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|Native to|| Tudonia|
(east central Alemannia)
|Similian alphabet, Fiorentine alphabet|
|Regulated by||Ministry of Education Committee for the Similian Language and Culture|
(in a descriptive-advisory manner)
Majority of Similian speakers
Minority of Similian speakers
The Similian language (Newreyan pronunciation: /sɪˈmɪliən/; Similian: Similtsche or Similtsch, pronounced [ˈsimɪɫt͡ʃə]), commonly called Similian, is a Simo-Laphnaric language spoken spoken by about 114,000 people natively. Of these, 92,000 live in Tudonia, of whom approximately 57,000 live in the Special Administrative Region of Similia, where it serves as a lingua franca, with the remaining 35,000 mostly living in other parts of the country. Furthermore, 19,000 speakers of Similian live in the south of Mascylla, with at least 3,000 speakers living on other parts of it. Outside of Tudonia and Mascylla, there is not a significant community of speakers in any other Æian country.
Being a Simo-Laphnaric language, Similian is not genetically related to the Cataisuran languages, thus resulting in it being grouped under the term “Old Asuran language.” However, it has many loan words from various Cataisuran languages, most prominently from Continental Alemannic and through it from Fiorentine and Chalcian. A genetic link is only known to exist between Similian and Laphnaric, which shares the common ancestor of Old Similian and is thought to have split during the Middle Similian period.
The earliest written ancestor of Similian is Common Simo-Laphnaric, with several inscriptions of various sorts from the age of the Neman empire dating back to it. After its fall, the language started to evolve into Old Similian through the stage of Early Old Similian. This shift is believed to have happened between the 6th and the 8th century AD. Although a variety of texts from Old Similian are known, it was not until the start of the Middle Similian period around the 14th century that Similian language writing to become more common. Until the 17th–18th centuries, the language experienced a literary golden age, followed by a period of decline during the Alemannic conquest of the area. For only about a century, the numbers of speakers — especially in the outer Similian sprachraum — drastically declined. However, in the 19th century, this began to change. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, Similian has been able to maintain a stable speaker community. The ending of political discrimination against the language and the eventual establishment of the Special Administrative Region of Similia greatly helped the language’s situation to stabilize.
Though there is great dialectal variation within the Similian sprachraum, the classification of the language’s dialects has shown itself as being quite the challenge. This is largely due to the lack of data on some varieties; however, dialect levelling also plays a role — especially in relation to the more recent past.
Similian is commonly written using a Fiorentine-based alphabet inspired heavily by the Alemannic alphabet. However, a native writing system does exist as well known as the Similian alphabet. The alphabet has several different styles, the most notable ones being Naghjum and Tjaghcum. Nowadays, most official signs, such as roadsigns, are written using the Fiorentine alphabet, while most documents, newspapers and books are printed using the Similian alphabet. Studies suggest that, within the special administrative region, up to 70% of inhabitants use the Similian alphabet for handwriting, while some 30% use the Fiorentine alphabet for handwriting. Among speakers outside of the special administrative region, these numbers reverse.
The grammar of contemporary Similian can largely be described as fusional, although it also tends to have some more agglutinative elements — most notably in its written standard. In contrast to this, the earliest written examples of Common Simo-Laphnaric and Early Old Similian tended more towards an analytical grammar.
Generally, one can say that, outside the sprachraum, the influence of the Similian language is very limited. In economics, usually Alemannic is used instead of Similian, with the exception of highly local or some regional economy in Similia. Politically, many have accused Similian of having a disproportional importance, with the language’s status often being discussed on a federal level in Tudonia. Similian language higher education is highly limited which has been the main concern of activists during the past decades.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Classification
- 3 History
- 4 Phonology
- 5 Dialects
- 6 Standardization
- 7 Legal Status
- 8 Grammar
- 9 Vocabulary
- 10 Writing System
- 11 Example
The term “Similian” comes from the Similian language name for Similia, Similja, and was adapted for the name of the language and culture. It derives from Old Similian sím hil lĭ·ha, with lĭ·ha meaning “land”, and sím hil being the traditional name for a valley in Similia, later adapted for the whole of the region. It literally translates to “(our) common valley”.
It is in a document dating back to the Nemans that the word is attested in for the first time. However, after the fall of the Nemanic Empire, it began to be used for the area in which their culture was not lost. There are several variations of the word until the Classical Old Similian period, when gradually, the other forms were replaced by sím hil lĭ·ha for the country and by sím hil tĕ·ʔes for the language. By Middle Similian, it had become símhilčes and later, the final -⟨s⟩ and the ⟨h⟩ were dropped.
The Alemannic word for Similian, ziemtalisch or ziemtalerisch, has a similar etymology to the Newreyan word. It comes from Ziemtal which is the Alemannic word for Similia and consists of Ziem, an adaptation of Similian Sim, and Tal, a direct translation of -(h)il. Ziemtalisch and ziemtalerisch were originally used with distinct meanings, the former for cultural and the latter for geographical or political senses, but they are now increasingly used interchangeably. Some languages have borrowed their words for Similian from Alemannic, such as Leshkiac цимталский cimtałskij or Vrnallian Cyntalík (or Cyntalij saci).
Some languages, however, have borrowed their exonym for the language from the Similian word. Among these are Newreyan, but also Miersan (język simhiłski or simchiłski) and Cuirpthean (Saoimileach teanga).
Besides the most common Similian endonym for the Similian language, there is also a variety of different words for the language. Some of which are alternative forms of Símiltsche, such as Símhiltsche — a spelling retaining the historical h — or Símhiltjes — a word derrived from Neoclassical Similian. These two words are relatively common, but there are also more obscure ones, such as Síhmhiltsche or Síemhiltsche — both of which have occasionally been used during the Early Modern Similian period, but have fallen out of use and are now considered obsolete. In some instances, words that are completely unrelated to Símiltsche are used. The most widespread ones are Tjéstsche and Téstsche, literally translating to “language-ish” or “language-speak” and “this language”, which are still in use. Both of which have several alternatives, some of which are also still in use, such as Tjéstsch and Téstsch (compare: Símiltsch), others are not, such as Tschéstsche or Téschtsch.
Similian is a member of the Simo-Laphnaric language family. As such, through Middle Similian and Old Similian, it ultimately comes from the attested Common Simo-Laphnaric language. It is the first attested form of any Simo-Laphnaric language, although it may not be the oldest Simo-Laphnaric language per se, and is thought to descend from Proto Simo-Laphnaric. The boundary between late-stage Common Simo-Laphnaric and Early Old Similian is generally set at the collapse of the Neman Empire, as it had long-lasting consequences for the development of the language. For a long time, it was believed that this also was the time of the Simo-Laphnaric split, which gave birth to the Laphnaric language. Laphnaric — which is not only the only living relative of Similian, but also the only well-attested one after the Neman period — is, however, now believed to have split from Similian during the Middle Similian period.
There is a series of theories regarding the classification of the Similian language which are not widely accepted. Although evidence is often scarce or dubious at best, these theories are sometimes widely believed within certain groups. Similarly, as with other Old Asuran languages, Similian too is sometimes theorized to be distantly related to languages such as Vrnallian, Veyene or Cavalerish. Especially popular are theories of a Cavalero-Similian language family.
Up until fairly recently, it was a widely held belief that, despite all evidence, Similian and Laphnaric are not in fact genetically related. Most people believing this were speakers of either language, with both groups wanting to distance themselves from one another. Oftentimes, racist rhetoric was used on both sides. More often than not, the same derogatory arguments, such as a perceived savageness or a superiority complex, were used as legitimate arguments to justify the own language’s superiority and/or the other language’s inferiority. This attitude was first recorded in the Middle Similian period, reaching its peak during the Golden Age of the Similian language and again in the 19th century. Since then, however, it has become less prevalent.
Common Simo-Laphnaric, also occasionally called Nemanic, is generally seen as the predecessor of the Similian language. It is not known when exactly the transition to Similian happened as there is a lack of sufficient records from the time. Generally, the boundary of late-stage Common Simo-Laphnaric is set at the time of the collapse of the Neman Empire around 500AD. The generally agreed upon narrative in linguïstics is that the sudden collapse of the Neman Realms had long-lasting consequences as an effect, with significant and fundamental changes to the language as well as society in general.
The Old Similian period can be divided into three main eras, these being Early Old Similian, High Old Similian, and Classical Similian. Oftentimes, High Old Similian is just called Old Similian or Old Similian proper instead. Some experts argue that Late Old Similian is an independent language stage; however, it is only marginally attested.
Early Old Similian, also known as Primitive Similian, is a transitional stage of the language between late-stage Common Simo-Laphnaric and Old Similian itself. Based on the regional dialect of Common Simo-Laphnaric, Early Old Similian was spoken for only about one or two centuries before transitioning to High Old Similian. It is believed to have been spoken after the collapse of the Neman Empire left the region in a state of near-anarchy around 500AD until the reëstablishment of government in the mid-8th century. There are only few surviving records of the Early Old Similian language, limited to stone inscriptions and a handful of letters or other personal notes. For the most part, these are mostly fragments, often even lacking complete sentences.
Notable examples of Early Old Similian texts are listed below.
- The Lehmberg letter is the longest known text to be written in the language, although it is incomplete. It is a personal letter from a landowner to his wife dating back to somewhere around 700AD. Originally, the letter was at least two pages long, although only the first page survived.
- The Worod inscription is a petroglyph on a stone wall that was discovered in a ruïn. It is not known which purpose the building it was found in served. The text on the inscription is only partially readable and seems to tell a story. Two popular theories are that either the story of a local ruler or a story of the Neman Empire, are told. When the text was created, the fall of the Neman Empire must have already been beyond living memory.
- The oldest text in Early Old Similian dates back to a couple of years after the fall of the Neman Realms at most, as it mentions the “fall of a great empire”. It was carved onto a stone plate on the grave of a local ruler who most likely had been in power — or at least alive — when the Neman state collapsed. Due to cracks and other forms of damage, some words are illegible, although they can be guessed from the context in most instances.
- An inscription on a doorway saying tes ʔuk·ʔaf ʔihĭ·hĕm (Modern Similian téßan Kéfum) “this [is the] entrance” has been found in Worod, close to the Worod inscription.
- In a suburb of Ziemtal, a comb with the words pĭhe-wo-năba-ʔin-ʔak ʔĭhu·bira·hen (Modern Similian anam Pjémba’in, Júbiraen or anam Pjémba Júbiraen) “I am her comb (lit. ‘hair maker’), of Jubira” written onto it was found.
- A graffito was found in a temple close to Lehmberg. The last word or words are illegible due to damage, but most likely contain the name of the writer. It reads as ʔăd ʔam ʔu L…, translating to “L… was here” in Newreyan.
