Tsolyáni language

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Created by MAR Barker
constructed language
  • Khíshan (fictional)
    • Tsolyáni
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

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 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 latter 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[4] 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.[5]


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/ g /ɡ/
Affricates voiceless (ps /ps/) ts /ts/ tl /tɬ/ ch /tʃ/ (ks /ks/)
voiced (bz /bz/) (dz /dz/) j /dʒ/ (gz /ɡz/)
Fricatives voiceless f /f/ th /θ/ s /s/ hl /ɬ/ sh /ʃ/ ss /ʂ/ kh /x/ h /h/
voiced v /v/ dh /ð/ z /z/ zh /ʒ/ gh /ɣ/
Nasals m /m/ n /n/ ng /ŋ/
Rhotics Tap r /ɾ/
Trill rr /r/
Approximants w /w/ l /l/ y /j/
Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
High i /i/ ü /y/ or /ɯ/ u /u/
Mid e /e/ o /o/
Low a /ɑ/

There are three diphthongs used by Tsolyáni: ai /ɑi/, oi /oi/, au /ɑu/.

Related conlangs[edit]

Tsolyáni was the only Tekumeláni 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 Tekumeláni 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.


  1. ^ a b Barker, M. A. R. (Winter 1975). "Tsolyani Names Without Tears" (PDF). Strategic Review (TSR) (4): 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. 
  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. 
  4. ^ A Unicode proposal for the Engsvanyáli script was submitted in 2001, but it is likely it will suffer the same fate as the proposal for the Klingon script, coincidentally submitted the same year.
  5. ^ Barker, M. A. R. (1978). The Tsolyani Language, Part I and II (2 vols.). Imperium Publishing Company. pp. 1–130. 

External links[edit]