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Period c. 500 YP
Spoken in Zeluzhia
Total speakers unknown
Writing system unknown
Classification Isles
Basic word order SOV
Morphology fusional
Alignment NOM-ACC
Created by Radius

Kiizwaye is a member of the Isles languages. Together it and its close sister language Zele form a distinct branch of the Isles family, having diverged from each other at least eight centuries after the top-level division of the Isles family first emerged. Although the name is now a unitary ethnonym, it derives from proto-Zelic káy zuylúy, meaning "Mountain Zele". The following sketch dates to about 500 YP, at which time it is spoken in a hilly savanna region in the Zeluzhian interior. Its speakers are no longer in frequent contact with the Zele, but the language has traded numerous loanwords with other neighbors.

Development from proto-Isles

to proto-Zelic

The initial stage of Kiizwaye's history is from proto-Isles to proto-Zelic. Due to internal variation within the pre-proto-Zelic speech community, the list of sound changes is not identical between Zele and Kiizwaye even for the early period - but they are nevertheless so similar that a genetic relationship is undeniable.

  1. V1 → V2 / _(C)ħV2
  2. triple syllables haplologize to double
  3. d → l / medially
  4. ji → ʒi
  5. ħ → Ø / [+nasal]_
  6. ħ → h / _a
  7. ħ → ʁ
  8. gi → ji
  9. g → ɣ
  10. p t k s → b d g z / [+vcd]_[+vcd]
  11. s z → ʃ ʒ / except finally
  12. ʦ ʣ → s z

to Kiizwaye

  1. iw uj → ju wɛ / _C, _#
  2. wɛ → ɛ / if accented, or after a voiced labial
  3. ɣ → h / #_
  4. ʁ → ɣ
  5. wɛ → wa
  6. w → ɣ / _j
  7. aj aw → iː uː / _C, _#
  8. V[-long] → Ø / VC_# if third syllable or later
  9. [+nasal] → [+homorganic]
  10. ʔ → Ø
  11. s → Ø / [+nasal]_#
  12. l → ɣ / u_ or _C
  13. l → j
  14. a → ɛ / _Ciː, sporadically also _Ci
  15. Vː → V / finally, unless only syllable
  16. Cː → C
  17. ɣg → ɣ
  18. V1V2 → V1ː
  19. tw tj → pw kj
  20. ʃw ʃj → hw hj
  21. ʒw ʒj → ɣw ɣj
  22. sporadic ʃ ʒ → h ɣ / near other postalveolars, in unstressed environments

Irregular changes resulting from inter-dialect borrowing:

  • b → w / medially
  • syncopation of some unaccented first-syllable vowels

sound inventory


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops p b t d k g
Fricatives s z ʃ ʒ ɣ h
Nasals m n
Approximants w j


i iː u uː


  • The voiceless stops are aspirated as well. Unaspirated stops from other languages tend to be borrowed as voiced.
  • Nasals always assimilate to a following obstruent's point of articulation.
  • The long vowels /ɛː/ and /aː/ occur occasionally in morphological alternations, but are rarely found at the underlying level, save for certain borrowed words that have /aː/.
  • Diphthongs /wa/ and /ju/ behave like single segments in nominal ablaut, but other supporting arguments for such a status are largely lacking, so we will treat them as sequences in this sketch. All glide+vowel sequences are permitted.
  • Spelling: vowels are doubled to show length; sh zh represent /ʃ ʒ/; y for /j/; and r for /ɣ/.



Kiizwaye nouns inflect for four grammatical cases in addition to the bare root, which serves as a fifth case. The inflected cases are nominative, accusative, locative, and ablative, and the uninflected (default) case is the genitive. There are four different patterns for forming the nominative and accusative cases from the nominal root, broadly corresponding to roots with different coda consonants in proto-Isles. For this historical reason, we will here term the four noun declensions plain, Q, S, and R instead of giving them numbers - but it is important to note that the etymological correspondence is not perfect. A number of nouns have drifted between declensions over time, particularly those which now end in nasals. Only the nominative and accusative cases vary by declension; the locative and ablative cases are formed in the same manner for all nouns, varying only for shape of the noun stem.

