Rant 04 - Language of the Onodrim

The protagonist of the upcoming webcomic is a tree creature, properly called an Onodrim. They are a powerful race, capable of amazing things, but their lack of ambition has kept them from accomplishing anything exciting. Little Tentus, being the most hyper and excitable of all Onodrim, makes the Onodrim seem far more human than they usually appear.

The Onodrim are relatively ambiguous is size, shape, and texture, but a coomon trait to all of them is a lack of facial features beyond two solid black eyes and leafy hair. This lack of face translates into a lack of mouth, which means their spoken language is fundamentally different than any other tongue. (Precisely because they don't have tongues, ha ha.) Onodrims mostly communicate through sounds that naturally occur among trees- creaks, humms, and rustles. While they can produce a surprising variety of other sounds with little effort, they find them unpleasant to hear- human tongues sound like crows cawling to them.

For centuries, the Onodrim society existed just fine without a written language. Eventually, their continuing contact with the Elves and Faeries began to make the oral traditions insufficient. The elves wanted the Onodrim to adopt a variation of the elvish written language, but the faeries were more understanding of the technical difficulties involved in doing so- they wanted a new and unique written language, desgined specifically for the Onodrim language. After lengthy and relentless pressure from the other races, the Onodrim assigned a counsel of their scholars to creating a written language of their own.

According to the Elves, the result was disasterous- the faeries thought it was hilarious. The Onodrim and devised a language which their people could concievably write in... but for everyone else it was dauntingly difficult. The language was genuinely three dimensional, and required the use of treecrafting magic. In a nutshell, the writer had to convince a living branch to separate from a tree, and then had to convince the leaves of the branch to hover in certain positions around the branch, while assuming a specific shape.

The Ondrim decided to have a 64 character language, phonetically based. They had a remarkably robust puncuation system, allowing any sentence to contain theorectically unlimited emotion. After significant refinement time with the elves and faeries, the language was modified into what it is to this day- the Onodrim have never seen fit to change it since then. Modifications introduced by the elves included reducing the character count down to 32 characters, simplification in the layout, and the introduction of the number 0- no one had realized the Onodrim hadn't invented it yet, despite having a fairly complete mathematic system.

stemEach sentence in Onodrim writing has a "stem" to itself- the branch which holds everything together. The stem is shaped like an integral, (the vertical line with a bit of curve on each end), and the words stick outwards from it. Because the Onodrim think in 4s, each word goes 4 characters down, and then steps outwards from the stem and does another 4, until the whole word is written. Four or eight words will circle the stem, and then drop down and begin again. The top curve of the stem orients the rest- it will point south. You always start reading from the north side and work your way around counterclockwise (north, west, south, east).

Seeing as this rant is starting to get rather long, I'm going to cut this part out. Rather boring stuff about conjugation etc. (What this really means is that I got too bored to finish that part of the language.)

One final note- the name Onodrim is an Elvish term, because noone could pronounce the name they gave to themselves. For the very well read, yes, Tolkien did establish the term as the Elvish word for Ents.