“Watch this video. A European woman who speaks Arabic translates what the Muslim migrants were saying when they thought she didn’t understand their language. (thanks to Armaros)”

Finally, the mainstream (of anti-Muslims) is beginning to understand the REAL issue. Demanding that e.g. Turks give up their own language, like PEGIDA does, requires proof that Turks are up to no good, which in turn requires most Germans knowing Turkish, putting the horse behind the carriage.

Nieuw Rechts, a Dutch little party around 2003, demanded that mosques shouldn’t use Arabic in preaching. Same fallacy.

HOWEVER, Dutch prisons forbid speaking Turkish and Arabic, so it can be done in practice. They cannot say this in public, as this prison policy cannot defended using the prevailing ethical system of anti-racism.

Conlangs and Cultural Appropriation

Many conlangers like to exoticize their language by adding non-European features. But this betrays the same Eurocentric bias as Esperanto does. Esperanto was meant to be a Human language, but ended up as an European language. Klingon was meant to be a non-Human language, but deliberately takes features from non-European languages. The same underlying assumption is that Human = European. The very notion of “exotic” is generally understood to be racist and Eurocentric.

On top of this, is the very fact of taking features of e.g. Dahalo not an act of cultural appropriation? Under the usual rules, yes. This makes about any attempt at constructing languages by people having white privilege thoroughly racist, if not White Supremacist. Think of it, geeks!


Sharpan tul? – just another way of saying ‘Fekas?’
Yutlab? – asked when the person has had some tough experience recently and you want to ask politely if they’re OK.

Chesh, …! Atraduk? – this is a very informal way of greeting a close friend or anyone who you see on a regular basis and you want to ask has anything happened since you last met.

Chesh, …! Sharpuk? – the same as above with a difference that you’re probably not that interested in what news the other person might have.

Chesh, …! Thillak ekta! – used when you haven’t seen the person for a long period of time and you want to state that fact in the greeting.

Chesh, …! Kurtapan? – just a standard enquiry with little or no direct meaning.

Yorpathil…? – a typical way of asking something that might be a slightly personal question.

Ladukuth… – a very handy way to start making your point if you’re not sure how to begin the sentence.

Comment: Courtesy to Robby Kukurs for collecting these common phrases.


{the message below was relayed to the Conlang list in June of 1994}

  Amsterdam, 2 June 1994

  To the respondents of message 5.429  re: Unknown Language.

  A month ago, I sent a summary and some additional info to
  LINGUIST, concerning the Unknown language X or Spocanian.
  Due to their considerable lengths, my messages were *not*
  posted to the entire list, and it took several weeks before
  the moderators informed me about this decision, and they
  suggested to put the messages on the listserv, making them
  retrievable by those who want them.
  In order to avoid extra delay, I have decided to send these
  "retrievable messages" directly to you.


  Rolandt Tweehuysen


                      ---== AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE ==---

I posted a [semi-]query several weeks back asking for some morphosyntactic
and semantic information concerning a number of data from the "unknown"
language X. The main issues in this query are quoted below:

>In language X, I encountered the following opposition:
>a. Do byte sener sour.         b. Do byte sener sourr.
>   he beats his sister            he beats his sister to death
>a. Eup piylase ef kornin.      b. Eup piylase ef korninn.
>   she tears the paper            she tears the paper in pieces
>a. Kirro larde ef toriyst.     b. Kirro larde ef toriysst.
>   we eat [of] the cake           we eat up the [entire] cake
>All objects in the a-sentences differ in the same way from all objects
>in the b-sentences. I wonder which rule(s) could be responsible
>for the orthographical (or: morphological) and semantic differences
>between the a-objects and b-objects.
>In the same language X, the following clauses have to be translated
>in the following way (o~ = o-apostrophe; a^ = a-circumflex):
>Gress stinde eft letra.         'I am writing a letter.'
>Gress eft letra stinde.         'I have written a letter'.
>Stinde gress eft letra.         'I will write a letter'.
>Do arkette.                     'He is crying.'
>Do arketta.                     'He was crying.'
>Arkette do.                     'He will cry.'
>Tek kette ef mimpit o~n Lerdu.  'Tek gives the book to Lerdu.'
>Ef mimpit kettelije pai Tek o~n Lerdu.
>the book is given by Tek to Lerdu
>Lerdu kettelita^ pai Tek enn ef mimpit.
>Lerdu is given by Tek OBJ the book  (OBJ = object marker)
>Za^lbinaselita^ do pai gress enn ef letra.
>send by OBJ the letter
>"He will be sent by me the letter"
>for expressing tense and voice.
>In language X, the following constructions are possible
>(y" = y-diaeresis/umlaut):
>Gress koldre-tija^ ef tjoka^s.   'I throw away the bread.'
>Ef tjoka^s melde tval.           'The bread is mouldy.'
>Gress ma koldre-tija^ ef tjoka^s, ef meltilo~me tval.
>'I throw away the bread, because it is mouldy.'
>Eup lorertavy eft kleter oto.      'She wants to buy a new car.'
>Eup lelperre ny"f smurf.           'She has no money.'
>Eup ker lorertavy eft kleter oto, eup lelperrilo~me ny"f smurf.
>'She wants to buy a new car, though she has no money.'
>Do ytende beri prate helkara Frakas.
>'He intends to leave for France.'
>Gress nert tiffe hojelka.   'I do not know when.'
>Do tur ytende beri prate helkara Frakas, gress nert tiffilo~me hojelka.
>'He intends to leave for France, but I do not know when.'
>What kind of morphosyntactic processes are responsible for the formation
>of subordinate clauses, and how is the semantic relationship between matrix
clause and subordinate clause established?
>Is it possible to identify language X (name? family? area?).


It was neither my intention to ridicule linguistics (why should I? It is 
my own profession and pastime) nor to make a fool of linguists, in the 
hope that they would waste their valuable time and put their reputation 
at stake in an attempt to identify the nature of language X. I was of an 
opinion that IF a reader of my message would feel inclined to answer my 
questions, (s)he at least would have some doubts concerning the existence 
of X. And indeed, most respondents apprehended that there was something 
"wrong" with X, judging by remarks like "I don't think these data come 
from a natural language", "This is wonderful! Especially if language X 
really exists [..]", "'Money' is 'smurf'? Smurf??? Pull the other one!", 
"So what is the real answer?", "But what is the point of the game? I hope 
you'll post the solution on the List soon", "I would be grateful if you 
can vouch for the data (genuine not invented) [..]", "Yours skeptically, 
[..]", "[..] the end of your message implicates that you know what it 
[=X] is".

My intention was for you to take part in the game, and in doing so I 
preferred unprejudiced answers, without the reader being sure that X is 
an invention. Therefore I chose to withold the fact that there is *no* 
community in the world where language X actually is, or ever has been, 
spoken. And so I naturally could not reveal X's real name: Spocanian (no 
relation with the town Spokane in the state of Washington. The name 
"Spocanian" will be explained in my next message). Unlike its 
predecessors (and probably also its descendants) which either are 
constructed as a worldwide lingua franca in order to facilitate 
communication in a language which is nobody's mother tongue (Esperanto 
has shown that this does not work), or are invented as an inherent part 
of some novel or film (Vorlin, Klingon, Tolkien's languages), Spocanian 
was constructed for the sake of the language itself. This does not mean 
that this language is an isolated phenomenon. Since it is my principle 
that the language should look as natural as possible (this was in fact 
tested by my query), I cannot deny the existence of a culture, religion, 
climate, geography, history and so on, all things affecting the lexicon 
and probably also the syntax of any natural language. That is why 
Spocanian is spoken in Spocania, by Spocanians. The whole concept has 
attracted a lot of attention in the Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian 
media, though there the emphasis has always been more on the history, 
geography, culture and tourist attractions of Spocania than on its 
language, due to the general opinion that language is boring, let alone 
linguistics. The peak of the interest I encountered was formed by a 
request from a Dutch publishing house to write an illustrated travel 
guide about Spocania, presenting this country as a reality in doing so. 
This book, _Uit in Spokanie - nooit weg_ (a pun that may be translated as 
"Out in Spocania is In"), provoked many reactions, most of them positive,
but there are always readers who think they have discovered the most 
unspoilt holiday destination on earth and are then disappointed that no 
atlas can tell them where this is found. Spocania is, by the way, not a 
paradise, for "real" countries are never Utopias.

