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The Return of Quaelitz

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Saturday, May 8, 1999, 12:08
I thought this one was gonna go the way of about 15 other projects of mine
that never got off the ground.  But after some research on Central Asia
(anybody got a ride to Uzbekistan?) I decided to revive my elven race
(complete with conlang), the Quaelitz.  (Quaelitz comes from Russian
_kvelicy_ and Uzbek _quvalitlar_; the Quaelitz refer to themselves as
_quvalitla"r_, singular _quvalit_.)

They are part of an unofficially recognized (as of yet) nation called
Quaelitistan, scattered discontinuously throughout central Asia (former
USSR; also Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Xinjiang) and around the Caspian
Sea.  They are elves, members of the species _homo sapiens sylvanus_, and
live well in both taiga and steppe.  Though shorter, thinner, and physically
weaker than their human counterparts, they are very intellegent and agile,
and their average life expectancy is in the range of 100-120 years.  They
are fair-skinned, but have straight dark-brown hair and very deep dark brown
eyes, making them a very alluring race.  The females are believed by many in
lore to be houris, the fair maidens of paradise in Islamic belief.  (They
can and often do intermix with humans, and half-elf stocks are quite
accepted in Quaelitz society.)

These are the elves of legend, who endured invasions by Alexander the Great,
Chingis Khan, Tamerlane, the British and the Russians.  Though a peaceful
and joyous people, they are fierce fighters, very skilled with the short
sword and the bow.  Their combat skills are coupled with an ancient martial
art (which was influenced somewhat by East Asians), which includes a
rigorous mental discipline that enables the Quaelitz to "berserk", that is,
to fight to the death without fear or sense of pain.

The Quaelitz were originally nature-worshippers practicing a Druidism-like
religion.  For over a millennium they have been almost universally (95-98%
today) Sunni Muslim, but have developed a highly mysterious strain of
Sufism, and have close ties to the Naqshbandi of Chechnya.  This has greatly
influenced literature, poetry, and song (mostly influenced by Persian), and
the bard-like epic singer is the mainstay of the Quaelitz folk culture.
(Their songs could be described as Celtic music on Asian instruments like
the santur, the ney flute, and the sitar.)

The Quaelitz do not have a native language, because they do not normally
communicate verbally.  Eye contact coupled with manual and corporal gestures
and even touch is the main form of intraspecial communication.  However, in
order to communicate with humans, they developed a Turkic-based speech,
which later became a Perso-Turkish pidgin, with much Arabic, Mongolian,
Russian, and English borrowing.

Originally, the Quaelitz wrote in a runiform script used by ancient Turks
(found in the Ko"k Tu"rki inscriptions).  Later, with the arrival of Islam,
Arabic script was adopted, but a move towards Latin script began in the 19th
century.  Those which lived in the Soviet Union adopted a Cyrillic script
with added letters.  In the post-Soviet era, all three modern scripts are
used on a wide scale, but many tribal leaders are pushing for a universal
Latin orthography.

Quaelitz is inherently an agglutinative language with some inflective
features inherited from Persian (but remember, Modern Persian has greatly
simplified its grammar and adopted a lot of Turkish affixing conventions).
Though a lot of Arabic broken plurals appear, these do not function as
merely plurals but as singulars based on collective notions, so a word like
_boyut_ means "village, community, subdivision" where _bayt_ means "house";
the simple plural would be _baytla"r_.

The vowel system is like that of modern Persian and there is no vowel
harmony.  (This makes the language not too different from Uzbek in that

Here is the Quaelitz phonlogy in Latin script, which uses Common Turkish

Stops   Labial  Dental  Palatal Velar   Uvular  Glottal
-V      p       t       c, /tS/ k       q       " /?/
+V      b       d       c /dZ/  g
Fric -V f       s       s, /S/  x
+V      v       z       j /Z/   g^ /G/
Nasals  m       n               n~ /N/
Liquids w       l   r   y /j/

The double apostrophe <"> indicates a glottal stop (Cyrillic hard sign and
Arabic-Persian _'eyn_).  The single apostrophe <'> means the preceding
consonant is palatized (Cyrillic soft sign).  <c,> and <s,> are cedilla
consonants, <g^> has a breve accent above it, and <n~> has a tilde.  There
is phonemic distinction between <v> and <w> but functional yield is very low
and they may be no minimal pairs.  (Arabic words like _wa_ "and" contrast
with Russian words like _vodka_ "spirits".)  Also, <j> is almost never found
except in non-Persian/Turkish words like _jurnal_ "newspaper".  Phonemic
distinction with <c> /dZ/ is also very unstable.  <r> is sharply trilled as
in Scottish English, not merely tapped as in British English.  Doubled
consonants are avoided.

Vowels  Front   Back-Rd
High    i       u
Mid     e       o
Low     a"      a

Of course, <a"> has diaeresis ("umlaut").  (Some use the inverted "schwa" e
instead, which just happens to be Azeri convention.)  There is no length

And here are the )tentative) _saylar_ "numbers":

0  nol (or sefr)
1  bir
2  eki
3  uc,
4  tort
5  bes,
6  alti
7  yeti
8  sa"kiz
9  toquz
10 on
11 on bir, etc.

I should be able to get a lot of words and morphemes (that is, the sundry
suffixes) from Common Turkic, since I got Sergei Starostin's growing
database handy (this thing is AWESOME; he's got Chinese, North Caucasian,
Altaic, Dravidian, and Afro-Asiatic is currently in the works.)  Also my
brief study of Farsi last year will come in handy.

So finally I got some things to keep me busy for once.


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