Vilani (language)

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The Vilani (language) is primarily used by the Vilani race throughout the Third Imperium supra-polity.

  • It is a main language used throughout the majority Charted Space -- especially territories of the former Ziru Sirka.

Description (Specifications)[edit]

No information yet available.

Image Repository[edit]

  1. Vilani is the ancient language of the Vilani people, the first human spacefarers!
    Vilani-Language-T5-Cards-RESIZE-Marc-Miller 15-Sept-2019d.jpg


Vilani is an ergative, agglutinative language, with bound morphemes on the verb indicating case and aspects of the agent, patient, and object. Some analytic features, typically inherited from Old High Vilani, include helper words indicating mood. There are also some synthetic/fusional features, inherited from Archaic Vilani.

The language is basically head-initial and right-branching. There are two basic sentence types: transitive and intransitive. Transitive sentences consist of a Verb, an Agent which performs the action of the verb, a Patient which is the recipient of the action, and an optional dative or benefactive Object (for use with things like prepositional phrases). Intransitive sentences consist of a Verb, a Subject to which the verb applies, and the optional dative or benefactive Object as mentioned above. In both cases, the verb contains much of the information regarding the relationship between the subject and objects of the sentence.


Morphology is the study of the internal structure of words.

  • Ergativity: Vilani is ergative in its surface structure as well as its underlying syntax structure, meaning that its grammar treats the object of transitive verbs and the subject of intransitive verbs the same, while the subject of transitive verbs is marked in a different fashion.
  • This is in contrast with Anglic and most other commonly known Terran languages (one widely-spoken exception being Hindi), where the object of transitive verbs is marked in one way (”accusative”) and the subjects and agents of both transitive and intransitive verbs are lumped together into another grammatical category (”nominative”). Ergativity may also be viewed as treating agenthood, rather than patienthood, as the noteworthy or “marked” category.
  • The person, proximity, and animacy (but not number) of the “theme participant” (i.e., subject of intransitive verb, object/patient of a transitive verb) are encoded in the verb itself. In addition, the relative degree of animacy between the patient and the agent is also marked in transitive verbs (only).


Phonology, the study of the sound systems of a language.

  • Tone: Vilani is a tonal language, meaning that tone patterns make specific changes to words. In particular, tones effect both nouns and verbs. Tone patterns represent combinations of high and low pitched syllables within the Vilani word. There are six tonal patterns used in the Vilani language.
  • Certain physical structures and tone are often interchangeable, and usually represent registers of speech rather than grammatical differences.


Grammar is the structure of a language.

  • Vilani is ergative and agglutinative, with some synthetic (fusional) aspects, and some analytic aspects. It basically has a Verb – Subject – Object (VSO) word order.


Syntax is the study of how words combine to form grammatical sentences.

  • Examples: Intransitive sentences:

1. Leshaa Eneri. Eneri runs.

Leshaa: he-runs

le-: he/she does it

shaa: runs

2. Leshaana Eneri ka duraag. Eneri runs to market.

Leshaana: he-runs-to

-na: ‘to’ prepositional marker

ka duraag: (to) market

ka: flag indicating the start of a dative or benefactive object phrase.

Examples: Transitive sentences:
1. Kikdishaa Enerigim argu. Eneri eats argu.

Kikdishaa: he eats it

ki-: it is being eaten

-k-: he/she is doing the eating

Enerigim: Eneri-does-it

-gim: Eneri is the agent, performing the action

2. Kikdishaani Enerigim argu ka duraag. Eneri eats argu at (the) market.

Kikdishaani: he-eats-it-at

-ni: ‘in, at, on’ prepositional marker

ka duraag: (at) market

ka: flag indicating the start of a dative or benefactive object phrase.


Historical Language Tree for Vland.

Etymologies: Vilani is the only surviving member of the only surviving branch of a typical human language tree.