Spocanian is the result of almost 35 years of playing around with grammar
rules and etymology, and is not intended as a follow-up of a language 
like Esperanto. In fact, Spocanian is not able to be this, for its 
morphology, syntax, pragmatics, pronunciation and lexicon are too complex 
and have an undesirable quantity of irregularities, as seems to be 
inherent in most natural languages. At this moment, its grammar consists 
of approx. 1500 pages, and its dictionary contains over 25,000 entries, 
with a lot of idiom, proverbs and untranslatable words (often referring 
to Spocanian culture). It took approx. 25 years to complete the Spocanian 
grammarbook, and if a linguist accepts the fact that everything in this 
grammar has been invented intuitively, creatively and practically without 
any linguistic background, one also has to accept that all these data can 
be analysed within a specific linguistic framework, in order to determine 
to what extent this language is "possible". This is what I do from time 
to time, and what several readers of my previous query have been doing. 
Note (to give a concrete example) that I "invented" the *resultative 
aspect* (explained below) 10-15 years ago, at a time when I had not 
studied linguistics yet. Don't ask me WHY I adopted something like a 
resultative aspect, and WHY this is primarily expressed by changing the 
stress in the object noun. For me it was only natural to say _do piylase 
ef kornIn_ (stress on the final i) in order to express 'he tears the 
paper in pieces' when _do piylase ef kOrnin_ (stress on o) has the 
unmarked (atelic) meaning 'he tears/is tearing the paper'.

To me it has always been self-evident that a past tense should be 
expressed by placing the object before the verb, as in: _do Elsa zerfe_ 
'he saw/has seen Elsa' (cf. _do zerfe Elsa_ 'he sees Elsa'), or to have 
something like *ideo-antonyms*, used in questions like _aftel do melde 
bo^lf?_ 'how tall is he?', literally meaning "is he tall|short?" (_aftel_ 
is an interrogative particle). The answer has to be something like "6 
ft", but never _do melde hupster_ 'he is tall or _do melde belt_ 'he is 
short'. Compare the questions _aftel do melde hupster?_ 'is he tall?' 
(answer: YES or NO) or _do melde kol hupster?_ 'how tall is he?' 
(implying that he has a considerable length). All those rules are at 
least 15-20 years old, they have been established in a grammarbook, and 
now it is time to analyse them. My only problem is: art and literature 
are commonly accepted as products of creativity and intuition. They are 
regarded as autonomous, and are thus suitable as an object of study. A 
language like Spocanian, however, is *not* commonly accepted as such, and
the question whether it can be an object of study is [still] 
controversial. Those who have analysed my Spocanian data have contributed 
to my attempts to get Spocanian accepted as a serious creative product. 

Many of my colleagues in the Department of General Linguistics at the 
University of Amsterdam do take a serious interest in Spocania[n], 
balanced by both humour and criticism. This attitude has encouraged me to 
send out my query, although I am aware that not everyone will appreciate 
my approach of the Spocanian concept. Still, I did not receive any 
unfavourable reactions in this respect, apart from a well-known linguist 
in Holland (aware that language X was Spocanian), who thought that "I had 
gone too far" by posting my E-mail query. I received 8 answers in total, 
and will give a summary of the information I got. In a next message, I 
will explain more about Spocanian as well as the area where it is spoken. 
But let me first thank the following people for their responses:

Carl Alphonce
Picus Sizhi Ding
Jacques Guy 
Hartmut Haberland
Kate Kearns 
Erika Mitchell
John Nerbonne
Hella Olbertz

and all my colleagues who preferred a personal communication rather than
sending an E-mail.


                      ---== DIACRITICAL CONVENTION ==---

English is exceptional in that it is the only European language (and one 
of the very few languages in the world) that does not use any diacritical 
signs. Because of this, the entire world has to put up with "handicapped" 
computers, unable to produce letters with diacritical signs in a natural 
and simple way. It seems that English-speaking computer designers have 
never been aware of the fact that there are hundreds of other languages 
that have to be written on computer keyboards too. Spocanian is one of 
them, and I suggest the following solution to arrive at the necessary 
diacritical letters (WP= WordPerfect Character table; PM = HewlettPackard 
Character set PC-850; PE = PC-852 Latin2):

a^ = a Circumflex          (ASCII 131; WP 1,29; PM 131)
d^ = d Caron (Hachek)      (WP 1,105)
e~ = e Apostrophe Above
e" = e Diaeresis (Umlaut)  (ASCII 137; WP 1,45; PM 137)
n~ = n Acute               (WP 1,155; PE 228)
o^ = o Circumflex          (ASCII 147; WP 1,61; PM 147)
o~ = o Apostrophe Above
s^ = s Caron (Hachek)      (WP 1,177; PE 231)
u^ = u Circumflex          (ASCII 150; WP 1,69; PM 150)
y" = y Diaeresis (Umlaut)  (ASCII 152; WP 1,75; PM 152)

Note that I use ~ for both apostrophe and acute, instead of '. This is done
because ' is already used in Spocanian orthography: it stands for a glottal
stop, and is written between two vowels (without ', a bilabial w, like in
English, would be pronounced in between two vowels, though this is not
written. Cf.: mia^n [miwan] and mi'a^n [mi'an]).

                             ---== GENERAL ==---

Most respondents have questioned the existence of language X (Spocanian). 
The reasons for this doubt, however, vary from one person to another. 
Perhaps it was my unwillingness to reveal X's identity - though I hinted 
that I knew more about it. Some of you were quite sure that X was not a 
natural/real language. It is striking to see how people are inclined to 
reject the "natural existence" of a language as soon as one encounters 
syntactic solutions that are not found in any other language, whereas no 
one is inclined to accept a language as "natural" upon recognizing 
syntactic phenomena that bear a remarkable resemblance to those in other 
languages. This is a general statement, the truth of which appears to 
have been proved in numerous instances, also in relation to Spocanian. 
Several respondents point out that only using word order to mark tense is 
[entirely] unknown in any other language, and that Spocanian *therefore* 
does not seem natural. However, there are many languages that use word 
order to mark the opposition declarative--interrogative (as Dutch and 
[sometimes] English do: _hij leest een boek_ 'he is reading a book' -- 
_leest hij een boek?_ 'is he reading a book?'), so why not use it to mark 
tense? (this is not a rhetorical question but actually deserves 
answering). Furthermore, the fact that Spocanian shows some peculiarities 
which occur in other languages as well, such as the opposition between 
"non-resultative" and "resultative" in: _do ta^npe ef a^s^elot_ 'he drops 
the ash-tray' -- _do ta^npe ef a^s^elott_ 'he drops the ash-tray to 
pieces', does not seem a reason to state that Spocanian must therefore 
necessarily be a natural language! On the other hand, the fact that some 
of the words used in the Spocanian examples seem related to morphemes in 
other languages, has caused several respondents to arrive at the 
conclusion that Spocanian is a creolized language, or "a creole tongue of
[Western] Germanic family, at some remote corner far off from Europe". I 
am not an expert in creolistics, but I can state that Spocanian does not 
have the characteristics of a creole language, such as verb serializing 
and reduced grammar rules in comparison with a dominant partner's 

                       ---== LEXICON / PHONOLOGY ==---

In order to answer the question about X's name and the family it belongs 
to, it is easiest to look at the words used in the examples. Still, some 
caution is required: it would be stupid, for instance, to state that 
Dutch and Basque bear some relation to each other, just because the Dutch 
reciprocal pronoun is _elkaar_ and the Basque one is _elkar_!

Several respondents have regarded _mimpit_ for "book" as a kind of key 
word: such an unrelated word for such a common thing. Furthermore, the 
word _pai_ "by" has drawn some special attention. According to one 
person, it could be related to the Mandarin word bei4, according to 
another, it was related to English "by", as a result of pidginization. In 
fact, _pai_ is related to the Spocanian verb _paine_ 'to do'. Words like 
_letra_ 'letter' and _oto_ 'car' were of course recognized as loan words, 
which is correct, but I think one of the respondents goes too far in 
seeing a French cultural influence, due to the fact that _oto_ is 
reminiscent of Turkish _otobu"s_. The spelling of _oto_ is simply 
phonetical, as it is in _otobu"s_. The word itself occurs in Dutch 
(auto), German (Auto), Finnish (auto), Hungarian (auto'), and a lot of 
other languages, and is thus not necessarily a result of any "French 
cultural influence".

