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”).
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.
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.
deshalír: beer, encompassing non-distilled brews made from grain- or grain-analogs, literally “grain-water”.
delékalír: wine, encompassing all non-distilled brews made from fruit, literally “pleasing-water”.
qerachalír: distilled spirits, literally “lightning-water”. (andrakalír, “fire-water”, had already been taken. By naphtha.)
…oh, and who could forget…
xindaralír: literally “explorer-water”, could be translated “scout brew”, and refers to whatever was cooked up by the first-in team out of stuff that looked fermentable. May or may not be delicious, hallucinogenic, toxic, or explosive, but hey, that’s why they’re doing science to it to find out.
Zymology is so a science!
(And yes, this taxonomy does imply that, so far as Eldraeic-speakers are concerned, rice wine is a kind of beer and cider is a kind of wine, while mead isn’t either. They don’t make the rules, they just enforce ’em.)
Note for translators: This is the word you’re looking for, which serves equally for technical, medical, and casual usage. It is not considered pejorative or vulgar per se, but certain comparisons or equivalencies may be depending on context.
Variants include tracagál hanat (shit-house, an outdoor biowaste disposal facility); tracagál neth (shittery, an indoor biowaste disposal facility, as distinct from the customarily separate lavatory [washing room]); mézcagál ([metaphorical] shit, archaic term for a useless substance, no longer in common usage due to its high value in ecopoesis and closed life-support systems); and traäshíël mézcagál (starshit, colloquial term for iron, and by extension, any common and mostly useless waste product).
sashír: Most usually glossed “glamour”, sashír refers to a willfully accepted ambijective illusion embracing and enhancing beauty (aelva) and attractiveness/pleasingness (delékith); a concept foundational to high culture (meressif), fashion, and the personal arts.
raïthal: The plenum; the “universe”; the cosmos as a whole. Literally “all objects/entities”, it conveniently expands to encompass all new discoveries that broaden the scope of existence; other terms are required, for example, to designate one particular universe-manifold and its adjacentia.
And somewhat inspired by a discussion on the Discord concerning demonyms:
eslév es raïthal: Difficult to gloss due to most languages’ lack of a commutative equivalency operator – perhaps “Empire :: Universe” – this slogan beloved of such Ecumenical Throne adherents as the Above All, One Imperium Movement, Society of the Golden Chain, and Architects of the Cogs of Utopia, implies that the Empire is/belongs to/is a property of the universe, and vice versa, and that each shall transform the other.
living debtstyle: Living scandalously in debt or accumulating debts faster than one can reasonably be expected to repay them (not simply monetary debts, but also long-term oath-contracts, promises, favor-trades, other commitments, or even reputational liabilities). Used to indicate that the speaker considers the referent to be unreliable, “on the road to Default”. The term can be applied personally, organizationally, or nationally.
– Eldraeic As It Is Spoken: Precisionist-Grade Communication for the Unsophisticated Outworlder
el tramézashíël eslévár (n.): Empire of the Star; the largest and oldest eldraeic polity.
Broken up, this phrase reads: tra (DESCRIPTION OPERATOR) – méz (METAPHORIZATION OPERATOR) – ashíël (star) — eslév (empire) – ár (PREDICATION OPERATOR), which is to say in long-gloss, “the empire which is like unto a (metaphorical) star”. Replacing this with the English “of” is acceptably inaccurate for such an imprecise target language.
It should also be noted that eslév is linguistically unique, appearing only in this phrase (and abbreviations thereof: el eslév unambiguously refers to “the Empire”). It is not used to represent any of the other possible meanings of “empire”; the technical meaning of a union of multiple peripheral polities beneath one metropole, for example, is el vielmóniramóníë (loosely, “a commanding country-of-countries”).
It has no strict root-based etymology; rather, eslév is a nonce coined for its conceptual resonances: it resembles, for example, proto-Cestian words for “created” or “our creation”; Selenarian terms for “lunar crescent”; various Silver Crescent words with meanings approximating to “celestial”; a Veranthyran term meaning “propriety” or “high culture”, and so on and so forth.
serev (n.): Blood, or other primary life-fluid (e.g., myneni crystalplasm, codramaju suspension, mezuar sap, etc. – even, to stretch a metaphorical point, digisapience electricity.)
A word notable for its use in many metaphor-based compounds and etymological cousins, notably seredar (“blood-person”, or paramedic); seredhain (“blood-war”, or war of extermination/genocide); seredáné(“blood-precursor”, or genetic parent); sereglés(“blood-key”, or biometric security system); sereqártill (“blood-price”, or weregeld); seredelefí (“blood-oath”, a contract secured on one or both parties’ lives); and saráv (justice).
valëssef (n.): a principle of Imperial culture, valëssef is literally translated “I-am-ness”, the particular aspect of oneself that one is manifesting at any particular time, or to put it another way, who one is in relation to present circumstances and present company.
