Words That Can Hurt You

Whatever one’s position on the dubious assumptions behind the cliché “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me” and its unfortunate persistence in many societies, these are not assumptions which the Empire shares. Indeed, it has a fine selection of words to describe an entire taxonomy of words that can hurt you, sorted by the specific manners in which this is so.

Today, though, we concentrate on one specific subset of these: the traälathkháln laras (from alathkháln, “the pain of new understanding”, and laras, “word”). These are the words which can hurt you because, Eldraeic being a precise language, they require you to confront and resolve the fuzziness of your assumptions in order to voice them.

Specifically, let us consider the English word “hypocrisy”, “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform”. This is a term which in one word combines motivations from peccadillo to abhorrence, and acts from near-passive to motivated malice, and one whose broad spectrum is leveraged in many a motte-and-bailey argument with the intent that one’s conscious fraud will be considered an unconscious peccadillo, and one’s opponent’s vice versa.

Eldraeic, meanwhile, has three top-level terms which cover this territory, and does so in such a way that while one might argue over which is in play in a given instance, it is at least clear which claim you are making.

These terms are:

qané tracorlíë niril (lit. “insufficiently robust soul”): that hypocrisy which derives from weakness; giving in to a forbidden temptation. Usually albeit not always a peccadillo – let he who has never sneaked a second doughnut cast the first stone – but in any case, not involving any deliberate intent to deceive, nor implying that your commitment to the principles you espouse is insincere. Merely that you struggle to be perfectly adherent to them.

tracorlíë maurqártill (lit. “soul-fraud”): that hypocrisy which is deliberate; espousing one thing and choosing, in a state of talcoríëf, to do another. Not a peccadillo, as you might expect of any compound word which has the component maurqártill in it. Definitely implies insincerity and false commitment; almost certainly fighting words.

traürlis corlíë (lit. “false-soul”): Implies that you would have to have principles in order to falsify them, and therefore that you cannot be a hypocrite since no-one would ever have believed anything you claimed about having them in the first place. A verdict of damnation. Break this one out, and someone’s walking away from the conversation dead.

Other Related Words

  • urlis: false, logically untrue; oppose talis.
  • maurlis: from mahar “make” + urlis, therefore “manufactured falsity”, or lie
  • maurqártill: from maurlis + qártill “price”, therefore “liar’s price”, or fraud1
  • corlíë: soul, (poetic) mind-state
  • niril: robust, durable

  1. Obviously, not all fraud is as simple as “lying about prices”, but ultimately, all fraud does involve deceiving someone about the exchange-value of something, even if not directly expressed in monetary terms.

Eldraeic Words of the Freedom

A quick conlang note inspired by a conversation I was having elsewhere, in which my interlocutor was vexed by people talking as if lack of choice due to government (i.e., coercive constraint) was a reduction in freedom, whereas lack of choice due to poverty, illness, disability, etc. was not.

The relevant part here is my claim (which included mention of my conlang) that we can once again blame it on English, that lazy and imprecise language, for lumping two distinct concepts into one single word and hoping no-one is rude enough to point it out, resultant confusion be damned.

The Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, you see, has higher standards of precision. The Eldraeic word usually glossed as liberty, or freedom, is jírileth, which literally means “a life of choices”, and insofar as it’s talking about freedom from constraint, it includes the latter natural constraints and much more, right up to making amendments to natural laws, punching out the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and installing a few doors in infinity. “A prison the size of the universe is yet a prison! I will not be bound!”

(Its excruciatingly technical definition, the one used in the ethical calculus, would be “optimization of the phase-space of individual volition”, or slightly less jargonically, “affording each the greatest scope of will”).

This is the one which they put on the Imperial motto, because if there’s one thing the Empire’s citizen-shareholders aren’t afraid of, it’s tackling really big ideas.

The former, on the other hand, is mere ulqóras, a shortened form of ulquor kóras, literally meaning “absence of coercive power”, and while much more fundamental to ethics, it’s also a much, much smaller concept. And the problems attached to it are far, far simpler to solve — if one can manage to refrain from choice-theft.

