[] Jörg Rhiemeier's Conlang Pages

Modern Vandalic

An abandoned East Germanic conlang


0. Preface

This page documents an abandoned conlang project of mine: Modern Vandalic. I abandoned it because I lost interest in it, and felt that of all the Germanic conquerors' languages from the Völkerwanderung (Migration Period, 400-800 AD), Vandalic was the least likely to survive. Also, there have been other takers of this challenge. Everything below this paragraph is a write-up that reached its final stage in 2007, and has not been touched since then, apart from a little reformating.

Modern Vandalic is a project that suggested itself to me quite a long time ago: I first mentioned it on the CONLANG list in September 2000. However, for a long time, it was merely an idea in my head, with no real work done on it. Only in the summer of 2007, it began to take concrete shape. As with other diachronic conlangs of mine, I began with the sound changes.

I have to admit that I cheated a bit: I didn't start with Vandalic as it was spoken during the Vökerwanderung, but with Gothic. Unfortunately, the historical Vandalic language is almost completely unknown. However, it certainly was very similar to Gothic, which is well known, and which is where I started. Any good library should carry a grammar of Gothic; I used Gotische Grammatik, 18th Edition, by Wilhelm Braune and Ernst Ebbinghaus (1973).

1. Introduction

A few years ago, I became acquainted with Omar, a student from Tunisia. I found him a nice guy to be around with, but when I asked him for his full name, I was in for surprise, because it turned out to be Omar Muhammad Alarikssunus. It was the surname which piqued my curiosity, after all, Alarikssunus did not sound Arabic but Germanic - East Germanic, in fact. So I asked him about the origin of his surname, and Omar replied that he was from a Vandalic family. Of course, I knew who the Vandals were - an East Germanic tribe who set up a kingdom centered on what is now Tunisia during the Völkerwanderung, only to disappear from history a century later. It turned out that there were still about 500 speakers of Vandalic left in Tunisia - and Omar was one of them. So I found the occasion to do some fieldwork on a hitherto unknown language, and started to interview Omar. The result is this document.

2. Phonology

2.1. Consonants

  Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Glottal
Voiceless stops/affricates p t   k  
Voiced stops/affricates b d   g  
Voiceless fricatives f þ s š x h
Voiced fricatives v ð z ž γ  
Nasals m n   ng  
Liquids   l,r  

2.2. Vowels

  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid e   o
Low   a  

All vowels can be short or long; long vowels are marked with a circumflex in transcription (â ê î ô û).

2.3. Sound changes from Common East Germanic to Modern Vandalic

  1. ei > î
    e > î
    o > û
    iu > î
  2. > e
    > o
    ái > ê
    áu > ô
  3. s > Ø /(t,d,þ)_#
  4. ggw > gw
  5. ƕ > f (that funny character is the Gothic hv-ligature)
    q > p /_V
    q > k /_(C,#)
    gw > b /_V
    gw > g /_(C,#)
  6. j > Ø /C_(C,#)
    w > Ø /C_(C,#)
  7. h > Ø /V_(C,#) with lengthening of vowel if short
  8. kj >
    gj >
    skj > š
    k > /_front vowel
    g > /_front vowel
    sk > š /_front vowel
  9. tj >
    dj >
    ddj >
    j > ž
    w > v
  10. sp > f
    st > þ
    sk > x
  11. b > v /V_V
    d > ð /V_V
    > ž /V_V
    g > γ /V_V
  12. p > b /V_V
    t > d /V_V
    > /V_V
    k > g /V_V

3. Morphology

Modern Vandalic is a very conservative Germanic language, keeping most of the inherited inflections intact.

3.1. Nouns

Nouns distinguish three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), two numbers (singular and plural) and four cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative). They are furthermore grouped into four declension classes according to the inflectional forms used.

3.1.1. First declension

The first declension is by far the largest class of nouns in Modern Vandalic; it includes nouns of all three genders. The Vandalic first declension corresponds to the o- and â-declensions of Latin.

Case dags
'day' (masc.)
'gift' (fem.)
'word' (neut.)
Nominative dags dživa vord
Genitive dažis dživûs vordis
Dative daγa dživê vorda
Accusative dag dživa vord
Nominative daγûs dživûs vorda
Genitive dažî dživû vordî
Dative daγam dživûm vordam
Accusative daγans dživûs vorda

3.1.2. Second declension

This is a fairly small group, containing masculines and feminines, but no neuters. It corresponds to the i-declension of Latin.

Case balgs
'hose' (masc.)
'favour' (fem.)
Nominative balgs anþ
Genitive baldžis anþês
Dative balga anþê
Accusative balg anþ
Nominative baldžîs anþîs
Genitive baldžê anþê
Dative baldžim anþim
Accusative baldžins anþins

3.1.3. Third declension

The third declension is a small group; it contains masculine and feminine nouns as well as a single neuter, fehu 'money'. It corresponds to the Latin u-declension.

Case sunus
'son' (masc.)
'hand' (fem.)
'money' (neut.)
Nominative sunus handus fehu
Genitive sunôs handôs fehôs
Dative sunô handô fehô
Accusative sunu handu fehu
Nominative sunžus handžus --
Genitive sunivî handivî --
Dative sunum handum --
Accusative sununs handuns --

3.1.4. Fourth declension

This class, which corresponds to the consonantal declension of Latin, includes nouns of all genders.

Case guma
'man' (masc.)
'tongue' (fem.)
'heart' (neut.)
Nominative guma tungû hertû
Genitive gumins tungûns hertins
Dative gumin tungûn hertin
Accusative guman tungûn hertû
Nominative gumans tungûns hertûna
Genitive gumanî tungûnû hertanî
Dative gumam tungûm hertam
Accusative gumans tungûns hertûna

© 2023 Jörg Rhiemeier
Last update: 2023-07-01