Ntombi Language Data, as recorded by Dana Keelin

Being the transcribed Diary of Dana Keelin, age 17, recorded during the exploratory voyage to Eastern Ntombi during the year Vanora 138, Coventina the Seventh year of the Ninth Ragna Cycle.

Editor’s notes: Aunt Keelin asked that I write these up in a somewhat more legible hand given that her diary at the time was hastily written in very poor script. The journey to Ntombi was by all accounts a complete failure due to forces arrayed against our family in Ntombi and also due to Grandmother Anwyn’s tendency to have sticky fingers whenever she encountered anything shiny and valuable. Grandmother Anwyn openly admitted her mistakes during their visit however that does not change that contact between the Dana family and Ntombi’s ruling class has been fraught with issues ever since. It is highly likely that it will take at minimum another generation to repair the damage done during this visit, perhaps more.

Despite that, Aunt Keelin’s language notes have been our best guide for learning the Ntombi language, especially when combined with her sister Newlyn’s excellent diagrams of the written language of Ntombi. It is significantly different from our writing system so both Aunt Keelin and Aunt Newlyn suggest learning the spoken language before attempting to learn to read.

The appendices to this journal include the full language notes that the family has compiled over the eighteen years. Assistance on expanding and completing the prospective dictionary of Ntombian language is always appreciated however this is offered exactly as Aunt Keelin wrote it for its historical merit.

Aunt Keelin said when she made the request for me to rewrite this for her that perhaps we ‘younglings’ could learn when to smack our elders through the deck instead of blindly following and fucking things up the way she and Aunt Newlyn had. Aunt Newlyn’s comments to that won’t be records because I refuse to transcribe that sort of profanity where children can see it.

Dana Erlina

Delbhana 8, Ula the Fifth year of the Tenth Chin Cycle

Vanora 138, Nanday of Second week of Third month, Coventina the Seventh year of the Ninth Ragna Cycle

Arrived Ntombi. Much hotter than expected but Mother approved wearing Ntombian clothes so it’s not too bad. Still not sure why Mother wants me to keep this journal as she’s recording everything as well but at least it’s a place to record what I see. Have to go help unload the hold.

Vanora 138, Agronday

Their language is very strange. I’m trying to figure everything out and this seems the logical place to record what I’ve learned so far.

Not all of our letters or sounds exist in Ntombian. They don’t have ‘e’ at all. The closest they have to an ‘e’ sound is ‘i’ which is pronounced more as ‘ee’. Also, they flatly refuse to admit to having a hard ‘c’ or ‘k’ sound even though I’ve heard it in some words. I think that they use ‘q’ for the hard ‘c’ sound as there’s something odd about how they say that sound that my ears haven’t quite picked up. Maybe I’ll figure that out during our stay.

They have a few diphthongs but they’re very different from ours. Vowels don’t combine to form new sounds. Some consonants do, but only a few of them. Their diphthongs are ‘bl’, ‘br’, ‘sh’, ‘sl’, ‘vs’, ‘vl’, ‘vy’, and ‘yn’. I’m still working with Zina, the First House daughter I’ve been spending time with, on exactly how those diphthongs are supposed to sound.

Vanora 138, Sulisday

Interesting. I was well aware that Ntombian society is strongly gendered, with men having specific roles that they do not go beyond and women having roles that they and only they perform. I thought it was something that was just part of how their society works but it goes much deeper than that. Their words are gendered, right down to pronouns, prefixes and suffixes they use. Even their nouns and verbs have gender.

Fortunately for me, Zina explained that the gendering is very regular. Female nouns end in ‘ash’. Male nouns end in ‘vla’. For verbs, female ones end in ‘wum’ and male in ‘uq’. There aren’t any words that don’t have gendering and Zina stared at me if I asked if there were any words that had both or neither genders. I think she had a hard time understanding the concept. Literally everything has a gender as far as she’s concerned, even inanimate objects.

