Jack's picture

In reviewing the languages list for Venarive, I did not see Orbaalese. (Though as my past postings have noted, that doesn't mean it's not there - I skim too much sometimes.) Personally, I don't miss it. The notion that a hybrid Ivinian/Jarin language developed in a mere seventy or eighty years always seemed farfetched to me. After all, French was the official language of the Norman English court for many, many years after the invasion and conquest of 1066, but there was never a pidgin of French and English spoken to the best of my knowledge. History would doubtless provide more examples if I weren't too lazy to go looking.

However, I'm trying to develop an understanding of "Trade Ivinian". I know it's similar to the language of Chelemby (Cheler) and that most international mercantile types have at least a passing knowledge of it.

(At this point, I'm reminded of one of the first scenes in "The Thirteenth Warrior" where after several attempts, the Arabs and the Scandinavians settle on Greek to communicate.)

I know that Robin was strongly opposed to the notion of "Common". So, just how limited is Trade Ivinian? What terms would it be likely to include? (Numbers, weights and measures, trade terms, location and date and time references all seem likely for a trade tongue.) What concepts would it seem unlikely to be able to cover? Can two men with no other shared language use Trade Ivinian to negotiate bride price (requires terms for marriage as well as price)? Form a tributary relationship (requires terms for allegiance as well as tribute)? Challenge each other to combat (requires terms for hostilities as well as location and time)?

Edited: I just did some reading online and learned that while the original Lingua Franca of Europe was an amalgamation of Italian (primarily, 80% or so) and other languages such as Arabic and Spanish, most lingua francas through the ages have been actual languages that spread beyond their original borders. (English, for example, has long been the lingua franca of aviation.) I also double-checked Venarive and it describes Trade Ivinian as similar to Cheler, but with even more foreign terms thrown in. That would suggest that Trade Ivinian is an amalgation of Cheler (primarily) and other languages (Quarphic and Shorka come to mind), correct?

Lingua Franca is an Italian phrase that loosely translates as "language of the Franks"; all Western Europeans were generically referred to as Franks once upon a time. It would seem that "Trade Ivinian" would be the English translation of the Cheler words for trade or language and Ivinian or Cheler. Is Cheler sufficiently well-developed that we know the words for trade or language?

Many thanks for your input!

Balesir's picture

Not really answering your question (sorry!), but... write: "After all, French was the official language of the Norman English court for many, many years after the invasion and conquest of 1066, but there was never a pidgin of French and English spoken to the best of my knowledge."

Modern English sort-of gives the lie to this, and indicates a development of Anglo-Saxon dialects to include a lot of (medieval Norman) French terms. Most famously, and perhaps revealingly, the modern English terms for meat animals (i.e. when it is in the field, being herded) derive from Old English - cow ('kuhe'), sheep ('scep') and swine ('swyn') - whereas the meat on the plate as it is served is described by words derived from Norman French - beef ('boef'), mutton ('mouton') and pork ('porc').

Orbaalese I envisage as basically Jarinese with plenty of import words from Ivinian - especially words for thralls, food, menial jobs and work instructions!

Fástred's picture

Trade Ivinian / Common

As you say: "I know that Robin was strongly opposed to the notion of 'Common'.", and in that you are correct. But being opposed to notion of a 'common' language spread across a vast region and many peoples does not mean Robin was opposed to the notion of a 'lingua franca', a "third party" language, as it were, used by those engaged (particularly) in international trade.

The dominant role played by "Ivínans" in trade across Venârivè was described as far back as the Ivinia Regional Module: "The Ivinians are the dominant traders of the northern world". The Chelemby Kingdom material further developed this, by noting that the Chéler were the leaders amongst the "Ivinian" traders. The 'kántehusen' (trading outpost) system (modeled loosely, as for a number of things Chéler, on the 'kontor' of the Hansa), demonstrates how widespread the Chéler are.

But the Chéler are by no means the only "trading Ivínians", and the reach of the "Ivínians" (or those of Ivínian decent) is vast. There are "Ivínians" in the trading towns of Reksýna, in Hèpekéria, and even in Karéjia. Just like the "Franks" (aka Normans), the Ivínians are all over the place, and their links to trade mean their language is a useful medium of communication amongst traders across the region.

As for your second question: "So, just how limited is Trade Ivinian?", the answer is 'it depends' :)

"Trade Ivínian" isn't really a 'single' language; what "it" is will vary across the region. It will take "Ivínian" as a base, but will include a variable number of 'local' terms. The terms that are likely to be 'common' across the region are those of most importance to trade, of course.

The reasons the Chéler language and "Trade Ivínian" are so closely associated are that:
a) Chéler is *already* a relatively polyglot version of "Ivínian", having incorporated terms from Járind, Shôrka, and even Azéri due to the history of Chélemby.
b) the Chéler are the most widespread of all the Ivínian traders, and maintain a network of contacts that links back to a central hub (Chélemby), so terms and concepts get shared around comparatively well.

There are (at least!) two terms for "trade" in Chéler (given its polyglot nature, and the importance of trade, that's not surpirsing): "stíling" and "kántè". The first refers to 'exchange', while the second as a meaning closer to 'negotiate', 'deal' and 'bargain'. The terms for "speech" and "tongue" are "tâl" and "kúgemål" respectively. "Kántâl" would be a good term for "Trade Ivínian" *in* Trade Ivínian :)

Hope this helps.


Jack's picture

Kantal = bargaining speech .

Kántâl (KAHN-tarl) = bargaining speech . . . Oh, I like the sound of that.

Balesir, you CLEARLY have an education that goes far beyond mine. LOL But it's extremely interesting that the words for the animals herded by the English peasants come to us from Old English and the words for the meats served to their Norman lords come to us from French.

I still don't like Orbaalese. I herey banish it from my pHarn . . . ;-) But Kántâl is IN!

Thanks, guys.

McBard's picture

Orbáaler as a creole

I really like using the word Kántâl rather than Trade Ivinian, as well, Jeremy. Very cool.

Jack, before banishing Orbáaler from your PHarn (btw, it does appear in Venârivè—p.110 and 183), consider the following: there's been fairly common real-world precedence for a distinct languages to evolve in time on the order of the 80 years of Orbáaler--they're called pidgins and creoles.

Essentially, pidgins evolve out of two or three groups of speakers who don't share a common language (I suppose Kántâl would be a pidgin, come to think of it). Often (although not always) a pidgin becomes a creole when parents teach the pidgin to their children as their native, first language.

In terms of the timeline of Orbaal, as of 720 there has been, what?, three or four generations? The first spoke different languages (Ivinian and Jarin); the second developed a pidgin as adults (but always used it as a second language); and then the third and fourths developed a creole called Orbáaler as their native, first language.

Perhaps a simplification, but I'm not sure it's all that off base.

Fástred's picture

Kántâl... now official

I've incorporated 'Kántâl' in the latest update of Venârivè, as well as the Venârivè and Chéler Player Guides.



Jack's picture

I looked through those lists

I looked through those lists three times! Gods, I do suck. Anyway, thanks for the additional information about pidgins and creoles. I'm surprised to hear that a language can develop a distinct identity in just a handful of generations. Adaptable bunch these humans are.

Jeremy, seeing Kántâl in print makes my day - it's likely the only word that I know how to properly accent!

jwatson19's picture


Two examples from Terra in showing how languages move about. 1)English became the offical language of Law and government in India because prior to the colonial period India had no common language but by the time the British withdrew in 1948 most educated people in India spoke engish as a second language. 2) Pigin English in the south west Pacific as an amalgam of English and Melanesian languages spoken by the natives of the area.

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