Dieva is a constructed language, also known as a conlang, an artificial language, or an invented language. It is specifically an "artistic" constructed language because it is used by a civilization in a fiction novel setting (similar to Quenya in Lord of the Rings or Klingon in Star Trek). It was created by Allison Lambert, Wikia user Lamballi, beginning in January 2016. This Wikia page began in February 2017. Dieva is currently being used in her Barrett, the Honors College honors thesis at Arizona State University. It is also continually being expanded and changed.

More information about conlangs can be found here:

This wiki is one of the projects within her thesis. It is an attempt to localize various modes of information into one place and to make information about Dieva available to the public. Essentially, this is one part of an alternative to a formal thesis paper. Please message Lamballi if you have any questions, advice, or suggestions. Enjoy the wiki!


Dieva contains many patterns that are used widely across modern languages such as modern English, post-1991 Russian, and modern Mexican Spanish; many other patterns that are very rare in existing languages; and one or two patterns including clausal word order which are entirely unique to Dieva.

Phonologically, the language contains 31 pulmonic sounds which are divided into 12 vowels and 19 consonants. The vowels are further divided into 6 monophthongs and 6 equivalent semi-glides (also called iotated vowels). Eleven of the 19 consonants are fricative sounds, and 12 of the 19 are voiced. Dieva has a perfectly phonemic correlating alphabet and writing system, and uses "western" writing conventions such as reading from left to right and from top to bottom. Eight of the consonant sounds are combined into four pairs of alphabetic symbols, and two sounds have multiple correlating symbols in the script. 

Morphologically, and in comparison to both the other constructed languages created throughout the class as well as the creator’s experience with languages and language samples, Dieva is very regulated and simple. Everything has a rule and a place. This is likely due to the fact that Dieva is a synthetic agglutinative language which allows for simple prefixes and suffixes but not, for example, more complicated infixes or circumfixes. Moreover, Dieva has one specific order of elements for noun phrases and two orders for clauses. It has nine pronouns and their respective markers that follow detailed rules for attaching to verbs and combining with other affixes, and all affixes have an order of attachment to the root word. Dieva is typologically head-marking and utilizes additional affixes for the six verb tenses, diminutive marker, plural marker, and negation marker. 

Semantically, Dieva culture adds to the language by way of personifying the natural elements and assigning judgment value to meteorological and astronomical events. Dieva people also acknowledge (although more passively than religiously) the over-arching existence of five spirits, each of which categorizes several similar natural disasters which are overtly and directly reflected in the language. They are also heavily matriarchal, scientific, and curious as a culture, each of which can be seen in their metaphors and translations. 

Pragmatically, speech acts are encoded into the pragmatics of the language, and they explain how to form direct and indirect questions; how to tag a statement to make it sarcastic, sardonic, or in some way not serious or truthful; and how to form commands, orders, and other assertive statements. 


Dieva (pronounced ['djɛːvə]) is a constructed language that is spoken and written within a fantasy novel series set in an alternate universe, on a planet habitable much like Earth that orbits a practically identical star. It is the native language and official language of the human citizens of Diev, a country comparable to the size of modern France that is primarily surrounded by ocean. It connects to the larger mainland in the northeast, similar to how Spain is attached to the rest of Europe. Dieva is a hybrid language of Proto-Northern and Proto-Dena, which are both now extinct. Written examples of Old West Dena are attested from the year YA100 (~1600 A.D. Earth) by the survivors of the Northern Coastal and Dena peoples.

Dievonda Final Map png

Geographical map of south-southwest area of the country of Dievonda

The country is highly agricultural and specializes in the arts and sciences, especially astronomy and meteorology. Its government is an absolute monarchy using primogeniture enatic succession, where the ruler is always the oldest female heir. The government prefers to be isolationist as it focuses on rebuilding, education, consolidation, and growth after the Catastrophe event, and continues to prefer these isolationist policies even up to the setting of the novel.

Dieva is spoken by everyone in the country and has no restrictions based on social class, race, or similar distinctions. Similarly, the script is used for everything; that is, there is no separate language for law or government, commoners versus nobles, medicine, or other subjects, although jargon and colloquialisms are widespread, varied, and continuously changing as they are in modern English. Other country’s languages informally influence Dieva similar to how Mexican Spanish and American English mix at the countries' shared border (and as opposed to, for example, how the Chinese would not incorporate any Mongolian language even when ruled by them).

Dieva is similar to post-1991 Russian concerning the use of ‘double vowels’ like [i] and [ji] (which are also known as semi-glides, Y-vowels, or iotated vowels) and their correlating alphabetic script. In comparison to many constructed languages, this one is more human-like; that is, it follows conventions and patterns that many existing languages use rather than purposefully attempting to use the least common rules or ‘strangest’ kinds of patterns. This is partially artistic choice, and partially due to the fact that only humans live on this world, so the possible sounds and strings of logic are human-made (as opposed to influenced by another animal or alien species, for example). Also, it was built using designs that would hopefully be familiar to some of the rules or patterns found in students’ native spoken languages (for example, the idea of verb tense through conjugation of a base form, especially through suffixes).

The culture is based heavily on nature, specifically on the respect for and often fear of weather and natural disasters. The primary belief system of the country is non-theistic and naturalist (but not animist). It revolves around the acknowledgement of, but not worship of, five nature spirits, where each spirit represents a group of natural disasters: 1. Hurricane, which includes floods, tsunamis, and water cyclones; 2. Tornado, including winds and blizzards; 3. Earthquake, including methane explosions and sinkhole collapses; 4. Firestorm, including volcanic eruptions, geysers, forest fires, and ash; and 5. Debris, which includes meteor showers, mudslides, and rockslides.

The Catastrophe

The language was originally a creole language formed by the two tribal nations that lived near the coast, which is located south-southwest of where the capital city now stands. A series of extremely destructive natural disasters including tsunamis destroyed the two tribes’ homelands and killed over 75% of the population, and both nations were forced to migrate north and northeast and join together in defense against other tribes, animals, and nature. They signed a declaration of unity and lived as neighbors, felling most of the vast inland forest and building new settlements in the process. By the second generation, a creole had been formed; later, a formal proclamation was announced that the two tribes officially merge as one, their respective writing systems combined, and the languages developed into one unified hybrid language (with naturally-occurring dialects emerging later) as the parent languages converged. This was partly the result of bilateral influence, as stated, but also dialect leveling; e.g., the creole grew independently but then governments became involved and directive after the Catastrophe. The novel is set about three hundred years after this merging and Dieva has been thoroughly unified as well as instituted as the country’s official language.


In the year YA100 (~1600 A.D. Earth), there were approximately 3.5 million citizens among both tribes - 1.6 million from the Northern tribe and 1.9 million from the Dena tribe. In the year Y000 (~1700 A.D. Earth), which is the year of The Catastrophe, there were an estimated 875,000 citizens from both tribes who fled the disasters and about 800,000 who survived through the next month and began rebuilding their civilizations (and creating Dieva from their two parent languages). In the year Y300 (~2000 A.D. Earth), there were 8.1 million people within the country and another 4 million people across the rest of the world who spoke Dieva.


Phonological rules in Dieva include, first, the fact that /t/ becomes aspirated to become [th] at the beginning of a word (similar to modern English). Presently, it is the only voiceless plosive permitted as a word-initial onset; if the language were ever to include other voiceless plosives word-initially, then they would follow this same rule. Second, unstressed vowels reduce to [ə] (see Syllable Structure below). Third, penultimate syllables receive the stress in most nouns and verbs, except for proper nouns, which can have any stress. Fourth, front vowels assimilate toward back vowels when preceding [ç]; [ji] will assimilate toward [jo], and ([je], [jæ], [ja]) will assimilate toward [ju]. I recognize that the fourth rule is extremely specific; it is correct as written.