I can’t imagine how that affects the people who live here. Frankly, I’m planning on telling Mother that we need to be careful never to bring any of the boys here unless they’re very well prepared for being penned in. For example, men can’t even say no, not conclusively. When a woman says ‘no’ she says ‘Qiq’ at the start of the sentence and it is absolute. A woman can’t be overridden. Zina explained that she might be argued around but her no is no and no one will doubt that no. If a man says ‘no’ he says ‘Qij’ at the start of his sentence but it’s just assumed that his no is not absolute. It’s flexible, something that can be ignored or overridden by a woman, even if she’s just a child.

In the same way saying yes is different for men and women. Women say ‘Zaj’ and men say ‘Roj’. A man’s ‘yes’ isn’t absolute, just like his ‘no’. A woman can override him if she decides that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I think Grandfather Sean would knife someone if they tried that on him but the men here seem to accept it as perfectly normal.

Gendering continues into claiming things: Female possessive is qi, male possessive is fi. They form female possessives by using them as a prefix, for example: qi’sugah = my sword. Male possessives by suffix instead, for example: frishivla’fi = my fabric. Interestingly enough, the possessive used doesn’t depend on the person saying that it’s theirs. It depends on the gender of the word itself. A woman with a piece of fabric would still say frishivla’fi even though it’s the male possessive. If a man was allowed to have a sword then he’d say qi’sugah, not sugah’fi. But men don’t get swords so that’s a bit nonsensical to say, apparently. Zina laughed until there were tears in her eyes at the thought of a man wielding a sword. I think she’d pass out if she met Grandfather Sean in his full regalia.

I really need to start writing down a list of words that I’ve learned so that I don’t lose track.

vliwum to run. The noun form means something more like ‘the place where one runs back and forth’ from what Zina said. That’s ‘vliash’.

vnasluq to play. This seems to be used exclusively for children’s games. Unlike in Aingealese where it could imply sexual play between adults, it’s only for kids. Interestingly the noun version (vliash) means a religious show put on during holidays. One would go to the ‘vliash’ to learn about their Goddesses (who I want to write a whole another diary about because they’re nothing at all like our Tripartate Goddess despite sharing their names). The idea of a non-religious ‘vliash’ prompted a lot of grumbling about what I think was ‘heathen outsiders’ but Zina wouldn’t repeat those words when I asked. Pity. I’d love to get their swearing written down.

provuq to sew. Something that applies only to the needle work done by men. Sewing sails is apparently a different word but Zina didn’t think it was actually sewing.

jlash a fight, brawl, Grandma Anwyn’s favorite thing to do besides woo attractive young men and steal shiny things. To fight is jlawum with heavy emphasis on the ‘wum’. Reminds me of the sound of hitting someone in the gut and hearing all the breath gust out of their lungs.

qidash a sail. Which, apparently is not sewn (provuq). No, according to Zina to sew a sail is to qidowum. Why the different word I don’t know but there it is.

vlanduq to weave. This is something done almost exclusively by men so no surprise that’s a male word. Zina’s brothers asked a million questions about which weave our clothes were created with, especially Mother’s brocade coat. The word they used for ‘weave pattern’ was ‘vlanduvla’.

bruwum to cook. A cook is bruqash and he’s almost always going to be male. Even at the First House, the rulers of Ntombi the cooking is done by men. The thought of a female cook made everyone stare when I mentioned it at dinner. Most muttered things about not being sure that the food would be edible according to Zina. I’m glad she’s there to translate for me most of the time. I’d be lost without her help.

tubrivla a negotiator, like Zina. It’s apparently her job to work with people to translate, interact with and understand them. When she’s not working with people who don’t speak the language she spends her time tubrivuq or negotiating treaties between people who have conflicts.

shuquash sword. There’s a dozen other words they use for various sizes and styles of bladed weapons but our swords are apparently ‘shuquash’. Nice to know though we did have to make Mother give back the sample shuquash we were shown. To fight with a sword is called shuqum. Each style of fighting has it’s own word but Zina didn’t have time to tell me all the weapon names or their fighting style names, sadly.

