Nuirn (/ˈnɪʊ.ɾən/) is a Germanic based language with influences from Swedish, German, and English in its lexicon and grammar, and with some Celtic influences in its syntax and spelling system.

Nominative / accusative
Head direction
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect


A variety of orthographies have been used for Nuirn, including runes. Text is in early middle Nuirn, ca. 1978-1979.

General information[]

Nuirn is a jargon, a cryptolect that grew into an artlang. It has existed since roughly 1974 in one form or another.

Old Nuirn[]

The deep roots of Nuirn are at a geekly D-table in a high school cafeteria. There sit a group of students with a variety of shared interests, including Tolkien and languages. One speaks a smattering of Swedish and French, and is studying Latin; the others are studying German and practicing. The Swedish speaker discovers that he can half understand the German by looking at it sideways and squinting. They develop a sort of pidgin Swedish/German/English. This language is proto-Nuirn.

Proto-Nuirn was designed to be a resolutely inflected language despite its essence as a pidgin. The core lexicon is Germanic, as are its word formation rules. The basic lexicon comes from comparing English, German, and Swedish vocabulary. A variety of compromise rules were devised to harmonize the vocabulary. One basic rule can be summed up as:

- English consonants
- Swedish vowels
- German grammar

Various minor harmonizing rules were added to this set. For example, one minor rule of vocabulary compromise says that where German has 'd' and Swedish 't', Nuirn uses 'þ'. Thus Swedish tjänst, German Dienst, current Nuirn þiènist "service, act of serving."

This proto-Nuirn was reshaped by usage. Where there were gaps in the lexicon, they were occasionally filled in with resort to French or Latin, or a word from one of the parent languages was simply borrowed. Umlaut was frequently resorted to and strongly regularized, on account of its prominence in the German grammar.

From Middle to Modern Nuirn[]

Proto-Nuirn had one deficiency as a cryptolect. The same processes by which German was partly intelligible in Swedish made Nuirn potentially intelligible to outsiders. This would not do.

A decision was made to complicate the grammar. Umlaut was regularized, and became embedded in the phonology of the spoken language as a sort of vowel harmony; all inflected forms must agree with their inflections in umlaut class. Inflections were divided into "strong" and "weak"; the strong inflections, like the dative -i or -e, forced umlaut changes or other phonological changes in the roots they attached to. A large number of clitics, some of obscure origin, were added to the grammar; stand alone pronouns are relatively rare, and clitics are usually used in their stead.

Syntax was stood on its head; unlike German, where important verbs go to the back of the clause, in Nuirn the head verb usually appears at the beginning of the sentence. Nuirn adopted a VSO syntax for main clauses; SVO is a mark of emphasis or subordination. This change also gave rise to new inflexions with suffixed pronouns in non-dropped pronoun subjects.

Some of the most basic features of current Nuirn owe their origin to this period. The new features display a tension between a desire for complexity and natural pidginization.

Phonology and orthography[]

Regular phonological processes[]

Vowels and consonants: umlaut (omhluid)[]

All Nuirn vowels fall into two umlaut classes. A basic rule of Nuirn phonology is that a root and its inflections must agree in umlaut class. Nuirn also "applies umlaut to consonants": most stops and sonorants have two places of articulation, a palatal and a velar articulation. The quality of the consonant is indicated by the quality of the surrounding vowels, which much match on either side of the consonant. The "high" vowels:

e i y æ ø

indicate a palatal articulation. The low vowels:

a o u

indicate a velar articulation. Changes must occur where a high vowel of a strong inflection is added to a low stem, or where a low vowel is added to a high stem. These changes are umlaut changes, and they also affect the consonant quality.

As such, the Nuirn orthography requires that:

  • Any word stem of one syllable contains an inherent umlaut class, high or low;
  • Any word stem of two or more syllables must be spelled in a manner that indicates the umlaut quality of the vowels and consonants.
  • Any inflection directly attached to a stem must either match the stem in umlaut quality, or compel changes (such as vowel changes - umlaut proper - or the insertion of weakly pronounced glide vowels) to achieve a match on either side of the consonant.

Inflections that force umlaut changes are "strong" inflections. Inflections that yield to the umlaut class of the root are "weak". The principal strong endings are:

  • The -i and -e of the donative and oblique singular cases (the outcome of the old dative case) in the largest noun declension;
  • The -um of the first person plural verb ending;
  • The -um shared by the donative and oblique plural cases; and
  • The -i- or -e- theme vowels of the subjunctive mood in the conjugated verb.

Since almost all nouns will take the donative/oblique cases, and most conjugatable verbs will have subjunctive forms, every root stands to be affected by umlaut changes.

Each low vowel and diphthong has a corresponding high vowel; these are the regular umlaut changes:

  • a <> æ
  • o <> ø
  • u <> y
  • au <> øy
  • ao <> aoi

High stems typically join with low inflections by adding a low, weak glide vowel and changing consonant qualities.

An inflection added to an open root with no final consonant forces no changes.

The endings in -um also lengthen short low roots in prescriptive Nuirn. So while "I carry" is baraec, "we carry" will be bárum or bárumuidhe.

Some roots resist vowel umlaut. This is one of the things indicated by the grave accent. When it occurs on a monosyllable, it indicates that the root is a "strong" root. Strong roots decline or conjugate with glides and changes in consonant quality rather than by undergoing regular umlaut changes. The typical strong root has a low vowel. Thus, strong roots like cròc, "hill, knob", and gnòs, "face", form their oblique singulars as cròiche and gnòise, rather than **crøce or **gnøse.

There are a number of exceptions to the rule of vowel harmony. The most conspicuous of these is that it does not apply across the internal boundaries of compound words. Some clitic pronouns are treated as compounding elements.

Vowels and consonants: breaking (brisedd)[]

The phenomenon of breaking stem vowels begins with a part of the lexicon inherited from Swedish. There is a fairly large group of these words with "broken" vowels in the stem, such as for example biorn /biːəɾn/ "bear" (< Sw. björn), iordd /iːɘɾð/ "earth" (< Sw. jord), or iarn /iːəɾn/ "iron" (< Sw. järn). In these words, Nuirn regularly shifts the accent forward, so that the original semivowel becomes the main vowel of the root. These words get turned into two syllable words with a hiatus between two vowels of contrasting umlaut classes. When the final syllable needs to change to high for the dative cases, the broken vowel is reconstituted as a single vowel: berne /bɛɾ.nɨ/ "for the bear", erdde /ɛɾ.ðɨ/ "for the earth"; or the semivowel reappears with vowel change: ierne /jɛɾ.nɨ/ "for iron".

The resulting pattern became something widely but unpredictably imitated throughout the lexicon, because given the umlaut rules set forth above, it simplifies a great deal. It most frequently affects words originally containing sonorants that can be pronounced as syllables (l, m, n, r), but can affect any syllable, even those ending in stops. Vowels likeliest to be affected are é and í among the high vowels, and o or u of either length among the lows. When a vowel breaks, the basic stem acquires a second syllable whose umlaut class contrasts with the first:

  • féax /fe.ʌks/ "head of hair", dat. sing. féxe /fek.sɨ/ dat. pl. feàxum /fjɑk.sʌm/.
  • míol /mi.ʌɫ/ "flour", dat. sing míle /mi.lɨ/
  • feòil /fʲo.ɨl/ "page", dat. sing. feòile /fʲo.lɨ/, dat. pl. feòlum' /fʲo.lʌm/.

Consonants: softening and silencing (mylning)[]

In certain positions -- especially, in syllable final position after another consonant --- and also between two vowels, some consonants are subject to softening. Typically, consonants are indicated as being softened by addition of 'h' - bh, ch, and so forth.

The consonant 'd' has two softened forms; one is written dd and pronounced like the 'th' of English 'either'. The other is written dh and is silent. The written form th serves as the softened form of both 't' and 'þ'.

Consonants which may be softened

  • bh as 'v'
  • ch pronounced [x]; this is the only way of writing this sound
  • dd 'th' as in English 'either'
  • dh silent
  • fh silent
  • gh variously; either as a voiced ch or as v
  • mh v
  • ph f
  • th silent or 'h'

Using the softening rules allow Nuirn spelling to be more regular than it would be otherwise. Thus the word bórdh, "table", pronounced similar to "boor", becomes bórdas ("boor-dus") in the genitive case; adding a syllable removes the softening effect; a purely phonetic spelling would obscure the fact that the root does in fact contain a 'd'.

Nuirn final consonants are subject to word-final devoicing. This usually only occurs if the preceding vowel belongs to the high umlaut class.


When written in the Latin alphabet, Nuirn uses the following characters:

a b c d e f g h i (j k) l m n o p q r s t u v (w) x y z þ æ ø

The characters j and w are not frequently used; the vowels i and u, combined with the grave accent, fulfil the function of representing the sounds of English /y/ and /w/ respectively. The letter k is used chiefly as the second element of the digraph ck, and sk,| indicating the English "sh" sound.

Two diacritical marks can appear over vowels. The acute accent:

á é í ó ú ý

originated as an indication of vowel length. In fact, the long vowels differ in articulation as well as in length from their short counterparts.

All vowels can also bear an grave accent:

à è ì ò ù

The grave accent has a variety of functions. Its most basic is as an indication of stress. Most Nuirn words bear the stress on their first syllable. The grave accent is used when the stress occurs elsewhere. The grave accent is used also to indicate falling diphthongs and the use of glides in the syllable onset: uàtn, "water"; iènte, "giant". The grave accent also appears over the vowels of strong roots, about which more below.

The circumflex accent

â ê î ô û

combines these two functions. It is often omitted, because the presence of an acute accent usually indicates that the vowel carrying it also bears stress: iár, also iâr, "year", similar to English "yore:.

Nuirn spelling is generally free. There are plene and abbreviated spellings for many words, such as bhith vs. bhí for the impersonal verb "to be", or hálla vs. háldha for "to hold". Generally speaking silenced or softened consonants are only noted in their digraph forms if they reappear elsewhere in the paradigm. But the system lends itself to baroque spellings that are occasionally seen, such as ethnym for usual ennym /ɛ.nɨm/, "personal name".


Actual vowel length is determined by stress and the open or closed nature of the syllable. Only vowels that bear a primary or secondary stress can be long. Generally, open syllables contain long vowels, while closed syllables may contain long vowels, but usually contain short.

These values are for fully realized, stressed vowels. Vowels bearing the acute accent can only occur in stressed syllables.