Eventually, the Early Old Similian language transitioned to High Old Similian, often simply called Old Similian. The transition period is the same as the period of the establishment of the Similian Kingdoms, around the 750s. The difference between this variety and the earlier stage is mostly present in phonological aspects, such as the reduction of some weak vowels, as well as in grammar, most notably the further development towards a fusional language. There are no longer texts in Old Similian, as it was mostly used for day-to-day communication. However, it is occasionally found or hinted at in direct speech. It is generally assumed that Old Similian remained the spoken language among the masses and developed into Middle Similian, but the written language that developed during that time differs from it.
Known as Classical Similian, the written language of the Similian Kingdoms from the early 10th century into the 14th is well-attested. It was a somewhat artificial standard form of the language that was largely based on the upper class sociolect of the dialect of Ziemtal. Soon, it spread across the entirety of the Similian Kingdoms, becoming the universal written language. Orthographically, it has not changed during the more than four centuries of its usage, although texts about orthographic and grammatical mistakes alike lead to the belief that there must have been a series of significant sound changes occurring during this period.
In contrast to all previous stages of any Simo-Laphnaric language, there are countless Classical Similian texts, many of which still are fully intact. These range from official documents, to religious texts, to private diaries and tales as well as legends and other kinds of stories. Many of the latter had previously been orally transmitted for an unknown period of time, and some of them have since become classical stories.
In the 1300s, a socioëconomic, politcal and cultural collapse happened in the Similian Kingdoms. Eventhough this one was less severe than the one at the end of the Neman Realms, it managed to lead the Similian culture into a several decades long dark age. After having underwent numerous changes during the Old Similian period, these changes were now also written down. It is a widely held belief that Middle Similian as spoken in the 1300s was closer to Classical Similian as spoken in the 1200s, than written Classical Similian has been to the spoken language.
Similar as in the Old Similian period, a language reflecting how the speakers of Similian actually speak, in this case Middle Similian, gets replaced as a written language by a more artificial standard, while mostly maintaining its function as a spoken language. In the case of Middle Similian, this semi-artificial standard is Neoclassical Similian. Phonologically, it has been based on Classical Similian texts as pronounced in the Ziemtal area and the local dialects. It can be interpreted as a version of Classical Similian that had been adjusted for Middle Similian pronunciation. In contrast to Classical Similian, Neoclassical Similian did not undergo a large number of changes to its phonology. Middle Similian dialects were, however, largely influenced by Neoclassical Similian, which caused levelling of the local vernaculars towards the literary language. This is evidenced by the fact that the dialectal features recorded in early Middle Similian oftentimes being less prominent in late Middle Similian, with shifts away from said dialectal features almost always being in favour of the standard language.
Although most dialects were affected by Neoclassical Similian between its first occurence around 1400 and its evolving into Early Mordern Similian in the 18th century, some dialects towards the edges of the sprachraum were not, likely due to a lack of influence from the Similian Kingdoms. Most of these dialects, instead of levelling, developed further appart, with the most prominent example being Laphnaric, which had become mutually unintelligible to Similian and is now considered a language of its own. However, most of these dialects have not been written down and speakers had shifted towards Alemannic since, making it hard to judge other dialects and their intelligibility with Middle Similian.
Middle Similian saw the completion of the monophthongization of the original back-front-diphthongs, such as /iu̯/ or /ui̯/ into /y/, or /ɔɛ̯/ into /œ/, although the tendency to monophthongize these diphthongs likely dates back further. It also has seen the further reduction of weak vowels, resulting in the consonant clusters which are now found in Similian, but it can be assumed that most weak vowels had already underwent deletion in spoken Classical Similian. Another innovation of Middle Similian is palatalization of consonants depending on various factors, such as the presence of the phoneme /j/ or certain weak vowels.
Early Modern Similian
The period described as Early Modern Similian is usually defined as going from roughly the 1690s or 1700s up until about the 1840s or 1850s. This period, although having only been between circa 140 to 160 years long, describes the transition from Middle Similian to Modern Similian. This transition was mostly phonological in nature, with minor grammatical changes.
During the earlier part of the Early Modern Similian era, the language and Similian culture as a whole was shrinking, with tendencies towards assimilation into the Tudonian society being present in most culturally Similian areas. This was largely due to the end of the Similian Kingdoms, them being annexed by an expanding Tudonia, and its consequences. Especially three factors seem to have been major contributors to the decline in Similian speakers in a growing population, these being the lack of a Similian-language high-end culture, the lack of a significance of the language in politics or the economy, and the discrimmination of speakers of Similian — especially monolingual speakers — by the Tudonian state. In almost all instances of public life, Tudonian replaced Similian as the lingua franca. Until well into what is generally considered the Modern Similian period, the only aspects of public life where Similian was widely used were Hoghul religious processions and texts, local economic affairs, such as markets or village shops, and occasional feasts, with all but the former also gradually shifting towards Tudonian around 1820.
In the last decades of this era, however, Similian culture saw a rebirth. This is largely due to the continuous efforts of authors and poets to use the Similian language as a means of expressing themselves. To a large degree, the differences between late Middle Similian and Modern Similian are due to the writing preferences of 19th century authors differing from those of earlier ones. Most of these authors were inspired by Classical Similian and Neoclassical Similian, aspects of which they mixed with their various native dialects of the language which would eventually create a new standard literary language.
An interesting aspect is the reversing of a change that happened between Old Similian and Middle Similian, where [dʲ] and [tʲ] would become [d͡ʒ] and [t͡ʃ] or [d͡ʑ] and [t͡ɕ], respectively, depending on the dialect, with [t͡ʃ] only remaining in relatively few words. This change is generally though to have been spread from the literary language of most authors to dialectal speech. Another change introduced into the literary language and spreading through all dialects of Similian was the introduction of verbs translating to to be and to have — notoriously lacking in previous stages of the language to a large degree — as well as their usage as auxiliary verbs to express the passive voice. Although these are not the only changes from Middle to Modern Similian, they are among the more noticeable ones.
The transition from Early Modern Similian to Modern Similian cannot really be pinned down to a single event or even decade. It is generally defined as having occurred in the mid 19th century, though sometimes, certain key events in the linguïstic history of Similian are used as a boundary between the two stages of the language.
Perhaps the most common thing to be cited as the transition from Early Modern Similian to Modern Similian is the standardization of the language. The standardization of Similian is, however, not a single event, but much rather a continuous development from authors and publishers throughout the Early Modern Similian period, mostly 1805–1840, that sought to create general rules and spelling conventions. Lateron, these were then recognized as unofficial rules by the orthographical convent of Ziemtal in 1846, which would go on to form the basis of the current spelling. These rules were also adapted by the first Similian-language dictionary that was published in Lehmberg in 1850.
Between the 1850s and the beginning of the Great War, the Similian language saw another golden age, which is largely due to the new unofficial orthographical standards being used in official contexts and helping to reduce illiteracy rates across the Similian sprachraum. The easier access to printing in Lehmberg also played a huge role, as traditional Similian folklore, Hoghul religious texts, Similian-language novels, and translations from other languages into Similian could now be easily printed and be distributed amongst the Similian-speaking or -learning populace. The Great War put an indirect end to this for a couple of years, until around 1920. Although there was virtually no combat in the Similian sprachraum or in close proximity to it, the effects of the war caused migration of ethnic Tudonians into the largely rural area, causing a drop in concentration of Similian speakers. After the new Constitution of Tudonia has been ratified, however, the situation changed again.
Up until 1951, the Similian language was not officially recognized by the Tudonian government. After the establishment of the SAR Leshkia a decade prior, Similia would go on to be the second special administrative region of Tudonia.
Dialect levelling is still going on in Similian, with research suggesting that Similian dialects are as similar as never before. Throughout the entirety of the Sprachraum, the grammatical structures of Modern Similian dialects are levelling towards the standard language. Phonologically, dialectal speech seems to errode less in Similian than it does with other aspects of language. Within Tudonia, phonological changes occur almost exclusively in favour of the standard language, while Similian dialects spoken in Mascylla are sharing increasingly more phonological traits with Mascyllary Standard Alemannic, such as the pronunciation of /r/ as uvular [ʁ] or even [ʀ], instead of [r], [ɾ] or [ɹ].
Since at least some point in the early 19th century, the realization of hiatuses in Similian has been as diphthongs — sometimes triphthongs — for the majority of speakers. It is not exactly known how the Similian hiatus has been realized prior to that, although several sources suggest that the pronunciation as a diphthong has been a change to whatever the earlier pronunciation was.
There seems to be a split in the spoken standard of present-day Similian that sees a more conservative and a more innovative pronunciation of the language evolving. This is mostly seen with speakers of the broadcasting standard pronunciation, some of which realizing /l/ and /r/ as [ɫ] or [ʊ̯] and [ɹ], respectively. The reduction of vowels has also spread into this standard for some speakers, albeit to a lesser degree than found in some dialects. Besides that, a somewhat standardized pronunciation developed that is more in the middle of the spectrum between the dialectal and the standard pronunciations. Known as “Generic Similian”, it has a less conservative pronunciation than the two other spoken standards of Similian.
The phonology of Modern Similian exhibits notable differences when compared to other Asuran languages, though there are also similarities. For example, the distinction between a plain and palatalized series is a similar phenomenon to that seen in the Sclavonic languages, Laphnaric and Vrnallian. The usual velarization of plain /l/ ([ɫ]) also can be seen in those aforementioned languages as well. Similar to Vrnallian, Similian has notable consonant clusters and nasally released consonants, such as [pᵐ], [tⁿ] and [kᵑ]. Many dialects also exhibit vowel reduction in unstressed syllables to some degree.
|Plosive||Plain||p b||t d||k ɡ||(ʔ)|
|Palatalised||pʲ bʲ||tʲ dʲ||kʲ ɡʲ|
|Fricative||Plain||f (v)||s||x ɣ||(h)|
|Palatalised||fʲ (vʲ)||sʲ||ʃ||xʲ ɣʲ|
Similian has a series of plain and palatalized consonants for most consonants. The exceptions are /w/, /h/ and /ʔ/ as well as /j/ and /ʃ/, the latter two — despite the postalveolar or retroflex nature of /ʃ/ in most dialects — being regarded as palatal consonants themselves. Voicing is not distinguished phonemically for most consonants, with the plosives and some fricatives being an exception to this rule. Voicing assimilation is present in Similian. For example, voiced plosives and fricative devoice syllable-finally and voiceless fricatives are realized as voiced after voiced consonants.
A phonemic distinction between /f/ and /v/ is only present in some dialects, with [v] or [ʋ] either being an independent phoneme represented by ⟨v⟩ in loan words, or the realization of the phoneme /w/.
Some linguïsts analyse Similian as having two distinct or semi-distinct alveolar fricatives: either /s1/ and /s2/ or /z/ and /s/. The former is voiced to [z] in some environments, such as intervocalically or postvocalically before a voiced sound (e.g. *Pjásr* [ˈpʲazᵊr] “palace” may be transcribed as either /ˈpʲas1r/ or /ˈpʲazr/). The latter always is realized as [s], at least intervocalically. Orthographically, they are distinguished by writing a single ⟨s⟩ for /s1/ and ⟨ss⟩ or a ligature, such as ⟨ß⟩, for /s2/.