Syllable Structure

In the syllable structure of Dieva, only vowels can be nuclei. The sounds [p], [ʂ], [ʐ], and [ç] can only be codas and are almost always seen as word-final codas; however, it is possible to use them in the middles of words, especially as part of proper nouns. There is currently one exception to this rule: the word [pæstem], meaning ‘eight’ – this word was kept because it was the same word in both parent languages. All words can begin with any vowel or consonant, commonly with a iotated ([j]V) vowel. All words can end with any sound, with a preference for non-iotated vowels and [p].

Using a formula with V standing for the nucleus (vowel) and C for each consonant, the structure can be described as follows:


Syllable Pronunciation

Syllable pronunciation varies depending on the number of syllables in a word; prospective students of Dieva will have to learn the pronunciation rules for each number of syllables, for categories of words, and for specific words. The stress on two-syllable words varies about half and half: for example, the word [siva] ‘letter’ stresses the first syllable, while the word [matip] ‘young woman’ stresses the last. The stress generally falls on the penultimate syllable in three- and five-syllable words; for example, [tasija] ‘queen’ and [vutmato] ‘she throws.’ There is hypothetically no limit to how many syllables one word can contain. Vowels reduce to schwa ([ə]) in unstressed syllables by rule, though with many exceptions.


In Dieva, there are nineteen (19) consonants, which are entirely pulmonic and consist of fifty-eight percent (58%) fricative sounds. There are no laterals or rhotics, both of which existed in the two parent tribal languages (laterals in one and rhotics in the other), but those as well as any velar consonants were removed by the government. However, the sound (but not letter) /ts/ is allowed in Dieva. All /sh/ sounds were reduced to only the to the voiced and voiceless post-alveolar fricatives /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ .  

The palatal approximant [j] does not function as a consonant – it combines with each of the six basic vowel sounds to form six additional parallel vowels, similar to the Russian vowel pairs such as и and й (pronounced [i] and [ji], respectively). This is called iotation (pronounced ‘yo-tay-shun’). When forming syllable structure, the [j]V vowel does not count as a consonant-initial syllable – it always functions as a vowel, both written and spoken. 

There is no distinction concerning features such as ejectives, nasalization, or aspiration that would denote different words, and speakers can still be understood if they use said distinctions. There are also societal rules that dictate what is considered the ‘correct’ or ‘standard’ pronunciation, but there are no phonological rules either for or against those and any similar features. Word distinctions rely almost entirely on consonant differentiation, like [b] versus [p].

   Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal
Plosive p b t d
Fricative f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ç
Nasal m ɱ n ŋ
Approximant (j)

Dieva Consonants in IPA


There are twelve (12) total vowels in Dieva – six base vowels [i], [e], [æ], [a], [u], and [o], and their respective palatal approximant pairs [ji], [je], [jæ], [ja], [ju], and [jo]. Those in the second list function solely as vowels even though they are technically semi-glides. There is no distinction in length, roundness, tone, or other feature in vowels. The palatal approximant [j] does not function alone – it is always half of a vowel sound and never a standalone consonant. (See Consonants above; called iotation.) In the same vein, any rules involving a [j]V sound are treated as rules for vowels and not as rules for a CV syllable. (See Syllable Structure above.) There are no diphthongs (or triphthongs, quadriphthongs…) in Dieva, and all sounds are perfectly phonemic.

Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o


Open a

Dieva Vowels in IPA

Alphabet and Writing System

Dieva is written using a unique Dievan alphabet. The Dievan alphabet consists of 27 letters: 12 vowels and 15 consonants. The vowels consist of six pairs where the first sound in the pair is "normal" and the second sound has a 'Y' in front. These six Y-vowels are called semi-glides. The following table gives the alphabet along with the IPA values for each letter's typical sound and an approximate equivalent sound:

Name of Letter IPA English equivalent Dieva Example Word
ee i like ee in meet ‘ee’ (very)
yee ji like yie in yield ‘yee’ (good)
e e like e in fiesta

like Spanish ‘e

‘et’ (man)
ye je like ye in yes ‘ye’ (he)
aa æ like a in cat ‘daa’ (of)
yaa like ya in yak

like yeah

‘yaa’ (one)
ah a like o in not

like aw in dawn

‘yebah’ (ten)
yah ja like yaw in yawn

like ya in ya’ll

‘yah’ (I, me)
oo u like oo in moon ‘doom’ (need)
yoo ju like u in use

like you

o o like o in go

like Spanish ‘o

‘o’ (and)
yo jo like yo in your

like yo in yolk

‘ssyo’ (no)
em m, ɱ like m in mat

like m in symphony

‘moof’ (cloth)
en n, ŋ like n in nod

like ng in sing

’noo’ (with)
ep p like p in spin 'beep' (four)
eb b like b in be 'boof' (cloud)
et t like t in tan 'seet' (have)
ed d like d in dog 'daa' (go)
ef f like f in find 'faa' (to, into)
ev v like v in vet 'vosh' (six)
es θ like th in think ‘thoom’ (family)
eth ð like th in that ‘zeTH’ (river)
es s, z like s in so

like z in zoo

‘ees’ (cat)
esh ʃ like sh in fish ‘sheem’ (snow)
ezh ʒ like g in rouge

like s in pleasure

‘zhood’ (many)
etsh ʂ, ʐ like sh_ch in


‘ssyo’ (no)
hlh ('hil') ç like h in hue

like Chilean Spanish j in mujer

voiceless throat sound

‘thok’ (nine)
Dieva Alphabet with Examples

Concerning vowels, note that all [j]V or iotated symbols are generally the same as their V or non-iotated symbol equivalent with an added diagonal line. That line can be drawn either direction, and can vary greatly in length and clarity – the symbol won’t be ‘wrong.’ The lines can also either connect to the original V symbol or not; both are correct. The symbol for [jo] can be written two ways with no distinction about why or when to use either form other than ease of handwriting, especially concerning people who are left-handed versus right-handed (consider that it is easier to push the utensil different directions on the writing surface depending on one’s dominant hand – this has no cultural or other significance besides potential latent physiological use). Both forms of [jo] can be used in any word and neither form is more “correct."

Concerning consonants, the symbol for [b] was originally a “u” shape but is morphing into more of an “o” shape due to effects such as ease of writing and sheer laziness (language changes!). The “u” shape is older and considered more formal, as for legal writing, although both are acceptable. (As an analogy, consider writing a 7 as two normal lines versus the older version with a horizontal cross in the middle and a hook on the left: both are correct and the difference is mostly for style and sometimes for clarity against a 1.)

The Dieva alphabet was developed in about Y300 (~2000 A.D. Earth) by the survivors of the Northern Coastal and Dena peoples. It was primarily spoken and used for wood carving before it grew into a full pen-and-ink writing system. There are no separate lowercase and capital letters. There are also no official systems for handwritten versus carved, but handwritten letters will generally be more rounded.

