Classical Arithide is an ancient Arophanic language of the Arithidic branch, originally spoken in Calagia, the coastal region in northeast Arophania immediately bordering the Issol A'i and surrounding the ancient capital of Isphea. It was the formal administrative language of the Lazeian Empire, and later adopted as the liturgical language of Acian Pheism. The language is highly inflecting, relying on morphological affixes instead of word order for its grammatical structure.
Today, despite being universally acknowledged as a dead language, with very few fluent and no native speakers, Classical Arithide is still significant in fields such as science, academia and law, providing many terms and neologistic roots, and as a subject (variously as "Classics", "Classical studies" and the like) it is still widely studied in schools across Ilethes, reflecting its enduring importance as the major international language of the historical world.
- Main article: History of Classical Arithide
Classical Arithide is the common appellation of the highly stylised Isphean dialect of the Arithide language in the classical age, which, by virtue of Isphea's situation as a political, cultural and economic centre, had been exposed to and influenced by various other dialects and languages of the early Lazeian Empire.
The language developed from Ancient Arithide, the oldest form of the language spoken by some of the earliest settlers in Calagia, records of which have been found inscribed on pottery and drawn on paintings. Whereas the ancient language was written with a mixed system (see Koeta inscriptions) of a syllabary interspersed with ideographical symbols for certain special words or phrases, by the establishment of the empire a well-developed alphabet had already been in use for a while, though the details of this advancement are sketchy at best.
By virtue of its position as the dialect of the capital, Classical Arithide was spoken in the courts of the Lazeian Empire, and, with this bolstering prestige, gained widespread currency through the Empire's trade and exploratory expeditions, cultural influence, and establishment of colonies, tributaries and vassal states across a large swathe of the western world. It hence served also as the language of learning, throughout antiquity to the Renaissance. With its rich vocabulary and many expressive possibilities, it was the dominant literary language even in areas outside the Empire, influencing such tongues as Dethric, and it remains an important source of neologistic roots today. Classical Arithide is also the primary liturgical language of the Pheide faith.
For more than a thousand years, Classical Arithide served as the lingua franca in trade, diplomacy, history, literature and many other fields besides. While most records found from that period—with its multiple golden ages of literature—are written almost uniformly in the elaborate literary form used in the courts, evidence suggests that centuries of common and daily use had eroded much of the classical tongue away by phonological changes and semantic shifts, resulting in a dichotomy between the written Classical Arithide, and Vulgar Arithide as actually spoken by subjects of the empire.
At the same time, given its long lifetime as the primary international auxiliary language in the western Ilethes, Classical Arithide also developed, in parallel, into Koine Arithide, an alternative, albeit less highly-regarded, lingua franca. While the koine came to be widely used in the spheres of trade, missionary work, and other assorted forms of low-level contact, high-level international discourse in diplomacy, conferences and the like continued to be held in the classical tongue, and treaties, laws, contracts and other legally, politically or symbolically significant documents were still written therein.
In the years leading up to and following the collapse of the Lazeian Empire in 1187 CIE, the use of literary Classical Arithide waned sharply, while the vulgar dialects gained in local use, and accelerated their divergence both from the classical tongue and from one another, as the gradual disappearance of the written standard removed a common benchmark, such that the language of the middle and upper classes slowly merged with that of the plebeian masses. The koine managed to sustain itself for considerably longer, due to its nature as an auxiliary language, which favoured linguistic stability. As other trading nations rose in prominence, however, and the Areth started to fade, use of the koine also dropped, in favour of Dethric, Kanandu and various other languages.
This ebb in the fortunes of Classical Arithide would last through the Dethrian rise to economic power, till the 16th century CIE, when the Renaissance created an impetus for its revival in the need to create numerous new terms and expressions that followed the rapid scientific advances and other social developments of the age. Classical roots were borrowed and reborrowed in the coining of new terms, classical terms were accorded new meanings as they were loaned directly into the vernaculars, creating doublets. Interest in classical studies also soared, as scientists looked to the past for noteworthy theories and inventions that had fallen out of the collective consciousness, composers tried to revive the classical musical flavour, the new aristocrats sought to recreate imperial grandeur in architecture and cityscape, and poets romanticised the old empire in their verses.
