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bear by san

March 2017



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loose tea for loose women

you pulled out my love by the roots but i'm not such a bad boy

You know, I'm just so bloody clever that I've completely painted myself into a corner. Because this continuum has no Romans or Greeks, and yet I keep needing to use terms that come from the Latin or Greek.

Which leaves me trying to (a) invent a taxonomic system for medicine and species, because !Farsi and !Arabic and !Chinese are the languages of science in this world and (b) make it transparent to the casual reader.

The amphisbaena is staying an amphisbaena, though. That's just too much like goddamned work. Bah, it's all translated into English anyway.

Oh, moss-troll problems. How thick you lie upon the ground.


I'm sure we're not writing the same book (!) but I'm having exactly the same problem. My world is pre-Greek/Roman, and I need medical terms. So I'm inventing them as I go along, basing them loosely on Sanskrit, courtesy of Google translations. Which means I'm struggling with how to get the meaning across.
Yeah, it's a hell of a thing.
Would the vocabulary of Ayurvedic traditional medicine be of any help?
Would Old or Middle English be an appropriate ancient/foreign language for such terms? Many of those will be familiar to English speakers, yet sound different and archaic.
No. Because while there's a British-Isles analogue in this universe, it's isolated and they're a bunch of barbarians. Hardly the advanced, scientific society.
Moss-troll problems are really vexing. I'm writing a secondary world story right now in a setting that greatly resembles the English Regency, and while it may not bother my readers, I have found that I cannot abide having any of the characters use French, even though French vocabulary peppering the dialogue feels very natural, and of course most of the English words they use are post-Norman Conquest in any case. But 'On guard!' is just so much less satisfying, somehow, than 'En garde!'
Hmm... no Latin or Greek derived terms. Are you employing the same sort of gambit Poul Anderson used in "Uncleftish Beholding" (except with !Farsi, !Arabic and !Chinese rather than with Germanic languages)?

In any case, the etymological research needed to do that sounds fascinating as well as tedious and labor-intensive. Can't wait to read the book.

No, I'm not. That kind of stunt works for about a page and a half.
May I direct you to look into the writings of Abu Ali al-Hussain Ibn Abdallah Ibn Sina, known as Avicenna in the barbarian West? Unless of course you already know about him in which case I'll shut up now.
A fascinating guy and a polymathic genius, but not actually useful to what I'm doing here.
Well, crud.

Even the Canon of Medicine isn't useful? I mean, besides as a small end table, that is.
Not having time to read 1200 pages to find out if he happened to have a word for the tapetum lucidum, no.
The end result of this is that now I am itching to go home and dig out my copy and find out if he mentions it at all...
Especially since any version I could even begin to read would be translated into English or French, anyway.
...although I now want to write a story in which Hypatia, Avicenna, da Vinci, and Brahe go bowling and talk about God.
Now, that sounds like fun...
It's a damned good thing you're the writer and I'm the reader, because you're way pickier about this stuff than I am!
That's the order it works best in. *g*
I think there's a real point to stamping on the Moss-Trolls, but also a fundamental problem when it's Latin you're trying to avoid, because it's just so integrated into the damn language. I was thinking about it after the last time you raised it and an example came to mind, related to a story I'm noodling about with, that without Latin I wouldn't be able to use 'archer'. Okay, so I say 'bowman' instead, as long as my background allows me Germanic. Which is fine, until I realise I can't then describe arrows as 'arcing' through the sky, and that then leads you on to realising that 'arch' is out, and 'architecture' and suddenly the whole built landscape is collapsing about our ears because we don't have the words to describe it anymore.

I think it's wise to pay attention to moss-trolls, but wiser to admit that sometimes there's just no practical way to dig the little buggers out completely!
I think, though, that there's a difference between trying to root out all latinate sources, and trying to make a reasonable medical terminology that isn't Latin derived. The latter allows for archers, but asks one to look for a new name for Gluteus Maximus.