Tsolyáni language

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Created byM. A. R. Barker
Constructed language
  • Khíshan (fictional)
    • Tsolyáni
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Tsolyáni is one of several languages invented by M. A. R. Barker, developed in the mid-to-late 1940s[1][2][3] in parallel with his legendarium leading to the world of Tékumel as described in the Empire of the Petal Throne roleplaying game, published by TSR in 1975. It is detailed in The Tsolyáni Language, Part I and II.[4]

It was the first constructed language ever published as part of a role-playing game[citation needed] and draws its inspiration from Urdu, Pashto, Mayan and Nahuatl. The last influence can be seen in the inclusion of the sounds hl [ɬ] and tl [tɬ]. One exact borrowing from a real-world source is the Tsolyáni noun root sákbe, referring to the fortified highways of the Five Empires; it is the same word as the Yucatec Maya sacbe, referring to the raised paved roads constructed by the pre-Columbian Maya. Another close borrowing is from the Nahuatl word tlatoani, referring to a leader of an Aztec state (e.g. Montezuma); it is similar to the clan-name of the Tsolyáni emperors, Tlakotáni.


Tsolyáni is written in an offshoot of the Engsvanyáli script which was developed by Barker in parallel with the language, being very close to its modern-day form by 1950.[1][3] It is read from right-to-left and is constructed like the Arabic script. The consonants each have 4 different forms: isolate, initial, medial, and final; the 6 vowels and 3 diphthongs each only have an independent initial form, while diacritical marks are used for medial and final vowels.[4]

Each letter in the Tsolyáni Engsvanyáli script now has a name—each consonant is surrounded by a coordinating vowel: labials in u-u, dentals in a-a, apicals in i-i, laminals in e-e, velars in o-o-, and the remaining (uvulars, glottals, ... etc.) in ü-ü:

In IPA Letter Name Final Medial Initial Isolate IPA Translit In IPA Letter Name Final Medial Initial Isolate IPA Translit
/o·ko/ oko /k/ k /u·pu/ upu /p/ p
/o·ɡo/ ogo /ɡ/ g /u·bu/ ubu /b/ b
/o·xo/ okho /x/ kh /u·mu/ umu /m/ m
/o·ɣo/ ogho /ɣ/ gh /u·fu/ ufu /f/ f
/y·qy/ üqü /q/ q /u·vu/ uvu /v/ v
/y·hy/ ühü /h/ h /u·wu/ uwu /w/ w
/o·ŋo/ ongo /ŋ/ ng /a·t̪a/ ata /t̪/ t
/y·ʔy·hy/ üꞌühü /ʔ/ /a·d̪a/ ada /d̪/ d
/i·tsi/ itsi /ts/ ts /a·n̪a/ ana /n̪/ n
/i·ɬi/ itli /ɬ/ tl /a·θa/ atha /θ/ th
/i·si/ isi /s/ s /a·ða/ adha /ð/ dh
/i·ʃi/ ishi /ʃ/ sh /e·tʃe/ eche /tʃ/ ch
/i·zi/ izi /z/ z /e·dʒe/ eje /dʒ/ j
/i·ʒi/ izhi /ʒ/ zh /eʰ·je/ ehye /j/ y
/e·ʂe/ esse /ʂ/ ss /a·l̪a/ ala /l̪/ l
/a·r̪a/ ara /r̪/ r /i·ƚi/ ihli /ƚ/ hl
/y·ɭy/ üllü /ɭ/ ll

The vowels have their names echoing in n-n, while ü (/y/ or /ɯ/) and the diphthongs echo in m-ꞌ. These have only an isolate/initial independent letter, and are denoted by marks when falling medially or finally within a word or name:

