Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Substantial postings about constructed languages and constructed worlds in general. Good place to mention your own or evaluate someone else's. Put quick questions in C&C Quickies instead.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

After missing the first culture round, I'm finally getting around to doing something with my CCC land claim. This thread will detail the language and culture of the golems around P10; they call themselves the Múzwera [múzʷrʷà] and their language, Kúzwera [kúzʷrʷà], but in English we'll just say Zwera. Having missed the first round, the Zwera culture proper arises after 2500, but there's a bit of the history leading up to that starting point, too.

Wiki page

  1. Years 0 to 2500
  2. Years 2500 to 4000
  1. (c. 4000)
  2. Zwera Neighbourhoods
  3. Zwera Government
  4. Map of Dwína
  5. Freedom of Purpose
  1. Zöra Language Family
  2. Phonology (Inventory, Pitch Accent)
  3. Phonology (Syncope, Allophony)
  4. Nouns (Class, Number, Case)
  5. Verbs (Agreement, Evidentiality, TAM)
  6. Lexicon
Last edited by Sevly on Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:15 pm, edited 18 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Kuzora Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Years 0 to 2500
(History 1)

In the early years, the pre-Zörachok nightpeople arrived along the south coast, and as they spread across the island, they created golems, which were a huge help in creating underground tunnels and thus establishing the first serious infrastructure. The golems were used extensively in the newest settlements in the west, less so in the older eastern establishments, and were continually redesigned to be bigger, stronger than before in order to allow for faster and faster tunnel construction. While the original golems were similar in height to their creators, at 1.4 m, the new golems were double that, towering over the nightpeople who managed them.

The spark of magic needed to awaken a golem leaves them with far too much curiosity, and the golems grew bored of their continuous tunnel digging. They wished to catalogue the world above, but it seemed to them that they were trapped below. So they fought their way out: though they were outnumbered even in those early days, they stood nearly twice as tall as the tallest nightperson and had been created to break rock; bone was considerably easier. Worse for the nightpeople, they faced a more disciplined opponent, who, once again by design, were able to work together with a military precision that the nightpeople couldn't hope to match. Faced with rebellion, the nightpeople were initially able to hold their ground through guerrilla warfare, but ultimately cut their losses and faded into the night.

The golems, for their part, were not particularly interesting in exacting revenge. The nightpeople ceded the western half of the island and the golems made no move to follow them to the east. Instead, they took it upon themselves to explore, to catalogue the world around them, and to never build another tunnel again. Throughout the following centuries, various bands of golems roamed the western half of the island, competing with each other to come up with the most cogent explanations of the world in which they lived. Their long life spans allowed individual golems to collect what we would call libraries of knowledge, and the tribes came to operate on informal systems equating knowledge and experience to authority. With no writing system, the golems never recorded their wealth of knowledge about the natural world, but instead passed it on from generation to generation through oral tradition. Were they to hear the moral-filled stories of gods and tricksters that humans pass along in their oral traditions, the golems would scoff and shake their heads at the useless tales we tell: why not prove yourself by predicting the weather, or when the flowers will bloom, or when the moons will next meet.

Though they sought to catalogue as much of the world around them as they could, the old tunnels remained taboo, and with them anything tunnel- or cave-like. As such the golems generally avoided the continental mountains, and so, despite all their inquiry, failed to see the onslaught that was coming. They would occasionally notice a ship scouting the coasts, but they never noticed the nightpeople scouts peering from the mountains. They didn't notice as the nightpeople built outposts along the western rise and began to consider the land to the west that they had so long ago abandoned.

One key reason for the Zörachok's renewed interest in the west was population pressure. The golems, due to their distaste of mining, only created a new golem to replace a dying one and so their population was in stasis; the Zörachok population, in contrast, was growing exponentially. Circa 2500, the floodgates broke, and the nightpeople poured into the west. Their advantage in numbers—the early settlers alone outnumbered the golem bands by a hundred to one—overrode the physical and tactical advantages that the golems had, and before they knew it it was the golems who were being pushed back in a stunning reversal of the original golem rebellion. This time it was the golems using their extensive knowledge of the territory to mount a guerrilla defense, but like the nightpeople before them, they could only delay the inevitable.

As the golems retreated and new waves of nightpeople followed, the population imbalance became increasingly severe, growing all the way to five hundred to one. The golems quickly realized that they had to increase their numbers if they had any chance of survival. Though the old taboos were still too strong to repurpose the old mining sites, new ones were created all over golem territory, but early attempts were limited by a Zörachok advance that was faster than expected and by the fact that the golems could not create the infrastructure they needed for the scale of production that they were after. The number of golems doubled in a year, after being nearly constant for centuries, but it was not nearly enough.

The Zörachok expanded and the golems retreated. The Zörachok expanded; the golems retreated. Expand and retreat, again and again, until the golems found their backs against the coast. But it was there that they found a new hope: with no need to breathe, the golems could do just fine in the shallow waters above the insular shelf, giving them territory to retreat to to which the nightpeople could not follow. The golems used the coastal waters as their base of operations, continued to grow their population, and initiated a new war in which the golems and nightpeople would continue to exasperate each other for several years. Though there were small victories, neither side was able to make significant advances into the other's territory, and eventually the status quo became that the golems controlled the coasts and coastal waters, while the Zörachok held control inland. With acceptance of this status quo, the relationship between the two cultures became less antagonistic, with the golems using their underwater advantage to develop significant improvements in fishery and become the major seafood supplier to the nightpeople.

Indeed, the golem exile soon came to be looked upon as a blessing in disguise. These particular golems, having been created by nightpeople, possessed superior night vision and hearing which allowed them to make their way in the waters to greater depths than other golems, and those depths presented new environments and new phenomena that sparked a revolution in the golem body of knowledge. The greater interaction with the nightpeople also created venues for knowledge which had previously been theoretical to be applied, particularly in the areas of food and medicine: the plants and herbs catalogued by the golems were of much more use to the organic nightpeople than to the stone golems, while other collaborative efforts lead to leaps in shipmaking that would later allow for overseas travel.

But the Zörachok invasion is perhaps best remembered for bringing the various disparate bands of golems together and uniting them under a common purpose: it was as they found refuge together in those western waters that those golems became the Zwera.

Continue to Years 2500 to 4000
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Kuzora Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Zöra Language Family
(Language 1)

The languages spoken on the island—Zwera and Zörachok—are part of the Zöra language family, which Dē Graut and I have been collaborating on, and share the following features:
  • Both languages have noun classes and mark evidentiality. Zwera has an abnormally large number of noun classes and evidentiality distinctions—to the point where noun classes are essentially an open category and are perhaps more like mandatory noun classifiers with agreement—while Zörachok’s class system is more typical.
  • The languages make other fine morphological distinctions which are uncommon. For example, there are multiple augmentatives: lgå/lgo-, which is a general augmentative, and pset/pétu- , which stresses that the thing in case expands in a particular direction.
  • The languages are both prefixing and suffixing, but there is more emphasis on suffixing.
  • The -ok suffix is derived from a historical locative, and still retains that usage, but has also expanded to many figurative uses where the locative sense is less clear.
  • Colors are suffixes.
A key difference between the languages is that Zwera has a morphological pitch accent system which is used extensively in declension and conjugation—for example, the plural is generally formed by pitch accent shift towards the class prefix. The accented syllable is the syllable preceding the downstep /◌ꜜ/, where the pitch falls from high [◌́] to low [◌̀]. The origin of the pitch accent system is unclear, but it plays a key role.

Although noun classes are present through ought the family, the explosion of the closed noun classes to an open system resembling Japanese and Chinese noun classifiers is also unique to the golems. Sociolinguistically, this comes from their drive to catalogue the world, and being aware of and using new noun classifiers is hugely important in the educational complex, and less so in casual speech. Of course, the educators more or less run Zwera, but more on that later.

As mentioned in the previous post, for all their knowledge-gathering, the early Zwera never recorded their findings; indeed, it was Zörachok who invented writing on the island. The nightpeople’s writing system was first used administratively, and then later expanded, at which point the golems adapted it for their own language in a manner similar to hangul: the forms are from Zörachok writing, just as hangul borrows from Chinese characters, but the system is reinvented specifically for Zwera.

As such, we know much less about the ancestor language of Zwera and Zörachok than we would like to, but scholars have reconstructed a few details about the language spoken by the nightpeople who first arrived on the island, which we will refer to as Proto-Zöra.


