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Spoken language and command based magic on Sel


Ixthos

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Hi guys :-)

On Sel magic is linked to two things - geography, and symbols, or if you prefer, language. Thus, investiture, land, and language are linked, and as is noted in Arcanum Unbounded, and Elantris's plot, changes in one will affect the other. Putting aside how this could mean changing the language could change the land - as while I think that this might be implied it also could be that the influence language has on land is less than the influence land has on language, and both have a stronger impact on magic than the later has on the two former - I think that there is at least one system on the planet which is based not on drawn symbols (or not just on symbols) but on spoken words.

I do see where this could have problems. The issue that this idea could be too similar to Awakening, yes, and also an issue with it being too similar to other fantasy with magic languages, with this causing issues in daily communication, and also the issue of symbols having to match sounds. But addressing those issues can be done. First, though, lets look at what this could add, and also precedent from both the Cosmere and other Sel systems.

 

Adding a command based system, or a spoken language system, could increase the diversity of systems on Sel. Most of the systems shown are based on physical symbols, but not all of them, and even those which are there is diversity, be it the symbols float in the air when an Elantrian draws them - aside from the inscribed plates - as well as Forgers carving seals and Dakhor bones.

There are two systems which can be argued to be unique in that the nature of the symbols they use is more ... abstract. ChayShan is not based on drawing symbols so much as it is on moving the body in patterns. I remember a TV show called Due South, which was about a Canadian Mountie working with a police detective from the United States, and one of the funniest scenes involves him using semaphore to communicate with a colleague a distance away. The colleague was being asked what she was doing very rudely by someone nearby who was very arrogant and domineering, and while the colleague was being insulted in the middle of communicating she hit the man harassing her while making it look like part of the semaphore, prompting the main character to ask her - still in semaphore - what she meant in the last section as it didn't make sense, and she replied that it was a typo. The point is that not all symbols need to be "drawn" to convey meaning.

The potion system is also an example, as it isn't know how the potions are invested, and even if it is a Sel system. So maybe the potions are made and then placed on symbols, or the ingredients are arranged in a symbol first, or that the order the ingredients are used is the symbol. Whatever the method, if it is native then it is linked to geography and language, and so is a mystery and could mean there are more ways of symbols being used, or language, which is more diverse than implied. If it is based on the order of ingredients, then it shows symbols can be used in a very abstract way.

The Cosmere has connection for language, no matter the planet, seem to default to the land the person trying to speak the language is on, though this might be because they don't know how to use connection yet to speak another land or planet's language. A spoken, region restricted language, would fit the existing precedent well, the connection to the land being more strongly mirrored in the language being restricted to that area.

Lastly on the ideas that could be used to argue for a spoken language system, is the size and diversity of Sel. Sel is very specifically the largest known inhabited planet, in order to have diverse cultures and so diverse magic systems. If a small region exists - or even the third so far unrevealed great domain - uses a radically different approach to the Rose Empire or Opelon, but still a language based one, it could increase the diversity of the planet.

 

Now, the issues.

First, on the issue of being too similar to Awakening. While this might sound a bit like Awakening, with the idea of having to say something to produce an effect, and thus would be a repeat of something seen elsewhere, I don't think that is the case, anymore than the other Selish systems requiring intent to draw them makes them the same as Awakening, or Aviar which can hide someones mind are a repeat of copper, or the various healing abilities are a repeat of each other, rather than functioning to show how different systems can use similar rules or different methods to achieve similar results. Awakening can be done anywhere, requires a resource one needs within themselves, drains colour, must be spoken in ones native language, and needs visualisation. It also must be performed on something - or someone - rather than spoken into the air. I think, as all systems use the same mechanics, it is possible for a spoken commands system to be used to, for example, heal someone at a distance, teleport, or shield from investiture used against someone, all things which if Awakening can do, would require it be used through the medium of a physical object, or by touching someone. Also, this system would need to be used in its home nation, and would only work on specific phrases, rather than any phrase that conveys the idea the Awakener is visualising, and might also require knowing the name of what is being affected, like in Earth Sea with knowing the name giving power, which is a belief in several real world mythologies and legends and beliefs.

