Ladies and Gentlemen…

In a post elsewhere, reference was made to this trope page, and the generic problem of saying “ladies and gentlemen” when addressing a group of people which may include those who deem themselves members of neither category. This, of course, is a problem which my universe had to solve a long, long time ago, given the presence of large numbers of people who are neither of those genders right down to the chromosome-equivalents – for values of solve equal to “didn’t give itself this problem before it occurred”, at least – and since it came up, I found myself writing a quick paragraph on what people do say by way of collective address:

Namely, this:

Well, with six grammatical genders – not counting the default of “not specified” – mapping to an arbitrarily large set of the non-grammatical kind, it would get… rather messy if one had to name ’em all, wot?

As Amy says, the general term there is daryteir , glossed “gentlesoph” from its literal translation of “sophont of honor”, darav i-teir , and possesses no gender affices at all. In opening collective addresses, since the pluralization lies entirely in the article-equivalents, one would probably go with elen daryteir – “gentlesophs all” – if being polite, or if less convinced of the decent-chapness of one’s audience, simply elen darav – “sophonts!”. ( Darav , incidentally, is a word which I usually gloss as “sophont” but which I could equally well gloss as – and is used in the equivalent contexts as – “person”, so “people!” .) One might also hear elen valmirian , which would be “citizens!” . Well, “citizen-shareholders”, technically, but that’s a lengthy construction in English.

(If one really wanted to say “ladies and gentlemen”, one could always say elen daravion ap elen daraviel , but that would just leave your audience wondering why you were deliberately excluding the herms, neuters, and prenuptial and postnuptial catalysts…)


The distinction between the three generally accepted primary Eldraeic dialects is both informal and quite simple:

“Low Eldraeic” is the language as it is actually spoken day to day, using the common-sense medium of language features and vocabulary that are of use to most of the people most of the time.  (It’s still complex and formal by most language’s standards, but it has had most of the rough edges and unnecessary complexity in its native speakers’ eyes rubbed off it.)

“High Eldraeic”, on the other hand, is the language with every idiosyncracy, grammatical feature, additional functionality, and pedantic technical distinction put together by the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology over generations, for reasons technical, philosophical and political, in play.  It is used lightly in scientific and technical documentation where it aids in clarity, brevity and accuracy, more heavily in formal ritual, high-falutin’ rhetoric, and particularly grand opera, and most heavily when one speaker in a conversation wishes to browbeat another about just exactly how much better educated, more intelligent, and generally superior they happen to be.

“Trade”, the third dialect, is the worn-down and bastardized form of the language used widely by non-native speakers who learned it from other non-native speakers, or who found themselves reduced to stammering confusion after taking a mnemonetic course and wondering just how the heck they use all these registers and modes and affixes and non-temporal tenses in practice, and just what is an evidential anyway?

A Darkest Night Card

Remember the Conlang Card Exchange I mentioned a while back?

Well, now that it’s the new year and all the participants have presumably received their cards, I thought it was about time I posted it up here for general enjoyment. Here, therefore, y’all go:

A good-wishes card for the Darkest Night.

A good-wishes card for the Darkest Night.

What it says, transliterated:

An-el estkál xakorevár árjír idaratis qan árchal arícetár an-anan ké-el traquel jírileth ap silarí hál.

OBJ+ARG fate IMP+order+PRED PURPOSE FUT-AND-ONGOING QUANTIFIER year [sun-circle] bless+PRED OBJ+you/those-you-speak-for WITH-ARG ADJ-goodness freedom COMBINED-WITH prosperity IMP-AMPLIFIER.

“Fate is commanded to bless you with excellent freedom and prosperity in the coming year.”

A traditional eldraeic — the eldrae prefer to let the eternal verities know firmly what is expected of them—wish for the Darkest Night, the winter solstice/new year festival.

It’s written in eldraeic hexrunic, the one of their alphabets best suited for printing on cards, and signed with a personal ideograph, which I borrowed from one of my characters whom I’m sure won’t mind too much.

The background image is borrowed Creative Commons work, but represents the style of the original rather well, I think, and could well be an image of one of the Twin Worlds’ skies on the Darkest Night.

Cultural Tells of Language

This came up on the conlang/conculture mailing lists:

Ursula K. LeGuin writes some really gorgeous stub-languages into her fiction.  In a lovely short story called “Dancing to Ganam” in her collection A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, I paused to earmark this:

“Tezyeme,” he said, which meant something on the order of “it is happening the way it is supposed to happen.”

These little philosophical bells in a language always make conlangs more believable and immersive to me – telling the philosophy and culture of a people through the use of language.

What are some examples of words like this in your conlang(s)?