The alphabet emerged primarily as a need to communicate between the two tribes who spoke different languages and neither of whom had a formal writing system beyond, for example, symbols drawn in the sand, directional markers, and visual language like art. Their spoken creole was more complex and included words primarily used for trading and diplomacy; it was also created much later. Because the two groups later migrated up to the edge of and into a large forest, they turned to using the bark, branches, and leaves; they carved, whittled, and burnt place names, numbers, rules, directions, and similar onto the wood. Sign carving is one of the reasons why vowels in modern Dieva are so angular – it was easier to carve. The consonants were added and/or officially agreed upon and/or modified later than the vowels were, after the citizens took to using alternative forms of writing surfaces such as charcoal on parchment, ink on paper, and dye on cloth. This facilitated the use of more curved and complex symbols, as seen in [b], [t], and [d], for example.


When adding new words or translating (especially names), any sounds that are not present in the Dieva system will be transliterated as closely as possible with the place and manner or the height and backing of the nearest sounds, with preference toward fricatives. Diphthongs will usually be translated as a iotated vowel; laterals and rhotics (l and r) will generally be translated as dental fricatives; and [w] goes to [v]. There are exceptions for preference; for example, if someone wished to spell their name differently than the rule would dictate, they would not be considered "wrong." Additionally, exceptions are commonly made for general ease of pronunciation, including avoiding consonant clusters that don’t exist in Dieva, adding iotation or a consonant between two vowels, and simplifying long syllable strings.

Font and differentiated writing cases (not to be confused with grammatical cases) do not exist, including capital or upper case letters, lower case letters, and small capital letters; i.e., there is no distinction between upper and lower or capital and non-capital writing forms because there is only one form. In addition, there are also no forms of cursive writing or delegated kerning; however, letters will naturally run together or have ‘tails’ when handwritten, and this is perfectly acceptable. Sentences are written from left to right, from top to bottom, with large spaces between words and a slightly larger space denoting sentence or phrase breaks.     


Morphological Type

Dieva is a synthetic agglutinative language, meaning that one whole word may contain many morphemes. (It is recognized that this type of morphology is unusual for a natural creole.) Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning within a word and include roots and affixes. (For example, in modern English, ‘cats’ has two morphemes: ‘cat’ and the plural suffix ‘-s’). All morphemes in Dieva are either prefixes or suffixes. This makes the language agglutinative rather than synthetic combined with some other type.

Example of agglutination: [jevot nezep ðo ʒudet ʃejæveto] ‘those three tired men work (continuously)’

Dieva is a head-marking language, where affixes (prefixes and suffixes) attach to the heads of phrases (the most important part of a phrase; not necessarily the first word or root morpheme). See the below example – there is both a suffix and a prefix attached to the root verb ‘sleep’ and nothing attached to the subject ‘woman.’ Dieva also has subject marking on the verb; in the example below, the feminine third singular marker [-si] is attached to the verb to make the verb agree with the subject ‘woman.’

Examples of head marking: [veʃot dozmibsi jiji mat] ‘that woman slept well’

Example of no head marking: [jevot most dæ ja] 'my home’

In addition to Dieva being a head-marking language, there are several other ways to express morphological type. There are, in total, nine personal pronoun (verb) agreement markers, six (verb) tense markers, one diminutive (noun) marker, one plural (noun) marker, and one negation (verbs, adjectives, adverbs) marker, which are discussed below. All others concepts that function as markers are instead standalone words, like in a morphologically isolating language. An example of this standalone or separate-word(s) construction includes the possessive "marker" (the word dæ 'of' combined with the pronoun or noun who is the possessor).

Inflectional Morphology

Dieva uses both inflectional and derivational affixes, and the only types of affixes in Dieva are prefixes and suffixes (no infixes or circumfixes). Inflectional affixes are pieces of words that give grammatical information in terms of number, tense, case, and gender, but do not change the grammatical category (also known as the part of speech) of a word. This is opposed to derivational morphology, which means, essentially, adding an affix to create a new word that often has a different category, such as adding the English ‘-ly’ suffix to an adjective in order to change it to an adverb. 

There are no case (nominative, dative, genitive etc.), aspect (perfect, progressive, etc.), or control (in- or di-transitive) markings in Dieva.

The second singular pronoun (2SG) ‘you’ is null; there is neither an affix that attaches to verbs for agreement nor is there a separate word for the subject. (The best equivalent that I can think of is the modern English imperative sentence, where the command has an implied ‘you’ subject like in ‘Leave.’ or ‘Help!’) It is recognized that it is more common in languages to make the third singular pronoun null or implied, but this is not the case in Dieva. In contrast, pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’ do have separate words to act as subjects in addition to having equivalent agreement markers that attach to the verbs. In these cases, the subject is attached as a suffix to the verb; in the specific case of second singular ‘you,’ there is also no affix or marker, so there is only an implied subject. The order of this phrase is Verb Adverb Object.

Verb Tense

In Dieva, there are two present tenses, two past tenses, and two future tenses.  

Present Tense

The first and default present tense is called simple present. Simple present tense has no additional or differentiating marker - i.e., if a verb has no tense prefix or affix, then it is present tense, much like the present tense in modern English for pronouns except third singular she/he/it.

Example of simple present tense: [daste jevot vitiʃ jiji] ‘the fire burns well’

The simple present has no additional affix, but all verbs still must agree with the subjects. In this case, ‘-ste’ is attached to the verb to agree with the third singular neuter subject ‘fire.’ The only case when a root verb would have no affixes attached would be when it is in the simple present and its subject is the second singular ‘you,’ which has no agreement marker. For example: [boʃuma jæmjem] ‘you eat breakfast.’ These types of sentences can be interpreted in two primary ways: first, as a command, such as ‘you, eat your breakfast (now)’; second, as a statement of fact, often of surprise, such as ‘oh, you eat breakfast?’

The second present tense is called habitual present: this is used for actions than are repeated or continuous or scheduled, such as going on a daily run, studying before every test, and anniversaries. In modern English, the habitual present tense is often denoted with adverb words to differentiate it from the simple present, although the standalone verb remains the same for both tenses. An example of this would be the word ‘often’ in the sentence ‘I run often.’ This idea of continuity can also be expressed in or translated into English as the -ing suffix. In Dieva, the habitual (HAB) marker is the prefix [ʃe-].

Example of habitual present tense: [ʃemije jemætja etip Pat] ‘That boy, Pat, sleeps (habitually)’

Past Tense

The two past tenses differ only in time period; i.e., how long ago the action or event occurred. Near-past denotes any time from the Catastrophe [ʒojudozeʃ] (the series of natural disasters which caused the merging of tribes and subsequent creation of the Dieva language and culture) to the present. Near-past is indicated with the prefix [doz-].

The second past tense is called far-past and is used to describe anything that happened during or before the Catastrophe. Use of far-past tense is rare and most often delegated to religious, historical, and storytelling means. It is also usually written rather than used in everyday speech. Many learners of Dieva as a second language can completely ignore far-past tense. Far-past is attached to verbs as the prefix [zev-].

Examples of near-past tense: [dozdaje ini etip jeðmjem] ‘the happy boy went to supper'; [jevot matip dozmisi jijiʂjo] ‘The girl slept poorly’

Example of far-past tense: [ʒudzevam dæ Eva zevemato nobejiðu] ‘Eva’s ancestors were wealthy’

Note that the third plural pronoun marker [-mato] is used here, which could be construed as only female ancestors; however, the female marker suffix is used to refer (1) multiple females, (2) multiples of more than one or mixed gender, or (3) multiples of unknown gender. See Pronouns below.

