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From toggle to tassle: writing and reading Jouevyaix

From:Elyse Grasso <emgrasso@...>
Date:Saturday, March 15, 2003, 20:57
[Note: ï is i-umlaut or i-dieresis, ü is u-umlaut or u-dieresis.]

The oldest method used for recording Jouevyaix is 'tadthtu'. A 'tadth'
is a length of string or cord on which meaning is encoded in knots and
different shapes of beads. The word 'tadthtu' can also mean a
collection of many 'tadth', such as a lexicon, or an anthology, or a
company's financial books.

In dry environments Jouevyaix is also recorded using brush or pen on
paper or vellum equivalents. The symbols that are drawn are derived
from diagrammatic representations of tadthtu. Some formats are very
detailed, almost illustrations of the tadthtu, but the most common
drawn forms, which have been adapted for printing and computer
representation, look more like Earthan forms of writing.

The word for shaping a tadth is 'lof'. It is one of many words in
Jouevyaix for activities related to tying and knotting. (Nitodthï says
that while Earthans and Imperials had a stone age and a bronze age and
an iron age and a steel age, Shayanans mostly had this rope age, and
that rope age, and the other rope age, and the yonder rope age... ).
The word for creating drawn documents is 'vod', but 'lof' is still used
for the shaping of individual characters or words, even in writing
systems that aren't derived from string and knots. 'Lof' is the word
that would be used in asking how to spell the English word
'bureaucrat', or what is the Chinese character for 'horse', or the

The word for reading real tadthtu is 'xad' which is a word meaning touch
and/or taste: Shayanans have chemical sensors in the skin of their
fingers and tail-grippers. (The gripper part of the tail is a 'jaiv',
just like the fingers on the other limbs, but the tail has only one,
while the other four limbs have four each). The word for reading drawn
documents is 'varr', which is very similar in its other uses to the
English verb 'view'. People say that one advantage of real tadthtu is
that you don't need light to read them... on the other hand drawn
documents are not nearly as prone to tangling.

The beginning of a Jouevyaix document is mark by a complicated knot that
includes one each of the four standard bead shapes. It is called the
'asrrï', which is means start or beginning. The drawn symbol has four
lobes and a stem: some representations look a bit like the "club"
symbol on Earthan card decks, but with 4 lobes instead of 3.

At the end of a tadthta document the extra cord is gathered into a sort
of skein or tassle, called the 'wültu': the finish or completion. The
drawn version can look like an asterisk inside a circle, or a sort of
spirographic doodle. In typography, both the 'asrrï' and the 'wültu'
are frequently very ornamental: more so at the beginning and end of a
book than at chapter boundaries and more so at chapter boundaries than
at page boundaries.

The symbols for the 'asrrï' and the 'wültu' are often referred to as the
'züla' and the 'künla'. A 'züla' is a toggle or button -- the kind that
goes though a loop, not a buttonhole. A 'künla' is a tassle or fringe.

"From 'asrrï' to 'wültu'" is a clear but slightly formal way of saying
"from start to finish". "From 'züla' to 'künla'" is a more idiomatic
way of saying it. In a very slangy mode, "from 'züla' to 'künla'" can
mean "from head to tail", and 'züla' can be used alone to mean "head",
and 'künla' can mean tail.

To say that someone doesn't know whether he's got the toggle or the
tassle suggests that he is in a hopelessly complex or tangled
situation, like a book that someone's toddler has taken off the reels
and played with.

"Reading from toggle to tassle" is what you want people to do to your
new story or poem.

"Examining from toggle to tassle" is what you want the auditors to do to
the books of the guy who organized the business venture you lost money
on. The phrase carries a certain adversarial implication.
Elyse Grasso