OK, finally attempting this challenge. XD It's a hard one (and a good one)! Get ready for Wall-O-Text. Fair warning: I'm going to go into a lot of ConLang information that probably isn't interesting to anyone else. XD
For the exercise I'll use Nikaya, Nefertiri, Sitana, Oluu, and Geoff--for a good variety.
The first thing about this that makes it difficult seeming for the entire cast is that I'm well aware none of them are actually speaking English. Language has a lot to do with the plot, so though the Translation Convention is in town for the Ama cast (the first four listed above) at the start of the comic, it isn't going to stay put and I have to be aware that there are certain phrasings that simply do not translate from English into their tongue.
Or maybe I don't HAVE to be, but I am anyway. Because I'm picky.
The second challenge is that a lot of the characters are from the same areas, thus why I've chosen a range of characters to use for this. The first two sets, (Nikaya and Nefertiri) (Sitana and Oluu), are each from the same Ama tribes: Kinari and Inta, respectively. The last, Geoff, is from an entirely separate country.
To begin with, Nikaya and Nefertiri are the series' main characters. They're sisters from the Kinari tribe--a nomadic people that live in a Savannah-like plains region and follow herds of wilder-beast. The Kinari are hunters and gatherers, primarily, a fact which is bolstered in their language. Many of their idioms are hunting or survival related, and their dialect makes flagrant use of the positional markers in order to free sentence structure. Nefertiri
is a fair example of the "typical" Kinari speaker when it comes to pure dialect. Her speech is often short and clipped, punctuated by emphatic hand gestures or looks to get her point across. What also influences her speech is her dry sense of humour and no-nonsense attitude. She tends to take her job, herself, and... well, everything
very seriously. Most instances of her teasing or joking around are linked to people she's known for a very long time--such as her sister, or fellow Kinari huntresses. Nikaya
, on the other hand, has had outside influences in her speech that affect her to this day. Raised the first few years of her life in a different tribe and taught to speak a half-way tongue between Ama and Hurstikan, Nikaya's speech reflects . Though her dialect has rectified itself to a more typical Kinari style of speech over the years, in regards to her pronunciation and sentence structure, Hurstikan words often crop up when there's a gap in her Ama vocabulary. (It can be noted, however, that said Hurstikan drop-ins are conformed to an Ama pronunciation, save when there is no Ama sound equivalent to fall back on, such as 'CH', 'SHT', and the Hurstikan 'R'.)
When an instance of a drop-in occurs in the comic, it should always be written in the Hurstikan alphabet to indicate its difference until the Translation Convention shift occurs.
As the Kinari dialect allows for syntactic shifts through use of placement markers, Nikaya's sentence structure often falls under Hurstikan influenced VSO, rather than the Ama-standard SOV. This change is not one those that can appear in English (at least, not if I care about it making sense or sounding natural).
Another influence of Hurstikan in Nikaya's speech and demeanor is her tendency to ramble. When nervous or frightened, she'll talk for hours without ever broaching the subject she's actually concerned about. This is very un-Ama-like and considered to be annoying by all but her closest friends and family (Well, ok, it annoys them, too, but they're used to it.) She also exaggerates and often speaks in a flowery pattern that the Ama consider to be highly masculine. (Largely different gender roles in their society.)
Moving on, Sitana (no picture, sorry) is a woman of the Inta tribe who crops up later in the comic. Unlike the Kinari, the Inta do not make general use of the placement markers (though they do occasionally come into play and thus know what they mean), instead preferring to adhere to the SOV rules of syntax. Another dialect difference is a slight shift in vowels: an incorporation of /a+, +a/ diphthongs along with the /o+, +o/ standard.
This formal SOV standard could be represented in English by a lack of contractions and adherence to proper grammar in speech (something to think on).
Formality is not, however, Sitana's strong point. Bubbly and filled with life, Sitana is a sweet woman with a proverbial heart of gold. Her speech is a little more "masculine" in it's approach, like Nikaya's, though not quite to the same extreme. Expect teasing from her, and an immediate assumption that everyone and anyone is a long-standing friend of hers. Oluu
is the flip side to Sitana's coin; he is a loner, and convinced that he is happy being that way. Much more "feminine," by Ama standards, Oluu is briefly spoken and to the point. Much like Nefertiri, he tends to say much more through body language than verbal, and will always commit non-verbal replies where they will suffice. Even among friends, Oluu does not often or jokingly tease, and he is quick to both offense and anger. This is evidenced in his speech by a strict adherence to literal truth, which goes so far as an avoidance of idioms.
Finally, the Hurstikan prince, Geoff
. As he is the only Hurstikan mentioned, I won't go too into the original language differences.
As was previously mentioned, Hurstikan, unlike Ama, is a VSO language--at its most formal, at least. Due to class dialect ("sociolect"), Geoff was instructed in the formal tongue and is expected to speak it at court; due to personality, Geoff does not.
Ever the soldier, Geoff's language has fallen to a mid-level sociolect that often times tries to make the language into an SVO, associated with the merchant-class and the army. It's spiced with a bawdy, and oft ill-timed, sense of humour that gets him in trouble with the Priests and his father. There is, however, a wit behind him which suggests that this lack of consideration may be less forgetful and more purposeful; he is strong willed and confident to a fault. There is a definite egotism to his voice, most often seen when talking to those he considers to be 'beneath' his station (ie, everyone), and is highly prone to boasting.
In the mid-way Translation Convention shift, Nikaya's speech becomes translated to English from Hurstikan, rather than Ama as in the beginning. This is shown by her speech becoming very clipped and impaired. Initially this is due to a lack of familiarity with Hurstikan proper, and later indicative of her resistance to Hurstikan ways.
Only using full, proper Hurstikan when she absolutely must get her meaning across, Nikaya commonly speaks it as though it's Ama. In other words, she treats Hurstikan as drop-friendly (meaning that parts of a sentence are left out of a sentence so long as it's understood contextually) language when it isn't, often "forgets" to conjugate verbs or adjectives, and never uses future tense. Her translations (when asked to from Ama) are exactingly literal and, often, openly hostile.
Whew. I will... proof read this later. >.> Of course, I have very little evidence for any of that which is open to the public as of yet. But it's still a good thing for me to keep in mind, I think. Sorry for boring y'all with my geekiness.