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.

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”.

On Thanks, And The Meanings Of Thanks

In appropriateness for Thanksgiving, the question of the nature of thanks.

In an etymological discussion on Google+, back in July, which some of you may remember, in which various languages’ ways of saying “thank you” were discussed and their comparative original meanings – in terms of obligation, or gratitude, or mercy, or indeed the fascinating etymology of the Japanese arigato, I was asked how Eldraeic does this. And so, I answered, and I thought while I was at it I would save the substance of that comment for today’s blog article:

It is, of course, a somewhat complex question filled with tasty nuance. Sadly, it is also a complex question filled with etymological detail which I didn’t have to hand then, and since my brain has been busy with other things in the meantime, I still don’t have now, which teaches me to put things on the back burner, I guess. Still, while I don’t have those details available because I have yet to work out how these words would have run in Cestian and Selenarian and so forth before determining their descendants in good old modern Eldraeic, I can talk somewhat about meanings.

Of course, in Eldraeic, it’s all about obligation. Because of coválír and mélith, which for new readers are defined over here, and I talk some more about how they play out in language here. To Eldraeic’s original native speakers, and to those Imperially acculturated, obligation is a spiritual value, a founding principle of civilization, and a measure of moral worth all wrapped up in a single package. And for eldrae, in particular, it’s something about which they get instinctually twitchy in ways that humans simply can’t feel, so.

Thus, there are three combinations in Eldraeic that take the place of our “thank you” / “you’re welcome” pair. In either of the first two, the thanking party opens with “I am indebted”. The first possible response here, used for originating transactions, amounts to “It is known/acknowledged/recorded.” (The word here, based on the etymological notes that I do have, is now specific to this circumstance, but links back to older words relating to knots, tieing, weaving, etc., which is how they used to keep account-books in archaic times.)

I should also point up, probably, that while this might seem cold by human standards, declining to acknowledge/record someone’s offered debt is essentially blowing it off as not worth enough to bother with, which is a particularly insulting way to start a fight provoke someone to a duel. Yay for cross-cultural misunderstandings.

The other one, used for closing transactions when one is cancelling an existing debt, is “It is repaid,” which – oh, hey, more etymology – has links with words meaning “it balances”.

The third form is used in things like, say, buying something and paying for it right then, when the obligation is both incurred and paid off at the same moment. That one’s a worn down form of the old obligator closing that runs something along the lines of “Thus is our contract written; thus is agreement made.”, and it’s said each to each, probably simultaneously, at the close of the deal. You could also think of it as analogous to the Jacksonian “Deal”.

These apply, of course, principally to solicited transactions. Unsolicited ones – well, in their view of the world, you can do something that benefits someone else for your own internal reasons, but you can’t do something for them without their consent – because that would indebt them to you without their consent, and that’s something that only slavers, outworld barbarians, and other terminally uncultured people do. One can, however, declare oneself indebted to someone for something they didn’t do for you, which starts off the whole elegant verbal dance in which they try to persuade you that you’re not indebted (’cause they had their own internal reasons or another debtor, and got paid already) without insulting you by repudiating your debt, and you try to persuade them otherwise…

One might well ask how gratitude fits into this paradigm. Answer: badly, as we conceive of it, ’cause gratitude would imply a sense of indebtedness, and that would be incorrect and inappropriate because the debt has been either acknowledged as an obligation or already paid. It is done, and carrying it further would be a gross solecism.

What they do have, on the other hand, is appreciation – something which, per coválír , has its ties to such words as “appraise” acknowledged much more plainly that in human cultures, because they’re not ashamed to express value as value . Eldraeic is a language in which it is entirely reasonable and appropriate to say “I value your existence/this series of transactions/the [commercial/personal/etc.] relationship/your willingness to participate in this transaction” straight out, which while far from something that it’s appropriate to say every time you buy a cup of coffee, is something one might express to one’s frequent counterparty/regular butcher/favorite barista, etc., etc., as a statement appended to whichever of the above is relevant to whatever transaction you’ve just engaged in.

