- Diphonic Vocalization (Diphonics): The Sazashi ability to make use of multiple vocal cords.
- Polyphonic Overtone (Polyphonics): The ability to make multiple notes with one vocal cord.
- Emotional Tone (EmoTone): Emotional inflection mutating words in conversation.
Saza is an agglutinative language formed of nouns which modify each other by being changed together, allowing someone to reach extreme precision in describing something, so long as they know the most efficient word combo formula. As such, all its morphemes are modifiers by nature. This means that any word can be used as a prefix or a suffix, and that doing so will change the meaning drastically. Each noun becomes an adjective for the next, generally, until a space is reached.
Tigaritei Jhoushi: Guard the Royals
- Lakei: War
- Shi: Person
- Tei: Action
- Jhou: Royalty
- Tigari: Guardian
Given that the initial structure of the Sazashi alphabet began with the Verin Phdrnmei
we can take for granted that the basic phonemes from that language carry over; these phonemes are: Ay, Ah, Bp, Yuh, Oh, Ch, Ss, Ph, L, Err, Th, Mm, N, D, Aye, and Euw
From here, Sazashi took extreme liberty in making variants and antithesis of terms. This is where the creators’ contempt of the Verin really shines through, as no small helping of the sounds are designed to be difficult and abrasive for the Verin to pronounce.
DD (represented incorrectly English as a glottal-stop apostrophe, as in Mae’chei
, and pronounced roughly like the ‘ayd’ in ‘Mayday’ if talking softly and rolling tongue) is a keystone letter of Sazashi. They applied this ‘stuttered consonant’ to the creation of many of their phonemes, marrying it to the nature-inspired sounds already part of the raw tongue. Each one of these stuttered consonants is pronounced in a different manner. Examples: k’k, x’x, d’d, and r’r
By its nature and design, Saza is a dense language with many tonal variants on its phonemes. For this reason, it’s very difficult to pin down each and every allophone. Suffice it (for now) to say that for each phoneme there are a minimum of 4 variants, one for each Tone.
Sazasharanare grammar is simple compared to the grammar of other languages, and is where the agglutinative nature of the language has the greatest impact.
As previously touched on under Morphemes
, the smallest units of Saza are themselves words. Saza is an object-based language in that it treats all things as nouns. There are no verbs -- an object doesn’t move, it has motion prefixed as a mutator.
Let’s start by defining a sentence to translate from English to Saza: Who is that person over there? Do you think we should go make friends with them? (Todo: Continue)
To delve into how to make a word in Saza, it’s important to first classify what a word is
in Saza. This may seem an oddity; certainly, a word is a term encapsulating a meaning, same as any other language, no? Correct, but it is how
it encapsulates a meaning that is unique.
Before we explain what a word is, let’s start with an example to compare and contrast with, to really draw attention to how alien a word might be to a native English speaker. Let’s use the popular English pangram The quick brown fox jumps over the the lazy dog
. Here we have two actors, the fox and the dog, both with their own adjectives being applied to them. The fox has the property of moving, jumping specifically, and is doing so in relation to the dog.
Now, let’s see the same sentence again. Still written in English, but now with Saza grammar.
Very different. Now, all adjectives and actions are grouped together in a strange way. All of our adjectives are now smushed up to the front end of the nouns, and our action got a little crazy and became their own thing after a hyphen. That whole sentence would be considered to just be two words separated by a single space, at least in Saza.
In Saza there are words and there are terms. Terms make sense on their own, but to say anything you must string together terms into words, just as we did above. See, when one noun is used as a prefix for another, it becomes an adjective to the last noun in the series. If multiple statements are being made in a single word they are separated by hyphens. For example, with FastBrownFox-OverJumpMotion
we have a fox and its jumping, both are directly related to eachother, but without a hyphen we might lose the intended meaning.
A direct translation of this could be ‘The brown fox jumped quickly up.’ It’s not a huge loss, but there is some ambiguity here that could be exacerbated in longer words, or in sentences.
- Word (Prefix Meaning, Infix Meaning, Suffix Meaning)
- Shi (Person-Like, Person, One Who...)
- Tei (Acting As, Action/Verb, To do)
- Tor (Belonging to...,Object, Owned by…)
- Rajhtoramujhn means “Sun of the Queen” Tor affects both Rajh and Amujn
Saza is a tonal language, with four primary ways to inflect any given word to modify its meaning. These tones are called (in English) Flat, High, Low, and Lost. In Sazashi they are the four Azim. Due to keyboard limitations I cannot spell each variant of the Azim, as written Saza is rife with symbols denoting which tone it’s being conveyed in.
Tones can be extremely murky to navigate. Though there are 4 defined tones, its common for Sazashi to speak in many shades between. There’s also the matter that a tone can be inflected for a meaning, or for merely because of emotions; thankfully those two tend to not conflict.
