Inner Coastal and Cherani Trade Speech Idioms

Jouevyaix Thuvaisshet dli Jouevyaix Cherani

Idioms
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Copyright © 2003 Elyse M. Grasso

Idioms

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Welcome and Farewell

The most common greeting at physical meetings in Jouevyaix is, di tsüzh nge llïgtu literally "the journey was blessed" (PAST bless ABS travel-NOMIZE), which is an abbreviation of "The journey was blessed that brought us together".

When the meeting takes place in someone's home or business, the host will always continue with in dioulche nügrrü (2-sing PAST-COMPLETE-DeTRANS eat-QUERY) "Have you eaten?" Upscale businesses (other than restaurants and foodsellers) keep trays of snacks available to offer their customers during negotiations. It is very rude to accept a snack in a jewelry store (for example) if you are not actually planning to make a purchase: accepting the snack when offered it by the sales person can be a signal of the transition from the browsing/window-shopping stage to serious negotiations.

Written messages, where a physical meeting is not involved, usually begin Na (person's name) nar e in vev, literally 'O (person) I greet you', (VOC person 1-sing ACC 2-sing greet) with appropriate variations in pronoun selection.

Formulas used to say farewell are nad tsüzh nge heutu (JUSSIVE bless ABS hunt-NOMIZE) "Blessed hunting", nad tsüzh nge joutu "Blessed trading", or nad tsüzh nge llïgtu "Blessed journey". "Blessed Hunting" can be used in any context, but carries a slightly ironic or sarcastic tone after a business meeting or transaction, where "Blessed trading" is more appropriate. "Blessed journey" is said by host to guest, or by two people to each other when both will be traveling away from their current location. It is very common to double the farewell (nad tsüzh nge heutu dli llïgtu JUSSIVE bless ABS hunt-NOMIZE and travel-NOMIZE) if a traveller will be going outside the community defenses.

Closings for letters are the same as for meetings.

When very casual, nad tsüzh, "Be blessed", is roughly the equivalent of 'Bye' in English. di tsüzh, "Was blessed, is the equivalent of 'Hi' when meeting someone in person.

People usually answer the phone with vevtu, 'greeting', or tsüzhtu, 'blessing'. Once identities have been confirmed, variations of the "I greet you" formula will be used.

Impossible

It is possible to translate the word 'impossible' to Trade Speech directly by attaching the negative particle -se to the root for 'possible', but this form is usually limited to mathematical and scientific discourses. The more commonly used equivalent is closer to a translation of the Wizard of Oz's phrase "not nobody, not nohow": sa es-se dli sa a va-se. The whole phrase often gets treated as though it were a single adjectival root, pronounced "sassedlisa-ase". It tends to carry a certain flavor of sarcasm: notoriously, saying that something can't be done is a good way to ensure that someone will find a way to do it.

Na, Na-e, and terms of address

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Na is a normal vocative particle in Hasrian. In the RopeMiller's time it seems to have had a similar function. Many of the interpolated stories in the Account begin with the phrase "Na Daviidth," (meaning approximately, "Well, David...") as a storyteller within the narrative begins a story. Na-e was a polite term of address in Straits Coastal.

In modern Trade Speech the two forms have converged: "Na Daviidth" can still mean something like "O David" or "Well, David", or even, "Hey, David" if shouted across a noisy room. "Na-e Daviidth" is more respectful. One wouldn't yell across a crowded room at someone addressed as "Na-e {Personal name}".

Na-e used without a name is a polite way to address someone whose name is unknown. Shopkeepers use Na-e to address customers, and may also use it to refer to a customer whose name is unknown. Na-e is also sometime used as a polite synonym for 'someone', especially in phrases involving the verbs 'give-to' and 'sell-to'.

Profanity and Insults

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The strongest forms of profanity available in Trade Speech are words about people killing people. 'Hunting sentient prey', which doesn't explicitly mention killing, is appropriate for polite company: the equivalent of 'making love' in English.