fruvla needle, used for any sort of sewing. They have very nice metal needles that compare well with the ones we have back home. Newlyn bought a handful for our brothers to try out. Hopefully they’ll survive the trip back home with all the sea salt in the air. Fruqa is apparently what Zina’s aunt does whenever she does something that isn’t quite appropriate. I think it translates as ‘to needle someone’ or maybe ‘to poke them to annoy them like you were stabbing them over and over with a needle in very sensitive places’ but that might just be the definition Zina gave because her aunt was glaring at the two of us.

bupash road. Their roads are very nice, much better than ours. Instead of dirt or cobblestone, they use huge blocks of stone cut and fit very closely to pave their roads. Makes for very smooth travel and they last long even with heavily laden carts running over them. There’s a verb bupwum that Zina had a horrible time explaining to me. I think that it’s a metaphysical term describing the process of following your path in life? She said something about it meaning ‘to follow the road to your ultimate destination’. Not sure on that one. I’ll need to ask for more detail later.

luushvla house. This applies to the little huts the poor live in all the way up to the enormous houses the rich and powerful have. Luushuq is ‘to house’ or ‘to provide for’. It apparently a very big deal because Zina tapped my notes to make sure I recorded that one. Being able to provide for those you care about is important.

frishivla fabric, applying to pieces of fabric that haven’t been cut or shaped into clothing. The raw cloth. The verb frishwum means something like ‘to drape fabric’. Zina indicated it had more to do with temporary displays of fabric rather than curtains or tablecloths or anything like that. Maybe ‘to display fabric’?

qupash (pronounced something very close to ‘ki-pash’, not ‘kew-pash’) shoe. Most everyone in Ntombi wears sandals that lace up the front. Well, the women do. Men apparently wear closed toe slippers but that’s a different word. Asking what men’s clothes were called got me a hard smack on the shoulder and a very fierce look from Zina so I didn’t ask any further on that.

mojivla doll. Learned that one when one of Zina’s little brothers wandered out from the men’s quarters looking for a doll he’d lost somewhere. Zina picked him up and carried him off to find it. Her aunt made a snide sounding comment about treating the little boy to mojug which she explained as ‘to treat like a doll and not like a person’ but I think she just doesn’t approve of Zina. Or maybe me. Not sure.

Either way, we had to go back to the ship at that point so that’s all I have for today. I didn’t realize I’d taken so many notes until I put them all in here.

Vanora 138, Boaday

I thought I was done with gendered words. I’m not. Zina brought up a whole set of words that are gendered up for me. Women and men say ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘it’, ‘we’ and ‘they’ differently. I can’t believe how strongly gender influences things in Ntombi. Grandma Vanora had said that relationships between men and women were handled differently in other countries but I didn’t think it would be this big of a difference, honestly. On the other hand, Zina’s having a horrible time figuring out how we conjugate our verbs and our thoroughly variable sentence structure so I don’t feel too bad about being overwhelmed by this. So:

A woman will say ‘I’ as ‘da’, unless she’s talking about herself doing something as part of a group and then its ‘di’. Still not sure how one woman can be a whole group but apparently that works in Ntombi. Zina’s mother uses that tense all the time. Past single is ‘dabr’, future single is ‘dayn’, and then the past plural is ‘dibr’ and future plural is ‘diyn’. Nice and regular, thank goodness. What’s helpful (at least for me) is that saying ‘you’ means modifying ‘I’ with a suffix. ‘It’, ‘We’, and ‘They’ are formed by suffixes as well. To say ‘you’ a woman adds ‘ish’ to the base word. The only exceptions are ‘da’ becomes ‘darish’ and ‘di’ becomes ‘dibrish’.

It, which applies apparently only to animals and slaves, is formed by adding ‘ovl’ to the end of the base word. Again, ‘It’ present single is ‘darovl’ instead of ‘daovl’ and ‘dibovl’ instead ‘diovl’. When I asked Zina why the ‘b’ and ‘r’ were added she said that it would sound wrong if it didn’t have it. And then she asked why we have nineteen words for ‘beautiful’. I thought she’d start crying when I told her she was missing four other words that meant beautiful but she didn’t. She just gave me a black eye and then laughed when I smacked her back. I do like spending time with Zina.