Interesting is the observation that "_France_ is turned into _Frakas_ 
like Scandinavian turns _drink_ into _drikka_". Though I have studied 
Scandinavian languages myself and am aware of the fact that "nk" is in 
several cases changed into "ck/kk" (Sw. dricka; Dan. drikke; Icel. 
drekka), I never realized that the same phonological change had occured 
in France > Frakas. Various phonological peculiarities in Spocanian have 
been analysed already, and the opposition nk--k is one of them. However, 
it is outside of the scope of this message to discuss them.

Last but not least, there was some astonishment/sceptism concerning the 
Spocanian word _smurf_ 'money'. I do not know what your associations are, 
but this word already existed *before* any other (commercial) use of 
"smurf". The noun _smurf_ is etymologically related to Eng. smear, 
Old-Norse smjor, Gothic smairthr, Swedish smo"r, etc., all meaning 
'grease, butter'. Obviously, the speakers of Old-Spocanian used butter or 
fat as a means of payment, and so an ordinary word in the semantic domain 
of agriculture became a word in the domain of trade, not unlike the Eng. 
word _fee_ which is related to Dutch _vee_ and Old-Norse _fe'_ 'cattle'. 
So, if you are familiar with the word "smurf", then you should realize 
that this could have been borrowed from Spocanian, or that there is 
perhaps no relationship whatsoever. The other day, I read in a Dutch 
newspaper that the French biscuits called _Spunk_ cannot be sold in 
England, because of the semantic connotations of this name ("sperm"). In 
England, this delicacy is sold under the name _Spink_, which "has no 
meaning", according to a spokesman for the factory. However, the Swedish 
word _spink_ is slang for 'sparrow' or 'finch'! _Spunk_ was a novel 
invention, but it appeared to exist in English. Analoguously one may 
state: _smurf_ (as you know it) was a novelty, but already happened to 
exist in Spocanian. In order to avoid questions about the final f in 
_smurf_, the following: in Old-Spocanian there were two f's: a dental one 
(like in Eng.) and a bilabial one (like in Japanese?). Since the bilabial 
f sounds like blowing, it is also called the "aspirated f" (I use the 
symbol f~ for it). In a final position, the f~ is lost in 
Modern-Spocanian: (old) _feldariyf~_ > (modern) _feldariy_ 'cupboard'; 
(old) _tys^uf~_ > (modern) _tys^u_ 'doe = = fem. rabbit', UNLESS f~ is 
preceded by a normal (= labio-dental) f/v. In that case, an assimilation 
rule changes old f~ into modern f, cf: (old) _miflif~_ > (modern) 
_miflif_ 'window'; (old) _faja^f~_ > (modern) _faja^f_ 'sweet (of 
smell)'; (old) _ferviyf~_ > (modern) _ferviyf_ 'kind of lily of the 
valley'. That's why Spocanian has so many words with two f's in it, one 
of them a final one. The instability of the final f (a form of apocope) 
has lead to several instances of paragoge (adding an f), such as in 
_yta^f_ 'knot (in tree)' (originally _yta^_); _aerrf_ 'stallion' 
(Old-Spocanian _aerr_; cf. Eng. aur-ochs = ON urr = Lat. urus; Grk. 
erse`n 'male'); and also _smurf_ (< _smur_). The systematic change f~ > f 
and the dropping of f~ was first observed by the Spocanian grammarian 
Lerdu Tyrta^ in 1904, and is now known as Tyrta^'s Law (as mentioned 
above, I present Spocanian as a "real" language, implying that it must 
have native speakers. Some of these native speakers have studied their 
mother tongue and are called "Spocanists", Tyrta^ (1866-1941) being one 
of them; Tyrta^'s Law does not only apply to f~ > f, but also to other 
consonants - you should not hesitate to ask me for more details).

                        ---== RESULTATIVE ASPECT ==---

Most respondents are concerned with the aspectual opposition, as illustrated 
n a. vs. b.:

a. Do byte sener sour.            b. Do byte sener sourr.
   he beats his sister               he beats his sister to death
a. Kirro larde ef toriyst.        b. Kirro larde ef toriysst.
   we eat [of] the cake              we eat up the [entire] cake
a. Ef oto la^ufire ef vildul.     b. Ef oto la^ufire ef vildull.
   the car runs.into a tree          the car runs.down the tree

The respondents have used the following terminology to describe this 
opposition: perfective aspect, resultative construction, intensifying 
meaning, accomplishment, affected themes. In fact, there were as many 
terminological variants as there were reactions to my query; in my 
Spocanian grammar, I use the notion *resultative*. It is striking that 
most respondents use a terminology related to the VERB, and then they 
wonder what kind of morphosyntactic/orthographic phenomenon the consonant 
doubling in the object is. Actually, it is the other way round: in 
Spocanian, two types of objects are recognized: "non-resultative" as well 
as "resultative" ones. The resultative marker (consonant doubling) 
expresses something like: "the action expressed by the verb has such an 
effect on the object, that the entity to which the object refer *no 
longer exists*". As a secondary result, the verb is seen as telic, 
expressing an accomplishment or perfective. In my query, I chose a few 
examples in which this resultative aspect was clearly noticeable. Some 
less clear-cut examples are the following; note that the resultative is 
not always formed by doubling a final consonant, sometimes a suffix 
containing -e- is used:

Olyva prucce ef tof-nrelfs.       Olyva prucce ef tof-nrelfses.
'Olyva is picking the daisies.'   'O. picks all the daisies from the lawn.'

Horit ef trenos la^sto^po lelmo garrent.
'Formerly the trains stopped at this station.'
Horit ef trenos la^sto^po lelmo garrente.
'Formerly the trains stopped here at a station.'
(the station building has been demolished, or has got another destination)

Do zjoffo beri rafane ef ka^mpaiy.
he claimed to tell the truth (and it appeared to be the truth)
Do zjoffo beri rafane ef ka^mpate.
he claimed to tell the truth (but he was lying: the truth was different)

Ef y"mann ef taris fsocha^me.
the hurricane the tower destroy
'The hurricane has destroyed the tower.'
Ef y"mann ef tariss fsocha^me.
the hurricane the tower-RES destroy
'The hurricane has entirely destroyed the tower.'

In the last example, the resultative is only an intensifying device, since
the semantics of the verb _fsocha^me_ already contain the notion of "dis-
appearing". Some of those verbs with an intrinsic "disappearing aspect"
always require a resultative object, e.g.: _afa^nole_ 'leave behind/off';
_astrite_ 'dash to pieces'; _treske_ 'extinguish (fire/light)'; _prusate_
'exile, banish'. Sometimes, the resultative has no semantic relationship with
the main verb, but with an adjectivally used participle:

Gress zerfe ef burelira kredek.      Gress zerfe ef burelira kredekk.
I see the burning horse-stable       I see the burning horse-stable-RES
'I see how the stable is burning.'   'I see how the st. is burning down.'

Eup tiffe ef y"cheror ry"ter.      Eup tiffe ef y"cheror ry"terr.
she knows the had.accident rider   she knows/knew the deadly.had.accident
                                   'She knows the perished rider.'

However, the resultative-marked constituent still has to be the object in the
clause. The following example is therefore ungrammatical (or less acceptable,
according to others/some Spocanians):

(1) *Ef y"cheror ry"terr za^ro fes kult zeces.
    the deadly.had.accident rider lived in our village

(The interesting thing is that I cannot decide whether (1) is grammatical
or not. Why not? This seems due to the following development: first, I 
"invented" resultative objects in which the resultative aspect was 
triggered by the verb. Second, this aspect could be triggered by a 
participle - which is a logical consequence since Spocanian does not 
always make a clear distinction between finite verbs and participles. 
Third, I started wondering whether nouns in which the resultative is 
triggered by a participle could be objects. Within a period of 10 years, 
a diachronical development took place in my brain, equivalent to a "real" 
language development covering a hundred years or more. And now 
sophisticated linguistic theories are required to explain whether (1) 
could be grammatical or not.)