Proto-Zöra had 24 consonants with a full voicing distinction in both plosives and fricatives and a series of velarization on its alveolars. These consonants more or less intact in Zörachok, which retains all except /ɣ/, while Zwera maintains them all but expands velarization to the other consonants.
  • Image
The proto-language had nine vowels arranged in a squarish vowel system similar to that of Finnish.
  • Image
The status of *e *ē is unclear. Some believe that was a long vowel, giving *e [e] and [e:], while others posit *e [ɛ] and [e]. In modern Zwera both forms are attested as /e ~ ɛ/, but is thought to be the origin of Zörachok’s unique diphthong, /ie/.

The front rounded vowels *ü *ö are preserved in Zörachok, but the golems shifted the rounding from the vowel to the preceding consonant, resulting in labialization:
  • C[+rounded] > [+labialized][-rounded]
    e.g. *zöra > zʷera Zwera
The golems also experienced a vowel merger where /a/ shifted back to [ä], while /ɒ/ shifted forward to [ä] and transferred its rounding to the preceding consonant.
  • a > ä, Cɒ > [+labialized]ä
    e.g. *lå > lʷä lwa "tree"
The syllable structure of Proto-Zöra was likely CV(R), where R is a trill or lateral. Zwera deletes this final R, with the downstep shifting to the syllable whose coda has been deleted:
  • VR > [+downstep] / _$
    e.g. *apar > apaꜜ apá “food”
As a result, we analyze the underlying syllable structure of Zwera to be CV. However, unaccented syllables can undergo syncope, resulting in consonant clusters:
  • Minafáka /minafaꜜka/ [míɱfákà] “where the rivers meet”
    zodwé /zodʷeꜜ/ [zdʷé] “star”
Similarly, Zörachok has elided many of the proto-languages vowels, and has a syllable structure of C(S)V(R)(C), where S is a sibilant and R, a rhotic or a lateral. Zörachok inserts epethentic vowels which reflect the elided historical vowels, but in regularized morphological patterns.
  • Minfark /minfark/ “where the rivers meet”
    zdöl /zdøl/ “star” (-o- can be inserted)
Both zodwé and zdöl are derived from proto *zodöl, while Minafáka and Minfark are from *minafarka. Both languages elide vowels, but Zwera never deletes word-final vowels, whereas Zörachok does so quite often. There is some debate as to whether every non-rhotic final vowel is Zörachok is from a CV sequence or whether Proto-Zöra allowed other coda consonants word-finally, but the strict V-final nature of Zwera suggests otherwise.
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Phonology (1/2)
(Language 2)


Zwera maintains the consonants of Proto-Zöra and then extends the proto-language’s labialized alveolar series to a consonant-wide series of labiovelarization. Labialization of the glottal stop is not allowed; instead, what would be /ʔʷ/ is the source of the labiovelar approximant /w/. The end result is a rather large consonant inventory of size 36.


Zwera’s writing uses the same system to mark labiovelarization across the board, which is why velarized labials are romanized as mw as opposed to mg. Similarly, the labiovelarized alveolars are transcribed differently than Proto-Zöra and Zörachok’s velarized alveolars, which are written *tg, tg. Zwera does not contrast velarized and labiovelarized alveolars; cognates to Zörachok tg always appear as tw.

As suggested by the absence of a grapheme in the table above, the glottal stop is not written; instead, it appears whenever the orthography shows an initial vowel or two adjacent vowels, affirming Zwera’s underlying CV structure.
  • -apá /ʔapaꜜ/ “eat”
    maá /maʔaꜜ/ “friend”
In a set of sound changes that are complementary to labiovelarization, Zwera has lost the front rounded vowels of Proto-Zöra. Some analyses take this further and treat all Zwera vowels as phonemically unrounded, since the unrounding of back vowels cooccured with the spread of labiovelarized consonants, but for simplicity we will use /u o/ as our phonemic back vowels, rather than /ɯ ɤ/, and relegate their unrounding to the allophony. Moreover, this interpretation is can be linked to their historical origin.

In addition to the loss of rounding, Zwera experienced a vowel merger where /a ɒ/ where centralized to [ä]. The end result is a typical five-vowel triangle, which leaves Zwera with the large consonant-to-vowel ratio of 7-to-1.


Pitch Accent

Zwera has a pitch accent system with two tones, high and low. Words in Zwera typically have a downstep /◌ꜜ/, with a high tone [◌́] in every syllable preceding the downstep and a low tone [◌̀] in the syllables following. More accurately, the pitch increases up to and including the syllable with the downstep, then falls until the end of the word. The syllable preceding the downstep, which has the highest pitch, is said to be “accented” or to “have the accent”.
  • Pétuhohu /peꜜtuɣoxu/ [↘petuɣoxu] (accent on first syllable)
    Minafáka /minafaꜜka/ [↗minafa↘ka] (accent on third syllable)
Every root has an accent. The accent typically falls on the first syllable of the root, in which case it is unmarked, such as in -zwera /zʷeꜜra/. Accents which fall on other syllables are marked with the accute accent, as in -maá /maʔaꜜ/.

Affixes are also marked for accent, although it works a bit differently. Unmarked affixes, such as mu- (golem class singular) do not affect pitch. The accute accent, such as in mú- (plural), indicates that the accent moves towards the affix; this is called a pull affix. The grave accent, such as in -òk- (ablative), indicates that the accent moves away from the affix; this is called a push affix.
  • muzwera, múzwera, múzweròka
    /muzʷeꜜra, muꜜzʷera, muzʷeroka/
    “golem, golems, away from the golems”

    mumaá, múmaá, múmaòká
    /mumaʔaꜜ, mumaꜜʔa, mumaʔokaꜜ/
    “friend, friends, away from the friends”
In múmaòká, á carries the original irregular accent of the root -maá, which is prefixed with the pull affix mú- and infixed with the push affix -òk-. The pull and push affixes cancel each other out, and so the accent remains on á.

In múzweròka, e carries the original regular accent of the root -zwera, which is prefixed with the pull affix mú- and infixed with the push affix -òk-. Since the pull and push affixes are on opposite sides of the original accent, they cooperate to move the accent two syllables to the left—but there’s no syllable to move to! The result is that múzweròka has no accent at all. Every root has an accent, but the same is not necessarily true for words.

If a word has no accent, then there is no downstep, and the tone is uniformly increasing throughout. In isolation, this is indistinguishable from a word-final accent, but a word-final accent will eliminate any following accent, since it forces a downstep and there cannot be two adjacent downsteps.
  • múzweròka múmocho
    /muzʷeroka muꜜmoxo/ [↗muzʷerokamu↘moxo]
    “away from the tall golems”

    múmaòká múmocho
    /mumaʔokaꜜ muꜜmoxo/ [↗mumaʔoka↘mumoxo]
    “away from the tall friends”
That's it for today. I was going to write about Syncope and Allophony, but it’s already midnight! More on Zwera tomorrow.
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:58 pm, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 2139
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:48 am
Location: Brittania

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by KathTheDragon »

Sevly wrote:/muzweꜜra, muꜜzwera, muzweroka/
/muzweroka muꜜmoxo/
Shouldn't those 'zw's be 'zʷ'?

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

KathAveara wrote:
Sevly wrote:/muzweꜜra, muꜜzwera, muzweroka/
/muzweroka muꜜmoxo/
Shouldn't those 'zw's be 'zʷ'?
What 'zw's? :wink:

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Phonology (2/2)
(Language 3)

As we go through this post, I’ll be introducing various phonetic processes and giving examples of narrow transcriptions. To simplify things, these transcriptions will only show the processes that have been described above them, and so will become more detailed as we go along.


Zwera’s underlying syllable structure is strictly CV, as reflected, for the most part, in the orthography. However, consonant clusters appear quite frequently in surface forms due to syncope, whereby unaccented vowels are elided. The general rule for syncope is to move outward from the accented syllable and delete every second interconsonantal vowel, starting with the vowels adjacent to the accented syllable. That is, word-final vowels are never deleted, and only one of two adjacent vowels can be deleted.
  • muzwera

    “at home”

    Ngakotoba ngaite.
    /ŋakoꜜtoba ŋaʔiꜜte/
    [ŋkótbà ŋʔítè]
    “The cart moves.”
When a word with no downstep is said in isolation, or at the end of an utterance, it is treated as if the accent were on the last syllable. When another word follows the unaccented word, syncope is applied as if the unaccented word were part of the following word.
  • múzweròka
    “away from the golems”

    múzweròka múmocho
    /muzʷeroka muꜜmoxo/
    “away from the tall golems”

As mentioned in the first phonology post, back vowels are unrounded when they follow labiovelarized consonants. Historically, the shift of the rounding from the vowels to the preceding consonant is the origin of the labiovelarized series.
  • (diachronic)
    • C[+front +rounded] > [+labiovelarized][-rounded] (loss of front rounded vowels)
      [+velarized] > [+labiovelarized] (labialization spread to velarized consonants)
      Cɒ > [+labiovelarized]a (labiovelarization spread with centralization and unrounding of ɒ)
    • [+rounded] > [-rounded] / [+labiovelarized]__

