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Introduction; Chana linguistics

From:Edward Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 2, 1999, 17:22
Hi, folks!

My name is Ed Heil, and I'm kind of new at this hobby but loving it.  My
background is in classical languages, and I've played a lot of
roleplaying games.

I did the following based on the roleplaying game "Talislanta."  All the
information I started with was:

There is a language called Chanan spoken by:
the Chana (witchfolk -- creepy primitive swamp dwellers)
the Nagra (less creepy than Chana, known as "spirit trackers")
the Na Ku (really nasty half-demon lizard creatures)
the Batreans (a weird race; the women are intelligent and beautiful, the
men ogre-like and brutish.  from the isle of Batre)
the Mondre Khan (nomadic warriors)
The Sawila (very different from the others; they are absolutely
pacifistic, gentle, birdlike, musical humans)

In addition to the tribal/race names above, I had the following words:

juju -- a fetish (yes, I know it's an Earth word too)
jabutu -- a rare herb
fahn -- the island where the Sawila live
pa na ku -- the island of the Na Ku
arial -- the goddess of the Sawila

With that, I came up with the following monograph on the subject (with a
little help from Jeffrey Henning's Langmaker program -- luckily the
sound changes involved were simple enough that the program could handle
them easily):

Chanan Linguistics

Field notes by Tiskadros of Sindar

One of the larger and yet lesser known language groups on the world of
Talislanta is the Chanan language group.  Often spoken of as a single
language, the Chanan group actually spans a number of dialects.  The
differences between them are largely phonological and structural rather
than lexical or syntactical, however, so with a little practice a
speaker of any Chanan dialect can understand any of the others.

Chanan speakers include: the Chana, Manra, Mondre Khan, Nagra, Batreans,
Sawila, and Na Ku.

There is reason to believe that Old Chanan, still spoken by Chana, Na
Ku, and Manra, is the ancestral form of the language; Nagra and Batrean
are very minor variations; Mondre Khan a somewhat greater departure, and
Sawila a very variant form.

Old Chanan Phonology:

There are strikingly few sounds in Old Chanan; twelve consonants and
three vowels for a total of only fifteen phonemes.

Voicing is not phonemic in any of the Chanan dialects; the only
syllable-initial clusters permitted are the combination of one of the
stops (p,t,k) and r.  The Old Chanan R is generally pronounced as a
short trill or tap, except in Sawila where it is an extended, musical

There are only three Old Chanan vowels, and no diphthongs.  The only
syllable-final consonant permitted is an n.

The syllable-initial consonants and clusters include:
sound  frequency
  ch      (5)
  p       (3)
  n       (3)
  t       (2)
  tr      (2)
  l       (2)
  m       (2)
  r       (2)
  w       (1)
  k       (1)
  pr      (1)
  kr      (1)

sound  frequency
  a       (5)
  e       (1)
  u       (1)

Syllable-Final consonant:
  n (about 1/6 of syllables end in n)

Old Chanan root words tend to be one syllable; longer words can be up to
four but
average two.

Here is a sampling of Old Chanan roots, which we will encounter in our
etymological discussions:

   ra          change, mutability
   re          divinity, god, goddess, powerful spirit
   ku          evil, harmful
   ju          fetish
   chan        fierce, predatory
   tre         folk
   mun         formidable
   tawe        friend
   ka          good, beneficial
   pa          island
   kan         peace, stillness, silence
   kra         pursuing, chase, hunt, track
   na          spirit
   man         visage, appearance
   la          wind, sweet music (as opposed to war chants)

Some important phrase structures include:

Genitive Construction:

If two nouns are put next to each other, the second should be considered
to be in genitive case with regards to the first.

     CHANAN          TALISLAN
     Noun1 Noun2     "Noun1 of Noun2"

     pa kan, literally "isle peace," means "isle of peace."

Adjective Modification Construction:

Chanan adjectives follow nouns.

