Christmas Cards

In case you’d like to see how the cursive is coming along, here is a picture of the sample text I worked from for sending out this season’s greetings for the Conlang Card Exchange:


ǧuris/ǧuria _____,
Blīðna Ǧultīn
& ǣn gōþ njuge jēr
fram kunia mīnatma dū þinatma
- Ǧamin


Dear (m/f) _____,
Happy Holidays
& a great New Year
from my family to yours
- Jamin

…which reminds me that at some point I need to post about some minor but helpful updates to the orthography of my transliteration, but that’s going to have to wait for another day.

Happy 2017!



So the behind-the-scenes things continue to go on behind the scenes, and you probably don’t want to know about them unless you’re really into array formulas, but one more tangible thing i can share with you is the Gutish cursive alphabet that i’ve been working on developing for a couple of months now. There are still a few kinks to work out (particularly with the medial forms of ‹m› and ‹l›) but i like the feel of it overall so far.


Just for fun, here's some misappropriated propaganda art.

“Þō blingis þerþlī́ðnaþ unta sō gamǣni jusiliþ.”
[θuː ˈbliŋ.gis θe̞ɾθ.ˈlai̯ð.naθ ˈun.ta suː ga.ˈme̞ː.ni ˈju.si.liθ]
‘The beatings will continue until morale improves.’


Minor Updates: Most of this is going on behind the scenes at the moment!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about Gutish, so I thought I should add a quick update. I’ve been doing a fair amount of work on it, but most of that work is a little more abstract than can fit conveniently into a blog, so I just want to give you an update of some of the highlights.


The diachronic rules for the transition from Gothic to Gutish are more or less complete. That’s not to say I might not make a few small changes going forward to make the pronunciation more palatable, but most of the kinks are worked out at this point. The latest version of the rules can be found here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9A-V86hffwbSTJuWkVac2Ziemc

Alphabet / Font

I’ve created a font for writing Gutish characters, which I presented in a rudimentary fashion back in 2013. To clarify: I didn’t actually create a font, per se, but I modified the existing Junicode font to include Gutish characters which were based on the same style. Here’s the alphabet and a sample text:

Orthography / Romanization

For the most part I’ve been using a Romanization of Gutish, but some of the characters have been nagging at me. I finally solved the things that have been bothering me in a couple of ways:

Because of vowel raising, the long vowels got a little screwed up, so to keep a 1:1 transliteration, I had to come up with something new for the mid-low long vowels (i.e. /eː/ and /oː/ from gothic /ɛː/ and /ɔː/, respectively. Eventually I decided on <ǣ> and <ǭ>, although there are no macrons in the Gutish characters. (The other long vowels are: /ai/ <ī>, /iː/ <ē>, /ɑː/ <ā>, /uː/ <ō>, and /au/ <ū>, and the two front round vowels, which did not undergo raising,
/øː/ <œ̄> and /yː/ <ȳ>.)


The lexicon that appears on the Gutish website is a little out of date – I know, I know. I’ve been working on a new style of lexicon that I haven’t quite perfected yet. For the time being, I’m keeping the corpus of the lexicon in a Google spreadsheet, and if I get it working correctly, I should be able to just click a few buttons, run a mail merge, and generate a new version of the lexicon at will. At the moment, though, the lexicon is just a tangled mass of “if” statements and arrayformulas. This is actually where I’ve done the greatest amount of work on the language recently, and also the area that least lends itself to being newsworthy.


Name Change... oops.

That awkward moment when...

...you get the rules polished up nicely only to realize that in the process you created a sound change (or, in this case, a lack thereof) which breaks your language’s name.

More specifically, there’s a rule that very explicitly states that only /j/ and /ī/ - not /i/ - cause i-umlaut. Therefore, “Gutish,” not “Gytish.”

In other news, the new complete rules coming up momentarily.


