Loulanese language

Loulanese
Shanshanese
Kroraiññe / ཀྲོ་རཡྙ་ཉེ་
樓蘭語
Tocharian.JPG
Pronunciation[kroˈrəɪ̯ɲe]
Native toLoulan
EthnicityLoulanis
Native speakers
~18.3 million (2018)
3.7 million L2
Indo-European
Early forms
Tocharian C
  • Middle Loulanese
    • Early Modern Loulanese
DialectsSaka dialect
Latin script
Brahmic script
Han characters (unofficial)
Official status
Official language in
Flag of Loulan.png Loulan
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3xto
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The Loulanese language (Loulanese: Kroraiññe, pronounced [kroˈrəɪ̯ɲe]; Brahmic script: ཀྲོ་རཡྙ་ཉེ་), also known as the Shanshanese language, is an Indo-European language with between 18 and 19 million speakers, which is primarily spoken by the Loulanis. Communities of Loulanese speakers exist in China, but the vast majority of Loulanese speakers are found in Loulan, where the Loulanis are the majority and the language holds official status.

Loulanese represents what is possibly the last extant member of the Tocharian branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It is of interest to linguists, as it falls on the centum side of the centum-satem isogloss, which contradicts the previously held assumption that the isogloss was the result of an east-west phylogenetic divison within Indo-European.

Modern Loulanese has developed over a period spanning at least 2,400 years, with some estimates placing the separation of Proto-Tocharian from Proto-Indo-European as far as 4,000 years before present. The earliest forms of the language were brought to the area by migratory Indo-European-speaking pastoralists, who settled in the harsh region of the Tarim basin, where the land was unsuitable for the agricultural methods practiced by the surrounding peoples at the time. The oldest attested manuscripts in a Tocharian language date to the 4th century, making it a language of Late Antiquity, on par with Late Latin.

Standard Loulanese is not a tonal language, but some regional varieties have developed tonal registers. The written language is highly conservative, being based upon Classical Loulanese and retaining a great deal of historic and etymological spelling. The verbal morphology of Loulanese is extremely conservative, and the language employs a system of 10 nominal cases.

Name

History

Geographic distribution

Dialects

Traditionally recognised dialects of Loulanese
  Eastern Dialect
  Southwestern Dialect
  Ili dialect

Standard Loulanese as used in government and media is based on the language as it is spoken between Korla and Urapo; as such, the Eastern dialect group has the strongest affinities with the standard variant of the language, often being indistinguishable from cultured speech. The Southwestern dialect group, while divergent in manners of pronunciation and using some vocabulary that would be unusual in the standard language and Eastern group, is more accurately described as a regional accent than a separate dialect. The Ili dialect group of Kazakhstan is further from the standard, simplifying consonant clusters and undergoing tonogenesis. Still, Ili dialects are largely mutually intelligible with other dialect groups, albeit with some difficulty.

Saka

The Saka dialect, spoken in the mountainous southwestern of the country by the Saka people, is in contrast extremely divergent from other Loulanese dialects; for this reason, it is often considered to be a separate language by linguists and language educators. This variety is not mutually intelligible with other varieties of the language, and Saka schoolchildren children must learn Standard Loulanese as a foreign language in order to participate in Loulanese education. Historically, Saka and mainstream Loulanese varieties were often mutually intelligible in writing by virtue of the widespread use of Chinese characters, but this has been largely negated by the adoption of the Latin script to the detriment of Chinese.

Phonology

Vowels

The Loulanese language has seven pure vowels and four diphthongs in its standard form and Eastern dialects. Southwestern dialects have monophthongised two of the diphthongs into new pure vowels, which are distinct from the existing monophthongs in Eastern dialects (Ili dialects, however, retain all diphthongs).

  Front Central Back
Close i
/i/
ä
/ɨ/
u
/u/
Mid e
/e/
a
/ə/1
o
/o/
Open   ā
/a/
 
  Closer component
is front
Closer component
is back
Opener component is unrounded ai
/əɪ̯/2
au /əʊ̯/2
āu /aʊ̯/
Opener component is rounded oy
/oɪ̯/
 

^ While the mid-central vowel of Loulanese is generally transcriibed as /ə/, its actual pronunciation has been described as /ɐ/ or /ɐ̝/.
^ In Southwestern dialects, /əɪ̯/ and /aʊ̯/ are generally pronounced as /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ respectively.

An additional vowel, /ɪ/, exists as an allophonic pronunciation of the consonantal letter y /j/ in situations where the consonantal pronunciation would be difficult or impossible, i.e. between two consonants or at the beginning of a word before a consonant.

The letters r and l are sometimes included with the vowels in their syllabic (/r̩/, /l̩/) pronunciation. They are sometimes written with a dot below as and respectively when syllabic, but this is nonstandard and considered erroneous.

Consonants

Loulanese's native consonant inventory contains no voiced stop consonants. There exists however a large body of non-native vocabulary in which voiced stops are retained in common pronunciation, and words are transcribed to reflect this. Many consonant letters are redundant, as Loulanese does not have any retroflex consonants, despite the Loulanese alphabet having letters to represent retroflexes in loanwords from Indo-Aryan languages and Eastern Iranian languages languages.

  Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Post-alveolar Alveolo-palatal Palatal Velar Uvular
Plosive p /p/
b /b/1
  t, /t/2
d, /d/1, 2
      k /k/
g /g/1
kụ /kʷ/
q /q/1
Affricate     ts /t͡s/ c /t͡ɕ/
j /d͡ʑ/1
       
Fricative   f /f/1 s /s/
z /z/1
/ʃ/ ś /ɕ/     x /χ/1
Nasal m, /m/3   n, /n/2, 3     ñ /ɲ/4 /ŋ/4  
Trill     r /r/          
Approximant   v /ʋ/       y /j/    
Lateral approximant     l /l/     ly /ʎ/5    
^1 Phonemes found in loanwords only.
^2 Consonants with dots below (ṭ, ḍ, ṇ, but NOT ṣ, ṃ) represent retroflex consonants in the source language, which in Loulanese pronunciation are simply rendered as dentals.
^3 The letter , traditionally known as anusvāre, represents a homorganic nasal (a nasal with the same place of articulation as a neighbouring consonant). It is pronounced /m/ before bilabials and labiodentals, /ŋ/ before velars and uvulars, and /n/ in all other positions.
^4 When /n/ occurs before a velar or uvular, it assimilates to /ŋ/ and is written as ṅ. /ɲ/ never assimilates before velars or uvulars.
^5 ly /ʎ/ may have an underlying form /lɪ/, as it breaks to this form when before a consonant or at the end of a word.

Additionally, the letter h exists as an inert letter for the transcription of loanwords with aspirated consonants. These consonants lose their aspiration in Loulanese pronunciation.

Grammar

Morphology

Suffixes are ubiquitous in Loulanese morphology, although there are a number of prefixes as well. Verbs can express tense, aspect, and causation, and are conjugated to agree with the subject in person and number. A morphological mediopassive also exists, and some deponent verbs (that is, they are mediopassive in form but active in meaning) exist as well. There are three grammatical genders, although in modern Loulanese the neuter gender behaves identically to the masculine when singular and the feminine when plural, except in pronouns.

Syntax

A general word-order template may be drawn for a normal Loulanese sentence, where each part, if it does appear, appears in this order:

Subject/Fundament Postpositional phrases Direct object Indirect object Temporal adverb Methodic adverb Spatial adverb Negation Predicate Non-finite verb Finite verb

Honorifics

Loulanese has numerous honorifics, which may be used with or as a substitute for names. Loulanese honorifics are placed directly before or after the given name of the subject, depending on honorific used. There is some variation in honorifics throughout the Loulanese-speaking world, but all are generally understood. The most basic honorifics are sasve (pronounced [səsʋe]) for a man and śana (pronounced [ɕənə]) for a woman (irrespective of marital status).

Two types of honorifics can be found in Loulanese: defamiliarising, which increase social distance between the speaker and the addressee and show humbleness or respect, and familiarising, which conversely decrease social distance and display warmth, endearment, or affection. Their function is often predictable by the part of speech of their root word; defamiliarising honorifics tend to be nominal in nature, while familiarising honorifics tend to be adjectival.

In contrast to other Sinospheric cultures, the structure of honorifics in Loulanese is much less stringent, and there are fewer situations where one would be expected to employ one. While the use of honorifics in Loulanese is up to the discretion of the speaker, there are many situations where the use of an honorific is preferable to its omission, and the omission of an honorific may at times come across as cold or distant.

Vocabulary

Loulanese has a rich vocabulary; besides forming new words from existing words and their roots, it has also borrowed extensively from other languages. One of the consequences of the long history of Buddhism in Loulan is the vast number of Sanskrit words and phrases present in nearly all attested forms of the language. Loanwords tend to be spelled according to their source, and preserved pronunciation has introduced a relatively large number of non-native phonemes which are used in common words and personal names (for example, voiced consonants). Some foreign words and names which have remained in use for a long enough period have undergone changes in pronunciation and spelling in order to fit the parameters of the Loulanese language — take, for example, the name Guṇacandra, which has the variants Guṇacaṃdre and Kunacaṃtre, in which the former is closer to the etymon while the latter has undergone plosive devoicing to fit Loulanese's phonological constraints.

Most modern loan words in Loulanese come from Chinese language and Tibetan languages, due to the position of Loulan between China and Tibet and the hegemony these powers had over Loulan until very recent history.

Loulanese has both formal and informal speech registers; informal registers, including speech directed towards children, tend to use more inherited vocabulary of Proto-Indo-European origin, while the percentage of vocabulary that is of foreign origin is higher in legal, scientific, and academic texts.

Loulanese meñe ñuve mācer ṣer yṣiye, nekciye meli trai erkent ratre tute motartstse valkve
Other Tocharic dialects
Saka mañ ñu mācar ṣar nakcu malañ tre arkant rtär särpo motartsa späṅku
Other Hyndo-Euclean languages
English month new mother sister night nose three black red yellow green wolf
Hindustani महीना
mahīnā
नया
nayā
माँ
māṃ
बहन
bahan
रात
rāt
नाक
nāk
तीन
tīn
काला
kālā
लाल
lāl
पीला
pīlā
हरा
harā
भेड़िया
bheṛiyā
Latin mēnsis novus māter soror nox nasus trēs āter, Niger ruber flāvus, gilvus viridis lupus
Greek μήνας
minas
νέος
neos
μητέρα
mitera
αδελφή
adhelfi
νύχτα
nihta
μύτη
miti
τρία
tria
μαύρος
mavros
κόκκινος
kokkinos
κίτρινος
kitrinos
πράσινος
prasinos
λύκος
likos
Ukrainian місяць
misiats
новий
novyi
мати
maty
сестра
sestra
ніч
nich
ніс
nis
три
try
чорний
chornyi
червоний, рудий
chervonyi, rudyi
жовтий
zhovtyi
зелений
zelenyi
вовк
vovk

Writing system

See also