They were using a mirabhasa language, honed phalange consonants and joined vowels. It was an instrument for conveying fine emotional subleties. Edric, the Guild Steersman, replied to the Reverend Mother now with a vocal curtsy contained in a sneer - a lovely touch of disdainful politeness.
Now, it's never been clear to me what a phalange consonant is supposed to be. Regardless, I've made several attempts at my own personal mirabhasa. I've never really succeeded. For Bixwá I decided not to focus on emotional subtleties per se, but to combine a sensitivity to social and political power (of all sorts) as well as a substantial set of words to allow a speaker to make complex commentary on what is being said.
The sound system of Bixwá owes a lot to Athabascan languages — the apostrophe really is a glottal stop, e is [ɛ] and the accent marks a high toned vowel. I avoided the "joined vowels" Herbert mentions.
I'm out of control
The first way Bixwá obsesses over power dynamics is in the pronouns. Plenty of languages have the idea of a "control" feature in verbs. For example, "I caught sight of him" can just be a low control variant of simply "see." On the other hand, "look at" can be a high control version. Bixwá pronouns encode control, but specifically social control, and always of the speaker. For example, the neutral control first person singular is né, while the low control version is nawe and the high control version is thón:
né chaash zuho'áá'óó I walked out in the weather (of my own will)
nawe chaash zuho'áá'óó I walked out in the weather (due to circumstances outside my control)
thón chaash zuho'áá'óó I walked out in the weather (entirely of my own accord)
(The preverb chaash indicates an action was performed out in snow or rain.)
Without further context it's not clear how much the speaker of nawe considers themselves to have been forced or obligated. They could have been ordered out by their boss, or their sweetie may just have decided they wanted hot buttered rum and it seemed prudent to go out to get the ingredients. So, the social control can be pretty slight.
There are neutral, low control and high control variants for first, second and animate third person pronouns.
The other thing Bixwá does is allow a speaker to comment in some detail about how they feel about the state of affairs they are describing. This is handled with what I'm calling "commentary particles" these days (not only has the idea been revised often over the last few years, but so has the name). They are in many ways quite like ideophones. In particular, they are "syntactically aloof" — they don't participate in most of the heavy morphology Bixwá otherwise favors, and they can be added to or removed from a statement without changing the meaning of the propositional content at all. They are so like ideophones that I recently decided to give them morphology to let them be used as ideophones.
Normally a commentary particle comes before the constituent being commented on:
Kája eme nél mixod He was speaking to me.
(né-l 1sg-dat, mi-xod impf-speak)
Here the commentary particle kája says the speaker finds something boorish, rude or imposing about the state of affairs. The word after it, eme is the low control variant of the 3rd person animate pronoun (remember: control is with respect to the speaker), so I've given the additional spin that I'm being spoken to boorishly by someone who has some degree — perhaps slight — of social control over me at the time. On the other hand, you could use the commentary particle iyé instead of kája, which would indicate amorous intent on your part with respect to whoever eme is.
Bixwá's normal word order is SOV, but a commentary particle may follow the verb to comment on the entire state of affairs, without singling out any particular constituent,
Maa áka nél dan ye láá I don't have that book
(maa that, áka book, né-l 1sg-dat, dan not, ye exist; the verb ye with the dative indicates possession instead of a verb "to have")
Here the particle láá indicates the speaker thinks there's nothing to be done about the situation.
The commentary particles have to go into a statement. If you want to utter one on its own, to comment on an event or something just said, there is a way to produce predicate ideophones using reduplication (you can see the rules for that morphology in the grammar).
Káajokája! How rude!
Áa'iyé ooh-la-la! (or whatever you say on seeing an attractive person)
Láasholáá (some expression of profound resignation)
Though these reduplicated forms can take subjects, they are also pretty syntactically aloof. They don't don't take any morphology, including aspect marking, and they aren't used with adverbs. They are words for the moment or context immediately at hand.