Cometary Tales All That Was Asked,Blog The names in “All That Was Asked”

The names in “All That Was Asked”

A cylindrical spacecraft with long solar panels spreading out on both sides.

In my previous post, I tried to explain how all those odd names ended up in my recently-published book and why I think it’s fun to play around with languages in the middle of a story.

So, what if you don’t really care about all that linquistic nonsense, but just want a guide to pronouncing stuff in this particular story?  In what follows, I’m going to share what I’ve prepared for the person doing our audio book.  On the surface, it may look daunting, but, really, it all hangs together with a few key elements:

Sensei, in Kanji
Source: japanesewithanime.com 
(CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • Lots of the names end in a shortened “ay” sound I’ve tagged here as ei. It sounds almost like a long ay, but is cut short like you were going to pronounce a “y” on the end, but stopped yourself just in time, “say” without that teensy “eeya” sound that wraps up that word. Sort of like “sensei” as pronounced in Japan, or at least in anime and Japanese TV shows.
  • In names ending in e, the final e is always sounded–usually as that shortened “ay” sound.
  • The exception is “ere”, which is ayr-ee, wherever it happens to fall, so some names end with ayr-ee, while some have that in the middle or at the beginning.
  • Children (or adults being teased as if they are children) or intimate friends get their names shortened with a bit of a stop in the middle, so Ansegwe becomes An-s-wei, and Kantalare becomes K-a-la-rei
  • As an example of the “translated words” system: the “aunts” are “awnts”, Brit/Northeast/Southern style, rather than Midwestern style “ants”.

Digression: How come I like weird names?  Well, jeepers, I’ve got one of my own, one that often gets pronounced weird, though I don’t care, really, I’ve heard ’em all.  The “correct” way is va-‘ness-uh ma-‘cla-ren-‘ray.  There are other pronunciations in use . . . but those are other Vanessas and other MacLarens. 

OK, here we go.  I’m not using really formal linguistic notation, but sound-shorthand that I think we all can follow. I put a single quote at the front of the stressed syllable in each word. 

  1. Our Main Characters

Varayla Ansegwe, Eskenyan Jemenga, Ensense Kantalare, Varaylas Ansele and Adeleke, and Haillyen.  These all appear frequently, though it takes a while for Kantalare to show up.  See how what we call “last names” (family names) come first, and “first names” (personal names) come second.

Wary, indeed.
Photo of sketch on wall, by Quinn Dombrowski, Berkeley, CA (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Varayla: Va-‘ray-la This one’s pretty phonetic, the tricky thing, from listening to auditions for our audio book, is that some people seem to read the “yla” as “lya”.  This reminds me of how people read the second half of my last name as “Wary” instead of “Wray”.  Don’t let it worry you, but if you prefer mispronouncing Varayla, just don’t go to Korlo. In the bad old days, you could earn a set of cement overshoes for mispronouncing that name to the wrong person.

Ansegwe: ‘ahn-seg-wei Our hero’s name is most likely to be mispronounced as on-‘seg-way, which is hilarious, as it makes me picture this enormous klutz trying to ride a Segway.  The first syllable should be said relatively slowly, so the second two click together fast, so that you almost lose the sound of the “e” in the middle: ahns’gwei. It has a kind of Japanese flavor to it.

Eskenyan: ess-‘ken-yan It sounds sort of like “a person from Kenya” (at least the way Americans say it) plus “Ess” in front of it.

Jemenga: ja-‘meng-uh When Jemenga is particularly pleased with himself, he really hits that middle syllable, so it’s like Ja-MENG-ah!

The Varayla Syndicate’s above-board operations include space-based solar power satellites.
(Not quite like this. This is NASA’s Solar-b satellite)

Ansele: ‘ahn-se-lei Tycoon aunt #1.

Adeleke: a-‘del-e-kei Tycoon aunt #2.

Haillyen: ‘hay-ul-lee-yen This is a “foreign” word to Ansegwe, so he’s basically phonetically “translated” it, the ‘y’ in the last syllable is a  bridge sound you get when putting ee and en together between the ee and the en.  Do ya get it? Yeah?  The reader should get it about 100 pages before Ansegwe catches on.

Ensense: en-‘sens-ei  You know, like, “sensei” with an “en” at the front.

Kantalare: kahn-tah-‘lahr-ei There’s a secondary stress on the first syllable.  Just make it sound pretty in your head.  Ansegwe is totally in love with her, so, whatever, hear her as beautiful

2. The people on the expedition

Some of these folks are only mentioned or quoted during the “expedition” chapters.

