Aitôxhalin Açnalüpç

Haphazard and unsystematic notes about Ithkuil

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Ithkuil for Beginners. A Hypothetical Lesson

In this post I’d like to show how you can make sentences in Ithkuil. Suppose, you want to say ‘I am sleepy because those damn cats were fighting all night and I couldn’t sleep well!’

‘Whoa!’ — you might think — ‘The guy’s nuts! He’s going to explain a complicated sentence to a noob like me!’, and then stop reading this article. Yet, I dare to correct this assumption. First of all, I personally have been seriously learning Ithkuil for only three months, and even by natural language standards, I am a noob myself. And if I can make the sentence like the one I gave, you can make it too, especially if I tell you how. But if you insist, please proceed directly to the ‘Additional Lesson’ section below.

So, let’s begin. First, we’ll have to think what is said in the sentence, peeking through the veil of English words. What the phrase actually means, is ‘I want to be asleep now due to only...

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A Short Introduction to Derivational Suffixes

One of the most powerful features of Ithkuil is derivational suffixes. A derivational suffix consists of a vowel part and a consonant part. The vowel part signifies degree and type of suffix, while the consonant part signifies the meaning of the suffix, which can be looked up in the Suffixes chapter of the Grammar. Currently, also, seven additional suffixes have been published that will be included in the forthcoming Grammar Supplement.

The degree of suffix is generally specific to its meaning, but often follows the gradation from absolute lack of certain characteristic to absolute presence of it. For example the -rň suffix meaning Degree of Importance/Impact/Signficance in different degrees takes an array of meanings from ‘utterly unimportant’ to ‘crucial’.

The most simple is Type 1 suffix. It simply modifies the meaning of the stem according to the lexical entry of the suffix. I.e...

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Plural in Ithkuil

Unlike English, Ithkuil does not have plural. Instead there is a sophisticated mechanism consisting of several grammatical categories that can be used to speak about a non-single manifestations of concepts (besides, because as I already mentioned in another post, Ithkuil does not require separate lexical classes for nouns and verbs, this can be extended to actions and events as well), often resolving the ambiguity in singular/plural usage that we often ignore to even notice.

The first of those categories is Configuration which, besides noting the number of instances of a given object also expresses whether the objects are similar or different and the degree of connection between them if applicable.

The default Configuration that roughly corresponds to singular in English, in Uniplex. Configuration is shown by an affix that in addition to it expresses 4 other grammar categories some of...

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How to think in Ithkuil

This essay won’t teach you to think in Ithkuil. I don’t even know whether it’s possible for a human brain or not. Still, in order to express ideas in Ithkuil, the first thing to do is to convert from thinking in English (or your native language) to Ithkuil. Ithkuil’s conceptual network is so unique and unrelated to conceptual networks of any natural languages, that expressing even simple words or phrases requires certain effort. Regardless whether you are translating from other language or expressing an original idea, you have to do the work of re-representing your (or the author’s) cognitive intent in Ithkuil.

Although it might sound intimidating, it brings certain benefits unlike a literal translation into Ithkuil. Most important, you have to think what you really want to say (from here on I’ll refer to the process of expressing your own thoughts in Ithkuil, so I presume you are the...

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Introduction to Ithkuil Formative and Functions

In Ithkuil there are only two lexical classes — formatives and adjuncts. Formative is the one functioning instead of a plethora of nouns, verbs, adjectives in other languages.

This is quite common in other languages as well for one verb to be able to function as both a noun, a verb and an adjective. For example, English ‘good’ can be both a noun and an adjective, and ‘stop’ is both a noun and a verb. Chinese ‘紅’ means ‘red’ as well as ‘redden’ and ‘redness’. The difficulty here is that you have to judge whether you see a verb or a noun depending purely by context.

Other languages give morphological cues by deriving relative words from the same stem. E.g. English ‘strength’, ‘strengthen’, ‘strong’ or Russian ‘чёрный’ (black), ‘чернеть’ (blacken), ‘чернота’ (blackness). Yet, the way natural languages employ derivation in an unsystematic and haphazard way.

Ithkuil addresses the issue in...

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Íxhadl epal Iţkuil

The title of this post means ‘the beginning of hypothetical Ithkuil learning’.


Ithkuil is extremely complex, it’s an apriori language, which means its grammar and lexicon bear very little resemblance to those other languages you might know. It was not intended to be learned at all! The author, John Quijada was purportedly very surprised when he started getting letters from crazy Russians who asked him about learning the language. Those Russians fell for an unproved and highly doubtful idea that learning Ithkuil at a nativelike level could improve one’s speed of thought. The very question of learnability of the language is a matter of debate that arose several times on Ithkuil subreddit.

Why would you even want to learn such a thing?

You might be insane

And even perfectly sane people sometimes do crazy things. Personally, I regularly feel frustrated about the real world and want...

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The Wonder of Ithkuil

Ithkuil is a constructed human language created by an American linguist John Quijada.

As with many constructed languages, especially those which emerged in the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, Ithkuil was not intended to be actually used for any communication, but rather to explore how human languages can function theoretically.

What makes Ithkuil so special among a multitude of conlangs?

While most of people who heard something about Ithkuil will say either ‘extremely complex grammar and crazy phonology’, or ‘high information density that can speed up your thinking’, those are neither unique to Ithkuil nor related to its primary goal.

What makes Ithkuil a truly unprecedented effort in language creation, and the reason why it is certainly worth being called a rare precious gem of human culture, is the exactness and precision of expression which...

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