The absolute worst thing you can call someone is 'babykiller'. Doing so in public will shock your audience and make you an enemy for life. Doing so without proof may get you involved in a clan feud. (Feuds officially involve wealth and status, not blood, but sometimes include a spike in the accidental death rate.)

Suggesting that somone (who is sexually mature) is sterile or unable to produce healthy children is an insult, but sexual and reproductive matters are not otherwise the basis for profanity or insults.

"Burning the candle at all three ends"

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Shayanan candles have two ends, only one of which is usually lit. The third source of light in this context is the light of creativity: the term is used of someone cramming too much creative work into too small a time period. The phrase is a reference to a parable in the Canticles. Mozart burned his candle at all 3 ends.

"Lowering the tongue"

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"From Toggle to Tassle"

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The oldest method used for recording Jouevyaix is tadthtu. A tadth is a length of string or cord on which meaning is encoded in knots and different shapes of beads. The word tadthtu can also mean a collection of many tadth, such as a lexicon, or an anthology, or a company's financial books.

In dry environments Jouevyaix is also recorded using brush or pen on paper or vellum equivalents. The symbols that are drawn are derived from diagrammatic representations of tadthtu. Some formats are very detailed, almost illustrations of the tadthtu, but the most common drawn forms, which have been adapted for printing and computer representation, look more like Earthan forms of writing.

The word for shaping a tadth is lof. It is one of many words in Jouevyaix for activities related to tying and knotting. (Nitodthï says that while Earthans and Imperials had a stone age and a bronze age and an iron age and a steel age, Shayanans mostly had this rope age, and that rope age, and the other rope age, and the yonder rope age... ). The word for creating drawn documents is vod, but lof is still used for the shaping of individual characters or words, even in writing systems that aren't derived from string and knots. Lof is the word that would be used in asking how to spell the English word 'bureaucrat', or what is the Chinese character for 'horse', or the equivalent.

The word for reading real tadthtu is xad which is a word meaning touch and/or taste: Shayanans have chemical sensors in the skin of their fingers and tail-grippers. (The gripper part of the tail is a jaiv, just like the fingers on the other limbs, but the tail has only one, while the other four limbs have four each). The word for reading drawn documents is varr, which is very similar in its other uses to the English verb 'view'. People say that one advantage of real tadthtu is that you don't need light to read them... on the other hand drawn documents are not nearly as prone to tangling. (There are proverbs about documents getting tangled.)

The beginning of a Jouevyaix document is mark by a complicated knot that includes one each of the four standard bead shapes. It is called the asrrï, which is means start or beginning. The drawn symbol has four lobes and a stem: some representations look a bit like the "club" symbol on Earthan card decks, but with 4 lobes instead of 3.

At the end of a tadthta document the extra cord is gathered into a sort of skein or tassle, called the wültu: the finish or completion. The drawn version can look like an asterisk inside a circle, or a sort of spirographic doodle. In typography, both the asrrï and the wültu are frequently very ornamental: more so at the beginning and end of a book than at chapter boundaries and more so at chapter boundaries than at page boundaries.

The symbols for the asrrï and the wültu are often referred to as the züla and the künla. A züla is a toggle or button -- the kind that goes though a loop, not a buttonhole. A künla is a tassle or fringe.

"From asrrï to wültu" is a clear but slightly formal way of saying "from start to finish". "From züla to künla" is a more idiomatic way of saying it. In a very slangy mode, "from züla to künla" can mean "from head to tail", and züla can be used alone to mean "head", and künla can mean tail.

To say that someone doesn't know whether he's got the toggle or the tassle suggests that he is in a hopelessly complex or tangled situation, like a book that someone's toddler has taken off the reels and played with.

"Reading from toggle to tassle" is what you want people to do to your new story or poem.

"Examining from toggle to tassle" is what you want the auditors to do to the books of the guy who organized the business venture you lost money on. The phrase carries a certain adversarial implication.

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