the Yaad verbal noun has become the only principle part of the Zhai verb.


Vowel or consonants in ()'s are left in or omitted, depending on whether a CV syllable is formed.

The present, preterite, imperfect, future and aorist tenses are formed from the addition of the verbs shi, "to be"; ika, "to do"; in, "was"; desh, "become"; and weed, "to stand", respectively. In some cases, the Optiative form of the auxuillary verb was used to form the optiative of the verbal complex as a whole. In other cases, the optiative prefix was added to the verbal noun.

The obligative mood can be added to any verb with the addition of the infix -eri-, from the Yaad verb weela, meaning "to rise". The form probably came out of the use of the analytic expression "to rise to [verb]".

The old Yād imperative has been lost, except in a very few irregular verbs, which are marked in the lexicon.. In other verbs, the imperative is simply the verb stem without any tense/aspect prefixes: ıvin! - "Speak!"

A sample conjugation table of the verb ıvin, "to speak"


The imperative, indicative, optiative, and obligative retain their Yaad meanings. The present tense is used to indicate either an action presently occuring, or a timeless state. The preterite/imperfect distinction is similar to that of Spanish- the former is used for a single past action, while the latter is used for ongoing past actions.


The passive construction in Yaad has been lost, since replaced by the Spanish-like use of the reflexive pronoun.

sıxushin zher ur atha - I am masturbating (myself).

Use of the copula

The Zhai copula is the irregular verb e. Unlike other verbs, the copula construction must always come between the subject and the predicate, and neither arguement takes the Ergative marker:

zea e zie -- "The goddess is my uncle" (a popular nonsensical phrase, from the chorus of a Zhai drinking song)

In all tenses except the present, the copula stem is ngin, of unknown origin:

zea khangin zie, jot ira e zijsuke - "the goddess was my uncle, now she is my king"



Yaad's triparte system of Normal/Ergative/Oblique/Vocative pronouns has been reduced to an Ergative/Oblique system. A distinction between masculine and femanine 3rd person pronouns has been developed by the addition of a final -a,by analogy from several masculine/femanine pairs such as dhyesk/dhyeska. A T/V informal/polite distinction has developed in the 2nd person, the former deriving from Yaad 2sg dhoor and the latter from the 2pl dhogru. There is no longer a number distinction made in the second person, except by informal and not-yet grammatical synthetic constructions like "you ones".


It occured that the 1pl and 3pl Oblique forms came to sound alike, as /ojn/, in early Zhai. The form ıvojn comes from the construction ev ojn, "we men" that was used to distinguish it from the 3pl ojn.

The reflexice pronoun atha is a foreign loanword with no ergative form. It is used to indicate that a subject perfoms the action on itself, and thus cannot be the subject of a sentence. It is also used in verb constructions to indicate the passive.


Word Order

Standard Zhai word order is VSO, Verb-Subject-Object.

Constituent Order

All modifiers except prepositional phrases must preceed the noun: xız zijsuk - "great king", but zijsuk thijn sıdushin abıngan - "the king that wanted to cry".

Relative clauses

A relative clause is formed by adding the clause after the head noun, proceeded by the preposition thijn, "for". If the relative clause's verb has the same tense and mood of the head verb, the tense/mood prefixes may be omitted for the noun in the clause. A pronoun refering back to the head noun is mandatory, except in very informal, slangy speech:

khanabıngin zea thijn ngashebin nitenor ur ına -

PRET-cry goddess-OBL for denounce prophet-ERG her-OBL

The Goddes who the prophet denounced cried"

An apposative clause (a clause where where the present-tense copula is the verb, and the subject of the copula is the same as the head noun) uses ngin instead of the expected e, and the preposition thijn is dropped:

khanıvin sı Shengan ur xız zijsuk, ngin zijsuk et Kod
PRET-speak thus-OBJ Shengan-ERG great king COPULA king of Kod
"Shengan the great king, who is the king of Kod, spoke thus


This lexicon follows the order and structure of the Yaad Lexicon (, to facilitate the spotting of cognates. Words that con quesa has added are marked with a *.


abıngin [ābiñin] - to cry

abızhin [abejin] - to make

bızhin [babezhin] - to name

bıshin [beshin] - to attack

rızhin [bilezhin] - to send

sıhin [chiin] - to curse, insult

*deshin - to become

*dushin - to want

dwin [dwin] - to drink

e [ē] - to be, irreg.

