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Alexandrian Language

Kuling Oðinsson

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#1
*The original documentation this guide is based off is attached at the bottom of the post.

Alexandrian Language: A Primer

This is just a simplified version of the original documentation.

Where is Alexandrian spoken?

Alexandrian is spoken in Alexandria, mainly in the Heartlands and the Southern Reaches, and is a common second language in the Northern Reaches, with a strong presence in Counties Winterstede and Bytteholme. Alexandrian is similar to other languages spoken around the Mediterranean Sea, and has regional varieties that can't be understood by speakers of the standard form of the language.
 

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Kuling Oðinsson

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#2
What sounds does Alexandrian have?

Alexandrian's sounds vary based on the dialect, so here are the ones for the "standard" pronunciation.

Alexandrian has twenty sounds, with eleven consonants and nine vowels. Some of the sounds are the same as in English, others are slightly different or don't exist in English. The consonants that are the same as English are: m, n, d, and r. The consonants that are different are b, z, g, h, `, th, and x.

B in Alexandrian is similar to that of English, except that it's pronounced similar to an F. In order to make that sound, it's like a regular B, except your front teeth touch the back of your lower lip like you're making an F, otherwise it's the same, where you just close your mouth. In the North, this is pronounced the same way as in English.

Z in Alexandrian is the same sound "s" in "vision", which you might also be familiar with as a French J or written as ZH. In the North, this is pronounced as SH, and in the South as an S.

G in Alexandrian is a bit different, because it's similar to a G in Dutch. To pronounce it, you make that sound in German that people refer to as that harsh one, or the CH in "loch" if you pronounce it the Scottish way. Once you can do that, try saying it with voice, which is the same difference that makes sounds like T and D different (they are pronounced the same except for that one difference). In the North, this is pronounced the same as the German way in Holmgarde, but as an English G in most other rural areas.

H in Alexandrian is not terribly hard, but to do it correctly, you want to make it sound like your voice is hoarse for the right affect. The South has silent H's.

` in Alexandrian is a sound that we use in English a lot, but not to make words, so we often don't think of it as a consonant. It's the sound in uh-oh, referring to the hyphen in particular. If you know a bit of linguistics, it's called a glottal stop, and you'll often see it in Polynesian languages, as evidenced by the apostrophes in Hawai'ian that are used as the letter for them. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, say "uh-oh", but pay attention to when you say "oh". You'll probably feel something in your throat when you say it. In English, we use the glottal stop to separate consecutive vowels that are pronounced separately, and you'll also see it as the TT in "butter" if you speak with an accent related to a southern English accent. Ask George to say "butter" to find out what I'm talking about. The TT sound in "butter" in American and Canadian English is a different sound that is actually the same sound as the Spanish R. It's called an alveolar tap.

TH is the same as in English, but you have to be careful about it. Again, the idea of voicing comes up again. The TH in Alexandrian is pronounced as the same as in "the", as opposed to the TH in "teeth". You can figure out if you're voicing something if you put your hand to your throat and you can feel a buzzing there. Try saying P and B, T and D, K, and G. You'll soon get the hang of it. Other languages sometimes show this relationship by writing those sounds with the same letter, just adding an accent on it to show that there is voicing on it. Japanese uses dakuten and handakuten.

X is not a sound you'd encounter in most European languages, so the best way to explain it would be to tell you to try purring like a cat. If you want to hear an audio clip of it and a nerdy description of it, if that helps, then look up "uvular trill" on Wikipedia. In the Heartlands, this is pronounced as a regular English R, unless your character is educated. Note that this isn't the correct pronunciation in the Crownlands.

On to vowels: Alexandrian has A, E, I, O, U, Y, W, and AU.

A is the A in "ash". In school they probably called this a short A.

E is pronounced as a long A, but without the "ih" sound at the end of it. In the Heartlands and South, it is pronounced like the E in "red", which is different.

I is pronounced like EE in "beet".

O is pronounced like O in "no", but you have to be careful to not make that W sound at the end.

U is pronounced like OO in "boot".

Y is the short I, like in "bit". If you're more linguistically minded, it's not exactly that sound, because it's centralised like the E in "roses". It's basically an unrounded high central lax vowel.

W is the U in "push", though the same note applies here too, if you want to do it 100% correct, it's like the E in "roses", but round your lips like a U. This is a rounded high central lax vowel.

AU is the A in "father" or "fox" if you speak with an American East Coast accent. Ignore the "fox" example if you speak British English, or Australian English.
 

Kuling Oðinsson

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#3
How are the words ordered in Alexandrian?

Surprisingly similar to English, actually! Different word order and little endings to words often prove to be the hardest part of learning another European language, and I've taken care to make sure you don't deal with it that much. I mean, it's not like Chinese, where there's nothing, but it's definitely an improvement off of Spanish, German, or Russian.

I'm going to have to introduce some vocabulary here so that this post doesn't take as much space. So. A subject is the person who does an action, and it comes at the beginning of a sentence in English. The verb is self-explanatory, you learned that in school. The object is what the thing being done happens to. If "Josh kicked a noob", then Josh is the subject doing the kicking, and the noob is the person no longer on the server, ergo the object.

Now on to the main topic. English requires you to always have the subject at the beginning of the sentence, while Spanish for example doesn't. Spanish doesn't need to because the verb ending tells you who's doing what so it's not necessary. English doesn't have specific enough verb endings, and so ignoring the subject makes the sentence kind of vague. An odd consequence of this is the "it" in "It rains." There's nothing raining, something is just happening without anything doing stuff. Because nothing is actively trying to rain, you don't have to add the "it" in Alexandrian. If it doesn't exist, why add a meaningless word?

In Alexandrian, do keep note that what is called the passive voice doesn't exactly exist in the same way it does in English. In English, if you want to say that something happened to something without giving the information of who did it, you would say "X was Y'ed by Z". In Alexandrian, the idea is that if you didn't do it, you're not the subject, so the previous sentence would be "[Z is implied] Y'ed X by Z."

To make a sentence negative, just add the word "bu" to the beginning of it.

Sentences otherwise are generally done the same way as in English. If you don't speak a non-European language, then this probably seems like a vague statement, but trust me when I say that other languages make sentences in completely different ways. Some languages put the words in an order backwards to English, or put phrases that start with "that" in front of the word they describe, or have verbs that act as adjectives. One of the things that got me into linguistics is the interesting variety of ways you can communicate the same information, just depending on how a language does it. If you ever get explained how a sentence in Chamoru or Korean, or Finnish works, you'll know what I mean; it's extremely confusing the first time around because it never occurs to you that sentences could be logically formed like that. A side note to remember is that if you don't learn a language that's different from English, any conlang you make is doomed to be just English with different words.