Jülisk - En nîer-dîotiske selfmakte sprâk


This page is an introduction to my first and original conlang, called Jülisk (In English 'Julish'). This is a low German conlang, which is based mainly on modern low German, but includes elements of Dutch, Danish and West Frisian. I first began dabbling with a conlang like this probably 15-20 years ago, but started creating the conlang seriously around 1998. As I worked on it, it went through various stages of change, and led to the creation of new Germanic conlangs, mainly in the north Germanic branch. So, I have decided to go "back to basics" and recreate this conlang according to something closer to my original intentions, but with some modifications based upon what I have learnt since then. This page is a short introduction to this constructed language.

The language began as a single gender, three case grammatical system, using the definite article det for the nominative case, den for the accusative/dative case and des for the genitive case. The equivalent articles for the plurals were de, dem and der. I hadn't got much further with adjectival inflections and the like before the conlang went off in another direction. This time I have created what is basically a two gender, three case system, with common and neuter genders.This is unlike any Germanic dialect that I know of, although there may be some with similarities. I have put my choice of this system down to the possibility of a west Germanic language that has Dutch and Danish influences (the two genders) plus Low German characteristics (the reduced case system). With regard to the cases, Jürg Fleischer of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin states in Dative and indirect object in German dialects: Evidence from relative clauses:

"Among German dialects, we can observe some major differences from Standard German with respect to case. Most importantly, the genitive case is virtually non-existent in nearly all German dialects (see e.g. Mironow 1957: 392, Shrier 1965: 421, Koß 1983). If we take this into account, we are left with three potential remaining cases, namely, nominative, accusative, and dative (there seem to be no traces of the instrumental case functioning as such in any modern German variety). Of these three cases, dative has merged completely with accusative in some dialects; in these dialects, there is thus a two case-system distinguishing a nominative from an “objective” non-nominative case (encompassing direct and indirect object functions). Another pattern, merger of nominative and accusative, can be observed to a certain extent in many dialects as well, but this tendency never affects all parts of speech (for example, personal pronouns, unless specified for feminine or neuter gender, usually still distinguish a nominative from another case form)."

Thus, this conlang has adopted the paradigm stated in the section in italics, with nominative/accusative merged for nouns but accusative/dative merged for pronouns (but see exceptions under the pronouns section below). I have also included a genitive case, whereas this is usually the first case to be lost before any other case mergers take place. I have qualified this, hoewever, by stating that this case is largely a literary hangover rather than something that would be used in everyday speech.

Pronunciation and orthography

The Julish alphabet contains 21 letters, of which 16 are consonants and 5 are vowels: a, b, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, z. There is no c, q, w, x or y.


The five main vowels may be marked for extra length with a circumflex, â, ê, î, ô and û, and there are three umlauted versions, ä, ö and ü. Vowels tend to be long when stressed at the end of a word, when followed by a single consonant and then another vowel and when followed by the letter 'r'. In any other situation the circumflex is used to indicate its length. The main vowel sounds are as follows:

Spelling Examples
a in orthographically closed syllables kat, tasse
a in orthographically open and â in closed syllables jar, gane, sprâk
e, ä in orthographically closed syllables bed, sette, männe
e, ä deres, väre
e in orthographically open and ê in closed syllables bên, ene, dê
i in orthographically closed syllables spit, sitte
[iː] i in orthographically open and î in closed syllables hir, vîn, vite
[ɔ] o in orthographically closed syllables and â in some words e.g. kâld on, botten, âld, hâlde
[oː] o in orthographically open and ô in closed syllables bôk, bove, do, for
[u] u in orthographically closed syllables rud, busse
[uː] u in orthographically open and û in closed syllables hûs, lupen, nu
[y] ü in orthographically closed syllables hünne
[yː] ü in orthographically open syllables vürde
[ø] ö in orthographically closed syllables mölle, söt
[øː] ö in orthographically open syllables böke, för
[ə] mostly e (in unstressed syllables) de, det, sîe
Diphthongs Spelling Examples
[eːə] êo têon
[iːə] îa, îe, îo sîen, nîon


The consonants are shown in the table below. For the most part the phonetic symbols coincide with the orthography, and [ŋ] is <ng>.

p, b
t, d
k, g
f, v
s, z

Nouns and articles


Nouns may be of either common or neuter gender, e.g. bôm 'tree' (common); hûs 'house' (neuter).

