Dracid (drah-sid) is the language spoken throughout the Draconis Empire, both by the Draconis themselves and as a trade language. While commonly referred to as simply 'dracid' the language is in fact two varations; Low and High. Although the differences are somewhat marginal the prevalence varies greatly.
The use of High Dracid is rare among non-Draconis. Practitioners often consider it an 'educated language' (the Imperium's equivalent of speaking Latin) and the Draconis prefer to speak it when they can and typically among their own kind. This lack of widespread usage gives the added bonus of deciphering High Dracid messages much harder without the use of universal translators.
The origins of Dracid lay in the languages of ancient Alcanti spoken by the original Ur-Draconis hundreds of thousands of years ago. While various Draconid nations had used all sorts of language, most have not survived the test of time; either completely forgotten or only attested on a few archaeological artifacts. At best, some of their lexicons were preserved as substrata in modern-day Dracid, used for some limited areas such as the names of exotic plants or animals, or cuisine.
Ultimately, however, only two Alcanti languages were instrumental to creating modern Dracid. The first was the language of the Minosian Empire, Alcanwas, literally meaning encompassing speech. It was an isolating language, with short, quickly pronounced words, rather conservative and not very open to loanwords, and known for its brevity; it was easy to learn how to speak it, due to its simple grammar and phonetics, and thus it spread swiftly with Minosian expansion across the planet. However, Alcanwas' written form, in a stark contrast, was extremely difficult to master, as the language was for most of its history written using a logographic system which limited literacy to the select few. The second language that affected modern Dracid was Sulaas, the language of the Ossilian city states that dominated the equatorial continent of the same name. Unlike the uniform Alcanwas, Sulaas, having no political unity to form around, was pluricentric, meaning that it had several equally important dialects centered around major trade hubs and religious centers. In order to facilitate mutual understanding, as well as to accommodate Sulaas' system of consonontal roots, instead of a unified logographic system it was written using an abjad. This in turn made Ossilian language far easier to learn. And regional pride meant that Alcanwas written in the style of Ossilan script was spread by scholars and learned citizens across the civilised regions of Alcanti.
As these two great civilisations came to communicate with one another more, the language that would be the direct precursor to Dracid appeared, though it was not called that at the time. It was a group of heavily Ossilianised forms of Alcanwas spoken by Alcanti's upper and middle classes, using the Sulaas abjad for writing and incorporating many of its terms and phrases into its lexicon. Owing to the growing Ossilian influence in world arts, politics and sciences, this "refined Alcanwas" soon became the de facto standard in Draconis society, and as they had mastered spaceflight, was spread by their colonists to other star systems. It was at that point that it began to be considered to be a language of its own, and was given the name it has today.
Following the Draconid Imperium's formation and new species joined the Draconis sphere of influence, a new division began to appear in Dracid. The Draconis are, by nature, a very long-lived race, and their language had thus always been conservative: even small phonetic shifts that would take decades or centuries to develop on Earth (such as the weakening of "r" in several English accents) took millennia in their languages. Thus over time their own form of Dracid remained very stable for its longevity. The same could not be said of the Dracid used by other species with shorter lifespans; it lived and breathed at a wholly different pace, developing with a speed that astonished Draconis linguists while at the same time absorbing the tongues of other races. While at first the grammarians of Alcanti scoffed at what they percieved as a barbaric perversion of their own sophisticated language, over time the prevalence of the so-called "Low Dracid" (Which later became known as Drace) became impossible to ignore, and by the decree of Octavus VII during the Era of Prime Paragons it was given full rights as a secondary official language, and since then has become the norm for the non-Draconis citizen of the Imperium.
Since that period, both High and Low Dracid developed concurrently, but differently. The periods commonly denoted by Imperium linguists for both languages are Archaic (coinciding with the Era of Prime Paragons), Classical (from the First House Wars until the Era of Diamonds - considered to be the pinnacle of Draconis literature), Middle (up until the end of the Second House Wars) and finally Modern. In case of High Dracid, the differences between periods are very small and largely concern the lexicon - a moderately educated Draconis can easily read a manuscript from the Khaxvis Dynasty. Due to the Imperium's age - while in case of Low Dracid, the difference between even the adjacent periods is so vast that a linguist is required to read trade agreements and poems from that period.
