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.

Rebellion! Insurrection! Vocabulary! (Also, superheroes.)

More questions from over on G+:

How do the words “insurrection” and “rebellion” translate from Imperial to Earthian? Here they have a few too many overtones of “You should be happy that my boot is embracing eternity with your face”, something tells me that those connotations would not exist there.

Well, the answer there is “with great care, mostly, because of the connotations”.

For “rebellion”, you have your choice of three common phrases in the Eldraeic:

  • travocíë livrás, which glosses as – more or less – “citizen default”;
  • tradaranan paléëf, which glosses as “coadunate self-defense”; or
  • tradaranan ca-paléëf, which also glosses as “coadunate self-defense”, but in super-sarcastic sneer-quotes.

The first implies that you had a sovereignty contract (not, obviously, an implicit social contract which is no contract at all) and you defaulted on it, rather than exercising whatever exit option there might be. Implicitly, therefore, you’re rebelling against a Society of Consent, and as such that has all the “You Rebel Scum!” connotations you might care to include.

The second implies you’re rebelling against a non-consensual government, which is just a fancy form of collective self-defense and might as well be called such.

The third, which is used rather more often, also implies that, but in the fine spirit of The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized denotes that the speaker thinks that you’re just as unpleasant a bunch of slaving thugs as the people you’re notionally rebelling against and are, indeed, primarily motivated by a desire to inflict your flavor of nonconsensual oppression rather than by an earnest desire for liberty and her handmaidens.  Connotations vary by tone and attitudinals, from weary cynicism to “fuck you guys right in the ear”.

For “insurrection”, you can probably get closest with ulmúrahain, although since that most accurately glosses as “war to unmake the emergent order (of society)”, can in theory attach to anything with enough participants that fails to respect the rights of person and property from an occupation up through a riot to an outbreak of civil war, and implies that the people participating in it are hosti sapienti generis who should probably be exterminated forthwith on general principle, it may be a little harsh for many of our uses of the word.

Also, do they have a recognizable superhero genre? In both the Soph With Powers, an Modern Myth senses.

Yes, with the caveat that dressing eccentrically, developing theme-based gadgetry, and fighting something loosely definable as some sort of good fight or other is at least halfway to being a respectable profession (they usually call those ones “adventurers“), which does change the perspective a bit.

But there is no denying the popularity of the transmedia franchises built around Captain Cosmos, the Orichalcium Fist, the Accomplished Perfect Academician, Lady Fusion, the Steel Engineer, etc., etc., etc., and feel free to consult Exalted‘s list of Alchemical names for other appropriate monikers.

(They do have a disproportionate number of the gadgeteer types – say, the Orichalcium Fist, who is essentially the local interpretation of the Iron Man archetype – given their predilections for smart people and shiny things.)

 

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.