Old Daevite Language

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Old Daevite

L1 Population: 0 Language Class: Denaskulo1 Trigraphical Code: DAV

A Note on Daevite Linguistics

The study of the languages spoken by the Daevites is very much unique in the field of historical linguistics. Many aspects of Daevite culture, their language included, were seemingly developed completely independently from any other culture known to us. As such, the Old Daevite language is remarkably different from all of its neighbours, and is classified as a linguistic isolate2.

Regardless, many historical isolates are known and studied by modern linguistics. The most major difference between Daevite and other languages is the way in which the language evolved over time. Much like other aspects of Daevite culture, their language changed and diverged remarkably little over its long written history3.

Historical Daevite inscriptions are generally divided, somewhat arbitrarily, into the following four languages:

Old Daevite Includes the earliest Daevite materials available to us,
and all inscriptions until the destruction and annexation
of the neighbouring Sarkic state at approximately 1000 BCE.
Middle Daevite Includes Daevite materials written after 1000 BCE and before
the fracturing of the Daevite state at approximately 200 CE.
Late Daevite Includes Daevite inscriptions dating after 200 CE and before
the end of Daevite independence at approximately 1300 CE.
Neo-Daevite Includes Daevite-language materials produced after the end
of Daevite independence by remaining native speaker groups.

This document aims to constitute a modern introduction to the Old Daevite language specifically, which is of particular interest to the Foundation due to the many records written in it discussing early Sarkicism and the Xia Anomalous Culture Group.


Due to the fact Old Daevite is an extinct language, its exact pronunciation remains unknown. However, a theoretical realization of the following phonemes has been inferred from transliterations of Daevite words into neighbouring languages.


Front Back
Close i /i/ u /u/
Mid e /e/ o /o/
Open a /a/ á /ɒ/

The following diphthongs4 are attested:

Initial a Initial e Initial i
Final u au /a͡u/ eu /e͡u/
Final o ao /a͡o/ io /i͡o/
Final á eá /e͡ɒ/ iá /i͡ɒ/
Final e ae /a͡e/
Final i ai /a͡i/


Labial Alveolar Post-Alveolar Velar Pharyngeal
Nasal m /m/ n /n/
Stop p /p/ b /b/ t /t/ d /d/ k /k/ g /g/
Ejective Stop ṭ /tʼ/ ḳ /kʼ/
Fricative f /ɸ/ s /s/ z /z/ š /ʃ/ x /x/ h /ħ/
Approximant v /ʋ/ r /ɹ/
Lateral l /l/


The following phonotactical rules apply in Old Daevite:

  • The maximum syllable is CVCC.
  • Gemination5 is only allowed for nasals and stops.
  • Ejective consonants are not allowed in consonant clusters. If a consonant clusters with an ejective, the consonant is deleted.
  • Voiceless non-ejective stops become aspirated when at the end of a word.


Grammatical Gender

Quite unusually for a language of Siberia, Old Daevite possessed a thorough grammatical gender (or noun-class) system. This system affected pluralization as well as verb conjugation. When referring to groups containing multiple genders, a hierarchy was employed to determine which gender to use for the whole. The group was always referred to using the "highest" gender contained by it. The genders of the Daevite system are as follows, from highest to lowest in the hierarchy:

Leading / Open-Form Conceptual / Coda-Form Animate / A-Form Inanimate / B-Form
Mostly used for rulers, leaders, driving forces in the material world, and occasionally other nouns when they are the subject of a sentence. These nouns usually, though not always, include an open vowel (á or a) in their final syllable. Used for ideas, religious concepts, numbers, and other such things which cannot be physically interacted with. A large amount of these nouns end with nasals or stops. Used for physical objects which are alive to some degree, such as humans, animals, and plants. These nouns rarely have unifying features that distinguish them from nouns with other genders. Used for physical objects which are not alive, such as rocks, tools, and various materials. These nouns rarely have unifying features that distinguish them from nouns with other genders.
Potniá "Slave-Owner"
Urdal "King"
Tivik "One"
Heug "Spirit"
Leux "Child"
Hiz "Tree"
Hiázai "Tongue"6
Šeg "Rock"

