A small family, and one not native to Elondor, the Iliatarian languages were a project more of chance than of planning. They began with a single sentence of deliberate gibberish, conceived and constructively dissected above a hotel pool in New Orleans during an episode of acute linguistic craving. The family came about, as most, in reverse, as I began with the Sulutmuri dialect and worked my way backwards into prehistory, as well as was possible. The relatively small scale of this family is one the hand caused by its very limited geographic distribution, ranging only from the eponymous Iliatar in eastern Seligon across the Lerewe Highlands and into the canyons of Eskar; and on the other by the fact that few of its languages were ever written, and historical stages of any of its branches are near-impossible to grasp.
Branches and Languages
- Lerewe Ǧiri
- Common Southern Iliatarian
As has been mentioned, the Iliatarian languages are not native to Elondor. Their long-lost common ancestor was brought across the narrows of the Southern Sea from the continent of Nokim by seafaring explorers, vassals of what would later be termed the Nokimi Empire, a loose coalition of chalcolithic states on the shores of Nokim seeking expansion northward. Little is known of this time in history as they did not have writing and built predominantly in stone and clay, but for what can be said, this prehistoric empire seems to have lasted for less than two centuries, and after 2400 B. E. B., its Seligonian provinces had been scattered. The language, likewise, split into two branches, Southern Iliatarian spoken by the horticulturalists of the Iliatar, and the Lerewe languages spoken in the Seligonian Highlands and later expanding into Eskar. Despite the fact that they had no or little writing and lived in constant conflict with the neighbouring Ruldôrians and Hakessians, Iliatarian culture and language remained fairly stable over the following three millennia. Their annexation by Lécaron as part of Province XI. Eastern Seligon was ostensibly peaceful and of little consequence for the population, who retained their language and way of life mostly undisturbed. The Sulutmuri and Ngwano gained nominal independence already in L. R. 696, in the aftermath of the otherwise devastating First Seligonian War, after having been de facto autonomous at least since the beginning of the century. The Lerewe of the Highlands won their freedom a decade later, initially conscribed as Imperial auxiliaries during the Second Seligonian War but rising against their foreign commanders in the Ragsbrook Massacre of L. R. 713, withdrawing into their homeland and successfully defending it against the remaining Imperial forces as they were caught up in the raging Nelkonian Independence War. The Kingdom of Merdew, covering all of the upper Ibani Valley until the Gap of Urukash and including the semi-autonomous Soskish Duchy of Sildín, was established in 715, with Lerewe Ǧiri, henceforth mostly called Merdic, as its official language. The Eskarians did not take part in the revolt, as they had been mostly independent from their Lerewe neighbours for many centuries. They eventually joined the Nelkonian Alliance and were granted relative autonomy in the newly created United Kingdom of Nelkon, including the right to their ancestral language.
Morphosyntax of the Iliatarian languages is fairly consistent across all branches and among the more curious on the Elondorian continent. Inflectional synthesis is largely restricted to the verb and codes primarily for TAM-values and topicalization using infixes inserted between the ultimate and penultimate syllable. Word order is a strict verb-second, taking all adjuncts after the verb. The use of CP\spec is dependent on the verb form, with the ‘absolutive-topicalizing’ base form raising intransitive subjects and direct objects and the ‘ergative-topicalizing’ form, coded by a non-syllabic infix in the last syllable onset, raising transitive subjects, or null-subjects in passive-like constructions. Non-verbal inflection is restricted to comparison coding on adjectives and categorizations on prepositions, both using prefixes. Iliatarian phonotactics are of a fairly average complexity, with a rather small phoneme inventory and tendentially simple, disyllabic words but clusters, especially sequencing-violating clusters, permitted in all positions. Geminates can be reconstructed for Proto-Iliatarian and have been retained in Lerewe and Ngwano but lost in Sulutmuri.