And finally, apart from abovementioned NOMINAL resultatives, Spocanian 
has ADJECTIVAL resultatives as well. These express that the property of 
the adjective is present in an all too high or very strong degree:

ef hupster kelbra -- ef hupsterr kelbra
the large table      the too-large table
Ef kelbra melde hupsterr furt ef mittus.
the table is too-large for the room

Elsa melde rovret. -- Elsa melde rovrett.
Elsa is sweet         Elsa is very-sweet
Do kafte eft hardlap mitos. -- Do kafte eft hardlapp mitos.
he pays a high rent            he pays a too-high rent (the rent is
                                  higher than acceptable/allowed)

There is much more to say about the resultative in Spocanian, but this 
goes beyond the scope of this message (please contact me if you want to 
know more). However, I would like to add that Spocanian is not unique in 
this kind of construction, as one of my respondents has pointed out, who 
gave me some examples from Sakao:

amjil are te'         amjilp are te'
I beat a pig          I killed a pig
amre' olkleg          amre'p olkleg
I scratch my hand     I cut my hand

This language, however, expresses a "resultative meaning" by suffixing -p 
to the verb, not by suffixing the object. And in addition to this: 
p-suffixed verbs seem to express some lexicalized meaning; the action is 
carried to "its logical conclusion" (according to this respondent), and 
"the logical conclusion depends on what the particular culture considers 
a logical conclusion." I think this statement may hold true for Spocanian 
as well, at least when a resultative has a lexicalized meaning. In my 
dictionary, I found the following verbs (among others) at which a 
resultative object triggers a lexicalized meaning (note: the verb's 
meaning is changed, not the object's!):

           NON-RESULTATIVE                     RESULTATIVE
krabe~e    to influence/affect                 to anaesthetize/stupefy
prae       to allude to                        to point to
svu^lge    to gorge (eat greedily)             to devour (eat up hungrily)
kalibatse  to booze (drink a lot of alcohol)   to booze oneself to death

By definition, these verbs are all transitive, implying that a resultative
object must necessarily be added in order to express the resultative meaning,

Do kalibatse pert le~f.    'He is boozing a lot of beer.'
Do kalibatse pert le~ffe.  'He is boozing himself to death.' (by drinking
                               a lot of beer)

All these instances show, I think, "a conclusion such as the Spocanian
culture considers to be logical".

                       ---== RESULTATIVE MARKING ==---

It has been exciting to see most respondents bending over backwards in 
order to try and interprete the resultative marking in a correct or, at 
least, appropriate way. Almost all analyses are based upon a typical 
linguistic approach, in which the doubling of the final consonant is 
regarded as a result of complex morphosyntactic or phonological rules, 
whereas only one person posited a fairly simple, but also rather 
arbitrary orthographical rule as perhaps being responsible for the double 
consonant. In this respect, some respondents have wondered whether the 
double consonant might trigger a different pronunciation. The answer is 
YES, though it is not the double consonant itself which has a different 
pronunciation, but rather the preceding vowel. Below, I will give some 
more details, but first a summary of the solutions I received. One of the 
readers saw the resultative morpheme as "underspecified in terms of 
phonological features, and thus it appears to be identical to its 
preceding consonant". This idea could be correct in those cases where 
there is only one final consonant: mimpit > mimpitt; vildul > vildull, 
etc. But how to account for words like toriyst > toriysst; quimets > 
quimetts; he~ro^gst > he~ro^ggst; quilch > quillch ? The claim that "the 
place of total assimilation is the first consonant after the final vowel"
seems plausible, but is not true. In this respect, it is worth mentioning
that several readers supposed this consonant doubling to take place at 
the clause's final consonant. One of the questions was how to translate 
the sentence "he beats his sister cruelly" into Spocanian, assuming that 
the resultative must be somehow expressed. If the adverb is moved to the 
end of the sentence (which is sometimes possible in Spocanian, though the 
unmarked position is adjacent to the verb), the position of the consonant 
doubling remains unaffected, since it always takes place in the object 
and never in the last consonant of the sentence. Cf.:

a. Do byte sener sour chuqug.     b. Do byte sener sourr chuqug.
   he beats his sister cruelly       he beats his s. cruelly to death

and not:  c. *Do byte sener sour chuqugg.

(c. is possible indeed, but has a different meaning: the resultative of 
an adjective/adverb expresses a "too high degree" or an "intensivity", 
thus c. means something like "he beats his sister too/very cruelly"; see 
above). And here is the solution concerning the resultative marking: in 
Spocanian, all words can be phonologically divided into two classes: (A) 
words with a *variable* stress and (B) words with a *fixed* stress. 
Variable stress is always on the penultimate syllable (the word is a 
paroxytonon), and if such a word is subject to morphological changes 
resulting in a different number of syllables, the variable stress may be 
shifted to some other syllable which has become penultimate in the new 
situation. In the following examples, the stressed vowel (main stress) is 
written as a CAPITAL:

arpInzol -- arpinzO^le   'plan' -- 'plans (Pl.)'
crIa -- criAba^l         'hand' -- 'handball (the ball)'
kElbra -- kelbrafA^sto   'table' -- 'table cloth'
adOre -- adorAtjen       'to worship' -- 'worshipper'
zEfe -- zefelIra         'to ring' -- 'ringing'
bA^r -- tOba^r           'butter' -- 'margarine" (litt. "false-butter")

Fixed stress is always on the same syllable (not necessarily the penultimate
one). Cf. the examples above with:

mIttor -- mItto^re       'staircase' -- 'staircases'
tIffug -- tIffugba^l     'foot' -- 'football (the ball)'
pAzzo -- pAzzofa^sto     'ground' -- 'ground sheet/cloth'
blAffe -- blAffatjen     'to command' -- 'commander'
lAjjefe -- lAjjefatjen   'administer' -- 'administrator'
zEffe -- zEffelira       'to tell' -- 'telling (a story)'
bjErr -- tobjErr         'beer' -- 'beer without alcohol' (litt. "false-beer")

Comparing the classes (A) and (B) reveals that a fixed stress is always 
marked by a following double consonant. Furthermore, a vowel with fixed 
stress sounds longer than a vowel with variable stress, or in other 
words, a double consonant expresses that the preceding vowel is long. If 
the fixed stress is on a penultimate syllable, the only difference with 
an identical word with variable stress is the length, cf:

zefe [zefe] -- zeffe [ze:fe]       ([e] as in Eng. 'bed')
la^s [las] -- la^ss [la:s]         ([a] as in Eng. 'rather')
furta [fyrta] -- furrta [fy:rta]   ([y] as in Fr. tu; Grm. Tu"r)

By definition, any non-final syllable consists of a vowel, followed by 
one or more consonants. Thus, there is no problem in using consonant 
doubling to express a long stressed preceding vowel. Now, the main 
property for marking a resultative will be evident: in all my examples, I 
have used words with variable stress, and have shown that the resultative 
is expressed by changing the variable (penultimate) stress into a fixed 
one on the final syllable:

sOur -- soUrr (note that this word is bisyllabic: [sOwur] -- [sowU:r],
                          with a bilabial w (Eng.!) between o and u)
kOrnin -- kornInn
tjokA^sas -- tjoka^sAss
tOriyst -- torIYsst (note that iy is one sound, as i in Eng. 'bit')
mImpit -- mimpItt
vIldul -- vildUll

One of the respondents has noticed this phonological/orthographic process
(though he was unable to predict the correct pronunciation triggered by 
consonant doubling) and wonders what to do with words ending in a vowel, 
since in these cases there is no final consonant to double. That such 
words exist in Spocanian, is proved in the query by words like _letra_ 
'letter' and _oto 'car', and some of you certainly have recognized this.

