Most likely this will be the only post but I am really proud of how it turned out so I wanted to share it with you. Cissian is a Slavic conlang which can't really be assigned to any of the three major Slavic subgroups (but I don't want to call it a Central Slavic language because that sounds so amateur). Apart from that, I tried my best at not making it as "special" as possible and tried giving it a very normal Slavic feel. It is spoken in the region of the river Tisa/Tisza which includes parts of modern Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The river is also the origin of the language's name (*tisьskъjь > /tʲiskɨ/ > /t͡sʲiski/).
The phonology of Cissian is a typical Slavic phoneme inventory in my opinion:
/p b t d k (g)/ <п б т д к (ґ)>
/(f) v s z ʃ ʒ x ɦ/ <(ф) в с з ш ж х г>
/t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ/ <ц s ч џ>
/m n r l j w/ <м н р л и в~у>
/a e i o u/ <а э и о у>
/ʲa ʲe ʲi ʲo ʲu/ <я е i ё ю>
Cissian is only written with the Cyrillic script. Some scholars wanted the language to switch to a Latin script but the proposed transcriptions were never adopted due to aesthetical issues and the resulting unpopularity. I will explain some of the choices I made for this script. The transcription that is normally used is partially based on Czech as most of the other transcriptions of Cyrillic and can be seen in the spoiler beneath the explanations.
- <ґ> /g/ is only used in loanwords and is therefore a modification of <г> /ɦ/ just as in other East Slavic languages which turned Proto-Slavic *g into a fricative.
- Single characters were favoured instead of digraphs to have a uniform script of one character per sound. This explains the existence of <s> and <џ> instead of the digraphs used in Russian etc.
- <ё> and <э> are used because of Russian influence. Before the latest orthography reform, the characters <ѧ> and <ѫ>
were still in use. The change was also heavily favoured because both adopted letters are easier to write and because of the aforementioned Russian influence.
- <и> and <i> are based off of Ukrainian's alphabet. At an older stage of Cissian, <и> represented both sounds because they were considered allophones but due to more modern changes, <i> was introduced as the difference between the two sounds in Ukrainian is similar to the difference in Cissian.
/(f) v s z ʃ ʒ x ɦ/ <(f) v s z š ž х h>
/t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ/ <c dz č dž>
/m n r l j w/ <m n r l j v~u>
/a e i o u/ <a e i o u>
/ʲa ʲe ʲi ʲo ʲu/ <ja je ji jo ju>
One thing I know for sure is that three consonants follow each other, the middle one can't be a liquid, nasal or in some cases a fricative (as this medial consonant would turn into the nucleus as a syllabic consonant). Two stops can follow each other at most and more than that is not permitted, so one of the three allowed consonants has to be something else than a stop. However in coda position, a liquid or a nasal is not allowed to be the very last consonant (as it will turn syllabic again). So *spl is allowed as an onset but not as a coda. The inverted case *lps is allowed in coda, but not as an onset.
Although I think it is clear most of the time, for those who are not familiar with Proto-Slavic's consonant inventory, here is the reconstructed phonology:
/m n nʲ/ <m n ň>
/p b t d c ɟ k g/ <p b t d ť ď k g>
/t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ (d͡ʒ)/ <c dz č (dž)>
/s z ʃ ʒ x/ <s z š ž x>
/r rʲ l lʲ j ʋ~w/ <r ř l ľ j v>
/i ɨ u i̯æ a/ <i y u ě a>
/ĭ ŭ e o/ <ь ъ e o>
Proto-Slavic to Proto-Cissian:
- High vowels (*i, *ь, *e, *ę and *ě) palatalise preceding consonants (*ne > /nʲe/). If a high vowel as well as *a was at the beginning of a word, a *j was added (*ablъko > *jablъko).
- Yers lengthened when they were in front of a *j to *i/*y (*malъjь > *malyjь).
- Havlik's law deletes weak years whereas strong yers changed into a sound speculated to have been a /ə/. Schwas stemming from front yers still retain the palatalisation (*pьsъ > /pʲəs/). Lost front yers leave behind palatalisation on the preceding consonant.
- The consonant clusters *dl/*tl were retained in the dialect spoken by the Tisa just as in the West Slavic area. Words like *modlitva and *mydlo therefore remain unchanged.
- Like the West dialects, Proto-Slavic *ś from palatalised *x didn't change to *s like in South and East Slavic, but it didn't merge with *š either and it might have been /ɕ/ at this stage.
- The consonants *ť/*ď didn't change at well and were kept as palatal stops.
- The yat (*ě) remained unchanged in this stage but it is most likely to have been retained as /ʲæ/.
- Contrary to West Slavic languages, the Cissian Slavic dialect palatalises the sequences *kv/*gv before front vowels (*květъ > *cvět). The dialect that serves for the modern spoken standard even takes it a step further and palatalises other sequences such as *kn/*gn and *kl/*gl (*gnězdo > *dznězdo). Other dialects don't feature this change though.
- Concerning the liquid metathesis, the Cissian dialect behaved like the West and South Slavic dialects and changed *oR into *Ra and *eR into *Re (*ordlo > *radlo). It is to note that *eR changed into *Re and not *Rě because of the yat's different realisation which lead to *Rě /Rʲie/ changing to /rʲe/ rather than /Rʲæ/. This change preceded Havlik's law in this dialect, so *ъR/*ьR don't result in syllabic liquids in a lot of instances (*sъlnьce > /salnʲt͡sʲe/, compare Slovak "slnce").
- The nasal vowels *ę/*ǫ were kept, but they started shifting in a "circular" motion like in modern French and were pronounced /æ̃/, written *ją, and /ɪ̃/, written *y̨ (*tęžьkъjь > *tjąžkyj).
