Not how it is written by authors (Charles Dickens vs. Robert Heinlein as prose stylists. Discuss!) but how it happens in fictional worlds. It’s something I’ve been batting around a little in the Cat books, and far more in the Colplatschki stories. How does language change over time, even when it is not absorbing vocabulary from other languages? What words go away, which ones shift meaning, how does pronunciation drift? Rada makes note of some of it and ignores most of it. The people of ColPlatXI don’t realize what’s happened, although the reader probably does.
For example: Small furry rodents are a major annoyance and serious problem for the people in the next three Colplatschki books. Meez get into things, chew them up, eat and spoil food, and are a constant problem that has to be kept in mind. You know exactly what sort of creature I’m taking about, don’t you?
Meez are a problem. So what became of “mice?” Actually, the shift in pronunciation is rather logical. Goose ->geese so mouse ->meese is something children play with all the time. And if you look at French, how is the city of Nice pronounced? Yes, “Nees.” So a drift from mice to “meese” to “meez” makes linguistic sense. English drops sounds all the time, both consonants and vowels. Knight and knee were once spoken as written, just as they are in modern German “K-necht” and “K-nee.” The initial hard sound disappeared over time. English also drops case endings, spare vowels (although not as much a spoken French does) and tends to gulp irregular verbs and plurals whole.
As you can hear and see from the Middle English example of the well known Creation text, English has shifted a great deal in 700 years. Those pronunciation shifts over time are well-known and documented, and I tried to imitate that to an extent in the language of Colplatschki without going overboard.
“Pfeach?” Borrowed from German, where “Pflaum” is plum. A dialect became regularized.
Because I don’t really show Azdhagi, readers don’t get the sense of drift unless Rada or Zabet specifically comment on it. As it is from time to time the archivists pester the Lord Defender into looking at old documents in order to understand what precisely was meant and how the usage or pronunciation has changed. Zabet tends to ignore such shifts, because of how her mind works – literally, her language processing system is so tied into telepathy that the language-sounds she hears are only part of how she picks up communications.
Rada hears them, acknowledges them, and moves on because of her conditioning. She has a functional take on language, not a linguist’s interest. Yes, she knows things have shifted, especially in written Azdhag. The symbols have grown simpler over the centuries, especially in the two generations following the Great Relocation. Only a few, like the one signifying the Pack, the greater Azdhag collective, remain so complicated and nuanced. In contrast, spoken Azdhag is restricted by hard limits on what sounds are physically possible, much more so than humanoid languages do, but the body language aspect? Definite variations over time.
Aside from a few, very basic and clear gestures. Ahem. Yes, those.