The time has come fellow Glossopoeists! Last time we left off I gave a little blurb about me and my stumble into linguistics and conlangs. Now on to the Tho Yor language, let's break it down my friends...
Before we begin folks just a heads up this blog will get into grit of my language so for those out there that aren’t linguists don’t worry! Check out the information on the site about Conlangs for Beginners. I will also, like always, put links to pages with information for the super linguistic jargon. With the vast market of the Star Wars Expanded Universe books, there is an unspoken rule to be followed by all authors that do official works for the Universe. This cardinal rule is to not violate anything that has been previously done by other authors. I kept that idea in the forefront as I was designing the language for the ancient Sith. Keep in mind, these are not the Sith as we know them today (e.g., Darth Vader) but these are in fact the original Sith whose origins date back 25,000 years before the first modern Sith. To put it into better perspective, based on the fictitious timeline in Star Wars, this language will be a snapshot of the language as it was about 42,000 years before Star Wars Episode I.
The previous works around the subject of ancient Sith are about the discovery of the species on the planet Korriban. The species varies in gradients of red and have three subspecies that are based on the physiological differences between the nose and the nasal cavity. The Kissai have two large tendrils that are connected to the nasal cavity that hang far past their chin. The Zuguruk with their tendrils disconnected from the nasal cavity and then the Alassassi lack a nose all together and have tendrils that are attached to the scalp that fall back like hair would on humans. There is an undisclosed reason, but the three subspecies have a natural class system with the Kissai on top, the Zuguruk in the middle and the Alassassi are the peons. Much of the world building aspects for my language were done for me in this regard and I knew almost immediately how I would shape the language.
With the notion of nasality, I wanted to set out to ensure that nasals were a large part of my phonetic makeup for the language. I spent time researching languages that utilize nasals and the culmination of that research gave the sound inventory for Tho Yor with these twenty consonants. There is a heavy number of nasals to accommodate the language’s crucial need of nasality. In regard to the asymmetry for voiced and voiceless, the rest of the consonants were largely derived from the sound inventory of Arabic because when I envisioned hearing this language Arabic resonated with me. The rest, not in the Arabic inventory, [ɢ], [ɦ], and [ɮ], were done because I simply enjoyed the sounds. I could also say that this asymmetry, even though it happened mostly by accident, speaks volumes to the stereotypical notion that the dark side is the ‘unbalanced’ side to the force, an amazing factor to incorporate into the sound inventory.
Also, the following sound inventory represents the breadth of both the Kissai and Zuguruk varieties, which share the same phonemes. The difference between them is that with Kissai the nasality resonates greater due to the tendrils being connected to the nasal cavity. The Alassassi share the same consonants except for the nasals as they lack the physiological features to create a nasal sound. With the research that I did I found an interest in Breton, a language that utilizes nasalized vowels, so I chose mostly from that inventory to represent my vowels for the Sith language. The distribution of having most of the vowels being mid to high was done with no particular reason simply borrowed from the Breton inventory. Now, I know there will be critics and fellow linguists on this so bring it on my friends. The one thing that I always say is that your Conlang should evolve and change just like any good Natlang would do. So I am constantly adding and subtracting as constraints begin to happen based on the world building aspects, other linguistic features or additional information I gather from the Expanded Universe texts. That being said my biggest and potentially fatal mistake to this language is that I am assuming that this species creates pulmonic sounds, which I am sure they do based on their physiology. That being said this gave me my base for the language and I moved next to the syntax (my favorite part!!!).