This peculiarly eldraeic concept is tied strongly to their capacity and cultural inclination towards complex, multidimensional social arrangements. One adept in managing valëssef is capable of easily switching between multiple social personae for different situations or relationships – employer, father, positions of wildly differing ranks in branches, and so forth, even when connections between the same people are involved – and holding them separate from each other when acting in one particular one.
Failing to properly manage valëssef – mixing elements of one relationship into another, such as permitting a family relationship to affect a professional relationship – is considered most improper.
(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.
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.)
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.
So after many back-and-forth sessions involving questions and answers, I’ve gotten the impression that in eldraeic morals and ethics, there’s essentially a continuum with “coercion” at one end, “ideal enlightened self-interest” at the other, and in between a fairly broad space of behavior which, while certainly unpalatable to a large number of people, technically isn’t forbidden as such.
This might be a useful point at which to discuss the difference between ethics and morals in their terms, for which it would be useful to invoke RFC 2119 terminology.
Much like that, it’s a three-level system.
There are matters of the fundamental deontology, which are MUSTs and MUST NOTs;
There are matters of arêtaic ethics, which are SHOULDs and SHOULD NOTs;
And there are matters of morals, which are MAYs and MAY NOTs. (Well, sort of: in the sense that morals are personal and supererogatory rather than essential and obligatory, if you will.)
Such unpalatable behaviors generally fall into the second level.
It’s also rather apparent that the eldrae themselves (and other people like them) probably occupy the extreme high end when it comes to wisdom and foresight with all the technological powers they’ve essentially gifted themselves with. Among those powers comes, essentially, something that would come eerily close to precognition to those not similarly gifted.
With that in mind, a few additional questions:
1. How do those who advocate the principle of non-coercion account for the fact that some people can better predict another’s most likely response to a particular stimulus better than the target themselves can, or have different willpower and self-control reserves?
By and large, on the former, they don’t feel the need to. Your consent is not vitiated by your merely being predictable. (If it was, it’s hard to see how dull people could be interacted with at all.)
On the latter…
2. In particular, what’s the eldraeic take on temptation? Obviously you’re ultimately responsible for your actions and yours alone, but is willfully, continually, and deliberately expose someone to a stimulus for your own ends while knowing that their indulgence may destroy them or end with them in an exploitable position — even if it only comes about “by their own free choice” on the surface according to a technicality — recognized as a form of coercion in and of itself?
Mere weakness of will is a personal defect, not a cause of action. You should work on that, or failing that, go see a psychedesigner and have that fixed.
(After all, you can always walk away. They have the freedom of speech, not the freedom to make people listen to them.)
3. Roughly where does the dividing line between “coercion” and “acceptable-if-pernicious exploitation of another’s flaws and failings” lie?
The bright line is very clear: it’s coercion if it violates the principle of consent, specifically, to quote:
No sophont may act upon the person or property of another, except through the other’s memetically-shared consent, in response to an action-correspondent memetically-shared request.
For legal-ethical purposes, a meme is considered a unit of information expressed through symbols: e.g., writing, speech, farspeech, infographics, Uniglyphics, or other symbols with a broadly published, specific meaning enshrined through law, contract, or long-standing custom, such as the knotted club or spacer’s marlinspike that identifies a brawler’s bar.
Imperial law distinguishes this, thus, from direct or indirect manipulation of another’s mind by mechanisms which do not pass through the cognition, ethical function, and self-awareness of their mind, and thus deprive them of the ability to act accordingly; this constituting choice-theft.
Imperial law further requires that the memetically-shared request correspond accurately to the action consented to, and therefore communicate the request properly to a reasonably informed listener; non-informed consent, in Imperial praxis, is no consent at all. Likewise, implicit consent, based on extrapolations of meaning and/or symbols whose meaning the reasonable person would not be aware of, is not considered valid.
…that sets the limits of MUST NOT. There are any number of things that you SHOULD NOT do that you can still theoretically persuade people to let you do (assuming they weren’t that bright, slept through Bad Ideas 101, ignored their pocket obligator software, and didn’t subscribe to any reputation networks) but this is the limit of MUST NOT.
To finally sum up this line of thought along with related ones raised elsewhere: Ignorance, inattention, uncompensated Dunning-Kreugerism, careful avoidance and/or bypassing of the mechanisms designed to cull bunco artists out of civilized society, et al. et seq. will let people determined to screw you, screw you.