New update of Rules

Just a quick update to the list of Rules here.  I'm putting them into a PDF file, since the formatting isn't quite working out in a way that I'm happy with here on Blogger.  I've expanded them quite a bit, but as you can see by the highlighted sections, there are a still a couple of outstanding questions, and I probably still have some work yet to do getting my italics and /slashes/ and [brackets] and whatnot all in the right places, but that's an ongoing battle for every linguist.  (Isn't this what graduate assistants are for?)

The Rules


[h], conquered. Next?

I’ve done quite a bit of updating of the rules over the past several weeks, and I think I finally managed to solve all of the various problems with /h/ that I’ve been struggling with since the beginning of this project. Some of my solutions are a little unorthodox, linguistically-speaking, but whenever I think that something I’m doing is “weird,” I remind myself of the history of English and consider that reality is always weirder than anything I could come up with on my own.

Part of my vision for Gytic was that there would not be any sort of velar fricative in the phonemic inventory. Some claim that there was none in Gothic, and that all instances had been glottalized by Wulfilas’ time (which may or may not have been the case). Still, getting rid of all non-initial instances of /h/ without (re-)velarizing them comes dangerously close to turning the language into an Old Norse relex, and that wasn’t the feel I was going for.

Here is a summary the various /h/ conundrums, and how I’ve solved them so far.
  • Initial /h/ remains /h/ before a vowel. (E.g. háims → hēms [or, more specifically, haims, but we’ll deal with long vowel orthography later on.)
  • Initial /h/ becomes /þ/ before a sonorant. (E.g. hlahjan → þlahjan (ev. þlēn), hrōt → þrūt)
  • /h/ is deleted between two consonants. (E.g. milhma → milm)
  • /h/ is deleted after a short vowel, and the vowel becomes long. (This also applies to /hw/, freeing the /w/ to float around causing its own problems.) (E.g. ahtau → āta, saíƕan → sēwan (ev. sējun))
  • /h/ becomes /c/ ([ʃ]) before /j/. (E.g. hlōhjan → þlœ̄cin)
  • /h/ becomes /þ/ after a long vowel when word-final. (E.g. hāh → hāþ, skōh → skūþ)
  • /h/ becomes /f/ after a long vowel when not word-final. (E.g. þāhts → þaft, fāhan → fāfan (ev. favan))
In addition to updates to /h/, I’ve made a small adjustment to the diphthongs, and /iu/ now becomes /ju/ instead of the not-so-practical /ȳ/ (even though I really like it that way).

I’m presently working my way through reconstructing enough of the 207-word swadesh list to generate a good start to the lexicon. While there are plenty of other Gothic words to choose from, I thought it practical to start with a small sampling and get it “right” before I wasted a lot of time building up my lexicon only to have to revise it all each time I devise a new sound change. I’ll post the swadesh list here when I get it completed.


Experiment and Rule Updates

So just as an experiment, I decided to translate, verbatim, the pater noster from the original gothic. Just the words, mind you, not actually fiddling around with the grammar, to see if any new ideas or questions might reveal themselves in the manipulation of the phonology.

The original, with my gloss (and we can argue that on another blog):


swa nū bidjáiþ jūs:
atta unsar þu in himinam,
weihnái namō þein.
qimái þiudinassus þeins.
waírþái wilja þeins,
swē in himina jah ana aírþái.
hlaif unsarana þana sinteinan gif uns himma daga.
jah aflēt uns þatei skulans sijáima,
swaswē jah weis aflētam þaim skulam unsaráim.
jah ni briggáis uns in fraistubnjái,
ak lausei uns af þamma ubilin;
untē þeina ist þiudangardi jah mahts
jah wulþus in aiwins. amēn.
untē jabái aflētiþ mannam missadēdins izē, aflētiþ jah izwis atta izwar sa ufar himinam.
iþ jabái ni aflētiþ mannam missadēdins izē, ni þau atta izwar aflētiþ missadēdins izwarōs.

