Sondsteadish language

From MareWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Pronunciation ['syndstɛðɹɨʃ]
Native to Sondstead, Questers, Ruccola (Undaria)
Region predominantly Northeastern Alisna, also Alqosia and Wilassia
Native speakers
16+ million (2010)
Official status
Official language in
Ruccola Undaria

ML Flag.png Maredoratic League
Nordic Forum
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by Künlih Me̊lagade̊miy
Royal Language Academy of Sondstead
Language codes
ISO 639-1 zd
ISO 639-2 sde
ISO 639-3 sde
  Majority language
  Minority language
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Sondsteadish (Sündstedrisjh ['syndstɛðɹɨʃ]) is a Germanic language spoken natively by more than 16 million people, principally in Sondstead but also by linguistic minorities in neighboring Alanko, Questers, and Varnia as well as by diaspora populations in Maachwabia, Ruccola, and others. It is the sole official language at the federal level in Sondstead, an official language in Maachwabia and is recognized as a regional language in Ruccola, where it is spoken by more than half a million people chiefly in the province of Undaria (before 1953 a Sondsteadish colony), and as a minority language in Alanko and Questers.

Sondsteadish is closely related to English and somewhat more distantly to Dutch, German, and the other Nordic languages. Sondsteadish grammar bears similarities to other Germanic languages, particularly Alkosiaans and English; it similarly exhibits relatively few inflections and has largely lost its original systems of grammatical case and grammatical gender. Phonologically it can be distinguished by its fairly large inventory of vowels and distinct system of vowel harmony.


Geographic distribution



Sondsteadish has a moderately large inventory of nine distinct phonemic vowels, but no longer features phonemic vowel length and, in the standard form (and the central-southern dialectal group characteristic of Mideldal and Windstrand, on which Standard Sondsteadish is largely based), features a "flattening" of all diphthongs into monophthongs with the exception of /ɛa̯/, as in gt ("gate") /gɛa̯t/.

Dialectally, other diphthongs exist. Often they form a noticeable regional and sociolectal distinction; for example the word frö ("lady" or "miss") would be pronounced by a speaker of Standard Sondsteadish as [fʀœ̝] (flattened) while a speaker of a rural Cheruskerland dialect or some speakers of the working class West End Windstrand sociolect may pronounce it [fʀeø]. In some southern dialects on the other hand further flattening continues to occur, with /ɛa̯/ shifting to a monophthong /æ/.

Vocalic phonemes in standard Sondsteadish
Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
High i y u
Mid ɛ œ ʌ ɔ
Low a ɑ

Standard Sondsteadish also features a near-close central unrounded vowel [ɪ̈] and a mid central unrounded vowel [ə] (schwa), which appear non-phonemically as reduced forms of high and mid front vowels (the former) and all other vowels (the latter), and are respectively referred to as löht-I and löht-A (Light-I and light-A). Whether light-I or light-A is used for the front mid vowel (the E sound) is not entirely consistent even within the standard dialect and can vary between individual speakers.

Vowel harmony

Vowel correspondence
Front Back
y u
ɛ ʌ
œ ɔ
a ɑ

A distinctive feature of Sondsteadish phonology which is unique among all extant Germanic languages is its system of vowel harmony, which has historical antecedents in the similar vowel harmony found in the Finnic languages as well as in the Germanic umlaut, but unlike the latter remains fully productive.

Broadly, a front group (a, ɛ, œ, and y) and a back group (ɑ, ʌ, ɔ, and u) of vowels exist, while /i/ is neutral (has no back counterpart and is unaffected by harmonic changes). All vowels in native words must either be front or back vowels (or a mix of back vowels and /i/), with all vowels following the second syllable in a word. Inflectional suffixes have differing forms accounting for harmony and never themselves trigger a shift even when attached to a single syllable word; for example, the plural suffix -en forms the word kade̊n ("cats") from kat, with the front vowel /ɛ/ shifting to the back /ʌ/.