As She Is Spoke

Some more words and phrases, since I’m feeling linguistic this morning:

esélmór: remembrance; memory-token (from esél “remember” + mórés “token, representation”); an object kept to stimulate the memory.

ethé: soft, yielding, comfortable

feäl qalasír: necessity (internal; an irrefusable demand of the soul); from feäl – abstraction operator – + qalasír “driving energies of the individual”.

galráësél: to recall with the body, as in trained reflexes or physical skills (from galrás “flesh” and esél “remember”)

galshín: to carve (cut meat), a meat-carving knife

galshíndar: one who uses a meat-carving knife; butcher

hatheän: ephemeral, brief (from hath “time” + eän “flicker (of flame)”).

húëll: animal (originally, anything which is living and moves by its own will)

kalat: plant, sessile lifeform (originally, anything which is living and does not move itself)

kithémór: heart-token (from kithel “to feel, to emote” + mórés “token, representation”); an object kept to express its owner’s passions.

layés: longing, yearning, to long /yearn for

misan: a day-night cycle; specifically, one calendar “day” composed of an arísú “day” and a múrna “night”, although not necessarily in that order. See also -mis, suffix for day names.

(Traditionally, the cycle was accounted from dawn to following dawn in the Old Empires region, which became the basis of the Harmonious Calendar; however, when contact with the Underside was made, the cycle there was accounted from dusk to following dusk, thus preserving identity of date, i.e., the 9th day of the month would consist of the same hours on both Upperside and Underside, save with the day and night reversed to night and day.)

mithseir: mathematician (from mithá “number(s)” + idaseir “seer, scryer”).

nistrazik: ore (from nistraöth “metal” + azik “rock”)

shín: to cut, a cutter (including knives and all other objects which cut)

“súnavár an-arídamaen”: “brightening sunsets” (from súnar “bright” + arídan “sun” and maen “to fall, one which falls”); a euphemism for “dead”, referring to cremation and the scattering of ashes into the wind.

“traäman cadair”: the Dragon Throne (from aman “dragon” + cadair “throne”).

“traülestxí ithal”: mathom, purposeless object (potentially with function, but without purpose); from estxí “function”, diminutive form of estxíjir “wyrd/destiny/dharma” + ithal “object”.

velcál: bread; technically any product made from a dough of ground grains (desh). Seen often in the compounds el velcál ap aesaer (bread and salt) and el velcál ap galrás (bread and meat; a common type of sandwich).

velmahav: baker, to bake (from velcál “bread” + mahav “make”)

Eldraeic Words of the Day: Agreements

caülgyrelef: compromise; agreement in which neither party receives what they want (from tratracalma traülgyr elefí, lit. “least worthless/unfavorable contract”, i.e., a bad deal but the least bad deal possible).

sédelélef: mutually beneficial agreement; agreement in which both parties succeed (from trasédelékith elefí, lit. “mutually pleasing contract”.)

Traditionally, a caülgyref is what you end up with if you are unable to make a sédelélef; which may not be the result of one party being an obstinate idiot, but usually is.

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: traäzik ulalath

traäzik ulalath: literally “stony ignorance”, (or for the convenience of Tellurian readers, “stone stupid”, even though the backing metaphor is entirely different), the very special kind of stupidity self-inflicted by and on the extremely loyal, be it to contract, person, cause, or necessity, characterized by making extreme deeds and ludicrous plans appear logical, sensible, and sane.

See azkith, “loyalty”, from azik “stone” + ankithel “emotion, passion”.

(Incidentally, for the MLP:FiM watchers among my readers, Tanks for the Memories is pretty much exactly what an episode of traäzik ulalath looks like.)

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Demév

demév: (from old Cestian deméthír, “wizard”) skilled practitioner, professional, one of notable expertise in a given area.

Casual descriptions of such expertise can be given using tra- compounds; however, various formalizations of these exist both general, such as alathdemév (loremaster), eléfdemév (obligator, “oath-master”), haindemév (warmaster), and mahademév (craftsmaster); and specific to individual professions.

Examples of this latter include alételídemév (pilot, “master of winds”); brandemév (blacksmith, “iron-master”), a specialty of nistrademév (smith, “forge-master”); riandemév (blademaster, meaning by extension a master of the martial arts); sashírdemév (fashionista, “master of glamor”) and leirdaërdemév (manipulator/intriguer/diplomat, “master of mist-games”).