     CHANAN          TALISLAN
     Noun Adjective  "Adjective Noun"

     na ku, literally "spirit evil," means "evil spirit" (demon)

Noun Intensification Construction:

     CHANAN          TALISLAN
     Noun1-Noun1     "(intensified) Noun"

     Chu-Chu, literally "Fetish Fetish," means "Powerful Fetish"

Adjective Intensification Construction:

     CHANAN                        TALISLAN
     Adjective1-Noun-Adjective1    "(intensified) Adjective Noun"

     Ka-Re-Ka, literally "Good Divinity Good," means "Wonderful



Nagran voices all its stops and affricates:

     Sound Changes
     p > b
     t > d
     k > g
     ch > j

     OLD CHANAN                    NAGRAN
     na-kra ("pursuing spirit")    na-gra ("Nagra")
     chu-chu ("powerful fetish")   juju


Batrean voices only word-initial stops and affricates:

     Sound Changes
     #_: p>b, t>d, k>g, ch>j

     OLD CHANAN                    BATREAN
     pa-tre (isle of the folk)     batre

Mondre Khanan

Mondre Khanan voices stop+r combinations, and in a strange process, the
affricate ch has been pushed back in the throat, lost its stop, and is
now a velar fricative, represented as kh.  It also lowered U to O.

     Sound Changes
     _r: p>b, t>d, k>g

     mun-tre-chan (formidableness of the fierce folk)



Sawilan has undergone the most radical changes.
The affricate ch has become a palatal approximant, y. All stops have
become fricatives, and in a later development, the velar fricative has
been lost, except between two [a]'s and in the cluster [kr], in which
cases it has become a breathy-voiced schwa, represented as "h". Finally,
the e has been raised to i.

Sawilan, unlike the other Chanan dialects, is usually pronounced with a
varying and musical tone.  This is an innovation, and it seems to allow
the Sawila to express themselves aesthetically and emotionally to a
degree not permitted by the otherwise spare and primitive Chanan tongue.
At least fourteen distinct intonation patterns can be applied to each
Sawilan syllable; further research will be necessary to uncover the
subtle aesthetic-affective semantic values which they convey singly and
in combination.

     Sound Changes
     k>0 except a_:ka>h, _r:k>h

     OLD CHANAN                         SAWILAN
     tawe-la ("friend of wind/music")   sawila
     pa-kan ("island of peace")         fahn
     ka-re-ka-la ("wonderful divinity   ariala (Talislantan "Arial")
                   of wind/music")

Here follows a comparsion of roots and compounds across the different

change                  ra      ra      ra      ra      ra
changing visage         manra   manra   manra   manra   manra
demon                   naku    nagu    nako    nau     naku
divinity                re      re      re      ri      re
evil                    ku      gu      ko      u       gu
fetish                  ju      ju      jo      ju      ju
fierce                  chan    jan     khan    yan     jan
fierceness of spirit    chana   jana    khana   yana    jana
folk                    tre     dre     dre     sri     dre
formidable              mun     mun     mon     mun     mun
formidableness          muntrechan      mondrekhan      muntrechan
 of the fierce folk             mundrejan       munsriyan
friend                  tawe    dawe    tawe    sawi    dawe
friend of wind          tawela  dawela  tawela  sawila  dawela
good                    ka      ga      ka      a       ga
island                  pa      ba      pa      fa      ba
isle of folk            patre   badre   padre   fasri   batre
isle of demons          panaku  banagu  panako  fanau   banaku
isle of peace           pakan   bagan   pakan   fahn    bakan
jabutu plant            chaputu jabudu  khapoto yafusu  japutu
peace                   kan     gan     kan     an      gan
powerful fetish         chuchu  juju    khokho  yuyu    juchu
pursuing                kra     gra     gra     hra     gra
spirit                  na      na      na      na      na
spirit pursuing         nakra   nagra   nagra   nahra   nakra
visage                  man     man     man     man     man
wind/sweet music        la      la      la      la      la
wonderful divinity      karekala        karekala        garekala
 of wind                        garegala        ariala

Here follow a sampling of additional words in each of the languages,
just as examples of phonological structure.

chanpu  janpu   janbu   khanpo  yanfu
trencha drencha drenja  drenkha srinya
prachu  brachu  braju   brakho  frayu
kra     gra     gra     gra     hra
chukra  jukra   jugra   khogra  yuhra
lapa    lapa    laba    lapa    lafa
krata   grata   grada   grata   hrasa
natra   natra   nadra   nadra   nasra
para    bara    bara    para    fara
[....] the rest of the randomly generated words snipped for brevity's

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