The distinction between /x/ and /ɣ/ is present in Similian since the Middle Similian period. It developed out of a lenition of /ɡ/ or /x/. In most dialects, /ɣ/ lengthens the preceding vowel and in some dialects, it serves only as a marker of long vowels. This means, that it is essentially realized as [ː], which excludes positions in which no vowel is preceding the phoneme and positions in which a stressed vowel succeeds it. Though the consonant cluster ⟨ghc⟩ is common in the written language, it is analysed as underlying /xk/ rather than /ɣk/.
Similian has numerous affricates ([t͡s], [d͡z], [t͡ʃ]) and plosive-fricative clusters (e.g. [ks], [bz] or [pʃ]). Commonly, the former get analysed as variations of the latter, since sounds such as [ts] in contrast to [t͡s] are notably absent — excluding across syllable-boundaries ([t.s]). Most of these clusters come from one of two sources: The elision of vowels in between consonants (e.g. păságe>Pságh “button”), or the mutation of a consonant, usually due to the following vowel (e.g. tĕhés>Tschés “language”). Another source of this type of cluster is a sound change in which nasals become plosives if followed by fricatives within the same syllable, usually in the onset. Most of the time, this can still be observed in the orthography, with the combinations ⟨ms⟩, ⟨ns⟩, ⟨mf⟩ and ⟨nf⟩ being pronounced as [bz], [d͡z], [bv] and [dv], respectively.
Similian has three pairs of nasally released plosives, these being [pᵐ bᵐ], [tⁿ dⁿ] and [kᵑ ɡᵑ]. These developed out of previous plosive-nasal-clusters (e.g. /bm/>/bᵐ/, /kn/>/kᵑ/). Historically, Similian was analysed as having prenasalized plosives such as [ⁿd] or [ᵐp], but these are now generally analysed as nasal-plosive clusters instead ([nd, mp]), except in the onset of a syllable.
The phoneme /ʃ/ is usually treated as a palatal sound. Arising from historical /sʲ/ (modern /sʲ/ coming from /sj/ in most instances), it has no plain/palatalised contrast. Depending on the dialect, it can be realized as [ʃ], [ʂ], [ɕ] or even [ç], with [ʃ] being the most common realization of the literary standard. In contrast to /s/, the phoneme almost never is realized as voiced — neither in loanwords with a voiced sound, nor in intervocalic position: *Garáscha* “garage” [ɡaˈraʃə].
Depending on the dialect, Similian voiceless plosives can be aspirated (Théer [ˈtʰɛɜ̯r] instead of [ˈtɛɜ̯r]). The distribution of aspiration across Similian dialects generally follows the distribution of the phenomenon across the Alemannic dialects. This means that it is mostly found among Similian speakers in Mascylla, while most Tudonian speakers do not aspirate their voiceless plosives. Another feature of voiceless plosives in Similian is that, for some speakers, they occasionally have no audible release word-finally. This can be seen especially when the following word does not start with a vowel. This is believed to have been the standard pronunciation in Similian until the Middle Similian period, when the pronunciation with audible release became common due to Alemannic influence.
In some words, Similian has geminate consonants. Although Middle Similian had these as well, it is believed that those of Modern Similian are a reïnnovation in most or all instances. This is due to geminate consonants in Modern Similian being much rarer than in Middle Similian and only rarely appearing in the same words as in Middle Similian. Mostly, Middle Similian geminate consonants equate to Modern Similian clusters, such as [mː]>[mb], [nː]>[nd], [pː]>[mp, ps] or [lː]>[ld, lɡ]. It is unknown why these changes often are unpredictable, though it is assumed that this is due to the literary language picking words from various dialects. While Middle Similian geminate consonants might have been phonemic (e.g. /mː/), they might also have been a sequence of the same consonant phoneme appearing twice in a row (e.g. /m.m/ [mː]). The former seems to only exist in loan words in Similian, both in words reborrowed from Middle Similian or older stages of the language and in loan words from other languages. All other instances of Modern Similian geminate consonants are two consonants of the same quality colliding, for example in compounds that do not use the -o- compounder.
The consonant phoneme /l/ rarely appears as [l] in Modern Similian. Though the pronunciation of /l/ as [l] was the original pronunciation up until Middle Similian or even Early Modern Similian, it is now usually [ɫ] or [w~ʊ̯]. [ɫ], known as the “dark l”, is a pronunciation that likely developed due to Sclavonic influence. It developed in all positions, except when /j/ followed. This pronunciation has spread into many Alemannic dialects in Tudonia as well, though is notably absent from most dialects in Mascylla. The pronunciation as [w] or [ʊ̯] is found as a variation of this pronunciation in some areas. Known as L-vocalization, this is similar to the vocalized pronunciation of [u̯] found in Miersan (łagoda or głos as [u̯aˈɡɔda, ˈgu̯ɔs] rather than [ɫ̪aˈɡɔda, ˈgɫ̪ɔs]), and varies greatly across those dialects in which it appears. It often appears in lower class sociolects in urban areas in Tudonia, where it can replace [ɫ] in some positions. Very rarely, it replaces all instances of [ɫ]. The phoneme /lʲ/ is either [lʲ] or [ʎ] in the standard pronunciation in Tudonia and [lʲ] or [li~li̯] in Mascylla. In some dialects, it turns into [ɪ̯] or [j] through the aforementioned L-vocalization.
The phoneme /r/ has a plethora of different pronunciations throughout the sprachraum. It can be realized as any of [ɾ ɹ r ʁ ɐ̯ ə̯ ʀ] (listed from most to least common), depending on the dialect and position. In most dialects, it varies freely between [ɾ] and [r], with sophisticated speech tending more towards the alveolar trill and common speech towards the alveolar tap. In most western and some central dialects, it commonly varies between [ɾ] and [ɹ]. [ɾ] is used intervocalically and after plosives and fricatives, as well as sometimes at the beginning of a syllable, [ɹ] is used elsewhere and tends more towards retroflex [ɻ] than alveolar [ɹ] for most speakers. Some speakers from Mascylla pronounce the phoneme /r/ as a guttural R in recent decades, which is an influence from Mascyllary Alemannic. The exact realization almost always is a uvular fricative [ʁ] that vocalizes to [ɐ̯] (as in Standard Mascyllary Alemannic) or [ə̯] (closer to the Tudonian border due to Tudonian influence) at the end of syllables. For a very small minority of Mascyllary Similian speakers, /r/ is a uvular trill. The uvular pronunciation of Similian /r/ is more common among Mascyllary learners of the Similian language than among native speakers, though it does appear and is seen as an acceptable pronunciation in both groups. In Tudonia, however, it is far from being seen as an acceptable pronunciation and is usually seen as a speech impediment and is looked down upon.
The /wr/ cluster in Similian is never actually realized as [wr] (or at least not in any Modern Similian dialect), but much rather is an underlying /wr/ that can be realized in a variety of ways. In dialects in which /w/ is realized as [w], the cluster is pronounced as [ɹ], which also counts for some dialects in which /w/ is [v]. In other dialects, it is more commonly [v] or [ʋ] followed by the respective local pronunciation of /r/, e.g. [vr] or [vʁ].
Depending on the dialect, some of the palatalized consonants of Similian can also be pronounced as palatal consonants instead. This is a typical pronunciation in eastern dialects, where /xʲ/, /lʲ/ or /nʲ/, amongst others, are typically realized as [ç], [ʎ] and [ɲ] instead. To some extent, this phenomenon occurs in the westernmost and southern varieties of Similian as well, though it is less widespread there. It is mostly absent from central and northern dialects as well as the remaining western dialects. The following table compares the palatalized realization as found in the phonemic notation or in central dialects with the palatal realization as found across Similian dialects in Mascylla.
|sʲ||ʃ, ʂ or ɕ1|
1 This realization is rare in Mascyllary Similian. Much more common are pronunciations, such as [sj] and [si̯], as well as their voiced counterparts.
A phonemic inventory of the Similian vowels is given below.
Similian has seven vowel phonemes, including three high vowels (Template:IPA/i y u/), three median vowels (/ɛ œ ɔ/) and one low (/a/) vowel. In many varieties, vowel reduction is common, including some of the standard pronunciations. In fact, variation in the pronunciation of vowels is the main difference between most dialects. There is barely any to no phonemic vowel length according to most linguïsts; however, some suggest that the lengthening of vowels before /ɣ/ and /h/ is in fact a form of phonemic vowel length, especially in varieties in which these consonant phonemes are not articulated as such after lengthened vowels. Speakers in majority-Tudonian areas are known to realize their vowels akin to or at least more similar to the realization of the phonemes in the local Tudonian dialect.
Similian has several diphthongs, though most commonly vowels that collide have a hiatus. Common diphthongs include /iə̯/, /ɛɜ̯/ and /aɛ̯/, with /uə̯/ and /ɔɜ̯/ as well as other diphthongs existing, though being rare. In some eastern dialects, /iə̯/ and /ɛɜ̯/ monophthongize to [ɨː] and [ɜː] in some or all positions (e.g. Híere “arrival” /ˈhiə̯rɛ/ [ˈhiə̯rə] or [ˈhɨːrɛ]). The phoneme /aɛ̯/ is realized as [aɛ̯] or [aɪ̯] in most dialects, with some speakers distinguishing [aɛ̯], [aɪ̯] and [ɛɪ̯], especially in loan words, based on the spelling, which is the most common instance of spelling pronunciation in Similian (e.g. Haen “station” [ˈhaɛ̯n], Hain “forest” (from Alemannic Hain) [ˈhaɛ̯n] or [ˈhaɪ̯n], and Hein “trap” (from colloquial Tudonian “Hein”) [ˈhaɛ̯n] or [ˈhɛɪ̯n]).
A less common pair of diphthongs includes /əɪ̯/ and /ɪ̯ə/ (also transcribed as /ɪj/ and /jɪ/ or /əj/ and /jə/, respectively). In spelling, these are normally not distinguished, with both of them being spelled as ⟨y⟩. However, more recently, it has become common to spell /əɪ̯/ as ⟨ÿ⟩, while continuing to spell /ɪ̯ə/ as ⟨y⟩.
Next to diphthongs, Similian also has a phenomenon called hiatus in which two vowels are not separated by a consonant phoneme, but still are across two syllables. The common orthographical convention is to write a hiatus by writing a silent ⟨h⟩ inbetween the vowels, such as with the case ending of the twelfth paradigm -ihen /i.ɛn/ rather than /ihɛn/. Historically, it is believed that a semivowel was inserted between the two vowels which — though not explicitly stated — is implied in several Classical Similian and Neoclassical Similian pronunciation guides. At least since the 19th century, the Similian hiatus has been increasingly realized as a diphthong instead. Usually, the first part of such diphthongs is significantly longer than it is in other diphthongs, thus making it often being transcribed as [iːə̯] for ⟨ihe⟩, rather than [iə̯] as with ⟨ie⟩.
