There is in fact only one single Instarrian language
, spoken by Instarrians
, with local variations in accent within the huge Offwhite City
and also a distinct colonial accent and slang.
There are, however, three dialects of the one single Instarrian language:
- political class (aristocracy)
- religious (not in the same category as the others, will be explained below)
There are letters, or at least components of words with pictorial representations. The yowels and some other letters are common between all words, the remaining consonants split into two groups that can't be mixed within a single word.
So "Yavu" is a possible word because Y is a masculine letter and A, V and U are shared, but "Yatu" is an illegal construction because Y is a masculine and T a feminine letter.
The yowels include the single letter AU, which is pronounced like the "ou" in "hound", but for much longer.
2.1. Normal dialect
The regular language. A normal sentence goes Object Verb Subject, for example "a sandwich buy I".
2.2. Aristocratic dialect
This is exactly the same grammar and vocabulary but with a much greater restriction on form
. Aristocratic dialect is entirely metaphorical with multiple layers of meaning. As such, and because meanings and imagery are culture-specific, it's completely indecipherable to an offworlder even if he speaks regular Instarrian.
As an example, Nico encountered someone who told her "Summer raises eyes, turning lovely blushing cheek to follow the geese" in answer to a simple question about Offwhite's colonies. And that was a comparatively straightforward answer.
2.3. Religious speech
Scriptures for most of Instar's major religions
are written and read aloud in this 'dialect'. Bewitching and seductive, it tends to have a profound effect on the listener that has little to do with whether they understand the words.
This is supposedly the Instarrian voice in its 'purest' (most graceful) form and needs a lot of coaching. Church choirs sing in it, church readers can also talk in it, laity can't do either.
3. Speech variance for effect
- Sarcasm = long, drawn-out yowels
- Narration (equivalent of a singsong fairytale tone, "once upon a time") = emphasised Rs and smoothly rising and falling pitch
- religious dialect being a much-refined subset of this
- Hostility = harsher sound overall, hissed H & S, spat CH & T, etc, louder more nasal-sounding yowels, the letter AU in particular (the longest yowel sound) becomes positively resonant