In IPA Vowel Name Vowel Sign Vowel Letter IPA Translit In IPA Vowel Name Vowel Sign Vowel Letter IPA Translit
/nu·nu/ nunu /u/ u /ni·ni/ nini /i/ i
/my·my/ mümü /y/~/ɯ/ ü /na·naʰ/ nanah /a/ a
/ne·neʰ/ neneh /e/ e /no·noʰ/ nonoh /o/ o
/moɪ·ʔoɪ/ moiꞌoi /oɪ/ oi /maʊ·ʔaʊ/ mauꞌau /aʊ/ au
/maɪ·ʔaɪ/ maiꞌai /aɪ/ ai

Here are the numeral symbols the Tsolyáni use:

In IPA Name Numeral Numerical Value In IPA Name Numeral Numerical Value In IPA Name Numeral Numerical Value
/ˈɬe/ tlé 10 /ˈɬo/ tló 5 0
/m̹ˈriˌkta/ mríkta 100 /ˈɡa·ˌbi/ gábi 6 /ˈpru/ prú 1
/ˌtaʊ·ˈknel/ tauknél 1,000 /h̹ˈru/ hrú 7 /ˈɡa/ 2
/ˈɬe·ˌtaʊ·ˈknel/ tlétauknél 10,000 /ˈɡa·ˌmi/ gámi 8 /ˈbi/ 3
/m̹ˈri·ˌkta·ˌtaʊ·ˈknel/ mríktatauknél 100,000 /ˌpru·ˈɬe/ prutlé 9 /m̹ˈri/ mrí 4
/jyr·dyn/ yürdün 1,000,000

The punctuation signs used in Tsolyáni include:

! ? . , " ' ' " - ; :


Tsolyáni has an unusual sound system, with elements blended from Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, and Mayan.

Labial Dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral
Plosives voiceless p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ k ⟨k⟩ q ⟨q⟩ ʔ ⟨’⟩
voiced b ⟨b⟩ d ⟨d⟩ ɡ ⟨g⟩
Affricates voiceless (ps ⟨ps⟩) ts ⟨ts⟩ ⟨tl⟩ ⟨ch⟩ (ks ⟨ks⟩)
voiced (bz ⟨bz⟩) (dz ⟨dz⟩) ( ⟨dl⟩) ⟨j⟩ (ɡz ⟨gz⟩)
Fricatives voiceless f ⟨f⟩ θ ⟨th⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɬ ⟨hl⟩ ʃ ⟨sh⟩ ʂ ⟨ss⟩ x ⟨kh⟩ h ⟨h⟩
voiced v ⟨v⟩ ð ⟨dh⟩ z ⟨z⟩ ʒ ⟨zh⟩ ɣ ⟨gh⟩
Nasals m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Rhotics tap ɾ ⟨r⟩
trill r ⟨rr⟩
Approximants w ⟨w⟩ l ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩
Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
High i ⟨i⟩ y ~ ɯ ⟨ü⟩ u ⟨u⟩
Mid e ⟨e⟩ ø ~ ɤ ⟨ö⟩ ə ~ ɜ ⟨ë⟩ o ⟨o⟩
Low a ⟨a⟩ ɔ ~ ɒ ⟨å⟩

Diphthongs used by Tsolyáni: ai /aɪ/, oi /oɪ/, au /aʊ/; those in use in related conlangs include: ea /eɑ/, ia /ɪɑ/, eo /eɔ/.

Related conlangs[edit]

Tsolyáni was the only Tékumeláni language that had a full grammar book, dictionary, pronunciation tapes (now on CD) and a primer, all publicly released. Yet it was not the only language Barker developed for his imaginary world. He also wrote grammar guides and partial vocabularies for several other languages he developed for it: Yán Koryáni, Livyáni, Engsvanyáli and Sunúz. In the world of Tékumel, the first two are the languages of the modern nations of Yán Kór and Livyánu, respectively. Engsvanyáli is a dead language, an ancestor of Tsolyáni and many other modern Tékumeláni languages; knowledge of it is considered prestigious, and it is used in literary, liturgical, sorcerous, and scholarly contexts. Sunúz is an obscure language, used for sorcerous purposes; it contains terms to describe movement in a supposed six-dimensional multi-planar space, something of use to the fictional beings who visit the other planar realms where demons live.