Vowel reduction happens to most or all unstressed syllables, excluding only the phoneme /œ/ and sometimes /y/ in dialects in which vowel reduction is especially heavy. In other dialects, the reduction might not happen where ambiguity would arise, such as in some forms of conjugation or declension. Although vowel reduction already had existed in Common Simo-Laphnaric and Old Similian, the reduction of vowels disappeared by Classical Old Similian. Previously reduced vowels experienced elision, became independent phonemes or merged with unreduced phonemes. The vowel reduction that evolved into the current form of the phenomenon was first observed in some Middle Similian dialects, later spreading across larger parts of the sprachraum.
Vowel reduction does not occur in some dialects at all, but there are also instances in which vowel reduction does not happen in dialects where this phenomenon is a part of the dialectal phonology normally. An example for this is the lack of reduction is grammatical forms which would create ambiguity if vowels were reduced, such as the the patient and agent relationship in verbal conjugation. Here, the vowels are commonly pronounced with a lesser degree of or no reduction at all. For example, the verb pjalati (“to remember”) in the form pjalamek, translating to “I remember thee”, is usually pronounced as [ˈpʲaɫəmɛk] or even [ˈpʲaɫamɛk] rather than [ˈpʲaɫəmək] eventhough the stress is pjálamek and neither pjálamék nor pjálámék. In a somewhat similar manner, the first part of a hiatus does not normally undergo vowel reduction, as its pronunciation oftentimes is stressed even when the syllable itself is not stressed. An exception to this rule is the hiatus /ɛ.ɛ/, which is either realized as [ɛːɜ̯] or as [əː]. The clearly unstressed syllables do not undergo reduction in this instance for most speakers.
Besides dialectal speech, vowel reduction is also absent from most standard speech. As most speakers’ speech lies on a continuum between local or regional dialects and the standard language, the degree to which speakers reduce vowels depends. People who are close to the spoken standard’s end of this continuum typically exhibit less vowel reduction. Speakers trying to speak the standard language only and native speakers of a standard variety oftentimes have a complete absense of the phenomenon. In the broadcasting language, it has become somewhat accepted to reduce /ɛ/ to a schwa or to realize /i/, /y/ and /u/ as [ɪ], [ʏ] and [ʊ], respectively, although only some speakers of the broadcasting standard use these reduced pronunciations. In the theatrical standard, it is seen as unacceptable to reduce one’s vowels and thus, vowel reduction in any form is barely ever heard in proper stage pronunciation. In less professional environments, such as school theatres, however, it is heard more commonly. The same can also be said for highly professional environments that want to portray themselves as not belonging to high-end culture or being exclusive to it, for example the Similian Télecábarét (also spelled as Télekábarét).
The phoneme /a/ in stressed position can be realized as any of [æ a ɑ ɒ], with [ɑ] and [ɒ] being found before /l/ and /lʲ/, as well as /r/ and /rʲ/ for some speakers, and [æ] and [a] being found elsewhere. Historically, the phoneme /a/ was [æ~ɑ] in the standard language; however, since the early 20th century, most speakers have shifted towards [a~ɑ]. [ɒ] is occasionally found as well, mostly along the Deichse River dialects. Some speakers who normally realize stressed /a/ as [a] realize it as [æ] instead after palatal or palatalized consonants, with unstressed /a/ being [ɪ] in such positions instead. In other positions, unstressed /a/ alternates between [a~æ] and [ə] unpredictably. Usually, word-finally, it is [ə], which is also true for word-initial positions to some extent. Word-medial positions are relatively unpredictable.
In stressed position, /ɛ/ is realized as [ɛ], with some dialects realizing it as [e] instead after palatal or palatalized consonants. In unstressed positions, it is either [ə] or [ɪ]. The pronunciation of /ɛ/ as [ɪ] happens after palatal or palatalized consonants as well as in most stressed syllable-initial (usually word-initial) positions. [ə] appears in all other reduced positions and has been described as [ɜ] by some linguïsts instead. In southern dialects, it always palatalizes the preceding consonant.
The phoneme /i/ is traditionally pronounced as [i] in stressed position and [ɪ] in unstressed position. However, there are two main non-standard pronunciations spreading currently. On the one hand, the relatively free variation between [i] and [ɪ] is increasingly common in majority-Tudonian areas; on the other hand, a phenomenon similar to /ɛ/ exists in some dialects, whereas /i/ always palatalizes the preceding consonant. The latter phenomenon is found in the same dialects as found with /ɛ/ traditionally, but now is found increasingly in central and western dialects.
The distribution of [u ʊ] and [y ʏ] for /u/ and /y/, respectively, is the same as the distribution of [i ɪ] for /i/. Though the hyper-palatalization of /y/ exists in some dialects, /u/ never palatalizes the preceding consonant on its own. Only very few speakers ever reduce /y/ in modern Similian, mostly speakers who speak a Tudonian dialect with [ʏ]. Some speakers of northern dialects pronounce /y/ as a diphthong that has been described as [ɪʏ̯], [ɪʊ̯] or [ɪw]. Although Middle Similian /y/ developed out of previous diphthongs, such as /iu/ or /ui/, the modern diphthongs are likely a recent innovation as only one diphthong out of several Old Similian ones is present in these dialects. Additionally, the theory of a recent innovation is further enforced by the fact that there has been no mention of such a feature in any dialect during the Middle Similian era — though there have been relatively few descriptions of dialectal speech in general.
Similar to /y/ for most speakers, /œ/ is never reduced. However, some speakers realize it as [ø] after a palatal or palatalized consonant. This phenomenon is generally observed where /ɛ/ becomes [e] and /ɔ/ becomes [o] in such environments. In general, however, [œ] is the only realization of /œ/ in modern Similian outside northern dialects. In some of these, it is diphthongized to [ɔɪ̯], but it is much less common than the diphthongization of /y/ is.
A phoneme with especially many variations in Similian is /ɔ/. It can be any of [ɔ o ə ɒ ʌ ɑ u̯a] depending on multiple factors, such as stress, position, environment and dialect. In the standard literary language, it is [ɔ] when stressed and can be [ɔ~ɒ] or [ə] in unstressed syllables. Whether [ɔ] or [ɒ] is used depends entirely on the speaker and the distribution of [ə] is similarily unpredictable as with /a/. [o] is found as an allophone of stressed /ɔ/ after palatal or palatalized consonants in dialects in which /ɛ/ or /œ/ become [e] or [ø] in such environments. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, lower class speakers from urban Ziemtal and surrounding areas pronounced it as [ɑ] instead of [ɒ], though this pronunciation has been fading and, as of 2019, is virtually nonexistent amongst speakers younger than 20 while being maintained by most people from such a background older than 30. Outside of central Similia, [ɒ] is often pronounced as [ʌ] instead. In northern and some eastern dialects, [u̯a] is used for stressed /ɔ/.
Stress in Similian is unpredictable. It generally falls onto the first syllable of a root, but there are many exceptions, and sometimes affixes are stressed. In compounds, the primary stress lies on the second part of the compound and the secondary stress on the first one. In Mascylla, this is sometimes reversed. Sometimes, stress is marked in writing by adding a diacritic, usually an accute accent or macron above the stressed vowel.
In some varieties of Similian, stress or its absense influences the pronunciation of vowels, a phenomenon known as vowel reduction. All varieties of the language exhibit Atschésotjérem, a phenomenon that basically describes the stress of a word influencing other aspects of prosody, mostly the isochrony and intonation.
Intonation and Rhythm
Similian has an intonation that is quite distinct from most surrounding languages that involves the pitch pattern changing from rising to falling a lot more than in some other languages. Some dialects of Alemannic that share their sprachraum with Similian as well as the Leshki language have largely adapted this pattern from Similian. Due to this, it is often associated with southern and eastern Tudonia, especially by individuals from outside these areas.
A fall towards the end of a sentence suggests a statement, whilst a rise suggests a question. In the sentence ihak Rumimub (go-2S house-1S.GEN-ALL), a falling-rising pitch ↘︎Ihak ↗︎Rumimub would be interpreted as a yes-no question (Ihak Rumimub? “Goest thou to my house?”), while a rising-falling pitch ↗︎Ihak ↘︎Rumimub would be interpreted as a statement (Ihak Rumimub. “Thou goest to my house.”).
Both falls and rises can be used to put emphasis on a specific part of a sentence, although this mostly happens with rises. To come back to the earlier example of the question Ihak Rumimub?, a rising pitch on ihak without a fall in Rumimub, or with a fall after i and rise towards the end of the sentence, implies a question with emphasis on ihak (“Goest thou to my house?”).
Though Similian allows for large consonant clusters, these generally follow certain rules. If these rules are broken, an unstressed schwa is inserted, such as in word-final /ˈjus1r/ [ˈjuzər]. In the written language, clusters of up to five or six consonants can cluster, although, when spoken, some of the consonants might be vocalized (e.g. [m̩] or [n̩]) or an unwritten vowel, usually a schwa, may be pronounced. Commonly cited examples include words, such as Schtreka [ʃ̩ˈtɹɛkə], which is often analyzed as phonemic /ˈʃtrɛka/.
Spoken Similian has a syllable structure of (C)(C)V(C)(C) in most dialects, with some more conservative dialects requiring a glottal stop or fricative before syllable-initial vowels, thus having (C)CV(C)(C). Crossing syllable boundaries, four consonants in a row without inserting a schwa is fairly rare, with three consonants being often regarded as the largest possible cluster due to this.
Similian has a large degree of dialectal variation, although dialect levelling can be observed in most dialectal groups. Tudonian speakers’ speech levels towards the Similian standard language, while Mascyllary speakers have shown signs of levelling towards High Alemannic in recent decades. Some speakers do not speak a dialect, but are native speakers of one of the two major spoken standards.
The dialects of the Similian language are notably ill-recorded, with many lacking real scientific research having been put into them. In 2015, the Ministry of Education Committee for the Similian Language and Culture, however, started a researching project with the goal of documenting every dialect group, as well as some local dialects, including both the dialects of urban areas and dialects only spoken in individual villages. Those parts of the study that have already been published have concluded that the traditional classification of the Similian dialects is not adequate. Traditionally, the dialects have been classified as broadly southern, northern, western, eastern, central and urban.
With the establishment of the SAR Similia in 1951, the creation of a standard language became necessary. This is why, in 1954, a commitee of the Tudonian ministry of education for the Similian language was established which sought to properly standardize Similian spelling. In the beginning, a new orthography for the Similian language based on the Fiorentine alphabet of the Leshki language. In 1955, it has been officially proposed, though was widely rejected by the Similian population who preferred the Tudonian-based Fiorentine alphabet and the traditional Similian alphabet. Instead, it was decided to merely reform the spelling of Similian, mostly simplifying it. In 1957, an orthography reform was proposed, and, while many aspects of it are now in common use, others have never been accepted by the users of written Similian.