The indefinite article

When we are not talking about a specific item, we use the indefinite article. In English this is ‘a' or ‘an', e.g. ‘a house', ‘an apple'. In Julish there are two words used, which depend upon the gender of the noun it refers to. The indefinite article for all nouns whether common or neuter is en [ən], e.g. en bôm, en hûs.

The definite article

When we are speaking of a definite object, then we use the definite article ‘the'. In Julish this also depends on the gender of the noun, de [də] for common nouns and det [dɛt] for neuter nouns, e.g. de bôm, det hûs. In everyday speech it is common for the word det to be pronounced in the same way as de.


There are four cases in Julish; nominative, accusative, genitive and dative. The case of a noun depends upon its usage in a sentence. For example, in the sentence 'The man gave the girl's book to the boy', the cases are as follows:

Nominative: the man, as he is the subject, or doer, of the sentence.

Accusative: the book, as it is the direct object, i.e. the object that is being acted upon (i.e. given).

Dative: the boy, as he is the indirect object of the sentence. Generally, but not always, a noun in the dative case is preceded by a preposition, in this case 'to'.

Genitive: the girl, as the book belongs to her.

This sentence in Julish would be De man jaf det bôk dets mädjes to den jungt or De man jaf det mädjes bôk to den jungt or even De man jaf det mädje hir bôk to den jungt. The first is considered "correct" in the written language, but the other two are more common in the spoken language. So, here we see some additional articles here such as des, dets and den. These are used to indicate case. The definite articles used in respect of each case is shown in the table below. Note that nominative and accusative are identical and are therefore classed together.

Case Common indefinite Common definite Neuter indefinite Neuter definite
Nom/acc en man de man en hûs det hûs
Dative en man den man en hûs den hûs
Genitive ens mans des mans ens hûses dets hûses

Note that the intital e- is usually omitted from the inflected indefinite article.


Plurals are generally denoted with the addition of the suffix –e, –en or –er. Sometimes this involves a change in the stem vowel of the noun as well, and in some cases there is no change to the noun.

männe men hüse houses
spitte tops böke books
tassen cups mädjen girls
bottne floors jare years

The definite articles used with plurals are de (nom/acc), dem (dative) and der (genitive). In the dative case the suffix –n is often added to the noun but this is often omitted in the spoken language.

De männe leje de teppen in dem hüsen 'The men are laying carpets in the houses'
De sunne skînt op dem däkken der hüse 'The sun is shining on the roofs of the houses'

Use of the genitive is not universal in the spoken language, and the second sentence above is just as likely to be rendered as De sunne skînt op dem däkken fan dem hüsen.

Although it may seem odd, the indefinite article can be used in the plural. In this situation it can be considered in the same way as the English word 'some'. The articles are ene, ener and enem.

ene böme 'some trees' ene hüse 'some houses'


As with most Germanic languages, the adjectives comes before the noun that it refers to:

En grôt hûs 'A big house'
De jonge man 'The young man'

Adjectives are inflected according to the case and number of the noun, falling into different groups.