Barker also wrote articles on the scripts for other languages of Tékumel.

The Yán Koryáni Block Script


/p/ /b/ /t̪/ /d̪/ /k/ /ɡ/ /ʔ/ /f/ /v/ /s/ /z/ /θ/ /ð/ /ʷ/
p b t d k g f v s z th dh -w
pu bu ta da ko go 'ishta fu vu si zi tha dha labializer
/ʃ/ /ʒ/ /ʂ/ /x/ /ɣ/ /q/ /h/ /m/ /n/ /ɲ/ /ɳ/ /ŋ/ /w/ /ʲ/
sh zh ss kh gh q h m n ñy nn ng w -y
shi zhi ehsse kho gho mu na nye nnü ngo wu palatalizer
/j/ /r̪/ /l̪/ /ɬ/ /ɭ/ /c/~/tʃ/ /ɟ/~/dʒ/ /ts/ /dz/ /tɬ/ /dɮ/ /ˀ/
y r l hl ll ch j ts dz tl dl -
ye ra la hli llü che je tsi dzi tli dli glottalizer
The labialization sign may be used with most of the consonants (outside of: , ss, ñy, w, and y).
/pʷ/ /bʷ/ /t̪ʷ/ /d̪ʷ/ /kʷ/ /ɡʷ/ /qʷ/ /hʷ/
pw bw tw dw kw gw qw hw
The palatalization sign may also be used with most consonants (outside of: , ss, ñy, w, and y).
/pʲ/ /bʲ/ /t̪ʲ/ /d̪ʲ/ /kʲ/ /ɡʲ/ /l̪ʲ/ /r̪ʲ/
py by ty dy ky gy ly ry
The glottalization sign is usually employed on the tenue and affricate letters; it is occasionally seen elsewhere.
/pˀ/ /bˀ/ /t̪ˀ/ /d̪ˀ/ /kˀ/ /ɡˀ/ /qˀ/ /cˀ/~/tʃˀ/ /tsˀ/ /tɬ/
pꞌ bꞌ tꞌ dꞌ kꞌ gꞌ qꞌ chꞌ tsꞌ tƚꞌ
The labialization with glottalization signs may both be employed on the tenue and affricate letters.
/pʷˀ/ /bʷˀ/ /t̪ʷˀ/ /d̪ʷˀ/ /kʷˀ/ /ɡʷˀ/ /qʷˀ/ /cʷˀ/~/tʃʷˀ/ /tsʷˀ/ /tɬʷˀ/
pwꞌ bwꞌ twꞌ dwꞌ kwꞌ gwꞌ qwꞌ chwꞌ tswꞌ tƚꞌ
The palatalization with glottalization signs may both also be used on the tenue and affricate letters.
/pʲˀ/ /bʲˀ/ /t̪ʲˀ/ /d̪ʲˀ/ /kʲˀ/ /ɡʲˀ/ /qʲˀ/ /cʲˀ/~/tʃʲˀ/ /tsʲˀ/ /tɬʲˀ/
pyꞌ byꞌ tyꞌ dyꞌ kyꞌ gyꞌ qyꞌ chyꞌ tsyꞌ tƚyꞌ


The vowels are named an, en, in, on, un, üm, ëm, öm, äm, and åm; the diphthongs have the names of aum, aim, eam, oim, iam, and eom.