Future Tense

There are also two future tenses which work in similar ways: near-future and far-future. There is no firm distinction between where near-future ends and far-future begins. Near-future denotes a time period from the immediate present onward, most often up to about eight lunar cycles (months). It is also used for specific, known, or otherwise permanent dates that are any length of time away from the present, even decades or centuries into the future. Examples include births, eclipses, holidays, weddings, and other ceremonies. Near-future is indicated with the suffix [-boʂ]. 

Far-future denotes unknown dates and something similar to the subjunctive mood – when one is unsure about time or date even if it is very close to (even minutes from) the present. Far-future is indicated with suffix [-nest].

Example of near-future tense: [dababoʂ ja mot dæ ja] ‘I will go to my home’

In the above example, the speaker is sure that they will go home, and they know when they will go home, even though they do not say when in this example. If they were unsure, then they would use the far-future tense. The following two examples are instances of being sure that the speaker(s) will do something but being unsure of when it will happen.  

Examples of far-future tense: [dafidunest nu Dan] ‘We will talk with Dan’ or ‘We will talk to Dan'; [ja vazijanest siva jæ tasija] ‘I will write a letter to the queen’

Plural Marker

Dieva has one inflectional morpheme: a plural marker prefix. It also has possessive construction, but this is not an affix – it is the phrase ‘of OBJECT’ immediately following the noun that is possessed. See Syntax below and Morphological Type above for more information about and examples of the how to form possessive phrases.

The plural marker is the prefix [-ʒud] that attaches as closely to the root noun as possible. There is no singular marker, and no di-plural or other type of plural marker. Additional affixes would attach on the outer edge, before the plural marker. Various examples above and below show the plural marker in use.  

Example of the plural marker: [jemætja bit ʒudmatip ʃejævsi] ‘those two girls (in the distance) work (continuously)’

Derivational Morphology

There are seven instances of derivational morphology in Dieva. These include (1) the diminutive marker, (2) the simple and (3) agentive nominalization markers from verbs to nouns, (4) the reduplication marker to form adverbs from adjectives, (5) the simple adjectivization marker to form adjectives from nouns, (6) the similative adjectivization marker to form adjectives from nouns, and (7) the negation marker. This section also discusses compounding.

(1) The diminutive marker in Dieva is the suffix [-ip], or [-jip] if the root word ends in a vowel. It serves to make the word in question smaller, less intense, younger, or a combination of these. The suffix can attach to any category of word and always attaches as closely to the root as possible; other affixes ‘layer’ or ‘stack’ on the outside. 

In the first example below, the marker is attached to both the noun ‘woman’ [mat] to make ‘girl’ [matip] as well as to the verb ‘talk’ [daf] to make ‘murmur’ or ‘whisper’ [dafip]. In the second example below, the marker transforms the compound noun ‘second meal’ (brunch) into a smaller amount of food, ‘snack’ (or ‘little brunch’).

Examples of diminutive marker: [veʃot matip dozdafipsi nezepep] ‘the girl murmured sleepily'; [jevot bitmjemip dæ ja dozfeste ʂjoʒeta] ‘my snack was dry’

(2) All other derivational morphology in Dieva has to do with changing the categories (also called parts of speech) of existing words. The first instance of this is simple nominalization – changing verbs to nouns. To create a simple (non-agentive) noun from a verb, add the prefix [meta-], or [met-] when before a vowel, to the front of the verb. Only the infinitive or simple present tenses of verbs are used when nominalizing, mostly so that other tense prefixes don’t get mixed up with the nominative marker. It is recognized that is more common to attach the marker to just the bare root of the noun, and this may end up happening throughout the course of Dieva’s language change, but it not the case now. The first example below shows the regular prefix attaching to an infinitive verb and the second example below shows the alternative prefix [met-] attaching to a vowel-initial verb in the simple present tense. 

Example of simple nominalization: [metafumabi] ‘birth’  

Example of simple nominalization with a vowel-initial word: [metasa] ‘fever’ 

Nominalization creates words that are often quite metaphorical when compared to English; for example, if one were to literally nominalize [metasa], they would get something like ‘a shiver’ or ‘shivering’ or similar; however, in Dieva, the idea of an occurrence of shivering is related to sickness and the nominalization is best translated as ‘fever.’ In the same vein, the noun formation of the verb ‘to breathe’ in the first example is not ‘breath,’ but, rather, the concept of birth, being a baby’s first breath among other connotations.

(3) The second type of nominalization is agentive nominalization, which, like simple nominalization, transforms verbs into nouns. To create an agentive noun, one adds the prefix [ʃi-] to a verb which is in the simple present tense. I recognize that it is more common that the prefix is attached to the ‘bare root,’ but this is not the case in Dieva. This process creates a person, or agent, who does the verb in question. Like the process of simple nominalization, it is usually highly indirect or metaphorical when compared to modern English. For example, the first example below would literally create a ‘talker’ or ‘one who speaks,’ but the word actually means a narrator, storyteller, chronicler of events, or director. Similarly, the example below that illustrates that the agentive noun in English would become ‘writer’; however, due primarily to the fact that the culture and language were formed around the use of wood carvings, new city building, and forested (wooden, as opposed to metal or sand) materials, it means a ‘sign maker.’ The third example is one that can be translated more literally. 

If the root verb begins with a vowel, that vowel is changed to its partner vowel that begins with the palatal approximant iotation; for example, [id] is pronounced as [jid]. In the third example, the original verb [ano] is changed to [jano] to fit this rule.

Examples of agentive nominalization: [ʃidaf] ‘storyteller, narrator’; [ʃivazi] ‘sign maker, sign carver’; [ʃijano] ‘scholar, philosopher’

(4) Another way of forming new words from existing ones is through reduplication. This process involves repeating the final syllable of the adjective and is reserved solely for forming adverbs from adjectives. The number of syllables in the adjective does not affect this rule, as seen in the following examples, which are reduplications of one-, two-, three-, and four-syllable words:

[ji] ‘good’ [jiji] ‘well’

[ini] ‘happy’ [inini] ‘happily’

[judo] ‘bad’ [judodo] ‘badly’

[nezep] ‘sleepy’ [nezepep] ‘sleepily’

[nobejiðu] ‘wealthy’ [nobejiðujiðu] ‘richly’

(5) Adjectives are formed from nouns in two ways. The first method is to add the suffix [-va] to nouns. This forms simple adjectives (not to be confused with similative adjectives, which are explained below). If the noun ends in [v] or [f] then only the [-a] suffix is attached to the noun, as shown in the below example. This is called adjectivization

Examples of adjectivization: [djeva] ‘of the survivors’ or ‘tribal’ (also the language name); [destajiva] ‘boisterous, obnoxious, rowdy’

(6) To create an adjective from a noun that is similative, meaning to make the adjective ‘like' a noun, the [ɲju-] prefix is added to nouns. As with agentive nominalization, if the root verb begins with a vowel, that vowel is changed to its partner vowel that begins with the palatal approximant; for example, [ed] is pronounced as [jed]. This is present in example the third example below, where the original noun is [is] 'cat'.

Examples of similative adjectivization: [ɲjujitʃib] ‘trustworthy, dependable’; [ɲjujitʃibip] ‘messy’ (‘like a puppy’); [ɲjujis] ‘like a hunter; sneaky; lithe’

The Negation Marker

The final derivational marker is a morpheme that functions both as a negation marker and as the standalone word for ‘not’ and ‘no.’ This morpheme is either the prefix [ʂjo-] or the suffix [-ʂjo] which can attach to verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs or stand alone in a sentence/phrase. The negation marker always attaches as a prefix on adjectives and nouns and always attaches as a suffix on verbs and adverbs.

