the great vowel shift

So there’s been some talk in the area of Humans Being Weird about human languages and how they’re bizarre and hard to learn and there’s like a million of them.

Well, one of the reasons languages are weird is because they change all the goddamn time. And I’m not talking huge linguistic changes like the Great Vowel Shift, where everyone in Southern England started pronouncing long vowels differently for no apparent reason. I’m talking "cool” meaning “sophisticated” in the 1920s, meaning “singular/unique” in the 1960s, and meaning everything from “fashionable” to “attractive” to “impressive” now - while also continuing to mean “below average temperature.” I’m talking slang.

A lot of the time, we talk about language developing and changing slowly over time - like the Great Vowel Shift, which happened over the course of 300-600 years. But slang doesn’t develop slowly - it’s not even generational most of the time. Five years ago, “dank” meant musty and cold, now it means “of high quality.” In another five years it might mean “flavorful” or “glamorous.”

One of the hardest things for non-native human speakers of another language is slang, colloquialisms, and idioms. That difficulty would have to be multiplied for an alien without even a basic context for how human language works.

What if there are species without even the concept of slang? What if they only have the one word for the one thing, with no differentiation? It would probably mean that it would take them a while to learn multiple words for the same thing; long enough that by the time they’ve mastered the use of the word “street,” it means something completely different than what they’d initially been taught.

And you know what that means?

It means that all aliens would be your dad trying to sound cool.

✧World of Mages Spellbook✧

A little bird told me: a spell to make birds deliver messages

A place for everything, and everything in its place: teleports target to its rightful place

An Englishman’s word is his bond: binds an oath with magic, breaking the bond makes your hand cramp up and you would loose your voice for a few weeks

And we all fall down: makes the target fall to the ground

April Showers: re-blooms flowers

As you were: returns a broken/misplaced object to its original state

Back off: pushes someone away from you

Back to start: resets something to its original state

Be our guest: the guest of a home will become immune to all dangers created inside the house

Bend over backwards: makes the target bend over backwards uncontrollably

Candle in the wind: Increases stamina, but can backfire by creating a fire you can’t put out

Cat got your tongue: effects unknown, a “wicked spell,” most likely vanishes one’s tongue temporarily

Clean as a whistle: cleans off the dirt you can see from the target

Come out, come out, wherever you are: makes something hidden appear

Dead in the air: kills everything flying in the air within a certain radius

Don’t worry, be happy: calms the target down

Early to bed and early to rise: a healing spell

Fine tooth comb - _____! : finds a particular phrase/name from a book

Float like a butterfly: allows the caster to float to the ground effortlessly

Get well soon: a healing spell

Hair of the dog: to cure a hangover

Have a break, have a Kit-Kat: crumbles rocks

Hell hath no fury: conjures large amounts of controllable fire

Helter skelter: A children’s spell to make things go flying when throwing a tantrum

Here ye, here ye: to make one’s voice carry 

Hurry up:  makes vehicles move faster

Hush little baby: calms the target down 

Into thin air: to vanish a mess

It’s show time: reveals something hidden

Ix-nay on the atford-Way: the victim will be unable to talk about magic to any Normal

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home: for casting out pests and mice

Let there be light: conjures light around the area

Make a wish: extinguishes a flame

Make way for the king: clears traffic from a road while driving

Nonsense: a spell for scared children, for sweeping away practical jokes and flights of fancy

Olly ollly oxen free: makes something hidden appear

On love’s light wings: to make a person float, only works if you understand the Great Vowel Shift of the Sixteenth Century and if you’re stupidly in love

Open Sesame: opens doors dramatically

Out, out, damned spot: removes stains, especially blood and “unspeakable things”

Paper beats rock: When the spelled paper hits the target, they become unconscious (not sure about this one?)