Gothic Gloss:

swa nū bidjɛ̄þ jūs:
atta unsar þu in himinam,
wīhnɛ̄ namō þīn.
kwimɛ̄ þiuđinassus þīns.
wɛrþɛ̄ wilja þīns,
swē in himina jah ana ɛrþɛ̄.
hlɛ̄f unsarana þana sintīnan gif uns himma daǥa.
jah aflēt uns þatī skulans sijɛ̄ma,
swaswē jah wīs aflētam þɛm skulam unsarɛm.
jah ni briŋgɛs uns in frɛstuƀnjɛ̄,
ak lɔ̄sī uns af þamma uƀilin;
untē þīna ist þiuđangardi jah mahts
jah wulþus in ɛ̄wins. amēn.
untē jaƀɛ̄ aflētiþ mannam missađēđins izē, aflētiþ jah izwis atta izwar sa ufar himinam.
iþ jaƀɛ ni aflētiþ mannam missađēđins izē, ni þɔ̄ atta izwar aflētiþ missađēđins izwarōs.

Gytc Gloss:

swā nau bidʒeþ jaus:
atta unsra þau in himinma,
waihne namo þain.
kwime þȳðnassas þains.
werþe wili þains,
swī in himin jā an erðe.
hlēf unsran þan sintainan gif uns himdag.
jā aflīt uns þat ai skulans saijem,
swaswī jā wais aflītma þem skulma unsarem.
jā nai bringes uns in frestyvni,
ak lœ̄si uns af þam yvlan;
unte þaina ist þȳðnagarþ jā māts
jā wulþas in ēwins. amīn.
unte jave aflītiþ manma misðīðnas iʒe, aflītiþ jā iʒus atta iʒur sā uvra himinma.
iþ jave nai aflītiþ manma misðīðnas iʒe, nai þō atta iʒur aflītiþ misðīðnas iʒuros.


swā nū bidʒeþ jūs:
atta unsra þū in himinma,
wīhne namo þīn.
kwime þȳðnassas þīns.
werþe wili þīns,
swē in himin jā an erðe.
hlaif unsran þan sintīnan gif uns himdag.
jā aflēt uns þat ī skulans sījem,
swaswē jā wīs aflētma þem skulma unsarem.
jā nī bringes uns in frestyvni,
ak lœ̄si uns af þam yvlan;
unte þīna ist þȳðnagarþ jā māts
jā wulþas in aiwins. amēn.
unte jave aflētiþ manma misðēðnas iʒe, aflētiþ jā iʒus atta iʒur sā uvra himinma.
iþ jave nī aflētiþ manma misðēðnas iʒe, nī þau atta iʒur aflētiþ misðēðnas iʒuros.

Preliminary Thoughts:

Final –wa, –wi → u
Final –u → a
Final –ja → i… implications here for class 1 weak verbs, end in /–in/, not /–na/. Class 2, /–on/ > /–an/, Class 3 /–na/, Class 4 /–nan/.

Some specifics about vowel reduction: Short vowels are deleted in unstressed interior syllables, but that has to happen after vowel reduction in final syllables, and if a final syllable is reduced to a syllabic (which will later be expanded), the unstressed internal vowel cannot be deleted (e.g. himinam > himinm̩ > himinma, not himinam > himnam > himn̩m̩ > himnama) …or do I actually like that better?

It looks like I’m going to want to start separating the clitics before vowel raising and umlaut, or ‘þatei’ is going to become ‘þetē’ instead of ‘þat ī’.

I’m starting to like the idea of intervocalic /f/ and /þ/ becoming voiced; I think I’m going to make that an official rule, since too many years of studying Old Norse are making me constantly do it accidentally anyway. I don’t think I’ll extend it to /s/, though.

Interestingly enough, despite all of the sound changes I’ve implemented, the orthography I’ve proposed makes it all very similar to the original; I’d imagine that a Gytc speaker would be able to read Gothic, though brutally mispronounce it, much in the same way Icelandic speakers can read Old Norse. Or, well, for that matter, the way we spell English in, ostensibly, Late Middle English.

