Ämärangnä Language (Adytite)
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Introduction

Native to Russia
Region Minusinsk Hollow, Tyva Republic
Ethnicity 20 Yeniseian Ämärang, 14 Sayan Ämärang, 13 Altay Ämärang (2009 census)1
Language family Uralic
Early forms Old Adytite, Dark-L Dialect
Dialects Upper Yeniseian, Late Adytite (Light-L Dialect), Sayan, Northern and Southern Altaic
Writing System Traditional Sarkic and Mongolian scripts, Latin, Cyrillic

The actual name of the Adytite language as given by its native speakers in Southern Siberia, the Upper Yenisei and the Sayan mountains is Ämärangnä,2 the Ämärang, otherwise known as the Yenisei river, being the historical homeland of the Adytite speakers. The natives have also called it Nälmäsäk or Nälkänä, Holy tongue and Tongue of Nälkä respectively.

The language is only used for religious ritual3 and very few actually converse in it, those who do doing so in private since the language is secret. The only outsiders who know of it are the Foundation anthropologists that spent time amongst the Ket shamans who speak it. The language has not changed much in the last three thousand five hundred years due to the strict methods by which the shamans preserve the orally transmitted Sarkist scriptures. Learners are required to pronounce each syllable correctly.

The populations which speak Ämärangnä consist entirely of Ket people and individuals with mixed ancestry who are direct descendants of the Okunev Culture's people. Half of the latter's ancestry is Yeniseian, made evident by the very frequent presence of the Q1 Y-chromosomal haplogroup subclade, and the other half is Uralic, characterized by the haplogroup N1c-. The Okunev culture was a united conglomerate of Yeniseian speaking Siberians who had migrated south from the taiga, and Ämärangnä speaking Siberians who had, in all actuality, migrated from the Liao Civilization, the homeland of pre-Proto-Uralic. These two populations had peaceful relations with one another and possessed two similar cultures. When the warlike, Aryan Adronovo culture, aka the Daeva, began moving increasingly eastwards, as far the Upper Yenisei, tensions grew. Many Okunev were enslaved, and eventually a revolt was perpetuated by Karcist Ion.4 The uprising pushed back the Indo-Iranians and thus began the Karasuk Culture.

Adytite is a unique language, being split-ergative with agglutinative and (compositional) polysynthetic features. It is extremely idiomatic, with speakers sometimes preferring to use idioms and comparisons over stative verbs when describing a noun. It has also attracted the curiosity of linguistics because of its verb serialization, virtual lack of a case system.5

Adytite Sound Changes

Adytite was an agglutinative Uralic language spoken in the Bronze Age around modern day Western Siberia, and can be regarded as an early offshoot of Proto-Uralic which developed around and was influenced by both Proto-Samoyedic, the Tungusic, and the Yeniseian languages, thus it shares many sound changes with the former. Adytite is thus related to Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian. The innovations from Proto-Uralic proper are:

  • Pervasive vowel harmony.
  • Syncope, loss of unstressed vowels especially in compound words.
  • Merging of *ï, /ɯ/, and *u to /ɯ/, written as u.
  • PU *x > *ø
  • Final /Vw/ > /u/
  • /a/ > /e/ in the environment of /j/
  • Loss of intervocalic /j/.
  • /ɬ/ > /l/, in the more eastern Sayan dialect it became /ɮ/ in the middle of words but merged with /s/.
  • PU /ɬʲ/ as well as PU *l in medial positions > /j/
  • The geminate consonants of Proto-Uralic appear in Adytite as consonant clusters of nasal + stop. PU *lappe, flat, > laba; *koppV, lung, > kombo, *kokka, hook, protruding edge, > konko. There are however exceptions, and /kk/ may appear as a plain/k/.
  • A loss of nasals in the clusters *Nš, *Nč, *Nć, *Nś, Nľ, Nr, and Nl.
  • *ś and *š merge to /s/. A new š develops only later as an allophone of /sj/, which itself developed from syncope.
  • Loss of palatalization as a secondary feature.
  • *ć and *č merge to /ts/.
  • ∅ → /ŋ/ word-initially (a Samoyedic idiosyncrasy).

