A Rough Overview:

Modern? Sevensi Serialization

Over the past week I've been pondering the probable path of evolution for Sevensi from the Classical dialect to a more Modern form. (Sevensi is a fictional language and culture developed under stewardship of the LANGDEV Project and the KIBI Jexr.) One of my goals with all of the RDF technology work that I've been doing recently is to build a better set of tools for organizing/chronicling/presenting LANGDEV work and the evolution and development of languages over time, which is a huge and complicated task not exactly well‐served by current technologies. In the coming months, I hope to formalize vocabularies for dealing with native Sevensi grammatical concepts and structures, and start work on—at the very least—command‐line tools for building and processing RDF graphs of words, dialects, and lexicons over time. This will supercede the current plain‐text LREC Index Records and HTML files currently being used to build the LANGDEV dictionaries, and hopefully create a more nuanced and detailed perspective on the language as a whole.

(Naturally, any tools I create in this effort will be open‐source, likely made available through the LANGDEV Project GitHub page.)

The prerequisites for this, however, are quite large, depending on me finishing my XSD and RDF libraries and then building extensive tooling on top. So I wanted to make a (quick, not comprehensive) post about the shape of Modern Sevensi as it is currently taking form, as a way of previewing some of the work that is to come. In particular, I wanted to talk a bit about its primary serializations: for now, into the spoken word (phonology) and into text (orthography). Although a native orthography for Modern Sevensi is planned, it will likely be technologically cumbersome to implement, so for now I will focus on the Latin (romanized) representation.

An Overview of Classical Sevensi Serializations

Before getting into Modern Sevensi serialization forms, it will be benificial to have an overview of the Classical forms which preceded them. Classical Sevensi has six main consonant series; these are: G‐series, Ƣ‐series, D‐series, Ʒ‐series, B‐series, and V‐series. Each series has base, devoiced, and alternate classes, and one series has a consonant which is both alternate and devoiced. The following table summarizes each series:

Base Devoiced Alternate Alternate+Devoiced
G /g/ G K /k/ K Q /ŋ/ Q
Ƣ /ɰ/ 9 X /x/ X Y /j/ Y
D /d/ D T /t/ T N /n/ N
Ʒ /ʑ/ Z Ʃ /ɕ/ S J /d͡ʑ/ J Ç /t͡ɕ/ C
B /b/ B P /p/ P M /m/ M
V /v/ V F /f/ F W /w/ W

There are also an additional four consonants which do not fit into any series, given below:

Ɂ /ʔ/ 7 H /h/ H L /l/ L and R /ɾ/ R ƛ /tˡl̩/ TL

Note that L and R are not considered phonemically distinct.

Finally, Classical Sevensi has three vowel classes: positive (A‐series), neutral, and negative (E‐series), which may have unrounded, rounded, iotized (which, in this sense, indicates a diphthong with /ɪ/), and rounded‐iotized forms. These are summarized in the table below:

Unrounded Rounded Iotized Rounded+Iotized
A /ɑ/ A Å /ɒ/ AO AI /ʌɪ/ AI ÅI /ɔɪ/ AOI
Æ /ə/ AE U /u/ U I /i/ I
E /e/ E O /o/ O EI /eɪ/ EI OI /ɵɪ/ OI

Classical Sevensi words are broken into syllables, which are further broken into moræ. With the exception of syllabic L (which is a special case), these moræ come in the following varieties:

Kind of Mora Form Description
Initial C(W)V(i) A consonant (C), followed by an optional semivowel (W) followed by a vowel (V(i)). The possible semivowels are L, W, and Y.
Extension (optional) ː(N) Lengthens the preceding vowel, and optionally adds a nasal. The possible nasals are M, N, and Q. Note that vowel lengthening is not phonemic in Classical Sevensi.
Final (optional) T Adds a terminal consonant to form a closed (as opposed to open) syllable. The possible terminal consonants are D, G, K, L, Ƣ, Ʃ, T, X, and Ʒ. When the following syllable is a syllabic L, this syllable must have a terminal of T. This combination is written using the letter ƛ.

Changes to Modern Sevensi

In the transition to Modern Sevensi, a number of changes have taken place:

Consonant merges and shifts

T merges with ʔ. D and R merge to Ʀ, which is realized as /d/ after consonants, and /ɾ/ otherwise. H shifts to Ƕ /ʍ/ but does not gain semivowel status. ƕw is still pronounced as /hw/, reduced in some dialects to /w/.

Vowel merges and shifts

Å and O merge to Ɔ /ɔ/ (although diphthongs remain phonologically distinct until later). A reduces to Æ in some circumstances. E is lowered to /ɛ/.

Nasal merges

M, N, and Q in extension moræ all merge to nasalize the previous vowel. In the romanization, this is written by placing a tilde over the vowel. In initial moræ, N merges with Q, and M merges with W.

(Vowel nasalization has been a feature of the language from it's earliest proto‐forms, and I've never been 100% sure on how to handle it. The non‐initial nasal distinctions in Classical Sevensi are probably an anglicization on my part, and I may strike them out of the language entirely.)

Syllabification of L

L becomes a fully‐fledged vowel, written Ꞁ to clarify its non‐consonantal status. ƛ ceases to be a special‐case, becoming the syllable ɂꞁ.

Nasals and semivowels are valid in Ꞁ‐syllables; however, their pronunciation varies somewhat. Cwꞁ creates a dark L (/ɫ̩/); the Ꞁ in Cꞁ̃ is typically pronounced /n̩/.