Resistance is futile: makes the target stop resisting

Run for your life: gives the target stamina to run quickly away from danger

Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you: reveals something hidden

See what I mean: enables the caster to write in the air with their finger

Simon says: feeds magic into the target to give them the ability to cast a spell

Some like It hot: warms food and beverages

Stand your ground: spells one’s feet into the dirt

Stay put: to keep your hat in place on your head

Stay the course: puts a car in “auto-pilot” while driving

Take it away: to vanish a mess

The lady’s not for turning: a spell to be used in combat, especially for women, effects unknown

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: forces out honesty

There’s nothing to see here: to refocus attention

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for: hides something out of view

Twinkle, twinkle little star: teleports the caster to a space-like world? 

Tyger, tyger, burning bright: immolates the caster in a burst of flames

U can’t touch this: barrier spell, only works if the threat knows the song

Up, up and away: teleports/levitates an object to a desired location, should not be used on humans, because you can accidentally pull out their lungs through their shoulders

You’re getting warmer: warms the target

Your attention please: to attract attention

this is every spell from Carry On by @rainbowrowell ! this took so long but it was worth it!

the signs as romantic Carry On quotes
  • Aries: It's a hard spell and an old spell, and it works only if you understand the Great Vowel Shift of the Sixteenth Century- and if you're stupidly in love.
  • Taurus: Baz looks back at his phone, bored. “Fell in love, didn't you?”
  • Gemini: I step closer to him, and my voice drops to a menace. “Why? So we can tumble around and kiss and pretend to be happy boyfriends?”
  • Cancer: I think I might kiss him. He's right here. And his lips are hanging open (mouth breather) and his eyes are alive, alive, alive.
  • Leo: Sharing a room with the person you want most is like sharing a room with an open fire.
  • Virgo: “No,” he says quickly. “I do.” He clears his throat. “I don't want you to leave without me.”
  • Libra: I meet his gaze and sneer. My arm is a steel band around his waist. “I choose you,” I say. “Simon Snow, I choose you.”
  • Scorpio: “I won't,” I say. “I've never turned my back on you. And I'm not starting now.”
  • Sagittarius: “Who needs magic,” Baz says. “I'm going to turn you into a vampire and make you live with me forever.”
  • Capricorn: “This,” I say. “I want to be your boyfriend. Your terrible boyfriend.”
  • Aquarius: Can I be in love with a supervillain?
  • Pisces: “I was eleven years old, and I'd lost my mother, and my soul, and the Crucible gave me you.”
Spells mentioned in Carry On

Note: TSE stands for title self-explanatory. 

Note 2: I’m leaving out the songs and nursery rhymes.

