Historical Development of Draványa

The following is an excerpt from the in-development article on the Draványa language. It should be regarded as a draft pending revision and possible expansion. It is from the introductory section; the next segment, on Phonetics, is mostly done in draft but what remains of it (dealing with phonological rules,) will take considerable work to finish, since it will require me to break down the several hundred extant Draványa words and put them back together, codifying the underlying patterns as I go. But I expect to produce either a pronunciation guide or the draft of the rest of the section before that.

Dravanya is a member of the Laghá language family, a descendant of the speech of the nomadic peoples who came from the northwest to settle in the lands now called Arál Draván (in its historical sense) around six centuries before the founding of Dravá. As this people spread throughout this area, four primary Laghá language groups evolved: Dherúya (spoken in the Dhéruhir,) Zherúya (spoken between the Zemún and Álnetha rivers,) Urúthu (spoken in the lands drained by the mighty river Ján,) and Teráya (spoken in the coastal lands south of the Shoulders of Belrévesh, which were settled later than the previous regions.) With the rise of Dravá as the dominant power in the region, its dialect of the Dherúya branch came to assimilate the Zherúya and Urúthu types over the first millennium of the Imperial period, and later, as Arál Draván expanded to the south by both military and socio-economic force, the Teráya branch as well. The dialects of this latter region retain some unique features to this day because of the later accretion of those peoples into the Imperium, but it should not be thought that these linguistic shifts point in a single direction; later forms of Draványa contain fetaures clearly borrowed even from Zherúya and Urúthu dialects but not found in the dialect of Dherúya that began to be known as Draványa in the last century BF.

The people indigenous to the region now called Arál Draván were the Vádzh. Nothing is known for certain of them save the alien form of their name, but it is thought that they were a settled people of widely scattered small communities and practicing primitive methods of agriculture at the time of the Laghá migrations. Their impact on the migratory Laghá must have been very significant, for within a few ceturies of the migrations small cities emerged and writing and more advanced agricultural and metallurgical techniques developed. So while the synthesis must have been a fruitful one, culturally the narrative is one-sided; scraps of even the ancient Laghá language are extant from around the fourth and fifth ceturies BF, when the Vádzh tongues also must have yet been widely spoken in the region, yet nothing is recorded of them. Nevertheless, many words thought to be of Vádzh origin were borrowed into Laghá, and their decendants can be found in the Draványa of today.

In the last two centuries BF the Laghá tongues began to be called for the now-dominant polities in the region, and thus the dialect of Dherúya spoken in Dravá came to be called Draványa, called in this period Archaic Draványa, or the hamúlka vurésh, the “Founder’s Speech.” It is the oldest form of the language in which records of any substance remain, though glimpses of the earlier language can be seen in hymns retaining still more ancient forms but recorded in writing in this and later periods.

Rather arbitrarily, this period is considered to endure until around the time of the First Interregnum in the 10th cenury IR. After that the language, now dominant throughout the region, passed into a phase now called terrútor kefúthu, the “tongue of ages past,” or Old Imperial. Despite undergoing many linguistic changes during this and other periods, the language continues to evolve until a period between 32nd and 36th centuries IR, now known as the Age of the Grammarians to some modern scholars of that bent. It was during this time that Draványa (and other languages to an extent not as well-remembered,) began to analyze the structure of the language and develop formal rules for it. Those prescriptions have remained largely static ever since, and are by and large reflected in the description of Draványa presented here.

Nevertheless, all language continue to change over time regardless of the wishes of grammarians, so while the most literate and educated classes learn a formal speech based on the prescriptive grammars developed during this period, the informal speech has devloped independently of such strictures, such that today there exist two variant dialects, a formal and an informal, which are different enough to be only mutually intelligible to a certain extent. The formal dialect has changed much more slowly over the following centuries, and documents of that antiquity (1600 years) remain intelligible to the learned today.


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