Nortti's very first conlang (whose name I have forgotten)

What do we know?

I never wrote down anything about the language, so everything is based on a (tiny) corpus of sayings I remember from it, plus vague general idea how the language worked. This post is as much about the language as how I ended up piecing everything together.


When I started making my own language, I had recently read Lord of the Rings and become intrigued by languages that were intentionally created. I did some research on conlangs, and after running into some others, like Esperanto, I got an idea to make my own international auxiliary language. Being 10 or 11 at the time (2008), I only really knew Finnish and English, but I didn't consider that a big problem. However, looking back I can see how a combination of only knowing two (European) languages and lacking any type of linguistics training was a problem.

General ideas I remember

Separating this from the corpus section is kind of arbitrary, since I remembered many of these things by trying to remember how the examples worked, and I remembered the second phrase of corpus thinking about the idiosyncrasies of the first version of the language. Still, I felt corpus would work better presented as its own section.


Phrase Meaning Finnish equivalent Literal translation of the Finnish equivalent
In on gus! ‘Be quiet!’ Ole hiljaa ‘Be(you) quiet’
In an un Either ‘Yes or no’, ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘Me and you’ (I'm not sure which) Kyllä vai ei / Olla vai ei / Minä ja sinä ‘Yes or no(t)’ / ‘To be or not’ / ‘me and you’
name nun, name nun, nuk in name name is sleeping (×2), name is dreaming’ name nukkuu (×2), name on unessa name sleeps (×2), name is in [a] dream

First of them is an exclamation I'd say if I got annoyed. (Yes, I'd show my annoyance at people by speaking in a conlang. I was, and still am, a giant nerd.) Second is a piece of an earlier version of the language, which I've here changed to conform to the final version. The final one is lyrics to a very simple song I'd sing to my younger little sister when she was baby to get her to go to sleep.

Finnish equivalents (and literal translations of them) are listed, because the analysis requires them to make sense.

Together, there are seven distinct words in the corpus: an, gus, in, nuk, nun, on, un

Analyzing the corpus

In the corpus, there are three distinct full clauses: “In on gus!”, “name nun”, and “nuk in name”. Of them, the second sentence is the most basic case: it is a statement and describes an action. Since the subject precedes the verb, and because both Finnish and English are SVO, I'm willing to bet SVO is the neutral word order used for statements.

Since I remember “gus” meant “quiet”, the word order for command sentences can be either SVO or VSO. Since SVO is taken by statements, command sentences are VSO. From here, we get that “in” is the copula, and “on” means “you”. Thus, we can gloss the first example:

In on gus
Be you(sg) quiet

I couldn't quite remember what the second example meant, but knowing the meaning of “in” allows us to narrow it down. Since “is” can substitute for a “yes” in a language lacking “yes” and “no”, we cannot be sure if it was ‘Yes or no’ or ‘To be or not to be’. However, as you can see from the Finnish equivalent, the other two words will be the same regardless. This is because in Finnish “no” is actually the same thing as “not” (to be more exact, the non-past “not”, since it is a verb). Thus, “an” means “or” and “un” means “not”.

In an un
Be / yes or not / no

There are no questions in the corpus, so the word order for them isn't all that certain. Both Finnish and English move the verb to the beginning, suggesting VSO order, but that is already taken. My guess is questions were SOV, since all other remaining possibilities place the object before the subject.

In the third example, “nun” and “nuk” demonstrate the changing of part of speech by changing the suffix. “Nun” behaves as a verb, so -n is most likely the verb-y suffix, while “nuk” is a noun or an adjective. Since “gus” which is undoubtedly an adjective ends in -s, the adjective-y suffix is probably -s, and “nuk” is a noun.

name nun, (×2) nuk in name
name sleep.V, (×2) sleep.S be name

The last clause of the third example is still a bit weird. First of all, there seems to be nothing indicating location, as you would expect from the Finnish “name is in [a] dream” and the order of arguments seems to be reversed. My best guess is I didn't quite yet understand the role ad-positions play in analytical languages, and decided to just drop off the suffixes of a Finnish phrase. Similar can be seen in my 2009 language Cvascion where possession is indicated by just placing two words next to each other. (Admittedly, this is a strategy used by some real languages, but at the time I wasn't aware of any.) The weird word order might be attempt to mark the clause as a locational construct.

Language description

Based on the analysis, it is now possible to create a rough description of the language.


The corpus is quite limited, so not much can be drawn from it. However, it's quite likely phonology would have been something along the lines of


Labial Dental / Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Fricative f s h
Approximant (w) ʋ l j (w)
Trill r


Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

This is basically what you would end up with, if you took every letter of the Finnish alphabet and pronounced it how it was pronounced in Finnish, and left off /y ø æ/ (since ä and ö do not exist in English alphabet and y is not /y/).


Permissible codas are at least -s, -n, and -k. Corpus isn't big enough to say if syllables without codas are also acceptable. We can see onsets are not necessary, however. Syllable structure is thus either (C)V(C) or (C)VC.


Words can have suffixes which determine their part of speech:

Noun -k
Adjective -s
Verb -n

This doesn't seem to apply to the base words, all of which ends in -n even if they are pronouns or conjunctions instead of verbs.

Four different word orders are in use. Three of them mark the type of a sentence, while one seems to be a locational construct:

Statement SVO
Question SOV?
Command VSO
Locational construct? AVS


an or
gus quiet
in to be
nuk sleep
nun to sleep
on you (sg)
un not, no

First version of the language or: What the fresh hell is this?

I previously mentioned "in an un" was adapted from a previous version of the language. Technically, it would still have been spelled the same, but originally it would have been pronounced /ˈinsto ˈansto ˈunop/. Since I was aiming to create an IAL, I wanted to make sure word and sentence boundaries were clear. /sto/ was used to separate words, while /op/ ended utterances. They were taken from English “stop”, used to signal ends of utterances in telegrams. I rather quickly abandoned the idea, for what should be obvious reasons.