81st Ashan, 718
The last few trials have been a blessing Lei'lira thought as she paced along the walls of the bedroom while trying to get Kaien back to sleep.
The movement seemed to soothe her son because his cries gradually tapered off into soft whimpers before he drifted back to sleep. It didn't surprise her that he was feeling out of sorts. They all were. How could they not be after barely surviving the storm that had blown them off course? Not all of them had survived, really. Kaien had died of starvation because she hadn't had enough milk to feed him. If it hadn't been for Faith and Famula...
Lei'lira stared at her tiny son in awe for a few trills before placing him back in his cradle. It was hard to put him down after nearly losing him. But Kaien needed his rest, so she left the room, shutting the door behind her. When Lei'lira entered the kitchen, Teia and the twins were waiting for her with breakfast on the table. Neither she nor Teia had begun to regain the weight they had lost during their time as captives, but after four trials of good, nourishing food, and plenty of rest, they weren't feeling quite as stretched thin as they had been.
"What are your plans for this trial?" Teia asked after Lei'lira had finished eating.
"I need to write to Vivian, and Eri to tell them what happened. But before I do that, I'm hoping to get an idea of how long it will be before the ship is repaired. I think they will be more reassured if they have a better idea of when we will be back in Rynmere."
"Do you want to leave after Kaien's nap, then?"
Lei'lira nodded, but her eyes were troubled. The easiest thing, of course, would be for her to go while Teia stayed behind with the children. Or vice versa. But Lei'lira had never been comfortable with crowds to begin with, and after everything that had happened, she tended to panic when faced with them now. Panicking inevitably caused her either to have a panic attack, or retreat deep within herself...or both. Staying here with the children while Teia went out wasn't really an option either. After being taken out of her own home, Lei'lira was terrified of being alone. And while the presence of the kids meant that she wasn't completely alone, she needed another adult she trusted with her in order to feel completely safe. If anything, being alone with three small, helpless children made her even more anxious; even with Vivian's lessons, she wasn't at a level where she could defend herself or others if she needed to yet. Teia seemed to sense the direction Lei'lira's thoughts were going in because she placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry about it. We both have our own issues to deal with." she said simply.
They fell into a companionable silence that lasted until Kaien woke from his morning nap. Between the two of them, it didn't take long for them to get the children ready for the trip, and a helpful neighbor was happy to give them directions to both Scalvoris Town, and the docks they would need to go to in order to find out about the status of the ship. It was warm, and sunny, making it the perfect day for a walk. The farmer in Lei'lira noted that the weather would make for an ideal harvest if they had enough of it as long as the crops were kept well irrigated.
Although Lei'lira was relaxed and content on the trip to Scalvoris Town, she began to tense as they approached the gate. The noise of the crowd made her nervous, and by the time they were inside, she was a wreck; eyes darting back and forth anxiously as she searched for potential threats. Teia kept a close eye on her friend as she guided them to the docks.
"You're not from around here, are you?"
Lei'lira blinked and looked at the elderly woman who had spoken with a puzzled frown. Some of the words she had spoken sounded similar to words that Lei'lira knew in Common and Rakahi, but there were other words that she couldn't even begin to guess at.
"I'm sorry...?" she began timidly.
The elderly woman chuckled, and repeated herself in Common.
"I said that you're not from around here. Tourists?"
"Umm...no...not really." Lei'lira stammered, not volunteering any further information to the stranger.
It was almost more than she could manage just speaking to the woman. She wasn't about to say more than she needed to until she knew of the woman could be trusted.
"Well, your business is your own, fair enough. If you're interested, I was speaking Scalveen before. Modern Scalveen to be precise. It's the native language here in Scalvoris. Stay here long enough, and you're likely to pick up some of it yourself."
Lei'lira was curious about the language, but she was feeling too anxious to ask about it.
"Do you work here?" Teia asked, knowing that Lei'lira wouldn't be able to.
"Yes. Why do you want to know?"
"A ship was brought in a few trials ago. It was caught in a storm, and blown off course...do you know anything about it?"
The elderly woman's eyes widened as she regarded them with more interest.
"Survivors from that wreck, are you? You're lucky to be alive. My son's working on the repairs. Word is, that ship ain't gonna be fixed til some time next season."
Normally, it would have been better to confirm that information with the repair crew that was working on the ship. But a quick glance at Lei'lira told Teia that her friend needed a break from the crowd. So she thanked the elderly woman for them both, then carefully guided Lei'lira away. Teia tried to reverse the directions they had been given so she could get them back to Beacon, but they were quickly caught up in the crowd, and lost. Fortunately, Teia found a library they could duck into for a while. With luck, the peace and quiet of the library would help to settle Lei'lira's nerves enough that they could make it back to where they were staying.
