Amaian-Zwazwan language

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Aman-zwazwan sìe
Pronunciation[ɑmajzᵝɑzᵝaj ɕìje]
EthnicityAmaian people, Zwazwan people
Native speakers25 million  (2017)
Language family
Amaian languages
  • Amaian-Zwazwan
Early forms:
  • Amaian-Zwazwan
DialectsGynnyn dialect, Western Amaian-Zwazwan dialect, Eastern Amaian-Zwazwan dialect
Writing systemVaniuan script, Terminian script
Official status
Official language inAmaia, Zwazwan
CWS code

The Amaian-Zwazwan language is a pluricentric Amaian dialect continuum spoken by a total of 25 million in Amaia and Zwazwamia, though it is usually considered as two separate languages, Amaian and Zwazwan.


Amaian-Zwazwan was recognized as a single language from the beginnings of its recorded history in the mid-1st millennium. However, with the influx of Terminians into what is now Zwazwamia during the 12th century, and the resulting introduction of a caste system in Amaian-Zwazwan society, a split between Terminianized and conservative speech varieties began to form. The definition of separate Zwazwan and Amaian languages first arose in the 16th century as people of the Ama caste moved into the Gynnyn area and established a state with a distinct cultural identity- from its genesis, the separation of Zwazwan and Amaian languages was largely based on cultural rather than linguistic elements.

Zwazwan and Amaian separated consciously in a linguistic sense during the early 20th century as Zwazwamia split from Amaia to form an isolationist theocracy. During this period, Amaian was cleansed of all Terminian loans and Zwazwan borrowed even more heavily from its liturgical tongue of Terminian. A unified Amaian standard was formed based on the speech of Geswi, the capital. Geswi had always been considered a neutral intermediary between the various regions of Amaia both geographically and socio-culturally.

The history of Amaian-Zwazwan dialects is more difficult to define as the differences mainly concern the non-front high vowels, which have almost always shared the same glyph in Amaian orthography. Thus, there are few written records displaying dialectal distinctions. However, based on their present distribution it seems that Gynnyn dialect is the result of the first migration of the Ama caste northwards to a location separated from the rest of Amaian-Zwazwan, while Western Amaian-Zwazwan dialect and Eastern Amaian-Zwazwan dialect split some time later before the Partition of Zwazwamia and Amaia.


Officially, Amaian-Zwazwan is spoken by the entire population of Amaia and Zwazwamia- the respective national variants are the national languages of each. However, large regions of northern and eastern Amaia are extremely sparsely populated, and additionally it is estimated there is a population of about 5000 or so monolingual speakers of Voontic languages in rural northwestern Amaia. Amaian-Zwazwan is also spoken by a population in northeastern Balakia, as well as by a greater diaspora of about 100,000 around Sahar.


Amaian-Zwazwan phonology presents a descriptive challenge due to its pervasive system of front/back harmony in both consonants and vowels, as well as dialectal and allophonic variation in the non-front high vowels. In this article we will be following usual conventions in attributing consonant harmony to vowel effects, and underlying separations in /u/ and /ɨ/ which are collapsed in some dialects.


Labial Alveolar Dorsal
Plain nasal m n
Voiceless Plosive p t k
Voiced Plosive b d g
Voiceless Affricate t͡s
Voiced Affricate d͡z
Voiceless Fricative s
Voiced Fricative z
Flap ɺ

Note the presence of the two whistled sibilants.

All consonants are palatalized before a front vowel, and velars are backed before a non-front vowel. The labiodental flap becomes a voiced labial plosive when palatalized in most speech varieties.

The two flaps are occasionally realized as implosives word-initially.


Amaian-Zwazwan is unusual in completely lacking phonemic rounded vowels, although back vowels are often allophonically rounded after the whistled sibilants.

Monophthongs Front Mid Back
Close i ɨ [u]
Open-mid e ʌ
Open æ ɑ


Stress always falls on the first syllable of a word, and may be in either high or low pitch accents. That is, there is only one pitch accent per word. In Eastern Amaian-Zwazwan especially, low pitch accent is instead realized as high pitch on the second syllable of a multisyllabic word.


Syllable structure is (C)V(C).