Insofar as people think about this particular issue, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
On the grounds that anyone this careless about their talcoríëf is a walking disaster just waiting to happen any way you slice it, and therefore it’s better that it happens to them sooner rather than later, and consequently, on a larger scale and with more other parties involved.
…oh, one last side-note:
After all, full sanction only truly works against those who depend on others to supply their own essentials — and we are talking about a universe where, even if your support staff up and quits on you because you’re under sanction, you could (with enough resources, fabricators, and knowledge base at your disposal) simply replace them outright with self-forks, greenjacks, and non-sophont automatons that you own outright. And even full sanction amounts to little more than a mutual recognition of the status quo when you’re the one who owns the food, the ore stockpiles, the roads, the utilities, etc.
If being placed under sanction makes annoying, dysfunctional people wrap themselves up into a tiny little autarkic bubble where they can basically live off their existing capital so long as it lasts while playing happy-happy games with themselves and not bothering anyone else…
…that is a win for the social enforcement mechanism. You’ve taken your ball and gone home; hope you enjoy playing with yourself; don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.
One: Do the eldrae have any sort of concepts analogous to “pay it forward”? Is stipulating that an obligation can be discharged not by direct compensation, but by instead performing the same or an analogous action for a future (and often unspecified) third-party beneficiary, something they recognize as valid? If so, how common (relatively speaking) are exchanges of this sort in the Imperial / Associated Worlds “contractual ecosystem”?
You can contract that, sure. (Under Imperial law. From aspects of various questions, I get the impression that you think that contract and other law across the Worlds is much more harmonized than it actually is: apart from the basics defined in the Accord on Trade which concentrate on letting different systems interface with each other, they can vary quite radically between polities, and thus choice of law is important. Certainly, a lot of entities from outside the Empire like to specify its law as their choice of law regardless, since it manages to be both flexible in definition and rigorous in application where contractual matters are concerned, but it’s by no means equivalent to a galactic standard.)
It’s considered quite useful, as a self-replicating means of having one’s will done, although the wise contractor will include some sort of appropriate termination condition and a smart-contract monitor, inasmuch as for the former, few things remain relevant indefinitely, and for the latter, one should remember that a party undefined at time of contract cannot enforce said open-ended contract, because they aren’t party to it yet.
I have no idea how common they might be; the contractual ecosystem is a seething mass of arbitrarily many arbitrarily defined types of contracts, so that would be nontrivially quantifiable even if I had a basis to quantify it. There are “some”.
Two: On a semi-related note, how common are (for lack of a better way of putting it) self-replicating contracts? Can a contract stipulate specific terms, conditions, and forms that are encouraged or prohibited when subcontracting part of the obligation out, including a recursive replication of the subcontracting restrictions clause itself? (To keep it short and sweet, can a contract essentially say “All subsidiary contracts made in pursuit of the terms of this contract must be devised according to the same format and with similar stipulations as this one”?)
Sure. That’s basically standard form for things like, say, non-disclosure clauses which you wish to bind not only your contractee but whoever they might contract with in the course of execution also. (Naturally, the more you bind the means, the less appealing your contract is to potential counterparties, but that’s a negotiated-reasonability issue that’s easy for reasonable sophs to work out between themselves.)
I also feel that I may save some time here by stating outright that the default answer to questions of the form “Can a contract…/…as valid?” is Yes for essentially anything that doesn’t directly contravene the Contract (or, by virtue of previous contract, the Charter). Exceptions to this are very rare indeed.
When it comes to saying things that need to be said but that you know the listener isn’t going to want to be hear, is it better to be polite or to be frank — inasmuch as there may be situations where adherence to the formal protocols of politeness may obscure the (real or perceived) urgency of your message?
Be polite. This is for two reasons:
First, the notion that you can’t be polite and frank/urgent at the same time is one of those products of having a tragically inadequate language, that doesn’t have evidentials and attitudinals and other features designed to convey exactly this sort of information.
Second, while not strictly true in a logical sense, it is heuristically true that rudeness is strongly correlated with poor argumentation and outright dark-side epistemology, and as such it is generally accepted throughout the Core Cultural Region that it is rarely worth listening to anyone who cannot comport themselves with appropriate propriety.
Which is not to say that you cannot be cutting, snarky, or indeed Sophisticated As Hell, as well as simply purveying unwanted truths, but the sophisticated part is not optional.
Does Imperial law have anything analogous to our “Son of Sam” laws?
No, principally because there’s never been a need. People who would otherwise be in a position to make money from publicizing their crime are generally either (a) too dead to do so, or (b) not prone to do so because they’ve been through meme rehab. Either way, it’s not been a significant issue.
