Conlangs of a Remembrancer

The Speech of Other Worlds

Archive for the category “Shshi Vocabulary”

Shshi Numeric System

The Shshi have no real mathematics.  Although they are great builders, their engineering skills are instinctive – a genetic heritage from their days as tiny isopteroids.  The members of the Builder Caste are all blind – they make all their blueprints in their heads, with some occasional help from the Alates, who have eyes.

Therefore, their numbering system remains primitive and based on physiology.  Individuals have antennae with 18 segments; their mouth palps have six segments, and they have six legs.  Consequently, they base their numerical thinking on sixes and they have no numbers beyond 36 (the “two-antennae count” as they put it).  After that, they might say “twice the two-antennae count,” but they are more likely to say simply “many” or “much,” which is expressed by reduplication (e.g., “many stones”: shka’zi| shka’zi|) or sometimes by the use of no’no’il| (adverb meaning “very large”) (e.g., “he speaks much [a lot, a great deal]: ma’gano| no’no’il| ||  To the Shshi (whose average lifespan is 20-25 years) anything older than the Mother (36 years is pretty much a maximum age for a Queen) is simply mysterious ancient history.

Because the numbers are rooted on six, the cardinals proceed as follows:

one: kwi|
two: nis| (in combination, sometimes ni|)
three: son|
four: twi|
five: bis| (in combination, sometimes bi|)
six: dos| (in combination, sometimes do|)

seven (becomes the 2nd number one):  nis’kwi|
eight (the 2nd number two):  nis’nis|
nine (the 2nd number three): nis’son|
ten (the 2nd number four): nis’twi|
eleven (the 2nd number five): nis’bis|
twelve (the 2nd number six): nis’dos|

thirteen (the 3rd number one): son’kwi|

nineteen (the 4th number one): twi’kwi|

twenty-three (the 4th number five): twi’bis|

thirty-six (the 6th number 6): dos’dos|

The Ordinals:

first: kwi’zi| (noun); da’kwi (adj.); kwi’zil| (adv.)
It was the first who arrived: fasht| ↻ kwi’zi| vi| fa’krovot| ||
The name of the First Mother was Kwi’zo’ma’na’ta (literally, of First Mother name was … ): ki| da’kwi| ma’na’ta| loi’zi| ⇆ shet|↻ kwi’zo’ma’na’ta| ||
They arrived first:   shfa’krovot| kwi’zil| ||

Second: ni’zi| (noun);  da’ni| (adj.);  ni’zil| (adv.)
The same pattern applies for the other ordinals:
Third: son’zi|, da’zon|, son’zil|, etc.
Fifth and sixth use the shortened form of the cardinal: bi’zi|, do’zi|
Eighth: nis’ni’zi|
Eleventh: nis’bi’zi|
Twelfth: nis’do’zi|

Other numeral related words:

once (literaly, one happening, one time): kwi’zo| (both noun and adv.)
single, only: kwi’a| (adj.)
Once was enough: kwi’zo| shet| if| ||
I have a single stone: sho’tai| ↻  ka’zi| kwi’a| ||
This is the only stone: ku’a’zi|⇆  she| ↻ ka’zi| kwi’a| ||

singly, only: kwi’a’il|
I am only a Worker: sho| ↻ om’zei| kwi’a’il| ||

twice: ni’zo| (literally, two times, two happenings)
double: ni’a| (adj.)
doubly: ni’a’il| (adv.)
twin (two individual hatched from the same egg): ni’a’zei|
pair or couple: nis’zei (personal) or nis’zi (thing)
Twins emerge from one egg: shni’a’zei| |⇆  shfa’gito| kei| kwi| ein| ||
A pair of Warriors approached the rocks (literally, of Warriors pair approached rocks): ki| shpai’zei| nis’zei||⇆ shfa’ya’krovot|↻ shka’zi| ||
A couple of fortresses are beyond the hill (literally, of fortresses couple are beyond hill):  ki| shcha| nis’zi ⇆ shshe| ei| kwai’za’mi| ||

three times, four times, etc., are formed the same way:
three times (thrice): son’zo|
triple, triply: son’a|, son’a’il|
five times (quintuple): bi’zo|
six times: do’zo|


Shshi Vocabulary and Word Formation

This will be a catch-all post where I can periodically add information on vocabulary and provide lists of words.


 I’ve never written enough text in the language to need much slang.  The one curse word that the Termites use all the time is tha’sask|>||, which means “damn!” with > functioning as an emphasis marker, i.e. an exclamation point.  

Another word that could be considered colloquial is da’roit’um|, “infatuated, smitten with hero-worship,” literally, “twist-headed.”  Thus, in the first volume of “The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head,” when the little Worker Twa’sei begs to go with the Champion on its quest, another character says, “Twa’sei is da’roit’um|,” meaning infatuated with the big Warrior.