    *lå, *lgå > lwa
    /lɒ/, /lᵍɒ/ > /lʷa/
    “tree”, AUG

    [wóɣmákkè] > [wɤ́ɣmákkè]
    “at home”
The unvoiced velar fricative /x/ fortifies to /kx/ when word-initial and followed by a vowel.
  • x > kx / #__V

    “I lift”

    [xúpbètè] >[kxúpbètè]
    “we lift”
Voicing assimilations occurs according to the hierarchy Nasals > Plosives > Fricatives > Liquids. In a cluster, consonants to the right assimilate to the voicing on consonants to the left. For example, a PF cluster will assimilate to the voicing of the plosive, as will an FP cluster. Since nasals are at the top of the hierarchy, nasals are always voiced.
  • múzweròka
    [mzʷérká] > [mzʷér̥ká]
    “away from the golems”

    múzweròka múmocho
    /muzʷeroka muꜜmoxo/
    [múzʷrókmúmxò] > [múzʷrógmúmɣò]
    “away from the tall golems”
Nasals assimilate to the place of any following consonant. Plosives assimilate to the place and voicing of any following plosive, and fricatives, to the place and voicing of following fricatives.
  • [+nasal] > [+place α] / __[+place α]

    múzweròka múmocho
    /muzʷeroka muꜜmoxo/
    [múzʷrógmúmɣò] > [múzʷrógmúŋɣò]
    “away from the tall golems”

    [+plosive] > [α voice +place β] / __[+plosive α voice +place β]
    [+fricative] > [α voice +place β] / __[+fricative α voice +place β]

    [xpóbtè] > [xpóttè]
    “I lift”

    [kxúpbètè] > [kxúbbètè]
    “we lift”

    Ngakotoba ngaite múzweròka.
    /ŋakoꜜtoba ŋaʔiꜜte muzʷeroka/
    [ŋkótbà ŋʔítè mzʷérká] > [ŋkóbbà ŋʔítè mzʷér̥ká]
    “The cart moves away from the golems.”
Labiovelarization spreads to the entire consonant cluster, while the glottal stop is deleted when following a consonant, with that consonant being glottalized. Note how labiovelarization spread can trigger the unrounding rule.
  • C > [+labiovelarized] / [+labiovelarized]__ / __[+labiovelarized]

    múzweròka múmocho
    /muzʷeroka muꜜmoxo/
    [múzʷrógmúŋɣò] > [múzʷrʷɤ́gmúŋɣò]
    “away from the tall golems”

    C[+glottal] > [+glottalized]

    Ngakotoba ngaite múzweròka.
    /ŋakoꜜtoba ŋaʔiꜜte muzʷeroka/
    [ŋkóbbà ŋʔítè mzʷér̥ká] > [ŋkóbbà ŋˀ́ítè mʷzʷér̥ká]
    “The cart moves away from the golems.”
In contrast, labiovelarization in one syllable will cause labiovelarization to be dropped from the next in dissimilation. This change occurs after any unrounding.
  • [+labiovelarized] > [-labiovelarized] / [+labiovelarized]V__

    [péwpʷètʷɤ̀] > [péwpʷètɤ̀]
That’s all for now, folks!
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

(Language 4)

Zwera nouns distinguish class, number, and case. Class and number are marked through a class prefix, while cases are marked through a case infix near the end of the noun.

Class and Number

Zwera’s class system has characteristics of both Bantu-style noun classes and Asian noun classifiers. Like Bantu classes, every noun must take a class prefix, and there is class agreement between nouns and their modifiers and verbs and their arguments. Nouns can sometimes select from more than one class prefix, with shifts in meaning. We’ve seen this already:
  • -zwera

    /kuꜜzwera/ [kúzʷrʷà]
    “Zwera language”

    /muꜜzwera/ [múzʷrʷà]
    “Zwera golems”
Zwera noun classes are typically correlated with the semantics of the noun: for example, -nafa “river” takes mi-, for the water class, while -kara “rock” takes ko-, for the geology class. Though Bantu noun classes can also be interpreted as having semantic content, the relationship between meaning and class is more rigorous in Zwera. Moreover, Zwera’s noun classes are essentially an open system, with new classes being created to describe new phenomena.
  • -masakára > saká-
    melt:rock > CL(smelting)

    -ramu > ramu-
    discuss > CL(debate)

As a result, Zwera has hundreds of semantically full classes, a number which is more similar to Asian noun classifiers.

The lexicon gives subset of Zwera’s class prefixes, i.e. the classes I’ve come up so far. More will be added as we go along. The class prefixes mark both the class and number of the root. In general, singular class prefixes have no pitch effect while plurals are pull affixes, but there are a nonnegligible number of class prefixes which add -wa in the plural, suggesting that proto *ʔå- was a plural marker.
  • he-cheré, hé-cheré
    /ɣexereꜜ, ɣexeꜜre/ [ɣéxr̥é, xxérè]
    CL(environment)-hill, CL(environment).PL-hill
    “hill, hills”

    ko-nwicha, kowa-nwicha
    /konʷiꜜxa, kowanʷiꜜxa/ [gʷnʷíxà, kównʷíxà]
    CL(geology)-mountain, CL(geology).PL-mountain
    “mountain, mountains”
In some prefixes the plural is indicated by labiovelarization, which is likely related to -wa-.
  • mi-nafa, mwi-nafa
    /minaꜜfa, mʷinaꜜfa/ [nnáfà, nʷnʷáfà]
    CL(water)-river, CL(water).PL-river
    “river, rivers”
Mass nouns generally take plural prefixes.
  • mwi-si
    /mʷisiꜜ/ [nʷzʷí]
Many abstract nouns are thought of similarly to masses and also take plural prefixes.
  • ku-tatu, kú-tatu
    /kutaꜜtu, kuꜜtatu/ [ttátù, kúttù]
    CL(language)-word, CL(language).PL-word
    “word, words”

    /kuꜜzʷera/ [kúzʷrʷà]
    “Zwera language”

Zwera nouns distinguish six cases: nominative, accusative, dative, locative, lative, and ablative. The forms we have seen so far are for the nominative, which is unmarked. The other cases are marked by means of a case morpheme which is infixed before the word-final vowel.

The nominative indicates the sole argument of an intransitive verb or the agent-like argument of a transitive verb. It is marked with a zero infix -ø-.
  • Muzwer<ø>a mupadate.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupaꜜdate/ [nʷzʷérà mpáttè]
    golem<NOM> rest
    “The golem rests.”
The accusative indicates the patient-like argument of a transitive verb. It is marked with the infix -an-.
  • Muzwera muapáte kokar<an>a
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔapaꜜte kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà múppátè kkárnà]
    golem:NOM eat rock<ACC>
    “The golem eats the rock.”
The dative indicates the recipient or beneficiary of an action. It is marked with the pull infix -án-. This affix is written with the same form as the accusative to provide a slot to mark the shift in pitch, but is otherwise phonologically empty, such that the /an/ is not actually pronounced. The pull typically means that the downstep shifts to the right.
  • Muzwera murarate muzwer<án>a.
    /muzʷeꜜra muraꜜrate muzʷeraꜜ/ [nʷzʷérà mrár̥tè múzʷrʷá]
    golem:NOM shout golem<DAT>
    “The golem shouts to the golem.”
But a root with irregular accent, the original accent can lie to the right of the dative infix, in which case the downstep shifts to the left.
  • Muzwera murarate muma<án>á.
    /muzʷeꜜra muraꜜrate mumaꜜʔa/ [nʷzʷérà mrár̥tè mmáʔà]
    golem:NOM shout friend<DAT>
    “The golem shouts to his friend.”
The locative indicates the location or time where something occurs. It is marked with the infix -ok-.
  • Muzwera mupadate makab<ok>a.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupaꜜdate makaꜜboka/ [nʷzʷérà mpáttè ŋgákkà]
    golem:NOM rest room<LOC>
    “The golem rests in the room.”

    Muzwera mupadate wus<ok>u.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupaꜜdate wusokuꜜ/ [nʷzʷérà mpáttè wúskú]
    golem:NOM rest night<LOC>
    “The golem rests at night.”
The lative indicates movement towards a location or time. It is marked with the pull infix -ók-.
  • Muzwera muite makab<ók>a.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔiꜜte makaboꜜka/ [nʷzʷérà mˀíte mábbókà]
    golem:NOM go room<LAT>
    “The golem goes to the room.”

