Mañi is classified as a Ngerupic language, and is the ancestor of the Mañic languages. While the majority of its vocabulary can be reconstructed to Proto-Ngerupic, it has also acquired some vocabulary from a substrate native to southern Soltenna, corresponding to modern-day Quaxin Xun, Bosato, Nyatol, and Zaizung. This vocabulary includes flora and fauna native to Soltenna and maritime vocabulary.
Mañi is believed to have been spoken from approximately -500 CE to 500 CE, corresponding to the Xuni Migration Period.
Writing and literature
Mañi writing during the classical period is attested in three different writing systems. The first, called palm-leaf Terminian, was primarily used to write Old Terminian. Writers using palm-leaf Terminian to write Mañi used differing and frequently innovative transliteration conventions. For instance, some texts typically transcribe the Mañi stops with voiceless stop symbols, others with voiced stop symbols, and yet others depending on whether they were in a cluster with a voiced consonant or a nasal vowel.
The first script designed specifically for the Mañi language is called the Old Tekaunye syllabary, due to a large number of early texts being discovered near Tekaunye. It is actually a semi-syllabary, with some glyphs representing CV combinations and others representing single consonants. The phonetic value of the glyphs in this syllabary are not derived directly from the phonetic vowels of palm-leaf Terminian, nor are the glyphs. It is most likely that the Old Tekaunye syllabary was invented by a scribe, or multiple scribes, who was familiar with the appearance of palm-leaf Terminian script, but not literate in it, and possibly not literate in any alphabetic script.
The Old Tekaunye syllabary, after a couple centuries of use, transitioned into a more internally consistent abugida, referred to as the Mañi abugida. The Ca forms of the glyphs from the Old Tekaunye syllabary are kept, and other CV combinations are shown by combinations with diacritic-like versions of the standalone vowel letters.