Jülisk - En nîer-dîotiske selfmakte sprâk
This page is an introduction to my first and original conlang, called Jülisk (In English 'Julish'). This is a low German conlang, which is based mainly on modern low German, but includes elements of Dutch, Danish and West Frisian. I first began dabbling with a conlang like this probably 15-20 years ago, but started creating the conlang seriously around 1998. As I worked on it, it went through various stages of change, and led to the creation of new Germanic conlangs, mainly in the north Germanic branch. So, I have decided to go "back to basics" and recreate this conlang according to something closer to my original intentions, but with some modifications based upon what I have learnt since then. This page is a short introduction to this constructed language.
The language began as a single gender, three case grammatical system, using the definite article det for the nominative case, den for the accusative/dative case and des for the genitive case. The equivalent articles for the plurals were de, dem and der. I hadn't got much further with adjectival inflections and the like before the conlang went off in another direction. This time I have created what is basically a two gender, three case system, with common and neuter genders.This is unlike any Germanic dialect that I know of, although there may be some with similarities. I have put my choice of this system down to the possibility of a west Germanic language that has Dutch and Danish influences (the two genders) plus Low German characteristics (the reduced case system). With regard to the cases, Jürg Fleischer of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin states in Dative and indirect object in German dialects: Evidence from relative clauses:
"Among German dialects, we can observe some major differences from Standard German with respect to case. Most importantly, the genitive case is virtually non-existent in nearly all German dialects (see e.g. Mironow 1957: 392, Shrier 1965: 421, Koß 1983). If we take this into account, we are left with three potential remaining cases, namely, nominative, accusative, and dative (there seem to be no traces of the instrumental case functioning as such in any modern German variety). Of these three cases, dative has merged completely with accusative in some dialects; in these dialects, there is thus a two case-system distinguishing a nominative from an “objective” non-nominative case (encompassing direct and indirect object functions). Another pattern, merger of nominative and accusative, can be observed to a certain extent in many dialects as well, but this tendency never affects all parts of speech (for example, personal pronouns, unless specified for feminine or neuter gender, usually still distinguish a nominative from another case form)."
Thus, this conlang has adopted the paradigm stated in the section in italics, with nominative/accusative merged for nouns but accusative/dative merged for pronouns (but see exceptions under the pronouns section below). I have also included a genitive case, whereas this is usually the first case to be lost before any other case mergers take place. I have qualified this, hoewever, by stating that this case is largely a literary hangover rather than something that would be used in everyday speech.
Pronunciation and orthography
The Julish alphabet contains 21 letters, of which 16 are consonants and 5 are vowels: a, b, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, z. There is no c, q, w, x or y.
The five main vowels may be marked for extra length with a circumflex, â, ê, î, ô and û, and there are three umlauted versions, ä, ö and ü. Vowels tend to be long when stressed at the end of a word, when followed by a single consonant and then another vowel and when followed by the letter 'r'. In any other situation the circumflex is used to indicate its length. The main vowel sounds are as follows:
The consonants are shown in the table below. For the most part the phonetic symbols coincide with the orthography, and [ŋ] is <ng>.
Nouns and articles
Nouns may be of either common or neuter gender, e.g. bôm 'tree' (common); hûs 'house' (neuter).
The indefinite article
When we are not talking about a specific item, we use the indefinite article. In English this is ‘a' or ‘an', e.g. ‘a house', ‘an apple'. In Julish there are two words used, which depend upon the gender of the noun it refers to. The indefinite article for all nouns whether common or neuter is en [ən], e.g. en bôm, en hûs.
The definite article
When we are speaking of a definite object, then we use the definite article ‘the'. In Julish this also depends on the gender of the noun, de [də] for common nouns and det [dɛt] for neuter nouns, e.g. de bôm, det hûs. In everyday speech it is common for the word det to be pronounced in the same way as de.
There are four cases in Julish; nominative, accusative, genitive and dative. The case of a noun depends upon its usage in a sentence. For example, in the sentence 'The man gave the girl's book to the boy', the cases are as follows:
Nominative: the man, as he is the subject, or doer, of the sentence.
Accusative: the book, as it is the direct object, i.e. the object that is being acted upon (i.e. given).
Dative: the boy, as he is the indirect object of the sentence. Generally, but not always, a noun in the dative case is preceded by a preposition, in this case 'to'.
Genitive: the girl, as the book belongs to her.
