Niysgroib (/'njʏz.gɾoɪb/, literally New Writing) is a term used to describe the Vyvlander language spelling reforms carried out in the the 1820s, which had the aim of rectifying the massive inconsistencies in the then highly unphonetically-spelt language in order to make it easier to learn and spell. The changes were the idea of Adulv the New, a Vyvlander king who brought great social and cultural reform to the newly-industrialising country; Niysgroib was one of his first policies, implemented in three stages from 1822 to 1829. Among the changes included the standardisation of spelling and the levelling of dialects; while the former was generally welcomed, a significant backlash was experienced against the latter. The previous orthography is described as Oydsgroib (Old Writing).
The main aim of Niysgroib was to form a consistent and regular spelling system for Vyvlander, eliminating many of the inconsistencies which marred the language. At the time, Vyvland had one of the lowest rates of literacy in Esquarium - although this was a cultural phenomenon, the monarchy felt that it was due to the language's complexities that the general population was unable to comprehend or write basic Vyvlander.
Many archaic spellings, which often were remnants of past pronunciation, were scrapped, while many old digraphs in common words were replaced by other simpler forms; in the case of the digraph sj, it was replaced by z, which was frequent in less common or more technical words to represent the same sound ([ʒ]). All remnants of the voiceless fricatives, which Vyvlander had lost around 1500, were replaced by their voiced counterparts, freeing up the letter f to be used to represent [ð], which was previously represented by d and f. Some consonant clusters were changed to reflect the voiceless fricative loss, such as sk, which often, but not always, was changed to sg.
The letter Åå, which was commonly used in only five words, was eliminated from the language, as were any diacritics, which often varied widely in usage depending on the location and disposition of the author. These changes meant that Vyvlander now only natively uses 24 of the 26 basic letters of the Latin alphabet, with no diacritics.
Verbs underwent changes in the present tense forms. The declension of a regular verb (e.g. werken - "to work") was changed as follows:
- ig werke > oig werk
- dau werkst > fay werks
- he/sce/hit werkd > i/zi/e/yn werkef
- wi/wit werken > wi/yg werken
- ijou werk > iy werken
- douen werken > fee werken
The archaic future tense endings, which had not been pronounced for hundreds of years, were also dropped, so werken changed as follows:
- ig sjal werkene > oig zal werken
- dau sjal werkenes > fay zal werken
- he/sce/hit sjal werkenet > i/zi/e/yn zal werken
- wi/wit sjal werken > wi/yg zal werken
- ijou sjal werken > iy zal werken
- douen sjal werken > fee zal werken
Some perfect tense strong verbs were changed to more regular forms; this was done when strong verbs had a relatively common weak conjugation in one of the many Vyvlander dialects. For example, beeren ("to carry"), was modified into line with how the word was conjugated in Pegerm, and as such, the declension of the verb used everywhere else changed as follows:
- ig bore ("I carried") > oig beerd
- ig haave gebron ("I have carried") > oig aav gebeerd
This change has since been reversed and was never fully adopted.
The elimination of dialects from the Vyvlander language was far less successful than the other two main objectives, with many locals fiercely defending and sometimes accentuating their dialects and accents; this feeling has kept many of the dialects alive today. For example, the word for "the" still retains three distinct forms used in different geographical areas (fi in the north, de in the south and fe in the west), despite the fact that regularising the word was one of the main facets of dialect elimination.
Effects of the reforms
The reforms were generally well embraced in Vyvland; the desire for them had been evident for a while, especially among the church and clergy, who often found it hard to train priests to read Vyvlander due to its spelling. Many working-class and illiterate people supported the reforms, as it greatly increased the ease of reading Vyvlander for those who were poorly-educated. The only objections came from some members of the upper classes who perceived literacy as a privilege; in the words of Enrig, Duke of Bajre-Mruk, "Writing is only for those who deserve to write. It is the truest of privileges."
There was little dissonance from the new spellings, despite their unfamiliarity; most opposition died down when the last people who had been brought up under Oydsgroib died in the late 1800s. The spelling introduced in the forms are still the accepted standard today, and still make Vyvlander a relatively orthographically regular language.
However, dialects were vehemently kept by their speakers, as the elimination of dialects was seen more as a way to keep remote or isolated populations from rebelling against the monarchy. Most Vyvlanders were able to distinguish between the spelling reforms, which were mostly complete by 1924, and the dialect elimination, which began four years after the Niysgroib reforms started.