*gorin - to marry

*taluhin - to sit

ıbin [ebin] - to rest

ıdarin [edalin] - to fuck (vulg.)

enzıbin [enzebin] - to insult, belittle

*ıkhin [*ikin] - to do

ıvin [evin] - to say

ıvingorin [evingorin] - to befriend

*homijnin - to conquer

*hin - to not {verb}

*xufin - to cause to rise

xıbıvin [hebevin] - to wake up

xıvin [hevin] - to drink

xushin [huchin] - to masturbate

xuphin [hupin] - to defeat

*ngashebin - to denounce

ıbin [ibin] - to freeze

*khevin - to belittle

zhin [jin] - to pull

zızhin [jijin] - to throw

muzhin [mujin] - to protest

mijzazhin [myezajin] - to celebrate

nungin [nuñin] - to go

nushin [nushin] - to die

rıshin [rechin] - to hear

rurin [rulin] - to love

sıphin [sepin] - to give

sozhin [sōjin] - to begin

thıvin [tevin] - to err

thorzhin [toljin] - to shine

uroshin [ūlochin] - to forget

nızhin [vnezhin] - to pray

*wedin [*wēdin] - to stand

*zhikhur - to worship (from [zhīkur] + -in)

*zhontin - to capture

People, Family and Society

ahuna [aūna] - girl

ziph [dhīp] - child

zijsuk [dhyesk] - king

zijsuka [dhyeska] - queen

zijsukar [dhyeskal] - kingdom

egar [ēgar] - enemy, foe

*thamakeru - nobleman

ıv [ev] - man

*ıva - woman

*ilinta - mistress

ısuk [ithk] - whore

garsy [gāls] - border

gor [gōr] - friend (pl. ugar)

zhir [jīl] - scribe

mıxan [mehān] - baker

mixyt [mīht] - brother

mız [miz] - father

moj - [mō] - person

mjena [myen] - mother

om [ōm] - sister (pl. uphom)

oph [ōp] - country-dweller

oz [ōz] - city-dweller

*kajrel - throne

*bjanthor - year (a half loan-translation of "several moons" from a neighboring language)

zhozh [yōj] - prisoner (pl. uzhazh)

zhem [zhēm] - neighbor

zi [zī] - uncle


zea [dhē] - goddess

ıbun [ebūn] - heretic

ıriz [elīz] - temple

ruzur [lūzur] -

nej [neg] - God

uzod [ovzōd] - celebration, feast

ryngkh [rünk ] - false prophet, deceiver

*nitenor - prophet

zakhir [zakīr] - priest

*zakhira - priestess

zynder [zü] - tradition -


bira [bīra] - brave

zudin [dhūdin] - holy

zuz [dhūz] - white

*zuzgarv - old (from dhūz + garv, "old-white")

gesun [gēsun] - powerful

gesus [gēsus] - nearby

*xigarv - blue

xigun [hīgun] - evil

*xireho - hostile

xiz [hīz] - large, great

mır [mel] - shining

nıfan [nefan] - red

  • thojsha - brown

nejmuz [nemūz] - dirty

ug [oig] - black

ryrz [rülz] - foreign

yb [üb] - green

urzo [ulzū] - cold

*sultis - yellow

ym [üm] - bright

uv [ūv] - happy

vezıs [vējis] - chilly

Parts of the body, human functions

*shomekh - hand

ıdzan [edzan] - penis

mıv [mev] - mouth

urzı [ulzi] - word

vephur [vēpur] - strength

ijshan [yechan] - arm


abaz [ābaz] - fish

bijr [byer] - goat (sl. homosexual)

xıhu [hiu] - rabbit

xor [hōr] - sheep

uxar [ofhā] - sheep (pl.)

