Endless Blue – Week 127 – Lingual Ticks – Impediments of the Elquan Tongues   Leave a comment


Lingual Ticks — Impediments of the Elquan Tongues

Communication is the foundation for everything in the Endless Blue. Without the ability to communicate, culture and technology cannot blossom. You must be able to teach concepts, convey intention, in order to pass knowledge from one individual to the next, from one generation to that which follows. This is the purpose of speech.

Each of the Fluid Nations has developed speech, and by nature of isolation or remoteness, the languages differ significantly between these populations. Even those with origins in ancient aquelan have, over time, evolved in divergent directions. This is how languages become different.

With intelligence comes the ability to learn, and since languages are a primary method of conveying meaning, it was natural that neighbors would pick up the native tongue of other neighbors in order to better communicate. Bordering homeseas are better off knowing the language of their neighbors, to better facilitate trade and commerce, to warn of danger, or express thanks.

However, despite the willingness to learn or aptitude for speech, some languages of the Fluid Nations can never be truly mastered by foreigners because their very structure is predicated on physical morphology to accomplish — the very shape and arrangement of jaws or voice box make it impossible to duplicate in foreigners without that very same morphology. Two of such languages are Lumulan and Cetacean Sonal.

By the Clicking of Their Tongues

Lumulan language utilizes several non-larynxial consonants, called fricatives.  In writing, all of these sounds are represented by the same symbol, an apostrophe: .  Lumulus produce these sounds by either clicking the carapace around the mouth together or by pressing the tongue against parts of the mouth. Hence the ease of detecting a non-native speaker — the mouths of other pisceans simply cannot move in these ways.

Lumulan employs a group of phonemes called “click consonants”. These sounds are usually formed by , and are represented in these texts with a single apostrophe (‘) for simplicity’s sake. However, the symbol actually encompasses a range of sounds:

ʘ The Bilabial Click – This is the most common click consonant used in the Lumulan language, and consists of smacking the lips together. With the chitinous skin of a Lumulan, this results in a tapping or clacking sound, while the same action done by others with soft fleshy lips results in a slurred, mushy sound of lip smacking.

| The Dental Click – These clicks are formed by placing the tongue against the front teeth, forming a vacuum with the tongue, and breaking the vacuum by pulling back the tongue. It is sort of a “tut” or “tsk” sound associated with disapproval, or the sound made to draw a cat’s attention.

! Alveolar Click – These clicks are made by strongly pressing the tip of tongue to the ridge of the mouth and pulling down sharply so the tongue smacks the lower jaw. This would be the best known form of click consonant the reader has experienced.

ǂ The Platal Click – A loud sound, like a snap, made by flattening the tongue against the roof of the mouth and pulling it down sharply. It is more of a lip-smacking sound that the “tock” of an alveolar click.

ǁ The Lateral Click Similar to the Dental Click, but the tongue is placed against the ledge along the roof of the mouth leading to the soft palate, a vacuum is formed, and the tongue pulled back. It sounds like the sound made when urging a horse forward.

The Retroflex Click – This sound is made using the tongue to squeeze against the top of the mouth, forcing sound out. It is somewhat like the “th” sound, but shorter, akin to a squirting noise.

ˀ The Glottal Click – This is a sharp clap of the vocal cord, similar to a shortened choking noise. It is notable due to the variation of its pitch, which can be modified by shaping the mouth wider or narrower and raising or lowering the jaw.

˭ The Unaspirated Click – Literally, this is a snap of the jaws or teeth. In many, this click consonant is painful to perform, but the sharp impact of mandibles is the intention of the phoneme and thus a dead give away of a non-native speaker.

Duets Sung Solo

Versesingers are the pride of the Cetacean race. Their ability to sing two or more concurrent notes is legendary. An Orcan can accomplish this because they posses an organ called a syrinx as well as a larynx.

The syrinx is located at the base of the trachea, at the point where the trachea branches into the lungs. By vibrating the walls of the trachea, it produces sound.  Either by tensing or easing the muscular tissue, sound can be modulated between deep bass and high treble.  The potential range is an impressive five octaves, and is how accomplished Veresesingers can generate the two-or-more distinct tones at once.  It is this physical feature that makes it impossible for any other race to qualify as a Versesinger — they simply do not have the necessary organs.

The inability to reach all eight keys, thus preventing the speaker from utilizing all of Cetacean Sonal’s verb tenses, is considered a speech impediment in native Orcans. This isn’t to say that speaking Sonal requires perfect pitch; just that it requires a vocal range that most have trouble even reaching.

