Naƞ is the lingua franca of an interstellar humanoid species, used to communicate with those who have no common tongue. It is a mix-mode language, utilizing both oral and signed information. Naƞ is not only a bridge uniting those who hold no common tongue, but it is also a link between the deaf and the hearing.
Naƞ was invented by a council under Emperor Sasson II, in the second age after enlightenment. Sasson recognized the languages of his empire were slowly drifting apart and that it was necessary for a lingua franca to be created. The council considered creating a mash-up of various major tongues but realized that this would almost certainly provide an unfair advantage to a certain group of people.
The oral phonology of Naƞ consists of 15 consonants and 5 vowels, with a tone contrast in the vowels. The most difficult parts of oral phonology for English speakers would be the high-low tone contrast and the rounded consonants. Rounded consonants are more or less the sound followed by a w sound. Tone is more difficult to learn and often requires a while to get used to hearing and speaking. It is just as it sounds, raising the pitch of one’s voice on a particular vowel.
Disappointingly for non-speakers of ASL, the signing aspect of Naƞ is generally dominant. It conveys the most specific meanings and is often produced very quickly. The reason this aspect is so present in the language is likely to combat the effects of noise pollution. The interior of a spacecraft, and even in big city centers, and be rather loud. This can cause spoken information to be lost. Signing adds an element of redundancy. Now, of course, Emperor Sasson II was hard of hearing, but I’m certain it’s just a coincidence.
There is, sadly, no standard way to notate sign languages. David J. Peterson has created the Sign Language IPA, which shows concisely how a sign moves, its hand-shape, and its position relative to the rest of the body. I will use this system to show the signed phonology. It will be easiest to show most of this information with pictures, and not with fancy graphs and tables.
The S hand-shape. All fingers and the thumb are curled inwards.
The A hand-shape. The thumb is extended over the fingers. It may also appear more like a “thumbs-up”.
The G hand-shape. The index is extended.
The L hand-shape. The thumb and index finger are extended.
The 3 hand-shape. The thumb, index, and middle finger are extended.
The 4 hand-shape. All fingers are extended.
The B hand-shape. All the fingers and the thumb are extended.
This page is a WIP! More to come.