Öklane: a linguistic overview

Öklane is a contemporary language from the planet Tekuo. Its speakers are a race of Ike, who call themselves and their language Öklane. Like the people of Mohai and most of Aheku, they belong to the Utai race (or copperfolk).

The language originated in Ökla, the largest nation-state on the continent of Umãga, to the north of Aheku. Ökla built an Empire in the early modern era, conquering much of South-East Umãka and North-East Aheku, but not Mohai.

Most Öklane speakers live in Ökla though there are sizeable minorities scattered across Ökla’s former empire. In Ezekaa for example, 5% of the population speaks Öklane and the language enjoys co-offical status with the local language Ezenii. Öklane is studied as a second language in many countries.

Öklane is a member of the Bight branch of the Bight-Cape language family, the largest language family on Umãka. This makes it a distant relation of Ezenii, a Cape language. The Bight-Cape languages are unrelated to the languages of Aheku, though a number of Öklane words have been borrowed into the Maritime languages, including Lemohai.

In contrast, Öklane borrows few words from other languages. Speakers prefer to coin new terms from the language’s own resources, though these terms are often loan-translations.

Öklane has three regional dialects. The main dialects are Eastern and Western. A third dialect, known as Metropolitan, is only spoken in and around the capital Kuonavaari and the nearby second city Blikuha. Metropolitan Öklane is essentially a transitional dialect between the Eastern and Western varieties, though it has some distinctive features of its own.

As the Kuonavaari region grew during the industrial era, it pulled in migrants from Eastern and Western dialect zones in equal numbers. This reinforced the local dialect’s transitional quality. The largest settlement in the Eastern dialect zone is the third city of Skovena. The largest in the Western zone is the fourth city, Imeküü.

The Öklane spoken abroad tends to be based on the Western dialect. Western Ökla was traditionally poorer than the East, so the area provided more migrants.

The morphosyntactic alignment of Öklane is nominative-accusative. Word order in the unmarked clause is Subject-Object-Verb. Phrases are mostly head-final. The language is mildly agglutinative, expressing much grammar by means of suffixes. Counting is in base sixteen. The language is written from left to right in a unicase alphabet.

Öklane phonology is characterised by front rounded vowels and a distinction between long and short vowels. The presence of a pair of bilabial fricatives is also notable. Syllables are maximally CCVV.

Nouns and pronouns may be singular or plural. They take one of four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive and postpositional. There is no grammatical gender. Demonstratives and numbers precede the noun. Adjectives, genitives and relative clauses normally precede the noun but may follow it to avoid long or unwieldy constructions.

The verb is marked for tense and telicity. It also has positive, negative and interrogative forms. There are no personal verb forms. Manner adverbs precede the main verb and the auxiliary verb follows. Verbal particles come last of all.

Adjectives and manner adverbs are distinguished from verbs but not from each other. They form their own word class. Direct adjectives/adverbs (those modifying a noun or verb) are distinguished from indirect ones (those modifying another adjective or adverb). This distinction partially captures the English distinction between adjectives and adverbs.

Sentence word order takes a topic-comment structure and subject pronouns may be dropped where the subject is clearly understood.

By David Johnson

Conlanger, writer and activist.


  1. Every story needs an antagonist and during the Early Modern era the empire of Ökla was the antagonist to the Maritime-speaking nations of Kuna, Tepi and Mohai. Ökla of course needed a language so I’ve worked quietly on Öklane in the background until I was happy to go public with it. It will be little documented here, I mostly need if for naming purposes. That said, it’s been fun to work on, so you never know. I may end up saying more about it than I originally intended!

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