Eldraeic Word(s) of the Day: Words Which Cut

rian: sword; blade used in war.

teirian: (from teir “honor” + rian) The “honorable sword”, the longer first-sword of the eldraeic Two Swords, wielded in the swordsman’s main hand. A traditionally-made teirian is an elongated S-curve five to six feet in length, of which two feet are the hilt, enabling it to be wielded either single-handed (in conjunction with the hanrian) with a lengthy reach, or double-handed with a wide grip. Both the lower edge and the pointward two-thirds of the upper edge are sharpened, as is the acute point, although the teirian is primarily a slashing weapon.

hanrian: (from hanel “useful” + rian) The “useful sword”, the shorter second-sword of the eldraeic Two Swords, wielded in the swordsman’s off-hand for parrying and secondary attacks. 18″ to 22″ long, with a heavy straight blade and a tapered point designed for thrusting attacks, it also serves legionaries as a multiple-purpose blade for non-combat functions.

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: Never Tell Me The Odds

ka idaseir qané trasunael xasessqár!: “bugger1 the seers!”; common expletive phrase, originating in Jussovy, used to respond to statements of poor odds, predictions of failure or certain death, claims that something is a doomed venture, a suicide mission, impossible, etc., indicating the speaker’s determination to go through with it anyway and trust their qalasír to carry the day.

Curiously enough, this often works.

  1. This is, of course, an idiomatic translation.

    A more literal translation would be “may the seers engage in low-quality/unsatisfactory sex!”

Elementary, My Dear Reader

This wasn’t what I intended to post next, but I’m still working on the “fleet carriers” post. In the meantime, have some more words.

So, among the basic words in a language, certainly for chemists, are those for various substances, and this is as true in Eldraeic as it is for any other language.

If we are to begin at the beginning, it would be with the classical elements, which in the Old Empires region were usually held to be six: air, fire (andra), water (alír), wood, metal, and stone (azik). But that is not quite enough to describe anything but what were, in the ancient days, considered the most fundamental substances, it being their combinations that gave rise to all the myriad components of the world.

And so, in the next step down, the first eldraeic alchemists divided substances into airs (gases), clays (“woody earths”, of which there seemed to be rather a lot), crystals (“metallic stones”, likewise), fires, metals, oils (“fiery waters”), salts (“stony waters”), waters, woods, and stones, thus:

  • aessoth: a (type of) crystal; any crystalline (to the eye) substance
    (from aesa “crystal” + oth “substance, stuff”)
  • alíroth: a (type of) water; any watery substance
    (from alír “water” + oth)
  • azikoth: a (type of) stone; any stony substance
    (from azik “rock, stone” + oth)
  • claithalíroth: a (type of) oil; any oily substance
    (“dark/shadowed water”, from claith “shadow” + alíroth)
  • ésaeroth: a (type of) salt; any salt or similar substance
    (“many little crystals”; from é [diminutive prefix] + aesa + oth)
  • múszikoth: a (type of) clay; any clay-like or earthy substance
    (from músel “soft” + azikoth)
  • nistraöth: a (type of) metal; any metallic substance
    (from nistra “forge” + oth)
  • teliroth: a (type of) air; any airy substance, or gas
    (from telír “sky” + oth)
  • lethroth: a (type of) wood; any woody or fleshy substance
    (from leth “life” + oth; note that lethroth includes both wood and meat, as the classical element does)

There is also:

  • andradoth: a (type of) fire; any fiery substance

Resulting from the common ancient confusion that fire is an element, rather than a process. Although while not substances, it is still possible to consider various different types of fire (i.e., different combustion reactions) and arguably plasmas as subcategories of andradoth.

To provide a comprehensive list of substances would of course be a virtually endless task, but let’s simply start with the metals, of which there were a pleasantly limited number known in ancient days:

  • andralis: uranium (“fire-metal”; it’s warm to the touch)
  • arídanis: gold (“sun-metal”; from the color)
  • ashínis: silver (“star-metal”)
  • brans: iron; also bransael, steel, and telbrans (“sky-iron”), meteoric iron.
  • glénis: tin (“key-metal”, so called because it unlocks the potential of other metals, such as copper and lead)
  • morins: copper (“red-metal”; from the color)
  • púlnónis: lead (“mass-metal”; obviously, it’s heavy)
  • traäshínis alír (“star-metal water”): mercury

And there you are. Go forth, and talk about stuff!