The Ministry of Education Committee for the Similian Language and Culture is the closest that Similian comes to a regulatory body. It has advisory authority and is mostly concerned with material for Similian-language education. The current orthography of Similian was standardized largely by this committee, which also publishes the most important Similian–Similian and Similian–Tudonian dictionaries.
Literary Similian (Ghcúmtsche) is largely based on the developments of authors during the 19th century. The basis of these authors’ standardization attempts was rooted in the various dialects of the language and in Neoclassical Similian. To some extent, it was tried to reverse changes that happened in the language by using more archaïc phonological features, though there were also innovative features introduced into the language. An example for this can be seen in grammar, with many dialectal grammatical constructions being borrowed into the standard language.
The current form of written Similian is largely based on the orthographical conventions agreed upon in the mid 19th century and the reforms of said conventions in 1957.
The spoken standard of Similian is a continuum between highly formal registers on the one hand and informal registers on the other hand. Most speakers shift between more formal and informal varieties depending on the situation. Historically, speakers of dialects would normally not use the standard language — or at least not in informal situations. In recent decades, however, there has been a trend towards speakers speaking a mix inbetween their dialect and the standard language in informal situations.
A special place within the spoken standard is held by Broadcasting Similian (Fúnkosímiltsche), which is primarily heard on television and radio shows. It developed in the early days of the radio, when there were only few radio stations broadcasting to an ever increasing audience of Similian speakers. This made a pronunciation that would be understood by as many speakers as possible necessary. Instead of choosing a dialect, the choice fell onto trying to stay as close as possible to the written language and that there should only be little variation of sounds. In the beginning, this meant that there was no vowel reduction at all, besides occasional [ə] for /ɛ/. Later, however, it gradually became somewhat acceptable to pronounce more unstressed /ɛ/ as [ə], and to pronounce /i u y/ as [ɪ ʊ ʏ]. Notable features of the realization of consonants include the pronunciation of /l/ always being [l] rather than velarized [ɫ], and, that /r/ always is [r] or [ɾ]. Interestingly, [ɹ] also exists in this variety of the language, but is often seen as improper. /w/ is realized as [v], with the /wr/-cluster being [vr].
Theatrical Similian (Teháterosímiltsche, Teháterosímiltje [tɛˌatɛrɔˈsimiltʲɛ]) developed in the late 19th century, as traditional Similian theatre as a tradition was revived. Actors of village or town theatre plays oftentimes spoke their native dialects, causing the loss of rhymes, puns et cetera. This was to be solved by the creation of a unified pronunciation for regular theatre, with exceptions existing for instances in which a role specifically was supposed to use dialectal speech. It shares many features with Broadcasting Similian, though it is older. Shared features include the lack of vowel reduction — which never became acceptable in the theatrical language — and the preference for [r] and [ɾ] as the only realizations of /r/. /l/, however, often has a velarized pronunciation, with L-vocalization being always seen as unacceptable. A notable difference is the realization of /w/ as [w], with the wr-cluster being realized as [ɹ]. In Theatrical Similian, all instances of /ʃ/ are [sʲ], and /t͡ʃ/ is pronounced as [tʲ]. Some speakers make a difference between native words and loan words when it comes to that, the latter having the usual pronunciation, although such a distinction is by no means universal.
Generic Similian (Símiltsche bofýs) is a variety of the spoken standard used by many speakers in informal situations that is replacing local dialects. It has phonological features found in some regional pronunciation whilst its grammar is akin to the grammar found in the other spoken standards. The consonants /l/, /r/ and /w/ as well as the palatalized consonants are generally pronounced as in the dialects traditionally spoken in a given area. Many speakers switch between the realizations of /r/ as [ɾ] and [ɹ] due to allophony or even free variation. The phoneme /l/ is commonly realized as [ɫ] in all positions, though another common realization is its vocalization to a sound that has been described as either [w] or [ʊ̯]. Some speakers use both, the unvocalized and vocalized pronunciations. The vocabulary of Generic Similian differs slightly in that slang terminology is included in it for some speakers, whilst it is generally discouraged by prescriptivist style guides of the other standards that are absent from Generic Similian. In urban and suburban Similia, Generic Similian has almost erradicated local dialects, with only some local pronunciation and vocabulary remaining.
Several studies show that children of wealthy parents are likely not to speak a dialect, but to speak in either the broadcasting or the theatrical standard. Demographics not traditionally making up the Similian higher class tend towards using the broadcasting language. In contrast to that, demographics that have traditionally been part of the Similian higher class, such as bankers and doctors, tend towards using the theatrical standard. When it comes to the perception of the standard versus dialectal pronunciation, most Similian speakers see the standard pronunciation as superior, success often being associated with it. Although it is seen as artificial by many, who prefer speaking their dialect to their friends and family, a large portion of Similian speakers uses the standard pronunciation in what is regarded as formal situations.
The special administrative region of Similia is the only part of Tudonia in which Similian has an official status. The SAR’s territories are largely defined as those parts of eastern Tudonia where the majority language is Similian as of the establishment of the region in 1951. Within the region, Similian is used by the regional government, which does not happen outside of it.
Government agencies and public buildings are required to offer bilingual services, or at the very least redirect people to bilingual services. Government workers do not necessarily need to be bilingual, depending on their position.
Similian language education in the SAR is mandatory for all students. There are linguïstically segregated primary schools for Similian-speaking children on the one hand, and for Alemannic-speaking children on the other. Students in Similian-language primary schools study all subjects but Tudonian through Similian at first, and gradually start studying other subjects in Tudonian in higher grades. Secondary schools are not segregated and students take some subjects in Similian and others in Tudonian. Usually, social sciences are taught in Similian, and mathematics and natural sciences are taught in Tudonian. Although there have been plans to establish a university in Similia, which would have more than likely been a Similian-medium university at least to some degree, there are currently no universities in Similia. Lindenheim University in Lindenheim, Tudonia, lets students study the Similian language and offers some courses in Similian.
Road signs, city signs and so on within Tudonia are normally only allowed to be written in Tudonian. In Similia, however, some of them are required to be bilingual. Usually, place names are displayed in Tudonian and below it in Similian.
Within different contexts, different writing systems are used for Similian. The Fiorentine Similian script is used on signs rather than the Similian alphabet. Elsewhere, there is a mix of both; Similian language education mostly uses the Similian alphabet. Official documents almost always appear in both writing systems, with an increasing tendency towards the Similian alphabet.
Although Similian is spoken in parts of Tudonia outside of the SAR Similia, partly even by a significant proportion of the local population, there is only official recognition in name. Though it has a status as “national language”, there is only little done when it comes to providing Similian-language public services. The only nationwide services provided in Similian are the requirement for any official statements of the federal representation of the Legislative, Judicary and Executive powers as well as for any piece of legislation to be translated into the Similian language. Only since 1975 did speakers of Similian have the right for an advocate and judge in a process to speak in their language.
In some areas around the SAR Similia, counties and towns have started providing Similian-language services akin to those provided within the SAR. This is especially notable in education, with many counties also segregating primary school classes by native language. In those areas, the Similian minority makes up a significant proportion of the population, sometimes even the majority. The reason for the areas not having been made a part of the SAR Similia is that most of them had a proportion of Similian speakers just under the 50% that was necessary to be included in the Special Administrative Region when its borders were drawn in the 1940s and 1950s, according to census data from 1945. Currently, there are plans to integrate several counties and towns into the SAR Similia in several steps, based on the proportion of Similian speakers.
Grammatically, Similian has a highly fusional language for the most part. Although there also is inflection elsewhere, it is most prominently present in nouns and verbs. In Similian, there is no grammatical gender as found in some Lanamannic or Fiorentine languages, but there still are several noun classes. There are nine to eleven grammatical cases, with their role in inflection, however, being mostly limited to nouns and personal pronouns.
Nouns in Similian usually take possessive suffixes (Rúm “house” → Rúmim “my house”), which are sometimes separated from the stem for ease of readability. Traditionally, this occurs either with an apostrophe or a middle dot, the latter of which has been reïnterpreted as a hyphen in recent years. This means that Rúmim can also be spelled as Rúm’im, Rúm·im or as Rúm-im. Such spellings are voluntary, with most writers using them only in case two vowels collide, a word is especially long or there is ambiguity, with a growing minority of speakers using it generally. The possessive suffixes of Similian are listed below:
In contrast to the suffixation of possessives, the marking of case and number has several paradigms. These mostly depend on the last consonant of a word, though sometimes, this rule does not apply. This stands in contrast to Proto Simo-Laphnaric, which is thought to have had only two paradigms; one for words ending in consonants, and one for words ending in vowels. Through a series of sound changes, such as vowel reductions and palatalization of consonants, several distinct paradigms evolved out of these. In most instances, it is possible to know the declension of a word by looking at its ending, with there being only relatively few words considered “irregular” due to the lack of a paradigms which these fit in.
Similar as with the possessive suffixes, sometimes, case suffixes are separated from the word root in case of ambiguity. This is almost universal with the dative, adessive and perlative forms.
The first paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem man), also called the standard consonant paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem Bmátasen stándardis), is the most common of the Similian noun classes. It resembles the original paradigm found in Common Simo-Laphnaric most closely. The word Hánun “ruler” shall serve as an example, with the case and number suffixes being in bold text:
1 In part due to the gradual disappearance of the perlative case from contemporary Similian, this form is sometimes replaced with Hánihusch.
The second paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem aft) is used by words ending in most of the palatalized consonants. The example here is Mánj “scar”:
1 This form also appears as Mánÿhusch. This alternative is mostly found in the spoken language and is not universally accepted.
The third paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem ert) is mostly similar to the first paradigm, with only few differences. It comes from words which ended in an extra short vowel in Common Simo-Laphnaric that did not cause palatalization, but underwent deletion. Here, the example is Gjén “hound”, from Old Similian géhană.