1.       Hurry up: TSE

2.       Stay put: TSE

3.       Candle in the wind: Viagra (NB: if you mispronounce a syllable, you can set something on fire)

4.       Out, out, damned spot: getting rid of things

5.       Take it away: TSE

6.       Into thin air: make something disappear

7.       Some like it hot: heating something up

8.       Stay cool: calm down/remain calm

9.       Keep it together: TSE

10.   Suck it up: TSE

11.   Steady on: TSE

12.   Hold fast: TSE

13.   Olly olly oxen free: ??

14.   Come out, come out, wherever you are: TSE

15.   As you were: undo a spell

16.   It’s show time: reveal hidden things

17.   Scooby-Dooby-Doo where are you: search for something

18.   A little bird told me: send a message by bird

19.   Dead in the air: kill birds

20.   It is what it is: (Simon’s attempt on a spell)

21.   The lady’s not for turning: combat spell, especially strong for women

22.   Hair of the dog: cover someone in dog hair

23.   The game is on: TSE

24.   The game is afoot: Same reaction as The game is on (?)

25.   See what I mean: write in the air

26.   Answer me: TSE

27.   The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: an extreme version of Answer me

28.   You don’t have to: TSE

29.   Open Sesame: open the doors and make a great entrance

30.   Early to bed and early to rise: healing spell

31.   Get well soon: healing spell

32.   Stand your ground: spell someone’s feet into the dirt

33.   Cat got your tongue: mute someone (?)

34.   A place for everything, and everything in its place: clean up/make things disappear

35.   I wish I could fly: fly

36.   Nonsense: undo magic/healing spell

37.   Ix-nay on the atford-Way: don’t talk about Watford

38.   Ix-nay on my ue-feelings-tray: don’t talk about feelings

39.   Make a wish: think of something and it can happen/appear (?)

40.   April showers: make flowers bloom again

41.   Tyger, tyger, burning bright: suicide

42.   U can’t touch this: barrier spell (NB: won’t work unless they know the song)

43.   There’s nothing to see here: hide something

44.   Hear ye, hear ye: carry a voice

45.   Fine-tooth comb – [word]: look for something in a book/text

46.   Be our guest: protect someone in your house

47.   Clean as a whistle: the dirt you can see disappears

48.   Shut up: TSE

49.   Make way: TSE

50.   Make way for the king: extreme version of Make way

51.   Doe/A deer: call a doe/deer*

52.   You’re getting warmer: warm something up

53.   Time flies: make time go quicker (NB: only works when you’re having fun)

54.   Stay the course: calm down

55.   Up: fly

56.   Away: fly

57.   Back to start: healing spell

58.   Back off: defensive spell

59.   Paper beats rock: chaos (?)

60.   Have a break, have a Kit-Kat: crumble stuff (?)

61.   Let there be light: lights on

62.   Please, please, please: TSE

63.   Let me, let me, let me: ??

64.   Up, up, and away: levitate stuff (NB: don’t use this on people)

65.   And we all fall down: TSE

66.   Run for your life: TSE

67.   Hell hath no fury: shoot with fire

68.   Don’t worry, be happy: calming spell

69.   Hush little baby: calming spell

70.   Head over heels: combat spell

71.   Hit the floor: combat spell

72.   Resistance is futile: break down protective/combat spells (?)

73.   Bend over backwards: combat spell

74.   Helter skelter: chaos

75.   On love’s light wings: fly (NB: only works when you’re stupidly in love and you also need to understand the great vowel shift of the sixteenth century (thanks, anon!))

76.   Simon says: give someone named Simon magic (?)

77.   Stop it, stop hurting me: TSE

78.   These aren’t the droids you’re looking for: hiding something

2 more songs, 1 nursery rhyme.

*Might be a song? (Sound of Music)

EDIT: Thanks to @lovemelikesunday sending me a couple of asks. 

  1. answer me, you don’t have to, and I wish I could fly belong on the list, but perhaps with the caveat that they’re spells only Simon could use. Although they aren’t actually magic words Simon was able to imbue them with magic because he is so powerful (and uncontrollable). They won’t work for any other magician.
  2. Paper beats rock possibly only works against numpties and/or if you have paper to stick to something. I’m rereading and haven’t made it to that part again but I think it was used to freeze them temporarily.
  3. Hair of the dog isn’t specifically for covering someone in dog hair. Again, Simon isn’t great at magic and sometimes means things too literally. It’s a healing spell for hangovers.
  4. I noticed a couple other things as well, I hope you don’t mind! Dead in the air isn’t specifically for killing birds. Simon accidentally killed the birds because he’s incapable of regulating the strength of this spells. I think it’s used for stopping/bringing down/killing whatever is in the air around you.
  5. Olly olly oxen free is a searching spell. When you say it whatever you’re searching for is supposed to come out/reveal itself. It might only work on people, idk.

@lit-poet added:  “Olley Olley Oxen free” is what kids used to say when they were playing hide and seek but wanted to quit and for everyone to come out. So it’s basically “You can come out now!”

@irishpadfoot added:  Number 41 is incorrect. It burns things.

@snowflake-soup and @sagemeryllisbanks added: doesn’t make a wish extinguish fires? cuz people always say make a wish before you blow out birthday candles?