  • a
    • Usually realizes somewhere between /ɑ/ and /a/. harta /hɑɾ.tə/ (elk, wapiti). Surrounding low vowels encourage /ɑ/, but if the surrounding vowels are high it moves towards /a/.
  • á
    • Always /ɔ/ or /ɔ:/. cál /kɔɫ/ (cabbage)
  • e
    • When short, /ɛ/; when long, /e/ or /ɛɪ/. sende /sɛn.də/ (to send)
  • é
    • Always /e:/ or /ɛɪ/. ségl /se.gəl/ (sail)
  • i
    • When short, /ɪ/; when long, /i/. fitte /fɪ.tʲə/ (woman)
  • í
    • Always /i:/. bíl /bi:l/ (car)
  • o
    • When short, /ʊ/ or sometimes /o/; when long /u/ or /o/. hosta /hɔs.tə/ (cough)
  • ó
    • Always /u:/. sól /su:ɫ/ (sun)
  • u
    • When short, /ʊ/; when long, closer to /u/. slutta /slʊ.tə/ (close)
  • ú
    • Always /ɪʊ/ or /ɪw/. spút /spɪʊt/ (spade card)
  • y
    • As i, above. The short vowel y is often short of ii, ji, ij, and indicates more clearly that the adjoining letter is to be palatalized.
  • ý
    • Always /y/ or /y:/. grý /gɾy:/ (dawn)
  • æ
    • When short, /ɛ/ or /æ/; when long /æ/. plæntyn /plæn.t̩n/ (banana)
  • ø
    • When short, /œ/ sometimes tending towards /ɜ/; when long /ø:/. grøn /gɾøn/ (green)


All diphthongs are inherently long, and can only appear in stressed syllables.

  • ao
    • Always /ø:/. This is not a true diphthong. Sometimes the sound /ø:/ occurs in words where it is treated as grammatically low; this written form makes its umlaut class clear.
  • aoi
    • Always /ʌɪ/ or /əɪ/, an alternative graph for øy below. The umlaut transformation of ao.
  • au
    • Always /aʊ/.
  • ay
    • Likelier to be closer to /əɪ/ than /aɪ/. The same sound is also written -igh in the pronouns migh.
  • ey
    • Alternative graph for é, above; éy is sometimes written and is also pronounced the same.
  • oy
    • Historically /ʌɪ/, but has a tendency to merge into /əɪ/.
  • øy
    • Always /əɪ/.


  • b
    • In low environments, /bˠ/, in high environments /bʲ/. Vowel quality does not have as strong an effect on this stop as it does on some others. boa /bu:.ə/ "live, dwell, inhabit"; biorn /bi.əɹ̥n/ "bear".
  • bh
    • Always /v/. In low environments all /v/ sounds tend towards /ʋ/ or simply /w/, and between vowels create diphthongs: abhan /au.ən/ "river"
  • c
    • In low environments, /kˠ/, in high environments /kʲ/. The effect of vowel quality is much stronger on /k/ sounds than on the preceding. The high sound /kʲ/ is often realized as /ʧ/. /kˠɪʊ/ "cow"; cýr /kʲy:.əɹ. "cows".
  • ch
    • Usually /x/. Often simply /k/ as word final. Note that the group cht is always /xk/: nacht /nɑxk/ "night". To write /xt/, write chd. Note that 'c' is written in Nuirn where other North Germanic languages typically use 'k', which does not find much use in Nuirn.
  • d
    • In low environments, /dˠ/, in high environments /dʲ/. The group dr often becomes /ʤ/ in high environments: compare dirne /dʲiɹ̥.nə/ "(able bodied) woman" and dreng /dʲɾɛŋ/ > [ʤɛŋ] "(able bodied) man".
  • dd
    • Always /ð/. caoinedd /kˠəɪ.nəð/ "song".
  • dh
    • Usually silent; occasionally /ð/ when hiatus would otherwise result. Note that dh is the written form for the softened forms of both d and dd.
  • f
    • Word initially always /f/. Between two vowels, always /v/ (and see note on bh above). Before a consonant, it will take the voiced or voiceless pronunciation based on the following consonant. The digraph ff is always /f/. These sounds are not significantly changed by the umlaut class of the surrounding vowels. affa /ɑ.fə/ "monkey"; næfer /nɛ.vəɹ̥/ "never"; uèft /wɛft/ "web"; løfn /løʋ.ən/ "lion". The digraph fv is always /v/: øfver /ø.veɹ̥/ "over".
  • fh
    • Always silent. Seldom encountered.
  • g
    • The reflexes of /g/ are a bit more complicated than some of the other stops. Generally, in low environments, /gˠ/, in high environments /gʲ/. In high environments, however, /gʲ/ is sometimes realized as /j/. The spelling system copes with this in a number of ways. In high environments gh can be written for /j/, and when a full /g/ in a high environment the digraph gc can be used. gada /gˠa.də/ "city street"; geit /gʲɛɪt/ "goat"; geting, also gheting /jɛ.tɪŋ/ "wasp, marijuana cigarette"; gceire also geire /gʲɛɪ.ɾə/ "make, do".
  • gh
    • When low, historically /ɣ/, but now usually /v/. When high, always /j/, as discussed above.

      The group -igh is often realized as /əɪ/, /ʌɪ/, /aɪ/: note especially migh /məɪ/ "me" (1p. acc. sing.) and þigh /ðʌɪ/ "you" (2p. acc. sing.). But as an adjective ending, -igh is always /i/. The group -igt is always /-ɪk/: go roligt /gʌ ɾu.lɪk/ "quietly, cautiously".
  • h
    • As /h/ or /x/. Relatively indifferent to vowel quality. haurn /haʊ.ɾən/ "horn".

      As is obvious above, h is used as a diacritical. Following a consonant, it signifies a softened or silenced pronunciation: bh, ch, dh, fh, gh, mh, ph, th.

      But when h precedes certain consonants, it produces a "retroflex" pronunciation:
  • hl
    • This is the voiceless 'l': /ɬ/. It generally only appears word initially. hlaut /ɬaʊt/ "guitar".
  • hr
    • This is the trilled 'r', /r/. Spelled this way, it generally only appears word initially; elsewhere the sound is written rr: hròm /rom/ "gypsy".
  • hv
    • Another digraph usually found only word initially, this one gets realized in a variety of ways depending on context. In many pronouns it is simply realized as /k-/: hvá /kɔ:/ "who" (nom. sg); hvait /kʌtʲ/ "what". This has been regularized in the spelling of many phrases: hvá sóm bhith > co'sóm bhith /kɔ sʌm vi/ "the one who...". In other question words and pronouns, it is still realized as /ʍ/, which is actually realized as a strongly retroflected [̺θ]: hvilceth /̺θɪl.kə/ "which". But when the group appears in non-pronoun or interrogative words it is realizes as /kv-/: hval /kvaɫ/ "whale".
  • j
    • Used very sparingly in Nuirn; as noted above, the usual orthography for /j/ sounds is i plus the grave accent on the following fully pronounced vowel. But j is used in the digraphs cj, kj, and tj, which without ambiguity spell /ʧ/; dj and gj, which unambiguously spell /ʤ/; and sj, which unambiguously spells /ʃ/: Djeaday /ʤɛ.dəɪ/ "Jedi".
  • k
    • Used very sparingly. The only place k is frequently written is in the group ck, which word finally is preferred to cc: reck /ɹɛk/ "count, tally".
  • l
    • Usually /l/; in low environments it will be imperfectly released, and tends to turn into an approximant /ɫ/ in the syllable coda: lænn /læn/ "neighborhood", fiall /fi.əɫ/ "mountain, peak". Can be syllabic.
  • m
    • Usually /m/. Not strongly affected by umlaut and vowel quality. In the endings -um it may be realized as /n/ depending on the consonants that follow: mære /mæ.ɾə/ "female dog"; máighde /mʌɪ.dʲə/ "power"; stundum /stʊnd.n̩/ or /stʊnd.m̩/ "once (upon a time)". Can be syllabic.
  • mh
    • Realized as /v, ʋ, w/ depending on class of surrounding vowels. Rarely written; damhsa also dausa /daʊ.sə/ "dance".
  • n
    • Invariably /n/, although, as in English, it will assimilate to a following consonant. Not strongly affected by vowel quality. nádal /nɔ:.dəɫ/ "needle", níl æ... /ni.lɛɪ/ "there aren't any...."
  • ng
    • Like in English, this digraph is ambiguous as to whether it represents /ŋ/ or /ŋg/: angast /ɑŋ.əst/ "turmoil"; finger /fɪŋ.gəɹ̥/ "finger". Unlike in English, it can occur word-initially: ngaid /ŋadʲ/ "divine grace"; ngochail /ŋɔ.xəl/ "joint".
  • p
    • This is /p/, and like /b/ is not strongly affected by vowel quality: párung /pɔ:.ɾʌŋ/ "twin"; písen /pi:.sən/ "peas".
  • ph
    • Little used. Always /f/. pherian /fɛɾ.jən/ "person of short stature".
  • q
    • Qu is occasionally used in writing to signify /kw/: quar /kwaɹ̥/ "in front of"; quemme /kwɛ.mə/ "come" (subjunctive). The digraph qh is sometimes used instead of hv- above in interrogative pronouns, especially the ones where the sound is in fact /k/: qhá /kɔ:/ "who".
  • r
    • The realization of the phoneme /r/ in Nuirn is quite complex. Alone, word initially and between vowels, it is usually an alveolar flap /ɾ/, a value not much affected by vowel quality: riste /ris.tʲə/ "carve, write", rasca /ɾas.ka/ "slide"; bære /bæ.ɾə/ "barley"; bara /ba.ɾə/ "just, only". Note that hr is a separate phoneme; the trilled /r/ appears most often slightly aspirated and word initial. There are minimal pairs: rod /ɾɔd/ "root"; hrod /hrɔd/ "fame".

      In the syllable coda, the sound is realized similarly, but the flap is never released, and turns into a voiceless approximant. This could be notated several ways, and might be considered a rhotacized vowel /ɚ/ but in fact the vowel and the approximant are separate. It is closer to a strongly retroflex /̠θ/ or a less breathy or ejective /ɬ/, but is really a voiceless alveolar approximant /̥ɹ/. The sound is minimally affected by vowel quality, and in fact encourages breaking like other sonorants do: múir /mu.ɨɹ̥/ "sea"; míor /mi.ʌɹ̥/ "lake". When followed by /t/ or /d/, it retroflects them and is lost, or becomes a glide vowel, especially in high environments: hard /hɑɖ/ "hard"; hirdens /hi.əɖ.əns/ "shepherd".