  • Elements of extinct languages from Vland can be detected in the Vilani lexicon today. For example, words with syllables ending in /b/ or /l/, are almost all borrowed from Chekaal, a cousin of Archaic Vilani. Words with an /h/ (except for /ch/, /kh/, and /sh/) and words ending in /z/ are borrowings from the extremely ancient and long extinct Dirmani people. Finally, words with syllables ending in /kh/ are borrowings from the Sazrak language family.
  • Words which have /t/, /ch/, and /o/ in them are Archaic forms of modern Vilani words (which usually use /d/, /kh/, and /aa/ respectively).
  • Of particular interest is with words with the syllable /-khal-/, which appear to have originally been Sazrak words which were borrowed by the conquering Chekaal, which were then borrowed into Archaic Vilani.


See Vilani Lexicon

A lexicon is the word supply of a language.

  • Pre-Vilani Borrowings:


amusement                               rishnub
archive; data library (official)        dub-lar
fabric                                  palkhur
flock, group, herd ?                    khaalab
help, to_                               khuulab
house, dwelling                         sakhal < Sazrak
new                                     khal < Sazrak
incisor                                 dakhaamab
jet                                     akhrul < Sazrak
language                                pukhal < Sazrak
material                                palkhur
name (esp. of non-human objects?)       sakhel < Sazrak
scar, to_                               khul
sharp                                   makhbil < Sazrak
tusk                                    dakhammab
tree, willow-like_                      khaluppu


duke 'under-king'                       sarpuhii
subordinate                             khaz
beautiful, be_                          lamaz


close (of distance? opposite of open?)  akhlu 
error                                   riikh
fold, to_                               akhlaash
form (existential)                      adrakh
fume, to_                               akhrula
hammer, to_                             duraakh
hand                                    naakh
house, dwelling                         sakhla
new                                     akhla
idiot                                   pakh
jet                                     akhlu
language                                pukhla
man, male                               nidakh
name (esp. of non-human objects?)       sakhle
quick, be_                              dekh
repay, to_                              mukh
repeat, to_                             dakh
sharp                                   makhbi
splendid, magnificent, be_              makh
syllabary, traditional Vilani_          Ruuraakh
thin                                    bakh
untie, to_                              dukh
vat or vessel for beer                  lakhdan
yield, to_                              gaakh
grasslike plant, desert/dryland_        dikh

Archaic Vilani:

fanatic                                 khutak


Semantics is the study of the meaning of words (lexical semantics), and how these combine to form the meanings of sentences.

  • Example: Using Topicalization to Answer Questions:

Q. Kikhugashna baan ka Eneri? What happened to Eneri?

Ki-khugash-na: it-happened-to

ki-: done by an inanimate thing

khugash: intransitive verb ‘to happen’

-na: ‘to’ prepositional case

baan: what?

Ka Eneri: (to) Eneri

ka: relational case marker.

A. Liraamgim leskhugash. An air/raft hit (the person in question).


Pragmatics is the study of how language is used by its speakers.

  • Presupposition, implicature, deixis

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

Historical Linguistics: Archaic Vilani became a major language of Vland long before the Vilani began interstellar travel. The language developed as the Vilani consolidated their holdings into the First Imperium, and the language adapted to some degree to non-humans as well.

Archaic Vilani[edit]

Archaic Vilani (A.V.) was an inflected language, meaning it used one inflection on the verb to convey case, tense, aspect, and mood. A.V. used a prefix inflection. Vast tables catalogued this often convoluted and complicated prefix. The literary form of A.V. often differed greatly from that commonly spoken.


Some verb inflections:

  Sek-   I
  Sed-   I (negative)
  Gak-   I (expansive)
  Gad-   I (negative & expansive)
  Mak-   I (diminutive)
  Mad-   I (negative & diminutive)
  Nak-   I (diminutive & cooperative/reciprocal)
  Nad-   I (negative, diminutive, and cooperative/reciprocal)
  Naa-   I (negative, diminutive, cooperative, and dative)
  Nai-   I (negative, diminutive, cooperative, and prescriptive)
  Nalai- I (negative, diminutive, cooperative, prescriptive future)
  Nilae- I (negative, diminutive, cooperative, dative, prescriptive, mirative past)

...and so on.

  Shar, to slip (AV)
  Sekshar, I slip.
  Sesshar, I do not slip (-dsh becomes -ssh).
  Nasshar, I do not cause myself to slightly slip.
  Nilaeshar, I did not cause this minor slippage for myself, you know.

...and so on.

