Vjin uses a flowing script derived from calligraphy. Each word is written from left to right in one continuous line barring diacritics, clicks, and whistle syllables. After each line, the overall writing direction alternates, but the writing direction within words remains left to right. Front and back consonants use the same base symbol with the corresponding back consonant marked by a simple line diacritic. High tones use a taller variant of the symbol for the neutral tone, while low tones use the same symbol flipped below the baseline. The table below shows the vowels and regular consonants of the writing system. Where two characters are shown, the character on the left is used at the start of words. <currently being updated> Whistle characters use a system related to musical notation. Short dashes are written in three possible positions, with ticks above for raising the tone and ticks below combined with a slight lengthening of the dash to indicate long whistles (i.e. two whistles of the same tone in sequence). The middle height (denoting neutral tone) does not take the raising notation. To integrate whistle symbols into writing, lead-in and lead-out connectors are used. When whistle sounds are written as part of a word containing other characters, the connecting marks are used at all points where whistle symbols are next to regular characters. Punctuation directly adjacent to whistle characters also always causes a connector to be used inbetween. Standalone whistle-only words are followed by a connecting mark, though there may be one on either side if the word is preceded directly by punctuation. In some cases, the connecting mark on standalone whistle-only words without any punctuation may also be moved to the beginning for aesthetic reasons.
|Stop||d /d/||g /ɡ/|
|Fricatives||z /z/||j /ʑ/|
|Click||t /ǀ/||x /‼/|
TonesThe language uses tones with most of its phonemes. Tones are often omitted in transliterations intended for audiences not familiar with the language. There are three classes of tones:
Vowel TonesThe vowel tone system applies to a and i and uses three tones; neutral, low and high. In the transliteration, these tones are notated as diacritics:
|High||á /á/||í /í/|
|Neutral||a /ā/||i /ī/|
|Low||à /à/||ì /ì/|
Consonant TonesSome of the consonants can also have tones added. By default, consonants take the pitch of the nearest vowel in the same syllable, but an added tone emphasizes the consonant and raises its pitch above that of the vowel. The possible consonant tones are as follows:
- ń: /n̄/, /ń/, /n̋/
- ź: /z̄/, /ź/, /z̋/
- j́: /ʑ̄/, /ʑ́/, /ʑ̋/
Whistle TonesFinally, the whistle consonant has five distinct pitches. There are two common ways of notating this in the transliteration:
PhonotacticsVjin has two distinct syllable structures. One consists exclusively of 1-5 whistle sounds, while the other does not include any whistle sounds and has the following structure:
- C1 is any of d /d/, g /g/, z /z/, j /ʑ/, t /ǀ/, or x /‼/.
- C2 is any of n /n/, z /n/, j /ʑ/, or r /r/. If C1 is present and is a fricative, C2 cannot also be a fricative.
- V is either vowel.
- C3 is n /n/ or r /r/.
VerbsVerbs in Vjin always have a root with three vowels, the tones of which are used for declination. Declinations are made according to the following table:
|First Vowel||3rd person||1st person||2nd person|
Aspect and MoodVjin marks verbs with a suffix that combines aspect and mood. The suffix must also agree in number, as shown in the tables below.
- Imperfective - indicating an action in progress or a state
- Perfective - indicating an action viewed in its entirety
- Attenuative - used to diminish the importance of an action
- Experiential - used to signify the experience of the speaker
- Indicative - indicating known fact
- Optative - expressing a wish or desire of the speaker
- Hypothetical - expressing a hypothetical or assumed situation
NounsNouns have a root of at most two vowels and never end in an open syllable with a single vowel. Tones are not directly used for any kind of declination and may distinguish between similar words. Nouns are marked with a suffix which is defines both case and number. The following number categories exist:
- Collective Inclusive - a coherent group of people including the speaker
- Collective Exclusive - a coherent group of objects or people not including the speaker
- Plural - any group of objects or people
CasesAbsolutive and Ergative Vjin features Ergative alignment. The actor of an intransitive verb construction and the direct object of a transitive verb construction are both marked by the absolutive case, while the actor of a transitive verb is marked by the ergative case.
