Teinzenzā Raišen, Mei Teinzenzā
|Timeline and Universe:||Čenzai|
|Total speakers:||c. 3 million|
|Writing system:||Šokazan syllabary/Script of Gimerī|
|Genealogy:|| Valley Language Family|
|Morphosyntactic alignment:||Ergative (split-S)|
|Basic word order:||SVO|
Šokazan was the language spoken by the inhabitants of the country of Šokaza. It was a predominately fusional language, though it gained more isolating elements over time. Šokazan had an SVO word order and was a split-S language.
- 1 Name
- 2 Related Languages
- 3 Daughter Languages
- 4 History
- 5 Dialects
- 6 Phonology
- 7 Word Classes
- 8 Morphology
- 9 Syntax
- 10 Discourse
- 11 Writing System
- 12 See Also
"Šokazan" is of course an Anglicism, based on the final name of the land in which it was spoken, Šokaza. The language's real name was Teinzenzā Raišen, "Language of All", or merely Mei Teinzenzā, "The Language". The Šokazans used such general terms because they believed their tongue to be the archetype of all human languages. All others were either pale imitations or debasements of it. The Šokazans did give Peliumeryum considerably more respect, but always found their own tongue ultimately superior.
Šokazan was a member of the Valley Language Family, so called because its speakers tended to live in forested valleys among the mountains, or in the low-lying areas right next to the sea (which to the Šokazans was a wall against further habitation, and thus viewed as a mountain in this regard). The "barbarians" to the south and west of Šokaza, who still lived in the same places from which the Šokazans had migrated centuries before, of course spoke languages of this family also. They were, however, never written down before the disastrous Great Tumult, so knowledge of them is scant. The Teryat languages were also related to Šokazan, and some of these were studied and written down by Šokazan linguists, who of course used them as opportunities to show that other languages were mere imitations of their own.
The Great Tumult brought about the end of the Šokazan language and civilization. The few survivors on the mainland either assimilated into the tribes to the south and west of their former country (people whom only shortly before they had discounted as "barbarians") or managed to find other Šokazans and found tiny city-states. One of these city-states, Okuðai, managed to grow strong and reunify most of the others; its people spoke a language called Dīzzen, which they considered to be the purest form of Šokazan in the "Dim Days" (as they called them). The other city-states had their own languages, each a daughter of Šokazan, but they had few scribes among them, and wrote down little.
The other main daughter language was Langaran. Though its speakers had spoken very dialectal Šokazan while their mother country stood, they best preserved the language after the Great Tumult because Langara still had most of the realm's ancient records, which were lost to everyone else. Even so, Langaran itself underwent no fewer changes after the Tumult than its relatives on the mainland did. But among the noblest and those in the highest echelons of the priesthood, Šokazan was itself preserved and used in rituals and other formal occasions.
Šokazan became differentiated from the other languages of the Valley Family when the ancestors of the Šokazans migrated, probably due to a population increase that caused them to look for a place that could yield more food, from the inland forests to a rich land between the mountains and the sea. The original inhabitants were either destroyed, fled with those Šokazans not willing to stay in the new land (who continued migrating and were the progenitors of the Teryat), or were assimilated into the Šokazan people. The Šokazans devised their own writing system at this time, the Šokazan syllabary, and with it came the first attestations of Old Šokazan.
The next three and a half centuries were mostly uneventful for Šokazan, but with the invention of large ships, its speakers were able to reach new lands about 220 years after the founding of their nation. One of the places they found was Peliumeryum, a nation which was to have a large part in Šokaza's history, as well as that of its language. The Peliumeryum were far more advanced than the Šokazans, and profited from trading with them enough to be willing to teach them some of their knowledge. In the three hundred fifty second year from the beginning of Šokaza, the Honorable Gimerī, who had already learned all that Šokazan schools had to offer about his native language, traveled to Peliumeryum to learn theirs. When he returned nearly two decades later, he brought extensive writings and a proposal to the King with him: an offer to completely reform Šokaza's writing system. He, along with many other scribes employed by the aristocracy, argued that the current syllabary was inadequate for the needs of the language, especially since it had changed so much from the time when it was devised. With the things he had learned, Gimerī said, he could make a far better writing system for his people. The King agreed, and over the years the script of Gimerī replaced the old system. It continued to be utilized until Šokaza's end, and variants of it were used by the Langarans and Okuðaians later.
Contact with the Peliumeryum of course also led to a phenomenon which altered the Šokazan language greatly: loanwords. Some more conservative linguists (and common people) objected to the importing of Peliumeryum words, but it was an ineluctable process. By the time of Šokaza's fall some twenty percent or more of its words came directly from Peliumeryum. The new script of Gimerī, combined with the sudden influx of Peliumeryum words, was the landmark that divided Middle Šokazan from Old Šokazan.
Several more centuries went by, in which many sound and semantic changes that obscured Gimerī's finely detailed script took place. As tension mounted between the erstwhile allies of Šokaza and and Peliumeryum, loanwords came to be seen as despicable, and many were replaced by "authentic" Šokazan forms. When the colony of Čaikaza was founded, its people devised new words to describe natural features not found in their motherland, but these did not generally make their way into the language as a whole.
Soon after the eight hundredth year from Šokaza's founding, a massive natural disaster, graven in the memory of its survivors with the name Great Tumult, took place, in which the Šokazan civilization was utterly destroyed and few of its people even survived. This catastrophic downfall was considered to be the end of Classical Šokazan as such, but the language did not fully die out: it was survived by its direct descendants Dīzzen and Langaran, among others. And after the old records of the Šokazan kingdom were rediscovered and uncoded in Langara, Šokazan itself was revived for formal purposes.