And I thought my answer might just be worth repeating here:

Eldraeic has a few of these.  Probably the most notable are the seven or eight words which they use to describe the innate and/or desirable characteristics of their mindset: coválír, estxíjir, mélith, talcoríëf, teir, valëssef, and valxíjir, none of which map precisely onto English/human concepts, even if some of them can get pretty close:

coválír might be translated as propertarianism, but really has the meaning “property as an extension of the self”; mélith, I gloss as “balance and obligation”; talcoríëf is literally “cold-mindedness”, but depending on context, it could reasonably be glossed as “rationality”, “self-mastery”, or “self-knowledge”; teir could be approximately glossed as “honor” or “self-integrity”; valëssef as “divided selfness” or “polymorphic identity” – the multiple social identities one has, and the need to keep them separate both mentally and in dealings with other people,even when you have two different relationships with one person; estxíjir as “wyrd”, “destiny” or “devotion to ideals”; and valxíjir as “uniqueness”, “excellence”, “will to power”, or “forcible impression of self onto the universe”.

(Most of these are covered in rather more detail on one of my trope-a-day pages, here, so I’ll link rather than repeat myself at great length.)

Oh, and estxíjir and valxíjir combine to create qalasír, which one might approximate as “will”, more adequately translate as “driving energies of the individual”, or casually gloss as “a soph’s got to do what a soph’s got to do”.  They also give rise to the slang term jír – approx. strength of will, courage, boldness, chutzpah, etc., and to jírileth, liberty – a “life of will/volition-use”.

Which brings me onto another one of those cultural tells: daráv, meaning literally “sophont” – which I gloss as “soph” in informal speech, for the right feel – and used in Eldraeic as the generic word for “person” – without any reference to species, gender, sex, race, etc., etc. unless explicitly added.  Also found in compounds like daryteir, “person of honor”, “gentleman” — er, gentlesoph.

Hm, other examples.  There’s the term for an Imperial citizen-shareholder, or at least the short term that’s a lot quicker to say than “Imperial citizen-shareholder”; valmiríän, which ambiguously means both “ordered self” and “self who sets in order”, and probably reveals a decent amount about their self-concept in so doing, and its opposite, ulvaledar, “unbound-person”, which means “foreigner” but defines that as “not signatory to the Contract and Charter”.

I’d add the classic series of insults – “Defaulter”, “slaver”, “parasite”, “dullist”, “cacophile”, or “entropic”, but I have not yet translated most of those, except for “dullist”, which is ulsúnadaráv– one who finds lack of the Nine Excellences and their concomitants laudable, or at least non-condemnable; so not technically “one who does not strive to shine”, rather, someone who thinks that there’s nothing wrong with that.  And there’s zakhrehs (“barbarian”), which while it doesn’t actually say that the thus called are guilty of specific and enumerated acts of coercionism, infiduciarity, theft, mooching, wilful culture-lack, destructionism, disharmony and chaos, implies that they like that sort of thing really hard.

Oh, and if I wax political for a moment, their taxonomy of polities.  The principle top-level division of móníë (polities), after all, is that between telelefmóníë (oath-consent states, Societies of Consent – by which they mean anywhere where the social contract is explicit and voluntary) and korasmóníë (force-states, where it isn’t), the latter being in turn primarily divided into talkorasmóníë (autocracies, “true-force states”) and sémódarmóníë (democracies, which charming word means “mutual-slave states”).

I’ve got some fairly telling metaphors, too, but they came up in my English-writing forms and I haven’t translated most of them yet.  Except for these different kinds of dilemmas, I think.

And if noodle words count, this.

Eldraeic Vocabulary (1)

By request, since I’ve seen a couple, here’s the dictionary of all the canonical Eldraeic words so far – canonical in this case meaning they’ve appeared in a fic or trope here or have otherwise been concretized.  (Yes, I have more words written down here, but everything’s subject to change except these.)  I’ve omitted a few species names and other proper nouns, as well as some grammatical particles, and the current version of the words’ place structures, but everything else should be in this list:

