Languages of the Storyon August 30, 2012 at 10:34 pm
(KAIANEHE UGYCHTHEGI MUV FUUC GUMYRAM OZGYDAFIEC!)
‘There are not many languages on Kaian, but they bump into each other frequently.’
The most formidable of the languages alluded to in this Paerthian quote is written HGWT (Sgkuhth), an acronym for the contradictory sounding “New Ancient Lore”. Another is JEsceH (JehschehS) or “Old Lore” and uses the actual ancient glyphs that became the N.A.L. alphabet. If you’re reading Chapter 1 for the first time, you may pick up on the fact that two of its three main characters are born into cultures speaking very close dialects of N.A.L.
Other great lingoes in use on Kaian include O Ndoko (Ondoko, the language of the third character), Vûl, Mændægæ, Shuvaryk, Tradrootle and Iyoiith. Mændægæ has no well-known written form, and it belongs exclusively to the culture of Mændægæ people in the Atagaian region. Oral translation is sparse at best. Little can be shown that Iyoiith (called “Trurp” meaning “No Language”) is a single language of the confoundedly enigmatic Iyoiith who can’t even show up to explain themselves (according to leading faerie scholars). Minor other languages around Kaian play no big part in the story.
Faerie English or Just Plain Faerie?
Faerie English words are to compensate for the lack of Jeenare concepts that exist as elegantly (or at all) in English (though no character “really” uses these words since English does not exist on Kaian). Most importantly, there is a “middle-gender” lale, to accompany male and female, and there are its pronouns ze, ze(i)r, ze(i)rs. (For more on the gender roles, please read this brief on The Jeenare).
English is a flexible and easy language, especially since it is one many people we know know we know know. Ahem. Well, let’s not get tied up in morphophonetymology now. Alright. Sometimes, a word is just expressed with so much more satisfaction in the original faerie tongue, if but once. In that case, we have done our best to alliterate it so you have a chance to pick up on it if you want to.
Reading Alliterated Faerie
Pronunciation Guide for Readers of English
Unorthodox letters are used as touch stones, but also have been kept to a minimum so that rough alliteration remains accessible. Vowels can be treated as phonetic Italian vowels (o is “oh”, e is “eh”, i is “ee”) but double vowels (uu ii) and vowels with an ‘h’ added (uh ih) may be added where an English confusion might happen, which is pretty often because — let’s face it — English spelling doesn’t make much sense. To be fair, Jeenare can be a bit fickle themselves (uu may be “oo” or “yoo” and ii may be “ee” or “yee” depending on dialect) but unless you have really critical faeries at home or where you’ll be using these languages, I wouldn’t be too concerned.
* :actually written as X in NAL or X in Old Lore, It is pronounced by creating suction between the lips and pulling them apart, like the implosive sound of a kiss. Will probably be drawn as a small burst of lines.
S F H :a large S, F or H indicates the sound of hissing. Some dialects will actually sound more like a whistle. It seems safe to use these letters for English readers (even though these in particular would create the most elitist sound to a native.)
CH/SH :if I seem to guess wrong between “chh” and “shh”, go with your gut. Only adherents to a dialect would disagree.
K/G :a K actually indicates more of a soft G sound but because both must be emphasized with breath, it can sometimes sound “sharper” than a regular G.
| :a very thin diamond – or a simple vertical line in modern N.A.L. – indicates the need for a glottal stop in Old Lore, audible breath in newer dialects, and is rarely used for anything else but as space or contraction between words.
Th :Th is pronounced like the “th” in “the” and “than” rather than the “th” in “thick” or “thumb”, but add a subtle “T” or lisp if possible, and you’ll have a good range of the variations.
Æ/æ :like the first “e” in ember.
R :unlike Ondoko, with its throaty treatment, the “R” in Lore is basically a vowel.
V :with teeth very lightly touching the lip, almost a U or W sound.
Dzh :like a staccato Z, but drawn out.
&/& :this character just means “ampersand” and “and”, and is pronounced “MPuh” like popping a humming bubble. It is fun to say, but Lore speakers say it a lot, sometimes just to say anything at all.
SH & CH :unlike in Lore, the difference between the soft “shh” and the hard “chh” is important and a potential subject of ridicule.
LG :this is like the rolling part of an “R”, with the R part r-r-r-r-removed.
F/G :sometimes, I will remind you of the breathiness of Ondoko’s “F” and “G” by adding an “H” after it. They are rarely as pronounced as the “f” in “fact” or the “g” in “good”.
pb ppb pp :strongly explosive Ps (represented in Ondoko by the V character) are accompanied by a hum. Use just the right amount of restraint so it doesn’t sound like you’re spitting or making a rude noise. Good luck.
V :“V” doesn’t exist very strongly, and is usually a derivative of B, unless imported from a foreign tongue.
M :“M” is pronounced more with the nose than we are familiar, and I will remind the reader of this with an “N” after it. To do it perfectly, you will actually want to hold your tongue to your upper lip and create a hum from your nasal cavity to your mouth. But that’s pretty bookish, even for Ondokohe.
Ts/Z :Ts is like the “zz” in “Pizza”, whereas Z is for “Zebra”.
Y :is pronounced like the “Y” in “bye”.
* X | :characters borrowed from Lore, and as such may be pronounced similarly.
The Speech in Bubbles
Occasionally, even when characters can hear one another, an accent will make itself known or a character’s faerie tongue won’t be translated; this represents our sympathetic ear of and to the featured characters, despite the nescient nature of delineating “attitudes” and “accents” from “dialects” or “languages”. Please understand this is not necessarily an attempt to romanticize ignorance or xenophobia (or xenophilia). It’s just a bit of insight on how faeries perceive. Various treatments may be used to distinguish meetings of different languages.
“Audible” speech of faerie folx appears like dark ink on light paper, while thought, precognition and psychic communication may take on other visual traits. Generally, a more particular bubble is a more particular kind of communication. With practice, you’ll pick up on which is which and whom can hear whom (or what). Despite how unrealistic it would be to have such insight as a casual visitor to Kaian, the reader can enjoy the discrimination of scholastic rumors in the entry notes.