Old High Vilani[edit]

Over a thousand years, literary A.V. became increasingly relegated to the court scribes, as Vland was reaching for the stars. Possessed by a grand sense of purpose, grammarians in the Ziru Sirka codified the spoken form of the language, removing or absorbing grammatical differences into the language of the First Imperium. Common helper words were elevated to replace most of the old inflections, completing the evolution to Old High Vilani. This language in many ways resembles the current "Khal" trade cants.


  Se,     I
  Mara,   small
  D(u),   not / do not, directly prefixed to verb
  Naa,    cooperative/reciprocal, sometimes suffixed to verb
  Khe,    prescriptive "that which should be -"
  Mu,     mirative
  Zad,    before / in the past
  Essha, to slip (OHV)
  Se mara desshanaa zad khe mu.  
  "I minorly didn't-slip-up-myself like I ought to have done in the past, you know."
  Zad mu naa dessha-mara se khe.      
  "Before, of course, the small-self-induced non-slip-up is what I ought to have done."

Standard Vilani[edit]

Bureaux formal language continued to evolve, gradually setting the specific order of helper clitics, then eroding them and sticking them to the verb, resulting in Standard Vilani (S.V.). S.V. today is the formal commercial language of the Vilani worlds and megacorporations. In the Third Imperium, its status is second only to Anglic.

Language Families of Vland[edit]

All dates are 3rd Imperium baseline

Dirmani (-15,000?)
  • Bolsa (-13,500?)
Sazrak (-12,000)
Bholrak (-12,000)
Orrakil (-10,000)
Kaalan (-13,000)
Chekaal (-11,000)
Umshi Chekaal (-9,500)("West Chekaal")
Chekaalseras (-9,000) ("North Chekaal")
Archaic Vilani (-11,000)
Old High Vilani (-5,000)
Khal (substrate I)
Standard Vilani (-2,500)
Khal (substrate II)
Caraz (-2,100) (Isolate at Caraz (Trojan Reach 2306))


Khal is a "Trade Vilani" language dialect. It represents a holdover of the trade cants based on Old High Vilani, borrowing heavily from Standard Vilani's vocabulary.

  • Also called Karak Bilanidin ('Trade Vilani'), Gurek, Segureke, and even the Old High Vilani word Gurib, this is an analytic form of Standard Vilani used on the "frontier" (i.e. any town or world which doesn't have an indigenous Vilani population).
  • Khal isn't any one particular entity; it describes a number of pidgins and simplifications of Vilani which are found scattered across the Imperium. Therefore, it's more of a descriptive term than a language name. However, since all varieties of Khal share the Vilani lexicon, they tend to be at least somewhat mutually decipherable.
  • In its purest form, Khal uses actual Vilani words, in very simple sentences, with an Anglic grammar. In its basest form, Khal uses Vilanicized Anglic-derived words.
  • Khal tends to be analytic; in this respect, it resembles Old High Vilani.
  • Khal has a few inflected forms; in this respect, it may be part of the evolution of Standard Vilani into its next phase.

Khal Structure[edit]

Khal is typically Subject - Verb - Object, with ways to change the order for emphasis.

Verbs sometimes use a suffix to inflect for tense, aspect, and mood.

Khal Examples[edit]

  (Se) Karak shalap.         I trade in shalap.
  Di karak shalap.           You trade in shalap. 
  Menerii karak shalap.      You and I trade in shalap.
  Menerii karak-khaa shalap. Let's trade shalaps.
  Shalap karak-kaam.         Shalap is traded (here).
  (Se) Karak-i shalap.       I did trade in shalap.
  (Se) Karak-u shalap.       I will trade in shalap.
  Di.        : you
  -I.        : past tense 
  -Kaam.     : prescriptive/passive "it-is-done"; used to topicalize object
  Karak.     : trade something
  -Khaa.     : desiderative ("let's go!")
  Menerii.   : we (you and I)
  Se.        : I
  Shalap     : a pig-like animal
  -U.        : future tense

Worlds & Sectors (Astrography)[edit]

This language is primarily in use in the following areas:
Charted Space:


The homeworld of this language is:

World Listing[edit]

This language is known to be in use on the following systems and worlds:

No world articles for Vilani (language)


This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.