Retrougan Language in Wouraiya | World Anvil
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Writing System

Retrougan may have had a writing system in the past. Petroglyphs in the southern regions of Retrougo indicate faint traces of Yukuric script, but it's difficult to tell whether it was the work of a tribesman from Retrougo or graffiti from an explorer from a Yukuric city-state. Yukuric script varied slightly between the various factions of Yukur, and the script changed greatly since the collapse of their agricultural systems and sedentary lifestyle. If it is Yukuric, one can only vaguely guess at what it tried to say. That's more than advocates for the alternative could provide; none of the Yukuric characters have known correspondence to consonants or vowels in Retrougan. The many dialects of Retrougan make it further impossible to indicate the language that was written. It remains an unknowable topic of debate among historians to this day.

The easiest way to write Retrougan is to use the corresponding alphabet of Traveller's Tongue, but the Keyrit and Ugo-yt Empires both tried to apply the Wokaiya writing system to Retrougan. Unfortunately for them, Wokaiya's phonetic-syllabic structure is largely too rigid to include all of the consonants and vowels of Retrougan. To remedy this, the characteristic straight lines of Wokaiyan script instead use curved and squiggly lines to represent more characters. While Wokaiya's script is designed to handle multiple consonants and vowels in each character, the single-consonant, single-vowel nature of most Retrougan syllables thankfully mitigate the complexity of the hybrid script.

The resultant script looks almost nothing like its predecessor. Each character is the hybrid of two (occasionally three) intersecting lines, seemingly more artistic than practical. The point where each line intersects, the length of each line, and the style of each line provide vital information for what phonetics are said.

Geographical Distribution

Retrougan is not as much one specific language as an amalgamation of dozens of different languages and the commonality between them. As one goes from east to west or north to south, the language of different tribes makes slight changes in its phonology and morphology, to the point where the dialect on one side of Retrougo is incomprehensible by tribespeople on the other. To complicate things further, certain tribes migrate more than others. One tribe crosses Retrougo and clashes with a tribe that doesn't speak the same language. In peacetime, trade and diplomacy force the tribes to fuse their languages together to communicate. Rather than returning to an "average" language mimicking central tribes, this hybrid is a different animal altogether, both from the average and from the previous languages.

Hence Retrougo is a language as unruly as the tribespeople who speak it. While Zjazzle is a difficult language to learn, updates to the language are quickly spread and adopted among the nomadic tribes of Yatkaugo. Retrougan is the opposite. It is easy to learn, but its nuances make it almost impossible to master. The layman can assemble a dictionary and grammatical structure and do well enough. To be able to speak to specific tribes as one of their own requires true mastery.

Unfortunately, while the central tribes speak the most universal language, they aren't the tribes most outsiders meet on a regular basis. The T'kakou (later the Ugo-yt Empire) interact broadly with the westernmost tribes, while everyone else interacts with the southernmost. These tribes are large and relatively sedentary but reflect the whole of Retrougo rather poorly. The Ugo-yt Empire spent a frustrating century in failure trying to rule Retrougo without force, simply because they erroneously thought that they only needed one dialect to manage it. Dissident tribes could spot an imperial bureaucrat almost instantly.


It is quite rare to see two consonants side by side in any variant of Retrougan. The term "Retrougo" comes from the T'kakou language; while it technically fits within the limitations of most Retrougan dialects, the locals tend to use either "Retougo" or their own name for the land. While "Onepuwa" is a common name for the area, surprisingly "Retougo" is more universal among the tribes thanks to the dialect changes.

Another commonality across Retrougan dialects is that they generally don't use the same vowel before and after a consonant. Consonant pairs are the exception to this rule, if only because they often derive from foreign words that never fit the language rules of Retrougo. This rule applies not just within words but also between words. The second letter of a word doesn't share the last letter of the previous word if both are vowels. Alternatively, the second to last letter of a word doesn't share the first letter of a word if both are vowels.


