Talossan is the best-known example of the micronational language genre of constructed languages. The language is spoken and used regularly in the Kingdom of Talossa, and has over 28,000 words in its official dictionary..
The language is overseen by the Comità per l'Útzil del Glheþ (CÚG; the Committee for the Use of the Language), a group formed by Madison in 1983. This group periodically issues Arestadas (Decrees), which describe and document changes in the usage of the language, and Pienamaintschen (Supplements), which list updates to the vocabulary.
The first use of the Talossan language was on 12 December 1980, a day commemorated as Llimbaziua (Language Day) in the Kingdom, and the day on which the Committee has recently chosen to issue annual Arestadas.
Early Talossan, however, sometimes only bears scant resemblance to modern Talossan. This is seen in examples from Madison's Støtanneu newsletter, which served as his vehicle for growing the language's vocabulary and building the language through use.
With the creation of the CUG in 1983, the language began its formal life, with the Committee issuing frequent adjustments to the structure and form of the language. Various trends seen in word derivation were encouraged, while other practices were (not always successfully) discouraged by the Committee.
The most significant recent development in the language was the issuance of the Arestada sür Speliçaziun (Decree on Orthography) of December 12, 2007. This Arestada instituted a rule for stress that allowed many extraneous stressmarks to be omitted, simplified the vowel set by recognizing certain letters as allophones of other vowels, and respelled a few strange consonant graphemes. This Arestada is widely accepted, although some Talossan writers retain pre-Arestada orthographic conventions, and work is presently underway to bring the two conventions together under a single set of rules.
Talossan is a constructed Gallo-Romance language, inspired by French and Occitan, and very naturalistic, with quite a few irregularities. Its mythical backstory posits that the language evolved from the Vulgar Latin spoken by North African Berbers, who were forced to migrate north by the Moorish invasion. The myth holds that the language evolved by picking up features from other languages with which these migratory Berbers came in contact, eventually imbuing it with features not only of Romance languages, but Germanic, Slavic, Celtic, and Amerind languages as well.
The Talossan alphabet is Roman, but contains some letters not found in English—including the Germanic scharfes-S (ß) [known as eseta in Talossan], Icelandic thorn (þ), the cedilla-c (ç), and Icelandic eth (ð). The eseta can be replaced by the equivalent digraph ss, and the thorn by the digraph tg. Prior to the 2007 Arestada, the eth was often seen written using the digraph th; the 2007 Arestada recognized the eth as replaceable in modern Talossan by the letter d.
The letters of the modern Talossan alphabet are:
In alphabetical ordering, c and ç are not distinguished from one another, nor are s and ß, nor any vowel from its marked counterpart.
In the Arestada of 2007 that recognised what is called "Modern Orthography", the vowel system was simplified by the adoption of a default stress rule, which made explicit stress marking necessary only in words that are stressed irregularly. Prior to the adoption of the stress rule, words are often marked with multiple diacriticals, which often have different meanings, sometimes indicating stress, sometimes a difference in pronunciation, sometimes both, and sometimes the same mark indicates neither. The Arestada further standardized the stress marking system so that the vowels a, e, i, o, and u are stressmarked using acute or grave accents (as in á or à). Pending discussions surround modifying the stressmark for the vowels ä, ö, and ü to become a tilde (as in ã and õ) from the currently-seen circumflexes (as in ô and û).
Many Talossan writers choose to retain conventions of "Classic Orthography", in which a number of other vowel marks are also appear (typically using the circumflex, such as â, ê, and î), and in a particular trigraph, the consonant n is often seen written with a tilde (ñ). Current discussions of the Committee concern specifying the optional use of these marks, which some consider and term "decorative" in nature.
In speech, Talossan exhibits a system of consonant mutation (lenition and eclipsis) very similar to that found in Irish Gaelic. This system is indicated in orthography only rarely, typically only in prepositional phrases, and even then typically only with pronouns. For example, the pronoun tu (meaning "you") experiences lenition after a vowel to become pronounced "hu" (this mutation is indicated orthographically by spelling the word as thu), and experiences eclipsis after a consonant to be pronounced "du" (indicated orthographically as dtu). Thus à thu (meaning "to you") and per dtu (meaning "for you").
In addition to this system of consonant mutation, Talossan exhibits some other unusual consonant combinations, including c'h, gn (which in Classic Orthography is written gñh), glh, rh (pronounced as English "sh"), tx, and xh.
In general, Talossan is a straightforward Romance language, true to its mythical heritage as a Latin derivative. However, it also has a number of unique features not typically found in Romance or other languages, including:
- A genitive marker (similar to the apostrophe-s in English). For example, Ian sè casa (= John's house).
- The (evolved, not created) merger of the first- and third-person plural verb conjugations, indicative of a unique "group mentality", in which the the concept “the group” is the more important semantic aspect being communicated, and whether the group does (“we”) or does not (“they”) include the speaker is somehow tangential. For example, te burlescarhent (= some group, perhaps including the speaker, perhaps not, will laugh at you).
- The (evolved, not created) merger of the verbs corresponding to English "to go" and "to come", creating in Talossan a single "verb of motion", irh (originally only "to go"). Motion in space is described exclusively by this verb, with the prepositions à (= to) and da (= from) determining direction if necessary.
- The corresponding evolution of the Talossan verb viénarh (originally equivalent to "to come") to indicate motion in time, in the same sense that irh indicates motion in space, again with prepositions indicating approach or departure. For example, viennent da menxharh (= the group just ate).
- The corresponding evolution resulting in the ability and use of the prepositions à and da to indicate the positive or negative meaning of any dependent infinitive. For example, os neceßent à menxharh (= they need to eat) and os neceßent da menxharh (= they need to not eat; that is, they need to avoid eating).