Flat Tone is very literal. A word said in Flat Tone is meant to convey data, not emotion. Note that most Saza words are very ambiguous, so what Saza considers literal we might still call open-ended.
High Tone changes words to have a more creative meaning, in the sense that words spoken in high tone never denote violence or cruelty.
Low Tone changes words to have a more destructive meaning, in the sense that words spoken in low tone tend to suggest negative or angry connotations of a word.
Lost tone is the most ambiguous, as it’s generally the tone of confusion and questioning. Most words don’t have a special meaning when spoken in this tone (which is an oscillation of both high and low tone polyphones) and rather become context sensitive. For example, you and I might inflect the final word in a sentence to make sentence a question, but a Sazashi will speak the entire sentence in that tone. To speak only that word in Lost tone shows more of a confusion regarding that word.
In many Sazashi cultures, the ability to produce polyphonic overtones is an esteemed one. Sometimes it’s a holy rite, sometimes it’s just for entertainment, but always it’s seen as a sign of extreme dedication, self-control, and discipline.
It’s holy angle is derived directly from Sajhueiuphr’raesi, who gave edicts using polyphonics to modify her diphonics, making her capable of holding 4 unique notes while she spoke. Many priests and would be prophets since have evoked the imagery by doing much the same.
Referred to as idazim
(often in Low Tone) by naive Saza speakers, Non-Tonal conversation is typically held by those incapable of Saza-crucial diphonic tonality. Though it is audibly indiscernible from Flat Tone, it is distinguished as different because it’s seen more as a speech impediment rather than a conscious choice.
Some idazim will attempt to bridge the gap in conversation by substituting other things for their lack of tonality. Listed in order of effectiveness and efficiency, they are:
- Emotional Inflection
- Mechanical Aid
This method is using the inflections of emotion to convey and mutate intent. Because Sazashi already makes use of emotional inflection to add further abstractions onto their already complex language--such as , this is often seen as still limiting, not to mention how difficult it is for non-native speakers to shift their emotional inflection from word to word rather than keeping the same from one end of a sentence to another, as they’re used to in their mother tongue.
Semi-Tone is when someone tries to emulate Saza tonality with simple vocal tricks. The standard practice is to hiss the words while breathing in for high tone, and to speak down in one’s throat (as though clearing it) for lowtone. The shortcoming of this is that it can make breathing irregular and difficult, and is winding for longer sentences.
In the years since its inception, many non-Sazashi have adopted Saza, either out of will (cultural assimilation and immigration) or necessity (trade and law enforcement). To overcome the shortcomings of idazim several inventions have been made, most of them by Aempis (the country with the most immigrants on Jhoutai). The most revolutionary of these was a vocoder designed for the Jhoutigari, their all-inclusive martial and justice power. The vocoder takes cues from the positions of the Joutigari’s gloves, converting gesture to tone so that the wearers voice is properly mechanically inflected when it comes out of the speaker. It’s not seen as a particularly beautiful sound, but it does its job well, so long as the wearer understands Tonality well enough to execute it properly. More advanced rigs use neural interfacing for higher accuracy, have more audio fidelity, and support more dialects of Saza.
Another language which evolved by necessity. Shalegsharanare (Shalegsha for short) was invented by the Verin and named by the Khirmagne. It was first developed as a diplomatic gesture, a simple series of hand motions to denote tone so that the Verin could open an amicable trade route with the Khirmagne, their neighbors across the ocean on the mainland. These Verin quickly became popular among the Khirmagne, and shalegsha spread to common usage among the people.
During the The Pathogen, one of the many diseases that spread through the land was deafness inducing. Shalegsha gained popularity during that time, evolving into a full language of its own, a direct translation of Saza into gestures. Even after The Pathogen ended, shalegsha remained a favored language for soldiers (to communicate silently), merchants, the deaf, and any diplomatic sort who wanted to communicate without losing Tonality.
Shalegsha is so widespread, in fact, that even those who haven’t learned it understand the basics, and so colloquialisms, and subdialects have evolved. Masters of it can hold two conversations at once; one with their hands and one with their mouths. Extremely proficient speakers of it and its sub-dialects have been known to have entire conversations made of innuendo delivered through contradicting Diphonics and EmoTones while also having an entirely different narrative through gesture. Its an art, and at the heart of Sazashi theatre.
Sazasharanare, The Tongue of the Sazashi (Saza for short), traces its origins trace back to the Hiserabi.
Originally created with the purpose of maintaining the floating towers of the Verin, the Hiserabi were discontinued after metaphysical automation deemed them redundant. They were relocated to Nege—a forest of mixotrophic trees, each kilometers tall and wide—and dropped in the middle as an experiment to see if they could escape the megaflora and megafauna. It was doubted that they would survive, but those who did could provide invaluable info to the Verin, who had been able to penetrate very far into it. The Hiserabi turned out to be excellent survivors, which could be easily attributed to the mobility afforded by their long limbs, but which in fact came from their pronounced instance of the Sazashi trait of diphonic vocal cords - multiple cords which can be articulated independently.