Also,  “answer me” and “you don’t have to” aren’t really spells, Simon just accidentally put magic into the words and they took on a spell-like quality. It’s just one of the flukes that’s involved with being the greatest mage .And yeah, that’s what Make a Wish does^^^

i think i believe i can fly also falls into the fluke category

@lucete-stellae pointed out that stop it stop hurting me is one too.

anonymous asked:

Heya! I REALLY love your writing like adagdfhdgsfa I love it. Buuut... Could I request an one-shot in which s/o is a part of a theater club, and so is Kuroo, and they get the roles of a couple? That has to do couple-y things on stage?? And they go to each other's houses and end up making out? Sorry, it's complicated ^^

Dudes, literally, the History of the English Language is the worst thing in the world. Avoid any class like it at all costs! And because I’m so tired of staring at how the great vowel shift works, I decided to let my procrastination seep through some more!

So, Anon, this idea is so freaking adorable! I can see Kuroo in a drama class in college or something and this ends up being their final project and just YES. This is everything I need right now.


Initially, he hadn’t wanted to be a part of the theater club. He was a sports guy, always had been, so when it came to acting he was… subpar to say the least. But Kuroo gritted his teeth despite what he wanted and dealt with what he needed to do to make up the lost credits and joined the drama club.

Never in his seventeen years did he think that doing so would lead him right to them. They who approached him with a request to practice lines and pressed him until he agreed even when he protested that he couldn’t act. “It’s fine,” they had answered, handing him a copy of the script, “it’s just a cold read anyway.” It was where he learned the ropes of the stage - both literally and figuratively - as they guided him through each role and step that went into producing something performed live. They were the one who kindled this fire inside his belly for the theater through their passion; it was intoxicating.

And, in the end, it was them who had convinced Kuroo to audition for the co-lead role with them.

“I can’t act,” he reiterated instantly as his eyes scanned over the lines of the script. There were so many… it was frightening to imagine memorizing all those words. And then what if he messed up while in front of an audience? “I can’t do this.”

They laughed though, taking his phone to plug their address into it. “That’s only because you’ve never tried,” they made it sound so easy. Like it was just a mindset and not something that one was gifted with. He supposed it would be simple for them to assume such, acting came as naturally as breathing to them. “Come to my house this weekend and we’ll rehearse.”

Which is where Kuroo was now deciding that the drama club was certainly the best thing that had even bombarded into his life. His mouth was pressed hot against theirs as he pushed them back against the wall of their bedroom. With a fuzzy mind, he couldn’t quite tell you all the details in that moment. Just that they had speaking, the air hot with their tones, all conveyed feelings they drew from the characters they were playing. Then their bodies were coming together, the heat remaining even though he was sure they were no longer embodying the personas of the two they were rehearsing for. They were just two individuals who needed each other to breath.

Their tongue trailed along his lip before their mouth dropped away entirely to start a hot path down his throat. A groan emerged, one in which he didn’t even attempt to stop himself from producing and his hands were gripping tightly at their hips. Parted lips released a shuddered breath and then he was speaking before he could even think about it: “I forgot my line,” the words were breathless, completely unrelated to the circumstance that was happening in that moment and he quickly found himself panicking when they froze entirely.

Laughter came next as their head dipped to press into his shoulder, their hands using him as leverage as they glanced back at him with a new glint to their eyes. “Then let’s go off script, shall we?”

Borrowing, Diachronic Sound Change, and "Gentil".

Hey everyone! I’m going to tell y'all something that totally blew my mind the other day. So we’re doing borrowing in my historical linguistics class, and here’s one of the examples my professor gave. So background info: English was conquered by the Normans at one point (not sure of the actual year), which is why our structure and sound systems are Germanic (English is a Germanic language) but have so many French and Romance loan words in our vocabulary. So the word gentil, French for nice, kind, etc. was borrowed into English four different times:


That’s not even the cool part. The cool part is we can actually tell the relative order in which the borrowing happened. So the general principle of linguistic borrowing is that when you’re looking at borrowed words, the longer they’ve been in the language, the more they’ll look and sound like words native to the language they were borrowed into, and vice-versa, the later they were borrowed, the less time they’ve been in the language, the more they look like the language they were borrowed from.

So take the modern French pronunciation of ‘gentil’, it’s something like /ʒã'ti/, with stress on the second syllable, and no pronounced /l/ at the end. But, we can tell by the spelling that there was once a pronounced /l/ at the end, which was lost. Well, out of all four words above, which of them doesn't pronounce the /l/ at the end of the word? That’s right, jaunty is the latest borrowing of the word.

