Welcome to The Hall of Blue Illumination, a podcast dedicated to the world of M.A.R. Barker’s Tékumel. Chné màsunbrupílukh…er…in this episode, our hosts stoke their inner pedants with an exploration of language in the world of Tékumel.
[00:01:15] Language shows up in everything Tékumel. A frequent complaint is the difficulty of pronunciation, but it’s not as hard as it’s made out to be.
[00:03:47] Tsolyáni as a language is very consistent. While some of the sounds might be new to English speakers, the rules have few or no exceptions.
[00:04:13] Stress is the most difficult aspect for James. It’s not always in the place where a native English speaker would expect it.
[00:06:15] “You don’t need to use the words if you don’t want to.” It’s your game.
[00:09:52] Gaming tip: Use the languages to bring Tékumel alive. For instance, use terms like “dná grain”, or “thésun gauze” to distinguish the setting’s culture.
[00:12:00] Speaking Tsolyáni aloud, especially the longer words, channels the easy sensuality of the cultures of the Five Empires.
[00:13:59] Digressions on dialect. A handy example of dialectical distinctions between eastern and western Tsolyáni is the ü in Béy Sü. In Western Tsolyáni, it is pronounced identical to the sound represented orthographically in German as ü (IPA y), while in the east it’s pronounced as the IPA vowel ɨ. (See The Tsolyáni Language §2.200, p. 3)
[00:15:22] Over time, Professor Barker changed the notation of this sound in English spellings. This is reflected in spellings of the name of the principal deity of the Tlokiriqáluyal; initially written “Hry’y,” later “Hrü’ü.”
[00:16:08] The rules for pronouncing Tsolyáni are relatively simple. Every letter is pronounced. The acute accent indicates the stressed syllable.
[00:18:22] Correct pronunciation of the name of the Lord of Fire, Vimúhla and the sound written hl (IPA ɬ).
[00:22:50] Victor was a guest on the podcast Conlangery (Episode #115, released December 1st, 2015), where he discussed Tsolyáni.
[00:24:02] Pick up a copy of The Tsolyáni Language on RPGNow. It includes a Tsolyáni phrasebook, which is both informative and humorous. (The Tsolyáni Language § 4.000, p. 45)
[00:27:56] Which “you” do you use? It depends on the context and the relative social status of the speaker and spoken-to. (The Tsolyáni Language §3.313, p. 16; See also The Man of Gold, p. 18 in the 1984 DAW Books paperback)
[00:29:42] Social peculiarities of the Five Empires, e.g., dining etiquette.
[00:35:40] The names of the epics mentioned in the source material are fantastic.
[00:36:53] “The Infinite Moment of Resplendent Edification.”
[00:38:58] Players can experience culture shock coming from generic fantasy RPGs.
[00:39:56] Attention to Tsolyáni language and culture can have practical benefits on one’s interactions in the real world.
[00:41:51] Language shapes world-view. An example is the effect of gendered pronouns on speakers’ associations with those nouns.
[00:44:53] Gendering in Tsolyáni.
Hosts: Scott Kellogg, James Maliszewski, and Victor J. Raymond
The Tsolyáni Language is available for purchase as a PDF at RPGNow.
Not mentioned, but also relevant, The Tsolyáni Primer is available for purchase as a PDF at RPGNow.
Conlangery, Episode #115 – Conlangery is a weekly podcast discussing constructed languages.
The complete academic citation for the principal article on the gendered language study Victor referenced is: Boroditsky, L., Schmidt, L., & Phillips, W. (2003). “Sex, Syntax, and Semantics.” In Language in mind: Advances in the study of language and cognition, ed. D. Gentner & S. Goldin-Meadow, pp. 61- 80. Cambridge University Press. The full article is available free-of-charge here.