ántaíri ín jáiìngja
ántaí-ERG-SG I-ABS speak-3.P-SG-PAST-PERF
Ántaí spoke to me
Dative The dative is primarily used to mark indirect objects.
ship-ABS moon-DAT-SG fly-3.P-SG-FUT
the ship will be flying to the moon
Genitive The genitive marks one noun as modifying another, and is often used to mark possession.
Perlative The perlative case is primarily used to mark movement through a location or medium, but is also used similar to an instrumentative for more abstract concepts such as languages.
ship-ABS-PL space-PERL fly-3.P-SG-PRES
the ships are flying through space
ántaíri ín vjínar jáiìngja
ántaí-ERG-SG I-ABS vjin-PERL speak-3.P-SG-PAST-PERF
Ántaí spoke Vjin to me
Vocative The vocative case is used when addressing people.
ántaí-VOC-SG I-ABS vjin-PERL speak-3.P-SG-PAST-PERF
Ántaí, (you) spoke Vjin to me
The markings for all combinations of case and number are shown in the table below. Consonants in parentheses are omitted if the noun ends in a consonant.
|Singular||Coll. Inc.||Coll. Ex.||Plural|
AdjectivesUnlike verbs and nouns, adjectives are not declined. The phonetic structure of adjectives is identical to that of nouns.
NegationNegation of verb phrases uses the hypothetical mood and the verb aii (to not do, to refuse).
speak-2SG-PRES-HYP-IMPERF not do-2SG-PRES-OPT-IMPERF
I wish that you were not speaking (= please be quiet)
ComparativesComparatives and superlatives in Vjin use the verb driaazrìn (to compare) using the hypothetical mood in combination with adjectives. The comparative "more <Adj>" takes the form <Adj> driaazrìndna <Adj> (lit. "if I were to compare to something <Adj>, it would be <Adj>"), while the superlative "the most <Adj>" takes the form <Adj> tnaì driaazrìndna <Adj> (lit. "if i were to compare to the entirety of <Adj>, it would be <Adj>"). Comparing two objects functions similarly; the construction "A is more <Adj> than B" takes the form B <Adj> driaazrìndna A <Adj>
Relative ClausesRelative clauses are formed by inserting a particle after the verb, followed by the noun which the relative clause is modifying. The particle used must match the noun in gender (see pronouns section below for a more detailed explanation) and the verb in time.
that day-DAT.SG wear-2SG-PST REL.PART mask
The mask you were wearing that day
Passive VoiceAs Vjin uses ergative alignment, the passive voice may be considered the default. As the absolutive case may be used for both the subject and the object, ambiguity can occur if the actor of a transitive verb is omitted. In these cases, an explicit passive clause without a specified actor may be formed using the special noun zá, which is always considered to be in the ergative case without any declension.
PASS.ACTOR mask wear-3SG-PRES
The mask is being worn.
QuestionsAll questions are prefixed with the verb nanaiav̌vv̂ in the optative mood, and followed by the particle náá. When no specific interrogative is used in the sentence, this results simply in a true/false question.
know-1.SG-OPT griavin-COLL.EX-ERG <UDSA>-ABS create-3.COLL-PST-PERF Q.PART
Did the Griavin found the UDSA?
InterrogativesInterrogatives are formed using the adjective ártni, which has no direct translation. This adjective is applied to whatever word is sought to be specified in the answer, with an arbitrary level of precision already applied.
Affirmatives & NegativesTo answer a yes/no question, the verb zaii (to agree) is used. Depending on politeness, different combinations of mood and aspect are used to signify different levels of politeness, as shown in the table below. The meanings of these expressions are closer to "I agree" and "I do not agree" than "yes" and "no", so their use is sometimes mistaken by native english speakers. Note that the Vjin analog to "no", while commonly translated as "I do not agree" and in practice having that meaning, literally translates to "I would like to agree".
PronounsPronouns in Vjin have the following categories:
- Gender: There are four gender categories corresponding to the three biological sexes of the griavin (male, female and jraní) as well as an unknown category. Note that the unknown category is explicitly for cases where the gender of a person is not known, rather than being a gender-neutral pronoun, and there are no nouns for objects which are used with this category. When referring to groups of multiple genders, jraní has the highest precedence, followed by female, with male at the lowest precedence. The unknown form in plural is only used for groups of people where the gender of no member of the group is known.