Cetacean Sonal come from solresol, an ancient music-based language from the dawn of memory. It is said to be the language that the Verse was sung in, with the First Verse issuing in the existence of Elqua and the Last Verse signalling its eventual final demise.

The Polyglot

Childish urban myths abound in the depths of the Endless Blue. From folklore of the Anemoi to the manifestation of the Idolatry, stories thrive on ideas that challenge the accepted state of life as we know it. There is rumored to be an individual that knows any word ever spoken, that has the ability to speak every language ever known. Known only as “The Polyglot”, this individual has garnered a whispered reputation across the waters.

It is said the Polyglot is a transpiscean — someone who believes the piscean form is not inherently divine as adherent to the Piscean Form proclaim and instead believe it not only can be improved upon through mortal means, but should be improved, it must be. Embracing Resurrectionist grafts normally reserved for paraplegics as a means to true linguistical mastery, the Polyglot had a syrinx implanted in the throat, and his jaw replaced with chitinous plates.

His goal, so stories go, is to posses the Kopia Accidence, a relic upon which was written tracts in aquelan, solresol, and the strange ichtoglyphs that served as the written language of the forgotten Icht Dominion. How this is of value to him is debatable — the contents of the Accidence is little more than bureaucratic transactions. It could be the Polyglot wants it for no other reason that it’s importance in breaking the impenetrable cryptography of ichtoglyphs… or maybe there’s something hidden in the fractured hexagonal tablet?

Icthara’s Tongue

Upon first glance, this item appears like a broach in the shape of a trilobite. Finely multi-jointed, the broach can flex, even undulate, in an agile, fluid manner.

The dark of the item is it is a curse thing. It is believed these accursed items were created as punishment for those excommunicated from the Ictharan Church, whose crimes were so vile as the clergy deemed the waterworld is better off never hearing them uttered ever again.

To be used, the “victim” must have his tongue removed. Then, inserting the broach into the mouth head first activates the magic. The broach animates and immediately clamps down, grafting itself on the stub of the severed tongue, in effect replacing it. It maintains every bit of the original tongue’s flexibility, and actually improves upon it.

The grafted tongue grants the knowledge to speak any language the victim is exposed to, but they are still subject to physical impediments for Lumuluan and Cetacean Solresol. Meaning, while the victim understands and can speak the two languages, they will never sound like a true native speaker due to their physical limitations (obviously a Lumulan victim would be able to speak Lumulan and an Orcan speak Orcan without detriment, but chances are they would have already known those languages before bearing the tongue).

These items grant a bonus to persuasion to the bearer, and the tongue turns silver when this bonus is employed. However, the tongue will turn inky black when the bearer utters a lie. These abilities make the victim’s intentions obvious to anyone observant enough to look for clues. On top of this, should the victim ever come under any kind of compulsion magic, the tongue becomes even more devious — it makes it impossible to utter a known lie, yet the black coloration will always indicate they speak untruths.

Finally, the tongue enables the victim to identify any ingestible poison through taste, but does not immunize them from the poison’s detrimental effects. This would find them in high demand for food tasters, if not for the aforementioned flaw of forced fraudulence.

The Whisper in the Waves

This is a new phenomenon from the hinterseas around the Known World. Some lone individuals claim to have seen “dark water” come from beyond the Spine of the World, a thick, viscous liquid that swallows up all water and light. Reports claim whole settlements have been swallowed up by this mysterious liquid, but when investigations have been conducted, the settlements seem to have never existed, and no trace of this indigo remains.

The rumors have begun to spread across the bordertowns, claiming a “whisper in the waves” precedes the indigo washing over the settlements. This sounds much like the incantations of Cruor Druids, who control the Red Tides, and will often attack remote locations in a similar manner. However, the Red Tides are no mystery — they are algae blooms whose toxic emanations kill all life. Buildings are left behind intact, and the red tide has a short life cycle, thus leaving behind telltale clues to the culprit.

The Indigo operates differently, with no individual seen to summon the blight. The whispers on the waves cannot be described well, either. They are obviously voices, speaking some unknown language that has no equal or connection to the tongues of Elqua. It is an ethereal murmuring, emanating from nowhere yet audible even inside the deepest basement. The whispers sound longing, yearning for something, reaching out even as the ichor of the Indigo spreads over a community and capture it in its grasp. Few have the chance to react to the sound, let alone evacuate their homes and escape their fate.

Words are pretext, sweet promises of a perfect future
That sour when misunderstood,
Turn bitter when used in lies,
That sting our soul like salt in wounds,
And we savor each moment they linger in our ears…

— a Versesinger vocal exercise

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