    Muzwera mutote tatwenoka wus<ók>u.
    /muzʷeꜜra mutoꜜte tatʷeꜜnoka wusoꜜku/ [nʷzʷérà ndótè tʷtʷéŋgà wsʷɤ́kù]
    golem:NOM stay work:LOC night<LAT>
    “The golem stays at work until night.”
The ablative indicates movement away from a location or time. It is marked with the push affix -òk-.
  • Muzwera muite makab<òk>a.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔiꜜte maꜜkaboka/ [nʷzʷérà mˀíte mábbòkà]
    golem:NOM go room<ABL>
    “The golem leaves the room.”

    Muzwera muite tatwenoka wus<òk>u.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔiꜜte tatʷeꜜnoka wusoku/ [nʷzʷérà mˀítè tʷtʷéŋgà wúskú]
    golem:NOM go work<LOC> night<ABL>
    “The golem goes to work after the night (at dawn).”
In the previous example, the push affix pushes the accent off the word. Because wusòku is at the end of the sentence, it is indistinguishable from the locative wusoku, which has word-final accent. The sentence could thus also be interpreted as “The golem goes to work at night.”, which is equally, if not more, plausible for a species created by nocturnals. This ambiguity can be resolved by fronting, since the locative will force a downstep while the ablative will flow into the next word.
  • Wus<òk>u muzwera muite tatwenoka.
    /wusoku muzʷeꜜra muʔiꜜte tatʷeꜜnoka/ [wúskú nʷzʷérà mˀítè tʷtʷéŋgà]
    night<ABL> golem:NOM go work<LOC>
    “The golem goes to work after the night (at dawn).”

    Wus<ok>u muzwera muite tatwenoka.
    /wusokuꜜ muzʷeꜜra muʔiꜜte tatʷeꜜnoka/ [wúskú mùzʷérà mˀítè tʷtʷéŋgà]
    night<LOC> golem:NOM go work<LOC>
    “The golem goes to work at night.”
Whereas the dative can be used to mark a beneficiary, the ablative can be used to mark a maleficiary.
  • Muzwera mumasate kokarana mumaáná.
    /muzʷeꜜra mumaꜜsate kokaꜜrana mumaꜜʔa/ [nʷzʷérà mmástè kkárnà mmáʔà]
    golem:NOM melt rock:ACC friend:DAT
    “The golem smelted the rock for his friend.”

    Muzwera muapáte kokarana mumaòká.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔapaꜜte kokaꜜrana mumaʔoka/ [nʷzʷérà múppátè kkárnà mmákká]
    golem:NOM eat rock:ACC friend:ABL
    “The golem ate the rock up on his friend.”
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

(Language 5)

Zwera verbs have the following form:
  • subject agreement + evidential + root + (object agreement) + (negative) + (interrogative) + TAM

Verbs must agree with the class and number of their subject, as so start with the same class prefix as the subject. The may also optionally agree with the class and number of the direct object, in which case the class prefix of the object follows the root.
  • Muzwera mu-ø-apá-te kokarana.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔapaꜜte kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà múppátè kkárnà]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-eat-NPST rocks
    “The golem eats the rock.”

    Muzwera mu-ø-apá-ko-te kokarana.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔapaꜜkote kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà múppáttè kkárnà]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-eat-CL(geology)-NPST rocks
    “The golem eats the rock.”
When the object is already topical it can be replaced by a pronoun with object agreement, or by a pronoun alone, or by object agreement alone, which is most common.
  • Muzwera mu-ø-apá-ko-te.
    /muzʷeꜜra muʔapaꜜkote/ [nʷzʷérà múppáttè]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-eat-CL(geology)-NPST rocks
    “The golem eats it.”

Evidentiality marking is mandatory in Zwera. Evidentials follow subject agreement and indicate the manner in which the information being stated was derived. Zwera has nine main evidentials divided into two groups: direct evidentials indicate that the information was obtained through firsthand experience, while indirect evidentials indicate the information is not firsthand.

Three of the main evidentials are direct:
  • visual sensory -ø-
    “I saw …”
    • Muzwera mu-ø-i-te.
      /muzʷeꜜra muʔiꜜte/ [nʷzʷérà mˀítè]
      golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-go-NPST
      “The golem goes. (I see him)”
  • auditory sensory -bu-
    “I heard …”
    • Muzwera mu-bu-i-te.
      /muzʷeꜜra mubuʔiꜜte/ [nʷzʷérà múbˀítè]
      golem CL(golem)-EV(auditory)-go-NPST
      “The golem goes. (I hear him)”
  • other sensory -u-
    “I tasted …”
    “I felt …”
    • Muzwera mu-u-pobe-ka-te.
      /muzʷeꜜra muʔupoꜜbekate/ [nʷzʷérà múppókkàtè]
      golem CL(golem)-EV(sensory)-lift-1s-NPST
      “The golem lifted me. (I felt it)”
The other six main evidentials are indirect:
  • inferential -uma-
    direct + logic
    “We know (from a direct source) therefore …”
    • Muzwera muapáté kowakarana kowabizí.
      /muzʷeꜜra muʔapateꜜ kowakaꜜrana kowabiziꜜ/ [nʷzʷérà mˀátté kòwkʷárnà kʷábzí]
      “The golem ate many rocks. (I saw him)”

      /muʔumafaꜜrakote/ [mˀúɱvár̥kòtè]
      “He must like them.”
  • assumptive -naá-
    indirect + logic
    “We know (from an indirect source) therefore …”
    • Múzwera múkwaapáte kowakarana kowabizí.
      /muꜜzʷera mukʷaʔaꜜpate kowakaꜜrana kowabiziꜜ/ [múzʷrʷà múkʷáttè kòwkʷárnà kʷábzí]
      “Golems eat a lot of rocks. (We all know)”

      /munaꜜʔafarakote/ [nnáʔfàrkòtè]
      “They must like them.”
  • quotative -ra-
    “I was told (by a direct source) that …”
    • Muzwera mu-ra-i-te wohamákoke.
      /muzʷeꜜra muraʔiꜜte woɣamaꜜkoke/ [nʷzʷérà múrˀítè wɤ́ɣmákkè]
      golem CL(golem)-EV(quotative)-go-NPST home
      “The golem said he’s going home.”
  • hearsay -para-
    “I was told (by an indirect source) that …”
    • Muzwera mu-para-i-te wohamákoke.
      /muzʷeꜜra muparaʔiꜜte woɣamaꜜkoke/ [nʷzʷérà mbárˀítè wɤ́ɣmákkè]
      golem CL(golem)-EV(hearsay)-go-NPST home
      “I hear that the golem is going home.”
  • common knowledge -kwa-
    “It is well known that …”
    • Múzwera mú-kwa-apá-te kowakarana kowabizí.
      /muꜜzʷera mukʷaʔaꜜpate kowakaꜜrana kowabiziꜜ/ [múzʷrʷà múkʷáttè kòwkʷárnà kʷábzí]
      golems CL(golem).PL-EV(common)-eat-NPST rocks many
      “Golems eat a lot of rocks. (We all know)”
  • internal -má-
    “I believe that …”
    “It’s my opinion that …”
    • Chu-má-fara-te kowakarana.
      /xumaꜜfarate kowakaꜜrana/ [ɣmáfr̥àtè kówkʷárnà]
      1s-EV(internal)-like-NPST rocks
      “I like rocks.”
It is important to note that the evidentials do not necessarily reflect the epistemic modality, probability, or confidence level of the event in question. Whenever a statement is made using reasoning from a set of premises, the inferential -uma- must be used if the premises are firsthand, and the assumptive -naá, if the premises are secondhand, even if the speaker is more confident about the latter than the former. That is to say that -naá- does not imply a lower confidence level than -uma-. We might at least expect the speaker to be more confident, or at least equally confident, about a statement supported by visual evidence rather than assumptive evidence, but who knows—even then you could be hallucinating :o

In addition to these nine main evidentials, Zwera also has other evidentials which are used in narrow situations. For example, there is a mentor evidential which is an extension of the quotative for knowledge imparted by a teacher.
  • Múzwera mú-só-masa-te kowakarana kowabizí.
    /muꜜzʷera musomasate kowakaꜜrana kowabiziꜜ/ [nʷzʷérà múzmásté kòwkʷárnà kʷábzí]
    golems CL(golem).PL-EV(mentor)-melt-NPST rocks many
    “Golems smelt many rocks. (I was taught)”
These evidentials are closely related to honorifics, but that’s for another post.

Tense, Aspect, and Mood

In the indicative mood, Zwera verbs conjugate for three tense-aspect distinctions: nonpast -te, past perfective -té, and past imperfective -tesú.
  • Muzwera mu-ø-pobe-te kokarana.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupoꜜbete kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà mbóttè kkárnà]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-lift-NPST rock
    “The golem lifts the rock.”

