The Zajugori Language

Marcus Erhart

July 17, 2018

1 Introduction

Zajugori is a constructed language (i.e. "conlang") designed for drawing using speech. The language was designed as an interesting experiment rather than a practical language as it functions more as a markup language or a code than a human language. Although communicating using the language would be possible, it would likely be very difficult and impractical, as Zajugori doesn't convey any semantic information. However, one possible way to communicate using Zajugori could be to draw images of as opposed to describing them.

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2 Phonology

Zajugori has 17 consonants: [m n p b t d k ɡ f v s z h w r j l] and 5 vowels: [i u e o a], illustrated in the IPA charts below. Zajugori uses the Latin alphabet, and every sound is written with its corresponding symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet, except for the voiced velar stop, which is written with g, as opposed to ɡ. Stress falls on the first syllable of each word. Shown below is a table of each Zajugori letter with a description.

aA low front unrounded vowel; Similar to English father
bA voiced bilabial stop; English bat
dA voiced alveolar stop; English dot
eA high-mid front unrounded vowel; Similar to English bet
fA voiceless labiodental fricative; English find
gA voiced velar stop; English get
hA voiceless glottal fricative; English hat
iA high front unrounded vowel; English beat
jA voiced palatal approximant; English yes
kAn unaspirated voiceless velar stop; English skip
lA voiced alveolar lateral approximant; English light
mA voiced bilabial nasal stop; English map
nA voiced alveolar nasal stop; English night
oA high-mid back rounded vowel; Similar to English boat
pAn unaspirated voiceless bilabial stop; English spot
rA voiced alveolar trill; A rolled r; Spanish perro
sA voiceless alveolar fricative; English sauce
tAn unaspirated unvoiced alveolar stop; English start
uA high back rounded vowel; English boot
vA voiced labiodental fricative; English vent
wA voiced labio-velar approximant; English water
zA voiced alveolar fricative; English zoos

Zajugori has just two phonotactic constraints:

  1. Syllable structure is (C)V, i.e. each syllable must include a vowel and can include only one consonant at the onset and must contain no consonants at the coda.
  2. The syllables wo, wu, ji, and je are not allowed.

3 How the Language Works

The drawing occurs on 81 points, arranged into 9 rows, marked with numbers, and 9 columns, marked with letters. Each word corresponds to a line, and each syllable in the word corresponds to one of the 81 points. A monosyllabic word simply marks a dot on a point, but a polysyllabic word draws a line across each of the points its syllables define. The syllables were organized so consonants near the front of the mouth (i.e. bilabial) come before phonemes in the back of the mouth (i.e. glottal) and so that vowels circle around vowel space in the following order: i, e, a, o, and u, rather than in alphabetical order. Each possible syllable in the language that contains a consonant (which there are 81 of) is assigned to a point. Shown below is a table of the syllables for points.


For example, the words "mivi bofo zajugori" draw the following image:

The three words can be analyzed as follows:

Of course, since the lines in the previous example don't have to occur in any order to draw the image, Zajugori has free word order. The word i is used for clearing the image, and is the closest thing to punctuation in Zajugori, as Zajugori doesn't use punctuation. Additionally, a rotates the entire image 90° clockwise and u rotates it 90° counterclockwise. The word e flips the image over the y-axis and o flips it over the x-axis.

4 Examples

4.1 dovalazeferodoze fuza dari vopofi rugele - The Lojban Logo

4.2 mivi bofo zajugori - The Zajugori Logo/Smiley Face

4.3 zovusuhizo silisa mepe mupo bawi - The Toki Pona Logo