Note that the example below can be translated in the progressive or simple present tense because there is no distinction between the passive auxiliary, progressive auxiliary, subjunctive, and simple present in Dieva. Its meaning is closer to ‘was VERBing’ in this case.

Example of the negation marker on a verb: [ja dozfumejaʂjo] 'I was suffocating’ or ‘I could not breathe’

The following two examples show the negation marker attaching to adverbs, where the first example shows the marker turning the adverb into its equivalent opposite, and the second example shows the marker translated as the word ‘not.’

Example of the negation marker on an adverb, producing an 'opposite' word: [jevot matip dozmisi jijiʂjo] ‘the girl slept poorly’ (lit. 'this girl slept well-not')

Example of the negation marker on an adverb, producing 'not adverb': [dozjæv judodoʂjo] ‘you did not work badly’ (lit. 'worked bad-not')

In the below example, the negation marker is attached to a noun to mean the lack of something rather than the opposite of something. This is different from the example following it where the speaker is stating that they explicitly ‘do not have’ something, rather than lacking in the noun in that moment. The difference is that, generally, if a person has owned something in the past and probably will again (say. they’re out of milk) then, during the time that they don’t have any of the thing, they do have ‘not the thing’ (they own ‘not-milk’); they still possess something like a metaphorical placeholder for the item. In the case of the second example below, the speaker has never owned a dog and probably won’t in the future, so there is nothing to placehold and the negation marker is attached to the verb. 

To explain this concept in a different way: This is different from the modern English ‘never’ because a speaker can use the verb-attached affix to mean something that has been owned or can be owned in the future but that is not ‘able to be stocked,’ in a sense. To know which form to use will almost always depend on context, and there are exceptions; for example, a speaker could potentially use either form if they did not own something at the moment but wanted to in the future. Generally, it can be understood that the affix is attached to the noun if the noun is often owned in fluctuation, such as with money, food, or inventory for a store. When the noun is empty or lost or ‘out,’ then the form becomes as though the person owns 'not-that-item'; like they own a temporary noun (placeholder) until they own more of the noun again. 

Additionally, negation markers that attach to verbs in the context of sentences such as the second example below almost always make the construction ‘do not VERB.’ In different tenses, the construction is similar: ‘did not VERB’ or ‘have not VERBed’ or ‘will not VERB’ when translated into English. Again, note the attachment to the noun in the first example and to the verb in the second example.

Example using placeholder negation: [ja sita ʂjoʒudbeda] ‘I have no stones’ or ‘I lack stones (for the moment)’ (lit. 'I have-me not-stones')

Example using never-owned negation: [sitiduʂjo jæ jitʃib] ‘we do not own a dog’ (lit. have-we-not one dog').

To help explain the difference in placement, the following two examples are the same sentence with the placement of the negation marker changed. The first example means that the speaker, such as a military commander, has run out of soldiers in some way – the soldiers could be busy, dead, lost, or perhaps not enough enlisted or were drafted. So, in the soldiers’ place, the commander does have ‘no soldiers’ until more can be ‘stocked’ (recruited, trained, found, etc.). The second example means that the officer is not in command of any soldiers at the time of speaking (perhaps he works in medicine or intelligence), although he could be in the future; therefore, the officer does not have ‘soldiers.’

Examples: [ja sita ʂjoʒudetavishnu] ‘I have no-soldiers’ versus [ja sitaʂjo ʒudetavishnu] ‘I have-no soldiers’

Moving on! The next two examples are phrases where the negation marker is attached to an adjective and means the opposite of the adjective. Depending on the word, adjectives either combine with the negation marker to form the opposite word, such as ‘wet’ becoming ‘dry’ in the first example, or the word remains the ‘not ADJECTIVE’ description without a new/different word translation, as in the second example.

Example of the negation marker on an adjective, producing an 'opposite' word: [jevot ʐjad i feste ʂjoʒeta] ‘the wood is very dry’

Example of the negation marker on an adjective, producing 'not adjective': [dozfeste ʂjojini ipa] ‘she was not happy yesterday’

Finally, concerning negation, here is an example of the standalone ‘no’ functioning as a quantifier. It could potentially be replaced with the Dieva word for ‘null’ [vu]: [ste ʂjo sitste ʒudbitiç] 'there are no baskets anymore’ or ‘no baskets remain’ (lit. ‘it not has baskets’)


One instance of derivational morphology that is not a marker is compounding. 

Dieva is very receptive toward and flexible concerning compounding, both in creating new words from words of the same category and words of two or more categories. There is no pattern for which category of word goes in which order, nor for how many words can be minimally or maximally compounded. Preference is made and words are generally ordered for phonological and pronunciation reasons: e.g. so that monophthongs do not have to change to semi-glides, so that diphthongs are avoided, and so that consonants do not have to be added or removed in order to keep the correct phonological rules of the language. 

Any other changes are word-specific and often occur due to the coiner’s preference, or began as a regular compounding and later changed with the flow of the language change at large (like vowel shifts). An example of this where the compounded words ‘event’ [ʒo] plus ‘bad’ [judo] plus ’water’ [zev] join to form ‘Catastrophe’ [ʒojudozeʃ], a word with a different final consonant.

See the Semantics section and Nature Spirits subsection for many more examples of compounding.


Clausal Word Order

This section describes the structures and rules for subjects and predicates and the orders in which they are allowed to go. Predicates generally include the verbs, direct objects, indirect objects, prepositional phrases, adverbs, and the like, but this section focuses on verbs and both object forms. All elements of noun phrases have a specific order; word order for other elements, such as prepositional phrases, is free.

The word orders of clauses are subject-verb-object (SVO) and verb-subject-object (VSO) only, with SVO being the default word order because it is more common, although both word orders are perfectly acceptable in both writing and speech. (It is recognized that VSO word order is unusual for a natural creole.) If there are multiple objects, then the order is always direct object (DO) first, indirect object (IO) immediately following. Subject pronouns follow the same rules for word order as subject nouns. In the four examples below, the subject is bolded. 

Example of SVO word order: [Ana boʃumasiboʂ ðomjem] ‘Ana will eat lunch’

Examples of VSO word order: [dozdafsi Bob ʒajiʂiʂ ja] ‘Bob spoke angrily to me’ (lit. 'spoke-he Bob violently I); [dozboʃumamato θum jæmjem] ‘the family ate breakfast’ (lit. ate-they family first-meal')

Example of SV DO IO word order: [veʃot etip vute ʐjadip veʃot jitʃib] ‘the boy throws a stick to the dog’

Example of VS DO IO word order: [dozvazidu idu siva θum] ‘we wrote the family a letter’

A demonstrative or article is not required when using an object such as ‘the dog’ in the third example; it is optional just like the singular numeral and adjectives are. Both objects can have any amount or type of modifiers just as subjects can. Additionally, there are rules for using the second singular subject ‘you,’ which has no subject word or verb agreement marker. (It is recognized that this is unusual for a natural creole). This is discussed further in the Inflectional Morphology section. In English, indirect objects are indicated with the prepositions ‘to’ or ‘for,’ as in ‘baked cookies for Mary’ or ‘gave a gift to my mother.’ Dieva has neither equivalent indicator, which is why the firm DO IO order is so important. Adverbs (Adv) usually occur anywhere after the verb, but can be moved to sentence-initial position for emphasis. Adverbs are constructed by reduplicating the syllable of an adjective; more information can be found in Derivational Morphology section.