The eldrae’s perspective on causes of action related to fraud and physical coercion have been expounded on at length, but what about mental and emotional coercion? Does Imperial law have anything analogous to “negligent” and/or “intentional infliction of emotional distress”?
No, for two reasons. The first is that what they might see as legitimate applications of our tort by that name are already covered. To use a couple of examples from Wikipedia’s article, there is “The common law tort of assault did not allow for liability when a threat of battery was not imminent,” a defect which the Imperial law’s tort of assault does not suffer from on at least two different grounds; and “An example of an act which might form the basis for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress would be sending a letter to an individual falsely informing the person that a close family member had been killed in an accident,” something which there is illegal under the tort of falsification of information, and possibly a species of fraud. Other things might fall under, say, defamation, anharmonic indecency, etc., etc.
Those things that aren’t – i.e., don’t have an actual tortuous act at their core – well, they’re fluff. You don’t have a right not to be outraged, and you certainly don’t have a legal remedy for anything that isn’t unquestionably mala in se, not just mala in percipi.
A pair of somewhat related questions pertaining to the eldrae and their Blue and Orange Morality:
One: What would the eldrae think of the “seven deadly sins” and the corresponding “heavenly virtues” if they were introduced to them? Much has been said directly about their takes on pride and greed, and there’s plenty of indirect evidence for their probable takes on lust and sloth, but I’d be interested to see an in-depth treatment.
(I’m also curious as to whether they might actually see certain “opposed” virtue-vice pairs as actually being complementary, not conflicting.)
Well, let’s see. (And in short, obviously, because there would obviously *there* be a lot of written thought about such things, not all in agreement and suitable to ready summarization in a single in-depth blog post.)
First, it is perhaps worth listing the Nine Excellences, which are the closest equivalent to the virtues, although not all that close. These are: Unity (or self-integrity, perhaps); Honor (including within its scope the minor virtues of justice, truth, and clemency); Duty (including the minor virtues of liberality and tenacity); Courage; Harmony (including the minor virtues of beauty, courtesy, refinement, and the appreciation of excellence); Right Action; Liberty; and Dignity (including the minor virtues of pride, propriety, and temperance). There is no equivalent list for the vices; the Antithetical Heresies are manifold, inasmuch as there are always many more ways to be wrong than to be right, and in any case, are mere defects in the virtues. (As we’ve covered previously theologically speaking, evil, or Entropy, rather, has no essence of its own; it’s merely a distortion of a thing’s true essence.)
Second, it’s also worth mentioning a key philosophical note as expounded here: the empowering balance of passion and reason, talcoríëf and valxíjir, and the ideal encapsulated within, that of dispassionately and cold-mindedly choosing a course of action, and then carrying forth that action with absolute passion.
That done, let’s examine the sins in pairs with the virtues, as is often done:
Gluttony and Temperance: Now, temperance is also among the Nine Excellences, but with not quite the same meaning. After all, as the Word of Cinníäs puts it, “Lack is the greatest intemperance.” Ain’t nothing wrong with pleasure: eat, drink, be merry; sate yourself with all the world’s delights. These are the proper rewards of prosperity earned.
Temperance, if you ask the Prince of Wine, is defined as avoiding harming yourself or others (don’t be a mean drunk!), becoming a slave to addiction, or losing the proper joy in your pleasures. Abstemiousness for its own sake or for the sake of some notional “moderation” is pointless.
Greed and Charity:“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of [sophontkind].”
– inevitable quotation at this point
Because, well, obviously. Greed and its handmaiden ambition are the spurs from which greatness and achievement in general come. Were it not for greed, desire, and ambition, people would still be living in caves and shitting in the woods. The Empire, great and glorious beyond all greatness and glory, didn’t achieve its current exalted state by modest means through modest ends – it achieved it by the starkly rapacious pursuit of awesomeness.
Or, to put it as one of the more colorful books addressing the topic might:
“What do you get if you disdain greed an’ ambition? Bunch of jackasses sitting around on their planet flippin’ each other off, writin’ smug little tracts about the naturalness of mortality and the moral superiority of poverty, wastin’ perfectly good extropy while the future passes them by. Their home biospheres must be so embarrassed to give rise to such perfect, unadulterated wankers.”
– Fíërí Lariantinos,
author of Fuck Me, Would You Look At These Assholes? (approximate translation)
Now, sure, greed may inspire some people to wrong actions various, but that’s not greed’s fault, now is it? There is pretty much no notion in the world that can’t inspire wrong actions if misunderstood, and people who turn to theft and fraud and suchlike are not wrong for being greedy, they’re doing greed wrong.