#4 jaunty (was imported into English around 1600)

Next we look at the vowels. One of the most major sound changes in the English language was the great vowel shift, which happened around the 16th or 17th century. I won’t explain all the changes here, that’s what Google is for, but it’s basically the reason English 'five’ is pronounced /faiv/ and not /fiv/. The main difference between 'genteel’ and 'Gentile’ is the second vowel. We can tell that 'Gentile’ was in the English language before the vowel shift, because the /i/ in it was shifted, making it older than the next oldest word, 'genteel’. Notice that apart from 'jaunty’, 'genteel’ sounds the most like the modern French pronunciation.

#3 genteel (around 1600)

#4 Gentile (around 1400)

And finally, I don’t quite remember all the justifications my professor gave for knowing 'gentle’ was number 1, but notice that the /l/ at the end is syllabic, and very strongly pronounced. Combine this with the fact that the first vowel is very different from the modern French pronunciation, and you can tell that 'gentle’ is not only pronounced like very old French, but also that it is super “nativized” into the English language.

#1 gentle (imported as early as 1200)

This is why I think diachronic sound change and historical linguistics are so cool, if you learn the types of changes, you can use individual words like little time machines! 

Charlie Hunnam, Rhoticity and Raleigh Becket; OR, Good Sir, What Even Is Your Accent?

I am not a linguist, nor am I any sort of articulation or phonology-affiliated professional. That stated, my collegiate area of study was English Writing, which included multiple linguistics and language-history classes, I am a native speaker of North Midland American English, and I have beyond-passing familiarity with French language and speech pathology. What follows is a theory, and it may not be a popular one, but I just can’t take it anymore: I have to talk about Raleigh’s (and therefore Charlie Hunnam’s) accent, and how it pertains to characterization.

Hold onto your butts. We’re gonna get meta.

Keep reading

The linguistics of Harry Potter

Ugh okay I am so sorry that I have to drag linguistics into everything, but while I was watching Fantastic Beasts, I realized that, realistically, in the Harry Potter universe witches/wizards (at least those in Britain) would have their own language. Like it’s not just a speculation, it is literally the principal expected outcome of the arrangement in which the wizarding community exists - witches and wizards have lived in almost complete isolation from the muggle world for at least centuries, with the only major interaction with the muggle world occurring through squibs, muggle-borns, and intermarriage - all of which are shown to be (at least historically) fairly heavily stigmatized. This is a clear recipe for the development of a separate language. Jewish communities across the world developed their own languages even while interacting with their gentile neighbors; the numu blacksmith castes/ethnic groups of West Africa developed distinct languages even while conducting business with other ethnic groups on a regular basis. In a community as closed-off, endogamous, and secretive as the wizarding world, it wouldn’t just be a matter of the unique vocabulary, metaphors, and cultural refrences that would develop - though those in themselves would be enormous - the profound isolation from broader society means that the sound changes and grammatical developments occurring in mainstream English simply would not spread to the magical community. What you’d see spoken at Hogwarts would be a distinctive sister language of modern English, with numerous conservative features (perhaps the Great Vowel Shift never occurred in the speech of the wizarding community) as well as many new, innovative traits unique to their language.

Now, the situation in America depicted in Fantastic Beasts might be a little more realistic. Witches and wizards from diverse European countries would have formed the basis of the American wizarding community, as well as recent Asian immigrants and the witch/wizard descendants of enslaved Africans, as we can see in the film. All would have brought over their different languages, whether or not the magical community in their country of origin was closed-off enough to have developed their own dialect or language. And no, they would not have developed a creole, that only occurs under very unique and often extreme circumstances. Rather, they likely would have all adopted mainstream American English as a lingua franca and eventually forgotten their old languages after several generations, which pretty much corresponds with what we see in the film. Although even then they’d probably still have a bit more unique vocabulary and maybe more unique accents, relative to non-magical American English, than depicted in the film, because the American magical community is still closed off to muggles/no-majes as well.

