Coastal Jutean

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Coastal Jutean
Tahivi a net / Net
Pronunciation/tɐhiʋi ɐ net/, /net/
RegionYstel (Jute, South Jute, Mermelia), Lahan (Tuyo), Vaniua (Balakia), Boroso (Lhavres)
EthnicityCoastal Juteans (native), River Juteans, South Juteans, Klambari, Samwati (common second language)
Native speakers1,570,000  (2015)
Language family
  • Saru-Asuran
    • Sanju-Jutean
      • Proto-Jutean
        • Jutean
Early forms:
Ancient Jutean
  • Middle Jutean
    • Reformed Jutean
      • Colonial Jutean
        • Jutean
Official status
Official language inJute
Languages of Jute.png

Coastal Jutean, commonly simply known as Jutean, is a language of the Jutic branch of the Saru-Asuran family, itself part of the Trans-Ebo-Puzimm macrofamily, spoken on the island of Jute as the official language and by 1,270,000 people as their native language as well as in several diasporas around the world, such as in South Jute, Balakia and Lhavres. Coastal Jutean is not to be confused with River Jutean, a related, but distinct language spoken mostly inland on the island.

It is assumed to have developed after the first ancestors of present day ethnic Juteans arrived at the island at around 1000 BC. The people remaining on the coast would eventually speak what is today referred to as Jutean, or Coastal Jutean (Jutean: tahivi a net), whereas the people venturing inside would develop River Jutean (River Jutean: tahosoe val ma, /taho͡asoɛ vɐl mɐ/). It had no official status until after Jute regained independence in , during and prior to the colonial era it was just one of the languages spoken on the island, albeit the most widely spoken one.

It is notable for its use of the Austronesian alignment, its lack of adjectives as a separate part of speech, and the absence of marked tense, aspect or number (with the exception of numbers in pronouns). Triggers or intransitive sentences are also used for passive meanings.

Personal pronouns, while having the standard 1st/2nd/3rd person, are unusual in other regards. There are three numbers (arguably four in the first person plural), clusitivity, gender and animacy distinctions.

The language also lacks possessive pronouns, reflecting the different concepts of the speakers of the language regarding ownership. A genitive-like construction is solely used for inalienable possession, for alienable ones relative nominalizations are used, such as "the land I live on", or "the boat I'm sailing" rather than "my land" or "my boat".

Family and origin

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Ancient Jutean

Middle Jutean

Reformed Jutean

Colonial-era Jutean

Modern-day Jutean



Bilabial Labio-dental Dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n [ŋ]¹
Plosive t, d k
Fricative f s, [z]² [ʃ]³ h
Approximant ʋ j
Lateral app. l

¹at codas when followed by /k/, allophone of /n/

²at syllable onsets before long vowels, allophone of /s/

³in a few dialects, allophone of /s/


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close i, i: u, u:
Close-mid e, e:
Near-open ɐ ɐ:
Open [a:]¹ ɑ, ɑ:, [ɒ:]²

¹in some dialects, allophone of /ɐ:/

²in some dialects, allophone of /ɑ:/


ɑi ɑe ɑu ie iɐ iɑ iu ui ue uɐ uɑ eɑ eu ei eɐ ɐu ɐi ɐe


iɑ: e:ɑ


Syllable Structure

(C)V(V)(V/C), though V, CV and VC are most common. More complex syllables such as CVC, CVVC appear less often and particularly CVVV is rare.

Consonant clusters can thus only appear at syllable boundaries, and only the geminations of /t/, /k/, /m/, /n/ and /l/ as well as two-consonant clusters starting with /n/, /m/ or /l/ are allowed.

VV are either long vowels or vowel diphthongs, and VVV are long diphthongs.

Stress information

Mostly on the penultimate syllable, sometimes on the last syllable with a long vowel/diphtong, but it's not fixed and can also be used to emphasize a part of a word, for example the negating suffix '-l' or '-al'.


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This section requires expansion: Information on the orthography of non-Terminic scripts missing

The predominant writing system used for Jutean is a native syllabary independent from, but loosely inspired by native proto-writing and the Adzo-Neviric script brought by Neviran officials in the 17th century, which had been the first people to introduce writing on Jute. It was developed in the 18th century as a form of cultural resistance to Neviran officials to prevent further assimilation and distinguish the native languages more clearly.

The romanization is as follows:

Aa /a/ Dd /d/ Ee /e/ Ff /f/ Hh /h/ Ii /i/ Jj /j/ Kk /k/

Ll /l/ Mm /m/ Nn /n/, /ŋ/ Oo /ɑ/ Ss /s/, /ʃ/ Tt /t/ Uu /u/ Vv /ʋ/

Capital letters are only used for the beginning of a sentence and for names.


