High Elven language
|High Elven alphabet|
The High Elven language is the official language of the Kingdom of Froturn. The language has a long history ensuring great cultural and literary heritage. Even though it has been eclipsed by Etrandish as the language of global trade, and is no longer considered an all-beating language of classical literacy like Classical High Elven was, but the language still serves important purposes even outside Froturn - being considered the language of love, therefore used to compose romantic poetry and songs even by non-Elves.
The language also happens to be the de facto spoken lingua franca of the Church of Titanius spoken by clergymen from different linguistic backgrounds among each other, alongside the written lingua franca Classical High Elven.
Evolution from Middle High Elven
- Voiceless consonants became aspirated
- Voiced consonants became slack-voiced word-initially, lenited to fricatives between vowels and in the syllable coda.
- /ju/ became /ɥ/ before other vowels
- The short /i u/ got laxed to /ɪ ʊ/
- Word-final /e/ became silent
- /e o/ merged with /ɛ ɔ/
- /ɛː ɔː/ merged with /eː oː/, at least in mainstream speech.
- /ɛː/ got preserved in a few dialects.
- Short /a/ backed to /ɑ/
- Long /aː/ fronted to /æː/
- See also: High Elven dialects
- The labio-palatal approximant /ɥ/ is a very unstable phoneme and is typically stretched into [jy] or [wy] even by the most educated speakers. Very often insert a bilabial fricative [β] between /y/ and the following vowel, for example /ɥɑhoː/ being pronounced as [jyβɒhoː~wyβɒhoː]
- /r/ is realized as a flap [ɾ] intervocally and in the syllable coda, trilled [r] otherwise
- The voiceless alveolar affricate /t͡s/ appears only in Classicisms, and has mostly deaffricated to /s/ in common speech.
- The voiceless /p t t͡ʃ k kʷ/ are aspirated [pʰ tʰ t͡ʃʰ kʰ kʷʰ], unless they are following /s/ or in syllable coda
- Coda-position /p t k/ are unreleased [p̚ t̚ k̚]
- Word-initial /s ʃ/ may be aspirated [sʰ ʃʰ] by some speakers, but this is far from universal or standard
- The voiced /b d d͡z d͡ʒ g gʷ/ have varied pronunciation, depending on the environment:
- Slack-voiced [b̥ d̥ d̥͡z d̥͡ʒ g̊ g̊ʷ] word-initially
- Fully-voiced [b d d͡z d͡ʒ g gʷ] after nasals
- Fricatives [β ð z ʒ ɣ~ʝ ɣʷ] between vowels and in syllable coda
- Coda-position /g/ is [ɣ] after back vowels, [ʝ] - or even [j] - after front vowels
- The phoneme /v/ was traditionally realized as a fricative [v], and the phonemes /ʎ j ɥ w/ were traditionally realized as approximants [ʎ j ɥ w]. In contemporary High Elven, all of them vary between fricatives [v ʎ̝ ʝ ʝʷ ɣʷ] and approximants [ʋ ʎ j ɥ w].
- /v/ is normally a fricative, but in intervocalic positions, it tends to soften to [ʋ] or even [w]
- /ʎ/ was traditionally strictly an approximant, like /l/. Nowadays, it's mostly a fricative with high amount of variation [ʎ̝~ʝ~ʑ]. The assibilation of /ʎ/ to [ʑ] is a growing phenomenon amongst the lower class population.
- Many speakers dissimilate the /t͡ʃ d͡ʒ ʃ/, realizing them as retroflex [ʈ͡ʂʰ ɖ̥͡ʐ~ʐ ʂ] before back vowels and alveolo-palatal [t͡ɕʰ d̥͡ʑ~ʑ ɕ] before front vowels. This however is far from universal or standard.
- The language also has diphthongs: /ɑʊ̯/, /ɑɪ̯/, /ɛʊ̯/, /ɛɪ̯/, /ɔʊ̯/ and /ɔɪ̯/. For the last four of them /ɛʊ̯ ɛɪ̯ ɔʊ̯ ɔɪ̯/, there is some variation in the height of the first element [ɛʊ̯~eʊ̯ ɛɪ̯~eɪ̯ ɔʊ̯~oʊ̯ ɔɪ̯~oɪ̯], and /ɛɪ̯ ɔʊ̯/ can even monophthongize to [eː oː]. In Standard High Elven, they are pronounced [ɛʊ̯ ɛɪ̯ ɔʊ̯ ɔɪ̯].
- In native vocabulary, the schwa /ə/ appears only in place of the former word-final /e/ in poems and songs, which has become silent in common speech. Other than that, the schwa only appears in foreign words.
- /ɑ/ is rounded to [ɒ] when between the labial or labialized consonants /p b f v kʷ gʷ w/.
- the long /uː/ is pronounced fully back [uː] only in conservative and careful speech, especially by upper-class speakers. In casual speech - especially by lower-class speakers - /uː/ is typically realized as a centralized [ʉː], while the short /ʊ/ is usually a fully back [ʊ].
- [ʏ yː] appear only in a few dialects as a result of the fronting of /ʊ uː/ after /t͡ʃ d͡ʒ ʃ j/. They are absent in Standard High Elven.
- /ɛː/ appaers only in a few dialects, preserving the sound from Middle High Elven. In Standard High Elven, /ɛː/ has merged with /eː/.