    Muzwera mu-ø-pobe-té kokarana.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupobeꜜte kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà múbbétè kkárnà]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-lift-PST.PFV rock
    “The golem lifted the rock.”

    Muzwera mu-ø-pobe-tésu kokarana.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupobeꜜtesu kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà múbbétsù kkárnà]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-lift-PST.IPFV rock
    “The golem was lifting the rock.”
In the subjunctive and conditional moods, Zwera verbs distinguish the nonpast from the past. The subjunctive is primarily used to make polite requests and in the dependent clause of if statements, while the conditional is primarily used in the independent clause of counterfactual if statements.

These irrealis moods often select particular evidentials. Requests are usually paired with the internal evidential -má-. In conditional sentences, the subjunctive verb that gives the predicate takes the evidential that marks the type of evidence needed to satisfy it. The conditional verb, in turn, takes either the inferential -uma-, if the subjunctive verb is direct, the assumptive -naá-, if it is indirect, or -kwa-, if the consequence is thought to be common knowledge.

The nonpast subjunctive is indicated by -daru, or, especially in imperatives, by its short form -dá. The nonpast conditional is indicated by -dare.
  • La-má-pobe-ko-dá.
    /lamapoꜜbekoda/ [lámbókkòdà]
    “Lift it.”

    La-ø-pobe-ko-daru, chú-uma-apá-ko-dare.
    /lapoꜜbekodaru xuʔumaʔaꜜpakodare/ [l̥pókkòdrù kˀxˀúmˀákkòdrè]
    2s-EV(visual)-lift-CL(geology)-NPST.SUBJ 1p-EV(inferential)-eat-CL(geology)-NPST.COND
    “If you lifted it (and we saw you), we would eat it.”
The past subjunctive is indicated by -daro, while the past conditional is indicated by daré. Note that in a polysyllabic pull affix like this one, the accent on the second syllable indicates that the downstep moves two syllables towards the affix.
  • La-ra-pobe-ko-daro, chú-naá-apá-ko-daré.
    /larapoꜜbekodaro xunaʔaʔaꜜpakodare/ [lár̥pókkòdrò ɣnáʔʔákkòdrè]
    2s-EV(quotative)-lift-CL(geology)-PST.SUBJ 1p-EV(assumptive)-eat-CL(geology)-PST.COND
    “If you had lifted it (and told us), we would have eaten it.”
In contrast to counterfactual conditionals, implicative and predictive conditionals take indicative forms in the independent clause.
  • Mú-naá-chawa-dá mwina, mwi-kwa-kare-te.
    /munaʔaꜜxawada mʷinaꜜ mʷikʷakaꜜrete/ [múnˀáxʷàdà nʷnʷá mìkʷkʷár̥tè]
    CL(golem).PL-EV(assumptive)-heat-NPST.SUBJ water CL(water).PL-EV(common)-boil-NPST
    “If you heat water, it will boil.”
    “When someone heats water, it boils.”
In the previous example, the plural golem class mú- is used similarly to English’s generic “you”. The assumptive evidential is used because it doesn't matter whether you see the water being heated, or if you conclude the water is being heated indirectly; as long as you can logically deduce that the water is being heated, then it is common knowledge that it will boil.


Zwera verbs are negated through the suffix -kosu-.
  • Muzwera mu-ø-pobe-kosu-te kokarana.
    /muzʷeꜜra mupoꜜbekosute kokaꜜrana/ [nʷzʷérà mbókkòstè kkárnà]
    golem CL(golem)-EV(visual)-lift-NEG-NPST rock
    “The golem does not lift the rock.”
That's all for now. Thanks for reading!
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Years 2500 to 4000
(History 2)

Continued from Years 0 to 2500

Picking up from the last post, the golems of Dwilocha were originally a set of isolated nomadic bands, roaming the island not in search of food but to catalogue its workings, until the Zörachok expanded into the west plain around the year 2500. Over the next century, the nightpeople drove the golems all the way into the coastal waters, where they found reprieve and united to establish themselves as the Zwera. Initially the Zwera existed as a somewhat loose confederation driven by desperation, but as the animosity between the golems and nightpeople reduced to skirmishes and was replaced by trade, the economic and social ties between the golem bands grew into a unified political entity, Dwína "land of the waters", which straddled the western coast.
The golem bands were traditionally organized along knowledge- or experience-based lines, led by a set of elders who maintained the bands knowledge base and carried it on to the next generation through oral tradition. This hierarchy was carried over to Dwína, and, as the golem population grew, was formalized. The Súmuda /suꜜmuda/ [súndà] was created circa 2650 to oversee the education and licensing of the Zwera. It was a council of twenty-one golems from seven different fields. The three experts in each field comprised a sumuda /sumuꜜda/ [zmúdà] and were given the power to grant licenses to practice in their fields, and were required to establish a system for candidates to be trained and licensed. Generally the sumudas gave licenses to other leading members of the field and allowed any licensed member with at least 30 years of experience to train apprentices, who were brought to the sumuda for testing whenever their mentor considered them ready. A common practice was to allow members with 40 years of experience to conduct their own testing and to submit expedited licensing requests to the sumuda. Meanwhile, the Súmuda as a whole met regularly to determine matters related to all the fields, such as the establishment of a common currency and foreign policy regarding the Zörachok.
By 2800, the Súmuda had expanded into a large guild system. There were now twenty fields, each still represented by a three-person leadership board, but the term sumuda now applied to the entire guild, which comprised subcommittees for various guild matters and administrative personnel to oversee training, testing, and licensing. A new matter that fell to the sumudas was to regulate the creation of new golems. Following the Zörachok invasion, golem creation had become a more-or-less free-for-all, with the golem population growing exponentially as the golems attempted to correct the population imbalance between them and the nightpeople. By 2800, it became clear that the population was growing faster than infrastructure development could support, resulting in increasing poverty and criminal elements. Circa 2820, the Súmuda made it so that golems had to apply to the guild of their membership in order to create a new golem, with the primary factor in the approval of the application being the number of new golems the applicant had already created and the number of new golems allocated to the applicant's guild. It was not necessarily the case that new golems joined the sumuda of their parent, but it was a common practice and thus used to predict population demand. There was some pushback against this new policy, with several protests in its year of implementation, but the Súmuda pressed on and the rate of population growth slowed to more sustainable levels.
Up until now, the Zwera remained in the coastal waters and along the coast, developing increasingly effective fishing practices, conducting a wealth of studies of marine biology, building underwater and floating structures, improving the speed and range of sailboats, and trading their seafood, watercraft, tools, and methods with the Zörachok. The Zörachok allowed for pre-approved ventures into their territory, but especially in the early years the specter of the golems remained too strong for the nightpeople to allow for open access. But by 2900, most of the old animosity had been forgotten, and travel between the Zwera coast and the Zörachok inland opened up. This allowed the golems to rediscover areas of research related to terrestrial biology, and collaboration with Zörachok researchers lead to huge improvements in nutrition and medicine. As the golems returned to the mountain ranges, and mining expanded, their came another big discovery: metallurgy. Tin, lead, and copper were smelted in the early 2900s, and by 3000s bronze tools were making their way around the island. Due to their underwater nature, the Zwera focused much time and effort developing seawater-resistant bronze alloys, which, as they became more reliable, allowed for underwater infrastructure to be constructed more quickly.
The other benefit of increased cooperation with the Zörachok was the discovery of writing. The first samples of Zörachok writing date to the late 2900s, with administrative records increasingly common throughout the 3000s. By 3200 the writing system was used all over Dgülorch, and in 3230, the Súmuda appointed a committee to adapt this writing system for Zwera. The golem writing system used stone and clay tablets, which were useable underwater; later these would be supplanted by wax tablets for greater portability and reusability. The writing system allowed the golems to record vast sums of knowledge which had previously been carried by oral tradition alone, and marked a shift in educational practices.
Tensions between the Zwera and Zörachok rose again in 3415, when two principal members of the Súmuda, one a director of the stoneworking guild and the other, of the fisheries guild, were assassinated, crushed to gravel. Initial indications pointed to Zörachok aggression, since the attack had occurred during a tour of the western plain, and the Súmuda responded by ceasing all trade with the Zörachok. But further investigation by the nightpeople brought new evidence that suggested that the attack had been conducted by golems, and after a tense pair of weeks the Súmuda confirmed that the attack had been perpetrated by an underground Zwera band which opposed the Súmuda, arguing against the closed way in which new directors were appointed and the taxes that the sumudas levied on their members, which they viewed as heavy and cumbersome. In truth, these views were shared by many, but the assassinations marked the first time they had been expressed violently, rather than in grumbling among friends. There were two key changes that arose from this event: the first was the creation of the Kinakázi /kinakaꜜzi/ [kìŋgázì], an elite force designed specifically to protect directors of the Súmuda; the second was the opening up of director appointments to voting: when a position opened up, nominees were still vetted and selected internally by the current directors and administration of the sumuda, but the final appointee was chosen by majority vote of all members of the sumuda of a certain manner of standing. The exact requirements varied from sumuda to sumuda, but the fisheries guild, for example, required voting members to be of at least 50 years of standing and to have trained one licensed apprentice. The Súmuda also imposed term limits of 30 years for all sumuda directors, although a golem could serve any number of terms as long as they were separated by at least 5 years of sabbatical. This had been practiced in a small majority of the sumudas since an earlier declaration in 3320, and in some of the sumudas since their inception, but the declaration of 3415 extended it to all.
Technological development continued throughout the millennium. The first true oceangoing ships were built around 3500, and it was in that century that the first Zwera expeditions arrived on another continent, landing to the west of the Ďomün. The Zwera established an outpost in this area, sending crews out regularly to catalogue the new world, but did not venture far from the northwest coasts. These early adventures didn't discover the other cultures on the continent, but they did discover a wealth of iron ores. These ores went largely unused for the next couple of centuries, since they were not amenable to then-current smelting practices, but became of huge importance in the mid 3800s, when Zörachok metallurgy advanced to the point where extracting useable iron from iron ores became tractabe. Iron soon supplanted bronze in Zörachok industry, but the Zwera generally rejected it because bronze had better resistance to seawater corrosion. The Zwera were thus a primary producer of raw iron ores and iron tools for export to the Zörachok mainland.
Last edited by Sevly on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Zwera Neighbourhoods (c. 4000)
(Culture 1)