Main article: Jutean inflection


Nouns belong to one of three noun classes. The first one is generally termed the 'common' or 'civilization' noun class and entails people, professions, domesticated or harmless animals and physical, everyday things, such as dova (tree). The second one is the 'abstract' or 'immaterial' noun class and contains all intangible items, ideas, concepts, such as 'dovi' (height) It is also used for much of space vocabulary and for some general terms. The third noun class is labeled 'wilderness', words related to the jungle, the ocean, or other 'wild' places, physical and metaphorical (e.g. the subconscious) belong to it, such as 'dovu' (jungle tree). However, there are words that don't find this pattern due to having a particular noun class for etymological reasons, such as 'dovi' (tower) which is derived from 'dovi' (height) and so retains the immaterial/abstract noun class.

Three cases exist, the unmarked direct case for subjects, the indirect case for direct objects and oblique objects designating a location, and the oblique case for all other oblique objects. They are marked by suffixes or, in the case of longer words, with particles. Some nouns do not decline, such as adjectical nouns, or do not in specific circumstances, e.g. in names of languages or temporal adverbial phrases.


Adjectives do not exist as a distinct part of speech in Jutean, and instead adjectival nouns and stative verbs are used. While stative verbs (such as ildeso, 'be sure/strict') morphologically and syntactically function like other unergative verbs and are used as such, adjectival nouns are added, together with the preposition a (here: 'of') to a noun like an oblique object, but do not get the oblique case suffix, as in dovi a nihaa, 'old tower' or literally 'tower of oldness'.

Intensification is done with the adverb haad (here: 'much'), and comparative and superlative are in the case of stative verbs formed with the adverbs haade (more) and haadate (most), whereas adjectival nouns take another oblique phrase, a haada (of biggerness) or a haadat (of biggestness), with the exception of haad (here: 'bigness'), uke (goodness), dohaa (badness), which have their own irregular comparative and superlative forms. Additionally, the superlative can be augmented further with the 'archetypive', reserved for something that is seen as the perfect embodiment of a particular quality or characteristic, i.e. an archetype.


Verbs in Jutean (always ending in -o) are usually sorted into two main categories, minor (always intransitive verbs such as unergative and many unaccusative verbs) and major verbs (which can be both transitive and intransitive), as Jutean has a mixed morphosyntactic alignment combining split-S ergativity with the Austronesian alignment. Aside from the two main categories, there is a smaller category of “mixed” verbs that combines characteristics of the two main categories, and a number of verbs that are syntactically irregular.

Triggers (agentive, patientive, locative and instrumental), as well as voices (active, antipassive, causative, reciprocal and reflexive) and moods (indicative, imperative, conditional, subjunctive, hortative) are usually marked by suffixes or in some cases with particles.


Adverbs do not decline and are among other things often used to indicate the aspect of a verb.


Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns are rather complex, and some forms are thought to be almost unique to Jutean. The inanimate pronouns are gendered (common, abstract/immaterial, 'wilderness'), the 3rd person pronoun referring to humans (and other sentient beings) however doesn't make distinctions.

Person 1st 2nd 3rd 3rd (plants and animals) 3rd (inanimate, gender)
Singular ta na la uvu ehi, aha, ohu
Plural fa (incl.), fanal (excl. a single person),

fanafal (excl. several people)

naf laf uvuf ahaf, ehif, ohuf
Collective fa (incl.) fafanal (excl. of a group) fan fal uvuf, fuvu (rarely) ahaf, ehif, ohuf (a af/efi/uf)

Colloquially and in dialects like Sitti, aha, ehi, ohu might be used for both singular and plural, and af, efi, uf for collective and in some cases also plural.

For the indirect case, the particle he is put in front of the pronoun, for the oblique case the circumferential particle me ... ma is used.

Example: ta - 'I'

(li) he ta - 'me, (to) me'

(nuhe) me ta ma, (a) me ta ma - '(for) me, (of) me, (by) me' (etc.)

Demonstrative pronouns

They are distinguished by gender and distance (proximal, medial and distal).

Gender Common Abstract/Immaterial 'Wilderness'
Proximal ja ji ju
Medial jam jim jum
Distal jaha jahi jahu

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns don't exist. Instead, a + personal pronoun in the oblique case are used for inalienable possession. Inalienable possession is limited to (body) parts, family members and friends, as well as thoughts, feelings, actions and experiences. Some other kinds of relationship or authorship can also be indicated with this construction.