Strong inflection

  Common Neuter Plural
Nom/acc -e - -e
Dative -en -en -em
Genitive -en -en -er

This is used when there is no preceding article.

vite vîn 'white wine kâld vatter 'cold water' grote hüse 'big houses
med ruden stên 'with red stone' in kâlden vatter 'in cold water in hardem tiden 'in hard times'
sampten aj 'of soft egg' kâlden vatter 'of cold water' riker männe 'of rich men'

Weak inflection

  Common Neuter Plural
Nom/acc -e -e -e
Dative -en -en -en
Genitive -en -en -en

This is used when there is a preceding definite article. These include sulk 'such', ilk 'each/every', vilk 'which', disse/dit 'this/these', al 'all'.

de vite vîn 'the white wine' det kâlde vatter 'the cold water' de grote hüse 'the big houses'
sulke gode vîn 'such good wine' dit kâlde vatter 'this cold water' vilke grote hüse 'which big houses'
med den ruden stên 'with the red stone' in den kâlden vatter 'in the cold water in dem hegen bergen 'in the high mountains'
ân ilken nüen daj 'on each new day' in sulken kâlden vatter 'in such cold water' in sulkem groten hüsen 'in such big houses'
des jongen jungts 'of the young boy' dets jongen mädjes 'of the young girl' der riken männe 'of the rich men'
ilkes jongen mans 'of each young man' dits stolten lan 'of this proud country' aller stolten fader 'of all proud fathers'

Mixed inflection

  Common Neuter Plural
Nom/acc -e - -en
Dative -en -en -en
Genitive -en -en -en

This is used when there is a preceding indefinite article. These include gên 'no/none', min 'my', din 'your', hir 'her', or 'our', jor 'your' and der 'their'.

gên vite vîn 'no white wine' jor jong kin 'your young child' minne nüen klede 'my new clothes'
en svarte kat 'a black cat' en grôt hûs 'a big house' ene nüen hüse 'some new houses'
in minnen nüen vajn 'in my new car' in dinnen nüen hûs 'in your new house' med jorem jongen kinne 'with your young children'
in en ruden vajn 'in a red car' in en nüen hûs 'in a new house' in enem âlden hüsen 'in some old houses'
minnes nüen vajns 'of my new car' ores nüen hûses 'of our new house' gener nüen hüse 'no new houses'
ens âlden mans 'of an old man' ens jongen mädjes 'of a young girl' derer stolten äldern 'of their proud parents'


Personal pronouns

Unlike nouns, the personal pronouns have generally merged their accusative and dative forms into an objective or non-nominative case, mostly taking the historical dative forms. The exception is the neuter, which, for pronouns, relates to inanimate objects rather than nouns in the neuter case, and keeps the accusative form separate from the dative. For example ik slajd de jungt / ik slajd hin 'I hit him', but ik kôpt det bôk / ik kôpt het 'I bought it'. Consequently, the feminine and masculine pronouns are used only for humans and animals of those sexes.

Nominative Objective Possessive
ik I mi me min my
do you (informal) di you din your
he hin him hes his
si she hir her hir her
het it het/den it hets its
vi we os us or our
jo you (formal) ji you jor your
they dem them der their

All of the possessives apart from hes and hets are declinable in the same way as en.


Reflexive pronouns

Used to refer back to the subject, e.g. Ik vask mi 'I wash myself'

mi myself
di yourself
si himelf / herself / itself / oneself
os ourselves
ji yourselves
si themselves

A distinction can be shown here between He vasket sik 'He washes (himself)' and He vasket hin 'He washes him' (i.e. someone else)

Interrogative pronouns

  Subjective Objective Possessive
Personal ("who/whom") ven ves
Impersonal ("what") vat vat -


Vê is dê? Who is that? / Who are they?
Med ven gîet jo? Whom did you go with?
Ves vajn is dat? Whose car is that

Relative pronouns

"That", "Which".

  Common Neuter Plural
Nom/acc dat
Dative den den dem
Genitive dessen detsen deren

Demonstrative pronouns

"That", "Those".

  Common Neuter Plural
Nom/acc dat
Dative den den dem
Genitive dessen detsen deren

"This", "These"

  Common Neuter Plural
Nom/acc disse dit disse
Dative dissen dissen dissem
Genitive disses disses disser


Present tense

Verbs are conjugated in the present tense according to person and number. Regular verbs follow a standard pattern, illustrated here using the verbs lupe 'to run' and hîere 'to hear' .