Well, in these cases the fixed stress on the final vowel is expressed by 
-e, but this is not a "real" suffix, only a marker for stress on the 
preceding vowel. The -e itself is pronounced as a schwa (= @):

letra [lEtra] -- letrae [letrA:w@]   (between two vowels pronounced
                                      as a bilabial w, as in _sour_)
oto [Oto] -- otoe [otO:w@]
portzerfi [pordzErfi] -- portzerfie [pordzerfI:w@] 'television'
                                              (litt. "remote-seeing")

In monosyllabic words and in words with a fixed stress, the resultative cannot
be expressed by shifting the stress to the final syllable. In that case, the
*suffix* -e is used, pronounced as the e in 'bed'. This suffix is not to be
confused with the abovementioned schwa:

bjerr [bjE:r] -- bjerre [bjE:re]
tupplip [tY:plip] -- tupplipe [tY:plipe]
molarriy [molA:ri] -- molarriye [molA:riwe]  ([i] as i in Eng. 'bit')

Within the scope of this message, I cannot explain all details concerning
the differences between -e as a schwa and -e as a real suffix, nor the 
phonological reasons why this schwa is added. I would like to conclude 
this brief survey of resultative marking by mentioning that, apart from 
-e, Spocanian has several other suffixes. One of them is -es, for marking 
the resultative in the plural:

vIldul -- vIlduls -- vildUlses  [vildUlses]
'tree'    'trees'    'trees-RES'

In fact, _vildulses_ is a phonological development from the "regular" form
_vildulls_ [vildU:ls]. In both cases, the stress is on the final vowel, as

                              ---== TENSE ==---

Though Spocanian has a lot of grammar rules which give this language a 
non-IE typology, these rules nevertheless appear to be "natural", 
although there are some rules that are rather controversial. So I was not 
really surprised that one of my respondents referred to one of them: the 
position of the verb in order to mark tense, cf.:

Petriy stinde ef letra.  'Peter writes/is writing the letter.'
Petriy ef letra stinde.  'Peter wrote/has written the letter.'
Stinde Petriy ef letra.  'Peter will/intends to write the letter.'

The three patterns SVO (neutral tense), SOV (past tense) and VSO 
(future tense) are only possible with transitive verbs (plus an expressed 
object). Note that S and O never swap positions, as this would be 
impossible since S and O are only marked as such by virtue of their 
position (Spocanian has no case system or other subject or object 

Besides these three patterns, Spocanian has suffixes for expressing 
several variations in tense. One of them is -a, which is actually not a 
"real" suffix, but a phonological result of the fact that the final 
syllable of the verb is stressed. Cf. (stressed vowel is CAPITALIZED):

Eup prAte helkara Pariys.  'She leaves/is leaving for Paris.'
Eup pratA helkara Pariys.  'She has left for Paris.'

This shift in stress, expressing that "something has led to a result" is 
also found in the resultative aspect, discussed above.

About fifteen years ago, I developed the rules for the resultative aspect
entirely independent of the already existing rules for the past tense; I 
have not linked these two phenomena at all, and the coincidental 
morphosyntactic/- semantic relationship which appeared to exist between 
the resultative and the past tense was only pointed out to me by one of 
my Amsterdam colleagues, several years ago. He claimed that the stress 
shift in verbs like prAte > pratA, and in nouns like mIflif > miflIff, 
could be of the same origin and could actually have the same meaning 
("something/an action no longer exists"). This observation struck me and 
I thought it was interesting enough to have a closer look at these 
phenomena, "invented" without my being aware of their relationship. This 
summer I will publish an article about the relation between the Spocanian 
past tense and the resultative in "Spocanistics", a periodical which [as 
yet] does not exist (only in Spocania = my computer files), but which 
will be a platform for ideas and reflections concerning Spocanian that 
have not yet found a place in the completed Spocanian Grammar. The main 
idea is that the morphosyntactic/semantic relationship between the 
resultative aspect (RA) and the past tense (PT) is obscured by the fact 
that RA and PT operate in different domains: RA only in the object and PT 
only in verbs. Therefore, it would be interesting to see what happens if 
RA and PT operate in the *same* domain: is stress shift in that case to 
be understood as an instance of RA, or as an instance of PT? However, 
standard Spocanian does not provide constructions in which a constituent 
is both a tense marked verb and an object, but I had already some ideas 
about the Spocanian dialects that make an extensive use of 
nominalizations, as opposed to the standard Spocanian 'that'-clauses, 

a. Eup reppe, den Ja^n lelperre nurp-y"katle.  (standard Spoc.)
   she says that John has headache

b. Eup reppe Ja^nex y"lelperros enn nurp-y"katle. (southern dialect)
   she says John's having OBJ headache
   'She says that John has a headache.'

OBJ = object marker _enn_ (optional in most matrix clauses, but obligatory
      in most subordinate clauses and in nominalizations).

In a., _reppe_ 'to say' is followed by a complement in the form of a
that-clause, but in b., _reppe_ is a purely transitive verb, preceded by the
subject _eup_ and followed by the object:

c. Ja^nex.....nurp-y"katle

That c. is really an object (CAPITALIZED below), is shown in the past tense
(SOV pattern):

    she John's having OBJ headache says
    'She said/has said that John has a headache.'

and in the passive (DO > S):

b''. JA^NEX Y"LELPERROS ENN NURP-Y"KATLE reppelije pai eup.
     John's having OBJ headache is-said by her
     'That John has a headache, she says (is said by her).'

Now the remarkable thing is that in b., the nominalization _y"lelperros_
'the having' accepts stress shift, resulting in:

c. Eup reppe Ja^nex y"lelperrOss enn nurp-y"katle.
   she says John's having OBJ headache

(in _y"lelperross_, the stress is on the final o)

What does c. mean? Theoretically, this construction is ambiguous: the 
stress on the final o may indicate either (A) a past tense (as it does in 
fArte > fartA), or (B) a resultative (as it does in telefOnos > 
telefonOss). Thus, c. has the following meanings:

(i)  She says that John HAD a headache (stress shift indicates a past tense)
(ii) She says that John has a raging headache (stress shift indicates
       a resultative which has to be interpreted as intensifying)

In order to determine which of the meanings, (i) or (ii) or both, is/are 
correct, I needed some informants, who I had to "create", analoguous to 
"creating" the language itself. Some colleagues and friends were 
confronted with relevant data, and after I had explained the principles 
of the RA and PT, I let them follow their intuition, and my impression is 
now that both meanings (i) and (ii) are indeed acceptable (I do not 
pretend that this test has any scientific value, I only try to illustrate 
how Spocanian is able to raise linguistic questions). The outcome of this 
"research" was discussed during a lecture I held in January (Amsterdam), 
illustrated by "authentic" tape recordings of "native dialect speakers". 
For me, it was an experience to hear these dialects; I had described them 
and I could instruct the "informants" how to pronounce the data, but the 
outcome was unexpected.

                    ---== SUBORDINATE CONSTRUCTIONS ==---

None of the respondents was able to get excited over the examples of 
subordinate constructions. According to one of them, "they are not 
particularly strange. No stranger indeed than what some Papuan languages 
do [..]". Indeed, Spocanian uses a kind of adverb (my grammarbook says 
"determinator" or "particle") in the matrix clause, expressing the 
relationship between this clause and the subordinate one. Classical Greek
seems to have a similar solution (?). But where are all other reactions 
concerning subordinate clauses? Why wasn't anything said about the 
suffixes -ilo~me and -ilomije which occur in subordinate clauses? The 
answer is probably: because all readers immediately understood that these 
suffixes are purely subordinate markers! I would like to add that 
-ilomije is a fusion of the subordinate marker -ilo~me and the passive 
marker -lije. The change from o~ in -ilo~me to o in -ilomije is due to a 
phonological rule saying that a stressed o is diphtongized and an 
unstressed o is not: o~ sounds like oy in Eng. boy, whereas o sounds like 
o in German Not or eau in Fr. beau (not diphtongized like in English). 
One of the respondents wondered whether -ilomije was correct (and should 
not be -ilo~mije): yes it is. One of the clauses involved in a 
subordinate construction was:

Eup lorertavy eft kleter oto.
she buy-want a new car = 'She wants to buy a new car.'

Note that modality is often expressed by a suffix: in _lorertavy_ we have
the modal suffix -avy 'to want to, to wish'. Another example:

Gress nert arfine. -- Gress nert arfinecu^.
I not come            I not come-can
'I do not come.'      'I am not able to come; I cannot come.'

The difference between *epistemic* and *deontic* is often reflected in a
choice between modal verbs and modal suffixes.

                          ---== PASSIVE VOICE ==---

Spocanian has two passive markers: -lije (DO > S) and -lita^ (IO > S). 
Nobody has asked me about the nature of these markers. It is generally 
accepted that [most?] languages do not have such a thing as a "passive 
morphology". The passive is, cross-linguistically, expressed by already 
existing middle forms or by already existing auxiliary/copula 
constructions. Spocanian, however, has neither marked middles nor 
Aux+PastParticiple constructions, and -lije and -lita^ are exclusively 
used for the passive. A lot of research has still to be done with respect 
to the nature of Spocanian passives. Some research has already been done 
and has been published in Working Papers in Functional Grammar (1989/33), 
(University of Amsterdam, Dept. of General Linguistics). (It is tempting 
to "create" some other, more basic function for these passive markers, 
and to state that the passive is expressed by these suffixes which are 
already used for something else, for instance a middle. But this is not 
the way in which I wish to deal with Spocanian. As said, its grammar has 
been completed, and this material, including some diachronical and 
dialectical data should suffice to account for all phenomena in this 
language. The only tool I can use for describing the Spocanian passive is 
an elaborate theoretical framework, not the creation of new grammar rules 
or data).