Anyway, ‘we’ is formed by adding ‘om’ and they by adding ‘oq’. Neither of them get the added ‘b’ or ‘r’ and no, Zina didn’t know why that is.

Men’s pronouns are formed pretty much the same way except their base works this way:

Present single is ‘ru’, present plural is ‘ro’. Past single is ‘rubr’ and past plural is ‘robr’. Future single is ‘ruyn’ and future plural is ‘royn’. Men add ‘ush’ to get ‘you’ (with the added ‘r’ before the suffix for single tense and the added ‘b’ for plural tense). ‘It’ is formed with ‘avl’ with the ‘r’ and ‘b’ for present tenses. ‘We’ is formed by adding ‘um’, no extra letters, and ‘they’ by adding ‘uq’, no extra letters.

Fortunately for me and the amount of space I have in this journal, Past Perfect and Future Perfect aren’t formed with genders. Men and women both say ‘fosh’ for ‘had’ (as in ‘had gone’) and ‘fush’ for ‘will’ (as in ‘will go’). Thank the Tripartate Goddesses for that! I think if there’d been even more gendered tenses for me to learn I would have cried.

And I still haven’t written down all the words I’ve been scribbling on scraps of paper! Hopefully soon.

Vanora 138, Uladay

Finally something simple to record! To make a question, just at ‘li’ to the end of your sentence. And if you’re excited about something you turn it into an exclamation by adding ‘da’. ‘Of’ is ‘nu’. No complications at all!

Which is nice because I finally figured out what all the prefixes and suffixes on people’s names mean and that made Zina laugh until she fell down because I realized that I’d been saying them all wrong since I got here. I mean, I knew that slaves don’t get to have a prefix or suffix on their names. When we got here on Nanday one of the slaves had just been brought into the house and was grinning every time someone called her ‘ush’Ynes’slo’. Zina explained that she’d been just ‘Ynes’ up until the previous day and then had to explain about how one became a slave as a path to joining the house.

As an aside, Mother’s notes on the slavery systems in Ntombi are very thorough so I’m not going into it here. See her notes from Vanora 138, Sulisday, for a very nice explanation of the systems used throughout the highest levels of society. Zina said that it’s very accurate and she’d helped write it so I assume that it’s good advice. Slaves in Ntombi, by the way, don’t work at all like slaves back home. It’s apparently some sort of method for joining the clan rather than being a piece of property like back home.

Anyway, I had been using ‘ush’ and ‘slo’ for everyone until Zina pulled me aside and told me that I had insulted her grandmother pretty badly. We ended up spending three hours developing a little chart to show what’s used for who and why. The prefix indicates gender and rank of the person. The suffix indicates how you feel about that person.

Female high rank, relative = ‘ash’

Female high rank, non-relative = ‘ish’

Female same rank, relative = ‘osh’

Female same rank, non-relative = ‘oosh’

Female lower rank, relative = ‘ush’

Female lower rank, non-relative = ‘uush’

Male matches the same structure with the following prefixes: vla, vli, vlo, vloo, vlu, vluu.

So by calling Zina’s grandmother ‘ush’ I was implying that she was not only lower rank than I was but also a relative. Mother made everyone memorize the chart when I told her about it so I’m obviously not the only one who made the mistake. I’m just the only one of low enough rank that Zina felt comfortable about saying something about it.

The suffixes were so hard to get a definition of! That’s what we spent most of our time working out. Zina told me that the best choice of suffix if I don’t know someone is ‘wu’. Basically that means that you have no opinion either way about the person. It’s a safe choice and is the one most often used. However, she explained that if you have to express an opinion of the person under discussion (usually only done when they’re not right there to hear you or if you’re either really disgusted with them or adore them and don’t mind admitting it publically) then you would use the following suffixes:

‘Bli’ means more or less that you adore the person. They’re beloved to you, a lover or parent or your favorite child. Or, if they’re not a relative, it means that they’re practically perfect in every way that counts. It’s not much used unless you’re very close to them or trying to praise them to another person.

‘Bra’ indicates strong approval but not that they’re perfectly wonderful. I think that it matches more or less with ‘she’s a lovely person’.

