Ixthos

Hangul, Hanzi, and Sel

14 posts in this topic

First of, I would like to apologise if I get any of the real world parts of this wrong. I don't speak Chinese or any other Eastern language, let alone know how to read them, and most of my information on these topics is second hand or from the internet. I do know a Chinese girl - she lived with us for a time while working on our country - and a Korean girl - I mentored her - but it has been a long time since I last spoke to them, and in depth discussions on the topic of their languages and writing systems didn't come up in conversation. Either way, I hope this topic helps provide an interesting discussion. Also, I would like to apologise if this is a topic others have covered before, and I hope this is an interesting and new idea, or at least putting down an idea concretely which may have been thought of before but not yet discussed.

This topic is on the idea that on Sel a new language will be constructed which could be used anywhere on the planet. This language would be a constructed one, an artificial one, but designed in such a way that it either can be used with the existing systems, or would superseed them, becoming a new common language which could be used anywhere on the planet.

 

The idea of an artificially created language is an old one. A relatively recent example of an artificial one is Esperanto, a spoken language which was stated to have been formed to serve as a common language which could unite different peoples and to be easy to learn, and which uses the Latin alphabet - or a version of the Latin alphabet - for writing. Tolkien made several languages for his Legendarium in order to form a mythology, or rather a mythology to form languages, as languages shape and are shaped by the culture they come from. He used a variant of traditional Norse runes for some (which are apparently based on the shapes of trees), but also invented a script for others. And of course there are several conlangs made for a variety of purposes, and their own glyphs.

The main example of a language I want to talk about though, as is stated by the name of this post, is that of Hangul and Hanzi. I will link a video by Brandon below - the first part is the most important to the topic, but the rest is important about exclusionary thinking:

https://youtu.be/KTE5jUf0Jgg

Hangul is a constructed written language in order to support an existing spoken one - a method of giving power to the common folk who did not have the time or resources to become scholars. And a boon to scholars who would not have to learn every possible symbol of Hanzi. It was a supplement to an existing written language, helping make Hanzi when used in Korea better linked to the Korean grammar and syntax, adding those symbols around the Hanzi characters, and as a language by itself it could easily be learnt and used, and is widely considered the best writing system on the planet.

In many ways, as Brandon said, Aons are based on the relationship between Hangul and Hanzi, with the idea of a Hanzi character surrounded by Hangul letters to link it to the use of symbols around the core Aons. But I think that it is a little deeper than that. All the systems shown so far shown are like Hanzi, the Chinese script, with unique symbols for unique ideas, and thus a vast plethora of glyphs. Aons are in a sense a cheat, being based on a root simple symbol, but still, when seeing the number of Aons, it is clearly more like Hanzi than Hangul.

One key point to remember throughout this though, is not just that Hangul is its own complete writing system, but that in Korea, Hangul and Hanzi can also be used together, with Hangul symbols surrounding Hanzi glyphs. This is the idea Brandon had with Aons - that some letters can be used together. I think the core idea behind this particular application of Hangul is also important - that different languages or letters can be used together, and that might imply that something similar can happen on Sel ... even putting aside the idea of Sel's systems as programming languages and the potential of cross-language compiling :-P

 

Either way, as Esperanto, Tolkien's fictional languages, conlangs like Klingon, and, of course, Hangul show, just because a tongue or writing system was made rather than arising naturally, something planned rather than unplanned, doesn't mean it isn't or can't become a spoken or formal language for writing, the same as others. Languages grow and absorb from one another all the time. And I think that is actually hinted at in the Elantris.

There are three great domains on Sel, with at least two of those nations growing very large and absorbing other cultures around them into themselves. I think they are also absorbing the systems from those nations into their own as well. An example is the Rose Empire, with the three known systems from it being based on stamps. It is possible that the stamps are actually because the geography of the land is closely linked, and so even if the Rose Empire was not there the different nations would have stamp based systems. But it is more likely that the nations folded into the Rose Empire have been altered by the cultural perception, or the general culture of the area. With Fjordell, there is an implication that it is more recent in its expansions, that cultures only recently absorbed - though what counts as recent is a bit hard to measure - are still distinct enough to maintain their own culture, and thus systems. It is implied - or at least it seems to be implied - that cultural expansion and assimilation is the goal of several empires, and this might be tied to Sel's growing self awareness, and possibly each regions pushing its empire to absorb other lands into itself. If so, then the Moon Sceptre could play a role for a new language - or, as will be discussed in the second last paragraph, already be part of that goal for one or more empires - in order to bind a language or system to multiple other languages or systems (and brief aside, it is interesting that Skaze are working with or controlling Fjordell, while Seons are working with and serving mainly in Elantris, but are present in neighbouring regions. Could it be that each empire - or at least some other nations - have Skaze working to enhance them, or working for a common goal the empires don't know about? Or maybe are all in Fjordell, and have set their goals - or have no choice but to set their goals - on the achievement of hegemony with Fjordell as the centre).

