The Things Are Also People

First in this initial set, a terribly useful phrase in first contact situations or when wandering around an unfamiliar starport, Floating Market, or lost sophont office, lest you commit a dreadful solecism and confuse a robot, a piece of luggage, a pet, vehicle, furniture, or potted plant for a fellow traveler of an unfamiliar species. Or even worse, the other way around.

Xamelcétar an-val ke mekt anan darávar?

IMPERATIVE + forgive + PRED. / OBJECT CASE + I / LOOSE-LINK SEPARATOR / is it the case that / you (you alone) / sophont + PRED.

“Excuse me, but are you sophont?”

…well worth memorizing for the avoidance of all sorts of awkward situations.

– p. 2, Trade Eldraeic for Beginners


Trope-a-Day: Unusual Euphemism

Unusual Euphemism: Eldraeic, by and large, is not a language given to a great deal of euphemism.  Circumlocution, yes, but not so much euphemism, as its principal speakers prefer their straight talk to be straight.  For example, polite society has no problem with people just saying straight out:

valdar sessqár (“We had sex”)

On the other hand, one can get many of the same overtones by playing around with tense words and affixes.  For example, playing around with the “noble” tense and the augmentative affix could produce the following:

valdar chal sessqár

(“We made love”, in a more romantic/poetic sense)

valdar lin-sessqár

(perhaps best translated “We engaged in rampant shagging”, emphasizing the happy-fun activity)

Or even both at once:

valdar chal lin-sessqár

(suitable for describing, say, one’s honeymoon, creative translations capturing both of these senses simultaneously are left as an exercise for the reader)

As a final note, the Eldraeic verb meaning “to have sex” is a mutual verb, that requires a set of at least two members as a subject and takes no object; in these examples, valdar (“we”) literally means “I-and-you”.  In one case of not-really-a-euphemism, it is entirely possible that the Eldraeic verb meaning “to masturbate” is actually also sessqár, merely applied to the set of “I-and-nobody”.

Essence and Observation

Also important to recall in choosing the precise description of an entity is that Eldraeic enforces a strict conceptual division between objectives, defined as descriptions of properties inherent to a subject itself, and subjectives, defined as descriptions of properties inherent to a predication, and therefore dependent upon the observing as well as the observed.

For example, consider aelva (“beautiful”). This is an objective, an indisputable fact; to describe something as aelva is to assert that it is beautiful in itself without reference to the observer, and therefore implicitly that all accurate and rational observers must necessarily agree that the subject in question is aelva, and to the same degree.

Eldraeic does permit the use of multiple standards of beauty, or other objective properties. All objectives accept the case tag qori- in their place structure, defining the standard of measurement used. In the case of beauty, this typically refers to some artistic or aesthetic-philosophical school; in the case of more mundane measurements, commonly seen examples would include qori-aladár (“scientist’s measures”), qori-covadár (“merchant’s measures”) or qori-mahadár (“engineer’s measures”).

An seemingly obvious dodge here would be to declare qori-feäval[1], i.e., that one is using oneself as a standard of measure. This is certainly usable, but the speaker should be aware that declaring ones’ own opinions an objective standard by which the universe should abide is moderately arrogant even by eldraeic standards, and should therefore be prepared to answer the inevitable follow-up, “Qori-vé?”

To express a similar subjective view of an object, one must resort to words such as delékith (“pleasing”) or méskith (“attractive”), both of which relate not to a property of the object itself, but to a property of the observer’s view of the object, which is conceptually distinct. Contrariwise, neither of these, nor other words in their class, can be used in an objective mode since they necessarily imply an observer. Implicitly, all such words imply a specific observer whose (subjective) standards are being used, by default the speaker unless an i- (“to”) case tag is used. Qori- may be used with subjectives to inquire into which of several potential personal standards are being used, but is obviously less relevant than in the case of objectives.

(When used in a tra-description, e.g., traméskith darávíël (“an attractive woman”), the standard of objectives and the observer of subjectives is contextually determined – as in all tra-descriptions – if not specified, with a preference for the default when it is otherwise unclear.)

A related differentiation affects the choice of expression of a description. To say sa cálenavar (“it is green”) is to state an indisputable fact about an object’s optical properties, and implies that one’s knowledge about that object is sufficient to make that claim, poor lighting, other environmental conditions, optical illusions, and so forth notwithstanding.

While the limitations of such claims are traditionally qualified by evidentials and dubifiers (see p. 347 et. seq.), in cases where there is any significant degree of unknown doubt, it is preferred to say sa sérivar an-el calen (“it seems/is perceived to be green”), reflecting a proper attitude of epistemic caution.

Eldraeic As It Is Spoken: Precisionist-Grade Communication for the Unsophisticated Outworlder

[1] Note: not simply qori-val; omitting the abstraction operator implies that you are literally an incarnate standard of measurement, which is almost certainly not the case.

Trope-a-Day: Punctuation Shaker

Punctuation Shaker: Averted.  Those punctuation marks have meaning in the Constructed Language.  Specifically, the acute indicates a long vowel, and the umlaut-that-is-really-a-dieresis indicates that a vowel is to be pronounced separately from the previous one, rather than as a diphthong.  Any wandering apostrophes you may see exist because I’m using (or was using and haven’t yet fixed) a typographical system that won’t let me put an acute and an dieresis on the same letter.  (Yes, Unicode should technically let me do this, but not everything in my software stack will play ball. Don’t write letters.)  And pling is pronounced “tongue-click”.

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…)

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.