In the ancient Aligare world, korvi and aemets each developed a spoken language. But as the peoplekinds interacted and grew closer together, it became clear that aemet mouths couldn’t make the rolled sounds of the korvi language. They just didn’t have the hardware to do anything but mangle korvi words.


Gosh, friend. You're pretty bad at this.

Gosh, friend. You’re pretty bad at this.


Fortunately, aemet language didn’t have that issue. Korvi (and ferrin, for that matter) could speak it just fine. Out of courtesy as much as practicality, aemettongue became the default language. It’s now called commontongue and it’s considered everyone’s language.


I know, I know. “Commontongue” is the most cliched thing I could possibly name a fantasy language. But in this case, I figured it was best to call a spade a spade. Aligare society would consider it very positive that the three peoplekinds have a language in common. For the purposes of my stories, English represents commontongue — although commontongue isn’t English, per se. Just a language with a similar structure and sound profile.


As for korvitongue, it does exist. Sort of. I’m not methodical enough to build speakable languages as a fun hobby, but I have dabbled in conlang enough to determine the rough basics of korvitongue. It’s heavily based on the Romance languages, and that’s why korvi names often sound French, Italian or Spanish.


Remedy and Ravel didn’t really need korvitongue. It was just a background element, something korvi were implied to speak among other korvi in the Hotrock tunnels. An early draft of Remedy had Tillian interpreting korvitongue messages, but it simply wasn’t a necessary element to the story. That’s a common downfall of invented fantasy languages. Unless the linguistic culture is strongly relevant to the story, there’s little reason to give the reader grammar lessons or make them boggle at foreign words.


In Render, korvitongue will be shuffling a step closer to the limelight. Judellie of Cherez is a korvi with a strong korvitongue accent. She just kind of manifested that way in my head. Many korvi speak with a very slight accent, but it’s rare to have a really marked accent like Judellie does. Under stress or excitement, she might forget a vocabulary word or stop using contractions. So what’s her story? Why didn’t she learn commontongue during the early childhood period of greatest fluency? Good questions. As a character, Judellie is mostly a manifestation of being korvi. She’s easygoing but fierce, social but independent. She’s a foil and a role model to Rue, the aemet who sometimes feels like she was born the wrong species.


Inventing a language is a great way to indicate, “This is a fantasy world, things are different here”. And it’s a technique I do want to use more in the Aligare world. Not too much. Just as the linguistic equivalent of sprinkles on the cupcake.

One Comment on “Korvitongue”

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