‘Slo’ is for someone that you’re fond of or that you think is worth cultivating if they’re not a direct relative. Or if they’re new to the House, I think. That’s why Ynes was called ‘slo’. She’s impressed people and they’re hoping she turns out well for the House.

‘Vsa’ indicates that you have a mild level of disapproval for the person. Not that you think that they’re really bad or unworthy of spending time on. More like how everyone shrugs over Grandma Vanora’s complete inability to speak without swearing every couple of words, I think.

‘Vyu’ is what you use when you’re fed up with the person in question, when you’re sick of dealing with them and they’re not worth any further effort, but not when you’re to the point where you’re going to challenge them to a duel or try to knife them.

‘Zi’ is what you use for someone that you think is an absolutely horrible person that you cannot stand, who you think is a complete waste of time and effort, who could be dead and you’d be very happy about that. Rather like when Grandma Vanora interacts with anyone from the Delbhana Clan.

And then each of the suffixes isn’t complete unless you add a designator for whether the person you’re talking about is in your group or outside of it. This isn’t like the relative designation in the prefixes. It’s for wider, less formal groups. For example, Zina explained that our negotiations mean that we’d always use ‘m’ on the end of the suffixes for everyone involved in the negotiations. Her youngest sister isn’t involved so she’d use ‘q’ on the end of the suffix to indicate that she’s not part of this group. I’m not completely certain I understand that but using ‘m’ for in-group seems to work well for emphasizing connections with people and using ‘q’ makes sense when you’re trying to distance yourself from someone you don’t want to be associated with.

Mother’s having me formally teach all of this to the crew so I can’t work on listing all my new words. Hopefully tomorrow because my notes are taking over my room.

Vanora 138, Andraday

General sentence structure:

Yes/No + pronoun of person who performs action + Person to whom action is directed +action to take +adverbs + object of action + adjectives + necessary punctuation terms

Not all sentences work this way but according to Zina if you follow this structure you’re going to be more or less grammatically correct and people will understand what you’re trying to say. Spent most of the day trying to explain why our sentence structure varies so much and why you’d use ‘lope’ instead of ‘run’ or ‘gallop’ and why animal terms are used for human movements. I don’t think Zina understands it. She thinks that Aingealese is excessively complicated and that we need to get rid of at least two thirds of our words but she obviously had a headache at that point so I wasn’t upset by that comment.

Vanora 138, Covenday

Good things are not ‘up’ in Ntombi. They’re ‘in’. Bad things are ‘out’, which makes sense given their focus on rank and belonging. So someone’s mood would be described as they’re feeling ‘in’ rather than they’re feeling ‘up’ or feeling ‘out’ instead of feeling ‘down’. Mother thinks it’s because Ntombi doesn’t remember the Landing properly. I think it’s just the way their culture works.

More gendered words and I had thought I was done with finding new gendered things here:

‘A’ and ‘the’ are both gendered and single/plural words. So instead of ‘a’ you have female single ‘a’ is ‘yin’ and the female plural ‘a’ is ‘yan’. The male version single is ‘vos’ and plural is ‘vus’. ‘The’ does the same thing so female single = bil, female plural = bal, male single = sol and male plural = sul.

All of these articles determine their gender based off the gender of the object or objects that you’re referring to, not off of you or the person you’re talking to. I still don’t know why some things are female and others are male but Zina assures me that its perfectly logical. I’m not sure I agree.

Vanora 138, Areladay

Finally got Zina to understand what I meant by root words but only by going into a language lesson on Minooan, Aingealese and Chinwenduese and how the other words have changed after they entered our language. She was really surprised that we add words so freely and gave me a bruise on my shoulder when I told her that I didn’t see how a language could live without adding new concepts to usage. Her aunt overheard that and lectured for nearly an hour on cultural purity and ensuring that one didn’t lose one’s beliefs while going new places. It seemed aimed mostly at Zina but it does explain why they have so few words that I recognize from other languages. They just don’t add new words unless it’s something important.

But! They do have root words which is helping me figure out a few of their more confusing terms, thank the Tripartate Goddesses for that little blessing.