Noun and adjective declension

Old Daevite possessed three grammatical numbers - a singular, a plural, and, interestingly, a null or "zero" number not found in any other language of the region. As an example:

Singular Plural Null
Ḳast Ḳastau Mazḳast
"One fruit" "Many fruits" "No fruits"

The singular number is always unmarked. However, nouns in the plural and null numbers are marked with an affix that denotes their number and gender, as is any adjective referring to them. These declensions are as follows:

Leading Conceptual Animate Inanimate
Plural -(t)7a -(t)in -(t)en (t)au
Null maz-

Possession is, in turn, managed by a completely separate set of suffixes which are marked on the possessee and change according to the gender and person of the possessor. If a plural noun is the possessee, these suffixes are added following the plural suffix.

1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person
Singular -fai -lok -sae
Plural -feut -láket -saed
Null -šu

In addition, there existed a simple adjectivizer prefix, á-, which may be used to transform any noun into an adjective. In case of the noun being adjectivized having adjectives itself, those adjectives are also marked with the prefix. For example:

Noun Adjective
Kaes "mountain" Ákaes "mountainous"
Tu "three" Átu "third"


A rarely-attested system of diminutification existed in Old Daevite. From the few occurrences that exist of it, it seems to have operated by the reduplication of the last vowel and the last consonant in the root. This diminutive form could then be used either derogatorily (as in "urdalal", "little king", attested as a mocking title for an unknown foreign ruler) or endearingly (as in "xaofaof", "little flower", attested as a nickname of a mother to her daughter).

Stop Mutation

Old Daevite included a unique system of stop mutation, based on the relative social standing of the speaker and the listener. This system was not considered to be simple allophony, but rather a core and grammatical part of the language, as is evidenced by these mutations being reflected in the Daevite writing system.

Daevite stop mutation involved shifting all stops in speech to a differet set if the listener was of significantly higher or lower social rank. These two sets being referred to as the High Register and the Low Register respectively, and are contrasted by the neutral Base Register.

Base Register High Register Low Register
b p b
d t d
g k g
p p b
t d
k g

As an example, the sentence "the king closed the door":

Hios satoku urdal

Would be realized in the High Register as:

Hios saṭoḳu urtal

And in the Low Register as:

Hios sadogu urdal

Verb Conjugation

Verb conjugation in Old Daevite was somewhat complex, with each verb having 50 unique forms based on its number, tense, person, and gender.

The two tenses of Old Daevite were the Future and the Non-Future. The Non-Future was unmarked, while the Future was marked in the Animate, Conceptual, and Leading genders by the suffix -ge. In the Inanimate, this changed to -ke.

The Null number was marked, in both tenses, by the prefix maz-. No person or gender information was encoded in this number.

The person of the verb was encoded using the first consonant of a prefix attached to the verb. For the 1st Person, this consonant was a t, while for the 2nd and 3rd Persons, it was a x and a s respectively.

The vowel of this prefix was determined by both the person and the number of the verb. For the 1st and 2nd Persons, the vowel was i in the Singular and u in the Plural. For the 3rd Person, this vowel was a in the Singular and á in the Plural.

Finally, gender was encoded a few different ways. In the Animate, this was by not attaching any prefix in the Singular 1st Person, and attaching unmarked prefixes in the other conjugations. In the Inanimate, unmarked prefixes are added, and the first consonant of the base verb is geminated if possible.

In the Conceptual, a r is added to the end of the prefix. For verbs in the Leading gender, prefixes are unmarked, while the first vowel of the base verb undergoes a process of mutation wherein it is replaced by a more open vowel. As a and á are completely open vowels, they are unaffected, as are any diphthongs.

Base Vowel Replaced With
i e
u o
e a
o á
a a
á á

To illustrate, various conjugations of the verb nuxe "to eat" and their translations are presented below.

Nuxe "She/He ate", or "She/He is eating"
Nuxege "She/He will eat"
Tinnuxeke "It will eat"
Maznuxe "Nobody ate" or "Nobody is eating"
Maznuxege "Nobody will eat"


The general order of sentences and verb phrases in Old Daevite was Object-Verb-Subject. Adjectives were always placed before the nouns they refer to. Somewhat due to the complete lack of any noun cases, this word order was extremely rigid, and materials deviating from it are rare and tend to be much shorter works produced by the lower classes.