"Can I help you?" a loud, strident voice asked, making Lei'lira jump, and flinch.
Teia took a few trills to soothe her before turning to the woman who had spoken. It gave her some time to think of what to say. The woman's overpoweringly strong floral perfume made her cough a bit when she tried to speak.
"We're new here, and while on our errands, we met someone who spoke a language we didn't recognize. Scalveen, I think she called it? Yes, Scalveen. Anyway, my friend and I were curious about it, so we decided to stop in and see if we could learn more about it."
It was true...sort of. They both would have been curious about the native language of the island if Lei'lira wasn't so close to panicking.
"You want to talk to Rafe. He's good with languages. Has to be, seeing as he's the linguistic expert and translator here."
Teia thanked the woman, even if she had no intention of seeking the man out. Unfortunately, the other woman forced the issue, leading them over to where a Biqaj man, presumably Rafe was working.
"What do you want, Rose?" the man asked with a resigned sigh.
"These girls need help finding a book on Scalveen."
The unspoken demand that he help them find it made Lei'lira realize that this was a woman who held authority here. When the woman left, Rafe sighed again.
"Well, that's Rose Lefluer for you. She's the head librarian here, so what she says goes. I'll show you where the linguistics section is."
The two women followed in silence as he led them through the stacks until they came to a spot in the back corner of the room.
"This is the linguistics section. And if you want a book on Scalveen..."
The man's fingers ran across the spines of the books on the third shelf until he came to the one he was looking for. He pulled it off the shelf, and offered it to Teia, who took it with a smile and thanked him.
"This is the one you want. You can learn the basics of the language itself from it, and it also gives you some of the history behind the language."
Teia thanked the man again as he went back to work. Lei'lira's attention was on the books. She skimmed the titles until she found one on basic linguistics that reminded her of Kei'iru's friend back in the orphanage in Venora, and one on languages in Eastern Idalos. While she wasn't as interested in languages as the boy had been, she was curious. And it gave her something to focus on and distract herself with while she tried to settle her nerves. Absently, she flipped the book about languages in Eastern Idalos open to the table of contents and read the introduction. The dry, technical language made her lose interest in the book, so she returned it to its proper place on the shelf. But she had learned that in addition to Scalveen, there were two more languages spoken in Eastern Idalos; Omyeric, and G'ni. She also learned that all three languages had both a spoken, and a written aspect. While she had been skimming through the book, Teia had found them a quiet table, and when she had finished, her friend led her to an area where they could read in peace.
Still thinking about Kei'iru's friend, Lei'lira started with the book she'd found on basic linguistics.
People who study linguistics are called linguists.
Lei'lira paused to wonder if Kei'iru's friend wanted to be a linguist when he grew up, or if he simply loved learning new languages.
There are fifty two languages that are currently used in Idalos. Languages are grouped into families that share similar characteristics, and it is easier to learn a language if you are already fluent in another language within the same family. This is because some words are similar between the languages. When learning a new language, it is easiest to start with the basics; the alphabet forms words, and words form sentences. Puzzling out the meaning of words through context is also helpful when learning a new language as it helps to build one's vocabulary.
Once again, Lei'lira thought about Kei'iru's friend, wondering if he hoped to learn all fifty two langiages eventually.
There are three core aspects of linguistics. Those aspects are syntax, phonetics, and semantics. Syntax is is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences in a given language; word order and punctuation in particular. Phonetics is the study of the human ability to make and hear sounds which use the vocal organs of speech, especially for producing oral language. And semantics is the study of relationships between words and how we construct meaning.
The book went into greater detail on each aspect, but it was dry reading, and Lei'lira wasn't interested enough to be able to focus on it in her current state. So she offered it to Teia, but her friend declined politely, saying that she would rather people watch than read at the moment. At Lei'lira's questioning look, she explained that she enjoyed trying to guess at...or make up details of the lives of the people who drew her attention while people watching.
"Take that woman sitting at that table over there. See the way she's glaring at whatever she's reading?"
Lei'lira nodded slowly.
"I think she's reading a letter from someone she has an intense rivalry with. The woman has a dancer's build, so they're probably dancers who often compete for the same roles in performances. And the letter is boasting that her rival just got a lead role that they had both been competing for in a play that will be popular enough to make the career for whoever is in it."
