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Nordiche is the predominant language of AnortHea, the largest known nation on the Otherworld of Urdhe. It is spoken by roughly thirty million inhabitants of AnortHea, and is used as a common trade tongue by a further three million people along the nearby continental coast. As of 2007 nearly two million Earthlings have learned the language to fluency.
Words in Nordiche and other Urdhan languages are transliterated phonetically thus:
Capital H always indicates a firm stop to the preceding consonant and a clear H sound as in happy; thus AnortHea = ah-nort-HEY-ah, NacHail = nach hah-EEL, DanHa = dahn-HA, etc. An apostrophe indicates either a similar stop but with the preceding consonant softened in favor of a strong H, or a separation between vowels that should be clearly enunciated.
Lowercase h is combined with other letters to indicate Nordiche consonants:
- bh as in Spanish burro; a soft B almost a V
- ch as in Bach, chutzpah; a sharp throat-clearing noise. Never ch as in Charlie.
- dh as in clothing, Spanish cerrado; a soft D almost a 'th'
- gh as in Spanish Julio; a soft throat-clearing noise. Never g as in George or in Grover.
- rh as in rojo; a lightly rolled R
- sh as in shush
- th as in this or that
- zh as in French Jaques
Other capital letters are used to mark notable breaks within written Nordiche words, and don't affect pronunciation.
Vowels are always pronounced the same, and vowels together do not combine, but are pronounced separately:
- a as in awesome, August; never as in apple, day or dawn
- e as in egg, whey; sometimes a schwa sound as in the, elephant; never as in eager, never silent
- i as in liter, scampi; never as in ice or thin
- o as in oak, cone; never as in got or town
- u as in sue, tube; never as in up or useful
Hence Eiama = ay-ee-AM-ah, thuat = THOO-ought. Many vowel sounds slide together naturally, such as ai = aye-EE = AYE, but should still be pronounced with an awareness of both distinct sounds. When vowels are separated with an apostrophe, they should be pronounced very distinctly and not allowed to blend.
The syllable aar is a defamatory symbol in written Nordiche and is used exclusively in words for the Adversary Kaar G'Horem and related despised concepts. It is properly pronounced with a snarling tone as of disgust, but one needn't be overly dramatic about it.
Urdhe is separated from Earth by the variance of their Collier Frequencies, which renders the two worlds almost entirely intangible to one another without special equipment. That equipment was invented on Earth in the 1960's, and remained a deeply clandestine technology until the mid-1980's. Prior to that there had been no reliably documented contact between the worlds, but the similarity of the two ecosystems -- with many species in common, most notably Homo sapiens -- is frequently taken as evidence of extensive naturally-occurring interchange.
At the time of contact, the nation of AnortHea had been engaged in war for several centuries against an inhuman enemy, an immortal named Kaar G'Horem who bore an ancient grudge against the AmHaia, the "Gods" of the mountain Tun Maiako. Caught between these terrible powers, the humans of AnortHea had been holding the monstrous creations of G'Horem at bay for nearly five centuries. In 1985, the Long War came to trouble Earth as well, when G'Horem took advantage of two Gateways, both located in New York City on Earth, to cross several hundred miles on the other side and storm the AnortHeans from an unexpected front. Five hundred black-armored troops of monstrous appearance marching suddenly through New York effectively ended the secrecy of the Gateways across Earth, and the "Manhattan Incident" is usually considered the effective start of interworld commerce.
In the early 1990's, the AnortHean crown reluctantly agreed to offers of assistance from Earthling military forces, allowing the importation of troops by a U.N.-coordinated multinational force, the U.S. being most heavily represented. Although most of the equipment contributed to Operation Burning Mountain was surplus and recommissioned -- most famously, the Black Arrow Squadron composed of five WWII-era B-17 bombers -- the addition of modern Earthling military techniques and technology changed the face of the Long War quickly and decisively. In 1997 the War was ended and G'Horem himself taken captive. As an immortal, potentially indestructible being, the disposition of G'Horem remains an issue of multiple controversy in both worlds. As of now, the Dark Lord remains incarcerated in a secure facility on Earth, where his innate power is considerably diminished, and under guard by the strongest measures available from both worlds.
Today, AnortHea is in a state of confused, exuberant growth. The ultimate direction of AnortHean society in the absence of the conflict that has defined the nation for so long remains an open question, but amid the flowering of safe travel and commerce and the influx of Earthling goods and technology, the nation is flourishing in sufficient abundance to keep many underlying political tensions at a peaceable level.
The impact of contact on Earth similarly remains uncertain, but has overall been seen as positive. New arts, fashions and cultural concepts have flowered from points of contact, and by no means is the technology of the AnortHeans more "primitive" than ours; a sharing of knowledge has definitively occurred in both directions. Although there remain many concerns and controversies, like the internet, Gateway technology is here and unlikely to vanish, and the current decade may come to be known as the golden age for simple tourism and friendly trade between the worlds.
History of NordicheEdit
Although much of the past remains shrouded in legend and religious belief, and Earthling archaeological study of Urdhe is sorely undeveloped, the evidence available points to a remarkably long and colorful history behind the language of Nordiche.
By evidence that remains much contested among the Earthling scientific community, writing and civilization began on Urdhe, and specifically in the region now known as AnortHea, around sixteen thousand years ago -- predating the invention of writing and the building of cities on Earth, and on the rest of Urdhe, by roughly twelve thousand years.
That civilization is known now as the IaumecHan, usually translated in English as "Sorcerors", and legendary history holds that their advanced culture was the product of direct intervention by the AmHaia -- powerful and apparently immaterial beings believed to reside in the peak of Tun Maiako. The AmHaia are said to have taught the IaumecHan many secrets of basic living, and moreover many secrets of the AmHaia's own power -- including revelation of the tongue of the Gods, Eiama, a language which rules over whatever it speaks of.