Person Singular   Plural  
1st ik lûp 'I run / am running' vi lupe 'we run / are running'
2nd do lûps 'you run / are running' jo lupe 'you run / are running'
3rd hê/si/het lûpt 'he/she/it runs / is running' dê lupe 'they run / are running'
1st ik hîer 'I hear' vi hîere 'we hear'
2nd do hîers 'you hear' jo hîere 'you hear'
3rd hê/si/het hîert 'he/she/it hears' dê hîere 'they hear'

So, generally speaking, the first person singular takes the stem of the infinitive (i.e. without the final -e), to which the second person adds -s and the third person add -t. The plural forms are all idenitcla to the infinitive.

Irregular verbs do not follow such regular patterns, however. A classic example is the verb bîe, 'to be'.

Person Singular   Plural  
1st ik bi 'I am' vi bin 'we are'
2nd do bis 'you are' jo bin 'you are'
3rd hê/si/het is 'he/she/it is' dê bin 'they are'

Past tense

In the past tense, we have weak and strong verbs. Weak verbs form their past tenses in a regular way, by the addition of -d, -t or -et. These forms are then conjugated in the same way as in the present tense. Here are two examples.

Lupe 'to run'

Person Singular   Plural  
1st ik lûpt 'I ran' vi lûpte 'we ran'
2nd do lûptes 'you ran' jo lûpte 'you ran'
3rd hê/si/het lûptet 'he/she/it ran' dê lûpte 'they run'

Hîere 'to hear'

Person Singular   Plural  
1st ik hîerd 'I heard' vi hîerde 'we heard'
2nd do hîerdes 'you heard' jo hîerde 'you heard'
3rd hê/si/het hîerdet 'he/she/it heard' dê hîerde 'they heard'

Strong verbs form their past tenses in an irregular fashion, e.g. by changing the vowel sound or other aspect of the original stem. This is the smae in English, for example the past tense of 'sing' is 'sang'. The following example illustrates this using the verb jeve 'to give'.

Person Singular   Plural  
1st ik jaf 'I gave' vi jave 'we gave'
2nd do jafs 'you gave' jo jave 'you gave'
3rd hê/si/het jaf 'he/she/it gave' dê jave 'they gave'

Perfect tense

The perfect tense is formed using the present tense of have 'to have' or bîe 'to be' with the past participle of the relevant verb, e.g. vi have det middajsmâl ete 'we have eaten (had) lunch' or bin to den skole gane 'they have gone to school.

Weak verbs tend to form their past participles by the addition of either -d, -t or occasionally -et.

Infinitive   Past participle
lupe walk lûpt
hîere hear hîerd

Strong verbs have irregular past participles.

Infinitive   Past participle
bîe be veze
sîe see sîe

See the table in Appendix D for a fuller list of strong verbs.

Numbers and time

Numbers (De Täle)

The numbers from 1 to 20 are as follows.


The numbers from 21 onwards follow the following pattern.

ên on tvêonti
tvê on tvêonti
tri on tvêonti
fîor on tvêonti
fîf on tvêonti
ses on tvêonti
sîofen on tvêonti
âkt on tvêonti
nîon on tvêonti

Ordinal numbers (Rangtel täle)

Most numbers form their ordinals by the addition of -de or -te, e.g. det tvede hûs 'the second house', de seste daj 'the sixth day'. As in English, 'first' is irregular, ärste. Also, the numbers ending in -ti, e.g. tvêonti add -ste: de tvêontiste maj 'the twentieth of May'. Abbreviated form are created by adding -e in all cases, e.g. 1e, 2e, 10e etc.

