Eldraeic Word of the Day: Zakhrehs

(I realized upon using the word in a comment thread here that I’d never actually given the full definition, so…)

zakhrehs: “barbarians”; specifically those sophonts who are alien to the Imperial ethical and moral traditions, in re libertism, negentropy, and gentlesophly behavior.

It should be noted that this term does not refer to those who merely come from foreign lands/strangers (Eldraeic qildaráv, “persons-from-yonder”), or those who do not knowingly subscribe to the Fundamental Contract (Eldraeic ulvaledar, “unbound-people”); rather, it refers to those who reject the core precepts of the Imperial ethical and moral traditions, whether or not they are aware of them in the first place. In particular, it does not carry any implication of primitivity or undevelopedness.

Anyone, regardless of species or ethnicity, who lives by the core rules of these traditions is “civilized”, and will be treated well. Even an honest effort by the ignorant will be looked upon favorably. In the areas within the Empire’s sphere of influence, autochthones who adopt Imperial ways — or seem to – will be treated with respect, perhaps to the annoyance of their neighbors. Intentional rejection of the core Imperial traditions, however, is nearly equivalent to declaring oneself a barbarian.

It is neither a direct cognate for any of the classic Imperial insults – i.e., “Defaulter”, “choiceless”, “slaver”, “parasite”, “dullist”, “cacophile”, or “entropic” – nor a direct reference to foundational concepts such as the Fundamental Contract, the Code of Alphas, the Nine Excellences, the Five Noble Precepts, etc. Rather, it is a general implication that the referenced person or society, while not technically and to-a-legal-standard provably guilty of specific and enumerated acts of coercionism, infiduciarity, theft, mooching, razorwalking, willful culture-lack, destructionism, disharmony, and chaos, is nevertheless in the speaker’s opinion a repulsive, nauseating mass of all, or at least many, of those things, and deserves to be treated accordingly.

It is no less insulting for all its generality and implicitness.


Eldraeic Words of the Day: Talisqor, Aelvaqor, and Alathqor

talisqor: (from talis “truth” + qori case tag: standard): the perspective of truth; objectivity, science, and mathematics; reality-as-it-is; existence; history; positive claims.

aelvaqor: (from aelva “beauty” + qori case tag: standard): the perspective of beauty; ambijectivity, art, and the numinous; reality-as-it-ought-be; creation; mythology; normative claims.

alathqor: (from alath “wisdom” + qori case tag: standard): the perspective of wisdom, that attained by the simultaneous affirmation of both talisqor and aelvaqor in fullness, dwelling in the eye of the paradox; see also tarev i-alathqor, “the task of wisdom’s perspective”, the Flamic challenge to bring about the perfect marriage of the two in an unflawed universe, the March of the Flame Against the Fall of Night.

(I must at this point acknowledge a great debt to Scott Alexander and his own worldbuilding project, Raikoth; those familiar with it or his blog posts about it on Slate Star Codex will no doubt have felt a sense of familiarity on reading the words above. The ideas expressed in that particular link helped greatly to clarify some ideas on the shape of the Imperial noösphere I’d been kicking around for a long time without fully congealing, arising from my own ruminations and various inspirations – notably, for one, Pratchett’s Hogfather – so all credit where it is due.)

Trope-a-Day: Language Drift

Language Drift: Sort-of averted for Eldraeic, due in equal parts to its origins as a designed language intended to communicate precisionist-grade thought and to its ongoing tending by the logotects, et. al., of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, who are prescriptivists nonpareil. Only sort of, however, since their department of Worthy Innovations routinely combs the language as it is spoken for, well, worthy innovations to be taken up into the canonical version.

Since they’ve been doing this for a long time, and since almost nothing can ever be thrown out due to the obvious need for backwards compatibility in language design, the result tends to be — well, if it were English, they’d be like this (courtesy of xkcd):

Played rather straighter by most other languages of the Worlds, although both the influence of Eldraeic via Trade and that of the pervasive communication networks of starfaring cultures do tend to slow it down a bit.

Trope-a-Day: Capital Letters Are Magic

Capital Letters Are Magic: They are indeed: prominent local examples include the Flame and its opposite, the Darkness, in their theological senses.

This, though, is Translation Convention for the Eldraeic augmentative affix, in a language that somehow doesn’t have an augmentative affix. It means “qualitatively, not quantitatively, more so”; i.e., more like that which it is attached to than it itself is. Used to create certain words through poetic metaphor – such as lin-runér (“sovereign”) from runér (“noble”), or lin-aman (“deity”) from aman (“dragon”). Not that you could have capital letters in the original, anyway: Eldraeic alphabets have no letter case. Proper nouns are indicated by such things as color changes or cartouches.

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”.

Trope-a-Day: The Unpronounceable

(Sorry for the delays in the next part of Darkness Within, folks – having some trouble getting it to gel in my head.)

The Unpronounceable: Quite a few, due to all those species that don’t use spoken language the way we understand it: as mentioned previously, esseli names are DNS strands, myneni names are made of sounds only a synthesizer could love, galari names are modulated EM radiation, and then there are the sonar pings, electrical waveforms, patterns of bioluminescence, complex aromatic chemicals, neural-gestalt-expressed qualia which are very, very hard to parse for anyone of different brain design, etc.  All of that is before you get to the really simple problems like different larynx designs.

It is somewhat averted due to the Eldraeic language being designed as a lingua franca, and thus possessing multiple different phonologies for its alphabet, including several designed for different ways of speaking, including sonar, bioluminescence, EM codes and DNA encoding, so in theory it should be possible to transliterate names encoded in those ways into something pronounceable and adequately unique, even if it doesn’t resemble the original all that much to the ear or other organ.

In practice, not so much, or not without your speech organ hurting, or not in a manner that’s agreeable to the person named.  But you can try, at least.