Say everything, understand nothing
I'd sooner brush my teeth with sewer water than let a single word of Komon escape my lips.
Manipal Sonda, Chuitian hermit, 3376 AoG
omon is the default language amongst all casterway cultures. Although it’s typically thought of as a universal “language”, it would be more-accurately defined as a random conglomeration of any-and-all other languages. Komon is the product that results when myriad societies try to interact through single medium over a period of millennia. The roots of the language go back far longer than anyone on Excilior can possibly know. Cervia Polonosa understood it when she arrived in 1 PE. Every casterway that has arrived since the dawn of the planet’s history has understood the language, indicating that it is also a tool in their parent society and it must be used, to some extent, by the Absents. And since no one maintains the memories of that society, no one can say how long Komon has been a lingual utility tool, or how many other alien cultures have contributed to its evolution.
Adoption & Acceptance
Although Komon is an accepted form of communication throughout the world, this in no way implies that its usage is consistent from country-to-country, or even from village-to-village. In some societies, Komon is the only language regularly in use. In others, Komon is a rarely-deployed tool that will mark the speaker as an obvious foreigner to anyone within earshot. In rare cases, such conspicuous “otherness” can even place the speaker in danger.
By CultureAt one end of the spectrum is the Lumidari culture. They have no native tongue of their own. All state business, and nearly all private business, is happily conducted in Komon. The vast majority of them have never even tried to learn another language. At the other end of the spectrum are the Inqoan peoples. The language is never found casually in their societies. They make no effort to translate their own documents into it. They will only speak it when absolutely necessary. And even then, they are not shy about broadcasting their annoyance at being forced to communicate in Komon. In Jontzu culture, Komon is used as a casual dialect in the streets, but all official government business (and large-scale commercial endeavors) are conducted in their native tongue. In Tallonai societies, Komon usage is a class indicator. Those in the Never Castes use Komon by default and are only minimally-proficient in Tallonari. Those in the Ever Castes only speak Tallonari amongst themselves and will only revert to Komon during activities where they are forced to engage with their lower-caste brethren – like when they’re shopping amongst lowly merchants.
Komon’s casual rules and broad utility can also serve as great barriers to its effective use. The language evolves and morphs so quickly from decade-to-decade and region-to-region, that it’s not uncommon to have two people speaking, ostensibly in some form of Komon, who, in practice, cannot actually understand each other. This has led some linguists to classify it not as a language, but instead as a broad family of related dialects. Those who are most comfortable with Komon bolt new words, phrases, and even alphabetical characters onto the language at a breakneck pace.
We arrived at the negotiations with great optimism, for there was much to discuss and everyone had a vested interest in finding common ground. But our hopes of meaningful dialog were dashed when we realized that none of the participants spoke anything but Komon.
Bidenton Draxworth, Atrian merchant, 881 AoE
AmbiguityThis characteristic also makes the language surprising difficult to learn in comparison to others. This is especially true of the written form. There are no universal rules for the language. When tackling the language for the first time, many will learn certain shorthand guidelines that will help them remember how something should be spelled or how sentences should be constructed. But as they continue their learning they will also realize that every one of these “guidelines” comes with a set of instances where those same guidelines do not apply. Does the adjective come after the noun or before? It depends. With a given combination of characters, is one of them supposed to be silent? It depends. The ambiguity in these so-called rules inevitably leads to “grammar wars” amongst pedantic types.
he alphabet, like the overall language, is a collection of characters that have been borrowed from a long list of other languages. With this in mind, those characters are not always entirely logical. There are some phonemes that are often represented by two, or even three, separate characters. A character can represent one thing when it's used in a word that originated from a given language, and it can represent something altogether different when it's used in a word that originated from another language. The following example shows the message in this paragraph, translated into Komon.
The alphabet, like the overall language, is a collection of characters that have been borrowed from a long list of other languages. With this in mind, those characters are not always entirely logical. There are some phonemes that are often represented by two, or even three, separate characters. A character can represent one thing when it's used in a word that originated from a given language, and it can represent something altogether different when it's used in a word that originated from another language. The following example shows the message in this paragraph, translated into Komon.
omon is spoken, to varying extents, across all of Excilior, but that is not the theoretical extent of its use. All casterways who have endured excilation have spoken Komon. Sometimes they arrive knowing other languages as well. But they always know Komon. For this reason, it's presumed that the Absents also speak Komon. When Cervia Polonosa crashed on the planet, she also spoke Komon, although her chosen language was Tallonari. The first time she heard casterways speaking, they were using Komon and she was able to understand them, although her use of Komon was significantly different from theirs.