Yonic languages

Spoken in

Yon Islands

Number of speakers



Extinct; spoken prior to -500 EA

Saalani was a prehistoric language spoken prior to -500 EA by the Sutakai people on and near the Yon Islands. In Saalani, the name of the language means "the Old Tongue". By about -500 EA, it had diversified into several dialects, which developed into the various languages of the Yon region.



Front Central Back
Close i u
Open a


Labial Alveolar Velar
Plain Affricate
Nasals m n ŋ
Plosives p t ts k
Fricatives s x
Lateral l
Trill r


Saalani's orthography is very straightforward. The affricate /ts/ is represented by <c>, and doubled vowels are pronounced twice as long.


Saalani was a mora-timed language. Saalani had a very simple syllable structure without consonant clusters, (C)V(V). Many roots conform to the pattern CVCV, while many function particles conform to the pattern CV or VCV.


Saalani is an isolating, nominative-accusative, strictly right-branching language. Adjectives follow nouns, direct objects follow verbs, and adpositions are prepositional. Sentences normally conform to a verb-subject-object word order.


Saalani nouns take no inflection or marking for number, gender, or noun class. The exception is pronouns.


The personal pronouns of Saalani are marked for number in a singular-dual-paucal-plural system. In all known daughter languages, these particles expanded and evolved into a system of grammatical number, although different daughter languages differently adapted the paucal or plural particles to create singulative-collective-plural, singular-dual-plural, or singular-plural number systems.

1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person
Singular tailu maulu kiulu
Dual taiti mauti kiuti
Paucal taisi mausi kiusi
Plural tainu maunu kiunu

Effectively, tailu means "I, me"; taiti means "we two"; taisi means "a few of us"; and tainu means "we many".

Subsequent DevelopmentEdit

By circa -500 EA, Saalani had begun to diverge along two main isoglosses: Continental-Insular and North-South. The Continental dialects underwent significant debuccalization of intervocalic stops in many roots: Saalani tita "wife" became ti'a in many Continental dialects. Insular dialects instead lenited intervocalic /t/ to /θ/, developed a phonemic voiced-unvoiced contrast in stop consonants, and palatalized many initial velar stops. Subsequently, Southern dialects underwent a strong process of monosyllablization and a shift to a five-vowel system. In Insular dialects this usually occurred through the dropping of a final vowel in concert with the phonemic distinguishing of voiced and unvoiced stops. In Continental dialects, however, this often occurred through the devoicing of the initial vowel of a root, leading to consonant clusters and the development of ejective stops.

Around -200 EA, the domestication of antelope and gardening led to a significant population expansion in the Yon Islands. Population expansion, especially at the settlement of Xunamaru ("Owl Harbor"), led to increasing urbanization, ceremonial development, and the establishment of a kingship. Over the next century, the chiefs of Xunamaru subjugated many settlements in the Yon region, and invaders and colonists from South Yon established the Xunamaru dialect as the dominant language of the region. The establishment of the kingship and the increased prestige of Xunamaru dialect is leading to significant dialect leveling through the region.

The Tulukēman language developed from the Tulukeilani dialect by circa -200 EA from a relatively conservative North Continental dialect in the forests to the north of the Yon region.

The Pasman language developed by circa -200 EA from the South Continental dialect of the settlement of Paimaru ("New Harbor"), among the farmers to the south of the Yon region.

The Xunamaru dialect became a South Insular dialect and the literary and prestige dialect of the Yon region, the exemplar of the standard language circa 0 EA. Initial velar nasals became palatalized, intervocalic /t/ lenited to /θ/, many dipthongs collapsed into /e/ and /o/, root-final /u/ and /i/ were often dropped and distinguished by voicing of stops.

The dialect of Mikasia ("Crab Island") became a North Continental dialect that has taken many sound changes that occurred in Insular dialects. Locally, it preserves high prestige due the conservative local oral tradition. Like most Continental dialects, many intervocalic stops became debuccalized, and like Insular dialects, initial velar nasals became palatalized and /x/ became debuccalized.