Phonological processes

Vowel-nasal realizations

Sequences of vowels plus coda nasals are realized as diphthongs or other vowel qualities, which vary between dialects, as follows:

Eastern Dialect
-/m/ -/n/
/i/ [ʉw] [ɨj]
/e/ [ew] [ej]
/æ/ [æw] [æj]
/ɯ/ [ɨw] [ɨj]
/u/ [ow] [wej]
/ʌ/ [ʌw] [ʌj]
/ɑ/ [ɑw] [ɑj]
Western Dialect
-/m/ -/n/
/i/ [ɨw] [i:]
/e/ [ew] [ej]
/æ/ [æw] [æj]
/ɯ/ [ow] [ej]
/u/ [ow] [ej]
/ʌ/ [ow] [ej]
/ɑ/ [ɑw] [ɑj]
Gynnyn dialect
-/m/ -/n/
/i/ [ew] [ej]
/e/ [ew] [ej]
/æ/ [æw] [æj]
/ɯ/ [ow] [ej]
/ʌ/ [ow] [ej]
/ɑ/ [ɑw] [æj]

In the rest of this section on phonology, Eastern dialect realizations will be given for consistency.

/j/ insertion

Before a front vowel in a syllable with no consonant initial, a [j] is inserted. For example:

1itä [jítʲæ̀] 'three'

Vowel rounding

After a whistled sibilant, all vowels round. For example:

1swag [sᵝɒ́ʁ] 'friend'

High vowel elision

In the environment #C_CV or VC_CV, high vowels elide in fast speech. For example:

2amacykon [ɑ̀mɑ́t͡sɯ̀qʌ́j~ɑ̀mɑ́t͡sqʌ́j] Amaia-GEN

Regressive voicing assimilation

In a consonant cluster, obstruent voicing assimilates based on the voicing of the final consonant in the cluster. This process applies after high vowel elision:

2eciben [jèt͡ɕíbʲèj~jèd͡ʑbʲèj] be.cold-REL.SUB.WIT

Front /g/ lenition

In Amaian, before a consonant or word-finally, /g/ is realized as [ʑ] in front words (in Zwazwan, this process applies to any /g/ after a front vowel that is not before a back vowel). For example, in Amaian:

1zinitä-näg [ʑíɲìtʲǽɲæ̀ʑ~ʑíɲtʲǽɲæ̀ʑ] bird.DR=INDEF.PL.NOM

/ɺ/ changes at word periphery

/ɺ/ is realized as [l] in back words or [lʲ] in front words in word-initial position. In Amaian, these changes also apply word-finally, while in Zwazwan, word-final /ɺ/ is always realized as [r]. The phoneme is found in these positions mainly in loanwords. For example, in Amaian:

1tovor [tʌ́ⱱʌ̀l] walnut.DR


Orthography represents one of the largest differences between Zwazwan and Amaian. Zwazwan is written in the Terminian script, while Amaian is written in the Vaniuan script used in all of Vaniu.



Amaian-Zwazwan nouns decline for number and case. The numbers are singular and plural, with an additional dual in pronouns. Case includes agentive, patientive, oblique, and locative. Pronouns additionally decline in an emphatic-reflexive form. The oblique is used for genitive and dative purposes. The patientive is usually not distinguished from agentive in common nouns in Amaian except for fossilized phrases and old-fashioned speech- the agentive is there known as the direct form.

Declension interacts in complicated ways with pitch accent and stem changes are known to occur- in this sense Amaian-Zwazwan is a highly fusional language. Pitch accent paradigms in declension are one of the main distinctions between the dialects, with Gynnyn dialect exhibiting the most patterns, while Western Amaian-Zwazwan regularizes the form of the locative to agree with that of the plural direct in most cases. Eastern Amaian-Zwazwan has the simple rule that plural and locative take the opposite pitch from the singular direct form. Across Amaian-Zwazwan, there is the constraint that if the singular direct and plural direct take the same pitch accent, then the locative must take that same one as well. Another rule is that oblique forms take the same pattern as plural direct ones, while both numbers of the locative take the same pitch.

Zwazwan retains the patientive case to a greater extent than Amaian.

Verbs conjugate for a variety of tense-aspect-mood-evidentiality-polarity forms and are almost exclusively suffixing in both inflectional and derivational morphology.

Other parts of speech do not inflect.


Amaian-Zwazwan word order is primarily SOV. Numerals and possessive pronouns follow noun heads, but apart from that noun phrases are also highly head-final.

See also