November 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm #286
I’ve been thinking about possible lingual quirks and characteristics of the Viantu. According to the SoTPS rule book,
Viantu culture idealizes a concept called “Tuuv,” or “cause and effect,” meaning that plans and consequences are vital to existence. The famous viantu philosopher, Preev-Taan, once said, “Every step taken echoes in another direction,” which to the viantu means that everything one does is connected to a specific outcome. Hence it is important to be constantly aware of one’s actions and their multiple reactions. Some viantu may even take the time to plan elaborate goals that might require three lifetimes to complete, ensuring that their lineage reaps the benefits. Subsequently, they tend to have incredibly large families; some humans joke that every viantu is related to one another. But the viantu deeply honor their family and connections, and it is this reason they have become such valued human allies and members of the Empire. They organize their kinship through elaborate networks of clans, some quite wealthy and powerful, some benevolent and honored, while others are feared and ruthless.
Considering that the Viantu are long-term clan-centric planners, I imagine they have somewhat of a clan-based identity and that this demonstrates itself in their language, for example, in the way they refer to themselves. When prompted for an opinion, rather than say “I did this” or “I think we should go this way”, I think the Viantu might communicate those ideas with less emphasis on their individual selves as a subject: “this one sees the danger in the proposed route but thinks it a wise maneuver, yes.”
I envision the Viantu having shortened versions of their given names that they use to refer to themselves when necessary. It’s this shortened name they would provide to inquiring parties, reserving their given name for rare moments of closeness and intimacy or celebration and when warranted, recognition. (A note about individual recognition in Viantu culture: while the deeds of notable Viantu scholars and sorcerers are recorded and celebrated, many Viantu have no sense of celebrity and respectfully regard the deed-doers as normal members of clans who are doing what they’ve been endowed to do. If a viantu’s skills and talents are great, then so too shall be their burden, but this idea is perpetuated with a sense of duty, opportunity, and forward-thinking rather than resentment or celebrity.)
I also imagine a more colloquial name by which they identify as a race/people within the empire and the world. “Viantu” is easy enough for speakers of the common tongue to say, but the Viantu might call themselves Vi’naa’ (pronounced VEEK NAkh) with the first ‘ indicating a tight, eek-shaped glottal stop/click; and the second ‘ a more open “cooh” shaped non-tonal stop/click). I think they would use the term Vi’naa’ to refer to themselves when speaking, too, just as they’d call themselves “this one”.
November 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm #287
I love your interpretation of the viantu’s self-actualization in language and deeds. So cool! Primarily, your fleshing out of your character’s own name identity is awesome. “Hand this one the parchment,” and so forth will be a lot of fun to play and I think it adds a lot of depth to who your character is and how he identifies with the world around him as an individual, as a clan member, and as a viantu. It inspires me to think about how more viantu in the game world will take shape. In their own language groups, there’s no place for the types of pronouns that exist in the common language of the Empire, so their sense of personal and communal identity would be noticeably different. I imagine that many clans of New Voland would gravitate toward that quirk of language. Also, I imagine that clan-oriented people, in addition to the interpretation of identity that would cause them to state “this one” instead of “I” in the common tongue, would see other pronoun identity in different ways, leading to statements such as, “Ours is the right course,” and “These five agree.”
Also inspirational is your interpretation of the word “viantu” itself as it is used by the viantu people. “Viantu” is definitely the common language word for their kind, based on an approximation of how the word sounds to speakers of common. All the civilized races of the world have their own version of an approximate pronunciation for the common human language of the Empire (or any language, for that matter). I like where you’re going with the viantu’s physical ability to pronounce certain words, and I love the glottal-click idea. I would imagine, though, that similar to the naming identity idea above, they would refer to themselves usually from a clan standpoint, sometimes identifying and speaking quite differently than other viantu from other parts of the world. So the word “Vi’naa'” (VEEK-Nakh) might be how your clan groups call the broad scope of others of their kind, but other clans might use the word “vian’thu” (vee-ANK-thoo, with the “K” and “T” sound merging into a glottal click of sorts that is difficult, if not impossible for humans to say, hence their approximation “vee-ahn-too”). I think interpretations like this add a lot of awesome nuance. Very cool!
I think it also makes perfect sense for a generational-minded, clan-oriented people who believe in Tuuv to approach one’s own actions with what would be seen as humility or detachment. For any hero worship that headed the way of one with great accomplishments, there would also be echoes in numerous other directions.
All of this is very excellent. Hope to hear more!
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