Note that there is some evidence that Adytite descends not from Proto-Uralic proper, but from an earlier form of the proto-language. This is because of forms like Valksaran supposedly from PU walke-śarna, saran seems more like a pre-syncope stage of the word *śarna, which has theoretically lost the /a/ in the second syllable thereby creating the consonant cluster /rn/. Another example would be lüjekütakeŋ, which under the normal theory comes from *lülV + *kütke- + *ŋ. But again, kütake have added an extra vowel between /t/ and /k/.

Phonology

Vowels

Front Back
Close i /i/, ü /y/ u /ɯ/
Mid e /e/ o /o/
Open ä /æ/ a /ɑ/

Consonants

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ ŋ /ŋ/
Plosive and Affricate p /p/ t /t/ k /k/
Affricate ts /t̠͡s/
Sibilant s /s/
Fricative v /v/
Lateral l /l/
Trill r /r/
Semivowel j /j/
  • The stops and sibilants were voiced in between vowels.

Dialects

There were many distinct dialects of Adytite, the most recognized being the Dark-L and Light-L dialects respectively, spoken somewhat to the east of the Yenisei. The first is distinguished by the sound change of /l/ in the coda to /ɫ/, further changing to /o/. The Light-L dialect didn’t share this innovation. Some parts of the Valkzaron seem to have been composed by speakers of both dialects, as the phrase Valksaran (“bright words”) is Light-L, the Dark-L equivalent being voksaran. The Light-L dialect ended up changing /l/ in the coda to /j/, thus Valksaran became Vajksaran.

/ɬ/ and /ɬʲ/ > /ɮ/ occurred in the Sayan dialect in the middle of words but merged with /s/ initially. Here the nasal vowels we're preserved, which were the result of a loss of nasals in the clusters *Nš, *Nč, *Nć, *Nś, Nľ, Nr, and Nl. The Sayan dialect borrowed many words from Yeniseian, and /u/ became unrounded.

The Upper Yeniseian dialect strengthened /v/ to /b/, /j/ to /dʲ/, /r/ to /d/ word initially, and /ŋ/ to /g/, gaining voiced stops. This dialect effectively eliminates most consonant clusters, /lC/ to /uC/, /rC/ to /dVC/, ect. It also gained a new /x/ from clusters of /ɫj/ and /kj/. In cases where a /u/ developed from a former /ɫ/ and was preceded /u/, an intervening /w/ emerged which later became another source of /b/. Diphthongs like /ue/ became /we/ and then /əbe/.

Both the Northern and Southern Altai dialects have shortened final /ŋV/ to /ŋ/. They have the following sound changes.

  • /v/ > /b/
  • init. /ŋV/ > /Vŋ/
  • Proto-Uralic /oj/ > /ü/
  • /æ/ > /e/

Vocabulary

Adytite has a great deal of borrowings from Deva (Indo-European) dialects and the Tungusic languages. However, the majority of its vocabulary is directly derived from Proto-Uralic.

Old Adytite Late Adytite Proto Uralic English Meaning
koja koja *kolja evil spirit, demon
vasa važ *wanša old, ancient
juma juma *juma sky god, deity
ŋorok norok *arV + diminutive suffix -kka butcher, ripper
soone sone *sōne sinew, vein, scroll
koratsa karadz *korvV to scrape, engrave, tattoo
saran saran *śarna incantation, word, speech
nälikä nälkä *ńä(x)li + ka hunger, lust
kulo kulo *kOlV (intestinal) worm
ŋalka najka *alka end (front or back), beginning; to begin
kalma kajma *kalma corpse; grave
lüjekütake lükütaka *lülV + *kütke- + *ŋ (literally Pray for strength/bond prayer for strength
Valksaran (underlying valke-saran) vajksaran *walkV + *śarna shining words
katsa kadz *kaća young, unmarried man
koe koi *koje man, person
komi komi *kojmV man, person
minä min *mińä daughter-in-law, young woman
nae nai *naje woman, wife; to marry
niŋä niŋ niŋä woman, wife; to marry
nüta nüta *nojta sorcerer, shaman, priestess; to conjure
ŋura nura *urV man, male
merätä märäd *mertä man, person
nisu nizu *nisV woman
matse madz *mańćV man, person
ŋono non *onV big, much
änä än *enä big, large, much, many
ere ere *erV big, large, much, many; old
ütsi ütsi *üčV big; thick (ücik, dick)
tsatsa tsa *čančV ~ *čačV to walk, step, go
ilma ilma *ilma sky, weather, god
jaka jag *jakka to go, reach
jum jum *jomV to go
tsaba tsab *ćappV to hit, chop
tsaŋa tsaŋg *čaŋV- to hit
kao kau *kajo to touch, hit
sinta sin *sitta shit, dung
luli luli *lewlV breath; soul
süve süb *sewe to eat
üra üra *ürV to drink
juui juui *juxi to drink
kunsi kunsi *kunsi to urinate, urine
jukusi juksi *jokse to copulate
nusuka nuska *nuska to sneeze
ŋola nol *oɬa to sleep, lie down