Gender words

ta’ma’zei|: he-she-person, i.e. a person displaying sexual pheromones (the Alates).
wei’ta’ma’zei|: “non-he-she-person,” i.e. a neuter individual (all Warriors and Workers).
 da’ma|: male (adj.)
da’ta|: female (adj.)
ma’zei| : male person (noun)
ta’zei|: female person (noun)

 Words Related to Offspring

eino|: to lay (an egg); to produce offspring (used for the Queen only, not the King)
ino|: to father or engender an offspring (applied only to the King)
ein’zei|: offspring (when referring to the Queen’s role; used for neuter offspring and for offspring in general)
: offspring (of a male parent) (used for neuter offspring and for offspring in general)
Thus a Warrior would say “I am A’kha’ma’na’ta’s ein’zei| and Sei’o’na’sha’ma’s in’zei|.
ma’ein’zei|: son, male offspring (of a Queen)
ma’in’zei|: son, male offspring (of a King)
ta’ein’zei|: daughter, female offspring (of a Queen)
ta’in’zei|: daughter, female offspring (of a King)

Color Words

The word for “color” is han|. A degree of color is usually indicated in the manner of the word “pink,” by prefixing kom (pale or light in color) or mat (black, dark)  “Gray” is an exception; it has a word of its own.

black: mat|
blue: kha|
brown: pil|
gold, golden: han’gri| [lit., color of the sun; the Shshi place no value on the metal called gold]
gray: zav’mat| [somewhat black]
green: min|
pink: kom’flu| [lit., light or pale red]
orange: flun|
red: flu|
white: ko|
yellow: glon|
purple: gol|

Seasons of the Year

Wet time: gwai’nol| (the rainiest season)
Time of flowers: shra’nol|
Time of drying: su’eish’nol|
Dead time: weio’nol| (the driest season, when nothing grows)
Cold time: chi’nol| (winter)
Time of waiting: la’nol| (when everyone is waiting for the rains to come)


Selection of Words from Dictionary of the Shshi Language

akh|: world or ground
akh’dogo|: to drag, lit., to ground-pull
akh’jav’zi|: earthiness, tasting of the earth or soil, lit., ground-flavor
akh’ka’zi|: paving, lit., ground-stone
akh’oi’mi|: coast, shore, lit., ground-edge
akht’huo|: to bury, lit., to dig and cover
akhto|: to dig

a’nei|: before (prep., temporal sense)
a’nei’bag’on’zi|: road, lit., a path made before [before (a’nei|) made (bag, from bago|, to build, make, manufacture, construct) path (on’zi|)] This word is interesting in that it doesn’t exist at the time of the Earthers’ first visit to the termite planet.  We see its origins in v.2 of “The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head.”
a’nei’galto|: to foretell or prophesy
a’nei’nof|: yesterday (lit., before-day)
a’nei’vaino|: to inherit (lit., to before-take)
a’nei’vain’zei|: heir (lit., before-taker)
a’nei’zei|: ancestor (lit., before-person) (pl. sha’nei’zei|: ancestors,also lineage, heritage)

ao’gwai’mi|: pond, pool, lake (lit., still water)
ao’paio|: to besiege, to set a siege (lit., to still-battle)
ao’pai’zi|: siege, lit., a still [or static] fight

ar [da’ar|]: heavy (adj.)
ar’zei|: heavy one, also reptile (applied generically to any large reptile)

arg [da’arg|]: narrow, tight, constricted, close, cramped (adj.)
arg’akh’mi|: peninsula [lit., narrow-land place]
argo|: to narrow, close in, close up, tighten; also to squeeze or constrict
arg’vist’tro|: to caulk or mortar (lit., to crack-fill]
arg’vist’zi|: crack or chink [lit., narrow space]

a’shof|: artificial, false, fake
a’shof’wum|: armor [lit., artificial chitin; a word constructed by Di’fa’kro’mi]

a’tas’zi|: magic [lit, a thing with a lack of rules, from tas’zi| (noun), rule, law, natural process, also used to mean government.]

av|: yes
da’av|: positive (adj.)
av’av|: of course, certainly [an emphatic yes]
av’il|: positively (adv.)

baf’akhto|: to tunnel, lit., to tunnel-dig
bak’gwai’zi|: mortar-gland water (the secretion of the bak’zi|)
bak’zi|: mortar gland (secretory organ on Builder Subcastes’ heads)

baro|: to own, possess
da’bar|: owned, possessed (idiomatic usage: It belongs to me [lit., it is owned of me]:  fa’she| ↳ da’bar| ki’sho| ||

ba’zi|: gland (usually used in compounds, as hai’ba’zi :scent gland)

biro|: to decay, rot, spoil
bir’zha|: the vision fungus (lit., sour gut, from its smell)

bu’re|: reeds, sedge (lit., river grass; used for weaving and making baskets)


ra’sof’zei|: flower-sitter, an insect similar to a butterfly

vruno|: to believe; na| means “holy”; wei’na| is “unholy,” thus “blasphemous, impious, or sacrilegious.” Then we have wei’na’vrun|, “faithless or unbelieving,” and wei’na’vrun’zei|, or “infidel, a person who does not believe.”

weio’so| is “dead body or corpse”; weio’so’mi| is the Charnel Hall, or “corpse-place,” and weio’so’zei| is “corpse-person,” i.e., the name of the Subcaste of Workers who take care of the disposition of the dead.




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