Epistle IX The Fhraîxhu, the Sound Symbolism
I feel so ashamed. It is such a beautiful and glorious day here, as summer takes hold upon all of Jaràqtu, and yet I know that you and the warriors must suffer so in order to patch the Void. I cannot begin to imagine the hardships of cold and darkness that must lie in the place where once the font of all creation had been. For me the physical hardships would be far less than the knowledge of being so far away from those that I loved, that separation, that longing would gnaw at me far more than hunger and mud and darkness.
To be honest with you I almost don’t feel in the mood for writing, so warm and nice this day is, but I shall be true to my promise and write to you every day while you are at battle, if I am able to do so, of course. Right now Ixhúja and Siêthiyal and Karuláta are playing a game which involves filling up the quqlimùqli balloon flowers with fresh and cold water and then lying in wait for someone else and splashing her. Khwofheîlya has already thrown the maidens out of the crannog several times, but the three have managed to sneak back in again and pelt each other. I suspect in a few moments your Mamà will start picking up someone, probably Karuláta the smallest, and just throw them out the window. Puey, I must admit, I think that all of the games that you and your Siblings play are really the same game o'er and o'er again, it’s all just a big excuse to form alliances, break alliances, and thump someone. It’s the same way that you and Siêthiyal play Tnúpa Jórqha chess also, you tend to play from emotion and not from strategy. For instance, if your Sisters really thought out the implication of this game, then they would not just run at each other heedless and soaking, they would create a rather sophisticated trap and lure the other one into it, and rather than throwing one balloon flower at her, one could toss an hundred quqlimùqli, or perhaps open up a door and release an aquaduct of water. This is all giving me a splendid idea. Puey, as soon as I conclude this letter, I may have to start dunking your Sisters.
In the last epistle that I sent you, Karuláta began drawing out a chart I had made for the fhraîxhu, the sound symbolism of Babel. By fhraîxhu I mean that some words, perhaps, by my guess, about píxhi tnút, about 9.09% of them can be imagined as using part of their sound to tell their meaning. For instance the personal pronouns all have a sound in sequence:
Pú, Tú, Kú
This soul, That soul, Yon soul
Pó, Tó, Kó
This one, That one, Yon one
And sometimes one can detect parts of a pattern. Qlén and qléxhe are beautiful women, qló are beaituful persons, qloâkh are lovely places, and qlóxha are dashing, debonaire men. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that in a small number of words, P has the sound of This, T of That, K of yon, Ú of soul, Ó of one, and Ql- of beautiful or beauty. I must stress to you that sound symbolism is actually fairly rare and a bit haphazard in language, it is almost as if the mind is seeking for a pattern and finding one where it is only partially there. For instance, the familiar pronouns Jin, Teir, and Khes have a similar meaning to Pó, Tó, and Kó, but the only similarity among the sets is the initial T- for the second person. And the other words that we have for beauty do not begin with a Ql-, such as fhán, beautiful appearance, and fhiláni, fhiníláni, those who are precious, beautiful, rare, scarce, sweet, douce, or khàngan, khànganan, those who are gracious, elegant, beautiful. Nonetheless, I think that while we are still exploring the subject of philology that we take a moment and example the various Fhraîxhu patterns that we have.
Vowels ond Diphthongs
Name; sight, see
Non·sentient beings; things
Movement, go, come
Dream, mythe, ritual
Matter, substance, thing
Emocioun, feelings, sensacioun
Vowel plus Consonant Syllababels
Femalen, female names; paßivë
Malen, male names; activë
Consonants, Liquids, ond Semivowels
Stops, Fricatives, Affricates, Clicks
Many, mild emphasis
Through, means, tools
Do, deed, cause
From, out of; genitivë
High emphasis, Great
Few, little, mild low emphasis
Circle, cycle, sphere
Part, body part
Low emphasis; leß
Oh Puey, my beloved, I believe that in Babel a small percentive of words contain a clew, often metaphoric, as to its meaning. In the chart I have given a rough approximation of these basic meanings, and yet even as I review the chart I can see that the meanings fall into certain broad categories and patterns.
Þe U·Series: mind
U, spirit, soul
Uja, think, mind
Uje, wish, subjunctivë
Ujo, emocioun, feelings, sensacioun
Uju, need, imperativë
O, sentient beings
Stopped Consonants: Deictiξ
Q, allativë·locativë (in, at, on); purpueypose
Relationships of time and space: most are devoiced liquids
Xhl, through, means
Xhm, towards; have
Xhn, with, together
Xhr; from, out of; genitivë
But also Tlh, high, above; ond Q, allativë·locativë; purpueypose
Number ond Emphasis Series:
Th, few, little, mild low emphasis
Jh, leß emphasis, leß
(Kh)Y, high emphasis, great
(Kh)L, many, mild emphasis
Xhw, all, every
Male ond Female:
Exh(e), femalen, female names
Oxh(a), malen, male names
Ai, Ae, name; sight, see
Iju, hear, sound
Ui, darksome, black
Oi, Oe, matter, substance, things
Ei, non·sentient beings, things
Oa, space, realm
Ijo, earth, land
Oa, space, realm
Oi, Oe, matter, substance, thing
Ejo, hypothetical situacioun
Order ond Chaos:
Eu, order, harmony
Oju, chaos, incense
Vaguely lwaxhwéto onomatopoetick:
I, movement, go, come
Q, allativë·locativë; purpueypose
Tlh, high, above
Fh, energy, power
(Kh)N, goodly, holy
(Kh)W, circle, cycle, sphere
Vague parallism between liquids with and without the Kh and hissed liquids:
(Kh)M, love; Xhm, towards, have
(Kh)N, goodly, holy; Xhn, with, together
(Kh)R, do, deed, cause; Xhr, from, out of; genitivë
I must admit that sometimes I find myself grasping to discover qràsi etymologies unto the words of Babel. It is difficult for one to conceive of it, for I created Babel, and yet in a way language created me and all of the Story of the Dreamtime, and in the Drematime the past and the future are one. However, as I think about sound symbolism I cannot but help find some similarities in inflexions. For instance the vocative prefixes aî- and taê + are obviously related to the Ai/Ae of fhraîxhus sound symbolism as outlined above. The particle aê, those who are unique, and the swètwan suffix –ai that sometimes means singular must be related. Poâ, this place, and poa this, qhí, person and qhi- he is, and –aponya, who, and –aonyas, habitual, and taê +, vocative, as well as –étyai, irrealis also have some similarities. There are many more.
