Vocab time: Languages and peoples
(I'm doing this now partly because getting down at least some information about the culture makes the language feel more "real" to me and I don't think I'm alone in this, and partly because it will make it easier to talk about the language and its dialects and registers in upcoming lessons.)
As I said before, Chavakani (chavákání in the language itself) is a name used to refer to the language, and derives from chavá "speech; dialect" and kání (archaic) "marketplace". It is also sometimes referred to as sîmá yángání "our language" (which sometimes includes Chavakani's immediate relatives as well; in opposition to fully "foreign" tongues spoken farther afield) or as chavá ndróyo "common dialect". In official or written contexts, it is typically referred to as chavá ndróyo or as chavá Kímâo "Kimao dialect", for the metropolitan center whose dialect is traditionally prestigious. (Literary standard Chavakani derives heavily from archetypal Kimao speech; actual spoken Chavakani is more of a muddle.)
You may note that none of these terms reference an ethnic group. This is because, as its speakers are well aware, the range of Chavakani doesn't quite line up with any one ethnic identity. Although the vast majority of Chavakani's speakers are Chondru (chondrú) peoples, Chondru is a very broad ethnic category on the scale of "Celt" or "Slav" and, although Chavakani and dialects mutually intellgible with it are far and away the most widely spoken, the majority of Chondru speak something else. As far as subdivisions of the Chondru are concerned, a plurality of native Chavakani speakers are ethnic Vauka (váuka) while plenty of other native speakers are other Chondru ethnicities. Many others learn Chavakani as a lingua franca to deal with other peoples.
The Chondru are a Bronze Age agricultural people that live in a network of tropical forest and grassland. I haven't decided very much about their culture yet, but they have a tradition of ancestor worship and a set of mores based around large, heavily interconnected extended families. They have developed writing, and although it still isn't a norm for common people to be fully literate or have formal education, literacy is rather high for a culture at this stage of technological development. Although the Chondru's traditional haunt is currently experiencing peace, they have fought each other at various times and have occasionally united against outside groups. Aside from intra-Chondru trade, the Vauka and other western Chondru groups trade extensively with nomadic pastoralists of the grasslands such as the Mvithizu. I might make a separate thread on the Mvithizu people and their language at some point in the future. A far-away people the Chondru know almost nothing about have started to make and shape iron, and iron tools are starting to arrive in Chondru territory through the relatively low-tech Mvithizu. Physically, the Chondru exhibit a wide range of appearances due to interbreeding with other racial groups, but on average their closest analogue on Earth is the peoples of Southeast Asia, with medium-dark to dark skin, frizzy hair, minimal body hair, epicanthic folds, and small stature.
Some phenomena that could be described as "magic" work in this setting, and so as a result there are some forms of technology that don't quite correspond to anything in our world. For example, although rapid transportation doesn't exist (the most advanced ride available is the ox-drawn cart), rapid long-distance communication does exist in the form of "entangled" echoing rocks that stay connected no matter how far apart they are. (This is still something mainly possessed by the well-off. The common people are less likely to have them.) Through some kind of supernatural overclocking of the body's functions achieved through rigorous physical and mental discipline, wizard-like sages can perform superhuman feats of physical and mental prowess and survive normally lethal injury, although they can't do anything qualitatively different from what humans can ordinarily do, except in folktales. Also, aside from other human groups, the Chondru interact with illusion-generating supernatural beings that for now I'm calling "fairies" (although they differ in some ways from the traditional Western conception). They are called many names in Chavakani, quite a few of them euphemistic, although the most common simple name is fwôna. More on them and on magic much later.
Chondru, Vauka, and other terms of identity in Chondru languages are all synchronically transparent lexical words as well as ethnonyms. Chondru cultures have traditionally named themselves and other peoples by a characteristic artifact or product associated with the group in question. Chondrú itself means "earring", in reference to the fact that the Chondru use an intricate system of ear piercings and other facial ornamentation to indicate social status, class, and in some cases occupation. All Chondru who have come of age wear some kind of ear piercing, and often other piercings besides. I haven't decided on any of the details of this system yet, but they do. Váuka refers to a bright silvery pigment tradtionally produced by that group and used extensively in bodily decoration and works of art. Names for other Chondru groups include kífa "ritual cup", yende "clay", mbêi "feather", and râkú "embroidery". Names in this style are also given by speakers of Chondru languages to non-Chondru groups, but these generally have little to nothing to do with what the groups call themselves. The Mvithizu, for example, are called kwênyú "horn", while their name for themselves means, roughly, "famed warriors". Artifact names are also given to peoples of bygone eras, some real and some probably not. Oral and written histories composed by the Chondru extensively reference the ndano fúi, the semi-mythologized Horse People who introduced horses to the area long ago.
Most of the time, using these artifact words by themselves is sufficient in context to refer to the group in question. However, if one fears confusion with the object itself, one can append vúká for present-day peoples or ndano for long-gone people or for the ancestors of the modern ones, e.g. vúká yende for Yende ("Clay") people if context alone would not make it clear that one wasn't talking about clay itself, or ndano yende if one is referring to the ancient Yende. Note that the Horse People are usually referred to with the full formulation ndano fúi and not just fúi to prevent funny images of horses doing human things that might interfere with the "Golden Age" reverence their distant era traditionally receives.
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that
Formerly known as Primordial Soup
Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.