Aalish

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Aalish (aales-plïtac or ales-) is a large group of interrelated but diverse dialects spoken in the Aal Valleys in the northern regions of the mainland of Einwimz, as well as on several of the northern and northwestern island chains. As yet, no standard form of the language has emerged, but the urban dialect spoken in the town of T'alorp has become a lingua franca on the mainland.

History

The first written records of Aalish are dated to approximately 700, but loanwords into other nearby languages recorded earlier show that the first Aalish settlers were well-established in the area and speaking an early form of their language at least several hundred years earlier. Aalish is unrelated to any other language of Einwimz, having been brought across the Big Big Sea by settlers from an uncertain land in about -300.

The great flourishing of Aalish began in the Fifty Extraordinary Years, during which the Aal Valleys, especially the island and coastal towns, became significant trading hubs. It was in this period that the Aal Principalities established themselves as great powers, protecting themselves and their language from persecution in the years to come through civil defence and cultural enrichment. The latter strategy led to a great number of poems and epic novels composed in the language in this time and the century that followed. Despite this, the Aal Valleys remain culturally insular, with most of the literature made available only by small village print shops throughout the valleys and distributed only very locally. Because of this, the local libraries of the area have been named one of the cultural wonders of Einwimz, with each one carrying a small treasure-trove of local literary masterpieces. Attempts to gather all the manuscripts and printed editions together into one collection have been met with fierce opposition from locals, who see their local collections as an important part of their regional heritage.

Phonology

As a large group of diverse dialects, Aalish has no standard pronunciation. The most commonly described in literature is the T'alorpian dialect, however several detailed comparative studies have also been made between this form and the insular dialects. The former is mainly described below.

Consonants

Aalish has 11 consonant phonemes. There is no phonemic distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonant fricatives or stops — they are unvoiced at the beginnings and ends of words and voiced elsewhere. There is also allophony between [l] and [r] (realized in all modern dialects as [ɾ]) — [l] is the pronunciation used at the beginning of syllables while [r] is used at the end.

Labial

Labio-dental

Alveolar

Palato-alveolar

Palatal

Velar

Glottal

Stop

p

t

k

Fricative

f

s

ʃ

ç

h

Nasal

n

Approximant

j

Liquid

r

Vowels

Both insular and mainland Aalish have a simple set of four pairs of rounded and unrounded vowels i–y / e–ø / ɑ–ɒ / u–ɯ, with an additional weak vowel ə with no rounded counterpart.

Vowel length is distinctive in insular Aalish but not on the mainland, giving rise to islanders' jokes about mainlanders such as the following:

A: Pliität te ha-lüniš hi plaap sa?

B: Kun' 'k na, pliität ja te ha-lüniš hi plaap sa?

A: (affecting a mainland accent) Ši tuuli!

Morphology

Nouns and Pronouns

Nouns in Aalish dialects belong to several classes, the chief ones being animate, inanimate, and attributive/abstract. Animate and inanimate nouns behave similarly to each other while the attributive/abstract nouns are quite different in that they require an animate or inanimate noun to follow them in a compound, such that some grammarians consider them to belong to a separate category. Animate nouns refer to things such as people, animals, as well as the weather, waves and some other natural phenomena. Inanimate nouns are everything else: household objects, buildings, cities, and countries.

Despite this, the rules of animate and inanimate nouns are not firm, and, for instance, sometimes in poetic works one finds the names of places or countries treated as animate as a form of anthropomorphization. Additionally, there are some semantic groups which span the two categories, such as flora: it is often difficult for a student to know whether a particular plant, flower, or tree name is considered animate or inanimate, and in some cases both may be used.

Animate and inanimate nouns behave identically in and of themselves, but the distinction affects how articles and numerals, verbs in some cases, and certain pronouns behave. Nouns also exist in three cases: subjective, objective, and locative, but again the distinction affects only articles, numerals, and pronouns.

Verbs

Verbs in Aalish are inflected by suffixing and by mutation of the root vowel to a rounded form.

The basic formula for the present tense is as follows:

P Sing. Pl.
1 -an ¨-an
2 -as/-aš ¨-aš
3 -at/-ät ¨-ät/¨-ät

For the past tense, the pattern is much the same (the 'e' in these suffixes representing an /ə/):

P Sing. Pl.
1 -anet ¨-anet
2 -ast/-ašt ¨-ašt
3 -atet/-ätet ¨-ätet/¨-ätet

However, the future tense is somewhat different ('e' again being /ə/):

P Sing. Pl.
1 ¨ ¨
2 ¨-es/-eš ¨-e
2 ¨-et ¨-e

In these tables, the dual paradigms for the second and third persons are used in each case for inanimate and animate subjects, respectively.

There is only one imperative form, which has no suffix and no rounding; i.e. it is the simple verb stem alone.

In addition, around 10% of established verbs in the language follow their own irregular paradigm. Most of these follow the regular pattern in the present tense but . Precisely which verbs are irregular varies by dialect, with some being more regularized than others.

Grammar

The basic word order in Aalish is verb-subject-object; however, certain particles, in most regions now only used in dialect literature and other elevated forms, are placed at the beginning of a sentence and cause the subject to precede the verb. Most other particles, used mainly for emphasis and to express politeness and register, are placed immediately after the verb. After the object, a series of prepositional phrases may add further detail to the utterance.

Yes-no questions have no special grammatical properties and are usually created simply by raising of the voice at the end of the sentence, though the particle ja can be used to affirm or clarify that one is asking a question. Other questions are formed simply by the addition of a ‘question word’ at the very end of a sentence. The most usual two question words are sa and , which are used to ask for inanimate and animate nouns, respectively (being roughly equivalent to ‘what?’ and ‘who?’). In general other questions are asked by prefixing these question words with prepositions — hi sa or fut sa asks ‘why?’ (literally ‘after/because of what?’), ep sa asks ‘where?’ (‘in what?’/‘at what place?’), etc.

Orthography

As a large group of diverse dialects, Aalish has no standard orthography. The first attempts at transcribing Aalish were done by travellers encountering the language and writing down what they learned of it in their own native scripts, which, being foreign to the Aalish sound and morphological systems, were often quite unsuited to the language. Despite this, adaptations of some of these systems were made for the use of trained scribes, and together with limited records in the journals of the travellers which taught it to them, the official documents they wrote are the only written records of the language from 700 to the late 13th century.

Finally the Aalic writing system was introduced by the Crown Prince of Aal in 1397 and rapidly promoted through the expansion of literacy education throughout the Aal Principalities, but the system did not attempt to unify the differences between dialects, so each area adopted its own written variant to mirror the local spoken vernacular. What follows in an explanation of the essential features of the writing system, but using the standard transliteration into the alphabet of this encyclopedia, instead of the more usual Aalic script.

The four unrounded vowel are denoted i, e, a, and u, respectively; their rounded counterparts are marked with diacritics ï, ë, ä, and ü. Additionally, the letter o is used instead of ä in vowels where no morphological connection to an unrounded a exists, mainly in loanwords.

The consonants are denoted f, h, j, p, t, k, n, s, š (ʃ), c (ç). [l] and [r] are represented by the same letter in Aalic script, but in the examples above are transliterated depending on their syllable position, to ease reading for those familiar only with this encyclopedia's language.

DavidPKendal (talk) 12:40, 29 January 2016 (EST)

Citations: Big Big Sea, Fifty Extraordinary Years