(It’s also the most appropriate statement to use to respond to things done that benefit-you-but-aren’t-for-you, which in most cases do not generally warrant going to the lengths of declaring oneself personally indebted.

This phrasing is also used to acknowledge gifts – given with no strings attached, for which there is a specific verb, “to-give-in-appreciation-of-your-value”, which I would more readily gloss as “to gift”, at least if we ignore blue-gifting – compliments and other such expressions, and so forth.)

Trope-a-Day: Language of Truth

Language of Truth: There is no first-class language of truth (that is more or less impossible), but Eldraeic was custom-designed to make speaking logical fallacies – by a variety of logics – bad mathematical statements, woeful imprecision, etc., etc., as difficult as possible if not downright ungrammatical, especially when spoken in formal registers.

While this does, as intended, make life more difficult for amateur liars, the general feeling is that even when professional liars (diplomats, say; see Will Not Tell A Lie) are called for, they really ought to be above that sort of cheap fast-talking anyway.


Having used the word, guess I should define it, huh?

sédármódan (pej.):

  1. Democrat.
  2. Voter.
  3. Mutual slaver (lit. “owned owner-of-sophonts”); compare dármódan (“slaver”).

It should be noted that the definition of this term reflects Imperial local attitudes and political taxonomies, in which any governance apparatus not meeting their definition of a Society of Consent (i.e., which non-consensually subordinates the individual to the group, e.g., by regulating its citizens’ non-externality activities, violating the fundamental rights in accordance with the Fundamental Contract, etc.) is deemed a korasmóníë (“force-state”) and equivalently illegitimate, if not equally obnoxious in their sight, as all other korasmóníë, regardless of their actual internal construction as a democratic, cyberdemocratic, republican, consensus-based anarchy, etc., system.

Outside the Empire, the term coríalqarr (“thought-counting”, used within the Empire to refer only to consensual voting-based decision systems) and its derivatives are more commonly used to refer to democratic systems of governance. It should, however, be noted that within the libertist Empire and to a lesser extent within the Consensual Cultural Region as a whole, this usage is considered at best a euphemism and at worst an apologist’s shibboleth. The wise speaker should endeavor to be aware of local political attitudes before selecting terminology for effect.

– Dictionary of Trade Eldraeic, min Sarthall, League Press

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?

Trope-a-Day: Eloquent In My Native Tongue

Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Eldraeic native speakers tend to come across this way, tending to be either stilted and concise (if they’re aware of it and overcompensating for that by grotesquely simplifying everything, Eldraeic being, ah, very enriched in language features indeed – an approach which is somewhat shameful, but possibly the best compromise they can manage between perfection as defined as accurate communication and perfection as defined as proper use of the foreign tongue) or verbose, over-precisely and redundantly qualified, and pedantic (if they’re simply letting the translator run away with it) in other languages.

(See also: Call a “Smeerp” A Rabbit, Curse of the Ancients, I Do Not Speak Nonverbal, Japanese Honorifics, Mathematician’s Answer, Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, Sophisticated As Hell, Spock Speak, Starfish Language, and Translator Microbes.)

Trope-a-Day: Translator Microbes

Translator Microbes: More or less ubiquitous, in one form or another, and pretty much essential to sustaining galactic culture. Advanced cultures use neuroprosthetic translators, which are embedded directly into the language center of the brain (or are software run on more sophisticated brain implants) which provide real-time translation between ear and thought, thought and mouth, with a thinker-class AI to provide seamless, real-time (you hear the alien language; you just understand it), and meme-level translation; less advanced ones rely on handheld devices, or translators built into clothing or jewelry – which repeat, rather than go in real-time – and lower standards of translation quality.

