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Sai Õl Tal (Saial language)

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Sai Õl Tal (in Aradal: sayaltal) is a language spoken by the Saial people on the highlands of the Serme Mountains. The literal meaning of Sai õl tal is common people's speech.

   

Sociolinguistics

  Currently the official language of the Aramacänten (Mountain kingdom) is Aradal, but Saial language and culture has had a large influence on the Ara. The Ara people have inherited most of the characteristic features of their culture from the Saial, including farming methods, social class system, and religious practises such as Áçäwal temple tradition and the tradition of worshipping and taming dragons.   The most important loans from Saial to Aradal include sayal 'person' (Saial sai õl 'common people'), tal 'language', äso 'mother' (Saial äsu) and áçä 'temple' (Saial ai šä 'holy place'). The loans reflect a very close relationship between the two peoples, including frequent marriages. Most of the place names in the Kingdom are superficially Aradal. In practice, however, Aradal has borrowed most of it's geographical vocabulary from Saial, and most place names are either direct loans or loan translations from Saial. Saial is still an important language of religion and oral "literature". Some of the historical narratives, mythology and prayers are conducted exclusively in Saial.  

Grammar


Phonology

  • The stress is always on the last syllable of the word.
  • There are no long vowels or diphtongs. Two or more vowels next to each other are separated by a glottal stop.
  • If you are unfamiliar with IPA symbols, you can listen to the sounds HERE!

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    Vowels

    front back
    high i u
    mid e ö ɤ o
    low a ä

    [ɤ] is written as õ

    Consonants

    bilabial alveolar postalveolar velar glottal
    nasal m n ŋ
    plosive p t k q
    ejective p' t' k'
    fricative s ʃ
    approximant w l
    trill r
    [ʃ] is written as š
    [ r ] is devoiced or fricativiced unless it is between two vowels

    Writing System

    Saial is almost never written, because literacy is not widespread in the Aramacänten (Mountain kingdom) and any official documents are produced in Aradal. If Saial words or names are written, the Aradal interpretation of their pronounciation is used, erasing the phonemes that don't exist in Aradal.

    Morphology


    Verb

    The Saial verbs are marked for person, tense and number.   The verbs have direct-inverse alignment. This means that some persons are seen as more important in the grammar, and always get person marking, whether they are the subject or the object in the sentence. The hierarchy is Saial is first person > second person > third person.
      When a person higher in the hierarchy is the subject, and the lower is the object, the subject person is marked as expected:
    k'a-pöš-ak'
    1SG-love-DEF.OBJ
    'I love him'

    pöš-ak'
    love-DEF.OBJ
    'He loves him'

    But if the lower person is the subject and the higher person the object, the object is marked, and inversion marker (-en) is added. Note that without inversion marker this would be identical to 'I love him':
    k'a-pöš-ak'-en
    1SG-love-DEF.OBJ-INV
    'He loves me'

    Noun

    The Saial nouns are only minimally marked and do not have case. Usually the only marking is for plural (-aq).    

    Numerals

    When counting Saial nouns, a numeral classifier must be used. The classifiers are chosen according to the shape and animacy status of the noun.   k'up' rõ õl-aq
    2 CLASS person-PL
    'two people' (lit: two mouths of people)
      k'up' rõ ot'ipõ-aq
    'two younger sisters'
      k'up' mat' äpõr-aq
    'two (heads of) cattle'
      k'up' suŋ p'awaröq*
    'two (flat sheets of) cloth'
       

    Syntax

    The basic word order is subject-verb-object:
    k’ön ŋai äso nim-p’awar-ak’ p’awaröq
    1SG POSS mother PST-weave-DefO cloth
    ‘my mother weaved this cloth’
          Saial doesn't have subordination. English subordinate clauses are expressed as two verbs:
    k’ä-qär aišä sak’, k’a-tal-ak’-aq a-aq.
    1SG-go temple to, 1SG-speak-DefO-PL god-PL
    ‘I go to the temple in order to pray’ (lit. 'I go to the temple, I speak to the gods')

    History

     
    Saial used to be the dominant language in the highlands, spoken in all the cities surrounding Lake Ulüwerä. 628-630 AH the region was devastated by the Black Years' Plague, that killed approximately 1/5 of the population. Being weakened by the plague the Saial were conquered by the Ara people in early 630's, and were made part of the Aramacänten (Mountain kingdom).   There are still approximately 3 million Saial, making up about a third of the Kingdom's total population. The most are peasants in the southern and central provinces, but they also include many influential people especially in the Áçäwal temples.

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