Evonian language

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Evonian (Ithoniaen) is a constructed language originating in Glastieven mythology, allegedly spoken by the Evon, and an official language of Glastieve. Evonian is spoken as a second language by a small minority of Glastieven people, although its use is encouraged by the government and it is finding use in an increasing number of scenarios. Glastieven enjoys constitutional status as one of the two national and official languages of Glastieve and is an officially recognised minority language in Nedland, where it is the traditional language of the province of Evonia. The Department for National Identity, Insignia and Language is responsible for the promotion of the language throughout Glastieve.

Name

In the official written standard, the name of the language is Ithoniaen. Before the Glastieven spelling reforms of July 2017, this form was spelt Eethoneean, which was a transliteration of the now-unofficial Evonian alphabet. The form of the language used after the July 2017 spelling reforms is sometimes referred to as Glastieven Evonian to distinguish it from the traditional form of the language that used the Evonian alphabet and a less polished Latin orthography. However, there is a direct character-to-character relationship between the two forms of the language, making the distinction unimportant linguistically, and the term has not achieved much usage. Outside Glastieve, the language is sometimes referred to as Glastieven.

History

Mythological history

See also: Evonian at Glastieven Mythology Wiki

When the Evon were first declared an independent species before the Evonian Cycle, they supposedly spoke a mixture of different languages, and Evonian first emerged as an academic lingua franca caused by the desire of the academic Evon to both communicate between each other with a single language or creole, and also to not have to compromise on formality and precision. The resulting language, which was a combination of a constructed language and a codification of the existing dialects spoken by the Evon where languages had merged, was adopted as the official language of the species some time before the Evonian Cycle.

During the Evonian Cycle, Evonian was a universally accepted L1 for the species, and an increasingly important language globally as the Evon increased in political power also. The Evon State, strangely, appeared to use some sort of Celtic language (which bears more resemblance to present-day Cornish than to the obviously Gaelic languages featured in the later BHH Cycle, such as Breatnais or Tawnylea) as the language of formal or ceremonial affairs. For example, Irais gives the majority of her speeches in Evonian but performed the official opening of the nation in an obviously Celtic language. When Mark addresses the Cabinet to inform them of their dismissal, he first shouts at them in Evonian, and then mockingly repeats what he said in what appears to be the same Celtic language.

In the BHH Cycle, Evonian appears to be the second-most spoken language in Oburron and Jenner, after Anglic. All four of the main characters can speak Evonian to an extent: the two Evon, Mark and . , fluently; Raven less fluently but still to the extent where he can hold a conversation in the language; and Ro to the point of being able to hold a basic conversation. This is the only cycle where Evonian is written using a mixture of traditional Evonian characters and sometimes using 'Anglic' (Latin) characters. It is hinted that a second Evonian orthography exists in Helltuna only, called 'Evonách', but it is never written our or properly described. After the end of the BHH Cycle, when the people of Oburron and Jenner colonise our Universe, Evonian allegedly spread to Glastieve when the Evon founded the same country hundreds of years before the modern-day sovereign state.

Usage in Glastieve

The first Glastieven reference grammar was published in January 2017. The first attempt to reconstruct Evonian from the fragments of text in the mythological stories, which had begun in 2014, had resulted in a messy, fragmented language (also called Skovajan) with inconsistent grammatical rules and a poor orthography. From August 2016, there was an attempt to reconstruct a more rational version of Evonian, which was based on two mythological stories that together provided a better grammar and even some details of phonotactics based on an Evonian conversation between two characters. This version of Evonian was first used in writing in early September 2016, where a recovered text shows a language using the same alphabet and grammar; almost the same pronunciation and the same phonotactics; and entirely unrecognisable vocabulary. The January 2017 version has a vocabulary which is, where possible, borrowed from a wide range of mythological texts from the Evonian and BHH Cycles, and fills in the remainder using English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic words modified to fit phonotactical rules and to be consistent with the general sound of the language.

New mythological texts created from that point onward relied on the reference grammar to create Evonian conversations that were consistent to one another. The Evonian in several old texts was amended to include a transliteration of the new form of Evonian, which was considered a direct adaption of the mythological language and therefore appropriate for usage in official texts.

With the founding of the Republic of Glastieve in March 2017, Evonian became an official language of the country. Although constitutionally it had the same status as English, the government practically did not prioritise the promotion of Evonian. Within the Army, foot and arms drill commands were given in Evonian, and an effort to translate the law into Evonian was started, although it lagged (and continues to lag) significantly behind the rate of the creation of new laws. In July 2017, spelling reforms abolished the Evonian alphabet and created a new direct transliteration from it into a new, more usable and good-looking Latin orthography based on English, Irish and IPA letter pronunciations, and at the same time the private-sector Isotoniae Corporation decided to work harder to provide services in Evonian, publicly requesting that the new Minister for National Identity, Insignia and Language Alfie Knowles make more of an effort to lead governmental promotion of the language.

Current status

The Government describes Evonian as the "national language", but English is dominant language by a significant margin. Until at least July 2017, Evonian did not exist in Glastieve on any practical level beyond some Army commands, however an attempt to promote the language from that point forwards has been achieving some success so far. Governmental road signs are usually bilingual. Most public notices and print media are in English only, although the Isotoniae Corporation offer some services in Evonian). While the state is officially bilingual, citizens can often struggle to access state services in Evonian and most government publications are not available in both languages, even though citizens have the right to deal with the state in Evonian. For example, the government are supposed to translate Acts into Evonian, although only half of one was translated by July 2017, when there were ten Acts in total. In the Army, foot and arms drill commands are given in a mixture of the English and Evonian languages.