As the relative isolation of the Middle Ages turned into the increased international contact, the need for a politically neutral language for use in diplomacy and negotiation triggered the revival of Classical Arithide, albeit with modified pronunciation and a widely expanded vocabulary, known as Renaissance Arithide. This language enjoyed a brief spread to general use, but quickly fell out of favour as national vernaculars continued to absorb large numbers of classical coinages, and expediency as well as pragmatism prompted the eventual adoption of those languages, notable among them modern Arithide, even as the classical tongue grew in importance in academia as a widely-understood auxiliary language in which to publish papers.
Legacy & contemporary use
- See also Classical Arithide phrases in contemporary use for more information
- See also Classical Arithide roots for more information
Ever since the Renaissance up till modern times, Classical Arithide has reemerged as a significant language—no longer in people's homes or in the marketplace, but in academic, especially scientific, circles, where the language remains an important source of roots for neologisms, across many different tongues from Modern Arithide to Dethric to Finean and even, directly or indirectly, Carabaean.
- Main article: Classical Arithide grammar
The grammar of Classical Arithide, though in modern times based on a system not unlike the European one based on parts of speech, was traditionally centred on the dichotomy between a class of words which underwent declension (the Nominal class), and one which underwent conjugation (the Verbal class). This distinction had blurred by the height of the Equora dynasty, with the adoption of declension in certain cases for the Verbal class, for example, and is almost certainly not definitive in the Classical Arithide studied today, which is the literary language of the Equora.
- Main article: Classical Arithide declension
Owing to the language's inflectionary nature, Classical Arithide nouns, pronouns and certain of its adjectives must be declined (i.e. inflected) to provide grammatical meaning. A group of words that decline in the same way is known as a "declension class". There are 5 declension classes for nouns and the same for adjectives; pronouns are generally irregular. Each noun is declined for 11 cases, in the singular and plural.
The 11 cases of Classical Arithide are:
- Nominative, which marks the subject of a verb
- Topical, which marks the topic of a sentence
- Accusative, which marks the object of a verb
- Genitive, which marks possession by
- Dative, which marks motion towards, and by extension benefaction to etc.
- Locative, which marks location (with places) or indicates shift of grammatical focus (with objects and people)
- Ablative, which marks motion away or existence apart, and by extension is used with prepositions such as parō "about, regarding" or etel "by (agentive)"
- Instrumental, which marks instruments, and by extension accompaniment, using the preposition syn "with"
- Vocative, which marks direct address
- Connective, which is an open-ended stem form to which certain affixes or other nouns are appended, e.g. salumos "heaven" + innos "top" > saluminnum "in heaven" (lit. "on heaven"; innos is in the locative) and allas "city" + dolō "around" (from dolos "surroundings") > alladolō "around the city"
- Essive, which marks existence as
- Main article: Classical Arithide conjugation
Classical Arithide verbals are divided into five conjugation patterns based on whether their stems end in any of the six vowels or a consonant; a small group of consonant-stems that take the vowel-stem verb endings make up the last, mixed conjugation.
Each class is conjugated for four voices, three basic aspects, five derivative aspects, seven moods and three tenses:
- Voices: active, middle, passive, causative, potentive
- Aspects: imperfective, perfective, perfect, habitual/generic, inceptive, frequentative, protractive
- Moods: indicative, subjunctive, optative/desiderative, jussive, imperative, cohortative, negative
- The interrogative mood is marked by a following particle.
- Tenses: Only the future tense is explicitly marked, independently of aspect.
The predicative use of certain verbs as adjectives is expected, but the attributive use grew out of a grammatical device, now largely disused, of making verbs into modifiers by displacing them to the front of nouns rather than behind them, as is the usual SOV order.