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

Shinsali (natively Icëlatam [it͡səlatam]) is a language isolate spoken natively by approximately 150,000 of the Shinsali people in the Shinsali Confederacy, an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a predominantly prefixing agglutinative language which has various polysynthetic tendencies.

General information[]

Shinsali is a non-noun-incorporating polysynthetic-agglutinative language. Despite being head-final, the language uses postpositions. It is generally prefixing, however there are a few odd verbal suffixes. Word order is SOV in normal sentences, but VSO in relative clauses. Verbs decline for 14 aspects and 7 moods, but there is no morphological tense. Verbs can indicate deictal information as well on verbs of motion. Nouns decline as well, for case, number, definiteness, and possession.



Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plain Lateral
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k g ʔ
Fricative f v s z ɬ ʃ x ɣ h
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ
Approximant l j w
Trill r̥ r
  • All consonants can occur as geminates. Word-initial and word-final geminate plosives are often realized as affricates.


Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Close-mid e ø
Mid ə
Open-mid ɔ
Open a
  • Vowels can form closing and opening diphthongs with /j/ and /w/.
  • Allophonic long vowels can occur across syllable boundaries, but these can also be pronounced as a single short vowel or with hiatus.


Most phonemes are written the same as their IPA symbol. The ones that do not are listed in the table below. If a phoneme written as a digraph is to be geminated, only the first element of the digraph is doubled, as in ttj - /c:/. If /tc/ or any similar combination of sounds (i.e. those which would be written using the same character twice, not indicating gemination) is written with an x between the single grapheme and the digraph, but is not pronounced using a glottal stop.

Phoneme Grapheme
/r̥/ rh
/ɬ/ lh
/t͡s/ c
/t͡ʃ/ ch
/ɲ/ nj
/c/ tj
/ɟ/ gj
/ŋ/ ng
/x/ kh
/ɣ/ gh
/ʔ/ x
/ɨ/ y
/ø/ ö
/ə/ ë
/ɔ/ o


The syllable structure is simple (C)(L/A)V(C). There are no consonant clusters other than syllble-initial consonant-liquid/approximant clusters.



Shinsali verbs are very complex. They are aspect- and mood-heavy, but have no morphological tense. Verbs of motion, as with many languages, are more complex than other verbs. In Shinsali, verbs of motion indicate deictic information as well as indicating the shape of the object in motion. Verbs are almost exlusively prefixing but verbs of motion take on suffixes to indicate other infomation, such as deictal suffixes and a suffix indicating the shape of the object in motion. The deictal prefixes are used to denote the relation of the speaker and the subject.

miscellaneous prefixes subject direct object object aspect mood deictal prefixes stem deictal suffixes shape suffix

Miscellaneous prefixes[]

Verbs can take on miscellaneous prefixes, demonstrated in the table below:

Prefix Meaning
immi forms relative clauses
assh nominalizer
sanjaj forms participles
ozhi reflexive

Pronominal Prefixes[]

If there is a third-person suffix there must be a deictal prefix that indicates the relation of the speaker and a third-person object unless the object is invisible to the speaker and the adressee(s). There are standalone pronouns but they are only used with prepositions.

Nominative Dative Accusative
1SG a sy ka
2SG o ja le
3SG wo ma
1PL i ny to
2PL se zi te
3PL ö pa za

Aspect prefixes[]

Infix Meaning Closest English equivalent
Imperfective ongoing nature John builds houses.
Perfective no viewed as a simple whole John built a house.
Progressive la viewed as ongoing and evo/lving John is building a house.
Stative ju viewed as ongoing but not evolving John feels like building a house.
Momentaneous ro takes place at one point in time John builds a house at 4pm.
Inceptive sanu beginning of a new action John starts building a house.
Inochiative lhe begininng of a new state John feels like starting to build a house.
Terminative wu end of an action/state John finished building a house.
Repetitive gi the action is repeated John repetitively builds houses.
Conative ta attempted action John tried to build a house.
Defective my the action almost happened John almost built a house.
Intentional najo the action was intentional John intentionally builds a house.
Accidental a the action was an accident John accidentally built a house.
Imminent teja the action will happen for sure John certainly will build a house.

