Lwaitel out-of-universe notes


Major removed/changed things

Really old (2012) version

On 2012-10-03, I started an early version of Lwaitel. The only thing I actually did was make a writing system (and, implicitly, a phonology). When I came back to the language in 2014 to make the first version of what I have now, I pretty much completely started over. The following is the phonology (reconstructed from the writing system description); I intended for all the names in The Invention of Color to be the actual color names in this language, and designed the phonology around that.

Nasal/m//n//ŋ/ 〈ng〉
Stop/p/ /b//t/ /d//k/ /ɡ/
Affricate/dʒ/ 〈j〉
Approximant/w//l/ /lʷ/ /ɹ/(/j/?)

Approximants and /n/ can be syllabic, and all but one consonant in a cluster must be an approximant or /n/.

The writing system was a syllabary. Like the first published version of Lwaitel (and sort of like the current version), each symbol could represent either a consonant-vowel pair, or a vowel-consonant pair, or just a plain vowel, with vowel-consonant symbols being mirror images of consonant-vowel symbols. Unlike later versions, all approximants (syllabic or not) and syllabic /n/ were treated as vowels by the writing system. A CVC syllable with no approximants would have the vowel repeated twice; for instance, a syllable pronounced /kæt/ would be written with the symbol for /kæ/ followed by the symbol for /æt/.

Like the current version, it used color to distinguish sounds (the same colors), though in a more complicated manner than later versions. These are the symbols:


To get the symbol for a particular sound, find the row corresponding to the consonant, and the column corresponding to the vowel; then replace the yellowish part of the symbol with the color corresponding to the consonant, and the purple part of the symbol with the color corresponding to the vowel. For instance, for the syllable /ti/, the symbol looks like <O, which, depending on the colors, could be /pæ pɑ pe pi tæ tɑ te ti kæ kɑ ke ki sæ sɑ se si/; since /t/ is red, the < is red, and since /i/ is green, the circle is green, so it's <O.

Here are some examples (not sure if the last one was really what I intended):


Pre-version 1 (February 2014)

This version was much more similar to the current version. The phonology was the same, except that all consonants other than nasals and glides had palatalized and labialized versions; I later replaced these with consonant clusters, and reanalyzed /tʃ/ and /ʃ/ as allophones of /t/ and /s/. Also for a while there were long vowels, which could not occur in syllables with a final consonant. Also for a while /lʲ/ and /lʷ/ were allowed at the end of any syllable.

The writing system was the same as the old writing system as currently described. However, before I got rid of long vowels, it worked a bit differently: stressed syllables ending in short vowels were written with a single letter, long vowels were written with a final no-vowel sign, and unstressed /i/ and /u/ were written, in both the writing system and the romanization, as if they were diphthongs /əi/ and /əu/. Summary:

SyllableOldVersion 1Current version
/pi/ (unstressed)pA peip pi pi
/ˈpi/ (stressed, short)p pipA (originally pii)p
/ˈpiː/ (stressed, long)pA pii

The grammar, on the other hand, was very different. I hadn't done anything with verbs yet. Words in a sentence could go in any order, including splitting noun phrases apart. Each noun and adjective had a case prefix (which later turned into prepositions), followed by a person/obviation prefix (which later became separate words); adjectives had to agree with their noun in both prefixes. The case prefixes (parenthesized letters are included or not depending on whether the word starts with a vowel or consonant):

NounsAdjectivesLater became...Notes
Locative(-)p(e)-p(e)-peIf modifying a noun, the modified noun's case prefix comes first (suffixaufnahme)
Genetive-ant-n(e)-antThe modified noun's case prefix comes first (suffixaufnahme)
Vocativeuu-(not allowed)(none)

Person/obviation prefixes:

PrefixLater became...
1st person-ke-
2nd person-ti-chí

Note that some of these prefixes are stressed, whereas others are unstressed; it took me a while to figure out what sorts of things should be stressed and what sorts of things should be unstressed. At this point, I think these prefixes would result in words with multiple stressed syllables, rather than shifting stress away from the existing stressed syllable. Also note that unmarked obviation is medial, rather than obviate in the current version.

Relative clauses started with the particle pe, with the case prefix for the noun in the main clause, and ended with the particle ep, with the case prefix for the noun in the relative clause. This has been, of course, completely changed.