So far as the charity side of things is concerned? Imperials do not approve of charity in the traditional theological sense, inasmuch as that sense implies self-sacrifice (not a popular notion; you can buy things with yourself in their praxis, but it’s an unfortunate and unavoidable necessity to be avoided whenever possible, not a virtue!) and other aspects of Comtean altruism. And, indeed, the nearest local equivalent of the Parable of the Widow’s Mite ends with the lesson that it is unwise to give away that which you need to take care of yourself, and that the eikones do not expect it of you.
On the other hand, you will note liberality listed among the virtues of the Nine Excellences, and indeed, liberality, generosity, and open-handedness are very much considered laudable. On the gripping hand, they are also considered to form very much the complementary pair with greed, since one’s capacity to be generous depends very much on one’s capacity to generate. They are two virtues, therefore, best practiced in conjunction.
tl;dr Rarity is best moral exemplar.
Lust and Chastity: Yay, lust! (See gluttony for pleasure and greed for desire, basically.)
Well, okay. Imperials are also very keen on some aspects of chastity. Discretion, which is the excellences of Dignity and Harmony. Honesty in relationships, as elsewhere. Commitment. The bounds of one’s obligations.
But within the bounds of obligation, commitment, and discretion, it’d be a sad and sorry thing if there weren’t some lust, now wouldn’t it? This is one of those talcoríëf-valxíjir each-in-its-place scenarios.
Sloth and Diligence: Sloth is spiritual Entropy, period. Often, specifically, the Antithetical Heresy of the Deedless Cripple. That’s a terrible, terrible sin indeed.
As far as diligence goes, though, they would say that that doesn’t go far enough. Diligence is merely doing what one ought do. By contrast, the excellence of Right Action implies not only that one should do what one ought do, but one should also strive to do more. Being content to only do what one ought do is itself a minor kind of, well, slothfulness.
Wrath and Patience: The only sinfulness of wrath, an Imperial would say, is that if you haven’t had your neurochemistry properly adjusted, wrath makes you stupid. Typically in ways that cause one to strike the wrong target, cause collateral damage, wander off into evil areas like torturing your enemies to death or harming innocents to hurt them indirectly, and/or get your damnfool self killed.
But once you have cold-mindedly ensured that you have the right target and have done the proper strategic and tactical planning, then go ahead and strike down upon those who attempt to poison and destroy your brothers with great vengeance and furious anger, and other colorful metaphors. It is… appropriate. Empowering one for such unpleasant necessities is what wrath is for.
As for patience: this depends on the aspects involved. They are very keen on those aspects such as “Building a sense of peaceful stability and harmony rather than conflict, hostility, and antagonism; resolving issues and arguments respectfully, as opposed to resorting to anger and fighting,” where possible, as you can see from the Excellences. That’s just good positive-sum sense as well as virtue.
On the other hand, it’s not an absolute virtue. As they’d point out with regard to us specifically, he who turns the other cheek has to put up with a lot of… cheek, and one of our more common tragedy-of-the-commons social failure modes is the way that a lot of bullshit persists because no-one’s willing to call the perpetrators on it.
They also notably prefer the virtue of clemency over that of forgiveness/mercy, because indiscriminate mercy tends to leave a lot of enemies at your back, sharpening knives. Clemency is more discriminating. Also, and they are very clear on this, that means you get a second chance. Key word: a. You do not get an arbitrary series of nth chances, because just as nice is not cognate with weak, kind is not cognate with stupid.
Envy and Kindness: Not a whole lot to say here. They are against envy and pro kindness.
(They would go so far as to say that they’re a lot better at spotting envy, given how much our society reeks of it and even promotes it as virtue under another name, but that’s what one might call an implementation detail.)
Pride and Humility: Ah, yes, pride. Pride is a virtue, on the one hand, because self-awareness is a virtue, and pride is self-awareness of your own awesome. It is a virtue on the other hand, symmetrically, because it creates the ideal version of yourself that you are compelled by it to live up to. Mirror and goad in one.
Hubris, though, is not a virtue, being a way to lie to yourself and to others – but, one should note, it’s never hubris if you can back it up. (Nor is arrogance, per the excellences of Harmony and Dignity, although steering away from unconscious arrogance is a hard, hard task.)
But humility is not a virtue for the precise same reason. It amounts to telling yourself that you aren’t as good as you are – which is also lying to yourself and to others. (And if even you’re accurately humble, it amounts to a claim of “I’m afraid I kinda suck”, to which the universal response of your annoyed colleagues *there* is “Well, stop it!“)
(ObSophontology: This may play better for species with hierarchical instincts where a lack of humility in subordinates may be perceived as a threat to the position of the leader. In eldrae, the reaction is more likely to be that a lack of pride in colleagues may be perceived as a gap in the competence of the group.)
