o yis The O Yis Language
As the native language of over 1.5 million people, and spoken as a second language by at least another half a million, O Yis is one of the major languages on the continent of Ewlah. Although the language has many speakers, it does not have a wide geographical range - most native speakers can be found in the Land of Yistrhalhe (Jyict Rállex) in the northeastern corner of the continent, with smaller communities of speakers scattered along the eastern seaboard of the Land of Fasatuushe and within the cities in the northern half of the Land of Froutige. It is one of the two Official Languages in the City of Cancwame (Ma Tzantzvam) which, over the past century, has grown to become the most populous (and arguably the richest) city on the planet.
The Istran Languages
The oldest settlements on Ewlah were established by the Istran Society between 1,500 and 2,000 orbits ago. For the most part the Istran languages - each island has its own - are mediated by a shared trading language which has acted as a 'standard' reference for much of the past two millennia. In other words, while each island language evolves over time, the changes they undergo tend to reflect (or follow) changes in the trading language.
The one exception to this is the O Yis language. Yistralhe is the westernmost of the Istran homelands, and is separated from the Istran Archipilagos by a wide stretch of ocean. There have been a number of periods during the Ewlah colonization when the settlers have endured reduced contact with the rest of Istran Society, particularly in the centuries preceding and following the Disaster.
Most extant languages of Istran stock share characteristics such as a tendency to be highly isolating, with much grammar handled by syntax rather than morphology. Recent consonant loss, and thus a trend towards using tone as a lexical feature, can be tracked in the trading language; this can help explain the use of tones in Ve Jasa, the other Istran language spoken in Ewlah, in the Land of Yilstrhe (Jyict Lyrra), but not in O Yis: Yilstrhe has been colonised several times by the insular Istrans over the millennia, most recently in the past 500 orbits following the collapse of the Vreski Empire.