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LotM - Oct 15: Ngutanese
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Diphthongs and Austronesian alignment ring in October's LotM winner, Ngutanese! A hearty congrats to unleashy and his brainchild.
This public article was written by Admin Sheep, and last updated on 1 Dec 2015, 05:01.

[comments] Menu
1. Ngutanese
2. Phonology
3. Nouns and other Things
4. The Copulas
5. Philology
6. More on Ngutanese
7. A Note on LotM


@unleashy pulls in his first LotM win with  Ngutanese. Ngutanese features all sorts of fun features, including Austronesian alignment, solar and lunar noun classes, tons of copulas (ok, just six), and VSO word order (#vsofolife). Let's do this.


What Ngutanese lacks in consonants, it more than makes up for in vowels. There are just 11 phonemic consonants, /m n ŋ p t k s h j w ɾ/. No voiced obstruents at all. /t/ and /s/ palatalize to /t͡ɕ/ and /ɕ/, respectively, before /i(:)/. /h/ also has the interesting side effect of nasalizing any vowel that directly follows it.

Vowels are a bit more numerous. The normal /a e i o u/ are present, as well as their long counterparts /a: e: i: o: u:/. There are seven diphthongs, each with a long counterpart, leading to 24 phonemic vocalic thingamajigs: /ei̯(:) au̯(:) ai̯(:) ui̯(:) eu̯(:) ou̯(:) oi̯(:)/. All vowels also have nasal allophones when following /h/. Long vowels are noted with macrons in the orthography, but these macron-carrying vowels are not separate letters in the alphabet.

Syllable structure and not complex, allowing (C)V(V)(N) at the max, with C as any consonant, V as any vowel, and N as any nasal. Nasals can be syllable-final only at the ends of words. @unleashy was also kind enough to include a note on stress, stating:

Stress isn't phonemic, but there's a slight stress on the last syllable that has a long vowel; if there is no long vowel, the stress is on the penultimate syllable.

[top]Nouns and other Things

Nouns are divvied into two classes, solar and lunar. These two classes seem arbitrary (though some assignments make sense, such as owl being lunar), and designate how the noun will decline. Nouns come in seven cases (direct, ergative, accusative, genitive, dative, and instrumental) and three numbers (singular, plural, and collective).

Verbs do not seem to inflect - though perhaps they do and it hasn't been documented. ;P

[top]The Copulas

There are six different copulas (each more or less meaning "to be") in Ngutanese, each with a specific use:

  • eoasa - to be made of/consist of
  • ēoa - denotes transience (compare Portguese/Spanish estar)
  • soāi - to be there, exist (think Spanish haber, hay German gibt's, or French il y a)
  • toata - to be located, to exist in space
  • ipoi - to be, used for describing the weather
  • eoa - to be, everything else


Ngutanese is a member of the Ngutanic family (of which four of the seven extant languages begin with <ng>). Its closest relative, Ingomuese, is extinct, though there are five other living relatives.

[top]More on Ngutanese

Crave more? Check out its namebase, grammar tables, or translations.

[top]A Note on LotM

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Ngutanese that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Hate my guts and want to tell me? Feel free to shoot us (either phi2dao or argyle) a PM with your thoughts, suggestions, and hate mail. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!

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