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Re: OT: Corpses, etc. (was: Re: Gender in conlangs (was: Re: Umlauts (was Re: Elves and Ill Bethisad)))

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Sunday, November 16, 2003, 22:11
Good grief, Padraic, I though that this thread had finally died out, and
here we go posting on it again!

> > Upon meeting Jevet/Khedyosu's family, one of > > his (Trehelish) friends asked > > him what it was like to have children who > > didn't look like him. (Yes, I > > know that the question was tactless, but the > > Trehelish and Cwendaso each > > have their own ways of being tactless, with > > Trehels generally being the > > more tactless of the two by far.) > >This sort of question wouldn't bother a Daine at >all. They're naturally curious when presented >with children who don't look like one of the >parents. > >Of course, the usual answer is "Spring Dance >Child"; which means that the woman in question >took part in one of the quarter feasts with some >man and resulted in a pregnancy.
With that being the usual answer, I'm surprised that the question is not considered rude. Of course, the issue with Jevet/Khedyosu's children was that his Trehelo friend couldn't see that they looked anything other than Cwendaso because of their skin color. (And I'm intentionally using the non-native term here becase it's coming from a Trehelish perspective.) One very noticable cultural difference between Tovláugad and Trehelo is the level of curiosity. Trehelo are naturally curious and will generally ask about things that make them curious. It would be considered out of line to begin a conversation with a perfect stranger with a question too obviously personal - at least in polite company; not everyone is polite company. If someone is curious about something, they will break the ice with a couple of lesser questions and work their way up to what it was that they were wondering about. Trehelo can be quite direct in their questions. Tovláugad don't ask a lot of questions. They are taught from an early age to curb their curiosity; if someone wants to talk about something, they will, if not, then you don't ask - unless you genuinely need to know, which is rare. Those rules are relaxed somewhat among very close friends and family, but the rules are never suspended. If someone close to you wants to know something personal, they will very gently hint at it - and if you indicate that you are not willing to talk about it, the topic will not be pursued. In fact, my main character is a Trehel who came to the Tovláugad under very strange circumstances and who had a lot of very strange scarring on his body. Any Trehel would have asked him about it, but the Tovláugad didn't. Ok, at first they couldn't ask, because he didn't speak the language, but once he did learn to speak, still no one asked. In some ways it kind of spooked him, because it was so strange, but he was also grateful for it, because he wanted to forget about his past.
> > > > And how do Men take that? > > > > > >They take it very happily, thank you! ;) > > > > I suspected that, as well. > >As long as it wasn't a surprise! I suspect their >attitudes roughly parallel those of human >communities where people don't wear much >clothing. When you see something all the time, it >doesn't have the same tantalising effect on you - >you are used to it from frequent exposure.
Just like we don't think anything of the lingere ads in the K-Mart circulars. Such things would have been considered indecent a generation or two ago. In general, none of my concultures go shirtless. Trehelo men will take their shirts off while working in hot weather, but only if they are certain that there will be no women walking in on them. If there are women around, they remain fully dressed. I don't really know enough about the Nidirino to know whether they feel the same way. I suppose it is possible that they are no more shy that way than we are. They've had a lot of Trehelo culture imposed on them, but they remain a culturally distinct group with different sensibilities than the Trehelo. I'm not quite certain about the Tovláugad. They would be the most likely, culturally, to go shirtless, perhaps the women, as well, *but* they live in a cooler climate than the other cultures (farther north and in the mountains) and have a real need for wool clothing. I'm not certain how warm it actually gets in those mountains of theirs even in the middle of a summer day. If it gets warm enough, it is quite possible that men, and perhaps women will strip to the waist, but that is a cultural characteristic that I have not quite settled on yet. Such a thing would certainly create problems for a Trehel adjusting to the culture. Even if only men are willing to strip to the waist in warm weather, I am certain that they would not be shy about the presence of women, and that in itself would be an adjustment for a Trehel.
> > That particular braid that I described has > > never been worn by a living > > person - with two exceptions, both of them > > special cases. > >Daine braid their hair, and sometimes in >complicated ways; but the braids don't convey >especial meaning in their patterns this way. >That's pretty neat!
Most of the braids have no particular significance but are merely a way of decorating oneself and showing off the skill of the braider and the hair of the person wearing the braid. (There's a certain amount of competition involved in this.) Women will sometimes wear "ear loops," where the hair in front of the ear is braided into a free braid that doesn't lie against the scalp, but hangs loose, curving beneath the ear, until it is caught up again and integrated into the braid behind the ear. There is some way of telling, just by looking at the braid, if it is male or female, and that is probably whether the new hair is joined into the braid by bringing it over the top of the hair already in the braid (resulting in a flatter braid) or whether the new hair is brought in underneath the hair already in the braid (resulting in a braid that stands out in relief.) That would preserve a gender distinction in some of the braids (such as the funeral braids) where the pattern is identical whether the wearer is male or female. I described to you the dead person's braid, and I think that I decribed the braid worn by a widowed spouse. Other braids that have meaning are the braids worn by close family members of the deceased: parents, siblings, and children. The bride and groom at a wedding wear identical braids (which I haven't invented yet). Their parents wear a traditional braid, and the couple that "sponsors" the couple being married (see Weddings at the bottom of the Cwendaso religion page) has a special braid. Someone who is undergoing purification because he/she has killed someone is restricted to no more than five braids, which must run in staight lines from the front to the back of the head (no zig-zagging.) Basically, if you're being purified, your hair is not allowed to be decorative. No one would wear their hair in that few braids unless they had to, so the braid is immediately recognizable. Executioners also have to be purified, because they have killed someone, so they are restricted to no more than five braids. The person being executed would be under a similar restriction, and usually their hair is done in only one braid so that it can easily be unbraided and redone in a funeral braid. Execution is done by slitting the wrists, and it is not done often. They have a very low murder rate to begin with, and execution is used only as a last resort following a second offense. Those are the only braids that I can think of that have significance; everything else is decorative. Of course, it takes several hours to get the hair braided that elaborately. Fortunately, the braiding lasts and can be worn for several weeks before having to be rebraided. Everyone owns at least one set of combs made out of wood, bone, or horn. The nicer sets have decorative carvings on them. A typical comb set consists of seven combs and two parting sticks. One of the combs is a large one used for combing tangles out of the hair. The other six combs are smaller and are used to keep unused hair out of the way while braiding. The parting sticks are used, obviously, to part the hair prior to its being braided. A set of combs is generally stored together in a cloth or leather bag. Isidora