The Dailies. January 12, 2022

The Dailies. January 12, 2022

Did you work on your language today? Create any new rules of grammar or syntax? New progress on a script? New words in your lexicon?

On the other hand, do any excavating or reading or enjoying stuff you’ve already created? Do you have any favorites to share?

How did you conlang today?


6 thoughts on “The Dailies. January 12, 2022

  1. Happy New Year!
    Some worldbuilding for the South-West Continent!
    (I will use Earth-style centuries here for ease of following. In reality 100 Earth years = around10 of their planetary years.)

    Context: So at some point between 800 and 900 Earth centuries ago, the South-West Continent was racked by a storm of events where political unrest, economic chaos, natural disasters and then to top it all of a sudden significant decrease in the amount of spiritual energy-slash-magic in the world which resulted in a cataclysm that rocked/destroyed/radically reshaped society on the continent. (The North-East Continent also suffered from the decrease in magic and from some of those natural disasters, but the effects were stronger on the South-West Continent.)

    In the new civilization that arose from the rubble, slavery was abolished, warfare was restricted, ritualized and for the most part disappeared entirely between the urban winter citystates. Armed hostilities in the rural summer areas sometimes still break out but also to a much more limited extent than before, for the most part. The thought-system called iwase-ta-hene which was founded over 100 years before the above cataclysm now spread out and eventually became the dominant philosophy. It’s a way of ordering the earth and heavens, proscribing predetermined slots for each ethnicity but also underlining the great importance of cohabitation and cooperation between the peoples.

    While the South-West Continent as a whole is probably less democratic than the North-East Continent as a whole, the most autocratic forms of rulership were greatly discredited and pretty much disappeared, at least in name. And there was an even stronger reaction towards establishment priests in luxurious temples and palace courts, who were already widely impopular for various reasons and were now blamed more than any other group for the great disasters. Today those don’t really exist anymore, though you might argue that the elite known as “High Learned Ones” have taken over their position. The wandering nomadic priests who live outside the cities, come there for a while and then leave again, already existed before the great cataclysm but now became the only accepted kind of professional priesthood.

    Okay so that’s just the prologue of what I wanted to talk about now!

    The phenomenon(s): Around 500-400 centuries before the Great Cataclysm, a cultural, religious, spiritual and in some ways political movement swept through the South-West Continent. This movement had many names at the time, but the one that came to stick was reshe [‘rɛ:ʃɛ], a word from the old Manath language, no longer a living language (though it does have at least one living descendant, Esserech – perhaps more). This was originally an agricultural term meaning something like “the shape of new soil after the first raining period in the spring”. In the new context, it can be translated as ‘renaissance’, ‘(re-)awakening’, ‘rejuvenation’, ‘return to the fertile ground’, etc. There was an element of rediscovery of ancient wisdom, knowledge, and practices in it, both religious/magical and secular. But there were also a lot of genuinely new inventions and improvements – though its followers would claim that even when they did come up with something new, they did so using the ways of thinking and teaching of ancient sages.

    However, it’s hard to pin down exactly what the principles of the movement were, even in its initial form, because it soon started to mean different things in different regions and contexts. For instance: for some to practice reshe in religious worship meant to discard useless parts of ceremonies that didn’t seem to do either gods or people any good, to listen inward to what felt right and what felt wrong – but for others, it meant to rediscover old ceremonies that had lay discarded and to follow those to the letter, even when it was hard to find the reasons for it.

    In time the original movement would produce many different factions, philosophies and sub-movements, sometimes following right upon each other, sometimes after over a generation of quiet or even backlashes. Most of these different new approaches would be called “[something”]-reshe with the first part of the new compound also being a word in Manath. For instance, the direction called hogonereshe (hogon=”custom”, roughly) was a sociopolitical egalitarian school of thought that inspired the first steps taken towards the abolishing of slavery, while itikareshe focused on new (or rediscovered) ways of developing music, poetry and plays. Umareshe was the byword for priests who wanted to reform the established religious institutions from the inside, and this school of thought became very influential for several Earth centuries. Hatareshe on the other hand was followed by priests who followed ascetic and/or nomadic traditions, whether retreating to become hermits or just settling down in small villages with a pension from the city: those who became the ancestors of the current post-Cataclysm priests.

    Vocabulary consequences in Nahul:
    Now, you might expect reshe to become a loanword in Nahul and end up meaning something like ‘renaissance, revitalization’, but for whatever reason this doesn’t quite seem to have happened, perhaps because the historical phenomenon started so very long ago. The word rezen (stress on final syllable as usual) in modern Nahul is a relatively late scholarly loanword which is reserved for discussing these very historical movements; it’s not a word that’s really a part of everyday parlance for most people.