      The effects of umlaut quality are strongly felt when the 'r' sound appears as the final part of a syllable initial consonant cluster. In low environments the lightly trilled [r] returns: þrott /θrɔt/ "bravery"; grá /grɔː/ "gray". In high environments, the sound either remains a tap, frí /fɾi:/ "free"; but especially after t- and d- has a strong tendency to be coarticulated with the preceding consonant as /ʧ/ or /ʤ/: dricht /ʤɪxk/ "blame", treinn /ʧɛɪn/ "noose". (Nuirn proverb: stoppar dricht scubbaþ /stɔ.pʌɹ̥ ʤɪxk skʊ.bʌθ/ "the buck stops here".)
  • s
    • In low environments, always /s/. In high environments, sometimes /sʲ/, sometimes /ʃ/. The inability to distinguish consistently and reliably between /sʲ/ and /ʃ/ may be the largest failing of the Nuirn spelling system.

      The sound /ʃ/ will be called for when the spelling seems to have gone out of its way to indicate the high quality: siú /ʃu:/ "seven", siòchar /ʃʊ.xəɹ̥/ or /ʃʊ.kəɹ̥/ "sugar", sièy /ʃɛɪ/ "lake, bay", seòiu /ʃo:.ju/ "soy sauce". If a high glide is inserted to indicate vowel quality, the glide will usually be written with e to call for /sʲ/ and i for /ʃ/, but this is not completely reliable, especially for old words in the core vocabulary: seò /ʃo:/, 'this'. To write /ʃ/ unambiguously the digraphs sk and sj are available, but dispreferred: forskaid, but more frequently forscaid or foirsed, /fʊɹ̥.ʃɛt/, "table fork". Note that the indicative middle voice endings of high verbs -es is always /sʲ/, but that the corresponding subjunctive ending -is is always /ʃ/.
  • t
    • In low environments, /tˠ/, in high environments /tʲ/: tòca, /to.kə/, "rhythm, beat, riff"; tísen, /tʲi:.sən/ "tea". See also d, above. As noted at d and g, above, in high environments t can sometimes be realized as /ʧ/. The written form tj is available to unambiguously write this sound, but Nuirn spellings prefer to avoid it, and prefers to write ti with a grave accent on the following vowel to indicate the sound: tièrnich /ʧɛɾ.nɪk/ "Black person".
  • th
    • Generally silent or /h/: treithse (also treise) /tɾɛʃ.(ə)/ "across"; bristhe /bɾɪʃ.hə/ "broken".

      Note first that th is a characteristic ending of neuter adjectives including the neuter definite article ath. In these contexts, the th is likely to be realized fully as t when followed by a vowel. In these situations it is written as t as well.

      Note also that th serves as the softened form of both t and þ, because the written form þh is not used: compare cnoth, stem cnot'-, "knot", and cnòth, stem cnòþ-, "nut".
  • v
    • Realized as /v/, and in low environments tending towards /ʋ/ or /w/. Generally only found word-initialy. vicn vɪk.ən "romantic love"; véird /vɛɹ̥ɖ/ "world".
  • w
    • Very seldom written in Nuirn. When it appears, always /w/.
  • x
    • Written for ks or gs; a purely graphical variant: féax /fe.ʌks/ "head of hair".
  • z
    • In low environments, /z/. In high environments, /zʲ/. Unlike 's', it is never palatized fully to /ʒ/. A relatively uncommon sound: hazo /hɑ.zu/ "rabbit".
  • þ
    • Works somewhat like 'f', above. Word initially the sound is unvoiced /θ/ except in a number of pronouns and unstressed particles, in which it will typically be realized voiced as /ð/: þræll /θɾæl/ "retail employee"; þú /ðu:/ "you" (singular). Between two vowels the voiced pronunciation will prevail: uì‏þer /wɪð.əɹ̥/ "backwards" (adv). When it appears non-initially or with another consonant it will be unvoiced again: struþ /struθ/ "current, flow, voltage". As noted above, the sound /ð/ is usually written dd except when word-initial or between two vowels.


A typical native Nuirn root word contains from one to three syllables. In words of two or more syllables, the initial syllable will bear a strong stress, and the later syllables will be reduced. A third syllable may have a full vowel, but will not bear the stress. drocht /drɔxk/ "malevolence"; aubar /'aʊ.bəɹ̥/ "eager", aigeannant /'əɪ.gən.,ɑnt/ "scallion, green onion".

Awareness of the changes wrought by the inflection system and its paradigms are a salient aspect of the Nuirn sound system. Consider a word like dag /dɑg̥/, "day". Add the genitive ending -s and it becomes dags /dɑks/. Add the dative-oblique ending and further changes are called for: dæge /dæ.jɨ/.

Other words undergo even more radical changes. By virtue of breaking, stress forwarding, and regular epenthesis iarn "iron" has three syllables in the direct case: /i.ə.ɾən/. Add the genitive ending and the epenthetic syllable is no longer needed: iarnas /i.əɾ.nəs/. And in the dative stem, umlaut moves the stress, reintegrating the broken vowel of the stem: ièrne /jɛɾ.nə/.

Not all Nuirn words have regular changes that are so far reaching, but they represent basic possibilities in the Nuirn sound system.


Gender Cases Numbers Tenses Persons Moods Voices Aspects
Verb No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nouns Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
Adjectives Yes No Yes No No No No No
Numbers No No No No No No No No
Participles No No No Yes No No Yes No
Adverb No No No No No No No No
Pronouns Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Adpositions Yes No Yes No Yes No No No
Article Yes Yes No No No No No No
Particle No No No No No No No No

Personal pronouns and clitics[]

Personal pronouns in Nuirn are much more conservative in their declension patterns than nouns are. Not only do they completely preserve the old nominative/accusative distinction, largely lost in nouns, but they lack the new oblique and partitive cases that grew out of the original dative and genitive cases.

On the other hand, the genitive case in personal pronouns is rare and moribund, because almost all of its functions are done with clitics now; and its possessive use predicately has been taken over by the dative case.

The following are the forms of the personal pronouns and their respective clitics:
Nom: ec, jah, jagh (/ɛk, ja(v))
Gen: minre (/ˈmiːn.drə)
Dat: mier (/miːɐ˞/)
Acc: mey, migh (/meː, mɪ, məɪ/)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -ec, -aëc (/ɛk, əjɛk/)
Poss: -am (/-am/)
Obl : -am (/-am, -əm/)
Nom: þú (/θuː, ðuː/)
Gen: þinre (/ˈθiːn.drə/)
Dat: þier (/θiːɐ˞/)
Acc: þey, þigh (/θeː, θiː, θəɪ/)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -u, -tu (uː, tuː )
Poss: -es (-ɛs)
Obl : -es (-ɛs)
Nom: han (han)
Gen: hans (hans)
Dat: hanum (hanʌn)
Acc: ham (ham)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -an (-an)
Poss: -sa (-sə)
Obl : -an (-an, ən)
Nom: hón (huːn)
Gen: hennes (hɛnəs)
Dat: henni (hɛnɪ)
Acc: hón (huːn)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -ón (-uːn)
Poss: -sa (-sə)
Obl : -ón (-uːn)
Nom: þet (θɛt)
Gen: þettes (θɛtəs)
Dat: þenni (θɛnɪ)
Acc: þet (θɛt)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -et (ɛt)
Poss: -sa (-sə)
Obl : -et (ɛt)
Nom: (wiː )
Gen: (v)ósar ((v)uːsəɾ)
Dat: urum (uːɾʌn)
Acc: (v)óss ((v)uːs)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -(m)uì(dhe) ((m)wiː )
Poss: -avus (-əvuːs)
Obl : -(v)óss (-(v)uːs) (rare)
Nom: i (i: )
Gen: icker (ɪkɐ˞)
Dat: ickrem (ɪkɾən)
Acc: icker (ɪkɐ˞)

Clitic forms:

Subj: -i (i: )
Poss: -i (i: )
Obl : -i (i: ) (all genders)
Nom: þé, þey (θeː )
Gen: þennes (θɛnəs)
Dat: þannum (θanʌn)
Acc: þé, þey (θeː )

Clitic forms:

Subj: -ey (-e: )
Poss: -sa (-sə)
Obl : -ey (-e: )

There is no thou-you distinction in Nuirn; no sense that the second personal singular is colloquial, condescending, or abrupt, or that the plural is formal or polite. However, the second person plural is addressed only to collective groups as collective groups. It would not matter if the following statement was delivered to a crowd of thousands:

  Þelec sóm ilce þú hemme do-faran, ymbet ro-hugan.
  "I want each of you to go home and think about this."

Collective action is not required, so the singular is used instead of the plural. The second person plural is generally avoided.

The genitive has largely been supplanted in ordinary use by the dative case, or by possessive clitics:

"I have a book":
- Is mier na bóc (Note the use of the partitive case where English uses an indefinite article.)

"The book is mine":
- Is mier an bóc

"My book":
- An bóc-am

The possessive clitics are always used with a definite noun. The last remaining use of the genitive pronouns is in comparative statements, where it functions as a standalone noun:

"Your book is longer than mine"
-Is an bóc-es go lengre ot an minre."

But in the first and second persons, even this use can be supplanted by the emphatic forms amve and esve, based on the clitics:

-Is an bóc-es go lengre ot amve."

Clitics are technically separate morphemes, and do not trigger and are not subject to umlaut changes. One conspicuous exception is in the first person subject clitic, which changes based on the high or low quality of the verb it is attached to, and thus has two forms.

The oblique clitics are the normal objects of prepositions. Many prepositions have separate combining forms when used with a pronoun clitic. Thus om "about" has the combining form ymb-, seen above in ymbet "about it". Note that i "in" has the combining form ynn-; ynnam "in me". The combining form is often the same as the form that combines with the definite articles: ynnan, ynnath "in the..." (animate and inanimate genders).


There are really only two declensions of Nuirn nouns, and the second declension is rather a catchment of irregularities, and a closed class.  The open class encompasses the vast majority of Nuirn nouns.


Although it is inaccurate historically, we can call it the "consonant declension", because currently it lacks theme vowels. Nuirn nouns have two genders: animate and inanimate.  There is also a small closed class of relict feminines.   Early Nuirn had four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative.  

Animate nouns typically have plural endings in -r. Inanimate nouns have endings in -n. Gender is theoretically non-natural and inherent to the nouns rather than to their objects, but natural gender has made many inroads. Nouns describing groups of people are almost obligately inanimate: sviner "swine" but svineachan "police officers"; Meiriceanachan or Meiriceanan "Americans".

Cases and etymology[]

The accusative was only minimally distinguished from the nominative in the plural in animate nouns, and always the same as the nominative for inanimates.  On the other hand, both the dative and genitive cases split.  The dative ending acquired a secondary stress when it stood alone, a stress that did not manifest when it was governed by a preposition; thus the personal dative (donative) became distinct from the oblique dative.  