Examples of adverb word order: [veʃot matip dozdafipsi nezepep] ‘the girl murmured sleepily’; [feθeθ jevot is dafste] ‘softly, the cat meows’

In the second example above, the adverb ‘softly’ is being emphasized for effect, so it occurs at the beginning of the sentence, and could also go there if the word order were VSO. Because ‘softly’ is the focus of the sentence, it doesn’t need to appear after the verb, although it still could. 

Noun Phrase Word Order

This section explains demonstratives, adjectives, numbers, nouns, and the rules about the orders in which those four elements can go, including whether and when said elements are optional. Demonstratives are equivalent to the modern English words ‘this,’ ‘that,’ ‘these,’ and ‘those.’ There are no definite or indefinite articles, also called determiners, in Dieva (English 'a,' 'an,' and 'the').  

Noun phrases always occur in the following order: demonstrative (D), adjectives (Adj), numeral (Num), noun (N). This is called ‘N-final’ noun phrase word order. Sentences that use the demonstrative ‘this’ or medial and distal ‘that’ are often translated as ‘the.’ Plural numerals are used heavily, especially in the place of a determiner, and the demonstrative is often used where determiners would be used in other languages. If the numeral is singular, then it is generally left out, except in cases of emphasis, formality, diplomatic relations, birth, death, and gift-giving. There is no head marker for singularity, so the numeral ‘one’ ([jæ]) is used. 

There are three demonstratives, equivalent to the constructions ‘this’ (proximal) [jevot], ‘that-near-to-me’ (medial) [veʃot], and ‘that-far-from-me’ (distal) [jemætja]. What differentiates the usage of the demonstratives is not a case of visibility or time but rather physical distance (regardless of obstacles including land), and said distances are rough estimates and vary greatly from person to person. A proximal ‘this’ constitutes the noun being about three meters or closer (0-3m) to the subject; the medial ‘that’ is between approximately three and fifty meters (3-50m) from the subject, and the distal ‘that’ is used for anything farther away than fifty meters (50m). A plural meaning is garnered from the numeral and/or plural markers on nouns instead of separate plural demonstratives (which are the words ‘these’ and ‘those’ in English). See the following four examples for each instance of possible minimal word order within a noun phrase. 

Example of D Adj Num N word order: [jevot somjo fjuθo ʒudis] ‘these twelve small cats’ or ‘the twelve small cats’

Example of D Adj N word order: [veʃot saɲ beda] ‘that shiny stone’

Example of D Num N word order: [jemætja bip ʒudisip] ‘those four kittens’

Example of D N word order: [jevot ʒojudozeʃ] ‘the Catastrophe’

As a rule, nouns and adjectives must be as close together as possible, either directly adjacent or in the order Adj Num N. They can also use the same emphasis rule that adverbs use in order to move to sentence-initial position, but this is less common. Moreover, noun phrases can utilize one or more ‘ands’ to separate multiple adjectives, but they are optional. Any usages of ‘and’s in adjective lists are equally correct and common. Examples of this are below:

Examples of adjective word order: [jevot bem ʒeta ini jitʃibip] ‘the loud wet happy puppy’; [jevot bem o ʒeta o ini jitʃibip] ‘the loud and wet and happy puppy’; [jevot bem ʒeta o ini jitʃibip] ‘the loud, wet, and happy puppy’


Dieva pronouns include the first singular (1SG), second singular (2SG), feminine/masculine/neuter third singular (3SGf and 3SGm and 3SG), first plural (1PL), second plural (2PL), and feminine/masculine third plural (3PLf and 3PLm). This is typical of a creole. There is no distinction between subject, object, or reflexive pronouns in Dieva; for example, ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘myself’ are all one concept [ja].

Pronoun Abbreviation English Equivalent Word Affix
first singular 1SG I, me, myself ja -(j)a
second singular 2SG You, yourself
feminine third singular 3SGf She, her, herself jisi -si
masculine third singular 3SGm He, him, himself je -(j)e
third singular (neuter) 3SG It, itself jiste -ste
first plural 1PL We, us, ourselves jidu -(j)idu
second plural 2PL You (all), yourselves judi -(j)udi
feminine third plural 3PLf They, them, themselves mato -(m)ato
masculine third plural 2PLm They, them, themselves eto -(j)eto

Dieva Pronoun Markers

The feminine third plural is used for groups with the following characteristics: if groups of nouns (people, animals, and/or objects) are inanimate, if groups have unknown or multiple genders/sexes, if groups are a mix between living and inanimate nouns, if at least one member in a group is deceased, or a mixture of any of these. See example (26) for an example of this, where ‘ancestors’ is both a group of deceased people and of people of multiple genders.

There are no possessives such as the modern English ‘its’ or ‘his’ and there are no possessive markers on words; rather, to make a possessive phrase, one adds ‘of OBJECT’ (‘of me,’ ‘of her,’ ‘of NAME,’ etc.) immediately following the noun being possessed, much like in modern Mexican Spanish.

Example of possessive noun phrase: [jæ jitʃib Ana] ‘Ana’s one dog’

Example of a possessive pronoun phrase: [bit ʒuddestaji jidu] ‘our two parties’ (lit. 'two parties of us')


Nature Spirits

Dieva culture is primarily based on nature. They assign personalities and agents (summarized as "spirits") to weather and natural disasters, and their ‘religion’ is more of a passive acknowledgement of their five most important groups of natural disasters and related events. Each type of non-disaster weather (rain, snow, sleet, hail, lightning, thunder, wind, sunshine, clouds, etc.) is associated with different moods, age ranges, and personalities. Each natural disaster represents a spirit – Hurricane (and with it floods, tsunamis, water cyclones), Tornado (winds, blizzards), Earthquake (collapses and gas explosions), Firestorm (geysers, volcanoes, forest fires), and Debris (meteor showers, mudslides, rockslides). The spirits are not worshiped so much as they are categorized and acknowledged in a sort of hierarchy; i.e., the weather cannot be stopped, controlled, or otherwise influenced, and, therefore, humans are farther down on the metaphorical scale of power and importance than the weather and parallel spirits. Furthermore, the weather cycle is like a holy thing and it demands respect per their culture; however, this is not animism because there are five categories which are neither directly worshiped nor is anything except natural elements given a ‘spirit’ or a ‘soul’ (like with plants, animals, food, emotions, etc. in animist and other religions/spiritualities). 

All of this in reflected in how Dieva people compound words and what kinds of metaphorical language they have. For example, the idea of the raging ocean with its tsunamis, torrential waves, and consequential floods reflects a sense of malevolence in their language, but also of ‘the beginning,’ because it was those series of disasters which caused the migration of the tribes, forming of a new culture, and creation of the Dieva language in the first place. For example, [zenbem] 'failure' is a simple compound of the words [zen] 'water wave' and [bem] loud. The idea of a 'new year' or 'clean slate' or 'second chance' is expressed through the triple compound of the words [ʃif], [zæst], and [andija] form [ʃifæstandija] - notice that the [z] was removed. 

Essentially, they hate, or are at least suspicious of, water in large quantities, but they also know that it is needed to survive, so they respect it, too. Water words are associated with unfairness, murder, death, trickery, the unknown, and destruction. Someone who has the characteristics of the ocean is a bad person, often a murderous person, related to how the ocean’s storms killed over half of the two original tribe’s populations; see examples (60) and (61). Other elements garner different moods; for example, snow is generally considered peaceful, quiet, and comforting. In Dieva culture, snowfall is considered the best overall source of water because it appears slowly and quietly and no one can drown from it and no houses can be washed away by it. Avalanches, blizzards and other destructive forces involving snow are categorized under the ‘Debris’ or ‘Hurricane’ spirits and considered separate (avalanches especially, because the Dieva people live very far from mountains and they are practically unknown). 

