This is about an a priori language called Sgai, known informally as SIGIL. The acronym stands for Scenic Intuitive Glomerating Ideal Language, which hints at some of the important aspects of this project. In its development, all efforts have been made to avoid arbitrary linguistic effects so that, like a true adamic language (original and naive), every detail is worked out from first principles. Also, the internal logistics of structure and phonology were carefully tempered by practical and aesthetic measures; it was always intended to be a real human language, not a conworld conlang curiosity. Alongside development, various problems and solutions were recorded in book form, to become Language for the World, now available as a PDF.

This wiki

This wiki is an extension of the article at my Sky Knowledge site. It is designed to seek help with aspects of the language, especially the Lexicon.


Originally, this language was to be grammatically simple, and users would be free to frame their ideas in a loose, poetic manner. But, as the language developed and other specifications came into play, the grammar (among other things) became naturally more complex.

There are elements of both agglutinative and isolating phrase formation, with clauses generally verb final. There is some case marking, and both left and right branching order of dependencies. In many cases grammatical rules are loose, where semantics can come from almost any meaningful juxtaposition of rootwords and particles. The reason for what sounds like a hybrid grammar, is that different rules are found to operate at different levels, and SIGIL has several levels, from the level of phoneme up to the level of sentence.


It took a few years to arrive at a final phoneme inventory. SIGIL required distinctness but also a reasonably large range of sounds. The consonants include a number of co-articulations and syllabics. The vowel-space is roughly 2×2×2, with front–back, open–close and rounding. There is vowel nasalization and tone, both for grammatical purposes.

SIGIL may be spoken as an uninterrupted stream without ambiguity. In English and many languages, we often need gaps and contours of stress to separate words and clauses. In SIGIL, a regular “phoneme grammar” ensures proper framing and extraction of meaning; there is no equivalent to the ice cream versus I scream problem.

Two outcomes (desirable by-products) of the phonotactics carefully developed, are that word-building is reasonably intuitive, and there is an interesting flow of sounds. A sentence spoken in SIGIL is perfectly natural in terms of pronounceability, but the combination of sounds is unlike any language I have heard.


main vowels a æ e i o ø u ɯ y
word-building consonants ʔh b d f ɡ h hl j k l m n ŋ p ɹ s ʃ t θ v w ɸ x z ʒ
extra/morpheme consonants ɾ ʔ qʼ pʼ tʼ ʧ’  ʧ ʤ ʦ ʣ  tθ dð pɬ pɸ
other vocalics/syllabics ə ɹ l n r
tonemes relaxed, rising, high, falling
The symbols used here to represent the phonemes are from the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).
Vowel nasalization may be shown with a following  N , since in most cases sandhi will result in one of [ m n ŋ ], and finally will often sound with a following [ ŋ ].
a  ⇒ [ a ɑ ]
æ  ⇒ [ æ ɛ ]
o  ⇒ [ o ɔ ]
k  ⇒ [ kʰ qʰ ]
p  ⇒ [ ]
t  ⇒ [ ]
ɸ  ⇒ [ ɸʷ hw ]
x  ⇒ [ ç x ]
[ ə ] is always short, and unvoiced after an unvoiced consonant. All other vowels are normally not short.
Tones are shown as a following letter, one of  R H F  for rising, high, falling — rather than as a diacritic upon the vowel.





Sgai © Ian James 2006‒2017