Ati is my attempt at creating a true universal language based on linguistic tendency of the world's natural languages, as well as research into first- and second-language acquisition. I do not believe the world should have a universal language, as that would result in the mass destruction of culture and history. Ati is nothing more than an experiment.
The consonant system was developed with a serious look at Hawaiian, which has one of the smallest consonant inventories in the world. Unlike Ati, Hawaiian lacks /k/; [k] is an allophone of /t/. This is unusual in the world's languages, though, and speakers can distinguish the two phones with relative ease.
I included only one fricative as there is an entire language family that almost entirely lacks fricatives. Of the four modes of articulation, fricatives are also the most difficult to learn to produce.
The two most common nasals of the world are included as separate phonemes. Although they are difficult to distinguish to the ear, there are few languages that only contain one nasal. Those that do often have nasalized vowels, which Ati lacks, although a nasalized vowel may be considered allophonic with /n/ in coda.
Ati contains one more approximant than the language with the fewest approximants, and that is /r/. I've included it because languages that do not contain /r/ or /l/ in coda position almost always have vowel length as phonemic, so the inclusion of /r/ allows for that possibility for speakers who are accustomed to vowel length being differentiating, while still being understandable as a rhotic to other speakers.
- Can be realized as any rhotic, lateral, rhoticization or lengthening of previous vowel, depending on the position and speaker.
There are many languages that in theory only have three vowels: /a/, /i/, and /u/. However, these languages often have diphthongization that adds /e/ (ie Blackfoot) or dialects that include /e/ (ie Arabic) that is recognizable to other speakers. This is sensible, as looking at a vowel chart, it is a further distance from /a/ and /i/ than any back vowel from /u/ and /a/. Ati's vowel system will be ruled by measurements of these distances.
Many languages only allow for CV syllables, ie Hawaiian, Japanese, Blackfoot, and Pali. By my understanding, though, all of these languages have wiggle room: casual Hawaiian speech frequently omits vowels, Japanese allows for /N/ in coda and some consonants followed by voiceless vowels (ie su) can be analyzed as syllabic consonants, and Pali allows for gemination.
Ati is going to be more restrictive, allowing for consonantal codas only word-finally so that they may be followed by a voiceless high vowel or schwa if the speaker finds that particular coda difficult. It allows for /n/ or /m/ in coda position word-medially (regressively assimilating place from the following onset), which may be realized as a nasalized vowel.
Syllable structure is therefore (C)V / (C)VN / (C)Vr / (C)VC#.
V may be made up of a single vowel or a combination of two vowels of sufficient distance (ai, ao, eo, ia, io). Note that because of its proximity to schwa, no diphthong or vowel combination ends in /e/, to avoid confusion with a long vowel that may be realized as a vowel with a schwa offglide.
As languages acquire more second-language learners, they become grammatically simpler and more analytical. Ati will therefore be entirely analytical, with a single morpheme to a word.
While SOV is a slightly more common word order, SVO language speakers greatly outnumber those of SOV languages. Ati will be SVO and will follow right-branching grammatical rules.
Two aspect-tenses — imperfective (non-past), unmarked; and perfective (past): ta preceding the verb.
Negative - ne, preceding the negated phrase.
Passive - sar, preceding the verb phrase.
Ati lacks nominal grammar almost completely at this point. Plurality, though common, is difficult to understand for speakers of languages without it. Gender is unnecessary and possession will be marked by a particle wo preceding the possessor, in a phrase following the head noun.
Precedes noun phrase.
Base-10. The place value of a digit is given by the smallest value for that place in the following morpheme, ie "Fifty-four" literally translates to "five-ten-four".
Mood particles are clause-initial.
Ati's prepositions are based on comparing English, Finnish, Tagalog, Cree, and Japanese adpositions and removing those that did not have equivalents in all these languages.
No man should ever ridicule
Ne ito atojo etaki