Unlike in, for example, Finnish, vowel harmony in Sondsteadish appears in compound words across compound boundaries; the second syllable in the resultant compound always shifts all other vowels in the compound. The diphthong /ɛa̯/ is affected uniquely when words containing it are compounded; where the second syllable in the compound contains a back vowel it both shifts and flattens to become /ɑ/. Both processes are in evidence with the word geät, which in a compound becomes gatman ("gateman"), with the back vowel /ɑ/ in man triggering the diphthong in geät to both shift and flatten.


Consonantal phonemes of Standard Sondsteadish
Labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop p b t d k g
Fricative f (v) (ð) s ʃ (ç) (x ɣ) h
Approximant l (ɹ) j ʍ w
Trill ʀ

Sondsteadish features a roughly average number of consonant phonemes, distinguishing in the standard dialect a total of 19. A number of consonantal allophones also exist, most notably the varying pronunciation of /h/; word initially it is pronounced as a voiceless glottal fricative [h], while it varies between a voiceless palatal fricative [ç] and a voiceless velar fricative [x] after a vowel, being realized as [ç] after front vowels except /a/ as in hliha ("to laugh") [hliçə] and as [x] after back vowels and /a/, as in ahta ("eight") [ɑxtə].

Others include several intervocalic realizations; the voiced velar fricative [ɣ] for /g/ as in jaga ("to hunt") [jɑɣə], the voiced labiodental fricative [v] for /f/ as in sofa ("to sleep") [sɔvə], and the voicing of the voiceless stops /p t k/ to [b d ɣ]. The latter is reflected in orthography after a 1912 spelling reform and generally no longer consider allophonic; for example splita ("to split") became splida, and compound words or words with inclinational affixes added change the spelling, as in the aforementioned example of singular kat /kɑt/ and plural kade̊n /kɑdʌn/.

Multiple allophonic phenomenona occur in relation to rhotic consonants. Word finally after a vowel, or between a vowel and a consonant, /ʀ/ is either dropped or reduced to [ə] in Standard Sondsteadish. Conversely, a syllabic R also exists when /ʀ/ occurs word finally after a consonant; it is realized as a alveolar approximant [ɹ], and only rarely as vocalized [ə] or [ɐ] even in otherwise non-rhotic dialects. When followed by a syllabic R the stops /t d/ are realized as a voiced dental fricative [ð], as in hwitr ("white") [ʍiðɹ]. Historically R-dropping and R-reduction, as well as the guttural /ʀ/ phoneme (known as tröd-R "throat-R"), were restricted to southern dialects, while northern dialects had either only the [ɹ] pronunciation, or [ɹ] as well as an alveolar tap [ɾ] intervocalically, forming a distinct isogloss, although the prevalence of the southern pronunciation has increased since 1900 with the influence of Standard Sondsteadish.


Writing system

The Sondsteadish alphabet is identical to the ISO basic Latin alphabet; however the letters c, q, v, x, and z are not used in native words and y is rarely used, particularly in informal writing. Latin supplanted a variation of the Gothic alphabet as the predominant script in the 15th century, although as late as 1660 both scripts were in use simultaneously. Diacritics are used on the letters a, e, o, and u to mark vowel harmony; ä, , ö, and ü. Nonstandard characters and diacritics, such as c for /s/ or /k/, or é to denote stress where the vowel would ordinarily be unstressed, are used in personal names and loanwords.

In Questers and Varnia historically and to a lesser extent in the present, different spelling conventions have been used, even after the creation of an official standard orthography. The character in particular was an issue, as printing presses and typewriters, outside of Sondstead, could rarely produce it; instead various alternate characters were used, such as å or ë. Following Danish and Varnian conventions, there was also sometimes ø for ö, y for ü, and more rarely æ or simply a for ä.

Since 1995, Sondsteadish language use in official capacities in Questers has followed the New Hareshire Conventions, which broadly align with the Künlih Me̊lagade̊miy's AS (Äljemenstäfingjr, "Common Spelling") guidelines with a few differences, the most notable being that word final h in gjh, kjh, and sjh and y in iy are omitted and å is accepted as an alternate (and more frequently used) form of for technical and continuity reasons. The introduction of parts of the New Hareshire standard into AS has been debated in Sondstead; dropping extraneous word final h and y in particular is now common in internet and SMS communication.