All questions I discussed above may be compared with the well-known 
puzzles in which mathematical or logical problems are posed in a 
hypothetical situation. My questions were framed in a "hypothetical" 
language, and I cannot see why this should be controversial.

However, as for my last question (concerning the nature of language X) 
there seems to be some controversy. I asked: "What is the name of 
language X, to which family does it belong, and/or where is it spoken?" I 
agree that this was not the most appropriate formulation. Better would 
have been: "I know the identity of language X, but I wonder whether you 
are able to say something about X's identity after studying the data?" 
Fortunately, many readers (at least eight) have interpreted my question 
in the right way. I hope that the linguist who told me that "I had gone 
too far" with this question, was not representative of all of my readers.


All grammatical information above is to be regarded as an answer to the 
questions, suggestions and analyses I got from 3 respondents in Australia 
and New-Zealand, and from 5 in the rest of the world, who also have 
received their personal replies (why are Australia and New-Zealand so 
overrepresented, compared with the rest of the world?).

I am prepared to give more information about Spocanian, but I would like 
to do this as a reaction to your comments. So please send your message to 
the Linguist List or to

Rolandt Tweehuysen
University of Amsterdam, Dept of General Linguistics
E-mail    :
snail mail: Postbus 3774, 1001 AN Amsterdam, Netherlands

In the next message, you'll find more information about Spocania[n].



                       AND ITS MAIN LANGUAGE, SPOCANIAN

                     ---== DESCRIPTION OF SPOCANIA ==---

This kingdom consists of 7 main islands (Berref, Liftka, Bry"r, Tigof, 
Lomky, Teujan and Garos), located in the Atlantic Ocean, between Ireland 
and the USA. To be precise: in the centre of the capital Hirdo a stone 
has been erected near the banks of the River Trendon, in order to 
indicate Spocania's exact geographical position: 20 degrees 40 minutes 
longitude west, and 49 degrees 12 minutes latitude north. Starting out 
from this stone, it is a 250 km trip to the east coast, 132 km to the 
west coast, 90 km to the most northern point and 162 km to the most 
southern cape.

The country is democratically governed by 12 ministers, a Lower House, an
Upper House and an Advisory Council, whose chairman is the King (Huron 
Herco Loefe IV). The name of the Prime Minister is Lores Hees-Fiyndiy, 
but such names will not be familiar, as there are no sex scandals, ??gate 
affairs or separatistic movements.

Until the sixties of this century, Spocania was a feudal country with 
powerful landowners and an underdeveloped industry. Due to a strict 
isolationism (another word for both political and economical 
independence), the importation of luxury goods and cultural and touristic 
exchange was at a low level. In 1955, the government presented a dramatic 
plan in order to develop the country in a number of ways: the feudal 
system was to be democratized and new industries were to be set up. This 
was not an "Industrial Revolution" in the sense of an undemocratic 
people's mobilization, but rather an "Industrial Development", as the 
government called its new policy.

Nowadays, Spocania has become a modern nation, where urbanization, 
pollution, and unemployment are national problems, like in so many other 
countries. Its religion, the Ergynne, is still alive throughout most of 
the country (though the western part of the main island as well as the 
two southern isles are largely catholic) and has left many traces in the 
vocabulary. Spocania has approx. 7 million inhabitants, a million of whom 
live in the capital Hirdo. One of the strategies for breaking down 
isolationism and getting the country to rise with the modern 
international tide has been the development of tourism. This resulted in 
a travel guide being published in the Netherlands, besides in some TV 
promotion, so that many Dutchmen have attempted to travel to this unknown 
but attractive country. This book has provoked a lot of reactions, and 
all the Dutch media have given attention to both the country and the 
book's author.

               ---== A COUNTRY AS A BASIS FOR A LANGUAGE ==---

My main reason for "creating" a nation of my own was not to write a 
travel guide, but rather to provide a world in which the Spocanian 
language could be spoken. Like many children, I used to have a kind of 
secret language in order to communicate with a school friend. It was not 
a real language, but merely a transposing of Dutch words into imaginary 
words, conforming to Dutch phonology and morphology. There was no real 
grammar, though some particular rules may have existed (I am talking 
about the stage at which this "language" was when I was 10 years old). 
One of my initial ideas at that time was that I needed an imaginary 
country for this imaginary language to be spoken in. I do not consider 
this very exceptional, for I am aware that many school children do the 
same. But the fact that I am 45 now and that Spocania and its language 
are still in existence does seem rather exceptional to me.

Spocanian is the result of a hobby (and is not intended as an alternative
Esperanto): where others have collected stamps or software, I have 
collected words and grammar rules all my life. Though "collecting" may be 
not the right word for I have the feeling that the Spocanian words and 
grammar rules have always existed: my task has simply been to gather them 
for future use. This resulted in a dictionary with over 25,000 entries 
(also available as electronic dictionary) and a grammar book containing 
1500 pages.

There are thousands of languages in the world which have to make do with 
less descriptive material.

                 ---== SPOCANIAN AS A NATURAL LANGUAGE ==---

Spocanian has grown and developed over a period of 30 years. My main goal 
was to create a language that would be "as real and realistic as 
possible". Someone studying the grammar must have the impression that 
(s)he is reading the grammar of a natural, unfamiliar exotic language. 
And as, by definition, any natural language is spoken by people in a 
natural setting, the kingdom of Spocania is a necessary basis for such a 
language. All languages show the influence of cultural, geographical, 
political, historical and climatological circumstances in which the 
people, speaking those languages, have to live. Thus, for every word I 
put in the dictionary, I have to be aware of how the Spocanian people use 
it: whether or not the Spocanian word for "blackbird" or "elephant" is a 
loanword depends on whether there are any blackbirds/elephants in 
Spocania. And if this is not the case, are they then familiar with such 
creatures; and if so, how do they know them and how have they chosen a 
word to refer to them?"

It will be obvious that the language also reflects the typical Spocanian 
culture and religion. The word "pakra" means a "religious feast at full 
moon, during which a lamb is sacrificed and people bask in the moonlight, 
saturating themselves with health-giving beams". The verb "dreuma^ne" 
originally meant "to do all things necessary in order to get a 
boat/vehicle/horse ready for sailing/driving/riding", but in modern 
Spocanian this verb is also used for "starting up a computer".

The verb "kajjynte" means "ignoring that somebody is trying to draw 
attention, while knowing that the person is aware that you are ignoring 
this". A single verb for a situation we all recognize, yet less exotic 
languages have no word for it.

Another challenge for me was to create a detailed grammatical system, 
that does not clash with language universals as they are generally 
accepted, but which is nevertheless special, with a set of rules that 
lack counterparts in other languages but still have natural properties.

For example: I have abandoned all auxiliaries, and most of the copulas. 
One of the results is that a passive cannot be expressed by means of an 
aux, so I opted for a suffix. Furthermore, this lack of auxiliaries has 
led to an entirely different treatment of tenses. In my previous message 
I have explained that tense is primarily expressed in the word order. 
Another speciality of Spocanian is the extensive use of affixes. Apart 
from the numerous grammatical pre- and suffixes, the language also has 
*lexical* affixes: many nouns only exist as suffixes that can never be 
used independently, e.g.: _-mip_ means 'book' and is used in nouns like 
_ca^smip_ 'cash book' or _cofd^iymip_ 'fairy tale book', but the plain 
noun 'book' is _mimpit_. The nominal nature of such lexical suffixes is 
noticeable in the way they form their plurals: a suffix like _-klan_ 
'-wheel' has the irregular plural _-kla^ne_, and not the expected 
_*-klans_: _otoklan -- otokla^ne_ 'wheel of a car -- wheels of a car'. 
Since _-klan_ can only be used in compound nouns, the plain word 'wheel' 
has to be translated by _tro^cha^_. Sometimes, lexical suffixes are 
semantically subordinated in the nouns in which they occur. Here is an 
example with _-o^m_, meaning 'industry, factory, work': _ara^nka_ is 
'railway', but _ara^nkao^m_ does not mean 'railway industry' but rather 
'industrial railway'. _Helbio^m_ is 'workclothes, overalls', but not 
'clothing industry'. However, Spocanian morphology is too complex to 
discuss here.