Mood prefixes[]

Moods in Shinsali are unique in that every mood has a negative form, for example, the negative indicative translates to "not" in English, the negative imperative translates to "Don't ___!", and so on. However, there is no negative dubitative mood.

Positive Negative Meaning Closest English equivalent
Indicative kai factual statements John builds houses.
Imperative nisa saca commands Build a house, John.
Conditional tto za event is dependant upon another conditional John would build a house.
Subjunctive roi wau hypothetical statements, polite requests
  • If John were only to build a house...
  • May John build a house?
Desiderative iu dy expresses desires or hopes John hopes to build a house.
Dubitative siu - expresses doubt John is thoughtful on whether to build a house.
Interrogative ja ida questions Can John build a house?

Deictal prefixes[]

Deictal prefixes indicate the relation of a third-person subject to the speaker and are only used in the precense of a third-person subject.

Prefix Meaning
zo visible to speaker (but not necessarily to adressee)
pai invisible to speaker
wakai visible to adressee only
llaf invisible to both speaker and adressee
jansa abstract noun

Verb stem[]

The verb stem in the most simple part of a Shinsali verb. Multiple verbs in a list (ex: ____ and ____ and _____) or structures like (verb) to (verb) (such as ask to leave, need to cry, etc) are stacked serially in one verbal construction. Stative verbs also act as adjectives (e.g. to be blue, to be good).

Deictal suffixes[]

Deictal suffixes are only used on verbs of motion and indicate motion. If any of these suffixes "take" an object, it goes in the prepositional case.

Suffix Meaning
kra motion towards speaker
zuo motion towards adressee
njau motion away from speaker
tjë motion away from adressee
jukosa motion around the proximal area
ranta into water
naiwa out of water
sëri encircling an object
tasu onto a vertical surface
kha off of a vertical surface
kolmë onto a horizontal surface
gau off of a horizontal surface
zasai through something
jaia across something
gënla upward or up something
kalni downward or down something
walhni from one area to another
sajkha motion undetectable to humans

Object shape suffixes[]

These are used for what is in motion. For example, in the sentence "i run" an animate classifier would be used because the object in motion is a first-person speaker. Sometimes they are used in place of an object if specifying it is unnecessary.

Suffix Description
sit human
(ë)n animate object other than humans
(ë)la inanimate object that doesnt fit any other category
altan cylindrical object
issa edible objects
aka non-edible plantlife
wos liquid (or container of)
es weapon
asok clothing or covering
akre man-made object


case definiteness-number posessive prefix stem

Nouns in Shinsali are inflected as well as verbs. Nouns decline for 5 cases, definiteness, plurality, and take on prefixes for posession.

Noun cases[]

Nominative ∅-
Accusative at-
Genitive off-
Dative is-
Prepositional ëm-

Definiteness and plurality[]

Definiteness and plurality are indicated fusionally in a single prefix. If a posessive prefix is used alongside a plural prefix, the definite prefix is used.

Indefinite singular ∅-
Definite singular tam-
Indefinite plural on-
Definite plural ëin-

Possessive Prefixes[]

1SG zam-
2SG ais-
3SG wër-
1PL jal-
2PL nnjaz-
3PL ap-


Personal pronouns[]

Shinsali has standalone pronouns, but they are rarely used outside of the genitive and prepositional cases due to pronominal indication on verbs. However, they are commonly used alongside pronominal prefixes for emphasis. The pronouns below are in the nominative case but can take on case prefixes.

1SG wova
2SG avis
3SG ëro
1PL jalo
2PL naza
3PL appen

Reflexive pronoun[]

The reflexive pronoun in Shinsali is the word "ang" which can be translated as self. It takes on the corresponding posessive prefix to indicate person, such as "zamang" which means "myself".


Adverbs, adjectives, and stative verbs are not distinct in Shinsali. However, they agree with the case of the noun they modify given that a modifier is being used as an adjective and use the same exact case prefix. Case prefixes come before a comparative or superlative prefix, given that one is present. They directly preceed the noun or verb they modify. Comparison is demonstrated on the modifier amatj (fast) below.

