Those who learn Dunmeris within outland temples or schools, studying the language in the interest of disentangling texts written in the tongue often find themselves ill-prepared for actually travelling to Morrowind and meeting speakers of the language. No language remains pure when exposed to people, and while the Aldmeris roots (via Ald Chimeris) are still apparent, it is no longer pure. Particularly fascinating is where the language has bent in modern use.
For example, in cities primarily governed by House Hlaalu, such as Balmora and Suran, one finds that trade with other cultures has led to the Cyrodiilic loanwords being more common. Beyond that, there’s a tendency to drop ‘you’ in direct commands or questions. Where a citizen of Ald’ruhn might say [something translated as] “Did you go to the marketplace?”, a resident of Suran might say “Went to the marketplace?” The difference is part of where some of the stereotype of Redoran retainers as stuffy and Hlaalu as overcasual comes from.
The Redoran, however, are known to code-shift into a rather clipped form of Dunmeris when there’s an emergency. Redoran children are taught that when an adult uses ‘Blight-Talk’, they are to listen and obey immediately. Failing to do so can lead to disaster in the blight storms common to Redoran territory. However, Blight-Talk is also used when the noble warriors of the house are in combat. Many is the enemy who’s been surprised by a level of coordination that seems near-telepathic with only a few words.
The Telvanni, meanwhile, tend to register formal voice and proper pronoun use more than the other Houses. One can just about derive the pronouns to use for a mer in a Telvanni settlement based on how high off ground level their living quarters are. Beyond that, there’s a hardening of consonants on the ends of words that can mark a speaker as having come from a Telvanni tower community. When they say “Sadrith Mora”, it sounds more like “Sadrit Mora”. Similarly, words ending in an L take on a nasal sound—chap’thil ending up more like “chap’thiln”.
Of course, Vivec City is a hodgepodge of members of all houses, but the Tribunal Temple seems to want to keep their language as close to Ald Dunmeris as possible. One may be seen as a bumpkin showing up to the holy city of Vivec with markers of other dialects, and it’s the Vivec dialect that is closest to the “high Dunmeris” taught to foreigners learning the language for the first time.
“The Elder Scrolls | Skyrim” | Photo and cosplay courtesy of TamillaArt, DeviantArt