Before revision 20, a different romanization system was used:

Letter changes in revision 28

In revision 28, I changed a few letters, making them hopefully easier to write legibly, and also in my opinion more visually appealing; also mp and nk now resemble combinations of the corresponding single-sound letters:

a line goes up vertically, then angles down-to-the-right then back down-to-the left near where it started, then goes straight to the right like a less-than-sign like the original cursive, but without a vertical line: a line starts at the top, angles down to the right, then down to the left, then horizontally to the right; sort of like a Z or greater-than or equal sign same as the cursive version
ngúthe line turns to go straight down, then there's a loop, then it goes back up at an angle same as the cursive version, but without a horizontal line to connect it to the other letters sort of a C shape below the baseline, that then curves to the right; like a hook same as the cursive version
ímplike a capital M, but more curvedsimilar to the cursive version like an upside-down flat-topped three with a loopsame as the cursive version
únka line goes up at an angle, goes horizontally left while dipping down and then back up, and then down and to the right, crossing the original linesimilar to the cursive version, except instead of crossing, the lines come to a point; like a concave kite/arrowhead, but with the concave part curved like a backwards L with a loop at the cornersame as the cursive version

Cleft sentences

If the main verb is not new information, but some other part of the sentence is, the particle nes  is placed before the main verb and swán is placed before the new information (noun or prepositional phrase). The main verb becomes a participle, with the new information being treated as proximate when determining the participle's voice. (Nes is derived from án hes and acts similarly; see relative clauses. However, nes can also be used to focus prepositional phrases, and the word order with nes is freer.)

Version history

  1. #2014-03-24: first published revision (255 words)
  2. #2014-03-26: various updates, including sections on sentences and on numbers, and an actual font instead of SVG+JavaScript; +14 words (269)
  3. #2014-04-05: various, including adding a section on prepositions, and figuring out how questions work; +62 words (331)
  4. #2014-04-19: including more about directions, a phrase book, examples "noun phrases" and "You hit me!", participles, and more consistant indefinite marking; +92 words (423)
  5. #2014-05-04: some clarifications (I don't think there are any changes to the actual language this time); +1 word (424)
  6. #2014-07-22: +4 words (428)
  7. #2014-08-30: +5 words (433)
  8. #2014-11-11: +9 words (442)
  9. #2014-11-15: +23 words (465)
  10. # 2014-11-30: +26 words (491), added basic verbs pau and mi·hyam and made tyus causative
  11. # 2014-12-24: +9 words (510)
  12. # 2015-01-06: +3 words (513)
  13. #2015-01-22: +5 words (517)
  14. #2015-01-23: +3 words (520), section on word order and preposition stuff
  15. #2015-03-13: ±0 words (520)
  16. #2015-03-16: +39 words (559), a lot time related
  17. #2015-03-30: +53 words (612), changed some verb forms, changed some things about prepositions/locations, and added the donkey beater story
  18. #2015-04-05: +24 words (636), finished "Invention of Color", added a bunch of adadjectives, change some things regarding noun modifiers
  19. #2015-07-08: +11 words (647); mostly minor changes
  20. #2015-07-15: +1 word (648); changed the writing system (to make it less phonemic/phonetic) and romanization (to make it more phonetic rather than phonemic); first version on chridd.nfshost.com, archived
  21. #2015-08-26: -1 word (647); added basic verbs na "start, become" and las "stop"
  22. #2015-10-25: +27 words (674); started example "North Wind and the Sun"
  23. #2015-12-20: +21 words (695); finished example "North Wind and the Sun"
  24. #2016-06-13: +10 words (705), added CALS translation examples
  25. #2016-06-20: +19 words (724), added sign language
  26. #2016-07-21: +34 words (758), translated Tower of Babel story, added audio samples to the phrasebook; archived [more-direct link]
  27. #2016-10-29: +14 words (772), more audio, more phrasebook phrases, information about really old versions
  28. #2016-12-07: 5 new words (+25 items in lexicon, 797), changed the writing a bit
  29. #2017-05-01: +13 words (810), miscellaneous changes
    • new words: ááá "AAAAAA!!!" "like", ie "ew", íngel likely, lam/kí haupe "look for/find", (maus) lúkek "lie", nauyes "dew", ne-, newímpu "frost", puil "maybe", ya "ow!"
    • changed lutain "snow" to specifically refer to snow in the air, with a new word wímpu for snow on the ground; changed hekenánt "shadow", hekempík "night", pínekent "tree shadow" → háneng, hámpek, hápen (hekenánt is three syllables, and pínekent sounds too much like...other words); add sense "statement" to súngep
    • removed (contraction of he í),  (contraction of u í), and lwehai  (contraction of lwe há í); the first two are still contracted in speech, it's just that the contractions aren't their own words; also made lwe há two words instead of one
    • changed how to make an observer of the subject of a sentence: previously (swá) húlu (a word specifically for this purpose) was used; now "get" or lwe is used instead
    • removed cleft sentences
    • changed participles to be written as separate words rather than prefixes
    • changed "Welcome to Conlangery" from Lí niuspe súshli p'an Conlangery (a more literal translation) to Lí niuspe lun an Conlangery
    • add an option to the lexicon to search by category

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