Uncertainty about whether the object of an eventive gerund should be in the accusative or genitive created the mixed partitive case, which later acquired other functions.  The genitive and partitive are often identical; the partitive often drops the -s clitic of the genitive.  

Nuirn nouns have five well preserved cases, and four principal parts.  In the main declension each case is well identified with a characteristic ending.  They are:



  formed from the Nominative stem
  Ending: none


  formed from the Oblique stem
  Endings: -s, -es, -as (weak)


  formed from the Oblique stem
  Endings: as Genitive, or none


  formed from the Dative stem
  Ending: -i (strong)

Dative Oblique

  formed from the Dative stem
  Ending: -e (strong)



  formed from the Oblique stem
  Endings: -er, -ar, -ir (weak, animate}; -an,,-en, -(e)achan (inanimate)

Genitive / Partitive

  formed from the Oblique stem
  Endings: -ene, -ana (weak)

Donative / Dative Oblique plural

  formed from the Dative Plural stem
  Endings: -um, -em (usually strong)

There is a definite article, an for animates and ath for inanimates; the weak 't' of the inanimate is strengthened before vowels and liquids or sonorants.  This 't' has infected the animate gender as well, and as such appears in animates where the 't' would be strengthened in neuters:

ath svinedd  "the police force"
at ríc "the nation"
an stól "the chair"
an t' sól "the sun"

Complexity comes in on account of the system of vowel harmony that comes in through the application of the umlaut rules, which require Nuirn nouns to have three or four personal parts.  To start out simple, here is the declension of a regular consonant stem phrase, an dreng "the (able bodied) man" (animate gender).  


Nom.     an dreng  
Gen.     duna'n drengs / drenges
Par.     na drengs / drenges / dreng
Don.     an drengi
Obl.     an drenge


Nom.     an drenger
Gen.     duna'n drengene
Par.     na drengene
Don.     an drangum
Obl.     an drangum

The only root change here is in the donative/oblique plural: the strong ending '-um' compels lowering of the high stem. nbsp;

Here, by contrast, is the declension of a regular low stem nown, ath tarn "the puddle" (neuter gender):


Nom.     ath tarn
Gen.     dunath tarns / tarnas
Par.     na tarns / tarnas / tarn
Don.     ath tærni
Obl.     ath tærne


Nom.     ath tarna
Gen.     dunath tarnana
Par.     na tarnana
Don.     ath tarnum
Obl.     ath tarnum

The only significant variation of the stem here comes on the two dative cases, where the strong high ending -i or -e collides with the low root and forces umlaut change.

Many Nuirn nouns have complications that, while not rising to the level of irregularities, are somewhat more complicated than simply sticking on the endings. These are due to the regular phonological processes.

Weak final consonant[]

Many Nuirn nouns exhibit weakened final consonants in their uninflected form, such as for example bórdh /bʊɾ/, "table". When an ending is added, the final consonant is revived or brought back to full expression: bórdas /bʊɾdəs/ (genitives) and regularly børde /bøɾdə/ for the datives.

The way a weakened final consonant is realized depends on which consonant it is. In bórdh, the consonant is simply silent; for drabh /drav/, "herb, drug, marijuana" the final 'bh' of the uninflected root is not silenced but simply changed; drabh goes on to form regular genitive stems drabas and datives dræbe.

Weak second syllable[]

Many two syllable roots have a weak second syllable. This weakened second syllable can arise either inherently, because the root has two syllables to begin with (hammar /hamɐ˞/ "hammer") or because of regular epenthesis (féirm /feːɾəm/ "farm"). These weak second syllables are dropped before the dative endings, and sometimes before the genitive endings as well. Hammar can have either hamras or hammars as its genitive, but its dative stem is always hæmre /hɛmɾə/. Note that the doubled consonant is dropped when it comes into contact with the previously separate consonant.

Weak second syllables that arise from epenthesis are often not expressed by separate vowels in the writing: uàtn /watən/ "water", vicn /vɪkən/ "romantic love".

Weak final consonant with epenthesis[]

This group essentially combines the first two features. Regular epenthesis means that some nouns with weak final consonants must become two syllable nouns when the final stem consonant is weakened. Examples are farbh /faɾəv/, "color", and tórgh /tʊɾɘv/ "open air market". When the final consonant is strengthened by the addition of a final syllable, the reason for epenthesis disappears, so the extra syllable is dropped: farbas /farbəs/, tórgas /tʊɾgəs/. Because 'g' is often realized as /j/ in palatal environments, the datives of tórgh is usually written tørghe /tøɾjə/.


These are technically more weakened final consonants, but the grapheme 'nh' for weakened 'n' is not in use, so they appear to be vowel stems but are not. Hazo "rabbit" forms genitive hazans, and dative stem hazaine /hazənʲə/.

Broken stems[]

There is a fairly large group of nouns with "broken" vowels in the stem, such as for example biorn /biːəɾn/ "bear", iordd /iːɘɾð/ "earth", or iarn /iːəɾn/ "iron". Most of these nouns got their vowels from Swedish, where the diphthong was stressed differently; e.g. björn "bear". In Nuirn, the stress of the diphthong was regularly shifted to the first element.

These nouns lose the "broken" vowel in the dative stem and substitute 'e': berne /bɛɾnə/, erdde /ɛɾðə/. Where the broken vowel is at the beginning of the syllable, it is usually preserved as /j/: ièrne /jɛɾnə/.

S / M / R stems[]

These are largely non-native nouns that have endings in -us, -um, and -ur, such as cactus, "cactus". These endings are simply omitted in non-nominative forms: cactas, cæcte, &c.

The name Jesus is highly irregular, with genitive and dative Jesu and in formal styles, a separate accusative Jesum.

Strong roots[]

This is a phonologically complex class of roots that resist umlaut in the dative. Nouns such as cròc "hill, knob" and gnòs "face" are marked by the grave accent as resisting umlaut. Here, because umlaut is not occurring but since umlaut class harmony must be preserved, glides are inserted to form the datives. The insertion of these glides often triggers further changes such as softening. Thus cròc /krok/ has a dative stem cròiche /kroxə/ (not **crøce), and gnòs /gnos/ has a dative stem gnòise /gnosʲə/, in practice /gnoʃə/ (not **gnøse).

Strong roots may have weak final consonants. The noun cnòth "nut" contrasts with cnoth "knot"; cnòth has an oblique stem cnòþ- and datives in cnòiþe; cnoth has an oblique stem cnot- and regular datives in cnøte

Vowel stems[]

A variety of Nuirn words are vowel stems, a closed and relict class. Personal names that are irregular in spelling and end in -a appear here; such a case is Maria. Like strong roots, these do not exhibit regular umlaut changes in the singular. Maria has the genitive and dative forms Mariu. Note also the competing nativised form Maire for "Mary".

A number of common nouns also exhibit this pattern. Most are low stems with long roots, such as spór, "path, trail", which has dative spóru and a genitive that will be either spóru or regular spórs. A number of nouns with low stem roots and that end either in a consonant or final -a have -u in the dative singular: strand "beach, shore" > strándu. The usual lengthening of low stems followed by an inflection with -u appears again in these datives. Note also the stock phrases til salu "for sale", and an analogical formation til látu "for rent".

Some nouns can be concealed vowel stems: rygge "edge" has dative ryggie or ryggje and plurals ryggiar, dative ryggium.

Irregular nouns[]

Some nouns have irregular forms. This is often due to suppletion. For example, cønich, "king", has the oblique stem cong- and a dative stem cøng-. The direct case form perpetuates German König; the oblique stems represent Scandinavian kung. The name Jesus is of irregular declension, as noted above.


Baym mæchtighe hammar na Grabþars, vindigeidenes þú!

Unlike the declension of nouns, where phonological and syntactic changes have preserved and even elaborated the case system, the declension of adjectives in Nuirn is moribund. This is a result of the pidginization process. Still, in theory, adjectives agree in gender, case, and number with the nouns they modify, and are also affected by the definiteness of the noun phrase.

Unlike for nouns, where the surviving case endings of textbook German and dialect Swedish could be harmonized relatively easily, the adjective declensions of the source languages were far more complicated. In both German and Swedish, adjectives not only agree with their modified nouns in gender, case, and number; they are also inflected in parallel "strong" and "weak" declensions based on the definiteness and syntactic structure of the noun phrase. These varied declensions were far harder to reconcile than the basic noun declensions. There was a nagging sense that they ought to be used, though.

As a result, the syntax of the Nuirn noun phrase was remodelled to avoid agreement issues.


A Nuirn adjective has a maximum of four separate inflected forms. Adjectives with all four are scarce enough to be considered irregular. The maximum number of possibilities can be illustrated with stór, "big", and gód, "good"

Nominative animate singular:
-- stór gód

Inanimate singular:
-- stórt gódt

Oblique animate singular:
-- stóru gódra

-- stóra góda

The overwhelming majority of adjectives do not draw a distinction between the oblique animate singular and the plural forms, having a weak ending -a or -e in both forms. Adjectives ending in consonant clusters or -t in the roots generally do not take the -t of the inanimate singular. Adjectives ending in vowels can have a maximum of two forms, a separate inanimate singular form (lille, lillet "small"). Among these are the large number of derived adjectives with the weak suffix -(a)ighe, -(a)igt /-əjə or -ɪjə, -ɪk/. And many adjectives are indeclinable: blá /blɔː/, "blue"; glat "genuine, true".

Adjectives form comparatives in -re, -ere, -ara (weak) and superlatives in -ste, -sta, -(a)iste (weak). There is an intensifying prefix particle ana- "very, quite".

Comparative and superlative[]

The comparative is formed with the weak suffix -ere, -ara, according to the class of the stem: starc > starcara (strong, stronger); senn > sennere (late, later). There is also a separate adverbial comparative in ius which is strong: stærcias "more strongly". This form can be used adjectivally with the partice go.

The superlative is formed with a weak suffix -ste / -sta / -este / - asta. This can be attached directly to adjectives that do not end in consonant clusters: stórsta "biggest", but when adjectives end in consonant clusters a vowel is required: starc > starcasta "strongest".

Some common adjectives have irregular or suppletive comparatives and superlatives: stór > større "bigger"; gód > bættre "better".

Note also that there are intensive prefixes ana- "very" and iètte- / iènte- / iànta- "to a surprising or shocking degree". These are treated as nouns or particles in apposition and are not strictly subject to umlaut changes.

Agreement: restrictive versus descriptive adjectives[]

Because there was a feeling that the strong and weak declensions should be observed, but no agreement as to the forms they would take, the syntax evolved in a way to avoid the issue entirely. The syntax of the adjective phrase depends on whether the adjective is being used restrictively, to name a specific referent; or descriptively, to make an observation about a noun whose identity is certain.