This sentence in Julish would be De man jaf det bôk dets mädjes to den jungt or De man jaf det mädjes bôk to den jungt or even De man jaf det mädje hir bôk to den jungt. The first is considered "correct" in the written language, but the other two are more common in the spoken language. So, here we see some additional articles here such as des, dets and den. These are used to indicate case. The definite articles used in respect of each case is shown in the table below. Note that nominative and accusative are identical and are therefore classed together.
Note that the intital e- is usually omitted from the inflected indefinite article.
Plurals are generally denoted with the addition of the suffix –e, –en or –er. Sometimes this involves a change in the stem vowel of the noun as well, and in some cases there is no change to the noun.
The definite articles used with plurals are de (nom/acc), dem (dative) and der (genitive). In the dative case the suffix –n is often added to the noun but this is often omitted in the spoken language.
Use of the genitive is not universal in the spoken language, and the second sentence above is just as likely to be rendered as De sunne skînt op dem däkken fan dem hüsen.
Although it may seem odd, the indefinite article can be used in the plural. In this situation it can be considered in the same way as the English word 'some'. The articles are ene, ener and enem.
As with most Germanic languages, the adjectives comes before the noun that it refers to:
Adjectives are inflected according to the case and number of the noun, falling into different groups.
This is used when there is no preceding article.
This is used when there is a preceding definite article. These include sulk 'such', ilk 'each/every', vilk 'which', disse/dit 'this/these', al 'all'.
This is used when there is a preceding indefinite article. These include gên 'no/none', min 'my', din 'your', hir 'her', or 'our', jor 'your' and der 'their'.
Unlike nouns, the personal pronouns have generally merged their accusative and dative forms into an objective or non-nominative case, mostly taking the historical dative forms. The exception is the neuter, which, for pronouns, relates to inanimate objects rather than nouns in the neuter case, and keeps the accusative form separate from the dative. For example ik slajd de jungt / ik slajd hin 'I hit him', but ik kôpt det bôk / ik kôpt het 'I bought it'. Consequently, the feminine and masculine pronouns are used only for humans and animals of those sexes.
All of the possessives apart from hes and hets are declinable in the same way as en.
Used to refer back to the subject, e.g. Ik vask mi 'I wash myself'
A distinction can be shown here between He vasket sik 'He washes (himself)' and He vasket hin 'He washes him' (i.e. someone else)
Verbs are conjugated in the present tense according to person and number. Regular verbs follow a standard pattern, illustrated here using the verbs lupe 'to run' and hîere 'to hear' .
So, generally speaking, the first person singular takes the stem of the infinitive (i.e. without the final -e), to which the second person adds -s and the third person add -t. The plural forms are all idenitcla to the infinitive.
Irregular verbs do not follow such regular patterns, however. A classic example is the verb bîe, 'to be'.
In the past tense, we have weak and strong verbs. Weak verbs form their past tenses in a regular way, by the addition of -d, -t or -et. These forms are then conjugated in the same way as in the present tense. Here are two examples.
Lupe 'to run'
Hîere 'to hear'
Strong verbs form their past tenses in an irregular fashion, e.g. by changing the vowel sound or other aspect of the original stem. This is the smae in English, for example the past tense of 'sing' is 'sang'. The following example illustrates this using the verb jeve 'to give'.
The perfect tense is formed using the present tense of have 'to have' or bîe 'to be' with the past participle of the relevant verb, e.g. vi have det middajsmâl ete 'we have eaten (had) lunch' or dê bin to den skole gane 'they have gone to school.
Weak verbs tend to form their past participles by the addition of either -d, -t or occasionally -et.
Strong verbs have irregular past participles.
See the table in Appendix D for a fuller list of strong verbs.
Numbers and time
Numbers (De Täle)
The numbers from 1 to 20 are as follows.
The numbers from 21 onwards follow the following pattern.
Ordinal numbers (Rangtel täle)
Most numbers form their ordinals by the addition of -de or -te, e.g. det tvede hûs 'the second house', de seste daj 'the sixth day'. As in English, 'first' is irregular, ärste. Also, the numbers ending in -ti, e.g. tvêonti add -ste: de tvêontiste maj 'the twentieth of May'. Abbreviated form are created by adding -e in all cases, e.g. 1e, 2e, 10e etc.
Measuring time (Tîd mete)
Days of the week (De daje fan den vuke)
Months of the year (De mânde fan den jar)
Ik skref disse artikel op den tvêontisten märts, in den jar tvê duzent têon.
Appendix C - Irregular verbs
Appendix D - Strong verbs
Appendix E - Lexicon
Appendix F - The Babel Text
De Babel Tekst op Jülisk
ə = 601; ɛ = 603; ɔ = 596; ː = 720; ɪ = 618; ŋ = 331;