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Personal Conjugation based on Closeness

From:Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 26, 2003, 21:28
(Warning:  This e-mail might look a bit mis-aligned if you can't handle 80
characters.  Monospaced font would be nice, too.)

When I started working on Asha'ille, I didn't really _think_ about how they
(being a telepathic species) would express person.  I just blindly copied
the IE model of 1st 2nd 3rd male female plural.  I've since discovered the
"proper" way of doing things.  :)

(Reminder:  The Cresaeans are the native species that first spoke Asha'ille.)

As a side effect of being telepathic, Cresaeans "bond," with varying
strength, to the people around them.  Cresaeans see their bondings as a
sort of network, centered at the self.  The 3 people closest to you, that
you spend the most time with and care the most about, form the first ring
around you.  (Think Bohr's model of an atom, with the nucleus being
yourself and your groups of friends the electron levels.)  If Cresaeans
followed typical Western social patterns (which they probably don't), a
child's aejhel would consist of parents and a sibling or a very close
playmate -- I suppose even an imaginary friend could count here, if the
child really believed in its existence to the point that it became a real
entity in the child's mind.  For an adult, the aejhel would most likely
shift to include a significant other and a best friend or two.

Next is a ring of 5 people -- these would be your closest friends, who you
could share most things with.  After that is a ring of 12 -- these are
friends that you'd hang out with regularly and feel comfortable with.  The
last two rings have much less structure in the Cresaeans' mind, being
reserved for acquaintances and everyone else.

These numbers are canonical and not necessarily accurate on an individual

    aejhel    3 closest         -ejh
    scadhel   5 in second ring  -adhe
    chishél   12 in third ring  -ishe
    geithe    acquaintance      -eith
    nimordh   everyone else     -ordh   ==> stranger, ie don't know them at all

    aerdhil   unspecified       -aerdhi ==> when it doesn't matter, the person
                                            is unspecified, or is hypothetical
    dojhel    aejhel's aejhel
    sajhen    scadhel's aejhel
    chijhik   chishél's aejhel
    gorjhith  nimordh's aejhel

There exist all possible combinations, but I don't have words for all of
them yet.  And perhaps it would be more naturalistic to leave holes in a
couple places and force phrases as work-arounds...  The only other word I
have is:

    cresón    nimordh's nimordh         ==> commonly translated as "foreigner"

These terms describe the ring itself, not the person in them.  That is, my
best friend is _in_ my aejhel, she is not the aejhel itself.  If I want to
use a pronoun to name a specific person in one of my rings, I can tack on a
"numbered suffix" to the end of the ring's name.  |-sa| is the #1 ending,
|-da| is #2, etc.  So |aejhelsa| refers to the first person in my aejhel
that I've mentioned, |aejhelda| to the second, etc.  I currently only know
the numbers for up through 9 or 10.

The old IE-style conjugations and pronouns still exist, however.  As review
for those of you who haven't memorized them <grin>, the basic ones are:

1st  ai   -i     aym   -ym
2nd  aet  -et    aetim -etim
3rd  ar   -ar    arim  -arim
     ah   -a(h)  ahim  -ahim
     "it" -ec    ecim  -ecim

The pronoun |ai| used to be the normal 1st-person pronoun.  With the new
telepath vs non-telepath pronouns, I needed a new 1st-person pronoun.
Since Asha'ille really has a penchant for coining words by condensing
phrases, I took that approach.

    |amorv shalnen n'o|      "the soul revolves around it" ("it" refers to
    |eln no amorv shalnen|*  "that which the soul revolves around"
    |en'oln|                 contraction, meaning "I" (literary register)
    |en'i|                   normal register for "I".  [En="i]
    |n'i|                    (mildly) slangish "I".  [n=i]
    |no|                     can refer to a living thing without
                             it the way English's "it" does

* |eln'o| is the contraction of |eln no|.  |eln| "that, which" messes with
word-order of the object and adds emphasis to it

These pronouns are now reserved for things which are not telepathic -- that
is, the ring-scheme conjugations are only for telepathic beings (kinda like
the distinction we make for sentience).  A telepath can be intentionally
"downgraded" to the non-telepath pronouns as an insult.  In this context,
using a non-telepath pronoun would imply that the person acted without
thinking about how he would affect the |shalndas|, or the community's
network as a whole*.  A non-telepath can also be "upgraded" to the telepath
pronouns if, for example, a Cresaea feels close enough to a human to treat
him as an honorary Cresaean.

* |ml'shaln| is an individual person's "network".  |ml- -ml| is the
circumfix for possession of intangible things, so that's where the |ml'| is
derived from.

Taken together, all of this leads to many lexicalized shades of meaning.
In the following example sentences, I use the verb |shav| "to speak" to
keep things simple.

    Shavnilejh  <OR>  Shavni ne aejhelsa.
    "I speak to (you|one of the people closest to me)."

    Shavnilejh ne aet  <OR>  Shavni ne aet aejhelsa.
    "I speak to you (who is closest to me)."

    Shavnilet  <OR>  Shavni ne aet.
    "I speak to you (who isn't telepathic)."

    Shavilet  <OR>  Shavi ne aet.
    "I, acting with disregard for anyone else, speak to you."

    Jhi shavet!
    "You really do speak with total disregard for the effect your words have!"

One last note, and then I'll leave you alone (if you even got this far
<grin>, in which case I thank you).  For me personally, living here on
Earth, a planet noticeably telepath-deficient, I use the telepath pronouns
for sentient things and non-telepath ones for everything else.  If I were
on Cresaea, I'd have to change my deviant ways.  :)



H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...>