“Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.”

Language of the Sirens

Introduction
The Language of the Sirens or Sirenic (A Bel Nath Siren [ɐ bel nɐθ siren], lit. "The Song of the Sirens") is the most spoken language in the Sea Realm of my world. It is closely related to the Language of the Undine, both of which are a part of the greater Sirenia Language Family. It is typologically a fusional language inflecting the verb for person and the pronouns and the articles of noun for case, plurality, and tense.

Phonology
  • The romanization is in parenthesis next to the phoneme.
  • Some consonants can be doubled to create gemination, or in the case of the "r", a trill.

  • Sirenic has vowel harmony between the positive/low vowels (ɐ, o), the negative/high vowels (e, u), and the neutral vowel (i).
  • The neutral vowel can go with both high vowels and low vowels.
  • This diagonal vowel harmony is a result of a great vowel shift from the earlier vertical alignment of the Sirenia Language.
  • After the great vowel shift, overtime some vowels were lost and became rounded, higher, or lower to mirror existing vowels (ɯ→u, ɔ→o, ɨ→e).


Writing System
The Sirenic writing system is a featural alphabet. It originated from the Old Sirenia writing system which combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Each letter base resembles a specific object that it used to signify in Early Sirenia when it took on both a phonetic attribute and a logographic meaning; a trident for p, a snail or spiral shell for t, a starfish for r, a seahorse for l, a clamshell for h, a fish for s, a jellyfish for positive vowels, kelp for negative vowels, and bubbles for various vowels and to change the articulation of the base consonants, such as whether they are voiced, fricative, geminate, or palatalized.
The alphabet is written horizontally from top to bottom in lines going right to left. The jellyfish and kelp letters are used to mark if the vowels in the word are positive or negative, and they are written twice for each word; once at the beginning of the word and then flipped upside down and written again at the end of the word.

Grammar
Sirenic is generally an SOV language and uses nominal TAM in which the tense is expressed by inflecting the noun instead of the verb. In this particular language it is expressed by inflecting the article of the noun, and this is also how the other noun cases and plurality are expressed. Pronouns are inflected in the same manor as the articles, and the third person pronouns are the articles. There is also a distinction between masculine, feminine, and neutral in Sirenic.
In Early Sirenic the cases were also expressed at the end of the nouns themselves, but eventually they were dropped and only remained present on the articles/pronouns. These case noun endings can still be seem in poems, although it is very archaic. In Old Sirenia, the non-past and past markers were separate and came at the beginning of a sentence, however, by the time of Early Sirenic they had fused with the pronouns/articles of nouns becoming clitics and eventually an inflection.
Verbs in Sirenic are inflected only for person without plurality; first person uses the ending -(a/e)s, second person uses the ending -(a/e)n, and third person uses the ending -(a/e)l. The verb ending -(a/e)r can take on the meaning "while" or "and" for separating clauses, and in other instances it combines with following verbs and phrases to take on specific meanings:

  • i- (to exist, to have) → progressive/continuous aspect: se myalaris (I am waiting)
  • vott- (to long for) → "to want to": se var vottas (I want to go)
  • mathyo- (to see) → "to try to": zo beler mathyol (he tried to sing)
  • truz- (to be skilled)  "to be able to": sa suver truzel (she can swim)
  • bless- (to be okay, good) → "to be allowed to": su dhahar blessen (you may eat)
  • threp- (to be sorry) i midhel neth hyasar se threpes (I'm sorry that I forgot about our meeting)
  • aliv- (to be thankful) → e mathyor se alivas (thank you for watching me)
The imperative is formed by using the verb root by itself and with the accusative form of the pronoun; u va! (you go!), uth va! (you all go!), eth va! (let's go!), etc. The suffix -i is used to ask a question (i.e. se var blessesi? "may I go?"), and the affix -(a/e)mo/u- is used for negation (i.e. u vamo! "don't go!", se var vottamos "I don't want to go"). Adjectives are generally treated like verbs. When modifying a noun they come before the noun and can take on the ending -a/e to show indefiniteness (i.e. a bless bel "the good song", a blesse bel "a good song"). When a verb or verb phrase modifies a noun it goes in front of the noun and is conjugated normally (i.e. o se mathyos siren "the man I saw", sa e mathyol siren "the woman who saw me").

Text Example: A Poem in Sirenic


Romanization:
Zeth sireneth na mer.
La ehte thyar zha fel suver,
Li sin na vat vuyer,
Zeth a bel neth beles.
Vith sir na mer la hamon vusher,
Oth vuleth nith sirzyeth thruher,
Zeth a bel neth beles.
Zeth sireneth na mer.

Translation:
We are the sirens of the sea.
Swimming throughout this deep blue void,
Resonating till the end of time,
We sing our song.
Living in harmony with the creatures of the sea,
Pleasing the ears of listeners,
We sing are song.
We are the sirens of the sea.

*The plural -a/eth ending on some of the nouns is archaic and not used colloquially.

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