Where speed and claws failed the Hiserabi, their vocal range saved the day. They found themselves able to mimicry the creatures of the Nege and lead them around with basic commands. Eventually they lost interest in escaping, and began to settle down instead, forming a society. The diphonic vocalizations became commonplace, and were quickly integrated into their language. Eventually their society grew spread enough to the edge of the Nege that the Verin were able to pierce in and re-enslave a great number of them, and so this language (today called Chitter) was introduced to the Sazashi masses. It caught on quickly for its novelty--the other Sazashi had never incorporated their diphonic into anything more than spice when singing and as basic vocalizations of irritation of joy, and it entertained them to be able to do something that the Verin could not. It quickly became an argot language for the Sazashi to user behind the backs of the Verin, with different dialects incorporating the sounds of the beasts of their own lands, albeit only as well as their varied vocal range could approximate (for example, the Shejlt were better at what would later be known as High Tone, and the Kajh at Low Tone).
As the Verin replaced more and more Sazashi subspecies with metaphysical automation, tensions grew. Each replaced race had thus far been left to die by the elements (as with the Helyk, Nasyk, and Hiserabi) or by their own sterility (as with the Saemasuch and Lusemsuch). New designs replaced the old; among them was the Aen, which were designed with maths, management, and optimisation in mind. They were tasked with solving the logistics issues of the ever-growing Verin Haimarchy, which was reaching a point where it could no longer reliably feed itself, much less the Sazashi. Many of the Aen realized that any solution meant taking part in their own obsoletion, and instead formed into cabals against Verin Haimarchy. One of the first acts of their secret society was to structure and organize a new iteration of Chitter: Sazasharanare. It was very close to its predecessor, albeit with more structure and rules to make sense of it.
When the Sazashi revolution came to pass, the Sazasharanare language proved invaluable. Not only did it given the Sazashi a natural field advantage in the ability to whip local fauna into a frenzy, but it also proved a great tool in weeding out shapeshifting Verin spies, who lacked the familiarity with the language to say Saza tongue twisters, even with their altered vocal cords.
Modern Saza still has many different dialects, spellings, and confusing quirks. It is very much a language of metaphor, simile, and multiple entendres, which make wordplay common. It can take years to truly master. A common alternative to Saza is Ubiq, a trade language akin to esperanto.
Expression of Color and Emotion
As an object oriented language, Saza might be expected to have difficulty expressing abstracts without a noun equivalent for its singular flat tone, such as emotions or colors. If it’s intangible or isn’t a quantification (as a number) then there oughn’t be room for it, right?
From the Sazashi perspective, this turns out to be a very small hurdle to clear. See, gems hold significant religious and metaphysical meaning in Ethnis. Long before the advent of the Sazashi, the Verin Sovereign outlined the Pillars of 7, a system by which to organize the people, calendar, and magic of the world. They aligned each of the seven Pillars with the perceived attributes and personalities of a person,as well as with the seven colors of the rainbow. Because of the ease of imbuing gems and minerals, they were chosen to symbolize the seven pillars, and are organized by colors to them.
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Saza started as vocalizations, sounds I thought would be fitting for the Sazashi to make. As I grew up and got into other Sci-Fi and Fantasy I, like I’m sure many other writers before me have, got it into my head that it wasn’t bona fide epic-level storytelling unless I had some self-made languages in it. Admittedly, that’s still kind of a thought that bounces around in my head, but anymore I just work on Saza because it’s fun. It helps that Ethnis is the lens through which I memorize the world; I’m far more likely to learn about linguistics and other such interesting topics if I have something in Ethnis to correlate them to.
So, that’s the why, but what about the modus operandi? Ethnis stemmed from German foremost. Even early into hearing any German I really liked the sentence structure, and the more I learned the more it seemed to make sense to me, especially for a language that stemmed naturally for utility, as Saza was meant to. Another important thing I always wanted to tie in was the Sazashi diphonic vocal cords. It was imperative to me that those diphonic were a part of the language. For this I looked to Japanese language, which is very tonal. Everything since then has been a mixture of exaggerating the primary features of German and Japanese, and finding interesting ways to make them interplay.
Notes and Todo
Physical gestures and standard emotional intonation add two more levels of abstraction to the language. Extremely proficient speakers of it and its sub-dialects have been known to have entire conversations made of innuendo delivered through contradicting polytone and emotional tone while also having an entirely different narrative through gesture. Its an art, and at the heart of Sazashi theatre.
Clean up the references to polyphonics, overtone, and multiple vocal cords. They’re being used wrong, I’m sure
Mention that many new words are derived from names
Mention how emotions and colors are derived from gemstones and metals.
If a word such as Ruby has dual meaning evenin in flat tone, it might be stated twice to clarify it as the lesser used one
Written is inspired by bengali, mongolian, and telugu