Gurennese is a language spoken by about 50 million people in Gurenn. It is an agglutinative language and is distinguished by a complex system of honorifics reflecting the hierarchical nature of Gurennese society, with verb forms and particular vocabulary to indicate the relative status of speaker, listener and the person mentioned in conversation. The sound inventory of Gurennese is relatively small, and has a lexically distinct pitch-accent system. Early Gurenese is known largely on the basis of its state in the 8th century, when the three major works of Old Gurennese were compiled; but smaller amounts of material, primarily inscriptional, are older.
The Gurennese language is written with a combination of three different types of scripts: modified Chinese characters called kanji, and two syllabic Japanese scripts, hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet, rōmaji, is also often used in modern Gurennese, especially for company names and logos, advertising, and when inputting Gurennese into a computer. Western style Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Sino-Japanese numerals are also commonplace.
Gurennese vocabulary has been heavily influenced by loans from other languages. A vast number of words were borrowed from Japanese, Korean and Chinese, over a period of at least 1,500 years. Because of immigration of Demontropians, Gurennese has also borrowed a considerable number of words from Latin.
Gurennese is one of the three members of a Japonic language family, the other members being Japanese and Ryūkyūan. The Japonic languages and Korean language are subgroups of the Altaic languages. The Chinese languages are a subgroup of the Sino-Tibetan languages. Latin is an Italic language, while the Italic languages are a subgroup of the Indo-European language.
The Indo-European and Altaic languages are subgroups of the Eurasiatic languages and the Eurasiatic languages are a subgroup of the Nostratic languages, while the Sino-Tibetan languages are a subgroup of the Déné-Caucasian languages. Finally, the Nostratic and Déné-Caucasian languages are subgroups of the World languages.
Gurennese is spoken almost exclusively in Gurenn.
Gurennese is the de facto official language of Gurenn, which is the only country to have Gurennese as an official working language.
Dozens of dialects are spoken in Gurenn. The profusion is due to many factors, including the length of time the country has been inhabited and its mountainous island terrain. Dialects typically differ in terms of pitch accent, inflectional morphology, vocabulary, and particle usage. Some even differ in vowel and consonant inventories, although this is uncommon.
The main distinction in Gurennese accents is between Saikyo-type and Eastern-type, though Island-type dialects form a smaller, third group. Within each type are several subdivisions. The Eastern-type dialects are spoken in Hochiho, Tochiho and Chuuochiho. Dialects in Saichiho and Nanchiho are of the Saikyo-type. The final category of dialects are those spoken on the islands of Gurenn; Chuuoshima, Hoshima and Nanshima.
Recently, Standard Gurennese has become prevalent nationwide due not only to television and radio, but also to increased mobility within Gurenn due to its system of roads, railways, and airports. Young people usually speak their local dialect and the standard language, though in most cases, the local dialect is influenced by the standard, and regional versions of "standard" Gurennese have local-dialect influence.
Gurennese vowels are "pure" sounds. The only unusual vowel is the high back vowel /ɯ/, which is like /u/, but compressed instead of rounded. Gurennese has five vowels, and vowel length is phonemic, so each one has both a short and a long version.
Some Gurennese consonants have several allophones, which may give the impression of a larger inventory of sounds. However, some of these allophones have since become phonemic.
The 'r' of the Gurennese language (technically a lateral apical postalveolar flap), is of particular interest, sounding to most English speakers to be something between an 'l' and a retroflex 'r' depending on its position in a word.
The syllabic structure and the phonotactics are very simple: the only consonant clusters allowed within a syllable consist of one of a subset of the consonants plus /j/. These type of clusters only occur in onsets. However, consonant clusters across syllables are allowed as long as the two consonants are a nasal followed by a homo-organic consonant. Consonant length (gemination) is also phonemic.
The basic Gurennese word order is Subject Object Verb. Subject, Object, and other grammatical relations are usually marked by particles, which are suffixed to the words that they modify, and are thus properly called postpositions.
The basic sentence structure is topic-comment. Thus Gurennese, like Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and many other Asian languages, is often called a topic-prominent language, which means it has a strong tendency to indicate the topic separately from the subject, and the two do not always coincide.
Gurennese is a pro-drop language, meaning that the subject or object of a sentence need not be stated if it is obvious from context. In addition, it is commonly felt, particularly in spoken Gurennese, that the shorter a sentence is, the better. As a result of this grammatical permissiveness and tendency towards brevity, Japanese speakers tend naturally to omit words from sentences, rather than refer to them with pronouns.
While the language has some words that are typically translated as pronouns, these are not used as frequently as pronouns in some Indo-European languages, and function differently. Instead, Gurennese typically relies on special verb forms and auxiliary verbs to indicate the direction of benefit of an action: "down" to indicate the out-group gives a benefit to the in-group; and "up" to indicate the in-group gives a benefit to the out-group. Here, the in-group includes the speaker and the out-group doesn't, and their boundary depends on context.
