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Alzhedo, the Language of the Calishite People

SvarSvar Member Posts: 157
Below are all of my notes on the Forgotten Realms language Alzhedo, which is spoken principally by the people of the desert nation of Calimshan (such as our friends Khalid, Rasaad, and Safana).

This is a grammar of the language based upon what data I could glean from the Forgotten Realms Wikia’s Alzhedo Dictionary, with additional material invented by me partly based on what I know about Arabic and Persian.

This is an ongoing project, so feel free to make suggestions or point out things I haven’t accounted for. My goal is to create a functional version of the language for all to use and enjoy.

I will be creating a much expanded Alzhedo dictionary sometime soon, so that everybody will better be able to use these rules I have laid out.

Pronouns

Nominative:

mazh - I , maanazh - we
ato - you , shato - you (pl.)
uzh - he , unhazh - they (pl.)
uzh - she
uzh - they

Genitive:

mazha - my , maanazha - our
atat - your , shatat - your (pl.)
uzha - his , unhazha - their (pl.)
uzha - her
uzha - their

Accusative:

maz - me , maanaz - us
atuh - you , shatuh - you (pl.)
uz - him , unhaz - them (pl.)
uz - her
uz - them

Pronouns are never omitted in Alzhedo, in accordance with the focus in Calishite culture on names and proper address, unless one is speaking informally, in which case omitting “I” is common and I is generally only used for emphasis. Unlike the languages of many neighbouring cultures, Alzhedo makes the distinction between subject and object usage of its pronouns. To signal that someone is the object of a sentence, the final sound of the nominative (subject) form is alveolarized (zh → z) or relaxed (o → uh) to make the accusative form.

Nouns

Known Canon Alzhedo Nouns:

akkhani – load-bearing corner piece holding up a dome
alimarif, -a – learned stranger
amhir – naval commander
amlak - police officer
amlakhan – police station
annuv – a symbol or gesture of respect denoting unmentioned titles
askar – soldier
bakkal – high priest
balak – colonel
caleph – king
cestys – spiked knuckles
chawal – lieutenant
dahyarif, -a – misplaced stranger
deen (pl.) - coins
djawal – knight
drudach – precinct
druzir – drudach leader
dyram – arm
enaza – spear
enhir – tribune
ghadabaan – anger
ghanni (pl.) - guards (or collective guard)
gharab – foreigner
hakkam – governor
hamaad – war medal
harakh – rebellious/criminal activities (slang)
hydar – lion
jaarnadah – city
jambiya – dagger
jhasin, -a - concubine
jhasinnadha – harem
jikholnar – handaxe
katar – knife
khamarkha – family mausoleum
khamarnari – tomb of fire
khanduq – enclosed warehouse/marketplace
kholnar – axe
lumal – dung
malik – prince
mameluk - warrior slave (gladiator)
markhout – tomb
massatyr – baron
mitalib - wealth watcher (banker)
mujah – intruder
mumijin – lieutenant colonel
murabir – warlord
musadhyar (pl.) - hapless folk
musar – sergeant
nadim – club
nadhari (pl.) - non-slaves
nallojal – navy
nar'ysr – phoenix
nataf – cord
nazir – prefect
pajabbar (pl.) - horns
palintrike – a hybrid breadfruit/grape
pasha – guildmaster, clan leader
qayadin – general
qysar, -a – emperor/empress
rafayam, -ar – exalted sir/madam
ralbahr – admiral
rif, -a – stranger
ruaiis – count
rysal – naval captain
sadhara – desert rose
sabban – district
sabbalad – district leader
sabbaladah – sabbalad’s villa
sadidah – garrison
saddimin (pl.) - powerful swords, the Calishite army
sadidrif , -a – powerful stranger
saref – centurion
satrap – provincial governor
sayedotta – cat woman
scimitar – scimitar
shaani – poor leader (taken from a name)
shanate – duchy
sharakh – lowly thief
shyk – major
sikaena – knife
solbar – bright steel
tabarif, -a – honourable stranger
trika – wine made from palintrike
vizar – chancellor, advisor
wedna – ear
yadhi – hand
yanat – estate
yestaadi – huntress
yrshelem (s. and pl.) - coin collector
yshah – duke
yuzas – army captain
zel – shadow


Nouns are perhaps the most complicated part of Alzhedo. They come in many different forms and have a certain degree of grammatical gender (referred to as such due to associations with the endings of actually gendered words). Old dialects of Alzhedo made heavy use of gender, but it has been slowly phased out, to the point where modern Alzhedo has barely any word gendering and the Feminine and Masculine noun categories are mostly just for organizing grammar rules. It can be hard to know if certain unfamiliar words are singular or plural, because some singular forms look like plurals.

