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Drake's Dozen
 

Revolution is coming


Industrial, magical, political; the dual-moon planet of Neyush is on the precipice of change.

People of many different species, reeling from the effects of the Great War almost two centuries ago, are accelerating into a new age, fueled by innovative discoveries and forgotten secrets. The event that ended the war and decimated an entire people is referred to as The Blink.

No-one knows how or why it happened, though many have theories.

Little fish, big pond


The Blink also brought change to the Dozen.

Empty metaphysical Spheres of existence, or the homes of unknowable, ancient gods? Opportunities for life-enhancing magitech, or eldritch traps waiting to ensnare the curious? Aspects of reality as normal as time and gravity, or complex creations of the Drake herself?

Whatever the Dozen truly are, something is different now. Something changed with the Blink. Something is coming to Neyush.

Are the secrets behind the Dozen the key to saving it, or the catalyst for its doom?


Message me on Discord (Pan#1034) if you want to say hi.

 

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Rudeskan Elveñan

Chishïsh çeljal reshebrëzh libved
— "May the moon keep you", a common greeting on Rudeska

Background

Odd one out

Rudeskan Elveñan, often shorted to Rudeskan (and referred to by linguists as RE), is the predominant language spoken by Rudeskan vena. It is closely related to both North West Pfemban and South West Pfemban, all three languages having evolved from Pre-Blink West Pfemban after the Blink decimated Neyush's vena population and left the survivors scattered across both Neyush and Rudeska.

Sample text and gloss

Rudeskan Chishïsh çeljal reshebrëzh libved
Pronunciation ˈt͡ʃi.ʃɪʃ - 'çel.d͡ʒal - ˈɾe.ʃe.ˌbɾəʒ - ˈlib.ved
Gloss protect.OPT - FUT.HAB - ANM.moon.ERG - 2.PL.ACC
Translation May the moon keep you

Three ways to skin a dyozhik

The three post-Blink Elveñan languages all developed in slightly different ways. The most identifiable difference between the three of them is the variety of fricatives and affricates.

RE

  • Decrease in fricative distinction
  • Increase in affricate usage
  • Loss of aspiration distinction

NWP

  • Increase in fricative distinction
  • Generally higher phoneme inventory
  • Loss of noun classes

SWP

  • Huge decrease in fricative distinction
  • Vowel simplification
  • Loss of noun cases

Identity vs Assimilation

The difference between NWP and SWP is interesting. NWP responded to the Blink by segregating themselves from the rest of the world, and the language reflects that: more hard-to-distinguish fricatives and aspiration distinctions are reminiscent of the older Elveñan languages, and make it particularly difficult to learn for non-native speakers.

SWP, on the other hand, was purposefully simplified by its speakers in an attempt to encourage more people to learn it and to help their reduced population to assimilate better with the humans, tilkens and cecaelia they needed to interact with in a Post-Blink world.

Cast Out

With no other species to interact with ( save the Troll, whose over-reliance on the warmth of the sun made interacting with them difficult on the Dusk Side), the evolution of RE was dictated purely by geography, and not cultural choices.

Phonology

Consonants

Labial / Dental Coronal Palatal Post-alveolar
m n ñ ñ
p / b t / d k / g
f / v s / z sh / zh ç / h
pf / bv ts / dz ch / j
w r / l y

Vowels

Where the consonants of Rudeskan are simpler than many other Elveñan dialects, the vowels are fairly typical of most mid-to-late languages in the tree.

What do those funny dots mean?

When the nine-vowel system is transcribed in Common, the five main vowels sound as expected, and those with diareses sound weaker, or more centralised. Most digraph combinations are allowed, but they relatively rare in Rudeskan..

Front Central / back Rounded
High i ü u
High-mid ï ü u
Mid e ë u
Low a ä o

Phonotactics

She sells thea çells

The use of multiple fricatives is a staple of most Elveñan languages, and Rudeskan is no different. Though it does have a simpler phoneme inventory, the s/sh/ç distinction in particular can still prove difficult for many people.

Soft and Flowing

Paired with a high frequency of liquids and a fairly unrestricted set of rules for placing consonants together, Rudeskan words can end up with a lot of letters before and after the vowel nucleus of syllables, resulting in the broad pattern:

(CC(L))V((L)CC).

Grammar

Nouns

Classic case of too many cases

Most Elveñan languages have an extensive case system, and Rudeskan is no exception.