New rules:
  • [ij]V→īV (this can be stuck in just before long vowel raising, maybe as part of Final Short Vowel Lengthening… only no longer just final), and 
  • Ø → j / V[+stressed]____+v (this is a persistent rule from early on in Gothic). 
    • Hence, sija > sīja, ijōs > ījos, etc. Looks like this is going to tromp on my dreams of ija becoming iʒa, but that’s okay; that needed to be sorted out anyway. 
  • [f,þ] → [+voiced] / V_____S. (Any reason not to add this in as an extension of stop-to-fricative expansion?)
  • Clitic separation
    • –ei#, -u-, -uh# → #ei#, #u#, #uh# (ev. ī, ū, ō)
      • /ū/ precedes the primary verb.
  • Deus Ex Machina
    • A nice little persistent rule I made up that can contain non-locatable changes or things I just think would sound better (like mf# → m), but don’t feel like explaining or putting into historical context.
I've updated the rules list at http://ling.everywitchway.net/germanic/east/gothic/gytc/rules, along with still-outstanding questions. Bulleted and numbered lists are a bear in any system, and forget about moving from MS Word to Google Sites, so please forgive any inconsistencies for the time being. Once they're a little more solidified I'll try to go through the actual HTML code and make sure they're polished up a little.


Revision of Rules, and Unanswered Questions

I’ve been trying to simplify and clarify the rules I’d created at http://ling.everywitchway.net/germanic/east/gothic/gytc/rules, which were getting a little unwieldy. So far I’ve broken them down into 12 distinct stages, which may be able to be further reduced, but I want to be careful not to break anything (that I don’t want to break) as I manipulate them.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Expansion of Intervocalic Voiced Stop to Fricative
    1. [b],[d] → [v],[ð] / V____[+sonorant]
      • Intervocalic /b/ and /d/ become continuant (if this hadn’t already happened in Gothic by this point).
      • This does not affect /g/ at this time. OR, Gothic realization of intervocalic /g/ as [γ] reverts to [ɡ].
      • Gothic realization of intervocalic /b/ as [β] becomes [v].
      • Expands to include /b/ and /d/ before any sonorant (any vowel or l, r, n, m)
  2. Devoicing of Obstruent Clusters
    1. CC[+voice] → [-voice]
      • Voiced obstruent clusters become unvoiced.
      • [Must precede Rhotacism]
  3. Rhotacism
    1. z → ʒ
      • Rhotacism begins with all instances of /z/.
      • [Must follow Devoicing of Obstruent Clusters] 
  4. Final Short Vowel Lengthening
    1. V́# → V̄
      • A stressed final short vowel becomes long.
      • [Must precede vowel raising]
  5. Stressed Long Vowel Raising & Diphthong Contraxion
    1. V̄́[-low] → [+high] 
      • A stressed long vowel is raised.
        • /ī/ and /ū/ are raised to diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/, respectively.
        • /ē/ and /ō/ are raised to /ī/ and /ū/, respectively.
        • /ɛ̄/ and /ɔ̄/ are raised to /ē/ and /ō/, respectively.
        • /ā/ is not affected.
      • [Must follow Short Vowel Raising]
      • [Must precede h-Assimilation]
    2. VV → V̄
      • Dipthongs (i.e. ai, au, iu) become condensed into long vowels (ē, ō, ȳ, respectively).
      • Do you see how I cleverly averted all the controversy about the pronunciation of /ai/ and /au/ by making both /ɛ̄/,/ɔ̄/ and /ai/,/au/ end up as /ē/,/ō/, respectively? Please note, though, that the short forms remain short.
  6. [h]-Assimilation
    1. Vh → V̄Ø
      • /h/ is deleted after a short vowel, and the vowel becomes long.
      • [Must follow Stressed Long Vowel Raising]
  7. Umlaut
    1. V́[-front] → [+front] / ____(σ)/ī/,/j/
      • A stressed non-front vowel (i.e. a, ā, o, ō, u, ū) becomes fronted (i.e. e, ē, œ, œ̄, y, ȳ, respectively) when /ī/ or /j/ occurs in the following syllable. 
      • (Not affected by [i] at this time.)
  8. Assimilation of Final [s] After a Defricate*
    1. s# → Ø / [sp],[st],[sk]_____
      • /s/ is deleted word-finally after /st/ or /ʃ/.
      • [Concurrent with P&A?]