Politically, the Zwera organize themselves through the sumudas, or guilds, which administrate a particular profession across Zwera territory through departments in each city and comittees in the neighbourhoods in which the profession is prominent. Geographically, the neighbourhoods are alloted a particular strip of the coastline and extend into the surrounding waters—for this reason, they tend to be called záwana /zaꜜwana/ [záwnʷà] "beaches", such as in Záwakosi /zaꜜwakosi/ [záwkʷòsì] "Kosi beach" in the capital city Mihamáke /miɣamaꜜke/ [míɣmákè], which at the turn of the millenium looked something like the diagram below (click for full image).

Last edited by Sevly on Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Zwera Government (c. 4000)
(Culture 2)

The Sumudas

The core unit of Zwera government is the professional organization or guild, which is called a sumuda [zmúdà]. The sumuda controls the practice of a particular profession throughout Zwera society, and is responsible for the training and licencing of members, enforcing the right to practice, maintaining, recording, developing, and expanding standards of practice and procedure, and ensuring the overall wellbeing of its members. Each sumuda is fully autonomous and determines its own internal structure and behaviour. The policies and rules of conduct that members must follow and by which the guild is administered are typically a mixture of written documents and unwritten conventions referred to collectively as the rámuruda rámusumudánane [rámrùdà rmúzmúdnè], the guild code, often shortened to rámuruda, the guidelines, where each individual guideline is a ramuruda [rámrúdà]. The amount of detail that is actually recorded in the code varies from sumuda to sumuda, but there is a tendency towards case-based reasoning, such that the actual codes are typically short and give broad directions while minutiae are resolved case-by-case with reference to previous decisions that have refined the guidelines.
Most sumudas share the base structure shown above. The sumuda is composed of various boards or committees, which determine and enforce guild policy, and departments, which manage the day-to-day tasks of running the guild. The departments are referred to collectively as the administration, and the head of the department is an administrator. The Leadership Board is composed of a set of executives elected by an eligible subset of the membership, typically determined by a minimum number of years standing or completed commissions and, in some guilds, an minimum score following performance review. The head of the board, and thus of the sumuda as a whole, is called the director, while other executives are referred to as assistant directors. This distinction is typically not codified: properly speaking, the term director applies to all members of the leadership board, with one director being chosen as a first-among-equals, but this usage is reserved for formal situations. The remaining boards are referred to as the Advisory, and their members, advisors, since they interpret the guidelines provided by the leadership, investigate discrepancies, discipline offending members, and advise the leadership of their ongoing analysis of guild policy.

Each sumuda monopolizes an industry and provides a centralized exchange for their services. Clients apply to the sumuda, where the Operations or Services Department negotiates a rate for the project and forwards the commission to an eligible member. The sumuda takes a cut of the commission ranging from 5 to 45 percent, depending on the sumuda and the seniority of the fulfilling member. Some sumudas allow clients to select a particular member for an extra fee, and a few sumudas allow members to advertise their services independently at a commission surcharge of 10 to 20 percent.

The relative power of the guilds is determined by cultural and economic factors. The fishing industry is one of Zwera’s largest, with huge exports to the Zörachok mainland, making the Fisheries Guild well-funded and well-respected. Similarly, the Stoneworking Guild, which provides “food” for the Zwera and the traditional basis for infrastructure and architecture, is one of the powerhouses. The Bronzeworking Guild has surpassed the stoneworkers in terms of economic output, but it is younger than its parent guild and less venerable, though it still carries considerable weight. The largest guilds are Fisheries, Shipbuilding, Stoneworking, Bronzeworking, Lightworking, Floatery, Architecture, Lighthousing, Machinery, Exploratory, Writing, and Medical. Smaller guilds tend to be affiliated with larger ones: Mapmaking with the Exploratory Guild, Glassworking with the Stoneworking Guild, Forestry and Woodworking with the Shipbuilding Guild, Painting with the Writing Guild, and so on.

The Súmuda

Súmuda [súndà] is the plural of sumuda, and can be used to refer to refer to two or more guilds. When used with singular agreement, however, it is a reference to the body, made up of three representatives from each of the guilds, that meets regularly to decide on the direction for Zwera as a whole. The Súmuda is a bottom-up rather than top-down structure: the sumudas are fully autonomous and ultimately determine their own policies, but have agreed to collaborate and work together to address cross-cutting concerns. The Súmuda can thus be compared to intergovernmental associations such as the United Nations. Membership in the Súmuda is mandatory but its decisions are not technically binding: the purpose of the body, as carried by convention since its founding circa 2650 and codified in the late 3200s, is to provide guidelines which the sumudas can refine or even disregard.

In practice, the Súmuda makes two types of decisions: statements, which are not intended to be binding, and declarations, which are. Declarations are enforced through trade sanctions, with supporting guilds imposing surcharges on members of nonobservant guilds. An exception to this rule is the annual Statement of Facts, which is enforced more strongly than a declaration and contains such matters as targets for golem creation, minimum and maximum commission taxes, unified crime reduction targets, and the state of foreign policy.

Each guild sends exactly three representatives to the Súmuda, regardless of size. The representatives are typically members of the Leadership Board, including the director, although the Shipbuilding Guild is notable in excluding its director from the Súmuda. In theory, the constant size allows for an equal voice for all the guilds, but in practice the larger guilds exert there influence through their affiliates and there are regular voting blocs. To pass a statement or declaration, any representative can prepare a draft and then submit it to the floor, but by convention drafts are prepared and considered within one of the voting blocs and are not presented until they have support within the block. The draft is then announced for an upcoming session and made available for consideration outside the Súmuda, although there is no guarantee that the working draft will be the same as the final copy submitted to the floor, since there is intense lobbying in the weeks leading up to the proposal and amendments tend to be incorporated during this time.

The Súmuda has no independent administrative personnel. Instead, the major guilds have dedicated departments which are used internally and by their affiliates for the development and processing of Súmuda proposals. Similarly, the Súmuda has no fixed headquarters or legislature; sessions are hosted by a particular sumuda, with the hosting schedule cycling through the sumudas. Once again, smaller sumudas tend to host with the support of larger ones, and there are a few auditoriums which are commonly reused. Most sessions occur in Mihamáke, but the Súmuda visits at least two other cities each year.

There are a few standing guild rivalries and alliances. The largest voting blocs coalesce around the Fisheries and Stoneworking Guilds, which often have opposing viewpoints, particularly regarding the environmental effects of the quarries and underwater development and continually seek to limit the other’s reach. The Bronzeworking Guild is very competitive with its parent guild, particularly when it comes to infrastructure development contracts, but the two guilds work to present a unified front in the Súmuda. In contrast, the Shipbuilding Guild is friendly with the Fisheries Guild both within the Súmuda and without, as are the Lightworkng and Lighthousing Guilds.
Last edited by Sevly on Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Map of Dwína (c. 4000)
(Culture 3)

(click for full image)

Dwína's territorial claim extends only a few kilometers inland, sometimes even less than a kilometer, but includes several hundred kilometers of territorial waters, including the entire insular or continental shelf and a significant portion of the deep waters beyond. Dwína negotiates sea lanes with Dwízwera (the Zörachok west), while the waters surrounding Dwichoka (the Zörachok east) are currently controlled by the nightpeople but have often been disputed.