Quadripartite Alignment

Like a tripartite language, Elveñan uses Ergative, Accusative and Intransitive cases to mark the transitive agent, transitive subject and intransitive agent, respectively. Unlike those, there is a fourth Passive case for transitive subjects without a specified agent.

Possession

The Genitive case is used, as one might expect, to express alienable possession by appending the possessor in a phrase.

Inalienable possession, however, is expressed by a unique Inalienable case that appends the possessor and moves it after the possessee. This is a quirk inherited from Proto-Pfemban, when inalienable possession was expressed by a phrase, rather than a single word, meaning something like "the thing that stands at me".

Location, location, location

Rudeskan features three locational cases. The Locative case is used to express being on or at the noun, while the Lative and Ablative cases express motion towards or away from the noun, respectively.

Confusingly, the Lative case is identical to the Dative case, used for generic indirect objects, in almost every usage, thanks to some unfortunate phonological evolution. In these situations, extra adpositions can be used where distinction is important.

And all the rest

The Instrumental and Comitative roughly cover the uses of 'with' as an adposition; the former indicates that the noun is the tool by which the verb is helped, and the latter expresses accompaniment.

Finally, the Reflexive case indicates the the agent is performing the verb on themself, while the Reciprocal case indicates that more than one agent are performing the verb on each other.

Like genders but not genders

Verbs

With the grammatical heavy lifting of phrases handled by the nouns, the verbs don't need any agreement marking, leaving them to encode only tense, aspect and mood.

Set the mood

Lexical mood is encoded directly on the verb, while tense and aspect appear in an auxiliary marker. This highlights the importance that vena place on context and emotional expression.

No mood suffix implies the indicative mood, but there are a total of 12 possible suffixes:

Presumptive

Implies certainty, usually despite evidence to the contrary

Dubitative

Implies that the speaker is unsure whether the statement is true

Hypothetical

The phrase is untrue; the speaker is expressing fear that it could or would have been true

"You could've died!"

Inferential

Implies reasonable certainty, but from a second-hand or unreliable source

Abilitative

States that the subject is capable of performing the verb

Equivalent of English "can"

Conditional

Expresses truth as long as the dependent clause is also true (requires a dependent clause)

Interrogative

Turns a statement into a question

Changes word order to VSO. Often not needed when using interrogative pronouns instead

Optative

Expresses desires, wishes, blessings, and curses

Changes word order to VSO

Subjunctive

Used in dependent clauses

Imperative

Expresses orders and commands

Changes word order to VO(S) (strongly implies 2nd person)

Obligative

Expresses instructions and advice

Changes word order to O(S)V. Some semantic overlap with both imperative and hortative

Hortative

Expresses encouragement or suggestion

"Allons-y"

Auxiliary tense/aspect markers

As the verbs themselves only encode mood, tense and aspect are expressed using a two-part auxiliary. Except for the simple present perfective (AKA progressive), this auxiliary is necessary whenever using a verb.

With three basic tense distinctions, and five distinct aspect suffixes, this gives a total of fifteen grammatical tense/aspect combinations.

Present

Perfective = progressive / simple present

Imperfective = continuous / "am doing / "en train de"

Perfect = "have done"

Habitual = "usually / often do"

Immediate = gnomic

Past

Perfective = simple past

Imperfective = "was doing"

Perfect = pluperfect / "had done"

Habitual = "used to do"

Immediate = "just done" / "venir de"

Future

Perfective = simple future

Imperfective = "will be doing"

Perfect = past-in-the-future / "will have done"

Habitual = "will do (at some point)"

Immediate = "about to do"

Adjectives

Like most Elveñan languages, adjectives descended originally from verbs. The particle kçe is used after any adjectives and attributive verbs to separate them from the predicate verb(s) in a phrase. As these attributive verbs can often be recognised by their lack of mood suffix, kçe is frequently dropped in slang usage.


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Comments

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13 Jul, 2021 10:20

Nice work! I haven't seen a many conlangs with a lot of palatals, interestingly that's exactly what I have with my entry (Proto-Ara-Faren) too :D Are the palatal and post-alveolar ñ allophones in the language, or are you just using one symbol to represent two phonemes?

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AS Lindsey (Pan)
13 Jul, 2021 11:25

Yes, palatals represent! The Elveñan languages are all about confusing palatal and fricative distinctions.   For this one, the ñ's are indeed allophones - in my own spread sheet, the two cells are merged. In practice it tends to be pronounced more palatal than post-alveolar (as a nasal counterpart to ç), but pronouncing it further back doesn't change the meaning :)

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