Constructing Iermanz

I’ve had this idea for an alternative history constructed language since high school. The premise is an alternate history in which Rome never suffers a crushing defeat in the Teutoberg Forest, and goes on to pacify most of Germania, holding it for several centuries. After the eventual fall of the Empire, a Romance-speaking successor state develops. This state is Iermänge (pronounced /jɛrˈmeŋə/), whose name is descended from the Latin GERMANIA, and whose language, Iermanz (/jɛrmˈants/), is from GERMANICE.

The alphabet of consists of the letters:

Aa Bb Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Xx Zz

All vowels may take an acute accent, and three take umlaut:

Áá Éé Íí Óó Úú
Ää Öö Üü

Vowel stress is typically on the vowel preceding a word’s final consonant, and is unmarked. If any other vowel is stressed, then it is marked as such with the acute accent. Umlaut marks stress as well as shifting the sound of the vowel:

ä /a/ > /ɛ/

ö /o/ > /e/

ü /u/ > /i/

In Middle Iermanz ö and ü were /ø/ and /y/ respectively but became unrounded to their modern values. The pronunciation of each letter is:

a /a/

ä /ɛ/

b /b/

d /d/, /ð/ between two vowels

e /e/ in open syllables, /ɛ/ in closed syllables, /ə/ word finally in polysyllabic words

f /f/

g /g/

h /x/

i /i/ in open syllables, /ɪ/ in closed syllables/after vowels, /j/ before vowels

k /k/

l /l/

m /m/

n /n/

ng /ŋ/

o /o/ in open syllables, /ɔ/ in closed syllables

ö /e/

p /p/

r /r/

s /s/

t /t/

tx /tʃ/

u /u/ in open syllables, /ʊ/ in closed syllables/after vowels, /w/ before vowels

ü /i/

v /v/

x /ʃ/

z /ts/


I iu me mi , you tau you ti , he el him lu , she ele her la

we/us ,y’all , they/them li

Nouns come in two genders like many other Romance languages, masculine and feminine. Masculines typically end in a consonant and add -e to form the plural. Stressed a, o, and u will gain umlaut in the plural. If the singular ends in a voiceless consonant, the plural will contain a voiced version. All three of these can be seen in the word for “wolf” luf ~ lüve /luf ˈlivə/.

In contrast, feminine nouns usually end in -e in the singular and omit it in the plural, as in “list” lixte ~ lixt /ˈlɪʃtə lɪʃt/.

There are three conjugations of verbs, a situation explained by the 3rd conjugation of Latin having been absorbed largely into the 2nd. The three conjugation classes are defined by their unique endings, á í aí. For example the words for “sing”, “lose” and “define”:

txantá /tʃanˈta/

perdí /pɛrˈði/

definaí /defiˈnai/

Conjugation is recognizably Romance, for example as in the basic present tense:

txant /tʃant/ txantan /tʃanˈtan/

txant /tʃant/ txantäi /tʃanˈtɛi/

txante /ˈtʃantə/ txánten /ˈtʃantən/

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