There are two sets of regular plural rules based on “gender”:

Feminine

Final a, ah, and e add r.

Final p, b, t, d, k, q, s, and z double and add ar.

Final ph, dh, ch, kh, sh, and zh add ar.

Masculine

Final i adds n. (except ni, which simply drops the i)

Final f, v, and m add in. (except em, which stays the same)

Final n doubles and adds i.

Final l, r, and u add i.

The possessive is formed using the prepositions al and el, both meaning “of” or “of the”, although it’s becoming more common to just use el regardless.

Al is used before “feminine” words.

El is used before “masculine” words.

Ex.: katar al mameluk – the gladiator’s knife, dyram el tabarif – the honourable stranger’s arm

The only exception is when the possessor is referred to by pronoun.

Ex.: mazha zel – my shadow, unhazha caleph – their king

Word Order and Formality


In informal speech, the order is typically Subject Object Verb.

In formal speech, however, the main verb comes first in the sentence.

Ex.: Ato najhum. - You succeed. (informal) vs. Najhum ato. - You succeed. (formal)


Formal speech, because it shares structure with commands, is generally reserved for those in a position of power. Someone who outranks another person they are talking to will speak with formal style. If that person replies with informal style, it is an acknowledgment of the other’s superiority and a show of due respect.

Replying in formal style is a tricky business, because it can be taken a number of ways.

It can be a power play, saying that “I am your equal”, which can be met with respect, particularly between two members of the same social class, but if a person of clearly lesser rank does this, it will most likely be taken as impertinence and be responded to harshly. It is extremely taboo for a slave to use formal style, even amongst other slaves, being the lowest caste in Calishite society as they are.

Informal style, when used by both parties in a conversation, is a show of familiarity or casualness.

Verbs

Alzhedo verbs are incredibly regular and change their endings based on who is doing them. To conjugate a verb, take the -at ending of the infinitive (the dictionary form) and swap it out with the ending you need.

Present

I -am , we -nam
you -um , you pl. -ush
he -ad , they pl. -ahk
she -ad
they -ad

Ex.: daashad – he stops, sefornam – we listen, khasahk – they want

Past

I -amda , we -namda
you -umda , you pl. -ushna
he -adna , they pl. -ahkda
she -adna
they -adna

Ex.: tamaashumda – you watched, zhamaladna – she worked, mashamda – I walked

Past Perfect

I -amdat , we -namdat
you -umdat , you pl. -ushnat
he -adnat , they pl. -ahkdat
she -adnat

they -adnat

Ex.: fazhtumdat – you have made, jharamdat – I have run, yakalnamdat – we have eaten


Future

I -ym , we -nym
you -em , you pl. -esh
he -yd , they pl. -yhn
she -yd
they -yd

Ex.: naamyhn – they will sleep, tadhakym – I will remember, qaresh – you will read


Future Perfect

I -ymat , we -nymat
you -emat , you pl. -eshat
he -ydat , they pl. -yhnat
she -ydat
they -ydat

Ex.: qatemat – you will have written, shakaarydat – they will have thanked, javeshat – you will have answered

To negate a verb (i.e. say that the thing is not being done), simply add the prefix na-.

Ex.: zanam - I know vs. nazanam - I don’t know


The imperative mood (a command) is made with the ending -ah.

Ex.: darsah – study!, gozashah – die!, daraftah – flee!

The interrogative mood (a question) is made with the ending -si.

Ex.: zistadsi – does he live?, nasyumdasi – did you forget?, baazhamdatsi – have I sold?

The subjective mood (a theoretical idea) is made with the ending -eesh.