Restrictive adjective phrases are treated as a sort of noun in apposition:

at ríc ath starc /ət ɾik ə stɑɾk/ ("the strong nation" - lit. "the nation, the STRONG one")

In this situation, as in most complex noun phrases, case inflections tend to get offloaded onto the last element of the phrase:

  • dunat ríc ath starcas
    /du:.nət ɾik ə stɑɾ.kəs/
    "belonging to the strong nation"
  • at ríc ath stærci
    /ət rik ə stæɹ̥.kɨ/
    "to the strong nation"

while descriptive adjective phrases are treated as adverbs and preceded by the adverb making particle go. Double marking of the adjective as an adverb is possible here:

  • at ríc go starc or at ríc go starcas ("the nation, which happened to be strong", lit. "the nation, strongly")

Gender and number agreement is required for predicate adjectives:

  • Yr at ríc stórt, men sinn ellere rícen oxá stóra.
    /iɹ̥ ət ɾik stuɹ̥t, mɛn ʃɪn ɛl.ə.ɾə ɾi.kən ʊk.sɔ stu.ɾə/
    "The nation is large, but other nations are also large."

although the forms with go can also be used predicatively:

  • Stundum fyddeir at ríc go starcas.
    /stʊn.dʌm fɪ.ˈðɛɹ̥ ət ɾik gə stɑɹ̥.kəs/
    "Once there was a strong nation."

Adposed descriptive adjectives remain possible, but their use is somewhat restricted syntactically, and typically occur where the adjective is part of a more elaborate clause:

  • Hatt at ríc starc na heirghe stórra ot ath miocht.
    /hɑt ət ɾik stɑɹ̥k nə hɛɾ.jə stʊ.ɾə ɔt ə mi.ʌxk/
    "The strong nation had a bigger army than the weak one."


There are a variety of ways to form adverbs. The one reliable way is to prefix the particle go.

For adjectives that have one, the inanimate singular form in -t can be used as an adverb, with or without go: snarr, "early"; (go) snart, "soon".

Another frequent way to form adjectives is to cast the adjective into the genitive case: (go) snaras "soon", (go) starcas, "strongly".

Either of these inflections can be used redundantly with the particle go.


The Nuirn verb is simultaneously complex and simple. Complex, because it was resolved at the outset to make Nuirn a highly inflected language. Simple, because many of the complexities have fallen out of regular use. Complex again, because features added in the earlier stages of the language have left behind odd bits and scraps, whose use is highly idiomatic.

This is a result of the natural development of the spoken language. As has been noted in the series before, Nuirn underwent a period of florid grammatical expansion in the process of moving from pidgin to cryptolect. Many of the grammatical features elaborated during that period of its development were later abandoned, but not without leaving traces all over the place.

Overview of the inflection system[]

Nuirn verbs are directly inflected for:

  • two voices - active and middle
  • three moods - indicative, subjunctive, imperative
  • two aspects - stative and eventive
  • a variety of tenses, the availability of which depends chiefly on aspect and mood, but which regularly contains a preterit form

In addition to these inflected forms, a Nuirn verb has a variety of verbal nouns: a gerund, a supine, and three infinitives; and a present active and past passive participle.

This listing suggests an immense table of forms. In practice, Nuirn verbs are more like Latin verbs than Greek verbs. There are a handful of basic forms for each verb. These forms are lexical; while they are somewhat predictable, and for rare verbs much more so, in general they must be learned for each verb. But once the basic forms are known, the whole structure can be erected from them fairly regularly, or at least, within the confines of "regularity" allowed by Nuirn phonology.

Stative and eventive[]

Nuirn, like English, distinguishes between stative and eventive verbs.

English: She bowls (stative) vs. She is bowling (eventive) Current Nuirn: Ceglirón (stative) vs. Bhión ag cegledd (eventive)

The form cegledd is a Nuirn gerund, formed from the root verb cegle "to bowl", a distinctive part of Nuirn speech that has largely supplanted the infinitives in many situations. The relationship between Nuirn verbs and their gerunds is complicated. The origin of most Nuirn gerunds is the suffix -het or -heit; however, these have been phonologically complicated for the sake of variety and aesthetics, and as such there is a large variety of suffixes used to make gerunds (-edd, -eþ, -as, -ach are often encountered) and the form of a gerund is lexical and must be learned. Suppletion is quite common; for the verb yrce "to work", the gerund is regular yrcedd when the meaning is "to shape with tools", but suppletive arfaid when the meaning is "to labor at an employment".

The eventive gerund construction is essentially a pidgin form; it allows the substitution of a single uninflected word for the complexities of verbal inflection. On the other hand, it makes a variety of "metaphorical tenses" possible, and allows for the expression of relatively complicated relationships with the action being performed. The basic feature of a metaphorical tense is that it analogizes time relationships to spatial ones. However, the gerund can be possessed as well; these metaphors can describe aspects of the event described:

- Bhíam ag arfaid. IPA /ˈviːəm ək ˈaɾvət/

   THERE.IS-1sg at working 
   "I am working" (base form) 

- Bhíam ag arfaid-am. IPA /ˈviːəm ək ˈaɾvədˌəm/

   THERE.IS-1sg at working-1sg 
   "I am working my work" / "I am doing my job" 

- Bhíam ag arfaid-sa. /ˈviːəm ək ˈaɾvədˌsə/

   THERE.IS-1sg at working-3sg 
   "I am doing his/her/its job for him/her/it" 

- Bhíam deffrá n' arfaid. /ˈviːəm ˈdɛfɾɔn aɾvət/

   THERE.IS-1sg from working 
   "I am done working" 

- Bhíam til arfaid.

   THERE.IS-1sg to working 
   "I am going to work." 

Suppletive and defective verbs[]

Suppletion and redundancy are frequently found. The verb yrce, "to work", for example, has a gerund arfaid that means "to work" as in "to labor at a task". It also means "to shape, mold, repair, work on", and in that sense the gerund is yrcedd. Suppletion also means the confounding of separate paradigms, rather like in spoken Latin, where the word for "to go" was sometimes supplied by forms of ire, sometimes from vadere. Likewise, in Nuirn, the word for give is gifa, which has a regular past participle gefinn, but in speech the form sylte from the related and near synonymous verb syle is much more common.

There are many, many "defective verbs", found only in some of the parts. Quite common are verbs found only in the imperative, such túir give, hand it over!" (túiremet, "give me that!") and obair "open it up, turn it on, spit it out, out with it!" (obair dom!) On the other hand, the imperative is rather rare; in request and commands it is considered rude and abrupt, and tends to be replaced by subjunctives.

How then to classify a form such as þelestes, "somebody's looking for you"? This is the former inflection for the second person middle indicative voice of þele, "to want". The current regular form would be þeles þú, "you are wanted". The old form hangs around as a continuing idiom. Is it a separate defective verb like túir? Or simply an archaic form hanging around as an idiom, as in "fare thee well"?

Basic verb phrase syntax[]

Syntactically, Nuirn word order is governed by a simple rule: a finite verb form (one inflected for person and tense) must go to the head of the sentence and precede both subject and object; the basic and unmarked sentence structure in Nuirn is VSO. The only thing that can precede a finite verb in a main clause are various sentence adverbs and adverb like phrases. Indirect objects can be treated as adverbial when emphasis is called to them:

Mier gafón an bóc. me(DAT.1p.SING) gave(PRET.3p.Sing.Fem) DEF book(OBJ) "It was to me that she gave the book."

This does not hold true in dependent clauses. And the frequency of gerundive structures can relegate the finite verb to a relatively minor feature of the sentence.

Nuirn verbs technically show the old Germanic "strong" and "weak" classes; strong verbs form a preterit by ablaut, and a passive participle in -(a)inn. Weak verbs form a preterit and passive participle with dental suffixes. It is at this juncture idle to speak of strong verb classes; and in fact the distinction between strong and weak verbs is obscured, if not obliterated, by the lexicalization of the separate forms.

A finite verb form in Nuirn will have two forms:

  • A primary form, used with a pronoun clitic, used when the verb is the head verb of a sentence; and
  • A secondary or conjunct form that can only appear with pronouns in subordinate clauses. The third person conjunct forms are also used with non-pronoun subjects.

The primary forms all contain pronoun clitics that serve as subjects, except for the generalized third person forms used with named subjects. The secondary forms lack the pronoun clitics.

It is generally unavailing to speak of separate Nuirn "conjugations" other than "strong" and "weak", and the strong/weak distinction is felt only in the preterit and does not affect any of the verb forms under consideration in this segment. The significant feature, instead, is the high or low umlaut class of the stem. This affects how the endings are attached to each stem. Our model verbs are once more bruca "to use", a low stem, and brise "to break", a high stem.

The verb inflection system[]


As in many Indo-European languages, suppletion and phonological wear caused by frequent occurrence have rendered the verb "to be" highly irregular. In Nuirn the situation is complicated further by contamination from the several source languages. The verb "to be" has one standard infinitive (sia), but it also has older forms, uæse and vara, that occur in various contexts.

Oddly, it has a middle voice form, is /ɪs/, but more usually just /sː/, which literally would translate as the meaningless "it gets been" or "it becomes been", but in Nuirn translates "there is" and similar English expressions. It has irregular pronominal forms.

Note at first that the verb "to be" is not syntactically required in Nuirn, and is usually avoided where one noun is being described in terms of another:

  • Þuí Guþ an teamoên-am, an Drottan an sciút-am
    /θwɪ gʊθ ən tɛmweːnəm ən drotən ən ʃʲuːtəm/
    "As God is my witness, the Lord is my gun."

The present tense has two parallel constructions, one using the "personal stem" and the other an "impersonal stem" bhí.

The conjugation of the present personal stem is as follows:

emec I am /ɛmɛk/
ertiú (ertú) you are /ɛɾtuː/
yran, yrón, yret he is, she is, it is /ɪɾˈan ɪɾˈuːn ɪɾˈɛt/
yr bare 3d singular form /ɪɾ/

seònumuidhe we are /ʃoːnəmwiː/
seònaiþí you (pl) are /ʃoːnəθiː/
seònanay, sinney they are /ʃoːnənəɪ, ʃɪ.nɛɪ/
seònan (seòn, sinn) bare 3d plural form /ʃoːnən, ʃoːn, ʃɪn /

Because the word order of the head clause in a Nuirn sentence is VSO, in practice, pronoun subjects are always clitics, and glued to the end of the verb.

