Leafoosish
Buttons Leafoosish (Leafoosish: llyffws /ɬɪ'fus/) is the only known living Romance language that is spoken mainly by cats. It is descended from a dialect of Old French called le français des chats (English: the cats' French), but has been heavily influenced by the dialect of Welsh known as Cymraeg y cathod (English: the cats' Welsh) and to a lesser extent by Irish. (From here on in, the phrases "le français des chats" and "Cymraeg y cathod" will be abbreviated to "LFC" and "CYC", respectively.) Leafoosish is spoken primarily in the country of Leafoosh (Llyffw), but little is known about this country because the Leafoosish dislike giving explanations1. All that has been discovered2 is a supposed lack of both lush grass and adequate rain. The latter claim has puzzled many3, because cats are notorious for disliking water4.

Alphabet and phonology

The spelling and sound inventory of Leafoosish are closest to Welsh (with far fewer schwas5). The only remaining influence of Irish is the phenomenon known as "soft 's'", which is descended from palatalization, a feature otherwise lacking in modern Leafoosish.

The circumflex is used to differentiate between words that would otherwise be spelled the same, or in the case of <e>, to indicate that it is not reduced. (Leafoosish ê corresponds roughly to French ai or é.) The acute accent is used to mark long vowels.

Letter Name Pronunciation
A a á [a] (far)
B b [b] (bit)
C c [k] (act)
D d [d] (dot)
Dd dd dwble ddé [ð] (then)
E e é [e] (air) in open syllables; [ɛ] (pet) in closed syllables; [ə] (banana) in final position or when unstressed.
F f [v] (of)
Ff ff dwble fé [f] (fish)
G g [g] (get)
H h has [h] (hair)
I i i [i] (eat)
L l el [l] (lamp)
Ll ll dwble el [ɮ] (same position as lamp, but make a "z" sound) when soft-mutated; [ɬ] (same position as lamp, but make an "s" sound) elsewhere.
M m em [m] (map)
N n en [n] (nap)
O o o [o] (open) in open syllables; [ɔ] (or) in closed syllables.
P p [p] (apple)
R r er [r] (rolled r; if you can't do that, then just say it like better spoken quickly)
S s es [s] (sun) before a, o, u, w; [ʃ] (sure) before e, i, y; [z, ʒ] (zenith, pleasure) when soft-mutated and sometimes elsewhere.
T t [t] (part)
Th th - [θ] (thin)
U u u [u] (to)
W w dwble u [w] (water) preceding a vowel; [u] (to) elsewhere.
Y y i grec [ɪ] (pit)

Mutations

Leafoosish, like the Celtic languages, has initial consonant mutations, but because it has borrowed the CYC system and not a more typical one, there is only one mutation, the soft mutation. This mutation occurs after words that end in vowels within the same clause (and after all, dell and dill, because they are contractions of a le, de le and de li, respectively).

1st state (unmutated) 2nd state (soft)
p b
t d
c g
ff f
th dd
b f
d dd
g .
f .
dd .
m f
n .
r .
l .
ll [ɬ] ll [ɮ]
s [s, ʃ] s [z, ʒ]

(. = no change)

Unfortunately for learners of Leafoosish (of which there are very few anyway6), the standard orthography does not show two of the mutations, as is visible in the table above: that of <ll> and that of <s>. There has been talk recently of adding the letter 'z' to the alphabet to represent the sound [z ~ ʒ], but to date this idea has been almost universally rejected by the Leafoosish7.

Syllable structure

Leafoosish syllable structure is somewhat stricter than English8, allowing only (C)(C)V(V)(C)(C) with the additional stipulation that /sp/, /st/ and /sk/ are not possible word-initially. This last rule is still productive in most Romance languages, but interestingly not modern French. It has also been lost in Erian, the other language descended from LFC.

Number system

Leafoosish uses a vigesimal system to write numbers. The words for numbers are either decimal, quintadecimal or vigesimal. The origin of vigesimal and decimal forms is obvious, but not so for quintadecimal, over which there has been much speculation9. The current theorya holds that the quintadecimal forms originate with a cat language other than CYC, but this is controversialb.

Number word Representation Decimal representation
yn 1 1
dw 2 2
trei 3 3
catar 4 4
senc 5 5
sis 6 6
set 7 7
wit 8 8
nwff 9 9
dis a 10
ons b 11
dus c 12
trais d 13
cators e 14
cens f 15
cens e yn g 16
cens e ddw h 17
cens e drei i 18
cens e gatar j 19
fint 10 20
fint e yn 11 21
fint e nwff 19 29
dw-gens 1a 30
dw-fint 20 40
trei-gens 25 45
trei-gens e senc 2a 50
trei-fint 30 60
trei-fint e gens 3f 75
catar-fint 40 80
catar-fint e ddis 4a 90
sean 50 100

References

1. Cat Societies of the World: an essay. Lavinia Upton.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Minou, Bingham and Maeno. p. 12.
5a. Sessiwn Kemres (link)
5b. kimkat1677e / Welsh-English Dictionary / SECTION MI / Y Gwe-eiriadur - Geiriadur Cymraeg a Saesneg (link)
6. Ibid 1.
7. Y gath Cymrygath (newspaper). "Yn maniffestaseon all syseth dell leter sed" (English: a protest about the letter z).
8. Wikipedia (link)
9. Ibid 1.
a. Ibid.
b. Ibid.


Page last modified on: 28/07/12 (standard notation)