Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
RHW

Can We Infer Theyalan Root Words from Gods' Names?

Recommended Posts

Been thinking a little about what root words we might be able to infer from proper names in Glorantha, especially Theyalan ones (since I think the Theyalan names are the ones that mostly appear in canon). So for example, Eurmal and Urox start with the same sound, Elmal and Eurmal have same ending, Humakt and Helemakt are know, Hu likely means "Sword" so...

Eurmal = Wild Man = Ur (Wild, in the sense of dangerous and unpredictable) + Mal (man)

Elmal = Sun Man = El/Yelm (Sun) + Mal (man)

Humakt = Sword Warrior = Hu (Sword) + Makt (warrior)

Helemakt = Cloud Warrior or Rain Warrior = Hele (Cloud or maybe Rain) + Makt (Warrior)

Artmal = Blue Man? = Art (Blue? Something else? Annilla is the Blue Moon, so maybe not) + Mal (man)

Yelmalio = Little Sun Man = El/Yelm (sun) + Mal (man) + io (diminutive suffix) 

Urox = Wild Bull = Ur (Wild) + Ox (Bull) (Or maybe Ur means cow/bull and Ur and Eur are different worlds. See Uralda)

Ernalda = Earth Mother = Ern (Earth) + Alda (Mother)

Uralda = Wild Mother or maybe Cow Mother = Ur (cow or possible wild animal) + Alda (mother)

Dormal = Ship Man = Dor (ship) + Mal (man)

 

Other possible root words (wild conjecture):

Tar = Land (found in Sartar and Barntar)

Arr = To heal (found in Chalana Arroy, Arroin, Arran, possibly also Argan Argar, given his harmony rune. Arkat and Argrath both mean Liberator, but that might be broken down into Freedom Healer or some such roots)

Esra = Barley (as in Esrola)

Gor = Blood? or "The Bloody?" Destructive Earth? Underworld? (found in Babeestor Gor, Gorgorma, Maran Gor, etc etc. Maybe also Gorakiki)

Ara = Spider (Aranea and Arachne Solera)

Ki or Ky = Darkness (Kitori, Kyger Litor, Gorakiki)

 

Anyone else got pet theories of this nature?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well we know that "-a" is the feminine suffix in Theyalan. If "alda" means "mother" than "ald" could be either "father" or just plain "parent'. Hm. If we assume "Ur" is "bull" then "Ura" could be "cow" (feminine bull), so by that logic Uralda should technically be Uraalda (Ura-Alda?).

The idea of "-io" beings diminutive seems like a bit of a slur against the Yelmalians, implying their god is lesser than Elmal (sun-man versus sun-man-diminished).

I know next to nothing about languages and linguistics but these types of discussions are fascinating.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

The idea of "-io" beings diminutive seems like a bit of a slur against the Yelmalians, implying their god is lesser than Elmal (sun-man versus sun-man-diminished).

Pretty sure some of Greg's writings call Yelmalio "The Little Sun."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few more:

Lesilla and Anilla are both blue moon goddesses, so does -illa mean Blue? Or Moon? I'm betting "Moon" since it's possible the -enya in Sedenya is a related root, especially if -illa is pronounced -eeya. (Which, as a Californian, Greg may have done.)

We know Gbaji is a title: "Liar" or "Deciever." So would "Eurmal the Liar" in Theyalan be "Eurmal Gbaji?" Some believe Gbaji was an incarnation of Eurmal.

We know likewise that Shepelkirt mean "Poison Blood"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Tindalos said:

I've done some of my earlier thoughts on the subject here.

They may be of interest/use.

I see I'm late to the party. Great thread.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The identification of -alda with "Mother" makes a great deal of sense, some sort of equivalent of the Pelorian -eria.
 

2 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Should we continue this thread or read the other?

I'd say here, the other's over a year old, and may as well be left that way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tindalos said:

The identification of -alda with "Mother" makes a great deal of sense, some sort of equivalent of the Pelorian -eria.

Makes me wonder if Aldraya is a Theyalan names meaning “Mother Nature” or something like it. “Mother Tree?”

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tindalos said:

I'd say here, the other's over a year old, and may as well be left that way!

You did amazing work.