/a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/ /y/ /ə/ /ø/ /æ/ /ɔ/
a e i o u ü ë ö ä å
/aː/ /eː/ /iː/ /oː/ /uː/ /yː/ /əː/ /øː/ /æː/ /ɔː/
ā ē ī ō ū ǖ ë̄ ȫ ǟ å̄
/ã/ /ẽ/ /ĩ/ /õ/ /ũ/ /ỹ/ /ə̃/ /ø̃/ /æ̃/ /ɔ̃/
ã ĩ õ ũ ü̃ ë̃ ö̃ ä̃ å̃
/aʊ/ /aɪ/ /ea/ /oɪ/ /ɪa/ /eo/
au ai ea oi ia eo

The Sunúz Epilapidary Script

In IPA Letter Name Letter IPA Translit In IPA Letter Name Letter IPA Translit
/ko·l̪a·r̪a/ kolara /k/ k /pu·l̪a·r̪a/ pulara /p/ p
/ɡo·l̪a·r̪a/ golara /ɡ/ g /bu·l̪a·r̪a/ bulara /b/ b
/xo·l̪a·r̪a/ kholara /x/ kh /mu·l̪a·r̪a/ mulara /m/ m
/ɣo·l̪a·r̪a/ gholara /ɣ/ gh /fu·l̪a·r̪a/ fulara /f/ f
/qy·l̪a·r̪a/ qülara /q/ q /vu·l̪a·r̪a/ vulara /v/ v
/hy·l̪a·r̪a/ hülara /h/ h /wu·l̪a·r̪a/ wulara /w/ w
/ŋo·l̪a·r̪a/ ngolara /ŋ/ ng /t̪a·l̪a·r̪a/ talara /t̪/ t
/ʔiʃ·t̪a·ne·qu/ ꞌishtanequ /ʔ/ /d̪a·l̪a·r̪a/ dalara /d̪/ d
/e·tsi·l̪a·r̪a/ etsilara /ts/ ts /n̪a·l̪a·r̪a/ nalara /n̪/ n
/e·ɬi·l̪a·r̪a/ etlilara /ɬ/ tl /θa·l̪a·r̪a/ thalara /θ/ th
/e·si·l̪a·r̪a/ esilara /s/ s /ða·l̪a·r̪a/ dhalara /ð/ dh
/e·ʃi·l̪a·r̪a/ eshilara /ʃ/ sh /e·tʃe·l̪a·r̪a/ echelara /tʃ/ ch
/e·zi·l̪a·r̪a/ ezilara /z/ z /e·dʒe·l̪a·r̪a/ ejelara /dʒ/ j
/e·ʒi·l̪a·r̪a/ ezhilara /ʒ/ zh /je·l̪a·r̪a/ yelara /j/ y
/e·ʂe·l̪a·r̪a/ esselara /ʂ/ ss /l̪a·l̪a·r̪a/ lalara /l̪/ l
/r̪a·l̪a·r̪a/ ralara /r̪/ r /e·ƚi·l̪a·r̪a/ ehlilara /ƚ/ hl
/e·ɭy·l̪a·r̪a/ ellülara /ɭ/ ll
/u·nu·xa·mu/ unukhamu /u/ u /i·ni·xa·mu/ inikhamu /i/ i
/y·my·xa·mu/ ümükhamu /y/~/ɯ/ ü /a·na·xa·mu/ anakhamu /a/ a
/e·ne·xa·mu/ enekhamu /e/ e /o·no·xa·mu/ onokhamu /o/ o
/oɪ·moɪ·xa·mu/ oimoikhamu /oɪ/ oi /aʊ·maʊ·xa·mu/ aumaukhamu /aʊ/ au
/aɪ·maɪ·xa·mu/ aimaikhamu /aɪ/ ai
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


  1. ^ a b Barker, M. A. R. (Winter 1975). "Tsolyani Names Without Tears" (PDF). Strategic Review (4). TSR: 7–9. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  2. ^ Barker, M. A. R. (1950). A Useful Grammar of Ts Solyàni (by Messìliu Badàrian). Seattle. pp. 1–13.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ a b Barker, M. A. R. (1950). A Complete and Efficacious Pamphlet on the Structure and use of the Cursive Script of the Ts Solyani (by Chanyavassa Vimululyanga). Seattle. pp. 1–11.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ a b Barker, M. A. R. (1978). The Tsolyani Language, Part I and II (2 vols.). Imperium Publishing Company. pp. 1–130.

External links[edit]