The meandering river to the west of their capital city is considered a ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ source of water, but not as good as rain, which is the only non-frozen water source that is considered more positive than neutral or malevolent. Lightning storms and thunderstorms are hollow, angry, violent, aggressive, loud, fast, temporal, and fleeting. More examples of word formation by compounding are below:

[tasija] 'queen' + [zev] 'water' [tasijev] originally ‘tyrannical leader’; now ‘cruel person’ 

[zev] 'water' + [ini] 'happy' [zevini] 'rain'

[ɲju] similatve + [zevini] 'rain' [ɲjuzevini] ‘carefree, fleeting’ (‘how rain is’)

[ɲju] similative + [ʒatiç] 'lightning strike' [ɲjuʒatiç] ‘quick, decisive’ 

[ʃim] 'snow' + [muf] 'cloth' [ʃimuf] 'blanket'

[ɲju] similative + [sevisana] 'comet' [ɲjusevisana] ‘wonderful but temporary’ or ‘additional to an already amazing thing’ (how a comet is a radiant streak in an already fascinating and beautiful night sky)

[ʒajiʂ] 'violent' + [siva] 'letter' or 'message' [ʒajisiva] ‘threat’ 

[desta] 'game' + [ji] 'good' [destaji] 'party' 

Additionally, word formation is connected to culture whereby the society is heavily matriarchal; the ruler of the tribe is always female and the mothers and women of families are seen as the heads of the families – they are nurturing, they create life, and they are resilient and strong in the face of pain, among other stereotypes. This is reflected in the language two ways: first, in the physical words like adjectives and metaphors that use said stereotypes; second, in the default feminine gender on third person plural pronoun markers, and other cases where the word is heavily gendered. The language is not strictly syntactically gendered (such as in modern Spanish and French), but similar groups or categories of words often share female-based words or compounds, including groups of words for government, leadership, methods of running households, and raising a child. Examples of compound words that use these concepts of motherhood, womanhood, and matriarchy are below:

[vitiʃ] 'fire' + [mat] 'woman' [vitmat] ‘commander, general, military leader’

[onda] 'land' + [dæ] 'of' + [matjeʃa] 'mother' [ondæmatjeʃa] ‘country, motherland’

[meta] nominative + [fuma] 'breathe' + [bi] infinitive+ [ʒavevam] 'battle' [metafumabiʒam] ‘childbirth, being in labor’

[ɲju] similative + [matjeʃa] 'mother' + [biθ] 'week' [ɲjumatjeʃabiθ] ‘organized and busy’ (‘like a week in the life of a mother’)

(The word for ‘week’ is [biθ], which is an altered compound of the words ‘four’ [bip] and ‘parts, slices, pieces’ [piθ] which is itself a shortened meaning of (but not abbreviation for) ‘the four parts of a cycle of the moon’ [epiθonmaso]. It's very circular logic. Language!)

Numbers and Temperature

In addition to planetary and continental weather, the Dieva people also research astronomy and space and are generally a very scientific culture. Their base-twelve number system is based off of the moon cycles, where there are 12 cycles per year and 28 days per cycle, making one year equal to 336 days. This is similar to the modern Hindu calendar. Like the current western calendar, there are 7 days in one week, but the years on Earth are 29 days longer than the years on the planet where Dieva is spoken. Also similar but not identical to the modern western calendar, the months are divided into groups categorized by solstices and equinoxes which relate to the seasons; however, in Dieva culture, this is coincidental in alignment with the moon cycles.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 144 half quarter null or 0
bit ðo bip jeð voʃ jaʒ pæstem θoç jeba tifu fjuθo djanθo job ebisi vu

Similarly, the temperature system is a combination of the base-twelve number system and their use of water, where one degree is the temperature at which water freezes from a liquid to regular solid ice and one hundred forty-four (144) degrees is the minimum temperature at which a contained amount of water can reach a rolling boil (see Figure 6.2). To calculate Dieva temperature into Celsius, divide the degrees by 1.44.

Temperature Equivalent
-59° Record coldest within borders
Regular frozen ice
Average winter temperature
29° Average summer temperature
36° "Room" temperature
63° Record hottest within borders
144° Contained rolling boil

Dieva Temperature System

Direction and Time

Dieva people think of direction in terms of location based on the river, where ‘upriver’ is forward or front, and ‘downriver’ is backward or behind. Geographically, the capital city Mahdyen-da-Topa (anglicized spelling; Dieva pronunciation ['ma:djen dæ 'topa]; meaning 'hope town') is located on the eastern bank of a large, meandering river, which flows toward the ocean in a south-southwest direction. The equivalent to the English idea of ‘left’ is the idea of ‘cliff-direction’; that is, if one were to stand in the middle of the river facing upstream (northeast), then a tall cliff is located several kilometers to the left. In parallel, the equivalent to the English idea of ‘right’ is called ‘tree-direction,’ because If one were to stand in the same place in the river, the Mahdyen-da-Topa city center is located immediately to the right, and what is left of the once-vast forest is just north and north-east of the city.

[zev] 'water' + [seð] 'snake' [zeð] 'river'

[zeð] 'river' + [nest] far future tense [zeðnest] ‘upriver’ or 'forward'

[doz] near past tense + [zeð] 'river' [dozeð] ‘downriver’ or 'backward'

The idea that facing upstream means frontness correlates to how the original peoples left their ocean-side homes and followed the river inland and forward, which then correlated to time, where upriver and against the current mean toward the future. Just like the water current, the future is unknown, it’s often difficult to manage, and there are obstacles. Downriver is the past, and you can see how far you’ve come, and the events in the river float by you toward the infinite ocean of time. Dieva is, as stated above, very metaphorical and moderately poetic.

The Dieva ‘cliff-direction’ [tiɲjaθuʃumu] and ‘tree-direction’ [jiʐjadθuʃumu] apply almost identically to the use of English ‘left’ and ‘right,’ where the direction that a person is facing changes which cardinal or relative direction that means left or right. For example, if someone were to lay on their right side and point their left arm up toward the sky, that direction would still be called ‘cliff-direction.' 

See the examples below for translations of and explanations of compounding for the words ‘river,’ ‘upriver,’ and ‘downriver':

Pragmatics (Speech Acts)

The pragmatics of Dieva linguistics include speech acts. A speech act is the smallest unit of communication; such acts are used for different reasons, including to gather information, make a declaration, or make a direct or indirect request. Speech acts are the methods to form different types of sentences, similar to the modern English imperative, declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory types of sentences. 

The first category of speech act is directives, specifically including four subcategories: first, how to ask indirect questions, like polite requests or suggestions; second, how to ask direct questions, like yes-or-no questions; third, sarcasm, jokes, and rhetorical questions; fourth, how to make direct commands.

The first subsection discusses indirect directives, which involves indirect questions, (polite and/or respectful) requests, and suggestions. To make an indirect directive, the speaker must use their tone and speed of speech. Their tone is often light (‘airy’) and more highly-pitched than their normal register, and their speed of speech is slower than normal – not the point that they are enunciating separate syllables, just slower than casual conversational speed. This also lends itself to extending the final vowel sound of a word, which is considered very casual speech.

