Language in Hassuna

Active: Hassunai (or “Pure Elven”); Imperial Common

Historical: Antique Hassunai

Discussion

The longer lives of elves has generally resulted in a much slower rate of linguistic change than in other cultures/regions, which is the primary driving force behind the existence of only two distinct languages in Hassunai culture: Antique Hassunai and Hassunai Elven (or “Pure Elven”). “Antique Hassunai” is the term given to the language used in the pre-caste days of elven society—e.g. prior to the year 1 by the Hassunai calendar (prior to -1484 by Brightwater Reckoning). The havoc wreaked upon elven society during the Wars of Blood and Fire (-1509 to -1484 BR) significantly diminished elven culture in general, and the earliest records of Hassunai society date back only to about -2500 BR, before which nothing reliable survives.

After -1484, the top-down unity imposed upon the elves by the reforms of the Great Elven Society was accompanied by a relative linguistic unity that has essentially endured to this day. In -1200 BR, Poqentus declared the “ Opening of Hassuna”, a move which gave birth to the long-standing mercantile ties that the Hassunai maintain with other realms to this day. This was similarly joined by the necessity of learning other languages to facilitate trade, and so the Caste of Coin (the elven merchant class) led the way in learning how to communicate with other peoples. Light settlement of non-elves in coastal cities (basically exclusively in merchant enclaves) helped to proliferate these languages, though penetration of non-elven languages beyond the coastal cities was essentially non-existent.

The Hassunai view their language as “Pure Elven”, a distinction that is generally drawn to distinguish it (and them) from the significant mixing of elves and humans in the Penwith Islands, and it is the official language of Hassunai, as well as the only language spoken in the interior of the elven realm. The imposition and spread of Imperial Common across the Sorian Empire’s lands had the concurrent effect of reducing the need for Hassunai merchants to speak anything but Imperial Common in order to trade, and so non-Hassunai and non-Imperial languages have no real traction within Hassunai, as there is no practical need for them.

The only other languages spoken in Hassunai are, like elsewhere, religious languages like Druidic or Celestial; the Caste of Faith strenuously resisted efforts by the Elven Council, in the past, to suppress these languages (in favor of pure linguistic unity), and since the Opening of Hassuna these efforts have not been revived. Hassunai Elven and Lirian Elven have enough of a common linguistic foundation that conversation between speakers of the two is possible, though the Hassunai generally do not deign to speak Lirian (and rarely have a need to, anyway). Other languages are taught in the schools of Hassunai, especially the capital of Bel’Sammara, but these are usually only studied by those who seem— to others— to be overly-sympathetic to non-elven races (and the general consideration of the Caste of Coin as “impure” because of their dealings with non-elven beings has done nothing to reduce this stigma).

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Language in Hassuna

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