Conlang Descriptions English Language

A Useful Grammar of Colyáni and Text with Commentary

We are aware of and repudiate MAR Barker’s anti-semitic views. However, given that this article is purely linguistic in nature, we do not consider it an endorsement of those views. Please see the Tekumel Foundation’s statement on the issue for more details.

Language Creation Society

Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker (1929-2012) was a professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies at McGill University and later at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Amongst conlangers, he is best known for creating the Tsolyáni language, one of several conlangs he created for his conworld Tékumel, in which he set his expansive paper and pen role playing game The Empire of the Petal Throne.

William “Bill” Shipley (1921-2011) was a linguist who trained at UC Berkeley and taught for many years at UC Santa Cruz. For most of his professional life, William studied and worked on the Northern Californian Maidu language, producing a grammar, and a book of translated Maidu stories.

John Moore is a Professor of Linguistics at UC San Diego and Provost of John Muir College. He received a BA in Linguistics from UC Santa Cruz in 1979 and a PhD, also from UC Santa Cruz Linguistics, in 1991. His work has been on Spanish, syntax, and lexical semantics, including a 2001 book, co-authored with Farrell Ackerman, on the syntax/lexical semantics interface (Proto-Properties and Grammatical Encoding: A Correspondence Theory of Argument Selection, CSLI). A long-time flamenco guitarist, Moore has also published on aspects of flamenco, including a 2012 annotated translation of oral histories from an early 20th century flamenco singer (A Thousand and One Stories of Pericón de Cádiz, Inverted-A Press).


In the early 1980s, linguist Bill Shipley offered an undergraduate class called “Languages of the World”. One of the assignment of that course was to create a language. As a guide, this document written by M. A. R. Barker was given to students. It comprises a text in Tsolyáni plus an interlinear, along with a grammar sketch to help the reader understand and appreciate the text.

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