Gylian languages reform of 1958–1959

The Gylian languages reform of 1958–1959 denotes a series of language reforms carried out by the Languages Board, which affected all languages spoken in Gylias. The reforms' aims included simplification of style and orthography, reducing the differences between written and spoken languages, and encouraging multi-lingualism. The reforms had a notable political component as part of the Golden Revolution, with aims to make Gylian languages gender-neutral, abolish T–V distinctions, and proscribe the use of terms originating in universalist religions.

The reforms' linguistic radicalism gained popular acceptance in the revolutionary atmosphere of the period, despite controversy over their extent. Many world languages spoken in Gylias diverged from their standard versions as a result, including French, German, and Hellene.

Background

Linguistic and spelling reform began to be discussed during the Gylian ascendancy, which popularised a form of revolutionary linguistic purism influenced by feminism and anarchism. Since the common Gylian identity formed in the 19th century was based on opposition to Xevdenite oppression, certain ideas became mainstays of Gylian linguistic reform proposals, including a defensive purist wish to purge elements associated with universalist and monotheist religions, and the elimination of repressive gender binaries and heteronormativity.

Gylic languages underwent the first attempts at standardisation in Alscia, followed by decentralised attempts at language reform and planning in the Free Territories. Language reform in the Free Territories was part of their social revolution and cultural development. Proposals were informed by prefigurative politics and ideas about the capacity of language use to influence society.

The end of the Liberation War set off the process of transition from the Free Territories to Gylias. The Languages Board was created to administer descriptive linguistic research and coordinate language policy. The languages reform was its first official act; the reforms were prepared between 1958 and 1959 and instituted as they were completed.

Reforms

Key features of the languages reform included:

  • Standardisation of the Gylic alphabet, which was also adapted to transliterate foreign languages and facilitate learning them.
  • Spelling reforms, generally comprising elimination of digraphs and doubled letters, and simplifying orthography to make it more phonemic.
  • Abolition of grammatical gender and lexical reforms to ensure gender-neutrality.
  • Abolition of T–V distinctions and popularisation of the second-person singular pronoun, together with other egalitarian forms of address.
  • Deliberate exclusion of certain words from dictionaries, mainly those associated with monotheist religions. Words such as ekklesia and oikoumene, the target of monotheist appropriation attempts, were defined solely using their ancient meanings.
  • Standardisation of the names of the days of the week in non-Gylic languages based on the Helleno-Roman and Germanic traditions.

The Languages Board also created a panel of linguists and civil society figures to choose an Un-word of the year (French: non-mot d'l'année), to challenge use of euphemistic, discriminatory, and anti-democratic language.

While the reforms were broadly similar for all languages spoken in Gylias, some languages underwent more specific or idiosyncratic changes.

English

The singular they became the standard third person singular pronoun, in line with the de-genderisation.

French

As part of the spelling reforms, all singular French articles and determiners were set to the elided form: l' replacing le and la, d' replacing du and de, and d'l' replacing de la and de l'. The determiners were all replaced with elided forms — m', t', s'. The indefinite article was spelled un, but pronounced [yn] (une).

The double negative ne [verb] pas was eliminated in favour of a simplified ne [verb].

Pronouns were similarly changed to the elided forms in sentences. The third person singular on replaced the gendered il and elle, while the third person plural ons replaced ils and elles.

Gylian French reform was notably eccentric, in that it eliminated gender differentiation but preserved many words' feminine spelling as the standard. This was influenced by campaigners such as Françoise Chatelain and OMFLG, and was driven by aesthetic motivations, the feminine forms being perceived as keeping a pleasant "French" character.

As with other Romance languages, the French terms for the weekend were established as derived from the Latin diēs Saturnī and diēs Sōlis — in this instance, saturndi and soldi.

The numerals 70, 80, and 90 were standardised as septante, huitante, and nonante.

German

German articles were simplified in line with the de-genderisation: the definite article became das for singular and die for plural.

In addition to adapting the Gylic alphabet to transliterate German, German spelling was reformed. The letter Ä was eliminated, judged to be redundant due to being pronounced the same as E. Silent h's were removed from spelling. The diphthongs ei and eu were often replaced with their phonemic versions, ai and oi.

Mandatory capitalisation of nouns was abolished.

The terms Mittwoch for Wednesday and Samstag for Saturday were replaced by Wodenstag and Saterstag. The latter was favoured over Sonnabend due to its resemblance to the English "Saturday".

Hellene

Hellene underwent one of the most radical reforms overall. In addition to vocabulary reforms driven by hostility to Syaran monotheism, it underwent both orthographic reform and aggressive archaising purism in phonetics.

Elements of ancient Hellene phonology were restored as part of the Hellene reforms. Iotacism was reversed, with vowels, diphthongs and digraphs being pronounced as they were written. The monotonic orthography that had developed among Hellene Gylians was officially confirmed; the reversal of iotacism additionally made the diaeresis unnecessary.

