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Mermish

Mermish, known for it's watery and musical quality, is spoken not only by mermaids, but my many humans as well. It is the official language of Brek, and it is common in both coastal areas and in cities with large populations who follow the Mun religion.

Writing System

The Mermish alphabet is used more on land than underwater, as many Mermish groups have a primarily oral tradition. The frequent interactions between Mermish and humans, however, has led many Mermish to teaching literacy basics to children, and underwater books are often produced using fine sheets of metal. The alphabet is the same as the alphabet as used in the dead language, Roex. Each letter represents a single sound, and both vowel and consonant sounds are included. Diacritics mark long vowels, but nasality and aspiration are not marked, producing a large number of heteronyms which must be understood from context. One interesting element of the Mermish alphabet is that more angular letters represent stops and more fluid letters represent more fluid sounds, such as nasals, liquids, and vowels. Another interesting element is that the language reads from top to bottom, going left to right on odd numbered lines and right to left on even numbered lines (like a zigzag)

Geographical Distribution

Mermish is spoken primarily by mermaids and humans, though it is also relatively common among the sprite populations in Zenxon. It is the official language of Brek, and an official language in Nefrale, Xye, and Ursul, though it is common in all of the island nations in the Major Sea. It is even relatively common in Zenxon, despite the common belief in the superiority of humans. It also common along most of the coastlines, especially in trade ports like Mevi .

Phonology

Mermish phonology is known for its musical and watery quality, which is due to a large number of nasal and liquid sounds. In addition, many of the sounds in Mermish are aspirated, including all of the plosives. Though there are only five vowels, the meaning of a word will change depending on whether the vowel is long, short, or nasal. For example, the word for water, [o:nu:ba:], and the word for child, [onu:ba:], are differentiated only by the length of the first vowel. Surprisingly, Mermish has no diphthongs. Perhaps even more surprisingly, it is not a tonal language.

Morphology

Mermish morphology is quite complex. Nouns have seven cases, and declensions are different for male and female nouns. There are also a number of stem changing verbs.   Adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number, and case.   There are two numbers: singular and plural.   The conjugation of verbs also changes based on the gender, person, and number of the subject noun, as well as tense, aspect, mood, and voice (active or passive)

Syntax

Mermish follows a subject-object-verb structure. Adjectives and adjectival clauses precede nouns and negation precedes verbs.

Vocabulary

Mermish culture naturally centers around water, and therefore words related to water have very important meanings. For example, the word onuba, for water, is also the word for life. Another example is the word dho, which means gill. In its verbal form, "to gill," actually means to breathe. Similarly, the verb "to land", does not mean to fall, as it does in many other languages, but to stand or to rise, as land rises out of the water.   Mermish culture also centers around the idea of a balance between opposites: male and female, light and dark, hot and cold, etc. This makes the connotation of words different in Mermish than in other languages. For example, the word rheonuba, which cane mean either childish or uneducated, can, but does not necessarily carry a strong negative connotation. Rheonuba can also refer to a person that gets along with children because they are very imaginative or a student who is just beginning the study of a certain area. The first has a positive connotation and the second a neutral one, as this is seen a normal stage in life. In contrast, the word, au, meaning unbalanced, is one of the most offensive insults in the language.
Common Phrases
nhuba
Mermish person
neunhuba
human (literally, land person)
shashado
familial; fishy
colloq. a human that might as well be Mermish
dho
gill
to breathe
rhedou
not having gills
colloq. cowardly
au
unbalanced
rheonuba
childish
uneducated
rheanuba
rude
onuba
water
life
to swim
neuonuba
to walk
Common Female Names
Anaderea Lorea Dakati Demira
Common Male Names
Ereminio Anunatiato Bedivere Lotip
Common Unisex Names
Dado Bidea Tarali Numi

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Cover image: by Molly Mar

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