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Torn World is home to a complete, carefully designed language family. Its initial members include the Ancient language spoken by inhabitants at the time of the Upheaval, and two descendant languages, Northern and Southern. “Torn Tongue” refers to all of them in general, but especially to the Ancient language. The designers have estimated approximately one major change per century of linguistic evolution.
Due to a characteristic quirk of the Torn World setting, the descendant languages are not the same age. The Northern culture has experienced about 250 subjective years since the Upheaval. Their language is therefore still fairly similar to the Ancient language – but the changes that did occur are important ones that make Northern very distinctive. The Southern culture has experienced about 1500 subjective years since the Upheaval. Their language is therefore quite different both from the Ancient language and the Northern language. Many more changes have occurred.
Many of the original nouns in Ancient have been lost or repurposed over time. Northern held onto the basic and most useful nouns, especially natural ones. Southern also held onto the basic and most useful nouns, plus a few more of the technological nouns, and repurposed many others. Both subsequent languages have added more nouns dealing with features particular to their region and culture; Southern has had more time and more people to do this.
The languages of Torn World have some characteristics that set them apart from most constructed languages. First, they belong to a single language family, created with relations in mind; most conlangs are isolate. Second, they are a group project, created by a team of language mavens with oversight by Ellen Million. Most conlangs are created by one person, but natural languages are collective efforts; this gives Torn Tongue a more natural flavor. Third, the languages of Torn World are designed to for public use in a shared world setting, and therefore made as user-friendly as possible. Pronunciation, grammar, and other choices reflect this underlying goal. Most conlangs are designed for the amusement and use of a single person, their creator, who can thus incorporate anything that makes sense personally. Together, these characteristics add to the distinctive flavor of Torn Tongue.
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