Either way, there’s no such thing as a “universal” or “self-teaching” translator; the translators generally require the software and database package (the “linguistic corpus”) to be obtained and installed for every language you expect them to handle, and producing those in the first place requires a lot of time and work from professional linguists.  Fortunately, two people with translators that both work to/from “Trade” – for all intents and purposes, a simplified Eldraeic I  pidgin – can communicate enough for most simple purposes.

Trope-a-Day: Spock Speak

Spock Speak: …partially.

To some extent, it’s the nature of the language.  Eldraeic doesn’t have contractions (although some words are coined as portmanteaus, more or less), and is designed to match the preferences of its creators (by both species and profession) for low-context, high-precision communications (spurred on, perhaps, by the universality of contracts and/or the nature of, say, spacer or underground society not rewarding sloppiness of mind at all) – or, circumstantially, to provide plenty of scope for wordplay, circumlocution, necessary etiquette and protocol, and occasional out-and-out wilful obscurantism.

(Also, indeed, the tendency of the Empire’s supply of rampaging intellectual elitists, meaning everybody, to prefer $5 words and up.)

While it and its speakers are quite capable of jokes, sarcasm, slang – although the slang would also qualify, by and large, as high-precision, low-context – and metaphor, at least the last three are flagged explicitly by register (and, in metaphor’s and some slang’s case, by grammatical particles); and while it is not required by the language, a care for mélith and appropriate management of one’s valëssef does tend to lead to underplaying of emotions (despite the language’s rich attitudinal/affective vocabulary) except in moments of stress or exceeding frankness.

And ixéren (“indeed”) is indeed a Very Popular Word.

No Ludicrous Precision, though.  Ludicrous Precision is, ah, imprecise.  (And see also Sophisticated As Hell.)

Trope-a-Day: Sophisticated As Hell

Sophisticated As Hell: The rather sophisticated system of registers and inflections for differing degrees of politeness and formality in Eldraeic would make this sort of thing really quite easy to pull off, for native speakers, and so it seems a crying shame not to use it on appropriate occasion.  Translating it both faithfully and realistically into English, on the other hand, could be something of a bugger.

Trope-a-Day: Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness

Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Inasmuch as Eldraeic is a language axiomatically optimized, grammatically and lexicographically speaking, for maximal precision and minimal ambiguity in the transmission of information while simultaneously permitting undertakings of verbal ludosity and operating successfully in minimal-context, including cross-cultural and polyspecific, environments, and maintaining properly exquisite mathematico-philosophic elegance, it’s really damn hard not to play this straight.  Especially, given the high percentage of its speakers who do this sort of thing simply because it’s fun.

Subverted, however, inasmuch as it not only has a bastardized pigeon for use by non-native speakers who don’t care about being looked down on, but also an officially-grammatical “clipped” dialect for when you need to say things like “Look out!  Truck!” or “Fire the torpedoes!” or “Eject!  Eject!  Eject!” right the hell now.

Trope-a-Day: Mathematician’s Answer

Mathematician’s Answer: The nature of the Eldraeic language, being designed as it was by mathematicians as well as logicians, philosophers, and linguists, positively encourages these. (So does the cultural attitude in favor of precision and in disfavor of the sloppy speaker and the plain intellectually inadequate.)

In fact, if asked a literally-translated “Is it A or B?” question, the only possible grammatical answers are “Yes” or “No”. If you really want to ask a question of that form – say, “Would you like tea or coffee?”, the way you say it in Eldraeic is “You would like tea how-related-to coffee?”, to which the answer is “neither…nor” (if you want nothing), “but not” (for tea), “not…but” (for coffee) or “and” (for both), any of which options can be expressed in a single conjunction.

(For a real-world example of this unusual grammatical form, this is also how Lojban does it.)

Observers of the modern Conclave on Linguistics and Ontology are unsure whether they’re saddened or delighted by how much this and other quirks of the language annoy and frustrate less precision-devoted non-native speakers, but they definitely aren’t planning on changing them any time soon…

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.