Lineage and Language

I have closely guarded the Arashálinu Enáthaga for many years; already I have shown more of it in the last two posts than ever before. Part of the reason for this is its status in a yet-unfinished state, even though there is a lot of material that’s pretty final as far as matters of history go.

nounsThe bigger part of the issue is the language. As the vanishingly few regular readers of this blog and older Ytherra websites may know, I have developed the Draványa language to a fairly high degree of detail. As the years have gone by, however, I’ve taken formal classes in linguistics and Latin and learned tiny smattering of German and Spanish on my own, so I have learned quite a lot about languages and conlangs. Draványa has therefore evolves considerably since the very early days when I had a couple of pages of notes about name endings and such; now it has a large array of information on noun cases and declensions, verb inflections due to tense, mood and voice, a lexicon of over a thousand words and an abundance of notes on particles, cardinal and ordinal numbers, clause sructure, etymology and so on. It’s rather short of being a full formal grammar (not least for not being written up in that way,) but it’s vastly more than I had 15-20 years ago when I first set down the names and titles of the Arashálinu Enáthaga.

This means that the dynastic history of Arál Draván, rife with usage of Draványa, is linguistically very badly outdated and in need of revision. It’s this that’s kept me from posting it for so long. At the same time, the Arashálinu Enáthaga is in many ways the keystone of Ytherra’s history, and not being able to use it as a reference has held me back. Its gaps are also the gaps in that history, and with thirty-nine centuries to cover there are all too many of those.

The original Ytherra website, now only a memory but still preserved in my archives, focused tightly on Arál Draván. In recent years I’ve done more development on the Selureans, Mánthezar, the cities of the Haddanai and various other topics for precisely the reasons given above. Yet Arál Draván remains central to my long-term plans for Ytherra, so it’s important that it be brought back into the fold and its histories righted.

In recent weeks I’ve given my inflection tables a thorough going-over and the rest of the grammar notes a review, and begun a new version of the lexicon from scratch, painstakingly checking each word of the old lexicon before moving it to the new one, often with changes and corrections. I’m using the Arashálinu Enáthaga as my roadmap for this, moving slowly through the list of rulers and revising as I go, and sometimes adding new bits, especially in the Editor’s Notes.

At the moment the first thirteen rulers, into the Third (Morúku) Dynasty, are fully revised. In many cases regnal titles have changed slighly or completely, and other bits of Draványa have been fixed up or added as well. I plan to post these regularly as I keep working at it, along with additional commentary.

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.