For example, ‘abvlaynvla‘ refers to what Zina describes as that awkward silence where no one wants to be the first to speak, something that really hasn’t happened with my family around but which apparently quite a thing in general Ntombi society. ‘Abugynuq‘ means something like creating that awkward silence by doing something so odd that no one knows what to say. It’s similar to ‘abvlavash‘, the comfortable silence where there’s no need to talk and ‘abvlaslowum‘ is doing what’s necessary to work things out so that you can have that comfortable silence where everyone’s said their piece and no one is upset anymore. Another thing that rarely happens with my family around but that’s because Mother never stops having an opinion to express. That made Zina laugh until there were tears in her eyes because it’s so true.

Anyway, all of those words tie into ‘abvla‘ and ‘abug‘ both of which mean silence. ‘Abvla‘ is the actual silence itself, the noun, and ‘abug’ is to silence someone or something. And the root word for all of them is ‘ab‘ which Zina describes as the really ancient term for ‘quiet’ or ‘still’. No one uses just ‘ab’ anymore but anything related to quiet or stillness is going to have ‘ab’ at the front of it.

Similarly, ‘person’ is ‘jlaqui‘, which looks like it should be pronounced ‘jla-kwee’ but isn’t. It’s actually ‘jla-ku-i’ and that really makes me wish Zina would let me write ‘k’ sounds with an actual K but she insists that I’m doing it wrong if I do so I’m using the ‘q’ instead. (Do see Newlyn’s notes on their written language. She’s spent this entire time learning to read it and it’s very different from our writing system so I’m just transliterating the sounds here. Someday we’ll have to combine our notes but we just don’t have time right now.)

A person without whom your life is meaningless, both in terms of leaders and lovers would be your ‘jlaqudovyash‘. A person who makes you miserable at all times that you cannot ever escape, possibly even by committing murder, would be your ‘jlaquziqvla’. Both have verb forms for the process or act of becoming precious to you (jlaqudoviwum) or hated by you (jlaququq). There’s one aunt that Zina refers to as jlaququq and I can see why she says it. The woman goes out of her way to make Zina miserable, especially when we’re working on language lessons. I don’t think she approves of the negotiations or maybe it’s the way we look. Mother hasn’t explained why she thinks that particular aunt is being so difficult yet but the tension between her and Mother is painfully obvious and getting worse as the days go on.

To pull on something is ‘diwum‘, root being ‘di’. To negotiate is ‘tubrivuq‘ from the root ‘tubri’, which sort of explains why the act of tenderly pulling someone close as if to protect them is called ‘diashtubriash‘. You’re pulling someone close to protect them from the things going on in the area, which Zina’s always calling negotiations even if they’re actually arguments or outright brawls.

Similarly, ‘to push’ is ‘jivuq‘ from  the root ‘ji‘ so the act of pushing someone important away to protect them is ‘jivlabuq‘.

I’m really curious where the term ‘laynziqivla‘ came from. Zina described it as ‘one who denies the destiny they were chosen for and thus brings destruction on all around them but who survives mostly intact despite that with implication of the misery they feel for having destroyed everyone and everything’ but we got interrupted before I could find out what the real history of the term is. ‘Layn‘ is the root word for ‘laynash‘ or altar and ‘ziq‘ is almost always associated with terms that have negative connotations so it has to have some religious history. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to find out what happened for this term to be born.

She did say that Mother is ‘obraynilaqui‘ or someone who chooses their own destiny despite not being marked for greatness (which is its own term–chosen by the goddesses would be ‘jlaquinugosi‘ while chosen by the Ladies, a much greater honor, would be ‘jlaquinulayn’). But then that aunt of hers came and made her go do other things so we didn’t get to finish the discussion that day.

Vanora 138, Reanday

Not sure how much longer we’ll be here. Things are getting far more tense between our family and the First House. Mother, as always, is trying to handle it by being as blunt as possible but it’s not working. I think it’s making it worse. Haven’t been able to talk to Zina all day but her sister did explain that our ‘shimbra’ is terrible. Her explanation of ‘shimbra’ was that time after eating where you sit and talk pleasantly with others. Apparently we do ‘shimbra’ very, very poorly and it’s causing a lot of trouble for Zina’s family members that want this to work out.