Elimination of diphthongs

Cai and Cei become Cya and Cye. Cåi and Coi become Cɔwi and Cwi. Finally, CWVi becomes CWVɂi.

Weakening of vowel harmony

Vowel harmony (strongly enforced in the Classical language) weakens generally, but nevertheless persists in verbal conjugation classes.

Orthography changes

In accordance with the design principles (see below), the Latin orthography has shifted somewhat: The letters Ʌ, Ɛ, Ɩ, Ŋ, Ʊ, Ỽ, Kʼ, Ⱶ, Ꜭ replace A, E, I, Q, U, W, X, Æ, Ç.

Attempting to fit these changes into the tables above demonstrates the evolution of the language:

Base Devoiced Alternate Alternate+Devoiced
G /g/ G K /k/ K Ŋ /ŋ/ Q
Ƣ /ɰ/ 9 Kʼ /x/ X Y /j/ Y Ɂ /ʔ/ 7
Ʀ /d/ or /ɾ/ 8
Ʒ /ʑ/ 3 Ʃ /ɕ/ 5 J /d͡ʑ/ J Ꜭ /t͡ɕ/ 4
B /b/ B P /p/ P
V /v/ V F /f/ F Ỽ /w/ 6 Ƕ /ʍ/ 2
Ɩ /i/ I Ɛ /ɛ/ E Ⱶ /ə/ _ Ɔ /ɔ/ O Ꞁ /l̩/ 1 Ʌ /ɑ/ A Ʊ /u/ U

Note that in the above charts, Kʼ is the capital form of the letter kra (lowercase: ĸ), not a simple K followed by an apostrophe (although the encoding of these is the same).

Design Principles of Modern Sevensi Romanization

Because native‐script encoding and support for Modern Sevensi is not likely to manifest for some time, it is important that the Latin Sevensi script be suitable for use not merely as a transcription tool, but as a native, everyday writing system for the language. Also important is giving Sevensi its own native feel and distinctive appearance, such that Sevensi text can be easily identified at‐a‐glance from the characters used. (This goal is more political than practical.)

These factors are considered to take priority over such things as input method or font and computer‐system support—after all, new input methods can always be designed, but changing the orthography of a language is a difficult and incredibly time‐consuming process for all speakers, learners, and technologists. In order to create an intuitive and easily‐recognizable Latin orthography, rather than looking to outdated concepts such as ASCII or Basic Latin, the following design guidelines were followed:

Anglicization of Sevensi

The Sevensi romanization depicted above is designed for native transcription, not cross‐linguistic incorporation. When adopting Sevensi words into English text, a number of substitutions may be performed to make the resulting transcription more familiar to native English speakers:

G ⇒ G K ⇒ K Ŋ ⇒ NG
Ƣ ⇒ XR Kʼ ⇒ KH Y ⇒ Y Ɂ ⇒ ʼ
Ʀ ⇒ D
Ʒ ⇒ ZH Ʃ ⇒ SH J ⇒ J Ꜭ ⇒ CH
B ⇒ B P ⇒ P
V ⇒ V F ⇒ F Ỽ ⇒ W Ƕ ⇒ WH
Ɩ ⇒ I Ɛ ⇒ E Ⱶ ⇒ [∅] Ɔ ⇒ O Ꞁ ⇒ L Ʌ ⇒ A Ʊ ⇒ U

Different substitution tables may be used for different languages.

Input Methods

Below are two prospective keyboard layouts for inputting the Latin Sevensi orthography. The first is designed around Sevensi phonology and should be useful for writing long passages of Sevensi text. The second is designed around a QWERTY layout, adding Sevensi characters as option/alt modifiers.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ± +
y ƣ g ʒ j v b ŋ ʀ ( ) /
ɂ ĸ k ʃ f ƕ p ˜
ɩ ɛ ɔ ʌ ʊ . ,
¬ ƛ @ § $ ° ÷ = ×
Y Ƣ G Ʒ J V B Ŋ Ʀ [ ] \
Ɂ K Ʃ F Ƕ P ´
Ɩ Ɛ Ɔ Ʌ Ʊ · : ;
© ! ? # * ~ - ^ &
ɣ q ə z d å w m n r < > %
t x ħ s c ƒ h ˜
i e æ o l a u '
🄯 ¡ ¿
Ɣ Q Ə Z D Å W M N R { } ¥
T X Ħ S C Ƒ H ´ « »
I E Æ O L A U " |
Prospective Modern Sevensi Keyboard Layout
` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - =
q w e r t y u i o p [ ] ?
a s d f g h j k l ; '
z x c v b n m , . /
~ | @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +
Q W E R T Y U I O P { } !
A S D F G H J K L : "
Z X C V B N M < > \
ƕ ʒ ʃ ɂ ʀ ƣ
ŋ ɛ þ ¯ ʊ ɩ ɔ ¿
ʌ ´ ð æ ə ħ ^ ƛ ¨
° ĸ ç å ˜ ÷
Ƕ Ʒ Ʃ Ɂ Ʀ Ƣ ± ×
Ŋ Ɛ Þ ¯ Ʊ Ɩ Ɔ § ¡
Ʌ ´ Ð Æ Ə H ^ ʼ ¬ ¨
· Ç Å ˜ « » ¥
Prospective Bilingual Modern Sevensi Keyboard Layout