How do the races of the Zoasfier communicate and name things?
Other authors have gone to great length to develop a "conlang," or constructed language, for their universes. Star Trek has its Klingon, and The Inheritance Cycle has The Ancient Language, among many examples. I'm not really in to that aspect, so I prefer to take the stance that these characters are speaking the language that they speak, and you are reading the best possible idiomatic translation into modern English.
With that in mind, I have decided that there does exist a common language among the primate races (humans, elves, and mayom) that derives from the original language of Nivalla and spread throughout the known world. Primate Common is in essence, the lingua franca of the developed Zoasfier.
Further, I needed some source of inspiration for names, such as place names, character names, and so on. Ultimately I decided to simply use real world languages. I use the following approximations:
|Nivalla and The Archipelago||Modern English|
For example, I might want to name a character using a variation of "Fred." If the character is a human from Nivalla, the name would be Frederick, but if from Thanus the spelling might be Fredarikos. If the character were a brocc it would be Fredrek, a mayom would be Fridrik. An elf however would use an almost literal version, something like Peace Ruler. Likewise, in Sindraland this name might become Poonish, whose meaning is similar.
Weights and Measures
In the same way that I am assuming that denizens of the Zoasfier speak their own language and you are reading a reasonable translation into English, I assume that they have their own system of measurement, and what you read is a conversion into Imperial units, without further explanation. Where you read about a foot, a quart, or a pound, they are what you think they are.
The orbit and rotation and inclination of the Zoasfier are within a percent or so of those of Earth. Thus hour, day, month and year are entirely sensible units. For purposes of these stories, they are the same between Earth and the Zoasfier.
There are a few differences that require explanation. The Zoasfier's most common units have a human-scale basis - perhaps they use the span of someone's entire arm for length or the capacity of a milk pail for volumne. They do not have smaller units, but just express things as fractions of the base. I have borrowed this idiom. Thus I might describe a mayomi character as three and three-eigths feet tall who is drinking one-third of a quart of ale, as opposed to 3 foot 8 inches and 10 fluid ounces.
Also, here on Earth we have needed to arbitrarily decide on a zero-point for some scales. Calendar year, temperature, and longitude are a few examples.
For year, Earth people picked a specific signifigant event in history, and label years as B.C. and either A.D. or C.E., starting from that year. On the Zoasfier, years are measured from the date of the final unification of various tribal peoples into the single Kingdom of Nivalla, labeled as year U.N. meaning "Unification of Nivalla." The stories I am writing are taking place in approximately the years 1120 to 1150 U.N.
At this time, not enough of the world has been explored to have fully developed a concept of global position. Nevertheless, in order to draw my maps and describe where things are, I have chosen to center the map on the official border between Nivalla and Wyndelm. This line defines 0° longitude on the Zoasfier. Latitude is based on the usual equatorial line between the poles as determined by the center of the planet's rotation.
An elven scientist, taking inspiration from an accidental mayomi discovery, invented the Zoasfier's first thermometer in 954 U.N. He chose a certain cold winter day and called that zero, and a hot summer day the same year and called it fifty. All this is beyond the scope of simple fantasy stories, so I will just convert as close as possible to Fahrenheit whenever needed.
At this time, I have only created currency units for Nivalla and Wyndelm. Other nations have their own variants of these, and exchange when crossing borders
The elves chose to use basic metals for their coinage, and to use multiples of five at each step. The base unit in Wyndelm is the copper. Five coppers make one bronze. Five bronze (or 25 copper) make one silver. Five silver (or 25 bronze or 125 copper) make one gold.
In Nivalla, all coins are made from zinc, and the steps are irregular. The smallest coin is the pinna. Ten pinna make one dima. Three dima (or 30 penna) make one trita. Three trita (or nine dima or 90 penna) make one reppa.
The Nivallan dima exchanges roughly one for one for the Wyndelm bronze. A meal at a good inn will generally cost two or three dima. Wages for a laborer range around five to six dima per day. A horse will cost at least a full reppa.
