Featured Article, ziba, IPA: [ziba]) is the only extant language of the eponymous Zibaic language family. It originated in and is the main language in Dezevau and northern Lavana, and also has legal recognition in Hacyinia and Carucere. It is spoken natively by over 200 million people, making it the fifth language in the world by native speakers, and a further 100 million or so speak it non-natively. Ziba originated in southwest Dezevau several millennia ago, possibly as a contact language. It spread by trade and diplomacy among the region's city-states and other polities, as well as through migration, and association with Badi. In the medieval period, in large areas of northern Southeast Coius, Ziba was used in public, commercial, political, religious and diplomatic life, but coexisted with a variety of languages which were natively spoken at home, in circumstances of diglossia. At least in southwest Dezevau and among some classes, however, it was also a domestic language. The Aguda Empire, founded in 1476, established Ziba as the official language throughout its territories, using it in administration, spreading it through commerce, deepening its Badist association, and generally promoting it as part of its assimilative policies. The state of diglossia collapsed across much of the Aguda Empire's territory, in favour of Ziba monolingualism. Ziba acquired more ethnic-political implication as a result of the empire's policies. The Aguda Empire also conducted early efforts at language reform and standardisation, with the Ziba dialect continuum converging considerably, and the koiné Agudan Ziba becoming the basis for virtually all later prestige dialects of Ziba. During the colonial and post-colonial periods, Ziba lost much of its status and reach outside of present-day Dezevau and Lavana, as colonial or other national languages were promoted instead. It remains an important regional language, with many of its neighbours retaining loanwords from it, and it being the working language of the Brown Sea Community. Ziba is an agglutinative language, with a great deal of suffixation to create new nouns and adjectives, sharing similarities in this with the neighbouring Vehemenic languages. Verbs, in comparison, exist simply within a SVO sentence structure. Ziba's possible roots as a contact language, and its storied use as a second language in the public sphere may be linked to its simple grammar and small phonemic inventory; it has twelve consonants and five vowels (monophthongs, which can form a further twelve diphthongs). Its inventory is unusual, however, in not having any rounded vowels, unvoiced consonants/voicing distinction, and a number of other features which are very cross-linguistically common. Most Ziba is written in the Ziba script (cf. Carucerean Ziba), which is somewhere between an alphabet and an abugida; it has had a very close phonetic correspondence since the orthographic reforms of the Aguda Empire. (See more...)
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