Vunam a he laf ha 'Their parent'
("Parent of them")

Hotif a he ta ha 'My book' [a book that I wrote]
("Book of me")

Ova a vuhatatede 'The top of the mountain'
("Top of mountain")

For everything else, alienable possession is used, which is formed with a relative nominalization describing the situation or relationship between one or more persons and animals (when not treated as friends or family members), objects, jobs, offices, places.

Vailita a vohi a me ta ma 'Vehicle that I use'
Vehicle of use-GER of OBL 1S OBL ('Vehicle of using of me')

Hotif a fuumohi a me ta ma 'Book that I read'
Book of read-GER of OBL 1S OBL ('book of reading of me')

Nijauva a sehukohi a vunamede 'Cat that parent(s) care for'
Cat of care-GER of parent-OBL ('cat of caring of parent(s)')


These can sometimes be gendered as well, for example ado/ido/udo 'at, by', etc. and come mostly in front of the noun, although some postpositions, e.g. todentije ('next'), exist as well.

Question particles

To form a question, question particles are attached at the end of a sentence, separated by a comma. They basic particle is haa and used for yes/no questions. Other questions use particles that consist of the basic form and a suffix, noun or pronoun (depending on what is being asked). While most are well established, occasionally new ones are derived on the spot in informal speech or writing.


Question particle Constituents Translation
haaja/haaji/haaju haa + demonstrative 'What/Which (one)?'
haan haa + place suffix 'Where?'
haasin haa + 'saini' (person/people) 'Who?'
hasooni' haa + dooni (time) 'When?'
haava haa + va (here: material) 'Made of what?'
haatoni haa + toni (way, method) 'How?'
haano haa + no (to be) Why?


Negation of a noun, verb, adverb or adposition is formed by adding -l (if the word ends in a vowel) or -al (if the word ends in a consonant) to the end of the word. If the verb already has a mood or trigger suffix, the 'al' particle is postponed instead. This can also be done with declined nouns or gerund forms, and is in fact commonly the case with the former.

Derivational morphology

Main article: Jutean derivation

In general, affixes and compounding are used for derivation. For adverbs, -e is usually added to the end, while verbs take -o or -ho, barring some exceptions. Nouns have a variety of possible derivation affixes that can be used to change the gender or noun class of a noun, to create diminutives or augmentatives, instrumentals, resultatives, causatives and create words denoting e.g. ability, agency, and many other characteristics.


Main article: Jutean syntax

Jutean has an unusually rigid VSO word order that allows few syntactic movements. Questions use a particle rather than a change in word order, and all other constituents of a clause tend to only have one slot they are allowed to go in. However, any of them (verbal phrase, subject, objects etc.) can be dropped if they can be derived from context.

The language is also strongly head-initial, with the heads of verb, noun and adpositional phrases all preceding their complements. Subclauses are always nominalized, but mostly avoided and turned into separate main clauses or incorporated into a main clause with the help of 'verb stacking' or serial verb constructions.


Native words

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Jutean uses a base-5 counting system, so "ten" would be literally translated as "two five". Ordinal numbers (first, second, third) are formed by adding the oblique case ending -ede/-de. Numbers aren't declined.

Number Cardinal Ordinal
1 iki ikide
2 leke lekede
3 kiuki kiukide
4 kihaki kihakide
5 kiif kiifede
6 kiif-iki kiif-ikide
7 kiif-leke kiif-lekede
8 kiif-kiuki kiif-kiukide
9 kiif-kihaki kiif-kihakide
10 leke-kiivi leke-kiivide
11 leke-kiivi iki leke-kiivi ikide
12 leke-kiivi leke leke-kiivi lekede


Main article: Jutean pragmatics

Jutean has three levels of formality. The most formal one is called the 'humble' or 'polite' one, and the less formal registers are the neutral and the casual one. The registers vary in how they phrase e.g. questions and answers, praises, pleas and orders, using different moods, pronouns and dedicated phrases and words as well as honorifics. The unmarked indicative is avoided in the formal one, and greetings and phrasing are generally longer and more elaborate. The casual register is characterized by terse and plain speech, using no honorifics.

Sometimes there is overlap between two, creating a semi-formal register, when the 'humble' register might be inappropriate, such as in a casual everyday conversation, but the speaker wants to be particularly polite, e.g. towards an elderly person or any one else highly respected. Using the inappropriate level of formality can also be used purposefully for humorous effect or to be insulting.

Legal status and varieties

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See also