Some of my favorites:

Dova = temple, Dovar = faithful. As you point out, same word basically

Tar = High, Dar = King. Same word again I bet, or related. So Sartar is ? + King? Barntar = Plow King? I wonder about Yanafal Tarnils. I know it’s a stretch, but Yanafal King of Nothing?

Shilkot = Axe Master and Orshil = First Axe,

ergo Shil = Axe, Kot = Master (Hence Vingkot), Or = First

You have -anth as “son.” Is Orlanth = “First Son?”

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, RHW said:

Redalda = Horse Mother = Red (Horse) + Alda (Mother)

Except that this is a misnomer, since Redalda is not the goddess birthing horses (as for instance Uralda does for cattle), although she is the goddess of horse breeding.

There is also Enferalda, the "backboy" or supporter aspect for Ernalda, which doesn't have any mother aspects.

Rather than mother, how about having "alda" stand for mid-wife (or nurse)? "Wise woman"?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a language professional, but whenever this topic has come up for Glorantha, there are a few caveats that always spring to mind for me

 

On a worldbuilding meta-level, we have some things to keep in mind.

- Glorantha was not designed bottom-up to be linguistically coherent. This isn't a slight against it, of course, as very very few settings actually are (Middle-Earth and Tekumel come to mind, both made by literal language/philology professors), and also the central themes/focus of Glorantha are found elsewhere.

- As a consequence of this, there is no true, consistent split between English stand-in words or morphemes and Theyalan as a constructed language. Ewample-wise, we have the "-ing" ending, which is a Germanic RW morpheme, but which is integrated into a number of otherwise Theyalan words. In terms borrowed from literature or drama, we have to question whether "ing" in this case is diegetic (it exists within the fictional world), or non-diegetic (it exists as a tool by the storyteller to make the fictional world seem more understandable to us).

- Additionally, given the non-systematic origin of language in Glorantha, no matter what meaning we assign to Theyalan morphemes, we are almost inevitably bound to run into contradictions, or in other terms, paint us into a classificatory corner. Thankfully however, etymological changes and language borrowing is so varied and diverse that we can account for this to an extent (more on that later). In short - there are going to be exceptions to whatever rules we find, and while this might be annoying at first, it is probably for the best.

 

On a diegetic (in-universe) level, we also have a number of issues. These are things that, frankly, we'll just have to live with, I think. They're good to keep in mind, but I'll admit that if they start hindering fun through indecision for example, you just got to toss them aside for a while.

- Linguistic drift and evolution: languages change, and they don't change evenly. Even if we assume that the languages in the God Age were fixed and constant (they probably weren't), by the time of the "now" of Glorantha, Theyalan has undergone 1600 years of change, drift, interaction and all sorts of processes. I would argue that the Theyalan languages (since it is a family now) is possibly akin to something like the Romance languages. The literary tradition, distances, time scale and general interconnectedness is vaguely comparable, imho.

- Fossilization: Some of the names of deities, places and people in Theyalan will probably give us an incorrect impression of the current state of the language, since they are likely to have "frozen" in place when they began being widely circulated in written or poetic form. It's certainly possible that the "Alda" in Ernalda means "woman" or "mother", but it's equally possible that it's hopelessly outdated and not recognizeable as such to a modern Sartarite. Possibly. The word "Frank" means free, but few of us are going to go around using the term like that. It's effectively fossilized, usually found only in proper names and stock phrases, such as "to be frank" (which also has drifted to mean something like "to be honest"). An example of this is Arkat vs. Argrath. They both supposedly mean literally the same, but Arkat seems to have frozen in its original form, whereas "Argrath" appears to have become more like a common noun, undergone evolution, and then become reapplied as a proper name/title. Unless of course Sartarites also call the original Arkat Argrath, which is possible, but is an issue for another time.

- Homonyms &Homophones, and Synonyms: This is raised in the comment above with the "Eur" and "Ur" elements, but it's worth noting: just because elements look alike, or sound alike (even identical), that doesn't mean they mean the same, or are even related. A common thing in linguistics is for originally different-sounding words to drift closer until they at some point become homonyms/-phones. I've for example heard someone claim that Jesus was based on Egyptian solar deities because "son" and "sun" sound identical. In this case the spelling gives the different origins and meanings away, but that won't always be the case (f.ex. tree bark vs. dog bark). While the Jesus example is really stupid, it IS the kind of "mistake" we are fairly likely to do. On the flip side we have synonyms: just because one morpheme carries a meaning, doesn't mean another morpheme can't also have it. "Tar" might mean "high", but some other word might also mean the same. Perhaps with some very subtle difference, but close enough that they are interchangeable in some cases. This is one of our "outs" when trying to make sense of name-meanings, for example.