Ex.: intazumdateesh – you might have waited, yapdadeesh – she might begin, ghaadusheesh – you might leave

Adjectives

Known Canon Alzhedo Adjectives:

alima – learned
dahya – misplaced
jhasin – handsome
jhasina – beautiful
muzha – shady
sadid – powerful
taba - honourable
tamra – greedy


Alzhedo adjectives are placed before the thing they are modifying, even in compound nouns.

Ex.: sadid pasha – powerful guildmaster, dahyarif – misplaced stranger


In older dialects of Alzhedo, an adjective had to agree in gender with its noun, but modern Alzhedo has no need of this. Usually only old and/or pretentious people will insist on following the outdated rule. Most people just use the feminine form, regardless of the gender of the noun, although masculine forms are sometimes used because they’ve developed a slightly different flavour of meaning.

Adverbs

Adverbs are typically made by adding -di to the end of an adjective (or just -i in the case of ones that end with consonants).

Ex.: tabadi – honourably, jhasini – handsomely, tamradi – greedily

Adverbs always come directly before the verbs they modify.

Ex.: jhasinadi fashiramda – I failed beautifully, uzh muzhadi wazhadadnat – he has promised shadily

Articles

Alzhedo does not have articles (the and a). One must rely on context to know which is meant.

Pronunciation and Spelling


Alzhedo pronunciation is rather difficult for those learners who come from languages with simpler sound sets. There are many sounds in this language that most others do not have. Fortunately, words are generally always pronounced the way they are spelled.

Reference examples here are given with Standard American English in mind.

Vowels: a, e, i, o, u, aa, ee, ii, ah, uh, and yh

a – like the exclamation “ah”
e – like the vowel in “bet”
i – like the ea in “mead”
o – like the exclamation “oh”
u – like the oo in “too”
aa – like the a but held a little longer
ee – like the i but held a little longer
ii – like the ee
ah – like a but with a slight h sound following it
uh – like the u in “put” but with a slight h sound following it
yh – like i but with a slight h sound following it

The Semi-Vowel: y
Before a constant, it sounds much like an i would.
Before a vowel it sounds like the y in “yes”.

Consonants: b, c, ch, d, dh, f, g, gh, h, j, jh, k, kh, l, m, n, nh, p, ph, q, r, s, sh, t, v, w, z, and zh

b – as in English
c – like the k in “kit”. Considered archaic and only occurs at the beginnings of words or after an initial s
ch – like the ch in “chat”
d – as in English
dh – like d but with a slight h sound following it
f – as in English
g – like the g in “get”
gh – like g but with a slight h sound following it
h – as in English
j – like the j in “jam”
jh – like j but with a slight h sound following it
k – as in English
kh – the back-of-the-throat k like sound rarely found in English but in borrowed words like “loch”
l – as in English
m – as in English
n – as in English
nh – like n but with a slight h sound following it
p – as in English
ph – like f but with your teeth not quite touching your bottom lip
q – keep the back of your throat closed like you’re going to make a g sound, but try to make a k sound instead
r – rolled
s – as in English
sh – like the sh in “fish”
t – as in English
v – as in English
w – as in English
z – as in English
zh – like the s in “Asia”

Aspiration

Aspiration is where a puff of air is added to the end of a sound and is typically represented as an h. There are a few aspirated vowels an consonants in Alzhedo.

The vowels are, as seen above, ah, uh, and yh.
The consonants are, as seen above, dh, gh, jh, and nh.

We aspirate letters all the time in English, but we don’t notice it because there’s no difference in meaning either way. In Alzhedo, however, aspiration can mean the difference between saying father (baadim) and saying cow (baadhim).

Punctuation


Alzhedo has a unique bit of punctuation called an annuv, which is a written representation of a hand gesture done during speech to respectfully indicate that a certain number of a person’s titles have been omitted (usually for brevity’s sake). The gesture is a rotation of the left hand towards one’s heart. The more rotations, the more titles are going unmentioned. In writing, this is shown with ~ after a person’s name, stacking like ≈ and so on, with each omitted title.

Ex.: Pasha Takhat yn Faheed → Takhat yn Faheed~

Post edited by Svar on
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