Unahoban, the language of the Bird Lords

Abstract

Unahoban ("From here") is a dead tongue, spoken in the great empire of the same name that existed in the old days, before the Sural u'Ianalai, the "Embrace of the North Wind", more commonly known just as Sural. Thus, the history of this people dates from the years âra Sural, "before (the) Embrace".

[Note: I hope to link a chronology and history of the Unahoban people soon. Consider all of this as work in progress.]

The focus of Unahoban

Languages form according to the way of thinking of their speakers. That's why japanese enforces different "familiarity" models, and that's why inuit language has many forms of "snow" (though this is actually an urban legend).

Unahoban reflects the culture of the Unahoban people, and focuses in several things. A few brief notes:

  • Unahoban people severely discriminate women. They are considered, depending on the time and place, to be from second-class citizens to personal property of the males. Poligamy and "harems" were common. The masculine forms of verbs evolved in the late stages of the language to be the "courteous" form, while the feminine form was sometimes used as an offense if used with a man. There are a lot of subtle uses of these "gendered verbs".
  • There are castes. The higher class of the Unahoban descended from warriors (the Oilani) that dominated a few other ethnicities. This higher class is the high caste, the warriors and land-owners. Below them are the priests and "masters of crystal" (girtunon, in Unahoban), sort of alchemists and scientists. Below them are the burocrats and the artisans. Below them are the farmers, herders, hunters and other people that live from "what earth grows". And below them, slaves.
  • Family is very important for the Unahoban. They are very hierarchical, with the father in top. Older men are kept in a special place too, not so high as the father but also respected. Families are usually more like clans, formed by several families with the same name. The head of the "top family" is the leader of all the clan, and their children are, of course, higher in the social scale than the rest of children. Warriors are just below the head of clan. Women don't count very much for the Unahoban social scale.

    Personal names reflect this: they are composed by the family name first, and then the common name. This common name many times reflects the place this person has in that family, and there are names meaning "first child", "second child", "heir of the family" (not necessarily the first child), "child of a minor wife" (a concubine; they were so common that there were also names for "second child of a minor wife" and so on), "adopted child", "nephew of the clan head" and a few other ones. Names of parental relationship in Unahoban are a science unto themselves. As clans were big, patronymics (or different family names, in case of big clans) were used when speaking about people of the same clan, and matronymics inside one man's house to differentiate among children of several mothers. The "full name" of someone would be very, very long.

    Family/clan names were more in the line of "normal" names, saying something about that family: their place of origin, the qualities of their founder, etc.