The Trade Tongue

The Trade Tongue is the main lingua franca in the Lands Under the Sun and the language in which you are reading this article.

The Trade Tongue is the language of Broadland on the west coast of the Sunrise Lands and shares a common history with the language of Greatvale, though the Trade Tongue has been influenced by a number of languages of both close and distant relation and its vocabulary and grammar reflect this.  The people of Greatvale can understand the Trade Tongue with some effort, while the peoples of Broadland find Greavalish overly complex and archaic. The Trade Tongue is of a different stock altogether from the Elder Tongue, though it often incorporates words from that language.

Broadland speech, which continues to be known in that country as Brallanish, became the speech of the mercantile fleets that traveled up and down the western coast of the Sunrise Lands as Broadland merchant fleets became the trade conduit for goods from surrounding nations.  Even after those fleets surrendered market dominance to the fleets of Greatvale, the Broadland tongue continued to be used among the ports of the west coast and even the Chain Islands.  The Trade Tongue over time became the dominant language of merchant fleets, due to the fact that most merchant fleets drew sailors from different lands and it became a convenient common tongue. As it became the dominant tongue of merchant fleets, soon it was the dominant tongue used by those engaged in trade among the ports of the world.  From there, it became the language of those who sought to benefit from trade, investments in trade, or other areas of commerce. It is a rare thing to travel to any port in the Lands Under the Sun and not to hear the Trade Tongue spoken.

The Calendar

The calendar is clearly of ancient origin.  It is a calendar of twelve months alternating between 29 and 30 days each followed by an intercalary month, usually nine days long. The calendar was originally a lunar calendar but has been adapted through the intercalary month to conform to the solar year.

Because of the intercalary month, the lunar cycle slips out of synch with the solar cycle.  However, the years on which the 1st Day of Ralialul (New Year’s Day) and the first day of a lunar month occur on the same day (about once every 19 years) are known as “Moon Years” and are considered especially sacred and/or lucky in many cultures.  In Greatvale, the New Year’s Day of a Moon Year is known as “Monanhælletung” meaning “Moon’s Greeting” and is a great feast day, as is the final day of the 12th Month, which is known as “Monanforthweg” or “Moon’s Departure”.

The fact that all the month names are in the Elder Tongue hints at its truly ancient origins.  In some realms, a local variation on the month names exists alongside the traditional names.

MonthNameMeaningGreatvale NameNo. of DaysApprox. Gregorian
1RalialulRain monthRegenmath29March
2AbulilulLengtheningLenctenmath30April
3KinidululFlowers monthBlostmath29May
4GanadululTrees monthTreowmath30June
5ShadjalulSun monthSunnemath29July
6ZozhalulHeat monthHæthemath30August
7EtendelulHarvest monthHærfestmath29September
8OktotululLeaves monthLeafmath30October
9AbumilulShorteningCyrtenmath29November
10DunnolulDark monthDeorcmath30December
11LawalalulSnow monthSnawmath29January
12OthalulWind monthWindmath30February
MeralulBetween monthMidmath9-12 [1]

[1] The length of the Meralul is calculated every year and is usually nine days long, but may be longer if the calendar has slipped out of alignment with the sun.

The Elder Folk

The Elder Folk were one of the primordial civilizations of the Hidden Lands. It is unclear whether the Elder Folk were once civilization or many.  The existence and near ubiquity of the Elder Tongue suggests that the Elder Folk who colonized the Sunrise and Sunset Lands were of one cultural stock.  However, the existence of some cultures and languages whose linguistic heritage is markedly different (e.g., Greatvale, Kastan’ose, Norrist) argues for a much more diverse ancestral group than is commonly supposed.

The Elder Folk civilization first appeared around 7000 PC and developed what they referred to as “the sciences”—written language, mathematics, architecture, bronze working, and agriculture; in short, all the technologies of civilization.  Although the Edler Folk invented writing, they left behind no written records of their history and much of what is known (or believed) about them is the stuff of legend.

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Thuva-Tha: The Elder Tongue

The language of the Elder Folk who inhabited the Hidden Lands before The History began.  Their civilization is no more but their ancient language survives as a ritual language in many of the cultures of the Lands Under the Sun.

I. Alphabet and Pronunciation

The Elder Tongue is written in the Elder Script, also called kedeng. The script can be written either left-to-right, right-to-left (as in most sacred texts), or in boustrophedon (“as the ox plows”) style, alternating between right-to-left and left-to right.

Pronunciation is generally the same as in English, although the vowels are monophthongs, closer to the vowels of Latin than to the diphthonged vowels of English. IPA values are given below:

Theme I Theme II Theme III Theme IV Universal Vowels
f f f t t t s s s l l l p p p a a a
v v v d d d z z z r r r b b b e e e
T th θ n n n S sh ʃ y y j m m m i i i
D dh ð k k k Z zh ʒ W w w       o o o
h h h x g g g C ch         u u u
    N ng ŋ J dj            
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