Besides the base word, the flavors of Retrougan attach a prefix to a verb depending on whether a singular object/individual acts or multiple groups act. While Wokaiya uses suffixes to demonstrate possession or position of a noun, Retrougan uses prefixes. The most common language uses "Eid-" to denote possession, and this prefix has spread to most corners of the continent. However, as T'kakou became fashionable in the west, "Eid-" was replaced with the T'kakou "Yt-", even though it wasn't located in the same place as dictated by T'kakou rules. Simultaneously, and for similar reasons, the southern dialects of Retrougan adopted Wokaiya's "Yi."

Unique to Wouraiya's languages is the usage of infixes, which usually determine the tense of the verb but could also determine conditions (the equivalents to the helping verbs "could," "would," and "should" of Traveler's Tongue). The lack of complex syllables in Retrougan ensure that nearly all verbs have at least two syllables. If that's the case, the infix is placed just before the final syllable of the root word. In the rare instance that the verb has only one syllable, the infix becomes a prefix, still adhering to the prescribed placement before the "final" root syllable.


Oddly enough, there is no tense in Retrougan that indicates the present. Rather, there are three tenses for the past (representing the immediate past, the continuous past, and the far past), and the same for the future. These infixes are commonly used as follows:

"-ta-": Far past
"-po-": Continuous past
"-si-": Immediate past
"-wu-": Immediate future
"-ke-": Continuous future
"-ny-": Far future
While the immediate past and future are often interchangeable with each other and the nonexistent present, the immediate future is commonly considered to be the more formal of the two options in most dialects.

Tense is often considered to be more fluid and hybridized than other elements of Retrougan language. While generally only one verb and thus one tense occupy a single clause, a sentence can be occupied by verbs of different tenses. The general rule is that two verbs used in conjunction with each other must must be adjacent to each other. For example, the far past "-ta-" might be used in conjunction with the continuous past "-po-" but will never be used with the immediate past "-si-". While "-si-" and "-wu-" might be used in conjunction with each other to describe the present, "-wu-" will never be used alongside "-po-", just as "-si-" will never be used alongside "-ke-". Outsiders used this disassociation to piece together a chronological hierarchy with regards to verb tense.

Among the Retrougans themselves, there is a set of guidelines to determine tense meaning. While a sentence including all of one tense is generally regarded as belonging to the time zone which that tense represents, it can sometimes be difficult to understand if, for example, "-wu-" represents just the immediate future or a formal, loose adherence to the present. Context usually provides the answer. To remedy that example, those who speak Retrougan will often tether sentences using "-wu-" to a verb containing "-ke-" to ensure that they are speaking strictly of the future rather than the present. If they were in fact speaking of the present, they would instead involve verbs with the infix "-si-".

It is a common mistake for outsiders to hybridize the infixes themselves rather than the sentence structure in which the verbs reside. To clarify, the infixes "-sipo-", "-posi-", "-siwu-" "-wusi-", "-wuke-", and "-kewu-" bear no meaning to the Retrougans, despite the intention of outsiders to clarify their tense. Quite to the contrary, these hybridizations more often than not corrupt the verbs they describe. For example, if the verb is "tawu" ("to eat") and the tense is the immediate past, the outsider hybrid "tasipowu" would not mean "I have just eaten." Rather, the root verb would be "tasiwu" ("to combust"), so "tasipowu" in Retrougan means "I have continuously been set on fire."

Sentence Structure

In Retrougan dialects, the verb and the subject are as far apart from each other as verbally possible. The singular verb, even if it's a simple passive verb, starts at the very front of the sentence. The details describing the verb, either adverbs or adverbial phrases, follow immediately thereafter. The direct object and the indirect object lie in the middle, then adjectives, then finally the noun.

Adjective Order

Adjectives have either the suffix "-ka" or the suffix "-ak" depending on whether a vowel or a consonant ends the root word. Even if there is no respective root word in Retrougan's lexicon, the adjective is still defined by its suffix. 

