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Ancient Languages


M Helsdon

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One thing very apparent in Glorantha, is that despite the numerous variations in languages, there are often prefixes and suffixes that seem very old, and very common.

The most obvious are -ela, meaning 'land of', -os, meaning 'island/coast', -egi, meaning 'people/people of'.

There are a few others.

Several ancient names, Entruli, Enerali, Enjoreli, include what looks to be an en- prefix, but I cannot fathom any meaning. 

Are there more?

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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

One thing very apparent in Glorantha, is that despite the numerous variations in languages, there are often prefixes and suffixes that seem very old, and very common.

The most obvious are -ela, meaning 'land of', -os, meaning 'island/coast', -egi, meaning 'people/people of'.

 I disagree about your "egi", as IMO it is just simply the suffix "-i" (indicating "people of ...") applied to another suffix "-eg" applied to the stem of a land goddess name. The only case I can call up right now is "Seshnegi". Is there another place name ending on "-eg"? In the case of the Waertagi, you get a similar construct of the male name Waertag, in itself a modulation of Wartain or Waertain, father/ancester of Warera (Waerera?). Jeff's editing in the Glorantha Sourcebook on this text seems to have replaced Wartain with Waertag, making him his own great-grandfather.

These suffixes are very old - in that they appear in the documents that make up the "Roots of Glorantha" series. I have (legal, and at the time very expensive) access to a small part of that in the shape of a convention fund raiser. These names appear in the old Malkioni stories that mark Greg's first explorations of Glorantha.

Frona gets a similarly unique treatment in "Frontem".

 

 

 

1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

There are a few others.

Several ancient names, Entruli, Enerali, Enjoreli, include what looks to be an en- prefix, but I cannot fathom any meaning. 

These appear to be similar, but I think they were arrived at by quite different logics. All are based on male names of the tribal founders - Entru, Eneral, Enjor. The latter two cases actually have a land goddess in the last syllable, Ralia and Jorri (goddess of the province in Loskalm). In that case, En or Ene might actually be "son of". Or servant of. Think Hera-kles, in reversed order.

Where does the "l" come from in the tribal names?

Enjoreli appears to be derived from Enjorela, the land of Enjor. Which is a rare case of "ela" derived from a male entity, the only other cases I have are the three continents Genertela, Pamaltela and Vithela. We don't speak of Orlanthela or Rindela but instead of Orlanthland and Rindland.

In Eneral the "l" comes as part of the stem of Ralia.

Entru is the male form of Entra, with "entr" meaning pig. The "l" in Entruli probably is just a soft supporting consonant to append the -i ending to the founder's name. Same as in Pendali, derived from Pendal, the son of Basmol(a) and Ifftala. (Ifftala? I never quite get that duplication in the first consonant group right. And Greg may not have used that consistently.)

One might go wild and postulate some P-en-ttala to arrive at Pendal. That leaves the mysterious initial P to discuss. Perhaps a nod to Basmol? But then why go to the hard consonant for the start of the name, and to the soft consonant to start the last syllable?

 

 

1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

Are there more?

-em appears to be a geographic suffix, at least in Fronela: Akem, Frontem. Perhaps Basim is related, perhaps it is just an inserted weak vowel in Basm(ol).

 

Basmol, Basmal, Basmalt - the latter is strikingly similar to Pamalt. -ol or -al is not unique in Seshnelan male names. Damol for instance. Eurmal. (Does Laurmal have anything to do with our celebrated thief of fire and friend of men?) And Hrestol.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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25 minutes ago, Joerg said:

 I disagree about your "egi", as IMO it is just simply the suffix "-i" (indicating "people of ...") applied to another suffix "-eg" applied to the stem of a land goddess name.

There are also the egi who contribute to the persona of the Red Emperor.

2 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

-i 
Either denoting a plural demonym, a derivate from a name, an adjective and more ("Orlanthi" being all of these) 

-ia
Also seems to be a toponym. Granted, this exists IRL as well, but I'm going to guess it's an in-universe derivative, and not just RW Greek/Latin. 

I'm afraid that I suspect that -i, -ia and also -ling are terrestrial translations of a Gloranthan term.