Next, on being too similar to other fantasy with magic languages. Brandon has been doing twists on magic for a while. Allomancy is like drinking potions to fuel abilities, Surgebinding is like being a paladin, swearing oaths, and Elantris itself introduces a symbol based magic, a staple of fantasy. Awakening is similar to sympathetic magic. Just because it is similar doesn't make it unoriginal or boring or a cliche. I think Brandon can, using the rules underlying the other systems, make a spoken language system work, with the restrictions on it, the specific capabilities, the way it relates to other systems, and others. The superficial description of the system doesn't make it a run of the mill copy any more than the the Knights Radiant having to swear and keep their oaths makes them a copy of a paladin, or Sel's other systems requiring study and practice of drawing symbols makes them copies of other mages.

Next, issues in daily communication. How could this system work if every time you hope someone is well you actually heal them. Actually ... that wouldn't be a problem, but saying you wish someone broke their leg might actually break their leg. Or telling someone to go away might teleport them into the air. But this can be solved with three separate things, and possibly all of them.

  1. The first possible solution is actually something shown in Elantris - being initiated. Only Elantrians can use Aons, or draw them, and so only they can make the symbols. While we don't know the restrictions on becoming a Dakhor monk, only they can use their abilities. A class of people who can use the language might be something which has to be trained for, or only random people can use it, or gain it, possibly by being devoted to land and language, or wanting dominion over the skill.
  2. The second is intent. Intent is important in Cosmere systems, and Sel has an increased effect in that regard. Even if anyone from their region could do so, one would have to wish for the words to perform their effect. Maybe not visualise the effect, but rather to let the magic work when speaking. Another part could be sentence structure or the words used, which would need to be deliberately used.
  3. The third is the language itself. It could be that it is a forgotten language, a language fallen out of use. While this could be impossible, maybe the system works with whatever the native language is, and if it changes the system changes to - which would match what Arcanum Unbounded implied. But it also could be that a forgotten language a certain class of people still remember is the required language to use, and so it is still viable, and only a few know how to use it.

Last, symbols having to match sounds. What would link the sounds to the geography? Written symbols make sense, but spoken words? This is the most difficult to solve. Elantris symbols have meaning in language, and in Elantris at least some of the symbols gain their meaning - at least in part - from the geography, with Dii having a circle in it linked to the forests in the Arelon, though if the forests determined the placement of the circle, or the circle the region a forest would grow is not clear, but most likely the former. So if written symbols can be linked to geography and to meaning via that geography, what about spoken words? There are a few possibilities. One is that the language is grounded to geography via the symbols used in writing it, and so there is a written language as a connection, and so not only spoken words, but those symbols can also be used. Another is that, like cymatics, the frequencies of the sounds could relate to symmetrical patterns, so the actual sounds are tied to the geography by the way their affect objects. Another, related, could be caverns in the area which produce sounds that the people have given meaning, so it is the sounds from the geography itself that are the language. And lastly, it could be that the shards, before being splintered, actually taught this language to a people, and so it is linked more directly to the magic than the land, important because it was the bases before the Dor formed. The issue isn't that there aren't solutions, the issue is that there are several, but not all are very robust arguments as to what is happening. But any of them or all could be the solution, like the shards, before Odium got to them, gave a language to a people, which they did so through sounds in caverns, which also produce cymatic effects, which also match the geography and were written down as symbols.

 

I'll close of this section with a last note before the summary. Part of Elantris is based on the relation between Mandarin and Hangul. Brandon gave a speech about the story of Hangul's origins, which is a great story. There is, however, an important point to note from that. Actually several, but not focusing on how this could tie into the idea of an artificial language being made later to unify the different systems. The idea is that the strength of the Chinese writing system is that a symbol can convey a meaning rather than a sound, and so scholars on different sides of China would be able to write to each other and communicate, but neither could speak the language of the other. The strength of the Roman (or Greek, or rather just Western) writing system is that it conveys sounds, and the meaning is based on those sounds. A French man could write something and I would not be able to know what he is saying, but I would be able to, at least in part, pronounce it. The French man probably wouldn't think I was doing so correctly though. The weakness of the Roman system - inability to communicate with someone who doesn't know the language - plays to the strength of the Chinese. And the Chinese system's weakness - needing to know all the symbols - plays to the strength of the Roman - only a few symbols needed to convey a sound, and so only a few symbols needed to know.

So far the symbols used and shown are of the Chinese idea, unique symbols for a unique meaning. It is not impossible that a system exists on the planet with a Roman or Western approach, with few symbols conveying a sound. And it could be that that system is used for a spoken language system. Or another form of drawn symbols. Either way, if the region is a small one, or the other great domain, it could be an interesting twist on the exceptions of how Sel's systems are manifest.

