Eldraeic Word of the Day: xatírár el rótaní

xatírár el rótaní: (“do the needful”)

  1. (common) A request to do that which is necessary or required in a given context, with the respectful implication that the other party is trusted to understand the needful and operate autonomously.
  2. (rare) A request to do that which is understood without being spoken. Used in situations requiring deniability.
  3. (rare; ISS) An instruction to arrange a cauterization.

Eldraeic Word(s) of the Day: Words Which Cut

rian: sword; blade used in war.

teirian: (from teir “honor” + rian) The “honorable sword”, the longer first-sword of the eldraeic Two Swords, wielded in the swordsman’s main hand. A traditionally-made teirian is an elongated S-curve five to six feet in length, of which two feet are the hilt, enabling it to be wielded either single-handed (in conjunction with the hanrian) with a lengthy reach, or double-handed with a wide grip. Both the lower edge and the pointward two-thirds of the upper edge are sharpened, as is the acute point, although the teirian is primarily a slashing weapon.

hanrian: (from hanel “useful” + rian) The “useful sword”, the shorter second-sword of the eldraeic Two Swords, wielded in the swordsman’s off-hand for parrying and secondary attacks. 18″ to 22″ long, with a heavy straight blade and a tapered point designed for thrusting attacks, it also serves legionaries as a multiple-purpose blade for non-combat functions.

Trope-a-Day: Descriptively-Named Species

Descriptively-Named Species: Not commonly found among sophont species, who rarely feel the name to describe themselves and the convention being to transliterate their name as literally as possible, even if that occasionally leaves other species struggling to pronounce the correct vowel distinctions in sssc!haaaouú.

More common in other lifeforms, from Eliéran tubefish and Phílae’s handfish through air plankton, asteroid potatoes, bursters, carrier bats, chime oaks, crystalplants, ice weasels, songleaves, sweetfungi, etc.

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.

Lore

2016_L(No alternate words.)

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.

Given under my hand and seal this day,

Múírí Larathyr-ith-Lyrian

 

Trope-a-Day: Aliens of London

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.

Trope-a-Day: Third-Person Person

(Note: a planet of the day is still coming, albeit not technically today. Just been movieing.)

Third-Person Person: There are a number of languages and cultures in the Associated Worlds that do this.  One notable example is the use of first-third person in Eldraeic, because it lets you cite your attributive name of the moment (see Overly Long Name), and thus reify who you are (or rather, which aspect of yourself you are expressing) right now.

Trope-a-Day: That Makes Me Feel Angry

That Makes Me Feel Angry: As mentioned under I Do Not Speak Nonverbal, due to the difficulty in handling cross-species expressions and body language, many people with translators end up talking this way.  “Polite clarification: This way, actually.”  Alternatives do exist, including attitudinal v-tags, rebus emoticons, simulated expression-translators, and so forth, but this is probably the most common of them.

Trope-a-Day: Strange Syntax Speaker

Strange Syntax Speaker: Mostly averted by well-programmed translators; of course, this is not the case for relatively recently contacted species (whose linguistic corpuses may not be complete and conclusive, and who may well therefore play this absolutely straight, along with some vocabulary peculiarities) or, of course, cheap knock-off translators.

Also sometimes played straight because many languages include linguistic features not found in others, and if you want a full-fidelity translation, this would make languages like English sound a little strange while all the evidentials and attitudinals and politeness markers and dubifiers and other such qualities are inserted in-band.  This is most evident with the attitudinals, since given differences between different species body languages and expressions, everyone’s playing I Do Not Speak Nonverbal straight, and so a full-fidelity interspecies translation would generally involve everyone talking like Mass Effect‘s elcor (“Grumpy: Inconvenient as it is.”).

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”.

Trope-a-Day: Pardon My Klingon

Pardon My Klingon: Played straight in a number of cases – zakhrehs, for example, while glossable as, is not entirely cognate to, English barbarian – but played even straighter for words that aren’t expletives, but whose English gloss is too long to use in conversation, like valessëf, or valxíjir.  Or it’s not-really-an-expletive shorter form jír, perhaps best glossed cojones.

Trope-a-Day: Stat-O-Vision

Stat-O-Vision: Augmented reality – hooked up to scanning equipment, civilian v-tags, mugshot databases, and suchlike provides exactly this for everyone, all nearly formatted with architect’s lines extending into secondary visual fields and more sophisticated UI systems for common stats (see Aura Vision for one example), with all the necessary basic hardware built right into your head.

Not just for fighting strength, of course – you can get, depending on what information you have access to, everything from their personal profile to medical data to reputation scores to current geolocation to twitter-equivalent feed and blog to IM/texting window this way, and/or hyperlink (“sopholink”) directly to them.

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.

Dialects

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: 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.