Jaraswat the Extremely Great Linguist
I only met Jaraswat a few times. He has far better things to do than endure the company of mere royalty.
Still, once in a while, he found it unavoidable. Such as at the banquet I held honoring the members of the now-named Hoven Royal Exploring Company. I transfixed him thoractically with a regal gaze, and, when he ignored that, I slithered over and stood in front of him with my head up until he couldn’t any more.
He dipped his head. “Queen Jyothky. It is a narpań, as the Barabondo say in their native tongue, to meet you.”
I cast the Word-Fox and asked it what a narpań is. Jaraswat smirked a bit, noticing me casting. But nobody around knew what the word meant, except for Jaraswat himself, who blocked my vulpine little spell.
I answered in Grand Draconic. “Ah, you must be Jaraswat the highly reputationized linguist. It is a problem, as the astral dragons say in their native tongue, to understand you. At least if you insist on speaking Barabondo.”
“Oh, could it be that you are unfamiliar with the Barabondo tribe, of Zelmary?” he said with a supercilious whiffle. “Remarkable. I published four papers on their language in the Transactions of the Royal Graulfnir Society of Sciences and Magics. Perhaps they were before your time. Anyhow, narpań expresses a peculiarly Barabondese form of good fortune, which may be loosely translated as that which arises when one encounters the younger degree of royalty. The corresponding word for the greater form being, of course, țablisṭica.”
“Remarkably apt, particularly since we don’t are have those multiple degrees of royalty,” I noted agreeably and ungrammatically. “And why do you have joined the Hoven Royal Exploring Company?”
“My reasons are entirely chirric, I assure you,” he said.
“I still am not speak Barabondo,” I said. “Unless you are for to use the an unusual adjectival form of ‘chir’, as in, one of the the native small people of Chiriact. Though it’s usually ‘chirrish’.”
He frowned at my abuse of Grand Draconic. “I am a scientific linguist, not a grammarian. I will not be baited by any spurious verb forms or doubled articles you care to manufacture. However! I am now aware of your weakness in Barabondo, so I have switched to Dommor, which surely cannot be obscure to you. But again you appear not to understand. ‘Chirric’ refers to the spiritual heights achieved by the noble-spirited excellences.”
“It must be wonderful to be such a noble-spirited excellence that your noble-spiritedness can only be expressed in such unclesticu tongues,” I said.
But of course he had learned the language of the Dorday region of Trest, and probably every other tongue I could call up to tease him with. “I would hardly call Dommor unclesticu. While I admit that it hardly falls within the boundaries of Trest, it is neither foreign nor obscure on Hasqueth. Nor does any language have the connotations of supernatural horror that unclesticu suggests.”
Annoying lizard! But correct in the details of his usage.
“But what, specifically, are your chirric reasons for coming on this expedition?”
“Oh, I should think it quite obvious. I have learned all the languages in the dragon-worlds, and acquired weft-maps of the greater number of them. For more tongues, I must sardoss, which, as the Harimengu say, is to adventure outside the familiar realms. And Osoth offered me the position of chief scientist, which is a moderate honor but an interesting one.”
“You’re not an urning, then?” I asked.
“Absolutely not. Disgusting creatures, urnings. Altogether blorrub,” said Jaraswat. I didn’t bother to get a translation of blorrub.
Which was a surprising thing to hear, as Jaraswat’s name (and, if one were to trust rumors, his body) had been attached to more than one drake in the Royal Graulfnir Society of Sciences and Magics. Perhaps he just didn’t approve of actual marriage between drakes.
“Well, don’t be too actively disgusted. The Hoven Royal Exploring Company is mostly urnings. As is the dragon population of Hove,” I said.
“It certainly is a ḋordond place,” he said. After I glared at him, he explained that the Phềrtsnaåa people of Ionc use the word ḋordond for a wide variety of peculiar and repugnant matters, such as —
“Bide a moment. It is clear that your lecture is of grave importance and must be met with all attention, but —” I said. I spotted Mr. Norb across the room, in the section for hovens, and made my way there. (Insult part 1: breaking off a conversation with a dragon to speak to a small person.)
“Mr. Norb! I honor your upcoming participation in our upcoming expedition!” I said, in Trestean.
“Well, the pay’s good,” said the massive hoven. “And I’ve been the sort of lad what always liked the science fiction stories. Going to another world by some mystery tunneling machine! And here I am, going to another world. Couldn’t be more exciting, even if I am going there to dig ditches. Or supervise zombies digging ditches anyhow.”
“Sanitation ditches!” I said, loudly enough that Jaraswat could overhear. “Still, there may be a problem.”
“A problem, ma’am?” he said, fidgeting one of the bands on with his unaccustomed formalwear.
“Yes. We may have severely underestimated the size of the sanitation ditches needed. We assumed that all the dragons were ordinary large drakes, whose output is substantial enough. But some of the drakes are members of the Royal Graulfnir Society of Sciences and Magics, and their output is likely to be prodigious indeed.”
“How many hogsheads per day are we talking here, ma’am?” said Mr. Norb, quiet and serious.
“Best plan on five or six more,” I said. I have no idea how big a hogshead is. (I looked it up later on. It’s a large amount of wine, or a larger amount of beer, or a smaller amount of fortified wine. Only Mr. Norb and his secretive, silent, and smelly (due to being undead) guild know much it is of dragon droppings.)
I never did quite make it back to Jaraswat to finish that conversation. Which is a complete and utter springiss, as the Kurbatic Mhorfs of Tweenimönde say. Or would say, if I hadn’t just made them up.Support this project! Show that you're reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, and the writer at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom's books on Amazon. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.