The "impersonal verb to be" is bhí. This represents the original verbal noun of the verb, biþ, softened by de-emphasis and frequent appearance after a vowel. It is "conjugated" with the oblique clitic series:

bhíam I am (plene: bhítheam)
bhíes you are
bhían, bhíón, bhíet he, she, it is
bhí bare form

bhíóss we are (older bhitheamuidhe)
bhíthí you (pl) are
bhíeney they are

The chief use of this form is to define the gerund phrases that mark the eventive tenses. In this context it has a past tense form fydd, conjugated with the oblique clitics as above. (fyddeam, &c.; bare form fydd) Bhí also appears in definitions and similar gnomic statements:

  • Bhí hval ceum fisc. vi kvɑɫ ke.ʌn fɪsk
    "A whale is not a fish." (lit. "A whale is no fish".)

Fydd, by contrast, is almost exclusively used in a historical (eventive) past tense:

  • Fyddeam ag iedd a'r Babalon...... /fɪðəm ək iːəð ɛɾ babəlʊn/
    "I was going to Babylon.... (when)"

Fydd also has an emphatic form, feid-, in the first person feidim /feːdəm/; this is rare outside the first and second persons singular, and represents a holdover from earlier stages of the language.

The yr form has a preterite, which is surprisingly regular:

varec I was
vartú you were
varan, varón, varet he, she, it was
var bare form, singular

várumuidhe we were
varaiþi you were
varanay they were
varan bare form, plural

The syntax of phrases using this verb often differ strongly from English counterparts. For example, in Nuirn professions and similar qualities are possessed, not been. They take a dative case:

  • Is læce henni /sː læçə hɛnɪ/

- "She is a doctor"

not **Yrón læce or **Bhíón læce.

Is Méaracanach mier. /sː meːɾəkanəx miɐ˞/- "I am an American." (There is American-ness for me.)

The middle voice form is is defective; it lacks all except the third person in pronominalized forms. It has the irregular formations issey (var. issé)(he is, it is, they are) and issí (she is). This form can be translated various ways in English:

  • Issey cú /seː kuː/
    "There's a cow"

It is also often used in descriptive sentences with adjective predicates:

  • Is an cú go stór /sː ən kuː gə stuːɐ˞/
    "The cow is large."
  • 'Issí go sáladas /siː gə sɔːlədəs/
    "She is attractive."

The forms in yr are also used with adjectives:

  • Emec daup. /ɛmɛk daʊp/ - "I am tired:"

First principal part, the present stem: infinitives[]

A Nuirn verb has three active and one middle infinitives.

A Nuirn verb has three infinitives, unless the verb is defective for infinitives. With breathtaking originality, these are called the first, second, or third infinitives. There is also a middle infinitive. For the verbs that have them, all of these infinitives will be formed by a simple rule:

First infinitive

The first infinitive will be the bare stem with a vowel added, usually -a or -e to match the umlaut class of the stem, but occasionally -i: bruca ("to use"), brise ("to break"), deyi ("to die").

This is the citation form. For most verbs it also is the abrupt imperative singular; the polite imperative is the subjunctive. It is the complement of some auxiliary verbs, such as sculla and munna, which form compound future tenses.

Second infinitive

The second infinitive adds an -n to the first infintive. Infinitives in -I take -en: brucan, brisen, deyen.

This infinitive is used chiefly with the particle ath. This infinitive is used instead of a gerund in defining and gnomic contexts, and as the complement of verb and other phrases that idiomatically require an infinitive instead of a gerund:

Saor issey ath deyen. "It is hard to die"
/søːɐ˞ ɪseː ə dejən/

Ath brisen, ath coppan. "You break it, you buy it" (To break is to buy)
/ə bɾiːʃən ə kɔpən/

Fáumuidhe at ian til Luafaills. "We need to go to Louisville"
/ˈfɔː,əm.ˌwi ət iːən til luː.ə.vəls/

Yr ath yrcen co'som geirstiú ma'ar veintestiú ath deyen. "Work is what you do while you're waiting to die."
/ɪɾ ət yɾkən koːsəm jɛɾəstˡu maːr veːntəstʲu ə dejən/

Third infinitive.

The third infinitive adds -e or -a to the second infinitive stem: ro-brucana, do-brisene, ro-deyene. It is used in a single context: the phrases using the particle prefix ro- or do-. The /r/ or /d/ here are in free variation, and chosen for the sake of clarity and euphony. This can be translated into English in a variety of ways: "in order to", "for the sake of", "because".

Farumuidhe til Lánders, an dronnaich do-seëne. "We're going to London to see the queen"
/ˈfɔːɾ.əm.ˌwi tɪl lɔndəɾs, ə dɾunəx do sejənə/
 The particles ro- and do- can modify adjectives as well as adverbs.

Is úirt ro-brucana; blomma do-feigher. "An herb is to use; a flower to be pretty."
/sː uːəɾt ɾo bɾuːkənə bluːmə do fejəɾ/

Middle infinitive

The forms with ro- / do- are often used with the middle infinitive as well. The middle infinitive is identical to the middle voice form of the verb generally; it adds -s to the first infinitive. It is translated as "get _______-ed", "become ________-ed", "_______ oneself":

brucas "to be used, to get used, to use yourself"
brises "to be broken, to get broken, to break itself"
Is úirt ro-brucas. "An herb is to be used."

Formed from the present stem: the stative active present[]

The simple stative present stem is the infinitive minus its final vowel, unless the verb is a monosyllable ending in a vowel, such as gá "to go" (usually supplanted by ían "to go" in any case.)

These forms express continuing, general, habitual, or universal actions in the present tense. They are non-punctual; they do not refer to a temporary present state of affairs, but rather to general statements of abiding truth. They are also used with appropriate adverbs as a simple future: Iec a' Luafaill i mørghen (I am going to Louisville in the morning.)

Pay attention to the affixed pronominal clitics. They recur throughout the verb paradigms.

The primary forms are:

brucaëc I use /
bruxtú (brucstú)* you (sing) use
brucaran he uses
brucarón she uses
brucarat* it uses

brucar general 3sing form for use with non-pronoun subjects.

brucumuidhe** we use
brucaiþí you (pl) use
brucanay* they use

brucann general 3pl form


brisec I break
bristiú* you (sing) break
briserean* he breaks
brisereón* she breaks
briseret it breaks

briser general 3sing form

briseumuidhe** we break
briseþí you (pl) break
briseney they break

brisenn general 3pl form

  • Because the pronominal clitics are in fact clitics and not inflections, the preservation of umlaut quality is not strictly needed in those forms. Written forms such as brucaret, brucaney, bristú are permitted.
    • In formal registers, and when the distinction is useful, Nuirn distinguishes between and "inclusive we" (the forms provided) and an "exclusive we" (brucumuide, briseumuide) that excludes the person being addressed. ("We could go to the movies" vs. "We will stop your evil scheme, Dr. Doom!") Thus, the standard spelling shows a silenced consonant, which springs back in the exclusive form.

The secondary forms are:

bruca I use
bruxt, brucst you use
brucar he, she, it uses

brucum we use
brucaþ you use
brucann they use


brise I break
brisst, brisest you break
briser he, she, it breaks

briseum we break
briseþ you break
brisenn they break

These forms are used with noun subjects. In highfalutin' text they might be used with any of the persons: Brise an udundar (I, the monster, break....) This is not everyday usage. These forms are usually marked for subordination, and are used in subordinate clauses, where the finite verb first standard word order is often modified.

Formed from the present stem: the stative middle present[]

What follows is likely the easiest set of verb paradigms in Nuirn: the present middle and the simple future active. These are the last verb forms in Nuirn formed from the present infinitive stem.

The present middle

In current Nuirn, the present middle voice of any regular verb is formed by a reliable rule. You drop the final -n from the second infinitive and replace it with -s. This form serves as the conjugated finite form for all persons and numbers, and also as the middle infinitive.

Thus, for our model verbs bruca and brise, "to use" and "to break" respectively, the conjugations go:

brucas ec I get used, am used
brucas þú you get used, are used
brucas han he gets used, is used
brucas hón etc.
brucas þet
brucas uí We get used...

brucas í
brucas þey

brises ec I get broken, am broken
brises þú


Syntax, translation, and usage

The Nuirn middle voice is a versatile and frequently encountered verb form. There are a number of ways to translate it in English:

gets __________ed
is _________ed
becomes __________ed
turns __________ed
_________s itself

As an essentially invariant form, it is usually used in current usage with a full pronoun rather than a clitic. In older Nuirn, it had synthetic foms, a few of which survive, mostly in fixed phrases and fossil forms. The ones that still have some currency are:

-mey, -may former first person singular: brisemey, "I am broken"
-stan, stón, former third person masc., fem. Forms
-(e)unsaí, former first person plural form: struntunsaí, "we become intoxicated"

With some intransitive verbs, usage requires that the subject be cast in the accusative case rather than the nominative case:

Þórstas mey, "I am thirsty".
Hygec er siùcas mey. "I think I'm getting sick".

Because the pronoun here is not in the nominative, it does not have to appear directly after the finite verb in a main clause, and can wander freely: mey þórstas…..

With verbs referring to weather and similar phenomena, it is used with a null subject:

Reghnas. "It is raining"
Sólas. "The sun is shining"
Standhas, yn ías ecki. "The traffic is bumper to bumper" (lit. "It gets stood, and it does not get gone.")

As such, it also functions as a general impersonal form. The verb "to be" has impersonal forms: is, "there is", and also bhí (plene, bhíth), which figures mostly in the conjugation of the eventive sequence. Deponent and defective verbs.

A number of verbs are used chiefly in the middle voice. Weather verbs are one category; there are others, such as baþas "bathe" and rennightheas "wash yourself".

Aian "to say" is an important defective verb. It has three active forms: aiec and aistiú, "I say" and "you say", and aiumuidhe, "we say". It has a weak preterit, aidde, which is regular. But the commonest encountered form of this verb is aiteas, an irregular middle voice form that means "it is said". This also serves as a third person singular and plural form.

Formed from the present stem: the simple future[]

The simple future

The simple future is easily described. Except in the third person singular, it is a possessed second infinitive. It is only used with pronominal subjects, and as such, they must remain glued to the end of the verb in main clauses:

brucanam I will use
brucanaës you will use
brucanan he will use
brucanón she will use
brucanet it will use

brucanavus we will use
brucanaí you (pl) will use
brucanay they will use

briseneam I will break
brisenes …..


The simple future calques English's "I have to…." construction, and is used in similar contexts. It suggests duty or obligation. More general or abstract futures are formed with a variety of auxiliaries, such as the general and colorless sculla (conjugated form sca) and munna, and the somewhat more imperative fáa and gete, which have some of the force of English "shall".

Second principal part: the subjunctive stem[]

The Nuirn subjunctive mood is in its origin a somewhat regularized and modified version of the German subjunctive. It is unmarked for tense in the non-periphrastic stative system. It has largely displaced the imperative except in stock phrases and formal contexts. It is highly regular.