 

A singular major issue remains though, and it is that of geography and its ties to the symbols. Aons and the symbols used for Forgery, or at least the final symbol added to the seal, are based on the geography of the home nation of the system. And due to the nature of the Dor it is stated that geography, magic, and language are linked, with changes in one affecting the others. But that is not the same as a hierarchy - the statement isn't that all the magic is based on the language, and the language based on the geography. The statement is that all three are linked. It could be that if a region gains a language, or one emerges, that the magic would eventually become a part of it. Or maybe it only could become a part of it if the geography matched some part. Or maybe the geography would be changed to match the language if the cognitive impact was strong enough. Or maybe there actually is a hierarchy, and geography trumps language which trumps system. Either way, I except that a constructed and artificial language, either spoken or written, would have some impact on the magic. Or potentially be an addition.

 

An aside, I personally prefer the idea of multiple empires and civilisations of a given species in fiction, rather than, in Star Trek for example, all Klingons being in an empire, all humans - and others - being members of the Federation, etc. One of the best ideas in the Original Series was that the Romulans were actually offshoots of the Vulcans, and so could be seen to be - though biologically altered - the same species as Vulcans and thus another Vulcan civilisation distinct from the others. I like the idea of a unified race, true, but I also like the idea that alien peoples can be diverse, having unique cultures, and so also hope that, in the future stories, Sel isn't going to become homogenised, or at least not completely.

This does slightly undermine the idea of multiple systems being combined into one, the people united by a common language, or if not a common language than a common writing system, but it could just be that they start to see themselves as people from Sel first and their nations second, and so the unified language could serve as a common second language, a system which all can use in addition to their own, and which might be able to work far from their nations, or support the other systems when used away from their nations.

Each of Sel's systems so far shown - except for those in the Rose Empire - have been diverse in both method of access and application. Aons can be drawn in the air or carved into plates, ChayShan is - at least shown to be - a martial art, Dakhor is actually part of the bones of the monks, etc. While a new language, a new writing system, could form into a new system, it most likely would interact with the existing ones, being another form for them to interact with. It might be that no new languages will form, and no new systems, but I think that is unlikely. Each region seems to have its own systems, or at least several nations seem to have their own blocked magic. A universal system might actually be something that some groups are trying to produce, their language - like English, as Terry Pratchett noted with its habit of following other languages into dark alleys, beating them up, and looting their pockets for loose punctuation - trying to assimilate the others as what might be happening with the Rose Empire. But whether this is the case or not, or if they are whether any group succeeds, I think a constructed language or writing system applicable across multiple tongues could potentially unite the whole of Sel, or at least become its own system, or a system which ties others together.

 

So, what do you guys think? Do you think that a unified language on Sel would affect the other systems, or could integrate into them?

(Also, one last apology - I finished writing this after a long stretch and am somewhat tied, and haven't fully proofread it or checked to make sure it flows well - I will edit and fix it if any issues are brought to my attention, but at the moment I'm going to go and get ready for supper. Cheers and I hope everyone is well!)

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Hi, and I can't say anything without first stating that: wow, that's a nice and big piece of Sel theory you got there. I'd advice you to make shorter posts next time, developing trough the different parts of your analysis as people interact with your original, introductory post; instead of sharing this big chunk of texts that almost scared me away. But I'll admit now, it was worth it. 

I'd agree that, for Sel's civilisation to go sci-fi level they'll most likely have to deal with all issues concerning geographical blocking of their magic, and now that you mention it, a unified language might be the solution. But as Brandon said, it will most likely have something to do with the mooncepter and the Dor, maybe a reconstruction of the shards eventually? Who knows?

(Although I haven't read secret history yet, but I kind of understand that there are a group of selish worldhopers)

But getting to the point: yeah, I'd say there is a hierarchical relationship between the languages, the geography and the magic. Because of how the AON RAO is broken and fixed trough the Elantris plot, I might even suspect that the order of events is: Dor imbued investiture in the geography, which created the magic system, in which some tongues based their grammar and writing systems. I mean, there is nothing in the AON RAO that implies the sound "rao", the meaning was taken from what the symbol did, but it's pronunciation came from a preexisting spoken language that maybe lacked a writing system, adopting these instead. Therefore, creating a unifying language might not affect in any way the magic systems, just as people missprounouncing AON RII until it starts sounding as REI wouldn't change its effects nor symbol. (THESE IS JUST ESPECULATION BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW. NOT THAT ANYONE IS EVER SAID TO HAVE MISPRONOUNCED AON RII)

But those are just my thought on the subject, hope more people get to this topic!

