An Audhrinn Primer[]

by Scytheria

Audhrinn /ɔʊˈθrɪn:/ is a constructed (or artificial) language which exists for no purpose other than being pleasing to me, the author. It is not based on any natural language, and has an entirely a priori vocabulary in which words have been derived on aesthetic principles (which essentially means that they have been selected because I like the sound of them – it gets no more scientific than that).

Audhrinn is not especially challenging, mainly because my purpose was to create a language that could actually be learned and spoken or written. There are, however, a few inflexion patterns and sound changes to learn, but these are quite regular in their own way and certainly no worse than many real languages. Perhaps the hardest aspect of Audhrinn is the peculiar word order that results from its handling of verbs and compound-complex sentences. Infinitives are weird. Ditransitive verbs make the infinitives look quite normal. Pronouns, and especially possessive pronouns, are extremely complicated – but very logical when you get the hang of them. Ambiguous English sentences like “the tree leaned on the table and it collapsed” in which we can’t quite be sure whether the tree or the table collapsed are impossible. “His king gave the knight his sword” in which we don’t know whether the king, the knight or an unspecified person owns the sword are similarly impossible to make.

The vocabulary of over 1000 root words is sufficient for Audhrinn to be used to speak or write creatively and variedly on most subjects, as long as those subjects are confined to pre-technological (Dark Age and earlier) Europe. By this, I mean that you will find words for oak trees, castles, knives, badgers and honey, but not for baobab trees, pagodas, computers, zebras and avocados.

The cursive script is not based on any known system of writing, and was developed from first principles – filling the need for a writing system that represented the Audhrinn sounds. I deliberately chose to use a cursive script, because to me that fits the flowing, breathy nature of the sounds, but there are only so many different marks you can make before things start to look like they have been done before somewhere else in the world. The script has a vague Arabic or Far-Eastern feel to it, but that is just an accident of the shapes employed. I am rather pleased with the result, and am particularly enamoured by the way the letters run together. This certainly makes the writing rather more interesting than a ‘one shape per letter’ script. In the Audhrinn script, it is entirely possible for a word, even quite a long one, to consist of connected letters, yet with each remaining perfectly distinct.

There may be some accusations of Tolkien-appropriation levelled at me, as many words in Audhrinn resemble words in Tolkien’s own constructed languages. The lexical similarity is due to our having chosen roughly the same phonological elements (in other words, fairly easy ones for Europeans). But a nod in the right direction is due, because if I had not picked up a copy of The Lord of the Rings some forty years ago and been immediately enthralled by the runes and Elvish writing on the fold-out map, I would probably not be doing this sort of thing today.

This language is presented to you as is, and you are welcome to develop it further if you like. I have deliberately avoided using especially complex linguistic jargon in the grammar, choosing instead to use words that describe things in an intuitive way. This is for the benefit of those who want to try this language but who lack familiarity with formal grammatical terms. You can use Audhrinn for any purpose you want, as long as I, the author, am credited for the work I have put into this project and as long as the same freedom to use the work for any other purpose is preserved for others.


The Audhrinn alphabet, as transcribed into the Roman alphabet, contains just 18 letters: A B D E F G H I K L M N O R S U W and Y and a hyphen (serving as a letter). The letter combinations DH, FH and GH behave like letters in their own right.

Each letter has up to six forms, depending where it appears in a word and how it connects to other words. In the table below, lighter elements of the letter forms indicate the use of special ‘null’ symbols used to start/end shapes correctly.