      • *Defricate is a completely made-up word. Is there a better (non-lengthy) term for what I’d consider the opposite of an affricate? At least in terms of [s]+stop?
  9. Palatalization & Affrication
    1. [sk] → [ʃ] / V[+front][+high] _____
      • /sk/ becomes palatalized (“/c/”) when it follows a high front vowel (i.e. e, ē, i, ī)
    2. [tj],[kj] → [ʧ] and [dj],[gj] → [ʤ]
      • /tj/,/kj/ and /dj/,/gj/ become affricates (/tc/ and /dʒ/, respectively).
  10. Vowel Reduction
    1. V̄[-stress] → V
      • Unstressed long vowels become short.
      • [ī,ē,ā,ō,ū,(ȳ) → i,e,a,o,u,(y)]
    2. V[-stress] → [+reduced]
      • Unstressed short vowels are deleted or reduced.
        • a → Ø
        • i,e,o,u → ə
      • [Must follow Umlaut, Palatalization, and Affrication]
      • [Must it? Maybe this needs to happen before Umlaut to make sense?]
  11. Final Obstruent Devoicing (persistent)
    1. C[+obstruent,+voice,+continuant)]# → [-voice]
      1. Word-final [v,ð,z] → [f,þ,s]
      2. [Is this even necessary, since it’s a persistent rule?]
  12. Syllabic Expansion
    1. S[+syllabic] → [-syllabic]ə
There are still a few unresolved issues I need to work out or work into this system.  Among them (complete with some of my scrawled unanswered questions):
  • Voicing of intervocalic fricatives: f,þ,s → +voice / V_____V/Son.? 
    • Is this necessary? 
    • Why do I want to do this? 
    • This would give us [ēði] (< aiþei) instead of [ēþi], but what about aiþþau? [ēþo]? [ēðo]? 
    • Would have to happen after rhotacism, or that could get ugly. 
  • g → Ø / ŋ____[+nasal] 
    • I just think it would sound better when you end up with words like gangna or gangma. 
    • What else is it going to impact? 
    • Where to put it? Can this be concurrent with any other rules? 
  • jj → ʒ 
    • Why? 
    • I kind of want /ija/ to become [iʒə], but at what cost? Maybe it should just end up as [ī]? 
    • How? 
  • Geminates? 
  • mf# → m, re: fimf > fim 
    • Expansion of ŋ-deletion to include Vmf → V̄f? 
      • No, that would result in fīf instead of fim. 
    • I hate the /f/ there! I want it gone! 
    • Could I live with [fīf] instead? 
      • No, way too Ingvaeonic. It’s got to come out [fim].
    • Some sort of [f/b] interaction after [m]? 
      • Does this violate Verner or the Prime Directive? 
      • Why not? English does it plenty (comb, climb, lamb...) 
      • Can I live with fimb? Maybe...
    • Hey, what if I did expand ŋ-deletion not only to f but also s and/or þ. It could do some cool things to plural endings, turning the acc.pl. into some nifty shapes.
      • Yeah, and also give you uns > ūs, fimf > fīf, and tanþus > tāþa.
        • Hello, north-germanic sea coast. No.
  • According to the rules above, “badja” would decline thus: 
    • sing: baða, beʤis, beʤ, baða 
    • pl: beʤ, beʤe, beʤma, beʤ 
    • Weird contrast between [ð] and [ʤ]. But cool weird? Dunno yet. 
  • Re: the h-assimilation rule, what about faíhu? 
    • [fēu > fēa] is weird and awkward, and I don’t want the vowels to get too uppity. 
    • Clarify the rule to only apply to [h] when it’s a coda to the short vowels nucleus? 
      • That would give us [feha], which is even more awkward-sounding. 
    • [fē]? 
      • No, that’s Old Norse. 
    • Still a conundrum.
    • For that matter, there are a lot of problems with vowels crashing into other vowels they shouldn't be associating with. kniu/kniwa? Not to mention faíhiwē... yuck.
  • Unstressed Short Vowel Reduction: 
    • The rule I wrote above I think just applies to word-final short vowels. Should it be complete deletion for non-final short vowels, e.g. gytc from gutisk, instead of gytac, as the rules would spit out? Need more examples. 
  • Clitics become separated from roots. 
    • –ei (relative) > ī [aj]. 
    • –u– (interrogative) > u > ū > ū [aw]. 
      • Has to occur before final short vowel lengthening. 
      • Where to put “ū”? Before the verb? 
    • –uh > ō [ū]. 
      • Frequent cases where it can still be clitic, but immune to unstressed vowel reduction? 
      • weizuh > wīʒū, or wīs ū? 
      • Remains clitic for pronouns and determiners only?