Two: Much has been said about how eldraeic morality looks distinctly alien from human eyes, and how ours would accordingly look deficient in theirs — but is there such a thing as “taking it too far” on the opposite end of the pendulum swing? How would the eldrae criticize those whose particular deviation is not (metaphorically) a famine, but rather a surfeit?
Not deficient. Different, yes, and often plain wrong, but that’s as often because of too much as too little. See temperance above, for example, or the moral weight that many human moral systems place on purity or authority.
As such, that critique is likely to be along the lines of:
“Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue finds and chooses the mean.”
(That was Aristotle in “Nicomachean Ethics”, but it would fit just as well in the mouth of any dozen Imperial ethical philosophers.)
(And on a related note, what’s the typical reaction to those from criticized cultures whose reaction is to take the criticism to heart in such a way that they end up becoming “more eldrae than the eldrae” (in the sense of perhaps-superficial aping of behavior without apparent understanding of the underpinning psychology)?)
“They understand. They do not comprehend.”
(I mean, technically that’s the Heresy of the Thoughtless Churl, but, to steal another quote, “The very young do not always do as they are told.” In this case, it’s childish zeal. They’ll grow up in time and with a good example.)
What is the general attitude towards the idea of the “Socratic gadfly” or the “Devil’s advocate” — those people who advance arguments for controversial and unpopular views and measures less to seriously advocate their implementation, and more to encourage interesting discussion and / or get people to seriously think about why they are committed to the things they believe and espouse?
Annoying, but useful.
(Useful enough that people have devised Socratic questioning-daemons to run on your personal mindware, mark you, but still. Even the Intellectual Integrity Movement can only impress people with Socrates’ utility and get them to respect and listen to him; they can’t make him loved.)
So does the Imperial legal system lean more towards adversarial or inquisitorial procedure?
On the one hand, you’ve mentioned before that every citizen is expected to be able to argue their own case on their own behalf, which may imply an adversarial element. On the other hand, the whole notion that legal judgments should always be based on clearly enumerated principles in a comprehensive legal code as opposed to having the judiciary effectively legislate through case law precedent is very much a civil law idea, and most civil-law judiciaries tend to favor inquisitorial procedure.
This is a case where drawing too-close analogies to Earthly practice is likely to lead one into error, especially as the two concepts are only bound together by historical accident.
To address the latter point first, bear in mind that the comprehensive legal code exists for one reason: namely, you can’t reasonably expect people to follow the law if they don’t know what it is, and that means that there has to be somewhere they can go and look it up.
But the original Imperial Codex of Law was written as a codification of the very-much common law-like codes originally generated during the Ungoverned Era. And more relevantly, while it can be added to by legislation, it is also added to by binding precedent in the traditional case law manner. But, since the ability for people to check what the law is is still necessary, and there’s a limit to how big a precedent search you can expect a layman to perform, every dodecentury a commission goes through the last 144 years worth of case law and transmogrifies it into statute law, such that the Codex remains definitive – and then new precedent starts building up again, and the process repeats.
Which on the whole may be closer to the common-law model, but ain’t exactly it.
As for the former, it hews closer to the inquisitorial model. The justices of a Curial court are empowered to investigate anything they please, and do so once the case has been presented. There is typically an Advocate for Innocence and an Advocate for Guilt, who concentrate on the case from that particular perspective, but both are first and foremost officers of the court, whose primary oath-sworn goal is to find the truth, and never to win the case for my client, as is the case for any other contracted advocates, for that matter. (Forgetting this is a very quick way to end up out of the bar and into the dock.)
So you can think of it as a common-law system with a mostly-inquisitorial procedure for short, but that’s not an entirely accurate picture.
Given the prevalence of space dwellers, sustainable closed habitats, sophisticated in situ resource harvesting techniques, and the quasi-magical Clarkean matter-energy cornucopias underpinning it all, are there any particularly notable groups that effectively make the on-the-go, take-your-home-with-you approach into their way of life? Are there any especially notable large-scale nomadic or itinerant movements, whether in the old sense of communities like the gypsy caravans or Central Asian steppe hordes, or the subculture-sense like the “RV lifestyle” or the traveling hippies whose home is their beat-up VW bus?
There are nomadic space travelers in canon, yes, including some entire species.