The second subsection, direct directives, involves combining the use of the mannerisms and speech techniques found in the first subsection with a sort of a tag question which can appear either at the very beginning or the very end of a sentence or sentences. This tag question can take on multiple forms, especially depending on (but not ruled by) the speaker’s age and/or peer group. Possible tag questions include [di] ‘yeah?’ which functions almost identically to the ‘no’ tag in phrases like ‘it is this way, no?’; [dæshi] ‘of course’ or ‘sure,’ used at the ends of sentences; [dafsit], roughly ‘let me say’ or ‘allow me to say’ (lit. ‘talk-have’), used at the beginnings of sentences, and [oja] ‘now’ or ‘well,’ also used at the beginnings of sentences. Without these markers, the phrase in question will still be understood but will likely be interpreted as much more aggressive.

The third subsection includes phrases that are sarcasm, sardonicism, jokes, and other logically un-true statements (not including deliberate lies) are often delineated with the tag word [jidi] (lit. good-yes) which is similar to the English sentence-final ‘…am I right?’ and again functions parallel to the sentence-final tag ‘…no?’ where the speaker in both cases is usually not actually looking for an answer to their question. The word [jidi] can also be used for (non-sarcastic) rhetorical questions.

The fourth and final subsection of directives involves how to make orders or commands, or extremely assertive or aggressive requests. This involves one of two methods: first, attaching the modal verb suffix [-dum] ‘must’ or ‘needs to be’ (also the verb ‘need’) onto verbs on the far end, or outside, of the whole verb (all other suffixes attach before the suffix). Second, adding the verb [faθ] ‘listen’ to the beginning of the phrase or sentence to denote authority and exposition (so there will usually be two verbs per phrase; for example, ‘listen, find the book.’ The socio-psychological mannerisms across languages that denote aggressiveness, such a loud volume, clipped phrases, direct or unblinking eye contact, and other non-verbal factors are also used in Dieva to make a direct command or aggressive request. 

Other forms of speech acts, such as apologies, announcements, threats, and complaints don’t have explicit markers, phrase order, or non-verbal cues, but differ in the same ways that English speakers’ speech acts do. Think about the inclusion of other communicative devices, such as body language, posture, gestures, gaze, pitch, tone, speed of speech, laughter, muscle movement, volume, verbal pauses, creaky voice, intonation, syllable and/or word emphasis, and the utilization of setting and objects.


The appendix contains three subsections: a list of figures that are vocabulary lists organized by category and a map, an external internet link to the Dieva abridged vocabulary list, and list of verb rules. Words are repeated between the vocabulary list internet link and the figures below.  

Vocabulary List - Charts

 These six charts are lists of vocabulary words grouped by verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, morphological markers, and ‘other’ words, respectively. This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it a list of words by frequency of use, age, or other characteristic. The word samples are best categorized as random.  











































Go, Burn











Have, Possess














































































































Dieva Verbs

The asterisks (*) in the Dieva Verbs chart denote irregular verbs.



Literal Translation



Literal Translation


















New year, second chance






Part, piece, slice





Party, festival



















Ruler, monarch, queen





Scholar, philosopher








Dog, canine




Event ʒo Stick zjadip wood-DIM
Family θum Storyteller, narrator ʃidaf AGN-talk
Fever metasa NOM-shiver Sun, time andija
Fire vitiʃ Supper jeðmjem five-meal
Game desta Threat ʒajisiva violent-letter
Heir, princess tasina Today, day omo
Home, dwelling most Tomorrow oboʂmo NEARFUT-day
Land onda Water zev FARPAST
Letter siva Woman mat
Lightning ʒatiç Yesterday ipa
Dieva Nouns
















Dieva Adverbs

æ ɱ ŋ θ ð ʐ ʂ ç ʒ ʃ



Literal Translation

Bad, empty
























Organized and busy



Quick, decisive




Small somjo
Sneaky, lithe ŋjujis SIM-cat
Soft feθ
Tired, sleepy nezep
Tribal djeva survivor-of
Trustworthy ŋjujitʃib SIM-dog
Violent ʒajiʂ
Wealthy, rich nobejiðu
Wet ʒeta
Wonderful but temporary ŋjusevisana SIM-comet
Dieva Adjectives

Morphological Affix






Far future tense



Far past tense



Habitual present tense



Near future tense



Near past tense









Simple present

Dieva Morphological Markers
Other Words


Literal Translation


je, e

I, me, myself

ja, a




Am I right? (tag)



Let me say (tag)





No (tag), of course


Now, well (tags)


Yes, yeah (tag)


That (distal)


That (medial)


This (proximal) jevot
Downriver dozeð NEARPAST-river
Left (direction) tiŋjaθuʃumu cliff-direction
Right (direction) jiʐjadθuʃumu tree-direction
Upriver zeðnest river-FARFUT
And o
With nu
Dieva 'Other’ Words

Vocabulary List - Internet Link

Dieva: A Constructed Language - Vocabulary (abridged) by Category (Google doc):

Verb Rules

This section details the rules for regular verbs, rules for irregular verbs, and exceptions to those rules.

1.If two adjacent sounds are alike in manner and place, such as /f/ and /v/ or /b/ and /p/ or /t/ and /d/, then the voiced sound is dropped. If two adjacent sounds are the same sound, then one of the sounds (letters) is dropped. See [dumato]. The below example is the female third singular past tense of ‘to be,’ where the [f] is dropped when adjacent to a [v].

[zev] near past tense + [fe] 'be' + [mato] 3PLf [zevemato] ‘they were’

2.In an extension of the first rule, if two adjacent consonants are alike in manner and place AND the vowels on either side of the consonant pair are the same, then the syllable that contains the voiceless consonant and one of the identical vowels is deleted. This only occurs if there are additional syllable(s) after the syllable that will be deleted. This does not occur if the word that would be created would be identical to an already-existing word or a different tense or pronoun form of the root verb.

a. As a contrastive example, [mi] plus [-idu] becomes [midu] not [miidu]* but [asa] plus [-ja] or [-a] does not become [asaja]* or [asaa]*: instead, it becomes [aseja]. It also does not follow the rule that [midu] does because it would reduce to [asa] which exists already as the root and second singular forms. 

b. vut-udi



‘you (all) throw’

3. If two adjacent syllables are identical, then one of the syllables is deleted if this does not result in confusion, misunderstanding, or the creation of an already-existent word or other form of the verb. See [boʃumato] and [fumato].

a. Technically, the construction of a VCV syllable structure where V is the same vowel both times is allowed; it is changed not because it does not fit the language rules, but for simplicity, ease of pronunciation, and the avoidance of potential diphthongs.

4. For verb roots that end in an [a], the [a] becomes [e] in both spelling and pronunciation when adding the first singular suffix; then the suffix is added normally. If the root ends in [e], it becomes [i]. See [deja], [aseja], [boʃumeja], [fumeja], and [fijeto].

5. ‘Be’ in the first singular (‘I am’) is an instance of an irregular verb where the first singular suffix is added to the infinitive form [febi] is instead of the root [fe]. In this case, the [i] is dropped from the infinitive suffix [-bi] and the [-a] suffix is added to create [feba]. This rule can be used for other words; the sample size just shows it once.

6. If a verb root ends in an [e], then the [b] from the infinitive form [-bi] can kept when adding the masculine third plural suffix [-eto] but is not always used. The [-jeto] form is used if the verb root ends in any other vowel.  

7. For verb roots that end in [i], when adding the first plural suffix [-idu], one of the [i]s is dropped rather than making the constructions [ii] or [iji]. See [midu], [vazidu], and [anonidu].                

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