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Lechné

lechné: sweat, perspiration; technically, lechné refers to any fluid intentionally used to carry heat away by evaporation, and so cooling water for planetary power reactors, liquid hydrogen coolant used for evaporative hull cooling, and so forth, can all be described as lechné, as well as the original referent, biological secretions used for this purpose.

And Yet More

The two kinds of night…

ashíëmúr: “starlit night”; the night-half of the cycle in that half of the year in which Súnáris is in opposition to Lumenna, and the sky remains in twilight throughout the night, never becoming truly dark. From ashíël “star” + múrna “night”.

falsamúr: “black night”; the night-half of the cycle in that half of the year in which Súnáris is in conjunction with Lumenna, and the sky grows dark in truth. From falsan “black” + múrna “night”.

…the two natures of power…

arídaäsír: power; specifically, that power which arises from might, the power of lightning and the storm, the sword stroke, the crashing wave, the mighty engine, and the blazing sun. From arídan “sun” + asíran “power”.

chalíäsír: power; specifically, that power which arises from cunning, the power of the unforeseen gambit, the ingenious design, the perfect balance, the craftsman’s hand, and the gleaming moon. From chalíël “moon” + asíran “power”.

…the three kinds of loyalty…

traëlefí azkith: loyalty to one’s contract, oath, or obligations; from elefí “oath-contract” + azkith “loyalty”, itself from azik “stone” + ankithel “emotion, passion”.

traärgyr azkith: loyalty to merit, or rather, that loyalty to a person or group given fully and freely from respect for its worth. From argyr “merit” + azkith “loyalty”. Also sometimes seen as trabandal azkith.

traëstxijír azkith: loyalty to an abstract ideal, purpose, or necessity. Fromestxijír “wyrd, dharma” + azkith “loyalty”.

…and since we already covered loyalty, might as well give you these…

talisétäef: honesty; “converse with truth”, from talis “truth” + sétavir “converse (among a group)” + the state affix -ef .

carábrinef: generosity, liberality; “open-handedness”, from carás “open, accessible” + brind “palm (of the hand)” + the state affix -ef.

sefykith: laughter (as emotion, not sound), passing joy; from sef “spume, sea-foam” + ankithel “emotion, passion”.

merékith: kindness; from merel “gentle” + ankithel “emotion, passion”

dalínef: friendship. From dalín “friend”, plus the state affix -ef.

Twelve More Words

aelvthal: aesthant, from aelva “beauty” + thal “functional niche”.

arídamaen: dusk; from arídan “sun” + maen “fall”

arídaqerach: laser; from arídan “sun” + qerach “lightning”.

éändrycmesi: enlightenment, from andra “fire” + cmésí “kiss”.

ictoch: (expl.) “glitch”; colloquially, any annoying thing that you need to work on.

klaith: shadow; shade cast by a radiation-source.

laranlír: language; from laras “word(s)” + anlíril “song”.

mathalmin: crossroads, or intersection; from mathal “road” + minal “meet”.

traändra vandthel: “fire-anger”, wrath, specifically the noble rage of the righteous.

traëhain vandthel: “duel-anger”, the anger which requires satisfaction in battle, if not necessarily death (compare trasered vandthel).

traólmahara aelva: “the beauty of the remade”; that particular quality of beauty inherent in that which was broken and has been made anew. Also: an aesthetic philosophy similar to the Japanese kintsugi.

trasered vandthel: “blood-anger”, that fury which can only be quenched with the death of one party.

Eldraeic Words of the Day: New Places

A couple of words that are likely to be relevant in explaining many of the complexities of explaining to the audience the background needed to understand Black Panther, when we get there:

mahamoníë: Colony; literally “made-polity”. Applies specifically to polities created ex nihilo on terra nullius; there are variants of the mahamoníë, such as the semahamoníë, the reciprocal colony exchanged by allies, or the covíënqármoníë, the “wealth-price colony”, founded on a free sale and a fair purchase, but neither nations admitted by mutual agreement (and thus peer constituent nations) nor acquisitions by force (see below), formal or informal, can be referred to as mahamoníë.

rianqármoníë: Conquest; literally “sword-price polity”. Applies to any polity annexed by force. Any territory previously occupied by a population and not admitted by mutual agreement is necessarily a rianqármoníë, whether the force is formal or informal, exercised in fact or in duress, etc., etc.