Eiama, it is said, cannot properly be spoken by mortals. Its syllables are spoken by the sounds of wind through a forest, by rumbles of thunder or the cries of hunting birds, by the hubbub of an entire city or the chirruping of frogs across a swamp; its 'written' form is inscribed in the crags of mountains and displayed in the motion of clouds. But it was from the model of the AmHai tongue that the Sorcerors drew a language they could write and speak.
First came Voiema, the Great Mortal Tongue. With this language, it is said, the Sorcerors could communicate with the AmHai directly, and cause the world around them to speak and translate in Eiama. Tiny fragments of Voiama survive, and form the basis of much of the "magic" of AnortHea; among the documented remarkable qualities of this language in use are communication across great distances and influence over the weather.
Because of its power, however, Voiema wasn't well suited to plain conversation, not when a casual comment about the weather might offend it. For regular human use, the Sorcerors developed a heavily simplified vocabulary that flowered into a sophisticated, mundane language, Eome. As far as known, all human languages on Urdhe descend from Eome, also known in Nordiche as IaumecHema.
The fall of the Sorcerous Empire led to the dispersal of its people out of the AnortHean plateau, following which the region remained unoccupied for humans for around eight thousand years. Over this time, two distinct strains of Eome developed in the west, becoming the ancestral languages of Enkuraka in the north and Sabhani in the south.
Around six thousand years ago, gradual temperature changes and other shifting conditions made the plateau more desirable for habitation, and people of the northwest and south began to recolonize AnortHea. The northwestern tribes settling into the northern mountains of AnortHea gradually solidified the language now known as Old Enkuraka, while the people of the south settling in Sabha Narn and BraegHo developed Sabhani.
Over the next couple millenia these two peoples, each a collection of widespread and loosely affiliated tribes, gradually came into contact with one another around the headwaters of the Vyssaure River. The common trading tongue NarkHeshe developed rapidly between them, founded on the common ancestry of the two languages.
By the time of Ti-E VacHaniel, 3,500 years ago, two distinct dialects under the name NarkHeshe had become the predominant language in the region by numbers, though the territory occupied mainly by speakers of Sabhani and Enkuraka remained much larger. The Mountain Dialect predominated in the northern territories and would later be reabsorbed in the transition from Old to Middle Enkuraka, while the River Dialect favored the linguistics of Sabhani.
Nordiche was formalized by the Prophet Ti-E VacHaniel, who is said to have ascended the side of Tun Maiako and been granted gifts and knowledge by the AmHaia in person, among them partial knowledge of Voiema and of Eome, and the concept of writing itself. From this concept VacHaniel created the written form of Nordiche, the script called Norchire.
The Norchire script assembled elements of proto-writing from across the plateau, and made an explicit attempt to unify the two languages, an act of major political importance at the time. With the spread of VacHaniel's writing, along with the religious way of life or Maiardhu that he preached, the Nordiche language coalesced into a form more or less unchanged to the present day.
Presented here is a description of proper, formal grammar in Nordiche. Visitors will find that strict adherence to grammar is not typical of ordinary daily speech, but it still helps to know the ground rules that most casual speakers will be bending.
The most basic sentence structure is [tense marker][predicate clause][subject clause]. A simple, reading-primer sentence, which we'll use variations on for demonstration, is Ba vuge gemHa: "I saw a dog".
This feature of Nordiche derives from its ancestry in the magical languages of Eiama and Voiama, languages which have or are believed to have uncanny properties including influence over the subject of discussion. In these languages it is vital to establish when the sentence is intended to take place, and this fundamental concern has been inherited by the mundane descendant languages. Tense markers are often dropped in normal speech when the tense is obvious, already established or irrelevant.
There are many different tense markers for specific purposes, but only the most common ones are important for starting out:
- ba: past tense; the predicate occurred in the past and is not happening now. Ba vuge gemHa, "I saw a dog."
- bai: distant, legendary or hypothetical past tense, typically translated into English as "once", or poetically as "Once upon a time". Can also be used to convey "So it was" or "It has always been so". Bai vuge gemHa, "Once, I saw a dog", or "I have always seen a dog."
- a: simple present tense. The predicate is happening now, or remains true at present. A vuge gemHa, "I see a dog", "I am seeing a dog", or "I still see the dog." Nearly always dropped from modern speech.
- ai: present continuous. The predicate is ongoing, has started or will continue to occur, but may or may not be happening right at the moment. Ai vuge gemHa, "I keep seeing a dog." Another usage of ai, not technically considered proper but so widespread that it probably will be soon, is as a simple present tense in sentences which are not meant to be taken literally -- in subjunctives, speculations, jokes and sarcasm. Ai varge gemHa, "I'm eating a dog" -- or, translated for tone, "Oh yeah, I'm totally eating a dog."
- cha: Simple future tense. The predicate will take place sometime in the future, or the speaker declares an intention for the future. Cha vuge gemHa, "I will see a dog".
- chai: indefinite, distant or hypothetical future, "someday" or "always". Chai vuge gemHa, "One day I will see a dog" or "I will always see a dog."
- chaba: "After". Indicates that its predicate takes place after the predicate of a preceding sentence or clause. This is a subsidiary marker, which inherits its overall tense from preceding markers. Ba vuge gemHa, chaba nargHe age, "I saw a dog, then it bit me."
- bacha: "Before". The complement to chaba, indicating that the predicate takes place prior to a preceding clause. Ba vuge gemHa, bacha nulege eHe, "I saw a dog, and before that I smelled it."
1. Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
2. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3. They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
4. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
5. But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.
6. The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
7. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
8. So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
9. That is why it was called Babel -- because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.