Due to the Imperium's long history and the stories of Imperial scientific groups seeding planets and uplifting species, it is believed that Dracid, in both of its forms, may have influenced alien cultures and languages both within and outside of Andromeda. In particular, the resurgence of the Imperium in the modern age has given rise to Dran'va - a Drace-related pidgin connected to a number Andromeda-based languages that presently serves as a trade language within the Andromeda Galaxy.
Both High and Low Dracid have fairly complex phonetic systems fairly similar to those of Earth languages. One of the larger differences between English and Dracid phonologies (though one that is shared by many Asian ones, or older European ones such as Ancient Greek or Old Church Slavonic) is that labiodental fricatives are extremely rare in the latter. The "f" sound is not present at all neither in High nor Low Dracid, and is subsituted by "w", "hw", or "p" in loanwords - for example, Voransh (pronounced woransi). The "v" sound is used, but is merely a rare (somewhat more common in Low Dracid, mostly as a foreign influence) allophone of "w": thus, for example the monarch of the Imperium's title would actually be pronounced paragawatus in High Dracid. The reason for this is in Draconid anatomy: As a species of carnivores, the sharp canine teeth Draconis possess make the motion to produce a firm "f" difficult without damaging the lip, and the gaps between the teeth also lesson the severity of the sound. Another notable feature is that, while Dracid possessed a rhotic consonant (i.e an R-sound), instead of an alveolar approximant like in English, it is instead a trill (comparable to Russian or Arabic).
In terms of vowels, there is a larger discrepancy between the two forms of language. High Dracid has a more complex system, distinguishing several vowel phonemes not distinguished in English, giving us ten vowel diacritics (see below) in total. However, due to various phonetic shifts such as the development of force stress, this system was somewhat simplified in the common tongue and Low Dracid only identifies five vowels.
One of the more unusual traits possessed by High Dracid (though not Drace) is its stress system. Rather than marking the stressed syllable by length or stronger voice, Draconis subtly alter the pitch of the sound. That in itself is not extraordinary and is found on Earth, but what is unique in the High Dracid pitch accent is how it is marked. The diverging syrinx branches in Draconis breathing apparati, normally sounding identical, create a tonal disharmony, giving their voice a flanging quality. Naturally, this is impossible to replicate by a species that does not possess a similar syrinx, and thus Low Dracid replaced it, during the Archaic and Classical periods, with a simple higher tone and, later on, with a force stress. When written down in Dracid script, these stresses are identified by a mark above each letter that denotes the kind of sound to be produced. Low Dracid also makes use of these symbols, but instead of stressing the number of tones these marks it identify where one should put pressure in a word.
It is believed the current pitch accent in High Dracid is merely a simplification of the original Old Alcanwas tone system, where more than ten possible varieties in pitch had a grammatical meaning, depending on how the three syrinx branches worked together. This perhaps is the reason why Minosians were referred in ancient Ossilian literature as kidaryar, or "screamers", as the constant flanging of the northern Draconis' language was seen as disturbing by Sulaas speakers.
Modern Dracid writing originates from the script of ancient Ossilian city states used to write Sulaas, which replaced the complex logographs of Miminas. As Sulaas had a consonantal root system, meaning that vowels in it were used only as affixes and did not carry meaning themselves, the original Ossilian script did not account for them, and only marked consonants. However, as the script was adopted by the Minosians, whose language could not allow not writing vowels, their grammarians developed a system of diacritics marking vowels, attached to consonant symbols: this system continues to be used today. A mark above the letter would indicate that the vowel precedes it, while a mark below it would indicate that it would came after the consonant.