!tesh: ant
a!déra: bluelife animal of Eliera, resembling an indigo-furred, hexapedal woodchuck
aelva: beautiful/aesthetic (distinct from attractive)
Ailék: phonetic name for letteral “A”
alath: knowledge (as distinct from data)
alathciera: “weave-of-knowledge”, encylopaedia
aldamanyr: eikone, deity
aléla: motion/move
alírvelv: eel-analog native to Eliera
altáné: mother (performer of maternal role, not necessarily genetic or brood mother, or indeed female)
anan: you/you and those you speak for
anquan: negligibly, to a negligible degree
argórén: a tuberous Elieran vegetable
arien: the largest piece of Imperial coinage; 6 esteyn
aril: light (also dark when reversed with ulquor)
árkal: causal connective: causally resulting in, thus
astrar: (Selenaria) governor of a province’s subsidiary city
azik: stone (substance)
balchárn: hunter/to hunt
bandal: dog/domesticated canid
caile: leaf
cálen: green
calma: little/small
cap: logical connective: AND
cerrúr: four-horned hexapedal browsing animal, native to Eliera, used for riding
chalánlél: pulley (“wheel that moves things not itself”)
cháldar: a nanodrug refined from pithed sophont mind-states
chalél: wheel
charét: axle
chelír: a short non-rhyming triplet poem, of similar form to the senryu
chimbrí: like, be fond of
cikril: silverlife pseudoplant of Eliera
cikrieth: swamp/littoral variant of cikril
cisatar: (Selenaria) provincial governor
coronargyr: “Emperor’s merit”; that quality of authority conferred on a ruler by competence and granted proxies of the ruled that enables them to rule
coválír: propertarianism, the conception of property as an extension of the self
covalth: understanding of a concept
daër: game
daranan: you and others
daráv: person / sophont
darbandal: uplifted sophont dog/canid species
darcúlnó: uplifted sophont octopus species
darëssef: social role; the function you presently serve
darííche: uplifted sophont cetacean species
daryteir: “sophont of honor”; gentleman (although applies equally to any sex in the Imperial context)
deless: to like/love as a friend
delesessqámél: approximately, friend-with-benefits
dhaith: afraid
dimar: (Selenaria) governor of a district of towns and villages
dúran: darkness (with a sense of presence of malice; for simple absence of light, see aril)
ei: particle introducing names
ékaláman: “wyvern”; hexapedal flying carnivorous reptile with mid-legs turned into wings
el: particle introducing simple descriptions
elar: temporal tense: past/was/then/before
eldré: eldrae
elén: particle introducing mass descriptions
eloé: particle introducing set descriptions
esklav: hot drink produced by an infusion of beans; neither coffee nor chocolate, but not entirely dissimilar to either
espré: “pronoun assignment”; also known as
essa: create
esteyn: the base unit of Imperial coinage
estrev: “boss”; informal
estrevikh: “boss”, with sense of “master”; derogatory.
estrev-i-ráyestrev: “boss of bosses”, overboss; informal, usually criminal slang.
estxíjir: wyrd/destiny/devotion-to-ideals/dharma
falsan: black
fíäríën: tree
fidúr: blue
filwé: small four-winged songbird of Eliera, noted for its brilliant white plumage
galrás: meat
Gilek: phonetic name for letteral “G”
phonetic name for letteral “H”
hain: war
hanat: home/domicile/dwelling/lair
hanrian: the second of the traditional two swords; resembles a Roman gladius
harisan: runner/to run
harnis: vehicle (generic)
hasérgalrás: the meat of the hasérúr
hasérúr: a hexapedal, browsing, bluelife Elieran animal used for meat and milk
highént: difficult
hyúman: human; this word, of course, doesn’t actually exist in the language, but I include it to illustrate how it would be transliterated into Eldraeic orthography
iandaër: a strategic battle-simulation game, similar to both chess and shogi
ictoch: lit. “glitch”; colloquially, any annoying thing that you need to work on
idaharis: progress
idar: temporal tense: future
iébel: evidential: statement is hearsay, from the speaker’s perspective
intáné: father (performer of paternal role, not necessarily genetic or brood father, or indeed male)
ithréth: a four-dimensional stone-placement (similar to go) game
ítavir: yell/scream
jír: (slang) approx. strength of will, courage, boldness, chutzpah, etc.
jírileth: liberty (primarily in the negative sense; technically, a maximised phase-space of individual volition)
kal: polished gemstone used as a currency token
kálan: center, middle, midpoint
kecbal: animal
kerc-rakhel: “miserable prey”
kesseth: a lettuce-like vegetable of Eliera
kimaes: jar-sold sauce for plain food; similar to “ketchup”
kírasseth: the most complex Eldraeic game, involving multiple boards of play, cards, dice, and mechanical computers, self-referential, with an astonishingly broad base of symbolism
kirsunar: “most brightly shining”, supreme
korásan: “forceful one”; an aristocrat who governs by “right” of force
kórasmiríë: order imposed by force
korasmóníë: force-state; nonconsensual society
kveth: ass (body part)
