The Ariekei from the Novel Embassytown

Embassytown is one of the best SF novels I’ve read. It’s also one of the best SF novels I’ve read where language played a star role, and a conlang at that. But the language isn’t complete. It isn’t even a sketch. Its a name & place language.

It isn’t humanly speakable. You need two mouths and you need to speak with both simultaneously. A human can speak this language by recording themselves.

Also, much of the language’s features seem to be driven by how the alien’s mind works. So if you don’t have one of these alien brains, you wouldn’t really be speaking in a communication system that the book is writing about. Think of it this way. Your cat has an animal communication system that consists of meowing, pissing on trees and waving tails around. Even if you could copy the cats actions exactly, you are doing so using a brain that is effortlessly capable of using full blown human language. You’d have a hard time not using human language unless you could be brain damaged (or brain upgraded, if you prefer) back to the level of a cat.

There are some pseudo-glosses included that hint of the language’s structure and features, namely that truth values of sentences are grammaticalized.

There probably is enough to create a conlang that is true to the direction that the author was heading in, but it would be 99% new fabrications.

Obviously this is not IPA. And the author was British, so he almost certainly had in mind British pronunciations of the following.

“a sorash kolta qes esh”
“burh lovish sath”

(I’ll have to look up what this meant… later, it means, I’m back, if I remember correctly)

“koh taikoh”
———– = I home-goer

——- = Name

——– = Name “pear tree”

qura/mashi = infinity. Number system goes up to 3072 (random upper limit?)

qura/spa = 3072

kosteb/floranshi = an species of predatory animal

shes/qus = yes

delith/ho-ki = another species of predator

(TODO: There is one more proper name given at the 2nd to last chapter)

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