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Hejvat

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Keva
Hejvat
Spoken in: NewCambriaFlag New Cambria
Region: NorthWestCountyFlag North-West County
Total speakers: ~97,000
(first language: ~90,000)
Language family: Language isolate
Official status
Official language in: New Cambria (recognized minority language)
Regulated by: Department of Keva Studies, Het Kajve University
Language Codes
ISO 639-1: hj
ISO 639-2: hej
ISO 639-3: hej

Hejvat (former names: Keva, Evat) is a language spoken by the Keva people of New Cambria. It is the native language of the archipelago.

Originally spoken throughout the whole of New Cambria Island and its smaller neighbors, it is spoken today by an estimated 97,000 people in New Cambria (about 3.5% of the country's population), with its stronghold in the rural areas of North-West County, and several larger communities in Đor and Tain municipalities.

Since reliable record-keeping measures began in the late 1800s, the number of Hejvat speakers in New Cambria has fallen by over 60%. Though the decline has slowed considerably since the mid-1970s, fluency in the language continues to drop. The Keva community and the New Cambria government continue to promote the language, which has contributed to the increase in non-Keva learners of the language. It is taught in some primary and secondary schools in North-West County, and at both the University of New Cambria in Arvant and Het Kajve University in Đor.

History

Hejvat originated as an oral language, but a written syllabic script emerged as early as the 13th century, and most likely much earlier, as evidenced by excavated relics discovered at the Njajve archaeological site in the 1940s. The writings discovered there remain the oldest verifiable sample of Hejvat in its written form.

The Hejvat syllabary, colloquially referred to by the early European settlers as "squarehand" due to its boxy, square-like characters, was replaced by the first of several romanized versions of the language in the early 1700s. This version used only 19 letters and failed to capture the nuances of the language's phonology. It was from this version that the word "Keva" began being used to refer to the people, the culture and the language of New Cambria's native inhabitants. At least five other Hejvat alphabets achieved wide use over the centuries, most of them containing confusing and non-standardized digraphs (and sometimes, trigraphs) of English letters, until the current version was devised in 1959. The 1959 version consists of 23 consonant sounds and 8 vowel sounds, using nearly all standard roman letters. Today, the "squarehand" syllabary is used in decorative and cultural purposes, but virtually all correspondence and media produced in Hejvat is written in the romanized version.

Keva book

Old version of a Hēvat language book.

Alphabet

In its latinized form, Hejvat consists of 31 letters. Four standard latin letters (Q, W, X and Y) are not used, and one non-standard letter (Đ) is added. Ten digraphs are also used.

  • Consonants: b, p, m, n, c, s, z, ch, đ, sh, zh, f, v, g, h, k, l, r, d, t, j, dh, th
  • Vowels: a, aj, o, oj, e, ej, i, u

Sixteen of the consonants exist in voiced and unvoiced pairs. At the ends of words, voiced consonants often mutate into their unvoiced counterparts.

Voiced Unvoiced
B b P p
D d T t
Đ đ Ch ch
Dh dh Th th
G g K k
V v F f
Z z S s
Zh zh Sh sh

When children are first learning Hejvat, the words are spelled with their syllables separated, but standardized Hejvat is not written this way.

Numerals

The Hejvat system of counting numbers is vigesimal, with twenty syllables representing 0-19 in the decimal system.

Decimal Value Hejvat Name   Decimal Value Hejvat Name
0 đa 10 va
1 vi 11 li
2 bo 12 vo
3 du 13 lu
4 ta 14 di
5 ma 15 la
6 mi 16 pa
7 lo 17 do
8 tu 18 vu
9 ni 19 no
  • For numbers between 20 and 399, -ka- (for the lower ten numbers) or -ze- (for the upper ten) is placed between the two numerals. For example, thirty-six is vikapa (literally, one twenty and sixteen ones), and 284 is dizeta (fourteen twenties and four ones).
  • For numbers 400-7,999, the suffix -ja or -ko is added to the leading numeral. Therefore, 948 is written boja lokatu (two four hundreds plus seven twenties and eight ones).
  • For numbers 8,000 and above, -se- is placed between the first two numerals. Therefore, 12,685 is written viseliko dizema (one eight thousand and eleven four hundreds plus fourteen twenties and five ones).
  • Using these combinations, the Hejvat system of counting can accommodate numbers up to 159,999.

Neologisms vs. Loanwords

Since the Keva community and the government of New Cambria began actively revitalizing the language in the 1970s, the popular opinion regarding neologisms and loanwords has shifted several times. Originally, English words were more or less directly transliterated into Hejvat in an effort to modernize the language. In the early 1980s, however, this scheme was abandoned in favour of creating new Hejvat words based on the meanings of the original English words. As a result, many newer Hejvat words have two versions. For example, komeputor and lovazeke both mean "computer," and Katolike and Havesha mean "(Roman) Catholic." Proponents of using loanwords cite Hejvat's limited and archaic lexicon is insufficient for creating new words. Supporters of neologisms object to creating a vocabulary of words whose only definitions are foreign words.

Currently, the language's regulating bodies come down somewhere in between the two when making decisions regarding proper use of Hejvat. Neologisms are generally preferred for inanimate objects, therefore lovakeze is the preferred Hejvat word for "computer." Loanwords, however, are more often selected for abstract concepts, thus Katolike is the recommended translation for "Catholic."

Future

Thanks to decades of political effort by members of the Keva community and the Eđa Elaho Ohati political party, the government of New Cambria has taken several steps to actively encourage citizens to learn and use the language. In North-West County, many public primary schools are either bilingual English/Hejvat or Hejvat only, and Hejvat speakers are eligible for many benefits ranging from university scholarships to tax credits. Jamie Rose Byerly, a five-year-old girl of British ancestry, made headlines in 2004 when it was reported in a newspaper that her parents raised her to speak Hejvat only. Her parents, both linguists living in North-West County, spoke Hejvat fluently and educated their daughter in Hejvat language schools. This is, however, a rare example. In reality, a minuscule proportion of European-descended New Cambrians have even a fundamental grasp of the language, and a certain social stigma toward Hejvat-speakers still exists, especially among rural and elderly populations.

Although the decline in number of Hejvat-speakers has slowed significantly in the past four decades, it still continues, and the United Nations includes Hejvat on its list of endangered languages. Linguists in New Cambria estimate that it may be another century before the number begins to rise again.

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