Vowel Arrangement

I’ve been trying to expand on my idea from the last post about using the lowered equivalents of raised long vowels to avoid the awkward diphthongs /ai/ and /au/, but I ran into a bit of a roadblock when I realized that that was going to “break” ē and ō, which were already raised from ɛ̄ and ɔ̄. I think I’ve got it solved, though, by giving a little nod to Wulfilas and rearranging my prejudices about diphthongs. So here’s my revised vowel system to Gytc:

Short vowels

i [i]
y [y]
e [e]*
œ [ø]*
a [a]
a [ə]
o [o]*
u [u]
* The short middle vowels o, e, and œ, fall somewhere between [o,e,ø] and [ɔ,ɛ,œ], respectively. Their long equivalents are more closed.

Long vowels

ē [i:]
ȳ [y:]
ai [e:]
œ̄ [ø:]

ā [a:]
au [o:]
ō [u:]


ī [ai]
ū [au]
ei [ei]*
eu [eu]*

* /ei/ and /eu/ are the i-umlaut forms of /ai/ and /au/, respectively.

Okay, back to work.

So after a bit of a hiatus, I’ve been prompted by one of my conlang groups to keep working on gytc, so I’m getting back to work.

Yeah, um... this:

So that prompted this:

I’ve still got some work to do on it -- finding better unicode letters to represent various letters without mucking around with the whole private use subsets and creating a font and whatnot; finding better transliterations for a couple of characters; reevaluating my phonemic inventory -- but it’s a start.

Otherwise, not much has changed on the Gytc front, except for a sort of wicked idea: I think, to avoid “ugly” orthography like “mains” for [maɪns], I want to pull a page out of the English handbook and use the lowered version of long vowels (except ā) to represent their raised or diphthong equivalents, e.g. “mīns.” Also “hūs” ([haʊs] = house), fōts ([fu:ts] = foot), mēna ([mi:nə] = moon).

I’m still a little non-committal about certain sounds, though. II still have no idea whether /ʒ/, which is intended to be some sort of rhotic, should be [r], [ɾ], [ʁ], or even [ʒ]. I’m not sure I even want to make that determination – I just want to be sure that it’s differentiated from /z/ [z], which has to come from a voices /s/, and /r/ [ɾ] which comes from a “real” Protogermanic /r/.


Silly things

I haven't had the opportunity to work on gytc for a while, but I was just playing around with some silly phrases and decided to include them here, gathering up a couple of fun new words.
  • Flȳgwagnas mains ist ēla fuls! (My hovercraft is full of eels!)
  • Ik kann glas itna.  It nī harmiþ mik. (I can eat glass.  It does not hurt me.)
  • Ik im jausts. (I am cheese.)