I love this site. I devote great care and attention to posts that struggle to crack a hundred notes, then turn around and put a whole five minutes of thought into a “relatable” shitpost about being immortal and losing your favourite pun to the Great Vowel Shift, and that gets thirty thousand reblogs.

That’s… fantastic.

Kinuk’aaz Phonology and Orthography

I’ll be introducing you to the Kinuk’aaz language of the Omec bit by bit over the course of the season, and today I thought I’d start with the fun stuff: the sounds and the writing system.

The original version of the language sounded way different. It had the long vowels, but it had a lot more consonant clusters and a different phonetic inventory. Kevin Murphy wanted it to be more…more, if that makes sense. He wanted it to really stand out. I told him I’d have to open up the phonemic inventory—bring in some sounds that’d be tough for the actors to produce—and he said, “Do it.” This was the result:


  • Plain Stops/Affricates: p/b, t/d, ts/dz, k/g
  • Glottal Stops/Affricates: t’, ts’, k’, q’, ʔ
  • Fricatives: v, s/z, h
  • Approximants: l, ʀ
  • Nasals: m, n, ŋ*, ɴ*

Some notes on the above. The sounds above are written in IPA, and the romanization I used with the actors is identical, save that [ʀ] is written r and [ʔ] is written ’ (also, [ŋ] and [ɴ] are just written n, as they’re predictable allophones of [n]). You’ll notice that, comparatively speaking, this is a small phonemic inventory. That was done on purpose. In particular, there’s a dead scar running down the ol’ “palatal” column. This language has no palatal sounds whatsoever. I think that helped to distinguish it from the other Votan languages quite nicely.

The most distinctive sounds above are the ejectives and the trilled uvular r. I think the latter especially is one of the most noticeable features of the languages, and Kindzi in particular trills it beautifully. The q’ sound is probably the rarest, and that’s because it really is quite difficult for English speakers, and I figured poor Nichole and Conrad were going to have a tough enough time with the rest of it. Before leaving the consonants, if you’ve never seen or heard an ejective before, an ejective is just like a voiceless obstruent pronounced while holding your breath. Try it with t and see how different it feels. It’s like the consonant becomes a weapon and you’re trying to kill someone with it.

Okay, now for the vowels!


  • High: i/iː, y/yː, ɨ, u/uː
  • Mid: e, ø, o
  • Low: a/aː
  • Diphthongs: ia, ai, øy, oy

Those are the vowels. Long vowels are written doubled, otherwise everything is written as its IPA symbol suggests, aside from [y], which is written ü; [ø], which is written ö; and [ɨ], which is just a predictable variant of i. This should look pretty French or Greek, because it basically is. If you’re wondering why there are no long mid-vowels, it’s on account of the “I’m never writing a romanization for English-speaking actors featuring ee or oo” sound change. No matter what, those digraphs will be pronounced [i] and [u], respectively. That’s all right, though. It was all part of a fairly extensive “Great Vowel Shift” that happened in this language which you’ll see a bit of when we get to the orthography.

This was the first Votan language to use front-rounded vowels or long vowels. I thought the long vowels came out pretty well, but both actors had a tough time with the front rounded vowels. I think they proved to be an annoyance. Oh well.

For the rest of the phonology, I’ll just do a bullet point summary of some of the highlights:

  • Generally the last syllable of the root is stressed. Verbs end up taking one to two suffixes routinely, though, so it often sounds like stress is penultimate or antepenultimate. It’s usually the nouns where you consistently hear word-final stress.
  • Stops/affricates all simplify to plain voiceless at the end of a word. For example, the word for “language” is nuk’aaz, which is just the word for “tongue” with an augmentative suffix on the end. The word for “tongue” is nuk.
  • The old vowel *u goes to v all over the place.
  • Obstruents undergo progressive voicing assimilation, so a word-internal cluster like *sd could come out zd.
  • Syllables can begin with a consonant followed by an approximant or v maximally. Syllables can end with a single consonant only (note that ts, ts’ and dz count as a single consonant).
  • High vowels lowered to mid vowels after q’ and the old implosive consonants *b’ and *d’. More on this later.
  • Where a word-final obstruent became voiceless, the previous vowel lengthened.
  • The vowel changes are too numerous to list. Some key ones: *ai > e; *ae > ai; *ee > ii; *uu > üü; *oo > uu; *ou > uu unless it was the end of a word, in which case it became ov.
  • Consonants can occur as geminates. They also undergo two types of mutation which I call N-mutation and V-mutation. You’ll hear a bit about that below, and it’ll make more sense when we talk about morphology.