- Loanwords & False friends, etc.: Not gonna spend a whole lot on this, but just to be clear: a good deal of modern Theyalan words are going to be loanwords, and as such, trying to pick them apart into morphemes (or roots, as the thread terms them) will yield unapplicable results. "Constitution" is the English word for a nation's fundamental legislative piece, however, the morpheme "cons" is not the English word for "fundamental", or what have you. That way lies madness. This also brings us to false friends: I don't know if Artmal is really a Thayalan word or not, but if it's a loanword, the "mal" does most likely not have the same meaning as in "Elmal". (Actually, since Six Ages shows Elmal coming from the Hyalorings, this means Elmal is also a loanword, which opens up an entirely new can of worms - one possibly showing that even Pelorian and Theyalan have common origins which muddies the water even more - for example in the cases of Ernalda vs. Nyalda, etc. Back-and-forth borrowing is a possibility, but we have no clue how to know).

- There is a ton more, like tone and stress, poetic kennings vs. literal meaning, regional dialects existing on a continuum,  and all that stuff, but that's going even further into worrying about things we don't really have no way of accounting for, so I'll stop here.
 

2 hours ago, Brootse said:

Voria = Vor + ia = spring + girl?

(Vår being spring in Swedish.)

And Malia used to be a fertility goddess earlier.

Voriof/Voria =?= Young male/Young female. Allusions to spring and sexual immaturity/virginity, imho. "Vor" might mean something like "Youth" or "Immature/Virginal being".

 

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/11/2019 at 9:00 AM, Sir_Godspeed said:

Glorantha was not designed bottom-up to be linguistically coherent

I think even when Greg was trying to be, the results didn’t look quite right.

-a is not consistently a feminine suffix, for example: Orstohra was a Heortling king.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, alakoring said:

-a is not consistently a feminine suffix, for example: Orstohra was a Heortling king.

True, in proper Pseudo-Anglo-Saxon fashion. There's probably more going on there, though it was the most apparent I could think of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also Berra Thengan in Dorastor Land of Doom's Riskland campaign. Berra being listed at other times as a female name (such as most recently RQ:G 103)

On the other hand, it's possible here that rather than the terminal "a" being a suffix of its own, it could be the nucleus of a syllable. "Ors-toh-ra" and "Ber-ra." If there's a particular need to make it more logical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn’t want to use the Riskland character because I don’t think that one was Greg’s, but yes it muddles things even more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/14/2019 at 3:15 AM, Tindalos said:

There's also Berra Thengan in Dorastor Land of Doom's Riskland campaign. Berra being listed at other times as a female name (such as most recently RQ:G 103)

There is no reason why it can't be both a male and female name. Look at names such as Jordan in the real world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, soltakss said:

There is no reason why it can't be both a male and female name. Look at names such as Jordan in the real world.

True enough, and there are several examples given for Orlanthi in older sources. Dushi, Elnor, Entarios, Leikan, Levru in Thunder Rebels for example.

Or how Umathkar's listed as a male name, and as a prominent queen of the Colymar.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are ways to accommodate a terminal -a both meaning femininty, as well as not, with reference to my points above.

We might for example postulate a previous stage in Theyalan where there was a distinction between (stressed) terminal á, and (unstressed) terminal a. After several centuries, linguistic evolution caused them to merge, making them sound identical to modern-day speakers (at least those around Dragon Pass).

This is purely a loose idea - but it's an example of how we can get ourselves out of seeming inconsistencies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, RHW said:

Urox = Wild Bull = Ur (Wild) + Ox (Bull) (Or maybe Ur means cow/bull and Ur and Eur are different worlds. See Uralda)

In the real world, "Ur" (Old Norse Ürr) was the name of the aurochs. The word "aurochs" is a tautology really, as the second part is the same as "Ox". 

It seems reasonable to think that "Ur-" is about cattle.

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...