Kuyʔūn/History and context

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Genealogy

  • Ndak Ta (c. -1900 YP)
    • Adāta (c. 0-200 YP)
      • Kuyʔūn (c. 1200 YP)
        • Upper Kuyʔūn (Aylatu dialect)
        • Middle Kuyʔūn (Mešmo dialect)
        • Lower Kuyʔūn (Cexotúri dialect)

Historical background

For millennia the Xōron Eiel had been a domain of nomadic peoples, organised as clans of a few dozen to a few hundred people, which were in turn regarded as belonging to one of several ethnicities we might call 'tribes'. These peoples roamed the steppe on horseback, leading their robust cattle to fresh meadows every few weeks. In a few extraordinarily fertile places along the Eigə and its tributaries they had villages which practised some agriculture, but in general their lifestyle was pastoralist. During the 'Dark Ages' after the fall of the Ndak Empire, some of these tribes had had empires of their own, occasionally conquering lands as far downriver as Lasomo or Buruya, but usually did not manage to control the civilised Edák peoples for long. By the time of the Dāiadak prophet Zārakātias, the Xōron was what it had always been: a sparsely populated grassland, fairly uninteresting politically or economically.

The situation changed a few centuries later. Word had reached the steppe that the most powerful neighboring nation, the Empire of Athalē centered on the Rathedān highlands to the south, had gained much of its power by trading goods between the Tjakori region on the other side of the highlands and downriver countries of the Eigə valley such as Lasomo and Huyfárah. The Habeo chieftain Šokamɨsanaʔ, whose tribe ruled over almost the whole valley of the Tawɨʔɨya river, decided to participate in that power. Since the Tawɨʔɨya headwaters bordered Tjakori territory, it was fairly easy for him to establish a trade route to Lasomo which bypassed the Rathedān - all he had to do was ensure control over the Habeo and Meshi tribes inhabiting the portion of the Eigə below the Tawɨʔɨya confluence. What he had not foreseen, however, was the fierce reaction of the Dāiadak: In 326 YP, the new Athalēran emperor Texozonon I invaded the lower Xōron in order to ward off this unwanted competition. A series of wars commenced, with borders fluctuating for more than a decade. In the end, the Habeo could not stand up to the well-trained Athalēran army. By 340 YP the entire Xōron Eiel had been incorporated into the Empire of Athalē.

Dāiadak garrisons were established at major strategic points, and settlers soon followed.


To Be Continued...
Cedh is still working on this section. The contents are incomplete and likely to undergo changes.

Dialectology

As mentioned before, Kuyʔūn exhibited significant dialectal variation between the three relatively isolated main population centres, each of which bordered territory dominated by different native languages of the Habeo and Meshi families. The following section attempts to give a quick overview about the characteristics of each dialect.

Cexotúri dialect

Cexotúri (Ad. Tikhōdōzē) was located at the confluence of the Thabīa river into the Eigə, only 200km northwest of Khalanu. As a result, the inhabitants of this town had far more opportunities to interact with people from the middle Eigə or from the Dāiadak heartland in the Rathedān. This was clearly evident in the language: Firstly, Cexotúri was the Kuyʔūn dialect that contained the largest percentage of words of Dāiadak origin, both inherited (i.e. not being replaced by non-Dāiadak loans) and borrowed (from neighbouring Dāiadak languages such as Mavakhalan and Adhāsth). Secondly, its phonological system was rather conservative, preserving several contrasts that were lost in the more remote dialects but present in Mavakhalan, e.g. distinct /ɸ x h/ where Mešmo and Aylatu had only /ʔ/, distinct /l ʎ ɹ/ where Mešmo and Aylatu had only /l/, and distinct /n ɲ/ where Mešmo and Aylatu had only /n/. For some other phonemes the Cexotúri dialect also retained a more conservative pronunciation, such as [θ] for Mešmo/Aylatu ł (the primary source of which was Adāta ). Thirdly, it featured a few innovations more in line with Mavakhalan than with the rest of the Kuyʔūn dialects, such as the merger of XVA *q *k, the replacement of phonemic vowel length with a quality-based seven-vowel-system /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, and the creation of nasalised vowels.

Phoneme inventory of Cexotúri Koyhǫ:

  • /p t ʦ ʨ k ɸ θ s ɕ x h m n ɲ l ʎ ɹ β̞ j/ - p t c č k f θ s š x h m n ň l ľ r w y
  • /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/ - i ê e a o ô u
  • /ɛ̃ ɑ̃ ɔ̃/ - ę ą ǫ

Aylatu dialect

Aylatu (Ad. Eieliatus) was the smallest and most remote of the Kuyʔūn-speaking cities, located in the heart of the Xōron Eiel. Over half its population natively spoke a variety of Habeo, with Kuyʔūn holding the position of lingua franca of a precarious economical and political elite. Accordingly, the speech of Aylatu showed the strongest Habeo influence of all three major Kuyʔūn dialects. This was most obvious in the huge portion of borrowed vocabulary, but also in the phonological structure of the language: Aylatu Kuyʔūn had collapsed more distinctions in the phonemic inventory than both sister dialects, especially in the vowel system which distinguished only three qualities. It made up for this with some additional palatalisation before XVA *e eː, by a more frequent use of diphthongs, and by a more thorough retention of vowel length distinctions in unstressed syllables.

Phoneme inventory of Aylatu Kuyʔūn:

  • /p t (ƛ) ʦ ʧ k q ʔ s ʃ m n l ɬ w j/ - p t (tl) c č k q ʔ s š m n l ł w y
  • /i a u iː aː uː/ - i a u ī ā ū

(The phonemic status of tl is debatable since it did not contrast with [plosive]+/ɬ/.)

Mešmo dialect

The dialect of Mešmo (Ad. Meximō), a town at the confluence of the Meshi river into the Eigə, forms the basis for this grammar sketch and will therefore receive the most detailed description anyway. It was in many respects intermediate between the dialects of Cexotúri and Aylatu, sharing most vowel developments with the former variety and most consonant developments with the latter one. Among its unique features were a true four-vowel system with contrastive length, the retention of word-final h from Adāta s (which merged with š for most speakers in rural areas, the resulting phoneme being pronounced as [x~ç]), a high frequency of glottalised resonants (from underlying clusters), and the adoption of many Meshi loanwords.

Phoneme inventory of Mešmo Koyʔōn:

  • /p t ʦ ʧ k q ʔ s ʃ (h) m n l ɬ w j/ - p t c č k q ʔ s š (h) m n l ł w y
  • /i ɛ ɑ o iː ɛː ɑː oː/ - i e a o ī ē ā ō

(The phonemic status of h is debatable since it was in complementary distribution with /ʔ/.)