- Final ojo-type vowel sequences were shortened into one syllable like in West Slavic. It is not known if these contractions resulted in long vowels like in Czech although it is likely they were and were shortened at a later stage. In some cases, this led to velars appearing in front of front vowels again (*dьlgajego/*dьlgǫjǫ > dlgego/dlgy̨).
- At the early stages of Old Cissian, the dialect began to distance itself from West and South Slavic dialects and shared many sound changes with Ukrainian, one of them being a prothetic *v in front of an *o (*ona > *vona). The former nasal vowel *ǫ is excluded from this change as it is not pronounced as /õ/ anymore.
- Old Cissian took part in the lenition of *g just like the bordering dialects of Ukrainian and Slovak. From now on this is "transcribed" as *h, although the Cissian pronunciation still seemed to be /ɣ/ at the time and only went further down the throat in later stages of the language (*bogyni > *bohyni).
- Affricates and certain fricatives (*c, *dz, *č, *š, *dž and *ž) lose their palatalisation.
- The yat splits into to different sounds depending on if the following consonant is palatalised or not. Before palatalised consonants, the result is a Ukrainian-like outcome of /ʲi/, otherwise it changes to /ʲa/ (*měsęcь > *misjąc). Simple /æ/ due to the aforementioned depalatalisation merges with *a (*cělovati > *calovati).
- Although not as fast as Ukrainian, Cissian starts to velarise non-palatalised *l (*vьlkъ > /vʲaɫk/)
- A very major change is the change of the Proto-Slavic accent to a East Slavic system. Vowel length (if the ojo-type contraction led to long vowels, they would have been shortened by now as well) and tone is lost, while the pitch accent is transformed into a stressed syllable (*kolě̀ně̄xъ > *kolі́njax).
- Although it was not changed in writing, nasal vowels *ją/*y̨, by now pronounced /ʲã/ and /ĩ/, lost their nasalisation at the end of a word, but they remained nasalised in every other environment.
- The palatal consonants (*ť, *ď and *ś) turn into palatalised palata-alveolars. The change of the former two into /͡tʃʲ/ and /d͡ʒʲ/ is assumed to be due to Serbo-Croatian influence. As *ś also behaved similarly, it's possible that these three phonemes were either /c~c͡ç ɟ~ɟ͡ʝ ç/ or /t͡ɕ d͡ʑ ɕ/ prior to the change (*xъťešь > /xt͡ʃʲeʃ/).
- Due to the strong palatalisation before *i, dental stops preceding that vowel transform into the affricates *c/*dz. However, these new affricates are still palatalised (*mati > /mat͡sʲi). An exception to this sound change are *sti/*zdi which remain as they are.
- Sometime during this stage the central high vowel *y merges with *i, creating a distinction between palatalised and non-palatalised *i. It is disputed whether *y was just an allophone of *i before this point of the language (*byvolъ > *bivol).
- Changes in palatalisation have begun with the loss of palatalisation in coda-final consonants (*blędь > *bljąd' > *bljąd).
- Both nasal vowels continue to move in their circular motions and end this process at the complete opposite of their original pronunciation. This means that former *ę/*ǫ are now *jǫ/*ę. By now they also lost their nasalisation completely and together with the former changes, this creates a vowel system in which every vowel (/a e i o u/) can exist either with or without palatalisation on the preceding vowel (*bǫděte > /bed͡zʲitʲe/).
- The vowel combination *ijV turns into *ʲV (*smějetь > *smjije > *smje).
- Earlier non-palatalised *l, which turned velar in coda position in Old Cissian, fully vocalised by now and is realised as /u̯/. This makes it merge with coda *v which was also realised as /u̯/ in this position (*dolъ > *dov). However, this change is very rare and is partially reverted in many words through analogy. A special case of this change is a velarised *l preceded by *u which turns the combination into a simple *u (*bulъ > *bu).
- *h /ɣ/ backed further in place of articulation and is now pronounced as /ɦ/ as in neighbouring Slavic languages like Ukrainian and Slovak. An important difference in Cissian is, that this sound was pronounced as /ʕ/ for a time (and it still is in more remote villages). Due to this transitional pronunciation, *h vocalised to *a in interconsonantal positions (*mьgla > *mala). Some dialects however have *o in this position.
- Cissian tries as much as possible to avoid coda consonant, therefore coda consonants are generally moved to the onset of the next syllable as much as possible. This is not always possible as some consonant clusters are too difficult to pronounce so this problem is solved by simplyfing consonant clusters or turning fricatives, nasals and liquids into syllabic consonants.
- Consonant cluster simplifications that are important to note on their own are those that create new phonemes. The clusters *šč/*ždž/*sc/*zdz undergo a shift that is similar to Russian and thus turn into *šj/*žj/*sj/*zj (*aščerъ > *jašjer).
- If a onset consonant is palatalised, every consonant that precedes them is palatalised as well until a vowel or a syllabic consonant breaks the row of consonants.
To end this post, here is a small collection of sentences I've written which I really like:
Знам само́ пёт слов ці́ских. / Znam samó pjot slov cjískix. - I know only five Cissian words.
Филм не бил-е по моі́м зрі́нем интэрэ́сни. / Film nje bil-je po mojím zrjínjem interésni. - The film wasn't interesting in my opinion.
Ми́слiм да е́сям кра́сна мо́куш. / Mísljim da jésjam krásna mókuš. - I think I am a beautiful squirrel.
And if anyone thinks they know, they can say where this is from:
Твое́ лiцэ́ и дра́гост под лі́пом прiпомiна́i мё на твоя́ во́ца. / Tvojé ljicé i dráhost pod ljípom prjipomjináji mjo na tvojá vóca. - Your face and the love under the linden tree remind me of your eyes. (that's how most Slavic languages translated these lyrics so I did it the same way)