 

 

So a system with spoken words having meaning, and stringing sentences together to produce results could be a system on Sel, allowing those who learn the various valid sentences to produce particular effects so long as they are in their home region and pronounce them properly. This could also be in contrast to Awakening which can be done anywhere, requires visualisation but otherwise can work with any sentences used, and requires speaking ones own native tongue. A twist on the idea of a magic language and knowing the true name of something, with a link to being in the same region the language came from, and the written form of the language, and also a twist on the idea that the language part only applies to symbols.

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The problem here is that it does only apply to the symbols, because the Focus of Sel's magic is forms. (with a bit of a caveat) 

Quote

Questioner

Before Sel's Shards were Splintered, were the Investitures there still form-based?

Brandon Sanderson

Umm... yes.

Questioner

Is "form-based" the right word we should use for that?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's not really. The are all, in my head, programming-based. They are sequences. But of course, the difference being, with the true programming, the form doesn't matter, it's the numbers. And in this case the form does. The actual depictions aver very influential. So, it is not just a magical programming.

source

The shapes that form the Aons exist independently of humans and predate their use as a "language." 

Quote

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.

source

The Aons "meanings" were ascribed to them based on their effects. 

For a magic system on Sel to be spoken would require the form to be incorporated somehow... 

It's not impossible, but I think it would be very difficult and complicated to even discover. 

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1 hour ago, Ookla, the Hivemind said:

The problem here is that it does only apply to the symbols, because the Focus of Sel's magic is forms. (with a bit of a caveat) 

The shapes that form the Aons exist independently of humans and predate their use as a "language." 

The Aons "meanings" were ascribed to them based on their effects. 

For a magic system on Sel to be spoken would require the form to be incorporated somehow... 

It's not impossible, but I think it would be very difficult and complicated to even discover. 

I see your point, but it is addressed in part by the forth objection, that of grounding the sounds.

I noticed that in the quote you gave, and as you yourself note with the use of the word caveat, Brandon didn't propose to call it form based. Rather, after a hesitation, he agreed that form based kind of works, but doesn't actually address what it actually is - patterns. It is about patterns and sequencies, and is programming based. It is language - the vehicle of conveying an idea, regardless of the symbol used - if the idea is linked to a symbol, then the symbol works, but the symbol only has meaning in the idea it is linked to.

Arcanum Unbounded's essay addresses the idea of the investiture infusing the ground and being linked to the cognitive realm, but also, and this is interesting, suggests that Devotion and Dominion, before being splintered, had influenced the languages and cultures on the planet. If they had given a language to a people ... or if the sounds actually are based on sounds that the ground itself makes ... 

I do agree it is a bit of a stretch, and I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't a system on Sel, that all require the physical placement of something, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it actually did have a language, maybe an old language in an isolated and small area, or a people who remember the past and who have a hidden second language from the distant past that they use for magic.

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Like I said, I don't think it's impossible...

The level of detail if it is sound based seems like it would be crazy though. Tone? Pronunciation? Vibrato? What all would and wouldn't have an effect? Aons are exacting. I wouldn't expect this to be any less so.

Edit: and the tie in to the geography would be much more difficult. 

Edited by Ookla, the Hivemind
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1 hour ago, Ookla, the Hivemind said:

Like I said, I don't think it's impossible...

The level of detail if it is sound based seems like it would be crazy though. Tone? Pronunciation? Vibrato? What all would and wouldn't have an effect? Aons are exacting. I wouldn't expect this to be any less so.

Edit: and the tie in to the geography would be much more difficult. 

That raised the question with Aons as well, though. Do they require a specific font, and when placed on a plate, a specific thickness or depth? The chasm line was in a different "font" to the rest of Elantris when it was added. The way Aon Aon is drawn also includes it tapering off at the edges - does this have to be added? If it is slightly off does the effect diminish rapidly, or slowly?

I suspect with a spoken method what would matter would be pronunciation - a deep voice and a high pitched voice would probably both work, but a hint of accent would weaken it.

The geography tie could be more tenuous, true, but it ultimately depends on how the sounds are tied to the geography, or if they are more tied to the magic due to its age, before the splintering occurred. 

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For what it's worth, I don't think that whatever systems existed under Dominion and Devotion would have survived at all. 