In the Lexicon that I am writing for you, and which I hope to have completed by the day of our marriage, when I can guess at the sound symbolism of a word I write it at the end of the definition with júng dashes unto either sides of it. For instance the word Aôxhmoi I gloss as ashes, and then after it write [fire-towards-matter] because it is made up of, I think Ao-Xhm-Oi. Ashes are certainly fire that has become matter, at least in terms of metaphor. Xhmunújo I gloss as good auspices [toward-spirit-good-feeling] because they certainly are pertinent to the elevation of the spirit. Tlhajhetlhisòxhra are boots [high-less-high-go-part-person-from] because they are, well, I’m not really sure whether this is an example of sound symbolism or not. But as I hope that our children and childrens’ children will be using the Lexicon in generations to come, perhaps they will be able to add their own definations and come to their own conclusions as to the meaning of some sounds. I rather like the word Khmexhnujoxíja, the marriage ceremony, for it is made up of Khm-Xhn-Ujo-Ija, that is, Love-With-Feeling-Ritual.
If a word of Babel altogether fits from the chart above, I just gloss it in júng dashes. For instances I gloss Á as [life] in the lexicon. I only do this for participles though. Personal pronouns and relative pronouns may be builded up from sound symbolism, but since their inflexion and usage is different to particples I think they should be defined in a different way.
Some of these words nomen from sound symbolism lend themselves to pithy sayings:
One is life.
One is one’s own descendents.
Remember that these sentences are pronounced with glottal stops or saltillo in the divine Khniîxhwa dialect of Babel.
I have noticed that many of us Real People tend with our many names sometimes tend to have among our names at least one which can be viewed as a fhraîxhus calque whos emeaning is made up entirely of the elements of fhraîxhus sound symbolism. These tend to have a rising musical tone in the penultimate syllable or a diphthong with may take a circumflex in certain environments. I myself find these particular names very whimsical and fun.
For instance, one of Grandfather Pátifhar’s names is Khyenejaróxha. Just as Pátifhar is related to the interject pát and the participle patifháru, those who say holy words, the name Khyenejaróxha I interpret as [great-good-word-do-man] which certainly is certainly related to saying holy words. Princess Qlenólakh’s name is related to words meaning beautiful, for Qlén are beautiful women, and one of her names is Khnaixéxhe, which I take to mean [good-see-woman], that is, one who is good to be seen. Emperor Eilasaîyan, the Son of the Sun, was born with the name Jasúpa, that is, úpa jás xhroe, the spirit of fire, but one of his names is also Aôxu, which I take to mean [fire-spirit]. Your Sister Fhermáta has the name Fhrúla which means springing tide, but one of her other names is Árexéxhe which is [life-do-time-woman] which at least reminds me of spring. One of mine own names is Áxhneyeméxhe which I think means [life-with-great-love-woman] which evokes to me the idea that my Father hight me Éfhelìnye for I was to be the Life and Beloved of all.
And yet the fhraîxhus calque which may be the most interesting is the one that you have, oh my Prince. For words builded off of Oju can mean either chaos or incensed. Compare the words ojúxa, sickness, ojúxai, singularity, ojuxaîxei, entropy, ojúxaukh, bad smells, but then ojúxaur those who are perfumed, and Ojuxauróxha, one of your own names which I must analyse as [chaos/incense-smell-man]. The name Puîyos is quite unambiguous, it must be a compound of Puî and Ós, the perfumed and enchanting one who is divine love, and so Ojuxauróxha must be some form of that name, no matter how transmuted.
Puey, it is such a lovely day that I feel that I can write you no more. I shall revise this epistle again when it is night and our Sisters are exhausted from their play, but in the meantime I think I’m going to start gathering up some quqlimùqli balloon flowers myself. I think I shall teach them how this game should be played, with traps and cunning and strategies. Tomorrow I shall write to you a little about how words are put together. I hope that these humble letters I am writing you can help take your name off of the battles and at least amuse you. And do not fret if you find that you cannot speak and do not understand all of the words which are spoken, for we shall have all the rest of our lives together to explore all of the intricacies of language.
[A quqlimùqli balloon flower is enclosed in this epistle]