And thus the necessity to translate “colonizer”, as an epithet, into traän-rianqármoníë daráv for anyone to understand it properly.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Leirlaras

leirlaras: (lit. “mist-word(s)”). A term referring specifically to words, phrases, paragraphs, or even entire works deliberately so constructed as to be void of meaning, misleading, or obfuscatory. Depending on circumstances, it may be pejorative (when used to describe a collocutor’s evasions, for example), or complimentary (describing a skillful piece of adversive diplomacy, likewise).

The etymology of leirlaras was, of course, deliberately selected in honor of Leiríah, eikone of mists, illusions, deceptions, trickery, wit, and intrigue.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Maharargyr

maharargyr: maker’s merit; from mahav (make, maker) and argyr (quantized merit), the excellence which one accrues from a worthy creation.

Note: refers only to the excellence itself, rather than the repute derived from it. This latter is mahadársúnar, from mahav and dársúnar (glory), which in turn is from daráv (sophont) and súnar (brilliant, shining).

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: Tramorán an-Enlét

tramorán an-enlét: (lit. “red gift”) Related in concept to the trafidúr an-enlét (“blue gift”), that social manipulation in which a gift that cannot be balanced by the recipient with an equal gift is used to create a favor-debt, the tramorán an-enlét is an attractive gift designed to cause harm by the nature of its recipient. It should be noted that a gift harmful in and of itself is nottramorán an-enlét; the essence of a red gift is that it could be used wisely and to beneficial effect, but the recipient is not one who will so use it.

Perhaps the best-known example of a tramorán an-enlét is the gift of fusion or orbital solar ergtechnology used to destabilize petroleum-dependent planetary economies, whose subsequent trajectory remains as predictable as it is clichéd.


Eldraeic Topical Words of the Day: Celestial Bodies

So, we had already established one word for a celestial body. As you’ll recall, that would be:

ashíël: star

From there, ancient astronomers gave us:

affíëníel: (from traäffiën ashíël, “dancing star”), planet; and

chalíël: (from trachálporis ashíël, “circling star”), moon.

And slightly less ancient ones provided:

alélazik: (from traälél azik, “sky-rock”), asteroid

But just to ensure that some recent distinctions are captured:

traäffíënel chalíël: true-moon, moon of a planet; and

trachalíël chalíël: moonmoon, moon of a moon; and even the unlikely

traälélazik chalíël: moon of an asteroid.


The Pronouns of Pros

(Loosely inspired by a G+ post in which I contemplate trying to phrase Eldraeic self-concepts into Japanese pronouns and honorifics: I went with a baseline of watakushi-sama, if you’re curious.)

Did you know (you did not) that archaic – or bearing in mind that it’s a deliberately designed language, prototype – Eldraeic had no first-person pronoun? All self-references had to be done through illeism, with name, title, epithet, or some combination of the former.


The Great and Powerful Trixie approves of this!

“I” was just too damn self-effacing, don’ch’know; a puny pronoun unsuited to the truly magnificent magisterial awesomeness of – well, any one of us, really. Pronouns, after all, are substitutable; individuals are very much not.

(It’s also handy when it comes to matters of valëssef, since your choice of name, title, or epithet to use lets people know which of your facets you are manifesting at the present time, without resorting to wearing masks Chresytanri-style.)

Even third-person pronouns were typically replaced by names when referring to people, for reasons of respect and because by the same principle, it lets the person addressed know which of their facets is being addressed.

Second-person pronouns were… best avoided, really.

Modern Eldraeic, however, does have a first-person pronoun (val), usable in casual speech to save time, but much like the third-person, it’s an assignable variable; it’s customary to illeize when you first speak, and on all subsequent valëssef shifts, to let people track the changes. Third person usage has tracked this change in approximately the same way.

No-one will find it particularly strange if you go full illeist, though. It just moves you into an extra-formal register.