Their system should have been set up like all the others we've seen in the basic format. Whatever programming base it started with should have been worldwide, and drawn off of either a physical manifestation of Investiture, or directly from the Shards in the Spiritual. The reassignment of that Investiture into the Cognitive Realm should have broken any preexisting system. 

I believe that all of Sel's regional systems are developments post splintering. 

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On 12/19/2018 at 4:28 AM, Calderis said:

For what it's worth, I don't think that whatever systems existed under Dominion and Devotion would have survived at all. 

Their system should have been set up like all the others we've seen in the basic format. Whatever programming base it started with should have been worldwide, and drawn off of either a physical manifestation of Investiture, or directly from the Shards in the Spiritual. The reassignment of that Investiture into the Cognitive Realm should have broken any preexisting system. 

I believe that all of Sel's regional systems are developments post splintering. 

Ahhh - I see the confusion. I'm not arguing that an old magic system survived, though we have two examples in the Cosmere of worlds with magic systems whose shards were splintered, and for Roshar Honour still remains in pieces (the system did rely on those pieces anyway) and Surgebinding remains (though again it might also be because Surgebinding is also linked to another shard, much like if Ruin were splintered, would Feruchemy change, for example) while on Threnody Ambition actually left before being splintered, so the apparent loss of its system - and that is assuming it actually is lost - could be from the shard leaving. I do agree that a magic system would be warped or altered, but that is not my point.

My argument for one possible reason a spoken language might persist - and I emphasis one possible reason, as there are several - is that Devotion and Dominion shaped the cultures and languages before being splintered, or Khriss says she thinks they did. Those languages and cultures would be connected to the shards, even splintered - their connection would persist, unless splintering also breaks ties to other objects in the spiritual, which is possible. Nevertheless, a language or culture with an existing connection to the shards is a language already linked to the magic - not a magic system, but the shards. That could have served as a point for a new system - or the remnants of the old - to congeal around. The existing spiritual bond those people have or had with the shards. Geography, language, and magic, all link.

Of course, it could be that every language and culture on Sel was seeded and influenced by them, and so no people would have a stronger connection, and in fact all systems have a root in the language and culture the shards influenced, making no-one more important. Or it only matters based on geography. But if Scadrial is an example, it is possible for the shards to favour a people on a planet - the Terris - with certain distinctions, even if they are involved with the whole planet.

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17 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Language unlike symbols is linear. You can use it to describe symbols, but not really to represent it. It seems to me that Selish magic is programming, but programming closer to how you programm an FPGA rather than a CPU.

I disagree - language is symbols in the form of sounds, while a letter is a symbol in the form of graphics. In fact, in programming symbols are used to encapsulate data structures in a manner that is easier to understand. The symbol used doesn't matter, only the idea it is connected to. There is no reason why a string of binary bits has to be represented by lines - and remember ChayShan, it can also be bodily movements - and not also by a string of sounds. A program itself is stored as a linear string, and can be opened in a notepad, albeit a linear string which has addresses can jump around within itself based on internal references and conditions. A book is a linear string, but a choose your own adventure novel includes instructions in that string on where to look.

There is no reason that it can't be both - both describing the circuit and describing the procedure. In fact, I don't see how the Selish system seems more like programming an FPGA than a CPU - it performs operations such as "produce fireball", "transmute material into food", "teleport", and "heal this person." i..e changing the value of "registers" based on conditions, with the registers being the state of items in the physical world. It is implied that it can be linked to conditional statements, and if it can also store and retrieve information, I don't see how it differs from a Turing complete programming language. In what way do you compare it to programmable logic?

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6 hours ago, Ixthos said:

There is no reason that it can't be both - both describing the circuit and describing the procedure. In fact, I don't see how the Selish system seems more like programming an FPGA than a CPU - it performs operations such as "produce fireball", "transmute material into food", "teleport", and "heal this person." i..e changing the value of "registers" based on conditions, with the registers being the state of items in the physical world. It is implied that it can be linked to conditional statements, and if it can also store and retrieve information, I don't see how it differs from a Turing complete programming language. In what way do you compare it to programmable logic?

Language and execution in a CPU are linear. While all modifiers to an Aon operate on the same  You can simulate that via a state machine, but by all indications simultaneous operations are inherent in Selish magic ans sequential operations require extra work.

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Just now, Oltux72 said:

Language and execution in a CPU are linear. While all modifiers to an Aon operate on the same  You can simulate that via a state machine, but by all indications simultaneous operations are inherent in Selish magic ans sequential operations require extra work.