Historically, the fourth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem erf) has developed mostly out of the same environment as the third declension. Instead of the extra short vowel first being neutralized to ă before undergoing deletion, the previous consonant gets geminated. Later, this gemination evolves, for example nn→nd, mm→mb, or ll→ld, but ss→ß. It is not known which caused these different developments, so it is assumed that it is an irregular sound change that only occured in specific words. Besides the locative plural, nouns in this category decline akin to those in the first paradigm. The word Pménd “solution” shall serve as an example:
The fifth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem ant) is the first of the so-called vowel-paradigms. This means that it is used by words ending with a vowel, in the case of the fifth paradigm, this is usually -a. An example word for this is Kára (“car”, “cart” (from Carra) or “punishment” (from Cara)):
The sixth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem eck) contains words which end in -e. The term Ghréte (fish bone) is used as an example here:
The seventh paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem esm) is used for words that end in -o. As an example, Ávto (“car”) is used:
The eightth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem sach) includes words which end in the vowel -u. The main difference to previous paradigms lies in the declension of nouns in this paradigm for the locative case and other location-related cases. Normally, u is the vowel inherent to the endings of these cases, making it necessary for the usual diphthongization of vowels in locative cases to be altered. It should be noted that the grapheme ⟨h⟩ in the location-related cases did not historically represent a hiatus, but the phoneme /h/, although it has been reänalysed and now usually is reälized as a hiatus or diphthong. Fárenu (“tentacle”) shall serve as an example:
Typically, words in the nineth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem apt) all end in -/i/, but the spelling differs: While most words in this paradigm are also spelled with a final -⟨i⟩, others are spelled with a final -⟨y⟩. Until the orthography reform of 1957, there were more instances of words ending in -⟨y⟩ or even in -⟨j⟩ representing /i/, but some remained. Historically, some words would alter in their usage of the letters to represent the vowel in case of ⟨y⟩ and ⟨j⟩ depending on the case, while others would use one letter for all cases. This was changed in the orthography reform of 1957 so that all words of one spelling would decline similarily. Nowadays, the nineth paradigm of the Similian language is usually subdivided into paradigms A and B (Similian: Háedotjérem apt-A and Háedotjérem apt-B, respectively), with paradigm A including words spelled with final ⟨i⟩ in their nominative singular form and paradigm B including words spelled with a final ⟨y⟩ in the nominative singular. The two words Pásri (“sauce”; paradigm 9-A) and Pásry (“cookie”; paradigm 9-B) serve as examples here:
The tenth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem jast), also known as the alternating paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem djeris), is a declension paradigm of Similian that is often seen as irregular, eventhough it follows fixed rules. It contains words in which there usually is a syllable structure of CeC or CCeC in the nominative singular form, where C stands for any consonant and e for the vowel e. In declension, this e is lost outside of the dictionary form, one of the rare occurences of syncope in Similian declension. The CeC of the nominative singular turns into CCe in the nominative plural, CCeC in the singular declension of other cases and CCiC in the plural declension of these cases. The postvocalic C represents the consonant inherent to the case in this context. In location-related cases, CeC becomes CCu(C), pluralizing to CCiw/CCiuC. The word Bés “flower” shall serve as an example here. The forms beginning with ⟨bs⟩ (e.g. Bse) were written with ⟨ms⟩ (e.g. Mse) instead until 1957. The same can be said for ⟨ds⟩ and ⟨ts⟩ being written as ⟨ns⟩ and ⟨z⟩, respectively.
Usually, this syncope is analysed as nouns in this paradigm having two word stems each: the CeC-stem and the CCe-stem. For the former, the analysis counts the e as a part of the stem, whilst for the latter, only the remaining consonants are counted without the initial e.
The eleventh paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem jástomán) contains words which end in a stressed vowel, such as Pjérolá (“light bulb”). The declension happens through adding an ⟨h⟩ after the final stressed vowel and treating it as if it were the first declension for the most part.
The twelfth paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem jástoháft), also known as the name-paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem Nimen), or the foreign word or loan word paradigm (Similian: Háedotjérem Áetjemihen), is a declension paradigm of the Similian language used for personal names, some place names, abbreviations and for foreign terminology and loan words retaining their original spelling and pronunciation in Similian-language texts. It can be divided into paradigms A and B (Similian: Háedotjérem jástoháft-A and Háedotjérem jástoháft-B). Paradigm 12-A is used for words ending in a consonant sound in Similian pronunciation, paradigm 12-B is used for words ending in a vowel sound in Similian pronunciation (excluding ⟨h⟩). Uncertainty in regards to the pronunciation of a word or the intended pronunciation in Similian can cause some words to be declinable in both paradigms.
Where a grapheme representing a vowel is not pronounced, it is usually separated from the grammatical ending attatched to it by using a hyphen (image-i) or apostrophe (image’i). Otherwise, this is not necessary, but commonly done anyway (e.g. Tom’en instead of Tomen). The words that are used as examples here seek to cover all of the mentioned usages of this paradigm and are the personal names John (with consonant) and Johnny (with vowel), the place name Châteaux, the abbreviations PIN and CD, the word image, the word bolognese and the word cédille:
|Nominative||John||John’i||Johnny||Johnny’hi||Châteaux||Châteaux’i||PIN||PINi, PIN-i, PIN’i|
|Accusative||John’ek||John’ihek||Johnny’hek||Johnny’hihek||Châteaux’hek||Châteaux’ihek||PINek, PIN-ek, PIN’ek||PINihek, PIN-ihek, PIN’ihek|
|Genitive||John’en||John’ihen||Johnny’hen||Johnny’hihen||Châteaux’hen||Châteaux’ihen||PINen, PIN-en, PIN’en||PINihen, PIN-ihen, PIN’ihen|
|Dative||John’em||John’ihem||Johnny’hem||Johnny’hihem||Châteaux’hem||Châteaux’ihem||PINem, PIN-em, PIN’em||PINihem, PIN-ihem, PIN’ihem|
|Instrumental||John’es||John’ihes||Johnny’hes||Johnny’hihes||Châteaux’hes||Châteaux’ihes||PINes, PIN-es, PIN’es||PINihes, PIN-ihes, PIN’ihes|
|Comitative||John’et||John’ihet||Johnny’het||Johnny’hihet||Châteaux’het||Châteaux’ihet||PINet, PIN-et, PIN’et||PINihet, PIN-ihet, PIN’ihet|
|Locative||John’u||John’ihu||Johnny’hu||Johnny’hihu||Châteaux’hu||Châteaux’ihu||PINu, PIN-u, PIN’u||PINihu, PIN-ihu, PIN’ihu|
|Adessive||John’um||John’ihum||Johnny’hum||Johnny’hihum||Châteaux’hum||Châteaux’ihum||PINum, PIN-um, PIN’um||PINihum, PIN-ihum, PIN’ihum|
|Ablative||John’ud||John’ihud||Johnny’hud||Johnny’hihud||Châteaux’hud||Châteaux’ihud||PINud, PIN-ud, PIN’ud||PINihud, PIN-ihud, PIN’ihud|
|Allative||John’ub||John’ihub||Johnny’hub||Johnny’hihub||Châteaux’hub||Châteaux’ihub||PINub, PIN-ub, PIN’ub||PINihub, PIN-ihub, PIN’ihub|
|Perlative||John’usch||John’ihusch||Johnny’husch||Johnny’hihusch||Châteaux’husch||Châteaux’ihusch||PINusch, PIN-usch, PIN’usch||PINihusch, PIN-ihusch, PIN’ihusch|
|Nominative||CD||CDhi, CD-hi, CD’i||image||image’i (image’hi)||bolognese||bolognese’hi||cédille||cédille’i (cédille’hi)|
|Accusative||CDhek, CD-hek, CD’hek||CDhihek, CD-hihek, CD’ihek||image’ek (image’hek)||image’ihek (image’hihek)||bolognese’hek||bolognese’hihek||cédille’ek (cédille’hek)||cédille’ihek (cédille’hihek)|
|Genitive||CDhen, CD-hen, CD’hen||CDhihen, CD-hihen, CD’ihen||image’en (image’hen)||image’ihen (image’hihen)||bolognese’hen||bolognese’hihen||cédille’en (cédille’hen)||cédille’ihen (cédille’hihen)|
|Dative||CDhem, CD-hem, CD’hem||CDhihem, CD-hihem, CD’ihem||image’em (image’hem)||image’ihem (image’hihem)||bolognese’hem||bolognese’hihem||cédille’em (cédille’hem)||cédille’ihem (cédille’hihem)|
|Instrumental||CDhes, CD-hes, CD’hes||CDhihes, CD-hihes, CD’ihes||image’es (image’hes)||image’ihes (image’hihes)||bolognese’hes||bolognese’hihes||cédille’es (cédille’hes)||cédille’ihes (cédille’hihes)|
|Comitative||CDhet, CD-het, CD’het||CDhihet, CD-hihet, CD’ihet||image’et (image’het)||image’ihet (image’hihet)||bolognese’het||bolognese’hihet||cédille’et (cédille’het)||cédille’ihet (cédille’hihet)|
|Locative||CDhu, CD-hu, CD’hu||CDhihu, CD-hihu, CD’ihu||image’u (image’hu)||image’ihu (image’hihu)||bolognese’hu||bolognese’hihu||cédille’u (cédille’hu)||cédille’ihu (cédille’hihu)|
|Adessive||CDhum, CD-hum, CD’hum||CDhihum, CD-hihum, CD’ihum||image’um (image’hum)||image’ihum (image’hihum)||bolognese’hum||bolognese’hihum||cédille’um (cédille’hum)||cédille’ihum (cédille’hihum)|
|Ablative||CDhud, CD-hud, CD’hud||CDhihud, CD-hihud, CD’ihud||image’ud (image’hud)||image’ihud (image’hihud)||bolognese’hud||bolognese’hihud||cédille’ud (cédille’hud)||cédille’ihud (cédille’hihud)|
|Allative||CDhub, CD-hub, CD’hub||CDhihub, CD-hihub, CD’ihub||image’ub (image’hub)||image’ihub (image’hihub)||bolognese’hub||bolognese’hihub||cédille’ub (cédille’hub)||cédille’ihub (cédille’hihub)|
|Perlative||CDhusch, CD-husch, CD’husch||CDhihusch, CD-hihusch, CD’ihusch||image’usch (image’husch)||image’ihusch (image’hihusch)||bolognese’husch||bolognese’hihusch||cédille’usch (cédille’husch)||cédille’ihusch (cédille’hihusch)|
Similar as many other languages found in Asura and other parts of Æia, Similian uses adpositions. Special about the usage of adpositions in Similian is the fact that not only prepositions are used, which are predominant in Asura, but also both postpositions which are the most common form of adpositions in the Similian language, and circumpositions which have a more limited usage. Historically, much of the Similian verb conjugation and case system has evolved out of previous adpositions. Some linguïsts argue that some of the Similian adpositions are in fact affixes written as separate words, while some others argue that some of the affixes are adpositions written as part of the word.