Traditionally, Dracid is written with a pen or other writing tool, with each letter connected to the other in most calligraphic forms. As a result, it is easily transferable into a digital format, though often instead of typing on a keyboard, Draconis instead write text manually on special tablets, with specialised programs interpreting the handwriting. Another interesting feature is that uppercase letters (known as upper marks) are larger than numbers when in a written format. The design of each letter, known as a mark, was originally influenced by the flowing movements of the scribes' pens.
Traditionally, High Dracid is arranged into regular boxes that are arranged in pairs and read in a "flowing" manner; the start of any document is at the top left and continues down until the bottom of the box is the same distance from the top as the left-hand edge is to the right, the reader/writer then moves to start a new box, leaving a gap and starting alongside the final line of the previous box where the author proceeds to write up the page until reaching the top of the writing area for that box.
Traditionally, High Dracid boxes are read in a mirrored S-shape. Going right after the first box, down from the second, left after the third down after the fourth and so on. When transferring to another page, the pattern is mirrored; the first line is written at the bottom of the page and the writer works their way up in a similar manner. Traditional methods of writing High Dracid however have been in decline since the Imperium's interaction with alien cultures, with most contemporary systems adopting a simpler text-block pairing going down the page then going up the next page. Dracid is written left-to-right on the page and each sentence starts with an upper mark. Compound words in other languages form into one word in dracid. Titles and names vary; on the occasion where a title consists of two words it is broken with an inverted comma - for example Fleet Master would be written as Fleet'Master - but names of animals and people do not follow this rule while cities (such as Minos'Drakon) do. This often creates a discrepancy when determining whether compound words in Dracid are really words or just long phrases.
The differences in High Dracid and Low Dracid writing are numerous due to their histories. Low Dracid is considered easier to learn and excludes the letters Platha and Yast. Ocron, Is written as O instead of Ou when translated and several words such as Vos (hundred) are replaced.
The grammar, along with the lexicon, is arguably among the most glaring differences between High and Low Dracid. The reason for this is that, through constant communication with foreign languages, Low Dracid has acquired much more alien elements; furthermore, phonetic shifts - that High Dracid generally avoided but pervaded Low Dracid so much that words were often made indistinguishable - necessitated the invention of new ways to express syntactic connections. As such, both will be viewed together, in contrast.
High Dracid is an analytic language, like English or Mandarin Chinese, meaning that it expresses most grammatical connections through function words and word order, rather than affixes. For example, to mark a past tense, an ad clitic would be added to the verb either before or after it, rather than modifying the word through a suffix. Likewise, word formation in High Dracid through affixation (e.g. eat -> eater) is fairly rare, the exception being older Ossilian words which used transfixation: e.g aldra ("light", especially in the poetic meaning of the word) -> kiladar ("illuminated one"). Most new words are either taken from foreign languages or created through compounding (marked with inverted commas), though in the latter case, as stated earlier, the exact line between a compound word and a long phrase is hard to determine. For instance, "parag'avatus" (master of kings) can be broken down into pah-rag ah-waht-tus, a literal translation would be path-bearer [of] lord-above-men while a more eloquent or correct translation could be interpreted as the leader of lords over men. These interpretations are often what is culturally believed to be expressed when speaking, as Draconis often favour an elegant outlook on life, and see Dracid as a poetic language.
Low Dracid, however, has, through contacts with the language of the Rapidox as wel as internal dvelopments, had its grammar altered significantly. Most importantly, it is, unlike High Dracid, it is synthetic, not in the sense that it is artificial (that is not the case), but in the sense that it allows for more morphemes in one word, that is to say, synthesis between them. Thus, for example, past tense would be marked with the suffix t, and distant past with atat. Low Dracid has also developed a case system unlike High Dracid, distinguishing between four cases: nominative, genitive-dative, accusative and locative. Likewise, Low Dracid uses affixation (mostly suffixation) much more widely and has fewer complex compound words. For example, "imperial" in High Dracid would be either es Domini kil, or in [the] way [of an] empire, or simply Domini. In Low Dracid, however, it would be one long word: Pragvasilit; from Pragvas (a corruption of Paragavatus - as one can see, the original poetic meaning of the word is not as easily observed here), with the suffix "il" denoting a place and "it" showing that this is a masculine singular adjective in nominative. This in general makes Low Dracid less reliant on long-winded poetic figures of speech.