Aons can be carved into plates and activated with a push. Just because each Aon activates immediately when drawn does not mean they can't be activated after the fact in another form. Also modifier Aons exist. The stamps Forgers use also encode a lot of information which is activated when pressed, and can be linked to one another. The stamp she made for the Emperor's soul itself was able to encode for growth.

It is indicated that Aons can be chained together, and can activate one another. A series of plates could be networked to function as a repeatable program which responds to external conditions. Either way, Sel has systems which resemble discreet operations and which can be chained together to operate on one another output. A spoken language can likewise be used to describe the source of another program - Sel's systems are deliberately structured like code - each command a function, rather than a logic gate. I don't doubt that it could be written as logic, plates designed to function as an ALU or control path, but as presented it is supposed to be more like a program executed by a CPU, rather than a description of computer archetecture.

Extra work seems a little vague when any operation requires symbols based on whole sentences - remember, we also see Forging.

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14 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

Aons can be carved into plates and activated with a push. Just because each Aon activates immediately when drawn does not mean they can't be activated after the fact in another form. Also modifier Aons exist. The stamps Forgers use also encode a lot of information which is activated when pressed, and can be linked to one another. The stamp she made for the Emperor's soul itself was able to encode for growth.

Well, we are on thin ice. However I note that the modifier aon does not come with an ordering Aon. If you wanted, to give an example, heal a gut wound.you would in effect say gut + heal. There is no visible grammar that makes sure that 'gut' becomes active before 'heal'. In a sequential model that would be necessary. Now technically an Aon being a modifier could imply that it has to be executed first. So we would need to look at at least two independent Aons being combined.
And there we lack examples. But note that the list of Aons has no obvious grammatical elements.

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12 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Well, we are on thin ice. However I note that the modifier aon does not come with an ordering Aon. If you wanted, to give an example, heal a gut wound.you would in effect say gut + heal. There is no visible grammar that makes sure that 'gut' becomes active before 'heal'. In a sequential model that would be necessary. Now technically an Aon being a modifier could imply that it has to be executed first. So we would need to look at at least two independent Aons being combined.
And there we lack examples. But note that the list of Aons has no obvious grammatical elements.

We don't yet know the syntax and grammar of a complex Aon - or any other system - program. For a simple sentence, a simple command, as you noted, could have an implicit sequence. In Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs the direction you read it from is determined by the direction the heads are facing. It isn't impossible that Aons have this same sort of structure, where once the command is to be executed, one is is finished being written, the symbols automatically, based on where they have been drawn, activate in the correct sequence, or refer to one another while activating. Heal might only activate one given the instruction for where it is to heal, or if it is drawn after gut it then uses gut. It also could be that a more complex program uses as yet unshown Aons which describe a sequence, with other Aons embedded within it. And again, we know from Forgery that certain sections encode information, such as the favourite colour, or if they like fish and why, implying that there is a structure in the more complex examples of uses of Sel's systems.

We haven't been shown all the Aons, and as demonstrated by Brandon when talking about Hangul and the circumstances of its origin, there could be thousands of symbols for each idea. We haven't been shown the more advanced uses of Aons yet, and the list of known Aons is incomplete, so it is impossible to say which Aons exist which could change or interact with others in order to better encode them as programs, like a very large symbol in which other symbols are then embedded, where they are embedded determining their sequence, or a symbol like a branch, with others as leafs or at nodes. Either way, Brandon has said that he wrote the Sel systems as programming languages, and so we should not rule out what they can do or how they can be structured based on what was shown in Elantris when Emperor's Soul showed that one can actively design them to interact with internal and external references, self modification, and sequential operations (as in the hidden code which would push Ashravan to become the Emperor he should have been, to read his journal and see where he can return to the way he had initially started).

 

To bring this back to the main topic - a spoken language can perform all the functions of a written one (the fact that source code can be read indicates this), and ChayShan and possibly the potion system indicate that the symbols used don't necessarily need to be written down. Symbols are what matter, and grounding the sounds, while a potential issue, is not an impossible one. Aons and Forgery indicate a geographic form of grounding the symbols to ideas, but not much is known about how the others relate to geography, and it is not impossible for the grounding to be tied to the original languages and cultures from before Devotion and Dominion were splintered.