Borrowings

Old Adytite Late Adytite Daevite (Indo-Iranian) English
sak sak sak- holy, sacred
tavas tavas dajwas god, sky
jampa jamb jamb to copulate
akaras karas agras field, pasturage
paraca paradz pracha to pray, ask
ankis ang agnis God of Fire
taca tadz dajcha to take, trade, to give
satus satus sadus successful, accomplished, rich man
akarama akaram akarma celibacy
sukanta sukand skanda ascension6, to rise

Pronunciation Guide for Noobies

Vowels

  • I is pronounced like the long ''ee'' sound in feet, never like the short ''i'' in sit.
  • Ü is pronounced like the ü in Mandarin Chinese and Turkish. It is an ''ee'' sound, but with rounded lips as if someone was saying ''ew''.
  • E as in bet.
  • O as in boat.
  • U as pronounced like the long ''oo'' in food, never like the short ''u'' in but.
  • Ä as in cat.
  • A as in father, never like the ''a'' in fate.

Note: Double spelling indicate a longer duration, but nevertheless a short vowel and its long equivalent are the same vowel. For instance, ''aa'' is pronounced as in father, but slightly longer.

Consonants

  • J is a ''y'' sound as in year, and is never pronounced like the ''j'' in judge.
  • C is pronounced like the ''ts'' in cats.
  • R is like the Spanish trilled r.

Tip: Adytite is an Uralic language, which means that the stops (p, t, c, and k) are not aspirated like the ones in English. In English stops are normally accompanied by a burst of airflow.

For example put your hand to your mouth while saying pie, and then say spy. The former is pronounced with aspiration, the latter isn't. Using the guide, try to pronounce Adytite stops like the latter, never the former. In the middle of words, the stops may be voiced like English b, d, j, and g, but since most Uralic languages don't distinguish between voiced and voiceless, it shouldn't make a difference.

Grammar

Nouns

Adytite nouns had fourteen noun cases and three numbers, singular, dual and plural. Grammatical gender was not recognized and no Uralic language does so even today. Noun articles were unknown.
The plural marker of nouns was -t in final position and -j- in non-final position, as seen in Finnish. The dual marker was-k-.

The cases were:

  • direct case (no suffix)
  • oblique/lative case -m
  • ablative/partitive case -ta / -tä

The following idioms are used for the comparative, X kala, Y cüŋkä7, or X Y-m kaŋ kava8. The combination of the adverb over with all makes for the superlative.

Adpositions

Adytite uses postpositions rather than prepositions, so instead of saying I went to Japan, one would say, I Japan-to go. Interestingly, Adytite sometimes employs verbs and serial verb-constructions instead of adpositions, with see-penetrate instead of see through (there is no word for through), and give instead of for.

Adjectives

Adjectives are not distinguished from verbs, and Adytite doesn't possess very many of them. Since Adytite is an extremely idiomatic language, comparisons are often used instead. For example-

  • Tom is strong - Tom na kucu, Tom na kucu cilaki uree, Tom na kucu sivike uree (lit. Tom has strength, Tom has strength resembling the biceps of a bear, or resembling a bear.)
  • I like flowers - mi curumut rem käjä ŋäcäm (lit. I flowers color blood love).

Verbs

The verb was inflected for tense, aspect (*-va indicated "nonpast", *-ka indicated "perfect nonpast; imperative", *-ja indicated "past") and mood (*-ne indicated "conditional-potential").

