CCC - Č'irah history : The golem of S'amro

Substantial postings about constructed languages and constructed worlds in general. Good place to mention your own or evaluate someone else's. Put quick questions in C&C Quickies instead.
Post Reply
Mornche Geddick
Posts: 370
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 4:22 pm
Location: UK

CCC - Č'irah history : The golem of S'amro

Post by Mornche Geddick »

A discovery

In the year 900, na̤̤Č'ira miners digging in the Western hills for copper found a natural limestone cave system with an underground river. The caves were huge and spectacular, with uncountable stalactites and stalagmites, and stranger and weirder forms created by the action of dripping water over the aeons. The river bed went over two underground waterfalls and in the biggest cave of all, with a frozen waterfall of precipitate rock five thirty feet high, a strange figure was seated.

It was a marble statue, carved in the shape of a male human in a flowing robe, with a curly beard, like a Greek Zeus, and in its stone hands it held a stone scroll.

As the miners watched, it turned its head to look at them, and its lips parted as if to speak. Then it closed them and leaned back slightly, as though it had thought better of it.

It did that often. Sometimes it would partially unroll the scroll it had in its hands, or change it from one hand to the other. Then it would stop moving, and "set" in its new position, a solid marble statue again.

The Č'ira̤̤ took over the caves as the shrine of their twin Gods of Healing, K'iw̥are and K'ijuro. Legends soon grew up about the statue which looked at people; it had been created and left behind by the Ancients, the Ḵsīnesīr who had inhabited the land long before the Č'ira̤̤ discovered it. The statue had magic powers waiting to be tapped by the great. It could speak, but only the wise could hear.

A Chomskyan golem

Fifty years after the founding of S'amro, the golem suddenly began to speak.

It had been listening to what was being said all round it all that time, recording and collecting data. It had not been able to understand the Č'iramṳ language at first, but when it had assembled a large enough collection of morphemes it began analysis for syntax and morphology. Using its centuries-old programming (which included a comprehensive array of alternative grammars) it determined that the language the new people spoke was agglutinating, prefixing, and had extensive noun concord system. It had considered all the possible permutations of SVO, SOV, VSO, OSV, VOS and OVS and the various possibilities for morphosyntactic alignment that were in its database. Finally once it felt it had a model grammar that fitted all the data, it began tests.

The Č'ira̤̤ priests and pilgrims were astonished, overawed, and then overjoyed. It was what everyone had been secretly wishing for, but had lost hope. Imagine their stupendous amazement when they found it was willing to answer questions. In no time at all, the golem was established as the Oracle of S'amro.

The mind of a golem

The golem's name in its original language was Nruʃaɸusex. The Č'iramṳ version is Inrušap'us'ekasa̤̤, and the meaning in English, "Encyclopedia".

Apart from yearly meals of marble, alabaster and porphyry, Encyclopedia knows only two desires, to impart from his store of knowledge, and to add to it. If you go to the shrine and bring a costly sacrifice (preferably a white bull, but black or red, or kids or lambs will also be accepted) the priests will bring you into the great cave itself to ask your question of Encyclopedia. You will be privately instructed in how to ask your question, and in the manners you should adopt (for example, you will need a purifying bath beforehand, and if you are a munkee your tail should not touch the floor either on the way in or on the way out). When you come to ask, you must use this form of words:

"I am a seeker after instruction: tell me of X".

"X" is of course, whatever you wish counsel or knowledge of. Encyclopedia will then give a short speech, about five or ten minutes long, on the topic you have named. Then the priests will interpret it. This is necessary, because Encyclopedia will use many unfamiliar terms.

Here is an example: a lord who wished to know how he should build a stone palace was advised to say "I am a seeker after instruction: tell me of stone".

Encyclopedia replied "Stone is another name for rock, which is a naturally occurring aggregate of minerals. The planet's outer crust is composed of rocks of various types, which fall into three categories, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic... etc".

The priest explained "When the God i-Č'axʷas created the world, he gave the ground to his three servants i-Ganejas, i-Sadimari and i-Mit'arikas. i-Ganejas melts ore in his giant furnace, and pours it out to form the mould for the earth. i-Sadimari grinds the mould to powder and then spreads it out, using the river as a rake. i-Mit'arikas, who is the wisest of the three selects the best of i-Ganejas and i-Sadimari's work and heats them in his own furnace to create marble. That is why marble is the noblest of the stones, fit for the palace of a great lord."

The lord replied "O priest, how wonderful it must be to be enlightened and understand all that dark speech!"

As you can see, Encyclopedia is not necessarily successful in imparting his knowledge to the new people, given the way the interpreters distort his words. They can't really help it, partly because they don't really understand what he is saying themselves, and partly because the pilgrims often don't really want high school geology, but predictions and omens. It is not easy to find out what he thinks of this state of affairs. It may well be that he doesn't, or rather, can't care. His is to give knowledge, what the people do with it is no concern of his.

Every so often, Encyclopedia will look directly at a priest or a pilgrim, and unroll his scroll. Then he will say. "Now you too must speak. Tell me of ....". Then you must talk on the subject he names, until he raises his hand and gives you permission to leave off, saying "Thank you, I have heard enough".

Encyclopedia's main criterion for good data seems to be consistency with his previous model of knowledge. If some of his sources (including previous pilgrims!) disagree, he will be honest and say so.

Even under these limitations, people have learnt useful things from Encyclopedia. One miner, paying attention to what Encyclopedia was saying on the subject of copper, went out to look for tin ore, and thus bronze was discovered.

Encyclopedia does sometimes show emotion, but only when he feels his own identity to be threatened. When the Lulweon armies were approaching S'amro, he suddenly said to the high priestess of the time,

"Tell me of Lulweon; what would they do if I fell into their hands?"

"We do not know, Holy Inrušap'us'ekasa̤̤, but we think they would hollow you out and put a prisoner inside you."

Encyclopedia sat silently for a moment, then raised his voice in outrage.

Ipoka̤̤'ramṳʝida raine raçunase me̤̤samaza šegʷaši?!
"Would they take away my knowledge and make me a CAGE?!"

He added that he would rather be utterly destroyed.

Post Reply