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February 11, 2009

Communication, Protocol and Dialect on Ua

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Wolf Tinker @ 5:06 pm

I can see that I am going to have to explain a lot, but this post is a detailed answer to the question on TalkToYoUniverse regarding language on Ua.

I will explain that Ua refers to the entire sphere, as well as to the people there (the Ua, or Ua). The founder of masta Ua was quite arrogant and named her house after the people, confusing things at least a little. To reduce the confusion, masta Ua is always referred to as masta Ua and the people as “the Ua.” The word for people is used without the “the.”

Here’s the questions: You say the three houses, Az, Uz, and Ua, are separate and concerned with different things, and they have dialectal differences but not major language differences. I wonder how, and how often, the three houses interact with one another. This would be a factor in evening out language differences. Since they’ve obviously been around for a long time, I could see that there might be dialectal distinctions between the groups. Can you think of a way to make the language use reflect the main concern of the house? I should remark that dialectal differences can be rather large, and if you want there to be dialect differences, you should probably think of how you’d like to mark them in your English text. Also, if Ua is a “newer” house, then its dialect might resemble one of the others (say, Az) more closely than the two others do (making Uz and Ua dialects more similar to each other than to Az). Do you have any immediate thoughts on this?

My Answer:

Geographically, Az is closest to Rabu City, where the Rabu lives. Uz is next closest, and Ua lies across a desert (once a sea) from Uz, making it the most remote. The story deals very little with Az and Uz except at the end. The house of Ua gained its designation via it’s Raba’s relationship with the Rabu of that time. Of course, someone had to be ousted from that position, and the consort at that time was the Raba of Az. So there is some ill feeling toward the house of Ua from Az. Unfortunately the Raba chose to withdraw from her high profile position and the influence of the house of Az was significantly reduced, an event from which they never have recovered. I have not developed the language beyond communication related to the events of the story, so while there are words for colors, numbers, magic and magical events, there are not words to illustrate the cultural and dialect differences.

Each house has a council and each house must send its Raba or most often her representative to the other’s council meetings (this task usually falls to the Raba’s mate as the meetings are incredibly long and horribly boring – see protocol example below and imagine that for a 12 person meeting). Uz and Ua often come together for census time (as this is a celebration) and for councils to address shared concerns as their lands border. Uz extends an always open invitation to Az, but it has not been answered in years. Most people on Ua believe the house of Az to be impotent and useless (disproven at the end of the story in a most dramatic way).

The people of the various ruling houses tend to imitate their leaders. Tensions are high between the lands because the house of Ua has the most water. Refugees from other lands are sneaking in all the time. Not only this but at the time of the story, there is tension between Uz and Ua because of the behavior of the young leader of Ua, a woman who eschews protocol and doesn’t believe in the prophecy about the return of the water. Raba UzJef is old enough to be Raba Ualin’s mother (who vanished under suspicious circumstances when Ualin was only 13). To make matter’s worse, Ualin has adopted UzJef’s daughter into the house of Ua, and made her the second in command, her Anza. Basically this means less contact between these two houses royal families, but some mixing among the common people, who have investment in appearing to be from masta Ua. In the past, interaction between the various houses took place via trade or special events called gatherdays.

But the tensions are a recent development, so the main differences tend to be more how language is used rather than specific word differences. Ualin tends to speak aloud more often as this is more secure than telepathy. The words on Ua are all sung, and so when I talk about dialect differences I am actually referring to differences in tone and key. So if I say that the dialect of the house of Az is more colorful, does that help? By that I mean more melodic. The house of Uz tends to be more like chanting, and the house of Ua tends to be a little spartan, especially since Ualin has taken the sagama. She has even learned to speak without singing! She’s been offworld more than any other Raba, and since the people tend to imitate their leader, changes are taking place in the language of Ua. Telepathic communication tends to wash away differences related to sound, so when I talk about differences in that respect, it has more to do with protocol and actually partly explains the importance of protocol. The house of Az is careless about protocol except in the presence of the Rabu, the house of Uz tends to use it most, and at masta Ua, they are likely to observe it for the first few exchanges of an interaction and then drop it by mutual agreement. A practical example:

Ualin and Uaben (one of Ualin’s husbands) in a telepathic conversation. Note that channels are set up by the use of wards by individuals to limit who can hear the conversation. Raba are taught to set up sophisticated wards, and two Raba can set up a channel that is extremely difficult to eavesdrop. Part of the protocol is that the Raba always initiates the contact. If they are in a public/group situation, a “caller” is assigned to the most important people so that they don’t have to keep singing their signature over and over again.

Lin: (reads Ben’s telepathic signature (basically his pedigree/names) and offers hers)

Ben: (reads Lin’s telepathic signature and offers his)

Lin: (asks whether to use private or Raba channel (only the Raba, other Raba and her family can use this) )

Ben: (chooses private channel)

Lin: (asks to drop protocol)

Ben: (agrees)

this, by the way, isn’t the best idea as Ben shouldn’t be trusted…

Here is the beginning of a conversation with a Raba with full protocol. The “bead” is the essence of a person; you might compare it to our DNA. In Ua, the bead is like an onion. Each layer has unique colors and textures based on the person’s innate characteristics and formative experiences. Ua often carry a real bead on their person to record important events of their lives; this can be used to heal them if something happens to their minds. Um. I didn’t say this, but they have no written language. They “write” by recording images and thought into “weaving stones” or beads. Anyone who picks up a bead or weaving stone can read it unless it is warded for privacy. In rabu city there is a monolith of weaving stones recording the history of Ua. Conveniently, the one with the prophecy is missing – broken into pieces, several of which have been found.

UzJef and UzMaled (one of her lieutenants who is searching for fragments of the prophecy stone and for ways to fulfill the prophecy to return the water)

UzMaled enters UzJef’s presence (announced by a servant, of course) and waits. He has let down his basic wards already in deference to the Raba.

Jef: (reads Maled’s telepathic signature (basically his pedigree/names) and offers hers)

Maled: (reads Jef’s telepathic signature and offers his)

Jef: (asks whether to use private or public channel)

Maled: (chooses private channel, says, Raba Jef (repeats her signature), I am open to you)

Jef: (asks if she can probe his mind)

Maled; (grants permission to (Jef’s signature) to probe him) [this actually is safety; he has put himself into a state of mind wherein he will recognize and repel anyone without Jef’s unique signature]

Jef: (apologizes to (Maled’s signature) for the intrusion and offers uza to help him recover from the probe)

Maled: (accepts the uza and exposes his (internal) bead)

Jef: (probes his mind leaving the bead untouched, finds no malice or traps. Grants permission to proceed with the conversation, thanks Maled for being open to her)

Maled: (thanks Jef for “trusting” him, begins his report)
I think the telepathic language does reflect the concerns of the houses. Not as sure about the spoken (sung) language. I hope the explanation above answers the question about the resemblance of the “dialects.”

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