Kyarghnaal Language

Kyarghnaal Language
The Language of the Hills of Arlinga

Monday, 24 June 2013

Sorry I've Neglected You

This is to be an apology post, though by the time I've finished with it, it may have turned into more.  I have not posted in a long time, in spite of good feedback, so I am sorry to any who may have been waiting.

I am not a natural blogger, as some people are.  When I get the urge to write, all that creative energy usually gets expended in novels, short stories, or poetry.  People may assume that a writer's inspiration comes from some mystical realm of pure enjoyment, which is partly the case, but the primary source of inspiration may be simply having something to write about.

The biggest thing that has happened since I last wrote to you is that I have finished the proofreading process on my first book, "Arlinga: Concerning a Man", and am now waiting for the editor to get back from Britain.  I have been assembling a costume, with the help of a nice seamstress I know.  This, along with feedback from my parents (with whom I share an understanding of the world of Arlinga), will hopefully make the story more real to people, as well as give me an idea of how it feels to be in the shoes of a Sheewa.  (If that last word throws you off, look through my previous posts!)

Also, I have submitted several poems to a certain international poetry prize committee, and I look forward to hearing back sometime in December.  My poetic style might be called an offshoot of the Romantic movement, and it may seem strange to those who are used to unstructured poetry, free from any discernible rules.  I work according to rules.  Strangely, I find that abiding by restrictions in certain areas helps to stoke the fires of poetic feeling.  Plus, I just prefer poetry with rhyme and meter.

I hope you all have a good evening!

Monday, 1 April 2013

From Leagues to Kaind

People out there might complain that some words in my book confuse them.  This might help clear that up.  If, however, you lack the fundamental curiosity and love of the unknown to appreciate or ignore these things, then I'm afraid you'll have trouble reading any kind of fiction at all!

Due to help from a good friend of mine, I have recently realized the importance of unique units of measurement in conlangs and world building.  I'm ashamed to say that up to this point I have been making do with archaic British terms, but now that this has changed, Arlinga has become that much more real to me.

It's also important to alter the terms to fit the culture.  Everyone needs words for certain general areas of length, volume, etc., because these are universal.  But each should be specifically tailored to the lives of the people who use them.

Also, has the language left these words behind, like ours?  (After all, who knows what inch, fathom, and mile originally meant, without looking it up on Wikipedia?)  Or do they still refer to very specific ideas?

There will be different units of measurement in every language in Arlinga, of course, but here are the ones I've come up with so far for Sheewan.  First there is the abbreviation, which the is the word usually used, then the term it stands for, used for special emphasis, then the literal translation.  As you can see, most of them refer to either walking or writing, as befits a society of traveling scribes:

lîoš (aurilîok le'òšoitu--writing span)  = 24.71 cm./9.73 inches
One section of writing in a Sheewan scroll is one lîoš long.

rafin (aurophoi alni--long stride)= 99 cm./3.25 feet
The Sheewa covers one rafin of ground with each stride.

kand = 4.18 km./2.6 miles
One kand is the distance between two ancient markers on the Great Trail.

čumpuil/čuil (čiun le'aurophoitu) = 26.6 km./16.5 miles
A Sheewa can cover one čuil in a watch, a watch being about three hours long.

impuil/buil (inš le'aurophoitu) = 79.7 km./49.5 miles
An impuil is the distance the Sheewa walk in three watches.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Upon the Use of Learned Speech

They there, folks!  Been a long time.  Sorry.

The occupation of writing draws many who consider themselves, for one reason or another, to be intellectuals, and therefore existing upon a higher plane than their fellow mortals.  In fact, many consider the act of writing and publishing books to be an effective bid for immortality, an idea contradicted by the fact that many books, quite rightly, are forgotten nearly as soon as they are opened.  Some few recent works are, in my opinion, full of pages unworthy to line dog kennels with, but I will not dwell on that here.

