Kefo Rn, the Language of the Academy

When I wrote Human Contact in 2010, one of the elements I lavished attention on was Kefo Rn, the language of the Academy. Now that Human Contact is out of print (though available as a PDF to patrons of my Patreon), I want to make sure that these ideas are here for everyone to play with.

When its creators, pioneers in linguistic cultivation, first designed Kefo- Rn two centuries ago, they invested the language with several core principles that have endured ever since.

Core features

  1. Grammar requires a speaker to point to a cause when mentioning an effect. “Some cause made it fall” is legitimate. “Something fell” is not.
  2. A speaker may indicate qualities that are perceived, but cannot explicitly state an essential nature; no structures may indicate identity or predication; a speaker may say, “People call me Zjaka” and “I see the brown cat”, but cannot, as in some languages, say “I am Zjaka” or “The cat is brown”.
  3. “Gender” determines whether the speaker is treating the subject as a person, another kind of animal with a complex nervous system, a simple organism, an idea, or as an inanimate object.
  4. The language includes a structure for building compound words to describe concepts important to other, non-Academic societies. Words and concepts discovered in the field are created by those who describe the concept. Eventually, the creators (and subsequent users) of the concept sufficiently describe the idea through the process of Rn-Zjafe that the word becomes a formal part of Academic lexicon.


The language does not structurally support descriptions of luck, fate, or other acausal phenomena.

There areno words for “ownership”, though there are words for “to have responsibility for” and “to hold” that often suffice. The language has no possessives. Instead of saying “Tafe’s glass” one says “Tafe holds this glass”.

The language tends toward a clinical descriptions of items and avoids both redundancy and ambiguity. Both psychological and poetic circles use the same words for emotion. Food dishes are named by their ingredients, and plants and animals have the same name as the spices, vegetables, and meats they produce — the word for meat, “zjashrke”, means “muscle”.

The Kefo Rn Syllabary

Kefo Rn Syllabary

All syllables consist of five positions on the left and five on the right, and a character may use one or two of each position on each side, making a total of 64 syllables. Numbers (right) and diacritics (not shown) consist of three positions on each side.

KefoRnFormal KefoRnPoeticKefoRnDense

Three techniques of writing the same word: Formal, Poetic (one of many such forms), and Information Dense.

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