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31 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Enjoreli appears to be derived from Enjorela, the land of Enjor. Which is a rare case of "ela" derived from a male entity, the only other cases I have are the three continents Genertela, Pamaltela and Vithela. We don't speak of Orlanthela or Rindela but instead of Orlanthland and Rindland.

I like the pagan direction kings receiving the male -ela, in which case there's a lot more to Enjor than meets the eye. Maybe this is a vestige of the world the Pendalites [retaining my eccentric demonyms here for emphasis] knew before the colonists came and insisted that the land was female.

Either way, Jonatela preserves it in the north/west.

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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

I'm afraid that I suspect that -i, -ia and also -ling are terrestrial translations of a Gloranthan term.

-ling definitely is. -ia I'm on the fence about, but -i seems so ubiquotous* that it would be weird to see it replaced. 

 


(*I remember finding it annoying how much it was used back when I got into Glorantha)

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6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

There are also the egi who contribute to the persona of the Red Emperor.

That’s just the plural form of the Latin first person singular.

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4 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

-ling definitely is. -ia I'm on the fence about, but -i seems so ubiquotous* that it would be weird to see it replaced. 


(*I remember finding it annoying how much it was used back when I got into Glorantha)

More than twenty years ago I had some fun deliberately using “Esrolite” for Esrolian, and experimented with using -im for their plurals (so you’d have Esrolite Humaktim and Orlanthim, among others). It was a neat thought experiment, and brought some different associations into play, but I’m not sure I learned that much from it. Just sharing because this seems as good a place as any.

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I played around with N-T-R / N-R-T appearing in both Genert and Entru when I was writing some very ancient Esrolite myths (using the Four Earths rather than the Six). But I’d been reading a lot of Velikovsky at the time (for amusement!), and that kind of wordplay comes naturally after a while.

 

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6 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

More than twenty years ago I had some fun deliberately using “Esrolite” for Esrolian, and experimented with using -im for their plurals (so you’d have Esrolite Humaktim and Orlanthim, among others). It was a neat thought experiment, and brought some different associations into play, but I’m not sure I learned that much from it. Just sharing because this seems as good a place as any.

I absolutely get that. Subtle ways to plant ideas in the heads of your readers.

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This isn't a big issue, but one that I've had fun puzzling with is that the suffix "-plose" appears, as far as I can tell, exactly twice: Erenplose and Kaxtorplose.  Additionally, "Erenplose" is not the original name of the city, which is either Herilia or Porluftha.

 

My current best guess is that -"plose" indicates a protected place in 2nd Age Slontan (which is probably a pretty dead language at this point... except maybe Ramalia).  Erenplose is therefore "the city saved/protected by Eren," and Kaxtorplose is "the city saved/protected by Kaxtor."

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14 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

More than twenty years ago I had some fun deliberately using “Esrolite” for Esrolian, and experimented with using -im for their plurals (so you’d have Esrolite Humaktim and Orlanthim, among others). It was a neat thought experiment, and brought some different associations into play, but I’m not sure I learned that much from it. Just sharing because this seems as good a place as any.

Well, Esrolia is almost an anagram of Israel, just an extra 'o'.

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"Tar-" as a prefix seems to indicate some kind of transcendent entity- "Tarumath" (Tar-umath) in First Age Dorastor/Talastar, "Taraltara" in Third Age Peloria, "TarnGatHa" (Tar[n]-Gat[h]a?) in at least Second and Third Age Kralorela. Presumably, no relation to the "Tar" sound in Tarsh, Tarkalor, Taraling, Tarinwood. 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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11 minutes ago, Eff said:

"Tar-" as a prefix seems to indicate some kind of transcendent entity- "Tarumath" (Tar-umath) in First Age Dorastor/Talastar, "Taraltara" in Third Age Peloria, "TarnGatHa" (Tar[n]-Gat[h]a?) in at least Second and Third Age Kralorela. Presumably, no relation to the "Tar" sound in Tarsh, Tarkalor, Taraling, Tarinwood. 