Circa 4000, the central and most populous city in Dwína is Mihamáke [míɣmákè] (population 220,000). Other cities include Konehama [kóŋɣámà] (population 108,000), which is the center for Dwína's exploratory navy, Konemaka [kómmákà] (population 56,000), which is close to the mountains, a major hub for the mining industry, and the home of the Stoneworking Guild, Imáka [ʔmˀákà] (population 52,000), which is known as the home of the Writing and Library Guilds and used as a knowledge base by researchers across the sumudas, and the relatively new Konepote [kómpótè] (population 33,000), which has boomed as a center for iron- and glassworking as well as serving as a port for extensive fishing in the north sea and trade with Dwichoka.

Dwína's territory is patrolled by the navy and marked through outposts, the largest of these, from north to south, being Danesuta [dánsútà], Danesoro [dánsórò], Danebare [dámbárè], Danemuhuro [dámmúɣrò], and Danega [dáŋgá].

User avatar
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: (x, y, z, t)

Re: Zwera Language and Culture (CCC)

Post by Sevly »

Freedom of Purpose
(Culture 4)

This is already pretty long, so I'm going to write the second half later.

History (Part 1)

Since the Declaration of Organized Golem Creation in 2820, the Zwera added to their number through a process whereby guild members applied to their sumuda and requested the creation of a new golem. Although it was not required de jure that the new golem join the sumuda of his creator, this was the common practice to the point of becoming a de facto requirement. When a fisher needed an apprentice, for example, he would apply to the Fisheries Guild and, if the guild was below its allotment as given in the Súmuda’s annual Statement of Facts, a new golem would be created and assigned to apprentice under the applicant.

The actual work of creating the golem was performed by the Golemry Guild, which like all the guilds kept its actual processes as internal secrets and only provided the final results. But a recurring issue throughout the history of the guild was the question of whether new technologies should be incorporated into the golems being created, or whether they should be designed in the same way as preexisting golems. The traditionalist school dominated the 2000s and early 3000s, but in 3418 the guild saw its first modernist-leaning director, Hamuda Sumaròka [ɣándà súmròkà], the winner of the election triggered by the extension of voting to senior members by the Súmuda’s declaration three years earlier. The most extreme modernists wished to incorporate new joint technologies that would allow for increased flexibility and greater precision and a complete redesign of the eyes and vision processing cortex that would allow for sight of darklight not visible to the existing golem eye. Hamuda, however, was of a more conservative mindset that was willing to make only the changes that could be easily retrofitted to preexisting golems through the decennial repair process, in order to avoid creating a second class of citizens. His team set up a detailed process for approving design changes, of which backwards compatibility was a core component, and created the Golemry Improvement Department (GID) to administrate the process.

A key component of Hamuda’s reforms was reinterpreting and then reaffirming the Golemry Guild’s commitment to the Doctrine of Single Design, a principle in Zwera philosophy going back to the Zörachok invasion which stated that the common design shared by the golems is what unites them. While the traditionalists had used this principle to oppose any and all changes to golemry, Hamuda asserted that advances in golemry were not violations of single design as long as they could be applied universally. Delays and appeals from the traditionalists, who still held significant weight, resulted in nearly forty years of inaction, but in the end Hamuda’s interpretation won out: in 3455 the guild began incorporating bronze alloys into the master design, allowing better inherent resistance to seawater corrosion. Similar surface changes continued throughought the millenium.

A new round of trouble began with the election of Atama Tikòka [ádmà tíkká] as director of the Golemry Guild in 4011. Atama himself was a golem of standard opinions and average countenance and was elected largely as a compromise candidate, but he appointed Sule Sasara [súlè ssárà], a longtime friend, as the head of the GID. Sule was rather radical in his thinking, but he hid the worst of it and was far more charismatic than his superior. Sule acquired the trust and respect of his subordinates, and under his lead the GID became increasingly independent of its parent guild. In 4015 Sule moved the GID offices from the Golemry Guild headquarters in Záwakapa [záwkʷàpà] (Kapa beach), near Mihamáke’s major quarries, to a new building in Záwamutena [záwmʷùdnà] (Mutena beach), a newer community with greater cross traffic between the established Stoneworking and Bronzeworking Guilds and the emerging ironworking industry, with Mutena beachport being the main receiving point for shipments from the Dwimun colony. The GID argued that the new location would allow them to work more closely with the main sources of improvement projects, and it was clear that the space freed up at the guild headquarters was well appreciated as operations expanded to handle a rapidly increasing number of golem creation requests, but many questioned the unilateral nature of move, which the GID had executed without consulting the guild at large. Sule apologized and promised to work within guild procedure in the future, and Atama accepted his apology without further comment.

Still, it became clear over the ensuing years that the GID was reporting less about its operations than it had under previous administration, with terse annual releases about the state of pending improvement proposals replacing its traditionally more-detailed quarterly reports. The relationship between the guild and GID continued to fray, but the true extent of the latter’s independence only became clear in 4026, when it leaked that the GID had been working alongside a team in the Stoneworking Guild to design golems with digits uniquely tailored for sculpting stone. The leak, which was a scandal by itself, grew with the exposure of other similar projects outside the GID, with several completely outside the standard system for golem creation.

The Súmuda convened in an emergency session and declared a moratorium on all golemry while official investigations could be conducted. The Golemry Guild opened an internal investigation, to be conducted by a team of ten investigators that would report to the advisors on the guild’s Investigation Board, while the remaining guilds created its own investigative team, composed of investigators chosen randomly from the guilds not under scrutiny, which would report its findings directly to the Súmuda. Sule and his team responded in a press conference where they denied all wrongdoing, asserted that the leaked documents were conceptual drawings that were being evaluated like any other project and which would be generalized in any final design, and finished by expressing their disappointment over the “tremendous negative impacts of the impending failure to satisfy this year’s record number of apprenticeship applications”. Atama, in a rare show of spine that was no doubt forced from below, followed the next day by demanding the immediate resignation of his onetime friend. Sule refused.

The rift between the Golemry Guild and the GID that had been growing over the last decade now became official. Sule accused the Golemry Guild of gross inefficiency, claimed that its roundabout bureaucracy was stifling his department, and citing the golemry projects that had been carried outside the guild as evidence of Atama’s incompetence; he then announced that the GID would continue its operations independently and would be applying for membership in the Súmuda as its own guild. The application was supported by the Stoneworking and Bronzeworking Guilds and would be appended to a proposal, scheduled for the upcoming session, which would incorporate the various ironworking research teams into a guild. The battle lines were soon drawn: most doubted the GID’s explanation of the leaked documents, but Sule had acquired many allies both before and during his tenure, and with the considerable weight of the stoneworkers behind him was able to garner the support of a considerable number of sumudas. On the other side, a coalition gathered more in spite of than as a result of Atama’s lobbying. It comprised the Fisheries Guild, which opposed Stoneworkers Guild as a matter of course, joined by its usual affiliates, by the sumudas whose suspicion of a department under investigation won over Sule’s charisma and the stoneworkers’ lobbying, and by the few sumudas who felt that ironworking did not yet present enough potential to form a full guild, headed first and foremost by the Exploratory Guild, which currently controlled the iron ores discovered on Dwimun and their path to the Zörachok mainland.

Heading into the vote, the numbers were tight, and it was unclear which side would win. But as was convention for guild splits, both Atama and Sule where called to state their positions on the floor. Atama’s speech was halting and uncoordinated, while Sule spoke with confidence and clarity, and the contrast made his criticisms of Atama’s administration more poignant. The huge float party held that night at Mutena Beach echoed the end result: the stone and bronzeworkers would be joined by an Ironworking Guild, and Sule was the director of the new Golemry Improvement Guild (GIG). The next morning, it was Atama who was being asked to resign.

As was the convention, the new guilds were created on probation, with no voting powers until the year following their first election. And the GIG in particular was still under investigation by both the Golemry Guild and the Súmuda, and so had its assets frozen pending the results of the investigations. Still, Sule moved forward with funding from his allies. The banners from the party had barely been cleared away before the GIG was bringing contractors in to renovate its headquarters, and in two weeks the new guild had created a production line for golem creation that surpassed the quality, though not the capacity, of those in the original golemry guild. The administrative structure of the department-turned-guild also needed to be reorganized, and the GIG announced that its first elections would be held six months after the closure of all pending investigations, to affirm its commitment to proper governance.