There are some other odds and ends, but that’s the gist of it. With that done, let’s turn our attention to the orthography.


The Kinuk’aaz orthography is called Zaduusel, which translate as “writing”, basically. Unlike the rest of the Votan writing systems, Zaduusel is a fully alphabetic writing system—with a couple of quirks. Before getting into it, though, let me give you a little of the background on it.

I created three writing systems for three other Votan languages (Irathient, Castithan and Indojisnen), and I have always felt (and will always feel) EXTREMELY fortunate that I was afforded the opportunity to do so. It absolutely blows my mind that I was not only able to create these systems, but that the art department ran with them. My entire life I’ll never be able to thank everyone for that opportunity. That’s why when I was told at the outset that we would not be needing a writing system for the Omec language, I was disappointed, but there was no way I was complaining. I mean, three writing systems in one show?! That’s enough for a lifetime.

At that point in time, I didn’t even bother giving it a second thought, because I was busy enough creating the language. That was my entire December and January plus parts of November and February. I was already into script translation when Suki Parker, one of the amazing creative individuals working in the art department, e-mailed me and asked me if I was creating an Omec writing system. I said that I was told it wouldn’t be needed, but that if the art department felt differently, maybe they could run it up the flagpole. That was at the end of January. I’d entirely forgotten about that exchange when I got another e-mail from Suki in April: The Omec writing system was a go!

Considering how late in the game it was, I was actually shocked and delighted to see it in episode one. But anyway, my point in sharing this is that I owe the creation of the system to Suki, and to the powers that be above her who gave it the okay, and I couldn’t be happier about it. At the outset, I didn’t even entertain the possibility that I’d get to do it, so it was awesome to see the situation turn all the way around.

In designing the system initially, I asked Suki for some interior shots of the Omec ship for inspiration. After playing around with shapes, I had to decide on the system itself, and I decided to do an alphabet. I did so for a couple reasons. First, I wanted every aspect of the language to emphasize how non-connected the Omec were to the other Votans. The other Votans all use palatals in key places? The Omec would have none. The Votans use base-20? The Omec would use base-10. The Votans have syllable-based writing systems? The Omec would have an alphabet. The second reason is that since this request came in April, I would not have all the time in the world to font and kern. Alphabets have fewer characters which means less to create and code. Plus, I wanted to turn this thing around quick as a thank you to Suki and Steve Geaghan and the rest of the wonderful art department that made this happen. An alphabet just made sense.

Of course, I couldn’t make it just an alphabet…

So, enough with the introduction. Let’s get to it!

The Zaduusel alphabet is written from left-to-right (because the programs hate anything different. Lord, I have stories trying to format Arabic in The Art of Language Invention. I’ll tell them one day when I’ve recovered), but it can be written from top-to-bottom effectively. The art department was always bugging me about being able to write stuff from top-to-bottom, and none of the other Votan writing systems work well written that way, so I wanted to make double sure this one would!

Each letter of the Zaduusel alphabet is shown below (this table is in Zaduusel alphabetical order going from left-to-right and from top-to-bottom):

Ignore that little half-box between z and l (lousy screenshot… Taking a picture of everything it sees…). Here are the notes from above:

  • * These are the implosive phonemes that are no longer in the language. Both d’ and b’ are pronounced like their regular voiced counterparts d and b respectively.
  • † These are the original long vowels that are now pronounced differently. As a reminder, what was *ee, *oo and *uu is now pronounced ii, uu and üü, respectively.