- Number: The number system follows the same system as nouns as described in the morphology section of this article, with the categories of singular, collective, and plural. Note that the collective inclusive/exclusive distinction is implicitly handled by the first/second/third person in the case of pronouns.
- Person: Vjin pronouns follow the common first person/second person/third person distinction.
- Formality: There are three levels of formality: informal, formal, and exalted. The exalted form is never used to refer to oneself, and as such no exalted first person pronouns exist.
- Ingroup/Outgroup: Vjin pronouns distinguish between people within the speaker's ingroup (typically referred to as the "swarm" for historical reasons) and those who are not. When talking about groups of people which include both ingroup and outgroup, the outgroup forms are used.
NumbersVjin numerals use a base-12 system. Digits are generally treated as nouns and may receive case markers, which apply as if they were singular regardless of the number.
- 13 (1112) → gir zín ia
- 24 (2012) → girna rá
- 156 (11012) → íjraír zín gir
- 311 (21B12) → írjaírna rá gir zín iran
- 727 (50712) → írjaírna ragi zín jiina
Counter AdjectivesWhen using numbers to indicate counts and measurements, the noun being counted takes a counter adjective, which depends on the word being counted or measured. In the case of measurements, this is typically the unit of measurement. Some examples of counter adjectives are shown below. Note that some situations may allow the use of multiple counter adjectives, and which of them is used can convey additional nuance.
|jaár||other forms of life (including plants)|
|àjáin||light objects (typically things light enough to be significantly affected by air currents)|
|ráaji||heavy objects (complement to the above category)|
|dzár||"day" (measurement of time which the UDSA Standard Date unit is based on)|
|nantìr||measurement of distance approximately equal to 1.62m|
Fractional NumbersFractions are formed simply by marking the corresponding number as a perlative. If the number consists of more than one word, only the final digit is declined. Fractions simply place then numerator after the denominator. Radix point notation is implemented similarly, with the digits in the absolutive case and the fractional exponents in the perlative. In this case, zín is always placed before the first non-integer digit. For example:
- 1/3 (1/312) → xirar
- 1/17 (1/1512) → gir zín ragijar
- 6/7 (6/712) → jiinajar nái
- 1.333... (1.412) → ia zín nííjar
- 21.125 (19.1612) → gir nian zín girar ia íjraírar rá
- gríav̀inta anní xàra - ten griavin
- iàgni dzár girna àtì zín níí - 100 UDSA Standard Date units (approx. one earth year)
- ántaí najíraiàngnaí zanxá nantìr ia zín girar jiina íjraírar ragi áaì - ántaí was 2.62m (1.7512 nantìr) tall
Ceremonial NumbersThere is a secondary number system used in some official documents, referred to as ceremonial numbers or administrative numbers (xìrgìnzianaà ríandjar), which are based on prime factorization. These numbers stem from a period in which multiplication was considered to be the more "proper" operation to base a numbering system on, leading to griavin high society introducing various complex systems for avoiding addition. While these systems have mostly fallen out of use, the ceremonial number system is still commonly seen in some documents for somewhat small numbers. In this system, words are assigned to prime numbers. Primes are multiplied together using genitive marking, with powers created using ergative marking similar to regular numbers. Non-prime powers are also constructed using prime factorization, leading to potentially very complex numbers. In the case of a constructed power, the particle jaín (with) is inserted at the start of the construction. Numerals are not used when writing ceremonial numbers, they are always written out phonetically. Books containing large lists of names for prime numbers were created during the time the system was created, leading to Vjin being the language with the most unique words for numbers currently known. Besides some of the one-digit primes preserving archaic forms of the corresponding digits, most of these ceremonial primes have names starting in àáj-.
- 6 → 2×3 → ránna ixir
- 8 → 2³ → ixira rán
- 16 → 22² → rána rána rán
- 90 → 2×3²×5 → ránna rána ixirna àájata
- 729 → 36 → jaín ránna ixira ixir
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