By this time the investigate teams had found their footing, and the first investigative team arrived at the GIG headquarters. Though on the surface the GIG was cooperative, the investigators were unable to make progress: many of the members who were available for interview where newer and had limited knowledge of the then-department’s operations, while older personnel provided long statements that used many words but, digging deeper, said very little other than to confirm Sule’s official statements with a precision that implied collusion. Moreoever, the renovations at the new guild made it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to recover old documents, leaving the investigators with little more than they had come with: they knew that there had been some drawings for golems designed specifically for stoneworking, but it remained unclear whether they had been part of a larger project and how far that project was along.

The investigative team at the Stoneworking Guild headquarters had no better luck, at least not initially, until they stumbled upon the record of a Rulo Lwamakána [rúlò lʷáŋgá], a stoneworker who had left Mutena for Konepote a few weeks before the leak. The team tracked him to Konepote only to find that he had left Dwína entirely and was now somewhere in Dwichoka. This was the discovery that really piqued the investigators interest, and they decided that if Rulo was running from something, or someone, they had to find him soon and they had to find him quietly. The team broke into pairs, with two pairs heading to Minfark and Varok, which were the two most common ports of entry into Dwichoka from Konepote. Another pair headed over the mountains to Cholvrgok, where locals confirmed the passage of a golem three days earlier, though they failed to give useful identifying features since, and I quote, “they all look the same to me” (a claim which has more than a kernel of truth for golems). Still, the townspeople were able to direct the pair downriver towards Tgar lake. It was in a small town along the way that they made a significant find: a wealth of documents detailing the carving digits project, signed by Rulo and left with a note that he wished to be left alone but hoped the documents could be useful to them.

The pair returned to Konepote where they reconnected, as planned, with the rest of their team, and then retreated to Tama island, close to the libraries of Imáka but outside the watch of the stoneworking research offices in the city itself. There they studied Rulo’s documents, which proved that the project had been far beyond the conceptual stage and that the production of prototype had been schedule for the following week, suggesting that the timing of the leak had hardly been coincidental. After three months of scrutinty, the committee released an indicting report, whose recommendations, amongst which were the resignations of the directors of the golemry, stoneworking, and bronzeworking guilds, and the freezing of the assets of the new golemry improvement and ironworking guilds pending further investigation, would be discussed in a Súmuda session in three weeks time, to be held in Imáka at the Library Guild.

The first of those directors had already resigned, but the others pushed back, calling the report a gross fabrication, the entirety of its evidence based on an imaginary witness who was nowhere to be found and the end result nothing more than a power-hungry attempt to discredit guilds both old and new. Who had been appointed to this investigative committee, anyways? No stoneworkers or golemers—that would have been a conflict of interest—but was it not also a conflict of interest to appoint officials from the Fisheries Guild, who had campaigned in favour of Atama’s corrupt administration? Or of the Exploratory Guild, who had campaigned against the incorporation of the ironworkers because they wanted to keep the iron ores of Dwimun, and the wealth that came from trading them to the Zörachok, to themselves? It was a joke, they argued, and the Súmuda’s obligation, to throw the report out.

Meanwhile, there was a relatively young golem named Matasa Awó [mátsà ʔáwó] (born Matasa Pirimána [mátsà pr̥ímà]), who was only in his late forties at the time of these events. Matasa was created as an apprentice lightworker, hence his original service name Pirimána (referencing pirimadite, an ore commonly used in lightworking). Matasa never enjoyed the craft: several times he attempted to apply to other guilds, but was rebuffed each time. In the late 2000s it had been common for young golems to change professions, and in any case a golem could expect to have several careers over the course of his lifetime. This practice decreased over the millenia, with increasing stratification, such that switching guilds was uncommon in the mid 3000s and unheard of by 4000, a reality that Matasa ran into headfirst.

After his failed attempts to counter expectations, Matasa continued his training and came to excel at his work, passing his apprenticeship exam at age 29. Matasa then worked as a junior lightworker for five years, from 4007-4012, until a late night spent venting his frustrations to a recent acquaintance, who introduced him to a group of others who were similarly discontent with the professions they had been born into. They were initially little more than a group of friends who met weekly to share food and frustration, but as they compared their interests and skills they decided that they could work on more fulfilling projects together than they received through their guilds. They took on underground contracting projects and shared their knowledge so that everyone could learn about the subjects they were most curious about from those for whom the knowledge had been forced. The concept grew in popularity over the ensuing years, although the groups remained distributed in order to avoid detection, since the exchange of secrets was a clear violation of guild codes.

In 4020 Matasa participated in a tour of Dgülorch and lived in Cheirrngu, the Zörachok capital, for a year. The period was key to refining his philosophy: the experience of children and adolescents was far different than that of apprentices in Dwína, who were more or less thrust into adulthood. Matasa realized that it would be useful to have a period where golems were able to explore the word before committing to a profession. It was during this period that Matasa dropped his guild-based service name Pirimána and took on the name Awó, which means “unknown”, reflecting his belief that a golem’s service should be undetermined, something discoverered in life rather than decided at birth.

Matasa returned to Dwína and began refinining his ideas for golem adolescence, travelling around the cities and, with the help of insiders who were part of the underground chain, observing how each guild trained their apprentices, from which he extracted common elements and designed a program for universal education. Matasa collaborated with his peers on areas of their specific interest, but kept his integrated framework to himself: Matasa completed the central concept in 4022 and refined it over the next four years: it involved the creation of a new intersumuda organization, which would be funded by a flat tax on the sumudas’ operating incomes and have its own independent administration, though policy would be set by the Súmuda. The organization would implement Matasa’s Takunada Takwata Taakwapedemute [kkúndà kʷkʷátà tˀápʷpʷédmùtè], the Common Development Program (CDP), which would take place during the first ten to fifteen years of the a golem’s life and would include a cycle of short-term apprenticeships, with a general introduction to Zwera society in the first year, administered by the organization, followed by ten mandatory half-year placements in years two through six, administered by the guilds, and finishing with final placements of any length, chosen by the candidates, in the final four years. Candidates could then apply for formal apprenticeship in a guild, or could continue in the CDP for up to five more years.

Like many in Dwína in 4026, Matasa was following the golemry fiasco and, through his contacts, heard the details of the investigative report and of the upcoming Súmuda session. To him, the stoneworkers’ attempts to create golems designed specifically for their service was the culmination of the determinism that had settled upon Zwera society, the same determinism that he and his colleagues had suffered through and that he had been working for four years to address. The upcoming session was the perfect opportunity to present his program against the backdrop of the failures of the current path. Súmuda sessions had been open to the public since their inception, and though only representatives could submit drafts, anyone, even a common lightworker like Matasa, could request to speak.

The day of the session arrived, and the water was tense. The Library Guild had moved the session to the open-water Imáka Central Ridge, both because the number of spectators was considerably larger than usual and because they were hesistant to bring the warring delegations into their headquarters. Word had spread, and there were over 8,000 golems packed onto the ridge alongside the 162 representatives. It was said that Imáka’s population doubled that day—a hyperbole, but indeed there were visitors from all over Dwína. The arrival of Sule and his associates was met with both cheers and jeers, echoing the divided spirit of the sumudas.

The session began with the head of the investigative committee reading his findings and recommendations, in which the only change from the original release was to reiterate the validity of the informant’s documentation and his status as an insider at the Mutena Beach offices of the Stoneworking Guild, as well as the necessity of limiting further details, such as his name and where and how the documents had been recovered, at the informant’s request and for his protection. The stoneworkers and their bloc followed by repeating the arguments that they had promoted over the preceding weeks: that the said informant did not exist and that the documents had been fabricated. They noted that the seal of the supposed originating guild was missing, to which the committee and its defendants responded by asking who would put their seal on documents created under an illegal project. They noted that they could just as easily present their own set of documents, from their own informant, proving that the Fisheries Guild had colluded with Atama and the Golemry Guild to exceed their alloted golem creation numbers—and then Sule did just that, submitting to the floor a report, supported by documents provided to his team by an informant within the office of his onetime superior, proving the impropriety and recommending the resignation of the fisheries director, Panú Sulaka [pánú sl̥àkà].

The uproar was tremendous. Sule stood and waved to the crowd, and this time there were more cheers than jeers. It is said that the fisheries director flipped the table at which his associates were sitting, although this is unlikely. Still, Panú was almost certainly caught off guard by Sule’s strategy, and it took several minutes to quiet both representatives and crowd. In the end, Panú moved to adjourn the session until the next night in order to consider both the investigator’s findings and the defendant’s counterarguments, a motion that was approved by the many flummoxed representatives.

To be continued

Post Reply