Tkonle: t-‘kawn-lei

Kulandere: koo-lahn-‘dayr-ee

Tekere: ta-‘kayr-ee

Tereinse: ‘tayr-ee-in-sei

Alekwa: ah-‘leek-wah

Nara: ‘nah-rah

Ensargen: en-‘sahr-gen It’s a hard g, as in “gun”, not a soft one as in “generation”. They don’t really use hard “g”

Korton: ‘kor-tun

Alawere: ah-la-‘wayr-ee

Tasegion: tah-‘seg-ee-on

Turame: too-‘rah-mei

3. People at home

Kateseo: ka-‘tay-see-oh

Kinshada: kin-‘shah-dah

Tumbal: ‘toom-bal

Erekulu: ayr-ee-‘koo-loo OK, this one isn’t a person, he’s a domesticated animal, so his name is a little goofy, meant to sound cute.

Tokal: toh-‘kahl

Ans’we: ‘ahn-se-wei This is a nickname for Ansegwe, used mostly by Kantalare, but also used by his expedition “friends” when they want to get on his case.

K’alare-: kah-‘lahr-ei This is a nickname for Kantalare, used by Ansegwe.

Az-dyel: ahz-dee-‘ell Note that this is another “foreign” word that Ansegwe has transcribed this way, so it’s pretty phonetic, the three syllables have almost equal stress, I hear just a little more on the last one, but you can feel more free to mess around with this one–it’s the ONLY word in this language that appears at all.

Eskewere: ess-ke-wayr-ee

Ensense Halense: en-‘sen-sei hah-‘len-sei This is a member of Kantalare’s extended family that they happen to run into at some point. 

4. List of authors. 

About two-thirds of the way through, someone gives Ansegwe a reading list, and the authors of the books are a mix of people from his world, one from outside his culture, and one (the last) he’s going to spend a lot of time with. I wouldn’t worry about these too much, but have fun with them.  Yeah, uh-huh, that’s intentional.

Asvelan Kulumbu: ‘ahs-veh-lahn  koo-‘loom-boo

Palawan Vejr: ‘pah-lah-wahn  vee-‘yay-zher

Trjia Qwijlian: ‘trr-zhee-ah  ‘kwizh-lee-ahn

Tsulander Tkonle: ‘Tzoo-lahn-der  T’kawn-lei

5. People in quotes.

Yeah, this is one of those books where each chapter opens with a quote from someone.  I picture these as remarks that people who know Ansegwe have made when interviewed about the events in the story.  Picture them sitting across the desk on their version of The Daily Show, chatting with their Trevor Noah.  Most of the quoted individuals made it into the final.  A few only get mentioned in these quotes.  These ones are mostly government officials.  Make them sound stuffy, self-important, and less-than-competent.

Insake Hailaware: ‘in-sah-kei  hai-uh-la-‘wahr-ei (For fussiness, there’s a secondary stress on first syllable in Hailaware. He will get all huffy if you miss that and maybe will find some minor infraction to write you up for.)

Elesennen Haileski: el-es-‘sen-en  hai-uh-‘les-kee

Kinsala Tkerelon: kin-‘sah-lah  T-‘kayr-ee-lon

6. Other words and place names.

The story takes place in a fairly limited set of “alien” geographic locations.  But I do have some place names included and there are a few other “thing” words that appear more than once.

The Kalinidor is something like this.
Alexander Fleming’s Nobel Prize (1945)
(Jemenga would discover penicillin if someone else hadn’t already.) Source: Science and Society Picture Library, London Museum of Science (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Korlo: ‘kor-low It simply sounds like “core” “low”.  This is Ansegwe’s country. 

Kalinidor: ka-‘lin-ee-dor This is a person’s name that’s become an object name–sort of like the Nobel Prize, well, actually, exactly like the Nobel prize.  Jemenga really really wants one of these.

Quazwallade: kwaz-‘wall-ah-dei  This is a place name, just a foreign country, one with some technological and cultural differences from Korlo.

Cignali: sig-‘nah-lee Let’s say that probably this was originally a person’s name, but now it’s the name of a famous university, think “Stanford”.

Utumwe: oo-‘tum-wei I told you there were academics in this story.  This is another university, a medical school actually, one that Jemenga lectures at, when they can get him.

Terende: ta-‘ren-dei  Another place name.

Tule: ‘too-lei Yep, place name. Doesn’t get much play, but even minor places count, says the writer who lives in a town that isn’t a proper town, just a collection of farms, houses, shops, and a gas station, that gets its own post office.

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It’s happening again…It’s happening again…

I can’t believe it myself.

So let me work up to it.

Long, long ago, when I was a horse-mad thirteen-year-old, we lived stranded in a one-street suburb of Montgomery, Alabama, where the only available equine companionship came in the form of a mare and foal pastured behind our house.  The mare was tolerant, not friendly, but not the type to pitch a fit when some kid squeezed through the barbed-wire fence to pamper her baby.  It helped that the colt wasn’t a baby anymore, to be sure.

Generally, I would manage to sneak out with an apple, which the young horse would snarf down with relish. Then he would snuffle at my pockets in hopes of seconds.  Horses are smarter than non-horsey people give them credit for.  Horses know what pockets are for. Pockets are containers for apples, carrots, crunchy horse treats, sometimes even a handful of grain, preferably sweet feed.  They do not care about the cries emanating from laundry rooms when mothers find pocket-loads of such goodies swirling in the wash.