Glossary (and out-of-universe etymology)
- An endowed species evolved from badgers, whose homes are inside the Kellingswiggen Mountains. (Brocc is literally an old English word for badger.)
- Endowed Species
- The elven idiom for intelligence, sentience, or sapience.
- Kamatkar Savannah
- A stretch of grass land that extends across much of the Southern Lands. (A misspelling of the Hindi word for marvels, i.e. the Savannah of Marvels.)
- Karrad Desert
- A large expanse of rocky or sandy land along the south-western edge of the Northern Lands, uninhabited but claimed by Wyndelm. Inspired by the Namib Desert of Earth. (I made this word up.)
- Kellingswiggen Mountains
- An very large range of mountains cutting across the Northern Lands. (I have completely forgetten where I got this. I think it started as a Welsh word that I deliberately mangled, but I truly have no idea.)
- An endowed species evolved from macaques, native to the Southern Lands. This is simply their own name for themselves. Elves use this same term, while humans call them Sindran Brown Macaques. (Derived from the Hungarian word for Macaque.)
- A predominantly human nation in the Northern Lands. (A deliberate malamanteau of Nirvana and Valhalla, intended to evoke a Norse-Hindi paradise.)
- Plytha River
- A major river running from north to south through Nivalla. Forms near the border with Kellingswiggen at Elk Lake, where several creeks carry run-off from the mountains and merge together. The three largest cities in Nivalla are all located along the Plytha River, as well as several significant towns. It serves Nivalla much as the Mississippi River did for the young United States in the 1800s, as a corridor for travel and commerce. At the confluence with Jonah's Creek, there is a waterfall about 60 feet high and over 200 feet across, lending its name to Nivalla's largest city, Plytha Falls. (I made this name up, intending to sound peaceful and powerful all at the same time.)
- Saranta Mountains
- A range of mountains crossing the Southern Lands. Saranta is the Thanusian word for forty. Whether they were named because they contain 40 major peeks or are located around 40° south latitude is lost to history. (From Greek σαραντα, forty, i.e. the number 40.)
- A human nation in the Southern Lands. (The Sindra part means horse, but I've forgotten which language. So the whole is Horse-Land.)
- Anything related to the region of Sindraland. A person from Sindraland is called a Sindran, and the term is also used for the sea off the coast of Sindraland, to the human term for mayom, and to the jungle on Sindraland's northern tip.
- An island nation located within the Central Archipelago, but politically independent from the United Confederacy of the Central Archipelago. (I needed a name that kinda-sorta sounded Greek.)
- An elven nation in the Northern Lands. (Shortened from "a place where the wind blows through elm trees," then misspelled just for funsies.)
- (The) Zoasfier
- The world or planet on which these stories take place. (From Greek, zoa- (ζωη) meaning life, living thing and sfaira (σφαιρα) meaning sphere, ball. The planet is called the Life Ball.)
- Rhymes with lock, as in lock and key.
- Cam at car - a rotating part in a machine; directed toward; a passenger vehicle.
- Car ad - a commercial that tries to get you to buy a minivan.
- First two syllables rhyme with selling, as in exchanging goods for money; last two syllables like swigging,
as in taking large gulps of a beverage, just abbreviated to swiggin'.
- May Ohm - the fifth month; the unit of resistance.
- First syllable ni has a short i; second and third syllables rhyme with Allah, the Muslim deity.
- The three letters yth in the middle are pronounced the same as in python, the snake. The a at the end is the schwa ə sound.
- All of the a's are Latin long a's, like in the word father, sah-rahn-tah
- Sindra - mash together the first syllable of the name Cindy and the second syllable of the name Sandra. Land is just land.
- Almost like the separate words in "those guys are bigger than us," except soften the th dipthong, and let the n move to the second syllable. In the adjective form Thanusian, the u becomes long: than ooze Ian.
- Wind Elm - moving air; a type of tree.
- First two syllables are the same as the last two syllables of protozoa (zoh-uh); sfier is equal to sphere, the shape of a ball.
Note: Many of these places, creatures, and other things are described in more detail in other sections of this site.