Inner Coastal and Cherani Trade Speech

Jouevyaix Thuvaisshet dli Jouevyaix Cherani

Return to Cherani Home Page
Copyright © 2003 Elyse M. Grasso

Historical Development

Inner Coastal Trade Speech

Return to top

It was historically very common for Shayanans to be bilingual, speaking a 'home-language' locally to household members and neighbors, and using a 'market-language' for less localized interactions. Sometimes the home-language and market-language closely related, merely dialectal variations. This was less likely to be the case when dealinig in markets along major trade routes.

Old Inner Coastal Trade Speech was derived from a market-language that developed along the coasts of the Inner Ocean. It was an amalgam of several existing market-languages, including Early Hasrian from the East Continent, East Straits Coastal from the Polar Continent, and Shallows Narrowan. By the time of the RopeMiller, it had evolved into a flexible creole that was spoken natively (as a home-language) in some of the larger port cities along the coasts of all three continents, as well as in the Shallows and along some of the major rivers. Many other people in adjoining regions learned it as their 'market-language'.

Classic Inner Coastal Trade Speech was catalyzed and stabilized by two great literary collections, in much the way that Shakespeare and the King James Bible provided exemplars for English.

In the case of "The Account of the RopeMiller's Tale", the framing story -- the tale of the journey proper -- was an original work in Coastal Trade Speech, while many of the inclusions and digressions were translations of material from various local languages and other market-languages. In some cases the "Account" version is the only remaining record of particular local traditions, the vernacular versions having been lost over the years. There are also a few local languages that now exist only as phrases that are quoted in the "Account" directly without being translated. The fullest versions of the "Account of the Tale", including all of the additional material, are several times the length of the King James Bible.

The 'seed' texts of the "Canticles of Light" -- the ones attributed to the Seer directly-- were translated to Trade Speech from the original North Mountain dialect. This occurred about a generation after the compilation of the "Account of the Tale", and about 600 miles north and west father north. However, there is textual evidence that the translator of the seed texts was acquainted with the Account and deliberately emulated some of its literary constructions.

The authors of the 'fruit' and 'leaf' texts of the Canticles were usually native or secondary speakers of Coastal Trade Speech, and those sections of the Canticles were largely composed directly in Trade Speech rather than being translations. The composers were also acquainted with the Account, which had become widely popular very quickly. However, some common elements, such as the 'stone soup' story seem to have arrived into the two collections from independent sources. Later writers generally tried to emulate the style of the earlier portions.

As with the Account, the most comprehensive versions of the Canticles are very large. The list of seed texts is fairly standardized, but the fruit and leaf text collections show regional, local, and even personal variations, so the size of the Canticles is actually even more variable than the size of the Account.

By the time the Imperials arrived, the language was very widely known because of the many uses of TradeSpeech (business, religion, and literary/scholarly) and the mobility of the Shayanans themselves. In the continental interiors, Outer Coasts, and Oceanic regions, Trade Speech remained largely a scholarly and liturgical language, but even remote settlements where it was neither the home-language nor the regional market-language were likely to contain a few people who knew some Trade Speech, and most educated people in the larger cities an all three continents were acquainted with it.

Translations from the Account into local languages were rare, since Trade Speech was considered easy to learn, while translations from the Canticles were generally aimed at young children who hadn't learned Trade Speech yet. Word roots had been borrowed-in throughout the range, allowing enormous precision and flexibility, but the grammatical structures and rhythms of the language would have remained familiar to the early compilers of the Account and the Canticles. Phonetic drift had been largely constrained to changes that did not disrupt the poetry of the Account and Canticles.

Imperial-based Pidgins and Creoles

Return to top

The Imperials made no organized effort to teach their language to the inhabitants of the occupied territories after the invasion -- officially they did not admit that Shayanans were people rather than livestock -- so a number of different creoles developed as various Shayanan languages (usually market-languages rather than home-languages) interacted with the Imperial language. The Shayanan concensus was that Imperial was flat, flavorless, imprecise, boring and unpronouncable.

The complaints about flatness and lack of flavor were literal: Shayanan languages reflect their arboreal and aquatic heritage by allowing three dimensional orientation, while Imperial -- a language of plains dwellers -- barely acknowledges the existence of 'up'. Similarly, the Imperial vocabulary lacks terms to express the Shayanan chemical sensorium. The complaints about imprecision were partly due to grammatical differences -- Imperial is an isolating language that works rather like Chinese, while the Shayanan languages in question tended to be highly analytic -- and partly due to a basic mismatch in space/time/reality mapping structures.

The complaints about unpronouncability were chiefly due to the the large number of labial stops used in Imperial. Shayanan organs of speech articulation coincide with their primary venom production mechanism (see below) in such a way that it is difficult for a stressed Shayanan to form labial stops. Production of labial stops tends to be seen as an indication of either profound confidence or abject submission. (Nitodthi claims that the problem is partly psychosomatic: the first time he tried to speak Imperial to an Imperial he was young enough that he had never heard that Shayanans could not pronounce it properly, so he just did it. Other people have other interpretations of the fact that he speaks nearly flawless Imperial.)

In the Inner Coastal speaking cities and adjacent areas, the creole that developed was between Imperial and Modern Trade Speech, and by the end of the occupation it was already beginning to drift toward Trade Speech grammatical forms wrapped around a mixture of native and Imperial roots.

Cherani Trade Speech

Return to top

The builders and settlers in Cherani Station came from all over Shayana, beginning shortly after the end of the Occupation. There were no languages that all of them were acquainted with, but all of the people from the Occupied Territories were acquainted with Imperial and its local derivatives, and most of the people from the UnOccupied territories had at least some knowledge of pre-Invasion literary and scientific Coastal Trade Speech. Imperial-Coastal Trade Speech -- with additional borrowings from the other home-languages of the station's inhabitants and from the other species and cultures that visit there -- became the generally used mode of communication.

Return to top

Trade Speech Sounds

Trade Speech Grammar

Trade Speech Idioms

Return to top