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Maerik Brainstorming

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Saturday, July 31, 2004, 10:16

Comments and criticism invited.

Mærik was a language isolate spoken in medieval Sweden.  It is preseved
in a wordlist with Latin glosses and some short fairy tales preserved in
a single manuscript.  The spelling relies quite heavily on that of Old

Name of the language: _mærik_ or _mæriik_ is actually the genitive of
the first person plural exlusive pronoun.  Speakers of North Germanic
mistook the phrase _mærik skaw_ as parallelling their own _dönsk tunga_.
  Probably they didn't grasp that there were *two* first person plural
pronouns in _Mærik Skaw_.


Very much like Old Swedish, due to Sprachbund relationship.


         i       y       u/v     w

         e                       o

         æ                       a

The status of _u_ and _w_ relative each other is not clarified. Possibly
there is a single /u/ which is spelled _w_ when long.  Against this
speaks the nonce occurrence of a _ww_ spelling in _nwwtlo_ 'ludere'.

Quantity: the status of geminate vowel spellings is dubitable.


         p       t       (ki)    k       (qw)

         b       d       (gi)    g       (gw)

         m       n       (ni)    (ng)

         f       th      (hi)    h

         v/u/ffu dh      i       gh      w




It is not clear whether all these spellings represent distinct phonemes
or whether they do so in all positions. It seems like /T/ and /w/ were
distinct from /D/ and /v|f/ unlike in Old Swedish.

The status of /T/ as a variant spelling of /D/ or as a spelling for /Dt/
[T] or for a phoneme /T/ or even for /tt/ remains to be determined.

The status of /w/ vs /v/ is also to be determined.  The many cases of
_w_ between vowels as opposed to _ffu_ between vowels (e.g. _priffua_
'consolare') suggest that /w/ was indeed a separate phoneme and more
widespread than the [w] of Old Swedish.

The status of palatal(ized) and labiovelar sounds as phonemes or
clusters also remains to be determined.  Contemporary Old Swedish was in
the process of developing palatal phonemes through palatalization of
clusters ending in /j/ and of velars before front vowels.  At the same
time inherited /kw/ and /gw/ were probably not monophonemic any more in
Old Swedish, while [w] had become an allophone of /v/.  As /w/ was
probably still a phoneme in Mærik it may be that _qw_ and _gw_ in spite
of their low frequency should be analyzed similarly.

In contemporary Old Swedish /sj/ and /sk/ before /j/ and front vowels
were probably in the process of developing into /S/.  If the same was
true of Mærik cannot be determined. The nonce appearance of _sch_ in
_schee_ 'adferre' is not decisive.

There is i-umlaut caused by a following theme vowel -i- which may be
lost or preserved as -e-, sometimes also spelled -i-.



Case endings are as follows:

Nominative:     -0 (zero) Accusative:   -dh Dative:             -s
Genitive:    -k Instrumental*:       -gh

*) This case is called 'ablativus' in the MS, but its use is clearly

Between these endings and the stem a theme vowel -e- or -o-, most often
appears.  Variant spellings are -i- and -u/w- respectively.

The plural morpheme is -n.  It appears written most often as -in and -un
respectively, more rarely -en or -on/-wn.  To these plural terminations
the same case endings as in the singular are added directly (-nd,
-ns/-nz, -nk, -ng).

Adjectives mostly have a stem ending in the morpheme -t. This was
probably originally a denominal and deverbal adjective formant which
relatively lately spread to other adjectives.  Adjectives derived from
nouns most often do not show the theme-vowel before -t, while adjectives
in -at/-it/-ot/-ut derived from verbs function as past/passive
participles.  There are also present/active participles in -st.  Oddly
the ordinal numerals also show -st.

Do adjectives inflect for case?


Most derived adverbs and some primary end in -m (with theme vowel).


There are distinct inclusive and exclusive forms in first person plural.

Is there also a dual?


The present ends in -e/-o/-a derived from earlier long theme vowels *-ê,
*-ô *-â.

The infinitive/gerund in -ff can function as an inflected noun.

The past tense formant is -ma/-mo.

The subjunctive formant is -sa/-so.

Person cross referencing on verbs?


/BP 8^) -- B.Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se

         Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant! (Tacitus)


/BP 8^)
B.Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se

         Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant!