|Region||Riden Peninsula, Western Assai, Memu|
|850 million (5994)|
|Kai Sign Language|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Imperial Institute of the Kai Language|
The earliest forms of Kai, a set of Kan-Kaijin dialects known collectively as Proto-Kai, was spoken in the Kanosphere Highlands between -2400 Ʋ and -2700 Ʋ. The Kai languages were introduced to the Riden Peninsula during the 31st century Ʋ. The varieties of Kai spoken on the regions east of the Shiamori Mountains developed into the Eastern Kai languages. The set of dialects spoken by the Kaijin under the Alawazi Empire during the 39th century Ʋ, are called Riddish, which is widely regarded as the precursor to Old Kai. Old Kai developed around the 43rd century Ʋ following the Kan invasion and subsequent occupation of Kaishuri and other Riden states by the Chen dynasty. Classical Kai, a preserved form of Old Kai using Kan logographic characters, developed during and after the Chen dynasty, and continues to influence modern Kai literature, writing, philosophy, and vocabulary. Middle Kai refers to the Kai language spoken around 5000 Ʋ during the Northern Lushu dynasty, which later evolved into Early Modern Kai during the decline and collapse of the Greater Kai Empire in 5706 Ʋ. Modern Standard Kai refers to the language, including its dialects, as it has been spoken since the Kai Interregnum era.
Morphologically, Kai is an agglutinative language that utilizes vowel harmony. It is a mora-timed language that features phonemic distinctions in vowel and consonant length. Kai is a predominantly head-initial language with follows the basic word order of subject–object–verb (SOV). Kai has extensive declension for nouns, and has eleven different grammatical cases. Verbs are conjugated based on tense, voice, person, aspect, and mood. It lacks a grammatical gender, although Old Kai once had three genders: animate, inanimate, and neuter. Kai utilizes a system of honorifics for pronouns, verbs, and vocabulary to distinguish varying degrees of social status of the speaker, familiarity, age, courtesy, politeness, and social distance.
Kai is a Kai–Meridian language and belongs to the Eastern Kai language group of the Kai languages. About 40% of all speakers of Eastern Kai languages speak Kai. It is generally distinguished from other Eastern Kai languages as the Eastern Riden Kai language or less commonly as Kaishurian. Its closest living relative is Low Kai, which has a moderate degree of mutual intelligibility between speakers of the two languages. Old Kai originated from Proto-Kai, which is widely considered as the ancestral language for Kai, all other varieties of the Eastern Kai languages, the Western Kai languages, Cadisian, and Assai. Kai, Southern Coastal Kai, Jaikai, and Low Kai are closely related, and are sometimes grouped together as the Trans-Shiamorian Kai languages, given their close proximity with one another and shared histories, as they descended directly from the common ancestor, Riddish. A number of dialects of Old Kai and Middle Kai diverged into new languages, including Jayudi and Namai.
The Kai alphabet is an alphabetical writing system used to transcribe modern Kai language. It was invented by Emperor Jüzdakev in 4536 Ʋ during the Greater Kai Empire's early reforms. The alphabet is derived from the Old Kai script, which was a syllabary adapted from an impure abjad form of Classical Korati. Historically, Kan logograms were used extensively in Kai writing and over 75% of Kai vocabulary derives from Kan words that were introduced and written in such logograms. Although the prevalence and use of Kan characters in Modern Kai has declined significantly since the restoration of the Empire, they occasionally appear in academic and journalistic writings, and older literary works. In addition, Kan characters are still used in Imperial Kai and is prevalent during Kan-influenced celebrations and ceremonies.
The following chart features the Kai alphabets in traditional typeface (larger) and the modern font (smaller), the corresponding Bersanized letter, and the name of the letter in Kai.
|Nasal||⟨m⟩ [m]||⟨n⟩ [n̪]||⟨nh⟩ [ɲ]||⟨ng⟩ [ŋ]|
|Plosive||voiceless||⟨p⟩ [p]||⟨t⟩ [t̪]||⟨c⟩ [c]||⟨k⟩ [k]|
|voiced||⟨b⟩ [b]||⟨d⟩ [d̪]||⟨gh⟩ [ɟ]||⟨g⟩ [ɡ]|
|Affricate||Voiceless||⟨ch⟩ [t͡ʃ]||⟨ch⟩ [t͡ɕ]|
|Voiced||⟨j⟩ [d͡ʒ]||⟨j⟩ [d͡ʑ]|
|Fricative||voiceless||⟨f⟩ [f]||⟨š⟩ [s̪]||⟨s⟩ [ʃ]||⟨š⟩ [ɕ]||⟨kh⟩ [x]||⟨h⟩ [h]|
|voiced||⟨v⟩ [v]||⟨z⟩ [z̪]||⟨j⟩ [ʒ]||⟨j⟩ [ʑ]|
|Approximant||⟨l⟩ [ɫ̪]||⟨l⟩ [l̠]||⟨y⟩ [j]||⟨w⟩ [ɰ]|
- /m, p, b/ are bilabial, where as /f, v/ vary between bilabial and labiodental.
- The main allophone of /f/ is [f]. It is realized as bilabial [ɸ] when /f/ occurs before the rounded vowels /y, u, ø, o/ and occasionally word finally after the aforementioned vowels.
- Before /i/, /s, t/ are alveolo-palatal [ɕ, t͡ɕ], and /d, z/ are either neutralized as [ʑ, d͡ʑ] or distinct as [ʑ] and [d͡ʑ] respectively. Before /u/, /t/ is [t͡s], and /d/ is either merged with /z/ as free variation between [z] and [d͡z] or always [d͡z] distinct from /z/. When geminated, however, /z/ is always [d͡z].
- /n, t, d, s, z/ are dental [n̪, t̪, d̪, s̪, z̪], /ɫ/ is velarized dental [ɫ̪], /ɾ/ is alveolar [ɾ], whereas /l/ is palatalized post-alveolar [l̠ʲ].
- Syllable-initial /p, t, c, k/ are usually aspirated.
The vowels of the Kai language are alphabetically arranged as follows: ⟨a⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨y⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨u⟩, and ⟨o⟩, and are the first five letters of the complete Kai alphabet set. Diphthongs are not found in standard Kai, but are found in certain dialects, such as the Kachai region where [aɪ̯, oʊ̯, eɪ̯, aʊ̯] may all be realized when two vowels are next to each other rather than each vowel retaining their individual sound as it is in standard Kai.
|Close||⟨i⟩ [i]||⟨u⟩ [y]||⟨ü⟩ [ɯ]||⟨ü⟩ [u]|
|Open||⟨e⟩ [e]~[ɛ]||⟨e⟩ [œ]||⟨a⟩ [a]||⟨o⟩ [o]|
- /e, o, œ/ are phonetically mid [e̞, o̞, ø̞].
- Most speakers lower /e/ to [ɛ] if it forms a rime with the consonants /d, k, t/.
- /a/ is central [ä], but it is generally realized as back [ɑ] when it precedes the consonants /g, h, n/.
- /u/ is a close near-back vowel with the lips unrounded ([ɯ̟]) or compressed ([ɯ̟ᵝ]). When compressed, it is pronounced with the side portions of the lips in contact but with no salient protrusion. In conversational speech, compression may be weakened or completely dropped.
- /i, y, ɯ, u, e, ø/ (but not /o, a/) are lowered to [ɪ, ʏ, ɯ̞, ʊ, ɛ, œ] in environments variously described as "final open syllable of a phrase".
Kai words are traditionally conceptualized as being composed of morae rather than syllables, with each mora functioning as isochronic units that are perceived with having the same time value. Nonetheless, words can be divided into syllables. Most mora consists of a vowel (V), a consonant and a vowel (CV), or certain consonants. Modern Kai generally follows the phonotactic structures of (C)(C)V(C) or (C)V(C). Kai syllabication utilizes maximal coda rule, dividing syllables as C.CV or V.CV. Although Kai words can take multiple final consonants, they are relatively rare and generally originate from Old Kai or foreign loanwords. The only consonants which exist in native Kai words as independent mora (and thus appear alone as an onset or a coda) are: ⟨d⟩, ⟨g⟩, ⟨h⟩, ⟨j⟩, ⟨k⟩, ⟨l⟩, ⟨m⟩, ⟨n⟩, ⟨r⟩, ⟨s⟩, ⟨t⟩, ⟨v⟩, and ⟨z⟩. Foreign loanwords from other languages may occasionally be rendered and pronounced with marginal, special mora for the remaining consonants within the Kai alphabet: ⟨b⟩, ⟨c⟩, ⟨f⟩, ⟨p⟩, ⟨q⟩, and ⟨w⟩. A limited number of consonant clusters also exist in Kai, although only ⟨š⟩ (sh) and ⟨ž⟩ (zh) exist as individual morae. Complex onsets are limited, and most Old Kai words which utilized such combinations have since been broken through the inclusion of a vowel in front of them. Certain complex onsets (CCVC) such as "ts-", "ch-", or "pr-" continue to be used, and precede the nucleus. Similarly, a limited amount of complex coda are permitted (CVCC), although codas themselves are rarely pronounced in modern Kai due to extreme phonetic changes since the Later Middle Kai period. Most words which had these unpronounced or reduced codas have had their spellings change to either omit the consonants or append a vowel at the end (and thus alter its pronunciation) during the standardization of Modern Kai under the Kai Interregnum.
The following are the phonotactic constraints in standard Kai:
- All syllables have a nucleus.
- The onset is optional which may generally consist of a single consonant, although it can have a maximum of two consonants: a plosive or an affricate, followed by an approximant.
- The nucleus is obligatory and must be a syllabic vowel.
- No diphthongs in standard Kai.
- No word-initial /ɰ/ or /ŋ/.
- /n/ may be realized as /ŋ/ in certain dialects of Kai however, especially among youth subcultures.
- /b, c, f, p, ts, q, w/ cannot form the coda.
Kai is an agglutinative language with an extensive level of inflection that manifests mainly in the form of affixes although postpositional particles, topic markers, and other grammatical features are also present to convey the relation and function of words in a sentence. Kai word order is predominantly subject–object–verb language and is structured with a nominative–accusative morphosyntactic alignment.
Kai verbs are conjugated to indicate tense (present, past, future, and aorist), person, voice, mood (conditional, imperative, interrogative, inferential, necessitative, subjunctive, optative, admirative, potential, and desiderative), and aspect. Negation is indicated by the prefix yo- in conjunction with the suffix -(a)ni / before the verb.
|Progressive||-(e)to||gurameton||"I am in the process of coming"|
|Necessitative||-(i)naga||guranagan||"I must come"|
|Negative||-(a)ni||yoguranin||"I do not come"|
|Impotential||-(e)ma||guraman||"I cannot come"|
|Future||-(e)ša||gurašan||"I will come"|
|Inferential Past||-(o)mo||guramon||"It seems that I came"|
|Present/Imperfective||-(a)yaga||gurayagan||"I am coming"|
|Perfective/Definite Past||-(a)da||guradan||"I came"|
|Conditional||-(a)se||gurasen||"if only I came"|
|Imperative||-(e)ka||gurakan||"let me come"|
|Interrogative||-(e)ne||guranen||"Did I come?"|
|Inferential||-(a)dene||guradenen||"It is said I came"|
|Subjunctive||-(o)tada||guratadan||"I would come"|
|Optative||-(e)ya||gurayan||"I want/hope to come (sometime)"|
|Admirative||-(h)otasa||gurahotasan||"I apparently have come"|
|Desiderative||-(h)ataka||gurahatakan||"I want to come"|
Nearly all Kai verbs are conjugated the same way, with each containing the enclitic copula -mek or -ma (to be) in their default, infinitive form. There are a few irregular and defective verbs that exist in modern Kai, most of which do not end with the aforementioned endings in their infinitive forms.
The modern standard Kai language features eleven grammatical cases, which is four more than the number found in Old Kai. Generally, nouns and pronouns form case clitics and differ between words ending with vowels and words ending with consonants. Certain dialects, such as High Imperial Kai retain additional cases such as terminative, while others do not use certain cases (substituting them with standalone grammatical markers or prepositions). Unlike Old Kai, modern Kai nouns lack a gender system, with all but one modern Kai noun case endings originate from Old Kai's animate gendered cases. The vocative case endings -ne () and -ani () originate from the Old Kai neuter form for the vocative case ending, -na ().
of the country/tree
||some/part of this country/tree|
||(give) to the country/tree|
||(going) to the country/tree|
||from the country/tree|
|Locative||-deyse (inanimate)/-idey kise (animate)
||in the country/on the tree|
||(using) with this country/tree|
||(together) with this country/tree|
Like Old Kai, modern Kai does not feature a definite article, but unlike its older form, the use of the Old Kai indefinite article ë , is also largely absent from modern Kai except for certain nouns.
Naradi! Amorim Jarim va bin da Kaishurideyse sikašaran.
Naradi! Amori-m Jarim va bin da Kaishuri-deyse sikašaran.
EXCLAM NOM-1.SBJ 1.PRO CNJ 1.PRO.TOP PTC FOC-LOC PRS
Hello! Name-my Jarim and I (am) Kaishuri-in live.
'Hello! My name is Jarim and I live in Kaishuri.'