Measuring time (Tîd mete)

en sekond a second
en minût a minute
en ûr an hour
en daj a day
en vuke a week
en mând a month
en jar a year

Days of the week (De daje fan den vuke)

Mândaj Monday
Dînsdaj Tuesday
Vünsdaj Wednesday
Tunnersdaj Thursday
Fridaj Friday
Saterdaj Saturday
Sunnedaj Sunday

Months of the year (De mânde fan den jar)

Januar January
Februar February
Märts March
April April
Maj May
Juni June
Juli July
August August
September September
Oktober October
November November
Desember December


Ik skref disse artikel op den tvêontisten märts, in den jar tvê duzent têon.



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C - Irregular verbs

Appendix D - Strong verbs

Infinitive   Past (sing.) Past (plur.) Past participle
bîe be vas vaze veze
gane go gi gîe gane
sîe see sâe sîen
spreke speak sprâk sprake sproke
have have had hadde had
dûe do dâd dade dân
tenke think takt takte takt
drinke drink drank dranke dronke
ete eat ât ate ete
jute pour jôt jote jote
slepe sleep slâp slape slape
slutte close slot slotte slotte
finne find fan fanne funne
ferleze lose ferlôs ferloze ferloze
singe sing sang sange sunge
vete know vût vute vitte
falle fall fîel fîelle falle
vulle want to vuld vulde vuld
sulle shall, will suld sulde suld
steje climb sti stîe stîe
ferjette forget ferjat ferjatte ferjette
skrive write skrêf skreve skreve
lîe lie laj laje laje
hâlde hold hîeld hîelde hâlde
stane stand stun stunne stunne


Appendix E - Lexicon

dör (dörre) nc door
fot (fötte) nc foot
tûm (tume) nc thumb
hêg adj high
stên (stene) nc stone
han (hänne) nc hand
binne (ban/bunne) vs bind
sulle (suld) vs shall
vulle (vuld) vs will, want to
gane (gî/gane) vs go
brur (brure) nc brother
skrive (skref/skreve) vs write
orsak nc cause
ansvurd nn answer
näst adj next
gejn prep against
tiske prep between
suk/sukke adj such
vîer nn weather
nîts pron nothing
nît   not
skîep (skîeppe) nn sheep
kü (küe) nc cow
han (hänne) nc hand
daj (daje) nc day
vukke (vukken) nc week
sko (skôe) nc shoe
mând (mânde) nc month
mote (mötte) vs must
lat adv late
bîe (vas/veze) vs be
aj (ajer) nn egg
skîere (skîerd/skîerd) vw shave
spîel (spîele) nc mirror
oj (oje) nn eye
vune (vûnd/vûnd) vw live (dwell)
kin (kinne) nn child


Appendix F - The Babel Text

De Babel Tekst op Jülisk

1A. Nu had de hele vereld ên sprâk on en almene tâl.
2A. Alt männe si âstvärd bevejde, fon dê en flakke in Sjinar on setelde dê dar.
3A. Sajde dê to enôer, "Kom, lat os bakstene makke on bakke dem drogelik." Dê brûkte bakstene in plats fan stên, on tär för mortel.
4A. Dan sajde dê, "Kom, lat os to os en stad büe, med en torn, dê op to den hemel rîkt, so dat vi kunne en name för os makke on vi sulde nît över den helen vereld ferspredet bîe."
5A. Men de Hêr kam nîer om de stad on de torn to sîe, dem de männe büde.
6A. De Hêr sajde, "Jif dê, alt ên lîu, dê de selve sprâk tale, kan dit dûe, dan sul nît för dem immejlik bîe.
7A. Kom, lat os nîer gane on dêr sprâk ferverre, so dat dê sul nît enôer ferstîe."
8A. Also ferspredet de Hêr al dem fan dar över den helen vereld, on dê hîelde op de stad to büe.
9A. Darom vas het rôpt Babel, för dar ferverret de Hêr de sprâk fan den helen vereld on fan dar ferspredet de Hêr dem över den sîet des helen verelds.



ə = 601; ɛ = 603; ɔ = 596; ː = 720; ɪ = 618; ŋ = 331;

ami RQ-20