It is notable that whenever one is talking of a noun belonging to the Leading gender, it was considered disrespectful to place it in any position in the sentence bar the Subject, in order to maintain their agency. This is reflected in how the Daevites describe both Leading-gender persons or forces they approve of, and those they disapprove of.

Old Daevite completely lacked any form of copula8. In order to state equivalence between two nouns, a speaker simply placed one as the object and one as the subject of the sentence. As this carries no tense information, any change of this relationship over time must be specified using an additional sentence.

Old Daevite employed postpositions. Positional phrases were generally placed before their subject, much like adjectives.



Leading Conceptual Animate Inanimate
1st Person Singular tai nau tau
2nd Person Singular ṭaḳá namḳa tuza
3rd Person Singular tintau naxiá taniá surau
1st Person Plural taiai xunau xutá
2nd Person Plural ḳuṭa xunma xuxe
3rd Person Plural tixtiá naxau taosa suxrau
Null mazšu

The Null pronoun was primarily used to refer to the nouns the speaker was unaware of. This was particularly useful for forming questions, although the restrictive nature of the pronoun meant Old Daevite questions only accepted nouns as answers, and questions were always phrased appropriately for that restriction. As an example:

Mazšu xinuxe tuza?

What did you eat?9

Demonstrative pronouns10 were formed by adding a demonstrative suffix, -ne, to the end of any existing pronoun.


Ṭao A Human Sacrifice
Giáh A Person
Raex A Religious Sacrifice
Teá Beast, Predatory Animal
Reg Bird
Mašai Blood
Kae Body
Adv Book
Xiábbeá Border
Peuv Bronze
Laohor Cause, Fact, Reason
Leux Child
Neuh Citizen
Pádn City
Daev A Daeva
Hezhum Desolation, Destruction
Vaduk Dominion, Sovereignty
Hios Door
Aiktue Large State, Empire11
Xaehn End
Faiḳae Enemy
Hiála Family
Kueše Fellowship, Alliance, Many-Membered Companionship
Dauhk Fire
Xaof Flower
Ḳast Fruit
Peá God, Deity
Zeu Grass
Ṭaulo Grave
Imai Guest
Botiáks A Harvest
Teán Head
Taef Heart
Vaon Home
Kiázai Honor, Respect
Kiáth Horse
Urdal King, Monarch
Gaiḳixel Knife, Dagger
Ner Lack
Maopt Leaf
Fiáb Life
Kifenn Longing
Vam Mother
Kaes Mountain
Saro Moon
Tivik One
Aidr Palace
Aok Place
Kao River
Baox Road
Iohk Road
Xioṭo Saliva
Nelk Sarkite
Ḳun Slave
Deág Soldier
Heug Spirit, Lesser Deity
Gai (Water) Spring, Fountain, the Font
Geát Stone
Daošre Thief, Intruder
Uṭu Thing, Product12
Hiázai Tongue
Hisp Tree
Tiálḳ War
Ṭeukm Weapon
Ḳioti A Weight (in the inanimate), Weight (in the conceptual)
Aint Wound
Ba Wrath


Dará To Arrive
Tiḳá To Battle
Tema To Be Able to
Paba To Be Wroth
Derá To Bring
Pove To Call, to Term
Bohu To Capture
Toku To Close
Dáṭe To Command
Hiorda To Commend, to Praise
Mauš To Cover In Blood
Hele To Cool
Tuṭá To Cut
Ṭaši To Dance
Hezu To Destroy
Musu To Die
Tiha To Do
Nuxe To Eat
Ḳofá To Enslave
Zexa To Find
Pevá To Grow
Vepe To Ingest (something that is not food, drink, or air), to Intake
Viro To Join
Pone To Know
Duhau To Light On Fire
Táki To List
Xáṭe To March (an armed force)
Giho To Force, to Make (a thing do something)
Báli To Open
Ḳefe To Place
Naḳa To Rule
Feve To Serve, to Care For or Treat Someone
Ganu To Set, to Mark
Raxka To Sacrifice
Lági To See
Gusá To Send
Daepá To Sing
Hizá To Speak
Ṭofi To Stab, to Strike
Zafá To Take
Hihe To Travel
Šozu To Quieten, to Bleach (in color)
Ḳito To Weigh