The Hellene alphabet was reformed based on the restoration of ancient phonetic values and a desire to avoid confusion with similar-looking Latin letters. The letter eta was eliminated in favour of epsilon, and omega in favour of omicron, to avoid redundancy, although "omega" remained the standard way to denote the last of a set. Rho and nu were replaced by the Latin R and N to avoid confusion, and the archaic letter sampi was reused to represent the sound [v]. Sigma's variant lowercase forms were discarded and the word-final version was used throughout.

The reformed Gylian Hellene alphabet
Uppercase Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ N Ξ Ο Π R Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ϡ
Lowercase α β γ δ ε ζ θ ι κ λ μ ɴ ξ ο π ʀ ς τ υ φ χ ψ ϡ
Names alpha beta gamma delta epsilon zeta theta iota kappa lambda mu nu xi omicron pi rho sigma tau ypsilon phi chi psi vi
IPA [a] [b] [g] [d] [e] [z] [θ] [i] [k] [l] [m] [n] [ks] [o] [p] [r] [s] [t] [y]~[u] [f] [x] [ps] [v]

The ancient names of the days of the week were officially recognised to the exclusion of any variants, particularly targeting Syaran and christian terminology:

Hellene days of the week
Hellene alphabet εμέʀα Ελίου εμέʀα Σελέɴες εμέʀα Άʀεος εμέʀα Ἑʀμου εμέʀα Διός εμέʀα Αφʀοδίτες εμέʀα Κʀόɴου
Transliteration heméra Helíou heméra Selénes heméra Áreos heméra Hérmou heméra Diós heméra Aphrodítes heméra Krónou
English Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Ruvelkan

Ruvelkan had its traditional script abandoned in favour of being written solely in the Latin alphabet. The new Ruvelkan alphabet was derived from the Gylic alphabet, and Kōshiki macrons to represent long vowels. It was nicknamed Annabēţē (Annabécé, "Anna's alphabet"), owing to the involvement of linguist and politician Anna Kéthly (Anna Kēþli).

The Gylian Ruvelkan alphabet
Letter Α Ā B C D Ď E Ē F G H I Ī J K L M N O Ō Ö Ȫ P R S Ş T Ţ U Ū Ü Ǖ V Z
IPA [a] [a:] [b] [tʃ] [d] [d͡z] [d͡ʒ] [e] [e:] [f] [g] [h] [i] [i:] [ʒ] [k] [l] [m] [n] [o] [o:] [ø] [ø:] [p] [r] [s] [ʃ] [t] [ts] [u] [u:] [y] [y:] [v] [z]

The difference between Gylian and standard Ruvelkan transliterations can be illustrated using a quote from the Ruvelkan constitution:

Standard Ruvelkan: A Ruvelya Nagyfejedelemség fővárosa Debrecen.

Gylian Ruvelkan: O Ruvelio Nogifeiedelemşēg fȫvaroşo Debreţen.

Translation: The capital of the Grand Principality of Ruvelka is Debrecen.

Breconese

Breconese had its alphabet reformed to consolidate phonemes to sound values, eliminate digraphs, and more closely match the Gylic alphabet.

New letters introduced were "ƚ", "ŗ", "þ", "ð", and "ə".

The Gylian Breconese alphabet
Letter Α Ə B C D Ð Ď E F G H I L Ƚ M N O P R Ŗ S T Þ U Y
IPA [a] [ə] [b] [k] [d] [d͡ʒ] [ð] [e] [f] [g] [h] [i] [l] [ɬ] [m] [n] [o] [p] [r] [r̥] [s] [t] [θ] [u] [ɨ̞]

The difference between Gylian and standard Breconese can be illustrated using the following quote:

Standard Breconese: Genir pawb yn rhydd ac yn gydradd â'i gilydd mewn urddas a hawliau.

Gylian Breconese: Genir paub yn ŗyð ac yn gydrað a'i gilyð meun irðas a hauliai.

Translation: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Effects

The sweeping nature of the reforms engendered some controversy at first, but they soon found general acceptance.

The poet Phaedra Metaxa, who had been involved in the efforts to reform Hellene, disagreed with the final results and playfully chided them in her writing. She felt the restoration of ancient phonetics was an absurd example of archaising purism and an excessive demand of Hellene speakers.

The French reforms were criticised for inconsistency, as they preserved feminine forms of words while other languages were degenderised through the creation or designation of neuter forms. One of their effects was to distance Gylian French from the standard form spoken in Delliria.

The sweeping reforms of German caused a conflict with Acrea and Shalum due to the extent to which they departed from the Standard German taught in those countries. The controversy had a political aspect, with Gylian reformists presenting the changes as "progressive" and deriding Standard German supporters as "conservative". Ultimately, the issue was resolved by an agreement between Gylias, Acrea, and Shalum in 1990. German Gylians have the option whether to use Standard German, reformed German, or Gylic transcription-based spellings.