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On 1/28/2019 at 3:44 AM, HarmonicMonk said:

I mean, there is nothing in the AON RAO that implies the sound "rao", the meaning was taken from what the symbol did, but it's pronunciation came from a preexisting spoken language that maybe lacked a writing system, adopting these instead.

IIRC the language of Elantris could be shown to be related to neighboring languages with the words fror the Aons forming an unrelated subsection of the language.

On 1/28/2019 at 3:44 AM, HarmonicMonk said:

Therefore, creating a unifying language might not affect in any way the magic systems, just as people missprounouncing AON RII until it starts sounding as REI wouldn't change its effects nor symbol.

If you just speak the Aons, there will be no effect. And you would have to have rules for how and in which order to pronounce modifiers.

Given that the Aons form a subsection of loan words in Elantrian, it looks to me as if they were in fact words of a Yolish language, which Dominion and Devotion spoke.

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Why not just make it so that their is a codified magical language that everyone uses?

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I missed this theory when it was made and I very much like the concept... But I'm not sure that it will work mechanically. At least... Not simply.

I'll explain why I don't think it would work just by creating a a language first, and then explain how I think it could be made to work anyway... Though a complicated method. 

First, I think it would fail because Aons, Fjordish runes, stamps, etc, are not designed... They are already built into the landscape and must be discovered. 

Spoilered for length, followed by the relevant portion. 

Spoiler

Brandon Sanderson

Meaning

Aon Ehe represents the primal force of Fire. A complex Aon with only basic symmetry, its form has often been likened to wisps of tickling fire burning out from a central coal.

While the many poets in history seem to have preferred the overall symmetry of an Aon like Aon Omi or Aon Rao, not a few preferred Aon Ehe for its distinctive look and feel. (Much like Aon Shao, this Aon breaks with traditional Aon form in appearance.) For this reason, and because of the destructive yet vital power of fire, the Poet Lenehe of the fifth century named Aon Ehe “The most inspiring of all Aons, a symbol for those with a creative heart and an unhindered mind.”

Recently, this Aon–easily recognizable, even to the uneducated–has become synonymous with ‘Danger,’ and is used as a warning. In many cases, in fact, it is printed on warnings which have nothing at all to do with fire. One might find it upon an unsteady bridge or a wood hiding dangerous wolves just as easily as one might find it referencing actual flames.

History And Use

All Aons exist independent of humankind, their symbols inherently tied to their meaning, but few have distinct origin stories explaining how the Aon was first discovered. Some modern scholars scoff at such tales, but Aon Ehe’s origin myth is well known among the common people and believed by most.

The story tells of the first princess of Arelon. This was some years after the founding of Arelon following the migration of the Aonic people from other lands. Elantris, of course, had already existed as a city when that migration occurred, and had been discovered empty. While some people assumed it haunted, Proud King Rhashm (later renamed Raoshem) determined to conquer the fears of his people and set up a kingdom centered on Elantris.

The transformation of the first Elantrians happened beginning several decades later. Princess Elashe–the first of Raoshem’s line to be chosen as an Elantrian–claimed to have seen the pattern of this Aon inscribed on a coal in her hearth the day after she underwent the transformation. Whether or not this story is true, a coal or rock written with Aon Ehe on it is considered good luck and a ward against winter spirits. (Though this kind of superstition is frowned upon by the Korathi priests.)

Other uses of Ehe are plentiful. It is one of the primal elements, and is often used in scientific writings. It is a ward and warning against danger. It is used on signs in conjunction with other Aons to mean warm food or warm beds available. Some artists and poets choose it as their symbol, both to hint at the dangerous nature of artistry and to speak of the passion of artistry.

Naming and Usage in ELANTRIS

Aon Ehe is often mispronounced as “E-hay.” Though scholars of Aonic insist that the proper term, “E-Hee” is more accurate, the former is slowly being acknowledged as an acceptable pronunciation as well. It is infrequently used in names during modern days, as the meaning ‘Danger’ is seen as unfavorable. However, historically, it was a favorite Aon for poets and artists (who often took new names for themselves when entering into their maturity as an artist, a tradition by which they removed themselves from their old body of work and indicated that they were beginning anew.)

Some famous examples of names from Aon Ehe include the poet Ehen, the artist Ehelan, and Mehen the philosopher.