Time and location are often shown with circumpositions in Similian. Most commonly, the word du acts as the part of the adposition that is before the noun it governs and an appropriate adjective is the latter part. For example, “behind my house” would be expressed as du Rumimu chanemis, while Rumu chanemis on its own would, depending on the context, translate as “the house behind [something else]” or something along similar lines. Similarily, “into thy house” would be expressed as du Rumiku tunis, with Rumiku tunis just meaning “thy inner house” or “thy internal house”. The etymology of du is not fully known, though it is thought to be related to the locative case found in Similian which also ends with -u in most forms. As a general rule, it can be said that “du … [adjective]” modifies the meaning of said adjective to express either location or time. A few common examples are listed below:
|Example (with “du … [adjective]”)||Newreyan Translation||Example (without “du … [adjective]”)||Newreyan Translation|
|du Rjemu dus||in the house (stressing “in”)||Rjemu dus||in the inner house|
|du Rjemu tunis||in/within the house||Rjemu tunis||in the internal house; in the house within [something]|
|du Rjemu humis||next to the house, on the side of the house (implying directly next to it, touching its walls)||Rjemu humis||in the house next to [something]|
|du Rjemun humis||next to the house (implying at the house)||Rjemun humis||at the house next to [something]|
|du Rjemun jurais||to the left of the house||Rjemun jurais||at the left house; at the heart-like/lovely house|
|du Rjemun pjesris||to the right of the house||Rjemun pjesris||at the right house; at the hand-like/handy house|
|du Rjemu fadis||on top of the house||Rjemu fadis||in the upper house; in the head-like/smart house|
|du Rjemun fadis||above the house||Rjemun fadis||at the upper house; at the head-like/smart house|
|du Rjemu mowis||directly below the house||Rjemu mowis||in the house below|
|du Rjemun mowis||below the house||Rjemun mowis||at the house below|
|du Rjemun ehumis||close to the house||Rjemun ehumis||at the house close to [something]|
|du Rjemun ehis||far away from the house||Rjemun ehis||at the house far (away) from [something]|
|Tesan du Rjemun jurais.||It is to the left of the house.||Tesan Rjemun jurais [Rjemud ans].||It is at the house to the left [of another house].|
Personal pronouns are not necessary with conjugated verbs, Similian being a so-called pro-drop language. Similar to nouns, personal pronouns in Similian decline for grammatical cases.
1 The second person singular pronoun is usually written with ⟨ck⟩ or ⟨c⟩ instead of ⟨k⟩ in those cases, excluding the usage as a suffix.
2 The ⟨h⟩ is commonly dropped in spelling nowadays.
3 ⟨aj⟩ is an archaïc variant of ⟨ae⟩.
In Similian, verbs decline for person, number, tense and — to some degree — for aspect. There are two numbers, these being singular and plural, although some Old Similian texts appeared to have had a third number, most likely a dual number. In the plural, there are three persons, but there is one more in the singular which has been described as a “neutral person” or “fourth person [singular]”. It carries a similar meaning as the pronoun one in Newreyan (e.g. one sits).
Traditionally, there is three tenses in Similian: past, present and future. The future tense, however, only exists marginally nowadays and usually, future meaning is expressed using auxiliary verbs. This is believed to be an Alemannic influence onto the Similian grammar. Normally, the future is marked with the infix -eß- inbetween the verb stem and the personal conjugation. This is similar to the past tense, which uses -ed-, while the present tense is unmarked.
Most verbs end in the infinitive suffix -ati which derrives from Common Simo-Laphnaric hátă (“action” or “to do”). The suffixes used in declension are derriviants of the Common Simo-Laphnaric personal pronouns. Below is the declension of the verb wrokati (“to crush”), a regular verb to serve as an example for the -hati paradigm:
Though common across Cataisuran languages, Similian did not initially have dedicated words expressing “to be” or “to have”. These only exist since the Classical Similian period, although it took until the beginning of the Middle Similian period for them to become standard. It is generally assumed that the terms for “to have” and at least one of the verbs translating as “to be” as concepts have been borrowed from surrounding languages. There is one word for “to have” (hati) — not counting words translating to “to own” — and three words expressing “to be” in different contexts (heti, anati, tesati/teßati) — not counting words that translate as “to exist” or “to live”. With the exception of tesati (common variant: teßati), all of these are irregular verbs.
- Hati expresses the same as the Newreyan “to have” and is thought to be related to Alemannic „haben“ (specifically, the third person singular present tense „hat“) in one way or another. Unlike in many Cataisuran languages, hati is not used as an auxiliary verb in Similian (e.g. Newreyan “I have done this”, Alemannic „Ich habe das getan“ or « J’ai fait ça ») and almost always only expresses some form of ownership. It is sometimes suffixed to nouns, orthographically separated from it with a hyphen, though mostly stands as an independent word. It is worth noting that it changes the default sentence structure to S-O-V, and — eventhough it is still possible to write a sentence with hati with a different sentence structure (e.g. S-V-O) — this puts it in a special class of verbs, with other verbs defaulting towards V-S-O. The irregular declension of hati is noted in the table below:
|Person||Past Tense||Present Tense|
The absense of a dedicated declension for the future tense is also found in heti and anati. This is likely due to the Similian language already having been in the process of losing its future marking on verbs in Classical Similian. The forms haj and hedaj are also spelled as hai/hedai or hay/heday occasionally. Sometimes, the spelling ⟨ae⟩ is found, although this is generally viewed as a mistake — especially by prescriptivist spelling guides. In past tense, stress on the first syllable (hedam) as well as on the second syllable (hedam) can be heard.
- Heti is one of the three Similian verbs translating into Newreyan as “to be”. Grammatically, it shares most of its features with hati. This includes the occasional usage as a suffix, the default word order becoming S-O-V, and the fact that it is not used as an auxiliary verb. Similar as hati, it lacks a dedicated future tense and has an irregular past tense stem. It is irregular as well, but shares its conjugation with hati, with the only difference being the vowel, as seen below:
|Person||Past Tense||Present Tense|
One should note that the second person plural can also be spelled with a final ⟨i⟩ or ⟨y⟩ (hedei, hei; hedey, hey).
- Anati is another verb which translates into Newreyan as “to be”. It is exclusively used where the conjugated or unconjugated form of “to be” is used with a personal pronoun in Newreyan (e.g. Nan Anja “she/it is Anne”) and changes the default word order of the clause it appears in to S-V-O. Anati was derrived by verbalizing (nominative) personal pronouns with the verbalizing suffix -ati, previously derrived from the personal pronouns itself. A common alternative variant of anati is nati, which is used mostly in colloquial Similian and discouraged by most prescriptivist style guides. Nati is derrived from the irregular third person singular present tense conjugation: nan (instead of anan). Both, the conjugation of anati and its variant nati, are shown below:
|Person||Past Tense||Present Tense||Past Tense||Present Tense|
Once again, the ⟨j⟩ in the second person plural conjugation is sometimes spelled as ⟨i⟩ or ⟨y⟩ instead.
- Tesati or teßati is another verb roughly translating as “to be”. More specifically, it is usually used in a context of “to be there/here”, “to be it” or “to be this/that”; For example, the sentences Teßan Problem, Teßan teßu and Teßan rÿtys can be translated as something along the lines of “This is a problem”, “It is there/here” or “’Tis noble”. When standing alone, it is often used to refer to someone or something having arrived (again), Teßam “I am back”. The forms tesati and teßati are about equally common, with neither form being preferred by any style guides. Sometimes, different versions of the same book might be printed with different variants of this verb. This verb’s default word order is V-S-O, as with regular verbs. Similarily, its conjugation is entirely regular, in contrast to hati, heti and anati.
In Classical and Neoclassical Similian, verbs have commonly been compounded. Instead of having sequences with one verb declining for person and one or more verbs in their infinitive form, there would only be one declined verb. This is still a feature of Modern Similian, though it has become less common. Mostly, a small list of verbs is used in this way, especially nowadays, though it is common for Similian poets to make extensive use of this by forming very long verbs which would not be found in common speech. As an example, both of the sentences below translate to “I want to eat candy”:
want-1S eat-INF candy-ACC
Similian adjectives can be divided into three classes: -is adjectives, -s/-ß adjectives and adjectives with other endings. Defaulting towards being after the word they describe, they can also come infront of it. Most commonly, adjectives describe nouns in Similian, though they can also describe verbs or even other adjectives.
The -is class of adjectives includes almost all non-borrowed adjectives. It is used in almost all instances of forming new adjectives based on nouns or verb stems. In contrast to Similian nouns or verbs, -is adjectives are indeclinable. The suffix -is ultimately comes from Common Simo-Laphnaric -his, which it shares with most of the -s adjectives. These also do not decline, with the only difference to -is adjectives being that they have lost the vowel in their suffix due to phonological changes.
The third class of adjectives in Similian includes all adjectives that end in another consonant than -s (or -ß). Most of these are loaned from other languages (e.g. nórmal, defínitiv), although there are also some native adjectives in this category (e.g. man, meaning “one” or “alone”). This class actually is a merger from to earlier classes, with loan words and native words being in separate classes. Up until the mid-19th century, loaned adjectives could decline for number and, when referring to humans and sometimes animals, to gender. With this distinction having been lost, adjectives have a lack of declension that is quite stange for the Similian language.
Syntax is one of the aspects of the Similian language where influences of languages in language families other than Simo-Laphnaric are the most obvious. Over the past millenia, the syntax of Similian has been influenced primarily by Alemannic and Fiorentine, though older elements also remained present. This leads to syntactical constructions being found in Modern Similian absent from Classical Similian or Neoclassical Similian.
Similian word order is generally free, meaning that — for the most part — words can be reärranged in any way within a clause with no change to the general meaning of said clause. However, there is a series of exceptions to this rule. For example, adpositions have a fixed order in that they preceed or follow the word that they complement — or have a mixture of both in terms of circumpositions.
The default sentence structure of Similian is VSO, though SVO is also seen relatively regularily — especially in the spoken language. VSO is significantly more common in most sentences, with SVO only being the more common variant in sentences in which the subject is a personal pronoun. Being a pro-drop language, this means that sentences, such as VO, are considered perfectly grammatical in Similian. While OVS, OSV and SOV are also grammatically correct, they usually sound artificial to speakers of the language, unless the object or subject of a sentence is meant to be especially stressed. Word orders other than VSO and SVO are mostly limited to poetry. Changing the word order for questions as observed in many other Asuran languages is unusual in Similian and usually considered a sign that someone is not a native speaker.
This sentence structure is mostly true for all types of clauses and sentences. Similian relative or secondary clauses tend not to differ from the main clause in their word order, in contrast to Similian’s close relative Laphnaric. However not accepted in formal writing universally, there is a strong tendency to leave out parts of the sentence in the spoken language.
In the standard language, auxiliary verbs have to directly preceed the main verb (or main verbs), a rule commonly ignored in both poetry and — albeit to a lesser extent — the spoken language. In formal writing, however, it is nearly universal.
In contrast to this, adjectives can usually come both before or after a word, though they default to coming after a word — especially in cases where it might create ambiguity. Cases of ambiguity with adjectives arise due to the lack of a clear distinction between certain types of adverbs that are found in other languages and adjectives, so that an adjective can describe a verb preceeding the noun or the noun itself, for example. The sentence Wratjedam jestis Rumek could be translated either as “I quickly cleaned the house” or as “I cleaned the quick house,” though the former translation is more likely.
