Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Do the Shshi Name Themselves?

       This post also appears on my conlang blog, but I thought it was of a general enough interest to repost here.  It's always interesting to learn how different cultures handle the names that are given to individuals.
       All nymphs look nearly identical when they hatch; their ultimate Caste cannot be determined. Therefore, the Namer Alates give them one-syllable names, like Kri (leg), Shra (flowers), or Tei (eye).
       At third molt, when their adult Caste is revealed, a suitable imago (adult) name is conferred, incorporating their nymph name.
       A Worker gets a two-syllable name, like Ti'shra (Sweet Flowers) or No'kri (Big Leg).  
       A Warrior gets a three-syllable name, like Hi'ta'fu (Defends Her [i.e. the Queen’s] Honor; in this case the nymph name was Fum [Honor], which becomes shortened in the adult name). A'gwa'ji (Belly Slash) is the name of a Warrior whose nymph-name was Gwaf (Belly); the "A" serves as a place-holding syllable.
       The Alates (winged Caste) get four-syllable names, like Kwi’ga’ga’tei (One of Many Speakers Who Sees; her nymph name was Tei (Eye or Seeing); her imago name is a traditional Seer's name). Other examples are Mo'gri'ta'tu (Shining Sun Her Wing; "her" is used even though the Chamberlain is male, because this is also a traditional name. His nymph name was Gri [Sun]). And one more example: Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer (Happy He Comes [to the] Place)
       The only people with five-syllable names are the breeding pair, the Mother and the King. When a new Mother is installed, the fortress's Seer has the privilege of naming her. Thus, the Mother of the fortress of Lo'ro'ra bore the Alate name of Mei’a’kha’bu (Rain on Blue River) and the Alate who was Seer at the time the fortress was founded named her Ahk'a'ma'na'ta (Blue Mother). The King of Lo'ro'ra is Sei'o'na'sha'ma, which means basically Tree King.
       All female progenitors' names end in ma'na'ta| which is the word for Mother or, in our usage, Queen. It means literally "he-holy-she," with a derivation that is lost in time but probably refers to the fact that the Highest-Mother-Who-Has-No-Name ate her King and thus he became part of herself.   na'sha'ma| means "King." Again, the origin is somewhat obscure; the literal meaning of the three syllables is "holy-you are-male" although the possibility exists that the waveform designated "sha" could have been corrupted from something else.
        Fortress names are generally pretty straightforward. Thus, Ki'shto'ba's home fortress is named To'wak, which means Destructive Mandible. Kwai'kwai'za means Many Hills (kwai|: mountain; za|: little -- plus reduplication to indicate Many). And our fortress of Lo'ro'ra (lo'ro'ra'mi|) has a rather more obscure meaning; the four syllables mean literally Strong-Holding-Flower-Place, which usually is construed as Strong Land of Flowers, or Strong Flower Fortress.

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