One fine February day, I ventured out with only some small treat, nothing as appealing as an apple.  It was chilly, so I wore my new(ish) red coat.  And my pony friend bit me on the shoulder. Another thing non-horsey people may not know is that a horse can bite hard.  They fight with their teeth–stallions even have extra-sharp eye teeth for those battles that make the front covers of old cowboy paperbacks.

That bite hurt. It hurt bad. I was not so horse-crazy that I didn’t run home for help. I was lucky to be wearing that insulated jacket–all my friend gave me was an enormous bruise, as the coat distributed the impact nicely.  My mother was angry, scolding me for trespassing in the pasture but also clearly angry that the horse had hurt me.  I took his part, explaining–convincingly, I was sure–that he simply mistook the red, rounded curve of my shoulder for a big shiny apple.  It was my fault, I told her, for leading him to expect apples all the time and . . . most accurately, for turning my back on him.  I loved horses, but I’d been hanging around them since I was six, and I knew better.

Bear with me. I’m getting there.

We were living in Montgomery because my dad was attending the Air War College, an academic-style officer-training program. It’s very like a master’s degree program in strategy, analysis, all that sort of thing.  (My copy of Strunk and White is a discard from the library there, one my dad brought home for his aspiring-writer kid.) My mom grew up spending summers on “the farm”–her parent’s country get-away. My dad was a city boy through-and-through. Years later, I learned he was afraid of horses–that the thought of his kid galloping around on top of one of those monsters horrified him.

The War College program is only a year. One spring night, quite late, my parents stumbled into the house after some kind of semi-official party at the AWC.  They, or at least Dad, had had a really fun evening.  Really, really fun. My dad had received his next posting. As wing commander for a prestigious bomber wing. In North Dakota. We were moving to an air base where there was an on-base stable, in a state where horses were cheap to get and to keep.

“North Dakota is Rough Rider country, cowboy country,” my dad told me that night, his eyes bright and his grin much wider than usual. “So you can have a horse in North Dakota. Won’t that be great?”

When Dad sobered up, the next day, and recovered from his headache, the day after, Mom sat him down and told him what he’d promised me. And she held him to it. She wouldn’t let him back out of it.

So for the next four months, I thought to myself, over and over again, I’m getting a horse, I’m getting a horse, I’m getting a horse. 

It’s happening again. I may be ever so much older than twenty now, but I’m having all those same feelings  Though it’s not a horse this time.  It’s a book.  It’s my book. And it’s being published. For reals. For really reals.  In four months.

It’s about a couple of strangers who meet up and have some troubles understanding one another.

Cross-species friendships can be complicated.

The book is All That Was Asked.  It’s coming out from Paper Angel Press, a publisher based in San Jose, California. And it should be out in January of 2020.  In the meantime, check out all the other books that Paper Angel Press has available.

 

 

 

Welcome to Cometary Tales!Welcome to Cometary Tales!

This is a portion of space set aside for writing from both directions, inbound and outbound.

What?

Comets are, by their nature, exciting and unpredictable, which inspires both intriguing storytelling and curious scientific observation.

For starters, comets inbound to the sun unfurl their unique and mysterious tails behind them. This is charmingly artistic and seduces our reason as we watch them sail in from the outer reaches of the solar system like kites with their tails billowing.  So–some of this page is devoted to fiction, respecting science but allowing for poetic license in pursuit of insightful stories.

Outbound comets, on the other hand, demonstrate why we have to use our powers of observation if we want to understand the Universe. Before we can understand why the comet’s tail flies in front of it as it returns to the dark, we must first realize that a cometary tail is the result of the solar wind blasting particles free of the surface of the comet. So–some of the writing on this page is about science and mathematics and technology, aimed in particular at developing and applying the power of critical observation. Messy Monday Science Projects, the current work-in-progress, is a collection of hands-on, observation-based science projects for elementary- and middle-school students.

Meanwhile, throughout their lives, comets are bound by the laws of gravitation and their seemingly strange behavior is described by the science of orbital mechanics. We’ll also be writing specifically about astronomy, the latest in space discoveries, and the mathematics of objects in motion while also supporting Pixel Gravity, an accurate astronomical simulator that anyone (yes, even a scifi poet) can learn to use.

Secrets & MysteriesSecrets & Mysteries

For the rest of May and well into June, I’ll be reporting on a recent time-travel journey.  In real time, the trip took just over 300 hours.  We began with a quick jump of about 1 million years, but worked our way all the way back to the Pre-Cambrian, over 600 million years ago.  There were were twenty-one in our party at the outset, twenty when I left to return to the chaos of the latest millenium.  And seven went on to explore further, and I’ll always wonder what I missed. For now, that need will have to be satisfied by sharing the discoveries of that two-week expedition.

I may have to make some side trips into the future, as I’ve committed to attend BayCon 2013 (aka Triskaedekaphobicon).  Trading trilobite searches for autograph hunts.

 

 

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