Whilst adjectives in some languages, including Newreyan, follow a specific order when several adjectives complement a word, Similian adjectives can come in any order. For example, saying Rum juwiris besis (house nice blue), Rum besis juwiris (house blue nice) and besis juwiris Rum (blue nice house) are equally acceptable in Similian. The order of the adjectives can be used as a means of emphacizing a specific word, though pitch plays a larger role in this than stress does.
The vocabulary of the Similian language is mostly derrived from proto Simo-Laphnaric roots, many of which have cognates in Laphnaric. On the other hand, many words found in Similian were loaned from other languages. Most commonly, loan words are found in natural sciences, technology and foreign cultural aspects and ideas. The largest number of loan words found in Similian comes from Alemannic, with both Fiorentine and Chalcian being close second and third places.
Besides that, Similian is — in a similar fashion to Alemannic — known for its sometimes long compound words.
Although there are many loan words from other languages within Similian, the opposite cannot be said to be true. Most words in other languages that originate in Similian are personal names, place names, such as Worod, or words only found in some Tudonian slang.
Fiorentine loan words predate Alemannic loans in Similian for the most part. Some of them have underwent the same sound changes as Similian did, such as Tálbul (“table”) from Fiorentine tabula, or Wéha (“journey”) from via. Interestingly, oftentimes, loan words undergoing Similian sound changes saw the original Fiorentine word be reborrowed without the respective changes — especially when there was a semantic shift. In the case of the previous example, via was later reborrowed as fja, meaning “via” as found on destination tables (e.g. Hílum fja Woród “Ziemtal via Worod”).
|3||ye||ae||[aɛ̯, aɪ̯, ɛɪ̯]|
|8||not||dar, der||[dar, dɛr, dər]|
|22||louse||Jeckr, Jekjer||[ˈjɛkᵊr; ˈjɛkʲɪr]|
|25||leaf||Aebal||[ˈaɛ̯bɑɫ, ˈaɪ̯~, ˈɛɪ̯~]|
|27||tree bark||Chjeta||[ˈçɛtə, xʲɛtə]|
|45||claw||Wresch, Wresje||[ˈɹɛʃ, ˈɹɛsʲɪ]|
|79||earth||Fragha (mud), Wrog (dry), Prusche (dust), Guldofjara (planet)||[ˈfraːə̯, ˈfraɣə], [ˈɹɔk], [ˈpruʃə], [ˌɡuɫdəˈfʲarə]|
|82||fire||Pjur (flame, smaller fire), Lighur (larger fire)||[ˈpʲur], [ˈliːʊ̯r, ˈliɣʊr]|
|88||green||aebis||[ˈaɛ̯bis, ˈɛɪ̯~, ˈaɪ̯~]|
Main Article: Similian alphabet
There are two writing systems in use for the Similian language. These are the Similian alphabet, a native writing system, and a Fiorentine-based alphabet. Within Similia, the Similian alphabet is used more and is also used in some official contexts. Elsewhere the Similian alphabet is mostly used for decorative purposes in public, though it may also be used more extensively privately according to individual preferences.
The Fiorentine-based alphabet of Similian is heavily inspired by the Alemannic alphabet. Similar as in Tudonia in general, fraktur is occasionally found in Similian writing, although it has always been less common than in Tudonian.
For the past few centuries, almost all Similian-language texts written with the Fiorentine alphabet (nicknamed «Fjorenta») have been written with similar spelling rules as found in Alemannic. For example, the phoneme /ʃ/ is spelled as ⟨sch⟩, according to Alemannic standards. Prior to the 19th century, it was common to encounter spellings, such as ⟨sc⟩, ⟨sj⟩ and ⟨sh⟩ — with the latter two being considered in case of a potential spelling reform. The main argument for the spelling change to ⟨sh⟩ that is commonly cited is that it would create more regularity alongside the digraphs ⟨gh⟩ and ⟨ch⟩, whilst others argue that many speakers — including speakers of the standard language — realize most or all instances of /ʃ/ as /sʲ/ instead, thus merging the two phonemes.
Similar as in Tudonian Standard Alemannic, there is a lot of variation within the orthography. This mostly counts for loan words, especially those from Fiorentine and Chalcian, such as Géográphja vs. Géjográfja (compare: Geographie vs. Geografie). However, instances of native words with variant spellings do exist as well. An example for this is Zan (“day”, “daytime”) with the variant spelling Djan. The change from ⟨z⟩ and ⟨tz⟩ to ⟨dj⟩ and ⟨tj⟩ reflects a shift in the pronunciation that is currently undergoing in Similian, where the affricates /d͡z/ and /t͡s/ shift towards the palatalized consonants /dʲ/ and /tʲ/, respectively. A similar change is observed with ⟨tsch⟩ and ⟨sch⟩ being replaced with ⟨tj⟩ and ⟨sj⟩, respectively, reflecting the change from /t͡ʃ/ to /ʃ/ towards /tʲ/ or /sʲ/.
C as a letter previously had two pronunciations: /k/, such as in Corpus and /s/, such as in Centrum. In the reformed orthography, it was decided to use ⟨k⟩ and ⟨s⟩ for the respective pronunciations, rather than ⟨k⟩ and ⟨z⟩, as found in Alemannic, due to the difference in pronunciation. The letter combination ⟨cc⟩ in traditional spelling is pronounced similar as in Newreyan: /k/ in some positions (e.g. Accord), but /ks/ in others (e.g. Accelerachta). The pronunciation as /k/ has been changed to a single ⟨k⟩ in the 1957 reform (e.g. Akord) and, where it is pronounced as /ks/ instead, the reformed spelling is ⟨ks⟩ (e.g. Akselerachta), although the traditional spellings still persist. In a similar manner, almost all instances of ⟨x⟩ have been replaced with ⟨ks⟩ in the orthography reform, such as in Sexvaliteght→Seksvaliteght (“sexuality”), Xylophon→Ksülofon (“xylophone”), or Examen→Eksamen (“exam”).
Every instance of ⟨y⟩ representing /i/ or /y/ has been respelled to ⟨i⟩ or ⟨ü⟩, respectively (e.g. Mythos→Mütos “myth”). In native words, with the exception of the second person singular pronoun (ack) and a few names (Hackerum), the digraph ⟨ck⟩ has been replaced by a simple ⟨k⟩, though this had already become a common spelling earlier. The same happened with ⟨th⟩ being respelled to ⟨t⟩, although this change also affected loan words (e.g. Thal, Theer, Muth, Thunan, Theater→Tal, Teer, Mut, Tunan, Tejater).
Mostly found in Chalcian loan words, the digraphs ⟨rh⟩ and ⟨ph⟩ have been replaced by ⟨r⟩ and ⟨f⟩, respectively (such as in Phantasja→Fantasja or Telephon→Telefon).
In the Similian alphabet, the symbol ⟨`⟩ is used to represent a pause in speech, or, to separate different items in enumberations. It has been transcribed as a comma in the Fiorentine alphabet, which resulted in the usage of commas being significantly more common in Similian than in Newreyan. Generally, secondary clauses are separated from main clauses and other secondary clauses with a comma; Getschesamek, tom darasorak “I usually tell thee, what thou knowst not”. Some words, oftentimes conjunctions, are followed and/or preceeded by a comma because there are pauses in speech.
Similar to Alemannic, the rules of capitalization require every noun to be capitalized. This also goes for adjectives, verbs and other types of words acting as nouns (known as „Nominalisierung“ in Alemannic and as «Hítokrífpüm» or «Hítokrífpemüm» in Similian). At times, it is only through capitalization that one can tell different word types appart.
|Fiorentine Alphabet||Scientific Transcription||Pronunciation (IPA)|
|c||k, c||/k/, /t͡s/|
|ch||ħ, k||/x/, /k/|
|s, ss, ß||s||/s/|
|ü, iu, iw||ü||/y/|
|v||f, v||/f/, /v/|
|y1||ij, ji, i, ü||/əj~əɪ/, /jə~ɪ̯ə/, /i/, /y/|
|z, tz||dz, c||/d͡z/, /t͡s/|
1Increasingly commonly, /əɪ̯/ and /ɪ̯ə/ are disambiguated by spelling them as ⟨ÿ⟩ and ⟨y⟩, respectively (e.g. Mÿster [ˈməɪ̯stɛr] “Master” vs. Myster [ˈmʲəstɛr] “bureaucrat”, “government worker”). This is based on the spelling of the former as ⟨ey⟩ and later ⟨yͤ⟩ in analogy to ⟨ö⟩, ⟨ü⟩ and formerly ⟨ä⟩ having been spelled as ⟨oͤ⟩, ⟨uͤ⟩ and ⟨aͤ⟩, respectively. Prior to that, the difference oftentimes was the usage of digraphs, such as ⟨ij⟩ or ⟨ji⟩, or the use of alternative glyphs, such as ⟨ŷ⟩, ⟨ȳ⟩ or ⟨ï⟩, in case of ambiguity. The usage of the letter Ÿ in Similian sporadically appeared in the early 1820s, but did not become widespread until the late 19th century. In handwriting, many speakers write it similar to ⟨ij⟩ or ⟨ŋ̈⟩, as ⟨y⟩ looks like ⟨ŋ⟩. Rarely, this is also seen in printing.
|Similian||Gloss||Translation (Lirwajew)||Translation (Aitalman)|
|Gurüm·ub fenljoris ne·herfurtedas, du Jaghri·um mal, Guroch·et ne Ochot·es pjuris ne dughris ne puris, ne en·erguldedan Hanus Guldus, en·höstasen Enu, Guldachta·w, Guldüm·ek.||darkness-ABL eternity-ADJ A-save-PAST-4S — du year-P·ADE many — thunder-COM and bang-INST fire-ADJ and size-ADJ and sudden-ADJ — and A-create-PAST-3S ruler creator — P-hallow-4S›3S 3S.ACC.M — macrocreation·LOC — creation-ACC||From eternal Darkness one was saved, many Year ago, with Thunder and through a Bang, firy and large and sudden, and was created by the Lord Creator, hallowed be He, in the Universe, Creation.||From eternal darkness one was saved many years ago with thunder and a firy, large and sudden explosion and the world was created within the universe by Lord Guldus, hallowed be He.|
/ˈɡurymub ˈfɛnlʲɔris nɛ.ɛrˈfurtɛdas du ˈjaɣrym mal ˈɡurɔxɛt nɛ ɔˈxɔtɛs ˈpʲuris nɛ ˈduɣris nɛ ˈpuris nɛ ɛnɛrˈɡuldɛdan ˈ(h)anus ˈɡuldus ɛnˈ(h)œstazen ˈɛnu ˈɡulˌdaxtaʊ̯ ˈɡuldymɛk/
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Similian: Enertjésáchta fénokjéntis Óesrien Ánien) Article one:
|Enkömat tjeris ne igeghis Ani fenis Tülsümet ne Oesriet.||AG-birth-3P free and equal person-P all dignity-COM and right-P.COM||All people are born freely and equally with dignity and rights.|