xe [hwē] - mouse

ıkh [ik] - cat

zhezhy [jēj] - flea

ri [lī] - fox

moj [moi]

neraph [nēlap] - pet

nıru [nerru] - horse

*mikysakh - snake

ri [rī] - fox

shoj [shoi] - dog

vy [vü] - ox

zısan [zethan] - pig

Weather, the Sky and Landscape

ıfru [eflu] - rain

*anazi - light

*nandho - wind

ij [īy]

ijkhad [īykād]

ka - way, road, path

khin [kīn] - star

rıs [les] - land, earth

mıran [melan] - ice

thor [tōl] - moon

zejm [zem] - sun

zi [zī] - star

Adverbs and Particles

zır [dhel] - conj. "but"

gı [geb] - last year

xur [hul] - when

u [ō] - intj. "oh"

sı [sheb] - thus

un [un] - and

*jot - now

*hax - intj. "alas"


et [ē] - of

ega [ēga] - against

ır [el] - without

xej [he] - out of

ır [il] - to, towards

ırnu [ilnu] - before, in front of

ni [nī] - in, within

phin [pin] - with (comitative)

uv [uv] - on, upon

*stara - for the benefit of

wen [wen] - made of

zha [yö] - as, in the manner of

*ngiti - for the purpose of, in order to



1.zı [ji]

2.ij [ye]

3.zuzo [zūzū]

4.vı [ve]

5.dun (from dūn, "hand")

6.ıs [is] [men]

8.xız [hwedh]

9.ngır [ñel] [rū]


1st. ruzı [lūji]

2nd. ruij [lūye]

All other ordinal numbers are formed by the addition of the prefix da-, of unknown origin. Eg. "Sxith" is dahıs, "tenths" daro.

Sample Text

Yaad Text

Ēvin sheb Shenkan, dhyesk hīz, dhyesk ē les ē Kōd, mīht ē Zem un ē Tōl:

Ilnu ye ēbin uv ūbach ē mīzē, iz dhyeskal rülz in hīgun il yen. Ovdhyeskal rülz gēsus ēviv sheb: "Mīzā ēn dhyesk bīra". Ēr hūpin ovdhyeskal ēgar. Un e den yö neg. Dhel ēsh yö dhīp e yö ebin uv ūbach ē mīzā.

Hul ye ēbin uv ūbach ē mīzē, mīht ē Zem un ē Tōl, ilnu ye nun il ovdhyeskal rülz eg öz hīgun il yen, ye kādūv nun il ovzōd ē Ūpē. Yēr myezāgan sheg un hebēvan dūnē il myen mel. Ye ēvin sheb: "Ō, Ithkē, ō kīn ē ovzī, wepnāpiv yen ovdhyeskal gēsusur egru öz bābizhin il yen yö dhīp. Un egru sōdiv beshin ovgāls ē lēsaug dhūdin, ō Ithkē! Kādedhūdin enzēba!

Ūpēur rētan opulzi ē mēvē. Ēr wēlan yen un sēpin vēpur il yechānē. Yēr hūpin ed ladh rū ōn eg öz mujin ēg yen.Yēr hūpin ōn. Yēr evyan opyāj un ovvü un ofhār un yēr bilēzan ōn il les ē Kōd.

Zhai Text

khanıvin sı Shengan ur xız zijsuk, ngin zijsuk et Kod, ngin mixyt et zejm un thor
PRET-speak thus-OBJ Shenkan great king, COPULA king of Kod, COPULA brother of sun and moon Shenkan, the great king, the king of the land of Kōd, brother of the sun and the moon, spoke thus:

ırnu wetaluhin zher uv kajrel et mıze, hax! Ryrz isuhuzijsukar wengin xireho ır zher
before IMPERF-sit I-OBJ on throne of father-1sg:POS alas foreign all-PL-kingdom IMPERF-COPULA hostile to I
Before I sat on the throne of my father, alas! All the foreign kingdoms were hostile towards me

khanıvin gesus ryrz uzijsukar ur sı: "Mızaj khangin bira zijsuk. Hax! Khahomijnin er egar uzijsukar
PRET-speak nearby foreign PL-country ERG thus: father-non1s:POS PRET-COPULA brave king alas PRET-conquer 3sg:MASC:ERG enemy PL-country
The nearby foreign countries spoke thus: "His father was a brave king. Alas! He conquered many enemy countries
Note: substantives can modifty other substantives with relative freedom in Zhai; c.f. "egar uzijusukar", lit. "enemy countries"

Un ın khadeshin nej.
and 3sg:MASC:OBLIQ PRET-become God
And he becme a god.
Note: the verb deshin, "to become" uses the same arguement structure as the copula

zır phin daka ın thijn sıtaluhin ın uv kajrel et mıze e ziph"
but with luck 3sg:MASC:OBLIQ for PRES-sit 3sg:MASC:OBLIQ upon throne of father:1sg:POS COPULA child
But luckily, he who sits on the throne of his father is a child"

