Slithzerikaiis

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Source: Alec canon
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Slithzerikaiis is the language of the Slithzerikai of Exile; the name literally calques to 'Slithzerikai throat'. Not much information is known about it in the Empire, although there are several scholars in the Kingdom of Avernum that have apparently mastered it.

Alphabet

While a native Slith alphabet does exist, its disuse is generally ascribed to its development for the purposes of Classical Slith, which is extremely poorly understood but seems to be almost entirely alien to modern Exile-born Sliths. While a few elite figures, mostly clergy and the occasional mage, can read and write in old Slith runes, for the most part Slithzerikaiis is written and read in the Imperial alphabet.

The alphabet is read, as in Standard, ABCDE FGHIJ KLMNO PQRST UVWXY Z; however, of those, only about half are used in native speech, and several are used to represent sounds not present in either Imperial Standard or, indeed, readily producable by human beings.

Pronounciation

Pronunciation of Slithzerikaiis is syllabic, as Standard.

In Slithzerikai, there exist three categories of letters: consonants, vowels, and semi-vowels. Vowels include the five used in Standard and Y; semi-vowels include any letter which may be 'bound' by another consonant. 'S' is a prominent example: accompanied by 'n', 't', or 'l' it becomes a consonant closest to Standard 's' - as in 'snake', 'stop', or 'slow'; accompanied by 'h' it becomes a near-hissed vowel; alone it is a near-vowel closest in sound to 'z'. Near-vowels, when doubled, are always consonants; 'Oss' is closed-mouthed, but 'Os' is not.

Doubled vowels are pronounced as iterative, not additive. 'Kaiis' in 'slithzerikaiis' is pronounced 'ky-iz', not 'kyyz'.

Verbs

Slithzerikaiis verbs are formed by appending a conjugatory prefix to a noun. For the most part, strict conjugation has become unusual in everyday speech, with the first-person present 'os' being used for almost all tenses of verb. In theory, dozens of verbing prefixes apparently exist; in practice, scholars have observed the usage of only four:

'os-', the first-person present; 'uss-', the first-person nonpresent; 'sko-', the other present; 'sti-', the other nonpresent.

Even so, scholars report that even 'sko-' and 'sti-' have fallen into nearly complete disuse, surviving mostly in terms for hospitality or sociability ('stirasst', from the noun 'rasst' referring to a species of sour-fleshed fish considered a delicacy, meaning 'to party'; 'skokrusk', from the noun 'krusk' referring to the cloaca and meaning exactly what one would expect). The noun 'ort', 'walk', becomes 'osort'.

Renouning

One of the most unusual features of Slithzerikaiis is the commodity of renouning: the practice of turning verbs into nouns. While applying 'ostas' - a Slith verb formed from the noun stem 'tas' meaning 'non-specific object', thus 'to be' - to the beginning of the verb will fairly unambiguously produce a noun from any verb (ex. 'ostast-stirasst' producing 'party', but directly translating to, and perhaps better represented in spirit by, the fairly awkward '{you-did}-sourfish-{i-do}-thing'.

Renouning can be, and is, extended to preposterous proportions; 'sko-ostasussostas-stirasst', in theory, means 'to behave convivially' (from 'ussostas-stirast', or 'to prepare a party'; thence 'ostasussostas-stirasst', or 'party-thrower'; thence 'sko-ostasussostas-stirasst'.) At some level the unimpeachable logic of iterative renouning breaks down, and it is necessary to produce what the Sliths call a noun (or verb) pedigree, which is a relation, often witty or punning (although see below), by which a word is arrived at.

Other than wit, renouning and reverbing help to round out the Slithzerikaiis vocabulary and form a language which, while difficult to pin into a dictionary, is extremely easy to adapt to any situation.

An example of this: Sliths boast that their language alone among those born beneath the surface has a word for 'sun': stiostasos-piran, from 'ostasuss-piran', or 'fried thing'; from 'uss-piran', or 'cook with great heat'; from 'piran', a type of anglerfish with poisonous raw flesh. The overall effect is an allusion to something extremely hot (frying) and a peculiar source of light (the anglerfish).

With the ongoing apparent collapse of the Slith verb prefixes into 'os-' and 'uss-', the future of renouning remains in serious doubt.

