Classification and Dialects[]



Bilabial Alveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m̥ mʰ m  n̥ nʰ n ŋ̊ ŋʰ ŋ
Plosive p pʰ b t tʰ d k kʰ g
kʷ kʷʰ gʷ
q qʰ ɢ
qʷ qʷʰ ɢʷ
Fricative s h ɦ
hʷ ɦʷ
Affricate ts tsʰ dz
Approximant j (w)
Trill r
Lateral app. l


Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e ə o
Low a


Phinian possesses a highly complex syllable structure, with six onset and three coda positions, around a single vowel. Phonetic analysis reveals that epenthentic vowels, usually resembling [ə] but can vary between [ə~i~u], may be inserted into consonant clusters involving prefix h- and m-. This epenthentic vowel is non-phonemic and non-contrastive; as such, it is not reflected in orthography.

It should be noted that much of the complexity in syllable structure is due to derivational morphology, and lexical items are usually restricted to the form C(C)V(C). The root may begin with any phonemic consonant; then, a glide /r l j/ is optional, plus a compulsory vowel. Open syllables are permitted, and codas are restricted to liquids or bilabial, alveolar, and velar nasals and plosives. In coda position, there is no contrast between voicedness and aspiration.

Writing System[]

Letter a ia e o u i r l j w s
Sound a e ə o u i r l j (w) s
Letter m 'm m' n 'n n' ng 'ng ng' ngw 'ngw ngw'
Sound m n ŋ ŋ̊ ŋʰ ŋʷ ŋ̊ʷ ŋʷʰ
Letter p p' b t t' d k k' g kw kw' gw
Sound p b t d k g kʷʰ
Letter q q' gh qw qw' ghw * h hh *w hw hhw
Sound q ɢ qʷʰ ɢʷ ʔ h ɦ ʔʷ ɦʷ



Phinian nouns are not inflected for case, gender, and number; however, there exists a system of deverbial, denominal, and de-adjectival derivation, by morphological affixes, that produces nouns.


Phinian verbs are not inflected for mood, voice, person, number, tense, or aspect.  Like nouns, there also exists a system of denominal, deverbial, de-adjectival verbs.  Furthermore, factatives, resultatives, and causatives are regularly derived morphologically.  


  • Suffix -s derives agentives nouns from transitive verbs and reflexive objects from intransitive ones.
  • Suffix derives intransitive verbs from nouns and dimunutives.
  • Infix -r- is an intensive, forming adjedtives in the comparative degree; the -r- infix must be distinguished from lexical -r-, which are part of many roots.
  • Infix -j- changes transitive verbs into intransitive verbs and vice versa, creates relative verbs, imparts reflexive value, and possesess a range of other meanings; however, it rarely appears as a analyzable affix, and -j- is usually considered lexical.
  • Prefix m- has an intransitivizing and stativizing function on verbs and marks inherent components when applied to living things, e.g. tsjek "foot" contra m-tsjek "root, foundation".
  • Prefix n- has an introvertive/extrovertive alternation value, changing introvertive verbs (which imply a change in the state in the direct or indirect object) to extrovertive verbs (which create an observable effect). 
  • Prefix s- derives causative verbs.
  • Prefix h- derives resultative verbs and stative adjectives from verbs.


Since nouns are not marked for case, and there is no verbal and adjectival agreement, word order is key to conveyance of meaning.  Phinian has a predominantly SVO order, though the object may be fronted for emphasis.  The verb may under no circumstance precede the subject in prose. Phinian permits both head-initial and head-final constructions, particularly in simple modifiers. Subordinate clauses that modify a single term may also occur on both sides, but head-final is the usual and unmarked construction; where head-initial constructions occur, the subordinate clause or phrase is usually interpreted as postpositive.


Definition Lexeme
I (ng)la
you n(j)ej
we ng(r)a(r)
this dji
that n(r)jij
who, what g(r)a
not m(j)a~me(t)
all s-nung
many tar
one *et
two njej
big tjar
long t(j)ang
small n-saw
woman m-nja*
man m-pja
person n(j)in
fish (n)g-la
bird puj
dog kw'jian*
louse r-sjik
tree mok
seed h-s(r)iang
leaf lap(s)
root (m)-kon
bark bu*
skin kar
flesh njak
blood h-s-*wit
bone kwjit
grease lur
egg ron
horn qrakw
tail m-rju
feather n-pjuj
hair m-hat
head du*
ear n-s-kwon
eye ngw(r)ing
nose m-*it
mouth go*
tooth h-li*
tongue m-lat
claw h-nu-s
foot n-s(j)ek
knee h-s(j)ek
hand tu*
belly phu
neck q(r)jang
breasts n-qe*
heart sjem
liver h-*on
drink lim
eat g(j)ek
bite s-n-li*
see n-kian
hear h-ling
know t(j)it
sleep gru
die s-hjial
kill n-hial
swim gwljing*
fly p(j)uj
walk go
come glek
lie lan
sit dzuj
stand gljap
give gla
say gw(j)at
sun n(j)it
moon n-hwjat
star siang
water lul
rain n-laj
stone djak
sand r-sal
earth t'a*
cloud gwjen
smoke h-mek-s
fire mer
ash(es) n-miar
burn sing-s
path du*-s
mountain s-ng(r)an
red k'l(j)ak
green ruk
yellow gwang
white bjiak
black h-mek
night ljil
hot men
cold glang
full mon
new s-*jing
good hu*
round gwjian
dry qan
name mjing

Example text[]