One distinguishing feature of the Nuirn subjunctive is its relative regularity, especially for low-stem verbs. Very simply, the Nuirn subjunctive is an obligatory high form. This means that for almost all low stem verbs, the subjunctive stem is derived from the high umlaut transformation of the original stem vowel. This holds true, moreover, whether the verb is weak or strong:

fara "go" -----fære
hálla "hold" -----hælle
blota "offer" -----bløte
bóa "dwell in" -----bøe
gnugga "gnaw" -----gnygge
fúra "lead" -----fýre
auca "increase" -----øyce
caora "herd" -----caoire

Irregularities here tend to be purely conventional and orthographic. Hafa ":have" has the subjunctive stem hefe as its usual written form, although hæfe is permitted.

It becomes complicated when dealing with high stems. The majority of high stem verbs simply use the subjunctive ending rather than the indicative endings and are done with that:

brise "break" ---- brise

Many strong high stem verbs have low preterite stems. For some verbs following this pattern, the subjunctive root is formed from the high umlaut of the preterite stem.

gife "give" ----- preterite gaf ----- subjunctive gæfe
gete "beget" ----- preterite gat ----- subjunctive gæte
syldhe "sell" ----- preterite sáld ----- subjunctive sælde

A number of weak high stem verbs follow the phonological result of this pattern, which is especially a pattern among simple high stem verbs with I as the stem vowel:

life "live" ----- preterite lifede ----- subjunctive lefe
spile "play" ----- preterite spilte ----- subjunctive spele
blife "become" ----- preterite blifede ----- subjunctive blefe

The copula sian has a present subjunctive sie and a past subjunctive form vørre. This is the only subjunctive marked for tense in the stative system.


Because subjunctive stems are obligately high, the usual source of irregularities and complications, the need to adjust strong endings with incompatible stems, is removed. As a result, the conjugation of the subjunctive is very regular. Like all Nuirn verbs, it has primary and conjunct / subordinate forms, and an invariable middle voice:


1.sing brisec "may I break"
2.sing brisistiú or brisestiú "may you break"
3.sing brisean "may he break"
briseón "may she break"
 briset "may it break"
brise "may ...... break" brisemy "may we break" briseþí :"may you all break" briseney "may they break"
brisen "may ......s break"

Middle: brisis "may (it) get broken"


1.sing brise
2.sing brisis or brises
3.sing brise brisem briseþ

3. pl. brisen

Middle: brisis

Note also that the third person neuter form (briset) is often used with noun subjects as well: briset ath ric (let the government be broken up.)

Third principal part: the gerund[]

The Nuirn gerund is the third principal part of a Nuirn verb (present/infinitive stem, subjunctive stem, gerund, and preterit are the four parts). Like the principal parts of Greek or Latin verbs, it is lexical. It functions as a verbal noun, and takes the place of functions that English would express using a participle or infinitive. It serves as the complement of several auxiliary verbs. Most importantly, it is used to express the "eventive" or "progressive" tenses in Nuirn, and expresses tense and aspect by being the object of a number of prepositional idioms.

The etymology of the gerund is complicated, and suppletion is very common, especially in the paradigms of frequently used verbs. Quite a few verbs admit of variant forms. Some verbs have two, that are used in separate senses.

The most basic suffixes used to form it are -edd, -add. -eþ, and -(e)aþ (/-əð, -əθ/); these suffixes continue Swedish -het, German -heit and -keit. They are common among less frequent verbs; derived verbs formed in -ere, -ara, and -(a)isère almost always have -eredd, -araþ, and -(a)isèredd as their gerunds. Noun derived verbs like cegle, "to bowl", likewise use cegledd.

The suffix often gets changed to -es, -as, or hardened to -(e)ach, -(e)acht, -t, -þ, and on occasion to -f. Some are irregularly spelled by custom. And others are simply oncelers.

  • durra dare durras
  • caoine sing caint, also cinedd
  • tyne care about tyneacht
  • tróa believe in trówydd, also regular tróedd (both /tɾuː.ɨð/)

Here are some frequently used verbs and their verbal nouns:

  • hafa have heft
  • ... do deanfaí* /ˈdʲa.nə.ˌvi/

Note: Nuirn has much less call for a verb 'to do' than English. Deanfaí is a defective verb, more or less a placeholder or kadigan verb rather like 'do' is in English. It is used in greetings such as "how are you doing?" (hvait ag deanfaí þu? /kətʲ ə /ˈdʲa.nə.ˌvi ðu:/)

  • aia say aiteas
  • go gengd
  • ían go íedd
  • fáa get fengd
  • gière make gièrdd, gièrt
  • uète know uíteaga, cend*
  • huga think hugaid (trans., "to hold the opinion that")
    • hugaìnder (intrans., "ponder") After:
    • --- remember sufaìnder
  • taga take teacht
  • sée see síocht
  • còmma come cemd, comd
  • þele want þeledd, þelesme
  • bruca use brucaþ, brucaid
  • findhe find faint
  • gife give gáfa
  • sceala tell a story iscèilte
  • yrce work arfaid* ("to labor at a job")
    • yrcedd ("to shape, form, build")
  • calla call call
  • hette to be named (y)hett
  • søce try socht
  • speire ask spørf, spørv
  • fáa need faodach(t) /'fø:.dʲɘx(k)/

In stative constructions fáa "need" and "get" tend to fall together, but in eventive constructions the two are distinguished.

  • smíe feel smacht
  • blíe become blefit
  • lefne leave left
  • stige put steig
  • (be)tide mean (be)tidsel
  • hálla keep hált
  • láta let látt
  • beginne begin beginsel
  • hopa hope hofaint, also hofaìnder
  • hièlpe help hilf
  • tala talk taladd, also tailte
  • uèrþe turn uairþ
  • børghe start borgaid
  • vise show visedd
  • heyre hear éisteacht*, éisteachod* /'ɛɪʃ.tʲɑxk, 'ɛɪʃ.tʲɑ.,xo:d/
  • spile play speilt
  • irne run irneaþ
  • fara travel ferdd, færdd
  • elsce like éilis /'ɛɪ.lɪʃ/
  • life live lifedd
  • tróa believe trówydd
  • euchna own egeint, aigent
  • bara carry berdd
  • ete, ethe eatt itheadd, itheagh
  • riste write ristedd, scríofaþ*
  • affla provide afflaid
  • sitte sit sitteþ
  • stáa stand stent
*Suppletive forms

Fourth principal part: preterit and past participle[]

This is one of the few areas of Nuirn grammar where broad rules can be made for the formations of one of the principal parts. The formation of the preterit stem is one of them. The past participle's form usually is taken from the preterit stem or can be predicted from it.

Nuirn verbs follow the old Germanic distinction between strong verbs, which have preterits formed by vowel variation (af-hliùd), and weak verbs, with preterits formed by a dental suffix. Unlike in English, strong verbs are not a closed class in Nuirn. Verbs that can be fitted into the strong system often get converted, and the strong past participle suffix in -(a)inn has been picked up by many verbs of the weak class, often with a slightly different meaning.

There is also a present participle with the weak suffix -anda / -ende that is formed from the present stem. This also has a "nominative" form in -ans / -ens that makes people words: talans "speaker"; dirigens "movie director, orchestra conductor".

Nuirn verbs fall into one of these three classes:

  • Weak non-dental verbs
    • This is the main class of weak verbs. Most newly coined verbs go here as do verbs coined from non-verb roots. They will usually form their preterits with the weak suffix -ada / -ede and their participles with -at or -it.
  • Weak dental verbs
    • These are weak roots with stems that have a final -t, -d, -þ, or softened versions of these. Various irregularities attend the attachment of the dental suffix here. The strong suffix -(a)inn has also made inroads here.
  • Strong verbs
    • The familiar Germanic irregular verbs, with vowel changes and a participle in -(a)inn.
The simple weak verb[]

The suffix is weak and follows the class of the root:

  • tala, "speak" > talada /tɑ.lə.də/
  • grise "give birth, beget, parent" > grisede /gɾi.sə.də/

In the past participle, however, both of these verbs exhibit a frequent variation, however. They have past participle forms talat and grisit that are used mostly in verb phrases that call for a past participle. When the participle modifies a noun, on the other hand, the strong ending is very frequently borrowed:

  • at uòrd go talainn /ət wuɾd gɘ tɑl.ɨn/ "the spoken word"
  • an t' Sonn ensam grisinn /ən tsʊn ɛn.səm gɾi.sən/ "the only begotten Son"

Some weak verbs that end in sonorants assimilate to the dental stems: brise "break" > briste, brisinn.

Dental stems[]

Dental stems tend to assimilate to the strong verbs, and several new strong verbs in Nuirn were former weak dental stems. The endings for the past tense assimilate to the root, often with vowel changes. On occasion this results in forms identical to the present stem. Some dental stems are concealed by softening:

  • háldha also hálla /hɔ.lə/ > helde /hɛl.də/ "hold"; pp. heldinn
  • echde /ɛx.tə/ "marry" > echde; pp. echdinn
Strong verbs[]

All strong verbs can be considered sui generis. There are a number of patterns they fall into, but none are so predictable as to enable you to classify them into separate classes like in Old English. A common pattern is to have a long vowel in the present stem, an umlaut shift up or down in the past stem, and a shortened vowel, either from the present or past, in the participle. This can't be handled algorithmically, though.

Some sample paradigms:

  • "sit" sitte, satt, settinn
  • "eat" éte, ætt, etinn
  • "drink" dricce, dræc, drucainn
  • "turn" veirþe, varþ, ver‏þinn
  • "fall" falla, fell, fallainn
  • "give" gife, gaf, gefinn
  • "wash" þuètte, þuætt, þuèttinn
  • "pull", tágha, tog, togainn (also togte)
  • "sing singe, sæng, sungainn
  • "fight" strife, straff, stráfainn
  • "sow" saiua, sair, suthainn
  • "sew" siua, sæ, suinn
  • "dig" grafa, greff, gráfainn
  • "increase" auca, éic, aucainn (also éiauc)


Verb phrase basics[]

Nuirn, like English, distinguishes between stative and eventive verbs.

English: She bowls (stative) vs. She is bowling (eventive) Current Nuirn: Ceglirón (stative) vs. Bhión ag cegledd (eventive)

The form cegledd is a Nuirn gerund, formed from the root verb cegle "to bowl", a distinctive part of Nuirn speech that has largely supplanted the infinitives in many situations. The relationship between Nuirn verbs and their gerunds is complicated. The origin of most Nuirn gerunds is the suffix -het or -heit; however, these have been phonologically complicated for the sake of variety and aesthetics, and as such there is a large variety of suffixes used to make gerunds (-edd, -eþ, -as, -ach are often encountered) and the form of a gerund is lexical and must be learned. Suppletion is quite common; for the verb yrce "to work", the gerund is regular yrcedd when the meaning is "to shape with tools", but suppletive arfaid when the meaning is "to labor at an employment".

