Oxún rrxat östrrt n ngut čírtn xor.
— Proverb in Urngut Tamgatai

Urngut is an ancient language, primarily spoken by Dru'un Tribes and other mountain-dwellers. Because of isolation, Urngut has split into hundreds of mutually unintelligble dialects and are more or less fully fledged, unique languages that all share a common root. The largest of these dialects is Urngut Tamgatai, the official language of the mountain tribes of Hakr'Næka.

Urngut is characterised by many guttural sounds, particularly fricatives like /χ/. Speakers of Urngut have a habit to swallow vowels and the language itself has a "clipped" sense to it, with many tight consontant clusters ending words. The most difficult thing to get used to is the alveolar lateral fricative /ɬ/, the "l" sound which is similar to the tlh from Qaj, but without the initial t, and sometimes with added voicing.

Difficult to learn

Urngut languages are notoriously difficult to learn for non-native speakers because of the tight vowel space. In spelling, Urngut languages have many vowels, but the sounds actually produced in the language when spoken are, to the untrained ear, very similar. The base i, e, a and o sounds are all easy to distinguish, but there are many variants of the sounds that all carry meaning and must be clearly pronounced in order to convey the correct meaning.

Grammar and structure

Urngut languages are all fusional, meaning they tack on inflections on their words to denote things like time, place, person and other grammatical functions. In difference from agglutinative languages, these morphemes "fuse" to form new inflections, rather than being tacked onto one another. This is another feature that makes Urngut difficult to learn for an outsider, as there are an absolute myriad of suffixes and affixes to learn in order to both understand and speak clearly.

Phonology and phonotactics

All the urngut languages share most of their phonology, with each dialect shifting vowel sounds and stress somewhat. The phonetic inventory of Urngut languages is clipped, sharp and incorporate a few guttural fricatives that give them their characteristic growling and crunchy sound, as its present in many, many words and stems. It also uses hard trilled r-sounds as well as several ejectives, further giving it a punchy, clipped feel.

Vowels, closeness and length

Vowel sounds are comprised mainly of a, o, u, e and i and varieties of them. Doubling a vowel generally indicates that the vowel sound is closer than it would indicate. One example is Dulzuun /dɔltsu:n/ where the doubled /u/ is lengthened and also shifted to a closer pronounciation (/u/ instead of /ɔ/).

This isn't entirely consistent as some vowel markers exist that shift the closeness/openness of vowels without doubling, and there are length markers as well in writing that operate outside of the number of vowels, but doubling is the safest option. If you see a double vowel in Urngut languages, you can almost guarantee that the vowel is pronounced with greater closeness than the "default" sound.

Writing system

The many dialects of Urngut, including Tamgatai, are written with a similar script, top-to-bottom, left-to-right and is a mostly phonetic script. There are simplifications in the script, so all variations of vowel sounds aren't represented exactly and dialects can shift vowel sounds outside of what can be perfectly represented in writing.

Paired consonants

Vowels can be alone in the script, meaning they can appear without an accompanying consonant, but consonants are always bound to a vowel, either preceeding it or following it. For instance, you can't just write "t" in Urngut, It has to be "ta" or "at", if bound to "a". Similar to "to" or "ot", if bound to o.

This is because each grapheme (letter) represents either a lone vowel or a vowel-consonant pair. The vowel-first pairs generally only appear at the end of words which end in a consonant sound, rather than in the middle of words.

Successor Languages
Spoken by
Common Sounds and spelling
/χ/ /x/ - x (Loch)
/ɬ/ - l, hl or lh
/tç/ - č
  Family names
Dzing Törr (Soaring Bird)
Khöv Buug (Brave Goat)
Mönkh Mand (Shaggy Bear)
Mönkh Tsing (Roaring Bear)
  Feminine names
  Masculine names

Related Reading

Organization | Jan 12, 2021

The Mountain Realm of Næka

Dru'un Tribes
Organization | Jan 12, 2021

The tribal Dru'un are a collection of primitive species who populate the world of Arjin and they are distrustful, aggressive and insular.

Næka Mountains
Geographic Location | Jan 14, 2021

The giant mountain range that splits Arjin into the frigid north and the fertile south, stretching from the west coast to the east coast.

Articles under Urngut


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Grandmaster KajetanWrites
Kajetan Krakowiak-Świątnicki
29 Dec, 2020 11:41

Conlangs always impress me. I don't have the patience for making them nor the ear to catch the specific sounds

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
29 Dec, 2020 21:07

I love the little details you have that distinguish this language from others. Just the notes on the sounds and writing are enough to bring it to life.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
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