This is one reason a writer may use an "elevated" form of language, even in everyday speech.  That oldest of excuses for insufferable behaviour, breeding (or the aspiration toward breeding), causes certain people to oh, so casually drop long words into their conversations as though by accident.  In the opinion of this reporter, the so-called common man can very easily see and resent this sort of pretension.

However, this is by no means the only reason for such use of language.  Writers, at the best of times, regard themselves as painstaking artists, and literary dialects may simply be viewed as another part of the palette of colors available to them.  There is more to any language than the stilted vocabulary used in daily conversation.

There are yet other instances in which such methods are used, though they may be regarded as extensions of the above argument.  Many writers may use archaic forms of speech when rendering the actual words of a pompous character, or perhaps giving the effect of a work having been translated.  Still others alter their style when telling a mediaevalist story, or when translating someone's native tongue into English while keeping a sense of the original.  A few may do this brilliantly, others indifferently, yet it remains a reasonable excuse for a bit of fun.

Indeed, I myself often fall victim to such foolishness, though I have always tried to use my handicap for good and not for evil.  I cannot seem to bring myself to give up such richness of expression.

It's just another way of talking, is all.  Sort of snobbish to condemn it, don't you think?

Monday, 7 January 2013

Chapter Headings

As many of you may know, I greatly admire the writings of Rudyard Kipling, and of all his novels possibly my favorite is Kim.  A more personal, polished work of fiction would be hard to find, and for all that some call his writing racist, very often his native characters are more intelligent and heroic than the English.

One feature of Kim which especially intrigues me is the chapter headings, and how they relate to and interact with the chapter to follow.  Take for instance "The Sea and the Hills", one stanza of which is used at the head of a chapter in which Kim and the lama venture into the high Hills to the North of India.

"Who hath desired the Sea—the immense and contemptuous surges? 
The shudder, the stumble, the swerve ere the star-stabbing bowsprit merges— 
The orderly clouds of the Trades and the ridged roaring sapphire thereunder— 
Unheralded cliff-lurking flaws and the head-sails' low-volleying thunder? 
His Sea in no wonder the same—his Sea and the same in each wonder— 
His Sea that his being fulfils? 
So and no otherwise—so and no otherwise hill-men desire their hills!"

From here we enter a vivid sea of slopes and peaks, into which the lama leads Kim at a killing pace through the thinning air.  The chapter heading provides such an effective appetizer for the reader that the hardships of the characters become enjoyable.  

My latest work features chapter headings as well, and I can only hope that they will be as effective for me as they have been for others.  Poetry, sections of royal histories, and proverbs are represented, many attributed to various figures in the ancient kingdom of Arlinga.  

The following prefaces a chapter in which the heroes take their leave of an ancient city in order to go out and see new lands.  It was written by an ancient king who was weary of court life, and desired to go out among his people.

"My bed is of gilt, my shirt is of pearls, 
The stones of my palace are polished and fitted,
The slopes are aglow.

But how far is the sea and the sails unfurled,
How smells the forest where falcons have flitted,
How looks the snow?"

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Author as a Reader

Attempting to write books without reading any is like trying to bake a cake without flour.  An appreciation for good writing is essential for the production of it.

Now, maybe some people simply want to be seen as writers, aloof from the world, dressing differently, using big words.  Or perhaps these individuals think writers have an easy life, where all that is needed is to put words down on paper and wait for other people to give them money.  I would challenge such people to pick up a Dickens novel or Kipling short story and ask themselves, "Could I write as well as this?"

Even as a relative beginner, I have learned that, like a painter, most of a writer's time is spent tediously correcting, improving, and refining creative products.  A great deal of free time goes into this process.

The truth is that if it was easy, it would not be worth doing.

And here again the importance of reading comes forth again.  One must choose the genre and author that most pleases one's taste, and use that writing as insurance against discouragement, which writers feel just as often as other people do.  When the world closes in about a writer's ears, he can still sit at the feet of a master and watch the old pen perform its magic.

The occupation of writing must not be approached from a position of laziness, but rather from an admiration for the art.