Adjectives and Adverbs

Miá Whole, Entire, All
Iárx Black
Tairx Blue
Liomao Far
Murx Green
Beulae Old, Ancient
Ḳuešae Real, True
Sau Red
Vihe Shining
Aifš High, Great
Baih Weak
Taiš White
Laot Now

Function Words

Ṭá In, At
Mašeza But, However
Aen For, Because Of
Iob More
Šue Most
Meš No, None, Not
Maixe Here
Kut With

The Writing System

The writing system of Old Daevite was an abugida13, written top to bottom, left to right. This is due to the script originally developing as a method of writing on trees, although due to their organic nature, few inscriptions in this medium are available for modern study.

Consonant Notation

Consonants are marked in a downwards line within each word. Words are then separated by a designated word separator.

Word Separator WordSeparator.png

A list of the different consonant letters is available below, next to their romanization.


Vowel Notation

Vowels were marked using three different symbols, each corresponding to a degree of vowel openness, which could be placed on either side of the consonant line based on frontness. This featural system provided an easy way to mark all 6 base vowels of Old Daevite.


In case of a word beginning with a vowel, vowel markings were placed on the word separator that preceded it.

Finally, in order to mark diphthongs, two vowel marks were graphically joined to each other. This was done without significant modification when the two marks are on the same side of the consonantal line. However, when they were on opposite sides, a horizontal connector extended between them.

If the following consonant was a coda of the syllable, then the second vowel mark took the place normally taken by the vowel of an onset consonant. In case of the following consonant being an onset of a separate syllable, it is pushed downwards.

Numeral System

Daevite reverence of prime numbers, particularly seven, extended into the numeral system used in their language. While it is the opinion of most researchers in the field that the system described here was not the one used by the majority of the Empire's population14, it was likely the system used in documentation and high-class speech, and hence is the only Old Daevite numeral system a record of which still exists.

The Old Daevite numeral system was capable of describing any natural number except 1, and was based on prime factorization15. This makes the Daevites the earliest known discoverers of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic, preceding Euclid's Elements by at least 1,300 years.

As there is an infinite amount of prime numbers, a subsystem existed within Old Daevite in order to describe the position of a prime within the list of prime numbers. This subsystem was heptimal16, although 4 and 6 were represented using their prime factors rather than unique digits, and the last number was always a digit, rather than any heptimal number. The general Old Daevite numerical system used 7 digits to represent the first 7 prime numbers, with the rest being formed using the heptimal subsystem. Prime numbers not within the first 7 are distinguished by being written left-to-right, rather than up-to-down like the rest of Daevite writing.

The Daevites likely did not consider 1 to be a number - while a word for it did exist, there existed no digit with its value. Rather, on the rare occasions where 1 is used in surviving Daevite mathematics, the word is spelled out using the usual orthography rather than being represented numerically.

A list of Daevite digits is provided below.


The following are examples of various attested numbers written using the system. Note: due to numbers being expressed through multiplication of prime factors, the order in which the digits are written up-to-down is meaningless17. Order matters only where prime numbers are written using the heptimal subsystem.

Number (Arabic numerals) Number (Daevite numerals) Daevite pronunciation Literal translation
Lok kafšan kut Five with eleven
Tu átu mán kut Three with third two
Mán mán kut mán kut átu tu kut tu kut xafak kut Two with two with two with three-with-three-with-three-with seventeen

Sample Text

Text found on the empty Tomb of Duvtaen, thought to be a Daevonian general from a fragmented period in Daevite civilization.

Ádaevavaon deág tai. Ṭeukmsae tai. Duvtaen tai. Ápádnfeut leux xipove tai.

Tiálḳ eá tai sagosá pádnfeut. Teátenen tihazu18. Komitenen tiḳáfá.

Tiálḳ ṭá timosu tai. Maixe ṭaulofai sákefe deágenfai. Daošre saṭáfige ápádnfeut ba.

I am a soldier of Daevon. I am its weapon. I am Duvtaen. I am called (by you) Child of our City.

Our city sent me to war. I destroyed many19 beasts. I enslaved many Komis20.

I died in war. My soldiers set my grave here. The wrath of our city will strike at any intruder.

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