- Main article: Arithide language
Modern Arithide (Arithide Arithīde Oreris [arɯ'θi:de 'orəris]) refers to the varieties of the Arithide language spoken in the modern era. Arithide is spoken as a first language by over 580 million people in Arithia and another 170 million across 14 other states in Marcasia where the language has official status, and of these, more than 600 million are native, ethnic Areth speakers. A further estimated 350 million speak it as a second or third language, mainly centred in and around Dethria and southern Marcasia where the sociocultural influence of the Lazeian Empire is still felt, bringing the total number of speakers of Arithide to approximately 1.1 billion people today across the world.
The standard and official language of Arithia is Standard Modern Arithide, essentially the speech of modern Lazea, the capital, but which incorporates and preserves various regional elements, as well as reviving certain classicisms. The Arithide spoken outside Arithia is generally the standard tongue, except in the southern Marcasian states, where holdover local dialects from the imperial era are strongly rooted. In Arithia itself, however, there exists a significant diglossia, particularly in the historic cities of northeastern Cadaeria, between the written language, which is universally the standard form, and the spoken one, which is usually the local dialect. Further west and south, however, especially in secondary, regional cities, another phenomenon is prominent: the erosion of the local dialect in favour of the more prestigious standard.
As the standard tongue came into being de facto, by virtue of being the langauge of the capital of the Arithian republic, and not through the efforts of any standardisation body, there is no official regulatory body charged with standardising usage, vocabulary, grammar and orthography. Similarly to English, however, the language regulates itself through the standardising effects of the print and broadcast media, particularly through the authority of four major dictionaries, the Renquau, Anvers, Caema and Līs. The first three are compiled and published by eponymous universities, while the last is published by the Lazean broadsheet Līs Ōrēs (hence the common appellation).
The phonology of Modern Arithide is notable for its large numbers of both consonants and vowels, although its phonemic repertoire is smaller due to the high degree of allophony.
The table below represents the sounds present in the standard Modern Arithide, secondarily distinguishing between the 22 phonemic consonants, which are in black, and the 9 non-phonemic (purely allophonic) consonants, which are greyed out. The distinction between the aspirated and unaspirated voiceless plosives (i.e. pʰ, tʰ, kʰ vs. p, t, k), although not phonemically distinguished—the former set appears before front vowels, and the latter before others—is notable for its recreation of the Ancient Arithide aspirate-unaspirate distinction.
Regressive assimilation of frication and phonation
Whereas Modern Arithide has 11 vowel letters, the short a e i o u y and the long ā ē ī ō ū, the true number of its phonemic vowels is twenty, plus 4 vowels occurring only in unstressed position, and 12 diphthongs.
|Palatal terminus||Palatal onset||Labial terminus||Labial onset|
|ei, ej||je, jɛ||eu||we|
|ɔi||jo, jɔ||ou, ow, əʉ|
Vowel gradation and reductionism
The official, and most ubiquitous, romanisation of Arithide is based strictly on the rule of a 1:1 correspondence in orthography between the Roman and Lazeic alphabets, such that any transcript is fully reversible; besides ignoring sound-changes that have occurred since the Renaissance, this also leads occasionally to pronunciations strange to the Earthling ear. Alternative romanisations are mainly phonetically-based, and involve less mind-work in pronunciation.
|b||[b]||v||[v, f]||m||[m, ɱ]|
|d||[d, ð]||dh||[ð, θ]||n||[n, ŋ]|
|ti, ch1||[ʧ]||sj, sh1||[ʃ]|
|g3||[g, j, w]||gn, ng4||[ŋ]|
|r5||[r, ʁ, s, :]|
Diphthongal sequences of [ti], [tj] + vowel gave rise to the new phoneme /ʧ/, which received its own letter in the Renaissance period; similarly, from [si], [sj] + vowel developed /ʃ/, which also gained its own letter at the same time. The new letters are used to indicate the /ʧ/ and /ʃ/ sounds where not historically derived, such as in loanwords; or where the conditioning vowel has been lost, especially at the ends of words. Additionally, [ʃ] deriving from a word- or syllable-finally devoiced /ʒ/ is written with <sh> instead of <gi>.
The sound /ʤ/ only occurs in syllable-initial position due to historical reasons: it arose from the diphthongal sequence [di], [dj] + vowel. When <di> occurs without a subsequent vowel the value of the digraph is the consonant+vowel combination [di].
The post-vocalic [g]-lenition that began in the Renaissance with [g] > [ɣ] proceeded further in the modern era to give [j] after [a], [e], [i] (as well as modifying the vowel qualities) and [w] after [o]. Etymological orthographic rules dictate the preservation of <g> in such cases.
From the [gn] and [ng] sequences developed the /ŋ/ phoneme, in the former case by nasalising the [g], and in the latter by velarising the [n] and losing the [g]. Whereas historical [ng] has since received its own letter and is written with it unless the [g] was preserved by a succeeding vowel (in which case the orthographical sequence <ng> is retained), historical [gn] has been preserved in spelling due to the strong retentiveness of the latter [n] element, even where the sequence has coalesced to a simple [ŋ].
In combination with preceding vowels, [r] has been lost, instead giving rise to a host of (mostly) rounded long vowels; the new sounds have retained the traditional orthography using <r>. Analogically, a similar scenario has occurred with [l], albeit without loss of the [l] sound, resulting merely in altered vowel qualities.
The devocalisation of pre-vocalic [i] to [j] and [u] to [w] that occurred during the mediaeval period necessitated two new letters due to syllabification ambiguity and stress shifts.
Monographs represent monophthongs; each letter may be read in up to four different ways depending on its surrounding letters and its level of stress. In the table below, the variants are listed in order of occurrence, then precedence. The last value of each always represents the unstressed realisation of the vowel concerned.
|a||[a, ɔ, ə]||ā||[a:, a]|
|e||[e, ɛ, ə]||ē||[e:~jɛ, e]|
|i||[i, ɪ, ɯ]||ī||[i:, ɪ]|
|o||[o, ɔ, œ, ə]||ō||[o:, œ:, o]|
|u||[u, ʉ, ɯ]||ū||[y:, ʏ]|
Prevocalically, <y> has devocalised to [j] uniformly. This proceeded through an intermediate stage where it was pronounced [ɥ]. Postvocalically, it coalesced with its precedent to diphthongise, for which see the following table
Digraphs generally indicate diphthongs. Across the board, however, spelling fossilisation has occurred, leading to irregular sound-letter correspondences even in the native script, such as <oi>:[ei]. [ja] <ja> is the only sound not to have changed at all; besides it, regularly pronounced digraphs, i.e. <eu>, <jo>, <ju>, <ua>, <we> and non-post-consonantal <je> are the result of recent spelling reforms, as is the fact that w-headed digraphs occur only at the beginnings of words, while the post-consonantal allographic equivalent is u-headed.
|ai||[e:]||ei||[i:]||je||[je, e:]4||oe||[oi]||ue, we||[we]||ey||[ei]|
<ao> came to be uniformly spelt with the homophonic <ay> [au] by the early Modern period
In certain proper names, e.g. of cities, the original diphthong was split into two syllables to preserve the distinct [ea] ending
[eo] <eo>merged with [jo] and hence <jo>
In combination with [s], the result is [ʃe:], an amalgam of the s-palatalisation and the siphthong simplification
Where <ua> occurs, it is the result of a spelling reform that replaced all <oa> [ua] with
[ui] <ui> became [y] and never again arose subsequently
[uy] <uy> merged with [y:] <ū>