Syntax-wise, Dracid comes into two arrangements: High Dracid is is spoken Object-Subject-Verb and is a pro-drop language, omitting terms based on context (for instance "I agree with you", will be spoken as "with you agree", or sometimes "with agree".) Low Dracid, however, is spoken mostly Subject-Object-Verb (I, with you agree), with its grammar allowing for this order to be broken sometimes to change the meaning of a sentence subtly. Because of the differences in word order, speaking Low Dracid in an object-subject-verb arrangement is seen as pretentious, comparable to aping the archaic form of a language.
Though High and Low Dracid share most of their lexicon, gaping differences exist between them both because of phonetic shifts causing many words that sound different in the former to sound the same in the latter. For example, two very distinct High Dracid words, taen and tand, meaning fire and steel respectively, over time became omonymic in Drace: ten. Thus steel came to be known in Classical Low Dracid as ten'marid, or iron-metal, which eventually developed into modern Drace temmeir. Similar cases of neologism formation to alleviate omonymy are quite common.
In contrast, High Dracid has a richer lexicon and is notable for each word only having one or two concrete meanings. Concepts that humans or Low Dracid speakers would not distinguish, the Draconis would separate into several. For example the High words kothad (Kot-dhad) and kothorvae (kot-thor-vae) (meaning refined material and culturally refined respectively and directly interpreted as high-material and high-kin-grace) are replaced with Althokad (high-quality) when translated. In terms of how words come to be, High Dracid can be considered more pedantic than Low, as High Dracid is conservative and less receptive towards introducing new words from other sources.
|ad||past tense clitic|
|espt||present tense clitic|
|usk||future tense clitic|
|raus/raii||singular/plural component of|
|ag||state of being|
When something is a negative (e.g not dead, immaterial) the clitic pal is added to the subject in question.
- not dead -> pal'capnan
- not mine -> pal'pertanda
This also applies to when the prefixes 'un' or 'im'.
- immortal -> not'mortal -> pal'physcarum
- undead [state] -> not dead -> pal'capnan | undead [entity] -> pal'capus
The negative goes directly in front of the subject, ignoring any prior words.
- not in here -> in not here -> ae pal'loatum
- in no state to travel -> in state [condition] to not travel -> ae vitarnan tel palseporanan
The translation of Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights are as follows:
"Lib'eg es lex el sapar vas Arda'onis gaend. Locar el vas'gaend'vetag al kan ig da'entin; es vaet-espri al vaet ig or ast.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
(literal: "Free and in rights and dignity equal all human [are] born. Upon them reason and conscience one bestows; in kin-spirit towards kin one should act.")
"Tir, Kis Kortograa, ol vas halsan-lir, ligo, Kester Arsac, da'reked." -> "I, Inquisitor Arsac, absolve you, Kies Kortograa of all crimes of heresy."
|My name is...||Scripag nal...|
|What's your name?||Scripag tor?|
|Where are you from?||Hethus tor elerag?|
|I'm from...||Mal elerag...|
|Good morning||Barna aldraasa|
|Good afternoon/evening||Barna aldradecsa|
|I don't understand||Mal palcompresag|
|How do you say...in High Dracid/Low Dracid?||Actiag conan parlonan...inte Eletadracid/Terodracid?|
|Do you speak High Dracid/Low Dracid?||Tor conan parlonan Eletadracid/Terodracid?|
- Originally devised by Monet47, much of the reworked information on Dracid was a collaborative effort between Monet47 and TheImperios
- While originally inspired by Latin, the current form of Dracid takes inspiration from Hebrew, Greek, Arabic and Chinese.
- The original idea of separating High Dracid and Drace was primarily through grammar. The 2016 rework took into account matters such as Draconid biology, lifespan and a divide in word order in order to further separate the two.