Speaking specifically for the eldrae, there are the Traveling Houses, who have embraced the on-the-go lifestyle since the Bronze Age-equivalent with various tech and scale updates as they go, and some of the Variosotec maintain their plains-dwelling nomadic heritage into the modern era, along with some other cultures…
…and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now, because I may/will want to do something with them in the future, and so am not going to spill the details in advance. 🙂
You know, after doing some thinking, it strikes me that, at times, there’s an awful fine line between qalasir and “pernicious irrationality” — fine enough to make me wonder if any outsiders have ever accused the Empire of practicing some form of doublethink by alternately exalting as a fundamental virtue and condemning as a fundamental vice the same thing under two different names.
And, if so, what the Empire’s philosophers and moralists response would look like.
…approximately. I mean, that’s getting your supergoal drives and your volition dynamics all mixed up with your cognitive methodologies. Comparing whats, muches, and hows. You don’t want to do that. Nothing but confusion will ensure.
(Although there is a slight asymmetry inasmuch as while reason can’t tell you what to want, it can tell you what not to want. And yet.)
This may also be further illuminated by contemplation of the empowering paradox of passion and reason, as discussed above.
A few queries on language:
1. What is the Eldraeic language’s name for itself and its speakers?
The people are elen eldra informally, or el eldaratha more formally. (Which, as is traditional, means “the People”, or literally, “the thinking ones”.) The language, therefore, is el traeldra laranlír (“eldrae-type-of language”, where laranlír ‘s roots could be glossed “song-of-words”.)
2. Is there a central regulating body / “language academy” that mandates proper language use (whether formally or informally), or is the situation more like English where there’s simply a broad consensus with lots of room for variation? (Or, given the free-wheeling “emergent order” attitude the eldrae take to nearly everything else, is is sort of a mix of both?)
A mix of both.
The version published by the Keepers of the Language, themselves part of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, in turn part of the Eupraxic Collegium, is definitive. Of course, since they also train professional logotects, eonymics, and sphragists, it’s also innovative.
This doesn’t prevent unofficial linguistic innovation, of course, but at least it generally keeps it to innovation, and holds the line on meaning-degrading changes and other forms of linguistic entropy. Since, yes, emerging order and the professionals can’t predict all the innovation that is required, the Keepers include several departments whose function is to harvest unofficial linguistic innovations and roll them back into the next release of the canonical language.
3. Are there any particularly strong examples of fixed expressions or collocations in Eldraeic?
(Not really equipped right now to pull some out randomly, but I know there are several seen in various back postings here.)
4. You’ve mentioned elsewhere that the language has a diverse array of honorifics. Are there any particularly common (or otherwise good-to-know, such as when addressing Their Divine Majesties or the local runer) ones beyond daryteir?
Leaving aside titles, a non-native speaker without special requirements probably should be prepared with respectful-address, to-a-professional-in-their-context, to-an-[Excellence|Exquisite|Perfect|Paragon], to-an-[exultant|praetor|runér], from-one-who-demands-by-right, from-one-who-acknowledges-fault, and to-one-whom-one-does-not-know.
If invited to anything out of the ordinary, ask the symposiarch. That’s what they’re there for.
5. Given the heavy focus on logic in constructing the language, how tolerant is Eldraeic of paraconsistent logic? (For that matter, how comfortable are Imperials and the eldrae themselves with paraconsistent logic in the general case?)
The language supports it as another tool in the auxiliary set.
(It’s only a tool, mind. It’s a way of handling lack-of-knowledge problems, since reality itself cannot be inconsistent, only incomplete.
And the general view of things is that multi-valued logics, especially probabilistic and specifically Bayes-descended logics have proven themselves a superior way of dealing with these problems, but there’s no particular objection to it. Unless you assert that it actually reflects reality, at least.)
On the subject of the Equality Concord, we know that they make heavy use of mind-state manipulation and memory redaction. But what level of self-awareness do the members have? Are there any members who are completely non-self-aware?
All the equalitarians are fully sophont. It wouldn’t be nearly as creepifying if it was just one of those bizarre p-zombie cults that crop up from time to time.
As a side note, that cautionary dictionary entry, if anything, understates just how spectacularly insulting uljíra is, adjective-wise. But then, it was written by a non-native speaker of Eldraeic, even if a native speaker of the Trade dialect.
Its literal meaning is “choiceless1” – and not so due to external forces. Jír, recall, is the root of jírileth, with its important literal meaning.
That’s right up there with “Defaulter” in terms of Things To Say To An Imperial That Will Result In The Coroner Declaring Your Ensuing Death A Suicide.
