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.