    But the word did become the source of two other, quite different words still in use today.

    First: reshe seems to have come into Old Nahul as oreche [ɔ’rɛ:ʃɛ] via Old Nayan, Nayan being the language of the Nayantari people. That’s how it acquired a new initial syllable o-, which might be a gender marker in Nayan, or perhaps a definite marker or a way of marking loanwords. In any case the word seems to already have shifted meaning by this point and come to mean something like ‘school of thought’, ‘philosophy’, ‘way of thinking’ – a reflection of the proliferation of all those sub-reshes, one could say. The connotation was neutral back then.

    Phonetically this changed to orché [ɔr’ʃe:] in Middle Nahul and then, in Modern Nahul, to oché [ɔ’ʃe:]. Semantically the meaning changed again. Now it came to mean ‘faction’; ‘side of an argument’, ‘party’ (more or less, though of course Nahilekh and other citystates do not have formal political parties in the sense of our world). Initially this was also a neutral descriptor but soon came to take on a derogative connotation, which it has retained to the present day.

    Second: Using another route which I haven’t determined yet, another word originally stemming from reshe also reached Old Nahul in the shape of rezhe [‘rɛʒɛ], which became redjé [rɛ’d͡ʒe:] in Middle Nahul. The meaning was something like ‘advanced method of priestly practice’, very roughly.

    Then the shape changed to reyé [rɛ’je:] , and now finally rei, although rei on its own is now rare. But as part of the derivation reinekh, it’s still in usage. The meaning shifted once more but is rather nebulous to pin down. It’s not really in use among priests talking to themselves, it seems, but rather among educated non-priests who try to define and pin down what they see the priests doing.

    Roughly, the Learned Ones of the current South-West Continent and other non-priests of the educated classes tend to define priestly practices in (what else?) three categories. One is “simple and ancient”: old hallowed rituals and ceremonies to honour, beseech, and assuaging the gods. These are to be respected and venerated. They are similar to the kind of ceremonies that any citizen can perform, just with a bit of more oomph to them, and with some hidden (but fine! wise! ancient!) lore behind them that it’s okay to just take as a given.
    The second category is “untested and reckless”: when priests venture outside these good old ways to Dabble With The Unknown, at least when viewed from the outside. This is seen as wild territory, reckless and suspicious, things that might work and succeed but might also upset the precarious balance between the Three Realms and put everyone in danger, in thoughtless, impulsive ways. These are to be disapproved of and warned away from.

    The third category, then, is what’s called reinekh in Modern Nahul, while other languages have equivalent terms. This concerns priestly practices which are not simple, not reliably ancient, but aren’t wild and thoughtless either. It’s complex stuff with theories behind it, practiced in a methodical way. It might still be more ambitious stuff than Learned Ones and other non-priests of the educated classes are entirely comfortable with, you can still hear them opine that “these things either don’t need to be done at all or should be left to High Learned Ones, who are more cautious!” But priestly practices that come under this label are not disdained as readily as those that come under the second category. They are often respected, albeit warily.

    There’s a longstanding debate on whether reinekh is compatible with iwase-ta-hene or not. There are those that claim that practices that come under this label are NOT compatible with iwase-ta-hene, which means they can be seen as “thought-out but unsound” and should be disapproved of. Others think that “no, it’s reserved for priests alone, but it’s compatible with iwase-ta-hene all the same, which means it’s fine and dandy as long as the priests are careful”. Finally some feel that even if it’s not strictly and explicitly following iwase-ta-hene, reinekh can still be accepted as a mostly-good thing.

    (I imagine that all this debate is cordially ignored by the actual nomadic priests themselves, who see no need for this label in the first place.)

    There, that concludes my thoughts for today! Sorry about this long post…

    1. Okay, so I love getting the context of all these words and how they drifted, in which directions for whom, and why. I feel like language is very informed by culture, and that’s certainly the case here. I also love the words, their meanings, the reborrowings, the controversies of meaning, the fact that the most relevant people don’t use that one term and don’t need one. It feels delightfully real and lived in! Bravo!

      1. Thank you very much for those warm words? ^_^ Always gratifying.

        By the way, since the new year started I no longer get notifications for comments posted here, even when they’re replies to me. I tried to tick the box to get notifications again, but maybe it was the wrong box, or maybe something else is going on.

        1. I haven’t been getting emails either. I’ve had to check the RSS feed or the website directly for a while now which makes it really easy to miss comments.

          Also, I really like this worldbuilding.


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