kveth-lakh: that which comes out of the kveth (informal, perjorative)
lakhass: to die
laras: word
larileth: “sigillary”; a tile-placement game similar to Earth’s mah-jong, based on combining rune-constructs
leir: mist
léran: “observer of the civilities “; a non-citizen-shareholder who, nevertheless, respects the principles of the Fundamental Contract
lethis: living thing, to live
líhasúr: a quadrupedal greenlife rooting animal, native to Eliera
lin-runér: a coordinator of coordinators; to the runér as royalty is to nobility
lin-vandthel: the cold, black rage that leads to terrible deeds
líril: singer, to sing
trapper, to trap
lúekha: a sea-bottom “hot smoker” worm native to the ammonia oceans of the qucequql homeworld
lumenis: the “shilling” of Imperial coinage; 1/24 esteyn
mahar: maker, to make
mélith: balance and obligation
meressif: the “gentle arts”; the formalities and skills required to move in Imperial high society
miríë: order (as opposed to chaos and/or entropy)
mírlathdaër: a rule-manipulation game (similar to Nomic), popular among AIs
móníë: polity
múléth: a plum-like fruit native to Eliera
múratmiríë: order born from cooperation; emergent order
múrcét: night; the night half of the daily cycle
nalathdaráv: “unknown-person”, stranger
nall: none
nalrí: neuter (person or animal)
naratis: temporal tense: now & ongoing into the past and future; i.e., now and for all time
nekhalyef: a quadrupedal grazing animal of Eliera, used primarily for meat and milk
nérí: male (person or animal); man
nérissí: hermaphrodite (person or animal); herm
nissí: male (person or animal); man
olman: container, to contain
ómith: an elementally-themed card game with additional dice-controlled variations
qal: this here, a nearby object
qalasír: driving energies of the individual
qan: degree qualifier: syllabic numeral appended indicated degree by twelfths
qané: degree qualifier: to a small degree
qaneth: degree qualifier: to an average/usual degree
qanlin: degree qualifier: to a large degree
qel: that there, a medium-distant object
qil: that yonder, a far-distant object
qildaráv: person-from-yonder; stranger, foreigner
quel: good (general sense – moral, pleasing, aesthetic, functional, etc.)
quor: degree qualifier: absolute presence, completely, extremely
raicve: “rotting” (pejorative sense only)
reshkef: a hexapedal browsing animal of Eliera, used for meat, milk and wool
rian: blade (weapon)
rijsevas: wedge (“double-sided inclined plane”)
rijvas: inclined plane
runér: coordinator/harmonizer, a local executive in the Imperial government
saejas: screw (worn-down “circular inclined plane”)
saeris: crystal
sarai: judge, assess
sekánlél: lever (“stick that moves things not itself”)
seklar: arrow (weapon)
selenis: the “penny” of Imperial coinage; 1/288 esteyn
serren: shellfish, native to Eliera, whose shells have been historically used as currency
sessilar: binary metaphor
sessq: to have sex (mutually; takes a group term or list as subject)
sémódarmóníë: mutual-slave state; democracy
sétavir: converse (among a group)
sevesúr: a two-winged greenlife game bird of Eliera
sunar: bright/shining
“cold-mindedness”, rationality, self-mastery
talis: true/truth
talkorasmóníë: true-force state; autocracy
taltis: smallest Imperial coin; 1/1152 esteyn
tavir: to talk (to)
teir: honor/self-integrity
teirquel: moral goodness/ethicality
telalél: wind
telalélharn: hovercraft
telelefmóníë: oath-consent state, Society of Consent
telir: sky
thunimidár: “faded person”, middle-level supervisory operative; criminal slang.
tiryef: a large flightless bird of Eliera, raised for meat
uldaráv: p-zombie
ulquor: degree qualifier:  nonexistent, absolute absence, zero
ulsúnadaráv: “dullist”; one who finds lack of the Nine Excellences and their concomitants laudable, or at least non-condemnable
ulvaledar: “unbound-person”; non-Contract signatory, foreigner
urlis: false / untrue (not implying a lie, just not logically true)
urlisdaër: “false-game”; a game whose purpose is to cheat
val: I / I and those I speak for
valanan: you and I
valdar: I and others, we but not you
valdaranan: you and I and others
valëssef: divided selfness/polymorphic identity
valmiríän: “ordered self” and “self that sets in order”; Imperial citizen-shareholder
valxíjir: uniqueness/excellence/will to power/forcible impression of self onto the universe
vandthel: anger
var: temporal tense: present/is/now/at
xaról: a night-purple flowering shrub native to Eliera
yalcet: to curse
zahúën: big/large
zakhrehs: barbarian

That’s all there is for now.  I’ll post more when it builds up again, in the course of fics future.

Six Simple Machines

In today’s random conlanging post – the Eldraeic terms for the six simple machines, just because I could:

Inclined plane.

Wedge (“double-sided inclined plane”, more or less)

Screw (originally “circular inclined plane”, then worn down)

chalél / charét
Wheel / axle

Lever (“stick that moves things not itself”)

Pulley (“wheel that moves things not itself”)