Old Besokian language
Old Besokian was a religious and literary language spoken at Nishûnâc during the Old Besokian period. A late stage of Proto-Besokian, it emerged as the Besokian dialects had begun to separate and form distinct languages but the Besokian peoples continued to return to Nishûnâc for the equinox celebrations (Sântûrûc). It is the main language recorded in the Nishûnâc carvings, written in the Old Besokian abugida.
For most of its early human occupation, Proto-Besokian was the principal language of Nishûnâc, and presumably also the language of the Besokian cult. Shared by all Besokian tribes, it would later become the ancestral language to the whole of the Besokian family. By c. 2200 B.E.B., the Besokian horizon had expanded across Belkondíl and the Reknaya and the shared cultural centre at Nishûnâc been replaced by local sites and dependencies; Nishûnâc retained its importance only for the celebration of the equinox processions (Sântûrûc), to which delegations from all clans gathered at the holy site.
Nishûnâc itself is presumed to have housed only a small population, possibly in the form of a monastery or a ceremonial court; the language spoken in this place, effectively a dialect of Proto-Besokian, was used for ceremonial and religious purposes and is abundantly attested in writing through the Nishûnâc stone carvings. It seems to have differed from Proto-Besokian only in a small number of aspects (see below) and might have been intelligible to all Besokians, certainly those familiar with old Proto-Besokian texts.
Old Besokian is likely to have been spoken throughout the Old Besokian period and only have met its decline in the 18th century. Once the Besokian populations had spread too far from their point of origin, their loyalty to Nishûnâc began to dwindle. Possibly in a struggle over power, a Soskish raid seems to have hit Nishûnâc in the early 18th century B.E.B., destroying most of the complex. The site was abandoned around 1750 B.E.B., its last inhabitants migrating into the neighbouring Soskish kingdoms, Old Besokian going extinct soon after.
Old Besokian is very close in both form and lexicon to Proto-Besokian, to the degree that it can be considered a dialect or late stage of the latter. The two languages are usually separated as Old Besokian is thoroughly attested whereas little record remains of Proto-Besokian; the latter is generally considered the ancestor to the Besokian languages, while the former is regarded a mostly isolated religious and literary language.
Little change seems to have occurred in the language’s sound system, although phonological innovations only appear delayed in writing, and not all changes might be reflected even in the youngest texts at Nishûnâc. The earliest Old Besokian records show no difference to the known Proto-Besokian sound system; it is not until the mid-20th century that the irregular disappearance of word-initial <h> suggests this sound had been lost. By c. 1870, initial <h> has disappeared entirely from the textual record, and by c. 1800, former <VhV> combinations had come to be expressed as single vowels.
Shortly after the first disappearances of the <h> glyph, the <V> glyph is used more and more regularly in word-final position, suggesting elision of final consonants if followed by a similar consonant in the next word. This is first apparent with the consistent dropping of final nasals if the following word begins in a nasal and eventually affects <c#k> clusters as well.
The most striking grammatical change seems to be the complete disappearance of the Proto-Besokian derivational system. No instance of its use in Proto-Besokian is attested, but complex derived words appear the Besokian Cosmogony and are preserved in all daughter languages. While Old Besokian makes use of a fair vocabulary of derived terms, this is a static list containing only common terms and no seemingly spontaneous innovations, and many derived items show phonological innovations that suggest an origin before Old Besokian.
Inflection also seems to have simplified. Where Proto-Besokian displays multiple pseudo-casus markers designating different types of adjuncts, Old Besokian only has î-, introducing any kind of modifier, both verbal and phrasal; this change is one of the first attested in writing. The composite interfix -e- has disappeared entirely, and their reduced usage suggests that the size-indicators -êsh, -an, and -or had fallen out of use by 1950 B.E.B.
Attestation and Written Form
Unlike Proto-Besokian, Old Besokian is well-attested in writing. Virtually all of the Nishûnâc inscriptions are in this language, providing a broad corpus of religious and historical texts. They are also the main source for the Old Besokian abugida, which seems to have been created for Proto-Besokian no later than 2900 B.E.B.; while presumed to have been in constant use since its invention, a large part of Proto-Besokian text are lost, and most extant writing in this system is likewise in Old Besokian.
The Old Besokian language, with the Besokian abugida in a mid-21st century orthography, was used in the Conscript Relay for the 10th Language Creation Conference in April 2023.