Puns

Owing to its slim number of sounds in everyday use, its repetitive structure for nouns and verbs, and the fairly loose method by which new nouns and verbs are created, Slithzerikaiis has an abundance of leeway for puns and wordplay. However, scholars note that puns have developed in a peculiar manner among the Sliths: rather than being a source of light-hearted, they are generally used as an elaborate mechanism for insulting the audience and insinuating one's own superiority. Puns (and their associated 'pedigrees') are usually extremely provocative; the aggrieved party typically has a single attempt to impugn his or her new opponent's noun or verb pedigree before matters escalate into violence.

Due to the nature of verbing and renouning, there is technically no boundary on punning, although pedigrees longer than a minute, or about the size of three pages, are uncommon outside of the scant output of letters among Slith elites.

Successfully impugning an opponent's pedigree - usually accomplished by using it to imply with the pun itself that the opponent is unlearned, in a mindless frenzy to mate, or otherwise incompetent - is a fairly uncommon and celebrated accomplishment, and all but the most impotent Slith chieftains are remembered in tradition primarily by a noteworthy (and generally apocryphal) riposte.

Physical violence tends to occur when neither the pun or the impugnment is satisfyingly humiliating. Killing or injuring a Slith who has proven her- or himself superior in verbal combat is highly frowned upon, especially in the event that the riposte proves them superior.

The status of puns in Slithzerikaiis has no equal or even a ready equivalent in any other known language; this has been the source of various unfortunate incidents between Sliths and other races.

Pronouns

((2007 edit stops here -- ak.)) Slithzerikai have a gradient system of politeness which works something like this:

+Chieftain
+H. Priest
+Archmage
Priest
Mage
Politician (non-ranking)
-Citizen (ranking)
-Warrior
-Citizen, normal

One addresses persons who one is familiar with with an equal respect level; in Present Day vernacular Slithzerikaiis**, one doesn't bother with respect levels unless one wants to be formal about something, and by modern times [as of the Arena RP]**, respect level had all but dissapeared except in the military [where another system had developed], priesthood, and politics [where no outsider is really expected to learn just how the hell Slithzerikai politicans address one another].

One adds an extra 'so' at the beginning of the word for the first level of respect and an 'es' after the 'so' for every other level afterwards. Classes marked with - don't address classes marked with + by anything less than their name unless permission has been given, and the classes marked with + don't address classes marked with - by anything less than their name unless familiar with them.

Of course, Slithzerikai culture has a much deeper respect for familiarity than Human culture, and should someone be related to / mated with a person, they will always be on an equal level of respect with that person in pronoun terms.

Pronouns are pluralized as usual in Slithzerikai: with se- added to the beginning. [This is added to the base word when adding respect level.]

I = kai [Surely enough, one is usually on the same respect level as oneself.]
You = kei
We = sekai [can have respect levels added, if one is in the company of people of a higher class; this is uncommon and archaic**]
You = sekei [plural]
3rd = ossk [gender-neutral]
3rd = seossk [plural, gender-neutral]
one = seciis [used like the French 'on' - all present, or people in general]

So a Mage would call a Chieftain 'essokai', or more than one Chieftain 'essosekei', or in third person 'esso-ossk'.

Names, like those in so many languages, rarely have any meaning; unlike Novah, in which names tend to indicate something about the person, such is excruciatingly rarely the case in Slithzerikaiis.

Numbers

Slithzerikai numbers are usually pronounced as written, with a grace 'eh' between each, which is very subtle and in some dialects not even pronounced. In the case of a pairing like 10, 20, 50, etc. instead of an 'eh', a hyphen is included between the two. When two or more 'fes'es are paired together, there is an 'ep' as opposed to either a hyphen or an eh. There are informal words for the various numbers, but these will not be covered here.

Slithzerikaiis works in an octal system; the numbers are as follows:

0 fes 1 nel 2 senel 3 pryss 4 hoss 5 feusk 6 elth 7 bosk 8 nel-fes 9 nel eh nel 10 nel eh senel

etc; so 1000 [decimal] would be 1750 in octal, and pronounced 'nel eh bosk eh feusk-fes'; 53202 [octal] would become 'feusk eh pryss eh senel-fes eh senel'. 1000 [octal] would be pronounced nel-fes ep fes ep fes.

Numbers greater than 6 digits have a 'stopper'; so 10005 would be, instead of nel-fes ep fes ep fes ep fes eh feusk, pas-fes noss [plus] feusk.

    • N.B.: The 'present day' referred to in this article is the far future - well over 3,500 IE. The rules of politeness described are alive and well.