AonDor

Aon Ehe is one of the most spectacular, useful, and awe inspiring of base Aons when used by an Elantrian. There are many Aons which have destructive or powerful effects, but none are as strong without modification as Aon Ehe.

Drawn simply, the Aon creates a column of flame, acting as a direct and primal conduit to the Dor itself. The diameter of the column depends on the size of the Aon drawn, and the direction the column is launched depends on the direction the Aon is facing. Often, this Aon is drawn on the floor so that a column of pure fire can be launched up into the air. The column is brief–only lasting a few seconds–but incredibly powerful.

With some enhancement modifiers, this Aon can be made to last longer. The pre-Reod AonDor scholars crafted lamps with flames that continued to burn no matter which way they were turned. They would even continue to burn beneath water. This Aon can be used in warfare, if necessary, though Aon Daa is generally a better weapon.

As a modifier, Aon Ehe can be used to create a ward that sets off other Aon chains. It provides one of the more useful tools in an AonDor practitioner’s repertoire, though the difficulty in drawing it can make it difficult to use for the less talented.

Brandon's Blog 2008 (April 25, 2008)
Quote

All Aons exist independent of humankind, their symbols inherently tied to their meaning, but few have distinct origin stories explaining how the Aon was first discovered. Some modern scholars scoff at such tales, but Aon Ehe’s origin myth is well known among the common people and believed by most.

And again. 

Spoiler

Brandon Sanderson

Aons are an interesting part of this book–perhaps my favorite of the world elements. If you think about the system I've set up, you'll realize some things. First, the Aons have to be older than the Aonic language. They're based directly off of the land. So, the lines that make up the characters aren't arbitrary. Perhaps the sounds associated with them are, but the meanings–at least in part–are inherent. The scene with Raoden explaining how the Aon for "Wood" includes circles matching the forests in the land of Arelon indicates that there is a relationship between the Aons and their meanings. In addition, each Aon produces a magical effect, which would have influenced its meaning.

The second interesting fact about the Aons is that only Elantrians can draw them. And Elantrians have to come from the lands near Arelon. Teoish people can be taken, but only if they're in Arelon at the time. Genetically, then, the Teos and the Arelenes must be linked–and evidence seems to indicate that the Arelenes lived in the land first, and the Teos crossed the sea to colonize their peninsula.

Only Elantrians can draw Aons in the air, so someone taken by the Shaod must have developed the writing system. That is part of what makes writing a noble art in Arelon–drawing the Aons would have been associated with Elantrians. Most likely, the early Elantrians (who probably didn't even have Elantris back then) would have had to learn the Aons by trial and error, finding what each one did, and associating its meaning and sound with its effect. The language didn't develop, but was instead "discovered."

There are likely Aons that haven't even been found yet.

Elantris Annotations (Feb. 14, 2006)
Quote

Most likely, the early Elantrians (who probably didn't even have Elantris back then) would have had to learn the Aons by trial and error, finding what each one did, and associating its meaning and sound with its effect. The language didn't develop, but was instead "discovered."

There are likely Aons that haven't even been found yet.

Designing the language won't make a symbol that works for the magic. It is inherently built into the geography. 

Now... I still think your idea would work, but it would require a massively advanced knowledge of AonDor (or the respective language on question you starting from).

Quote

DrogaKrolow

OK, I’ve got a question about AonDor.

Brandon Sanderson

Ok.

DrogaKrolow

So it's a lot like functional programing.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

DrogaKrolow

And my question is: could you write a higher-level language of programming with that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

DrogaKrolow

Oh...

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm. But. Only an Elantrian could make it, like, work, right? Not compile but could execute the function. They would have to type it out and execute it. Like if you were just-- Even if you just gave it to them, they would have to retype it and go. But yes, you could.

DrogaKrolow

Couldn't you like-- Is there an Aon for define, definition? So like you could go and define some really long sequence of Aons and then assign it to a simple shape.

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

DrogaKrolow

Then draw the symbol, and would it work?

Brandon Sanderson

Right right, object-oriented. This is realistically plausible, you would have to write all this stuff and call the function and have this constantly in a state of kinetic Investiture. But that is reasonable. I mean it's not so far off from things they actually did with much fewer-- much fewer lines of code, if you wish, in the past. It's what Elantris itself was.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview (March 17, 2017)

You could write out a sequence if code tied to a much simpler symbol. 

I don't see a way to avoid the regionalism of the magics access though. You need to use a symbol that ties into the local magic, regardless. That's why the idea of the moon scepter as a translation device, a Rosetta Stone as Brandon hs called it, is so appealing. 

