Vulgar High Elven

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Language: English
Vulgar High Elven
EthnicityHigh Elves
Extinctevolved into Middle High Elven around 200 BEKE
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Vulgar High Elven is a generic term for the nonstandard (as opposed to classical) sociolects of the High Elven language that postdated Archaic High Elven but predated Middle High Elven. The word vulgar in this case refers to its original meaning of common or vernacular, and not the more pejorative usage, tasteless or indecent.

During all of its lifespan - from 600 BEKE to 200 BEKE - it coexisted with Classical High Elven as a spoken language. While the latter served as the language of the church, administration and poetry, Vulgar High Elven was the language of the masses, the ordinary folk.

Because of its nonstandard nature, Vulgar High Elven had no official orthography. Vulgar High Elven was very often also called colloquial High Elven during the time it was spoken.

Phonology, differences from Classical High Elven in pronunciation

Vulgar High Elven did not have drastic differences from Classical High Elven when it came to pronunciation, as the majority of differences between the two variants of High Elven were in grammar and vocabulary.

Nevertheless, differences in pronunciation did exist:

  • Hardening of /w/ to a fricative /v/ - /kʷ/ remained intact, unchanged
  • Lenition of intervocalic /b/ to /v/
  • Fricatization of aspirated /pʰ/ to /f/
  • Deaspiration of /tʰ/ and /kʰ/ to /t/ and /k/
  • The existence of palatal allophones for /k g/ before front unrounded vowels. They could have been pre-velar/post-palatal [k̘ g̘], palato-velar [kʲ gʲ], or even true palatal [c ɟ].
    • It was said that the historical aspiration of /kʰ/ "blocked palatalization" even after the aspiration was lost. This seems to imply that the palatalization happened before the loss of aspiration.
    • /y/ and /yː/ - which were unrounded to /i/ and /iː/ - did not trigger palatalization either, which would imply to the palatalization happened before the unrounding of the aforementioned vowels.
  • Monophthongization of the diphthongs /aj/ and /oj/ as /ɛː/ and /eː/, /aw/ and /ew/ to /ɔː/ and /oː/
  • Lowering of /ɪ/ and /ʊ/ to /e/ and /o/
  • Merging of nasal vowels with regular long vowels
  • Unrounding of /y/ and /yː/ to /i/ and /iː/
    • Palatalization did not happen before these newly unrounded vowels, so they could have been temporarily centralized [ɨ ɨː] before fully merging with /i/ and /iː/
  • Reduction of /i/ and /e/ to a glide /j/ before other vowels, producing new clusters /mj pj bj fj vj tj dj sj zj kj gj/, many of which would later coalesce into new palatal consonants in Middle High Elven
    • The previously lowering and centralizing diphthongs /eɐ̯ oɐ̯ ɪɐ̯ ʊɐ̯ ʏɐ̯/ became /ja wa ja wa uja/ respectively. This new /w/ was phonemic from the older one which hardened to [v].
    • /kj gj/ were probably pronounced as pre-velar/post-palatal [k̘j g̘j], palato-velar [kʲ gʲ], or even true palatal [c ɟ].
    • /tj/ affricated to /t͡sj/
    • /nj lj/ coalesced into [ɲ ʎ] rather early
  • Lowering of /ɐ/ to /a/. After this point, it only differed from /aː/ in length, not in vowel quality anymore.


Consonants in Vulgar High Elven around 400 BEKE

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Palatal Plain Labial
Nasal /m/ /n/ [ɲ] [ŋ]
Stop Plain /p/ /t/ [k̘~kʲ~c] /k/ /kʷ/
Voiced /b/ /d/ [g̘~gʲ~ɟ] /g/
Fricative Voiceless /f/ /s/, /t͡s/
Voiced /v/ /d͡z~z/
Approximant /l/ /j/ [ʎ] /h/
Trill /r/


Vowels in Vulgar High Elven around 400 BEKE

Front Back
Close /iː/ /uː/
Close-Mid /e/, /eː/ /o/, /oː/
Open-Mid /ɛ/, /ɛː/ /ɔ/, /ɔː/
Open /a/, /aː/