Positive Comparative Superlative
∅- abba- segj-
amatj abbaamatj segjamatj


Example text[]

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 1[]




















































Sha tjanaj sakkalaj ghanna ëmapuwanchaaj ëmëinapuasshomaajalh yma öllafjynaggzasaisit. Ëmasshettjaviaj ëmsaungas yma öparauav, allhas offovrot ëmssonakh yma öllafsalyinavvo.

ʃa canaj sakkalaj ɣanna əmapuwant͡ʃaaj əməinapuaʃʃɔmaajaɬ ɨma øllafjɨnaggzasaisit. əmaʃʃeccaviaj əmsauŋas ɨma øparauav, aɬɬas ɔffɔvrɔt əmssɔnax ɨma øllafsalɨinavvɔ.

all person free-and equal PREP-3PL-dignity-and PREP-DEF.PL-3PL-NOM-2SG_NOM-3SG_DAT-be_entitled with 3PL_NOM-not_visible-be_born-motion_through_something-human. PREP-NOM-think-and PREP-conscience with 3PL_NOM-3PL_DAT-endow, and GEN-brother PREP-spirit with 3PL_NOM-not_visible-be_obliged-intermarry.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 2[]

Gahaia isxsha isëinasshomaajalhaj isëingharumsakkal, immiönojansaaizhan kënas ëmahaizhan nja, immijuanlajus gjavad, batan, adkenat, asshitam, sikyvtjauakkha sënma wosalöf, jyvsiksosomta, ghajin, egjaco, asshjynaggasshomaajalhajakkha sënma untalo, öpaovmannat. Sënajzha, ëmtamnövang jau sanjajagghaso offtjanaj offtogjaz offromeha atsikyvtjau, atsikokhouolofakkha, atenwassaj atuntalo lhanjy wotejakaijansasaham, sikgharumsakkal, sanjajynavakromeha, sikasshwocëkaijansatjauakkha, offasshavartjau jyvasshashted wocëttojansame.

English translation
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
everyone DAT-all DAT-DEF.PL-right-and DAT-DEF.PL-freedom, REL-3PL_NOM-PERF-abstract_noun-declare this PREP-declaration in, REL-PROG-disregard race, color, gender, language, religion, ADJ-politics-or other opinion, nationality, social_class, property, birthright-or other status, 3PL_NOM-3PL_DAT-deserve. distinction, PREP-DEF-basis on PTCP-consider GEN-person GEN-native GEN-country ACC-ADJ-politics, ACC-ADJ-jurisdiction-or, ACC-international ACC-status also 3SG_NOM-IMM-NEG-abstract_noun-make, ADJ-freedom, PTCP-trust_country, ADJ-NMNZ-3SG_NOM-3SG_ACC-NEG_IND-abstact_noun-govern-or GEN-NMZ-self-govern state_of-NMZ-limit 3SG_NOM-3SG_ACC-COND-abstract_noun-be.
IPA Transcription
gahaia isʃa isəinaʃʃɔmaajaɬaj isəiŋharumsakkal, immiønɔjansaaizhan kənas əmahaizhan ɲa, immijuanlajus ɟavad, batan, adkenat, aʃʃitam, sikɨvcauaxxa sənma wɔsaløf, jɨvsiksɔsɔmta, ɣajin, eɟat͡sɔ, aʃʃjɨnaggaʃʃɔmaajaɬajaxxa sənma untalɔ, øpaɔvmannat. sənajzha, əmtamnøvaŋ jau saɲajaɣɣasɔ ɔffcanaj ɔfftɔɟaz ɔffrɔmeha atsikɨvcau, atsikɔxɔuɔlɔfakxa, atenwassaj atuntalɔ ɬaɲɨ wɔtejakaijansasaham, sikɣarumsakkal, saɲajɨnavakrɔmeha, sikaʃʃwɔt͡səkaijansacauaxxa, ɔffaʃʃavarcau jɨvaʃʃaʃted wɔt͡səttɔjansame.