As peculiar as it sounds, the term Interior Woods (Mestian: Udžgóndulū) covers several very closely affiliated varieties of language spoken by Interior Woods gigants, a group of large (>10m) stone constructs, humanoid in shape and behaviour, that were forged by the Beautiful Ones. The languages of the gigants closely resemble in structure typical human languages, suggesting that they may have picked speech up from man. They are, for the most part, illiterate, though some gigants have been known to have mastered human writing. They show no signs of divine speech or writing, indicating that they might have been weapons of war that have since been abandoned.
There are approximately 370 gigants in the Interior Woods that have been catalogued by Imperial commission as speakers of this set of gigantic dialects. They are divided into seven closely-knit gigant clans, each possessing an identifiable clan dialect, though mutual intelligibility has been observed to be extremely high. The Interior Woods dialect cluster shows fairly high mutual comprehensibility with Outer Riverwoods and Outer Woods gigant languages, though there seems to be poor intelligibility with Salt Mountain gigants.
Outside from a few loans, there seems to be little linguistic common ground with the neighbouring Highlands and Bay Valley gigants. Some Lowlands gigants (both Southern and Northern) have also been reported to speak Interior Woods with Riverwoods and Outer Woods gigants, though it is unknown where they might have learned it, as they natively speak an early Westerlander language resembling Burri which they must have acquired in the very recent past.
There are around 4130 gigants alive and kept track of in Imperial grounds and in the immediate neighbourhood. Some gigants are known to live further to the north and south, but these have not been included in Imperial Gigant Schedules.
Owing to their large size, the gigants are generally neither very motile nor mobile, and they tend to sit in open, insulated areas. They seem to draw their energy from sunlight, as they are most lively in summer, and are generally immobile at night. The gigants are generally similar from a layman's point of view, though they do possess certain anatomical differences that let them easily be differentiated by an expert. They appear to come in both male and female shapes, though how this is relevant is as-of-yet unknown: this pseudo-sexual dimorphism is only aesthetic in nature, and the gigants are very poorly aware of the significance of these differences.
Interior Woods gigants speak a language that resembles human speech in much, but little by way of phonetics. Owing to the physiology and sheer size of the gigants, as well as their behavioural patterns, Interior Woods has a phonetic structure that is, at first glance, fairly dissimilar from human language; they speak in frequencies very near the bottom of the human auditory spectrum, and make use of unusual acoustic phenomena that are better suited for gigant mouths. In addition to this, it is readily observable that most gigants speak extremely slowly relative to men, with the exception of Lowlands gigants who speak at only a slightly slower pace, similar in phonation and frequency to regular Westerlander speakers.
As the structure and mobility of the gigant oral apparatus is fairly similar to its human counterpart, it is easy to analyse gigant phonetic segments in a human fashion. Likewise, linguistic analysis readily indicates presence of a phonemic layer of abstraction that is identical in form with human phonemes. Due to the constraints of gigant anatomy, the phonology of Interior Woods dialects is rich in continuants but very poor in occlusives.
Interior Woods gigants distinguish seven general place of articulation classes, clustering the majority of their consonants in the coronal and front dorsal locations. They are rich in phonation differences, distinguishing what can be recognised as analogously breathy, modal, stiff and voiceless phonation modes. In addition to this, the somewhat higher viscosity of gigant oral fluids (as they seem to use mineral oils rather than saliva) and the unique peculiarities of their mechanical oral apparatus enables them to produce whistling-like sounds by exhaling air in certain ways. These sounds, approximatable by humans by use of whistling fricatives, is characteristic of Interior Woods dialects, though the two tribes closest to the Bay Valley lack these, and merge them into regular, tenuis (here taken to mean non-whistling) fricatives.
Phonemically, Interior Woods gigants seem to distinguish only binary voicing on individual continuants. Phonation features are thus suprasegmental and are generally features of syllables or, rarely, whole words. Voiced segments cannot occur in voiceless environments, and take on phonation detail from the environments they are in. Otherwise, voiceless segments can be inserted into modal, breathy and stiff-voiced phonation modes. Segments unmarked for voicing take on the voicing of their environment invariably and have no distributional restrictions in relation to phonation.
The nareal fricatives are produced with incomplete oral closure, colouring the entire syllable they're in with nasalisation.
|Lam. Alveol.||Apic. Alveol.|
As with most gigant languages, Interior Woods does a poor job of distinguishing vowel qualities, possessing a fairly straightforward vertical vowel system. Instead, the vowels take on phonetic detail from surrounding consonants. Interior Woods compensates for this by distinguishing both phonation and quantity on vowels, which give considerable allophony to the vowel phonemes.
|Interior Woods Vowels|