At least half of Glastieven citizens have expressed some interest in learning basic phrases in the language, although a pilot language teaching programme in April 2017 failed to generate enough interest to sustain itself.

Phonology

Main article: Evonian phonology

In pronunciation, Evonian most closely resembles English and Irish, however, there are many sounds in Evonian that are not in either language. A notable feature in the Evonian of English speakers is a tendency to pronounce 'correctly' consonants not found in English, but to Anglicise constructions that are also common in the English language. In some cases this is allowed by the grammar of the language: for example, the Evonian "er" should theoretically be pronounced as two entirely separate sounds, with or without a glottal stop between them to make pronunciation easier, however, in reality, the prescribed pronunciation matches the English "er". In other cases, however, such as the similar slurring of "aer" to match the English "ar" (which produces ambiguity by making aer and ar sound similar or even the same), this is frowned upon as poor pronunciation.

Glastieven Evonian has twenty-four letters - fourteen consonants and ten vowels. Mythological Evonian, which is an older form of the language, has two different letters making the same sound (th) so as to complete a consonant grid with one letter in each space.

Consonant phonemes
Dental Labiodental Alveolar
Plosive t pf d
Fricative th f z
Affricate tsh vf dz
Approximant th vw r
Nasal nn m n

With the exception of the suffix -tshaerae, an r is written as an l before an ae

Vowel phonemes
Front or Near-front Central Back
rounded unrounded rounded unrounded rounded unrounded
Close or Near-close i í u
Mid e ú
Open ae o a

The diphthong oʊ is also represented, as the digraph ou, and the diphthong eɪ is represented, as the digraph ei.

Syntax and morphology

Main article: Evonian grammar

Evonian grammar is most closely related to the Indo-European languages, although it has some features that clearly demark it as not descended from any other extant language, such as the lack of adjectives (with the exception of some adjectival pronouns), instead using just verbs. There are some aspects of Evonian grammar that are shared with the Celtic languages, such as the rare VSO word order, which is appropriate when the mythological context of the language is taken into account, but it is distinguished notably from those languages by its single word for "to be" and a lack of initial consonant mutations.

Syntax

Main article: Evonian syntax

Evonian is a VSO (verb–subject–object) language and has no adjectives but a range of determiners, including English prepositions, that behave like adjectives. The standard Evonian word order is: interrogative pronoun; negative preverbal particle (nir); verb (which includes participles); subject; direct object; indirect object; location descriptor (where not an adjectival verb); manner descriptor (w.n.a.v.); and time descriptor (w.n.a.v.). The only obligatory parts of a sentence are the subject and the verb.

Morphology

Evonian morphology is simple but often accumulative, with multiple prefixes and especially suffixes attached to a single word to give meaning. In Evonian grammar, morphology is divided into two categories, derivational morphology and conjugational morphology.

Evonian derivational morphology is simple: words have 'base forms', which are nearly always verbs or more rarely nouns, which end in either a noun or -dz (verbs more specifically always end in either -údz or -eidz), which are modified using nine suffixes and thirty-six prefixes. Nouns pluralise using -r. They do not decline. In formal grammar, adjectives do not have suffixes to show comparatives or superlatives as they do not exist as a word class separate from verbs, instead using the determiners nios and nírniounae (more and less) to describe them. However, there is an increasing trend amoungst speakers, even in formal Evonian, to use the suffixes -vwaeríaenae and -aeríaenae to modify words to mean "less x" and "more x" respectively, which is considered by purists to be an Anglicisation.

Evonian conjugation only shows person and tense. The five persons - ou (I), dzei (you), etae (he/she/it/one), tshi (they), zaevwí (we) - each have separate suffixes for the five tenses - present, past, conceptual, future and conditional. The present, past, future and conditional tenses behave in the same way as their English simple counterparts, with the conditional tense additionally used when a sentence as a whole refers to a particular past time, but the verb refers to a time in the future relative to that past time. The conceptual tense, which is rarely used in real life but is present in mythological texts, links together two concepts via a verb without a commitment to time or place.

Orthography

Main article: Evonian orthography

Modern Evonian uses a latinisation of traditional word spellings developed pragmatically by the Glastieven government to replace the outdated transliteration system used when it was impractical to type the traditional character set used in myhtological contexts, which too was abolished by the reforms. The current Evonian alphabet uses the latin characters p, f, v, w, m, t, h, s, n, d, z, r, l, a, e, o, u and i. Two letters, u and i, also have accented equivilents, ú and í, bringing the total count up to twenty-two.

Before the July 2017 reforms, the official Evonian alphabet was untypable on a keyboard. Although it supposedly dates from the mythological Evonian Cycle, the earliest written record of the alphabet is from August 2016, when an early notebook containing details on the original attempt to rationalise Evonian beyond the original Skoavajan described the same set of characters as was used in Glastieve officially until June 2017. There existed a latinisation of the alphabet, but it looked bad and was chiefly intended as a tool for translators who would ultimately rewrite the language in the correct characters, not for actual use. The original alphabet remains the understood alphabet of Mythological Evonian, and is still used in some ceremonial contexts, although usually with a translation.

See also