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On 12/21/2018 at 9:20 AM, Ixthos said:

We don't yet know the syntax and grammar of a complex Aon - or any other system - program. For a simple sentence, a simple command, as you noted, could have an implicit sequence. In Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs the direction you read it from is determined by the direction the heads are facing. It isn't impossible that Aons have this same sort of structure,

That unfortunately seems to be pretty impossible. The Aons are too symmetrical for that to work.

On 12/21/2018 at 9:20 AM, Ixthos said:

 

where once the command is to be executed, one is is finished being written, the symbols automatically, based on where they have been drawn, activate in the correct sequence, or refer to one another while activating. Heal might only activate one given the instruction for where it is to heal, or if it is drawn after gut it then uses gut. It also could be that a more complex program uses as yet unshown Aons which describe a sequence, with other Aons embedded within it. And again, we know from Forgery that certain sections encode information, such as the favourite colour, or if they like fish and why, implying that there is a structure in the more complex examples of uses of Sel's systems.

Forgery by rewriting history must have a sequence of events.

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20 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

That unfortunately seems to be pretty impossible. The Aons are too symmetrical for that to work.

Forgery by rewriting history must have a sequence of events.

Ahhh, but not all of them are symmetrical in the same way - Aon Aha, Ashe, Ata,  Ati, Daa, etc. are bilaterally symmetrical, some horizontally, other vertically, while others are rotationally symmetric. A bilaterally symmetrical one could have a space at the top/one side, or apply to the Aon right above it/to one side, which triggers first, followed by the Aon below/on the other side, or use a conditional statement to determine it it triggers the top Aon or the bottom/Aon on one side or the other. Basically, an Aon alone the line of symmetry could be triggered in a sequence or conditionally triggered. Even rotationally symmetric Aons could work if it starts at the top and then moves clockwise or counter clockwise.

 

I agree with Forgery having a sequence, and my point is that Aons probably do as well, though it isn't impossible that there are systems which can't encode for it. I think that Aons can though.

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Apologies for breaking the current line of discussion but could it be possible, in your opinion, for a speech-based magic to be based on the shape and position of the tongue? (Potentially including the lips as well) It's that which decides what sounds we produce, is it not?

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2 hours ago, Agent34 said:

Apologies for breaking the current line of discussion but could it be possible, in your opinion, for a speech-based magic to be based on the shape and position of the tongue? (Potentially including the lips as well) It's that which decides what sounds we produce, is it not?

That could work :-) If that were the case it could probably be based off of different cliffs, or the way certain waves form off the coast - it is a good potential solution or other method of grounding the sounds. Good idea!

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On 12/24/2018 at 3:39 AM, Ixthos said:

That could work :-) If that were the case it could probably be based off of different cliffs, or the way certain waves form off the coast - it is a good potential solution or other method of grounding the sounds. Good idea!

Glad you think so :). Based on waves forming would certainly be interesting but I feel it'd be too mutable compared to other magics. Assuming this line of inquiry holds any weight I'd put my money on the cliffs, hopefully nothing on the coast formed through erosion or else there might be a Reod 2.0 (so to speak). 

The problem of daily communication still presents itself though and as much as I'd want a second, magical language Intent seems like the divider. The books written in Aons certainly didn't spew fire after all.

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I'm definitely on board with this. The actual source of the symbols could be any number of sources - the shape of the mouth, vibrations of the vocal cords, the way the vibrations in the air hit objects (imagine if, to make this work, you had to speak at some sort of device that conducted the sound waves well). The only problem I personally have with it is that Sanderson definitely tends to come up with novel magic systems and while I'm sure he could come up with a clever twist on the classic spoken command system, I'm not sure he would want to.

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On 12/27/2018 at 2:36 PM, Agent34 said:

(so to speak). 

:-P 

For Aon books, that might be because of how the magic is intended to be accessed - either a non-Elantrian wrote them, or an Elantrian wrote them without the intent of making the Aon work. Other systems might have different issues though! Forgery could become interesting if later formalised examples are literally stamped into a book, only without the setting mark, but one day someone accidentally used a seal with the setting mark in place, and the seal matched the books history a little too well, and the book was accidentally turned into fire ... thanks Shallan!

 

@tmnsquirtle Agreed - it does seem to be more restrictive than other types. I think that making it region dependent, require a very specific syntax, like literally saying a computer program, and so needing to know the handle of everything involved might distinguish it, but its also possible Brandon could also heavily restrict the number of possible things it could do, or need to be read directly from a book to make it work.

It doesn't need to be majorly distinguished - just a little.

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