Adjectives are rather rare in Retrougan, nearly to the point of being nonexistent. Rather, nouns are fused together with each other to make more descriptive nouns. Nouns in general have the same weight to them and so can be used in any order. For example, "red ball" in another language would be "red-ball" or "ball-red" in Retrougan, where "red" is not considered an adjective but rather a noun. "Red-ak ball" would be an instant giveaway that the speaker is an outsider.

Structural Markers

If there are no direct or indirect objects, or if it is otherwise difficult to tell when the descriptors for the verb end or the descriptors for the noun begin, it is common to insert a small, monosyllabic placeholder word between the two portions. "Ta" is the most common one, though the demand to alternate consonants and vowels and the demand to not surround consonants with the same letter mean that the placeholder word is subject to immense changes. Among the list of alternate placeholder words are "an," "ao," and "nan." These placeholder verbs not only clarify syntax within sentences but occasionally act as conjunctions between clauses. Hence, Retrougan is one of the few languages in Wouraiya with synonyms for conjunctions.

Between clauses that include nouns and verbs, the two conjuctions "pe/ep/epo/pep" and "mo/om/ome/mim" can be used to fuse independent clauses into more complex sentences. The clause after the "pe" is a subsidiary of the clause before the "pe," meaning that the first clause is the main portion of the sentence. Similarly, the clause after the "mo" is the main portion. "Mo" is usually more commonplace. There are no run-on sentences in Retrougan; a sentence can have as many clauses as desired (in fact, it's a common use in certain styles of Retrougan poetry). The one rule when it comes to these is that "pe" and "mo" cannot share the same sentence, meaning that clause importance and centrality can only flow in one direction.

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2 Jan, 2023 14:27

Very nice attenion to details! I'd love to see some more examples, maybe a sentence or two that tell us something culturally important. The missing present tense is intriguing. I wonder what characteristics the immediate future (and past) tense has in practise, that makes it possible to categorise it as definitely a future tense that can also be used for present, rather than a present tense that is also used for immediate future?

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Benjamin B
6 Jan, 2023 01:04

I appreciate the recommendations! With regards to the immediate future, for example, one could imagine the English phrase "I am coming down for dinner (presently)," implying that you'll be down in a matter of moments. In Retrougan, it's "will come, down, for dinner, I" ("Asiwo tam ometu nan ke"), using the immediate future infix "-si-". The English equivalent of the immediate past tense might involve the word "just" as an adverb ("I just washed the dishes.") I'll reply to this post as soon as I can generate something I think you'd find satisfactory. Thank you for your patronage!

7 Jan, 2023 09:55

I understand what immediate future and past are, but I just wonder how they are used in the language, and how could the person observing the language can determine, that this form is in fact a future form sometimes used for present, or past for sometimes used for the present, and not a present form sometimes used for the future/past. As a conlanger you can know that, but what if you were a field linguist trying to observe the language and write a grammar?   For example, there could be something that all the three future tenses have in common, that justifies thinking that they are all future forms. Symmetry itself I think is one clue, exactly 3 forms for past and future is neat.

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Benjamin B
15 Jan, 2023 03:03

Thank you for clarifying. I think I understand now; you wanted a noticeable distinction between when (or if) these infixes indicated the present or when (or if) these infixes indicated the immediate past or future in a more practical, less theoretical sense.   I thank you for recommending uniform tense structures. While that is certainly both creative and a solution I wanted to make a solution strictly my own. Still, I believe I've answered your question in my section on tenses. Shortly put, when placed in context speakers often tether their verbs to verbs of a slightly different tense in order to clarify the original intention. For example, a sentence using mostly the immediate future might use one verb in the immediate past to tether their tense to the present, or alternatively use one verb in the immediate future to tether their tense to the future.   You make the best questions, so I'd love to hear any other questions you might have with regards to my conlang. Please tell me as well if you don't think it works. I understand that there might be ambiguity on a clause-by-clause basis, but I think that practical discussion will generally have enough clauses to make this work.