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Sorry for taking so long to respond, its been a very draining few days emotionally. 

 

@Karger I'm not quiet following? I assume that it might be possible for one land to assimilate another, but I don't know if the entire planet could be combined into a single cognitive area with a single languages and expression. Is that what you meant?



@Calderis I like your example, basically its the Eval expression in a sense, or a macro. That definitely would be cool, and I'd like to see that. However, I don't think the objection necessarily applies to what I presented. The example you provided is mainly focusing on AonDor, and we are assuming rules for the other systems would be the same, which could well be the case, but isn't necessarily so. Though if it is hierarchical, then yes, no amount of cultural perception is enough to make a language into a magic system which isn't tied to the geography ahead of time work.

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1 hour ago, Ixthos said:

 I'm not quiet following? I assume that it might be possible for one land to assimilate another, but I don't know if the entire planet could be combined into a single cognitive area with a single languages and expression. Is that what you meant?

If everyone in the anon drawing community started using one system(the way all intellectuals in the middle ages used Latin) it sure would be convenient.

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1 hour ago, Karger said:

If everyone in the anon drawing community started using one system(the way all intellectuals in the middle ages used Latin) it sure would be convenient.

It probably would be convenient, but would it become a system in its own right? I suspect yes, but that is the main point of the question though :-P Or would the systems push back, making people only able to speak or use on language? That is the question - how far can cultures affect the magic and how far can the magic affect cultures?

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2 hours ago, Ixthos said:

It probably would be convenient, but would it become a system in its own right? I suspect yes, but that is the main point of the question though :-P Or would the systems push back, making people only able to speak or use on language? That is the question - how far can cultures affect the magic and how far can the magic affect cultures?

What if it got to the point where the system was only used in that language and snobs would not write about the subject in any other.  It would globalize things and make learning the language part of the initiation into the magic system.  I personally think that a common use language would actually most often be a bad idea for a word based system.  Something with a syntax more similar to coding might work better.

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2 minutes ago, Karger said:

What if it got to the point where the system was only used in that language and snobs would not write about the subject in any other.  It would globalize things and make learning the language part of the initiation into the magic system.  I personally think that a common use language would actually most often be a bad idea for a word based system.  Something with a syntax more similar to coding might work better.

I actually posted a topic a while ago about a verbal system on Sel - see here if you would like to read it - which addressed the idea of being able to do commands verbally. The main thrust of that and how it relates to this, however, is that as I noted earlier, each system seems to be unique in how it is done, and there is still a geographical component to each.

There is a body movement system, a drawing system, an anatomical system, and three stamp systems, plus others which we don't have information on. Combining them all together would mean a loss, so if all became ChayShan then there would be no more drawing systems. If the Rose Empire spread and all became part of it, then there would be no more body movement systems. Unless the entire planet becomes homogeneous, then there is little chance a single spoken language could replace all of them while remaining consistent in expression, but there could be a way for a supplemental system to enter into the existing dynamics. And again, we are assuming that the relationship isn't hierarchical, that geography isn't the deciding factor, but instead that cultural perception is at least as important.

Theoretically, all the systems do contain a programming component, its just that the syntax is very lax normally, but there is no reason someone couldn't formalise a method of using one system or a combination that isn't rigidly structured, it just wouldn't be the only way to use it.

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Considering we see geographic components to Aons, Stamps, and the Dakhor bone runes, I really don't think it's an isolated phenomenon. 

I don't think this is something human created or influenced at all.

AonDor is not an outlier, it's a subset of a single magic system. As such I don't think the pre-existing human independent nature of the components is in any way individual to Aons. 

I don't think those forms are going to always take the exact same type of expression. For example I have no idea how you would translate the geographic shape of the Jindo nation into the motions of ChayShan, but I don't think that makes those motions any more alterable by perception than the Aons are. 

Until we see evidence counter to what we have about the preexisting natures of the symbols, I just don't think this extent of change is possible.

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50 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Considering we see geographic components to Aons, Stamps, and the Dakhor bone runes, I really don't think it's an isolated phenomenon. 

I don't think this is something human created or influenced at all.

Are humans not influenced by their environments?  Enough that it may be hard to tell the difference between their perception of their environment and the actual environment's effects on them?

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1 hour ago, Karger said:

Are humans not influenced by their environments?  Enough that it may be hard to tell the difference between their perception of their environment and the actual environment's effects on them?

Did you miss the multiple WoBs I posted in my initial post in this thread? The symbols exist independent of human perception. 

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51 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Did you miss the multiple WoBs I posted in my initial post in this thread? The symbols exist independent of human perception. 

Just did.  Byebye goes my theory.

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