The basic set of case suffixes:

nominative accusative locative ablative
suffix -zh, -zhi, or Ø -was, -wes, or -es -as or -ːs -ma or -m

A plural suffix exists in Kiizwaye as well, but it is best treated as a derivational operation rather than an inflection. We note it here only because all nouns with the suffix fall into the S-declension.

There exist some irregular nouns, which do not easily fit into any declension. Generally, roots which end in consonants other than /s r m n/ will be irregular, as will many monosyllabic roots, especially those which end in long vowels. Very recently borrowed nouns often don't inflect for case at all. Other than these groups, noun roots with shapes that appear to fit into a particular declension generally do, but a small number of them are irregular as well.

plain declension

The plain declension includes most nouns ending in vowels or nasals, and is the largest declension. The nominative is formed by suffixing -zh after a vowel, or -zhi after a nasal or if the root is monosyllabic. Final /m/ assimilates to form -nzhi. Additionally, some final vowels undergo ablaut before the suffix: yu, wa, and e become -izh, -uzh, and -uzh.

The accusative is formed by suffixing -wes to the root, or -es after /m/. If there is a final vowel of a or u these become uu before the suffix, while i becomes ii. This is the complementary vowel set to those which ablaut in the nominative, meaning that all vowel-final nouns in this declension undergo ablaut for the nominative or for the accusative but not both.

Example words:

root (genitive) nominative accusative
daya dayazh dayuuwes
dindi dindizh dindiiwes
ruru ruruzh ruruuwes
pume pumuzh pumewes
kishpyu kishpizh kishpyuwes
pwa puzhi pwawes
sasan sasanzhi sasanwes
kyugam kyuganzhi kyugames

Q declension

Nouns in the Q declension include the remainder of roots with final vowels or nasals. There is neither the -zh suffix nor any ablaut. The nominative is identical to the root, and the accusative simply suffixes -was, although this becomes -es after a root-final /m/. Loanwords typically are borrowed into the Q-declension.

Example words:

root (genitive) nominative accusative
sapu sapu sapuwas
sayun sayun sayunwas
riwim riwim riwimes

S declension

The S declension includes all, and only, noun roots ending in /s/. The nominative is formed by removing the s and suffixing -zh, or -zhi in monosyllables. The accusative changes the s to r, and suffixes -was. There is no ablaut.

Example words:

root (genitive) nominative accusative
punis punizh punirwas
panansus panansuzh panansurwas

R declension

All noun roots ending in r, and only those, belong to the R declension. The nominative is formed only by ablaut. Additionally, if the vowel in the root's penultimate syllable is /a/, this becomes /e/ (in the nominative only). Final-syllable ablaut follows this pattern:

  • ar, war, er, ir → ir
  • ur, yur → yur

The accusative is formed by suffixing -was and ablauting the root's last vowel according to a different pattern:

  • ar, ir → ur
  • ur, yur → uur
  • war and er stay the same

Example words:

root (genitive) nominative accusative
kagadar kagedir kagadurwas
wiinir wiinir wiinurwas
yinzhur yinryur yinzhuurwas
mahyur mehyur mahuurwas
yer yir yerwas

ablative and locative cases

The ablative is formed with the suffix -m, which replaces any root-final nasal. After any other consonant, or on monosyllabic roots, the suffix becomes -ma, and if the root has a final s this becomes zh before the suffix.

The locative is formed by suffixing -as after any consonant or -ːs after any vowel, where "ː" means lengthening the root's final vowel.

Full case table for selected nouns:

root (genitive) nominative accusative ablative locative
daya dayazh dayuuwes dayam dayaas
dindi dindizh dindiiwes dindim dindiis
ruru ruruzh ruruuwes rurum ruruus
pume pumuzh pumewes pumem pumees
sapu sapu sapuwas sapum sapuus
sayun sayun sayunwas sayum sayunas
riwim riwim riwimes riwim riwimas
punis punizh punirwas punizhma punisas
mahyur mehyur mahuurwas mahyurma mahyuras
yer yir yerwas yerma yeras