Tundrian is the official language of Tundria, an island country off the western coast of France in Western Europe. It is also the mother tongue of about two-thirds of the country's population.
Tundrian is a Romance language, derivable like the others from Latin, which was introduced into the island by its Roman conquerors some two thousand years ago. Tundrian shares certain features with its closest Romance neighbours, French and Spanish, and some others with more distant relatives, particularly Italian. Yet it is a language with some unique (or almost unique) characteristics, not present in any other Romance language. Here are the most important of these:
Tundrian is the only descendant of Latin that preserved the distinction between original short and long vowels until quite late in its history (9th-10th century AD). Although this distinction has by now disappeared in pronunciation, Tundrian spelling has retained it to this day, as can be seen from the following examples of stressed vowels:
- Latin ĕ > Tundrian e [ɛ] ~ [e]. Examples: perdo ['pɛrdu] 'I lose'; ped ['ped] 'foot'
- Latin ē > Tundrian ei [i]. Example: teila ['tila] 'cloth'
- Latin ĭ > Tundrian i [i]. Example: fid ['fid] 'faith'
- Latin ī > Tundrian iy [øĭ]. Example: viyta ['vøĭta] 'life'
- Latin ŏ > Tundrian o [ɔ] ~ [o]. Examples: porta ['pɔrta] 'door'; vole ['volə] 'he wants'
- Latin ō > Tundrian ou [u]. Example: soul ['sul] 'sun'
- Latin ŭ > Tundrian û [u]. Example: pûtz ['puts] 'well' (n.)
- Latin ū > Tundrian u [y]. Example: mur ['myr] 'wall'
It should be noted that the development of Latin /a/ was not affected by its original quantity:
- Latin ă > Tundrian a [ɑ] ~ [a]. Examples: Lat. părtem > part ['pɑrt] 'part'; Lat. mălum > mal ['mal] 'bad'
- Latin ā > Tundrian a [ɑ] ~ [a]. Examples: Lat. pāscō > pasco ['pɑsku] 'I feed (animals)'; Lat. portāre > portar [pɔr'tar] 'to carry'
In a related development, word-final Latin -ō has been retained as -o [-u], while word-final -ŭ (originally -ŭs, -ŭm) is normally lost: cantō > canto ['kɑntu] 'I sing' but lupus/lupum > lûp ['lup] 'wolf'.
Unlike other western Romance languages, Tundrian has not voiced its intervocalic voiceless stops, as can be seen from the following examples (VL = Vulgar Latin): sapēre > sapeir 'to know'; VL fāta > fata 'fairy'; VL pacāre > pacar 'to pay'; facimus > VL facēmus > faceim 'we make, do'. It should be noted, however, that intervocalic -s- was voiced to [-z-], although spelling still retains the -s- in most cases: rosa ['roza] 'rose'; casa ['kaza] 'house'. Voicing of voiceless stops did take place before l and r, with later spirantization or vocalization: pop(u)lus > povlo 'people'; capra > cavra 'goat'; patrem > paire 'father'.
Tundrian had a palatalization sequence unknown in other western Romance languages, although something similar has occurred in Romanian. Essentially, dental consonants were palatalized before Latin stressed ĕ and ĭ (and, sporadically, also before stressed ŏ and ŭ). In the case of dental stops, there was a further development to affricates. Examples:
- Latin tĕrra > tzerra [''tsɛra] 'earth'
- Latin dĕcem > dzeç [''dzetʃ] 'ten'
- Latin nĭvem > nhive [''ɲivə] 'snow'
- Latin sĭtis > xit ['ʃit] 'thirst'
- Latin lĕvō > lhevo ['ʎevu] 'I lift'
- Latin sŭrdus > xûrd ['ʃurd] 'deaf'
Tundrian has kept two of the cases of Latin alive: the nominative and the accusative (the latter also serving as the complement of prepositions). Thus the language can still make a distinction such as the following:
- Li caini han mordut los homnes 'the dogs have bitten the men'
Li homni han mordut
los cans 'the men have bitten the dogs'
In personal pronouns, Tundrian has maintained the accusative-dative distinction for all persons and numbers (this is shared with Romanian). Thus we have:
- Voy prêsentar-te a mîs amiycs 'I am going to introduce you to my friends'
- Voy prêsentar-ti un de mîs amiycs 'I am going to introduce to you one of my friends'
The verbal system of Tundrian is similar to that of other western Romance languages. Some notes:
- The double use of auxiliaries in the perfect tenses has survived (esseir with verbs of movement, haveir with others), as in French and Italian: soy eulat(a) 'I have gone'; hoy comprat 'I have bought'.
- The preterite (simple past) is still heavily used, as in the Iberian languages: cantái 'I sang' as against hoy cantat 'I have sung'.
- The synthetic pluperfect has survived, as in Portuguese: devura 'I/he/she had had to'. This tense is also used as the "unreal" condition in past conditional constructions: Xi jo havura dinêr, havrîa comprat esta grand casa 'Had I had money, I would have bought that big house'.
- Tundrian has merged the Latin 2nd (monēre)
and 3rd (legĕre) conjugations by extending the stressed -eir ending to
the infinitive of all of them: habēre
> haveir; perdere > perdeir.
An interesting peculiarity of Tundrian is the existence of two negative
particles ("not"): non
is used when there is no other negative particle present, while ne
is used when there is. Ne is also the negative
particle used with the imperative and in subordinate phrases with a verb in the
subjunctive. Examples: Non cognousco una soula persouna en celâ
'I do not know a single person in this city'; ne
cognousco neim ací 'I do not know anyone here'; ne mi ho diyce!
'don't tell me that!'; lhis han ordonat que ne venhan
ordered them not to come'.
Copyright Gabor Sandi 1998-2019
Disclaimer: Everything on this site was written and/or prepared at the author's discretion. The author has tried to be accurate where facts are presented, but this does not mean that these facts are necessarily accurate. People needing more reliable information should refer to appropriate sources presented, on the Internet or elsewhere, by authoritative professional or academic bodies.
To get in touch with the webmaster, send an e-mail to g_sandi at hotmail.com.
Flags on this site are from the FOTW Flags Of The World website.