The form of Šokazan described in this article is the Classical Šokazan of Tłončečī, the capital city, and its vicinity. The major cities of Šokaza each had their own dialect, but rural areas were less divergent. Records tell us of four major rural dialects, each covering a broad swath of the country: the Southwestern, Northeastern, Central, and Čaikazan forms of Šokazan. Southwestern and Northeastern can be seen as occupying two extremes on a continuum of differing linguistic features, while Central was at a point halfway between them (though it possessed unique aspects of its own). Čaikazan was the dialect that was spoken in Čaikaza, and was thus the direct ancestor to Langaran.
Šokazan had 42 phonemes: 14 vowels and 28 consonants. Some of these are not found in English or other Indo-European languages, though several are present in Native American languages.
As can be seen, Šokazan had a very symmetrical vowel system: three unrounded front vowels balanced by three rounded back vowels at the same heights; /ɒ/, however, was not as fully rounded as the other two back vowels. There were also long versions of each of the following vowels: /iː/, /uː/, /aː/, /ɒː/. For the lengthened forms of /e/ and /o/ see below.
Šokazan also had a few diphthongs: /eɪ̯/, /oʊ̯/, /aɪ̯/, /ɒʊ̯/. /eɪ̯/ and /oʊ̯/ were considered to be the long forms of /e/ and /o/, respectively; but since they were not pure monophthongs I have included them here, and transcribe them differently from the other long vowels. All diphthongs were falling diphthongs, with the stress on the first vowel.
/i/ and /u/ were pronounced as in English, while /e/ and /o/ had the same pronunciation as their counterparts in Spanish: they were pure vowels, not glides as in English—indeed, such pronunciation would greatly confuse a Šokazan, whose language did contain phonemic high-mid glides. /a/ was more fronted than its English counterpart, to allow for maximum contrast with /ɒ/. /ɒ/ is a rather unusual vowel for English speakers; it can be produced well enough by rounding the lips when saying "ahhh". The Šokazan vowel was produced further back in the mouth than our /a/ generally is, however.
The four lengthened monophthongs, /iː/, /uː/, /aː/, /ɒː/, were pronounced the same as their short versions but held for twice the amount of time as them. The long and short forms of these vowels were thus distinguished only be quantity, not quality. The lengthened versions of /e/ and /o/, however, were realized as in English paid and mowed, respectively—these were actually glides (and are found in English), and differed in both quality and quantity from the short vowels.
The diphthong /aɪ̯/ was pronounced like English eye, but /ɒʊ̯/ does not correspond directly to any sound in English. It is most similar to the diphthong in loud, but the first part is pronounced farther back in the mouth with the lips rounded.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k g|
|Fricative||f v||s z||ʃ ʒ||x|
Šokazan had many of the consonants found in English, but it lacked the velar nasal and possessed only one approximant, the lateral. The alveolar lateral fricative, /ɬ/, was also found in Šokazan. Most of Šokazan's consonants were pronounced very closely to how they are in English, but /b/, /d/, /g/ were fully voiced, and the voiceless stops had less aspiration at the beginnings of words than they did in English. They were released more strongly at the ends of words than in English, however.
/x/ was a voiceless velar fricative, similar to the sound in Scottish Loch. /ɬ/ was the voiceless lateral fricative, pronounced by positioning the tongue similar to when pronouncing the l sound and then forcing air through the mouth so as to make an audible hissing sound. /l/ was seen by the Šokazans as the voiced counterpart to /ɬ/, but it was actually an approximant, not a voiced lateral fricative. /l/ was thus pronounced much as in English, but was never dark in syllable codas. /r/ was generally a trill, as in Spanish <rr>. In some dialects it was a flap or even a retroflex approximant, however.
Šokazan contained several affricates; because there were so many in the language, they are given in a separate table below:
The pronunciation of affricates merely involves saying the stops and the fricatives described above, but care must be taken to pronounce them quickly, as one sound. In Šokazan, affricates could be, and were, distinguished from stop-fricative clusters by the speed of articulation. /dl/ is rather unusual in that it appears not to have been released into a fricative, but rather an approximant; but it was often realized as [dɮ]. /ɮ/, the voiced lateral fricative, has not been found to contrast with /dɮ/ in any language, and Šokazan does in fact preserve this distinction, since it has /l/ instead of /ɮ/. I write <dl> in order to connect the affricate with /d/ and /l/, but [ɮ] was the typical realization of the fricative release.
The following table shows the Romanization scheme I have used for Šokazan.
|Romanization of Šokazan Phonemes|
|A a||a||L l||l||Ai ai||aɪ̯|
|Ā ā||aː||M m||m||Åu åu||ɒʊ̯|
|Å å||ɒ||N n||n||Dl dl||dl|
|Ä ä||ɒː||O o||o||Dz dz||dz|
|B b||b||P p||p||Ei ei||eɪ̯|
|Č č||tʃ||R r||r||Ks ks||ks|
|D d||d||S s||s||Kx kx||kx|
|E e||e||Š š||ʃ||Ou ou||oʊ̯|
|F f||f||T t||t||Pf pf||pf|
|G g||g||U u||u||Ps ps||ps|
|I i||i||Ū ū||uː||Tł tł||tɬ|
|Ī ī||iː||V v||v||Ts ts||ts|
|J j||dʒ||X x||x|
|K k||k||Z z||z|
|Ł ł||ɬ||Ž ž||ʒ|