Vanora 138, Eponday

One week here and I think my brain’s going to explode. My bunk certainly looks like a dictionary has exploded over it. I don’t think we’re going to stay the full month. Mother thinks we’ll be leaving in the next couple of days at the outside instead of staying for the full forty days. Newlyn got in a huge brawl with one of Zina’s older sisters over something. She wouldn’t say what it was and Zina’s older sister just glared at me as if I was to blame.

I think that maybe teaching Zina our language has caused problems because I haven’t seen her since Covenday and that was two full days ago. The aunt who agreed to answer my questions about words was less than helpful. Zina’s willing to sit and describe the various meanings a word can have in various contexts, how it changes when it goes from root to noun to verb, but her aunt just gave me one or two word definitions of what each word meant. Not as helpful but I’ll take what I can get, I guess.

pubrash – pronounced ‘pu-brash’, emphasis on the ‘brash’: amber, not the color but the gem made of tree sap turned into stone. Does have a verb form for describing when something is slowly being codified to the point that it’s never going to change again: ‘pubriwum’.

She was, thankfully, willing to explain a whole set of words for houses and things related to them. I think she was surprised that I’d learned ‘shimbra‘ (quiet talking time after eating) but not things like ‘vovash‘ (roof), vofavla (floor), ‘jiluash‘ (wall) or ‘luushriash‘ (room). A kitchen is a ‘luushrivalash‘ and the annex outside of the private quarters of the First House is called a ‘loshash‘ (female word) but the little anteroom where Zina and I spend (spent?) most of our time talking about words and what they mean is a ‘luusriashval‘, which is male. Maybe public spaces are female and private spaces are male? Not sure.

wish: water, all water, whether ocean, fresh, in a vase or a bathtub.

luushrivlawum: the act of tending to a kitchen, which includes cleaning, cooking, serving people, and somehow also giving orders.

vyula: hot, again applies to anything that might be hot, from people to fires to food, but does not include spicy-hot. Only temperature hot.

blila: cold, as above, temperature cold. Emotional coldness as we’d refer to it would be called ‘casting someone out’ apparently but she didn’t want to explain that so I moved on to other words.

wishvyu: bath, the actual bathtub. The act of bathing would be ‘wishvyuq’ I believe. Not sure. Didn’t dare verify.

uziqiyn: soiled

obrayn: clean

uziquiynwish: toilet. Literally ‘soiled water’, which makes a lot of sense to me.

obra: whole, complete, maybe all-encompassing but that’s based off a gesture she made, not anything she said.

ibli: half, accompanied by a gesture as if you were breaking something in half evenly.

aslo: quarter, accompanied by a gesture as if you were chopping something into portions, repeated three times.

uziq: broken. She glared at Mother when she said it so I think Mother might be the one who’s messed things up, not me or Newlyn.

We had to leave at that point but I got a bunch of new words from the sailors at port that I’ll have to transcribe later. Not sure the definitions I got are any good but hopefully Newlyn and I can smooth things over so that I can get proper definitions later.

Vanora 138, Nanday of Third week of Third month, Coventina the Seventh year of the Ninth Ragna Cycle

We’re back at sea. Mother swears that we’ll come back eventually but given that we were run out of the port by boats chasing us with spears and arrows, I sort of doubt that it’ll be anytime soon. I saw one of the First House’s daughter’s favorite jeweled knives in Mother’s bunk along with some other sparky bits that she shouldn’t have had so I think she tried her normal pirate ways when she promised that this would be a pure trade mission.

Newlyn and I already agreed that if we come back in a decade or so Mother isn’t going to come with us. She thinks we might have to wait until our granddaughters are our age to make it work but we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll figure it out sooner than that. I’ve still got hundreds of words to figure out and no one to ask about them. The language of Ntobmi is pretty much the same across the continent due to the rulers being serious about enforcing the language so maybe we can ask people closer to home for help with creating a proper dictionary. Hope so. This was actually fairly fascinating to compile.


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