We had a discussion of that element in a thread a while ago, and I think an interpretation I quite liked was that "Tar" means "High" or "Elevated". So "Tarumath" could be "High Umath" in an abstract, spiritual sense, and "Tarsh" is perhaps something like "Highland" in a more literal, prosaic sense.

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14 minutes ago, Eff said:

Presumably, no relation to the "Tar" sound in Tarsh, Tarkalor, Taraling, Tarinwood. 

 

Hmm... not completely sure about Tarinwood, as IIRC, its named after a deity.  Tar-In could fit that scheme, though it is pretty far from Dorastor

 

Edited by Nevermet
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On 8/18/2020 at 8:37 PM, Eff said:

"Tar-" as a prefix seems to indicate some kind of transcendent entity- "Tarumath" (Tar-umath) in First Age Dorastor/Talastar, "Taraltara" in Third Age Peloria, "TarnGatHa" (Tar[n]-Gat[h]a?) in at least Second and Third Age Kralorela. Presumably, no relation to the "Tar" sound in Tarsh, Tarkalor, Taraling, Tarinwood. 

Tar seems to mean high, so Tarumath is 'High Storm'; Tarsh probably means the 'Heights'. Tars elsewhere, such as Seshnela seem to come from another language family, probably Pralori.

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Tar could also be an intertextual loaning from Tolkien's Quenya, where it means 'high/royal/king'. Think of all the 'Tar-' kings of Nûmenor.

However, as long as we don't have a linguistic history and a theory of sound shift of any Gloranthan language, speculating about certain 'historic' name forms is bound to lead to grave errors. There are many ways to end up with identical sounds, and many ways to see prefixes and suffixes where they might not actually have been such - but even the people using them might assume they are such. I read somewhere that any language's vocabulary seems to correspond to any other language's vocabulary about 5-10 %. So even English and Chinese can have similarly sounding words with more or less similar meanings. Yet they are not related in any meaningful way and do not adhere to the same prefix and suffix systems.

I'm not a linguist. And I assume none coming up with the Gloranthan names really was. I'm afraid it's a hodgepodge. But we can retcon...

Are there any instances of actual text samples of a Gloranthan language, not just name lists? So we could actually see the language being spoken? Did the Trollpak have some Lankor Mhy excerpts trying to depict what an Uz or Enlo said?

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35 minutes ago, Garrik said:

I'm not a linguist. And I assume none coming up with the Gloranthan names really was. I'm afraid it's a hodgepodge. But we can retcon...

Greg Stafford was painfully aware -- being an admirer of both JRR Tolkien's and MAR Barker's world-building -- that he was not a linguist.

The made-up gobbledigook names for different types of Aldryami that I charitably assume nobody has ever used since are one of the more embarrassing elements of Elder Secrets

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With regards to "Tar", the same sources that use it in Pelorian have it translate there as face, with Taraltara meaning "Faceless face" (Possibly some similarity to Zen Buddhism's original face.)

 

44 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

The made-up gobbledigook names for different types of Aldryami that I charitably assume nobody has ever used since are one of the more embarrassing elements of Elder Secrets

What, like Penacyr? Or that whole listing of names found in the guide as well?

Or like Mreli, Murthoi, and the like?

 

1 hour ago, Garrik said:

Are there any instances of actual text samples of a Gloranthan language, not just name lists? So we could actually see the language being spoken? Did the Trollpak have some Lankor Mhy excerpts trying to depict what an Uz or Enlo said?

The nearest I can think of is the full Dara Happan title that gets translated as Emperor: "Ern Azali baka est ja" which means "namer of life and death."

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1 hour ago, Garrik said:

There are many ways to end up with identical sounds, and many ways to see prefixes and suffixes where they might not actually have been such - but even the people using them might assume they are such. I read somewhere that any language's vocabulary seems to correspond to any other language's vocabulary about 5-10 %.

I once got into an argument with someone who claimed that he was descended from Vikings visiting Spain because his last name, Torres, was derived from "Thor-Res". I tried pointing out that it's just a regular word meaning "Tower". 

 

Folk etymologies are powerful things. It's how Snorre Sturlason connects the Aesir to Asia and the Sea of Azov, iirc.

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