1. And you can consider that in the context of that certain old saying daráv xíjirár; jaqef vigínár: a sophont chooses, a servile complies.
vetel i-seldá remains the currently accepted term in Trade Eldraeic for an employee, under the quasicontractual doctrine practiced in many polities, despite being a reuse of the original term in formal Eldraeic for the lowest grouping within the (obsolete) servile daressëf, those who were unable to contract for the performance of specific works or the use of professional skills and were therefore limited to selling their time per se, working under direction upon arbitrary tasks. This is typically ascribed to it remaining the technically accurate term in the eyes of those contract brokers currently holding the largest talent market share, not coincidentally corporations domiciled within Imperial space.
The term that may be heard but should nonetheless always be avoided is traüljíra jaqef, ‘bound servile’, a reformulation of an ancient (korásan-period) term roughly equivalent to ‘serf’. This is an extreme pejorative, whether used of an employee or of an employer’s desire, and – even for the lightest and most self-deprecating usages – unsuitable for any usage beyond extranet polemics, invitations to duel, or acceding to the fighting words doctrine.
– Dictionary of Trade Eldraeic, min Sarthall, League Press
(Alternate words: None. No words, that is, not literally “none”.)
conforming to an average (mean), or to a common type (mode);
Visitors to the Empire and culturally-related regions should take particular note of the second, pejorative meaning of the word “normal”. In a culture that prizes individual excellence and personal freedom, and which is composed primarily of non-peer-norming species and clades, being described, or having any of one’s possessions, associations, functions, etc., described as conforming to either the mean or the mode of any group is considered an accusation of mediocrity, among the worst of all possible states.
Visitors are advised, when not using one of the technical senses of the term (which each, for those not relying on mechanical translators, have a distinct Eldraeic cognate), to consider alternate terms whether the description is intended in a positive or negative sense: “nominal”, “optimal”, “radiant”, “glowful”, and “shiny” are all suitable, only moderately loaded candidates on the positive side, while on the negative, even a fervent assurance of your utter disgust, loathing, or contempt would still be less damning than an accusation of “normality”.
– Eldraeic As It Is Spoken: Precisionist-Grade Communication for the Unsophisticated Outworlder
(Appendix B: Treacherous Words and Metaphors)
From Academician Múírí Larathyr-ith-Lyrian, Fellow of the Sodality of Commutative Logotecture, Associate Proctor of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, Loremaster of Linguistics, Semiotics, and Memetics, to the Ecumenical Commission of Translation and Conversion, greetings.
With respect to the views of the Commission and those expressed by various submissions to the commission, it remains my opinion, and that of my colleagues, that “lore” and its semiotic equivalents in other language remains the best cognate available for the Eldraeic alath. While it is in many languages of the Accord an archaic term (and thus may result in degrees of cognitive dissonance when speakers of such languages are confronted with compounds such as “spacer lore”, “nanolore”, et. al.), it is our belief that it properly reflects and thus aids in understanding the nature of the development of knowledge among the eldrae.
Unlike many civilizations whose discovery of the scientific method came as a revolutionary change of paradigm, or is perceived as such, for us the insights of Sung Iliastren and his successors formed an evolutionary phase in the search for truth; and while much of the knowledge attained by prescientific, if we may so inaccurately term them, methods was invalidated by later discoveries, we see this itself as merely part of the process of testing and refining hypotheses. Epistemology applied to itself, if you will. As such, we continue to revere the ancient scholars in fields from astronomy through chymistry to now-obsolete sorcery as fellow seekers for truth, and feel no need to discard their terminology where it remains appropriate.
I observe one of the citations offered in support of the proposal to change this translation is the various replacement terms found in the Magen dialect. While as an Imperial logotect I naturally consider this bastardized form of the language with some distaste, I would root my objection to their terminology in that the bastardized language in question belongs to a bastardized culture, which has perverted the forward-looking attitude and enthusiasm for genuine progress into a disdain for tradition and fatuous love of novelty for its own sake, hence their eagerness to replace functional words with “improvements” of no greater meaning or precision simply for the sake of doing so – something which must be rejected by any professional logotect or well-educated speaker as a matter of principle!
A third consideration is the number of related cognates (loremaster, as both a word and an academic ranking; loreworks; various trade names; etc.) which would also have to be altered in the course of execution, or otherwise lose their base root.
In closing, we must therefore reject the proposal at hand unless significant evidence of failure to understand within a sample set of educated speakers (per relevant IOSS) can be brought to our attention.
Aliens of London: Well, since no-one ever speaks English, it’s a little hard to say – especially with regional variations – but I suspect a native Eldraeic speaker attempting to speak English without benefit of a translator –
(Which depending upon locale configuration would probably produce either Broadcaster’s Mid-Western or Received Pronunciation.)
– would arrive at an accent somewhere halfway between a Southern drawl and Londo Mollari.
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.