Nokmeni

Language of shadows

N
okmeni is the native language of the Noctern peoples. Its origins, like the origins of the Nocterns themselves, are cloaked in mystery. The language is not easily classified as an offshoot of any other known tongue. It's theoretically possible (albeit, unlikely), that they created the language from scratch. But primitive dialects usually A) show a clear lineage from parent languages, and B) betray a surfeit of vocabulary. Nokmeni shows neither of these traits.
 
Volume of Words
For such a mysterious language, it showcases an impressive array of descriptive terms. There are at least four times as many words in Nokmeni as there are in Tallonari. Komon is infamous for having an unwieldy arsenal of cobbled-together terms borrowed from all manner of foreign languages, but Nokmeni has at least twice the vocabulary.
 
Nocterns
The language is spoken almost exclusively in the subterranean realm of the Ontorlands. Although there are a handful of surface dwellers who have made the (considerable) effort to master its nuances, it's exceedingly rare to see Nokmeni writing above ground. And it's even less common to hear it spoken. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Nocterns themselves will rarely speak it when they find themselves beyond their home caves. When traversing at ground level, Nocterns are known to be fluent in many languages. But they are loathe to speak their native tongue in the presence of the surface nations.

Alphabet

I rounded a sharp curve and spilled suddenly into a huge chamber - and I was immediately overcome with awe and emotion. Here, upon thousands of meters of cave walls, polished specifically for this purpose, were thousands of Nokmeni letters, each glowing faintly in the dark with hues of amber, magenta, and emerald. And though my Nokmeni is rough, to say the least, it was immediately evident that these were no "cave drawings". No "pictograms" or "hieroglyphs". This was literature. An epic saga spilled across these regal walls for no greater purpose than to stir the soul.
Zina Bartíková, Chevian explorer, 2919 AoR
N
okmeni's written form is a challenge for outsiders to comprehend. Many feel the letters look like indistinguishable flowers or petals. In fact, the shape of the letters lends itself heavily to the traditional tools that the Noctern use for writing. In its highest form, Nokmeni leans heavily on color to convey additional context. This means that a given letter in magenta conveys different meaning than the same letter in, say, cobalt. However, in less formal messaging, all of the letters have a "default" meaning in the event the message can only be written with a single ink or color. The following example shows the message in this paragraph, translated into Nokmeni.
 
Nokm eni'swritten for m is a chall enge foroutsiders tocomprehend. Many feel thele ttersl ook likeind isti ngui shable flowers or petals. In fact, th e sha peof the letters lends itselfhe avily to the trad itional tools that theNoct ernuse for writing. In its highest form, No

Geographical Distribution

B
ecause of its exclusive association with the Noctern and, specifically, with the Ontorlands, it can truly be said that Nokmeni is spoken everywhere, and... nowhere. On one hand, the Ontorlands extend, in one way or another, beneath every populated area across the planet. In this sense, Nokmeni is a global language. On the other hand, the language is nearly unseen and unheard anywhere above ground. Therefore, from the perspective of the typical oplander, the language is more dead than Latin and less practical than Swahili.
 
Liability
It's also important to note that, due to deep-seated issues of racial hatred, it can be dangerous to be heard speaking Nokmeni above ground. Even if the speaker doesn't look Noctern or otherwise "code" as Noctern, speaking Nokmeni is an effective way to raise suspicion amongst many cultures and can, in the most extreme cases, put the speaker in physical danger.

Phonology

N
okmeni is most notable for its aggressive use of pitch and tone to convey meaning. Specifically, the language is often characterized as overtly musical. Although native speakers don't think of their language in this way, outsiders who hear a conversation in fluent Nokmeni will often mistake it for song. Depending upon the nature of the message being conveyed, this "song" will not always follow traditional scales, and it can be jarring at times to hear one note break off into a discordant vein, but at other times, long stretches of Nokmeni conversation can hit the foreign ear as melodic.

Vocabulary

T
he language features the largest vocabulary of any known casterway tongue. Although it can be an extreme challenge for outsiders to master, those who have undertaken the effort wonder at the specificity allowed by the finely-nuanced words available throughout the language. For example:
  • There are 9 different words to describe the emotions one experiences while reminiscing about the past. The different words distinguish between the amount of time that has passed between the event and the reminiscence, as well as the general joy/sorrow felt by the person doing the reminiscing. Reminiscing, ruefully, over missed financial opportunities in the distant past is Tanikawa. But reminiscing about a great love affair, just ended, is Kanemoto.
  • There are 14 different words to describe disparate outcomes of military battles. The Nokmeni word for a Pyrrhic victory is Hideyoshi. The word for a crushing defeat, but one that leaves your enemy's populace feeling morally degraded, is Yoshiteru.
This nuance should not be confused with the slapdash amalgamation that is characteristic of Komon. In Komon, there may be 14 different ways to say something, but it's only because 14 different nearly-identical, and often-conflicting, words have been bolted onto the language. This frequently leads to confusion and misunderstanding between Komon speakers who thought they were all communicating in the same language.
 
Accurate & Efficient
Nokmeni has no such issue. Between fluent Nokmeni speakers, there is very little room for ambiguity. Assuming that the speaker actually knows what he-or-she is trying to communicate, the words almost always exist to portray a very precise meaning. And as long as the receiver is also fluent in Nokmeni, there is not much room for misunderstanding.   This also tends to make the Nokmeni language incredibly efficient. Whereas Komon speakers may struggle over many minutes, with a great slew of words, to convey their true meaning, Nokmeni speakers can often achieve the same result in a single sentence taking mere seconds to verbalize.

Pronunciation nock-MENN-ee
Spoken by
Common Female Names
Kalsang, Legshey, Sonam, Karma, Padma
Common Male Names
Bhakto, Choden, Rinchen, Yangdon, Dolkar
Common Unisex Names
Jinpa, Jorden, Krendal, Tansin, Bhutin

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