But yeah, otherwise, that’s it! Unlike for the other Votan languages, you can use that chart to write whatever in Zaduusel. The only catch is the system of mutation.

All consonants in Zaduusel have four distinct forms:

  1. Plain Form
  2. Imperfect Form
  3. Perfect Form
  4. Geminate Form

The four different forms aren’t always pronounced differently, but they’re almost always written differently. When these forms are used is something I’ll discuss later. For now, the Imperfect Form is basically n + C; the Geminate Form is a doubled version of the consonant; and the Perfect Form is used sometimes when a consonant comes between two vowels. Below are two tables illustrating all four forms for each consonant:



Looking above, you’ll notice that m and n have Geminate Forms in the imperfect. That’s actually what’s used when you need an Imperfect Form for m or n. There exists an actual Imperfect Form for both characters, but these are analogized forms that are only used in formal writing. (Kind of like the umlaut in words like coöperate, which is really only used by The New Yorker.)

Otherwise, here’s the number system:

The Plain Forms are all shown with a leading zero. Essentially, numbers are broken up into three number chunks with a comma separating each chunk. The first number in a chunk gets the little flippy-doo on the left, and the other two numbers are written in their plain form.

And lastly, here are the punctuation marks used in Zaduusel:

I don’t really know what the stroke is for, but it had a purpose when I invented it…

Anyway, that’s the system! It writes fairly well with an edged pen. Here’s one of the pages I used as I was designing the system:

Kind of fun to write. Anyway, tonight is the third episode of Defiance season 3! I hope you enjoy it! Things just keep heating up.

Favourite spells in Carry On:
- “U can’t touch this” (barrier spell that only works if the one hearing it knows the song. The dragon did not)
- “These are not the droids you’re looking for” (diverts attention)
- “Come out come out wherever you are/Scooby doobie do where are you” (finding spells)
- “easy come easy go little high little low/carry on, carry on” (revival spell)
- “on love’s light wings” (flying spell, only works if you understand the 16c Great Vowel Shift and if ur really in love. Baz u great sap)

wow! okay this semester I am taking Chaucer and literary theory as my two major classes and they are both VERY HARD and seemingly unrelated but I am getting… so much out of them already? when I first decided to major in literature I thought “okay cool I’m gonna read some poetry, some good novels, maybe a little Shakespeare, learn to write about reading, etc.” but I never realized just how much I would actually be learning like… Chaucer and theory actually go together so well bc last semester I took Shakespeare which was Early Modern English and now I’m studying Old English + Middle English and the history of The Great Vowel Shift and just how languages develop and I’m SO EXCITED I feel everything clicking for me like!!! I wish I could double major in linguistics but it’s too late now… but god okay thinking of language as history is incredible and mind blowing and also connects to German class and like ALL TEXT IS HISTORY even this even a tweet even the way we spell a single word! so in Chaucer I’m looking at language in the smallest way and then in theory and criticism I’m looking at it in the BIGGEST way like the principles of aesthetics and literariness and the concept of an author or a text and how to read and WHY to read and I’m reading philosophy and history and basically EVERYTHING ABOUT ALL OF ENGLISH IS COMING TOGETHER and I can feel the gears in my tiny lil head churning so hard I think smoke is coming out of my ears and corners of my brain I’ve never thought to use are being dusted off! I LOVE my major and I LOVE school and language and art and poetry and uhhh I’m very happy thank u universe for allowing me to study the best thing possible and grow and ask questions every day and challenge myself all the time! I love my future and I love academia and I love what I’m learning and when all else fails me I still get to study the coolest thing on earth so that’s pretty nice

When Homestuck Meets Grammar
  • Me: Whenever I read about "The Great Vowel Shift" in our text, I think of it as the vowels scratching their session and being replaced by their Guardian vowels. Now when it reads pre- or post-Shift, I read it as pre- or post-Scratch
  • Friend: Hahahahahaha I approve so hard.
  • Me: Hahahahahahaha YES
  • Me: ...
  • Me: LORD