Standard Keranian has a fairly simple five vowel system with no phonemic length. What is interesting is that the close vowels have the actually close realisations [i] [u] only around nasal consonants (after them for /e/, before them for /o/; their default articulation is [e] [o], which is also their written representation and gives Keranian text a distinctive flavour. There are two open vowels, /a/ and /ɑ/, with schwa completing the system. Word-finally, schwa is frequently dropped, as can be heard in the recordings as well.
The consonant system is considerably more complicated and involves phonemic palatalisation and gemination as well as voicing for most consonants. A large number of clusters are permitted even in word-initial position; especially worth mentioning are the nasal ones such as /nm/ or nasal-plosive combinations like /nd mb/, which actually have prenasalised allophones. Triple inital clusters must always end in an approximant or liquid and are common due to the genitive prefix d-, resulting in some rather acquired tastes like /dbr/ or /tkr/. Additional allophonic processes include final devoicing and affrication of velars in initial position.
Keranian is a nominative-accusative, moderately fusional language with largely suffixal marking. It makes a distinction between nouns and verb, which are inflected, while adjectives play a lesser role, are uninflected and may overlap with nouns.
Keranian nouns decline for number (singular and plural) and case, but not for gender, definiteness or animacy, the last of which was still present in the ancestor language. They are grouped into five declension classes according to the sound they end in. As with many languages, the nominative singular has no ending while all other cases are marked; the genitive is the only one that uses prefixes. Besides nominative, genitive and accusative, there is also the dative (recipients, beneficients as well as subjects of some unaccusative verbs), the instrumental (instrument or means) and the essive (states and roles, as well as similarity in colloquial usage). There are singular, plural and collective pronouns, with clusivity distinguished in the first person plural. The third person singular preserves two degrees of animacy from Old Desani.
The main inflectional categories of the verb are tense (past, present, future), number (singular/plural) and person (first, second, third, with no number distinction in the second person), but aspect is grammaticalised as well and expressed by the particle pá. Verb inflection is quite regular and straightforward, and verbs are not organised into different conjugations as it happens with nominal declension. The bare root serves as a verbal noun, present participle or adverb, while there is a dedicated form for the past participle that is used, for example, in forming the passive. Modal verbs are categorised as either inflecting, in which case the main verb appears in root form, or immutable and to be used together with a conjugated verb. There is no separate copula, only a suffix that attaches to the predicate, although with nominal and adjectival predication Keranian prefers a zero copula construction.
Keranian regularly derives verbs by using postpositions as verb prefixes, thus adding locative semantics to verbs: ren - laren - oneren - ėbaren “go - descend - leave - exit” (from ra - on - ėb “out - from - away”). Semantic shifts are of course fairly common: den - onden - ėbaden “allow - forgive - lose”. Limited direct object incorporation is also possible.
The default word order is SOV; verb-finality is adhered to quite rigidly. Consequently, postpositions are used instead of prepositions. Pronominal arguments can freely be dropped if they are recoverable from context; this goes both for subjects (which are usually marked on the verb anyway) and objects.
Relative clauses are internally headed if the head is the subject or object of the relative clause, in which case it is suffixed with the relative marker -ga. There is no other marking whatsoever:
rála-ga ece vlay-mė psan tey-mė
man-RELZRelativiser (derivation)1SFirst person singular (person) speaker, signer, etc.; I.ACCAccusative (case) TRANS direct object; patient see-3SThird person singular (person) neither speaker nor addressee hat have-3SThird person singular (person) neither speaker nor addressee
The man who sees me has a/the hat.
rála-ga-że vlay-kė psan tey-mė
man-RELZRelativiser (derivation)-ACCAccusative (case) TRANS direct object; patient see-1SFirst person singular (person) speaker, signer, etc.; I hat have-3SThird person singular (person) neither speaker nor addressee
The man whom I see has a/the hat.
If the head plays any other role in the dependent clause, the relative marker appears as a standalone pronoun that can take case suffixes. What it refers to in the superordinate clause must be inferred:
ṭáze-że vlay-kė gar rálė psane-że aże-mė
girl-ACCAccusative (case) TRANS direct object; patient see-1SFirst person singular (person) speaker, signer, etc.; IRELZRelativiser (derivation).DATDative (case) indirect object; recipient, beneficiary, location man hat-ACCAccusative (case) TRANS direct object; patient give-3SThird person singular (person) neither speaker nor addressee
I see the girl the man gives a/the hat to.
Standard Keranian is part of a larger conworld and is in contact with other languages, both from the same family and from others. Its own language family is called Desanian, and the other languages that belong to it have their own presence on CWS: Ile Language, Kasewayan and Unknown [SART]; this also holds for Nesyanian, which is not related to Standard Keranian but has influenced it to a great degree. There are three main Keranian dialects, Pevaradei, Kasewayan andthe urban variety of Zamavrevakei.
The differences and commonalities are outlined in an article of their own, but what really needs to be mentioned here is the impressive conculturing work that is behind these languages, laid out in all its glory in another article that covers such topics as religion, names, dress, kinship terms, marriage and burial rites and a lot more. It’s at least as interesting as the language itself, if not more. Check out that colourful family tree!
Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Standard Keranian that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot me (@Hastrica) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. 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!