Adytite verbs attest to the archaic age of the language, with several grammatical innovations apparent in the oldest texts that could not have arisen over a short period of time. Adytite verbs has features typical of a compositional polysynthetic language, with verb-serialization and noun incorporation playing a role in grammar. Examples of verb serialization are-

  • I see through the lies of the Deva - Mi Tüstaatan selutam van soole (lit. I the Deva's lies see-penetrate)
  • We'll climb over the mountain - Man kalam kaŋ kava (lit. We mountain climb-rise)
  • We shot him and he died - Man sam lam veje (lit We him shoot-kill)

The person endings are-

Subjective Objective
1sg -m -ma
2sg -t -ta
3sg -a
1du. exc -mankätikä -mankätikää
2du -tan tana
3du -ki -kja
1du. incl -man -mana
1pl exc. -mankun(a) -mankunaa
2pl -tat -tata
3pl -t -ta
1pl incl. -mat -mata
Space kü-
Reflexive isea, icea
Reciprocal totää

The "space" prefix can be translated as "an area, place, space close to smth" as in kücaŋa, "s/he almost hit (it)". This is an affixal polysynthetic feature in that an original adverb meaning close has become a verbal affix. A verb prefixed with kü- and suffixed with an Inanimate Object Suffix would specify what type of object one came close to hitting.

Reduplication of the initial syllable forms the habitual aspect, and reduplication of the whole word forms a kind of intensive aspect with habitual overtones. Lengthening the initial vowel and then reduplicating it forms the Continuous with an optional suffix, -nü-j-e-kura9. Ekura is a verb meaning not finish used in serial verb constructions as an equivalent of the Continuative aspect10. The progressive is marked by -na.

Another kind of Continuative aspect, the one in sentences like, The economy's been rough but I'm still makin' it, is expressed by the verb ekujuna11. Kuju12 would express the Terminative.

The Defective, another example of verb-serialization, is expressed by the verb kümäjü13

The adverb pile14 marks the durative, kava15 the Protractive, 16 the Intentional, and ekarama17 the Accidental.

The future tense was marked by words like soon or not now, as well as serial verb constructions like Mi caca süve18.

Inanimate Object Suffixes

Suffix Explanation Examples
-peŋe Roundish Object bottle, ball, boot, head, ect.
-japa Flat Object blanket, coat, sack of groceries, table, ect.
-cupa Slender Flexible Object rope, mittens, socks, pile of fried onions, etc.
-taŋke Slender Stiff Object arrow, bracelet, skillet, saw, etc.
-musi Mushy Matter ice cream, mud, slumped-over drunken person, etc.
-kanta Buden, load backpack, bundle, sack, saddle, etc.

Syntax

The dominating word order in Adytite is SOV, similar to other Samoyedic languages. However, Adytite is considered to exhibit more freedom in word order than other languages of its areal group.
Adytite is strictly left-branching like Japanese and Turkish, with relative clauses coming first in a sentence and the main verb always coming last. Postpositions are used instead of prepositions, and adjectives are treated as stative verbs, thus coming after the noun they describe.

Alignment

Adytite is an Active-Stative language, also commonly called a split intransitive language, which means the sole argument ("subject") of an intransitive clause (often symbolized as S) is sometimes marked in the same way as an agent of a transitive verb (that is, like a subject such as "I" or "she" in English) but other times in the same way as a direct object (such as "me" or "her" in English).

The case or agreement of the intransitive argument (S) depends on the degree of volition, or control over the verbal action exercised by the participant. For example, if one tripped and fell, an Adytite speaker would say "I fell." To say "fell-me" (subjective ending) or "fell I" would mean that the person had done it on purpose, such as taking a fall in boxing.

The subject of a stative verb is grammatically grouped together with the object of a transitive verb, which is quite natural, since both the stative subject and the transitive object are affected by the action of the verb (i.e. are semantically undergoers or "patients"). This means that the subject of verbs like sleep, become hungry and lust are placed before the verb and optionally given the oblique case marker, -m.

Sample Texts (with different dialects)

Soone Ültü

ültü mi vjema, ütü mi bədʲema

mi sülä ŋemu kuŋ uree, mi tüle gemu kug uree

ŋämän cuca, gemen susa

mäcä siŋa, mese tiga

num murun, num murun

ŋum salu, gum talu

ŋum suem, gum təbem

üe küce, üe küse

suem küce, təbem küse

käjä ŋuŋa, kedʲe guga

raŋa uree, daga uree

lujuma me, ludʲuma me

mimin ün näm, mimin ün nem

ŋul ŋul säsäjä, gubu gubu sesedʲe

mi suunam, mi suunam

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