                        ---== THE NAME SPOCANIA ==---

"Spocania" is the anglicized form of the Dutch _Spokanie"_ (note the 
diaeresis on the final e). This name is derived from the Dutch word 
_spook_ 'ghost, spectre, spook', and is reminiscent of the time when I 
was 4-5 years old and imagined that there was a country/world inhabited 
by ghosts. When I was 7 or 8, I invented some "Spocanian words". This was 
not a real language of course (at that age, I was unaware of grammar 
rules), but just a few names referring to creatures and places in this 
country. Some words for the awful diseases these ghosts could catch had 
already been invented at that time. Some of these words are still in use: 
_kinur_ used to be the name of a severe ghost disease, and _aftomirus_ 
was the medicine for it. Nowadays _kinur_ is the ordinary adjective for 
'ill', while _aftomirus_ means 'semolina' (yes, there is a reason for 
it). From the same period stem proper nouns like _Huron_ (the King's 
name) and _Hirdo_ (the capital). All those ancient words are Dutch in 
appearance and lack diacritical signs. When I was about 14 years old, I 
decided that _Spokanie"_ had to be a real, human country. Any relation 
with ghosts had to be avoided, and I invented a new "etymology" for the 
country's name: it was related to the English verbal paradigm 'to speak -
spoke - spoken'. In Spocanian, the name of the language is _Spoka^nda_ 
and the name of the country is _Spooksoliy_. Of course there has to be an
imaginary etymology in order to explain these words, but up to now I have 
not been able to decide which etymology is most suitable here, and how 
the relation between _Spookoliy_ and _Spoka^nda_ should be explained. I 
have used this lack of clarity to develop an imaginary polemic among 
"Spocanian linguists" about the origin of these words. This polemic 
(written in Spocanian) has been published in the Spocanian periodical 
_La^nga^r ur Tiba^n_ ('Language and Science'), in fact the Spocanian 
counterpart of the abovementioned periodical "Spocanistics", the English 
linguistic magazine "published in Spocania".

I do not recall when somebody told me that there was a town called 
Spokane in the US State of Washington. It came as a surprise, and I was 
expected to explain a possible link between Spokane and Spocania. 
Naturally, this was not too difficult, for many place names in America 
were imported from Europe. So why shouldn't a group of Spocanian farmers 
have settled somewhere in the forest, naming their settlement after their 
native country? There is a fragmentary history of the Spocanian 
settlement in America, including some details about "Spocamerican", the 
mixture of English and Spocanian, as spoken by the descendants of the 
early Spocanian settlers. I have "discovered" a bit of text, written in 
approx. 1880, and this is the only instance of Spocamerican, which is 
extinct nowadays. It was, by the way, a colleague of mine in Amsterdam, 
specialized in Canadian indian and pidgin languages, who suggested that 
the early settlers of Spokane might have used a mixture of English and 
Spocanian. And as so often, such a suggestion set me thinking, thus 
laying another brick of the building called >Spocanian<. Perhaps more 
about this Spocamerican text in a next message.


This is the first introduction concerning Spocania and its language. It
depends on your reactions, whether and how I shall continue!

Rolandt Tweehuysen
University of Amsterdam
Department for General Linguistics
Spuistraat 210
Amsterdam - Netherlands

How to deal with enemies…

Create a conlang with a few trusted friends. Or learn languages with a few trusted friends. Do not tell others that you know these languages. Analyse target society. Discretely neutralize the worst elements.

Do not run around and yell and scream that the WHOLE target society sucks. Not even on teh interwebs. That is spreading HATE and hate has consequences, as we all know well.

That is how Antifa does it:

1) A group of people learns languages in public education (learning their own languages at home or at specialized schools)
2) Analyses outsider society
3) Discretely neutralizes the worst outsiders (i.e. “fascists”)

Anything else will result in Epic Fail.

Final note:

Hell is eternal. Only my religion allows euthanasia. Abortion and pornography can only be allowed if euthanasia is allowed as well.

Islamophobia and Islamism


Both the rise of Islamophobia and the rise of Islamism have the same source: non-Muslims not knowing Arabic. If most non-Muslims would know Arabic, like most non-Muslims do know English, non-Muslims would be able to sort out the threatening Muslims(i.e. Islamists) from the non-threatening Muslims. Also, if most non-Muslims would have known Arabic, it would have been very hard for Islamists to take power. For obvious reasons, defeating or even exterminating ALL Muslims would make knowing Arabic even more necessary. So ALL people will have to learn Arabic anyway.

Note: Geert Wilders and Erdoğan agree that moderate Islam does not exist.

Triple Handshakes


Attack of the Week: Triple Handshakes (3Shake)

3Shake logo designed by @Raed667

The other day Apple released a major security update that fixes a number of terrifying things that can happen to your OS/X and iOS devices. You should install it. Not only does this fix a possible remote code execution vulnerability in the JPEG parser (!), it also patches a TLS/SSL protocol bug known as the “Triple Handshake” vulnerability. And this is great timing, since Triple Handshakes are something I’ve been meaning (and failing) to write about for over a month now.

But before we get there: a few points of order.

First, if Heartbleed taught us one thing, it’s that when it comes to TLS vulnerabilities, branding is key. Henceforth, and with apologies to Bhargavan, Delignat-Lavaud, Pironti,  Fournet and Strub (who actually discovered the attack*), for the rest of this post I will be referring to the vulnerability simply as “3Shake”. I’ve also taken the liberty of commissioning a logo. I hope you like it.

On a more serious note, 3Shake is not Heartbleed. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because Heartbleed was nasty and 3Shake really isn’t anywhere near as dangerous. It’s bad since, awful as it was, Heartbleed was only an implementation vulnerability — and one in a single TLS library to boot. 3Shake represents a novel and fundamental bug in the TLS protocol.

The final thing you should know about 3Shake is that, according to the cryptographic literature, it shouldn’t exist.

You see, in the last few years there have been at least three four major crypto papers purporting to prove the TLS protocol secure. The existence of 3Shake doesn’t make those results wrong. It may, however, indicate that cryptographers need to think a bit more about what ‘secure’ and ‘TLS’ actually mean. For me, that’s the most fascinating implication of this new attack.

I’ll proceed with the usual ‘fun’ question-and-answer format I save for this sort of thing.

What is TLS and why should you care?

Since you’re reading this blog, you probably already know something about TLS. You might even realize how much of our infrastructure is protected by this crazy protocol.

In case you don’t: TLS is a secure transport protocol that’s designed to establish communications between two parties, who we’ll refer to as the Client and the Server. The protocol consists of two sub-protocols called the handshake protocol and the record protocol. The handshake is intended to authenticate the two communicating parties and establish shared encryption keys between them. The record protocol uses those keys to exchange data securely.

For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus primarily on the handshake protocol, which has (at least) two major variants: the RSA handshake and the Diffie-Hellman handshake (ECDHE/DHE). These are illustrated below.

Simplified description of the TLS handshakes. Top: RSA handshake. Bottom: Diffie-Hellman handshake.

As much as I love TLS, the protocol is a hot mess. For one thing, it inherits a lot of awful cryptography from its ancient predecessors (SSLv1-3). For another, it’s only really beginning to be subjected to rigorous, formal analysis.

All this means we’re just now starting to uncover some of the bugs that have been present in the protocol since it was first designed. And we’re likely to discover more! That’s partly because this analysis is at a very early stage. It’s also partly because, from an analysts’ point of view, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what the TLS handshake is supposed to do.

Well, what is the TLS handshake supposed to do?

Up until this result, we thought we had a reasonable understanding of the purpose of the TLS handshake. It was intended to authenticate one or both sides of the connection, then establish a shared cryptographic secret (called the Master Secret) that could be used to derive cryptographic keys for encrypting application data.

The first problem with this understanding is that it’s a bit too simple. There isn’t just one TLS handshake, there are several variants of it. Worse, multiple different handshake types can be used within a single connection.