The eventive gerund construction is essentially a pidgin form; it allows the substitution of a single uninflected word for the complexities of verbal inflection. On the other hand, it makes a variety of "metaphorical tenses" possible, and allows for the expression of relatively complicated relationships with the action being performed. The basic feature of a metaphorical tense is that it analogizes time relationships to spatial ones. However, the gerund can be possessed as well; these metaphors can describe aspects of the event described:

- Bhíam ag arfaid. IPA /ˈviːəm ək ˈaɾvət/
THERE.IS-1sg at working
"I am working" (base form)

- Bhíam ag arfaid-am. IPA /ˈviːəm ək ˈaɾvədˌəm/
THERE.IS-1sg at working-1sg
"I am working my work" / "I am doing my job"

- Bhíam ag arfaid-sa. /ˈviːəm ək ˈaɾvədˌsə/
THERE.IS-1sg at working-3sg
"I am doing his/her/its job for him/her/it"

- Bhíam deffrá n' arfaid. /ˈviːəm ˈdɛfɾɔn aɾvət/
THERE.IS-1sg from working
"I am done working"

- Bhíam til arfaid.
THERE.IS-1sg to working
"I am going to work."


Verb phrases are negated by a number of particles, including ecki, éy, and ne. The use of these particles is sharply constrained by syntax.

Ecki is the most widely used of these, and is the general negation particle. It is used with both conjugated verbs (...ecki gatumuidhe ro-øfversette... "we cannot dedicate...") and with gerund verb constructions (Bhíam ecki ag arfaid "I am not working.") Ecki usually precedes the verb or gerund it negates.

The particle éy has a much more constricted use. Its chief purpose is to form negative imperatives. (Sørgh éy! - "Don't bother!") It can also be used to negate predicates of the impersonal verb to be. (Is an cú éy go stór "There is a cow, not large"), although ecki can also be used in this latter context. Another use for éy is the negation of predicate adjectives, although here ecki can be used also. In this situation it precedes the adjective it modifies. (Yr at ríc éy go stóras or ...ecki go stóras "The nation is not strong.")

The particle ne has the most constricted uses. It negates subjunctive conjugated verbs (ne brisis 'et "I hope it doesn't break.") Note, however, that the form neve corresponds to English nor and as such sees more use than naked ne (ecki gatumuidhe ro-øfversette, neve do-veithna, neve do-halga, an fold anseò "we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground.")

Note also that the declarative verb is has a specific negative form níl æ... ("there aren't any....") Níl æ... governs the partitive case.

The noun phrase[]

Prepositions can govern any of the oblique cases. The preposition til can govern the genitive, dative, or accusative, with differences of meaning; til an doctors (gen) "at the doctor's house"; til an doctoire (dat) "at the doctor", til an doctor (acc) "into the doctor".


Parts of the head in nuirn

Lærem uí at ennymen na stuckana dunath hófuds go mænniste i N‎ýrne.

Let's learn the names for the parts of the human head in Nuirn

No. English
2you (singular)þú
5you (plural)ì
7thisþetteir, isten
8thatdádair, athseo
11whohvé, hvem
16notey, ecki
19somenøy (c), naut (n)
21othereller, elleth
29widefleathan, caol
33shortsmá, cuirt, laghe
36womanfitte, dirne, fru (pej)
37man (adult male)dreng
38man (human being)
40wifedirne, fru, hustru
41husbanddreng, fengtman
44animaldiur, þyrr
50wormórm, masc
51treetræ, trædh
55seedsæmen, frø
64bloodhreau, blód
65bonebeinn, ngoch
71hairhár (singly), féax (collectively)
72headhaubiþ, huda, hófvud (suppletive)
97vomitreicce (v) uæm (n)
106fearsia i tmaor na
111fightstrife (mod)
122comecomma, vinge
125standstá (stanna, standha)
152riverau, flymen
154seasiey, hagaid
163windvind, fønn
167firetéinn, eld
170roadgáng, gade, bann
176blacksvart, tærn
177nightníos, nacht
178daydydd, dag
186badfell, felhilge
194wetdamfa, fleoch
195dryseachtain, sechtire
196correctrett, próf
201attil, a'r
204andyn, águs, ách
206becausesynnes, før þonna sóm

Example texts[]

Psalm 23[]

 An Drottan an hirdend-am;
  fattanam ecki.

Géirean, som hvilec ynne fealdum grønne;
  fyrrean migh a'r taoife na vathna stille;

Uiþergéirean an sièl-am;
  fyrrean migh ynne gadum na rettighedd, søcne at ennym-sa.

Ja, dá faraëc treise an dødscuggans dæle, mier scrachar ceumath n' olcu;
  þui ertiú léam; migh trøsten an stang-es yn ath staf-es.

Mier duxtú bordh framfor an fiandar-am;
  smørstiú an t' hud-am baym olaife, øfverfløder an cuaich-am.

Go visst migh sca folgha bendigheid yn chesed þre alla lifs dagar-am;
  yn bóanam ynne Drottans hyse go h'aionan.


Géir stór an sièle-am an Drottan,
yn gledie an atem-am i Gyde an Hælend-am.

Før þonna, hygdean an lálighedd duna'n þienist-sa;
dáfor bendigeid mey hettene alle ceneith.

Før han, sóm yr maighde, mièr hatt giert stóra;
yn halga at ennym-sa.

Sees ath mildighedd-sa allum sóm seònan i tmaor hanum,
deffrá ceneithe uiscean ceneith.

Geòran ath maighdean le an bein-sa;
frásentean an høyer ynnan hugaid-sa innemest.

Frácastan congar deffrá'n stolum-sa,
yn høyede an láligher.

Fylldean an fæþme le godana
yn frásentean viden ath rice.

Hièlfean an þiènist-sa Isreël
a'r sufainder an chesed-sa,

guithcean Abraham yn an ceneith-sa go h'aionan
alt sá aiddean an jafaþrum-avus.

Prayer of St. Francis[]

A Drottan, migh gceiris þú møghen na friþ-es.

Adoy haoinis, sy þeir elscedd;
adoy hiòrt, misceunn;
adoy tuıfl, tróisie;
adoy neyrleugh, hofaint;
adoy morcaidd, hliús;
adoy daupt, frø.

A Herr go Himne, mier syle at,
neve ro-trøstes, ve trøste;
neve ro-forstannas, ve forstâ;
neve ro-elsces, ve elsce.

Før syddet ag gáfa, gafas uí;
ag forlátaþ, forlàtas uí;
ag døþ, føddes uí aunsa'r líf go h' aionan.

-- St. Francis of Assisi.

Gettysburg Address[]

Fyre fuá titiùgo gan siú iáran þarutan, scaupan an gofadhrar-avus nye þíod, omhygt í fríedd, go plichtinn a'r an søcne, sóm scaupas alla menniscir go samt.

Annur antraffas uí ynne crighe stóru gan sam-þíodaiste, forath prufa ensi ath þíod ath seò, er æ na þíod sá-deles omhygt yn yhechtint, má standha go langt. Mátumuidhe a'r an stóru slachs-felde na creigs anseò. Quammumuidhe forat øfversette stuck na stods istén, þuí ath hvilstodh ath sist, tilley sóm gafann ath lifan-sa soþan ath þíod istén má lifi. Go glatt møtet, ana-møtet, urum sá ro-geire.

Men de ynne større betydsele, ecki gatumuidhe ro-øfversette, neve do-veithna, neve do-halga, an fold anseò. Módaighe drengnir, ve cuìcce ve døde, som hær slaghdan -- dom'sa't helginn, ana-distel øfver an máighde-avus go fættighe at auca ve ath myndre. Go liteth sca mærce an véird, neve haldha í minni go langt, þetsom aiumuidhe hær: men næfer sculla't glaoma þetsom gièrdenney hær. Falls urum ag lif, snæres, at plichtes uí a'r ath yrce ath unslutainn, sóm aþroannay, dom ag strifidd alt sá adalt. Snæres falls urum at plichtes uí ag an stóru utgáfa quaross do-manaþon -- deffrá'n dódum anseò ath fengi aucainn hængniss til an søcne istén sóm gafanay an siste glatt níod na hængniss -- sóm hær høyrædes lausumuidhe, ne deyenn an døder anseò go vanam -- at ath þiod athseò, unnar Guþ, má hafa nye fødsel na fríedds, ynnat þingmøt na folcs, abde følce, yn før følce ecki sca tappas deffrá'n ierdde.

-- Abraham Lincoln

An opinion best left in Nuirn[]

Bhí ath hugaid-am ymbean folganda film ynne serie Ath Spiler na Fæþmes - N' Eld ag Fengd ynne stødhe na tuìfl. Mey unnorcar ath grund-sett. I Paneme, tynec an boandar na Hudastads méir ots tynec an boandar na Gauene.

Is felhilge roth-aian an til Meireacanachum, þá: felhilge, at forsatta þarum --

-- helder ag jægeþ, ag trædcræft yn a'r fæmilie yn þiøde bundainn, go saorugs gan go hardt i lifsmedele, starc mende straffsam -- -- mod niþingium ag cultùr. ag faisiòn, gan ag const, mende þá sóm sees þuí miøc, fandan lexem yn lyssem i hygde.

Yn æ na stødhe n'isceal athseò, syddet an t-éilis-am lé an niþingium gan mod an heldeum; ve-tynsem an heldinne. Nil nissey an t' ólcum ynne Meireaca sóm hørcnes pá þet. Yn ath stighen ei iòmfru peige, toxota a'r an bágu gan at sciùta go mæstre, aunsa stod na helds go starc yn go hardt ag jægeþ, ne' vihéles uìlbiùdar atta scátt.


folganda second
fæþm hunger
eld fire
stod place
norca to please, to make content
boans inhabitant
hudastad capital city
gau district
felhilge mistake
Meireaca America; Meiricanach American
held hero; heldinne heroine
jægeþ gerund of jaege, to hunt
trædcræft woodcraft, woodsmanship
saorugs difficult, poor
hardt stern
starc strong
straffsam violent
niþing villain
faisiòn fashion
const art
miøc weak
fandan lexem yn lyssem i hygde damnably frivolous lightweights
isceal story
hørcnes be encouraged
toxota a'r an bágu gan at sciùta go mæstre (this one is left as an exercise for the student)
uìlbiùda volunteer
scátt tax