It was like creating a story, using a real person as a "model"...sort of. Lei'lira could see why Teia enjoyed it.
"Well, if that woman is a dancer with a rival, then the kid sitting at the table next to hers must be her greatest fan. See the way she's staring at the woman? She probably wants to apprentice under the woman and learn all of her secret dance techniques." Lei'lira said with a small smile.
Teia beamed at her.
"Now you're getting into the spirit of it! I think you're right about the kid, too."
They continued to people watch together for a few bits. Even Lei'luna got into the game, commenting on a young boy who looked like he might be the first child's brother. But after a while, Lei'lira went back to her reading, feeling slightly more relaxed than before.
Scalveen is a language that has three forms; Old Scalveen, Modern Scalveen, and High Scalveen. Old Scalveen, or Old Tongue was used from arcs 198 – 616. It is now a dead language, found only in old documents, antiques and ruins. It is never in modern conversation. Modern Scalveen, or Pirate Tongue came into being in 616, and is currently used this trial. It is a unique mixture of many different languages, mostly Common, Rakahi, and Old Scalveen.
So that's why I thought I recognized a few of the words that old woman said when she first spoke to us in Scalveen. Lei'lira mused before going back to her reading.
The accent associated with Modern Scalveen is gruff and sloppy. As a result, most people outside of Scalvoris see Modern Scalveen as a low class language; a language only spoken by criminals and sinful people because they only saw it being used by pirates. This made it a very unfashionable language to learn, and gave it the nickname of Pirate Tongue. High Scalveen, or Wimp Scalveen came into being in 716, and is also currently used this trial. It is a clearer, better structured version of Modern Scalveen that came into existence when the Scalvoris Campus of the Viden Academy opened its doors and brought intelligent, cultured travelers to Scalvoris Town. Unlike Modern Scalveen, the High Scalveen accent is crisp and clear which makes it easier for foreigners to hear and translate.
Lei'lira thought about what she had just read for a few bits.
That probably means that people associated with the University in some way all speak High Scalveen, but people who aren't speak Modern Scalveen. And if High Scalveen is easier for foreigners to learn, most probably don't bother learning both forms. So it's probably pretty easy for a native of the island to spot a foreigner.
Lei'lira shared some of what she had learned so far with Teia. Then she began to read once more.
Important words in High Scalveen are often punctuated by a roll of the tongue to give it a romantic flair. Emphasis is placed on the intangible words that sound like their Common or Rakahi counterparts so that those who don't speak Scalveen can hear them and easily guess at their meaning. The change was made purely for the sake of impressing foreigners by charming them with words that sounded fancy and foreign to them yet they could still roughly follow the gist of, making them think themselves smart for having figured it out.
It sounds like people created High Scalveen just to impress foreigners who were coming to the University. Lei'lira mused.
She wasn't sure what she thought about that. On the one hand, it was a smart idea if it drew money to the island. But on the other hand...
I wouldn't like it if someone changed my native language just to impress some foreigners. And I bet that a lot of people here feel the same way.
High Scalveen is seen as exotic and roguishly charming, the language of passionate rebels who flirt with danger by outsiders. But speaking in a High Scalveen accent outside of Scalvoris Town is likely to earn you a punch in the teeth from the locals because it is seen as a betrayal of Scalvoris culture, and people outside Scalvoris Town believe that they should be able to speak as they always had rather than catering to foreigners.
Lei'lira nodded to herself. She could certainly understand the resentment many of the natives must feel about the "butchering" of their language to make it more appealing to people from foreign lands.
I knew High Scalveen was called "Wimp Scalveen" for a reason. she thought.
After the book had finished explaining the history of the language, it got into more practical matters. It discussed the fact that the language's alphabet was similar to the one used in Common, with one notable exception. That was the fact that the letter ‘A’ had two counterparts; the ‘A’ that sounds like ‘a-ye’, like in apricot, and one that sounds like ‘a-ha’, like in apple, have separate symbols, giving the Scalveen alphabet of 27 letters. This gave Scalveen seven vowels instead of the six found in Common. From there, it moved into the basic sentence structure of the language, as well as how verbs were conjugated.
Finally, it gave examples of basic vocabulary grouped together in categories. Numbers were listed as were directional words, words for colors and shapes, a variety of animals and plants, basic verbs, and so on. At Lei'lira's request, Teia left to find some paper that they could use so that Lei'lira could take notes on what she was reading. She thought it was a good idea to know at least a little about the language spoken in the land they were in. That way, if they got lost, they could ask for directions, or read signs if they found themselves in an area where Common wasn't commonly used.