Xur wetaluhin zhe thijn sıngin zhe mixyt et zejm un et thor
when IMPERF-sit 1sg:OBLIQ for PRES-COPULA 1sg:OBLIQ brother of sun and of moon
When I who is the brother of the sun and the moon

ırnu khanungin zhe ır ryrz uzijsukar thijn ıru wengin xireho ır zhe
before PRET-go 1sg:OBLIQ to foreign PL-country for 3pl:OBLIQ IMPERF-COPULA hostile to 1sg:OBLIQ
before I went to the foreign countries that were hostile to me

uv khanungin zhe ır uzod et Upe
happy PRET-go 1sg:OBLIQ to feast of Upe
Happily I went to the feast of Upe
Note: Zhai makes no distinction between nouns and adverbs. "uv khanungin" is literally "happy went".

Khamijzazhin zher ojn stara zhe
PRET-celebrate 1sg:ERG 3pl:OBL BENEF 1sg:OBL
I celebrated them to my benefit

un khaxufin zher shomekhe ır mır mjena
and PRET-raise 1sg:ERG hand:1sg:POS to shining mother
And I rose my hand up to the shining mother

khanıvin sı zher: Ilintae ngin anazi et ukhin
PRET-speak thus 1sg:ERG mistress:1sg:POS COPULA light of PLUR-star
I spoke thus: My mistress, who is the light of the stars

sıenzıbingesus zhe gesus uzijsukar ur thijn bızhin zhe ıru zha ziph
PRES-belittle 1sg:OBL nearby PL-country-ERG for name 1sg:OBL 3pl:ERG as child
The nearby countries who name me as a child belittle me

Un sısozhin bıshin ıru garsy et zudin rısaj et lojku!
and PRES-begin attack 3sg:ERG border of holy land-NONSPEAKER:POS of you:POL
And they begin to attack the border of your holy land!
Note: the "et lojku" clarifies that the land belongs to Upe, since the possessive -aj is no longer specific enough. It is however still mandatory

Nushin zory uxigunzhakh!
die 2sg:POL:ERG PL-heathen
Kill you the heathens!"
Note: The use of zory, "you", is necessary to give an Ergative subject and give the verb it's transitive meaning, "to kill"

Kharıshin Upe ur uphurzı et mıve
PRET-hear Upe-ERG PL-word of mouth-1sg:POS
Upe heard the words of my mouth"

Khaxufin ira zhe un khasıphin vephur ır ijshane
PRET-rise 3sg:FEM:ERG 1sg:OBL and PRET-give strength to arm-1sg:POS
She rose me up and gave strength to my arm

Khahomijnin zher ojn thijn muzhin ıru zhe ni ro ubjantor
PRET-conquer 1sg:ERG 3sg:OBL for protest 3sg:ERG 1sg:OBL within ten PL-year
I conquered those who protested me within ten years

Khezhontin zher un nejneuzhazh nejneuri nejneuxor
I captured many prisoners, oxen and sheep
Note: The repeated use of the modifier nejne- is very formal, as is the placement of the word un, "and" at the begining of the sequence of things

un kharızhin zher ojn ır Kod
and PRET-send 1sg:ERG 3pl:OBL to Kod
And I sent them back to the land of Kod

English Translation

Shenkan, the great king, the king of the land of Kōd, brother of the sun and the moon, spoke thus:

Before I sat on the throne of my father, alas! all the foreign countries were hostile towards me. The nearby foreign countries spoke thus: "His father was a brave king. Alas! he conquered many enemy countries. And he became a god. But luckily, he who sits on the throne of his father is a child."

When I, brother of the sun and moon, sat on the throne of my father, before I went to the foreign countries which were being hostile towards me, happily I went to the feasts of Ūpē. I celebrated them to my benefit, and I rose my hand to the shining mother. I spoke thus: "My mistress, light of the stars, the nearby countries who name me a child belittle me. And they begin to attack the border of your holy land, my mistress! Strike the heathens down!"

Ūpē heard the words of my mouth. She rose me up and she gave strength to my arm. I conquered those who rose against me in ten years. I conquered them. I captured many prisoners, oxen and sheep, and I sent them back to the land of Kōd.

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