A Hundred Lessons in Srineian [Vheshrame; various past dates]
Jyondre has been teaching everyone how to speak Sriniean.
The vocabulary isn't hard. It's rather like Ketherian, mangled a bit in some pretty regular ways. Thiane has a bag on her leg; Sriane has a baglo on her legro. Grinwipey uses a club; Srinwipey uses a clubb. Sythyry casts a spell; Srythyry casts a spell.
The status markers, though. I will never get the status markers.
First of all, there are two kinds of status: social status and historical status. So, the children of the original colonists are important in the language in ways that the unhistoried never can be, even if the unhistoried are heroes and nobles.
Second, they use status markers everywhere. Actually they don't, but they can.
|low||Low social status|
|huh||Used when the speaker doesn't know the right social marker.|
|colo||Descent from the original colonists (and -- nobody else? heroes and jivu are OK? I don't know.)|
|jivu||People who have undergone the jivu ceremony, which I don't know much about, but it's pretty hard.|
|unhi||"Unhistoried". No historical status|
|dono||Dunno your historical status, bud.|
You can tack either or both markers on pronouns, so you can quite economically say "I -- an educated hero -- ask you -- a noble of newcomer ancestry -- to remove your(still noble and unhistoried) foot from my (still educated and heroic) tail." People only do that when they're really trying to make a point of status. Which you might do if you were high-status and trying to domineer someone, or low-status and trying to get a favor from someone.
Names can get one marker as a suffix.
Jyondre:(to the class)"So how would you refer to the Zi Ri?"
Jyondre:"Oh, great staring gods, no, no, not that!"
Inconnu:"Why? What does it mean?"
Jyondre:"It's a rather nasty word for a rather pleasant activity, and I don't think Sythyry is physically or emotionally capable of it anyways."
Me:"I am not utterly unskilled at pleasant activities."
Jyondre:"Well, this one is strictly cisaffectionate."
Inconnu:"Oh! Sythyry would never never never do that!" [He wriggled at me, which is nice to look at. But I am not taking lovers among my clients. That is simply not appropriate.]
Me:"Back to the language lesson, please."
Me:"Well, it's not quite a current title. Duke Conturge confirmed it over a century ago, but his successors have not done. They were more worried about Castle Wrong, and less about Vae. It's a species title, so they don't exactly need to confirm it, but ... I don't actually use it much. And it's just 'Esquire', which isn't a very big title anyways. If I'm trying to look like an important and respectable citizen these decades, I use a title like 'master-smith' or 'master-healer'."
Jyondre:"No, you always pick a higher title if there is one. If zie's unhi -- and all of you are unhi -- use a social status title."
Jyondre:"No, no. Sythyry-edu, remember the -edu title?"
Me:"It is Sythyry-low, actually. I never finished the Academy."
Me:"I was spending too much time with monsters and lovers and things. So, Sythyry-low, or Sythyry-unhi. She's Thiane-edu, though."
Jyondre:"But you're the wizard, aren't you...?"
Jyondre:"Oh, dear. It'll be very confusing to have Sythyry-low as the wizard and Thiane-edu as a subordinate. It could be troublesome in polite society."
Thiane:"I can be Thiane-low."
Jyondre:"No, no, no! Never give up your status markers!"
Me:"Should I do the jivu ceremony before we go?"
Jyondre:"Impossible, impossible! You know nothing of the jivu. And it cannot be done in Choinxeia."
Me:"What should we do?"
Jyondre:"Maybe Sythyry could be more assertive about claiming nobility, and everyone could call zir-nob as Sythyry-nob?"
Thiane:"Whatever makes sense"
Tingula:"Couldn't we just speak Ketherian altogether?"
Me:"Or use -dono and -huh for each other all the time?"
Jyondre:"No, no, you must know each others' history if you know each other! Everyone would know you were lying! No, the calling of nobility is best."
So we're going to pretend I'm really a noble, instead of the vaguely sort of as-long-as-nobody-is-pushing-anything only-really-inside-Vheshrame-city-limits kind of noble that I really am.
Thiane:"Wait, didn't you say professions plus history markers could be used as titles? So zie could be Enchanter-unhi Sythyry."
Jyondre:"Zie can't call zirself that, though. It's gauche for the unhi to use professional titles for themselves. And it would emphasize that zie's unhi."
Me:"Nobody would expect a tourist from Ketheria to have historical status, would they?"
Jyondre:"No, but ..."
Thiane:"What do Ketherian tourists do?"
Jyondre:"We don't get very many Ketherian tourists. You're surely not the first, but, well, you are the first that I-edu-jivu have heard of."
Inconnu:"Wait, are there really 144 pronouns? Twelve choices for species, times three markers for status, times four for history?"
Jyondre:"Nope. Three hundred and eighty. There are five choices for social status (nob, edu, low, plus 'huh' if you don't know and just leaving it off), and six for historical status (colo, hero, jivu, unhi, and 'dono' and nothing). Don't worry, they're regular. Also they're not used very often."
Inconnu:"Then why are we learning them?"
Jyondre:" Because they help you understand the twenty pronouns that you actually do use. Which don't use the suffixes, they're just different. They're for things like 'a prime of low status', and 'a Rassimel of colonial descent'." He later admitted that the twelve usual Ketherian pronouns are used too -- those tell species, but don't have any status markers.
Everyone but Jyondre: "Can we please fall over and die from the confusion and overwhelmedness?"
Jyondre:"No! Not until I cover verb forms!"
Everyone but Jyondre:"Merciless foreigner!"
(And, if you really want to know, there are a few verbs that can only be used by certain statuses. Nobles can say 'want-nob'; everyone else just says 'want'. (Actually the contrast is more like 'kippliwere' and 'want'. You wouldn't guess that the words had anything to do with each other.) And there are a few other verbs that can only be used about certain statuses. So I, as a person of low social status, would carry-low (or 'gleddah') a load, but if someone tried to say that educated Jyondre or Thiane would gleddah a load, they'd get beaten up or even mocked.)
Inconnu:[In Sriniean]"Sythyry must be our porter! Zie-low will gleddah all our luggage!"
(Much laughter. I would fit inside anyone's suitcase; I cannot carry such large things!)
Adjectives and adverbs are safe though.
Everyone but Yerenthax:"We will speak only in adjectives and adverbs! Truly! Wonderful! Truly wonderful!"
Everyone:"Unlikely! Greatly unlikely!"
Everyone:"Scarcely! Heinously scarcely!"
Jyondre:"Then the lessons will resume until morale and syntax both improve."
I am not going to write my journal in Sriniean though!
[And, as usual, the translation will be into normal English, and status markers will be handled elsewise. -bb]