Gurennese "pronouns" also function differently from most modern Indo-European pronouns (and more like nouns) in that they can take modifiers as any other noun may.
When used in different social relationships, the same word may have positive (intimate or respectful) or negative (distant or disrespectful) connotations.
Gurennese often use titles of the person referred to where pronouns would be used in English.
Inflection and conjugation
Gurennese nouns have no grammatical number, gender or article aspect. Where number is important, it can be indicated by providing a quantity (often with a counter word) or (rarely) by adding a suffix. Words for people are usually understood as singular.
Verbs are conjugated to show tenses, of which there are two: past and present, or non-past, which is used for the present and the future.
Questions (both with an interrogative pronoun and yes/no questions) have the same structure as affirmative sentences, but with intonation rising at the end.
Negatives are formed by inflecting the verb.
Gurennese also has a huge number of compound verbs to express concepts that are described in English using a verb and a preposition.
There are three types of adjective.
The first two inflect, though they do not show the full range of conjugation found in true verbs.
Unlike most western languages, Gurennese has an extensive grammatical system to express politeness and formality.
Since most relationships are not equal in Gurennese society, one person typically has a higher position. This position is determined by a variety of factors including job, age, experience, or even psychological state (e.g., a person asking a favour tends to do so politely). The person in the lower position is expected to use a polite form of speech, whereas the other might use a more plain form. Strangers will also speak to each other politely. Gurennese children rarely use polite speech until they are teens, at which point they are expected to begin speaking in a more adult manner.
The difference between honorific and humble speech is particularly pronounced in the Gurennese language. Humble language is used to talk about oneself or one's own group (company, family) whilst honorific language is mostly used when describing the interlocutor and his/her group. It is not used to talk about oneself or when talking about someone from one's company to an external person, since the company is the speaker's "group". When speaking directly to one's superior in one's company or when speaking with other employees within one's company about a superior, a Gurennese person will use vocabulary and inflections of the honorific register to refer to the in-group superior and his or her speech and actions. When speaking to a person from another company (i.e., a member of an out-group), however, a Gurennese person will use the plain or the humble register to refer to the speech and actions of his or her own in-group superiors. In short, the register used in Gurennese to refer to the person, speech, or actions of any particular individual varies depending on the relationship (either in-group or out-group) between the speaker and listener, as well as depending on the relative status of the speaker, listener, and third-person referents. For this reason, the Gurennese system for explicit indication of social register is known as a system of "relative honorifics." This stands in stark contrast to the Korean system of "absolute honorifics," in which the same register is used to refer to a particular individual (e.g. one's father, one's company president, etc.) in any context regardless of the relationship between the speaker and interlocutor. Thus, polite Korean speech can sound very presumptuous when translated verbatim into Gurennese, as in Korean it is acceptable and normal to say things like "Our Mr. Company-President…" when communicating with a member of an out-group, which would be very inappropriate in a Gurennese social context.
Most Gurennese people employ politeness to indicate a lack of familiarity. That is, they use polite forms for new acquaintances, but if a relationship becomes more intimate, they no longer use them. This occurs regardless of age, social class, or gender.
The original language of Gurenn, or at least the original language of a certain population that was ancestral to a significant portion of the historical and present Gurennese nation, was Japanese. In addition to words from this original language, present-day Gurennese includes a great number of words that were borrowed from Chinese and Korean.
A much smaller number of words has been borrowed from Latin.
The Gurennese has no writing system of their own. They began to adopt the Chinese writing script along with many other aspects of Chinese culture after their introduction by Korean monks and scholars during the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
Over time, two Japanese syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana, were adopted.
Modern Gurennese is written in a mixture of three main systems: kanji, characters of Chinese origin used to represent both Chinese loanwords into Gurennese; and two syllabaries: hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet is also sometimes used. Arabic numerals are much more common than the kanji characters when used in counting, but kanji numerals are still used in compounds.
Hiragana are used for words without kanji representation, for words no longer written in kanji, and also following kanji to show conjugational endings. Because of the way verbs (and adjectives) in Gurennese are conjugated, kanji alone cannot fully convey Gurennese tense and mood, as kanji cannot be subject to variation when written without losing its meaning. For this reason, hiragana are suffixed to the ends of kanji to show verb and adjective conjugations. Hiragana used in this way are called okurigana. Hiragana are also written in a superscript called furigana above or beside a kanji to show the proper reading. This is done to facilitate learning, as well as to clarify particularly old or obscure (or sometimes invented) readings.
Katakana, like hiragana, are a syllabary; katakana are primarily used to write foreign words, plant and animal names, and for emphasis.
Gurennese students begin to learn kanji characters from their first year at elementary school.
Only universities in Gurenn provide Gurennese language courses.