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Old Silthan

From:Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>
Date:Monday, November 10, 2008, 17:11
From "The Title of This Story", by Stephanie Campisi, copyrighted (C) 2008.*

In a city in which religion is illegal and onomastics is also illegal, a boy brings a
book to an onomastician to find out the name of the book.

The onomastician notes that the book is in a dead language.
The boy says "Yes, it is: Old Silthan.  It's a perfect language, the most
complicated language in the world.  It was designed for the expression of

The onomastician enlists the aid of a collegue "able to master completely
foreign socio- and pragmalinguistic norms with minimal effort".

The onomastician says "The word boundaries are entirely ambiguous, and
appear in dozens of different formations throughout the text.  Both the case
system and verbal inflection system use protmanteau forms that are half the
time underspecified."

The colleague says "Twelve cases, four moods, dual, tri, and multiple plural
systems, and inflection that can vary according to the positio of ... the word
within the phrase, the phrase within the sentence, the sentence within the
paragraph ...."

The onomastician says "I have no idea where to start.  The number of
syllables? The prevalence of vowels?  Which vowels? The phonotactics?"

The two pored over the lists for several hours, aligning values and matching up
vowel harmony and consonant mutation patterns.

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The other linguistic thing in the story is that the city's river is inhabited by
dangerous, predatory Morae.

No actual texts from the language Old Silthan are included in the story.

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Has anyone else read this story?

Is Stephanie Campisi "one of us", by any chance?

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*In "Paper Cities: an Anthology of Urban Fantasy", edited by Ekaterina Sedia,
published by Senes Five Press.