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Beginnings of the Sheewa

The Sheewa, as you know, are descended from the scribes and advisors who fled from both sides after the war which utterly destroyed the last kings.  Menaced by marauding bands of soldiers, they banded together and fled back to the safety of the High City beyond the Death Fields.

It is stated both in the Chronicles of the Last Kings and The Annals of the Slopes that divisions soon sprang up between the two factions of survivors, because of the considerable differences in speech as well as memories of old injustices on both sides.  These enmities grew and grew until at last a fight sprang up in the corridors of the High City, which very nearly split the Sheewa in apart forever.

Now, there were no more kings, so a leader had been elected, one respected by all for his wisdom, compassion, and equity.  This man, the Keeper of the Slopes, sequestered himself for many days with his most trusted advisors, and at last emerged with the plan for a new language.

This tongue would be completely new, and equally foreign to all, regardless of their mother tongue.  It was simple as languages go, for they fully expected, even hoped, that words from every language of Arlinga would enter the lexicon and enrich Sheewan vocabulary.  From that time on they were all Sheewa, never forgetting the past, but also never revisiting it, waiting all in unison for the restoration of a kingship that would provide for all people.

In practical terms, all the people of Arlinga speak Sheewan, no matter what language they speak, because the Sheewan language is never spoken by itself.  Both the grammar and vocabulary from any language may be added to it to any degree, and for this reason among others, the Sheewa regard themselves as the representation of all the body of Arlinga.

Thus came the saying: "As the North wind differs from the South, so differs Sheewan from Sheewan.  Yet they are all air."

Monday, 1 October 2012

A Highlander's Journey part 5

Just a reminder that this story is going out with very little editing, so please bear with it!


Outer darkness faded to inward void and back again as Hasaadri was borne upon the man's saddle-bow, jostling across the hardest part of the leather with each gallop.  The snow plumed upward and scattered across his back with each leap the horse made.  All at once punishment stopped and he was flipped off of the panting beast into a deep cushion of snow.

They rested on a low hill in the edge of the valley.  In the waxing starlight he could only just see the outline of the horse and rider above him, the steam from the beast's breath caressing his face.  "Get your breath quickly.  These people can run through snow almost as well as this horse can."

He looked back the way they had come, but saw nothing.  Doubtless they had not yet started to follow, but when they did there would be great need for haste.  Better to start now.  These ones loved to hunt.

"Very well." he said to the shadow above him.  "But I ride in front of you, astride.  If I'm to flee, I'll flee better all in one piece."

Horses are curious, in that there are times when they comprehend the need for haste far better than the rider that spurs them on.  The tall horse ate up the ground furiously in spite of the deepening snow, and soon they had reached the shelter of the trees on the other side.  Of his own accord the stallion moved behind a stand of pine and waited silently there as the two men dismounted.

The man took the horse by the nose and talked to it for a while as Hasaadri rested in the snow.    They were sheltered by the trees, but the man knew better than to be caught unprepared, and he left the saddle on the horse.  "Sleep a while, I'll keep watch." he said.  "You must have had a trying day."

There seemed to be an insult somewhere in the man's tone, but Hasaadri was already nearly asleep.  He only barely felt the man roll him onto a blanket and cover him over with another.

It seemed only a moment that he had slept, but the stars had shifted above them, and the sky had almost turned lighter.  He was awakened with a hand across his mouth that stifled the cry he might have given.  

"Where are you headed?" The man was already packing the blankets into a roll behind his saddle.  "You wear my furs, so I have a right to know."

The young Highlander pointed away across the trees.  "I'm off across the mountains to the east, to see what the land is like.  I've never been out of the Caldera before."

"I guess you've not.  You're pointing to the West, which, granted, is the wisest course for you.  There is little profit in new country for a dead man.  Come on, in the saddle.  They've been gathering their courage all night, and might be watching for us now.  We'll go on through the forest."

"If they know where we are, why not kill us in the night?"

"Because they are nearly as cunning as I am.  Nearly.  Now move!"