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LotM - Dec 14: Old Adzamian
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The solstice approaches and so does our very first polysynthetic LotM winner - Adzamasi! Chock full of interesting features, and a fun culture to boot, Adzamasi in an a priori that will leave you wanting more... pronouns.
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 2 Nov 2017, 01:30.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. Old Adzamian 2. The Adzamasiin 3. Word Order 4. Verbs and Lack of Tense 5. Pronouns 6. Phonology 7. A Note on LotM
[top]Old Adzamian

Note: This article was originally written for the modern language Adzamasi with the code ADZ. That language was renamed Old Adzamian and has been moved to the code AZM (so this article is about  Old Adzamian. There is another language on the site now, called Adzamasi, with the code ADZ, which is a daughter of the language described here.

A big congratulations to irrhythmic and their language  Old Adzamian for winning December 2014's LotM!

Adzamian is a polysythentic language whose most distinguishing feature (in my opinion) is its lack of morphological verbal tense - verbs instead are conjugated (if we can call it that) for proximity to the speaker. Adzamian also runneth over with pronouns, and is well documented in terms of the culture of its speakers.

[top]The Adzamasiin

The Adzamasiin are the speakers of the Adzamic languages, and are a somewhat nomadic desert-dwelling people in the con-continent of Mygitha. They're a matrilineal people, and unlike the grad majority of cultures that are found on earth, recognize four genders despite there being two biological sexes. The two sexes are defined as sere (those with vulvas and/or can menstruate) and abali (everyone else). From there the genders are split into ben and kath, which somewhat correlate to the conventional Western ideas of femininity and masculinity, respectively (though these don't link up perfectly with Western customs).

The combinations of the two distinctions creates four genders:
  • sena - having a vulva and being feminine (Western idea of a cis woman/girl)
  • benthi - having a penis and being feminine (Western idea of trans women and feminine men)
  • sesthe - having a vulva and being masculine (Western trans men and "butch" women)
  • bakrar - having a penis and being masculine (Western cis men)

Things get more complicated than this breakdown, and I encourage you to read the entire article regarding the Adzmasiin people as it's rather intriguing. There's plenty I haven't touched on, but it is language of the month, so let's get to some linguistics.

[top]Word Order

Adzamian has a very, very rigid word order. The language's animacy hierarchy runs as:
  • 1st person
  • 2nd person
  • 3rd person
  • 4th person
  • other referentials (proper names)
  • people
  • gods
  • animals
  • plants
  • ideas & fluids
  • tools
  • inanimates

Adzamian phrases do not stray from this hierarchy, meaning for a 1st person pronoun to act as the object of a verb where something else is the subject, the verb must carry a particle denoting that the verb's subject is not what you'd expect, meaning a redirector.

[top]Verbs and Lack of Tense

I'm going to keep this short because I'm still wrapping my brains around it! Adzamian verbs do not conjugate for tense, instead they can inflect for voice (active or passive), aspect, and can incorporate their objects... as well as location. Adzamian verbs conjugate for where they occur - either in front of or behind the speaker, and how close to the speaker. I advise reading some more here.


I could admit that I fully understand the pronomial system of the language, but instead I'll tell you just to read this article about all 70-something of them. Somehow without any declension or case-marking, there are a metric ton of them.


Adzamian is replete with vowels and consonants, but has some rather strict constraints on how sounds can interact. Even though there are fourteen phonemic vowels, there are only four diphthongs. Adzamian disallows hiatus, so unless it's a diphthong, vowels assimilate backwards. Voiceless stops can occur in plain and ejective varieties, while the voiced one and fricatives just occur as plain. Most notably, Adzamian seems to have lost /p/ as a phoneme, shifting it to /f/ (à la Arabic?).

[top]A Note on LotM

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Adzamian that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Hate my guts and want to tell me? Feel free to shoot me (argylegasm) a PM with your thoughts, suggestions, and hate mail. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!
Edit history
on 02/11/17 01:30+155[Deactivated User]fixed title bc it's Old Adzm now
on 13/05/17 00:08-3[Deactivated User]punctuation fix
on 06/01/17 10:43+356[Deactivated User]updated ADZ to AZM everywhere
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