The standard handshake flow is illustrated — without crypto — in the diagram below. In virtually every TLS connection, the server authenticates to the client by sending a public key embedded in a certificate. The client, for its part, can optionally authenticate itself by sending a corresponding certificate and proving it has the signing key. However this client authentication is by no means common. Many TLS connections are authenticated only in one direction.

Common TLS handshakes. Left: only server authenticates.
Right: client and server both authenticate with certificates.

TLS also supports a “renegotiation” handshake that can switch an open connection from one mode to the other. This is typically used to change a connection that was authenticated only in one direction (Server->Client) into a connection that’s authenticated in both directions. The server usually initiates renegotiation when the client has e.g., asked for a protected resource.

Renegotiating a session. A new handshake causes the existing connection to be mutually authenticated.

Renegotiation has had problems before. Back in 2009, Ray and Dispensa showed that a man-in-the-middle attacker could actually establish a (non-authenticated) connection with some server; inject some data; and when the server asks for authentication, the attacker could then “splice” on a real connection with an authorized client by simply forwarding the new handshake messages to the legitimate client. From the server’s point of view, both communications would seem to be coming from the same (now authenticated) person:

Ray/Dispensa attack from 2009. The attacker first establishes an unauthenticated connection and injects some traffic (“drop table *”). When the server initiates a renegotiation for client authentication, the attacker forwards the new handshake messages to an honest client Alice who then sends real traffic. Since the handshakes are not bound together, Bob views this as a single connection to one party.

To fix this, a “secure renegotiation” band-aid to TLS was proposed. The rough idea of this extension was to ‘bind’ the renegotiation handshake to the previous handshake, by having the client present the “Finished” message of the previous handshake. Since the Finished value is (essentially) a hash of the Master Secret and the (hash of) the previous handshake messages, this allows the client to prove that it — not an attacker — truly negotiated the previous connection.

All of this brings us back to the question of what the TLS handshake is supposed to do.

You see, the renegotiation band-aid now adds some pretty interesting new requirements to the TLS handshake. For one thing, the security of this extension depends on the idea that (1) no two distinct handshakes will happen to use the same Master Secret, and (2) that no two handshakes will have the same handshake messages, ergo (3) no two handshakes will have the same Finished message.

Intuitively, this seemed like a pretty safe thing to assume — and indeed, many other systems that do ‘channel binding’ on TLS connections also make this assumption. The 3Shake attack shows that this is not safe to assume at all.

So what’s the problem here?

It turns out that TLS does a pretty good job of establishing keys with people you’ve authenticated. Unfortunately there’s a caveat. It doesn’t truly guarantee the established key will be unique to your connection. This is a pretty big violation of the assumptions that underlie the “secure renegotiation” fix described above.

For example: imagine that Alice is (knowingly) establishing a TLS connection to a server Mallory. It turns out that Mallory can simultaneously — and unknown to Alice — establish a different connection to a second server Bob. Moreover, if Mallory is clever, she can force both connections to use the same “Master Secret” (MS).

Mallory creates two connections that use the same Master Secret.

The first observation of the 3Shake attack is that this trick can be played if Alice supports either of the or RSA and DHE handshakes — or both (it does not seem to work on ECDHE). Here’s the RSA version:**

RSA protocol flow from the triple handshake attack (source). The attacker is in the middle, while the client and server are on the left/right respectively. MS is computed as a function of (pms, cr, sr) which are identical in both handshakes.

So already we have a flaw in the logic undergirding secure renegotiation. The Master Secret (MS) values are not necessarily distinct between different handshakes.

Fortunately, the above attack does not let us resurrect the Ray/Dispensa injection attack. While the attacker has tricked the client into using a specific MS value, the handshake Finished messages — which the client will attach to the renegotiation handshake — will not be the same in both handshakes. That’s because (among other things) the certificates sent on each connection were very different, hence the handshake hashes are not identical. In theory we’re safe.

But here is where TLS gets awesome.

You see, there is yet another handshake I haven’t told you about. It’s called the “session resumption handshake”, and it allows two parties who’ve previously established a master secret (and still remember it) to resume their session with new encryption keys. The advantage of resumption is that it uses no public-key cryptography or certificates at all, which is supposed to make it faster.

It turns out that if an attacker knows the previous MS and has caused it to be the same on both sides, it can now wait until the client initiates a session resumption. Then it can replay messages between the client and server in order to update both connections with new keys:

An attacker replays the session resumption handshake to ensure the same key on both sides. Note that the handshake messages are identical in both connections. (authors of source)

Which brings us to the neat thing about this handshake. Not only is the MS the same on both connections, but both connections now see exactly the same (resumption) handshake messages. Hence the hash of these handshakes will be identical, which means in turn that their “Finished” message will be identical.

By combining all of these tricks, a clever attacker can pull off the following — and absolutely insane — “triple handshake” injection attack:

Triple handshake attack. The attacker mediates two handshakes that give MS on both sides, but two different handshake hashes. The resumption handshake leaves the same MS and an identical handshake hash on both sides. This means that the Finished message from the resumption handshake will be the same for the connections on either side of the attacker. Now he can hook up the two without anyone noticing that he previously injected traffic.

In the above scenario, an attacker first runs a (standard) handshake to force both sides of the connection to use the same MS. It then causes both sides to perform session resumption, which results in both sides using the same MS and having the same handshake hash and Finished messages on both sides. When the server initiates renegotiation, the attacker can forward the third(renegotiation) handshake on to the legitimate client as in the Ray/Dispensa attack — secure in the knowledge that both client and server will expect the same Finished token.

And that’s the ballgame.

What’s the fix?

There are several, and you can read about them here.

One proposed fix is to change the derivation of the Master Secret such that it includes the handshake hash. This should wipe out most of the attacks above. Another fix is to bind the “session resumption” handshake to the original handshake that led to it.

Wait, why should I care about injection attacks?

You probably don’t, unless you happen to be one of the critical applications that relies on the client authentication and renegotiation features of TLS. In that case, like most applications, you probably assumed that a TLS connection opened with a remote user was actually from that user the whole time, and not from two different users.

If you — like most applications — made that assumption, you might also forget to treat the early part of the connection (prior to client authentication) as a completely untrusted bunch of crap. And then you’d be in a world of hurt.

But don’t take my word for it. There’s video! (See here for the source, background and details):

(video removed)

What does this have to do with the provable security of TLS?

Of all the questions 3Shake raises, this one is the most interesting. As I mentioned earlier, there have been several recent works that purport to prove things about the security of TLS. They’re all quite good, so don’t take any of this as criticism.

However, they (with one exceptionthe miTLS project) didn’t find this attack. Why is that?

The first reason is simple: many of these works analyze only the basic TLS handshake, or they omit at least one of the possible handshakes (e.g., resumption). This means they don’t catch the subtle interactions between the resumption handshake, the renegotiation handshake, and extensions — all of which are the exact ingredients that make most TLS attacks possible.

The second problem is that we don’t quite know what standard we’re holding TLS to. For example, the common definition of security for TLS is called “Authenticated and Confidential Channel Establishment” (ACCE). Roughly speaking this ensures that two parties can establish a channel and that nobody will be able to determine what data is being sent over said channel.

The problem with ACCE is that it’s a definition that was developed specifically so that TLS could satisfy it. As a result, it’s necessarily weak. For example, ACCE does not actually require that each handshake produces a unique Master Secret — one of the flaws that enables this attack — because such a definition was not possible to achieve with the existing TLS protocol. In general this is what happens when you design a protocol first and prove things about it later.

What’s the future for TLS? Can’t we throw the whole thing out and start over again?

Sure, go ahead and make TLS Rev 2. It can strip out all of this nonsense and start fresh.

But before you get cocky, remember — all these crazy features in TLS were put there for a reason. Someone wanted and demanded them. And sadly, this is the difference between a successful, widely-used protocol and your protocol.

Your new replacement for TLS might be simple and wonderful today, but that’s only because nobody uses it. Get it out into the wild and before long it too will be every bit as crazy as TLS.


An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the researchers who discovered the attack.

** The Diffie-Hellman (DHE) version is somewhat more clever. It relies on the attacker manipulating the D-H parameters such that they will force the client to use a particular key. Since DHE parameters sent down from the server are usually ‘trusted’ by TLS implementations, this trick is relatively easy to pull off.